Saturday, January 7, 2012

"Giri wins Reggio Emilia as Nakamura falters"

Friday, January 6, 2012

Touch and Go Chess Party

On this unseasonably warm January afternoon, we really should be playing chess in front of the Art Institute.  I've spent several pleasurable afternoons at the "Touch and Go Chess Party."

The songbirds promised me this morning that springtime woud be here soon: in the meantime, enjoy!

Five studies by Richard Réti

The following study by the great Richard Réti shares a key theme with Wednesday's study by Frederick Rhine. Give it a whirl!

Teplitz Schönauer Anzeiger, 1922
White to play and win

Here's one of Réti's greatest hits:

Hastings and St. Leonards Post, 1922
White to play and win

In the rook versus pawn(s) battle, the defender can use a similar theme:

Shakhmatny Listok, 1929
White to play and draw

Réti's most famous study often appears in beginner's books (but it's far from simple!):

Deutsch Österreichische Tageszeitung, 1921
White to play and draw

Réti composed a variation on this theme that deserves to be better known:

Deutsch Österreichische Tageszeitung, 1921
White to play and draw

You'll find more Réti studies at this cool website and on the highly recommended HHdbIV.

Preregister today for Tim Just's Winter Open tomorrow!

You have until 6 p.m. today (Friday, January 6th) to preregister for this weekend's Tim Just Winter Open XXVIII!   The TJWO is the first event of the Illinois Chess Association's reboot of the Illinois Tour.  (Please thank Mike Cardinale for his work in resurrecting the Tour!)

Play begins at 9 a.m. tomorrow Saturday, January 7th, for the two-day Open and Reserve. Preregistrants in the Open Section include FM Chow and NMs Bungo, Schmakel, Macenis, and Shaw.

Play begins at noon tomorrow for the one-day Scholastic event (in two sections).

Enter here!

You can enter the Scholastic Section here!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The most famous study with a Chicago connection?

Emanuel Lasker & Gustavus Reichhelm
Chicago Tribune, 1901
White to play and win

This is probably the second-most famous study with a World Champion as (co-)composer (Lasker's famous 1890 rook ending gets top honors).  Solution here: block an hour out of your schedule and allow yourself to be mystified.  (But try it yourself first: if the White king makes it to b5, Black has no defense.  And if the White king makes it to g5, Black has no defense.)

HHdvIV gives the source as "Literary Digest 1901," but according to one Wikipedia editor, this version (with kings on a1 and a7) was first published in the Trib.  

Does this study have something to say about the postmodern condition?  (Two fools wandering aimlessly in a barren landscape?)  Marcel Duchamp co-authored a book with the endgame composer Halberstadt that was inspired by this study, L'Opposition et les cases conjugées sont réconciliées (not to be confused with the 1980s electronic music album of the same name by the French band Etant Donnés!).  Andrew Hugill has persuasively suggested that the theory of coordinate squares influenced Samuel Beckett's Endgame.  (Beckett, a chess player, knew Duchamp.)

And please: Vladimir Nabokov composed problems, not studies.

And have I indulged in enough pointless blather for one morning?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

GM lecture series at North Shore Chess Center!

Another email cut and paste.  If you'd like me to plug your event, please drop me a copy with minimal formatting ( is picky).
March of the Grandmasters! Come learn from the best and then take them on!
I'm pleased to announce that the final Grandmaster has been secured for our first 4 months of the year. In March, Grandmaster Yasser Seirawan will be out guest GM joining others before and after him such as GM Akobian, GM Finegold, GM Shankland, GM Kaidanov, and GM Charbonneau!
Don't hesitate for minute about signing up for these great events. The lecture and simul together is $100 for non-members and $75 for members for a 6 hour lecture followed by a simul! Where else can you get that kind of instructional quality for an affordable price!
In the last 2 months of 2011 we brought you GM's Varuzhan Akobian and Ben Finegold. Thanks to the great demand it generated we have a great lineup of Grandmasters heading our way for 2012!
January 14 - Grandmaster Sam Shankland
February 11 - Grandmaster Gregory Kaidanov
 March 17 - Grandmaster Yasser Seirawan 
April 21 - Grandmaster Pascal Charbonneau
The Grandmasters will provide a 6 hour lecture from 11:30am - 5:30pm followed by a simultaneous exhibition.
For details and online registration visit -

Inspired by the Saavedra position

Alexander Fishbein & Dmitry Gurevich 
Illinois Chess Bulletin, 1991 
White to play and win

Matt Pullin tried to solve yesterday's Karstedt study by sacrificing the horsie to transpose to the Saavedra position.  That made me think of this study, co-authored by our own GM Dmitry Gurevich and first published in the Illinois Chess Bulletin.

Solution to yesterday's study (Karstedt, 1911)

You're going to need a couple hints for this one....

This blog's very own Frederick Rhine is the author of today's study (cribbed once again from the terrific HHdbIV).

