Tuesday, April 12, 2016

"make the best move you can" by marcus aurelius

for the past year, i've been learning and trying to practice stoicism.

today, while reading marcus aurelius' meditations*, i came across this quote, which i thought amusingly applicable to chess.

If you are doing your proper duty let it not matter to you whether you are cold or warm, whether you are sleepy or well-slept, whether men speak badly or well of you, even whether you are on the point of death or doing something else: because even this, the act in which we die, is one of the acts of life, and so here too it suffices to 'make the best move you can'.

* Tranlated by Martin Hammond, Introduction by Diskin Clay

Saturday, December 05, 2015

1700 blitz on lichess

i'm on some kind of a streak now.

on november 12, i was 1546 blitz and since then, i've been mostly winning.  after my last win just a few minutes ago, i'm at 1704.

i largely suspect this is artificial improvement - i've not been doing any tactics or studying.  i've just been playing lots of blitz (casual and rated), with a smattering of classical games here and there.

it's so much fun to simply play.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

come on people; just resign!

in two games, just this week, my opponent made a tactical mistake, i took advantage of the tactical mistake and then my opponent would either leave the game or let their flag fall.

thanks to lichess, when a player abandons the game, the player who stays can claim victory.  those situations aren't so painful.  i remember when i was actively playing on FICS, that unless both players had a certain variable turned on (i think it was "noescape"), if one player abandoned the game, the game would go into this limbo status where neither one could claim victory, unless the other ceded the game.  and if you wanted to claim the victory, you had to message the other player or contact the server admin - painful.

but then there is another class of sore loser - those who let their flag fall.  let me respectfully say "screw you" to those who are in a losing position and intentionally let their flag fall rather than resigning or even abandoning the game.  every single player who does this is automatically added to my block list.  i know, that doesn't sound so revengeful, but it gives me a certain degree of satisfaction.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

random comment, related to chess, from scott adams' blog

random comment
I have two adult sons. One of them became an adult around the age of six. He followed the same life strategy from age six as Scott has outlined, and now enjoys great professional success and family satisfaction. Go figure. 
My other son joined the Army because he needed the challenge and structure to keep him out of trouble. If he makes it to his late twenties without going to jail or getting killed, I think he will have a good life. 
In my late twenties, while in graduate school, I joined my university chess team because I knew they would play the state penitentiary chess team, and I wanted to see the inside of a state penitentiary as a tourist and not as an inmate. As an unexpected additional player, I found myself playing against the prison chaplain instead of against an inmate. Looking around at the inmates, I said to the chaplain, "These guys look a lot like me." The chaplain said, "They look a lot like you, to me, too. Let me guess. You spent the last ten years in the Marine Corps." "Nine," I said. "If you had not spent the past nine years in the Marine Corps, you would have wound up here: at one time, young men like these, and like yourself, served society well; after all, Columbus needed sailors and Cortez needed conquistadores." 
Not everyone can play the odds as an adult. Some people have a prolonged childhood and adolescence, not of their own choosing. They deserve better than prison and homelessness. Scott Adams did not select his genetics, nor his parents, nor his birth situation, nor his early adult character. He only thinks he made the choices he made. In actuality, life made those decisions for him. He put in the work, but then, he could not NOT put in the work, and he now enjoys remarkable success. 
My older son has followed a path similar to that of Scott's, and I don't see that my son had any choice in the matter, either, except to act out what life had given him. In any event, I love and respect and admire both my son's; both the doctor and the soldier.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


i started a sub reddit: /r/chessmatchups

feel free to use and advertise!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

state of my chess

since about 2011, i've been trying to establish a goal of playing about 50 real games a year.  in 2012, i got to 41 games, in 2013 i played 52 games, in 2014, i only play 24 games.

in 2015 so far, i've played about 22 games.  i need to reach my goal of 52 games by the end of august.  this means i'm about 10 games behind.  but i think i'll be able to reach my goal.  most of my games are turn-based.  in fact, i've got an active game with robert pearson going right not - it's early into the match.  you can follow that game here.

