Wednesday, July 31, 2013

LCCC at the US, Open – Day 5

Six Day Schedule top players.
The six – day schedule guys got started tonight – which includes your humble scribe.

As you can see, some more “big” names arrived to challenge for the title.

Now that the kid’s tournaments have finished, the eight electronic boards that show the top games LIVE on line, are now split between the 9-day and the 6-day top boards.

The link to watch or review games that have been played on the top boards can be found at   uschess .org/tournaments/2013/usopen .
I am sure you can find it from there.

I missed my online poker league round tonight to play chess at the same time on a Tuesday evening. Maybe Tuesday night is the problem, because the result was the same – I got crushed and left with nothing.

I was playing black versus a young man Troy Zimmerman, from Wisconsin, rated 2008. My rating is a paultry 1513, but I have been studying my responses to both e4 and d4 and I should be ready to at least hang in there for a while.

1.    c4
And then panic set in!
  1. ….   Nf6
  2. g3     d5
  3. cd     Nxd5
  4. Bg2   c6
  5. Nf3    Bf5
  6. O-O   h6
  7. d5      Nb4?
As I played this move I literally could hear my coaches back at LCCC screaming from outside the cage (or ropes if you are a boxing fan instead of a UFC fan) screaming “Don’t do it! He’s setting you up!” But I didn’t hear them until the knight was on it’s way to try and trap the rook on a1. Yeah right, 2000 players fall for this all the time.
      8. Ne1   e6
I saw this but still thought I was ok. Well I was not. Lesson: never give tempos to 2000 players who know their openings and have White against you. Bad things will happen to you.
9. e4   Bh7
10. Be3   Nd7
11. a3    Na6
12. Nc3  Nf6
13. Nd3  Nc7?!
Well my knight is back home from his vacation but at such a cost. Five moves where White has developed and Black has shuffled pieces. And …Be7 was needed here.
14. Qb3  Rb8
The battle for the d5 square is in full engagement, but my poor a-pawn is asking “What about me?”
15.  h3   ……
Calmly playing a move to keep my knight from harassing his bishop x-raying my pawn at a7.
15.  …..    Be7
16.  Rfd1  O-O
17. Rac1   b6
After 17.  ....   b6
I love this man’s game. He keeps loading up and does not start pawn gobbling until he has his entire army engaged. Very nice! But I thought I may have found a way out of this. I took a long time on this move (12 minutes), and although it got fuzzy, I maybe saw a couple scenarios where I was even or only down a pawn, but either way had counter-play. The third scenario was not so good but I thought I still could battle on. So I went with it.
18. Ne5   Qe8
19. Qa4    Nb5!
My opponent took 22 minutes on his reply. I was sure he was making sure that his assault would not backfire. I could tell that he had missed my 19th move. If Nxc6, my Nxc3 looks difficult for him, because with the c3 knight gone, his e-pawn is hanging. He looked concerned for the first time. It is a small victory taken from a stupidly played opening by yours truly.
20. Nxb5     cb
21. Qxa7    Bd6?
I was planning on playing Ra8 in this position back on move 17 during analysis when everything was getting foggy. But the bishop move looked better - for some reason that eludes me now - so I was probably right the first time. But I don't think it would have mattered.
By the way, my opponent has only 20 minutes now to make it to 40 moves, so I try to give him something to think about. But he only uses 5 minutes the rest of the way.
22. Nc6    Bxe4
23. Bxe4   Nxe4
24. Nxb8   Bxb8
25. Qxb6   f5
26. Rc6   Rf6
27. Rdc1   Qg6
28.  Qxb8  Kh7
29. Rc8   Qh5
30. Rh8+  Kg6
31. Rxh6+   Resigns
Well I have two rounds a day starting tomorrow. I will try to blog something in the morning. Probably the best of the two games played – win or lose.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

LCCC at the US Open - Day 3, Day 4 of Tourney

Thought I would give you a look at the top players at the tournament - so far. I say - so far - because the 6 - day schedule starts tonight and a few higher rated players may join this nose bleed group.

Hey, wait a minute! I don't see my name!

