Monday, January 28, 2019

Chess Club Closed Tonight Due to Weather - and a Game Review for Beginners

Here is the latest in chess clocks! Touch pads!
The Livingston County Chess Club is closed tonight due to weather concerns. Schools were closed today - which closes our location.

See you next week!

Here is a game that is instructional for beginners on the importance of developing your pieces and not getting your queen involved too early in the game:

      1.     e4               g6
      2.     d4               Bg7
      3.     Be3             c5
      4.     Nc3             Qb6

The beginning of Black’s problems. Black thinks he will win the pawn at d4.
After all he has three pieces attacking it and White only has two pieces guarding it.
But the queen is not a good piece to have out on the chessboard early because she can be hassled by the minor pieces all over the board.
Black also is always a move behind and to waste moves to keep your queen safe puts you farther and farther behind in the development of your own soldiers.

     5.     Nd5!           Qc6

Black should have played Qd8 and get his queen to safety. But no one likes to go backwards.

     6.     Bb5!!          ……..

      It looks like Black can win a piece by taking the bishop at b5. But then White plays Nc7+ and Black’s Queen is lost to a “family fork.”

 6.     ……..         Qd6

The only square for the Black Queen and now White wins a pawn and again threatens the Queen.

      7.      dxc5            Qe5
       8.     Nf3!            Qxe4

White develops his last piece. If Black takes at b2 White will play Rb1 and when the Black queen moves White will play Nc7 + and win the Black Rook. So Black takes the e-pawn hoping that White will now play Nc7+ and take the Rook. Then White can play Qb4+ and take the bishop to get some material back. 

       9.        O-O            Kd8???
      10.     Ng5!!          Qf5

Can you find the best move for White that traps the Queen and makes Black resign?

Monday, January 21, 2019

Chess Club Busy - at Home and on the Road in 2019

LCCC friend James Karakos (L) and LCCC member Don Mason in Class A action
By the way - we are open tonight for chess on MLK day.

Our Club is averaging 12 players every Monday night, so you always have a full field of willing participants for a friendly game.And of course for beginners or people looking for a lesson, someone will be glad to help you with that.

On the road, our Club members played in the 2019 Michigan Class Championships. This tournament held every year in Lansing, Michigan at the Marriott Hotel is one many players look forward to. It is well run by TD Jeff Aldrich - VP of the Michigan Chess Association.
And this tournament has the players broken into sections according to their ratings (ability). So every game is evenly matched - and therefore always tense and exciting.

The Sections are:
Master/Expert - (no one from LCCC was in this section, although there could have been)
A - Matt Trujillo 2-0-3 (tied for 2nd) and Don Mason 1-0-4
B - (no one from LCCC was in this section, although there could have been)
C - Mike Nikitin 3-0-2 (2nd) and Sam Thompson 2-2-1
D - Paul Mills 2-2-1
E - Nathan Holland 2-2-1

As you can see, LCCC held their own in this tournament as none of our players had a negative result!
Well done team - with a combined record of 12 wins, 6 losses and 12 draws. You can also see our members come in all current skill levels and working to get better!

Now for a game from two Grandmasters - GM Joel Lautier vs GM Anatoly Karpov. Your scribe picked this game because it looked interesting and Mr. Karpov had annotated it heavily playing Black. So let us learn together what a World Champion chess player and a computer is data crunching at 2 million moves a second are both thinking during the game.

Opening: Open Catalan
1.  d4            Nf6
2.  c4            e6
3. g3             d5
4. Bg2          Be7
5. Nf3           O-O
6. O-O          dxc4
7. Nc3          Nc6
8. e3             Bd6
9. Nd2          e5
10. Nxc4      exd4
11. exd4       Bg4
12. Qb3        Nxd4
13. Qxb7      Bf3
14. Qa6        .........
Finally out of book. Yes, grandmasters know openings this deep and deeper. 14. Bxf3 is normal here for White and is good enough to draw or win. Lautier decides to change it up but this move is slightly worse than even at (-.2) of a pawn. Not death by any means. But Karpov notes that White should play for a draw here. Igor3000 had that very game Khusnutdinov - Akhmedeev - 2006 in his data base. Karpov knew about this game before Igor3000 was assembled and soldered.

14. ......            Bb4
15. Be3           Bxg2
16. Rfd1 !         ........

