Archive for March, 2009

Kindred’s Special: 2009 Marchand Memorial Open

March 30, 2009

Once again the Rochester Chess Center sponsored at John Fisher College its annual and prestigious memorial tournament in honor of Dr. Erich W. Marchand.  This year’s attendance was lower than usual with 112 entries but many strong players returned to the fight who have been missing in recent years, making the open section 44-strong!

One GM Giorgio Kacheishvili (2684) and four IMs.  IM Alex Lenderman (2587) and IM Bryan Smith (2560) shared lst place and Iladai Adu (2334) were the names I was able to get by phone if the above is correct as Ron Lohrman had to leave to teach a school chess class and the connection was spotty. Sorry for that.

Although a smaller turnout than past years, a number of returning local chess players who were idle for various reasons in the past participated. Yours truly, the KindredSpirit, had intended to play coming out of retirement but was hospitalized shortly before the event for eight days so I had to miss it.

A word about Dr. Erich W. Marchand. Dr. Marchand was a brilliant mathematician who worked for Eastman Kodak Research, moving his family to Rochester from Missouri where he was a well known master and state title holder. He also was associated with the University of Rochester and tutored a number of UR students, held chess classes for ($18 for 10 lessons) beginners and experienced players alikeas well as private lessons. While in Missouri he had published a pamplet on the Slav Defense. Although very busy he found time to join and play chess at the Rochester Chess & Checker Club, later coined The Rochester Chess Club. For many years he served as its President. He won the New York State Championship title a number of times, managed a 6th place finish in the US Open and for years was the most active player in the United States Chess Federation. Politically he served USCF in three important ways. He was one of 4 members of the Elo Rating Committee who revised the rating system so it was viable for the huge increase in Swiss System tournaments. He was elected Vice President of USCF. He served in Region II as a USCF Regional Director. But perhaps most important of all, he had admiration and respect of all players whom he came across.

I first became acquainted with Dr. Marchand when I was a child visiting the club with my mom who was there to meet my oldest brother who was in a team match event against Buffalo. His opponent as I recall was named Fox and a very strong expert also. Later, after joining the club and entering the club championship held over the winter months, I managed to reach the finals and played him for the first time. I lose a 50+ mover in a KIA that was my favorite opening at the time, much like Bobby Fischer. He published our game in his column in the old Chess Life newspaper. Soon after, I started with Marcy Shupp the club newsletter after the club moved to the Central Branch YMCA, another effort of the good doctor. Prior to that though, he asked me to take over the duties of the club treasurer as our membership was badly in arrears and I managed to grow the membership rapidly threatening all who were in arrears no entrance to the club quarters. Everybody renewed and we got lots more because people naturally like things well run and operated. He also asked me to assume duties as a program director because of the ideas I had discussed with him regarding improvements and some new schedules. As a result he got me a USCF Region II Directorship and also in NYSCA. Dr. Marchand was many times city champion, club champion, NYS champion. When I visited his home for a lunch and meeting, he showed me his vast array of trophies he had won which filled a whole attic. His scorebooks were so numerous that they would fill a shelf or more in my bookcase.

I remember his columns he had in Chess Life that carried over when it became a magazine. He was a skilled writer(was a Professor of English) and excellent instruction amid showing the amateur games he collected from his many tournaments. He always chose games that were instructive and understandable by the average player as well as masters and higher.

His one request of his chess friends and acquaintenances was that they should meet and play chess in his memory. Dr. Marchand died shortly after celebrating his 85th birthday.

In recent years a number of well known Grandmasters and International Masters as well those seeking to play for enjoyment, win a possible prize, or wanting to test their mettle against the competition and hopefully gain some rating points– all journeying to Rochester to participate. The event is extremely well organized and run by the capable hands of the TD Mike Liotiti and Ron Lohrman. Per usual, the Rochester Chess Center offers a large assortment of chess materials for sale, often at discount. John Fisher College has an excellent and inexpensive menu from breakfast to lunch and dinner.

If you could not make this event March 28-29 why not plan to schedule it in 2010. 

The Rochester Chess Center is located at 221 Norris Drive, runs east/west between Culver and Winton. The exit to Winton is one-way so you have to turn right at the next street, go down two or three streets, turn right and then left. There is plenty of parking space. If you enter from Culver, take the left fork. A huge sign adorns the building.

Chess classes are held regularly for children and adults. Team league play is on Monday nights; Wednesday nights the Community Chess Club meets, and on weekends there are scheduled tournaments. I understand that recently women are starting to hold tournaments as well but can likewise play in the open events.

Rochester Chess Center, 221 Norris Dr., Rochester, NY 14610,  tel. 585-442-2430,  www.chessset.com

Kindred’s Special: USCF–A Trojan Horse

March 30, 2009

What is wrong with American chess?  There is no simple answer, only a simply excuse that emits jealousies, self-interests, rule by the petty and weak who, for years, ever since their condemnation of Bobby Fischer and after, Samuel Reshevsky, just to name a few American chess heroes, now are sneering at unseated Woman World Champion WGM Susan Polgar.  Thankfully the CHESS LIFE managed to credit and praise our Olympic teams returning from Dresden, Germany for taking third place respectively while also addressing various lawsuits that smack of partisanship and the same old desire of a few to rich themselves by attacking our Susan. Any wonder she refused to comply with the requests of USCF officials. Here we have a woman, a true prodigy and champion from Hungary who emigrated here and started a chess school for girls and spread the game across North America as well with pride and dignity for advancement of women chess.

First place in the world for women teams went to Georgia and deservedly so.  WGM Nona Gaprindashvili is a heroine in her country and loved by the people of Georgia. She first won the World Championship at age 20.  Chessization of Georgia followed and the game subsequently grew in the hearts of its people.

