Saturday, April 28, 2007
Thursday, April 26, 2007
There is the impression that the ground-breaking Sofia Rules have made Mtel 05 & Mtel06 into paradigms of fighting chess. On May 9, 2007, the next installment of this tournament will begin in Sofia, Bulgaria. Under the Sofia Rules, a player cannot offer a draw to his opponent directly. Hey, that is progress already. If applied at our level, that proviso alone will eliminate repetitive draw offers by our opponents. The rules state that draw offers must be made through the tournament director who will study the position and come to a determination. If the TD does not see any semblance to a theoretical draw, he orders both players to play on. Are we looking at the future of chess here? Maybe, but not exactly!
Obviously, this arrangement will work best in small tournaments. Numerous TDs must be available if the Sofia Rules are applied in any of the big-money, huge-attendance tournaments like the World Open, Foxwoods, and so on. Maybe the Sofia rules were not truly meant for those kinds of tournaments. Maybe, they were meant for small, master tournaments where draws for convenience are more often seen. Yep, I am talking about those draws that disappoint both online and in-person spectators who expect blood from their gladiators. Those draws are more akin to an early cop-out than a gentlemen's agreement. No such thing in Tennis, Golf, Baseball, Football, Rugby, Cricket, and so on. Tie games are fighting games in their cases.
Anyway, why involve a third party in the process? Just to be critical, I think that involving a third party in the process can open a different can of worms with accusations of favoritism and incompetence. I think it is best to employ a system that runs on auto-pilot by threat of a low score. Somewhere in the worldwide web, I saw a suggestion that changing the scoring system will do the trick. Not a bad idea at all.
The idea is to change the scoring to three points for a win and one point for a draw. In effect, a draw will amount to a third of the whole pie. It's something to think about. For those of you who still prefer one point as our 100% standard, then perhaps a draw should be scored .25 of a point. For me, the grand daddy of them all is to not count the draws. Yep, one point for a win and no points for a draw. I think I like this last one the best. Who would want to play a standard 3-hr game for nothing? You have to do something! I, do, realize that the Sofia Rules were not meant to eliminate draws, but to encourage players to play aggressively. I guess the underlying theme is pretty obvious---to degrade a draw enough that players would avoid it.
Now, there's your auto-pilot system!
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
More than a month has passed since Round Four, and an email messaged went around saying that some participants---due to the long delay---might have availability problems. Our erstwhile president declared that the pairings will be mended to accommodate those who have a problem unless you are in contention for a prize. Those who are will have to play no matter what or they will be forfeited. Ah, it is not easy running a chess club! Anyway, I don't want to win my last round via forfeit because I will lose in the tiebreak. I have figured out the standings to mean that a draw secures me 2nd place if the other leader wins. There is a chance that I could win the tournament if I win my last round and the other leader loses to his opponent. If we both win, then we have a tie. Again, the strategy is simple as it always has been---win every game!
Monday, April 23, 2007
Friday, April 20, 2007
If you are like me, you already have several books on the middlegame. And, if you are really like me, then you have only gone partway and left a bookmark where you were last. That was sometime ago! Don't all chess addicts have an extensive collection of chessbooks and chess pieces? Well, it looks like I am also building a similar cache of chess DVDs in my study and Kasimdzhanov's work on the middlegame is the latest addition. Unlike chessbooks, chess DVDs are easier to finish. What is it all about?
The most important thing I can tell you is that this is not about the middlegame. If you are expecting lessons on open files and diagonals, backward pawns and weak squares, flank attacks and the 7th rank, you will be disappointed. As I went through episode after episode, a famous book came into mind. The book is Kotov's Think Like a Grandmaster. In essence, these two works are the same although Kotov dealt extensively with planning while Kasimdzhanov does not. This is not to say that Kasimdzhanov is at fault. It might have been Chessbase's decision to categorize this work as " middlegame. " For all we know, Kasimdzhanov had no other intention but to elucidate the thought processes in assessing a position. This work is about analysis, and not the middlegame per se.
Kasimdzhanov draws from his collection of games to exemplify what I call the birth of tactics. Tactics is the straw that stirs this drink. Once, there were no tactics, then there was! How did that happen? Well, that's what Kasimdzhanov does very well. He explores a certain line of analysis, shows you the sub-variations, picks up an attacking theme and employs it for a winning combination. Kasimdzhanov shows us that not all lines lay a golden egg, but almost all lines bear fruit. It's just a matter of recognizing and building on the nuances of a position by means of logical deduction. Is this ground-breaking work? No. However, you do learn that organizing your analysis is essential to finding your way through the maze of possibilities. Kasindzhanov's examples go from the relatively simple to the complex.
You might wonder about the clarity of speech especially if you have not heard the author speak. I wondered, too. You will appreciate Kasimdzhanov's clear delivery coupled with a coldly logical demeanor that is more akin to a mathematics professor than a grandmaster. His voice does break at times which I, frankly, found comical.
