Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Meet GM Fabiano Caruana - The Best Player in the USA

If you are a serious chess player, you know who he is. If you are a casual chess player, you said....who?

Such is the life of a chess superstar who played for the World Chess Championship in 2018 and lost only in a rapid chess tie-break against the greatest player ever to have played - Magnus Carlsen of Norway.

No, his name does not roll off an American tongue like "Bobby Fischer", but Fabiano's performance against Carlsen proves that he plays better than Fischer (see the computer analysis of chess strength in the Paul Morphy post on Aug. 20, 2020). And like Fischer, Fabiano was born in the USA. Miami, Florida to be exact in 1994.

His chess rise was nothing short of meteoric! After his family moved to New York in 1996, little "Fabi" found the chess environment and training he needed.

2002 - He wins the Pan-American U/10 Championship

2004 - His family moves to Madrid, Spain and he turns professional at age 11!

2005 - Changes his chess Federation to Italy

2007 - Moves to Budapest, Hungary to train with GM Alexander Chernin. Becomes a Grandmaster at age 14

2007 - 2011 - Italian Champion

2012 - Moves back to Madrid. Wins the major chess tournaments; Reykjavik, Dortmund, and second at Wijk aan Zee and Sao Paulo/Bilbao

2013 - Wins Bucharest and the Paris Gran Prix

2014 - Wins Sinquefield Cup, Dortmund, Baku Gran Prix, and becomes the world's #2 player.

2015 - Moves to St. Louis, Missouri. Wins Dortmund, Khanty Mansiysk Gran Prix, and re-joins the United States Chess Federation!

2016 - Wins US Championship, leads the USA Team to a gold medal at the Chess Olympiad in Baku. Second at Wijk ann Zee and Moscow

2017 - Wins the London Classic

2018 - Wins the Berlin Candidates Tournament to challenge Magnus Carlsen for the World Championship. Won the Grenke Championship and Norway Championship, Sinquefield Cup, 2nd in the US Championship behind Sam Shankland. Then lost the World Championship match 12 - 12 regular games but lost 3 - 0 in rapid speed chess in a tie-break format.

2019 - Competed in Gran Prix events finishing 7th.

2020 - Won the Tata Steel Masters Championship. Qualified for the Candidates Tournament again.

The USA has one of the strongest chess teams in the world and very few in the country are aware of it.

Fabiano Caruana is the 1st board!

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Chess Decisions - The Logical Way


LCCC is still active on line. Please check the status on the right side of the blog. Hope to see you on both on line sites - Chess dot com and Lichess!

Chess axioms are helpful, but never 100% correct. But remember-able expressions like "a knight on the rim is grim" and "passed pawns must be pushed" do lend us some true helpful hints generally.

Well, here are some more:

  • Same colored bishops for both sides: Only the bishops should focus on their colored squares. All other pieces should play opposite colors. For example; if both sides have dark colored bishops, we should put all the other pieces on white squares.
  • Two bishops versus bishop and knight: The side with the two bishops should play on the colors where the opponent does not have a bishop. The side with the bishop and knight should play on the color of the bishop.
  • Opposite colored bishops: Both sides should play on the colors of their bishops.
  • One bishop versus one knight: The side with the knight should play on the opposite color of the opponent's bishop. The side with the bishop should utilize his other pieces on the opposite color of the bishop.
  • Both sides have both bishops: When the central pawns are fixed on a particular color, we should play on the opposite color of our opponent's centralized pawns, and try to exchange the opponent's bishop of that same color. For example; if the opponent's center pawns were fixed on the light squares, then we should exchange the dark colored bishops and fight for the dark colors with other pieces.
I hope this helps!

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Some Facts About Paul Morphy - Maybe the Best USA Player of All Time

Paul Morphy was born June 22, 1837 and died July 10, 1884 at the age of 47. Here are some facts.

  • Paul became the best player in the world at the age of 21, when the current world champion Howard Staunton, avoided playing a match with Paul at all costs.
  • Paul learned to play chess simply by watching games between his father and uncle. He never had a lesson from any person to anyone's knowledge. At at nine, he was already considered New Orleans best player.
  • At age 12, Paul played a match against visiting Hungarian GM Johann Lowenthal and won 3 games and drawing one.
  • Paul relied on his remarkable memory and natural intuition to play chess. He never studied, practiced or trained for chess.
  • Began playing chess competitively only because he was too young to start his law practice after graduating from law school at the age of 19.
  • Gave a blindfold chess against 8 master players in an 1858 exhibition in Paris that rocked the chess world by winning every game.
  • Paul's chess career in total lasted only 18 months. Lack of the ability to get a championship match soured Paul's desire to continue playing. 
  • Paul never truly got his law business going. He was nicknamed "The pride and sorrow of chess" because even though he may have been the greatest natural chess player ever born, he left chess without being champion and struggled to be a lawyer as mental illness crept in.
  • An interviewer asked Bobby Fischer who was the 2nd best US player of all time. Even Bobby said, he didn't really think he was the best. Bobby credited Paul Morphy as being possibly greater than him, since there were no chess books, teachers, clubs or tournaments to play in during Paul's lifetime. Bobby said, "I played over all of Paul's games and he may have been the most accurate player that ever lived."
Here is the chess engine's analysis of the best players. Paul finished 16th - without ever studying, getting a lesson or reading a chess book. Amazing!


