Saturday, January 5, 2013

Black to play and win

The discerning reader will ask why I didn't play 5...h6! Alas, I had premoved 5...Bxc5. My opponent obligingly allowed me to trap his knight with ...h6 two moves later. The rest of the game was a rout.

"Why are you trying to play tactically against Giles?"

That's the question Angelo Sandrin asked me circa 1985, the point being that the chessboard equivalent of a street brawl was tailor-made for Giles's hypertactical style.  Even so, he was never afraid to take big risks in order to win, so our games were incredibly fun!

Sometimes I gave Morris a scare; sometimes he rolled me off the board.  The following game, the first time we played, was slightly atypical.  Normally, he would kill me tactically; here, he neutralized my showy demonstration, then ground me down positionally from a slightly superior ending.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Morris Giles tactics quiz at The Chess Drum

FM Morris Giles - FM Eugene Martinovsky
White to Move
We're honoring the memory of the late Morris Giles.

Daaim Shabazz of The Chess Drum assembled a great tactics quiz based on Giles's victories against great Chicago players of the 1980s.  Check it out!

An unobvious fork

The teenaged Giles sets a trap for one of Chicago's (and America's) top players, and Andrew Karklins takes the bait:

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Morris Giles, 1953-2012

Story on The Chess Drum.  I am just stunned.  FM Morris Giles was a genius and a gentleman: I will miss him.

Much more to follow. For now, here's Giles's masterpiece (and arguably the most brilliant game ever played by a Chicagoan): he beats six-time U.S. Champion Walter Browne on Browne's home turf, the Najdorf Sicilian, with a positional piece sacrifice for an enduring light-square attack, then a queen sacrifice leading to a smothered bishop mate.

Giles,Morris (2451) - Browne,Walter (2617) [B98] 
U.S. Open, Boston, 1988
[GM Robert Byrne]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 

The most aggressive attack against the Najdorf Sicilian is 6 Bg5, which inhibits the original intention of this sharp, counterattacking defense - 6...e5? - which would yield White a hammerlock on the center after 7 Nf5. Nevertheless, the criterion of 6 Bg5 is whether it leads to more victories than the almost-as-ambitious 6 f4 or 6 Bc4 or the conservative 6 Be2 or 6 Be3 or 6 a4. The verdict is not yet in.

6...e6 7.f4 Be7 8.Qf3 Nbd7

Developing with 8 . . . Nbd7?! has been considered so bad that the leading texts on the Najdorf refuse to analyze it. The unanimous opinion is that Black must prevent the potent 9 Bc4 by 8...Qc7 Yet Browne had played it at least twice before, against the grandmaster Nick DeFirmian in last year's [i.e., 1987's] United States invitational championship and also against the international master Patrick Wolff in Philadelphia last year. It is remarkable that on both occasions, his opponents chose the forgiving 9 O-O-O, allowing him to reach regular lines of play with 9 . . . Qc7.


Giles was not so generous, but played 9 Bc4 with the intention of breaking up the black formation.


9...Qc7 10.Bxe6 fxe6 11.Nxe6 followed by 12 Ng7 and 13 Nf5. On 9 . . . h6, Giles, of course, could not make any immediate sacrifice.

10.Bxf6 Bxf6 

Browne could not recapture with 10...Nxf6 11.f5 e5 12.Nde2 which gives White a hammerlock on the d5 square.

11.0–0–0 Qb6 

White to play
12.Nxe6!? fxe6 13.Bxe6

It is more than likely that Browne had prepared and relied upon 10 . . . Bf6 11 O-O-O Qb6 to get him through the opening without incident. But he must have minimized Giles's sacrifice with 12 Ne6!? fe 13 Be6, opening the black king position and achieving a powerful grip on the light squares.


 Browne could not play 13...Ne5, as 14.Qh3 Nd7 15.e5 Be7 16.Nd5 is overwhelming.

14 Bb3 Be6

What is remarkable is that even after Browne had plugged the worst gaps in his position with 13...Nf8 and 14...Be6, Giles was still coming.

