Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year! Celebrate by Playing in the Michigan Class Championship!

Tournament action at LCCC.
Happy New Year to all chess players everywhere! After all, this blog and the great game of chess - is internationally loved.

Attention all LCCC'ers! Please try and make the 2016 Michigan Class Championship - held in Lansing, Michigan at the Radisson Hotel on January 16 and 17, 2016. 5 rounds of great chess action.

There is the regular 2-day event for Master/Experts, A (1999-1800 rating), B (1799 - 1600 rating), C (1599 - 1400), D (1399 - 1200) and E (1199 and under) players.

There is also a - Saturday ONLY! - or a Sunday ONLY!  - for under 1000 or unrated (new or beginner) players!

In other words - something for everyone, no matter what your playing strength is.

Please go to the Michigan Chess Calendar link on this site, move to the January 2016 page and click on this tournament's link for full information for the cost, the rounds, the time limits, the lodging options and all the other information you will need.

It's great fun to be at a tournament with all your other chess friends from the club.

When you register, be sure you tell the tournament director you are a member of the Livingston County Chess Club. The TD's will make every effort not to pair you with a member of our club. And there is a prize to the club who's top 4 players score the most points!

Hope to see you there!

Events Scheduled at LCCC for next year are:
Jan - League continues
February - Club Championship (may be rated with a small fee and open to any registered chess players)
April - Action Tournament (maybe fee, rated, open)
May - Speed Tournament (maybe fee, rated, open)
June - 960 Tournament (maybe fee, open)
September - League (maybe fee, open, rated)

And they say it is hard to find chess games. No it is not at LCCC!
White to move!

Now for a puzzle.

White to move.

Find the best move.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas to All the LCCC'ers - All Over the World!

Chess is a game for all - all year round!
Here is wishing everyone a great Christmas and a wonderful holiday time.

Our league - Week 6 - finished with the final game being played at Teekos Coffee Shop. An uneventful but positionally tough draw was the outcome between Ken T and Vince V.

On that concept of peace and harmony, here is a draw I played with the Black pieces. More fireworks than the Ken-Vince draw, but a lot more errors made by my opponent and me. Errors usually cause fireworks. Enjoy.

1. e4                    e6
2. Nf3                  d5
3. exd5                exd5
4. d4                    c6
5. Be2                  Bf5
6. O-O                 Nf6
7. c3                    Nbd7
8. Nbd2               Bd6
9. Nh4                 Bg6
10. Re1                  O-O
11. Nxg6               fxg6
12. Nf3                  Ne4
13. Bd3                 Nxf2!
14. Kxf2                Qh4+
White to move after 14. ........    Qh4+
Every game has a defining moment. This is it. Black has a small pawn-size lead with the sacrifice. Unfortunately, both players fail to make the right choice going forward (-1).

15. Ke2??              ………
(-5) This is the perfect panic response move Black was looking for to his sacrifice. White blunders as the ugly looking 15. Kf1 holds the fort (-1.3). Now if Black had the foresight - or guts - to sacrifice one more time, he gets a huge advantage with 15. ….Rxf3!, 16. Kd2 (if 16. Kxf3???, Rf8+ 17. Ke2 , Qf2#), Rf2+, 17. Re2, Re8 18. Qe1, Rexe2, 19. Bxe2, Bxh2.

15. ……..              Rae8+??
Black misses his best shot and now his sacrifice fails (+2.3). White has a nice lead now.

16, Kd2                 Bf4+
17. Kc2                 Qf2+?
(+3.7) Black has lost his mojo but thinks if he keeps pushing, White will make another mistake, so he keeps what is left of his army. But complete liquidation of all of White’s active pieces was required to not lose more ground with 17. ….Rxe1, 18. Qxe1, Qxe1 19. Nxe1, Bxh2.

18. Bd2?               ………
White needed to start pushing his advantage with 18. Re2. But White's probably feels that he still needs to be on the defensive.That is the mental advantage you get with a sacrifice.

18. ………            Bh6?
(+4) Black needed to regain some material with 18. ….Qxg2.

19. Rxe8                Rxe8
20. Kc1??              ……..
White’s big lead is now gone! (+.6). The simple 20. Qf1 protects the pawn, forces a queen trade and locks in White’s advantage. Black got another White error that he was banking on.

20. ……..              Qxg2
21. Bxh6               gxh6
(+.5) I think mental fatigue as set in for both players. I had it after escaping what should have been a crushing disadvantage.
White doesn’t like his restricted pieces. Black hates his King-side pawn structure.Both players were not happy that they both missed golden opportunities.