Sunday, August 9, 2020

LCCC is Still Going Strong On-line at Chess.com and Lichess! Also a Queen Sac!

 

Photo of GM Nikolai Krogius

The instructions on how to join us on line are on the right side of the blog. We welcome a new member - Jakob or on Chess.com - Fiskoal. Glad to have you as a member.

Now for a little chess entertainment. 

Grandmasters of course are special people with a special talent. Their ability to see things on a chessboard and calculate combinations and sequences of moves astounds us mere mortals. Here is a game where the Grandmaster sees the real 'best move, but I will let GM Nikolai Krogius tell the story:

"White has a big advantage here. 14. Kh1 followed by 15. f5 leads to a won game for White. White's attention had been constantly aimed at the d4 square (Ed. Note: Did you take notice of what the GM mind focuses on? Square control. That is a lesson in itself.). 

But who can resist a queen sacrifice? Even though the vanilla 14. Kh1 is the shortest win, (Ed. Note: Igor3000 says White's advantage is +3.1 pawns after that move) the aesthetic factors won the day. (Ed. Note: GM's are also very mean people on a chessboard!) 

My heart stopped beating when I played ....."

GM Krogius - GM Kuznetsov

14.   Qxd4!          Nxd4        (Ed. Note: White's text move is only worth +2.8 pawns)

15.   Nd6+           Kf8

16.   Nxb7            Qa4

17.    b3               Nxb3

18.    axb3            Qxa1

19.    Be3             Qb2

20.    Bxc5+         d6

21.    Bxd6+         Kg8

22.    Ne7+           Kf8

23.    Re1             .........

First of all, who in the world but Grandmasters could calculate a queen sac 10 moves out? Well, Krogius even admitted "I did not understand the win at the time I made the sacrifice, but I sensed it would be correct."  

This is why chess fascinates us! 

23.   ......               h5

24.   Ng6+            Kg8

25.   Re8+             Kh7

26.   Nxh8             Qd4+

27.   Kf1                a6??

The final mistake, not that it matters at this point. Correct was 27. .......Nc6. (White up only +1.6 pawns instead of a mate in nine moves.

28.   Nxf7              axb5

29.    Ng5+            Kg6

30.    Bf7+             Kf5

31.    Re5+             Kxf4

32.    g3+                Black Resigns

GM's can not only see winning positions, they can sense them as well. Your author can't do either one, but that does not stop me from enjoying the best game in the world.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Akiba Rubinstein - Final Installment - LCCC Live Closed - On Line Open!

Hello there LCCC'ers. Take a look at the instructions on the right hand side of the blot to learn how to play in and join our club on line. Our live chess site remains closed for now. 
Please join us on line! 
 LCCC is using 2 of the best on line chess services available and offering two different forms of chess. Live tournament play on Monday Night on Lichess.
And on-line "postal" style chess on Chess.com. 
 Not to mention that both chess sites offer their own lists of games, time limits, tournaments and chess variations - 24 hours a day! Come join us! 

Akiba Rubinstein

 Now back to our story of Akiba Rubinstein: 

 When looking at the games of Akiba Rubinstein, his approach was one of smooth transision from the opening, to the middlegame and the endgame. In pure harmony, every move seemed perfectly necessary. No extra or wasted moves were tolerated. Like the building of a house, every stone is in it's place and every stone has a role. It was the same with his chess pieces.
Rubinstein spend a great deal of time studying the general principles of the game. This led him to being the master of endgame play over his contemporaries. No one came close in that department until Capablanca came along. 
 Despite being the World's #2 player, if not #1, Akiba never got to play in a championship match. There were several reasons for this. One being the financial conditions set forth by the current champion Emanuel Lasker. Another was the arrival of another chess great - Jose Capablanca. And of course the start of World War I (WW1). 
 But there were other issues as psychological problems began to plague him and lead to his eventual retirement from the chess scene. WWI destroyed many lives and fortunes and Akiba was no different. He invested heavily in German war bonds. 
 After WWI Rubinstein played in more tournaments, but never revisited his past highs. The exception was the super-tournament in Vienna in 1922, where Rubinstein won over Alexander Alekine and Richard Reti. 
 But soon after this win, he visited a psychiatrist complaining of a fly that he imagined always settled on his forehead, breaking his concentration. The doctor sent him ot a leading psyco-neurologist in Munich. The doctor said, "My friend, you are quite mad! But what does that matter? You are a brilliant chess master." 
 It seemed to have mattered plenty. Rubinstien never wrote books to cash in on his legendary chess accomplishments. He was very conscious of his lack of a complete education. And his mental health issues kept him from being able to complete projects. 
Akiba Rubinstein spent the last 30 years of his life in a sanitorium and died in 1961. A sad end to one of the most brilliant chess minds that ever lived.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Akiba Rubinstein - 2nd Installment - LCCC Still Closed for Live Play

