Friday, July 30, 2010

Chess and football

Patriots running back Laurence Maroney turns to chess to help his game

chess-board2.jpgLaurence Maroney had a captive audience earlier today, as he explained how he’s using the game of chess to help make him a better football player.

”Chess can help with football because the one thing about chess, you’re not moving for right now, you’re moving to set up moves later on. That’s how football is,” Maroney said. ”You’re making a move to set up something later on. I can see the linebacker here, but what move can I do to set this safety up, also?

Maroney, who recently donated chess boards to the Taunton girls and boys clubs, has been in a chess club the last three years learning from the grand masters.

Maroney said he plays against a few of his teammates, but wouldn’t identify them.

Was he the best chess player on the team?

”No, but I’m going for it. ” Maroney answered. ”I’m practicing to get there.”

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Julian Assange - the Austerity of Chess and Computing

The remarkable life of Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks

‘The austerity of one’s interaction with a computer is something that appealed to me,’ he said. ‘It is like chess – chess is very austere, in that you don’t have many rules, there is no randomness, and the problem is very hard.’


Read more: New Yorker magazine, The Daily Maverick on the 25 July Wikileaks revelations.

Photo: Wikileaks founder Julian Assange holds up a copy of a newspaper during a press conference at the Frontline Club in central London, July 26, 2010. Thousands of leaked U.S. military documents from Afghanistan contain evidence of possible war crimes that must be urgently investigated, the founder of the whistleblowing website that published the papers said on Monday. REUTERS/Andrew Winning

Tuesday 27 July, 2010

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Nathan Resika as Don Giovanni

BCC members - I played with and heard him sing at the United States Amateur Team Championships this year, and he is the real deal!

Dear Alex,

How are you? Enjoying the summer?

I wanted to let you know I'm singing in Don Giovanni with some top flight singers (NYC opera, Metropolitan) and a 40 piece orchestra (!) in Lebanon, New Hampshire. The company is very well known in NE, called Operanorth.

I'm on August 19th, Thursday at 2pm (lead role) and on Aug 13th, 17th, 19th, 21st at 7pm (supporting role - big scene at opera's end).

For more info or tickets, go to

This opera is an amazing timeless classic with unbelievably beautiful music and profound drama. I'm hoping some of the chess community can make it up here.

Is there a way you could forward this notice to the Boylston Club Blog?

Ive been up here rehearsing for 2 weeks already with no day off... but it's been a pleasure.

Best always,

Nathan Resika

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

This is not tournament Daniel-son, this is real!

Hello All,

Below are the annotations of my student/sparring partner Billy Collins' amazing upset victories at the Bolyston Chess Club on June 12th. Sorry for the delay, as I was playing a few tournaments and of course, was busy playing Billy! After defeating an A player in round 1, Billy's next three opponents were all distinguished masters on average 300 points higher than he, and in one case, nearly 500. While Billy likes to remind opponents he is defeating in Harvard Square, "This is not tournament Daniel-Son, this is real!" (a reference to Karate Kid II), these tournament games were even more real, Billy!

Marc Esserman

1) Collins,Billy (2044) - Cherniack,Alex (2301) [C15](2)
[Marc Esserman]

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qg4!?

A rare variation of the winawer, which first came into the limelight when Alekhine won quickly against Euwe in their 1935 World Championship match. White avoids the normal e5 c5 a3 Bxc3 bc3 c5 Winawer, and instead plans to wreck the black kingside immediately, but at the cost of a few queen moves. Never move your queen out early, they say!:)
4...Nf6 5.Qxg7 Rg8 6.Qh6 Rg6 7.Qe3

Black has more development and white's queen is akwardly placed, but black's chief concern is that he cannot castle.
[7...Nxe4 8.Bd3 With complications, as seen in Alekhine-Euwe.; 7...c5 perhaps the most logical continuation, in true French style.]

8.Nge2 b6 9.Bd2
Black's plan is too slow. White already threatens to win a pawn with Nxe4. Only a few moves ago it seemed that Billy was way behind in development, but after castles long--almost all of his pieces will be out.

Alex saves the e4 pawn for now, but at the price of giving up his Winawer bishop.

10.Nxc3 Bb7 11.0-0-0 Nbd7
[11...Nc6 Seeking more activity. After the text move black will have a hard time drumming up real counterplay.]

[12.f3! exf3 13.gxf3 Qe7 14.Bd3 Is an alternative, with a clear advantage for white.]

