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.

Coaches:

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