Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Fischer Random 960 2018 Tourney Continued - 021918

IM Almira Skripchenko thinks 960 chess is wild!
We had ten players tonight at the Club and four played in the 2nd round of our 2018 Fischer 960 Random Tournament.

This is a fun event! For those of you not familiar with 960 Random chess, it was a game invented by Bobby Fischer in order to "save" chess.His idea was to take the back rank of the pieces and randomly mix them up.

There are actually 1320 different combinations of mixed up positions, but Bobby wanted to save the idea of castling. So in order to do that, the 360 positions where the king is not in between the two rooks were eliminated.

There are now apps for phones which will do the random generating for the placement of the pieces. We use them at the Club. We turn the app on and roll a six-sided die and hit the random generator button the number of times the die tells us to, in order to get the starting position of the back row pieces.

But if you don't have an app, that single six-sided die will be able to do the randomization for you. Here is the formula:

A common one is that proposed by Ingo Althoefer in 1998, which requires only one six-sided die:
  1. Roll the die, and place a white bishop on the black square indicated by the die, counting from the left. Thus, 1 indicates the first black square from the left (a1), 2 indicates the second black square from the left (c1), 3 indicates the third (e1), and 4 indicates the fourth (g1). Since there are no fifth or sixth positions, re-roll a 5 or 6 until another number shows.
  2. Roll the die, and place a white bishop on the white square indicated (1 indicates b1, 2 indicates d1, and so on). Re-roll a 5 or 6.
  3. Roll the die, and place the queen on the first empty position indicated (always skipping filled positions). Thus, 1 places the queen on the first (leftmost) empty position, while 6 places the queen on the sixth (rightmost) empty position.
  4. Roll the die, and place a knight on the empty position indicated. Re-roll a 6.
  5. Roll the die, and place a knight on the empty position indicated. Re-roll a 5 or 6.
This leaves three empty squares. Place the king on the middle empty square, and the rooks on the remaining two squares. Place all white and black pawns on their usual squares, and place Black's pieces to exactly mirror White's (so, Black should have on a8 the same type of piece White has on a1, except that bishops would be on opposite-color squares).

Garry Kasparov, one of the world champions considered by some to be the greatest player of all time, gave his opinion of Fischer Random 960 chess:

"From my viewpoint, Fischer Random chess is entirely acceptable. But I propose that instead of 960 possible positions, most of which are positions that hurt the eyes of serious chess players, downsize the number of positions to 20 or 30. It goes without saying that in several years theory will be developed. To entirely exclude opening preparation is unimaginable."

Especially when that preparation is to your advantage as a GM!

Your humble scribe disagrees completely with GM Kasparov. The randomness is exactly what makes this type of chess a blast to play. And a genius like Kasparov and other GM's could easily memorize several patterns in 20 or 30 positions - and we would be right back to what Bobby Fischer was trying to eliminate - volumes of opening preparation.

Standard chess is challenging enough for us mere mortals. However, if you have an opponent who has some pet openings you cannot seem to crack, Fischer 960 may even the playing field for you.

And besides - it's FUN!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A Successful Kid's Night at LCCC - 021218

Chess is a great game to play while on the physical mend.
The club had a quiet 020518 evening of casual chess with five attendees. But the club was rocking on Kid's Night with fourteen players! It was a nice evening for chess indoors at our beautiful playing room as it was a very cold winter evening.

The Club WILL BE OPEN next week on President's Day, so our 960 tournament will continue on that evening.

Stop by to join the tournament or play some regular casual chess. See you next Monday!

Here is a game played thru the mail (way before the internet). The opening is called the Ruy Lopez and has been analyzed to death for literally centuries.Since it was a postal game, the two players probably referenced books to carry the opening as far as they did without any major blunders.

But the opening and the positional play is still good to see for all players, which is why is is shown here.

1. e4              e5
2. Nf3           Nf3
3. Bb5           a6
4. Ba4           Nf6
5. O-O          Nxe4
6. Re1           Nf6
7. Bxc6         dxc6
8. Nxe5         Be6
Black's king safety has improved. Game is even.

9. Qe2              Bd6
10. d4               O-O
11. Bf4             Re8
12. Nc3            Nd5
13. Nxd5          Bxd5
14. c4               Be6
15. Rad1          Bd7
16. Qh5            Qe7
17. Rd3            f6
White keeps turning up the pressure and Black successfully counters every time.

