Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Patzer Chronicles, Vol. VIII: The Rating Game

Since I have not played any live games this week, I have decided to discuss my training strategy (yes, I really do have one).  The strategy  is centered around solving tactical problems, since this is where players of my level need the most improvement.  So, how does one know if one is getting better at tactics.  Well, one way is to play chess and notice if there is any improvement in tactical ability and/or results.  This is fine, but I prefer something a bit more quantitative.  Fortunately, there is such a method available (God bless the internet).

On websites such as or, one is awarded a rating, much like the rating garnered from playing games, by solving tactical problems.  Chesstempo is the site I use most often for tactics training.  This is a free site (although a premium membership is available) that offers unlimited tactics problems.  It also separates its problems into "blitz" and "standard".  So you get two separate ratings based on the type of tactical training you work on. has a tactics trainer as well.  As a basic (free) member, I am only allowed to work three tactics problems per day.  Premium members get unlimited problems.  The site tracks your progress, shows a history of problems worked, with results, and shows a nice graph of how your rating has changed over time.  Three problems per day is not much, but with my cheapskateness and other sites with free tactics play, it is sufficient.

Armed with these resources, I am going to track the changes and trends of my tactical ratings along with my playing ratings.  I will post my tactics ratings in the Study section of blog entries.  I have already been reporting my playing ratings for each site which I play on (both live and correspondence games), and I will continue to do so.  But I am going to report the change in rating as well as noting any historical trends.  I may even share some of the more interesting puzzles in my blog.  What fun!

So, with that in mind, here is the list of my current ratings (as of 2/25/2012):
Tactics Trainer:  1482
Live chess: 
Blitz: 1216
Standard: 1268
Correspondence:  unrated

Blitz: 1528.1
Standard: 1705.1

Correspondence:  2120

Note: At present, I am unable to retrieve my ratings from FICS.  I bought a new laptop and I haven't downloaded the BabasChess interface yet.  I tried logging in to the FICS site at but I can't seem to remember what password I used.  I have disconnected my desktop computer which had my information on it.  So, until I get it reconnected, or find something with the correct password on it, I am S.O.L. when it comes to my FICS ratings.  I considered starting over with a new account, but I am not sure I want to do that.  I would hate to lose the games I have already played.  For now I will continue playing elsewhere and start tracking my rating at FICS when I figure out how to log in, or start over.

That's about all for now.  I should be posting another update in a day or two.  I have some news on the correspondence front.  Or, perhaps I will wait until next week when I have (hopefully) some live games to report.

Try not to let the suspense kill you.

Until then, happy mating!

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Patzer Chronicles, Episode VII


It has been 11 days since my last post (02/02/2012) and chess has just about taken over my entire life.  Well, other than working, eating, drinking, etc.  But I am spending time every day on chess.  I am checking in on all my correspondence games, of which I had as many as 9 going at one time.  I also am playing more live chess online.  I played 12 games (11 rated, 1 unrated), all rated games being blitz time controls, by participating in 2 tournaments on  I won't be discussing the one unrated game, simply because it was unrated and because I was rather drunk when I played.  Fortunately, I wasn't drunk enough to play a rated game.

Anyway, chess has become a big part of my life.  This is something I should have realized would happen when I took on my quest for 2000.  I guess I did know that focusing on chess would take more of my time.  But I thought more time would be spent on studying and improving than playing.  Whereas, just the opposite seems to be true.  Little of the time spent on chess is spent studying.  More time is spent playing but I think that's because I have found a lot of enjoyment playing in tournaments on

So, without further ado, let's see what this episode brings.


As I stated, little of my chess time is spent studying.  I still have "How to Reassess Your Chess" from my local library.  But I have hardly progressed on it at all.  I would put analyzing my games under the category of study, but the majority of the time I do that either immediately after the game I played or when I am examining the game for my commentary here.  I work tactical puzzles on,, and But I don't do that every day or spend a set amount of time on it.  I also watch videos by kingscrusher on youtube that he does live commentary on his games.  But that is mostly for enjoyment.  I am not sure how much I actually learn from them.

What does this mean?  I don't know.  Should I spend more time studying?  Probably.  But, until my rating stabilizes, how will I know where to focus my study?  I realize tactics are always a good thing to study and that is where I spend most of my study time.  But where else does my game need help?  I won't really know until I see where my rating is and analyze my games for weaknesses.  So for now I am just going to stick with studying tactical puzzles and using my correspondence games to study opening theory and positional strategy.

Live Chess

Eleven rated games played this week, all of them blitz time controls.  There were seven, 5-minute games: two single games and five played in a tournament.  The other 4 games occurred in a tournament with a 10-minute time control.  All games were considered blitz and affected my blitz rating.

