Saturday, September 28, 2013

First Round League Night Nears Completion

Thursday night saw two more games played for the first round of the LCCC Chess League. A special thanks go out to the players for playing match games in a much busier than usual coffee house, where we even lost our access to our private room. Oh well, LCCC’ers are gamers and the pawns must go on!

We only have one left to go, and that has to be done this Monday or it goes in the books as a draw.

Matt T of the Tigers and John R of the Thunder both won on Thursday.

Here are Teams, Members and current standings:

 Tigers 2 points – 3 Team points
Matt T
Ken L
Paul M
Dave L

Sixers 2 points – 2.5 Team point
Scott M
Ken T
Luigi M
Zach Romeo
Flames 0 points – 2 Team points (one match to go)
Aaron J
Gene M
Americo M
Zade Koch

Sonics 0 points – 1.5 Team points
Mike S
Dave S
Tom H
Alex D

Thunder 0 points – 1 Team point
Vince V
John R
Mike G
Luca M

49’ers 0 points – 1 Team point (one match to go)
Tim R
Don J
Sam T
Marcello M

The league schedule will be emailed out - and posted on this blog as soon as the first round finishes Monday.
Once the schedule is sent out – it will be up to the players to get with their opponent and ask for a make up if one is needed. If granted, it is  up to the players to schedule it on a Monday or Thursday and get it done.
Selected games will be posted on this blog also, so look forward to that!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

LCCC 2013-2014 League Kicks Off – with Pizza!

L to R: Mike G, Marcello M, Paul M and Dave L in League action.
Thanks to Club Secretary Don J., a little pizza was served as the final teams and pairings were finalized. Thanks Don! We got started about 7:15pm, but that will not be the case the rest of the way. The schedules will be sent out and 7pm the clocks will be started. The next league night – October 7, 2013.

Tonight, we welcomed new members Alex D and Dave L to LCCC also. Glad you were here.
The league settled in with 6 four person teams for a total of 24 players. This is a 25% increase in league growth and thank you to everyone for participating.  It is going to be a very competitive – yet fun league to be a part of.

Left: Alex D and Zack R do battle.
On to the action!
We had only one pairing finish their match tonight. The Sixers defeated the Sonics 2.5 – 1.5. Ken T and Zach R posted wins for the Sixers, while Scott M scored a draw against his higher rated opponent - Mike S - in a very tough game. Tom H got the win for the Sonics.

The Tigers lead the Thunder 2 – 0 at this point with two matches to be made up hopefully this Thursday. Paul M and Dave L got wins for the Tigers. The matches still to be played are the two top boards of Matt T (White- Tigers) vs Gus S (Thunder) and Ken L (Tigers) vs John R (White – Thunder).
In the final group, the Flames hold a 2 -1 edge over 49’ers with one match still to be played. Again, the top board was missing (I’m sensing a pattern here). Gene M and Zade K got victories for the Flames and Sam T got the win for the 49’ers. Still to be played, Tim R (White – 49’ers) vs Aaron J (Flames). No date yet for this match, but hopefully next Monday.
A quick note to thank our Rating Committee – (Ken T, Matt T and Terry G) for the good work they did. The ratings for players appeared to be solid in lieu of the fact that there was only one mild upset win and one upset draw. The higher rated players seemed to hold serve – so well done guys.
Next week there will be people ready to review the games played and give some instruction to the players who would like to do this. That is what a LCCC does – up the skill level of every member. Then when LCCC members join tournaments, they are ready to win!
The Standings, final schedule, new ratings and next pairings will be sent out soon – and posted on the blog.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Bobby Fischer’s No. 5 Greatest Grandmaster

Mikhail Tchigorin
Mikhail Tchigorin

"Although dead for 60 years [Ed. Note: 100 now], the Russians still call Tchigorin the father of Russian chess. He was, in fact, one of the last of the Romantic School and a good all around player.
Although beaten by Steinitz twice, Tchigorin was the finest endgame player of his time. Although, judging from his notes, he often over-analyzed positions.
Steinitz and Tchigorin were rivals – they represented respectively – the new and the old school of chess. Although Steinitz was 30 years older than Tchigorin, after winning, he happily said, “Youth has triumphed!”
Tchigorin had a very aggressive style, and was a great attacking player. He was always willing to experiment and sometimes lost to weaker players. He was easily discouraged, which held him back from even greater heights.
He was not really an objective player and would often continue playing a bad line even after it had been refuted. It was not until years later that he would finally stop trying to refute Steinitz lines, and started playing them himself.
Tchigorin was the first great Russian chess player and is still one of the best of all time."
Bobby Fischer - praising a Russian chess player? Wow!
PS: LCCC chess league starts Monday! Be there!

