Thursday, December 20, 2012

Final LCCC Night of 2012 was a Success!

We keep setting records, and I can’t keep using those words in the title of the story or they will all look the same. Next year, I will have a week numbering system. The growth of the club is the reason for that, so that is a good thing!

With the return of Paul B and his son Matthew to LCCC, that takes our active member count up to a record 46! I think a goal of doubling that is certainly a possibility!

Twenty-four players arrived at the club for the last meeting of 2012. The Senior Center will be closed on the next two Mondays due to the holiday season. But be sure to join us bright and early on January 7, 2013 for an even better year!

Again, I must apologize for the late posting. I had two good excuses however; out of town on business and then came down with a cold on the way back! The computer screen is a little blurry as I type this.

Some ladder games were played in addition to our usual slew or casual play. In ladder play, Marcello M and Tim P were victorious. Nice job guys.

Tim benefited from a stroke of brilliant Ladderology, as he moved to the exact spot where four players dropped a spot for lack of ladder play. So Tim catapulted up quite a ways!

We have four players on the verge of dropping off the ladder completely, so January 7 is a “must play” or “must challenge” night for them.

Of course it is not exactly the end of the world if you do drop off the ladder. Simply re-sign up at the bottom and start your climb again. The journey is the fun!

I close with a game Jason M sent me that he had played on line. Time Limit: 5 min:

Jason: “Hi Mike, Glad to see that all is well with the club. Here's a recent effort on ICC.  I'm starting to beat experts and masters a bit more. This is one of my best efforts. I hope folks enjoy the tactics.”

[Event "ICC 5 0"]
[Site "Internet Chess Club"]
[Date "2012.12.10"]
[White "Jason M"]
[Black "Villian"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ICCResult "Black resigns"]
[WhiteElo "2055"]
[BlackElo "2009"]
[Opening "French: Rubinstein variation"]
[ECO "C03"]
[NIC "FR.07"]

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nd7 5. Nf3 Ngf6 6. Nxf6+ Nxf6 7. Bd3
c5 8. dxc5 Bxc5 9. O-O O-O 10. Bg5 Be7 11. Qe2 Nd5 12. Bd2 Bf6 13. c4 Ne7
14. Bb4 a5 15. Ba3 Re8 16. Rfd1 Qc7 17. Rac1 Bd7 18. Bd6 Qb6 19. Be5 Bxe5
20. Nxe5 Bc6 21. Bxh7+ Kxh7 22. Qh5+ Kg8 23. Qxf7+ Kh7 24. Rc3 Nf5 25. Rh3+
Nh6 26. Rxh6+ {Black resigns} 1-0

Thursday, December 13, 2012

League Night Brought 25 Players Out!

Sorry for the delay in this posting. Work and life sometimes interferes with chess. I hate when that happens.

Lots of casual games were played, as 12 players settled in for their serious league matches Monday night.
The winners of the league games were:
Dale K
Scott M
Elliot K
Aaron J
Terry G
Marcello M

Still to play are
Matt T - Mike N
Trent D - Tom H
Ken L - Steve H

Just a note that we will have Chess Club next Monday night, but then not for the last two Mondays of the year as the Hartland Senior Center will be closed on the Mondays 24th and 31st.

But see you next week!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Planning on Some Holiday Chess Shopping? Here is Some Help.

Its holiday shopping time - and Santa might just want to consider bringing chess equipment down the chimney this year.

With that in mind, let me review some chess equipment to consider. I consider these selections the "best value" of equipment out there. If I mention it, it is worthy of owning with pride, and it will give you years of enjoyment and service, whether at home, at the club or in tournaments.

Chess Sets - Plastic
1.  Ultimate Chess Set - 3.675 King - $15 at American Chess Equipment ($24 at Chess House)
2. Reykjavik Series - 3.75 King - $17 at USCF Sales or House of Staunton
3. Marshall Series - 3.75 King - $28 at USCF Sales or House of Staunton
4. Triple Weight Tournament Set - 3.75 King - $8 at USCF Sales or House of Staunton
5. Fischer Series - 4 inch King - $20 at USCF Sales or House of Staunton
6. Zurich Series - 3.875 King - $28 at USCF Sales or House of Staunton

Chess Sets - Wood
1. Ultimate Wood - 3.75 King - $41 at American Chess Equipment (some imperfections in the set)
2. Classic Series - 3.75 or 4" - starting at $89 at USCF Sales or House of Staunton
3. Reykjavic Series - 3.75 King - starting at $150 at USCF Sales or House of Staunton
4. Zagreb '59 Series - 3.875 King - starting at $150 at USCF Sales or House of Staunton
5. Old Deluxe Set - 3.75 King - $100 at the Chess Store
6. Grandmaster Series - 4" King - starting at $89 at USCF Sales or House of Staunton
7. Championship Series - 3.75 King - starting at $60 at USCF Sales or House of Staunton

Chess Boards - all 2.25" squares to match sets listed above - advantages - disadvantages
1. Vinyl Board - $6 - Cheap, clean easy, portable, but can't tuck a study book or magazine under it.
2. Mouse Pad Board - $9 - Cheap, won't slide, portable, harder to clean, pieces don't slide and hard to rotate board.
3. Wood Boards - Starting at $70 - Pieces slide easy, can tuck book or magazine open while studying, easy to spin, but some glare from lights, hard to carry and some worry about damaging the surface.

1. Saitek Competion Pro - $50
2. Saitek Competion Digital - $40
3. DGT North Americn Digital - $50
4. Diamond Quartz Analog Clock - $30
No wind ups suggested, but still a servicable choice for home or club play.

Chess Carry Bags
1. Deluxe Chess Bag - $14 - Any chess distributor

Books - Jason's List of "Must Haves"
So, just in time for is my Top Ten Lost on a Desert Island Chess Library Picks.  Get any one of these under your tree, and I guarantee you that you won't be disappointed. - JM

1.  Pawn Structure Chess - GM Andy Soltis
This and #2 were responsible for me going from USCF 1800 to 2000, and it made so much sense of what the opening was all about. If you're having trouble finding middle game plans, studying how to play the various pawn structures will improve your game.

2.  The Art of Defense in Chess - GM Andy Soltis
"Most games are not won, they are lost!" - Soltis. Whether one side crashes through often depends on one key tempo, and knowing when and how to throw a spanner into your opponents plans can make all the difference between winning or losing. IMHO the first step in becoming a winning player is becoming much harder to beat, and all great players are noted for how well they defend, too. (e.g. Karpov, Fischer, Carlsen, etc.). If you change your mindset that there are only two results in chess (winning and not losing), you will increase your rating.

3.  The Art of Attack in Chess -  GM Vukovic
A concise encyclopedia of the main elements of attacking play with classic game examples.

4.  The Games of Robert J. Fischer -  Wade & O'Connell
No Fischer Fan's library is complete without this book.  This is THE Fischer book - 700+ games, many fully annotated.

5.   500 Master Games of Chess -  Du Mont
Pull up a chessboard and sample this buffet of the great masters, all organized by opening. The weath of annotations makes this a great source of opening ideas for you games.

6.  The Sorcerer's Apprentice - GM David Bronstein
Ounce for ounce, Bronstein was one of the most imaginative and creative players ever. Narrowly missing winning the World Championship from Botvinnik, he pretty much single-handedly resurrected the King's Indian Defense into a powerful weapon. If you love deep combinations conjured from thin air, this is a treat!

7.  My Best Games of Chess, 1908 - 1937 -  GM  Alexander Alekhine
An unparalleled master of combination play, Alekhine's genius coupled deep strategy with eagle-eyed tactics.  See his games from the San Remo tournament for an example of his dominance.

