Friday, March 27, 2009

This and that.

Chess is so frustrating.

I was on a 10 game unbeaten streak. My last loss coming on Jan. 25th. But I have lost 2 games in 2 days. The first, I am not too concerned about since it was against a master and I played pretty well. But yesterday's loss to Pokorski (1660) was inexcusable. It's probably one of the worst games I have played.

Click here for the game.
Supernationals April 3-5

I plan to play in the Parents and friends tournament. This year it is a 4 round G/30 event. In the past its been G/45.

I hope to go to a Kasparov book signing. I wonder how he would react if I ask him to sign this book.
2009 Wisconsin Tour

Latest standings after 2 events: here


  1. Ivan, You're being too hard on yourself. Against the caliber of people you have been playing, a 10 game undefeated streak is great. So you had a bad game. It's done; the next undefeated streak starts now. Tom

  2. I agree,keep up the great blog

  3. Try switching up your openings. Why not 1. e4. a new perspective and fresh approach can rejuvenate your play. also, playing new positions will increase your overall understanding

  4. Ivan
    My friend, I think your real issue is you underestimate "weaker" opponents.

    Look back to your past blogs and see how you commented about someone who was rated lower than you and you still lost to him. Your invariable message was someone rated lower than you was weaker than you and should lose the game automatically.

    That's not the case. Every snake, big or small, has venom and we must RESPECT each of them. Each of the players who have beaten you in the past, deserves the respect (so do those who have not beaten you yet).

    Since you underestimate these players, you do not pay enough attention to what you should and hence you make mistakes. You do so well against stronger players like Allen Becker as you respect them and take all precuations when you play.

    I saw our games where you played well against me till the point you equalised. Once you are equal, you started playing as if you are winning and played poor moves. And that's the way I manage to win 6 games in a row. If you played the last part with same strength as the first, the score would have been different for sure (like our last game which you won - where you were lost after opening but played well to win it eventually).

    I think you belong to what your blog says. Just play the position, not as per the rating of opponent and you will be there.

    Wish you all the luck !


  5. Yes, exactly, Souvik gets the right point! and other more words, don't be diffident to higher rating players, rating means nothing in one game, you can not apply rating to ability among adults and young kids.


  6. Ivan,

    I agree with the above given advice:
    - don't underestimate lower rated opponents
    - change your opening repertoire

    On the other hand I don't see your situation as rosy as others here who just tell you to go on and do business 'as usual' and that's what will get you to 2000 or beyond...

    Ivan, simply admit it, you don't make ANY PROGRESS AT ALL. You were a class A player 15 years ago and that's what you still are today...
    Just continuing what you have been doing for the last few years will IMO not bring about a change to the better. You will not get worse by playing hundreds of tournaments but you don't get better either.
    So, what's wrong?
    IMO you obviously don't study efficiently at all!!! To me it looks like you are a 'gambler' who just keeps coming back to the slot-machine and thinks 'O.K. this time I will win...'.('I quit yesterday but I am back for more today')
    It's like getting an 'E' at maths in school and then not studying but just taking the next test will also be an 'E' most likely.
    Instead before playing the next tournament (=test) YOU HAVE TO STUDY FIRST if you really want to see your chess-performance improving. AND you have to let sink it in before falling back into old bad routine!

    So, what should you do...

    Obviously you have read quite some chess books and it didn't help really; I remember your reading that Tal book and since then you try to come up with Tal-like sacrifices that turn out to be simply blunders...better you wouldn't have read that book.

    So, what studying instead?

    Very easy question - simply study what you are not very good at.

    What's that?

    IMO you lack elementary understanding of PAWN PLAY. Your evaluations of your positions are full of 'interesting position', 'if i put my knight to..then i should have an edge' and so on...but I don't remember that you once gave a decent evaluation addressing pawn-structures, weak squares, outposts and a long-term plan to exploit that.
    So, maybe go back to Marovics' 'Understanding Pawn Play in Chess' and 'Dynamic Pawn Play in Chess' before signing up for the next tournament...

