Sunday, December 30, 2012

Lessons Learned --- Again!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Cool Tool

You need to have a closer look at this gadget:

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Sloppy Win -- But Fun!

Trying to play active chess is not my cup of tea but here is a little gem:

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Under the Radar Chess Book: "Russian Chess"

After reading just a chapter from this book, I just had to write something about the book. Yes, it is just six games  in the whole book but judgeing from the first game, the book is a keeper.

What makes it special? It is another "every-move-annotated-book" but I think is stands head and shoulders above both "Logical Chess" and "Chess: The Art of Logical Thinking" (both are fine books!).

Pandolfini tries to annotate the games both on a, if you like, micro- and macro-level perspective. Me, being a simpleton, was lured into a more active type of reading by the questions ("Will Nbd7 work?") in the text. I think it was less "Learning by nodding" while reading this book. Also, Mr Pandolfini  has a few interesting quotes here and there in the text which adds a little enjoyment to the reading experience and perhaps some additional views on what is going on in the game under discussion.

The macro level annotations is perhaps less instructive but that is perhaps due to the fact that no single game is a pure application of a single strategic approach, say "Colour Play". It is of cours much more concrete to analyze if a single move (i.e. micro level) is safe or not.

The book is a few years old (1987) and I am rather surprised that the book hasn't received more attention.

All-in-all, One enthusiastic rant over an under the radar chess book

Monday, July 23, 2012

Heroes of the Old Indian

A53: David Bronstein 22 games
A54: David Bronstein 23 games
A55: Bent Larsen 11 games


Try this link to get the games as pdf or this link to get a copy of the pgn-file.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Silver Tape Chess Opening

The Holy Grial for DIY Chess Improvers must be the search to find the Silver Tape Chess Opening. The Opening that will get you into a game of chess with very little effort and a neglible risk of getting blown away before the middle game.

After reading a very interesting and inspirering book: "Barouque Chess"  I became a little curious about the Old Indian (ECO: A53-A55) as a candidate for the Silver Tape Chess Opening title.

I asked a question about chess books about the Old Indian and received a most helpful reply:

I'm not really "in the know" about chess books anymore. I the last 3 years I have only purchased one book (and I didn't even use it for long). My book on the Old Indian is by Andy (Andrew) Soltis. It is really old and just a pamplet in descriptive notation. The analysis is probably too outdated now. When I used to play the old indian, it was really hard to get analysis too. I'd say just use a standard all in one opening book like Modern Chess Openings, ECO, or Nunn's Chess Openings. These will give you all you need to know to play the old indian. Basically, you are just setting up Nf6,d6,Nbd7,e5,Be7,0-0,c6,Qc7 a lot of the time, so you don't need a whole lot of analysis. That's the great thing about the Old Indian. You can play it without learning much book. The downside is that a strong positional player will keep you passive for a very long time. (The Old Indian is almost identical to the King's Indian, except the bishop is more actiively placed on g7 than e7.) Still, it takes a certain level of player to really put the squeeze on you, and even then it's not a winning advantage for white. Try it! If you like the positions, by all means play it. It's a nice solid way to play and doesn't require a whole lot of preparation. Again, bookwise, your best bet is one of those big multi-hundred page reference manuals that covers all the openings in one book. Cheers! "

Have a look at this Capablanca game for inspiration: Juan Corzo vs Jose Raul Capablanca, 1913

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Move First, Think Later

Willy Hendrik's book "Move First, Think Later" arrived in my mailbox a few days ago. I have not been able to read much out of it but the first impression is that the book has been worth waiting for. You can read a few sample pages at the New in Chess Web site.

The first few pages is loaded with controversial stuff and it makes a lot of sense. After reading just a few ages, I dare to suggest that those few pages alone makes the book worth buying. Hey, Reading 20+ pages is probably well above the average of pages read from any chess book bought. Don't stare at me, Opening Monographs!

This book will problaly be an inspiration for many posts to come.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Tools at The Looner's Chess Club

We at The Looner's Chess Club are getting more and more inte low tech email chess and less into turn-based chess at fancy sites.