Forgive me but I cannot resist making a personal comment about Kasimdzhanov's sartorial taste. Could someone in his circle please tell the good grandmaster not to wear a printed jacket with a printed tie on a printed shirt! Amen.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Foxwoods Chess Open 2007
Well, I got to participate in my first Foxwoods Chess Open and I can't say anything bad about it. The people at Continental Chess always put on a well-run tournament. The entry fee for this one was $227 via credit card. It's very steep, but the advertised 1st prize for U1800 was $5,000. I dont think that this was the case in reality because Jennifer Shehade of Chess Life claimed that the first prize winner---a young lady name Ginsburg---received only $1,000 of the $4,000 pot because her rating in the latest rating supplement was significantly higher than 1800. I reckon that is part of the anti-sandbagging rules laid down by the organizers. That means that the runners up got more money! Hey, nevertheless, congrats to her who scored 6.5 points out of a possible seven.
As for yours truly, I scored a miserable two wins, two draws and two loses. I didnt stay for the last round since after my second loss ( Round 6 ) I knew I was just playing for pride. It's a 2.5 hour drive from Bergen County, New Jersey each way if the Cross Bronx Expressway doesnt cost you an hour in traffic by itself. The CBE must be the most miserable highway in NYC. Heck, I almost got killed on it in the early 1980s.
Back to the tournament, the playing hall was actually the grand ballroom of the Grand Pequat Tower. It is on the same level as the gambling rooms but none of the noise seeped into the playing hall. Food was expensive. Figure around $10-$12 for an entree that would normally cost $6-$7 outside. I know, I know, it's a casino! Buffet breakfast at the Two Trees Inn was $12. That's where I had a room and it is serviced by a 24-hr shuttle bus. Really, it's not a long walk to the casinos. As advertised, it takes only a 15-min walk, and I think that is about right. The inn has gotten some bad reviews at Tripadvisor.Com, but I disagree with them. I slept in a clean room and the shuttle bus didnt keep me up nor wake me from my sleep. The walls could be thicker though since I could hear people talk or cough in the adjacent rooms.
Funny, at one time during play, I heard a cat meowing. It was fairly distinct and players started looking around. I swear it was a cat, and not a prankster. Perhaps, an onlooker carried a cat in a travel bag. The meowing brought some momentary relief from that heavy, stressful ambiance that pervades the competition hall. Another light moment in the tournament occurred when the serenity of the playing hall was broken by a very young person's, " check, check! " We had a good laugh at his youthful intensity!
Don't you hate it when someone bangs the pieces on the board? This dude with dark glasses, arms folded, and a smug look on his face tried to intimidate his opponent with this kind of behaviour. Sure, he had a winning position but no need for such antics especially if your opponent is a bespectacled, studious-looking, 8-yr old Asian kid! What an ass.
I didnt really care much for the big name players who competed in the Open section. They seem to be the same people who compete in every big-money tournament. I tell ya, I bet most of them don't have a life! Going from one chess open to another isn't exactly being out there living your life. Anyway, this young boy named Robson slugged it out with the best. He's an FM, and someday he will have his name in lights. I think his mom is Asian and his dad is Caucasian---good combination.
I was observing IM Dave Pruess play against an FM in a bishop and pawn ending, and Mr. Pruess did not seem to take too much time thinking over his moves. It seemed like he knew exactly how to play the ending. I guess he's a gifted player and a future GM. I saw GM Anatole Lein lose to an unknown. He's moved on in years. I think he has lost much of his chess prowess, but he continues to compete which by itself is very commendable.
In one game, the clock used had both analog and digital time that did not agree and the player in time trouble called the tournament director for his judgment. Obviously, the discrepancy in time didnt become a factor until a blitzing finale loomed on the horizon. The TD decided that the players use the digital read out over the analog. The difference in time was two minutes.
There was this guy on the shuttle bus who sat next to me saturday night, after four rounds of play in the 3-day schedule, who proceeded to tell me about his game where he employed the center counter as black. He recalled all the moves of the game. The strangest thing about him is that for all his precise recollection of the game he didnt recognize that I was his opponent! I just kept quiet, and enjoyed the moment.
Of course, the Filipino players naturally gravitated towards each other. I met people there who I haven't seen in years. I reckon they have been competing regularly while I was on break. After every round, we'd circle around and lick our wounds and tell our respective war stories. Great thing about us is that we treat each like brothers even if we were just introduced. Just don't break that trust!I dont' know if it is true that one guy went from his round to an all-night poker game, got two hours sleep, and then played his next round for a win. Jeez!
Saturday, April 14, 2007
Sunday, April 08, 2007
Here's a position from the first round: my opponent tried to avoid the discovered attack from the capture of the d pawn by black's c pawn by 20. qb3. At first glance, the mistake isnt obvious but after 20... qb3 21.nb3 rb8 22. nfd2 black won a piece with 22...c4