Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Zhu -

Zhu Chen and Antoaneta Stefanova are former women's world champions, and they met at the final round of the tournament. With this win over Stefanova, Zhu Chen clinched first place, edging out Zhao Xue on tiebreak points.

The position is highly unbalanced with Stefanova's two knights and a rook for Zhu's queen and an extra pawn. However, the position is already critical for black since white is on a mating attack. The knights are unable to support the bishop on g7 nor create any diversionary tactic. Stefanova played 36...Rg8 to stop the mate on g7, but Zhu responded with the very fine move 37. Qg6 and black resigned. 1-0.

Let's take a closer look: if 37...Bf6, then 38. Qh6#. Now, if 37...Nd5 ( what else?), then 38. Qh6#. There's nothing more black can do.

But, we have to look at another move instead of 36...Rg8. Consider 36...Bf6, then 37. Qf6+ Kh7 38. Qf7+ Kh8 39. Qg6 c5 40. Qh6+ Kg8 41. Qe6+ Kf8 42. h4 and white has a good game going but black is not completely out of the game, unlike 37...Rg8.

A little star, rising...

Samantha Glo Revita, a name we are not familiar with but perhaps it is time we did. Samantha is a second grader at the Rosales North Central School in Pangasinan, The Philippines. Born as late as 1999, Samantha's NCFP rating is only 1945 but Philippine ratings tend to be much lower than western ratings.

Samantha's latest achievement was a Gold Medal at the 8th ASEAN Age Group Chess Championship, Year 2007 at Pattaya, Thailand. ASEAN stands for Association of Southeast Asian Nations, if I am not mistaken. Samantha also won the Bronze in the Blitz Chess tournament ( 5-min ). On top of that, the Philippine team won three Silver Medals.

A year earlier, at the 7th ASEAN Age Chess Championship 2006 at Jakarta, Indonesia, Samantha won the Silver Medal. She also won the Silver Medal at the 2nd ASIAN School Chess Festival in Singapore. Locally, Samantha's achievements are Gold Medals for both 2006 and 2007 National Age Group Chess Championship in Manila. That's quite a roll for a 7-yr old, isn't it?

Reportedly, no one from the National Chess Federation of the Philippines was at the airport to welcome home Samantha and her teammates after the 10-day tournament. Ooops. In fairness, the NCFP funded Samantha's airfare and hotel accommodations, and presumably the same for her teammates. Samantha's father said they were happy about Samantha's success and they will not make an issue about the NCFP's oversight.

Not to be snubbed altogether, Samantha received her well-deserved kudos from her hometown government who honored her with a parade and a recognition program. This coming December, Samantha will represent her country in the World Youth Chess Championship in Turkey. Good luck, Samantha.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Ah, another endgame study! With boths sides having a pawn majority on opposite flanks, this one could make it into a book or DVD on rook and pawn endings. Both sides are looking to create a passed pawn.
My opponent could not resist 35...Rc3. Looks great, and even greater if I obliged him with the exchange of rooks. But, why would I do that? I went 36. Kf3 Re3 37. Ke3 and my king position had gotten better. On e3, my king is still within striking distance of black's B pawn in case it became passed via a4. The problem with this maneuver by black is that it also creates a passed A pawn for white that black cannot ignore. Black continued with 37...Ke6 38. Kd4 ( " Body check " as Karsten Mueller would declare! ) Kd6 39. Kc4, an important move. So, black must decide where to commit his king. He went 39...Kc6 40. g5! The pawns are on auto-pilot to create a passed pawn. So, 40...Kb6? a wasted move. It was necessary to move his king closer to the action via Kd6 or Kd7. The correct move here for white is 41. g6, advancing a pawn one more square and fixing the black pawn on g7. Play went 41...Kc6 42. f5 Kd6 ( can you see how wasteful 40...Kb6 was? ) 43. f6 gf6 44. g7 and game over. 1-0.
White's better king position and advanced pawns on the kingside made this win possible.