In Georgia Nona is a legend and recognized as the greatest sports champion of the 20th century.  Georgia has sports stars galore with triumphs in European and Olympian events. So well respected, she was elected President at the founding session of the National Olympic Committee.  She once noted, “I am often asked what chess has given me. I have one answer: my biggest achievement is the love of the people, which makes me a very happy person. I could never repay this love. This I see as the meaning of my life in chess.” She is an 11 time Olympic champion and a special cup carries her name and had a a precious stone.

                                         Return of the Pink Panther

This year the Ukraine won the cup and was lost from the luggage on its arrival.  So we have a mystery as to what happened to the cup and maybe more important what happened to the precious stone? Is it possible that we have with us that elusive and clever gem thief who used the well known “losing luggage from airport terminals” to lift and make off with the cup. Only one good thought emerges, the panther knows value when he sees it. Hopefully it will be recovered.

Nona Gaprindashvili won and defended the world women’s title five times to be followed by Maya Chiburdanidze who defended the title for five additional times.

WGM Maya Chiburdanidze did not play a rated game in 2008 came to play in the Olympiad for her Georgia team and amazed the players and spectators alike amassing 7.5 – l.5 for a TP rating 2715!

                                                 E-Mails

Anyone who sends an e-mail or text message is open to having such information broadcast. One only need be reminded of kids who send their photos of themselves to others to see some of the dangers that can occur regarding privacy. Frankly I am interested in only the game now and no longer engage in the politics that I found sometimes dispicable while serving both our state and national bodies, not to leave out my own club.

As being honorable, I applied all organization work to the rules and regulations of the USCF and advice given regarding the horrible low life membership of $100 cost me dearly by disagreement with Ed Edmondson.  Likewise I was chastized for pointing out that once a fee is announced in Chess Life, that fee can be changed only by a subsequent ad change. The rule at the time was that the announced fee could not be raised at the event which it was and over half the players (mostly kids) quit and walked out. All wanted to know why I was no longer in charge of the club activities. Another problem was that a small tournament held at a farm was a long time regular event over a 3-day weekend. Our club held some major regional events. Again, one of my policies set up was that no one could hold a tournament that conflicted with one of the standard events. The other club officers at the time saw no reason to inform me and when I learned of their plans and objected I was told that I was the main reason why Rochester chess did not prosper. Apparently leaving a 3-day weekend to the whims of a farmer who attracted regularly a fairly good turnout and strong players could be thrown to the wolves. Unfortunately I did not know that he blamed me for the action until years later. He invited all to enjoy an oldfashioned cookout and corn on the cob dinner and was an annual fall event.

No sour grapes although it may sound so. I had to leave chess due to my job, education and growing responsibilities at work and home. Chess just about died in Rochester until I organized and ran the 1986 Chessorama Festival held at two major malls over two weekends which my bank supported with a theme: Chess Not Drugs. Many school principals and officials including public wrote letters of appreciation to our bank and hoped we would continue it as a yearly event. The school team event drew several of the top school clubs and teachers assisted in helping out. It opened the door to spreading chess in the school systems, something not previously achieved despite efforts of our club. Unfortunately the club refused to help me and demanded the event be turned over for the club to run. The mall officials contacted me after the lst time they held it and said unless I organized and ran the event, it would be cancelled. It was.

Today I sit on the sidelines and write my blog. Frankly I do not care as one now nearly 71 to stir the boiling pot but felt that somebody has got to speak up and raise a little dander. I have no personal interest one way or the other but my silence through the years I think sometimes contributed to the debacle of USCF stupidities and cost overruns nearly brought the Amercian chess scene to its knees. No doubt if any USCF official reads this, I may get a white feather for being disloyal but who cares.  I plucked many a white feather out of birds before the feast.

Why I devulge so much is simply that my wonderful English teacher taught me that personal experience adds to an essay especially one that sizzles with such a topic I chose here.

In my chess adventures, I can only say that I did it my way just as I do my blog.

Adios for now!!

Kindred’s Special: Torre Attack Rewards a King Hunt

March 28, 2009

The 1995 Moscow Intel Grand Prix saw Jonathan Speelman splitting the first two games with Veselin Topalov and the deciding game colors came up JS having the white pieces and VT the black pieces. Each player had won with the White army.

1.Nf3  Nf6  2.d4  g6  3.Bg5  Bg2  4.Nbd2  O-O  5.c3  h6  6.Bxf6  Bxf6  7.e4  d6  8.Bc4

The Torre Attack is a favorite of GM Arthur Bisguier who played it against me in a simultaneous that ended in a draw. That is the extent of my personal association with it. It always seemed rather tame to me and too straightforward but one might ask from this game if that is after all a bad thing! In the simplest of ways, JS demonstrates that developed well placed pieces and opening of the center offers prospects for a real fight to ensue.

9.Qe2  c5  10.dxc5  dxc5  11.O-O  Nc6  12.h3  Qc7  13.Rfe1  Rd8  14.e5  Rb8  15.e6  f5  16.h4  Na5  17.Bd3

I am thinking here about an interesting plan that starts with 17…b5!? offering up the b/pawn for opening some lines for the heavy black forces. You know by reading my column that I enjoy muddy waters and good or bad it also follows my square-count theory expanding on the Q-side.

17…Rd6  18.Nc4  Rxe6  19.Qxe6+

JS grabs the bull by the horns and the adventure begins. How many would consider playing this? In a G/25 he must have visualized or calculated the next several moves unless he had a brain wave of intuition.

19…Bxe6  20.Rxe6  Kf7  21.Rae1  Nc6  22.h5  g5  23.Bxf5

JS gobbles the white square as VT cannot contest it.

