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Play Taller Chess

The people of the Western nations are growing fat. Ask anybody! Look at any news source and you'll learn that there is an obesity epidemic that threatens the health and beauty of an entire generation. As a consequence we are being besieged by diet plans and weight-loss programs designed to give us leaner bodies and lighter bank accounts.

It's all a crock! You don't need to lose weight to have a beautiful, athletic body. You can stay at whatever weight feels comfortable to you. All you need to do to improve your appearance is to grow taller.

And if you want to win more chess games you can do it without investing hours of study in a study program. You only have to play taller chess.

Here's how it works.

USE AN UNUSUAL OPENING

We tend to fall into comfort zones with our openings. Some people always answer 1.e4 with the Sicilian, or meet 1.d4 with a Nimzo-Indian, and so on. Those are openings we're familiar but the catch is, our opponents are familiar with them too so, in Tall Chess, we have to take them somewhere they're not used to playing.

If your opponent plays 1.e4 why not astound him with 1...a6?

That's what Tony Miles did to World Champion, Anatoly Karpov during the European Teams Championship in 1980. Karpov probably wondered if Miles had forgotten his medication and Miles himself commented afterwards that it caused a fair amount of amusement in the playing hall—but he won the game and later named the opening the St. George. It's the ultimate in tall openings.

 

 

  

AVOID JUNIORS

The problem with juniors is that, although they may have short legs, they're the fastest improving players in the game. Yesterday's easy-beat may well be today's nemesis.

It's not just wood pushers like me who need to be careful of them—a good junior is capable of biting anybody's chess ankle.

In the 2005 NSW Open, 14 year-old Canberra junior Junta Ikeda, defeated GM Ian Rogers. The game score isn't available but Junta won on time (it was actually Rogers who drew his attention to the clock). The following year he went on to win the Australian Lightning Championship. No matter what his stature may be, he's too tall for me.

Then, of course, there was Arianne Caoili's remarkable victory over GM Vladimir Epishin when she was also fourteen. Since I've already written about that game under Upsetting a Grandmaster elsewhere in this blog, I won't repeat it here. (Epishin offered a pseudo-sacrifice of his queen which Arianne was happy to take—but not in the way he envisaged.) If you haven't seen the game, do click on the link. You'll enjoy her rebuttal.

IF ALL ELSE FAILS—CHEAT

There are slower ways than cheating to improve your chess rating but you have to be careful not to get caught.

Umakant Sharma, an Indian chess player, had performed at a steady 1900 level for many years. Then suddenly his rating climbed to 2484 after a series of tournament successes. A spot search revealed that he was using a Bluetooth stitched into his cap. He copped a lengthy ban and now has ten years in the wilderness to contemplate his folly.

At least, he was caught cheating at the board: nobody accused him, as Topalov accused Kramnik, of going into the lavatory to conjure up his genie.

INTIMIDATE YOUR OPPONENT

Did you see Erik's David Beckham impersonation for Halloween last year? Check out this pic. Mrs Erik must have spent hours working on him, but I swear that if an opponent rolled up his sleeves to reveal that much tattooing and sat opposite me flexing his muscles, I'd be wondering whether it was safe to beat him. It's reminiscent of the chess game between Chewbacca and C3PO when Han Solo pointed out that it might be dangerous to win.

If you didn't want to go as far as Erik you might just like to settle on a simple L-O-V-E / H-A-T-E across your knuckles. I'm sure that, if you tapped your fingers beside the board, it could be used just as effectively.

One opponent I found off-putting was a woman in the U1600 division of the 2008 Australian Championship. Every time I made a strong move, she'd hiss. It was a loud exhalation of breath that was probably the chess equivalent of the Sharapova shriek. Maybe she was trying to blow my pieces onto more favourable squares.

PLAY BORING CHESS

Henry Thomas Buckle once said that “the slowness of genius is hard to bear but the slowness of mediocrity is intolerable”. If I can borrow that idea from Henry one of my current games is against Mr Mediocre Man. For our first game-and-a-half he played normal chess then, when I won a piece in the second game, he slowed down; now he won't make a move until he has only a few hours on his clock. On this basis it's going to take nine days just to relocate my bishop to a more effective square and, since I'm going on vacation in six weeks, the game may well continue right through autumn—well, spring to you Northerners.

