Saturday, June 30, 2007

Could you please say that again for me?

The World Open 07 in Pennsylvania has commenced, and its website lists the participants plus their photos. Well, that's fine and dandy but try pronouncing some of the names in the tournament. Let's take a look at the women competitors in their respective title groups:

WGMs Dronavalli Harika, Ghate Swathi, Subbaraman Meenakshi, Subbarawan Vijayalakshmi and finally Nisha Mohota.

WIM Tsagaa Battsetseg

WFMs Alisa Melekhina, Batchimeg Tuvshintugs, Chouchanik Airapetian and finally Tatev Abrahamyam

Okay, who's your favorite and could you spell it, please?

Peng Zhaoqin wins Women's Dutch Championships

This trans-cultural lady has won the women's section of the Dutch Championships for eight consecutive times. This year, she earned a two-point lead over the second placer and managed to avoid losing a single game. Out of nine rounds, Peng scored two draws and seven wins. Who is this lady?

First of all, being of Chinese origin, Peng is actually the surname and not Zhaoqin. She was born in China in 1968 and played for the Chinese team in the 1980s. She left China in 1996. Started playing chess at twelve, Peng earned her full Grandmaster's title in October, 2004. Her present ELO rating is 2439 ( April, 2007). She is married to a Dutchman and they have one child as of this time. Peng is number twenty-eight in the FIDE Top 50 Women chessplayers (2007).

More power to you, Zhaoqin!

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Almost made it...

I picked this up from the web with the question, can black draw? The webmaster of the Philippine Chess Chronicles, Francis Buenaventura, playing black, figured out what could be the best idea in this position, stalemate. So, he played the very clever 1...Rc4+. But, is it enough? Play continued with 2. Kd2 Rc2+ 3. Ke3 and the white king ultimately found shelter behind his C and D pawns. However, 2...Rc2+ was not what the doctor ordered in this position. That move let's the cat out of the bag.

Let's take the advice of Capablanca when he urged players to think in schemes in the endgame and not get tangled up in analysis.

First, let's recognize that the white king is completely exposed to checks below the fourth rank. Therefore, it is imperative that the king is not allowed to escape by giving up the demarcation line on the fourth rank created by the rook. The rook must corral the white king below the fourth rank or lower. You can already visualize the continuous checks by the rook along the fourth rank. If the rook takes the A pawn with a check and the king recaptures, it would be a stalemate. However, if the king does not recapture, black has just created a free square on b5, and the stalemate is no longer possible. The problem with black's idea is that there is a hole on h4 from which the rook cannot give a check. The queen controls that square. Because of this, black cannot draw this position. The white king heads for the h4 square to in order to cross the border.

Ok, now, let's see it in action with some simple analysis: 1... Rc4+ 2. Kd3 Rd4+ 3. Ke3 . Re4+ 4. Kf3 Rg4+ 5.Kh3 and there you have it. Black has a problem. If black plays 5...Rg3+ , then 6. Kh4 Rg4+ 7. Kh5 and there is no check on g5 (queen). Black has to move, and then white gets 8. Qc8+ in, game over.

One final note, I think if the rook was on the third rank and the king on the second, then black's perpetual checks will draw. There, I hope that I have not strayed too far from Capablanca's dictum.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Dr. Susan Polgar

Well, it's Christmas in June for Susan Polgar. Texas Tech stuffed her stocking with all sorts of goodies. They included a University Medal, a coaching job for the Knight Raiders chess team, the Director's position for a chess institute named after her ( The Susan Polgar Institute of Chess Excellence a.k.a. SPICE ), commencement speaker for the graduating class of 2007, and finally the big daddy of them all, an Honorary doctoral degree of Human Letters. Even her new husband, Paul Truong, got into the binge as business manager for the institute. These two are swinging it, aren't they?

Maybe, this is all good for chess. Maybe, this is how chess becomes more mainstreamed. This is how chess is aggrandized so that in the future it can be profitable to be a great chessplayer. It certainly IS profitable now for Susan Polgar.

With all these goodies on her lap plus all that she had built for herself, I wonder if she would have the time to attend to the business of the U.S. Chess Federation if elected to its executive board. I don't know. I just don't like seeing someone with too much on her plate and about to order more just because it's on the menu.




Paul
Morphy
House

Here are two photos of the house where Morphy lived and died. His father bought this house in 1841 at an auction when Paul was only four years old. The previous owner, Martin Gordon, prominent Virgina gentleman, had run into financial difficulties and the property had to be sold by the bank. Gordon purchased the property in 1820, and it is said that Andrew Jackson was a frequent visitor here. Because of Gordon's hospitality, Andrew Jackson appointed him to a high post after he was elected President of the United States. Going back further in time, this lot of 65 X 120 feet was bought by Don Vicente Rillieux in 1795, and the present structure dates back to that year. There have been other structures on the lot before 1795 but fire destroyed them.

We all know that Paul Morphy died here in 1884 from " brain congestion. " There are theories about the true cause of death based on our modern medical knowledge. Doing the math, it seems that this house was Morphy's primary residence for forty-three years. In 1891, Morphy's brothers and sisters sold the mansion. By 1920, the former owner bequeathed the property to Tulane University who rented it out to several business establishments. In 1954, the Brennan family took over and completely renovated the interiors to turn it into their now world-famous restaurant. A fire severely damaged the property in 1975, and it was again restored to its present condition.

I did not bother taking any photos of the interiors since most of it Paul Morphy himself would not recognize. If you would like to see it anyway, here is a link to Brennan's Restaurant: http://www.brennansneworleans.com/onlinetour.html

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Turneul
Regilor
07
Sokolov -
Mecking
First of all, it is nice to see Henrique Mecking of Brazil playing again. Over the course of many years, his career has been on and off due to illness. I remember in the 1970s he was a major force in chess.
Here, it looks like white has a strong attack in compensation for being a piece down. Mecking, however, was able to achieve a " lockdown " in the h8 corner and simplification into a winning endgame. Sokolov went for the attack with 37. Qh7+ Kf8 38. Qh8+ Ng8 39. Bh7. It looks very desperate for black, but Mecking held on wtih 39...f5 40. ef6 Qd7 and white resigned. Notice that the white queen is trapped in the corner and simplification is imminent. Say, 41. fg7+ Qg7 42. Qg7+ Kg7 43. Bb1 Nf6 44. f5 Bc4 45. g4 Ne4 and the knight cannot be captured. Black is winning.

