Thursday, December 31, 2020

Grandmasters Just Dazzle Us Mere Mortals - But Sometimes Brilliant is Easy

 Nobody seems to know how brilliant chess moves come about. But there is a myth about them usually repeated by people who play chess, but more at a casual or even sparse amount. 

This myth is that the "brilliant" chess move came from an hour or so of deep analysis by a grandmaster, who suddenly screams mentally "EUREKA!!". And he wins the game, the brilliancy prize and the praise of his peers. 

Reality is much different. I have played a few brilliant moves in my day. I only found one that won a game I thought was even. One where I found a deep 6-move swindle to win a completely lost game. And a couple of times I found forced repetition draws to save myself from losses. But these took me a lot of time on the clock, as the myth would suggest. But I am not a grandmaster.

It is White's move, GM Averbakh vs Kotov, Candidates Tournament, 1953. 

White is in time trouble and played 30. Ne2. Kotov as Black replied almost instantly 30. ...Qxh3+!!.

This is remarkable because in Kotov's book Think Like a Grandmaster, Kotov declares that a grandmaster is obligated to analyze every reasonable candidate move in considerable detail.

Kotov was not in time trouble and had 40 minutes to make the 40 move time control, but played the first candidate move that popped into his head. 

That is what he said he did. But possibly he had found and analyzed that move during his opponent's longer thinks. Who knows for sure.

The reason a GM can find these moves so fast is that he naturally looks first for forcing moves such as captures, checks and major threats. 'Quiet', defensive and tempo moves win occasionally, but most 'shockers' are forcing moves.

Since there are only a few forcing moves in most positions, GM's run thru those early and quickly.

Here is White Karpov vs Anand, Las Palmas 1996. Anand attacks the rook with 20. ....Ba6.
Karpov focused on the capture, 21. Rxd5. This is natural since it meets the threat and wins a pawn.

But Karpov's analysis made him decide that 21. ...Bxd3 might be difficult to win. That is when he looked to the most forcing move in the position, 21. Bxh7+!!.  He could find no defense for his opponent after 21. ...Kxh7, 22. Qh5+, Kg8 23. Rb3, and then Rh3 won what was the best game of that tournament. We know that 21. Bxh7 was Karpov's second choice because he said so after the game. Such honestly about a brilliancy is rare.

This game is Levitsky vs Marshall, Breslau, 1912.

If you look for forcing moves for Black, there are only two, and both are knight checks. 

Black doesn't have a good follow up to 23. ....Nf3+, 24. gxf3. So Marshall looked to the other check 23. ....Ne2+, 24. Kh1 and found the good 24. ....Ng3+!.

This works because 25. fxg3, Rxf1 is mate and 25. Qxg3, Qxg3 wins a queen. 

This would have been the end of the analysis for us mere mortals, but Marshall looked a little longer and found the immortal 23. .....Qg3!!
Now the Eureka Myth would have you believe that the move that was dubbed the BEST EVER PLAYED was found after intensive study. And that was not the case. It was simply the quick follow up analysis after finding a good move, and looking for an even better one.


Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Guest Post: Checkers vs. Chess Players

Guest post by Dave the struggling chess guy.

I like playing checkers.

Chess players think checkers players are dumb.  I don't think they are.

Checkers is a game of skill and I actually find that the red pieces are quite tasty.

 I'll show myself out now..........

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Writing Down Your Moves or “Keeping Score” in a Chess Game


Even your evening game with your significant other may produce a gem!

In your scribe’s never humble opinion, you are not a true chess player if you are not recording every non-speed chess game you play. It is a requirement in most chess tournaments. If it is not a requirement, and you do not record your moves, if any dispute arises in the game, you will not have a leg to stand on. The person with any documentation - wins!

The real benefit of recording your games is that you can have a record of the game and you can re-play it! The best way to learn is to go over your games and especially the losses! It may be difficult mentally to review a loss with the tournament player who just beat you, but it is absolutely the best way to learn.

If you have never done it, it is an eye opener. The times I have been able to review a game with my opponent – win or lose – it has always been beneficial. Your opponent will tell you things about the game that you were not aware of and did not see. Many, and I mean many times your opponent blocked an attack you never knew you had. And after a win, he may bemoan your ‘great’ move of blocking a winning combination of his – that you never saw either! You just made the right move by accident! How is that for deflating you and keeping you humble after a win?

And of course now with the computer software available, you can load your game in and really see who was winning when, and how strong your opening was. To play serious chess, you need to record all of your semi-serious / serious games. You never know when a gem will be played. Many times I have played a ‘friendly’ game, that turned out to be very interesting or exciting. But alas, it was lost forever.

The official rules of chess had been changed regarding when you can write your move down on the scoresheet.

It used to be a crutch habit of some players to record the move they were planning on making onto the scoresheet and then take one more look at the board before actually moving!

The idea behind this was first - for some reason after the decision to make a certain move has been made, psychologically, it frees the mind up to see the board more clearly with the new position. The idea being you ‘made’ your move. Now what? And many times, players would see the problem with their chosen move - at this time - and then change their move.

The other reason, which grandmasters often tried to use, was to look at their opponent’s reaction to the move written on the scoresheet. The written move was not binding. So the quick glance to your scoresheet by your opponent - followed immediately by a quick glance by you at him - might give you an insight as to what he thinks of your move. 


You can only record your move AFTER you have completed your move. Any move written down prior to you moving will be deemed a “note” on the scoresheet, which are illegal of course.

