Let's take a look at some easy tactics from my online games. Practicing tactics is critical if you hope to become a strong player.
1. Black to move
2. White to move
3. Black to move
1. 1. ...Nxd4! and Black wins a huge central pawn, 2. Qxd5? loses to Bc5
2. 1. Qxc6!+ Kb8 2.Qxb7 mate
3. Here Black played 1. ...Bd7? and eventually lost. 1. ...0-0-0!+ wins the rook on b7 because it's check.
I love reading the Sunday New York Times, and the March 17, 2019 edition printed a great story about an 8-year-old boy. The son of Nigerian refugees, he lives with his family in a Manhattan homeless shelter. And he loves chess!
He learned how to play a year ago and today his USCF rating stands at 1480, which is good for his age. A bright beginner usually has a rating around 1000.
Tanitoluwa Adewumi is now New York State's chess champion for K-3rd grade. Not bad at all.
People around the world have talent but not all of them get the right opportunities. This boy now has access to chess lessons and people have started a GoFundMe page to help his family.
This is an awesome story and I wish the boy great success.
2019 Spring Swiss
Dates: Mar 11, 18, 25 Apr 1, 8
Place: Langley Chess Club, 19899 – 36 Ave, Langley (Brookswood Seniors Centre)
Rounds: 5 rounds swiss format. CFC rated
Start Time: 7:00 pm
Time Control: 90 minutes each with 30 seconds increment
Open To: Everyone. Juniors welcome.
Entrance Fee: $20 (Club members pay $10)
Prizes: None. Play for the enjoyment of the game!
Registration: Before Round 1, 6:50pm – 7:00pm
Tournament Director: Brian Davidson
Please see full details on this event, and other upcoming events, on our Schedule page:
GM Vladimir Kramnik, the former World Chess Champion, had a poor tournament result in the 2019 Tata Steel Chess tournament in Wijk aan Zee. And at the end of the event he officially announced his retirement from classical chess.
Details will follow later but it appears that Kramnik is excited about working on new projects, especially with chess and kid's education. That, I believe, should be great for chess.
If you're interested in Kramnik's rise to the top, I still have two copies of his ChessBase DVD My path to the top. Local Vancouver-area readers can send $29 by PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org and arrange for pick-up.
Born in 1975 in Tuapse on the shores of the Black Sea, Vladimir Kramnik studied at the Botvinnik-Kasparov chess school. At 16 he was included in the Russian Olympiad team and scored a sensational 8.5/9, the best result at the Olympiad. After that followed a string of great tournament results, culminating in a world championship challenge. In 2000 Kramnik played the chess legend Garry Kasparov and beat him to take the title, which he successfully defended in 2004 against Peter Leko and 2006 against FIDE champion Veselin Topalov, whom he defeated to take the unified world championship title.
On this DVD Vladimir Kramnik retraces his career from talented schoolboy to World Champion in 2006. With humour and charm he describes his first successes, what it meant to be part of the Russian Gold Medal team at the Olympiad, and how he undertook the Herculean task of beating his former mentor and teacher Garry Kasparov. Kramnik dissects his wins against Leko and Topalov, giving us a vivid impression of the super-dramatic final games of the 2006 match. His commentary is full of useful advice and provides a fascinating insight into the thought processes that govern top level play.
The DVD contains more than six hours of video with narrative and game analysis. There are also five additional segments from an exclusive video interview on the intrigues that surrounded the 2006 world championship, and on the state of the chess world in general.
White to move!
White has three moves and they all lead to disaster. 1. h7 Rxh7-+ and Black just walks his King over; 1. Kb7 or Kxa7 Rxa5 2.h7 Rh5 -+. A few moves earlier I was still sweating because White had his g and h pawns and was clearly hoping to take on a7 and march his own pawn down to a8. Luckily I found the holding move Rh5. I love it when everything works out in the endgame.
My chess team -Chess First! Academy-overcame a slow start to post a 5-4 win and collect two match points. With two rounds to go we should make the playoffs.
My young opponent rushed in the opening and gave me his d-pawn for free; then we reached this position where he is losing the f2-pawn.
One pawn is bad enough but two pawns down makes it hard to hold the endgame. Now check out the position later in the game.
Black promoted two queens and mated the white king. Now the match score was 4-4 and Len Molden offered a draw, which would have tied the match 4.5-4.5. His opponent declined and promptly lost his queen. This was the crucial point we needed to win the match 5-4.
One word of caution to online chess players. In the position below black promotes his pawns into two queens. But when you play exclusively online you get sloppy like me last year. I pushed a pawn and mechanically pressed my clock which made it an illegal move. The arbiter gave the game to my opponent and his friends wondered how an NCM-titled player can't promote his pawns!? Hahaha.
So, promote your pawn, grab a queen and place it on the board, then press your clock. It sounds obvious but online the queen appears automatically or you get a prompt before the move is completed. When that becomes a habit you can run into problems over-the-board.
The obvious solution is to play more over-the-board chess.
I spent some time this Saturday preparing for Sunday's rapid chess league. I have to play a minimum 7 games to qualify for playoff action.
So let's take a look.
Black has just played 1. ...Bb7 and your puzzle rush junkie chess coach knew what to do. Do you?
White to play
It's always more fun to attack than defend. The key here is to go after your target: the black king. Examine the position and know that this is NOT a good moment to worry about material balance. Attack bravely and get bonus points for seeing deeper.