Friday, June 22, 2007



Paul
Morphy
Birth
place

Paul Morphy was born in this house on June 22, 1837. It is located on the north side of Chartres Street, just West of Barracks Street. In today's French Quarter, that means it is on the quiet side of town, southeast, a few blocks from the river. This house was built by Morphy's grandfather. You're looking towards the east from this angle.


Obviously, this is the facade of the house. Notice that it is not at street level. The white plaque on the railing declares that the Confederate General Beauregard once lived here beginning 1866. That's after the American civil war.


This is the plaque on the wall you see from the last photo. If you can't read it, here it is: Le-Carpentier Beauregard House, Erected 1826,By Joseph Le Carpentier Auctioneer, ( Grandfather of Paul Morphy World's Chess Champion ), Francois Correjolles Architect, James Lambert Builder, Sold in 1833 to John A. Merle, who built the adjacent garden, which existed until 1865 and was restored in 1954 by the Keyes Foundation, Residence of General P.G.T. Beauregard C.S.A. 1866 - 1868.


Here's a view of the house, looking west. By the way, if you want to see the interior, there are scheduled tours. However, at this time, all tours are off, or unpredictable, due to post-Katrina problems. Most of the French Quarter did not go under water during Katrina due to its high elevation, higher than the area around it. However, much of the French Quarter's labor force have lost their housing ( they live outside the quarter ) and as a result businesses and services in this area have suffered. For my next post, I will show you the house where Paul Morphy lived and died.

Photos copyrighted 2007 A. Teodoro

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Vladimir Kramnik in Trouble

Medical trouble, that is. Our world champion is down with a serious case of upper respiratory infection with fever. His case is so severe that his participation in Dortmund is in question. Dortmund begins on Sunday, the 24th. This medical condition is not the same problem that caused him to drop out of Wijk ann Zee in 2006. Let's hope for his swift recovery!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Aerosvit
07
Foros
Ukraine

Dominguez -
Shirov

Dominguez was two pawns up but down a rook for a bishop. Shirov needed to play actively to have any winning chances before Dominguez's queenside pawn majority became a very serious problem. Here, Shirov played 42...Re4, taking advantage of a whole on e4. Play continued 43. Qc5 Re5 44. Qd4 f5. The breakthrough. Here, Dominguez went for 45. ef. If instead 45. gf, then 45...Qh4 46. Ra2 Qe1+ 47. Kg2 Rh5 48. Kf3 Qf1+ 49. Ke4 Re8+ 50. Qe5 and black has a wonderful game. There is also 45. Bd1. Then, 45... fg3 46. Qg4 Qf6 ( threatening mate on f1 ) 47. Qf4 Rf5 48. Kg2 Qb2+ 49. Kg3 Rf4 and black is in good shape. Back to the game, Shirov moved 45... Re1+ 46. Kg2 Qe8 47. Bd1 Qh5 and it is too late for white [ diagram 2 ].


If Dominguez responded with 48. Bg4, then 48...Qh1 49. Kf2 Qf1 mate

Monday, June 18, 2007


Aerosvit
07
Ukraine



Dominguez
-
Van
Wely


The Aerosvit Intl. Chess Tournament 2007 is under way with the first round victories by Shirov and the Cuban Lenier Dominguez. All eleven rounds will run from June 18 to June 29 at Foros Crimea in the Ukraine. Here is Dominguez's win over Loek van Wely at move 30...f5? The question mark is mine in light of what happened next. It all seems simple when you are in post-mortem analysis, but it ain't so when you're in the hot seat in real time. Don't we all know that! Dominguez struck with 31. Rd4! cd4 32. Qd4 and Van Wely resigned. The white rook's imminent entry unto the 7th rank is the killer. Diagram 2.


Here's why: 32...Raa8 33. Re7 Qe5 ( a desperate attempt to stop mate on g7 ) 34. Qe5 Kf8 35. Qg7 mate anyway. What if Van Wely went for 32...Qb6, then 33. Re8+ Kf7 34. Qd5+ Qe6 35. Re6 Re6 36. Bf1 Ke7 37. Qc5+ Kd7 38. Bb5+ Rc6 39. Qc6+ Ke7 40. Qf6 mate. Finally, if 32...Rd7, then 33. Re8+ Kf7 34. Qd7 mate. A wonderful tactical strike by Dominguez!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A visit to the Houston Chess Club

When I arrived at the club for a Saturday G/60 three-rounder, the club's resident master, Larry Englebretson, was finishing up at the demonstration board in front of a group of six club members. A complete stranger, I walked in, took a seat, and listened to him analyze a game between Howard Staunton and Daniel Harrwitz ca. 1851. Great. Harrwitz was a good player but relatively unknown and everyone knows Howard Staunton for the wrong reason---he avoided a match with Paul Morphy. As Mr. Englebretson pointed out, Staunton played very well even by today's standards. I was surprised to hear him suggest that for the average club player aspiring to become a better player, he/she should devote more time to studying the games of these early masters instead of today's modern and theory-laden games. I agree. I think that the games between Morphy's time up to the time of Alekhine, Capablanca, and Lasker are still " understandable chess " ( my term ) and will bear more fruit for the average player than today's abstruse grandmaster games. I have always believed in this idea, and I was pleased to hear it from another.

The club is located at 9000 Southwestern Highway otherwise known as Route 59. The address is situated at the corner of Commerce Way and the service road for Rt. 59 South. Don't look for a stand-alone structure with the words " Houston Chess Club " emblazoned above the front door. It's not that kind of place. The HCC operates from a one-room area inside the Bridge & Games Studio. Much of the office space is set up for bridge and the last door on the right is the chess club.

