Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Saavedra Position 

I love a good story with a surprise ending and the Saavedra position is exactly that.

The Saavedra position is one of the best known chess endgame studies. It is named after the Spanish priest, Rev. Saavedra (1849-1922), who, while living in Glasgow in the late 19th century, spotted a win in a position previously thought to have been a draw.

In a legendary article in the Dutch national chess magazine for November 1940, the endgame composer and writer John Selman unearthed how the famous Saavedra position came into being, in 1895, in the chess column of a Glasgow paper, the 'Weekly Citizen'.
When the well known London player Potter died in March of that year, chess editor G.E. Barbier wrote an obituary. A few weeks later, on 27 April, he published a position from one of Potter's games - remembering it wrongly, as Selman demonstrated. But precisely that was the first step to the masterpiece.


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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Learning Chess 

Recently, I have been helping a five year old learn chess. We are starting at the beginning with the board, the names of the pieces and how they move, basic checkmates, simple endings and so on. I have found several useful online resources to help.

First, there is Magic Theatre which has a great variety of instruction and movies perfect for a child first learning chess. They recommend ChessBase Light which is free and you can download it from here.

At the moment I prefer Pawn 2.86 which is also free and easy to use chess game with a child friendly interface. I can save stored positions that he can practice against on his own playing against the computer. Pawn talks and helps him see and make legal moves. We will eventually start using ChessBase Light but for now we are using Pawn.

Another resource is USA Chess which has summer chess camps in many cities including Houston, Katy and The Woodlands.

Begin Chess also looks good but is more advanced than my student at the moment.

If you have favorite web sites for chess beginners that I have not listed in the side bar please send me a note.

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