Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Chess improvement blog carnival #1!

Step right up

Welcome to the first chess improvement blog carnival!

We got lots of great submissions, there is a lot of excellent chess content in the blogosphere, a lot of people sharing their hard-won knowledge of the game and how to get better at it.

The topics are as assorted as a carnival freak show: humor, tactics, instructional posts, openings, books, software, and some that were simply hard to categorize. I put them in semi-random order rather than organized by topic. We'll see how that goes. This was to recreate the feeling of a carnival, the nonlinear nature of exploring the blogosphere where you will hit on random topics from blog to blog.

The only links I didn't accept involved sites with multiple submissions, and I wanted to keep it to one per site.

If there is something that should be here, leave it in the comments, and more importantly be sure to submit your work for the next Carnival, which will be February 4, 2011 (deadline February 1). Submit your suggestions here. Someone has volunteered to host it, I will let you know soon where to find it, and generally I'll be sure to post each time there is a new carnival, and call for submissions each month.

The Carnival
Wang, the inimitable all-star of chess blogging, wrote a selfless and helpful comparison of two popular tactics programs: CT-Art 4 and Chess Tactics for Beginners.

Denver High provides a living reminder that chess writing does not have to be sucked of life and authenticity in his wonderful essay My Time at San Quentin Prison.

Derek Slater provokes the cheapskate in me with The $200 chess budget challenge. Similar to the desert island question, but you are financially rather than geographically stranded. He follows up with his own answer to the challenge here.

Linux Guy has a great article rich with chess improvement suggestions in his tersely titled post Books II. It should be titled 'chess improvemant bonanza', especially once you read the comments which blow the place up with wisdom from multiple celebrity bloggers.

Prodigal Pawn has a helpful analysis of those ever-subtle Knight versus Bishop position. I wonder if I will ever feel like I have a decent grasp of the ins-and-outs of such positions...

Temposchlucker's piece outlining different aspects of chess strategy is a very nice overview that taught me a thing or two.

The enigmatic Katar writes an illuminating review of the book 'Play the London System.'

Liquid Egg Product gives the tournament player some helpful tidbits on How to beat women at chess. For instance, a great discussion of the 'two centers' a positional concept I hadn't quite understood before.

When I asked where to play online, the David Foster Wallace of chess blogging, DK Transform responded with a classic DK post, chock full of details, statistics, entertaining asides and footnotes. Post is titled Letters to a not so young blue devil knight. Thanks, DK!

Castling Queen Side offers some great advice, easy to give, hard to actually do, in one of her characteristically entertaining posts Get over it!.

My blog's best post is probably this one on the often overlooked social dimension of chess improvement. Meeting with real people, going over variations, arguing, smelling them, grabbing pieces. These things are underrated in the modern computer era.

Blunderprone continued his foray into pawn structures starting with A Historical Perspective on the study of Pawn formations, a wonderful introductory post in a 6 part article series. They used to call me PBS-Knight, but I think Blunderprone has taken over that one. The other five posts in the series can be found at the following links:
[2], [3], [4], [5], [6]

Mark Weeks at chessforallages presents An Olympiad Bind does some heavy positional analysis, with a really good description of a position, arguing that this type of bind is better to examine positionally, conceptually, rather than crunching through variations like a computer.

An Unemployed Fellow, Vinay Baht, shares a A teachable moment with us, providing an analysis of a species of the ever-perplexing genus, the Rook and Pawn endgame.

Did you know they sometimes cover chess at the Huffington Post? Neither did I. GM Lubomir Kavalek analyzes some compositions in A Vodka Escape. Some people think puzzles are useless for practical chess improvement, others think they are useful for illustrating the core of an idea that you might use someday. I tend toward the latter, but I'm not here to editorialize :)

Brooklyn64 gives a thorough, well-written, and illuminating book review in an obscure line of the sicilian, 2 a3, reviewing the book Challenging the Sicilian with 2.a3!? (yes, the '!?' is in the book title). A thorough and helpful review. I don't know how I missed this blogger, he is one to watch.

Top ten chess lightly annotates an instructive game between Karjakin and Kramnik here.

Dana McKenzie shows his usual flair in his Why not not nuke the Caro?, an examination of a rare line to try against the Caro Kann, in which white sacrifices a queen on move 6! That Dana, he can't be accused of being overly materialistic! A good case study of activity versus material.

A Chess Dad submits a nugget of wisdom that I often need to remember when going against higher-rated players, in What are you afraid of?? The submitter asked if this was appropriate for the carnival, and it is exactly right for this carnival!!!

Empirical Rabbit has a very interesting post that was a great reminder of some of the debates we used to have about the Tactical Circles in his Introducing expanding repetitions.

Drive home safely!
That concludes this first edition of the Chess Improvement Blog Carnival. I hope you have enjoyed the variety and quality of work that the blogosphere produced in 2010, and here's to a great ratings boost in 2011! Please keep this going by submitting your blog article to the next edition using our carnival submission form.

Please let me know if any links are broken in this carnival, I will fix them ASAP.

Thanks for stopping by, folks.