8.  Zurich International Chess Tournament, 1953 - GM David Bronstein
A treasure-trove of first-hand accounts and annotations by Bronstein elevated this to classic status among serious chessplayers. Many liken it to a textbook on how to play the middlegame.

9.  100 Select Games - GM Mikhail Botvinnik
Few modern GMs write down their thoughts and chess understanding like Botvinnik did. Here, you get 100 lessons in modern positional play and some sense of the depth of analysis required to be a top master.

Morphy's Games of Chess - P. Seargant
Few modern GMs are as deadly in their understanding of the inititative and it's coupling to quick development as was Paul Morphy. If you love to see pieces and pawns sacrificed with laser-like logic, these games will be immensely entertaining and instructive.

And to let you know, Terry G. may have standard sets for sale at the club!

Also Mike N. has a standard weight plastic set, the Reykjavik and Marshall Plastic Set, along with an Ultimate Wood set for sale. Also chess bags and vinyl boards can be added. I have extra. Mike also has a 4” Classic wood set with a beautiful wood board if interested. I just have too many sets and I need to find a few of them a good "chess home."

And if you want an order from any chess site, see Mike N as some club discounts may be available.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

LCCC Tourney for Beginners a Success!

Twenty-one players this Monday night, including one new member – Zach R! Welcome Zach. He jumped right into the spirit and challenges all comers and posted his name on the Ladder Tournament! Fantastic!

The tournament was won by Eman P in a tough game with Luigi M. Congratulations to Eman.
Everyone who participated in the tournament won either a Chess Life or a Michigan Chess Association magazine to help with their chess “homework.”

The Ladder Tournament fired up again, sparked I hope by our Beginners tournament. We added five more rungs!
Anyway, Tim P won his game to move up two spots. Nice job Tim.
The Top Dog on the ladder for quite a while was Scott M. He has fought off numerous challenges and it sure seemed like he was never going anywhere. And rightfully so, because Scott is a great chess player.
Scott defended the first game, and graciously agreed to a Quick 10-minute game with yet another challenger – Mike N – who took the victory on a possibly too quick resignation from a tired Scott.

So Mike N is the new Top Dog, but really is only keeping the throne warm for the rightful owners who will be back to claim it shortly! But that is the fun of the Ladder.

A reminder that the LCCC League Night resumes next week at 7pm. If you are on a Team, be there or make arrangements with TD Terry G.

If you are not on a Team, show up anyway to substitute or watch the action, or play your own Ladder game or just play and study for fun.

Either way, be here!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Jason's Lesson Corner - End Burnout! Part 2

Jason continues his advice to stop chess burnout!

4. Giving up too much space, particularly in the centerIMHO having extra space in which to maneuver is, besides a material advantage, one of the easiest for a strong player to utilize. Having more space increases the number of possible ways to accumulate resources at some location on the board faster and in greater numbers than one's opponent. Because you "get there firstest with the mostest", space advantages often lead to sacrificial breakthroughs of a minor piece (or two) for open lines -- especially to expose a king or to get far advanced passed pawns. If you're giving up space, particularly in the center, you're asking for a miserable game. See Nakamura - Giri from the recently concluded Grand Prix tournament for a great example of turning a space advantage into a winning pawn breakthrough.

5. Playing too passively (e.g choosing cramped openings without understanding the importance of "freeing moves" (i.e., pawn breaks)
Hand in hand with the above, if you're choosing cramped openings where you concede a space advantage in the center or on some flank for future play against it, then you'd better understand the thematic counter play mechanisms (i.e., pawn breaks, piece placements, common tactics, etc.), else your opponent will implement his plans unopposed.

6. Wasting time (tempos) in all phases of the game
GMs are highly cognizant of wasting time by moving the same piece more than once in the opening or by grabbing minor material at the expense of development. Moves that apparently threaten something but only elicit a response that forces a retreat and a subsequent improvement in the opponent's position are avoided (i.e. pinning a knight with Bg4, Bg5, Bb5, Bb4, provoking h3, h6, a6, or a3 and then not taking the knight.). Also, watch when GMs make moves like castling, moving pawns around their kings, or re-positioning their kings (in the opening or middle game, not endgame): they almost always play these moves when their opponents last move threatens nothing. When your opponent plays a move that threatens nothing, that is an opportunity to either strike out or to take time to repair, improve, or fortify your position, too.

7. Neglecting your king's safety (castling, making-luft, removal from open lines, etc.)
We've all been there: we're about to administer the coup de gras, and just when we play what we think is the decisive move, our opponent, instead of resigning, plays <insert move> check! Ugh!!! Our brilliant combination falls apart because of a devious double attack on our king and some other exposed piece. Thus, before conducting active operations, you will see that all GMs will make sure that their kings are safely tucked away. Being safe, at a minimum, means that all avenues of attack have been blocked and that the king cannot be checked. If you observe GM games, you will see them erect a kind of fortress with pawns on f2, g3, and h4 and the king on h2 (and so on symmetrically around the board). In this formation, the king is guarded from all three directions (the a8-h1 diagonal, the 1st & 2nd ranks, and the h-file), back rank mating threats are minimized, and the king has bolt-holes to escape if need be. Knowing when to play moves like Kh1 goes hand in hand with my comments above, because doing so has to balanced by the consideration that you are moving your king one square further from the center, which could be important in some endgames.
To these items, I could add:
Not coordinating your pieces: neglecting harmony and cooperation, not playing the "whole board".
Losing basic endgames that you should draw and drawing those that you should win (poor technique)
Not managing your time wisely and not knowing when to calculate vs. when to evaluate
... but, this is a decent short-list of points to work on, so I'll stop.

From what I've read and observed, attention to these kinds of details is the shortest path to rapid and significant improvement. One thing that I keep reminding myself (because I still have this dream of reaching 2200+ myself) is that chess mastery is all about the degree to which you've internalized the basics such that you follow them without much, if any, conscious thought -- much like a golf swing or batting in baseball.  You just do it until the mechanics become instinct. That only comes from lots and lots of play and analysis with stronger players.

I'm always interested in playing better myself, so I'm happy to chat about these points with folks at the club anytime! - Jason

Thank you Jason!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

It Was a Fun Tournament Night at LCCC

The “Training Tournament” was a success! Thanks to everyone who participated in it.

We had 17 players in attendance, with 10 taking part in the tournament. We also had two players that took 1st and 2nd round byes, but will play in the last round next week.

The tournament games consisted of a 5 minute game, and a no time limit – but record your moves game.

Next week is the ONE HOUR EACH PLAYER game AND you record your game.
The only talking aloud will be to help your opponent write down the moves if they have trouble. You can also ask the Tournament Director Mike for assistance.

Otherwise, real tournament rules apply – no noise and no talking!

Here are the Postings for the Final Round, with the first name listed having White!
Board 1:  Luigi M (2-0)   vs   Eman P (2-0)
Board 2:  Tim P (1-1)  vs  Americo M (1-1)
Board 3:  Marcello M (1-1) vs  Levi S  (1-1 byes)
Board 4:  Andrew O (1-1)   vs   Luca M  (1-1)
Board 5:  Anton B (1-1)   vs  Garrett S  (1-1 byes)
Board 6:  Maxim N (0-2)  vs Julius B (0-2)

Parings may change due to absenteeism.

Thanks to Terry G for helping out with chess notation training – and a little game training after the tournament.

We are all looking forward to next week already!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Another Big Night at LCCC and In-house Tournament Practice Starting

Twenty-nine players – including two new ones – showed up to enjoy some league play, casual play and some chess lessons.

The two new players are Paul M and David P. Paul is also a member of the Westland Chess Club and Canton Chess Club. David is the older brother of Tim. Welcome both of you!

