Monday, June 18, 2018

3 Way Tie for the 2018 LCCC Club Championship – and GM Gareyev Sets World Record

Chess is always classy!

Two huge accomplishments are the content for this article. First the BIG one!

We had a three-way tie for the Club Championship!
Don Mason, Ken Tack and Vince Valente all tied for 1st place with 3 points out of 4.

In the K-12 Division, the top 3 finishers were:
1st – Justin D. (trophy)
2nd – Ethan J. (medal)
3rd – Brandon D. (medal)

Congratulations to all the winners!

The other big accomplishment is that GM Timur Gareyev, an Uzbekistan born GM, set a new chess world record by playing 48 people at the same time – Blindfolded! Timur scored an 80 percent winning percentage. The match took 19 hours to complete!

The event was held at the University of Las Vegas Nevada (UNLV) and was sponsored by OFF da Rook, a chess organization that runs scholastic chess events and has a chess site – offdarook dot com.
Most of the players came from locals at the Las Vegas Chess Center, but featured players that came from as far away at Tennessee and there were even 4 out of the country players that played via internet.

Over half of the players in the event were rated 1700 or higher. For those who don’t know what that means, it means over half the players were in the top 5% in the world. That is what that means! Congratulations to GM Gareyev on his amazing achievement!

Your humble scribe went back and forth as whether or not to mention this world record. Chess already has the reputation that it is a game for geeks and the super intelligent. I did not want to highlight that stereotype.

The way to look at chess is the same way you look at any other endeavor. Let’s say you don’t try chess because you think you are not smart enough. Let me let you in on a little secret:
I played high school and league baseball when I was never going to be good enough to be in the Major Leagues.

I played very competitive softball, but was not good enough to make the Michigan Softball Hall of Fame like many of my teammates have.

I played high school and league football when I was never going to even get big enough (let alone fast or strong enough) to play in the NFL.

I played league hockey when I was never going to be a good enough skater to be in the NHL.

I played league and tournament golf, and I have no shot of making any Tour of any kind.

I have played poker for serious stakes in casinos and casual stakes at home games, and I have no shot of ever being a professional poker player.

I have been in a target and self-defense shooting league and finished no where near the scores that the sharpshooters there could achieve. 

Other people run in races, bowl, fish, play soccer, tennis, basketball etc., all against others that enjoy that activity also. Others run marathons, even though they will never compete in the Olympics.

I also play chess. Casual and Tournament Chess. But I am never going to be a Grandmaster. Nor will I ever even try to play ONE chess game blindfolded.

Chess is like all the other activities I mentioned. You can learn chess. You may never be the best at it. You may never even be good at it (where ever that “GOOD” line actually is), but you will never be the worst at it and you will still have fun playing it!

Learn to play chess. You will not regret it and your mind will thank you for the exercise. Your eyes will thank you for the beauty you will create with your games. Trust me. You will have some stunners - both winning and losing! No two chess games are ever the same.

As your humble scribe blogs from the Club this hot casual chess Monday night, we were glad to see Zade K. back from West Pointe to play tonight and also Sam T.- who also returns after a stay at college.
Welcome back guys!
Zade promises to supply us with an article about his participation in various Armed Forces tournaments!

Casual chess continues next Monday. See you there.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

2018 LCCC Club Championship Final Round Pairings are Here

The final round pairings are below. It has been another exciting and close competition. We have three players tied at the top and two more players a half point behind.

And the K-12 section of the tournament is also very close. Stop by and watch the exciting last round this Monday Night - May 7.

And don't forget our Kid's Night on May 14th. As the school year ends, many chess programs close for the summer. Not at LCCC! We are here every Monday night (except of course for holidays), and our special Kid's Night is the 2nd Monday of every night. See you at the Club! 

Here are the pairings with the player playing White listed first:

Board 1 - Don M vs Ken T
Board 2 - Mike N vs Vince V
Board 3 - Paul M vs Petro K
Board 4 - Don J vs Justin D
Board 5 - Ethan J vs Josef M
Board 6 - Brandon D vs Joey O

Good luck to all the players!

White to move and get a winning game!

And here is a puzzle for you to solve from the 2007 Isle of Mann International Open tournament. USA GM James Tarjan - playing White - found this winning line.

Can you?

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Kid Night 051418 was Fun! 3rd Rd Next Week. Some Computer Chess History

We had ten players this night for casual chess, lessons and reviews of current and past games played. A very nice evening of chess was experienced by all.

Next Monday starts the 3rd round of our Club Championship. Of course there will be non-participants looking for casual chess games also. So stop on by to watch the tournament action or to play some chess yourself.

In honor of our Club Championship, here is a game from the Marshall Chess Club Championship, New York, 1946!