Draw agreed to.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

LCCC Player Shines at the 2015 Michigan Action Tournament! - Week 6 League Complete

Even a busy chess player like Zorro took the time to record his games!
Lets start with the league play:

The 49'ers continued their dominance over the rest of the league with a 2 - 0 win over the Flyers - and their 1st board did not even play yet! Ken T will play Vince V Monday but it won't affect the standings.

The Tigers defeated the Thunder 2.5 - .5 in the other match.

Congratulations to Paul M, Tom H, Nick D and Sam T on their victories. Gene M and Tim R fought to a tough draw.

The standings and Round 7 pairings will be posted here soon, but the next round is not until January 11, 2016 - so there is no rush.

The star of the day is LCCC's Gene McClure who just played outstanding in the 2015 Michigan Action tournament. This "Action" tournament means that the games were played with a time limit of 30 minutes per player with a 5 second delay for each move. The 'delay' means that if you can make your next move in under 5 seconds, no time is taken off your 30 minute allotment.

This quicker time control leads to some very wild finishes and plenty of blunders. But it is a fun event. The faster time limit allows for more rounds with different opponents in a day and leads to upset!

Gene was gracious enough to annotate one of his wins from this tournament. And he acknowledged that getting 'battle hardened' at LCCC was part of the reason for his success in this tournament. But you still have to be "on" your game and Gene was this day.

Gene's notes will be shown in normal type, Rybka in (  ) and Igor3000's comments in [  ]. Enjoy!

The key position is after 34. b4, where he allows my Queen to attack.  I win a pawn at move 18, but he has compensation and Rybka says he equalizes.

McClure(1529) v. Chris Schmidt(1883)  Game in 30, 5 sec. delay

1. e4      c5
2. c3      d5
3. exd5  Qxd5
4. d4      cxd4
5. cxd4  Nc6
6. Nf3    Bg4
7. Be2    e6 

(7....Bxf6?! 8. Bxf6 Qxd4?? loses to Bxc6+)

8. h3      Bxf3
9. Bxf3   Qd7
10. Be3  Rd8
11. Bxc6  Qxc6
12. 0-0    Nf6
13. Nc3   Be7          [ = : Rybka and Igor3000]
14. Rc1   0-0

White to move after 14. ........O-O by Black.

15. a4     ........

I wanted to post my Knight on b5 and pressure his Queen on the c-file with my Rook.  Rybka prefers 15. Qb3 to allow Nb5.

15.  .......    Rdc8
16. Nb5      Qd7?! 

(+0.6 : Rybka; if protect a-pawn with.....Qa6: -0.2)

17. Rxc8     Rxc8
18. Nxa7     Ra8
19. Nb5       Nd5
20. b3         Rc8
21. Qg4       .........

[Better was 21. Qd3. The queen still pressures Black's king-side but better supports the queen-side also.]

21. ........      Bf6
22. h4?!       .........

(= : Rybka; if 22. Qg3 : +0.6)

23.  .......      Qe7?! 
(+0.5 : Rybka; if 22......Nc3 : = )

23. h5         Qb4
24. Qd1 !     Nc3

[Igor3000 says (+.8) with 24. .......Qe7 or h6, but with Black's weak reply (+1.2)]

25. Nxc3  Qxc3
26. h6       g6? 

(+2.2 : Rybka) [Yes, 26. .......Qb4 was best for Black but hard to see with a shrinking clock time. Big lead for Gene and the White pieces now.]

27. d5?     ..........

(+0.6: Rybka; if 27. Qf3! Bxd4, 28. Bxd4 Qxd4, 29. Qxb7 : +3.1) [Gene's error allows for the upcoming pin of his d-pawn. Time trouble is looming for both players. It is the nature of the event.]

27. ......       Rd8
28. d6         Qc6?! 

(+1.5 : Rybka; if....28......Be5: +0.7) [Igor has the text move and Be5 at (+.7)]

29. Bf4?     e5!

(+0.2 : Rybka; if 29. Qf3! and trade Queens: +2.0)
[The game is back to even now. So who will handle this complex position the best under time pressure? That is an easy answer - the good guy from LCCC, that's who!]

30. Bg3     Rxd6
31. Qe2     Qd5
32. Rc1      Rd8
33. Re1      Re8

White to move after Black's 33. .......   Re8
34. b4        Qd4? 

