Saturday, August 7, 2010

A trap in the Von Hennig-Schara Gambit

The Von Hennig-Schara Gambit is a tricky line in the Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch Defense that begins 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c5 4.cxd5 cxd4!? Now the game usually continues 5.Qxd4 (5.Qa4+ often transposes, but White should be aware of the wild 5...b5!?) Nc6 6. Qd1 cxd5 7.Qxd5 Bd7, when Black gets considerable play for the sacrificed pawn.

Fidlow's 5.dxe6?! can't really be recommended for serious games, since Black has a fine game after 5...Bxe6! But it does set a trap, which Maier fell into hook, line, and sinker. After 5...dxc3? 6.exf7+!, Black had to play 6...Ke7 to save his queen. Since 7.fxg8(Q) would allow Black to escape the worst with 7...Qxd1+! 8.Kxd1 Rxg8, White played the clever 7.fxg8(N)+! Now Black had to play 7...Ke8!, when White can choose between a two-pawns-up ending with 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 9.bxc3, or trying to hold onto his knight with 8.Qb3!? Instead, he played 7...Rxg8?? and resigned after 8.Bg5+, winning the queen.

The game presents an amusing riff on the more familiar "Lasker Trap" in the Albin Counter-Gambit (1.d4 d5 2.c4 e5!? 3.dxe5 d4 4.e3?! Bb4+ 5.Bd2 dxe3! 6.Bxb4? exf2+ 7.Ke2 fxg1(N)+! 8.Rxg1?? Bg4+).

Friday, August 6, 2010

A trap in the Slav

After 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Bg4?! (3...Nf6 is normal) 4.Ne5 Bh5 5.Qb3!, Black must play 5...Qc8! As the game below shows, the natural 5...Qb6? is a fatal blunder.

First Saturday tournament at Touch Move tomorrow!

4 rounds, ten bucks.  Such a deal!

Details here.

...Qa5+ claims another victim

Even GMs hang pieces to ...Qa5+.

Sometimes you've got to break the rules

White to play and mate in two moves (using Basterot rules)

I'd never heard this story told quite this way.  The sick thing is that I solved all three problems in about a minute (I'd seen the first Kubbel problem before).

Are "fairy chess" problems of any use to the practical player?  Anything that encourages leaps of imagination can't be all bad!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Jazzercise, then chess

From the local Harwood Heights / Norridge paper:
Mather's-More Than a Cafe, 7134 W. Higgins Ave., Chicago, invites adults 55 and older to experience professionally taught, free moderately-priced programs such as lifelong learning programs, fitness classes, free blood-pressure checks and health screenings, free consumer seminars, special-interest workshops and special events and day trips. Call (773) 774-4804.Chess Club for checkmate champs and new people who want to learn the rules and basic strategies. Sessions are Wednesdays, at 1 p.m. Jazzercise - A fitness program that combines aerobic exercises with elements of jazz dance. A series of dance routines is set to popular music while incorporating yoga, Pilates, cardio-kickboxing, and other fitness styles. The classes move incrementally through different intensity levels, so anyone is welcome to join. Classes are held at 11 a.m. Wednesdays, $5.35.....

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Illinois Chess Association Newsletter!

Fresh from my email inbox!

Illinois Chess Association Newsletter 

August 4, 2010

New Prizes at the 2010 Illinois Open

Two prizes have been added to the prize list:
-- Plus Score certificates worth $20 in merchandise will be awarded.
-- Free three month memberships (or extentions) will be given to all main event registrants who send us an email with their contact details and USCF number.
GM Yuri Shulman, GM Dmitry Gurevich, GM Nikola Mitkov, IM Angelo Young and IM Florin Felecan will all compete for the title of Illinois Open Champion for 2010. A group of dedicated Illinois chess patrons has put together a modest support fund to pay the entry fees and offer a bit extra to these outstanding players. If you would like to join us in supporting the titled players of Illinois contact Carl Dolson or Tom Sprandel.
September 4, 2010 - September 6, 2010
Two Day and Three Day Schedules Available
DoubleTree Hotel: 1909 Spring Road , Oakbrook, Illinois 60523
(630) 472-6020, (630) 472-6000 (code C-CHE)


Open Section
Reserve Section
Saturday Scholastic U1000 Trophy Tournament (side event)
Saturday Evening G/25 (side event)

