Lichess4545 Ledger 005

Lichess4545 Ledger

Issue #005 - October 24, 2016

State of the League

Round 4 was an action packed week with several games to follow over the weekend. There's also a ton of excitment in the league occuring off the chessboard.

A group of lichess4545 community members have plans to do live broadcasts of 45+45 games on twitch. Spearheaded by @doberm4n, a few tests were conducted this past week. Here's a few early attempts: This video is a stream of the board 1 match @s2004k1993 vs @badplayer_CM with the following commentators: @toperoco, @FelixNL, and @mewantcookie. Here's another attempt of @TonyRo vs @FelixNL with @mekhami and @linail commentating. It is worth watching these videos to see what they hope to achieve and build on, but be warned that these are preliminary tests with streaming. @dcwoods (who can be found @thechessroom) has his own stream reboot starting soon and is collaborating to build up ChessLeagueTV. In the future @doberm4n hopes to have stronger players who can participate in the analysis on stream. Please check out ChessLeagueTV on twitch!

@Atrophied has posted another YouTube video recording his live thoughts during his round 4 game vs @sigrud.

A *reminder* Please join our 15+15 tournament (6 hours long) at 16:00 UTC Saturday 29th October on lichess celebrating 1+ year and 4+ seasons of lichess4545!!

Later this week at 00:01 UTC Thursday 27th October (which is Wednesday night Oct. 26 for USA folks) @mekhami will present a lecture titled Reaching the Winning Lucena Positions Which You Totally Know How To Win No Problem, Right? @mekhami will post a link to the google hangouts in #general at the time of the lecture to allow you to tune in and participate.

In other league news, shaming by @prune2000 returns to the league wih 6 players not scheduled by Friday. This is still much better than last season overall. Keep up the good work with scheduling your games! Unfortunately, we need to be better about no shows. 5 no shows and 6 forfeits occurred during round 4.

Standings update: In the round 4 battle for first place, The Stale Maids squeaked out a victory over The Fianchetto Fellows 3.5 to 2.5 to capture the sole lead with a perfect 8 match points at the halfway point of the season. Five teams trail behind with 6 match points. Congrats to The Littlest Pawn Shop for sweeping LSB on LSD 6-0.

Did you Know? @chesster can tell you when an event occurs in the league. This is via the subscription service. To get started send a DM to @chesster with

subscription help

The subscription system supports the following commands:

tell me when <event> in <league> for <target-user-or-team>


  • <event> is one of: a-game-is-scheduleda-game-startsa-game-is-over
  • <target-user-or-team> is the target user or team that you are subscribing to.
  • <league> is one of: 45+45 or lonewolf

@chesster tells you when any one of your subscribed event occurs in the #team-scheduling, #team-gamelinks, or #team-results (for 45+45) or in #lonewolf-scheduling, #lonewolf-gamelinks, or #lonewolf-results (for lonewolf).

For example: if I send a DM to chesster with:

tell me when a-game-starts in 45+45 for The Sangfroid-Sacrifice

I will get a ping everytime one of my teammates posts their game into #team-gamelinks.


Stats from Week 4

Disclaimer: All info accurate to the best of our ability. However, since games occur up until the time the ledger is released, we may have missed something.

  • Biggest upset: 250 point difference MrTwoEyes 2220 beats darksquaregames 2470 Gamelink
  • Lowest ACPL game: TIED 4 ACPL by players in the same game!
  • Lowest combined ACPL game: 8 combined!! ACPL MoveEleven vs JPTriton Gamelink
  • Highest ACPL game: 149 ACPL Immortality in loss to fradtheimpaler Gamelink
  • Highest combined ACPL game: 185 combined ACPL fradtheimpaler vs Immortality Gamelink
  • Longest game: Reached move 74 scarff vs Prune2000 Gamelink
  • Shortest game: Ends on move 10 fradtheimpaler vs Immortality Gamelink
  • Quickest mate: Mate on move 16 wpruitt14 in win vs parkerzs Gamelink

Chess For You

An Interview with TonyRo

I was very much looking forward to this interview and excited to ask some questions of a popular online chess figure. As a weaker player, I admittedly admire the chess styles of my previous interviewees. Both darksquaregames and Atrophied are two very strong chess players who are admittedly bad at chess openings. Honestly, I can probably learn quite a bit from their approach to chess.

