04 October 2011

Chess Improvement Carnival, October 2011 Edition

If, like me when I first heard it, the phrase 'blog carnival' makes you think of Mardi Gras, Rio de Janeiro, or the Gilles of Binche, you've got the wrong carnival. That carnival is a Christian tradition that precedes the observance of Lent, the pleasures of the flesh that precede the forty days of abstinence. No, our chess blog carnival is what the dictionary defines as 'a traveling amusement show or circus', and this month the show stops here at 'Chess for All Ages'.

When I signed up to host an edition of the carnival I had no idea how it worked. I had submitted a few items in the past and had wondered how they found their way to the other chess blogs that hosted those earlier editions. It turns that the whole process is well automated and even cranks out a draft InstaCarnival that summarizes all of the info provided by the bloggers at the time of their submissions. One of InstaCarnival's functions is to group posts together according to the category chosen by the submitter. Which category to start with? Openings, of course.


There are at least two major subdivisions of opening theory. The first is how to tackle the huge subject of openings at a meta-level.

ChessAdmin presents Openings Selection: Initial Considerations posted at Path to Chess Mastery. • 'Having recently started studying a new opening, I think it's worth spending some time looking at what factors go into selecting and then learning openings.'

The second cover specific openings. The carnival received two submissions covering open games. Here's the timeless Ruy Lopez (aka Spanish Opening), 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5.

James Stripes presents Steinitz Defense posted at Chess Skills, saying, 'Reading Steinitz's own opening manual, I found recommendations that he made, but then rejected in his own practice.' • 'Wilhelm Steinitz, the father of chess theory, had some ideas that seem wacky today. In The Modern Chess Instructor (1889), he explains why he prefers 3...d6 against the Spanish Opening, rather than the more common Morphy Defense (3...a6) or the Berlin Defense (3...Nf6).'

And here's the romantic Evans Gambit, 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4.

Pau Pascual presents Captain Evans posted at Chess.com, saying, 'The legend of Captain Evans' • 'We are at the sea. Between Milford and Waterford. A grey autumn evening of 1824. It is a windy bad sea, and very cold. William Davies Evans is 34 years old and over 20 years he has spent at the sea. He is playing a game of chess.'

The executive producer of this series of carnivals on the theme of chess improvement is Blue Devil Knight, or BDK, as he's known to the chess blogosphere. He spent some time sifting through the blogs at Chess.com and sent me a few September posts that he thought would be appropriate. Two of them discussed openings at the meta-level.

dpruess (That's IM David Pruess, a Chess.com insider) on First-Time Openings • 'Looking at my opponent for last night's USCL match, I thought that he was at his best in dynamic positions; certainly positions with a clear imbalance and plan, but in particular those with a somewhat faster pace.'

TigerLilov on How to Master Chess Openings • 'In my first blog post for Chess.com this week, I would like to present you with an interesting video I recorded for GeeksWithChess.com about a year ago.'


There are so many angles to tackle the middlegame, that I wouldn't even attempt to count them. Try to categorize the next submission.

Geoff Fergusson presents Sergey Ivashchenko’s Chess School 1b posted at Empirical Rabbit ('The blog that seeks out hard evidence concerning chess training methods for the average player - particularly the not so young average player.'), saying, 'There are two other articles this month. Take your pick!' • 'For my next experiment, I used Sergey Ivashchenko’s Chess School 1b, so I will give it a brief review. This book turned out to be excellent for my purposes. Ivashchenko wrote the first three books of the Chess School series: [links to reviews at Chesscafe.com] Over 200,000 copies of the previous edition of this book were sold in the Soviet Union in the late 1980's.'

The following post is from yours truly. After I wrote and posted it, I realized the title was ambiguous. The ex-World Champion is not talking about blunders ('to hang a Pawn'), he's talking about Pawn duos.

