Thursday, April 5, 2012

Positively Thompson Street

Fish Men opens this Saturday at the Goodman. From the press release:
Goodman Theatre and Teatro Vista team up for their second world-premiere production with Fish Men, Puerto Rican playwright Cándido Tirado’s new comedic drama about a group of urban chess hustlers drawn together by a shared need to overcome their individual demons. Edward Torres, Artistic Director of Teatro Vista, makes his Goodman directorial debut with this second play of a three-year producing partnership between the Goodman and Teatro Vista, Chicago’s first and largest not-for-profit professional Latino theater company. Fish Men runs April 7 – May 6, 2012 (Opening Night is April 16) in the Goodman’s Owen Theatre. Tickets ($12-$42; prices subject to change) can be purchased at by phone at 312.443.3800 or at the box office (170 N. Dearborn). Sara Lee Foundation is the Owen Season Sponsor. Baxter and Blue Cross Blue Shield are Contributing Sponsors and Hoy is the Spanish Print Media Sponsor.
Cándido Tirado, Teatro Vista’s newest resident playwright and a highly-rated chess master by the United States Chess Federation, explains, “When I graduated from college, I decided I wanted to combine two great loves of my life: writing plays and playing chess. But it wasn’t until 2000, as I was walking by the chess tables in New York’s Washington Square Park, that the play suddenly revealed itself to me. Outwardly, Fish Men deals with the cruel art of the ‘chess hustle’—but underneath it is an exploration of man’s inhumanity towards his fellow man. I am thrilled to premiere this play in Chicago, with Teatro Vista and Goodman Theatre.”
Fish Men plays out in real time on a hot summer day in New York City’s Washington Square Park, where Rey Reyes (Raul Castillo), a survivor of the Guatemalan genocide who is going through his own personal hell, gets snared by a group of chess hustlers. Ninety Two (Howard Witt), a Holocaust survivor, tries to intervene, exposing Rey’s need for vengeance. As the game progresses, the circumstances that stoke the fire of each player’s obsession with the game and their inner demons are revealed.
If the playwright is true to his material, Fish Men will make Gorky's The Lower Depths look life-affirming. 

Ahoy kitty

Cap'n Fred Furtner of the AMA Tornado Snakes
(with kitty mug)

The March issue of The Chicago Chess Player is out.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A trap in the Chameleon Sicilian

This trap comes from the book Invisible Chess Moves: Discover Your Blind Spots and Stop Overlooking Simple Wins by Emmanuel Neiman and Yochanan Afek. In the Chameleon Sicilian, 1.e4 c5 2.Ne2 (other move orders are also possible), White often keeps Black guessing for several moves as to whether he will play an Open Sicilian with d4, or a Closed Sicilian with g3, Bg2, etc. In the latter case, if White holds off on Nbc3 he can try to take over the center with c3 and d4.

The Chameleon can be tricky for Black if his preferred system against the Closed doesn't mesh well with his preferred Open Sicilian. In Bacrot-Relange, Black responded with 2...d6 (a Najdorf player would be unhappy after 2...Nc6 3.d4) 3.g3 d5!? Now 3.cxd5 Qxd5 would be awkward for White. Best may be the gambit 3.Bg2 dxe4 4.Nbc3!?, when 4...f5!? 5.0-0 Nf6 6.d3 exd3 7.Nf4 Nc6 8.Re1 dxc2 9.Bxc6+ bxc6 10.Qxc2 gave White compensation for the two sacrificed pawns in Baklan (2618)-Tukhaev (2466), Alushta 2007 (1/2-1/2, 38). Bacrot preferred 4.Nbc3, and after 4...d4! he should have retreated with 5.Nb1. Instead, he lunged forward with the aggressive-looking 5.Nd5??, overlooking Relange's surprising 5...g5! trapping the knight. After 6.d3 h6! (avoiding 6...e6? 7.Bxg5!) 7.Bg2 e6, White was losing a piece for just one pawn. Although he fought on, the outcome was never in doubt.

Rybka solves the King Gambit?

