Thursday, August 29, 2013

Week 34.5 – Club News and Bobby Fischer’s #7 Grandmaster

As stated before, the LCCC chess league is a go and will be bigger and better than ever!  Twenty-eight players have signed up to play at this writing!

September 9, at 9pm is the deadline for entry. If you have not let us know you want in by then, the best you can hope for is an alternate spot should someone drop out.

The league will start on a later Monday in September to be announced later.

In addition, September 9 will be the re-birth of the Ladder Tournament! All the current active members will be placed on the ladder in random order to get it started again. That alone will have entertainment value and club camaraderie written all over it!

How will the random order be done? Well, the law firm of Dewey, Cheetem and Howe will oversee the accounting firm of Lybad, Hyde and Skimoff – as they place the players on the ladder.
I’m sure it will be fine.

Now for Bobby Fischer’s number seven grandmaster of all time (circa 1964 list):

Jose Raoul Capablanca
“The glamour boy of world chess. Capablanca had been champion of Cuba at age 12. And from that time until his death in 1942, he had the totally undeserved title (as Petrosian does today) of being the greatest living endgame player.

Well, I recall a game he played against Vera Menchek in which he made three colossal blunders in the endgame. [Editor Note: Vera was an attractive woman and Capa was quite the ladies man. Fischer may be acknowledging that fact with the next statement.]

While, not typical of Capablanca's play, it is representative of the fact that Capablanca did not know the simplest Rook – Pawn endings. The story goes that he played over thousands of Rook and Pawn endings, but I cannot believe this is true.

Capablanca was among the greatest of chess players, but not because of his endgames. His trick was to keep openings simple, and then play with such brilliance in the middle game that the game was decided – even though his opponent didn’t always know it – before they ever arrived at the endgame.

Capablanca never really devoted himself to chess,   and seldom made preparations for a match.
(Ed. Note: Fischer's pet peeve - natural talent that other's had. Fischer had talent too, but he also worked extremely hard to get where he got. To many, the game just came easier to them than it did even to Fischer.)

His simplicity was a myth. His complete lack of book knowledge forced him to push harder and try to squeeze the most out of every position.

Every move he made had to be super-sharp so as to make something out of nothing. His play was forced. He had to try harder than everyone else because he had so little to begin with. He matured early and played his best chess in his twenties.”

Wow. No wonder Fischer never considered Cuba for exile. It would not have been a safe haven for him. Capablanca’s name is a god-like there.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

LCCC Week 34 – 13; League is Definitely a GO!

Teeko's Coffee and Tea, NE corner of Grand River and Latson Rd.
We had twelve players on a beautiful summer night! Lots of casual games played, while discussions of the Michigan Open, future tournaments, the upcoming club league and the return of The Ladder filled the air! Even talk of adding a Thursday night addition to the club!

 We will have over a half dozen representatives at this weekend at the Michigan Open from what is sounded like. And LCCC is not done heading to tournaments as there was plenty of discussion about plans to go to other upcoming events.

All this is a great indication that the LCCC league - and regular club nights - will be well attended. There is no better place to practice and discuss your games than at the club!

 The League Rules are set. The League Committee has been selected to establish the ratings of the players entered and make the teams. All we need now is commitment from enough players. We are planning on SIX  4-person teams! We have 17 players signed up as of this writing.

This league – meeting usually once a month - is going to be great fun and a balanced competition, so step up and get in!

There has been discussion of resurrecting The Ladder Tournament. Your humble scribe has always been a fan of this club favorite. If utilized, it gets players of similar strength on a collision course for exciting chess – every week! What is not to like about that? In addition, it gives the lower strength player the ability to try their hand against the slightly stronger players. The Perfect Club System!

The Ladder will return on September 9, with the players being placed on it by a Presidential Executive Order!  
Probably random again.

And, just before going to print! A news flash from our Vice President, Ken L.
“I talked to the friendly owners of Teekos Coffee and Tea, at 751 North Latson Rd, Suite A, at the corner of Grand River and Latson in Howell, and they said we are welcome to play chess at their coffee shop on Thursday night. Just buy a drink and you are in!”

Well that is fantastic news! Ken L and Mike N will be there this Thursday to get a little team study in before the tournament the next day. Maybe some of you LCCC’ers can stop up and check out our new Thursday location!

LCCC just serving the public their federally mandated minimum daily requirement of chess – every chance we get!
Build a mind – play chess!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Chess Clubs are a Broken Cookie

Clubs need the filling!
It’s a strange dichotomy. I think a chess club is two distinct halves of the same cookie - held together by a filling.