We hope to open soon, but since we are located at a Senior Center......who knows?

But now the next installment of the Akiba Rubinstein story.

In 1905, a 5th place finish at a Kiev tournament gave Rubinstein his first Grandmaster title  and that cemented his decision to become a chess professional. That was a benefit to the entire chess world!

Between 1906 and 1911, Akiba played in 17 international tournaments and placed first in 11 of them!
In 1912, he shocked the world by winning 5 straight international tournaments!

Now to present Rubinstein's "Immortal Game".
White: Georg Rotlevi
Black: Akiba Rubinstein

1. d4               d5
2. Nf3             e6
3. e3               c5
4. c4               Nc6
5. Nc3            Nf6
6. dxc5           Bxc5
7. a3               a6
8. b4               Bd6
9. Bb2            O-O
10. Qd2          Qe7
11. Bd3           dxc4
12. Bxc4         b5
13. Bd3           Rd8
14. Qe2           Bb7
15. O-O          Ne5
16. Nxe5         Bxe5
17. f4 ?           .........
Position after White's 17th move - f4?

What is there to do for White! This move doubles White's disadvantage to a small (-.6), Igor3000 suggests 17. Rfd1, but White would still be slightly behind.

17. ......            Bc7
18. e4 ?!          Rac8
19. e5 ?            ......
White exposes his King and Akiba jumps on that chance (-3.6). 19. Kh1 was needed here first.

19. ......             Bb6+
20. Kh1            Ng4 !
21. Be4             ......
This allows a beautiful finish but 21. Qxg4, Rxe3 is just as bad for White.

21. ......             Qh4
Well, 21. ......Nxh2 was better but a different sacrifice looms!

22. g3 ?            Rxc3 !!
23. gxh4           Rd2  !
24. Qxd2          Bxe4+
25. Qg2            Rh3 !
White resigns in the face of mates in 3! An incredible game!

We will wrap up the Akiba Rubinstein story next time.
         

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Still Dark - But You Can Join Us on Chess.com

We are on Chess dot Com, having matches with other clubs!
We are on Lichess.org, having fun tournaments among ourselves. Come join the action there until our location re-opens!

Now for Part 1 of an article on a famous chess player!


Akiba Kivelovic Rubinstein was born December 12, 1882 in the Polish border town of Stawiski. It was then part of the Russian Empire. He was the youngest of twelve children. His family expected him to become a rabbi, but when he was 16, he discovered some chess books written Hebrew and the rest we say is history!

Akiba took to studying chess 6 to 8 hours a day for 300 days a year, for 5 straight years. Results came fast due to his enormous God given talent and tenacious work ethic.

In 1901, he won this beautiful game against a strong Polish master:

      1.     e4             e5

      2.     Nf3           Nc6 

      3.     Bc4           Nf6

      4.     d4             exd4

      5.     O-O          Bc5

      6.     e5             d5

      7.     exf6          dxc4

      8.     Re1+!       Kf8

      9.     Bg5?         ……..

This is a very dubious move. Much better is 9. fxg7, Kxg7  10. Ne5 with some compensation.


 9………..            gxf6

10.  Bh6+            Kg8
 11.  Nxd4!

This was the point of White’s combination.


  11………..          Bxd4

  12. c3                  Bf5?

Position after Black's move 12. …...Bf5?


Missing 12. ….Be5! 13. Qxd8, Nxd8  14. f4,  Nc6  15. Fxe5, fxe5 – leaving Black with a winning position.


       13. cxd4           Nxd4

       14. Nc3             Bg6?


This is a terrible blunder. Black has to give the knight on d4 more protection with 14. ……. C5

        15. Re8+!           Qxe8

        16. Qxd4            Qe5

        17. Nd5!             Resigns

               
Mate is soon to follow.

More on Akiba Rubinstein next article.