Tuesday, September 30, 2014

LCCC League for 2014-2015 Begins

Half the fun and most of the learning is in reviewing the game with others.
We have four teams that will battle this year. Or do we? The schedule may be adjusting, but let’s recap the Monday Night action shall we?

First – the teams (team names may change if requested by the Team):

Team 1 – Oilers
Tim R
Sam T
Tom H
Ted G

Team 2 – Tigers
Vince V
Paul M
Luigi M
Luca M

Team 3 – Thunder
Gene M
Luke S
Zach R
Player TBD

Team 4 – 49’ers
Ken L
Dave S
Americo M
Marcello M
The Tigers faced the Oilers in this first round and the Oilers won the match 2.5 – 1.5 as a top board draw that ran late locked it up. That game will be featured here soon.

That leaves the Thunder against the 49’ers and right now the Thunder have a 2 – 0 lead. But, the Thunder was missing their last two boards as Zach R was out sick and ….well, we have not determined the last member of the team. That will be a tournament committee decision to be made later.

We actually have 3 players who may want to take that last spot. Plus, we have two players sitting out. That’s five players looking for a spot. Maybe we will add one player to the Thunder, then add a team, and add bye weeks to the schedule.

In other words, it is not too late to join the league! Team 5 can be formed easily and a Team 6 would even make scheduling easier.

So a second chance to join a fun league is still possible. Email the club or visit the club early next Monday and ask to sign up. Remember, it's all about chess!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Slow Night at LCCC Before the Big League Night

Chess players begin at LCCC!
Seven players stopped by the week before the league starts.
That is more than we had last year on the same night – so that’s progress I guess.

Top players battling last year.
Please read the earlier posts for the details of the league. It will be a fun way to add some activities to your winter schedule. The commitment is only every other Monday or so, to play is a really fun, and evenly challenging league.

If you are a strong player, we have some competition for you. If you are a beginner, we have other beginners for you to play against and better players to review your game with you and help you get better.

Write us at our email and tell us you are in or show up September 29 at 6pm to 6:30pm to register for the league. The first round will start at 7pm.

This chess league is loads of fun and chess experience for all ages and abilities. Join today!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Come From WAY Behind Victory – Morals: Never Get Lazy / Never Quit

Chess is a great Fall - Winter activity. Come join us!
This game is from the Mid-America Class Championship in Chicago, Illinios in 1990. 

The player’s identities and ratings will be hidden because the winner was guilty of making very silly moves during the game.

He only allowed us to use this game if we kept his identity a secret.