White to play
27. Bxg6! (There is no time to waste because Black is ready to play Rc1. Attack bravely.) fxg6 28. Qxg6+ (Very sloppy, 28. Qe7 and mate next on g7) Kf8 29. Ng5 Ke7 30. Qg7+ (Sloppy: 30. Qf7 + Kd8 31. Nxe6#) Kd8 31. Nxe6+ Ke8 32. h7 Nf8 33. h8=Q Rc1 34. Qhxf8# 1-0
This is the final position with White achieving the dream doubled rooks on the seventh rank. Note how helpless black is.
The five keys below were openly "stolen" from a blog by IM Jeremy Silman on chess.com. I liked them so much, I had to share.
Many chess players play for fun but if you want to get a higher rating or a chess title, you will have to put in some hard work. The 5 keys below will get you started.
1. Play opponents better than you.
Sometimes it hurts when you get beat up but that's how you learn. Once in a while I get lucky online and a strong titled player plays several games against me. I get crushed but I keep on playing.
2. Learn basic endgames
GM Jonathan Hawkins published a great book called "From Amateur to IM" and in it he shows how studying the endgame helped him get to IM. You must know the basics.
3. Create a simple opening plan.
It can be very simple. For example, after 1.d4 I often play Bg5, this works after d5, f5, d6, Nf6, g6, etc.
Against the Sicilian you can play Bb5 or 2.c3.
4. Study tactics
If you're a regular reader of this blog you will know that I firmly believe in this point. You must practice tactics because they will win you games or save you from losses. Chess.com's new Tactics Rush is a fun way to test your tactics level. You get 5 minutes to solve as many puzzles as you can; three mistakes and you're out.
5. Pick up tons of patterns.
Examples coming later.
Let's take a look at a basic endgame from the 2018 World Chess Championship. Black has a dangerous passed c pawn but White neatly solves the problem.
1. ...gxf5 2. Nxc4 Kxc4 3. exf5 and it's a draw. You can also sacrifice your knight if you know that:
White will park his King on h1 because Black's dark bishop doesn't control that square; and promoting the h pawn is impossible without creating a stalemate.
See how easy it is when you know the basics? Good luck with your chess in 2019.
This position is from my rapid game. It was past midnight on the West Coast but crushing positions like this are easy to win. What I want you to do is notice the basic elements.
White is clearly winning: he has the bishop pair on open diagonals, both rooks are on open files and the king is safe. Black's king is stuck in the middle of the board and his knights are pinned.
These are basic elements for you to master: things to achieve and things to avoid. I wish you lots of wins in 2019.
One huge key to playing better chess is playing against stronger opponents. Sure, you will get beat up but that's the best way to improve. Playing against weaker opponents will only improve your ego.
When I play online chess at ICC, I hang out in the random pools, 3 0, 5 0, and 15 0 where you are guaranteed to face titled opponents. I know it's a bit scary but it's the best way to improve. If you're like me, you will probably destroy the odd mouse as you sweat your way through the games.
And getting a titled scalp feels great! See my game below.
[Event "ICC 3 0"]
[Site "Internet Chess Club"]
[White "(IM) Alfonso Almeida"]
[Black "(NCM) Vas Sladek"]
1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Ng3 Bg6 6. h4 h6 7. Nf3 Nd7 8. h5
Bh7 9. Bd3 Bxd3 10. Qxd3 Ngf6 11. Bf4 e6 12. O-O-O Be7 13. Kb1 O-O 14. Rhe1 Re8
15. Qb3 Qb6 16. Qxb6 axb6 17. Be5 b5 18. Bxf6 Nxf6 19. c3 Rad8 20. a3 Bd6 21.
Ne5 Nd5 22. Ne4 Bc7 23. g3 Nf6 24. Nxf6+ gxf6 25. Ng4 Kg7 26. f4 Rd5 27. Rh1 f5
28. Ne3 Rdd8 29. Kc2 Kh7 30. Rh3 Rg8 31. Nf1 Rg7 32. Rd3 Rdg8 33. Rf3 Rg4 34.
Kd3 R4g7 35. Ke2 Rd8 36. Rd3 Kg8 37. Nd2 Kf8 38. Nf3 Ke7 39. Ne5 Bxe5 40. fxe5
Rg5 41. Rh4 Rdg8 42. Kf2 Rg4 43. Rxg4 Rxg4 44. Kf3 Rg5 45. Rd2 Rxh5 46. Rg2 f6
47. exf6+ Kxf6 48. Re2 Rh3 49. Kg2 Rh5 50. b3 Rg5 51. Kf3 h5 52. a4 bxa4 53.
bxa4 Rg4 54. Rb2 h4 55. gxh4 Rxh4 56. Rb3 Rh3+ 57. Ke2 Rh7 58. a5 e5 59. dxe5+
Kxe5 60. Rb4 Kd5 61. Ke3 Ke5 62. Rc4 Rh3+ 63. Kd2 Kd5 64. Rb4 Rh7 65. Rf4 Ke5
66. Ra4 Rh2+ 67. Ke3 c5 68. a6 Rh3+ 69. Kd2 bxa6 70. Rxa6 Rh2+ 71. Kd3 Rh3+ 72.
Kc4 Rf3 73. Rc6 Kf4 74. Rxc5 Kg4 75. Kd4 Rf1 76. Rc8 Rd1+ 77. Ke3 Re1+ 78. Kd2
If you need help, please check out the affiliate link below. It will help you in your quest to defeat titled players.
NCM Vas Sladek
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