Thursday, October 18, 2018

Monday Night is Chess Night! 101518

Of course every night should be chess night!

Another fun night of chess and game reviews. Studying your games - especially your losses - with other players really helps you improve. We do an awful lot of that at LCCC.

Here is an entertaining game played by a LCCC'er for you to follow along on:

Position after Black's 21st move   21......... cxd5

The game is even to this point. This is a complex position with strengths and weaknesses on both sides. Who's position will crack first?

22.  Qf2          Nce4!
Black sets a trap that your humble scribe probably would have fell for. For if 23. fxe4, Ng4  24. Qd2, Rxe4  25. Nb5, Nxe3 and Black is up a pawn.

23. Qc2          Nc3
24. Bf2?         ...........
White cracks first. 24. Nb5 opening some space and counter-play was the correct line. Black is up over a pawn positionally (-1.3) according to Igor3000.

24. .......          Bh6
25. g3             dxc4
26. bxc4?        .........
White missed a chance to wake his sleeping bishop with 26. Bxc4. Black's lead widens to (-1.7).

26. .....           Nd7
27. Bh3         f5
28. Nb5         Nxb5
29. axb5        Nc5
30. Rxe8       Rxe8
31. Bg2         a4
32. Rd1         a3
33. Qd2?       .........
Another mis-step in an interesting position. Both sides have doubled passed pawns. However Black's are more advanced and therefore more dangerous. White had to stop their advance with 33. Qa2 before proceeding with any offense. Black is ahead (-3.3), which is definitely a winning margin.

33. ......           b3!
Passed pawns MUST be pushed!

34. Qb4           a2
35. Bxc5         Qxc5 !
The death sentence for White! Black's lead zooms to (-4.4). Sacrificing his Queen, but will get a new one shortly.

36.  Qxc5        b2
37.  Qf2           b1 = Q
38.  Qf1           Qxd1 !!
39.  Qxd1        Ra8
40.   c5            a1 = Q
White playing 40. Qa1 fails because of 40. ..... Bg7!

41. Qxa1         Rxa1
42.  Kf2           Bxf4
   White  resigns

Monday, October 1, 2018

October Means Chess Season - and a Nice Win by an LCCC'er

As the weather takes away some outside sports, it allows time for some indoor competitions. Chess gives you all the drama and excitement that any other sport gives you - without the noise!

The Chess Club is open every Monday night from 6pm to at least 8:30pm, on every day that school is in session.

Stop by for casual play or free lessons if that is what you are looking for.

Now for a blitz game played on line by one of LCCC's best players. It is a fine attacking game and shows how being able to see small errors in positional play by your opponent sets up attacking and tactical chances.

With the help of Igor3000, your humble scribe will attempt to break it down for you (us). Our man Jason M is playing the White pieces.

1. c4           e5
2. Nc3        Nf6
3. e4           Bc5
4. Nf3        d6
5. d4          exd4
6. Nxd4      O-O
7. Be2        Nc6
Igor3000 says the game is EVEN here.

8. Be3              Bxd4
9. Bxd4            Nxd4
10. Qxd4          Be6

The villain's first little mis-step. The game is played in the center and this cramps Black in that area. Igor suggests 10. ….Re8 to build strength down the middle. (+.5).

11. O-O           Nd7
Again 11. ….Rd8 or Qe7 is called for here. Jason jumps on the opportunity to seize center control.

12. f4              Nc5?
The first real blunder for Black. Sure Black needs to give his bishop an escape square, but he also need to start challenging White's grip on the center with 12. …...f6. Black probably did not want to disrupt the pawn structure in front of his King, but the alternative plan moves his pieces away from his King. Jason notices that shortcoming nicely. (+1.8)

13. f5?!          ……
Not the best move, but remember this is a blitz game. High rated players but still a blitz game. 13. b4 advances White's queen side at Black's expense as the knight is chased. 13. ….Na6 14. f5, Nxb4 15. fxe6, fxe6 16. Rxf8+

13. ……         Bd7
14. f6             g6?!
As time dwindle in this blitz game, the errors multiply as Black tries to defend a worsening position.

15. Rad1         Kh8?
16. e5             Ne6
17. Qd2          Bc6
18. Qh6          Qe8??
19. Rd4!!       Rg8
20. Qxh7+     Resigns

A very exciting finish!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Meet the USA World Champ Contender - Fabiano Caruana

USA born Fabiano Caruana
LCCC still rolling along with great chess action and friendly banter every Monday night. We average 8 to 10 players a night, so there is always someone new to challenge.

Let's take a minute to meet the man that will play for the World Chess Championship against the current title holder - Magnus Carlsen of Norway - this November, 2018.

In November, Fabiano Caruana will be the first American to play for the Chess World Championship since the late Bobby Fischer back in 1973. And very few people know anything about him. Well, this post is here to change all that.
Part of the reason even chess players don't know him well is because as a young teen, he was an American, living in Italy and playing under the Italian flag.