Oh, that's right. I start tonight also. That explains it.

Yeah, right.

 Why is my state always the toughest in the country?

Michigan is always in the top five of virtually any category you want to name in the country.

Did you know we lead the nation in charity giving per capita almost every year?

Chess is no different.

Safal Bora is playing for the High School US Open Championship as I type!

Apurva Virkud is also playing for the title in the Girl's National Invitational Tournament!

Michigan is always a strong force to be reckoned with no matter what the competition is.

It must be the water.

Look at the ratings of these kids!!


And then there is Edward Song bringing up the rear in the K-8 Championship.
Yeah, he is only tied for THIRD going into the last round!

So let's re-cap. Michigan is tied for 1st twice and tied for the three tournaments that are running!!

Just complete domination. No other state can claim this type of performance.

And then, another little personal note. I was browsing thru the chess store.......again.....but I am showing some restraint. It was only browsing session #14 in the 3 days I have been here. Something about looking chess sets and chess books......
Anyway, I am looking at a book "My 100 Best Games" by Alexey Dreev. I noticed that his style is similar to mine and he plays openings with Black I play and I am thinking about buying it. Maybe before I leave. I - of course don't need it. I have close to 100 chess books now I don't have time to digest.
But ......I've picked it up to flip thru it on probably 10 of the 14 browsing trips I've made. So, I'm probably ready to shell out the $30 + tax for it eventually. There are 5 copies there so I am not worried they will all walk off - like my bargain chess board did - should I delay.
The Proprietor walks by and says "You want that one?"
I say in my strongest negotiating tactics voice, "Yes, but I'll probably pick it up later. Can you hold it for me?"
I was playing hard to sell, and he fell for it.
He said, "I'll tell you what. You bought a board from us. How about $20 out the door right now?"
Guess he didn't know who he was messin' with.

LCCC at the US Open – Day 2

$6 Scholastic
Today was practice day. A little warm up with a game in 30 minute Quad. The results of that little event will follow.

I first have to clear up a minor mistake. The chess retailer at the US Open is Rochester Chess Center from Rochester, New York. Their website is  “chessset dot com”. The signs in the lobbies and on the door leading into the room where they are set up says “The Chess Store” – so I assumed it was the same folks on line with that name. Not so.
$10 upgrade
Rochester Chess Center has supplied the chess sets for the US Open as part of the agreement with the US Open to be the chess vendor at the event. Since nearly 500 sets and boards are needed, this is no small commitment.

As I looked around, watched some games and then played in the quad event, I noticed that there are THREE different sets in use. In picture order, The scholastic set ($6) – made by Rook-Pawn Products is the most supplied – probably 400 of the sets.

Then there is the other standard plastic set – also from Rook – Pawn ($10)

Almost wood.

And last the “wood” sets used on the electronic boards on the top boards. They are not real wood, but a composite and I did not find out who made those.

All three sets are very light weight. Almost feel hollow.

Another strange thing is that the kid’s scholastic top boards have the electronic boards and wood pieces. The other kid’s tourneys have the $10 sets. The actual US Open boards have the $6 sets on them. Also, the boards are not marked as US Open 2013. They are bland standard green and buff boards. They are treating the kids like royalty - and that is fine by me!

These sets will be sold cheap or simply mothballed for next year’s US Open is what one of the tournament directors told me.

As for my day, it started with a western omelet, hash browns and coffee, and then a review of what to play when I have the Black pieces. 1st round – I have Black! Ah…..memory will be as fresh as possible.

I steal a pawn in the opening and just gobbled another one when this was the position (see diagram). Remember, this is only a 30 minute time limit and both of us have under 5 minutes left.
24. Qd1    c3!
Kind of seals the White King in a pawn tomb.
25. g3?  ……
25.  …..Bc6 straight away probably wins too, but the actual moves I make gives my opponent no chance at counter play. Let’s work on a mate in two.
25.  …..     Qc5!
26. Qc1    Bc6
Better now because the b-pawn has Queen support.
27.  Bg2    Bxg2
28.  Rd1    Bd5
Closing off that open file that I can’t take because of my hanging g – pawn, but also aiming at the a2 square. My opponent makes the final mistake in severe time pressure.
29.  a3?     Qc4!
30.  Rxd5   Qxd5
Taking with the Queen to protect that g-pawn in order to free the rook for guard duty of another hanging pawn.
31. Qg1     Ra8  (told you)
32. Qe3     Qd1 +
33.  Ka2??    Qxc2+
34.  Ka1      Qb2 mate

In the second round, I drew with the eventual Quad winner. I was a pawn up in a very locked up position and was behind in time 8 minutes to 4. He offered a draw and I took it.

