05 July 2012


After several years away, I started playing on FICS (Free Internet Chess Server) again recently.

There are reasons to avoid FICS, as exemplified in a game played last week. In a 3 0 game, my opponent ran out of time three times. Each time, it was either due to disconnection or to severe internet lag. Each time that he or she reconnected, it seemed that my time was going down further. Waiting more that nine minutes for my opponent to move in a three minute game is unacceptable. But so it was. My opponent kept running out of time, and I kept getting further behind on the clock. I lost the sense of the rhythm of the game. Eventually, I made some bad moves. On the fourth disconnect, I adjourned the game. Yesterday, it was adjudicated as a loss for me. Never on ICC (Internet Chess Club) has anything of this sort occurred to me. On FICS, it happens every few weeks of active play.

There are also many good reasons to play on FICS. It is free. There are thousands of players at all hours of the day and night. Getting a challenging game rarely takes more than a moment.

I started playing on FICS in 2004, was most active in 2005, and continued playing well into 2008. I did not play there 2009-2011. In the past few months, and mostly in the past month, I have played over 300 games on FICS. This past week, I have played mostly 15 0. Yesterday, I gained a new peak standard rating (1861) over my previous high from 2008 (1854). Today, I have set five new peaks: 1863, 1866, 1868, 1876, 1883.

All of these standard games featured blunders. Here are five howlers.

Black to move

I played 10...Qa5?? My opponent, rated 1719, failed to find the refutation. I won by checkmate on move 38.

Black to move

My opponent, rated 1968. missed a simple win and played 46...Ng6?? Due to further errors, my queenside pawns ran over the top of the Black king. When it was mate in five, Black gave up.

Black to move

Despite a standard rating of 1938, Black played 7...Na5?? Further errors gave White an overwhelming advantage.

White to move

I set a trap with 59...Rxf7+. White, rated 1738, threw away the win with 60.Kxf7.

Black to move

I was a little worse when I made matters easy for my opponent with 69.a5?? Somehow, Black, rated 1709, lost this game.


  1. The 4th board is broken, I can't see it.

    I'm not sure the 2nd is a "simple" win - even after ... Nh3 47. Nd3 g2 48. b4 g1Q 49. Rxg1 Nxg1 50. b5 Black still has some work to do. Those queenside pawns are going to be scary and even though Black's a rook up Shredder only has this at -1.5.

    Aside: I really wish they wouldn't call 15/0 "Standard" - that's still blitz. It takes a minute or so to work out the right capturing sequence on the first one, for example - not entirely surprised that it wasn't found in a 15-minute game.

    1. When we play game 15 OTB, it's called rapid. In the USCF rating system, g/10-g/60 is rated separately from games g/61 and longer, but anything g/30 or longer affects the standard rating too. On sites like FICS g/15 is the fastest "standard" time control. That's why I play it. Sitting at a chess board with a flesh and blood opponent for three or four hours, or even longer is one thing. Staring at a computer screen for hours on end, I expect to complete more than one game.

      I don't know why board four is not visible to you. I see it when I check with different browsers on different computers. Occasional rogue diagrams that refuse to show themselves are another reason that I should put the FEN below each diagram.