Saturday, January 22, 2011

Crouching Rhino, Hidden Dragon

Twenty-four hardy souls braved snow, ice and bitter cold to play in the Evanston Rapids (game/29) on Saturday, January 22 at the Levy Senior Center. Enterprising (read "dubious") play and a little luck gave yours truly a 5-0 sweep in my first rapid tournament ever, and my first OTB tournament of the millennium! (Yes, you read that right; my last OTB tournament was in 2000, which purists will tell you is part of the prior millennium (1001-2000).) Theodore Mercer, Jr. and Jiri Kabelac tied for second at 4-1. Kabelac missed a draw in a king and pawn ending against me in round 4, with both of us having seconds left and playing on the 3-second increment.

Other notable results include Brian Harrigan of Indiana and Chad Hirsch, who both scored 3-2 and gained a boatload of rating points. Harrigan played the top three finishers, scoring 1-2 against us, and went from 1385 to 1505. Hirsch, rated just 1292, downed two 1600s and a 1700, gaining 166 rating points. The crosstable is here. (Don't ask me why the USCF claims I had a provisional quick rating of 2201 going into the tournament - unless they took my 2201 "slow" rating and used that as a guesstimate of my quick rating.) Mariano Acosta, a Life Master at standard time controls, was one of four players who took a half-point bye in the first round. Unfortunately, his loss to Sergatskov in round 3 took him out of contention, although he won his other games.

Thanks to über-organizer Maret Thorpe for organizing and directing the event, and for inviting me to be the guest master. It was great fun.

In Round 5, I offered a draw on move 1 to Dmitri Sergatskov, figuring that if he accepted I'd win the tournament outright and if he declined, he was apt to become overconfident. He decided to play on, and equalized easily with 5...d5!, a trick I hadn't seen before. At move 10, any sane person would have played 10.Bd2, e.g. 10...Bxd2+ 11.Qxd2 Qd6= Mareco-Gil. Garcia, Buenos Aires 2005 (1/2-1/2, 21). Perhaps because Bill Smythe was in the tournament, I preferred the zany 10.Ke2?! Sergatskov promptly blundered with 11...c5?, allowing 12.Nxf5! with an unusual variant of the fork trick (12...Bxf5 13.dxe4). He tried a different line, but this led to an ending where he had no compensation for my extra pawn. After 29.Rxd6!, he resigned in light of 29...Rxd6 30.Be5 Kc7 31.Rd1, when White will trade off on d6 and reach a bishop ending with three extra pawns.

Big win for Nakamura

© Algemeen Nederlands Persbureau

After 7 of 13 rounds, Nakamura takes the sole lead in Wijk aan Zee!  Anand is in clear second, while Kramnik and Aronian are tied for third.

GMHikaru tweets:
Another exciting win today against Smeets! Tomorrow the tournament really begins as I play the big dogs in succession!

Friday, January 21, 2011

K-12 Girls' Championship next weekend in Skokie!

2011 Illinois State K12 Girls Chess Championship Tournament Date: Jan 29, 2011

Niles North High School
9800 Lawler Avenue
Skokie, Illinois
(East Cafeteria and Commons)

Format: 4-round G45 swiss.
USCF rated; USCF membership is required.
Sections: K-3, K-5, K-8, Championship (open to K12; anyone rated 1000 or more must play in Championship section)

Prizes: Trophies to top 5 individuals in each section; winner of championship section earns invitation to play in the 6-player round robin invitational girls tournament the weekend of March 26-28. (If the winner would otherwise qualify by rating, the player with the highest score not otherwise qualified will receive the invitation).

Check-in: 9 to 9:30
First round: 10 a.m. Other rounds ASAP.

Entry fee: $25 if received by Jan. 21; $35 by Jan. 28. No on-site entries.
Send entries to Andrea Rosen, 8214 Keystone Avenue, Skokie, IL 60076. Checks should be made payable to the ICA Warren Program.
--- or ---
Register and pay online (

Other: Sets and clocks will be provided by North American Chess Association.

Hotel: Comfort Inn, 9333 Skokie Boulevard, Skokie, 847-679-6200.
Group rate $94.99/night, includes full hot buffet breakfast, must reserve by January 3. When making reservation, be sure to ask for Illinois Chess Association rate.

Net proceeds will benefit the Niles North High School chess club and the ICA Warren Program. For more information, contact:

Л'Ами – Накамура 6-й тур (0-1)

I think that means that Nakamura beat the Dutch GM Erwin L'Ami in Round 6!  Viswanathan Anand and Alexander Grischuk drew, so Nakamura reclaims a share of first place.

The game is here: a nice grind from absolutely nothing.

