New series on ChessLecture

by admin on December 31, 2007

You heard about it here first! In my next ChessLecture (which should go up either tomorrow or sometime this week), I will announce a new series that will begin in January 2008, called “Learn from your Fellow Amateurs.” I’m going to ask ChessLecture subscibers to send in their most instructive, interesting, or exciting games, and I will select one game each month to be the topic of my lecture. The administrators of ChessLecture liked this idea so much that they will offer a free month of service on ChessLecture for each month’s winner! I’m very excited about this and I am hoping that subscribers will jump at the chance to share their games.

This idea grew out of Andy Hortillosa’s comments on my post, Thinking about books, plus his off-blog e-mails to me. This is a great example of synergy between my blog and my ChessLectures! Perhaps I can collect enough good examples of amateur games in this way to provide the raw material for a book. But even if that doesn’t come to pass, a regular monthly lecture on listener-submitted games is one of those ideas that’s so obviously good that you wonder why no one ever did it before.

In the 1990s, I spent a couple years as Games Editor for the Ohio Chess Bulletin. It was a lot of work, and surprisingly it wasn’t all that easy to get good games for the publication. Some of the larger tournaments had boxes where players were supposed to turn in their scoresheets, and if the tournament directors were affiliated with the Ohio Chess Association they would often let me rummage through the box or just take it home at the end of the tournament. Of course, the scoresheets would often be hard to read, or would contain mistakes. And even if the score was kept impeccably, how was I supposed to know, out of a box of 100 scoresheets, which were the one or two best games? Generally I would just play through the games of the prizewinners and pick out one or two of them.

The magazine also asked for reader submissions, of course, but what came in was very sporadic and of uneven quality. It was hard to not print a reader submission after we had gone to the trouble of begging for submissions! So we’d print it all, good or bad.

I think that this ChessLecture series will be much more satisfying. Because I’m only lecturing on one game a month, everyone will understand there is some quality control. We’ll have a broader audience than the Ohio Chess Bulletin ever did, of course, and I hope the reward of a free month subscription will motivate more people to send in their best or most interesting games. We’ll see!

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Randy December 31, 2007 at 4:34 pm

I think that’s a good idea, show us pitfalls we should avoid. By the way, I’d like to see a Tactical Motifs lecture on quiet moves and building mating nets.

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Rob January 1, 2008 at 3:32 am

I like this idea Dana.

I would like to think that one of my games might be interesting, but everytime I get excited about a game of mine (a win, of course) and after closer examination, I find that I did not so much as win it, but rather my opponent lost the game.
I get a bit deflated.

Oh well, I will keep your request in mind and perhaps with improved play on my part it I may become part of something that is instructive,
interesting, or exciting.

Happy New Year to you. Keep the good work. I enjoy both your lectures and your blog.

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dribbling January 1, 2008 at 3:47 pm

Sounds like an excellent idea.

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Andy Hortillosa January 2, 2008 at 10:46 am

I will submit my second game from the recently concluded North Amercian Open in Las Vegas. I came back with a detached retina. It started during the third round of the tournament which I lost. I started having difficulty seeing. I had emergency surgery on my right eye Sunday. I can barely see what I am typing so I ask for understanding from your readers if I grossly misspell something here. It will take two weeks for my vision to come back. It is hard to see with just one eye. I briefly spoke to GM Kraai and told him that I am a happy subscriber to ChessLecture.com. By the way I won my first two games and was seeded on board one in the Under 2100 section against the guy who eventually won the section. My only regret was not being in the best condition in my game against him. Around this point, I already lost half of my vision on my right eye.

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Andy Hortillosa January 2, 2008 at 11:03 am

Here is a game I played in 2000 against a Brithish player who had just won a game against one of the British grandmasters weeks before this tournament. Andrew Hammond has wond this tournament at least once. It is not unusual to see titled players in the NATO torunament like FMs, IMs and GMs. So for Hammond to have won it at least once speaks about his stregngth. This game was played in the first round. It was not a good year for him. This game by the way is listed in Chessbase and the New In Chess online database.

