Mariya Muzychuk is 15th World Women’s Champion!

Mariya Muzychuk is 15th World Women’s Champion!

Mariya Muzychuk 15th World Women's ChampionMariya Muzychuk is the 15th World Women’s Champion! Congratulations to her for a stupendous performance. In the last game of the match, Natalia Pogonina needed a win at all costs, and she needed a miracle once again in the tournament. Unfortunately, she had Black, and Mariya Muzychuk only needed a draw! Muzychuk pretty much clamped down Natalia in the deciding game. And a new champion was crowned on this date (see her smiling pic on the left).

The grueling Women’s World Chess Championship took place from March 17 – April 7 in Sochi, Russia. The knock-out tournament was attended by 64 players, including the former World Champions Alexandra Kosteniuk (Russia), Anna Ushenina (Ukraine), and Antoaneta Stefanova (Bulgaria), the three-time Russian champion Valentina Gunina, the World Vice-Champion our own Humpy Koneru (India), our other strong contender Dronavalli Harika, as well as other leading grandmasters. Unfortunately, the reigning champion Hou Yifan was could not make it for personal reasons, but as the winner of the FIDE Grand Prix she will still be able to challenge the new champion to a match duel.

In a tournament that spanned approximately two weeks, it was getting crazier and crazier each passing day. The Indian challenge was well carried by Koneru Humpy and Dronavalli Harika but in the end a little bit of luck was also needed. What is commendable is the dream run that Harika had. What poise! What stamina! I wish her many more years of top-notch success as she is one who deserves it fully. The World Women’s Championship was indeed a revelation for her!

Harika first to semis!

The level of tension and fight can be understood by the fact that of the four matches left, three were to be decided in the tiebreaks! Harika Dronavalli was the only player to avoid that fate, as she defeated Meri Arabidze. Both Humpy Koneru and Natalia Pogonina were able to win in the tie-breaks, with the Russian winning her game with her trademark entertaining Benko Gambit.

Did Harika Dronavalli find her energy using the Ancient Indian Yogic pose called Vajrasana?

Harika in Vajrasana pose I remember seeing here in Chennai during the WinTV Chess tournament where She was accompanied by her Parents. She has not changed much! Anyways, now that the secret is out of the bag I think many female players in India will follow her and we may get to see a lot more Vajrasanas in Chess! I was gung ho when I saw here leading along with Humpy and when she faltered I was sure Destiny had planned better things for her.

One thing is for sure – anything that helps is needed and welcome in these pressure cooker situations (see Nakamura’s pic below)!  The World Women’s Championship tournament was indeed nerve wracking for the followers and the players!

Look what our local media had to say about her run in the WWCC – D Harika: Nerves of Steel in World Chess Championship



Nakamura SunglassesOn a side note do you remember Hikaru Nakamura’s Sunglasses?

Let’s hope Harika sets a benchmark in Indian Ladies Chess Scene and we get many more champions who will carry the Indian Torch forward! Thank you Koneru Humpy and Dronavalli Harika for making us proud!


Secrets of Positional Chess Training – 1

Secrets of Positional Chess Training – 1

Secrets of Positional Chess Training – 1


secrets of positional chess training

In this series of posts I will be discussing about the secrets of positional chess training and why you must care for it as much as tactics and endgames. For those of you who have not read my article – An excellent positional sacrifice, I strongly recommend you to read it before proceeding further. 

How to increase positional chess knowledge?

if you are below 1600 FIDE rating, I would suggest focusing solely on tactics, tactics and tactics, and everything I’m about to say is not applicable until you’ve improved more.

So, if you’re over 1600, and mostly satisfied with your tactics, but too often you end up having no clue what to play next. Then what?

Now you need to know about about the imbalances in chess – how they affect your game, and how to take advantage of them by manipulating the factors.

This means learning about endgames, as having the favorable positional advantages will usually help converting into a favorable endgame.

This is a lengthy topic, far too large to explain in one article; fortunately, there are good books and resources out there. The best books for learning the basics of both of endgames and the middlegame are by Jeremy Silman.

Harvesting the positional weaknesses present in the opponent’s position requires deep strategic understanding.

What is Strategic Chess Understanding?