Round three: I had to win – and so did my opponent. The result; we played until just the kings were left on the board. Another draw.

The other game was over and my 2 points out of a possible three was good for second place alone….and worth nothing.

On to dinner at TGIF Friday’s. Ribs and cole slaw with a McDonalds $1 dipped in chocolate cone for dessert. Then back to the hotel to watch the start of Round 3.

Tomorrow starts my US Open round – starting at 7pm. I will study and rest until then.
Wednesday thru Friday will be the killer days. Noon and 7pm rounds. Ouch!

Sorry for the mess of this posting earlier. I need to blog off the newer computer when downloading these many pictures. Good thing I brought two.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

LCCC at the US Open!

Thanks to pkinnicutt, Renny54, Mr. Eagle, malurn, jethro07, sheet of paper, and my son who gave me a nice send off with a little training session and beer at Buffalo Wild Wings.

Mikeniks (chess. Com name) – your humble scribe - arrived at the US Open around noon on day two of the tourney. It was a rainy and chilly ride. The heat was even on in the car for part of the seven hour journey.

Given a choice between a 2nd or 7th floor king size room, the 2nd floor was selected as to avoid the elevator – and get a smidgeon of exercise. After today already I see it will be a lot of exercise – and that is a good thing.

The results from the 1st round were posted from those that played in the nine day event. It looked like the standard GM thru A-player beating the B thru unrated player first round. I’ll report the standings in greater detail after round 6.

There appears to be about 20 players from Michigan of the 600+ entered so far.

I did get a look at the playing hall (named “Michigan” by the way). It is an eerie calm – right before the, well, eerie calm of a chess tournament.

There were games getting started shortly however, as there are quite a few side events: Weekend Swiss, Bughouse tourney, US Open Scholastic, US 15/G Championship, US Open Blitz, NIT Girls Championship, and daily Quad events.

Made the stop at the Chess Store and saw a beautiful Walnut and Maple board ($125) – marked down to $49 due to a few minor dents on the surface. I thought it was quite a steal and made a note to pick it up after I perused the rest of the boards and books. Not 10 minutes later I went to pick it up – and it was gone! As I said, it was a bargain and I hope it found a good home.

So I opted for a Walnut and Maple folding board – similar to the one Paul Covington had brought to LCCC on his visit. It was more money of course – but after all - it’s VACATION!

Speaking of Paul, I shook hands with him during his round. Obviously we could not talk much, but at least we both know the other is here. Jennifer Skidmore and I also acknowledged that we Michiganders are in attendance (she was also playing at the time).
Girls National Invitational Tournament - 50 states!

My tournament plan is as follows:
30 minute quad tourney for practice on Monday. More preparation is planned also.
Tuesday is study and resting for my 7pm opening round of the US Open.
Wednesday thru Friday is two rounds a day – and that will cover that.
Saturday and Sunday is too far away to worry about as those are the last two rounds – going off at 7pm and 3pm respectively. I should be chessed-out by Sunday evening.

I’ll be posting at least daily and hopefully more often than that. - MN

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Chess Clock – It’s Getting Complicated Out There

My favorite type chess clock.
chess (or game) clock consists of two adjacent clock and buttons to stop one clock while starting the other, such that the two component clocks never run simultaneously.

Game clocks are used in two-player games where the players move in turn. The purpose is to keep track of the total time each player takes for his or her own moves, and ensure that neither player overly delays the game.

Nearly every competitive board game has adopted the “chess” clock.
The first time that game clocks were used in a chess tournament was in the London Chess Tournament – 1883!

