CategoriesWorld Chess

This Week: The World Open!!!

This week, in Philadelphia, PA, USA is the 40th Annual World Open.  Perhaps one of the largest chess tournaments on the planet, this week there will be THOUSANDS of chess players from all over the globe competing for HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of dollars! That’s a lot of chess sets, and some very large prizes.

I’ll be one of the chess players at the tournament hoping to win my section and take home a large bounty at the end of the long, grueling week of chess games!  I’ll be posting blogs all week long on the on-goings of the tournament, how players are doing, and hopefully getting some tips and advice from some of the greatest chess players alive today!

Here’s a rundown of the tournament:

There are 9 sections in the main event: Open, U2400, U2200, U2000, U1800, U1600, U1400, U1200, U900.  This is great, because it means everyone in the tournament will be paired against players around their own strength (I’ve done very poorly in the past in “open” tournaments where I was stuck constantly playing opponents with ratings that were several hundred points higher than me round after round… the fact that I’m playing people only withing 200 points or less of my own rating makes me much more confident, and means the games will be much more fierce).

There are several side events including several Blitz tournaments (games of 5 minute time control), the Senior Amateur championships (open to players with ratings under 2010 and aged at least 50 years old), The Women’s Championship (open to all female players of the world), the Under 13 championships (open to all players aged 13 yrs old or less), and the Under 13 Booster (Open to players aged 13 yrs or less and having a rating of U1000).

Between all the sections and bonus tournaments, there will be over $250,000 in prizes!  Top prize for the open section alone is $20,000!!!!!  For many of us, that’s a year’s worth of pay for winning 9 games of chess!

Time control for the open section is 40/90, SD/30 w/30sec inc. (which, you’ll discover in a future blog means 40 moves in 90 minutes, then sudden death of 30 minutes using 30 second increments). Time control for all the other sections (for the longer schedules) are 40/2, SD/1 w d/5  except for the U900 section and the Under 13 booster which is G/65 w d/5.  These time controls are based on the longest possible schedules (which in most cases is 5 days).  The time controls get shorter for players that opt for shorter schedules (either 4 days of chess or 3 days of chess).

Personally, I’m playing a full 5-day schedule so I can have as much time to analyze as possible.  With several months worth of income on the line for the top prize in my section, I can’t afford to make any mistakes by moving too fast!

There will also be trophies, which is always good to prove you won your section to your friends even after you’ve spent your winnings!

Stay tuned all this week as I bring you as up-to-date with the events of the World Open as I can.

Have a topic you’d like me to cover or a question you’d like to ask? send me an e-mail at [email protected]

CategoriesChess For Beginners

Chess Noob #8 – Descriptive Notation

If you play chess online against an opponent or against a chess program on your computer, you’ll notice that the software keeps track of all the moves made in the game with  combination of letters and numbers.  When you play chess in a tournament, you are expected to keep track of your moves and the moves of your opponent in much the same way.  This detailed list of every move made in a chess game is called notation.

There are two main types of notation: descriptive notation, and algebraic notation.  Algebraic notation is the more modern and widely used form of notation, but we’ll go over each type of notation and you can decide which you’d rather use.  In this blog, we’ll only be talking about descriptive.  In the next blog, we’ll talk about algebraic notation and compare it to descriptive and compare the two.

P is for Pawn.  This is used in descriptive notation ONLY.  You’ll understand why once we talk about algebraic notation.

R is for Rook.

B is for Bishop.

N is for Knight.

K is for King.

Q is for Queen.

is the symbol for movement.  This is used in descriptive notation ONLY.

x is the symbol for capturing a piece.

+ is the symbol for Check.

++ is the symbol for Checkmate in descriptive notation.

= is the symbol for Pawn promotion.  After the = will be the symbol for whichever piece you’ve turned the Pawn into (usually Q for Queen)

0-0 is for Castling on the kingside. (The Rook moves 2 spaces)

0-0-0 is for Castling on the queenside. (The Rook moves 3 spaces)

1-0 is the symbol for black resigning (1 win for white, 0 for black)

0-1 is the symbol for white resigning (0 wins for white, 1 for black)

1/2-1/2 is the symbol for a draw (1/2 win for both sides) either by draw offer, stalemate, 50 move rule (the 50 move rule says that if the opponents have both made 50 moves and not a single piece has been captured, then the game is a draw), or 3-move repetition (if the two opponents make the exact same moves 3 times consecutively, the game is a draw).

Now that you know the symbols, let’s talk about how to write your moves using….

Descriptive Notation

Descriptive Notation is also known as English Notation.  It was the widely used form of notation by chess players and authors of chess books up until the 1970’s. It is still used by some chess players, though Algebraic has become the widely used form of notation (infact FIDE does not even allow Descriptive Notation at international events).