Mark Weeks presents Spassky on Hanging Pawns posted at Chess for All Ages. • In my previous post, "This Pawn Is Garbage", I mentioned Spassky's annotations in the tournament book of the Second Piatigorsky Cup, Santa Monica 1966, almost the only written notes I have ever seen by Spassky.

Here's another gem unearthed by BDK.

chessbuzz on When You See A Tactic... • 'You see a tactical combination on the board and you have the opportunity to play it...you become excited, after all this is your moment to play like Tal, but chances are that you do not play like Tal.'


Two more of the InstaCarnival's categories are 'Humor' and 'Other'.

Solomon Levy presents Hippopotamus played Beethoven’s Triple Concerto posted at Chess.com, saying, 'why not write a few blogs just to humor opponent while at the same time show off a little, bragging rights rightfully earned.' • 'Ludwig van Beethoven's Concerto for Violin, Cello, and Piano in C Major, Op. 56, more commonly known as the Triple Concerto, was composed in 1803 [...] In the game below I played the Hippopotamus Defence against a player and a friend bearing the name of this famous classical tune, Triplekonzert.'

Intermezzo presents The dark art of games(wo)manship posted at Hebden Bridge Chess Club, saying, 'This is more of a short story than a blogpost but this series of articles by our guest writer, Cynthia Blunderboro has proved really popular in the past. Having related various chess related stories from her families rich history in previous efforts, this time she regails us with a salutory lesson from her own experience. She carefully evades the gender debate that she could have become embroiled in and instead reminds us why its most important to play the position infront of you and not your opponent!' • 'A couple of weekends ago, as I watched live coverage of the FIDE World Cup Final in Khanty Mansiysk my wife took an interest (most unusual) and asked about the lady commentator, GM Anna Sharevich.'


This 'kitchen sink' category is just too broad to be useful. Here's another post about the female element in chess.

Pau Pascual presents From Shatranj to chess. The female irruption posted at Chess.com, saying, 'Chess history. The new female role in the board.' • 'The Queen is the most powerful piece of the chessboard, it is the one that dominates more squares, the one that can arrives to any place in only one or two moves.'

And here's a post on sportsmanship, from the winner of the most recent CJA Best Blog award (see 2011 Awards Committee Report; PDF).

Hank Anzis presents Stinging losses posted at Broken Pawn. • 'Twice on Sunday, I got to see Americans lose chances at what passes for sports immortality. [...] At last week’s chess camp, I told the kids that losing hurts but as long as you can learn from the defeat and become a better player it’s OK to lose since they all have at least 50 years of chess playing ahead of them.'

A good part of sportsmanship is realizing that even when the outcome is not what you wanted, there are lessons to be learned.

Robert Pearson presents Willpower, Decision Fatigue and Practical Chess posted at Robert Pearson's Chess Blog. • 'In my last post, I reviewed a game where I played at quite a high level through the first time control, then made a string of weak moves before being offered a rather generous draw. This scenario, pretty strong play through 20-30 moves, an excellent or winning position followed by "blowing" a win or draw, is more common in my career than I would like.'

Some blog posts make you wonder. Here's one from an Asian-based blog.

yullian bei presents Red and White Chess: The Muggles of the Chess Wizardy World posted at Red and White Chess, saying, 'light notes on asian descendent to play chess in the west' • 'Blitz story on Asian descendents chess player in the western hemisphere.'

Others leave you with a feeling of déja vu.

Floris Schleicher presents Kasparov is back! posted at Chess.com. • 'A new video on a short return of former World Champion, #1 of the world, record rating holder and chess legend; Garry Kasparov!'

A few posts were submitted via other means than the submission form. This one came by email. I know from my own experience that there are many ways to walk through a chess game and it's not always obvious which is the best.

Ghuzultyy on My Annotated Games #2 • 'This is my second attempt to blog an annotated game of mine. This time I will not use diagrams, see if it is better this way.'

This one came via comment to one of my announcements. The submitter indicated he wanted to send some of his material and when I hadn't received it by the deadline, I chose myself. IM Silman is, after all, one of the superstars of chess instruction.

