Chess Games and Chess Resources for Linux

I listed below the chess programs and resources I have on my Computer running under Linux. Some of these listed below are also cross platform.

3D Chess – glChess and this manual page were written by Robert Ancell bob27@users.sourceforge.net. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU General Public License, Version 2 any later version published by the Free Software Foundation.

On Debian systems, the complete text of the GNU General Public License can be found in /usr/share/common-licenses/GPL.

http://linux.die.net/man/6/glchess

Gnome Chess – GNOME Chess is a 2D chess game, where games can be played between a combination of human and computer players. GNOME Chess detects known third party chess engines for computer players.

https://wiki.gnome.org/Apps/Chess

Brutal Chess – Brutal Chess features full 3D graphics, an advanced particle engine, and several different levels of intelligent AI, inspired by the once popular “Battle Chess” released by Interplay circa 1988.

https://sourceforge.net/projects/brutalchess/

Chessx – A free and open source chess database application for Linux, Mac OS X and Windows.

https://sourceforge.net/projects/chessx/

Chinese Chess – GMChess is an open source Chinese Chess based on XiangQi Wizard. (link is external) Chinese chess (Xiangqi) is one of the most popular chess games to have originated in China.

https://lgdb.org/game/gmchess

One of many configurable from beginner to winner Chess games for Linux

Dream Chess – DreamChess is an open source chess game. Our primary target platforms are Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. DreamChess features 3D OpenGL graphics and provides various chess board sets, ranging from classic wooden to flat figurines.

A moderately strong chess engine is included: Dreamer. However, should this engine be too weak for you, then you can use any other XBoard-compatible chess engine, including the popular Crafty and GNU Chess.

Other features include music, sound effects, on-screen move lists using SAN notation, undo functionality, and savegames in PGN format.

The DreamChess team currently consists of only a handful of people. We could use help in many areas, such as programming, graphics, sound and testing. If you’re interested in helping out, please send an email to feedback at dreamchess.org.

http://dreamchess.org/

EBoard – EBoard is a user-friendly chess interface for ICS (Internet Chess Servers). While it will focus on FICS (www.freechess.org ), should work with any other ICS. It supports playing against local chess engines too.

https://sourceforge.net/projects/eboard/

Knights – Knights aims to be the ultimate chess resource on your computer. Written for the K Desktop Environment, it’s designed to be both friendly to new chess players and functional for Grand Masters. Here’s a quick list of Knights’ key features:

Play against yourself, against computer opponents, or against others over the Internet.

Customize your board and pieces with over 30 different themes, or create your own!
Audio cues help alert you to important events.
Novice players can preview potential moves.
Save your unfinished matches and play them again later.

http://knights.sourceforge.net/news_archive.php and http://www1.knights-chess.com/?kw=chess+pieces

Pychess –  PyChess is a gtk chess client, originally developed for GNOME, but running well under all other linux desktops. (Which we know of, at least). PyChess is 100% python code, from the top of the UI to the bottom of the chess engine, and all code is licensed under the GNU Public License.

The goal of PyChess is to provide an advanced chess client for linux following the GNOME Human Interface Guidelines. The client should be usable to those new to chess, who just want to play a short game and get back to their work, as well as those who wants to use the computer to further enhance their play.

Use Any Chess Engine

With PyChess it is easy to play a game against the computer or use the computer to help you find the best move during a game with the Hint Mode feature.

PyChess comes with its own built-in chess engine and will automatically detect and work with most popular chess engines as long as they’re installed on your computer. This includes engines such as GnuChess, Crafty, Sjeng and Fruit, and even Windows engines like Rybka.

In the case PyChess doesn’t automatically detect an engine you’ve installed, you can manually add and configure it engines menu. See the wiki for additional engines.

http://www.pychess.org/about/

Scid – Scid is a chess database application (cross-platform, for Unix/Linux and Windows) with many search and database maintenance features.

https://sourceforge.net/projects/scid/

XBoard – XBoard is a graphical user interface for chess in all its major forms, including international chess, xiangqi (Chinese chess), shogi (Japanese chess) and Makruk, in addition to many minor variants such as Losers Chess, Crazyhouse, Chess960 and Capablanca Chess. It displays a chessboard on the screen, accepts moves made with the mouse, and loads and saves games in Portable Game Notation (PGN). It serves as a front-end for many different chess services, including:

Chess engines that will run on your machine and play a game against you or help you analyze, such as GNU Chess, Crafty, or many others.

