Monday, December 22, 2014

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Allies-Blackburne 1894

[Event "1894"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "Nov 13, 2014"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Allies"]
[Black "Blackburne"]
[Result "0-1"]

1. e4 e5 2. d4 exd4 3. Qxd4 Nc6 4. Qe3 g6 5. Bd2 Bg7 6. Nc3 Nge7 7. O-O-O O-O
8. f4 d5 9. exd5 Nb4 10. Bc4 Bf5 11. Bb3 Nexd5 12. Nxd5 Nxd5 13. Qf3 Qf6 14. c3
Nb4 15. Bc4 Qa6 16. g4 Qxa2 17. Be3 Bxc3

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Great free software for entering notated games (advanced)

I really like Arena 3.5. It is free, open source software, and better than most paid software. 

To enter games, you have to click the “edit” button located on the lower right. I had to read the help file to figure that out, but it’s REALLY easy. Once you click on EDIT, you can enter moves, save them, and email the PGN file, or do whatever you want. 

Also when downloading the software, make sure to download Arena 3.5 SETUP, the 2nd link on the download page. I made the mistake of downloading the Arena Zip file (I just assumed that the top link was the best one to download - silly mistake). 

Just a tip: Use Arena, then consider buying ChessBase only if you have entered 100 games into Arena or other free software. People who get ChessBase too early just kind of ruin their ChessBase experience, in my opinion. 

Also iPad/iPhone users should use Stockfish to enter and email games. This is a lot simpler than anything else, and it is free. I recommend StockFish over a lot of paid apps (Stockfish is currently free, and it is also an open source project). 

I don’t usually prefer free stuff… I believe it is good to pay for quality chess software. When it comes to finding software for entering games, there is basically the free stuff, and the expensive stuff, and the stuff in between isn’t very good. 

Mac Users: Download the free Stockfish app from the App store. It’s in its early stages of development, but it does a good job of entering/saving games. 


Saturday, October 04, 2014

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Live! Saturday July 26, 2014 from Jeff A on Vimeo.

<iframe src="//;portrait=0&amp;color=ffffff" width="500" height="281" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe> <p><a href="">Live! Saturday July 26, 2014</a> from <a href="">Jeff A</a> on <a href="">Vimeo</a>.</p>

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Suba-Farago: Attacking game, great for intermediate and advanced players.

Suba,Mihai - Farago,Ivan [D41]

Hungary, 1976


1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.c4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e6 6.Nf3 Be7 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.Bc4 Nc6 9.0-0 0-0 10.Re1 Nxc3 11.bxc3 b6 12.Bd3 Bb7 13.Qe2 Rc8 14.Qe4 g6 15.Bh6 Re8 16.Re3 Bf8 17.Bxf8 Rxf8 18.Qf4 Kg7 19.Ng5 Qc7 20.Qh4 h6 21.Nxe6+ fxe6 22.Rxe6 Qf7 23.d5 Na5 24.Qg3 Kh8 25.Rxg6 Qf4 26.Rg8+ 1-0


(3) Suba,Mihai - Farago,Ivan [D41]

Hungary, 1976

 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.c4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e6 6.Nf3 Be7 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.Bc4 Nc6 9.0–0 0–0 10.Re1 Nxc3 11.bxc3 b6 12.Bd3 Bb7 13.Qe2 Rc8 14.Qe4 g6 15.Bh6 Re8 16.Re3 Bf8 17.Bxf8 Rxf8 18.Qf4 Kg7 19.Ng5 Qc7 20.Qh4 h6 21.Nxe6+ fxe6 22.Rxe6 Qf7 23.d5 Na5 24.Qg3 Kh8 25.Rxg6 Qf4 26.Rg8+ 1–0



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Tatev Abrahamyan article.

An interesting read.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Treat the chess pieces... they are 32 little violins or piano keys. "Be nice to the pieces and they will be nice to you." 

Monday, June 02, 2014

Slow time controls vs. G/30

I recommend playing in a G/30 tournament regularly, and then try to play one “slow” tournament every month or so. 

I find that people who only play slow time controls (like G/120 games that last up to 4 hours) take their extra time for granted… and they just end up walking around during their games, or watching other games.

People who play G/30 and G/120 get experience, but they also appreciate the long time control. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Some example games in the Sicilian.