In descriptive notation, you are using the aforementioned symbols for all the pieces.  The location of each square is annotated by 1) if it’s Kingside or Queenside, 2) Which piece’s starting location corresponds to that file/column (for instance if it’s the file of the starting position of the Rook on the Kingside, every space in that file would be KR), 3) how many ranks from the player it is (this can be tricky… the 5th rank for white is only the 4th rank for black).

So, from our starting position (I’ve taken out the numbers and letters so you won’t be confused):

If white moves his King Pawn 1 space forward, and then black moves the Pawn in front of his queenside Bishop one space, like this:

It would be written as follows:

 P-K4          P-QB4

As you can see, the tricky part comes from a) recalling if the space is on the Kingside or Queenside, and b) counting the ranks from each opponent’s prospective, not just your own (because, as said, white’s 5th rank is black’s 4th rank).

When capturing a piece, you denote it as X.  On the plus side, you only piece is doing the capturing and what piece is being captured.  in most cases this is simple:

The white Pawn taking the black Pawn would be written simply as


The only time you have to go into more detail is if a piece (or multple pieces of the same type) can take multiple pieces of the same type.  For instance

Here you have 2 white Knights that could each take 2 Pawns.  Therefore you cannot simply write NxP because the question of “which Knight took which Pawn” comes up (although, in this case you’d want to move your Queen to saftey, but for the sake of this lesson, let’s just say you were going to take a pawn with a Knight and do a queen trade.  So our intended move for this is:

Which is written as


Which means: the kNight in the file where the Queenside Bishop started is capturing (x) the Pawn in the file where the Queenside kNight started.

Placing someone in Check will be denoted by the move of the piece putting someone in check followed by a + and a Checkmate will be the move followed by a ++.  For instance, in our first quiz question a couple weeks ago:

The queen was at KB3 before the positon and took the pawn at black’s KB pawn for a Checkmate which would be written like this:


We don’t need to say which Pawn because it was the only Pawn the Queen could take from where she was.

In the next blog, we’ll talk about algebraic notion and compare it to descriptive using the same examples we used here.

Have a topic you’d like me to cover or a question you’d like to ask? send me an e-mail at [email protected]

CategoriesChess For Beginners

Basic Checkmates

As a beginner it’s important to learn which material imbalances lead to a clear win. In this post I’m going to show two very basic checkmates that every beginning chess player should know. The first is checkmating a lone enemy king with your own king and queen. The first concept to understand is that you cannot checkmate the enemy king in the middle of the board. The king must be driven to the edge of the board. The way you do this is by using your queen to cut off escape squares. Take a look at the graphic below:

In the above diagram, white has two moves that will lock the enemy king on the edge of the board. Do you see what they are? They are Qg7 and Qb7. In this case however Qg7 is superior, can you see why? Once the enemy king is driven to the edge of the board it’s a simple matter of moving your own king to support your queen as she gives checkmate. The final position usually looks like this:


Notice how the king is supporting the queen while she is delivering checkmate.

The second basic checkmate a beginner should learn is checkmating a lone king with a king and rook. This checkmate is a little bit harder because it requires the use of temporizing moves. Once again the king must driven to the edge of the board. Let’s take a look at the diagram below where it’s white turns to move:

Notice how if it were black turns to move and our opponent played Ke8 we could play Ra8#. It is however our turn to move. If we play an immediate Kf6 black will escape via Ke8. The key in this position is to make a waiting move. Either Rb7 or Rc7 work fine. Then if black plays Ke8 we checkmate by either Rb8 or Rc8. More likely black will play Kg8, and then the winning sequence is:

1. Rc7 Kg8

2. Kf6 Kh8

3. Kg6 Kg8

4. Rc8#

The final position is in the diagram below.

Although these positions are basic for most chess players, do not underestimate their importance. A good way to practice is to set up the position against a computer and keep practicing until you win every time. Good luck!

CategoriesNew Products

Tournament Chess Equipment Now Available From Regency Chess Co.

Tourament chess supplies

Since 2008 The Regency Chess Company have become established as the UK’s number one retailer of high quality and luxury chess sets. We have imported luxury sets from all over the world and gained a solid reputation based on the high quality of our products. 2012 however sees us move into a new niche, that of the mass produced tournament chess equipment. Our obsession with quality still applies of course, which is why we sourced a range of very high quality, tournament grade plastic chess sets and boards.

Our bulk purchasing power means we can offer these sets to you at very competitive prices and clubs and schools can buy at the best possible price when they purchase quantities of more than five sets. To keep things simple we have added bundle deals to the website that allow you to buy in bulk and make significant savings. All of these sets are stocked in large volume in our warehouse in Frome, Somerset.

For those of you who require custom orders get in touch via phone or email and we can price up what you need. Check out the new category here