Tag Archives: chess

Online chess helps improve the skills quickly

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The game of chess is a thinking game. More than providing just fun and entertainment, the game stimulates the mind and trains the mind in such a way that a person can face the life with more confidence, take wise decisions and have a better quality life.

Now with the advent of technology and the spread of Internet at a faster pace across the world, the number of people taking advantage of online chess is on the rise. Online chess has many advantages. There is no need to go in search for a partner as was the case earlier before the advent of Internet.

One more disadvantage in chess in earlier days was that a chess player, in his novice stage, would not get more opportunities to play with other novices and invariably there would be a mismatch between the two players playing in academic and amateur tournaments or games. Lack of encouragement at the early stages of the learning process also diminishes one’s appetite for the game and many people lose out in early stages due to this recurring problem.

It is in this context that online chess comes to the assistance of the chess player. He can find partners across the net at any point of time. He need not worry or go about searching for a partner to play the game. The skill set of the partner can also be decided in advance and such partner who is at par with your skill or slightly better than you can be chosen from the Internet. In this way, you can have a better experience and excitement playing with a player of equal skill than a game involving a mismatch of skill sets.

With online chess, a player can find the right partner to compete with and this helps in a long way in mastering the skills and improvising on the same at a relatively quicker time.

As there is no room for chance, luck or other outside influence in this game, the player will be ultimately responsible for all that he does in the game of chess. If he makes a wrong move or overlooks a threat to one of its pieces, then he is bound to lose that piece and ultimately the game itself.

The onus lies on the player to think, concentrate, calculate, analyze and then make an appropriate move aimed at cornering the opponent’s King. This practice of thinking before acting and taking wise decisions helps a player not only win the game, but also take important and wise decisions at real life. The more one practices the game of chess, the more matured and intelligent he will become in his approach towards the game, and towards the life in general.

Online chess has other advantages as well. The internet is storage for vast number of games played by grandmasters and others and some millions of games are available in the Internet.

A person aspiring to excel in the game of chess, can exploit this vast storage of data in the Internet to look at the great games played by grandmasters since the 1900s when the first professional championship tournaments began up to the latest tournament. Looking at those games, playing out those moves, analyzing the moves and their ultimate objectives will go a long way in helping a player gain the much-needed insight about the game. This will help in understanding the game to its core and help in improving the skills.

20+ ways Chess is beneficial for You and Your Children

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baby_chess

The numbers are only to draw attention, they do not tell the real story. If you are genuinely curious about it, don’t keep counting but keep reading on …

Several months earlier, we made an attempt to show how chess is beneficial to your mind. But that was aimed at beginners and amateurs so that they may seriously pursue their interest in chess not only for just fun and enjoyment but also for its other beneficial effects. Here we are trying to take it one step ahead to address parents with young children on how playing chess can be good for the whole family.

We firmly believe that any caring and sensible parent will like to see their children growing up to be intelligent, rational human beings who will make a success of their lives and be pillars of the society. The level and quality of interaction between the child and parents have a profound impact on the life and outlook when the child reaches adulthood. Developing an interest in chess and sharing it with children can be one of the ways, an enjoyable one too, which can help in this pursuit. We are trying to put our thoughts on areas where chess can make a positive contribution.

However, only at a few places we have referred to the child, leaving other benefits to be understood by parents and then to be explained by examples to their children. For example, without looking at the board at the start of a game, you can tell the child that if he moves his KP, his KB can go to the white square on the fourth row in front of his QB, from where it can target your black KBP on its white square. The child looks at the board, tries to play it out and accepts that what you said is true. You explain how visualization and planning works and encourage him to do that – you can make it a new kind of game between you and your child. You have to use your ideas on how to expose him to the other areas of the game so that he can reap the benefits.

1. Inquisitiveness – fueling the urge to learn

If you have observed the growing years of a child, what is sure to strike you is the unbounded inquisitiveness of a child. This lies behind the learning of any new subject or ideas. It is like a fire inside which needs constant supply of fresh fuel to sustain it. When he throws a toy, he is not being ‘naughty’ but trying to find out what happens if he throws it (a rubber ball bounces a lot, the toy car does not) or the kind of sound it makes. He puts things in his mouth to find out the difference in tastes. When he breaks a toy, he is trying to find out what lies inside or what makes it ‘tick’! But he may also be doing it simply to draw attention and seek company. You may have also noticed that a child soon loses interest in something that only a few weeks earlier was the dearest item. Why? Because he has learnt everything that was to know about it within his realm of experience and now looks for something fresh!

