Archive for the ‘online chess’ Category

Velocity Chess Makes it Fun to be at Odds with One Another

August 27, 2014
Velocity Chess

Velocity Chess

Velocity Chess is a revolutionary new online chess platform that is making playing chess “at odds” cool again. Want to play a game against a chess master where he/she spots you a rook or a few minutes in a blitz game? Velocity Chess is the place for you. Setting up a game at odds has never been easier and you can even wager virtual coins on the outcome. By harnessing the power of Bitcoin, Velocity Chess seems poised to become the online leader in handicapping on internet speed chess. Coupled with with the best anti-cheat technology in the industry, Velocity Chess is adding a new dynamic to online chess in much the same way that poker was transformed by Planet Poker in 1998.


Setting up "at odds" chess games on Velocity Chess is easy.

Setting up “at odds” chess games on Velocity Chess is easy.

Below is my best example of a chess game played at odds on Velocity Chess:

[Event “blitz game at rook and time odds”]
[Site “”]
[Date “2014.8.2”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Chris Torres”]
[Black “Msrmsr”]
[Result “1-0”]
[TimeControl “White 5:00, Black 10:00”]
[SetUp “1”]
[FEN “rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKBN1 w Qkq – 0 1”]

The starting position. White had 5 minutes while black has 10.

The starting position. White had 5 minutes while black has 10.

{I enjoy playing games at odds. Many of my chess heroes played in a time
that this was common. Now, it’s rare but I am keeping the torch burning both in classrooms and on Velocity Chess .}

1. a3 {I am convinced that the main reason
Anderssen’s Opening has a bad reputation is the fault of the players
playing white rather than the opening itself. It is actually a very
flexible way to start the game as white. In addition, the white player can
play his favorite black opening with the bonus of starting with the a-pawn one square forward.}

1… g6 {My opponent’s plan is to immediately make it
hard for me to play a “b4” pawn push.}

"I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence:	 Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—	 I took the one less traveled by,	 And that has made all the difference."-Robert Frost

“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”-Robert Frost


2. d4 {I grab the center while placing an obstacle on the a1-h8 diagonal.}

2… d5

3. e4 {When you are playing at rook’s odds, it is imperative to attack quickly because most early attacks are not reliant rooks and you are unlikely to win an endgame down a rook anyways.}


4. Nc3 Bf5 {My opponent makes his first strategic mistake. Generally
speaking, you do not want to bring a bishop out to the side of the board
you are preparing a fianchetto for your other bishop. Now his bishop is
limited in the direction it can retreat.}

5. f3 Bg7 {This is a seriously
interesting opening position. However, an early tactical brawl favors the
player who is a stronger tactician.}

The position after 5...Bg7.

The position after 5…Bg7.

6. fxe4 Qxd4 {I really don’t want to
trade queens as I am already down a rook. Unfortunately, my opponent definitely understands the value of trading when ahead pieces.}

7. Nb5 {Rather than trade queens, I throw more tactics into the mix.}

The position after 7. Nb5.

The position after 7. Nb5.


Qxe4+ 8. Be2 {I avoid trading queens and am hoping for a combination with Nxc7+ followed by Qd8#.}

Be5 {My opponent defends “c7” and thus stops my mating idea.}

The position after 8...Be5.

The position after 8…Be5.



9. Nf3 {I develop with a threat against the “guard.”}

h6? {Black stops my knight from jumping to “g5” but that is not what I was planning. Thus, he just
wasted time.}

10. Nxe5 Qxe5 {The queen takes the place of the bishop in
guarding “c7.”}

The position after 10... Qxe5.

The position after 10… Qxe5.


11. Be3 {I am tempting the queen to leave d5 in order to capture my bishop. Either way, the position retains just enough tactics.}

a6? {My offer confuses my opponent. Really, he should have just taken my bishop.}

12. Bd4 {Lots of tactics now.}

The position after 12. Bd4. "Lots of Tactics now!"

The position after 12. Bd4. “Lots of Tactics now!”



12… Qxh2

13. Nxc7+ {For the moment, I am threatening both of his rooks and checking his king. These are the types of positions that tend to confuse weaker players.}

13… Kf8 {And black is definitely confused. He should have simply captured the knight on “c7” with his queen.}

The position after 13... Kf8.

The position after 13… Kf8.



