Archive for December, 2016

The Amateur Eye – Humor Under Glass

December 29, 2016

A  chess player is one who creates constantly and enjoy a mix of sport, art and science.

Best thing ever said about a chess struggle came from Mikhail Tal: You must take your opponent into a deep dark forest, where 2+2=5, and the path leading out is only wide enough for one.

What is the best advice ever given?  When you fall 7-times and rise 8.

The top sought after square in chess is f7.

A crying moment of discovery in the mail was not my draft notice but a postal card received that a move received was not resignation but check and mate.

The Amateur Eye -Look for the bang!

December 27, 2016

Position:  White – pawns on (a2/c3/e3/f2/g2); Ng3/Bc1/Rd4/Rf1/Qe2/Kg1.

Position:  Black – pawns on (a7/b7/c6/g7/h6); Ne5/Bb6/Rf8/Rh4/Qg5/Kh8

Set up the position on your board.

How coordinated are W/B forces? Square Count? King safety?  Black to move.

As you develop use of my square counting, you will discover a big edge where pieces and pawns dig into the enemy’s position.  Pieces dominate open or half-open lines that affect both ranks and files.  What impact do the major and minor pieces have here?  For White, the whole army share no real collective purpose.  Even the black monarch seems to have no real threat to it’s safety. The QB has not even moved.  White has 3 pawn islands and 2 for Black. This generally means a black superior pawn structure.  Black minor and major pieces are aimed at the center and kingside.

So kids and parents and all other readers, I leave you to decide the outcome of this game between Levon Aronian and Richard Rapport.  The solution will follow tomorrow so stay tuned!  Remember: Black to move and win.  The solution I will add here.  Warning:  the solution begins with a brilliant concept.  That is my only clue. Turn on your brain computer!                                               (***)

The secret to many successful tactics result due to tempi or just one tempo creating a position that makes the whole battlefield come to life. This occurred in a game from the Novi Sad, 3rd round.  I promised the answer and here it is!

Move 27 ….Rh1+!!  The necessary brilliant display of how a simple tempo can set the stage for a score.  28. K:h1  forced which sets up the conclusion. Capturing the Rook on d4 would have lost.  And hopeless also was 28. N:h1 Nf3+ 29. Q:f3 R:f3.  After 28. K:h1  B:d4 29. f3  Here the point of the tempo gain is made clear. If, 29. e:d4 Qh4+ 30. Kg1 Ng4 wins. Play continued after 29. f3 Bb6 30. Ne4 Qh5+31. Kg1 Bc7 32.Kf2  Qh2 33. Ke1   Rd8 34. Bd2 Nd3+ 35. Kd1 Qe5 36. g4  Qb5  37. Qg2 Nb2+ 38. Kc2 Nc4 39. Bc1  Rd5  40. g5 Na5  41. Bd2  Qd3+ And we stop the misery!!















The Amateur Eye – TV Chess Missed

December 25, 2016

I know what you are going to say:  The Fischer versus Spassky World Championship Match of 1972 was due to Shelby Lyman’s brilliant performance to educate an uninformed American public about the values and greatness of our noble game.  The public saw it as a war game between the lone ranger and the Russian bear.  The silver bullets coming out of the six shooters of Fischer livened up spirit of the World Championship battles that were viewed world-wide but special meaning for the Americans and Russians.

At the time, George Koltanowsky (Kolty) presented a series of shorts on chess which were great entertainment.  It was followed by a few individual match games which caused yawns and shrugged shoulders of interest except by a very limited group known as ardent chess fans.

In a narrow view, Americans saw it as Russia versus the USA…period.

I hate giving up on chess as a TV spectator sport.  The only thing lacking is a really inventive format.  How about a cartoon feature program using chess figures in better explaining chess to youngsters.  Years ago, before computers, it was thought by folks like Nimsowitsch and others that kids not study chess until around age 13 or so.  It was pictured as an “old man’s game” having little to no value.  Today kids, both boys and girls, are throwing chess pieces around the board in record numbers.  Cartoon characters and even a cartoon host(s) might draw the masses of children picking up the game at different age levels.  The degree of complexity could easily be formulated to specific age groups from age 3 on.

Maybe I am stupidly naïve.  Am I???  Are there none in our social fabric brave enough to test the waters?  Maybe not?  Maybe yes.  Are there no musicians and song writers who have talent for making such a program come alive.  This game which has given so much to so many around the world deserves better by its devotees, teachers, and supporters.

One thing I do know.  Putting those chess pawns, knights, bishops, kings and queens in the box is disheartening. To be of value, they have to be seen, used and cherished.