Chess servers on the Internet, where you can connect to play chess with people from all over the world, watch other users play, or just hang out and chat.

Correspondence chess played by electronic mail. The CMail program automates the tasks of parsing email from your opponent, playing his moves out on your board, and mailing your reply move after you’ve chosen it.

XBoard runs on Unix and Unix-like systems that use the X Window System.

https://www.gnu.org/software/xboard/

XShogi – GNU Shogi is a computer program that plays the game of Shogi, also known as Japanese Chess.

https://www.gnu.org/software/gnushogi/

Chess Non Thinking Endgame

These type of games are known to turn around and bite me. When I get bit, I am they bit hard. Here is the normal game flow. I start out making good opening moves, and am able (or so it seems) to enforce my will on my opponent.

I start out cautiously. Playing my opening with respect to what my enemy is doing. Making small adjustments as I can to better my position. Finally, I complete my opening (more or less). Looking over the battlefield there is a pawn or two and perhaps a minor piece I can capture.

I pick up one or maybe two of the pieces and then it starts. Suddenly,  I sense victory in the making as the middle game has barely begun. I am ready to rumble. Bring it on!

Bloodlust sets in! I am enamored with hacking and slashing, moving around the board, showing off my vastly superior chess skills. I am laying the battlefield to waste. I am holding back on the end game, wanting to  really crush the enemy King, savoring the slaughter.

In the moment, I also forget that there are two players on the board. Both wanting the same end point for their game. I am overly consumed with my brilliant play of power and control. I am undisputed in this game. The enmy is probably wondering where they went wrong?

Then I hear, a loud boom, followed with a bang and a crash. How in the world did that just happen? I didn’t see that Bishop/Knight hovering over on my side of the board! Sitting there in the shadows waiting for the moment to strike! That dirty dog, just waiting for this moment to stab my queen in the heart! Hauling her away by one heel!  Nothing is more devastating than to be brought back to mortality by losing my Queen because I am consumed with blood and killing, owning the game.

Well it’s not the end of the world even though reality sets in, and I am really hurting in the moment. Sometime I can eek out a draw. All to often however, losing my Queen balances the game out, and my weaker tactics and game skills shine through.

As you look at the picture, you will see in the heat of battle, I fall prey to something even more silly. As I finish my opening, I have my King all safe and snug, well protected. To quench my base thirst, I start pulling pieces away to rampage across the other end of the board.

An obvious weak point in both players games

An obvious weak point in both players games

Now, I see mate in three or four moves, if I move quickly and decisively. Here I go, sending my warriors en masse for the final victory. I am a move away from being the supreme commander on the battlefield. Then it happens. In my glory, I had spotted a checkmate in three or four moves.

That underhanded enemy battlefield commander on the other side of the board spotted a come from behind, crushing defeat of his arch rival in one move less! With aplomb a Rook is sent down to the first rank. What?! How in the world did that happen? I own this game, I am crushing the board. How could you do that to me?!

Too late for reflection, as my King is hauled away to be quartered. I know exactly what happened. Instead of looking for potential captures, checks, and checkmates against me, my head is on the other side of the board. Patting myself on the back for creating such devastation. Installing fear, and slipping around in the blood of victory.

At some undetermined point in the game, I go from carefully thinking out and making my intended moves, to playing without any link from brain to finger tip. Everything is going from sight to finger. Such a silly trap to fall into. So easy to avoid. I am not beaten in these games. I give them away.

Chess and Early Bishop Check

It is surorising in Chess the things that will be discovered. For example, moving the Bishop down to check the King during the opening. It seems like a powerful move. The bishop is out there, and the enemy King is checked within the first ten or so moves. Who is the best player now?

What is not so obvious until it becomes obvious is the downside of doing this. At the very least your Bishop gets threatened by a pawn and has to move back somewhere. Moving back to a good square for the Bishop is best. However you suddenly realise the enemy is now ahead of you in development.

