Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Power of a Better Chess Position

LCCC was back in full swing this Monday. Round Two of our Action Tournament was completed. The Round 3 pairing will be posted as soon as they are available.

Round 3 will be in two weeks (February 6) and we will have Open Chess next week (January 30).

Now for an article written by GM Gabriel Schwartzman in 2003 for Chess Life:

Having a better position is a very exciting feeling. Of course, sometimes you feel too good, forget to pay attention and end up losing the advantage or ......sometimes the game.

Is there a psychological explanation for this phenomenon? Obviously! In chess, the better player is suppose to win. But being the 'best' player in a particular game is the one expending the most energy and concentration.

Unfortunately, once you gain the upper hand, both of these components tend to suffer. The will to continue working has a tendency to slack off grows as you get closer to 'quitting time.' You just don't work as hard with the lead as you do when you are fighting for your life. [Example: How is your work energy level a day or two before you leave for a vacation?]

The other phenomenon is often found in the desire to get things over with. This is especially true in a game where you have been dominating for quite a while. You start asking yourself, "Why haven't they resigned already," instead of concentrating on a way to actually finish the game.

It is important that you do not become obsessed with the quest to wrap things up and in process sacrifice some of your advantage. Here is an example of this:

Yates - Tartakover - 1927 Black to move
[And it happens to the best of chess players. Savielly Tartakover was one of the leading chess players in the 1920's thru the 1940's.]

Of course Black is better. All he has to do is not rush and bring the game to a conclusion. But Tartakover was a bit frustrated and decides to end the game with a bang!

1. .......      Qxb4?

Black gives up his queen. Why? Because in the process he also gains a pawn and a pawn in the endgame can be enough for victory. This is something Black felt was a sure thing after the next few moves. So.....

2. axb4        axb3
3. Kb2         Kc4
4. Ka3         ..........

 None of this came as a surprise for Black. He saw this position, noticed that the only good move with the King was Kc3, which brings about a stalemate. But,

4. ........          b2

White to move

is also available. This was the position Black envisioned and was quite happy with it. Tartakover knew that after 5. Kxb2, Kxb4 is a theoretical win. So this is the perfect way to end a long struggle.

What Tartakover forgot to take into account was what other choices were available to White.

Instead of taking the pawn b2, Mr. Yates just happens to have one other legal move. And it just so happens to be the perfect one!

5. Ka2!         .............

Why in the world would White elect this move instead of taking the pawn? Simple, it's all about tempos. As I said, it is a theoretical win for Black. But that only holds if it is White's move! If it is Black's move - it's a draw! [Oh the magic of chess! This stuff is why we play this game!].

So, what Ka2 does is pass the move back to Black.

5. .......          Kxb4
6. Kxb2

5. .........       b1 = Q+
6. Kxb1       Kxb4
7. Kb2         ...........

5. ........        Kc3
6. Kb1         Kxb4
7. Kxb2

or any other order of moves in which White will not grab the pawn until Black grabs his, the position on the board arises, with ......Black to move. Which is exactly what happened and how a completely winning position became a draw.

So please think about this when you are trying to convert a winning position into a win.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

LCCC Was Closed on 011617

What tournament chess looks like right before the order to 'start your clocks'.
The LCCC playing site was open in spite of MLK day closing the schools.

However the LCCC officers could not make the Club night due to weather concerns - and in your humble scribe's case - chess fatigue.

Having competed in the Michigan Class Championships this prior weekend, the brain was not eager to do battle again so soon with any 'rested' players at the Club. A vacation day was needed.

LCCC did not have a big showing this year. Life gets in the way of chess sometimes. But we did have some of the classes covered:

Class B: Mike N
Class D: Paul M
Class E: Nick D

Besides, the weather was making the roads icy so that was another reason to sit tight and use the time to throw a Grandmaster endgame at Igor3000 - the chess computer and see what he sees.

Later, if deemed worthy enough, we will run some of the games from this MI Class on this site.

But for now, here is a game between the great and now late GM Victor Korchnoi and IM (now GM) Laurent Fressinet - Enghien les Bains, France in 2003.

This game was taken from Chess Life, September 2003. The reason it was selected was that it is a very difficult endgame and the writer - GM Michael Rohde - just glossed right over it. This struck me as strange because of this note at the top of his column:

"One of the most common problems for talented young players (i.e. Fressinet here) is whether to take an initiative into the endgame or press in the middle game."

GM Rohde keeps the article moving with notes thru the opening and middle game til move 23. Then not a word thru the next 14 moves to the end of the game - in which the young player defeats one of the challengers for the World Championship - with Black - in an endgame!

