Saturday, October 29, 2011

Seirawan interview in ChessBase

 Back when I had hair, Yasser had an Afro....

A good read.  I love the following comment for acknowledging one of the major challenges facing players over fifty:

I’m disgusted with the (FIDE) time controls! My chief complaint is that they are not standardized. To my mind, there are three types of chess tournaments: classical, rapid and blitz. Honestly, I don’t care what the time controls for these three disciplines are, only that they should be the same for all tournaments! Today, a “Classical” tournament will have all kinds of different time controls. It is terrible. For a professional, they are constantly recalibrating themselves for all these controls which can be different from event to event in the extreme. This too, has been a failure from FIDE, official federations and the professional players. In fact, it is just stupid.

If I were chess dictator I would say: “For the next two years we will play our three disciplines with these and only these standard time controls. Full stop. At the end of two years, we will review the results. If we discover that some tweaking is necessary, we will change the standard and practice them for two years…” And so forth and so on, eventually settling on the three standards that we all like best, which works for all parties, including organizers.

I would start with a classical time control of 90 minutes for 40 moves with a thirty second bonus for all moves made from move one. For the second time control 30 minutes for 20 moves (with the thirty second bonus); for the third time control 15 minutes (with the thirty second bonus) for the rest of the game. My reasoning for this time control is that a classical game will obviously be the longest of the three disciplines. A player has physical needs, such as nutrition, drinks, visiting the restroom and so on. The three distinct time controls, allow the player to comfortably meet their physical needs. It is simply intolerable to be sitting at the board, with a strong physical need to go to the restroom and being unable to do so because you are playing on increment time only.
 Read the rest of his interview with IM Ana Matnadze at ChessBase.

Eric Rosen simul this morning: walk-ins welcome!

The exhibition starts at 11 a.m.: arrive by noon and we'll make sure you play! Click on the image to read the invite!

Friday, October 28, 2011

CICL: Watch out for Loyola!

I play for the Rogue Squadron in the CICL East Division, and we're very fortunate to have David Franklin as our first board.  David lost his first game ever in CICL this week, to John Gurczak of Loyola.

The innocuous-looking 4.e3 has teeth.  I don't like combining ....dxc4 with ceding the bishop pair after ...Bg4, but top players have done just this several times in 2011, including Bruzon and Gashimov at the World Cup.  Kamsky's 7...a6 scores very well for Black, but that could simply be attributable to the fellow pushing the pawns.

And on Board 3, USCF Expert Isaac Braswell was upset by Peter Dimpoulous of Loyola, who won a pawn, then sacked a couple pawns back for a fierce kingside attack.  (Isaac is a lightning-fast calculator and a time-trouble addict: even though he lost this game, realize that he was finding reasonable defensive moves in an instant!)

Of course, the Rogue Squadron won 4-2 because we are objectively awesome.  But hats off to John, Peter, and our other worthy opponents from Rogers Park!

Latvian-American beats six-time Russian champion

Lest we be accused of overhyping the nationalism card, we should note that the genial 1994, 1995, 1997, 2003, 2008, and 2011 Russian champion watches more Showtime series than either Andrew or I do.

ICA Banquet next Sunday, November 6th!

We're at the same location (Buca di Beppo in Lombard), at the same time (1 to 4 p.m.) with a new Broughton Award honoree (Senior Master Andrew Karklins)!  The genial Jim Brotsos will be our Master of Ceremonies.

Details here!

Buy your ticket here!

And yes, Andrew's father, 96-year-old NM Erik Karklins, plans to be there as well!

Defenders need to calculate, too

A simple but pleasing example from the very first quiz page of Jeff Coakley's Winning Chess Exercises For Kids.  (You may not have realized that you're teaching your students an introduction to geometry!)

 White to play: what's White's best move?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Board 4: Schmakel 1 - Rosenthal 0

NM Sam Schmakel provides one bright spot in this gloomy match.  A fun Steinitz Variation of the French leads to a pleasant endgame for White.

During the game, I saw the position after Black's 39th and thought that White's extra horsie was not enough to win.  But Sam demonstrates that just as knights have trouble dealing with rook pawns, the kings that escort rook pawns have trouble dealing with knights.

Perhaps knights are just better than bishops?

In the GM battle on Board 1, Miami's Julio Becerra rode his steed to a winning rook ending against Josh Friedel's Berllin Defense.

The knight can visit all 64 squares, but it is the lot of poor Mr. Bishop that he can only visit 32.  Of course, White also had a healthy 4-3 kingside majority and Black had to deal with an artificially isolated h4 pawn....

Board 3: Pelaez 1 - Rosen 0

Black's problem piece in the Exchange Variation of the Queen's Gambit is the bishop on c8. The point of 6.Qc2 is to embarrass the bishop by taking away its best square: Eric's 6...g6 is a radical attempt to solve the problem. (I've tried it more than once myself: NM Steve Tennant swept me off the board at a Western Open some years ago from the position after 8.Qb3, which forces Black to weaken the queenside pawns slightly.)

FM Jorge Peleaz really played a model game with the White pieces. Once the hanging pawns are forced into the unfavorable c4-d5 formation, the bishop on e6 is much less powerful than the dancing knight. 46.f5! is real purty.