12...Qe7 13.Rg1 0-0-0 14.g4 e5 15.Bg2 exd4 16.Qxd4 Nc5 17.Qe3

Diagram Alex has done well to counter Billy's playable but slower plan of h3/rg1/g4/bg2 (which solved the problem of the g2 pawn, but at the cost of considerable time. The queen at e3 is still not ideally placed, but the e4 pawn is a prime target.

17...Nd5 18.Nxd5 Bxd5 19.b3 Nd3+?!

When quieter defense was necessary, Alex instead goes for the immediate knockout--a combination he surely envisioned before his 17th move. The problem is that a sacrifice is not really a sacrifice unless it must be accepted, and here taking the knight leads immediately to mate, whereas its decline leads black completely uncoordinated and on the full retreat.

20.Kb1+/- [20.cxd3? Qa3+ 21.Kb1 Bxb3! 22.axb3 Qxb3+ 23.Ka1 Qa3+ 24.Kb1 Rd5! 25.Rc1 Rb5+ 26.Kc2 Qb3# ]

20...Nb4 21.Bxb4 Qxb4 22.Rd4 Qc5 23.Bxe4

Billy's plan succeeds, the epawn finally goes.

23...Bxe4 24.Rxd8+ Kxd8 25.Qxe4 Qxf2 26.Rd1+ Rd6 27.Rxd6+ cxd6 28.Qa8+ Ke7 29.Qxa7+ Ke6
Diagram Black must now struggle for a draw a pawn down in a difficult queen ending. An active king, normally a good thing in the endgame, is here a target to multiple checks by the white queen. White's fast b and a pawn's will be very difficult to stop.

30.Qc7 Qf1+ 31.Kb2 Qxh3 32.a4 Qxg4??

A blunder stemming from an attempt to restore the material balance. A hard defense was ahead nonetheless.

33.Qc8+ 1-0


(2) vigorito (2532) - collins (2044) [A40]

[Marc Esserman]

Billy had ascended one cliff, but the mountain kept getting higher, this time in the form of IM +2500 David Vigorito, and with the black pieces to boot. So many times when a player achieves a great upset in sports, he has no energy left for the next, often higher obstacle in his path. Billy would try to avoid this pitfall.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c5 4. d5 exd5 5. cxd5 d6 Diagram

The famous Benoni, whose Hebrew translation literally means, "Son of sorrow." However, it is the favorite son of many Bolyston Chess Club experts and masters, despite Kasparov's warning that it has been refuted. Unlike the more stable Queen's Gambit declined, it is a declaration of all-out war.

6.Nf3 g6 7.Nd2 Diagram

When Nimzovitch first invented this "undeveloping" move, many were puzzled. Now the commonplace maneuver is known to all masters--the knight journeys to c4, hoping to bring the d6 pawn to tears.

7...Bg7 8.e4 0-0 9.Be2 a6 10.a4 Securing the beast's formidable outpost. 10...b6?! Diagram

too slow for a benoni---Nbd7 and Re8 is preferred, if Nc4 then perhaps Nb6

11.0-0 Nbd7 12.Nc4 Ne8 The d6 pawn begins to shed a tear.

13.f4 Diagram

White's position grows overwhelming. Billy senses this danger and felt the need to mix it up with his far more experienced and solid opponent. In the post game, Billy claimed with fervor: "The Benoni, these are my kind of positions!" As you will see, while white has the edge, he will be posed plenty of problems on the road to realizing his advantage.

13...f5 14.exf5 gxf5 15.Bd3 Rb8 16.Qc2 Bd4+ 17.Kh1 Qf6! Diagram

Connecting logically to Bd4+, which at first seemed like a stray move. The queen serves many purposes here, working on the long diagonal, ready to attack the kingside, and of course, wiping up the tears of the d6 pawn.

18.Ne3 Ng7 Billy's eccentric scheme of development is beginning to take shape--the weaknesses at f5 and d6 are in good hands.

19.Ne2 Diagram

19...Bxe3?! [19...b5! 20.axb5 axb5 Is far stronger, as if 21.Nxd4 cxd4 22.Nd1 Qf7 Black will win the key d5 pawn--although the outcome is still in doubt.]

20.Bxe3 b5 21.axb5 axb5 22.Nc3 c4 23.Be2 Re8 24.Bf2 Qg6 25.Ra5 Diagram

Billy's posit ion has far too many defects now and at this point Vigorito is winning.

25...b4 26.Nb5 Re4 27.Bxc4 Rxf4 Diagram

28.Bg3 [28.Ba7! And Billy would have to resign, as both rooks are hanging and 28...Rxf1+ 29.Bxf1 Ra8 or 30.Qc6! (30.Nc7 wins the lonesome rook.) ]

28...Rg4 29.Bxd6 the d6 pawn has shed its last tear. White is still winning.

