Saturday, December 31, 2005

2006 KCC Calendar Posted

I have posted a tentative KCC Calendar for 2006 at the Kenilworth Chess Club website. We hope to add more specifics as the year begins. We kick off with the annual Club Championship tournament beginning January 12. The key difference from last year is that we will have two sections, Open and Under-1800. This should make for a much shorter event and a much stronger one in the Open Section. See our 2005 Club Championship website and A History of the Kenilworth Chess Club to learn more about the tradition.

Classical KID with ...Na6


diagram

White to play after 52...Bh2.
What's the winning idea?

When I visited FM Steve Stoyko the other day, we went over two of his games against GMs in the Classical King's Indian Defense with ...Na6, a line that suddenly interests me from both sides of the board as I begin to develop a d4 repertoire. Steve wanted to show me some of the ways White can build up his attack by capitalizing on his space advantage--which allows him to switch back and forth between queenside and kingside attacks. He also recommended that I look at the games of Sammy Reshevsky against the KID since he was one of the best for showing White's ideas. Steve's game against Sokolin is not only interesting for its opening play but also for the ending, which is practically a little puzzle (which he was unable to solve in time pressure and so had to settle for a draw against the GM).

I have always found the Black side of the Classical King's Indian rather easy to understand for Black. After all, the idea is to just go after White's King, as amateur player Jeff Otto nicely describes in "A Patzer's Progress," his story of learning to play the King's Indian Defense. Playing the White side requires a little more maturity, and it has taken me a few decades to acquire that. Some web articles that I have found helpful for thinking about the White side of the KID include the following:

King's Indian Defense: An Eternal Balance by Guillermo Rey

KID Fireworks, Part 1 by Andrew Martin

Feldman-Yuan, Australia 1999 annotated by John-Paul Wallace

2005 Kenilworth Chess Club Year in Review

Our outgoing president, Mike Stallings, wrote the following reflections on 2005 at the Kenilworth Chess Club, which he presented at the annual business meeting:

2005 KENILWORTH CHESS CLUB YEAR IN REVIEW

Once again we have come to the end of a spirited year of chess. I hope it has been a very successful and productive year for each and every one of you. 2005 was a year of many positive changes for our club, now up and running for 33 years strong. It saw our membership grow to over 30 active members, our treasury maintain its healthy balance, and the first ever Kenilworth Chess Club website become reality.

There were many events that most veteran members of the club have come accustomed to such as our Club Championship, the East Coast Team Tournament held in Parsippany, the summer tournament, and our Fall Rated Tournament. It also saw some new activities to benefit our club as well. There were matches held against South Orange CC and also against the Roselle Chess Club. We also saw Scott Massey and Steve Stoyko hold reasonably priced lectures for our members before normal meeting times.

One of the more accomplished feats our club accomplished this year took place at the US Amateur tournament held in Parsippany during President’s Day weekend. Our club helped to sponsor two teams to compete in the tournament, and one of our teams received a prize for scoring 4 points out of six and having the highest score for a New Jersey team! I once again congratulate Scott Massey, Steve Stoyko, Mike Goeller, and Ed Allen for the wonderful accomplishment and for bringing some well deserved recognition to our club.

For the first time in 9 years, we also crowned a new Club Champion from our tournament that ended in mid April. Steve Stoyko dethroned Scott Massey by scoring 10 out of possible 11 points to take the championship. Also our new under 1800 champion, Joe Demetrick deserves recognition for scoring 6 points in a very difficult and competitive field. 12 players in total competed in our 15th annual championship, and we hope to add more to this year’s field.
The 2005 Summer Tournament was once again a raging success. 17 players from our club participated in the event, with prizes going out to Mark Kerrnighan, Greg Tomkovich and Devin Camenares for having the most points through out the 12 weeks. As always, Greg you have my thanks for doing a wonderful job in coordinating this event as always, and I hope to be able to play in this event next year.

As we prepare to conclude another successful and fun year of chess here in Kenilworth, I take a look at the horizon and see opportunities for us to grow even more in the future. I have always felt that this club has a wonderful group of members that all tend to be willing to help others in their goals. This is true whether it is a beginning player looking for advice on how to get better or whether it is a life master showing a B rated player where the mistakes were made in his last game. This gives us something that very few clubs out there have: a union of members whom day in and out look to make others better and also willing to take their time out to do this.
There are many people within this club that have gone above and beyond the “call of duty” to make our club prosper for yet another year. Each of our officers has, as always exceeded their duties in order to insure our club functions on a daily basis. Joe, I think you did a wonderful job as treasurer this year, and also provided additional help in making these team tournaments against West Orange and Roselle become a reality. Ari, as always, you have kept our minutes precise and helped keep us organized. Greg, as I have told you many a times, I feel you have helped me maintain my office and the duties with it, even when I am unable to appear at the club as infrequently as I am able to with my new job and location.

I also would like to thank our chess masters, Scott and Steve, for providing the lectures in order for us to all strive to become the good sound players we all wish to be. The cost of these lessons is minimal compared to the knowledge we have obtained from the time you have given us. I have special thanks to give to Mike Goeller. Mike, you took the idea of us having our first website, grabbed the bull by the horns and made it a reality. You also made it so that my end of the year address is only 2 pages instead of 10 as you have provided the results of all of our matches and tournaments! You certainly have given us access to an incredible tool for both current and hopefully future members to use to make our games that much better.