Anonymous lefthandsketch said...

Wow! Incredible collection of stuff I would not have found on my own- a long weekends worth of chess material to go over.

1/05/2011 12:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Derek Slater said...

Nice job putting it all together, BDK - thanks!

1/06/2011 05:14:00 PM  
Blogger Polly said...

Great job with the carnival! I can see I have lots of blogs to look at and catch up with. Thanks for including one of my posts. I had kind of forgotten you were doing it, so I never got around to doing a formal submission.

1/07/2011 12:57:00 AM  
Blogger Temposchlucker said...

You prove that the chess blogosphere certainly isn't dead. The only thing that seems to be missing is some cohesy. Some central square where folks unite. A charismatic person like Don Q was able to create and maintain such place. This carnival is a very nice attempt to unite. But maybe a new charismatic character who is willing and able to invest time is needed most.

1/08/2011 05:08:00 PM  
Blogger takchess said...

Since I'm blogging again,I'd figure I'd crash the carnival with an entry: A Most Instructive Instructive Game.


Better late than never.


1/09/2011 09:11:00 PM  
Blogger transformation said...

dear Eric, this is some great work. i wish that i could dig in more, to the gems here, but as it is, i am preparing daily now for my first USCF rated tournament since 1973.

i go in with my 'old' provisional rating, and probably will be seeded with a 2000 elo+ as a 1452, the rating of a fourteen year old... very much hoping to startle a person unawares or two Z:-).

you manage to still do great work, a labor of love, a clean, crisp, efficient saloon for chess bloggers, and i man the bar, not a salon, is it the other kind?

it is wonderful that you still play chess. you are like a bloggers oldest and dearest friend. what did the come and gone musical grea say on 60 minutes, a few years back, after all the money and fame was gone, where the big Geffin Records or Time Warner or Virgin had stripped all the meat off the flesh:

"i didnt get noo chrristmas cards, i din get noo birdthday carrds, i din get noo hello or goodbyes--nothin.

and as for Kant help it?

some time after about 1944 we left the carbon era and went into the neutron era. the very soil below us had changed. plus, Botvinnik kicked a bit of as at Groningen, probably on a cold winter day, but i cannot be sure. he had not taken to drink, but did for sure have a hot wife, a slender ballerina. don't think for one minute he beat tal, petrosian, smyslov, just pushing wood and grokking slav structures. no. he and his, wife, well, ahem *. it was neutrons, pheromones, ideation, and whirling galaxies. commerce whirled past stonehenge, and in due time, ELO fashioned a wonderful rating structure. god spoke and it was.

then the internet, and handhelds, and wholefoods, and salad bars. salad bars deeply affected Occidental civilization, the way Bento lunches and banana leaves affected asian cultures, allowing diffusion of dna and watts across various ecosystems.

then you showed up.

1/10/2011 12:50:00 AM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Tempo, a hero will rise....

1/10/2011 01:19:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

DK good luck that should be a lot of fun to play in the tournament! I just got my emails and saw you emailed me.

I'd say just play it straight don't worry about mind games worry about the chess game. But many would disagree with me.

1/10/2011 01:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Boykie said...

Great job! I have recently started blogging (6 months) and just got back into playing chess. I tried searching the net for suitable blogs to help me improve my game but the sites I came across weren't particularly helpful. Your list has just the types of blogs I was looking for.

Improving my chess is one of my long term goals (with a short term goal to up my rating to 1600 on chess.com by June). Please pop by and leave any suggestions/comments. Perhaps I might be considered for a future carnival (after I've completed and recorded my progress on the current goal)

Once again, thanks!

1/10/2011 04:47:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Boykie: if you have a post about chess improvement, just submit it, I'm sure we'll need content for next month. This month there were a lot of more instructional pieces and annotated games, not as much from people struggling to improve (which used to be the staple of the blogosophere).

1/10/2011 04:49:00 PM  
Blogger Tommyg said...


I think the annotated games and instructional pieces are chess improvement. I mean my little ditty with Smyslov (and the other positions I posted in November and December) are all about improvement since I am trying to learn how to deal with those things.

I think that is where some of the disconnect (if there is one) in the chess blog world is coming from. More people seem to posting games and positions. Sharing their foibles (and some successes) with other bloggers. I think that where a lot of the exchanging of ideas is coming from now. But there are some that want something along the lines of a chess journal approach that is more about the chess improvement as a topic and less about positions and games.

I am not saying either is wrong or right, or better or worse. But I do think that is why the blog world gets quiet sometimes. Just a thought.

1/10/2011 05:12:00 PM  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Tommyg: yes, annotated games are about improvement too! But we have definitely seen less of the "confessional" type of improvement blog as of late.

1/10/2011 10:17:00 PM  
Blogger katar said...

Ahh, a fresh reminder of why this was and is probably the "most-loved" chess blog. I'm surprised to be on this list, but honored. Also honored that my "enigmatic" reputation is intact.

1/12/2011 02:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Samurai said...

Great job ol' chap! Thanks for the hard work and looking forward to see more of it in the future.

1/13/2011 09:16:00 AM  

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