Some people think it is the casual chess player that is the backbone of every chess club. But by definition, they are not the steady, hard core players. They are – for whatever reason – part time players. They enjoy the game but it is just another activity – like going to a movie or playing cribbage at the kitchen table. And sometimes other life issues fill their time – going to school, playing other sports, doing other hobbies, raising kids, working and paying the mortgage, etc.
This “club backbone” is as sturdy as over-cooked spaghetti. They fade in and out with the seasons, the fads, the weather, their attitudes, their emotions and their life trials. Chess often takes a back seat to other things in life. This is not a bad thing of course - it is just the way it is.
Some think it is the serious chess player is the backbone of a chess club. One that will fully commit time and effort to play chess, get to chess venues, play in chess tournaments, and shows up in numbers when there is something at stake - and drives the profit in chess. He will shell out money for tournament entry – which is the highest profit generator for most chess clubs.
But serious chess players do not congregate at chess clubs as a rule. They are busy honing their skills privately – on line, in study or working with trusted players of equal or greater strength. When these serious chess players emerge from their training cocoons – they are battle tested - and ready for some “serious” chess.
Serious players are not going to trek to a chess club “for fun” to push wood with beginners or the coffee-house player who just want to play a “friendly” game with chit chat and banter. Their chess time is too valuable - and they leave their study caves to hunt victims - and win tournaments. It is not to make friends necessarily. They know that if they want to play “casually” they can play from their computers at home 24 / 7.
Also, when these strong players do make an occasional visit to the chess club, they often scare away a few casual players - that never knew what hit them (see attitudes-emotions in paragraph 2)! And then the serious player doesn’t return either, since he had no serious challengers. A double hit to the Club.
Never the twain shall meet – but we have discovered that when they do - it’s not good either.  
How do you merge the two amicably?
My opinion is that a Chess Club needs to grow an established roster of “hybrid” players – in numbers of which enough will show every week - as to attract the casual player who decides he wants a chess night out and knows he can find a game “at the club”.
These “hybrids” must have the chess skill to be a teacher and a mentor to new and weaker players, yet be able to “intercept the shark” at the door and give him a decent game should they make an appearance. This club hybrid player need the acumen put their chess night and egos aside and sometimes, sacrifices their chess evening for the good of the club.
Free chess, free parking, free lessons, a good location, great lighting, tables and chairs, a friendly atmosphere and maybe even a free chess set or coffee will attract the casual player. LCCC has all of this. 
Tournaments and club leagues will attract serious players for those events. We have a no-fee league, and are working on possibly holding tournaments. But tournaments don’t build up chess club numbers. They attract sharks.
Maybe it is just a numbers game. How do you attract enough hybrid club players (the cookie filling) to keep the other two parts together and run it all?  How do you attract such a large number of players from which you can cull hybrids from the masses?
By Mike Nikitin, President of the Livingston County Chess Club

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

LCCC Week 33-13 and Bobby Fischer’s Top Ten – No. 8

It was another nice evening of chess with eleven players making an appearance on a beautiful summer night. Some games played, some games played over and analyzed and some lessons learned.  But always a lot of fun!

 We WILL have a league this year. How many teams total or how many rounds have yet to be decided. So there is still time to tell us you want to play in the LCCC league. Plenty of room – so come on in!

 The League will be played on a regular Monday night – but once a month. A set schedule will be distributed so you will know which Mondays are league Mondays.
 And of course even if you are not in the league, there will be players for casual games on those nights.

 Now for Bobby Fischer’s No: 8 selection (picks made 8 years before winning the World Championship);

Boris Spassky
This Russian player makes the list primarily because of his unique style. His game is marked by super-sharp openings. In addition, he has his own openings and little lines which work quite well for him.
Spassky sacrifices with complete abandon.

I recall a game against Bronstein in a Russian Championship. Bronstein attacked Spassky’s rook with a pawn.

Spassky left the rook where it was and made a knight move instead. He lost the rook, sacrificed the knight a few moves later and then mated Bronstein!

In a game I played him a few years ago, he lost a pawn with no compensation. He continued to play like he had lost nothing. While I am trying to figure out what is going on in his head and where the trap door is, I blunder and lose.

Spassky sits there with that same dead expression whether he is winning or losing. He can blunder away a piece and you can never be sure whether it was a blunder or a long deep sacrifice.

He has some weaknesses, but he makes it very difficult to take advantage of them. He doesn’t play closed positional chess well. Still, he always seems to be a little ahead of you on theory.

He rates a place on my list because of his dynamic style.