In the first game, against sriniav, rated 1243, I had black and played the Dutch Defense, Leningrad Variation.  This is an opening I haven't played much, but I enjoy because it can give plenty of counterplay for black.  It can also be a death sentence if you make a mistake.  I won a piece early on but let my king get exposed and couldn't stop his attack.  I resigned after 27 moves.

The next game was against Martin81, rated 1106.  I had the white pieces.  This started strangely.  The game began 1.e4 e5, 2. Nc3 Qf6!? 3.Qf3[figuring trading queens wouldn't be bad] Qc6.  I then went on a queen hunt as I chased his queen around the board.  I sacrificed a bishop to keep the attack going.  After 9 moves, though, I don't know what happened.  I don't know if he got disconnected, or if his house caught on fire, or if he just remembered an important date he had, but he stopped moving and his clock ran out.  So I won on time.  Here is the final position:


The next 5 games were part of a 5-minute blitz tournament for players rated 1200 to 1500.  I didn't particularly play well.  I lost the first 4 games.  The first with the black pieces against bubjas, rated 1440.  I played a Scandinavian and was two pieces up with a strong attack.  Unfortunately, I used too much of my time achieving this advantage and lost on time in 26 moves.

The second game was against sujikp, rated 1225.  I had white.  I lost this game in 26 moves as well, but not because of time.  I was down two rooks.  I played a Vienna gambit, but didn't play it very well.

In the third game I had black against carchi, rated 1309.  I played a Two Knights Defense  against his king pawn opening.  And I lost in 9 moves.  Yes, really.  Here is the game for your replaying pleasure.  Try not to laugh too hard:

Yeah, I fell right into his trap.  Oh well, live and learn.

I then lost my next game in 35 moves.  I played white against PRAMODPAHADI70, rated 1472.  Once again, I was ahead in material but lost on time.  I was up a knight and two pawns, but the clock ran out on me again.  I guess I could look on the bright side that I achieved an advantage in a couple of the games I lost.  I just need to work on my time management if I am going to continue to play in short blitz time controls.

My last game in the tournament was against makatozi, rated 1474.  I had white and, with nothing to lose, I decided to play the dreaded Danish Gambit.  Here is the game:

He opened up a pretty good attack on my kingside.  On move 17, I sacrificed the exchange to help squelch the attack.  He blundered on move 26 by pawn munching with Qxd4?.  This allowed me to take his pawn on h3 with check, setting up the king and queen fork with 29.Nf6+.  He resigned shortly after.

The moral of this story?  Play those speculative openings!  It's fun and educational.  If nothing else, you can learn a little about how to defend a losing position.  So I might lose a few games.  Rating, shmating.  I may have to try the Danish again.

I also played  a 10 minute tournament which consisted of 5 rounds also.  One round was a bye due to an odd number of players, so I was guaranteed at least one point.  I gained another point by winning my first game, playing as black, against Fiurex, rated 1314.  After 19 moves, my opponent abandoned the game.  I was ahead a rook in the game and had an easy win.  I lost the other 3 games in the tournament and finished in 6th place with a score of 2/5.  I had an opportunity in the game against chesshole, rated 1459.  We got down to a king and pawn endgame.  I offered a draw, but he refused.  Unfortunately, I showed how poor my endgame skill is and resigned when he was about to queen a pawn.

After these games, my blitz rating on is now 1216.  My standard rating remained unchanged at 1268.

Correspondence Chess

Another good episode on the correspondence front.  I added two more wins to my total since my last post.  I won my game against Kootenays.  He resigned after 35 moves when I was about to win a knight, which would put me a rook up.   This was another unrated game, so there was no effect on my rating.  Here is the entire game for your viewing pleasure:

I also recorded a win against Joe Wurdak.   I feel I was lucky to win this game.  He blundered away his queen when he had a vicious looking attack going on the king side.  This was a rated game, my first, and the win jumped me all the way up to 2120.  It looks really good to see that high number by my name.  Of course, it won't last.  It'll come back down to my actual rating, whatever that may be, eventually.  But it makes me dream of the day when I will reach the goal of this quest: a rating of 2000+.  It is nice to dream.  But until then I have a lot of work to do.  Here is my game against Joe:

He graciously allowed me to play it all the way to checkmate, which is unnecessary, but fun nonetheless.

My game against kingscrusher is still in the opening stages, so nothing to report from there.  I have added 6 games to my total by entering a 4 player guest double round robin tournament.  I am playing two games each (one as black, one as white) against Artsyhimself (rated 1635), keepin on (rated 1795), and tolasaria (unrated, set at 1400).  Actually, only 4 of the games are still active.  I claimed a win on time in both games against tolasaria, as he/she never made a move.  A shame, really.