The club holds two tournaments in the weekends, and one night of instructional chess ( lecture) during the week for club members only. The G/60 is on Saturdays and the G/45 is on Sundays. There were eleven of us, including the TD Mark Dixon, for today's tournament. I must admit that I was expecting a larger place and more players, but I guess the Marshall Chess Club and the now defunct Manhattan Chess Club are exceptions rather than the rule. There, crowds are the norm. The room measures roughly 20 x 20 feet with approximately seven chess tables plus the TD's desk. Chess books line the far wall and a side door gives you an idea of the weather outside. There are refreshments in the main area. On this day, a bridge players came en masse for a tournament and they definitely outnumbered the chessplayers. There must have been a hundred bridge players, four to each table. Again, one wonders why other sports or games attract more people than chess. Is bridge more popular than chess?

Anyway, the chess tournament was well run. I found the people friendly and respectful. As for the players' age span, it went from 12-yr olds to 60-yr olds. You're also allowed to eat and drink at the table. The TD ordered a pizza pie and you pay the house per slice. The club provides the equipment including digital clocks. I was invited to come back the next day, but family obligations kept me from doing so. Altogether, the HCC was a good experience. BTW, I lost my last round game to NM Englebretson and he graciously analyzed the game with me in private and in the most objective manner. Thanks!

Friday, June 15, 2007

USCF Executive Board Elections 07

The latst edition of Chess Life arrived at my doorstep earlier this week, and with it came the official ballot for the executive board elections. The ballot is now all folded up as per instructions of the USCF, and ready for mailing. Most members of the USCF do not vote, and so it has become more important to cast mine. I, like many, do not have an intimate knowledge of each candidate, and the politics within the organization. I have relied on the comments of people on the web plus my gut feeling about some of them.

For example, I did not vote for either Susan Polgar or Paul Truong. If ever they get elected, they will form a 2-vote bloc that will give them a lot of leverage against those oppose who them. Sorry, but I don't see them as two entities thinking differently but one mind in two bodies. They would form one permanent, unshakable political alliance on the board and that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Furthermore, I read in Polgar's blog that she books her engagements two years in advance. That's a very busy schedule, and I am afraid that an elected position on the board will amount to just another stripe on Polgar's sleeve and not a job she has to do. Where will she get the time, or willingness, to focus on the federation's business? I am also concerned that if elected, both Susan and Paul could turn the executive board and the federation into a vehicle of self-promotion. I am not saying this as a matter of certainty, but just the prospect of it scares me. The other item that could raise your eyebrow is my vote for Sam Sloan. Even if people portray him as an odd ball, I think that he is the type who will not shrink from questioning something that does not look kosher. I want him up there so others can't feel completely safe or free from reproach or criticism. He could be eccentric, but he is not insane.

So, I voted for Joe Lux, Stephen Jones, Sam Sloan and Jim Berry. Good luck to them.

Thursday, June 14, 2007



CM
07
Rd2
TieBreak
Gm1

Rublevsky -
Grischuk

First of all, I am glad to say that my favorites for the Candidates Matches have come through this elimination round. Aronian, Gelfand, Leko, and Grischuk are going to Mexico in September for the World Championships. My predictions for that event will come later but I do favor Kramnik and Aronian to be the top finishers. Anyway, let's take a look at the first game of the tiebreak between Grischuk and Rublevsky. As you already know, Grischuk won with black twice and drawing with white ( second game ) to win the tiebreak match. Here we are at move 29...Nh4 where Rublevsky responded with 30. Rb2, capturing black's rook [ diagram 1 ]. Why not capture the a3 pawn? This pawn later became the bane of Rublevsky's existence. Let's take a look: 30. Ba3 Rb1+ 31. Rb1 Rb1+ 32. Kb1 Ng2 33. Be7 ( to stop the advance of the h pawn? ) Kf7 34. Bg5 h4 ( advances anyway! ) 35. Bh4 Nh4 36. a4 Ke7 37. Kc2 Kd7 38. a5 Ng6 and black is clearly winning. Okay, let's go back to the game: 30... ab2+ 31. Kb1 Ng2 32. f5 Nf4 33. fe Nd3 34. Ba3 Ne5 35. Kc2 Nc4 36. Bc5... [ diagram 2 ]

Here, Grischuk played the very lovely 36... Nd2. This move cut the legs off Rublevky's game because 37. Kd2 b1(Q) 38. Rb1 Rb1 39. Be7 ( 39. Bf2 Rb2+ ) Rb2+ and black is winning. Rublevsky played 37. a4 b1(Q)+ 38. Rb1 Nb1 39. a5 Rb5 and black resigned. If 40. Be7, then 40... Ra5 41. Kb1 Ra6 and game over. If 40. Bf2, then 40...Na3+ 41. Kc3 Ra5 and game over. Congratulations to GM Grischuk.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Chessbuff goes to Hollywood

Actually, I am going to Houston,Texas tomorrow. So, time pressure might not allow me to get another post in until I get settled down there. Don't you hate time pressure? Most of my week and a half will be spent in Houston, but a short trip to the French Quarter of New Orleans is a possibility... spent a couple of nights there about a year before Katrina, and we ( my wife included ) had a blast... visiting the grave ( or tomb ) of Paul Morphy was high on the agenda... made sure of that...This time, I will visit the house of his birth on Chartres Street and then the house where he lived and died on Royal Street.

...Will check out the Houston Chess Club and write a report. I might even get to play in one of their evening tournaments. Fortunately, only three miles separate my base of operations from the club. So, it's an easy drive.

You can surmise that this is going to be a pleasure trip. I would have loved to come down to Texas during the deepest part of winter in New Jersey, but...Things don't always go the way you want them. As for other pleasures, I will seek them in the numerous eateries that serve Asian food!