23…Bf6  24.Ne3  Rd8  25.Ng4  Kg7  26.Nxf6  exf6  27.b4  cxb4  28.Nd4  Rd6  29.Re8  Ne5  30.Ne6+ Rxe6  31.Bxe6  bxc3  32.Bb3  Qd7  33.Ra8  b6  34.Rd1  Qe7  35.Rdd8 f5  36.Rg8+  Kh7  37.Rh8+ Kg7  38.Rag8+ Kf6  39.Rxh6+  Ng6  40.Rgxg6+ Ke5  (1-0).

Either VT resigned here or lost on time.

Jonathan Speelman defeated Veselin Topalov 2-1 in this G/25 match series.  GM Speelman’s win in-game one appeared earlier.

Much can happen in a decade and the emergence of Veselin Topalov as currently having only one real rival for top spot in the world is Vishy Anand.  In the current issue of NEW IN CHESS, GM Topalov is interviewed following his China triumph.

Robert Mundell, a professor of Economics at Columbia University and winner of the 1999 Nobel Prize in Economics was the engine that brought about the first super-tournament named The Pearl Spring Tournament. Veselin Topalov did not disappoint his many fans in China and round the world as he scored an impressive 7 out of 10 with a TP rating 2892.  His winnings were a whopping 80,000 curo and was rewarded with his best rating to date of 2809.

  1. Topalov  (  4-w, 6-d, 0-l)  ………………………….. 7-3
  2. Aronian  (  2-w, 7-d, 1-l)   ………………………….. 5.5-4.5
  3. Xiangzhi  ( 2-w, 6-d, 2-l)   ………………………….. 5-5
  4. Svidler     ( 2-w, 5-d, 3-l)   ………………………….. 4.5-5.5
  5. Movsesian(1-w,6-d, 3-l     ………………………….. 4-6
  6. Ivanchuk  (1-w,6-d, 3-l)    ………………………….. 4-6

In recent years Topalov’s game has remained in youthful splendor with the added ingredient of maturity that makes him a favorite among onlookers.  Both he and Vishy Anand will be going toe to toe soon and the world chess community will be the better for it!  Such a match up will certainly produce many gems and interesting innovations. Yike!! I am glad I can enjoy it all without the sweat of preparation they must endure!

THE  ENDGAME

CAPABLANCA remarked that endgames teach the essentials of individual pieces but also about the game itself. The great teacher, Dr. S. Tarrasch, taught the endgame first in his famous treatise, THE GAME OF CHESS, and I would add my concurrance to this method because the endgame reaches out to display the full force of each chessman and evaluates for the beginner an understanding of the power of each in their individual geometric  movement and points to the value of understanding pawn structure.  The answer to the question as to when to consider heading toward an endgame from a middlegame position requires knowledge learned from both study and practice. This often involves pawn formations, who will gain the initiative, and anticipated aggressive King vs defensive King position.

There is of course the theory that endgames are boring and the beginner wants to jump right into the fray as quick as possible. There is always the possibility that a student will lose interest otherwise. So many teach the opening first and some tactics and get some practice games under their belt.  But in real essence, if you want to really make progress in chess, an understanding of the endgame and elements of the three stages–opening, middlegame, endgame are essential to eventual mastership. It boils down to what method advances that prospect in the most efficient and timely way.

Adios for now!  See you again, soon!

Kindred’s Special: The Fighting Scotch or Two Knights Defense

March 28, 2009

Digging through my files I found a very sharp and interesting chess battle of many years past. So lets return to yesteryear and don our pieces on their squares and prepare to experience what I am sure the actual participants felt during play. A good idea is to guess the move or plan and then uncover the actual move played using a small file card with a small rectangle cutout on the upper left and then slide the card along the line as you choose and verify the actual move chosen by the players.  You will not need an icy cold drink to stay awake and alert in this one!

1.e4  e5  2.Nf3  Nc3  3.d4  exd4  4.Bc4  Nf6  5.e5

A try like 5…Ng4 6.Bxf7+!  Kxf7 7.Ng5+ Kg8 8.Qf3 is tactical.

5…d5  6.Bb5  Ne4  7.Nxd4  Bc5

How should White handle this position? Two moves suggest themselves.  Do you see them?   First, 8.Nxc6  Bxf2+ 9.Kf1  Qh4  10.Nd4disch  c6  11.Nf3  Ng3+  12.Kxf2  Ne5++  13.Ke2  Qf2+  14.Kd3  Bf5 is a good example of play against the inherent weak f2 square. Second, develop a piece while protecting the Knight by 8.Be3 that is our main line. Of course Black breaks the pin.

8.Be3 Bd7 9.Bxc6  bxc6  10.O-O  Bb6

This logical looking move prepares for a c-pawn advance but worth considering was 10…Qe7, developing and connecting the Rooks. Such cases might be a matter of taste or style how positions are handled.  Such openings as this, where the center can suddenly be forced open and dreaming up a King hunt becomes reality makes it very attractive to the amateur player.

11.Nd2  Nxd2  12.Qxd2  O-O

Again, two ideas appear, one positional and the other sharp and aggressive. Now, 13.Nb3!  Re8  14.Qc3  Qe7  15.f4  f6  16.Bc5  fxe5   17.fxe5 .  Here, 17…Qxe5? gets shocked by 18.Rf8+! with a bind on the dark squares and clear advantage in the endgame to come is the positional approach. The aggressive 13.Bg5 is the main line followed.

13.Bg5  Qe8

Not so hot is 13…f6  14.exf6  gxf6  with jump moves of 15.Bh6 and 16.Rfe1 where the Black monarch defensive position is weakened.

14.Rfe1

A perfect example of the value of my square count theory shows itself here.  By exchanging Knight on d4, square count would increase by 14…Bxd4  15.Qxd4  Bf5 with probably equal chances.

14…c5

Hoping to drive the Knight from d4. However, White need not move the Knight and can strike the King position.

