Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Annual Blitz Championship

Blitz Tournament
Boylston Chess Club Blitz Chess Championship: Open to All Players

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Entry Fee: $7.00/$5 to BCF members  

Time Control: 5/SD 2 second delay

Prizes: Based on entries

Current Reigning BCC Champion NM Robert Perez

Players of all strengths, from beginners to grandmasters welcome, 
no membership of any sort needed

Boylston Chess Club (2nd oldest in the USA)

Davis Square, on the Red Line (Alewife), 2 stops north of Harvard Station:
240 Elm St., Suite B9 (basement), walking back out of Davis T stop, on Holland→Elm Street towards  Porter Square, 3 cross streets, down, on your right . . .
 (617) 629-3933

Tuesday, December 4: BCF Annual Blitz Championship                                                     
RR/5’ EF: $7, $5 to BCF members. Prizes: $$based on entries. Reg: 6:30 – 6:50PM Rds: 7PM

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Customer Is Always Wrong

Well, that's what it feels like in the chess world, anyway. In the chess world, when the score between two opponents is grossly out of line with statistical expectations, the hapless underperformer is sometimes described as being the "customer" of the other player. And in the chess world, when it comes down to the last decision that determines a game's result, the customer is (almost) always wrong. The customer's hard-earned rating points are uncannily drawn toward bad choices (cue the old Saturday Night Live Bad Idea jeans fake commercial).

Before rejoining Boylston tournaments after an extended time away, I had played Walter "The Fighter" Driscoll twice, winning both games, but back then it seems that I had about a 50 point rating edge over him each time. When we met again over the board at Boylston in 2004, I achieved what I thought was a clear advantage, but lost my way and ended up feeling that my position was somewhat uncomfortable.

Ken Ho (1702) - Walter Driscoll (1829)
11 March 2004
After 45...g5

In the above position I played 46 hxg5 and offered a draw, which Walter declined. I think I considered that the most I could get would be a draw, and that I would likely be able to get one, but if he were to accept my offer that would save me effort and unnecessary worry. At an earlier stage of the game when things looked (at least to me) rather worse for Walter, he had offered a draw which I had declined, although I don't think that affected his decision to decline my offer.

After the further moves 46...hxg5 47 Nc2 Kf6 48 Nxb4 Ke5 49 Nd3+ Kd4 50 Ne1 g4 51 Kg3 Kc3:

I played 52 Be6 and again offered a draw, which Walter also declined.

However, after 52...Kd4 53 Bxf5 I "persuaded" him. White's task has always been to eliminate Black's pawns, with both his bishop and knight being expendable to achieve the draw.

So, based on having seen more than Walter had in the above endgame position, I leaped to the wildly irrational conclusion that my practical understanding of chess was greater than his, that I could win the next game (this was the Paramount double round-robin tournament), and lock him in as a long-term customer. Well, somebody was destined to be the customer, but it wasn't Walter. He subsequently handed me 5 losses in a row, and during that period, our ratings have been within ("a mere") 130 or so points of each other.

Now, I understand that Walter's 1800 "exceptional" rating floor from around 2007 originated from a great result at one of the big CCA tournaments, and as he has mentioned to me, he has yet to crack 1900. He's bounced off that rating floor multiple times, but I am no stranger to doing so. My "traditional" rating floor is 1700 (based on getting a 19xx rating), but the last time (okay, okay, the only time) I made it over 1900 was back in late 1991.

Here is my first deposit of rating points at WalterBank®:

Walter Driscoll (1829) - Ken Ho (1702)
30 April 2004
After 16 Be5

16...Bg7? 17 Bxg7 Kxg7 18 Qf4 Qd6 19 Qe3 Rad8 20 Be2 Qf6 21 Rh3 Rh8 22 g4 Bc8 23 Rhh1 Qe6 24 Qxe6 Bxe6 25 c4 c6 26 g5 Rd7 27 Rd2 Rhd8 28 Rhd1 f6 29 f4 fxg5 30 fxg5 Rf8 31 Rf1 Rxf1+ 32 Bxf1 Rd6 33 b3 Bf5 34 Bg2 e6 35 c5 bxc5 36 dxc5 Rxd2 37 Kxd2 Kf7 38 Bxc6 Ke7 39 b4 e5 40 Ke3 1-0

In the postmortem Walter said, "I thought you were going to play 16...Bxe5 17 dxe5 Qxd2+ 18 Rxd2 Rad8 with a draw.". The subsequent open-mouthed silence? Yeah, that was me, making the sound of a player utterly dumbfounded by his lack of vision.

My favored iOS chess app tChess Pro (How's that, dfan?) even says that after 16...Bxe5 17 dxe5 Qe6 18 Qc3 Qxa2 19 Qxc7 Bd5 20 c4, Black has about a third of a pawn advantage (probably insignificant given our skill levels, I suspect). (tChess Pro @ "2500" rating, 30 seconds for Analysis mode limit.)