P.S.  Nakamura tweeted:

A nice win today, but I feel horrible for l'Ami after that travesty yesterday. Anyway, Smeets tomorrow!
The "travesty" was L'Ami's blundering against Carlsen when defending a dead drawn rook & knight vs. rook ending (no pawns).

Fischer film at Sundance

The documentary Bobby Fischer Against the World just premiered at Sundance; it will be on HBO this summer.  More info here.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

North Shore Chess Center G/45 this Sunday!

Another email cut-and-paste, especially for non-football fans:

North Shore Chess Center G/45- 4R-SS G/45 + 10/sec increment. North Shore Chess Center, 5500 West Touhy Ave Suite A, Skokie, IL 60077. 847.423.8626. EF: $20 for non-members of the chess center, $15 for members of the chess center received by 1/22. All $5 more onsite. Onsite registration - up to 15 minutes prior to round 1 or round 2. If registering prior to round 2, you will receive a half-point bye for round 1. Round times: 1pm for round one and then 15 minutes after final game from previous round completed. Half-point byes available in any round. Prizes: Book prizes for top three finishers. Biggest upset (150+ points): Free entry to following month G/45 + book prize. Parking: Free self-parking. Mail entries with registration information to: North American Chess Association (make checks payable to), 4957 Oakton Street Suite 113, Skokie, IL 60077. Online registration preferred. Additional questions email to: USCF rated. For online registration and list of more events please visit

Evanston Chess $5 Game/29 event this Saturday!

Details here!

I won't be there (tax season), so please play for me!

Nakamura blogs from Wijk aan Zee

 He was tied for first with Anand until today's draw with Ponomariov: still in great shape at +2!

The caudate nucleus is well developed in rats, mice, and chess masters

 Chess masters use different parts of the brain than the rest of us: story here (Bloomberg) and here (MSNBC)

General conclusion: "Expertise is the result of long, serious training."  If you're interested in the subject (or if you want interesting reads with many thoughts applicable to many things beyond chess), I again recommend Gladwell's Outliers and Lehrer's How We Decide.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Sideshow Bob gets engaged

Everyone's favorite chess instructor, Elizabeth Vicary, is getting married!  Details (sort of) here.


A tweet from Wijk (no, that doesn't rhyme)!/GMHikaru/status/27106381320429568

Hikaru Nakamura
Some of the best technique I've ever shown in an endgame under pressure! Off to a great start, but it will only get more difficult!
2 hours ago via web

Nakamura leads Wijk aan Zee after Round 3

After three rounds, Hikaru Nakamura, America's top-rated player, is leading the super-GM field of Tata Stell Group A in Wijk aan Zee, Holland.  Nakamura has beaten Alexander Grischuk and (today) Alexei Shirov, while drawing Levon Aronian with Black yesterday.

All the major chess sites have coverage: I went to The Week in Chess.

An unexploited blunder

This one is a doozy. In the position below, it is White's move. Judit Polgar, the strongest woman player ever, is playing former World Champion Boris Spassky. Polgar played 12.Nf1 and eventually lost. Do you see anything better?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Trying to form a team for the US Amateur Team?

I'm not able to play myself, except possibly as an alternate on Sunday (and for that I already have a standing invitation, thanks!)

If you'd like to play and you want to form a team (four players plus one optional alternate), feel free to post a request in comments here or on the Illinois Chess Association message board.

The U.S. Amateur Team returns to Chicago!

Another cut-and-paste from my email:


February 18-20, 2011 or February 19-20, 2011

Crowne Plaza, 2875 N. Milwaukee, Northbrook, Il 60062
$79 Room Rate + FREE BREAKFAST BUFFET! 847-298-2525

February 19 Si de Events:
Scholastic Team & Illinois Blitz Championship

USAT North
  • 2 playing schedules: 3-day or 2 day
  • Early EF $140 per team (4 player team + 1 alternate)
  • Individual EF (we assign team), $35 early EF
  • G/90 inc 30
  • On-line entry
  • USPS entry
  • Book Dealer scheduled to be t here

Team rating = average of top 4 boards
Team's average rating must be U2200

Top team plays for National Championship

Team awards:

Top Team with average rating U1900
Top Team with average rating U1600
Top Team with average rating U1300
Best Team Name
Best Junior Team (HS & younger)
Best individual score on each board

Side Events 2/19/11

Scholastic Team

Team rating = average of top 4 boards
Team average rating must be U1600
$120 Early EFIndividual EF (we assign team)
Club and mixed school teams welcome!

Bring Boards-Sets-Clocks

Team awards
Top Team
Top 3 High School Teams
Top 3 Middle School Teams
Top 3 Elementary School Teams
Best Individual Score On Each Board


$500 b/30
$25 Early EF

Bring sets-boards-clocks