18. c5               Bxe5
19. dxe5           g6
20. Qd1            Rad8
21. Kf1             Bf5
22. Rxd8          Rxd8
23. Qb3+          Rd5

Position after Black's move #23  .....Rd5

White forks the b7 pawn.

24. Qxb7           fxe5
25. Qxc6           Bd3+?
Finally a slip by Black as he missed 25. ......Qd8 with an even game. White up a pawn positionally.

26. Kg1             Rxc5
27. Qa8+           Kg7
28. Be3?            Rc2
White needed Bd2. Now Black threatens to win the b-pawn.

29. Qb7             Bb5?
White retakes the positional lead as 29. .....Qd6 kept the game even.

30. a4                Qb4
31. Rb1             Qxa4
32. h3?              Qc4
White did not want to worry about a back rank mate when he starts his attack, but this 'slow' move gives Black a slight positional advantage. White should have played 32. Qd5.

33. Qf3             Qa2
34. Rd1             Qxb2??
A blunder that loses the game as White makes no mistakes from now on. 34. ....Bc6 holds things close to equality.
White has to tread correctly as Black still has defensive moves available and some tricks. But.....since it was a postal game......White must have really taken his time.

35. Rd8+           Qb4
36. Qd5             Kf6
37. h4                Rxf2
38. Bxf2            Ba4
39. Qg8             Resigns

Friday, February 2, 2018

Casual Chess on a Snowy Cold Night 012918

Chess is a nice way to spend a quiet evening.
We had five players brave the cold tonight for a casual chess night.

Our 960 tournament resumes next week. And in two weeks is our monthly Kid's Night. So plenty of chess action available during this indoor chess season. Stop by and enjoy the world's best game in a friendly atmosphere.

Now for a little endgame information.

Students of history may be struck by the knight because he is nothing like his medieval inspiration. That knight ruled the battlefield for centuries even though he was the equivalent of a cost overrun. You could outfit and hire ten foot soldiers for what it cost for one knight. But he was worth it - until a defensive counter - weapon - the English long bow - put the knight out of business.

The chess knight has the least offensive power of any first rank piece. Even the King has more punch in most endgames.  On the other hand, the knight is the second-best defender - after the pawn.

Ironically, the knight is weakest when he is protecting his fellow knight. But there are exceptions to every chess rule.

Computers tell us that a lone Queen can mate against two knights in 29 moves from a corner.

Place the queen other places and White can mate in 30 + moves.

Note that making 50 moves each without a capture or pawn move is a draw - so White is cutting it close.

However, if you can arrange your knights in the fashion shown here, it is a book draw.

Even though the Queen is a (+5) advantage over the knights, mate in this situation is not possible.

Keep this in mind if you find yourself in an endgame approaching this type.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Start of the 2018 LCCC 960 Tournament 012218 - Casual Chess Next Week

Our "960" tournament has started. There is still time to enter as we did have one entry with no opponent. So be here Monday and take that last spot!

If you have never played 960 chess, you will find it exciting. The difference is - the pieces on the back ranks are randomly mixed up! So it takes any opening knowledge a player might have over you and throws it out the window.

Come give it a try.

Now for a chess lesson on the separate skills of the chess pieces:

One of the first things we learn about chess is that it is a game of war. A battlefield in miniature. And one of the hardest things to learn after that - is the nature of the weaponry.

As in war, chess weapons can be primarily offensive or defensive. But some are better at one than the other.

For example, the Queen is a great attacker, but a lousy defender. This is true because the Queen can be driven away simply by being threatened by ANY piece your opponent decides to or can use.

After 1. .....Qc7, Black's defense against the c-pawn queening is busted with 2. Qb7 and now the pawn gets there whether Black trades queens or not - because after 2. .....Qxb7, 3. cxb7 and the pawn queens next move.

Or 2. ...Qd7 or Qd8, then 3. c7 and the pawn can't be stopped.

But what if we use our Queen as the attacker she is made to be?

1. ........          Qf4
2. Qb7?         ........

White thinks the game is over and doesn't see Black's offensive threat of:

2. .......           Qc1+
3. Kh2           Qf4+
and Black has a perpetual check to to save a draw from a lost position.

If White tries:

3. g3              hxg+
4. fxg             Qf2+
and White cannot escape continuous checks.

