Sunday, September 19, 2021

LCCC Next Meeting Sept 27th, Club Championship Underway - Alexander Alekhine Played in the USA?

Alexander Alekhine

Ten players were in attendance for last Monday's Club meeting and start of our Club Championship.

But we do have at least twelve in the tournament right now. Two players will play between now and the next club meeting and turn in their results as neither could make the last club date. We are a laid back group and our tournaments are for playing and not forfeiting people at all costs!

Mater of fact, you can still enter the tournament, getting a half point bye for the first round! So, if you missed last week, you can still be in the fun by joining the tournament on our next meeting, Monday Sept. 27, 4pm until 10pm. The tournament will start officially at 6:30 pm, but usually the games start when the two players paired decide to start. We are that laid back!

So come on by to play or just to watch real 'tournament' chess. Well, sort of real. There are chess sets and clocks and sometimes the players keep their record of their games. 

Hope to see you there! Now for an article. This tournament had ten players in attendance also. But are they as good as the ten assembled at the Brighton Buffalo Wild Wings? You be the judge.

I didn't know that! Did you know Alexander Alekhine's first tournament after winning the World Championship from Jose Capablanca was in Bradley Beach, New Jersey in 1927?

Alekhine was of course the favorite in the tournament which was a field of some USA masters. Frank Marshall, Herman Steiner, Abraham Kupchick,  Alexander Kevitz, Isador Turover, Maurice Fox (Canada), Rafael Cintron (Puerto Rico), Lajos Steiner (Hungary), and H. Ransom Bigelow. 

Interesting side note that Alekhine, Kupchik and Turover were all born in the same year of 1892.

Indeed, Alekhine gave up but one draw winning 8.5/9. Steiner was second with 7. Kupchik and Turover with 5.5. Alekhine also won the speed tournament that followed the regular tournament.

The games from that tournament were characterized by long endings, with many adjournments, attesting to the fighting spirit of the participants. Only 20% of the games were drawn. Hypermodern openings were beginning to take hold and double fianchetto systems were favored by Alekhine and Kevitz. 

Now some history of the players. Most chess players have interesting histories:

Alexander Alekhine - Russian by birth, he was actually a French citizen when he played at Bradley Beach. After defeating Capablanca in Buenos Aires, he toured the the USA and Europe giving simultaneous exhibitions.

Abraham Kupchik - Born in Russia, but arrived in New York at age 11. He tied for first with Frank Marshall at Lake Hopatcong in 1923. He won the New York State Championship and the Manhattan Chess Club Championship many times. It was said that at this time he had no peer at speed chess, although he did finish second by a 1/2 point to Alekhine at Bradley Beach. Read into that what you will. 

Isaac Turover - Born in Poland, he became a professional chess player while also building a very successful lumber business. He was Washington DC Champion for eight years. He was a well known philanthropist and he donated much of the money for brilliancy prizes in tournaments he played in. He often fell victim to the prize winner. 

Lajos Steiner - a young Hungarian from Budapest, working as a mechanical engineer. He later became a chess professional, winning the Hungarian Championship and the Australian Championship. He also finished tied for second with Nimzovitch just behind Alekhine in Kecskemet in 1927.

Maurice Fox - Born in the Ukraine and arrived in Canada in 1923. He was the reigning Canadian Champion when he arrived in Bradley Beach, and had won that title eight times. Fox had defeated Capablanca in a simul game and drew Alekhine in a blindfold game in 1924.

Frank Marshall - At the time of this tournament, he had been the US Champion for 20 years, but was now on the decline. Still, he finished 3rd in London in 1927 behind Nimzovitch and Tartakower in London and did represent the USA in five Chess Olympiads in the 1930's.

Alexander Kevitz - The new champion of the Manhattan Chess Club. His style was hypermodern and had a fondness for unusual openings with the Black pieces. His style gave mixed results and soon quit chess for ten years, before returning later in life.

Herman Steiner - born in Hungary, he came to the USA at age 16. He became New York State Champion. He later moved to Hollywood and became famous as the chess teacher to the stars. Humphrey Bogart and Billy Wilder were among his pupils. He played on four US Olympiad teams and won the US Championship in 1948. He also wrote a chess column for the LA Times from 1932 until his death in 1955.

Rafael Cintron - Puerto Rico Champion, and he showed some talent, but was in over his head in this tournament.

