Saturday, May 26, 2012

A “Grand” Master Game

This is how you play the game at the high level. Little positional errors you make in the beginning haunt your middle game and destroy you in the end. Grandmaster Joel Benjamin takes advantage of Grandmaster Yasser Seirawan in grand style.

White: GM Yasser Seirawan
Black:  GM Joel Benjamin
Estes Park, Colorado, 1987, Round 11
Catalan Opening [E11]

1. d4   Nf6, 2. c4   e6, 3. g3   Bb4+, 4. Bd2   Qe7, 5. Nc3   Bxc3, 6. Bxc3   Ne4, 7. Qc2   Nxc3,
8. Qxc3   O-O, 9. Bg2   d6, 10. Nf3   Re8, 11. Rd1   Nd7, 12. O-O   e5, 13. Rfe1   e4, 14. Nd2   Nf6,
15. Nf1   d5, 16. Ne3   Be6, 17. f4   Rad8, 18. f5   ……

Believe it or not….the losing move. Black retreats, regroups, starts a diversion counter attack on the queen side, only to return to this lonely pawn later after possible defenders have left the area.
18. …..    Bc8
19.  c5   h5
20. Rf1   b6
21. Rc1   Ba6
Attacking a different lonely pawn.
22. Qd2   Rb8
23. b3   c6
24. Rc2   bxc5
25. Rxc5   Qd6
26. Rfc1   Rb6

One defender leaves the area.

27. Qe1   Nd7
28. R5c2   Qh6

Looking for all the world like Black is attacking an unguarded knight, when the goal is really to have White un-guard the f-pawn once the Lady of the House is dealt with.
29. Qf2   Bb7
30. Rc3   a5
31. Nd1   a4
32. e3    Ra8

Sadly White thinks he is solid now; backward pawn advanced, enemy e-pawn blocked, Queen and knight properly placed to defend either side of the board. Looks great, but in actuality…..not so much!
33. Nd2   Qd6
34. Bf1    Nf6

Black is still acting like he wants to attack that e-pawn and the queen-side simultaneously and that is what White defends. But White weakens the squares around his king in the process.
35.  h3   Bc8!

Whites says to himself….”Self. My queen can cover three pawns at once." A real 90’s woman….in 1987.
36. bxa4   Rxa4
37. Nb3   Ra3
38. Nc5    Rxc3
39. Rxc3   ……

Clearing the back ranks for an invasion!
39.  …..    Bxf5!
40. Qxf5??   ……

I’m no grandmaster, but not accepting the sacrifice and returning the rook to c1 seems to hold for a while.
40. …..    Qxg3+
41. Kh1   Rb2

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

It's Our Game!

