Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Remembering the Great – Jose Raul Capablanca

The achievements of Cuban legend Jose Raul Capablanca are honored in the World Chess Hall of Fame in Miami, Florida. He is known as the “Babe Ruth” of Cuba in Cuba.

In 2001, Capablanca, Bobby Fischer, Paul Morphy, Emanuel Lasker and William Steinitz became the charter members of the World Chess Hall of Fame. Capablanca was the World Chess Champion from 1921 to 1927. Due to his achievements in the chess world, mastery over the board and his relatively simple style of play he was nicknamed the "Human Chess Machine.”

Capablanca lost to Alexander Alekine in Buenos Aires in 1927 [ 3 – 6 = 25] Statistical ranking systems place Capablanca 5th highest among the greatest players of all time. In Divinsky and Keene’s book, “Warriors of the Mind” ranks him behind Garry Kasparov, Anatoly Karpov, Bobby Fischer and Mikhail Botvinnik, and just ahead of Emanuel Lasker.

A lifetime Cuban citizen, Capablanca never lived in Florida, preferring New York and Paris, but many of his relatives do. They moved to Miami in the years following the Fidel Castro Cuban Revolution in 1959.

In Cuba, Capablanca is still honored as a national hero. His gravesite is a must see stopping point for tourists. “Everybody knows Capablanca in Latin America,” said Fernando Capablanca, “Everybody.”

Born in 1888, Jose Raul Capablanca is regarded as one of Cuba’s greatest sporting figures ever and one of the greatest chess players of all time.

According to legend, he was first noticed as a chess genius at the age of 4 when he correctly analyzed a match between his father and a commander in the Spanish Army. By the time he was 12, he was the Cuban Chess Champion.

Capablanca captured the imagination of the world as much with his social grace and presence as with his skill on the chessboard. He served as an ambassador-at-large for Cuba and became a bit of a globe-trotter.

Pictures show Capablanca to always be a well-dressed man, impeccably groomed at nearly six feet tall with brown hair. He enjoyed the “good life” and the ladies swooned over him reports say. Capablanca also had a flair for the dramatic. During his match against Lasker, he often got up between moves and danced.

Capablanca’s chess style was very influential in the games of two world champions: Fischer and Anatoly Karpov. Botvinnik also wrote how much he learned from Capablanca, and pointed out that Alekhine had received much schooling from him in positional play, before their fight for the world title made them bitter enemies.

As a chess writer, Capablanca did not present large amounts of detailed analysis, instead focusing on the critical moments in a game. His writing style was plain and easy to understand. Botvinnik regarded Capablanca's book Chess Fundamentals as the best chess book ever written.

There are two copies available; an untouched version and an updated one by Nick de Firmian.

Capablanca died in March, 1942 while watching a game at the Manhattan Chess Club.

Hat tip to Chess Life, Robert Silk and Wikipedia.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Patience! Don’t Commit to the First Good One You See

The same goes for chess moves.

There is an old chess adage, ‘If you see a good move, don’t play it. Look around. There may be a better one!”

Black to move and win.

It is the 2000 U.S. Championship and we have the Gregory Serper – Alex Shabalov match up.

I think most of our readers see that if Black plays …..Nc2, he improves to being two pawn down if White plays the expected Qd2, then .....Nxe1, and White plays Qxe1.

But I think Mr. Shabalov was not interested in an end game being two pawns down with no center control and a nearly trapped rook when he conceived of this position.

I’m just sayin’.

If you get stuck or want verification, email Mike at lcchess @ yahoo dot com for the solution.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Remember Our New Location This Monday!

Hi Everyone,

Just a reminder that tomorrow we will be meeting at the Hartland Senior Center from 6 - 10 pm.

9525 Highland Road
Howell, Michigan 48843

Just west of US 23 - approximately 1 mile, on the north side of M-59. Enter on the east entrance, then continue on the drive to the west side of the building.

The door is west side, enter and look for our group. Please feel free to bring beverages and snacks. A donation of $ 1.00 would be greatly appreciated for the center.

See you there Monday night !!!


Friday, December 9, 2011

Mike Nikitin’s Game Versus GM Walter Browne

It was a simultaneous lecture and exhibition put on at a hotel near the Detroit Metro Airport on November 1, 1975. Forty players at once. GM Browne scores 34 – 4 – 2 record this day. Here is my game.

Petrov Defense
GM W. Browne vs M. Nikitin (1311)
1. e4…..e5
2. Nf3…..d6
3. d4…..ed
4. Nxd4…..Nf6
5. Nc3…..c5
6. Bb5+…..Bd7
7. Bxd7…..Nbxd7
Excellent! For some reason I think trading pieces will help me last longer. He is falling right into my trap! Why doesn’t he look worried?
8. Nf5…..Ne5
9. Bg5…..g6
10. Nd5…..Ned7
11. Nfe3…..Be7
12. Nxe7…..Qxe7
13. f3…..h6
14. Bf4…..Ne5
15. Qd2…..O-O-O ?!

My thought process was that I don’t want to castle in front of my advanced king-side pawns. So instead I castle in front of a backward center pawn?? It’s like avoiding a puddle by jumping into a raging river.

At least I made it to the middle game. A couple more moves and it won’t even count as a “miniature” loss.
16. O-O-O…..Rd7
17. Nd5…..Nxd5
18. Qxd5…..f6
19. Rhe1…..g5
20. Bg3…..Rhd8
21. Re2…..Qf7
22. Red2…..Qxd5
23. Rxd5…..Kc7
He sure seems to be getting around to me a lot quicker. Somebody trip him!
24. b3…..b5
25. Kd2…..Kc6
26. Ke3…..Ng6
27. R5d2…..d5!
Weakness fixed and now I make it to an endgame! Just what I wanted. Now to out-play a grandmaster in an endgame at what soon will become a speed chess game as the number of other players is shrinking rapidly. How hard could that be to do?
28. c3…..h5
29. h3…..h4
30. Bh2…
31. Rxd7…..Rxd7
32. Rxd7…..Kxd7
33. Kxe4…..Ke6
34. f4.....
I need some pawns on white squares against his dark squared bishop if I have any hopes of GM Browne “begging” me for a draw.
34. ......f5+
35. Ke3…..g4
36. hg…..fg
37. Ke4…..Ne7
38. Bg1…..

Uh..oh. There are only five or six boards alive by this time and I need more time than I am getting to keep from blundering the game away. Hey, wait a minute! Was that HIS plan?

38......Nd4 39. Bxc5...Nxc3 40. Kd3...Nxa2 41. Kc2...a4! 42. Bb6...Nb5 and I hold the draw possibilities, or more because what I played is actually a bigger threat as move 43 than as move 38.

But instead I blunder, then there is more blundering and a mop up. In my defense, it was speed chess at this point.

38. .....h6?? Hoping a grandmaster takes the c-pawn so I can queen? Really???
39. gh…
40. Kf3…..Ng6
41. Kg4…..Kf6
42. Bh2…..c4
43. bc…..bc
44. Bg3…..a5
45. a4…..Nf8
46. Bh4+…..Ke6
47. Kxh3…..Kf5
48. Kg3…..Ne6
49. Kf3…..Nc5
50. Bd8…..Nxa4
51. Bxa5…..Nb2?
Where are you going?
52. Bc7…..Nd1???
Oh, to your death. Nice job wood pusher.
53. Be5…..Resigns

I was the 34th loser and the second to last game to end.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Little Anti-Dutch Defense Trickery

Material is even. Black sees he has a 3 to 2 majority on a critical center square, with a tasty pawn sitting there.

So he plays the obvious 13. .... Bxd4??

What exactly is it that derails Black's lunch on what looked to all the world like a free pawn?

Email me at if you get stumped.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

To Livingston County Chess Club Members, Friends and Future Members:

As many of you already know, we have been searching for a larger venue for our club. We have contacted Alice Andrews, the director at the Hartland senior center,

9525 E Highland Rd, Howell, MI 48843,

and she has agreed to allow us to use their facility on Monday, Dec, 12, and 19 from
6 - 10 pm.