    Definitely a good advice as mentioned above is changing your opening repertoire...the Russians have something like an unwritten 'law' that says you have to abandon an opening after 3 consecutive losses...I think after years of not improving it's also doomsday for your repertoire...some fresh openings and new positions/tabiyas will get you out of your 'comfort zone' and back to a more competitive and 'searching' attitude in chess.
    In any case, give up the Caro-Kann; that's not an opening you use against a 250 points lower rated player...

    Another point:
    you are stubbornly ignoring my advice to blundercheck all your moves and applying a PLAYING ROUTINE.
    If you continue to ignore this simple advice, you will not go anywhere ...

    Last point :
    Your blog is full of blunders where you keep telling us 'I don't know why I played that move...'; Ivan, if you have no plan and are seriously making moves for NO APPARENT REASON (?), then all advice is lost...
    Maybe try in your next tournament ONLY to focus on FOLLOWING A PLAN and APPLYING A BLUNDERCHECK-ROUTINE during your games, and on nothing else.

    Book recommendations:
    - Marovics' 2 Pawn-Play books
    - Michael Steans' gem 'Simple Chess'
    - Piotr/Peter Romanovsky ' Middlegame Planning'
    - Opening repertoire: maybe Kaufmans' 'Chess Advantage in Black and White'; that's very solid and Ivan, believe me, YOU ARE NOT MIKHAIL TAL...

    Play less. Study more EFFICIENTLY. Don't take the rating too serious.


  7. OK, first of all "Bruz", there are no E grades in school, second of all, you are being way too assumptuous. For you to know this much about Ivan's routines and chess play you would have to be his wife. Lastly, save the insults and just give HELPFUL advice because you are not Mikhail Tal either.

  8. There is also nothing wrong with playing a lot because there are decillions of possible chess positions you can learn a thing or two from and I doubt Ivan has played a decillion games. Well, actually, the way you describe it, he has played a google-plex games. Maybe you are trying to be helpful, but to me you sound like an overly critical overly assumptuous individual

  9. There is an easy way to improve your chess, JUST WATCH YOUNG KIDS PLAYING! Such as Brian L (he is rarely playing though), Sasha V, Hongkai P, John V, James W, David J, Derek S, Gregory R, Tommy S, Tianye Z...they are are good examples to progress so fast recently, just Playing as they are doing. The kids can, adults should can for sure. The key is to play with position not with rating...


  10. Actually I agree with most things BRUZ says.

    Most chess instructors agree that once an adult has an established rating it is very difficult to go up a rating class. It is is also harder to go from "A" to Expert, than from "C" to "B".

    I would like to hear from any adults who have done this.

    Watching kids play is not going to help old guys like us that much since our brains don't work like theirs.

    The reason why most adult "A" players" are destined to be "A" players is that that they look at chess through "A Filters" The way to to improve is to first unlearn & re-laern to look at chess through "Expert Filters" or "Master Filters". This is a very difficult process.

    Losing concentration and not blunder checking does not help either.

  11. Maybe one day BRUZ will tell us who he is, but the fact that he used "maths" instead of "math" means that he is from across the pond.

    I don't think that he is a very strong player I would guess he is a "B player"

    He learned his English in the U.K. He obviously lives in the US


  12. Ivan and his readers: I, along with Chris Baumgartner, am trying to promote the first of hopefully numerous events on the University of Chicago campus. I encourage you all to attend. Here's the info:

    Saturday, April 11, 2009. University of Chicago Chess Tournament. 4-SS G/60+10sec increment (this means you GET time EVERY move!). University of Chicago, Reynolds Club Building, 5706 S University Ave., Chicago, IL. Entry Fee: $25.00 ($10.00 off for University of Chicago students). Registration: 9:30am-10:15am Round times: 10:30am-1:00pm-4:00pm-6:30pm. Prize Fund: $700 b/60, 1st $250, 2nd $150, A $75, B $75, C $75, D/E $50. F and below and Unrateds $25. Entries/Info: Please make checks payable to/mail to: Christopher Baumgartner, 9985 Linda Ln. Apt. 2E, Des Plaines, IL 60016, phone 847-609-2987, email

  13. Are 1/2 point byes allowed for round 4?

  14. I'm going to make my third attempt at leaving a comment. Maybe the comment function doesn't like Firefox on Mac.

    Maybe we will play each other in the Family & Friends Tournament. Then we can both blog about it. We can have a contest to see whose readers trash our analysis the most. Though looking at the comments you got on this post, you have a tougher readership. :-)

    Look forward to meeting you in Nashville. It should be quite an event. I'm sure your students are getting excited.

