What Could be Better Than Josh Friedel? More Josh Friedel!

On today’s episode of Perpetual Chess Ben Johnson interviewed my friend and coach Josh Friedel.

You can listen to that interview here, or wherever you get your podcasts from!

This winds up being quite timely since Josh just started a weekly YouTube chess improvement series called “autopsy” in which he breaks down a game to describe what the “cause of death” (the loss) was.

This doesn’t necessarily mean the blunder that ended the game.  Instead it can mean what went wrong from a strategic standpoint to cause the blunder.

Here are the first two episodes of Autopsy.

Fair warning, the first one has some minor technical difficulties which are largely corrected in the second one.

I assume they’ll continue to get even better as time goes by!

I hope you enjoy all of this as much as I did!

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

If you like this blog, please consider becoming a Patreon supporter.  Any money I raise will go towards lessons and stronger tournaments.

If you can spare it, please click here and become a supporter.  Even $1 a month can help me achieve my dream.

Solving Studies

For the past several days I have been working on solving at least a few studies each day in order to work on improving my calculation.

I have been taking Andrzej Krzywda’s advice and using Kasparian’s Domination in 2,545 Endgame Studies book.  I give myself ten minutes on the clock and then I start calculating.  When the ten minutes is up then I stop and whatever I have for the solution is what I go with.

I have yet to get a single one completely correct (meaning main variation and any sidelines), although in many of them I have at least found the main idea.  I’m assuming that as I spend more and more time on this that the accuracy will eventually come.

Here is my favorite one so far!  Have fun!

It should be noted that the studies in this book are designed to be relatively simple rather than insanely hard.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

If you like this blog, please consider becoming a Patreon supporter.  Any money I raise will go towards lessons and stronger tournaments.

If you can spare it, please click here and become a supporter.  Even $1 a month can help me achieve my dream.

Let Andrzej Show You The Way – With Chessable!

Long time readers of this blog have probably heard me mention Ben Johnson’s podcast Perpetual Chess.

I really enjoy the podcast, and I typically get a lot of interesting tidbits out of the interviews.  There have been interviews with people I have been friends with for years where I still learn all kinds of cool information.

This week’s episode was a bit different from the normal interview of either a titled player or someone running a chess business.  This week Ben kicked off his Adult Improver series where he will conduct interviews from time to time with adults who are working to improve as players.

For the inaugural episode he chose Polish CM Andrzej Krzywda.  Andrzej is an interesting case study.  He’s 38 with a wife and two young kids and spent around 20 years being rated 2100 FIDE.  Three years or so ago he decided to pursue the IM title.

Recently he made an IM norm with a 2579 TPR in a strong round robin event.

He wrote about the experience in this Reddit post.

Here is the interview itself.  Listen to it as you will be amazed by Andrzej and his work ethic and dedication.  I know I was!

One of the things that Andrzej mentions several times in his interview is the site https://www.chessable.com/ 

I started using this site a few days ago for openings work, and oh wow has it already made a massive difference.

I’ve never been one to enjoy studying openings.  I used to have a phenomenal memory, but these days it’s maybe slightly above average at best, so I just never felt like putting in the work I felt it would take to learn lines cold.

Since I also tend to play really sharp stuff at times this was leading to some truly avoidable issues where I was getting terrible positions making basic mistakes.

So I started using chessable to build a repertoire.  I can tell you that the process will be slow going because it does take a bit of work to add your lines to the site (unless you have pgn files which you can just import) but I can already tell it will be well worth it.

After only four days I have an extremely sharp line I play as White memorized 22 moves deep – and it’s sticking in my memory!

Once I get all of the sharp stuff I play into chessable and get in the habit of drilling it daily until it’s a part of my chessic DNA I’m expecting to finally perform at or above my rating in the openings.

Naturally I don’t plan on suddenly spending all of my time working on openings.  That would be an anathema to the way I work on chess.  However, with chessable it seems like I won’t have to.  Because of the way it drills you on your lines and then repeatedly has you go over moves that you missed it doesn’t take much time to be able to solidify the ideas in your head.

Of course you can also use chessable for endgames, tactics, books, etc.