Frederick Rhine
Chess Life, 2002
White to play and draw 

There was a Karpov-Kasparov game in 1991 that reached the pawnless ending KBNN vs. KR.  The game was drawn, and subsequent research confirmed that this ending is theoretically drawn in the general case.  (The rook can sacrifice itself for the bishop, after which KNN vs. K is drawn.)

Black is threatening checkmate in the above position: do whatever it takes to stop Black!  But kindly do it in the right order.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Lev Alburt website

Grandmaster Lev Alburt knows a little about chess: he's a three-time U.S. Champion, three-time Ukrainian Champion, and lead author of one of the most successful instructional series ever!

Former USCF Executive Director Al Lawrence, one of Lev's frequent co-authors, just rolled out the beta of Alburt's official website.  Check it out!  Doubtless more effective than those ads in the New York Review of Books...and you can order autographed copies for no additional charge!

First event of 2012 Illinois Tour this weekend!

Don't miss the inaugural event of the Illinois Chess Association's 2012 Illinois Tour.  It's the 28th edition of Tim Just's Winter Open!

Once again, the site is the DoubleTree in Oak Brook.  Play begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, January 7th, for the two-day Open and Reserve; play begins at noon Saturday for the one-day Scholastic event (in two sections).  No Bears in the playoffs, no snow in this weekend's forecast: why not play chess?

Enter here!  (Online preregistration closes Friday afternoon.)

You can enter the Scholastic Section here!

Parents will go to great lengths for their children

That study made me think of this one.  I had to dig out my copy of Sutherland & Lommer to find the position.

Max Karstedt
Deutsches Wochenschach, 1911
White to play and win

Solution to Kleiman study

Become the alpha nerd in your club with Dr. Harold van der Heijden's endgame study database HHdbIV!

M. Kleiman 
Chess Life and Review, 1968
White to play and win

Monday, January 2, 2012

Tim Just's Winter Open this coming weekend!

Don't miss the inaugural event of the Illinois Chess Association's 2012 Illinois Tour, the humpty-humpf annual Tim Just's Winter Open. (It's being called the 28th annual TJWO, but that appears to be a conservative estimate: last year, Wayne Clark said that Tim simply lost count!)

The site is the DoubleTree in Oak Brook.  Play begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, January 7th, for the two-day Open and Reserve; play begins at noon Saturday for the one-day Scholastic event (in two sections).

Enter here!  Even with the mildly annoying $3 "convenience" fee, you'd be wise to save time and money by preregistering.  The total cost of $67 (Open and Reserve) is very reasonable.  If you enter on site, it'll cost you $80, plus you'll have to arrive at the site before 8:30 a.m. in order to register.  (There's an additional $10 fee for players rated below 1800 to play in the Open Section.  Any ambitious player rated above 1600 should give this option serious consideration.)

You can enter the Scholastic Section on the same page: $26 for five good games is very reasonable.  (But consider playing in the Reserve section: this is an excellent event for scholastic players to test themselves against adult opponents!)

Check out pre-entries here!

Tournament wrapup on Chess Life Online

Story by Sevan Muradian.  Nice event, interesting format!

The most exciting opening?

One can make a strong argument for the Botvinnik Variation of the Semi-Slav.  The position after Black's 10th move was first reached by Grünfeld (!) in 1936,  Botvinnik came up with the amazing idea of castling queenside in 1941, and in 2012, I have yet to meet a person who claims to understand what's going on in this crazy opening.

Thanks for visiting!

Happy 2012 to you and yours!  In the past week, we've had visitors (more than 5 pageviews) from the US, Russia, German, Japan, France, Poland, the UK, Canada, China, and the Czech Republic.  Even allowing for bots and Chicagoans on the road, that's gratifying and most appreciated!

In lieu of a tip jar, I hope you'll consider donating to the Illinois Chess Association's Warren Junior Scholar Program.  If you choose to follow this blog or share a blogpost, I'd be grateful.

If you'd like to contribute to the blog, please drop me a line!  Always happy to plug upcoming Chicagoland events: lightly formatted HTML suitable for cutting and pasting is always appreciated.

The Nakamura Express pulls away at Reggio Emilia

GMHikaru tweets "The freight train appears to be back on track!"  Hopefully the train will have enough fuel to make it through Wijk aan Zee.  Nakamura's defense of his Tata Steel title begins on January 13th.

In today's game, look at all the compensation Nakamura gets for the investment of a mere wing pawn.

One has to feel for Nikita Vitiugov, who's only 24 years old.  It's hard for a Russian grandmaster to get foreign invitations when the GM is not one of the elite dozen players in the world.  It's doubly hard to play in one's inaugural "2700+ only" event.  Even the teenagers Giri and Caruana are grizzled veterans,  relatively speaking.

For more coverage of today's action, check out The Week in Chess.