Some new action is planned for the next few weeks of meetings. There is some interest in getting our younger members involved in tournament chess in the state of Michigan.

Starting next week, Mike N will run some tournaments style games in order to teach our young players how to record games, use and manage the chess clock and standard chess etiquette.

Mike will send out some emails and make some phone calls to see how many players will participate. Even if they do not want to attempt tournament chess outside the club, the lessons will still be worth it.

Please leave a comment on the blog or email either club address to register your child (or register yourself) for these events at the club!

And the new Club League Standings look like this:

Team 4 – Ken T, Terry G, Marcello L – 14 points
Team 1 – Matt T, Tom H, Scott A – 12 points
Team 2 – Aaron J, Mike K, Luigi L – 12 points
Team 5 – Mike N, Trent D, Dale K – 9 points
Team 3 – Scott M, Steven H, Americo L – 5 points
Team 6 – Don J, Ken L, Elliot K – 2 points

December 10th – Team 1 vs Team 5, Team 6 vs Team 3 and Team 2 vs Team 4

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Jason's Lesson Corner - End Burnout! part 1

Jason graciously gives Mike N advice on how to get out of his 'chess burnout'!

If the joy has gone out of your game, and you're dropping pieces right and left, it might be time to “Re-Access Your Chess”, as IM Jeremy Silman chose as the title of his well received book.

GM Viktor Kortchnoi once remarked that one does not play "understands" chess. It could be that it's your understanding of the game at a fundamental level that needs an overhaul. To improve, IMHO you first have to be brutally honest with yourself and really commit to scrubbing your play of any biases, bad habits, and misconceptions about chess. Then you have to fill in the holes with correct knowledge and a ton of practical playing experience to reinforce that knowledge until it becomes second-nature. This is where I fall down since I just cannot commit that time to go higher now.

But assuming that you do have the time, energy and will, ask yourself how frequently you're doing these things in your games:

1. Making bad minor piece trades
One skill that I've noticed that separates masters from amateurs is their knowledge of the relative value of bishops vs. knights: when one is better or worse and how to bring about positions favorable to one or the other. Whether a bishop is better than a knight or vice versa is function of the pawn structure. Having an open center, multiple "pawn islands" ,and/or pawns on both flanks favors the bishop, while having a blocked center or pawns all on one flank favors the knight. It is absolutely wrong to always favor bishops over knights, and trading them indiscriminately without regard to pawn structure and king placement is a sure-fire way to lose against a stronger opponent.

2. Neglecting development (often for winning dubious material)
Watch GM games... GMs almost without exception (OK.. there are some greedy ones who tempt fate) will not grab minor material (e.g. a pawn or two) for the sake of falling behind in development and losing the initiative. That's a sucker's bet, and they won't do it. This reluctance to not grab material can be used as a weapon in and of itself in the form of the "positional pawn sacrifice". Here a master will offer a pawn (a relatively small investment when there are lots of pieces still on the board) for the sake of disrupting his opponent's development, his piece coordination, or to break up his opponent's pawn structure into attack-able chunks.

3. Giving up control of the center
Probably one of the most over-mentioned maxims in chess without a clear explanation of why it's important, control of the center (or lack thereof) has a lasting influence on the course of all games. Knowledge of central pawn structures will improve your understanding of where pieces belong in relation to them, and this will in turn lead to better middle game planning. Giving up control of the center means that you directly attack less than half the real estate of d4, d5, e4, e5 with pawns. If you're giving your opponent a majority of pawn controlled central squares, your game will be cramped, your pieces will lack maneuvering room, and you will not be able to coordinate attack and defense on both wings. There is a reason why 1. ... d5 and 1. .. e5 are the most logical replies to 1. d4 and 1. e4 respectively: they fight for the center immediately and in equal measure. Making pawn captures away from the central squares is the most common way to give up the center, and though it is generally against principle, there are positions where it is a viable strategy (e.g. Queens Gambit Accepted).

More to come!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Another Attendance Record for LCCC – 31 players!

Chess season is upon us and the place to be is the Livingston County Chess Club!

It was our league night and that certainly helped. But the draw is our perfect playing conditions, our vast array of players of all ages and skill levels and the really friendly atmosphere.

We also had Ladder Tournament play tonight. Maxim N, Dave S and Luca M win their matches. Congratulations to them.

Other action included many casual games and Jason M even went over a few tournament games and helped some of our younger players with lessons.

Just for our readers information; your humble blogger should be able to post more articles.

Jason M will provide some great lessons and review of games played. Thanks Jason!

Also, with Christmas coming, I will be doing some reviews of chess sets and products, and the places you can buy them!

Other news from the club and our websites, Mike K, our webmaster will be starting a Chess Forum on the website!

And, I will be checking into a tournament for our younger players to participate in – probably in January or February.  LCCC will of course offer practice BEFORE the tournament, on using a chess clock, writing chess moves down, and general chess tournament etiquette.

Lots of great stuff happening at LCCC. Please stop by and be a part of it!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Fourteen on Hand This Monday

Chess exhaustion, some illness and some work commitments kept the attendees to a little less than usual, but it still was a fun night of chess.

The players played over some of the tourney games that were played over the weekend. That was an informative and fun time.

Terry G and Mike N gave some lessons, exercises and "chess homework" to some of the players.

One ladder game was played with Don J winning in a wild affair.

Just a note, lots of ladder games need to be played soon or the challenge comes down. The problem has been the "challengee" has not been present enough to claim a win from the challenger, so the challenge just goes away allowing challenges by other players.

If you have a challenge posted, so up and play it. If you don't sign up next week. It's a lot of fun and a great way to meet everyone at the club "over the board".

Sunday, November 4, 2012

LCCC Finishes Just Out of the Prizes - But With a Plus Score at the MI Chess Festival

IM Irina Krush was there!
We started the final day with a bang, but ended it with a fizzle.

Ken T did win his game late Saturday to give LCCC an 8-4-3 record going into the final day. Everyone had a chance for prizes except for Mike N. So hopes were high at the start of the 4th round.

Don J won quickly, but Vince V lost.
Mike N had yet another draw after making time control.
Then John R and Ken T both won to really give us all a boost!

So, moving into the final round, LCCC is an impressive 11-5-4!
Don J, John R and Ken T still all have a shot at bling!
Here we go!

Mike N loses a pawn in the center but finds a bishop sac and a forced perpetual check to earn yet another draw in just 22 moves. Mike N, despite never winning a game, with his draws he will pick up rating points as everyone he played had a much higher rating than he did. Now to watch the rest do battle!

Vince V may have lost motivation since he was out of the running - and according to Vince "just didn't have it" - and lost. Well, we still have our three prize chasers out there.

Don J lost a heart breaker! Worse than he feared as Fritz showed a forced win for him three moves before he lost! Ouch. But Don had a good showing and gained valuable tourney experience.

Ken T. was under an intense king side attack and had to lose an exchange to relieve the pressure. It was not enough as he slowly got squeezed into a lost position.

John R fought to the very end, but lost an endgame to close it out.

LCCC finished 11-9-5.
Ken T     3-1-1
Don J      3-2-0
John R    3-2-0
Vince V  2-3-0
Mike N   0-1-4

A good showing and a lot of fun! We watched grandmaster games, and had some lunch and laughs with our fellow LCCC'ers.

Hopefully some more of you can join us on our next tournament excursion!

LCCC Still a Force on Day 2 of the Michigan Chess Festival

Our 3-0-1 record went to 3-0-2 as Ken T joined the tourney on Saturday and drew his first round game.

