Archive for August, 2007

How to Play Chess: My introduction to Swiss Tournaments

August 30, 2007

For me the following game is historic being the first Swiss System Tournament I entered and my first round game. A word about my opponent. Ralph Nasca was a well known TD and organizer in the Buffalo (Erie County) area and each Lake Ontario Open would always make it to Rochester to play and bring with him a host of Buffalo stars.

These were the days when chess computers and even computers for business were almost unknown other than maybe a scientific journal or two. Players limited libraries contained a few books of great players, instructional literature and the opening bible for the chess enthusiast was limited to MCO editions.

D.R. (KindredSpirit)  Ralph Nasca –Caro Kann Defense

1.e4  c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.c4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e6 6.Nf3 Bb4

At the time the Petrov system founded in 1929 was my main weapon as it suited my style of attacking play.

7.Qc2 0-0 8.a3 Bxc3+ 9.bxc3 h6 10.Bd3 Re8 11.Ne5 Re7 After the game Ralph said he feared my Nxf7 and Bg6+ but he would get B,N for a R,P which did not appeal to me. Black’s waste of time enables me to further my development combining it with aggressive moves into his position ala my Square Count theory.

12.0-0 Nbd7 13.f4 Nb6 14.c5 Nbd7

White is tying up black pieces and ability to find good moves with needed counterplay.

15.Rf3 Nxe5 16.fxe5 Ne8 17.Rg3 Kf8

Played to prevent what? White had a threat using the tactic idea that the black g7 pawn is pinned.

18.Bxh6 gxh6 19.Qd2 Rc7 20.Qxh6+ Ke7 21.Rf1 Kd7 22.Bb5+ Ke7 23.Rxf7+ Kxf7 24.Qh7+ Kf8 25.Rg8#(checkmate).

Dr. Marchand congratulated me on this pretty finish but warned that I would find the competition much tougher. That said, I went on to finish the tournament 4-1 losing one game. However, I must admit to some considerable luck.

Study this game and make note of mistakes made either in losing valuable time, lack of a concrete plan, shortcomings of theory of the Caro Kann Opening.

How to Play Chess: Aiming at c7 as a focal point

August 3, 2007

Dr. Erich W. Marchand was president of the Rochester Chess & Checker Club (later checkers was deleted from the masthead) for many years, served as a VP or Region II Director in USCF, many times club and city champion with additional titles as champion of Missouri and New York State. For many years he conducted a chess column in Chess Life newspaper and later the magazine and was the most active player in the United States. A mathematics professor, married, the family moved from Missouri to NYS and joined The RCCC, employed by Eastman Kodak as a mathematician, he was one of 4 who devised what became known as the ELO Rating System. He was well thought of by his peers. A well known chessmaster noted in Chess Life when Dr. Marchand was elected a VP, that it was a joy to see him in that position because his integrity and his hard work for chess as well as his professional credentials was much needed. The Rochester community honored him by naming their most prestigious tournament in his honor: The Marchand Open. Dr. Marchand (1914-00) died shortly after turning 85 years old and was active at the club almost to the end, still exhibiting his winning ways but mostly his gentle manner and helpful support.

My good friend and protege Ed Frumkin, regional TD, developed the concept of the Hurricane Tournament and ran a series of these fast t/c events as well as Tornado Tournaments (30/30) while attending university.

Hurricane Henrietta, 1974, Y, Todd Hall, Rochester, NY.

D. Reithel  vs  Dr. Erich W. Marchand  English System

This is one of the last tournaments I played in and rarely for the next 2 decades. I finished in lst Place with a score of 5 wins, 2 draws, 0 losses = 6-1 total. Besides drawing in this game, I also drew the black side of a Queen Gambit Slav Exchange Variation vs Mark Buckley.

1.c4 g6 2.Nf3 Bg7 3.g3 Nf6 4.Bg2 d5 5.d4 0-0 6.0-0 c6 7.b3 Ne4 8.Bb2 Nd7 9.Nbd2 Ndf6 10.Ne5 Nxd2 11.Qxd2 Be6 12.Rad1 Nd7 13.cxd5 cxd5 14.e3 [Solidifying the d4 sq.]

14…f6 15.Nd3 Rc8 16.Rc1 b6 17.Nf4 Bf7 18.Nxd5 Re8 [At the time this was played I was the club champion winning with a total 5-0 in a Swiss event. I abhor Swiss tournaments to determine a club champion preferring a round robin but times change and players want instant gratification. I tended to play in these rapid events to support the activity and to hone my skills.]