The reason for this RULE CHANGE is based on the fact that a player could have an accomplice that could read the move written and give a signal as to whether it was a good move or not. And, if that accomplice is wired to some chess engine somewhere, it would be a huge advantage. So to greatly reduce the chance of that type of cheating, pre-writing of your move was banned.

But for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. And for every change, there are positive and negatives. What about the following scenario? This occurred in an actual team tournament game in 1944. No clocks were being used.  I will let the player, Victor Trailbush recall the event:

“I pushed my pawn to the 8th rank. But before I could promote my piece, my opponent moved his queen and said ‘check’. I said, “No, you are in check!” and placed a knight on my promotion square. My opponent started to argue that I was going to promote to a queen. I then showed him my scoresheet where I had written, ‘e8 = N+.’ Discussion over and problem avoided.”

The pre-written move prevented an issue.

The use of chess clocks would have avoided this situation also, as would waiting until your opponent finishes his move. But the point is you just can never foresee all possible scenarios for rule changes.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

The Smith-Morra Gambit in the Sicilian Defense

The Smith-Morra Gambit for White from the Black's Sicilian Defense opening gives White lasting pressure and piece activity in exchange for a pawn or two. Here are two 1900 players going at it in the Vermont Open, 4th round, 2005.

1. e4          c5

2. d4          cxd4

3. c3          dxc3

4. Nxc3      Nc6

5. Nf3         d6

6. Bc4         Nf6

Still a book move but one wrought with danger. Safer is 6. ...... e6 or a6. But even with the text move, the game is still rated even by Igor3000, the chess machine super GM.

7. e5            Ng4

8. e6            Bxe6

9. Bxe6        fxe6

10. Ng5        Nf6

11. O-O        Qd7

12. Re1         e5

13. Qb3         .......

This is the last book move....following the script he knows for this opening. But Igor says White is down -1.5 pawns. He is waiting for his opponent to crack under the strain of a worse position. Black is up material granted, but his extra pawns are doubled, his King is not castled and his black-squared bishop is still unemployed.

13. .......         Nd4??

Here is the opponent slip up that White was hoping for. We don't know the clock situation here, but it would be safe to say Black is searching for the right move, while White is peeling off his book moves much faster. Don't underestimate the clock pressure the gambit accepter is probably under as another negative besides positional. White is now up (+1).

14. Qf7          Kd8

15. Be3          h6

16. Bxd4        hxg5

17. Bxe5        Kc7??

Another slip up (+4.6). Needed was 17. ......Rc8.

18. Bxf6         gxf6

19. Nd5+        Kd8

20. Nxf6+       Qb5?

The better move is 20. .....exf6, but it doesn't save anything in the face of 21. Qxf6.

21. a4              Qc6

22. Rac1          Black resigns

Friday, November 27, 2020

The Grandmasters of Old Could Play Some Great Chess


And these would be grandmasters you may not of heard of. Here is a game from 1906 played in a tournament in St. Petersburg, Russia. White was the Hungarian GM Carl Schlechter and Black was a Russian GM Fyodor Dus-Chotimirski. 

Not exactly two players who's names roll off the tongue of some of the most knowledgeable of us of chess history. In one of the strongest tournaments ever held to that time in history, these two men finished tied for 8th-10th and 13th alone respectively out of 19 players. The tournament was won by world champion Dr. Emanual Lasker and Akiba Rubinstein - with both finishing with 14.5 points.

So, two middle of the road GM's, but what a brilliant positional battle they fought. Enjoy. Notes by Dr. Lasker himself, Igor3000 the engine, and your humble scribe where Igor has only advice and no commentary.

1. e4          c5

2. Nf3        Nc6

3. d4          cxd4

4. Nxd4      Nf6

5. Nc3        d6

6. Bc4         Bd7

7. Bg5         e6

8. O-O         a6

9. Nxc6        .......

Black intended Ne5, but White should not have exchanged his well posted knight.

9. .......         Bxc6

10. Qe2        Be7

11. Rad1       b5

12. Bd3         O-O

13. e5            Ne8

14. Bf4          d5?!

Better for Black was 14. ....b4 15. Nb1, g6 16. Rfe1, d5 (+.2 but now +.4 of a pawn for White).

15. Qg4         g6

16. Ne2         Ng7

17. Nd4         Bd7

18. Rfe1        Qa5

19. Bd2         Qb6

Of course not 19. Qxa2 20. Ra1, Qxb2 21. Reb1 and good bye Queen!

20. Be3          Qc7

21. f4?!          f5?!

Better for Black was 21. ......f6 22. Nf3, b4 23. Qh4, Bb5 24. Qf2, Rac8 with a very even game.

22. Qe2          g5?

The threat of this move is of no importance, while it clearly weakens the point f5 which is threatened by White's g4 and the diagonal which is commanded by White's white squared bishop. (+1).

23. Kh1         g4

24. a3            ......

The advance of the Black King-side pawns is less than useless says Dr. Lasker, and apparently Schlechter knew it too. They look scary to your humble scribe!

24. ......          h5

25. Bd2          h4

26. Bb4          Rf7?

Better was 26. ......Be8. (+1.6)

27. Bxe7         Rxe7

28. Qf2            Ne8

29. Qxh4         Rh7

30. Qf2            Ng7 

31. g3              Kf7

32. h4              gxh3

33. g4!             Rh6

If 33. ......    fxg4 then 34. Bxh7 A deflection pinning!