[Event “NATO-ch 11th”]
[Site “Leopoldsburg”]
[Date “2000.??.??”]
[Round “1”]
[White “Hammond, Andrew JC”]
[Black “Hortillosa, Andres”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “E38”]
[WhiteElo “2193”]
[PlyCount “58”]
[EventDate “2000.10.??”]
[EventType “swiss”]
[EventRounds “7”]
[EventCountry “BEL”]
[Source “ChessBase”]
[SourceDate “2000.11.22”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 c5 5. dxc5 Na6 6. a3 Bxc3+ 7. Qxc3 Nxc5 8.
f3 d6 9. e4 e5 10. Be3 Qc7 11. Nh3 Bxh3 12. gxh3 Ne6 13. Rg1 h6 14. h4 Nh5 15.
Rc1 b6 16. b4 Qe7 17. c5 Rc8 18. Bb5+ Kf8 19. cxb6 Rxc3 20. Rxc3 Kg8 21. Rc8+
Kh7 22. Rxh8+ Kxh8 23. bxa7 Qb7 24. Be8 Nd4 25. Bxf7 Nf4 26. Bxd4 exd4 27. Rg4
Nd3+ 28. Kd2 Ne5 29. Rf4 Qxa7 0-1

I apologize for the spelling errors or grammar errors.I trust my typing is good.

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admin January 2, 2008 at 12:49 pm

Andy, I was amazed to hear that a detached retina could come on in the middle of a game like that! I hope that you’re doing better. Did the doctors say anything about the prognosis? Will you recover completely?

I’ll put your game submission in with the others, when they start coming in. There should be information on the ChessLecture web page very soon about how to submit games.

Rob, the games don’t have to be your best games or perfectly played; games with instructive mistakes (either by you or your opponents) are fine.

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Carina January 4, 2008 at 4:58 am

I played a pretty interesting game yesterday, that was ridden with mistakes. The end position was a draw, but my opponent who was much higher rated than me wished to play on, since one of my mistakes was abandoning the initiative and also he knew his understanding of the position was much better than mine. I eventually did blunder, well I had 3 minutes left, but yea.. no excuse, I should probably still have rocks thrown at me. 😆 I’ll post the game eventually, when I have enough time to spare to dive into the kettle of confused strategy/planning again. Today I’m just nursing my wounds. I wish somebody would make a lecture about how we can learn to lose without losing psychologically as well. I can’t think of anything that’s as depressing as a game lost in the last 10 minutes of a 5-hour fight, especially when you have noone to blame it on but yourself! It’s like being out of touch with reality on the chess board and instead putting our faith in hallucinations and delusions is a monstrous crime that we in the real world can get away with, but at the board it’s just so cruelly obvious how limited our understand is when we don’t look at things honestly, because you can’t just leap two squares with the King and avoid checkmate, there’s no way around it. It would be great if the worst thing about chess wasn’t losing, I wish there was some advice about how to handle it better – especially the times when the game is lost because of an unforgivable lapse of reason. 🙁

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admin January 4, 2008 at 3:23 pm

Hi Carina,
I agree that “How to Bounce Back from a Loss” would be a good ChessLecture topic. Unfortunately, I’m not very qualified to talk about it, because this is (I think) one of my Achilles’ heels. After I lose a game I often play weakly the next game, and lose that one too. It would be nice to find someone who is good at bouncing back from a loss and find out how they do it.

I think it would be good to figure out what thought patterns caused you to lose last night. From your description, I think that one problem was that you felt that you had already earned the draw. You had mentally chalked up the 1/2 point, and you resented your opponent for continuing to play. (Perhaps I’m wrong, but I’m trying to read between the lines here.)

Here I would say, first of all, don’t award yourself that 1/2 point so easily. Second, it might help to apply the “theory of infinite resistance” that Jonathan Rowson writes about in his book, “The Seven Deadly Chess Sins.” The theory is that you will put up infinite resistance to all of your opponent’s winning efforts. You turn your _opponent’s_ advantage (whether it’s an advantage in position or in rating) into your _own_ advantage, because you realize that your opponent psychologically needs to win, and the longer that win continues to elude him, the more pressure there will be on him. The great thing about this “infinite resistance” idea is that sometimes your opponent will try so hard to win that he will make a mistake, and then you will win. Nothing is sweeter than actually winning a game where for a long time you were hoping at most to draw.

It goes without saying that one aspect of putting up “infinite resistance” is avoiding time trouble. You cannot play your best if you are low on time.

Finally, it is usually a mistake to give up the initiative and opt for passive defense. Defense is much, much harder, and if you are defending passively then your opponent is justified in playing on as long as he feels like it.

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dribbling January 4, 2008 at 3:40 pm

Carina, it’s difficult to give advice on how to cope with losing, which is never fun, but I’ll give it a try.

You might start by deciding that from now on you will forgive yourself for your mistakes – which you call “unforgivable lapses of reason”. I take it that you are frequently willing to forgive others, so learn to forgive yourself too. I am sure you will succeed; it’s really very easy if you try.

“Putting our faith in hallucinations and delusions” is certainly impractical and harmful to one’s own interest, but I would certainly hesitate to think of it as a “monstrous crime.” I mean, come on… :-;

“Especially when you have none to blame on it but yourself” is, in my opinion, simply not true. Your opponent has had a lot to do with it. Suppose you had been playing Kramnik.

