Wednesday, September 30, 2015

LCCC League 2015 is ON! Be Here Monday to Join the Fun!

We have a commitment from enough people to say the league is on for 2015.

It will probably be a 4 –team league. It will be at least a 3-player team, but we are hoping for the usual 4-player team. This will mean a double round robin 6 round league. We will play every two weeks or every three weeks, making room for the Holiday season.

But...the more....the merrier. LCCC can handle as many players as show up!

I cannot stress enough how much fun it is to play some semi-serious chess, against players of a similar strength to you, in a Team format! The league standings are always close due to our team –player seeding, so the excitement lasts all season!

Please be at the Club this coming Monday night at 6pm to secure your spot is the best chess league opportunity in the state. You will not regret it. Everyone is welcome.

White to move. Find the mate in TWO!
Now for a checkmate in TWO that even Igor3000 could not solve.

Your humble scribe tried to solve it and got nowhere after an hour. So I threw it in my chess analyzer Igor3000 and he could only find two mate in 3’s and one mate in 4 moves. That shocked the heck out of me.

By throwing out those lines and lines similar to them and all the moves I considered, it greatly lowered the number of possible move. On my third try at guessing, I loaded the correct move into Igor3000 and he immediately found the now – mate in one. Thanks for nothing!

So, enjoy the struggle! And remember, this puzzle confused a computer program rated 2967!

It’s nice to know humans can still come up with some things machines can’t conquer. And it comes from Otto Wurzburg and published in the Grand Rapids Herald and The Chess Review ….in 1933!

Chess is timeless, and that's why we love it.

The answer will be published in the comments…… if someone asks. Good luck!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Week 092115 – Nine Players – LCCC League Night Set

Nine players made an appearance on a beautiful late summer evening.

Also, at this writing, we have ELEVEN players who have committed to playing in the LCCC bi-weekly (and sometimes every three weeks league, with make-ups allowed if agreed by opponent) Team League.

The League will start October 5, 2015 at 6:30 pm – or as close to that as possible! You can register for the league by sending an email to the club, leave a comment on the blog stating you want to play or be at the club at 6pm on Monday October 5.                                                                                                                                  
We hope to get at least 16 players but 12 would work as a minimum. Of course, the more the merrier!
This is a great opportunity to play some semi-serious chess – for free – and in a non-every week commitment way! The league has great people, a great location and a great time!

Sign up today!
Black to move and win!
Here is today’s puzzle and it is from a game played by IM Elina Groberman, who shows that women have chess skills too!

Black to move.

Find the best ones.

Answer in comment section if requested.  

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Monday 091415 Has Seven Participants - Who's Signing Up for the LCCC League?

We had seven players stop by the club tonight - according to my spies. Your humble scribe was not there because I am sick with the flu.

That was a nice turnout after being closed last week due to the Labor Day Weekend and the Michigan Open!

Reports of the tournament and games from the tournament will be forthcoming, as soon as your humble scribe is well enough to type more than six sentences.

The LCCC 2015 League will be starting in two weeks - IF we get enough people willing to commit to it. Our TD would like to see a good show of 'hands' as to who wants to play this year?

By hands would be either an email to the club email or a comment here on the blog. Either will work but we are looking for commitment from at least twelve players.

Remember, to join the League free, and it runs EVERY OTHER WEEK or third week, so it is not an every week commitment. Please let us know ASAP if you are in.

Black to move .....and stay winning!
Now a puzzle.

Black to move and win, even though that discovered check of White's looks frightening!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Local Chess Clubs: Can They Survive?

Would tables and sets like this help a small chess club?

I’m not talking about state or national associations. I’m talking about your regular local chess club. Are they a sustainable model? I am beginning to think…….not.

CLUB – noun - ‘an organization dedicated to a specific activity’ – ‘a place where a group of people gather for a specific activity.’
GROUP – noun – ‘two or more figures forming a complete unit in a composition’

So, what’s the problem?  “Two or more is a ‘club’ by definition, right? My last name is not Webster, but I define a club as a larger group of people.

