Welcome to RussianBear's 1 0 tutorial. It is written for players, whose FICS lightning rating is below 1900, but I hope that even higher-rated people can learn something from it. I will not teach you to play chess here - I will discuss the 1 0-specific strategies. If you can't see the diagrams(or parts of them), click "refresh" button in your browser.
1. TECHNICAL STUFF. -------------------
Some like Logitech mice; others (like me) found that even the cheapest mice can do the job. Wireless and optical mice are cool technologies, but they are too unreliable for 1 0, in my opinion. What I do to choose a mouse is I try to click different mice's buttons in a store. I choose the one that has buttons that click the loudest and are the hardest to press - that shows that the mouse is robust. The cheapest mice are usually the best ones for me.
The best way to pick an interface is to try them all for yourself. They all have different advantages, for example SLICS shows legal squares, CClient says "check", etc. The interface choice also depends on where you stand on premove. If you want to make it clear you are not using premove, you may want to choose CClient or earlier version of Slics or Winboard. Obviously, if you want to play 1 0, you need an interface that has timeseal.
How large should the board in your interface be? It should not be too large, because that would mean you have to move your mouse more, and that obviously is a loss of time. The board should not be too small, either, cause it would increase the chances of you moving a piece to a square other that the one you wanted. Personally, I like the board that has a side that measures about 5 inches on my monitor (see the screenshot).
You also want to turn off any move animation options that your interface has, because animation can slow things down considerably.
With most interfaces, there are two ways to check if your move if legal. You can have your interface make the check, and you can have the server do it. Since the server does it anyway, I think that having your interface do the check is a waste of time because your interface will do that for every single move you make instead of sending that move to the server right away! It is not that simple however. Lets see what happens if you make an illegal move in an interface that does not check if the move is legal. The move is sent to the server, the server itself rejects it and sends the "Illegal move" message back to you. So, the time wasted is ping*2 + the time it took the server to check if the move was legal. This waste could have been avoided by performing a check within your interface. In other words, turning legality checking off should save you some time, but only if you don't make illegal moves often.
Always have the sound on when you play. Sound is so important in 1 0 that serious players wont play unless they have sound. It is proven that even though light travels much faster than sound, humans respond to audio stimulus faster than to visual stimulus. Have autoflag and autoqueen on at all times.
2. STRATEGY. ------------
Thou shalt not resign. There is absolutely no place for resigning in 1 0. Too much can happen in a 1 0 game for you to just give up. Your opponent may forfeit on time, blunder, mouseslip, or die. And there is always a chance that he will stalemate your king. Take a look at this game:
venomous -- RussianBear
ICS Game ICS
1.d4 e6 2.c4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Bg5 c6 6.e3 Be7 7.Bd3 Bf5 8.Bxf5 Nbd7 9.Nf3 Nb6 10.Qc2 O-O 11.O-O h6 12.Bxf6 Bxf6 13.Bd3 Nc8 14.a3 Nd6 15.b3 a6 16.Rac1 b5 17.Na2 Rc8 18.Qd2 Qd7 19.Nb4 Nb7 20.Nxa6 Na5 21.Qxa5 Qa7 22.b4 Ra8 23.Rxc6 Qb7 24.Rc7 Qxa6 25.Qxa6 Rxa6 26.Ra1 Rb6 27.Kf1 Ra8 28.Ke2 Bd8 29.Rc5 Be7 30.Rxb5 Rxb5 31.Bxb5 Bxb4 32.a4 Ba5 33.Rc1 Rb8 34.Rc5 Bb4 35.Rxd5 Re8 36. Bxe8 f5 37.Bd7 f4 38.exf4 Ba5 39.Rxa5 Kh7 40.Re5 Kg6 41.a5 Kh7 42.a6 g5 43.a7 Kg6 44.a8=Q Kh5 45.Qe4
Common sense strategies.
Many things about real chess can be applied to 1 0. You still want to develop your pieces as soon as possible, you want good squares in the center of the board for your knights, you open files for your rooks and you want your rooks to end up on the 7th rank.