unfortunately, this is about all the chess i can get in right now.  i started a new assignment at work and it does not leave much time for anything else.  every once in a while, i'm able to sneak away during lunch and solve some problems at chesstempo.  and once a in blue moon, i pull out chess book and read.

if anyone wants to play a 30 0 game or longer, leave a comment.  i play on chess.com or lichess.com.

and lastly, i'm sure everyone has already seen this, but in my effort to document chess violence, i needed to add this to the list: a 10 year old boy jumps to his death after being check-mated

Friday, January 23, 2015

of losing and pinewood derby cars

last fall, i got my 10 year old son to start playing chess.  i introduced him to fritz and chesster and he immediately took a liking to it.  we began to play several games a day.  i got him a chesskids.com account and he began to play lots more.

several years ago, i made a deal with my older kids that if they ever beat me, i would buy them a prize.  this motivated the two older kids for a while, but they never got close to beating me.  i made the same deal with my 10 year old, and he got to work!  he wanted to beat me.

when we first began to play, he would move quite fast.  but more recently, he has been taking his time and really thinking about his moves.  this week, we were playing our usual nightly game.  i was surfing the internet on my tablet while playing him.  but i was still trying to make good moves.  before i knew it, he had forked my king and queen.  i still wasn't too concerned, but then i failed to defend my back row and he was able to notice and deliver the checkmate.  it was over.  i was honestly stunned, but extremely happy at the same time!  he is a very modest ten year old and wasn't overly excited, but he was undoubtedly proud of his accomplishment!

now the fun begins!  i hope he continues to improve and continues to make our games more challenging.

coincidentally, this week my son and i worked on his pinewood derby car.  his idea was to make the car into a chess piece.  naturally, we decided to make it a rook and call it "ROCKYROOK"!

the derby is tonight; we doubt he'll win the whole thing, but it's always a fun event!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

tata steel tournament

i wonder if the players at the tata steel tournament have a constant urge to urinate.

that's all i can think about every time i see the room they are playing in.

and seeing people standing in ankle-deep water like it's no big deal; makes my feet cold.

it must be torture playing in that hall.

Monday, January 12, 2015

silman's knights tests

3rr1kn/ppnqb1pp/2p1p3/6PP/1PBPP1Q1/P3B3/2N5/2R2R1K w - - 0 1
test 1, white to move

5rk1/1b1n2pp/p3pr2/1p1p4/3R1P2/P1N2R2/1PP1B1PP/7K b - - 0 1
test 2 black to move

r1bq1r1k/2p3pp/pppbn3/4Np2/3P1P2/NQP1B3/PP4PP/R3R1K1 b - - 0 1
test 3, black to move

2r2rk1/pbqnbppp/1p3n2/1Pp1p3/2P1P3/P4NP1/1BQN1PBP/R4RK1 w - - 0 1
test 4, white to move

4r1k1/2qn2bp/p2p1ppn/2pP4/1rN1PP1B/2NQ3P/1P4P1/4RR1K w - - 0 1
test 5, white to move

r5k1/pp1rb1pp/3N2b1/2p1B3/5P2/1P3K2/P5PP/R2R4 w - - 0 1
test 6, white to move

r1b2rk1/1p1nqpbp/2p2np1/p3p3/P3P3/2NQBN1P/1PP1BPP1/R4RK1 w - - 0 1
test 7, white to move

r1b1rnk1/1p2qpb1/p1pp1np1/4p3/2PPP1P1/1QN1BPN1/PP5P/1K1R1B1R w - - 0 1
test 8, white to move

3rnrk1/2qn1pbp/1p4p1/2p1p3/4P3/4B1PP/1PPNQPB1/R4RK1 w - - 0 1
test 9, white to move

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Snippet from "Drugs, Chess, Books, or Gambling: How to Fight Boredom in Prison