Move your Bishop to the side and within a few moves you may end up losing your Bishop to an aggressive pawn or spiteful knight. Now you realize you wasted two or three moves from your own development only to lose your Bishop. Suddenly your game does not look so good and you work on a fix.

Seems like a good move, until you learn it is not.

Seems like a good move, until you learn it is not.

Growing beyond being cocky with my Bishop I now find one of my Knights being picked off and I can not retaliate because my Knight was hanging. That’s what happens from fixing my Bishop dilemma. Fix one weakness and almost immediately find another weakness to replace it with.

This reminds me of watching children who are just learning to play chess. They know the end goal is to attack the enemy King. The get a piece free from the back rank and charge down the board attacking the King. And they lose their piece.

Undaunted, they move out another piece from the back rank and repeat the process. Or worse for them, their enemy has sent a lone assassin down the board attacking their King. Now they have to figure out how to stop the piece from mating the King.

Some games, I feel like one of these children. For every puzzle or problem solved another rears its ugly head. Of course I do not know it exists until it happens in the moment. Sometime it is too strong a mistake to overcome in the moment.

I put up a good fight, but I am not usually strong enough to make up for the mistake I have discovered. Those few times the enemy across the board makes a move equally poor, and I am able to take advantage of it, we are whisked into the end game.

Of course my end game is not that strong either. It is hard to become experienced with the end game when I am pummeled in the middle game and never really see an end game. I understand now why serious players study the end game so much. Eventually the end game arrives for all of us.

I imagine chess players like more puzzles than just chess. Or perhaps, chess players are satisfied mainly with chess and play other puzzle games as a small diversion. No matter how strong you become there is always another problem to be solved. To make it even more interesting the stronger one becomes, the more complex the newly discovered problem becomes.

It is an easy matter to not send out your Bishop to make a silly check on the enemy King. When a player is much stronger, and an unknown in the moment problem arises, a player may have to rethink their whole game. Their tried and tested old standby approach has suddenly revealed some serious flaws. Someone has unceremoniously torn their game apart as they watch. Until the problem is no longer solvable within ones time and ability.

If this time ever happens for me, I hope people still enjoy Chess for what it provides.

Kid Learns Chess

I may have written about this before. If so maybe I did it better this time. The Kid was seven years old and and loved the Ninja Turtles. This was when the Ninja Turtles first made an appearance, as in cartoons. The Kid would watch one show after another, even though I found them pretty boring, he didn’t.

I did not see a lot of sense to the battles, and all the moves, but as mentioned he found them fascinating. It was Memorial Day if memory serves, the family was together and the chess board came out. There were a number of us who thought we were hot stuff on the chessboard.

Of those two or three of us were sure we were the best player in the family. The Kid played a few games and lost. It is pretty hard to win when you do not even know the pieces and how they move. But for a seven year old it wasn’t a bad attempt.

The Kid’s Grandma made sure he had a chess board at home to play with. No one thought any more about it. Chess for some reason is pretty boring to most people. I thought for him even though chess was fighting, it would not compete with the Ninja Turtles.

When the Christmas holidays rolled around and we were all together, the chess board was dusted off, and we started playing. The adults who thought they were the better players were going to show off their superior skills this time, we were serious now.

After the adults who wanted to played each other, the children were allowed to play the last winning adult. When it was The Kid’s turn, one of the adults fell under his overwhelming army. We all thought it was a funny mistake.

One after another the adults were losing. Some quickly, and some more slowly, but the outcome was the same. As I watched, The Kid seemed to get stuck in a position. I would have been stuck too, it seemed he was only making random moves with no sense of end point or continuity that shows there is a plan.

It was during these times I heard him whisper to himself, “What would the Ninja Turtles do?”

How funny I thought, Ninja Turtles were just a cartoon and their fighting had no basis in the real world. The Turtles would fight, win yet another victory. WHile I was daydreaming another adult was sent away to eat a big slice of humble pie.

Family being Family, we played again over New Years. There was a minor shift in who was the chess champion for another few months, though that was not all that happened. There was a champion who remained near the helm of the family chess hierarchy. All seven years of him.

This is where it happened. Everyone took turns watching one of the others get beat, waiting their turn. Everyone saw what looked like major blunders being committed by The Kid. Many of the watchers could not contain themselves, and had to comment on what they saw as poor moves.

