The 36th Piece!?!

Tournaments require 38 pieces!?! You’ve got 34 chess people, a board, a clock, paper, and a pencil. If most players are honest, they will admit that the clock and keeping score gave them some initial difficulty! But getting used to the clock and knowing how to use it are 2 totally different things. I haven’t seen any books specifically on how to use a clock!?! If the game can be won or lost by how you use this piece, at least some type of study is in order! I’ve only seen 2 places where the times of the games were kept and published. Yeah you get to see it while it’s live, but I’m talking in a format where study and comparison can be done. That Bobby Fischer’s chess games, the Havana Match, and Kasparov Karpov III by Keene and Goodman. Some mention of the clock was also in Krogius’ book, Psychology In Chess.

How you use this piece can change the outcome of the game!

Here are some guidelines:

  1. Always get to the board early enough to set and check the clock. Check that the delay and/or the increment are working.
  2. Always start the clock promptly at the beginning of the round. If you have no clock, the time will be split instead of your opponent taking the whole loss of time.
  3. Record the clock time for you and your opponent on each move.
  4. Always remember to press your clock!
  5. If you must get up, get back to your board as soon as possible.
  6. Grandmasters advise that you use your time for calculating variations and your opponents time for positional considerations and strategy!
  7. When in time trouble, continue to record the game as long as you can. If neither of you are recording the game, there can be no scoresheet based draw claims.
  8. When in time trouble, never move instantly! Use the delay or the increment time to double check your move.
  9. Never remind your opponent to hit their clock. It’s not good sportsmanship, it’s a rules violation!
  10. If you always have time left and you are losing more than half of your games, you are moving too fast!

Make a list of the things you will constantly check when it is your opponents turn!

What do you do when it’s your opponent’s turn to move? You are supposed to be looking everything else except variations. I have my list of everything else and so should you. I call mine the magic 10! They are: Range, Speed, Power, Force, Time, Space, Mobility, Initiative, King Safety, and Material. This is for a piece or group of pieces. This is what you do leading up to, during, and after your skirmishes! Unlike Checks, Captures, Threats, and Sacrifices, something about the magic 10 goes in and out of balance on every move.

40 moves in 2hrs. What does that mean!?! No it doesn’t mean 3 minutes per move!? There is no time limit for a move and you must accept that some moves will require a lot of time!

White to move took 22 minutes to play 14. Ne4
White took 38 minutes to find 19. b3
It took Bobby Fischer 17 minutes to find 20…Qc5
Why did it take 10 minutes for Karpov to play 7. Rc1

The other clue I got was from Test Your Chess IQ Book II by Livshitz!! In the master section they actually tell you how long it should take you to solve each puzzle. Take a look at #936

White to move. The time to solve this was 15 minutes. It’s a forced mate!
7/17/1997 Black spent 30 minutes and played 16…Nf4!
3/29/2003 White spent 49 minutes and played 16. Nf7!
6/7/2014. After 36 minutes, White played 16. Bh6!!

The thing to understand is that when you use this type of time, it’s for several moves, not just 1 move!! If you have calculated properly the next 4 or 5 moves will only take a few minutes.

Lastly, always take a minute or 2 to regroup and reorient yourself once a time control is reached. My goal is to have an equal or winning position by the end of the 1st time control, and then finish them off if I can in the 2nd one.

Want to win more games…. Learn how to use the 36th piece!?! Group and private lessons and coaching are available. Ask for Coach Mike 804-426-6058. If you are not ready for lessons, we will get you ready for free!!

Campaign, Schmampaign, What If My Opponent Plays Something Different?

You funny!?! The whole point of having a campaign is that every move they make is either expected, slightly off the beaten trail, or bad! You actually have 3 choices every time your opponent moves… You can continue the campaign because you still have tons of stuff to do, abandon your original campaign for the alternate campaign, or punish them for making a mistake! Remember this is all about variations, transpositions, branchpoints, and errors. The only reason to abandon your campaigns is to collect your reward for your opponents errors. If your opponents are constantly causing you to abandon your campaigns and lose the game, your campaigns are too small, rigid, ill conceived, or not properly researched! Let’s get started.

Here white can play Qe2, h3, Re1, a4, Be3, Qd3, Bg5, d5,

No matter which one they pick, black’s move will be 7… c7-c6. The game continued, 7.Re1 c6 8. a4
Qc7 9. dxe5?! dxe5 10. Bg5?!

