Saturday, August 21, 2010

Interview with Alexander Khalifman

The former FIDE World Champion chats at Chess in Translation.

NM Steve Tennant wins South Suburban CC Game/15

National Master Steve Tennant had a perfect 3-0 score in last night USCF quick-rated event.  

You can follow the South Suburban Chess Club on Facebook.  They meet every Friday night from 7-10:30PM at the Oak View Community Center at 110th & Kilpatrick in Oak Lawn. Everyone is welcome!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Canal - Capablanca, Budapest 1929

There was one other game that made a deep impression on me in Chernev's Logical Chess: Move By Move.  In Canal-Capablanca, Budapest 1929, it sure looked like Capa was in trouble.  (And indeed FireBird suggests a moment or two where White may have missed an opportunity for advantage.)

Chernev is silent on White's big mistake:

Canal-Capablanca, Budapest 1929
After 31...Ra1
White to move

Black's next couple moves are fairly easy to predict: ...a3, ...a2, ...Rook moves somewhere (with check or attack), and ...a1=Q.  

How can White interfere with this plan? 

Friday catblogging

Here are some positions that my cats (of blessed memory) could have solved.  Well, Chloé could have solved them; Muffin was perhaps a bit too dense.

Today's theme is the "Perils of Pauline": the White king on b1 is tied to the railroad tracks, and ...Qb2 checkmate seems inevitable.  Your job: ride to the rescue!

Seriously, many of you may be stumped by some or even all of these.  Just keep in mind that every move must be a forcing move, and you'll eventually be able to figure them out!  (If you have problems, just leave a note in the comments.)

White to play and win

White to play and win

White to play and win

White to play and win

 White to play and win

 White to play and win

  White to play and win
  White to play and win

Learm these mating patterns!  In a real game, strong players don't have to calculate these mates from scratch.   They recognize the pattern and simply check to make sure that it works in the given position.

How to Beat Your Dad at Chess is one of several good books for learning these basic mates.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Learning from our losses

Matt Pullin messes up a promising position against Zach Kasiurak and uses his loss as the occasion for some constructive self-criticism.  Botvinnik would approve!

Cute miniature, cute story

Reigning Chicago Open champion Loek Van Wely got crushed by Hikaru Nakamura today at the NH Youth versus Experience tournament.  Before you read Ian Rogers's hilarious report on Chess Life Online, see if you can solve this quiz:

 White to play and win
(there are at least two solutions; which line is most forcing?)

Nakamura and Anish Giri are now tied for the youth lead, but Hikaru still has to play both Svidler and Gelfand....

Scholastic Section Sept. 4 at this year's Illinois Open!

We get email.  Jerry Neugarten writes:
As most of you know, one of the major events on the annual chess calendar is the Illinois Open, being held this year from September 4th to 6th in Oak Brook. This might be a good  warm-up for the coming scholastic season, including the Illinois All Grade championship on November 13th in Chicago.  Most young players won't be ready to play in the open sections (the lowest of which is for players under 1800), but there's a scholastic tournament on the first day (Saturday, September 4th). 

Although the scholastic event will be in a separate room, kids playing in that section, on their breaks, will be allowed to observe (and perhaps rub shoulders with) many top players, including Grandmasters Yury Shulman, Dmitry Gurevich and Nikola Mitkov, and International Masters Angelo Young and Florin Felecan. 

Details are at If you're interested in the scholastic event, click on "Scholastic Trophy Tournament" at the top.
In other email, my wife wants me to pick up a gallon of milk on the way home.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Holy mirror image, Batman!

The chess writer Tim Krabbé, whose wonderful Open Chess Diary Bill mentioned the other day, once wrote about a game in a simultaneous exhibition he had given that began 1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 e6?! 4.c4 Bb4+? 5.Ke2! Having moved only pawns and his king, Krabbé had a won game, since Black loses a piece after either 5...Ne7 6.a3 Ba5 7.b4 or 5...Nb6 6.c5 Nd5 7.a3 Ba5 8.b4. Unfortunately, at this point someone noticed that the king and queen had been set up wrong in the initial position, so Krabbé agreed to restart the game from scratch.