Only problem is that such inquisitiveness may get on to the nerves of the harassed young parents, increasing their household chores to clear up the ‘mess’. By teaching and playing chess with them, you can give them something that will sustain the interest for long, become more intriguing as they learn more, provide a challenge and at the same time ensure companionship (you cannot play chess with yourself!). You thus channel their energy in lines that help both the child and you as parent to develop …

chess_kid

2. Understanding and learning – one branch leads to another

Any exercise of the mind helps in its growth and what better exercise than trying to learn the intricacies of chess! Basically, chess is not at all a complicated game as far as rules are concerned. All you need to know is:

  • the initial arrangement of pieces and pawns
  • White’s first move
  • check and checkmate
  • capture as a part of movement
  • 15 types of moves
    • 6 for six types of chessmen with their individual but single rule of movement
    • 4 more for the King (K-side castling, Q-side castling, not moving to a square controlled by opponent’s piece, immunity from capture)
    • 5 more for the Pawn (initial double step forward, no backtracking, diagonal capture, en passant, promotion)

Other rules are for tournaments and can be disregarded in your family game. Therefore, starting on chess is much less daunting than what the uninitiated may think! But its pursuit builds up the ability to learn and understand. These mental faculties can be used in any other walks of life provided these can be retained in …

3. Memory – the mental links

It is said that all we have experienced in life – seeing, reading, tasting, hearing, feeling and so on – from the first day of our life get stored somewhere in our brain. Unfortunately there is no direct link from our conscious mind to most (possibly 90%) of these and we are unable to recollect the information. Our memory covers only those for which such link can be traced readily. The more links we can establish, the more we approach a super-memory and the benefits are easy to perceive. It has been held by memory experts that repetition or regular exercise of mind to recollect the links helps in improving the size and strength of this memory domain. Chess provides an opportunity in this as you and your child try to learn from past experience (which is memory) and from studies of chess openings, chess tactics, master games and so on. Once a child understands that paying attention, mulling things in your mind and repeated practice help in remembering, he can apply it to his other studies also. It will also become apparent that though there are some items that need to be learnt by rote (like multiplication tables) before you understand them, most others are easier to remember if you try to see the underlying meaning and principle like the chess opening theories. In short, you start looking for the …

4. Logic – making sense of things apparently incoherent

In chess, every strategy, every opening, every move, tactics, combination has a logical thinking behind it. There are no imponderables – only a flaw or deficiency in the logic or limitation to the depth of analysis. These shortcomings start getting remedied with experience when the right logic builds up to replace the flawed ones. The development of logical ability is all-pervading, with practice it comes into play in whatever activities you may undertake. Arising out of this logic comes …

5. Analytical ability – understanding cause-effect relationship

The correct sense of logic leads you and your child to carry out analysis to read any situation even if it is something unfamiliar. In chess, all the brilliant combinations that one sees are the end results of the deep analysis by the player concerned. To improve your game, it becomes incumbent on you to read any position in your game to identify strong and weak areas, possible moves and counter-moves, and to select the line that is expected to yield an advantage for you. This kind of analysis becomes a habit which supports …

6. Problem solving – the tactical ability

The techniques that you apply over the board in a game of chess help to give you a sharp mind and this incisiveness can cut through obstacles in other fields of activity. This also paves the way to anticipate problems rather than getting caught unawares. This ability to foresee prompts you to look for an appropriate course of action that calls for …

7. Planning – the strategy before the tactics

It is thinking ahead to consider the different possibilities (the lines of play for your game of chess) so that you are ready beforehand and can take control of the direction the events should take. You are in charge of the situation rather than the other way round. When you are planning, everything is happening in your mind and yet to become a reality. This ability develops the power of …

8. Abstract thinking – seeing it in your mind’s eye

This tends to be a weak area for most people and those who can do it naturally enjoy an upper hand vis-à-vis the others. If you apply your mind to it, you will realize that practice of chess and gaining proficiency in it necessarily involves thinking of this type. You may argue that all thinking is abstract as compared to reality! Here we do not mean a thought in isolation like what to have for your dinner, but thinking about a series of moves and counter-moves and the resultant board positions before we put them into action. Once you are adept at this, you can see yourself before an interview board and answering their questions! But such a sustained thought process needs you to develop your …

9. Concentration – focusing your mind

If you sit back and think, you will realize that your untrained mind is like a monkey jumping from tree to tree, branch to branch, without spending any length of time anywhere. Only with intense thinking on a subject, as happens when you are working out a set of moves on the chessboard, you develop the ability to concentrate. We are not talking of a single subject, rather a line of thinking related to the subject covering different possibilities. The power of concentration is a requisite for …