34. gxf5           exf5

35. Rg1            Rg8

36. Kh2            Qd8?

In a bad position and time on his clock dwindling (remember, no increment or delays in those days), the errors start occurring. (+3)

37. Rg5            Ne6?

Black needed 37. .....Rgh8 for a last chance at counter-play. (+6)

38. Nxf5           Resigns

Monday, November 16, 2020

The Last Nail in a Chess Club’s Coffin?


Your humble scribe hates to get serious on this chess blog. After all, the missions of this blog is to: Promote chess,

Promote Michigan chess,

Promote Livingston County MI chess and

Educate readers on chess, chess history and chess news.

This sad article is about the latter mission.

The news for Chess Clubs, as miserable as it is to say– brick and mortar, flesh and blood, over the board, meet your chess buddies in person and teach new players chess clubs – is dismal, if not over. Maybe not forever probably, but for a long time.

Nail: This COVID 19 pandemic issue (trying not to say whether it is a hoax, a real concern or somewhere in between – because there is no way to really know), has caused panic within the general population. Not to mention that the government edicts issued ‘to keep us safe’, have locked all brick and mortar chess clubs down.

LCCC has lost it’s location to hold our chess club because of the government. Looking for a new site is pointless at this time and I will explain why.

There are two main groups of attendees to chess clubs; old men and children – and this is the Achilles Heal of chess in general. 

Young people and middle aged folks have school or jobs, a host of other activities, dating, marriage and starting families, college and /or a career. Chess takes a back seat usually for these people.

The COVID panic now keeps the old guys at home, and the parents are not going to subject their children or themselves to a bunch of old geezers and possible wheezers at a chess board, or sit in a possibly un-sterile chess area.

LCCC will continue on-line for now. The future of the brick and mortar LCCC Chess Club is in a coma that it may not recover from.

We will see. 

Friday, November 13, 2020

Writer's Dilemma - and a Ten Year Old Beats a Grandmaster!

 I must apologize to my readers for the long gap between posts. I have been at a loss as to what to write about.

I think that general articles of interest are the most appreciated, since game analysis and puzzles can be reviewed in various magazines, books, videos and internet streams. Who wants to set up a board to follow along on a game on a blog post? I hope all of you, but I am not sure that is the case.

However, the games I do post I found interesting or entertaining for some reason or I would not have posted them. But they take a much longer time to produce and the readership for those is actually a lot less. I sense a kind of a diminishing return; e.i., the more work and time I put into a certain post, the less it is read and enjoyed.

A personal interest story or a short general lesson seems to be the most read posts. A dilemma for your chess scribe to be sure.

 But here is a game I found which I think deserves a look. A 10-year old player Abhimanyu Mishra (2353) defeats the Grandmaster Yaroslav Zherebukh (2695) with White.

We pick the game up at the critical point where little Mishra has played positionally brilliant so far, but is he starting to crack under the pressure of his GM opponent?

White has just played 32. g3? The correct move was 32. b4. This cuts Abhimanyu’s positional advantage in half to just a pawn (+1).

Let’s see if this starts a decline of concentration for this young man.

32. …..          Nf5

33. Kg2         Rh8

34. Qg4         Rh5

The GM is fighting for his life and sets a trap. Black is hoping the youngster will play an attacking move like 35. Nh4? Rg5 (not 36. Qf3 because of ….Nh4+ forks White’s queen) 36. Qd1 Rxg3 and not 37. fxg3 because of ….Ne3+ forking the queen. So after 37. Kh1 the game is a draw. But the youngster sees all this.

35. h4!          Bxh4?

36. gxh4       Rxh4?

Black has lost his desire at this point and the youngster does not let the GM get away.

37. Qg5         Nxe5

38. Bxf5         Rh2+

39. Kg3          exf5

40. Ra6          Rbh8

41. Nf4           Black resigns as time control was reached.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Meet GM Fabiano Caruana - The Best Player in the USA

If you are a serious chess player, you know who he is. If you are a casual chess player, you said....who?

Such is the life of a chess superstar who played for the World Chess Championship in 2018 and lost only in a rapid chess tie-break against the greatest player ever to have played - Magnus Carlsen of Norway.

No, his name does not roll off an American tongue like "Bobby Fischer", but Fabiano's performance against Carlsen proves that he plays better than Fischer (see the computer analysis of chess strength in the Paul Morphy post on Aug. 20, 2020). And like Fischer, Fabiano was born in the USA. Miami, Florida to be exact in 1994.

His chess rise was nothing short of meteoric! After his family moved to New York in 1996, little "Fabi" found the chess environment and training he needed.

2002 - He wins the Pan-American U/10 Championship

2004 - His family moves to Madrid, Spain and he turns professional at age 11!

2005 - Changes his chess Federation to Italy

2007 - Moves to Budapest, Hungary to train with GM Alexander Chernin. Becomes a Grandmaster at age 14

2007 - 2011 - Italian Champion

2012 - Moves back to Madrid. Wins the major chess tournaments; Reykjavik, Dortmund, and second at Wijk aan Zee and Sao Paulo/Bilbao

2013 - Wins Bucharest and the Paris Gran Prix

2014 - Wins Sinquefield Cup, Dortmund, Baku Gran Prix, and becomes the world's #2 player.

2015 - Moves to St. Louis, Missouri. Wins Dortmund, Khanty Mansiysk Gran Prix, and re-joins the United States Chess Federation!