It was 1970 at the US Junior Invitational Championship. The top eight under-21 year olds were in their first round games, slugging it out. The tournament was being held at the old McAlpin Hotel in New York City. All was quiet, with only the tournament director and one spectator looking on.
And then he walked in. As players looked up, and then rudely interrupted their opponent’s concentration to alert their opponent – everything stopped. It was surreal for about 3 minutes.
Then everyone continued resumed their games as though nothing had happened.
A 27 year old Bobby Fischer in a sports jacket and carrying papers under his arm had walked in. He moved quietly around the room looking at the games in progress. He then walked over to the TD table, stood there and surveyed the room, with a look of complete tranquility.
Miraculously, in minutes, every game was finished even though they were nowhere near time control. Then there was the inevitable gathering around the TD table like thirsty elephants to a watering hole.
“Let’s look at some games,” Bobby said, and all heads wordlessly bobbed up and down. As he quickly set up a board, he told us to call him Bobby. He set down the Russian chess magazines that he carried with him and opened one up. No one could believe this was happening. Here was the chess god getting ready to go over games with us mere mortals, even though he seemed like just a normal guy.
That is, until he started moving the pieces around – in a blur of motion. At some point, he stopped after making a move and stared at the board with a puzzled look. He seemed like a novice who could not quite comprehend the underlying reason for that strategy. Then Bobby asked to no one in particular, “I wonder why he did that?”
Eventually a young master wanting to impress, offered a plausible explanation. Something like, “Maybe he wanted to do ‘such and such’, but was afraid his opponent would do ‘this and this’, so he prepared first…with that.”
Fischer immediately shrugged that off with, “No, that doesn’t work because…,” and he reached out for the pieces and …zoom, zoom, swish, zoom, zoom! His hands were moving so fast you could barely follow the sequence. It was like a movie on fast – forward. When he finished moving the pieces, Bobby inquired, “Right?”
Who was going to argue? Everyone just nodded or said ‘right’, in a soft tone. No one really understood what he just showed us, but none of the brightest young stars at this time could dispute him. Most were just paralyzed in disbelief as to what they just witnessed.
It was not the sheer speed of his actions – though that was certainly impressive on its own – but the effortlessness and naturalness in which he exhibited his understanding of the position. It seemed as normal as breathing to him. As though it was all as simple and straight-forward as ‘of course this is what happens if you do that.’
One of the masters later confided to the group that he had analyzed with a number of grandmasters, and they were not even close. “They may come to the same conclusion – eventually - but they have to work at it.”
With Bobby Fischer, it was not like that. It was like he had a special key to a room with all the answers to chess puzzles. Maybe he had to dig a little under a little clutter, but he didn’t have to break down the door to get in.
He did this for several more games and positions and he seemed to get faster at moving the pieces. It became a game as all the young men took turns taking a guess at a position, and having Bobby say, “No, no….that would not work because…..,” and then us saying “Oh, yeah. Right Bobby.” The young players rotated the chance to be good-naturedly pummeled. Bobby encouraged them all to participate.
Piecing it together later, the young masters were not the only ones who benefited from the encounter. Fischer probably saw these young men as companions in an alien world. He probably felt more comfortable among them, because unlike the media and non-chess players – they shared his world. The world of our game.
[Editor’s note: Isn’t that really the draw of a chess club? Regardless of our skill level, we all have one thing in common; it’s OUR game!]
Hat tip to Harold J. Winston (spectator in the room) and Chess Life, August 1989

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Eight Made it on a Rainy Monday

A small but enthusiastic crowd for a rainy night.

Summer is usually a tough time for a chess club. There are so many seasonal things to do and things that start. But LCCC is here when the "chess bug" bites.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

When a Real War Interrupted the Chess Wars

War is basically chess……. conducted with real people.
Fortunately, most of the time, the two never arrive at the same place. We are coming up on the 100 year anniversary of when they did collide.

Mannheim (Germany), 1914 attracted many of the greatest names in chess history all to one tournament. Richard Reti, Yefim Bogolyubov, Carl Carls, Hans Fahrni, Alex Flamberg, David Janowski, Walter John, Jacques Mieses, Erhardt Post, Rudolf Spielmann, Savielly Tartakower, Milan Vidmar were in attendance.

The new title of “Grandmaster” had just been established and the first three given that title; Alexander Alekhine, Frank Marshall, and Siebert Tarrasch were also present. Eighteen players total.

Everyone was there to compete for the 2000 marks in prize money, put up by Carl Benz. But all were also apprehensive about being there as just three weeks before, Archduke Francis Ferdinand had been assassinated in Sarajevo, and Europe seemed heading for a world war.

No one wanted to contemplate that however and with this threat hanging over their heads, the tournament began.

By the eighth round, Austria had declared war on Serbia, and Vienna had called for mobilization of forces. As the 10th round began, Germany declared war on France and Russia, and the first World War was underway. Who’s troops would arrive first in Mannheim? Can you imagine the tension and fear?

Shots rang out in the distance, which caused American Frank Marshall to run to a cellar to hide. Only after glasses and glasses of brandy and assurances that it was only target practice, did he emerge.

It was too late to save the tournament. After 10 rounds, they paid the players with Alekhine getting 1st place.

With no place to go, the players waited for their fate. As the German army arrived in earnest, the Russian players were taken into custody. Bogolyubov and Flamberg spent the rest of the war playing tournaments while under house arrest.

Alekhine somehow slipped away, while Spielmann and Tartakower found themselves in Austrian army uniforms.

