Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Ronen Horror Blunder Show!

Just in time for Halloween, Israeli GM Ronen Har-Zvi gives us Part I of The Ronen Horror Blunder Show!, a terrifying collection of blunders in 2012 by super-GMs like Carlsen, Aronian, Topalov, and Gelfand. If you thought your blunders were bad, wait till you see the whoppers produced by the 2700+ crowd. Good stuff.

An aside: Har-Zvi became famous, 10 years later, for having introduced a stunning novelty in the 3.Bb5+ Sicilian, 16...d5!!, in Rublevsky-Har-Zvi, 1993, a game that does not appear in the databases, nor in Chess Informant. Somehow that game, and 16...d5!!, remained unknown to almost everyone until 2003, when the move was "reintroduced" in Delchev-Ivanchuk and other games. Another fun fact: after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Bd7 4.Bxd7+, 4...Nxd7 is played much less often than the stock 3...Qxd7, but scores better. GM John Fedorowicz, at his lecture at the North Shore Chess Center earlier this month, revealed that 3...Bd7 4.Bxd7+ Nxd7 is his favorite line against 3.Bb5+. Then there's 3...Kxd7??!, played in the eight-move draw Kochyev-Levin, 1992, but somehow that one hasn't caught on.

Jim Brotsos to receive 2012 Broughton Award

More info later (I'm running out the door): please join us on Saturday, November 17th, at 1 p.m. to honor Jim for a lifetime of service to Illinois chess!

Alumni Room, Koehneke Community Center, Concordia University, River ForestSaturday, Nov. 17, 1:00 PM

Brooklyn Castle opens in Chicago on November 2nd

Take your mind off the election, and see something more edifying...

Email from USCF:

Dear Chess Enthusiasts, 

The new award-winning documentary "Brooklyn Castle” is coming to the big screen in Chicago! Brooklyn Castle follows the successes and challenges of IS 318 in Brooklyn, NY, the most successful middle school chess team in the nation. While working to excel at the chess board, the students and teachers face another major hurdle as cutbacks to after school programs threaten the very existence of their program. It's an inspiring story of what it takes to be a champion, on the chess board, and in life. 

The film opened in New York City to major press support from such diverse outlets as the New York Times, NBS's Today Show, Sports Illustrated and Teen Vogue. It's great news for competitive chess and we hope you will support it when it opens in your area. And tell your friends, family, teachers, co-workers, they'll love it. Bring a group. 

As one reviewer put it:
"... it honestly makes no difference if you don’t even know the rules of chess and have never visited New York; this is a story about human potential and the lingering possibilities of the American dream." 

 Brooklyn Castle begins playing on Friday, November 2 at the Landmark Century Cinema 2828 North Clark Street, Chicago IL 60657 Visit this page to buy your tickets in advance. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pulling the trigger

It takes a certain amount of intestinal fortitude to sacrifice a piece against a Grandmaster. Even strong masters can be faint of heart at the critical moment, as Kevin Bachler explains:

Tough nuts to crack

A trap in the Three Knights Game

After 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6, White's 3.Nc3 invites Black to play the Four Knights Game with 3...Nf6. If Black doesn't want to do that, 3...g6 is an alternative. But Black has to be vigilant after 4.d4 exd4 5.Nd5!? Bg7 6.Bg5! Correct is the counterintuitive 6...Nce7!, when Black will drive back White's pieces with ...c6 and ...h6. For a famous example where this strategy succeeded, see Gufeld-Petrosian, USSR (ch) 1969. The natural 6...Nge7? on the other hand (see diagram), is a bad mistake. After 7.Nxd4!, Black is in big trouble. Black drops the queen after 7...Nxd4? 8.Bxe7. Best is 7...f6!, when Black loses a pawn but can play on. What happens after 7...Bxd4?? Black found out in the following game.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A trap in the Richter-Veresov

The Richter-Veresov Attack (1.d4 d5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bg5 or 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Bg5) is the mirror image of the Ruy Lopez. It's generally considered harmless, but, as I discovered in an Internet blitz game today, that doesn't mean that Black can afford to be careless. After 3...Bf5 4.f3, White hopes to expand in the center with 5.e4. Black's most popular response is 4...Nbd7; 4...Bg6 and 4...c6 are also playable. If I got this position again, I'd probably play 4...c5, which is a little unusual but scores well. I was surprised to discover that the natural 4...e6 is a fatal blunder! After simply 5.e4! (see diagram) White wins a piece, e.g. 5...dxe4 (5...Bg6 6.e5 is similar) 6.fxe4 and now (a) 6...Bxe4 7.Nxe4 Nxe4?? 8.Bxd8; (b) 6...Bg6 7.e5 h6 8.Bh4! and Black's usual rejoinder, 8...g5, is illegal; (c) 6...h6 7.Bxf6 Qxf6 8.exf5; (d) 6...Bg4 7.Bxf6! and White will end up a piece ahead after either 7...Qxf6 8.Qxg4 or 7...Bxd1 8.Bxd8. In our illustrative game, Black resigned after 7.Bxf6; in my blitz game, I soldiered on with 7...Qxf6 8.Qxg4 Qxd4 with a dead-lost position that I eventually won.

I was surprised to learn that Milan Vukevich, who later immigrated to the United States and became an International Master, once played 4...e6?? in a Yugoslav Championship! His opponent responded with 5.Qd2?? and eventually drew.

Rated Beginners' Open on November 17th

This event, at Concordia University in River Forest, is a good event for beginners from ages 6 to 96 (sorry, Erik Karklins, you're too strong, if not too old, to play).


