Friday, September 20, 2013

Hou Yifan regains Women's World Championship

Congratulations to Hou Yifan, who decisively regained the Women's World Championship, beating Anna Ushenina 5.5-1.5 in the match, scheduled for 10 games. In an unusual reversal of the classic "win as White, draw as Black" formula, Hou won all three of her games as Black, while drawing her first three games as White. As White in the seventh game, she routed Ushenina, giving her the 5 1/2 points necessary to secure the title. All of the games are available on the match website.

Hou Yifan's 78.6% score is the most decisive match result in Women's World Championship history since Gaprindashvili routed Bykova 9-2 (+7 =4, 81.8%) in 1961. Even Vera Menchik's two match wins, against Sonja Graf in 1934 (+3 -1, 75%) and 1937 (+9 =5 -2, 71.9%) were less lopsided. Here is the decisive game:

Thursday, September 19, 2013

King's Gambit silliness

I recently got GM John Shaw's amazing new 680-page tome The King's Gambit. It may be the greatest book ever written on a single opening! Well worth getting if you play either side of 1.e4 e5, and maybe even if you don't.

You might even want to give the King's Gambit a try. No doubt you'll lose some games, but on the other hand you'll win others like this. I guarantee that you're not going to win many 13-movers with the Ruy Lopez! A lot of people, even strong players, don't take the King's Gambit seriously, and spend little if any time preparing against it. Just take a look at the games that GM Joe Gallagher (author of an earlier book on the King's Gambit) won in 20 or fewer moves.

'Computer Chess' Coming to Music Box Sept. 27

Computer Chess is coming to Chicago next week! An official selection of the 2013 South by Southwest and Sundance film festivals, Computer Chess is "an artificially intelligent comedy" (not, repeat not, a documentary) about computer chess programmers, set in an Austin, Texas, hotel over one weekend in the 1980s during a tournament for chess software programmers. It's been rated 86 percent fresh by Rotten Tomatoes and received an A− from AV Club (which is notoriously stingy with its grades).

The movie opens at the Music Box Theater, 3733 N. Southport Ave., Chicago, next Friday, Sept. 27. And on Friday and Saturday of opening weekend, writer-director Andrew Bujalski, local stars Gordon Kindlmann and Anne Dodge, Chicago-born producer Alex Lipschultz and special guests will introduce and conduct post-show discussions. Ray Pride, film editor of Newcity, will facilitate the post-screening Q&As. Showtime is 7:15 PM.

Tickets are $9.25 . . . unless you visit the Chicago Chess Center Facebook page tomorrow and win a pair of free passes, good for any showing of Computer Chess, courtesy of the Music Box and the Chicago Chess Center. (The speedy Todd Freitag nabbed today's pair of passes before I even finished writing this post.)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The best chess deal in town....$5 at Evanston Chess this Saturday

OK, slightly outside of town...another email cut-and-paste.  I will only be there in spirit.

Levy Senior Center
300 Dodge Ave. 
Evanston, IL 60202 

Evanston Chess Presents: 
Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013, 9:00am-5:00pm 
 Three x Three
3SS G/65 delay 5 

 Three Sections, USCF Regular Rated
 Our guest master will be NM Mariano Acosta Section

Gold: 1700 and over Section
Silver: 1200 - 1699 Section
Bronze: Under 1200 and Unrated

1600 - 1699 may play up to Gold. 1100 - 1199 may play up to Silver.
Published USCF Regular Rating determines eligibility. Unrated players may be placed up at TD discretion. 

From time to time Evanston Chess pays one or more titled players to play in our events. We usually do not pair them against each other. Even if they should lose (it does happen) we may pair them with the highest score groups.

Three rounds. Digital clocks are required and will be set to G/65 plus 5 seconds delay. Accelerated or decelerated pairings at TD discretion. Sections may be combined at TD discretion.

Registration from 9:00 to 9:30 AM. Players must check in by 9:30 am; players who arrive late will receive a half-point bye for the first round. First Round 9:45 am, last round over roughly 5:00 pm.

Lunch Break: We may need to be finished by 5:00 PM, so we cannot count on extra time between rounds for lunch. We will schedule a lunch break if the center will be open late. You may take one half-point bye in any round but the last.

Entry fee is $5, please pay cash (no checks) at the door. Masters and Experts play free. Pre-registration is encouraged: Help us start on time, and save yourself a spot (we're limited to 52 players). Send name, USCF number, and telephone number to

Food! As always, we will order in pizza from Sarpinos for those who would rather not go out for lunch. $5 gets you a minimum of two slices (specify pepperoni or cheese) and one can of pop (Coke, Diet Coke, Orange, Rootbeer, Sprite, Iced Tea).

Junior players (under fourteen years) rated 900+ are welcome. Sorry, but we do not accept junior players rated under 900. Must be accompanied by a parent throughout the event. Bring clocks. -- Wheelchair accessible. No Smoking. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

The rarely-sprung trap

1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 e6?! 4.c4 Bb4+?? is an ingenious but bad way of playing Alekhine's Defense. It is seen 19 times in Mega Database 2013. Some good players had White, including the Filipino GM and former Candidate Eugenio Torre, and two other players rated over 2300. In 16 of those games, White played 5.Bd2; in the other three, he played 5.Nd2. In none of the games did White play 5.Ke2!, winning a piece, since after either 5...Nb6 6.c5 or 5...Ne7 6.a3, Black's bishop is trapped and will be lost. White, modestly rated 1197, did find the sockdolager (as the old-time writers liked to say) in the below correspondence game, presumably aided by the greater time available for reflection.

This game is from Karsten Müller and Rainer Knaak's book 222 Opening Traps After 1.e4, p. 18. I first learned of this trap in Tim Krabbé's wonderful Open Chess Diary (scroll down to No. 381). As I have previously noted, I have myself won with the mirror image of this trap, 1.d4 Nc6 2.d5 Ne5 3.e4 d6 4.f4 Bg4?? 5.Qd2! and Black loses a piece just as in the original version.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Like déjà vu all over again

Earlier this month, I showed you a trap in the Fort Knox Variation of the French Defense where White traps Black's queen on f6 with 8.Bg5! Bxf3 9.Qd2! and if 9...Qxd4, 10.Bb5+. Here's a variant of the same trap with the players' c-pawns exchanged. This requires a small refinement by White, but Black's queen stays trapped. Note that if only future GM Sherzer had read Chernev's The 1000 Best Short Games of Chess, he wouldn't have fallen into this trap!