Monday, March 31, 2008


I absolutely cannot bear to spend any more class periods reviewing openings (nationals in 2 days) and I'm lazy, so tonight I'm thumbing through books for randomly interesting puzzles that I can mash together and call a "lesson." I came across four so beautiful that I felt the need to share with you guys. Weirdly, they were all on the same 2 pages of the book. Or maybe that's not so coincidental and I'm just in an easily impressed frame of mind.

M. Klyatskin 1924
white to move

Gulyayev 1940
white to move

Kasparov - Karpov New York 1994
black to move

Teichmann - Beratende Glasgow 1902
How can white bring his rook from e2 to g3?

1. Rb3! cb 2. g6! Qg8 (2...Qe8 3. Nh6) 3. Kc5 d6 4. Kd4 Ke8 5. f7+-
1. g7! f2 2. Be7 f1= Q 3. Bf6 Qf6 4. gh= Q!! Qh8 5. d4 +-

1... Ke7! 2. Rc1 Qc4=/-

1. Kh2 b5 2. Kg3 a5 3. Kh4 g6 4. Re3 (4. fg Qg5#) 4... Qg2 5. Rg3 Qf2 6. fg Qf4 7. Rg4 Qf2 8. Kh5 1:0


Naisortep said...

Great stuff. Another nice Karpov Ke7 game is his novelty vs. Kamsky from Dortmund 1993.

Event "Dortmund (Germany)"]
[Site "Dortmund (Germany)"]
[Date "1993.??.??"]
[EventDate "?"]
[Round "1"]
[Result "0-1"]
[White "Gata Kamsky"]
[Black "Anatoli Karpov"]
[ECO "B17"]
[WhiteElo "?"]
[BlackElo "?"]
[PlyCount "98"]

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nd7 5. Ng5 Ngf6 6. Bd3
e6 7. N1f3 Bd6 8. Qe2 h6 9. Ne4 Nxe4 10. Qxe4 Nf6 11. Qh4 Ke7
12. Ne5 Bxe5 13. dxe5 Qa5+ 14. c3 Qxe5+ 15. Be3 b6 16. O-O-O
g5 17. Qa4 c5 18. Rhe1 Bd7 19. Qa3 Rhd8 20. g3 Qc7 21. Bd4 Be8
22. Kb1 Rd5 23. f4 Rad8 24. Bc2 R5d6 25. Bxf6+ Kxf6 26. fxg5+
hxg5 27. Rxd6 Rxd6 28. c4 Ke7 29. Qe3 f6 30. h4 gxh4 31. gxh4
Qd7 32. Qh6 e5 33. h5 Qg4 34. Qh7+ Kd8 35. h6 Rd2 36. Qf5 Qxf5
37. Bxf5 Bd7 38. Bg6 Rh2 39. h7 Ke7 40. Bd3 Be6 41. Rg1 f5
42. Rg7+ Kf6 43. Rxa7 e4 44. Be2 f4 45. b3 f3 46. Bd1 Bf5
47. Kc1 Bxh7 48. Rb7 Ke5 49. Rxb6 Rxa2 0-1

smooth5315 said...

hey i am not on the level of chess that u are but i am trying to develop a habit of reading,studying chess material any suggestion?

Anonymous said...

Open question for Elizabeth and/or anyone else who cares to answer:

When I read words on a page, I hear the words in my head as well as visualize (in a dim and fuzzy way -- I'm a more auditory/verbal/spatial thinker than I am visual) their content. From what I know of professional musicians, they can see notes on a page of music and hear the notes in their minds.

When you see chess moves written in algebraic notation, do they have meaning to you? Do you, in your mind, picture the pieces moving? Does the notation tell a story for you? (To use some English teacher lingo, do chess games have a "story grammar" that you can pick up on just by looking at transcribed moves?)

I'm curious about this, because when I see a block of notation such as the one posted above by naisortep, it's just a blur. Might as well be written in hiragana. Iff I have a board set up in front of me and I'm physically moving the pieces, then I can get a limited sense of what's going on . . . but even then, it's not necessarily meaningful to me, unless there's some verbal explanation to accompany it. Which is one step further removed from sheet music, which I can't "hear" in my mind but can play correctly if I sit down at a piano and think critically about -- for instance, I can recognize if I've played a wrong note, or if a chord change seems like a weird choice. And I wonder whether this inability of mine is due to my not being a visual thinker, or to my being such a verbal thinker that if I can't pronounce it, I can't make sense of it, or to simply having comparatively less experience with chess than I do with music or the written word (both of which I've been steeped in my entire life).

es_trick said...