It’s highly unlikely that white knows they’ve already made 2 mistakes and black has the initiative!?

This is a vote chess game. A whole team of players had 3 days for each move. It’s obvious to me that they spent no time on books written by grandmasters, databases, or moving the pieces around. Having a campaign let’s me know that I already have a substantial advantage! More importantly, it let’s me know that my opponents don’t have a campaign or a plan. They are on their own, I’m still reading directly from my homework!! 10…Nc5!? 11. b4? (11. h3 Rd8 12. Qc1 Ne6 13. Be3=) 11…Rd8! 12. Qe2?! Because shadowing the queen is part of my campaign, I have to prepare for the most creative types of redevelopment for her. I actually got this idea after studying the London’s recapture of the knight on b1. Analysis taught me that if I refuse the queen a home on the e and d files, I’d need to be ready for this development of the queen… (12. Qb1! Ne6 13. Qb3 h6 14. Bh4 a5 15. b5 Bb4 16. Red1 Rxd1+ 17. Rxd1 Nc5 18. Qb2 Bg4 19. bxc6 Bxf3! 20. gxf3
Qxc6=/+) Diagram

Analyzing your campaign games prepares you for everything!

12… Ne6! This is the end of the campaign! From here black should be able to win! 13. Be6?! Bxe6 14. Rab1 h6 15. Bh4 a5! 16. b5 Bb4 17. Bxf6 gxf6 18. Qe3 cxb5 19. Nxb5 Qxc2 20. Rec1 Qxa4 21. Nc7 Rac8

22. Qxh6? Rxc7! 23. Qxf6 Rxc1+ 24. Rxc1 Rd1 and white resigned.

The next game is another vote chess game. I used to play a lot of vote chess until it got to be too much work! There was always early voting or garbage 1/2 moves instead of whole continuations to compare. It did teach me a lot about how lazy most chess players are. Fun, fun, fun, all the time. They lack the discipline to follow grandmaster advice to end or consistency!?! It was very encouraging to realize that learning to win more games was going to be infinitely easier than I had originally thought!?!

This early variation will transpose and/or be punished.

Alekhine was the 1st player to condemn Bg5?! in the Philidor. It is a relief that black will not have to deal with any fireworks on f7 or in the center since the f3 knight can’t get to g5. I’m getting help with my campaign on the 5th move of the game! 5… c6 6. dxe5 dxe5 7. Bc4 Be7 8. O-O O-O 9. Qe2 Qc7

Look Familiar? 2 errors already again!

Some you may be wondering why I’m not rushing to play …b5. My campaign analysis has proved that if I play it too soon, the pawns will become targets. It’s better to let my opponent play a4 and then a5 so that I get the tempos and the stealth I need to mask my kingside intentions. To run a campaign you must have patience! 10. Rad1? Wrong move and wrong rook. Remember, how many times I’ve said you must watch games in the openings you intend to play to learn where to put the rooks? They had to play 10. a4. (10. Rfd1 b5 11. Bb3 a5 12. a4 b4 13. Nb1 h6!?= would have kept things level) 10… b5 11. Bb3 a5 12. a4 b4 13. Nb1 Ba6 14. Bc4 Bxc4 15. Qxc4 h6??

Campaigns are more error tolerant than planlessness!

Campaign protect you because you always have possibilities. Here I could have played 15…Nb6! and followed it up with c5 and c4. Again, mistakes come in pairs so my opponent didn’t take. Knowing when to abandon the campaign for other gains can be as difficult as conducting the campaign itself! I played 15…h6?? with an eye to doubling in the knights, control of f4, g and h files, King lifts and slides, etc... Every time you analyze a game, there is room to tweak and improve your campaigns. Don’t miss them!! The game continued with the new campaign being to put the queen in jail!! 16 Bh4?? Nb6! 17. Qb3 c5 18. Nbd2 c4 19. Qa2 Rad8 20. Bg3 Bd6 21. Rfe1 Rfe8 22. h3 Rd7 23. b3?? c3 (the nail in the coffin)

Even when she gets out on move 31 sitting on f7, she only has 2 squares.

24. Nc4 Nxc4 25. bxc4 Qc6 26. c5? Qxc5 27. Nxe5 Bxe5 28. Bxe5 Rxd1 29. Rxd1 Rxe5 30. Rd8+ Kh7 31. Qxf7 Rxe4 0-1 Their team abandoned the game!

