Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Pump Up My Rating? II

I got my first Elo rating in September 2011, right after Benasque. Nine games in Spain, four at e2e4’s Gatwick Open in June and another 4 at the Sunningdale Major in May saw me come out at 2049.

I’d actually I played 12 games in those last two events, but even before I had a rating I had begun running up a big plus score in games that didn’t count - a habit that led to my Elo DWP? post last February. Anyhoo 2049 was not a bad start at all, I thought.

Within three months I had shipped 130 points.

The day the January 2012 rating list came out I made a vow: I might have just dipped below 2000, but by hook or by crook I will get myself out of the 1900s.

Two years and nine months later, I have finally achieved that goal.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Ray Could Play XV

White to play
Keene - Polak, Erlangan 1968

I was planning to move on from RDK, but since I boobed last time around (RCP XIV: Pretty Good Year), I thought I should do one more that most definitely is an ISE.

So, Black’s just gone … Qa6-a7. Ray to play.

"I spent half an hour considering this sacrifice … ", our man writes in Flank Openings (his notes to the game are also available for free here), "a primarily strategic offer based on the weakness of Black's pawns and the isolated position of his queen."

Half an hour well spent, it turns out. The "!?" Keene appends to his move suggests he wasn’t 100% sure about it, but today with the benefit of computer engines we can be a little more certain. Ray’s judgement was spot on.

2014 ISE Count: 55 (still)
TISE Index

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Bad book covers XXXII

Positional Attacks, Johnson, Lulu, 2014

[Bad book covers index]

Friday, September 26, 2014

Pump up my Rating?

I might not have scored a floating chessboard for my birthday last week, but I did at least get a couple of chess books. One of them being Axel Smith’s highly regarded Pump Up Your Rating.

The first question on picking up a book with a title like PUYR is simply this: why?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Year on the Circuit III

Golders Green Open, August 2014

White to play
JMGB v Chris Rice, Golders Green Open (3), August 2014

A BORP? decision for me here. How to recapture on c5?

Take with the rook then try to swap the a and b pawns to play against c6 or take with the b-pawn and play against b7? Both options seemed plausible to me at first glance. Fortunately I had some help when making the decision.

When thinking about my move I remembered the Larsen-Donner Master Game rook ending (SMA#21) and realised that taking with the pawn would give me a similar queenside pawn configuration. I also recalled Keith Arkell’s minority attack rook and pawn position from the British Championships when he won by opening the king’s wing and attacking Black from the side. Best of all there is a detailed chapter on minority attack endgames in Hawkins’ From Amateur to IM, a book I’d bought a year or so ago.

Monday, September 22, 2014

History Boy 2

Back in July the Blog reported, in the post History Boy, Paul McKeown's splendidly erudite and entertaining presentation (at the City Lit in London) about an episode of chess in days of yore. Now there's another effort coming along, though Paul's will be a hard act to follow: this time it will be your blogger talking to the excellent Streatham Society about "Militant Activity: Chess in Victorian Streatham, and Beyond" on Monday 6th October.

Saturday, September 20, 2014


It was my birthday on Wednesday. Did anybody buy me a floating chessboard? No they didn’t.