In closing I wish to thank each and every one of you for your support this past year. Due to our club growing so rapidly, some of you I have not even had the opportunity to meet and get to know, but I hope to remedy that in the near future. To each and every one of you, I wish for a safe and happy holiday season for you and your families and for also a more prosperous New Year.

Mike Stallings
President, The Kenilworth Chess Club
December 22, 2005

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Bisguier-Sherwin, New York (Rosenwald) 1955


diagram

Can Black play 5...Qxb2?

I visited FM Steve Stoyko the other day and rummaged through his library, where I stumbled across Larry Evans's wonderful little book Trophy Chess: An Account of the Lessing Rosenwald Tournament, New York, 1954-1955 (New York: Scribners 1956). The tournament featured all of the pre-Fischer greats, including (in order of their finish) Sammy Reshevsky, Larry M. Evans, Art Bisguier, Donald Byrne, Jimmy Sherwin, and George Kramer in a double round-robin. Evans does a very nice job of annotating the 30 games.

Bisguier-Sherwin, New York 1955, which features a wonderful demonstration of why three pieces are often superior to a Queen, stood out from the rest. The opening, a Torre Attack, was also of interest and I have given detailed notes on that stage (which bears comparison to Torre Plays the Torre at Moscow 1925 and Torre-Saemisch, Moscow 1925). In the diagram above, the question is whether or not Black can get away with 5...Qxb2, and the answer to that question still seems rather important to the theory of this line. I think that the game gives a pretty good answer, so I am surprised not to have seen it discussed outside of Evans's marvelous little tournament book.

A note in passing: the Rosenwald Tournament, like a number of later events bearing that name, was made possible through the generosity of (to quote Evans's introduction) "a small, unselfish band of chess connoisseurs--like Alexander Bisno, Jose Calderon, Maurice Kasper, and Lessing Rosenwald" who had formed The American Chess Foundation to help advance the game in the U.S. I have not seen it argued by any chess historians, but I think there can be little doubt that the Rosenwald events helped create the environment that nurtured Bobby Fischer (witness D. Byrne - Fischer, New York 1956). It would be nice to see more done to cultivate that environment again through chess philanthropy and I will likely return to that subject in the context of discussing "chess as art" (rather than as sport), which I've been mulling since a previous post on why chess is not like poker.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Free Holiday Gifts

For those who feel they did not get exactly what they wanted for the holidays (and what chessplayer ever does?), here is a little list of chess freebies that might cheer you up:

1) Goran Urosevic helpfully reports that the latest issue of "Chess Chronicle" is available for free download. Also available for free download is the Issue 11. You can find some more free issues online at Chessville or from the Chess Chronicle Website.

2) ChessBase has posted their annual Christmas Puzzles 2005. And you can always go through their entire collection of free tactical puzzles.

3) Mig Greengard's "Chess Ninja" site offers free sample issues: White Belt #19 and White Belt #36 or Black Belt #4 and Black Belt #42 (depending on your playing strength).

4) Get some sample issues of Chess Today from their website, including one with excellent annotations of Topalov-Anand, San Luis 2005. Some additional free sample issues can be found off of Ralph Marconi's website.

5) Get some free sample issues of TWIC Theory featuring some nifty articles by Andrew Martin.

6) As a special New in Chess and ICC joint promotion, you can get an excellent free book and 2 months of ICC membership by subscribing to New in Chess. Not exactly free, but it includes a gift!

7) A great article by GM Sergey Ivanov on the Dutch Gambit in the Queen's Gambit Declined (1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 c5!?) feels like a free gift, though it is just standard fare for Chessville.

And, of course, you can always find lots of free chess content on the web or in the blogosphere. May these links rekindle the holiday spirit....

Monday, December 26, 2005

Return to Moscow 1925

Edward Winter has put his great piece on the "Analytical Disaccord" surrounding the game Capablanca-Bogoljubow, Moscow 1925 (which he calls "One of the most complex games ever played") on the web for free at his blog. Anyone who did not get enough of the Moscow 1925 tournament from NM Scott Massey's lecture earlier in the year will get the most complete fix imaginable from Winter's excellent piece, which cites all relevant analysis of this great game. Some may also be interested in his discussion of whether Bogo was the first "FIDE Champion."

Related posts: Torre Plays the Torre at Moscow 1925, Moscow 1925 Lecture Notes, Torre-Saemisch, Moscow 1925, and Capablanca-Ilyin-Zhenevsky, Moscow 1925.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Holiday Party and Elections


diagram

White to play and win.

We had an eventful night at the Kenilworth Chess Club. It began with our annual Holiday Party, featuring lots of pizza and other good stuff, including cookies and the traditional "chess puzzle cake" (see diagram above). The holiday decorations provided by the folks at the Rec Center (who hung wreaths during Steve Stoyko's last lecture!) helped create a festive atmosphere. Thanks to everyone who contributed to the feast.

Next came the annual business meeting, which had been postponed from the previous week because of low turnout due to icy road conditions. In his last act as outgoing Secretary, Ari Minkov has dutifully recorded the decisions made at the meeting, so I will only make a few notes (some of which repeat his own). I will also be posting Mike Stalling's report as outgoing president's, which was distributed as a printed document (once he sends me an electronic copy or I find time to retype it), which made a good summary of this year's events.

