Archive for June, 2017

The Amateur Eye

June 30, 2017

Poison Pen Joe on MSNBC justifiably got his program slammed by slamming Donald which is just about time.  I can imagine the critics from the media and politicians alike jumping on the bandwagon to say that Donald’s latest tweet was undignified.  Maybe many of them are.  But as you may have guessed, I have never been a tweeter fan nor do I use it myself.  What I find most distasteful is the attacks on the American Presidency by diehard sore losers who cannot bring themselves (the Democrats) to acknowledge that the millions spent to elect Hillary Clinton who, by the way, is by all accounts a poor judge of character and should have her role in the Obama administration further investigated since she has committed crimes which others have gone to prison for even less violations of national security.  But I won’t hold my breath.  It will probably never happen because of the ‘good old boys and girls club’ Washington, DC gang.

UC I am conservative by nature having experienced the trials and tribulations of having associations with liberals across the board–and here I am not talking wholly about chess. I saw at work as well as various forms of media coverage.  I was a liberal as a youth only to discover that the liberalist agenda, while sounding great, was a sham in many respects.  And I found that out, not by any conservative talk folks but just by observation of the whole American fraud perpetrated by the liberals on the citizenry from the time of immigration propaganda witnessed to the arm twisting of national labor bosses just to name a couple.  Perhaps the worst was the Teachers’ Union that worked endlessly toward the communistic socialism we see today in our education system.  The book publishers are a main culprit in trying to undermine our principles and history.

So in this, Donald J. Trump emerged as first interested citizen–to candidate–to President largely because the American people got fed up with the media bias and political skullduggery that continues to take place even though he is working to clean up the swamp.  He is a Lone Ranger because he meets nothing but hatred and constant harassment by politicos on both sides of the aisle who for too many years held their fingers up to see which way the wind blew.  All I can say  is ” God Bless Donald and America.” Amen and amen.

The Amateur Eye — A Queen Gem

June 25, 2017

The five-round event at Sigeman 2017 found the Englishman Nigel Short just out of hospital in extra good form in round 1.  Erik Blomqvist  (black) finds that square count does point to sparkling and unexpected moves sometimes.

White:  Nigel Short   vs.  Black:  Erik Blomqvist  Opening: Ruy Lopez / Zaitsev Variation

l. e4  e5  2. Nf3  Nc6  3. Bb5  a6 4. Ba4  Nf6 5. O-O  Be7  6. Re1  b5  7. Bb3  d6  8. c3  O-O 9. h3  Bb7  10. d4  Re8  In my youth I had experimented with 10. …Qd7 as well as the text which was highly regarded by Karpov in postal chess play and club play.

ll. Nbd2  Bf8  12. d5  Short has scored well with this closure of the center.

12.  ….  Nb8  13. Nf1  Nbd7  14. Bg5  All within the realm of square count opening play as I would practice it.  Good alternatives are both Knight sorties like 14. Ng3 or 14. Nh2.

14. …  Nc5?  Played quickly, this natural reply is suspect here.  Best would be 14. …h6 or even 14…Be7 to challenge the pin.

15.  Bc2!!  Excellent play, freeing up the a/b pawns for Q-side action while protecting the e4 pawn and square. Black now takes a poke at the center pawns with…

15. … c6!  16. Ne3  a5  Expanding on the Q-side looking for some counter play in that theatre.

17.  b4  Ncd7  18. a4!  Qc7  19. d:c6 Q:c6  20. a:b5  Q:c3  21. b:a5  R:a5  22. Rc1!  A bit of tickle on the Queen cannot be bad.

22. … Qb4  23. Ng4!  More energy against the king-side.

23. … Q:b5  Short was weighing 23…N:g4 24. Bd2 Qa3  25. h:g4! is more apropos here.

24. Rb1  Good but even stronger was 24. B:f6 N:f6  25. N:f6+ g:f6  26. Nh4.

24. … Qa6  25. B:f6  N:f6  26. N:f6:+  g:f6  27. Nh4 Bc8  28. Bb3  Be6  29. Qh5  Rc8  30. Nf5 Ra3  31. Re3  R:b3 32. Re:b3  B:b3  33. R:b3  Rc1+34. Kh2  Qf1 35. Qg4+ Kh8 The stage is now set for another shocking Queen sac.  Do you see it?

