Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Online Cheating: I Don't Get It.

Yesterday I wrote about some of my observations about Chess Tactics Server, and perhaps my biggest gripe was the 3 second time limit to get full credit. In the comments Scirius mentioned online cheating. I also noticed that CTS had a lot of information about different types of cheating. I know that on different chess servers like ICC or FICS cheating has been a problem.

Why in earth do people cheat on a site like CTS? Who cares what you rating is on a tactics server? Right now mine sucks. Hopefully it will improve as I get better at finding moves, and recognizing patterns in the various positions. I thought the idea of using sites like CTS was to improve your ability and knowledge of chess, not pump up a fake number. I guess there are pathetic losers out there who need to cheat so they can can validate their so called chess prowess by having a high CTS rating.

I guess they're the same people who try to get a high rating on ICC or FICS by having Fritz or a stronger player give them moves. I suppose having a high rating on one of the chess servers might get you better games. What's the point if you get crushed by these better players without using the computer? I can play high rated players in a live tournament and get some input after the game is done.

I suppose I'm preaching to the choir here. All of you in this part of the chess blogsphere are trying to get better at chess. I'd rather lose a bunch of games because I was outplayed or overlooked something, then win because I cheated. Whether I'm playing chess or some other game, I'm doing it because I relish the challenge of trying to do the best I can. It would be nice if the best I can always led to a win but chess, like life doesn't work that way. More often the not, best I can means not getting crushed and humiliated by a stronger player. Then there are those days where I get crushed and humiliated by someone lower rated then me. Those days suck! But like the rodeo rider who gets tossed immediately, I'll get up, brush off the dirt, and get back on the damn horse again.

It's not just online chess where people feel the need to cheat. I don't play a lot of online chess, but I love playing hearts online. The issues with the flat board in chess don't impact me when playing cards online. I've seen a lot of cheating at hearts. These games are not for money. I play in tournaments or in a card room where the only thing at stake is your hearts rating for that particular site. There are no prizes in the tournaments. One earns points each tournament and at the end of the month the top 16 players get to play in the end of the month championship. Winner of that tournament gets a tee-shirt. Woo hoo!

There have been cases where a player and his buddy would playing in the same game, and would IM each other information about their hands. Sometimes one player would be playing in the same game on two computers with two different handles. This way he had control of two hands each round. Though it's not really cheating, I see players constantly resetting their rating and starting over, or creating a new name. I'm not sure what the point is except some higher rated players will set minimum rating requirements for their table. I have found that for myself any time I've created a new name and have gotten an established rating with the new name that the rating is always within 25 to 50 points of my old rating.

End of the sermon. I think it's time to post another game!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

More Thoughts on CTS

I just did another session on it, and I realize that the same things that plague me when I play online carry over to this too. I'm not fond of playing on the internet because I find I miss a lot due to the 1 dimensional nature of the board. I lose something spacially without a regular chess board. When I look at the problems on the screen I tend not to see the position as clearly as I might if I were looking at it on the board.

The other issue that makes this especially challenging is that I only have 6 seconds before the opponent is going to make the move. I have 3 seconds to come up with the right move in order to get full credit. I don't really care about the rating so it isn't a big deal if I'm not making the move within 3 seconds. In a real game I would have more familiarity with the position because it would be progressing in real time. Here I'm being dropped into the position with no concept of what is occurring until I look at the board so it's hard to come up with an answer quickly. Also since I'm not part of the video game generation my mouse reflexes aren't so hot, so even if I do see the right move immediately the hand-eye thing just doesn't work quite as well as it used to when I was a ice hockey goalie in college.

I would be interested in other people's observations on using CTS as a training tool. Do you encounter some of the same issues that I have mentioned?

Damn, I Suck at CTS!!

I've been reading various blogs of the Knights Errant and have seen many references to Chess Tactics Server. So being the brave and nosy soul that I am, I checked it out. I'm not sure what I was expecting. Perhaps tactics by theme, which is the way I study them in many books. Some of them were so easy, but I kept looking for tricky things. When I'd finally notice the very simple recapture or check I'd hear a big DUH! coming from my mind. My thought processes during these problems remind me of how they go when I'm playing. Sometimes I just miss the obvious because I'm looking for something more complex.

I guess the beauty of this type of training is that it simulates an actual chess game more then a problem in a book. Obviously when I'm playing there isn't going to be a little indicator saying "white to move, and mate in 3", or "black to win using a discovered attack". Recognizing the recurring patterns is going to be my "little indicator." Though for me the annoying thing is falling into the same sort of trap on a frequent basis. I am so tired of my king position crumbling because I forget the my f2 (f7 as black) is pinned, and not really guarding my g pawn.

I was about to launch into rant about pinned f pawns and add some recent game where I fell into that, but I will refrain for the time being. Maybe reading the various knights' blogs will inspire me to go on my own Quitoxesque chess adventure beyond the plus or minus 50 rating points that I venture from and back to my rating floor. Maybe this old queen can learn a few new tricks. Stay tuned.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Now Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Programming....