Las
Vegas
National
Open
07

Nakamura -
Gonzalez

Let's pay our respects to Mr. Nakamura for winning this tournament. This was the 6th and last round and IM Gonzalez still had a perfect score. Nakamura, earlier in the game, moved his king from the kingside to the queenside in a manner some described as petrosianesque. Okay, maybe that was astonishingly profound but the advantage remained unclear. I will pick up the play here where one side has an advantage, and we will see how the master turns it into a win. Nakamura's played 80. Qc5+. By just looking at the position above, you'd surmise that white needs to further squeeze the black king in the corner and advance one or both passed pawns on the queenside, waiting for the right moment to simplify. Gonzalez opted for 80... Ka6, avoiding a simplification on c8. Let's take a look: 80... Ka8 81. Qc8+ Qc8 ( 81...Rb8 82. Qa6 mate ) 82. Rc8+ Ka7 83. Rc5 Rd7 84. Ra5+ and life is beautiful for white. Alright, so we have 81. Re2 Rb6 82. Re7 Qb8 83. Qf2 Rb7? 84.Re6+ and Gonzalez resigned.[ diagram 2 ].


Consider 84... Rb6, then exchanges occur with 85.Rb6+ Qb6 86. Qb6+ Kb6 87. f6. Very pretty. What can black play instead of 83... Rb7? Nothing much really... 84...Rf6 85. Qe2+ Kb6 86. Qb5 mate. And 83...Qd6 84. Qe2+ Rb5 85. Qb5 mate. It seems that Nakamura had a lockdown on this position.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Nakamura wins Las Vegas International Chess Festival 07

After six rounds, GM Nakamura emerged as the sole winner of the National Open with 5.5 points. In his last round, Nakamura faced the only perfect score so far in the person of IM Renier Gonzalez. Gonzalez's list of the vanquished included GMs Mitkov, Ehlvest, Kolev and Gagunashvili, but he lost to GM Nakamura who took home close to $6,000. A great performance by IM Gonzalez and congratulations! After Nakamura, six players scored five points. They are: 2. Korchnoi 3. Sevillano 4. Serper 5. Friedel 6. Gonzalez 7. Matikozyan. Each of them took home over $1,000. There were over 700 players in the National Open. Other notable players and their standings are Ehlvest (25), Shabalov (26), and Akobian (8). A great event, indeed.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


CM
07
Rd2
Gm4
Elista
Rublevsky -
Grischuk
Rook and pawn endings, my favorite! Rublevsky evens the score 2-2 in his match with Grischuk with this very technical ending. Rublevky, ahead with five pawns against two decides to simplify and convert one advantage for another. The doubled pawns on c2 and c3 are weak, and it will be a herculean task to move them up the board. Rublevky knows that the h5 pawn is also weak, and that it could be captured sooner or later. He decided to transfer his advantage to one side of the board in the form of three connected passed pawns by giving up both pawns on the c file. Whatever is easier! Rublevky wins in a very pragmatic manner with 42. Re5+ Re5 43. Ke5 Rc3 44. Ke4 ( preserving his connected pawns ) Rc2 45. Ra5 ( a very important move; takes away the fifth rank from the black rook ) Rc4 46. Kd3 ( saving a tempo ) Rc1. Now, Rublevsky is ready to take back some value with 47. Rh5. Black is now reduced to attacking weaknesses and harrassing the king. What Rublevksy has to do here is to find shelter for his king against the rook and to defend his weak points as he betters his position. I have forgotten who very astutely said that a winning endgame is more about construction than calculation or analysis. Grischuk went 47...Rg1 48. g4 Rh1 49. Re5+ Kf6 50. Rf5+ Kg7 51. h5 and Rublevsky has constructed a position with only one weak point. Grischuk sensibly plays to cut off the white king with 51... Re1 [ diagram 2 ].
Rublevsky solves this problem in fine technical style with 52. Rf4 with 53. Re4 in mind. Play continued 52... Ra1 53. Ke3 ( white begins to find shelter for his king ) Ra3+ 54. Kf2 Ra2+ 55. Kg3 Ra1 56. Rf5 Rh1 57. Kf4 Rh3 58. Kg5 Rh1 ( it must be very frustrating for black! ) 59. f4 Rh2 60. Rd5 Ra2 61. h6+ ( now possible after the rook moved away from the h file ) Kg8 62. Rd8+ Kh7 63. Rd7 Kg8 ( if 63... Ra5+, then 64. f5 Kg8 65. Rd8+ Kh7 66. Ra7 67. Kh5 and the game is over ). The game went 64. h7+ Kh8 ( 64... Kh7
65. Rf7+ Kg8 66. Rc7 Re2 67. f5 and white is completely winning ) 65. Rf7 Ra7. Black just threw a Hail Mary with this last move, hoping for a stalemate with 66. Ra7? Rublevsky replied 66. Rf8+ and Grischuk resigned. If 66... Kh7, then 67. f5 Rc7 68. Rf6 Rb7 69. Ra6 Kg7 70. f6+ and it's just a matter of time really.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Chess in Bryant Park

I once overheard a tourist say to his family, " Well, we're here in Bryant Park. I don't know why it is famous, but this is it. " True, the park is nice but nothing spectacular. It is approximately half an avenue block with the New York Public Library's main building as its closest neighbor to the east. Bryant Park's fame stems from a long history that is both good and bad. Many famous people, when recounting their down and out times, claim they slept overnight in the park. Nikola Tesla, the scientist, was known to frequent the park in the early 20th century as he mulled scientific theories in his head. He died a few blocks away, alone in his hotel room. Sometime around the 1970s, Bryant Park was a dangerous place where drugs were sold. Nobody in their right mind would wander into the park as early as late afternoon. Even walking just outside its perimeter fence was a bad idea during the dark hours. People were dragged from the sidewalk into the park at night and victimized. Today, it is much safer. Good Morning America holds frequent morning shows at Bryant Park. There are security guards roaming the grounds. The long, closed public toilets on the 42nd street side renovated and reopened for use. Outdoor movies are shown in the park during the summer. HBO presents their newest talents by hosting free comedy shows. Where radiating walkways from a central fountain used to be, you'll find an open green where people sit, eat, play,or sleep. In the Winter, it becomes an ice skating rink. Lunch time on a working day is the busiest time to be at the park. I should know... I have worked next door since the 1970s!

