Friday, September 30, 2005

Chess Box

Chess Heroes

In the absence of a formal national chess training program in the United States, bringing the game to new generations of potential players usually depends on the interest and passion of local volunteers. Here are pieces on two such individuals:

'Chess guy' spreads his gift for the game (Kansas)

Ouwinga leaves chess legacy (Michigan)

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Insight leads to improvement

Most chess instructors emphasize the importance of annotating your own games to find opportunities you missed and uncover flaws in your thinking process. In that vein, Praha in Spring shares one of his recent games. What did he learn?


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Tandem Live Blogging: Boston vs. San Francisco

Welcome everyone to another night of Boston Blitz chess action! We're starting a little later tonight as the Blitz are taking on the far western representative of the USCL, the San Francisco Mechanics. It may be dark here, but the sun is still shining brightly in California, that is assuming that San Francisco isn't covered in clouds and fog.

Coming into tonight's match the Blitz find themselves in third place in the Eastern Division after being crushed 3.5-0.5 last week by the Baltimore Kingfishers. The Mechanics are also in third place in their division coming off a 2.5-1.5 win against the Miami Sharks.

As for the individual match-ups, it's another top-heavy vs. balanced battle this evening. On Board 1, Boston's IM Eugene Perelshteyn takes in a 100+ point rating advantage and the white pieces against IM John Donaldson. IM Josh Friedel stays on Board 2 and faces what's likely to be a competitive game with FM Dimitry Zilberstein. On Board 3, soon to be new Boylston Chess Club Champion NM Charles Riordan will have an uphill battle against FM David Pruess. And finally, we'll see Ilya Krasik with the Black pieces against NM Andy Lee on Board 4. The Blitz bring in an average rating of 2362 vs. the Mechanics' 2385.

We have a little twist planned for tonight's coverage. Both Rihel and DG will be commenting on the games. You'll find Rihel's notes in green and DG's in whatever this color looks like on your monitor. This should be interesting.

Now, before we begin, let's take a short break for station identification:

This is BCC Weblog -
Your independent source for coverage of
the Boston Blitz and the United States Chess League

Alright, we're off to the action on the ICC.


Hi everyone! Let me jump right in, DG, and say that I am curious about the line-up tonight. I think that the Blitz really have a tough match-up tonight. I'm guessing that Board 4 Krasik will need to pull out a WIN to give the Blitz a good chance to win. That being said, I wonder why Charles isn't on Board 4 tonight, with maybe MacIntyre on Board 3. Krasik is proving to be underrated, but Charles would be a good matchup on Board 4 tonight.

Well, Jason, the only problem with that option is that Friedel wouldn't be able to play since the Blitz would overstep the average rating requirement. As I posted earlier this week, this was definitely a week when the team needed to consider the merits of both top-heavy and balanced line-up options. Obviously, they chose to stick with the top-heavy approach.

In my view, this match is likely to come down to Boards 2 & 4. Eugene just has to win on Board 1 for the Blitz to have a chance and if they get anything from Riordan it will be gravy. So I figure they need 1.5 pts from Friedel and Krasik; problem is, they both have Black. If Krasik really is underrated then tonight would be a great night to breakthrough against a "low-rated" master.

Well, they are a bit slow in getting started, so let me make a quick comment on the World Championships -- Leko lost to Topalov as White in a very exciting game. Also, Judit Polgar lost to Anand as White in a strange game. She seemed surprised out of the opening and chose a dubious plan.

If I could play twice as dubiously as Judit, I'd be thrilled!


OK, let's take a look at the openings. On Board 2, Friedel is on the Black side on an Open Ruy; 11 moves in and it's all theory so far. Over on Board 3, Riordan is facing a Semi-Slav, but he responded with the unusual move 5.Qd3.

And on Board One we have an Accelerated Dragon position, and on Board four, Krasik responded to a Classical KID setup with Bg4. I am not familiar with that particular line, but Chessbase will show us the way in a few minutes.


After 8...b4 by Pruess, I found 10 games that reached this position. On the White side names like Rubinetti, Epishin, Speelman and Gurevich; for Black -- Sveshnikov, Oll, Wells and Fontaine.

Well, as I thought, according to Chessbase, Bg4 by Board 4 Krasik is an unusual move, played only about 100 times in the database of 4 million games. This does not mean that it is a bad move, though—in past encounters, White has scored badly (based on games in the database.) In fact, the particular line being played has White with a 22% score, which includes draws! This could very well be some home cooking by Krasik tonight!

Board 1 is on more familiar ground, with the game in “book” through 19. a3. Donaldson’s reply 19… h5, however, appears in the database exactly once, Yoos-Taylor, 1996. A more common reply here was 19…a5 or 19… Be5, although it seems that many other moves have been tried.


Board 3 is looking pretty equal. I think Riordan let his opponent off the hook by immediately trading off on c5. Now Black's bishops look impressive on the a8-h1 and a7-g1 diagonals. Over on Board 2 they are 15 moves in and while I haven't looked it up, I wouldn't be surprised if it's still in theory.

Perelshteyn looks fine to me, eventhough Black has the a-file. And it's still really early on Board 4 where Krasik is setting up to chip away at White's center. Any thoughts, JR?

Board 1 is still following the Yoos-Taylor game until 21…Ne6. It looks like Eugene is spending a lot of time in the position already, 38 minutes to 60 minutes for Donaldson. While I like White’s position here, the time could become a factor later on.

On Board 4, let’s consider the point of the early trade of light squared Bishop. In Classical KID positions, Blacks light squared B can be hard to develop properly. By trading it for White’s Knight, that problem is solved. Now, I suspect White will try to make his center dominate, giving his extra Bishops more space, while Black may try to keep it closed, letting the Knights have their way. Of course, Black has the strong fianchettoed dark-square Bishop, which could become a monster if lines open up. So I guess Black is going to pry the center open, carefully.

I have to say, I like the Blitz's positions here on Boards 1 and 4 so far.


There are pieces hanging all over Board 3 after 16...Nb6. But now it looks like everybody got out of harm's way without captures. I must say that Black looks more active and Riordan's Queen looks funny on b5 surrounded by Black's minor pieces.

I understand that both Donaldson and Perelshteyn are experts on the Accelerated Dragon. An interesting struggle for theory on Board 1 ???

Board 3 has started to become very interesting, I agree. I also think that Black must be better here. After 18... Be4, where is White going to put his queen?


Action on Board 2 where Zilberstein has sacked the exchange for an attack against f7. I think Josh might be in real trouble after 22.Qxd8. After 22…Rexd8 23.Nxf7 looks good.

On Board 3, I guess Charles could have played to Qa6 after Be4, but now, after 18…a5, that queen is seriously running out of room. Ba6 is a threat. At the very least, Black will gain a number of tempi as Charles tries to get the queen out of danger. Plus, Black really has no weaknesses for White to exploit.

Yes, Riordan's position does look shaky and Friedel's as well. Josh took with the other rook, Raxd8. Now Black is thinking about which piece to capture with on f7 (at least that's what I would be thinking about). Board 4 is starting to open up a bit also, but I'm not sure it's to anyone's advantage yet.


Looking at Board 4, I feel that White is starting to get a slight pull. The position is starting to open up in favor of White’s Bishop pair, as White has claimed more queenside space. True, Black’s Bishop is eying the Knight on c3 and Rook on a1, but once those pieces clear the long diagonal, the Bishop will hit nothing important. Still, there is a lot of tension in the position, and anything can happen.

So, overall, I only have a good feeling about Eugene's position on Board 1. The others are starting to look shaky, with Krasik losing the thread a little, but still holding a decent position.

I don't know, Jason. Lee's c-pawn might turn out to be weak and Krasik might be able to put more pressure on it or somehow trade it for his backward d-pawn.

Ok, DG, let's duke it out! On Board 4, 19. b5 is going to be a tough move, if played. After 19 b5 axb5 20. Nxb5 Qb8 21. f4, white will get a firm plus. It is the d pawn that is weak, not the c pawn. True, Black can try down the a-file, but that is going to take some moves to reorganize. Meanwhile, White is going to break open the center.

