Saturday, December 26, 2009

On the second day of Christmas, I had to return the present

Yesterday's ChessBase puzzle was not just solved, but "cooked" (that's composer-speak for "refuted") by two Ph.D.'s in mathematics.  Most of you know of GM John Nunn from his many great books; Noam Elkies is no slouch.

Here's an easier problem with a similar idea.  See ChessBase for discussion and hints.

W.E. Rudolph
La Stratégie 1912
White to play and draw

This might be the perfect example of a position that humans (even near-beginners) can understand easily, but today's computers are not yet able to understand.

Friday, December 25, 2009

TIME interview with Magnus Carlsen

Check it out.

Merry Christmas!

(Festivus, too.) The first of the 2009 ChessBase Christmas puzzles is up.

Manuel Rodriguez, 2009
White to play and draw
I think I see the first move, but the idea of ...Qa6 & penetration on the a6-f1 diagonal is bugging me.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

ChessBase Christmas puzzles (1999 through 2008)

The 2009 puzzles haven't arrived yet, but you can find links to earlier Christmas puzzles on this page.  They started out very simple in 1999, but grew more and more complex.  Warning: a high rating may not be of much help in solving these puzzles: imagination, patience, and egg nog may help.

How do computers play chess?

Here's a cool introduction to the subject, accessible to children and bright adults. And you get to test your tic-tac-toe skills. (Via Iron Rooks.)

Iron Rooks Chess Collective

It's fun to read about a new group of local folks (they've been around for three years, but they're new to me) getting kids involved with chess.  Here's coverage in Time Out Chicago and the Chicago Tribune.  Dirty little secret (let's not talk about this too much!): while chess is an end in itself, it's much more valuable as a tool to teach children (and adults) certain abstract thinking techniques that are valuable in the Real World.  (Not to mention more general and even more valuable life lessons.)

Iron Rooks hosts a Saturday morning chess club for kids at 9am at New York Deli (2921 N Clark St) in Lakeview that’s open to all skill levels.

Hat tip to Jerry Neugarten.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I suppose I should have given the answer for the trébuchet problem...

As usual, you can find the answer in Wikipedia. (Slightly different position, but the idea is exactly the same.)

And to make sure we all understand, here's yet another a slightly different position that you won't find at the Wikipedia link.  What is White's best move?

White to play and win

Dick Cavett remembers Bobby Fischer

Hard to believe that Fischer has been gone for almost two years. Don't miss the video embedded in Cavett's blog entry.

And here's Cavett's followup (no video in this one).

Monday, December 21, 2009

Grigoriev's amazing pawn endings (answer to 1)

World Chess Live p.s.

I went on World Chess Live myself this weekend. One thing I didn't know: the first six months are free for USCF members! It's not as full-featured as its older sibling, the Internet Chess Club. But it is a nice alternative for casual play!

the famous Korchnoi commercial

Grigoriev's amazing pawn endings (1)

I did not know until I peeked in Wikipedia that Nikolai Grigoriev won the Moscow championship four times.  He's best remembered today as a composer of endgame studies: pawn endings were his specialty.

(After my last tournament outing, I feel that I need a refresher course in pawn endings: maybe you can help me!)

Shakmatny listok, 1931
White to play and draw

Every pawn ending starts as something other than a pawn ending: it's fairly obvious that White is going to have to give up the rook for Black's b-pawn.  But how?  And how does White draw the pawn ending?

Our new friend the trébuchet may make an appearance in one of the variations.

Solutions in a few hours!