Saturday, November 24, 2012

Chicago Latino Chess Championship XX: How Many Can We Fit in Here?

The 20th annual Chicago Latino Chess Championship is complete, with a record-smashing 93 participants. This year's upper section alone was larger than last year's entire tournament!

Jimi Akintonde of Whitney Young High School swept Section I (age 15 and up), followed by Justin Rajsky with 4.5/5 and Felipe Quiroz, Edward Zhang, Ricardo Román, Phillip Parker-Turner and Mark Jungo with 4.0/5. Parker-Turner and Jungo were so thoroughly tied, by every standard tiebreak measure, that their trophy order had to be decided by a blitz game (which all parties preferred to a coin flip). Parker-Turner prevailed.

In Section II (age 14 and under), Ricky Román of Nightingale School finished first with a perfect 4.0/4, followed by Teja Munagala of Center Grove School in Greenwood, Ind., and Abdel Raoul of the University of Chicago Lab School with 3.5/4. Seven young players followed with final scores of 3.0/4 to win the remaining trophies: Iggy Bielobradek (Komarek, North Riverside), Kaleb Tucker (Beasley), Joseph Buklis (Decatur Classical), Daniel Román (Nightingale), Susan Huang (U. of C. Lab), Daniel Zhang (South Loop) and Elias O'Malley (Decatur Classical).

Ten place trophies were awarded in each section. The tournament is held at the Rudy Lozano Branch Library in Pilsen, home of the Knight Moves Chess Club.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The perfect Christmas present for the chess player on your list

... is Houdini 3, the latest version of the world's strongest chess engine.

USCF Sales is running a Black Friday sale through Sunday: you can buy the Standard Edition of Houdini 3 for something like $85 dollars all in (Media Mail shipping) if you use the coupon code BLACKFRIDAY.   (I am not a big fan of USCF Sales, but this is ten clams cheaper than what I paid last week.)

Or if you have Amazon Prime, you can buy Houdini 3 for $84.95 (price updated 11/25/12) and have it two days later.

My guess is that 95% of users won't have any need for Houdini 3 Pro. This souped-up version supports 32 cores and 256 GB of hash memory, as opposed to the standard version's "measly" 6 cores and 4 GB of hash.  I suspect that the difference in analysis strength is not noticeable in most cases, and that most grandmasters would find the standard version more than adequate for their needs.  (And Houdini can suck up all system resources if you let it: on a quad-core machine, I only use three cores for analysis.)  But if you can afford the extra $20, the lucky giftee might find the pro version marginally more useful: hobbyists interested in computer vs. computer play and correspondence players might be most likely to benefit.

I really like the DeepFritz 13 user interface, and even find the contextual Microsoft Office 2010 interface somewhat less annoying that I did when using Rybka 3 Aquarium.  While there's a handy "Goto Chessbase" feature for ChessBase users, I havn't been able to install the Houdini 3 engine directly in ChessBase. But that's my only complaint so far: this is truly great software!  I hope to have a fuller review before Santa loads the sleigh.

For those of you on a budget: earlier versions of Houdini are available to download free of charge.  See this earlier blog post for details.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

In Pilsen: Chicago Latino Chess Championship XX!

Twentieth edition: wow!

The site is the Chicago Public Library Lozano Branch on 1805 S. Loomis (Loomis is 1400 West: folks coming from the Loop may find the CTA's #60 bus - Blue Island/26th - handy).  No entry fee: lots of trophies!  Registration is from 9 to 9:30 a.m., Saturday, Nov. 24; play begins at 10 a.m.  You'll be home in time for dinner.

See the ICA Tournament Calendar for details!

Turkey Day 2K this weekend in Skokie

Brought to you by the miracle of cut and paste.  Original here.

Friday thru Sunday Nov 23 - 25, 2012. Turkey Day 2k - $2,000 prize fund guaranteed. 6R-SS Game-90 + 30/sec increment.

Location: North Shore Chess Center - 5500 W Touhy Ave Suite A, Skokie, IL 60077

Round Times: 12pm and 5pm daily

Entry Fee: $50 for everyone

Prize Fund Distribution:
  • Overall: $500-350-200 (+$50 perfect score prize)
  • U2200: $150-100-50
  • U1900: $150-100-50
  • U1700: $150-100-50
Special Rules - you must be rated Under 2200 USCF and no less than 1500 USCF according to the November rating supplement. Any player that has the national master title and is under 2200 is NOT ELIGIBLE to play. Any entry received that is not within the proper rating range, will be returned and you will not be registered.

This event will be USCF and FIDE rated.
Maximum capacity registration will be 64 players. The organizer reserves the right to limit lower the limit.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A beautiful queenside attack

I asked David Peng's teacher, Grandmaster Dmitry Gurevich, to take a quick look at my light notes to this game, played a week ago Saturday at Kings Island.  Dmitry wrote back, "Those 9 years olds like David and Awonder [Liang] are going to beat IMs and GMs soon... that's impressive.. scary :)) "

White: David Peng (2076)
Black: NM Charles Diebert (2234)
Kings Island Open, Mason, Ohio
November 10, 2012
Philidor Defense

I had the pleasure of witnessing most of this game from the adjoining board. David Peng is 9½ years old!