On Board 3, is Charles managing to get out of the complications OK? I still like black, but White is putting up some tough resistance in a tricky position.


Jason, you seem pretty passionate about your convictions on Board 4 so I'll just watch to see what happens.

Hold on! Did Zilberstein just blunder? After 25.Bg5, can’t Friedel just take on d6 twice? Wait, maybe not. After 25…Bxd6, then 26.Bxf6 gxf6 27. Rd1 and White can keep piling up on the pinned rook with Ne3, if necessary.

As for Board 3, I still think you need to like Black's position with those two rooks on the open files and two active bishops.

Whoa! On board 4, Krasik just sacked his Rook for the Exchange on c4. I don’t understand this move. Doesn’t it just drop the pawn on d6 after 21…. Qxc4 22. Rxd6? If now 22…Qxb4, 23. e5! So 22…bxa4 23. Rc1 threatens e5, so 23….e5 and 24. Qxa4. Black is an exchange down with no comp.

I'll take a look, DG, now at the Zilberstein game and see what is what.


No Rxd6 on Board 4 as you suggested, but Black's in big trouble anyways. Still down the exchange and now his b5 pawn has fallen. It's not looking good for the Blitz here.


Alright, let's do a quick rundown of the positions. I still like Eugene on Board 1. Josh looks like he might be wriggling out on Board 2, but he still has those doubled pawns and a bad bishop to worry about. Blitz fans shouldn't expect more than a 1/2 pt. here.

Riordan's hanging in there, but no more than that. And Krasik looks to be in a heap of trouble. Right now, I say the Blitz are looking at 2-2 in a best case scenario. Of course, time trouble can change everything!


Board 1 is over! Perelshteyn wins! 1-0 Blitz.

That was a nice clear game from the beginning. GO Blitz! It looks like that will be 1-1, as Krasik is on his last legs on Board 4. It all comes down to Boards 2 and 3 -- I think Friedel is worse, looking at White's dangerous b pawn, but maybe he can pull one out in time pressure. Charles is holding, but time pressure is going to decide that game one way or the other.

Friedel is only slightly worse according to Fritz, after 37. Kf1. I bet it is a drawn endgame now. Black’s advanced King and Pawns hold the balance here. Charles looks fine now, with a lot of play in the position, but time is a major factor now.


Board 2 is a draw by repitition. Friedel managed to extricate himself from a position that looked bad earlier on. So that's 1.5-0.5 Blitz, though the Mechanics are probably going to tie it up on Board 4.

Riordan is down to two minutes. The Blitz are likely going to need him to hold on if they want to avoid another loss.


I think that Charles is coming out better! He has the opportunity to play, 45. Nxe5, winning a pawn. DG, am I hallucinating?

Instead, Charles takes the Knight on d4 with his rook, sacking the exhange. The action is flying, and I can't post and watch at the same time. DG, help me, what is going on?

Yes, we are going to have to look at Nxe5 after the game. Maybe Riordan thought the exchange sack offered better winning chances. He's got 2 pawns for it now, so maybe his idea is sound. Of course time trouble ensures that neither side will play this ending perfectly.

I just whipped out Fritz on this game, I couldn't help myself -- it gives Charles an advantage after the queen trade of +1.00 He is in good shape here, if he can manage his time.


Krasik just resigned on Board 4. That evens it up at 1.5 each. I said at the beginning that anything Riordan provided would be gravy; well Boston Blitz, it's gravy time!

After Rc2+, the IMs in the gallery are suggesting that Charles might be in trouble.


After 65…Ra3, Fritz calls this position a dead draw. We’ll see what happens. We always have to be careful with Fritz, especially in endgames. I am running 6 piece tablebases, which does boost Fritz’s endgame power tremendously, though.


Well, right after I said that, I check again and Fritz tilts strongly towards Black. Of course, Black can't lose now, so Charles is going to be tortured with this position for a while until there is no more play. Black is in good shape to pull out a win.

At this point, Riordan is not going to win. Best we can hope for is a drawn match.

After 81.Bb7, Fritz is firmly in the draw evaluation! It hovered back and forth, with Pruess perhaps missing a forced win earlier on, but now it says draw. I think Charles has it now, too, as Black cannot prevent white from trading the B for the h pawn and then shuffling the a pawn forward with the king. Great game so far by Charles to hold on!


That’s it, Riordan draws. It’s a drawn match as well 2-2.

Well, the Blitz managed to squeeze out a draw tonight. It was certainly an exciting finish, but another disappointment for the team overall. Eugene did his job and Charles managed a half point against strong opposition. However, at the top I said that Boston needed 1.5 points out of Boards 2 & 4 and that just didn’t happen. Josh could easily have lost (I think) but played well enough to secure a draw. Ilya went down again.

I hope the Blitz take the next few days to do a serious rethink about their approach to these matches. It seems clear at this point that what they are doing, so far, is not going to be enough to make the playoffs.

WoW! A stressful but well earned draw from this match. Coming into this match as slight underdogs, I think that a drawn match is a good result. A misstep on Board 2 was neutralized by the great tenaciousness that Charles showed on Board 3. I am not so sure that the approach of the team is at fault here. If Josh had a better night at Board 2, then Charles's great toughness on Board 3 would have paid off. With Eugene anchoring the top board with a very nice win, this lineup had every chance to win this round. True, Krasik underperformed on Board 4, it looks like he miscalculated with his Exchange sac, but I don't see how the team would have fared much better with a different lineup. Then again, Charles is proving to be solid on Board 3, maybe against weaker opponents on Board 4, he could notch up some wins for the Blitz. Even still, in almost all imagined scenarios, there is a relative rating hole at Board 3, leaving lots of pressue on Board 1 and 2. Why not give those Boards the best chances to win, and leave Boards 3 and 4 as underdogs who are also perhaps underrated?

Anyway, I have to say, DG, that I had a blast! I don’t know how you commented on 4 games at once by yourself. Thanks for having me on, and I'm looking forward to trying it again.

Thanks Jason. We'll see you all next week for more USCL and Boston Blitz action. Good night everyone.

BCC Championship - Another Round 2 Game

Natasha Christiansen nicks Alex Cherniack for half a point in a minor upset.

[Event "2005 BCC Championship"] [Site "Somerville, MA"] [Date "2005.09.19"] [Round "2"] [White "Christiansen,N"] [Black "Cherniack"] [Result "1/2"] [WhiteELO "1810"] [BlackELO "2279"] [ECO "D02"]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 d5 3.Bf4 c5 4.c3 Qb6 5.Qb3 c4 6.Qc2 g6 7.Nbd2 Bf5 8.Qc1 Nc6 9.h3 Bg7 10.e3 0-0 11.Be2 Nd7 12.e4 Bxe4 13.Nxe4 dxe4 14.Nd2 e5

15.Nxc4 Qd8 16.dxe5 Ndxe5 17.Nxe5 Nxe5 18.Bxe5 Bxe5 19.Qe3 Qc7 20.0-0 Rfe8 21.Bb5 Bf4 22.Qe2 Re7 23.Rad1 Kg7 24.Rd5 Rd8 25.Rxd8 Qxd8 26.Rd1 Qb6 27.Rd7 Rxd7 28.Bxd7 Qd6 29.Ba4 Qe7 30.Bc2 e3 31.fxe3 Bxe3+ 32.Kf1 f5 33.Bb3 f4 34.Qc4 Kh6 35.Qf7 Qe4 36.Qf8+ Kh5 37.Bd1+ Kh4

38.Qf6+ Kg3 39.Qg5+ Kh2 40.Qg4 Bc1 41.Qf3 Qc4+ 42.Be2 Qc5 43.Qf2 Qxf2+ 44.Kxf2 Bxb2 45.Bf3 b6 46.c4 Bd4+ 47.Kf1 h6 48.Be4 g5 49.Bf3 Kg3 50.a4 Bc5 51.Bh5 Kh4 52.Bg4 h5 53.Bf3 g4 54.hxg4 hxg4 55.Bc6 Kg3 56.Bd5 Kh2 57.Be4 Kg3 58.Bd5 f3 59.gxf3 gxf3 60.Bb7 Kf4 61.Bd5 Ke3 62.Bc6 f2 63.Bd7 Kd2 64.Bb5 Kc2 65.Ke2 Kb3 66.Kf1 Kb4 67.Ke2 Ka5 68.Kf1 a6

69.Bc6 Kb4 70.Bb7 b5 71.cxb5 a5 72.b6 Kxa4 73.Bc6+ Kb4 74.b7 Ba7 75.b8Q+ Bxb8 76.Kxf2 a4 77.Bxa4 ½-½

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

One is the loneliest number

Find out more...