The simplest time control is "sudden death", in which players must make a predetermined number of moves in a certain amount of time or forfeit immediately.

The players may take more or less time over any individual move. The opening moves in chess are often played quickly due to their familiarity, which leaves the players more time to consider more complex and unfamiliar positions later.

Analog clocks are equipped with a "flag" (a Dutch invention) that falls to indicate the exact moment the player's time has expired. Analog clocks use mechanical buttons. Pressing the button on one player's side physically stops the movement of that player's clock and releases the hold on the opponent's.

The drawbacks of the mechanical clocks include accuracy and matching of the two clocks, and matching of the indicators (flags) of time expiration. Additional time cannot easily be added for more complex time controls, especially those that call for an increment or delay on every move. However, a malfunctioning analog clock is a less serious event than a malfunctioning digital clock.

In 1973, to address the issues with analog clocks, Bruce Cheney, a Cornell University Electrical Engineering student and chess player, created the first digital chess clock as a project for an undergraduate EE course. Typical of most inventions, it was crude compared to the products on the market 30 years later and was limited by the technology that existed at the time. The clock only had one mode: time ran forward. It could be reset, but not set. It did not count the number of moves. But it successfully addressed the original goals of the project (accurate and matched timing).

Digital clocks and Internet gaming have spurred a wave of experimentation with more varied and complex time controls than the traditional standard.  One particularly notable development, which has gained quite wide acceptance in chess, was proposed by former world champion Bobby Fischer, who in 1988 filed for a US patent (awarded in 1989) for a new type of digital chess clock.
Fischer's digital clock gave each player a fixed period of time at the start of the game and then added a small amount after each move. In this way, the players would never be desperately short of time, but games could also be completed more quickly, doing away with the need for adjournments (in which a game is left incomplete to be finished at a later date).

Although it was slow to catch on, a large number of top class tournaments use Fischer's system, though usually in combination with the more traditional clocks (at lower levels, more traditional clocks are still employed, as they are cheaper). 

There are six main types of time controls: (1) Fischer (invented by Bobby Fischer), (2) Bronstein (invented by David Bronstein), (3) Simple Delay, (4) Game Word and (5) Hour Glass, (6) Simple count down with a fixed amount of time.

The first three time controls implement some sort of delay clock, a small amount of time that is added for each move. The reason is that with a sudden-death time limit, all moves must be completed in the specified time, or the player loses. With a small delay added at each move, the player always has at least that much time to make a move. The two types of delay clocks differ in how the delay is implemented. The last two time controls are somewhat different, as they do not rely on time delay, as explained below.

1) Fischer—before a player has made his move, a specified time increment is added to his clock. Time can be accumulated, so if the player moves within the delay period, his remaining time actually increases. For example, if the delay time is five seconds, and a player has four seconds left on his clock, as soon as his opponent moves, he receives the increment and has nine seconds to make a move. If he takes two seconds to move, on the start of his next move he has twelve seconds. There is also a variant of this time control that adds the delay after a player makes his move (Fischer after), so the delay is added to the player's remaining time and is available for his next move. If however time runs out during his move, the game ends without the delay time being added. This variant prevents the player who is in time-trouble to take advantage of the extra-time.

2) Bronstein delay—with the Bronstein timing method, the increment is always added after the move. But unlike Fischer, not always the maximum increment is added. If a player expends more than the specified increment, then the entire increment is added to the player's clock. But if a player has moved faster than the time increment, only the exact amount of time expended by the player is added. For example, if the delay is five seconds, the player has ten seconds left in his clock before his turn and during his turn he spends three seconds, after he presses the clock button to indicate the end of his turn, his clock increases by only three seconds (not five).

3) Simple delay—when it becomes a player's turn to move, the clock waits for the delay period before starting to subtract from the player's remaining time. For example, if the delay is five seconds, the clock waits for five seconds before counting down. The time is not accumulated. If the player moves within the delay period, no time is subtracted from his remaining time. This time control is similar to a Bronstein with time added before the move.

