Sunday, October 12, 2014

Intuition in Chess

I'm reading this book at the moment:
Very interesting
It deals with decision making and thought processes, so naturally some of it is applicable to chess. Here is an excerpt that mentions chess explicitly:

Another quote also stands out, as a way of defining intuition:
"The situation has provided a cue; this cue has given the expert access to information stored in memory, and the information provides the answer. Intuition is nothing more and nothing less than recognition." Herbert Simon
As players get stronger, the correct move in a position will more often be one of the first that pops into their head. This intuition is nothing more than recognising a pattern that they have seen before in the position, and already knowing how to proceed. So this suggests a simple way to improve your game: become familiar with as many new positions as possible.

Fortunately this is a pretty easy training method to implement. Tactics training sites are available which show you a position and ask you to spot the best move/series of moves. They generally track your rating if you sign up in order to give you puzzles of the appropriate level, and also so you can check your improvement.

Practice on these sites for 10 minutes a day and you will see improvement in tactical ability.

Here's an example from my own game last week against Rathmines, where I had not seen a particular pattern before and thus my intuition could not prompt me. I was black, and it is my move.

Black to play
The game concluded 49....Nxh3 50.Rxe5 Ng5+ 51.Kg1 Nf3+ 0-1 (I'll take white's rook next move).
This is a huge material advantage, well enough to win easily despite only having two minutes on my clock. But what if I only had two seconds? 

It would have been much more efficient to kill the game immediately, as Jacob later pointed out to me. 49....Nf3+! 50. Kh1 (or 50.gxh3 Rhxh3#) Rhxh3+! 51.gxh3 Rg1 checkmate. It didn't even occur to me to check this line, but now if something similar ever comes up again I'm sure the right move will suggest itself without me even being aware of why.

If anyone has this pattern show up in a game this year, please share. I'd love to see intuition-building in action :)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Beyond the Square, and on to the Hexagon! Three Player Chess

This Tuesday was a great day for Chesssoc. On Tuesday, having mastered the "trivial" 2-player, square-board form of the game, our esteemed leader Ziggy decided that we must take on the challenges of the Hexagon, and 3-player chess, having procured the very cool board pictured below. The rules for this can be found here.

The inaugural winner was Ziggy himself, so congratulations to him!

IM Mark Quinn Lecture and Simul Results

A report from Thursday's simul and lecture. The final score was 0.5 - 5.5 with the 5 wins going to International Master Mark Quinn and a draw going to our captain, Ziggy. Anthony Bourached also had an incredible game and was unlucky to come away with no points from it. Friedrich Wetterling (pictured below) annoyed everyone by offering a draw (aka "remi") every move for about 25 moves in a row :P He also came up with the comment of the night to IM Mark Quinn: "You're actually playing well in this game".

The lecture was very interesting too. Mark had some little anecdotes from his international tournament playing days when he got to know Kasparov a little behind the scenes, so not only did we get a presentation of a comparison between Kasparov's and Carlsen's playing abilities and styles but also their personalities. Watch out for this Grandmaster Magnus Carlson character. Mark thinks he's a better (overall) player than Kasparov and will deservedly break the 2900 rating mark in the not too distant future. Let's hope he qualifies for the World Championship showdown against GM Viswanathan Anand this year. He's in the lead (equal 1st) in the qualifying tournament: http://www.chessvibes.com/reports/candidates-r6-aronian-carlsen-increase-lead-to-15-points

Friedrich completely focused on his game against IM Mark Quinn

Saturday, March 9, 2013

IM Mark Quinn Lecture and Simul

International Master Mark Quinn will be paying us a visit on Thursday March 21st at 6pm for a chess simul and lecture. For those that don't know, a chess simul is when one person goes around the room and plays multiple opponents at the same time. Mark is currently ranked #6 in the country and has represented Ireland in the Chess Olympiad seven times (no big deal for us of course, is it, Hannah?). The chess simul has limited places, so if you would like a go at trying to beat Mark when he's at a slight disadvantage, email chess@csc.tcd.ie. His lecture will follow the simul and will be on a comparison between Garry Kasparov and Magnus Carlsen. Garry Kasparov is considered by many to be the greatest chess player of all time. His feats are incredible. In January, however, a new person, Magnus Carlsen, made headlines by beating Garry's all-time highest rating. Magnus in 2004 became the second youngest Grandmaster in history (he's since become the 3rd). He's 22 now and playing incredible chess. How does he compare to the great man Kasporov? Come on March 21st to find out! (Room yet to be decided).