Customers often achieve perfectly reasonable or even winning positions, but are ever dogged by cruel cosmic chess injustice.

"We seem to be made to suffer. It's our lot in life."
(or was that c3 Sicilian?)

Fortunately I found a customer of my own (Sorry, Larry). Although I started our series off with a typically blunderful loss on my part, I subsequently collected 5 wins and 2 draws, and Larry's rating was similarly within a roughly 100-point range of mine.

Larry Eldridge and I often feed off each other's long thinks. In this game, he "saw" my ~26 minute think on move 9, and "raised" me by taking ~49 minutes for his 10th move.

Ken Ho (1804) - Larry Eldridge (1902)
3 May 2012
Time control: 40/2 d5, G/50 d5
After 19...Bf7

20 Qf3?

I was obsessed with offering to give up a pawn with check. Ah, Capablanca-Tartakower, New York 1924, what folly you inspired in me.... I felt that with the subsequent activity of my pieces combined with the clock situation, even someone who loves pawns like I do could bear to allow Black to take my d4 pawn.

While preparing this blog entry I checked tChess Pro's suggested moves at several junctures, and was rather put out to discover that in my Capablanca-esque dreams I had missed the crushing 20 Rxf7!! Kxf7 21 Qb3+ Ke7 (21...Ke8 22 Bg6+ Kd7 [22...Ke7 23 Qf7+ Kd6 24 Bf4 mate] 23 Qxb7+ and White is clearly winning) 22 Bg5+ and White is clearly winning. So Black's previous move should be punctuated as 19...Bf7??

20...Qxd4+ 21 Be3 Qf6 22 Qe2 Qe5 23 Bf4 Qc5+ 24 Be3

24...Qe5 I declined Larry's draw offer. To reach move 40, I had about 26 minutes left, and he had fewer than 2. Practically speaking, it seemed likely enough that his lack of time could lead to a gross blunder (and with my greater remaining time, it was my intention that such a blunder would not come from me!).

25 Qf2 O-O-O 26 Bf5+ Be6 27 Bxe6+ Qxe6

28 Bxa7 The loss of this pawn introduces queenside weaknesses which I thought would make it easier to win.

28...Be7 29 Bb6 Rdf8 30 Qd4 Rxf1+ 31 Rxf1

I had been looking forward to Black's next move, thinking that my queen's access to the a-file and Black's b-pawn weakness would allow me to bring home the point.

31...Bf6 32 Qa4 Kd7 33 Qd1+

tChess Pro gives 33 Qa7 Qd5 34 Qxb7+ Ke6 35 Re1+ Kf6 36 b4 h4 37 Rf1+ Kg6 38 a4 hxg3, with White having a slightly more than 2 pawn advantage. I had more than 8 minutes to make move 40, but Larry was almost out of time.

I had certainly considered 33 Qa7 earlier, and at this time I don't remember why I didn't play it. I don't normally believe in trying to blitz opponents when their flag is about to fall -- I prefer they self-destruct on their own.

33...Ke7? The Blunder Clock sounds midnight.

34 Re1 Bd4+?

After 34...Be5 35 Bc5+ Kf7 36 Qf3+ Qf6 37 Qe3 Re8 38 Rf1 Bf4 39 Qb3+ Kg6 40 Rxf4 tChess Pro considers White has more than a 4 pawn advantage.

1-0 (time forfeit).

I welcome Larry to continue depositing his rating points here at:
New customers are always welcome.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Elaine Kahn Memorial Photos

This past weekend, the Boylston's Elaine Kahn Memorial Tournament attracted one of strongest fields we have seen in some time. Here, LM Henry Terrie (2201) plays Ahmet Bolat (2473).

Action in the Under 1950 section. Clockwise, from top left: Alyssa Stachowski, section winner Mike Griffin (congrats, Mike!), Brandon Jacobson (hidden), Eddie Wei, Bowen Wang, and Nithin Kavi.

Open champion and former BCF President IM David Vigorito

Natasha Christiansen takes on Eric Godin.

Farzad Abdi faces Oliver Traldi
Syed Al-Mamun plays William Wisdom

Griffin, Jacobson, and Wei.

Eddie pondering his next move

Thomas Brinkmann playing Daniel Giaimo

All photos courtesy of Steven Stepak.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Harvard Yale

10 Board Chess Match

Steve Stepak witnessed Harvard Yale 10 Board Chess Match (60/SD), Friday 16 Nov in the Coolidge Room of Adams House in the heart of Harvard Square.
Overview HarvardYale 
Yale featured GM Robert Hess on Board 1 and WIM YuanLing Yuan on Board 2. Hess won his game; YuanLing drew. Hence: the match was drawn!  Harvard plans to send a strong contingent of players to the upcoming Boylston Chess Club Blitz Tournament on Tuesday 4 December !!
Yale Chess Stars YuanLing and GM Hess HarvardYale
 Boards of Directors HarvardYale

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Chess Train

By Alex Cherniack

Paul MacIntyre and I went to a neat chess tournament last month. It started in Prague on October 12, and then continued in Dresden, Wroclaw, Piestany, and Vienna, before finishing in Prague again, all within 5 days.