Narancic -
This bishop and pawn ending with the same-colored bishops must have been like child's play for Mr. Korchnoi. Korchnoi would have been a world champion, if Karpov was not in his way several times. But, there are lots of would-have-beens in chess, so let's leave it at that. Some are destined to die on the slope, never reaching the summit.
The problem is, white has pawns on white squares and they can be attacked by black. Black has an offensive move in f5, but he has to be vigilant about the white king's possible foray into his queenside. As always in minor piece and pawn endings, tempo or zugswang come into play. Definitely, black had the initiative here.
Korchnoi moved 53...Kd6 54. Bb5 Be6 ( preparing f5 ) 55. Bf1 f5 56. gf5...or else the H pawn will become passed. Play continued 56...Bf5 and now you begin to see that the white bishop will be torn between the pawns on a4 and h3. So, 57. Bg2 so black can't play his bishop to d7, but 57...Ke5 protects the e pawn and the black bishop is freed from its defensive duties. Narancic played 58. Ke1 ( 58. Kc3 g4 59. hg4 Bg4 60. Kc4 Bd7 and black is winning ) and 58... Bd7 and black wins. If 59. b3, then 59... Be6 or 59...g4. 0-1.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Nigel Short on Mr. Kamsky

Montrealchessfest 2007

Nope. It's not only about Gata, but also about his father, Rustam. Here is Short's answer to a question about his match with Gata Kamsky in the early 1990s:

What can I say? I have been playing chess for a very long time. My match against Gata Kamsky was by far the most unpleasant experience I ever had in my career. In essence Gata Kamsky won this match by cheating. His father threatened to kill me during the match. It was a very ugly incident. It had to be reported to the police. He (Rustam Kamsky) had to be pulled off me actually. So, quite frankly, I would rather not see him (Gata) But its not up to me, the organizers decide who is to participate. This is not my business. Gata Kamsky, if you talk to him now, I am sure you will find him to be a polite person. But its like someone who was part of a gangster group, and he would very much like to forget about these unpleasant parts of his past when he went everywhere with his father – who is nothing more than a thug. In other sports if you had a situation where a member of a delegation threatened to kill one of the players, and don’t forget Rustam Kamsky was a boxer, and, as far as I understand, had been in prison for such offenses, you would have an automatic disqualification, but for various reasons that didn’t happen. I am sure Gata Kamsky would like to forget about the influences of his father, but he benefited from it at the time. If I win this game it will give me more satisfaction than anything else.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Rd 4

Onischuk -

It looks like Van Wely is not having a good tournament at Biel. I think in the last year GM Van Wely has not performed very well, and his star has fallen during that time. At Biel, this is his third loss in four rounds.

Here is the position at move twenty-six for black. Van Wely seemed conscious of the threat on b7 and b6, a one-two combination punch by the white rook and queen. To address this, Van Wely played 26...Rd6 so as to prevent the subsequent check on b6 by the queen. Evidently, this was not enough. Onischuk applied more pressure via 27. Bd5 with the threat of 28. Rb7+ followed by the double attack 29. Rb8+ and then Ka7 30. Qb7#. Van Wely was quickly running out of rope although he was one piece ahead. Black played 27...Rd5 but it was not enough. Onischuk secured his win with 28. Rb7+ Ka8 and the very fine move 29. Qb6, threatening mate in two ways---30.Qa6# and 30. Ra7#. Game over. 1-0

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Rd 3

Wely -

With black to move, Motylev certainly knew what he was doing. Van Wely had just moved his rook to c4 to attack the pawn on d4. Motylev could have just defended the pawn with 33...e5 and still have a better game than his opponent. For example, 33...e5 34. Rb1 Rf3. However, Motylev had grander plans and proceeded with 33...Bg3. Play continued with 34. Rd4+ Ke7 35. e5 and here Motylev revealed his true intentions. He played the very lovely 35...Re1+ and the king has to recapture by force with 36. Ke1. The discovered attack 36...Rf4+ wins back the rook, and that's how Motylev ended up a piece ahead. 0-1
Chess relic for sale...

Yet, another chess clock from the CLUB ARGENTINO DE AJEDREZ is being sold. Well, this one is owned by a certain Mr. B. Bendek who bought it from the club. Evidently, there were three clocks used during the Alekhine-Capablanca Match in Argentina in 1927. This clock was used for games 15-34 of the match, according to the club. The clock used for games 7 - 13 was sold last year while clock used for games 1-6 will not be sold. The club will keep that one. As for the clock on sale, it will come with a letter of authenticity from the club. Aside from the match, the clock saw action in simultaneous exhibitions given by Lasker, Capablanca, Alekhine, and Tartakower. It was finally retired in 1955.