Frank Marshall made it to Dutch border and arrived in Amsterdam after many “adventures”. His baggage was lost, but miraculously turned up in New York five years later!

At least chess had a ‘happy’ ending as all that participated in that fateful tournament, survived the war and lived to see history repeat itself at the 1939 Chess Olympiad in Buenos Aires.

Hat tip to Andy Soltis and Chess Life, August 1989.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Wasting Moves (Time) in the Opening

You have two weapons when you start a chess game; Time and Material. With these, you try to gain more of both of those, and add another weapon; Space!

We all know that wasting material (losing pieces) is a quick way to lose. But if you waste your moves (Time), it is just as bad!

Wasting your moves allows your opponent to get more "material" into an attack on you, and also gain Space in your territory. Now your opponent has all three weapons working and you only have some of your Material working. Not a very successful way to fight a battle.

Vince shows how to exploit the advantage his opponent gave him early in the opening:
White: The Villian
Black: Vince V. (LCCC)

1. e4   d5
2. exd5   Nf6
3. Bc4   Nxd5
4. d3     ……..
[Vince: "Why not d4?"] Ed. Note: Good question Vince. But d3 is playable, even if it does allow Black’s more aggressive next move.

4. ….   e5
5. h3 ?!  
There is no reason to weaken the King-side pawn structure for no reason. White should be developing his own pieces and not be worrying so much about stopping Black from making moves.

5. ….    Bc5
6. Nf3   Nc6
7. O-O    O-O
8. a3?   ……

After 8. a3?

A waste, like White’s move #5. Only this time instead of giving Black a slight lead in development, it allows Black the attacking initiative. Wasting moves is never a good idea.

8. …..    Nf4
9. Nc3   Nxh3+

This sacrifice looks pretty, but may not be sound. White should be able to turn the tables with 10. Ng5! Bxf1, 11. Qh5 h6, 12. Bxf7+ and Black is in some trouble of his own.

10. gxh3   Bxh3
11. Re1    Bg4
12. Kf1??  …..
The losing move. 12. Be3 was needed to prevent any more of Black’s troops from arriving. And look at what little SPACE White seems to have to move around in.

12. …..    Nd4!
13. Bd5   c6
14. Be4   f5
15. Ne2   ……

[Vince: Now it looks like any way Black captures it wins!]

15. …..     Nxf3
16. Bxf3   Bxf3

And the pin on White's Queen is still there!

17. Qd2   Qh4
18. Ng3   Qh3+
19. Kg1    Qg2 mate

Moral of the game: Develop your pieces, and don’t fall behind in that race. Vince simply got more soldiers into the game than his opponent did, and did it faster!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Fourteen Players on a Beautiful May Evening

While Ken L. and Mike K worked on the soon to be released website for some of the evening, the rest of us settled in for some chess action.

We welcome another new player – Dean Y. – to the LCCC fold. Great to have you here!

Sitting at the entrance table was our United States Chess Federation affiliation certificate. We are hoping to get a spot on the wall near the door to hang the frame.

There is more club news. We have been invited so some LCCC’ers will be heading to the Flint Chess Club soon to check them out. Talk is in the wind of a home and home – club match series. That will be fun!

Visiting some tournaments – both in state and out – was also discussed. It would be exciting to see how LCCC does as a “team” out there against “the world”!

As always, LCCC is open to the public, so come on in and join the fun. We offer free chess lessons, and opponents at all skill levels. Stop on by!

Friday, May 11, 2012

LCCC Joins the United States Chess Federation! And a Fine Win for an LCCC’er.

The Livingston County Chess Club is now an Affiliate of the United States Chess Federation (USCF). We are now listed on their nation wide “club” list.
Our website will display that fact.

As will our business cards, letter head, corporate offices and corporate jet……as soon as we get them.

Here is an easy win for Jason (mycroft)

Site "Internet Chess Club"
[White "mycroft" - LCCC]
Black "elmothegreat"
Result "1-0"
[WhiteElo "1858"]
BlackElo "1855"
Opening "Bishop's opening/Petrov: Urusov gambit"
ECO "C24"

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nf3 d5 5. exd5 Bg4 6. O-O c5
[It is rarely good to protect extended pawns like this, especially in open games (where the center isn't blocked).]

