Friday, 26 October 2018

Classes will start Nov 2018

Dear Gambiteers,

Just wanted to do a quick update - we are ready to take orders for our t-shirts and I have a separate post that collects information about the shirt sizes. Please use that form to enter your young club member's details.

We will begin classes in Nov, took me a while to get the logistics out of the way. We have shortlisted a few venues and that should wrap up very soon. I will post the next club meeting date soon.

Thank you for your patience and looking forward to meeting all of you soon.

Let's Get Some Swag Going

One free logo t-shirt per Gambiteers young member and strictly for members already enrolled.

If you have more than one member per family, add separate entries for each member.

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Quick Update re Venue

I am very close to finalizing a proper venue for the club. I had a few rejects from school facilities since they already have chess clubs and somehow were not very interested in allowing the Gambiteers any space to use their facilities. In fact at Chadbourne I faced some unnecessary hostility by the office clerk who manages facility use. But I understand their position and no harm no foul!

I will post an update with our next club meetup very soon. With everything needed to be done, it may be the weekend after this one, just wanted to give all of you a headsup.

The good news is - I have already ordered chess sets for the club and they are on their way, t-shirt sizes for Gambiteer young champs will be needed soon so keep an eye out for a form that I will post here to collect that info.

Friday, 21 September 2018

We had our first meetup today - 9/21/2018

Thank you all for joining me for the inaugural meeting of the Gambiteers.

We had a small but enthusiastic gathering during our first meetup. There was a bit of confusion as the Fremont Library had us switch rooms at the last minute due to a scheduling conflict at their end. Hope not many of you had trouble finding the adjacent room we were situated. In case we missed you today, I apologize for the not so friendly timing of this meeting, just that the library rooms are booked way in advance for the weekends and this seemed to be a good compromise.

In this post, I will try and capture the essence of the conversation we had today.

The first meeting was just to get to know all of you, give me a chance to introduce myself and talk about basic housekeeping stuff and plan and discuss the next moves (see what I did there!)

Here are high-level topics we talked about -

 (1) Venue -

My most important next task is finding the Gambiteers a permanent spot where we can play and learn as a team and have some continuity. I am working with some local Freemont schools to explore options for using their facility after hours for the club. I will let you know of the situation once I have something concrete to share. If you have any suggestions, please reach out via our email/twitter.

(2) Swag -

I am going to get all club members a logo t-shirt, so look out for a message for shirt sizes for your tiny chess champs.

(3) Club Timing -

We discussed what were convenient times for future club sessions given most of us have full-time jobs to attend to, and kids have other commitments. The consensus was weekend afternoons and most of the hands were raised for Friday 5pm - 6pm. I will keep this time for now and we can explore either Sat or Sun 4pm-6pm as well.

(4) Parent's Presence -

We discussed another important topic - at least one parent will need to be with the kids during the club timings. We talked about younger kids may need parents to be around to feel safe and concentrate on the coaching/playing. I think everybody in attendance agreed. Pls remember, I am not licensed to care for young kids in their parent's absence and your participation is dependent on you agreeing to this requirement.

(5)  Roster Freeze -

We formally froze the roster for the club and I will soon publish the roster for FY2018-2019. Next enrollment will happen in June 2019. I will publish the final club roster soon after adding today's new signups.

(6) Training Roadmap -

My intent was to give a general direction of how we will approach training and coaching for the participants and here is at a high level what we discussed -
  • Absolute beginners - We will use tools like "No Stress Chess" and use strategies from some popular DVDs like World Champion and WGM Susan Polgar's Learn Chess In 30 Minutes, Chess For Absolute Beginners. I have a few books that have helped me teach my kids and we will draw upon those as well.
  • Intermediate players - We will build good habits -
    • Work on endgame theory, begin with basic patterns and mates and grow together in identifying and understanding more complex endings.
    • Work on tactics and combinations - This is no different than your basic multiplication tables your 3rd grader has started memorizing. The more you know and can recall, the easier it is e.g. solving mixed multiplication and division word problems. The same principles apply to chess where the more you are tactically astute, you will start seeing and solving similar problems over the board in your actual games
    • Visualization - Probably the most important of many key skills. Chess players need to visualize the next 3, 5 or sometimes 10 moves without moving the pieces. I will help young players with basic exercises that will help them see several moves in advance.
    • Endgame theory - Expand on the basics to get to around 50 key endgame positions every strong player needs to understand and master.
  • Advanced Players
    • I will go over their tournament games or pgns for any game they need to annotate or discuss.
    • Work on their opening repertoire.
    • Find common patterns in middlegames and discuss how to transition from known openings to favorable middlegame situations.
    • I can work with them on chess software like Chessbase, Komodo, and several other engines and teach how to use the silicon monsters to effectively train.

