Monday, February 24, 2014

Thursday 2-20 and Monday 2-24 – Fun Open Chess!

Thursday chess action at Teekos
Thursday at Teekos Coffee we had seven players. Lots of skittles and speed chess was played, in addition to analyzing some games. As always LCCC is open to the public, so stop on by.

Tonight at the Hartland Senior Center, seventeen people braved the return of cold temperatures outside for the hot chess action inside.

Vince brought some donuts – probably stolen from the state trooper or Hartland Police post. Thanks Vince!

Monday chess action
In Ladder Tournament action, Mike N staved off a challenge from Sam T. Sam had the advantage early but let it slip away.

Not to be deterred in the least, Sam challenged three others above him – looking to move up the Ladder. That is how you do it! Get challenging people every week and make them earn their spot above you. Way to go Sam!

Let me add this lesson for you beginners out there. This is an actual game played and is used for teaching.
1.   e4      c5
2.   Bc4   Nf6
3.   e5     d5
4.   Bd5+   Bd7
5.   exf6     Bxb5
6.   fxg7     Bxg7
7.   c3         …….

Let’s stop here and decide who has the better game. Which player would you like to be if you were to take over playing right now?
The answer is easily Black! Why? Well Black has control of many more squares on the board than White does and he has two pieces developed to White’s NONE! Both of Black’s bishops sit on powerful diagonals. In addition, White’s King is trapped in the center of the board and that is never a good thing.
Sure, Black has some pawn structure damage, but with control of so many squares, it will take White a very long time to be able to do anything about it.
All Black has to do is develop his pieces, playing to keep the White king trapped in the center. Computer analysis has Black up the equivalent of 2 PAWNS in the opening.

8.   …..     c4?
Can you see why this is an error by Black?

9.    Na3     Bc6
Black loses his white square domination by blocking off his bishop. Even with White’s move attacking the bishop, Black could have played Ba6 to stay on that strong diagonal. Chess is a simple game. It is all about controlling more squares than your opponent.

10.   Qg4!   ……
White develops and attacks at the same time. Black is only up 1 pawn now positionally and must play carefully to hold the advantage.

10.   …..     O-O ?
Castling is usually a good thing, but not here! Never put your King in an XRAY attack if you can avoid it. Notice now that Black’s dark squared bishop is PINNED to the King. It cannot move or else the King will be in check!
Remember what Black’s advantage was? He had two powerful bishops with free spaces to control. That was just 3 moves ago! Now one is boxed in and the other is pinned. White now has the momentum and more squares controlled. Black is now losing and should be down a pawn when the smoke clears.

11.   d3     cxd3 ??
The losing move. Black had to let the pawn go to save his King. Bd7 attacking the White Queen or e6 to allow the Black Queen to rush to the defense at f6 was needed.
Any time your opponent’s Queen is near your King, alarms need to go off in your head.

12.      Bh6!!  
And Black cannot stop the checkmate.

12.   .......    d2+
13.   Kd1    Black any move!
14.   Qxg7 ++
When you have the advantage, continue to play like you are even or maybe slightly losing. Never lose your concentration and think your game will win itself. They never do.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

LCCC Blitz Tourney – Feb 17, 2014 Results

Final round action: clockwise: Ken T(lf), AaronJ, Scott M and Tim R(rf). 
On a cold and snowy Monday evening, 16 players braved the elements and the scary driving to make it to the Chess Club for our first 2014 Blitz tournament. Twelve actually entered the tournament and the others played some casual games.

“Blitz” chess is the official name of 5-minute chess. Each player gets only 5 minutes on their clock. You have to checkmate your opponent before your time runs out – or you lose! Your opponent is of course in the same predicament.
It makes for some very fast paced action with lots of noise with the clicking of the clocks, the slamming of the chess pieces and the nervous chatter by players as they attempt to release tension.

Paul M (l) and Don J's (r) match had a spectator.
Everyone had a fun time with it and there were plenty of laughs during post – match discussions as we waited for our Tournament Director to come out with the next set of pairings. A special thanks to Ken Tack for doing a great job!
The plan was 6 rounds with a different opponent each round. But when attendance was cut short by the weather, the format was changed to a four round, 2 – game match against your paired partner – one with each color (one with the white pieces and one with the black). This set up a lot more “draws” as a result as player often finished 1-1. So everyone got to play eight games!

Here are the final standings in actual “tie-break” finish results.  
Tim Ritter                     4.0   (perfect score)
Aaron Jagt                    2.5
Scott Marvell                2.5
Ken Tack                     2.5
Mike Nikitin                 2.5
Luke Sergott                2.5
Don Jones                    2.0
Sam Thompson            2.0
Zach Romeos               2.0
Paul Mills                     1.0
Layla Wilhelmi  0.5
Paul Johnson                0.0

Thanks to all that participated and braved the weather. I’m sure we will have a summer chapter of this type of tournament.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Thursday Night at Teekos and then the Genesee County Open

Don Jones - on his way to his section's title.
Let’s start with the regular Thursday edition of the LCCC. Nine players were there. A league game, a ladder challenge and some casual games were played. Also, some games from the league were reviewed.