I heartily recommend that everyone try it out.  Just join and grab one of their free opening books and go through it.  Right away you’ll have a great feel of how the site works and how they will do the repetitive drilling to help with memorization.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

If you like this blog, please consider becoming a Patreon supporter.  Any money I raise will go towards lessons and stronger tournaments.

If you can spare it, please click here and become a supporter.  Even $1 a month can help me achieve my dream.

GM Huschenbeth Shows How to Solve Tactics

German GM Huschenbeth shows the correct approach to take to solving.

I really enjoy watching strong players show their approaches to calculation.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

If you like this blog, please consider becoming a Patreon supporter.  Any money I raise will go towards lessons and stronger tournaments.

If you can spare it, please click here and become a supporter.  Even $1 a month can help me achieve my dream.

Simple But Elegant

Here is a nice game played in Round One of the Budapest 1896 tournament.  This game was won by Polish master Dawid Janowski, who at that time was an up and coming player.

First, the position which is White to play and win.  The solution is simple, but it’s very demonstrative of the inherent beauty which lies within the heart of every chess game.

Here is the entire game to enjoy!

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

If you like this blog, please consider becoming a Patreon supporter.  Any money I raise will go towards lessons and stronger tournaments.

If you can spare it, please click here and become a supporter.  Even $1 a month can help me achieve my dream.

Don’t Be Too Dogmatic

Here is a position from a blitz game I just played.  After all the grief yesterday about cramped positions, here I decide to be overly dogmatic.

My opponent has just played 15.Ng5 and I never really gave serious consideration to taking the knight.

Why?  Because somewhere in the back of my mind it’s ingrained that when you have the bishop pair you should keep it.

Yet if I just take, playing 15…Bxg5 16.fxg5 Nf7 then my position is fine.

As beginners we learn all these “rules” about chess.  Strong players know when to ignore those rules.

Time to get back to work!

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

If you like this blog, please consider becoming a Patreon supporter.  Any money I raise will go towards lessons and stronger tournaments.

If you can spare it, please click here and become a supporter.  Even $1 a month can help me achieve my dream.

Some Fun Photos Over The Years

Here are some fun photos from the past couple of years.

This on was from a late night party at the St. Louis Chess Club after the final round of the Sinquefield Cup 2016.  GM Priyadharshan Kannappan was playing blitz with MVL.

In 2017 it was no longer necessary to wait until the club closed at night to cut loose.  This is at one of the chess houses the club owns and was taken after the final night of the 2017 US Championships.  Don’t worry, Mesgen isn’t drinking all of those drinks by himself!

Later that year, after the end of Sinquefield Cup 2017 Naka and Eric Hansen were playing some blitz.  Here Aronian has just come and asked Eric to move so that he could get in on the action.

One of the more impressive things I’ve seen.  Here Hikaru is playing Robert Hess at 1-5 time odds (Hikaru has one minute to Hess’s five).  Also after Sinquefield 2017.  They played until around 5:00 in the morning.  I left around 4:00 and heard from Hikaru the next day that after all was said and done they finished on an even score!

Eric Hansen had to catch a flight for Spain early that morning, but stayed all night to watch this, giving himself just enough time to get to the airport.  He later said that watching this inspired him and has made him play faster in OTB blitz games.

The night before the final round of the 2018 US Championships.  Former lineman for the Baltimore Ravens and current PhD candidate at MIT John Urschel is getting an informal lesson from IM Eric Rosen.

More Hansen and Naka blitz.  This is the next night after the Championships are over.  Eric really likes to play Hikaru even though he knows that he’s mostly just “food” in these situations.  He is playing on his knees because he just really wants to play.  After a few games like this we found him a chair.

Funny story, if you look to the left of Eric’s glass you’ll see a xiangqi piece.  Two black pawns were missing so Yasser grabbed a couple of pieces out of the xiangqi set.  What makes it really funny is that later than night we learned that there were ten spare sets in one of the closets!

I am so grateful to the chess world for allowing me to have some of these experiences.

I’ve made so many friends and had a lot of fun over the years.

I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

If you like this blog, please consider becoming a Patreon supporter.  Any money I raise will go towards lessons and stronger tournaments.

If you can spare it, please click here and become a supporter.  Even $1 a month can help me achieve my dream.

