Friday, December 21, 2018

Chess Club Still Busy 121718 - Timing is Everything!

Former World Champion - Gary Kasparov

The Club has been a busy place the last few weeks and we thank everyone for their attendance. We had 18 players – two weeks in a row
We will try to run a Speed tournament on January 7 or 21st – or both days! Hope to see you there. As always, it’s a fun event and prizes for the young players.
Now for a little chess coaching advice:
I teach and coach chess to children – usually from ages 5 to 12 years old. Sometimes I get early teens that I coach. 
One of my older students asked a very good question – “When does a good chess player stop thinking of making just general good moves and start thinking of calculating an attack?”
My first knee-jerk reaction was to answer with, “Well, we have to go find a good chess player and ask him or her.” But since that would tarnish my coaching status, I had to have a better answer.
 The answer is, “When you can predict and limit your opponent’s responses to your forcing moves and you are pretty sure of the best time to start the attack. And the timing of the start of the attack is the most important part of the calculation!”
The more powerful a move is, the more important it is to time it correctly. Don’t make it too soon and don’t make it too late.
Let’s consider other situations. A poker player wants his “Ace” in the hole and not on the table. That way, he can “raise” at the correct time to trap his opponent. Raise too early and you lose profit. Raise too late and maybe you get re-raised because you gave time (cards) to your opponent that allowed him to make his hand better than yours.
A billiard player doesn’t knock in the easy balls close to the pocket first. He saves them to set up his next shot when all other shots are difficult. That way he remains in control of the table.
So the timing of your “check”, “fork”, “pin” or “sacrifice” move is usually the most important part of the move. The calculations must be done to determine how ‘forced’ your opponent’s next moves are and have you covered his limited responses correctly.
Black to move. Is it the correct time?

Let’s look at an example:
Black has a king-side attack, while White has a queen-side attack. It is the old race to see who gets there first. Black to move.
Black is considering either the attacking move of ...fxe4, a developing move …Rf7 or Rac8, or a simplification move of …a6. He throws out …a6 and Rac8 because he feel …a6 liquidates material to a bigger advantage to White and …Rac8 is too slow and leaves the a-pawn under siege without helping out in the king-side attack.
(Note: Igor liked both …a6 and …Rac8 slightly better than Rf7 [1.1 and 1.3 vs 1.4, and White with the advantage], but that is not important here).
All three of those move require little calculation as they are improvement moves that must wait for White’s response. So with …Rf7 as a fall-back plan, now Black has to calculate whether the timing of opening up of his opponent’s King-side in now.
Black calculates that;
     1.      ……..          fxe4!
     2.      fxe4             Nxh3
     3.      Bxh3           Rf3
And White’s position is in ruins. After Black played
     1.      ……..          fxe4!
White quickly realized it was his turn to calculate. He saw that 2. fxe4 was no good. It was time to get to work and try and find something else. After a half hour, White found this variation;
      2.      Qd1 ?         Nxh3
      3.      Bxh3          Rxf3
      4.      Qf1             ……..
Rather than capturing with fxe4. (Note: the ugly and hard for a human to find, 2. Kg1 was what Igor says keeps the game at only a (-.8) for Black).
But Black still had;
      5.      ………       Raf8
      6.      Qg2            Rxf7
      7.      Bxf2           Rxf2
      8.      Rxa7           Rxg2+
      9.      Kxg2           Qg5+

Friday, December 7, 2018

Chess Club Busy 120318 - and Kid's Night This Coming Monday!

Always record your games for analysis later!
The chess action is on right now each Monday night! We had 17 players this Monday - including seven of the school aged variety - and it was not even Kids Night!
But we are fixing that this coming Monday as Kid's night is this week.
Hope to see you there - even if you are an 'older' kid.

Here is a game between two GM's - Ravinsky vs Panov, Moscow 1943.
It's the old story at that level. Do you take material, and lose time and some positional strength - or do you hold steady?
Panov - with the Black pieces - goes out of his way to steal a pawn. Ravinsky with White tries to find compensation for the lost soldier with gaining time, development and starting his attack faster.
Such situations are found often in the Sicilian Defense lines. My computer Igor3000 tells me this happens to be the Scheveninggen line of the Sicilian Defense. Ok, like I care!
For you e4 players and Sicilian Defense lovers, I'll start at the beginning.