Oh, yes, chess! Well, there are two places to play chess at the park. On the southwestern side of the park ( 6th Avenue ) is the Chess & Backgammon Center run by my friend Alex. He was a well-traveled salesman in his native Russia before coming to America. Friendly and accommodating, Alex is a chessplayer himself. At his place, you'll have to pay 50 cents a game including a digital clock. Your opponent pays the same rate so the house earns a dollar per game played. If you can't find an opponent, Alex will play you in behalf of the house. I'd say he's about an 1800 player at blitz. Payment is largely based on an honor system because nobody counts how many games you've played. Be honest. Asa Hoffman, a local master and a character portrayed in the movie, Searching for Bobby Fischer, can be seen frequently at this site. He charges a stiff fee of $5 a game, but I think you can negotiate. He calls out to the public, " Five bucks for a chance to play the old master. " I think that Mr. Hoffman does not often get his price but you will always get a good game from him. If you like Backgammon, then this is also the place for it. Often, there are more gamers at the backgammon area than at Chess. According to Alex, these guys sometimes play till 11pm. The chessboards are arranged along a table under a shady tree. The clocks are kept a locked box. You need to ask for one. I must admit that sometimes you'll have to wait for someone to play if Alex can't sub. It is very rare to hear trash talk.

Now, walk over to the north side of the park ( 42nd Street ) and you'll find several tables of chessplayers at work in their craft. You can't miss them since there is always a group of spectators huddled around the table. Don't let anybody tell you that chess is not a spectator sport. I found that the players here are generally stronger than at Alex's place. Here, you don't have to pay. Just wait your turn and you play for free. However, getting your turn to play could be a problem. Usually, by the time you get there, the rotation is fully established and you need to be assertive to get a chance to play. At this place, the players bring their own sets and clocks. So, you would up your percentages if you bring your own equipment. This way, you get to play most of the time. Please, do not bring nice wooden pieces. A nicely weighted plastic set will be perfect. What about hustlers? It is tricky defining what a hustler is. I reckon that someone who is always pressing you for a bet is a hustler. My strict rule is that I don't play for money. My usual response is, " Hey, I work and so I don't have to earn my money this way." One more thing about getting involved in this money business, unless you know your opponent very well, you have no assurance you'll get paid. So, be smart. Legally, I think it is illegal to have a betting game in a public park. Anyway, the good news is that most players don't play for money. They play for pride and bragging rights. Those are more valuable currencies for them. These guys play all day, and you could say that they've made it in the shade!

Las
Vegas
Int.
07
Rd1

The chess festival is underway with the National Open as its main section plus several side events. Victor Korchnoi is the star attendee. He drew his first round game against a 2200 player. Okay, let's go down a bit on the totem pole and look at a game between IM Enrico Sevillano 2571 and FM T. Brownscombe 2200. This game began as a Sicilian Alapin (C3) but transformed into a French. From the diagram above, Sevillano sacrificed his knight with 21. Nd5. Initially, you'd think that the big idea was to net two pawns for the knight plus an attack down the D and E files. Well, kinda. There's more. So, Brownscombe accepted the sac with 21...ed5 ( 21...Ng8 22. Nb6 Rc7 23. Nd7 Be7 24. b5 ab5 25. ab5 Qa5 bc6 +- 12.75 Fritz ) but then came 22. e6. It seems that Sevillano had his eye on the e6 square all along, and this is the break he truly wanted to make. Play contiued 22... Be6 ( 22... d4 23. ed7+ Kd7 24. Nd4 Nd4 25. Qf4 and white is completely winning ) 23. Qd5 Be7 unpinning the bishop. At this point, he does have two pawns for his knight, but what now for Sevillano? Well, 24. Re6! taking the bishop [ diagram 2 ].


With the bishop on e6 gone, the d7 square has become weak. The game continued 24... fe6 25. Qe6 and both the rook on c8 and the g6 pawn are under attack. Amazingly, Sevillano is a rook down in exchange for two pawns plus a strong attack on an exposed king. He's actually winning here. What can black do? If 25... Kf8, then 26. Ne5 Ne5 27. Be7+ Kg7 28. Bf6+ Kh7 29. Rd7+ Nhf7 30. Rf7+ Kh6 31. Bg7+ and mate will follow soon. Let's see about 25... Rc7, then 26. Bg6+ Kf8 27. Bh6+ Rh6 28. Qf7 mate. And 25... Rg8, there's the very beautiful 26. Qc8+ Kf7 27. Qe6+ WOW!!! Ke6 28. Bb3+ Kf5 29. Rd5+ Ke6 30. Rd4+ Kf5 31. Rf4 mate. This game is filled with many tactical combinations. Finally, the game went 25... Nf7 26. Qc8+ and black resigned. Let's take a look at 26...Bd8 27. Qe6+ Be7 28. Be7 Ne7 29. Rd7 0-0 30. Re7 and white wins. One more, 26... Nfd8 27. Qd7+ Kf7 28. Bb3+ Kg7 29. Be7 and white wins.

Friday, June 08, 2007



CM
07
Rd2
Gm3
Elista

Kamsky -
Gelfand

Gelfand gets his second win so far in the whole eliminations ( 11 games since the matches started ) in this game where the final position had him three pawns ahead of Kamsky. How did that happen? Well, Kamsky was under time pressure and we all know what that can do to your game. This is the beginning of the end for Kamsky's three pawns. Gelfand starts with 30... Nb5 ( first pawn ) 31. Rc2 Nbd6 32. Bd2 Ra4 ( second pawn ) 33. Bb4 Rb4 34. Nc1 Nf5 35. Bf5 Rf5 36. Nd3 Rb3 37. Ra2 Rf7 38. Ke2 Nd6 39. Rda1 Nb5 ( threatening a fork on c3 and also the capture of the d4 pawn ) 40. Kd2 Nd4 ( third pawn ) and play went on till the 58th move.



