Saturday, November 5, 2011

Board 4: Young 1 - Adamson 0

Parents will make sacrifices so their little ones can get ahead in life. So too bishops. With his killer shot on move 60, Angelo Young saved the Blaze from defeat. Well done!

Board 4: Atoufi 1 - Menon 0

Trendsetter Gopal Menon plays the fashionable 4...Qb6!?  (I don't even know the name of this line: 2...Nc6 and 4...Qb6 is the Grivas Sicilian proper, and the Grivas is reached in the game by transposition.)

25...Qb3?! 26.Rda1! did not work well for Black in the game.  Instead, Black could have played 25...Bxc4! 26.Qxc4 Rxa5, the point being that the pawn fork 27.b4 can be met by 27...Ra4 with messy play.

Board 2: Altounian 1 - Felecan 0

Black gets overambitious against White's hypermodern noodling-around and doesn't get enough for the sacrificed pawns.  But Florin sets a beautiful coffeehouse trap on move 32.  Black doesn't take the poisoned queen, but doesn't find one of the several clear winning lines, either, and Felecan is back in the game.

Then 37...Rf6? allows 38.d5!  Ouch.  Chess is hard.

Blaze 2 - Arizona 2: Shulman's Board 1 win

First, belated congratulations to the Chicago Blaze for a fabulous regular season (8 wins, 1 loss, and Monday's tie against the Arizona Scorpions), and best of luck in the playoffs!  (About which more later.)

On Board 1, Mackenzie Molner played a Nimzoindian line that I've always found attractive in the abstract, but never understood well enough to risk in tournament play.  (Black's bishop appears to be trapped after 6...Ba5, but not really.)  Shulman plays for the center, eliminates the pesky Nc5, and creates weaknesses in the Black camp on e6 and c6.  But Molner defends well until a slip on move 39.

Find White's winning move in the diagram below!

Yury Shulman lecture / simul TODAY at Ida Noyes!

Details here.  Might be too late to grab a board, but it's not too late to hear Yury's lecture and kibitz!
University of Chicago
Ida Noyes - East Lounge 1212 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
Saturday, November 5, 4:30PM
Lecture is open to all. Spaces limited for simul, please RSVP to reserve space. You will be sent an email before the event telling you if you have a spot or if you are on the waiting list.
Priority given to active chess club members. Members of the public welcome.

The Pillsbury mate

Another exercise from Jeff Coakley's Winning Chess Exercises For Kids.

 White to play and mate

Be honest: did you have to calculate the solution, or did you solve it instantly because you knew the mating pattern?  (But please don't ask the author of this blog entry to be honest.)

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Larsen shot

Stealing yet again from Yakov Neistadt's Improve Your Chess Tactics (New in Chess, 2011).

Like Petrosian, Bent Larsen was best known as a positional player.  But he too was an outstanding tactician, and in his wonder year 1967, he didn't miss too many shots.

Black has some chances in the knight ending, but does he need to make the game last that long?

Westerinen-Larsen, Havana 1967
Black to play and win

Similar Sandrin slugfests

Irving Chernev, who wrote "Wonders and Curiosities of Chess," would have loved this. The following two games were both played at the U.S. Open, five years apart. The White players were brothers from Chicago named Albert and Angelo Sandrin, who both became Life Masters. In both games, White played exf7+, to which Black responded with ...Kh8. A few moves later, White captured Black's rook on f8 for free and with check, checked again with the capturing piece in order to vacate the f8 square, and then underpromoted his f-pawn to knight, checkmating Black. Commenter "Phony Benoni" (David Moody) at calls the games "definitely a case of sibling rivalry."

Albert's game is from the 1949 U.S. Open, which he won ahead of such luminaries as Larry Evans, Arthur Bisguier, and Anthony Santasiere.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Come join us this Sunday in Lombard... honor Senior Master Andrew Karklins. We're at the same location (Buca di Beppo in Lombard, adjoining the Yorktown Shopping Center), at the same time (1 to 4 p.m.) Jim Brotsos will be our Master of Ceremonies.

Details here!

Buy your ticket here!

If you won't be able to join us this Sunday, please consider making a donation to the Illinois Chess Association's Warren Junior Program in Andrew's honor. (Details here.) Or consider a patron membership in the Illinois Chess Association in Andrew's honor! Details here.

And don't forget that ICA's annual meeting will precede the banquet, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.!

If I told you the tactical theme, the solution would be too obvious....

Here's another position from Yakov Neistadt's Improve Your Chess Tactics (New in Chess, 2011). Former World Champion Tigran Petrosian is rumored to have been a more-than-adequate tactician.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Have I mentioned that I love this book?

