Thursday, May 31, 2007

Gm 4
Gurevich -

With this victory, Leko wins the match against Gurevich by a score of 3.5 - .5. This is actually the final position at move 40... Ne7. I reckon from a Grandmaster's point of view, White is clearly lost. The intriguing question is, why? Well, no doubt, it has something to do with the weak b4 pawn that the bishop must defend while Black tries to promote the E pawn. The positioning of the kings is very important. Play would have continued with 41. Be3 Nd5 42. Bc5 Ke6 ( the important square f5 was twice protected in the last moves ) 43. h4 e4 44. Bf8 g6 45. Bc5 Ke5 and Black is on his way to winning. If instead 43. Kg5, then 43... e4 cuts off the king who will doubleback with 44. Kg4. Then, 44... Ke5. Black will ultimately produce a win either by promoting the pawn or mopping up white's queenside pawns after exchanges.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Gm 3


Ponomariov -

White had a drawn position earlier in the game, but Ponomariov pressed on for a win. What usually happens when a player forces a win out of a drawn position you already know! In positions like the one above, it is the incessant checking from the defending queen that has to stop. It is through those annoying checks, mobility in another sense, that the opponent drums up some counterplay. Rublevsky tried a neat maneuver with 91... Qf3+. If 92. Kh4, then 92... Qg3+ 93. Kh5 Qh3+ and the queens are exchanged. The F pawn promotes. So, 92. Kh6 Qg2 forces Ponomariov to vacate the f1 square and there are no tempo-gaining checks in sight. 0-1

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Gm 3
- Bacrot
After three games, the Frenchman isn't doing very well against the American. The match score stands at 2.5 - .5 in favor of Kamsky. Maybe after the one-day break, Bacrot will come around with some winning chances. Anyway, here we are at move 33 where White was pushing a pair of connected pawns on the 5th rank. Kamsky, on the 20th move, won a pawn on b5. As we can see from this position, that gain of a single pawn proved to be the root of his victory. From the position above, play continued with 33. d6. Not taking the pawn and relying on the pin on the white rook on d3 will not bear fruit because White will just continue with 34. dc. So, after, the Kamsky pushed 34. c6 threatening to march this pawn all the way to c8. Kamsky has made Bacrot's life terribly difficult! Finally, 34... d5 to protect the c7 square but after 35. Ra7+ Kh6 36. c7 Bacrot resigned since he had to give up his bishop for the pawn.

Gm 3
- Aronian
I have to return this match again, and likely more times ahead, because this is the match-up that pits two players who could go all the way to the world championship itself if they were not paired at this early stage. Carlsen evens the score with this fine rook and pawn ending. Aronian's pawn majority on the queenside did not get enough time to bear fruit as Carlsen pressed him on the kingside. Aronian had just played 38... Kh8-Kg8, and Carlsen marched on with 39. h7+ Kh8 40. g5! Help is on the way 40... fg 41. f6 and the Black king was overwhelmed. 1-0

Monday, May 28, 2007

Gm 1

Carlsen -

Chessbase was praising a rook sacrifice by Aronian on move 26, but it wasn't accepted anyway. Don't get me wrong. It was a great move, a move that is surprising even at the GM level. Here is where, I feel, Carlsen's position came apart. You can already hear it creak, timbers at their maximum tolerance, just a little nudge will make the ship keel over. Carlsen moved 34. Ra2. He's the one making defensive moves while Aronian was turning the screw. Now, Aronian hits the weak E pawn with 34... Ra4. It can't be defended by the F pawn, and so Carlsen had to move his already stretched resources over to defend it with 35. Re2. Aronian, of course, pushed through with 35... Ra3 36. Qd1 Ra8 to defend against any counterplay on the eight rank. 0-1.
Gm 2
- Polgar
Earlier, Polgar sac a knight to get a pawn majority on the kingside, and started pushing her G and H pawns. Bareev's rook had to hurry back from the queenside to catch the H pawn in time. Here we are at 61. Bc6, kicking the rook from the g2 square. Isn't that a waste of tempo? Well, not in this case where Bareev could already see that his lone bishop can hold off a phalanx of pawns for as long as they are along the same diagonal. There's one endgame tip for you! Anyway, 61... Re2 was played. Take note that there is no way for Black to attack the passed A pawn from behind while maintaining influence along the second rank because the King and B pawn are blocking the way. Play continued 62. a6 Re7 63. Ra1 ( threatening to push) Ra7 ( blocking). The advance of both the G and H pawns are held in check by the bishop. Bareev put the topper on his Christmas tree by playing 64. Bg2, permanently blockading Black's kingside pawn. The lone bishop can hold all of them off! If the black King approached, the white king would go east to meet him in time, providing support to the bishop. In the meantime, Black's rook cannot stop the pawnroller of the A and B pawns supported by the rook. Polgar resigned.

Friday, May 25, 2007

NYS Open 2007

Lake George

Let me burden you guys with yet another endgame study! This position would be a winning for Black if not for the passed H pawn. There's always something there to spoil the fun, isn't it? This was actually my last round, and it is bitter-sweet for me. Bitter because I played 60... Kd5? Okay, so I am an idiot. I was careless and whipped it out in the most impatient way. I paid for it. I lost a drawn position. Drawn? How? Here's the sweet part. A few moves earlier, I noticed that some elements of a drawn position are present. They are (a) white cannot mate with a king and a knight (b) What about his passed H pawn? Well, I will give up my rook for it (c) How about his other pawns? I will move up my king and consume them while White is busy trying to promote his H pawn (d) White's effort to disentangle himself from the corner, and get cover from my rook will buy me some time (e) Without White's B and D pawns, White can only hope for a draw! Okay, let's pretend I wasn't an idiot. The play would have continued 60... Kb5 61. Ng7 Rd2, eyeing not only the D pawn but also the D8 square 62. Kg8 Rd3 63. h8 (Q) Rd8 64. Kh7 Rh8 65. Kh8 a5. Black is no longer losing. Now, can Black win? White draws with correct play.
Candidates Matches 2007 Elista

Aside from the Chicago Open, this weekend's big event is the 16-player Candidate Matches to be held at Elista, hometown of FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. The first round will be on Sunday, May 27th. Out of this group of sixteen, four will move on to Mexico for the World Chess Championships. That's going to be held from September 11 to October 1, 2007. In Mexico, these four players will be joined by WC Kramnik, V. Anand, A. Morozevich, and P. Svidler who qualified from the previous World Chess Championship.

The sixteen players are : Levon Aronian (ARM), Peter Leko (HUN), Ruslan Ponomariov (UKR), Boris Gelfand (ISR), Etienne Bacrot (FRA), Alexander Grischuk (RUS), Judith Polgar (HUN), Alexei Shirov (ESP), Michael Adams (ENG), Evgeny Bareev (RUS), Vladimir Malakhov (RUS), Gata Kamsky (USA), Rustam Kasimjanov (UZB), Sergei Rublevsky (RUS), Mikhail Gurevich (TUR), Magnus Carlsen (NOR). I will be perusing the games, and presenting the big moments here on this blog. Aren't you excited?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

NYS Open
Lake George
I could not have made this up. I have seen an endgame study somewhere and sometime ago that utilized the same technique I was about to employ. Here I was in Round Two, fighting for a draw after exchanging off the pawns on the queenside. It's easier for the defending side to have the action on one side of the board only. My opponent took his rook from d4 to 54... Rc4. Can you see it now? My last move was 54. Re3, setting up the strike. I tell you what, I am not going to even tell you what happened next. You figure it out!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

U.S. Champs.
Shabalov - Kudrin
This is Round Nine, and the final round. Shabalov was tied with Onischuk for first place. Onischuk drew his game while Shabalov won this one to become the 2007 champion. Black moved his queen from b3 to 43... Qg3, attacking the rook. I think that Kudrin lost this game earlier in the game, but here is how it ended. Shabalov replied with 44. Re4 and Kudrin resigned. Black has no checks. There is the threatened double-attack on g4. Even if the Black queen moved away, 45. Rg4 will corral the Black king in the corner with the White queen assisting in the mate.

IM Pruess - WFM Zenyuk
White has gained the upperhand by the time he played 26. Nd4. This move came at the heels of a checking maneuver by White on d7, trying to force the Black king into the corner for a possible queen sac on d8 for the mate. No cigar. In light of this, one would expect Black to consider a loophole at a7. However, WFM Zenyuk went for 26... Qe2? What? Am I missing something here? Isn't that ... ? I think IM Pruess went for it like a tiger for a wounded gazelle! WFM Zenyuk resigned on the next move. Now, how come my much lesser-rated opponents never get into such gift-giving? I guess better players have better luck.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Sevillano - Mulyar
My friend, Enrico, is not doing very well in the standings, but here is the penultimate position in his Round Seven game against IM Mulyar. Earlier, black sacrificed a piece for a chance to attack the white king via pawnbreak supported by the queen and rook along the C file. Well, it didn't work as planned. Here we are at move 30 when Sevillano played 30. Qe8! This sacrifice might have caught his opponent by surprise. Black will lose a piece if he plays 30... Re8 31. Nc6+. Black can instead play 30...Qb4, but after 31. Qb5+ simplification makes White's win easier. BTW, Black resigned after Sevillano took the bishop.
Finally, as you can see, I am trying a colored board on this blog. Maybe, it looks a bit better!

New York State Open 2007
Lake George, NY
The scenic beauty of this area makes tournament life a bit less stressful. Between rounds, when time allowed it, I jumped into my car and explored neighboring towns. There are lots of places to eat, and one can drive down to the very edge of the lake and just admire its beauty. It was a 3-hour drive from Bergen County, NJ with minimal traffic although the I-87 can get bogged down at the toll gates.
Anyway, here is the final position of my first game. My opponent, playing white, suggested a draw but I thought for a while before accepting his offer. White has just played 49. Ke3, and I naturally looked into going for the c4 square and/or going east towards the pawns on the g and h files. The computer gave this position an = sign, so I felt much better about my decision. If 49... Kc4, then 50. Kd2 Kb3 51. Kd3 Kb2 52. c4 bc+ 53. Kc4 and black will lose. Black has to go 49... Ke5 50. Kf3 Kf5 51. Kf2 Kg4 52. Kg2...

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Off to the races!

Well, actually, it's the New York State Open chess tournament at Lake George. I have never attended this event, and maybe it is time. Hey, while I am 50-yrs young! The time control will be a very easy G/150, lotsa time really. Over the years, I've gotten the impression that this tournament has low attendance. I could be wrong, and I will surely see for myself. First round will be at 7pm Friday. It would also be the first time my wife is coming along. No, she's not a chessplayer but she loves antiques and shopping. I think there is enough up there to keep her busy for saturday and sunday. Warrensburg, a town approximately 5-mins away by car, is known as the antiques capital of the Adirondacks. That kinda energized her interest plus there is a town-wide sale at Athol, another few minutes from Warrensburg. This town-wide sale boasts of 100 sellers. Ok, you will find a lot of junk in garage sales but it is the hunt for that item that rings your bell that matters. Then, there are the clothing outlets. Actually, Lake George is not a bad area to hold a tournament for married people! I play while she shops.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Mtel 2007

Rd. 6

Looking over this game, it struck me as a surprisingly easy way to win the exchange from GM Adams. Surely, I must be missing something. Anyway, here we are after GM Sasikiran's 18. Nc5. Adams opted to play his knight to 18... Nd5. I think with this move Adams placed himself in a no-win situation. Fritz4 suggested 18... Bc5 19. dc Nd7. Play continued with 19. Na6 Nc3. Now, isn't this asking for trouble? It is quite obvious that white can capture on c4 and then both rook and knight will be under attack. Sasikiran went on with 20. Qc4 Nb5 and then finally the rook fell with 21. Nb8. We have to consider the continuation 19... Rb6, attacking the knight. But, after 20. Qc4 Nc3, white can go ahead and capture the knight with 21. Qc3 and the knight on a6 is defended by the bishop on f1.

Monday, May 14, 2007

15th Annual New York State Open
May 18 - 20th

Continental Chess is coming up with its next tournament, and that would be the 15th New York State Open 2007. This one is located in the scenic Lake George area in upstate New York. The venue will be the Howard Johnson Tiki Resort, right at the southern tip of Lake George. I estimate it to be a 3.5-hour drive from the New York City area. I don't consider it one of the big-money chess tournaments, but still $3,000 guaranteed prizes. Sections are Open, Under1900, and Under1600. Registration fee cost $66 online and rooms go for $79 per night. Heck, I might see you there!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Rd 3
This was just an absolutely brilliant game where initiave, constant pressure, and an early queen outing make up the main ingredients. Mamedyarov, who played White, won in thirty moves. Topalov lost the initiative early in the game, and never regained it. Try playing over the game if you have the time. Here is a big moment when Mamedyarov played 28. Rf3-Rd3, a double-attack on the black queen and bishop. Topalov might have been ready for it. If he was, then he allowed his queen to be seriously misplaced after the following combination: 28... Bh2+ 29. Kh2 Qf1 and finally 30. Rd7. Black resigned since the white queen's entry via e6 or g6 cannot be prevented by the black queen or the rook on h8. Mate will follow soon.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Don't you hate it when you have some of your pieces crammed together, and you can't seem to get them over to where the action is? It's like pulling teeth. Look at my bishop and knight on h4 and g3. They seem miles away from assisting in an attack against the black king. If Rg6 ever occurs, then I would be in an awful pin. With time running out, one has to go by intuition. I think it was V. Anand who said that intuition is the first move you think of. Well, I had to go in with 31. Qc7+. Black had options like 31... Qb7 32. Rc5 and White wins a piece, or 31... Nb7 32. Qb6+ Kb8 33. Bd8 and White is winning. Black, however, played 31... Ka8. Play continued with 32. Qc8+ Ka7, and now finally some help from the bishop with 33. Bd8! This move was not easy to find in a time scramble. Unfortunately for Black, he did not see the main threat of the bishop on d8. With pieces in awkward squares, the position seemed complex if not unclear.
Black played 33... Bd6? to which the coup de grace 34. Bb6# followed swiftly.

Friday, May 11, 2007


Rd 1

Nisipeanu - Kamsky

Today's game was an exciting draw spurned on, perhaps, by the Sofia Rules. I would hazard to suggest that without the Sofia Rules these GMs would have agreed to a draw earlier in what obviously looks like a rook and pawn endgame with an equal number of pawns. Here's the position just before it turned into a draw by repetition. It's white's move after black's 42...Rc1-c4. At this point, you can already envisioned the box in which the white king is corralled by the rook on e4. This is the box that needed to be broken for white to avoid a perpetual check. However, Nisipeanu played 43. rc7, adding pressure on f7 but keeping the box untouched. Any rook move to cover the A, B, or D files would have provided some cover for the white king. Time pressure must be culprit. Kamsky secured a draw by 43... Rcd4+, and the perpetual check is on for as long as black does not move the rook on e4. Fritz recommened 43. rd6.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Support for GM Nigel Short

The cavalry comes to the rescue for GM Nigel Short. The English Chess Federation, much to its credit, will not let any FIDE big shots trample all over one of its most valued members. The message to FIDE is clear. GM Short is not alone in this fight. The ECF sent a letter to FIDE that asked, " Even in the event, that the complaint against GM Short is withdrawn, we reserve the right to ask the Commission to investigate the conduct of Messrs Azmayparashvili and Makropoulos. " The ECF also stated, in reference to GM Short's comments, that " it believes that they were a legitimate response to a series of mistakes and missed opportunities made during the above events which have impacted disastrously on the worldwide image of chess, and made the important work of this federation much more difficult." I love this stuff. Azmayparashvili and Makropoulos will be disappointed. They will not be able to lord it over GM Short as easily as they thought.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

FIDE versus GM Short

So, FIDE has decided to haul GM Nigel Short in front of an ethics committee to answer charges of libel against GM Azmaiparashvili and Makropoulos, Fide Deputy President and Vice President respectively. Evidently, Short, during his coverage of the tournament at San Luis, declared that " "The Fide Deputy President + Vice President spent more time at the hotel 16 km away despite being paid 1000s of dollars plus considerable expenses to do their job on the Appeals Committee. It came as absolutely no surprise to me that these dumbheads would flunk the first crisis they were presented with (Elista). I might add that Azmai is singularly inappropriate for such work having by his own admission cheated to win the 2003 European Championship." Wow! Those are fighting words but I like people who have strong opinions. According to Short, " "I have nothing to retract and I look forward to humiliating them in any hearing or court." Great stuff! This should be very interesting. More to come...

Monday, May 07, 2007

Bergen County Closed 2007
Final Round

Finally, the last round of the Bergen County Closed at the Dumont Chess Mates became a reality, after a month of delay due to good reasons. In four rounds, I have not lost a game and a draw would secure me undisputed second place. Here I was on move 31 in a position that is not too bad for black ( me). I considered white's E and D pawns as weak, and I could get a pawnroller going on the queenside. For some inexplicable reason, instead of just waiting for white to advance his kingside pawn and create a blockade, I choose to play 31... g5? I can't explain it except that a knight on g5 adds to the defense of f7. This was a colossal blunder. It was like opening the front door to the wolves! So, after 32. hg Ng5 33. Rh1, you can already see that wolf is at the door. There is no hope in 33... Nf3 34. Rh6 Nh4+ Rh4. Of course, I lost this most important game. Incidentally, my co-leader drew his game and so for a while all I had to do was to win this game to win the tournament. The table was set for me, and I faltered. There is definitely pain involved in Chess! I presumed that I have been relegated to third place but maybe not. Checking the standings, I see that I am still listed as second place. I will find out tonight at the awards ceremony what the true standings are. The only reason I can think of that will put me ahead of my last round opponent---who tied with me with 3.5 / 5---is that two of my wins were against 3-pointers while two of his wins were against 1.5-pointers.

Friday, May 04, 2007

There's Kasparov and then there is mediocrity...

Time Magazine has announced its list of the 100 most influential people of our present time. Gary Kasparov made it to the list. Obviously, Kasparov's political efforts in Russia got people's attention. His group, The Other Russia, a coalition of those opposed to the rule of President Vladimir Putin, has become his vehicle for change although Kasparov stressed that he is not the leader but only the moderator. Well, that's all very commendable really. However, how seriously should we take this list? When it is put in terms of " the most influential " people, one would naturally consider the extent by which their work impacts our lives. I am very skeptical when it comes to " lists " of this and that. Okay, perhaps in Kasparov's case, if political and social change occurs in Russia through the efforts of The Other Russia, those changes could impact our lives in the long run since Russia is a player in global politics. This distinction is less clear when it comes to other people on the list like Maher Arar. He is a Syrian-born Canadian arrested in the USA under suspicion of terrorism, and sent to Syria for interrogation. Syrians insisted that Arar was never tortured there. The write-up for Arar in Time Magazine pointed to our ( USA ) willingness to compromise our sacred principles of liberty and freedom for the sake of national security. If you ask me, this is all liberal crap. Anyway, given that Arar's story is sad, how was he judged as one of the 100 most influential people of our time? Is being a victim enough, or does one have to have a body of influential work to make the list? Going through the list, I am more inclined to consider idolatry, hero-worship, and plain old stylishness as the criteria rather than the good effect that a certain person's work has on our lives. Now, to drive my point home, here are several more people on the list: Brad Pitt, Justin Timberlake, Rosie O' Donnell, and Tyra Banks. Lord have Mercy!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

They're Coming Home!
Just a reminder from your friendly chess blogger. Two connected pawns on the 6th rank will win against a lone rook for as long as the defending King cannot help. Here's an example: 1. c7 kf3 2. Ke1 ke3 3. kd1 rc4 4. b7 and it's all over. You may also placed the rook on the any square on the 6th rank, and the result is the same.