If you know Bobby Fischer's famous article "A Bust to the King's Gambit" (PDF), you might be interested in this ChessBase article.

Alpha nerds discussed the matter in some detail on Slashdot, which is particularly interesting in light of this followup article (which certainly changed my attitude!)  Of course, I currently play 1...e5, so I would have an inherent bias.....

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

"Winding Down"

Back in January, NM Tom Braunlich started a topic on the USCF Issues Forum titled "Analog Clocks Now 'Obsolete'?" (USCF membership required). In one of his posts to this topic, he proposed that the USCF should "make a more prominent announcement in Chess Life and CLO that this change has come and that analog clocks are being phased out." As a onetime journalist, I realized such an announcement would receive little notice on its own, and it would draw much more attention if it were embedded in a feature story about the history of the analog chess clock. I pitched the idea to CL editor Dan Lucas, and he gave me the go-ahead to write it. It's the cover feature of the April 2012 Chess Life.

For the record, I have no idea why the article is illustrated with two pictures of weird-looking digital clocks. (The picture on page 32, reproduced above, is of a Fattorini & Sons "tumbling clock" of the style used in the 1880s and '90s.) Also, if the first page reads funny, it's because my original five artfully constructed paragraphs were glommed together into one big one. Alas, we cannot dictate how our children live once they leave home.

2nd Annual Scott Silverman Memorial April 14-15

Another email cut and paste:
The 2nd Annual Scott Silverman Memorial will be held on Saturday April 14 and Sunday April 15. The event is in memory of one of our dearly beloved fellow chess players that passed away in 2005. 
The event is a 4R-SS Game-90 + 30/sec increment tournament. There will be 2 rounds played per day. The EF is $30 for members of the North Shore Chess Center and $40 for non-members. 
This is a Plus Score tournament with the following prize structure: 4.0=$150, 3.5=$100, 3.0=$75, and 2.5=$50. There will be 6 masters invited to the event and the remaining 34 spots for non-master players. The event is both USCF and FIDE rated.
If you are going to play - please register immediately for this in order to secure your space. Once the limit is reached we are done. Register and pay online at 
 If you have any questions please email Sevan Muradian.

AP coverage of Karpov visit in Washington Post

CHICAGO — Call it the Sheriff’s Gambit.
A sheriff in Illinois is turning to kings, queens and rooks to help teach inmates at his jail not to behave like pawns.
Story here.

Karpov finally makes a successful prison visit

Former world champion Anatoly Karpov tried to visit his successor, Garry Kasparov (briefly detained in Moscow in 2007 for organizing an anti-Putin rally).  The authorities did not allow Karpov to see Kasparov in jail.  As far as I know, Kasparov never attempted to visit his predecessor, Bobby Fischer, during Fischer's detention in Japan.

But yesterday, Karpov visited chess players in Chicago's Cook County Jail.  The lucky inmates accomplished something that Fischer and Kasparov weren't able to do.

Karpov comes to Chicago regularly as a guest of Mikhail Korenman.  This visit, Karpov and Korenman dropped in on Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart to announce a prison chess program.

Brilliant idea!  (Check out the audio: it's a bit disconcerting to this Chicagoan to hear WBBM's John Cody talk about Tom Dart and Karpov in the same sentence.)

I would love to see Dr. Korenman or someone else take this idea one step further.  The average reading level of Cook County juvenile detainees is at the second-grade level.  That's not far from functional illiteracy, and that's a tragedy.  Granted, some of these young people may never have the intellectual capacity or emotional maturity to turn their lives around.  But at least a few of these young people must have these tools: chess could help them prove to themselves that they're smart enough to succeed in an information economy.  If we could help a handful turn their lives around, such a program would be very much worth doing.  (Why chess?  Like mathematics and music, very little cultural capital is required.  With the proper instruction, innate talent will take one far.)

