Burn the school down!

Burn the school down! These powerful words spoken by Cliff Curtis, aka Genesis “Gen” Potini, in the movie The Dark Horse, illustrate that in chess – and in life – everything is possible and you’re allowed to be crazy from time to time. Push the pawns up, sacrifice the piece, blow up the king side. What’s the worst that can happen?

 

 

THE DARK HORSE

The Dark Horse tells the true story of the mentally ill New Zealand chess champion Genesis Potini finding his life purpose through coaching underprivileged children in chess. The film features an outstanding, award-winning performance by Cliff Curtis (Fear the walking dead, Blow, Whale Rider) who’ll be starring in James Cameron’s future Avatar sequels.

THE IMPOSSIBLE CHESS PUZZLE

Chess teaches you to open your mind, push your boundaries and think outside of the box. Moves that seem totally absurd and unreasonable at first sight can sometimes prove to be the best moves. Getting yourself in that state of mind where everything is possible is often the first step to a great idea. Every chess player, regardless of their background and level of play, is capable of creating something new in chess.

 

TheDarkHorse

 

Want to broaden your horizons and test your outside of the box thinking skills? In the impossible chess puzzle given above, white has to find a way to checkmate the black king in only 1 move. That’s right, you only have 1 move! Before you can solve this problem, the rules about pawn promotion are repeated as follows: when a pawn has reached the eighth square, the player has the option of selecting any piece of his choice excluding the king and the pawn. Hint: rereading the start of this blog post gives you a slight edge 😉

 

 

 

 

 

Why repetition is the key to your chess improvement.

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You want to improve your chess skills and wondered what’s the fastest way to do so? You’ve read chess book after chess book, played game after game, watched YouTube video after YouTube video and feel like there’s no end to this information overload in today’s digital society? Is this really the best way to learn and am I getting the results I really want? You’re not alone. As passionate chess players we all love strategy and thus we want to adopt the best strategy to accelerate our learning process and eventually our chess improvement. How can we boost our chess skills, not just winning a few games here and there but achieving a substantial and lasting gain of hundreds of rating points without spending a decade? It’s easier than you think. We’ve all heard the phrase “Repetition is the mother of all learning”. Whether you want to learn a new language, a new instrument, or maybe a new chess opening, repetition is vitally important to improve your skills. But what does that really mean? How often should you repeat? And how much time should you space out in between? Let me lead you to a deeper understanding of the power of repetition and explain you how Chessimo can help you to accelerate your chess improvement.

EXERCISING YOUR MENTAL MUSCLES

Remember the very first time you were driving a manual car. You were told to put one foot on the break, one on the clutch, turn over the key, put the car into first gear, slowly release the clutch, simultaneously start pushing the gas and yes, keep an eye on the mirrors, turn on the lights, use your indicators and ow yes, make sure everyone in your environment is safe… Are you still with me? The very start of learning something new can be overwhelming and the likelihood of screwing up a few times in the beginning is very high. Of all the information you absorb initially the first time you hear it, most of it will get lost quickly as the forgetting process starts. Now, this forgetting isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In his book How we learn, Benedict Carey explains the forgetting process can be a good thing as it allows learning to build, much like an exercised muscle.

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Just like you need to exercise your physical body repeatedly on a regular basis to create long lasting change, you need to exercise your mind over and over again until you’ve got the new learnings internalized. You repeat the same lessons until they become habitual and you don’t give them any conscious attention anymore. Are you still going through all those steps mentioned separately when driving a car now? Of course not. After repeating those steps over and over again, you’ve developed the habit of executing them automatically.

 

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REPETITION IN CHESS

Unlike with driving a car, where not following a certain frequency of repetition would result in months of struggling, endless frustrations and potentially a lot of material damage, the penalty of lack of repetition in chess is much less dramatic. No big harm is brought about but you just can’t seem to figure out why your improvement in chess is so slow after hours and hours of training?

Let’s take the example of learning chess tactics: seeing a new chess tactic for the first time is exciting and often truly fulfilling. You feel amazing as you’ve discovered something new and your awareness has expanded. But can you be sure to recognize that specific tactic in every future occurrence over the board? Have you ever had that frustrating feeling where you knew you could have found that tactic in a game of your own but for some strange reason it didn’t came up on the moment of truth? We’ve all been there. Let’s put it in proper perspective and minimize the chance of that happening again.