29...Nb6 30.Bb3 Rb7 31.Bc7 Bd7 Diagram

Here white can win beautifully with 32.d6+

[32.Qc6! Bxc6 33.dxc6+ Kh8 34.cxb7 and the queen reappears!]

32...Ne6 33.Qf2? Diagram


33...Nc4! Billy is back on the path, as white's pieces have become loose and misplaced.

34.Ra8+ Kg7 35.Na7 Nxc7 36.dxc7 Rxc7 37.h3 Re4 38.Bc2 Ne3? Diagram

[38...Re5 would be calmer, as white has few threats with his two pieces on a7 and a8 missing in action.]

39.Bxe4 Nxf1 40.Qxf1 Diagram

[40.Bd5! with the threat of rg8 would leave white back on top. 40...Ng3+ 41.Kh2 Nf1+ 42.Kg1] 40...Qg5 White is a piece up, but the rook and knight are tied to each other, the bishop may hang in the near future, and most importantly, rc1 threatens to win the queen! [Billy avoids falling off the cliff with 40...fxe4 41.Qf8#]

41.Qf3 Rc1+ 42.Kh2 fxe4 Diagram

43.Qxe4 [43.Qf8+ Would have secured the draw, but white was still playing to win. 43...Kg6 44.Qg8+ Kh6 45.Qf8+ Kg6 (45...Qg7 46.Qd6+; 45...Kh5 46.Qf7+ Kh6=) 46.Qg8+=]

43...Qf6 44.Qe3 Qd6+ 45.Qg3+ Qxg3+ 46.Kxg3 Diagram

Again, white is a pawn up, but he must be worse, as he is virtually a piece down.

46...Rc2 47.Rd8 Rc7 48.Ra8 b3 49.Kf4 Diagram

Rc2 [49...Kf6 is best, keeping the king at bay.]

50. Rd8

[50. Rb8! with the idea of Rb7, would have amazingly freed the white pieces and simultaneously frozen black's! A mirror image! ... Rxb2 51. Rb7 Diagram ]

50...Ba4! 51. Rd4 Be8! Diagram

White is now in serious trouble, but a final blunder in time pressure ends the battle.

52.Nc8?? Rxc8 53.Rb4 Bf7 54.g4 Rc2 55.Kg5 h6+ 56.Kh4 Rxb2 57.Kg3 Rc2 58.Kf3 b2 0-1


(3) collins (2044) - chase (2378)

[Marc Esserman]

With the valley in sight, there was one only one more cliff to scale, current Bolyston Champion Chris Chase.
1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nf3 d6 4.h3

Chase is an expert in these theoriless, amorphous, "modern defense" positions. The goal is to simply outplay the opponent from a slightly worse start.

4...a6 5.c4 e5?! 6.dxe5 dxe5 7.Qxd8+ Kxd8

Sometimes these queenless middlegames are acceptable for black, sometimes they are not. Here white has a clear advantage. When I saw this position I felt confident that Billy would complete the miraculous 4-0 feat.

8.Nc3 Nc6 9.Be3 h6 10.0-0-0+ Bd7 11.c5 Kc8 12.Bc4 f5 13.Kb1 Nf6 14.Nh4 f4 15.Bc1 g5 16.Nf5 Bf8 Diagram

But how quickly things can change--Chase is now clearly in command. The c5 pawn is lost. White's only trump is the awkward position of the black king.

I would have preferred 17...g4 [17...Nxe4! 18.Nxe4 Bxf5 When it becomes clear that white needs to save himself.

19.Bd3! gxh4 20.Nd6+ cxd6 21.Bxf5+ Kc7 22.cxd6+ Bxd6 23.Rxh4 And white is fighting for a draw.] 18.f3 Bxc5 19.Nd5 Nxd5 20.Rxd5 Bf8 Diagram

[20...gxf3! presents another obstacle, as Rxc5? 21.Rxc5? leaves white's chances in doubt after 21...fxg2 22.Rg1 f3 23.Be3 b6 24.Rd5 Be6!] 21.Rdd1?! [21.fxg4!+/- Both players thought this move was impossible due to the impending be6, 21...Be6 but 22.Rxe5! Bxc4 (22...Nxe5 23.Bxe6+ Kb8 24.Bxf4 Diagram

And white is dominating the board with a pawn for the exchange plus considerable activity.) 23.Re8+ Nd8 24.Rd1+- With catastrophic material loss] 21...g3 22.h5 Diagram

the start of an amazing final coup--the h1 rook will travel first to h4--then to g4--and then.... 22...b5 23.Bf7 black's king is still chained to the bishop 23...Nd8 24.Bb3 c6 25.Rh4 Kc7 26.Rg4 Ne6 27.Bd2 a5 28.Bc3 Diagram

[28.Bxe6!+- even more effective, preventing the defensive in the game.] 28...Nd4 29.Bxd4 exd4 30.Rxd4 a4 31.Bf7 Diagram

31...Bc5?! [31...Rd8
! After some nervous play the advantage slips back to black--but why?