After Mike Stallings called the meeting to order and said a few words, Joe Demetrick gave his report as outgoing treasurer. Joe reported $771 in the treasury, a slight gain over last year despite numerous expenses. As Joe pointed out, our club benefits greatly from not having to pay rent to the community center, since Kenilworth continues to see us as a benefit to the community. And the few expenses we incurred were quite small. These included sponsorship of two teams for the U. S. Amateur Teams East ($125), trophies for the club championship (the cost of which exceded the entry fees last year by $50), equipment ($85), and the new website ($95). Planned expenses for the coming year include $95 for the website, a small amount for the purchase of scoresheets, new cabinet shelves, and $150 toward teams bearing the Kenilworth name at the U.S. Amateur Teams East in February. We agreed also to spend up to $50 beyond entry fees for the purchase of trophies for the Club Championship, if necessary.

After the treasurer's and president's report came the first item on the agenda (and one that always leads to much debate), which was the rules for the annual Club Championship. Ari sums these up well, though he does not give a date since none was decided upon. I will assume it will begin as it did last year at the second meeting of the year, which would be January 12, 2006. This year it will be broken into two sections, an Open section with players vying for the championship and an Under-1800 section with players vying for the Under-1800 title. The format will otherwise be the same as last year's event: a time control of Game-90, with 5-second-delay upon request. Trophies for Club Champion, second place, and third place, Under-1800, and Under-1500. The event will be Unrated. Entry Fee: $25, plus a $10 deposit toward excessive byes. Club membership ($15) required. Bye Policy: Two free byes, including excused absences for Holy Thursday and Passover (should this year's tournament run that long). After the two free byes, players are charged $5 for each additional bye up to four. More than four byes results in forfeit. Tournament Director: Geoff McAuliffe (TD) Sections: Open Section (for Club Championship) and Under-1800 (for under-1800 title). I will post whatever other details become available.

Elections were then held for the Club Officers for 2006. These are now as follows:

President: Joe Demetrick
Vice President: Greg Tomkovich
Treasurer: Geoff McAuliffe
Secretary: Michael Goeller
Tournament Director: Pete Cavaliere
Members-at-large: Mike Stallings, Mike Wojcio, Scott Massey, Bill Sokolosky, Pat Mazzillo, and Howard Osterman.


Joe Demetrick

Joe Demetrick, President



diagram

Greg Tomkovich, Vice President



diagram

Geoff McAuliffe, Treasurer



diagram

Michael Goeller, Secretary


The remainder of the evening was open to free play, since there were not enough people interested in a Bughouse Tournament. We also had a showing, thanks to Bill Sokolosky, of the film FRESH (1994), a compelling (if violent and curse-filled) story of a young inner-city chessplayer swept up, along with his family and loved ones, in the drug trade who uses his stunning strategic and tactical abilities to turn the tables on the drug lords and rescue himself and his sister from their clutches (though not without some drastic sacrifices to achieve his "victory"). There was general agreement that the chess depicted in the film was quite good, though Scott Massey did catch one scene with reversed King and Queen. However, to the film's general quality there was mixed reaction. I found it quite well done and brilliantly plotted and acted. Some found it merely disturbing. As Bill pointed out, though, it's the type of film that you really need to see twice to fully appreciate--though some will not be able to make it through the first viewing due to its graphic content. All I can say is that it was definitely not "Knights of the South Bronx" and definitely not for children!

Solution to the Holiday Puzzle:
[FEN "2K3N1/8/6P1/2k5/5r1N/8/8/8 w - - 0 1"]
1. Nf6 Rf1 2. Nf3 Rxf3 3. g7 Rg3 4. Ne4+ 1-0

Kernighan-West, Hamilton CC Quads 2005


diagram

What's White's strongest attacking move?

The recent game NM Mark Kernighan - NM James West, Hamilton CC Quads 2005, featured an interesting plan against the Classical Dutch after 1.d4 f5 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bg5!? This led to the exchange of dark squared Bishops, after which White adopted a Colle-like development (without the typical Colle problem of the dark-squared Bishop) with Nbd2, e3, Bd3, and Qe2 seeking to break with an early Pe4. Black stopped him with b6, Bb7, and Nf6-e4, when Mark came up with the interesting plan of Rg1!?, g4, and O-O-O with good play for White. To avoid the attack along the g-file, West castled queenside, but that proved no safe haven after Mark exchanged Bishops with Ba6 and Bxb7 and then developed a strong attack that utilized the weakened white squares around the Black King. The game ended with a nice mating attack. This is one of Mark's better games and worth a look, if only to see how Mark found the best way to attack the Black King in the diagram above...

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Notes on the Two Knights with d4

I recently posted a PGN file with some notes on lines in the Two Knights with d4. I have previously touched on The Two Knights Modern and the Two Knights Defense as Black in this blog, the latter posting in response to the first installments on the line by Pete Tamburro at Chess.fm and Tim Harding at Chess Cafe. Tim Harding's recent Kibitzer #115 focused on the lines with White d4 (written for experts) and Pete's latest lecture on various lines of the Two Knights (directed more at younger players) prompt my follow-up and analysis. Since I have analyzed these lines extensively, I thought I'd write a few words and offer up some analysis from my own files. The discussion below follows the order that Harding presents things (from worst to best for White), though my PGN file takes it in the other order.