Here’s a better way to feel about your loss: I have just played a pretty interesting game against an opponent who is much higher rated than me and clearly has a better understanding of the game. I managed to reach a drawn position after five hours of play and only lost by blundering in time trouble. I did well, but I need to do better. I’ll think about improving my time management, and look into other causes of the final blunder so that I won’t repeat it in the future. I’ll work, and work, and work on improving my game and I’ll get him next time, or the time after that, or the time after that, or who knows when, but I’ll get him eventually. Smile, Carina, we’re on the right track.

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Carina January 5, 2008 at 6:54 am

Oh, the reason I lost was mainly bad endgame technique. I forgot the lesson about Rooks wanting to be behind passed Pawns, and so I allowed him to bring it there, and had to get my own Rook in front of his Pawn. Oddly enough, I feel better when my Rook is in front of the enemy passed Pawn because I figure then he’ll never get my Rook out again, and thus queening is impossible. But that’s an idea I have from my early years, and I should think more about activity and initative now. It may be true that he’ll never dislodge my Rook, but doesn’t my Rook have better things to do then play a stone.. The final mistake was capturing the Pawn and allowing a Rook trade. I had seen the position our Kings would reach at the other side of the board where I had 2 Pawns – that I had allowed to become frozen by his one Pawn, again losing initiative. But even though I had seen it, the conclusion I reached about it before going into it was wrong. I actually thought I was trading into a won position, when it was in fact lost. He gobbled up the h-Pawn and when I realized he could zugzwang me away from the 2 remaining Pawns, I resigned.

Thanks for the constructive critisism. 🙂 I still don’t think my opponent has any right to have anything to do with me losing, though. He was rated 2200 and I’m 1900, but that doesn’t matter. He was superior in every aspect of the game (tactics and endgame knowledge was where I was most outplayed) except time management, he came within 2 seconds of flagging at move 40. That’s actually one sort of melodrama I could do without. Either flag or stay clear of it, but don’t leave me guessing about which one it’ll be! 😀 I actually think that if I had been more ruthless, I could have flagged him by moving faster. This is a kind of chess dicipline I once had, but have forgotten about while away from the game. I’m grateful to play a ruthless opponent though, because it reminds me of to do things, to leave nice for after the game. 🙂 When I get in time trouble myself, it’s usually not because I’ve been so busy thinking that I’ve used up all more time. It’s because I’m following my opponent into it, lacking my own rythm.

The 7 Deadly Chess Sins seems like a really good book, I bought it a while ago but it’s not on my immediate to-read list (I’m reading ‘The Wandering King’ about Bobby Fischer right now). I’ve got about 100 chess books now, which is kind of overwhelming, but atleast I know what to entertain myself with for the next couple of years. 😀

I’m luckily not the type of player who takes points/draw for granted. I think my problem is more along the lines that I don’t expect to win, I more expect to lose, which sometimes becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because it encourages passive and unimaginative play.

That it’s harder to defend than to attack is something I’m only now realizing. Attacking is not really my comfort zone, because it involves uncertainty and risk. It’s funny, because I’m usually not the type of person who shies away from the unknown, but I was when I was 14 years old, and it’s like the part of my who plays chess is still that age, my chess-self missed out on the lessons and evolution that happened after I quit, so there’s a lot of catching up to do. Luckily I’m learning my lessons fast, since I’ve already learned them in things like sports and art. Offtopic, but I’m drawing a picture of Kasparov right now. 😀 If I could only transfer what I know works in the rest of my life to when I play/study chess, I think I could have much improvement, because the failures I have in chess have to do with ancient thinking and patterns.

I think that this will be one of the missions for 2008: rooting out a 100 bad habits by connecting the truths of my different hobbies!

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Carina January 5, 2008 at 7:12 am

Oh by the way, we both had 3 minutes left when I captured the poisoned Pawn at the end.

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admin January 5, 2008 at 10:07 am

Sounds as if I was a little bit mistaken in my comments. I think that dribbling’s comments, though, are very thoughtful.

Probably some specific endgame study would be useful for you. Transitions (e.g., from rook endgames to king endgames) always need to be considered carefully, because often a pawn formation that is okay in one endgame is not okay in another.

As you said, in R+P endgames the defending rook is almost always better behind the passed pawn than in front. This is something you’ll just have to convince yourself of, just as beginners have to convince themselves that 1. a4 isn’t a good way to start the game. The game you just played maybe a useful thing to remember the next time you are convinced to put the rook in front of the pawn.