(6) Communication

I asked if it was ok to add all the parents to a common Whatsapp group so it would be easy to exchange ideas and for me to broadcast notices and topics of interest to the entire group. It could be a nice place for us to hang out and discuss ideas and issues. Everybody was on board with this idea and I am going to add all your cell numbers into a Gambiteers Whatsapp group in the next few days. 

In case you do NOT want to be part of this group, please opt out by letting me know. I do not want to spam you in case you are already overloaded with Whatsapp messages and don't want any more notifications.

This is basically the gist of our first meeting. If I missed something important, please add to comments and I will add them to the main meeting notes.

Have a good weekend!

Sunday, 16 September 2018

The Gambiteers Roster is taking shape

Dear Gambiteers,

Thank you so much for the really positive response to my call for creating a chess club.

I have now 28 kids who have signed up so far via email based on the details I asked for here.

If you are still interested in joining, please send me the details so I can add you to the list. Sending me the email also confirms that you have read the ground rules, and consent to me using the data for administrative purposes.

The signups will CLOSE and the club roster will freeze on 21st Sept 2018 after our first meetup.

Here is the list of Gambiteers so far, in the order, they have signed up.

  1. Vishnu D
  2. Tanish P
  3. Kian A
  4. Aayan S
  5. Saanvi P
  6. Samreen S
  7. Aafreen S
  8. Rian S
  9. Aniket M
  10. Shivsai S
  11. Arushi M
  12. Aneeka R
  13. Agyey U
  14. Aarav U
  15. Shaurya G
  16. Srijan K
  17. Sharmi K
  18. Vihaan S
  19. Arsh J
  20. Trisha J
  21. Daniyal S
  22. Lauren
  23. Victor K
  24. Musa H
  25. Siya R
  26. Arjun R
  27. Ashwika J
  28. Krishav J
If you have sent me the signup details and do not see your child here, please contact me via email or DM on twitter and I will take care of that. You can also use the handy contact form on the right-hand pane of this blog.

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Gambiteers Chess Club Meet #1 - Details

I am excited to announce that we will have our first meetup towards the end of this month.

If you are looking for signup info, click here.

I have booked a meeting room at the Fremont Main Library for the 21st Sept 2018 for our first meeting.


Fremont Main Library

Fukaya Room B

Time: 4:30pm to 5:30pm Friday, September 21, 2018

Location - 2400 Stevenson Blvd, Fremont, CA 94538

I want to use this first session to introduce myself, and meet all of you who are interested in joining the Gambiteers Chess Club. You can also just walk in and sign up for the club too on that day.

We will go over any questions you have and talk logistics for the next few meetings.

Add to calendar:

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Chess Knowledge - 57 Books to collect and study

Something I do a lot these days in chess is solving - which is basically solving composed chess studies. These essentially boil down to mate in x moves.

GM Andrew Soltis in “What it Takes to Become a Chess Master” says, “... Most players have an uneasy feeling about composed studies. They don’t like those ‘White to play-and-win’ positions they see in magazines because they seem artificial. Yes, most studies are artificial. But what amateurs might like about them is that the solution is usually 100 percent tactical. You don’t have to know esoteric, technical positions. Just work out the tactics. ”

“No one pretends that solving problems is going to help over-the-board play, but there is more to chess than going up (or down) a few rating points each year. Endgame studies are of help in improving tactical vision… (and) offer a painless way to learn some endgame theory.” (GM John Nunn – “Solving in Style”)

Solving helps train you to recognize patterns in real games and watch for pitfalls. However, for young players, alongside solving puzzles, a solid foundation of chess knowledge is required if they want to become any good and compete in pro tournaments.

Over the years of my studying chess, the approach to studying the game has changed a lot. Engines have become very common and a ton of DVDs are available that are excellent resources for young chess players.

I am of the firm belief that the traditional way of learning via books is still a valid method of gaining chess knowledge. I strongly believe if you digest good books by masters of chess,  you can significantly raise your ELO rating or your level of chess in general.

As part of my library, here are 57 amazing books I feel every chess player should in their lifetime, read, read again and finally chew, digest and in the end, once again read them. If the goal is to become a professional chess player, the sheer amount of amazing knowledge shared in these books is sufficient to build a good base on which new research can be added. Remember what they say about foundations - "You can't build a great building on a weak foundation. You must have a solid foundation if you're going to have a strong superstructure."

