Tricky Ending

Most King and Pawn endings are relatively simple to play, but there are exceptions called "corresponding square" positions that are technically very complicated. Most players below the level of Expert wouldn't even know that these endings exist. I have had a couple of these kinds of endings memorized for around 25 years, but this particular ending I did not know. My first impression looking at the position is that the game would be a draw. As White, Grandmaster Firouzja lost to the world champion Magnus Carlsen because he did not find the correct move here. The right move is counterintuitive. However, I would assume that most professional players would know these positions by heart.  


This combination is interesting

A bad opening goes very bad

[Event "Casual Game"]
[Site "https://itsyourturn.com"]
[Date "2020.09.22"]
[Round "?"]
[White "John Coffey"]
[Black "francishenryd"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D07"]
[WhiteElo "2016"]
[PlyCount "33"]
[EventDate "2020.09.22"]

1. Nf3 d5 2. d4 Nc6 3. c4 Nf6 4. cxd5 Qxd5 5. Nc3 Qd8 6. d5 Nb4 7. Qa4+ Bd7 8.
Qxb4 b6 9. Qb3 e6 10. e4 exd5 11. e5 Ne4 12. Qxd5 Nxc3 13. bxc3 Be6 14. Bb5+
Bd7 15. Bxd7+ Ke7 16. Ba3+ c5 17. Qd6# 1-0


Chessmaster, The (NES) - Online Game | OldGameShelf.com

Before the internet, the only way to play chess was in person or with a dedicated chess computer, and the dedicated chess computers didn't start to get good until about 1983, when the best one was about 1800 strength.

From 1984 to mid-1990's I owned 3 chess-playing computers.   I sold them when I switched over to desktop computers, but I kind of regret not having them any more.  Part of me wonders if they would still beat me today like they did back then?   I am wondering if I could now give them a better game?

The 1984 Novag Super Constellation was pretty impressive considering that it was running on just a 4 MhZ 6502 8-bit processor.  The USCF assigned it a rating of 2000, which is likely a little high.  It is my understanding that the program only looked at 500 moves per second   Compare that to my 64 bit 3.4 GHZ iMac with 4 cores.  Stockfish on this computer looks at around 5 million moves per second.

Nevertheless, I had trouble beating the Super Constellation at level 1 which was 5 seconds per move.   At the time, I was rated in the 1700's.  I could win most of the time, but the higher levels game me trouble.

I am surprised to find my name on a webpage about the Super Constellation.    https://www.chessprogramming.org/Super_Constellation    Apparently in 1998 I made a forum post where I was wondering the exact same things that I am wondering now.  Even then I referred to this as an old chess computer.

The 1988 Fidelity Designer 2100 (http://www.spacious-mind.com/html/designer_2100.html)  series running an 8-bit 6502 at 5 MHZ was a slight improvement over the Super Constellation.  The USCF gave it a rating of 2100 which some claim is too high.  I certainly found it a challenge, but I wasn't content to stop there.   Later got the 16-bit Fidelity Designer Mach III 2265.  For its time, this thing was a beast.  I played it a ton of games at G/30 and only won once.  At the time I was rated 1800.

I can't go back play these old chess computers, but I can run some older videogame software through emulation.

I found a website that runs The Chessmaster program from 19991 for the Nintendo Entertainment System.  This is emulating a 1.79 MHZ 8 bit 6502 processor.  This should be a little weaker than the Novag Super Constellation.  

First of all, I am surprised that a website can emulate an old videogame system.  I also found this fun to play.  The controls take a little getting used to.  You have to press "Select" (shift key) to get to the options where you can control the difficulty.  There is also an option to make it full screen.  The graphics aren't the best, but are okay.

As as I said, I found this fun to play.  There are a couple of beginner levels, and then level 1, 2, 3 etc.  After beating level 1 at 5 seconds per move, I only barely beat level 2 at 7.5 seconds per move.  I had to outsmart it in the endgame to win.