1. e4            c5
2. Nf3          e6
3. d4            cxd4
4. Nxd4       Nf6
5. Nc3         d6
6. g3            Nc6
7. Bg2         Bd7
8. O-O         a6
9. Be3         Rc8
10. Qe2       b5
11. a3          Ne5
12. Rad1     Nc4
White to make move 13

Black is now threatening to win material. But is it the correct plan? Igor says no and Black will win the pawn and actually be a pawn down due to positional issues (+1.1). Ravinsky would not have calculated to that extreme, but did sense and see that he would have counter play for his pawn he lost. Such is the nature of top level chess. Panov was thinking "I'm a pawn up! Now to first fortify my position, then grind out my win."
Who will be right?

13. Bc1         Nxa3?
Hard to find but Igor suggests 13. ....h5 to gain space and give White something to worry about on the King side. A human probably never plays this move. (+1.1)

14. e5           dxe5

15. Nc6         Qc7
16. Nxe5       Nc4
17. Nxd7       Nxd7
18. Nd5         Qa7?
Correct was 18. .....Qe5, 19. Qf3, Qb8 - staying a pawn down. Now Black is down almost two pawns positionally (+1.8) according to Igor.

19. Nf4         Nce5
20. Rxd7      Nxd7?
Black is slipping into the abyss. This happens when defending. It is hard to find the right defensive line every move. 20. .....Qxd7 21. Qxe5, Rxc2 was better. (+2.2).

21. Nxe6         fxe6
22. Qxe6+       Be7
23. Re1           Qc5
24. b4              Nf8
Black correctly stayed away from 24. ......Qxb4?? as 25. Bf4, Qxe1+ 26. Qxe1 is bad for Black.

25. Qg4           Qc3??
The final mistake in a bad position. 25. .....Qc4 was best. Now White leads (+13).

26. Rxe7!         Kxe7
27. Bg5+          Kd6
28. Qd1+          Kc7
29. Bf4+           Kb6
30. Qd6+          Ka7
31. Qe7+          Rc7
32. Bxc7          Qa1+
33. Bf1             Ng6
34. Qc5+          Kb7
35. Ba5            Rf8
36. Qb6+          Resigns

Monday, December 3, 2018

Linden Michigan Opens a Chess Club!

Boris Spassky (left) and Bobby Fischer - two of the best ever
The Linden Chess Club is officially open!
They are open 5:45pm - 8:30pm on Tuesday night.
Located at 4518 Silver Lake Road, Linden Michigan, 48451
Contact Gus Samaniego with an email oc203998 at gmail dot com or
call 810-923-3847
They also have a Facebook page - Linden Chess Club

The Livingston Chess Club, located here in Hartland/Howell Michgan, now has a little "competition" just to the north of us.

Of course chess clubs usually don't actually compete for members. It's all about promoting chess. We welcome them to the Chess Club community and wish them success!

They have challenged us to a match and we will take them up on that soon. It will be a home and home match!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

The Chess Club is Busy! Stop on in - It's Chess Season 2018-2019

Good luck Fabiano Caruana-in current Championship match against Magnus Carlson!
We are averaging over ten players per evening right now. There is no better time to stop by the Club and play some chess!

We have players at all levels and the top guys are always willing to review games or give lessons.
It's cold outside but the chess action inside the Hartland Senior Center on Monday nights is hot!
Looking forward to seeing you there!

Here are a couple interesting positions to look at. They have to do with pawn promotions.
Usually when we finally are able to get one of our pawns to the opponent's back rank, grabbing a queen to replace that pawn is automatic. But careful......nothing is 100% - except death and taxes.

White to move and WIN!

Take a closer look before grabbing the queen.

Black is all set to promote, thinking he has successfully won with beautiful endgame play. But do you see the surprise White has for him?

1.  Kf1 !!      

Now if 1. ......b1 = Q, White simply plays 2. Nc3 mate!

So Black realizing that killer threat has to stop it.

1. ........             b1 = N!

This prevents the immediate loss, but not the loss. White has another tricky more at his disposal.