Monday, September 16, 2013

LCCC Week 37a – Seventeen Players on Pre-League Monday

Vince V in action
A nice showing tonight on the Monday prior to the LCCC League starting. More on that late
We welcome back Scott M to the LCCC club. He had taken an extended visit to Arizona, but returns in time to join the League. Great timing! Welcome back Scott.

 Vince V wins his Ladder game tonight and moves into the top spot! Congratulations Vince! Can you say…

Sam T and Marcello M also won Ladder games; Sam moving up and Marcello holding his spot. Nice job guys!

Now – about the league – it starts next week! We have 30 players that have said they want in! Please let me know if you want in – but more importantly, if you are IN and changed your mind – please let me know!

We will pick the teams around 6:45 and get the round started as close to 7pm as possible. Your early attendance next Monday would be greatly appreciated. Schedules have been made for all possible scenarios, so all that is needed is your timely arrival.

Two league players have stated that they may have trouble making the first night. Well, every attempt will be made to either give their team a bye in week 1 or pair them with a team with a member that has no problem allowing a make up game on later Monday or Thursday. But there are no promises!

It should be a very close, entertaining, and fun league. Next week – it’s go time!


Thursday, September 12, 2013

LCCC Week 36 B-13 – Nice Night at Teekos – Fischer’s No. Six Player

Six players made the Thursday meeting. One Ladder game played as Mike N held on to the spot in a tough game. But some casual "coffehouse" games were also played.

Next Monday, we are still taking players for our league. The league starts September 23rd, so show up next week and claim a spot in the league.

Here is Bobby Fischer’s 1964 list of the top ten grandmasters of all time.
Alexander Alekhine
Alexander Alekhine
“Alekhine is a player I’ve never really understood. Yet, strangely, if you’ve seen one Alekhine game, you’ve seen them all.
 He always wanted a superior center; he maneuvered his pieces to the king side, and around the 25th move, he began to mate his opponent.
He disliked exchanges, preferring to play with many pieces on the board. His play was fantastically complicated, more so than any other player before or since.
Alekhine was never a hero of mine and I never cared for his style of play. There is nothing light and breezy about it. It worked for him, but could scarcely work for anyone else.
 He played gigantic conceptions, full of outrageous and unprecedented ideas. Its hard to find mistakes in his game, but in a sense, his whole method of play was a mistake. Alekhine developed much more slowly as a player than most great players. He didn’t reach his world class strength until well into his thirties.
But he had a great imagination and could see more deeply into a situation than an other player in chess history.
He disliked clear cut positions. He liked it cloudy and complex positions, and it was his stamina and vision that carried him to victory. It was in complicated situations where Alekhine found his greatest concepts.
Many consider Alekhine to be a great opening theoretician, but I don’t. He played book lines – and not very well. He always felt his natural powers would get him out of any dilemma.
At the chessboard, Alekhine radiated a furious tension that often intimidated his opponents.”

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Week 36-13: LCCC Plays Two Nights for the First Time!

Tom H in action at the Michigan Open
So, I guess you could call it Week 35-II-13 and Week 36-13.

We met at Teekos Coffee and Tea on Thursday and then our regular meeting on Monday (yesterday).

Nine players made it on Thursday and sixteen this Monday.

The big topic of conversation at the club right now is about the start of the LCCC Chess League of course.

The 2013 - 2014 LCCC League will be really REALLY great this year.
We have enough players for a league right now (Six 4-person teams), but bigger is better!
We have club officers willing to step in or step out - to fill in the teams or make the teams more competitive as needed.
They will even fill spots on teams should a player have to drop out or not show at the last minute!
The bottom line is this - the league and your team will be full and competitive!
We are looking at a double round robin schedule! One or two rounds a month - Sept thru May.
Holidays, sporting events, and even big chess tournament weekends (that Monday or the Monday after) have been avoided in the scheduling! A permanent schedule will be set after Week One
Players seeded to their own strength level.
Player ratings, and therefore the Teams have been selected by a committee.
Final teams will be "drawn" the first night of the league - Sept 23rd.
Rounds will start at
Games will be 60min / game (2 hours).
Substitutes are not permitted, but make ups are at the discretion of your opponent.
Full league rules will be emailed if you request them prior to joining.
League rules of course will be available on League nights.
There is no better way to sharpen your game, test your skill and have fun doing it! We still have league spots open, so there is still time to sign up!
Then, we will use any additional players wishing to get in the league as an alternate in a first come - first serve basis.