We are being asked to donate $1.00 / person, and we can bring our own snacks and non alcoholic beverages. This will give us an opportunity to see and use the venue for 2 weeks to determine if this is the move we want to make.

This will also be a good time to visit there as Barnes and Noble are in the middle of the holiday season, and as we found out last week, tables were not too easy to find. Please send a confirmation if this will work for you. If you have any questions, please contact me by email, the club by email (see title block for email addresses) or comment here on the blog.

We will still be meeting at Barnes and Noble (and Buffalo Wild Wings in reserve) this Monday, Dec. 5 from 6 - 10 pm.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Bobby Fischer’s First Great International Success is Where the Hate Started

It was a 2nd place finish in a tournament in Bled, Yugoslavia in 1961.

Mikhail Tal won it with a 14.5 in a twenty player field. Fischer finished 2nd alone with 13.5, even with the victory over Tal. Gligoric, Keres and Petrosian shared 3rd a full point behind Fischer. Bobby was the only player in the field to emerge without a loss!

Grandmaster Larry Evans said at the time, “Fischer has shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is a contender for the world title. He has single-handedly broken the Russian iron grip on chess supremacy.”

Bobby Fischer hated the Russians when he was eighteen, not the United States. That came later.

Bobby had boasted before the tournament that he would, “beat all four of the Russians in the field (Geller, Tal, Petrosian, and Keres).”

Paul Keres teased, “That is impossible. You beat a Ukrainian, a Latvian and an Armenian. That only leaves me, an Estonian.” Fischer only managed a draw against Keres, who obviously was trying to lighten the mood.

Paul Keres is another in a long list of tragic stories in the world of great chess players. Maybe being a "wood pusher" is not the worst thing in the world to be.

Fischer responded to reporters upon hearing Keres quipped statement, “I don’t care what state you come from, you are all Russians to me.”

Bobby Fischer later turned his rage against the United States for denying him the opportunity to play a re-match against Boris Spassky in 1992.

He defied the United States government, played the match - and never returned to his native country ever again.

Talk about a “lose-lose” negotiation. More like an “everyone loses” negotiation.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Ken's Corner - We are on for Monday at Barnes and Noble

Hi Everyone,

I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving, and a long restful weekend. We will be meeting at Barnes and Noble this Monday, Nov 28 from 6 - 10 pm.

We have a lot of things happening, a new club blog and a building that is large enough to hold our club with room for tournaments in the future.

Thanks to Mike Nikitin for setting up the blog. Also thanks to Terry G. and Mike K. for researching the Hartland senior center.

Barnes and Noble have been very good hosts to us and we appreciate their hospitality. We are growing each month, and I think by next year we will have to make a move to a larger facility. But we need everyone's input on this.

If you look at the map, Hartland is centrally located for people from Brighton, Howell, Milford, Highland, Fenton, and even Flint. Dr. Ed Mandell, from All the King's Men Chess Store and Club in Warren, comes to Howell every Monday. So if we get the word out to other clubs, we could start having our own chess tournaments.

Let us know your thoughts, some have said they would share rides in a car pool.

See you Monday,

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Brilliance of Samuel Reshevsky

This position is why chess is a fascinating game.

Sammy has White against Armaldo Vasconcellos in a US Open game in 1944.

Three of Sammy’s remaining four pieces are “en prise” (under attack). Unimportant, as Sammy has a forced win in seven moves!

Find it.

The solution is on page 51 of the November 2011 Chess Life or contact Mike on email at lcchess at

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Barnes and Noble - A Nice Place to Play


LCCC is fortunate to have a friend in the Barnes and Noble Bookstore business. They are gracious enough to host our chess club.

As LCCC grows however, our need for space continues to be an issue.

Currently, when the B&N tables fill, we spill over into another fine community supporter, Buffalo Wild Wings.

Both Barnes and Noble Bookstore and the Buffalo Wild Wings Restaurant are in the Green Oak Village Place in Brighton, MI.

The Club Manager of the LCCC, Ken Lamb, continues to pursue a bigger home. But for now,

Barnes and Noble is our home. Thanks so much!