How did we play in so many countries in so little time? We were on the Chess Train, a unique tournament where all the games were played on a moving train. When the rounds finished for the day, all the participants checked into a hotel at the different cities, and had a chance to sight see. Then it was back on the train, for more chess. The 400 Euro entry fee covered all the train fares and the hotel accommodation, a fantastic bargain. The most expensive part about the trip was the airfare.

The time control was G/20 with a ten second time increment per move. The games started on the train at 10:00 AM, with 2-5 rounds per day. Most of the players were Czech, with a handful of players from Germany, Holland, and other East European countries. Paul and I were the only Americans.

The winner of the tournament was one of the two grandmasters, Martin Petr, with a perfect 13 out of 13 score. Paul and I had winning positions against him, only to lose on time trying to convert our advantages. German FM Jan-Dietrich Wendt won second place. Jan Plachetka, a legendary GM from Slovakia, finished in third. Paul and I tied for the remaining money prizes with Sven Roemling, an interpreter from Germany.

It was a fun tournament. Because the turnout was slightly lower than expected, the organizers had more prizes than participants. The organizers proved to be generous. They handed out chess piece-shaped chocolates to everyone on the way to Wroclaw, and flash drives in the shapes of trains on the way to Piestany. In Vienna, they organized for the players a tour of the city's legendary chess cafes. At the closing ceremony, everybody won something. Paul won a humongous food basket, and I won a digital Fischer random chess clock, in addition to the money.

Paul and I were there for the vacation - we played a token 'compatriot' draw when paired,

and by the end of the tournament we weren't even keeping scores of the games. I did save mine with Paul, though.

Paul MacIntyre-Alex Cherniack
(Round 8, played somewhere between Piestany and Vienna)

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Bb4 5.e5 h6 6.Bc1 Ne4 7.Qg4 g6 8.a3 Bxc3+ 9.bxc3 c5 10.Bd3 Nxc3 11.dxc5 Qa5 12.Qb4 Qxb4 13.cxb4 Bd7 14.Bb2 Na4 15.Bd4 Nc6 16.c3 Nb2 17.Be2 Nc4 18.Nf3 Ke7 19.0-0 a5 20.Bxc4 dxc4 21.b5 Nxd4 22.cxd4 Bxb5 23.Rfb1 Bc6 24.Bxc4 dxc4 25.Rc1 Bd5 25.Nd2 Rfc8 26.Rab1 Rc7 27.Nxc4 1/2-1/2

The best part about the tournament was the people. On a confined train for five days, you get to know your fellow participants very well between rounds in the restaurant car. Our opponents spoke good English, and were fascinating, accomplished people outside of chess: a retired bookseller, a stock investor who worked out of his laptop, a doctoral physics student, an interpreter who spoke 9 languages, an international trade lawyer, and others. Many of us went sightseeing together in the cities when the train stopped for the day.



Pavel Matocha, the lead organizer, promises to run the Chess Train again in October 2013. If the train stops in different countries, I will be there!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Elaine Kahn Memorial This Saturday 11/17


Elaine Kahn Memorial
CHAMPIONSHIP - U1950 - U1650


Saturday, November 17, 2012       4SS; G/60; d5 
Registration: 9:15 - 9:55 AM 
Rounds: 10:00, 12:40, 3:00, 5:15
Entry Fee: $25, $20 BCF Members if received by 11/15, $5 more at door
 Prizes: Championship $300 - $180, U2100 $100; U1950 $200-$120; U1650 $100
 NS, NC, W, Bring chess clocks 
Send advance entry fee to:  Boylston Chess Club, 240B Elm St., Suite B9 Somerville, MA 02144

This tournament is made possible by a generous donation from Richard Kahn, in honor of his late wife Elaine, who encouraged him to pursue his hobby of playing tournament chess.
Join us for this exciting event! 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Larry Christiansen Simul XI This Tuesday

In the beginning, the floor in the middle of South Station was without form or purpose, a great void of colored tile upon which those consumed by more pressing travels would walk by without a second thought.

But then on this spot there came to be a great event, on the second Tuesday of each month, in which one of the great legends of chess displays his might and mastery against over two dozen opponents at the same time.

As a Tuesday looms (November the 13th) which is the second of its month, as it was written in the schedules and on the posters, at the hour of 5:00 in the even time, such an event will begin again, welcoming new challengers until 6:30. Do you have what it takes?