Round 2 did not start out so well for LCCC, as Mike N changed his opening strategy in mid opening and got himself boxed in. That turned into a loss.
Vince V made a costly blunder to lose his game.
Don J and Ken T got some revenge for LCCC with two wins.
John R lost on time.

So at the end of round 2 LCCC stood at 5-3-2.

Round 3 started late as usual for a MCA tourney, but Vince V and John R both got quick wins!
Don J lost for the first time and Mike N. settled for a draw in a very tough looking endgame.

At this writing, Ken T game result was no known, but it looked promising.

LCCC stands at 7-4-3 and the final round starts at 10am tomorrow. Come on by and root your club members on!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

LCCC Team Has a Great 1st Round!

Four LCCC'ers played in the Friday first round of the Michigan Chess Festival being held at the Metropolitan Hotel in Troy, MI.

Don J started the rout with a win.
That was followed closely by a John R victory.
Then Vince V's opponent resigned and a first round plus score on the first night of action was locked up.

That left Mike N, who managed to hold his position to a draw against a player rated 260 points higher than him.

So, 3 - 0 - 1 for the first round! Down right impressive.

Ken T will play three games tomorrow and Don J, Vince V, John R, and Mike N two each.

We will see how it goes. But LCCC is off to a fine start in the biggest tourney of the year in Michigan!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

2nd Annual Chess Festival Starts Tomorrow!

Just a reminder to stop out to Troy, Michigan at the Metropolitan Hotel this weekend for the biggest tournament held in Michigan.

Many grandmasters, international masters and masters will be on hand!

Chess equipment and books will be on sale also.

Come by and support your LCCC contingent.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Monday Sees LCCC Set Yet Another Attendance Record!

Twenty-seven players were on hand Monday for the casual play, a ladder game, some chess lessons and just a fun time on a wet and cold Monday evening.

Close to half of our members are under driving age, so if you are a parent with a chess playing kid, LCCC is the place to be! We have players of all ages and strengths, and we offer free instruction too! Stop on by.

Terry G. and Mike N. are heading to Howell on Thursday to teach chess to a Cub Scout den and hopefully get a few more players to the club on Monday. Either way, it is always a pleasure to spread the world’s best game!

As far as the chess played Monday, Scott M. kept his spot on the top rung of the ladder, while the Ladder got a new player joining it; Tim P. Good luck Tim!
Jason M. was again kind enough to pour over a couple of internet grandmaster games as a training exercise. Thanks Jason!

The 2nd Annual Fall International Chess Festival (FICF) is this coming weekend in Troy, Michigan at the Metropolitan Hotel at 5500 Crooks Rd.

LCCC will be well represented with five to ten players planning to take on the rest of the world. We had a great showing at the Michigan Open earlier this year – led by Vince V. and we expect our club to be a force again.

Possible LCCC entrants into the FICF are; Don J, John R, Ken T, Matt T, Mike N, and Vince V.
Hopefully, we will get a few more!

Even if you don’t play, stop on by and take in some of the chess action. Books and equipment will be for sale and some of the best players in the world will be in attendance (and not just the ones from LCCC!).

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

This Monday's Action Had it All - League, Ladder and Casual Games

A great night of chess and comradery at the LCCC Monday! We had 19 members present.

Some league games were made up, with Terry G winning, while Don J and Matt T drew their match.

And a ladder game was played where Mike N barely held on to his rung.
The Ladder shrunk by a few rungs as players were dropped for inactivity. But no fear. Simply re-join at the bottom and start the climb again!

It's not hard to stay on the Ladder. One ladder game every 3 weeks either by playing or challenging someone. See the Ladder TD Mike N, if you have any questions.

The exciting news was the addition of 5 new members to the club! We welcome Maxim's dad, and the father - son combos of Ernam and Tim T, and Lucas and Jim P.

This brings LCCC to a record 44 active members and another 20 or so currently inactive.

Come join the fun every Monday night. Winter is coming, so it is the height of the chess season!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Twenty-Two Players Made the Monday LCCC League Night

It was a good night of chess with a nice mixture of players age wise.

League results can be found on the LCCC website (see tab on right side of the blog).

The Ladder tournament saw no action, but quite a few challenges were made to go with the ones still out there. The Ladder action will heat up next week for sure.

If you are here on Monday, get on the ladder. If you are not here for some great chess action, get here!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

LCCC has 21 Players Last Monday

LCCC President Aaron J gives us a report:

“We had a total attendance of 21 people last Monday  with what looked to me like a record number in the under 15 yr old crowd.

Levi and Julia made their second visit with their father Mike, Elliot and his father Dale, the four M. boys were in attendance with both of their parents, and two other boys who were friends of the M. family.

The others in attendance were myself and Scott, Don, Ken Tack, Vince, Terry, and a visitor, that I hope we captured his contact information.

We were in the Senior Center lounge room this week, which worked out alright. No need to set up tables, and easy access to the coffee machines!
Scott M. and I joined the younger players to give some advice and play a few games. I went over some basic checkmates with Marcelo and Levi, first Q and K vs K, then R and K vs K, with special emphasis on making sure you don't stalemate your opponent! By the time we finished Levi had managed to checkmate me with both combinations of pieces.
A fun Columbus day was had by all!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Jason M Annotates Mike N's Tournament Loss - Conclusion

After 13. Rb1
 11. Nh4  Bg6
12. Nxg6  hxg6
13. Rb1 ......
See Diagram

White lines up on Black's queen and the b7 pawn, threatening b4. Remarkably, Black can still play
13. ....  b6! for tactical reasons. 14. b4  axb4 
15. Rxb4  Qd8! and the c5 pawn is pinned to the Rb4.

On 14. Cxb6 Qxb6, Black is controlling b4, threatening c5 and has great squares for his rooks at b8 and c8 (supporting c6-c5). Although Black has lost the bishop pair, the Nf3 pin is gone now and attacking d4 is much easier to achieve.

By striking at c5 with b6 and at d4 with e5, Black could generate some counter play. However, he plays the inexplicable;
13: ......   Ne4?
14. Nxe4   dxe4. Now Black has lost more time and has weak pawns all for no gain.

15. b4   Bd8  When you have to play contortions like this, you know something is really wrong. Black's problems are systematic, and they are a direct result of not seeking counter play according to the demands of the position - particularly in the pawn structure.

16. b5  cxb5
17. Rxb5   Now White queues up on the b-file and the b7 pawn is dead.

17. .....  Qc7 
18. Qb3  Ra7 
19. Rb1  Nf6 
20.  Rxb7  Rxb7
21. Qxb7  Qc7 Black is lost at this point but stumbles on.
22. Qxc7  Bxc7
23. Rb7   f5   More weakening with no real point.
24. Bc4  Rf7
25. g3   Re7?
26. Bxd5  exd5
27. Bxa5   Bd6
28. c6   ......

White had a flashier win with:
28. cxd6!   Rxb7
29. Bc7    and the d-pawn cannot be stopped! White won anyway in a few more moves.

Points for study:
>Understand pawn structures is the key to finding the right plan. Study them!
>Space advantages become decisive if you let your opponent develop behind them unopposed. Attack pawn chains at their bases and at the head with pawn levers.
>Seek active counter play as soon as it is safe to do so. Don't wait!

Thanks Jason for this great review. It was very educational.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Sixteen Make the Monday Club

Yes, we are doing more game recording at the club!
Our nice and average turn out, and we got to welcome yet another new player, Maxim N. Welcome to LCCC Maxim.
Ladder play continued as Mike N held off a challenge. Don J then challenged Mike N next. We will see that game in two weeks. Then Mike will try for the top spot again against Scott M.

Some ladder games were postponed due to illness, but John R moved up the ladder due to some sharp “Ladderology” and a no show for a challenge. So John has a new set of people to challenge.

