Saturday, December 31, 2011

A nice New Year's present

If you're rated over 1700 (or want to be!), or if you enjoy endgame studies, or simply enjoy beautiful chess positions, here's the PGN file for you!

Dr. Harold van der Heijden, the editor of EG magazine, sells his collection of over 76,000 endgame studies for 50 EUR. I've had HHdbIV, the fourth edition, for a couple of days, and am really enjoying it!

M. Kleiman  
Chess Life and Review, 1968 
White to play and win 

This one is very amusing!

Final standings, 27th North American Masters

Unofficial, with FIDE ratings (hat tip to Keith Ammann).  GM Mesgen Amanov wins the Schiller System event comfortably, while FM Gauri Shankar and NM Adarsh Jayakumar score IM norms.  I believe that one doesn't get the IM title until one gets one's FIDE rating over 2400, so both Gauri and Adarsh have their work cut out for them.

Official results (with USCF ratings) are now up on MSA!

 #    Name            Rtng Rd1  2   3   4   5    6  7   8   9   Tot
 1 Mesgen Amanov      2524 W3  D2  D4  W12 D10 W11 W6  W8  W9  7.5
 2 Adarsh Jayakumar   2197 W5  D1  W7  L6  D8  D9  W12 W10 W11 6.5
 3 Gauri Shankar      2274 L1  D7  W5  W9  W6  D8  W10 D11 W12 6.5
 4 Eric S Rosen       2305 L7  D5  D1  W8  W9  W6  D11 D12 W10 6.0
 5 Angelo Young       2350 L2  D4  L3  W11 W12 D10 W8  D9  D6  5.0
 6 Aung Thant Zin     2300 D10 W11 D12 W2  L3  L4  L1  W7  D5  4.5
 7 Arjun Vishnuvardan 2308 W4  D3  L2  D10 D11 W12 D9  L6  D8  4.5
 8 Nikhilesh Kumar    2249 W12 D10 W11 L4  D2  D3  L5  L1  D7  4.0
 9 Trevor S Magness   2154 D11 W12 D10 L3  L4  D2  D7  D5  L1  3.5 
10 Albert C Chow      2205 D6  D8  D9  D7  D1  D5  L3  L2  L4  3.0 
11 Dan Wolf           2259 D9  L6  L8  L5  D7  L1  D4  D3  L2  2.0 
12 Matthew Waller     2257 L8  L9  D6  L1  L5  L7  L2  D4  L3  1.0

No cigar

FM Albert Chow has beaten his share of grandmasters over the years.  He can't quite reel in GM Mesgen Amanov in this game:

Nakamura leads Reggio Emilia

...and is currently #5 in the world on the "live" list!

The gap between the top four and the closely bunched pack at 5 through 10 is substantial, but Hikaru is making progress. for more details and full list

 Mark Crowther reports on today's wild Nakamura-Ivanchuk game.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Congratulations to NM Adarsh Jayakumar!

Adarsh also made it to the magical 6½-2½ necessary to earn an IM norm, his first!

Here's the crucial Round 9 game.White wins material out of the opening, but has to deal with the "meh" bishop vs. good knight conversion issue.  Adarsh finds an energetic solution to the problem.

Congratulations to FM Gauri Shankar!

It's not yet official, but Gauri appears to have earned his second IM norm at the 27th North American Masters!

Later today, NM Adarsh Jayakumar will play his postponed Round 5 game. A draw in that game will give him his first IM norm!

From Facebook: "I won and I played one of the best chess games I've ever played today!"

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Liz Garbus's Fischer documentary on YouTube

Here's an embedded link to the BBC 4 documentary Genius and Madman (released in the USA by HBO as Bobby Fischer Against the World).

Essential viewing!

Another good fight

FM Nikhilesh Kumar neutralized Eric Rosen's anti-Grünfeld system and had a pleasant middlegame advantage. But if you have to trade punches with Eric Rosen, try to stay out of the endgame. Very impressive play by Eric!

Another Bogo-Indian

Illinois Co-Champion FM Aung Thant Zin knows how to make his opponent suffer!
Stop by the North Shore Chess Center to catch the action! Rounds are at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Fighting chess

Congratulations to NM Adarsh Jayakumar, who became a United States citizen yesterday! 

Adarsh and IM Arjun Vishnuvardhan had a fun brawl on Tuesday.  Arjun makes me want to start playing the Bogo-Indian: he was very close to putting the game away.  But Adarsh slipped away to a tenable ending, Arjun pushed too hard, and....