The book in question is Jeff Coakley's Winning Chess Exercises For Kids.

 White to play: what's White's best move?
In real life, successful tactics don't always give you a won game, but only a slightly superior position.

A trap in the Ruy Lopez, Alapin Defense

Semyon Alapin was a strong Russian master who originated a number of opening lines, such as the Alapin Opening (1.e4 e5 2.Ne2?!, intending to play a sort of King's Gambit Deferred with f4). The only one of much significance today is his line against the Sicilian, 1.e4 c5 2.c3, a solid line that has been played by many grandmasters and causes fits to higher-rated Black players because it's tough to beat. Among Alapin's lesser-known eponymous variations is Alapin's Defense to the Ruy Lopez. Quick, how many of you know what it is?

It's 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Bb4!?, a really stupid-looking move that does have the virtues of stopping an immediate d4 and preparing to play ...Nge7 without blocking in the bishop. Alapin did reasonably with it, including draws with Steinitz, Blackburne and Schlechter. It's only been played in 40 games in's 600,000-game database, only 25 of those in the last 30 years. That makes it an even rarer bird, by a factor of ten, than Bird's Defense to the Ruy Lopez (3...Nd4), seen in 502 games, 250 of them in the past 30 years.

For such an obscure line, Alapin's brainchild hasn't done badly, including a 22-move win in A. Ivanov-Lugo, U.S. Championship 2005 and a draw in Anand-Hector, Palma de Mallorca 1989.

On to the trap, which comes from IM Gary Lane at this week. After the natural 4.c3 Ba5, inquiring minds will want to know why White can't just win a pawn with 5.Bxc6 dxc6 6.Nxe5, as White played in the above game. Now White could respond to 6...Qg5?! with 7.Nf3! Qxg2 8.Rg1 Qh3 9.Rxg7, since the tempting 9...Bg4 is met by 10.Ng1!, staying a pawn ahead after 10...Bxd1 11.Nxh3. Instead, Black plays 6...Qe7! 7.d4 f6! intending to regain his pawn after 8.Nf3 Qxe4+. But clever Whites will see an apparent flaw in this scheme: 8.Qh5+ g6 9.Nxg6 Qxe4+ 10.Be3 (see diagram) when 10...Qxg6 can be met by 11.Qxa5, e.g. 11...Qxg2 12.Rf1 Bh3 13.Nd2 intending 0-0-0. However, Black rudely surprises White with 10...Bg4!, reaching a winning position. 11.Qxa5 Qxg2 would be fatal, since White's king is not long for this world after 12.Nxh8 Qxh1+ 13.Kd2 Qd1# or 12.Rf1 Qf3. In the game sent in by Lane's reader, Earl Roberts of New Zealand, White tried instead 11.Qh4 Qxg2, and now Lane analyzes 12.Rf1 hxg6 13.Qxh8 Qf3 14.Qxg8+ Ke7 15.Qg7+ Ke6 and Black wins. Instead White stumbled into mate.

Roberts writes that he has lost track of how many times he has been able to reach the position after move 10 in his games, and indeed how many of his opponents have repeated the entire game! Based on this trap and other games submitted by Mr. Roberts, Lane concludes that 3...Bb4 is a good try at club level. Check out Lane's article and give it a shot!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Chess gig on the Intertubes

Cut and pasted from here:

 Chess Team Advisor - South

Type: Athletics/Activities : Activity Sponsor
Posted: 10/20/2011

Available: 2011-2012

Glenbard South

Glenbard South High School has an opening for an Assistant Chess Sponsor for the remainder of the 2011-2012 school year.  This is a Schedule B Group VIII position (0.80 FTE).

Interested candidates should fill out an online application at .

Direct questions to:
Mr. Taff Nielsen, Assistant Principal for Student Services
Glenbard South High School
23W200 Butterfield Road
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137
(630) 469-6500

Final reminder: register for All-Grades in Peoria!

If you're a scholastic player, parent, teacher, or coach, you should really make a road trip to Peoria to play in this great Illinois Chess Association event or to cheer on your kids.  The event determines the Illinois champion for each grade from 1st through 8th.  There's also a high school section.

The Greater Peoria Chess Federation is organizing this year's event on November 5th at the Peoria Grand Hotel.  Two of the top players in the state, Nikhil Kumar Kunche and Timur Aliyev, will be giving simultaneous exhibitions for the students.  Registration closes at 6 a.m. on November 4th: don't disappoint the kids, do it now!

More info here!