Saturday, Nov. 17
5/SS, G/30 + d5
Open to players rated under 1200 or unrated. U.S. Chess Federation membership is required. To become a member, visit the USCF website or choose the appropriate option in the registration cart.
Sets will be provided; if you have a clock, bring it.
Schedule: Rounds at 10 and 11:15 AM, 1, 2:15 and 3:30 PM
Prizes: Trophies for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place, top U800 and top unrated
Entry Fee: $25 before Nov. 3, $30 before Nov. 15, $35 on site
Registration: To register in advance using a credit or debit card or Paypal, use the online shopping cart. To register by mail, send checks payable to the Illinois Chess Association to ICC RBO, 6021 N. Wickwood Road, Peoria, IL 61614. On-site registration (cash or check only) will be available from 9 to 9:45 AM.
Of course, the Illinois Class Championships will also be held concurrently at the same River Forest site.


Note for newbies: "5/SS" means (very roughly) that you'll be playing five games, and that winners play winners and losers play losers (no one is eliminated).  

"G/30 + d5" means that each player has thirty minutes to make his or her moves for the game, and that you're guaranteed at least five seconds to make a move, no matter how many moves you make. But if you run out of time, your opponent will probably be able to claim a win.

Now all the National Tournament Directors in Illinois will post comments about how I didn't get this quite right. But I think this is kinda close! 

Evanston CC Tri-Level on November 3rd

Another email cut-and-paste.

$5, such a deal.  I'll use this as my warmup for Kings Island, which will in turn be my warmup for the Illinois Class 

Levy Senior Center, 300 Dodge Ave., Evanston, IL 60202
Evanston Chess Presents:
November 3, 2012, 9:00am-5:00pm

Tri-Level, 4SS G/40 delay 5
Three Sections, USCF Dual Rated
Our guest master will be FM Albert Chow

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.
Please pre-register if you plan to attend.

Our last tournament had record attendance and we had to turn players away. Our space is limited and we will cap attendance at 52 players. Priority will be given to players who pre-register by email to before 7 p.m. on November 2 and arrive at the tournament before 9:20 a.m. on November 3. Thanks for your understanding and support.

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. 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.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Something is missing in Chicago . . .

Last year, I ran some numbers. More than one-third of Chicagoland residents live in the city of Chicago itself. About one-quarter of all U.S. Chess Federation members in Chicagoland live in the city. Yet in 2010, 90 percent of all open, rated chess competitions in Chicagoland took place in the suburbs. In 2011, it was a little better: 87 percent. But out of 18 events held in Chicago, that's counting 12 that were kids-only scholastics.

There were more than twice as many open, all-ages chess events held in Moline in 2011 as there were in Chicago.

It's been 22 years since Jules Stein's Chicago Chess Center on Southport Avenue closed its doors, 34 years since the Chicago Chess Club, going nearly nine decades strong, left the Loop and faded away. Now, of the 10 largest metropolitan areas in the United States (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, Washington, Miami, Atlanta and Boston), only Chicago is without a primary metropolitan chess club serving the center city as well as surrounding areas.

Along with Bill Brock, Albert Chow, Chris Christmas, Alyse Hammonds and Hector Hernandez, I'm working to establish a new Chicago Chess Center, because we think a world-class city deserves a full-time chess center, and we think it should be in the city.

We want to create a welcoming, attractive and comfortable gathering place for chess players of all ages, backgrounds and skill levels. We intend to provide a regular schedule of chess classes. We plan to serve players in the city as well as the suburbs with a full calendar of rated tournament chess. And we hope to become the focal point of an active, vibrant and expanded chess scene, a place where the benefits of chess are accessible to everyone, where anyone can walk in off the street and find a game and a community.

This costs money.

We're looking to raise $100,000 so that we can secure a site, build it out, open our doors and know that we won't have to worry about whether we can pay the rent in our first year of operation. Early stability is key to making the Chicago Chess Center a viable and enduring civic and cultural institution. Speaking solely for myself, I'd love to see us raise $40,000 in the next 30 days so that we can be open for business in early 2013.

That's where you come in, dear reader. Your generosity will provide the regularly scheduled instruction and training. Your generosity will provide the central site where chess players from all over Chicagoland -- and beyond -- can gather and establish a learning and playing community. Your generosity will help curious beginners and experience-seekers to see chess as an enjoyable and beneficial activity that everyone can participate in and to discover that chess competence is within their reach. Your generosity will create a place where parents know they can bring their children for high-quality chess instruction in a safe and friendly environment. And your generosity will bring Chicago back into the company of America's top-shelf chess cities. It's you who will make all this possible by becoming a founding member of the Chicago Chess Center.

But donations aren't all we're asking for. We'd also like to ask you to help us spread the word. Tell your fellow chess players -- casual, serious and in between -- but also tell educators, civic boosters, patrons of culture, business owners, board members of other nonprofits. To make it easier, we've created a Facebook page that you can connect to and share with others. You can also sign up for our mailing list to receive announcements and updates on our progress. And if you'd like to get more directly involved, you can give your time -- particularly if you have experience with nonprofit finance and governance, business administration or community outreach. Send a secure message through our website, or e-mail us directly at

Let's change those numbers!


Chicago Chess Center NFP Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. All donations are tax-deductible.

The Hon. George N. Leighton turns 100

George Neves Leighton, retired federal judge, former assistant state attorney general, onetime president of the NAACP and a longtime Class A player, turns 100 years old today.

Happy birthday, Judge Leighton.

Sunday, October 21, 2012