IM Mark Quinn in action
Visit Mark's website at  http://markquinnwriter.com/chess.html

A long-overdue update: Armstrong & O'Hanlon teams, and some success at Bunratty

Hi guys! A long time has passed since the last update, so I thought I'd do a major update now. Some very good results from the Bunratty Chess Festival first, then I'll get on to how our teams are doing in the leagues.

Firstly, the Masters Event, which was won, as it was last year, by English Super-GM Michael Adams, rated 2725. Trinity representation in this came in the form of Armstrong Team Captain and Secretary Anthony Bourached, former captain and Eternal President Stephen Moran, and Colin Menzies, who used to go to Trinity and about whom I don't really know enough to give any preamble. He was probably on committee too, back in the day. We did quite well in this event, with all 3 exceeding their official ratings in their performance ratings, but special mention must go to Anthony, who managed an impressive 3.5/6 (which included a bye), despite being outrated in every single game he played. For the record, Anthony placed 16th, Colin 23rd, and Stephen 25th, out of 39 competitors.

In the Challenger event, we were represented by Didier Kalemba Mukekwa, who finished a very respectable 30th of 68, with a score of 3.0/6. The Major event saw participation by Shane Sheedy, who should be very pleased with a score of 3.0/6, with a performance rating almost 250 points above his official rating, placing 41st of 76.

Finally, we were represented in the Minor by the ridiculously underrated committee member Jacob Miller, who has been annoying O'Hanlon opponents all year with his antics on Board 1, where 1400s and 1500s, expecting easy wins upon seeing his rating of 1082, have seen their own ratings potentially plummeting before their eyes as it turns out he's actually much better than that. Jacob had a very successful weekend, going undefeated, and finishing 2nd of 108 competitors with 5.5/6. The only blemish on his record was a draw in the 5th round.

Now, to the leagues, and things aren't quite so rosy as they have been. The Armstrong team have lost 4 of the 5 matches they've played since the last update, though the dominant fashion of that lone win means that those 5 matches have given a total team score of 19.5/40, which is a reasonable return. Unfortunately, however, a problem over payment of fees led to an 8 point deduction, so has led to a slide down the table, to 10th, though if this is rectified we will be in an excellent 5th position. The games were, chronologically: 5-3 defeats to Elm Mount and Kilkenny, a 4.5-3.5 defeat to Phibsboro, a 6.5-1.5 thumping of Rathmines B, and another narrow 4.5-3.5 loss to Bray./Greystones. The loss to Phibsboro, who lead the league with 8 wins from 9, was particularly unfortunate, as we were a player down (missing Anthony), and so forfeited a board before play had even began. The surprise result in that game was Charles Dillon (rated ~1300) pulling out a very surprising win over an 1800+ rated opponent on board 6. Of the Armstrong players, Rory Delaney has been having an very good season, scoring 5.5/8 with only a single loss, as has Anthony Bourached, with the same record. The ever presents on the team Oisín Benson, Stephen Moran and Karl McPhilips, have been doing well too, with scores of 5.5/9, 4.5/9, and 5.5/9 respectively. The table is as follows:

1Phibsboro104319180052 ½
2Gonzaga104317200051 ½
3Elm Mount103127220044 ½
4Bray / Greystones103021290040 ½
5Rathmines A102327300036 ½
6St Benildus92621250036 ½
7Dun Laoghaire92127240034 ½
9Kilkenny91831230033 ½
10Dublin University102528270831
11Dublin91723322026 ½
12Rathmines B91421370024 ½