Since we are picking the teams on the night of the league, if you are present on Sept. 23, you will probably be in the league. If you have to miss, you need to get a hold of a TD (Ken T, Matt T or Mike N) to make arrangements. That may keep you in the league, but your opponent will decide if he will have mercy on you.

This league will be great, so get to the club or the email as soon as possible!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Games Department

by Jason Morris

Hi All LCCCers,

This time around, we'll feature some games from the 2013 Michigan Open. Let's get to the action.

2013 Michigan Open - Round 6
Alexander Deatrick (2054) - Matt Trujillo (1822)

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. Nc3 Nc6 

So we have a Symmetrical English, which can transpose to many different systems depending on what white plays next. 4. e4, 4. d4, 4. g3, 4. e3, and even 4. d3 are all possible here. In choosing 4. g3, white's plan is to aim the Bg2 on the center and queen side and to wait to see where black commits his center pawns and pieces. A more classical player might opt for 4. e4 to restrain d7-d5, then play 0-0 and d2-d4 aiming for a Maroczy Bind Sicilian position.

4. g3 g6 5. Bg2 Bg7 6. d4 

White decides to open the center now before black can clamp down on d4 with e5. However, 6. 0-0 was an option here.

6. ... cxd4 7. Nxd4  O-O 

This is a position where it is easy to go astray as black. The problem is that black seems to have no good way to continue his development. Both 8. ... d6 and 8. ... b6 lose a pawn. I recall being flummoxed in this position against Fred Lindsay (white) many decades back, and I failed to resolve the problem and got tied in knots. If I recall correctly, I played something horrible like 8. ... a6 and 9. ... Qc7 to defend c6, but inaccurate moves against like this just create more weak squares and targets for white's pieces.

8. O-O 8. ... Nxd4?!

This leads to a definite pull for white. Generally, you should avoid moving the same piece twice in the opening, which includes making captures that only speed your opponent's development. Although black seems tied up (he can't move his b-pawn or d-pawn to let the Bc8 out), he can equalize here a few ways:

(a) 8. ... Ng4!?
(b) 8. ... Qb6!?
(c) 8. ... Qa5!?

(a) 8. ... Ng4 9. e3 Nge5 10. b3 d6 11. Bb2 Nxd4 12. exd4 Nc6 13. d5 Ne5 14. f4 Nd7 15. Qd2 0-0 black is OK.
(b) 8. ... Qb6, 9. e3 d6, 10. b3 Bd7 11. Bb2 Rfe8 12. Qd2 Rac8 and black has completed his development.
(c) 8. ... Qa5 with the obvious idea of Qc5 and the not-so-obvious idea of transferring the queen to h5 with Ng4 to follow. For how this might work, we step back to round 5 and the game Deatrick - Finegold from round 5. Ben got his queen active, switched flanks, and exploited the weak dark squares around white's king:

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. Nc3 g6 4. g3 Bg7 5. Bg2 O-O 6. O-O Nc6 7. d4 cxd4 8. Nxd4 Ng4 9. e3 d6 10. b3 Nge5 11. h3 Qa5 12. Bb2 Nxd4 13. exd4 Nc6 14. Ne2 Qh5 15. g4 Qh4 16. Bc3 f5 17. f3 f4 18. d5 Ne5 19. Bd4 h5 20. Nc3 hxg4 21. hxg4 Bxg4! 22. fxg4 Nxg4 23. Rf3 Bxd4+ 24. Qxd4 Qh2+ 25. Kf1 Ne3+ 26. Ke2 Qxg2+ 27. Rf2 Qg4+ 28. Kd2 Qf5 29. Ne4 Ng4 30. Rf3 Ne5 31. Rf2 Qh3 32. Raf1 Qe3+ 0-1  

 9. Qxd4 d6 10. Qd2

White plans b3-Bb2 to oppose the Bg7 and he wants the squares b2, c1, d1, and d4 all guarded. However, objectively in terms of dark square control, the lateral 10. Qh4 was better. White then has the annoyingly effective plan of Bg5 (aimed at e7, f6, h6, and d8), Rfe1, Rad1, and e2-e4-e5 initiating central lever action against the d6 pawn. The additional point is that the Qh4 guards the vulnerable c4 pawn. When you have gained a forward position (Qd4), be reluctant to trade it for a retreat that blocks your own development (Qd2). Note also that h4 is the square that Ben based his queen at in the above game.