CM
07
Rd 2
Gm 3
Elista
Leko -
Bareev
By move 39. Rae1, things have gotten a bit unfortable for black. There are two pins hinging on the e5 pawn. Black's rook and king lay on the same diagonal as the bishop on c3, and black's rook on e8 is virtually attacked twice by the white rooks on e3 and e1. There is also the queen on h5 bearing down on the e8 square. Problems, problems! Bareev played 39...e4. Fritz6 suggested the moves 39...b5 undermining the d5 pawn, and 39... Bd6 blockading the same pawn. Remember, it is no longer a good situation for black. Leko countered with 40. Be4 fe4 41. Ne4 and black resigned. At this point, Leko had two pawns for his bishop, but he is about to cash in on the pinned rook on f6. Bareev, if he decided to play on, could go 41... Re4 42. Re4 Bd7 ( to protect the e8 square from the rook ) 43. f5 Ne5 44. Be5 Be5 45. Re5, but white is winning. Now, say, Leko took the rook at 43. Bf6+, then 43. Qf6 R4e2 is not as good for him as the text move. 1-0 Leko leads the match 2.5 - .5

Thursday, June 07, 2007


CM
07
Rd2
Gm2
Elista


Bareev -
Leko


Leko won yesterday's game and that put him ahead by a point in this match. Here we have Game 2 with Bareev playing white, and his last move was 15. e4 threatening a fork on e5. Don't get excited because they drew at this point. I am not much into opening theory, and so I will assume that this is a well-know position among top-level players. Nevertheless, I must question Bareev's wisdom for accepting a " grandmaster draw " in a game lined up for the world championship, playing the white pieces, having lost with black the day before, a point behind in the score, holding the bishop pair, posing a threat of a pawn fork, a rook on the c file, and a possible knight hop unto b5. Perhaps, theory has this position as equal, but it sure looks like white has the advantage here. The only reason I can consider for such a draw is that Bareev wanted to get something on the scoreboard.

CM
07
Rd2
Gm2
Elista


Gelfand -
Kamsky

All games were drawn today at Elista, but obviously this one was a fighting draw unlike the Bareev-Leko affair. This is the final position after Gelfand's move 52. Bc6. Kamsky is temporarily up by a piece but the a7 pawn cannot be stopped from promotion. Let's take a look: 52... Kf8 53. a8(q) Na8 54. Ba8 Ke7 55. Bd5 f5 and so on... White will use his passed d pawn as a diversion while he equalizes the situation on the kingside.


CM
07
Rd 2
Gm 2
Elista
Shirov -
Aronian
Here is an interesting point in the game where Shirov has a queen for Aronian's bishop and rook. I mean, the whole game was interesting particularly in the endgame where Aronian had a coordinated attack on the white king using his two bishops and a rook. This game ended in a draw, but here we are at black's 23... b5. Heck, that pawn on a7 looks free but it really isn't. Of course, Shirov saw through this trap and played 24. Qc2. Okay, let's take a look at the pawngrab 24. Qa7: there is 24... Ra8 25. Qb6 Bd8 and the queen is trapped. So, if ever white went for the pawn, he'd have to return the queen sac with 25. Qc5 Rc5 26. Bc5 Bf3 27. ef3 with advantage for black. 1/2 - 1/2 at the 46th move. This draw is still good for Aronian who will have the white pieces in the next game. He leads the match with 1.5 - .5
Make a Comment

I know that chess fans visit this blog because my counter is active. One thing I can't tell is how many visitors are repeat visitors and how many are new readers. It's not a problem as long as people come. Sadly, most readers don't comment. Comments give me feedback. I know that if I had more news-related reports on this blog people are most likely to give feedback. Controversial issues will, of course, set this blog ablaze. However, my blog was not meant as a political news hub. It's really about the game itself. I have recently added an applet that enables readers to play against a computer, a puzzle of the day on the sidebar, and a game viewer. And, of course, I provide game analysis of the latest tournaments around the world. I hope you appreciate my site. You're in check!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Rybka versus Kirsan

Here's a challenge to the FIDE President from Mr. Hajlich, author of Rybka. It seems to me that the root of his discontent lies in not being invited to participate in the 2007 Ultimate Computer Challenge now going on in Elista. In Mr. Hajlich own words, he ( Rybka ) was snubbed. So, Mr. Hajlich is now thrashing around for attention to heal his wounded ego. FIDE should have just named the match " Deep Junior vs. Deep Fritz " straighout and the world would have not have thought less of the match anyway. After objecting to this publicity event by the alleged FIDE-ICGA-Chessbase cabal, Mr. Hajlich proposed his own publicity show at the world championships in Mexico later this year. Someone is begging for an ego massage.


An Open Letter and $100,000 challenge to
FIDE President Kirsan N. Ilyumzhinov



His Excellency
FIDE President Kirsan N. Ilyumzhinov

May 31, 2007

Dear Mr. President,

First, let me start by commending you for your entry into computer chess with the organization of
The Ultimate Computer Chess Challenge 2007. Computer chess has seen dramatic improvements in the past few years. Some chess engines have progressed dramatically from the primitive beancounters of yesterday and I believe that our games too now qualify as art. Chess at this level inevitably attracts the attention of chess players all over the world.

Unfortunately, the lack of an open, formal qualification procedure for your event was disappointing, and your choice of the two opponents was downright bizarre. You have snubbed my program, Rybka, which leads every single computer chess rating list by a considerable margin at all time controls from blitz games to long tournament games [1]. In many cases the gap between Rybka and her nearest competitor is well over 100 Elo. None of this is anything particularly new - Rybka was released on December 4, 2005, and since then her smallest lead ever in any major rating list at any time control and on any hardware was 60 Elo. In addition to this, she has competed in all eight major international tournaments held since her first release and taken clear (unshared) first place in seven of them. [2] Rybka has also displayed her superiority in competitions against human players. It's no wonder that Rybka is generally considered the undisputed strongest chess program in the world.

Some of the other aspects of the match also raise questions. Chessbase exclusively markets three of the world's top ten engines, so it's a curious coincidence that two of them will participate. Also curious is the involvement of the ICGA - after all, their own self-titled "World Computer Chess Championship" is being held on overlapping dates. This type of apparent division between insiders and outsiders runs counter to all principles of sport and fairness, and I call on you to uphold democratic FIDE norms in the organization of such events.