Only the players initials will be given, and no hint of their playing strengths will be forthcoming.
We strive never to embarrass players – so don’t ask for those details. The records are sealed! On to the game.
Mike Nikitin (W) (1528) and T. B. (Iowa) (B) (1683)
1.     e4     e6
2.     d4    d5
3.     e5     c5
4.     c3     Nc6
5.     Nf3     Qb6
6.     Na3     f6?
One move too early. 6. …cxd4 is book, then f6. It’s the right move even after White’s next move.
7.     Bb5     Bd7?!
8.     Bxc6    Bxc6
9.     O-O     Nh6?
A knight on the rim is grim (+2.4 for White!). 10. exf, gxf 11. dxe, Qxc5 12. Nd4, Kd7 13. Qh5 and it’s looking bad for Black. White missed it however.
10. Nc2?!    Nf5
11.  g4     Ne7
12. Rb1?……
White was winning (+1), but he keeps wasting moves. He wants to develop his bishop, but 12. dxc, Qxc5 13. Be3 is stronger and quicker. Now the game is even.
12.  …..Bb5
13. Re1    Nc6
14. Be3?   …….
Much better was 14. exf6! , gxf  15. Rxe6. But White is thinking only defense and wasting moves and opportunities.
14.  ……  Qc7
15. Bf4    fe
16. Bg3    Be7
17. Qd2    O-O
18. Ng5?    Bxg5
Black’s e-pawn has been hanging for a few moves now. White is too worried about imaginary threats instead of looking for chances for himself. All these wasted moves by White gives time Black needs to take the initiative (-1.3).
19. Qxg5     Qf7
20.   de        Bd3
White to move after 20. .....Bd3
21. Rbc1     Be4
22. Qe3      Qg6
23. Qe2     Bf3
24. Qf3     Qxg4
25. Qxc5     Qh3
Threatening mate in one and Black is now winning big (-5.5).
26. Ne3     Be4
27. Qb5     Rf3?
The simple 27. ….Nxe5 threatens Nf3 next and the fork of White’s King and Black would be up (-6). But the text move cuts White’s deficit in half (-3).
28. Qf1     Qh5
29. Rcd1     Nxe5
30. Rd2?     Rf6??!
Instead, 30. …. Rxe3! 31. Bxe5, Rxe1 32. Qxe1, Qf3 33. Qxe4, Qxe4 and it’s over! Instead, White escapes disaster to fight on, despite the fact he falls farther behind   (-4.3).
31. Bxe5     Qxe5
32. Qh3     Rh6?
This is the first of three straight questionable moves by Black. 32. …  Qf4 keeps White on his heels. Instead White gets counter-play.
33. Ng4     Qg5?
Black is overconfident and plays on auto-pilot thinking the position will win itself. 33. ….  Rg6 is a more economical way to pin the White knight to the King, freeing the Black Queen for better duty.
34.  f4     Qg6?
35. Qg3    Rh5
36. Re3     Rf8
37. Rdf2    Rhf5
38. Ne5     Qh5
39. Ng4    Qg6
Black’s advantage has evaporated and up only a pawn up in material. Black simply fell into the dreaded pitfall of “overconfidence – itis”. Once he got a great position over a lesser rated player, he stopped working. But the chess pieces don’t move themselves and the General still has to work until there is total victory or surrender.
To put it in the prospective of today’s view of the news – the Commander-in-Chief  of the winning side - went golfing instead of tending to business.
40. Ne5     Qxg3
41.  hg     Rh5
42. Rh2     R8f5
43. R3e2     Rxh2
44. Rxh2     g5
45. Ng4     Rf8
As his huge edge has faded, Black is now demoralized and is not thinking clearly. It’s the endgame and it is time to get the King into the game with Kg7 (-.3). White is still slightly behind, but winning positionally. White has the more active minor piece as Black’s own pawns block the Black Bishop’s scope of the board.
46. fg      Rf3
47. Nf6+     Kg7
48. Nh5+?    Kg6
It’s hard for White to see that taking the bishop and doubling Black’s center pawns is now the correct play. The worthless check and keeping the Knight only activates Black’s King further (-2.4).
49. Nf4+      Kxg5
50. Nxe6+    Kg4
51. Nd4     Rxg3+
52. Kf2      Rh3?
Advancing the h-pawn first with h5 was much better (-1.5).
53. Rxh3     Kxh3
54. Ne2     Kg4
55. Kg1      Bf3
56. Nd4     h5
57. Kh2     h4
58.  a4     a5
59.  b4     ab
60. ab     h3?
White correctly places his pieces on dark squares. Black’s best plan is to centralize his King and activate his bishop on long diagonals. Then White has to waste time eliminating the abandoned h-pawn, while Black moves to the Queenside and overloads the White Knight’s defensive abilities with his King and Bishop.
But instead, Black pushes on the King-side to a drawish position – until….
61.  a5     Bg2??
This move to secure the h-pawn actually loses for Black!! White visualized this favorable ending since move 56 when he started setting it up and was thrilled and relieved when Black walked into it.
62.  b5!     Kf4
Black now realizes he can’t stop White’s pawns on the queenside.
63.  a6     ba
64. ba     Ke5
65. Nc6     d4
66.  a7     d3
67.  a8(Q)    d2
68. Qa4+     Kf5
69. Qa5+    Resigns
  This is why we love chess. One wrong flinch….. and the tables turn. White was a punching bag for 61 moves, but pulls off the guillotine choke in the last 7 moves!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Monday 091514 Open Chess Fun – And LCCC Team League Starts Sept 29!

