Saturday, November 24, 2012

Visualization in Chess

Visualization in chess is very important.  It is excellent practice to visualize positions without the aid of a chess board.  The ability to visualize well is present in all great players.  In a game of speed chess against Puliukko of Finland, I visualized different positions to help me achieve victory.  In the game I played white.  Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 d6
3. Bc4 h6

Here black often pins the knight with Bg4.

4. h3 Qe7

I prevent a pin on my knight.  Black makes a move that hinders his development.  With the queen on e7, his king bishop has no square.

5. c3 a6
6. d4 exd4
7. 0-0 dxc

Black grabs a second pawn but at the cost of development. 

8. Nxc3 Nc6
9. Nd5 Qd7

My aim is to prevent black from castling.

10. Re1 Nge7
11. e5 dxe

With the black king in the centre, I decide to open the position.

12. Nxe5 Qd8

Black's move surprises me.  I visualize 12...Nxe5 13. Rxe5.  This pins the knight on e7 but is better than black's passive move which allows a winning combination.

13. Nxc7+ Qxc7

Black's capture is forced.  My move opens a diagonal for my bishop to mate on my next move.

14.  Bxf7#

The mate is the position I visualize when I play my thirteenth move.  Black's inability to develop his pieces and protect his king is critical.  His fourth move, Qe7, is premature because it slows his development and makes castling more difficult. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Top Ten Gold and Silver Producers

Gold and silver are precious metals which have been valued since ancient times.  In fact, with the current global economic crisis, many investors have become more interested in precious metals such as gold and silver.  Though gold is currently worth much more than silver, some people believe the value of silver may increase drastically in the future.  Here is a list of the top ten producers of gold and silver as of March 1, 2012:

Gold

1) China
2) Australia
3) USA
4) Russia
5) South Africa
6) Peru
7) Indonesia
8) Ghana
9) Canada
10) Uzbekistan

Silver

1) Peru
2) Mexico
3) China
4) Australia
5) Chile
6) Russia
7) Bolivia
8) USA
9) Poland
10) Canada

China is a large producer of gold and silver, first in gold and third in silver.  Australia is also a large producer, second in gold and fourth in silver.  The USA is third in gold and eight in silver.  Russia, with a vast area, is third in gold and sixth in silver.  Peru, a country with a much smaller area, is first in silver and sixth in gold.  Mexico is not a top ten gold producer but is second in silver.  Six countries are top ten producers of both gold and silver-  China, Australia, the USA, Russia, Peru and Canada.



Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Ten Popular Operas

It is not easy to determine the ten most popular operas.  One can look at the number of performances worldwide, conduct a survey, determine which operas are best attended, and also compare sales of opera music.  However, no one can dispute that for many Italian opera is the greatest and a list of the most popular operas always includes Italian ones.

One of the most famous opera houses, the Metropolitan Opera of New York, has eight Italian operas among the ten most performed operas.  The two exceptions are the French operas Carmen and Faust.  Here are the ten most performed operas at the Metropolitan Opera through March 14, 2009:

1) Giacomo Puccini La Boheme
2) Giuseppe Verdi Aida
3) Giuseppe Verdi La Traviata
4) Georges Bizet Carmen
5) Giacomo Puccini Tosca
6) Giacomo Puccini Madama Butterfly
7) Giuseppe Verdi Rigoletto
8) Charles Gounod Faust
9) Ruggero Leoncavallo Pagliacci
10) Pietro Mascagni Cavalleria Rusticana

From the list of the ten most performed operas at the Metropolitan Opera, it is clear that Italian opera is very popular.  Also evident is that the composers Giacomo Puccini and Giuseppe Verdi both created operas with lasting popularity.  Of the ten operas on the list, they composed more than half of them- six out of ten.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Victory in Chess

In a game of speed chess against Timmy Forsberg of Sweden, I forced resignation on his 21st move.  In this game he played black.  It was an open game with many captures.  Here are the moves along with my commentary:

1.  e4 c5
2. d4 d6

Here it is common for black to play cxd.  If black does not wish to capture, e6 is possible.  The move d6 does not effectively challenge white's control of the centre.

3. Nf3 Bg4
4. Be2 Bxf3

Black helps me to develop.

5. Bxf3 cxd
6. Qxd4 Nc6
7. Qc3 e5

I place my queen on the ideal square for my queen knight.  The move Qa4 is better.

8. 0-0 d5
9. exd Bb4
10. Qb3 Nd4

Black forks my queen and bishop.

11. Qxb4 Nxc2

Nxf3+ is a better move for black.  He forks my queen and rook but the move is a mistake.

12. Qa4+ b5
13. Qxc2 Nf6
14. Nc3 b4

Black is aggressive with the pawn but it is overextended.

15. Qa4+  Ke7
16. Qxb4+ Ke8
17. Qb5+ Qd7

Down in material, black should not offer to exchange queens.  A better move is Kf8.

18. Qxd7+ Nxd7

I am happy to exchange queens.

19. Re1 f6
20. d6 Rf8

My move takes away the e7 square for the black king and allows my bishop to threaten the rook on a8.

21. Bxa8

With his material deficit and his exposed king, black decides to resign.  Black makes a number of aggressive moves in this game such as Nxc2 on his eleventh move, but he does so at the expense of his development and the safety of his king.  My twelfth move, Qa4+, which leads to the loss of black's knight, is one of the key moves of the game.