(Updated to correct scoresheet transcription error.)

Mitkov leads North American Open

Local Grandmaster Nikola Mitkov is tied for first with four other GMs (including Spanish super-GM Vallejo) at the North American Open at Bally's Casino Resort in Las Vegas. 

Standings are here.  FM Aleksandar Stamnov is tied for first in the Under 2300 section, and Jim Egerton has a perfect 4-0 in the Under 1900 section.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

More from Monday: Young 0 - Jayakumar 1

NM Adarsh Jayakumar won two games and drew GM Mesgen Amanov.  A round four loss doesn't help his hunt for an International Master norm: he needs to score 4-1 in the final five games.

Here's how he beat IM Angelo Young in the first round:

Updated to correct scoresheet transcription error: Adarsh writes, "I played 7...Qc7 against Angelo. Qe7??? haha."

Play continues Wednesday at the North Shore Chess Center, with rounds at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.

More of Monday's action

NM Matthew Waller plays a critical modern continuation, then improvises.  Only a couple moves out of theory, NM Trevor Magness gets a winning position with the Black pieces.  Fear the Marshall Gambit!

Play at the 27th North American Masters resumes tomorrow at 1 p.m.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Today's Round 1 action: 27th North American Masters

Black against Grandmaster Mesgen Amanov is the second-toughest pairing possible in Illinois!  FIDE Master Gauri Shankar almost made it to a tenable endgame.  But not quite....

Round 2 is wrapping up right now; Round 3 begins at 1 p.m. tomorrow.

More holiday puzzles

Ottó Bláthy, The Chess Amateur, 1922
White to play and win

NM Adarsh Jayakumar showed me this problem when he was ten years old.  (His teacher, IM Stan Smetankin, had given it to him for homework.)

If you enjoy this problem, Steven Dowd's latest column in Chess Life Online has similar fun stuff!  As you've doubtless already learned from your PlayStation or Xbox, sometimes a king and one other piece can take out an entire army.

Yule enjoy these puzzles

It's time for the ChessBase Christmas Puzzles 2011!

I found the "obvious" (and cute) solution to today's puzzle, but I admit to being stumped by the "Black's best defence" hint.  There is no way for Black to lose a tempo, is there?

Aha: NM Pete Karagianis posted a link to the answer on his Facebook page.  I didn't take the variation deep enough.

Tkachiev interviews Anand

World Champion Viswanathan Anand
Photo: Irina Stepaniuk for WhyChess

Another great WhyChess interview!  (Hat tip to Chicago's strongest vegan, NM Gopal Menon, who was disappointed that Vishy isn't a true vegetarian.)

Still another silly Internet game

Black in this blitz game played the dubious Symmetrical or Austrian Variation against the Queen's Gambit (1.d4 d5 2.c4 c5?!). My 5.Nc3! is a well-known trick leading to a White advantage after either 5...Qa5 6.Nxd4 or, as played, 5...Qd8 6.Qxd4, heading for a favorable ending. Black's 7...a6? is a known blunder, allowing the very strong 8.Nd5! At move 10, possibly even stronger was 10.Be3, when Hook-Marumo, Novi Sad ol 1990 continued 10...e5 11.Nc2 Bf5 12.O-O-O+ Ke8 13.Nd5 b6 14.Bxb6, winning a pawn for starters. In my game, Black's 11...Nxb6?? gave me a choice of amusing mates.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Magnus Carlsen interview

Evgeny Atarov interviewed Magnus for my favorite Russian site, You'll find an English translation of highlights on WhyChess. Interesting stuff!

27th North American Masters begins Monday!

Come watch our local masters in search of international title norms.  GM Mesgen Amanov, IM Angelo Young, and IM Arjun Vishnuvardhan face of against local stars Kumar, Aung Thant Zin, Rosen, Jayakumar, Chow, Waller, Wolf, Shankar, and Magness!  (But please don't ask me to explain the Schiller System format.)

Rounds are at 1 and 6 p.m. this Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday;  there's one game on Friday at 1 p.m.  All action is at the North Shore Chess Center in Skokie.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Ron Paul on Bobby Fischer

Not the greatest topic for the holiday season, but it's timely.

Noted without comment (see "Spassky vs. Who?" on the pdf).  The reader is invited to draw his or her own conclusions.  The site is hosted by The New Republic.  Context here and here.  (Watching the Garbus documentary wouldn't hurt, either.)

2012 Illinois Tour kicks off with Tim Just's Winter Open XXVIII

See you January 7-8 in Oak Brook!  The prize fund is $4,175 based on 125 players (50% guaranteed).