Over time in the club, I want to introduce some of these books to players as well. A few on the list are almost equivalent to chess versions of the Feynman Lectures on Physics. Most of these are probably required reading if you aspire to become a GM. Good news is, there are around 100 more books that you need to read, but I will not get into those at this moment.

I like to conceptually sort chess books under a few categories for self-study -

(1) Best Game Collections
(2) End Game Theory
(3) Tactics and Combinations
(4) Strategy and Middle Game patterns
(5) Opening Theory
(6) Philosophy of Chess

The following books fall under a few categories above but most importantly they introduce readers to the art of thinking. Not everybody will have time to read all of these, but you should pick a few to begin with (I have highlighted a dozen of my favs).

Ok enough talk, time for the list, in no particular order -

(1) The Test of Time by Garry Kasparov

(2) Move First, Think Later: Sense and Nonsense in Improving Your Chess by Wiley Hendriks

(3) Pal Benko: My Life, Games, and Compositions by Benko, Silman

(4) San Luis 2005 by Alik Gershon and Igor Nor

(5) Chess is my Life by Anatoly Karpov

(6) Tal's 100 Best Games by  Bernard Cafferty

(7) The Life & Games of Mikhail Tal by  Mikhail Tal

(8) The King: Chess Pieces by J. H. Donner

(9) From London to Elista by Bareev Evgeny and Ilya Levitov

(10) Python Strategy by Tigran Petrosian

(11) The Joys of Chess: Heroes, Battles and Brilliancies by Christian Hesse

(12) Chess Mind by Gerald Abraham

(13) Chess for Zebras: Thinking Differently about Black and White by Jonathan Rowson

(14) The Soviet Chess School by A Kotov, M Yudovich

(15) Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual by Mark Dvoretsky

(16) Practical Chess Endings by Paul Keres

(17) 100 Endgames you must know by Jesus De La Vila

(18) Endgame Strategy by Mikhail Shereshevsky

(19) Mastering the Endgame Vol 1 & 2 by MI Shereshevsky and LM Slutsky

(20) The Soviet Chess Conveyor by Mikhail Shereshevsky

(21) For Friends and Colleagues by Mark Dvoretsky

(22) Mikhail Chigorin - The Creative Genius by Jimmy Adams

(23) Capablanca by Edward Winter

(24) Lasker's Manual of Chess by Emanuel Laskar

(25) Grandmaster Chess Strategy by Jurgen Kaufeld and Guldo Kern

(26) The Stress of Chess and its infinite finesse by Walter Browne

(27) Profession Chessplayer Grandmaster at work by Vladimir Tukmakov

(28) Understanding Chess by William Lombardy

(29) Timman's Titans: My World Chess Champions by Jan Timman

(30) Creative Chess by Amatzia Avni

(31) School of Chess Excellence (Series of 4 volumes) by Mark Dvoretsky

(32) Dvoretsky's Analytical Manual by Mark Dvoretsky

(33) Pawn Structure Chess by Andrew Soltis

(34) Test and improve your chess by Lev Alburt

(35) Winning Pawn Structures by Alexander Baburin

(36) Winning Chess Middlegames by Ivan Sokolov

(37) Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy by John Watson

(38) Chess Strategy in Action by John Watson

(39) The Road to Chess Improvement by Alex Yermolinsky

Following are recommended By GM Rafael Leitão

(40) Test your chess IQ by A Livshitz

(41) Modern Chess Strategy by Ludek Pachman

(42) Test your Positional Play by Robert Bellin and Pietro Ponzetto

(43) An Opening Repertoire for White by Robert Keene

(44) Beating the Sicilian by John Nunn

(45) Najdorf for the Tournament Player by John Nunn

(46) Mastering the King's Indian Defence by Robert Bellin and Pietro Ponzetto

(47) Chess Informants by various authors

(48) My 60 memorable games by Bobby Fisher

(49) Alexander Alekhine's Best Games by Alexander Alekhine

(50) Zurich 1953 candidates tournament by David Bronstein

(51) Grandmaster Preparation by Lev Polugaevsky

(52) Secrets of Chess Training by Mark Dvoretsky

(52) Secrets of Chess Tactics by Mark Dvoretsky

(53) Think like a GrandMaster by Alexander Kotov

(54) Test your Endgame Ability by August Livshits and Jon Speelman

(55) Art of Chess Analysis by Jan Timman

(56) Secrets of Grandmaster play by John Nunn and Peter Griffiths

(57) Maneuvering The Art of Piece Play by Mark Dvoretsky