Post Round Analysis At The State Championships!?!

I’ve been conducting post round analysis for Virginia Scholastic tournaments and championships for 11 years. This year it was my job to collect games for the VA bi monthly newsletter. After having surgery in August, I was in no mood to play or direct so I decided that I’d do post round analysis for the amateur and novice sections.

A recent article by Women’s Grand Master and 2 time Czech Women’s Champion Katerina Nemcova,

“Katerina’s Seven Tips For Effective Preparation For OTB Tournaments”, see Chess Life August 2021, pages 33 and 34 seemed like a must read, especially when preparing to play in a “heritage event like the 84th VA Closed! I had my issue of the magazine with me and continually asked the participants if they had read the article. The answer I got 100% of the time was no!?! I was in disbelief! As a coach, I had read this article word for word to all of my students and to some parents before this event. So then I started asking how many books they had read and if they were being coached.

Trying to get better exclusively by using online tools and coaches is the weakest link!!!

Come to find out 75% of them had not opened even 1 book to get ready for the championship. They been solving on line puzzles, playing Blitz, and watching videos. That threw me for a loop when I also discovered nearly half of them had online coaches.

It’s not the blind leading the blind! It’s the greedy leading the needy!

The next thing I noticed was how fast they were finishing their games and how unaffected some of them seem to be by the result they had gotten. When I asked about their online activity, I was hearing ratings of 1500 blitz, 1300 Bullet, Puzzle Rush scores in the high 20’s and 30’s. Even with this level of activity, the quality of the scoresheets left a lot to be desired. I thought it was because some of them were in their 1st tournament, but I was wrong on that assumption. I was getting inaccurate and incomplete scoresheets from people that were bragging about having played for years!?!

Online chess sites are in the, “fun” businesses.

Since the pandemic, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of people playing chess! Since they couldn’t play over the board, they have to play online. Chess, whether anyone wants to admit it or not, is an industry. As with any industry, there are people that give great service and people that give terrible service. One of the biggest mistakes I see parents making is they think chess instruction is a commodity!

What should you ask to protect yourself?

If you want to get a quality coach, here are some question to ask;

1.) What is your US Chess Membership #? 2.) How long have you been coaching chess? 3.) Are you licensed and Insured? If yes, What is the name of your company and what states are you licensed in? 4.) What is the name of your US Chess Affiliate? 5.) What is the age requirement for becoming a US Chess Certified Coach? 6.) What is the age requirement for becoming a Certified Tournament Director? 7.) What qualification do you use for endorsing US Chess Certified Coaches? 8.) What is the age requirement for being a US Chess Affiliate? 9.) What is the minimum age required to coach for you? 10.) What is the measure of success you use for your students? 11.) Are you a for profit or a non profit organization? 12.) What is the age requirement for a business license? 13.) What is the age requirement for going to college? 14.) What is the highest rating one of your students has achieved? 15.) How many teams have you coached at any one time? 16.) Do you have your own chess club? 17.) Do you sponsor tournaments? 18.) Have you authored any books? 19.) Do you write for any publications? 20.) Is your coaching staff required to have background checks?

If the only place they have ever been is on line, virtual is also the only type of Improvement you will see!

The 1st question will tell you a great deal about the person offering lessons or coaching. Lesson and coaching are not the same. Once you have their membership # you can find the truth about them at, There you can see their membership status, tournament history, norms performance/category, whether they are a tournament director, their peak rating, and career statistics. To see if they are a Certified Coach visit, There are people asking $25.00-$75.00 per hour that won’t even know what you are talking about or why you are asking so many questions!!! Just remember they are a business… If they don’t know the answer, don’t know what you mean, or ask why do you need to know that, move on to the next organization.

You have to start, “Right” not “Somewhere”

Everyone knows that when it come to following grandmaster advice, interpreting the results of the surveys that have been done on chess, and using chess to bolster school applications, college applications, and resumes, I am unrelenting and uncompromising!!! It was disheartening to watch players tell me they were playing the Sicilian and have no idea that …a6, …b5, Rc3, Re8, or Bh8 were all moves of standard consideration. I watched and listened as coached players tried to explain why they had played 2. d3 or 2. Nf3 instead of 2. d4 in response to the French, Caro, Modern, and Pirc. I saw games where they took on d4 in the Scotch, and moved both the e and g or the b and d pawns when fianchettoing. Too Many of the players I met were still missing 3, 2, and even 1 move blunders by their opponents because they were still stuck in the, “you take me, I’m going to take you back” mentality! Many parents and coaches just don’t realize that the longer it takes to get the kids thinking right about chess, the closer the kids get to putting the game on the shelf. They’re kids not adults!! They’ve actually told me, “If I haven’t learned how to play after spending, “all this time” it’s going to take forever to fix my game!” I don’t know who’s fault that is, I just know it’s preventable. As I’ve said for years… sooner or later if you stay with chess long enough, you are going to realize that tournaments are the only way to the benefits you were seeking. When you go up to that nice, friendly, polite, and professional clock watching coach that you’ve been paying for a year or 2 and ask them why they never stressed going to tournaments, they will say, “You never said you were interested in tournaments… we had to start somewhere?!” What that always means whether it’s chess or some other endeavor is, they got paid, and you got nowhere!!!

Yes, I’ve got openings! Call Coach Mike @ 804-426-6058!

Rapid Tactical Improvement… How and When to Pick Your Puzzles

As I explained, I’m letting the secrets out in no specific order. Today’s subject is picking the right kind of puzzles to solve. When you go to a site or a book, there are 56 themes that you can choose from to study!?! (Strange) On of those 56, 8 are for checkmates. There are basic, advanced, mating net, smothered mate and then mate in 1, 2, 3, and 4. Over complication and over simplification are 2 of the biggest challenges when trying to teach chess, so please forgive me as I do a little of both depending upon your skill, experience, and strength!?

This is supposed to be a beginner book

Image 1 - Encyclopedia of Middlegame, Vol. IV, chess software

This is supposed to be intermediate and advanced

Advanced Chess Tactics by Lev Psakhis chess book

This is supposed to be advanced

With their being more chess books than any other kind of book in the world, there are still a couple every player needs to have in their library. 5334 tops my list because the book is a reflection of the owner, not the author!?! When one of those people who’ve never read a chess book cover to cover in their life say’s, ” it’s a beginners book”, ask them as if you know, ” So how many errors did YOU find in the 600 games section!?” By the way, if you want to know how many, which ones, and the corrections, contact Coach Mike for a copy! Asking what books a chess player has read cover to cover should be one of the primary questions you ask and get answered before you ever accept chess advice from anyone!!!

1st we need to talk about the goals and how choosing the right puzzles gets us the most the fastest. The primary purpose of puzzles is to improve visualization. The problem we all have is keeping the imaginary future position clear enough in our heads to determine if the course of action we are considering is desirable! Giving players of all strengths 56 themes at once is one of the most rediculous and overwhelming training concepts I’ve ever seen. After visualization what is the most desirable characteristic that will automatically improve your tactical ability? I’m sure my answer will be enlightening and agreeable to players of every strength. To become good at combinations and to add length, surprise, and stealth to your attacks and intentions, you must desensitize yourself to material!!! A few examples;

There are players that will never solve this puzzle because they keep looking at 1…b6-f2!! and saying, ” That’s stupid, they’ll just take my queen?!” After 1… b6-f2!! white will be checkmated whether they accept the queen or not!

Fischer vs Spassky Game 28 1972

World Champions have no material sensitivity at all!! Fischer had just played 18. c3-d5! If Spassky takes the knight with either pawn white gets the advantage! He played 18…e7-g5! and the game ended in a draw!

White chose h2-h4! over g2-g3 because opening the h file is decisive and black must avoid it at all costs!!

In the midst of complications you better be desensitized!! The game continued 17. h2-h4! f5-f4 18. h4-h5! c8-f5 19. 0–0–0 b8-d7! 20. g2-g4! f4-e3 21. d2-e3 d7-c5! 22. g4-f5 c5-b3 23. a2-b3 g6xf5 24. h5-h6 g7-f6 25. g5-e6 +-

So, how do we the select the types of puzzles that will prepare us for consistent superior play? By understanding what the game is about. The game of chess is about checkmate! Beginners and intermediates will tell you that it’s about winning enough material to eventually turn your attention towards the king. Just because that’s all you know how to do, doesn’t make that what the game is all about! When you reach the advanced, expert, and master levels, all of them will tell you that virtually everything is more important than material!! Everything!! So here is the secret: You will improve your visualization and future position imagery faster by learning how to chase, protect, and trap the king!! Chasing the king will teach you the other 48 themes, but learning the other 48 themes will not make you efficient at chasing, protecting, or trapping the king!! Why? Because all the other pieces have 4 choices and the king only has 3!?! the pieces have run, take, block, or sit there. The king only has run, take, or block. Learning to chase, protect, and trap the king is the fastest way to learn what causes the other pieces to not be able to just sit there!!!

Checkmate puzzles have another unique advantage that can not be gotten from solving other types of puzzles. Checkmate puzzles anchor better because there is no wondering if you would have won or had the ability to win after you get the correct answer. “And white went on to win”, or “and black went on to win”, or “and the rest is a matter of technique”, robs the student of verification and closure.

Checkmate puzzles teach defense and playing with imbalances!! All the books out there are teaching how to attack. Less than 5% of the books out there teach anything about defense at all!! Puzzle books that have errors are a great way to learn defense. The errors in books published before they verified with engines is as high as 25% and 33%! Don’t let that discourage you. The correct and the incorrect solutions are both instructive! Today’s tournaments are mostly Swisses. Look at the following examples and tell me whether the player should resign or fight their way out;

White to play

This is number 4464 in the 5334 book. The solution given was 20. f1-f6! g7-f6 21. b2-f6 resigns. I picked this example because it shows how impatience, material sensitivity, and aesthetics can make errors look beautiful and instructive!?! One of the biggest lessons you can learn from checkmate puzzles is to throw away your, “you take me I’m going to take you back” mentality!! That’s checkers not chess. lol

Black had to refuse that sacrifice with 20…d5-d4! 21. f6-f2 b7-c8 22. d2-e2 c8-e6 23. b2-c1 d4-d3 24. e2-h5 e6-c4±

Should black resign? Not a chance!!

The last step is to put the puzzle into an analysis engine. When I did that with this puzzle I found that 20. f1-f6?? is a blunder!! There are 3 better moves… 20. b2-f6!!, 20. e4-d5!, and 20. c4-d5.

Now black has to take or face certain death!

20. b2-f6! g7-f6 21. e4-d5 d8-d6 22. f1–f5 c7-d8 23. g2-e4! The cage is opened and there just isn’t any way to prevent a robbery! This bishop coming into the game from g2 always ads intensity to the attack. 23…g8-g7 24. f5-h5 f6-f5 25. e4-f5 h7-h6 26. f5-e6!!+-

Need I say more!?! Wow!!