But as an adult, he returned to the United States and joined the National Chess team. This team now boasts three of the top ten players in the world on it’s 4 boards! That is quite a strong starting line up, And of the 3, Fabiano is the only one actually born on US soil
Caruana was raised in the United States until the age of 10 before moving to Madrid, Spain in search of chess coaches for Fabiano.

They moved from there to Budapest, Hungary, for a change of coaching

Then on to Lugano, Switzerland, and then back to Madrid – while still representing Italy in international chess during all these moves.
Now Caruana has settled in St. Louis, Missouri and represents his native country.
To further solidify his return to his homeland, Fabiano played 1st board for the United States Chess Team in the Chess Olympiad on Baku, Azerbaoijan.

The USA Team was triumphant, winning the Gold Medal and Caruana won the Bronze Medal for his individual play!
On the “inside the man’ aspect, Fabiano Caruana is addicted to video games, likes rapid or speed chess, not a fan of Chess 960, loves the band Led Zepplin, and Bobby Fischer is a past player’s play he is most impressed with.

We at LCCC wish Fabiano luck against the Norwegian chess superstar in November!

Sunday, September 9, 2018

LCCC at the Michigan Open - and the Club is Still Rolling Monday Nights

Chess is great with friends! Here are two burning the midnight oil.

Forgive the lack of posting recently. Your humble scribe was preparing for the Michigan Open and also ....end of year golf outings!

With the chess season officially starting (we usually call the start of the school year as the beginning of Chess Season), we want to again invite everyone to visit the Chess Club. As the weather turns cold on the outside, the chess action will heat up on the inside of our comfortable and cozy playing area.

The Michigan Open was held in Cadillac, Michigan this year. The playing conditions were fantastic and the rounds ran on time.
LCCC had two participants in the tournament. There were 3 sections of the tournament: Open, Reserve and Booster. 

Both Sam Thompson and Mike Nikitin were in the Reserve Section. Both players won their division in the Reserve Section!

Sam won the Under 1200 section, with a 3-1-3 = 4.5 points out of 7, boosting his rating over 200 points! He also scored a draw against the winner of the Reserve Section for the only non-win for the winner. This will move his rating high into the next section.

Sam also won the Under 1200 Speed Chess section - which is a separate tournament! Great job Sam!

Mike won the under 1600 section with a 4-1-2 = 5 points, and also finishing in a 3 - way tie for second in the Reserve Section overall. This was his 3rd title in this division.

 The message here is clear; practice, learn and play at LCCC and you will win some tournament titles too! Plus have a whole lot of fun doing it.
Now for an look at an interesting endgame. This was an online Chess 960 game played by Mike Nikitin We will pick up the action on move 38, where Black has just offered his opponent a draw.

Black just offered White a draw after his 33rd move, Ra8.

White has a decision to make. We humans try to decide if taking a draw offer means our opponent is:
A) thinks the game is actually even and is afraid pushing his luck would lead to a loss.
B) thinks he is winning slightly but doesn't think there is enough of an edge to continue 'grinding' it out 
C) OR sees a loss on the horizon and is hoping his opponent doesn't see it and will accept the offer.

Black actually was thinking B when he offered the draw.

Igor3000, calculating at 2 million moves a minute and having worked for 5 minutes, declared the game virtually EVEN.

White clearly thinks C, as he now will blunder trying to push a win here. Sometimes intangibles outside the board decide the outcome. Black, quite by accident, asked for the draw at exactly the correct instance. White, by turning down the draw offer, now will feel the subconscious pressure to actually show that win he thinks he has. That sometimes causes blunders.

White thinks he c-pawn is going to queen after the future move of cxd, with all his pieced already close by to support him home. But he first needs to A) save his queen, B) protect his unprotected rook at C1 and pawn at A2 and C) get his king closer to his f,g and h pawns and centralized in the center of the board with Ke2.

34. Qb3               Bf5+
35. Kf1               .........

Already starting to push too much. 35. Kg2 was better as White is underestimating the power of Black's center pawns. Black is now up a third of a pawn (-.3).

35. ........              Be3
A powerful post that White may have overlooked as being possible to place so quickly.

36. Rc2                d4
37. Ke2?              e4
38. fxe4??           Qxe4!
White accomplished all his objectives to prepare for cxd, but he is completely lost now. 

39. Rd1               Qg2+
40. Kd3               Qxh3
41. c5+                Kf8
42. Nc7               Qxg4
43. Rb1               Qxf5+
44. Kc4               Qf7+
45. Kb5               Qxc7
46. c6                  Ra5+
47. Kb4               Qd6+
48. Kc4               Rc5+
49. Kd3               Qg6+
50. Ke2               Rxc2+

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Kids Night 081318 Had Six Attendees

Ladies can play chess very well also.
A very nice evening of chess, even though attendance was down. But with a beautiful summer night outside, it is to be expected sometimes. But the air conditioned LCCC chess hall was comfortable also.

Here is a game played by Don M with Black and on line. Don has a conservative style that lulls his opponent into a false sense that there is no danger in the position. Then....the trap springs with one misstep.