I think that for a collector this item is certainly one of the most sacred. It is good that the table, chess pieces, chairs, and clocks from the Alekhine-Capablanca match (1927) are still around. The bidding is expected to go into the five digits and it already has, at $11,000 with five days to go. I vaguely remember a news report that Kasparov tried to purchased the table and pieces in a private sale, but no cigar for the former world champion. It makes you wonder about the stuff from the Fischer-Spassky Match. I believe that the table and pieces are on display at the Chess Hall of Fame in Miami. I might be mistaken, but that's the mental note I made. How long shall we wait for them to go on sale?

Here is the link to bidding: http://cgi.ebay.com/Jaques-Congress-Chess-Timer-Alekhine-Capablanca-Set_W0QQitemZ260142725752QQihZ016QQcategoryZ3929QQtcZphotoQQcmdZViewItem

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Association of Chess Professionals

ChessVibes managed to secure an interview with GM Pavel Tregulov, President of the ACP, and the text appears on their site. There is talk about Global Chess, FIDE, Mexico, and the future plans of the ACP. Here it is: http://www.chessvibes.com/?p=1071

Grandmaster in Pain

That's GM Nigel Short. After four rounds at the Eighth Montreal International chess tournament, Mr. Short has not scored any points at all. He lost to Ivanchuk, Harikrishna, Tiviakov, and K. Miton. This is certainly unlike the grandmaster, and the culprit maybe dental problems. GM Short was reportedly escorted back to his room during a round to take some pain relief medication, and that he saw a dentist on a free day.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Carlsen -
Final position from Round One. Fresh from his victory in Canada, GM Bu Xiangzhi finds himself two pawns down against the young Norwegian. You can already surmise that Carlsen will be going for some kind of squeeze play to get one of his pawns to promote. But how? He played 84. f7 and Bu resigned. Let's take a look: 84...Re6 85. a7 and there's the squeeze play. Okay, what if Bu decided to shake things up in the south instead of taking the rook? Let's see, 84... Rh1+ 85. Re1 Rh8 86. Re8 Rh1+ 87. Kc2 Ra1 88. f8(q)+ and white wins.

Much too Blind
Polgar -
Perhaps, this is one of the games that Anatoli wouldn't want to see get on the web, but I'll risk a reprimand from one of the world's greatest players by doing so. Judging from the moves that ensued, it seems that Karpov overlooked the rook on f1 and perhaps even the queen on d2. You can judge for yourself. Play continued with 29... Qd1? This move may have initially stunned Polgar and made her wish she could open her eyes to verify it visually! Polgar replied with 30. Rd1 Rc1 31. Rc1 Rc1+ 32. Qc1 and black resigned.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Youngest American GM, so far

Fabiano Caruana has become the youngest American GM so far at the age of 14 years, 11 months, and 20 days. He surpassed Hikaru Nakamura who earned his GM title at the age of 15 years, 2 months, and 19 days. Playing at the "First Saturday" GM tournament in Budapest, Hungary, Caruana won first place with a score of 7.0/9, a point and a half ahead of the group. His performance was rated 2631. With this win, Caruana earned his third and final GM norm. Congrats to Fabiano!
Checkers has lost its mystery...

News is out that Checkers has been solved! I am taken aback by this grandiose claim but it seems that the man behind the twenty-year effort, Prof. Jonathan Schaeffer, is not kidding at all. In 1989, Prof. Schaeffer developed the program Chinook together with Rob Lake, Paul Lu, Martin Bryant, Norman Treloar and some others, and Chinook won the world champion title in Checkers against humans. Supposedly, since that time, computers have been working around the clock to solve the game. It required thirteen years of brute-force computer analysis to figure out all 500 billion billion possible board positions. At the University of Alberta in Canada, those involved formally announced that the game of Checkers had finally been solved. The conclusion? A file now exists that contains all the information on every legal position that can occur during the game. From there, the file knows which move will lead to a win or a draw. So, the game is a draw if played correctly by both sides! Profound, eh?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

