Blog has moved

My blog has moved to a newly designed homepage. I apologise for any inconvenience this may cause readers. The homepage has been crafted to make it easier for less web-savvy visitors to navigate through the many areas of my website.

The new blog address is:

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Chess in Food Terms and Other New Articles

The new page Food and Diet Model breaks down different aspects of chess improvement and training in terms of food and digestion. The article was written to outline different areas of chess in more detail.

Grandmaster Maurice Ashley is an outspoken supporter of chess for young people. I have written an article detailing some of Ashley’s achievements and what you can learn from him. See the article Maurice Ashley and Drawback Chess.

Also, the article on professional chess has been updated and revised.

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Chess Parenting and the ‘Never Say Die’ Strategy

Chess Parenting 101 discusses some important points if a parent is considering shifting their child into chess.

Never Say Die‘ is a strategy used in chess that is a trademark of legendary fighters.

Note: If you use Windows 7, you may experience difficulties trying to load the Java Chess Viewer. This is apparently an unavoidable problem as even the highly popular Chess Games website does not load the chess viewer on my Windows 7. Instead, I recommend you download the analysis in PGN and view it in ChessBase Light (full instructions are in the Never Say Die article).

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The Two Types of Chess Player

Highs and lows in chess are common. Like artists, we have have streaks of brilliance and misery. Simply look at my 5-minute rating changes in the last three years – it is like a stockmarket. It is how a person deals with these fluctuations, especially in periods of constant bad results, that determines whether he will become a strong player. In my experience, there are two types of chess players, with one type being significantly more productive in the long term. Perhaps the formal terms for these players should be entity theorists and incremental theorists respectively (Dr Carol Dweck). However, let’s keep it simple:

1. The ‘losing is bad’ player – this person is a perfectionist who sees every loss as some sort of permanent failure rather than a lesson to be learned from. He or she is the kind of player who storms out of the playing hall and comes close to quitting chess after losing a big game, and often they do. Even worse is the authoritarian parent with this mindset, who scolds their child because they lose a game. These parents see winning or losing as black and white, and often force their children to quit the game if they are underperforming (to search for another field where they can ‘win’). In reality, their kids probably start the game with great results, like a bull period in the stockmarket, and as soon as a bear period (a temporary drop in performance) hits, the parents force their children out of the game. True investors such as Warren Buffett, who is in my opinion the world’s greatest investor, know that they should enter the stockmarket for the long term.

2. The ‘every loss is a learning opportunity’ player – this player knows that learning from one’s mistakes is the most powerful way to learn. Obviously they still feel disappointed when they lose; everyone does, and they lose rating points too, but these people deal with their losses with a positive and productive frame of mind, and study their losses to find out where they went wrong. They understand that sometimes, good luck cannot be ensured and bad luck cannot be avoided. Their ratings will improve steadily in the long run.

Winning feels good. Winning feels really, really good, but losing is what makes us better. It’s very important for you, as a player, to take yourself on when you lose, to study the games that you lose. – International Master and former US Junior Champion Joshua Waitzkin

Common sense dictates that the second method of approaching chess will be the more successful one, not to mention the more stress-free one. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule so do not feel that these are black and white guidelines. However, if you recognise that you have the mentality of the first type of player, I challenge you to change your style of thinking and study your losses thoroughly. Remember that whatever does not kill you makes you stronger, which is true both in chess and in life.

To purchase products, I recommend Wholesale Chess. They provide the highest quality chess products at the lowest prices (especially for US and Canadian players). They even offer to match prices with other chess websites! Even though I live overseas, this is where I choose to purchase chess goods.

For chess opening training and repertoire maintenance, I highly recommend the software I use, Chess Openings Wizard. This software was approved by Grandmaster Peter Svidler (FIDE rating 2744 as of January 2010) many years ago.

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Unification is achieved!

People often ask me why the world’s highest ranked player is not also the world champion. Normally I have to tediously go through how they have qualification tournaments followed a one-on-one match between champion and challenger, and how the world’s highest ranked player would not necessarily be able to overcome all the obstacles to become world champion. (In general, winning the world championship is more prestigious than being the highest ranked player.) However, finally, the world champion has become the highest ranked player! Magnus Carlsen (NOR) has lost a whopping 24 points, but to his great credit, he is still floats above 2800 at 2802. World Champion Viswanathan “Vishy” Anand (IND) is now number 1 with a rating of 2804. Levon Aronian (ARM) has gained a lot of rating points and is now in 3rd position with a rating of 2801.

Click here to see the November 2010 FIDE rating list.
Click here to see the ChessBase report on the new rating list.

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Good Times

With the help of a friend, I was able to locate a photo I took with a familiar chess personality many years ago.

This is me on the left sitting with the legendary 12th World Chess Champion Anatoly Karpov, the most successful tournament player of all time. This photo was taken at a World Youth Chess Championships event (also known as the World Juniors).