We Cook County taxpayers already shell out $225,000 per year to detain one teenager: as Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has noted, that's enough to pay for an entire undergraduate education at a fine private school.  And if that teenager remains Trouble with a Capital T (and let's be honest, doesn't Mikhail Korenman remind you of Robert Preston in The Music Man?), then what's the present value of that teenager's future cost to society?   How much is it worth spending now to avoid ruined lives, victims' suffering, police and judicial and prison expenditures?  We have selfish reasons to turn a few lives around.

Chess won't magically turn inmates or juvenile detainees into model citizens.   (Blitz winnings from the North Avenue Pavilion have been used to buy crack.)  But perhaps it can help some of them think before they act, or at least give them a pleasant and productive way to spend their time in detention.  And if chess can show a few of them that they have great talents that they must not waste, the return on human capital is potentially enormous!

Hat tip to Albert Chow for the following link to WLS's television coverage. (Short commercial first.) Chicago tournament players may see a familiar face in the video.

Monday, April 2, 2012

April 7 in New Lenox: Warriors Open and Reserve

$5 entry fee: such a deal!  The site is Lincoln-Way West High School: info here.

A Rook Ending from the Denker

Here's a position from Moskwa v. Kogen that illustrates the differences between rook endings and queen endings discussed in the last post.

Robert's pawn is nearer to queening but that's not nearly as big an advantage in a rook ending because the Black rook will sacrifice itself for the new queen after which the White rook won't be able to handle the Black king and connected pawns alone and may be forced to sacrifice itself in return.  A queen could handle the Black king and pawns with ease.

The game went 39.Rc8 Rd3 40.Ke6 b3 41.d7 a4 42.d8=Q+ Rxd8 43.Rxd8 Kc5 and in order to draw White will have to hustle his king over to help with the defense and sacrifice his rook at the right moment.  On the other hand, 39.e5! would have won after 39....Rd3 40.e6 Rd5+ 41.Ke4 Rxd6 42.e7 42.Rxe7 42.Rxe7  because the White king is close enough to assist the rook before the Black pawns advance too far.

Cross posted at Prospect Chess

A Queen Ending from the Denker

One of the places that I thought Robert Moskwa might run into trouble at the Denker Qualifier due to the relatively short time he has been playing serious chess was in the endgame.  Although his calculation skills are excellent, you often don't have enough time left to calculate as thoroughly as needed when you reach the endgame.  As a result, the kind of general understanding of endgame principles that you can only get by experience, especially painful experience, can be very important.

Nowhere is the lack of time felt more than in queen endings.  On nearly every move, the players must try to visualize the consequences of an avalanche of checks.

In most endings, a player must carefully weigh the value of advancing a pawn closer to the queening square against the possibility of it becoming weak due to lack of support.  Hence, the general endgame principle of pieces before pawns, i.e., unless the ending is a pure pawn race, players should try to improve the position of their pieces before they advance their pawns.

In queen endings, however, advanced pawns are much less likely to become a liability.  This is because a queen has the ability to protect a pawn and control the squares in front of the pawn at the same time without hindering the pawn's advance.  A king can blockade a pawn that is only supported by a knight, a rook, or a bishop, but it is helpless to stop the advance of a pawn supported by a queen.  In fact, it often has to worry about being mated. Even another queen acting alone cannot hold back a pawn supported by a queen.

The flip side of the queen's ability to advance a pawn without assistance is its ability to oppose a king and a pawn without assistance.  Acting alone, a knight, a rook, or a bishop has difficulty holding back a pawn supported by a king and can often be forced to sacrifice itself to prevent a pawn from queening.  A queen on the other hand has very little trouble holding back a pawn by itself.  In fact, it can often hold back several pawns.

The upshot of all this is that having the farthest advanced pawn is of paramount importance in queen endings.  It is not unusual to see a deficit of several pawns be offset by a single pawn that has reached the sixth rank because the extra pawns can be easily rounded up if the defender can be forced to sacrifice his queen.

All of this brings us to the following position from Moskwa v. Meduri.