U.S. Open 2007

For those of you who like big tournaments, the 108th U.S. Open is coming to New Jersey very soon. It begins on July 28th, Saturday, with the traditional schedule of one game a day at 7:30pm. There are, of course, other schedules to choose from. Time control will be 40/2, SD/1. Bring some energy packs because you will need them for the nine rounds of Swiss. Entry fee is a not-so-shocking $125. One sideshow is expected to attract many players and that would be the 5-min Championships beginning at noon of the 28th, seven rounds of blitz with colors switched ( 14 games altogether ). This year's venue is the Crown Plaza Philadelphia-Cherry Hill in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Some people just don't want to win! My opponent misplayed this ending and allowed me to draw by pushing and exchanging the pawns, a strategy that decreased the power of his knight. The final drawn position had my king holed up at h1 and black could not make any progress promoting the remaining rook pawn nor dislodging my king the corner without falling into a stalemate.
The correct method is 48...Nh2. Although black gives up a piece, he gains a pawn majority that makes this ending possible to win. The f pawn becomes very weak since the black king can move into f3 while he squeezes white by pushes the h pawn. It goes like this: 48...Nh2 49. Kh2 Kf3 50. Kg1 h4 51. Kf1 g4 52. Kg1 h3 53. Kh2 Kf2 ( 53. Kf1 h2 ).

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

FIDE Hearings

FIDE has announced on their website that the Ethics Commission will be holding hearings concerning several individuals. The hearings will be held in Athens on July 28, 2007. The case of note is Case 04/06 - existence of complaint against Messrs Topalov and Danailov. It seems that those two will be ask to present evidence and give testimony to the claims they made against Vladimir Kramnik and FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, during and after the World Chess Championship in Elista. The Bulgarian dynamic duo will just have to back up the disparaging remarks they have made about Kramnik and Ilyumzhinov. Here is the link to the the case: http://www.fide.com/news/download/Ethic-Topalov.pdf

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A Chess Rant

Perhaps, it was just the excessive heat of summer or a long day at work but plodding through a book on the Slav and Semi-Slav last night finally brought me to ask the question: Is this necessary? The underlying strategy for Black in the QG Declined is to develop your C8 bishop quickly and to a good post. That's the problem Black has to solved in the opening. Otherwise, there are no big surprises, and that's why the QGD is considered a very safe opening to adopt as Black. So, trying to understand and retain the exact lines involved in the Central Variation and the Meran Variation is quite a task especially for someone who is already half a century old with a not-so-great short-term memory. Heck, I forget most of the theory just 24 hours later! Basically, with just enough opening theory stored in my gray matter, I find myself finding the best move in the opening that somehow controls or challenges the center, develop my pieces, maintain the initiative if I am playing White, minimize pawn moves as to minimize weak squares, and not lose a tempo. I find that this pans out to less mental work than memorizing specific lines of analysis that sooner or later escape my memory.

Of course, the player with the better opening repertoire has the advantage over those who try to get through the opening sensibly. I reckon that the younger generation of players have a greater ability to retain this awesome load of opening theory, but for aging players like myself it has become a burden. I think the lesson learned here is to do all your work while you are young so that you can build the mental roadwork necessary to understand and retain chess knowledge with the minimum of labor. There is great wisdom in maximizing the benefits during the prime of your life. For me and in regards to chess, that's 30 years of age and below.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

My opponent had just played 34...e6-e5 attacking my queen. I did not consider this move at all after I placed my knight on the d6 square, and so it caught me by surprise . I lost a golden opportunity to significantly get ahead in the game when I played 35. Bf5. Post-game analysis revealed that 35. Nc8 was the move to make. So, here we go... 35. Nc8 ef4 36. Ne7+ Kf7 37. Ng6 Kg6 38. gf4 is just fine for white.
Dumont Chess Mates Schedule

The Dumont Chess Mates have published their Summer 2007 schedule on their website at:

http://www.dumontchessmates.com/calendar.htm .