As the game below shows, one can trap Black's bishop exactly the same way on the kingside. After my 5.Qd2! Black was losing a piece just as in Krabbé's abortive game. Note also the variation 5...Ng6 6.f5 Ne5 7.h3 Bh5 8.g4 Nxg4?? (8...Bxg4 9.hxg4 Nxg4?? is similar) 9.Bb5+! c6 10.dxc6 and the dual threats of 11.cxb7+ and 11.c7+ are crushing.

The rest of my game was very uninteresting, alas, as my opponent hung all his pieces.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Steinitz's Immortal Game

Steinitz - von Bardeleben, Hastings 1895
White to play and win

Admittedly, Hastings 1895 doesn't have much to do with Chicago.  But hey, very cool notes by Kavalek!

Monday, August 16, 2010

A trap in the Kangaroo Defense

The opening 1.d4 e6 2.c4 Bb4+ is an unusual but perfectly sound defense. It can transpose to the Nimzo-Indian, Bogo-Indian, Dutch, Queen's Indian, or English Defense (1.c4 b6). It is sometimes known as the Keres Defense, since the young Paul Keres was fond of it, often as a prelude to a Dutch Defense. Watson and Schiller, in their excellent if suggestively titled The Big Book of Busts, call it the Kangaroo Defense for some reason. (Schiller is big on weird animal names for openings.) All minor piece interpositions are playable, but I've usually played 3.Nbd2, hoping to gain the bishop pair.

The above game is the second in which my opponent has found 3...d6??, losing either a bishop or a knight after 4.Qa4+! As this game illustrates, before moving a piece to an unguarded square you must always watch out for queen checks! For example, Qa4+ can vacuum up a knight on a5, a bishop or knight on b4, a knight on e4, a bishop on g4 (if ...e6 has been played, blocking the bishop's way home), etc. The theme of 1.Qa4+ (attacking a bishop on b4) Nc6 (forced to save the bishop) 2.d5 exd5 3.cxd5 winning the knight is a common one. It often fails if Black has a knight or a queen on f6 (allowing Black to save the day with 3...Nxd5 or 3...Bxc3+ 4.bxc3 Qxc3+ and 5...Qxa1, respectively).

Eric Rosen takes Evanston Rapid

Some patzer who shall remain nameless was three pawns up against Eric in a rook ending time scramble (hint: it was the person who said he could have beaten Nakamura in Friday's two-pawns-up rook ending), but somehow Eric had the better position when a draw was agreed....  Eric won all his other games to finish with 4.5-0.5.  Evgeny Bulushev, Dmitry Sergatskov, and Jonathan Kogen tied for second with 4 points. 

Crosstable here.  A lot of these youngsters are underrated by 100+ points (if you don't play in many quick events, then your quick rating will lag behind your "slow" rating).

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Grandmasters Shulman, Mitkov, Gurevich at 2010 Illinois Open!

I was cc'd on an email from Andi Rosen to the Warren Scholars:
Dear Warren Scholars and Families,
I wanted to encourage all of you to play in the upcoming Illinois Open on Labor Day Weekend, Sept. 4-6.  This promises to be the strongest Illinois Open in years, with three grandmasters—Yury Shulman, Dmitry Gurevich and Nikola Mitkov—planning on playing, as well as at least two IM's—Angelo Young and Florin Felecan.  In addition to cash prizes for high-scoring players at every rating level, all players with 3.5 points or more will win a $20 gift certificate to the onsite chess bookstore.  It's a good opportunity for the Warren Scholars to play very strong competition.  For more information and to register, go to
 Sounds like good advice for all of us!

Chicago Blaze: corrected date


The 110 most fantastic moves ever played an online collection by the fabulous Tim Krabbé.  (The link goes to fantastic moves 101-110; you'll find links to the rest of the list at the bottom of Krabbé's page.)