I am able to run the SNES version of this program through emulation on my NES Classic videogame system and on the PC.  The SNES 65816 processor is twice as fast and a little more sophisticated, so the SNES version should be as good as the Novag Super Constellation.   At the time that these Chess Master programs were released for the videogame consoles, which was around 1991, the version of Chess Master for computers was called Chess Master 2100.  I later owned a copy of Chess Master 3000 which seems extremely crude now.

In the 1990's I programmed SNES videogames for a living.

John Coffey



This Happens To All of Us || Morphy vs Löwenthal (1858)

I find the endgame interesting.  There is also a very interesting pawn sacrifice by Morphy that his opponent wisely doesn't accept.



chess.com changes to their rating system today

Earlier today I noticed that my chess.com bullet rating was 1900.  This could not be correct, and later it showed up as 1649.  However, my bullet rating had been at a record low of 1499.  Chess.com decided to add 150 points to all bullet ratings to make the average match the average of their blitz ratings.  I still think that their ratings are too low, but this is a welcome improvement.

Prior to the adjustment, my highest bullet rating was over 1700.

In addition, chess.com has decided to start counting G/10 as Rapid instead of Blitz.  This would have affected how some of the games I played tonight were rated.  I thought that the USCF considered G/10 to be Quick and not Blitz, but I was wrong.  It appears that the USCF considers G/10 to be Blitz and maybe Quick as well, although I personally think that Blitz should be considered less than 10 minutes.

Chess.com considers anything longer than 9 minutes to be "Rapid", except for "turn based" postal like games.

From what I can tell, the USCF considers 10 to 29 minutes to be "Quick".  Anything from 30 to 59 minutes was traditionally called "Action Chess", although the USCF now rates 30 to 60 minutes as dual rated both Quick and Regular.  The USCF considers anything over 59 minutes as "Regular."


chess.com and cheating

So chess.com has some sophisticated method of detecting people who cheat, and they are kicking 500 people a day off their site for cheating. So far they have kicked off 400,000 people. https://www.chess.com/article/view/online-chess-cheating  


Automated Chess board - Losing to a Ghost


This automated chess board has a feature where you can play other humans on the internet.  Or you can play against a computer. However, this is far easier on a computer screen.  Even a phone or tablet is not so bad, and you have to use a phone app anyway to drive the board.

I saw something in the video that made it looked like the app is integrated with the chess.com website.

The presenter is a pretty terrible chess player.   He was getting crushed by a computer at "level 1".  This was most likely Stockfish at level 1.  Both the websites chess.com and lichess.org let you play Stockfish at multiple levels if you don't want to be humiliated by a human being, so I just now tested this out.  Levels 1 to 4 played so poorly that I couldn't stand to play them. I had to get up to level 6 just to be a little bit challenged but won anyway. 

The Legend: Paul Morphy - GM Ben Finegold


Get Free Coffee at Panera Bread

I've been getting free coffee for about 3 weeks.  I need to cancel the coffee subscription by the end of September in order not to be charged.


George R.R. Martin

On this day in 1996, George R.R. Martin published A Game of Thrones. Did you know he is a USCF life member and earned his living as a tournament director in the early 70s? Working on weekends 2 days a week gave him 5 days a week to write!  



Magnus Carlsen is back in the ring | Titled Arena

This is really fun to watch.

The world champion plays this online tournament as "Dr. Nykterstein".  This is an "arena" tournament, which is like a "Battle Royal" to see who can get the most points over a two hour period.  The tournament is mostly Grandmasters, making the level of play high.  It looks like Magnus Carlsen may have started late but then slowly moved up the standings until he was on top.

What is amazing is that this is a "bullet" tournament, where each player only has 1 minute to make all their moves. The players are averaging 1 to 2 seconds per move.  It is all I can do to keep up the games.  I get the impression that Magnus Carlsen's moves are at least equal to what I can do with two hours at my disposal.  It is amazing and instructive to watch.

The video gets off to a slow start but gets really entertaining 3 to 4 minutes into it.