It was a great night of chess. Ken T withstood a challenge from Mike N with a hard fought draw and Aaron J won his league game for the Flames.

That made the Tigers v Flames match a draw. But the Tigers and the rest of the league can still make up ground on the league leading Rabid Squirrels if Sam T can win or draw with Zach R on their make up game.  Exciting times at LCCC.

Five players – Don J, Ken L, Mike N, Mike S and Tim R attended the Genesee County Open on Saturday. It was a 4 round tournament with each player having one hour for their game (2 hours total per game).

Don Jones took 1st place in the under 1400 section! Another title for the LCCC! His score was 2 – 2, but he beat 1900 and a near 1800 rated player for his two wins! He just kind of ran out of gas there at the end.  But it was an impressive tournament Don.

Don said, “I’m not sure why I did so well. But the high ratings of my opponents helped me relax because I was under no pressure to win. Going into the tournament, I was determined to have fun and not worry about the outcome – and that seemed to help my concentration.”

Your humble scribe can explain Don. Playing in an earlier tournament in Dexter also helped you immensely. Nothing improves your play and concentration like tournament chess. Don has been on fire at the club also. Playing a lot of tournament chess improves your game quickly.

Mike Smith - the consummate chess player. 
Mr. Steady, Mike Smith was 2 -1 -1 after a tough start. But he righted the ship and got a plus score.

Mike Nikitin went 1 – 2 – 1 – after a rougher start than Mike Smith had.

Tim Ritter went  1 – 3 after opening with an impressive win. But as so often happens in a Swiss System tournament, when you win your first round, you are paired up the rest of the way. It makes for a tough schedule. Tim played much better than his score indicates.

Ken L when 0-3-1 and just could not find the form he had at the Michigan Open.
But as usual, win, lose or draw, the tournament was fun and the company at meals was great!

If you like to play chess, tournaments are the real deal. The schedule for upcoming tournaments will be always posted and updated here on this blog.

Keep in mind, if you are a “newbie” to tournaments, an LCCC member will be glad to be at the tournament also to show you the ropes. Besides, the more the merrier.

There are all kinds of tournament types, time limits and locations. Get in the game.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

New Record for Attendance at LCCC on League Night!

VP of the MCA Jeff Aldrich (L) warms up John Rykamp before league play.
Thirty chess players and a few other family members stopped by LCCC last night for league action! It was great to have so many people at LCCC.

One of the visitors was the Vice President of the Michigan Chess Association – Jeff Aldrich.
Jeff played some chess with members before, during and after the league action. Thanks Jeff.

Mr. Aldrich also dropped off flyers for a chess tournament this weekend! The 2014 Genesee County Open. It will be held at the Eastside Senior Center, 3065 N. Genesee Road, Flint, MI. Go in the south entrance off Genesee Rd, just south of the Richfield Road Community Center.
It will be a 4 round tournament with two sections: Open and Under 1200.

League Action in progress
Michigan Chess Association and US Chess Federation membership is required.
Entry Fee is $20 for the Open and $15 for the Under 1200 if paid by 2/12/14. Add $5 after. Payable by Paypal only for early registration.

Contact Jeff at or 810-955-7272 for Paypal invoice.

On site registration is 8:30 to 9:30 and the rounds are 10am, 1 pm, 3:30pm and 6pm.
Time limit is G/60 with 5 second delay.
Cash prizes based on number of entries to 1st, 2nd, Under 1800, 1600 and 1400.
Trophies to Under 1200 to 1st, 2nd, 3rd, Under 1000, 800, 600, 400 and unrated.

Some of us from LCCC are planning on playing in this tournament. If you are interested, please make a comment on the blog or email the chess club and we will assist you with questions or registration.

While the league goes these two ladies finish a practice chess exersize.
On to the League Action:

A few “upsets” were scored. To call them upsets is a little misleading as players are assigned to “boards” that match players strengths fairly closely. But Tim P, Dave L, Tim R and Don J all beat their higher rated opponent. Good job guys.

As usual, only one match was completed as two players postponed their games. But the Sonics defeated the Thunder 3 – 1. This moves the Sonics into 3rd place for now.

The league leading Rabid Squirrels had a rough evening and trail the 49’ers 2 – 1. The Squirrels will need an upset win to draw the match.
These results of the two postponed games could tighten the race considerably.  The Tigers lead their match against the Flames 2 – 1. A win or a draw by the Tigers in the last game gives them a win, and moves them into 2nd place alone.

