Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Friday, February 17, 2012

Killing Floor

The lyrics of this song remind me of the Goddess Caissa...we always come back, don't we? Relevant to chess, agree or disagree?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Going on Vacation

I'll be traveling for a week and you'll have to wait for the rest of the Best Of! Carnival entries. Sorry, but I didn't want to just throw up links without the fabulous commentary and images you deserve. I'll put a couple of things in scheduled posting to surprise you, though.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

A Couple of Openings Gems

Shortly after the presention of the big Part I of Best of Chess Blogging: Openings, two more posts appeared on the opening that I wanted to share with readers.

Path to Chess Mastery linked to the Carnival and added some thoughful commentary on the subject of amateur chess players and opening study.

Wang's Chesshouse has a self-described looong post on openings that includes a lot of very interesting analysis of his database and the statistical success of various openings. He warns us:


However, there are some things in there that are exteremely intriguing, especially applied to amateur play. I know enough about statistics to know that the term "statistically significant" can mean different things in different contexts; but here are a few gems that I extracted from Wang's tables:

1)  As has been noted by many in recent years, the Sicilian Defense (1. e4 c5) scores very well for black both above and below the 2200 rating line. However,

2) Some defenses that don't do so well among masters are quite effective below 2200, including Alekhine's (1. e4 Nf6) and the Modern (1. e4 g6) which score about as well as the Sicilian for the lower rated. The same holds true for queen pawn opening with 1. d4 c5 (a less-than-usual Benoni move order) and 1. d4 d6 scoring well under 2200 but not especially so against masters.

3) 1. d4 d5 2. c4 or 1. d4 Nf6 2.c4 is the way to go for QP players of all ratings. 2. Nf3 seems to be less effective. I almost always play 2. c4 myself, not fearing the Albin, Budapest, Nimzoindian etc. However, I wouldn't be too surprised to find that some of the offbeat responses to the queen pawn score quite well under 2200.

I would be interested to hear what readers make of these stats.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

The Best Of! Chess Blogging, Part I: Openings

Hello and welcome to the first "Best Of" Chess Blogging post. There was so much material submitted, and so much more that I went out and scooped up, that I thought it would be best to break this into several parts.

A few words of introduction. The Chess Blogging Carnival was was run by Blue Devil Knight for all of 2011, sometimes with guest hosts, and before that, there was Jack Le Moine, who I believe started the thing. Now, I've taken the torch.

A Fortunate Juxtaposition
These "carnivals" were all he rage in the early days of blogging , when "Web 2.0" was still a blurry image on the horizon for most people. One of the best chess bloggers evah, Michael Goeller of The Kenilworthian (new iteration here) wrote about blogging as The New Chess Journalism? back in 2006. It makes for interesting reading 5 and a half years on.

And now, on to The Best Of: Openings! As the first part of the game it might as well be first here.

Most chess teachers tell us that we shouldn't spend much time on openings until we reach Expert/Master/FM/IM/GM (depending on who), but the real realness of reality is that most of us have an interest in getting a good position, or at least avoiding a bad one, right out of the gate. So most chess bloggers have touched on the openings from time to time.

Roman-Chess:  A summary of how I try to work on my openings: 10 steps to a Better Chess Opening Repertoire

The Kenilworthian, metioned above, submitted: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 White Repertoire Webliography
and Smith-Morra Gambit Update. Also his series on The Panther. If you don't know what the Panther is, you're missing out, so hit that link! The only problem with this is that he has done scores of other great openings posts, and deserves his own Best Of Carnival. I will get to that soon, just the three for now.

Signalman had some interesting looks at FICS Team League opening choices in Amateur Openings 1 and Amateur Openings 3.

Dana Mackenzie explains Dana's Opening Philosophy. "In one of my most popular posts of all time, I explain why Opening Theory is a scam."

Unlike most of us, Jim West has actually written opening books. He didn't suggest an openings post, but if you want a stimulating opening to study you can buy his Dynamic Philidor Counter Gambit for only $5.95!

GM Kevin Spraggett has a marvelous blog about all kinds of things and Michael Goeller suggested some posts but nothing in the area of openings; here is something marvelous: Louis Paulsen: the founder of of modern opening theory.

Spraggett also features many pictures of, ermm, ladies on his blog, here is a PG sample...

So if you choose to surf over there, you have been warned. The chess content is marvelous.

Farbror the Guru contributed The Act of Learning [Openings] and provided therein a link to GM Nigel Davies The Chess Improver, When Knowledge Gets in the Way. Farbror also pointed to Greg, who writes about the King's Indian and necessary aggression in Just One Move.

Liquid Egg Product co-blogger The Mascot has also been researching opening lines:

The Path to Chess Mastery, a great new blog that began in 2011, gave us Openings Selection: Initial Considerations. I commented there, and I will reiterate my opinions, openings are not that important for amateurs as far as the result of any single game, but it is important that the player feels comfortable in what he or she is doing. The quicker and easier one gets to a playable middle game, the more energy and enthusiasm one is going to have to try and win it.

Blunderprone has been one of the best and most entertaining chess bloggers for about five years, and he has a whole series of pawn structure studies on his sidebar that you could profitably peruse. Here is the series introduction with historical perspective.

Here's something you may not have heard about--Wikipedia has pretty good articles on all the main openings, and you can reach them through the main Chess Opening page.

I have occasionally heard players say their openings were "In the repair shop," thus, how to repair anything:

Last and least, I have written some posts on the openings that may, hopefully, be not devoid of interest. If playing black you want to be "In Charge" you might try these. Over four years ago I wrote a four-part series on the openings. Now I find myself not agreeing with everything I said then! However, there was a lot to like and there are links to all the parts at Part IV.

This concludes the very first Best Of! Chess Blogging Carnival post. There is a LOT more but you will have to wait for a few days for the next one. Stay tuned...