Friday, October 14, 2011

Illinois Chess Association Banquet Honoring Andrew Karkins

Please join us (this means you!) on Sunday, November 6th, from 1 to 4 p.m., at Buca di Beppo in Lombard.  Andrew Karklins will be receiving the Natalie Broughton Lifetime Achievement Award.  Preregistration is required: more info and online ticket link here.

The meal at last year's banquet was excellent: generous helpings (similar to Maggiano's), but more affordable.  I am on a diet, so there will be much more for others to eat.

The meeting will be preceded by the Illinois Chess Association's annual meeting (11 a.m. to 1 p.m.), open to all ICA members and pretty much anyone not carrying a Molotov cocktail.

An interesting endgame moment from Shulman-Bhat

After 50.Kf3: Black to play 

I don't want to try to anticipate what the master annotators at the Blaze Blog will have to say.  But at the very end of this game, it's a fair question as to whether Black found the best move.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Board 4: the move of the match (Byambaa 0 - Schmakel 1)

Is it correct?  I have no clue, but I do know that Black's 18th move is très cool, and shows a desire to fight for the full point.  Normally one does not wish to move pawns in front of one's castled king.  Especially not two squares.  Especially not the g-pawn. Especially not when the players have castled on opposite sides. Especially when one creates a lever that helps the enemy open lines to your king.

But rules of thumb are made to be broken: chess is a very concrete game. The idea is known from the Browne System of the Najdorf.  The e5 square is worth a lot: Black gets a horsie on c4 and a bishop on f6 soon afterwards.  So you could say that Black is attacking White's queenside with 18...g7-g5!?

And Sam Schmakel of Whitney Young must have been planning this shocker some moves earlier: otherwise, why 16...Qd8?

Board 3: Young ½ - Naroditsky ½

Board 3 was potentially a problem for Chicago: the young prodigy Naroditsky is the author of Mastering Positional Chess.  24...a5! looks strong to me, and a few moves later, White's c5 pawn fell.

But IM Angelo Young (no slacker at positional play) held on for the draw.

Board 1: Shulman ½ - Bhat ½

I really don't understand the opening on Board 1.  Usually in the Leningrad Variation of the Nimzoindian, Black will trade the Bb4 for the Nc3 to double White's c-pawns.  But Bhat played ...e6xd5 and deferred capturing on c3.  Strange to this amateur's eyes, but the proof is in the results.  It was Yury who had to force the draw with White.

Blaze 2½ - San Francisco Mechanics 1½

The Chicago Blaze are now 7-0!

On Board 2, Grandmasters Jesse Kraai and Mesgen Amanov played a sharp Catalan that fizzled out into a draw:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Point-count chess

The object of the game is checkmate, so all point-count systems are rules of thumb at best.  But the "primitive" values we teach beginners are surprisingly useful: bishops and knights are worth 3 pawns, the rook is worth 5 pawns, and the queen is worth 9 pawns.

Some years ago, IM (now GM) Larry Kaufman slightly revised these rules of thumb based on empirical data.  I just happened across the article today while looking up something else: it's still fascinating.

To summarize Kaufman's improved rules of thumb: bishops and knights are worth 3¼ pawns (but add ½ pawn for the bishop pair), rooks are still worth 5 pawns, and the queen is worth 9¾ pawns.

Blaze match begins in a few minutes

Tonight the Blaze face off against the San Francisco Mechanics: Brad Rosen previews the match here.  Mechanics first board Jesse Kraai went to Shimer College: I knew him back when he had a flowing mane of hair and I wasn't quite bald.

Carlsen wins Bilboa in blitz playoff

...and Hikaru Nakamura, bizarre round nine loss notwithstanding, takes third on tiebreaks.  A deserved win for Carlsen (who beat the red-hot Ivanchuk twice in regulation play) and a bittersweet step forward for Nakamura.

Coverage in the usual places....
WhyChess (all games available via drop-down box)

What tactic is more basic than pins and forks?

Dan Heisman (whose Chess Cafe column is wonderful reading for beginners and their teachers) has argued that teaching beginners to count is the indispensable first step in teaching tactics.

Blog contributor Vince Hart, who has been working with the Prospect High School chess team for the past nine years, emphasizes piece safety with his team, and points us to a wonderful Heisman column on the subject.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Bilboa Round 9: Vallejo 1 - Nakamura 0

Nakamura flagged on move 40 in a slightly superior position: he thought he had made the time control, and stepped away for a glass of juice.

As Carlsen beat Ivanchuk today, a win would have brought Nakamura into a tie for first.

Three decisive games today!