7. Re1+ Be7 8. c3
[This is how you typically exploit moves like 6. .. c5.  The logic goes like this: c5 was meant to protect d4, and if black plays dxc3 he invalidates the time he spent on c5 AND he accelerates my development. Meanwhile, I'm threatening to blow up his center with cxd4.]

8. …..O-O 9. cxd4 cxd4 10. Qxd4 Bxf3 11. gxf3
[Time to take stock: black has inflicted pawn damage on white, but white way ahead in development. Rybka says it's even, but all it takes is a few bad moves and black is busted.]

11. ….. h6?
[More time wasting. He should finish his development with Nc6.]
Ed. Note: This is a speed game. Black has no game plan and doesn’t want to waste time to think of one. So he opts for a “safe” move that actually weakens the wall in front of his king.

12. Nc3 a6?
[Most likely lost at this point. Still Nc6 is OK. Too much wasted time. Now white's attack comes fast.]
Ed. Note: If you have no plan in a speed game, an “attack” or “development” move if preferable to a “safe” move. At least give your opponent SOMETHING to chew on.
13. Kh1 Bd6?

[He needed to leave the Be7 to guard f6. Losing move according to Rybka.]
Ed. Note: Well, Black has designs on h2 by getting his queen to h5. But he never gets the opportunity.

14. Rg1? [Inaccurate as 14. Bxh6 was already decisive.] 
14. ……  Kh8

[A bad move in a bad position. 14. .. g6 was the only try. Now white's attack crashes through on the dark squares.]
 Ed. Note: Four bad moves in a row is enough to crush Kasparov or Fischer, let alone Elmo the Great! Elmo just wasted TIME (tempos) on the chess board to save TIME on the clock.

15. Ne4 b6 [I'm not sure what this does at all, but it's a chess move :-)]

16. Bxh6 gxh6 17. Nxf6 Be7 18. Qh4 {Black resigns} 1-0

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Monday Attendance Ties Our Record!

 Twenty players were on hand Monday. It was a great turnout!

We welcomed two new players to the club;
EJ and Grant

and saw the return of one of our strongest players;
Andrew S.

It’s an exciting time at LCCC. We are growing, our website is nearing completion, and there are discussions taking place as to whether or not to join the United States Chess Federation and/or the Michigan Chess Association as a club.

Discussions are also being held as to who will be the official Tournament Directors for the LCCC. This is a huge step for the club and an awesome responsibility to undertake. Exciting stuff going on as the LCCC continues to grow.

LCCC by the numbers:

We have made the fifty (50) member mark! We have 50 names, emails and/or phone numbered members. This is great, but way short of our “stretch” goal of…let’s say….20 million members.

Ok, that might be a bit high, but you get the idea!

We have 38 active members, and another 12 that have not visited our new location as of yet.

All really this means is that every Monday night at the Hartland Senior Center, you will find friendly chess players of all ages and strengths, ready for a game with you. Stop on by.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

LCCC Rolls on, and LCCB is International!

Fifteen players made to LCCC on a rainy Monday night.

We welcome back Tom H. to the action and we send a slightly early Happy Birthday out to our club manager, Ken L.

You may or may not have noticed, but we changed the blog’s name, swapping out “Club” for “Blog.” That is because we have a LCCC website being constructed thru the efforts of Mike K and Jason M.

I got a chance to peek, and I have to say it is looking great! All of this effort is to serve the chess community to the best of our ability.

The blog will still be here for news, your comments and some old fashioned chess articles.

I would like to also blow our own blog horn for a minute. The LCC Blog is international! We get traffic from the United States and Canada of course, but also:

From Europe: Germany, United Kingdom, Serbia and the Netherlands.

From Russian Territories: Russia, Latvia

From the Far East: Australia, Malaysia and Indonesia

It’s a start, but we will keep working to add even more countries, states, provinces, cities, towns and townships.

Thanks to all our readers for your support.