36. Qg7+!!  This illustrates the collapse of any king movement out of check after …Bg7 37. Rb8+ Bf8  38. R:f8 mate!

This game finish illustrates once again the concept of square count and understanding the whole board concept of the importance of structures especially around the Kings.













The Amateur Eye — Old Age & Beauty

June 24, 2017

We chess players all turn old sooner or later.  How we perceive that eventual reality I here try to ease that feeling and share with you what this old man has learned over a life time.

There are many phases we pass through where ideas and realities sometime mix well and others when it seems like stirring the pot is burning or spoiling the grub so-to-speak.  We learn to take the good, the bad, and the ugly in stride.  The easiest way to say it is that there is a gap in the ages of humans that automatically alter our thinking in terms of fulfillment.  This encompasses belief, interests, love, respect toward others and charity. Millennials eye age 40 as old, especially women.  Younger ages might consider teens, adults ages 18-39 to be classed as old, telling us that what generational gap we find ourselves in dictates physical but not necessarily mentalities within groups.  The old saying is that you find vigor an element of wellbeing and youth springs eternal for some to be found at any age.

With the advancement of modern technology in labor and health life spans have increased.  Retirements have for many allowed a choice where to live, climate, general interests, new as well as old friendships.  We live in an age probably only dreamed by our forefathers for children and future generations.  This modern cycle of life today is most uplifting for those who strive to achieve some freedom of independence.

We know that everyone is not equal due to intelligence, home and country where there can be a wide variance of stability.  That is why I said we witness the good, the bad and the ugly.   As a Christian I believe in the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit; the devil Satan and his angels that ever tempt mankind to bear the fruit of sin.  That is why we are all sinners in the sight of God.  Jesus came to remedy that by his sacrifice on the Cross.  By prayer we are given the power to repel such sinful thoughts that plague the world.  Our thoughts of forming comparisons often turn portrayed good toward  an evil setting so disguised to entrap our thoughts in a devilish way.  To win this battle with Satan, the Bible provides the righteous way of living a joyful life by living the gift of the Ten Commandments.  It is the holy armor for mankind and gift of the Father who gave us his Son to give a just rule forever to live by.

Don’s Coffee Hour Delights

June 24, 2017

You have to be willing to face rejection–something you have to muster up.  This willingness is not my cup of tea to be sure, however it is harder than most people pretend, often beyond the reach of human kind.  It is, however (for today at least) the single most useful trait toward increasing your influence today.

My columns treat with square count the prospective winners and losers but don’t hold me to the finish which, in chess, can be a diabolical resolution to either a part or the whole.  Not floods, rain, fire or war will alter the spirit of the faithful.  Surely, being an honest witness inside you will spark truisms  toward your goals.

Blondie and Dagwood are true spirits.  Take the time Blondie asks if she looks good in her new bathing suit.  Before Dagwood can even answer, she pipes up with “Goodie! I’ll keep it.  Dagwood blurts out with, “I did not answer you.”  Well, you sorta did.

In Pickles, Opal is demonstrating how to set up a password to her sister.  Setting up a new account online. Select a security question.  WHO WAS YOUR FIRST PROM DATE? I never had a prom date. Thanks for bringing it up–blah.  Her sister pipes in with Ha. Ha! These aren’t security questions. They’re insecurity questions!

Hagar’s wife screams to her mate DO SOMETHING!!  Attila the Hun is headed for my mother’s house.   Hagar dashing out the door with his sword and shield says:  I never thought I’d be rescuing Attila the Hun!!

Dilbert always finds the right words:  I hear you’re a corporate spy for our “Elbonian” competitors.  That is an unfounded RUMOR!!  That is what guilty people say according to MSNBC and CCN.  I am not seeing a pathway to success with you here but turn the channel to FOX for clarification and rebuttal of such fake news!

Beetle tells his buddy that Sarge is not exactly a Boy Scout.  How so?  He has his own way of helping old ladies cross the street. HUP! TWO! THREE! FOUR!