  15. Yes, I am excited about Nashville, especially the Kasparov book signing.

    Unfortunately, I won't have a team there. Only my kids. (K-8 U1000 & K-9 U1250)

    We are driving and will arrive Thursday morning. The kids are playing in the bug-house event.


  16. Watch for Veech to do well in the K-9 Championship in Nashville. I project a top ten finish.

    Chess Dude

  17. Hey Chess Dude

    Predictions for John on this blog have not turned out to be very accurate. Projections are always very difficult, especially at national kid event where there are so many factors (a little good luck is always helpful... getting an opponent after a marathon game in the last round, a opponent blunder etc.).

    John could have played in the K-8 section where, by USCF rating (unreliable at this type of event) the section looks a little less challenging. Some of John's Magellan teammates are coming, so they are hoping that as a 3 person team, that they can do well. The team parts of these events have been so much fun for John.

    Good luck to all the WI participants. We'll be rooting for WI to continue to increase it national chess profile.

    Scott V

  18. It is exciting that 171 players in WI are going to Nashville, there are players in championship sections and others, Awonder in K-1, Tianye& Adream in K-3, David, Rohan& Gregory in K-5, Tommy in K-6, Derec & Jordan in K-8, James & John in K-9, Sasha & Hongkai in K-12... Sorry, hard to mention all.
    Good Luck to all kids!

  19. Good luck in the parents and friends go 4-0

  20. Nice blog here Ivan. Just started looking at it.
    Good luck to everyone at Nationals!
    For Lake Denoon, we are bringing Evan and Reid (also K5Champ), and Kolt and ChrisT (in the incredibly crowded K5U900). Evan and Reid attended Ashish/Alex's excellent prep session yesterday in Mequon, along with several others. It all comes down to the actual games. As we have found in the past, every kid out there seems underrated. Two years ago, under Mr. Reese, Evan, Reid, Gregory and Jorin (a 2nd grader) took the national K-3 unrated championship, was an amazing experience. I know it wasnt the championship division- our kids were yet unrated, but it was still amazing. Kudos again to the great job Greg did coaching them in that magical year for Mill Valley.
    We are driving out there on Wednesday so we can be there for bughouse and blitz also. The blitz is the only chance our 4 will have to play as a team.

  21. Ivan,
    I tried to say hello and meet you at a tournament in Madison a year ago, but you were involved in a long game and thus we have never met. My goal was also to advance from Class A to expert, but I never passed 1931. I am not sure if you study tactics other than the Chess Tactics server. I think the tactics server, because it promotes fast superficial judgment may also lead to blunders in long games where the tactics won't work out, unlike in the server's problems. If you haven't already studied them, I recommend Khmelnitsky's puzzle books. In particular, he gives messy real world positions and a scoring system to identify and correct your weaknesses.
    Best regards,
    Richard Reich,MD

    PS Do not ask Kasparov to sign the Deep Blue book! Bring one of the great predecessor's books. He graciously signed one of my Informants almost 20 years ago.

  22. Hello Richard,

    Are you thinking about playing again? I noticed you haven't played since 1999.


  23. Tactics alone can get one to 2000. Other than CTS I also work with printed tactic exercises.

    There is another site where you can solve with no time limit.

  24. Well,not tactics ALONE

  25. Chess is 99% Tactics, the rest is mostly tactics as well

  26. Not really. I'd say 75% tactics, and 24% position, and 1% tactics

  27. Ivan, is it a coincidence that you link to the Tour Standings and you just happen to be at the top?!
    At least you're humble!