Playing slowly is his right, of course, but a reasonable request to check for conditional moves before logging out was met with a peremptory, “Negative!”

It's a valid tactic and against an impatient opponent can result in unforced errors, because not everybody is psychologically equipped to play against such an opponent. Personally I have more patience than a hospital and, besides, I've been sticking pins in a voodoo doll that bears his name. It reminds me of something that Dorothy Parker almost said: Beauty is only skin deep, but boring goes right to the bone.

So you don't need to play better chess to win more games. Step outside the box and play "taller" chess. Change your style and do the unexpected—then cross your fingers and hope for the best!

Comments


  • 4 years ago

    Dozy

    WaterAlch: it seems rather underhanded, personally

    I gotta confess it's all meant to be taken with a pinch of salt. I'd hate anybody to take this blog seriously. One guy complained that "Never miss a check, it might be mate" was bad advice. He had that right, but I didn't think he'd take it at face value.

    On the other hand, the guy I mentioned under "Boring Chess" is still playing games and hoping I'll blunder. I think he takes the game a little too seriously.

  • 4 years ago

    WaterAlch

    Ha, i've actually seen this blog before meeting you. Quite nice :)

    Definitely intruiging ideas. Though for myself, although tactically (or logically, not sure what word matters here) it might benefit to play psychological mind games, it seems rather underhanded, personally.

    I'd feel more prone to trying though were I met with someone I have an absolute craving to win against, or am already a clear underdog of the game.

  • 4 years ago

    Dozy

    FromRussiaWithLove: Nice work, love it..

    Thanks, FRWL. That first tournament game of ours was a pretty tall one. Nice attack, by the way.

  • 4 years ago

    FromRussiaWithLove

    Nice work, love it..

  • 4 years ago

    Dozy

    White Phoenix: An excellent post as always Dozy!! BTW have you ever thought of publishing your articles to some sort of chess magazine, maybe you can publish it to the junior chess magazine (NSWJCL)?

    Thank you, Sir Phoenix. You're uncommonly kind.

    Nope, I've never thought of publishing them anywhere, I doubt if they have enough meat in them. They're only intended to be fun. They're also more suited to on-line publication with the option of an e-board to play through the games.

    On the other hand I tried an experiment at the end of October with Sex Appeal at the Chessboard which, of course, had absolutely nothing to do with sex, or sex appeal, but was about using the queen. Surprising to me I had a request to publish from Latest Chess, a leading Indian website, and it appears on their current front page in some very flattering company.

    So, I have no objection to my stories being reproduced anywhere, as long as there's an acknowledgment of authorship and a link back to Dozy's Inferno.

  • 4 years ago

    White_Phoenix

    An excellent post as always Dozy!! BTW have you ever thought of publishing your articles to some sort of chess magazine, maybe you can publish it to the junior chess magazine (NSWJCL)?

  • 4 years ago

    Dozy

    kyska00: I realize that it is not ethical (but who needs ethics).

    In a junior tournament in Oz (I think it was in Brisbane) a couple of years ago one kid realised his opponent -- a personal friend -- had not switched off his mobile phone. He arranged for another friend to step outside and dial the number so that he could win by disqualification. I suppose it was legal but I wonder how long the two remained friends?

    I would suggest not bathing for days, but I have seen this tactic used by many chessplayers before.

    One of Sydney's more prolific chess players qualifies for this one. He's quite a strong player and when I needed a picture of one of our FMs for the club web page the best one I had was a pic I'd taken of him playing Mr Prolific. Knowing that the FM was repulsed by this guy's personal hygiene I photoshopped him out and left our guy playing an invisible opponent.

    NinjaBea / promotetopawn:  Thanks for commenting.

  • 4 years ago

    kyska00

    Dozy I can see that sticking pins in a voodoo doll while sitting opposite my opponent would constitute intimidation, but is it legal? I realize that it is not ethical (but who needs ethics). Also I know that chanting obscure latin verses is against the rules so I cannot do that. Are hand gestures (except the usual obscene ones) legal?