H. Ransom Bigelow - Chess Editor of the New York Post and past champion of the Manhattan Chess Club but he was clearly out of form in this tournament.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Club Championship to Start Sept. 13 – and Michigan Open Labor Day Weekend

LCCC is doing well! Sorry for the delay in posting. Summer activities, weddings, new child arrivals and family activities you know.

Our chess club is going strong! We had 14 players two meetings ago, 12 players two meetings ago and 14 again this last meeting on Monday August 23. A nice and friendly group of players to hang around with.

Our next meeting is Monday September 13, 2021, starting at 4pm until 8:30pm at Buffalo Wild Wings in Brighton. Please feel free to attend. It’s free! Well except BWW would like you to order something.

We might go longer than 8:30 if possible. But remember, this is a restaurant that must turn tables to make a profit. We are there only by their generosity and our patronage. And we were a nice source of business during the summer. It was a win-win for all of us.

But now, Monday Night Football will be on the TV’s there and it is a sports bar. We may have to vacate when the football crowd wants to move in. We will have to play it by ear and see how busy it gets. Hopefully the NFL has over saturated, and then insulted enough fans where it will not matter and they will not fill up. We will see.

Meanwhile, that night will be the start of our annual Club Championship. There is no cost to enter! Depending on the number of entries, it will be a 3, 4 or 5 round tournament. You only play one round every club meeting until the tournament is over. The time limit is (yes clocks will be used if possible) 45 minutes/ 5 second delay - for both players. We are shooting for as close to a 6pm start as possible. But as always, we are flexible and last minute entries and late entries are no problem.

This leaves time and room for the usual casual games and conversation. We are not real hard and fast on the playing times either. If you cannot make a regular meeting, and if your opponent agrees, you two can make up the game either in person or on line.

All except the first night’s pairings will be posted here. So if you have an issue for any round after the first one, you can contact the club email, me personally, or your opponent. We will supply their contact information.

Just finish before the next meeting and let the TD know the result. Then, there is no forfeit. And as far as I know, no LCCC player has ever not tried to accommodate the player that had to miss the regular round.

In other less important events (lol):

Michigan Open – Labor Day, Lansing Michigan, at the Raddison Hotel

Your humble scribe was looking forward to returning to tournament chess in this year’s Michigan Open over Labor Day weekend. Those hopes were dashed as there was a near last minute mandate issued by someone. It demanded that everyone wear masks during the tournament.

Some people do not want to attempt to play chess while forced to breath their own exhaust for 5 hours every round, so I withdrew. Some of our LCCC members are going to play anyway, and I wish them all the best.

If you do not mind wearing a mask, please consider entering this tournament. Or the Booster (beginners) tournament that runs on Saturday only.

Or simply stop up and watch the action.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

LCCC is Meeting Monday. Club Championship Soon! And Some Curious Facts!


Our club meetings at the Buffalo Wild Wings in Brighton continue to be a success! We are averaging 14 members a night, so you will be sure to get a game against a choice of many opponents.

Our next meeting is this coming Monday, August 9, 2021 at 4pm until 10pm. Hope to see you all there. 

As an added bonus, the Club has spared no expense and is making arrangements to fly in a State Champion from Colorado to appear at our chess club this Monday! We are hoping he will accept our offer.

 This offer comes from the MSTV Trust Fund (formed from club officers, President excluded), and it was most generous! This trust fund was put in place by the law firm of Dewey, Cheetam and Howe.

The 2021 LCCC Club Championship will begin on Monday September 13, 2021. The time limit for the game will be 45 minutes with a 5 second delay. Touch move rule in effect.

How the tournament works is we will play one round of the tournament per meeting. Since we meet every other week, one round will be played every two weeks. 

We are a friendly group and this is a friendly tournament with no entry fee, so if you have to miss your scheduled round, you do have almost two weeks to make up the game - as long as your opponent agrees and you can both find an agreeable make up date and time.

This usually works out as we have never had a member say no to a make up game.....yet.

This format also allows time after the tournament round for you to review the game with your opponent and/or other club members or play some 'casual' chess after your round - or both!

Please be sure to enter! It's free, fun and is a great opportunity to play some serious (semi-serious) chess. Besides if the last person to win the LCCC Club Championship is any indication, anyone can win it. So don't be shy. 