Hi Anjiaoshi,

I imagine that GM’s can play the whole game out in their head just by looking at a game’s score sheet. Strong masters probably can, too, many experts as well. I’ve heard that concert pianists and the like can “hear” the music in their head when they look at a score. And I would venture that to be a concert pianist one would have to be the equivalent of an IM in skill.

As a Class C player, I can tell what the opening is, and if it’s one I play a lot, I can recognize the variation and follow the score sheet 8 – 10 moves into the game. Sometimes, just to show off, I’ll play a patzer ‘blindfolded. I usually win within 10 – 20 moves because the game follows familiar patterns where I develop my pieces to normal squares and go for a quick kill on f7 (or h7 if he castles). But my playing strength when ‘blindfolded’ is probably only around 800 – 1000, and if the game goes past 15 – 20 moves I have an increasingly difficult time visualizing the board and where all the pieces are.

Anonymous said...

Will you marry me?

Elizabeth Vicary said...

Anijoshi.... Alex Wojtciewitz (yeah, sorry, totally mangled spelling) described to me having synesthesia, which is the confusion of senses: peolpe who hear colors and see sounds and feel smells, etc.
For me, I follow the moves as far as into the opening as I can, which isn't usually far. Then it's totally meaningless letters/numbers. Which I think is good-- if I could get any real sense of what was going on from looking at the visual parts of the notation, I think chess would be a stupid, uncomplicated, uninteresting game.
Smooth-- the most important thing is that you enjoy it, right? I love most ( thought not quite all) of Neil McDonald's books. I find studying with friends to be the most productive and enjoyable way to improve. I crack up listening to Greg Shahade's videos --
Go to live commentaries and pick a curtains game.
Anonymous suitor, thank you!

Anonymous said...

OK, so, follow-up question: If algebraic notation is just typographical soup for you too, how do you engage with transcripts in chess books or articles? Do you also set up a board and move the units as you read? Do you even make the moves of tangential or parenthetical variations? (If you do, how do you remember where to put everything back?)

Anonymous said...

Will you have a post nationals report?

Elizabeth Vicary said...

I definitely will, although my father is visiting from England and my third quarter grades are due in two days, so it might take me a little while.

Elizabeth Vicary said...

Also there is a quick report up at

Anonymous said...

Are you a dual citizen?

Anonymous said...


I thought I'd respond since I've wondered about related subjects.

I can attest that the ability to go over variations meaningfully in one's head can be acquired by experience and training. Back when I started playing chess, I could barely manage to analyze 3 or 4 ply without losing the mental image. Some years later, though, I startled myself by discovering a previously overlooked tactic while playing over one of my games in my head -- as I drove home from the tournament. But I can't play blindfold chess at all. (I can't drive blindfold, either.)

I have a theory that people who are really good at chess, or who are destined to become good at it, are hard wired genetically to play blindfold. This is not to say that they are born with that ability, but rather that they acquire it very soon after taking up chess, without having to practice blindfold play in particular. I have some anecdotal evidence to support this theory, but can someone shine a scholarly light on the matter?

Side note. I happen to know that music conductors can "hear" an orchestral work just by reading the printed score. The juries that award Pulitzer Prizes for music composition, for example, typically work directly from the scores, not recordings (that may have changed recently).

RickM said...

Not that I'm a strong player, but I heartily recommend correspondence chess for blindfold visualization. The positions stick in your head for days and it's amazing what you find - and when you find it!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Rickm - Correspondence chess isn't the most powerful way to improve visualization.

Losing a very important game that you were winning - with, say, $20,000 on the line - does wonders, too.

The position where you started to go off-track will stick in your head, not for days, but for the rest of your life...and yes, it's amazing what you'll find weeks, months, even years later.

Winning resources that you missed at the board will pop into your head for no particular reason while you're, say, making a presentation to close a deal you need to keep your business alive...or scrambling to squeeze in a quickie with the baby-sitter while the wife is out parking the car.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous is getting demanding. First he asks; now he orders.

P.S. TMI, Other Anonymous.

Elizabeth Vicary said...

I could marry all the Anonymouses, and we could move to Texas or Utah and live in a big commune. The Anonymouses could wear long white hand-sown dresses and I could braid their hair and force them to do strange thnigs in a towering white temple.

es_trick said...