Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Monday 042814: Open Chess and Ladder Tourney

The friendly game a chess is a great thing to do with friends.
With league play last week and next week, some of the LCCC'ers took tonight off. Nine players were in attendance, including the return of Gus S.
Gus is one of our stronger players but has been missing due to college classes, but he is back for the summer - and in the summer league!
To warm up, he played three ladder tournament games, winning all three and he moved right up the rungs! Well done Gus.
The Summer League still has two games to make up. Since it is more of a fun league, the TD is really working to hard to get the games played. Please help Ken T out by making appearances on non-league nights to get the postponements played.

White to move. Spring the trap.
Feedback tells me the last puzzle was enjoyed, so let's try another one.

White to move this time.

To get credit for this one, you must figure out White's THREE next moves. Hint:

Assume Black makes the moves needed to get back to an even game quickly.

The answer will appear in a few days in the comments.

Good luck ....and concentrate!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

First night of Summer League is off and Running!


Enjoy the Royal Game at LCCC
Well if you didn’t sign up for this league, you shorted yourself a good time. Of course any Monday you are not at LCCC, is shorting yourself a good time.
All new teams were formed – based on ratings. Some teams don’t have names yet, but we can still start publishing results.

In the first round, Team #5 defeated the Four Aces (2.5 – 1.5). It was a long struggle on board #4 that decided the affair as the last game running.

Team #3 defeated Team #4 (2.5 - .5), with one game still to play on Board #1.

The final pairing has the Red Dragons vs Team #2 and right now that match is still in doubt with the Dragons holding a (2 – 1) lead. Board #1 will play this Monday to decide the issue!

It is open chess this Monday, with some League games sprinkled in. Come on by for causal chess, a lesson or two or to watch the league action.

Black to move. Find the best next two moves.
Now for a chess puzzle. Find the best move for Black. We are even going to give credit for two possible moves – doubling your chances of success. However, you have to find the first move AND the follow up move!

So even though we will give credit for two paths to an advantage for Black, we want you to come up with Black’s first move, White’s best response and Black’s follow up move.

Hint: Black’s two moves are the same! It’s just a matter of preference as to what order you make them in. Fritz finds no difference in the order of the moves.

Ok, I guess it is not doubling your chances of success. You have to find the two best moves. I was trying to give you confidence.

Solution will be in the comment section in a week or so. Good luck and have fun.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

LCCC Summer League Fills Up! - and Lesson Conclusion

This game was the longest of the night. What a battle!
The LCCC Summer League got 26 players! We even added to our membership as James K. joined our league. Welcome James!

Our Tournament Director Ken T made six 4-person teams - just like we had for the Winter League. Two League Officers voluntarily sat out to make that possible. A tip of the hat to Secretary Don J and Tournament Director Ken T.

The league schedule, the league standings and the Team Lineups will be posted here very soon. We did have a few postponements as some players could not make the League Start night. Twenty-three players total were in attendance.

Serious chess, but in a friendly environment. Come on by!

Our next league night is May 5th, so next week is open chess night! Stop on by and get your chess on.

Feel free to stop by on league night too, and either watch the action or play the folks not in the league or who's games were postponed.

We had five such members this league night. So you can always find a friendly game at LCCC!

Now back to our lesson.

We left off with a homework assignment.

You were suppose to come up with the best move for White in this position.

The lesson here is to refrain from playing "hope chess" or "wish chess" - where you choose your move based on your opponent playing the absolute worst move - so you can spring your little trap.

But what happens when your opponent makes a strong move instead of the dumb one you were wishing for?

The lesson is to always attempt to play the best move possible.

The best move here for White is  Bf5!

Now the response from some will be, "Hold on wise guy. You just told us not to 'hope' for dumb moves from our opponent, like ....gxf5, so we can play Qh5 mate! Now you are saying that Bf5 is a good move?"

Well, yes - because that bishop is heading to e6 next move probably, locking the Black King in the center of the board and cramping his position miserably.