Become fast, think fast and play fast.
How does one become fast? Botvinnik suggested that players who tend to get themselves into time trouble play some games where they pay the most attention to the clocks and not to the board. This also applies to 1 0. If you are slower than most lightning players, follow Botvinnik's advice. Just play some games as fast as you can, without worrying about the board. Of course, if you are not used to this kind of speed, you will lose a lot in the beginning (that is why it may be a good idea to play unrated). But you will see for yourself what the pace of a 1 0 game should be. Soon you will notice that you are able to make the same moves in half a second that used to take you several seconds. Also, you want to rationalize the way you think. I will give just one example, but it will make clear what I have in mind. Lets say you are playing a 1 minute game and your opponent just checked your king with his queen. It would be a waste of time to start thinking by looking for the squares where you king may go to in order to get away from the check. If you spend half a second figuring out which escape square is best, this half second will be useless if later you realize than you can just capture his queen with your knight. So here is the way your mind should work if your king is in check: first, you make sure that the checking piece cannot be captured, then, you look for the moves with pieces that can shield your king from the check (and may be also attacking the checking (or some other) piece of your opponent), and, finally, you look at the king moves.
Win a piece in opening.
RussianBear - pdeck FICS Game 2001.05.14
1.d4 e6 2.c3 d5 3.Bf4 f5
What happened to black's queen? Why has pdeck (who is a 1900+ player) played 4. ... Nf6 instead of the obvious 4. ... Qxc7? The answer is simple- he made his move without looking at his opponent's move first. 1 0 puts one into a lot of time pressure from the very start of the game. Very often people start to move very fast right from the start in order to win some valuable seconds and thus put themselves into a situation, where they are liable to moves such as Bxc7. Here is a short list of other ways to win a piece in the opening: 1.d4 d5 2.Bg5 e6 3. Bxd8 1.d4 g6 2.Bh6 Bg7 3.Bxg7 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nc6 3.Qh5 Nf6 Qxf7# 1.e4 d6 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Be2 Bg4 4.Bxg4 1.d4 d5 2.Bf4 e6 3.e3 c6 4.Bxb8 Nf6 5. Bf4 How can one take advantage of opponents' careless play in the opening? First of all, know when to play Bc7, Bh6, Bg5, etc. You don't just go after your opponent's pieces in the opening of each game - if you do, your opponent will adjust and you will just lose material. You should pick your spots. When should you go after his pieces? After years of playing 1 0 I observed the absolute best time to win a piece in the opening. The best time for opening horseshit is in a game just after your opponent lost a very close one on time. It is a natural human reaction to play faster after a close loss on time - one tends to try to "make up" for the loss by playing very fast in the opening of the next game. He tends to say to himself, "ok, I lost, but if I play very fast from the very beginning of the next game, I sure won't lose on time again". So he starts to play very fast right from the opening moves without looking at what you do. And that is where you come in with your dirty opening trick and take his piece! This tends to be very frustrating for a lot of players. Second, the move should not disturb the flow of the game. If you play it too fast, opponent will see it and if you play it too slow, he will become suspicious and he would want to take a look at the move you've played instead of (pre)moving without looking at the board. The trick is to make him think like you are going to play your regular move while you actually will try to win his piece. So it is very important that the rhythm not be disturbed. Play it without hesitation at your normal opening speed.
How to choose a strategy against a particular opponent.
It is rare that two players just play one game. More often series of games is played. Such a series could last anywhere from 2 to hundreds of games. It is, therefore, very important to choose a right strategy against your opponent. More often than not, in a series, you will notice a pattern. For example, it may happen that you win most games that come down to a mouse race (that is, the games that are decided by a flag) and your opponent wins other games (that is, games decided by checkmate). Such a match between a chess expert and a speedster is what usually happens in a match between people whose ratings are close (i.e., within 100 points). It is important to recognize if your advantage against a particular opponent is speed or chess skills - it is usually becomes clear after several games. After you decide which of the two types you belong to, you choose your strategy accordingly. It should be obvious that a player who is faster, but who is weaker at pure chess should try to exchange pieces, especially the queens, because this greatly increases the chances that he will not be checkmated, and, therefore, it increases his chances of winning the game. In fact, he may even sack a pawn or two if that would lead to queen exchange! For the same reasons, a person who is stronger at chess, but who is slower, should avoid such exchanges, even if it means not playing what otherwise would be the "best" moves.