White is soon to be GM Larry Evans and playing Black is soon to be GM Herman Pilnik. But don't think because these player's ratings are sky high, that they don't make mistakes. They do, especially in the face of a possible 1st place finish up for grabs and the inevitable time pressure (which is why chess clocks are used in tournament play).

Besides being a very entertaining, this game was one of the games used to test chess playing computer programs to see if it would see White's 24th move! And if it did find it, how long did it take the program to find it?

The amazing fact is, White was all but lost a few moves prior to this move, IF his opponent had found the best replies prior to that point. Enough build up. Here is the game:
French Defense, Classical System
1. e4             e6
2. d4             d5
3. Nc3          Nf6
4. Bg5          Be7
5. Bxf6         Bxf6
6. e5             Be7
7. Qg4          O-O
8. O-O-O      c5
9. h4?           ........
A little too aggressive, but Mr. Evans is going for a win here. White had 9. Nf3 or dxc5 as better options. Black is up a pawn positionally now (-1).

9. ......                cxd4
10. Nce2           Nce2
11. f4                Qa5
12. Kb1            d3!

Black is threatening a double attack after 13. Rxd3, with Nb4.

13. cxd3           Bd7
14, Rh3?          Rac8
15. Rg3?          ........

Interviews after the game with the players confirmed that BOTH assumed they were winning here! But Pilnik with Black is the one not hallucinating as he has a completely won game (-4.3). Maybe it was Larry's Evan's lack of concern on the other side of the board that made Hermann Pilnik a little too timid - thinking "what am I missing here?"

15. ......             g6
16. d4               b5?

The light came on for White at this point and was thankful Black did not go the proper route with 16. ...Bb4, 17. Ra3, Ba4. Now Larry thinks maybe his attack will work blissfully unaware he is still two pawns behind positionally (-2.1). Hermann, dejected he didn't close the deal, seems to drift and throws away his advantage.

17. h5           Nb4
18. a3           Nc6?
19. hxg6       fxg6
20. Nc3        b4?
The game is back to EVEN here.

21. Bd3         Be8
22. Nf3??      ........
A serious blunder by making what looks to be a logical developing move to get more pieces in the game. However, 22. ....bxc3! 23. Qxe6+, Bf7 24. Bxg6, Qb5 25. Qxf7, Rxf7 26. Bd3+, Kf8 27. Bxb5, c2+ 28. Kxc2, Nxd4+, 29. Kb1, Nxb5 30. Rxb5, Nc7 and Black would have been up FIVE pawns! (-5.3). But Mr. Pilnik, possibly distraught over losing his advantage, decides to also throw away the draw.

22. ......             bxa3??
23. Qxe6+        Bf7
Black completely ruined a winning position, which sets up the historic computer program position! (+3.8) have to be good to see it. Of the earlier computer programs, only the good ones found it after 5 minutes of thinking or so. Some took 10 minutes, others never found it.

Today's weaker programs find it in less than 10 seconds. The best ones - instantly!

24. Bxg6!         axb2
25. Bxh7+!       Kh8
And now Black is in a mating net, but plays on a few more moves.

26. Qh6              Qa1+
27. Kc2              b1=Q+
28. Rxb1            Nb4+
29. Kd1              Resigns

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Rd 2 Complete for Club Championship 050718 - Kid's Night Monday!

White to make move #31
The 2nd round of the Club Championship was completed this Monday. Pairings will be out by this coming Monday - which is (drumrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrroll!) - Kid's Night!

May 14th is Kid's Night, and not a tournament night. So come on by with the younger chess players in the family for some casual chess or lessons if that is what is requested.

Kid's Night focuses on our younger members, but there is still some casual chess available for the adults of all ages. So come on by!

Now take a look at how not to play an endgame.

Here we have a double rook endgame. A quick look tells us Black is up one pawn (-1). But a closer look shows us his advantage might be bigger still! After all, he has a super majority of pawns on the queen-side and his rooks are doubled for maximum strength.

But Black has some negatives also. His rooks are what is known as 'biting on granite' as they cannot yet do much on the f-file they are concentrated on. And the Black King is a long way from getting in this endgame struggle right now.

As for White, to offset his pawn deficit, his rooks are more active, his King is closer to the action, and he has a small majority of pawns on the king-side.

Tally it all up and Igor3000 says Black is indeed winning, but by only by  (-.7) and not a full pawn.

To try and push this to a win, Black must active his rooks and king to better squares so he can quickly start moving his queen-side army forward. To hold a draw, White must keep Black's rooks pinned down protecting the backward c-pawn. And if White can somehow keep Black's king out of the game, White's own king could be the drawing difference. Let's see what actually happened in tournament time pressure.