Well my attempt to review the endgame and add some notes got me nothing but a headache. Much too complicated for me. So I now give you the notes of Igor3000. But the first note in (  ) is from GM Rhodes. It was his last note before he abandoned this difficult endgame.

GM Korchnoi (W) vs IM Fressinet (B) - White to move

24. Re2
(The problem with the obvious 24. Qc6 is 24. ......Rbb8, 25. d7, Qc5! Then the d-pawn is more of a liability than a strength because it has advanced too far away from it's fellow pieces.)

Igor says that 24. b4, b5 25. Qc5 is an EVEN game. The text gives Black a (-.5) edge (half a pawn), and was not that much better than the rejected 24. Qc6 (-.54).

24. .......        Bxc3
25. bxc3       Rd8
26. Rd2        Rbd7
27. Qc6        Qa6
28. g3          ........
Here White misses a chance to get the game closer to even (-.2) with 28. f4, Qc8 29. Qxc8, Rxc8.

28. .......       Qc8
29. Qxc8     Rxc8
30. Rd3       Rc5
31. Rad1     f6
32. f4          Ra5
33. Rd4       Kf7
34. a4          Rc5
35. R4d3     ........
White had 35. R1d3 as better (-.8) but Black is already starting to squeeze out a win. The text opens Black's advantage to over a pawn positionally (-1.2).

35. ........     e5
36. f5        .........
White needed 36. Ke2 or Kf3 here. Now it's over (-1.5).

36. .......     Ra5
37. Ra1     e4
White resigns

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Nice Monday Night of Chess 010916

Alexander Alekhine - the 13th best ever to play.
There will be an article justifying the claim in the picture caption coming soon!

We had eleven players on the first night of the new year.

Mostly casual chess was played but there was some lessons given to the younger players.

We also welcome a new member - Ryan T. He took on some of the best players in the club and held his own. Great work Ryan.

The big news is what is happening this weekend at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Lansing, right near the Capitol Building.

It is the 2017 Michigan Class Chess Championship!
5 round over Saturday and Sunday this weekend.

If you wish to enter, please hit the Michigan Chess Calendar on the right side of the blog.

But even if you don't play, stop on by and watch some top notch chess.

There will be a vendor there selling chess sets, chess equipment and books too.

Here is a puzzle from the World Open. Find the winning move for Black!
IM Salvijus Bercys (White) vs GM Ilya Smirin (Black)  - Black to move and win!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

LCCC Back on Monday January 9, 2017

We will be back this coming Monday in full force!

There will be tournament action, causal chess and lessons if that is what you want. Make a New Year's resolution to do your brain and your social calendar a favor and get to LCCC on Mondays.

But if you would like some chess action and a tactics lesson, show up tonight (this Thursday) at the Cromaine Library in downtown Hartland. This will run from 6:30 to 8pm. Its a kid's event but there are some chess playing parents there also.

Here is an on line rapid game that had some missed opportunities due to time pressure. Notes by Igor3000:

1. e4            d5
2. exd5       Qxd5
3. Nf3         Nf6
4. d4           Bf5
5. c4           Qd8
6. Nc3         e6
7. Bd3        Bxd3
8. Qxd3      Be7
Black has a cramped position. White is up a positional pawn (+1).

9. O-O         O-O
10. Bf4         c5
11. Rad1      cxd4
12. Nxd4     Nc6
13. Nxc6      bxc6
14. Qxd8      Rfxd8
15. b3?         Bb4
White to make move 16.

White has been drifting with no real plan and is throwing away his positional advantage. Better was 15. Bc7, Rdc8 16. Be5, Rd8 and White will still hold a (+.5) lead instead of the EVEN game White has now. Both players blunder as their clocks are running low.

16. Be5??      .........
Losing material with 16. .....Ng4! 17. a3, Ba5 18. b4, Nxe5 19. bxa5, Nxc4 20. Ne4, Nxa3 and White has a bad position also (-2.1).

16. ..........       Nd7??
Black returns the favor with a blunder of his own. Black threatens to win material with Nd7xe5 but misses his real opportunity as shown in the last paragraph. White now swings the game back in his favor (+.7).

17. Bc7        Bxc3?
The fatal blunder for Black. 17. ......Re8 and Black is still in the game. Instead (+2.3)

18. Bxd8+        Rxd8
19. Rd3            Bf6?    (+3.8)
20. Rfd1          Kf8
21. Rxd7          Rxd7
22. Rxd7          a5
23. Rc7            Resigns