The Amateur Eye- 85 Years Ago 1931

December 25, 2016

It was an era when the United States was king of teams capturing first place in the fourth International Team Tournament which was the forerunner of the Chess Olympiad. The American players dominated the field and represented many of the top players across America:  Isaac Kashdan (70%), Frank Marshall  (62%), Arthur Dake (60%), I. A. Horowitz (69%), and Herman Steiner (70%) scoring a team high of 48 of a possible 72 points.  Second place was captured by Poland who headed up a strong field by Akiba Rubinstein (60%) with 47 points.  Czechoslovakia captured third place with 46 points. It was the last time Rubinstein would sit at a chess board due to having been badly scarred from a bombing in the world war.  Yet, he lived another 30 years to the age of 78.

Against the USA team, Rubinstein scored a full point against Kashdan with this short key game.  White:  Kashdan  vs. Black:  Rubinstein features a Queen’s Gambit.

l. d4  d5  2. Nf3  Nf6  3. c4  e6  4. Nc3  Nbd7 5. Bg5  Be7  6. e3  O-O  7. Qc2  h6  8. Bf4  c5!? Pursuing an aggressive posture.  9. c:d5  c:d4  10. e:d4  N:d5  11. N:d5  e:d5 12. a3  Probably played in hopes of avoiding Rubinstein’s great endgame skill by retaining pieces on the board.  12. …Re8  Thinking my square count again, he sets a clever trap.  If now, 13. Bc7?, then 13. … Bd6+!  13. Be2  Nf6  14. Bc7  Bf5! 15. Q:f5  Q:c7  16. O-O  Qb6 17.Rb1  Rac8  18. Qd3  a6  19. Nh4  Nc4  20. Nf5  Bf6  21. Rfd1  Rc4  22. Qf3  R/4c8 23. Qg4 Kf8  24. Bf3 g6! 25. Ne3  B:d4  26. N:d5  B:f2+  27. Kf1 Qb5+ 28. Be2  Qc6  29. g3  Ba7  30. Qf4  Kg7  31. Rbc1  Qe6  32. Bg4  R:c1!!  This leaves White with shock. 33. B:e6  R:d1+ 34. Ke2  Rd2+  White resigns.


Bled, 1931 saw another great tournament where world champion Alexander Alekhine smashed through 26 rounds without a defeat against the crème European chess.  Six years before,  Nimzovich had knocked over Sir George Thomas with this pawn sortie 6… f5 for which the world champion had likely teased Sir George to repeat with “try once with success; try it again!”  While Sir George has slain many a dragon, here repeats contain a lot of fire and smoke.

This slam bang aggressive display aided in formulating my square count theory.

White:  Alekhine    vs.  Black:  Nimzovitch   Opening:  French Defense

l. e4  e6  2. d4  d5  3. Nc3  Bb4  4. Nge2!?  d:e4  5.  a3  B:c3+ 6. N:c3  f5?! Nimzovich used to exercise by standing on his head upside down to rush blood to his brain. I am not sure it is advisable during a chess battle.  He repeats an earlier game which he won.  Could he catch the world champion asleep, perhaps?  Alekhine was in attack mode for which this white line was noted. A pawn is a pawn is a famous quote by GM Evans.

7. f3  e:f3  8. Q:f3  Ahh, that French wine is so good!

8. … Q:d4  Does he realize that pawn snatching opens up lines of attack ala square count?

9.  Qg3! Nf6  10. Q:g7  Qe5+ 11. Be2  Rg8  12. Qh6  Rg6  13. Qh4  Bd7  14. Bg5  Bc6  15. O-O-O! Be4  16. Rhe1  Be4  17. Bh5  N:h5 18. Rd8+ Kf7  19. Q:h5 Black resigns.




Eternal Truth – God’s Gracious Gift

December 19, 2016


Regardless of beliefs that brought maturity to your life–parents, siblings, priests ministers, literature, music, educational training, and mentors, all or in part, reflect who you are that may well be altered through the time clock of life.  Your individual being is the embodiment of your soul which breathes freedom and the right to worship or not your Lord.

In every sense of thought, this is how the American Dream from earliest times of braving the long journey from Europe, Asia, and Africa to the New World the risk to escape a  drudgery of life from the old world.  It was not instant change but a gradual realization that was molded in the character of the human race, yet to be unleashed.  Brave hearts that journeys taken into the unknown with no guarantee but the willingness to work at progress and faith that our Lord had assured believers–in faith, spirit and love which embraced the first two commandments as greatest among them.  This truth was an established reality that the church was the rock of every community and embraced by all faiths as a key ingredient to our direct link to God and worship.

