Saturday, April 22, 2017

Casual Chess Night at LCCC on 041717

Another fun night of chess at LCCC.

But our big announcement is that of a Kid's Night at LCCC starting on Monday May 8, 2017.
We will run Kid's Night every second Monday of every month.
The details will be posted on this site soon, but if you would like details sooner, please write the Club at our email address found in the header of this blog.

Here is a tournament game from the old Detroit area Metro League - Royal Oak Chess Club vs Oak Park Chess Club, played in the 1960's. Gruenfeld Defense

1. d4          Nf6
2. c4          g6
3. Nc3       d5
4. cxd5      Nxd5
5. e4          Nxc3
6. bc          Bg7
7. Bc4       c5
8. Ne2       Nc6
9. Be3       Qa5
10. O-O      O-O
11. dxc5      Bxc3
12. Nxc3     Qxc3
13. Rc1       Qf6
14. f4          Be6
15. Qe2       Bxc4
16. Qxc4     ...........

Although there have been some opening errors made by both players, the game is dead even at this point.
White's lead in space and development compensates for his two isolated pawns.
This position screams for Black to take the open file with Rd8, but instead he falls behind in counter play chances.

16. .......        e6
17. Rb1        Rb8
18. Rfd1       Rfd8
19. Rd6        Qe7
20. Rbd1      Qe8?
Better was Qh4 or Re1. It would probably be missed by the average player, but Black has relinquished control of the dark squares around his king. According to Igor3000, White has a simple plan of Qc3 - f5 - Bh6 and Black has defensive issues. (+.8).
White tries a different plan that is not near as good. In fact, it's bad (-.4).
21. Qb5        Qe7
22. Kh1         Kg7
23. Rxd8        Rxd8
24. Qb2+?      ..........
Black can trade queens here with Qf6 as 25. e5 is met with Rxe1+. After the trade of queens and rooks, White would still have weak pawns on the queen side (-.8). Black throws away his chance for a victory (+.3).

24. ........         f6?
25. Rxd8        Nxd8
26. Kg1         Nc6
The game is back to even.

27. Kf2         Qc7
28. Kf3          e5
29. Qb3?       .........
Black pounces on this opportunity to take the lead.

29. .........       ef
30. Bxf4        Nd5+
31. Ke3          Nxb3
32. Bxc7        Nxc5

Black is up only (-.8) due to an open board with a bishop vs knight endgame. The bishop is a little better in this situation. With both players in time pressure, a draw was agreed to.

A spirited game.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Reverse Analysis, Part Two - and Casual Chess on 041017

Alexander Alekhine
We had a nice night of chess at LCCC. Eight players including two new members. More on that in a later post.

But now to finish the Reverse Analysis article from last week by Jonathan Kolkey from Chess Life - October 2003: [Igor3000 notes in brackets]

Initially I was introduced to this classic encounter back in 1964 [ Jose R. Capablanca (2664) vs Alexander Alekhine (2547) - 21st Match Game, 1927], and it has taken me nearly 40 years to understand what actually happened. Annotations furnished by Lasker and Alekhine himself, among others, unfortunately shed little light on this astonishing game. Here, the defending world champion - playing White - was soundly beaten in 32 moves in a supposedly drawish Queen's Gambit Declined (QGD), without committing any obvious blunders.

Granted, critics suggest improvements here or there. But an amateur like us would remain mystified. However, examine in hindsight the critical position after White's 26th move, and the entire contest becomes crystal clear.

1. d4               d5
2. c4               e6
3. Nc3            Nf6
4. Bg5            Nbd7
5. e3               Be7
6. Nf3             O-O
7. Rc1             a6
[White has almost a pawn positional advantage (+.8) with the continuation of 8. cxd5, exd5 9. Bd3, h6. But the text move leaves only a (+.2) advantage.

8. a3                h6
9. Bh4             dxc4
10. Bxh4         b5
11. Be2           Bb7
12. O-O          c5
13. dxc5          Nxc5
14. Nd4           Rc8
15. b4              Ncd7
16. Bg3           Nb6
[White is losing ground here needing 16. Qd2, Nb6 for an even game. Now (-.3).]

