Friday, June 18, 2010

Saturday in Joliet: US Game / 15 Championship!

More info here!  Each player has 15 minutes to play the game.  With six games to play, Chicagoans can leave the city at 9 a.m. (registration ends at 10:50 a.m, but please don't come at the last minute!) and be home for dinner by 6 p.m.  

Rumor has it that the reigning US Game/30 co-champion may play: appearance fees are still being negotiated.

"Chess under attack in Bay Area"

Chicago native Daaim Shabazz reports in The Chess Drum.

I think the comparison between Market Street in San Francisco and Harper Court in Chicago's Hyde Park is apt.  Chess is integral to the urban landscape: it shouldn't be confined to the lakefront.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A miniature

Dean Arond, whom I have known since we were on opposing high school chess teams over 30 years ago, recently won the following amusing tournament game against a player who shall remain nameless.

A trap in the Kan Sicilian

Continuing with the theme of unexpected queen checks, after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 (the Kan Sicilian), White can play almost anything: 5.Nc3, 5.c4, 5.Bd3, 5.Be2, 5.Be3, 5.g3, etc. Er, almost anything except 5.Bf4??, that is. Black wins a piece with 5...e5! (forking bishop and knight) 6.Bxe5 Qa5+ (forking king and bishop), winning the bishop.

Felecan wins 26th North American Masters

International Master Florin Felecan took first in the 26th North American Masters, held in Skokie on May 7-9 and June 11-13, with an impressive 7½-2½ score.

International Masters Angelo Young and Arjun Vishnuvardhan tied for second with 6½ points each.

NMs Gauri Shankar, Trevor Magness, and Jon Burgess were competing for International Master norms, but the IMs were not very accommodating in this event.    (Due to a family emergency, Burgess was unable to play the final four games.)

Sevan Muradian of the North American Chess Association organized and directed.

Crosstable here!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


The (in)famous Shirazi-Peters game, the shortest-ever decisive game in a U.S. Championship, provides another example of a queen check and fork leading to a quick win. After 1.e4 c5 2.b4?! (the dubious Wing Gambit) cxb4 3.a3 d5! 4.exd5 Qxd5, Shirazi fell into the known trap 5.axb4?? After 5...Qe5+, forking his king and rook, he resigned. IM Shirazi, a very strong player whose style may have been too "coffeehouse" for the U.S. Championship, went on to score .5-16.5 in the Championship. (In fairness, he played in other U.S. Championships, doing much better in some of the others.)

Beware of queen checks!

Many, many opening traps involve a surprise queen check that picks up an errant piece. This includes the shortest decisive master game in history (apart from no-move forfeits, 1.c4 Resigns and such), given below. Black's 3...Qa5+ forks White's king and bishop, winning the latter. If you look at big databases, you'll see that this trap has also occurred a number of times since. Occasionally White has even drawn the game, despite dropping a clear piece on move 3! The website (highly recommended; it allows you free access to a 3.5 million game database) has seven games with this trap, two of which ended in draws!! The Black players who only drew were rated 2259 and 2199. These games provide further proof of the truth of the adages, "You can't win [or even draw] by resigning." and "The hardest thing in chess is to win a won game."

A trap in the Vienna Game

The trap below has caught a number of players over the years. After 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bc4, 3...Nxe4 is the well-known "fork trick," envisioning 4.Nxe4 d5, when Black regains the piece with equality. More common is the sharp 4.Qh5! (attacking both f7 and e5) Nd6 (virtually forced) 5.Bb3 (5.Qxe5+ is equal). Then Black can choose between the solid 5...Be7 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.Nxe5 0-0, and the wild sacrificial line 5...Nc6!? 6.Nb5! g6 (6...Nxb5?? 7.Qxf7#) 7.Qf3! f5 8.Qd5! Qe7 (8...Qf6!? is also playable) 9.Nxc7+ Kd8 10.Nxa8 b6, which Eric Schiller christened the "Frankenstein-Dracula Variation."

White's 4.Bxf7+?!, as in the game below, isn't very good unless Black falls into the trap in this game. After 4...Kxf7 5.Nxe4, Black should play 5...d5!, meeting 6.Qf3+ with 6...Kg8! 7.Ng5 Qd7!, when Black has the bishop pair, his king is safe, he owns the center and will soon drive back White's pieces. After the plausible 5...Nc6?! 6.Qf3+! Kg8?? (6...Ke8!) 7.Ng5! Black is suddenly lost. White has the terrible dual threats of 8.Qf7# and 8.Qd5#, and 7...Qxg5 8.Qd5# doesn't help.

The British chess writer G.H. Diggle wrote an amusing account of having lost a club match game this way (Davids-Diggle, London 1949) in all of two minutes, while his teammates' games were just getting started. His later investigation revealed the same game had been played in 1899 between Imbusch and Goering (see Irving Chernev's 1000 Best Short Games of Chess, p. 6) and that the British Chess Magazine in 1901 had described 6...Kg8?? as "a common blunder in this and similar positions."

Monday, June 14, 2010

One downside of playing in out-of-state events

A reliable correspondent writes:
A moment of sympathy for Jim Egerton.  He comes all the way to Las Vegas to play chess.  He has to schedule a bye for Sunday evening to catch his plane back.  His opponent Sunday morning never showed up.  Not a very chess eventful day for Jim.
In multiple-section events, there will usually be someone else in another section with a similar problem.  So if one seeks out the TD, then one might be able to play a game (though probably not at the original time control; it takes one hour to claim the forfeit).

A trap in the Robatsch

I managed to pull off the amusing trap below in an Internet game about a month ago. (My game began 1.d4 d6 2.Nf3 Nd7 3.e4.) Note that after 5.Bxf7+! Kxf7?? (5...Kf8! is best) 6.Ng5+, Black loses either his king (as in the game) or queen (after 6...Kf8 7.Ne6+ or 6...Ke8 7.Ne6, smothered mating the queen). On move 4, Black should have averted the bishop sac with 4...e6!, intending to play the Hippopotamus Defense with ...Bg7, ...Ne7, ...b6, etc.

Dimitri Kosteris wins big at National Open

This past weekend in Vegas, Dimitri scored a wonderful 5.5 in six games.  Welcome to Class A!

Hat tip to Daniel Parmet at on the ICA Forum.

GM Timur Gareev took first overall: story at Chess Life Online.

Alpha nerd alert!

(And when there's a nerd alert on a chess blog, you KNOW it's alpha nerdy!)

The path planning and promotion features are impressive/hilarious.

This LEGO Mindstorms set will be at the Brickworld convention here in Chicago this coming weekend, June 17-20!

L.A. Times on Chicago Open

Jack Peters reports.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Matt Pullin explains a very nice pawn endgame study. I guessed the first two moves immediately, but it took me awhile to fathom the point.