However, personally, I really like studying openings. It's fascinating and fun. Working through transpositions, the key subtleties, the evolution of an opening over time, and amazing novelties is just really cool. I spent some time asking Tony about openings and his opening book. I also did my best to scrape off some of that Italian sprezzatura which makes Tony so popular in the chess world. We dug into some of Tony's thoughts on his chess, chess book, youtube channel, correspondence chess and much more. I hope you enjoy the interview. And for the record, Tony handles the questions with sprezzatura galore. I'm still a fanboy!

Coming To and Continuing Chess

Please introduce yourself!

Tony "TonyRo" Rotella. Age 30, and engaged to a wonderful woman busy with med school. Mechanical/Thermal/Fluids engineer as a profession. Started at NASA, moved to GE Lighting, and now moved to a small fluid power company in Cleveland.

Great! How did you get started with chess?

I got started around age 15 or 16. My Earth Science teacher in high school basically didn't give me a choice in showing up to chess club, and I soon became completely obsessed with it.

Did you compete in OTB and get serious into tournament chess?

Yeah, I quickly started amassing books, a coach, etc, and he quickly got me started playing in local tournaments. I have never been super active as a tournament player, which has no doubt hurt my chess overall, but yes I did play a fair amount of OTB chess coming up the ranks. And a few years later in college at Case Western Reserve University, we had a pretty active chess team and group of 2000+ players that would travel to tournaments together.

Was chess something that's always been a big passion for you or did you have a break and recently come back to it again?

I think freshman year of college I took something of a break, and was just fairly casual, but for the most part it's been a huge part of my life since I started. I'm not even sure what I'd do with all of my time right now if I wasn't always doing something chess related!

So currently are you competing OTB much and what are your current chess ambitions?

Not a huge amount, but it's something that I want to get back to quite a bit. Certainly as far as my chess improvement and education goes, the practical aspect and building up more OTB experience is something I desperately need to do. So that will be top priority in the coming few years. As far as chess ambitions go, I think I can make National Master with some effort and games, so that's the big thing. But I also play correspondence chess pretty seriously and think I have what it takes to gain the IM title there, so that's going to take up a fair amount of my time as well.

Wow, good luck in reaching those goals. You are currently an engineer by day. Talk a bit about how you balance work and chess.

Well, I went from a job where it was easier to sneak in some chess study during lunch or downtime to a job where I don't even have access to a cell phone from around 6:30 am - 3:30 pm, so the balance has definitely shifted towards work! But I also don't take much work home with me nowadays. So usually after I get home, shower, eat, and possibly nap, my time is mostly chess related (or other hobbies) until I pass out.

Well I'm glad you found some time to join us here at Lichess4545 and the Ledger.

Me too, excited for my first season!

An Opening Chess Book and Tony's Repertoire

Hearing that you're a correspondence player further cements my perception of you as an opening guru. I'd like to ask you about chess openings and your published book.


First, tell me about the decision to write The Killer Sicilian

Hah, for as much work as it ended up being, the idea and inception of it was really spur-of-the-moment! It was around Christmas time, my girlfriend was out cold on the couch (it was maybe 1 am or so), and I was working on a set of notes on the Kalashnikov Sicilian. I sort of just all at once chuckled to myself that I had enough material to write a book (false), and so I really quickly, just for fun, shot off an e-mail to IM Richard Palliser, who I knew edited for Everyman Chess. There hadn't been a Kalashnikov book in a long time, so it felt right to me. He got back to me in a few days with some positive words, and a few e-mails and Skype calls later I was off to the races.

Ah, humble beginnings. What a book it turned out to be! What was the process of writing it like?

Ummmm, arduous, at least for me. I'm kind of OCD about analysis-related tasks, and so I collected every piece of "prior art" I could find, which was a ton of books, online articles, magazine clippings, etc. Then I decided on the shell of the repertoire. Each chapter was a lot of work in databases, with a chess set, checking analysis with friends, with an engine. Checking and re-checking. Very often I'd come up with some idea in another chapter that I thought I could use somewhere else and head back over and rewrite sections. More than once I scrapped huge sections of chapters when I found issues or a better idea. And then editing the actual text and verbal commentary - I must have rewritten each chapter 3 times.

