Wainscott-Haining 1-0

This past Thursday I continued my return to form with a  nice win.  I felt good about finding 14.b4 as that tells me that my positional understanding is getting much better.

The Generosity of Hikaru Nakamura

The Second Annual Sevan Muradian Memorial is fast approaching thanks to the hard work and dedication of Glenn Panner and Daniel Parmet, among others.

The best part about this tournament is that any profits go to Sevan’s widow and daughters.

A couple of weeks ago I had the idea that it would be cool to hold a silent auction to help raise some additional funds.  I figured that between Daniel, Glenn, and myself we know enough chess world people to be able to get a few things signed.  Sadly this idea came too late in order to really maximize it, but I figured anything would help.

So I reached out to Hikaru and asked if he’d sign a couple of boards for the auction.  I know that Hikaru had a lot of respect for Sevan, and so I wasn’t surprised when he quickly and enthusiastically offered to do so.

Since he was going to be playing in St. Louis for the Champions Showdown (which is currently taking place as I write this) the plan was for me to send the boards to him there.

Yesterday he messaged me to say that the boards arrived.  And that’s when it happened…

He asked if there was a fund for Sevan.  I said that there was a gofundme for his daughters immediately after Sevan died, but that had been closed for some time, but that the profits from this tournament would be donated to the family.

“OK, I’ll match what you raise.”

It’s not often that I find myself having a hard time finding something to say, but this was one of those times.

When all is said and done, Hikaru will be personally matching funds raised, up to $3,000 for this event.

So if you haven’t registered to play yet, please do so.  You’ll have a four time US Champion who’s been a top ten GM for years backing you up.

What an amazing act of generosity.  I’m proud to call Hikaru a friend.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

 

OMG Ding Liren!

I’m almost done with the main project I have been working on which has taken up so much of my time.

So in the next few days you can expect me to be back to training and posting on a much more regular basis.

I have some nice stuff to post, including what’s probably the best endgame I’ve ever played in my life – certainly in terms of devising a plan and using tactical means to pull it off.

In the meantime, if you haven’t heard about this, you will soon.  Ding Liren set the chess world on fire yesterday with his brilliant win in the Chinese League over Bai Jinshi.

Here’s video analysis of the game:

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

Been in the Bunker for a While

It’s been a while I posted here.  This isn’t because I’ve lost interest in chess and improving, it’s because I’ve been busy with many chess-related projects which have taken some time away from being able to blog.

For those who subscribe to American Chess Magazine, you may have noticed that I am now an Associate Editor there.  My first piece ran in the most recent issue (a profile of the Webster University team) and I spent a lot of time finishing up my second piece, which will run in the next issue.

I am also working for the first time as editor on an upcoming chess book.  That hasn’t taken a ton of time yet, but it will over the coming weeks.

Playing wise I’m finally back on the upswing.  I seem to have this pattern which repeats where I gain a ton of points, drop 150, then go 100+ past the prior high water mark before repeating.  If that’s the case here, then hopefully this will be the surge that eventually takes me over 1900.

I also plan on setting up a plan to get to 2000.  I’ve been researching the process of learning itself so that I can hopefully put together a training plan in a proper way.

One thing which I have been doing for a week or so now is I saw this class by IM Danny Rensch where he gave the tip that if a student has a plan, like say “Today I’m going to do 30 minutes of tactics and then 30 minutes on rook endings” that he recommends you develop the discipline to finish what you have planned before allowing yourself to move on to the next thing.

As an example, let’s say you’re working on the 30 minutes of tactics and you get several in a row wrong and you’re frustrated and want to say “forget this” and move on to the endgames.  Under Rensch’s methodology this isn’t allowed.  You have to develop the discipline to finish the first thing before you can move on to the next.

What’s interesting with this philosophy is that it drove home the point to me that I waffle a lot in my study.  I start out intending to do one thing, then wind up doing many things that weren’t on the list originally.  This really made me see how unorganized my study has been.

I think that perhaps the issue I’ve been having of late is that it’s easier to get away with unfocused study up to a point.  Since you need to learn approximately five times less to go from 1500-1600 than you do to go from 1800-1900 it’s easier to get there even while more or less drifting through study sessions.

So far I’ve had sessions that consisted of:

30 minutes of tactics, followed by playing through an annotated game in a line I play.

30 minutes of tactics, followed by playing through the Game of the Century

30 minutes of tactics followed by playing through an annotated game in the most recent New in Chess.

120 minutes of tactics

30 minutes of tactics followed by 60 minutes on rook endings.

As you can see, I’m still working heavily on tactics in my study routine.  It’s interesting because I’ve been focusing on this heavily for the past couple of years, but this week I realized that I like to only do a handful and then just move on to something else in an unfocused way.