14. Nxa8 {Now we are even in pieces although my opponent maintains a material advantage because of his extra pawns. Still, white is catching up.}

14… Nf6

15. Bxf6 {I am attempting to expose his king further at the cost of trading pieces when I am down in material.}

15… Qh1+ {My opponent should hold off on the check until after he recaptures on f6.}

The position after 15... Qxh1+.

The position after 15… Qxh1+.


16. Kd2 Qxd1+

17. Rxd1 {He finally trades queens but it is not nearly as advantageous of a plan as it used to be.}

17… exf6

18. Bf3 Nc6 19. Nc7 {My knight exits from a dangerous corner while
threatening to win a pawn after the bishop grabs the knight on “c6.”}

The position after 19. Nc7.

The position after 19. Nc7.



19… Kg7{Black could have saved a pawn by playing “a5.”}

20. Bxc6 Rd8+ {My opponent is still trying to trade pieces even though the position no longer calls for it.}

21. Kc1 Rxd1+

22. Kxd1 bxc6

23. Nxa6 {At this point, my oppnent’s
clock reads “6:18” and my time left is just “1:36.” No worries.}

23… Be4 

24. Nc5 {Rather than save my pawn on “g2,” I elect to blockade his pawn on “c6” with my knight in order to facilitate my a-pawn queening on “a8.”}

24… Bxg2

The position after 24... Bxg2.

The position after 24… Bxg2.

25. a4 Bf1

26. a5  f5? {I am not sure why my opponent decided that the
f-pawn is more of a threat than the a-pawn because it is not.}

27. b3 {Now
my plan is to place a pawn on “c4” and then my a-pawn will be home free.}

27… f4

28. c4 f3

The position after 28... f3.

The position after 28… f3.

29. Ke1 Bg2

30. Kf2 {This move was really not necessary but I was playing purely by instinct. It certainly doesn’t hurt my cause at all.}
31… h5

31. a6 h4

32. a7 h3

The position after 32... h3.

The position after 32… h3.

33. Kg1 {This move wasn’t necessary but just
“felt correct.” Again, it doesn’t hurt my cause.}

33… Bh1

34. a8=Q  h2+

35. Kxh1 f2 {This looks like trouble but all my pieces and pawns have been perfectly placed for victory. To quote John “Hannibal” Smith, “I love it when a plan comes together.”(A-Team reference)}

The position after 35... f2. "I love it when a plan comes together."- John Hannibal Smith

The position after 35… f2. “I love it when a plan comes together.”- John “Hannibal” Smith


36. Qa1+ f6

37. Qf1 g5

38. Qxf2 Kg6

39. Kxh2 {I have just 7.4 seconds left on the clock. No worries!}

The position after 39, Kxh2. "I have just 7.4 seconds left on the clock. No worries!"

The position after 39. Kxh2. “I have just 7.4 seconds left on the clock. No worries!”



39… f5

40. Nd7 g4

41. Qd4 Kg5

42. Qf6+ Kf4

43. Kg2 g3

44. Qe5+ Kg4

45. Qxg3+ Kh5

46. Qe5 Kg4

47. Nf8 f4

48. Nh7 f3+

49. Kf2 Kh3

50. Qg3#

Victory Achieved with 2.8 seconds to spare.

Victory Achieved with 2.8 seconds to spare.


For more info on Velocity Chess, please read:

My First Impressions of Velocity Chess 


Velocity Chess

For more info on Bitcoin, I recommend reading:

Why Bitcoin Matters by Marc Andreessen 

Velocity Chess

August 9, 2014


Are you tired of the suspicious lag and disconnects on Don’t want to pay to play like on the ICC? Has FICS not been stable enough to meet your needs? There is a new contender for the title of best online chess server. Meet Velocity Chess!

On Velocity Chess you won’t have to worry about any of the problems listed above. Until recently, Velocity Chess’ only weakness was the lack of a large enough player pool to allow the die-hard chess players(like me) the ability to get a game of chess on at any hour. Apparently, the word has gotten out about the advantages of playing on VC and now it is full of players!

Velocity Chess has a state-of-the-art interface.

Velocity Chess has a state-of-the-art interface.