Now for some strange chess facts:

  • A Russian chess grandmaster Alexander Ilyin-Genevski, who actually defeated and drew World Champion Jose Capablanca in their only two games, had to learn how to play chess twice. The reason? A bullet to the head suffered during the Russian civil war as Stalin rose to power. 
  • In a tournament in 1912, Nimzovitch and Rubinstein played a game to settle first place in the last round. During that game, Nimzovitch made a move that allowed Rubinstein an easy mate in two. Rubinstein missed it but went on to win the game anyway.
  • In 1911 Spielmann and Alapin played a match in Munich of 10 games. It was played with the strange option that each player could have a second chess board on the side in which to study. You could not move the pieces, but you could look at the position without having your opponent directly across from you. Alapin used the option. Spielmann did not. Spielmann won the match 6.5 to 3.5.
  • That same year Schlechter and Tarrasch played a match in Cologne, which chess experts have said was one of the finest matches ever played as far as the quality of the games. This is amazing from the standpoint that the temperatures during the entire match were in the high 90's and air conditioning was not yet invented for another 20 years.
  •  A chess handbook written by IM Dufresne and GM Mieses in the mid 1800's had the following line of play:
        1. d4           d5

        2. c4            e6

        3. Nc3         c5

        4. Nf3          cxd

        5. Nxd4        e5

        6. Nb5          d4

        7. Nd5          Na6

        8. Qa4          Bd7

        9. e3              Ne7

"and Black has a superior position." 

I guess computers and even proof readers were non existent in the 1850's.

10. Nd6 mate was missed by both masters! And if they meant to say "White has a superior position", it would be an extreme understatement. Thank you Captain Obvious!'

Friday, July 16, 2021

Sorry Sorry for the Delay in Posting - LCCC Alive and Well - Next OTB Meeting July 26, 2021

 Summer is a tough time to be in the house blogging. Your humble scribe will strive to work harder ...and golf less.

Anyway, LCCC is doing well - both over the board and on line on Chess. com.

Our every other Monday meetings at the Buffalo Wild Wings in Brighton, MI from 4pm until 10pm continue to draw crowds. Both new and old members seem to show up every week.

We had 16 players on June 21 - including 5 new members. We had 15 players on July 12 with another 5 new players! Welcome everyone! See you all again on Monday July 26 at 4pm until 10pm.

And if you would like to play for the Club in Daily (3 or more days to make a move usually) Matches on Chess dot com, feel free to join both the site and the Club for free. The only requirement is that you sign up for some of the matches as the challenges are accepted and don't forfeit! 

Now some endgame analysis for beginners:

So you won the race to queen first, but your opponent is about to queen his pawn to tie the game. How do you stop him?

Well it requires careful handling. But the Queen, if handled correctly, will do the work for you.

1.  Qd1+          Kf2

2. Qd2+           Kf1

3. Qf4+            Ke2

4. Qg3              Kf1

5. Qf3+             Kg1

Mission accomplished. The black king blocks his own pawn so now you are free to move up your Monarch for the surrender or mate.

6. Ke7               Kh2

7. Qh5+             Kg1

8. Qe2                Kh2

9. Qf2                 Kh1

10. Qh4+            Kg1

Again, the white king can move and will soon be close enough to force checkmate!

11. Ke6               Kf1

12. Qf4+             Ke1

13. Qe3+             Kf1

14. Qf3+             Kg1

15.  Ke5              Kh2

16. Qf4+             Kh1

17. Qh4+            Kg1

18.  Ke4              Kf1

19. Qh3               Kf2

20. Qh2               Kf1

21. Kf3                Black resigns

Faced with either:

A) 21. .....g1=Q, 22. Qe2 mate

B) 21. .....g1=N+  22. Kf4, Nh3  23. Ke3, Nf4  24. Qf2 mate

C) 21. .....Ke1   22. Qxg2, Kd1   23. Qb2, Ke1  24. Qe2 mate

Sunday, June 13, 2021

LCCC Still Meeting at BWW in Brighton - and Stockfish is the Best Chess Player in the World


Who's on f6?

Older chess players will catch the joke.

LCCC met again at the Buffalo Wild Wings in Brighton, MI, with 12 players in attendance. Your humble scribe could not attend battling a head cold (and no, not Covid). But the Club Secretary Paul filled in as host and made sure everyone had a good time.

We had some new faces join us – Jim and Matt, as well as two old faces (that means players that used to attend the club. But in this case they are old faces also) – Dave and James. Welcome all four of you.