15.Bf6! h6 (to stop Qg5) 16.Re3  Kh7  17.Qd3  g6!! an improvement over Haag/Varnus that saw 17…Kh8 18.Rh3  Bxh3  19.Qxh3 Kh7  20.Bxg7! and I leave the concluding moves for you to figure out.

18.Nf3  c4

Black follows the motif of counterattack in the center when faced with a Kingside assault.

19.Ng5+ Kg8  20.Rh3!?

Perhaps best here is 20.Qd2 only because the text contains a flaw.

20…Bxh3  21.Qxh3  h5  22.Re1  Qc8

Who could say this was the best move for Black and seems so logical to inhibit White’s ambitious nature.  The move later found is 22…Bc5, 23.e6  fxe6  24.Rxe6  Rxf6!  25.Rxe8+  Rxe8.  Again, with the t/c ticking off the seconds and minutes, it is easy to miss such a chance. For the reader and viewer the subsequent play is sparkling.

23.e6  fxe6

On 23…Bc5, White has the dominant 24.Qf3.

24.Rxe6  Re8

Not, 24…Rxf6  25.Rxf6 Qxh3  26.Rxg6+ with a winning ending.

25.Be7  Rxe7  26.Rxg6+  Rg7  27.Qxh5  Bxf2+  28.Kh1!  Bd4  29.Qh7+ Kf8  30.Qh8+  Ke7  31.Rxg7+ Bxg7  32.Qxg7+ Kd6

The rest of the game I leave for your own study.

33.Qf6+  Kc5  34.Ne6+  Kd6  35.Nf4+  Kc5  36.Qe7+  Kc6  37.Ne6  Rb8  38.Qc5+ Kd7 39.Qxd5+ Ke7  40.Ng5  Qg8 41.Qe5+ Kd7  42.h4  Rb6  43.h5  Rd6  44.Ne4  Rd1+ 45.Kh2  Kc8  46.Qf5+ Kd8  47.h6 Rd5 48.h7  Resigns (1-0).

Such games attract the amateur like nothing else can. Actually I can point to the development of high-tech computer chess programs as a good means to develop skill. In the final analysis however it is the creative human mind, having imagination let loose within governed rules of play that chess is valuable to the spirit. Such opportunity for artistic creativity and unleashing the imagination further lifetime experience in conflict challenges.

How to better your chess?  Aside from the obvious, it is very good to live life in moderation regarding diet, good posture, and learning to read music and play an instrument that both enriches and promotes  good health. The more one can develop personality and find joy in learning and applying those things that interest you and develop good character are assets to making life worth living.

Kindred’s Special: Fanning the Winds of History

March 27, 2009

“IT IS ONLY A MAN OF SMALL MIND WHO IS TOTALLY INDIFFERENT TO THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF HIS ACTIVITIES.” –Henry A. Davidson, A Short History of Chess.

Various chess historians have made contributions for our enjoyment.  But little was known except perhaps by conjecture about how the game migrated to the New World of the Americas. Neither van der Linde (1883), T. H. von der Lasa (1897) nor H.J.R. Murray (1913) had made such a study. We contribute to the Italian professor at Uppsala University Bruno Bassi  who made available to us through the efforts of R.N. Coles and the British Chess Magazine Yearbook 1966 such detailed research. In fact, both D.W. Fiske (1859) and A. Klahre (1934) both dealing with the development of American chess excluded mention of both South and Central America where the Spanish introduced chess to the New World. H. A. Davidson (1949) merely mentions it in passing. Certainly the developmental period of origin in South America was the 16th and 17th centuries.

Certain facts emerged through the writings of scholars who often used the pen to record events of the day. Such events recorded show the following:

  1. Peruvian chieftain Atahualpa was taught chess by the Spanish during his imprisonment in Cajamarca, Peru in 1533.–Ltr from Don Gaspar de Espinosa (1533) and autobiography of Don Alonso Enriquex de Guzman (1518-43).
  2. The Bishop of Nicaragua, Don Antonio de Valdivieso, was assassinated while playing chess at his palace in Leon (1550).
  3. The 3rd decade of the 17th century the famous Italian theorist Gioachino Greco settled in the West Indies where he lived until his death.

Of course American writers refer to chess as American pertaining to the North American colonies and later the USA. Such briefs as, “The earliest written mention of chess in America was unquestionably made in what is now the State of New York”–Alfred C. Klahre, Early American Chess, New York, 1934. To be fair, his topic was centered on North American development. The writings of Benjamin Franklin related to chess is well-known and those coming to the continent either to settle or for military duty brought the game to our own shores.  It is likewise understandable that access to distant lands in days prior to our modern high-tech societies was difficult and most writers were interested in sales to the residents of  NA of chess materials that obviously pertained to them.

Opening Names

Once again I ask if anyone knows how the name The Worrall Attack originated in the Ruy Lopez: 1.e4  e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.Qe2.

Again, BCMY notes that The Westphalia Defense was named after the lliner Westphalia which, in 1927, carried a number of masters to the New York tournament where the defense was analyzed during the trip. 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Nbd7 5.Bg5 Bb4 6.cxd5 exd5 7.e3 c5 and according to Reti more accurate than the Cambridge Springs Defense.

Chess Play Alone, Enough?

If one examines the writings of all the great players it is clear that they as a body researched and/or understood the history of the game.  The purpose of my writings is to entertain, educate and inform both players of WCL and the general audience to tune in to my site or hit on links of others. Chess is ancient and yet the lack of interest shown chess other than an occasional game or learning how the pieces move is universal.  Little importance is given the game and for many assume it to be “just a game.” I hope, of course, to fill in some stories, facts, tidbits of news mixed with humor from time to time and entertaining games that might appeal to all novices to put some effort into understanding the mysteries of the game, and to better enjoy the aesthetic beauty that those little statues on the checkered board unleashed the symbolic power in the hands of devotees.

