Saturday, November 28, 2009

Traps and Zaps: Ruy Lopez (Noah's Ark Trap)

Before we say goodbye to Bruce Pandolfini, let's look at a trap that's as old as Noah's Ark (whence the name): 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 d6 5. d4 b5 6. Bb3 Nxd4 7. Nxd4 exd4 8. Qxd4? 

Black to move
 Answer below!

That’s All, Folks!

Blaze draw division-leading Sluggers to end a down-and-up season

IM Florin Felecan

NM Eric Rosen

The Chicago Blaze finished their 2009 USCL season on November 4 with a 2-2 draw against the division-leading Seattle Sluggers, capping off a late-season mini-surge that gave the team a respectable 4-6 record on the year after a poor start in the first half of the schedule.

With the Blaze officially eliminated from playoff competition by Miami’s draw against Boston the previous week, the pressure was off the Chicago squad, and they were relaxed going into the final round against the heavily favored Sluggers. That and the good turnout of fans at the Holiday Inn Skokie created a festive atmosphere for the night that helped the team hold the Pacific Northwest powerhouse.

One of the Blazers who took full advantage of the circumstances was IM Florin Felecan, who scored his first USCL victory against FM Slava Mikhailuk in a 28-move Sicilian Rossolimo.

It took NM Eric Rosen a few more moves to prevail over NM Joshua Sinanan in a Closed Sicilian, but prevail he did, and the two wins secured the draw against Seattle.

As always, here are the games:

1. GM Gregory Serper (SEA) vs IM Jan van de Mortel (CHC) 1-0
2. IM Florin Felecan (CHC) vs FM Slava Mikhailuk (SEA) 1-0
3. FM Marcel Milat (SEA) vs IM Mehmed Pasalic (CHC) 1-0
4. NM Eric Rosen (CHC) vs NM Joshua Sinanan (SEA) 1-0

Thanks for the umpteenth time to our Celebrity Tournament Director for the night Betsy Dynako, who has been a godsend to the Blaze the past two years. Also attending the game was IM Angelo Young, who, though he wasn’t scheduled to play that night and wasn’t feeling well, came out to cheer his teammates.

Though the season is over for the Blaze, the USCL playoffs have been exciting and rife with upsets, including the elimimation of the Seattle Sluggers and the New Jersey Knockouts, the teans with the best records in their divisions. The championship match will take place on December 7, when the Miami Sharks of the Western Division meet the New York Knights of the East.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Traps and Zaps: Two Knights, Max Lange Attack

You probably saw enough silverware yesterday, but please don't forget the "fork"! 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. d4 exd4 5. O-O Bc5 6. e5 d5 7. exf6 dxc4 8. Re1+ Be6 9. Ng5 Qxf6?

White to move

I should mention that Pandolfini's answers in Chess Openings: Traps And Zaps are far more complete than the fragments I'm quoting here.  He's very good at explaining the tactical specifics, then drawing a general conclusions that you can use in similar opening positions.  Anyway, click below for the answer.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Traps and Zaps: Four Knights' Game

You won't be a turkey if you recognize the trap motif (you've seen it before in Chess Openings: Traps and Zaps). 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bc4 Bb4 5. O-O d6 6. Nd5 Bg4 7. c3 Bc5 8. d3 Ne7?

White to play
Click for the answer!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Grigoriev's combined method

It sounds so mysterious....

Traps and Zaps: Philidor Defense

If you've been reading the last few posts quoting from Chess Openings: Traps and Zaps, you might recognize a familiar opportunity after 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bc4 Bg4 4. Nc3 h6? 

White to play 

Click below for the answer!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Hey this is Matt Pullin a.k.a. GreenCastleBlock from YouTube. To test out my ability to post on this blog this is my game against FM Alexander Stamnov from an Evanston tournament a couple weeks ago. Not shown are 5 previous tournament games played in the last couple years which I lost to Stamnov. I have quite a lot of ground to make up in the series.

nice collection of Martinovsky photos

And don't forget this weekend's Memorial tournament: November 27-29 at the Holiday Inn in Elgin!

You Vs. Bobby Fischer

I found Igor Khmelnitsky's last book very useful in identifying my many weaknesses. His new one looks similarly promising....

World Cup Round 2, Game 1

Kamsky wins game 1: US update at Chess Life Online. And a good overview at The Chess Mind.

Checking distance, schmecking distance

Everything you always wanted to know about frontal defenses but were afraid to ask....

Traps and Zaps: King's Gambit Declined (Desperado)

Here's another classic tactical idea, the desperado, as illustrated in Chess Openings: Traps and Zaps. 1. e4 e5 2. f4 Bc5 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. Bc4 d6 5. c3 Bg4 6. Bxf7+? Kxf7 7. Ng5+

Black to play

Click on the arrows below to see the solution!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Richard Réti, 1928

When I was thirteen or so, Réti's Modern Ideas in Chess was my favorite book.