32.Rxf4 Bc5! 33.Rd1 Bxf5 34.Rxd8 Rxd8 35.Rxf5 Be3! Diagram

and amazingly the g pawn cannot be stopped--a very difficult idea to find under pressure.] 32.Rd1 a3 33.b3?! [33.Rg7! The rook has been screaming to go to g7 ever since h4-h5!] 33...Raf8? [33...Bxf5! black's last chance to free himself, a chance that if taken that would have won! 34.exf5 Rad8 35.Rxd8 (35.Rc1 Be3 36.Rc2 Rd1+) 35...Rxd8 36.Kc2 Be3 and the gpawn again runs to the goal line.] 34.Rg7! Diagram

Finally the rook realizes its full potential! 34...Kc8 35.Bg6 Rd8 36.Nd6+

And black's flag fell in a lost position. 36...Bxd6 37.Rxd6 Rhg8 38.Rgxd7 Rxd7 39.Bf5 Rgd8 40.Rxh6 Diagram

would win in a rook ending. The end of an amazing journey for USCF expert, and I predict soon to be master, Billy Collins. His performance rating during the tournament of 2932 is fitting for a hero. 1-0

Monday, July 19, 2010

Legends: Martin From

On Sat. July 17, 23 players competed in the Martin Severin From instantiation of the Boylston Legends series.

Denys Shmelov
won the Open section (n=13) with 3.5. Benedict Smail, Jake Garbarino, and Mika Brattain tied for second with 3.0 scores.

Tony Cortizas Jr ran the table in the U1800 Section (n=10) with a perfect 4.0 victory, raising his rating by 123 points in one event. Brian Perez-Daple and Alex Z. Hu shared second with 3.0.

Martin Severin From

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Martin Severin Janus From (8 April 1828 – 6 May 1895) was a Danish chess master.[1]

Born in Nakskov, he received his first education at the grammar school of Nykjöbing. During Prussian-Danish War (Zweiter Schleswig-Holsteinischer Krieg), he entered the army as a volunteer, served in the brigade of Major-General Olaf Rye, and was present at the Battle of Fredericia on July 6, 1849. At the end of the war he settled at Copenhagen. He was employed in the Statistical Bureau, where met Magnus Oscar Möllerström (then the strongest chess player of Copenhagen). Next, he worked in the central office for prison management, In 1890, he became an inspector of the penitentiary of Christianshavn. In 1891 he received the order Ridder af Danneborg, which is the second most important Danish order.

He won a chess tournament at Copenhagen 1862, followed by M.O. Møllerstrøm, S.A. Sørensen, H.A. Lindehn, A. Mathiassen, etc. Since 1865, he was a President of Copenhagen Chess Club for many years. He tied for 12-13th in the Paris 1867 chess tournament, won by Ignatz von Kolisch.[2]

He essayed the Danish Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.c3) at Paris 1867, and he is usually given credit for the opening. His name is attached to the From Gambit in the Bird's Opening (1.f4 e5).


Friday, July 16, 2010

A well played endgame.

In recent posts we have had mentions of the donut hole, end games, and George Steinbrenner, so it is interesting to note:

George Steinbrenner came to his end in the estate tax donut hole of 2010 -

in 2009 the estate tax was 45% and

in 2011 it will be 55%,

but this year it is 0%,

saving his heirs about 1/2 billion dollars in taxes.

His final move

2010. George h8 / $500, 000.

was well timed.


NYT July 15, 2010
...George Steinbrenner left the world stage with a great sense of timing, too.

By dying in 2010, the billionaire and long-time New York Yankees owner’s wealth avoids the federal estate tax, which could save his heirs enough money to field an entire team of Alex Rodriguezes, The Associated Press reported.

Mr. Steinbrenner’s death of a heart attack at the age of 80 on Tuesday came during an unplanned yearlong gap in the estate tax, the first since it was enacted in 1916. Political wrangling has stalemated efforts in Congress to replace the tax that expired in 2009.

That deprives the government of billions of dollars in annual revenue, but represents an unexpected bonanza for those who inherit wealth.