That’s not going to work to get to Expert.  And clearly Expert is the next main step on the road to master.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

Rounds 5-8 Isle of Aman

Sorry for the lack of updates here recently, but between Thursday playing and directing, Friday family stuff, and yesterday finishing an article for American Chess Magazine I wasn’t able to keep up as well as I would have liked to.

Round five saw Aman paired against Armenian GM Gabriel Sargissian.  Aman needed a win to realistically keep his hopes alive, but unfortunately the noted endgame player Sargissian ground him down in a more or less equal ending.

In round six Aman had Black vs. English IM David Eggleston.  Aman played his third different response to 1.e4 in this tournament, this time essaying the Sicilian Kan.

Once he secured a passed c pawn that was running to daylight Eggleston resigned.

Round Eight once again had Hambo paired against a tough GM, this time the Peruvian legend Julio Granda-Zuniga.

Long time readers of mine will know that I often cover Julio’s games since he was the first GM I ever met, way back in 1992 in my hometown in Midland, TX when he played in a small local event of ours since he was in town seeing a family friend.

After a maneuvering game in the Old Indian Aman unfortunately stepped in to a tactical shot and was soon put away by the Peruvian.

Right now Aman is playing his final round game against American IM Kostya Kavutskiy, which I will post later once the games are published.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

Hambo the Hobo Manages the 1-0

Today in Round Five of the Isle of Man chess tournament Aman managed to win a nice grinding game.

The above photo was shared on the chessbrahTV Twitter account, so it would appear to be one of the lads poking fun at Hambo.  It also happens to be hilarious!

Aman quickly gained a protected passed pawn, but it didn’t seem likely that he would ever be able to get it moved.  A clinic on maneuvering then ensued as the pieces were shuffled until Hambleton was able to sac on e5 on his 98th move!  From that point on it was a fairly one sided affair.

Tomorrow Aman is matched up against Armenian Gabriel Sargissian, who suffered a defeat at the hands of Hikaru Nakamura today and will likely be out for a little revenge.

This will be a good test for Aman who needs pairings like that for the rest of the tournament.

Here is the game:

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

Round Four Karavade-Hambleton 1/2-1/2

In playing through this game earlier, one thing that struck me the most is that so many casual fans seem to complain that chess is nothing but draws.

On pretty much any active chess forum you’ll see posts decrying that “draw death” is upon us.  If you dig in to those threads you’ll see a pattern emerge where there are always a handful (typically a rather small handful) of folks who try to explain that not all draws are created equal.

There is quite a difference between the peaceful handshake on move 15 while still in theory because no one felt like taking any risks and a fighting draw that is played out until there is nothing left to attempt.

This game certainly qualifies as the latter.

Early on Aman sacks an exchange on his fourteenth move for full comp in the form of shattering White’s structure while gaining a beautiful outpost on f5 for his knight.

Then on move 30 White returns the exchange to fix his structural deficiencies and going up a pawn.  However, there are bishops of opposite color, and once the heavies are off the board Aman is easily able to hold the draw in spite of losing a second pawn.

Here is the game:

While there is no actual way to tell what score would be needed for a norm in any kind of open event such as this, it’s a good bet that the fewest amount of points Aman would need in his final five games would be 4.5, which would leave him on a score of 6.5/9.

Assuming his pairings get progressively stronger as he wins that still gives him a shot.

Of course the pairings may not work out and so he could score the 4.5 and it might not be enough.

Time will tell.  Let’s hope that great form takes hold and we all get to find out.

Tomorrow Hambo faces untitled Indian player V. Pranav with the White bits.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

Victory at the Isle of Aman!

Today in the third round at the chess.com Isle of Man Masters Hambo managed to get into the victory column with a nice win over legendary American author IM John Watson.

Playing in a style that would make Lev Aronian proud Aman got something going on the kingside with h4-h5 and soon Watson gave up his queen for a rook, bishop, and two pawns.  However, the tender squares around his king soon saw Watson forced to give up a rook so he resigned.

Here is the game:

Tomorrow Aman is matched up against Indian IM Eesha Karavade, about whom I know nothing.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

Round Two Isle of Aman

Today in round two Aman had the tough pairing against Super GM Arkadij Naiditsch.

It looked like Aman would hold in a queen and pawn ending until he allowed Naiditsch to advance his deadly passed h pawn to h7 by playing 83…b4 instead of continuing the series of checks.

This gives Aman .5 out of two to start.  While that doesn’t technically put a norm out of reach, it does mean that he’s got his work cut out for him.

Here is the game.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

Aman and the Hunt for the Final Norm

Yesterday Canadian IM and noted ChessBrah Aman Hambleton began the hunt for what would be his final GM norm.

I will be posting all of his games here for anyone who is interested in following his chances.

In round one he didn’t get much out of a Reti sideline and Black’s marauding knights allowed his to easily equalize.  Material was th