You’ll have to check out the other 2 moves on your own. Our next example came from The Philadelphia Inquirer! My mom used to clip the puzzle and game every Sunday and send them to me when I was in the Air Force. I nicknamed this one, “The Junk Yard Dog”

The Junkyard Dog!

The newspaper’s solution was 1…h4-h3?! 2. f5-e3?? b7-g2 3. d1–g4 h3-g4 4. e3-g4 g2-f1 5. g1-f1 f4-e6–+ That’s a nice smash and grab! Black is up a pawn and an exchange.

Can’t quit. Gotta play…Right!?

The fun comes again in never believing the solution!?! Black went in guns a blazing with 1… h4-h3?! but if white had that Junkyard Dog attitude, this is what would have happened!! 2. d1-d7!! e8-d7 3. f1–d1 d7-e6 4. f5-d4 e6-e5 5. c1-f4 e5-f4 6. g2-h3 f8-c5 7. b1–c3 a8-d8 8. c3-e2 f4-g5. Damaged, but materially intact. This is a lot better than being down a pawn and the exchange!

Black is better, but they aren’t winning just yet!

Now for more fun and learning. When you study mating attacks you will learn that sometimes the strongest piece is not the one that’s supposed to lead the attack. The mating attack was actually a decoy, a threat that was not really ever intended to work and another combination is the real point. Better than 1… h4-h3 was 1…f4-h3! 2. g2-h3 h4-e4 3. f2-f3 e4-f5 4. c1–e3 0–0–0–+ White’s position is destroyed. Further material losses are unavoidable.

Sometimes the smaller gun does more damage!?

If your next question is when do you start studying other than checkmate puzzles, the answer will be in a future blog or part of your lessons… Whichever comes 1st.

I hope you enjoyed this brief and instructive tour of Coach Mike’s Laboratory. lol I could go on all day about this, but there are many other secrets that I must blow the dust off of to get ready for the next blog. Like I said, I’m coming at you with all of my best secret stuff! This is the tip of the iceberg!? If you want the rest with no waiting and no filters, call me and get a free consultation about lessons. If you are not ready for lessons, we will get you ready for lessons for free! 804-426-6058. Now get out there and beat the snot out of somebody!!!

Ready For Coaching? We Get You Ready For Free!?!

59 next month!? I’ve become the old dude. It’s terrifying! Not because I’m closer to leaving, but because there’s still so much left to do!! If I’d known just how much I was going to have to get done in this life, I’d have taken more vacations, and planned for a lot more time off!?! lol Having to get a stint put in to relieve chess pain and blockage is life altering. Life, all of a sudden feels like having an hour glass where you can see the sand coming in the bottom, but you can’t see the top anymore. So many leave with so much more at the top that I’m just grateful for the time I’ve had and the time I have left. I’m one of the lucky ones that got a warning!!

So, it’s time to make some changes. The 1st thing that’s changing is I work with and for tournament players only! Tournament chess is the only proof that will bolster a school application, college application, or resume!! It is also the only chess that matters for a scholarship!! I’ve got more secrets than Russia and the US combined and the only way to not take it with me is to declassify everything!! I’m putting all my best stuff out there for everyone to see, learn and improve from!!! There is no order because all of our lessons, group and individual, have always been custom. If you’d like an invitation to this FREE Learning Group, a free 90 minute assessment/consultation is required. You must be a, Rated Tournament Chess Player!!

Rosen 2425 vs Chow 2232 from the year 2011

As mentioned in the 11 yr old section of “Arena or Playground the 60/40 Rule”, you must be ready to play against your older opponents peak rating. Here in 2011 at the North American Invitational, Eric Rosen is just 18 years old. Albert Chow reached his peak rating of 2456 all the way back in 1993! Here black must choose between 16… g5-g2, and 16… g5-h6. The answer to that question will tell you if you are ready to be coached. Write out what you think the next 5 moves will be for each side. Write out as many continuations as you think are relevant. If you can’t write out continuations, you need coaching! If 5 moves is too far, you need coaching!! Move the pieces around as much as you like before you ask for the answers.

Callaham 1863 vs Cohen 1990 From the year 2014

The next position is from the 2014 Virginia Senior Open. This is the 3rd round of the day. My peak rating is 1943 achieved in 2003. Harry’s peak rating is 2199 that he achieved in 1997. 2 old farts fighting it out if you must, but instructive all the same. I stared at this position for 35 minutes before I finally made my move. Here you have 5 choices 16. d1- e2, 16. c2-d2, 16. g3-f5, 16. h4-f5, and 16. c1-h6. Write out the next 5 moves for each side. Move the pieces around as much as you like. If you can’t write out 5 moves for each side even when you are allowed to move the pieces, you need coaching, but you may not be ready?!

Checkmate Drills

White has just played 20. f1-d1?? Because of this blunder, black has more than 20 ways to checkmate white!! Yes, I said 20!! If you can write out 20 or more without moving the pieces, you should be coaching. These and many other practical exercises to improve your chess await you.

If you think you are ready for Tournament Coaching, we offer a free 90 minute assessment/consultation. We will discuss your goals, play the potential student, and then give you our assessment. If your student is ready, we will give you a quote. If your student is not ready for lessons, we will help you get them ready for FREE!! Rated Tournament Chess Players Only!! Call, write, or email. No texting. Coach Mike 804-426-6058. Call anytime!

Online Chess Ratings Are Accurate? True and False!?! (Strange)

The last year and a half has been absolutely devastating. When everyone started staying at home, guess what game’s popularity soured? That’s right chess! Then we had the outstanding movie, “Queens Gambit” by Netflix! I think it is TVMA! Do not let anyone through K-12 watch this movie alone!! The interest sparked is good for chess. The challenge comes when trying to help these new, and many experienced players, put their online activity into a real world perspective!

To me, this has been a challenge for a long time! I’ve read this article, that article, this, Lichess that, ICC is the best, no, Chess Live is the best, and so on, and so on, and so on. Winter hit the nail on the head when he said that each site develops a culture. Over the board chess also has a culture. The average ratings of all of those sights and US Chess are within a couple hundred points. The higher the rating, the narrower the margin. With that in mind I do boldly declare that when properly considered online chess ratings are accurate!

Let’s get into that properly considered part and that will help you better understand. For people on line, chess is a pass time. Some of them may go days, weeks, months, or even years without playing a single game of chess and they don’t feel like they missed out on anything. For others online chess has and will continue to be a part of their daily, weekly, and even perpetual growth in the game. How can you tell which one you are playing with? You can’t! Sometimes you are playing against their computer and you can’t tell!

Online chess is not real chess!! Online chess is a chess substitute that is so close to the real thing that it has people comparing the incomparable!! Did you know that all the conversations about online ratings and how they translate to over the board ratings is based on Blitz, Bullet, and Lightning time controls? Did you know that a game has to be 30 minutes or longer to receive an OTB regular rating from US Chess? This is only part of what I meant when I said properly considered. At US Chess you can have a Regular, Quick, Blitz, and most recently an, “E” rating. So yes, if you play 5 minute games all the time, your rating should be relatively accurate. I’ve only heard of Bullet and Lightning being side events at a real tournament. There are no Bullet and Lightning championships in the real world!

What this means is that while everyone has been trying to see if they are accurate by comparing the general, the only accurate and advantageous comparison would require data from each time control!?! You’d never be able to get one of the chess websites to give you that information!! Why!?! Because they don’t want everyone to know that online chess is not very serious! Go to your favorite site and pick tournaments. If they aren’t holding tournaments that are longer than 30 minutes, it’s because no one plays in them. 95% are 5 minutes or less.

My rating went from 1225-1236, for solving this 832 puzzle

Let’s start with the puzzles. You can not earn 11 points for beating someone that is 393 points below your rating in any OTB Rating System!! The puzzle system is designed for immediate gratification. For each correct 1/2 move answer you get a prompt to continue solving. That’s like having a puzzle book and looking in the back of the book each time you make a half move to see if you were correct. That’s not helping you build visualization, concentration, or stamina! As a matter of fact, the prompting is an interruption that will make it impossible to build those characteristics. It may have been a great puzzle but you needed to write out the entire answer and any variations before checking for accuracy if you want your brain to remember anything. lol When you get an answer wrong, the puzzles get easier and the points you get for a correct solution get ridiculous again!

1507-1518 for solving this 1150 puzzle

They have your immediate gratification covered on both ends. While all of websites will give you puzzles to solve that are 200, 300, and even 400 below the rating you have, they almost never make the puzzles 200, 300, or 400 more than your rating! To add insult to injury, how do you give me 11 points when they are 300 and 400 below me, 14 or 15 points when we are equal, but just 16 points when they are 200 higher? If points are your only concern, it helps to get one wrong every once in a while so that you get more points per puzzle.

1588-1604 for solving this 1772 puzzle

They don’t just do this to the weaker players!! I just looked at Nakamura’s history for puzzle rush survival. He got 75 correct answers before a 4000 puzzle knocked him out the box. When I went to his last 25 puzzles, I saw that his rating had fluctuated between 3259 and 3331. 11 of the last 25 he did had ratings below 3000. The highest puzzle he was offered was 3384. With a 400 point difference at that level he still gets 10 points for a 3 move problem!?!

3284-3294 for solving this 2873 puzzle

Online Chess sights are designed to appeal to the masses. Pass times have to be fun, or people won’t come back. The difference between a tournament and online chess is that online chess has to be fun whether you ever actually get better at chess or not! It’s a playground, not an arena, it’s a batting cage, not a baseball game, you’re using a ball launcher, it’s not a tennis match, you are bowling without keeping score! Playing serious chess is not the main attraction!

If websites weren’t for fun, how would a 2000 and a 1900 player get to have Nakamura on their stream? He beats masters blindfolded, he’s not there for the challenge?! If online chess was supposed to be serious why would a player with a rating of 2242 be 8th in the world for hours her stream has been watched!?! Irena Krush is ranked tied for 99th in the US at 2519. The top 10 year old in the country was rated 2259 in March of 2021. Get serious?! lol

Remember when Bots looked like this?
The new Bots are fun and instructive!

If you haven’t already, you must conquer the bots. Don’t believe the ratings they give them. Bots don’t have real ratings because they haven’t been to any tournaments either! lol I make all of my students play the bots for 6 reasons!?! 1.) The bots never resign! You either win or lose. 2.) There is no way to offer the Bot a draw. 3.) There is no time limit, so there is no clock to lose to or time pressure. 4.) When you lose and ask for a rematch you have to change color. We all need a balanced game. 5.) The Bots vary their opening responses enough to learn many variations. 6.) The Bots play harder after they have made a mistake. Now that you have an advantage, you must learn to convert it. I can’t tell you how many times I was leading and let the Bot back into the game. While it doesn’t offer or accept draws, the Bots will force a draw to keep from losing!

I couldn’t take any pride in this at all unless these people were preparing for a tournament!?