“Look for opportunities to play d5” I didn’t used to get many opportunities for d5 until I reread my analysis of the main line and realized that 90% of the time I would not take back immediately if they played e4xd5. Some of the best ideas in your campaign have been overlooked because of improper piece development and placement. This game breaks from the normal campaign and shows how you can still make a killing of what you have left. This used to be the main line of the Hanham Variation until I busted it. 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 Nf6 4. Nc3 Nbd7 5. Bc4 Be7 6. O-O O-O 7. Qe2 c6 8. a4
Qc7 9. a5 h6 10. Bd2 Re8 11. Ba2?

Reexplore your main line!!

The bust goes… 11….exd4! 12. Nxd4 d5 13. exd5 Bd6! 14. Be3 Bxh2+ 15. Kh1 Ne5! and black has a complicated but real initiative. Now watch this game and see how they played something different but I still did the same thing!!

I don’t have to change anything about my campaign to deal with this novelty!
  1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Qe2 Be7 5. O-O O-O 6. c3!? Not a bad move in and of itself. The position is equal with white still having a little 1st move initiative left. The game continued with 6…c6 7. d4 Qc7 8. Rd1 Bg4! With the queen being the only protector of the e pawn, Be3 is unlikely for a while, and h3 may never get played. (induce h3 or f3) 9. Nbd2 Nbd7 10. h3 Bh5 11. Nf1 Rfe8 12. g4 Bg6 13. Ng3?
Different position, same combo because my campaign includes a rook spy on the queen!!

13. exd4! 14. cxd4 (14. Rxd4 d5 15. exd5 Bd6 16. Qf1 cxd5 17. Bb5 Bxg3 18. fxg3 Qxg3+ 19. Qg2 Qd6-+) 14…d5 15. exd5 Bd6 16. Qf1 cxd5 17. Bb3 Bxg3 18. fxg3 Qxg3+ 19. Qg2 Qd6 and black won. A 7 move winning combo that I didn’t have to give 1 thought to because the elements of my campaign were present. 19 moves of absolutely stress free chess! Schmampaign that!!!

Even if someone designs a campaign for you, there will be a good amount of material you will have to study. I’ve got more openings, games, and campaigns coming every week! Do you have a campaign? Do you want a campaign, or do you want to keep having fun, fun, fun, whether you win, draw, or lose? I want to work with some people that are determine to never lose!? Chess isn’t about winning all the time, it’s about never losing. You started with 1/2 not zero!! It’s time you learned how to keep yours and take theirs.

Your coaching dollars will never be better invested!?! Call Coach Mike and let’s get started today! 804-426-6058. If you are not ready for coaching, we’ll get you ready for free!!

Transpositions, Variations, Branchpoints and Errors!?!, (Strange) …

Summer is 100% underway! Kids are out of school. Parents don’t have to drive somewhere every night. Everyone has free time to study! Charlottesville, The US Open, and the State Championships are all happening over the next 8 weeks. What’s the best way to invest this free time into chess? If your rating goal is currently 1400-1800, I suggest you watch whole games, (wins, losses, and draws) in a gambit you’re interested in, or whole games, (win, loss, and draws) in the openings that you intend to play.

The fastest way to learn how to use your rooks, and what your typical ending looks like, is to watch whole games in gambits or the openings you play!!

Gambits help you with the Magic 10, (Range, Speed, Power, Force, Time, Space, Mobility, Initiative, King Safety, and Material). Using your openings will exponentially increases the number of errors you notice in all openings. Gm’s are looking to make sure they stay properly anchored. We are studying games to become properly anchored! It’s a lot easier than people think!?! A 1200’s – 1800’s growth is about increasing their depths. Conversations that used to be a move and a half move bark, or just one area of the board, ( play this move, then I play this, then they play that or look at that square…) have to become 4, 5, and 6, move variations and sequences that explain and justify, variations, transpositions branchpoints, and errors!?! Going through whole games is how you stop wondering what to do so early in your games.

What is the purpose of a maze!?! The affects is that every creature will experience their way out of a maze even when thinking their way out was an option for some, most, or all the time!?! Playing is a maze, studying is not!?! Studying properly is exponential, Playing properly is not!

Amateurs think Anand is taking the position from the board and putting it on the computer. Gm’s think he’s getting a move from the computer to look at on the board!?! (STRANGE) lol!

