Chess, My thoughts, Parenting, Personal

My First Sparring Round

Swami Vivekananda once said, “You will be nearer to heaven through football than through the study of the Gita.”

My coach told me, when I joined him, that when he sees someone’s chess games: he gets to know the exact personality of the person. I didn’t understand him then until I saw it for myself. When a person plays any sport: Boxing, Chess, or Football, his/her personality, fears and nature is laid out like a blueprint. 

And that is one of the most beautiful things about sports: you can’t hide. Your fears and inner demons will come out and you have to face them. Isn’t it a great tool for self-betterment and analysis? To me, it is surely the next best thing to meditation!

Chess

Online Chess Resources You Must Know About

Check out these free chess tools to up your game

The Internet is efficient, cheap, and portable. Plus, it has made knowledge accessible and equalized opportunity for all. Who would have thought that we could study, analyze, and play with just the effort of a few clicks. I have been utilizing some chess tools and sites in my practice for a long time. So I wanted to share some of them with you too, as they have enormously helped me. So, let us read on. 

  1. chessgames.com

Chessgames.com is an online chess database and community. They are my number one go-to option for chess games. In fact, they have 1,076,000 + games! One can download, analyze, and discuss efficiently with their easy and fast user interface. They also have a members option in which one can post forums, suggest a game of the day, practice guess-the-move, and much more. It has so many features- they are impossible to cover in one article. They also have games sorted according to themes like KID, Attack, Isolated Queen Pawn, etc. 

  1.    Blindfold Chess Offline

We all know the importance of practicing visualization in chess. It improves calculation, speed, and intuition. I too was struggling with this for a long time. Until I found this app which is a diamond in the rough for all the players out there. Blindfold Chess Offline – Available for all android devices, and as the name suggests doesn’t require an internet connection. It has many cool features like alarm, achievement tabloid, play with friend/computer, etc. I have personally benefited a lot from it and hope you do too!

  1. Lichess.org 

Who doesn’t know this beloved chess website? But besides being a popular playing platform, Lichess also has many educational features. Let us see a few of them in detail.

  1. Puzzles

Lichess has many variants in this:- Puzzle racer, storm, streak, etc. Using these features has helped me improve speed and tactics. Plus, there are also many themes like endgame, double-check, motifs, and many, many more.

  1. Practise 

Though I have never actually tried this feature, just from skimming through it I was convinced that it is more than enough. It starts with basic checkmates then moves onto intermediate tactics and then endgames. There are many levels. 

  1. Study

A study in Lichess is where one can analyze his/her games, learn, and teach. I and my friends used to use the voice chat feature and do group study. It also has many inbuilt tools like board editor, opening explorer, chat, etc.

*Pro-tip – If you want to learn a certain topic, for example, The Caro-Kann/Panov attack, then go to ‘all studies’, type in search “Caro-Kann/Panov attack”. This will show a variety of public studies all created by users and even some coaches, titled players, etc. It is a quick and easy way to gain quality information on a topic. 

Head over there afterward and try out some of these features and please do tell me your opinion on them. 

Chess.com

Chess.com is another favorite when it comes to playing platforms. Analysis boards, puzzles, lessons, and a lot more make it also a great website for learning and improvement. Even though I have never played there much myself, I know it has a great user interface and quality content. If you are an enthusiast and regular player, then I highly recommend getting the subscription.* Unlimited puzzles, analysis, and video library, and much more are just some of the benefits of this. And even if you don’t have a subscription then there is still a bucket load of activities one can do like clubs, forums, games, etc

FollowChess

FollowChess is an app that my coach recommended to us, for following live games around the world. One can watch and follow top tournaments happening around the globe live. Plus one can keep a watchlist and search for upcoming tournaments. They also have a built-in video to see commentary side-by-side. Some other features of this app are seeing live standings, downloading games in PGN format, etc. If you have “Analyze This” then you can import games directly from there for advanced analysis.

Analyze This

A must-have for all the chess players out there. Enter your games with ease and analyze with or without a data connection. Also, download games and share efficiently in pgn format. Or import from LiChess and FollowChess for free downloading and sharing. You can also use the help of engines like Stockfish for analysis. Some other features are ‘comment on moves’, put annotations, etc.

In conclusion,
So, these are some of the tools that have greatly helped me in my practice. And I am more than sure there are many more out there. One can even use social media for their improvement, for example, YouTube. So do you have any chess tools you want to share with us? Please do too in the comment section and tell me what you thought about this article. Also, check out some more of my chess articles below.

Chess, Personal

Can’t Break the 1800 LiChess Mark? You Must be Doing At least One of these Six Things Wrong.

Hello, to all the chess lovers out there! We all agree crossing 1800 even on lichess is no piece of cake. I remember It took me 14 months to increase my online rating from 1300 to 1840! But no matter how hard it might seem it is not impossible. And all of us can do it if we set our minds to it. The following 6 rules were the entire reason I was able to break the 1800 mark. And though there is no set course to success, it is hard to go wrong with these expert verified tips to guide you.

  1. Stick to one opening

Yes, it is important not to keep changing your repertoire. Instead, it is best to learn one opening thoroughly and wholly. By switching openings you fail to learn anyone properly which results in tilt. And always remember to prepare first and then play. Like this, you are not playing mindlessly and can analyze and learn from your mistakes. It also improves game quality. One question which might come to mind is which opening to pick? And though there are many great ones out there, I consider the Italian Game the best choice for beginners. It is attacking and not very positional or dull. It is easy to understand and has way less theory compared to other openings. 

