Favorite Chess Sites

What are everyone's favorite chess sites? Where do you like to play? Where do you like to study? Where do you like to find games?

It has been a while since I have posted - work and summer caught up to me and I had too many things going on. I am hoping to start posting regularly again. I have played a game now and then and watched my coworkers fight out some games while I worked and had lunch.

As for my favorite sites, I really like to play on freechess.org. I like Chesslab for finding games. I still have not found a prefered website for studying on, but I do like Chess Tactics Server and Chess Tempo.


Places to Play Chess online, part 5

Chessboss is a newcomer to the online chess arena. It is an all web interface - but it seems to be missing a lot of features. The biggest problem with Chessboss is the lack of players. Anyone can create and run a tournament which is nice. With the many other options it feels like Chessboss does not have a large enough following for one to have a good number of people to play with. But if you are looking for a quick casual game it might fit you.

Related Posts
Places to Play Chess online
Places to Play Chess online, part 2
Places to Play Chess online, part 3
Places to Play Chess online, part 4


Attacking Chess Game of the Week - 07-23-2010


Attacking Chess Puzzle of the Week - 07-23-2010

Last Weeks puzzle:

Solution: 1.Nh5 Qb2 2.d4 Qxd4 3.Rxd4 with 4.Qxg7++

An easy one this week.

FEN - rnbb1rk1/3q1pn1/p2p3Q/1ppN4/4P2P/5N2/PPP1BPP1/3R1RK1 w - - 0 1


Chess News of the Week - Anatoly Karpov out for a fight

Anatoly Karpov out for a fight - Telegraph
Karpov's lawyers, White & Case, are a global firm based in Manhattan. They seek nothing less than the disqualification of the incumbent FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov who is standing for a fifth term.

The rules demand that at least one member of a Presidential ticket be female and Ilyumzhinov's choice is American WIM Beatriz Marinello. Supporting documents indicate Ms Marinello was not nominated by the US Chess Federation but by her native Chile and Brazil. Karpov contends she is not even a member of either federation.

Karpov's lawyers also seek a ruling confirming he was nominated by the Russian Chess Federation. There is a supporting video of a meeting endorsing Karpov on May 14th. Subsequently the RCF was hijacked by Ilyumzhinov's supporters. Propaganda is very important at this stage as many smaller countries await events to be sure of being on the winning side. The election will be held this September during the Chess Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk.

Seems like an odd rule to me - but I have no problems with it.  I don't follow too much about the FIDE - but I do like Karpov.  I would love to see another Kasparov - Karpov match.  What I would like to happen is for the new FIDE president to push for chess in the Olympics.


Places to Play Chess online, part 4

Another good place to play chess online is Gameknot.com. There are some good things they provide. The teams are really cool, and the ladder is pretty nice as well. The problem with this site is that to get some of the nice features one must pay a pretty high membership fee. To be able to captain a team one must pay $60 a year. For that price it seems better to consider a Diamond chess.com account. You get a much better overall experience there. But if you are looking for another place to play some email games, Gameknot is fairly good.

Related Posts
Places to Play Chess online
Places to Play Chess online, part 2
Places to Play Chess online, part 3


Attacking Chess Puzzle of the week - 2010-07-15

Last weeks puzzle:

Solution:1. Qxf8 Kxf8 2. Bh6+ Kg8 3.Re8 ++

This weeks puzzle:


Attacking Chess Opening Overview - Reti Gambit

This gambit against the French is not very well know and has not had a large amount of popularity.  It is slowly gaining players who like and - and there are some GMs are also playing it.  It is a fun chess opening that is played against the French defense.  The most recent book on it was written by Thomas Johansson and is called The Fascinating Reti Gambit.

The gambit was first played by Reti just before he switched from 1.e4 to playing 1.Nf3.  Sad to say that he did not continue playing the variation and it was fairly obscure for a long time.  In the 90s a number of GMs starting playing the variation.  Most players of the French Defense look down on it and most books only give a line on it and say Black as equality or an advantage.

The gambit starts out like this.  1.e4 e6 2. b3

This takes Black out of his standard French play and White ends up playing a gambit.  The main line plays as follows:

2... d5 3. Bb2 dxe4 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.Qe2 Bb4 6.O-O-O Qe7 7.Kb1 Ndb7 8.g4 O-O 9. g5 Nd5 10. Nxe4

Common Tactics
  1. Opposite side castling - this often leads to crazy attacks where White and Black try to mate each other first.
  2. g4-g5 - This attack often forces the Black knight to a less than ideal location.
  3. Bg2 will give White more influence in the center and often wins back the sacrificed pawn.
The main purpose behind the gambit is to throw Black into a tactical game instead of the many quiet games that they can have playing the French defense. The game is much more open than the standard French defense, and with opposite side castling it is sure to have both sides attacking. The Reti Gambit is very interesting and the games are full of interesting tactical ideas.