 If Black can find a way to get away with this line, the 6...g6 idea is golden. Until then, there's always 6...Be7.

Board 2: Young ½ - Rodriquez ½

Finally getting around to the games from Monday's loss to Miami. The adjective "benkogambity" is overused, but perhaps it fits here. Each player is ambitious in his own way; a correct draw seems the logical result. Take note of Angelo's good drawing technique in a slightly uncomfortable rook ending: he gets rid of the h-pawn (a potential target) before he widens the scope of the enemy rook by moving his f-pawn.

Requisite Hallowe'en post

Jennifer Shahade reports.

Register for Eric Rosen simul, Saturday at Marbles!

Click on the image to read the invite!

A deflection immortal

Once again, we are cribbing from Yakov Neistadt's Improve Your Chess Tactics (New in Chess, 2011).  And once again, our theme is deflection.  An enemy piece is performing an important function: can you make it move so that it's no longer performing that function?

Two hints: I wrote "wow" in the margin of the book, and even Houdini took a second or so to find the winning line. But what would an American do at the Opéra de Paris?

Mackenzie-NN, Manchester 1889
White to play and win

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Blaze 1½ - Miami 2½

In keeping with this blog's official "bad news can always wait" policy....

OK, Chicago once again lost a perfect season to Miami on Monday night (though I didn't see any mismatches comparable to Dwight Stephenson dominating the Refrigrerator).  PGN to follow....

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

More from my favorite

At the risk of repeating myself: if you are teaching advanced beginners (students above USCF 800) and you can afford 30 clams, you must stop what you are doing and buy Winning Chess Exercises For Kids right now!  (No, I'm not getting a commission!)

Another sample:

 White to play and win material

Those of you strong enough to see the correct solution immediately might not notice that there are two (!) traps in an alternative variation that looks completely plausible to beginners.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Deflection is an essential skill in the workplace, too

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

This morning, our theme from Yakov Neistadt's Improve Your Chess Tactics (New in Chess, 2011) is deflection. An enemy piece is performing an important function: can you make it move so that it's no longer performing that function? Two examples:

Atlas-Witrthensohn, Wohn 1993
White to play and win

I love the next one!

Füster-Balogh, Budapest 1946
Black to play and win

GM Shulman annotates Shulman-Bhat

Chess is hard, and chess is cruel.

Despite the header on Yury's PGN, the game was not played in Khanty-Mansiysk, Siberia.  Nor was either player banished to Siberia by their teammates for the exchange of "??" moves.

Both Kamsky and Nakamura in Wijk aan Zee 2012

Hikaru will defend his title against Gata and others: full lineup of the 2012 invitational at ChessVibes.

NM Trevor Magness annotates Byambaa-Schmakel

Lots of good stuff on the Blaze blog that I'd overlooked!  Trevor weighs in on the merits of 18...g5: he is somewhat less enthusiastic than I was.

Eric Rosen simul this Saturday at Marbles on Grand

The good folks at Marbles: The Brain Store are hosting a simul by the 2011 National High School Champion, Senior Master Eric Rosen, this coming Saturday, October 29th, beginning at 11 a.m. Get a jump start on your Christmas shopping, and Marbles will donate 15% of the proceeds to the rejuvenated Illinois Chess Tour. (I was going to say "back from the dead" instead of "rejuvenated," but I was reluctant to allude to zombies when the locale is a "brain store.")

Details here! Thanks to Eric and to Metro VP Mike Cardinale for making this event possible.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The one beginner's book you absolutely MUST buy!

I had never heard of Jeff Coakley before reading teaching guru Elizabeth Vicary's blog.   Follow this link to get some of Coakley's wonderful free chess lesson plans (a software download is required).

If you are teaching advanced beginners (students above USCF 800) and you can afford 30 clams, you must stop what you are doing and buy Winning Chess Exercises For Kids right now!  (The linked site is Canadian: I bought the book on Amazon last month, but they seem to be out of inventory at the moment.)  Be forewarned that these problems are far too difficult for players below USCF 600, and be careful to order the right title (Coakley has authored several books with similar titles: another book, Winning Chess Puzzles for Kids, is a tactics primer for true beginners.)


In the introduction to Winning Chess Exercises for Kids, Coakley promises, "This is at least a year's worth of material," and he delivers!  There are 100 exercise sheets in the book: each sheet is a quiz with nine diagrams: three mates, three combinations to win material, and three "find the best move" problems that develop defensive, middlegame, and endgame skills.  At the bottom of the page, there's a question generally designed to make students think about the way the pieces work. (For example: "What is the most total squares that can be attacked by two rooks?")  Most adults would find the material challenging, but Coakley and illustrator Antoine Duff present the exercises in a kid-friendly format.  (Adults rated 1000 to 1600 may wish to work through the book for their own benefit before using it to teach!)

Over the next couple weeks, I'll post some sample problems from Winning Chess Exercises for Kids.  Here's one:

White to play and mate

National Chess Day at Rudy Lozano Library

Keith Ammann reports on the action at Hector Hernandez's stomping grounds on the ICA website.

Here's an interactive version of the game featured in the article, as annotated by Keith: