Thursday, July 4, 2013

Managing emotions during play

Chess players can learn a lot from golfers and tennis players. Number 2 seed Andy Murray just made it to the Wimbledon quarterfinals by beating the unseeded Fernando Verdasco the hard way (4-6, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-5).  The New York Times reports:
Murray struggled with Verdasco’s aggressive left-handed serve, which regularly topped 130 miles an hour and hit the lines.
Murray double-faulted on set point to lose a tightly fought first set, but he seemed to get back on track by breaking Verdasco in the third game of the second and took a 3-1 lead.
Then things got ugly for Murray and his fans. Verdasco won five straight games, and Murray failed to convert three break-point chances to lose, 6-3. When it was over, Murray was loudly cursing and scolding himself as he sat during the changeover.
“I was up, 3-1, and then made some bad mistakes, poor choices on the court,” Murray said.
A few years ago, that might have been the end for Murray, whose emotions so distracted him that he could not right his game. But a more mature Murray, a Murray with a major championship under his belt, did not panic.
“When you’ve been in that position a lot of times, you know how to think through it and not get too far ahead of yourself,” Murray said. “I definitely didn’t rush when I went two sets-love down. I slowed myself down, if anything, and that was a good sign.”
As Andy Murray understands, games against lower-rated players don't win themselves.  In my last tournament gamehouse player at the CCC Preview Open at IITI almost lost to Philip Linninger (his pre-event rating was 864, mine was 2070).  I was probably busted when Philip's flag fell: will post the game when I find the misplaced scoresheet.

Tennis and chess are played by humans: we try to minimize our unforced errors, but we will make them on occasion.  If you find yourself in a pawn-down endgame this weekend after having already lost your first round, keep fighting!  (But don't equate fighting spirit with lashing out's a difficult balance.)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Greater Chicago Chess Classic - $18,000 in prizes this weekend!

As always, cut and pasted from my inbox...Fred Gruenberg never stints on exclams.

The Greater Midwest Classic 
$18,000 Guaranteed to U2200 players! 
July 5-6-7, 2013 
Hyatt Regency O'Hare $99/room rates 
Register online at 

Simul with Grandmaster Sergey Kudrin! Blitz Tournament! Raffle Prizes! Beginning a new tradition in Chicago and Putting the Fun Back into Chess!

U2200 (FIDE rated): Overall - $1500-1200-1000-700; 1951-2100 - $400-200-100; 1800-1950 - $400-200-100; Biggest Upset - $200

U1800: Overall - $1500-1200-1000-700; Top 1551-1700 - $400-200-100; Top 1400-1550 - $400-200-100; Biggest Upset - $200

U1400: Overall - $1500-1200-1000-700; 1151-1300 - $400-200-100; 1150 and below - $400-200-100; Biggest Upset - $200 6R-SS

Game-90 + 30/sec Fri: 12pm and 5:30pm, Sat-Sun 10am & 3:30pm each day. On-site reg: 9:30-11:30am Fri or 8:30-9:30am Sat. Limit 2 byes. Last rd. bye must commit prior to start of Rd 3.

Side Events: Grandmaster Simul (9am Fri), Blitz Tournament Game-3 + 2/sec increment (8:30pm Sat).

FREE raffle prizes before round 6 with free entry, free room and free airfare to 2014 tournament.

Site: Hyatt Regency O’Hare, 9300 Bryn Mawr Ave., Rosemont, IL 60018. HR: $99/night – call 847-696-1234 and ask for CHESS rate. Reserve by June 1. Discounted parking – only $5. 10 minute walk from CTA Blue Line. FREE hotel shuttle from/to O’Hare airport. Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, less than one mile away. Entries for main event: If postmarked or online by 06/01 $89; $109 online or postmarked by 06/15; $129 thereafter. Re-entry $50. $25 to play up 1 section only; Credit Cards onsite OK. No checks onsite. Mail entries to: North American Chess Association (payable to), 4957 Oakton St., Suite 113, Skokie, IL 60077.

Register online at Other info: Boards, sets, and clocks provided. None for skittles. Must use organizer provided equipment. Chess store onsite. July rating supplement used. Questions: or 847-423-8626. Organizers: Sevan A. Muradian, Glenn Panner and Fred Gruenberg. Register online:

A trap in the King's Indian?

The best-scoring line against the King's Indian Defense is the flexible 5.h3! 0-0 6.Bg5! In Mega Database 2013, White scores a gaudy 64.6% in 2938 games! That is better than he does against garbage like the Englund Gambit, where he only scores 57.7% in 1280 games in the main line (1.d4 e5? 2.dxe5 Nc6 3.Nf3 Qe7) - although White does get 66.8% with 4.Qd5!, almost forcing Black to make his pawn sac permanent with 4...f6, when White's best-scoring line is 5.exf6 Nxf6 6.Qb3 d5 7.Bg5! (82.7%, but with a tiny sample size - only 27 games). But I digress.

The 5.h3 0-0 6.Bg5 line also sets a little trap: Black's most natural and thematic move, 6...e5, is here a blunder, dropping a pawn to 7.dxe5 dxe5 8.Qxd8 Rxd8 9.Nd5! GM Yury Shulman in his lecture at the North Shore Chess Center last year discussed a 1996 game in which he fell into this trap. Though disgusted with himself, he played on as though nothing had happened. He went on to roll his 2460-rated opponent like a joint, as NM Marvin Dandridge would say:

Where did White go wrong? According to Houdini 3, the natural 11.Nxc7 was already a small inaccuracy, and 12.Nd5 a more serious one. After 12...h6! White had to surrender his dark-squared bishop for Black's knight. This is a big positional concession, as Black's unopposed dark-squared bishop will be a holy terror once it sets up camp on c5. Black already had sufficient compensation for his accidentally sacrificed pawn, and White's game went downhill from there. (Note that all numerical assessments in this and the following game are by Houdini 3.)

How should White play? As I say, Houdini says that 11.Nxc7 is already a little inaccurate. But 11.0-0-0, White's most successful move (3-0 in Mega 2013), is actually a blunder. As I indicate in my notes to the above game, Houdini then analyzes 10...Rf8 11. Nxc7 Nxe4! as leading to equality. White's best move is instead 11.Rd1!, threatening to win a piece with 12.Nxf6+. Note that unlike the similar 11.0-0-0 it does not leave f2 vulnerable to a knight fork. After 11.Rd1!, Black must lose a tempo with 11...Rf8, and now 12.Nxc7 Rb8 13.f3! leaves White with an advantage that Houdini assesses as +1.32.

This line is seen in the following game. Incidentally, the note to Black's 9th move is very interesting. Houdini considers 9...Nbd7, dropping the c-pawn and leading to a position where White has a +1.32 advantage, inferior to surrendering the exchange with either 9...Nxd5 10.Bxd8 Nf6 (+0.94) or 9...Rxd5 10.cxd5 Ne4 (+1.09).