Read this snippet from this article via /r/chess

Also popular and widely played enough to form a ranked community is chess. Its stars are known throughout the system; I played occasionally for years and never won. The true enthusiasts devote their being to the game, reading books, trading strategies, and easily spending eight hours a day at play in the yard, even in the depths of winter. Most have waterproof sets made of plastic, as the rain doesn't stop them. I've also seen chess sets carved from soap or molded out of spit and cardboard. In solitary confinement, men play chess against each other by screaming; both parties have boards made of paper and ink, and instead of the complicated official system (E2 to E4 and so forth), they have the squares numbered from 1 to 64. It's torture to hear the numbers yelled through the night.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

to AOX: i've reached 6 hours on "attackers"

after lots of discussion with AOX about chesstempo and how to gain real improvement, i offered to be a guinea pig on visualization practices.

he said the first step is to get about 6 hours of practice in for "attackers" on chessgym.net

i just surpassed 6 hours today.  i averaged about 32 pieces of minute.

AOX - now what?  should i be trying other visualization exercises that you list on your blog?

Monday, November 03, 2014

November 2, 2014 - 30 2 game on chess.com

Trying to get into the habit of playing a long-ish game every Sunday evening.  Last night, I had time to play a 30 2 game.

Here is a link to the game.  I posted some self-analysis; as well as some comments from an engine analysis from lichess.  Feel free to comment on the game, either here on this blog or at chess.com

I need to get better at analyzing my own games.  I did some initial analysis, but I figure I can still go back to the game, and add comments and thoughts as more ideas surface.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


life got really wild about a month and a half ago.  with four kids in three different schools and numerous activities going on; with a ramp-up in work - every new day and week brought more and more work and things to do.

then our home was burglarized; part of it was ransacked.  ever since, we've been trying to recover and get back to a somewhat normal life.

chess took a backseat, obviously.  i've not done any work at chesstempo or started any new games at chess.com since the middle of september.

while we were reassembling our home, i took the opportunity to do some reevaluation of what i'm focused on in life.  a part of that was figuring out what i should do with chess.  i love solving chess problems, but i'm beginning to wonder if that really is helping improve my game.  on top of that, i don't regularly play.  i had a number of correspondence games going, but not much beyond those.  although i have been playing more with my younger son - who has taken a big interest in chess when i introduced him to Fritz and Chesster a couple of weeks ago.

i don't quite know what my new routine will look like, but i know i need to play lots more games; i know i like solving problems at chesstempo; and i'm trying to experiment with AOX's suggestion at Chess GYM (attackers).  i'm up to around 17 pieces a minute now.

the one constraint i have is time.  i estimate i have about 10 hours a week to dedicate to training and playing.

so, with all that said, a high level view of my plan looks like this:
- during the week, do 30 minutes of tactics at CT; play a 15 0 game at chess.com (during lunch)
- spend an hour an evening going over correspondence games at night
- play a 30 0, or 60 0 game Sunday night
- somewhere in there, i need to spend some time reading books (i'd like to actually use the books i have, which are just collecting dust)

any suggestions from my dear readers?  what should i focus on?  how do i maximize my results for improving, given my time constraint?

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

ChessTempo July 2014

Just a follow-up from my June post about my ChessTempo performance.

The three-week vacation made it a bit difficult to consistently keep up with my goal of 20 problems per day.  As such, I found myself doing 60-100 problems per day the last week of July in order to "catch up".  But despite that, I still managed to stay above 1700 per 20 problems.  There were a handful of times when I dipped below 1700, but I bounced right back above 1700.  Also, I hit a new all-time high in July at 1764.3.

I'm still not entirely convinced this improvement in performance is entirely due to the duplicate reduction issue (which was implemented in April 2014).  The fact is I am seeing more 1700+ problems in June and July than I have from January to May this year.

In October 2012, I started tracking how many problems I had that were below 1599, between 1600 and 1699 and above 1700.

For example, in October 2012, CT gave me 456 problems that were rated 1599 and lower; 190 problems that were rated 1600-1699; and 54 problems that were rated 1700 and above.  My respective correct percent for each of those was 85%, 74% and 56%.