Adults and children alike failed miserably when asked to sit at a screen for 45-55 minutes, then take a 5-10 minute break, 4, 5, and 6 times a day, and then be responsible for what was covered. All of a sudden everything required concentration, stamina, memory, and interest! That’s where over the board chess and online chess part company. One of the things I’ve noticed about on line players, is they think they have gotten somewhere, and they think they have changed into something great when all they’ve been doing is having bad practices and failing the practice test. Could you imagine a coach or instructor that holds 15 minute practices or coaching sessions and expects documentable change and improvement?! I laugh when I hear about serious chess lessons only lasting an hour. At a real tournament they have to play 2, 3, 4, and maybe even 5 games in a day! The games start with 40 minutes each and go longer. Yasser used to lock himself in his study for 5 hrs at a time! His reasoning was that his study sessions need to be as long as the games he was going to play. According to him there was no other way for him to judge his concentration, clarity, and stamina!! That has always stuck with me!

Toys are a pass time requiring no documentation.
Tools transform the time that has passed into documentation!

Online chess is like having the best toys and the best tools in the same place. If someone new comes in and doesn’t know which is which you’ll have people tooling with the toys, and toying with the tools. It’ll be a lot of fun, but nothing meaningful will get done. “Over the board”, “in person” chess, has one major and differentiating distinction that websites will never be able to match…IT MATTERS!!! Even today there are stigmas about the accomplishments people make on line. Just about every type of online accomplishment is less valuable than what is accomplished in person. When it comes to chess, only playing, coaching, directing, and organizing in the real world is worthy of the, “Accomplishments” sections of school applications, college applications, scholarship applications, and resumes. If everything you ever do with chess is online, it will wind up in the, “Hobbies and Interests” sections of those documents. If you ever get asked about having played in a tournament and you say no, their curiosity about how your involvement with chess can help their school or business will be over!

Online is the Gym of Chess

You can’t be serious if you wear whatever you have on just because you want to go to the Gym!? That means you must play with longer, real world time controls. Study using a board, books, pencils, and paper. Hold yourself accountable for accuracy and results instead of aesthetics and speed. The true grit, metal, character, fiber, strength, skill, and worth of a serious chess player is in there ability to draw and win against strangers!!! The only test for that is on the road!

Online Ratings are accurate for whatever time control you play in. Online, that’s 5 minutes or less!!! They reflect your level of interest and can give you feedback if that’s what you want. Unfortunately nothing about online chess can be considered a result to anyone except the player that is getting them. Online chess results don’t mean or prove anything because there is a form of chess that does mean and prove, and it’s not played on line. Online players will always lose to over the board players of the same ratings because the OTB player expects results based on how they play, not how much time is left!!!

If you’d like our help turning your playground into a gym, If you’d like our help in making your chess activity worthy of the, “Accomplishment” sections of your life’s documentation, you know how to reach us!

Hope you got the message. Declare and enjoy. We love tools and we love toys! lol

Chess Experiments Without A Theory!?!

Every name of every opening is a, “Theory”. Every name of combination is a, “Theory”! To prove a theory, you must conduct experiments!! What would you call a series of, “Experiments” conducted with little theory, sporadic analysis, scattered records, and no written conclusions? Most of the chess players in America!? lol That’s funny! Hey, in many homes championships and mastery are side dishes, not the main course. Chess builds! Take as much or little as you want.

Scholarship Chess Business Center is here for the greedy!! Read, Read, Read,

The theoretical argument you are having with your opponent is based on odds and reported by percentages. What are the odds of you keeping your half of the board? What are your odds of taking their half of the board? Ratings are what allow you to play the odds and get more points. If you and another 1200 draw, the odds were right. If a 1200 and a 1300 player draw the 1200 was right! The big mistake everyone makes is they think the only way to be right is to win!?! (Strange) In chess, the 1st way to be right is a draw!! In chess we have plans that are called theory! We have ideas that we call theory. The word I find most useful is Campaign! It simply means having multiple, ongoing, overlapping and interwoven, plans, and ideas. When are you developing, and where have you written down your Campaigns/Theories?

Where would you experiment, at the arena, the playground, or the lab? If that’s true, then why do we catch players experimenting at the tournaments all the time? I’ve seen an, “N” for a theoretical novelty. That’s when you are introducing as fact the results of your experiments. Translation, if you come to a tournament willing to, or expecting to do anything other than draw or win, no one has to shoot holes in your theories, you already enough holes in your theories!?!

Write out a Campaign! Do your work at the lab! Discipline yourself to stick to your campaign until a desired result has been achieved! The 4 critical ingredients to keeping your campaign flourishing are checks, captures, threats, and sacrifices. If there are none, you will eventually need some to draw or win. If you are looking for good advice, take a look at Arena or Playground, the 60/40 rule. It will tell you what you should be doing from 800 – Master!

Remember: Chess is the only sport in the world that after a tie, there is still a winner and a loser!?! Play up! Build your campaign discipline! It means having 2 ways to win every time you play!?!

Ratings Schmatings!?! What’s your “Handicap”?

The thing is, your actual strength, the thing that most determines if you are following grandmaster advice is your, “Category”. Your Category is actually supposed to lead your rating, not the other way around! Following grandmaster advice it is possible to have a category result with a performance of 1-2-2. I know because that’s the score I got in the under 2200 section while my rating was 1880. My post tournament rating went to 1910. If US Chess started calling bonus points a, “Handicap” more people would understand and play up. Today everyone wants to play in the prize section.

If your rating is 1100 and you play in the under 1200 section and you win with a score of 4.5 you will get to 1276. 73 of that is bonus/handicap points. If you played in the under 1400 and got 3.5 your new rating would be 1270, with 71 bonus/handicap points and it would be a category 3 result.

Earning a category has no rating requirements. Earning a title does have category requirements. As you improve, Category results are harder and harder to get because the people you need to play to get that category are becoming rarer and rarer. To make it even more difficult, you are playing people that are in decline. By that I mean there are more former masters in the expert section than there are former experts in the under 1900, and under 1800 sections. By playing up and using your “handicap” you will always have the opportunity to achieve the category before the rating!!

“3 Norm and Title rules
The following table specifies the set of titles, and whether a player needs to have attained an
established rating above the rating level to earn the title.
Rating Level Title Rating Requirement?
1200 4th Category No
1400 3rd Category No
1600 2nd Category No
1800 1st Category No
2000 Candidate Master Yes
2200 Life Master Yes
2400 Life Senior Master Yes

  1. Norms can only be earned in events of 4 rounds or more.”

A critical requirement is that your result in a tournament has to be more than a point higher than your statistically averaged expected result. If you would be expected to average 3.48 points in six rounds then you would have to score at least 4.4801 points (actually 4.5) in the six rounds. If you play tournaments where you are near the top-rated in the section then it may be difficult to get that exceptional performance because even going 6 out of 6 is not enough when your average expected result is 5.03 out of 6 (kind of hard to exceed a perfect score).

Don’t forget also that the ELO chart was originally for titled players…Candidate Master and up. That’s why the spread only covers 677 point of differential up or down. The ELO system didn’t originally have k’s or bonus points. The rating systems used by websites don’t offer bonus points or categories. That’s because websites are a toy until you make them a tool, not a tool that you’ve turned into a toy.

Today there are players and parents that are treating chess like bridge. In chess, you are wasting your money by just playing all the time. Only in chess is other people’s experience the best teacher!?! Go to the top 100 list of ages 7 and up and look up their history. You will find that more than 80% of the people on the list got their rating points from playing down, that they have a category 2 and even 3 levels below their rating, most have no category at all, and they are averaging less than 4 points per game they play since acquiring a established rating. (more than 25 games). How do you reach 1800 and have no Category after 282 games!?! They don’t have their ratings because of how hard they work!?! They are not the product of following grandmaster advice!?! They have their rating because of how often they play. When you go to statistics by year, some of them are playing 125, 150, 175, even 200 games a year. They are coming away with 50, 150, or 250 points a year!?!(sad) Don’t take my word for any of this. Go check. After looking at the histories you’ll never be afraid of someone higher rated again!!

2021 is your year. What are you doing to figure out how to get the most of your time in chess. You owe it to yourself to get some coaching and save some money in the coming years! We have a proven system against players under 1800. Our students typically earn 8-15 points per game. They achieve the same ratings as other players with less than 100 games a year! If that interest you, please contact us for FREE information!

After Snow, Liquidation Sale, 2/1- 2/7

One of the great things about being in charge is having flexibility. I can’t tell you how many calls I got about the snow. We are a 1 snowflake state! lol Whether they played chess or not, Fri, Sat, and Sunday I could have sold chess stuff to people if I had eggs, bread, and milk!?! The Sale continues!!

Tues – Fri 5 pm-830 pm, daytime , by appointment.

Saturday 9 am – 7 pm

Sunday 11 am – 6 pm

Book dealers and wholesale equipment dealers are welcome. Remainder to be donated to the North Ave, Hull Street, and 25th Street branches of the Richmond Public Library.

Call if looking for titles. 804-426-6058.

Deep Discount, Books, Sets, and Clock Sale! 1/23 – 1/31!?!

After a few major donations and some acquisitions of our own we are loaded with discount chess equipment! Wood, plastic, onyx, ceramic, and tournament! Flat wood boards, folding wood boards, vinyl boards,(green, black, blue, red, wood grain, and money boards) , Mario Cart, the Simpsons. We even have Staunton’s complete with box, key, and board! We have touch clocks, analog clocks, and Chronos. We’ve got 1,000 books out! Hard cover and paperback of many desirable titles for beginners, intermediates, and up. If you are a collector, you need to get over here!! Openings, middle games, combinations, tactics, strategy. Every book we have is bound to be someone you know or would respect! Game collections, Candidate matches. Everything is new, or in slightly used condition. Classics up to books published in 2019. We have 2 Alpa Zero Books, My Great Predecessors, and the best endgame collections of every era.

Everything is priced to sell!!! No reasonable offer refused!!! You can shop by phone and we will ship it to you. More than happy to message you a picture of any item. Cash or credit card is fine. Tired of just looking at a screen with no words? We have the deals. Choice of 1 free book from selected titles with any $30.00 purchase. Free Informant with any $75.00 purchase.

I took pictures of all the titles and will be happy to send you titles for the area you are interested in. Pictures were going to take up too much space and I’m not good at editing videos. Look for live FB feeds each day during the sale!!

When visiting please wear your mask and expect to be hand sanitized upon entry and before departure!?!

Hours: Today until 6pm

Sunday 10 am – 6pm

Monday – Friday 6pm – 9pm or by appointment. I have to run in and out for mail, dropping paperwork, and other business, etc but am usually close by. I’m usually in the office by 8:30 am.

Saturday 1/30 8am – 6pm

Sunday 1/31 9am – 630 pm

To schedule an appointment, phone shop, or make an inquiry, just call me!! 804-426-6058!

Getting, “It” Done In 2021!

What’s your, “It” for 2021? We no longer have an elephant in the room! Covid, masks, social distancing are here to stay for a while. Why? Because people are nasty, hard headed, selfish, law breaking, hypocrites, that’s why. Reread, “Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” and then wear your mask!?! People won’t wear masks, they won’t wash their hands, they won’t stop touching their faces, and they refused to social distance. We had the opportunity as a country to show the world how this virus could be contained. Instead we acted like it wasn’t that serious. Real or not, serious or not, curable or not, vaccinable or not, it is changing the social structure of the world. Chess does not have to be one of it’s casualties!!!

