I don’t often re-blog content, but this is too good to be true. Sandra Casti – Alex King’s west coast fwend and renowned Chimp Tamer – has put together a team of top-notch tacticians. When asked where she got her chimp training skills she was quick to point out that dating Alex laid the foundation for this career path. You can see the full article here.
While rummaging through some old boxes at the Marshall Chess Club today, I found an odd volume by Andy Soltis entitled “Chess To Enjoy: A king’s treasury of chess stories and unusual games and problems for budding masters, sideline kibitzers, and rainy-Sunday-afternoon beginners.” Apart from having a 1970’s retro-chic cover and paragraph long title, this book is full of some of the strangest chess tidbits I’ve seen since first stumbling upon Chess Notes by Edward Winter.
In a chapter titled “‘I Resign’ and Other Famous Words,” I stumbled across the below composition coupled with a descriptive poem by Ilya Shumov from a collection of similar compositions thematically called “The Opium War,” written in 1860.
It’s clearly a horrible indignity,
to restrict the trading integrity.
The civilized nations say, ‘No More,’
and so, for opium, we have – a war.
But since the enemy cannot scale China’s Great Wall
The emperor curses them as dogs from under his parasol,
but as he orders them destroyed with his cups of tea,
he overlooks completely he’s being mated,– in three.
This thematic coupling reminded me of Vladimir Nabokov’s rare/impossible to find collection of chess problems he composed together with corresponding poems/hints Poems and Problems. Perhaps he was inspired by Shumov?
That book has been on my Christmas list for a decade but Santa can’t seem to find it.
For those of you who haven’t heard, Andrew Bujalski’s “Computer Chess” is the hot mumblecore talkie of the summer. Recently, he sat down with Mekado Murphy of the New York Times to chat about his approach to cinematagraphy. The article can be found here. Shot entirely on highly modified Sony AVC-3260 video cameras that record old school glass tube video straight to a hard drive, this flic has film festival audiences mumbling all over the globe.
Perhaps my favorite part of this article is the following admission: “Before I knew I wanted to make a movie about computer chess programmers, I just had the fantasy of making a movie on the old black-and-white, analog tube cameras,” Mr. Bujalski said. Some people might say this is the nec-plus-ultra of form over content- but after reveling in retro aesthetic of the trailer that I’ve watched over and over again, I say Viva la form over content.
SHOWING AT FILM FORUM STARTING THIS WEDNESDAY!
Esteemed board member Cameron Hull (seen here “representing”) recently gained 67 points in a single tournament! The other day when we met up for ‘spro at Champion Coffee, he showed me the following loss, which is instructive in that he missed a few interesting ideas. As a student of GM Stripunsky, Cameron has adopted the Sicilian Kan- a stalwart defense often leading to hedgehog style pawn structures. However, in the following game he delays d6 for too long and castles queen-side into a pawn avalanche.
This past week I spent a bit of time in rural Maine at a wedding, where an 8-year-old girl scored an imposing 3-0 victory against me in Jenga. Her name was Madeleine, and she taunted me with hilarious quips like “risk it for the biscuit” when I touched a sticky block. Later, we would be engaged in a high stakes hand of Apples to Apples with her mother and my girlfriend as she repeated “I know your cards Gregory” each time she was the judge. She also had the coolest toothbrush ever. In any case, “risk it for the biscuit” is my new anthem for swashbuckling chess games, and the following Sicilian Najdorf i played online -replete with blunders and sacrifices and ending in a draw by repetition- embodies that.
10…e5 was a blunder by my opponent, as my knight can jump into the juicy square f5 and likely win the d6 pawn after 11.Nf5 exf4 12.Bxf4 Ne8 13.h4 Bf6 14.Nd6 when White’s attack is overwhelming. However, I immediately return the favor with 12.Nxd6 which is a blunder as it can be met by 12…Ne5 when the bishop on knight on d6 is lost. Luckily, my opponent missed this idea playing Qb6 instead, when again White should have a winning advantage as outline above. 14.Ne2 leads merely to equality, while 14.Bxf4 would have been good for White. 17.Qxf5 misses the point, better was capturing with the pawn when the position would be roughly equal. Now, Black is able to push back with g6 or h6, when black’s pieces quickly coordinate and overwhelm White’s awkwardly placed pieces. 19…Ne3 leaves Black clearly better, and forces White’s hand into a truly “risk it for the biscuit” sacrifice with 20.Rxg7?! after which White is hopelessly lost objectively, but the practical chances get interesting quickly. With Horowitz bishops pointed at his king, Black errors with 29…Bxe5 when White is suddenly back in the game! It breaks my heart that I missed the elegant 33.Be4, which would win on the spot as Black would be forced to jettison his queen to avoid mate. And again on move 34 I missed the elegant 34.Bh7+! Kh7 35.Qxg5 when mate is to follow. However, in the heat of battle I felt i still had an advantage depsite being down a pawn and the exchange, and my engine confirms this. The game contains a few more tactical chances overlooked (I had 36.Rxg4!) but eventually peters out to a repetition. Interestingly, my engine thinks that white is still +2 at the point when I chose to go for repetition, but I was happy to draw considering the fact that I was completely losing at one point in the middle game. I’m debating playing in the grand prix tonight at the marshall, if I do I’ll be sure to add a few games soon. Until the, feast your eyes on this blunderfest.