I have written what is probably the most complete treatment of the Perreux Variation of the Two Knights Defense (not something I'm exactly proud to announce!) which occurs most commonly after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.Ng5!? The reason that my treatment is most extensive, of course, is that it is more a duffer's move than 4.Ng5. I think it's playable, as are all openings, below 2000-rating or at fast time controls, but it is not to be recommended for serious games. Black does need to know what he is doing to gain equality or even an edge, however, and most published analysis (which barely scratches the surface) will be almost no use to him. I only began analysing this line (which I myself had never played in a serious game) because it occured in almost all of the Two Knights games from the Dimock Theme Tournament of 1924 which I featured on my Urusov Gambit System site, and I wanted to create a coherent presentation built around the openings that occured in that tournament. It's not really something I recommend for White, but Black needs to know it.

In speed games, few of my opponents have any clue what they are doing and almost all play the difficult lines with 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4 Nc6 5.Ng5 Ne5, where White gets lots of interesting play (though Black should be fine or even better here too with best play, as my analysis shows). As Pete Tamburro points out in his lecture, Black simply should not follow suit with White and waste time moving the same piece twice. Instead, he should break immediately in the center (the best way to meet a flank attack) with 5...d5! 6.exd5 and now best is the Queen check with 6...Qe7+! to which White really has only one good reply, which is 7.Kf1. This generally involves sacrificing a pawn for Black, but White's misplaced King alone is sufficient compensation. No one really played this way until the 1960s, so you know it is not something that's easy to discover on your own. But once you have a little analysis on it (and Pete does a good job of covering Black's best ideas) you should be able to embarrass White for trying it.

One critical line, in my current view, is 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4 Nc6 5.Ng5 d5 6.exd5 Qe7+ 7.Kf1 Ne5 8.Qxd4 h6! 9.Ne4 Nxc4 10.Nxf6+ Qxf6 11.Qxc4 Bd6 12.Qe2+! which occured in the game Szabo-Kostic, Ljubljana 1938, where Black had compensation for the pawn due to White's Kf1 but it was an interesting struggle. Pinski focuses on this line in his analysis but offers only the weakly contested game Bucan-Geller, Bad Woerishofen 1992, as evidence that Black is doing well, even though he liberally sprinkles "?" annotations on White's moves. I'm always disappointed with opening books that give weak games to make their points. Harding gives none of this in his analysis, preferring to focus on the even easier question of why 7.Qe2? is a mistake for White. As I say, you are not generally going to get much guidance on how to defeat these lines as Black, and even Pete Tamburro's lecture simply points you in the right direction. I hope my PGN file gives you more to go on.

In his lecture, Pete covers the lines, like the Perreux, that club and class players are likely to encounter from time to time, including 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Nc3 and the more 4.O-O Bc5 5.d4!? seeking transposition to the Max Lange by 5...exd4 6.e5. If only it were that easy to reach the Max Lange (no matter what Chris Baker will suggest)! I have looked at these lines as a way of side-stepping the annoying Anti-Lange lines, but have discovered that Black has pretty good play here, as Pete points out. I will likely discuss them at some point, since there is a lot of forgotten theory I have unearthed. One thing I'll note in passing, though, is that White even has trouble entering these lines after the Giuoco move order 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.O-O because of the "Lost Variation" 4...d6! with good play for Black, as Mark Morss discusses.

Harding sticks to the main lines that follow 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 including 5.O-O and 5.e5. As he writes, White's only good option is likely the Modern Variation with 5.e5, but there is still a lot Black needs to know about the 5.O-O lines, which have been analyzed deeply into the King and Pawn ending! In my PGN, I provide some interesting games (that I have not seen mentioned) of correspondence IM Max Zavanelli, who typically enters these variations via the Urusov Gambit move order 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.O-O. If you look closely through my Urusov analysis, you will see that Zavanelli is something of my "opening hero" in those lines, so I have immediate respect for his ideas. And he does seem to be the player who has found the most ideas for White in the deep ending line that follows 1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. O-O Nxe4 6. Re1 d5 7. Bxd5 Qxd5 8.Nc3 Qa5 9. Nxe4 Be6 10. Neg5 O-O-O 11. Nxe6 fxe6 12. Rxe6 Bd6 13. Bg5 Rde8 (you can always study instead 13...Rdf8!?) 14.Qe1, when all the heavy pieces generally get exchanged along the e-file leaving us in the ending before move 20. But what an ending! Analysis by Soltis suggested that White might be winning. Then analysis by Benko showed that White "struggles to draw." Now Zavanelli's games show that the verdict is still difficult to arrive at, though it is likely equal with best play by both sides. In any case, both sides need to know their stuff since a single slip can be fatal. If you like sharp endgame analysis, check out these games!

Harding simply dismisses these so-called Anti-Lange lines as equal "as is well-known from countless games," but you certainly need to know your stuff as Black to survive this ultra-sharp ending! But he does point us to some of the most important games with the line 8...Qh5! 9.Nxe4 Be6 10.Bg5 Bd6! including Friedel-Onischuk, USA ch, San Diego 2004, which I include in the PGN.

Too bad Black has such good play after 4...Nxe4! or we could steer things toward the Modern Horowitz Variation of the Max Lange and get the edge!

