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.