The good news is that chess is a brain function more than it is a social one. By that, I mean you can prepare and improve the same way people always have… Alone!?! Chess is an inner game. So how do you measure your success if you can’t get to any tournaments. The sad part is that most people don’t know how to measure chess success at all!

Most people think that you measure chess success by ratings. That’s simply ridiculous. The only thing you are measuring is the player’s, “Estimated Strength”! If the only thing your coach cares about is your rating, you will waste thousands of dollars and waste thousands of hours taking the slow route to get good at this game! Using ratings exclusively to determine if someone is a success at chess is the same as using a High School Diploma to determine if someone was a successful student! Every degree you can get is a bench mark of strength. High School Diploma, Bachelor’s, Master’s, PHD, are all just measures of minimum performance strength. What was their GPA? Did they graduate on time? Early? Late? What courses did they take? How many courses did they fail? Did they go on campus or get their degree through continuing education? What else did you do while you were in school to make sure you got a, “well rounded education”?

So now we come to chess. C Player, B Player, A Player, Candidate Master, Master, Senior Master. These are indications of strength for sure, but are they indications of success? As a coach and an employer, success has to be determined by their road to success as well as their destination! How long have they been playing? How regularly do they play? What type of competition have they faced? What is their winning %? Higher rated? Lower rated? What is their P %? What is their career PPG? Annual PPG? What is their Category? Does it match their rating? How well rounded are they? Are they a Certified Coach? Are they a Certified Tournament Director? Do they have any Affiliate experience?

This former World Champion, Viswanathan Anand is giving us a lesson just by taking a picture. Your computer is a toy and a tool but it’s not the boss!?! Everyone of us plays and studies differently on a computer than we do on a board. At some level what’s going on just isn’t real to our brain until it’s, “out in the real world”. Until we start the conversion from toy to tool, any success you think you are having on the computer is an indulgent delusion!? Let’s say you are doing tactics on and your rating is 1600. If you solve a 1600 puzzle it will give you 12-16 points. If you fail that 1600 problem, it will deduct 12-16 points. Here’s the delusion. After you fail that 1600 problem you will get a 1200 problem and get 8 points, then a 1300 problem and get 10 points, then a 1400 problem and get 12 points. That’s not the ELO system! That’s the, “Please don’t leave when you fail because you weren’t paying attention because it’s a toy.” system!! LOL

If we are going to grow in our capacity to win and draw chess games we must remember that perfect practice makes perfect! You must be determined not to settle. For most of us, (me too sometimes) the computer is like setting up a puzzle on the board and then peaking in the back of the book to see if we got the 1st move right. still LOL If you want your computer to help you, then you must set up for serious training. You must write out the entire answer and any variations before you move. You must play to win or draw at all times if you expect to develop your, “Tournament Eye” and intuition. And, finally, you need to look at your statistics, not your rating to determine if you are actually making progress.

To lend some definitions;

P%= Protection Percentage. If you play 50 games with a record of 25-10-15, Your P% is 60%! Awesome if you are playing up most of the time, average if you are playing in your class most of the time, weak if most of your opponents are lower rated than you.

PPG = Points Per Game. Points Per Game is taking the number of points you’ve earned since coming out of the provisional ranks and dividing that by the number of games played! An average of 6 or better is good money! Anything less means you need to be doing more analysis and fixing instead of playing all the time. Just so you know, learning from playing alone is the slowest way to get good at chess!!! Let’s say that after your 25th game your rating was 754. After 3 years and 300 games your new rating is 1995. That’s good money. If after 25 games you were 971 and after 5 years and 600 games your new rating is 2237, you should have spent more time doing analysis and studying instead of playing so much!?!

Category and Ratings match. If they’ve played 100 games since they got to 2000 and they are still a Category 1 player, or they’ve played 100 games since they got to 1800 and are still a Category 2 player, that means that they are only good at beating players their rating and below. You can not experience growth by playing in your class all the time. You been duped into using prize categories as achievement markers!! The only time you are supposed to play in your class is when you are trying to win the prize! Parents select class sections for their children all the time. It’s a direct contradiction to Grandmaster advice!!

To get a scholarship or make chess count on a Middle School, High School, College Application, or Resume, you need to be a complete Chess Personality/Manager. Being a Nationally Certified Coach or Referee of any kind demands respect and elevates these applicants to peers instead of subordinates during any kind of interview!

In Closing I want to say that, “It” is possible for you in 2021! Whatever, “It” is, we can help!

Coach Mike C

SCBC 2020 in Review!!

Sundays: 430 pm – 630 pm Nov 29th – Dec 27th or, Monday Dec 28 – Thurs Dec 31st 10am – noon daily!!

Get the inside track on everything we learned in 2020?

1.) With no tournaments, how do players know they are making progress?
We’ve been accurately translating numbers into over the board strength for years! That’s just one of the reasons chose us to provide the post round analysis for the 2014 and 2016 Virginia Scholastic Championships!

2.) All of our students know to look for checks, captures, threats, and sacrifices on kings and queens and rooks. We are ready to share 2 more, “no skill required” factors that will help anyone win games faster.

3.) When we asked students to tell us the properties of the pieces, they told us how they moved, not what their properties were! This exercise gives an instant boost in understanding and playing strength!

4.) Pawns are fast!? Players were smiling ear to ear when we focused on the way pawns are supposed to be used. Find out their true value and the entertaining threats they pose when your opponents think that pawns are slow and expendable!

5.) A draw is a win! The key to being a better player is playing up! Understanding the rating system will help you get as many points from a draw as you do from a win!!

Registration is from today until the 28th of November or until Dec 27th depending on which class you pick. Cost for this great year ender is just $99.00! Slots are limited so please register early! Email your name, ratings of any kind, and which course you want to; We will confirm and send you an invoice.

May your holidays be full of chess!!
Coach Mike C

Virtual Stamina

So how is the virtual school going? It’s hard to sit there for 40-55 minutes, get a 5 or 10 minute break and then repeat that 4 or 5 times in a day. Uninterrupted, that’s like having year round, daily, company training!?! LOL Just imagine it’s a year round chess tournament with 4 or 5 rounds a day! If you want your child to excel, they need to learn more about virtual stamina. My classes have always been 2 hours. If you talk to my students, they’ll tell you that in the 1st couple lessons, I wore them out in 20-30 minutes. In a little over a month, they found themselves going 50, 60, even 75 minutes before they even thought about their snack. Every one of my students can explain, “Chess Fatigue” and what to do about it! They’ve told me it works for more than just chess!

Learning to concentrate at chess is only hard if your opponent is annoying. Every act of thinking about chess encourages optimism, confidence, and commitment. Becoming better at chess is sure to improve their concentration! That includes school work. If you want to know how to get the most from virtual learning, we’ll teach you the shortcuts.

Private lessons only. Homework, No-Homework, and Prodigy Programs are still available. Our programs are 6 – 12 weeks. Ask about the free zoom consultation. Coach Michael Callaham 804-426-6058.

Turning Draws Into Wins! Just 3 fall slots left!?!

Whether it’s chess or body building, every sport is constantly evolving. Some of the variants that are coming out from Alpha Zero are going to change chess training for sure. One of the ways we evolve is to get rid of old ideas and habits! Competitive Chess Players must gain experience at managing risk!! When chess is a toy, there is no risk, not even to the ego!! It’s OK to win, lose or draw and it doesn’t matter how much you miss because there are no rating points on the line.

Let’s talk about the value of a draw and help you understand that a draw is just as good as a win if you manage your risk correctly. To do that, we need to explode a couple of long held myths! Once you enter into competitive chess, it’s win, draw, and never lose. By managing your risk, you can get 25%- 60% more points for a win, enough points to feel like you won from a draw, and if you do lose, they take less points away!

If you played in a quad as a 1200 against a 1400, 1300, and 1200 and scored 1.5, your new rating would be 1220. 2 points would make your new rating 1262!! 1 point would only drop you to 1195. If everyone was rated 1200, 1.5 gets you 1200, 2 points only get’s you 1225, and 1 point would drop you to 1175!! For the lower rated player, a 1300 gave them odds of 9-7 and the 1400 gave them odds of 5-3. These odds, the risk, are all imaginary until you have reached the 1st Category, 1800 and above!! You should expect to lose when chess is a toy. You are obligated to win or draw when it’s a tool! When you lose 3-5 days from work, pay lodging, pay transportation, meals, entry fees, and other expenses, that’s a really expensive toy!!

Myth # 1 … “Look for the best move every time.” Simply ridiculous!?! Look at this position with white to move:

There are 16 equally good moves in this position. There is only the move that suits your taste. I’ll say it again, Grandmasters beat other Grandmasters by making their opponents play unfamiliar middlegames from familiar openings. If you put any classic line on your computer, after about 12-14 moves the positions will read, “=”!!

Myth #2 “Draws don’t get you anywhere?!” Ridiculous!! Draws don’t get you anywhere among equals, but when playing up, you can have more draws than wins and get a, “Category” result.

15 | MICHAEL CALLAHAM |2.0 |D 13|W 4|L 7|D 16|L 6|
VA | 12417373 / R: 1881 ->1910 |N:1

I was playing in an under 2200 section when I earned that performance.

Myth #3 “Experience” is the best teacher”

In chess this is only half true!?! With 100’s of years of games and advice available, why would you be learning from your experiences when you can use someone else’s? Jason Morefield has gotten his rating all the way up to 2337 in just 407 games and only 84 events. He achieved the Category of, Life Master in Jan 2019!! All this talk is about saving the family time, money, and effort. No one is better at that than us! Call for a free consultation and quote! Your wallet, spouse, and other children will thank you!! Call Mike Callaham today. 804-426-6058.

Coaching Saves Time, Money, and Effort! 5 slots left!

That’s not so bold a claim once you get to know us and what we are about. We’re Coaches not instructors, teachers, or relatives. It doesn’t matter what you want to become good at, hiring a coach is supposed to increase efficiency! The thing is, most people teaching chess are to, “Authoritative” in their approach. The most important thing to the student is, not losing!! To say the most important thing is winning is just as naive!!

Today I needed to get some papers notarized. I didn’t feel like carrying my briefcase so I grabbed the August issue of Chess Life Kids and stuffed it in there. As I was closing the mag, I saw this:

Hats off to these kids and parents that are out there making it happen. There’s no reason for someone not to catch fire at this time in the worlds history! I’m predicting a continual increase in the number of chess players during the pandemic.