17. Qb3           Nfd5
18. Bf3            Rc4
[Game back to even. Knights before rooks as Black needed 18. .....Nc4 to keep the advantage.]
19. Ne4           Qc8
20. Rxc4          Nxc4
21. Rc1            Qa8
22. Nc3?            Rc8
[Our author did not have the advantage of a computer program that plays at 3000+ strength. Igor3000 sees that White needed 22. Nc5, Bxc5 23. bxc5, Rc8 with only a tiny advantage to Black instead of the pawn positional advantage (-1) Alekhine now enjoys.
So because of this inferior knight move, Capa was behind before our author finds his thread for analysis. However, I still believe the author has a valid argument to present.]

23. Nxd5          Bxd5
24. Bxd5          Qxd5
25. a4               Bf6
26. Nf3             .........

 Here we are at the critical juncture. Black's soon to be decisive advantage consists of several elements:
A clearly more aggessively situated knight, bishop and queen - along with enjoying the luxury of having an escape square for the king to avoid annoying back-rank mates.

For starters, what is White's bishop doing stuck on g3 with no scope on current events? Reverse analysis shows that Capablanca used 3 moves to maneuver his piece into this wilderness.

Usually in the QGD opening, White trades this bishop for Black's on e7 or for the knight on f6. Capablanca did neither. This partially reveals some of the problem here.

In addition, White wasted 4 moves Bc4-e2-f3-xd5 to eliminate Black's same white squared bishop and now has a difficult time removing Black's monster knight on c4. And the absence of that same bishop leaves White with no easy way to pester Black's powerful queen on d5.

So Reverse Analysis shows that Capablanca's mishandling of both of his bishops cost him the game. [The proper knight move on move 22 would have equalized the incorrect handling of the White bishops - not withstanding.]

26. .......            Bb2
27. Re1             Rd8
28. axb5            axb5
29. h3                e5
30. Rb1             e4
31. Nd4             Bxd4
32. Rd1??          Nxe3
White resigns

Regrettably, the normal move-by-move annotation style obscures these deeper, strategic currents that operate throughout an entire game. Once we conduct the appropriate reverse analysis post-mortem, then we can see things in a fresh light.
In my opinion, Reverse Analysis helps amateur players identify patterns, move sequences as well as deeper positional currents that normally remain obscured with traditional start-to-finish annotation. - J. Kolkey

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Reverse Analysis, Part One - and Casual Chess on 040317

Jose R. Capablanca - we will be reviewing one of his few losses next week.
Another fun night of chess and conversation at LCCC. Stop on by any Monday for a nice evening.

Now an article by Jonathan Kolkey that makes a lot of sense:

Every chess player on earth faces an excruciating situation: we reach a point where we play about as well as we will ever play, and then we never progress any further. Of course not everyone can become a grandmaster, or even a master. In fact, statistically Class B players are quite rare.

Nonetheless, most chess players never come close to maximizing their potential. I suspect that many players remain haunted by a nagging sense that with all the time and effort we invested in the game, we should have been better. We all appear to be suffering collectively from a case of 'arrested development.'

I have reached the conclusion that there must be a huge flaw in the way we are educated about chess. The traditional grandmaster annotation allows the game to unfold in front of the student's eyes. I say that this MUST be supplemented by an equally essential 'post mortem' or autopsy if you will. The autopsy takes the key position and then analyzes them 'backwards', in order to discover exactly how both players arrived at a particular position.

Let me use me as an example. I studied everything I could find as a young tournament player, and slowly moved up the rating board.  As an A player, my memory is better than most. I even have a draw against Sammy Reshevsky in a simultaneous exhibition that the grandmaster used in his column - calling me an 'able opponent.' But I peaked at a rating of 1937. I can still hold my own near A player strength on a 'good hair' day.

But I wonder why I never became an expert. I always could calculate variations, but my lack of spatial skills condemns me to a short event horizon of only a few moves ahead. I am forced to play chess based on general principles and keep the game simple, lest I quickly become lost in a thicket of complications.