He really should have included Frederick Rhine's favorite move.  But all "best" lists are necessarily imperfect.  (Edited in a few hours later: in the comments, Frederick reminds me that Burn's move was only recently rediscovered by his chess biographer, Richard Forster, and that Krabbé himself said that it belonged near the top of his list. Krabbé discusses interference sacrifices similar to Burns's—check out the amazing move that Peoria native, and newly minted Life Master, Pete Karagianis dropped on a Grandmaster!  It's not a Novotny, and it doesn't win by force, but it's mighty purty.)

Karagianis-Anka, 2004 National Open
White to play and astound (though not necessarily win)

John Emms liberally "borrowed" from Krabbé's site for his 2000 book The Most Amazing Chess Moves of All Time.  On Krabbé's home page Chess Curiosities (where you'll find many days of fun reading) he refers to his 110 most fantastic moves collection as "his most frequently emmsed page." If you prefer books that aren't plagiarized, I can heartily recommend  Secrets of Spectacular Chess by Levitt and Friedgood.  (The first edition can be bought used for a pittance.)

Chicago Blaze season begins next Monday! Fundraiser tourney!

ICA Metro VP Mike Cardinale writes:
The first match of the Blaze season is Monday, August 23rd [note corrected date-BB] at 8:00 P.M. vs. the Seattle Sluggers, at the new North Shore Chess Center at 5500 W. Touhy, Suite A, in Skokie (just a few blocks west of their previous location at the Holiday Inn).
[N]ew this year will be a parallel rapid fund raising tournament with every Blaze match.  Here are the details from the website:
We will also be running in parallel to the Blaze matches, a Blaze fundraiser tournament each night the Blaze play. The tournaments will be USCF rated and feature a G/15+30/sec increment time control. The EF will be $20 per player. No chess center membership will be required for these events but all players must be USCF members. Depending on turnout this can be a one section tournament or a two section tournament. 100% of proceeds goes towards the Chicago Blaze.
You can also support the Blaze with a purchase of Blaze merchandise, through corporate sponsorship, or with a personal contribution.  Details at the new website:
Remember, you don't have to like the McCaskeys to be a Bears fan.  Support for the Blaze is a matter of civic pride.
I'm looking forward to seeing the McCaskeys' — oops, Sevan Muradian's — new North Shore Chess Center!

The most astounding move of all time

Cover up the moves in the game below and look at the diagrammed position. Amos Burn, one of the world's best players toward the end of the 19th century, playing Black, looks to be dead lost. White will regain his sacrificed piece and mate Black in short order, right? In this seemingly hopeless position, Burn found what I consider the most astounding move in chess history. (To clarify, I mean astounding good moves. No doubt there are lots of astounding bad moves - say, where White could have mated in one and instead played a move that allowed Black to mate White in one.) Do you see it?

Chess problemists will tell you that Burn's move 33 is an extremely rare example of the Novotny theme in actual play. That is, 33...Qg4!!! moves the queen to the square that is the intersection of the d1-h5 diagonal controlled by White's bishop, and the g-file, controlled by White's rook. If the rook captures the queen, it blocks the bishop, allowing 34...Nf3+ and 35...Nxd2. If the bishop captures the queen, it blocks the rook, allowing 34...Bxd2. There are two other plausible continuations: 33.hxg4? allows Black to win the queen either way, leaving him with an extra piece, and 33.Qxg5+? Qxg5 34.Rxg5+ Kh6 wins a piece for Black. Note that (as Burn pointed out) 33.Be4! would have deprived him of this resource, winning easily for White.

von Scheve - Teichmann, Berlin 1907

I suppose it would be appropriate to answer the question in the previous post: it was awfully hard!

Most beginner's books are full of errors like these--by no means does this mean that Logical Chess: Move By Move is a bad book. As Frederick Rhine noted in the previous comments, it wouldn't be surprising for a GM to make the same mistake.  (Chernev's error on move 8 is crude enough for me to notice without a computer, or for an alert beginner to catch.)

Resignation in a drawn position is fairly rare (I confess that I did it against NM William Aramil in 2001.)