OK, Here is how coaching saves money, effort, and time!?! I went and checked the US Chess histories of all of the kids in the article. 8 of the 9 kids that got the correct answer are rated!! I think there should have been way more contestants than 9! So here is there stats and my, “Coaches evaluation;

Luger #1 on the 8 yr old list. His current rating is 1821. His record against 1600, 1700, and 1800 players is 9 wins out of 49 games. He has not achieved a category of any kind. With a 60% win ratio he has played 182 games. He has not really been tested yet! At this stage, he should have had that record against 1800, 1900, and 2000 players. Koganov is 12 and did not make his top 100 list because his rating is 1626 and your rating has to be 1795 to get on that list. He is a Category 3 player! The only way to get a category result without a perfect score is to play up! You must earn 5 category results to be awarded a category! He’s played 302 games. This kid has the heart of a lion. He’s played 89 games against players rated 1500 or more. He only won 17 games, but what impressed me was that he had 21 draws. Why is that impressive to a coach? It means he knows how to protect the point!! He was playing up and protected 38 out of those 89 games. Moss is 10 and he could not get on the age 10 list since his rating is 1222 and the minimum is 1548. Moss has not achieved any category results at all. In the last 12 months he has only played 28 games against players rated more than 1200 and was able to get 5 wins and 0 draws. He needs to be playing up! Petukhov is 8 and comes in at number 48 on the 8 yr old list! His rating is 1287! He has played just 74 games and this year he’s only lost 3 out of 17. He needs to be playing up all the time. Whether its study, coaching, natural ability or a combination, he and Koganov look like excellent potential students. Vellore is 9 years old with a rating of 1451. That places him at 88 on the 9 yr old list. He’s achieved a Category 4 putting him on the map as someone that will play up. 1451 for a 9 yr old is usually time to rejoice but in this case he was in the 1400’s when he was 8 and when he was 7!!. In Aug of 2018 he was number 13 for kids under 7 and in August of 2019 he was number 80!! It’s a shame that with his level of interest that he’s not getting the attention he deserves!! His winning percentage is just 43%. Someone has to begin to hold him accountable. He has played 715 career games and he’s 9. That’s just way too many. If someone doesn’t help him he’ll continue to stagnate and quit. Bass is 10 years old with a rating of 1282. He’s on fire! He has acheived this rating with just 39 tournament games! His record is 28-10 with no draws. The only thing to be said about this is great job!! Play up and start looking for that draw!
Su has career is just 5 games, De Melo a career of just 4 games, and Rutowski are not rated!

So there you have it;

24 events, 39 games, 1282

14 events, 74 games, 1287

91 events, 182 games, 1821

88 events, 244 games, 1222

83 events, 301 games, 1626

287 events, 715 games, 1451

By the way, of the 8 that are rated none of them have become Certified Coaches or Certified Tournament Directors

I’ll never stop saying it…today’s players get their ratings from the number of games they are playing, not the strength of their play. They win and lose when they are supposed to and seldom challenge themselves to play up!! That makes all of them beatable!!

So, what would I do!?! Well, I’d need to consult with the player and the parents but if the idea is to get more points with less money, time, and effort, this would cover all of them!

1.) They’ve got to get the challenge set right! Most parents and players of all ages are using prize categories as success markers. The 1st Category that has a rating requirement is Expert/Candidate Master. Counting down you also have Category 1, 2, 3, and 4, players. So with that in mind, the real prize for each event is earning bonus points and achieving a Category result!! A tournament must have at least 4 rounds to qualify as a Category event!!

2.) You must invest time in understanding the rating system! We are on a fluctuating 200% margin system of error that spans 400 points! I know, but let me explain. When 2 players rated 1200 sit down to play each other, they have a 100% chance of beating each other, not a 50% chance of beating each other! When a 1200 sits down to play a 1300 you would think then that the 1200’s chances go down to 75% and the 1300’s chances of winning go to 125%!? Wrong!?! The odds of the 1300 winning are not 5-3. That’s a static evaluation. This is the fluctuating/dynamic part of the evaluation. The 1200’s chances went down to 87.5% and the 1300’s only went up to 112.5%! That means the odds were 9-7!! If a 1200 was playing a 1400, now it’s 75% and 125% and the odds are 5-3. A 1200 playing a 1500 is 62.5% vs 137.5%. That makes the odds 11-5. The points from a draw earned while playing up can sometimes equal what you’d have earned for beating an equal player!! I scored a Category 1 result in an under 2200 section with a score of 1/2/2. 1 win, 2 draws, and 2 loses. At the time, my rating was 1880. My opponents were 2100, 2106, 2099, 2113, and 2199. Yes I beat the 2199. It was 5 time West Virginia Champion, John Roush!! After the tournament, my rating was 1910!

3.) These players range from the top 30% to the top 10% of all the rated players in the country!! When it comes to chess, you must understand that they are not children anymore!? Yes, they are immature, childish, inconsistent etc. but, there are ways to help them understand the difference between toy time and tool time in chess.

4.) At the pace they are playing and because they are kids, it’s likely that they are not thoroughly analyzing their games. When I say thorough, I mean set the board up, verify that the score is accurate, then replay the game noting where there could have been improvements. Now, write down the lines of what you thought could happen. Finally, put the game on an engine and see what it says. Don’t skip any games no matter how much you think you know what happened!!!

If driving, meals, hotels, and entry fees have to be paid, which player do you want to have? What would really be bad is if all of these kids already have a, “Coach”!! Let us save you some trips. Private, Custom, Coaching is just a phone call away!! Mike Callaham, 804-426-6058!!

Prodigy Training Is Not For Everyone!


It’s funny to watch all the incomplete chess personalities that are out there marketing chess programs.  They’re scrambling, throwing together any babysitting program they can.  It’s been barbaric to say the least!  What do I mean by incomplete… It’s simple, They’re uncultured, uninformed, and the only thing they know how to do is play!  I’ve watched PHD’s become famous in school systems for teaching chess for 20-30 years and the last trophy they have is from 2008.  You’d know just how bad that is when you discover that we never give away all the school trophies at a VSCA tournament.  Yes, they could have eventually gotten a trophy for just showing up!  To be a “Complete Chess Personality” means creating national value in what you do.  There are no age requirements to become a Nationally Certified Coach,($25-$300 hr), Tournament Director,($125-500 a day) or US Chess Affiliate.  All of these certifications are Zero based!!  You only need 3 rated tournament games to become a rated tournament chess player!!  You don’t even have to have played a tournament game to be a Certified Coach, Tournament Director, or US Affiliate.  You can research all of this at the US Chess website.

Never a Us Chess Member, Never played in a tournament, no coaching certification, not a tournament director, does not have a current rule book, no organizational experience and making claims that they can take your child to the heights of the game.  The blind leading the blind!  What a bunch of nonsense that is!!!  My Question is; Are you going to rely on these same people to translate, “On Line Chess” into something that can meaningfully measure progress??  On line chess is a toy and training tool, it is not a measuring device!!  They’re scrambling too with all of their, “promises” of being able to catch on line computer cheating!  Good luck with that!  How come no one came out with a full proof, guaranteed way of catching cheaters until the pandemic!?!  All I can say is garbage in garbage out.

In America we’ve become so preoccupied with chess as a toy, we’ve stop acting like chess is a serious scholarship sport!  It has state champions, national champions, and world champions.  A full scholarship at the schools that offer it is worth between $240,000 and $400,000 of tax free money!  It’s a cowardly new world out here in chess.  No one wants to follow Grandmaster advice, everyone is being told to play to get better, everyone plays in their class, concentration and stamina are not part of the training regimens, and kids have learned how to push and manipulate the boundaries of truth, honor, and obedience with Instructors, teachers, parents, and relatives!?!

What is the answer to all of those problems?  I can sum it up real briefly for you.  You have to declare!  What is chess going to be?  Is it going to be a toy or a tool?  If you don’t care when you lose chess games, if $240,000 – $400,000 of tax free scholarship money means nothing to you, if you think being a complete chess personality doesn’t make you unique to adults, if having business opportunities that have no age requirements is unimportant to you, if you don’t care if chess goes in the hobbies and interests section of a middle school applications, high school applications, college application, and/or  resume, instead of the accomplishment section of those documents, you need a chess teacher, an instructor, or a relative teaching you/them how to play!  Why? Because chess is just a toy!!!


You can’t be a chess prodigy if you learn to play at the age of 16.  Every scholarship venue is looking for evidence as far back as possible.  Jennifer Yu won our state championship at the age of 13!  Last year she became the US Women’s Champion at 17!  Jason Moorefield won the state’s amateur championship at 12 and since has become a Master, a certified coach and a tournament director!  Anagha Sinkar became a coach at the age of 6!  Nathan Boguslavsky became a certified coach at the age of 16.  We have created more rated tournament chess players and more complete chess personalities than any other chess services provider in central Va!!!  If you want to take anyone to the top in their field, they need a coach, not instructors, or teachers!

We now have a “Prodigy Program”.  This is a coaching program for serious chess personalities and their parents!! What would you do if you had to train a, “Prodigy”?

1.) The coach must be able to blow the student off the board with odds, for the entire length of the training!

2.) The, “between class”, work must be clear and concise.

3.) There needs to be a monitoring and reporting system.

4.) The training must be for the, “Complete Chess Personality”, ie player, coach, director, and organizer!

5.) The coach should be qualified to provide endorsements.

6.)  Parents must take an active role like they would for any other scholarship sport or venue.

Here’s a partial list of some of the services that are included with our, “Prodigy Program”!

a.)  Each lesson will be followed up with a brief description of the work that was done leading up to the class, the material that was covered on that day, and the recommended activities they should be engaging in before the next session.
b.) At the 1/2 way point between classes, we send an assessment of how they are doing towards the work for the next class.  All messages will be copied to parents!
c.) Students are required to keep a log!
d.) As always, the lessons are fully customized to their capacity for work, performance, and interests!
Real talk… Any parent that expects to move their child through the process of becoming really good at anything must prepare for the lying years!?!  It doesn’t matter what nationality you are, and it does not matter what your social economic status is, there will come an age where even if your child does not lie outright, they will stop telling you the whole truth.  Disbelieve me if you want, that’s your choice, but every person who has a 13, 15, or 17 year old child will tell you that at a certain age they had to change the way they talked to their child to get the whole truth out of them!!!  You put your parents through the same thing!! lol
If you want to see if chess can be a tool to your child, if you want someone to stand up to your child instead of smiling while the child walks all over them, if you want hard and beneficial chess credentials, and if you want your child to be a complete chess personality that is prepared for a lifetime of achievement and enjoyment from our beloved game, this is the only place you need to look for the right, COACH!!  
Program length is 12 weeks.  The program starts out expensive and gets less expensive each month as the student becomes more independent!  We are accepting applications and doing phone consultations for players rated 101 up to 1600 USCF.  Ages 5-14.  Knowledge of how the pieces move is preferred but not required.
Coach Mike C

There Are 2 Types Of Virtual Student!

Virtual students have a lot more work to do than in person students.  In person there are many expected and unexpected interruptions that in some ways help students reflect, catch their breath, and anchor the subject matter.  During a virtual lesson, even a break is compartmentalized, the rest of the time is spent in virtually uninterrupted exchanges of communication.  Just imagine if every time there is an interruption of any kind you had to flip an hour glass.  You’ll be flipping more in person than on virtual.  What does it mean?  For many of us, this is the 1st time in years, and others it’s the 1st time in their lives that they’ve been exposed to the necessity of taking in large amounts of uninterrupted information.  If you’re in 1 of our classes, it’s 100% interactive!!  I’m finding that most students of all ages, just don’t have the stamina for it!!