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. f4 g6 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. Bb5 Nd4 6. Nxd4 cxd4 7. Ne2 Nf6 8. Bd3 O‑O 9. Nxd4 Nxe4 10. Bxe4 Bxd4 11. Kf1 d5 12. Bd3 b6 13. g3 Bh3+ 14. Ke2 Bg4+


1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 g6 5. Nxc6 bxc6 6. Qd4 Nf6 7. e5 Nd5 8. e6 Nf6 9. exf7+ Kxf7 10. Bc4+ d5 11. Bb3 e5 12. Qd1 Bg7 13. O‑O Re8 14. Nc3 Kg8


1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. f4 g6 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. Bb5 Nd4 6. Nxd4 cxd4 7. Ne2 Nf6 8. Bd3 O‑O 9. Nxd4 Nxe4 10. Bxe4 Bxd4 11. Kf1 d5 12. Bd3 b6 13. g3 Bh3+ 14. Ke1 Bg2 15. Rf1 Qd6 16. Qe2 Bxf1 17. Kxf1 Rac8


1. e4 c5 2. f4 Nc6 3. Nf3 g6 4. Bc4 Bg7 5. O‑O e6 6. f5 Nge7 7. fxe6 dxe6 8. d3 O‑O 9. Nc3 Na5 10. Bb5 a6 11. Ba4 b5 12. Bb3 Bb7 13. a4 Nxb3 14. cxb3 b4 15. Ne2 a5 16. Ng3 Ba6 17. Ne1 Qd7 18. Be3 Bxb2 19. Rb1 Bd4 20. Bxd4 Qxd4+ 21. Kh1 Rad8 22. Rf3 Nc6

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Clock Move: A rumor that almost became a rule.

Some thoughts: 

"Clock move” is a silly rule sometimes used in blitz or bughouse. Touch move is a great rule.

The only imperfection about touch move is that sometimes kids lie about it. Also sometimes a kid will come “close" to touching a piece and the opponent will overreact. But this happens rarely, and it is usually done by really young kids or beginners.  

I feel silly calling clock move a “rule” because I have never seen it officially acknowledged in any rule book or rule list. 

It is a new “rule.” While I don’t know the history of the “clock move” rumor, I do know that the chess clock hasn’t been around for that long. 

I’m pretty sure "clock move" was invented by a weak chess player and it got popularized by weak chess players until some stronger chess players were forced to play this way.  

In clock move, a player can place a move on the board. It’s not official until the clock is pressed. There is no touch move. There is no “I took my hand off the piece so it is complete” rule. The move is completed only when the clock is pressed.

Think about how this compares to touch move… think about how annoying it would be if your opponent is trying out random moves on the chess board and taking it back. What if your opponent has a very good move and you are hoping he doesn’t see it. He plays it on the board. He takes it black, plays a blunder, just to mess with you, then he plays the good move that you were hoping he wouldn’t play? How annoying would that be? Even if your mind is a fortress, and this doesn’t get an emotional reaction out of you, it’s still kind of annoying that your opponent is wasting time and perhaps being unethical with these theatrics. 

Of course, you can complain that your opponent is abusing a rule to be distracting. Like if my opponent touches a Rook on a1 when it can’t move, and he keeps on doing it to annoy me, I can complain to a tournament director. But still… this clock move rule just creates new complicated ways to be annoying. A good rule (like touch move) minimizes problems for the players and referees. 

Clock move encourages people to 1) Calculate less 2) Annoy their opponents more.

By the way - I use the word “annoying” because USCF has a rule that literally says: “Annoying behavior is prohibited.” 

In "clock move,”  a player benefits by placing just one move on the board before pressing the clock. It makes a variation a lot easier to calculate. It makes it a lot easier to check for blunders. If you really think about it, it is smart to “think” this way if your goal is to win that particular chess game.

Fact: There are 3 popular ways to play chess. Touch move. Not Touch Move  (move is complete once you take your hand off of it). And clock move. It is weird that I only see touch move and clock move… and not the other option (which, in my opinion, is so much better than clock move, but still worse than touch move). 

I have played a lot of people in blitz who blunder, then take it back before hitting the clock. When I play against someone who plays this way, I have to put on a “poker face” whenever I see my opponent blunders… until the clock is pressed. It’s very annoying. 

I heard, recently, that USCF changed their official blitz rules so that it is touch move. I never even knew “clock move” was officially recognized anywhere, so I was surprised to hear that USCF had to “change” their rules. It’s more likely that they just clarified that there is no such thing as clock move. And I’m glad they did this (but against, I have only heard about this and I will check up on this later). 

I played against thousands of people in blitz, and I would say 80% of my opponents assumed it was "clock move."