However, one iPhone app has caught our interest: Social Chess

Everything is very neat and well designed. The only minor thing to complain about would be the somewhat smallish player pool. It can take a little time to get a game started but once it is up and running all is fine.

All games are rated and you can email yourself the pgn-file after  the game is over.

Another nice and somewhat under the radar chess site is Chessity. Chessity is basically another Tactics site but there are a few things that is somewhat interesting. The site offer a nice 20-minute drill where you are supposed to solve nine problems within 20 minutes. There missed problems and you are out. Another similar training activity is to "race" to nine correct solutions against other chess imnporvers (the same three strikes and you're out applies).

We have observed a little odd behaviour from Chessmaster lately. My Arch rival "Seb" has a rating that varies from time to time and without any obvious correlation to the results in the most recent games. Why is that?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Loner's Chess Club

Chessmaster was one of the first chess products I bought and with hindsight the only chess product I really need. The Guru Mansion is filled with chess books/DVDs/Magazine et al. Most of them waiting for some love and devotion.

What makes Chessmaster unique? I think Chessmaster is among the best products when it comes to mimicing bad chess. It is not perfect but good enough if you consider that the Chessmaster Personalities are always ready for a slow came and they do not mind if you have to exit your Chess Cave using Ctrl-P and deal with your real life.

Going to a Chess Club does, in theory, sound like a nice thing but all the practicalities makes it borderline impossible.

Activities at the Loner's Chess Club

The morning work-out is always (almost daily) tactics problems. The site used depends on the amount of time available. I solve problems until I have missed the solution of three problems. That little gimmic makes the problem solving a little bit more fun and focused.

On a weekly basis, I try to get my four game matches with Chessmaster Personalities going.

The Reading group at the Loner's Chess Club is on hold as the key memeber is spending his limited chess minutes on matches against silicon opponents.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Stoyko Exchange

The Stoyko exercise (see the description at Dan Heisman's site) does sound like a good exercise but I have almost never found the time and inspiration to get started. I think I have done it at most three times and I am probably doing it wrong since I do not get the impression that I have gained 100+ points by doing the exercise.

The obvious obstacles is finding suitable positions and to find the "true evaluations" of the lines. Using an engine will give you evaluations in centipawns but that is not too enlightening.

Any suggestions on how to find suitable positions? Does it really matter which position you use? Is there any die hard Stoyko believers out there in the "bloggsphere" who would like to sharesome positions and maybe even some evaluations?

I would love to hear about your experiences using the exercise!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Amici sumus

"Amici sumus" is the motto of the International Correspondence Chess Federation which will host my debute playing for Sweden. I am very excited by this event even though it has to be said that the Team game is open for all members of the Swedish federation for correspondece chess (SSKK). I do like the rythm of "corr chess" but at the same time the influence of Mr Fritz is a cooler.

GM Nigel Davies is suggesting that playing corr on sites where all tools are permitted will be benefitial for your development as all your errors will be punished promptly. True enough, but I can have my punishment by playing Mr Fritz on my home PC.

I might be a naive romantic but I am hoping for a few interesting games vs strong non-engine users and hopefully some nice chit chats with players around the world.

SSKK used to offer medals to players who scored enough points in the friendly team games. I will arrange my own celebrations should I ever score a "non-egg" in the SSKK team games.

You can keep an eye on yours truly at the ICCF Webchess server

Here is the fine print:

"Please find below the start list for the new event Sweden - USA board 40. The short name of the event is SWEUS.

The TD is IA Lahdenmäki, Leo.

The following rules apply for this event:
This is a server event.
The start date is 1 May 2012.
There is no end date.
ICCF standard time control 10 moves in 50 days with duplication after 20 days is used.
30 days of leave per year are available to each player.
Linear conditionals can be entered.
Other participants can see the games live after 0 games are finished in the event. Live transmission is delayed by 0 moves.
The public can see the games live after 0 games are finished in the event. Live transmission is delayed by 0 moves.
The team mates and captain can see the games live after 0 games are finished in the event. Live transmission is delayed by 0 moves.
This event is organized by Lahdenmäki, Leo."