This strategic understanding comprises of two elements:

  1. Awareness of positional factors such as effective piece placements, quality of pawn structure and safety of the King
  2. Generation of ideas or plans to make use of these factors.

Foundation of positional chess training

Here, the first step is to build a base of understanding. That is where the part of a coach comes in and also a good criteria how a good coach can be identified. The base of understanding has to be built from the basics of endgames.

Start with

Pawn Structures

King and pawn endings,

Rook endings

Minor piece endings

Queen endings

and then the meat of the middle game, which comprises of

Chess dynamics.

Secrets of positional chess training – Combination of hard and smart work

When we talk of Chess dynamics, thematic attacks and configurations are what an aspiring player needs to be given.

I am referring to an aspiring player who has mastered the basic tactical motifs like pin, skewer, fork etc.

At this stage he is like a aspiring chef who has just learnt the magic of making a tasty recipe; his true test would come when he is able to juggle with the resources present in the refrigerator, that too with a sudden unexpected onset of guests to his home.

Here confidence also plays a vital role in bridging the gap between rote-knowledge and skill-knowledge. The trick here is to convert rote-knowledge into skill based on repetition and familiarity, by constant practical applications.

Merely knowing how to bake a cake doesn’t make one a good baker. Doing it properly when time demands makes one an expert; similarly in chess winning consistently and properly, makes one a GM.

In later articles I will be expanding on many techniques to accentuate this bridging of knowledge. So I request you to follow me on regular basis.

Pillars of positional chess training

The next step is to build familiarity by constant revision and repetition of information. This is the most hallowed part of chess training regimen.

It is here where many people stumble, fall or stop altogether. Some players skip this entire process due to wrong assumptions and false guidance. I cannot stress enough the importance of this revision process and there are many ways it can be done.

For example, take the case of tabiya’s, when we first learn a new plan of attacking the castled king or mating the the uncastled king we tend to look at a few model games. The trick is not only about remembering this plan but also being able to execute when favorable configurations arise on the board.

And doing so also requires a confidence which needs to be built slowly over time.

Ready for the test drive?

The final stage is executing a move taking into consideration the above discussed factors under test conditions such as time pressure situations or high-stake scenario. This is the true test of chess understanding.

Obviously, the initial routines are difficult and test our dedication. And this is what separates the masters from the amateurs.

⇒ Keeping yourself motivated – Separating the wood from the trees!

Part 2 of this article will discuss in detail the various aspects of Positional Chess and related glossary.

The Author Kish Kumar is a coach at Golden Chess Centre and is passionate about teaching Chess to beginners, intermediate level and advanced players.



From the Chess Coach’s perspective

From the Chess Coach’s perspective

from the Chess Coach's perspective

What I have experienced as a Chess coach observing the process of ‘UNDERSTANDOING’ 

Yes you read it right. It is not a typo and it stands for doing things right by understanding them first. I would like to share my experience from the Chess Coach’s perspective in coaching juniors, who are improving rapidly. They are also getting positively addicted to the game. I have been varying my training methods to ensure that the interest levels are sustained for a long time and compared to when I started some 8 years back, made some observations and corrections vis-a-vis my coaching/training regimen.

I believe that at present I there is a good amount of involvement and drive in the children, and that is due to the different approach to remolding their thinking.

Let me hear from you if you have had any similar experience so that we may learn from it and benefit.

Here are my observations on what I think are important factors to be considered when coaching children:

Difference between children and adults:

What I have found is that there is a difference between juniors and adults in terms of interest areas.

Juniors are way too interested in competition and thrill, while adults like to arm themselves with concepts and have a learning approach to the game.

I have also found that children who do not have any thing forcibly thrust on them tend to do weaker than the children who have a fixed homework schedule.  Not only fixed but studiously followed.

Some discipline is usually expected here.

From the Chess Coach’s perspective – Learning by teaching.

The Master and the student.

The meeting point when children sit with me is also not trivial (for me), in my experience. I have achieved a fulfillment when the entire class sits and contributes, rather than just the bright kids. In order to avoid this disparity I usually break down the position to make it digestible to the weaker or younger kids after having given everyone some time to think about a tactical position.

