Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Fischer Random 960 2018 Tourney Continued - 021918

IM Almira Skripchenko thinks 960 chess is wild!
We had ten players tonight at the Club and four played in the 2nd round of our 2018 Fischer 960 Random Tournament.

This is a fun event! For those of you not familiar with 960 Random chess, it was a game invented by Bobby Fischer in order to "save" chess.His idea was to take the back rank of the pieces and randomly mix them up.

There are actually 1320 different combinations of mixed up positions, but Bobby wanted to save the idea of castling. So in order to do that, the 360 positions where the king is not in between the two rooks were eliminated.

There are now apps for phones which will do the random generating for the placement of the pieces. We use them at the Club. We turn the app on and roll a six-sided die and hit the random generator button the number of times the die tells us to, in order to get the starting position of the back row pieces.

But if you don't have an app, that single six-sided die will be able to do the randomization for you. Here is the formula:

A common one is that proposed by Ingo Althoefer in 1998, which requires only one six-sided die:
  1. Roll the die, and place a white bishop on the black square indicated by the die, counting from the left. Thus, 1 indicates the first black square from the left (a1), 2 indicates the second black square from the left (c1), 3 indicates the third (e1), and 4 indicates the fourth (g1). Since there are no fifth or sixth positions, re-roll a 5 or 6 until another number shows.
  2. Roll the die, and place a white bishop on the white square indicated (1 indicates b1, 2 indicates d1, and so on). Re-roll a 5 or 6.
  3. Roll the die, and place the queen on the first empty position indicated (always skipping filled positions). Thus, 1 places the queen on the first (leftmost) empty position, while 6 places the queen on the sixth (rightmost) empty position.
  4. Roll the die, and place a knight on the empty position indicated. Re-roll a 6.
  5. Roll the die, and place a knight on the empty position indicated. Re-roll a 5 or 6.
This leaves three empty squares. Place the king on the middle empty square, and the rooks on the remaining two squares. Place all white and black pawns on their usual squares, and place Black's pieces to exactly mirror White's (so, Black should have on a8 the same type of piece White has on a1, except that bishops would be on opposite-color squares).

Garry Kasparov, one of the world champions considered by some to be the greatest player of all time, gave his opinion of Fischer Random 960 chess:

"From my viewpoint, Fischer Random chess is entirely acceptable. But I propose that instead of 960 possible positions, most of which are positions that hurt the eyes of serious chess players, downsize the number of positions to 20 or 30. It goes without saying that in several years theory will be developed. To entirely exclude opening preparation is unimaginable."

Especially when that preparation is to your advantage as a GM!

Your humble scribe disagrees completely with GM Kasparov. The randomness is exactly what makes this type of chess a blast to play. And a genius like Kasparov and other GM's could easily memorize several patterns in 20 or 30 positions - and we would be right back to what Bobby Fischer was trying to eliminate - volumes of opening preparation.

Standard chess is challenging enough for us mere mortals. However, if you have an opponent who has some pet openings you cannot seem to crack, Fischer 960 may even the playing field for you.

And besides - it's FUN!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A Successful Kid's Night at LCCC - 021218

Chess is a great game to play while on the physical mend.
The club had a quiet 020518 evening of casual chess with five attendees. But the club was rocking on Kid's Night with fourteen players! It was a nice evening for chess indoors at our beautiful playing room as it was a very cold winter evening.

The Club WILL BE OPEN next week on President's Day, so our 960 tournament will continue on that evening.

Stop by to join the tournament or play some regular casual chess. See you next Monday!

Here is a game played thru the mail (way before the internet). The opening is called the Ruy Lopez and has been analyzed to death for literally centuries.Since it was a postal game, the two players probably referenced books to carry the opening as far as they did without any major blunders.

But the opening and the positional play is still good to see for all players, which is why is is shown here.

1. e4              e5
2. Nf3           Nf3
3. Bb5           a6
4. Ba4           Nf6
5. O-O          Nxe4
6. Re1           Nf6
7. Bxc6         dxc6
8. Nxe5         Be6
Black's king safety has improved. Game is even.

9. Qe2              Bd6
10. d4               O-O
11. Bf4             Re8
12. Nc3            Nd5
13. Nxd5          Bxd5
14. c4               Be6
15. Rad1          Bd7
16. Qh5            Qe7
17. Rd3            f6
White keeps turning up the pressure and Black successfully counters every time.

18. c5               Bxe5
19. dxe5           g6
20. Qd1            Rad8
21. Kf1             Bf5
22. Rxd8          Rxd8
23. Qb3+          Rd5

Position after Black's move #23  .....Rd5

White forks the b7 pawn.

24. Qxb7           fxe5
25. Qxc6           Bd3+?
Finally a slip by Black as he missed 25. ......Qd8 with an even game. White up a pawn positionally.

26. Kg1             Rxc5
27. Qa8+           Kg7
28. Be3?            Rc2
White needed Bd2. Now Black threatens to win the b-pawn.

29. Qb7             Bb5?
White retakes the positional lead as 29. .....Qd6 kept the game even.

30. a4                Qb4
31. Rb1             Qxa4
32. h3?              Qc4
White did not want to worry about a back rank mate when he starts his attack, but this 'slow' move gives Black a slight positional advantage. White should have played 32. Qd5.

33. Qf3             Qa2
34. Rd1             Qxb2??
A blunder that loses the game as White makes no mistakes from now on. 34. ....Bc6 holds things close to equality.
White has to tread correctly as Black still has defensive moves available and some tricks. But.....since it was a postal game......White must have really taken his time.

35. Rd8+           Qb4
36. Qd5             Kf6
37. h4                Rxf2
38. Bxf2            Ba4
39. Qg8             Resigns

Friday, February 2, 2018

Casual Chess on a Snowy Cold Night 012918

Chess is a nice way to spend a quiet evening.
We had five players brave the cold tonight for a casual chess night.

Our 960 tournament resumes next week. And in two weeks is our monthly Kid's Night. So plenty of chess action available during this indoor chess season. Stop by and enjoy the world's best game in a friendly atmosphere.

Now for a little endgame information.

Students of history may be struck by the knight because he is nothing like his medieval inspiration. That knight ruled the battlefield for centuries even though he was the equivalent of a cost overrun. You could outfit and hire ten foot soldiers for what it cost for one knight. But he was worth it - until a defensive counter - weapon - the English long bow - put the knight out of business.

The chess knight has the least offensive power of any first rank piece. Even the King has more punch in most endgames.  On the other hand, the knight is the second-best defender - after the pawn.

Ironically, the knight is weakest when he is protecting his fellow knight. But there are exceptions to every chess rule.

Computers tell us that a lone Queen can mate against two knights in 29 moves from a corner.

Place the queen other places and White can mate in 30 + moves.

Note that making 50 moves each without a capture or pawn move is a draw - so White is cutting it close.

However, if you can arrange your knights in the fashion shown here, it is a book draw.

Even though the Queen is a (+5) advantage over the knights, mate in this situation is not possible.

Keep this in mind if you find yourself in an endgame approaching this type.