4) Word—it is a sudden death time control, without any increment or delay. The difference here is that when the time expires by dropping to zero, a flag is set, and the clock immediately starts counting up without limit. This time control applies to games where the amount of time used after the allowed time can be subtracted from the player's score as a penalty, such as Tournament or Club Scrabble.

5) Hour Glass—a player loses in this time control when he allows the difference between both clocks to reach the specified total amount. For example, if the total is defined as one minute, both players start their clocks at thirty seconds. Every second the first player uses to think in his moves is subtracted from his clock and added to his opponent's clock. If he uses thirty seconds to move, the difference between the clocks reaches one minute, and the time flag falls to indicate that he loses by time. If he has used twenty nine seconds and then pushes the clock's button, he has one second left on his clock and his opponent has fifty-nine seconds.

6) Count Down – run out of time and you lose. Still my favorite!

As a charter member of the KISS (keep it simple stupid) Club, I still think all that was ever needed - with the invention of the more accurate digital clocks - was slight buzzer and/or light to activate when time ran out, instead of the flag! Right now if feels like you need a college degree in Digital Clock Setting in order to play chess.

But the digital clock is not going away – the analog clock (see picture) is.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Strange but True Chess Facts – and Week 29-13 at LCCC

LCCC had ten players this Monday evening. Not too much to report except a good time was had by all.

In addition, LCCC will be reporting directly from the US Open in Madison, Wisconsin all next week, so look forward to that!

Meanwhile, LCCC member Don J, found this on Bill Wall's Wonderful World of Chess, entitled - Strange But True

Chess has its strange but true stories, just like any other subject. It just seems stranger with the characters we run into with chess.

In the 1930s, the California School of the Blind defeated the California School of the Deaf. Who says you need to see the chess board.

When John Quincy Adams was President of the United States, he purchased an expensive ivory chess set and board with his own money and had this set in the White House. However, when he was running for re-election, his opponent, Andrew Jackson, claimed that Adams had wasted money and used public funds to buy gambling equipment (the chess set). I don't know if this affected the election in 1828, but Jackson won the popular vote and the electoral vote that year (won 178 electoral votes to 83 electoral votes for Adams).

Weaver Adams, an American chess master, once wrote a book called WHITE TO PLAY AND WIN. Right after publication of his book, he played in the 1940 US Open and did not win a single game as White. In fact, he won every game as Black, lost three games as White and drew one game as White.

Some chess players can even play other sports. Grandmaster Simen Agdestein of Norway also played professional soccer. Grandmaster Paul Keres played in the finals of his home town Tallinn, Estonia tennis championship and played in the Estonia tennis finals. Sir George Thomas of Britain won the British chess championship twice. He also won the British badminton championship seven times and was a quarter-finalist in tennis at Wimbledon.

Aladdin really did exist. He was one of the strongest chess players of the 14th century.

Alexander Alekhine was so hated in the Soviet Union that his name was frequently left out of news articles and Alekhine's Defense was renamed the Moscow Defense.

Colonel Alexander won the British championship in 1938 and 1956. During World War II, he was a colonel in the British Intelligence and a code-breaker who helped break the German Enigma code. He was prohibited from traveling to any country under Soviet control, which limited his over the board chess play. He thus took up correspondence chess.

Perhaps the only modern king that played in chess tournaments was King Alfonso XIII of Spain. He was king of Spain from 1886 to 1931 and participated in several Spanish chess tournaments in the 1920s. His grandson, Juan Carlos, is now king of Spain.

In the 1930s, one chess tournament in the Soviet Union, the Trade Unions chess championship, had over 700,000 entries.

Chess was the first sport to have a national sports organization in the United States. The American Chess Association was formed in 1857. Baseball was organized as a national sports a few years later.

In 1958 International Master Frank Anderson of Canada was to play in the final round of the Munich Chess Olympiad. But he became ill and could not play. He had to play one more game to meet the minimum requirements of a Grandmaster. Even if he had played and lost, he would made the final norm necessary for the GM title. But he missed the game and the title, and never became a Grandmaster.