10. Vision and Imagination – beyond the routine

With more experience, you can take any activity to a certain level but sequential thinking can take you only that far. To go beyond the mundane, you have to break out of routine and develop ‘tangential’ thinking. A deep study of chess games by brilliant masters exposes you to this lateral thinking and the beauty of such ‘unpredictable’ moves. All great ideas and inventions some way involve such vision on the part of the proponent. Chess can be a conduit for developing your child’s mind towards …

11. Inventiveness and Creativity – something out of nothing

As your child keeps learning, playing, improving his game and enjoying the free flow of his ideas, his mind is ready to add that 1% inspiration to his 99% perspiration, all possible through your active support and guidance. When that happens, you get a genius in your family! The realization of his ability gives your child …

12. Self-confidence – standing on his own

To be successful in any field, a person needs to do away with all doubts nagging his mind and to be confident in his own abilities. Do not be indulgent, let him fight it out with you over the board. If you become easy meat, let him not be complacent. Take him over to local chess club, encourage him to join school tournaments and do similar things to throw new challenges in his path. This will develop his ability to …

13. Face Challenges – toughening the steel inside

As they say, life is full of challenges and the sooner a child learns to face up to it, the better he can rise above his surroundings. Mankind has always revered the winner and your child will soon …

14. Earn peer respect – incentive to grow

That is what you hopefully expected of your child, didn’t you? He stands tall and you are proud of him. Being the school champion, town champion, state champion …. Earning admiration in one field opens many doors to other fields for him to explore and excel. This can stand him in good stead towards …

15. Choice of careers – prestige of being a ‘brainy’ person

The perception of chess players as men of high intelligence makes such people to be welcomed by many organizations. After all, you want a success for your child in the material world also! But this is probably too far down the road. What is now more important and precious for you and your child is …

16. Fun and enjoyment – release from tension

Going back to where we started – how to manage your child without stress – and to bring more fun and enjoyment in the family life and the great feeling of togetherness that can last for years to come through …

17. Family bonds – the closeness to one another

In these days when more and more families seem to be breaking up and the communication gap between children and parents become barriers in understanding, the worth of family bonds does not need to be stressed. These bonds prevent children from going astray and inculcate in them a respect for values in life. Such children grow up to be better adjusted human beings who contribute to …

18. Positive social interaction – sign of a good society

The value system today’s children learn affect their behavior as parents of future and more positive the outlook, the better is the community. Such a society induces the children and youth of impressionable age to remain happily a part of it and is the most effective …

19. Deterrent to bad habits and company

Birds of same feathers flock together – be it well-adjusted people or ill-adjusted people. The better the parents contribute to raise their children creating a sense of belonging, the less is the chance of such children becoming social misfits.

If all this induces you as a parent to make chess a source of family entertainment, go ahead but don’t forget to take care of two pitfalls. Chess may be considered a sedate activity by many but experienced tournament players can tell you that intense competition can sap energy like any other grueling physical activity. Examples abound where top grandmasters fared poorly when they were lacking in fitness. So you must ensure that side by side with chess, your children participate in outdoor games and activities also. The other issue is to see that the child does not remain so much engrossed in chess as to become a recluse. Sharing indoor and outdoor activities with your child can avoid these side effects.

20. As a side issue related to mental development of your child, I would like to bring a topic that interested me greatly. I am quoting from memory, so there may be some difference between the original text and my interpretation of it. I apologize in advance if someone finds such discrepancy.

Dr. Hans Jürgen Eysenck (1916 –1997), a British psychologist of German origin, was noted for his work on intelligence and personality and as per Wikipedia, he was the most frequently cited psychologist in science journals before he passed away. In the preface to one of his popular books on self-testing IQ, he made a comment that should be of utmost interest to parents who would like to see their children attaining high level of intelligence.

He said that the innate intelligence in a person, like his other physical abilities, continues to grow with age as a normal process. But what is significant is that the growth continues up to an age of about nineteen after which it remains more or less at same level for some years and then a decline starts. What is even more astounding is that 50% of this total intelligence is said to develop within the first four years and the remaining 50% in the next 15 years. In other words, if we could nurture the child to reach above-average intelligence by four years of age, he/she would have doubled that higher intelligence at nineteen making for a super intelligent person! Unfortunately, most parents leave their children to grow in their own fashion during these initial years and start paying attention to the child’s mental growth only when he/she is ready to enter the kindergarten and by that time, a substantial opportunity for the child’s mental development has been lost!