2. Kf2!!

Poor Black! He is in a chess situation known as a Zugzwang! No matter where he moves he is in trouble. And in this case, the worst trouble. White will mate with either Ne3 or Nc3.

Black to move and try and win!

What about this one. Black to move. Take a look at this position before reading on.

If Black promotes with
1. ........               g1=Q

it would appear to be an easy win. However White has the stalemate trap of :

2. Rd7 +         Ke8
3. Rd8+          etc

If Black captures the rook, White has no legal move, so it's a stalemate draw. If Black moves the King, the rook simply keeps checking the King, offering himself as a sacrifice - as long as he is careful not to let the King escape outside the e-file.

Black's surprising winning line is:
1. .......           g1 = B!
2. Rd7+         Ke8
3. Rh7           Nd5
4. Kg2           Be3

And Black should win from there. However, Igor3000 sees a way White still draws or drags the game out so long that Black just takes the draw in spite of being ahead over a pawn (-1.5). That line looks like this:

1. .......           g1 = B!
2. Kg3          Nd5
3. Kf3           Bb4
4. Kg3          Ne7

And the computer Igor3000 had the game going on another 30 moves without a mate in sight. Could Black eventually get the win! Possibly. With perfect play or White blundering.

The game was not the point of the article. The need to "under-promote sometimes" is. Black could only win with an under-promotion in the last example. And in the first example, Black's only chance was an under-promotion.
So take a look before you automatically slam a queen down on that square.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

What is Chess? World Champions Try to Answer that Question

Chess is fun for everyone!
Monday night is chess night in Livingston County. Stop on by our friendly chess club for a game or lessons.

What is Chess? This question is always followed up with "Is it a sport, a game, an art or a science?"

It's been called one or the other or any combination of those four by thousands of people.

So let us see what some of the best players that have ever lived thought the game of chess actually was. They should know as they came closer to mastering it than any of us mere mortals.

William Steinitz: “Chess is intellectual gymnastics.”

Emmanuel Lasker: “Chess is a struggle on 64 squares.”

Jose Capablanca: “Chess is an intellectual diversion which has artistic qualities and scientific elements."

Alexander Alekhine: “Chess for me is not a game, it is art.”

Dr. Max Euwe: “Chess is none of those, It’s a struggle.

Mikhail Botvinnik: “Chess is an art which expresses the science of logic.”

Vassily Smyslov: “I consider chess an art.”

Mikhail Tal: “Chess is first of all art.”

Tigran Petrosian: “Chess is a game by its form, and art by its content and a science by the difficulty of gaining mastery to it.”

Boris Spassky: “The place of chess in the society is closely related to the attitude of young people towards our game.”

Bobby Fischer: “I feel that chess….is a science in the form of a game.”

Anatoly Karpov: “Chess is a very tough game. It is art, science and sport.”

Gary Kasparov: “For me, chess is a language….and it’s not my native tongue.”

Viswanathan Anand: “Chess is a sport requires a lot of mental stamina.”

Vladimir Krannik” “Chess is an infinitely complex game.”

My favorite: Bobby Fischer (again): “Chess is life.”

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Monday Night is Chess Night! 101518

Of course every night should be chess night!

Another fun night of chess and game reviews. Studying your games - especially your losses - with other players really helps you improve. We do an awful lot of that at LCCC.

Here is an entertaining game played by a LCCC'er for you to follow along on:

Position after Black's 21st move   21......... cxd5

The game is even to this point. This is a complex position with strengths and weaknesses on both sides. Who's position will crack first?

22.  Qf2          Nce4!
Black sets a trap that your humble scribe probably would have fell for. For if 23. fxe4, Ng4  24. Qd2, Rxe4  25. Nb5, Nxe3 and Black is up a pawn.

23. Qc2          Nc3
24. Bf2?         ...........
White cracks first. 24. Nb5 opening some space and counter-play was the correct line. Black is up over a pawn positionally (-1.3) according to Igor3000.

24. .......          Bh6
25. g3             dxc4
26. bxc4?        .........
White missed a chance to wake his sleeping bishop with 26. Bxc4. Black's lead widens to (-1.7).