What it really means is that that specific tactic hasn’t been internalized profoundly enough. In order to internalize the tactic – or any other chess idea – you’d have to repeat it over and over again within specifically designed time intervals. The more you repeat the tactic, the stronger the neural connection will be in your brain, the more emotionally involved you’ll become with the tactic and the quicker you’ll recognize the tactic over the board in a real game. (You want to read more about this internalization process? Have a read through Why chess grand masters find the right move every single time.)

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ACCELERATE YOUR CHESS IMPROVEMENT THROUGH REPETITION WITH CHESSIMO

We’ve mentioned specifically designed time intervals in between repetitions are essential to optimize the learning process. But how often should you repeat? And how much time should you space out in between? Can you design your chess training sessions in such a way that whenever you learn something new, you’re sure to capture the ideas learned as quickly as you can? The answer is yes!  Hermann Ebbinghaus plotted the retention of new information over time resulting in the so-called forgetting curve and found that the best way to retain new information is by spaced repetition of the same information. This is where Chessimo’s unique repetitive design of tactical, strategical, endgame and opening exercises comes into play. By completing one unit a day, the same patterns will automatically come back within the right time frame ensuring an optimized spaced learning process and an accelerated learning experience.

How often do you use Chessimo? Can you wait for the next day to start your next training module? Let us know in the comments below!

 

 

Why chess grand masters find the right move every single time

Why is it that – during a game of chess – a grand master instantly comes up with the right tactical combination when there’s something to be found. Why is it that they come up with the right strategic plan time after time again? Even though they might take a lot of time during a game to make their moves, great moves are already generated in the very early beginning when they come up with their so-called candidate moves. What happens afterwards is that the grand master is going to rationalise why the specific moves they came up with, are good or not so good moves. Maybe they refute certain moves after further analysis but in general, the right move or best move has already come up in the very early beginning after a certain chess position arises.   

Carlsen

 

THE GRANDMASTERS’ MIND

 

Why is it that a grand master comes up with good moves, bright ideas in the first place, straight away, whereas a beginning chess player is more likely not to? We want to zoom in on the thinking process starting from the moment a position arises on the board until the different ideas, different candidate moves are generated. A chess grand master already has the right move within them. They only have to let it come to the surface and they know that. Knowing that they can find it is one thing, actually coming up with it during a game is another. Now it’s important to realise they can’t force it to come to the surface as that would work in a counterproductive way; force negates. They just let it come up naturally in a relaxed state of mind. Have you ever wondered why so many great chess players have that aura of calmness and serenity around them?

 

Chess grand masters tap into a big pool of internalised chess patterns. The bigger this pool and the deeper these patterns are rooted in the mind, the more likely they will come to the surface and the quicker they will be generated.  

 

So why is it that these great moves are already preloaded within them? Are they just lucky to be gifted with an inborn talent to come up with the right ideas? Or did they develop this ability through experience, great work ethic and the right attitude?

 

Capture

 

As Joshua Waitzkin’s quote suggests, a big part of the answer can be found in their mindset. In the first place, they have a strong belief that the right ideas will come up and thus they expect them to come up. This expectation brings them in a relaxed state of mind where everything comes naturally. Having gone through these thought processes over and over again, they have gained a deep understanding of the different steps involved in the idea generation process. In order to maximise the probability of generating great ideas, they have accumulated an extensive arsenal of chess positions that they can recognise in a fraction of a second over the board. They’ve seen the same patterns over and over again in their mind and have made that connection in their brains much like the formation of a neural network. The important part which is often missed is that they strengthen newly formed neural connections straight away by means of repeating them in their mind. They don’t allow the learnings to be lost. This is why great chess players analyse their own games, identify their mistakes and learn from them straight away after finishing their game, not letting the flaw repeat itself in their next game.

 

IMPROVE YOUR CHESS

 

