Happy Steve

Innovation and Learning

Start with clarity of intent.

Now build it out with an evocative vision. Improvise progress by tinkering: with lots of trial and lots of error. The not knowing is the best bit: the mysteries the surprises, and from time to time the windfalls! 

Hello there, I'm Steve Collis! 

Click on "contact", won't you, and wave right back at me?

Second Game

So here is the game, comments below.

Various comments:

- move 6

knights are in very strong, but conservative position. The closer the knights can be to the centre the more power they potentially have. Nothing wrong with this set up at all.

Bishop on C4 is perfectly placed - look how it has free run of the board, with very little potential for being threatened by black.

In contrast the bishop on C2 is locked down and deactivated, with no hope in immediate sight because of the knight formation and pawn formations blocking movement. This turns out to be a fatal flaw.

- move 12

the sequence moving up to move 12 was really well played. It leaves me down two pawns and thankful for coming out that lightly.

at this point my pieces are dangerously undeveloped, and I have a gigantic hole blasted on one side of the board, and a pesky pawn with power over D2 and B2. However your pieces aren't much better - and your bishop and rook are still stuck.

- move 15

this is a key moment in the game. I think on your side I would have decided to push forward my pawns - which I think was your intention. But if you want to go pawn storming you need to support the pawns to the hilt. i.e. swing your pieces behind your pawns. 

- move 17

wise to move your queen back. I think you needed to activate your other pieces before moving your pawns up. Putting your bishop on B2 would have been a very powerful move, joining your two rooks together too.

from here you let me take the initiative, sidetracking the game to my advantage. By reacting to my attack you let me get space to maneuver and break out 

- move 22

I am still a little worried about your pawn but am now feeling able to focus on attack. I have two bishops and a queen directly lined up against your King with only pawns to protect.

Moving your knight down is a weak move, in comparison to moving your bishop and connecting your rooks, or moving your rook out away from your king, or advancing a pawn away from your king to prevent checkmate on row 1.

Correct thinking in this situation is to increase more and more pressure until something breaks. So that's what I'm trying to do.

- move 25

total blunder by me... not looking properly!

You still haven't moved your bishop! This is the point where I realise I can go for a back-row checkmate.

- move 26

I had been hoping to make this move for a while, ever since your queen moved there.


General Comments:

Your playing was really topnotch.

Your weakness is a lack of piece development. Don't hatch crazy plans and swing into immediate action. Instead, build steady, robust pressure. The pawn storm could have really damaged me if you had patiently build support behind it. I'm watching you send pieces in for cowboy attacks. Stay more connected.

Try not to think in terms of 'having a plan'. Instead look to have lots of different plans, and while you're watching and waiting use every move to strengthen your position and debalance mine.

It's also very normal to have NO PLAN at all! The trick in this situation is not to panic. Make a move that doesn't weaken your position, and hopefully strengthens it a little. Don't strike out randomly because you feel you should have a plan but don't.

Scan your overall position and look for pieces that could be activated further. Pieces have their potential amplified or constrained by their position on their board, ability to move, line of sight, etc.

So it's fine to have NO PLAN and fine to have lots of plans! The one situation that shouldn't happen is to have just one plan! Half the art of chess is to not fuse yourself to a plan, because everything is agility and contingency.

It is always worth working systematically through the other guy's available moves. This sort of menial calculation makes every chess player a prophet!

Scan both your side and my side for structural weaknesses... especially at the base of pawn formations, but also any piece that isn't quite as connected as the others. then build a strategy around exploiting that weakness.

Similarly look for your own structural weaknesses and strengthen them.

Look for a good move, then find a better one!

Every defensive move you make should ideally also contain a threat that the other guy now has to respond to.

Try to be the initiator and force the other guy into reacting. If he is always reacting then he'll slowly compromise his position because he is limited by YOUR AGENDA! Try to force me to react to you. I am trying to force you to react to me.

When you're ready, learn the classic tactical moves:

Always look out for clever tactical moves.

The classic ones are: forks, pins, double attacks, discovered attacks, and removing the guard. Look out for these. I keep using them against you but you haven't been using them against me so I don't think they're much on your mind. Check out the excellent animations and explanations here (Wikipedia) and also here (numbers, 2, 3, 4, 5).