Just like in regular chess, lightning has a simple rule: you want to trade when you are up on material and you don't want to trade when you are down on material. If you are down on material, you should do everything you can to avoid trades. The only times you can trade is when your opponent's attack becomes too dangerous, only then it is reasonable to trade the most dangerous piece(s) of your opponent. The rationale for this rule is simple: it is a lot easier to convert a material advantage when there are only a few pieces left. This rule is very important in lightning (and in chess in general) and yet it is remarkable how many people ignore it.
Repeat the position when up on time
When you are up on time (or when clocks are about even but you know that you are a faster player than your opponent), it is to your advantage to repeat moves, because it wastes time and puts your opponent under even more time pressure. Be careful, however, not to repeat the position 3 times, as it gives your opponent an opportunity to claim the draw. 3. ENDGAME. -----------
Check often. Checks are good for 2 main reasons. Reason number one: you impose your will onto your opponent because he has to react and his reaction is more predictable than otherwise. Reason number two: it may be a checkmate.
Secure yourself a draw first.
Now is time for one of the most important rules of 1 0. Capture all of your opponents pieces before you go for checkmate. What that accomplishes is that you avoid a loss on time because, according to the server rules, the side that has only a king left can get at most a draw.
RussianBear -- ATE
ICS Game ICS
1.d4 e6 2.c3 Nf6 3.Bf4 d5 4.Bg3 Bd6 5.e3 Bxg3 6.hxg3 c5 7.Bd3 cxd4 8.exd4 Nc6 9.Nf3 Bd7 10.Nbd2 h6 11.Qc2 Qc7 12.Nb3 a6 13.Nc5 b6 14.Nb3 O-O 15.a3 e5 16. dxe5 Nxe5 17.Nxe5 Qxe5+ 18.Qe2 Qxe2+ 19.Kxe2 Rfe8+ 20.Kd2 Ne4+ 21.Bxe4 dxe4 22. Nd4 Rad8 23.Ke3 f5 24.Rh5 Kh7 25.Rah1 Rf8 26.R5h2 Bb5 27.Rd1 Bd3 28.Rd2 b5 29. Rh1 a5 30.Ne6 Rfe8 31.Nxd8 Rxd8 32.Rhd1 b4 33.axb4 axb4 34.f3 bxc3 35.bxc3 Rc8 36.fxe4 Bxe4 37.Rc1 Re8 38.Kf2 Rf8 39.c4 Rc8 40.c5 Rc6 41.Rd6 Rc8 42.c6 Rc7 43. Rd7 Rxc6 44.Rxc6 Bxc6 45.Rd6 Be4 46.Rd4 h5 47.Rd2 h4 48.Rd1 Kh6 49.gxh4 Kh5 50. g3 Kg4 51.Rd4 g5 52.Rd1 gxh4 53.gxh4 Kxh4 54.Rg1 Kh5 55.Rg8 Kh6 (D)
Go for your opponent's pieces when he is under time pressure.