We appreciate the hard work. Any plans for another book?

No plans at the moment. I wrestle with ideas like opening theory videos for my YouTube channel, or releasing something on Chessable. I just haven't carved out enough time or come up with anything I was super excited about yet. I also have a dream of writing a piece of software that could take a PGN or CBH file and transform it into a great looking, book-ish word document for me with a few clicks to facilitate book #2, but the actual algorithm for such a program has thus far just given me a headache!

You've got a unique opening repertoire (at least online). Correct me if I'm wrong, but you've dabbled in the Sicilian, French, Alekhine's, and Grunfeld from the Black side. From the White side you often go with 1.Nf3 and KIA type positions. Why those openings in particular? And has it changed much over time?

Yeah, at the moment that's pretty correct, though I have also recently dabbled in the Leningrad Dutch and Benko as Black. I think a lot of my early influences in chess were guys like Larsen, Nimzowitsch, Reti, Ulf Andersson, etc, and those guys all played very flankish, hypermodern openings. But I have been working a bit with German GM Georg Meier, and he's turned me onto the French Rubinstein and QGD as Black. So that's where that comes in.

One thing that's not as obvious about my choices is that I really like openings where I feel like I get to drag my opponent into less familiar positions that I feel comfortable and experienced in as soon as possible. Openings like the English/1.Nf3 as White, Alekhine's, the Dutch, the French Rubinstein as Black, all take the game into my preferred channels and dictate the structure pretty early. If you compare that to something like the Sicilian for instance, there are massive numbers of early branches in the tree where White gets to declare up front what kind of structure he'd like to play. Maybe it's just a perception thing for me and it's not true at all, but there you have it!

It has changed a lot over time as well. My first coach very much stressed the open games, and so I played 1.e4 and stuff like the Schliemann as Black. Then for many many years I exclusively played the Dragon and KID as Black and really sharp and aggressive 1.d4 openings as White. But for the last few years or so it's been as you've written it!

Correspondence Chess

Tell me more about your interest in correspondence chess.

I think coming from a science/research background, I really enjoy that I get to do a bunch of research during the game, take my time really delving into the deepest depths of the position, etc. And of course if you're an opening nerd, checking out correspondence games is probably the best way to stay ahead of the OTB guys and keep abreast of all the newest opening ideas. And for a guy that is usually not free during typical OTB times, correspondence is pretty ideal for competing.

Ok, so you compete in correspondence chess regularly? How many games do you have going at once?

Too many.

Typical tournaments are 6-10 games at once, and if you start to play more than one event, then you can see how it can spill wildly out of control. I think now I have around 15 going, which I'd prefer to cut in half.

But games can last a year or more, so if you really want to make progress on the rating charts, you kind of have to roll the dice with a larger game load.


I have some questions about YouTube as well. Why did you decide to start your channel (Tony's Channel)?

Well, I volunteered to help out with the Reddit Opening of the Week thread, and just felt like a video format would work much better and be less work than some massive write-up. So that was the genesis, but then people seemed to like the videos, and I felt like it might be a good way to force myself to be a little bit more rigorous with my time spent online and with my chess improvement in general. So I just kept going!

Your niche seems to be longer "rapid" games which in my opinion is super instructional! Can we expect more of the same?

Yes! And as far as instructional content goes, I have a huge backlog of ideas that I want to work on.

I really enjoyed your Sicilian videos (The playlist for Reddit Opening of the Week)! It's a series I find helpful to watch over and over again. Please make more of those! Also your rook endgame videos!

Yes I think both of those are my most watched vids. I think they're also the ones that took the longest. The Dragon video was 3 hours, and the analysis took me 3-4 days!

Can we expect you to review 45+45 games as well on YouTube à la @Atrophied, who has done it for the past several seasons? Either live stream or postmortem?

For sure! I haven't decided whether or not I'm going to record it live or simply review it afterwards. I think the live games might be a little much given how long a 45+45 game could go, so a post-mortem or review-style video is much more likely.