15.e5! dxe5 16.fxe5 Bg5+ 17.Kb1 Rd8 18.h4 Be7 


A devastating shot, one point being that 19 . . . Bd7? would be smashed by 20 Rhf1 Qg6 21 h5!

19...Nd7 20.Nd5 Qa5

It was futile to play 20...Bxd5 21.Qxd5 Qc7 because 22.e6 b5 leads to mate after 23.Qh5+.

21.Rhf1 Rf8 22.Qh5+ Rf7 23.Bb3 g6 24.Qxg6 Nf8 

Now Giles abruptly ended the struggle:

White to play
25.Nc7+! Qxc7 26.Qxf7+

 In the face of 26 . . . Bf7 27 Bf7 mate, Browne gave up.


Stolen from Facebook and Hemingway

A message from Mike Cardinale, Illinois Chess Association Metro Vice President:

A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

Ever been to the Dice Dojo in Edgewater? It's the competitive and social headquarters for offline gaming in Chicago. Whether you want to play wargames, miniatures, card games, role-playing games or any other kind of tabletop game, the Dojo provides a clean, welcoming and relatively sweet-smelling environment. Why shouldn't chess players enjoy the same?

Unlike the majority of gamers at the Dice Dojo, you play a game with no dice. There's no good luck to save you and no bad luck to blame; it's all on you. But you're not alone: There are 550 USCF members living in Chicago, with a total of 2,820 in the greater metropolitan area. More impressive, over 26,000 Facebook users in Chicago list chess as an interest. This is a population in need of exactly what the Chicago Chess Center intends to provide: a comfortable gathering place for players of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. Why should Warhammer players have all the goodies?

By donating now to the Chicago Chess Center, you’ll support the creation of a new home for chess in Chicago. But it's not just a recreational mission. The Chicago Chess Center will promote excellence through classes, tournaments and open play to residents of all ages. For scholastic players, chess has a measurable impact on many essential skills, including analytical reasoning, pattern recognition and attention span. Those gains can’t be matched by Magic: The Gathering and HeroClix. Older players also benefit from the cognitive exercise that chess provides. You can contribute to a brain-healthy populace!

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity, the Chicago Chess Center will serve Chicago, providing a safe haven for play, instruction and fun, and partnering with other civic institutions to make our community a better and brighter place for all. Just as the Dice Dojo is active in its community, participating in "positive loitering," hosting events for local schools and churches, and donating items for fundraisers, the Chicago Chess Center will similarly fulfill its mission through community engagement and service.

The center has a plan for financial viability and top-notch professionals on its board. But opening the doors is not cheap. The seed money that this campaign will provide is essential to ensure that those doors stay open and that the center thrives.

So I ponied up. Why don’t you? Join me in supporting the Chicago Chess Center, and we may see its doors open as soon as this May.

Thank you for considering my plea,

Mike Cardinale 
Metro Vice President, Illinois Chess Association
Founders' Court, Chicago Chess Center
1981 East Coast Champion, Cosmic Encounter

 P.S. Just 16 days remain in this drive to open the doors. Give now!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

TJWO in Oak Brook this weekend!

The $64 preregistration fee for Tim Just's Winter Open/Reserve XXIX is good until Friday afternoon: register online here for the kickoff event of the 2013 Illinois Tour!

Saturday's scholastic tournament has a $25 preregistration fee: register online here and save a few clams.

See you in Oak Brook!

More Morra Mayhem

Marc Esserman has demonstrated both in his book Mayhem in the Morra! and in tournament practice that piece sacrifices on d5 can be very strong in the Smith-Morra Gambit (1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3). In both Esserman-Van Wely, 2011 and Esserman-Sarkar, 2008 he successfully sacrificed a knight on d5, annihilating a GM and an IM in 26 and 16 moves, respectively. In the following game I tried to "be like Marc," but maybe my 10.Nd5!? was premature. The silicon monster thinks that Black is better if he declines the knight with 10...Na5! My opponent made the mistake of accepting it instead and was swiftly dispatched.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Carl Dolson elected new President of the Illinois Chess Association

Carl's term begins tomorrow: even though he's from Peoria (nobody's perfect), we're very fortunate to have him!  You can find Tom Sprandel's election report here.

