Category Archives: Videos

The Automaton

A precursor of the chess computer was the chess automaton. The best known of these was The Turk, a fake chess playing machine that had a human chess master hiding inside. This device had quite a colorful history, defeating Napoleon Bonaparte and Benjamin Franklin during it’s active playing period of 84 years.

These days there’s no need for fakes, which seems sad in a way. No deception, no employment for diminutive chess masters and no awed spectators. Just a highly sophisticated machine wiping the floor with its human opponents.

On the subject of sadness and chess automatons I came across some music entitled Laments of a Chess Automaton. Actually I rather like it:

Nigel Davies

Castling On Opposite Sides

Positions in which the kings are castled on opposite sides often feature a violent race of attacks. Alexander Kotov wrote a chapter on this subject in the book he wrote together with Paul Keres, The Art of the Middle Game. He described how he used to practice playing such positions as a boy and later formulated a series of rules. One of them was that success in such attacks usually goes to the player who manages to force his opponent on the defensive.

Here’s a nice example of opposite side castling from the Baku Olympiad. Mato Jelic provides some great commentary and his other Youtube videos are worth checking out:

Nigel Davies

A Look at the Queen of Katwe

The members of the Denver Chess Club, all veterans of the movie focus group wars since “Pawn Sacrifice”,  have been invited to a preview of “Queen of Katwe”, a Disney biopic s the life of Phiona Mutesi, a Ugandan chess prodigy from Katwe who becomes a Woman Candidate Master after her performances at World Chess Olympiads.

Chess seems to be getting better and better educational press as mainstream pedagogues tout its virtues with regard to the formation and maturation of intellectual outlook. It’s scene almost as a panacea for the young who are somewhat detached from the learning process

I teach chess to elementary school students in the public school afterschool enrichment programs. I’d have to agree with the experts here, especially in light of recent experiences where four autistic youth were enrolled in my class by their advisers. Noted for disrupting their mainstream classes, the four immediately took to chess and are perhaps the most focused of the students in my class.

I look forward to seeing the film and reporting back here.

Jacques Delaguerre

Process Goals Vs Outcome Goals

Setting goals is a vital part of the improvement process but what should they by? The key is to set process goals rather than outcome goals, which is nicely explained here:

What are some good process goals for chess? Reading particular books, learning particular openings and solving a certain number of tactical puzzles every day certain qualify. On the other hand goals such as winning a particular tournament or championship do not as their aim depends on things such as competition.

Nigel Davies

Winning Equal Positions

In these days of very serious opening analysis and theory going well into the middle game in many lines, people often forget the importance of core skills or don’t have time to practice them. Tactical vision is of course absolutely essential, as most people realize. But endgame skill is often underestimated or even overlooked altogether. Who needs openings if they can win equal positions against the World’s top players.

Here’s Magnus Carlsen providing an object lesson in this art, winning a more or less equal endgame position against Teimour Radjabov. The commentator is the ever lucid and calm Jan Gustafsson:

Nigel Davies

Sinquefield Cup

My son and I have been watching the Chess24 video commentary on the Sinquefield Cup and very entertaining it has been too. I don’t follow top level chess too closely but this may now change.

Something that has interested me has been the recent relative fortunes of Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Anish Giri. They are both extraordinary talents yet Vachier-Lagrave seems to be breaking through to a higher level whilst Giri has been struggling.

There could be many reasons why this is so but I wonder if it’s because the Frenchman has a clear chess identity, a dynamic player with similarities to Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov. With Giri on the other hand I don’t really see that, certainly he’s a brilliant tactician but the cautious way he lays out his game gives little opportunity for this to shine through. Of course he has plenty of time to develop and suspect that everyone will struggle with him when this happens.

Here meanwhile is a video of round one:

Nigel Davies

Learning From The British Championship

There’s still a game to go in this year’s British Championship but it’s been a fascinating event. Most of all the presence of Michael Adams, a top class GM who has successfully competed against the best players in the World, has provided many great lessons. It’s interested to watch the games as they unfold because you can then try and guess the move and get a sense of the important decisions by the amount of time taken.

The following game was a vital one as Adams was pitted against the number two seed, David Howell. Adams won a tough game shown here with commentary by International Master Andrew Martin:

Nigel Davies