This Christmas season is celebrated every December 25th as a time to honor our Lord Jesus.  His birth was at the time when taxes were collected but the exact time was never established except that it was  a time when the shepherds were in the fields tending their sheep which history points to sometime during the Fall (August – September), when the angels came to them from the heavens announcing the birth of a savior.

Why did not the angels announce this great gift to the kings and mighty? No, it was given honor to the shepherds in the fields–the workers, the love and joy of the peace seekers and protectors of their flocks.

The Bible speaks of the Magi who saw the star and was drawn to follow it.  The Bible says that three gifts were given so it was assumed that there were three Magi which brought gold, incense and myrrh (used to anoint the dead).  A dream warned the Magi to beware of King Herod so they took a different route back to their own country.

It is the lesson we Christians embrace that Jesus was not born among the elite of the time but came forth out of the common folk lore.  He was born without a crown that depicted kings of that time.  He was a carpenter and when he disappeared from time to time, his answer to his mother and father was that he was about his Father’s business.  He went forth in his early thirties probably enlisting his disciples early in his travels.

The story of Jesus is true.  He walked the paths shared by many today and his fate was sealed on the Cross to save those who came to be reborn in his spirit, love and grace.

Christmas is a time to reflect and rejoice in prayer and song of the birth of Baby Jesus–God’s gift of grace and love for all mankind who seek him.






A Youthful Chess Adventure 2005

December 11, 2016

What has always attracted me to the joys coming from chess is that one can look back to earlier times to see the youthful adventures of young champions who had yet to reach maturity.  And one might say that magazine subscriptions to chess periodicals is a necessary component to achieve this; we rarely find our purpose otherwise.

NIC 2006 #1 gives a picture from the world junior championship announcing Shakhriyar  Mamedyarov, AZE, the male champ, ( 2674) and Elizabeth Pahtz, Germany, the girls champ, (2408) with scores of 10.5 and 10.0.

We often read about the difference between male and female chess strength. Perhaps I could say, not being a great myself but able to gain a perspective from the view of my readership, that there tends to be a different approach to handling positions and openings.  Each receives the benefit of home study or even coaches and methods of instruction. These can vary where the skill is often seen in the mental attachment each is willing to absorb through such training.  And in the final analysis, it is individual style of likes and dislikes that mold the maturity of youth.

Thus, I give two games, one each, that might clarify my comments that are based from their respective results.  I point to theory, strategy, level of concentration ingrained in the style of each champion. Enjoy.

White: Evgeny Alekseev   Black:  Shakhriyar Mamedyarov   English – Pirc Defense

l. c4  Nf6  2. Nc3  g6  3. e4  d6  4. g3  Bg7  5. Bg2 O-O  6. Nge2  c5  7. d3  Nc6  8. O-O  a6  9. h3  Rb8  10. a4  Bd7.  Common too is 10… Ne8 11. Be3  Nd4 to avoid a future d4 pawn sortie to the center that black felt confident allowing.

11. Be3  Ne8  12. d4  c:d4  13. N:d4  Nc7 14. Kh2  Ne6  Square count is W/14  B/5. Black has set up a hedgehog type defensive structure which is solid.  Black must start thinking to gain sq.ct. for himself. White is better prepared to increase mobility and territory because of his active pawns.  Now, instead of playing aggressively, White avoids exchanges which is a bit slow.  An aggressive path was 15. N:e6  B:e6 16. Nd5  B:b2 17. Rb1 Bg7  18. f4 with better chances for attack for the pawn missing.

15. Nde2  Perhaps following a belief by computers that it is wise sometimes to avoid exchanges.  But this thought is rather slow here because black forces will begin to find happier times.

15. … Na5  A knight on the rim is dim but not when used as a ricochet (c4).

16. b3  b5  17. c:b5  a:b5  18. b4  Nc4  19. Ba7  Avoiding the more adventurous 19.a5!? maybe because 19…N:e3  20. f:e3  Be5 21. Rc1  h5.

19. … b:a4!  20. B:b8  Q:b8  21. Nd5  Re8!


22. Ra2  Nd8? Black has sacrificed his R for getting the bishop-pair with a very active position but best was 22… Nc7 with a complicated battle.

23. Qe2 e6  24. Ndf4?  A tit for tat because White misses the powerful 24. Ndc3! Nb6 25. b5 Nb7 26. N:a4 N:a4 27. Q:a4 Nc5  28. Qc2 Q:b5 29. Rb1!  Regrouping and eyeing square count,  black pieces began to offer hope.