  28. Ivan, I don't pretend to understand Tour points, but I unhide the columns in your spreadsheet and all I see is the ELO event listed with results. Haven't there been other Tour events for 2009? Where can we get the true "current" standings and not just the one that shows you in the lead?

  29. WI tour rules: Click here

    This is the "true current" list

    There have only been two events this year.

    For future events : Click here

  30. No current plans to compete again; my practice and family occupy my time.
    Richard Reich

  31. I agree with Ivan that one could reach expert by studying mainly tactics and playing relatively simple openings. For the most part this is what I did. There may be some argument about the limits adult players can reach but I feel I have made the majority of what little progress I have made in chess as an adult. I didn't start playing chess until I was 16.

    I'm a frequent reader of this blog and interested in chess improvement as well. Here are some things I have found helpful:

    1. helped me out a lot. Especially lectures on endgames and annotated games.

    2. Annotating my own games. Writing notes to my games in a notebook and only after I've drawn my own conclusions check my work with an engine.

    3. I've read some books. The ones I found that had the greatest influence were 1. My Great Predecessor series by Kasparov. 2. Pawn Structure Chess by Soltis. 3. Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual.

    I feel confident Ivan will make his goal if he adds a bit more rigor and consistency to his studying. I agree with earlier comments by Dr. Reich that CTS may be somewhat overrated as a training tool. CT Art seems to me to be better as you can study themes as opposed to random problems. Atleast CT-Art helped me quite a bit.

    But I'm by far not an authority on chess improvement as I still have many weaknesses. Someone like Ashish probablly has more reliable suggestions. These are just a few things that helped me reach 2000+ USCF. I personally don't see 2000 USCF as such a milestone personally. I feel if one puts in enough work 2000 USCF is easily attainable for anyone.

    -Matt Waller

  32. Awonder will win the K-1 Champ.

  33. I think that being over 2000 puts you in the 94th percentile of rated active players, pretty good in my book.

  34. David Jin will finish in top three in K-5 Champ

  35. Tianye Zhang will finish in top 15 in K-3 Champ

  36. Watch for Keanu Davis to do well in K-8 U1000

  37. I am also a big fan of doing tactics. Good outline Matt! BTW Matt....could you send me your email....I'm at thanks!

    Jim Rowe

  38. How'd those predictions come out Chess Dud?

  39. Not very well I'm afraid. Awonder Liang finished 3rd, David Jin finished 93rd,and Tianye Zhang finished 17th.

  40. A notable is that Brennan Harder finished 1ST in K-3 U800

  41. Too bad that WI had only one first place finish, I was expecting at least 3 :(

    Why didn't Veech and co. play in K-8?


  42. C.K.

    To answer your question, John had 2 teammates and they thought the best chance to win a team trophy was in the K-9 section as 3 person team, even though the K-9 section would be more difficult in general. They made their decision before they knew that there would be only 5 team trophies for the K-9 Championship Section.

    The major reductions to the trophies was the source of much discussion at the tournament. It will be interesting to see if USCF makes any changes for future events.

    All in all, well done by WI, too many successes stories to list. Chess Dude's predictions set a very unrealistic bar for WI at this tournament, but WI Scholastic chess has much to be proud. Congrats to all the players, parents, coaches and special thanks to all the tournament organizers who make it possible for the kids to continue to hone their skills.

    Scott V

  43. Gregory Reese placed 14th in the same division as David Jin with only one loss for the entire event. Not sure why his name isn't in any of these discussions. He is a very talented, though underdeveloped, player. He also won a trophy in the Blitz event for 11th place out of 217 participants. Congrats to him and all WI players who made the trip!

  44. I'm sure there are many WI players that are very talented and not in these "discussions". Congrats to all WI participants.

  45. Yes, Sasha did exceptionally well in the K-12 Championship division. The player who took first was rated 2500+. Being only a 5th grader this year, I would expect to see his performances propel him in to the top 20 finishers very soon!

  46. Congrats to U-school in K-12 Champ!