Friday, November 14, 2008

The first round of the olympiad for the Philippine team could be better, but they did not perform badly either. They scored one win, one draw, and two loses. Keep in mind that the Chinese team is one of the best teams in the olympiad, and they should finish near the top. Nevertheless, we always want to see the Filipino players do great. GM Wesley So scored the only win for the team, and IM John Paul Gonzalez drew his game against Chinese GM Li Chao.
I am partial to endings, and you will see mostly endgame analysis on this site. As you know, some people love the openings, and all the new theory. You will see very little opening theory here. In the endings, there are very few new theories. The winning principles of rook and pawn endings haven't changed in a long time, and so with minor piece endings. What has changed is the medium of instruction. In my early days of playing chess, books were the only way to acquire knowledge aside from a tutor. Back then, Reuben Fine's endgame treatise was the standard, but it has been revised recently after numerous inaccuracies were discovered over the years. Nowadays, there are DVDs and software, and many of them are just wonderful to use.
You will see in the diagram above the drawn rook and pawn ending between Gomez and Li Chao. Sure, black is a pawn up but we know that in rook and pawn endings an extra pawn does not mean a win. In fact, rook and pawn endings are notorious for being drawish inspite of an extra pawn. If you reach this position in a non-master tournament, you better play on because your opponent can misplay this position and your extra pawn might win the game. However, among those who know, this is drawn. After 50... Kd7, you come to the position above. Play continued 51. Kc4 Ke7 52. Kd4 Kf7 . Taking the rook with 53. Ke5 loses for white. So, 53. Ra6 Re7 and black keeps the white king from crossing the E file. White played 54. Kd3 Re8 55. Rb6 and white needs to keep the black king from crossing the sixth rank. Black played 55...Kg7 56. Ra6 DRAW. The point here is to keep the black king as far away from the advancing G pawn so that when the white rook swings over to attack the pawn the black rook is the only one to defend it from behind. The white king can then approach the G pawn since the rook will no longer be keeping him from crossing the E file. The G pawn will fall and the game drawn.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dresden Chess Olympiad, 2008
The 2008 Dresden Chess Olympiad got underway today, and the Philippine team faced the Chinese team for Round One. Tough assignment, but GM Wesley So (2610) defeated GM Ni Hua (2710) in 42 moves. That was a Ruy Lopez by Ni Hua. By the 24th move, 24. cd5 Nc8 ( diagram ), it became obvious that Black's game had nothing to offer, and only a matter of correct technique kept GM So from gaining the point. Double passed pawns in the middle for White, a bad bishop on F8 and a miserable rook on G8, the writing was on the wall. The thing is, GM Ni Hua kept on playing even when the position looked like one of those textbook rook and pawn endings that even a B player would have no trouble winning. In the end, Black's passed A pawn meant nothing but a burden on his very own rook while all White had to do was to advance his three pawns on the kingside along with his king, his rook behind the A pawn, making sure black doesn't give that check on the white king and then promote his A pawn due to the tempo gained.

41. f4 a2 42. Kf5

Friday, November 07, 2008

Eric Sevillano, 2008 U.S. Open Champion

Because of my long hiatus from chess, a period of non-chess and I-couldn't-care-less, the latest issues of Chess Life magazine ended up in a pile of paper recyclables as soon as they arrived in my mail box. I tell you, when you're out of chess, the game and all its accompanying events, seem utterly boring. I'd rather cut my dog's nails than study a featured game. This ebb and flow, in and out of chess has plagued me most of my life, and that's most likely the reason why I have never achieved a master rating. It's like a farmer sowing the seeds, but doesn't stay to water and nurse the saplings.

However, this month's issue made me stop and look. My old friend Enrico Sevillano is on the cover. Lord, it must have been five years since I last saw him, maybe longer. I remember him from way back when he was in his late thirties ( Eric is 40 now, according to the article ) as a man of all-chess, living and breathing chess, and only mildly worried about where his next meal will come from or where he will lay his head overnight. If you're looking for a man who is a true chess devotee, here he is. It was reported that Eric has married, and that makes me happy. I hope that he is happy and contented in his life and he must be. He is quoted as saying that his wife tolerates his chess. For all his supreme talent, Eric has earned only one GM norm but he wins tournaments, or does very well in them, all the time. I can only surmise that he has been playing in the wrong tournaments, GM norm-wise. Anyway, Eric, I wish you all the best and I look forward to meeting you again.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Gee, it's been a long time since my last post. I reckon one could say that I took the Summer off. No kidding, I am not sure what was the last tournament I played in, and much more do I not remember the last game I played. It must have been one at the local chess club. Well, right now, I've got no game analysis ready, but I do have something to share. My wife and I drove to Andover, NJ this afternoon to look at some antiques, and we chanced upon this chess set for sale. It's in very good condition, and I estimated this set to be from the middle of the first half of the 20th century. Of course, I could be wrong but the design of the knight tells me that I could be right. It's in perfect condition and it is a complete set. My wife usually takes hours going through store after store while I make one quick survey of the place and see if there is something that would interest me. An old chess set is always a good find.