Black cannot stop this manuever of the bishop and putting the knight or e-pawn to e5, still leaves White with Rxe5!

Yes, Bf5 has the cute little trap of gxf5, but that was not why White played the move. THAT is the difference.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

LCCC Monday 041414 – Open Chess – and a Lesson Part 2

Study Time!
Fourteen players were here on a chilly Monday night. Casual chess was played, along with a group lesson put on by the Club President.
The lesson even included handouts to be used for a similar type study – that can be done at home.

It is just as important to also learn 'how to learn' chess.

If you want to pick up the game of chess, or want to get back into it, there is no better place to be than LCCC.

 Ok, back to our blog lesson. Go back one article to the diagram posted there. Set that up on your board. It is White’s move. Have we studied this position? If not, take a look for a few minutes, then read the notes from last time.

Also consider that if White does plan on attacking down the center, maybe he should be thinking of ways of preventing Black’s king from fleeing the center – probably with a maneuver of g6, Bg7 and then O-O. How does White prevent that? Can White prevent it?

Ok, after another few minutes of review, what did White actually play?

  1. Ba3 !?
This move fulfills most of the strategic requirements as White is hoping for a gain of tempo. By threatening the c-pawn forcing b6, then playing 2. Rae1. Then 2…...g6 would be crushed by 3. Qxf6!

White also had an answer for 2…..a6, followed by 3. …..Ne5 would be met with 4. Rxe5.

Nevertheless, 1. Bf4, preventing Ne5 and threatening 2. Rae1, then 3. Bd6 would have been considerably better.

  1. …… Rc8?
Black misses the opportunity to refute White’s move with 1. ….a6! , selling the pawn back to mobilize his e-pawn and stopping the attack on e7. After 2. Bxd7, Qxd7, 3. Bxc5, e5! White’s bishop is threatened so the en passant capture will not be there after the retreat of the bishop. Move order is very important!

2. Rae1     a6
Too late!

3. Bd3  …….

Threatening 4. Qh5+ and mate in two.
3. …..     g6

White to move. Find the best move!

Lets pause again. Now study this position and come up with a strong move for White.


Conclusion – next time!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

LCCC Monday 040714 – Open Chess Night – And a Lesson

Sixteen players enjoyed some chess and some lessons. It was a very nice evening.
We welcomed a new full member to the club – Paul D. Welcome Paul.

Take a look at the following position and find a good move for White.
The answer sometimes is a tip-off to a serious weakness in many club player’s thought and analysis process.
One typical response is that White should play Bg5……because is fxg5, then Qf7 mate!
Another response is White should play Bh6 as …..gxh6 allow Qh5 mate!.

In both situations the White dark squared bishop is immune from capture all right. And both moves may trick your opponent into a quick loss. But does that fact make those moves worthy of being played?

Or - with these moves - is White simply playing "Hope Chess" - where he hopes his opponent falls into a simple trap?

A move should be made because it fits into your strategic game plan (if you don’t have one – you need to have one!), or it improves your position some how - develop your pieces, improve your worst piece, restrict squares of your opponent, or gain squares of your pieces, or safe-guards your king.

Do either of those moves accomplish any of those goals? The answer is of course .....no.
White has a big lead in development – which will evaporate if White drags his feet. White’s moves should be forceful to keep Black so busy defending, he can’t catch up in development. Bg5 and Bh6 doesn’t do that. In fact, they allows Black time to improve their position.

If you suggested a move like Bd2 or Be3, helping to complete White’s development – that is a much better idea. Bf4 is the best move.

However, White should focus his attack on e7 for several reasons:
A)    the e-file is open to White’s rooks.
B)     The e7 pawn can’t move without being captured
C)    The Black king is stuck on e8

White should be anticipating Black’s plans of ….a6  and then Ne5 or hoping for the simplification of Bxd7, Qd7  and White’s strong bishop is no longer a problem.