The Deeper Purpose of Tactics

Why do we study tactics?  Is it so we can spot mistakes and win material?

Sure, that’s a part of it.  But only a part.

There are much deeper purposes.  For instance, let’s take a position from my blitz game we just looked at in the last post…

Seeing tactical patterns helps with strategic ideas, like knowing I can ignore the threat of 22.Qe7 since after 22…Qx37 23.Rxe7 I play 23…Bf6 and win material.

It’s also for a position like this.  You’re White in an OTB American tournament and you have two seconds on your clock so all you have to play on here is your five second delay.

Knowing tactical patterns well will let you keep from putting your king on the same color square as your queen pretty much without thinking, taking away any chance of a knight fork by your opponent regardless of how little time you have.

This is why tactics are so important in chess.  Even when they don’t appear on the board, they exist within the variations, to paraphrase Alexei Shirov.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

If you like this blog, please consider becoming a Patreon supporter.  Any money I raise will go towards lessons and stronger tournaments.

If you can spare it, please click here and become a supporter.  Even $1 a month can help me achieve my dream.

It’s Never Quite as Bleak as it Seems

I just finished playing a blitz game which seems fairly instructive.

First, let’s look at the whole game:

Now, let’s break this down into some components…

Here is a position coming out of the opening.  It’s Black to move…

Here I felt like I was extremely cramped.  Like I *must* exchange on d5 *or else* – I’m sure you all know the feeling I’m speaking of.

But it’s not really that bad.  In fact, if I can get the dark square bishops off the board and play …e5 then I’m not nearly as cramped as I was before.

For instance…

11…Ng4 12.Bxg7 Kxg7 13.h3 Nge5 14.Bc2 Nxf3+ 15.Nxf3 e5

OK, White appears to be better here, but this position seems much easier to play.  Key word here though is “seems.”

A few moves later in this position I become desperate to reroute my pieces and I play 14…Bc8.

The problem is that White can swap off a pair of rooks and grab the e-file in a way that really cramps me with:

15.Rxe8+ Nxe8 16.Re1 Nef6 17.h3 and here my pieces are restricted and I’m going to struggle a bit.

My opponent doesn’t see this, and a few moves later we have this on the board:

At this point I’m seeing ghosts.  I play 20…a6 trying to get some counterplay going on the queenside, but the reality is that I have a simple way of eliminating what I am perceiving as the threat of Qe7.  I can just play 20…Nd7, then if 21.Qe7 I force the queen back with 21…Bf6

The problem is that 20…a6 is too slow.  Here they can play 21.Qe7 and now 21…Nd7 no longer works because I’ll never get …Bf6 is, ala 22.Ng5 Rf8 and now there are sacrificial ideas on h5:

Instead my opponent plays 21.Ng5 and here I decide that since I’m in such desperate straits I’m going to lash out and try to regroup, so I play 21…h6 22.Nf3 g5 and here the mouse slip happens.  However, this position is dead won for White.

Either 23.Nf5 or better yet 23.h4 should lead to a quick demise.

But there’s a problem here…let’s go back to this position which we just saw…

I can just play 21…Rb8 and now e7 is tactically protected.  If 22.Qe7 then 22…Qxe7 23.Rxe7 Bf6 wins.

More to the point, after 21…Rb8 I can play …b5 soon and get some actual counterplay going.

The moral of the story?  Had I not been feeling like my position was garbage for the last several moves I would have been more objective and not felt the need to lash out in perceived desperation.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

If you like this blog, please consider becoming a Patreon supporter.  Any money I raise will go towards lessons and stronger tournaments.

If you can spare it, please click here and become a supporter.  Even $1 a month can help me achieve my dream.

 

A Game to be Proud Of

This past Thursday at the Southwest Chess Club I finally played a game I feel that I can be proud of.

Perhaps this is a sign that things are turning around as my strategic play was off the charts in this game compared to how I normally play, and for me that’s been such as rare thing.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

If you like this blog, please consider becoming a Patreon supporter.  Any money I raise will go towards lessons and stronger tournaments.

If you can spare it, please click here and become a supporter.  Even $1 a month can help me achieve my dream.