LCCC will be meeting next on Monday June 21 at 4pm at the same Buffalo Wild Wings in Brighton, MI in the Green Oak Mall just off of US-23 at the Lee Road Exit. See you then.

Practice must start as over the board chess tournaments seem to be starting back up! An email announcement let me know that the Michigan Open Chess Tournament will be held again!

The Michigan Open will be held at the Radisson Hotel Lansing from Friday September 3 thru Monday September 6. There will be a 3-day and a 4-day schedule, and two sections – the Open and the Reserve.

This is great news and visit the Michigan Chess Association website or the United States Chess Federation website for details on how to enter.

Now for a partial reprint of information from an article that appeared the US Chess magazine in March 2021 by John Hartmann, along with some commentary.

STOCKFISH retains the title of the best chess computer program.

The tournament is called the Top Chess Engine Championship or TCEC. Stockfish won the 20th version of the tournament and has won it for the third straight year.

Stockfish beat Leela 53 – 47 over a 100 game match, winning 14 games and losing 8, the rest ending in draws, so a 14 – 8 – 78 record.

Leela upended Stockfish four years ago when it arrived on the computer chess world with it’s new ‘neutral network-based intelligence’ and beating the traditional ‘alpha-beta driven’ chess engines.

Now for drumroll………………Stockfish top addition has a rating of 3601!

Wood pusher Leela comes in at a pathetic 3586.

Magnus Carlsen, the current best human player on the planet has a rating of 2847 at this writing.

To give you a perspective as to how great this spread is, players not within 100 points of Carlsen have literally no chance of being him, and maybe only a 25% of even drawing.

I know back here where us mere mortals play chess, a 100-point difference is rating usually translates into about a 55-35 and 10 draws difference in results over 100 games. At that top level, a 100 point difference would probably look like this 50 – 5 and  45 draws.

This leads to the logical question – will programs ever solve chess and ruin the game for humans?

This humble scribe says no. Not any more than the automobile or airplane eliminated running competitions for humans. We will always know that our brains will never catch up to the calculating speed, strength, stamina and complete lack of emotion during the process as computers, but …..after all…..we still created those programs and machines.

Humans still win.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

How to Lose at Chess - and 051021 LCCC Meeting Had Twelve!


Twelve strong for our meeting at the Buffalo Wild Wings in Brighton, MI on Monday May 10, 2021. 

Hope to see you there for the next meeting, Monday, May 24, 2021 at 4pm.

Now for the article:

I stared at the chessboard in front of me. It's hopeless now. Even against this opponent who allegedly is rated 400 points lower than myself. But, this is after all, the US Open. Not too many players entered this tournament after 'padding' their rating on the high side. 

Doesn't matter who is beating you anyway. It hurts when you know it's time to resign. It always hurts, at least a little bit.

Even though my five previous losses in the last seven had numbed me a little from the usual pain of tournament chess losses, this one was going to really send me into a chess depression. This loss was going to be even more devastating to my rating as it was going to be to my ego. My chess ego was already approaching zero, and dropping rapidly.

I turned over my king and shook my very young opponent's hand and told him "Nice game. You played well." Six losses and only two wins, with one round to go. And that round was one I no longer had any desire to play in. As I stumbled to my room, I wondered how it all went so wrong. After all, I tied for first in a pre-tournament US Open Quad - two wins and the dreaded 'GM draw' in the last round to clinch the tie for first. 

But now, in the main tournament, I had two wins against very weak opponents and six losses, with four of those losses against opponents I could expect to beat or should beat. I had no confidence I could beat the next 'lower rated' player I would probably be paired with. It was going to be a very long 500 mile drive home as it was. A loss in the last round might have me looking for taking a short cut into Lake Michigan from Wisconsin instead of driving around it!

US Open rounds are played in the evening. But falling asleep after this loss was out of the question. So after watching TV until I could not keep my eyes open, and getting up only in time for a late lunch, it was time to prepare for the last round.

That is when the gremlins of negativity, laziness and self pity started talking to me in my head. "Prepare? What for? You will probably have a real easy opponent that you will finish off quickly. And even if you draw or even lose, so what? You are out of any prizes anyway. Better to finish the game early and enjoy the last night of your chess vacation."

As I heard the gremlins, it occurred to me that I had heard some of this 'out of the prizes' chatter the last round. Then I thought back and noticed that my last two losses may have had a lot of moves, but I was done awfully early. 

