James Yates blog      Welcome to the personal blog of ChessandPoker.com founder James Yates. In an effort to gain a wider market share for our internationally-acclaimed website, James has pledged to go above and beyond, stretching his literary prowess to the fullest extent by posting up to THREE blog entries per year, eclipsing all previous yearly totals combined and likely setting some sort of interweb record for endurance. And when he is not hard at work fulfilling this goal, you'll often find him solving the Rubik's cube in his boxers and talking about how Tetris perpetually cheats him by only giving him the piece he needs after it's already too late. He also enjoys crafting multiple run-on sentences with way too many grammatical errors and commas to be aesthetically pleasing. You're welcome.

Anatomy of a Checkmate

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Just a quick lil video from GM Alexandra Kosteniuk where she checkmates GM Wang Hao in a blitz match (much to his surprise) in super…slow…motion…complete with a satisfying grimace at the end from GM Hao when he realizes taking the pawn with his Knight has left the g2 square undefended and vulnerable to the Queen swooping in for mate.

“Wait….What?!” the voice in his head exclaimed, “No, it can’t be true.” But the board did not lie, the pungent aroma of checkmate still hanging in the air. “I must….look away,” he thought as he shielded his eyes from the reality of it.

Also, jeeeeeeez it’s been a long time in between posts. Where does the time go?! I’ve been toiling away on some new guides that WILL be released in 2013!! Be back in a bit.

Chess Videos!

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Found a new-to-me Chess video featuring Magnus Carlsen while I was researching away on the ol’ Youtube. Enjoy, I found it fascinating!

Feliks Zemdegs Sets New Rubik’s Cube World Record 5.66 sec

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Feliks Zemdegs just set a new Rubik’s Cube World Record for a single solve with an unbelievable time of 5.66 secs. If that’s not awe-inspiring, I don’t know what is. Here’s the YouTube video:

Congrats to Feliks on his amazing solve! I think I hear someone saying, “Dad he’s sub-6!” at the end, that’s awesome. But now I have to change the title of my upcoming page to Pretty-Fast Cubing tho….it doesn’t feel right calling it Speed Cubing in comparison to this madness :)

Speedcubing Guide Update…and Feliks Zemdegs

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As I approach the final stages of the long-awaited Speed Cubing Guide, I came across this video featuring one of my favorite speed cubers, Feliks Zemdegs. Hailing from Australia, Feliks has set the bar for the speed cubing world with his lightning fast solves with a current best of 6.24 seconds at press time. You read that correctly, he has fully solved a completely scrambled cube in 6.24 seconds! Wow. His dad captured a similar moment on video and has a nifty slow-motion playback showing the artistry of the speed cubing legend-in-the-making so that every one outside of a hummingbird can follow along as he solves the cube in a blindingly fast 6.65 seconds. It’s perfectly acceptable to drool imo….because it’s practically unbelievable!

So how did he get that fast? Here’s another great vid titled the road to 6.77, a well produced video from a very proud papa following the laid back wunderkind on his quest to break World Records which he finally accomplishes with a breathtaking 6.77 second solve…..only trumped by the preceding mind-numbing time above. He also holds titles in 2×2, 4×4 and 5×5 categories, just to name a few. In the time it took you to read these few paragraphs, he’s probably broken a few more:

There will be plenty more speed cubing videos to come, I just have to stop watching them (and speed solving my own cubes) long enough so that I can get my guide done! I’m now also working on a 2×2 guide since I’ve become pretty fast at it too ;) Enjoy!

Kasparov vs. Karpov Classic Chess Rivalry

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One of the greatest rivalry’s of all time, the Garry Kasparov – Anatoly Karpov matches provided some of the most engrossing moments in recent Chess history. With their vast style differences, Kasparov’s active love for the attack and Karpov’s ice-cold positional mastery, their games showcased a battle of personalities and sparked some of the greatest match play games ever. While there has certainly been much more movement and excitement in the years following their matches, their battles instantly became the stuff of Chess lore imo and provided the launch board for the Kasparov freight train that would rule Chess for many years to come.

