Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Most children I know love to sign up and enter every tournament they can participate in, but the results they obtain do not always measure up to their enthusiasm.

Sometimes we need to understand what is meant by " LESS IS MORE".

To put it simply, why play 5 tournaments and end up getting 50% score ? Why not prepare and play 2 good tournaments and end up top 5 placing?

Even grandmasters do not go past 60 games A YEAR. They spent the rest of the year PREPARING.

So how does one PREPARE?  Rather than reproduce the same text, why not read it for yourself here

However, I must qualify some of Botvinnik's comments - they are meant for top players, not club players.  

" I study games played by my rivals during the forthcoming competition"   

You can only do that if you are playing in a round-robin tournament, where everyone meets everyone. This approach is not practicable in a Swiss system tournament, where your opponents vary. But then, if you are observant enough and have a good memory, you may be able to recognise the usual openings played by most of the tournament regulars. Having that is the first step -  you can now go into researching what to play against them should you meet them.

"For one competition, 3 or 4 opening systems with White and same for Black are quite sufficient"  

Sufficient for a master, yes, but TOO MUCH for a club player. In my opinion, club players and students do not have the time nor energy for 3 or 4 opening systems. Maybe 1, maximum 2. In other words, you have 1 good line against your opponent's reply. It is not possible to play 1 e4 and 1 d4 and have the time to know all the variations made by Black. You can have at best 2 replies to 1 e4, then one against 1 d4 and hopefully one that will be able to answer 1 c4, 1 Nf3 or any other first move.


Here I agree with Botvinnik 100%.

"Certain of your schemes should be tried out in training games.."  

Botvinnik was talking about playing real training games with a regular partner ( in his case Ragozin) but if you don't have one, playing on the Internet with 15 minutes or more per side does help. One should of course analyse the games to look out for weaknesses which could then be rectified.

"Anyone who wishes to become an outstanding chess-player must AIM at perfection in (the realm of) analysis"  

I often wonder how many children do take their lost games and subject them to a proper analysis BY THEMSELVES and not using their computers or coaches?? This is a very important phase in chess learning. Identifying your weaknesses in your thought process is a necessary step to refining how you select your moves and how well you SEE your opponents' threats. If you lose in the same opening again and again, there must be something you do not understand about your opening, or the way you've planned right after the opening ends. Have you consulted how the masters have played?

Aaagard in his book EXCELLING AT CHESS rightly recommends that one should analyse first without the computer's help, mark out the critical phases in the game and then use the computer to check what better moves there are AT THE CRITICAL phases.

With that, good results will come to those who work at their chess the smart way.

Monday, October 24, 2011


School's out pretty soon, so it's time to revisit the tournaments that will be in place for November and December. There's 25minute rapid chess and longer time controls of 2 hrs per game or more, plenty to choose from.

I am broadcasting mainly those tournaments which are not organised by the SCF. For SCF tournaments, please goto  the SCF  for all the Upcoming Events.


Round 1 starts 930am. There are 3 sections, A1 Junior Under 13 yrs, A2 Junior Under 10yrs, and Open (no age limit). Cash prizes and trophies awarded for Sections A1 and Open, trophies only for A2.  Lunch will be provided for Junior Sections A1 and A2 only. The entry form can be downloaded here 


There are again 3 Sections, Open (No age limit), Major (16 yrs and under) and Minor ( 12 yrs and under). The Open and Major Sections are played in 45 minutes per side, thus over 2 days while the Minor is a one-day tournament played with 20 minutes per side. There is also a Blitz Tournament (5mins per side) on Dec 4 Sunday.

More details on the entry form downloadable here.

Inclusive of the SCF events, there should be a total of 4 local events and 2 overseas ( the Asian Amateur and Penang Open) which should fufil any chessplayers hunger for this period.

Please note that the local tournaments listed are NOT organised by SCF, hence they are NOT SCF rated and zero start does not apply.

Monday, October 17, 2011


The tournament has 2 sections, the Open for those 1601 and above and the Novice Section for those rated 1600 and under.

Shi Hao and Mitchell took part, with Shi Hao ending on 3.5 and Mitchell on 4.5. He was placed 23rd in the field of 96 players, beating Foo Kai En in the last round who's rated 1392. He should get about 30 rating pts from this tournament.

What matters to me is not so much just the results but tbe valuable lessons one learns during the course of the seven games. When Mitchell started off his first game, he lost it in about 20 minutes. What he was not aware of is the time management of his game which needs a little adjustment. He was working out 1 variation which he saw and did not try to see other moves which could be better. After explaining to him that the purpose of spending time was to first SELECT the candidate moves, evaluate the resultant position of EACH candidate move and then picking the best of the lot. Hence the need to take one's time to do this, especially if there are many possible ways to make a capture or a pawn move that can change the pawn structure leading to a different game. I was impressed that he reflected on this and proceeded to slow down, playing better moves from Round 2 onwards. He managed to draw Andrew Tan, rated 1423 even though he had a win but did not have the confidence to convert. The reward came in the final round when he kept his cool, played the Fort Knox and gradually consolidated his position from the huge space advantage White had throughout the game. It was in the endgame that the decisive mistake was made, out of time trouble I believe. White went into winning a pawn but that meant exchanging all Rooks and Queen into a lost pawn endgame which Mitchell converted. Finally, he understood why the Fort Knox was the name chosen for the opening he played, simply because  he has discovered that good defence is also another way of winning a chess game apart from direct attacks on the King. 

A happy Mitchell with his trophy

Shi Hao was steamrolled by a young Ting JinShun. This was a pure case of underestimating his opponent, whom he thought he could just play to win without much resistance. I did not chastise him after the loss but wanted him to reflect on his attitude towards younger opponents. Sometimes, the best way to teach a lesson is not necessarily to explain, but allow the player to reflect and understand where he went wrong. The lesson would be internalised for sure after a painful defeat.

Some of the losses were due to the unfamiliarity of the openings like the Scandinavian or not so common replies to their White repertoire. Will need to do some work in repairing the chinks in the armour. Till their next tournament...

Friday, October 7, 2011


Based on SCF October Rating list, most of my students have made improvements in their ratings. 3 have created their accounts in the SCF Rating List. Good work boys and girls!!

My target is for all students to increase their ratings by 30 points for each half year. That is achievable should they work hard in their performance for the remaining tournaments to be held in the year.