(Ed. Note: It would be a shame not to mention what a true sportsman Boris Spassky has been. He was pressured by the great Russian Communist machine not to compromise with Bobby Fischer and take all forfeit wins and win the match by helping Fischer default.
But Mr. Spassky insisted on playing Fischer and did not want to stay world champion if he could not beat Fischer over the board.
How much Fischer's antics upset Spassky during the match is open for debate. But no one applauded harder than Spassky when Bobby Fischer took his crown.
And in all the issues Fischer had later in life, the media could not get Spassky to say anything negative about Fischer or their match. Boris Spassky is a true gentleman and a great ambassador for chess!
And lets face facts - without Spassky's class and Fischer's win - there is no Fischer chess boom.)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Games Department
By Jason Morris

Over the next few weeks, we'll look at games from the current World Cup underway in Norway. Some of the big names in attendance include USA GMs Gata Kamsky and Hikaru Nakamura. Of course anyone who follows chess knows about one of the other big names: GM Vassily Ivanchuck, or "Chucky" as he's affectionately known. Were it not for a mercurial streak in his temperament, Ivanchuck probably would have been World Champion at some point already. However, his nerves get the best of him, and he tends to get into time trouble often. Twice rated #2 on the FIDE list and regarded by his peers as a true "chess genius", you never know which Ivanchuck will show up to play. I'm sure much to IM Duda's dismay, it was genius Chucky he was paired with in round 1 of the Cup.

[Event "World Cup 2013"]
[Site "Tromso, Norway"]
[Date "2013.08.12"]
[Round "1.2"]
[White "IM_Duda"]
[Black "GM_Ivanchuk"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2535"]
[BlackElo "2733"]
[Opening "French: Burn variation"]
[ECO "C11"]

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 dxe4

The Burn Variation -- named after Amos Burn, not because black get's burned with it so often in club play.

5. Nxe4 Nbd7 6. Nf3 h6 7. Nxf6+ Nxf6 8. Be3 

8. Bh4 was an alternative, maintaining the pin at f6.

8. .. Bd6 9. Bd3 b6 10. Qe2 Bb7 

Contrast this game with Mike's from the previous blog. Here, fianchettoing the queen bishop makes a lot of sense, particularly the control of e4.

11. O-O-O Nd5 12. Kb1 Qf6 13. Nd2 O-O

Notice that Ivanchuck is in no hurry to take white's Be3 since it has no scope and his knight is a stronger piece.

14. Ne4 Qe7 15. c3 Bf4!

This is part of a plan to play e5, changing the pawn structure to one more favorable to black...a subtle but very masterly plan.

16. g3 Bxe3 17. fxe3 e5 

Position after 17. .. e5

Taking on e5 now would be a positional mistake for white, since black would be leaving himself with an isolated e-pawn on an open file and a huge target on e4. Black could then double or triple his heavy pieces in front of black's e-pawn; and, in conjunction with the Nd5, black would have an easy game. Black, for his part, doesn't want to take on d4 either, for this would simply repair white's pawns. The net effect is that, because of the pawn tension on e5, white can't advance e4 (N is in the way) or c4 (because of Nb4, undermining the Ne4) and this hampers his activity in the center.

Watch now how much Ivanchuck makes of this.

18. Rhe1 Rad8 19. Nd2 Nf6 20. Ba6?! (A bit optimistic, since Chucky won't trade.) Ba8 21. Qc4 Rfe8 22. Bb5?

White's first major error.  Better was the long retreat 22. Qf1 to give the Ba6 some rooom. There was a danger of that bishop being trapped by c6 and b5.

22. .. c6! 23. Bxc6 Rc8 24. d5 (The move white was counting on, but...) Nxd5! 25. Qxd5 Rxc6 26. Qb5 Rd8 27. Ne4 Rcc8 28. Qa4 Qe6 29. Qc2 

It's getting hard to suggest moves -- white's position is slipping away.

29. .. Qg4 30. Nf2 Qh5 31. h4 (31. Rxd8 was necessary) Qf3 32. g4 Rxd1+ 33. Rxd1 Qxe3

Now pawns begin to fall.

34. Qf5 (A desperate try, but it actually hastens the end.) Rf8 35. Rd7 Bf3! 

Cutting the queen's defense to the knight. This interruption-type tactic is one of the most often overlooked IMHO.

36. Nd3 Qg1+ 37. Nc1 (37. Kc2 is somewhat worse because of 37. .. Qd1 mate) Bxg4

And Duda has seen enough. 0-1  Very smooth chess by Ivanchuck.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Time to Sign Up for the LCCC Chess League!

Everyone is welcome to join our chess league!
The League will run from September to probably April or May (to be determined as to how long).
One Team match per month - starting at 7:00pm - on a regular club Monday night. 

Time limit for the games will be G/60 minutes.