You will either win those pieces and make your job easier or put your opponent under even more time pressure. Take a look at the following game:
Rovertje -- RussianBear
ICS Game ICS
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Bg5 c6 6.e3 Be7 7.Qc2 Bg4 8.Bd3 Bh5 9.Nge2 Bg6 10.O-O Nbd7 11.Rab1 O-O 12.b4 a6 13.a4 Nb6 14.b5 Nc4 15.Rb3 Na3 16.Qd1 Nc4 17.Bxg6 hxg6 18.bxc6 b6 19.Nf4 Qd6 20.Bxf6 Bxf6 21.Ncxd5 Rfc8 22. Nxb6 Nxb6 23.Rxb6 Rxc6 24.Rxc6 Qxc6 25.Qc1 Qxc1 26.Rxc1 Rb8 27.Nd5 a5 28.Nxf6+ gxf6 29.h3 Rb4 30.Rc6 Rxa4 31.Rxf6 Kg7 32.Ra6 Ra1+ 33.Kh2 a4 34.Kg3 a3 35.d5 a2 36.f3 Kf8 37.e4 Ke7 38.e5 Kd7 39.Ra7+ Ke8 40.d6 Re1 41.Rxa2 Rxe5 42.Rd2 Kd7 43. f4 Re3+ 44.Kg4 Ra3 45.Kg5 Ra8 46.Kf6 Rf8 (D)
There are two conditions for this trick to be successful:
1) You have to make sure your opponent went into premove mode. (Note that by premove I mean both actual premoves and the moves one makes without looking at opponents previous move - because the effects of both of these are the same)
2) It has to be a suprise for your opponent. Even if he went into the premove mode, he may still stop and look at your move if he feels something suspicious. That is why such manoeuvres can not be used too often in a series, because if you do use them too often, your opponent will learn to expect them and you will just lose pieces. However, if you use this trick wisely, you can achieve great results. Not only will you win your opponent's pieces in decisive situations, but the very threat of such trick (without the execution of the threat!) may slow your opponent down considerably, because he would have to see your moves (prior to his own moves) to make sure he won't lose a piece, thus abandoning premoves altogether!
Knight is better than a bishop when both sides have little time.
When both you and your opponent have little time left, side with a knight has an advantage over a side with a bishop. Everybody tends to check a lot in the final seconds and a side with a knight will just put a king on a square of the color opposite to that of the opponent's bishop and then check the other side's king to death with a knight.
Do not waste your time by offering draws in drawn position. If you are up on time, try to win the game on time. Even if you are down on time, offering a draw is not a good idea. Your opponent may not realise you are offering a draw cause he moves too fast to even notice a draw offer in time and even if he does see the offer, he probably would still want to go for a win on time. The only good time to take a draw is when you are down on time and you want to claim a draw by 3 move- or 50 move- rule. Otherwise a draw offer is just a waste of your time. The same can be said about takeback requests. To better illustrate my point, I will quote player "myhandle": while I was offering draw, you took advantage of it on time 4. PSYCHOLOGY. --------------
Do everything in your power to annoy your opponent.
Do the things he dislikes. Thank him if he doesnt like to be thanked. Trashtalk. Rub it in if you win. If you play a series of games, he might not like if you wait too long between games - if you know he hates that, then be sure to wait a few seconds before typing "rematch". If you have mate in 1 and you still have 30 seconds left on the clock, take you time and checkmate him when you only have 1 second left - he may not like that. If he is about to lose on time, sack a few piece just to make him realise that he is to slow to take advantage of those sacks.
Know your opponents.
Know their strength and weaknesses, their likes and dislikes. For example, I played a lot of games against player "theblob", and I noticed that he really hates lag. When, from time to time, my connection lagged out for 5-10 seconds, theblob resigned if he was down on material. I noticed that and later tried to use it to my advantage in one of our later games - I was up on material after opening moves, but I wasn't in the mood to grind out a win against a fast and dangerous opponent. So I just sat there and pretended that I was lagging. Surely enough, 5-7 seconds later theblob resigns.
Stay cool under time pressure.
One loses the most time off the clock when he starts to panic. Have faith in you lightning ability and let your opponent worry about the outcome. 5. HOW TO PLAY WHEN YOU ARE DOWN ON MATERIAL. --------------------------------------------- Do not resign. Do not trade pieces. Now when material is in his favor, you have to put some other kind of pressure on him - namely, time pressure. Play as fast as you can. Close the position up by blocking the pawns. Deny his pieces entry points in your camp. Fight for every square, every rank, every diagonal. Try cheap threats like attacking his queen with you minor pieces. Check his king if you can. Do some cheesy mate threats. And - I stress this point again - don't trade pieces when you are down on material unless you absolutely have to. 6. HOW TO WIN CLOSE GAMES. --------------------------
Check often, especially in the final seconds of the game. It is unbelievale how many games are decided by a check that is made when both players are very low on time. Checks are also usefull, cause a check may turn out to be a checkmate, which one could have easily missed when he/she is very low on time. Also, checks are usefull as in-between tactic - like if your opponent attempted a pawn breakthrough at the very end of the close game, you might have missed it and allowed him to promote a pawn, but if you checked him just when he was attempting to do so - you would notice this attempted breakthrough and stop it.