I invite you to come share the walk down my chess path!!  I am ever reminded of the song made famous by Sinatra “I did it my way.” I cannot promise you GM wisdom but one who cherished the  introduction to chess by my oldest brother, Raymond, one of the finest gentlemen and strongest players I have had the privilege to occasionally cross swords.

Kindred’s Special: More on Pawns

March 13, 2009

One of the British Isles great stars is GM Jonathan Speelman who, in the 1988 World held at St. John,  Brunswick, Canada , defeated in blitz play GM Seirawan who remarked at an interview following the loss, “”Frankly, I considered myself the best at blitz in the world.”

Going forward seven years, his skill ever sharp, GM Speelman met in the lst round of the 1995 Moscow Intel Grand Prix, a young man who was, in the coming 21st Century, a most imaginative and creative chess artist to sit down at the board in the semi-post Kasparov era.

G/25  GM Jonathan Speelman  vs GM Veselin Topalov

1.d4  Nf6  2.c4  g6  3.Nc3  Bg7  4.e4  d6  5.Nf3  O-O  6.Be2  e5  7.d5

JS decides on using the Petrosian variation against the KID adopted by VT.

7…Nbd7  8.Bg5  h6  9.Bh4  g5  10.Bg3  Nh5  11.Nd2  Nf4  12.O-O  f5  13.exf5  Nxe2+  14.Qxe2  Nf6  15.Nde4

An excellent outpost for the Knight and a main theme in the Petrosian setup.

15…Bxf5  16.f3  b6

This looks to defuse some of White’s Q-side pawn demonstration that is a key plan against the KID.  VT will counter this demonstration by launching a K-side operation aiming to attack the enemy King. The debate rages on whether the Q-side operation is as good as the hunt for the King on the K-side with victors emerging on both sides plus drawn games. But players who like attacking chess have come to praise the systems that have evolved over many years.

Wait just a second, Kindred! I read comments like don’t advance pawns in front of your King. And what about moving pieces more than once in the opening or deploying a Knight on the rim? And regarding pawn structure, you lock the center with d5.  Ouch!  I did say that here and there didn’t I! Could I say sometimes are meant to be bent in order to fit into an opening plan? General principles are good guides but must be weighed in the context of the position at the moment. That is a key difference between the old school and that of the moderns.

17.b4  a5  18.a3  Nh5  19.Bf2

While blunted and useless on g3, JS improves its position and increases sq/ct that exerts pressure on the dark diagonal and supports his Q-side pawn attack.

19…Nf4

Here I answer the earlier query about Knights on the rim (they do look dim lacking sq/ct potential). However, I also said that the edge of the board can be used by the Knight in a springboard type bankshot to a more productive square (in this case f4).

20.Qd2  Qe8  21.Be3  Qg6  22.g4  Bd7

Having won the first game of this match up, VT seems confident and JS has to win this game in order for a playoff to break the tie. Sq/ct is level although these chaps don’t apply my theory per se. Still it is worth mentioning that white does enjoy a 14/12 spatial edge at the moment thanks to his Q-side operations.  22.g4 has slowed VT’s attack a bit while JS is ready to roll!

23.c5  axb4  24.axb4  Rxa1  25.Rxa1  bxc5  26.bxc5  h5

VT cannot hold back and must counterattack to have any practical chances.

27.Bxf4  exf4

This opens the diagonal for the Bishop.

28.c6  Bxg4

Tempo moves are important and the sac leads to sharp play and muddy water resulting around the white monarch wets the appetite and imagination of the young Topalov.

29.fxg4  hxg4  30.Ra7!

The principle learned in MY SYSTEM and games of the great earlier masters like Capablanca confirm the value of Rooks on the 7th rank.

30…f3

He is willing to give up the c-pawn to not waste tempo defending it and to further his own attack.

31.Rxc7  Be5  32.Re7

With threats like Rxe5 and d6.

32…Bf4  33.Qf2

It is important to keep the Q on the 2nd rank and it blocks the f pawn and keeps an eye on h2.

33…Qh6  34.c7  Ra8  35.Nd1  Kf8  36.Rd7  Ke8  37.Rh7  Black resigns 1-0.

If, 37…Qf8 38.Qb2 is murder with the double threat of Qb8+ or Nf6+

In the playoff game, Jonathan got to play the white pieces and launched the Torre Attack against Topalov’s Indian setup. I shall share with you that battle next time.

Lessons to Learn:

  1. Principles can never be applied without recognizing that openings have their own peculiar sense of purpose. A good illustration is the line 1.e4  g6  2.d4 Bg7, a defense Alekhine called the “JOKE OPENING”. Perhaps that is one reason why the great Capablanca often adopted the fianchetto later in life.
  2. This game illustrates the basic concepts of play for both sides by two artists of the first rank.
  3. Sometimes sacrificial action is needed especially in regards to wasted tempi on moves that tend to weaken coming endgame structure of pawns and pieces. Better to go down fighting than to sit there and let your position deteriorate.

Adios, amigos!

Kindred’s Special: More on Pawn Structure or Biding One’s Time

March 12, 2009

The 1995 Moscow Intel Grand Prix had many exciting games, all at a time control of G25.  The game I chose here is exciting and shows that the art of chess has many wrinkles from the opening until the final solution. Often it is the player who makes the next to last mistake that wins, and this is no exception. GM Ilya Smirin had for a number of previous events suffered eliminations time and again. Here he faces V. Kramnik who essays his favorite Sicilian Defense against Smirin’s choice of attack called “The Rossolimo Sicilian”.

1.e4  c5  2.Nf3  Nc6  3.Bb5

The Rossolimo variation has kinship with the Ruy Lopez and is one of the principal lines against the Sicilian opening.  VK adopts probably the best defensive setup against it.