At the end of the food chain is the pawn. It makes the best defender.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Casual Chess Night 011518 - Chess 960 Tourney Starts Next Week!

Here is LCCC member Paul Mills in tournament action.
Our FREE Chess 960 tournament starts next week Monday January 22. Be here for all the fun!

Casual chess was played after some games from the 2018 Michigan Class Championship were reviewed.

These reviews of your own tournament games with members of the Club are half the fun of having played in the tournament. And it is very educational for the entire club to review them.

In addition, you get to show off your wins and get some friendly advice about your losses.
We will see some of the games from this tournament posted here for your education or in the case of my games ...laughter.

The tournament results from Club members will also be given after the tournament results are officially revealed.

Here is a game from the 1946 US Championship. I think it was a later round game with no bearing on the final standings as both players played a little off beat. But that is why it has found it's way here.

1. Nf3              d5
2. c4                d4
3. e3                Nc6
4. b4?              .......
Hardly a sound move but it does provoke a mistake by Black. At this point Black is ahead, but not as much as one might think. His lead is a slim (-.3) of a pawn. Just a simple reversal of the universal edge White has with the first move.

4. .....               e5?
Edge thrown away. Now White is up (.8) of a pawn positionally.

5. b5!               e4
6. bxc6            exf3
7. Qxf3            bxc6?
Black down (1.5) as 7. ......Rb8 8. Na3, Ne7 would have kept the game as it was.

8. Qxc6+         Bd7
9. Qe4+           Be7
10. Qxd4!        Bf6
11. Qe4+         Ne7
12. Nc3           Bc6?
Black now down 2 full pawns. Castling was needed here.

13. Qc2           Qd7?
White is safe and two pawns ahead. He should play 14. d4 now - or in a few moves. But Black still is not moving his king to safety and getting his sleep rook on h8 into the game. Now Black is down (2.7).

14. d3?            O-O
A change in the flow of the game in just one move from each. White needed 14. Rb1. Now (1.6)

15. Rb1           Nf5
16. Ne2?!        h6
17. e4              Ba4
18. Qd2           Nh4
19. Qe3??       .........

White pieces have a cramped position. 19. d4 was required. A half pawn lead (-.5) for Black now!

19. .........        Rfe8
20. g3             Rxe4?
Black returns the lead to White (1.4) as 20. .....Bc2 21. Rb5, c6 is an even game at least.

21. Qxe4         Re8
22. Qd5??       Qxd5
White had better chances after 22. Qxe8, Qxe8 23. gxh4. Now Black has a mate in hand!

23. f3               Nxf3+
24. Kf2            Bd4+
25. Nxd4         Qxd4+
26. Be3            Qxe3+
And White resigns in the face of

27. Kg2           Nh4+
28. Kh3           Bd7+
29. Kxh4         Qg5 ++

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Lucky 13 Turn Out for Kid's Night 010818 and a Grandmaster's Advice to Players

The calm before the individual tournament battles.

We had thirteen players for the first Kid's Night of 2018, welcoming five new players - George M and his father along with Violet, Grant and Greg K. Great to see you here at LCCC!

Our next Kid's Night is set for February 12. 

Our next free Club Tournament will be an Action 960 tournament! If you have never played Chess 960 - also called Fischer Random Chess - here is your chance!

Also there is a BIG tournament in Lansing this coming weekend! It is the Michigan Class Championships where 8 state titles are on the line. Check out the article about the tournament posted a few posts down on December 16, 2017.

There are one day tournaments on both Saturday and Sunday for beginners and players that say 'I'm not that good'. The regular tournament is a 5 round - two day affair.

Even if you don't decide to play, stop on by and check out what a real chess tournament looks like.
Jeff Aldrich is the Tournament Director and he just does an outstanding job. You will be impressed with the entire event.

Now sound advice from a Grandmaster for players of all levels:

Four Time US Champion GM Yasser Seirawan gives some advice to chess players – both young and old:

If you are a GM/IM/Master or even Expert, you probably need to spend most of your time on opening theory.

If you are a Club Player (A thru C/D), you should work on your middle game play – pawn structure, position and tactical awareness.

If you are a Class D thru novice, you should concentrate on the endgame.

The Endgame is the most important. Learning endgames is like cheating on an exam. You know you will always be asked certain questions and you will have the answers ready.