2016 - Wins US Championship, leads the USA Team to a gold medal at the Chess Olympiad in Baku. Second at Wijk ann Zee and Moscow

2017 - Wins the London Classic

2018 - Wins the Berlin Candidates Tournament to challenge Magnus Carlsen for the World Championship. Won the Grenke Championship and Norway Championship, Sinquefield Cup, 2nd in the US Championship behind Sam Shankland. Then lost the World Championship match 12 - 12 regular games but lost 3 - 0 in rapid speed chess in a tie-break format.

2019 - Competed in Gran Prix events finishing 7th.

2020 - Won the Tata Steel Masters Championship. Qualified for the Candidates Tournament again.

The USA has one of the strongest chess teams in the world and very few in the country are aware of it.

Fabiano Caruana is the 1st board!

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Chess Decisions - The Logical Way

LCCC is still active on line. Please check the status on the right side of the blog. Hope to see you on both on line sites - Chess dot com and Lichess!

Chess axioms are helpful, but never 100% correct. But remember-able expressions like "a knight on the rim is grim" and "passed pawns must be pushed" do lend us some true helpful hints generally.

Well, here are some more:

  • Same colored bishops for both sides: Only the bishops should focus on their colored squares. All other pieces should play opposite colors. For example; if both sides have dark colored bishops, we should put all the other pieces on white squares.
  • Two bishops versus bishop and knight: The side with the two bishops should play on the colors where the opponent does not have a bishop. The side with the bishop and knight should play on the color of the bishop.
  • Opposite colored bishops: Both sides should play on the colors of their bishops.
  • One bishop versus one knight: The side with the knight should play on the opposite color of the opponent's bishop. The side with the bishop should utilize his other pieces on the opposite color of the bishop.
  • Both sides have both bishops: When the central pawns are fixed on a particular color, we should play on the opposite color of our opponent's centralized pawns, and try to exchange the opponent's bishop of that same color. For example; if the opponent's center pawns were fixed on the light squares, then we should exchange the dark colored bishops and fight for the dark colors with other pieces.
I hope this helps!

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Some Facts About Paul Morphy - Maybe the Best USA Player of All Time

Paul Morphy was born June 22, 1837 and died July 10, 1884 at the age of 47. Here are some facts.

  • Paul became the best player in the world at the age of 21, when the current world champion Howard Staunton, avoided playing a match with Paul at all costs.
  • Paul learned to play chess simply by watching games between his father and uncle. He never had a lesson from any person to anyone's knowledge. At at nine, he was already considered New Orleans best player.
  • At age 12, Paul played a match against visiting Hungarian GM Johann Lowenthal and won 3 games and drawing one.
  • Paul relied on his remarkable memory and natural intuition to play chess. He never studied, practiced or trained for chess.
  • Began playing chess competitively only because he was too young to start his law practice after graduating from law school at the age of 19.
  • Gave a blindfold chess against 8 master players in an 1858 exhibition in Paris that rocked the chess world by winning every game.
  • Paul's chess career in total lasted only 18 months. Lack of the ability to get a championship match soured Paul's desire to continue playing. 
  • Paul never truly got his law business going. He was nicknamed "The pride and sorrow of chess" because even though he may have been the greatest natural chess player ever born, he left chess without being champion and struggled to be a lawyer as mental illness crept in.
  • An interviewer asked Bobby Fischer who was the 2nd best US player of all time. Even Bobby said, he didn't really think he was the best. Bobby credited Paul Morphy as being possibly greater than him, since there were no chess books, teachers, clubs or tournaments to play in during Paul's lifetime. Bobby said, "I played over all of Paul's games and he may have been the most accurate player that ever lived."
Here is the chess engine's analysis of the best players. Paul finished 16th - without ever studying, getting a lesson or reading a chess book. Amazing!

Sunday, August 9, 2020

LCCC is Still Going Strong On-line at and Lichess! Also a Queen Sac!


Photo of GM Nikolai Krogius

The instructions on how to join us on line are on the right side of the blog. We welcome a new member - Jakob or on - Fiskoal. Glad to have you as a member.

Now for a little chess entertainment. 

Grandmasters of course are special people with a special talent. Their ability to see things on a chessboard and calculate combinations and sequences of moves astounds us mere mortals. Here is a game where the Grandmaster sees the real 'best move, but I will let GM Nikolai Krogius tell the story:

"White has a big advantage here. 14. Kh1 followed by 15. f5 leads to a won game for White. White's attention had been constantly aimed at the d4 square (Ed. Note: Did you take notice of what the GM mind focuses on? Square control. That is a lesson in itself.). 

But who can resist a queen sacrifice? Even though the vanilla 14. Kh1 is the shortest win, (Ed. Note: Igor3000 says White's advantage is +3.1 pawns after that move) the aesthetic factors won the day. (Ed. Note: GM's are also very mean people on a chessboard!) 

My heart stopped beating when I played ....."

GM Krogius - GM Kuznetsov

14.   Qxd4!          Nxd4        (Ed. Note: White's text move is only worth +2.8 pawns)

15.   Nd6+           Kf8

16.   Nxb7            Qa4

17.    b3               Nxb3

18.    axb3            Qxa1

19.    Be3             Qb2

20.    Bxc5+         d6

21.    Bxd6+         Kg8

22.    Ne7+           Kf8

23.    Re1             .........

First of all, who in the world but Grandmasters could calculate a queen sac 10 moves out? Well, Krogius even admitted "I did not understand the win at the time I made the sacrifice, but I sensed it would be correct."  