Finally, we arrive at the Modern Variation with 5.e5, which must be White's best by process of elimination. Harding does a good survey of the lines covered by Pinski (The Two Knights Defense) and Davies (Play 1.e4 e5!). There is so much more that has been and could be written on these lines and I may return to them in the future. In my PGN file, I offer only some games from Nakamura (who goes by "Smallville" on ICC, after Superman's home town), including his recent loss against the annoying move 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Bc4 Nf6 5. e5 d5 6. Bb5 Ne4 7. Nxd4 Bd7 8. Bxc6 bxc6 9. O-O Bc510. f3 Ng5 11. f4 Ne4 12. Be3 Qb8!? which is gaining popularity due to its favorable rating from Fritz and his silicon kin but has not been mentioned by any analysts I have read. Gary Lane covers the equally annoying 12...Rb8!? in his recent The Bishop's Opening Explained, but he is the only one to touch on this alternative treatment.

Enjoy the analysis. Recommendations and revisions are welcome in the comments section.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Postponed Business Meeting

Due to icy conditions on the roadways this past Thursday evening, attendance was low at the club. Only about 10 people showed up for the annual Business Meeting, where we elect officers of the club and create the calendar for the coming year (including rules for the Club Championship tournament). Therefore it was decided that the Business Meeting should be moved to this coming Thursday, when we have the annual Holiday Party and Bughouse Tournament.

Please come early for an 8:00-sharp Business Meeting and elections. We will probably have the club open by 7:00 p.m. to set things up. And please note that members of the larger Kenilworth community are likely to attend during this day and we hope to make them as welcome as possible.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Chess and Computers Bibliography

I have begun a list of links to online resources devoted to Chess and Computers at our main links page, but I recognize that it is just a start and needs revision and expansion. It is one of many projects on my list (a list that keeps growing during this busy time of the year at work). As part of that project, I decided to make a list of books devoted to computers and chess for general users--meaning non-programmers. There is a long history of literature devoted to chess computer programming, most of which is rather specialized. That literature is documented to some extent at Louis Kessler's Links and Bibliography pages, the Computer Chess Programming blog, and Computer Chess Bibliography, which make good starting points if you are interested in the topic. The complete literature on chess programming is huge and goes back decades. And, frankly, I don't think it is of interest to most chessplayers.

What most chessplayers want in a chess-tech book is, as the title of a classic text by Julio Kaplan put it, How to Get the Most from Your Chess Computer (RHM Press 1980). And the ideal text would really be something current and specific to the technology they are using, much like what David Noble offered in his book Master the Chessmaster (Hayden Books 1992). They want to learn how to use their computers to do opening analysis, to use chess databases, and to access chess materials using the internet. And they want advice on how to integrate computers into the ways they study chess to help them improve. The following books fit that bill, though none cover the whole range of technological issues that chessplayers might want to know about and all suffer from that unavoidable bane of technology: rapid obsolescence. All of these books are still useful to some extent, but they will not be useful for long.

1) Jacob Aagaard, John Emms, and Byron Jacobs, Chess Software User's Guide (Everyman Chess 2003)
If you are looking for a purely practical guide to using chessplaying and database programs to improve your game, and if you own ChessBase products (such as Fritz 6+ or ChessBase 6+), this is the book to buy. Each author takes on different chapters devoted to "Managing Databases," "Learning a New Opening," "Learning about Yourself...and Your Opponents," "Relating Openings to Middlegames and Endgames," "General Training," and "Special Computer Products." Even though I had extensive experience with ChessBase programs when I purchased it, I still learned a great deal – most importantly, I learned how to do things (such as compiling a database and checking for duplicates) the best way rather than simply the way that I had figured out on my own. Get your copy while it is still available and still relevant.

2) Lev Alburt and Al Lawrence, Playing Computer Chess: Getting The Most Out Of Your Game (Sterling 1998)
Written to be an introduction to chess computers for kids, beginners, and chess computer novices, this book seems designed as a gift to accompany a first chess computer for the beginner or developing player. It seems especially well-written for its intended audience. It is a bit dated in its focus on stand-alone devices given the rise of Fritz and others these days. For those of us with more chess or computer knowledge, however, it has very limited utility (except, perhaps, as a teaching tool).

3) Mark Crowther, Chess on the Net (Everyman 2001)
Written by the founder of The Week in Chess (TWIC)--source of current chess news and games--this survey of chess on the internet is certainly authoritative even if severely dated. I find this book most useful for remembering the recent history of chess on the net, since it captures that moment before the rise of Google, when ICC had just gone pay-only and “Kasparovchess.com” was still alive and dominant. Yes, that now seems a long time ago, but we are talking just five years! So there are uses for this book, not least of which is its extensive list of categorized links (which has not been completely supplanted by the numerous links sites on the web, where you can click your way through). Even if the listed links are broken there is always the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine to find what you missed, so the history of internet chess that this book documents is still alive for us today....

4) Sarah Hurst, Richard Palliser, and Graham Brown, Chess on the Web (Batsford 2000)
I had the first edition of this book, which I have since either given away or lost. It was very much out of date even when I read it, since it was written during the growth of the World Wide Web when there were still many unintegrated parts to it. I got the "new" edition when it first came out in 2000, and it had a big impact on my thinking about chess on the web. I was especially fascinated by the interviews it offers with webmasters and others who put up the first major chess websites, play sites, and forums. This "new" edition is also out of date (it’s simply impossible to keep current with the web through books). It was written when Mig Greengard was still best known for his association with the now-defunct Kasparovchess.com website and when newsgroups were not directly accessible on the web through any browser. So it was a different age. Unlike Crowther's book, which strives to be inclusive and therefore has a long list of links, this web survey offers relatively selective links to specific websites. Both suffer from the transformations of the past five years. Hurst et. al. have a better percentage of live links, but Crowther's larger number means that he is still ahead at the end despite his low percentage. It's difficult to say which approach is better for the longevity of a book about "chess on the web." In any event, such works rapidly turn into the history of chess on the web. In that regard, I like the interviews offered by this book, but I think Crowther has done a better job of surveying the entire scene. I notice that the edition sold by Amazon says "2003," yet I recently saw the 2000 edition at my local Barnes and Noble, so I am not sure if there may be a more updated version out there than the one I have.

