Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A Fun Seth Homa Simil .....and Casual Chess on 082216 Monday

Seth Homa in his LCCC shirt ant cap before the simil!
Sorry for the lack of articles lately. Sometimes life gets in the way of chess. But the lack of posting does not mean a lack of activity at LCCC.

On August 15th the members of LCCC were treated to a fun night of chess as FIDE Master Seth Homa stopped by to give a similtaneous chess exhibition. As always, Seth was a gracious player and even allowed 3 passes per player to allow them to think a little longer. Later in the simil he allowed the players take as long as they wanted to move. Everyone tried to move in a reasonable amount of time, but it is difficult to do when you are trying to hold on against one of the very best players in Michigan!

Seth disposed of eight of his nine opponents - with only Vince Valente holding Seth to a draw! This was no fluke as Seth was held to a draw by Vince about two years ago when Seth did his first simil here at LCCC!

According to Vince the game was eerily similar with Seth getting an opening advantage, then Vince sacrificing a pawn to at least giving himself some play. Seth admitted to a blunder a short time after that - and the game ended fairly in a draw.

Now that I tempted you with this game - IT WILL BE annotated and posted here! Just as soon as LCCC's resident Expert - Jason Morris gets back from vacation, he will post it here. Your humble scribe will let the Expert handle this game for our readers.

On August 22, we had a casual chess night and eight players showed up for that. We even got a new member to our club as Sam G. stopped by for the first time! Welcome Sam!

We will have another casual chess night on August 29th. Some of us will use that night to do some final preparations for the Michigan Open chess tournament being played over the Labor Day weekend.

It will be held at the Detroit Marriott Livonia - 17100 Laurel Park Drive. You have your choice of a 4 day event, a 3 day event or just a 2-day event. Either way, state titles are on the line as well has chess club honors!

LCCC has finished no worse than 4th in Club points in this event and would love to finish 1st this year!  

Black to move and win!
Be sure to register for this tournament by clicking on the Michigan Chess links on the right side of this blog. Or at least stop by to see the great chess action and check out the latest in chess books and equipment at the local sellers that will be at the event.

Here is your puzzle to help you prep for the upcoming State tournament!

Black to move and win!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The 2016 Fischer 960 Tournament Finishes With an Upset!

Ken Tack wins the LCCC 2016 960 Tournament!

He won it with a last round victory against Jason Morris, who is the highest rated player in the club right now.

Your humble scribe does not have the game yet, but hopes to have it for you soon.

White - Jason Morris - Black - Mike Nikitin
To give you an idea of what a great game Ken had to play, here is an earlier 960 effort by Jason Morris. This will give you an idea of what Ken was up against.

But as mentioned in previous columns, 960 chess can almost force 'blindness' because your mind will picture pieces in their regular start places, instead of where they really are. This phenomenon bites Jason here, but he plays solid positional chess to turn the tables on his opponent with a material advantage.

1. c4       Ng6
2. Nb3      c6
3. e3?        Bxh2
4. d5         e6
5. Bd3       d5
6. Bd2        Qe7
7. O-O-O     O-O
8. f4       f5
9. g4       Bxg1
10. Qxg1     ......
Position after 10. Qxg1
Lets review here. White may have allowed the rook and pawn for the bishop exchange in order to "handicap" the game - since Jason is at least 500 rating points better than his opponent. Or - he fell for the 960 blindness that made his mind assume a rook was on h1.
Either way, White has improved his lot in life positionally and is less than a pawn down at this juncture - says Igor3000 - the chess computer.

10. .......         a6
11.  gf?         ef
12.  cd?         Qd6?
Black is seeing ghosts while facing this stronger opponent -fearing both a possible skewer he could maybe fall into along the c4-g8 diagonal if he played the correct Qxd5 or that cxd5 will open up the c-file for White (-3). Neither concern is real and Black's advantage stays minimal instead of growing in light of White's less than optimal last few moves (-.8).

13. Ng3      Ne7
14. e4       cd
15. e5       Qg6
16. Qf2     Nc6?!
Getting the other knight into the game with Nb6 was a better option (-.6).

17. Rg1       Qe6
18. Na5       Na7?
19. Kb1      b6
20. Bb4       Rfe8?

Position after Black's 20. .........Rfe8
Now Black is actually losing in spite of his material advantage. Just a simple check of real estate shows White has every piece in active squares and Black has only his queen in a good spot.
The best move for Black was actually to trading one of his sleeping rooks for two of White's well posted minor pieces with 20. ....bxa5  21. Bxf1, Rxf1 with a nice advantage for Black (-2).
Instead, Jason uses his positional advantage now!

21. Nb7!!      Bxb7? (Nc6)
22. Nxf5       Rd7
23. Qh2!       g6
24. Nh6+      Kg7
25. Bxg6       Kh8
26. Bxe8       Qxe8
27. Qh4        Rd6
28. e6          Rxe6
29. Qd8       Rg6
30. Qxe8+        Rg8
31. Qxg8 mate

Beautiful chess games come out of 960 games too! Great ending Jason!