(+1.0 : Rybka; if 34......Bg5 : =)
[34. Qd1 was called for (+.2) instead of (-.3) with 34. ......Bg5]

35. Qb5 !    Rd8? 

(+2.0 : Rybka; Time pressure probably impacted him at this point, as we both had less than 2 minutes)

36. Qxb7      Qd2
37. Rf1        Qxh6
38. Qc7?      

(+0.8 : Rybka; if 38. a5 ! : +2.4)
[The old chess adage, "Passed pawns must be pushed!" applies here.]

38. .......         Qd2
39. b5            Ra8?? 

(+5.0 : Rybka; if 39........Qe2 : +0.9)
[The final nail in Black's coffin]

40. b6 !          Qb4
41. Qc6 !       Qxa4?? 

(+16.0.  After taking the Bishop, the b-pawn will Queen and mate follows).

42. Qxf6         Re8
43. Bxe5        Kf8
44. b7            Resigns

A fine win by Gene M! 
Gene scored 4 points out of a possible 6 and finished tied for 1st in his class and ahead of everyone in his 100 point rating bracket. Gene scored two wins over players rated much higher than himself.

Great job Gene! 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Week Five Done - Five Arrive for Week 120715

 We had five players on a foggy foggy night.

Tim R won his game to give the Tigers a 2.5 - .5 victory.
This put the Tigers in second place alone!
Here are the full standings - half way thru the season:
49'ers - 8 points
Tigers - 4 points
Thunder - 3 points
Flyers - 3 points
Owls - 2 points

The matches for next week - Monday Dec. 14:
Flyers vs 49'ers
(W) Vince V vs (B) Ken T
(B) John R vs (W) Paul M
(W) Dan W vs (B) Tom H

Thunder vs Tigers
(W) Gene M vs (B) Tim R
(B) Luke S vs (W) Nick D
(W) Zack R vs (B) Sam T
White to move. Find the best one.

The Owls have a bye.

Now for a puzzle. Find the best move for White!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Round Five of LCCC League 2015 Almost Complete

We had one match that could not be played due to work. Sometimes work gets in the way of life. I hate when that happens.
But we still had one match decided regardless.
The Thunder clinched a team win with a 2.5 - .5 victory over the Flyers. Congratulations to Luke S and Zack R on their wins. Gene M and Vince V agreed to a draw.

The match between the Tigers and the Owls has the Tigers up 1.5 - .5 as Sam T won and Nick D and Don J drew. The make up match on Thursday at Teekos between Tim R and Mike N will decide that one. Stay tuned.

White to make move #13.
Now here is a 10-minute game your humble scribe played on line with Black. We pick the game up at an even point. 

13. Be3      c6
14. c4         a6
Igor3000 says my moves are too slow as 13. ......a5 and then a4 - or - at least 14. .......Qc7 were better ideas for a small advantage. But now the game tips in White's favor after his next move (+.6).

15. Ng5         b5
16. Qd3?!      Nf8!
17. Qf5          f6
Now it was apparently White's turn to drift. I have a (-.5) after 18. Ne4, bxc4.
The reason I am even printing this game is because at this point, Igor3000 finds this exact position in a grandmaster game! And he says that our moves thru #17 was the last "book" move. Obviously not in the same move order, but still incredibly, my opponent and I got in the same position as two grandmasters did - and in a 10 minute game by two rank amateurs!
But because I am not a grandmaster, I quickly stop making grandmaster moves as my clock winds down. As a matter of fact, I flat out blunder.

18. Ne6        Qe8
19. Nd4        bxc
20. Qf3?       d5
21. Nf5         Rb8?
My plan was to start a counter attack on the Queenside (-.6). But Igor3000 says I do better (-1) with 21......Ng6, eyeing the e5 post for the knight. Sure, easy to see now.

22. h5          Qb7
23. Bd4       Ne6
24. Qg4       Bf8??
An incredibly silly blunder (+1). With the clock getting shorter, I made a reflex move. But, 24. .....Kf8 25. Rhe1, Bb4  26. Re3, Nxd4 27. Qxd4, h6  28. Rxe8, Rxe8  29. c3, Re4 and I stay winning (-.6).

25. Bxf6       c5
26. Rhe1       d4?
Wrong again (+2). Unbelievably 24. ....c3 was correct to wreck White King's castle - one way or another - for counter play.
Lesson: Look for counter play plans when losing and not just defense.
27. b3          Qd7
28. Bxg7      Bxg7
29. h6          Rb7??
The fatal error. 29. ....Qc7 keeps up the fight. 30. Re4, cb 31. axb, Kh8 32. Rde1, Bf6 33. hxg7, Qf6 34. Nd6, Re7 35. Nxc4, Qxg7.