Wednesday 8:30pm EDT [GMT-4], here at BCC Weblog.

National Open Attendance

In Jerry Hanken's article on the 2005 National Open -- "Las Vegas International Chess Festival: Gurevich Triumphant in National Open" (Chess Life, September 2005) -- he mentions the following almost in passing before moving on to the winners and the games:
The National Open attendance, 703, was somewhat off from last year's, as has been the case with almost every large tournament this year.
If it is true that attendance has been off at almost every large tournament this year (and I have no reason to believe it is not true), then this seems like an issue deserving of more attention. Here are some hypotheses that might explain this phenomenon:
  1. The Conventional Perspective: The convenience of on-line chess is drawing people away from OTB tournaments.

  2. The Maurice Effect: Many players who made the financial and time commitment to play in the HB Global Chess Challenge have cut back on other tournament activities to conserve both.

  3. The Beatrice Syndrome: People finally have had enough with USCF shenanigans and are starting to vote with their feet.
What do you think? Any other ideas? International readers, are you seeing the same trend in attendance in your major OTB events?

No rest for the weary

“When you play chess alone it’s always your move.” -- Charles Simic from his poem 'School for Visionaries.'

Hat Tip: Life Sentences

Monday, September 26, 2005

Ball game? Board game?

From "Fun starts when the 'chess' ends" at
On Match of the Day Hansen described Liverpool's draw at St Andrew's as a "magnificent" game; Green spent all afternoon telling Radio 5 Live listeners it was "awful".

In truth it was somewhere in the middle. The first-half chess match gave way to a wild game of draughts in the second, and both sets of fans went home happy.

Boston Blitz in Action #1

From the US Chess League Round 1 match vs. the New York Knights. Click on the pictures to enlarge. (Photos by Matt Phelps)

IM Eugene Perelshteyn

FM Bill Kelleher

Ilya Krasik

Theological Chess

“In an attempt to secure the sovereignty of God, theologians have overstated their case and left us with a chess-player God playing both sides of the board, making all his moves and all ours too....” John Eldredge, Wild at Heart

Sunday, September 25, 2005

C is for Championship

It looks like it's going to be one of those crazy years at the BCC Championship. After a number of withdrawals both before and after the first round, the line-up for this year's championship has been significantly re-worked. Here is the current list of contestants:

FM Paul MacIntyre (2315)
NM Charles Riordan (2283)
NM Alex Cherniack (2279)
NM Vadim Martirosov (2239)
Carey Theil (1991)
Kyle Clayton (1888)
Natasha Christiansen (1810)

Several first round games need to be rescheduled to catch everyone up through two rounds (I'm not sure if they've taken place yet or not). I also suspect that the Klegon-MacIntyre game from Round 1 is not going to count in the standings. And if that isn't enough, apparently the MacIntyre-Theil encounter resulted in a forfeit win for Carey when Paul failed to show up for the game.

What are the standings at this point? Who knows.

I did get one second round game score from Bernardo. As you will see below, the weirdness continues as an encounter between two masters results in a 15-move miniature.

[Event "2005 BCC Championship"] [Site "Somerville, MA"] [Date "2005.09.19"] [Round "2"] [White "Martirosov"] [Black "Riordan"] [Result "0-1"] [WhiteELO "2239"] [BlackELO "2283"] [ECO "A70"]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.c4 c5 4.d5 d6 5.Nc3 exd5 6.cxd5 g6 7.e4 a6 8.Bf4 b5 9.Qe2 Be7 10.e5 dxe5 11.Bxe5 Nbd7 12.Bc7

12...Qxc7 13.0-0-0 0-0 14.Qxe7 Re8 15.d6 Qa5 0-1

C is for, what's looking to be, a Chaotic and Crazy Chess Club Championship!

Related Posts: 2005 BCC Championship - 1st Round - Championship Season Redux

Saturday, September 24, 2005

The USCL and the Blogosphere

Greg Shahade penned a piece on coverage of the USCL in the chess blogosphere for the official US Chess League site. He's missing a word in the second paragraph (probably "coverage"), but based on the time stamps of a few of the e-mails he's sent me I'm guessing he probably wrote the article between 4 and 5 in the morning.

Greg mentions the coverage here at BCC Weblog as well as an overview piece at The Kenilworthian. In addition to these two, you can find weekly summaries at Chess News and Events and single posts from The Closet Grandmaster and

Update: A new post today on the USCL and BCC Weblog coverage from

Friday, September 23, 2005

New Inductees

The Knights are beginning another of their periodic growth spurts. In the last week Tempo has discovered Montse and SiliconPawn. Stop by and wish them luck with their chess improvement efforts.

A Balanced Blitz?

In team matches with an average rating ceiling (like the US Chess League) there are two basic strategies for composing a line-up. In the top heavy approach, you put much higher than average rated players on the top boards and balance things out with much lower than average rated players on the bottom boards. In a four board match, the winning strategy for this type of team is to win the games on Boards 1 and 2 and hope for a draw out of either board 3 or 4 -- this is how the Blitz defeated the Cobras. However, it is not uncommon for the match to be drawn 2-2 if the lower boards fail to score -- see the Blitz vs. the Masterminds. And, of course, if your top boards fail to do their job, well then, all hell breaks loose like last week's debacle against Baltimore.

The alternative approach to team composition is a balanced strategy. Choose four players who all group reasonably closely around the average rating ceiling. With this strategy, you are typically accepting underdog status on board 1, but in compensation you are a favorite on board 4 and very competitive in the middle. Last week's line-up for the Kingfishers was structured exactly this way with ratings of 2506, 2453, 2331 and 2309.

This coming week against the San Francisco Mechanics, the Blitz are likely to face a similar line-up. San Francisco doesn't have any 2600 players on their roster and, while they don't have any 2300 players either, they will by definition field an all-master team. Consider the ratings of the team that upset Miami last week -- 2442, 2435, 2432 and 2209. The key question for the Blitz this week is whether to stick with the top heavy strategy or try to field an all-master line-up of their own.

The problem that the Blitz face is that their roster is not well structured for this type of balanced approach. Team captain Paul MacIntyre admitted to me that not much thought was put into the team composition issue when the roster was initially created, although to be fair, it's not as if we have a large supply of 2300+ players around the Boston area to choose from. In any case, I played around in Excel for awhile and identified the only 3 possible options for the Blitz to field an all-master team.

Option #1: Foygel - 2490, Friedel - 2447, MacIntyre - 2316, Riordan - 2272; Average = 2389

Option #2: Christiansen - 2596, Kelleher - 2383, MacIntyre - 2316, Riordan - 2272; Average = 2392

Option #3: Perelshteyn - 2576, Kelleher - 2383, MacIntyre - 2316, Riordan - 2272; Average = 2387

Option #1 looks most intriguing to me and would probably lead to competitive encounters with San Francisco across all four boards. The other two options seem to be twists on the top-heavy strategy -- strong on Boards 1 & 4, weaker in the middle. In a couple of days we'll see what the Blitz come up with for this Wednesday's match.

Armed Forces Championship


Thursday, September 22, 2005

Focus on what you do best

Some people are natural chess masters; others are born singers; I'm a gifted dead animal carcass remover.
Read "Roadkill Warrior" from Utter Wonder.

Sometimes you just have to go

Translation programs on the web often give amusing results. Consider this post about the rules of the game of chess from the Italian Blog Scacchierando. Under the section on draws, a Google translation of the page produces this gem:

When one of the King is found in "stall"

So apparently if you are losing the game, all you need to do is pick up your King off the board and take it to the toilet with you.