24. … Nh6  25. Rc1 Nc6 26. Nd3  Na7  27. Qd2  Bh5  28. Ne3  Bc4

29. N:a4 B:a2  30. Q:a2 offering a draw. Declined as the black bishop on g7 is more active than white on g2. The a4N will be out of play after….

30. … N d7! 31. Nab2 h5! Forcing 32. h4 weakening the g5 square.

32. … Nb5 33. Nc4  Nf6 34. Kg1 Rc8 Black forces are methodically being improved in the position with the goal to avoid exchanging pieces.

35. Qd2 Ng4  36. Na5  Bc3 37. Qd1 Rc7  This prophylactic move leaves White unable to find a useful move.

38. Bf1  Qa7 39. Qa4  N:f2  The dark pieces have an overwhelming square count now!

40. N:f2  Qe3 41. Qd1  Bd4 42. Rc2 Q:g3+ 43. Bg2  Be3! 44. Nb3  R:c2  45. Q:c2  B:f2+ 46. Q:f2  Q:h3  White resigns.   <***>

White:  Elisabeth Pahtz    Black:  Irina Vasilevich  Sicilian Defense

l. e4  c5  2. Nf3  e6  3. d4  c:d4  4. N:d4 Nc6  5. Nc3 a6  6. Be3 Nf6 7. Be2 Qc7 8. O-O Bb4  Irina normally plays the Scheveningen  that I had stressed, giving …Bb4 line little review in preparation for this game.

9. Na4  O-O 10. c4  Another idea is to play 10. N:c6 b:c6 11. Nb6  Rb8 12. N:c8 R:c8 13. B:a6 Rf8 14. Bd3 Bd6 which leads to an unclear position.

10. … Bd6 11. N:c6  b:c6  12. g3?! At home she decided 12. f4 was a better play. However, the plan seems to have produced an okay position. She felt the B belonged on f4.

12. … N:e4 13. c5 Be7  13… B:e5?! 14. Qd3 f5 15. f3 White is slightly better.

14. Bd3 Nf6 15. Bf4  Qd8 16. Nb6  Ra7  17. Qc2! Putting pressure on the kingside. On the CB web the Q was moved to e2 which fouled up the whole conversation. It reminds me of the erroneous move transmittal during a USCF Team League game where it took several moves to  realize something was amiss! High tech is not perfect in the hands of mortals!

17. …h6 18. b4 Nd5  19. N:d5  c:d5  20. a4 Like many girls fast play seems to enliven the spirit.  With only 3-minutes left for the t/c, it became a speed race. My opponent had lots of time left. Taking over 40-minutes on a position cost me. The position is easier to play with white.

20. … Bf6 21. Rae1 Re8 22. Bd6 Bb7  23. f4  Ra8 24. Qe2 Qc8?! Better was Be7.

25. Qh5 Bd4+ 26. Kg2  Bc3 reaching the critical position in the game.

27. Re2  d4+?  28. Kh3 f5  29. g4! Qd8 30. g:f5 e:f5 31. Q:f5 R:e2  32. Qh7+ Kf7 33. B:e2 d3  34. Bh5+ Ke6 35. Q:d3  Black resigns.

What I like about this comparison is both players played these games near the end of the tournament so both had probably suffered physical and mental stress.

The male has the tougher schedule per ratings.  He also has likely much greater depth of knowledge coming from actual tournament play with tournament pressure equal for both. The female battle plan is different. I see it in comment structure. The sense of preparation is given less attention to detail and more to familiar general  ideas.   The love and spirit of play is equal.
























Anon– Dear Friends!?

December 9, 2016

Having been selected for being a distinguished member of the Committee to raise millions for a monument to honor Hillary R. Clinton, as just one of many toward that end, I really feel honored to have earlier suggested that Hillary retire and not run for President but enjoy retirement from public life, enjoy the billions she sits on and reap the rewards of being the wife of Bill, having a beautiful daughter, a noisy but cheerful smiling grandchild where she could fully enjoy her wealth of self and playing grandma.  There she could watch her looks, give aid to the needy with generous donations to thousands of charities that scream from the rooftops for the grave yard that has been weaved during the past eight years of democratic fanfare.

Unfortunately, she did not listen to me.  Of course she never listens to anybody.  So, she looks like she belongs now in a soup kitchen of the Salvation Army, Meals On Wheels, or the American Red Cross.  That is performance of her talent of a worthwhile value.

Of course, the Democrat Party, trying to hide its deplorable and despicable recent folly in the 2016 election fiasco that was in bed with the news media 99% looking for the head of Donald J. Trump, literally found millions wasted on phony-baloney.  They never learned the axiom: Never stir the ashes of a long silent citizenry just waiting for the spark to be inflamed within the body politic.