2014 January to May monthly averages stats for each of these categories is:
below 1599: avg total probs 324; 89.68% correct
below 1699: avg total probs 205; 78.60% correct
above 1700: avg total probs 92; 62.12% correct

Those same states for June and July 2014 are:
below 1599: avg total probs 216; 90.31% correct
below 1699: avg total probs 231; 82.69% correct
above 1700: avg total probs 175; 64.20% correct

So, CT is serving me fewer lower rated problems (those rated 1599 and lower) and more 1600 problems along with more 1700 and above problems.  The >1700 stat is actually pretty amazing.  I was getting about 90 per month the first 5 months of the year, and then in June and July CT served me an extra 85 higher rated problems and my percent correct when up by over 2%.

Other stats I find interesting is my monthly average of "average recent per problem time spent" continues to increase.  I started tracking this in February this year.  It was 47 seconds in Feb, 50 in Mar, 52 in Apr, 54 in May, 62 in June and 65 for July.

Again, it all may come crashing back down, but this is now two months in a row of "good indications."
rating chart july 2014
blitz non dup rolling avg of gain/loss
fide est rating based on per 20 blitz problems

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

lion of the blogosphere (half sigma) posts on chess (again)

Lion of the Blogosphere (who used to blog at Half Sigma) has posted on chess again.  I share these, because it provides (mostly the comments) feedback about other people's perspective on chess, especially in American culture.

"Is chess prole?" and "Chess tutor: another job being outsourced"

Monday, July 07, 2014

i'm now on lichess

i decided to check lichess out last week.  i like it.  it's simple, clean and there's no fuss - just good chess.

feel free to meet and play me on lichess.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

ChessTempo June 2014

rockyrook blitz problem rating 5.31.14 to 7.1.14
I've been keeping a pretty good eye on my chesstempo performance since January 2012.  I track several aspects including my monthly minimum rating, maximum rating and median rating per every 20 blitz problems.  So after I completed my 620 blitz problems for the month of June, I realized a few things special about this month.

Since January 2012, I've only ever been above a 1750 rating once (1752.6 in July 2012).  In June 2014, I hit 1759.6.

Since January 2012, I've never stayed the entire 620 problems above the 1700 mark.  In June 2014, I managed to stay above 1700 from start to finish.  My minimum rating per 20 problems was 1706.8 with the median rating coming in at 1740; which by the way, my median rating was the first time above 1730.  The previous best was 1721.9 in May 2012.

Another insight into the data shows that I took longer to solve the problems.  But I seem to be finding the right amount of time for any given problem, else if I were taking longer on every problem, then my rating would have gone down.  The average of my average recent time per problem has gone from 47 seconds in February 2014 to 62 in June.

My percentage correct wasn't special.  I came in at 81.29%.  That is slightly below the 2014 average for me.

Of course, June could be one big anomaly and July will see a return to "normal" - which is entirely possible, especially given the fact that I'll be on vacation for 3 weeks - which disrupts my daily routine.  But, if I'm able to keep the rating and percentage correct relatively high and the trend continues, I might be looking at something significant in my chess improvement with regards to chesstempo.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Chess Cheating Accusations

I can't remember the last time I was accused of cheating at chess - if ever.

But today, while playing a 5 2 blitz game on chess.com, my opponent sent three chats in the game, but I didn't see them until after he resigned.  All three chats claimed I cheated - including one "cheater boy"

I guess I should be flattered by the accusations?

In reviewing the game, it's apparent (s)he just blunders - plain and simple.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

ChessOcr Rocks!

Today, I'm sitting around, watching the kids swim and I go get a chess book to read.  I pick up one of my Silman books and begin to read.  The first chess diagram I come across, a thought pops into my head, "I wish I could just snap a picture of that diagram and then start moving the pieces.  I wonder if there is an app for that?"

After a quick google search, the Play Store returns an app called ChessOcr.  After downloading it and fiddling with it, I find that it works exactly as I had hoped.

The app author has a very nice video of how the app works.

I'll be sure to add this app to my growing list of Best Chess Apps on Android.