This is the way I approach the analysis of a game I did not play. 1st I watch the whole game. If you are using a book, and books are best, that means the moves in bold. 2nd I go through the game again questioning which moves I want to improved for each color. 3rd I take the game explorer database to where the branch points are for what’s played. 4th Back to the board. With my new understanding of the variations, I try to understand when the game actually reached it’s branch point and which branches I preferred and hated. 5.) I try to correct their mistakes were with 3, 4, and 5, move sequences for all the moves I had questioned. 6.) I put the game on an engine to check my work . 7. After checking my work, I go through the game move by move with the engine to see If what they played or what I saw was in the top 3-5 best moves. 8. On the board, I watch the game a final time. 9. Write in my notebook what I think I learned from the game. 10. repeat!

That’s the end of the lesson. Once you finish 25 games using this procedure, you should feel very confident using or very confident throwing away the variations you have studied. The good news is you get to keep all the tools, weapons, strategies, and understanding that you anchored. Keep your notebook of this procedure. Come back to it in 30 days and reread your notes, thoughts, and ideas about the games. You’re almost better just thinking about it, aren’t you!?!

This is the game that inspired this article.

[Event “?”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “????.??.??”]
[Round “?”]
[White “?”]
[Black “?”]
[Result “*”]

  1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 e6 5. e4 Bb4 6. Bg5 c5 7. e5 cxd4 8. Qa4+
    Nc6 9. O-O-O Bd7 10. Ne4 Be7 11. exf6 gxf6 12. Bh4 Nb4 13. Qxb4 Bxb4 14. Nxf6+
    Kf8 15. Rxd4 Qa5 16. Nxd7+ Ke8 17. Nf6+ Kf8 18. Ne5 h5 19. Bxc4 Kg7 20. Nfd7
    Rhc8 21. Kb1 b5 22. Bf6+ Kg8 23. Rh4 Be7 24. Bxe7 Rxc4 25. Nf6+ Kg7 26. Rxh5 *

A Branch point is when you have 2 or more variations that are equally good but will never transpose.

Need some coaching? Rates as low at $25 per hour. Financing available! Free consultation. Coach Mike C 804-426-6058.

Name Your Price Book Sale!! 5/23-5/30!!

Everyone know Coach Mike has the best book collection in Central Va. Thing is I can’t read them all and they are taking up needed space at the club. I’ve got over 600 algebraic and nearly the same amount with descriptive. Yes I have all the old classics, tactics, strategy, endings, tournaments, game collections, Encyclopedia of Chess Openings, My Great Predecessors and over 150 informants.

You know you want some!

Yes, I have some entertaining chess books but every book on the tables has my personal stamp of approval!?! Zoom in and see for yourself!!

Whatever opening you play, there are books here on it!
That Black hardcover is Fischer’s games!!

Did you notice the copy of, Think Like a Grandmaster? The sale hours are:

Monday 9-8

Tuesday 9-10 pm Club Night Bonus Rewards (See below)

Wednesday 9-8

Thursday 9-430

Friday 9-8

Saturday 8 am til 1 pm

Sunday 9-7

Monday 9-1 pm

I’ll be here or close by! Just call when you get to the door. 607 Wickham Street. I have a big project I’m working on, and one of the deadlines is June 1st! That’s why I’m going to be here all day and evening. I always bring lunch for 2 and there’s always something here to snack on. Don’t make excuses, you will never be able to inspect before you buy like this unless you go to a big tournament! No reasonable offer will be refused. Everything must go! Free informant or 2 free descriptive notation books for every $50.00 you spend. Bring a friend and you both can choose a free descriptive title! You can’t judge a book by it’s notation!?! lol That was funny!!

We have wood and plastic pieces and wood and vinyl boards for sale as well. Need a clock or a score book? they’re here too.

It’s a yard sale without the yard and everything is in good, better, or new condition!! Tuesday night is club night. 6pm-10pm. The Tuesday night special is another informant or 2 more descriptive titles at $75.00 and $100.00. Collectors sets are 25% off. We have the Simpsons and Super Mario chess sets for sale in their original carrying boxes!! Looking for a specific title? I wrote down the entire inventory! Just call me and I’ll let you know if it’s here.

Read your Chess Life… Books are still better than online because of the annotations, explanations, and culture that you can’t get from a database!?!

Come by and see me! I promise I will make it worth your while!! Cash, checks, and credit cards accepted! If you can’t make it, we’ll ship, hold, or deliver your order!

Always wishing the best for chess,

Coach Mike C