26. .....           Nd7
27. Bh3         f5
28. Nb5         Nxb5
29. axb5        Nc5
30. Rxe8       Rxe8
31. Bg2         a4
32. Rd1         a3
33. Qd2?       .........
Another mis-step in an interesting position. Both sides have doubled passed pawns. However Black's are more advanced and therefore more dangerous. White had to stop their advance with 33. Qa2 before proceeding with any offense. Black is ahead (-3.3), which is definitely a winning margin.

33. ......           b3!
Passed pawns MUST be pushed!

34. Qb4           a2
35. Bxc5         Qxc5 !
The death sentence for White! Black's lead zooms to (-4.4). Sacrificing his Queen, but will get a new one shortly.

36.  Qxc5        b2
37.  Qf2           b1 = Q
38.  Qf1           Qxd1 !!
39.  Qxd1        Ra8
40.   c5            a1 = Q
White playing 40. Qa1 fails because of 40. ..... Bg7!

41. Qxa1         Rxa1
42.  Kf2           Bxf4
   White  resigns

Monday, October 1, 2018

October Means Chess Season - and a Nice Win by an LCCC'er

As the weather takes away some outside sports, it allows time for some indoor competitions. Chess gives you all the drama and excitement that any other sport gives you - without the noise!

The Chess Club is open every Monday night from 6pm to at least 8:30pm, on every day that school is in session.

Stop by for casual play or free lessons if that is what you are looking for.

Now for a blitz game played on line by one of LCCC's best players. It is a fine attacking game and shows how being able to see small errors in positional play by your opponent sets up attacking and tactical chances.

With the help of Igor3000, your humble scribe will attempt to break it down for you (us). Our man Jason M is playing the White pieces.

1. c4           e5
2. Nc3        Nf6
3. e4           Bc5
4. Nf3        d6
5. d4          exd4
6. Nxd4      O-O
7. Be2        Nc6
Igor3000 says the game is EVEN here.

8. Be3              Bxd4
9. Bxd4            Nxd4
10. Qxd4          Be6

The villain's first little mis-step. The game is played in the center and this cramps Black in that area. Igor suggests 10. ….Re8 to build strength down the middle. (+.5).

11. O-O           Nd7
Again 11. ….Rd8 or Qe7 is called for here. Jason jumps on the opportunity to seize center control.

12. f4              Nc5?
The first real blunder for Black. Sure Black needs to give his bishop an escape square, but he also need to start challenging White's grip on the center with 12. …...f6. Black probably did not want to disrupt the pawn structure in front of his King, but the alternative plan moves his pieces away from his King. Jason notices that shortcoming nicely. (+1.8)

13. f5?!          ……
Not the best move, but remember this is a blitz game. High rated players but still a blitz game. 13. b4 advances White's queen side at Black's expense as the knight is chased. 13. ….Na6 14. f5, Nxb4 15. fxe6, fxe6 16. Rxf8+

13. ……         Bd7
14. f6             g6?!
As time dwindle in this blitz game, the errors multiply as Black tries to defend a worsening position.

15. Rad1         Kh8?
16. e5             Ne6
17. Qd2          Bc6
18. Qh6          Qe8??
19. Rd4!!       Rg8
20. Qxh7+     Resigns

A very exciting finish!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Meet the USA World Champ Contender - Fabiano Caruana

USA born Fabiano Caruana
LCCC still rolling along with great chess action and friendly banter every Monday night. We average 8 to 10 players a night, so there is always someone new to challenge.

Let's take a minute to meet the man that will play for the World Chess Championship against the current title holder - Magnus Carlsen of Norway - this November, 2018.

In November, Fabiano Caruana will be the first American to play for the Chess World Championship since the late Bobby Fischer back in 1973. And very few people know anything about him. Well, this post is here to change all that.
Part of the reason even chess players don't know him well is because as a young teen, he was an American, living in Italy and playing under the Italian flag.

But as an adult, he returned to the United States and joined the National Chess team. This team now boasts three of the top ten players in the world on it’s 4 boards! That is quite a strong starting line up, And of the 3, Fabiano is the only one actually born on US soil
Caruana was raised in the United States until the age of 10 before moving to Madrid, Spain in search of chess coaches for Fabiano.