I think I’m almost the opposite of you in my attitude towards risk. In real life I tend to be a little bit risk-averse. But I have come to the conclusion that chess is actually biased in some subtle way towards the attacker and the risk-taker. This may be less true at the grandmaster level, but it is definitely true at the amateur level and it is even more true at faster time controls. So in chess I have a risk-taking style. I actually enjoy the fact that in chess I can give free rein to the more risk-taking side of my personality, which I usually keep under wraps in real life.

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Carina January 5, 2008 at 12:55 pm

I’ll defnitely be thinking about this game in the next endgame I have. I actually had an opportunity to go into a dead-draw position by not creating an imbalance by capturing a h-Pawn and allowing him to capture my a-Pawn so he got his passed Pawn. If I had defended the a-Pawn instead of going to the Kingside, it would have been drawn. But I figured I’d play for a win, although I didn’t really have any plan. I feel like I’m suffering from schizofrenia when I’m making decision in my games, there’s the player I used to be and then the player that will be. Chosing to imbalance what was otherwise simply drawn was just rebellion against passive/boring play (in other words, an emotional decision and not objectivity = stupid, costing me the draw), and earlier in the game I gave up an exchange for a Pawn and a Bishop against his Knight imbalance, which was also a losing choise, but I’m trying to be less materialistic, and there’s a saying in Denmark that exaggeration promotes understanding.. I DID manage to make the Bishop better than any Rook when he got in time trouble though, so he had to sac back on it. That’s a new concept for me as well, I’m pretty sure it’s inspired by some video at chesslecture.com, where this happened (a “bad Bishop” supported by its own Pawn chain and planted in the opponents ranks). 😎 When I was rigidly materialistic, I never thought my opponent would sac a piece worth more points for an active one of mine. Now I can actually expect him to. 😀

I think the psychological observations we can make in chess is one of the coolest things about the game. Style and personality is linked together in so many different ways in different people. Chess is just another way of talking, and it’s funny to see what people have to say with their pieces. 😀 We all express ourselves differently. I need to learn some more words in this difficult language, so I can stop pronouncing it all wrong in my games. 😆

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dribbling January 5, 2008 at 6:49 pm

“I still don’t think my opponent has any right to have anything to do with me losing, though. He was rated 2200 and I’m 1900, but that doesn’t matter.”
Yes, well, Carina, before the game starts it matters a lot, the difference in rating means that statistically your opponent has the better chance. Before the game starts no savvy bettor will put up even money on you. However, I agree that it is another story after you have reached a drawn position after five hours of play. But again, suppose that tomorrow, by a freak, you are pitted against, say, Anand. Would he have anything to do with your losing? Or take your post on the Obnoxious Opponent in which you are practically saying that you were beaten before the game started. In an ideal world it appears to be true that if we make no mistakes we will at least draw, but we live in a less than ideal world. Takes two to tango; the belief that we are in full control of the result is probably an illusion, even at the highest level. Play the board, not the man, is easier said than done.

“He was superior in every aspect of the game (tactics and endgame knowledge was where I was most outplayed) except time management, he came within 2 seconds of flagging at move 40.”

I would argue that your opponent came very close to achieving optimal time management. It is good that you know where you were outplayed, because now you know that you have to work, work, work, on tactics, tactics, tactics and endgames, endgames, endgames. Someone said that chess is 99% tactics. The endgame is where you make half a point from a lost position, or a full point from a drawn position, which is what your opponent did to you.

If you work hard you’ll make 2200, but not tomorrow. We’ll all be rooting for you. 🙂

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Carina January 6, 2008 at 7:35 am

But I have this Jesse Kraai quote to prove I’m right! He says in a lecture about training programs, that “Chess is like psychotherapy, only more painful because in psychotherapy you can blame your parents, in chess you can only blame yourself.”

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Carina January 6, 2008 at 7:48 am

I’ve by the way finished my Kasparov drawing. 😛

http://tegnebordet.dk/tegninger/10000/1199634174.jpg

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dribbling January 6, 2008 at 11:46 pm

Cool Kasparov portrait!

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Carina January 7, 2008 at 12:37 am

Thanks! 😀 I’m doing Bobby Fischer now.

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Andy Hortillosa January 7, 2008 at 12:25 pm

Awesome work, Carina. You are indeed exceptionally gifted. Would you consider designing a logo for a high school chess team? I donate chess sets to high school kids in the Philippines. I am thinking of donating t-shirts and hats for the kids as well. The school has no official logo. My vision on my right eye has not returned so it is hard to post here. The doctor says it can take another 10 days.

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Carina January 8, 2008 at 12:52 am

I could try, but I don’t think I’m good at designing logos. Do you have a description of what it might look like?

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