[At this point a number of players came to our board. I was surprised to having won a pawn.] 19.Nb4 Nb8 20.Rxc8 Qxc8 21.Rc1 Qd7 [Perhaps he hoped to use the clock against me as I was known to play too slow and this t/c was not to my liking. But there is an idea, diabolic in nature, that the good Doctor was scheming up for me! which seems more his reasoning.]

22.Qc2 a5! 23.Nd3 h5! [Ah, he uses SqCt idea expanding territory and some freedom. I have an edge of 12/8 with control over a good portion of the board. Notice now how black’s bishop pair points to the Q-side pawns.]

24.Nf4 g5 25.Ne2 Rd8 26.Qc7 Qxc7 27.Rxc7 [Just like a Capablanca, Alekhine or Nimzowitsch would play it.]

27…e5 28.Bb7 a4 29.bxa4 Bxa2 30.Rc8 Rxc8 31.Bxc8 Bb3 32.dxe5 fxe5 33.Nc3 e4 34.Bb7 Bxc3 35.Bxc3 Bxa4 36.Bxe4 Kf7 37.Kg2?! Nd7 38.Kf3 Bd1+ 39.Kg2 Nc5 40.Bd5+ Kg6 41.Bd4 Be2 [The game has turned into rapid play by both.]

42.Bxc5 bxc5 [I could find nothing better and the exchange at least puts the pawn on the c-file with the wrong color if Queening making it easier to control the pawn advances.]

43.f3 Bd3 44.Kf2 c4 45.e4 c3 46.Ke3 Bb1 47.Bb3 Kf6 48.Bd5 h4 49.f4 hxg3 50.hxg3 gxf4+ 51.gxf4 Kg6! 52.Ke2 Kh5 53.Ke3 Kg6 54.Bb3 c2 55.Kd2 c1(Q)+ 56.Kxc1 Bxe4. [Draw accepted. I gave him the honor of proposing it.]

Study this game carefully. Do you see any way White could press his advantage into a winning position? Marchand had a well deserved reputation as one of the best endgame players in America so I felt happy to draw. I had most of the fun in this one I think! I provided no annotations as I want you to study the game, analyze it and try to understand its mysteries. Notice that I made c7 the focal point in this operation on the Q-side. Somehow I wondered whether he just overlooked the loss of the d-pawn or had in mind the type of positions resulting in the game.

Chess Marches On

August 1, 2007

In the chessworld there have been a remarkable number of talented super masters who have enriched the game with both originality of style, strategic concepts, extraordinary performances of endurance and mental magic that have soared like eagles across the 64 squares time and again through the ages. It is a remarkable testament to the game that many of these performances and battles waged have been recorded for all to enjoy, whether it be the game scores or descriptive recorded events by those viewing the activities and events.

It is difficult to classify the comparative strengths of thes players as each era has produced their own list of chess stars. Times change and historical knowledge is entrapped as in a balloon to be ever expanded with the breath of new life until it bursts on the scene spilling forth like flowing rivers into every society. Trying to compare players from different eras is like trying to compare apples and oranges or lemons and limes. It is pretty much impossible given the facts that each era was greatly influenced by the literature of the past and of the day, technical advances of modern travel, instant internet coverage of live world tournaments or matches resulting in ever more competitions and games available for the world chess community. Indeed, today we have the unique experience unlike those of past generations to get instant gratification from viewing live games, deep analysis from master commentary, and to review games often at our leisure.

Great players we know only from their published games like McDonnell, Labourdonnais, Staunton, Morphy, Anderssen, Dufresne, Blackburne, Steinitz, Zukertort, Pillsbury, Lasker, Rubinstein, Bernstein, Capablanca, Alekhine, Nimzowitsch, Tarrasch, Marshall, Bogoljubow, Reti, Spielmann, Maroczy, Botvinnik, Fine, Reshevsky, Euwe, Keres, Najdorf, Smyslov, Bronstein, Tal, Fischer, Karpov, Korchnoi, Kasparov, Kramnik, Anand and new blood emerging even as I write this. Certainly this proves that chess is not dead but continues to flourish with new ideas and old concepts revisited where new angles are applied to old strategies and tactics.