When I was a beginner, I played in a weekly chess club that had a blitz tournament, and it was touch move. At this time there was also a World Blitz Chess Association (WBCA) that had a magazine subscription, rating system, and a list of rules. WBCA rules were to play touch-move. So I was lucky enough to only know about touch-move. Later I learned that a lot of people play “clock move.” 

When you play a game… it is best to assume it is touch move in the same way you should assume you are not allowed to touch the ball in soccer, or that you are “out” when hit by a dodgeball. There will always be people that touch pieces and deny it, in the same way one denies behind hit by a dodgeball.

If you are a chess purist, and you naturally play touch move, unfortunately you might want to ask your opponent, before the game starts, if you are playing touch move. It is sad that one should ask this question. I personally avoid asking this awkward question, and just play touch move, while my opponent plays clock move (even though it gives me a disadvantage). And honestly, I don’t remember the last time I touched a piece then regretted it. 

There aren’t that many blitz tournaments, and when there are, they are usually “just for fun.” If it isn’t awkward, you might want to ask if it’s touch move or not. If it’s a major blitz tournament, the rules should be posted. 

One last point: It looks really pathetic when you blunder your Queen, then try to take it back saying “I thought we were playing clock move.” I can’t believe that I see this happen so often. 

Touch move is the best! 

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Great news for Mac users: Stockfish

Stockfish is available in the App store for free.

I’ve used it for a few minutes. Here is what I know:

It’s not nearly as good as the iPhone/iPad version. But if they can make it do exactly what the iPhone app can do, it will be incredibly useful. And I’m sure they will reach iPhone/iPad level, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they have more useful features.

Right now you can enter in moves and use infinite analysis. This is way too advanced for most people.

You can’t play against it (honestly, no one good at chess needs a computer to play against). 

It’s great for entering your notated games and emailing the moves to to someone. 

You can open up PGN files with it. This isn’t incredibly user friendly, and recommended only if someone sends you a PGN file. I like the iPhone and iPad app because one can email you a PGN file (see below) and it automatically imports from your clipboard. 

Or you can copy and paste the following, and save it as a .pgn file (use TextEdit on Mac or Notepad for Windows). 

[Event "USSR vs. Rest of the World"]
[Site "Belgrade SRB"]
[Date "1970.03.31"]
[EventDate "1970.03.29"]
[Round "2.1"]
[Result "0-1"]
[White "Bent Larsen"]
[Black "Boris Spassky"]
[ECO "A01"]
[WhiteElo "?"]
[BlackElo "?"]
[PlyCount "34"]

1. b3 e5 2. Bb2 Nc6 3. c4 Nf6 4. Nf3 e4 5. Nd4 Bc5 6. Nxc6
dxc6 7. e3 Bf5 8. Qc2 Qe7 9. Be2 O-O-O 10. f4 Ng4 11. g3 h5
12. h3 h4 13. hxg4 hxg3 14. Rg1 Rh1 15. Rxh1 g2 16. Rf1 Qh4+
17. Kd1 gxf1=Q+ 0-1

No Excuses! Stockfish -> Email

One thing I know for sure about technology: There is NO excuse not to send a game to a chess coach, assuming the coach wants to see your games.

1) Enter the moves into Stockfish. Use analysis mode or “enter game” mode.

2) Save it. Email it to your Coach and maybe copy a parent or something. If you are using gmail, you will always have a backup copy.


Open the game in your gmail. Copy and paste the moves (the whole pgn) into ChessBase.


Stockfish is free (for now). There are other apps that let you use this workflow.

ChessBase and Fritz both allow you to copy and paste an emailed PGN file (see below). 

There is one downside, but I don’t actually think it’s a downside. An incorrect notation sheet won’t work. So write down your moves correctly. And if you enter the game 12 hours or less after playing it (I made up this 12 hour rule just because it sounds smart) then the player can usually use his or her memory to figure out what happened. If you can only send 12 moves or so, that’s a LOT better than sending nothing. 

[Event "USSR vs. Rest of the World"]
[Site "Belgrade SRB"]
[Date "1970.03.31"]
[EventDate "1970.03.29"]
[Round "2.1"]
[Result "0-1"]
[White "Bent Larsen"]
[Black "Boris Spassky"]
[ECO "A01"]
[WhiteElo "?"]
[BlackElo "?"]
[PlyCount "34"]

1. b3 e5 2. Bb2 Nc6 3. c4 Nf6 4. Nf3 e4 5. Nd4 Bc5 6. Nxc6
dxc6 7. e3 Bf5 8. Qc2 Qe7 9. Be2 O-O-O 10. f4 Ng4 11. g3 h5
12. h3 h4 13. hxg4 hxg3 14. Rg1 Rh1 15. Rxh1 g2 16. Rf1 Qh4+
17. Kd1 gxf1=Q+ 0-1

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Chairs in the hallway and more

We have 5 tournaments left. I just had a meeting with the office - I really need parents to help. 