Sometimes, it is best not to check your opponent's king in the last seconds of the game. If your opponent expects the checks, he will move his king to safety without losing much time. If he premoves, and if the checks are predictible, then your checks will play into his hands, because premove is most effective in the situations where a premover can guess what move will be played next. In order keep your opponent guessing, you have to mix up checks with what I call near-checks. Take a look at the following example.
RussianBear -- vonson
ICS Game ICS
1.d4 f5 2.Bf4 h6 3.Bg3 g5 4.h4 f4 5.Bh2 Nf6 6.Nf3 g4 7.Ne5 d6 8.Nc4 b5 9. Nca3 e5 10.e3 d5 11.exf4 exf4 12.Bxf4 Bxa3 13.Nxa3 Qe7+ 14.Be3 O-O 15.Bxb5 c6 16.Bd3 h5 17.O-O Ne4 18.Bxe4 Qxe4 19.Qd3 Bf5 20.Qxe4 Bxe4 21.c4 Nd7 22.cxd5 cxd5 23.Nb5 a6 24.Nc7 Rac8 25.Ne6 Rf7 26.Ng5 Re7 27.Nxe4 Rxe4 28.Rac1 Rb8 29.b3 Nb6 30.Rc7 a5 31.Ra7 a4 32.bxa4 Nc4 33.Rc1 Rb2 34.a5 Rxa2 35.a6 Re6 36.Rb7 Rexa6 37.Bg5 (D)
An example will make clear what I mean.
White to move. Each side has only 1 second left on their clocks. What should white do? It is clear that black will play Rd2 next, with the idea of following it up with Rxg2 check, and, if white captures the rook by Kxg2, Nf4 check.
White doesnt have any checks of his own in sight - black's king is on a dark square, which makes him safe from checks by the light-squared bishop on a4, and the white's knight is too passive to do any damage. Yet, white is able to find a game winning trick.
innocentone -- RussianBear
The following game illustrates the techniques that I discussed above and that can help you win close games. lagster -- RussianBear
ICS Game ICS
1.e3 d5 2.f4 Bf5 3.Nf3 Bg6 4.Bd3 c6 5.Bxg6 hxg6 6.O-O e6 7.Nc3 Be7 8.d4 Nf6 9.Bd2 Nbd7 10.Qe2 Nb6 11.Ng5 Nc4 12.b3 Nxd2 13.Qxd2 Nd7 14.e4 dxe4 15.Ncxe4 Nf6 16.Rad1 Nxe4 17.Nxe4 Bf6 18.Qb4 Qe7 19.Qxb7 Qxb7 20.Nd6+ Kd7 21.Nxb7 Be7 22.Na5 Bf6 23.Nc4 Kc7 24.Ne5 Rhf8 25.g3 Rac8 26.Kg2 Kd8 27.Rde1 Ke7 28.Kf2 c5 29.dxc5 Rxc5 30.c4 Bxe5 31.Rxe5 Rc6 32.Kf3 Ra6 33.Rf2 Rh8 34.c5 Rc8 35.Rc2 Rcc6 36.Ke3 Ra5 37.Kd4 Rb5 38.Rc3 a5 39.a3 a4 40.b4 f6 41.Re2 Kf7 42.Kc4 Rb8 43.b5 Rc7 44.Rb2 Rbc8 45.c6 e5 46.fxe5 fxe5 47.Kd5 (D)
This game had everything - virtually every strategy that I mentioned could win you a close game was used. Thats why I chose this game as a summary.
Thats about it - I think I covered the major 1 0 issues. If you found this article helpful or if you have questions or comments - send me a message on FICS, I would like to hear from you.