Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I'm In the Driver's Seat

Encountered while surfing: the Advertising Slogan Generator. Here's one that was generated for me:

Everything We Do is Driven by Grandpatzer.

Enter a word for your own slogan:

Generated by the Advertising Slogan Generator. Get more Grandpatzer slogans.

Play around with it and let me know if one tickles your fancy (for me, or you, or whoever).

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Mate Analysis from Yusupov's BUYC2

Just to give a taste of the level of Yusupov's book, here are the first 6 positions from Chapter 1, with my own, often flawed, analysis. It seems that I am capable of both relatively deep analysis and gross oversights.

Build Up Your Chess 2 by Artur Yusupov

Yusupov has turned a series of chess lessons from his chess academy into a series of books. The first book at the under-1500 Elo crowd; the second is for the 1500-1800 Elo players, and the third book will be for the 1800-2100 Elo level. I'm barely into BUYC2, but so far this book is promising to be just what the doctor ordered.

For a long time I've recognized that one of the most important exercises I should be doing is just analyzing tactical positions at a board, without moving the pieces. The first chapter of mating combinations seems to be tuned to just the right level of difficulty for my needs. However, I would also like to to check out a copy of the first volume as well, because from what I've read on the intertubes it should still be plenty challenging enough).

Unfortunately, I won't be taking this book with me on vacation because I don't want to be packing a chessboard with me. Yusupov is instructing the reader to analyze the positions over a board, write down your analysis, and play the positions out; I agree with that advice and want to use the book accordingly.

For now, I want to give an overview of the contents of the book. I intend to follow up soon with another post featuring some mating problems from the first part of Chapter 1. This is in part to give readers a feel for the level of the book, and in part because some of my mistaken analysis reveals some of my chess weaknesses.

The Table of Contents includes:

1. Mating combinations
2. General endgame principles
3. Combinations involving the back rank
4. General opening principles
5. The double attack
6. Good and bad bishops
7. Candidate moves
8. The centre
9. The pin and the discovered attack
10. Zugzwang
11. Deflection
12. The Greek gift sacrifice
13. Evaluating the position
14. Planning in chess
15. An opening repertoire for White after 1.e4 e5
16. Destroying the castled position
17. an opening repertoire against 1.e4
18. Exchanging
19. Priorities when calculating variations
20. Pawn endings 1
21. Decoying
22. Time in the opening
23. Improving the position of your pieces
24. Pawn endings 2

Plus a final test and recommended books.

Two features immediately strike the eye. The first is the large number and variety of topics, which spans opening, middegame and endgame; tactics, calculation, strategy and endgame technique. The second is the apparent randomness of the order in which the topics are introduced. The first is readily explained: it's the author's intent that, through this series of books, that a student get a well-rounded education and that any gaps in the player's knowledge be filled. As for the second issue, I suspect that there's method in the author's madness. If nothing else, given the length of each lesson (1-2 hours) it would be good to mix it up a little. Plus, some order can be seen in the progression. General opening principles are covered, then the center, then specific opening repertoires, then a discussion on the value of time in the opening.

I will be very interested in the opening material, since the author's approach to developing an opening repertoire seems to match my own. For example, "This is... only an example...You should prepare your repertoire according to your own chess tastes and style. It is very important that you should like and understand the typical positions which result from your chosen opening." I have only skimmed the future sections of the book, but I get the sense the approach taken to studying the opening is "teach a man to fish" rather than "give a man a fish".

I leave for vacation tomorrow, but I'm looking forward to working through this book when I return.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Winning a R vs. Knight's-Pawn Endgame

I recently had another of my obtain-crushing-advantage-then-screwing-up games. However, I managed to draw instead of lose because my opponent couldn't find the win in a R vs. P endgame. The analysis was interesting, because it showcases an interesting resource that is peculiar to knight pawns.

61...Rb2?= 62. g7 Rb7 63. Kh8 Rxg7 64. Kxg7 1/2-1/2

Instead, both 61...Kg5 and 61...Rh2 win for black. I find the former move the clearest, so I will use that move order.

61... Kg5 62. g7 (else 62. Kg7 Rf6) 62... Rh2! prevents promotion of the pawn 63. Kg8 Kg6 64. Kf8 threatens again to promote Rf2+! 65. Kg8:


This is the key finesse: Black must capture the pawn via ...Rh7, not ...Rf7, to avoid stalemate: 65...Rf7?? 66.Kh8 Rxg7 is stalemate.

66. Kh8 Rh1+! 67. Kg8 Rh7 and the pawn falls.

After analyzing this game I found this same type of endgame covered in Muller and Lamprecht's Fundamental Chess Endings (Vaulin-Gashimov, Swidnica 1999 on p. 162). In that game, the attacker also missed the best sequence of moves and ended up drawing.