Lichess Studies – brief tutorial

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Over the last few years I have skipped around using various online platforms to play blitz and study chess, including the obvious ones like ICC, FICS, playchess and But has really impressed me lately for a number of reasons. It’s been around for several years but never really had a robust platform that could compete with the previous sites I mentioned until recently. First of all, you do not need to download a client to play on the site- as all of it’s features run in the browser. As an open source, free online service it is a totally different animal than say- which is a site like so many others that is designed to separate you from your money. Instead, the lichess developers are focused more on building a community of like-minded people who just want to make a great platform for chess players to come together and share their ideas, teach one another, and play.

One of the most useful features on lichess is “studies.” I have been investing a lot of time and energy into building “studies” on lichess over the past year. I’ve converted several of my favorite chess books into lichess studies and continue to add new material all the time.

here is a lichess demo video on how to use the various functions in the study feature. If you make a cool study and want to share send me a link in the comments.

Active Pieces: Practical Advice from America’s Most Relentless Tournament Player

Active Pieces

Finally, the collection of Jay Bonin’s off-beat thoughts and interesting ideas on how to win tournament games is coming out on Feb. 7th. I’ve already received several emails from bookstores asking to pre-order the book, and I hear through facebook that the pre-orders are stacking up on Amazon as well. It’s no surprise, few players have the name recognition in the U.S. club tournament scene that Jay Bonin does. As one of the most active tournament players alive in the U.S. today, it’s often joked that if he were to write a book titled “My 10,000 best tournament games” it would still not be enough to encompass the majority of his tournament career.

This book tries to achieve something different in scope than simply cataloguing Jay’s games. Instead, the authors have tried to piece together how Jay thinks and plays in a way that can be understood by the reader using this games as examples. While he may be a tricky tactician who is good at calculation, below the surface there are a few formulas that guide his decision making process from the opening into the endgame and this book aims to enumerate what exactly those formulas are as well as how and when to apply them.

While there are many interesting games that I could select from, the following is one of my favorites from the chapter titled: “Keep it Complicated, Stupid.”

You can order a copy here.

Park Heights Avenue Chess Club in Baltimore


I recently met with Alan, one of the organizers of a new chess club in Baltimore, which is seeking to establish a scholastic chess program and regular tournaments in the Baltimore MD area. They need help getting off the ground and have set up a gofundme page. I don’t expect you to donate (for full transparency I only gave $10), but if you might spread the word via facebook/twitter perhaps your help in getting the word out will be pivotal in getting the funding that they need to succeed. Details for their inaugural event can be found here.

I know it’s a bit awkward of me to ask but the gentleman I met with seemed dedicated to bringing chess to the youth of Baltimore and to have a genuine desire to build a quality organization in his community. Thanks for taking a moment to share the above link on social media.


Scholastic Chess

Chuck Close Painting at Avenues School

This Sunday I had the pleasure of taking a team of 12 scholastic players to compete in the Fall Scholastic Chess Tournament at the Avenues of the World School on the west side of Manhattan. The school itself was a draw for some of my team’s parents, who wanted to see what the inside of the school where Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise send their daughter Suri had to offer. An incomplete list of the differences between this school and an average NYC public school would have to begin with the the presence of an elevator, and the Chuck Close self portrait that greets you when those elevator doors open on the 8th floor.

In any case, one of my students played the following game, in which he beat a much higher rated opponent. Ian had been a King’s Gambit player for more than year, but after only a week of studying the Evan’s Gambit was able to pull off a 229 point upset with his new opening. After struggling with playing the Evan’s Gambit online for a week, his remark following this victory was “It finally worked.” With my team scattered across several sections, I was glad with our performance overall: 1st place in the Reserve section, 5 players who only lost a single game in the event.

Aside from the Chuck Close painting and elevator what other differences did my chess team notice? Not many. “They use the same math book as us.” One student remarked.

Die Stammkneipe Invitational


A good friend of mine from college pinged me the other day looking to play a little chess. He was interested in getting into chess more seriously, joining the USCF, playing tournaments, and even starting a scholastic program for the kids at the school where he teaches.

After chatting a little about the weather and Donald Trump, I finished my first of several Jevers and set up a chess board to do battle. I had assumed my friend would likely make some inaccuracy in the opening and allow me to win a pawn and then play casually without too much effort. I was wrong. I completely missed the move Qh3 and then again missed that after Bxd4 I could play Bxd4 because there was no mate threat, as the Bishop still covered the h8 square. What followed was a long and tortuous evening in which I suffered- down material- hoping for some tactical reprieve which thankfully arrived on move 23 when all of a sudden things didn’t look so bad for Black anymore.

“A Bust to the King’s Gambit” By Bobby Fischer in Algebraic Notation


I wanted to review some ideas in the King’s Gambit before showing it to some of my students, and accordingly looked for Fischer’s famous article A Bust to the King’s Gambit and had no trouble finding a PDF of it. However, it was in descriptive notation, which I can read though it is a pain- without any diagrams or clear delineation between the mainline and the sidelines.

After searching the internet for a few minutes I couldn’t find it in algebraic notation anywhere- nor could my more web-savvy friends who have access to nearly any printed thing within a moments notice it seems (where exactly do you find all of these chess books, Boris?).

In any case, rather than waste another minute trying to find the document I wanted, I decided to make it myself. In the link below you can download a copy of the famous article by fischer entitled “A Bust to the King’s Gambit,” in algebraic notation and with a few diagrams and formatting changes to make it easier to read for the 21st century chess player. Here it is: a bust to the king’s gambit

No thanks necessary, but a smiley face in the comments would make me feel like it was time well spent.

