Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Whoa, I need to get my head straight!

As of late, I've been putting most my energy into poker. It doesn't help that I was sick this last weekend and the better part of last week, not to mention Monday and Tuesday of this week as well. My Circle 2 is coming along HORRIBLY now. I don't know what's gotten into me. The problems seem MUCH harder now than in Circle 1. I'm finishing the levels with less percentage accuracy than before. I guess I can blame this on the fact that I've been playing/studying too much poker and not enough chess.

Now is a critical point in my life where I need to evaluate more in depth what I really want to achieve in life. I have made a couple friends who make very decent livings from playing professional poker (~$100,000/year) and they inspire me to do the same. I watch them play online and they seem invincible at the tables. I want to be like them, make money like them.... At the same time, I don't want to get too caught up in the hype and miss out on everything else life is throwing at me.

Lets do a quick analysis of my current position:

  • I'm 21 years old - still a baby in this world.
  • I work a 35 hour/week job at $12.50/hr, which is enough for now.
  • I'm expecting my first child late July or early August.
  • My fiancee is even more of a baby; 18 years old.
  • I have no vehicle or a place that I can really call "my own".
Now that we've got that outta the way, it's time to ask myself a few key questions:

1) Is it ok for me to be gambling at this point in my life? - At this point, I'm not really sure. I'm young and I still want to have fun while I can. I know that once this child is born I will be very limited to what I can and can't do. I want to go to Vegas with a couple grand and blow it all, I want to go to the Caribbean for a week and live life to the fullest. There's so much I want to do with my life right now but I feel so limited. I don't want to say that I feel trapped because that just sounds bad, but sometimes that's how I feel. It's almost getting to the point where I feel guilty just hanging out with friends on a Friday or Saturday night.

2) What are my expectations from chess and poker? - Like most chess players, especially newbs like myself, I wish to attain the title of Master or maybe even Grandmaster. I know this is highly unlikely but why give up? It's like resigning, you can't win if you resign. Are there any real benefits from becoming a Master chess player? We all know there's jack shit for money in Chess, which is where I turn over to poker. Now like most poker players, I want to risk a little and gain a lot. I have now seen many players do this on a daily basis on sites like Full Tilt Poker, Bodog, Sportsbook, UltimateBet, and PartyPoker. It's a real thrill playing poker because you know that your money is on the line. If you're Bill Gates then obviously you don't have this problem.

What it all boils down to is money. I want to make a more than decent living in life and I don't see myself doing that with my current job(which I don't plan on quitting) and my future wife's elementary school teaching career. I want to risk a little and gain a lot but it takes work. Looking at my current situation, it's obvious to see that it's nearly impossible for me to focus on both Poker AND Chess and be successful at both. That's just the way my brain works; it only allows me to obsess about one topic at time, thus meaning I should probably back off of one of them. I'm leaning more towards backing off of chess for awhile since it hasn't shown much progress and poker is atleast giving me extra money here and there. I want opinions people. Tell me I'm an idiot, I need to hear it! I need criticism as much as possible!

Sorry for my random ramblings.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Wednesday(late) night chess club..

Well I know it's a little late in the week to be blogging about my games from this Wednesday's chess club but I figured I might as well post it now rather than later this weekend when I'm booked with family activities and poker tournaments. My first round opponent was a 1623 USCF player whom I made fight for his win. We went down to a very close K +P v. K endgame which he was the winning side. He congratulated me on taking him that far down and that I play much better than an 1134 USCF player.

My second round opponent was not as generous. He found out my rating and persuaded to take me into a blitz game. I smiled as he played all his moves much too quickly and before he know it, I was up a whole piece. About 10 moves later I made a move, announced checkmate, and he was livid. He was so mad that he had let a measly 1100 player tag him. He cursed a little bit then stormed out. I laughed. Good times haha.

So I had decided just a couple nights ago that I might go to the FKB U.S. Championship Qualifier tournament in Tulsa next weekend. It would have cost me roughly $400 for the whole trip. I would've used my poker winnings to pay for the whole thing, but I decided it probably wasn't in my best interest to take part in a tournament like that just yet. The competition is way over my head at the moment and I don't want to go in there and play a tournament with results of 0-6. That might be a major self esteem killer. I'll just wait for the Pir Maleki; i'll be more prepared for that anyway.