There is NO COST to join the league! 
But a $1 donation per round to the Hartland Senior Center would be appreciated - but not mandatory.
Players will be set into teams based on rating (Harkness system used - Terry G keeps the ratings record), making the teams as fair as possible.
It is scheduled to be set up as 3-person teams, with an A, B and C player on each team.
We are hoping to have an 8 team league, but plan on a 6 team league like last year.

But it all depends on the number of players who join! It may be four - 4 player teams, or whatever combination makes sense.
We will set it up as best we can, trying to avoid bye weeks if possible.

Games forfeit rules for no show/no call will be standardized and strictly enforced this year! 
LCCC has three TD's who will oversee the league this year, so it will be the best run chess league since the old Metro League of Detroit.
League nights were the best chess nights last year and we expect the same this year. Come join us for all the fun!

If you cannot attend LCCC as a regular but would make the trip once a month for the league – that is ok too! We will put you on the list and put you on a team if we can – and we probably will be able to!
Just email us or stop by the club one Monday evening before September goes too deep.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

LCCC Week 32-13 and #9 on Bobby Fischer’s Top Ten List

We had 13 players on a rainy Monday night. Actually, I think the all day rain subsided just about the time of our 6pm start. It never rains on LCCC!

Some club news:
Both Ken T and Gus S are ready to serve as club Tournament Directors! So it is a matter of getting an answer from the Hartland Senior Center as to the availability of our location to hold one.

Terry G. is ready to organize and run the LCCC League. Applications will go out shortly. Even if you are not a club member and would like to join our league, please send us an email with your contact information and we will be in touch!

And now: # 9 on Bobby Fischer’s list of the top ten greatest chess masters - as of 1964 that is.
Mikhail Tal

Mikhail Tal

In a game against Smyslov in the 1959 Candidates Tournament, Tal gave away a bishop for nothing, just to develop an attacking formation, and eventually won the game.

It was one of the most unusual sacrifices I have ever seen, and typical of the daring play of this Russian grandmaster.

He is always on the look-out for some spectacular sacrifice. Tal is not so much interested in who has the better game, or in the essential soundness of his own game, but in finding that one shot – that dramatic breakthrough that will give him the win.

Tal is not a sound player, but a brilliant player. Tal has no respect for his opponents and frightens almost every player he opposes.

In honesty, I must say, I was never frightened of Tal, even after my four consecutive losses. And I still say his play was unsound.
[Ed. Note: Hmmm….if you lose four in a row to someone, something is wrong with the soundness of your play. But who am I to argue with Fischer?]

Chess writers are fond of talking about the “rise and fall of Tal”. But Tal never rose as high - or fell as far - as they claim.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Improving Your Chess
by Jason Morris
Hi All LCCC'ers,
I hope all of you are playing some great games while I'm up north. Of course I follow the blog and all the exploits of our members, as well as major events around the chess world.

I'm presenting a game of Mike Nikitin's from the just concluded 2013 US Open. There are a lot of ups and downs in this game, but it has lots of lessons. Mike's opponent was definitely playing above his provisional rating of 882!

Let's get to the action...
[Event "US Open 2013"]
[Round "9"]
[White "Li, Ethan"]
[White Rating "1500 provisonal"]
[Black "Nikitin, Mike"]
[Black Rating "1500"]
[Result "1-0"]
[Opening "French: advance variation"]
[ECO "C02"]

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 b6
In the Advanced French, 3. .. c5 is the normal and best move, striking immediately at d4. Normally, the main point of this move order is to exchange white's light-square bishop with Ba6. Perhaps black missed this idea?

4. f4 g6?!

To seriously improve, I recommend before each move asking yourself, "Does the move I'm about to make.."

a. [ ] Lose material immediately (i.e. am I leaving anything hanging)? <Here, no.>
b. [ ] Weaken squares, particularly around my king? <Here, yes! f6 and h6>
c. [ ] Threaten my opponent's pieces? <Here, not at all>
d. [ ] Threaten my opponent's king? <Here, definitely not>
e. [ ] Improve my control of squares in my camp? <Nope.>
f. [ ] Improve my control of squares in my opponent's camp? <Nope.>
g. [ ] Stop my opponent's threat? <Not really... see below.>
Black may think that g6 stops f5 at some point, but all playing g6 does is ensure that a file will get opened after moves like g4 and f5. It also will form a lightning rod for tactics later as we'll see. Better to defend actively with pieces than to waste a tempo on a move that only encourages your opponent to dynamite your fortress later.

So, let's recap: 4. .. g6 doesn't lose material, but it also carries no threat and it weakens squares.