But I could be convinced otherwise if for some reason people are into super-long live commentary!

Fun Questions

Great! So, I just have some final rapid-fire type questions. 

Fire away!

Any chess heros/favorite player(s)?

Larsen! (Check out my avatar!)

Favorite game(s)?

Larsen-Geller, Nimzo Memorial comes to mind as a great one. I think 1960, but don't hold me to that. But I think that as an author of a Kalashnikov book I'm obligated to also mention the decimation of famed author John Nunn in Nunn-Nataf, French Team Championships, 1999. Also, any Kramnik game.

Hobbies/Interests other than chess?

I have too many interests. I wish I didn't have to sleep. I love to read, play bass, go to the movies by myself. For a long time I trained Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for 8-10 hours a week, but currently I'm fighting off a lower back injury. I'm also really into the PC game Overwatch right now and I really want to learn how to the play the drums, rock climb, and swing dance. Way too little time!

Are you into books/TV/movies/music/podcasts etc? Any recommendations that you must share with the world?

Lately I'm really into Daniel Silva's series featuring the character Gabriel Allon. If you're into spy/thrillers they're all worth checking out. If you like instrumental music, I am kind of obsessed with Plini lately. As far as TV goes, Psych is the best show ever, and Brooklyn Nine Nine is amazing.

Chess needs a good podcast by the way! I think there are enough topics you can simply talk about without a board that someone could really make something great!

Love it! Favorite dish and favorite drink?

Favorite dish is tough - probably spaghetti al nero di seppia, or some kind of Sicilian fish stew. Favorite drink - usually just a nice whisky or scotch neat, but I also love a lot of the beers brewed by Southern Tier.

You'll definitely have lichess folks looking that up.

Everyone should!

I find it really interesting to hear who people admire. Let's say you're having a dinner party and can invite anyone, dead or alive. Give me a few names.


Larsen, Michael Crichton, Bill Burr, and my great grandfather. Hard to narrow down the list, I think there are about 30 other scientists and chess players I'd like to invite as well.

Any predictions about the upcoming world chess championship between Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin?

I think Carlsen is likely to win comfortably. Probably not a landslide, as Karjakin is also young, will be really well prepared, and is a tremendous fighter and defender, but Carlsen is simply on a totally different level.

Finally tell me a chess secret/something really important you've learned from chess.

As far as technical chess secrets go, I think most lower rated players trying to improve don't understand tension well enough. It permeates through a lot of different facets of positional play, but understanding when to release or keep the tension is just an unbelievably important concept!

As far as something that I've learned from chess that's more general: hard work is a skill, and quite possibly the most important one. Don't be lazy! If you want to improve at anything, put in the time doing dedicated and active training.

Great stuff. thanks again and thanks for your time. I appreciate it!

Thanks for your time as well, it was super fun an honor! Cheers!


I'm glad Tony was so honest and open. To the community at lichess4545 I hope this inspires you as much as it has inspired me to continue improving on our shared passion for this fascinating board game. Almost all of us are doing something else with our lives. However, we all have enough passion for chess to spend a few hours a week on it.

How well is that working for you? For many, frustrations abound as we work our way through the maze of chess improvement. In this interview, Tony shared a small sample of insights into his personal chess life. I hope these insights assuage doubts and/or invigorate a renewed interest to continue your own chess improvement. In the end, chess is not for everyone. Definitely step away from it if it's interferring with your life. However, for those who find the time and energy to devote to this cruel game, Tony's example and wisdom are something to be learned from.

Tony, best of luck in your future chess endeavors. From the insights you shared about your past/current chess projects (your published chess book, Youtube channel etc) you have done a great deal of hard work in chess already. Moreover, you've been generous enough to share your travails with the online chess community. Thanks so much.

Chess Puzzle

From a board 6 match during round 4: pawnsac101 vs lolitsreality. White just played Bh6. Black to move. How do you win material from this position as black?


For the answer see gamelink.




Creative Commons License

Lichess4545 Ledger #005 ©2016 by Thienan Nguyen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Thanks to @petruchio and @lakinwecker for their help in editing this issue.