Friday, July 27, 2012

Chicago Class: Class D recap

Congratulations to two Illinois players, David Sye and Terrence Aguinaldo, who tied for first in Class D with 4½-½ scores. (Sye's prize was limited to $500 because he had recently had a rating more than thirty points over the class ceiling; Aguinaldo won a full $1,000.)  Another local player, Ga Luang Liu, shared third place with Hongbin Chen of Michigan and Sean Cramer of Ohio: each won $166.67.

David Sye shares nice analysis of what could have occurred in his pawn ending in the money round in his post on

(David titles his post "A complicated endgame position from the Chicago Class," but really, the position is easy if you've taken the time to learn some basic tricks--and there are several cute finesses in this simple-looking position. There might even be lines that David correctly doesn't mention because they're not Black's best try, but are still worth looking at....)

  Class D crosstable is here!

HAL 2000 plays chess

Albert Chow reminds us that yesterday would have been the late Stanley Kubrick's 84th birthday. Here's the most famous chess scene from a Kubrick film:

And here's a nice recap of the game that was the basis of HAL's combination:

For a scene from the noir masterpiece The Killing, see this earlier post.

The scene in The Killing is based on the Chess and Checker Club of New York, also known as the "Flea House," frequented by Kubrick, Bobby Fischer, and many dubious characters. As an innocent teenager visiting Manhattan in the 1970s, I stumbled across the Flea House. On my way up the stairs, I passed a gentleman and two ladies leaving the Flea House attired in such a way that I assumed the "Chess and Checker Club" was a cover name for a house of ill repute. (It was a Saturday night: who knows, I might have been right.) So I turned around and went back down the stairs....

Mesgen Amanov lecture & simul at North Shore Chess Center tomorrow!

Dutch grandmaster Loek Van Wely had to postpone his lecture, but the winner of the 2012 Chicago Class is a more than capable pinch-hitter. Mesgen is not just a great player, but a wonderful teacher! To spend six hours with a grandmaster for the bargain-basement price of $16.67 per hour is a wonderful deal. Details here!

Self-analysis is cheaper than psychotherapy

I had narrowly escaped against NM Nolan Hendrickson at King's Island last year: one would think that I would have learned not to challenge him in an objectively dead-drawn ending.  (Right around the time I made the losing blunder, I told Albert Chow that the game would be over soon: I was right about the timing, but wrong about the result.)

Chicago Class recap: Master Section

You know it's a tough event when you beat a GM and finish out of the money.  WGM Anna Sharevich knocked off GM Nikola Mitkov in round 4, but lost to GM Mesgen Amanov in round 2 and IM Qignam Liu in the final round: ridiculously difficult pairings.  And Gopal Menon defanged GM Mitkov's Grand Prix attack and drew IM Angelo Young in the first two rounds, but had less fun on Saturday night, as he got ground down by GM Dmitry Gurevich in a rather harmless-looking ending. You have just joined a very large club, Gopal.

Oh yes, prizewinners.  GM Amanov converted against IM Young in the last round and made his 4-1 first place on tiebreaks ($1,366.67) look routine.  FM Carl Boor continues to impress: he beat GM Gurevich's pet anti-Catalan system, grinding the grinder down in an ending (no mean feat). IM Qignam Liu also had a very steady event, highlighted by his last-round win against WGM Sharevich.  Both Boor and Qignam Liu won $1,266.67.

I had the pleasure of losing to Guijue Zhou in round 4: in the postmortem, she had the most kind and tactful way of suggesting to me the stupidity of my middlegame planning.  She, Matthew Marsh of Tennessee, and super-junior Kevin Cao of Missouri each won $466.67.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Hangover P.S.

Not the kind that kills brain cells, but the hangover one gets from playing five masters in one weekend. It certainly doesn't feel like I'm imagining mental exhaustion, but this article suggests otherwise.

"A brain without sugar is not a brain": this quotation is traditionally attributed to Alexander Alekhine, though I can't find the source.

Chicago Class hangover report

It's normal to feel exhausted on the morning after a weekend event.  I did not enjoy (deservedly) losing a superior bishop-vs.-knight ending in the last round, but I had fun!

The Nikola Mitkov-Gopal Menon time scramble in round one sounded like an metronome: I have never heard players move as quickly in tournament play as they did.

And it was pure joy to watch Carl Boor and William Aramil analyze a speculative queen sac in another player's Dragon Variation game: they got so engrossed in the possibilities that they were looking at a plethora of variations fifteen to twenty moves deep.

More later: for now, the crosstables are here!

Belated congratulations.... the newest National Master in Illinois, Jonathan Kogen!

Jacqueline Piatigorsky obituary in L.A. Times

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A beautiful miniature

I'm sure some of you have not seen this beautiful miniature, played in 2001 by GM Alex Yermolinsky against Indiana's Emory Tate, who became an IM in 2007. Tate likes to go his own way in the opening. Here he played a type of Schmid Benoni with 1.d4 c5 2.d5 e6 3.Nc3 (Yermo could have played 3.c4, with a regular Benoni) exd5?! 4.Nxd5. On White's sixth move, Fritz much prefers 6.Bf6! to Yermo's 6.Bh4, analyzing 6.Bf6! d6 (6...gxf6?? 7.Nxf6#) 7.Nxe7 Bxe7 (7...gxf6 8.Nxc8 leaves Black with a gruesome pawn structure and a bad bishop) 8.Bxg7 Rh7 9.Bc3, when Black is a pawn down, and against the "Yerminator" might as well resign. After 6.Bh4 Qa5+ 7.c3, Black would have been OK (Fritz says even slightly better) following 7...Nxd5! 8.Qxd5 Nc6 9.e4 d6. Instead, his 7...Nf5?? allowed a stunning coup. Take a look at the diagram below. Do you see it?

Ever since I saw this game, I have tried to pull off the same thing myself in blitz games. I succeeded in Rhine-NN, 5-minute game,, November 19, 2007: 1.d4 c5 2.d5 e6 3.Nc3 exd5 4.Nxd5 d6 5.Nf3 Nf6 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.e4 Qa5+ 8.c3 Nxe4?? 9.Qa4!! Qxa4 10.Nc7#.