Obviously, the correct translation would have been something like 'When one of the Kings is in "Stalemate".'

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Live Blogging: US Chess League - Week 4

Welcome chess fans to BCC Weblog coverage of the USCL. Tonight the Boston Blitz face off against their Eastern Division rivals the Baltimore Kingfishers.

BCC Weblog coverage of the USCL is brought to you by... well, it's not brought to you by anyone, actually. Hey, what do you expect; even the NHL has a hard time getting sponsors.

The Blitz broke through last week against the Carolina Cobras for their first win of the season and now find themselves tied for first with New York in the Eastern Division. While the Kingfishers stand a half-point behind, they look to pose a considerable challenge to the Blitz. Baltimore is starting a very strong and balanced line-up across all four boards, headed by IM Pascal Charbonneau and featuring 2300 players on both boards 3 and 4. The Blitz counter with GM Larry Christiansen and IM Josh Friedel up top; they are both 2-0 in these positions the last two weeks. On the lower boards, Boston faces significant rating gaps with NM Charles Riordan (in his debut match with the Blitz) and Ilya Krasik. Of course if ratings is all that mattered, they wouldn't play the games!

So, let's head out to the virtual boards on the ICC.

7:59pm: Before we take a look at the early positions, I want to offer my thanks to League Commissioner Greg Shahade for securing me an ICC login for the remainder of the season. As a result, starting this week I'll be able to watch and report on the GM games live. So, let's start out with the Christiansen-Charbonneau match-up. It's an open Sicilian; looks like Black is aiming for a Dragon, though White didn't go in for the sharp lines with queenside castling. To be honest, I really don't know any theory in this area, so I'm not going to be of much help on this one for awhile.

8:12pm: Enkhbat-Friedel looks a bit unorthodox, starting out 1.Nf3 Nc6 2.d4 d5 3.Bf4 Bg4. I guess I'd call it some sort of a Chigorin Defense since White did eventually play c4.

After 1.Nf3 c5, Riordan chose to transpose into the Open Sicilian -- a quiet one so far with White fianchettoing the bishop on g2 and castling kingside. Black is calmly developing behind pawns on d6 and e6.

On Board 4 we have another opening I don't know much about. It's a Symmetrical English 1.c4 c5, but beyond that I can't tell you much more.

Let's watch for awhile and see what develops.

8:44pm: Krasik looks to be building a nice position on Board 4. On the downside he has an isolated pawn on c6 that might become weak at some point, but in compensation his two bishops are very active and on nice diagonals and they are cooperating well with his Rb8 in bringing pressure to White's queenside. Meanwhile, White's pieces seem fairly passive at the moment.

8:55pm: Larry is pushing the action on Board 1 with 15.e5. Beats the heck out of me how this break is going to turn out, but it certainly looks like we've reached the first real critical point in this game.

9:03pm: Pascal has offered a Knight sacrifice with 18...Nxe5!? Does it work?

9:14pm: A series of exchanges has ensued on Board 4, but it looks like White may have gotten the best of it. I'm not sure Black can save his Knight on c1 after 20.Rd2. If 20...Nd3, then 21.e4 looks strong.

9:23pm: Board 2 is looking a bit crazy. Friedel has his King stuck in the center on e2 and a pawn or two hanging, but he seems to be ignoring all that and just sending his pieces towards Black's kingside. If I was Black I guess I would think I was better, but I'd still be nervous. NOTE: I got the colors mixed up. Friedel was playing Black, not White.

Over on Board 3, everyone's keeping their pieces on their side of the board. No action to speak of yet.

9:30pm: Larry took the knight after trading a pair of bishops. Now let's see what Pascal thinks he has for the piece.

9:42pm: Krasik has been forced to give up a piece. I guess he's going to try to secure a couple of pawns as partial compensation, but things are definitely not looking good for the Blitz on Board 4.

9:57pm: Board 1 has stayed interesting -- Larry has given back the Knight and executed a series of exchanges that may leave him with a better minor piece ending (outside passer). But I'm not sure that he will come out a pawn ahead.

Board 2 is still crazy and Board 3 is going to be offered by prescription as an alternative to Ambien. Of course, time trouble is coming...

10:06pm: Krasik gives up; that's 1-0 Kingfishers. Meanwhile, Riordan's game is starting to pick up.

10:15pm: Friedel's done it again! He's managed to come out the other side of the complications up a piece in an ending. Look for a point for the Blitz coming soon. Note: My mistake -- actually Friedel came out on the losing side.

Larry and Pascal are in an ending, even material; Larry has the outside passed c-pawn vs. Pascal's passed e-pawn. I'm guessing its drawn with best play, but we'll see.

And suddenly on Board 3, Riordan's major pieces have become quite active.

10:24pm: Good news, bad news... Friedel scores the point, evening the score at 1 a piece. But Larry looks like he made a mistake. I don't know if he's lost, but he's definitely not coming out with more than 1/2 a point. Note: Make that bad news, bad news. Friedel actually lost; Kingfishers 2-0.

10:44pm: Board 3 is starting to look pretty drawish -- even pawns, opposite color bishops. It looks like Larry is going to have to find a way to salvage a draw to keep this match even. He's down a bishop now, but Black has only one pawn left -- an h-pawn and its the wrong color for the bishop. If Larry can trade the rooks it's a draw; if he can win or trade off the h-pawn, then R+B vs. R is also a theoretical draw. Note: Even a draw won't be enough for the Blitz. Sorry I had the Friedel game wrong.

11:16pm: Well, that's it. Riordan's game resolved into a bishops of opposite colors ending and was drawn. Larry, meanwhile, was forced to resign against Pascal. Final score: Kingfishers 3.5 Blitz 0.5.

It just wasn't the Blitz's night tonight. Against a strong balanced lineup like Baltimore's, Boston needed a strong showing on the top boards which they didn't get. Larry had his chances but went astray in the ending and Josh wasn't able to successfully maneuver his way through the complications. This esentially sealed the team's fate. If there's one ray of light in this lopsided loss, it was Riordan's solid play on Board 3 against a higher rated opponent.

Next week the Blitz will look for a rebound when they face the San Francisco Mechanics.

A Programming Note: Next week we'll be taking USCL coverage to a new level at BCC Weblog with the introduction of interactive commentary. Join Rihel and me next Wednesday as we follow the action in tandem. And hopefully next time I can keep the colors straight!

Surreal Chess


A programming note...

Surf on by between 7-11pm EDT [GMT-4] for BCC Weblog coverage of week 4 of the US Chess League. Tonight, the first-place Boston Blitz take on the Baltimore Kingfishers. Follow the action on the ICC and here at BCC Weblog.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Naming Conventions

The international chess scene is not really my beat, but this one is local for at least some readers:

I was looking at the crosstable for the recently concluded Dutch Championship and began to wonder whether IM Spike Ernst ever opened 1.g4 with White. But then I thought, who cares, at least I know what Frito Nijboer's favorite snack food is.

Chess Racing

I'm not sure how The Closet Grandmaster missed this Aussie chess bit:
The AJC today received 3 late entries for the $600,000 Epsom Handicap and 1 late entry for the $600,000 Metropolitan. Gai Waterhouse has nominated the promising Chess Record, a winner of 4 of his only 7 starts, for the Epsom...
Read "Gai Enters Chess Record and Our Highlander in Sydney Features" from The Virtual Form Guide.

Monday, September 19, 2005

On Independent Coverage of the US Chess League

An Open Response to Ilya Krasik

I would like to thank Ilya for his comment to my post on the US Chess League match between the Boston Blitz and Carolina Cobras. The issues that he raises provide me the opportunity to share my perspectives on what I’ve been trying to do by offering coverage of the league.

But before we start, I wanted to first respond to the implied suggestion that I am somehow trying to disguise my identity as a poster on BCC Weblog. This, I believe, is suggested in Ilya’s comment as well as those by JavaMaster and jim,s (For the record, I will point out that the comments of all three emanate from the same IP address. I will leave it up to each reader to interpret the meaning of this as they see fit.)

