Chess Games Posts

Chess Clocks Add Intensity to Matches

The ticking chess clock!

Chess is widely regarded as the gentlemen’s game, often requiring calm and dedication as one works their pieces around the board, taking their opponent’s pieces and seeking for that elusive checkmate.  But chess can be a very intense sport, especially in competitive chess tournaments or games between opponents who know each other well, and desperately wish to outwit their compatriot.  Another manner in which one can add a bit of intensity to their next chess match is through the use of a chess clock.  Chess clocks add a ticking clock to each turn, and certainly work to add a bit of drama to your chess matches while the players must not only battle their opponent, but the time that ebbs away with every passing second.

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Chess Noob #12- Simple Checkmates

Now that you know notation, we can start looking at some positions and games and analyzing, etc.  In other words, now you can really start to learn to become a better chess player by reading books and blogs and solving puzzles, etc.

Let’s look at a few simple checkmates that are standard 1st time player mates to learn.

Fool’s Mate

This first simple mate (and actually entire GAME) we’re going to learn is titled “Fool’s Mate” because “only a fool would make such moves”!  It is the fastest possible checkmate where the entire game lasts only TWO MOVES!

1. f3   e5; 2. g4   Qh4#

Scholar’s Mate

Scholar’s Mate gets attempted quite a lot in novice play and even some higher ranked players will go for it as a type of fear tactic, so it’s good to learn both what it is and how to stop it.

The moves for a Scholar’s Mate are: 1. e4   e5; 2. Qh5  Nc6; 3. Bc4   Nf6; 4. Qxf7#

There are a few variations of this from white’s side(such as bringing the Bishop out before the Queen, or bringing the Queen to f3 instead of h5), but that’s the basic idea.  As black, there are many ways to guard against this particular mate.

One way NOT to block is to threaten the Queen with g6.  This results in a dangerous trap that allows White to check with the Queen (Qxe5+), forking the King and Rook:

You may think of answering 2. Qh5 with Nc6.  This will still drop the e-pawn with check… not the worst thing in the world, but still not very ideal. 2. … Nc6 is still a good answer to block against the e-pawn capture.  When White brings the Bishop to c4 for the threat of a mate, you can now push the g-pawn to stop the mate as the King/Rook fork is no longer an issue thanks to the e-pawn being protected by a knight.

Quick Smothermate Trap

A Smothermate, as talked about in a previous blog, is when Checkmate with a Knight when the opponent’s King is blocked in by pieces (and can’t move) that can’t capture said Knight.  Here is a cool little smothermate I saw recently that was very fast…

1. e4  e5; 2. Nf3  Nc6; 3. Bc4  Nd4; 4. Nxe5  Qg5; 5. Nxf7 (forking the Queen and Rook and can’t be captured by the King because it’s protected by a Bishop):

then black resumes- 5. … Qxg2; 6. Rf1 (so it doesn’t get taken) Qxe4+; 7. Be2 (moving the queen there would just result in a queen capture… which, given the circumstances might be the better idea for white at this point) Nf3#

These three fast mates are all possible (and infact, Scholar’s Mate happens quite frequently in beginning chess players’ games).  Now that you know them, you can try them out on your friends, and protect against them when your friends try them on you!

Have a topic you’d like me to cover or a question you’d like to ask? send me an e-mail at flannelmann@yahoo.com

Are Chess Masters Born or Made?

Chess is an interesting game because the skill level that is involved is completely measurable. In chess, a rating system is used that determines the chances that a certain player will win the game. For example, if two players have equal ratings, each player has a 50% chance of winning the game.  If one player is rated 200 ELO points above the other, he has around a 75% chance of winning the game.

When we encounter a highly rated player it’s natural to wonder how he or she became so good at chess. Two master level players can play a blitz game in a few minutes that resembles a work of art. It’s admirable to watch each of them making beautiful moves in mere seconds. To us mortals we tend to wonder to ourselves: ‘How can I do that?!’ Despite these thoughts, studies have shown that much of what makes up skill is actually a result of continuous practice. Even if someone is born with great talent they still require hours of practice and dedication. It is obvious then that great talent without work ethic is worth little.

A famous psychologist and chess master, Adriaan de Groot showed that master level players were able to recognize patterns of pieces on the chessboard much faster than non-masters. When masters were asked to memorize a pattern of pieces that resembled a real game they did considerably better than non-masters. However, when they were asked to memorize a random assortment of pieces they did no better than the amateurs. He found that masters had thousands of patterns in their head from previous experience. This subconscious database gave them a big edge over lesser skilled players. So how do you build up our chess memory? Study tactical and strategic patterns. As you study these patterns over and over, they will become part of your memory. Then during the course of one of your own games suddenly you will get an idea or inspiration. That’s your previous experience at work. As you learn more patterns, your skill level increases, and then maybe you too will play a game that’s a work of art!

How To Improve Your Tactical Vision

It’s been said that chess is 99% tactics. Whether that is true is a matter of debate. Nevertheless, if you fail to see the tactical possibilities on the chess board you will most likely lose the game. The great thing is that studying tactics and combinations is fun! Combinations are a big part of what gives chess its artistic flair. So now that we know tactics are important how do we get better at them? Here I’ll outline a simple but effective plan of study.

1)      Solve Chess Diagrams Every Day. Get a book of chess problems and combinations that is on the market. Practice solving the problems for around 30 minutes a day. Try to work through the problems slowly. Don’t rush; make sure you see why the move you are making wins. Visualize the series of moves to the end, which brings us to…

2)      Work to Improve Your Visualization Skills. Try closing your eyes and visualizing the board. Try mentally dividing the board into parts. Is e4 a white square or a dark square? What about d4? Don’t worry if it’s difficult at first, just keep practicing.

3)      Analyze Your Games. Look for spots where you had trouble and analyze them afterwards. Try to remember how you were thinking at that time. If you made a mistake try to think why you chose that particular move. Did you not see what your opponent was threatening? Were you just so caught up with your own moves that you had a blind spot? These are common errors that chess players make.

4)      Study Games from Great Tactical Players. Pick a player with a highly tactical style, maybe Alexander Alekhine or Gary Kasparov. Play over and study their games.

Try sticking with this study plan long term. Thirty minutes each day is over 180 hours a year you will have spent improving your tactics!