The Beauty of chess


I sort of feel like this is my penance for resigning all of those games.


Resigning is good in a lost position. Why waste your and your opponent's time? For unofficial rating points? it's not like you'll learn anything just playing it out, so it would be better to start a new game. This is especially true if you are black playing with a handicap, as white is somewhat obligated to play on longer than black in a handicap game because everything white does is more or less untenable anyway.

I think it borders on rude to play on in an completely lost position hoping for a blunder, unless it's in an actual tournament, and even then there is a point at which you shouldn't drag it out. Once you get to a certain point, the odds are enormously against your opponent imploding in the end game, anyway, and even if he does and you win, how great is that? Not very.....


My view is that if you are a novice, you will often learn more from playing on - endgames can be fantastically instructive. Only resign when you can't learn anything more from the game, or just play out the mate. It always seems a shame to me in blitz games when an opponent resigns because he lost the exchange (minor piece for rook). Never resign in blitz!

I'm drawing a distinction between playing till mate and stalling - if you're worried about offending your opponent, you can always play a bit quicker to hurry things along. I can see the sense in resigning (in casual play) because you think you'll learn more from starting a new game.

Personally I don't worry about it too much - I will play out (apparently) hopeless endgames from time to time - sometimes they have interesting little features or opportunities for swindle. Games are all too often won by the player who made the second-to-last blunder.

Anyway, here's a great and nicely explained master game (with Nimzowitsch's annotations) Nimzowitsch - Hakansson 1922:

And poor Nimmy gets a bit of a ribbing here:

AN INGENIOUS EXAMPLE OF MY SYSTEM by Aaron Nimzowitsch - Anderssen started the sacrificial style, Morphy and Gruenfeld the pure attacking style, Steinitz the positional style, Tarrasch the scientific style, Lasker the style of styles, Capablanca the mechanical style, Alekhine a style as brilliant as sunlight. But it is a generally known fact that originality and modernism were introduced by me as my own personal inventions and enthusiastically imitated (without being fully understood) by the whole world of chess. For the ridiculously small sum of ten marks, the reader can confirm all this in my monumental work, My System, published by B. Kagan. Before my time, chess was so naive and undistinguished! One or two brutal opening moves, each one involving a vulgar, obvious threat, a common, banal sacrifice, a painfully elementary, bestially raw checkmate - such, more or less, was the course of chess games before my heyday set in. Then I appeared on the scene and the chess world paid heed. The hegemony of matter was shattered at a stroke and the era of the spiritual began. Under my creative guidance, the chessmen, hitherto nothing but highwaymen, pirates and butcher boys, became sensitive artists and subtle instruments of immeasurable profundity. But why waste words!--accompany me, dear reader to the dizzy heights of the following game.


I'm sorry, I wasn't clear about the resignations. I resigned from about 20 different games in various stages of play not because I was losing, in fact I was on the winning edge of most of them, but because I ran out of time/interest in my personal life to carry on even one game, much less 20. I consider this somewhat rude to my opponent.

As for resigning a lost game, if I am on the losing end, I often prefer to play it out, but I always ask my opponent if they mind first. I don't play games out just in case my opponent makes a mistake, although that is certainly a possibility, but because, especially in the early stages of learning a game, I would never otherwise see an endgame. On the other hand, I found in chess that a lot of people couldn't play a proper endgame because people were so used to having an opponent resign after a blunder much earlier in the game, and so my better than average endgame skills would often win an otherwise lost game.

But then I quit playing chess and found goweiqibaduk to be a much harsher mistress.


A league game I played tonight - I had black, and quickly got into trouble in a slightly unfamiliar opening. My opponent failed to fully capitalise, and I was plain sailing after my eighth move e5. The final moves were very nerve-wracking since we were both short on time.