Entry Fees for main events: $79 pre-entry, $90 at door.
For full details see

ICA Governance Takes a Step Forward

With the appointment of Mike Cardinale to Metro VP, we now have a full board, five executive officers and five additional directors. The board is ballanced by region and by focus on youth and adult chess.
Tom Sprandel, President
Michael Cardinale, Metro VP
David Long, Down State VP
Maret Thorpe, Secretary
Carl Dolson, Treasurer
Bill Barton, Director
Bill Brock, Director
Andi Rosen, Director and Chair, Warren Junior Scholars Program
Jerry Neugarten, Director and Chair, ICA Youth Committee
Garrett Scott, Director and Chair, ICA Bid Committee
The board usually meets twice a month by phone conference. Frequent meetings and sharing of views helps keep things moving forward.

Constitution and Bylaws being Updated

We're in the final stage of revising and updating our governance documents. Most of the changes are minor or involve re-organizing, simplifying and streamlining. We expect to have the changes finished and posted on our website by the end of this month.

Youth Committee makes proposal to Chicago Public Schools

Our Youth Committee, with approval from the Board, has proposed a major upgrade in the chess program in Chicago’s public schools and offered to take the lead in planning a new program targeted to students in the city’s Title 1 schools. The proposal is outlined in a four-page report entitled “Why Not Chicago?” sent to the office of CEO Ron Huberman on July 9. The proposal was requested by Mr. Huberman’s office a month earlier. It outlines the research on the benefits of chess for kids and details thriving programs in other U.S. cities. Based on experience elsewhere, the proposal says the Chicago program could be run on a budget of $300,000 to $400,000, but would not require direct financial assistance from CPS or the city. It lists other organizations which have offered to partner with ICA in planning and running the program.
The proposal is available at

USCF charges Affiliates with Selecting Delegates

The US Chess Federation has given the responsibilty for selecting delegates to its state affiliates. Starting in 2011 the ICA will appoint the delegates who will represent Illinois chess players at the USCF annual business meeting.
We will post a notice on as soon as we know where the 2011 meeting will be held. Those who want to serve must be willing to travel to the business meeting at their own expense. We anticipate that Illinois will continue to send six delegates.
The ICA Board will select the delegates. Selections will be based on demonstrated commitment to ICA and USCF as gauged by the length of the applicant’s membership in ICA and USCF and the degree of their active participation. Participation includes but is not limited to organizing, promoting, writing articles, directing and playing in tournaments, participation on committees, and attendance at meetings. An effort will be made to ensure geographic balance in the selection of delegates and alternates.

Annual Meeting and Banquet Scheduled for Nov 7th

The meeting is at 11:00 a.m. and the Banquet is from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Buca di Beppo -- 90 Yorktown Road -- Lombard, IL USA 60148
The Banquet will honor Helen Warren, who has won the ICA's Broughton Award for outstanding service to chess in Illinois.
Mark your calendars. More details will follow.

Election of Officers Coming this fall

Executive board offices are up for election this fall. That includes the offices of President, Metro VP, Downstate VP, Secretary, and Treasurer. It does not include the remaining five board positions, which will be up for election next year.
Nomination procedures and deadlines will be published shortly. If you are thinking of running you should begin collecting your nominations now. It takes the recommendation of ten ICA members who are in good standing to get your name on the ballot (email nominations will be accepted, assuming the constitutional revisions are approved by the Board this month.)
If your membership has expired, renew now. You must be a member of the ICA to vote, and you must be nineteen years of age.

Chris Merli, New ICA Membership Secretary

I'm pleased to announce that Chris has volunteered to serve as Membership Secretary. It takes a lot of work to keep the ICA running. As one of our board members keeps telling me, it takes people, people, people, and money. She's so right. Thanks, Chris, for stepping up.
On January 1, 2009 we had 168 current members. We reached 321 in June of this year and hope to continue the upward trend. Our current membership list is on the website. The web page list is powered by the same database we use to record memberships, so it's always up to date.
Go to and then click on "Membership". You can join or renew from that page using Paypal or a credit card. You can check your renewal date by clicking on "Membership List".

