Saturday, October 22, 2011

Learning to count

I'm getting ready for the scholastic season, and I'm on the lookout for tactics books for beginners.  One of the best I've seen is Dan Heisman's Back to Basics: Tactics (Kindle edition available here).

Heisman argues (quite convincingly, in my opinion) that before one teaches students about pins and forks and such, one first has to teach them not to leave pieces en prise (chess speak for "giving pieces away for free") and to take your opponent's pieces when she leaves them en prise.

Sometimes the answer is rather easy:

White to play
Other things equal, the rook on g3 should eat the pawn on d3: a free pawn is a good thing!

Sometimes the answer is more complicated:

White to play

1.Raxd3 Qxd3 2.Rxd3 Rxd3 is approximately an equal exchange, so the correct answer is "It depends."  (Heisman provides the reader with a more sophisticated point-count system, still suitable for advanced beginners, that suggests that in the general case, the exchange is good for White.)

And sometimes the answer is surprisingly subtle:

White to play
Is the Black pawn safe?  (Three attackers, three defenders)

There are of course other pieces on the board.  To answer Heisman's question, just concentrate on these seven pieces; you may assume that when the missing pieces are taken into consideration, material is equal.

I'll have a few more examples from Heisman in the coming days....

Tactics, tactics, tactics...

Over the next week or two, we'll be featuring tactical exercises from books for beginners, advanced beginners, and intermediate players.

I've been reading Yakov Neistadt's Improve Your Chess Tactics (New in Chess, 2011) on the METRA for the past few weeks.     It's a great tactics refresher for the average tournament player.

Some of you will recognize the textbook combination in the following position immediately:

Glass-Russell, Belfast 1958
Black to play and win

This exercise (adapted from position #100 in Neistadt) has a similar theme (which is...?), but requires a bit more creativity:

adapted from Nette-Abente, Paraguay 1983
Black to play and win

Friday, October 21, 2011

Board 1: Gurevich ½ - Holt ½

IM Conrad Holt is ranked 36th in the nation.  He's 18 years old and still rapidly improving: I know a couple of GMs who don't look forward to playing him.  Maybe Dmitry had a little something from the unusual opening, but both players collaborated to play a creative and correct game.  After the e-pawn is traded for Black's a-pawn, neither player has any chances, so a draw was a natural result.

Blaze - Dallas, Board 4: Dean 1 - Xiang 0

By point count alone, Black has the advantage of two rooks vs. queen. But the two rooks need to be coordinated to be effective, and king safety is paramount in middlegames with opposite-color bishops are on the board.

31.f6!, shaking up His Majesty's hizzle, is very nice. Black could have defended with 31...Ra8! 32.Qg4 (threatening both mate on g7 and the c4 bishop) 32...g6! 33.Qxc4 Rxd2.
Manager Daniel Parmet has a very pleasant task each week filling the lower boards: Jim Dean, Eric Rosen, Sam Schmakel, Angelo Young....

Industrial League: UChicago / Citadel 6 - Tradelink 0

Trash-talking emanating from a certain Quadrangle duly noted.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Board 3: Kierwa 0 - Rosen 1

The best thing about tripled pawns is that there's three of them.  Newly-minted Senior Master Eric Rosen got very nice play against e5 out of the opening (a Frenchified anti-Sicilian), but FM Keaton Kierwa made the most of his tripleton and was at least equal in this very interesting middlegame.

But White slips, after which Eric exploits the dominated Nb1 and the f2 weakness.  (Why didn't Black play the immediate 35...Rxb1 winning a piece, you may ask?  There's a good reason.)

Blaze 3½ - Dallas Destiny ½

Today's text (equally relevant to Grandmasters and Class E players): "For what is a man profited if he shall gain a whole rook and lose his own king"?

Even though Josh Friedel got his opponent's king to walk all the way out to f4 in the middlegame, it was relatively safe because of the locked pawn center, and it was White who was pressing Black.  And this game could easily have gone the other way (the computer likes 45.h5!).   But White succumbed to temptation with 47.Qc8+, after which GM Friedel demonstrated the error of gross materialism.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"Maybe Teach Them Math, Science, and Chess"

Bonnie Trafelet for Chicago News Cooperative

I did not mention the Susan Polgar World Open for Boys and Girls, held October 7-10 in Oak Brook, because of pending litigation involving the U.S. Chess Federation that I really don't want to discuss here.

But this New York Times article (James Warren is, I assume, not Helen's husband, but the former editor of the Tempo section of the Chicago Tribune?) is too good to pass up.  Local teaching legend Shiva Maharaj is prominently featured.