They moved from there to Budapest, Hungary, for a change of coaching

Then on to Lugano, Switzerland, and then back to Madrid – while still representing Italy in international chess during all these moves.
Now Caruana has settled in St. Louis, Missouri and represents his native country.
To further solidify his return to his homeland, Fabiano played 1st board for the United States Chess Team in the Chess Olympiad on Baku, Azerbaoijan.

The USA Team was triumphant, winning the Gold Medal and Caruana won the Bronze Medal for his individual play!
On the “inside the man’ aspect, Fabiano Caruana is addicted to video games, likes rapid or speed chess, not a fan of Chess 960, loves the band Led Zepplin, and Bobby Fischer is a past player’s play he is most impressed with.

We at LCCC wish Fabiano luck against the Norwegian chess superstar in November!

Sunday, September 9, 2018

LCCC at the Michigan Open - and the Club is Still Rolling Monday Nights

Chess is great with friends! Here are two burning the midnight oil.

Forgive the lack of posting recently. Your humble scribe was preparing for the Michigan Open and also ....end of year golf outings!

With the chess season officially starting (we usually call the start of the school year as the beginning of Chess Season), we want to again invite everyone to visit the Chess Club. As the weather turns cold on the outside, the chess action will heat up on the inside of our comfortable and cozy playing area.

The Michigan Open was held in Cadillac, Michigan this year. The playing conditions were fantastic and the rounds ran on time.
LCCC had two participants in the tournament. There were 3 sections of the tournament: Open, Reserve and Booster. 

Both Sam Thompson and Mike Nikitin were in the Reserve Section. Both players won their division in the Reserve Section!

Sam won the Under 1200 section, with a 3-1-3 = 4.5 points out of 7, boosting his rating over 200 points! He also scored a draw against the winner of the Reserve Section for the only non-win for the winner. This will move his rating high into the next section.

Sam also won the Under 1200 Speed Chess section - which is a separate tournament! Great job Sam!

Mike won the under 1600 section with a 4-1-2 = 5 points, and also finishing in a 3 - way tie for second in the Reserve Section overall. This was his 3rd title in this division.

 The message here is clear; practice, learn and play at LCCC and you will win some tournament titles too! Plus have a whole lot of fun doing it.
Now for an look at an interesting endgame. This was an online Chess 960 game played by Mike Nikitin We will pick up the action on move 38, where Black has just offered his opponent a draw.

Black just offered White a draw after his 33rd move, Ra8.

White has a decision to make. We humans try to decide if taking a draw offer means our opponent is:
A) thinks the game is actually even and is afraid pushing his luck would lead to a loss.
B) thinks he is winning slightly but doesn't think there is enough of an edge to continue 'grinding' it out 
C) OR sees a loss on the horizon and is hoping his opponent doesn't see it and will accept the offer.

Black actually was thinking B when he offered the draw.

Igor3000, calculating at 2 million moves a minute and having worked for 5 minutes, declared the game virtually EVEN.

White clearly thinks C, as he now will blunder trying to push a win here. Sometimes intangibles outside the board decide the outcome. Black, quite by accident, asked for the draw at exactly the correct instance. White, by turning down the draw offer, now will feel the subconscious pressure to actually show that win he thinks he has. That sometimes causes blunders.

White thinks he c-pawn is going to queen after the future move of cxd, with all his pieced already close by to support him home. But he first needs to A) save his queen, B) protect his unprotected rook at C1 and pawn at A2 and C) get his king closer to his f,g and h pawns and centralized in the center of the board with Ke2.

34. Qb3               Bf5+
35. Kf1               .........

Already starting to push too much. 35. Kg2 was better as White is underestimating the power of Black's center pawns. Black is now up a third of a pawn (-.3).

35. ........              Be3
A powerful post that White may have overlooked as being possible to place so quickly.

36. Rc2                d4
37. Ke2?              e4
38. fxe4??           Qxe4!
White accomplished all his objectives to prepare for cxd, but he is completely lost now. 

39. Rd1               Qg2+
40. Kd3               Qxh3
41. c5+                Kf8
42. Nc7               Qxg4
43. Rb1               Qxf5+
44. Kc4               Qf7+
45. Kb5               Qxc7
46. c6                  Ra5+
47. Kb4               Qd6+
48. Kc4               Rc5+
49. Kd3               Qg6+
50. Ke2               Rxc2+