I pulled out my scoresheets and played over every one of my games from this tournament. Even the Quad games. I quickly noticed two things in my last four games. One - I was 'forcing' play when the positions did not warrant it. Two - I was using less and less of my clock as the tournament went on.

In other words, I stopped working. I did not knowingly think I had, but I had started playing chess - in the US Open - almost like a casual rapid or blitz game! I completely deserved the thrashing I was receiving. I got lazy!

I looked as some of the moves I made in the previous games and wondered who had poisoned my ice water. Did I forget there are more than 16 squares on the board, and looking over the entire board might be of benefit? Or that when your opponent moves one of his pieces, you may want to consider why he did that? How about castling BEFORE blowing open the center of the board for no apparent reason?

The 'gremlins' had it right. I HAD gone on vacation - during a chess tournament!

The lesson here is that when you lose, learn something from it! Don't start a pity party where the only attendee will be you. Turn losses into a learning tool. Learn from your mistakes. So don't be sad.

And of course winning is not learning. You just did not make as many mistakes as your opponent did. So don't be happy. 

Why was it again, that we love to play chess?

PS: I won the last round. Not so much because of my 'prep'. But because my opponent was on vacation even more than I was.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Endgames are Tricky! - And LCCC Meetings 041221 and 042621 Were Fun!

 Sorry for the delay in posting. Lots going on in life that gets in the way of chess blogging.

Anyway, we had nine members at the Monday April 26 meeting and we grew to our highest total since the re-start to 12 members! Welcome all!

Our next meeting is Monday May 10th at 4pm until at least 9pm. So feel free to stop by. 

We continue - as a club - to move up the Chess .com standings in the club rankings. We are nearing 500 wins as a club! Most clubs never get near that number. 

If you like playing chess in a way that is basically - postal chess on Chess .com, then come join the Livingston County Chess Club on Chess .com and then sign up for the Team Matches as they become available. We don't care if you win or lose - just don't forfiet on time.

Also, if you are on the LCCC on Chess .com and are not playing in any Daily tournaments for us, don't be surprised if you are booted out of the club on that site. We cannot have players listed on our club that do not play in our Daily matches occasionally. The main reason is that it makes our club look bigger than we are, but also your rating may inflate our Team rating. Both factors may stop some teams from challenging us or accepting our challenges. You don't have to play in them all or even half of them. But some participation is required to stay on the on-line club on Chess .com.

 Why no one would play at least a few games this way is a mystery to me. To have a few games going that you have 3 days to make a move seems fun and relaxing to me. And the fact you can play or analyze from your phone, takes away just about any excuse I can think of.

Now for the endgame magic!

White to move and win. The material is even but White has a huge positional lead says Igor3000. But how?

Very  tricky endgame here. White must somehow stop the more advanced a-pawn of Black's and at the same time try to promote his only chance to win - his own g-pawn.

First things first!

1. Bb1      

Needed to stop the a-pawn. No other move wins. 

1. Bc2+ makes the position even.

1. g6? will let Black queen his pawn first and is losing for White! 

1. ......          f4

"Passed pawns must be pushed." Understandable for Black. The f-pawn is the only pawn White cannot stop without wasting another move. But now what does White do?

2.  Kc5!        .......

Threatening mate in one move with Bc2, so Black must delay his pawn advance by another move.

2. ......           Kb3

3. g6             Kb2

Black must remove the bishop in order to queen his pawn. But this takes too much time.

4. g7             Kxb1

5. g8 =Q       a2

White's queen must first stop the a-pawn and at the same time either sweep up all the Black pawns or set a mate trap by allowing a queened pawn.

6. Qg1=        Kb2

7.  Qd4+        Kb1

8. Qd3+         Kb2

9. Qb5+         Kc2  (or even if Ka1, White's next move is the same)

10. Qxa5        Kb2

11. Qd2+       Kb1

12. Kb4         d4   (12. ....a8=Q is a mating net with 13. Kb3 and mate soon to follow.)

13. Qd1+      Kb2

14. Qb3+      Kc1  (14. ...Ka1 allows 15. Kc4, 16. Kxd4, 17. Kc3 and 18. Qb2++)

15. Qxa2       Kd1

16. Qf2          Kc1

17.  Kc4        f3    (Black is trapped on the back rank and his pawns won't make it to the finish line.)

18. Kxd4       Kb2

19. Kc3          Ka1

20. Qb2++