And again, congratulations to Ken Tack on his fine tournament win!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Final 960 Round Monday - Casual Chess on 080116

A small, well organized chess library is important to a chess player.
We had ten players for casual chess night! In addition to some fun chess played, Jason went over some grandmaster games giving insight into how the top players think and evaluate positions.

Great stuff! This is why LCCC is the place to be to not only play chess, but to get better at it.

The final round of the 2016 LCCC 960 tournament will happen this Monday. But if you want to play chess, there will be several players milling about who are not playing in the tournament. So stop on by. Or come in and watch some great chess played from some really weird starting positions.

Here is the line up for the last round of the 960 tournament (white listed first):

Board 1:  Ken T - Jason M
Board 2:  Vince V - Gene M
Board 3:  Mike N - Paul M    (game drawn by agreement)
Board 4:  Don J - Sam T
Board 5:  Luigi M - Americo M
Board 6:  Luca M - Marcello M
Board 7:  Roy M - Larry W

Here is an on-line game for your enjoyment:

1. e4      e6
2. f4      d5
3. e5      c5
4. Nf3      Ne7
5. b3      Nbc6
6. Bb2      Nf5
7. Bb5      Bd7
8. Qe2      Nb4
Black plays for a silly fork instead of developing and getting ready to castle with Be7. Now the slight advantage Black had (-.6) due to his well posted knights is gone. (-.1)

9. Bxd7+   Qxd7
10. d3       Be7
11. c3       Nc6
12. Nbd2?    h6
For White, the ugly looking 12. Na3 would have given White help on his weak d4 square. (-.6)

13. g4      Nh4
14. O-O-O      Nxf3
15. Qxf3       Qc7
16. Kb1      b5
17. h4       a5
18. c4      bxc4
19. dxc4      d4

Black finally gets around to taking the d4 square and gains space. Too bad he traded off his active pieces first. (-.3)

20. g5?       Kd7?
Both players miss the best move for both ......a4!
For White this move better secures White's king, and for Black - it opens up the a-file to the White king. The same square for different objectives.

Black instead plays a move to connect his rooks so they can go to either side of the board quickly. With the center blocked, his king is fine there. Now White will try to open the center. The game is even.

21. Ne4      Qb6?!
This move allows 22. Nf3! as the knight cannot be taken due to the skewered Black king, and White has no defensive worries at that point (+.2).

22. Ba3?     .........
White does not use the tactic available to him and instead makes a poor attempt to keep Black's knight from b4. Black finally seizes his opportunity.

22. ........        a4!
23.  Bc1       axb3
Black plays the 5th best move here (-1.3) with the superior 23. .....Na5 available (-1.7). But either way Black has all the play now. White blunders under the new pressure on his king that he failed to  see, but even the better 24. axb4 would not have saved the game. This blunder was really costly (-7).

24. Qxb3??       Qa6
25. Kc2        Rhb8
26. Qa3        Qxc4+

Thursday, July 28, 2016

On 960 Tournament Night 072526 - Great Games, Good Times

We had 15 players arrive at the LCCC for the Fischer 960 tournament action. We hope to post some games from the event soon.

We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the winners of this week's games:
Jason M
Mike N
Don J
Paul M
Sam T
Luigi M (forfeit)

and a draw between Gene M and Ken T.

Black to move and win!
The next round pairings and standing will be posted soon.

Until then, here is a puzzle for your enjoyment.

Black to move and win.

Not a fast win, but a win just the same.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Open Chess Night 071816 Brings Four New Members!

Everyone has a favorite chess set! What's yours?
Surprises and a fun night of chess were had tonight at LCCC. We had a total of eleven players show up tonight that included three new members, one guest from California and one "old" young player - Scott M - who had not been at the chess club in a while due to work hours.

We would like to give a shout out to the new members of LCCC - Petro K, Ed U and Roger F. Welcome gentlemen!

We also had a childhood friend of Don J's - Kevin - who stopped in all the way from California. He fit right in and got right in and played some outstanding chess - and more importantly - had a fun time. Stop back in next time you are in the 'neighborhood' Kevin!

 Next week will resume our Fischer Random 960 tournament, but don't worry folks. There will be 'regular' chess opponents hanging around looking for a game - so come on by!

And readers, be sure to check out the LCCC Hall of Fame on the right side of this blog. Congratulations to Americo and Marcello Milani!

Here is the pairings for next week's tournament action. The player with White is listed first:

Board 1: Jason M - Vince V
Board 2: Gene M - Ken T (postponed until August 1)
Board 3: Mike N - Roy M
Board 4: Americo M - Don J
Board 5: Marcello M - Paul M
Board 6: Sam T - Luca M
Board 7: Larry W - Luigi M

Your humble scribe will be around with the 'app' to randomly give you your piece starting positions. In Fischer Random 960 chess - your back rank of pieces are 'mixed up', taking the opening book knowledge out of the game.