“Chess Fatigue”  happens in person and even faster in virtual lessons!!  “Chess Fatigue” is something I explain to all of my students.  The only thing that will eliminate “Chess Fatigue” and increase stamina in chess is having a minimum performance standard when you are practicing and studying.  What is that minimum performance standard?  You have to hate losing!!  Desire brings out the best in people, not authority.

principal's office

At in person classes there was some imposed standard of engagement and performance!  People couldn’t put up a screen saver and hit the mute button!  In virtual, you have no authority and the students know it!  At school you had their code of conduct, the program director, teachers, and even the principal if necessary.  That particular change in the environment is the deal breaker.

With 2 types of students come 2 types of programs;

The, “Custom Homework Coaching Program” and the, “Custom No Homework Coaching Program.  Everyone goes into a no homework program for the 1st 6 weeks.  They are allowed to stay in a no homework program for up to 12 weeks if they are k-8 and up, and 24 weeks if they are k-5 or lower.

kid millionares

We’re looking for the next superstar!  Somewhere in the world, a superstar is playing chess right now because it’s the only thing available.  If you are a casual player and think losing games and getting experience is the only way to get better at chess quickly, you should not be paying for chess training…there’s enough free stuff out there to learn how to do that!!  We are very expensive but once the student is in the homework program, we guarantee results as long as they complete their assignments!?!

If you’d like private lessons, we’ll want to test the student, discuss goals, length of commitment, and the rules that must be followed.  If we are all in agreement, then we will give you a detailed proposal and with your acceptance, begin right away.  The student we are looking for could be in your home right now!!  Let us know if you’d like to find out! 804-426-6058.  Ask for coach Mike C

Un-mute Everyone!!

happy customer screenOur goal is to teach our students mastery of the tools and toys at We show Novice/Intermediate players the 1st 6-9 moves and Intermediate/Tournament players the 7th-12th moves of a game. These are custom training sessions!! No one is muted in these classes! Our classes are a fun, easy, and engaging! There’s even a, “Scholarship Chess Business Center Learning Group”! Sign up today for the most custom and interactive classes on the web today!

13 July – 5 August Monday and Wednesday, Group 2.) 3 pm – 5 pm.

13 July – 5 August Monday and Wednesday, Group 1.) 7 pm – 845 pm.

14 July – 6 August Tuesday and Thursday, Group 1.) 3 pm – 445 pm.

14 July – 6 August Tuesday and Thursday, Group 2.) 7 pm – 9 pm.
10 August – 2 September Monday and Wednesday, Group 2.) 3 pm – 5 pm.

10 August – 2 September Monday and Wednesday, Group 1.) 7 pm – 845 pm.

11 August – 3 September Tuesday and Thursday, Group 1.) 3 pm – 445 pm.

11 August – 3 September Tuesday and Thursday, Group 2.) 7 pm – 9 pm.

1 session, $89.00, 2 sessions, $159.00. To Register, please call or email with the students, name, number, email, class strength, and day of the week. Mike Callaham, 804-426-6058 and You will receive an invoice from Square with further instructions.

Coach Mike Callaham

“Lose” Is Fired. Win and Draw Add up!!

Putting our new training system into a virtual classroom took longer than we thought and we sincerely apologize!  We were on fire before the pandemic hit!  Success in our 171 “New Schools Campaign”,  the launch of the “Scholarship Chess Business Center Management Group” on Facebook, our next  issue of Scholarship Chess Magazine was scheduled to be printed March 30th,  our coaches finished 2/61, 12/48, and 8/64 in the under 1800, under 2000, and open sections at the George Washington Open!!  I was scheduled to retake the MLO test at the end of March, and we’d just signed up with The Money Max  Account!! vacationWe knew the chess market could increase or decrease, but never expected a national shutdown that involved social distancing!! We wound up in the same position as everyone else… wishing we’d invested every dime we had into Zoom stocks. tired 2Converting in person, custom group lessons to custom group video lessons is hard work!!  We had to transition a lot of original concepts and reevaluate the nature of the delivery again to; instructor, teacher, and coach.  Then we had to find out what a good 90-120 minute presentation looked like, and finally we had to determine some minimum levels of performance and some lofty goals. no-experience-neededThere’s no waiting in chess for anything!  Comforting students about losses is a contradiction of what you paid for and will actually slow them down!!  The biggest challenge participants and parents will ever face is, ” doing exactly as they are told”.  Our win and draw training system has a 7 yr old as one of the coaches!!   The only experience our students need to win and draw chess games is being good at, “doing exactly what they are told”!   Making our own mistakes is no longer required.

After completion of our courses, the only question you need to answer after a game is, “Did I do exactly what I was told to do all the time, most of the time, some of the time, or not at all.  Students up to 1600 will win all of their games with an, “all” answer, they will win most of their games with a, “most” answer, some of their games with a, “some” answer!!  A, “not at all” answer means they don’t need any more classes right now!!


With events cancelling all over the country we put serious thought into what would be the new measuring stick for success!!  With no real world events, the toy parts, entertaining parts, and intriguing parts of chess must be used to produce the same results as serious study! is the perfect venue for improving players to have toys and tools!  Look for suggested accomplishments for class placement.

measure 2

Next we conquered the challenge of groupings!  We offer a range of instruction for 2 groups.  The novice/intermediate, and the intermediate/tournament.

1.) Novice/Intermediates:  The goal is to decrease the number of tactical errors in the 1st 6-9 moves of the game.  We’ll teach, instill, practice, and test on our elements of tactics, strategy, and move selection.  Chess between classes is encouraged, explained, and reviewed, but the work is not a requirement.  Participants that do the work will have more confidence,  understanding, and stamina!  Their training will focus on tactical exercises, puzzles, and reviewing their own games.

2.) Intermediates/Tournament:  The goal for these players is detecting tactical and strategic errors in the 1st 7-12 moves of the game.  This group will be shown what to study and how to study for extremely fast and tangible progress!  Work between classes is encouraged, explained, and reviewed.  Participants that do the work will have more self reliance, play more accurately, and be able to explain how they navigated all parts of the game.  Their training will focus on openings analysis, understanding the rating system, the next level of our win/draw system, and how to evaluate their own performances.

Their 100 puzzle test should have an accuracy of 65% or better.  Puzzle Rating, 1400!  Their 3 minute, 5 minute, and Survival Puzzle Rush should approach 10, 14, and 18 respectively.  By comparison, my high for puzzles is 2463 and my Puzzle Rush are 21, 32, and 42!

evolution    square

Our delivery methods and systems are not the only thing that have evolved.  Many of our customers preferred cash to checks.  Many prefer using credit cards to writing checks.  With invoicing by, “Square”, it will be a neater and better communication for everyone!  It’s also a way for us to provide you updates and information about future classes and tournaments.


Group 1.) lasts 1 hr 45 minutes, Group 2.) lasts 2 hrs. Class materials and delivery are continually customized to reflect the interest and skill of the participants!  Maximum class size is 10!  1st come, 1st served, no exceptions!  

Session 1

18 May – 10 June  Monday and Wednesday, Group 1.) 7 pm – 845 pm.

19 May – 11 June Tuesday and Thursday, Group 1.) 3 pm – 445 pm.

19 May – 11 June Tuesday and Thursday, Group 2.) 7 pm – 9 pm.

Session 2

15 June –  8 July Monday and Wednesday, Group 2.) 3 pm – 5 pm.

15 June – 8 July Monday and Wednesday, Group 1.) 7 pm – 845 pm.

16 June – 9 July Tuesday and Thursday, Group 1.) 3 pm –  445 pm.

16 June – 9 July Tuesday and Thursday, Group 2.) 7 pm – 9 pm.

Session 3

13 July – 5 August Monday and Wednesday, Group 2.) 3 pm – 5 pm.

13 July – 5 August Monday and Wednesday, Group 1.) 7 pm – 845 pm.

14 July – 6 August Tuesday and Thursday, Group 1.) 3 pm –  445 pm.

14 July – 6 August Tuesday and Thursday, Group 2.) 7 pm – 9 pm.

Session 4

10 August – 2 September Monday and Wednesday, Group 2.) 3 pm – 5 pm.

10 August – 2 September Monday and Wednesday, Group 1.) 7 pm – 845 pm.

11 August – 3 September Tuesday and Thursday, Group 1.) 3 pm –  445 pm.

11 August – 3 September Tuesday and Thursday, Group 2.) 7 pm – 9 pm.


Sign up for 1 session for just $89.00, 2 sessions just $159.00, 3 sessions just $229.00 and all 4 sessions is just $289.00.  To Register, please call or email us the students, name, number, email, class strength and day of the week.  Mike Callaham, 804-426-6058 and  You will receive an invoice from Square with further instructions.

Thank You For Your Business,

Coach Mike Callaham




Steak and Cake! You bring the Gravy and Icing!

Here’s the test.  Look at these 18 positions.  If you know what opening it is and who’s move it is, you don’t need to come to our Zoom course! 

If you can score a 90 or above, I’ll give you a free book of your choice!  Answers must be in by Friday no later than 5 pm!  No Cheating!! lol   Email your answer or post it in the comments section on faceboook! Here are the answers:

1.) 5 moves, the 4 knights, B 2.) 5 moves, Wilkebarr/Trexlar, W 3.) 8 moves, 4 knights gambit W 4.) 5 moves, Ruy Lopez, W 5.) 6 moves, The Spanish, W 6.) 7 moves,Queens Gambit Accepted, W 7.) 6 moves, Queens Gambit Smyslov, W 8.) 7 moves, Budapest Classical, B 9.) 6 moves, Budapest Center, B 10.) 6 moves, Albin Counter, B 11.) 7 moves, Nimzo/Bogo Indian, W 12.) 7 moves, Nimzo Indian, B 13.) 6 moves, Queen’s Indian, B 14.) 9 moves, Philidor Defense, W 15.) 9 moves, Philidor Defense, W 16.) 8 moves, Philidor in Reverse, W 17.) 8 moves,Sicilian, W 18.) 7 moves Queen’s Indian, W. Read ’em and weep rookies!! hope to see you in a class before it’s all over!