Fifteen players showed to play and practice some chess. Some Club Ladder games were played also. Mike N withstood two challenges and Marcello M moved up 3 spots on the ladder with a win!

We had a new player join us tonight – Alex M from Taylor, MI. Welcome Alex.

Even though Alex didn’t set the record for distance traveled to make it to LCCC (a man from Colorado has that distinction), he still made a great effort to visit us. We appreciate that and hope he visits as often as possible.
Alex had a strong showing in the Michigan Open a few weeks ago, scoring 4.5 points. Great job Alex. We needed you on our team. You can join our team for the next Michigan Open.
Paul Mills in LCCC tournament action
Also discovered was that Paul Mills modestly finished 2nd in the Michigan Open Speed Championship in the Under 1200 section! He scored all his points against players all rated higher than himself-  by 100 to 700pts higher! Great job Paul and welcome to the LCCC Hall of Fame!
Now for some exciting news – The 2014 – 2015 LCCC Team League starts in TWO WEEKS! Sign up now! It is open to all – just sign up. All we ask is that if you sign up – be there on September 29 by 6:30 as we will try to start the games at 7pm sharp! The cost:  FREE!
If you don’t sign up ahead of time, but decide you still want to play – be there by 6:15 or earlier – so we can set your rating and get you in the pairings.
This is a team league – running every 2 or 3 weeks thru the winter. That way it is not a commitment every week. Well, weather permitting – which with the predictions being made – snow nights may creep into the scheduling and back us up. But let’s not concern ourselves with weather predictions. The plan is games to be scheduled every 2 or 3 weeks.
Players will be listed by rating and the teams will be drawn in the zig-zag Fantasy Draft method. Players will play on the board number with players of similar strength. Example: the #1 rated player will have the lowest rated #2 player on his team , but the #1 rated 3rd rated player and the last rated #4 player and so on. All the #1's will play each other, all the #2's, etc.
We had 24 players (6 teams of 4 players each) in the league last year and would like to expand it to 8 teams (with 4 players) this year  (32 players) – or 6 teams of 6 players each (36 players).
If our friends from Ann Arbor, Flint, Midland, Lansing, Taylor and other venues and clubs around decide to make the travel effort, we will have the start of a near old-Metro League chess league! The games may even be rated by the USCF -  if so desired.
All I can tell you is – the league was a lot of fun for players of all levels. It’s a chance to play some semi-serious chess, make new friends and enjoy a real nice facility in which to play chess. Plus there is casual chess before the round and / or analysis of your game after the round, if you desire.
Sign up today! You won’t regret it if you like chess.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

FM Seth Homa Annotates! - and a Nice Monday of Open Chess at LCCC

Seth Homa doing a simultaneous exibition at LCCC!
We had eleven players tonight playing chess and giving lessons. A nice evening. But what a treat we have for LCCC readers!

FIDE Master (FM) Seth Homa graciously annotated one of his wins in his title winning 2014 Michigan Open and sent it to LCCC!

For all the fans of chess, this is a wonderful look into how a chess master looks at a chess board. A lesson - actually several - for all of us mere mortals who enjoy the greatest game on earth. Enjoy!

 Michigan Open 2014, Dearborn, MI., 2014.08.30 – Round 3
[White "Homa, Seth", 2464]
[Black "Hubbard, Andrew", 2147]
[Result "1-0"], [ECO "A46"]
Seth: “This is one of two games I played while proudly wearing my Livingston County Chess Club shirt. I went 2/2 with it, including this victory over FIDE Master, Andrew Hubbard.
[Editor's note: Seth, we are honored you wore it! PS: My LCCC shirt worked for me too!!!]