Fearing Black's g-pawn, Robert played 59.d7+? Qxd7 60.Qxg3 and the game ended in a draw.  However, despite the fact that Black's g-pawn is as near to its queening square as the White's d-pawn, the Black pawn is not supported by its queen and the Black queen is needed to defend against mating threats.  After 59.c5!, Black can't play 59...g2 because of 60.Qb8+ Kf7 61.Qb7+ Kf8 62. Qxg2.  If Black tries 59...Qd7, 60.c6! is devastating.

Cross posted to Prospect Chess

A crucial win by George Li from yesterday's Barber Qualifier

George Li – Spencer Lehmann 
Illinois Chess Association Barber Qualifier, Round 4
Skokie, April 1, 2012 
Catalan Opening [E04] 

This interesting game does credit to both young players!

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Nf3 dxc4 5.Bg2 a6!? 

 White to move
5...a6 creates the possibility of holding the gambit pawn

A couple critical anti-Catalan lines begin with this move.

6.a4 c5! 

With a pawn on a4, White doesn't have Qa4+.


Karpov played 7.0–0 here.

7...cxd4 8.Qxc4 Nc6 

Black has gotten the better of the opening so far...


Black to move
Can Black keep the extra pawn for good?


If Black can get away with this, White's in big trouble. I like Black after the modest 9...Be7.


White finds a very cool variation: the next few moves are virtually forced for both sides.

10...Qc7! 11.Bxc6+! bxc6 

 White to play
As we learned from White's previous move, 
the Qc7 is overloaded protecting f7 and c6, so....

12.Nxf7! Qxf7 13.Qxc6+ Qd7 14.Qxa8

Winning a boatload of material.

 Black to play
How to develop?


14...Bd6!? takes the b8 square away from White's queen. Black has some compensation after 15.Bg5 0–0 16.Qg2.


Houdini points out 15.Nd2! 0–0 16.Ne4! (threatening Nxc5, attacking the Qd7) 16...Be7 17.Nxf6+ Bxf6 18.Qe4.

Some famous master (forgive me for forgetting who: maybe it was a go master!) argued that whenever you have a piece stuck in enemy territory, retreating isn't always the best option. Instead, look for ways to do something useful on another part of the board. The Qa8 is a problem for White (how to extricate?), but it is also a problem for Black (how to complete development with an enemy queen in the camp?).


As White's queen can't be trapped, this may be oversophisticated. (I think Spencer wanted to deny the b3 square to White, and it's nice to dream of mate on h2 after ...Qh3 and ... Ng4.

I prefer 15...0–0 16.Qb3+ Kh8:

White to play (analysis diagram)
Black is OK!

Black is down an Exchange and a pawn, but Black's position is OK. (For what it's worth, the computer tentatively agrees: Houdini even gives Black a slight edge at 17 ply.)

  1. Black is ahead in development. 
  2. In many middlegames, a rook and two bishops are fully a match for two rooks and a bishop. 
  3. White had to give up his best minor piece, the Bg2, to win the Exchange. The Bc8 is unopposed, and has the pleasant choice between ...Bb7 and a future ...Bh3. 
  4. Black has an impressive pawn center. 
  5. The f2 square is a potential target: the Rf8, Bc5, and Nf6 are all ready to hit that square. 

Having said all that, the position is perfectly OK for White, too!

16.Qc7! Be7 

16...Qh3?? 17.Qxc5 Ng4 18.Qxc8+ Kf7 19.Qb7+ followed by Qg2 crushes the dream.

17.Bg5 Nd5 18.Qc1 

White had to foresee this move.

18...Bb7 19.f3! 0–0 20.Bxe7 Qxe7 

There go the beloved two bishops! But the e3 square is rather weak....


 Black to play
A question of move order


The natural move should be 21...Ne3 (Euwe's rule of thumb: a knight on the sixth supported by a pawn is worth the Exchange.) 22.Rf2 Rc8 23.Qb1 Bd5 and it's not clear how White untangles.

22.Qb1 Qg5

If Black plays 22...Ne3 White can now reply 23.Rc1 : move order matters!

White to play
Time to move some furniture

23.Ne4! Qe3+ 24.Rf2 Rc6 25.Qe1 Rc2

White to play
As a general policy, what is the best defense?


