I’m addicted to chess – whether it be throwing around the pieces in heart-racing online blitz games, teaching chess engines to copy the playing styles of chess legends, or meeting with buddies to play social chess over beers in my local town.

Yet, somehow I’ve neglected this, my passion – a passion which I once hoped would grow to be the finest chess blog on the web.  

It has been over a year since my last “I’m back” post and the reader could be excused for thinking that I’d completely given up on this blog because, well, in fact I did for some time.

You see, life often gets in the way of our hobbies, and since I began this fine blog, my wife and I have had another baby, I’ve pursued new business interests and my time has been stretched more and more…to the point that my passions were forced to take a back seat.

But now they’re firmly back in the front seat.

I’ve decided to take chess goals and passions seriously again, and the dozens of emails from readers have convinved me to take chessncognac.com seriously again too.

So let’s begin by catching up.


What’s New in My Chess Life?


A New Chess Computer!

Those of us chessplayers who are also heavily into computer chess, we are fully aware of the need to have decent hardware for running our various chess applications.

Before, I’d been using a MacBook Pro with Windows installed via BootCamp, but that proved to be tedious and a waste of harddrive space.

So when that MacBook died recently, I was exctied to finally upgrade after 4 years.

What’d I get?

For around 8000 CNY (roughly 1100 USD) I picked up an Honor Magicbook Pro – the budget offering from Huawei – China’s highly successful (despite attempts at sabotage from the Western world) technology company.

This beast comes with a 16.1-inch full-screen display with 1920 x 1080 pixels screen resolution, 16:9 aspect ratio, and 90 percent screen ratio. Thanks to the left and right bezel of only 4.9mm, the laptop is claimed to be more compact than the mainstream 15.6-inch notebooks.

Under the hood, the device is powered by the 8th-generation Intel Core i7-8565U processor which is 40% faster than its predecessor. It is coupled with NVIDIA GeForce MX250 discrete graphics and comes with 16GB of RAM and 1TB of SSD storage.

This much power for a little over $1000 was too good a deal to pass up, and I can tell you that I’m very happy with this machine.

Even Fat Fritz, ChessBase’s latest software running a cutting edge neural network based chess engine runs pretty well…


What is My Chess Potential?

Another thought that has been in and out of my mind, is whether I should work on my chess and see how strong I can become before my chess starts to deteriorate….

…basically, to see how far I can go up the Elo ladder.

A good starting place would be to first get back to my previous peak chess strength and shake off the rust.

And there is a lot of rust.

My blitz chess strength on liChess.org – even without improving or gaining new knowledge of any type – could potentially be 2400+ since I have been close to that level even during my rusty period (note: the rust has really set in now with my rating dropping to 2217!)


So how do I (or you) shake off rust in my chess?

The method I’d suggest is some combination of the following:

  • Daily tactical training on chesstempo.com
  • Get my openings sorted for both colors (use Fritz 17’s openings repertoire feature)
  • Play training games at long time controls against human-like engines, and fast time controls against humans (to test my openings)

So my plan is to start following this methods, as well as a physical training and nutrition program probably similar to which I described here.

I’ll be creating videos of my tactical training, openings research and training games…and maybe even gym visits and I’ll share it all with you.

I think realistic goals would be:

  • 2500 Blitz Rating on liChess.org and/or
  • 2250 Blitz Rating on Chess Alliance (Chinese chess server with heavy rating deflation)

This is approximately FIDE Master strength.

Future posts covering this training will be something alone the lines of ” Aiming for FM: Why Does My Sicilian Suck?” or something like this. πŸ˜€


Everything Else:

In addition to my chess goals, I’ll be looking at a lot of new chess engines – both the elite ones (like Stockfish, Komodo, Lc0, Fat Fritz) and the “human-like” ones (Rodent personalities, Stockfish personalities, Toga personalities and brand new never-seen before engines designed to mimick human play!) for training games, testing and what I’m gonna call a “fantasy chess league”.


Sounds fun, right? Well stay tuned my friends…I’m really back this time!