 5. Nf3 Be7 6. Be3 Bb7?! (See note to move 3. What is this bishop doing?) 7. Bd3 Nd7
This knight is unlikely to have any scope in the middlegame. Why? Look at all the squares it could go to from d7. Nothing is available. When black plays c5 here (he has to at some point), white will play c3 to guard d4. Then black will see one of the drawbacks of this system - white doesn't have to take on c5. In fact, he shouldn't since it's wrong on principle: you don't capture away from the center, and white certainly won't do it after he's invested a move (c3) to protect d4. The normally useful b6 square is unavailable for black's queen to pressure d4 and b2. I can tell you from experience that I've suffered enough with such bad knights to know that they need room to roam! Be careful not to barricade them behind your pawns.

8. Nbd2 Rc8
Before black moved this rook, did he consider the possibility of castling queenside? Black has a space disadvantage on the kingside - castling there after having played g6? is suicide (e.g. imagine a knight landing on f6 and white advancing his f and g-pawns to open the f-file). So, castling queenside is a very French Defense thing to do. But now, black has burned that bridge and his king is stuck in the middle. If I were white, I'd 0-0 then be looking at doubling on the f-file and playing g4 and f5. Black would have no way out of the coming attack with the traffic jam on e7, d7, c7, and c8.

9. Rc1?! (Inaccurate. White's play is on the kingside, and trading rooks along the c-file does not further that plan. After 9. .. c5 10. c3 cxd4 11. cxd4 black has no penetration points on the c-file, and black can really see why Nd7 and b6 were not so good. If b6 was played with the intention of recapturing on c5 with a pawn after dxc5 at some point, then the move was illogical because white won't (shouldn't) do that.

9. .. Nh6
Knowing the general of the black army, I know where this knight is headed ;-)
  • Moving one piece multiple times in the opening = bad
  • Moving one piece multiple times in the opening to capture a bad piece = very bad
Captures in chess are not obligatory. Make trades only with the intention of trading an inferior piece for a superior piece or to retain pieces that are in harmony with your pawn structure. Avoid trading pieces out of a naive sense of value (e.g. bishops are better than knights, rooks are 5 points and bishops are only 3, etc.). A well placed knight can often be worth more than a rook, and a badly placed bishop can be no better than a pawn. In chess, quality trumps quantity.

Author's Note: IMHO -- It is this ability, to be able to discern the instantaneous relative value of each piece and pawn, that separates masters from amateurs. (e.g. when and why is a knight better than a bishop?)

10. Qe2 (Here 10. h3 has a point: it keeps the knight from g4 and it threatens g4 and f5 at some point. Unless black retreats before then, the Nh6 will be hanging. If 10. .. Nf5 then 11. Bf2 and 12. g4 next. 10. c3 is an alternative.)  a5?! 
Black is taking a great risk that his opponent won't notice his king on e8.
11. O-O c5! (Finally!) 12. c3 Ng4 13. h3 
White could have just played 13. Ng5 with more of a threat than 13. h3 gave.

13. .. Nxe3 14. Qxe3 c4?!
The c5 pawn was the thematic pawn lever against the white center. By pushing past to c4, black is effectively conceding the center to white for the rest of the game. If white ever manages to close the queenside, black is likely lost because white has the only effective levers on the kingside and more space in which to work. Plus, white has the superior set of minor pieces (black's Nd7 and Bb7 are not happy). If the black-square bishops are traded, white's advantage would magnify.

15. Bb1 b5

OK, so the fight is transferred to the b-file with b5-b4 on tap. The problem is that beyond that, black doesn't have any meaningful way to invade. If white just allows 16. .. b4 with 17. axb4 axb4, he'll just ignore any further invasive moves and mate black on the f-file. Black has no targets. Houdini rates this position as just about equal, but I'd bet that most masters would say white is much better long-term. In fact, white has the aggressive 16. g4! here with the thematic idea to crack open the f-file.

16. b3? (This is a bad positional move that actually gives black chances! Don't open lines where your opponent has space. White's mistake will ensure that black can create a useful target on the queenside. At the very least, white will have to fight a two-front war whereas before he could have localized the fight to the kingside where he was superior.) Nb6 17. Bc2 Ba6
This is OK, but 16. .. 0-0 or 16. .. b4 immediately were slightly better.

18. Rfd1?! (This is not where this rook needs to be. White is not following the demands of the position by pursuing black on the kingside.) Rc7?! (Just 18. .. 0-0 or 18. .. b4 were better.) 19. a3? (This is an outright mistake that looks tactically cute, but just pitches a pawn.) Bxa3 (20. cxb3 first was better since it avoids the coming complications.) 20. Ra1 b4 21. Nb1 Qe7?

21. .. cxb3! was the best move. This works because now if 22. Bxb3 any and 23. Nxa3, black has Rxc3 forking the Bb3 and Qe3. The queen move tosses most of black's windfall advantage.