Sonny asks his mom in the Family Circus: “How much money does Batman get when they make a movie about him?”

The Amateur Eye — Cartoon Craze

June 23, 2017

Andy Davey, one of the UK’s leading political cartoonists, highlights the indiscretions in the political world by a series on V. Putin’s role in the infamous world of hacking.  The cartoon in NEW IN CHESS sets the flavor for a political world of GM Garry Kasparov’s vision as he perceives it.

Putin is being portrayed as the ultimate strategist on the political chess board basking in the light of Russian superiority in this political game where several Euro members drawn to be foreign heads to dominate the European theatre, the board showing all Putin’s pieces dominating the scene with Putin’s fingers on toying with the captured pieces and pawns.

The whole concept of the cartoon is wrong in that Putin is given the nod for having hoodwinked the West and especially the United States by falling prey to the antics of the Russian leader who plays the strings of the puppets ever seen in shocked disbelief, horror and fear.  Donald Trump is learning all about chess by reading CHESS FOR DUMMIES!  so he can come up to speed in understanding all there is to know about this political game the Russians and their crony spies have unleashed upon the world.

I disagree with the world view that Trump plays like an idiot.  He is a builder who works hard to understand the world stage as it really is.  He is the only leader not engrossed in the antics played out on the board but is studiously looking to become wise in the ways of the Russian Bear.  For amateurs, it is not a bad book to examine on the game of life and the game of chess.

Don’s Humor-rama

June 23, 2017

The tools used to create will be a focal point but don’t be fooled.  Creativity doesn’t come from machines but from the human spirit and savvy.  Turn on the light!

Not taking a vacation this year?  Really?  I thought we were into it.

To discover those who have the best perspective about a job, you will find are the ones who often start at the bottom and learned from experience.  Good things rarely turn out well when starting at the top or even middle level.  That often finds a vacuum in understanding and reaching the goal you set for yourself.

A builder is one who sees an empty lot and envisions a work of achievement and beauty.

Pickles:  Oh, shoot!  I forgot my password again.  You forgot your password?  Nope, I never forget my password.  Oh, shoot! I never forget my password again IS MY PASSWORD SIGN-IN!!

Hagar:  You have fleas!  You have to get your dog out of the house immediately!  It’s too late.  The dog already caught them from me!

The General:   The new recruits are scheduled for a fly-over any minute now, sir.  Yes! Yes!  Here they come!  Darn–I missed getting my camera shot.  Quick!  Ask them to do another fly-over.

The Family Circle:   Boy. mommy!  This trip to a greenhouse is exciting.  It sure is!  But where do they grow artificial plants?


The Amateur Eye — Ruy Lopez Kicks Butt

June 21, 2017

Lately the Ruy Lopez has been under a cloud where many have turned to the Giuoco Piano to test the black waters.  The following game from the US Championship played between GM Yaroslav Zgerebukh and GM Fabiano Caruana features a many time defensive pattern called the Breyer variation.  In either case, the oft played Berlin Defense put on the shelf gives the reader the joy of this titanic struggle.  In the end, the spirit of the Ruy Lopez reemerges to show it’s fangs are not pulled.

l. e4  e5  2. Nf3  Nc6  3. Bb5  a6  4. Ba4  Nf6  5. O-O  Be7  6. Re1 b5  7. Bb3  d6  8. c3  O-O  9. h3  Nb8  This, the Breyer variation has a long rich history in the Ruy Lopez book.

10. d4  Nbd7  11. Nbd2  Bb7  12. Bc2  Re8  13. Nf1  Bf8 14. Ng3  g6  15. a4!  c5

The general opening strategies are now complete which often finds much duplication in carrying out the general plan for both sides.  For white the plan he chooses is to close the center by d5 and hindering the mobility of the b7 bishop.  He will play dynamic moves to create pawn structure weaknesses on the king-side.  Black has a more difficult task of being patient and for the time being try to blunt any infiltration, especially on the king-side.

16. d5  c4  17. Bg5!  h6  18. Be3  Nc5?!  Although likely a normal play, I doubt if it is in the style of Caruana where he tries too hard to be original.

19. Qd2  h5  20. Bg5  Bg7?!  Although natural enough to add some defense for the wing dark squares, much better was 20. …Be7.  If then, white tries 21. Ref1  Nh7  22. B:e7 Q:e7.

21. Rf1!  Interesting would be 21. Nh4! Qc7  22. Bh6  Bh8  23. f4 with heavy pressure on the king-side.  Probably individual style determines a lot of how strategy is weighed.

21. … Qc7  22. Bh6  Bh8  Persistence doesn’t always payoff in defining a mission. Black in such a position should not initiate an exchange.  Let the opponent do it.  So, a fair try is 22…Qe7 23. B:g7  K:g7 where there is always that famous word ‘hope’!

23. Ng5  Nh7  24. N:h7  K:h7  25. Be3  Qe7 26. f4!  Typically a star square count sortie!

26. … e:f4  27. B:f4  Kg8  28. Rf3  Bg7  29. Raf1  Nd7  30. Bh6 White’s square count has zoomed while Black has been stifled.

30. … B:h6  31. Q:h6  Qf8  32. Qd2  Ne5  33. Rf6  Rad8 34. Qg5 Qg7  35. Bd1!  Finding the most active diagonal for the Bishop.

35. … Bc8  36. Qh4  Kf8  37. Qf4  Qg8  38. Kh1  Re7  39. B:h5 b:a4 40. Bd1  Qg7 41. B:a4  Qh7 42. Qg5 a5  43. Kg1  Qh8 44. R1f4  Qg7  45. Rh4  Nd3  46. Rh6  Ne5  47. Rf4  Bd7  48. Qh4  Kg8  49. Q:e7 Re8  50. Qg5  B:a4  51. Rf6  Black  resigns.

A well deserved finish where multi-ideas were feasible along the way.


The Amateur Eye — Chessboard Magic

June 19, 2017

White:  IM Nazi Paikidze   vs.  Black:  WFM  Carissa Shirwen Yip   St. Louis, MO. WUSC  2017.

l. d4  d5  2. Nf3  Nf6  3. c4  e6  4. g3  d:c4  5. Bg2  This, the Catalan (EO4) variation has a long history of solid, well-defined play by both sides.  It has remained a drawback for the black forces to find a comfort zone in established play.

5. …c5  NP: One of the easiest ways to go astray is the idea of playing for a draw. This line of play makes one feel a burden slowly building.

6. O-O  Nc6  7. d:c5  Q:d1  8. R:d1  B:c5  9. Nbd2  c3  The idea here is to weaken the pawn structure by saddling white with two isolani.  However, the b-file offers a half-open file for the Rook effecting square count.

10. b:c3  O-O  11. Nb3  Be7  12. Bb2  Nd7  13. Nfd2  Nb6  14. a4  a5  15. c4! Rd8  16. c5

Proceeding on its merry way up the board.

16. … Nd5  17.  Nc4  Ndb4?!  It would seem more logical to play 17….Bd7, developing.

18. Nb6  Rb8  19. N:a5  B:c5  20. N:c6  Examine square count!!

20. … R:d1+  21. R:d1  N:c6  22. a5!!  f6  23. B:c6  B:b6  24. a:b6  a:b6 25. R:d8+  Kf7  26. Ba3  Ra8  27. R:c8!  Probably the easiest way to win but also very strong is 27. Bc5.

27. … R:c8  28. Bd6 Rd8  29. b7 R;d6  30. b7-b8/Q  Rd1+ 31. Kg2  Rc1 32. Qa7+ Kg8  33. Qe3 Rc2  34. Q:e6+  Kf8  35. Qe4  Black resigns.

Nazi’s opponent was 13-years old. Another youngster climbing the ladder of rating enrichment.


The Amateur Eye — Historic LM Burns

June 19, 2017

The famous Riverside Inn, located in Cambridge Springs, PA was destroyed by fire on May 2nd 2017.  The flames quickly engulfed the 132-year old Inn.  Firefighters managed to rescue all the guests and staff.  It leaves a hole in the historic setting.  It was in 1904 that the city held a great international chess tournament with many great players of the day competing where Frank James Marshall came first ahead of then world champion, Dr. Emmanuel Lasker.  The famous Cambridge Springs opening line springing from the Queen’s Gambit Declined variation was introduced.  Over many decades, the Riverside site hosted some great chess activity.  The U.S. Chess Championship was held in 1988.  Champion GM Larry Evans provided a lecture series featuring Lasker versus Napier from the 1904 event.

The Amateur Eye – Visions of Youth

June 16, 2017

The top rated female Canadian chess player 2008 – 2015 is Woman International Master (WIM) Yuanling Yuan, founder of Chess in the Library and co-founder of SubLite LLC.

“Chess is not a game for the faint-hearted.  It forces you to step outside of yourself, take risks and make sacrifices. But more, it requires a level of mental toughness that can endure losses and losing positions.  If there is one non-cognitive trait that chess has helped me develop over the years, it is GRIT!”

Webster University coached by GM Susan Polgar captures 7 President’s Cup titles for team competitions in a row.

The future of university chess is bright and becoming a member of a chess team is a great challenge in itself.  The growing list of schools and recruiting is becoming big business.  (An excellent report is given by Al Lawrence for Chess Life magazine 6/17 issue.

US Champions crowned!

The new US title goes to WGM Sabina-Francesca Foisor who edged out IM Nazi Paikidze in a tight and exciting Saint Louis tournament, home of the United States Chess Federation.  The champion gathered up seven victories and two draws and two losses for a total 8 points.  The former champion IM Nazi Paikidze had 5 wins, 4-draws. and 2-losses for 7 points.

Equally exciting was the men’s with GM Wesley So (7) and GM Onischuk (7) by a play-off won by Wesley So.

One of the best games from the team events was between GM Ray Robson (2751-Webster) and IM Pavlo Vorontsov (2629) – Texas Tech.

Scandinavian Defense

l. e4  d5  2. e:d5  Q:d5  3. Nc3  Qd6  4. d4 Nf6  5. Nf3  g6?!

While not bad it might rise a question of coming adventures.  Either …a6 or e6 is more often seen here.

6. Nb5  Qb6 7. Na3  Perhaps championed by S. Karjakin.

7. … c6  8. Nc4  Qd8  9. Nce5  Bfg7  10. Bc4  O-O  11. O-O  Nbd7  12. N:f7!!? R:f7  13. B:f7+ K:f7  14. Ng5+ Kg8  15. Ne6  Historically the idea of gaining a rook and pawn for two minor developed pieces should be flawed.  However, here with planting of this Knight into e6 and chasing the Queen leads to an dynamic position as well as an interesting one.  The square count is huge in white’s favor.  But we have to consider the historic idea that the attack yielding the minor pieces exchanged presents an unclear position, perhaps one of hoping for the best.

15. … Qb6  16. Qe2  Bh8  17. Re1 Qb5 18. Q:b5  c:b5  19. Nc7  Rb8  20. R:e7 Nb6  21. Bf4  Bd7  22. N:b5  Rc8  23. Nc3  R:c3  This move doesn’t fit into my square count theory which can be seen with 23. …Bc6.  All would be well by the text except the fact that white has those nasty looking endgame pawns.

24. b:c3  Nbd5  Perhaps relying on this Knight sortie but those little Indians have been set free to roam forward.

25. R:d7  N:d7 26. Bd2  N/7b6 27. Kf1!  Nc4  28. Ke2  b5  29.  a4  a5  30. a:b5  Kf7  31. Kd3  Nb2+  32. Ke4  Nf6+  33. Kf3  Nc4  34. b6!! Shades of Tony Miles.

Robson has long been known for shortcuts to cutting at the bone.

34. … N:d2+ 35. Ke2  Nd7  36. K:d2  N:b6  37. Kd3  a4  38. c4  Black resigns.

As a lesson, I chose this game as an illustration of Robson’s willingness to take risks or perhaps to challenge the historical belief that times change as to evaluation of a position. Certainly, as described at the beginning, it takes a show of “grit” to sometimes come out on top!