  1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. e3 e6 4. Nc3 Nc6 5. Nf3 b6 6. d5 Na5 7. e4 d6 8. Bg5
    e5 9. Be2 Be7 10. Bxf6 Bxf6 11. Nd2 Bg5 12. Nf3 Bh6 13. h3 Qe7 14. O-O O-O
  2. b3 Nb7 16. Qc2 f5 17. Bd3 f4 18. Be2 Nd8 19. Qd1 Nf7 20. Nh2 Kh8 21.
    Bg4 g5 22. Bxc8 Raxc8 23. f3 Rg8 24. Ng4 Bf8 25. a4 a5 26. Nb5 Rg6 27. Kh1
    Qd7 28. Qe2 Be7 29. Rg1 Rcg8 30. Raf1 R8g7 31. Nc3 h5 32. Nh2 g4 33. fxg4
    hxg4 34. Nxg4 Rxg4 35. Rf3 Rh7 36. Qf1 Ng5 37. Rd3 Rgh4 38. Kh2 f3 39. Rxf3
    Nxf3+ 40. Qxf3 Rf4 41. Qd3 Bg5 42. Rf1 Rfh4 43. Rf8+ Kg7 44. Rf5 Bf4+ 45.
    Kg1 Qe8 46. Ne2 Qg6 47. Nxf4 exf4 48. Qc3+ Kg8 49. Qf3 Rxh3 50. Rxf4 Rxf3 0 - 1


Harsh, but elegant and beautiful. Those tiny little mirror game and ko flaws in the rules are like a mole that is supposed to accentuate an otherwise perfect beauty....

Anyhow, I got you re resignations. I guess that was a bit rude, but it would be ruder still not to resign and just let the games time out, and if you played on with no interest in the games, they would be dull anyway.


Monday's league game - playing white I came up against the Dutch defence, responding with a somewhat botched Staunton's gambit that left me in a dubious position with knights against bishops. Not a classic, but perhaps a good example of how to fight on in an inferior position.

  1. d4 f5 2. e4 fxe4 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 g6 5. Bxf6 exf6 6. Nxe4 d5 7. Nd2 Nc6
  2. Ngf3 Be6 9. Bb5 Qd7 10. O-O O-O-O 11. Re1 Re8 12. c4 a6 13. Bxc6 Qxc6
  3. cxd5 Bxd5 15. Rc1 Rxe1+ 16. Nxe1 Qb6 17. Nb3 Bg7 18. Nc5 Rd8 19. Nf3
    Bxf3 20. gxf3 f5 21. d5 Bxb2 22. Rc2 Ba3 23. Ne6 Rd7 24. Qe2 Bd6 25. Qc4
    Kb8 26. Qc3 Kc8 27. Qh8+ 1-0


Interesting games. In the first one you completely outplayed your opponent out of a slightly worse position. Then he suddenly had a terrible King's Indian without counterplay on the queenside, which is practically a tough situation.

In the second you got pushed off the board when the bishops turned out better than the knights in an open position with structural weaknesses. But you somehow managed to stay in the game and gave your opponent chances to make mistakes. And so he did ... first he didn't take the hanging knight (23.- Qxe6 and you can resign) and then he found a beautiful self-mate. ;)


For his final move he picked up his king and was about to play it to a7, before putting it back on b8 - he was short on time when he decided on Kc8. Of course if he played Ka7, his Queen runs out of squares, and I trap it with Rb2. Ka8 seems to be a solution against these threats, if I play Qh8+, forcing Ka7, then after Rb2 his Queen can escape to a5.

Now I thought that after 23.. Qxe6, I play Rxc7+ - after Kxc7 my Queen gets out of the pin with Qc2+. However, looking at it again, he refutes Rxc7+ with Kb8 (then if Rxb7+ Kxb7 Qb3+ Qb6 Qxa3 white is a rook down).


Chess is boring; play hnefatafl.


Here's a game I played with black 2 months ago. It was played in 4 player knockout team championship for clubs. I had 200 Elo more than my opponent, so I tried to keep things complex to create winning chances.