Atahuapa was the last Inca emperor of Peru. He was taken prisoner by Pizarro and his men. While in prison, he was taught how to play chess by his guards and became very good at it.

In the 1978 World Chess championship in Baguio, Philippines between Karpov and Korchnoi, the organizers forgot to get a Staunton chess set, the standard for FIDE events. Someone had to drive back to Manila, 150 miles away, and buy a Staunton chess set. It arrived 15 minutes before the first round.

Curt von Bardeleben was the strongest German player of the 19th century. But in 1924, at the age of 62, he committed suicide by jumping out of an upper window of his boarding house in Berlin where he lived in poverty and had no friends.

In 1938 Jack Battell lost all 11 games of the Marshall Chess Club championship and gave up tournament chess for correspondence chess. In a few years, he was the highest rated postal player in the United States.

More next time!

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Amateur's Mind - Final Installment

Alekhine - Marshall - What will a 2100 player do with it?
The premise is that players of different strengths (1500, 1700 and 1800) took over Alekhines position with the white pieces against Marshall, and shared their thought process as they played it against their teacher – IM Jerry Silman. 

The amateurs all went down in flames, while Alekhine won the game kind of quickly against Marshall. The amateur’s rating is in brackets and his comments follow. Jerry’s are [JS].

Now let’s see how an expert handles this position:

[2100] The major imbalance is a kingside majority vs a queenside majority. If White can break the blockade on e5 and push his pawn to e5, his bishop will be more active and his pawns will push the Black pieces back. This will not be easy to accomplish.

On 1. O-O Black can play Nh5 and create a blockade on f4 and my dark squares would be conquered. I have four moves to consider. 1. O-O I already found a response to.  1. Ne2, giving up the b-pawn but I don’t think I can open up the center fast enough to justify the cost of a pawn. 1. Qc2 with the idea of Ne2. This covers the f4 and d4 squares. 1.Qd2 is also possible but Qc2 gives extra protection to the e-pawn.

From Black’s point of view, he wants to maintain his blockade and prevent f4. He doesn’t want to castle queenside as there are several open files. Black could try to work on the e4 pawn but that might be too slow. He should probably try and use his queenside majority and get his king to safety with O-O.

[JS] Nicely done! He was off on his assessment of where Black should castle, but his efforts to take the dark squares away from Black is highly praiseworthy. Notice how he looked for ways Black could fight against his plans. That was something the C thru A players did not do.

1.      Qc2    Bd7
[2100] Now I will take away those squares on f4 and d4.

[JS] Notice how the other players never even mentioned the existence of squares. Any class player will make great strides if he realizes that the control of individual squares is as important as any other strategy in the game.

2.      Ne2    Bc6
3.      f4       Qa5+
[2100] I knew he was going there. If 4. Qd2 he can simply trade. 4. Nc3 is my best option. The knight has done it’s job allowing me to play f4. After Nc3, I can castle queenside and get my kingside majority into play.

4. Nc3    O-O-O
5. O-O-O
[JS] Though White’s play was not the very best, he came up with a logical plan and this sufficed to give him a good position with a safe king and an active central majority.

1)      Don’t become entranced in your own plans. You must also consider your opponent’s possibilities and gauge just how dangerous they really are.
2)      Part of your plans should be to prevent his goals. For example, you may be playing to take advantage of a weak pawn, but you should also take time to prevent your opponent from posting his knight on a good square.
3)      In an open position, the first person to dominate an open central file will usually gain the initiative.

Hope you enjoyed the series!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Week 28 – 13 This Monday was Special at LCCC!

Paul (left) takes on Aaron while Gus watches.
We had seventeen (17) participants on a stormy and rainy evening. 

It was a fun evening of chess - and story-telling - as we had a surprise visitor to the Club.

Paul Covington, from Colorado, is traveling the United States in his mobile home with his lovely wife Nell. He is visiting at least one chess club in each state and playing in tournaments along the way!

Paul picked LCCC for his Michigan stop because he saw us on the United States Chess Federation club listing, and had read on this blog what a nice facility we have for chess. Since we are not exactly on the state border and Paul’s next tournament is in Chicago, LCCC is proud he visited us!

