Saturday, June 12, 2010

Chicagoans in Las Vegas

Actually, IM Enrico Sevillano doesn't live in Chicago any more. But he used to live around the corner from me (we once met in the laundromat). Even though NM Ken Wallach gets into trouble early, he shows why he's a master by offering stubborn defense in an unattractive position.

A forgotten masterpiece

The following game appears in the chapter "Perfect Games" in Fred Reinfeld and Irving Chernev's classic The Fireside Book of Chess. Reinfeld and Chernev observe, "In the opinion of the writers, Parr's masterpiece has well-founded claims to being considered the finest attacking game of all time." A lot of great games have been played in the five decades since their book was published, but the game remains an incandescent brilliancy. The winner, Frank Parr (1918-2003), won the famous Hastings Premier tournament in 1938-39, the one occasion on which he played in it.

Missed by the Masters

The game score below is taken from the tournament book and The players, whose names I have omitted to avoid embarrassing them, were prominent local masters. In the diagrammed position, Black played 8...a6. Do you see anything better?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Game/30 event at A Place for Us

"Hold my hand and we're halfway there / Hold my hand and I'll take you there..."   Sorry, I can't carry a tune in a bucket.

It's co-sponsored by the Midway Chess Club and the South Suburban Chess ClubDetails here! 

Spectators welcome

The second half of the 26th North American Masters begins tonight!  Details here.

I'll be playing in a concurrent invitational event at the same site (the Holiday Inn on Touhy in Skokie), the MCA FIDE Futurity XI

Thursday, June 10, 2010

"...kicks above the waistline..."

Theo Ubique's production of Chess won seven non-equity Jeff awards.

Andrew Karklins - Brock 2010, continued

This position from the Chicago Open is still haunting me!

 White to move
A. Karklins - Brock, Chicago 2010

Time to put on your thinking cap!

In the game, young Mr. Karklins could have played 23.c5 with some advantage: my bishop on b6 is shut out of play.  Instead, he blundered with 23.Re3?  I'm pretty sure that my reply, 23...Ne5! gives Black a nice advantage, but the complications after 24.Nxe4!? are rather amazing.  

In the game, I went wrong with 24...Ng4?  What is White's best reply?  Evaluate the position and give Black's best reply to White's best reply.

I could have played the superior 24...Ref8!  Now Rybka says that 25.Kg1 is best.  But what should Black do if White plays 25.g3 instead? 

Black to play
A. Karklins - Brock, Chicago Open 2010 (variation)

If you find a good move, look for a better one!

Break On Through to the Other Side

White to play
Lu Shanglei - Ji Dan
2010 Chinese Championship, Xinghua

The move is obvious once you see it!  Lu Shanglei shows us how; Karsten Müller annotates for ChessBase.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

2010 National Open in Las Vegas this weekend!

Details here! You'll see many familiar faces from Chicago there.

Even at the last minute, rooms and airfare should be reasonable.  You can fly in Thursday night and have three days of serious chess (and perhaps a little recreation, too).

$5 Swiss in Evanston this Saturday!

Details here!

(I was temporarily confused abut the date, so please allow me to repeat...)

Levy Senior Center, 300 Dodge Ave., Evanston, IL 60202
Evanston Chess Presents:
Jun 12, 2010
Swiss Groups, 3SS G/70
Multiple Sections, USCF Regular Rated

ICA President Tom Sprandel and his wife Marie will be emulating Kerouac this summer (but Tom will still be running the ICA show via phone and the Intertubes).  If he's not too busy with last-minute packing, you may have a chance to wish Tom bon voyage!

Monday, June 7, 2010

What is zugzwang?

For the answer to this question, see the Kavalek column.

We take turns in chess: first White moves, then Black, then White....  Usually, "having the move" is a big advantage: if both sides are threatening mate, you would like it to be your move!  

Whoever moves first, wins
I hope it's my turn!

This is particularly true in the opening: when we speak of tempo (plural "tempi"), we're often talking about getting  your pieces into battle more quickly than your opponent does.  Having the move can only help!  If you look at the three Marshall Defense traps that Frederick posted earlier this week, you'll see that White gained one or more tempi by forcing Black to recapture the d5 pawn, then retreat the recapturing piece.  If you move four pieces out with your first moves and I've only moved one piece out, then you've gained three tempi on me!  It's a little more complicated than that, but this gives you an idea....

But sometimes (more frequently than most chessplayers realize), having the moving is a burden, not a privilege.