Details here!

Enter by January 4th to save money!

There's also the 2012 Winter Scholastic on January 7th.

Liz Garbus's Bobby Fischer documentary now on YouTube

Via ChessCafe, which I really don't link to as often as this excellent site deserves.  (This is not a permalink.)

Well worth 87 minutes of your time.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Another great chess app for iPad / iPhone

e+Chess is a chess book reader that comes with one free title, Capablanca's Chess Fundamentals. (This is the same book I started to excerpt on this blog and will get around to finishing someday: it's out of copyright.) As you might imagine, displaying both the text of a chess book and an interactive chess board is a bit much on an iPhone, but it's legible in landscape mode.

Here's a screen capture from my iPhone: I touch "1.f5" on the left side (the text of the book), and the move is made on the board. And I can shuffle the pieces investigating my own variations (as long as the moves are legal). Cool.

Here's a screen capture from my iPad: as you can see, there's a lot more room on the larger screen.

Silman's Complete Endgame Course is available in this format for $17.99. You're much more likely to study the iPad version than the paperback! But unless you absolutely love your iPhone, I wouldn't buy the book to read on the tiny platform: just too darn small. But that's not the fault of this great app.  There are even nuggets of Silman's wisdom sprinkled through the text as audio files.    To be clear, e+Chess falls far short of the true multimedia available through ChessBase, but this is a promising start.

There's also a Valeri Beim book on middlegame strategy available in this format (Beim is one of my favorite authors, but I'm not familiar with this book), and a few oddball titles.  It remains to be seen how popular this format becomes (e+Chess could go the way of Betamax).  And the serious player is more likely to get more utility from ChessBase or PGN formats.  But ease of consumption is a strong counterargument: the platform looks very promising to me!

If you own an iPad and you want to join Vince Hart in studying Silman's Complete Endgame Course (an excellent book for anyone from complete beginning to aspiring master), you can't go wrong downloading e+Chess.  If you own an iPhone, download it anyway, if only to read a free interactive copy of Chess Fundamentals, one of the greatest chess books ever written.  But I wouldn't spend money on content unless you're buying for the iPad.

White to play 

As long as we're on this page, here's a famous passage.  Capa writes, "In the above position White can't win by 1.f5.  Black's best answer would be 1...g6, draws.  (The student should work this out.)"  Your thoughts, students?

Capablanca shoulda been a physicist

From Wikipedia: "According to Capablanca, he learned the rules of the game at the age of four by watching his father play, pointed out an illegal move by his father, and then beat his father twice."

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Checking distance in K,R & P vs. K & R

After some embarrassing play at the Illinois Class, I have decided to take another run at getting basic endgame theory straight in my head.  Since I figure an expert should know Philidor and Lucena, I'm starting with King, Rook and Pawn vs. King and Rook.  My resources in this endeavor are Fundamental Chess Endings by Muller & Lamprecht, Batsford Chess Endings by Speelman, Tisdal & Wade, Comprehensive Chess Endings by Averbakh, Silman's Complete Endgame Course by some guy whose name I don't remember, and the 5-piece tablebase in ChessBase 8.

Here is a position from Batsford Chess Endings (p. 334) which I have looked at in the past.  1...Re1 is the only move that saves the draw for Black, and the reason given by BCE is "This move stops the e-pawn's advance after Ra8+ Kf7."

Here's the kind of position I might find myself playing as White in a tournament with my time running low.  I vaguely recall the position from BCE so I am somewhat encouraged when my opponent plays 1...Rg1+.  I'm not sure it's a blunder, but I'm pretty sure that 1...Rf1 would have drawn.

After 2.Kf6 Kg8 3.Ra8+ Kh7 4.Kf7, I am once again encouraged when my opponent plays 4...Rc1 because I know that checking distance is important and that his rook would be better off on the b-file.  So I play 5.f6 Rc7+ 6.Ke6 Rc6+ 7.Ke7 Rc7+ 8.Kd6.

Then my opponent suddenly scoots off with 8...Rb7! and I am left wondering whether I missed something or whether I never really had anything in the first place.  If I am lucky, I still hold the draw.  If not, my time runs out while I'm trying to figure out what happened.