1. d4    Nf6
2. Nf3    e6
3. Bg5 …..
The Torre Attack is none too popular at master level play, although it carries some bite against the Nimzo move order.}
3. …..     c5
4. e3    b6
This is a small slip. Black had to exchange on d4 first before fianchettoing his queen's bishop.
5.  d5  ……
After this move, Black went into a deep think of 25 minutes.
5. ……   exd5
6. Nc3    …..
He can't let the d5-pawn stay or else his development would have been cramped. White's idea here is to recapture on d5 with a piece, as that will be the best method of fighting against Black's backward d7-pawn. Needless to say - 6. Bxf6 , Qxf6 7. Qxd5, Qxb2 8. Qxa8, Qc1+ 9. Ke2, Ba6+ 10. c4 Bxc4# would be embarrassing for White.
6...... Be7
7. Nxd5 Bb7
8. Bxf6   ……
All enemy pieces that can possibly fight for the d5-square must be exchanged.
8. …..     Bxf6
 9. c3   ……
Closing the a1-h8 diagonal. Black's dark-squared bishop is just a spectator.
9. …..    Nc6
10. Bc4    O-O
11. O-O    Re8
12. Qd3    ……
White's development is free and easy. All of his attention is focused on the backward d-pawn and on the squares in front of it.
12.  …..     d6
13. Rad1  …..
White has a clear edge. Black has no real play here.
13. …..     Ne5
Seeking to ease the pressure on his position through exchanges.
14. Nxe5   ……
White shouldn't be too fixated on the idea of a clearly better pawn structure. In chess, you must always be flexible in your thinking.  Here, I decided to "straighten out" Black's pawns in order to grab the initiative against Black's kingside and also along the d-file. Statics for dynamics.
14. …..      dxe5
Both 14...Bxe5 and 14...Rxe5 would have been met by 15.f4! with a different kind of suffering.
15. Qf5     ……
White's activity is quite scary.
15. …..     Bc8
There was no real option of taking my strong knight. For example: 15... Bxd5  16. Bxd5, Qc8 (Intending to meet 17.Qxc8? with 17...Raxc8! avoiding material loss) 17. Qh5 g6 18. Qf3 is devastating.
16. Nxf6+    Qxf6
17. Qxf6     gxf6