5) Christian Kongsted, How to Use Computers to Improve Your Chess (Gambit 2003)
For a book whose title promises very practical advice on "using computers to improve your game," it spends an inordinate amount of time on the history, theory, and problems of chessplaying computers. In fact, over half of the book is devoted to what I'd consider more "theory" than "practice," including sections on "The Blind Spots of the Computer" and "How to Beat the Computer." These are important issues in some contexts and certainly it's necessary to know the theory in order to understand the practice. But I was hoping for more on "Computer Assisted Analysis" and got only 13 pages that are sometimes quite general (in order to avoid becoming too quickly obsolete). I have always managed to pick up a thing or two from any book I read on technology, and I found the most value in the sections on using programs such as Fritz to improve your opening, tactical, and endgame play. I especially like the idea of playing out "won" endings (such as K+N+5P v K+N+4P) against the computer to improve your technique and the positions he offers (complete with analysis of the best way) are helpful. All in all, this is still a very relevant and useful book for non-beginners. And because Kongsted is not tied to any particular product (i.e.: ChessBase), his advice is likely to be useful to a wide audience.

6) John Nunn. "Using a Computer." Chapter 5 of Secrets of Practical Chess (Gambit 1998), pp. 166-173.
This seems to be one of those add-on chapters recommended by the publisher rather than something integral to this otherwise quite first-rate book. Of course, we also have to remember that it was written before 1998, so that may explain some of its limitations. And, to his credit, Nunn keeps his advice useful and general enough so that every word in the chapter is still relevant today. The chapter covers three things especially well: compiling and using game databases for opening study, using the computer as a training partner, and developing opening novelties with the aid of a computer. The illustrative examples are quite well chosen and are cited by some of the other books here (which appeared later).

7) Bruce Pandolfini, Kasparov and Deep Blue: The Historic Chess Match Between Man and Machine (Fireside 1997)
There are a number of books and articles about the Kasparov-Deep Blue match and there is even an excellent film titled Game Over now available on DVD. But I have not seen such a useful book as the one Pandolfini wrote on the match and the games it produced. Recognizing that the world-wide coverage of this match in the press would likely increase the number of beginners buying chess books, Pandolfini wrote mostly for them with extensive move-by-move commentary on the games. Along the way he touches on many topics related to computer chess. Highly recommended for all levels.

8) Robert Pawlak, Chess Software Sourcebook (Treehaus 1999)
A useful if basic and dated introduction to purchasing and using various common computer programs.

9) Robin Smith, Modern Chess Analysis (Gambit 2004)
If you are a relatively advanced OTB or correspondence player interested in learning more about how best to use your chess computer to do opening or game analysis, this book is written expressly for you by one of the highest rated American correspondence players. It covers all the issues relevant to using your computer for deep analysis. In the final analysis, however, “chess analysis” is its only focus and so those interested in learning more about other practical uses of chess computers may wish to look elsewhere. But for advanced users, this is probably the best of the bunch and you are likely to learn something useful here.

10) Alex Yermolinsy, The Road to Chess Improvement (Gambit 2000)
In a very short end chapter titled "Let's Talk Computer Chess," the former U.S. Champ offers mostly a critique of chess compters followed by a discussion of some games he has won against the machines and how he did it. This seven page chapter is certainly not the reason to buy Yermo's otherwise excellent book, unless you just want to learn how to beat the damn things.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Bobby Fischer Auction

Someone is offering to sell Bobby Fischer's effects (from the infamous stolen storage) on Ebay. There is a story on ChessBase that includes commentary. I don't expect anyone reading this to make a bid, but I suggest you check out the stuff. It offers a fascinating window on what it took to be a top player in the years B.C. ("before ChessBase"), as John Henderson calls it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Internet Chess Piracy

Anyone who publishes material online will eventually find people copying it and representing it as their own. This is copyright infringement, plain and simple, but how to deal with it is not plain or simple at all on the internet. Having published a lot of chess analysis online and patrolled the net in search of chess links, I have not only suffered outright piracy of my material but also have had the misfortune of catching the thieves red handed. I say "misfortune" because it's annoying to find people representing your hard work and efforts as their own (when all they did was copy and paste) and it is absolutely frustrating and time-consuming to try to do anything about it. How can you resolve those feelings of anger toward these lazy pirates without getting more angry by wasting prescious hours of your life trying to get them to simply take it down? There has got to be a better way.

What can be done?

I'm not sure I have the final answer, but I've decided to start pursuing these cases. You see, when it first happened to me I was more than a little angry and wrote a nasty letter that achieved some results. When it happened to me a few more times, I was certainly angry (who would not be? they are lazy scum, plain and simple) but I was too busy to do anything about it. Now that it has happened again, though, I am suddenly curious about how far I can go to pursue it and make it stop. I'm not really angry--anger never motivates me very well (which may be why I'm not a more competitive chessplayer). Instead, I am curious, and that is motivating. I guess that is why I like to do opening analysis -- to satisfy my curiosity. In this case, I want to know: "What can be done?"