In order to improve your chess, many different approaches exist and many of them are very helpful. You can play tons of games online and in tournaments. You can memorize hundreds of different opening variations. You can read a big pile of chess books on opening theory, middle game strategies and end game mastery. You can hire a chess coach who brings out the best in you and motivates you to keep going no matter what happens. All of them will help you improve in chess as you’ll be exposed to many different chess positions during those practices and thus increasing the area of your own pool of chess patterns. However, more often than not, the improvements made are of a temporary nature. With periods of less frequent practice passing by, the chess concepts, once clearly understood, appear to be found only after a long quest in the dusty recesses of our minds. The result is that hours of training in which the same lessons have to be learned once again have to be spent to familiarise oneself again with those concepts. In other words, the pool of chess patterns has grown very wide, but the chess patterns haven’t been internalised yet. What would it be like if we could reduce those periods of re-learning? If we could eliminate those frustrations of having to delve up those lessons we’ve already studied so many times? Chessimo’s training modules are designed in such a way that the chess patterns accumulated during a training session are internalised immediately by means of the repetitive design of the modules. In other words, with each Chessimo training session, the pool of chess patterns not only grows in size, but the chess patterns studied will be internalised and rooted straight away through constant spaced repetition of the same chess patterns. Chessimo will give you results that stick. In this way the likelihood of recognising chess patterns when being faced with a chess problem in a real game is maximised. We want to build and grow our pool of internal chess positions to such an extent that it becomes more and more easy to recognise the chess pattern arising on the board.

 

Chess grand masters tap into a big pool of internalised chess patterns. The bigger this pool and the deeper these patterns are rooted in the mind, the more likely they will come to the surface and the quicker they will be generated. By using Chessimo on a daily basis, you will build your own pool of internalised chess patterns, growing it day after day, giving you results that stick.  

 

How much has your pool of chess patterns grown by using Chessimo? Leave us a message in the comments!

 

Play Together, Have Fun Together – Part 2

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We recently talked to one of our partners from Schachclub Vaterstetten-Grasbrunn and co-organizer of the Chessimo Cups. An interesting conversation about his love for chess, the game’s benefits for young people and an unusual concept for tournaments, part two:

Could you elaborate on your concept of competitions for amateurs and youths?

First of all, it it probably important to mention that we capped the DWZ (German ELO) at 1500, because players who are better than that have plenty of opportunities to compete in events. It was important to us to focus on amateur chess in the broadest sense, such as tournaments where children play adults and where people can compete, even though they might only have discovered chess late in life. So the motto of the Chessimo Cups is: play chess together, have fun together.

Our concept, initially developed by Dr. Konrad Müller, consists of two parts: the youths championship goes up to age eleven and a DWZ of 1000. This limit ensures that the competing children play at a similar level and have a real chance of winning – which makes them significantly more motivated! The second approach is an amateur cup and involves a system with groups of four, meaning four players at a single table, who play each other. These groups are organized in a similar manner to ensure equal opportunity and prevent matches from already being decided before they have even begun.

Another aspect that’s special about this: all of the games are played in a single day. Time-wise, it does not only ease the load on parents, but also provides the players with the opportunity to play multiple matches in a day – that’s quite different from other tournaments.

In the end, how did you come to partner up with Chessimo?

That’s because I’ve had a lot of positive experiences with Chessimo. After downloading the app in spring 2015 I came to an agreement with my daughter while we were on vacation: “for every minute that you play chess on Chessimo, you get to watch a minute of Minecraft Let’s Play videos” – which was a big deal to her at the time (laughs). The result: 90 minutes of practice time each day and more than a 1000 completed problems. When we got back home, she beat two of our top boys – which right away got people to question me about the contents of her breakfast.

I think repetition-based system that Chessimo is built on is ideal. The point being: if you have learned mate in one, the mate in two is going to involve the previously learned mate in one. I am convinced that learning through repetition is an ability that is taught less or even actively unlearned in elementary school nowadays, even though children still need it. Chessimo helps them acquire this skill while having fun at the same time!

If you look for chess apps, you‘ll mostly find apps that are only suited for either play or analysis. If you do manage to find an app to practice with, it’s often going to be targeted at a very narrow audience. Chessimo is not only suited for children or beginners, but also for experienced players, thanks to the different levels of difficulty. All of these positive aspects lead me to try and establish a partnership with Chessimo and thereby link two parts that really haven’t been linked too much in chess: online and offline.

…which we at Chessimo are very happy about, of course. Thank you very much for the conversation, Mr. Schmitt!

Play Together, Have Fun Together – Part 1

Matthias Schmitt

We recently talked to one of our partners from Schachclub Vaterstetten-Grasbrunn and co-organizer of the Chessimo Chess Cups. An interesting conversation about his love for chess, the game’s benefits for young people and an unusual concept for tournaments, part one:

Mr. Schmitt, to start off with, a question that is almost obligatory: how did you come to play chess?

