Has it ever happen to you? You wake up one morning, and you realised the world has passed you by.
It happened to me this morning. As I realised to my horror, I'm starting to fall pretty badly behind my peers at the chess club. Joshua, Arthur and Ted are making marked progress and are now in the 2000 stratosphere while I am still languishing in the sub 1500s.
I formulated a plan a few months back of consistent studying and playing but have since abandoned it because my work plus studies took its eventual toll and I could no longer keep up with the strict regime without my studies suffering.
I hate making resolutions for the new year because in the end, inertia sets in and I'll fall back to my old ways. As a result, I have to put my foot down now and that is to start playing more OTB chess consistently and regularly. I am thinking of joining the chess club at North Sydney Leagues club every Tuesday night once the new year starts and commit myself there.
I play online games a lot more these days now that my studies won't start till mid-February 2008. In between now and then is probably my last hope of taking my chess skill to the next level ie. the 1500-1800 level.
I am still making improvements albeit in small steps but I need to be at the point where I have to make big strides instead.
And that means, on the top of my list in order of importance:
Master endgames and I don't mean just learn it. But MASTER it. I've got a few books lined up:
Sherevesky's Endgame Strategy (which I am currently reading),
Muller's Endgame DVDs set (1-4),
Muller's ChessCafe articles,
Smyslov's Endgame Virtuoso,
and finally, Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual.
and I've got Total Chess Training software to work through.
I will still continue to work on combinations and tactics in the meantime.
Today, I was reviewing one of my online games, adding annotations and letting Fritz do its handy work when I noticed 2 particular variations and I thought it was very instructive so I'm going to post them here.
Have a look at the first diagram on the left, this 1st test position was the result of a rather long variation given by Fritz.
I was White. Black decided to take the pawn on e4 with:
1. .... Nxe4
Here's the question:
Problem #1. Can you see how White can win here?
The answer can be found within the brackets
[ Yes! White goes for a mating attack starting with...
Black has 2 possible continuations and both of them lead to mate.
2.... Qxc6 3. Rxe8#
2... Ke6 3. Qd5#]
The second one here is tougher. See the 2nd diagram on right.
The position has somewhat changed. Black played
The question is this:
Problem #2. Can you find the best move for White?
Answer can be found within the brackets
[ If you chose
2. Qg4+ Kf7 3. Qxe4. You didn't see a stronger move.
The correct answer is:
2. Qg4+ Kf7
3. Rg8!! (Now comes the point of this move. Black is forced to capture the Rook with the Queen) Qxg8
4. Qxd7+! and now 4... Kf8 leads to Qe7# and 4... Kg6 leads to 5. Ne7+ forking King and Queen]
To tie things up, I jumped onto FICS and played a few Blitzes for fun. I lost the first game (making a horrible endgame blunder when I should be winning..... grrrrr.) and won the next one which I've highlighted here (*insert chest-beating Tarzan yell*). The following game itself is not great at all. But I do notice that I am processing faster with my tactical vision (my opponent making things easy for me didn't help matters). I guess all this self-study is showing its results. In all, I took 3 minutes for the whole game. I am going to go cold turkey on Blitz games for a while.... at least until I get my endgame technique down to a pat.