3….g6  4.Bxc6  dxc6

I believe at the time this was the recommended recapture and later it was found that Black did well with 4…bxc6 as well but with a different type of setup. With the text, VK gets free development and a half-open d-file.

5.d3  Bg7  6.O-O  Bg4  7.h3  Bxf3  8.Qxf3  Nf6  9.a4

IS hopes to create play on the wings as the center is in Black’s control.

9…Nd7

This stops the Bishop from being developed immediately and the Knight guards both e5 and c5.

10.Nd2  O-O  11.Qe2

IS must be patient and relocates his Q to the best square. VK has outwitted IS and is pressuring the dark central squares and the Bishop dominates the diagonal and enjoys a sq/ct lead of 3/5.

11…e5  12.b3  Re8  13.Nc4

By playing e5 Black has secured the center and dominates the dark squares so IS must try to get some Qwing play before that gets shut down.

13…Nf8  14.Be3  Ne6  15.a5  Qc7  16.Rfd1  b5  17.axb6e.p.  axb6  18.Qf1  b5  19.Nd2  Nd4

VK decides to rid the board of the Bishop and thereby completely own the dark squares and solidify the center. However, lets take a think here.  The Knight took four tempi to reach e6 (f6>d7>f8>e6) where it occupied a good view of terrain hitting enemy terrain. So VK elects to virtually force the exchange on its 5th tempo move seems suspect as he winds up with a Bishop versus a Knight. More on this later.

20.Bxd4  cxd4  21.Rxa8  Rxa8  22.Ra1  Ra5!

VK wants to control the a-file.

23.Qd1  Qa7  24.Rxa5  Qxa5  25.Nf3  h6

Another feature of sq/ct is defending squares within your own camp that prevent invasion by enemy units. We are told not to put your own pawns on the same color as the Bishop toward the endgame. Have we reached that stage? IS has difficulties but the fact is that it is also known that the Queen and Knight work better together than do the Queen and Bishop in many positions unless the Bishop has great reach across the board. Here the pawns limit that reach.

26.Kf1  c5  27.Ke2  Qa2  28.Nd2  Bf8  29.Nf3  Bd6  30.Nd2  Kg7  31.Qb1  Qa3  32.Nf3  Bc7

Aiming to relocate the Bishop to a5 where it exerts some pressure on the squares near the King. Still, it doesn’t appear to have much consequence.

33.Nd2  Ba5

On the surface it seems that IS is biding his time watching VK’s python-like squeeze being applied hoping he can muster K-side attacking opportunity before it is too late.

34.Nf3  Kf6  35.Nh2  Ke6  36.g4  Bd8  37.Nf3  g5

This blocking idea puts another pawn on a dark square. With the h-pawn still mobile, VK could face some difficulties due to the presence of the white Knight and King.

38.Nd2  Ba5  39.Nf1  f6  40.Ng3!

One might readily and correctly ask why Black puts his pawns all on dark squares since his Bishop finds limited space or chances to break into the White position. The Knight eyes both h5 and f5 now and cannot be harrassed by the Bishop.

40…Qb4  41.Qd1  c4  42.bxc4  bxc4  43.Nf5  Qb2  44.Nxh6  c3  45.Nf5  Qb2  46.Kf3!  Bf8  47.Ng3  Be7  48.Nf5  Bf8

Is VK looking to draw by a 3-time repetition of the position?

49.h4?

Why not 49.Kg3!so as to recapture with the King? Then, on 49…Be7 50.h4  gxh4+  51.Kxh4  Bf8  52.Kh5! The point is that White gets a lot of activity for his King which now turns into an aggressive monarch where previously it had played a passive and defensive role.  The point is that White loses a tempo now and a tempo is very important in chess.

49…gxh4  50.Nxh4  Bh6  51.Nf5  Bg5  52.Kg2  Kd7

Black jumps on his bike and plans to peddle all the way to the lst rank. I would guess that White and perhaps both players were in time pressure in this G/25 perhaps for many moves.

53.Qh1  Qxc2  54.Qh7+ Kc6  55.Ne7+ Kb5  56.Nd5  Ka4  57.Qb7  Ka3  58.Qb4+ Ka2  59.Nb6  Qb3  60.Qa5+  Kb1  61.Nc4  c2  62.Na3+ Qxa3 63.Qxa3  c(Q)1 64.Qb3+ Ka1  65.Kf3  Qc3  66.Qd1+ Kb2  67.Ke2  Qc2+ 0-1.

Lessons to learn from this game:

  1. White developed slowly using the idea of the double pawn as compensation for Black (VK) jumping off to a seemingly great start. Such a situation is not easy to digest but White kept his head and may have been hoping the clock would benefit him if he could keep VK from breaking through in a decisive manner.
  2. VK handled the black forces with great skill achieving a clear opening spatial advantage. However, strategically I question some of his plans that settled for exchanging his active Knight for the Bishop even though it strengthened his dark squares. It did not appear that it led to very much in the long run especially when he put his pawns on the dark squares and then let White have both h5 and f5 for points of attack by the Knight.
  3. Losing tempi in not using his King to recapture on h4 per my note thereby establishing threats of his own with a King-wing pawn rollup.
  4. G/25 means the whole game must be played in 50 minutes, 25 minutes per side. Such battles become blitz often as the decision and outcome zero in on seconds remaining for both players. If you take 25 min x 60 sec = 1500 seconds divided by 67 moves = 22-23 seconds per move. Of course any amount of time can be used on individual positions.  It is not for someone who wears a wig, suffers heart problems, high blood pressure, poor sight, or has nerve problems.

