I recently played an 86-move game that was simultaneously the longest and most frustrating game of my short chess career. In an effort to break out of my comfort zone and try something new, I decided to make this game the subject of my first-ever video analysis. Written analysis is provided below the YouTube video. I hope you enjoy it!
Sometimes I get so frustrated when I make a blunder that I simply give up and rage quit the game. Making a mistake in a chess game can often be as frustrating as being spawn camped by some n00b in Call of Duty. This is something I’ve been actively working on for the past few months: trying to stay in the game despite the apparent hopelessness of the position. Now, there are times when its important to realize that you have no chance of winning and you’re just delaying the inevitable. A lone King versus a Rook and a bunch of pawns comes to mind. But when most of the pieces are still on the board, there’s little reason to give up so quickly. Such is the case with this game where I had to make a painful sacrifice early in the middlegame but was able to turn things around in the end.
Today was rough all around. Network problems made my day job a challenge and I lost two daily chess games that I should have won. That’s not saying that my opponents didn’t deserve to win. They certainly played good games and came out on top, but there were so many ridiculous blunders today that have been so uncharacteristic of me lately. I managed, in extraordinary fashion, to blunder not one, but two Bishops today. Perhaps the analysis of these games is just a way of venting. I’m sure that I’ll bounce back…I always do. But wow, these are hard to stomach.
And shortly after that little gem was played, this happened…
I’ve lost quite a few disappointing games in the past couple of weeks, so this was a welcome and refreshing victory that gave me insight into some common problems I’ve been having. Given its (albeit brief) instructional value for myself, I felt it was worth a surface analysis and commentary. I hope you enjoy!
Good morning, campers! Today is International Chess Day and there are celebrations going on all around the world to honor our game! Not sure how to celebrate the day? Here are a few suggestions to get you going:
We’re just a few weeks away from the start of the 2021 U.S. Open and US Chess has announced that legendary World Champion GM Anatoly Karpov will be in attendance on August 4th for a lecture, Q & A session, and book signing. Here is the official release info from the US Chess Federation:
Mr. Karpov will deliver a lecture, to be followed by a question-and-answer period. Then, Mr. Karpov will appear at a book signing in the US Open bookstore. He’ll be joined there by a former World Junior Champion, GM Maxim Dlugy! This special event is happening thanks to the combined generosity of the New Jersey State Chess Federation, Chess Max Academy, and US Chess Sales. US Chess thanks all of these partners for helping to provide our attendees with this great visit!
According to US Chess, the Crowne Plaza, which is hosting the event, is almost out of rooms but the federation has secured local hotels at the same discount rate. For details, visit the official website for the 2021 US Open.
One of my favorite parts of playing daily chess is how the battles unfold over several days. There are some positions that go fast and others that seem to drag on forever. Then there are those moments where it seems that both sides are ready to lash out. I find myself constantly checking to see if I’ve received a notification that it’s my turn to move when there are tight positions and it’s all hanging by a thread. The game that follows is one such game that I recently played. It was a close battle for most of the game with blunders and mistakes on both sides, but ultimately, I pulled out a very nice win.
Complete Chess in San Antonio is holding an online tournament for scholastic chess players (K-12) from any state on Friday, June 25th and Saturday, June 26th. Registration is limited to 50 people, so hurry now to register if you’re interested. See the release below from Complete Chess for details:
Complete Chess Scholastic Tournament – Saturday, June 26th
This is an unrated chess tournament open to all students(K-12) in San Antonio and nearby areas. We will play on Saturday at 10a.m. until finish (usually around 1p.m). Registration online only, no registration on site. Registration ends at 8:00pm on Friday.