10. ... Rb8?!

The idea is counter play with b7-b5 against the c4 pawn, but black misses his chance to take advantage of the passivity of white's Qd2. Black could have struck with 10. ... Be6! with the following main lines:

(a) 10. ... Be6 11. Bxb7 Rb8 12. Bf3 Bxc4 13. b3 Be6 14. Rd1 Re8 15. Bb2 Qa5 and black has good play.
(b) 10. ... Be6 11. b3 d5! and the pin on the Nc3 lets black liquidate the center and equalize. 
(c) 10. ... Be6 11. Rd1 Bxc4 12. Bxb7 Rb8 13. Bf3 Be6 14. b3 Re8 15. Bb2 Qa5 16. Ne4 Qxd2 17. Nxd2 Nd7 18. Bxg7 Kxg7 19. Rac1 Rec8 and black is equal.

11. b3 Nd7

Black is trying to get a knight to c5, but it's questionable whether this is a useful square. The knight should stay on the king side to control d5 and intercept white's intended Nd5.

12. Bb2 a5

Aimed at preventing b4 dislodging the knight, but again black is spending time anchoring a knight that strikes into thin air. Meanwhile, white continues his build-up.

13. Rfd1 Nc5 14. Nd5

Both sides have accomplished their missions, but white's knight has targets and is closer to the black king and that gives white a slight advantage now.

14. ... Bxb2 15. Qxb2 Bf5 

Optically good, but black should be aiming to kill that monster knight on d5 with Be6-Bxd5. Note that black can't chase the knight with e6? which would fatally weaken f6 and d6.

16. Qd4 

White had perhaps a simpler positional plan in Rd4 with the idea of Rad1 followed by e2-e4-e5.

16. ... b5? 

Black is consistent, but this has a tactical flaw.

17. cxb5 Rxb5 18. e4

There will be pinning and uncovering threats on the d-file once white advances e4-e5, Whether black captures or not will determine how bad the damage is. That said, white misses the stronger 18. Qh4 threatening e7 and angling for Qh6 when the e4 idea gains strength.

18. ... Bd7?

For better or worse, black had to play the ugly 18. ... e5 to blunt white's initiative. Black would still be worse, but he'd avoid the coming debacle.

19. Qe3? 

White slips, trying to play e5 under perceived better circumstances, but he should have followed through with the natural and strong 19. e5! which shatters black's pawn structure. 19. e5! Ne6 20. Qa7 causes black all kinds of problems. Then if 20. ... dxe5? 21. Nf6+! would pulverize black.

19. ... Ne6?

Again black misses the danger to his dark squares, and e5 was the answer. Then one defensive idea could be to:
  1. Maneuver the Nc5 to e6, 
  2. Trade the bishop for the Nd5 via Bd7-Bc6, then 
  3. Play Nd4 with a protected, centralized knight.

20. Rac1 (e5 was still good here) f6

Black rightly seeks to stop e4-e5, but now white brings up the reinforcements.

21. f4 Rc5 22. f5

I suspect white lost patience with the position when he could have just turned the screws tighter with 22. a3 when black has no constructive moves.

22. ... Rxc1 23. Rxc1 Nc5 

Mine is not to question why... mine is just to do or die...

24. fxg6 hxg6 25. Qh6 g5?? 26. Qg6+ Kh8 

You only get so many miss-steps against someone who out-rates you by 200 points, then it's lights out. Now it's lights out. 

Position after 26. ... g5?

27. e5! 

A clearance sacrifice, taking advantage of the overloaded d-pawn and the weakness of the b1-h7 diagonal. The spectre of a sac on c5 and then Be4 setting up mating threats prevents any capture of the e-pawn. Meanwhile, the e-pawn spreads havoc in black's camp, setting fire to all it touches. If 27. ... fxe5 then 28. Rxc5 dxc5 29 Be4 will cost black both his bishop and rook to avoid mate.

