14 June, 2015

Newspaper Endgame, Barden Openings

A simple, but intriguing endgame from the Leonard Barden chess column in the Guardian.

Leonard Barden was one of the two chess authors who enriched my schoolboy days, the other being Harry Golombek. 

Although Fred Reinfeld may be very well known in the US, in Britain in the 1960s and 1970s, I had barely heard of him, and, obviously, stuck with home-grown authors.

My local library appeared full of Barden and Golombek books, and after many borrowings, eventually I bought Golombek's "The Game of Chess" and Barden's "Chess" ( I think those were the titles ). I also dabbled with "Teach Yourself Chess", which in those days was written by Gerald Abrahams, another great chess educator, but frankly, not for youngsters, as it is far too erudite.

I still have the Golombek book, but Barden's book is nowhere to be found in my house, maybe its hidden at my parents'. 

A couple of years ago, I saw and bought another Barden book, his 1957 'A Guide to Chess Openings', in hardback, and in remarkable condition for its age ( it was second-hand ).

It is very enjoyable seeing recommendations from 50+ years ago, along with games by players that are distinctly minor now, but presumably were significant at the time, such as Borodin, Unzicker, von Scheltinga, Kramer , as well as stalwarts of the British chess scene like Milner-Barry, Thomas and Yates.

08 June, 2015

Blitz chess : strange resignation

Blitz chess for me, is addictive, and almost pointless, often together.

It is easy to waste hours online playing it ( hence 'pointless' ) , with practically no "chess" knowledge-gain at all, whilst losing an immense amount of time. That's not to say it isn't enjoyable, just that you need to be honest with yourself about why you are doing it !

I am sure that used properly, in a focused and controlled manner, something can be gained from it, I mean, of course,  something in 'chess' terms, not just an aimless whiling-away the time...

However, I am equally sure that such a gain will work primarily for players who already have the appropriate tactical skill level and so can concentrate on the positive aspects they want out of blitz, rather than constantly avoiding tactical mistakes in the limited time available ( or is that "suffering from the inevitable blunder"  ? ).

This positive aspect is often presented as 'gaining experience of new positions' or  'trying out new openings', ie playing a lot of quick games to end up with a feel of what positions arise from the opening, and then using this as input to the next stage in opening practise, that of adding (more) theory.

For my part, I have re-appraised how I spend my blitz time on the Net.