While I do use only my initials on the blog, this actually has more to do with branding within the chess blogosphere than any attempt to hide my identity. It provides an easy to remember, recognized moniker for other bloggers to use when linking to my posts or otherwise referring to me. This is actually quite common in the blogosphere – while we know the name of the person who was behind Man De La Maza, we all call him Don; the same is true of J’adoube, Tempo and many others. In fact, I’m quite sure that most of the frequent readers of the blog know my actual name. It probably takes only about a minute or two of searching around the web to figure it out. Ilya/JavaMaster/jim,s, since you might not be inclined to take that time let me make it easier for you. Here are four simple ways to get my name:
  1. Check the list of Boylston Chess Club members. Look for people with the initials DG.

  2. Ask the team captain of the Boston Blitz. He happens to be the President of the BCC and he certainly knows who runs the blog.

  3. Click the link to the 2004 BCC Championship Weblog. Not only will you find my name listed numerous times, there’s also a picture or two to check out.

  4. Click on the link under “Contact” on the sidebar and send an e-mail to BCCAdmin. I’ll be happy to send you my name.
To summarize, I am not hiding behind a pseudonym. I stand behind everything I write in this blog – good or bad, right or wrong – and I have always welcomed the criticisms of readers.

Now, let me start by reprinting Ilya’s comment unedited and in full:
Indeed the sound was off, and i played at the computer console for the last our because of lack of time. I was looking on the board which was maximized not on the small line on the bottom where i would see "DRAW". It was an exhausting game both physically and mentally as i had managed(again) to squander what was a winning game. Then i was worse and had to make precise moves not to lose in the time scramble that followed, and not to let my team down. I didnt feel that i took unnessary risks, although because of time pressure which sometimes got down to 30 sec, and nerves the game became marred in mistakes. Whoever is blogging here has no clue what's going on, both in terms of actual positions and also in terms of his personal attacks. I would only say that if you live in the Boston area and would really like to see what's going on, come down to MCC in Natick and support our team. Also, it is free to watch on ICC, (with the exception of live GM games).

As for the wise-ass blogger over here i would like to stress that he has no affiliation with our team in any shape or form and is simply acting like a bafoon out for silly publicity. I do not know why he decided to single one person out for the team's results but i can assure you that this is not the kind of attitude present on the team itself.

Because it is a new league, we are still learning and adjusting every week to changes that need to be made. I had wanted to have the sound on, so that we dont miss a move when it is made, however i was overuled because it was decided that it would be a distraction to other players. Of course when only one game remains the sound should be turned on and we will fix that. Take care
In order to respond to Ilya’s points, I would first like to establish a metaphor which I think will be helpful in understanding my perspective. Think of the USCL as Major League Baseball, both after all are sports leagues in the United States that are national in scope (let’s debate whether chess is a sport at another time, and yes I know there is still one Canadian team left in Baseball). Now think of the Boston Blitz as the Boston Red Sox – both are the teams that represent the region around Boston, Massachusetts. Ok, now I need you to keep an open mind. Think of USCL coverage in the chess blogosphere as equivalent to the sports pages of the Boston Herald, the Big Show on WEEI SportsRadio, and/or RemDawg’s color commentary during the games on NESN. You see, what I am experimenting with is establishing independent media coverage of the USCL – emphasis on the word “independent.” My posts to date have reflected several different approaches that I am trying, e.g., fan newsletter, straight reporting, real-time color commentary.

I am very intrigued by this concept and think it offers growth potential opportunities for both the USCL and the chess blogosphere. In fact, I have had discussions with league comissioner Greg Shahade about this very idea. We talked about recruiting bloggers to cover each of teams, providing bloggers “inside” access, and promoting this independent coverage on the USCL site. These are all things that probably won’t happen this year, but could be part of year two if we (the league and the blogging community) put some energy and focus into it.

Please keep this metaphor – Major League Baseball and its independent media coverage – in mind as I discuss Ilya’s specific comments. I will come back to it often.

Whoever is blogging here has no clue what's going on…in terms of actual positions…

While I’m not entirely sure what Ilya is saying here, I think he is suggesting that I am not a strong enough player to be commenting on these games and that my descriptions and assessments are incorrect. First, let’s deal with the facts. Based on ratings I am, in fact, not as strong a player as Ilya or anyone else playing for the Boston Blitz (or probably for any other USCL team for that matter). To underscore the point, let me share my one OTB encounter with Ilya which, as you’ll see, he won quite easily:

Krasik,I (2148) - DG (1981)
BCC April TNS Somerville, MA (2), 14.04.2005
D36: Queen's Gambit Declined: Exchange Variation: Main line (5 Bg5 c6 6 Qc2)

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 c6 4.Nc3 e6 5.cxd5 exd5 6.Qc2 g6 7.Bg5 Be7 8.e3 Bf5 9.Bd3 Bxd3 10.Qxd3 0-0 11.Bxf6 Bxf6 12.h4 Nd7 13.h5 Re8 14.hxg6 hxg6 15.0-0-0 Kg7 16.g4 Qe7 17.Rdg1 Bg5 18.Rh5 gxh5 19.gxh5

19...Kh6? [critical was 19...f6 20.Nh4 Qe6] 20.Nxg5 Qxg5 21.Rxg5 Kxg5 22.Qh7 Kf6 23.e4 Nb6 24.Qh6+ Ke7 25.e5 Rad8 26.Qf6+ Kd7 27.Qxf7+ Re7 28.Qf6 Rg8 29.Ne2 Rg2 30.Ng3 Re6 31.Qf7+ Re7 32.e6+ Kd8 33.Qf8+ Re8 34.Qf6+ Kc7 35.b3 Nc8 36.h6 Rh2 37.Qf7+ Re7 38.Qf4+ Kb6 39.Qf6 Rh7 40.Qd8+ Ka6 41.Qxc8 R2xh6 42.b4 Rf6 43.Qd8 1-0

However, it seems ridiculous to me to suggest that players with lower ratings are automatically disqualified from commenting and reporting on the games of high rated players. It’s the same as suggesting that Peter Gammons shouldn’t be able to write about baseball since he was never a major league ballplayer.

Further, most readers of the blog know they aren’t reading commentary from a master. I have never hidden my strength (or lack thereof) from the readers; in fact, I have posted about it (by the way, you’ll find a link in this post which provides a 5th way to find out my name). Are some of my assessments wrong? Probably, perhaps certainly, but they do reflect my best efforts and I do try to be honest about positions I don’t really grasp or understand. For example, in the post in question, I wrote, “It's too early for me to tell which way this one is going.” Further, the comment link allows any reader to share an alternative perspective.

So to summarize this section, I contend that 1) a chess player of any skill is entitled to provide independent commentary on the USCL and its games, 2) I have done nothing to hide from readers my actual skill level as a player, 3) my commentary reflects my best efforts, and 4) those with alternative views are welcome to contribute their perspectives.

…he has no affiliation with our team in any shape or form…

Thank you for making my point. What I am providing is INDEPENDENT media coverage of the Boston Blitz and the USCL – independent of the team, independent of the league. The sports reporters at the Boston Herald do not work for the Boston Red Sox, but they do report on the team. The talk show hosts on SportsRadio don’t work for the team either, but they give their opinions about them everyday.

Whether I am assuming the role of reporter, color commentator or editorialist, I am doing so out of my own interest and initiative. I don’t think any of the readers of this blog are confused on this point. Nor do I think that Goran or Michael’s readers believe that they are representatives of the league. But, just to be clear – my coverage is independent; it is not directed by the team or the league; I am not trying to represent myself as a member of the team or the league; I cultivate my own sources of information; the opinions I express are my own; I, and I alone, stand behind what I write. Is anyone still unclear on this?

… out for silly publicity.

We can certainly debate the merits of the modifier “silly” (after all, many people think it is “silly” for people like us to spend so much time on a “silly” game), but otherwise I’m guilty as charged on this one. My goal as a blogger is to produce content of quality and interest and thereby build a loyal (and hopefully, growing) readership. To that end, I am constantly experimenting with new concepts and ideas. Independent coverage of the USCL is one of those ideas.