    How about eating loudly and messily. Chomping crackers (most of which stay in my mouth) and slurping soda.

    I would suggest not bathing for days, but I have seen this tactic used by many chessplayers before.

  • 4 years ago

    promote2pawn

    thanx

  • 4 years ago

    NinjaBear

    I've played that opening before: a6 b5 Bb7

  • 4 years ago

    coug1031

    Nice Read Dozy. Thanks. Cool

  • 4 years ago

    Dozy

    polleke:  Thanks for the good read!

    Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for the comment.

    Aduleton:  great article i liked it a lot lets play one tall game !!

    Always happy to accept a challenge, Aduleton. I'll do that as soon as I finish updating here.

    SonofPearl: @ Dozy - have you tried posting a bug report about your trouble with posting games?  I had problems briefly when the wizard to post games was updated a while back, but it seems to work ok for me now.

    Thanks for your help, SoP. That's good now. My first thought when I came on line this morning was to experiment with the pgn display and try to get it to work properly but you saved me the effort. It's appreciated.

    I've been having problems posting games for about two months. I put in a bug report after about three weeks but nothing was found. Until this week I was able to post the games successfully by switching from Firefox to Safari, but this time that didn't work either.

    I've always used the latest version of Firefox and am currently using version 3.5.7.

    A point of interest that you may not have noticed (and I didn't notice till yesterday). In copying a post from a word processor (I use Star Open Office but I understand the same thing happens with MS Office) to the blog, a line or two of formatting is placed at the head of the post. In  Firefox that formatting doesn't show up until the  blog is either previewed or submitted. No problem, it's easy to erase. What I discovered yesterday is that by posting with Safari I was able to see it immediately and erase it before previewing. A small matter, but convenient.

    On the other hand, for some reason the font in this post was too small to be read comfortably (see marvellosity's comment below) and I had to adjust it later.

    Gremlins!

  • 4 years ago

    Aduleten

    great article i liked it a lot lets play one tall game !!

  • 4 years ago

    SonofPearl

    @ Dozy - have you tried posting a bug report about your trouble with posting games?  I had problems briefly when the wizard to post games was updated a while back, but it seems to work ok for me now.

    I edited your post (and the replayable board) without changing anything, then just reposted and it now looks ok. Smile

    P.S. I'm using Firefox 3.5.

  • 4 years ago

    Dozy

    Fishes:  He then moved, while I was wondering if he could see inside my soul, and completely forgot what I was doing. I think the game ended in a draw...ah well, not the point.

    Not the point?  Fishes, that's sheer poetry and very much in keeping with my idea. Thanks for the kind words.

  • 4 years ago

    Dozy

    nqi: I'm going to try these!

    You're living dangerously, nqi. Me too. They'll probably ban you for cheating and me as an accessory before the fact. Frown

  • 4 years ago

    Dozy

    Gert-Jan:  Sometimes when I am bored during a game I will slow down myself because I am afraid that I am so bored that I will make a move without looking carefully.

    A reasonable tactic, and a valid one. We're all entitled to use all the time at our disposal and I've no problem with that. I do have a problem with people who get into a lost position and slow things down vindictively.

    Trying to unsettle your opponent is also valid but, where I come from, it ain't friendly. Smile

  • 4 years ago

    Dozy

    kyska00: I will try to carry out your suggestions, but my opponents keep playing good moves.

    Don't forget the voodoo doll.

  • 4 years ago

    Dozy

    marvellosity: Too tiny to read!

    Useful feedback. Thanks. I don't think I did anything differently than usual but have increased the font size.

  • 4 years ago

    Fishes

    Awesome blog. I definitely want to try the intimidation factor, maybe come in with a hockey goalie mask on with some 'blood' striped across and just say 'sorry, I just came from a game, and someone threw a punch at me.' I don't think they'll be feeling very safe after that :D!

    As for boring chess, I only play casually (a tournament every here and there) but during one tournament I was winning (only barely) and my opponent just stared at me for what felt like days (but was really an hour). He then moved, while I was wondering if he could see inside my soul, and completely forgot what I was doing. I think the game ended in a draw...ah well, not the point.

    Again great blog.

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