Website Anniversary

It's been one year since we switched from static HTML pages to Joomla. For the uninitiated, Joomla is a content management system (like blog software on steroids). It's open-source (read free) and is very poplular. Switching to Joomla has allowed more people to contribute to the page.
Have an urge to write? Want your own byline? Contact Maret Thorpe,
Tom Sprandel

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A trap in the QGD, Baltic Defense

The Baltic Defense to the Queen's Gambit Declined (1.d4 d5 2.c4 Bf5) is very sharp. It is frequently seen on the Internet, in my experience mostly from people who don't know what they're doing. The theoretically critical move is 3.Qb3!?, aiming to exploit the bishop's absence from the queenside, and threatening both 4.Qxb7 and 4.cxd5. The only good response is the startling 3...e5!, leading to wild play. White often wins two or three pawns while Black gets a big lead in development. One line that White should emphatically avoid is 4.cxd5 exd4 5.Nf3 Bc5 6.Nxd4? Bxd4 7.Qa4+ Nc6! 8.dxc6 b5! 9.Qxb5 Ne7 with a huge lead in development for just one pawn, as Ward-Rausis, 1992 (0-1, 17!). Better is 6.Qc4 Nd7 7.Nxd4 Qh4 8.e3 Bxd4 9.Qxd4 Qxd4 10.exd4 Ngf6 11.Nc3 Nb6 112,d6 cxd6 1/2-1/2, Hracek-Bagirov, Brno 1991. I recommend instead 4.Qxb7 Nd7 5.dxe5!, which has scored well for White, for example 5...Nxe5 6.Qxd5 Bd6 7.Nc3 Nf6 8.Qd1 and White eventually exploited his material advantage in Koch-Haselhorst, Muenster open 1989.

Usually my Internet opponents haven't found 3...e5!, and instead have played something weak like (a) 3...Bxb1 4.Qxb7! Nd7 5.Rxb1 e5 6.Nf3! Rb8 7.Qxa7 e4 8.Nd2 e3 9.fxe3 Bb4 10.g3 Ngf6 11.Bh3! O-O (11...Ne4 12.Qa4!) 12.O-O Qe7 13.Nf3 and White successfully consolidated his material advantage in Skyva-Joukl, Czechoslovakia (ch) 1973; (b) 3...b6 4.cxd5 Bxb1 (4...Nf6 5.Nc3, followed by f3 and e4 if necessary, keeps the extra pawn) 5.Rxb1 Nf6 6.e4! Nxe4 7.Bb5+ Nd7 8.Nf3 f6 9.0-0 a6 10.Bc6 Ra7 11.Re1 Nd6 12.Bf4 g6 13.Qe3 Qc8 14.Nh4! Kd8 15.Bh6 1-0 Campos Vila-Miranda Llanes, Cuba 2009; (c) 3...dxc4? 4.Qxb7 Nd7 5.Nc3 e6 6.e4 Bg6 7.Bxc4 Nb6 8.Bb5+ Nd7 9.Bxd7+! Kxd7 10.Nf3 Be7 11.Ne5+ Ke8 12.Qc6+ Kf8 13.Nd7+ 1-0 Rhine-N.N., Internet blitz 2010; or (d) 3...Nc6? - see above game.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Round 3, continued

Rosen - Bowersock, round 3

Rosen - Bowersock
Denker Tournament of Champions, Round 3
White to play: what's the best move?

Eric lost a seesaw battle to the Michigan champion in Round 3.

The computer found a cute shot here for White.  (The idea is not that hard: what move is White dying to play?  How can White make this dream move possible?)  But the followup is rather messy.

Eric Rosen at Denker Tournament of Champions - Round 1

White gets a horrible pawn structure in this opening, which makes converting the ending nontrivial.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

How Not to Play Against the Falkbeer Counter-Gambit

If you're going to play an opening as sharp as the King's Gambit, you'd better know what you're doing. If not, you might just lose the shortest game of a Chess Olympiad (see below). After 3...Qh4+, White is losing at least a rook, after 4.g3 Qxe4+ 5.Qe2(!) Qxh1.

Incidentally, I once saw a tournament game where Black played 1.e4 e5 2.f4 Nc6!? (unusual, but playable; one idea is the countergambit 3.Nf3 f5!? invented by Miles). Now White innocently played 3.fxe5?? and Black just as innocently responded 3...Nxe5??, missing the crushing 3...Qh4+!

ADDENDUM: Incredibly, it seems that after 2...Nc6 3.fxe5??,
over 80% of players have played 3...Nxe5??