Saturday, December 5, 2009

Before the Fischer-Larsen match


The Knight of the Iguana*

There’s some good news on the local chess front in the Windy City. Since my panicky post last summer about the imminent demise of the Chicago Chess Meetup Group, people have stepped up to rescue the group from extinction. Particularly active in the institution’s revival has been NM Bruce Kovalsky, who as far as I can tell moved here recently from the West Coast and has since put a lot of energy into chess organizing. First Bruce was scheduling meetups at various Starbucks on the Near North Side. Now he’s putting one together for the Iguana Café at 517 North Halsted on December 17. I’m told these get-togethers are a lot of fun. Go here for more information about the December 17 event and here to sign up for the Chicago Chess Meetup Group.

This is a good chance to get out of the house and away from the Internet, to meet some nice people, eat some good food, play some real, over-the-board chess, and support your local chess organizer.

* My apologies to those of you who are allergic to bad puns. Sometimes I just can't resist.

Friday, December 4, 2009

I don't know whether there are spots remaining in tomorrow's Futurity....

But if you're rated over 1500 USCF/FIDE and you feel like playing this weekend, you might call and ask. The event is being held at Touch Move (5639 N. Ashland): no on-site entries!

UPDATE: Just got off the phone with Chris Baumgartner: there might be two or so spots still open.

Scholastc tournament in West Chicago tomorrow!

Details on the Patrick Machaj Memorial are (as always) on the ICA Tournament Calendar.

1972 makes me think of Lubosh Kavalek...

...which in turn makes me think of his wonderful Washington Post column. Free registration is required: if the link doesn't work, just Google "Washington Post Kavalek" -- you'll find great material here.

A trick question

Black to play

1) Find a good move that gives Black (extremely slight) practical chances to win. 

2) So what's the trick?

A delightful diagram of 29...Bxh2

The graphics are worthy of John Madden. LIFE correspondent Brad Darrach is the author of Bobby Fischer vs. the Rest of the World: it's a page-turner that non-players will enjoy, too.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

calling all web geeks

A technical question: I thought that ChessFlash left the game in "pure" PGN. When I cut & paste from ChessFlash to PGN (by clicking thru on the link, then highlighting the target page's PGN input), the PGN comes out garbled on ChessBase. Am I doing something wrong?

LIFE magazine, May 19, 1972

Training at Grossinger's.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Chicago Blaze tactics

The Chicago Blaze did not make the U.S. Chess League playoffs, but I think they had a much better season than the Chicago Bears are having. Our state co-champion, IM Florin Felecan, found a killer shot in this position:

White to move

Felecan - Mikhailuk, Chicago Blaze vs. Seattle Sluggers

Sunday, November 29, 2009

One way to stop Scholar's Mate

I'm sure we'll be hearing from Messrs. Nakamura and Parham soon.

Scholar's Mate: the Movie

Check out this hilarious film clip.

Of course, the opening sequence commonly known as Scholar’s Mate (1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Bc5 3.Qh5 Nf6 4.Qxf7#) is not just a funny video; it is, as Chess Corner observes, “the most common trap a beginner falls into.”

It’s common because it’s an easy way for the attacker to get a fast and, some would say, cheap victory. Scholar’s Mate works by exploiting the weakness of the opponent’s f7 pawn, which at the beginning of the game is guarded only by the King. If you can quickly build up an attack on that square and send in your Queen with protection, your opponent’s King can neither escape nor capture the attacking piece. The heartbreaking result: checkmate on Move 4.

Because Scholar’s Mate is so widely played in scholastic tournaments and chess clubs, it should be one of the first things every new player learns. Learning the right defensive moves is all it takes.

Scholar’s Mate raises ethical questions, most notably: Should you yourself use it when you suspect your novice opponent may not be prepared for it? One could argue that every new player should be on the receiving end of Scholar’s Mate once, just so he or she knows what it’s like and learns to combat it. I won’t pass judgment on the issue, but if nothing else all chess kids should know Scholar’s Mate and how to avoid it. Note: I'd like to thank Bill Brock for inviting me to join his distinguished stable of bloggers at this site. I'm humbled to be among them. Bill made a special call for introductory instructional material, and Scholar's Mate is about as introductory as you can get.

World Cup tactics - Round 3

White to play

Judit Polgar - Boris Gelfand,  2009 World Cup

If only White could play 1.Bf6+.... (White has more than one way to win here, but only one instant kill.)

"Nakamura Blitzes Carlsen in Norway"

Story at Mig Greengard's The Daily Dirt; games at US Chess Online.