Igor ignores this move as standard, but Karpov gives this move an 'excellent' "!" designation, stating that the obvious 16. Kxg2, Bxc3 17. bxc3, Qd5+ 18. f3, Nc2 19. Rfd1, Qxc4 20. Qxc4, Nxe3+ and Black forks the entire White family.

But Igor saw that White is not entirely dead with that move as White could have played it like this; 19. Bd4, Nxa1 20. Ne3, Qd7 21. Qa3, Rab8 22. Qc1 and there is no family fork.

Igor agrees that the move played was better by a pawn and a half (-.5 versus -2).
Your writer agrees with Karpov. That move deserves an "!", as Kxg2 looks too natural to us mere mortals.

16. ......          c5
Reinforcing the centralized knight.

17. Bxd4       cxd4
If Black had played the natural looking 17. ....Bf3? 18. Bxf6! and now White is winning (.8 vs -.5).

18. Kxg2       Rc8!
This is a very important move that Igor ignores as best and what else can be played.
Karpov explains his plan as Black is lining up against the loose knights on the c-file.
Isn't peering into the mind of a grandmaster fun!

19. Kg1         Re8
The White pieces - the knights in particular - lack the coordination to form a blockade in front of the passed d-pawn. In addition, the White Queen is out of play on a6 and has trouble coming back home.

20. Rac1       Qd7
21. Nb5??     ........
Both Igor and Karpov state that 21. Ne3 was required. Black is now up (-2.7).

21. ........        d3!
22. Ne3 ??     ........
Lautier crumbles. 22. Nc3 was needed to stay in a bad game (-6.5). No hope now for White.

22. ......          Rxc1
23. Rxc1        d2
24. Rd1         Nd5!
25. Qa4          a6!
This gains a critical tempo (extra move) while the b4 bishop is still protected. Igor also says that 25. Nc2 for White is better, but not that it solves White's problems.

26. Qxa6        Nxe3
27. fxe3          Qd3!
Pinning the b5 knight and attacking the pawn on e3.

28. Qc6          Qxe3+
29. Kg2          Qe2+
30. Kh3          Qh5+
Lautier resigned here.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

LCCC's 1st Night of 2018 Has 14 Players - Kid's Night Next Week!

Chess is fun for everyone!
Another fun night of chess at the Club as we kick off our 39th year. We had fourteen players for a fun night of casual chess.

Be sure to stop by next week as Monday January 14th is our popular Kid's Night. This is the night where our younger members and guests get the full attention of the of the veteran players.

We make sure they are paired with other young players and can get lessons from our stronger players or coaches if they wish.

Be sure to stop by for this fun event.

White to move and win.
Now here is an endgame from the 1960 USSR Championship. Endgames look like the simplest part of chess since there are less pieces on the board. But in reality, they are the most tricky and complicated.
In this position, White has a commanding material advantage. But you see, the queening pawn for Black is about to even everything up.
White must find a way to stop the pawn.

1. Rc4    
This looks like the best move. If Black plays 1. ....e1=Q then White can play 2. Re4+, Qxe4 3. Bxe4 and White's problem is solved, and actually will now win the game with 3....Kd6 4. Bxb7, Kc5 5. Bd5, Kxb6 6. Kxf6 and White can queen his remaining pawn.
So what can Black do instead?

1. .....           f5
2. Bxf5        e1=Q
3. Re4+       Kd8!

Now if  4. Rxe1? , Black is stalemated with no moves and the game ends in a draw. And if White plays 4. Kf7? instead, threatening mate on d4, Black plays 4. ....Qe3! 5. Re6, Qe5! and White can still only stalemate with 6. Rce5
Very tricky stuff. So now it is White's turn to be tricky.

4. Kf8!        Qe3
Now if 5. Re6? then 5. ....Wc5+ 6. Kg7, Qxf5 and Black wins!

5. Kf7!         Wxb6
6. Rc4!         .........
White has another mate threat, this time on c8, which Blacks meets with a pin.

6. .......          Qb3
7. Be6           Resigns
White breaks the pin, reimposing the mate threat that Black can only stop by giving up his Queen, so White wins!

Endgames can be tricky and complicated and not for the faint of heart. Also remember that in tournament play, the clocks for both sides usually don't have much time left. Coolness under pressure is required to find the best moves.
The best way to get that 'coolness' is to study and practice endgames.