Saturday, October 9, 2010

Yet another trap in the Englund Gambit

The Englund Gambit (1.d4 e5?) is one of the weakest responses to 1.d4. It is nonetheless very trappy and requires exact play from White. One of White's strongest responses is 2.dxe5 Nc6 3.Nf3 Qe7 4.Qd5! Black is likely, sooner or later, to have to sac a pawn with ...f6, for probably inadequate compensation. See Stefan Bücker's article Visiting Planet Englund for more details. Much weaker, however, is the immediate 3.Qd5, which tends to lead to disaster after 3...f6! Here Black, who has not had to misplace the queen with ...Qe7, gets strong compensation. Below is an example. After 7...Nd4, White was already defenseless against the threats to his queen and c2, e.g. 8.Qd3 Bf5; 8.Qa4+ b5; or 8.Qe3+ Ne4. White's choice, 8.Qc3, allowed a simple tactical shot, winning White's queen for just one minor piece.

Magnus Carlsen: crisis of form?

Kramnik beats Carlsen in round 1 at the Bilbao Grand Slam final (Shipov's round one notes are here).  Neither of the preceding links are permalinks: they'll go stale shortly.

Anand (having obviously worked on opposite-color bishop endings after Sofia) drew Shirov fairly easily.

Here are the top six players in the world per the Live Ratings list.  The world champ Anand could easily reclaim the top spot by the end of this event.

RatingChangeGamesEvents Birth Yr
01 Carlsen
2805,1 -20,9 9 2 1990
02 Anand
2799,3 -0,7 1 1 1969
03 Aronian
2793,8 +10,8 16 2 1982
04 Topalov
2785,5 -17,5 9 1 1975
05 Kramnik
2785,2 +5,2 16 3 1975
06 Ivanchuk
2771,9 +17,9 10 1 1969

Friday, October 8, 2010

War is over, so play chess

Eating chocolate cake in a bag?

 "Play it By Trust"  
Yoko Ono, 1999

John Lennon's 70th birthday is Saturday; it's also National Chess Day.  All the more reason to check out the opening of the North Shore Chess Center.

It has been hinted to me that the following interview with Amanda Mateer of the University of Arizona would be a good one to post for the occasion!

Grand opening details....

Well, at least he got the announcement out more than twelve hours in advance!

Grand Opening of the North Shore Chess Center

After many weeks of planning, the North Shore Chess Center will celebrate our Grand Opening on Saturday October 9, 2010. This day also happens to be National Chess Day (not to mention my youngest daughters birthday!). For this special occassion we have a number of activities planned, open to everyone free of charge.

To kick things off, Mr. George Van Dusen, who is the Mayor of Skokie, will cut the ceremonial ribbon to help inaugurate the Chess Center. Mr. Van Dusen has been very supportive of chess in Skokie having also done the ceremonial pawn push at the Chicago Blaze inaugural match 2 years ago. The ribbon cutting ceremony will take place at 10:30am.

Our next chess adventure leads us to a 30 board simul by Grandmaster Mesgen Amanov, who has just returned from the 39th Chess Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia where he played 1st board for his native country of Turkmenistan. This simul is available on a first come, first seated basis. Make sure you're there for the ribbon cutting to get your spot! The simul will begin between 11:15 and 11:30am

The third activity of the day will be a G/15 + 10/sec increment quick rated chess tournament. USCF membership will be required for this. This will be a 4R-SS tournament. The tournament will begin at 3pm

The final activity of the day will be a group lesson provided by a member of the Chicago Blaze. We will review a few games from the current season of the Chicago Blaze. The group lesson will begin at 7pm

On Sunday October 12 beginning at 1pm we will host a 4R-SS Game/30 + 30/sec increment tournament. USCF membership will be required.

The address of the North Shore Chess Center is 5500 West Touhy Ave Suite A, Skokie, IL 60077. You turn on Linder Street from Touhy. The parking lot entrance is on Linder, but the Chess Center faces Touhy. We are directly across the street from Pet Smart. We are about 3 blocks west of the Holiday Inn on the same side of the street.

Grand opening of North Shore Chess Center this weekend!

Friday Night [tonight!] 10/8 @ 7pm - Casual Chess with Blitz event based on attendance

Saturday 10/9 - 10:30am Ribbon Cutting by Mayor of Skokie, Between 11-11:30am Simul by GM Mesgen Amanov, 3pm 4R-SS G/15 + 10/sec increment tournament, 7pm Group Lecture on Chicago Blaze games

Sunday 10/10 @ 1pm - Casual Chess with 4R-SS G/30 + 30/sec increment event based on attendance

All events are free this weekend!

Check for details at the North Shore Chess Center's site.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Illinois All Grade Championship: November 13 at Whitney Young HS

Details on the ICA Tournament Calendar!

Nighttime Chess on Michigan Avenue

Also from Mark Weeks's blog

Here's a beautiful photo of a scene many of you will recognize.  The proprietor will soon be packing up for the season: look in front of the Art Institute (or south of the Art Institute on the east side of Michigan, as in the photo).

Cool collectible (preceded by mild whining)

1.  My wife and son hate The Dave Matthews Band; I'm more indifferent.

2.  Said wife and I were waiting at a Thai restaurant for said son on September 17, 2010 (our last dinner together before he left town).  He was delayed because he & his guitar case couldn't get on a Red Line train packed with obnoxious fans going to see the concert at Wrigley.