After Black moved 17. ......gxf6
Yet another transformation of advantages has occurred. White exchanged queens which greatly diminished his attacking power. However, he still holds the initiative thanks to his control over the d-file. True, I've also regained the better pawn structure but it will be next-to-impossible to exploit Black's doubled pawns.
18. Rd6      Kg7
Black cannot solve his problems through exchanges. For example:  18...   Be6 19. Bxe6,  fxe6 ({Or} 19... Rxe6 20. Rd7) 20. Rd7 {and Rfd1.})
19. Rfd1    ……
It is clear that Black is suffering but it is not entirely clear that the game is lost. There is more work to be done.
19.  …..     Re7
Black's problems were compounded by having only 26 minutes left to make move 40.
20. f3      …….
I am very proud of this move. It seems anti-positional. In a battle between two light-squared bishops, one is not supposed to place pawns on the color of one's own bishop. So what gives? The only exception to the above rule is when you are building a wall to limit the scope of the other guy's bishop. Let us imagine for a moment that I had played 20.g3 instead, and that the black bishop was on b7. It is clear that this guy would be very active and would perhaps settle on the f3-square. Now let us imagine the black bishop on b7 but a wall of white pawns on e4, f3 and g2. It is clear that this would shut down the black bishop permanently. My own bishop does not care - it will remain active!
20.  …..    f5
This looks completely harmless now, but it will turn out to be the fatal weakening in Black's position. Somehow Black had to stay still and not create more weaknesses for himself. I am not sure what to suggest, however.
21. Kf2   ……
Following one of those golden rules in chess - King towards the center in an endgame.
21.  …..    Bb7
22. a4      …..
Grabbing space and laying the groundwork for a later a4-a5, creating some queenside pawn weaknesses. Yet another pawn on a light square!
22. ……       Rb8
A nice defensive move. If White plays a4-a5, he will have to reckon with pressure against his b2-pawn.
23. Bb5      ……
Finally it is revealed why ...f5 was a bad move. I am intending Bd7 next, hitting the f5-pawn. It is not easy to protect.
23.  …..      Rc7
Andrew had just 7 minutes left to reach move 40. This is important to understand White's next move.
24. b3      …….
This is a horrifying move to face when low on time. I am keeping all options open and Black must calculate all of them.24. Rd7 was strong as well, but in general you don't want to play forcing moves when your opponent is in time pressure because he'll be looking at those moves the most.
24. .....      a6
Now the b6-pawn has become loose. White's play has provoked enough weaknesses for him to change the character of the position yet again.
25. Bd7    ……
White is fine with a double rook endgame. In these kind of endgames, rook activity is everything. I will have two active castles and Black will have two very passive ones.
25.  …..     Bc8
26. Bxc8     Rcxc8
27. R1d5      ……..
Black's rooks are tied down to defending the e5-pawn.
27.  …..      Re8
28. Rc6      Re7
29. Rdd6    ……
And also the b6-pawn.
29.   ……     Reb7
Black is just barely holding on. I need a third weakness to attack.
30. Kg3     ……
Black is just about in zugzwang. My simple idea is to eat the f5-pawn with my king via h4 and g5. Note that the queenside pawn structure is perfect. If Black plays ...a5 I will close the queenside forever with c4!  If he instead tries ...b5, then I will play a5.
30.   …..     Kf8
31. Rd5      Re8
32. e4      …….
A small change of plans. I was a little afraid of possible counter-play against my g2-pawn should my king go wandering. This fear was not justified. Black has no time for ....Rg8.
32. …..     fxe4
33. fxe4     Kg7
34. Rdd6     Reb8
35. Kg4      …….
Back on the right track. Kf5 is the threat.
35.  ……      h5+
36. Kf5     ……
I don't want that pawn. I'll take this pawn!
36.  ……     b5
37. a5       c4
38. b4      Re8
39. Rxa6    ……
Black had just 5 seconds left and his position was beginning to collapse completely, so he decided to resign here.
[Editor's note: Thank you Seth!]

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

2014 Michigan Open – LCCC’ers Had a Great Time!

1st Place Under 1000 section!
It was a return home of sorts for your humble scribe as I returned to the same hotel where I won my Class C State Title in the Michigan Open in …..gulp……1990.

It is still a nice venue for a chess tournament. We had to use the small meeting rooms on Saturday due to a wedding, but the Grand Room on Sunday and Monday was …..grand…..for chess.
In the Team Competition, LCCC finished 4th again, even without our “big guns” (high rated players)present this year.

Sam Thompson led the way with 5 points out of 7! He took 1st place in the Under 1000 category, and he also took 1st place in the Under 1200 Michigan Speed Chess Championship! Great job Sam!
Pat Kinnicutt and Mike Nikitin were next with 4.5 points each.

Andrew O’Doherty and Paul Johnson had 4 points each. Paul Johnson also took 1st place in the MI Open Speed Chess Championship for the Unrated Section! Great job Paul!
John Ryskamp finished with 3 points, missing the last day due to work.

Zade Koch had 2.5 points, with Tom Hosmer  and Emily Kinnicutt finishing with 2 points each.
1st Place Under 1200 Speed section!
Paul Mills also participated in the Speed Championship for LCCC.

And thanks to our Treasurer Vince Valente, who showed up to watch a few rounds, cheer us on and support us in between rounds with advice.
Thanks to everyone for representing LCCC so well at our state championships.
More pictures and some games from the tournament to be posted soon.
Also, stay tuned for the details of our 2014-2015 Team League starting soon!