With all of this in mind, you can imagine the excitement flowing through your humble narrators blood when discovering the following outstanding video collection that follows the 1990 Kasparov-Karpov match split between New York City and Lyons, France. The first segment had some quality issues so I’m going to post Part 2 as the starting point, but feel free to go back and catch the first part. I highly recommend working your way to part 13 at the very least, where the match is decided and it switches over to a French-speaking host that I understandably had more trouble following since French class was a long time ago :)

These are soooooooooooooo good, the commentary is amazing from both players and you can definitely get a feeling for the rivalry, and mutual respect, they shared. Just navigate through the series by clicking on the related videos at the end of each 10 minute segment. Great stuff, I’ve watched the entire series probably 3-4 times already!

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov Crushes Blitz Chess

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Yep. While I’m working on the new Speed Cubing guide (I keep getting stuck on trivial things bleh) I inevitably fire up some Chess vids to get the creative juices pumping. Here we’ll have a look at my newest subject: GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, who is an absolute BEAST in both the Blitz Chess and Classical arenas, currently perched at 6th on the FIDE rankings list with a 2761 pile of points at press time. If you get seated with this guy, the fetal position is the only viable option.

Enjoy, I have to get back to work :)

Pretty sure you shouldn’t spot this guy your Queen at the end GM Bareev, tsk tsk:

Mamedyarov seems to like crushing World Champions in his spare time. Sigh:

Another famous scalp for the mantle?

Wow, these guys go at it like crazy! Looks like their club championship since there are alot of peeps watching/yapping:

Hikaru Nakamura Blitz Chess Super Grandmaster

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I’m back already with a new collection of Blitz Chess videos, this time featuring the opponent of Magnus Carlsen in the very last video from my previous post: GM Hikaru Nakamura. The American Chess player is a two-time United States Chess Champion and one of the highest rated players in the world, currently sitting at 19th overall in the recent FIDE Top-100 list with a staggering 2729 rating. But what you might not know about this Super GM is that he is arguably the most feared Blitz Chess player to have ever walked the planet!

The following videos cover just a few of the many thousands of Blitz Chess victories Hikaru has scored, and I have to say I am simply blown away by his accuracy, speed of play and depth of understanding. What’s his secret, I’d like to find out! Be forewarned, this guy is unbelievable at Blitz Chess and has a huge fan base to show for it. Here are a few vids from an amazing player and definitely my new hero, Hikaru Nakamura:

The first video is one of my faves. AT 0:57 Nakamura’s opponent GM Varuzhan Akobian grabs his already captured Queen out of Naka’s collected pieces, which signifies that he believes he’ll soon promote his pawn. This massively optimistic outlook is quickly dismissed by a visibly annoyed Nakamura who glares at him and asks, “Are you kidding?” He then proceeds to play like a man provoked and ends up working Akobian over until the unfortunate players flag finally falls and he (thankfully) runs out of time on his clock. Instant classic!

Here are some games from the ICC (Internet Chess Club) where Naka just obliterates some top notch opposition. Amazing work here, especially considering they are actually playing Bullet Chess where each player only gets one minute to complete the game:

Another entry is a replay of Nakamura’s victory over the Rybka chess program (as Black) on the ICC, which features a humorous ending where he exploits the computers distaste for accepting the draw since it is up in material and instead makes several poor choices instead to avoid the 50-move without a capture draw rule. Hikaru then proceeds to punish the program by comically promoting his entire pawn army to Knights and then marching them towards an impressive checkmate victory:

And lastly, since I ended the Magnus post with his victory over Hikaru it’s only right that I include the flipside of their battles and Nakamura taking out his fellow wunderkind. I wish the camera angle was better but a good game nonetheless, and Nakamura went on to win the match and the Blitz Norway 2009 Championship by taking out Magnus again in game #4:

The Chess Bug Has Bitten Again!

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Hi everyone! I’m back after a predictably long absence from blogging with my usual excuse of absolutely no free time to be found. When I do find a few minutes here and there I’ve found myself being drawn back into studying Chess, which inevitably leads me into developing the long dormant Blitz Chess Strategy Guide which has been off the books now for quite some time. So take heart that I haven’t forgotten about it (completely, anyways) and one day it might actually see it’s project completion date in the distant horizon!