No chairs in the hallway. 
Hallways must be quiet (no running or noise). 

Basically there have been too many complaints and I couldn't deliver improvement. I told the office that we have 5 weeks left and I will try my best to avoid breaking lease rules for these 5 weeks. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Amazing tactic on move 26...

[Event "?"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2014.02.21"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Chen, Alex Ze"]
[Black "Guo, Zachary"]
[Result "*"]
[ECO "D85"]
[PlyCount "55"]
[SourceDate "2014.02.22"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bg7 7. Nf3 c5 8.
Bb5+ Bd7 9. Bxd7+ Qxd7 10. O-O O-O 11. Be3 cxd4 12. cxd4 Rd8 13. Qb3 Nc6 14.
Rfd1 Rac8 15. Rd2 Na5 16. Qb4 Nc4 17. Rd3 Nxe3 18. fxe3 Rc7 19. Rf1 Rdc8 20.
Rdd1 Bh6 21. Rde1 Rc3 22. Ne5 Qe6 23. Rxf7 Bxe3+ 24. Kf1 Qa6+ 25. Nc4 R8xc4 26.
Rg7+ Kxg7 *

Friday, February 21, 2014

Botvinnik-Kan 1930

I have been studying some Botvinnik games lately.

What I like about Botvinnik is his professionalism. He is known for treating chess like a sport, and being known for his intense chess study.

He is also a great player, and his style is easy to imitate.

He has a great positional understanding and tactical alertness.

Here is a good game played by him.
You can view it at immediately here:


1.d4 e6 2.c4 f5 3.Nf3 Bb4+ 4.Bd2 Bxd2+ 5.Qxd2 Nf6 6.g3 b6 7.Nc3 d6 8.Bg2 Bb7 9.O-O Qe7 10.d5 e5 11.e4 fxe4 12.Ng5 Nbd7 13.Ncxe4 O-O 14.Ne6 Nxe4 15.Bxe4 Rf6 16.Qc2 Rh6 17.Nxc7 Rc8 18.Nb5 a6 19.Na7 Rf8 20.Nc6 Qg5 21.Bg2 Nf6 22.Qf5 Qh5 23.Qxh5 Nxh5 24.f4 Re8 25.Rae1 Bxc6 26.dxc6 Nf6 27.g4 Nxg4 28.fxe5 Nxe5 29.Bd5+ Kh8 30.c7 Rf6 31.Bb7 1-0

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Winning can be boring

A lot of good chess players I know change their openings or stop doing something that works... it seems crazy. Unless there is something terribly wrong with your opening... don't change it just because you are bored. Look at a large sample size of your notated games and figure out what your results are.

Also it's ok to keep on studying new openings to learn more about chess. But this post is mainly targeted towards the 2000+ people who change their openings that are clearly good openings that work!

If it's not broken... etc.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Saturday, February 01, 2014


Up until 2:50am thinking about/working on some issues with the tournament based on some things that happened today. Very tiring and discouraging. A good tournament director can make things run smoothly with the kids… but then the X factor is the parents. 

After doing about 300 tournaments with nearly the exact same format, I learn that kids enjoy the structure of rated play, and they learn how to be professional rather quickly. But then sometimes parents can randomize things. 

Usually randomization is caused by not-showing up, making requests that would be illegal (according to USCF rules) for a director to grant, and just other surprises. And then there are days like today (that I have not experienced yet) where things are severe. 

Not sure what to do exactly but I will work on it tomorrow! Early morning 8:00am.

The chess world needs more good tournament directors. 

The scholastic chess world needs parents who are positive and support chess.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Should my child play a slower time control?

Has your child lost on time before?

Remember: "Feeling" low on time and losing on time are two different things. Many kids only get in time pressure when they realize they are losing, and they use all of their resources to try to salvage a losing position.

It's most important for the player to play a lot of good chess players in conditions where that player tries hard to win.

It is also important for the player to learn how to play weaker opponents but win consistently. This skill comes from experience, and it is the reason why the top half of a National tournament loses their rating points to the lower half.

If you are a Master playing against a bunch of 1600 players, you will occasionally lose games due to silly mistakes or time pressure if you are playing a fast time control. But every Master I know plays blitz, g/25, g/120, and basically every possible time control available.