The first time I was ripped off was by the French site Mjae in an article on the Urusov Gambit. Here is one of the original passages from my writing that they stole:

"The Urusov has been popular among attacking players for nearly 150 years. Adopted by Keidanski, Schlechter, Tartakower, Caro, and Mieses, the opening claimed victims among the best defenders of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including Steinitz and Lasker. By 1924 there was enough interest in the line that a thematic tournament was organized in New York featuring Marshall, Torre, and Santasiere (see the Dimock Theme Tournament web site for more details). More recently, correspondence players have explored the opening's many forcing lines, and Yakov Estrin (World Correspondence Champion from 1975 to 1980) published several monographs that carried the analysis into the middlegame. Estrin's analysis revealed, however, a possible equalizing method for Black (with Panov's 4....d5) and suggested that some of the deepest lines might end in equality with best play. With that the opening fell into disfavor at the highest levels of master competition, and today it is mostly seen in club play, where it racks up quick scores against inexperienced or unprepared opponents."

Here is the same passage translated into French on the Mjae website:

"Urusov a été populaire parmi les joueurs d'attaque pendant presque 150 ans. Adopté par Keidanski, Schlechter, Tartakower, Caro et Mieses, l'ouverture a fait beaucoup de victimes parmi les meilleurs défenseurs de la fin du 19ème et début du 20ème siècle, y compris Steinitz et Lasker. A partir de 1924 il y avait assez d'intérêt pour cette ligne de jeu que des tournois thématiques ont été organisés. Plus récemment, les joueurs par correspondance ont exploré pas mal de lignes forçées de l'ouverture, et Yakov Estrin (champion du monde par correspondance de 1975 à 1980) a édité plusieurs monographies qui ont porté l'analyse jusque dans le milieu de jeu. L'analyse d'Estrin indique, cependant, une méthode égalisante possible pour les Noirs (avec le 4...d5 de Panov) et suggère que certaines lignes les plus pointues pourraient finir par donner l'égalité aux Noirs. C'est ainsi que le gambit Urusov est tombé en désuétude au haut niveau, et aujourd'hui on ne le voit la plupart du temps que dans des parties de club. Cependant, il reste très pédagogique et les attaques brutales qui peuvent en découler, les schémas de mat, les sacrifices de qualité, de pièces, voire de Dame, vous apporteront bien plus que la simple étude d'une ouverture."

Even if you do not know any French, you can use your excellent pattern-recognition skills from years of chess study to understand the exact duplication perpetrated here. In this case I wrote them a letter and they agreed to acknowledge me on their site. Though I had asked them at least to give me author's credit, they simply provided a link to my materials. That satisfied me (I am too busy for more), since anyone who does any looking through both of our sites will recognize their theft. But it did increase my natural-born American hostility toward the French, I must confess....

I have since figured out some better ways of addressing the issue than simply writing to the culprits -- though that has to be a first step. Now, however, I write to the culprits by email and also to their service providers. You see, service providers tend to be honest and have policies about infringing other peoples' copyrights. So you can generally use them as your muscle.

The question remains, though, how do you find out where the pirated material is actually hosted? Ah... There are ways. And you can simply use the UNIX "whois" command if you know programming. But a rather simple one for those of us who don't is to use the detective tools available from the appropriately titled "SamSpade.org" website.

In the first search line at their tools menu, you simply enter the URL of the offending page and it will tell you the host. Take, for example, my recent discovery that my links pages from my Urusov Gambit website had been completely pirated (bad coding and all) by the Atticus Chess Club website. I entered their info into Sam Spade and got my first clue where I should be directing my complaints.

To his credit, I must say that the Atticus webmaster responded quickly to my email message about the problem and if you visit their links page you will see the notice that it is "currently being updated" (which may mean that they are working on one of their own or simply trying to hide their theft as much as possible -- we'll see). But to make sure that he did take action I also sent a message to his service provider who did look into the issue and alerted me to the fact that the offending page was no longer in place.

Score one for the writers of original chess material.

Any other suggestions would be most welcome. And if I uncover any other useful resources in this regard I will be sure to let you know.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Colle in Black and White

I have been working on several PGN files with Colle games related to the lines that FM Steve Stoyko covered in his Lecture #5. I am especially interested in the Queen's Indian / Hedgehog formation that Steve has played himself. I found two very interesting games of his on opposite sides of this line in the obscure book "The Dogs of War," which collects Colle games from New Jersey tournament players of many ranks. The critical difference between the two games is that as Black Steve plays ...Pd6! but as White his opponent plays the less-strong ...Pd5?! allowing White to dominate the e5 square with Ne5! Worth comparing.

Also of interest are several unannotated Colle games from the wonderful book "Colle Plays the Colle" by Adam Harvey that feature the set-ups that Steve discussed, including also where Black plays ...d5, ...Nbd7, ...c5, ...g6, and ...Bg7. If you play the Colle as White, by the way, Harvey's book is a must-have. I actually don't play it myself (though I do recommend it to my students), but the book is such a wonderful piece of historical opening research that I simply had to have it.