Kindred’s Special: The Psychology of Pawn Structure

March 12, 2009

1.d4  Nf6  2.c4  e6  3.Nc3  Bb4  4.Nf3  Bxc3+  5.bxc3

The origins of using the art of chess with psychology was of course championed by Emmanuel Lasker who reportedly played the man as much or more than the board.  But really it was probably much a part of the Anderssen – Morphy match where the good German teacher tried to lure Morphy into attacks that left his position insufficient at the end of the firefight.

The above moves were played in the Carlsbad 1929 Tournament won by Aron Nimzowitsch (AN) versus  Efim Bogolyubov (EB) who had the White pieces.  AN played the immediate Bxc3 simply to set his opponent the problem of the pawn structure c3/c4/d4 that  AN believed was not fully understood by EB. That is the only reason he played it before being forced to do so.  EB loved his Bishop-pair and no doubt considered Black’s reply as questionable.

5….b6  6.g3  Bb7  7.Bg2  O-O  8.O-O  Re8

AN was noted for his mysterious Rook moves but it is quite logical.  It pulls the fangs on White playing e4 because 9.Nd2  Bxg2 10.Kxg2  e5 stopping 11.e4  exd4 12.cxd4  Nxe4 winning a pawn, breaking up the pawn structure and leaving EB with hanging pawns and three pawn islands.

9.Re1  d6  10.Qc2

A wasted move where EB could have continued with 10.Nd2 Bxg2 11.Kxg2 e5 12.e4 with a pawn structure center that gives some compensation for the coming fight.  Most likely EB was visualizing 10…Nd7 11.e4  e5 leaving a position with lots of pieces ready for the struggle.

10…Be4  11.Qb3  Nc6  12.Bf1  e5  13.dxe5  Nxe5  14.Nxe5  Rxe5 15.Bf4  Re8  16.f3  Bb7  17.Rad1  Nd7  18.e4  Qf6  19.Bg2

EB liked his Bishops and probably felt his pair would give good compensation for his slightly inferior position.

19…Ne5  20.Rd2  Re7  21.Red1  Bc6!

This increases sq/ct, limits the Queen action and doubly protects the d7/e8 squares.

22.Rf2  Rae8  23.Bf1  h6

EB seems to flounder without any formation of a plan which indicates a sterile and anemic position.

24.Be2  Kh8  25.Qa3  Qe6  26.Qc1

The a7 pawn is immune because 26.Qxa7  Ra8 traps the Queen. EB tries to redeploy his forces but a clear plan eludes him.

26…f5  27.exf5  Qxf5  28.Qd2  Qf7

AN is focusing on a favorable endgame emerging after a series of exchanges.

29.Qd4  Ng6  30.Bd3  Nxf4  31.Qxf4  Qxf4  32.gxf4  Rf8  33.f5  Bd7  34.Rdd2  Bxf5  35.Rfe2  Rxe2  36.Bxe2  Re8  37.Kf2  Re5!  38.Rd5  g5  39.Rxe5  dxe5  40.c5  bxc5  41.Ba6  e4  42.a4  Kg7  43.a5  exf3  44.Kxf3  Kf6  45.Ke3  Ke5

AN’s King is active in the attack and  EB’s King is restricted to defense of contested territory. It is near zugswang.

46.Bc4  Bg4  47.Ba6  h5  48.Bc4  h4  49.Ba6  Bd1  50.Bb7  g4

White resigns.  (0-1).

I chose this game because it reflects often the type of positions we amateurs often face either in skittles or tournament play, a game lacking a slashing Kingside attack or any brilliant tactical shot.  It is a basically positional struggle with little mistakes that accumulate into a position where exchanges of pieces and pawns lead one side to having a superior if not winning endgame position.

Kindred’s Special: More Amateur Strategy

March 2, 2009

My previous column dealt with question and suggestion to examining why 1.e4 is best for the amateur to concentrate energies on in order to develop attack/defense motifs that should dominate the learning experience from beginner to master. The rating range of master to Grandmaster encompasses a larger segment as you go up the ladder where opening systems are dissected into the 20-30 move middlegame in many cases with the pawn structure in mind for getting a superior endgame when and after the fur has flown in the melee.

What I show now is the Ruy Lopez and one of my main stays as Black defending against it.  After, 1.e4  e5  2.Nf3  Nc3  3.Bb5  I previously looked at various less common ways to address the defense needs called variations–all having interesting titles attributed to either a player or tournament where it originated or made popular.  Now I examine a favorite of mine where I have had reasonable success in both otb and cc play through the years.

At this point, the most popular Closed Variation 3…a6  4.Ba4  Nf6 5.O-O  Be7, a tree from those explored earlier whose branches are many from this point on.  Now, 6.Qe2 the Worrall Attack varies from the main theme and enjoys some popularity. GM Reshevsky used to play it just to vary from…

6.Re1  b5  7.Bb3  O-O  8.c3  d6

Black can try the Marshall Attack …d5, which could have been avoided by White playing 8.a4. That idea runs 8.c3  d5  9.exd5 Nxd5 10.Nxe5  Nxe5  11.Rxe5  c6 (Bb7 is possible) 12.d4  Bd6 13.Re1 that has remained a mystery as to who, if either, has the advantage. If you enjoy attacking or defending tedious and unclear positions, this variation is fun to play and leads to some exciting play.

8.c3  O-O  9.h3

If White plays 9.d4 then Black is best to play Bg4, a continuation explored in recent years with mixed results. However, Black should avoid 9…Bb7 because of 10.d5 blocking the diagonal although it relaxes central tension enjoyed by the pawn duo d4/e4.

9…Bb7

Black has a slight lead in development but cannot prevent White from occupying the center via d4 so compensation must be found to offset this since White will eventually complete developing and be in position to launch tactics with both Q-side and K-side threats of attack coordinated by a fairly secure center pawn structure. This whole concept is why the Ruy Lopez has enjoyed enormous prestige for decades.