No fear!

26...Rc1+ 27.Rxc1 Qxc1+ 28.Rf1 Qe3+ 29.Nf2 

Black to play
Rearrangement almost complete: the rest is technique

29...Qg5 30.Qc5 Ne3 31.Rc1 Nf5 32.Qc4+ Kf8 33.Qb4+ Kg8 34.Qb3+ Kf8 35.Rc7 Nd6 36.Rxb7 Qc1+ 37.Kg2 Nc4 

Black understands that the piece-down ending is hopeless.

38.Rb8+ Ke7 39.Qb7+ Ke6 40.Re8+ Kf6 41.Ng4+ Kg6 42.Re6+ Kh5 43.Qf7+ g6 44.Qxh7+ Kg5 45.Qxg6# 1–0 

Illinois Youth Invitational Championships

Results are here!

Congratulations to the winners:

In the Illinois Chess Association Denker Qualifier (High School Invitational Championship), NM Sam Schmakel took clear first with a 4½-½ score, and wins the right to represent Illinois at the Denker Tournament of High School Champions.

In the ICA's Girls' Invitational Championship, Miranda Liu took first on tiebreaks over Penny Xu, each with an undefeated 4-1 score.  Miranda wins the right to represent Illinois in a national event.

In the ICA's Barber Qualifier (K-8 Invitational Championship), George Li took clear first with 4½-½ and wins the right to represent Illinois at the Barber K-8 Tournament of Champions.

Thanks to Sevan Muradian and the North Shore Chess Center for hosting and directing this event, to Warren Program director Pattie Zinski and the ICA Youth Committee members who organized this event for ICA (Brad and Andi Rosen were instrumental, I'm sure there were others), to Vince Hart for his absolutely amazing coverage on this blog (scroll to the many posts below for a treat), and to the players, coaches, and parents who helped make this happen.   Eight-year-old Shreya Mangalam deserves special mention for stepping in as a last-minute replacement, even though she was the youngest and lowest-rated player in the field.  Shreya's score does not reflect her excellent play!

I'll look at some of the games in detail as busy season allows.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Denker Round 5

Barber Round 5

Girls' Invitational Round 4

Youth Invitationals: Fifth Round


Denker Qualifier

 Qazi v.  Moskwa 1-0
 Kogen v.  Schmakel  0-1
 Meduri  Dubin 0-1

Girls' Invitational 

Xu v. Padgett 1-0
Harihara v. Liu 0-1
Provine v. Mangalam 1-0

Barber Qualifier

Adve v. Li  1/2-1/2
Turner v. Sun 1/2-1/2
Lehmann v.  Kalgahtgi 0-1
Bronfeyn v. Hrach 1/2-1/2
Heil. Gilchrist 1-0
Do v. Xiao 1-0

3:05 PM  The final round is underway. 

3:15 PM  Kogen and Schmakel are playing a Closed Ruy Lopez (Petrosian variation I think).  Qazi is playing an Anti-Sicilian line with Bc4 and Qf3.  Meduri has played the Advance against Dubin's French. 

3:20 PM  Xu is playing the Tarrasch against Padgett's French.  Harihara is playing the Grand Prix Attack against Liu's Sicilian and Provine and Mangalam are playing the same variation of the Ruy Lopez as Kogen and Schmakel. 

3:25 PM  Adve plays the Austrian Attack against Li's Pirc.  Lehmann is playing the Yugoslav Attack against  Kalgahtgi's Dragon.  

3:30 PM  Hrach is playing the Petroff.  Gilchrist played the English Defense against the English Opening.  Sun played 1...c5 against Turner's English. Do and Xiao are in a Ruy Lopez.

3:35 PM   One might expect Dubin and Meduri to be peaceably inclined after tough losses in the fourth round, however, Meduri might have a little extra motivation as he is 0-4 lifetime against Dubin.  They first played at the 2002 National Youth Action Tournament and they last played at the 2006 Illinois Open.