So let's go back to the first position where 1...Re1 is necessary according to BCE because it "stops the e-pawn's advance."  This reason now strikes me as just plain wrong.  The tablebase tells me that the Black can draw even if the pawn advances to e7.  The reason 1...Re1 draws isn't because it stops the pawn from advancing.  The reason is that it forces White to bring his rook to e8 which allows the Black rook to take the a-file!  2.Ke6 Kf8 3.Ra8+ Kg7 4.Re8 Ra1!  1...Rd1+? loses to 2.Ke6 Kf8 3.Ra8+ Kg7 4.Ke7 Rb1 5.e6 Rb7+ 6.Kd6 Rb6+ 7. Kd7 Rb7+ 8.Kc6 when the Black rook can't scoot away.  BCE's comment that "the rook is misplaced on d1" isn't particularly instructive either.

The example in the second diagram actually comes from Fundamental Chess Endings rather than one of my games.  It gives 1...Rf1 as best but says. "1...Rg1+ is less accurate as White can penetrate further . . . although this still isn't sufficient to win."  I think that sentence would be much better if it ended with "because the Black rook still has adequate checking distance on the side."  It's not that BCE, FCE, and CCE don't mention checking distance frequently, it's that they don't cite it as the reason for a move when it plainly seems to be.

I would be very happy if anyone else would like share their experiences trying to learn these types of endings.  I feel like being able to articulate a better explanation for a move than I find in any of my books is itself a real step forward.  Of course, the test will come the next time I have to play one of these positions in a game.

Monday, December 19, 2011

More games from the Illinois Class

Opinions are like, er, belly buttons: everybody's got one.  More annotations here!  Your corrections and comments are always welcome.

Look for another batch later this week!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Profoundly embarrassing!

I heard a report Thursday that was confirmed yesterday. Prize checks from last weekend's Illinois Class Championships issued by Mikhail Korenman's IntECS, Inc., were returned unpaid, marked "Account Closed." Mikhail Korenman is currently out of the country and will return on December 22nd.

There may be a reasonable explanation for this.  Or not. Whatever the cause, the Illinois Chess Association is profoundly embarrassed that this happened in one of its championship events, and yesterday, ICA board members voted unanimously to pay the prizewinners in full and to reimburse them for any returned item or other bank fees that they may have incurred.

Sevan Muradian has recreated the prizewinners' list for me, and ICA Treasurer Carl Dolson will have checks in the mail as soon as he has contact info for the prizewinners.

EDIT: I have email addresses for fourteen prizewinners: please drop me a line with your mailing address.

Again, our apologies!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Illinois Class Championships: Under 1000 and Under 700

These two sections were listed as Game/75, but try to get kids to think about anything for seventy-five minutes.  Pairings were made as soon as the previous round was completed, and the five-round event was done before the other sections began round two! 

Kyle Kras took clear first in the Under 1000 section with a 3½-1½ score; Giorgi Vanderway, James Calcagno, and Ankush Moolky tied for second with 3-2.

Daniel Polski swept the Under 700 section with a perfect 5-0!  Alexander Smirnov lost only to Polski and took clear second with 4-1.

Illinois Class Championships: Classes C, D, and E

Congratulations to Jonathan Hrach for winning clear first in Class C with 3½ points and picking up 90 ELO points in the process.  Cristian Peña took clear second with 3-1. In Class D, Anthony Gasunas drew his first game, then reeled off three in a row for 3½ points and the title. His Round 1 opponent, Richard Lewis, took clear second with 3-1 and gained 80 ELO. Class E was a bit of a bloodbath, as there were no undefeated players. Shereya Mangalam lost Round 1, then won three straight to execute a perfect Swiss Gambit: Shereya's 3-1 took the undisputed title. George Ries, Robert Kunke, Douglas Campbell, and Brian Suganraj finished in a four-way tie for second at 2½-1½.

"Local organizer to bring in best young chess players in the world to suburbs"

Awonder Liang (photo: Jeff Vorva, Chicago Tribune)

Patzer doesn't shave, wears flannel shirt, finds photo in paper
(photo: Jeff Vorva, Chicago Tribune)
Jeff Vorva reports.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Basic Drawing Technique in King, Rook and Rook's Pawn v. King and Rook

Consider the following two positions which were inspired by Robert Moskwa's game at the Illinois Class with World Under 8 Champion Awonder Liang. White has just checked the Black king with his rook and Black has the choice of moving away from the White king and pawn with 1...Kd7 or towards them with 1...Kb6. The only difference is that the White rook is on c4 in the first and c3 in the second.  Both positions are theoretical draws if Black makes the correct choice. See if you can figure out what the right move is in each case before you look at the analysis on my blog.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Illinois Class Championships: Classes A and B

Classes A and B were combined.  15-year-old Nathaniel Kranjc of Wheaton (a 2011 ICA Warren Scholar) won the tournament (and Class A) with a 4-0 score.  Eight-year old David Peng of Northbrook (another 2011 ICA Warren Scholar, and one of several veterans of the just-completed World Youth Championships in Brazil) took clear second with a 3-1 score.