Should be safe to link to this now :-)

I wanted to wait until the Shulman match was over before linking to Jon Burgess's game.

It's all over

Yury lost 4.5 to 3.5.  He was an exchange up in game 8, but Savchenko created counterchances and drew from a position of strength.....

loss in game 7

The game score makes no sense...(transmission error?)  These are now five-minute games.
LATER IN THE DAY: here's the score...


Yury tied it up 3-3! Check out 30...Bd5!!  (Not a hard move for a GM to find under normal conditions, but in a must-win game at action time controls....)

Black plays 30...Bd5!!
Black had to execute the KBN v. K mate in a time scramble.

White resigns
White resigns in the final position because this is a theoretical position in the "W maneuver." The White king is trapped in a corner controlled by the Black bishop: for example, 102.Kf3 Be6! 103.Kf2 Bg4 and mate in a few moves. The tiebreak continues....

Traps and Zaps: Vienna Game (Légal's Mate)

Another chestnut from Chess Openings: Traps and Zaps1. e4 e5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. f4 d6 4. Nf3 a6?! 5. Bc4 Bg4?! 6. fxe5 Nxe5?
White to play and win
And here's the answer!

Performance under pressure

The good news is that Yury Shulman has nerves of steel. He's already won one must-win game with Black today. (White resigns in the final position because 41.Kh1 Rxh2 is checkmate; 41.Kf1 Nd2+ wins a piece.)

Savchenko-Shulman live The Week in Chess. Yury trails 3-2; he's got to win the game being played right now to avoid elimination. UPDATE: Still in progress (this is a wild one! and Yury has real chances to win...)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Traps and Zaps - Center Game

From Bruce Pandolfini's Chess Openings: Traps and Zaps. 1. e4 e5 2. d4 exd4 3. Qxd4 Nc6 4. Qe3 Nf6 5. Bc4 Ne5 6. Bb3 Bb4+ 7. c3?! Bc5 8.Qg3?

Black to play and win

Play through the board to see the answer!

Rook vs. pawn is somewhat easier...

Easier, but still nontrivial.

Yury Shulman at the World Cup, Round 1, Game 2

Just click on the arrows to play through the game. The match is tied 1-1: playoffs are tomorrow.

2009 World Cup

The 2009 World Cup started yesterday in the Russian oil town of Khanty-Mansiysk. Of the 128 players, one is representing Chicagoland, our own Yury Shulman, with a FIDE rating of 2623. His first round match is against Boris Savchenko (2644) of Russia, a very tough pairing. Shulman and Savchenko drew both games, yesterday and today. They will have a rapid elimination tomorrow.

Other US results:  
  • Gata Kamsky (2695) eliminated Rogelio Antonio, Jr., (2574) of the Phillipines 1.5-0.5;
  • Alexander Onischuk (2672) beat Diego Flores of Argentina 1.5-0.5;
  • Alexander Ivanov (2539) lost 0.5-1.5 to Evgeny Tomashevsky (2708) of Russia;
  • Josh Friedel (2551) was shut out 0-2 by Wang Hao (2708) of China;
  • teenager Robert Hess (2572) lost 0.5-1.5 to Alexander Motylev (2695) of Russia;
  • fellow teen Ray Robson (2567) lost 0.5-1.5 to Baadur Jobava (2696) of Georgia;
  • Jaan Ehlvest (2606) was eliminated 0.5-1.5 by fellow US Swiss super-GM Ilia Smirin (2662) of Israel;
  • Varuzhan Akobian (2624 goes to 1-1 tiebreak with Pavel Tregubov (2642) of Russia;
  • and Alexander Shabalov (2606) is headed for playoffs after a 1-1 tie with Vladimir Baklan (2655) of Ukraine.
The top two US players (Kamsky and Onischuk) are safely through to Round Two; Shabalov, Akobian, and Shulman are still alive in Round One, and the other five have been eliminated.  Tough weekend for the USA! (Teenager Fabiano Caruana of Italy and Brooklyn is also through to Round Two; Hikaru Nakamura passed up the World Cup to play in the London Chess Classic.) Good luck to Yury, who has a great track record in World Cup playoffs!

Photos and more games at the USCF website.

Rook endings are hard!

Matt Pullin sets out to illustrate a "simple" position from Levenfish & Smyslov's classic Rook Endings. If World Champions go astray, what chance do we mere mortals have?   (While the grandmasters' analysis is busted in the comments on YouTube, their general conclusion is upheld by the Nalimov tablebase--technical explanation for newbies.)

Do you need help?  You'll find the Nalimov six-piece tablebase online at  The initial position has seven pieces, so until the Black pawn on is captured, you'll have to use your brain.

Too hard for you?  You're not alone!

Yury Shulman at the World Cup, Round 1, Game 1

Just click on the arrows to play through the game.