Three or four times a game one comment or another would be set loose from someone watching the game in progress. I felt like the only rational one making comments. Mine was always the same. He beat you, you should not be giving him advice on how to play. No one listened of course.

Don't Teach those who beat you how to play chess

Don’t Teach those who beat you how to play chess

Easter arrived, and the family was together again. The chess board came out and the family started playing. It was different this time. The almost eight year old who mopped up the floor with us, was losing slowly every game. He lost to all but the worst of us.

I never heard him ask himself, “What would the Ninja Turtles do?”. Instead I watched him making family approved moves – that really did nothing to improve his position or worsen his opponents. He was now playing as poorly as we were.

I keep waiting to see the flashes of skill I saw him once have. I think he lost whatever spark chess had lit in him trying to play correctly. He is still a good player among the family, but no longer has the Ninja Turtles to guide his play and spark his creativity.

Recently I started to understand what The Kid had learned form the Ninja Turtles all those years ago. While I was watching the sword play, and listening to the shouting he was doing that and more. He was learning strategy while observing tactics.

Even though Ninja Turtles was a cartoon created for kids, it was made by adults. Adults who in their secret lives, were some sort of undercover Super Hero waiting to be released. Their Super Hero self was released under the guise of one or more of the Ninja Turtles.

I do not remember any of the Ninja Turtle battles I watched as I paid little attention back then. I now understand the concept and how it applies to the chess board. Attack until resistance is strong, then pull back an attack on another front. Repeat until you either win, crushing your opponent with overwhelming force, or your King is gallantly struggling to survive one more move on the march to fifty moves.

Strategy and Tactics may not be the be all, end all of chess mastery. But for us mere mortals, Strategy and Tactics are usually the game changer deciding who wins and who does not.

Improve Your Chess Play

Not a lot of meat to this post. I was playing chess engines on the net the other day, and this happened. I beat Stockfish which was set at default level 1, 1350 elo. I am leaning my chess is improving despite my lack of any interest of serious study through books, etc. I want chess to be fun. I have enough other serious parts of my life.

It was a rather silly game. I was fully expecting to get trashed as usual, when I noticed Stockfish made a rather poor tactical play and left its Queen unguarded in the middle of the board.

I pretended to start an attack down the left (A,1) side of the chess board, and took the Queen with a Knight, which I lost, but who cares? In that moment when I noticed the Queen was left unprotected for more than one move, I thought to myself, ‘I have a chance to win this game. It’s not playing as hard as I thought.’

If you have been following my chess exploits, or lack thereof, you know my goal was to break 1000 elo. I was about 850 elo at the time, so it seemed a daunting task. I am happy with what I have achieved. Especially as I only have limited time to play, and less time to study.

One thing I have learned however, is to quit thinking about whether any one move is the ‘right move’. I have been instead trying to find the move that seems to be the strongest and does something. Something may be development, protect another pawn or piece, or poses a new potential threat to the enemy.

Don’t you be afraid to make non standard moves. As long as they are not weak moves, they may prove to turn the tide in a game you are in. If the move does not work, hopefully you understand why your move did not work as planned. Modify your move, and try it again.

If you are starting out in chess, and are sitting at 800 or 900 elo, don’t get frustrated and give up. You only know what you know, and you can only play within your scope of knowledge. While I am far from being able to say I play chess well, I certainly play better than when I started to learn how to play properly. You too will play better chess in time.

Of course this is another far from pretty checkmate, but I’ll take it.

Never thought I would see this result!

Never thought I would see this result!

Beating Gnome Chess?

Since my previous post about my chess ability or lack thereof, I have not until now felt the need to post anything on chess. I had decided that I did not have the time or inclination to achieve anything higher than beginning chess.

Since that time I have been playing for fun and only chess against whatever program is on whatever electronics I have near. Nothing serious, just casual play. I started to take Hold’em much more serious as Hold’em is where the money is. I feel that I am short of time to devote to playing chess well. Well enough to actually earn any money from chess. To be truthful, Hold’em is a lot easier – for me at least.