Players Choice Zoom Training Buffet!! Corona Discount Applied 4/20/20

happy customer screen

Scholarship Chess business Center has made the switch to ZOOM!  Our 1st course is starting on the 27th of April!  One of the really cool features of Zoom is you can pick and choose what material you want out of any of our courses!  This is the current line up;

Wk 1.) Mon. Tour of Every tool to get better at chess fast is here! Wed. Settings for and how to use it’s computer. Fri. How to use to get free game analysis!  $7.50 each or all 3 for $19.99
Wk 2.) Mon. Components of tactics and puzzles. Wed. Puzzle Rush, speed is good for training. Fri. Battle Rush and components review. $7.50 each or all 3 for $19.99the buffet 2

Wk 3.) Mon. 4 Knights Trexler punish beginners that won’t leave the 4 Knights and the Fried Liver! Wed. 4 Knights Gambits are forced and dangerous lines that stop your opponent from copying your moves! Fri. The Ruy Lopez is the next evolutionary step in every chess players growth!  $10.00 each or all 3 for $24.99
Wk 4.) Mon. Queens Gambit Accepted. Taking the pawn is fundamental to understanding d pawn play! Wed. The Budapest Gambit forces d pawn players out of their game. Fri. The Albin Counter Gambit is a highly respected argument against 1.d4. We’ll show you why!  $10.00 each or all 3 for $24.99
Wk 5.) Mon —- Memorial Day. Wed. The Nimzo Indian is a solid reply to the Queens Gambit and offers chances to the player who is best prepared! Fri. The Queens Indian Defense goes about solving the problem with black’s light squared bishop!  $10.00 each or 2 for$14.99the buffet 1Wk 6.) Mon. Coach Mike’s Philidor Defense and all the dangers before castling. Wed. Philidor middlegame strategy. Fri The Philidor In Reverse. Most openings can be played in reverse. This one is a killer!  $15.00 each or all 3 for $34.99Chinese food
Wk 7.) Mon. It is only after you have seen other openings that you are ready to look at the Sicilian. This class covers the ideas behind it and the gambits that try to stop it! Wed The Grand Prix Attack throws every tool available at black and has themes good against all variations of the Sicilian. Fri. The Dragon. For decades this was the most feared variation of the Sicilian. We’ll cover the old variation and the accelerated! Everyone knows that It is something special when I decide to sit down to teach the Sicilian!!  $20.00 each or all 3 for $49.99

Dates are April 27 – June 12th

Days: Mon, Wed, and Fridays.

Times: 3 pm-5:00 pm (last 30 minutes is question and answer!)

Take all 7 weeks for just $99.00!

Players that know how to move the pieces and rated under 1600 will get the most from the course!!

For those of you that don’t know, group chess instruction usually starts at $10.00 per hour of instruction per person!  That’s for beginner lessons!!  With SCBC you can pick and choose what is most important to you.  You get the best deal when you take all 7.  That’s over $230.00 if taken separately, $189.93 week to week or just $99.00 for all 7!  Please take advantage of this special Corona Discount!   

To register, send the students name along with your name, email, and phone number to,  If you wish to register by phone the number is 804-426-6058.  Just ask for Coach Mike C.  Must have 72 hours notice!  registrations after 5 pm on Friday will have a $10,00 late fee! 

Your registration confirmation will come with payment instructions.  Keep updated on new courses at the website and on Facebook!

SCBC Coaches Score 10.5/15 At The George Washington Open

This weekend 3 SCBC coaches played in the George Washington Open in Reston VA.  Mike Callaham played in the Under 1800, Master Coach Jason Moorefield played in the Major, and Coach Avijith Rajan in the Under 2100. Mike earned 4/5 = 3 wins 2 draws and 0 losses, finishing 2nd, 2nd/61, Coach Jason earned 3.5/5 = 3w 1d 1l finishing 3rd, 8/64 and Coach Rajan earned 3/5 = 3w 0d 2l, finishing 4th, 12th/48!  Our carpool of fun and laughs was from left to right; Mike Callaham, Mike Valentino, Patrick Spain, Avijith Rajan.

the boys

We came we saw and we did some damage.  I’m never going to tell my students that with what we teach, it’s Ok to lose chess games.  I see and hear it all the time!  You can’t win them all, you have to get experience, you learn more from your losses… It’s all nonsense! I encourage my students by telling them, “Your opponent’s parents, coaches, friends and family expect them to lose games in this tournament!  Your job is make sure you don’t disappoint them!!  At SCBC we’ve got a formula that explains success and failure at the chess board!  The formula can be used by anyone that knows when a chess game is over!  Winning and losing are now a will or won’t not a can or can’t.  As your rating increases and the opponents get harder, the only thing needed is more discipline!  Why am I so serious?!  For years I’ve been telling everyone around me, if you’re losing with the SCBC system, it’s because you don’t really care about winning! I’ve listened to student after student and class after class repeat word for word what they are supposed to be doing at the board.  Then when they get to a tournament they’re as bad as a chef who keeps trying to turn, ‘over easy” eggs with a fork, a knife, spoon, an ice-pick, toothpick, or anything  instead of a spatula?!  Our system is so simple that if you’ve been taught it and won’t use it, it could be said that checks, captures, threats, and sacrifices just aren’t important to how you, “want” to play chess?!  I don’t make this stuff up, I’m just reporting. lol

The looks my wife would give me if I told her we are going for a 2 hour drive to pay to enter a tournament, pay for lodging, pay for food, take up the whole family’s day or weekend, and I will habitually be ignoring checks, captures, threats, and sacrifices that exist for both sides!? LOL!

Our mantra has 4 parts!  We gave out part 1 of the rule in 2011, then part 2 of the rule in lessons, classes, lectures, camps, training guides and videos. Rajesh Pandit’s whole family increased over 1200 points in just 6 months.  We’ve had tremendous success at getting kids over 1000 but they have other activities and the proximity of events that will test them requires travel.  I’m working on it and that’s beset with many unique and hidden challenges as well!  We continue the never ending search for another Jason Morefield, Jennifer Yu or Praveen! Someone that wants to win and is willing to work!  If parents, spouses, and coaches got the Mike’s wife face more often instead of coddling them with,  ” Do you understand? “, that would cause their ratings to go up a lot faster!?

Thanksgiving newletter 096

I’ve decided to just go get the examples of the system in action myself!  Last year I set a goal to see just how unbeatable I can become using discipline and my SCBC System!!

gwo 1

The 6 points and 8 winning positions I produced in the World Open in July did little to change peoples behavior!  They were still doing the chant without doing the dance!?  So I decided that 1, whether they use it or not, I will teach it to my coaching staff.  Then 2, I will lead by example!

tired 1  new cbd line up

At 57 the biggest challenges are fatigue, being able to make good decisions from the information my system gives me about the position, and having the fortitude, strength, discipline and character to fight relentlessly for a win, a draw, and no losses.  I’m usually abhorrent about things like 5 hour energy and the like but for this tournament in addition to my CBD, I used our, “My Daily Choice” Boost and the Brain sprays before the beginning of each round.  The change in my alertness was instantaneous, invigorating, and enduring.  I didn’t have so much as 1 yawn while I was playing.  The also helped me get to form faster!  I should have used them at the World Open!!  I won’t play in a tournament without them again!  Don’t get me wrong, I need to be in better shape and I need to study, but it’s a relief knowing that I won’t be falling asleep at the board anymore!

I’ll be posting the games from the GWO just like I did for the games from the World Open!  Round 2 and 5 may be of theoretical importance.  Next stop is The Northern Va Open 20-22 March!!

The Final Piece Of Our Financial Services Puzzle!


mpney max Black independent-agent

This is the newest addition to our national network.  Some of you have tried our CBD!  Some of you have looked into Commercial Money, Loans, Credit, and Financing.  For those that are not aware we are currently engaged in becoming Mortgage Loan Officers.  And now we are helping businesses and consumers go from debt to wealth.  Every program we have is guaranteed to produce results.  This company, like the others we work with, also has a money back guarantee and enjoys a, AAA National Better Business Bureau Rating!

The Money Max software system helps you pay off your debts in 1/2 to 1/3 of the time!  You read right!  The software tells you step by step in real time exactly what to do to guarantee a 30 year mortgage will be paid off in 9.9 years or less!  I’m smart maybe even a genius,(lol) but I can’t tell you how it works because it works in real time like a financial GPS.  I know that you are smart and maybe geniuses too, so I’ll just tell you what it’s not, let that drive you crazy for a while like it did me, send you to watch a brief video, and give you a free e-book entitled, what else… “Convert Your Debt to Wealth”.

This is not a bi-weekly payment program or refinance!

This is not an increase to your current monthly budget!

This is not a mortgage modification, alteration, or any other change to your current mortgage!

This is not a program that works only for people with good credit!

You’re never going to guess, but if you have debt, you are going to pay!!  If you would like to pay a lot less and under the circumstances I’ve described, watch the video, get the book, and then call me!  I can find out for free and without further obligation, how soon you can make the amount you owe, ZERO!!!

If you have never looked at our products or our sponsors, that’s ok…Really!  If you ignore this one, and you have debt or have a mortgage, the chess punctuation for that has not been created yet but I will try; ???!???!??

Watch the video and give me a call.  Send the link to as many people as you can!  Good Luck!

Mike C 804-426-6058


Analyzing a game is a very detailed and beneficial part of everyone’s chess training. Many Grandmasters have talked about the importance of analysis. Alekine had a book maker sow 5 pages between each game of a tournament book he wanted to anyalyze. Botvinik when asked for advice would ask a player if they analyzed their own games. If the player answered no, Botvinik would simply walk away without replying to the player at all. Bobby Fischer took 400 of Spaskki’s games every place he went in preparation for his 1972 world title match. You should be analyzing Grandmaster games in the openings you play all the time.  It should be a regular part of your development.  The greatest benefit to analyzing your own games is that you know what one of the players was thinking. I made a committment to myself that I would analyze every tournament game I played. When you are new, you should record and analyze every game you play.  Don’t think so, where do you think all the classic, simul, coffehouse, odds, and off hand games came from.  The great players have always recorded more than their tournament games.  Once you begin to analyze your games, I guarantee you will meet yourself for the very 1st time. Knowing you will analyze every game you play improves your play instantly because finding the correct continuation at home instead of at the board isn’t acceptable! You want to increase you courage at the board, you want to increase your determination for, “at the board excellence”, recording and analyzing every game you play is a great start! This is how I go about analyzing a chess game.  You may develop your own method.  Try mine and see what you think!?  There are no diagrams because analysis is done with a chess board. At the end I will tell you how to use your computer!

Step 1) Watch the entire game 1st. You are doing this to get a feel of the game, refresh your memory, and to make sure your score sheet is accurate.