White to play
A complicated position!

I remember trying to explain the king and rook versus king mate to elementary students.  They found this position difficult, so I asked their parents to help.  The parents were confused, too!

First, let's pretend it's Black's move:
  • How many legal moves does Black have?
  • In each case (heh!), can you find White's best reply?
Now let's look at the position with White to move:
  • What is the fastest way for White to win?
And now...let's (temporarily) CHANGE THE RULES OF CHESS so that you don't have to move when it's your turn!  (Instead, either player can just say "pass" and skip a turn.)
  • With White to play, what is the fastest way for White to win this position?
One could ask the very same series of questions about another complicated position:

White to play
Another complicated position!

(Remember that the White pawns generally travel "up" the page (or in this case, the screen) and Black pawns travel "down": the queening square for the d6 pawn is d8.)

No answers for the time being: try to figure this out yourselves!

Not your typical checkmate in three moves

A recent Huffington Post column by GM Lubomir Kavalek used one of my favorite chess problems to illustrate the concept of zugzwang.  (I like it so much that I've posted it on the blog once before!)  The author of this problem is the nineteenth-century French playwright Alfred de Musset.

 de Musset
White to play and checkmate in three moves

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Trap in the Marshall Defense #3

Here is yet another trap in the Marshall Defense, one that I have pulled off many times. I learned of it from Lev Alburt's column in Chess Life. Some Marshall players vary from the normal 3...Nxd5 with 3...Qxd5?! After 4.Nc3, they usually continue with 4...Qa5 a la the Scandinavian Defense. (Note that after the better 4...Qd8, White should play 5.Nf3 rather than 5.e4?!, which allows Marshall's idea 5...e5!) After 4...Qa5, 5.Bd2! is strong, intending to follow up with e4 and Nd5, for example 5...Bf5?? 6.e4! Bg6 7.Nd5 and Black resigned in Steller-Reig, Stroebeck 1982. About 90% of my Internet opponents instead find 5...Qb6, forking White's b and d pawns, and after 6.Nf3! they dive in with 6...Qxb2?? 7.Rb1 Qa3 8.Nb5!, when the queen has no way to guard c7.

A Trap in the Marshall Defense #2

I invented another trap in the Marshall Defense to the Queen's Gambit. Continuing from the line given in the previous post (4...Nc6?!), White can vary with 6.d5!? Then 6...Nb8! is best. Most of my opponents on the Internet, however, have played 6...Nxe4?, expecting 7.dxc6? Qxd1+ 8.Kxd1 Nxf2+ 9.Kel Nxh1. However, 7.Be3! (guarding the f-pawn and threatening 8.dxc6) refutes this. Black loses the queen knight after 7...Nb4 8.Qa4+, or the king knight after 7...Nb8 8.Qa4+.

A Trap in the Marshall Defense #1

Frank Marshall, the U.S. Champion from 1909 to 1936, had some important ideas in the openings. The gambits named for him in the Ruy Lopez (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.c3 d5!?) and Semi-Slav (1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c6 4.e4 dxe4 5.Nxe4 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Qxd4 7.Bxb4 Qxe4+) remain theoretically critical even today. The defense to the Queen's Gambit named for him (1.d4 d5 2.c4 Nf6) has been less successful. It is never seen today in high-level play, though it remains a mainstay among lower-rated players.

The following game shows a nice trap that is often seen. After 3.cxd5! Nxd5, Marshall's idea was that the natural 4.e4?! Nf6 5.Nc3 e5! gives Black a reasonable game, since after 6.dxe5 Qxd1+, Black regains the pawn with 7.Nxd1 Nxe4 or 7.Kxd1 Ng4. Instead, 4.Nf3! prepares e4; on 4...Bf5, 5.Qb3 is awkward to meet. 4...Nc6, as in the game below, is inferior, but popular on the Internet. White's 5.e4 Nf6 6.Nc3 Bg4 7.d5! set a trap, which Black fell into with 7...Ne5?, allowing 8.Nxe5!, a pseudo-queen sacrifice that wins material by force. After 9.Bb5+, Black's best was the abject 9...Nd7 10.Bxd7+ Qxd7 11.Nxd7, leaving White a piece up in the endgame. Black's 9...c6? was even worse. After 11.cxb7+, Black resigned in the face of 11...Kd8 12.Nxf7# or 11...Nd7 12.bxa8(R)+ Qd8 13.Bxd7#.