Monday, February 11, 2019

Club Packed for Kid's Night 021118 - and Advanced Concepts - Part 2

White to move!
We had a crowd of 16 players this night for our monthly Kids Night. A good time was had by all.
Stop by the club on any Monday and you will find friendly people ready to play some casual chess.

Now for Part 2 in our series - Topic - exchange sacrifices.

The computer Igor3000 says that the moves 1. g3 or 1. Ba4 or 1. Be2 are equally as good as what is stated below. But Igor is an unfeeling machine. The adrenaline rush of the attacker and the panic attack for the defender are not measured by Igor.

In the diagram the position is very good for White. He has more space, more active pieces, can work on getting his knight into the hole at e5 and has 3 backwards pawns to play for (a6, c6 and e6). Black has just played …..Rb8 hoping to trade rooks, using the chess rule that the cramped player should trade pieces to free himself.
White knows all this and plays

1. Rb6!            Nxb6
2. cxb6            ……..
White breaks another chess rule. Besides giving up material, he trades pawns AWAY from the center. But White has a good reason for this as he wants the c5 square for his knight and so his dark squared bishop can have access to the a3-f8 diagonal. You see chess is all about controlling squares - and almost always center squares.

2. …….           Qb7
3. Ne5+           Kg8
4. Ba4             …….
White attacks c6 by bringing all his pieces into the battle. Chess is a war and not using your entire army is a waste of resources!

4. ……..         Qe7
This is desperation as 4. …..Bd7 5. Qd6, Be8 6. Bb4 and threatening 7. Qf8+ is hopeless for Black.

5. Bb4             Qf6
6. Qc3             h6
This stops the back rank mate threats but Black's queenside is under-defended.

7. Bd6
This simple bishop attack forces the win of a rook, so Black resigned.

Another example next time.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Club Busy 020419 - Be There for Friendly Chess - Now Some Advanced Concepts - Part I

LCCC's Nathan Holland in Michigan Open action
We had 12 players this nice. A nice crowd of friendly people. Come in and play some chess! You won't regret it.

Don't think your wood pushing scribe will be leading these lessons. Chess teacher IM Jeremy Silman will be your guide. I just type and push wood.

JS: When we learn to play chess we are told that the Pawns are worth 1 point, the knights and bishops worth 3 points, the rook 5 points, the queen 9 points and the King is priceless because if you lose him the game is over.

These values are fairly accurate, but they color our vision when it comes down to what pieces may really be worth in a given position.

Grandmasters seem to donate rooks (5) for a knight or bishop (3) all the time while us mere mortals would get cold feet and never consider such a move.

If we are going to ignore the dictates of point count then what should we be looking for?

This diagram shows a very common exchange sacrifice.
A Grandmaster playing Black would play  1. .....Rxc3

 without hesitation. No calculation needed because

2. bxc3        Nxe4

gives Black a knight, a center pawn and a clear structural advantage due to White's doubled pawns. Sure Black is down 5 to 4 in the point count, but he has plenty of compensation in superior play, initiative, space and a better pawn structure.
In addition, Black's extra knight can be a factor in the game before White's extra rook.

By the way, Igor3000 chimed in with his bit-coin two cents. He says yes -

1. ......         Rxc3
2. bxc3       Nxe4 is best at an advantage for Black of almost a half-pawn (-.49), its not the only move that is suitable.

Don't you love chess? This is exactly why. Sometimes there are only fractions of differences between moves. And your scribe as seen Igor claim any of 5 moves in a position were equal before.

1. .....           Ne5
2. Qe2         Nc4  is second best as the advantage for Black 'shrinks' to (-.47). Big whoop. And

1. ......          Re8
2. Nde2       Ne5  is third best with the advantage to Black collapsing all the way to (-.41).

Not exactly the blunders of the century. But the jist of this lesson is that exchange sacrifices should be considered if you have enough compensation for the point or two lost in material.

We will look at another example next article.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Chess Club Closed Tonight Due to Weather - and a Game Review for Beginners

Here is the latest in chess clocks! Touch pads!
The Livingston County Chess Club is closed tonight due to weather concerns. Schools were closed today - which closes our location.

See you next week!

Here is a game that is instructional for beginners on the importance of developing your pieces and not getting your queen involved too early in the game:

      1.     e4               g6
      2.     d4               Bg7
      3.     Be3             c5
      4.     Nc3             Qb6

The beginning of Black’s problems. Black thinks he will win the pawn at d4.
After all he has three pieces attacking it and White only has two pieces guarding it.
But the queen is not a good piece to have out on the chessboard early because she can be hassled by the minor pieces all over the board.
Black also is always a move behind and to waste moves to keep your queen safe puts you farther and farther behind in the development of your own soldiers.