1. d4              d5
2. c4              e6
3. Nc3           Nf6
4. Bg5           Be7
5. Nf3            O-O
6. e3              Nbd7
7. Bd3           dxc4
8. Bxc4          c5
9. O-O           a6
The last opening book move. White has a half pawn advantage says Igor3000. It looks even to us mere mortals.

10. Rc1           b5
11. Bb3           Bb7
Don just continues normal development. White is up (.4).

12. dxc5          Nxc5
13. Bc2           Qxd1
14. Rfxd1        Rfd8
15. Nd4           h6
16. Bh4           Rd7
17. Rd2?         ........
It was time for White to do something with this sleepy bishop. Trading it off was the best option. Re-routing would be too slow, so 17. Bxf6 was the play. Black now has a slight advantage (-.3).

17. ......            Rad8?
18. Rcd1?        .........
Igor3000 sees the error of their ways. White could have equalized with 18. Rdd1, g5 19. Bg3, Nd5 20. Nxd5, Bxd5 for an even game.

18. ........          g5
19. Bg3           b4

 Don threatens to win material here, as you will soon see (if you don't already). White apparently just accepted to lose an exchange and didn't work to find the saving reply:
20. Na4, Nce4 21. Nb6, Nxd2
22. Nxd7, Rxd7 23. Rxd2 and White is only down a half pawn (-.5). Instead,

20. Nce2??        Nfe4
21. Bxe4           Nxe4
22. Rd3             Nxg3
23. Nxg3           e5
24. Ndf5?          Rxd3
White is accepting his fate. 24. Ngf5, Bf8 25. f3 and White is down (-3) instead of (-6). Don finishes it easily.

25. Nxe7           Kf8
26. Rxd3           Rxd3
27. Nef5            Rd1+
28. Nf1              Be4
29, N5g3?         Bd3
30. f3                Rb1
31. Kf2             Rxb2
32. Ke1            Bxf1

Come on down to the Chess Club on Monday nights!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Chess Club Rolling Along and How to Analyze a Chess Position

The player on the right is working on a plan!

The Chess Club is still rolling along. Sorry for the delay in posting. 
Join us for our Kid's Night this evening!

Now for some practical advice:

The question facing us in a chess game is “what shall I do in this position”?
To answer this question, we have to first ask, “How do you evaluate a position”? There are three fundamental principles in analyzing a position; force, mobility and King safety.
Mobility is broken into two parts; pawn structure and freedom of pieces.
Add the tactical situation at any moment and we have five basic questions:
1.      Who is ahead in material?
2.      Are my pawns well placed compared to my opponent?
3.      How much freedom of action do my pieces have and is my mobility better than my opponent?
4.      Are the Kings safe or exposed to attack?
5.      What are the threats for me and my opponent?
Once these questions are answered, we can evaluate the position as superior, equal, or inferior, form plans and proceed accordingly.
Advantages are either permanent or temporary. A permanent advantage is usually in pawn structure, but they can change with incorrect play.  
A mobility advantage is usually more temporary.
A player must often decide if he wants to stay in a middle game or go into an endgame (usually by trading queens).
Who has what advantages and how strong or permanent those advantages are, will make your decision on which road to take.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Kids Night 070918 was a Fun Night - and an Expert's Game

Kid's night was a fun night of chess with 14 players in attendance on a very hot night outside. But it was cool in the LCCC chess club.

Stop by for the chess action this summer.

Here is a a tactics filled Expert level game played at a 5 minute time limit and submitted by our hero - playing White - Jason Morris.

1. e4            c5
2. Nf3          d6
3. Bb5+       Nd7
4. O-O         e6
5. d4            cxd4
6. Nxd4        a6
7. Bd3           Ngf6
8. c4             Be7
9. Nc3           Qc7
10. Qe2         O-O
11. Kh1          b6
Here is the first little mis-step by Black. 11. ...Ne5 12. f4, Nxd3 13. Qxd3, Nd7 was slightly better. Black is now a little cramped.

12. f4            Bb7
13. f5            Nc5
14. Bg5?!      .......
Not the best, but this is a speed game remember? 14. fxe6, fxe6 15. Bc2 was better as Black will now equalize.

14. .......          e5
15. Bxf6         Bxf6
The game is positionally even here at the diagram below:

16. Nc2          Bc6
17. Ne3          Qb7
18. Ncd5        Bxd5
19. Nxd5        Nxd3?
Better was 19. ....Nd7 with only a half-point disadvantage instead of the (+1.1) lead for White.

20. Qxd3        Kh8??
Black crumbles in time pressure - needing 20. Rfc8. White has a commanding (+3.4) advantage.

21. Rf3 ?        Rad8?
Again, this is a speed game. If White played 21. Nxf6 it was over. Black, given life, needed 21. ...Bg5. Still, White's advantage has shrunk to only (+1.8). But another blunder by Black ends the game quickly.

22. Rh3           Rg8??
23. Rxh7+ !!     Kxh7
24. Qh3+          Bh4
25. Qxh4 mate