And a win by the Tigers closes the gap between the two teams regardless. And now the fun part!!

Peaking ahead in the schedule, the Rabid Squirrels meet the Tigers in the last regular season round! Then, there is a position night round after that! They could theoretically play in back to back weeks for the League title. Very exciting!
So if the Tigers can stay in 2nd place next week after their match with the 49’ers, we have a very exciting finish to the season brewing!

In other news; next week is our Blitz Tournament! A blitz tournament is where the games are only 10 minutes long max! Each player gets 5 minutes to play the game. Run out of time first and you lose! It’s fun and very exciting to play or watch.

It’s going to be 6 rounds of action and a lot of fun! If you have not been to the club in a while, stop by and play – it’s free. If you have never been, here is a great low pressure way to get involved. After all, its just speed chess!
See you Thursday at Teekos or next Monday on the 17th for the Blitz Tournament at the Hartland Senior Center.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Thursday 020614 Had Twelve Players and Exciting Chess

That is a new record for LCCC at Teekos with twelve players!
There were plenty of friendly games - of both ladder tournament and non-ladder action.

Some of the players were practicing up for the LCCC League matches that are this Monday. Come on by the Hartland Senior Center to watch the action....and / or play some chess yourself!

Luke S is one of the improving members of LCCC.

In this game, he plays the London System as White against the man who taught it to him and plays it himself - your humble scribe - Mike N.
The impressive style of Luke S is that once he gets an attack rolling, he never lets off the gas. It's the mark of a good chess player.
A fine effort here by Luke S.

1.  d4    d5
2. Bf4   Nf6
3. e3    g6
4. Bd3    Bg7
5. Nf3    O-O
6. Nbd2    b6
7. c3     Bb7
8. h4     Nbd7
9. Ng5    Re8?!

According to Fritz, White is now winning by a half pawn. Better was 9. ….h6 challenging the knight.

10.  h5    e5!
11. hg    fg

Exchanging 11. dxe5 was better for White here. The game is now even.

12. de    Nxe5
13. Ndf3   Nh5?

After 13.  ....  Nh5?
Not the correct plan. 13. …..Nxd3 is needed to take some of the pressure off the white squares in Black King’s home as his white squared Bishop is way over on the queen-side.

14. Nxe5?   ……

In a complex position, both players begin to make errors. Correct is 14. Bxe5  Bxe5, 15. Qc2  Qd6, 16. Nxh7  Kg7, 17. O-O-O  Rh8, 18. Nxe5  Qxe5, 19. Bxg6  Nf6 and White is up two pawns.

14.  ……   Bxe5??

This is the losing move. 14. …..   Nxf4, 15. exf4   Rxe5, 16. fxe5  Qxg5, 17. Qf3  Bxe5 and Black is still in the game.

15. Rxh5!  

If. 15. ….gxh5, then 16. Qxh5 and the defense around the Black King has evaporated.

15. …..    Bxf4
16.  Qg4    Bxg5

Black is down almost three pawns positionally according to Fritz and suggests 16. ….Bxe3, 17. fxe3  Qe7, 18. O-O-O   Bc8, 19. Qd4  Qxe3, 20. Qxe3  Rxe3.

17.  Rxg5   Bc8
18. Qh4   Qd6?
Now the h-pawn for Black will get no defensive help. 18. ..... Kg7 was needed so the rook can get to h8.
19. O-O-O    Re7
20.  Rxd5!  

A nice tactical shot!

20.  ……   Qxd5
21.  Bc4    Qxc4
22. Qxc4    Be6
23. Qh4    Rae8
24. Rd8   

The tactics just keep coming.

24.  ……    Kg7
25. Rxe8    Rxe8
26.  Qd4+   Kf7
27.  Qf4+    Kg8
28.  Qxc7     Bxa2
29.  Qxa7    Bd4
30.  Qd7    Bf7
31.   Qd6    Resigns

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Twenty Five Chess Players on a Cold Week 20314

What better way to spend a winter evening than in our warm, clean and well-lit location for some chess with friends.

We had is all too. We had some league make-up games, some Ladder tournament games, some skittles games (friendly chess), some Fischer Random 960 chess and some speed chess!

We had all ages from 7 to …..well, it is a Senior Center….and I will let it go at that. It was a fun evening, and if you like chess at all, your Monday nights should be reserved for LCCC.

With round 7 completed, it is time to see how the league standings were affected. The Flames tried gallantly, but could only manage a drawn match with the league leading Rabid Squirrels. But they did move into 2nd place alone as the Tigers (3rd) lost to the Sonics. In other action, the 49’ers beat the Thunder.

The league returns next week – Feb. 10 – as the Sonics play the Thunder, the Tigers play the Flames and the Rabid Squirrels take on the 49’ers. But remember, there are still other players milling about looking for challengers. So whether you want to watch some league action or get in the game yourself, stop by.

