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MVL is the MVP in Sinquefield 2017!

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave has had mixed results in the past year. In last year’s Sinquefield Cup, MVL, as he is known, was second in the world with a 2819 ELO and top seed. He finished on 50% and it started a string of mediocre results. Coming into the 2017 edition of the Sinquefield Cup, he would […]

Critical Moments

How do you analyze a chess game?I do several things, but the first step--whether my own game or one played by others--is identifying the critical moments in the game. When did the loser reach a technically lost position?Today was the last day of my tenth annual youth chess camp. Show More Summary

A Still Unknown Trap

Eight years ago, when I was still recording for ChessLecture, I gave a lecture called “My New Favorite Trap.” I talked about a 100 percent risk-free trap in the Center Counter Opening that should be especially effective against players who are “booked up.” Amazingly, according to ChessBase the trap had only been sprung one time […]

“Hip Hop Chess Day” in the Bronx

Jerald Times has been shuffling around the chess world for decades. He is known more as a coach than a player, but he has recently launched a new initiative with his inaugural “Hip Hop Chess Day” in the Bronx. Hip hop heads will know that the Bronx is where the roots of hip hop sprouted […]

It's Only Blitz

2 weeks agoHobbies / Chess : Chess Skills

I beat a National Master yesterday afternoon. It has been a couple of months since my last win against a titled player, so I was happy to get this one. It was my last game in a blitz playing session characterized by poor play, but it was a better game. Show More Summary

How to Think about Checkmate

2 weeks agoHobbies / Chess : Chess Skills

This week is my tenth annual youth chess camp. During this camp, I am making more explicit a training process that I have advocated for many years: work backwards through the game in your study. That is, start with checkmates, move from there to endgames, then study tactics and middlegame strategy, and only then examine the opening. Show More Summary

Chicago crushes Cleveland 293-147 in ‘Midwest Showdown’

Team Captains: Tichawona Tony Troy (Cleveland) and Daniel X Jones (Chicago). Photo by Tichawona Tony Troy The “Best in the Midwest” rivalry continues to brew as the Chicago Chess Blitzers travels six hours (one way) to Cleveland to take on the Heavy Hitters at Case Western University. The event was designed to be a 15-players […]

2017 Sinquefield Cup (St. Louis, USA)

Blazing trails lead to St. Louis, the self-proclaimed “capital of chess” to host to 2017 Sinquefield Cup. As part of the third of five events of the Grand Chess Tour, it is a chance for players to ground on tour leader and World Champion Magnus Carlsen. According to tournament organizers… The 2017 Sinquefield Cup is […]

Five Days to Better Chess

2 weeks agoHobbies / Chess : Chess Skills

Five Days to Better Chess: Essential Tools was published a few days ago. What is this book about? Who is the audience? This book offers content and process. This process is for all chess enthusiasts who seek to improve their own game, or who help others to do so. Show More Summary

Semi-Slav that went well

2 weeks agoHobbies / Chess : Rolling Pawns

It was a second round and I got paired with a 1951 rated boy, never played him before. I got Black and responded to his 1. c4 with Semi-Slav. As soon as he played 10. a3 I knew that I have play c5, otherwise my bishop will be “bad”, I had it before. Soon I […]

Smother Checkmate

2 weeks agoHobbies / Chess : Chess Skills

As I work my way slowly through Tal's Winning Chess Combinations (1979) by Mikhail Tal and Victor Khenkin, I am combing my databases for additional examples. In this way, I am building a database of exercises for personal training, teaching,...Show More Summary

Alekhine -- Lugowski 1931

2 weeks agoHobbies / Chess : Chess Skills

An unusual smother checkmate piqued my interest. It is presented in Mikhail Tal and Victor Khemkin, Tal's Winning Chess Combinations (1979), where it is credited as Alekhin -- Lugovsky 1931 (58). Due to spelling variances, my initial efforts to turn up the game score fell short. Show More Summary

Lesson One

3 weeks agoHobbies / Chess : Chess Skills

Where do you begin when teaching chess to a beginner? Certainly, the first steps should be the board and how the pieces move, as Daniel Rensch offers in "Everything You Need to Know 1: Start Playing Chess" on Or, perhaps there is a flaw in this approach. Show More Summary

Different Kinds of Equal

Inspired by Eric Rosen’s victory in the London System in my last blog post, I decided to give it a try against the computer. And guess what happened? I won my shortest game ever against Shredder. To be honest, the win had much more to do with Shredder’s awful play than my good play. Although […]

Daniel X Jones… Chicago’s Chess Warrior

Daniel X Jones with wife ZoraidaPhoto by Daniel X Jones Daniel X Jones has been a catalyst for chess on the south side of Chicago. While operating a martial arts dojo, he also hosts chess events to ignite enthusiasm that has been dormant for the past decade. He is also one of the members of […]

The Best Way to Beat a GM

This title sounds like the beginning of a joke: The best way to beat a grandmaster… is ANY WAY YOU CAN. (This is spoken by somebody who has never done it.) Nevertheless, if I ever beat a GM, I would want to do it the way that IM Eric Rosen did today. At the Xtracon […]

Blitz Rivalry on Tap! Chicago vs. Cleveland

The chess community is still buzzing after the Chicago-Memphis match and a number of videos of blitz battles have circulated around social media. A lot of inter-city trash-talking and sharp-witted banter has been bounced around and the result is the second team blitz match featuring Cleveland and Chicago. There was even a scouting visit by […]

Amin tops Africa, Lake Sevan… closing on 2700

Since 2004 winning the African Juniors and earning the IM title and winning the following year, Bassem Amin has been on a steady track to become the strongest player in Egypt. He now has a chance to make history by being the first player of the African continent to make the iconic 2700 ELO mark. […]

John Hesp. Poker. Chess. Fantasy.

Last night and the previous night I watched parts of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) final table on ESPN. It’s the first time I have ever watched live poker on TV, although I have watched the “canned” broadcasts now and then in the past. Of course, whenever I watch poker I mentally compare it […]

Carlsson, Nakamura on Perpetual Podcast

GM Pontus Carlsson (Sweden)Photo by Daaim Shabazz Ben Johnson contacted The Chess Drum a month ago to ask questions in preparation for his podcast with GM Pontus Carlsson. The directory of podcasts can be found here. These podcasts feature chess personalities from around the world in about a 60- to 90-minute format. Carlsson talked about […]

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