Well, not to get off the beaten path, the general thought was to put her on Mount Rushmore.  The problem was she had two faces and the stone cutters couldn’t agree as to which face was real.

Then the plan agreed to was to put her statue between George Washington and Barack Hussein Obama in the Washington, D.C. Hall of Fame. Then, it was discovered by a few that George never told a lie, and Barack never told the truth.

Just what to do?  Then someone said that since she was hyped up to grant free access to our shores that she should be placed next to Christopher Columbus, the greatest Democrat of them all.  He left not knowing where he was going, and when he got there, did not know where he was.  He returned confused, not knowing where he had been, and did it all on someone else’s money!

On behalf of the Committee’s Investigation into the plan and merits of its being widely thought of as a final Hail Mary touchdown pass, I submit this altered paper.

God Bless America!!!


The Amateur Eye – Chess Problems

December 3, 2016

The art of the chess problem is rich and long.  Some are simple; others are extremely difficult to solve.  The simple ones can be mind boggling to the novice.  Such is the following position: White Ph2  B/e4 and g1, Qh4/Kh1.  Black  Kg7 / Bb7 / Qa3.

Chess problems usually find the squares to be the key to chess strategy which often feature the lack of mobility for the king.  If you had been privileged to view the Carlsen final Q-sac brilliancy, the actual condition was easy to arrive at.  Just using square count and viewing the W/Q squares it attacked, would show easily the crushing move that was so appealing to the audience.  Often, it is the seemingly “impossible” that turns the screws in the position leading to checkmate.  The key as I said to checkmate was the elimination of squares for the king to escape checks.

The above sample position shows Black to move and force checkmate. The Queen guards the Bishop on e4.  So the question is: How does the mate occur?  Or, does it?  The answer is that the improbable becomes the possible and fulfilled in the actual moves to play. 1…Qa3-f3 check. This forces 2. B:Q and it is the black B:f3 checkmate.

A cute finish comes in the diagram: White Ph2, d3, Bc4, Rg2, Qf1, Kh1.  Black  Kh8 /Ra8 / Bb7 / Qc6.  Things don’t look so hot for White’s King on h1. Black to move wins easily. But supposing it is White to move?  1. Bd5! looks rather startling.

It is easy to ask the computer to solve a problem or any game position to choose a course of action.  But the chess player loses the battle because the human brain is not challenged. That is the key reason to use your own computer–your brain not some electronic device!

The Amateur Eye – In the News

December 1, 2016

26-year-old Magnus Carlsen has successfully defended his world title.  He won using a problem like Queen sac.  Games will follow.

GM Mark Taimanov passed away at the age of 90.  He was Bobby Fischer’s first opponent in his run of famous matches winning 6-0. He was as terrific with music being a concert pianist.  He was a product of the cold war era and played many of the world-class players.

27th NATO Chess Championship was won by Poland ahead of Germany and Denmark.  The USA team finished in 4th place.

A new giant catalog featuring many beautiful sets,  boards, and tables was just completed and mailed to USCF members.

The Amateur Eye – What is a Hijab?

December 1, 2016

A hijab is a veil traditionally worn by Muslim women in the presence of adult males outside of their immediate family which covers the head and chest.  The term can further refer to any head, face, or body covering worn by Muslim women that conforms to a certain standard of modesty.

IM Nazi Paikidze apparently did research on this whole issue to discover that our state department, Canada and the United Kingdom had issued travel warnings to Iran because Iran continues to detain and imprison US citizens including students, journalists, academics on charges of espionage and posting a threat to national security.

With this published information she protested FIDE’s decision on the site, authoring a petition for this cause and offered two possible solutions for FIDE: 1. Change the venue or postpone the competition until another organizer is found to host the championship in a no conflict venue. 2. Require that wearing a hijab be optional and guarantee no discrimination based on gender, nationality, or any other human rights as pointed out in the FIDE handbook.

The petition was signed by 16200 signatures as of 10/21/16.  It has the support of US Chess president Gary L. Walters.  Garry Kasparov, a chess legend and the chairman of the human rights foundation on Twitter writing: “I fully support the US woman champion, N. Paikidze in her protest….Women’s rights are human rights.”

As a columnist, I do not want to become embroiled in lengthy discussions about this situation. I am not familiar with all the arguments but those expressed within the pages of Chess Life and New In Chess provide sufficient airing.  I have no control over what any government policy or ruling by powers within chess such as FIDE, USCF, or any other national entity wishes to pursue. None pay me any attention so my views remain my own. I do hope that some resolution can be found so that this great women’s tournament can be played and remain in force for all to enjoy.–Don.