I now recognize that traditional chess literature never addressed my major shortcoming. Players like me and below with limited foresight cannot hope to transfer lessons from grandmaster games into our own.

GM and IM chess writers - as well as military historical writers - use a technique called 'the fog of war" where the reader is only given only as much information as needed to explain the event's outcome.

I think we should learn the outcome FIRST and then trace the position backwards. In this way, we conveniently circumvent the amateur's limited event horizon.

As an historian, I'm used to analyzing events backwards in a manner similar to that of a coroner performing an autopsy. I believe that only in this fashion can ordinary players understand what is really going on in the game. Indeed, key positional elements, such as development and time, control of the center and files, color schemes and the configuration of minor pieces are best understood in hindsight.

[Editor's note: Let that sink in and we will give an example next post. I'm re-reading this myself!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Chess Every Monday at LCCC - and P. R. Geffe Conclusion

Bogart (left at board) and Woliston-Geffe (not pictured) were California chess regulars
Just a reminder - the LCCC offers chess every Monday night at the Hartland Senior Center. Stop on in 6 - 9 pm.

Philip R. Geffe: A Chess Story - continued - by John S Hilbert and IM John Donaldson, Chess Life, Oct. 2003

After winning the California State Tournament, Woliston (Geffe) as he was know - was invited to play in the first US Chess Championship sponsored by the United States Chess Federation in New York City in 1940.

Prior to the tournament he visited all the local chess watering holes. He managed a draw with Reuben Fine in a casual 10 seconds a move game and lost a close game to Sammy Reshevsky. But the best thing about the trip was meeting back up with his old playing partner and friend Olaf Ulvestad.

Olaf failed to make the tournament in a tie-break scenario of a coin flip - giving the spot to Fred Reinfeld! But the old friends made the most of their time together as Olaf prepared Philip for the upcoming tournament.

But Woliston did not fare well against the bevy of international stars at this tournament. There was Reshevsky, Fine, Kashdan and Denker. After opening with a 2 - 1 result, back to back losses to Steiner and Fine, two draws and two more losses effectively ended his chances.

In the 17th round, Ruben Fine trailed Sammy Reshevesky by a 1/2 point as they sat down to play the final round. In inaccuracy by Fine on his 27th move completely threw away his winning position. It was the only real chance Fine would have in beating his life long nemesis in all the national events they would enter together. Woliston remembered, "When it was over, Fine looked crushed and almost ready to cry."

The attack on Pearl Harbor changed Woliston's fate, as it did so many other people. He enlisted in the Merchant Marines and became a radio officer. Having to use his actual birth certificate to enlist, his official name returned to Philip R. Geffe. Hence, this is why so much of his early chess career was lost for a quarter century or more.

After the war, chess took a back seat to life as Philip married and raised three children. It was not until 1965, twenty five years after his last tournament, did P. R. Geffe return to tournament chess.

Chess too, would come into play in his business life as well. "I went to work for Westinghouse Defense & Space Center in Baltimore, Maryland. My boss and the guy that hired me was Anatole Zverev, a Russian immigrant. We played chess at my employment interview."

Philip started playing again with some regularity and won the Maryland State title in the late 1960's. And in 1970, won the Nevada State Championship.

He is still an active player in California (Ed. Note:vwith a 2200 rating and still living at 96!).

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Philip R. Geffe: A Chess Story

y John S. Hilbert and IM John Donaldson

The first United States Chess Federation sponsored tournament was held in New York and was won by Sammy Reshevsky. There were 17 competitors. The last player living from that tournament - is not even listed on cross-table of the tournament.

Let me explain.

Philip Reinhold Geffe was born on Oct. 22, 1920 in Napa, Cal. He was an only child. His parents moved to Seattle and divorced when he was still an infant. His father was a veteran of WWI, contracted tuberculosis during the war and died when Philip was 9 years old.

Somehow, Philip's last name was changed to his mother's maiden name of 'Woliston' when he started school.

The young Woliston came to chess relatively late in life, learning in Seattle's Franklin High School. "I learned quickly and was playing at the Seattle Chess Club by summer vacation in 1935. His playing strength was hastened by his playing partner and friend Olaf Ulvestad.