Vacations are wonderful, but 12 days on the other coast with no chess can remind one's chess brain of an early morning in San Francisco. This is my brain two days after returning to my own time zone.

It always takes me awhile to get back in sync with east coast time. If you look at the time stamp from my previous post you can see that I had no clue about what time it was. I started writing at 12:50 am. 1:00 am? No problem, it's only 10:00 pm in San Francisco.

So I guess it should not have come as any great surprise that my analysis was a little off on Wednesday. I certainly could relate to Blue Devil Knight's lament of blowing a won ending. He had least salvaged a draw. This was one of those "What is the worst possible move for white?" positions. I'm up a pawn and I have the bishop pair. The most annoying thing was I saw the right move, but I tried to get cute. I clearly found one of the worst moves for white. Maybe 26. Be4 is worse then what I played.

Black just played 25...f5. I started drooling over all the the discovered check possibilities on the a2-g8 diagonal. Fritz gives White +- 2.78 after 26. Nf4 Nxf4 27. exf4 Qg6 28. Ra4+ Kh7 29. Rxa7 b6 30. Re6 Qf7.

I saw 26 Nf4, but I figured I'd play 26. Ra4 first, attacking his a pawn. My idea was after he defends the a pawn, then I'd play Nf4 attacking the pinned knight. Well, duh! Great plan except by moving the rook his knight can simply take on c5, forking my queen and rook. There goes the nifty discovered check and my overwhelming advantage. This was a clear example of not seeing what was there. Unfortunately for me, my opponent did see the hanging pawn and fork. After several minutes of thought he played 26...Nxc4. I did manage to get a pawn for the exchange, and kept it interesting for awhile. I played on for another 19 moves, but getting my queen trapped on move 45 was the last straw. A six minute time advantage was not enough compensation for the trapped queen. So much for going into round four with 2 1/2 points.

I Went 12 Straight Days Without Playing Chess!!

Despite what one may think from reading this blog, I do have a life outside of chess. I just returned from a wonderful 9 days in San Francisco and Napa Valley. I was out there for vacation and to walk the Nike Women's Marathon. I do a number of endurance events to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's through their Team in Training program.

When I travel abroad I always try to find the local chess scene. I find it's an interesting way of meeting the locals, and gives me a different perspective of the country. I've visited chess shops in London and Paris, and played in cafes and parks in Saltzberg, Amsterdam, and Paris. On my last European trip it wasn't hard since I was on Susan Polgar's Budapest trip. Since so many of my trips in the US are chess related I tend not to look for chess when I'm vacationing in the States.

Before I left I did actually Google the Mechanic's Institute and found out there was going to be a tournament the day before I walked the marathon. I was seriously considering playing in it since it would have been a good way to stay off my feet the day before the race. I had not packed a chess set or clock, but I had brought my Mon Roi. I figured there would be chess sets and clocks at the club, and the Mon Roi took up very little space. Also I had intentions of posting my "Girl's Knight Rematch" game that I won against Lilia Poteat. However posting on this blog took a back seat to vacation.

The Mechanic's Institute was only a few blocks from my hotel, but when I woke up Saturday morning it was sunny and warm. Even this chess addict didn't want to spend a sunny day in San Francisco holed up in a chess club. It was probably just as well since I looked at the cross table, and would have gotten paired way down in the first round. I don't need to travel to San Francisco to play a 900 player or an unrated of unknown strength. What would you rather do? Play chess or see this??

Then again maybe maybe smelling chess players is better then smelling these guys. The sea lions stink, but they're cute.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Girls' Knight at The Marshall Chess Club Part II

After getting crunched by a nine year old, could my evening get any worse? I suppose so. I could have gotten paired against the kid with the 1100 rating and lost to him. I could also have been an adult male. I heard the lament that adult males don't like losing to children, women or computers. My question has been "What about losing to a computer programmed by a 10 year old girl?" Fortunately I don't have gender issues, and as much as I don't like losing to kids I've gotten used to it. However if I'm going to lose to children I rather lose to a girl.

A few weeks ago Linda was the one who put an end to my 10 game losing streak. I'm sure she'd be thrilled to know that. The streak really should have ended on that game being a draw, but I'm not the only one who implodes in time pressure. A few hung pieces later, I had a win. I guess this game was to be pay back time.

It seemed like a fairly quiet game, until I let her get a passed pawn. The passed pawn didn't even seem like it was going anywhere, except I allowed her to push it to d6 and cut my rook off from the kingside. Perhaps 32...Rb6 wasn't the way to get my rook back to the kingside.The material was even, and I had better pawn structure. But none of this matters when you're opponent just marches and parks her queen on the 7th rank with check, rook rook is totally out of play, and there's a gaping hole on the a1-h8 diagonal occupied by a bishop.

*Sigh* Another one of those educational games that makes a good lesson on kingside weaknesses.