In other news, our president Aaron J announced that our club is probably being moved to the room NEXT DOOR to the one we are currently in. Not a big deal, but a little different look and feel.

More of a open lounge type setting as opposed to the tournament hall setting we have gotten used to. It seems some Christmas Choir practice will take our regular room for a few weeks.

It is still a great venue - so stop on by.

Your humble blogger must apologize for the lack of posting last week. Work and life got in the way a little – in addition to the great weather for golf on the one day I did have free. But I will get back at it this week – I hope.

Check back soon!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

LCCC Sets Another Attendance Record!

Twenty-three players including five (5) new attendees showed up for some chess action.
We would like to welcome Levi and Mike S, Jack H, Chris M and Jon R to LCCC. Great to have you as members!
That brings us to a total of 37 active members, 8 in-active and 25 MIA. But with chess season here, we might be seeing some old members return.
We had a make-up of a league game with Trent D winning.
The ladder action picked up also with Trent getting a win there also to rocket up the ladder!
Scott M defended his top perch successfully – TWICE!
Don J also won to maintain his lofty ladder status.
Just a reminder that if you have an August 20 challenge still on the list, next week (Oct 1) is your last week to get that game played.
And for everyone’s information – in case you didn’t notice – we now have a Chess Supplies for Sale list on the blog. Any member with equipment to sell can get it listed there. If you have anything you wish to sell, email the club or tell the blog-master and it will get listed.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Not Chess Burnout, But Definitely a Slump

I am in one right now. I felt at first it was burnout, but that is a much more serious condition, and I don’t have those symptoms.

I am no where near the place where I don’t want to play anymore. I certainly want to play. I just don’t “have it” right now. Virtually every chess player goes through this phase from time to time. I’ve had it before….and I have it now….and I will have it again.
The chessboard has not changed dimensions, but mentally, right now it seems to me to be about the size of Texas. I can’t see it all no matter how hard I try.

And ideas, tactics and threats are also as easy to find for me as a snowball is … Texas… August.
I am not finding the right move in a serious game, a friendly game, on on-line game, a speed game, in a tactics puzzle or playing over games and covering up the last six moves or so to figure out the winning thread.
Nope – wrong decision again!

There are several ideas on why slumps happen. Race horses go thru this. They will run at peak speed for three to five races in a row and then slump. They still need to be ‘raced’ in order to stay in shape, but they are not pushed to win or the owner will risk injury to the horse.

Baseball, softball, pool, poker players, golfers, bowlers and even fishermen go thru slumps. And with a season like chess has (never ends unless you decide there is an end), slumps are bound to crop up.
So, what are the solutions to a chess slump? Well, the best solution is to ….not play for a short little while and re-evaluate the situation you are in. Take stock in everything.

How is your overall health?
Are you getting enough rest?
Are you eating properly?
Are there outside pressures unrelated to chess that are sapping your mental or physical strength or concentration?
Are you in a rut (playing rote) and doing mostly the same stuff but expecting different results?
Are you having fun or really want to play, or are you just going thru the motions?
Are you playing lazy…expecting moves to appear, opponents to blunder or expecting opponents to be blind to your tactics and you never consider …what if they see it?

As you see, we are moving out of simple slump territory and into “I’m no longer working hard enough territory.

If you are in a slump of any kind, take a time out and think about where you are at mentally, physically and personally. Many times there is a reason you are not performing well, rather than it being an actual slump.
As for me? A quick and easy review of my situation showed that I an not getting enough rest, I have some work pressures right now, and I am playing lazy. 

All but one are easy to fix...starting now. 
Good night!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

LCCC League Starts and it was a HUGE Success!

Although there were a few no-shows for the league’s first night, six league games were played and another ten players showed for casual chess games! That means we set a record for attendance with 22 players! Thanks to everyone for being here.

The league standings will be posted soon on the website and the blog. And some of the more interesting games will be posted also. Stay tuned.

The Ladder Challenge Tournament did not have any action, due to the league going on. But it will start in earnest again next week. One player, Dave S joined and immediately made a challenge to Lamila M., so we are looking forward to that game.

Jason M reviewed some grandmaster games prior to the start of the league, showing some interesting twists and tactics. Thanks Jason!

The next league action is not until October, so there is still time to organize a team (within the league rules), play some make-ups and get involved. If not, there is always the Ladder Tourney or relaxing skittles chess.

Stop on by next Monday.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Jason M Annotates Mike N's Tournament Loss - part 2

Jason continues:

6. …. Be7

7. Be2 O-O

8. O-O Nbd7

9. a4 ?! ….

“Now there is no excuse for Black not to play ….b6, as he is running out of chances to stop White’s queen-side advance.

The main thing to point out is that Black is playing very passively and allowing White to take even more initiative. Black will soon find himself with no counter-play on the queenside, having to defend weak pawns.

The move 9. a4 is weak as it allows Black time for 9. …. h6 and takes away the square for the c3 knight later on.

Consider this: If it was really this easy to get an advantage with White in the Queen’s Gambit Declined line, why do so many grandmasters play it as Black?

9. …. a5?!

10. Bd2 Qb8?!


To understand why Qb8 is dubious, let’s take all the pieces off the board and look at the pawn structure. Surprisingly, we’ll find that White is somewhat worse off here.

In a book by GM Andy Soltis, he discusses the importance of studying chess in terms of basic pawn structures. In that book, he pays particular attention to “levers”. Levers are pawn moves that open lines for pieces.

What levers does Black have? What are his plans? First, he must strive to create a backward pawn at d4 by playing e5 and then exd4. If allowed, this is a permanent weakness for White that will not go away. In addition, the snipe at c5 is STILL there with b6! And since White can no longer play b4, he has to capture at b6 or allow a permanent pawn weakness at c5. After this, Black still has another round in the chamber with c5!, hitting d4 again.

Meanwhile, White cannot counter in the center with f3 and e4 because after dxe4 and fxe4, White has a permanent weakness on d4.

[diagram 2]

Now let’s add the pieces back to the game. The diagram here shows the ideal placement for Black. The rooks are connected, the Queen at c7 supports both b6 and e5 and guards a5. The Knight at f8 is ready to join in the fight after e5 and then Nfe6.

So, after the ordinary non-threatening developing move of 10. Bd2, Black should have take stock of his position in terms of the pawn structure, and then he would have found the right plan.

Conclusion: Black had the better game because he had better levers, but let White off the hook.”

More next time.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Jason M Annotates Mike N’s Tournament Loss – Part I

Take it away Jason!

“Mike asked me to annotate two of his games from the 2012 Michigan Open. Here is the first. In general, I will stress the important themes and concepts in favor of showing multiple variations. I think this is more useful to players in the 1000 to 1600 range. But when appropriate, I will give some lines.

White: Villain #3

Black: Mike N.

Opening: Slav Defense: 4.Nc3

1. d4 d5

2. c4 c6

3. Nf3 Nf6

4. Nc3 Bf5

5. e3 e6

6. c5?!

Here Mike is critical of his last move, apparently because of his opponent’s reply. However, he has done nothing wrong, and his position is a typical Queen’s Gambit Declined – Slav.

This is a well-known position inaccuracy, since Black has an excellent reply in 6. …b6!, attacking the head of the pawn chain. Note that 6. …h6 intending to save the Bf5 bishop runs into 7. Bd3 Qxd3, which means Black loses two tempos (moves).

If 6. ... b6!, 7. b4 a5! And White cannot play a3 because his Ra1 rook is pinned after axb4. If 8. bxa5 then Black destroys the center with bxc5. Black is threatening both c4, gaining a protected passed pawn and Qxa5.