In the spirit of open competition, I am formally offering a $100,000 computer chess challenge from Rybka to FIDE, who will be represented by the winner of the Ultimate Computer Chess Challenge 2007. My challenge consists of a 24 game match, at classical time controls, on unlimited hardware and with unlimited opening books, held at 2 games per day over twelve days, with Rybka giving a handicap of one point plus draw odds and thus requiring a score of 13 out of 24 or better to win the match. The prize fund of $100,000 should be a winner-takes-all, loser-pays-all proposition.

As the Ultimate Computer Chess Challenge 2007 takes place during the Candidates Matches in Elista, it is appropriate that the winner's match vs Rybka be played in Mexico between September 12 and October 1, 2007, during the FIDE World Chess Championship.

Gens una Sumus,

Vasik Rajlich
author of Rybka
FIDE International Master



CM
07
Rd 2
Gm1
Elista

Leko -
Bareev

Of course, we don't really know what went on in Bareev's mind when he played 31... Bg3. It seems that he was expecting to get at least two pawns for his bishop and an exposed white king, but in the end he ended up with a single pawn for his piece and an attack that lost steam. Bareev's other options were 31... Ra5 or 31... Rc5. Leko continued 32. fg3 Rf1+ 33. Nf1 Rd1 34. Re3 and white's position did not collapsed from the attack. 1-0. Now, another variation of the sacrificial attack is 31...Bg3 32. fg3 Qg3+ 33. Qg3 Ng3 34. Ref2 Rf2 ( 34... Nf1 35. Nf5 ef5 36. Kf1 is very good for white ) 35. Rf2 f5 36. Be5 with Leko still ahead.


CM
07
Rd2
Gm 1
Elista
Aronian -
Shirov
Aronian has done it again, win! Ok, it's only the first game of this match but we all know how important it is to begin with a victory. The big change in the landscape came here at 15... Ne4 [ diagram]. With this capture, Aronian will end up a rook for knight and the e pawn. Play continued with 16. Bf8 Nd2 17. Nd2 Bd2 18. Ba3 Qd5 19. Qc4 Qc4 ( 19... Bc3 20. Rab1 Rb5 21. Qd5 ed5 22. Rfd1 Ra5 23. Bb2 Ra2 24. Rdc1 = ) 20. bc4 Ne5 21. Rab1 Rd8 ( 21... Rb1 22. Rb1 Nc4 23. Bc5 e5 24. Ba7 Ba5 25. f3 += 0.75 ) 22. c5 Nc4 23. Bc1 d3 24. Rb7 c6 25. Bd2 Nd2 26. Rd1 Ne4 27. f3 Nc3 28. Rd2 Na2 nice move! 29. Rb3 ( if 29. Ra2, then 29... d2 30. Rb1 d1(Q) 31. Rd1 Rd1+ 32. Kf2 Rd5 33. Ra7 Rc5 with Black ahead ) Nc1 30. Rb1 Ne2+ 31. Kf2 e5 and from here you can see that Aronian has solidified his position and advantage. 1-0 on the 41st move.
Las Vegas International Chess Festival 07
National News

This chess extravaganza begins tomorrow, 7-11 June 2007 at the Riviera Hotel and Casino. The main event is, of course, the National Open where $100,000 in prizes are up for grabs. ( 60% guaranteed ). Time control is 40/2 plus 1hr sudden death. Two-day schedule rounds 1-3 G/60. Six rounds, Swiss. Monroi.Com will be covering selected games. Here's the schedule: Registration, Thursday 6-11 p.m., Friday 8-9:30 a.m., Saturday 8-9 a.m... Rounds, 3-Day: Friday 11 a.m & 6 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. & 6 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. 2-Day: Saturday 10 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 3 p.m. & join 3-day at 6 p.m. Of course, there is more to this festival than the National Open ... simultaneous exhibitions, lectures, book-signing, a blitz tournament...check their website.
Westfield Chess Club
Local News

The Westfield Chess Club will hold a 5-round Swiss, G/10 which they call the Westfield Swiss No. 42. This one is on Sunday 10 June 2007 at the Westfield Y, 220 Clark Street, Westfield, NJ. Prizes $$ 425 Guaranteed: $125-$60, Under 2050, U1800, U1550, U1300 $60. EF: $35, $25 members. Reg.: 2-2:30 pm. Rds.: 3:15-3:45-4:15-5:00-5:45 pm. For those of you who enjoy a quick game, here you go! I might see you there...

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

President's Cup Ultimate Computer Chess Challenge

The silicon super grandmasters are at it again namely Deep Junior and Deep Fritz. Their match will coincide with the second round of the Candidates Matches in Elista. In fact, the match will be played amidst the candidates, presumably on the very same stage. Time control is G/75 + 10 sec per move. Now, that's too much time for computers but nevertheless that is it. Believe it or not, there is a prize fund of $60,000 to the winner and $40,000 to the loser. Now, how's a computer going to spend that kind of money? I am not a fan at all of computer chess in competition, but you might be. I wouldn't pay a $3 entrance fee to watch them play ( not that they are charging such a fee). I like the humans better. They squirm, fidget, and become restless. They have the same organic equipment as I do. There's something attractive about the human effort. Anyway, if you like this stuff, heaven will open its gates for you tomorrow. BTW, David Levy will be the arbiter, in case there is a dispute!
Dumont ChessMates
Local News

The chess club, as of last night 4 June 07, moved to the Dumont Municipal Building at 50 Washington Avenue, Dumont, New Jersey. All meetings and events will be held at the meeting room on the second floor as in the past several summers. The room is airconditioned. The club will meet there until Labor Day. The Early Summer Quads begins on June 11-18-25, 3-rounds, G/90 USCF rated, always at 7:45pm ( one round per monday). During July and August, events will be completed in one night ( no multi-week events ). This club is comprised of very nice and respectful people. Members are of varying playing strengths. Come by and play!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Candidates Matches, Round 2
Elista
June 6, 2007


Levon Aronian 2759 - Alexei Shirov 2699
Peter Leko 2738 - Evgeny Bareev 2635
Sergei Rublevsky 2680 - Alexander Grischuk 2717
Boris Gelfand 2733 - Gata Kamsky 2705


These guys ( Polgar got eliminated, remember? ) get a two-day break before they go into the next round of eliminations. I guess not only talent goes into this effort but stamina and a lot of self-confidence. I play a 5-round Swiss G/150 and I am exhausted, and that's not even against the best in the world.

