Friday, July 16, 2010

Genesis 35:18

Today's Bible verse:
Rachel was about to die, but with her last breath she named the baby Ben-oni (which means "son of my sorrow"). The baby's father, however, called him Benjamin (which means "son of my right hand").
Arguably, the Modern Benoni is the opening with the most ominous name.  Adarsh was the bringer of sorrow in an earlier round, but now....

Shipov annotates Dortmund live

GM Sergei Shipov

Wonderful stuff at Chess in Translation.

The live game (Friday, it's Ponomariov-Kramnik: not a permalink) is here.

Yesterday's Kramnik-Le Quang Liem is here.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A trap in the Slav and QGA

In the post below, Bill remarked that Jayakumar-Shetty was an uneventful draw. Indeed, but there was one moment of potential drama that Adarsh wisely avoided. Had he played 10.Rd1?? instead of his 10.Re1! he would have fallen into a trap that has claimed many victims, including former Women's World Champion Maia Chiburdanidze. In addition to the Slav Defense (as in Adarsh's and Chiburdanidze's games), it also often arises from the Queen's Gambit Accepted, e.g. 1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Qa4+ c6 5.Qxc4 Bf5 etc. After 10.Rd1?? Bc2!, Black must give up the exchange, since 11.Rd2?? Nb6 wins the queen.

U.S. Cadet Championship

NM Adarsh Jayakumar (whose family is returning to Chicagoland in a couple weeks) is playing in the 2010 U.S. Cadet Championship in Crossville, Tennessee.  He's -1 after two rounds.

In Round 1, Adarsh got a nice position on the Black side of a Modern Benoni, but then got a little too creative.  The punishment was thematic.




Round 2 was an uneventful draw:

There are no easy opponents in these junior invitational events!

The Honorable George Neves Leighton

George Leighton (more on Wikipedia) graduated from Howard University in 1940, was a Captain in the U.S. Army during World War II, graduated from Harvard Law in 1946, and had a incredibly impressive legal career culminating in his appointment to the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, in 1976.   He served on the Federal bench until 1987. (Oh, and he beat me in the 1991 National Open.)

In this 1982 game, Judge Leighton was 69 years old and paired against a recent Soviet émigré who had become Chicago's top-ranked player, Leonid Kaushansky.  (Leo would later share the 1994 U.S. Open title with Albert Chow and Dmitry Gurevich, among others.)  One might expect a blowout.  Indeed, the game was rather one-sided:


At his peak, Judge Leighton was a strong expert.  Still more on his chess career at The Chess Drum.

October 22 will be Judge Leighton's 98th birthday!

The Kieninger Trap

The Kieninger Trap, seen below, is probably the most commonly played trap in the Budapest Gambit (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5). It is named for Georg Kieninger, who first sprang it in 1925 in an offhand game against Godai in Vienna. (Shouldn't Kieninger have been playing the Vienna Game instead?) Some Budapest detractors say that this trap (which appears 14 times in ChessBase's Big database), is the only reason to play the Budapest. Not true! There's also 3.d5 Bc5 4.Bg5? Ne4! 5.Bxd8?? Bxf2# Arnold-Hanauer, U.S. Open 1936. In all seriousness, the Budapest is not that bad. IM Tim Taylor does a good job demonstrating its virtues in his 2009 book on the opening.

An important trap in the Caro-Kann

The Caro-Kann (1.e4 c6) is an annoying opening to play against; White gets only a small edge, if that. The trap below is essential to know if you play either side of the Caro-Kann. It can win you a lot of points as White. Those who play the 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 line will often blithely play 4...Bf5 against the Two Knights Variation (2.Nc3 d5 3.Nf3) as well, erroneously thinking that there is no significant difference between the two lines.

Black should avoid this trap by playing ...Bg4 on move 3, 4, or even 5, or by playing 4...Nd7 or 4...Nf6, with a likely transposition to standard variations. On move 7, 7...Qd6! (Mayka-NN, c. 1975) is the best try. After 7...Bh7?, Lasker's 8.Qh5! forced 8...g6, leaving Black's bishop looking horrible on h7. His 9.Bc4 again threatened mate, making 9...gxh5?? impossible. Note that 9...Qxd2+ 10.Bxd2 gxh5 would avoid mate, but lose material to 11.Nxf7 or 11.Bxf7+. After 10.Qe2, Black should have played 10...Qe7! guarding f7, when Black has an ugly position but can still play on. 10...Be7 may also be possible. After 10...Bg7?? 11.Nxf7!, Black resigned in light of 11...Kxf7 12.Qxe6+ Kf8 13.Qf7#. Note that 10...Nf6?? (Alekhine-Bruce, Plymouth 1938) and 10...Nd7?? (McKenna-Stockinger, 1994) are met the same way.

