Friday, April 27, 2012

Nimzowitsch in Chicago

Two games are known: can you find more?

Permalink here. (pdf)

(Not) Winning a Won Game

Here's another game from last month's ICA Girls' Invitational Championship at the North Shore Chess Center.  I hope that both Adele and Miranda will forgive me for publishing a game in which they made 51 good moves and only one bad one.  But I found this game so instructive because it's so typical.

The stylish way to win a game is by direct attack against the enemy king.  In real life, we don't get to be stylish as often as we'd like.  So we win a piece instead.  When we talk about "winning a piece" in chess, we mean winning a bishop or a knight, worth about three pawns.  In this game,  Miranda wins a piece for a pawn: in quiet middlegame positions, this advantage is usually sufficient for a win.

When you win a piece for a pawn, what's the easiest way to win?  Well, you'd like to use your extra material to queen a pawn and then checkmate with overwhelming force.

But put yourself in your worthy opponent's shoes.  You may be winning, but you have one less pawn than she does.  So if the defender could keep trading one of her pawns for one of your pawns until there was only one pawn left, that extra pawn would be hers.  True, you would still be up a piece, but you'd have to look for a way to checkmate without making a queen.  That's much harder!  (Rule of thumb: in pawnless endings, one often has to be up by five "points" to win.) 

DEFENDERS WANT TO TRADE PAWNS, NOT PIECES.  (Here, we use "pieces" in a second sense: kings, queens, rooks, bishops, and knights, but not pawns.  Yes, I know we can't trade kings.  And yes, we usually talk about chess sets having thirty-two pieces, not sixteen pieces and sixteen pawns: this third meaning of "piece" is actually the most common one.)

THE SUPERIOR SIDE WANTS TO TRADE PIECES, NOT PAWNS.  Every pawn is a potential queen.  Guard your potential queens just as you do the one that's already on the board!

Adele Padgett – Miranda Liu [D45]
ICA Girls’ Invitational
March 31, 2012

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 Be7 5.e3 0–0 6.Be2 c6 7.0–0 Nbd7 8.Bd2 dxc4 9.Bxc4 b5

White to play
Miranda chooses a Meran Variation setup. As White's bishop is not that active on d2, Black should get nice play.

10.Bd3 Bb7 11.e4 a6 12.Rc1 c5 

White to play
 The typical Meran break.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Saddam, Qaddafi, and Tom Dart?

Left to right: Sevan Muradian, FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, 
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, Mikhail Korenman 

Check out this story currently featured on FIDE's home page. The U.S. Secret Service (we know how diligent and task-oriented these fellows are) did let Kirsan meet former Presidents Clinton and Carter. So perhaps I shouldn't be so uptight....

And I don't want Chicago to get a reputation as an ungracious host.  It's important to talk to people with whom we don't agree. Some of them will be in town next month for the NATO summit.

Having said that, I can only reiterate my earlier post.

Both Sevan and Mikhail are friends of mine, so I feel rather awkward posting this.  I would feel even more awkward if I were silent.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov is in Chicago tonight

Evanston Chess $5 Swiss on May 5th

Another email cut-and-paste (fortunately for Sam Schmakel's rating, I'll be in Florida that weekend).  More Evanston Chess info here.

Levy Senior Center, 300 Dodge Ave., Evanston, IL 60202
Evanston Chess Presents:
May 5, 2012, 9:00am-5:00pm
Three x Three, 3SS G/65 delay 5
Three Sections, USCF Regular Rated
Our guest master will be NM Sam Schmakel
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 determines 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.

Three rounds. Digital clocks are required and will be set to G/65 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. No Lunch Break: We need to be finished by 5:00 PM, so there will be no extra time between rounds for lunch.

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.

Pre-registration is encouraged: Help us start on time. 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.

Kramnik 1½ - Aronian 1½

Sergei Shipov annotates Kramnik's win in Game 3 for ChessVibes.

Monday, April 23, 2012

"At Chicago chess tournament, girls rule the board"

Caeley Harihara of Rogers Park is a freshman at Payton 
Photo: Phil Velasquez, Chicago Tribune

Nice coverage in this weekend's Trib.

Local highlights:

Caeley Harihara (photo above) was playing on the top board in final round of the 16 & Under Section.  She lost to 16U winner Lilia Poteat of New York, and finished tied for third with 4-2.

Anjali Toly tied for second in the 12 & Under section, finished 5-1, and gained a bucket of ELO.

Miranda Liu (post-event rating 1675!) scored 5-1 in the 10 & Under Section, finishing tied for third in a 59-player field.

Shreya Managalm (already 1397!) "only" scored 4½-1½ in the 8 & Under Section: Shreya won her first four games, drew the second-place finisher in round 5, and lost to Maggie Ni of Texas in round 6.

Crosstables here.  The KCF All-Girls National Championship (organized by the Kasparov Chess Foundation and Renaissance Knights) drew 230 players in six sections.  And the event will return to Chicago next year!

Kayser Roll

The Black Knights' Tango (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 Nc6!?) is an offbeat but playable opening that many opponents aren't prepared for. GM Joel Benjamin wrote of it (in 2004, admittedly) "Opponents under 2200 tend to be a bit confused. They aren't programmed to meet this move; they can't pull something out of their repertoire." Best for White may be the restrained 3.Nf3 e6 (avoiding 4.Nc3 e5!) and now either 4.Nc3 Bb4 (transposing to a line of the Nimzo-Indian) or the prophylactic 4.a3, as Kasparov has played. My opponent in the game below played 3.d5, which IM Richard Palliser calls "The Lunge." White is probably thinking, "Let's blow this ridiculous opening off the board!," but it's not so easy. After 3...Ne5, he should have continued with the consistent 4.e4 e6 (4...Nxe4?? 5.Qd4) 5.f4 (or, more sedately, 5.Nf3, as Gligoric once played). Instead, he played the flaccid 4.b3?! e6 5.Bb2. After 5...Bb4+, he should have played 6.Bc3!, keeping a playable game. His 6.Nd2?? got crushed by 6...Ne4! 7.Bc1 Qf6! 8.Nf3 and now, while I was contemplating my next move, White resigned. I probably would have played 8...Ng4 followed by crashing in on f2, rather than 8...Nxf3+ 9.gxf3 (9.exf3? Nc3! 10.Qc2 Qe5+ is crushing) Qxa1 (9...Nxf2!?) 10.fxe4, when White could pretend that his "big center" gives him compensation.

Believe it or not, through 7...Qf6, I was following a game between two strong grandmasters! In Marshall-Torre, 1925, the U.S. champion resigned after 7...Qf6. This was an offhand game that they played on board the S.S. Antonia while en route to the Baden-Baden 1925 tournament. Maybe Marshall was seasick. Kayser was not the first player who has fallen into this trap in an Internet blitz game against me. In a 2011 game I played on FICS, rather than play the abject 7.Bc1, White gave up his queen with 7.Bxe5 Bxd2+ 8.Qxd2 Nxd2 9.Kxd2 d6 10.Bb2 (10.Bxg7? Qg5+) exd5 11.cxd5 Qg5+ 12.e3 Qxd5+ and I won.

If you want to learn to Tango, check out Benjamin's articles here and here.