I make it a point to get a written answer rather than a verbal one as it helps maintain track of each and every kid while keeping the answer hidden as long as possible. And in the rarest cases when everyone falters in getting the right answer I follow the pattern of mental imaging and visual guiding.

There are a few kids who I consider as the brighter ones but they too sometimes fail to get the right answers after 10 minutes or so. In such cases two things happen.

  1. I take this opportunity to pamper a weaker player to perfect his answer if he somehow intuits the correct move but fails to see the follow-up continuation properly.
  2. My analogy is to see the chessboard like an eagle flying over it and approach any middlegame position after getting a grip on what actually is the problem in that position. This helps in understanding. I will divulge more about this method later.


Some books are great a must-read and learn to improve your chess.

from the Chess Coach's perspectiveAt present I have a few good books going. To generate interest I usually start with 1000 Checkmate Combinations that brings the stronger players’ forward and also is not that difficult for the weaker players to rub shoulders. I do around 10-12 positions at most to kick-start the momentum.

Then I move into the Chess School Series by Ivaschenko that is quite a handful for the entire group.

It makes everyone sweat!

After 4-5 positions of great difficulty the weaker players get the hang of it and they start chipping in with their intuition guiding them now rather than brute force calculation.

The internal dialog starts and then understanding sinks in after the warm-up session, by solving 6-8 positions. It’s akin to the people with defective eyesight getting a sudden burst of clarity by using some corrective lenses.

My job here is to make them see the position in its entirety.

Tip for fellow chess coaches: –

Sometimes I have to get my thoughts in focus and need some warm-up myself to answer or refute the wrong variations. It is fun to see children catching my ruse; the stronger ones need to have  proper visualization skills to see my ruse while the weaker ones don’t see it coming for a long time till they play it out manually!

Mistakes by stronger students:

I usually frown upon the ‘silly’ mistakes made by stronger players as it shows their weakest link in the chain. This area is where they will falter while in a tournament. In this regard girls are better than boys as they have a better discipline and understand the importance of good thinking habits. The books may vary – the orientation may vary but the mental self- discipline is something that I stress all students right from day one.

Then comes the playing part:

I make them play blitz and if the class strength is good they play a mini tourney. That way the session is lively and interesting. While they play I also remind them of the the “viewing from a higher vantage point” to separate the woods from the trees (‘see the chessboard like an eagle’ and ‘approach any middlegame position as a human’). That way they have a sense of satisfaction when they implement the tactics they have just recently learnt and it brings a big smile on my face.

My question to you is –

Should I allow take-backs and not enforce touch-piece rules while they are training? Also should there be a difference in this according to the strength of students?

Your comments are always welcome…

Oh BTW – Empire Chess is offering a huge discount on digital and hard copies! Make sure you get the deals while they last.

Meet Carissa Yip – the Youngest Female Chess Master

Meet Carissa Yip – the Youngest Female Chess Master

Meet Carissa Yip – the Youngest Female Chess Master!

Youngest Female Chess Master Carissa Yip

Carissa Yip, 11, of Andover, Massachusetts beat a master chess player last month and earned her title while also creating an all time record as the youngest female chess master. In 2013, she became youngest American to reach expert level! Carissa began playing chess at age six and is now ranked 50th best female chess player in the country by United States Chess Federation.

She became the youngest to ever to defeat a grandmaster, Alexander Ivanov, during the New England Open in 2014!

Carissa said she loves chess because it is a challenging game, according to the Boston Globe.

‘I prefer to play with someone who’s actually good,’ she said. But sometimes her opponents do not always take the loss in stride. Carissa said during one of her first tournaments, she beat a competitor when she was just seven years old and that opponent just showed his displeasure and said that he did not like playing against kids.

That shows how deep it can hurt people to be humiliated by children like Carissa who are barely out of their milk teeth! Thank goodness I did not have such a treatment meted out by anyone so small… Atleast not yet 🙂

The Author Kish Kumar is a coach at Golden Chess Centre and is passionate about teaching Chess to beginners, intermediate level and advanced players.

You can connect with him here.

Explaining the hiatus.

Explaining the hiatus.