Next article will feature a 960 game played at the club for your amusement and amazement! Well, it will be interesting to look at at least.
White to move and win!

Until then, here is a puzzle taken from a game played by GM Rustam Kasimdzhanov vs IM Alexander Chernlaev in the 60th anniversary of the Wijk ann Zee GM Tournament, held in the Netherlands in 1998.

White to move and (for GM's - and most players) win!

For you less experienced players out there, it is more important that you see White's positional advantage - BEFORE deciding a move - more than figuring out the best move.

But one will lead you to the other. But try and figure out why White has an advantage right now.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Round Two of the 2016 960 Tournament Grows

Chess is a game for gentlemen......and ladies!
Our fun and very exciting 960 tournament grew as several players entered late.

The new tournament results and the pairings for the July 25 Round 3 will be published soon.

Open chess will be held on July 18.

We had two new members join NPP this week as Shan G and Paul G got involved in the 'regular' casual chess also played this evening. Welcome to both of you.

We also had a visitor from Chicago who stopped in to get his chess fix. That gave us a total of 17 players to the club. This means that if you stop by, you will always find a player to play.

This different type of chess - called 960 - makes you play chess from the first move due to the opening book moves are not available.

This makes you start planning immediately. John Nunn, a grandmaster and one of the world's most respected chess writers, gives some tips on chess planning in his book "Secrets of Practical Chess."

Being 'practical' is certainly a requirement of Fischer Random 960 chess. Here are GM Nunn's tips:

1. Make sure your plan is beneficial. There is no point aiming for a target which does not enhance your position. Like swapping your 'active' pieces for your opponent's 'sleeping' pieces.

2. Make sure your plan is realistic. There is no point in embarking on a five-move plan if your opponent can wait for four moves and stop your plan on move 5, then start his own.

3. Make sure your plan is not tactically flawed. Even if your plan is worthwhile, it's no good if your opponent can mate you first!

Nunn also points out that you must be willing to change your plan or make adjustments if you discover new information or your opponent finds a move you missed.

Now for a puzzle:

White to play and win. Find the move.

Friday, July 1, 2016

2016 960 Tournament - Off to a HOT Start!

On a very warm night - some very hot chess was played in the very cool and air conditioned chess club.

If you have never played 960 chess, here is your chance! We had 13 players enter and we need another to make the pairings even. So you can still join this event in our next meeting - and round - on July 11 at 6pm. The round will start at 6:30 pm.

Here is the line up for the July 11 round (White is listed first):

Board 1: Nick D - Jason M
Board 2: Ken T - Marcello M
Board 3: Sam T - Vince V
Board 4: Paul M - Mike N
Board 5: Roy M - Luigi M
Board 6: Larry W - Americo M
Bye: - Luca M

As you can see, Luca needs an opponent! So stop on by and get in this tournament!

Lets take a look at some 960 action from the first round. As you can see, the board is set up in a random fashion. This eliminates the standard chess openings from a players memory and leave you to "play chess" from the first move.

Two things can happen here. One is that tactical shots can be found quickly due to the random structure. Sometimes pawns are unprotected or pieces are sitting unprotected from the very first move!

The second issue is that your mind will sometimes picture pieces in their normal location. If you are not consciously aware of where your back-rank pieces are actually sitting, you can get in trouble quickly.

Take a look at these 960 miniatures:

1. g4      Nc6?
Already not a good move, although it is fine in regular chess - and that is the danger of 960. White can now play b4! and gain space and threaten to make Black waste time moving his knight away from the pesky and rook protected pawn. That rook is not usually on b1 of course.

2. Nd3      Nd4
Black immediately going after the unprotected c-pawn - but neglecting his own development.

3. Rc1      g6
4. b3        Nxc2+
5. Rxc2    Bxa1
6. Rxc7    ........
Whoops! Black's own weak c-pawn falls. So Black gained nothing. But the game is not lost with developing moves like Qg7, Nd6 or the ugly Kd8.

6. .......         b6?
Does Black's mind thinks the queen is where the king is and vice versa. Now White's better development carries the day.

7. Bxa8       Rxa8??
Yes, Black is playing by rote. His king is trapped on the back rank and his Queen is not protecting anything.

8. Qg2!       Rb8
9. Qb7        and Black is toast!

 Or how about this one:

1. b3      Nf6
2. Nc3     e6
3. Ng3     Qe7
4. O-O     O-O-O
5. e4        Nc6
6. d4       e5?
Black thought his center was better with both the queen and rook there, but this loses a pawn.

7. d5          Nd5?
8. Nxd5      ed
9. Qxd5      g6??

Black mentally thinks his rook is on a8, but it is not!

10. Qxa7    and Black is busted.

Chess 960 is a nice change of pace from regular chess and a new challenge for all chess players.

Get here on July 11 and get in on the fun.
PS: There will be players hanging around looking for a casual game of regular chess also!