CalbaMan on Featured Article: IM Silman Returns • 'IM Jeremy Silman has finally come back, and he is ready to write new chess articles and more! After more than four months of inactivity, Silman recently published his newest article: "Recognizing The Big Moment In A Game".'

And, finally, we have two more from BDK. Either would be suitable for wrapping up this carnival, so I'll highlight both.

TheUltimateChampion on General Principles in Chess • '1. The three basic elements to be considered in evaluating a position are Force, Space and Time.The first is more stable than other two. [...] 15. Last but not the least, never hurry in the endgame.'

CharlyAZ on Ten ways to know when a chess coach is good • 'This article is the logical continuation of the previous "10 ways to get free chess lessons from Masters." That article was for those who do not have the financial means to hire a coach. This one, however, is for those who are able, or are saving ferociously, to hire one.'

A Few Omissions

I remember some slight disappointment after one of the first chess blog carnivals where the post I had submitted did not appear in the roundup. I later found out that it had been lost in the shuffle and, to make up for the omission, it was eventually reused in a subsequent carnival. There were a few posts I didn't use in this October carnival. I'll mention them here so that their authors will know that they weren't overlooked and so that future submitters might avoid the same fate. I'm not here to discourage bloggers, I'm here to encourage them.

In the writeup above, I've already featured two posts from Pau Pascual. These were out of a total of 10 posts submitted by the prolific PP, all of them worthy of inclusion. One of the instructions I received from BDK was to use blog posts written 'within a month or so of the carnival'. The bulk of PP's submissions were from 2010 or earlier, and even those I used were written before Summer 2011. Here's another PP post from early 2011 that I could have used, but left out for the sake of compactness.

Pau Pascual presents A living game - Chess.com posted at Chess.com, saying, 'A living game played by Capablanca and Steiner' • '[Unlike a] normal game, where it is played with wooden pieces, in the living game it is played with people only human.'

Here's another very good post on a specific opening -- in fact the entire blog is on that opening -- that I would love to have featured if the post, as well as all other posts, hadn't dated back to 2009.

Joemar Lacson presents A Reason to Play The Accelerated Dragon posted at My Chess Pet the Sicilian Dragon, saying, 'A 62% chance of winning says a lot for Black in this Accelerated Dragon variation 8...d5. So there isn't much to say really than learning this variation as Black is valuable. And that’s what I actually did, I have spent time to study and analyse the position and eventually formed an opening repertoire based on 8...d5 pawn break in the Accelerated Dragon. Along the way too, I have discovered a few moves which I think are much stronger than the moves recommended by popular opening books.'

Except for their dates, those two previous posts were perfectly suitable for a chess blog carnival. The next one is less suitable. Chess plays only a small role in the post and the improvement angle is missing entirely.

Lisa Hood presents 10 Bizarre But Real College Clubs posted at ZenCollegeLife, saying, 'We've all heard of the math club and the chess club, but some colleges take the idea of the club to a whole new level.'

The final omission is a type of spam : Welcome to Chess Thinking Systems. Its only purpose appears to be to sell a commercial product. If you think I'm being too harsh about this or anything else I've written here, just leave a comment against this post (they're moderated, but I accept criticism) or send me an email (address under my profile in the upper right of this page).

Bye For Now!

Before I sign off, I'd like to say thanks to all of the people who submitted material and to wish you well in your future endeavors, blogging or otherwise, chess or real life. There are a lot of perceptive minds working at cracking the mysteries of chess and some of the best are also writing about it. Good luck to you all!


Later: Here's some more boilerplate text from InstaCarnival. Looks useful...

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of chess improvement carnival using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

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...Especially the carnival submission form and index page.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for hosting this month's chess improvement carnival! Excellent organization of all of the topics, plus it was interesting to take a peek behind the curtain to see what goes into hosting a carnival. Have a lot of things to go look at now...