Study the board……write down your thoughts. We will follow how the game actually went in the next article.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Beginners Corner 040514: Lesson: Always Look for Attacking Moves!

Analysis of our chess games doubles our fun!
White advantage (+)  or Black advantage (-) and all in tenths of a pawn increments  - according to Fritz.
1. e4    e5
2. d3   d6
3. Be2   g6
4.  Nc3    Bg7
5.  Nf3    f5
Voluntarily weakening Black’s kingside. White (+.8)
6. Bg5    Nf6
7. Bxf6?!   Qxf6
“To take is a mistake” as the pin is mightier than the capture. Advantage falls to (+.1)
8. Nd5    Qf7?
Black is allowing 9. Ng5 – giving White a strong move with tempo as Black would have to move the queen again. Qd8 looked ugly, but was fine.
9.  c3?!    O-O?
After White’s move the game was even. Black is still allowing Ng5. But White moves the same pawn one square – twice!
10.  c4?    c6
11.  Nc3    Be6?
Black had a (-.4) lead, but the last move now leaves the bishop in danger of being traded off if White sees that Ng5 move.
12. b3   f4
13. d4?   ……
Allowing 13.  ….   exd4, 14. Nxd4 c5 wins a piece! Instead, Black returns White’s advantage to (+.5).
13.  …..    Na6
14.  d5     cxd5
15.  cxd5?   Bg4
White still misses Ng5 for a full pawn positional equivalent lead instead of (+.5).
16.  Bxa6    bxa6
17.  Qd3    Rac8
18.  Rac1    Qb7
19.  O-O     Rc7
20.  Rc2     Rfc8
21.   Rfc1   …….

The game is EVEN here. Black has a choice of Bxf3 or Qb4 to keep it that way.
21.  ……    a5?
22.  Ng5!    Qb4
Finally White plays aggressively! Black didn’t need a5 before Qb4, so now the move is one move too slow. (+1.5)
23. Ne6   Bxe6
24.  dxe6   Bh6?
Now White has 25. e7!  Rxe7, 26. Nd5 with a fork of Black’s Queen and Rook. Black could play Re8, but Nd5 still is a killer with a (+3). But he not only misses it, but blunders.
25. f3??  ……
Instead of opening up the kingside, the move was h4 to stop all the back rank mate threats for Black. Now ….Qd4+! and White is in trouble with 26. Qxd4, exd4, 27. e7, Rxc3 28. Rxc3, dxc3, 29. Rxc3, Re8 and Black is leading (-2.7).
25. ……    Qb6+
26.  Kh1    Bf8?
If 26. …..Qe3 Black has a (-.5) lead to build on as White’s knight is pinned. Instead,
27. Nd5!    Rxc2
28. Rxc2     Rxc2
29. Qxc2    Qb5
White is up (+4.8) due to the advanced e-pawn, and goes on to win.
Black had chances, but White finally saw the aggressive knight moves in time.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Chess Equipment Mafia is the Real Power

"At least it is smaller than the last 12-inch tall chess lamp they sent me."
Something has got to give. Somebody has got to come along and do it right. Somebody has got to put the customer first in the chess equipment industry.

What is the deal with chess equipment manufacturers and retailers? Do they simply not care? Are the profit margins so incredibly large – or small - that spending a little extra time, money and effort on quality - will just result in a little less profit, instead of a lot more profit?

All my training and experience in my life’s work as a Quality Assurance professional tells me that a focus on the customer and the quality of your products and services – always INCREASES profit. Why is the chess industry – at nearly every facet of it – completely ignoring the satisfaction of their customers and the quality of their duties to their customers?

There has to be a reason why the products made - for lack of a better phrase…all stink! And it does not matter which manufacturer or retailer you go to. They are all the same.

It’s like the old US automotive industry in the 70’s when the Big Three all could not have cared less about their customer. Why? The money still rolled in. That has to be the situation with today’s chess industry.