The winners of Class B were one of Chicago's finest, Dmitri Kosteris (adults can play chess, too!), Brian Harrigan of Indiana, and Rachel Ulrich of Wisconsin, a home-schooled sixth-grader.  (Rachel and I compared our age-ten-ratings last year: divide her rating by two, and you'll get my original rating.)

Look for games on the ICA website in the next few days!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Nakamura clear second in London!

The tournament is over (Nakamura beat Adams, all other games drawn.)  Final scores (unofficial):

Kramnik 16
Nakamura 15
Carlsen 14
McShane 13
Anand 9
Aronian 9
Short 6
Howell 4
Adams 3

Update: Nakamura won with the King's Gambit!  The game is here.  The final round report should appear here soon.

Tansel Turgut wins Illinois Class

ICCF Grandmaster Tansel Turgut knows something about over-the-board play, too, as evidenced by his victory in this past weekend's 2011 Illinois Class Championships with a 3½-½ score.

Dr. Turgut had a narrow escape in the final round against 8-year-old (!!!) Awonder Liang.  It appeared to this kibitzer that Awonder (in clear first at the beginning of the round) had his esteemed opponent on the ropes at one point.  But he lost, and tied for second with FM Albert Chow with 3-1 scores (Chow was undefeated and beat NM Greg Bungo in the last round.  Don't ask me what I was thinking when I wrote the last sentence: Chow and Bungo played a very correct draw, and I even played a small role in the post-mortem.) 

In the skittles room, Awonder was disconsolate about his loss in an eight-year-old kinda way.  But his father and siblings reminded him that he played very well, that he should be proud, and it's that only a game. (Useful advice for adults, too.)  Dr. Turgut came to collect Awonder's signature on the scoresheet "so I can show other people someday that I beat a world champion."  Adream Liang chimed in, "But he's already world champion!"  Thus cheered up, Awonder started kibitzing my post-mortem:

Brock-Moskwa (variation)
White to play and win with style
(yes, 1.Bf4 and 1.Rf4 are good enough, but look for the coolest move)

I don't think it took Awonder more than two seconds to spot the shot.  (Hint: leave your queen and rook en prise, and allow Black to capture a third piece with check.)  What a phenomenal talent!

Thanks to the Orland Park Cultural Center, organizer Mikhail Korenman, and TD Sevan Muradian for a smooth and fun event.

A report on the other sections will follow: look for games on the ICA website in the next few days!

Edit: here are the crosstables!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Boris Becker on tennis and chess

When do you play cat-and-mouse?  When do you go for the kill?  Tennis players can learn a lot from chess players, and chess players can learn a lot from tennis players.  So thinks Boris Becker.

Here's an entertaining miniature that Nigel Short played against Boris a few days ago. Becker never got to use his backhand, er, his queenside pieces.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

My favorite chess app for the iPhone / iPad

As of now, it's tChess Pro version 1.7.1.  I've been using it on the iPhone for almost three years: the interface is easy and intuitive, the features are nice, and the playing engine is reasonably strong.  (I lost the first game I played against it, and many more since then.) There may be stronger engines, but tChess is snappy!

There's a dual core option on the iPad 2: not sure how many ELO this would add.  But if you're looking for raw strength, the iPhone and iPad are the wrong platforms.

Most of these screenshots are from my iPad, with the exception of one iPad screenshot grabbed from the developer's website.  But the iPhone look and feel is very similar: I don't feel all thumbs with this GUI even on a tiny screen (compare my ChessBase 1.1 hatefest, which was essentially a rant about ChessBase's GUI.)

I'm about to start a new game.

Grr...only a draw. (Trust me, I wasn't going to show you a screenshot with my usual rating of 1650.) And tChess was not set to play at full strength.

I can find out that the game was a Marshall Attack, ECO code C89.

Perhaps I should look at a Fischer game instead. Or I could look at the game that one of my Industrial League teammates just sent to me. Or I could open a database of my own games. Or I could play through the tournament game I just played on my iPhone, identify my gross tactical blunders, and email the game score to myself. (My biggest complaint: tChess Pro does not support any variations within PGN. It really should.)