Black’s choice aims to pressure e4 which he hopes will interfere with White general development of the QN from d2>f1. There are two alternative plans: (1) Morphy line 9…Na5  10.Bc2  c5 11.d4  Qc7;     (2) Nb8 Breyer line  10.d4  Nbd7. After 11.Nbd2 Bb7 looks sharp because the N no longer blocks the diagonal.

10.d4  Re8

A key to Black’s positional defensive maneuver here is to guard the square e5 while making room for the Bishop to go to f8 to help guard the King position and secure e5’s post.

11.Nbd2  Bf8  12.a4!

This Qwing action is often seen when Black’s Qside pawns are advanced. It signals White intends to eye the whole board in his tactical and strategic aims.  But White must be careful to avoid the mistake of 12.Nf1 because Black is prepared to nail the center with a hammer blow starting with …exd4  13.cxd4  Na5 with a tripling attack on e4.  A trap is 13…Nxe4?? 14.Rxe4  Rxe4  15.Ng5  Re7 16.Qh5 and the attack looks deadly.

At this point I have played  12…Qd7, 12….g6 as well the next.

12…h6  13.Bc2

Adding protection to the center squares d3 and e4 and where pressure might be possible on b5 via Bd3 at some point.

Because of 12…h6 I now follow Kasparov vs Karpov for an excellent example of two geniuses at work. The art of chess at its best.

13….exd4  14.cxd4  Nb4

Makes room for c5 and attacks the center which is a normal defensive strategy when faced with a pending K-side assault.

15.Bb1  c5

Gaining square count and space on the Q-side and stopping a possible Knight to d4.  Black might consider also here 15….Qd7  with 16…g6 and 17…Bg7 setting up some defense of the King position. Still, the strategy Karpov wages is to get a Knight eventually to d3 reducing some of White’s attack by blunting the w/s Bishop. Now that the c-pawn is gone, White has jump moves threats of Ra3>Nh2>Rg3 with rapid piece deployment to the K-side. Black has jump moves like Nd7>c4>Nc5 (Nd3) and defensive preparation by g6>Bg7.

At this point I close because the game lasted to move 41 when Karpov resigned. It was a titanic struggle but not within the understanding of the amateur player who may well become overwhelmed by the wizardly tactics of two of the world greatest players at the time this game was played. Karpov came up with a brilliant defensive idea and Kasparov was equal to the task in meeting it. Still, there is probably room for improvements for both sides.

The objective  to show some of the ideas for both sides in just one line of play (Bb7) in the Closed Variation should provide you lots to study. As I said earlier, there are variations within variations and this one is just one of many to contemplate and stimulate you to enjoy the art of chess play.

Adios, Amigos.

Kindred’s Look at Amateur Strategy Needs

March 1, 2009

Over six decades of chess play I found with due thought one of the questions I was most asked was: “Do you recommend I play 1.e4 or 1.d4,” or variations expanding on the question itself. My response was to study and concentrate on 1.e4 openings because they follow an attack, defend motif whereas Queen Pawn openings tend to be more deeply involved in positional maneuvering. “King Pawn openings tend to sharpen your attacking and defensive game and point out strengths and weaknesses in your plans and ideas put into the battle. Chess is a battle of wits between you and your opponent where, for the student wanting to learn and improve skill, necessitates to a degree a concentration on finding opening systems that fit your style and enthusiasm for the game. Since the vigor of youth bolsters the desire to charge forward, the variety of openings starting with 1.e4 are largely forged in open positions where the fireworks are ever present.

An interesting idea I came up with involves playing Black against the Ruy Lopez. I have long been an advocate of answering 1.e4 with e5 which I consider a straightforward defense and I do not know how many times I saw eyebrows of my opponents frown at my reply as I suspect they were prepared to do battle against the Sicilian, French, Caro Kann, or weird fianchetto Indian systems via 1…g6 or 1….d6.

After, 1.e4  e5  2.Nf3  Nc6  3.Bb5 years ago I introduced the strange looking 3…b6. I was successful because my opponent thought I was nuts and did not know how to play chess!  In recent years I have been looking at variations that I avoided due mostly to playing those I was most familiar with and I like positions that offer counterattacking chances and imbalance that almost assures chances for both sides. I cannot say that 3…b6 is sound.  But it poses a problem for White in that if he exchanges with 4.Bxc6  dxc6 gives Black the two bishops longterm with excellent control over the white squares that might favor my square count theory.  In trying different methods for White I noticed that often the QR is long delayed in finding a suitable file. In general my analysis presents Black with excellent middlegame and endgame play. Another plan is 4.c3 aiming for d4 but maybe Bd6 is good and after d4 with f6 or even Qf6 to hold the center.  Here the White Bishop has to regroup if not exchanged costing a valuable tempo. Either castling or playing Qe2 is slow and lets Black further development without any direct action to refute b6. Another point less obvious is that now White no longer really has a Q-wing a4 sally against advanced a/b pawns found in more normal pawn structures. At some point the aggressive counter by a5 saves a tempo if the opportunity arises favorable to Black for that action. For no other reason, it does give Black more square count and space to control of the Qside.

I have only my own analysis to gauge the effectiveness of this novelty and no play from actual games other than my brief encounter where the White side was totally misplayed as I recall. Whether sound or not, and many novelties have surfaced in various openings with preliminary good results only to be studied and analyzed to death either to forge it as an additional weapon or to add it to the scrape heap of historical ? marks, I herewith challenge the chess stars of the chessworld to at least look at the idea with an open mind. I am a fairly good player and interest in chess related more to the service area (TD, organizer and program director) as a young man and history of the royal game.

My next column will be devoted to a look at one of my favorite lines with Black in meeting the Ruy Lopez.  Until then, adios amigos.