If only we would have a crystal ball in chess…?!

They say: ‘If you know what’s is going to happen on beforehand, you can travel around the world with a dime in your pocket!’ Or, here in Sweden they might talk about a couple of öres in your pocket. 

This idea is equally valid for chess. If you know what’s the position you are striving for, life gets a lot more easy.

See the diagram. Please do not move the pieces on your chess board and work it first out in your mind.Read More »

Another instructive endgame

We can learn a lot from endgame studies. Studies show a concept in it’s purest form.

The idea is that all the pieces on the board have a certain function. There is no unnecessary clutter which disturbs the concept.

What I like about endgame studies is that the positions might have arisen from real games in contrast to some compositions where you have to mate in a couple of moves. These compositions often look a bit artificial and couldn’t have evolved from a real game. Therefore I am not very fond of them. Of course this is a matter of taste.

I do like positions that pose a tricky ‘clean problem’. See the diagram. It is white to move. Can he win? If so, how?

See solution…

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Blunder check

I have a confession to make. In my chess ‘career’ I made quite a lot of blunders. I still feel the pain of losing all the games I should have won.

Sometimes I even say to myself ‘if not for these blunders, I would have been quite a good chess player!’

This is of course a silly thought. What if we hardly ever make mistakes? Of course we would be chess champion of the world. But we aren’t. We humans love to marvel in ‘what ifs’.

But it is of course a nice thought. Make less stupid mistakes and your elo will rise considerably. But how do you avoid mistakes? In fact it’s quite simple:Read More »

Stop with the silly Sofia rules

peace_doveAs we all know chess games have 3 natural outcomes: a win, a loss or a draw. For obvious reasons organizers and chess fans don’t like draws. We demand a fight to the death. Unless we are involved by ourselves of course. In that case we prefer half living over death.

For instance a draw is perfectly okay if we play a (much) stronger opponent or if it brings some other gain, like winning a match or chess tournament. But when other players settle for a draw we hate it.  

Of course there is a problem. It happens frequently that players agree on a draw when there are still enough possibilities to prolong the fight. In other cases they don’t even bother to try to play for a win. Their goal is from the outset to finish as soon as possible in peaceful manner.

I think it was Boris Spassky who, in the later stage of his career, preferred a tennis game over a chess game. And he is not the only player who had some different thoughts about a struggle on the chess board. How do you prevent this from happening?Read More »

Forget about the opening, study endgames!

endgame_200Books on chess openings are hugely popular. Of course it is nice to know how to give your game a kick start. But chess games are rarely won in the opening phase. Unless one of the players makes a silly mistake of course.

Personally I think books on the middle- and endgame are much more interesting and valuable. These books give us better insights in the chess game. If you know in which direction you want to go, it becomes also more easy to decide on your opening play.

There is another huge advantage in studying endgames. In the endgame you learn more about the properties of the chess pieces. Which might come in handy for other phases in the game. In that way time spent on endgame study is not wasted. Even if you do not play so many endgames*. It is in fact very valuable.Read More »