Speaking of pawn structure, the Isolated Queen Pawn (IQP) is the most popular as many openings end up there. It is important to know the ins and outs of this pawn structure – from both sides.

And Endgame study – Rook and Pawns is the most common. Study those.

Finally, do not lose sleep over a loss. Instead be critical of your own play and see where you need to improve.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

American GM Walter Browne Interview - LCCC Returns Jan 8 with Kid's Night

GM Walter Browne - USA in 1972
We start our friendly chess club action on January 8, 2018 at 6pm. Stop on by with all the chess equipment Santa brought you and put it to use.

With all the technology out there for chess today, being able to play over games and puzzles is easy to do. You don't need a blog to do that. So this year your humble scribe is going to be doing more writing (and 'borrowing' articles) and less game and puzzle review.

Of course some great wins and interesting games from our members will still be presented. And true gems that I spot will also be reviewed. But a more article based blog will be done this year.

With that in mind, I wanted to present an interview done with GM Walter Browne in 2014. We lost this great chess player in June of 2015 at the age of 66. Much too young!

Your humble scribe does have some connection with GM Browne. First off I played him in a simultaneous exhibition at the height of his career in 1975. This must explain why I lost!

After all, GM Browne only had played in three interzonals to qualify for the World Championship, had 5 Olympic Chess Bronze medals, two time US Open Champion, three time World Open Champion, seven time American Open Champion and eleven time National Open Champion.

In addition, GM  Browne was also a serious poker player - which I also try to be. He finished second in a World Series of Poker event against 2000 entrants in 2007. And I finished second once in an online poker tournament of 9 players for play chips. So we draw there......right?

After reading GM Browne's autobiography The Stress of Chess and it's Infinite Finesse, Macauley Peterson interviewed the author for Chess Life. I present some highlights now:

WB: I learned chess from my father at the age of 8 years old (1957).  My first tournament was in September of 1962 at the Manhattan Chess Club. I did not do so well in school because I was studying chess around the clock. I would consume whole books in a matter of days. But as I got older I found poker and learned I could make money doing that. And even though I still worked hard at chess, poker did take time away from it. Bobby (Fischer) was chess, chess, chess all the time. But I still spent hours at the Manhattan Chess Club and the seedy Flea House. There were always people at both places playing chess at all hours. Some guys would play for 3 or 4 days straight.

MP: Can you describe your style?

WB: I think I have different styles. I play positional chess. I love chasing tactics, but I won't make unsound sacrifices just for the attack.

MP: You played Bobby Fischer in Zagreb in 1970, and you wrote you lost because you were "too much of an artist." What did you mean by that?

WB: The key move was around number 88 or 90. I saw the winning move and didn't play it. I wanted to win more beautifully and it cost me the game. He found a miracle defense and we drew.

MP: Did you and Fischer socialize?

WB: Yeah, we went out to dinner a few times. I wish I would have been more in touch with him, but he was really a recluse. I wish I would have offered to be his second in Reykjavik. And when he was negotiating with Karpov in 1975, I should have offered to help him then, Maybe I could have persuaded him to bend a little and play. I think Fischer would have blown Karpov away!

MP: How did you get on with Karpov?

WB: Quite well. I played a lot of tournaments with him. I wish I would have taken more risks to beat him. I never did. He used to play so fast too. (Walter seemed to always get in time trouble). I remember watching Karpov play [Svetozar] Gligoric one time and he reeled off the first 25 moves in a minute!

MP: [Victor] Korchnoi comes up many times in your book. He seems to be sort of an idol. I was curious about your relationship with him - sometimes friendly, sometimes not. You wrote that when you beat him in the last round at Wijk ann Zee in 1989 he didn't shake your hand.

WB: Well, he didn't like to lose. He was a very competitive guy. Even at bridge! He was a serious guy, but easy to talk to. He would share his thoughts about a game and was not standoffish. He was willing to share his thoughts with you more than the other Soviet players - like Petrosian and even Karpov.

MP: And your career over all?

WB: I was not a professional chess player after 1984. I focused on poker. But in 1988 I came back to chess and worked hard. I got my FIDE rating back up to 2560 so I was almost as good, but I didn't play internationally. Then the there was tremendous competition from European players coming over to play in our Swisses (tournaments) and it became very tough. But I still managed some moderate successes.

Scribe: GM Browne stopped playing competitive chess by 1998.