Chess News of the week - Nepal Chess Association granted membership to Nepal Olympic Committee

MYREPUBLICA.com - News in Nepal: Fast, Full & Factual
KATHMANDU, July 5: Nepal Olympic Committee (NOC) granted its associate membership to Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) and Nepal Chess Association.

An NOC meeting has endorsed the requests by the respective associations for membership recently on the basis of participation of the games in regional and continental tournaments and their popularity in Nepal.

"We have consulted international authorities and decided to grant the membership," said NOC President Dhruba Bahadur Pradhan at a press conference on Monday.

This is the first time NOC has added members after its establishment.

"International Cricket Council is already in Olympic movement and we are also participating in tournaments like SAG and Asian Games. We are not separate from the Olympic movement," said CAN President Binaya Raj Pandey. Likewise, Nepal Chess Association President Rajesh Hari Joshi thanked NOC for the membership.
Would be fun to see chess in the World Olympics.    Maybe have speed chess or game/30 to keep the speed interesting for spectators.  I remember seeing some chess matches that were covered on PBS on year.


Places to Play Chess online, part 3

One of the more popular places to play online chess is the Internet Chess Club.
It has been around for a long time.  ICC and FICS split many years ago when the internet was in its infancy.  FICS wanted to provide a free place to play chess while the ICC wanted to provide some services which had a cost.  Both are good sites and provide a good service.  ICC has a lot more players on normally, and there are some other benefits to the service.  The problem is the cost.  It costs $70 a year for a membership.  The price seems very high and it has kept me from playing there since there are many other places to play.

If the $70 a year is not a problem, ICC provides good services and has a good number of players to play against.  You get access to chess.fm - videos teaching chess.  Personally - I play at FICS and chess.com for free.

See my previous posts for more places to play chess online.
Places to Play Chess online
Places to Play Chess online, part 2


Attacking Chess Game of the Week - 2010-07-09


Attacking Chess Puzzle of the week - 2010-07-08

Answer to last weeks puzzle:

1. Rxg6 hxg6 2. Qxg6 Bg7 3. Bxg7++

This weeks puzzle:


Attacking Chess Opening Overview - Smith-Morra Gambit

The Smith-Morra gambit always evokes a very strong response from many players. It is the ideal idea - limit the large amount of theory that one must know and learn a system that allows White to have an initiative while putting the Sicilian player on the defensive. It has a less than ideal reputation but it is a good alternative for players to learn tactics, open lines and have less opening study to do.

The gambit is relatively new, but the idea has been around for a while. Morphy was the first player to do the c3 gambit, but it was not in the modern move order. Tartakower was the first grandmaster who actually tried to play the modern move order. He played the gambit on and off through his career. In South America there was some analysis done by Rivadavia. The major contribution to the popularization of the gambit was done by Pierre Morra and Ken Smith. They provided a good amount of analysis and played it enough to get attention.

1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3. c3
This is the starting position of the Smith-Morra gambit.  It can be declined at this point, although accepting it with the intent to show it is weak seems like the rage right now.

3...dxc3 4. Nxc3 Nc6 5. Nf3 d6 6. Bc4 e6 7. O-O Nf6 8. Qe2 Be7 9. Rd1

This is the classical main line position.  White is threatening 10. e5, is castled, has an active position and development is ahead of Black.

In general, White develops with the following scheme Nf3, Bc4, O-O, Qe2, Rd1 followed by deciding on the best place for the queen bishop.  Sometimes Black plays to take advantage of this setup and it must be changed but normally Whites setup is fine.

Common Tactics
There are some common tactics that exist in the Smith-Morra. I list them below.
  1. e5 thrust
  2. Knight sacrifice on d5
  3. Piece Sacrifice on b5
The Smith-Morra gambit is a fun, exciting gambit that takes Black out of his comfort zone in the Sicilian.  The game usually ends up with White having the initiative in a fairly even game.  Black is denied from playing his pet Sicilian system and has to be more defensive.  There are a number of ways for Black to equalize, but the games are fun and complex.