It starts with the manufacturer. If they produced a quality product, the retailers would not be on the hot seat in the first place. But the manufacturers are ….in a word ….pathetic. And their arrogance and lack of desire to face the public or improve their produces speaks volumes.

Ever try and determine who the manufacturer is of your chess set? It is nearly impossible. Even if they accidentally put their name on a box their product came in, they don’t have a website, email or phone number for you to call. And the retailers protect their wholesalers like a mob hit man protects the Don. You can’t get to the wholesaler or manufacturer – so fa-getabouwtit.

Maybe there is a Chess Equipment Mafia – that must be more ruthless and crooked than ……even….dare I say it…..the Democrat Party!

Let’s say you order a higher end wood chess set - on line – (retailer completely irrelevant), with a clock and a bag and wait anxiously for your package to arrive.

Let’s face it – it’s a lot like Christmas! You can’t wait to tear into the package. As you open it, you mentally see the picture of this beautiful set you saw in the on-line catalogue, the state-of-the-art clock with all the bells and whistles, and that nice bag to carry it all proudly to the tournament or club. You are in a word…..giddy with excitement.

Here is the experience you will encounter 9 times out of 10 – in some fashion – or as I recently had – all of these at once!

You open the box, and pull out the carrying bag. You immediately notice the stitching is weak and unraveling on one side. Oh well, my aunt can sew that corner or I’ll put a safety pin in it. No big deal. I’ll live with it. I can’t wait to carry this set to the club!

Then you pull out that box with the chess pieces and you notice the advertised four pound chess set you ordered seems a lot closer to 2 pounds as you hold it. A postal scale will later verify that the set is over a pound lighter than the ad said it would be.

That’s ok. You ordered it for its beauty. Then you open the box. Your ebony set is spray-painted brown or - if “ebony-like” - a purplish off black color – and is it even real wood or a fake composite wood?

And if you ordered rosewood or a dark-wood set, the grains are all mismatched - or some have very sharp grains and the other dark pieces are almost a solid brown with very little grain showing – and no match at all to the other dark pieces.

Then you look at the “white” boxwood pieces. There are cracks in some of the bases in some of the pieces; some pawns have flat spots on the heads (also on the dark pieces but not as noticeable). The one bishop seems to have a dark stained dot (brown stain?) on its collar…..and one knight is almost blonde – while the other is a caramel color….and glossy. Anyway, the “white” knights don’t match.

Oh well, at least I now own the finest chess clock on the market! I put the batteries in it and test it out. Wait a minute…..one of the buttons seems to stick. Sometimes it works….sometimes it doesn’t.

I start to read the clock directions and in order to change the settings I need a Master’s degree in video game thumb dexterity and have to be able to program an IBM mainframe.

Well let me just scroll thru the different standard clock settings. I’ll just use those.

Wait a minute…….the clock just froze up and I can’t get it to do anything! I have to pull the batteries out of it ……or destroy a paper clip to use it as a plunger to hit the tiny reset button (which they should have made bigger and on the front of the clock since I use it as much as the “sticky” timer button!).

So I call or email my retailer and they cheerfully tell me they will replace the clock and bag merchandize - “and let us know if those replacements we send you - are any good”.

As far as the chess set, “we just changed suppliers. If you want to exchange it or try your luck with another set…..feel free to spin the lottery wheel with us. You see we are making so much money we can afford to trade chess sets with you and keep our investment stock in UPS and Fed-EX going up, up up!”

Ok, only the first two sentences really happened (replacements and changed suppliers), but you get my point.

The retailer has suppliers that are truly awful and the retailer doesn’t care that they are awful. And what is the retailer’s response? “Send it back and try your luck again. You will get something you will live with….eventually. If not, whatever.”

There is no “receiving inspection” or “supplier quality control” going on at the wholesaler or retailer level. Like I said, I think the Chess Equipment Mafia is so controlling and dangerous, that they must be the ones who really know what happened to Hoffa.