Another line is 6. …b6! 7. b4 a5, 8. b5 but Black is OK after 8. …bxc5, 9. bxc6 Bd6, 10. Bb5 O-O, 11. dxc5 Bxc5 or if 11. O-O then Black is better after 11. …c4.

Strategically, White should have kept the pawn tension (the mutual attack between White’s c-pawn and Black’s d-pawn) as long as possible and just continue his development, since this slows Black’s counter-play in the center (with c5 or e5).

Black should have struck immediately at c5 with b6. But instead, they played on.

Continued next article.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Fifteen Players Re-Open LCCC after the Labor Day Week

Our outstanding facility is closed on holidays, so LCCC was dark last week. But we were back at it last night, with an average attendance night.

One ladder game as Mike N stopped Vince V from climbing the ladder quickly with a hard fought draw result. This was no small feat as Vince is in top form after a 5 win showing at the Michigan Open last weekend.

Just a reminder, there are some ladder challenges (dated 8/20) that according to the rules, need to be played within the next two Mondays.

With the league starting on the second Monday, it may be tough to get the games in. We didn’t have a league when the Ladder Rules were written. So, the Ladder TD is extending the date for the 8/20 ladder challenges to be played on or by 10/1.

There were some casual games played, but a lot more game reviews going on than usual. Some had GM games they were looking over and others had Michigan Open games to review. I think this is all in preparation for LCCC league that starts in a couple weeks.

Jason M was nice enough to analyze and annotate a couple of losing games played by Mike N and we went over them at the club. It was a very informative review that will help everyone who listened to the autopsy of a loss.

The game featured some counter-attack tactics, which even though failed during the game, led to some fun analysis of “what ifs”, including turning this loss into a draw and even a win! Lots of very instructive notes hit upon.

Look for Jason’s analysis to be posted right here, and for some games to be posted on the website shortly!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Vince V.’s Report on the Michigan Open

“I scheduled today off from work because I figured I'd be spent from the Open this over the weekend, and I was right. My last 2 games were difficult.

The last one was more so because my opponent was a snotty teenage lad. He repeated moves and I offered a draw in fairly even position. I thought I had better chances but not enough to win and he arrogantly declined.

Anyway, he ended up resigning in a bit of time trouble but with a lot of game to play. After looking at the game again this morning I'm pretty sure I was better enough to win but the game still had a lot of room for mistakes on both sides. Oh well, I'll take it.

Round 6 was my longest game. I won a pawn around move 25 or so and then somewhere around move 45 my opponent really could have resigned - legitimately. It was just a matter of walking my king to pick up his remaining pawns and eventually queen a pawn and check mate him.

Well, he made me do it and, for his last 8-10 moves took his merry ole time calculating the many complex variations that would arise from moving his king to the ONE available square I allowed for it. It finally ended with checkmate at around move 70. And, we were off to lunch - finally!

Many thanks to Mike N, Ken L and John R for the camaraderie and support - Mike N especially for the laughs and stories - the best! And also to Ken T for making a special stop for us and the good vibes he sent our way. Very much appreciated!

This was my first tournament in 35+years and it was still as exhilarating and nerve wracking as I remember it being when I was in high school. I'm looking forward to the Chess Festival in November the same was I did when I was in high school - a lot of anxiety, nervousness and apprehension but also very excited and great anticipation of the challenges.”

Vince V.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Report on the Michigan Open: Final Day

Finishing the report of yesterday; John R drew a long game in round 5 and moved to 3-1-1. Nice job John. That moves LCCC to (8-10-2).
Ken L. withdrew from the tournament because of exhaustion. Three straight days of long rounds of chess can do that to you.
Round 6 ended early for John R as he took a quick draw. Just as well as he was probably tired from last night’s marathon anyway.
Mike N. won a pawn in the middle game and was forcing a win, when his opponent hung a rook. So much for the drama after that.
Vince V. also won a pawn in the middle game but he was not so fortunate. He had a long hard road in order to get the victory! But it was a victory none the less.
LCCC now stands at (10-10-3).

Round 7: Mike N. offered a draw at move 16, and was graciously turned down. The very next move, his opponent tried something that cost him a pawn, and positional equality. Twelve moves later, when the villain is two pawns down with two doubled pawns and an isolated pawn in the center, he asks if I still want the draw – tongue in cheek of course.
John R. got in bad time trouble, then hung a rook and lost on time anyway. I think the late round 5 game finally caught up to John. As I said, tournament chess is a strain on a person.
Vince V. also offered his opponent a draw at move 20 and it was rudely declined. I think the term used was, “No way!”
But as his opponent moved his rooks and Queen back and forth and up and down on a shut down queenside, Vince slowly and methodically started a king-side attack. His opponent, in a little time trouble and seeing the approaching storm, resigns.
Vince had several ways to mate or steal material with his building attack, but at the post-mortem at Buffalo Wild Wings later, Mike N. found a defense that returned the position to the town of Drawville.
Too bad for that guy. He didn’t get that draw. NO WAY!
Just a note on turning down draws. It’s ok to do so if you think you have an advantage, either in the game or talent-wise. But you don’t have to try and win the game immediately after turning down a draw. I have seen this many times, and actually it is a fair tactic to use to throw an opponent off. Players tend to push the issue after declining a draw offer. It's like they feel they have to justify the turning down of your offer.
Many players immediately think they must have an advantage if you are offering them a draw and try to push the position immediately after your offer is made. It is a natural response, so don’t fall for it yourself. If you turn down a draw offer, slow down. And don’t be too proud to offer it yourself if it still looks like a draw later.

LCCC finished the tourney at (12-11-3).
Vince V went (5-2)
John R went (3-2-2)
Mike N went (3-3-1)
Ken L went (1-4)

It was a great time and more members should take advantage of playing in a tourney with other club members. It’s nice to have someone around to share the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat with. Not to mention the car pooling!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Report From the Michigan Open; Day 3

Somebody is reading the LCCC blog! Tournament postings now put up in two places!

Finishing the report of yesterday; John R won a long game in the last round and moved to 2 – 1. Nice job John. That moves LCCC to (5-6-1).

Round 4 did not start out well for LCCC thanks to Mike N. Obvious tournament rust causes me to fall into an opening trap that featured a ‘family fork’ opportunity, and resignation came after only 17 moves. Ouch!

Then another ouch! Vince V. had an over-whelming position and over-looked an easily defended counter-punch losing the exchange and a pawn and resigns.

Ken L. played his best game of the tournament seizing center control as his opponent lunched on a few useless pawns. Ken countered with his center and g-file control to eventually win back more material and then finish his opponent off in the endgame.

John R. was in monster time trouble in a tough middle game. Not only did he survive that, but he wrestled control away from his opponent, then won his endgame in another marathon.

LCCC is now (7-8-1).

The four of us left the venue for lunch just before Ken T. showed up to see his fellow LCCC'ers in action. But with the next round not til much later and none of us around, there was not much to see. But thanks for stopping by Ken T.

Round 5 not only had a late start because of the Michigan Chess Association elections, but then the round started late because of some last minute withdraws and new board pairings.

In this round Ken L. went pawn hunting and that took his queen out of his opponent’s attack zone. It did not end well for Ken.

Vince V. won the exchange on move 6 and took care of business after that.

Mike N. played a much better game than last round and made the decision to go for the win rather than play it safe. But my opponent never made a mistake and I could not take advantage of the holes I made in his defenses sacrificing the exchange (rook vs bishop). I could not turn it into a win. I guess nothing was really there in the first place, and I got grounded down to a lost endgame.

We could not find John or his result before we left this evening. We will catch up again with the final report. LCCC is now (8-10-1).