22. Nxa3 bxa3 23. b4 (Another inaccurate move. You can see why White should have opened the kingside...he could be hunting black's king by now instead of parrying threats to pawns.) axb4 24. cxb4 Bb5? (Perfectly good was 24. c3! defending the a-pawn tactically by opening the c4 square for the Nb6.)

25. Rxa3 O-O
The smoke has cleared, and amazingly black has finally castled and has a microscopic edge, but...

26. Ng5 Ra7

Position after 26. .. Ra7

Black misses the hidden danger of having an enemy knight so close to his seemingly safe king. White could have turned the tables here with 27. Rxa7 Qxa7 28. f5!!. Black cannot allow the pawn to reach f6 and put him in a mating net, that leaves:
28. .. gxf5 29. Qg3! with a winning attack.
28. .. exf5 29. e6 with the following possibilities
  29. .. f6? 30. e7 Re8 31. Qe6+ Kg7 32. Qf7+ Kh6 33. Qxh7+ Kxg5 34. g3 and mate is next.
  29. .. f6? 30. e7 fxg5 31. exf8=Q+ Kxf8 32. Qe5 and white is threatening a winning king hunt or picking off the black queen with Qh8+.

Taking the pawn is asking for trouble:

  29. .. fxe6 30. Qxe6+ Kh8 31. Re1! is strong. If  instead 30. .. Kg7, then 31. Qd6! and white invades. If black tries to stay active, he comes to grief. 31. .. Re8 is met by 32. Ne6+ Kf7 33. Nc7 and white has some work to do, but he's up a piece.

  So, best apparently is:
  29. .. Qe7 30. Nxf7 (30. exf7+ Rxf7! and white comes up empty handed) Be8 (White is threatening 31. Bxf5!, so black must act fast to eliminate that entrenched knight.) 31. Bxf5! (Anyway! The piece is immune because of 32. Qg3+ and mate in 2.) Bxf7 32. exf7+ Rxf7 33. Be6  Kg7 34. Qe5+ Rf6 35. Re1 c3! and black can just hold a draw.

27. Qc3 (Bad since it misses black's next possibility.) Rfa8 (After the simple 28. .. Rxa3! 30. Qxa3 Ra8 31. Qc3 Ra2 and white is getting paralyzed and the b-pawn will drop.

28. Rda1 Qd7 29. Ra5 Qc6 (Ooof! Here, black should have recalled the first item on my checklist) 1-0
  • Ask yourself what the purpose is of each move in terms of what it does to improve your position.
  • Don't make unnecessary, weakening pawn moves.
  • Don't make bad piece trades. Especially at the expense of your development.
  • Work with direct, simple threats. Aim to keep your opponent defending and moving backward.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Bobby Fischer’s Ten Greatest Players of All Time

Sammy Reshevsky
When Bobby made this list, he was 20 years old – eight years before he won the title from Boris Spassky – around 1964. 
This will explain why the likes of Kasparov or Karpov and the great players after them – are not listed there.
However, it is a list based solely on the review of these chess masters games by Bobby Fischer himself. And Bobby did not place himself on the list.
Enjoy the list and we will start with #10:

Sammy Reshevsky
For ten years – 1946 to 1956 – Sammy was probably the best player in the world! I think that if he would have played a match against Botvinnik, Sammy would have won.
His chess opening knowledge was less than any master – probably around a B player level. But he was a machine at calculating every variation and had to find every move by process of elimination! He could probably analyze more variations in a shorter period of time than any master who had ever lived.

But he always was in time pressure and usually had to play the last 20 moves of every game in 20 minutes. But still managed to win somehow.

By reason of his tenacity and ability to fight the overwhelming odds of a poor opening memory, he deserves a place on my list.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

LCCC - Week 31 - 13: A Nice Night of Chess..and Day 9 at the US Open

School teacher Paul M. (left) plays new member Zade K.

LCCC just keeps getting stronger! We had 12 players show for week 30.....and an impressive 17 for week 31!

Two new members were on hand this evening: Mike G. and Zade K. Welcome to the chess club.

Winner Joshua Friedel (checkered shirt) of Wisconsin and runner-up Julio (jeans) Sadorra of TX

Also, the closing post on the 114th US Open attended by Mikeniks of LCCC. Pictured is the presentation of the trophy to the winner. A crowd of about 100 crowded around the 5 minute blitz playoff.

Mikeniks went 3 - 6 at his first US Open. Not the finish predicted (5 - 4) or expected (3.5 - 5.5), but a great time just the same.
Seeded #399 out of 519 (that is where the 3.5 points finished, I finished #422

It is better to have competed and lost, then never to have tried at all. Many players would love to be able to attend this event and I am thrilled to have been able to.