This is why chess fascinates us! 

23.   ......               h5

24.   Ng6+            Kg8

25.   Re8+             Kh7

26.   Nxh8             Qd4+

27.   Kf1                a6??

The final mistake, not that it matters at this point. Correct was 27. .......Nc6. (White up only +1.6 pawns instead of a mate in nine moves.

28.   Nxf7              axb5

29.    Ng5+            Kg6

30.    Bf7+             Kf5

31.    Re5+             Kxf4

32.    g3+                Black Resigns

GM's can not only see winning positions, they can sense them as well. Your author can't do either one, but that does not stop me from enjoying the best game in the world.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Akiba Rubinstein - Final Installment - LCCC Live Closed - On Line Open!

Hello there LCCC'ers. Take a look at the instructions on the right hand side of the blot to learn how to play in and join our club on line. Our live chess site remains closed for now. 
Please join us on line! 
 LCCC is using 2 of the best on line chess services available and offering two different forms of chess. Live tournament play on Monday Night on Lichess.
And on-line "postal" style chess on 
 Not to mention that both chess sites offer their own lists of games, time limits, tournaments and chess variations - 24 hours a day! Come join us! 

Akiba Rubinstein

 Now back to our story of Akiba Rubinstein: 

 When looking at the games of Akiba Rubinstein, his approach was one of smooth transision from the opening, to the middlegame and the endgame. In pure harmony, every move seemed perfectly necessary. No extra or wasted moves were tolerated. Like the building of a house, every stone is in it's place and every stone has a role. It was the same with his chess pieces.
Rubinstein spend a great deal of time studying the general principles of the game. This led him to being the master of endgame play over his contemporaries. No one came close in that department until Capablanca came along. 
 Despite being the World's #2 player, if not #1, Akiba never got to play in a championship match. There were several reasons for this. One being the financial conditions set forth by the current champion Emanuel Lasker. Another was the arrival of another chess great - Jose Capablanca. And of course the start of World War I (WW1). 
 But there were other issues as psychological problems began to plague him and lead to his eventual retirement from the chess scene. WWI destroyed many lives and fortunes and Akiba was no different. He invested heavily in German war bonds. 
 After WWI Rubinstein played in more tournaments, but never revisited his past highs. The exception was the super-tournament in Vienna in 1922, where Rubinstein won over Alexander Alekine and Richard Reti. 
 But soon after this win, he visited a psychiatrist complaining of a fly that he imagined always settled on his forehead, breaking his concentration. The doctor sent him ot a leading psyco-neurologist in Munich. The doctor said, "My friend, you are quite mad! But what does that matter? You are a brilliant chess master." 
 It seemed to have mattered plenty. Rubinstien never wrote books to cash in on his legendary chess accomplishments. He was very conscious of his lack of a complete education. And his mental health issues kept him from being able to complete projects. 
Akiba Rubinstein spent the last 30 years of his life in a sanitorium and died in 1961. A sad end to one of the most brilliant chess minds that ever lived.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Akiba Rubinstein - 2nd Installment - LCCC Still Closed for Live Play

We hope to open soon, but since we are located at a Senior Center......who knows?

But now the next installment of the Akiba Rubinstein story.

In 1905, a 5th place finish at a Kiev tournament gave Rubinstein his first Grandmaster title  and that cemented his decision to become a chess professional. That was a benefit to the entire chess world!

Between 1906 and 1911, Akiba played in 17 international tournaments and placed first in 11 of them!
In 1912, he shocked the world by winning 5 straight international tournaments!

Now to present Rubinstein's "Immortal Game".
White: Georg Rotlevi
Black: Akiba Rubinstein

1. d4               d5
2. Nf3             e6
3. e3               c5
4. c4               Nc6
5. Nc3            Nf6
6. dxc5           Bxc5
7. a3               a6
8. b4               Bd6
9. Bb2            O-O
10. Qd2          Qe7
11. Bd3           dxc4
12. Bxc4         b5
13. Bd3           Rd8
14. Qe2           Bb7
15. O-O          Ne5
16. Nxe5         Bxe5
17. f4 ?           .........
Position after White's 17th move - f4?

What is there to do for White! This move doubles White's disadvantage to a small (-.6), Igor3000 suggests 17. Rfd1, but White would still be slightly behind.

17. ......            Bc7
18. e4 ?!          Rac8
19. e5 ?            ......
White exposes his King and Akiba jumps on that chance (-3.6). 19. Kh1 was needed here first.

19. ......             Bb6+
20. Kh1            Ng4 !
21. Be4             ......
This allows a beautiful finish but 21. Qxg4, Rxe3 is just as bad for White.

21. ......             Qh4
Well, 21. ......Nxh2 was better but a different sacrifice looms!

22. g3 ?            Rxc3 !!
23. gxh4           Rd2  !
24. Qxd2          Bxe4+
25. Qg2            Rh3 !
White resigns in the face of mates in 3! An incredible game!

We will wrap up the Akiba Rubinstein story next time.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Still Dark - But You Can Join Us on

We are on Chess dot Com, having matches with other clubs!
We are on, having fun tournaments among ourselves. Come join the action there until our location re-opens!

Now for Part 1 of an article on a famous chess player!

Akiba Kivelovic Rubinstein was born December 12, 1882 in the Polish border town of Stawiski. It was then part of the Russian Empire. He was the youngest of twelve children. His family expected him to become a rabbi, but when he was 16, he discovered some chess books written Hebrew and the rest we say is history!

