Posted on October 11, 2014 by Wesley Surber

National Chess Day 2014!

Happy National Chess Day! Today is the officially unofficial day in America that pays tribute to our game! Chess clubs around the country are holding tournaments in addition to the FIDE Grand Prix going on in Baku, Azerbaijan and the Millionaire Chess event in Las Vegas. Here at, I recommend that you celebrate National Chess Day by either downloading a copy of Quarterly Review or visiting the downloads page to check out the latest additions.

Add some Chess & USCF bling to your iPhone!

The downloads page now features four new wallpapers for iPhone 5 (iPhone 6 Plus coming soon) and two wallpapers featuring the recently reviewed USCF Analysis chess set from Above all, this is a day to relax and do what we do…PLAY CHESS! In addition, to celebrate the occasion of honoring American chess, here is the famous Game of the Century played by Bobby Fischer when he was 13 years old!

Posted on October 8, 2014 by Wesley Surber

Give the Gift of Chess

The last thing that I try to do on this site is to peddle for donations or money of any kind. Chess is a passion of mine and I do my best to keep away from asking for money or contributions. However, I do have to take a moment and remind everyone that the Combined Federal Campaign is well underway and it is a perfect opportunity to donate to a chess-centric charity and help to spread our game to a new generation of teachers, players, and enthusiasts.

If you are unaware of CFC, I recommend visiting their website to find out how you can make a contribution using the U.S. Government pay system to the charity of your choice. I did some research and there are at least two large chess charities accepting donations through CFC this year:

Chess Charities Registered With CFC

CFC 5-Digit Name Location Website
99676 Chess for Success Portland, OR Link
10212 U.S. Chess Trust Wallkill, NY Link

Most federal employees are familiar with CFC and often get hounded relentlessly with opportunities to give during the campaign season. Chess is an activity that brings hope to those without hope in addition to building confidence and instilling discipline. I hope that you will consider donating to one of the two charities above or finding something that touches your heart this year to contribute to a worthy cause under CFC.

Posted on October 6, 2014 by Wesley Surber

Blitz Analysis – Surber vs. 866

After suffering through some horrific losses, my blitz play has improved significantly over the past few weeks. In fact, I was surprised to see Stockfish offering less and less suggestions for my moves than in recent times. The following game was played yesterday on against a player rated 866. The reason I chose to annotate and post this game is because I made some elementary errors that I believe could benefit lower-rated players such as myself in their own blitz games.

Posted on October 5, 2014 by Wesley Surber

Product Review – USCF Analysis Chess Set

I believe that you can never own too many chess sets. There is no way that I am able to play all of them at the same time, but the multitude of opportunities to play chess in life almost facilitates the need for a person with a passion for our game to own multiple sets. In my case, I am a huge fan of small-to-mid range sized sets. My Chessmate Ultima and USCF pocket set are two of my personal favorites. However, I recently came across a new set offered by that has finally fulfilled my desire for a high-quality, travel-sized tabletop set: the USCF Analysis Combination Set.

The analysis chess set and board combination comes in two styles, although this review focuses mainly on the standard combination board. The other set, which is called the Marshall Series, has a fancier Staunton design, costs $10 more, and in my opinion, is not necessary unless you are purely interested in the aesthetics of your analysis set. The primary style (as I call it), is a small plastic set in the same mold and style as the larger USCF-approved tournament sets. This is one aspect that made this particular chess set very appealing to me. I really like playing on the larger USCF– approved boards and this made it easy to really carry one of them around.

The set is made of high quality plastic and vinyl, which is perfect for a home like mine that is dominated by toddlers. The pieces are very sturdy and I can attest to their survival through multiple “fall tests” on to ceramic tile. The vinyl board is about 14″ x 14″ and is perfect for playing on smaller surfaces. The pieces are not weighted and do not qualify for use in tournament play, but the set itself is perfect for using while watching an instructional DVD or playing a skittles match.

At $5.95 a piece, these chess sets are a perfect addition to anyone’s chess set collection. I have two of these and am considering purchasing more for use with my multiple correspondence games. The pieces also fit the 12″ analysis board from Wholesale Chess, which comes in green, black, and blue. The USCF Analysis set is an excellent combination of portability, durability, and usability for the chess player with limited space. Verdit: ♟ ♟ ♟ ♟ ♟

Posted on by Wesley Surber

OMC Weekend Review (Volume 1, Issue 8)

Welcome to the third name change for the weekly installment of chess news, reviews, and my personal game annotations here at! This column began earlier in the year as My Chess Week and soon morphed into OMC Weekly, which in-turn gave rise to the Off My Chess Quarterly publication. Unfortunately, after a few weeks of giving it a serious try, I am not certain that OMC Weekly catches the essence of what I am trying to do with the column. Therefore, I have renamed the weekly entry Weekend Review, or OMC Weekend Review for short. The format and intent of this column will remain the same.