Velocity Chess offers several options that blow its competition out of the water. Below is a list of some of my favorite reasons for playing on Velocity Chess:


  • Free chess play for everyone who signs up
  • Being able to use Virtual Chips to wager on your games
  • The ability to cash-out Virtual Chips for cool prizes and gift cards
  • Honest game play
  • A stable platform
  • Velocity Chess is its own social network
  • Sharing games across multiple platforms is easy
  • The highest level of customer service I have ever experienced on a chess server.



No wonder so many top chess players are upgrading to Velocity Chess.


*I am not employed by or receiving any payment from Velocity Chess for this review. I simply want to share the best online chess server with my friends and fans.


April’s Chess Combination of the Month

April 18, 2014

This month’s chess combination comes from a nice win I had over “Flash,” the number two ranked player on Each Month I will select one combination that I played in a real game to examine in detail for the benefit of my students and readers.

Black to move

Black to move


When it is your turn, the first thing you should do is examine all checks, captures and threats. In this position, we have one check-capture, four checks, three captures and several more threatening moves. If you take the time to identify all these possibilities and run through any automatic or nearly automatic replies, you will automatically begin to spot brilliant tactical combinations. It’s that easy!


I chose to play Nc4+!

I chose to play Nc4+!


This is precisely the kind of move you might miss if you do not force yourself to examine all checks without regard to how silly the move may seem at first glance.


Flash plays dxc4?

Flash plays dxc4?


If this wasn’t a blitz game I am sure Flash would have played something like: Kd2-d1 Qf6xc3 Re1xe8+ Ra8xe8 Ra1-a2 Bh7xd3 c2xd3 Qc3xd3+ Ra2-d2 Qd3-b3+ Rd2-c2 Nc4xa3 Nf3-d2 Re8-d8 Bg2-e4 Qb3xh3 Kd1-e1 Na3xc2+ Qc1xc2 c7-c6 Qc2-d1 Qh3-c3 Qd1-c2 Qc3xc2 Be4xc2 a7-a5 Ke1-d1 b7-b5 Kd1-c1 a5-a4 Nd2-b1 Rd8-e8 Bc2-d3 b5-b4 Nb1-d2 Kg8-f8 Nd2-c4 a4-a3 Kc1-b1 Kf8-e7 Kb1-a2 Ke7-e6 Ka2-b3 c6-c5 Nc4-a5 f7-f6 Bd3-c4+ Ke6-d6 Na5-b7+ Kd6-c6 Nb7-a5+ Kc6-b6

But as you can see, Black is still crushing white. So, in a sense, Flash did us a little favor by simplifying the result into a nice and neat mating attack.


I played Ra-d8+. This develops the unemployed rook with a threat.

I played Ra-d8+. This develops the unemployed rook with a threat.


White's move of Nd4 is forced.

White’s move of Nd4 is forced.


Now examine all of the checks, captures and threats again.


Correct is Rxd4+!

Correct is Rxd4+!


cxd4 is a forced response.

cxd4 is a forced response.


and Qxd4 is mate.

and Qxd4 is mate.


I hope you enjoyed April’s Chess Combination of the Month. If you missed it, feel free to check out March’s Chess Combination of the Month. On a side note, I must say that is evolving into a great online chess site. You can see my original review of Velocity Chess from this link. Right now if you open an account, they will deposit 2,500 vChips in your bank– redeemable for giftcards!

Below is the entire game so that you can see the combination in context:

[Event “Blitz”]
[Site “”]
[Date “2014.04.16”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Flash”]
[Black “Chris.Torres.524596”]
[Result “0-1”]
[BlackElo “1917”]
[ECO “C40”]
[Opening “Elephant Gambit”]
[Variation “Maroczy”]
[WhiteElo “2610”]
[TimeControl “5+0”]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 d5 3. exd5 Bd6 4. Qe2 Nf6 5. Nc3 O-O 6. d3 h6 7. Be3 Bb4 8.
a3 Bxc3+ 9. bxc3 Nxd5 10. Bd2 Bg4 11. h3 Bf5 12. g3 Re8 13. g4 Nf4 14. Qd1
Bh7 15. Bxf4 exf4+ 16. Kd2 Nc6 17. Bg2 Qf6 18. Re1 Na5 19. Qc1 Nc4+ 20.
dxc4 Rad8+ 21. Nd4 Rxd4+ 22. cxd4 Qxd4# 0-1


Chris Torres is NorCal's most popular chess coach.

Chris Torres is NorCal’s most popular chess coach.