Akiba took to studying chess 6 to 8 hours a day for 300 days a year, for 5 straight years. Results came fast due to his enormous God given talent and tenacious work ethic.

In 1901, he won this beautiful game against a strong Polish master:

      1.     e4             e5

      2.     Nf3           Nc6 

      3.     Bc4           Nf6

      4.     d4             exd4

      5.     O-O          Bc5

      6.     e5             d5

      7.     exf6          dxc4

      8.     Re1+!       Kf8

      9.     Bg5?         ……..

This is a very dubious move. Much better is 9. fxg7, Kxg7  10. Ne5 with some compensation.

 9………..            gxf6

10.  Bh6+            Kg8
 11.  Nxd4!

This was the point of White’s combination.

  11………..          Bxd4

  12. c3                  Bf5?

Position after Black's move 12. …...Bf5?

Missing 12. ….Be5! 13. Qxd8, Nxd8  14. f4,  Nc6  15. Fxe5, fxe5 – leaving Black with a winning position.

       13. cxd4           Nxd4

       14. Nc3             Bg6?

This is a terrible blunder. Black has to give the knight on d4 more protection with 14. ……. C5

        15. Re8+!           Qxe8

        16. Qxd4            Qe5

        17. Nd5!             Resigns

Mate is soon to follow.

More on Akiba Rubinstein next article.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Still Dark - But Not on Chess dot com! Join the LCCC On Line!

LCCC is upgrading our focus on our internet presence on the biggest chess site in the world. And it is all FREE!
It is free to join Chess . com and it is free to join our Club once you make an account there.
Some members opened up a tournament on Monday Nights on Li Chess that was successful and fun. 
But on Chess dot Com we are going to up the game where our Club challenges other clubs to matches!
We will set the tournaments up. You will see an invite either to your message board on the site or the Note section on the Club site on Chess. com.
Each tournament will allow 3 days for you to make a move! 
Pick and choose how many tournaments for the Club you want to enter.
Lets walk you thru how to make an account on Chess. com and join LCCC there:
Hit the sign up button

Pick a cool username and sign up to Chess. com

Click on the 'chat' bubble (red circle) and then click on "Clubs"

Type in Livingston County Chess Club in the search box

Hit "Join" and you are done!

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Hey, I'm Winning! Now I Can Relax - NOT! (LCCC Still Dark - Due to C-19)

IM Yates (White) vs GM Tartakover (Black) - Hamburg, 1927
Having a winning position in a chess game is a great feeling. But sometimes you can feel too good and lose your focus.
Is there a psychological reason for this? Yes, as we all tend to let our guard down when we no longer perceive any danger. We all tend to relax when no threat seems imminent.
But, in chess that is rarely the case even in dominating positions.
We also tend to want to 'finish things up'. In our minds we are screaming "Look pal, this game is over. You are toast! Resign already. I want to go grab a sandwich and get ready for the next round."
And it can be especially true if you have been playing for a long time before getting the advantage or have been building an ever bigger advantage over time.
Look at the position here, as played by two very strong chess masters. Black has a big advantage both material wise and position wise.  According to Igor3000 the lead is the equivalent of 11 pawns (-10.9)! An overwhelming advantage.
But the GM was frustrated that his opponent had not given up yet and decided to end things quickly.

1. ……          Qxb4?
Black gives up his queen to eliminate White's last defender while winning a pawn (-2.2)and is sure his extra pawn will bring his queen back to life to win the game

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

Black to make move #4

 None of this was a surprise to GM  Tartakover. He had seen all of this. He also saw that if he plays 4. …Kc3, it is a stalemate.
Tartakover saw that 4.....b2 5. Kxb2, Kxb4 is a win for Black. So, 

4. ……            b2
5. Ka2!
But White had one other legal move available to him and he took it!
Now the game is a book draw.

GM Tartakover was guilty of shutting down his full analysis of the position and getting in a hurry to win a won game.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

LCCC Still Dark, But Here is a Lively Game!

Position after Black's 14th move ........f5
Here is the position after fourteen moves. Games with Kings castled on opposite wings usually lead to fireworks. Who can get there first is usually the strategy. Here is no exception. Both sides go for the win.

15. exf5             g6
16. f6                h5
Black is two move late. This move was better played at move 14 instead of the f5 actually played. White is up a half-pawn positionally (+.5).

17. Qg5?          …....
A small error as 17. Qe4,  h4 18. Ne3 kept White in the lead. Game even.

17. .......            Bh6?
Black would do better to block the invading pawn with 17. .....Qf7 first. White back on top by that half-pawn.

18. Qxg6          Qh3?
As stated, Black is all about the attack, but this is premature. 18. ......h4 was more to the point. White is up the full pawn now.

19. f7?             ........
White is also on full aggression mode and gives his extra pawn a little too much credit. It's not getting to the end zone for a while yet. Meanwhile Black is making threats, and it is never ever wise to ignore your opponent's moves. 19. Ne3 was needed. The game is back to even again.

19. .......           h4
20. Ne3??        hxg3?!
This is one move too late! 20. f4 was needed to keep White alive! 20. ...hxg3 21. Qxg3, Bxf4 22. Qxh3, Rxh3 23. Rael and White is actually up a fifth of a pawn (+.2) instead of down (-1.5)! Black has a more accurate 20. ....Qh5 21. Ng4 Bf4. So now Black is only up (-1.2), but still with an advantage.