This was a very busy week and chess playtime was at a premium. Work was exhausting, so there was little time at the end of the day in which I felt that I could effectively devote to playing. However, the nights that I was able to sit down and play some blitz games were much better than my previous efforts. I hit a blitz ELO high of 890 recently, but that was briefly before I watched my ELO plunge to a dismal 715. Fortunately, it has been slowly rising back up as I seem to have found my niche again and continue study my openings and work on my tactics.

In Other News…

♟ The first issue of Off My Chess Quarterly Review is out and available for free download.

♟ The FIDE Grand Prix is taking place this week in Baku, Azerbaijan this week as Fabiano Caruana remains dominant and continues to climb his way to the top of the chess world.

Chessbase Magazine #162 is out!

New In Chess has some amazing articles on the Trosmø Olympiad and is available from their official website.

Posted on October 4, 2014 by Wesley Surber

This Guy Named Fabiano

The 2014 FIDE Grand Prix is well underway in Baku, Azerbaijan and one again, all eyes are on the incredible performances of Fabiano Caruana, who drew his match against Hikaru Nakamura earlier today (game post below). Fabiano (so hard not to write FABIO), is fresh off of one of the most stunning performances in chess history at the Sinquefield Cup in Saint Louis where he won seven consecutive games including a game against World Champion Magnus Carlsen. Recently, Magnus has not enjoyed the crushing victories that the chess world has come to expect from him and this has somewhat resulted in attention turning to Fabiano and his continued domination. As reported by Chessbase, Fabiano’s stunning victories in Saint Louis and continued success in other tournaments has resulted in him being listed as the world’s #2 chess player according to the October 2014 FIDE ratings list.

Man or Machine?

When Magnus Carlsen was on the rise to become the World Champion, many believed that he would break the coveted 3000 ELO mark and forever remain the strongest chess player in history. However, his recent struggles have given rise to discussions over who will eventually rise to succeed him as champion and to how long he can hold on to his crown. With the publication of the October FIDE ratings, Fabiano Caruana is only 19 ELO points under Carlsen and has been performing at an average ELO rating of 3000! I believe that this is representative of the greatness of our game. Magnus Carlsen is a chess playboy and is often spoken of in magazines like New In Chess as an invincible man whose destiny is to join the ranks of chess performance ability on par with the world’s strongest chess computers. However, Fabiano Caruana has proven that in chess, anything can happen. It is like that moment in Rocky IV when Rocky wounded Drago for the first time. When he returned to his corner, his assistant pumped him up for the rest of the fight by reminding him that Drago was not a machine, but was instead a man who could be hurt and ultimately defeated. Will Fabiano be the “Rocky” that brings down the Norway chess machine? Only time will tell.

Posted on October 2, 2014 by Wesley Surber

Your Brain…Use It!

One can never underestimate the mental requirements of chess. Being mentally prepared for a game like this requires going far beyond memorizing opening lines or practicing tactical exercises. A player must focus his or her full attention and energy on the task at hand in order to achieve superiority on the board. To most people, this might seem like a no-brainer, but it is easy to get lost in the massive amount of chess data available to us as players and to find ourselves relying less and less on optimal environ[mental] conditions when playing. My blitz games over the last week provided me with an opportunity to step back and reassess how I approach my play. As a person with an reasonably obsessive and high-activity personality, I often play online chess while watching television or in the main living room of our home where my family congregates. There are a myriad of distractions including children, animals, and my wife that make it difficult to focus my complete attention on the games.

It was not until three nights ago when I finally set down in my bedroom with no television, music, or other distractions to play a quick blitz game. I was surprised at the swift and powerful outcome in my favor and wondered if I had just gotten lucky against my opponent or if there were other factors to consider. I began another blitz match and had the same result. Of the six games I played that night, I won five of them with relative ease, including games from opponents rated 200 ELO points higher than I am. This trend has continued over the past few days and it has served as a stark reminder that environmental hygiene is critical to increasing success in chess. Wins and losses in chess are like the rain in that they come and go with time. However, there are things that players can do, such as studying and ensuring they are playing the proper environment to increase the chances of a winning streak. Once again, it is back to basics for me.