3:45 PM   Meduri had sacrificed a piece to expose Dubin's king.  Kogen has closed the center with d5 so a lot of maneuvering can be expected.

3:55 PM   Adve has sacrificed a couple of pawns and castled long in an effort to get at Li's king, but Li has been happily accepting such material and cooling defending all tournament.

4:00 PM  First result:  Kalgahtgi beats Lehmann.

4:15 PM Kogen, Schamkel, Meduri, and Dubin have been competing against one another for a long time.  All four played in the primary section of the 2003 Illinois K-8 Tournament. Dubin finished 4th, Schmakel 5th, Meduri 7th and Kogen 19th.

4:20 PM Heil and Gilchrist have reached an ending with rooks and opposite colored bishops.  Heil has more space but Gilchrist controls the only open file.

4:25 PM Dubin seems to be weathering Meduri's attack.

4:30 PM  With a three pawn disadvantage, Adve accepts Li's offer of a draw.  One less tiebreak for Sevan to worry about.  Li will be Illinois' representative Barber Tournament of K-8 Champions. 

4:40 PM  Schmakel traded his bishops for Kogen's knights and has now planted a knight on d3 supported by a pawn on c4 and backed by the other knight on c5.

4:45 PM Harihara has sacrificed an exchange and is trying to get at Liu's king.   So far this round, the recipients of the sacrifices have been getting the better of things.

4:55 PM  Moskwa and Qazi have both castled queenside.  Moskwa is trying to gain some space on that side with his pawns, but Qazi knight is firmly ensconced on d5.

5:00 PM  Sun and Turner agree to a draw.  Meduri is still attacking.  He has two extra pawns one of which is a passer on e6.  Dubin has an extra bishop but for the moment it is sitting on c6 and doing little more than his pawns on b7 and d5. 

5:05 PM  Do beats Xiao.

5:15 PM  Heil beats Gilchrist.

5:20 PM Qazi has pawns on g5 and f5, and Moskwa's bishop on g7 is looking uncomfortable.  Kogen took the knight on d3 with his bishop and Schmakel is spent a long time deciding to recapture with the knight rather than the pawn.

5:50 PM  Bronfeyn and Hrach draw.  The Barber Qualifier is complete.  

5:55 PM  Liu has held of Harihara's attack and is still up the exchange and a pawn.  Xu has a knight and rook against Padgett's bishop and rook and is trying to exploit Padgett's isolated d-pawn.  Mangalam is down a pawn.

6:05 PM  Schmakel still has a very pretty looking knight on d3, but Kogen seems to have done a good job of clearing all his pieces out of the vicinity.

6:10 PM  Meduri only has one pawn for the bishop now, but the bishop is not contributing anything to the defense.  Qazi is generating some nasty pressure down the f-file.

6:15 PM  Liu defeats Harihara.  Xu managed to pick of Padgett's isolated d-pawn.  Schmakel has gone up a pawn on Kogen.

6:20 PM  It looks like Qazi has a draw by repetition if he wants it.

6:25 PM  Schmakel goes up an exchange.  Qazi declines to repeat.

6:30 PM  Provine has bishop against knight plus two pawns.

6:35 PM  Xu has knight, rook and extra passed pawn against bishop and rook.  Schmakel is pressing home his advantage.

6:40 PM  Qazi has gone up a pawn on Moskwa.  They both have a queen and a bishop left.  Dubin is finally creating some threats of his own.

6:45 PM Schmakel gives back the exchange to create connected passers on Kogen's third rank.  Qazi picks off a second pawn.  Meduri has no extra pawns now but he still has a passed pawn on e6.

6:45 PM Kogen resigns.  Only one set of tie breakers for Sevan to worry about. Quazi goes up by a piece.

6:50 PM Qazi defeats Moskwa.  Liu defeats Mangalam.  Xu defeats Padgett.

6:55 PM  Schmakel is the Denker representative.  Liu takes first on tie breakers.  Dubin trades off the queens and rooks leaving him with the extra bishop.

7:00 PM  Dubin maintains his hex on Meduri.  All the games are done.