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bragging - Black to move and win

Well, My Dear Chess Friend did blunder badly but I think you can imagine my Joy and Happines when I found the move. Yes, I am a sucker for bragging and neat finishes.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Playing for Sweden

My flirt with retro chess in ongoing. Playing correspondence chess without the distracting bells and whistles have been very fun and amazingly social. I have in just a few games exchanged more interesting tidbits of information than what I have exchanged in my previous carreer as a online player. I suppose the crowd who still hang onto basic email chess are the diehards.

However, after loosing two games due to book keeping errors, I am slowly returning to server based corr games.

The Swedish Federation for correspondence chess is offering a very nice magazine to the members for free! I have decided to join the federation basically because I think the magazine looks interesting. But joining the federation also has a few additional benefits. I get to play Chess for Sweden. Yes, the National team is (sort of) asking for my services. Asking the the sense that all members of the federation is allowed to play in team games against federations from other countries. Anyhow, if I go easy on the fine print I just might get a chance to impress people with my caps for Sweden.

Here is my debut win playing at the ICCF server:

Friday, April 6, 2012

Grob Challenge Revisited

Anyone interested in a Grob Challenge? The idea is simple: Reach your chosen weight loss goal or play nothing but the Grob opening (1. g4) for a predefined time period. Die Hards are free to play Grob (or Borg) as black for extra punishment.

My own Goal is to loose X (soon to be defined) kilos before Mid March next year and play Grob for the rest of the year should I fail.

Are you up for the challenge?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Simul at the office

Three members from a local chess club kindly accepted to give a chess lecture at my office and to play some simul games. Below is one of my games. We agreed to a premature draw to have time for a second game. I messed up the protocol from the second game but it was not as interesting but still a fine example of a fine player grinding down a generic patzer.

Note: James Stripes made some interesting comments about this game on his blog Chess Skills

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Test Post Using Chess King

Farbror (1157) - Robot-1350 (1350)

Result: 1-0
Site: Local computer
Date: 2012.03.03
[...] 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.¤f3 d5 4.exd5 £xd5 5.¤c3 £h5 6.d4 ¥b4 7.¥xf4 ¥xc3+ 8.bxc3 ¥g4 9.¥e2 c6 10.£d3 +1.09 10...¤d7 11.O-O-O +0.13 11...¥f5 12.£e3+ +1.34 12...¤e5 13.¤xe5 +11.34 13...£h6 14.¥xh6 +14.59 14...¥h3 15.¥xg7 +21.52 15...¥xg2 16.¥xh8 +19.01 16...¥d5 17.¦hf1 +20.81 17...c5 18.¤xf7+ +29.30 18...¢d7 19.dxc5 +99.92 19...a6 20.¦xd5+ +99.96 20...¢c7 21.£e5+ +99.98 21...¢c8 22.¦d8#White checkmates.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Retro Chess

As a devoted reader of Zen habits I try in my small ways to simplify my life. One attempt is to reduce the noice and distractions from the bell and whistles at the ordinary chess sites. I recently signed up with a charming low tech chess site called: IECC - International E-mail Chess Club

It is a one huge step back towards to ancient postal correspondence games and I like it a lot! It will be some extra work keeping track of time spent and record the results but I find the cost/benefit to be to my favour.

You play the games emailing pgn-files and that is the end of it. No energy draining forum trolls. Just pure chess. Give it a try!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Training My Daughter

My Daughter played a first slow game versius a dumbed down Houdini almost all by herself.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Tactics Muscle

IM David Pruess had some really interesting things to say in the forum:

"or when i give players in the 1000-1800 range advice on improving their tactics, viz: 10-15 min per day of solving simple tactical puzzles. the goal is to increase your store of basic patterns, not to work on your visualization, deep calculation. remember that is your goal. you are not trying to prove that you can solve every problem. if you don't solve a problem within 1 minute, stop. it's probably a new pattern or you would have gotten it by now. (with private students i'll take the time to demonstrate this to them: show them through examples that they can find a 3-4 move problem in 10 seconds if they know the pattern, and that they can fail to find a mate in 2 for 10 minutes if they don't know the pattern). look at the answer, and now go over the answer 3 more times in your head to help the pattern take hold. your brain can probably take on 2-3 new patterns between sleeping, so you should stop once you've been stumped by 2 or 3 problems (usually will take about 10-15 min). there is no point in doing more than that in one day. and any day you miss, you can't make up for. a semi-random estimate on my part is that you need about 2000 of these patterns to become a master. so you need to do this for 2 years or more."

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Magic Pill Again

Some time ago Dan Heisman tweeted: "If I gave a pill to a 1400 player so that he/she memorizes MCO-15, what would their new playing strength be? Most properly guess 1400-1450"

Some member on is doing a simulation in a Magic Pill-esque setting and here is what (s)he reports:

"Information from my test:

Two identical engines playing each other at about 1400 elo, except one is using an opening book, and the other is not. The opening book is Sedat's Perfect v10 book, with the depth limited to no more than 15 full moves.  My guess is that this opening book is a decent approximation for MCO. So far, 700 games have been played. The engine with the book is +28 elo, with a possible error of plus or minus 12 elo at a 95% confidence interval."

The Act of Learning

Star Chess Blogger Greg posted a tweet with a version of the Immortal Chess Question:

"I keep wishing someone would write a book for club players on the process of learning openings." (follow @bumpaguv)

The question is remotely related to the Magic Pill question tweeted by Dan Heisman.Does it really help (in a time efficient way) the chess development of improving players to learn openings?

Well, maybe we need a clearer picture of the meaning of "learning openings".

GM Nigel Davies is hinting at a new approach to learning openings in a recent blog post. I hope to be able to learn a little about the "secret sauce" invented by Nigel. The backbone of the idea appears to be to "Guess-the-Move" instructive games.

Another interesting claim by Dan Heisman is that improving players should stick to basic principles when playing chess. I don't remember the exact numbers but Dan suggested that a 1700-player would be wrong in about 50% of the cases when deciding to go against basic principles.

Factoids: Playing fellow chess improvers will lead to games that is out of book theory in no time.

Improving players should stick to well established guiding principles.

Ergo: The typical chess lover will never be able to learn enough theory and only the sound application of basic opening principles will save our bacon and help us to a playable middlegame.

Is that to ask for too little? I guess the difference in evaluation between different candidate moves which all can be justified by basic opening principles is somewhere on the centipawn scale. The typical side effects of moves driven by the blunder gland is on the "snatch-one-of-my-pieces scale".

Suggested antidote for Openingphobia (version 12.37):

Replay mastergames using the opening of your choice and figure out how the basic opening  principles of your chess hero is justifying all the moves in the opening phase (say until the rooks are connected).

If you decide to familiarize yourself with gambit play, then I assume that you just have to bite the bullet and accept the gambit move for the fun of it!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Endgame Studies

Endgame studies are Beasts! It is totally frustrating to see those constructed positions with just a handful pawns and pieces and forsee that you will never be able to solve it and probably not able to understand most of the solution.

It was a pleasant surprise to almost solve a study that popped up during my morning Tactics Trainer drills at

The problem above appears to be a study and it is both instructive and solvable. Is 2012 the Year of the Endgame?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Support Your Local Chess Store

On my way to the buss stop I come close to one of my favored stores in my home town. The funny thing is that I almost never buy anything from the store or visit the store on a regular basis. They sell needles and fine fabric which I rarely buy but I totally adore the pride, passion and knowledge in the store. I try my very best to contribute in my small ways because I am an honest believer in specialized stores.

The other day I mailed a link to my online chess books catalog to the chess shop in Gothenburg, another of my favorite stores, and asked which books they considered to be missing in my collection.

In reply I got suggestions on how to improve my chess (training) in practical terms and an invitation for a cup of coffee should I find myself in Gothenburg.

Try THAT with Amazon!!