  1. Tactics, tactics, tactics!

Tactical mistakes and motives are found everywhere from world championship matches to beginners games. Capablanca once said chess is 90 percent tactics. Attack, combinations, sacrifices, give chess its attractive flamboyance. And although they are found everywhere, they are obviously more abundant in lower-level games. And it is guaranteed with basic positional knowledge and a good tactical foundation crossing at least 1600 is just a piece of cake. One of the best ways to improve tactics is to solve this book- The Woodpecker Method

  1. Practice daily

Training the mind is like training the body. If you train in bursts instead of every day the effort is useless. Take out as much time as you can: 2 hours or half an hour, solve puzzles, read books, analyze games but remember your playing time is not counted. I have seen many people make that mistake. They will study for only half an hour then play for 1-1 ½ hours. Remember, the majority of your time should go into the study, not playing. Otherwise, your rating will start dropping instead of increasing. 

  1. Study master’s games

The best way to learn openings, strategy, principles, etc is from studying games, for example, Grandmaster games, classics, world championship games, online blitz games, etc. It also improves pattern recognition and intuition. There are many ideas we can take from masters games and try to apply in our play. We learn new positions, how to play them ,and the basic plans and ideas of that position. Some books which helped me a lot are:-

My 60 Memorable Games – Robert James Fischer

200 Miniature Games of Chess – Du Mont

Alekhine: My Best Games(1908 – 1923) – Alexander Alekhine

*Pro Tip: Use a board and study annotated games.

  1. Play a lot

If we don’t play then it will be impossible to make sense of all the things that we are studying. Playing is like putting to practice all that we have learned. The tournaments might be closed because of the pandemic, but playing online is good enough. Playing provides us with experience. Analyzing our games helps us realize our mistakes, so we can work on improving them. Playing slower formats is good for game quality but playing blitz and bullet for improving time management and intuition. 

  1. Keep in good shape

It might not seem like it but chess requires one to be physically and mentally fit. If you are not healthy you will find difficulty in sitting for a long time and concentrating. Keeping a balanced diet prevents drowsiness and tiredness between tournaments. Exercising regularly keeps one active and sharp. 

Pro Tip* Maintain good posture. Craning the neck too much is not good. Find comfortable posture sitting on a chair and desk.

In Summary,

Chess is a tough but beautiful sport. Just enjoy it and have fun. Becoming 1800 is only a goal but it is more important to enjoy the journey. Do not play to increase your rating but only because you want to play. Remember you will never become 1800 if you give up at 1600 or 1700. So,  keep trying and all the best!

Chess

6 Books Every Beginner Chess Player Must Read

Here are the 6 classics of the chess world which every beginner must know

The basics always remain the same no matter how much the game advances. To improve the basics one must take the help of books. There is a sea of chess books out there, thus the question arises is which ones should we read and which ones not? Though, no doubt all of them are good, some are considered as “classics” and have been recommended by many veterans as a “must.” First let us summarize the importance of reading books in chess.

The Importance of Reading Books in Chess

 To keep improving as a player, it is crucial to read chess books. They help one improve all areas of chess, for example:- Tactics, Strategy, Theory, etc. These  books, some of them written by the greatest players of all time,  tell us how a grandmaster thinks, his do’s and don’ts, and his advice.The Chess Course- Praful Zaveri

The Chess Course- Praful Zaveri

The Chess Course by Praful Zaveri is one of the most famous books in the chess world. It consists of one main book followed by 6 training books. One learns from the main book and practices from the workbooks. Praful Zaveri’s peak rating is 1941 and he is the founder of Chess School Academy.

The Woodpecker Method-Axel Smith and Hans Tikkannen

The “woodpecker method” is a name given to a training system developed by GM Axel Smith and his co-author GM Hans Tikkanen. It consists of solving a large number of puzzles in a limited period of time and then the same number of puzzles in a lesser period of time. The detailed instructions are given in the book along with 1128 puzzles that one has to solve using this method. Gm Hans Tikkanen achieved 3 GM norms in a seven-week period using the “Woodpecker Method”.

Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess- Robert James Fischer and Stuart Margulies

This is one of the best selling books of all time with over one million copies sold. It is a puzzle book and anyone with a basic knowledge of chess can go through it. Bobby Fischer has written in the intro, “ My book presents material as a tutor would and requires you to actively use the new ideas immediately by answering questions.” 

Encyclopedia of Chess Endings- Chess Informant

Chess Informant is a publishing company of chess books, its board consists of many great players.  Though this series is out of print, all the books can be found in online pdfs. It consists of 5 volumes focusing thoroughly on the endgame. It is regarded as one of the best books to improve the endgame and has all the areas of it covered.

5. Silman’s Complete Endgame Course- Jeremy Silman

We all know the importance of endgame. This book tells us all we need to know about it in a simple and easy manner. The book is divided into parts depending on the players rating though one can disregard that and can read the entire book.

6. My 60 Memorable Games- Robert James Fischer

This book gives us a glimpse into the mind of one of the greatest players of history.  Bobby has annotated 60 games in this book played by him from 1957 to 1967. It consists of his analysis, honest remarks, and personal commentaries on the games.

Bottom Line 

It is not necessary the player has to read all of the books mentioned above but, reading a minimum 3 is encouraged. It is guaranteed that after going through these books the reader will see a drastic change in his performance. No doubt that lots of hard work will be required but, in the end, the result will be worth it. Let us end with a quote –

“Practice, Practice, Practice! Consistency is key to success!”