10:00 PM 5th round games from the Denker and the Barber are posted.

Barber Round 4

Denker Round 4

Youth Invitationals: Fourth Round

After three rounds, the unofficial standings are as follows:

Denker Qualifier

2.5   Schmakel  
2.5   Kogen      
2.0   Moskwa
1.5   Meduri
0.5   Qazi
0.0   Dubin

Girl's Invitational

2.5  Xu
2.5  Liu
2.0  Harihara
1.0  Provine
1.0  Padgett
0.0  Mangalam

Barber Qualifier

3.0  Li
2.0  Bronfeyn
2.0  Lehmann
2.0  Kagahtgi
1.5  Turner
1.5  Sun
1.0  Do
1.0  Gilchrist
1.0  Hrach
0.5  Xiao
0.5  Heil

Pairings for the fourth round:

Denker Qualifier

Dubin v. Qazi  0-1
Moskwa v. Kogen  0-1
Schmakel v. Meduri  1-0

Girl's Invitational

Liu v. Xu  1/2-1/2
Harihara v. Provine 1/2-1/2
Padgett v. Mangalam 1/2-1/2

Barber Qualifier

Li v. Lehmann  1-0
Adve v. Bronfeyn 1-0
Sun v.  Kalgahtgi  1-0
Turner v. Do 1-0
Hrach v. Gilchrist  1-0
Xiao v. Heil 0-1

9:55 AM: The players are at their boards.  The big game this morning is between the leaders in the Girls' Invitational, Xu and Liu.  Schmakel plays his two highest rated opponents today, Meduri and Kogen.

10:05 AM:  The round is underway.  We have Dubin playing the Samisch against Qazi's King's Indian.  Kogen played 1...e5 and Moskwa is playing the Scotch Gambit.  Padgett is playing a one of those miscellaneous 1.d4 openings that I have trouble telling apart (and beating for that matter).  Harihara is playing the King's Indian Attack against Provine's French.  Liu played 1.d4 and both she and Xu have fianchettoed their king's bishops.  Li and Lehmann are in an Open Catalan. 

10:10 AM:  Bronfeyn has played Alekhine's Defense and Kalgahtighi the Dragon.  Turner played the English and Hrach played the Italian.  Xiao and Heil are in a Closed Sicilian.

10:15 AM:  Schmakel played the English against Meduri and they appear to be in the neighborhood of the Open Reti.  Kogen declined Moskwa's gambit and the queens and two pairs of minor pieces are gone already. 

10:25 AM:  Qazi decided to attack Dubin's center with ...c5 rather than ...e5 and the position is looking Benoni-ish.  Lehmann is playing the same line against Li that he played against me at Tim Just's Winter Open.  I managed to win that one, but Li had best not underestimate his opponent's understanding of the positions.  I think it's the Colle that Padgett is playing with the thematic kingside expansion with Ne5 and f4.

10:30 AM:  Sun is developing in classical fashion against Kalgahtgi's Dragon.

10:40 AM:  Xu and Liu have morphed into a Dragon formation with Liu developing her light squared bishop on g2.  Moskwa has two rooks, a knight, and six pawns against Kogen's two rooks, bishop, and six pawns, but Kogen's pieces are on their original squares and he has lost the right to castle.   Hard to say whether White's lead in development means much with so much material gone.

10:45 AM:  Qazi was frustrated to only have 1/2 point after a tough endgame loss to Meduri last night, but when you've been playing rated chess for less than three years 1/2 point isn't bad against three oppponents with an average rating over 2150.

10:50 AM:  Adve has traded three of his pawns for one of Bronfeyn's knights.

10:50 AM:  Padgett is building up the pressure on the kingside.  Dubin has a half-open f-file to work with but Qazi has an outpost for his knight on e5.

11:05 AM:   Denker trivia:  Moskwa is the only player rated under 2150 to score a point against Meduri in the last eight months.