     5.     Nd5!           Qc6

Black should have played Qd8 and get his queen to safety. But no one likes to go backwards.

     6.     Bb5!!          ……..

      It looks like Black can win a piece by taking the bishop at b5. But then White plays Nc7+ and Black’s Queen is lost to a “family fork.”

 6.     ……..         Qd6

The only square for the Black Queen and now White wins a pawn and again threatens the Queen.

      7.      dxc5            Qe5
       8.     Nf3!            Qxe4

White develops his last piece. If Black takes at b2 White will play Rb1 and when the Black queen moves White will play Nc7 + and win the Black Rook. So Black takes the e-pawn hoping that White will now play Nc7+ and take the Rook. Then White can play Qb4+ and take the bishop to get some material back. 

       9.        O-O            Kd8???
      10.     Ng5!!          Qf5

Can you find the best move for White that traps the Queen and makes Black resign?

Monday, January 21, 2019

Chess Club Busy - at Home and on the Road in 2019

LCCC friend James Karakos (L) and LCCC member Don Mason in Class A action
By the way - we are open tonight for chess on MLK day.

Our Club is averaging 12 players every Monday night, so you always have a full field of willing participants for a friendly game.And of course for beginners or people looking for a lesson, someone will be glad to help you with that.

On the road, our Club members played in the 2019 Michigan Class Championships. This tournament held every year in Lansing, Michigan at the Marriott Hotel is one many players look forward to. It is well run by TD Jeff Aldrich - VP of the Michigan Chess Association.
And this tournament has the players broken into sections according to their ratings (ability). So every game is evenly matched - and therefore always tense and exciting.

The Sections are:
Master/Expert - (no one from LCCC was in this section, although there could have been)
A - Matt Trujillo 2-0-3 (tied for 2nd) and Don Mason 1-0-4
B - (no one from LCCC was in this section, although there could have been)
C - Mike Nikitin 3-0-2 (2nd) and Sam Thompson 2-2-1
D - Paul Mills 2-2-1
E - Nathan Holland 2-2-1

As you can see, LCCC held their own in this tournament as none of our players had a negative result!
Well done team - with a combined record of 12 wins, 6 losses and 12 draws. You can also see our members come in all current skill levels and working to get better!

Now for a game from two Grandmasters - GM Joel Lautier vs GM Anatoly Karpov. Your scribe picked this game because it looked interesting and Mr. Karpov had annotated it heavily playing Black. So let us learn together what a World Champion chess player and a computer is data crunching at 2 million moves a second are both thinking during the game.

Opening: Open Catalan
1.  d4            Nf6
2.  c4            e6
3. g3             d5
4. Bg2          Be7
5. Nf3           O-O
6. O-O          dxc4
7. Nc3          Nc6
8. e3             Bd6
9. Nd2          e5
10. Nxc4      exd4
11. exd4       Bg4
12. Qb3        Nxd4
13. Qxb7      Bf3
14. Qa6        .........
Finally out of book. Yes, grandmasters know openings this deep and deeper. 14. Bxf3 is normal here for White and is good enough to draw or win. Lautier decides to change it up but this move is slightly worse than even at (-.2) of a pawn. Not death by any means. But Karpov notes that White should play for a draw here. Igor3000 had that very game Khusnutdinov - Akhmedeev - 2006 in his data base. Karpov knew about this game before Igor3000 was assembled and soldered.

14. ......            Bb4
15. Be3           Bxg2
16. Rfd1 !         ........

Igor ignores this move as standard, but Karpov gives this move an 'excellent' "!" designation, stating that the obvious 16. Kxg2, Bxc3 17. bxc3, Qd5+ 18. f3, Nc2 19. Rfd1, Qxc4 20. Qxc4, Nxe3+ and Black forks the entire White family.

But Igor saw that White is not entirely dead with that move as White could have played it like this; 19. Bd4, Nxa1 20. Ne3, Qd7 21. Qa3, Rab8 22. Qc1 and there is no family fork.

Igor agrees that the move played was better by a pawn and a half (-.5 versus -2).
Your writer agrees with Karpov. That move deserves an "!", as Kxg2 looks too natural to us mere mortals.

16. ......          c5
Reinforcing the centralized knight.

17. Bxd4       cxd4
If Black had played the natural looking 17. ....Bf3? 18. Bxf6! and now White is winning (.8 vs -.5).

18. Kxg2       Rc8!
This is a very important move that Igor ignores as best and what else can be played.
Karpov explains his plan as Black is lining up against the loose knights on the c-file.
Isn't peering into the mind of a grandmaster fun!

19. Kg1         Re8
The White pieces - the knights in particular - lack the coordination to form a blockade in front of the passed d-pawn. In addition, the White Queen is out of play on a6 and has trouble coming back home.