Chris Torres will be teaching with Susan Polgar and many other great instructors at the 2014 Fremont Summer Chess Camp at Mission San Jose Elementary School. Sign up today!




My First Impressions of Velocity Chess

March 22, 2014


After arriving at,  I signed up through my Facebook account and was up and running in less than a minute. Immediately, the site will take new users on a “tour” that demonstrates some of Velocity Chess’ unique offerings. Some items on the tour that I found worthwhile were:

1)      Free chess play for everyone who signs up

2)      The use of Virtual chips(more on this later)

3)      Personalized “Friends Lists”

4)      Instant Messaging

5)      Chat Lobbies

6)      The ability to use time or material handicaps to create competitive games

Velocity chess’ interface seemed very familiar from the start. Games can be sought or found using a “search graph” which is pretty much standard on all the major chess servers. Unfortunately, on March 20 at 12:30 pm Pacific Time, the only opponents available were five computer accounts. Being that there were no other humans open for challenges, I chose to play the computer account named Blazing Bishop which was supposed to be rated 1600. It is worth noting that all of the computers were only seeking unrated games so their ratings may not be accurate. I will leave it to the reader to determine what they feel the relative strength of my opponent was from the game at the bottom of the post.

One way in which Velocity Chess seems to have a potential advantage against its opponents is in the way it is attempting to socialize online chess. When it comes to being “social,” Velocity Chess seems to be positioned ahead of the ICC and at least on equal footing with However, for any social network to succeed it needs a large number of active accounts. Perhaps Velocity Chess can gain a big enough user base from the gambling aspect it also offers.

The addition of virtual chips makes it clear that Velocity Chess is intending to spice up online chess by adding a gambling aspect. Velocity Chess players have the opportunity to bet chips on their own games or on the games of other players. Virtual Chips can be redeemed for prizes in the Velocity Chess store giving them an aspect of real world value. Because there were no human players when I test drove the site, I did not have a chance to try betting virtual chips on the outcome of an online chess game. I doubt many chess parents will be rushing to sign their children up so that they can gamble on chess games. Still, I can see tremendous upside potential for adding wagering to an online chess site geared for adults and especially so if Velocity Chess used bitcoins rather than Virtual Chips.

In conclusion, my impression of velocity chess is that it seemed very professionally done but lacks the player base necessary for its success. I doubt its smooth interface and the concept of Virtual Chips will be enough to draw the crowds necessary to make this online chess venture a success. Velocity Chess has potential to become a major player in the world of chess servers but it will either have to drop the virtual chips to become more kid friendly or double down on its gambling efforts by adding bitcoin wagering.



[Event “Trying out Velocity Chess”]
[Site “Velocity Chess”]
[Date “2014.03.20”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Blazing Bishop”]
[WhiteElo “1600”]
[Black “Chris Torres”]
[BlackElo “1600”]
[Result “0-1”]

1.Nf3 d5 2.a3 Nf6 3.d3 Bg4 4.Bf4 Nbd7 5.Nc3 c6 6.d4 Qb6 7.h3 Bf5 8.Ra2 e6 9.Qc1
Ne4 10.Nxe4 dxe4 11.Ne5 Nxe5 12.Bxe5 f6 13.Bf4 Qxd4 14.Be3 Qd7 15.c4 e5 16.Ra1
Be7 17.Qc2 O-O 18.g4 Bg6 19.Bg2 f5 20.Qd2 Qxd2+ 21.Bxd2 f4 22.Bb4 Bxb4+ 23.axb4
a6 24.Ra3 Rad8 25.b5 cxb5 26.cxb5 axb5 27.Ra7 f3 28.exf3 exf3 29.Rh2 fxg2
30.Rxg2 Rf7 31.Rg3 Rfd7 32.Re3 e4 33.f4 exf3 34.Rxf3 Rd1+ 35.Ke2 R1d2+ 36.Ke3
Rxb2 37.g5 Bh5 38.Ra3 Bxf3 39.Kxf3 b4 40.Ra1 b3 41.Rg1 Rc2 42.Rb1 b2 43.Rxb2
Rxb2 44.Ke3 Rb4 45.h4 Ra8 46.Kd3 Ra3+ 47.Kd2 Rb2+ 48.Kc1 Rh2 49.Kb1 Rg3 50.h5

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