Don't forget to renew your ICA membership for 2013!

Chicago or Not Chicago?

"Chicago" was represented by Grandmasters Akobian, Ehlvest, Hungaski (pictured above: his GM title is pending), and Finegold at the World Cities Championships in the United Arab Emirates. "Hmm, these players are not from Chicago," I said to myself as I watched Jay Cutler, Charles Tillman, and company play football yesterday. And then it occurred to me....

Pretty darn cool work by Sevan Muradian in either case!

A trap in the Alapin Sicilian

Here's a nice endgame grind by GM Lubomir Ftacnik. He finally captures White's isolated d-pawn on move 32, and White resigns 22 moves later. However, White had a huge improvement on move 8. Do you see it? If not, please consult Vasiukov-Razuvaev, Polanica Zdroj 1972.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

University of Illinois ties for first in Pan-Am Intercollegiate

Results are in from this weekend's Pan-Am, hosted by Princeton University.  The University of Illinois finished in a five-way tie for first place with four teams that offer full chess scholarships.  Illinois drew Cornell and the University of Chicago, and won its other four matches. Crosstable is here.Congratulations to the Illini!

 The team includes three names long familiar to Chicago chess players, Eric Rosen, Aakaash Meduri, and Michael Auger. The Illini's fourth board, Xin Luo, scored a spectacular 6-0.

Look for story on Chess Life Online shortly. In the meantime, here's a game from U of I's last-round win over Columbia University, which proves once again that queen endings are too hard for mere human beings:

Chicago Chess Center: Our first milepost

The end of 2012, our first milepost, is nearly upon us. Thanks to supporters like you, we've raised nearly $4,000 so far, but we've still got a long way to go if we're going to be able to secure a site, open our doors, and begin holding classes and tournaments by our target date of May 1, 2013. The more donors like you have given by the end of the year, the better other supporters of Chicago chess will feel about giving.

Please make your tax-deductible donation now for 2012 -- or send us an e-mail and pledge the amount you'll give after the new year in 2013.

When you imagine yourself playing chess in an attractive and comfortable gathering place, surrounded by players of all ages and backgrounds, knowing that you're part of a community and a larger scene, does it ever occur to you how many people it takes to create a scene like that and keep it going? Experience shows that just 1 out of 10 users of a community-built place take an active role in it, and just 1 out of 10 active members are "stars" who make positive contributions to its development. As someone who's shown interest in the success of our mission, we'd like to ask you to be one of our "stars" now. You can do it because you know you're supporting the creation of a new civic and educational institution in Chicago.

This summer, when you're taking a class or playing in a tournament at the Chicago Chess Center, you'll look back on your donation and feel proud that you helped turn a vision into a reality. Donate now to help us reach our $30,000 goal.

A novelty!

Shockingly, I encountered an Internet opponent tonight who doesn't read Chicago Chess Blog! As such, he had failed to read my post from last night demonstrating that 3...f6 and 4...g5 is not an effective response to the King's Gambit. But I wasn't content with 7.Qf7+ and mate in two more moves (7...Kd6 8.Qd5+ Ke7 9.Qe5#) as in last night's partie, and uncorked the novelty (at least for me) 7.Qxg5+! I learned this trick from Wall-Greenwalt, Dayton 1983. If Black responds with 7...Kd6, he gets mated the same way - just without his g-pawn - by 8.Qd5+ Ke7 9.Qe5#. Or he can play 7...Ke8, and get mated by 8.Qh5+ Ke7 9.Qe5#, as Greenwalt did. But NN played a novelty himself with 7...Nf6, allowing me to mate a move faster with 8.Qe5#!