In hopes of becoming better at Hold’em, I have a few five minute games I play daily to help my visual awareness become stronger. Or at least that is the plan. They are both tile games. One game is Mahjong and the second is a game is named Shisen-Sho, both played with tiles. Mahjong has always been the easier of the two games for me. I have had to work at Shisen-Sho.

In the last year or so, I have cut my puzzle solve time almost forty percent. I attribute this to improved visual awareness. I find matches more quickly. The hope is, improved visual awareness will transfer to Hold’em as I will have better focus at the table.

If you have watched videos of the master chess games, perhaps you appreciate the beauty of their moves. Watching those high level games is like watching a complex choreographed dance. Moves and counter moves flowing over the board. Opponents lose their King to such pretty combinations of play.

I appreciate the same beauty when I play chess engines though they are not as pretty. Every move I make has a more powerful counter move both thwarting my move and creating a stronger position for the chess engine. It makes getting thrashed by an over powerful chess engine less painful and more fun. I provide the dancing clomp-about that spurs the engines power.

I choose for the most part to limit my chess to casual levels where the machine moves are fairly mindless. When I lose, the next game is only a click away. Until last week that is when I became bored with mindless chess moves and wanted to play a stronger opponent. I downloaded a number of boards and chess engines to play against (I use Linux).

Most beat me easily, I almost feel like a spectator in the match. Last night one game was different. I played against the chess engine Fairy-max. I could not find a definite Elo rating, but the few posts I found seem certain Fairy-max is rated around 1800 – 1900.

I beat Fairy-max! It was not pretty. There were no ballet moves and pretty combinations. There was me playing as a barbarian, hacking and slashing whenever there was opportunity, all the while waiting for the ax to fall and the game to be over.

I managed a checkmate before I made a bumbling move or two and lost the game through poor play and decision making. I was really proud of myself. My game was not pretty, and I am sure to someone who really plays chess, my mate is quite ugly. But a win is a win and I will take it.

Then came the sad news. I played Fairy-max through Gnome Chess, which previously has been unbeatable for most people. After my win, I knew something was not right as the game was sloppy on the computers part.

Ugly Checkmate

One ugly checkmate, but I’ll take it

After looking around, I found Gnome Chess now has preferences. There are now three levels of play strength. Gnome Chess defaults to the lowest level. So much for my vastly improved ability….

I am not able to determine what level play the levels really are. I am able to beat Fairy-max in the normal setting, which is the middle level. I have not tried the top difficulty level yet.

I doubt you will ever read a post by me on Chess.com extolling the beauty and strength of a game I played, or seeing a checkmate twelve moves out. I enjoy leaving these things to others. I am grateful for what I have achieved in the moment and that is enough for right now.

I almost forgot to mention, my Hold’em game has improved too!

Learn or Improve Your Chess Using This Great Program

If you use Windows and play chess, you may be aware of a program named LucasChess. If you use Linux and play chess, you are in for a pleasant surprise with LucasChess as it will run in Linux using Wine!

LucasChess is a very nice chess program for those of us that are not out to conquer the chess world. It has an amazing number of engines geared from beginner level, to as high as you want to go. The beginning levels are mostly geared towards children as the program opponents are different animals.

For those of use who have no chess pride, the beginning levels are a perfect companion to learn our way around the chess board and practice moving the pieces. For those a little more comfortable with chess, there are options to play against any of the remaining chess engines.

The first level at least has a second chess engine that acts like a tutor or chess coach. The chess tutor is unique to me at least in three ways. When you make a move, the chess tutor evaluates your move. If your move is not optimal, a screen comes up showing you the best move, your move, and the move the opponent thought you may make.

There is still some fog, for myself at least as to why some moves are so good, but a few of the recommended moves make sense as I compare my move to a more optimal move. This function alone make LucasChess one very good chess program for most casual players.

Using LucasChess with Windows or Linux, it is best, imo,to download and use the portable version and not the install version. The portable version can be ran from a usb stick, maybe cd rom, or the hard drive. When a new version of LucasChess is released, it is a small matter to download and overwrite the old version.

One catch with LucasChess with Linux is you need to install Wine. Wine if you are not familiar with it, is sort of Windows emulator. Many programs that run in Windows may be able to run in wine.

Installing Wine is a simple enough matter. Wine should be in most repositories. I am not familiar with wine other than it exists, and I am able to run both Wine and LucasChess.