You can have up to 25 PGN files on the device: before I started this review, I had twenty on my iPhone. One can copy and paste PGN into tChess, and perform some basic editing on PGN headers. Even the ChessBase of twenty years ago had far more advanced database features, but the ease of accessing the game you've forgotten is a delight.

I've never cared for 3D representations of the chess board: if I want 3D, I'll get out a set. But some folks think this is cool.

Frustrated by your ratings history? Delete and create a new player profile.

This app is well worth $7.99!

Another reason to enter the Illinois Class Championships this weekend

World under-8 champion Awonder Liang will be there!  I hope he's playing up: it's necessary to beat the prodigies while they're still young.

Join us this coming Saturday and Sunday at the Orland Park Cultural Center.  

Details here!

Enter online here!

Hat tip Brad Rosen.

London Round 4: Anand 0 - Nakamura 1 !!!

Yesterday, GMHikaru tweeted, "The single most important thing in life is to believe in yourself regardless of what everyone else says" After Nakamura's disastrous showing in the Tal Memorial in Moscow, this blogger was one of the doubters. It is good to be proven wrong!

In the first four rounds of this event, Nakamura has drawn Kramnik, beaten Aronian, lost to Carlsen, and beaten Anand. That's +1 against the top four players in the world.

In the Classical King's Indian, White's kingside attack arrives first.  Indeed, in the position after move 21, it looks like Nakamura is about to get swept off the board.

But Black is attacking White's king!  If Black breaks through, Black will bring pain.  The biggest win in Hikaru's career?

More to follow!

Monday, December 5, 2011

So maybe AAPL isn't incredibly overvalued?

I've belonged to the iPhone cult for several years. The iPad that I've owned for two days is kinda nice, too. Look for chess software reviews in coming weeks.... One problem with the iWorld is that it's not flash-friendly, and we're using ChessFlash to present games. Advice would be appreciated!

World Under-8 Champion Awonder Liang featured in New York Times

Check it out!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Fish Men

Coming next May 26 to the Goodman Theatre in Chicago: Fish Men, a play about chess hustlers in Washington Square Park in New York.

Youth Chess Foundation of Chicago event at Rickover Naval Academy

Mike Cardinale of the Youth Chess Foundation of Chicago and Michael Biela (principal of Rickover Naval Academy, a CPS school on the Senn High School campus) hosted a 5-round game/20 event today that drew about 280 players. 

I had to leave before the awards ceremony, so I don't have final standings.  Unofficially, Abdel Raoul took clear first in the top section with a perfect 5-0.  I saw him drop a Fried Liver on Abraham Cornejo in Round 4 and win with good endgame technique.

And here are a few photos of the action in the Senn/Rickover cafeteria.  (An iPhone doesn't do the space justice: one would need a wide-angle lens.)

Mark your calendars for the next YCF event on January 21st, at De La Salle Institute / St. Columbanus, 3434 S. Michigan Avenue.

London Chess Classic underway

Chicago Blaze manager Daniel Parmet is working the event, and Illinois Chess Association President Tom Sprandel is in London.  Maybe we can get some inside info....

The nine grandmasters (including the world's top four: Carlsen, Anand, Aronian, Kramnik) played a fun exhibition game against "the rest of the world" on Twitter.  The geniuses won easily, but they missed an amazing combination (checkmate or win of queen) in the position below:

Black to play and win quickly

Follow this link for the answer, the entertaining game, and the notes.

Follow Round 1 (right now!) at the official site, WhyChess, The Week in Chess, or your favorite paid provider. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Author, author!

Shiva Maharaj showed me this cute study the other day.  I figured out that the theme was domination, but could not find the main line.

So whose study is it?  I'll guess Kasparyan.  (Duh: the obvious guess.)  But if someone with the van der Heijden database would clue me in, I'd appreciate it and will amend to give credit.

"Chess forges friendship, keeps it in check "

"As buddies, Loop lawyer, homeless man seem an unlikely match."   From today's Chicago Tribune.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November CICL Bulletin

It's here!

"Sucesso in Brazil"

Story at Chess Life Online!

Illinois Class in Orland Park, December 10-11!

Enough of that.  Back to constructive things.