Here are a few videos of some top level GrandMaster (GM) Blitz Chess games I’ve found on Youtube, and check back as I’ve already selected quite a few of them for display on our humble blog. I’ve watched, and played, many games recently online and videos like these just get my blood pumping and make me want to play even more. If you’re a Chess enthusiast, please enjoy these three videos and if you aren’t, well maybe these will turn you on to the game since the action is fast and furious and at the GM level still very sharp and beautiful.

Todays selection features Magnus Carlsen, the highest rated Classical Chess player in the world at the moment and one heck of a Blitz Chess player to boot:

The first video starts off just after the opening it seems, and we get to watch two top-notch GMs battle it out with a tense, super-fast ending. Watch the time on the clocks in the background, the action is thrilling!

The second vid shows Magnus taking on former World Champion Ruslan Ponomarev in another tense battle:

And finally GM Carlsen takes on GM Hikaru Nakamura, a dominating figure in the Blitz Chess world whom many consider to be the best Blitz and Bullet player around. We’ll be seeing more of Hikaru in my upcoming Blitz Chess posts :)

From the InterWeb and Updates

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Even though I’ve been extremely busy with various life/web projects I’m glad to say I’ve got a bit accomplished and have the Speed Cubing guide about 80% finished to my liking and also am actively reviewing potential advertisers again after taking a brief hiatus from our overwhelming email load. Thanks to everyone who writes in with very kind words and know that even though I don’t have much time to respond I read every letter we get and think they’re pretty cool :)


I’ve recently been introduced to a very cool website called GraphJam.com which is basically 1000x cooler than you would think. I’ve been working through all of the pages and I literally can’t stop reading them they are so flippin’ hilarious. the level of comedy on these is certainly top-notch stuff so do yourself a favor and browse them ASAP.

In the Poker news arena, anyone who follows the game must have heard by now that Phil Ivey has made the WSOP 2009 Main Event final table, which is amazing and exciting for me personally and the sport in general. The guy is awesome and the level of excitement come November will reach a peak that hopefully will pull down huge TV rankings and revitalize interest in the game of Poker.

And since I’m being my usual random, scatter-brained self I’d also like to post this YouTube video my wife just sent me because 1) It is unquestionably f’n cool/amazing/impossible. How does he play the hardest song on the hardest difficulty level while also one-hand solving 2 rubiks cubes?? he’s using his elbow to strum 2) I think it’s cool that we will soon be able to time travel in the next few years because he’s going to work on that project once he enters High School and finally 3) I’m pre-voting for him as president 2050. enjoy.

Chess, Poker and Tetris

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I actually missed the first follow-up to my Chess and Poker Fridays idea (big surprise)  but at least I have a valid excuse: I was judging a weiner-dog race! I was pulled from the crowd after the regular judge didn’t show and let’s just say….I rocked it. But anyway, let’s get back on track with the content I have pre-promised. The WSOP has started!

phil-iveyOnly a few events have been completed as of this writing, but unquestionably the most talked about recent bracelet winner is the super-talented and hardworking Phil Ivey. Phil took down the 2-7 NL WSOP event and and more notably took home significantly more money in side bets with his fellow pros! In a recent Cardplayer Magazine article Daniel Negreanu stated that he had a standing bet with Ivey that if they both played in any WSOP event and either of them won a bracelet, the other had to cough up a little bit of side bet money ($200k). Well, the 2-7 NL event qualified, and apparently Ivey had placed quite a few other side bets as well. In the same interview Phil is quoted as saying, “I have a lot of big bets on winning a bracelet, so I really don’t have a choice. I have to play every event now….Hopefully, I can win a bracelet in the next couple of weeks, that way, I don’t have to play every event.” That dude rules, to the purported tune of $3-10 MILLION in side bets. Instead of taking it easy, though, Phil is plowing his way through more events as we type.

I also found some more Chess videos that at least kept my attention for a few minutes :)

And last but not least………Happy Birthday TETRIS! Light on graphics but heavy on enjoyment, Tetris has captured the free time of many millions by practically forcing them into turning and twisting the tetrominoes and placing them into row-clearing formations. My wife is practically a pro at this game (no joke, she’s played it since she was a kid and it shows) and while I have my moments I generally suck at it, I still like it enough to give it some much-earned props here on the World stage that is the Chess and Poker Blog. Happy 25th birthday Tetris, you bastard!