I made a directory in my home directory (myhome) named LucasChess. Inside the directory LucasChess I extracted the downloaded files to.

There may be an easier way to run Wine, as I am a Wine neophyte, but I start Wine and LucasChess from the terminal with the command:

wine /home/myhome/LucasChess/Lucas.exe

If you are not familiar with the command line, I am telling the computer to run Wine and LucasChess from the home/myhome/LucasChess/ directory with the command Lucas.exe in the directory LucasChess.

If you use Windows or Linux, and want to use one of the best chess programs out there for casual player, give LucasChess a try. Lucas Chess hangs and crashes occasionally for me using Linux and Wine, but it is a simple matter to start the program again.

As I am not on the road to Master Chess play, so it doesn’t matter if I lose a game partially played or not when LucasChess locks up. What I receive from LucasChess more than makes up for an occasional crash.

Here is the url for LucasChess: http://www-lucaschess.rhcloud.com

Visualizing Chess to Improve Your Game

In the time since I last talked about chess, I have learned a little more, mostly about myself. I think the biggest challenge for me to learn is to teach myself how to visualize. One of the ‘tricks’ of chess masters when they go on the road is to play multiple chess games without looking at the board, either blindfolded or having their backs to the boards.

This makes it obvious to me, pattern recognition by itself can only go so far. Looking at the board and searching for a pattern that worked before is not the same as really seeing. Perhaps this is how famous warriors throughout the ages planned their campaigns.

They could see them play out, and analyses different situations easier and with more clarity. Famous generals and chess masters I believe are far better at visualizing than the rest of us. I stare at the board, and I see chess pieces. I move them around in my mind in a certain pattern looking for what has worked for me in the past.

When that pattern in the void of my head is interrupted or otherwise disturbed, I am like a lost little child not knowing which way to turn. It is in this moment that being able to visualize the game in my head would be so beneficial.

Plodding through a single turn, thinking about the consequences of moving this piece or that pawn, how it effects the next move or two, and not seeing the game as a whole is a bog handicap. Being able to visualize, see the game as an animated movie must be far superior. Possibilities and paths for different moves and lines that are played out on the screen that passes for thought.

How slick would that be! Being able to holistically watch the effects of different moves, watching sequences, spotting the flaws. Reforming the chess army, playing out athe whole campaign. Having strong visualization skills, especially in chess has to be a major game changer.

Visualization, and the willingness to really think instead of play remembered patterns work sometime, but fail me at other times. When I talk with players that are stronger than me, they too have their glass ceilings. Mostly they talk about not having enough time to give to the game. How their life gets in the way.

Maybe they too are too concrete too in their thinking, and have not imagined the next plateau. Being able to visualize enough to make a difference. How much our game could improve using the ability to play out a chess puzzle in our head away from the game,  waiting for something, or just relaxing for a few minutes.

This is a skill I think is important to improving at chess, and perhaps other areas of life as well. It is a skill I think I want to cultivate. I too lack the time and inclination to learn fifty different openings and their counter play. I can’t give hours a day to chess puzzles, and other forms of chess learning in order to improve.

What I think I can do is learn to better use those resources I do have, mainly those resources between my ears. Maybe I learn to play a little better and have more fun in the process.

Chess Barely Past 1000

I have made it past 1000! Only 1,600 more points to climb before I say I know how to play chess. Just kidding, if I get to 1500 to 1600 I will be thrilled. I now know, there is no magic bullet. It takes time and energy to learn anything, especially chess.

Chess feels to me like a series of interwoven steps. I climb one, and step back two steps to correctly integrate what I think I now know. Some days I feel like a six year old would beat me. Then slowly, my newest learning starts to meld with the little I know. Then, for a few moments, I gloat over my new found skill. Then reality happens, again.

My biggest weakness right now is choosing to move too fast. I can’t seem to stay off the gas peddle of moves. I see a nice move, and I do not see (take time to look for) anything better, so I move. Then I watch one of my pieces I didn’t notice eaten, because I moved too fast. When I slow down, protect my pieces and  not leave them hanging, my chess ability will improve.