The World’s Most Nearly Impossible Chess Puzzles

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1st Puzzle

puzzle1
This puzzle was devised by Dr. Karl Fabel and published in 1949 in “T.R.D.’s Diamond Jubilee” issue of the Fairy Chess Review.

WHITE TO PLAY AND MATE IN SIXTY.

Fen Position

For those of you who are interested in analyzing the position with their favorite chess program here is the FEN Position, you can simply copy it and paste it in Chessbase or you could simple save it in a .Fen file and load it as FEN.

8/4K3/4NN2/p3p3/rnp1p3/1pk5/bp1n4/qrb1N3 w – – 0 1

2nd Puzzle

puzzle2
This chess puzzle by C. S. Kipping was published in the Manchester City News in 1911.

WHITE TO PLAY AND MATE IN THREE.

Fen Position

Compared to the last one this is pretty easy but rather baffling how White goes on with the next few moves, by the way this puzzle is for fun.

k7/8/N1N5/3B4/K7/8/4p1r1/8 w – – 0 1

3rd Puzzle

puzzle3
This puzzle was composed by Hans August and Dr. Karl Fabel, and was published in 1949 in Romana de Sah.

WHITE HAS JUST MADE HIS SEVENTEENTH MOVE. WHAT WAS BLACK’S NINTH MOVE, AND WHAT WERE THE MOVES THAT FOLLOWED IT?

Fen Position

Although you will not need the FEN for this one, I will post it just in case you want to try out something ODD.

2bqkb2/1pppppp1/8/8/N5P1/p3QPR1/PPP1PKPN/R1BQ1B1b b – – 0 1

4th Puzzle

puzzle4

This puzzle is based on a theme by W. A. Shinkman, and the mate-in-three was first solved by Sam Loyd. The puzzle above was published in the Leeds Mercury Supplement in 1895.

WHITE TO PLAY AND MATE IN THREE.

Fen Position

Another easy one but I know there are some who would like to get their engines started and see if the engine can solve but the best way to solve these puzzles is to think and take time, that is how you will enjoy it the most.

8/8/8/8/7k/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQ – 0 1

5th Puzzle

puzzle4

Similar to the 4th puzzle but this time the question changes a little bit.

WHITE TO PLAY AND MATE IN THREE. CONSTRUCT A GAME THAT WILL LEAVE THE POSITION SHOWN ABOVE AFTER BLACK’S SIXTEENTH MOVE.

Fen Position

8/8/8/8/7k/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBNR w KQ – 0 1

There you go, 5 brainteasers to work on your chess skills. Now to the answers, I will not post it until next few weeks, I will let everyone give these a try and leave their answers in the comment section. This will also start a good conversation. There are thousands of visitors every day at MyChessBlog it would be great if visitors leave comment that will give me some motivation to write more posts as well. It looks sad that not many of my posts get comments after 1000-2000 views.

Get your thinking caps on and start solving the puzzles. I highly recommend you solve the Mating problems by yourself before going for the Chess Program.

Lessons for life in the game of chess

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I came across an interesting sentence that made me ponder a lot. Playing chess is one of the most invigorating exercises to the mind that not only helps one refresh physically and mentally, but also paves for enhancing the quality of life in many ways. After reading this sentence, I was a little perplexed and at the same time little surprised. How can a game played for killing time or for relaxation can help in enriching the quality of life – my inquisitive mind questioned and the result is this article.

We all know and accept that indulging in some sort of physical activity or sports activities can help a person keep his body in a fit condition and proper shape for a considerable amount of time even if one retires from the sports activity or physical exercises.

As a chess player or ardent lover of chess, we also know that chess is a thinking game and also a fair game in that there is no room for chance or luck whatsoever. The outcome of the game is entirely in your own hand. The fair outcome of the game is only a Draw and winning over the opponent is nothing but an accident caused as a result of the opponent’s mistake and exploited by you.

Moving away from the concept of chess for a while and thinking about ourselves or our life, let us try to find answer for a simple question – what is life? Is it a science or an art? The body which we have in which our soul resides can be explained in a scientific manner to a great extent, thanks to the advancement of medical sciences. Body and life are not one and the same. Though not trying to sound philosophical, it is but true that the body is only a carrier of the soul and not the soul itself. The soul or the life is not scientific in any feasible way. How one leads a life, though bestowed with the same basic capabilities as any other person next door, is an art in itself, and you are the designer of your art or life. It might sound a bit vague to start with, but introspection would help you get the point clear I believe. Life is a bit of science and a bit of art and the right blend of the two defines one‘s success in life.