Karpov was the official World Champion from 1975 to 1985. He was then the FIDE World Champion from 1993 to 1999. Karpov is considered one of the greatest players of all time due to his long presence in the world elite. These days, he mainly plays tournaments at rapid time controls and has also written some notable books.

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The Young Wave and Whether the Old Can Cope

It is no secret that teenagers and younger chess players seem to be improving boundlessly these days. As I am writing, the number 1 ranked player in the world is the Norwegian chess prodigy Magnus Carlsen. Carlsen is only 19 years old and has a towering rating of 2826 as of the July 2010 rating list. This is the second highest rating ever; the highest having been established at 2851 by Garry Kasparov. Indeed, there are many modern instances where players of only 9 or 10 years of age are becoming FIDE Master strength or stronger. I too am a teenager, and I can vouch for the observation that younger players are dominating the chess scene. I would now like to give some further thoughts about young players in relation to older players, and some methods senior players can use to combat their younger counterparts.

According to my research, ‘average people’ tend to discover (or rediscover) chess between the ages of 45-54. This age bracket is clearly the most popular with the 25-34 bracket coming a far second. I presume players aged 45-54 play the game for fun and as a form of mental training. Whilst older players tend not to be able to advance to world championship level (unless they already established themselves at that level when they were younger and have kept in constant practice), I believe they are readily able to achieve FIDE Master and International Master strength if they put strong effort into their pursuit. Some are even able to achieve the International Grandmaster Title such as Larry Kaufman at the age of 61 (he won the title by coming first at the World Senior Chess Championship). If you subscribe to the Internet Chess Club, Kaufman recently did an interesting interview with IM John Watson. The oldest player I can think of who achieved the Grandmaster Title through the normal ‘norm process’ is Ben Finegold, who achieved his final norm at the age of 40. All in all, older players should not fear their younger compatriots.

One problem area for older players is in trendy opening lines. Junior players tend to be highly ‘booked up’ and it is near impossible for casual older players to overcome their opponent’s intense opening preparation. Without the pressures of the adult world, kids have virtually infinite time to memorise opening variations. If you are a casual player at 50 years of age, playing into the main line Sicilian Najdorf Poisoned Pawn as White or Black is asking for trouble. Instead, older players can still achieve good results by adopting reputable plan-based openings where theory does not advance rapidly. This is why you often see senior players playing the English Opening as White. Examples of plan-based openings for Black include the French Defence (with the exception of the Poisoned Pawn Variation), Caro-Kann Defence, Pirc/Modern Defence, Scandinavian Defence and the Queen’s Gambit Declined.

It is my experience that junior players tend to be vulnerable in the areas of endgames and positional understanding. This is probably because such aspects are boring to study for most young players. With this in mind, older players should educate themselves in these areas and seek out strategical battles, making the endgame their hunting ground.

My final point is more of a general one. One logical factor in chess that can be easy to forget is physical fitness. Exhaustion in young and old is a large factor in the tactical blunders that cause us to lose games. Keeping fit through physical exercise is invaluable, and will save you from losing needless matches from pure mental exhaustion.

As a conclusion, I would like to leave you with a quote. Some of you may have seen this quote before from an earlier article. “Perhaps this… has led to the belief that it is impossible for someone to improve their chess after a certain age. Frankly, I believe this view is total poppycock; players can improve their chess at any age as long as they adopt an effective approach.” – English Grandmaster Nigel Davies (aged 50)

To purchase products, I recommend Wholesale Chess. They provide the highest quality chess products at the lowest prices (especially for US and Canadian players). They even offer to match prices with other chess websites! Even though I live overseas, this is where I choose to purchase chess goods.

For chess opening training and repertoire maintenance, I highly recommend the software I use, Chess Openings Wizard. This software was approved by Grandmaster Peter Svidler (FIDE rating 2744 as of January 2010) many years ago.

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Kasparov’s American Gambit

In 1988, then World Champion Garry Kasparov, widely regarded as the strongest chess player in history, played a simul against elite US juniors. The footage from the event was transformed into a documentary called American Gambit. I enjoyed the documentary very much and, although I do not know exactly what, something about it reminded me of how much I enjoyed playing chess. If you are accessing this post through email, you will need to click this link in order to see the videos below.

Here are, in order, parts I, II and III of the documentary:

P.S. It is my opinion that the Edelman game is ridiculous. I agree with Fishbein that a chess player should play on in such a situation.

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GP Chess Blog has moved!

This GeniusProphecy Chess Blog has moved to the following address:

Just as a reminder, the old address was:

As far as I can see, the move has transitioned smoothly. Subscribers do not need to take any action.

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Greatest Chess Performances

I have added a new section to the homepage called ‘Greatest Chess Performances‘. It is split into two subheadings – ‘Greatest of All Time’ and ‘Greatest Modern Performances’, the latter which I am yet to fully compile. So far, there are games from Karpov, Kasparov, Lasker, Tal, Alekhine and Carlsen.

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