I’ve got to admit that I really was a late bloomer in that regard. Even though I had already been curious as a child and  had tried to teach myself to play chess with a manual from a collection of board games, I had failed in this endeavor and subsequently lost interest. When my daughter discovered her own love for chess five years ago, she kept improving her skills at a local community college (in a class that was taught by a member of the Vaterstetten-Grasbrunn chess club, by the way) and then pushed me to get back into it. We spent a lot of time together during that period and I turned from an eager player into a huge fan of the game. That is mostly due to the remarkable and positive developments that can be seen in children who play chess – not just for school, but for life in general.

The crucial effect that I have noticed not just with my daughter, but other children as well, is that their level of concentration in school is much higher. Thanks to this concentration, they absorb the subject matter immediately and can cut the time needed for homework in half. More time for more pleasurable things is an added bonus, of course. I can tell you about children whose performance in school became much better when they started playing chess. This was also confirmed by a study that was conducted at Trier-Olewig elementary school.

What other positive impacts can be seen in children and youths who play chess?

Longer games improve the ability to concentrate as well. They teach children how to focus on one thing for hours on end. Self-esteem also plays a big role, especially for the girls. What could possibly be better at this age than beating the boys? (laughs)

The positive social aspect that players solidify by taking part in classes or tournaments should not be ignored either. Children play against adults with the same skill-level in our club and that teaches them how to get along with people of all ages and heritage. Competing in events like the Bavarian Championship, team competitions or a chess summer camp builds a strong sense of community and positive relationships. That’s something that many people have lost sight of: chess is often a team sport!

Does the Vaterstetten-Grasbrunn chess club specifically foster children and youths?

Exactly! That’s why our club is one of the few to have a paid volunteer who teaches chess in local schools. The costs are completely covered by the club, since we’re convinced that anyone who’s interested in the game should have the chance to join a workshop.

That’s also why children can join our club for only 9€ per year. We thereby make sure that anybody can afford a membership, no matter their financial background. That fee does not only cover regular events and training, but we also pay their starting fee for external competitions.

Time for real opponents!

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Have you heard of Chessimo Play yet?

Our app on Facebook lets you test your chess skills in real matches! Whether it’s real time or correspondence chess – play against opponents from around the world or invite friends to a challenge online!

In case you don’t have a Facebook account: don’t worry, you don’t need one to use Chessimo!

Click here and try it out now!

New Chessimo app for iOS

iOS

It’s finally here: as of today, the new and optimized Chessimo app for iOS will be available on the App Store.

And there’s good news for all existing users: you can conveniently transfer your TRAIN status onto our platform via an update and won’t lose anything when you make the switch to the new version.

But hold on, there’s more: as a cherry on top, we’ll cut you a deal and make Chessimo available for only 7,99€ for the first two weeks.

Have fun! We’re looking forward to your feedback.

It’s finally available: Chessimo for Android

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We heard you: since the iOS-Version of Chessimo has been enchanting our loyal users all over the world, 8×8 Media AG is finally releasing the popular chess academy for Android!

It’s not just about the brand new design and running Stockfish, one of the strongest chess softwares out there. We are especially excited about the new sync-feature which makes sure that you can use Chessimo on all platforms (iOS, Android, Web) and devices alike!

Of course our new version will also include the features TRAIN, CHECK, and PLAY, offering you the same variety of functions as our iOS app.

The unique method of feedback and efficient learning techniques as well as the dynamically adapting AI opponent complete the package and make Chessimo the ideal companion for anyone who’s looking to improve their game.

Become part of the Chessimo community and get our app right here!

Caruana Prevails At Sparkassen Chess Meeting in Dortmund, Germany

Sparkassen Chess Meeting

Source: http://www.sparkassen-chess-meeting.de

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The city of Dortmund in Germany was stage to the Sparkassen Chess Meeting from June 27 to July 5 2015. The tournament is one of Germany’s best cast chess events that had eight participants this year:

  • Former world champion Vladimir Kramnik who has participated in this even for twenty-three years and won ten times. The forty year-old Russian currently ranks 8th in worldwide standings and is considered one of the most experienced players in the world.
  • Fabiano Caruana, who did not only come off winner last at last year’s edition but also prevailed in 2012. At an age of nineteen he caused a stir back then when winning the tournament for the first time. Caruana currently holds an ELO of 2797 points.
  • German player Arkadij Naiditsch who also won the Sparkassen Chess Meeting at the age of nineteen. This sensational victory happened ten years ago when he managed to defeat chess professionals like Kramnik, Topalov, and Adams. By the way, the exceptionally talented player beat world champion Magnus Carlsen twice.
  • Georg Meier, who is third best German player and contributed majorly to Germany’s victory at the European Team Championship 2011. It’s his fifth time to compete at the Sparkassen Chess Meeting at which came off second last year after defeating Kramnik.
  • Women’s world champion Hou Yifan participated for the first time this year. She is a prodigy and as the strongest female chess player in the world, she was by no means an easy opponent at the event. The twenty-two year old was world champion three times already and is a serious challenge even to experienced grandmasters.
  • Ian Neopmniachtschi competed in the 2008 edition of the tournament and came off second at that time. His victory at this year’s edition of the well-known Aeroflot Open in Moscow qualified him for participating in Dortmund. “Nepo” was considered favorite player for the overall victory, as he has severely gained in playing strength recently.
  • German-Rumanian player Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu looks back on a long history of chess expertise. When other players competing at the Sparkassen Chess Meeting were still in diapers, he had already been announced Rumanian Champion and even made it to semi-finals in 1999’s world championship. The former European champion transferred from Russia to the German Chess Federation in 2014 where he currently ranks second.
  • Philippine player Wesley So is persistently one of the world’s Top Ten players (currently rank seven) and has supported the American team since 2014. He became grandmaster at only fourteen years old and was also considered one of the event’s favorite players which he impressively proved with victories over Caruana and Nepomniachtschi.

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Final Results

 Sparkassen Chess Meeting

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Individual Results. Rounds 1 through 7
Round 1. June 27, 2015. 3 p.m.
Nepomniachtchi, Ian 2720
½-½
Caruana, Fabiano 2805
Meier, Georg 2654
½-½
Hou, Yifan 2676
Kramnik, Vladimir 2783
0-1
Naiditsch, Arkadij 2722
Nisipeanu, Liviu-Dieter 2654
1-0
So, Wesley 2778
Round 2. June 28, 2015. 3p.m.
Caruana, Fabiano 2805 0-1 So, Wesley 2778
Naiditsch, Arkadij 2722 0-1 Nisipeanu, Liviu-Dieter 2654
Hou, Yifan 2676 0-1 Kramnik, Vladimir 2783
Nepomniachtchi, Ian 2720 ½-½ Meier, Georg 2654
Round 3. June 30, 2015. 3 p.m.
Meier, Georg 2654 0-1 Caruana, Fabiano 2805
Kramnik, Vladimir 2783 1-0 Nepomniachtchi, Ian 2720
Nisipeanu, Liviu-Dieter 2654 ½-½ Hou, Yifan 2676
So, Wesley 2778 0-1 Naiditsch, Arkadij 2722
Round 4. July 1, 2015. 3 p.m.
Caruana, Fabiano 2805 1-0 Naiditsch, Arkadij 2722
Hou, Yifan 2676 ½-½ So, Wesley 2778
Nepomniachtchi, Ian 2720 ½-½ Nisipeanu, Liviu-Dieter 2654
Meier, Georg 2654 0-1 Kramnik, Vladimir 2783
Round 5. July 3, 2015. 3 p.m.
Kramnik, Vladimir 2783 0-1 Caruana, Fabiano 2805
Nisipeanu, Liviu-Dieter 2654 ½-½ Meier, Georg 2654
So, Wesley 2778 1-0 Nepomniachtchi, Ian 2720
Naiditsch, Arkadij 2722 ½-½ Hou, Yifan 2676
Round 6. July 4, 2015. 3 p.m.
Caruana, Fabiano 2805 1-0 Hou, Yifan 2676
Nepomniachtchi, Ian 2720 1-0 Naiditsch, Arkadij 2722
Meier, Georg 2654 ½-½ So, Wesley 2778
Kramnik, Vladimir 2783 ½-½ Nisipeanu, Liviu-Dieter 2654
Round 7. July 1, 2015. 1 p.m.
Nisipeanu, Liviu-Dieter 2654 0-1 Caruana, Fabiano 2805
So, Wesley 2778 1-0 Kramnik, Vladimir 2783
Naiditsch, Arkadij 2722 ½-½ Meier, Georg 2654
Hou, Yifan 2676 ½-½ Nepomniachtchi, Ian 2720

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Caruana won this tournament all over again and left the other participants at a 1.5 point advantage behind.

Find game sheets and pictures on the official tournament website.

written by Sarah, translated by Birthe