30. hxg7      Nxg7
31. Qxg7+    Qxg7
32. Rxe8+    Resigns

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Nine Players Make Casual Chess Night on 112315

Winter is chess time!!
A nice mix of casual chess, lessons and chess discussion. A nice night of friendly banter and chess on the first snowy Monday of the new chess season.

We welcome a new member to LCCC tonight......Steve P. Steve mentioned he has been away from chess for a while. Well, he has found the right home at LCCC.

Next week is league play. The schedule is posted on the previous post. Be sure to stop by to watch some great league action - or play some of the LCCC regulars who are not in the league. Either way, its a great night of chess.

Now a treat for my readers - another game by Boris Spassky. Here is plays White against the East German Champion - Lothar Zinn in the Student Olympiade in 1961. Notes by Anthony Soltis.... way before computers. [Notes by Igor3000 and your humble scribe]

1. d4          d5
2. c4          c6
3. Nf3        e6
4. g3          dxc
5. Bg2       b5
6. O-O       Bb7
7. b3!        .........
A fine positional sacrifice which offers Spassky strong pressure against the now exposed b5 pawn and backward c-pawn. [Well, Igor3000 puts that last move as no big deal as the advantage is the same as the start of the game for White (.3).

7. .....           cxb
8. Qxb3       Nf6
9. Nc3         Be7
10. Ne5        a3!
11. Be3?!     O-O
12. Ne4       Nd5
13. Rfc1      a5
14. Bd2       Qb6
15. Qb2!      ......
Very deep. With Black's pieces asleep on the Queen flank, White aims at Nc5. Black will eventually be forced to capture with his Bishop - allowing dxc5. This grants White strong play on the Queen file, an outpost on d6 and chances on the long diagonal he now occupies.
[All that may be true, but it is still an even game if Black stays strong and correctly counters these potential advantages. (Even)]

15. .....         Rc8?!
16. Nc6        Ra7?
Simpler was 16. ....Bxc5.
[Igor3000 gives 16. ....Na6 or Qc7 as only slightly worse. The last two moves in tandem give White his first real edge. This is a great example of how slow and steady pressure on someone forces mistakes (+.5).]

17. e4        Nf6
18. Be3!     .......
Threatens d5 (with a discovered threat to the Queen to follow) and it vacates the Queen file.
[Igor3000 says 18. Nc4 is better (1.4) than the text "good" move (.6).

18. ......       Bxc5
19. dxc       Qc7
20. Rd1       Ne8
That Spassky wins this game is not remarkable, as Black is playing without three pieces. Now White aims at Black's two weak points - e6 and f7 [.9].

21. Bh3 [?!]     ......
[Igor3000 says 21. Rd6 is better because of 21. ...Nxd6 22. cxd, Qxd6 23. Bxa7 (1)]

21. ......         Qe7
22. Rd6!       .......
[22. Rd2 is just as effective, just not as flashy.]

22. ......        Ba6?
[(.9) Igor3000 says 22. ......Rc7 is much better at (1.4). But Black is crumbling under Spassky's constant pressure.]

23. Rad1       Rb7?
[(2.9)] Black needed 23. ....Qf6 to pin the knight to the unguarded Queen at b2.
White to move after Black's 23. .....Rb7?

24. Nxf7!       ........
Once you realize that f7 is the key target, the preparation for and completion of this sacrifice is almost routine. On 24. .....Nxd6, 25. Nxd6, Rd8 26. Qe5 threatening Qxe6 and Bg5 is a winning line. [(3.7) But this is better than the line chooses [+7].

24. ......           Kxf7
25. Bxe6+      Qxe6
26. Rxe6        Kxe6
27. Qb3+       Ke7
28. Qg8!        ..........
Given some time (maybe 10 moves) Black's material might mean something in this game. But the entrance of the White Queen and another sacrifice gives Black no chance. The current threat is Bg5+.
[Igor3000 doesn't believe Black has any chance as White is up (+9). Watch how methodically Spassky brings home the point - giving Zinn no shot to get any counter-play.]