Now, to the O'Hanlon. The O'Hanlon team has been beset by struggles to get bodies on the boards, and concessions of walkovers against Celbridge (2 boards), Drogheda and Bray/Greystones A (each 1 board, with a penalty of -1 aganst Bray) have cost us. This has contributed to our current placing of 11th, which places us in danger of relegation if we cannot bridge the 1.5 point gap above us in the last two games (the game vs Dublin has not been played).  Credit must go to Jacob Miller, the only ever present in the team, who has managed to score 4/9 despite mostly playing vastly higher rated opponents on Board 1, and to Ross Byrne, Rob Murtagh and Conor Hickey, who have scored 4/8, 4/8, and 3.5/7 respectively, and have been our other consistently present team members. The table is as follows:
Team MP GW GD GL Adj Pts
1 Drogheda 9 31 9 14 0 35 ½
2 Elm Mount 9 24 16 14 0 32
3 Inchicore 10 23 17 20 0 31 ½
4 Dublin 10 24 12 18 6 30
5 Celbridge 10 24 12 24 0 30
6 Curragh 9 23 12 19 0 29
7 Ballinasloe 9 24 8 22 0 28
8 Bray / Greystones A 9 16 19 19 0 25 ½
9 Finglas 9 16 17 21 0 24 ½
10 St Benildus 9 20 8 26 0 24
11 Dublin University 10 16 13 25 6 22 ½
12 Bray / Greystones B 9 11 13 30 0 17 ½

That's all for now: hopefully the teams do well in their remaining games and the O'Hanlon team can stave off relegation. Details of everything to do with league performances can be found at http://leinsterchess.com/lcu1213/tables.htm and via links on that page.
Till next time,

Thursday, November 22, 2012

O'Hanlon Update

Hey again! This is the promised, though unfortunately low on specifics, O'Hanlon update.

The O'Hanlon year started quite brightly, with a heavy win 4.5-1.5 versus Bray/Greystones B, and continued well with a 3.5-2.5 win over St. Benildus, though 1 of the points against was a result of our forfeiting a board, which has been a persistent problem for us over the last few seasons.This left us relatively highly placed after two matches, with 7 wins, 2 draws, 2 losses and a forfeit (which counts as a loss).

Sadly, the next two games, against Bray/Greystones A and Drogheda, didn't turn out so well. Against Bray, an unexpected withdrawal left us with a forfeit and -1 points for not declaring it beforehand, and a tough opposition team yielded little in the way of points to make up for it. The result was 4.5-0.5 (after the deduction) and this was followed up by another loss to Drogheda. Away, to the furthest club from us in the division, we could only muster 5, and so again forfeited a board. The result was 5-1, leading to a lot of work needed to regain a firm footing in the upper regions of the division.

Due to the slowness of the upkeep of the website, the table isn't available, so this rather vague update is all that can be given right now. Stay tuned for more (and more lucid) updates!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Armstrong update

Hey guys!
Just thought I'd give an update on how the teams have been doing so far this year.

On the Armstrong front, the team have been doing pretty well, with the table currently looking as follows:
Team MP GW GD GL Def Pts
1 Phibsboro 4 20 6 6 0 23
2 Elm Mount 4 15 10 7 0 20
3 St Benildus 4 15 9 8 0 19 ½
4 Dun Laoghaire 4 12 12 8 0 18
5 Dublin University 4 11 13 8 0 17 ½
6 Gonzaga 4 14 7 11 0 17 ½
7 Balbriggan 4 8 14 10 0 15
8 Rathmines A 4 9 11 12 0 14 ½
9 Bray / Greystones 4 10 6 16 0 13
10 Kilkenny 4 6 12 14 0 12
11 Dublin 4 6 12 14 1 11
12 Rathmines B 4 6 8 18 0 10

As you can see, we are quite reasonably placed in 5th, thanks in no small part to the form of Karl, who is currently 4 wins from 4 on board 1. Also notable is their recent 5.5-2.5 thumping of Rathmines A, despite being outrated on the majority of the boards. In particular, Anthony scored the full point on board 4 despite his opponent outrating him by a whopping 207 points.

The next match up will be Monday, against Elm Mount, who currently sit 2nd. A very brief and unscientific analysis of their players' ratings indicates it should be a very evenly matched tie, so hopefully we can get the win (notably, Karl will experience being outrated on board 1 for the first time, though only by a minuscule 2 points).

That's all for now, an O'Hanlon update will hopefully follow in due course!