Chess News of the Week - FIDE elections - Karpov versus Ilyumzhinov

Susan Polgar Chess Daily News and Information: FIDE Election Update
The FIDE Secretariat announces that the following Presidential Tickets and Continental Presidents have submitted their candidacies to the FIDE office by 28 June 2010.

Concerning the FIDE elections, the Russian Chess Federation (RCF) informed FIDE on 28 June 2010 that the Supervisory Board of the RCF, during its meeting of 28 June, confirmed the letter of its Chairman Mr Arkady Dvorkovich to FIDE on 21 April, nominating Kirsan Ilyumzhinov as Russia's candidate for the office of FIDE President 2010-2014. Furthermore, the RCF informed FIDE that the letter sent by Mr. Alexander Bakh on 23 June is not valid on nominating a candidacy from the Russian Chess Federation. Attached are all the relevant documents as sent by the RCF.

Interesting that there are only two candidates in this election. Karpov is probably the US favorite, but it seems that Ilyumzhinov has a better chance to win. Karpov having been the world champion would make a very interesting FIDE president.


Places to Play Chess online, part 2

Another place that I have been playing online is chess.com. The major attraction here is the correspondence type games.  You add a seek or respond to one indicating that you are ready to play.  The time control is from 1 day per move all the way up to 14 days per move.  There are a good number of players here and the games seem to start fairly quickly.  They are very pushy about getting money from you which is annoying however.

There are also other features that they have that are nice.  Live Chess is available, which kind of functions as a Internet Chess Server via a browser.  It is not as good as FICS but it works.  They have video lessons which require one to be a member.  It is an interesting idea and the membership fee goes to pay the GMs and IMs who are creating the content.  There is a Game Explorer which is pretty worthless without a membership as well.  There are a lot more features, but most of them require payment.

The main reason to log into chess.com is the free correspondence play.  If you happen to be willing to shell out the money for the membership there are some interesting features for studying chess.

See my previous post for more places to place online chess, Places to play Chess Online


Tools used for creating a chess blog

When I started my blog a few weeks ago I had a hard time finding good places to create board images and finding a way to share PGN games. Hopefully this post will help others who decide to create a chess blog.  There are a good number of tools available and I have found these to be great.

  • For creating Chess Diagrams, I have been using chessup.net.  The website allows you to setup a board, change the colors as needed and then create an image that you can upload to your blog.  It works great.  
  • Another way to create diagrams is to use a program called DiagTransfer.  It is a native Windows program, but it works fine in Crossover Office.  It allows you to add arrows and markers to a board.  I still have not used it but when I get into describing a position more in depth I probably will use the arrows and markers.
  • As for posting games, I have found pgn4web to be the best option.   It will accept a PGN game as input and will create a board on the page to show that specific game.
  • I use Blogger to host my blog.  It works fairly well and is a common blogging platform that is well supported.
  • Scribefire is a nice Firefox addon that allows one to write posts to multiple blogs.  It is highly recommended and cross platform.
If you write a chess blog which tools do you use for sharing games, puzzles etc?  Are there any really nice ones that I missed?


Attacking Chess Puzzle of the week - 2010-07-01

Answer to last weeks Puzzle:

1...Bxh3 starts an attack on White's king.  If White ignores the threat then Black will followup with 2...Bxg2++.  If White plays 2. gxh3 then 2...Qxh3 3. Qh2 Qxh2++.

White would try sacrificing his Queen for a Rook and Bishop - but this failed because the Rook on d1 is hanging.  2. Qxf2 Qxf2 3. gxh3 Qf3+ with a fork on the King and the Rook.

2. Qh2 is another try but it fails to 2...Rxg2 3. Qxd6 Rxa2 and the discovered check wins.

This weeks puzzle:

FEN : 3r1rkb/4qp1p/p5p1/1p3Q1N/8/PBP3R1/1P1p2PP/R5K1 w - - 0 1


Attacking Chess Opening Overview - Dutch Defense

An opening that always intrigued me has been the Dutch Defense.  It creates an imbalanced attacking game where black is fighting to win instead of working to neutralize Whites first move advantage. Currently I play the King's Indian and looking at some of the Leningrad variation they seem similar.  The main line for the Leningrad can be found below:

At this point the game is very imbalanced and both sides will need to watch for various tactics. It seems like the kind of opening I would love to play. I have had issues with so many people playing Anti King's Indian variations that I sometimes consider learning this and playing it.