I define it as let’s say 20 to 50 people. And I am not talking about occasional members either. I’m talking about a club where this bunch of members usually don’t miss a meeting unless there is a sickness, funeral, wedding, job crisis or spouse threatens divorce – and even then it has to be if the threat was repeated for the 3rd week in a row!

Less than the number 20 – in my opinion - is a meeting, group, or an ensemble – but not a club. But I am not going to petition to change the name of the LCCC to the LCCG (G for gathering).

You can hold a poker game with 7 to 9 people. That is a gathering. But you can’t hold a tournament or an ‘event’ with that number of people

It’s the same with chess. You can hold a casual chess gathering, but you can’t hold a tournament or a league.

Unless you are in a very highly populated area, I’m beginning to believe it is impossible to sustain what I think is an actual chess “club”.

I was explaining to another chess club president (ACP) my fear that the LCCC Chess League may not go this year due to lack of participation. This ACP had just cancelled his club tournament for the same reason – lack of entries.

ACP blames it on the internet: “Well, this has been typical since the advent of internet chess, so don’t expect it to improve. It is sad that folks just don’t wish to commit to supporting a chess club and it is unsettling for us organizers to keep trying to get blood from a turnip!

Unfortunately for us, there are no young people to take over to pass the reigns to, and I fear, like so many things, our clubs will cease to exist.”

ACP went on to say that he thinks the future for chess clubs like ours is to promote to the senior citizen crowd - heavily.  ACP says – and I concur -  that kids play chess early but then leave chess for other pursuits anyway. In addition, they don’t have the money to support a chess club, no matter how small the cost. So in his opinion, it is a waste to target young people to the club.

I, on the other hand, think kids ARE the future – even though they will move on to other pursuits. You promote to their parents – who hopefully played chess themselves as a kid. You have to teach chess to people early in life. If they like it, they will stay for a while.

Sure other pursuits, hormones and careers get in the way for a time, but if they developed any love at all of the game, they will return - eventually. But you got to teach them early. By the time adulthood rolls around, most people won’t try to put in the effort to learn chess. Adults usually have an ingrained prejudice that chess is ‘too hard’ or is for ‘nerds’.

It's a dilemma to be sure

Do you promote and spend today’s club money on 10 kids on the hope one returns to chess when their regular life building is done? I say yes!

 I was one of those – I came back to chess - only to leave again for the poker boom - but then came back to add chess again. And when I was young,iIt was a chess club that kept my interest in the game alive in me.

I think it is wise to promote to seniors, but I don’t think you can just ‘do that’ and survive. By definition – by just targeting seniors – you will not grow you very large – because as you will gain, you will lose – for a variety of reasons.

But maybe the ACP hit the nail on the head about internet chess killing club chess.

And the internet is cheaper than even a drive to your local chess club.

And internet chess is available 24/7, not just one night a week.

Where internet poker brought more players to the casino, internet chess is keeping the chess players at home. Poker is a much better game ‘live’ due to the ‘tells’ or the theatrics of the moment. Not to mention all the other ‘attention getters’ and attractions at a casino.

Chess on-line is almost the exact same game as chess at a club or a tournament. There is almost no difference in a chess game on line versus one live, and an on line is a lot less ‘stress’ or expense.

I think the chess player's 'conservatism' with expenses and delicate egos are key factors. Poker players have a much weaker attachment to $ than chess players it seems.
Thousands of poker players spend $1000 in expenses to enter a $100 tournament on the slim hopes of cashing for $5000. And they may spend extra $100 a couple more times in other events to lower the overall travel expenses per event.

Not near as many chess players have even an inclination to spend $400 on travel to enter a $50 tournament and maybe win $400 at most. And there are no other close events or even the time to enter other events for the travel $

And the loss of an internet chess game is much less embarrassing to your ego than a live game. Even the loss of a casual game at the club bothers some people. Poker players can attribute a defeat to ‘bad cards’ or bad luck.