Cribbed from the ICA Tournament Calendar:
Illinois Class Championships
12/10/2011 - 12/11/2011 
Orland Park Cultural Center - Orland Park
4SS, G90 + 30 sec. U1000/U700 Sections plays 5SS, G/75 with separate schedule. Orland Park Cultural Center, 14760 Park Lane, Orland Park, 60090 (from    I-355 take IL-171 Archer Rd Exit toward 143rd Street (7.5 mi), take West St toward 147th St and follow the curve.  From I-55 take US-12E/US-20E/US-45E/ S LaGrange Rd (10 mi); take W 144 PL and follow the curve). Free parking. Prizes $2,000 based on 80 paid entries. In 8 sections; no unrated allowed in Master/Expert section. Master/Expert (2000/up): $250-175-150-100-75. FIDE.  Class A (1800-1999/unr): $125-75-50. FIDE. Class B (1600-1799/Unr): $125-75-50. Class C (1400-1599/Unr): $125-75-50. Class D (1200-1399/Unr): $125-75-50. Class E (Under 1200/Unr): $125-75-50. Under 1000 (K-12 only): Tro­phies to top 5. Under 700 (K-12 only): Trophies to top 5. Rated players may play up one section (additional $10). Unrated prize limit $50 on each section. Top 6 sections EF: Top 6 sections EF: $50 by 11/20, $60 after 11/20; $70 at site. U1000/U700: $25 by 11/20, $30 after 11/20; $40 at site. No credit cards on site! Online reservations and payments at Official December supplement for ratings will be used if otherwise unrated. Schedule: Reg. on Dec. 10th at 8:30 – 9:30 am  Top 6 sections: Sat: 10:00 am & 3:00 pm; Sun: 10:00 am & 3:00 pm U1000/U700 sections: Sat: 10:00 am, 1:00 pm, 3:00 pm; Sun:  10:00 am, 1:00 pm Bye: all, must commit before rd 2 or not have plus score.  Boards, Sets, and Clocks will be provided by the North American Chess Association. Organizer supplied equipment must be used. Hotels: Comfort Inn Suites (8800 W 159TH ST Orland Park, IL 60462); HR: $85; Homewood Suites by Hilton (16245 LaGrange Road Orland Park, IL 60467); HR: $135 Both hotels are located in 10-15 minutes drive from the tournament site.
Ent: IntECS, Inc., 63 W 75th St., Willowbrook, IL 60527 630-789-2951
Chess Magnet School JGP.

Before the police were called....

David Heiser sent me a Facebook "friend" request some weeks ago,  I turned it down, as I generally do when I get a request from a person I believe to be of low character.  But I held my tongue at the time.

Today, I touched David on the shoulder.   (In retrospect, a big mistake, I know, as Sheila Heiser had made it clear she had no interest in talking: but I hadn't heard that from David.).  David threatened to "lay me on the ground."

As the folks at the office said, "This is all about chess?"

I sincerely believe that the ICA proposal for Chicago Public Schools is far stronger than the Renaissance Knights proposal.  But I believe in the transformational power of chess in the schools strongly enough that, for all my misgivings, I'd be willing to back the Renaissance Knights proposal.  After all, the children in Chicago Public Schools should come first.  That's all I wanted to say.

After the meeting, I'm standing outside City Hall chatting with GM Yury Shulman and Paul Kash, the Whitney Young coach, about ten yards north of the LaSalle Street entrance to City Hall.  David and Sheila walk out the door.  I motion for them to come to me, without approaching them.  They scurry back in:: Sheila yells, "I'm calling the police!" appearance and fact

Two questions:

Who are the members of the board of Renaissance Knights Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization incorporated in Illinois?

Who are the paid employees and independent contractors of Renaissance Knights Foundation (and affiliated entities, if any)? Why didn't David Heiser want to talk about his economic self-interest at today's CPS summit meeting?  (OK, make that three questions.)

After all, this is Chicago. And people do have to eat: there's nothing nefarious about having an economic self-interest.

Top 200 in Illinois

Check out the December list!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Eric Rosen gets IM Norm at World Youth!

Eric Rosen drew his last-round game to finish in 9th place with 6/9 (+4 =4 -1) in the World Youth Championships (under-18 section) in Caldas Novas, Brazil. His opponents included two GMs, an IM, and four FMs. His only loss was to top-rated GM Samvel Ter-Sahakyan of Armenia, who won the tournament with an undefeated 8-1 score.

Eric started the tournament ranked 27th with a 2305 rating. This apparently gives him his first IM norm, less than 30 days after receiving his FM title! By my calculation, he had a performance rating of 2455. According to the tournament site, he gained 27 rating points, gaining rating points every round except in his one loss. Very impressive. Congratulations, Eric!