This Sunday in DeKalb: Midwest Senior Open

Cut and pasted from the website.  (Hmm, I'm 53 years old....)

One Day Only - New VenueSunday, October 23, 2011 American National Bank of DeKalb CountyCommunity Room, 1985 DeKalb AvenueSycamore, IL

An exciting event for the Age 50-plus crowd:
  • 3 rounds, Game/75 minutes
  • Sections: Open & Reserve (Under 1600)
  • Additional prizes for top scores in Under 1800 in 
  • the Open Section and Under 1400 in Reserve Section
  • Rated by the US Chess Federation 
 Playing Schedule:
  • On-site registration: 9am - 9:20am
  • Rounds: 9:30am, 12:50pm, 3:30pm (ending by 6pm)
 Money Stuff: 
  • Modest $20 entry fee
  • At least 70% of prize fund distributed as specified at site or available via advance request by electronic mail.
  • For those wishing to arrive the night before, a $60/night hotel rate was arranged at the nearby NIU Student Center 
  • (private or shared room); theater tickets available to one of several excellent local performances
  • Refrigerator and microwave available at tournament site
  • Site is on "restaurant row" with numerous lunch options  
Further Details:
  • With success of this preview event, it is hoped the Midwest Senior Open may grow into an annual multi-day, regional tournament -- your feedback is welcome
  • Designed for comfort & convenience of mature players
  • Reunite with old chess friends; make new ones!
  • Completely handicap accessible
  • Special assistance available upon request
  • All equipment provided but you may bring your own
  • Questions? 
  • e-mail

Monday, October 17, 2011

Midwest Class: C, D, and E!

Our own Robert Gorodetsky and Angelo Fleming of Indiana drew with each other in the first round, then swept their remaining games to finish equal first with 4½-½ in Class C.  Ethan Brown and Souroush Kanideh, both of Illinois, tied with Michael Slosson of Indiana for third, all with 4-1.

Another local preteen, James Biondo (post-event rating 1566) and an adult who refused to be a victim, Talhah Chaudhry, split Class D honors, each scoring 4½-½.  Ben Marks and Tiffany Madson divided third with 4-1.

Willam Wang of Illinois and Andrew Trattner of Wisconsin, tied for first in Class E, each with 4½-½.  Jim Epley and Douglas Campbell, both of Illinois, tied for third with 4-1.

Chess can be cruel, as Keith Amman discovered in this final-round game against Alexander Breydburd from Class E:

34.Qd4! would have been a killer.  But White ate a rook, which made winning surprisingly hard.  38.Qc5! would have done the trick.

Steve Immitt, Wayne Clark, and Jeff Wiewel directed for the Continental Chess Association.

Midwest Class - More child-on-adult violence

This is getting ridiculous: ten-year-old Adream Liang of Wisconsin tied for first with Rick Lutzke, both with 4½.  David Paykin took third with 4-1.

Midwest Class - Expert / A

Thirteen-year-old cheesehead Alexander Velikanov earned his National Master title in style by winning the Expert Section  with 4½-½.  Sedrick Prude, Dane Mattson of Wisconsin, and Robert Keating of Iowa tied for second with 4-1.

Eleven-year-old Alex Bian of Lincolnshire (one of our Warren Junior Scholars) won the Class A section with a perfect 5-0 score.  Locals Rafeh Qazi and Robert Moskwa tied for second with 4-1 to complete the Illinois sweep.

For those of unfamiliar with tournament chess: this is not a scholastic event!

Midwest Class Championsips results-Master Section

This weekend's results are in from Wheeling!

Bulgarian Grandmaster and opening theoretician Atanas Kolev won the top section of the 20th Midwest Class Championship with a 4½-½ score.  Kolev  beating GM Dmitry Gurevich and Illinois Co-Champ Aun Thant Zin in rounds 3 and 4, and drawing Seth Homa of Michigan (who finished second with 4-1) in the final round.  This section was a tough one for the most of the locals: Aun Thant Zin did beat GM Nikola Mitkov in round 3, and Mitkov and Gurevich were paired with each other in the last round.

Age is catching up with 96-year-old Erik Karklins.  He lost all his games in the Expert Section: when he got a bye in round 4, he used the opportunity to play up to the Master Section, and beat NM James Ellis of Iowa.

Senior Master Eric Rosen

Congratulations (yet again) to Niles North senior Eric Rosen, who went to Texas this weekend and won the Dallas Open

Eric's post-event rating is (unofficially) 2404, which makes him a Senior Master.  Congratulations!