Hats off to the young ladies for coming to play with the big boys, and giving me hope that there are more young ladies like that, just waiting to pounce on the unsuspecting adult.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Girls' Knight at The Marshall Chess Club Part I

Given the low percentage of women who play chess it's no great surprise that there aren't a lot of females playing in 4 Rated Games Tonight! There are many nights that I'm the only woman playing. If there are other females it's most likely going to be Linda and Lilia, two promising NYC juniors. They are a breath of fresh air in the otherwise nitty gritty NYC chess scene. They're smart, pretty, personable, and play a tough game of chess. All my games against them are difficult, though through tonight I had not lost to either of them. Lilia has nicked me for a draw. They're good friends, they attend the same school, and they have the same chess teacher. Any time Steve ends out having to pair them he puts a note next to the pairing stating FORCED PAIRING. That pairing tends to happen in the third round if they're both 0-2.

Other women tournament directors and I have made an interesting observation. It seems no matter how many players there are in a tournament, and how few of them are women that the pairing program will always manage to pair them. This tournament proved to be no different. The first round I lost to Larry Tamarkin again! Geez, another random 2100 player that I'm 0 for lifetime against. I think that was loss number 12. The guy just annoys the hell out of me, and lots of other people too. Unfortunately I can't seem to use my annoyance to my advantage. Unlike Jay Bonin he who destroyed him in the second round. They were the first game done.

The field was fairly weak so I actually got paired down in round two. I knew even before the pairings went up I'd be playing Lilia. The colors were right for that pairing. She's deceptive. She just plays nice solid and quiet moves as black. This night she seemed particularly tired. She was yawning a lot and at times she seemed to be zoning out. I'm thinking to myself "It's got to be tough being 9 years old, and playing chess at 8:15 pm on a school night, after a full day of school, after school activities, and homework." I wasn't allowing my observations and thoughts to cloud my thinking, but when the position is really quiet and boring sometimes I get antsy.
Here was one of those positions where I starting seeing things that weren't there. I played 18. Nc7. For some reason I thought after the trade I was going to win the backward pawn on b6. I can't even blame this on a piece not being on the same square while doing the analysis. Her knight was on d7 quarding the pawn, but somehow I became fixated with the idea that only the queen was covering the pawn. It went downhill from there.
18. Nc7 bd3
19. Qd1 Bxc7
20. Bb7 Qe7
21. Nb3? a4 (big tempo!)
22. Nd2 Qb4
23. b3 axb3
24. axb3 Ra2
25. Nf1 Rea8
26. g4 (gasping for air) h6
27. Ng3?? Rd2! (my queen has fallen victim to an "epaulette mate!"
28. Qxd2 Qxd2
29. Red1 Qb4
30. h3 Qxb3
31. Bf1 Bxf1
32 Rxf1 b5
White Resigns
When I saw Lilia's mom afterwards, I told her that I managed to make it so Lilia and Linda would not face each other in round 3. Instead it would be Linda and me with the 0-2 scores having the round 3 face off. So this would be one of the rare moments in a 4 round swiss that I would play a second female player. 19 players in the tournament, 3 women including myself, and I get to play them all.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

When 4 is Better Then 5

As annoying as it was walking into a mating net in a won position, last Thursday was not a total disaster. In fact I bounced back from that crushing loss by drawing in the third round. It seemed no matter what I did in the third round I'd get the bye in the last round if the number of players remained odd. As it turned out somebody dropped out making it even so I got to play the fourth round. Once again I played one of the usual suspects, Scot Mc Elheny. He's another one of those players that I seem play almost every week. Though for a change, I actually had white against him. Most of the time I seem to get black, he plays really annoying stuff against my Sicilian, and I get a sucky position and lose.

I won two pawns earlier, but then we got down to this crazy rook and pawn ending. He just played 39...c4 Here's where it gets interesting. I see that he's getting a passed pawn, and it looks like it's going to cost me a rook to stop. The game continues, 40.dxc4 dxc4 41.Rxg6+ Kc5 (At first I thought it was a mistake to allow me the check on g5 picking up the h pawn, but if he goes to the 7th I still go Rg5, hitting the h pawn and threatening Rc5.) 42.Rg5+ Kb4 43.Rxh5 c3 44.Rh8 c2 45.Rb8+ Ka5 46.Rc8 c1/Q+ 47.Rxc1 Rxc1 (Now comes the fun!) 48.h4 Kb6 49.h5 Kc5 50.g4 Kd5 51.Kf4 Ke6 52.e4 Rg1 53.g5 Rh1 54.h6 Kf7 55.Kf5 Rh3 56.f4 Rf3 57.g6+ Kf8 58.e5 Rh3 59.Kg5 Rg3 60.Kf6 Kg8 61.e6 Re3 62.f5 Kh8 63.Kf7 Rg3 64.e7 Rxg6!? (The Hail Mary rook sac, hoping for fxg6. I play too many kids going for stalemate to fall for that) 65.Kxg6 Black resigns.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


I was really pleased with this game, but what's wrong with the final position? Neither my opponent or I noticed the check. I didn't discover it until I looked at the game in ChessBase. It's still an easy win for me, but kind of embarressing for the TD to win like this. Yes the Mon Roi allows illegal moves.