Mr. Covington took on most of the top players in attendance at LCCC in some 10 minute chess and he gave as good as he got. Everyone had a great time and Paul’s stories of his travels and experiences in chess tournaments across the country were entertaining to listen to.
Paul stated he was impressed with the age ‘variety’ we have at LCCC – which he noticed stretches all the way from grade school to graduating “gray” school.

Paul has a website – PaulsChessMarch .com– so you can check that out. He and his wife  are blogging about their trip and posting pictures of his travels. He says they are having a blast! Thanks for visiting LCCC Paul!

The Covingtons will also be at the US Open in July-August, along with LCCC's club president. So our paths will cross again!

Editor's Note: Sorry for the delay in posting. Serious computer programs almost wiped everything out. But all is fine again. Just two days of repair is all. The Amateurs Mind final installment will be here soon!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

LCCC Week 27 – 13 and Installment 4 of The Amateur’s Mind

There were ten players in attendance tonight on a hot, sometimes rainy night. But it was cool and dry inside LCCC where some good chess and conversation was had.
Chess games of all kinds were played – from speed to G/60 min, with lots of mingling of players.
Two new players made their first showing at LCCC. Welcome Gus (Octavio) S. and Tim R. Glad to have you join us on Monday nights.
Starting position of the lesson: Alekhine - Marshall, 1925
Now on to the new installment. Your humble scribe posted the review of the 1800 player’s assessment and play before the 1700 player's – which will be shown now.
Sorry for the mix up, but it won’t kill the lesson.

Three installments have been posted. We are taking a position (see diagram) from an Alekhine – Marshall game in 1925. First we showed how Alekhine masterfully turned White’s small opening advantage into an 18 move crush.
We then showed how a 1500 and a 1800 turned that same position into a probable loss against IM Jeremy Silman. Silman wrote this article for Chess Life back in 1993 and it is re-printed here for your enjoyment.
IM Silman’s notes are marked with [JS] and the student’s [rating] show his thoughts. In this installment we will see how an [1700] player approached this same position.

[1700] White has a pawn majority on the kingside. Black’s pieces are farther advanced, but with a bit less development. White’s pawn majority gives him a space advantage on the kingside so Black would be advised to castle on the queenside. White will castle kingside and play f4.

[JS] White realized that Black should not step into the brunt of White’s onrushing pawns. This is excellent. However, like the student before him (1500), White fails to see potential weakness of the dark squares in the center. This seems to be a typical weakness of the amateur player. He can see tactical threats to win material or go after the king, but he has real trouble seeing that a SQUARE can also be a target.

1.  O-O    Be6
[1700] If I play f4 he can check me with Qd4, but he has to move his queen because he can easily lose it to a bishop discovery on b5. He could also check me on c5, where his queen might be a little safer. But I can just move out of the way and continue my attack.

[JS] The student tended towards excessive optimism. While confidence is important to have, you also need a touch of realism. Like the 1500 player before him, he is not really giving the possibilities of his opponent a thorough examination.

In general, the initiative in open positions will go to the player who is the first in control an open central file. In the game by Alekhine, he went ahead with his pawn expansion ONLY AFTER stopping any counter-play on the d-file.

2. f4      ..........
[1700] It looks risky for Black now.

2.  .......    Qd4+
3. Kh1   O-O-O
4. Bc2    ..........
[JS] Incredibly, we reached the same position as the 1500 game, and the student soon blundered.

4.  ......     Bc4
5. Re1     Qf2
6. Qc1     Rd2
White resigns. 

Next is the final installment where we see how a 2100 player looks at and handles the same position. 
Was Alekhine better than 2100? We will soon see. Vote now in the comment section.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Amateur’s Mind – Part 3

Two installments have been posted. We are taking a position from an Alekhine – Marshall game in 1925. First we showed how Alekhine masterfully turned White’s small opening advantage into an 18 move crush.

We then showed how a 1500 turned that same position into a probable loss against IM Jeremy Silman. Silman wrote this article for Chess Life back in 1993 and it is re-printed here for your enjoyment. IM Silman’s notes are marked with [JS] and the student’s [rating] show his thoughts. In this installment we will see how an [1800] player approached this same position.