27. ... Be8 28. Qh6+ Kg8 29. exf6 exf6 30. Rf1 Nd7 31. Be4 Rf7 32. Bf5 Nf8

With a knight on f8, there is no mate... unless your opponent has you in the Vulcan Death Grip.

33. Bd3 Nd7 34. Bc4 f5 35. Rxf5! 1-0

If 35. ... Rxf5 36. Nf6+ is a very pretty double-discovered mate. All in all, Matt had a great tournament, scoring 3.5/7 against 2190 average rated opponents!

Next up, we have an up and down affair from round 7. Like the warning sign says at the Silver Lake Dune Rides over on Lake Michigan, make sure you keep your hands and feet in the buggy as we go through this game!

2013 Michigan Open - Round 7
Jeff Futrell (1676) - Patrick Kinnicutt (1438)

1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. e4 e6 4. Bxc4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Be7 6. Nf3 b6

After a pretty standard Queen's Gambit Accepted, black starts to lose the thread. In the QGA, black gives up control of the center when he plays dxc4. The only way to avoid being eventually pushed back by white's extra center pawn is to play c5 quickly and counter-attack d4. This and black's 7th and 8th moves aren't geared to that, and this should lead to early trouble in the center.

7. O-O

Here white had the much stronger 7. Qa4+ probing black's queenside and pretty much forcing 7. ... c6.

7. ... Bb7 8. Qe2 Nc6

Now white can react immediately with 9. d5! pushing black's pieces from the center.

9. Rd1 O-O 10. d5 exd5 11. Nxd5 

White had the sharper 11. e5 when black has to find 11. ... Re8! to avoid a debacle. For example: 11. ... Re8 12. Nxd5 Bd6 13. Nxf6+ gxf6 14. Bxf7+ Kxf7 15. Qc4+ Re6 16. exd6 cxd6 17. Bf4 with a great position. If 12. exf6 then 12. ... Bd6! just keeps the balance.

11. ... Nxd5 12. Bxd5 Qc8 13. Bg5 

White had the positionally superior 13. Bf4 with the idea of attacking c7 via Rac1.

13. ... Bxg5 14. Nxg5 Ne5

This is a mistake that costs a pawn. 14. ... h6 removing the target and driving the knight back was far better.

15. Nxh7 Bxd5

Holding on was 15. ... Re8

16. Rxd5

White is too hasty to regain his material. Simply 16. Nxf8 would have left him up material in a winning position. For example, 16. Nxf8 Bc4 17. Qh5 Nd3 18. Nh7 Nf4 19. Qg5 Ng6 20. Qc1 Be2 21. Re1 Qg4 22. Ng5 Nh4 23. g3 Bb5 24. a4 Be8 25. Ra3 defending f3 and removing all tricks based on Qxg5 and Nf3+.

16. ... Re8 17. Qh5 Ng6

This blunder should have cost black the game due to the attack on the h-file and black's weak king. 17. ... Qe6 was the last chance to throw a spanner in the works.

18. Ng5

White is now completely winning.  All he has to do is consolidate his position and re-group for a second wave attack with f4-f5.

Position after 18. Ng5

18. ... Re5 

Black plays for complications.

19. Qh7+ 

Still winning, but not nearly as clear-cut as 19. Rxe5 Nxe5 20. f4 when black loses more material.

19. ... Kf8 20. Rxe5 Nxe5 21. Qh8+

Again, white could have transposed to the line above here. In one move, white throws away a +6 advantage to only +1.

21. ... Ke7 22. Qxg7 Qh8 23. Qxh8 Rxh8 

Despite being two pawns down, black's pieces are more active than white's, and this will lead to him recovering some material.

24. Rd1 f6 25. Nh3 Rh4 

The more targets black has for his rook and king, the better his drawing chances. So, the aggressive 25. ... Nf3+! would have given white more problems.

26. f4 Ng6 

Pressing with 26. ... Ng4 was an option. With white's rook, knight and king somewhat clustered Black could also hurry his knight to c5 via f8-e6 to attack the e-pawn and to support his queen-side majority. Passive retreating will let white consolidate.

27. Rf1 a5

Objectively, I'm not sure this pawn move helps anything.

28. Rf3

White misses a chance to increase his advantage with the apparently anti-positional 28. f5! with the idea of 29. Nf4 and Nd5+ or Ng6+.  For example, 28. f5 Ne5 29. Nf4 c6 30. g3 Rh8 31. Rd1 and white has untangled.