I also added one more game by putting in a pyramid challenge.  After my first win raised me to level two, I decided to challenge a level 3 player, the preposterously named mr. booze (rated 1496).  This game is unrated, while the tournament games are rated.  I don't think that any games that I initiate on are rated.  It seems that only games initiated by members or tournament games are rated.

My game on against xadrezenico is going swimmingly.  I promoted two of the three past pawns I had.  Although one of them was sacrificed to win a knight.  I also won the exchange, winning a rook for a knight.  I now have a queen, rook and knight against a knight and bishop.  This game should be over shortly.


Not a very good week, results-wise at least, in live chess.  But I didn't really play all that badly.  I won a couple of games and had a material advantage in a couple more before losing on time.  So, some good moves, just bad time management.

The episode was better in correspondence, where I recorded two more wins (four if you count the wins claimed on time) and my first rated game success.  Of course, with the tournament adding 6 games to my load, I have to spend more time on correspondence chess (or less time on each move).  This doesn't leave as much time for live chess, or study for that matter.  I think I need to play more live chess.  It will help my tactical and positional experience, as well as my time management.  I should probably stick to longer time controls (standard 15 minutes), but I like playing in the live tournaments and the shorter time controls are easier to fit into my schedule.

That's all for now.  So, until the next episode, happy mating!!!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Patzer Chronicles, Vol VI

It appears the "weeks" are getting longer here.  But I am not sure how to designate the time between posts.  I am attempting to do one per week, but it just isn't working out.  So anyway, since the last episode (there we go, I'll use episode, just like they do on TV) of the Patzer Chronicles, I have been very busy, though not in a strictly chessical manner.  I have been working overtime at my job quite a bit and spending most of my free time trying to catch up on all the things I didn't get to because of the extra work.  But hey, I'm not the kind of guy to make excuses (as far as you know) so let's just get down to the chess, shall we?

This category suffered the most during my busy time between episodes ( I am really liking the way "episode" sounds).  I haven't spent any time studying with :"Reassess Your Chess".  I solved a few tactical puzzles, but that was about it for this episode.

However, I did find a study plan for beginning (ratings < 1400) and intermediate (ratings 1400-1800) players on  It is located here if anyone would like to check it out.  Although I haven't examined the entire course, it appears to have some great stuff.  And much of it is free.

Live Chess
I played 4 live games since my last post: two 5-minute games, and two 15-minute games.  The 5-minute games were played on

The first game was played against sakibv, rated 1403.  I had the white pieces and played 1.e4.  He responded with the Scandinavian, which I play quite often as black, but rarely play against as white.  So, oddly enough, I didn't know what to do.  I decided to try the 2.e5 line that has been played against me quite recently.  18 moves into the game, I was two pawns down with each player having two rooks and a knight.

After I played 23.g5, this position looked like this:


My opponent played 23...Rc3??.  I am thinking it was a slip of the mouse, if not a slip of the mind.  As that just loses the rook.  He immediately resigned after I captured.  So I probably should have lost that game, but fate smiled upon me.  Sometimes that's just the way it goes.

The next game was against stamat77, rated 1441.  This time I had the black pieces and played the Scandi against his 1.e4.  He played 2.exd5 which I followed with 2...Nf6.  He played 3.c4 to guard the pawn and for some reason I played 3...b5.  I was thinking that was a good way to remove the defender of the pawn, but he just played 4.b6.  3...c3 would have been more common.  But, in the end, it didn't matter because I lost on time after only 13 moves.  I just didn't have it that game.  I don't know what happened.

My blitz rating on is now 1302, with a 4/4/0 record.  My standard rating remains unchanged at 1268, with a 1/0/1 record.

The two 15 minute games were played on FICS about an hour previous to the time I am writing this.  Well, more than an hour now, because I went to bed right after writing that sentence.  But I digress.

The first game was with the white pieces against ChettyY, rated 1503.  He played the Scandi with 2...Qxd5.  Through six moves we had this position:


Here, for some unfathomable reason, I played 7.Bc4?, thinking if he took with the queen, I would take his knight with tempo.  Unfortunately, this loses a piece to 7...Nxf3+!, 8.Qxf3 Qxc4.  Of course it also loses a piece to the more straightforward 7...Nxc4!.  I probably should have resigned right then, but I wasn't quite through embarrassing myself yet.  I lost another piece before letting myself be mated and put out of my misery.  I played horribly.  I didn't think, I just reacted.  That is not good chess.

