Saturday, September 24, 2011

Aronian on Truffaut and Coltrane

Bad boy Vladislav Tkachiev just published a very entertaining interview with Levon Aronian at WhyChess.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Today's Bible verse

The Benoni has never had a reputation for being easy: its name was drawn from Genesis 35:18:
Rachel was about to die, but with her last breath she named the baby Ben-oni (which means "son of my sorrow"). The baby's father, however, called him Benjamin (which means "son of my right hand").
If you play the Modern Benoni against Mesgen Amanov, it's going to cost you Benjamins.  Mesgen annotates this incredibly entertaining game

As long as we're blogging etymology, Mesgen uses the word "tabiya" in his annotations to refer to the position after White's 9th move.  In chess's medieval ancestor shatranj, pawns could only move one square, and the fers (predecessor of the modern queen) could only move one square diagonally.  Consequently, the two armies in shatranj did not make much contact in the initial moves.  The Arabic word "tabbiyya" was used to describe the battle array chosen by each player. 

In modern chess, when the two armies are colliding from the initial moves, you can't ignore what the other player is doing when you choose your battle array.  A modern tabiya is a standard position known to both players before the beginning of the game from which they tacitly agree to begin the battle.

Tactics quiz for advanced beginners...and beyond

Dan Heisman's quiz may be too hard for true beginners. It's drawn from John Bain's Chess Tactics for Students (strangely out of print, but used copies can be found on the Intertubes).

Get out your stopwatches, read Dan Heisman's instructions before you begin, and play along! (Yes, I scored 12 out of 12, no, I wasn't as fast as I should have been, yes, I saw the dual solution. The easiest problem was the one that took me the longest.)

Here's an earlier Heisman quiz with the same format.

Thanks to Dan Heisman for pointing out that Chess Tactics for Students can be ordered directly from John Bain.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Board 4: Menon-Lu 1-0

Again, don't ask me how NM Gopal Menon won his Blaze debut. The game is a fairly logical Tarrasch French: Black broke White's attack by sacrificing the Exchange, and White gave the Exchange back at an appropriate time, and it seemed that Black was OK.

I suspect that Black got a little overexcited about having a passed center pawn on the 5th rank (in queen endings, having the pawn closest to the queening square is often more important than having more pawns), and match considerations may have made him overreach. Black's king had no pawn shelter: getting mated is not a big worry in this ending, but being forced to exchange queens into a lost pawn ending is a concern. Bringing the king from h1 to e2 worked out very well for Gopal!

Board 3: Dean-Abrahamyan ½-½

I have no idea what happened in this game. I watched part of it last night, and early on, I thought that Jim Dean would have good chances to win with Black. But Tatev Abrahamyan is very resourceful, and I wouldn't be surprised if she had a winning ending at a certain point. (Knight and bishop often have problems coordinating against an enemy rook, to the point that Reuben Fine considered rook and two pawns vs. knight and bishop to be a win in the general case.)

Restrain, blockade, destroy, draw.

Board 2: Battle of the Amanovs

GM Mesgen Amanov unleashed some monster preparation on his L.A. namesake.  White's 20th and 22nd moves are simply beautiful, and they taste like good home-cooking.

And how could I not mention 31.Be3!!

Why does anyone play the Modern Benoni?  Of all the openings still played at the top levels, it's the one than can be cracked in so many delightful ways. But we all want to emulate Tal and Fischer.....

Blaze beats L.A., 3-1

O.K., so I'm a little behind schedule today....

On Board 1, Yury Shulman used his pet Winawer to draw easily with Black. I really don't believe in Black's line: if you could get 6...Qa5 and 7...Qa4 "for free," that would be great. But such moves take time, and queens are meant for greater roles than blockading a-pawns.

Having said that, I don't think U.S. champions care very much about my opinion. And the pitiful queen has had lunch and centralized by move 13.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Chicago leads L.A. 1½-½

Yury Shulman draws handily with a pet French sideline, and you don't want to play the Modern Benoni against Mesgen Amanov.

Jim Dean seems to have good winning chances with Black on Board 3, and Gopal Menon has what looks like dynamic equality (and perhaps a slightly easier position to play) on Board 4.

Tom Panelas is updating gamescores intermittently on this Blaze blog page.

Blaze face off against LA at 8 p.m.

Follow the action live at the North Shore Chess Center in Skokie, or online at the Internet Chess Club (membership required).  This is the first Blaze game for both FM Jim Dean and NM Gopal Menon.

I hope to have the PGN boxscores up by tomorrow a.m.

Chicago Chess meetup @ Iguana Cafe: NM Bruce Kovalsky lecture!

I had the pleasure of lunch with Bruce a few months ago: nice fellow!  He's giving a brief lecture, followed by a session of casual play.  Details here!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Andrew Karklins To Receive Broughton Lifetime Achievement Award

FIDE Master and three-time Illinois Champion Andrew Karklins is the 2011 recipient of the Natalie Broughton Lifetime Achievement Award.  Come help us honor him at 1 p.m. on Sunday, November 6th, at Buca di Beppo in Lombard!

Learn more about the award and get your tickets for the 2011 banquet on the ICA website.

Blaze annotations galore!

Many masterly annotations from Tom Panelas and the Blaze blog!

Grandmaster Mesgen Amanov (photo: Eric Rosen)

Breakfast tomorrow: World Cup round 4

Peter Svidler leads Alexander Grisckuk 2-1 for the World Cup title.  Svidler has White and the two Russians are friends: a quick draw is not out of the realm of possibility.  Both players have already secured a slot as one of the eight candidates for the next world championship.

Vassily Ivanchuk leads Ruslan Ponomariov 2-1 in the match for third place.  To me, the Ukranian matchup is more fascinating: Ivanchuk has not been a Candidate in the classical cycle for twenty (!!) years, and in 2002, he lost a match to the teenaged Ponomariov for the pre-unification "FIDE World Championship" title.  The winner automatically qualifies for the 2013 Candidates, while the loser is very unlikely to earn an invitation.  Ponomariov managed to apply some pressure in today's game, but never came close to converting a pawn-up endgame.

Catch up on previous rounds at The Week in Chess, and follow the pre-dawn action at the official site!