As I watch the Masters playing their game via a .pgn file, their play looks so thoughtless and effortless. I am learning, every move made in the late opening is meant to support a later move. I used to think they were wasted moves. For my part, I am busy getting my pieces out so I can castle. For no real reason, I forget what I am supposed to be doing, and poof, another piece bites the dust.

A second learning from the master level games is moves that made no sense to me and looked like errors, are starting to make sense. White moves their pawn to block a two move knight problem before it can be made. Black moves a bishop to tie up a rook, planning to over extend the rook in another move or two, while they plan trap the queen.

They had a plan, and a backup plan. My first plan is to get my pieces active. While doing this, I watch my pieces disappear from the board because I am not thinking and I am moving too fast. That is my current best chess ability.

I am a master at allowing my pieces to be taken. I am starting to appreciate the focus and thinking needed to pay chess well. I need a forced pause between mouse clicks. Counting does not work. I can not count and think at the same time. Perhaps having a clock close by would help, so I know when an acceptable amount of time has passed. Or in my case, an acceptable amount of looking and thinking has not yet passed.

When last spring rolled around, my frustration with chess was high. It was easy to set chess down and pretend chess is something for people with a lot more free time than I have. That is what I did. I told myself, it was not worth the effort. There were better things to do with my time.

This fall however, I started spending more of my spare time with chess. I am finding chess is a lot more fun, as long as I am willing to do some thinking as I play. My frustration level has dropped because the more I think, the more I see good changes in my chess, and in my life.

If you work in a group, I strongly suggest you take up learning chess (again if you stopped). The need to focus and analyze in chess will help you in your work and with the problem of office politics.

It is a good feeling to create a situation where a potential problem is either solved or deflected before can cause you harm. Chess also helps one focus on actually doing work. I’m my case at least, it helps me see ways to be more valuable by using the tools I have to work with in new ways.

Chess and Aggression?

I read an interesting blog post from another chess player today who wants to pass a 1400 rating. Is was a short to the point post. The blogger questions their aggressiveness on the chess board to reach 1400.

The basis for this question is the blogger finds it easy to win games against players at or below their current level, but finds very difficult to play people at a high enough level above theirs to actually change their own rating.

This question is a good question and worth pondering, I am not sure the question is a correct one though. However, beauty of course, is in the eye of the beholder. While I think aggression is the wrong tool, it may be a case of semantics, or I may be confused about chess and aggression.

In poker, where I am more comfortable talking about aggression, aggression is a major part of winning. If a player is not aggressive, their win rate drops. In chess, because there is nothing at stake except perhaps how we see ourselves in relation to chess, I do not see aggression being a major factor in chess. The other person will usually only resign from the game when it appears they won’t win, not when the other player is playing aggressively.

If aggression where a major part of becoming a highly rated chess player, there would be no need to learn the other areas of chess. The biggest requirement would be get your pieces down the board and destroy the enemy by decimating his army. Winning chess it seems, takes a lot more than ram and jam with your army.

Many Master Level Chess Players both past and present are positional players first and attacking players second. Positional players are generally players who are more focused on the deployment of their chess army than they are on initially creating an attacking position.

I do not think aggression can be a real factor in improving ones chess rating. Most better players agree that tactics rule the chess world for the lower ratings. The more tactical problems and the higher level of difficulty of those  tactical problems one can solve and put into action, generally determines who will be the winner of a chess game.

Setting aggression aside for a moment, there are other reasons why people play chess. Not everyone plays chess to become a master chess player. If we only played chess to become master level players, there would be few active chess players in the world, and a large number of ex chess players.

Determining why you play chess is important. We can all say we want to be a 2xxx level player, but what does that really mean? For myself, I want to be a worth while opponent to whoever is on the other side of the board. I want to enjoy chess while I play. I may want to comment on my own, or my opponents play as the game progresses. I do want to win my share of games.

These are reasons why most of the chess playing world plays Chess. Fun, challenge, victory, feeling chess is a worthwhile game to play. Paintball, Poker, and most sports have varying degrees of aggression built into them if they are seriously played.

I am not so sure about chess being aggressive. We all want to win against tough players, but we also have a family, a life, and other obligations. Most of us have a limited amount of time to give to Chess. Sadly, or perhaps fortunately, most of us lack the raw talent to be truly great on the chess board.