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Report: From the Michigan Open; Day 2

The rounds started on time, the numbers of tables were plentiful and there were boards available to post the rounds on.

However, why there is only ONE posting of the round pairings to look at is still a mystery. It is an absolute zoo at the board. People crowd in to see their pairings to read print font so small, you think you are looking at the loan application to buy a car.

I understand posting results on only one sheet. You can take down the other sheets once the rush is over. But one sheet is just crazy.

And the rudeness at the pairing board is just obscene! Read your name under your color, get your board number and go! Standing there at the start of the round and analyzing who is playing who and where your friends are playing is just stupid.

I literally saw two guys standing in front of the pairing board for round 3 for over three minutes at the start of a round! No one could read around them. What the heck are they looking at? They were just lucky my knuckles were still sore from punching out the guy that did that in round 2.

On to the action. Round 2:

Mike N (me) got a perpetual queen check draw on a much higher rated player (150 points) on move 10! Not exactly fighting chess I grant you, but I didn’t like the other options. (1-0-1)

Ken L. lost position early and that got turned into a knight pin later on that resulted in a real loss. (0-2)

Vince V. won a tough game basically the same way. He turned a positional advantage into a passed pawn and victory. (1-1)

Round 3:

Mike N. got rolled in 27 moves due to 10. …..a5, post analysis showed. And it did not look like a death nail when played, but it was obvious my opponent knew what to do after I played it (270 points higher than me). I want to get to that point – where he is! (1-1-1)

Ken L. lost another king-pawn endgame. Yes, he knows where he has to do some work. (0-3)

Vince V. won a beautiful game by taking control of the center, then dismantling his opponent’s king side. (2-1)

John R. joined us by entering the 3-day event. Didn’t see him play his first two games as our schedules didn’t cross. (1-1) And we left before his 3rd round game was over. It looked like a battle! But I will get a full report today and let you know tomorrow!

LCCC is (4-6-1)

AND A REMINDER! LCCC is CLOSED Monday for Labor Day.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Report: From the Michigan Open: Day One

Your humble scribe got there early thanks to a fortuitous work scheduled trip to the area. I was so early that I was the first one there, so I got to hear a panic stricken tournament director telling the hotel manager that “you don’t have enough tables and chairs set up” and “I told you I needed a place to post pairing and wall charts! I emailed and called you people about both of these issues and was told it was no problem!”

Oh, the fun filled experience of running one of these things! It’s always something. Jennifer Skidmore, the TD did announce that this may be the biggest Michigan Open of all time!

Three LCCC’ers played the first day of the four day schedule; Ken L, Mike N and Vince V. We hope some more join us today, as there is a 3-day and a 2-day format entry available. Come on out!

1st Day results:

Vince V won the opening with much better position, but when he tried to turn that into a pawn majority advantage, missed a counter attack opportunity for his opponent and had to resign.

Mike N (me) did the opposite. By changing my mind about which defense I want to play at move 4, I end up playing what I am now calling “the hyper-modern Numbskull Variation of the Wood-pusher Defense” - and drop a pawn.

But several moves later, I see a trap to win a piece for a pawn. But my opponent somehow sees this ingenious and well hidden - one-move combination – and not only thwarts it, but wins another pawn!

Well, at least I am not in time trouble. My opponent has two pawns and one of them passed in the center. I got him right where I want him!

I do have some open files, open diagonals and the bishop pair. Using these tools and an opponent now set on “not losing” rather than “winning” the game, I am able to run my lonely A- pawn THRU my opponent’s A and B pawn to win the game.

I did go home and check, and my newly “invented” defense is not listed anywhere. So I got that going for me.

Ken L.’s game went way into the night. But he lost a tight King-Pawn endgame.

So LCCC is 1-2 after Day One. The struggle continues today with another two rounds of action.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The LCCC Blog is Yours and Useful – Use It!

Just a reminder LCCC’ers, this blog is yours – just as much as it is the Blogmaster’s.

As a member of the club, you have access to post your chess related (and even unrelated to chess in some instances) stuff to this blog for everyone in the club to benefit from.

Blogs are like mini websites. They are free, easy to use, update automatically, so that you can share your thoughts and ideas with others by simply making a comment. Or you can send what you want to post to the club email and it will get posted to the blog as soon as possible.
Blogs are online journals that allow other people to read your thoughts and reply to them.

Because blogs are not private, they are not a place to put personal grievances or private thoughts - but a place to talk about ideas you want to share with the rest of the world about the chess club. Some examples:
  • Tell people about your experience in a chess tournament or just a chess game.

  • Share some your ideas about a chess topic.

  • Talk about chess and share some tips

  • Provide links to other interesting chess sites on the Internet not currently listed on this blog.

  • Promote and sell something to your club members

  • Write stories or poems…or chess jokes.

For instance, this upcoming weekend a few LCCC’ers will be playing in the Michigan Open. These members will be able to post their thoughts and experiences at the Open here on the blog, so the rest of the club members that could not make it there, can share in the experience.

We have a fine website also. That is our foundation…..our on-line stadium for the world to notice and enter.

The blog is the field where the members perform in front of everyone. The blog is the on-going game for all the LCCC fans to enjoy. And yes, we have fans that can’t play chess at the Club, but still read the blog and visit the website.

So get involved with the blog. It’s here for you too!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Monday Night Training Session on Tactics – and Some Chess Too!

Jason M. was kind enough to give a 45 minute lecture on chess tactics, complete with examples culled from grandmaster games. It was very interesting and informative. Thank you, Jason.

Jason is planning to do more of these, so make plans to stop by the LCCC – after the Labor Day holiday. We will be closed for Labor Day as our facility is closed.

But we will be back in action on September 10 at 6pm. Hope to see new players, current players and past players all stop by.

We have many exciting things happening at LCCC. On top of the FREE chess training being offered, we have a intra-club league starting later in September. Teams are still being formed so, join the club (for free) and sign up to get in our chess team league.

We also have the on-going Ladder tournament. It is always fun to challenge the players above you and hopefully to win their rung on the Ladder.

There were quite a few casual games and many hard fought speed games played.

But the game of the night was a Ladder game where Scott M held on to his top spot. The game will be posted on the LCCC website later this week.

It was also a bitter-sweet night membership-wise. We had a nice crowd of fourteen players, as Matt T. returned to LCCC from a longer than usual absence. And since he has joined up for our chess league, we add another strong player back to our LCCC stable of regulars.

But we are losing a good player for the school year also. Andrew K is returning to his college campus and his schedule will be such that it will be until next late spring – early summer, before he can return to the LCCC chess room. Good luck in your studies Andrew and we will see you next year!

Four LCCC players – Don J, Ken L, Mike N and Vince V went to the monthly Canton Quad tourney at the Canton Library on Sunday.

Vince and Mike tied for 1st in the top Quad – taking a “grandmaster” draw in the last round against each other – while going 2 – 0 in their other games.

Don J and Ken L each posted a victory in their quads.

Don J got his first chess tournament win – in his first tournament - in the last round! Congratulations Don.

Everyone, the Michigan Open is being held over the Labor Day weekend at The Met Hotel in Troy, MI. LCCC will be well represented.

Even if you cannot find the time to play in it, please stop by and check it out! If you like chess, you have to stop by and see the state championship tourney at least. See you there!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Fischer Random Chess Rules

For those of you who want to "mix it up" a little. This does take everyone out of "book" and sends you into the unknown. Give it a try!

Starting position requirements

White pawns are placed as in standard chess. All remaining white pieces are placed randomly on the first rank, with the following restrictions:

the bishops must be placed on opposite-color squares
the king must be placed on a square between the rooks

Black's pieces are placed equal-and-opposite to White's pieces. For example, if the white king is randomly determined to start on f1, then the black king is placed on f8. (Note that the king never starts on the a- or h-files, since this would leave no space for a rook.)