Muzychuk wows in the FIDE Women’s World Chess Championship


One of the coolest games I have come across this year was played recently in Sochi at the FIDE Women’s World Chess Championship – check it out below! Mariya Muzychuk finds not one, but two awesome moves in which her unprotected queen challenges a rook on a file and yet cannot be taken due to Black’s back rank weaknesses.

Majur Juac featured in the Washington Post!


Our own Majur Juac is featured this week in the Washington Post, and an interesting and moving article about the talented master from Sudan. If you haven’t already checked out this article, it is definitely worth a read- and the video in the Marshall Chess Club is also worth checking out!

Read it here!

Chess on the Daily Show

Wow… so the Daily Show has picked up on this weird story that was in the NYTimes several days ago and misrepresented/blown it out of proportion. Adding insult to injury, they do a comedy routine with a board set up incorrectly.

Essentially, the controversy revolves around Rex Sinquefeld’s offer to pay Fabiano Caruana to switch federations and play under the American flag so that, ostensibly, we may win future olympiads. Both the New York Times article and this odd Daily Show piece neglect to mention that Fabiano, who currently plays under the Italian flag, grew up in New York City playing at the Marshall Chess Club and has dual citizenship. What’s more, he currently lives in Spain and does not even speak Italian particularly well- compared to his fluent English. What’s more, in the world of chess it is extremely common for players to switch federations, thus to anyone in the know the real curiosity is that this is being publicized as a controversy at all. Ours is an international game and talent isn’t restricted like in the NBA or NFL where contracts bind players to playing for certain teams for certain amounts of time. Players frequently move from one country to another and switch federations accordingly. What’s more, with the impressive investment in chess that is currently taking place in America -and in St. Louis in particular- it would be a very wise career move for any top chess player to relocate or at the very least switch federations to the United States. I for one support Rex in this gesture to attain more top talent to play under the U.S. Flag and hope that he is not discouraged by this strange NYTimes/Daily Show mischaracterization of his generous offer to raise the profile of American chess.

It has been noted by several observers that perhaps the article by Dylan Loeb Mclain, who is a left leaning NYTimes journalist, may have been motivated by politics as Rex Sinquefeld is an unabashed right-winger who makes an easy target for the likes of Dylan and his ilk. In any case, it would be nice to see a major chess news outlet like chessvibes or chessdom put this story into context so that it doesn’t seem like the U.S. is trying to buy top talent. Besides, if we were trying to buy top talent, why wouldn’t we buy Magnus? He is both a better player and more easily swayed by money. Who else do you see playing chess with corporate logos embroidered on their suit jackets?

Most embarrassing of all- the producers of the Daily Show set up the chess board incorrectly- this can be seen clearly at 4:39. It hurts my eyes to see the king and queen on the wrong color squares. If they’re making the argument that america should develop it’s own top talent, they could have at least shown a little respect for the game and set the board up correctly. In Russia, taxi drivers have an ELO of 2000. Until major american television shows take chess seriously enough to learn how to set up the board, it seems unlikely that we will produce a gold medal winning Olympiad team.

FIDE Social Action Commission at the Marshall Chess Club


Tuesday, March 24th, please join us at the Marshall Chess Club at 7pm for a presentation from members of the FIDE Social Action Commission. The discussion will focus on their Smart Girl Program in Uganda and their Alzheimers Chess Program. The Social Action Commission is an advocate for the use of Chess as a tool for social change through action as an equalizer for gender, social & economic development. Refreshments will be provided!

For details on the exciting things that the FIDE Social Action Commission is working on, visit their website.

If you can’t beat ‘em, buy ‘em.


An article by Dylan Loeb Mclain in the NYTimes this morning outlines a plan by the preƫminent financial supporter of chess on the planet, Rex Sinquefield, to lure top players into switching federations to the U.S. in order to compete in the olympiad on our behalf and ostensibly, to live in the U.S. and raise our profile internationally.

While the article is itself an enjoyable read (such a pleasure to see chess coverage in the times!)- the comments are just as interesting.

Mate in 3-

I showed this pattern to my kids in chess club last week – only to have it appear before me in a blitz game over the weekend. It’s a pretty simple mate but a satisfying find OTB in blitz. White to move.

Continue reading »

Irina Krush or My Mom

I stumbled across this great video on chess life online and thought I would reblog it. A lot of friendly faces in this video! I was in DC during Amateur Team East this year but next year I’m assembling a 2199 dream team and Parsippany will be mine!

Amateur Team East


I was in DC all weekend feasting on delicious food (shellfish mostly: mussels, belon oysters, lobster, scallops, shrimp, more mussels) while everyone else was in Parsippany doing battle at Amateur Team East. While I definitely received some interesting games from friends of mine, the below game from Jay Bonin is one of the more interesting games sent my way. The clever Nd5 sac is the kind of move I would never conceive of- and to think the middle game complications expire into a straightforward ending!

2 missed chances against IM: Part 1

Recently, I’ve noticed two large failings in my chess play:

1. My opening knowledge, while possibly getting wider and/or deeper, has become inaccurate. Even in openings I am familiar with, I have started inserting moves from other variations or otherwise inaccurate or inapposite moves.

2. Some form of tactical blindness. I’ve always felt that tactics were a weak spot for me, and although I try to remedy that, I am not sure if improvement has been seen.

An example of both can be found in the game against IM Ilya Figler below. An inaccurately played opening, and then a missed tactical opportunity that should have been obvious.

To be continued.