And of course......there is always NEXT tournament!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

LCCC at the US Open - Day Eight

This is what 552 chess players look like when every section merged.
This is the scene prior to today's Blitz (5 minute) Championship!
Warming up before the Blitz Tournament.
Pondering: "I go there, then .....Knight takes, Bishop takes, castles...then Bishop takes pawn check!" 

Friday, August 2, 2013

LCCC at the US Open – Day 7

Time to post my “best” game from yesterday…..and my best game of the tournament!
Yeah, it’s a loss and it still is the best game I’ve played so far.
I think they are using the same brain wave interference equipment the Russians used on Fischer and Korchnoi in those matches against Spassky and Karpov on me.
Yeah that’s it. It’s all a conspiracy. It can’t be me.
I have White against Elliott Tong (1820) who was too busy chatting with his friends prior to our game for me to get his state or age (probably 16).
1. d4   d5
2. Bf4   Nf6
3. e3   e6
4. h3   Be7
5. Nf3   O-O
6. Be2   Nbd7
7. O-O   c5
8. c3   b6
9. Nbd2   Bb7
10. Ne5   Ne4
11. Bb5   Nxe5
12. de   c4?
It’s been a snoozer until this blunder by Elliot.
13. Nxe4    de
14. Bxc4   Qc7

After 14.  .....    Qc7

Elliot took a long time on this move, obviously taking stock of the position and looking for revenge. Yes, he is down a pawn but I am the equivalent of being down a bishop on the queenside! My goal is to get the d-file, free my bishop and to an endgame as soon as possible.
15. Bb3?   ……
Keeping an eye on d1 to help my rooks battle for the file while hopefully allowing my queen access to the kingside with a rook to the g-file someday. This bishop also prevents f6 or f5 by Black……but looking back, Elliot is not going to play that! It frees my imprisoned bishop. My white squared bishop belonged on e2.... I think.
15. …….Rfd8
16.  Qe2    Qc8
17.  Rfd1   Ba6
18. Rxd8+   Bxd8
19. Qd2    Bd3
20. Bc2    Qa6
21. f3    Bxc2
22. Qxc2   ef
23. gf     Be7

I took a long time on my next move. Obviously I want my rook on d1, but how to do it without giving up my extra pawn or the d-file? What do Jason, Chris, Matt or…Fritz say I should do? I say:
24.  a4!     Bc5
25.  Rd1   Qc4
26.   b3??  Qxf4
I sat there in stunned disbelief! We have all been there. But I seem to be "there" every game this tournament.
I played on for another 28 moves but to Elliot’s credit, he would not allow any endgame tricks.

They (who is "they" anyway?) say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger....and your losses make you  a better player.

Well I should be a power-lifting Grandmaster when I get home at this rate.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

LCCC at the US Open - The Last Piece of the Puzzle

Here are the Top Gums in the 4 - day schedule.
Obviously this group was scared to take me on in the 6-day bracket. Cowards.

They will play 3 rounds today and 4 rounds tomorrow!

Good luck with that.

Your humble scribe Mikeniks is still looking to play a full round himself.

Showing some life, I FINALLY played well. For a half-a-round anyway in round 4....but threw it away.

It will probably be the game I blog tomorrow morning.

Record: 1 -3

Thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes and the chess life you have given me. It means a lot to me.

LCCC at the US Open - Some Obserservations

Showed this just to drive Vince crazy!
Lets discuss the Open!
It returns to Wisconsin for the first time since 1953, so having it here is special to the chess enthusiasts of the Cheese state.

Wisconsin was part of the American Chess Association that included Illinois and Minnesota, which merged with other associations to form the United States Chess Federation. 

So they can rightfully claim - and do - that they are co-founders of the USCF.

Now for my commentary on how the Wisconsin Chess Association and USCF is doing with the tournament.

The Good:
1) The lighting is fine. Could be a little brighter.
2) The seating is very good! Not perfect. Not crowded side to side. Two per table so there is plenty of room. Could be a little wider in between rows, but they obviously were trying to stay as far away from the entry doors a possible as a noise buffer.
3) The pairings are up early and are posted in two places and TWO different ways. One, the usual by table number and player with White first, and the other by alphabetical! You can find your name quickly, then see what color you have, who your opponent is and what your board number is! Very nice! Never more than two people standing at the pairing boards - ever!
4) There is a Chess Central location with someone there to answer any and all questions, sign you up for side events, direct you to meetings, and take your bye requests.
5) The top tables are sectioned off, but close enough where you can see the game being played.
6) The kids tournaments were very well done. They were treated like royalty, complete with their state flags in holders next to their boards. They are the future of chess and the USCF is showing them they matter.
7) The hotel is a great venue for a tournament this size, and they have experience doing this type of thing.
8) Bathrooms clean, close by and numerous.