[1800]  I like White. He has his minor pieces out and he has a pawn controlling the center. He has both the Queen-file and a Queen-bishop file to work with. He has a pawn majority on the King-side while Black has one on the Queen-side. We have to kill his majority and get ours going. How do we do this?
1. Qb3 slows his development, but he just goes ….b6 and fianchettos. At some point I could play b4 stopping his pawns. But I can’t do this at the moment so I’ll just castle and prepare to get my own pawns going with f4.
[JS] As a higher rated player, he looked deeper than the other two. Never the less, his error is basically the same. By seeing the game as some mad race between rival majorities, he fails to take into account other possibilities for Black and falls to the same pressure on the d-file of which the others ran afoul.
1.  O-O     Be6
[1800] He has a pin coming up but there is nothing he can do with it yet. I’ll get my majority rolling.
[JS] Like the 1700 player, he sees Black’s first move but discounts it’s usefulness.

2. f4    Qd4+
3. Kh1   O-O-O
[1800] I’m pinned and I don’t see any counter play for me.
[JS] Here we go again! All the players saw the punch coming, but did nothing about it. They refused to give it credence until it kicked their teeth in.
How can C to A players avoid this type of position reversal? By working harder at the chessboard than these players did. They only gave the position a cursory examination. It’s good to come up with an aggressive plan for yourself, but you have to take a look at what your opponent can do. Then work to stifle his initiative, before or while creating your own. Go back and study Alekhine’s method for doing this.

4. Bc2   …..
[1800] I need to consolidate and this does it.

4. ……    Qe3
[1800] He’s in my position and I don’t know what to do!
[JS] A once confident commander of the White pieces succumbs to panic.

5. Qf3   Qxf3
6. Rxf3   Rd2
[1800] Black stands better. I need to sacrifice a pawn and get out of this bind.
[JS] White is a little too eager to give up material. Your position may be unpleasant, but you must hold on tight and refuse to give up anything!

7. Bb3  Rxb2
In Part 4, we will look at how a 1700 player handled this position.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

LCCC Week 26-13 and an Amateur’s Mind Installment

It was a rainy night and we had ten players. A disappointing turnout considering the weather, but that happens sometimes. It was still a nice night of chess.
Just a reminder to everyone thinking of stopping by; there is no cost what so ever to come on in and play some chess on Monday night. We do graciously take a $1 donation if you would like to donate to the Hartland Senior Center to cover the cost of the lights and building, but it is not mandatory.
So, stop on by and get reacquainted with the best game in the world.

Now back to the article by IM Jeremy Silman:  Amateur’s Mind: a 1500’s Analysis:
Take a look a post back and we showed a game between Alekhine (White) and Marshall (Black) and how Alekhine knew what was important in the position and won a fine game. Here, a 1500 player (not your humble scribe by the way) takes the same position against Jeremy, and can’t hold it. The speaker is in brackets
[1500] White has a space advantage. Black has the more active queen, but it could turn out to be a target. White can activate his majority with tempo by playing f4. How to do this?  I’ll castle and then play f4.
[JS] To his credit, he notices the advantages that an active central majority can bring. Unfortunately, he neglects to take Black’s plans into account.
1. O-O   Be6
2. f4      Qd4+
It is worth noting here that Alekhine was very careful not to give his opponent this square!
3. Kh2    O-O-O
[1500] I should have prevented this! I’ll play 4. Rf3. What else can I do? No, that is too passive.
4. Bc2    Qe3
[1500] Can’t play 5. Qe2 because of Qxe2 and then 6…..Rd2. I need to trade queens!
5. Qf3   Qxf3
6. Rxf3   Rd2
[1500] Ouch! Now I have to defend my bishop.
[JS] Ever since Black placed his queen on d4 and castled queenside, White has forgotten his own plans and done nothing but fend off his opponent’s threats. This all stemmed from White’s refusal to look for Black’s plan on the first move.
Next installment: A view from a 1700 player. Let's see how he does.