Never hand-pick your opponents, be flexible when planning tournaments, and just be flexible.

And maybe avoid blitz and 1 minute chess (it depends on the kid, but when in doubt, avoid blitz and 1 minute chess).

Thursday, January 16, 2014

App Store and Amazon.Com

Basically all of the App Store chess apps are the same. Stockfish is free and perfect.

Basically all chess books are good and the ratings don't tell you if the book is readable. It's not so easy to find a readable (enjoyable) chess book. The chess audience likes to feel like they are an adult reading a challenging book. Unfortunately, not everyone wants to feel this way (including the adult who "thinks" they enjoy this type of challenge).

Monday, January 13, 2014

Trick yourself into moving slowly (quick notes unedited)

These "quick notes" were originally posted 10-11-2012.

- "Move slow" is the most common thing a lot of students hear.
- There are techniques to help you play slower.
- Think of 3 candidate moves or more, even when you have something memorized, or if you think your move is forced. Make yourself come up with 3 good moves.
- If you see a good move look for a better one.
- Try to calculate more moves ahead. "If I go here, his best move is... and I will respond with..." Just try doing that even if it is tiring. Usually people calculate terribly at first. Option 1) use your intuition only and never calculate (a sign of talent but also lazy). Option 2) Calculate every day even in positions that look simple. Play the chess game in your head and officially deliver the move on the board.
- Stop and assess the following on every turn:
King safety, Material, Development, Space, Pawn Structure, Good Minor Pieces (Knight on an outpost vs. Bishops in an open board), better use of squares and files.

Notating trains you to play slower. Always notate, so moving slowly will feel natural. Notating helps one create a routine and a "rhythm" similar to a basketball player who shoots free-throws.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Not Playing vs. Playing Terribly

Question: What's better. To play a low quality chess game where you play fast and don't think or simply not play at all?

Answer: I don't know. When you play low quality chess, you get some terrible habits that will be hard to reverse. The good news is that you will learn a few patterns. Overall, it's hard to get rid of bad habits and easy to learn patterns. So aim for high quality practice. If you are going to play low quality chess games, use moderation.

Practicing should be a lot more tiring than competing. Just make sure to remember that tiring practice can make some people quit chess. It's a marathon not a sprint (sorry... sports analogy).

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

#BobKnight #AnnoyingSportsAnalogy #Preparation

Question: What can you (a person who isn't good at chess) do to help someone (who is good or nearly perfect at chess) improve?

Answer: A lot! Don't let the student practice in a way that he or she gets worse! I've often felt that someone like Bobby Knight would be one of the best chess coaches in the world although his style of "coaching" is not good for young kids (he's a little too intense for the average chess player).

Here are a few of my favorite Bob Knight quotes. Also I apologize for using sports analogies (I'm tired of people doing this).

Bonus: Find the quotes that are similar/redundant.

"The will to succeed is important, but what's more important is the will to prepare."
"You don't play against opponents, you play against the game of basketball."
"The key is not the will to win... everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important."
"Most people have the will to win, few have the will to prepare to win."
"People change over the years, and that changes situations for good and for bad." 
"Mental toughness is to physical as four is to one." 
"I have always maintained that in basketball the importance of the mental to the physical is about four to one."
"If I came in to recruit your son, I would tell you, your wife, and your son, that I will be the most demanding coach your son can play for."
"I don't intend to retire." 

Monday, January 06, 2014

Ways To Improve

1. Play against your computer but notate anyway. Set it at a level where you lose sometimes. Young kids/beginners should set it at a level where they lose 1 out of 4 games. Advanced players should set it at a level where they lose 3 out of 4 games. Notate even though you the computer notates for you. The key is to get used to the "rhythm" of notating. Get used to the process. If you can patiently notate against the computer that instamoves (moves instantly) then you can be patient against any opponent. Learn to enjoy the process of notating. Remember, notating a chess move will be easier than writing your own name and some day you will hate playing unnotated chess (unless you are under 5 minutes).

2. Read chess books that are readable. Most chess books discourage young readers (and adult readers). Start off with "How to beat your dad in chess." Don't buy your chess books based off reviews! There are so many 5 star chess books that will discourage kids from reading.

3. Use ChessMagnet.Com or any similar site.


Don't just play your family member. If you do play your family member, notate. Playing low quality unnnotated games is bad for you! Unnotated games are bad for you! The only time you should not notate is when you have a clock and you have 5 minutes or less.

Don't just search the app store and play a chess app hundreds of times on your phone or tablet. Consider doing something like I described in the first paragraph of this blog post.