Although Olaf was 8 years Philip's senior, they became friends and playing partners. Olaf had already won the Washington State Championship two years running.

Not surprising; the young Woliston's play quickly developed. Philip states, "I moved up the Seattle Chess Club rating board from last to second in 4 months. Actually, they had two boards and I was 5th on the blindfold rankings."

Philip and his mother moved to California in 1936 but not before he played a match with J. Leonard Sheets - the nine time Washington State Champion. Woliston won the match 5 - 3 with one draw.

In 1937 Woliston visited the Exposition Park Chess Club in Los Angeles and won that club's championship with an impressive 14 - 2 score with 4 draws. That summer he finished 3rd in the Southern California Championship. In 1938, he won the Los Angeles City Championship with an impressive 11-0 score.

Woliston then won the California State Championship with a 7 - 1 score. Behind him in order was Harry Borochow, Herman Steiner and 4th was George Koltanowski!. That is how strong the field was.

 To be continued:

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Six Players on a Cold Snowy Night - 031317

Chess study is a lot more fun than school study. But they help each other.
Your humble scribe could not make it due to work commitments, but chess was still available on a cold and unpleasant evening.

Many chess sites like to show the games of Bobby Fischer. I try to go with his fellow world champion - Boris Spassky.

Here is a game where he calmly and with just classic chess play, disassemble a opening novelty by his opponent.

Notes by Andrew Soltis or [Igor 3000].

Team Championships - 1962
Mikenas (Lithuania) - Spassky (Leningrad)
Nimzo-Indian Defense

1. d4         Nf6
2. c4         e6
3. Nc3      Bb4
4. e3         b6
5. Qf3?!    ..........
An odd move played on occasion by Mikenas and Tolush, two players of pronounced originality. Presumably the idea is to bring the Queen too g3.
[Black takes a -.3 of a pawn positional advantage already. 5. Bd2, Bb7 is normal and equal here.]

5. ........       d5
6. Bd3      ...........
This move is too early. White should wait until Black commits his bishop to b7. Better was 6. Nge2, O-O.

6. .......       Ba6!
White never recovers from the loss of initiative that follows this move. The next move is an admission of guilt.

7. Bd2       c5
8. dxc5      Nbd7!
This breaks the counter-pin on Black's d-pawn and secures a lasting attack. Again, 9. Qe2 leaves White poorly placed after 9. .....Ne5.

9. Be2          Bxc4
10. cxb6       O-O
11. Bxc4       .........

White draws the line here. Continuing to eat pawns would leave Spassky with an excellent game - which, by the way, he has anyway.
[Black with a two pawn positional lead (-2).

11. ........        Ne5!
12. Qe2         dxc4
13. Nf3?        Nd3  [-2.5]
14. Kf1         axb6
15. Be1?       Bxc3!
The simplest win for Black is to bring the knight to e4 and invade on the d-file. [-3.3]

16. bxc3        Ne4
17. Nd4         e5?

[Spassky missed 17. ......Qf6 and the future world champion could relax after 18. Kg1, e5 19. Nf3 [-3.7]. Instead, [2.9]].

18. Nc2?         Qf6
19. f3              Rfd8
20. Kg1          Nxe1
21. Nxe1?       Nxc3
The only real alternative was 21. Qxe1 [-3.6 instead of -6].

22. Qxc4        e4!
The threats on the new diagonal are too much and even 23. Kf1 loses to Nd5! Moving the rook loses to Rac8 and anything else drops the exchange to the knight check. So,

23. White resigns

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Nice Night of Casual Chess - 030617

Eleven players were on hand for some chess. We were able to welcome back some players that had not been to the club in a while. It was good to see them again.

The wonder of a chess club is that when life allows and the mood for a game a chess hits, the Club is there like an oasis. Stop by sometime and rest yourself. Stay for a spell.

Now for a puzzle.

Western States Open - 2003 - Slava Mikhailuk versus Thomas Dorsch. 

White to move - and gain a big advantage.