31. Re1           R8f7
32. Re8+         Kh7
33. Rdd8?
White wants to avoid trading pieces as that is normally the best way to hold a draw in these situations, but 33. Rxf7, Rxf7 34. Kf2, Rf4 was a better plan. (-1.2)

33. .......           Rf5?!
Not the best as 33. .....Rf4, 34. Rc8, R7f6 holds the bigger advantage (-.8).

34. Rc8            R7f6
35. Rh8+          Kg6
36. Rc7?          .........
Keeping control of the e-file was necessary with 36. Rhe8. Instead Black can take a winning edge with 36. .....Re5, 37. Kf2, Rfe6 (-1.4). But Black misses his chance!

36. .........           d4?
37. Rg8             Rf7
38. Rxc6           R7f6?
Endgame play is always tricky and when you add time pressure, it becomes much more difficult. Then once you realize you tossed your advantage away, panic sets in and the board becomes a blurry mess. 38. ...... R5f6 was needed. Now White leads (+.8).

39. Rc7             d3??
Total collapse as the dream of queening a queen-side majority pawn blocks the nightmare of the Black King now being under assault. White is up (+14).

40. Rcxg7+        Kh5
41. g4+              Kh4
42. gxf5             Rxf5
43. Rg4+           Kh5
44. Rd8             Resigns

Thursday, May 3, 2018

2018 Club Championship Round 2 This Week - USA Wins Chess Gold Medal

TEAM USA - Top board - Fabiano Caruana
We had 10 players this Monday night as Round 1 of the 2018 LCCC Championship concluded.
Although the tournament entries are closed, there will still be players looking for a casual game. So don't be shy - show up to play or watch the tournament action.

Now a quick article about the best news in US Chess in decades! Well, we had the story that Fabiano Caruana will play for the World Title in November of 2018. But this story should have been posted before that one.

Our United States Chess Team beat 180 other nations in the 2016 Chess Olympiad! Bet you did not know that!

Bet you didn't know our Women's Olympic Chess Team finished 5th. This is in spite of the fact that other nations support women in chess a lot more than the USA does. Actually every nation on the planet supports their chess players better than the United States does.

I could go into a diatribe about the pathetic state of our nation's journalism, their standards and their priorities, but I will refrain. Let this article be about our great - but completely ignored - chess team.

Here are the players and their record in their individual matches (Win-Loss-Draw:
Fabiano Caruana   4-0-6
Hikaru Nakamura  5-1-5
Wesley So              7-0-3
Samuel Shankland 4-1-3
Ray Robson           2-1-2

Each team consists of 4 players (or boards). Here is our team's record (seeded #2) versus each opponent (and their seed in tournament) - round by round;
1 - Andorra (95) - Won 4-0
2 - Scotland (47) - Won 3.5 - .5
3 - Argentina (32) - Won 3 - 1
4 - Czech Republic (18) - Draw 2 - 2
5 - Serbia (15) - Won 3 - 1
6 - Ukraine (5) - Won 2.5 - 1.5
7 - India (9) - Won 3.5 - .5
8 - Russia (1) - Draw 2 - 2
9 - Norway (12) - Won - 3 -1
10 - Georgia (11) - Won - 2.5 - 1.5
11 - Canada (20) - Won - 2.5 - 1.5

This gave the US team a 31.5 match points and a record of  9 - 0 - 2 - and 1st place overall!

Chess is bigger in the United States than the pathetic media coverage it receives. There is plenty of blame to go around. But it starts with chess players themselves. If we are not going to promote chess, why should we expect anyone else to?

Promote this result. Promote this blog. Promote the game. Write and call the media outlets and ask why this result was not published or broadcasted? Tell them about the scholastic events happening all over this state - and the nation!

Chess is still growing but the word needs to be spread. Get out there!

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Big Crowd for the 2018 Club Championship

Playing great players is fun - win or lose. You have a story either way.
We had twelve players this Monday Night. Only ten entered the tournament, and two stayed and played some casual chess.
Of course all the chess at the Club is casual really. It's a laid back and a very friendly atmosphere at all times here.

We have two players that will play their 1st round of the Club Championship this week (a normal casual night and not a tournament night), so there is still time to get in this FREE tournament. We will be taking registrations for this tournament until 7pm this coming Monday! Stop by to sign up and play in the tournament or just to play some casual chess!