The starting position can be generated before the game by computer program, or chosen by the players by a variety of methods using dice, coin, cards, etc.

Determining a starting position

There are many procedures for selecting a starting position. A common one is that proposed by Ingo Althoefer in 1998, which requires only one six-sided die:

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.

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.

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.

Roll the die, and place a knight on the empty position indicated. Re-roll a 6.

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).

This particular procedure generates any of the 960 possible initial positions with equal chance. It uses an average of 6.7 die rolls. Note that one of these initial positions (rolled by 2-3-3-2-3 or 2-3-3-4-2) is the standard chess position, at which point a standard chess game ensues.
Rules for castling

Like standard chess, Chess960 allows each player to castle once per game, moving both the king and a rook in a single move. However, the castling rules were reinterpreted in Chess960 to support the different possible initial positions of the king and rook.

After castling, the king and rook's final positions are exactly the same as they would be in standard chess. Thus, after a-side castling (also called sometimes c-castling), the king is on the c-file (c1 for White and c8 for Black) and the a-side rook is on the d-file (d1 for White and d8 for Black).

This move is notated as 0-0-0 and is known as queenside castling in orthodox chess. After h-side castling (also called sometimes g-castling), the king is on the g-file and the h-side rook is on the f-file. This move is notated as 0-0 and is known as kingside castling in orthodox chess. It is recommended that a player state "I am about to castle" before castling, to avoid potential misinterpretation.

However, castling may only occur under the conditions listed below. The first two are identical to the standard chess castling rules. The third is an extension of the standard chess rule, which requires only that the squares between the king and castling rook are vacant.

Unmoved: The king and the castling rook must not have moved before in the game, including having castled.

Unattacked: No square between the king's initial and final squares (including the initial and final squares) may be under attack by an enemy piece.

Unimpeded: All the squares between the king's initial and final squares (including the final square), and all of the squares between the rook's initial and final squares (including the final square), must be vacant except for the king and castling rook. (An equivalent way of stating this is: the smallest back rank interval containing the king, the castling rook, and their destination squares, contains no pieces other than the king and castling rook.)

If the initial position happens to be the standard chess initial position, the Chess960 castling rules have exactly the same result as the standard chess castling rules. In some starting positions, some squares can remain occupied during castling that would have to be vacant in standard chess. For example, after a-side castling (0-0-0), it is possible that a, b, and/or e are still filled; and after h-side castling (0-0), it is possible that e and/or h are filled. In some starting positions, the king or rook (but not both) do not move during castling.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

This Monday May Have Been the Start of Chess Season!

Eighteen players showed up to enjoy a great Monday night of chess action and discussion!
The Ladder Tournament saw;

Scott M. hangs on to the top spot (get used to this sentence),
Mike N. move to the #2 spot,
Don J. used Ladderology – and a win – to move to the #4 spot, and
Mike S. move up to the #9 spot.

Even more exciting is that Trent D. joined the Ladder and FIVE new challenges were made!

It sets up a very exciting situation as next week’s feature Ladder Game will be the battle of #1 vs #2 – Scott M vs Mike N.

I have a feeling that no matter what the outcome of the game, Mike N.’s (me) Ladder dance card will be full for some time to come!

Terry G. gathered opinions on the strength of the players in the club to establish club ratings in order to seed our internal Club Team Tournament. A quick vote decided that we will have 5 three-person teams, rather than 8 two-person teams.

Now that will mean a bye week for a team, but it also opens a spot for a “new” team if players become available. Of course Ladder games can fill in player’s bye weeks with more meaningful games.

We welcomed back Jason M, who has been away on business. He has graciously offered to give chess lessons to the Club on Chess Tactics next week. Free chess lessons from a 2000+ rated player? What an outstanding opportunity! Thanks Jason!

In other news, the Michigan Open is set for Labor Day weekend in Troy, MI. Several LCCC’ers are thinking of playing in the tournament. You can play a 4, 3 or 2 day schedule, so please consider entering.

Even if you don’t enter the tournament, stop by if you get a chance. A chess tournament is a fascinating thing to see. In addition to the games, there will be a vendor or two selling chess supplies and books. Do a little shopping.

Plus there will be people milling about in the Skittles Room looking for a challenger for a friendly game.

There is the Canton Quads this weekend and some of us LCCC’ers may be going there as a warm up to the big event Labor Day.

Get all the information on all the tournament action at the Michigan Tournament link on the right side of the Blog.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Ladder Challenge Reservations – I Mean, Member’s Reservations about the Ladder Challenge

Every tournament, regardless of format, needs players. Not everyone is playing in the LCCC Ladder Challenge. That is a shame really. Most members are - and that is great!

But let’s try to list and then analyze some of the reasons someone may not wish to participate:
1. “I don’t want to have to maybe play everyone in the club. I just want to play certain people in the club.”
2. “I don’t want my chess results posted ANYWHERE for ANY reason.”
3. “I don’t like to play with any pressure of any kind.”
4. “I don’t want to have to [challenge/accept a challenge] from a much [stronger/weaker player] than I am.”
5. “I’ll end up on the [top/bottom] of the LADDER and remain there anyway. What is the point?”
6. “I don’t like to [use a chess clock/write down moves].”
7. “I don’t [like/understand] the Ladder rules.”
8. “I [can’t/don’t] attend often enough and all my Ladder rung gains will get wiped out.”

Now let me comment on each Ladder reservation:

1. Nothing anyone can do about that. I don’t think the government has mandated forced chess playing – yet. But, you are missing out big time.

2. Thru - 5.

These are all ego driven excuses and should be dropped like a hot iron. It is a GAME folks. Have fun. In a week or two – or 100 years from now, what will your result of your ladder game on a given night affect? Upsets happen, errors happen and blunders happen. So what? Get’em next time – or don’t – whatever!

Learn from your losses, savor your wins, but enjoy the challenge, the friendships and our beautiful game of chess - not your results.

If I was the second coming of Bobby Fischer and rocketed to the top of the Ladder – and no one could beat me – I would enjoy the status and mentor all the challengers that lost to me. I would go over the games with them and help them in their chess growth. But that is just me.

I might even have the TD to put me back on the bottom after I reached the top, so I could challenge people I did not play on my last climb. But again, that is just me.

6. You don’t have to use a clock. Most players will accommodate your wishes. The players that don’t – don’t play them (they will win the challenges against you however) and don’t challenge them. You will have others who will play by your request. It certainly is not a show stopper. If it becomes prevalent, maybe we change the rule where the challenger decides whether to use a clock or not. MAYBE. But I doubt it will be an issue. Writing the moves of your game is always optional.

7. You can’t learn the rules if you are not using them. The Ladder TD or others can explain them to you multiple times if necessary. And as far as not liking them, you really should be ON THE LADDER to even worry about it. Your opinion would matter a great deal more if you were being affected by the rules directly. All possible improvements will be considered, but the purpose of the Ladder Challenge is to have a simple, easy way for all the players to play all the players in the club – and the Ladder accomplishes that – if players get on the Ladder.

8. If you inform the Ladder TD that you will be gone for a period of time, your spot on the Ladder can be frozen. Challengers can skip you and go “5” up for challenges in the interim. Now, you will drop as people below you beat people above you, but that is life on the Ladder. But you won’t be dropped off or have to start completely over – unless you miss your return date.

Are there any other reasons for Ladder avoidance that I can squash? Let me know in the comment section and I will be glad to do so.

This article is for every player for every chess club with a Ladder Tourney: Your club needs you and your chess game needs you – on the Ladder!