  1. b3 Nf6 2. Bb2 g6 3. Nf3 Bg7 4. e3 O-O 5. c4 d6 6. Be2 e5 7. d4 e4 8. Nfd2 Re8 9. Nc3 h5 10. h3 h4 {Necessary. White has g4 in combination with 0-0-0.} 11. Qc2 Qe7 12. a3 c5 13. Na4 (13. dxc5 $11) 13... cxd4 14. Bxd4 Nc6 15. Bb2 Bf5 16. b4 Rac8 17. Nc3 Ne5 18. Nb5 Nc6 $6 (18... Nd3+ $1 $15) 19. Nd4 Bd7 20. Nxc6 bxc6 21. O-O $2 {A practical mistake. 0-0 is still too early!} c5 {Closes the center to get an automatic kingside attack. Now white is in hefty time trouble while black has a few minutes more.} 22. b5 Bf5 23. Rfd1 Qe6 24. Bf1 g5 25. Nb3 g4 26. Qd2 Rcd8 (26... gxh3 $1 27. Qxd6 Ng4 $1 {Is nearly winning.}) 27. hxg4 Bxg4 28. Be2 Kh7 29. Na5 Rg8 30. Nc6 Rd7 31. Qc2 Kh6 32. Rab1 Bh8 33. Kf1 h3 $2 $13 (33... Qf5 $1 $19 {[%emt 0:00:00]}) 34. gxh3 Bxh3+ 35. Ke1 d5 36. Ne5 Rd6 37. Kd2 d4 38. exd4 Qxe5 39. Kc1 Qf4+ 40. Qd2 Qxd2+ 41. Kxd2 Bf5 42. Ke3 cxd4+ 43. Bxd4 Ng4+ 44. Bxg4 Bxd4+ 45. Rxd4 Rxd4 46. Kxd4 Rxg4 47. Ke5 Kg6 48. Re1 Rg2 49. Re2 Rg1 50. c5 Rd1 51. a4 Kg5 0-1

This game is very complex and full of mistakes. I've only marked a few of them. Especially the complications after move 40 are nearly impossible to understand over the board.


Nice finish, threatening f6 mate. Interesting comment about white castling too early - I find it can often be a tricky judgement to make.


Yes, I'm also often not sure about the best moment to castle.

In my game the white player correctly decided to delay 0-0 for a long time (a) because my play is on the kingside and (b) because he wants to maintain the 0-0-0 option, which is not that bad with all his pieces over there.
The position before his 0-0 was += I think, because I blundered the two tempi with Nc6-e5-c6. He still had one or two useful moves on the queenside before giving me a target on the kingside.


I am almost finished with an interactive chess comic for the iphone/ipod called Magnus The Small ...

Here is a medium puzzle. Try it and let us know the answer...

disclaimer: Magnus the Small is not related to world chess player #1 Magnus Carlsen :-)







Tonight's league game, I was playing against a kid. Unfamiliar opening territory again, so I spent a little more time on it. Was unsure if 4.. Nc6 and 5.. a6 are best but seemed to work out ok. If anything the middle game after Qh4+ could have been better, I doubt that 16.. Nc4 was the best approach. He didn't find good defensive moves (sacrificing the exchange to eliminate my doubled pawns seemed of dubious merit) and I found a way to win soon enough.

  1. Nf3 Nf6 2. d4 c5 3. Nc3 d5 4. Bf4 Nc6 5. e3 a6 6. a4 g6 7. h3 Bg7 8. Bd3
    cxd4 9. Nxd4 O-O 10. Nxc6 bxc6 11. Be2 Nd7 12. Qd2 e5 13. Bh2 f5 14. f3
    Qh4+ 15. Kd1 Nb6 16. a5 Nc4 17. Bxc4 dxc4 18. Qe2 Rd8+ 19. Kc1 Be6 20. Qe1
    Qe7 21. Qe2 Ra7 22. Ra4 Rb7 23. Rxc4 Bxc4 24. Qxc4+ Kh8 25. Qxc6 Qb4 26. b3
    e4 27. Kb2 Rb5 28. Ra1 Rc5 0-1


from a few years ago, online through a forum thread:

Game 1 -- Slapdragon vs russellmz
1. white pawn: e2-e4
2. black pawn c7 - c6
3. white bishop f1 - c4
4. black pawn d7 - d5
5. white pawn feasts on black pawn flesh e4-d5
6. black pawn treats white pawn like the bitch he is. c6 - d5
7. white bishop retreats after issuing fatawa c4-b3
8. black pawn e7 - e5 move forward at cowardly bishop
9. white pawn charges d2-d3 into battle, naked and screaming, just like the ancient celts
10. black knight g8 - f6 threatens white's tisdale manuever before russsel even figures out what that is.
11. white bishop skates along c1-g5, mocking the black knight, and its ancestors
12. black knight b8 - c6 in utter oblivion to threat of bishop, much to chagrin of other knight.
13. white knight gallops g1-e2 into the fray, playing "flight of the valkeries" over its loudspeakers
14. ashamed black bishop sneaks from f8 - e7 and cowers behind knight.
15. white king slides over two spaces e1-g1 in violation of the rules of war and man, then the ten-story castle disengages from its very foundations. madness!
16. in a stupendous show of originality, black king castles rook e8 - g8 rook h8 - f8, while king wonders when other wankers will start playing the game.
17. white knight takes his b1 vitamin pill before going to see d2: the mighty ducks
18. tiring of playing around, black bishop moves c8 - g4 and begins to preach holy scripture to cowering pawns.
19. white pawn comes up f2-f3 and shoves a copy of skeptic magazine into black bishop's face while singing broadway showtunes (preachers hate showtunes)
20. Black bishop g4 - e6 arranges for some tasty alter boys to come visit neverland ranch
21. white pawn goes to f3-f4 and gets all up in black pawn's face, saying "yo queen so dum she heard it was chilly outside and ran out with a spoon." (OH SNAP!)
22. Black knigh f6 to g4, go ahead, make my day
23. white bishop g5-e7, because on a clear day you can see the black bishop get a sound beating
24. Black queen d8 - e7 arrests bishop for blowing the choir, nahhh naaahhh
25. white rook does f1-f3, because he wants to blow up the choir too
26. Black pawn e5 - e4 pees on castle's gate
27. white pawn performs an act of defenstration on the black pawn d3-e4, because that aggression will not stand and that dog won't hunt and he needed killin'
28. Black queen e7 - c5 check... pay pal accepted
29. white king g1-h1 ruh roh...
30. Black rook a8 - d8, causing wonder and astonishment at the unorthodox move.
31. white queen d1-e1 (points at above comment, and says "s'true!")
32. black pawn d5 - d4, the mystery continues
33. white bishop invades b3-e6, and as the wmds fall, the black bishop can be heard to scream, "ze goggles! they do nothink!"
34 Black pawn f7 - e6 trading is a loosing proposition Mr. Whatley.
35. white queen e1-h4 they call me mister tibbs!
36. black queen takes puny pawn c5 - c2 and threatens western civilization.
37. white rook f3-g3 because a good plan tomorrow will take more effort than a bad plan today
38. black knight g4 - f2 says Czech.
39. white king h1-g1 as it was foretold in the prophecies
40. Black Queen c2 - b2 taking pawn in honor of the now arrested king of chess
41. white rook a1-b1 tells black king to sit his ass down and calls black queen over for a booty call
42. Black Queen b2 - a2 get back, jack (takes pawn)
43. white rook b1-b7, because four tuna favor the bold (or something like that)
44. Black queen a2 - d2 takes knight and makes big Raspberry at ill conceived white plan.
45. white rook g3-g7 cause the check is in the mail?
46. black king retreats in order g8 - h8
47. white queen h4-(edit-h7) you go, girl! checkmate


I had a league game on Sunday. And sometimes chess can be really maddening...

It reminded me of a chess short story by Patrick Süskind. In that story there was this old man, the best chess player in town. He was challenged by a nobody and every chessplayer in town wanted to see the old guy losing. The young guy played like a madman, sacrificing left and right, and lost. The old man played very cautious and all sympathy went to the young man. After the match, the old guy gave up on chess, because his win tasted like a loss to him...

That happened to me somehow on sunday. I won, but it was nothing good about it. I used up almost all my time (I used 90 minutes) and my opponent used 10 minutes of his time, basically he was playing blitz. And his position was strong most of the time. If he would not have made a big mistake at the end, he could have won. This win did not feel good, crap. I hate those guys...


Would you have felt better if you'd played carefully and then lost?

If someone is playing blitz chess with a long timer, either they have no respect for you as a player, they are trying to psych you out, or least likely, that's the only way they can bear to play at all.

Two out of three of those options should piss you off, not dismay you. And even in the last case, that's the way he chose to play. You didn't force him to make a casual mistake he could have avoided if he played with more care for the game. Too bad for him. Maybe next time he'll take a minute off from time to time to actually think about the position. Of course, maybe next time he'll be rated 500 points higher....