Now, coming back to the game of chess, there is a specific set of rigid rules that one needs to follow in the game. There are only 64 squares in the board, of which 32 squares are already occupied by the pieces at the start of the game. A number of theories, combinations, variations, openings are there to help a player in the game. In spite of all the proven methods and combinations at the disposal, why one finds the game fascinating enough to play again and again and get different results each time. I feel that here comes the role of art in the game of chess. While the rigid rules, combinations, proven opening theories and such other things can be roughly compared to the science of the game, the execution part is an art.
The game of chess is also a bit of science and a bit of art – is it not.

It is in this context that I find some similarities between the life and the chess game. Chess is nothing but a miniature of life. May be that is the reason this game of chess withstood the travails of time and technology and will be there as long as one derives inspiration for life from the game of chess.

The game of chess, as a thinking game, requires concentration, attention, intuition, planning, execution, defense and patience. These are some of the traits that a person does need in his life to weather the day-to-day challenges in life.

As such, playing chess helps a person develop these invaluable traits that will help in enhancing the quality of life.

Playing chess means involving two people as well as an ideal time and place. In this fast-paced world, there is not much possibility of matching all the three at once and then playing chess. Online chess is the answer as people, separated by distance, can be found in the Internet at your convenient time. So free time can be effectively spent on the computer playing online chess with players like you might be the answer to enrich one’s life. Ponder over the same and Prosper in your quality of life.

Chess tactics : Importance of controlling the d4 square in middle game

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In the game of chess, the middle game plays a very important role. It is in this stage that the fate of the game is effectively decided and involves a series of tactics and strategies to attack and counter attack the opponent. A good opening paves for an intriguing contest in the middle game. Many chess players, in their early days of playing chess, ignore the pawns or do not realize the importance of pawns and sacrifice their pawns very cheaply. If one were to improve the skills and graduate himself to higher levels such as International Master or Grand Master in Chess, then he or she should have all-round skills – both positional skills and tactical skills – and should be in a position to evaluate each and every position according to its due merit and capability.

One of the major aspects in an opening is to have a fair control over the center board – any one or all of the four squares in the center – d4, d5, e4 and e5.

It is quite possible that as a result of a kind of opening you might be following, you might end up with an isolated queen pawn while playing black pieces. Isolated Queen Pawn refers to the queen pawn of black located at d5 square with no points in either files to support it. Having such a position might turn out to be very advantageous in some cases and at the same time might also turn out to be a hindrance. But effective tactics can help you reap the benefits of that isolated queen pawn in d5, and also pave way for controlling the all-important d4 square in the board. It is needless to say that one who has effective control over the d4 square can exert more pressure on the white pieces and ensure that with reasonable tactical skills aspire for victory over the opponent.

Let us try to understand the importance of controlling the d4 square with the help of this game played between two grandmasters.

This is the position after 15 moves. It is the turn of white to move now.

chessgraph

(White to move)

The black pawn at d5 is the Isolated Queen Pawn, as it has no pawns in the “c” file and the “e” file. Black pieces are fairly developed and the key d4 square is in the control of the black. Though white’s knight at f3 and pawn at e3 also attack the d4 square, they are pinned by the black light squared bishop at g4 and the rook at e8 respectively.

Realizing the importance of the d4 square, white tried to win back the control, but his attempts proved futile by the smart play of black.

The game continued as follows :

16. Rd2 …. White tried to wrest control over the d4 square. However, some very interesting attacking play by Black nullified the efforts and black takes control over the game as can be seen below
16. …. d4
17. Nxd4 Nxd4
18. exd4 Bxd4
19. Bxg4 Rxe1+
20. Qxe1 Nxg4

The position after 20 moves is given below:

chessgraph2

(White to move)

As you can see, black has not only wrested control over the vital d4 square, but its pieces have pierced into White’s territory and are very interesting positioned to go for all out attack.

The game proceeded further as detailed below, but the result was never in doubt and it is black which having effective control over the vital d4 square is likely to emerge victorious barring any foolish mistakes on his part.

21. Ne4 Qxh2+
22. Kf1 Qh1+
23. Ke2 Qxg2
24. Kd1 Qf3+
25. Qe2 Qh1+
26. Qe1 Qf3+
27. Qe2 Qxb3+
28. Ke1 Ne5
29. Ng5 Bc3

0 – 1

This is an interesting game underlining the importance of having control over the d4 square, the opportunity for the same being provided by the Isolated Queen Pawn.