11:15 AM:   More Denker trivia.  Meduri and Schmakel have played six USCF games against each other.  Schmakel holds a 4-2 edge, however Meduri has a win and two draws in their last three meetings.  Meduri also drew Schmakel at IHSA tournament in February. That draw cost Schmakel a share of the first medal on first board which went to Moskwa.  Dubin went 7-0 on second board including a win over Qazi.  Kogen did not play because Deerfield High School does not have a chess program.

11:20 AM:   Li has gone up the exchange against Lehmann.  Hrach is attacking Gilchrist's king.

11:25 AM:   Kogen and Moskwa are in a double rook plus even pawns endgame.  Kogen has a,b,d,g and h-pawns.  Moskwa has a,d,e,g and h-pawns.

11:30 AM:   Kalgahtgi is up a piece on Sun.  Correction:  material is still even.  I didn't notice Sun's threats.

11:40 AM:   Qazi has won a queen for a rook and a knight.

11:45 AM:   Hrach has traded three minor pieces for a rook, a knight, and two pawns.  Li has added a pawn to his exchange advantage but his king is under some pressure.

11:50 AM:   Kogen and Moskwa each control one of the open files, but neither can achieve unhindered penetration with the rooks.  Meduri and Schmakel looks pretty even.

11:55 AM:   Harihara has gone up by a pawn.  Queens are gone.  Xu and Liu are still even material and development.  

12:00 PM:   First result, Sun defeats Kalgahtgi.

12:10 PM:   Schmakel has given up the exchange against Meduri, but he has a lead in development and Meduri has a knight that looks none too secure.  Moskwa and Kogen have traded a pair of rooks.

12:15 PM:  Heil has the exchange for a pawn.  Li is up a rook and on a king hunt.  

12:15 PM:  Li defeats Lehmann.  

12:20 PM:  Harihara and Provine are down to rooks plus bishops of opposite colors with Harihara on the offensive with an extra pawn.  If the rooks come off it will be very drawish but until then the chances are on Harihara's side.   

12:25 PM:  Meduri's king is still in the center and Schmakel's trying to keep it there.  He has a big lead in development for the exchange. 

12:30 PM:  Bronfeyn has gotten one of his extra pawns down to b2.

12:35 PM:  Hrach is up the exchange but both his rooks are en prise and he is getting low on time.  Padgett has a lot of pressure on Mangalam's king but hasn't found a way to break through yet.

12:45 PM:  Heil defeats Xiao.

12:50 PM:  Adve was able to round up the pawn on b2 but Bronfeyn still has three pawns for a bishop.  Schmakel is starting to pick up material.  Kogen and Moskwa have taken each other's isolated pawns leaving them both with connected passers.  Moskwa's are in the center and slightly farther advanced.

12:55 PM:  The rooks have come off the board in Harihara v. Provine.  Harihara still has an extra pawn, but bishops of opposite colors are terribly drawish.

1:00 PM:  Xu has an extra pawn in a queen and rook ending but her king is slightly more exposed. 

1:05 PM:  Schmakel defeats Meduri.  Provine looks like she has Harihara's extra pawn well blockaded.

1:10 PM:  Xu and Liu draw.  Mangalam and Padgett draw.

1:15 PM:  Moskwa has a pawn on d6 and Kogen's king is cut off.  Hrach liberated his rooks and now he is up the exchange and several pawn.  Adve got one of his pawns back.

1:20 PM:  Kogen is going to have to give up his rook for Moskwa's d-pawn, but then his own connected passers will be hard to stop. 

1:25 PM:  Hrach defeats Gilchrist.

1:35 PM:  Kogen's passers prove unstoppable and he defeats Moskwa.  Qazi defeats Dubin.

1:45 PM:  Turner beats Do.  Provine and Harihara draw.

1:55 PM:  Adve has bishop and h-pawn against two isolated pawns for Bronfeyn but the bishop controls the queening square.

2:00 PM:  Sevan is trying to figure out all the tiebreak permutations in Kogen and Schamkel draw in the last round.

2:05 PM:  Adve beats Bronfeyn.

2:30 PM:  Denker Round 4 games are posted.