Monday, May 25, 2015

An Endgame Battle for Memorial Day 2015

White to move after 26. .....Bxd8

Here we have a position with Black winning slightly (-.3) due to his bishop pair on an open, two pawn island board.
White’s best plan is to challenge Black’s pawns while the Black bishops are still relaxing on the back rank. 
White should be thinking ‘draw’ and not trying to win here. 27. f3, or g4 or even b4 are all good options. 
Trading pawns gets White closer to a forced draw. The text move is OK but a little slow starting the ‘Plan’.

27. Ke2                       Kf7
28. f3                           exf3
29. gxf3                       b5?
The wrong plan for Black. The correct move is to activate a bishop with 29….Bc7, freezing the knight by x-raying an attack on White’s g-pawn. The game is now EVEN.
So why is neither side offering a draw? Black likes his more advanced e-pawn and the weakness of White's backward g-pawn and the previously mentioned Bishop pair. White think his Knight can pick on pawns on the white squares once the white squared bishops are traded. They fight on.

30. cxb5                      cxb5
31. Nd3                       Bb6
32. a4                          Ke6
33. g4?                        fxg4
White has opened too many lines for the bishop pair. Trading pawns with axb5 was preferred. White should be thinking ‘draw’ here and not playing for a win. (-1)

34. fxg4                       h6
35. Kf3                        Kf6
36. axb5                      axb5
37. Nf4?                      Kg5
White to move after 37. ......Kg5

White is over taxed on the white squares and needs to play 37. b4, letting the knight help his bishop out on defense. (-1.2)

38. Nd5?                     Bxg4+
Just plain bad. Now White is down a pawn and almost down another pawn positionally.
White is going all out, trying for a cheap trick. Let’s see if he succeeds. (-1.9)

39. Kg3                       Bc5?
Not good. 39. ……Bd4 was correct because is stops White’s attempt at a swindle. (-1)

40. Nc3                       b4??
The simple 40. …..Bd6+ holds the advantage for Black. Now White takes over with a huge lead. (+4.5)

41. Ne4+                    A knight's favorite piece of cutlery - the fork! The trap worked and White wins fifteen moves later.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Chess Programs Review – And a Great Monday

Chess is for everyone!

We had ten players tonight for a Ladder tournament game, casual chess, speed chess and some chess lessons.

We also got to welcome two new players to NPP! Welcome Ethan W and Trevor M!

Congratulations to Vince V. for taking over the top Ladder spot.

Now for some purchasing help. There are quite a few choices when picking a chess software program.
A chess program is invaluable to a learning chess player as a teacher, game reviewer, and an opponent who will not make fun of you and let you take back moves.

The software also doesn’t care if you use his settings to make him weak so you can beat him! What a pal for chess, right?

But before you invest your money, let me give you some information.

Chess players come in all shapes, sizes, ages, genders, colors, etc.
How we rate any chess player is by strength of their play.

There is an established point system called the Elo System for determining a chess player’s strength in relation to other players. The higher the rating number, the better the chess player is.

Magnus Carlsen, the current World Champion is also the world’s highest rated player. As of this writing, his Elo rating is 2876. This is the highest of anyone - at any time in history - except when in May of 2014, when Mr. Carlsen reached the incredible height of 2882!

With that rating in mind, I will list the chess ratings of some chess programs and people, from high to low – with some comments thrown in.

1.      3325 – Komodo 9 – just released in Europe. Available thru Chessbase dot com.
2.      3310 – Stockfish 6 – available on line for free, although I have not looked for it yet. Why I have not will become apparent very soon.
3.      3250 – Houdini 4 – available at USchess sales for $100
4.      3219 – Komodo 8 – available at USchess sales for $100
5.      3206 – Stockfish 5 – available for FREE on your phone as part of the free ‘Analyze This’ chess app. I have this app on my phone and it works great! I also loaded it on my Pad Notebook.

6.      3185 – Houdini 4 Extreme - available at USchess sales for $65

7.      3175 – Critter 1.6a – I use it with my 'Analyze This' chess app on my Notepad. Research says it is weaker with tactics than the programs above, but better at endgames than the programs above. It was working on my old phone but for Android 5.0 it no longer works.

8.      3090 – Rybka 4 - available at USchess sales for $50
9.      3088 – Deep Fritz 14 – available at USchess sales for $90
10.  3045 – Deep Rybka 4 – available at USchess sales for $110. Lower rated than Rybka 4??
11.  3041 – Deep Junior 13.8 - available at USchess sales for $100
12.  2996 – Deep Hiarcs 13 - available at USchess sales for $110

13.  2968 – Fritz 13 – Who I call "Igor3000" – is the software on this computer, and the one I use to analyze games I publish for you. Paid $100 for it 2 years ago.

14.  2915 – Aquarium 11 (Rybka 2.3) – I have this program also. Picked it up at a clearance sale for $15. I don’t like the interface as well as the Fritz one, and the Rybka software has the same interface as Houdini.

