Perhaps the most important trait a player needs is a warped sense of humor.
GM Tony Miles
The first time I read there was humor in chess I was skeptical. How could it be funny a silent game that required concentration, calculation, and was usually played by quiet (and maybe also serious) people? It didn’t make sense. However, as Jonathan Rowson mentions in ‘The Seven Deadly Chess Sins’, it’s not uncommon to see players commenting and laughing about a game. But that happens afterward (or during a game, if you play in parks!).
It turns out that there might be some connection between good chess moves and games and the punchlines in jokes. It’s the magic of the unexpected, a wicked turn that catches us off guard. And we love this kind of surprise. They can have a strong appeal to our sense of humor. The more you learn and know about the game, the funnier it gets. And this can happen in all phases of the game. Even as early as in the first few movements. In March 2021, in the Magnus Carlsen Invitational, Carlsen played the Bongcloud opening (1. e4 followed by 2. Ke2), against Hikaru Nakamura. As soon as Nakamura saw the movement, he busted out laughing. He didn’t expect at all that Magnus would play such an opening in a context like that (which was closer to that of an official tournament). Watch the video of that streamed game below.
(…) “one must train oneself to look for paradoxical situations, to search for exceptions to rules and to develop concrete thinking”. I think this ‘search for paradox’ is basically a search for humour. When you think of a joke you like, I’d imagine what makes it funny is that the punchline contains something of a surprise.‘The Seven Deadly Chess Sins’, by Jonathan Rowson
The Lesson: Solving Positional Problems + French Defense
For this lesson I had to solve three positional problems Andrea had shared with me last week. The idea was to come up with my own variants and to be able to articulate why I chose a certain line. To be able to explain my line of thought. Here’s one of the positions (Black to move):
In this position there’s a thematic idea around a pin accross the column ‘d’, pointing at d4. So, the move here was Bf4. Black’s intention is to exchange the central pawns and rush his king to the center of the board. The advantage in tempi won’t be huge, but should be sufficient to bring the black king in time to the Queen’s Side and cut off the white king in the King’s Side.
This week we studied a couple more positions like this and went back to the French Defense (a favorite of both of us!).
The Weekly Practice (03/10/21 to 03/16/21)
This week I practiced two Puzzle Storms each day (my maximum ranking was 48), Lichess tactics, simplifications and mating attack exercises, and continued reading ‘The Seven Deadly Chess Sins’, by Jonathan Rowson. I practiced for around 1 hour each day, except for one day when I did just 25 minutes (the Puzzle Storms and tactics). I enjoyed starting with the two Puzzle Storms + 10 minutes of tactics on Lichess. It’s still my favorite warming up for a training session. I’m glad that even though there was one day I didn’t reach the one-hour mark I still managed to do a bit of ‘maintenance work’ with tactics and the fast puzzles.
The Games of the Week
Between March 10th and March 16th, I played 74 games. Here my rating went back to +2200. This week didn’t meet any titled player. Also, I played many games at 3+0 (3 minutes, no increment).
These are the picks of the week:
B10 Caro-Kann Defense (I tied with White)
The first game is a draw (because sometimes nobody wins or loses!). In the middle game, I won the exchange, but then I blundered twice and ended up losing my advantage. Can happen at times!
Here’s a victory:
D43 Semi-Slav Defense (I won with Black)
And a defeat:
D11 Slav Defense: Quiet Variation (I lost with White)
That’s all for now! 😊