20. Rac1       Qd7
21. Nb5??     ........
Both Igor and Karpov state that 21. Ne3 was required. Black is now up (-2.7).

21. ........        d3!
22. Ne3 ??     ........
Lautier crumbles. 22. Nc3 was needed to stay in a bad game (-6.5). No hope now for White.

22. ......          Rxc1
23. Rxc1        d2
24. Rd1         Nd5!
25. Qa4          a6!
This gains a critical tempo (extra move) while the b4 bishop is still protected. Igor also says that 25. Nc2 for White is better, but not that it solves White's problems.

26. Qxa6        Nxe3
27. fxe3          Qd3!
Pinning the b5 knight and attacking the pawn on e3.

28. Qc6          Qxe3+
29. Kg2          Qe2+
30. Kh3          Qh5+
Lautier resigned here.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

LCCC's 1st Night of 2018 Has 14 Players - Kid's Night Next Week!

Chess is fun for everyone!
Another fun night of chess at the Club as we kick off our 39th year. We had fourteen players for a fun night of casual chess.

Be sure to stop by next week as Monday January 14th is our popular Kid's Night. This is the night where our younger members and guests get the full attention of the of the veteran players.

We make sure they are paired with other young players and can get lessons from our stronger players or coaches if they wish.

Be sure to stop by for this fun event.

White to move and win.
Now here is an endgame from the 1960 USSR Championship. Endgames look like the simplest part of chess since there are less pieces on the board. But in reality, they are the most tricky and complicated.
In this position, White has a commanding material advantage. But you see, the queening pawn for Black is about to even everything up.
White must find a way to stop the pawn.

1. Rc4    
This looks like the best move. If Black plays 1. ....e1=Q then White can play 2. Re4+, Qxe4 3. Bxe4 and White's problem is solved, and actually will now win the game with 3....Kd6 4. Bxb7, Kc5 5. Bd5, Kxb6 6. Kxf6 and White can queen his remaining pawn.
So what can Black do instead?

1. .....           f5
2. Bxf5        e1=Q
3. Re4+       Kd8!

Now if  4. Rxe1? , Black is stalemated with no moves and the game ends in a draw. And if White plays 4. Kf7? instead, threatening mate on d4, Black plays 4. ....Qe3! 5. Re6, Qe5! and White can still only stalemate with 6. Rce5
Very tricky stuff. So now it is White's turn to be tricky.

4. Kf8!        Qe3
Now if 5. Re6? then 5. ....Wc5+ 6. Kg7, Qxf5 and Black wins!

5. Kf7!         Wxb6
6. Rc4!         .........
White has another mate threat, this time on c8, which Blacks meets with a pin.

6. .......          Qb3
7. Be6           Resigns
White breaks the pin, reimposing the mate threat that Black can only stop by giving up his Queen, so White wins!

Endgames can be tricky and complicated and not for the faint of heart. Also remember that in tournament play, the clocks for both sides usually don't have much time left. Coolness under pressure is required to find the best moves.
The best way to get that 'coolness' is to study and practice endgames.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Chess Club Still Busy 121718 - Timing is Everything!

Former World Champion - Gary Kasparov

The Club has been a busy place the last few weeks and we thank everyone for their attendance. We had 18 players – two weeks in a row
We will try to run a Speed tournament on January 7 or 21st – or both days! Hope to see you there. As always, it’s a fun event and prizes for the young players.
Now for a little chess coaching advice:
I teach and coach chess to children – usually from ages 5 to 12 years old. Sometimes I get early teens that I coach. 
One of my older students asked a very good question – “When does a good chess player stop thinking of making just general good moves and start thinking of calculating an attack?”
My first knee-jerk reaction was to answer with, “Well, we have to go find a good chess player and ask him or her.” But since that would tarnish my coaching status, I had to have a better answer.
 The answer is, “When you can predict and limit your opponent’s responses to your forcing moves and you are pretty sure of the best time to start the attack. And the timing of the start of the attack is the most important part of the calculation!”
The more powerful a move is, the more important it is to time it correctly. Don’t make it too soon and don’t make it too late.
Let’s consider other situations. A poker player wants his “Ace” in the hole and not on the table. That way, he can “raise” at the correct time to trap his opponent. Raise too early and you lose profit. Raise too late and maybe you get re-raised because you gave time (cards) to your opponent that allowed him to make his hand better than yours.
A billiard player doesn’t knock in the easy balls close to the pocket first. He saves them to set up his next shot when all other shots are difficult. That way he remains in control of the table.
So the timing of your “check”, “fork”, “pin” or “sacrifice” move is usually the most important part of the move. The calculations must be done to determine how ‘forced’ your opponent’s next moves are and have you covered his limited responses correctly.
Black to move. Is it the correct time?