Chessgames.com has a section dedicated to the Leningrad Dutch


Chess News of the Week: Carlson wins Kings Tournament

Carlsen wins Kings Tournament : Chess news by ChessVibes
Magnus Carlsen finished the Kings Tournament in Bazna, Romania in style. The Norwegian beat Wang Yue with Black in the last round to finish with a 7.5/10 score, two points ahead of the rest of the field. Ponomariov and Radjabov defeated Nisipeanu and Gelfand respectively, also with the black pieces.

Interesting to see Carlsen dominating in this tournament. I enjoyed reviewing his Dragon game in round 5.


FICS (freechess.org) Interface Recommendation

In my previous post about Places to Play Chess Online, I recommended that everyone use Jin.  There are a lot of interfaces that work fairly well.  I review them in this post for each of the platforms I have used to connect to FICS.  See my Chess Links page for links to the various FICS interfaces.

OS X FICS Interfaces

  • Jin - Highly recommended for OS X - great seek graph - cross platform
  • Visir - No chat at all - makes it very hard to play in tournaments.
  • Fixation - Newer - seems to have some basic features but does not work as well a Jin.

Linux FICS Interfaces

  • Jin - Great seek graph - cross platform
  • eboard - I like the board and console for this interface - works great and seems to be the best Linux interface
  • Visir - No chat at all - makes it very hard to play in tournaments

Windows FICS Interfaces

  • Jin - Great seek graph - cross platform
  • Babaschess - Best windows interface - highly configurable - easy to use - probably the best interface to FICS.

Iphone FICS Interfaces

  • Ichess Pack - Good seek table, connects to training with the online lectures, Endgame bot and PuzzleBot.


Studying Chess Openings

This is something every amateur (That's me!) at some time in their life spends too much time studying.  In my study plan (Chess Study Plan) I have planned to spend around 30 mins a week studying chess openings.  But what will I be studying and how will I remember it?
  1. The first thing to remember is that as someone still learning chess, studying openings a lot is not productive.  One needs to spend more time studying tactics, endgame and masters games.
  2. What seems to be the most difficult for a player to do is to choose which openings to play.  That can be an entirely different discussion.  I am assuming that you already know which openings you want to play.
  3. Download Chess Position Trainer (See my Chess Links page for the link) and install it.  If you use a Mac or Linux, I would suggest installing Virtualbox (or another VM system) and a copy of Windows in the VM just for studying with this tool.  Here is a screenshot from their website. 

  4. How I use Chess Position Trainer(CPT) for openings is I create a subrepertoire for each of the openings I want to study. As I read through a book I will input the lines I want to use and learn.  There is a spot to take notes on the current board and indicate the plans, tactics etc.  This is ideal for keeping track of things you find while studying.
  5. Each time I play a game, I use CPT's Find Novelty option, which will find where the game deviated from where I studied.  I can see if I had studied a different line or if it is new.  I look up in books the novelty and see if someone has covered it.  I then make a decision on what I want to play and add it to my CPT repertoire.
  6. Something to remember, you may not understand the ideas behind the moves the opponent is making.  There are books that can be purchased for this, or you can spend some time thinking about why you think they did it.  Reviewing your game with a friend or mentor is a great way to learn the plans.  I use the Basic Chess Openings and More Basic Chess Openings books to get the general idea of openings.
  7. You should study games played by masters that match your repertoire.  These can be from a book, website or database that you have on your computer.
  8. After finishing reading a book, CPT has a great study tool in which is quizzes you on the lines you added to it.  This is high recommended to improve line retention, but don't forget the ideas behind the moves are more important.  The study tool includes a way of tracking your progress in learning your opening.  It provides the percentage of positions that you have learned.
  9. To continue to learn and be comfortable in your opening of choice you must play a lot of games with that opening.  A great way to do this is playing speed chess - online or at a club.  Online you have an advantage in that you can save all the games and review them later.  Once you get comfortable with the opening, playing it in slower games is great.  (Check out my Chess Links page for places to play - I will be adding and reviewing more places as time goes on).

I am sure there is something that I am missing on studying an opening. What do you do to learn your opening repertoire? Are there features I missed in CPT? How do you figure out what the ideas are in various openings? Are there websites that have overviews of chess openings?

I will be starting my Chess Study plan this weekend and plan on having a weekly update on how I am progressing.


Attacking Chess Tactical Puzzle of the week

Studying tactics is a great way to improve ones game. I will be studying them about an hour and a half a week and I will share ones that I enjoy. I will post the tactic and then one week later after everyone has had a chance to discuss what the answers are I will post the answer with the next weeks tactic. Hopefully this will prove to be fun and interactive. If anyone has a tactic from their own game or one they like feel free to send it to me and I will share it.