As stated in the club email, all events will be one-niters for this summer. All tournaments will be played and concluded on the same night. The club meets at the borough hall in Dumont, New Jersey located at 50 Washington Avenue, Dumont, NJ 07628. Any questions, please call club President Ron Groseible at 201-794-2301.

Northeast Open 2007

For those of you in the New York Tri-state area, the 13th Annual Northeast Open will begin this friday, July 13-15. It will be a 5-SS, G/150 (2-day option, rds 1-2 G/60), at the Holiday Inn Select, 700 Main St, Stamford CT 06901. Four sections : Open Section: Prizes $1000-500-300, top 2200-2399/Unr $400, top U2200 $400. FIDE rated...Under 2000/Unr Section: Prizes $700-350-200, top U1800 $400, no unrated may win over $500... Under 1600/Unr Section: Prizes $700-350-200, top U1400 $400, no unrated may win over $300... Under 1200/Unr Section: Prizes $600-300-200, no unrated may win over $100.

The schedule runs 3-day schedule: Reg. ends Fri 7 pm, rds. Fri 7:30, Sat 12 & 6, Sun 10 & 3:15. 2-day schedule: Reg. ends Sat 11 am, rds. Sat 12, 3 & 6, Sun 10 & 3:15.

Registration: Entry fee: 3-day $83, 2-day $82 mailed by 7/6, all $81 ONLINE at chesstour.com by 7/11, $90 phoned to 406-896-2038 by 7/11 (entry only, no questions), $100 at site. No checks at site, credit cards OK.

I will be playing in the Under 2000 section. See you there!

Friday, July 06, 2007


Without pawns to defend, a knight can draw against a rook provided that the knight and king stay together. If separated, then the rook's greater mobility will overpower them. Karsten Mueller, in his wonderful 4-DVD set on the endgame, covers this lesson. He even challenges the reader, " If you don't believe me, try it yourself. " The saving grace for the defending side is that the knight can give a check whenever the opposing king comes in for a mate, but for the stronger side to effect a mate his king has to come closer. So, a quandary exists and the knight draws with correct play.

Here is an example from the Endgame Training feature of Fritz9: you can see that the knight prevents the black king from approaching via e3 or g3. The f3 square is protected indirectly by a check on h2, and the king has to back off. If the rook temporizes along the second rank, then you can also temporize with Nh2-Nf1. White can move out of the corner where he has more chances at losing. Just remember to keep the knight and king in close proximity of each other.

Let's look at some lines: 1. Nh2 Rd2 2. Nf1 Ra2 3. Nh2 Kg3 4. Nf1+ Kf3 5. Nh2+ and black cannot make progress. Another: 1. Nh2 Kg3 2. Nf1+ Kh3 3. Kh1 Re1 4. Kg1 Rd1 5. Kf2 Rb1 6. Nd2 Rb2 7. Ke3 Kg3 8. Nc4 Rb3+ 9. Ke4 and black cannot make any progress.

World Open
Valley Forge,

Banawa -
Joel Banawa, one of the rising stars on the Philippine-American chess scene, is seen here with the white pieces against a 1900 player. Kudos to Mr. Spigel for even reaching this late stage of the game against a player rated approximately 500 points above him. The question is clear: how does white roll his two passed pawns down the A and B files? Black's weak D pawn stands out like a wart on a bald head, and the bishop on c8 has no more freedom than an inmate at the state prison. So, you've got a couple of ideas there.
The game went 52... Nd7 53. Ke3 ( white is already thinking of the black king's entry into his queenside and also the chance that the C pawn could make a dash for promotion ) Nf6 pressure on the e4 pawn, but black really has no good alternatives. White played 54. Nc6 which attacks the bishop that supports for the d6 pawn and also leaves an open road for the A pawn... Kb7 55. Nb8 Kb8 56. Nd6 and game over.
Supporting the d6 pawn in the first place does not change black's fate much. Say, 52. Kd7 53. Nc6 Kc8 54. a5 Kb7 55. Nb8 Kb8 56. Nd6 and game over.
GM Mark Paragua withdraws from the World Open 07 at Valley Forge, Pa.