Complete Chess Grand Prix Tournament – Friday, June 25th
This is our weekly online rated Swiss Scholastic arena tournament on Lichess. The tournament will run on Friday, June 25th and the first round will start promptly at 5:15 pm CST. Any K-12 players from any state are allowed to participate in the tournament. By the end of the tournament, a running total of points will be collected, based on the number of wins/draws, and it will be recorded on the website. The 2021 Complete Chess Summer Season will continue to have weekly tournaments until the second week of August. By the end of the Season, the top 10 players with the most points will each receive an individual trophy.
Entry fee: $15 if received by June 24th, and $25 on tournament day.
Since I returned to writing about and playing chess regularly, I’ve tried to center myself more on developing a comprehensive study plan and maintaining some sense of focus. Previously, I was obsessed with openings, but these days I’m trying to focus more on positional play and strategic level positions in the middlegame. I’m finding myself more able to find discovered checks and push my pawns forward with more momentum and purpose.
The game above was played against an internet opponent on Chess.com on the Daily Chess function. The time control was 1 move per day, but we finished it much sooner than that. I decided to annotate this game because while it’s filled with amateur mistakes, I believe it’s representative of my improvement in the middlegame and my growing ability to identify key moments that can turn a losing position into a winning steamroller. My opponent played hard, but I was fortunate that the chess gods shined their light on me for this one.
Up against the border between the United States and Mexico is the town of Brownsville, Texas, where the residents get much of their past and contemporary culture from a mixture of the two nations. Jose, the unlikely protagonist of Endgame is an elementary school student who is struggling to find his way in a world where he feels disconnected, unappreciated, and unwanted. When he’s not getting into trouble at school, being lectured by the most insufferable movie Principal in history, or arguing with his mother, Jose spends time with his grandmother playing chess.
Endgame does its best to mimic many of the feel good chess movies that have come before it. There are times it tries to channel Searching for Bobby Fischer with a mix of Knights of the South Bronx. Although it certainly doesn’t come close to the beauty of Searching, there are moments that make Endgame a worthy family movie.
Given the story’s setting, the producers do take time to address some of the contemporary political discussions surrounding illegal immigration in the United States and the consequences that come with it for the families involved. Without giving too much away, there is a subplot involving one of the chess team members who’s parents are illegal immigrants. The way in which the film deals with this subplot is very interesting because it has a resolution, but not in the way that one would expect for a film that seems to be geared toward a family friendly audience.
As the world around him seems to crumble, Jose finds himself immersed deeper into the world of scholastic chess. He’s encouraged by the eccentric tutorage of his chess coach, Mr. Alvaredo, who is based on the real life Brownsville chess coach J.J. Guajardo. Mr. Guajardo was a teacher at Brownsville (Russell) Elementary School in the 1980s when he took a group of kids given detention for allegedly destroying a school record collection and taught them to play chess. Since then, Brownsville has been overrun by curious media and chess fanatics curious about its incredibly strong scholastic teams.
Through his effort to win on the board, Jose faces a myriad of challenges that mirror the movement of his pieces. Friends come and go just as though they were nothing more than pieces on the board. There is deep symbolism in chess, which requires little effort from any competent producer or director to bring out in a film. Endgame does a good job of juxtaposing the challenges of daily life and the struggles around us with the endless struggle to checkmate our opponent’s King.
How does Endgame stack up against the increasingly crowded field of feel good chess movies and feel good sports movies in general? Well, for me, it’s a mixed bag. There are some interesting characters, for sure. The Principal is one of the scummiest people I’ve ever seen in a film. Very rarely has a character created a sense of physical rage inside me, but the school’s smug Principal certainly did the job. My main issue with this movie was the character of Jose. It’s obvious that the producers wanted to create a character who was realistic and relatable, but he’s often an obnoxious and annoying boy who’s eventual victories are sometimes overshadowed by his overall attitude and demeanor.
Endgame is not a bad movie by any stretch of the imagination. It has its fun moments and it has some legitimate tear-jerking moments. You can’t go wrong with giving it a try if you’re looking for a lightweight chess film or something for the family to sit down and enjoy over a bowl of popcorn one evening.