Jimmy must of complained a little too loudly that the 4 inch king chess set he ordered had only a 3 inch king. After all, he was told before to……”fa-getabouwtit!”

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

LCCC 2014 Winter League Champs are Crown - Summer League on Tap

Winter League Champs-The Rabid Squirrels!-(l to r)Scott, Luigi, Zach, Ken
The Rabid Squirrels took no prisoners. Needing only a tie to clinch the league title, they went out got a 3 – 1 win against the Tigers.
The Squirrels were the only team to change their names from the given name – Sixers. Maybe that is what propelled them to the championship – a little team spirit!

Team members by board number 1 – 4; Scott Marvel, Ken Tack, Luigi Milani and Zach Romeos.

Besides team spirit, maybe it was their team interchangeability. As the season wore on, all the players improved their play – a lot. So much so, that boards 1 and 2 – then boards 3 and 4 – were almost interchangeable. So the fact that you have a virtual Board One playing on Board Two – and a virtual Board 3 playing on Board Four – almost guaranteed 2 points every single round. That is tough to overcome for the rest of the league.

But the team that almost did that was the UNDEFEATED Flames! Now you may ask -  how does the only team that never lost a match – not win the league? Well, such is chess – as they only won two matched and drew an incredible eight matches! But…..they never lost a match. In the last round, the Flames defeated the Thunder 2.5 – 1.5. Good for second place alone!

The members of the Flames - the only undefeated team - from board 1 to 4 was; Aaron Jagt, Gene McClure, Americo Milani and Zade Koch.

In the other final round, the 49’ers defeated the Sonics 3 – 1.

Now – to the future; The Summer League!
Please let us know if you will be joining us for the LCCC Summer Chess League.
We need you here and you will have a great time being here!
The schedule will be announced soon. Same format as winter, as far as;
  • Each player gets an hour - G/60 (two hour total - starting at 7pm),
  • the teams will be determined by rating - on the 1st night of the league - keeping the teams as evenly matched as possible .
  • League games will be schedule on an every other week or every 3 weeks, depending on holidays and school closures. So there are gaps so you can do other things on other Monday nights during the summer.
  • Make up games (with notice given in advance) are at the discretion of your opponent (and was not a problem in the winter league).
Other fun things are possibly planned for the Summer League are some rounds with different things planned. Things such as;
  • a Chess 960 round
  • an Outdoor Venue round
  • a Blitz and/or Speed round
  • A cross over round - where you play your regular opponent in a 30 minute game, and the player directly above or below you for another 30 minute game - and your total score for the two games decides your result. (1st board plays 1 and 2 and 3 plays 3 and 4).
Any variations the TD (Ken T) decides to use (if any) will be selected and scheduled on a given night BEFORE the teams are chosen. So everything is determined by the luck of the draw!
The idea is to keep it light and lively - after all it is Summer!

Its free - and fun - so let us know by email if you wish to participate.
Or better still, stop by Teekos Coffee on Thursday or even better yet - show up for open chess at the Club on Monday at 6pm at the Hartland Senior Center, and tell us in person!

A Permanent Chess Study Area is a Big Help!

Lighting is important. There is a light over the board, a light to illuminate the reading material on the left, and a light on the right for notes - and writing down move guesses before looking.

Chess books, chess magazines and family pictures are handy above. Two big black felt-bottomed paper weights are there to hold books open if needed.

Coffee on the right.

sA second board is handy on the far right. It is used to hold a position, as you play thru a variation on the regular board. Afterward, you can reset the original position to continue the game review. Quick reference chess notes in a holder on the wall to the left. The window, with the shade up, has a beautiful view of a lawn and trees - for serenity. More chess books to the right.
And finally, the monument to new technology. The computer station for on-line chess and for computer program analysis of games, chess positions and opening theory. Now, with this type of set up, you are ready to study hard an become a chess expert in no time. This.......and 10,000 hours of serious practice.