The ladder action saw some players climb up the rungs. Luke S. made a big move. He is now in challenging distance of the Ladder Leader – Vince V.

Dave S also moved up a few rungs. The Ladder Tournament is a great way to play different people in the club and eventually find opponents near your strength for very exciting games. And that is what the Ladder is all about.

In other schedule news, the Senior Center finally confirmed that they will be open on February 17. So with Feb. 24 and March 3, that gives us three straight Mondays with no league action. So, our Tournament Director Ken T. is planning to hold a Blitz Tournament somewhere in there. Stay tuned for details!

And our chess master from Australia sends this along. I will post Jason’s solution in a few days in the comment section. Until then, enjoy!

Jason says, “I ran into one guy that was very strong, maybe 2200 FIDE. I lost a number of close games before I got him "dialed in" ;-)

This is a position from one of the blitz games we played.

Black's attack looks menacing, but White has a shot. Find it!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Beginner’s Game Corner Analysis: Board Three League Game -012414

Americo M wins this one with Black after falling behind early. There are several lessons in this game. The first one is NEVER GIVE UP!
The first thing I remind myself when I make an error in a chess game is that I am not playing Bobby Fischer or Deep Blue - the Super Chess Computer.
Remember, you are playing a human being who is quite capable of making the same mistake – or a worse one – that you just made. So unless it is truly hopeless, fight on. Americo does just that!

1. d4 d5
2. c4 dxc4
3. g3 Nf6
4. Bg2 g6
5. Qa4+ Bd7

The usual move for White here is E4 with the bishop regaining his pawn at c4. But the g3 move should have tipped off Americo that White’s white squared bishop was heading to Bg2. That is not “book”, so Americo needed to adjust his game to White’s new plan.

6. Qxc4 Bg7?

Americo follows his book opening a little too tightly and fails to notice this little tactic White has. Opening memorization is important, but cannot replace your responsibility to see what your opponents threats are when they vary their play. 6. ….. c6 was required.

7. Bxb7 Nc6
8. Bxg8?! ……..

White was locked in to winning the rook for a bishop, but Bxc6 wins a knight free and clear.

8.……….. Qxa8
9. Nf3 O-O

Can’t blame Americo for thinking safety, but he is still playing his opening blindly. The move ….e5 uses the pin on the knight on f3 by Black's Queen on a8 because White's rook is unprotected on h1. See it now?

10. Bf4 Ne4 ?!        Be6 or Rb1 is better for Black.
11. e3 Qb7
12. b3 Bh3?!   

Americo misses Bg4! And White is actually losing according to Fritz.
For instance, after 12. ....Bh4!, 13. Nbd2  Nxd2  14. Nxd2   Nxd4 (rook is under attack!) 15. e4 Be2! (White can't castle, Queen can't get to f1 to protect the rook, and the Queen is now also under attack!) 16. Qxc7   Qa6! 17. Rc1   Bf3  18. Qc4   Qxc4  19. Rxc4  Bxh1.
Even with the game move, Fritz considers White to only be up a pawn at this point.

13. Rg1 a5
14. a3?  Be6

Position after Black's 14. ......Be6
Americo instinctively does the correct thing and uses his active “extra” bishop before White can use his more powerful rook. So, right now – positionally - White is playing a bishop down, which is why he is having a hard time coordinating his pieces. In addition, he wasted the last two moves not playing Nbd2 to start using his power advantage.
But this is why sacrifices work. If you can spring your attack before your opponent can mobilize his stronger forces, you win. Americo didn’t intentionally sacrifice, but with his extra piece activity and space, it’s like he did.

15. d5?  Bxa1
16. dxc Bxc4           It is an intense positon!
17. cxb e5?

Americo fought back to a near even position and then slips up. The simple Ba6 holds.

18. Nxe5 Ba6?       Too late. … Bxe5 is required.
19. Nd7 Bxb7
20. Nxf8 Kxf8
21. Bxc7 Nc3
22. Nd2?!   a4   

Exchanging pieces is better for White here. When ahead in material, trade pieces to limit your opponent’s chances at counter play.

23. f4   Bd5
24. bxa  Nxa4
25. e4 Bd4
26. Rg2 Bc6
27. Ke2 Nc3+?

This move allows 28. Kd3, Nb4 29. Ba5, Ba7 30. Bb4+ and now with tempos, the king and bishop protect the passed pawn and make space for the sleeping rook to join the game.

28. Kf3?  f5!      White walked into a game leveling pin.
29. a4??   ……

This loses. Be5 or Re2 was needed.

29.  …..    fxe
30. Nxe4 Bxe4
31. Kg4 Bxg2
32. a5 Nd5
33. Be5 Ne3+
34. Kg5 Bc5
35. Kh6? Kg8
36. a6 Be7
37. a7 Nf5++

A pretty finish.