28. ...  a4 29. Nf2

No need to jettison a pawn.  Just the simple Kf2-g3 would have worked.

29. ... Rxf4 30. Rxf4 Nxf4 31. g3 Ne2+ 32. Kf1 Nc1 33. a3 c5

Black pokes a hole in his pawn structure without a good reason. Simply 33. ... c6 was far less committal. White still has a thin edge, his ace in the hole being his outside passed h-pawn. But before sending it on it's way, white should secure the queen side with 34. Nd1.

34. h4 b5 35. h5

White should drive out the knight with Ke1-d2. The h-pawn dies for nothing.

35. ... b4 36. Nd1

And this throws away any advantage white might have had. While white has dithered, black has managed to creep his pawns closer. What becomes decisive is that white's king is too far away to help defend.

36. ... Nd3 37. Ke2 (37. Ne3 still held the draw.) Nxb2 38. h6 Kf7

Amazing. From being totally winning, white is now totally losing

39. Ne3 Kg6

Ugh!  And black misses the win with just 39. ... bxa3 and white is busted.

40. Kd2

and here 40. Nc2! holds the draw!

40. ... Kxh6 41. Kc2 

Oh dear!  And here, as scary as it seemed, 41. axb4 cxb4 42. Kc2 a3 43. Kb3 Nd3 44. Nc2 was the way.

41. ... bxa3 42. Kb1 c4 43. Ka2 c3 44. Kxa3 Nd3 45. Kxa4 Nc5+ 46. Kb4 Nxe4 47. Kc4 Kg5 48. Kd4 Nxg3 49. Kxc3 Kg6 50. Kd4 Kf7 51. Kd5 Ke7 52. Ng4 f5 53. Ke5 1/2-1/2

And your humble annotator needs some Advil and Dramamine.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

LCCC Has a Good Showing at the Michigan Open!

Ken L accepting his Upset Award from TD Jeff Aldrich
The main thing was a great time was had by all! With great people come great times.

I also want to give some credit where credit is due. Jeff Aldrich did a fantastic job as Tournament Director. Thanks Jeff!

Here are the point results for Team LCCC’s players for the tournament – 7 points possible:

Pat Kinnicutt – 5 pts - Reserve section

Mike R. Smith  - 4.5 – Open section

Mike Nikitin – 4.5 – Reserve

Gene McClure – 4.0 – Reserve

Matt Trujillo – 3.5 – Open

John Ryskamp – 3.5 – Reserve

Sam Thompson – 3.5 – Booster Section

Ken Lambdin – 3.0 - Reserve

Tom Hosmer – 3.0 - Reserve

Paul Mills – 2.5 – Reserve

Emily Kinnicutt – 2.0 – Booster

In addition, Pat K was in an eyelash of 5.5 with a last round draw. Pat had the slight advantage – and tried to win it – but his opponent was up to the challenge to hang on.

Mike S played rock solid all the way thru against higher rated players every round. His last round win was text book at grinding away a small advantage to victory.

Matt T was on fire early and played way above his rating performance wise! To play this well against that field, after a pretty long layoff from tournament chess, was remarkable!

Ken L won the Biggest Upset Award – beating a player rated almost 600 points higher than him! Nice job Ken!

Our club finished 5th or so as far as club points. The deal was they took the results of the top 4 players for each club and our 18 points put us in the middle somewhere.

But I think every single player for LCCC is picking up rating points after this tournament! Every single player! I know there is no other club that can say that!
Thanks to Dave L, Ken T, Nick D and Vince V who came out and rooted us on. 

Congratulations to all who participated in the Michigan Open. Honor goes to the one setting foot in the arena – win, lose or draw.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Reasoning vs Calculating

Hello ICCCers!

I wanted to share some notes on the concept of reasoning about a position vs. calculating a position. To me, reasoning and calculating are the yin and yang of thinking in chess: you can't have one without the other. When we reason, we make inferences about the relative quantitative and qualitative properties of a position. We deal with the abstract nature of the position and make hypotheses about it (e.g. white is winning, black is better, etc.). The calculation that follows is the proof to the hypothesis.

Let's consider the position at move 41 in game 2 of the four game final World Cup match between GMs Vladimir Kramnik (2784) and Dmitry Andreikin (2709).

