Saturday, April 20, 2013

A defensive brilliancy

If you're White in the position diagrammed below, it helps to have nerves (and a brain) of silicon. Although White's queen and rook are potentially a lethal combination, they have no checks available that don't hang. White's bishop also isn't helping the attack. Meanwhile, Black threatens Qd1#, and if White stops that with 46.Re1, Black grabs the bishop with 46...Qc2+ 47.Ka1 Qxc4 wins with 46...Nbc2 or 46...Ndc2. Alternatively, 46.Qg1 seems a clever way to get the queen into the attack, but Black takes the bishop, 46...Qc2+ 47.Ka1 Qxc4, then hides his king from the checks on b5: 48.Qh2+ Ka8! 49.Re8+ Kb7 50.Qb8+ Ka6 51.Qc8+ Kb5 52.Qd7+ Ndc6.

Nonetheless, White has an amazing drawing line! Can you see it?

Stalemate seems impossible: after 45...Kb8 White has six pieces, including two pawns and his king, and all of them have moves! Yet it all clicks in problem-like fashion: after 46.Bb3!! Nxb3, White's bishop is gone, his king is stalemated, and his b-pawn is blocked. Then 47.Qf4+! gxf4 hangs the queen and blocks the f-pawn, leaving only the "crazy" rook at large. "Desperado, why don't you come to your senses?" Note that the knights stalemate White's king all by themselves, so White needn't worry about 50...Qxd7. Black has other moves available besides 46...Nxb3, but in all lines White has at least a forced draw. Glorious!

This is probably the greatest stalemating combination of all time, surpassing the likes of Boyd-Glimbrant, Alicante 1992, where Black had a mobile queen, rook, knight, and pawn before embarking on the stalemating combination. See my game collection for more fine stalemates. But this one is hard to beat.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Evanston Chess $5 tournament on Saturday, May 4

As always, it's the best deal in metro Chicago. FM Albert Chow will be the guest master.

Levy Senior Center, 300 Dodge Ave., Evanston, IL 60202
Evanston Chess Presents:

May 4, 2013, 9:00am-5:00pm

Three x Three, 3SS G/65 delay 5

Three Sections, USCF Regular 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.

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. Lunch Break: We may need to be finished by 5:00 PM, so we cannot count on 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

Food! As always, we will order in pizza from Sarpinos for those who would rather not go out for lunch. $5 gets you a minimum of two slices (specify pepperoni or cheese) and one can of pop (Coke, Diet Coke, Orange, Rootbeer, Sprite, Iced Tea).

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.

USCF-rated scholastic events at Whitney Young on April 28th

From the email inbox (looks like there will be another such event on May 19th):

Date:  April 28th, 2013

Place:  Whitney Young High School (2nd Floor Library)  211 S Laflin, Chicago
Schedule:  4 rounds, Game 30, Check in 9:00-9:45am, 1st round begins at 10am, last round should end around 2pm 
Sections: USCF Rated: K-2, K-8 Open, and K-8 U800; USCF membership is required and can be purchased at the event.

Entry Fee:  $20 online registration by 04/27, $25 on site.
Awards are given to the top 5 individuals and top team (3 players) in each section.
U21 Rated Section: Entry fee $20, 75% payout to 1st(40%), 2nd(20%), 1stU1600(15%) 

Register at

National Master William Aramil will be giving game analysis and lessons throughout the day.

Death on the light squares

In the following game, White puts all his pawns on dark squares, trades his light-squared bishop for a knight, and lets Black plant a bishop on d3. This is a recipe for disaster, which is realized. Compare the dark-square debacle in NN-Rhine, 2012. This game gives me a 50-0 record on GameKnot.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Robert Byrne, 1928-2013

Obituary in the New York Times.

Byrne, for many years the Times's chess columnist was a former U.S. Champion; in the 1970s, he was one of the top players in the world (his third place in the 1973 Leningrad Interzonal was probably the best American performance of the seventies outside of Fischer).

To do this after age forty was quite an accomplishment.  Dmitry Gurevich once told me that Byrne took his academic training and applied it to chess.  He was versatile: not many players were equally at home in the Najdorf Sicilian (6.Be3!) and the Winawer French.

Many Chicago players met Byrne at the 1994 U.S. Open: he was modest and personable.