I was determined that I had to do better.  So I sought another game immediately.  This game was against IsmailN, rated 1287.  This time I had the black pieces and decided to play a simple 1...e5 which led to a Ruy Lopez.  I have decided that I suck at the Ruy Lopez with black.  Actually, let's face it, I suck at all openings regardless of color.  I make this big deal about playing my "favorites" like the Scandi and the Vienna Gambit, but really I don't know what I am doing in the opening most of the time.  I like gambits because they are aggressive and surprise people sometimes.  All I basically do in the opening is develop my pieces and try not to lose material.  If I can do that, then I feel I have a chance.  But I digress.

Back to the game.  We played the exchange variation with 4.Bxc6 dxc6.  I castled queen side, which is probably not the best plan, but it gave me a rook on the open d-file.  And his queen side looked pretty weak.  Unfortunately, my pieces weren't coordinated well enough and my attack came to naught.  Running low on time, I blundered away a piece and a couple of pawns and resigned.

So, two straight losses in standard time control which brings my standard rating on FICS to 1345, while my blitz rating remained unchanged at 1019.

I seem to be making a big deal about tracking my ratings and their roller coaster progression.  Really, the volatility of them is due to a lack of games played.  I haven't played enough to have a stable rating.  FIDE, the World Chess Federation requires that you play at least 20 rated games before they remove the "provisional" label from your rating.  I don't even know what level I am yet.  Sometimes I think I am underrated and sometimes overrated.  I need to play more to find out what my class is.  Then, I can begin to work on raising it.  Right now, the best thing I can do is try to improve my technique through training, play, and analysis.  My rating is more for reference than anything else.

Correspondence Chess

It was an exciting week in correspondence chess.  I won another game!  Unfortunately, it was another unrated game, but I'll take it.  Dodger finally threw in the towel.  Here is the final position after 26...Rgg2:


I had a mate in 5 with 27.Be5 Rad2, 28.Bc3 Rd1+, 29.Be1 c4, 30.b4 Bxb4, 31.any Rxe1#.  So far, I am 2/2 in correspondence chess on

In my game against Kootenays, I am up the exchange (rook for knight) and two pawns.  I lost a pawn earlier in the week, but I should be about to get it back.  After 33 moves, here is the position:


I should have no trouble converting this win, but I need to be careful.  I have already squandered away one pawn in the endgame.  I can't afford to be careless.

In the game against Joe Wurdak, my opponent somehow blundered away his queen!  I know it is only a trap, but I can't believe it.  One moment I was worrying that I was about to get mated, as he had a devastating attack aimed at my castled king, and the next moment I am capturing his queen with my knight.  Here is the position right before that after move 22, with white to move:

Joe Wurdak

Looks pretty bad for me, right?  I was expecting 23.Bxh7, ridding me of my last active piece.  I really had no idea what to do to improve my position.  Then I logged on and saw that his move was 23.Ng4??.  I must have stared at it for thirty minutes trying to figure out what was wrong or how I was going to lose.  I thought I was dreaming.  But I guess not.  The game continued 23...Nxg5, 24. f4 Ne6.  This game is rated, so hopefully I can convert to get my first rated win!

Last time, I mentioned another game invitation I received that I was very excited about.  It came from the great Kingscrusher himself!  I have mentioned him before.  His real name is Tryfon Gavriel.  He lives in England and holds the title of Candidate Master.  He plays quite a bit of online chess  on the Internet Chess Club (ICC).  And when he plays, he records the game and does live commentary.  He actually comments on his games while he is playing them!  I really enjoy his videos (see kingscrusher on youtube).  His commentary is very insightful and a lot of fun.  He really seems to enjoy chess and doing live analysis.

So anyway, he challenged me to a game.  Although, it is 10 days per move, so it may take a long time to finish.  But, I'm not going anywhere.  It is also a rated game.  At the present time Kingscrusher is rated 1961 (good year).  The game has just started.  I have black and decided to play the Pirc/Robatsch defense.  This is a hypermodern type of defense that attacks the center using the flanks.  The game began 1.e4 g6, 2.d4 Bg7, 3.Nc3.  However, I decided to play 3...c5, just because it seems interesting, transposing the game into a variation of the Sicilian Dragon.  Having seen Kingscrusher play, I am expecting to be unceremoniously crushed (pun intended).

My correspondence game on, against xadrezenico, is going very well.  Through 31 moves, I am up 3 connected passed pawns and should be promoting one or more of them soon.  I think I am about to sacrifice one of them to win a rook.  Then it will just be a matter of promoting the other two.


That's about it for this episode.  I'll be back next time with more exciting news from the world of patzer chess.  So, until then, happy mating!!!