Let’s look at an example:
Black has a king-side attack, while White has a queen-side attack. It is the old race to see who gets there first. Black to move.
Black is considering either the attacking move of ...fxe4, a developing move …Rf7 or Rac8, or a simplification move of …a6. He throws out …a6 and Rac8 because he feel …a6 liquidates material to a bigger advantage to White and …Rac8 is too slow and leaves the a-pawn under siege without helping out in the king-side attack.
(Note: Igor liked both …a6 and …Rac8 slightly better than Rf7 [1.1 and 1.3 vs 1.4, and White with the advantage], but that is not important here).
All three of those move require little calculation as they are improvement moves that must wait for White’s response. So with …Rf7 as a fall-back plan, now Black has to calculate whether the timing of opening up of his opponent’s King-side in now.
Black calculates that;
     1.      ……..          fxe4!
     2.      fxe4             Nxh3
     3.      Bxh3           Rf3
And White’s position is in ruins. After Black played
     1.      ……..          fxe4!
White quickly realized it was his turn to calculate. He saw that 2. fxe4 was no good. It was time to get to work and try and find something else. After a half hour, White found this variation;
      2.      Qd1 ?         Nxh3
      3.      Bxh3          Rxf3
      4.      Qf1             ……..
Rather than capturing with fxe4. (Note: the ugly and hard for a human to find, 2. Kg1 was what Igor says keeps the game at only a (-.8) for Black).
But Black still had;
      5.      ………       Raf8
      6.      Qg2            Rxf7
      7.      Bxf2           Rxf2
      8.      Rxa7           Rxg2+
      9.      Kxg2           Qg5+

Friday, December 7, 2018

Chess Club Busy 120318 - and Kid's Night This Coming Monday!

Always record your games for analysis later!
The chess action is on right now each Monday night! We had 17 players this Monday - including seven of the school aged variety - and it was not even Kids Night!
But we are fixing that this coming Monday as Kid's night is this week.
Hope to see you there - even if you are an 'older' kid.

Here is a game between two GM's - Ravinsky vs Panov, Moscow 1943.
It's the old story at that level. Do you take material, and lose time and some positional strength - or do you hold steady?
Panov - with the Black pieces - goes out of his way to steal a pawn. Ravinsky with White tries to find compensation for the lost soldier with gaining time, development and starting his attack faster.
Such situations are found often in the Sicilian Defense lines. My computer Igor3000 tells me this happens to be the Scheveninggen line of the Sicilian Defense. Ok, like I care!
For you e4 players and Sicilian Defense lovers, I'll start at the beginning.

1. e4            c5
2. Nf3          e6
3. d4            cxd4
4. Nxd4       Nf6
5. Nc3         d6
6. g3            Nc6
7. Bg2         Bd7
8. O-O         a6
9. Be3         Rc8
10. Qe2       b5
11. a3          Ne5
12. Rad1     Nc4
White to make move 13

Black is now threatening to win material. But is it the correct plan? Igor says no and Black will win the pawn and actually be a pawn down due to positional issues (+1.1). Ravinsky would not have calculated to that extreme, but did sense and see that he would have counter play for his pawn he lost. Such is the nature of top level chess. Panov was thinking "I'm a pawn up! Now to first fortify my position, then grind out my win."
Who will be right?

13. Bc1         Nxa3?
Hard to find but Igor suggests 13. ....h5 to gain space and give White something to worry about on the King side. A human probably never plays this move. (+1.1)

14. e5           dxe5

15. Nc6         Qc7
16. Nxe5       Nc4
17. Nxd7       Nxd7
18. Nd5         Qa7?
Correct was 18. .....Qe5, 19. Qf3, Qb8 - staying a pawn down. Now Black is down almost two pawns positionally (+1.8) according to Igor.

19. Nf4         Nce5
20. Rxd7      Nxd7?
Black is slipping into the abyss. This happens when defending. It is hard to find the right defensive line every move. 20. .....Qxd7 21. Qxe5, Rxc2 was better. (+2.2).

21. Nxe6         fxe6
22. Qxe6+       Be7
23. Re1           Qc5
24. b4              Nf8
Black correctly stayed away from 24. ......Qxb4?? as 25. Bf4, Qxe1+ 26. Qxe1 is bad for Black.

25. Qg4           Qc3??
The final mistake in a bad position. 25. .....Qc4 was best. Now White leads (+13).

26. Rxe7!         Kxe7
27. Bg5+          Kd6
28. Qd1+          Kc7
29. Bf4+           Kb6
30. Qd6+          Ka7
31. Qe7+          Rc7
32. Bxc7          Qa1+
33. Bf1             Ng6
34. Qc5+          Kb7
35. Ba5            Rf8
36. Qb6+          Resigns