Here are his round-by-round results (link here):

1: WIN Vasconcelos, Paulo Cesar Silva (1897) BRA
2: DRAW Zhou, Yang-Fan (IM, 2436) ENG
3: DRAW Grandadam, Nicolas (FM, 2370)
4: WIN Benitez Lozano, Javier (2068) MEX
5: WIN FM Kantans, Toms (FM, 2338) LAT
6: WIN FM Rios Cristhian, Camilo (FM, 2388) COL
7: DRAW Salem, A R Saleh (GM, 2511) UAE
8: LOSS Ter-Sahakyan, Samvel (GM, 2556) ARM
9: DRAW Aghasaryan, Robert (FM, 2331) ARM

Silly Internet game #862

Friday, November 25, 2011

Round 8 of World Youth Chess Championship underway

Eric Rosen is playing on Board 1 against GM Samvel Ter-Sahakyan of Armenia.  Follow the action here!

Update 9:00 p.m. by Frederick Rhine Alas, Eric lost, leaving him with 5.5/8 (+4 =3 -1) with one round left. I haven't done the math, but according to Jon Burgess on Facebook he can still get an IM norm if he wins or draws tomorrow. Go Eric!! Update 2:05 p.m., courtesy Matt Pullin, who doesn't think it looks good. I agree.Update 12:20 p.m.  I've been unable to get moves for some time.  Here's the last I saw (obscure opening, still theory):

Here are the round 7 standings: Eric moves into a tie for first if he wins. Awonder Liang of Wisconsin leads the World Under-8 by a full point, while Aydin Turgut has a plus score in the same event!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Eric Rosen at World Youth Championship, Caldas Novas, Brazil

Round 5 pairings here!  Eric is doing very well so far, with two draws against higher-rated players and two wins.

I found the draws at The Week in Chess.  Eric defends a difficult Taimanov Sicilian with skill:

An exciting opening (the Ragozin QGD) fizzles out to a sterile draw:

Andi Rosen will be covering the event for Chess Life Online.

Samvel Ter-Sahakyan
GM Samvel Ter-Sahakyan of Armenia leads the event: he finished second in last year's event, held in Greece.

At least we got one championship yesterday!

("We"?  OK, I'm over 50 and living vicariously.)

NM Sam Schmakel of Whitney Young High School won his third national championship this weekend, the 10th grade section of the K-12 Championships in Dallas, Texas.

These events are not easy for the average 2200 teenager to win: Sam scored 6½-½, including 4½-½ against two fellow NMs and three experts.  The event drew 1,182 players from across the nation, including 48 in the 10th-grade section.

Crosstable here!  And here's the story on USCF's home page (no mention of Sam, but more on the event).

If only the young master could master the art of being in two places at one time.

"New York Knights extinguish Chicago Blaze in chess championship"


Listen to the podcast of WBEZ's coverage here!

 Chicago Blaze (10.0 – 2.0) vs New York Knights (7.5  4.5) 

Chicago Blaze

New York Knights
GM Mesgen Amanov: 25760.01.0GM Giorgi Kacheishvili: 2653
GM Dmitry Gurevich: 25470.50.5IM Irina Krush: 2560
IM Angelo Young: 24150.01.0SM Matt Herman: 2426
NM Gopal Menon: 22221.00.0John Fernandez: 2129
Avg Rating: 2440

Avg Rating: 2442
Chicago Total -------1.52.5------- New York Total

Sunday, November 20, 2011

U.S. Chess League finals starting NOW!

Stolen from the USCL website.  I'll be stopping by shortly: good luck to the Blaze!

1. Chicago Blaze vs New York Knights                                   3:00 PM ET

If you are wondering why some teams have an average rating of above 2401, click here
All ratings listed below are August ratings - not always the ratings used for the league rating calculations!
Team listed first has White on Boards 1+3

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

Chicago Blaze (10.0 – 2.0) vs New York Knights (7.5 4.5)
All Time Series Record:  (This is their first match)

Starts at 2:00 PM CST       Time Control - Game in 90 with 30 second increment    

Chicago Blaze

New York Knights
GM Mesgen Amanov: 2576

GM Giorgi Kacheishvili: 2653
GM Dmitry Gurevich: 2547

IM Irina Krush: 2560
IM Angelo Young: 2415

SM Matt Herman: 2426
NM Gopal Menon: 2222

John Fernandez: 2129
Avg Rating: 2440

Avg Rating: 2442
Chicago Total -------

------- New York Total

*Due to the World Youth and K-12 Nationals causing many players to be unavailable, Chicago agreed to allow New York to use John Fernandez on Board Four when generally that would not have been permitted as he had not played the requisite two games during the regular season

If the match ties 2 2, there will be a special tiebreaker.  Click here for the tiebreaker procedures.