Chess players have no such security blanket for their egos.

Now, what is the solution for local chess clubs not in major cities? 
Can we create a buzz can liven up our location and activities even if we had big funding?

Let’s say our chess club built a chess location with a multi-screen TV room, a lounge (bar), a cigar room, a small deli – hot dog/hamburger sandwich shop, internet access, nice tables, leather chairs, perfect lighting, clean spacious bathrooms, and nice chess sets and clocks - provided.

 Maybe we have “Member” cabinets to hold their own chess sets and equipment. And we added a nice tournament schedule, in addition to casual drop-in chess and private chess lessons.

Let’s say all the establishment costs were paid for by a chess-loving beneficiary – so no start-up capital was required.  Could there be membership numbers large enough to keep the club sustainable after the novelty wore off? Would it be possible?

I would love to try it. The target market would be kids and seniors. Are there any beneficiaries out there with some money to venture?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Monday 083115 – Different Room, Same Good Time

Seven players met tonight on the meeting before the Michigan Open. Some of us were getting a little practice before the BIG GAMES.

There is a TEAM competition at the Michigan Open and LCCC will have a presence. Currently it’s been confirmed we have 4 players signed up – which is what is needed as a minimum. We might have more enter as many players are making up their minds at the last minute. I’ve been there myself.

The Team Competition is for the top 4 scores for each club are added up to see which team played the best in the event. It’s a little tournament within the tournament – always a nice side event to follow.

Well even if you don’t enter the Michigan Open, you should stop by and check out the chess action. The tournament will be at the Causeway Bay Hotel, 6820 South Cedar St., Lansing, MI 48911. It will run from Friday evening September 4 thru Monday afternoon September 7. Stop on by.

Now Scott M - playing Black - gives us a lesson on how to punish an opponent with a ‘bad’ bishop.

White to move.
We pick it up here after a pretty even opening:

13. N4f3                b5
14. c3?                  Qb6
White's first misstep. (-1.2) Not aggressive enough. Better was 14. c4, bxc4 15. bxc4, Qb6 16. Bd4, Qa6 17. cxd5, Nxd5 18. e4, Rxe1 19. Qxc1, Rc8 (-.2).

15. e3                    Nc5
16. Ne5                 a5
17. b4!                  Nd3
White makes a comeback by getting rid of Black's well placed knight (-.4).
18. Nxd3               Bxd3
19. Bf1?                ..........
White is back down a pawn positionally (-1). Correct was 19. Nb3 and heading for c5!
19. ......                 Bxf1
20. Rxf1                a4
21. Nf3                  Ne4
22. Ne5                 Qc7
23. f4?                  Qa7?
White is trying to mix it up when he is the equivalent of a piece down with his buried bishop (-1.7). And if Black would have played 23. .....Bf6, White is stuck with doubled pawns or the loss of the c-pawn. But Black attacks the e-pawn instead (-1.3).
24. Qd4                 Rc7
25. Qxa7               Qxa7
26. Nc6                 Rc7
27. Nd4                 Rb8
28. Rfc1                Bf6
29. Re2                  Bxd4
30. cd                   Rxc1
31. Bxc1                Rc8
32. Bb2                 h5
White to move after 32. ....h5

This game is a perfect example of a "bad bishop" versus a good knight. Scott brings this slight advantage into the WIN column beautifully (-1.4).
33. Kg2                 f6
34. Kf3                  g5
35. Kg2?!               Kf7
36. Kh3?!               Kg6
37. Kg2?                g4
( -3.2) White is trying to keep the position closed for a draw. That is the wrong plan. His biggest problem is that he has no space. 37. fxg5 was needed.

38. Kf1                  Kf5
39. Kg2                 Nd6
40. Kf1                  Ke4
41. Ke1                 Nf5
42. Kd2                 Kf3
43. Kd3                 Nd6
44. Kd2                 Rc2+
45. Kxc2               Kxe2
46. Bc1                  f5
Beautiful execution of an endgame advantage by Scott M.