While certainly not attributable to USCL coverage alone, I would have to say that, in general, what I am doing is working. BCC Weblog receives critical acclaim from readers and other bloggers, is frequently linked throughout the chess blogosphere and is growing its readership (almost 50% in just the last 3-4 weeks). Unlike the Boston Herald, I’m not trying to sell papers – I’ve not tried in any way to monetize the blog for the foundation. So what we are left with is publicity -- for the club and for the contributors.

My reputation as a blogger is shaped by the extent to which readers appreciate the content I provide them and/or find me to be a credible source of information. And it is definitely one of my goals to develop a strong reputation in the chess blogosphere; what’s wrong with that? Of course, it’s the readers that will decide.

Indeed the sound was off, and i played at the computer console for the last [h]our because of lack of time. I was looking on the board which was maximized not on the small line on the bottom where i would see "DRAW".

Now we can address the specific facts of the case at hand. Based on Ilya’s description of the events, which seems both reasonable and plausible, there is no doubt that my commentary regarding the draw offers did not accurately describe his experience or his actions. I am happy to report that fact in the blog (both through the comments on the original post as well as through what I am writing here). I am also quite comfortable in saying that with these facts in hand, I certainly no longer have support for the contention that he played “selfishly.” Consider that characterization withdrawn.

While I accept responsibility for this error, I think consideration of the context is necessary. I was watching the match on the ICC (this is quite clear from the post) and reporting the impressions and experiences of someone watching on the computer (not live). In addition, I was providing real-time play-by-play and had no means to investigate beyond what I could see on my screen before posting; that’s simply one of the limitations of this approach. In this context, I believe that my commentary (while wrong on the facts, in this particular case) was an accurate reflection of an ICC viewer’s experience. In fact, while this would not have been visible to Ilya, anyone who was watching his game on the ICC that night can confirm that my characterizations of the draw offers and “non-acceptances” were quite measured compared to many of the comments in the gallery. Quite simply, the virtual crowd was up in arms.

Second, given the seemingly strange occurrences on Board 4 during the match, I started investigating the next day to see if I could discover more about what happened. I emailed Greg Shahade on Thursday to see what he knew; his comments on the post were in response to that e-mail. I spoke to the team captain of the Boston Blitz on Thursday night. And when JavaMaster left a comment – “MR. DG i think you should shut your mouth because a lot of nonsense is coming out of it”. – I asked if he had any information to share. As I learned more about the actual circumstances, it was always my intent to do a follow-up post clarifying what happened and talking more broadly about some of the “technical” challenges facing the new league (I’ll probably save the broader topic for later in the season). In any case, Ilya’s comment and this piece render that post unnecessary.

In summarizing this section, let me repeat another of Ilya’s points, “Because it is a new league, we are still learning and adjusting every week to changes that need to be made”. This statement is absolutely true, not only for the league but also for those of us who chose to cover it.

Whoever is blogging here has no clue what's going on…in terms of his personal attacks

While I have no doubt that Ilya believes my post contains personal attacks on him, I actually do not agree with this characterization. Back to our baseball analogy, when the guys on SportsRadio complain that Mark Bellhorn "sucks" because he leads the league in strikeouts, I don’t believe they are making a personal attack on him. Instead, I contend that they are describing his performance (or lack thereof) on the field. In the same way, I believe what I wrote about Ilya were (negative) descriptions of his performance, but not personal attacks. I think some people will agree with this line of reasoning, others not. Feel free to decide for yourself.

As to the specific characterizations, as I said above I can no longer support the term “selfish.” However, while perhaps an overly harsh choice of words, I continue to stand behind “pathetic.” As a minor proof point for this consider Ilya’s own words – “i had managed (again) to squander what was a winning game.” Not withstanding Greg Shahade’s contention that no one could have been expected to do better under the circumstances, I believe fans can and should expect more. If Keith Foulke blows saves in the ninth, fans are entitled to boo and reporters to suggest that he be replaced, waived or traded. Management, of course, will do whatever they think is best for the team. I was certainly not suggesting that I could have done better (we’ve already established that I would have done worse). However, while a bit of hyperbole, my comment regarding a “trade to Vancouver” did intend to suggest that NM Riordan probably could, and ought to be given a try on Board 4. Unfortunately, the composition of the Blitz roster makes that somewhat difficult, but that’s a topic for another post I am working on.

The major piece of information which informed my “pathetic” opinion was this position after Black’s 82nd move of last week’s game:

With White to move, this is as dead a draw as dead can be against a player of reasonable skill level. I wouldn’t play out such a position against a B-player, never mind a Master. Yet, this game continued for 15(!) additional moves. Fair-minded people will differ on their opinion of this, but in my view this was an insult to the opponent as well as the game itself. It’s only my opinion; others should feel free to disagree.

While we are still on the topic of personal attacks, I thought I might point out that in their comments Ilya/JavaMaster referred to me as a "tool", "wise-ass" and "buffoon." I believe there is a metaphor about pots and kettles that might apply here.

I do not know why he decided to single one person out for the team's results

I think the baseball analogy works perfectly here. There are two outs in the ninth inning, the bases are loaded and your team is down by a run; if you strike out then you failed to deliver for your team. Even if Keith Foulke blew the save in the top of the ninth and Edgar Renteria hit into a double play with the bases loaded in the fifth, this doesn’t change the fact that you didn’t perform in the clutch.

There is no doubt that the Blitz have had a problem on Board 3 throughout the season. Nevertheless, in the last two weeks the outcome of the match has come down at the end of the evening to the result on Board 4.

Let me conclude by reiterating that, like the USCL, independent media coverage of the league is a work in progress. Like mainstream media coverage of Major League Baseball, we’ll always try our best but we’ll sometimes get it wrong. And like the local media coverage of the Boston Red Sox, we won’t always say things that the club or the players want to hear. In the world of sports, players are often encouraged not to read their own press clippings. This is certainly an option, but the good news is that the blogosphere is a highly interactive medium which provides opportunities for all to disagree, offer alternative perspectives or provide new information. The comment link awaits…


According to, travel chess sets are perfect for people who want to entertain themselves on a long trip.... The small size of the boards is also perfect for taking onto an airplane or using in a car or bus.
That must be why they call them "travel" sets. You can read the entire article if you wish, but why bother.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Evil in our midst

There has been plenty of straight reporting on the Robert Snyder case (see here, here [9/14 & 9/15], and here), but Chessdad64 moves the discussion forward by asking what if anything National and State Chess Associations and/or the scholastic chess community can do to protect kids from sexual predators.

2005 BCC Championship - 1st Round

This year's competitors:

FM Paul MacIntyre (2315)
FM Chris Chase (2302) - Update: Chose not to participate
NM Charles Riordan (2283)
NM Alex Cherniack (2279)
NM Vadim Martirosov (2239)
Matt Klegon (2037) - Update: Withdrew after Round 1
Kyle Clayton (1888)

Standings after Round 1:

1/1 - MacIntyre, Riordan, Martirosov
0/1 - Cherniack, Klegon (withdrawn), Clayton

Round 1 Games:

[Event "2005 BCC Championship"] [Site "Somerville, MA"] [Date "2005.09.12"] [Round "1"] [White "Klegon"] [Black "MacIntyre"] [Result "0-1"] [WhiteELO "2037"] [BlackELO "2315"] [ECO "D30"]

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 e6 4.Bg5 h6 5.Bh4 Be7 6.e3 Ne4 7.Bxe7 Qxe7 8.Qb3 0-0 9.Nc3 c6 10.Bd3 dxc4 11.Bxc4 Nd6 12.Be2 Nd7 13.0-0 e5 14.dxe5 Nxe5 15.Qa3 Qf6 16.Nxe5 Qxe5 17.Rfd1 Nf5 18.Qb4 Re8 19.Rd2

19...Nxe3 20.Bf3 Nc2 21.Qc4 Nxa1 22.Re2 Be6 0-1

[Event "2005 BCC Championship"] [Site "Somerville, MA"] [Date "2005.09.12"] [Round "1"] [White "Cherniack"] [Black "Riordan"] [Result "0-1"] [WhiteELO "2279"] [BlackELO "2283"] [ECO "A30"]