Now that I've vented: some blog reader might enjoy tracking down one of these posters as a collector's item.

Mark Weeks's blog (where I saw this item) has some interesting posts on chess collectibles.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

West Town: Chess Club for Kids

From the Chicago Public Library website:

Chess Club for Kids

Date: Thu. October 07, 2010
Time: 5:30 pm - 6:30 pm
West Town
1625 W. Chicago Avenue
About this event:
Whether you want to improve your game or simply learn how to play, join us for this weekly after-school program led by volunteer Mark Hirsch.  No registration required.

St. Louis 2½ - Chicago 1½

The sleep-deprived Hikaru Nakamura led St. Louis to victory, as the other matchups were drawn.

Board 2: GM Mesgen Amanov (Chi) - GM Ben Finegold (StL) ½-½
Board 3: IM Michael Brooks (StL) - IM Florin Felecan (Chi) ½-½
Board 4: WIM Cindy Tsai (Chi) - Spencer Finegold (StL) ½-½

More coverage to come...but not tonight!

The cheapo as art form

In US English, "cheapo" is a mildly derogatory term for a cheapskate.  In chess circles, however, it means something different: a tactical trap that both players should be able to see through.

For example, "I was winning, but I fell into a cheapo." Setting a cheapo is not at all cheap: a strong player may set dozens of "simple" tactical traps during the game: miss one and you're dead.  We all feel silly when we fall for a cheapo, but there's nothing unsportsmanlike about setting up a cheapo.

Of course, if there's a much better move to be made, one should make the best move on the board.  But if one can set devious little traps for one's human opponent while making good moves, so much the better.

Here's an example from a game that finished just a few minutes ago.

GM Dmitry Gurevich of the Chicago Blaze had a dubious position against GM Hikaru Nakamura, and was down almost an hour on the clock to boot. But Dmitry fought back to equality. Then, with less than five minutes left on the clock against one of the world's best blitz players (and perhaps the world's best player of "bullet" chess), Dmitry fell for a cheapo....

 Nakamura (St. Louis) - Gurevich (Chicago)
October 6, 2010
1. How can White to play set a cheapo?
2. Why is the trap psychologically plausible?
3. What's Black's best reply?

P.S. Matt Pullin questioned my word choice. Is it fair to call a simple trap set by a good move (perhaps the best move on the board) a "cheapo"? Or should "cheapo" be reserved for traps set by inferior moves?

Stolen from Facebook

But hey, Aaron Sorkin suggests that Facebook was stolen....

Daniel Parmet writes:
The Chicago Blaze takes on St. Louis tonight live at 7pm! Board 1 Features GM Hikaru Nakamura vs GM Dmitry Gurevich. Board 2 has returning Olympiad making his Blaze Debut GM Mesgen Amanov against GM Ben Finegold (who has had the unfortunate pleasure of 6 out of 7 blacks this season!). Board 3 sees Kansas City IM Michael Brooks playing... against Chicago's own Flying Florin Felecan. Board 4 sees a rematch with colors reversed of WIM Cindy Tsai against Spencer Finegold (Cindy won the previous encounter as black see NM Jeremy Kane's excellent analysis of the game here:

The last match against St.Louis ended in a draw as St.Louis' 3GM lineup was held to a 2-2 score. But since then, the Chicago Blaze has caught FIRE! We are currently leading the standings for West Division and hope to remain there when the fire settles tonight! GO BLAZE!!!!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Blaze rematch against St. Louis tomorrow at 7 p.m.!

Someone associated with the Blaze (no, not a player!) was noting the probable absence of Nakamura & Shulman (both coming home from Siberia) and confidently predicting another victory.

The games begin at 7 p.m. Chicago time.

Follow the action on the Internet Chess Club (subscription required). 

Or stop by the North Shore Chess Center at 5500 West Touhy Avenue, Suite A, in Skokie.

Kavalek on Ukraine's Olympiad victory

His last two columns feature games of Efimenko and Ivanchuk.  Good stuff!

A problem for the morning

So what would you do if you were given two consecutive moves?

White makes two consecutive moves in this position
The first move cannot be a check
The second move must be checkmate

If you're stumped, be concerned: the problem is from a beginner's book!

Answer in this review.  (Permalink not available yet.)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Scholastic club at Algonquin Area Public Library

Details here!

Chess Club

Chess players in grades 2nd-8th are invited to practice their game in a friendly environment. Various skill levels are welcome to compete. If you have a chess board, please bring it along.

Contact: library, 847-458-6060

I'm sure you were all following the Turkmenistan-Zambia match

Local GM Mesgen Amanov (a dual national) was playing Board 1 for Turkmenistan, and had a solid event.  But Stanley Chumfwa (FIDE 2315) plays a wonderful game to lead Zambia (initial ranking: 121st!) to 47th place.

Ukraine wins Olympiad teams; Russia wins Women's teams

Final results:

Gold: Ukraine
Silver: Russia 1
Bronze: Israel

Team USA (ranked #9 at the outset) finished 9th, beating Cuba 2½-1½ in the final round.

Women's team results:

Gold: Russia 1
Silver: China
Bronze: Georgia

The USA women (ranked #6 before play began) finished 5th.

More results at the official site.  And here are a few wrapups around the web:
ChessBase (Check out the crucial game Svidler-Salgado, in which the young Spanish GM spoiled Russia's chances for gold.  It's also featured by GM Yermolinsky at


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