Twenty-six years later, Lasker improved on his own play with 9.Qf3! (winning at least a pawn by force) Nf6 (9...Qd5?? 10.Qxd5 cxd5 11.Bb5+ Nc6 12.Nxc6 a6 13.Ba4 1-0 Tartakower-Ellinger, Horsington 1944) 10.Qb3! Qd5 11.Qxb7! Qxe5+ 12.Bxe2 Qd6 (White threatened Qc8#) 13.Qxa8 Qc7 14.a4! Bg7 15.Ra3 0-0 16.Rb3 and White won in Lasker-Müller, Zurich 1934.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Too much of a good thing?

Congratulations to Eric Rosen for a very solid win against a phenomenally strong opponent.

Recall that Eric's opponent, Conrad Holt, had a phenomenal result in the World Open, including a win against GM Evgeny Najer.  Perhaps Conrad is "chessed out"? 

In a field this strong, however, it's inevitable that a couple strong players will have mediocre results.

Eric's loss yesterday was also interesting...hope to get to that later.

Last day for advance entry in Chicago Class

Got this in the mail from the Continental Chess Association this a.m., just getting around to posting it.  (I occasionally do real work!)  You have a few hours left to save $$...
3rd annual CHICAGO CLASS
July 16-18 or 17-18 at Doubletree Oak Brook
$20,000 GUARANTEED PRIZE FUND

In 9 sections, no residence requirements.  Master, Expert, Class A, Class B, Class C, Class D and Class E are 5 rounds, 40/2, SD/1, with two-day option of game/75 in the first two rounds.  Under 1000 and Under 700 are 6 rounds, game/75, two days only, July 17-18.  Players may play up one section only.

The Doubletree is believed to be sold out.  Nearby hotels are available- for details see the Chicago Class page of the CCA website.

LAST DAY FOR ADVANCE ENTRY IS MONDAY, JULY 12

Details on ICA website!

Enter here!

Self-mate in the Sicilian

Here is an amusing trap - if that is not too grandiose a word - in the Sicilian. According to my sources, Slavoljub Marjanovic played White. However, since GM Marjanovic wasn't born until 1955, nine years after this game, he can't be blamed for it.

The Rubinstein Trap

The Rubinstein Trap is a frequently seen trap in the Queen's Gambit Declined. It occurs in various different settings, and is characterized by White's Nxd5!, a pseudo-sacrifice of the knight that wins at least a pawn, since if Black plays ...cxd5, Bc7 will trap Black's queen. The trap is so named because the great Akiba Rubinstein, arguably the strongest player who never got a shot at the world championship, managed to fall into it twice - against Euwe at Bad Kissingen 1928 and against Alekhine at San Remo 1930. According to Edward Winter, the following game, predating Rubinstein's misadventures with the trap by over 20 years, is the earliest known example:

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Chicago original

J.R. Houghteling was a strong Chicago player around the turn of the 20th century. Here is his most famous game. White's play is feeble, but Houghteling concludes the game with a beautiful checkmate. Irving Chernev, in his classic The Thousand Best Short Games of Chess, noted that Bigelow called the final position "a rainbow of Bishops and Knights." Francis Wellmuth in The Golden Treasury of Chess wrote that it was "[o]ne of the most extraordinary mates ever given in actual play."

The wonderful chess writer and novelist Tim Krabbé once questioned the game's veracity (scroll down to No. 355), but later acknowledged, "A communication by Frederick Rhine makes it clear that speculations of [Dodge-Houghteling] being a hoax, are unjustified." In the same post, he gave several later examples of similar mates.

The one that got away....

Rosen-Robson, US Junior Invoitational 2010
After 42...Rb2
White to play and win


Rosen holds Robson to draw!

In the first round of the 2010 U.S. Junior Invitational Championship, NM Eric Rosen of Illinois, the lowest-rated player, held the highest-rated player, GM Ray Robson - rated 404 points higher! - to a draw. Or maybe that should be "Robson held Rosen to a draw"? Robson blundered on move 37, losing a whole rook to a knight fork, and was fortunate that he was able to scrounge a draw with his passed a-pawn. In either case, way to go, Eric!

Board Two featured a full-point upset, as the second-highest-rated player, IM Sam Shankland, lost to NM Parker Zhao. Maybe announcing your retirement isn't the best way to psych yourself up for a big tournament.

In the U.S. Women's Championship, which also began Saturday, last year's champion, IM Anna Zatonskih, offered a draw to WGM Katerina Rohonyan when both were down to about a minute on the clock, but managed to win after Rohonyan declined the draw. Zatonskih said, "It was a game of blunders. I won in time pressure."

Another favorite, IM Irina Krush, won as Black against WIM (and former USCF President) Beatriz Marinello. The opening, a Queen's Indian, was almost symmetrical. An error by Marinello allowed Krush to win the bishop pair, whereupon she ground down Marinello in a two bishops versus bishop and knight ending. All five games in the first round of the Women's Championship finished decisively - as did the last 20 games in last year's championship! More information and games from the tournaments are available on the USCF website.

Here is Eric's game: