Saturday, May 15, 2010

Altounian-Shulman, U.S. Championship Round 2

This game highlights a major practical disadvantage of the French Defense at the international level: if White only wants a draw, it can be very hard to win.  In this game, Altounian is facing one of the world's strongest practitioners of the French, and he chickens out with the Exchange Variation.  

If you want to play the French against an amateur like me, this is less of a worry: check out John Watson's Play the French.

Gurevich-Stripunsky, U.S. Championship Round 2

Dmitry is off to a rough start: in this game, he had a nice position in a messy Chigorin Defense. But the tournament format encourages risk-taking, and Dmitry's winning try backfired. He has White against Ray Robson tomorrow. 

Friday, May 14, 2010

US Championships, Round 1: Christiansen-Gurevich

US Championships, Round 1: Shulman-Bhat

2010 Chicago Open - Memorial Day Weekend!

And you can check out the results of past years' events here.

If you're an experienced player above USCF/FIDE 1900 and you care more about playing top-notch opponents than winning big cash prizes, you should seriously consider the Open Section.  It's 9 rounds (which means that FIDE norms may be available, depending on your pairings), from May 27-31.  Of course, if you have a 2700+ performance in the tournament, you could come home with $10,000!  But I prefer to keep my expectations reasonable: I would be disappointed to score less than 3 points out of 9, and I'll be ecstatic if I score 4½ points.

Now if you care about chess and the chance to win up to $5,000, there are six strong class sections: Under 2100, Under 1900, Under 1700, Under 1500, and Under 1300.  CCA makes reasonable efforts to keep overrated "sandbaggers" out of class sections, but please be aware that there's usually an underrated prodigy or two who you'll have to contend with.  So please keep your expectations reasonable, and have fun playing chess!  

In all of these sections, you can choose between 4-day, 3-day, and 2-day schedules.  I strongly recommend playing in the 3-day or 4-day: young players in particular will learn much more at the slower time control.  Young players (especially those close to the top of their section) should seriously consider playing up one section: a player rated 1510 will find the Under 1700 section challenging, but a 1650 player may want to opt for the Under 1900 section.  For those mature enough to deal with losses, the experience of playing strong competition is worth more than the slim chance of winning big bucks.  (For most players, however, playing up TWO sections is too much.)

Finally, the two-day Under 1000 section is ideal for beginners.

Please note that Illinois Chess Association membership is required for all Illinois residents!  You can join ICA when you enter online here before May 24th!

US Championships begin today!

Live coverage begins at 2 p.m. today at

While virtually all of the top players are familiar to Chicagoans, we've got two local heroes representing us this year:

GM Yury Shulman has White today against GM Vinay Bhat

GM Dmitry Gurevich (below right) has Black today against GM Larry Christiansen (below left)

 ...should be an interesting game... (photo Betsy Dynako)

You can compete vicariously by forming a fantasy chess team at the USCF web site (only a couple hours left!)

And you'll find coverage of yesterday's opening ceremony at Chess Life Online.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Two more Anand interviews

Although they're on the French site Europe Echecs, the interviews are in English.  (Anand is fluent in English, Spanish, and (I would assume!) Tamil, and speaks more-than-passable German; don't know if he does French, too.)

Interesting tidbit from the first interview: Anand did miss the ...h6+! drawing idea in game 8 (he saw the move, but didn't understand its significance during the game).  More analysis of game 8 here by GM Robert Fontaine at

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

World Championship tactics

This position could have occurred in today's game if White had played 41.Rxa8:

Topalov-Anand, game 12 (variation after 41.Rxa8)
Black to play and win

Hint: Black's Christmas list might include eliminating a certain defensive piece, then clearing the way for yet another piece, no matter the cost.

"Half Day takes it all the way"

The five-member team from Half Day School in Lincolnshire are coming home with the first place trophy in the K5 Championship Division at the just concluded National Elementary Championships.  The top four scorers--Alex Bian, Conrad Oberhaus, James Wei and Jack Xiao--whose points are counted toward the team total, collectively had just two losses in the whole tournament.  All four are 2010 ICA Warren Scholars.  

Andi Rosen reports on the ICA website.  (Currently on home page: I'll add a permalink later.)