This Wednesday I decided to go play some chess for a change, together with 37 other people who entered the Wednesday night U2000 at the Marshall Chess Club. If you’re not in it already, you should come register for round two with a first round bye! In round one, I managed to win my game, which I’ve included below. Marcus and Jermaine also won their games, though Jermaine did so in grand style with an interesting theoretical novelty! When alex asked him after the game why he played the mind bending 16.Ndb5, he said “because I didn’t see any other move.” When I asked him about it afterwards, he said that he had looked at some other moves, but decided that this one was crushing because he couldn’t find a way for Black to save both his knight and rook.
I apologize for not updating more frequently, I have been very busy lately and what time I do have for chess I am spending working on my Czech Benoni studies. Accordingly, the following game caught me eye recently. This game between Yury Shulman and Ivan Cheparinov was played at the 2013 Reykjavik Open, and while Black lost in a very complicated position, he achieved equality with chances using our favorite defense.
Tonight in the farthest corner of Queens, Pavel and I both beat our opponents in interesting games. His was an English Attack in the Najdorf, which I will post later, while mine was a Sicilian that turned rather Frenchy.
My opponent was a really nice guy I have to say it. I showed up about 20 minutes late, but he let me start with the full time control anyway. While I do tend to be a fast player, this gesture was nonetheless appreciated. Looking at the game now with my computer, many of the moves that both me and my opponent made were either the first or second choice with only a few exceptions, and one particularly bad blunder at the end. Some slightly better tries for me were 15…Nc4! an interesting move that leads to dead equality, but at least it is more dynamic than the massive exchange of pieces as in the game. I’m not sure if I would have the guts to play a move like 15…Nc4 in the heat of battle, but looking at it now I almost wish I had tried it. 20…h5 would have lead to a clear edge for Black, and this move I actually did consider, though I didn’t play it until later when it lacked the bite that it has in the current position. Finally, 21…Rf5 is apparently not the best move as it allows white to solve his problems. Once again, best is now 21…h5! 25…g6 is the most accurate way to hold the edge, but what can I say for myself? Patzer sees check patzer plays check. 32…Qg3 is a major error, as i should have played Rd2 with the idea of scooping up some central pawns. However, I was so focused on the idea that bishops of opposite color favor the attacker in middlegames that I thought pawns were more or less irrelevant at this point as I was convinced I had a mating attack. While this is what ultimately unfolded, it required a blunder on the part of my opponent to materialize. 34.Rb8 was a game losing blunder, as now the dark square mating attack becomes possible. After 34.Qb3 my opponent would be holding everything on the Kingside while maintaining an advantage due to his pawns, though even here the evaluation shows +.34 and it isn’t entirely straightforward. In case anyone is curious, 35.Qg1 loses to 35…Rf1! Finally, his surprise Queen sacrifice on move 36 sets up a checkmate trap for me to fall into! While it would have been an elegant mate and an incredible save, I have to say I’m thrilled I didn’t allow this embarrassing swindle because it really would have ruined my night to lose in such a position. In the final position after Qxh5, it’s mate in 2 after either 37.Rxh5 Rf1# or 37.Kg1 Bh2+ 38.Kh1 Rf1#.
I apologize for not posting more frequently, I’ve been working a lot recently and just too tired to focus much on chess. However, when Alex King sent me the following annotated game, I had to stop and put it up on the blog. This was played by one of his students recently, who has a current USCF rating of 900. The game’s sophistication is probably a thousand points stronger at least- what do you think?
For those of you who don’t recognize the “bo nu s?” graphic, it’s from this forgotten alternate reality game which I was obsessed with years ago. After scanning the forums, it seems the trail has gone cold.
I’ve been annotating a high-level Sicilian game for a new post for a while now, but I got jealous seeing everyone else’s winning games being blogged about in the meantime, while I had a disastrous score in my recent games, so I couldn’t show anything- neither the annotated game was ready nor my own game was available…that is, until last week, when I finally won a game in the Commercial Chess League, and it was quite a nice one, especially the finish of it- it’s Black to play and force a win!
The thing with all these puzzles is, they may be not that hard when someone tells you that this actually is a puzzle and you’re winning and you have to find that one move in a given position. But during the game there’s nobody standing right by you to tell you that! So it is often possible to miss these chances, especially when the moves aren’t obvious , ‘natural’ reactions (captures etc.), or moves contradicting your common sense which works 99% of the time. So I was glad to spot the winning move here and was stunned for a second- could it really work? After a minute or two I decided it was winning because of the geometry of all the open lines. What helped me was that I had actually been looking at lots of tactics with my students prior to this game, so it was easier ‘to see the light’ .Solving tactics daily helps, listen to your chess doctor! If you’re not seeing it yet, check the game below- no annotations today, just a plain game to replay.
Last night, Pavel and I trekked out to the Queens Chess Club to check it out. The club meets in the basement of a church every Friday night, where they have tons of space. There were 8 teams registered to play, though their space could easily hold twice as many. Pairings are done by hand, and the round started more than half an hour late, but no one seemed to notice or complain and overall everyone seemed to know each other.
My game ended in a draw, though I had several simple winning plans that I missed, I’m just too much of a wimp to allow my opponent’s rook to start capturing pawns on the kingside of the board, though my engine shows it’s winning. Meh… Pavel won his again against Dolly Teasley, so as a team we won our round. Obviously, I want nothing more than to win the Queens Chess Club Team Championship and take the title home to Brooklyn where it belongs. Wish us luck in the next three rounds.