Friday, December 3, 2010

25th Tim Just's Winter Open - January 8-9 in Oak Brook

Details on ICA website!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A trap in the King's Indian

In the King's Indian Defense, after 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2, usual is 6...e5 7.0-0, and now Black's most popular moves are 7...Nc6, 7...Nbd7, and even 7...Na6. Sometimes Black futzes around and first plays 6...Nbd7 7.0-0, and now a waiting move like 7...Re8?! or 7...c6?!, thinking that Black need not rush to play ...e5. This is a bad idea, since 8.e5! followed by the pawn sacrifice e6! wrecks Black's pawn structure. In the game below, Black made things worse (as he/she usually does) with 8...dex5 9.dxe5 Ng4 (better is 9...Ne8!, allowing the pawn sac 10.e6! fxe6 11.Ng5) 10.e6! fxe6? (10...Nde5! is better) 11.Ng5! (diagram). I have reached this (or a similar position with Black's pawn back on c6 and ...Re8 having been played) dozens of times in Internet games. Black is already lost in light of White's threats of 12.Bxg4 (winning a piece) and 12.Nxe6 (winning the exchange). Like most of my opponents, Black responded with the "traditional" 11...Nde5?, losing a piece, and lost quickly.

Reminder: Illinois Class Championship in Skokie this Saturday!

Details here!

Greater Chicago Scholastic Championships, Feb. 5-6, 2011

,Sponsored by the Kasparov Chess Foundation and Renaissance Knights.  Details on the ICA Tournament Calendar!

Peter Svidler interview

From Crestbook, via Chess in Translation.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

How to beat Nigel Short in a simultaneous

Tim Nesham explains.

(In his excitement, Tim gets the date wrong: the game was played two days ago, on November 29, 2010.)

"Erik and Andrew Karklins: 143 years of chess, and counting...."

 Photo: Betsy Dynako

Ken Marshall's wonderful article is in this month's Chess Life!

This article is currently available to USCF members only: it will be available on the ICA website next month.

Monday, November 29, 2010

It's not *billed* as a Hannukah tournament...

On Sunday, December 5th, Chess Scholars is holding a K-8 tournament at the Solomon Schechter Day School in Skokie. 

Details on the JUF website!

"A big feast of chess over Turkey Day weekend"

 A report on the amateur closed round robins at the North Shore Chess Center from

a cool and free iPhone app

Any chess player (absolute beginner to master) with an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch should enjoy Chess Problems, a free application by PsyGames.

The interface is simple and intuitive.  One can choose from directmates (e.g., "mate in two moves"),  helpmates, and selfmates, sorted by level of difficulty (pawn to queen)

I knew the answer to the following one right away because my grandmother owned a mid-nineteenth century edition of Hoyle.  The chess section gave this problem (or one like it!), accompanied by a version of the legend of Princess Dilaram.

Bonus Socius manuscript, circa 1266 (!)
White to play and mate in two moves

Helpmates are fun!  In a helpmate in two moves, Black moves first, and the two sides work together to allow White to checkmate Black on White's second move.

Lind 1941
Helpmate in two moves
(remember that Black moves first in a helpmate!)

Selfmates are fun, too!

 Widlet, 1982
Selfmate in two moves
(White to play and force Black to checkmate White on Black's second move: unlike the helpmate, the two sides are not cooperating)

Some of the positions are easy enough for absolute beginners to solve.  But the simple king and queen vs. king position below took me 1:18 to solve.  I guarantee that anyone who knows the rules of chess and has a little patience should be able to solve it.  Some of you will see the solution at sight, others might need five minute to explore all the possibilities.

Courtenay, 1868
White to play and mate in two moves

And I sat staring for almost 17  minutes at this famous Mansfield two-mover even though I knew I'd seen it before.  As soon as one sees the key move, one slaps one's head and says, "Of course!"  But the trick is to find the key move...

I think that chess problems are of more than marginal benefit to practical players: they force us to understand the powers of the pieces, they push us to think outside the box, and they train us in brute-force calculation in bizarre positions.

Mansfield 1933
White to play and mate in two moves

I have one trivial complaint about this app.  When you find the key move, only one defense is offered, no matter how many times you play through the solution.  (Part of the beauty of these problems is that various defenses to the key move lead to various mates.)  But that's a quibble.

Strongly recommended!

North Shore Chess Center - Amateur Closed events

Jon Burgess reports on the ICA website!

Congratulations to Matt Pullin (the runaway winner of Group A), and to Aakaash Meduri, Sam Schmakel, and James Wei, the joint winners of Group B.

Final results from St. Louis

Chicagoans Dmitry Gurevich and Yury Shulman tied for first with fellow American grandmasters Alexander Onischuk and Gregory Kaidanov.  Young John Veech of Wisconsin tied with GMs Nigel Short and Ray Robson for fifth place.

Crosstable here!