So, here are my predictions: I think Gelfand will win convincingly over Kamsky. Forgive me, but I feel that Kamsky had a virtual bye when he was paired with the evidently out-of-shape Bacrot. Just look at his games. Leko has been erratic in his performance and so we don't really know who's going to show up against Bareev. I will go with Leko nevertheless. Grischuk over Rublevsky because the former is still considered a rising star with great potential and a bright future. Of course, there is Aronian. He is the best player in that group, in my opinion. My holy trinity is Kramnik-Anand-Aronian. Shirov and Rublevsky are, of course, very very good players but they have passed their prime, kinda missed the boat in regards to going all the way to the top of the WC.


Let's hope for wonderful games!

Sunday, June 03, 2007


Chicago
Open
07
Rd 1
Paulina -
Erenburg
Expert beats GM. Possible? Yes! Here's the position on White's 39th move. Kinda obvious, isn't? But, let's not second guess the Expert. So, GM Erenburg's destruction began with 39. Qh4 Kg8. GM Erenburg's move is not even a line Fritz9 considered. The almighty computer suggested 39... h5 40. Ng6+ Kg8 41. Ne7+ Kf7 42. g6 Ke6 43. g7 Rb8 and so on, giving White an advantage of +- (11.12). Wow! Ok, the game went 40. Qh6 Rf7 41. Nf7 Kf7 42. Qh7+ Ke6 43. Qe7+ Kf5 44. Qe5+ Qe5 45. de5 e3 46. Rc2 Bd5 47. Rc7 1-0 There is hope for all of us lower-rated players!

CM
07
Gm 1
Blitz
Elista
Aronian -
Carlsen
Aronian is in check and in a fork, but that's okay. He captured Carlsen's rook on c6 just a move ago, and this is payback. However, White's response wasn't the obvious one but 48. Kg4. Why not take the pawn on e5? Well, let's take a look : 48. Ke5 Nc6+ 49. Kf5 Nd4+ 50. Kg4 Kf8 51. Kh5 Nf3 52. Kh6. Okay, so White wins anyway but it is a longer process than Aronian's move. Let's go back to the game 48. Kg4 Nc6 49. Kh5 Kf8 50. Kh6 Ne7 51. Kh7 ( to take g8 from the Black king ) and Black resigned. 1-0. That's a pretty good choice considering this was a blitz game.

CM
07
Gm 2
Blitz
Elista
Carlsen -
Aronian
And so the match was finally decided in the two-game blitz finals with Aronian winning both blitz games, after a tie in both the 6-game and 4-game series. It has been a slugfest! Here we are at move 56... c2. Two coordinated knights against a rook plus a c pawn that's about to promote makes Magnus an unhappy boy! He played 57. Rd8+ Kc3 and the pawn will promote. If 57. Kb2, there is the very nice 57... Nd3+. 0-1 Aronian wins the match.

Saturday, June 02, 2007


CM
07
Gm 6
Elista
Shirov -
Adams
Shirov evens the score with this win over Adams. Instead of showing you the final position, I have move 35... Kb3 where I think, in my humble amateur's opinion, the balance was tipped. No doubt, Adams was aware of the runaway C pawn when he went for b3, assuming that his bishop can stop this passed pawn ( after 36. bc) while he pushed his queenside pawn majority. So, play continued with 36. bc Ka3 37. c6 38. g4 ( taking away the f5 square from the bishop ) Be8 39. c7 Bd7 ( all forced ) 40. Nd3 ( threatening a fork! ) Ka5 41. Nc5 Bc8 42. Ne4 Kb6 43. Nf6 and from here you can see how White won using his unopposed three-pawn majority on the kingside. 1-0

CM
07
Gm 6
Elista
Aronian -
Carlsen
They drew their game! Here is Carlsen's move 45... Rg3! It looks like a wonderful, game-winning sacrifice but it was Carlsen's way of ending the battle. Play continued 46. Rg3 Qd2+ 47. Ka3 Qc1+ 1/2 - 1/2 If 48. Kb4, then 48... Qf4+ 49. Ka3 Qd6+ 50. Kb2 Qd2+ 51. Ka1 Qe1+, and so on.

Friday, June 01, 2007


CM
07
Gm 5
Elista

Carlsen -

Aronian

This is truly THE match of the matches. Carlsen evens the score again with his fine endgame technique. This endgame could have come straight out of Karsten Mueller's Endgame DVDs, on the subject of encirclement. Yes, this very technique is covered in Mueller's wonderfully instructive series! So, it's Carlsen's move 46. Rf7+ Kg8 47. Rg7+ Kf8 48. Nd7+ Rd7 49. Rd7 and Aronian resigned. The encirclement comes in this variation: 46. Rf7+ Ke8 47. Re7+ Kf8 48. Nd7+ Kg8 49. f7+. The other variation involves 48... Ke8 ( instead of capturing the knight in the game ), but that leads to 49. Re7 mate. 1 - 0


CM
07
Gm 5
Elista
Polgar -
Bareev
Judit Polgar kept her hopes up with this win over Bareev in thirty-two moves. Polgar's last move was 32. Qg7+ ( yellow arrow ), refusing the capture of the rook on a8. Capturing the rook would give Black counterplay with 32... Rh4 33. Kg2 Rg4+ 34. Kh1 Qc3 35. Qb7+ Kf6 36. Rg4 Qh3+, and Black is still alive. From the diagram, if 32... Ke6, then 33. Rg6 mate. So, that leads us to 32... Ke8 33. Qe5+ Kd7 34. Rg7+ Kd8 35. Qd6+ and mate will follow very soon. Other variations lead to a loss for Black.