1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 c5 3.g3 e6 4.Nf3 b6 5.Bg2 Bb7 6.0-0 a6 7.b3 Be7 8.Bb2 d6 9.d4 cxd4 10.Qxd4 Nbd7 11.Ne1 Qc7 12.e4 0-0 13.Nc2 Rfe8 14.Qd2 Rac8 15.Ne3 Qb8 16.Rfe1 Bf8 17.h3 b5 18.cxb5 axb5 19.Ng4 Nxg4 20.hxg4 b4 21.Nd1 Nc5 22.f3 Ba6 23.Nf2 Re7 24.g5 Rec7 25.Qe3 Nd7 26.Rac1 Rxc1 27.Rxc1 Rxc1+ 28.Bxc1 Be7 29.f4 Bd8 30.Qd2 Bb6

31.Kh2 Qc7 32.Bb2 Qc5 33.Nd3 Qg1+ 34.Kh3 Be3 35.Qc2 Bc5 36.Nxc5 Nxc5 37.Qc1 Qf2 38.Qa1 Qe2 39.Kh2 Bd3 40.Kh1 Bxe4 0-1

[Event "2005 BCC Championship"] [Site "Somerville, MA"] [Date "2005.09.12"] [Round "1"] [White "Clayton"] [Black "Martirosov"] [Result "0-1"] [WhiteELO "1888"] [BlackELO "2239"] [ECO "B23"]

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 e6 3.g3 d5 4.exd5 exd5 5.d4 cxd4 6.Qxd4 Be6 7.Bb5+ Nc6 8.Nge2 Be7 9.Nf4 Nf6 10.Nxe6 fxe6 11.0-0 0-0 12.Bxc6 bxc6 13.Qe5 Qd7 14.Re1 Bc5

15.Qxe6+ Qxe6 16.Rxe6 Ng4 17.Nd1 Bxf2+ 18.Nxf2 Rxf2 19.h3 Rf6 20.Re2 Nh6 21.Bxh6 Rxh6 22.Kg2 Rf8 23.Rae1 Rhf6 24.Kg1 a5 25.Re8 Rf1+ 26.Rxf1 Rxe8 27.Rf3 Re1+ 28.Kf2 Rb1 29.Rb3 a4 30.Rb8+ Kf7 31.b3 Rb2 32.Ke3 Rxc2 33.bxa4 Rxa2 34.Rc8 Ra3+ 35.Kf2 Rxa4 36.Rxc6 Re4 37.Rd6 Re5 38.Rd7+ Kf6 39.Rd6+ Ke7 40.Ra6 Re6 41.Ra7+ Kf6 42.Rd7 Re5 43.Rd6+ Ke7 44.Ra6 Rg5 45.Kf3 Rg6 46.Ra7+ Ke6 47.Kf4 Rf6+ 48.Ke3 Rf7 49.Ra8 Rb7 50.Re8+ Re7 51.Rd8 Ke5 52.Kd3 Ra7 53.Re8+ Kf6 54.Kd4 Ra3 55.g4 Rxh3 56.Kxd5 Kg5 57.Re7 g6 58.Re4 Rh4 59.Ke6 Rxg4 60.Re5+ Kh4 61.Kf6 h5 62.Ra5 Kh3 63.Ra1 h4 64.Ra3+ Rg3 65.Ra4 Rg4 66.Ra2 Rg2 67.Ra4 g5 68.Kf5 g4 69.Kg5 Rb2 70.Ra3+ g3 71.Kh5 Rb5+ 72.Kg6 Kh2 0-1

Saturday, September 17, 2005

The Name Game

Another day, another name for Susan Polgar's blog (and a significant improvement from the previous one)... Today's title: Susan Polgar Chess Blog.

Related Post: What's in a name?

Chabanon returns

After a "long summer", GM Chabanon has begun updating most of his blogging projects again. You can find links to all of them here.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Looking for signs of life

Courtesy of
abeyant, asleep, barren, blah, bygone, comatose, conked, crashed, dead, defunct, departed, disengaged, do-nothing, dormant, down, dozing, draggy, dreaming, dull, exhausted, extinct, flaked out, gone, hibernating, idle, immobile, in dreamland, in repose, inactive, inert, indolent, inoperable, inoperative, jobless, latent, lazy, lethargic, limp, lost, low-key, lox, mothballed, motionless, napping, obsolete, on hold, ossified, out, out cold, passive, quiescent, quiet, reposing, resting, sacked out, sawing logs, sedentary, slack, sleeping, sleepy, slothful, slow, sluggish, slumbering, snoozing, snoring, somnolent, spent, stable, stagnant, static, sterile, still, tired, torpid, unconscious, unemployed, unoccupied, unprofitable, useless, wearied, worn, worn out.
This summer has obviously been hard on the chess blogosphere -- more and more links headed to the inactive lists and few coming back the other way:
  • A long time resident of the sidebar has passed the 30-day mark -- My Chess. A bit of a surprise frankly, but hopefully he'll be back soon. Der Alter Goniff was all but "Goniff" and then snuck back in at the wire.
  • Several blogs in the Other Chess Blogs list have also been quiet for awhile -- En Passant, World of Chess, Chess Morph, GM Maurice Ashley, Ginsta's Chess Blog, Adam's Chess Blog, Kyle's Chess Spot and JammingEcono's Chess and Politics Blog.
  • The Extreme Chess Federation has evolved into; while it was never clear if the original blog was actually about chess, the new site can hardly be considered a chess blog. As such, it has been removed.
  • The Hooked Knight got the hook.

  • Finally, one positive note - Riley's Chess Blog was recently updated after many months. Get your fix of Dayton, Ohio chess news while it's hot.

Jude Acers changes his name

Not really, but this video report from WBIR-TV News in Knoxville, Tennessee tells the story of Jude "Acres'" escape from the clutches of Hurricane Katrina. (Click the link in the green "Watch Video" box an inch or two above the picture of Jude).

Hat Tip: The Closet Grandmaster

Mystery Guest

I hope they decide soon...

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Spam Spam Chess and Spam

After murderers, sex offenders, child abusers and the Kennedy's (oh wait, I've already mentioned murderers and sex offenders), are there really any lower forms of life than spammers?

Well, chess friends, I am sorry to say that I have found one that is a USCF Master. Worse yet, he's a local!

America Online Inc. won a $13 million judgment yesterday against a prominent spam gang in its first case filed under a law allowing seizure of spammers' assets....

One spammer, Braden M. Bournival, a 20-year-old chess champion from New Hampshire, cooperated with AOL in the investigation and agreed to surrender gold, cash and a 2003 Hummer H2 to the company....

The Internet provider said it will give property confiscated from Bournival to its subscribers -- the Hummer, which once bore a vanity tag reading "CASHOLA," $75,000 in cash and $20,000 in gold.

I looked up Bournival's tournament history to determine what basis they had for calling him a "chess champion." The most I could find is that he tied for first with GM Alexander Ivanov at this year's New Hampshire Open. I also looked to see whether he has ever played at the BCC. I couldn't find any evidence that he had, but he has played at Newburyport, MetroWest and Waltham, as well as major local tournaments like the Eastern Class, Pillsbury and Massachusetts Open.

On a tangentially related note, those of you using Blogger have a new tool at your disposal to combat comment spam. Check out word verification.

Update: Apparently Dennis M. is dealing with an entirely different type of comment spam.

Late Show Chess

It will probably come as no surprise to discover that David Letterman was no match for Gary Kasparov in chess. However, I would have loved to see a clip of Gary's stand-up routine.

Hat Tip: Recursive Hypocrisy.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Live Blogging: Blitz vs. Cobras

8:32pm: Evening chess fans! Welcome to week 3 of US Chess League Action. Tonight the 1-1 Boston Blitz face off against the Carolina Cobras. GM Christiansen is playing Board 1 again for the Blitz. Unfortunately the ICC doesn't let me watch that game live, so we'll focus on the other three boards.