Oh, I almost forgot. I have a new poker blog up as well. You can find it HERE if you're interested in that kinda stuff. That's all for now.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Updated Tournament Lists

I've decided to post up an updated list of tourney's that I'll be taking part in:

March 31(unrated)
UNM vs. Eldorado High School Alumni
Hosted by UNM Chess Club
2 Rounds, G/30
Third floor in the S.U.B.

April 26
14th Annual Pir Maleki Memorial
United World College, Montezuma, NM
Tournament Flier Entry Form
$1350 in Prizes and Trophies
1st Place Prize In All Sections Guaranteed
All entries must be postmarked by Monday, April 21st
Late entries by phone or email
No on-site registration

May 3 - 4, 2008
Bobby Fischer Memorial
4 round Swiss system tournament.
Time Control: G/2

Site: Manitou Springs City Hall, 606 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs.
Sections: Open, Reserve (U1600)
Entry fee: $35 if rec'd by 5/1, $40 at site. $9 discount for juniors, seniors, unrated.
Prizes: Cash prizes per entries.
Registration: 8:30 - 9:30, Rounds: 10, 3 ; 9, 2.
Entries: Richard Buchanan 844 B Prospect Place, Manitou Springs CO 80829
Phone: (719) 685-1984
The 1st Prize is now guaranteed at $400, and as donations continue to come in, these funds will be added to the 1st place prize fund, and it is only February 22!!
CSCA required, OSA.
Non-rated Community tournament also held Saturday.
Colorado Tour Event

May 31
Quads by Knight

Hosted by the Foothills Chess Club
3 Rounds - Round Robin - G/90
$55 to the winner of each Quad
Foothills Fellowship Church
Southwest Corner of Tramway and Candelaria
Albuquerque, NM
Advance Entries - $20 - must be received by 5/30
On Site Entries - $25 - Registration 7:30 am to 8:00 am
Flyer with Entry Form

June 5th-8th
International Chess Festival featuring National Open
Riviera Hotel, Las Vegas, NM
THE BIG ONE! w00t!

June 28/29
Albuquerque Open

Days Inn
2120 Menaul NE, Ph# 505-884-0250
5 SS, G/90
4 Sections
Open - EF $30 in advance, $40 on-site
U1800 - EF $25 in advance, $35 on-site
U1400 - EF $25 in advance, $35 on-site
U1000 - EF $20 in advance, $30 on-site
Prize Fund: $1000 b/70
Registration: Saturday 8-8:30am
Round Times: Sat. 9-1-5, Sun. 9-1
Advanced Entries must be received by 6/27
Additional $10 for on-site entries
After full price entry, additional family member entries for $15
Maximum of 1 half point bye may be requested before Round 1
Make checks payable to: NMCO
P.O. Box 4215, Albuquerque, NM 87196

Monday, March 17, 2008

A weekend of sweet Victory

Well here I am, reporting on my weekly status. I would like to start by saying that I came across a ChessCafe column which I absolutely LOVE! I'm sure most of you have heard of the Novice Nook. If you haven't, you're surely missing out! I have read all of the columns from 2001 and I have to say that I am highly impressed. Dan's articles on Real Chess and Time Management have opened my eyes a little more to chess and every OTB game I've played since reading those have been successes. Like I've said, look up the Novice Nook column on You won't be disappointed.

Anywho, this last weekend was incredible for me! Not just for chess, but also(mostly) for my poker playing. I hit the card rooms about 2:00pm Saturday afternoon and played till about 5:00AM Sunday. I was playing the $2-$4 low-limit tables and walked away a big winner with $500 up. Doesn't sound like much, but $500 is a VERY successful night in a $2-$4 hold'em game. It's always nice to win money like that especially when you're a poor bastard such as myself. However, it sucked for Sunday because A) I had to miss church and B)I was tired during my rated game at the once-a-month Foothills Chess Club. I remembered everything from Dan Heisman's Novice Nook article "The Secrets of Real Chess" during my game and managed to come out of the opening a piece up. About 15 moves (an hour and a half) later, I was up two pieces and forced him to trade queens. He sadly resigned. The game really wasn't anything special so I probably won't be posting it up. Fritz didn't give me anything special anyway =P

I'm about half way done with Circle 2 and I don't know if it was because of my lack of sleep this weekend, but my Level 50 problems are seeming MUCH more difficult this time around than in Circle 1. So far I'm about 2% behind what I was in Circle 1. Hopefully I can catch up tonight, we shall see. My rating has gone down nearly a hundred points these past couple weeks. I blame that on the amount of time I've put into my poker playing. I don't really care about my rating anymore anyway. Well that's pretty much it, I've updated my USCF rating on the sidebar.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Interesting Idea

I'm about a week into Circle 2 and man, it's been hell! The problems seem harder this time around, but my percentage of accuracy is much higher than from Circle 1. Maybe the problems seem harder because I'm actually thinking this time around. In one of my previous posts I had mentioned how GM Rashid preaches a similar tactics training program to the Seven Circles. In his article he states that if you can remember 1000 tactical positions "by hand" (not by mind) that you will have the tactical ability of a GM. At first I was a little skeptical to his view on this but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. My goal is to get 100% accuracy with CT-ART. That's 1200+ tactical positions that I expect to be able to solve completely "by hand". I'm not quite sure if any of the Knights have tried this type of approach but the way I see it is, I really have nothing to lose but my time.

So I've been thinking about how I would approach this and came to the conclusion that I would finish the Seven Circles program. By that time, I expect to have an overall success rate of about 60%-65%. After I've finished with the Seven Circles, I plan to do about 6 12-week mini-circle programs. Each "mini-circle" program will contain 200 problems from CT-ART. I will do the program in fashion of 8-4-2-1 doing about 25 problems for 8 days, 50 problems for 4 days, 100 problems for 2 days, and obviously all 200 on the final day. After each mini-circle, I will go on to the next 200 problems in CT-ART. Ultimately, my goal is to have around 90%-100% accuracy by the time I finish the sixth mini-circle program. If I'm still lower than my expected percentage rate, I may start the mini-circles program again or I may just do the Seven Circles program all over again.

I suspect that this will take around a year to accomplish and I understand if some of you think I'm crazy for attempting it. I agree, it sounds a little ridiculous but I want to see if this really works! Sure, I'll basically be giving up a year of my life for complete chess tactics study but if you think about it, it's only a year! If it works, then I'll be damn glad I did it. If it doesn't work, then that's a lesson well learned. I'm sure I'll at least gain 500 rating points by doing this type of rigorous study so I'm not really complaining about the time lost.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

UNM Octagon

Well my first rated tournament has come and gone! Saturday, March 1st, 2008 was my first rated tournament and I didn't do too bad! I came in third place and I won the U1100 section for a measly prize of $10!. There was only three rounds and my results were pretty much a break even: One win, one loss, and one draw. My opponents were pretty low rated players and I should have won every game but it turns out I wasn't fortunate enough to capitalize my advantages. My first game was against a 1209 player. He opened 1.d4 against me and I matched 1...Nf6. I played the King's Indian Defense for the first time and it seemed pretty successful. I came out of the opening a pawn up and I gave it right back for no apparent reason. He offered a draw and I took it. My second round opponent(another 1200) was the same player whom I played my first rated game. I felt a little nervous just for the fact that he beat me my very first rated game but I was also confident. My confidence payed off as the game was pretty much a complete slaughter house(as you will see shortly). I played 1.e4 and headed straight for the Scotch Gambit. He transposed to an odd line of the Italian which didn't bother me one bit. My last round opponent was a little stronger (1300+). I took the Black side of the Sicilian Scheveningen. I came across a position where one simple pawn move would have won the game for me, but I completely missed the opportunity and the game. I learned several lessons from that game. Here's the diagram of the said position:

My last move was 12...Nc5. My point was to put more pressure on e4. My opponent responded 13.Bf2?. The winning move for black would have been 13...b4!! but instead of the brilliant move, I played Nxd3 followed by a couple more blunders and the game was lost for me. Well here are all the games in order of rounds:

My provisional is now 1101(p6) which is up over 100 points! I know it's not much but I 'm very excited to finally have my rating over 1000! You can look at the final postings of the tournament at It's nice to see my name on the front page there!