Saturday, April 24, 2010

Topalov wins Game 1 of World Championship

A very weird first game. Many masters speculated that Anand had prepared the move 23...Bd7 (to be followed by ...Kf7 in a couple moves), but simply forgot the move order.

Nice win for Topalov, but he barely had to think. More coverage at Chess Life Online.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Rachel Ulrich at Hales Corners

 Rachel Ulrich
 Oh, and Stamnov, too.

Field finalized for 2010 U.S. Championship

At Chess Life Online.

Chicagoland is ably represented this year by GM Yury Shulman and GM Dmitry Gurevich.  And GM Jesse Kraai is an alumnus of Shimer College (not to mention Jena and Heidelberg).

High School Nationals (ouch)

When I'm blogging during an event, but go silent after the last round, that usually means I didn't like the results.  Congratulations to the ten co-champions, none of whom were from Illinois.  Coverage at Chess Life Online.

Both Michael Auger and Adarsh Jayakumar had a clear shot at a piece of the national title.   I haven't seen Adarsh's game yet, but Michael was clearly winning.....

Notes updated 4/22/10


Commercial chess engines (Rybka, Fritz, Chessmaster) are amazingly strong, but they cost serious money. But there are also very strong engines that are freeware. Mig Greengard discusses several in this blog post, including Stockfish, which you can download here.

Please note that if you don't have a commercial interface (Fritz, Shredder, Aquarium), you'll need to download a UCI interface.  I'm told that Arena (download here) is a good free interface for Windows users.  More information (but not much more!) is available on the Stockfish FAQ page.

So how strong is Stockfish? Engines are funny things: the ancient version of Fritz (6.0) on my office PC solves the following position  almost immediately, Rybka takes a second or two, but Stockfish takes a while to find the solution.  That doesn't necessarily mean that Stockfish is weaker, however.  When there's a forced variation with several "studylike" moves and a main line more than ten moves deep, the stronger engine will sometimes take more time to find the correct solution: aggressive alpha-beta pruning eliminates "silly" moves from the computer's search.  Sometimes silly moves are brilliant, but more often they're not. 

We humans are much better at making these judgment calls; our silicon friends are millions of times faster than us, however.

A test position (my favorite study!)

FEN: 2b4k/8/5Pr1/5N2/8/8/8/K1B5 w - - 0 1

Korol'kov 1951
White to play and win

This beautiful study is worth thirty minutes of your time.  Understanding why certain moves don't work is (as usual in a study) a big part of the fun.  You can then cut and paste the Forsythe notation into your chess engine to get its answer.  Please let me know your performance results!

There's a YouTube video explaining this study.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

You can't have a world championship match without a soap opera subplot

Anand (currently in Germany) requests a force majeure postponement due to the Icelandic volcano: all flights in Northern Europe are grounded.

Given the extraordinary circumstances, a three-day delay seems reasonable, but what will Danailov and FIDE do?

UPDATE: in case you thought I was being cynical.

Evanston - Touch Move box score

Unofficial results of this friendly match

Evanston Chess Club          Touch Move Chess Club

Aleksandar Stamnov   0-1      Mariano Acosta
Rick Lang                   ½-½    Florentino Inumerable
Matt Pullin                   1-0     Arandel Markovic
Bill Brock                    1-0     Virgillio Forro
Dmitri Sergatskov        0-1     Rene Ancheta
Mark Jutovsky             0-1     Fred Cohen
Paul Gafni                   ½-½    George Stone
Mark Parnably             1-0     Noel Martin
Mateus Szulc                1-0     Rick Lutzke
Mark Spitzig                 0-1     Dan Leroy
Tim Grassel                   1-0    Jay Smalls
Bruce Pot ratz               0-1    Christian Kavouras

There was an "extra" game that would not have broken the tie:

Michael Wishner           ½-½      Rob Morrison

Evanston Chess Club vs. Touch Move Chess Center

International Master Angelo Young hosted a very nice event at the Touch Move Chess Center today: TMCC and the Evanston Chess Club played to a 6-6 tie.

Thanks for the pizza and bottled water, Angelo!

National High School, Round 6

Cool!  Both Michael Auger and Adarsh Jayakumar have a chance to tie for first in this event.  And so does a Missouri player well-known to Chicagoans, seventh-grader (!!) Kevin Cao.

Kristopher Meekins of Ohio leads the event with a perfect 6-0, one full point ahead of the field.  But he's playing #1 seed Shinsaku Usesugi of Maryland.  So good chances for the 5-1 players!

"Four GMs tie for first in St. Louis Open"

Great coverage at Chess Life Online.

Two of our local grandmasters were very much in the running for first (not easy when Nakamura is playing!), but Dmitry Gurevich lost to GM Robert Hess in round 4 and Mesgen Amanov lost to GM Josh Friedel in round 5.

Illinois players at National Junior High School - final results

Several Illinois players tied for fifth place in the National Junior High School championships in Minneapolis last weekend.  Congratualtions to Maximillian Zinski (who's gained 199 rating points in the past ten days), Gavin McClanahan, and Jimi Daniel Akintonde (who knocked off a player rated more than four hundred points higher in the last round!).  All three players are seventh-graders with one more shot at the title....

St. Michael's School in Wheaton (Zinski, Nathaniel Kranjc, Grant Kozeny, and Joseph Ives) took 11th place 

Results are here: click on "K-8 Championship."

Illinois players at Nation High School (after five rounds)

Quick notes on the action in Columbus, Ohio.

Michael Auger (2145) was tied for the lead after four rounds, but lost in round five to top seed Shinsaku Uesugi (2370) of Maryland.  With 4 points, Michael still has a (remote) chance to tie for first; Whitney Young HS is currently in 15th place in the team standings.

Eric Rosen (2220) was upset by an A player in the first round, but he has 3.5 points with good pairing chances to finish at or above 5 points.  Niles North is three points off the team lead.  Senior Fedor Titov (1750) is having a monster event with 3.5 points.

Former and future North Shore resident Adarsh Jayakumar (2226, moving here shortly from Texas) is very much in the running for first with 4.5.
Perhaps the most notable Illinois high school result (so far!) is that of our fourth-graders (!!!). Alex Bian (1806) has 2.5 points, with only one loss, to an expert.  And James Wei (1804) has 3 points!  The scary thing (considering the extremely high level of competition at nationals) is that neither fourth-grader is having a particularly good tournament.

On the national front, Elizabeth Vicary's I.S. 318 team from Brooklyn is tied for the lead--these are junior high students competing against high school students!

I'm sure I missed stuff: please let me know....