On Board 2, IM Friedel is White against IM Schroer in a French Winawer. It looks like a strange variation to me, but I'll look it up and see.

On Board 3 - FM Hoekstra-FM Kelleher, a d-pawn opening has transposed into the g6 line of the Panov Attack. Queens are off the board and White is developing activity as Black piles up on the double IQPs. Looks like it will be an interesting battle.

Over at Krasik-NM Samsa, it is Black with the IQP in a game which started as a QGD Exchange Variation. It's too early for me to tell which way this one is going.

8:42pm: As I suspected, Friedel's 11.Kd2 is a novelty. Two other games continued with Bd2; instead, Josh has developed the bishop to a3 -- sacrificing the a-pawn but keeping the Black king in the center for now.

9:08pm: Kelleher either sacked or lost a pawn, so now he is down two pawns. It looks like he ought to be able to regain at least one on the d-file, but I'm guessing that he's playing for a draw now.

9:17pm: GM Christiansen takes out IM Milman and scores a point for the Blitz. I still can't see the moves on the ICC so I can't tell you how it went it down.

9:30pm: After 16...g6 the kibitzers like Friedel's chances. Black has severly weakened his dark squares and, of course, he no longer has a dark squared bishop to cover them. Meanwhile, Kelleher finds himself in an ending down a passed d-pawn.

10:00pm: Hoekstra made it look easy grinding Kelleher down in the ending, so the score is now tied at one game a piece. Friedel continues to look good and I still have no clue about Board 4 (although Black's doubled rooks on the c-file are at least visually impressive).

10:08pm: That was scary! Apparently there was a mouse slip or a relay error, but for a minute it looked like Friedel just hung his queen for nothing. Now it looks like they are taking back the move and giving Black a 2-minute time bonus. I'm not sure what the USCL rules are regarding mouse slips.

10:15pm: Well, they still haven't taken back the move on Board 2 and Friedel's clock continues to run. This might be very bad news. Friedel was clearly winning and planned to move his queen to e3, but it landed on d3 instead. Black happily played cxd3.

10:21pm: They just put the Board 1 game up for examination. Milman played a Ruy Lopez - Delayed Exchange Variation against Christiansen. Later in the game he sacrificed both his knights for a mate or perpetual that just wasn't there. So he resigned.

10:27pm: Samsa is down to 1:10 on Board 4; Krasik still has about 16 minutes. Still nothing on Friedel's board. Either he's lost or there's some big conference going on with league officials.

10:31pm: Phew! GM Christiansen just commented on ICC that they did give Friedel a takeback and they are now resetting the position and times. 24.Qe3, now on the board!

10:36pm: The position on Board 4 is getting crazy but it looks like Krasik might have the better of it.

10:58pm: Friedel scores the point with a nice attack. Its now 2-1 Blitz. Again it comes down to Krasik on Board 4.

11:02pm: Krasik is up a pawn in an ending and only needs a draw, but both players are under a minute on the clock.

11:09pm: What the heck!!?! Samsa offered a draw and Krasik played on. A draw would have sealed the win the Blitz! Ilya better not lose now or he'll have some 'splaining to do.

11:16pm: Another draw offer by Carolina refused!! Which team is he playing for?

11:28pm: Well the position is an obvious draw at this point. I have no idea why Krasik is continuing to play on. In any case, I'm not staying up to watch anymore. The Blitz are going to win 2.5-1.5. As for Mr. Krasik, let me just say I've never witnessed a more selfish display in a team event. After last week's collapse and this pathetic exhibition, I say trade him to Vancouver for anything you can get. Maybe I'll feel differently in the morning.

Panning for gold

Here are a few nuggets from around the 'sphere:

The Closet Grandmaster has an interview with a former Sydney chess player who chose to leave the tournament circuit:

I didn't want to keep spending all my weekends playing old men, narrow minded chess kids and teenage chess punks.

That's a pretty good description of the BCC on many days, I'm sorry to say.

Jens at Pawn In The Game published a letter by IM Andrew Martin which raises interesting questions about Susan Polgar's recent Guinness world record breaking simul.

The Knights Errant have a sequel! Sancho has rode up alongside of Don again and as Sir Chubalot and Sir Semisolid they have formed the Knights of the Round Bottoms.

Another Chess Rapper

From "DJ Muggs, Gza Get Their Chess Game Up With Grandmasters" at
On Sunday (August 21), DJ Muggs gave selected media the first preview of his upcoming album, entitled DJ Muggs vs. Gza: Grandmasters, a collaborative album between the Cypress Hill's Muggs and Wu-Tang's Gza.

As far as the title and theme of the project, it's a reference to chess, a favorite pastime of the Genius....

"The highest level of the chess masters is the Grandmaster. The highest level of the DJ or the emcee is the Grandmaster -- it's synonymous with both," Muggs explained.
Genius? After this, someone is going to have to work hard to convince me that our culture isn't destined for the trash heap of history.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

BCC Sept. TNS Rd. 1 - Part 3

So let's finish up on this position from last week's Thursday Night Swiss (here for the first time? Read Part 1 and Part 2).

After 5...Qf4

During the game I was really uncertain as to the assessment of this position. White certainly has opportunities to go wrong, but I thought that he might find a move that either forced me take a perpetual check or even worse, trade my a & b-pawns for his d & e-pawns leaving a major piece ending where he had the outside passer. After engaging with CD and Sancho in the comments to Part 2, I'm beginning to feel that Black might be better after all. Nevertheless, there are still several things which aren't clear to me. Once you're done reading this feel free to submit the position to your silicon chess friends and see what they have to say.

With the clocks running, I focused my attention on two moves for White -- Rg1 and Kf2. After 6.Rg1 there seem to be two ideas for Black:

  1. During the game I was planning on 6...Qxf3+ 7.Rg2 Qd5. Black has threats against a couple Black pawns as well as ideas like Rc4 or Rc2 followed by doubling on the c-file. On the other hand, White may double his rooks on the g-file, forcing Black to keep his queen on the h1-a8 diagonal. In the end, I suspect that this is probably better for Black (though I'm not sure).
  2. A second idea suggested by CD is 6...Qxf3+ 7.Rg2 axb5 8.Qxb5 Rc6 9.Rag1 Rg6 10.Qf1 Rc8 -/+, but I'm not sure about this as White has other defensive ideas like 9.Kg1 and 9.Qf1 and possibly alternatives to 10.Qf1.

After 6.Kg2 I originally thought that Black would have to take the draw starting with 6.Qg4+, but now I think that 6...Qxd4 7.bxa6 bxa6 8.Qxa6 Qxd5 may be feasible. Sure White has an outside passer, but his King is in the open and his pawn structure is a mess. I think Black, with his more actively placed pieces, probably has good chances of piling up on f3 or f2.

Now on to two moves I didn't spend much time on during the game. 6.Rfe1 fails to 6...Qxf3+ 7.Kg1 Rc2 8.Rf1 Re8! (a nice idea which CD suggested in a different position) and I don't think White can do much to stop Re6-g6.

6.Rfd1 is another matter since in the line above Rc2 can be answered by Rd2. Maybe 6...Qxf3+ 7.Kg1 axb5 is a better approach, but I'm not sure.

Well, as I promised, I don't have all the answers. Nevertheless, I think this was a very instructive position in terms of needing to see beyond the superficial tactic (2.Nxd5) in order to evaluate the position properly. My evaluation of the original position? I'm guessing that when all is said and done it will turn out that Black is better after 5...Qf4. Therefore, in the original position I believe Black is equal to slightly better after 1...Na5! and White probably should have chosen 2.Qd3 instead of 2.Nxd5. So now someone can turn on their computer and let us know the "truth."

What happened in the game? Unfortunately for my opponent, he played the worst plausible move on the board:

6.bxa6?? Qxf3+ 7.Kg1 Rc6! and White resigned.

Final Position

It's not mate in every line as CD suggested, but it is in some and in the others White wins significant material. I'll leave it as an exercise to the Knights to work out the wins after 7.Rfe1, 7.Rfd1, and 7.Rfc1.