21. Qxg3         Qe6
22. Kh1??        Bf4
Getting out of the probable rook pin on the White King and Queen with Black playing Rg8 at some point was admirable, but 22. Qf3, Bf4 23. Ng4 kept it a game. Black is up now over 6 pawns!

23. Qg4           Rxh2+
24. Kg1           Qxf7
25. Qf3            Rg8+
26. Ng4           Qd5!
27. Rfd1          Qxf3
28. Rf1            Qxg4 mate

Monday, March 30, 2020

LCCC Still Closed - But Come Join Us On-Line!

Monday Night is Chess Night!
The Club is closed due to the quarantine effort. But you can still join us for chess action on line!

We at LCCC have some innovative members. They have set up a Monday Night Tournament on a site called Li Chess!

All you need to do is make an account on Li Chess. It is completely free!

Then head to the LCCC page on Li Chess:

and join us by clicking on the "Join Team" button.

Then in the center of the LCCC page you will see a listing of our previous and future tournaments. The next one will be at the top.

Sign up or sign up Monday night before 6pm and get ready for a couple of hours of chess action!
The tournament runs from 6pm to 8:30pm
Time control is 15minutes with a 5 second increment.
During the tournament, you will be paired with the next available player.
You can be there at the start, you can come late and you can leave whenever you wish with no penalty.
You can also take a break and watch other games
There is also a chat feature so feel free to ask questions if you have any problems, or if you just want to say hello!
After the tournament has finished at 8:30, the site will announce the winner, 2nd and 3rd.
But this is just really for fun and to keep the Club going.

See you Monday Night!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

LCCC Shut Down Until at Least April - and an Interesting Game

If they can do it, you can!
LCCC is at the mercy of the State of Michigan, the State of Michigan Board of Education, and the Hartland School System. 
The Hartland Senior Center graciously allow us to use their facility on Monday evening. But as the school system goes, so goes the Hartland Senior Center. School is closed, so the Senior Center is closed, so we are closed.
When we get the green light to re-open, this site will let you know.

But feel free to play chess on line. Chess .com and Lichess .com are great sites on which to play. Both have a Livingston County Chess Club to join on their sites. Register and sign up for our chess club. Then you can challenge club members to games!

Now for a game I found on the internet. In an actual tournament game, a 3 year old beat a 6 year old! This game you can actually search on You Tube and see it for yourself. Very cute video. But here is the game with my commentary.

1.   e4          e5
2.   Qh5?
Which is a terrible move as Black can develop with tempo (an extra move) with 2. …..Nf6 attacking the queen and making her move again. White is up the equivalent of 6 pawns already (+6).

2.   .......            g6??
3.   Qxe5+        Be7
4.   Qxh8          d6??
Black just leaves the knight there to die. (+9)

5.   Qxg8          Kd7
6.   Qg7            Kc6?
Letting another pawn fall.  (+10)

7.   Qxf7           Bd7?
Black walks into a mate in three: 8. Qc4+, Kb6  9. Qb4+, Kc6 10. Qb5 mate. But these are very young beginning chess players. Missing this is understandable. But moving your queen for 9 straight moves is not understandable or acceptable. White has a huge material and positional advantage. He needs to bring those extra resourses into the battle AND get his king out of the center of the board. Ohterwise, his king may end up as exposed as Black's king is right now.

8.   Qf4?            h6  
9.   Qxh6          Na6
10. Qxg6          Bh4?  (+12.5)
11.  g3              Be7
12.  Qh6?         Bg5    (+10)
13.  Qh7           d5
14.  exd5+        Kxd5?  (+15.5)
Black is completely lost with his king in the center of the board. White just needs to bring some of his vast army advantage into the fight. Beginning chess players often fall in love with their queen and can't stop moving her every or nearly every move! 15. Nc3 and Black has no hope at all.
15.  Qd3+         Kc6    (+12)
16.  Qf3+          Kb6
17.   h4             Be7
18.   Qb3+        Nb4?
19.   c3             a5
20.   cxb4         axb4
21.   Qe3+        Bc5
22.   Qf3?         Bc6
White has no plan at all. (+9.5)

23.   a3??          Qe8+ ??
24.   Be2           Bxf3
25.   Nxf3         Qe7
Black has something up his 3 year old sleeve, which is fine because the best move for Black 25. ….Bd6 doesn't save anything after 26. d4. (+10)

26.   axb4?          Re8?
(+3.5) after White's move and then (+14.5) after Black's move. But a trap is set.

27.   bxc5+        Kxc5
28.   Ra5+         Kb6
29.   Ra4???      Qxe2++
And one of the greatest come from behind victories ever videoed is complete!

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Chess Club Kid's Night March 9, 2020 - and Chess Ethics

This coming Monday is Kid's Night at the chess Club. It is the night once a month where we focus on the younger chess players.
Bring your aspiring Grandmaster to the club for friendly games with players more his age, or against more seasoned opponents. Or maybe your child wants a chess lesson. Either way, the club is here for you every Monday night. But especially on Kid's Night.

Ethics Questions

Let’s check your chess ethics shall we?

Problem I – You are a spectator at the last round of a weekend Swiss tournament. The pairings go up and you see Player A – a friend of yours – is paired with Player B. You suggest what opening he should play. Is there anything wrong with that?

A no-brainer right? Not a problem. Your friend can take your advice or ignore it. Ok, let’s tweak it a bit.