”If you’re super-wealthy, it’s a good year to die,” Jack Nuckolls, a lawyer and estate planner with the accounting firm BDO Seidman, told the news service. ”It really is.”

Forbes magazine has estimated Mr. Steinbrenner’s estate at $1.1 billion. The federal estate tax in 2009 was 45 percent, with the $3.5 million per-person exemption. If he had died last year, his estate could have faced federal taxes of almost $500 million, depending on how the estate was structured. The estate tax for 2011 is scheduled to be 55%.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Chess: Unfortunately Life doesn't imitate Art and Sports

Notes from Nantasket beach part Deux

Got a new water resistant Sony radio and am listening to WBUR.

It’s no surprise that this news cycle is filled more with the passing of George Steinbrenner than the successes dealing with fixing the BP oil spill after 88 days.

Steinbrenner, known for reestablishing the Evil Empire NY Yankees, and creating the multimedia infrastructure to generate so much cash as to overwhelm all the rest of baseball, and Hoover most top free agents most of the time. Although I had a love-hate relationship with Steinbrenner as a sportsman I sympathized with him being shaken down by former President Richard Nixon and forced to participate in Democrats for Nixon illegally donating funds on Nixon’s behalf, lest the IRS be sicked on his shipbuilding business.

I’m reading Triumph and Tragedy in Mudville by famous Harvard paleontologist Stephan Jay Gould. Yankee fan by birth; being trapped in Boston; learned to love the Tragi-Greek Red Sox epic to defeat the Curse of the Bambino. A must read for fans who are into baseball , biology, statistics, Yankees and/or Red Sox.

This book of essays resonates the high promotion of baseball as it transcends age, personal and national heartbreak, the drudgeries of daily life. Recently we witnessed the whole world stop to watch the Spain win the World Cup. Many dedicate every possible free moment to play and study the game of chess.

At the end of the day what practical goal has been achieved by playing these games? As Stephan Jay Gould would say: “Nothing can explain the meaning and excitement of all this to nonfans. No sensible person would even try. This is church-and nonbelievers cannot know the spirit. One can only recall Louis Armstrong’s famous statement about the nature of jazz: ‘Man, if you gotta ask, you’ll never know.’”

Contrast this perfection to a US Federal court judge that stops the US executive branch’s ability to put a six month moratorium stopping oil drilling; a situation caused mostly because the former Minerals Management Service granted waivers allowing no Environmental Impact Studies to be performed to assess risk on the 33 future wells scheduled to be drilled. Who is in charge here?

The Intelligent Seagull scoffed ½ of my sub sandwich that was secreted deep in my bag when I went to cool myself off in the water.

Breathe…………….. Breathe………….

Listen to the surf, soak up the rays………...

No problem man – I’m in Paradise.

What is the importance in playing games in this difficult reality?

Please comment.

Thank You

Mike Griffin

(graphics by Bob Oresick)


Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Chess: The Board is the Heart of Chess

It's a perfect summer day and I'm in one of the most beautiful places in the world on days like today: Nantasket Beach. I reach for my trusty beach companion for 15 plus years a Sony water resistant AM/FM radio only to realize it has died. No WBUR today.

No worries man - I'm in Paradise.

My chess coach IM Marc Esserman wants me to work at solving problems and combinations so I'll just reach back in my bag and pull out Forcing Chess Moves by Charles Hertan and work thru them. OOOp's somehow I forgot to pack the book.

No worries man - I'm in Paradise.

I sit back and soak in warm sun, the blue waters, the infinite blue sky, the cooling breezes, the surf pounding on the beach.

Breathing......... Breathing……………

I start thinking about the chess problems I solved yesterday and inventory the un-intuitive properties realized with each solution to which comes an epiphany:

the characteristics of the board are as equally important as the characteristics of the pieces. That those 64 squares may first appear static but in fact are the obverse of the pieces and the squares are bent and contorted by the pieces. Spend some time to inventory the properties of where the pieces aren’t.

So the board is a volcano at the center whose eruption might send a tsunami onto h7. The board can be as mysterious, insurmountable, and elusive as Tora Bora. Or the board is calm as a glass like ocean, enshrouded in a foggy rhine, having a pawn secretly steeling to metamorphosis. We should ask what are the squares like in this situation? What is it doing or not doing to my pieces?

Suddenly I am awakened out of my meditations: A very intelligent seagull is trying to advance on my rewrapped half-eaten sub sandwich. Even Paradise has its snakes.

No worries man I'm in Paradise.

Mr Philidor you got it half right.

What are your feelings of the influence of the board in positions and do you have any examples?

Please Comment

Thank You

Mike Griffin