McClellen vs Callaham Rhein Main Air Base, Germany 1985

1.e2-e4 d7-d6 2.d2-d4 g8-f6 3.b1–c3 g7-g6 4.g1–f3 f8-g7 5.f1–e2 0–0 6.0–0 c7-c6 7.h2-h3 e7-e5 8.d4xe5 d6xe5 9.c1–e3 b8-d7 10.d1–d2 f8-e8 11.a1–d1 d8-c7 12.a2-a4 d7-f8 13.e3-c5 f6-d7 14.c5-d6 c7-b6 15.e2-c4 f8-e6 16.c4xe6 e8xe6 17.f1–e1 b6xb2 18.d1–b1 e6xd6 19.b1xb2 d6xd2 20.f3xd2 d7-f8 21.d2-f3 f8-e6 22.e1–d1 e6-d4 23.b2-b1 b7-b6 24.f3xd4 e5xd4 25.c3-e2 c8-b7 26.e2xd4 c6-c5 27.d4-b5 b7xe4 28.d1–d7 e4xc2 29.b1–e1 c2xa4 30.d7xa7 a8xa7 31.b5xa7 b6-b5 32.e1–e8+ g7-f8 33.e8-a8 c5-c4 34.a7-c6 g8-g7 35.c6-d4 f8-c5 36.d4xb5 a4xb5 37.a8-a5 c5-d4 38.a5xb5 d4-f6 39.b5-c5 c4-c3 40.g1–f1 g6-g5 41.f1–e2 g7-g6 42.e2-d3 h7-h6 43.g2-g4 f6-g7 44.c5-c6+ g7-f6 45.f2-f3 g6-g7 46.c6xc3 f6xc3 47.d3xc3 g7-g6 48.c3-d4 f7-f5 49.d4-e5 f5xg4 50.h3xg4 h6-h5 51.g4xh5+ g6xh5 52.e5-f5 ½–½

Step 2) Now on this trip through the game circle the moves that you think are suspect for white and for black. If there was a move that you thought was really good or bad circle those. The turning points in the game, circle those. At what you think were difficult or theory breaking moves for you or your opponent circle those. I’ve analyzed this game several times and have found improvements each time. To be brief, the moves to circle here are: 6…c7-c6, 7… e7-e5, 11. a1-d1, 12…d7-f8, 16 c4-e6, 17…b6-b2, 21…d7-f8, 25. …c8-b7, 28. d1-d7, 33..c5-c4, 36.d4-b5, 37…c5-d4, 46.c6-c3.

Here we are at the main line of the Classical Pirc. From here Black can play about 7 different alternatives. I’d read all I could find on the Pirc at the time, The Pirc for the Tournament Player, RHM Press, Batsford chess openings, Modern chess openings, and even Horowitz’s Chess openings theory and practice. I chose c7-c6 because it fit well with my style at the time. I also knew my opponent played classical lines exclusively to avoid tactical skirmishes. My plan was to secure good space and then start trouble.

7… e7-e5! this is the correct notation for this move. Studying is one thing but playing is another. A true Pirc player is going to know that any attempt to punish this with exchanges, fails!! Don’t get me wrong, white has a slight plus here but it can’t even be called an initiative. It is one way to test your opponent. Their response it may be an indication of their background, ability or mood! See for yourself.

8. d4-e5 d6-e5 9.f3xe5 f6xe4 10.c3xe4 g7xe5 11.c1–g5 d8-c7 12.d1–d2 c8-f5 13.e4-f6+ e5xf6 14.g5xf6 b8-d7 15.f6-d4 d7-b6 16.e2-f3 a8-d8; 9.d1xd8 f8xd8 10.c1–g5 b8-d7 11.f1–d1 d8-e8 12.g5-e3 b7-b5=

11. a1-d1?! Once you’ve really studied an opening that allows you to clear the back rank most of the time, you have to know which rook to move! Realizing your opponent is out of their opening book is a great confidence booster during a game. A couple moves from now, having left that rook on a1 would have not allowed c7-b6.

12….d7-f8?? A big mistake that allows the white pieces to take up residence. I under estimated e3-c5 and c5-d6.

16. c4-e6?? big mistake. White gains a lasting advantage after, 16.c3-e2 c6-c5 17.d2-e3 a7-a6 18.f1–e1 e6-d4 19.e2xd4 c5xd4 20.e3-a3 g7-f8 21.d6xf8 d7xf8 22.c2-c3 b6-c7 23.c4-d5±

17…b6-b2!? Here I thought I would win a piece by getting white to take the rook on d6 with his queen in the combination. When he didn’t, I got that feeling we all get when we think we’ve just blown the game. The truth is after this combo I’m actually in the best position I’ve had all game. My opponent and I are feeling the same way and the position is level. LOL!

20…d7-f8? It’s getting late in the game, I didn’t know anything about stamina at the time. I really needed to give this position a good looking over since it was the 1st free move I was getting after a forced, and surprise continuation. I Was getting tired and didn’t know it. I’ll admit I also needed an attitude adjustment! 21…d7-c5! holds like a rock. It’s an out post that cannot be allowed to stand, and I have the 2 bishops and a pawn for the exchange! I should have been thrilled. 20…d7-c5 21.e1–d1 c8-e6 22.d2-b3 c5xb3 23.c2xb3 g7-f6 24.g1–h2 a8-c8=

21. d2-f3? Gary Kasparov said it best that the person who make the last mistake loses. I’ve learned that mistakes come in pairs. One apiece or two in a row, they come in pairs. Analysis has taught me to expect and avoid the second error and leave that for my opponent. Mistakes shock both of us and we must both remain calm afterwards to keep from making more errors!! 21.a4-a5! f8-e6 22.d2-c4 e6-c5 never getting to the d4 square any way! 23.c4-d6 g7-f6 24.g1–h2 f6-e7 25.d6xc8 a8xc8 26.e1–d1 and the 2 bishops are gone.

25…c8-b7? I called myself being fancy. I should have made the pawn chain. I wanted the e pawn so bad. At this point in the game, I was still mis judging who was winning. Today I would maintain that 4 against 2 majority and not let it get knocked down to 3 against 2. 25…c6-c5 26.a4-a5! b6xa5 (26…a8-b8 27.a5xb6 a7xb6 28.e2-f4 b6-b5 29.f4-d3 c5-c4 30.d3-b4 c8-d7=) 27.b1–a1 d4-d3 28.c2xd3 g7xa1 29.d1xa1 a5-a4 30.a1xa4 a7-a5 31.e2-c3 g8-g7 32.f2-f3 c8-d7=

28 d1-d7?? We all love to brag about how we had the game won. Analysis reveals the back and forth nature of the struggle. 28.d1–d2 e4-c6 29.d2-e2 g7-f6 30.b1–d1 g8-g7 31.d1–d6 a8-e8 32.e2xe8 c6xe8 33.b5xa7 e8xa4 34.d6xb6 a4xc2 35.b6-c6 Look familiar!? The trouble with endgames is you have to be able to see farther and farther away!

35…c5-c4?? This was one of my early analysis positions. It’s one that stands out in my mind because of this error. Calculating this win was well within my ability and I missed it. I was tired but more than anything else I committed the rookie not calculating which pawn I should push and acted like the result would be the same. I don’t think I’ve ever been meaner to myself than I was when I analyzed this game! Analysis will make you take vows that you will never break. [33…b5-b4!! 34.a8-c8 g8-g7 35.a7-c6 b4-b3 36.c6-a5 f8-d6 37.a5-c4 a4-b5 38.c4-b2 g7-f6 39.g2-g3 b5-d7 40.c8-h8 h7-h5 41.h8-a8 d6-e5 42.b2-d3 e5-d4 43.a8-b8 c5-c4 44.d3-e1 d7xh3 45.e1–f3 d4-c3 46.b8-b6+ h3-e6 47.b6-b7 e6-d5 48.b7-b6+ f6-e7 49.f3-g5 c3-e5 50.b6-b5 b3-b2 51.g1–h2 e5-g7 52.b5xd5 b2-b1 and wins if they hadn’t already resigned!

36. d4-b5?? Not time to throw themselves on the sword yet. At least try to fight it for a few more moves. [36.d4-e2 c5-b4 37.g1–f1 g7-f6 38.a8-a7 c4-c3 39.a7-c7 f6-e6–+ The knight must take now or let black chase the rook from the c file. Neat stuff.

37…c5-d4?? Angry with myself is an understatement. This isn’t even hard enough to be a puzzle for anyone over 1000!!  37…c4-c3 38.a5xb5 c5-a3 39.b5-b7 c3-c2 40.b7-c7 c2-c1+ –+

46. c6-c3?? The final throw away of the game by either side. White wins by forcing the bishop to protect the pawn from another diagonal.[46.d3-e4 g7-g6 47.c6-d6 g6-g7 48.e4-f5 f6-e7 49.d6-c6 e7-b4 50.f5-e4 b4-a5 51.e4-d3 f7-f6 52.c6-a6 a5-b4 53.a6-a4 b4-d6 54.d3xc3 d6-e5+ and the king will walk around and take everything.

This may look long but we only questioned 14 out of a possible 104 half moves. Now that you have finished your analysis and have written down all the possble continuations, here is how you make your analysis stick. Set the board up one more time and begin to rewrite the game. As you rewrite the game, put the proper punctuation for each move you looked at. Stop and look at the position and ask yourself if you understand the position and the punctuation you are giving.

1.e2-e4 d7-d6 2.d2-d4 g8-f6 3.b1–c3 g7-g6 4.g1–f3 f8-g7 5.f1–e2 0–0 6.0–0 c7-c6 7.h2-h3 e7-e5! 8.d4xe5 d6xe5 9.c1–e3 b8-d7 10.d1–d2 f8-e8 11.a1–d1N d8-c7 12.a2-a4 d7-f8?? 13.e3-c5 f6-d7 14.c5-d6 c7-b6 15.e2-c4 f8-e6 16.c4xe6? e8xe6 17.f1–e1 b6xb2!? 18.d1–b1 e6xd6 19.b1xb2! d6xd2 20.f3xd2 d7-f8? 21.d2-f3? f8-e6 22.e1–d1 e6-d4 23.b2-b1 b7-b6 24.f3xd4 e5xd4 25.c3-e2 c8-b7? 26.e2xd4 c6-c5 27.d4-b5 b7xe4 28.d1–d7?? e4xc2 29.b1–e1 c2xa4 30.d7xa7 a8xa7 31.b5xa7 b6-b5 32.e1–e8+ g7-f8 33.e8-a8 c5-c4?? 34.a7-c6 g8-g7 35.c6-d4 f8-c5 36.d4xb5? a4xb5 37.a8-a5 c5-d4?? 38.a5xb5 d4-f6 39.b5-c5 c4-c3 40.g1–f1 g6-g5 41.f1–e2 g7-g6 42.e2-d3 h7-h6 43.g2-g4 f6-g7 44.c5-c6+ g7-f6 45.f2-f3 g6-g7 46.c6xc3?? f6xc3 47.d3xc3 g7-g6 48.c3-d4 f7-f5 49.d4-e5 f5xg4 50.h3xg4 h6-h5 51.g4xh5+ g6xh5 52.e5-f5 ½–½

Finally it is time to load the game on to your computer. Set it up for infinite analysis and have it show 12 possible lines of play. Give each even slighlty non obvious move at least 20-30 seconds to see what your engine thinks. When you get to the moves you checked, see what the computer thinks and check your analysis. Once you have corrected all of the analysis with your computer, print it out and repeat the verification exercise.  Never ever allow your computer to go over a game before you do.  The computer is the tool, not the boss.  If you let the computer go 1st, Botvinik would just walk away from you!!!!!!

Now, go play chess with anyone or anything and notice how differently you are looking at the board.

If this has been helpful to you please leave a positive comment! If this has blown your mind, please leave a coment and a donation.

Always wishing the best for chess,

Mike Callaham/President