 1. e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 Nbd7 4.Bc4 e5 5.d5 Be7 6.Nge2 a5 7.O-O O-O 8.Ng3 Nc5 9.f3 Ne8 10.Be3 g6

Black isn’t satisfied with a draw against his young opponent, and is willing to take some risks to win. From that respect, the opening has been reasonably successful for Black. The knight on c5 is particularly well posted, and the pawn on a5 restrains White from playing b2-b4, evicting the knight. On the kingside, Black hopes to play ...f7-f5 at an appropriate time: perhaps Black could bring pressure to bear on White’s e4 square, then play ...f5xe4 in a way that White has to reply f3xe4, and the pressure will begin to get serious. Black has the clear idea of exchanging his bad bishop on e7 with ...Be7-g5. It’s not clear what the future holds for White’s bishop on c4: the d5 pawn secures a space advantage for White, but also blocks the a2-g8 diagonal.  

11. a3 a4 12. b4 axb3 13. cxb3 Bd7 

White to play

14. a4!?

Prophylaxis is the art of figuring out your opponent’s plans, then making a move (sometimes mysterious-looking!) that does something to frustrate your opponent’s schemes while advancing your own.

White wants to roll up Black’s queenside! But here’s the problem: if White plays an immediate b3-b4, the horsie hops to a4. With the support of the bishop on d7 and the rook on a8, it’s an excellent blockading piece. But if White plays a4 first, then the a4 square is denied to Black’s knight.

Objectively, Black has more than one adequate response to White’s plan, but I think 14.a4!? is an incredibly sophisticated move for such a young player to make. And for all I know, there may be three or four moves that are objectively better.

The immediate 14.b4 can be answered by the intermezzo 14…Bg5!? (the immediate 14...Na4 works, too) 15.Bxg5 Qxg5 16.Qc1 (but not 16.bxc5?! Qe3+ and Black is better) 16... xc1 17. Rfxc1 Na4 18.Bb5 Bxb5 19.Nxb5 Rc8 20.Rc4 f5 and Black has sufficient counterplay.

14... Bg5 15. Bf2 b6!?

15... Na6!? would be a creative response, as White has weakened the b4 square.

16. b4 Nb7?

And now White can continue with his plan virtually unimpeded. At the same time, it’s hard to fault Mr. Diebert for making what seems to be a very pragmatic decision: suffer for a few moves, then counterattack on the kingside. Instead, 16... Nxa4! allows Black to retain equality because of the fork trick on b5.

17. Qb3 Ng7 18. Bb5! h5

Or 18... Bxb5 19. Nxb5 with enduring pressure. (Allowing doubled pawns with 19. axb5!? also looks strong. )

19. Bc6 Rb8 20. Nb5 Qe7 21. a5 Bxc6

21... bxa5 22. bxa5 Nc5 23. Bxc5 Bxc6 24. dxc6 dxc5 is a better try for Black, which suggests that White may have played a4-a5 a bit prematurely.

22. dxc6 +-

White’s technique in the remainder of the game is excellent: no need to hurry in a position like this!

22…Nd8 23.axb6 Nxc6 24.Qc4 Qd7 25.bxc7 Rxb5 26.Qxb5 Qxc7

Diebert offers stiff resistance in a lost position: beating a master is hard work!

27.Qc4 Qd7 28.b5 Nd4 29.b6 Nge6 30.Rfb1 Rb8 31.Ne2 Nxe2+ 32.Qxe2 Nd4 33.Qc4 Nc6 34.Qa6 Rb7 35.Qa8+ Kg7 36. Rd1 Rb8 37.Qa4 Rb7 38.Ra2 Bd8 39.Rc2 Nd4 40.Qxd7 Rxd7 41.Bxd4 exd4 42.Rb2 Rb7 43.Rdb1 Kf6 44.Kf2 Ke6 45.Ke2 d5 46.Kd3 dxe4+ 47.Kxe4 Kd6 48.Rb3 Bf6 49.Ra1!

White has accurately evaluated that a couple checks and a pawn push is nothing to fear. 49…Re7+ 50.Kd3 Kc6 50... Re3+ 51. Kc2 d3+ 52. Kd2 and the rook on a1 is immune, even after Re2+ 53. Kxd3

51.Ra7 Re3+ 52.Kc4 Rc3+ 53.Rxc3 dxc3 54.Kd3 Kxb6 55.Rxf7 Be5 56.h3 Kc5 57.Rf8 Kb4 58.Kc2 g5 59.Rf5 Bf4 60.h4! 1-0 


White to play: what's the best plan?

White to play 
Ask your computer, and you will get a list of candidate moves with more-or-less meaningless evaluations.  (There are no immediate tactics in this position, and White is somewhat better, but nothing serious.)

I am by no means certain that the player of the White pieces (to be identified later today) came up with the best plan, but it was a very impressive plan!

Illinois Class results!

Final results and prizewinners are here on the Illinois Class website, and the event was rated almost immediately. Permit me be lazy and link to Keith Ammann's tournament report, which should be going up on the ICA website in the next day or so. Thanks to Keith Ammann, Wayne Clark, Maret Thorpe, Gary Jannsen, and the staff at Concordia University for a very smooth event at a very nice location!