Here is a game that was featured in the Michigan Chess magazine in December of 1996. I will let the best writer in Michigan chess magazine history - David Moody - tell the story of this game:

With the rating difference of over 700 rating points, you would not expect much of a game in round 1. But there were some moments of interest:

Cadillac Open, 1996, Round 1
Opening: Grunfeld Defence, D93
White: Mike Nikitin (1528)
Black: Erik Ronneberg (2252)

1. d4           Nf6
2. c4           g6
3. Nc3        Bg7
4. Nf3        O-O
5. Bf4        d5
6. e3           c5
7. Nb5        Na6
This forces the Black knight to a bad square, but this move is not in the spirit of the position and releases a lot of the pressure on Black's somewhat rickety center. And of course there is the chess axiom of never moving the same piece twice in the opening - or as my chess coach once said in broken English, "Never move a chess piece twice until you have moved it once."

 8. a3               Bg4
9. Be2              dxc4
10. Bxc4          cxd4
11. Nbxd4       Nd5
Now Black has pressure on the long diagonal, not to mention the threatened advance of the e-pawn.

12. Bg3            e5
13. Qb3?          Nc5
[Igor3000 says that 13. Bxa6 was a much better move. White is now down -1.5).

14. Qa2           exd4
15. Bxd5          Nd3+
16. Kf1?            Rc8
Black is threatening 17. ...Nc1 and driving off the White queen away from supporting the bishop. (-2.5)

17. Bxb7??          Nc1?
18. Bxc8??          ........
The move of 18. Qd5 was better for White, but he is still in trouble at (-4). He apparently hopes to trap the knight with 18. ...Nxa2 19. Bxg4, but Black finds something much better, (-8) which is why White's last move was such a clank.

18. ........              Qxc8!
19. Qd5               Qa6+
What do you know? It is our old friend - the smothered mate! White resigned here but let's show the ending anyway.

20. Kg1                Ne2+
21. Kf1                Nxg3+
22. Kg1                Qf1+
23. Rxf1               Ne2++

The Swiss System - used for almost all American tournaments has several functions, besides the obvious one of accommodating large fields of players and still rendering winners in a small number of rounds.
But we chess players and writers notice what the Swiss System always accomplishes without even trying. Here are three:
1. The Swiss System will always pair two people with perfect legible writing together and they will deliver a perfect score sheet of a boring game.
2. The Swiss System will always pair two people with terrible illegible writing together every round and those games will be the best of the tournament.
3, The Swiss System will automatically pair people from the same club, city, school and state, while never  allowing pairings of people who will never have a change to ever play each other again.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Club Championship 2018 Starts Monday - and Boris Kostic

Chess tournaments are fun!
Our club championship tournament starts this Monday - and it is free!
We will offer some chess medals to our young players who play in every round of the tournament.

The tournament will play one round per week, and will go 3 to 5 rounds, depending on the number of entries. The time limit will be a generous 1 hour per player, with a 5 second delay - if the clock you use has one. 
Our tournament will be played every other week, so no need to make a commitment for that many weeks in a row.
Also, our Tournament Director Ken, allows players to skip a week and play on off weeks if the actual night of your game is not open for you.

So there is no reason not to try your hand at "real" tournament chess in an ultra friendly atmosphere.
See you at the club a 6pm for registration and we will try to get the tournament started around 6:45 or so.

While many tournament players do become famous, at least in chess circles, many excellent players end up toiling away in anonymity. Probably the best player you never heard of is Boris Kostic (1887 - 1963). We will let GM Andy Soltis tell the story.

Boris Kostic was one of the top ten players in the world in his day and was the first chess world globe trotter. He introduced chess all over the world with his simultaneous exhibitions. He visited every continent on the planet.

In New York, during World War I, people who knew nothing about chess were amazed by his 20 board match that he played - blindfolded! And he did not lose a game!

He took a tour of the United States. playing an incredible 3281 games! He also won the US Open in 1918.

His career reads like a Hollywood script. He taught chess in a military school in Buenos Aires, gave chess lessons to opera star Enrico Caruso and was held in a German  concentration camp because he refused to play in the Nazi Chess Championship.

 Kostic played in over 2000 tournament games and yet few of his games are stored in databases.

You won't find a record of his victory over US Champion Jackson Showalter with a 7-2-5 record, or his victory over another US Champion Frank Marshall 7-1-2.

His best tournament was when he undefeated but finished 2nd to Jose Capablanca in the New York Championship in 1918.

Kostic are the 5th rated player in the world in 1921 - ahead of immortals Alexander Alekhine, Max Euwe and Aron Nimzowitsch.

He enjoyed a long career. So why is he forgotten today? The answer is that it takes more than that to achieve lasting chess fame. He didn't win any famous tournaments. He didn't win any 'brilliancy' prizes for his wins. He didn't even lose a 'famous' game.

And even some obscure players are remembered for an opening variation named after them, but alas there is no "Kostic Variation". And there is no good Kostic game collection books either.

He had to settle for the annual Kostic Memorial Chess Tournament held annually in his hometown of Vrsac, Serbia.

Chess owes him so much more.