The Philippines' No. 3 player, GM Mark Paragua withdrew from the 2007 World Open after earning only two points out of a possible five. This setback came not too long after a good showing at the Bradley Open in Connecticut last month ( 2nd place ) albeit the Bradley Open is hardly comparable to the World Open in strength. Gm Paragua started the tournament with a win against IM Jay Bonin, a regular in the tournament circuit, but lost his second round to GM Hikaru Nakamura, who tied for first place in the tournament. Then, GM Paragua lost to a relatively unknown player Faik Alekskerov, rated 2453, in the third round. For the fourth and fifth rounds, he won over FM K. Gulambi and lost to GM Yudasin, a strong GM who is also a club champion at the Marshall Chess Club. With still four rounds to go, GM Paragua threw in the towel, and his fans in the Philippines were left wondering about the wisdom of his decision.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

To all of my fellow Americans, I wish you a great Fourth of July 07. God bless our country. Our home, sweet home. I thank all our service people in all our wars, and all those on whose shoulders other Americans stand on.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Once in a while, I showcase a game for its sheer oddity. It is very seldom that we get four queens on the board, but here is one example of it. This position occurred at playchess.com with less than a minute left in a 5-min blitz game. Both sides do not have a direct shot at the opposing king, and a tempo is most important here. It's black to move, and that tempo carried him to victory.

The game continued 38... Qaa1, threatening mate on h1, 39. g4 Qh1+ 40. Kg3 Qa3, still working that tempo with white unable to interpose either one of his queens to ease the attack, 41. f3 Qe1+ 42. Kh2 Qae3. Here, we come to a ceasefire for positioning, but white is unable to get a counter-attack going. White played 43. Qcb6 for an exchange of queens. But, that makes black's attack lose steam and white's passed B pawn stronger. Black refused the exchange with 43...Qf4+ and 44. g3 white allowing himself to be mated with 44...Qfg3#. The importance of one tempo!

Top 20 Players
FIDE Ratings
July 2007

1 Anand, Viswanathan 2792
2 Topalov, Veselin 2769
3 Kramnik, Vladimir 2769
4 Ivanchuk, Vassily 2762
5 Morozevich, Alexander 2758
6 Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar 2757
7 Leko, Peter 2751
8 Aronian, Levon 2750
9 Radjabov, Teimour 2746
10 Jakovenko, Dmitry 2735
11 Shirov, Alexei 2735
12 Svidler, Peter 2735
13 Gelfand, Boris 2733
14 Grischuk, Alexander 2726
15 Adams, Michael 2724
16 Kamsky, Gata 2718
17 Carlsen, Magnus 2710
18 Akopian, Vladimir 2708
19 Polgar, Judit 2707
20 Ponomariov, Ruslan 2706

To shake or not to Shake, FIDE answers the Question

There is discussion on the web about FIDE's new(?) rule about behavioural norms of players in competition. I don't know exactly when this rule was first created, but it seems that the FIDE Presidential Board was reacting to incidents that it felt were offensive to officials and players. Here is an excerpt:

" Any player who does not shake hands with the opponent (or greets the opponent in a normal social manner in accordance with the conventional rules of their society) before the game starts in a FIDE tournament or during a FIDE match (and does not do it after being asked to do so by the arbiter) or deliberately insults his/her opponent or the officials of the event, will immediately and finally lose the relevant game. "

There must have been noteworthy incidents of boorishness on the international circuit for FIDE to incorporate such a rule into their code. I remember watching a video of the first match-up between Kramnik and Topalov after their world championship match in Elista, and neither one of them extended a hand. Kramnik, tactfully, arrived at the table with a small cup of coffee in one hand and a bottle of water in the other. Now, I feel that was planned but I don't mean that in a critical way. Topalov had nothing in his hands, and he did not extend any of them. I think that they were still very civil with each other because no OTB trash talk took place. They just ignored each other.

The way I read the rule is that a player should extend his/her hand for a handshake OR greet the opponent in a courteous manner. People have commented that they have personal reasons why shaking hands is not a good idea for them. They have concerns about cleanliness, catching colds, arthritis pains, and so on. Well, then, if ever you are in a FIDE event, just give your opponent a warm " Hi and Hello " and you've conformed with the law of FIDE. Bear hugs are not required, by the way.