The Bad:
1) The US Open Women's Tournament, and for that matter all women's tournaments, need to be stopped and like right now. There were exactly 18 11 players entered. There were 20 females in just the last row of the regular tournament! So what is the point? Enough already. Everyone knows they need to end it, but no one has the guts to say it. So I just did.
2) They are running out of drinking water in the playing hall EVERY round. You would think that someone running the show would have the hotel on it, and remedying the situation.
3) The pre-round announcements are loud and dragged out. Some new person is given the microphone every time to thank people or give an award of some kind. That's nice and all, but these speakers think it is open mike night at a comedy club or worse, a political speech. Let's keep it brief shall we?
4) Here is the worse over-sight. There is no souvenirs concessions at all. Nothing but a cheap t-shirt iron-on logo vendor, who was here on the weekend and doesn't return until this coming weekend.
No vinyl boards, no chess bags, no key chains. Not even a cheap pen thas says 2013 US Open!
Maybe the stuff will show on the weekend. 
And maybe it is because US Open souvenirs have been a financial loser. But you can fix that by not gouging the customer with the price. I mean what is the risk of printing the boards used in the US Open and selling them after the tourney? You can always unload them at cost to chess clubs later. If handled right it's a small profit or worse - a break even venture for the USCF - and advertising for a long time.

But over all, so far, this has been a very well run tournament.

LCCC at the US, Open – Day 6

First……..the good news. I slept well, at night, and even through my games.

Now the bad news.
I am playing just awful! Let’s see, plenty of rest. Good food without over-eating. Drinking nothing but bottled water and Gatorade on occasion. Getting a nap in between rounds. Going over openings and studying a few tactics in between rounds. Keeping up on my Chess dot Com games at meals, where, by the way, I seem not to be “losing it”.
But I am getting in that tournament hall – and there is no other way to say it – and go brain dead …… and blind.
Is it nerves? Is it the lack of distractions or company? I don’t feel nervous and I don’t feel like doing anything else right now but play chess. But I sure picked a bad time to “lose it.”

But – as hitters in a slump would say – keep working and swinging. The fog will (should) clear someday.

Round 3 – I did win, but it felt like a loss because I played so poorly. My opponent had a 900 rating, and played like it. I squeaked out an upset win - by playing like a 700. Wish it was chess-baseball. I need a relief player. My fastball is flat and I am hanging curves (pieces).

So let's talk about Round 2 – With the White pieces, I faced a really nice guy – Brian Villarreal, rated 1820. We talked before and after the game. He said he played my first round opponent when Troy was in elementary school and rated 1000. Now he is 2000! Brain also stated he just got over 1800 after a long stint in the 1700’s. He said he did it by playing the better people at his chess club!
White to move.

Here is the position at the turning point. As I stated, I am not playing well. Post game analysis showed that although my position is not strong, it’s not terribly weak either. 
But I had to come up with the right plan. 
I had two options: 1) challenge for the e4 square with Bf3 and then e4!, or 2) play it safe with Nf3 adding protection to the e5 pawn and putting the knight on a primo square.
I chose Bf3, but not for the correct reason. I only see that unguarded bishop at b7 and don’t concern myself with my opponent’s possible moves.

12. Bf3    Qc7
Of course. But I never considered it. So if I didn't see that, there is no way I see e4!
13. c4?   Nxe5
14 .Kh1    Bd6
15. Qa4+?   Bc6
16.  Qc2   Nxf3
17.  Nxf3   Bxf4
18.   ef      Qxf4
I am down two pawns, so now I decide to play some chess. I always like to be down material or crushed in a position before I start playing well.
19. Ne5    Bb7
20.  cd      Bxd5z
21.  f3       O-O?
Rarely is castling a bad move, but it was here.
22. Nd7    Rfd8
23. Nxb6   Rab8
24. Nxd5?!   Rxd4
Well so much for a short run of decent chess assisted by my opponent's over-confidence. I have not analyzed it, but hanging on to material when down material is usually best. But his bishop is going to be much stronger in this open position. Especially since my knight at a4 is on the rim and grim. I blunder it up the rest of the way anyway.
25. Re4   Qg5
26. b3??  ......
Worried about his c-pawn and my b-pawn and not worrying about my king or queen.
26. .....     Rd2
27. Rg4    Qf6
28. Qc1    Rad8
Record: 1-2 but should be 0-3.
Other stuff. The President of the Michigan Chess Association, Jennifer Skidmore, saw me and said there will be an attempt made to get all the Michigan attendees together for a Team picture Friday night. If it happens, I will try to get one myself or have her email it to me so I can post it here before it comes out in the MCA magazine (whenever that is published again).