Problem II – You are not a spectator but playing in the tournament. If Player B loses, you get a prize. You don’t know Player A very well.

Should you give him opening advice if he asks you?

Should you offer the advice if he doesn’t?

It’s getting a little troublesome now.

Problem III – It’s very late in the last round of a major tournament. The A vs B game is adjourned by the tournament director and the two players will resume playing in the morning. You want that prize so you go uninvited to Player A’s hotel room and offer to study the position with him.

Is that ethical?

This situation actually happened in the 1962 Candidate’s Tournament to determine who would play Mikhail Botvinnik for the World Championship. Paul Keres was tied with Tigran Petrosian in 1st place with one round to go. Petrosian drew his game and Keres would pass him with a victory over Pal Benko. The Benko-Keres game was adjourned until the next day.

That evening Petrosian and his friend GM Yefim Geller went up to Benko’s hotel room and offered to help analyze the position. Benko was disgusted and told them to leave.

The game resumed in the morning, Keres lost, Petrosian was crowned the Candidate and he went on to defeat Botvinnik for the title.

Like most people, your humble scribe was offended by Petrosian and Geller’s actions, and was very proud of my fellow American Pal Benko. The thinking is no third party should provide help. However, at the world class level, when games were adjourned, it was considered normal.

Let’s put a human face on it like Problem II. What if Keres best friend GM Max Euwe had gone to Keres room to help him?

So let’s ask an expert in Ethics studies, who is also an international chess player – IM Dr. Stuart Rachels.

The verdict is that despite their dubious motives, Petrosian and Geller did nothing wrong. As Dr. Rachels puts it, saying that Petrosian and Geller acted for bad reasons is not exactly to say that what they did was wrong – because the same thing, if done for different reasons, could have been just fine.

Life is confusing sometimes.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

LCCC's past president Matt Trujillo in tournament action
Great crowds and chess action at the Club. Winter is hard - chess is fun!

Need something to do on those cold Monday nights? A friendly game of chess or two with fun people is a great way to spend an evening.

Our 2020 Club Championship is in full swing and round 3 starts this week. Here are the pairings for Round 3:

Mike N

Peter B

Paul M

Vince V

Ken T

Sam T

Heymo V

Petro K

Charlie S

Josef M

Stop by the Club to watch some tournament chess action, or play some casual chess. There is always always someone there who is not in the tournament looking for a casual game.

Now for an interesting game:
White to move!

This is a Ladder Tournament game played at the Club.
To give you a little more information, it is not a normal chess game, but a Chess 960 or Fischer Random game.

This means that the pieces on the back row are not in the normal chess positions at the start. Instead, they are randomly placed in the back row. It takes opening preparation completely out of the game.

This game has been going on for 27 moves. It has been a positional battle with both sides trading a slight positional lead. Right now Black actually holds a (-.3) lead, according to the computer Grandmaster Igor3000.

That lead is basically the same lead White has at the beginning of a chess game with the first move. So thru all of the 27 moves, Black has been able to wrestle only a tempo (move) away from White. This was a timed game and both players still have over 30 minutes on their clocks. Time is not a factor …….yet.

We don't know how Black feels about his game at this point. But we do for White as your scribe played over the game with him. White is very worried about Black's attacking chances against his king with both of Black's rooks aiming at him. He is concerned about the lack of active squares for his knights. And he is concerned about the forward position of Black's c-pawn. It is not a factor yet, but if the intense defensive struggle starts on the king-side, White is worried Black will have an endgame advantage there.

Did White calculate all the variations scenarios and come up with the correct answer that he was indeed in trouble? No - he just 'felt' he would be fighting for a draw the rest of the way.
White told this writer that he usually likes to play these types of positions for draws, while waiting for his opponent to over-extend or make a mistake. But he says with this particular opponent, he did not feel confident he could 'defend' and hold, or that his opponent would make any kind of meaningful mistake.

White knew what his problems were. So he turned his attention to problems Black has: His rooks cannot cover the queenside. White is out-manning Black on the queen-side, and can get his pieces over there faster than Black can. Black has committed to a king-side attack.

But how does White open up the queen-side?
28. Ndxc4          dxc4
29. Nxc4            Be7?!
Note that Igor3000 did not give White's knight sacrifice a ! (good move) because 28. Bxg5 was best with perfect defense. However, we already know that White did not think he would play perfect defense. And this surprise aggression by White seemed to have panicked Black slightly.
There is psychology in chess at time and White took 12 minutes of his 30 remaining to make move 28. Black must have felt White found something he did not see yet. Black needed 29. …….Bxf4 to open the lane for his rook. The move played was too passive, as a deeper study by Black might have revealed that White still had nothing. This defensive move allowed White to regain the tempo lead in position (+.2).

30. Nd6+           Bxd6
31. exd6             Nd5
32. Be5              Rh7
33. Bf3               Kc8??
With White getting a little short of time, Black tried to just hold on and let White get in severe time trouble. But in making what looks like a logical move quickly, he gives White a chance to move is pawns forward. 33. …...b5  34. axb5   axb5 was required. White is way ahead now (+5)

34. c4            Nc3
35. Rb3         Ne4
36. Bxe4       fxe4
37. c5            bxc5??
This allows a pretty finish.

38. bxc5        Be8
39. Rb8+       Kxb8
40. d7+          Ka7
41. dxe8(Q)   Rb7
42. c6             Black resigns
The 'sac' was unsound, but still worked.