Below is a tactic that I found interesting during the last week.

Here is the FEN string for those who wish to import it.

FEN: 2b2Nk1/7p/p2n2p1/1pNP4/7q/2PB3P/P4rP1/3R2QK b - - 0 1


Creating a Chess Study Plan

In order to improve my chess I need to spend time each week studying the various aspects of chess. It is difficult for me to spend more than an hour a day in my improvement process so I will allocate 7 hours a week for chess improvement. My chess plan can be found in the table at the end of the post.

It is possible I may have more time on some weeks and less time on others. By improving across a large number of areas, I will shore up my weaknesses and improve my strengths. A lot of Amateurs spend a lot of time studying openings which stunts their growth. Learning a little bit about openings is important but spending a lot of time on them is not constructive. The most important areas to spend time on is Tactics, Studying Master Games and Studying your own games after playing them. What good does learning every opening in MCO if you never use it or are lost once you get there.

If you have your own chess study plan please post in the comments so we can compare. I would love to figure out how to improve mine.

I will follow up with posts on how I am studying the various areas, what tools and materials I am using and how to measure progress if possible.

7 hours a week
Time to Spend Activity Why is this activity important
1/2 hour Opening Study Slowly growing my opening Repertoire
1 1/2 hours Tactics Improving chess tactics will be biggest factor for improvement
1/2 hour Middle Game Study Learn how to get to positions where tactics will help win games
1/2 hour Endgame Study Win won games, draw seemingly lost ones
1 hour Master Game Study Studying masters games will help me in all areas of chess. I will see the kind of openings they play, tactics they use and plans they develop.
2 hours Play Games If I don't practice what I learn I will forget it.
1 hour Review Games Learning from ones own mistakes is a requirement to improving in chess.


Chess News of the Week : Bobby Fischer exhumation in paternity suit

Icelandic court allows exhumation of chess great Bobby Fischer in paternity suit

The remains of chess genius Bobby Fischer are to be exhumed to determine whether he is the father of a 9-year-old girl, a lawyer representing the child and her mother said Thursday.

Thordur Bogason, a lawyer based in the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik, said the country's Supreme Court made the decision earlier this week in order to allow for tests so his client, Jinky Young, can find out who her father is.

"At this point we are just trying to establish this," he said. "And if she is confirmed as the daughter of Bobby Fischer, then by Icelandic law she is his legal heir."

Fischer, 64, died in Iceland in January 2008. He left no will, Bogason said, adding that legal cases over who has the right to the U.S.-born player's estate are ongoing.

Bogason said he had no information on the size of the estate left by Fischer. His longtime partner and relatives in the United States are also involved in the dispute, the lawyer said.

Link to more information - http://bit.ly/akxjq3


Interesting Chess Game that I studied over the weekend

The game that follows I found in a TWIC pgn download. I am learning the King's Gambit so I searched for all of the games in that download. This was an interesting one that I found.

The kind of attacks that come out of the King's Gambit is fun. It is very complex and there are a lot of opportunities for tactics.


Places to play chess online

I am going to start going through the many places you can play online and give a review of them. If I don't have a membership I will try to use it as a free player.

The first place I will review is FICS (Free Internet Chess Server).

From their website (Freechess.org)I grabbed a real quick description

Play chess on the web for free.
The Free Internet Chess Server, with over 300000 registered users, is one of the oldest and one of the largest internet chess servers. Whether serious with your chess or just looking for the occasional game, whether looking for another player or eager to challenge a strong computer, whether you like a blitz chess or you are fond of one of the many variants, here you can play chess over the internet for free.

This is the best option I have found for free chess. There is good competition - almost always have a tournament running. They are stable and have been around a long time. If you have not logged into a Internet Chess Server before - you will need a client to connect. One of the best clients that exists to connect to FICS is called Jin Chess Client. This program runs on Linux, OS X and Windows. It connects you to the server - displays a graph of all the available games and provides a chessboard to make your moves on. There are many others as well but I have found this one to work best.

The Freechess.org staff have been around a long time and provide a great service to the chess community. Login and check them out.


Attacking Chess Blog

I used to play a lot of chess back when I was younger.  I got burnt out on it and have decided to come back.  I thought a blog would be a good way to keep track of my progress. 

I ran a chessclub in Mesa, AZ for 6 years as the TD.  I moved to Utah and have been inactive in chess for the past two years.

Here is a game I played this week on FICS.  It was a fun Smith-Morra Gambit. I made a poor mistake near the end and lost.