28. ......         h6
29. Rd6!       Nxd6
30. cxd+       Kd7
31. Qxg7+     Kxd6
32. Qxh6+     Kd7
33. Qg7+      Kd6
34. Qf6+      Kc7
35. Qe5+      Kd7
36. Qf5+      Kc7
37. Bf4+       Kb3
A quick mate would follow with 37. ...Kd8 38. Qf8+, Kd7 39. Qf7++

38. Qxc8      Ka7
39. e5           Resigns

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Fourteen Players Make Week 4 of the 2015 League

For everyone and anyone who thinks league night is just for league players, well you could not be more wrong. We had two members available for games while the league went on, and even some chess after the league games.

Plus, watching the league action is always entertaining.

We had our first league night where all the combatants made it to the league night and this round was completed.

Lets congratulate the winners; Ken T, Mike N, Nick D, Zack R and Tom H.

Don J. and Luke S drew their game.

Now for the Match results:

The league leading 49’ers won again, beating the Tigers 2 – 1. This gives the 49’ers a BIG lead already in the league race.

The Owls and the Thunder drew their match 1.5 – 1.5.

Now the 49’ers have the bye next week (Nov 30), but they won’t be caught for the league lead….yet.

49’ers – 8 points
Flyers – 3 points
Tigers – 2 points
Owls – 2 points
Thunder – 1 point

The pairings for next week (Week 5) are:
 Tigers vs Owls
(W) Tim R vs (B) Mike N
(B) Nick D vs (W) Don J
(W) Sam T vs (B) Jay S

Flyers vs Thunder
(W) Vince V vs (B) Gene M
(B) John R vs (W) Luke S
(W) Dan W vs (B) Zach R

Bye week – 49’ers

Now for a puzzle:

White to move and win!

There is one really really good move for White!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Ten Players Make Casual Chess Night 110215

It was a fun night of chess. Some casual chess, some lessons, a in depth review of some unusual options in the French Defense and some friendly chat. A good evening

One league game was left to be played – and it was. Congratulations to Dan W on his win.

This gave the Flyers a 2 – 1 win over the Tigers. Here are the standing – but keep in mind - some teams have not played every round and some have not had their bye week yet.

49’ers – 6pts
Flyers – 3 pts
Tigers – 2 pts
Owls – 1 pt
Thunder 0 pts

The matches for next week are:

Owls vs Thunder
(W) Mike N – (B) Gene M
(B) Don J – (W) Luke S
(W) Jay S – (B) Zack R

Tigers vs 49’ers
(W) Tim R – (B) Ken T
(B) Nick D – (W) Paul M
(W) Sam T – Tom H

It will be another exciting night of chess action. Come on by and watch or play a casual game against others either not in the league or have the bye week.

Black to move and win!
And now, another tough puzzle:

Black to move and win.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Any Chess Game is an Event to Cherish

As you sit to play a chess game, you extend your hand to your opponent. But this handshake is more than a greeting. It is an acknowledgement from both of you - of a thank you to the chess gods - for this opportunity to create something artistic - from these figures of wood or plastic - on sixty-four squares of canvas.

The clock is started. It is a subtle reminder to all of us that we have only so much time, and we must use it wisely.

The game begins when the Leader of the White army’s hand reaches forward and unites a single member under his command and advances him towards the enemy.

This soldier is placed into position - really not by the hands of the player - but by his mind.  The mind which must stay focused on the target of the opposing King, but must weigh the risk to his own safety at the same time.

Tempo is everything; perfection unobtainable. There is always a slight nod, a tiny shake of the head, or a rubbing of the forehead by all players. This is an acknowledgement to the chess gods is we - as mere players of this game - are fallible.

And now the battle is on with advantage usually shifting back and forth, pulled by the powers in heaven and even the powers from inside the earth

The chessmen are alive. This chess game is a living sculpture with a unique characteristic – all its own.

A tuning fork goes off in your heart and your mind. It is such a pure feeling when that well-conceived strategy we developed all alone is somehow going undetected by our always worthy and noble adversary. That feeling is the reason the game keeps us in it's grasp.

Now to the conclusion of the game. It is usually sudden, and is always emotional at some level.  The finish is sometimes due to a player temporarily granted a tiny bit of the the creativeness of Morphy, the positional strength of Browne, the tactics of Tal, the mental brawn of Petrosian, or the pure genius of Fischer.

But usually it is due to the fact that someone has strayed a little too far away from the unattainable….and can no longer achieve the ultimate goal of victory.

Win, lose or draw, we once again extend our hand. This time it is a warm thank you to the person who granted you the honor of the opportunity to create a unique work of art.  And one that will never -  ever - be re-created exactly the same way again.