Top 200 in Illinois

Check out the November list!

A great deal of endgame wisdom condensed into one position

Jeff Coakley's Winning Chess Exercises For Kids  delivers a healthy dose of endgame wisdom along with the tactical exercises.
White to play and win 

In the general case, are rook endings easy to win?

Another title for Eric Rosen

Sevan Muradian just sent me an email: we have a new FIDE Master.

Eric scored a perfect 12-0 in Saturday's simul to publicize the return of the Illinois Chess Tour.  Having been paid appropriate hush money, we withhold the names of all victims.  Thanks to Mike Cardinale for organizing and for treating seven of us to a wonderful breakfast at Yolk (I hadn't seen Captain Streeter's statue before!), to the kind folks at Marbles for a very nice venue, for Grandmaster Dmitry Gurevich for stopping by to give Eric his good wishes, and to Eric for his volunteer service.

This was the first game to finish, if  only because a player with chess culture knows when to resign:

And here's the finale of the last game.  Black outplayed Eric in the middlegame.  A pawn up, our brave N.N. quite correctly turned down a perpetual check to press Eric for the win.  But it's hard to win a queen ending against a 2400, and no one has had more heartbreaking losses than Nomen Nescio:

P.S. Wow, what a boo-boo I made above! Pattern recognition is not the best substitute for thinking....

Monday, October 31, 2011

This Saturday: Evanston Tri-Level (only $5!)

Another cut-and-paste:
Levy Senior Center 300 Dodge Ave Evanston, IL 60202 Evanston Chess Presents: Tri-Level 4SS G/45 Three Sections USCF Dual Rated Nov 5, 2011 9:00am-5:00pm Section Gold: 1700 and over Section Silver: 1200 - 1699 Section Bronze: Under 1200 and Unrated 1600 - 1699 may play up to Gold. 1100 - 1199 may play up to Silver. Published USCF Regular Rating determins eligibility. Unrated players may be placed up at TD discretion. From time to time Evanston Chess pays one or more titled players to play in our events. We usually do not pair them against each other. Even if they should lose (it does happen) we may pair them with the highest score groups. Four rounds. Digital clocks are required and will be set to G/40 plus 5 seconds delay. Accelerated or decelerated pairings at TD discretion. Sections may be combined at TD discretion. Registration from 9:00 to 9:30 AM. Players must check in by 9:30 am; players who arrive late will receive a half-point bye for the first round. First Round 9:45 am, last round over roughly 5:00 pm. You may take one half-point bye in any round but the last. Entry fee is $5, please pay cash (no checks) at the door. Masters and Experts play free. Send name, USCF number, and telephone number to Junior players (under fourteen years) rated 900+ are welcome. Sorry, but we do not accept junior players rated under 900. Must be accompanied by a parent throughout the event. Bring clocks. -- Wheelchair accessible. No Smoking.

November Top 100 in world

ChessVibes looks at the just-released official FIDE rankings. Hikaru Nakamura (#10) and Gata Kamsky (#19) are the top Americans. Teenager Fabiano Caruana (#23) represents Italy in international play, and also holds dual citizenship in the U.S.

November 12 or 13: GM Akobian Training Session and Simul

Another email cut and paste.  Looks like a very nice event!  For those of you who would prefer to simply play in the simul, that option is also available.
2 sessions available - Saturday Nov 12 or Sunday Nov 13

Enjoy a 6 hour training session with one of the top Grandmasters in the United States - GM Varuzhan Akobian! GM Akobian helped the US team achieve a bronze medal twice in the 2006 and 2008 Chess Olympiads, and a Silver medal in the 2009 World Team Championships. In 2010 GM Akobian was tapped to become the trainer/coach for the US Men's Olympiad Team as well.

You can join GM Akobian in a 6 hour marathon lecture covering openings, middle game, and end-game. He will review popular opening lines, the ideas behind them and how to transition to the middle game along with middle game strategy, and what to do (and not to do) in the end-game. You'll be invited to ask questions and discuss the pro's and con's of variations, along with testing your inner-GM against this battled hardened veteran with on the spot puzzles and challenges.

The session will begin at 11:30am and continue until 5:30pm. After a 30 minute break, GM Akobian will perform a simul. Feel free to bring your personal chess boards if you want GM Akobian to autograph it for you also! Snacks and beverages will be available.

This session is $75 for members of the North Shore Chess Center and $100 for non-members if registered by Friday evening 9pm on Nov 11. Add an additional $20 at the door. Onsite registrations cannot be guaranteed for space!

Seating is limited to 30 people on a first registered basis.

Register online -