Explaining the hiatus in articles and posts here –

Explaining the hiatusThis post today aims in Explaining the hiatus in my articles and thoughts here. Many of you may be wondering why the site suddenly went static and stopped moving some 6-8 months ago. The truth is that it was hacked. Not this site but another sub-domain that was parked inside the same web host account of this one and it took a lot of time to clean up and re-host that site on a dedicated web-space of its own, to prevent any similar collisions in future.

Then after that was taken care of we decided to revamp the looks of our site and this was done assuming that it would be a breeze! Nothing could have been further than the truth. It took some inordinate amount of time to configure properly and to compound our problems it we had exams to contend with.

Explaining the hiatusSometimes we felt that this was passe what with our priorities looming large and our passion getting a hit on account of being torn in the urgent-and-important-quadrant of priorities. However we sat tight and waited till everything settled down to a minimum.

Our lessons:

  • When intuition is strong, doors open automatically. Keeping a balanced mind amidst problems will sometimes just be enough. There is nothing you can do about things beyond your control. If the flame of passion is strong you will eventually find a way to do it. If it is positive it is a good thing. If not, God bless you…!
  • Always give priority to long term commitments. And do not plan anything that is long term, without a really long and hard think about it. If you are confused ask friends. Never beats getting friendly advice. Human mind is frail and weak. It will succumb easily to temptations and distractions. If that is the case I suggest not taking up anything that will demand a long dedicated effort on your part.

Anyways, the end result is that we are back, and we are good! We are rarin’ to go and to start updating you with the latest in the world of chess, as and when they happen!

The Author Kish Kumar is a coach at Golden Chess Centre and is passionate about teaching Chess to beginners, intermediate level and advanced players.

Exam fear – Beat exam stress and score

Exam fear – Beat exam stress and score

Exam fear – Beat exam stress and score (last-minute mashup?)

Exam fear - Beat exam stress and scoreIt is natural to feel stressed and nervous.
Don’t worry it will pass.
Here are my suggestions to overcome these jitters and to fulfill some study schedules.

Action plan to get the demons out of your mind:

  1. Have a simple plan of study. Keep it simple. Simply list down all major headings and sub-headings of a particular lesson on a sheet of paper. I call this the stock-taking method. You will be ticking off whatever is completed.
  2. Tick for those topics that you studied reasonably well.
  3. Circle where you also practiced and are quite confident.
  4. Underline for those where you need revision and repetition.

Rules for the day’s schedule

  1. First thing in the morning, plan targets for the day. For this planning, spend 5 minutes maximum.
  2. Take a short target for next 30 minutes, one specific ‘heading’.
  3. Don’t think beyond 30 minutes at a time.

To gain maximum out of the above 3 pointers you have to follow some recommendations.

  1. Take small break every 45 minutes. Stretch lightly during the breaks.
  2. Maintain a regular sleep pattern. Leave study at least 45 minutes before sleep. During these 45 minutes, wash your face, settle down, breathe deeply, close your eyes, relax your mind, and allow yourself to drift to sleep.
  3. Unless really necessary, avoid tea and coffee. They may lengthen your waking time. But they can also disturb your sleep, reduce grasping capacity of brain, and make you feel tired when you wake up next day. Instead of tea or coffee, have lemon water or green tea with sugar.
  4. Avoid TV, films, chatting, long phone calls, social media unless absolutely necessary. These will tire your brain. Speak less with others. Allow your brain to spend time with yourself.
  5. Play music, or sing, or dance, or simply meditate during the short study breaks.

The best advice I can give to CBSE chess students is to keep the learning schedules consistent throughout the year. Prepare well when you have time, because no one knows how tomorrow is going to be.

It is better to start sharpening the sword during peace, rather than after a battle has begun, as an old story says.

Education will not give what you want. It is what you want that will give what you want.

Exam fear – Beat exam stress and score

Exam fear is a very common phenomenon among children, and it has a avalanche effect, there is no doubt about it. But, have the powers to be, ever tried to think about how to remove the fear & make exam a fun task rather than a jittery one? How to make them capable to overcome their fear of exams and especially on weak students to make them stronger?
Share your thoughts…

The author Kish Kumar is a trainer and Coach at Golden Chess Centre. He can be contacted on his Facebook page.

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