Kramnik (white) has just played the very strong

41. c7

Diagram 1: Position after 41. c7

Putting ourselves in Kramnik's head, we can guess that he must have reasoned along these lines:
  • White's pawn is extremely dangerous :-)
  • Black has only one move (Qc8) to stop c8=Q winning on the spot.
  • When the black queen reaches c8, both white rooks must stay on the c-file to guard the c-pawn.
  • The passed, guarded c-pawn greatly reduces the mobility of the black queen.
  • The black rook must guard the b7 square, else white can play Bb7! after which white will end up a rook. Hence, the black rook's mobility is greatly restricted too by the c7 pawn.
  • All I need to do is force the queen off c8 and I will win material and the game.
Andreikin probably had a similar conversation with himself:
  • White's pawn is extremely dangerous :-(
  • I only have one move (Qc8) to stop c8=Q winning on the spot.
  • I can't move my queen from c8 and I can't move my rook from a7.
  • Thus, after Qc8, I have no mobility (i.e. no counter play) ... this is BAD.
  • White has a simple plan to kick me from c8 using his bishop.
  • There is no immediately obvious way to do this, but if there is a way, Vlad will find it (Think Terminator here - JCM).
  • If white manages to do this (and it looks very possible), I will lose. 
  • I must find something else besides Qc8 or face a miserable game likely ending in a zugzwang win for white.
Andreikin must have realized that defending passively with Qc8 was hopeless. He immediately played

 41. .. Rxc7!

The exclam is for realizing that a two rooks vs queen ending is the only way to fight on. The game continued...

42. Rxc7 Qxd5
43. Re1  Kh6

White was threatening to play 44. Ree7, which would force black to trade his queen and f-pawn for both rooks due to the horizontal pin. This would be a winning pawn ending for white, so black steps out of the pin. This brings us to the main position of this article:

44. Ree7 f6

Diagram 2: Position after 44. .. f6

It was at this point that I got into a running debate with a FIDE master on ICC who claimed this was a dead draw. Now, I have a fascination for grinders like Carlsen and Karpov who are notorious for "making something of nothing". Are they really just lucky beneficiaries of their opponents' fatigue blunders, or do they really see deeper into the nature of positions, allowing them to find hidden resources? Where and when do they continue where other's quit thinking? This sure looked like one of those kinds of positions and Kramnik is definite grinder.

After a 2-3 minute think, I wasn't convinced that the FIDE master had reasoned about the position satisfactorily to reach that general of a conclusion, so I asked, "How can you be so sure? I believe white can win this."

Here was my checklist:

  • What qualities or key features does the position have in terms of pawn structure?
  • Who has the better king position, control of lines and squares and why?
  • Where are the weak squares and lines for both sides?
  • What resources (e.g. tactics) does the position offer both sides?
  • What is the optimum placement of pieces? Where should they go?
  • What trades can be made? Who do they favor and why?
Also, what about all the different pawn endings that could arise if white trades:
  • Black's queen and f-pawn for his rooks.
  • Black's queen and g-pawn for his rooks.
  • Black's queen and h-pawn for his rooks. 
Now here's a challenge: Try reasoning about this position yourself using my checklist and anything else you can think of about the position. Don't give variations! None of this involves calculation.. yet.

In Part II, we'll compare notes and discuss how the game ended.


Team LCCC - at the 2013 Michigan Open

We got it fixed! Matt Trujillo is in the Open Section and having a great tournament.
Just having too much fun and too busy to post! The schedule is tough. The games are grueling. But as we go to lunch, review our games, yuk it up, rest up - and also visit with the well wishers that show up to root us on, there was no time to get a report in.

All of us in the tournament want to thank Dave Long (davesquared), Ken Tack and Vince Valente for visiting us at the playing site for moral support.

Your Vice President, Ken Lambdin was also busy looking into getting a guest speaker or two for lectures. FIDE masters Fred Lindsey and Seth Homa may be coming by LCCC soon! Nice job Ken.

Also, LCCC is now a proud owner of our very own demostration chess board! They had a sale and since we had 4 of the 5 officers present, the motion was made and it passed! So, we are ready for speakers - as well as some help for Jason and Terry with lessons for all of our members.

A report on the Michigan Open will be on the way soon. So stay tuned!

PS: LCCC is closed tonight for the Labor Day weekend. See you on Sept. 9.