15.  2876 - Magnus Carlsen – World Champion – Did not answer my calls or emails for analyzing games for LCCC. So he was not an option. I guess my contact information was not correct.

16.  2660 – Chessmaster10 (or Fritz 4) – I have this program also. Clearance $9.
17.  1604 – Your humble scribe. Now you know why I use Fritz 13 to do analysis.

Yes, you can claim you are a victim. A victim subject to weak game analysis (and also poor writing, but I digress), because your scribe has failed to keep up with the times. You can honestly ask, "Are you really using a program ranked only #13? Really? ........Really?"

Yes. Because I am victim! A victim of software improvements and upgrades!
Yes, I am chess software dis-advantaged.
Yes, I should write my Congressman and demand equality – or protest in the streets!

Or – We can BOTH realize that – for the analysis of the club chess games, my chess games with my rating straining to be over 1600, and in reality all chess games up to and including Grandmasters, Fritz 13 is plenty strong enough to help us find truth in a chess position - especially when I let it crank out analysis at 2 million moves a minute - for 20 minutes!

Sure, I could make the case that Fritz 13 is only 86 points better than the World Champion on the World Champion’s best day, so what good is the software? It's a wood pusher program, right?

Yeah, right. At a rating of 2968, earned against other top players and top software programs? Unless I am analyzing the games of the other top software programs, I think Fritz 13 will be able to find ‘the truth’ for the games I need to review for you.

Besides that, I have Stockfish 5 on my phone and tablet!! The “Fish5” is 324 points higher than the World Champ! I think we are covered.

If you are buying a chess program for your home computer or laptop, I suggest in order:
Komodo 8 (for $10 extra you are getting a better endgame player than Deep Fritz reviews say)
Deep Fritz 14 (but you cannot go wrong here with Fritz)

You can wait for Komodo 9 to be available in the States or order it from Europe, but is anyone on the planet going to recognize the difference between 3325 and 3219?

I’m sure you would not go wrong with Houdini 4 or the Rybka 4 programs, but I have never used them so it’s hard for me to recommend them.

And if you get Fritz, be sure to watch all the videos on line on how to get the most out of the software. It’s difficult to use - until you get used to it.

And of course no chess player with a smartphone should be without the “Analyze This” free app.
You have to have it.

Then be sure down-load a free Fischer 960 ramdomizer app, and a good Chess Clock app for your phone while you are at it.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

2015 LCCC Speed Chess Title Winner Repeats!

Great tournament action always at LCCC. Casual chess and lessons too!

Tim Ritter wins the 5-minute chess tournament for the 2nd year in a row.
Congratulations Tim. He bested 11 players for the win.

Luke Sergott finished 2nd and Vince Valente and Mike Nikitin finished tied for 3rd- 4th.
Thanks to all who participated.

We also welcomed back Terry G to the club. Great to see you jump right back into giving lessons to our young players.

And now an Action game played a few years ago by club members.

1.       e4                         e6
2.       Bc4                       d5
3.       exd                      exd
4.       Bb3                      c5
5.       d4                         c4
6.       Ba4+                    Nd7
7.       Nf3                       Nf6
8.       O-O                      Be7
9.       c3                          O-O
10.   Re1                      Nb6
11.   Bc2                       Bg4
12.   h3                         Bh5
13.   Bf4                       Bd6
14.   Bxd6                    Qxd6
15.   Nbd2                   Rfe8
16.   Qb1                      Nbd7
17.   Ng5?                    Rxe1+
Position after Black's 17th move.
The game was even, but now time pressure starts to affects White, who feels he must do “something”. But that move was not it. 17. B3, Rxe1 18. Qxe1, Re8 19. Qf1, Qa3 20. Qc1, Qa6 – or - 17. Rxe8+, Rxe8 18. Qf1, Qa6 19. B3, Qa3 20. Qe1, Qa6  -  are both drab, but best and keep the game even.(-.7)

18.   Qxe1                   Re8
19.   Qb1                      Nf8?!
Better was 19…..Re2 20. Bxh7, Kf8 21. Nf1, Nxh7 22. Nxh7+, Kg8 – lead for Black down to
a half-pawn.(-.5)

20.   B3                         b5
21.   g4?                       Qf4
This is a game ender. 21. Ngf3 was correct, as it was time to consolidate and keep the game even. Now Black gets all kinds of play. (-2.6)

22.   Nf3                       Bxg4
23.   hxg4                    Qxg4+
24.   Rf1                       h6
25.   Nxf7?                  Qh3+
In a losing position, White mis-calculates. 25. Bf5 was best (-3). Black jumps on the opportunity, but not the best way. The simple 25…..Qxf3 is a huge advantage (-9). The text is only (-5), but does the job.

26.   Kg1                       Qxf3
27.   Ne5                      Qxc3
28.   Bg6                       Nxg6
29.   Qxg6                    Qxa1+
30.   Kg2                       Qxd4
31.   Qf7+                    Kh8
32.   Ng6+