Now would be a good time to donate to the Warren Junior Program!

Vishy rules Sofia!

I was not-so-discreetly checking on my iPhone during a business meeting today....

Congratulations to Anand, and applause to both players for an entertaining match with minimal intrigue.

World Championship game 12

Going on right now: it's a good one!

Today's winner is World Champion: if it's a draw, tiebreaks on Thursday.

World Championship tactics

2010 World Championship
After 61.Rc3 (Black to move)

Please find a good move for Black!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Last of a generation

In 1950, FIDE awarded the modern grandmaster title to 27 players.  Andor Lilienthal, the last survivor among the original grandmasters, died last week at the age of 99.

More on Grandmaster Lilienthal in the ChessBase obituary and Wikipedia article; also see Kasparov's appreciation in My Great Predecessors, Part 4.  Frederick Rhine tells me that Lilienthal was one of the last surviving players (and by far the strongest player) with a Morphy number of 3.

There was a moment of silence in Lilienthal's honor before Game 11 of the World Championship yesterday.

MCA FIDE Futurity XI - after the first weekend

In the advanced duffers' event, Gaddiel Tan takes the early lead.  The handicappers' consensus is that I am old and tired and have no chance to keep up with him.

DGT North American Chess Clock


If price is not an issue, I'd still buy the Chronos Chess Clock.  But if you're too cheap to spend more than $100 on a Chronos (that's the story of my life), or if you're the parent of an absent-minded genius who tends to lose things, the $40 DGT North American is an excellent option.  

The DGT supports both the "traditional" delay and the more recent bonus (Fischer) mode common in international play and in local events like the 2009 Illinois Open.  Unlike the Chronos, the DGT North American cannot be used to crush the skull of your opponent.  The DGT's light plastic housing is more convenient, but probably somewhat less durable.  The settings seem somewhat easier to master than the Chronos's settings.

I used them this weekend, liked them, and bought two from Sevan Muradian.  If I played a lot of blitz, I would go for the Chronos, but the DGT North American seems ideal for tournament play.

Anish Giri annotates Game 11

At ChessBase.

 Interactive JavaScript board is here.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

National champions!

Congratulations to the team from Lincolnshire's Half Day School, winners of the National Elementary (K-5) Championships in Atlanta, Georgia, this weekend. Team members Alex Bian and Conrad Oberhaus tied for second overall, while James Wei tied for seventh and Jack Xiao scored +3 to finish 38th in a 272-player field. Good job!

And congratulations to Anshul Adve of Champaign's Countryside School, who also tied for seventh.

 P.S.  All these young Illinois players are fourth-graders and eligible to compete in next year's event (except for Jack Xiao, who's a third-grader...)
No. Name                         Gr Team   St Rate Pts 
  1 Beilin, Allan                 5 CARN01 CA 1833 6.5 
  2 Arora, Mayhul                 5 WASTEV WA 1541 6.0 
  3 Bian, Alex                    4 ILL004 IL 1806 6.0
  4 Zhao, Art                     4 CASTMK CA 1693 6.0
  5 Oberhaus, Conrad              4 ILL004 IL 1676 6.0
  6 Ishikawa, Takayuki            4 NYBROW NY 1488 6.0
  7 Lim, Michael                  5 NJG002 NJ 1742 5.5
  8 Viswanadha, Kesav             5 CAC018 CA 1916 5.5
  9 Jacob, Andrew                 5 TXLAUR TX 1641 5.5
 10 Wang, Patrick                 5 WASTEV WA 1716 5.5
 11 Adve, Anshul                  4 ILCSID IL 1622 5.5
 12 Yu, Justin J                  5 WAB004 WA 1636 5.5
 13 Wei, James                    4 ILL004 IL 1805 5.5
 14 Gianatasio, Michael           5 FLB001 FL 1710 5.5
 15 Goldstein, Ben                4 NYDALT NY 1533 5.5
 16 Tao, Jeffrey                  4 CAS047 CA 1599 5.5
 17 Kalyanpur, Armaan             5 CAMSJE CA 1594 5.5
 18 Santoyo, Edgar A              5 TXBAP1 TX 1467 5.5
 38 Xiao, Jack                    3 ILL004 IL 1426 5.0