Last but not least, I have posted the annotated PGN file of the fascinating game Kupchik-Capablanca, Lake Hopatcong 1926 that features a Queen's Indian set-up against the Colle that takes an interesting turn toward a Dutch (with ...Ne4 and ...f5). The plan that Capablanca executes in this game is simply ingenious and must be studied closely to be appreciated. With the pawn formation locked in the center and his play on the queenside, the great Cuban champion begins pushing his pawns on the kingside in what first appears to be a weakening of his position there, inviting attack. But his plan is very deep, because these pawn moves are actually establishing a fortress there, and when Kupchik brings his army to that side (where it will not be able to break through), only then does Capa begin his decisive attack on the other flank. A great game to study.

I will be finishing my annotations this week and likely posting java applets of them. But for those who prefer the PGN files anyway, I thought I'd make them available now.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Stoyko Lecture #5 Posted

Steve Stoyko gave us his "bonus" or "summing up" lecture last night at the Kenilworth Chess Club. I may post a version of it in the coming week, perhaps with comparisons to Horowitz's coverage of the Lasker in his famous "How to Think Ahead in Chess" repertoire book. Meanwhile, I finally posted a java applet version of his Lecture #5 which focuses on White alternatives. More to come, including some Colle games and notes.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

New Yorker Article on Computer Chess

The latest issue of The New Yorker magazine (December 12, 2005) features an article by Tom Mueller titled "Your Move: How Computer Chess Programs Are Changing the Game." As Mig points out, its information value for serious players is probably rather low. But for the general New Yorker readership, it does a good job of portraying the highest levels of computer chess (including the Hydra-Adams match) in an accurate, understandable, and interesting way. I think it's unfortunate, however, that those highest levels are all that gets portrayed in any public discussion of computer chess. The problem is that the general public can easily get the impression that chess is essentially "solved" (which it is not) or at least that there is not much point in pursuing it since computers are already so much better at it than we are. You might as well play poker, where people can at least still bluff their way to victory against the risk-averse silicon beasts. Moreover, by sticking to the story of the world's best computers we miss out on what to me seems the more interesting story of how readily available GM-strength chess computers have helped to popularize the game like never before.

The focus of Mueller's piece is the computer programmer and self-described average player Chrilly Donninger, who is best known as the man who developed Hydra (with the help of all-important Saudi funding, of course). He is an interesting character who reminds me of the other chess programmers I have met over the years. For one thing, he is much more interested in technology as a problem to be solved than he is in the people it might help. As Mueller tells us, in fact, "Doninger is no longer intrested in man-versus-machine matches" -- nor in any chess games played by those blunder-prone player of flesh and blood. Even the prospect of Kasparov vs. Hydra (the unlikely but exciting dream match-up for many chess fans) leaves him cold. He says: "I'm much more intersted in beating Shredder, Fritz, and the other programs... I learn more from those matches."

Personally, I find computer matches rather ludicrous. But maybe I just haven't been paying attention to them for a few years. Maybe computer vs. computer games are more interesting these days. I assume, however, that they are still more interesting for programmers than they are for chessplayers. We are looking for plans and ideas, counterplans and strategies. Computer chess doesn't really offer that.

It must be said, though, that Mueller has done an excellent job of portraying his subject. I especially enjoyed his clear discussion of the rise of brute force programming and of the issues GM-strength chess programs raise about the definition of intelligence. After reading the article, I feel more convinced than ever that, as philosopher Mark Greenberg is quoted as saying, "there's no reason in principle that a computer couldn't think, have beliefs and oher mental states, [and] be intelligent." We just have not quite reached that level of complexity yet. But we keep getting closer and closer and it is no longer a matter of "if" but "when."

Good articles on chess in major publications are always welcome for promoting the game. I simply wish I'd see more articles about the human side of the game than the "man versus machine" angle so dominant these days. Perhaps "man versus machine" is the new "Cold War" for which chess has become a metaphor. And there is some fun to these articles for the philosophically minded. It's just that I'm more interested in the smaller, local story. And if the story must be about computers, then I wish it would survey the larger world of chessplayers to see "how computers are changing the game."

The wide availability of GM-strength chess programs (some even freely downloadable from the internet) has made chess a more interesting and enjoyable activity for everyone. Chessplaying computer programs give anybody an instant opponent, coach and trainer, analysis partner, and chess-publishing assistant. Computers have raised the level of everyone's game at every level. And computers have transformed the game more generally. Today, anyone can go online and instantly play against someone else anywhere in the world. Or download recent games for analysis. Or gain access to articles about chess history or the latest theory. The list goes on. I'm rather more interested in how people are using computers than what the computers are off doing on their own. They are inevitably part of the game. I just wish the story were less how they are taking it over than how they are helping it grow.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

My Max Lange Analysis Cited in Kaissiber #22

Stefan Bücker writes me that "for the next issue of my chess magazine Kaissiber (#22) GM Lev Gutman has written a detailed article on the Max Lange Attack (20 pages), and he concentrated on exactly the same line which you call the 'Modern Horowitz Variation,' i. e. 8. fxg7 followed by Bg5. By the way, Max Lange himself in his article (Dt. Schachzeitung 1854) had given 8 Re1+ as the main line, mentioning in the next line that 8 fxg7 might be better. Lev Gutman has found many fascinating lines, altogether he says White has an advantage."

GM Gutman will apparently be citing (and very likely critiquing!) some of my analysis. They may publish my photograph and will send me a free issue (so I can show it around the club, of course). I may be the next Adrian Skelton, whose analysis of the Jackal Attack in the French appeared in the venerable New in Chess.... I owe it all to Pete Tamburro who introduced me to Horowitz's analysis.

Some of my analysis on the Urusov has been cited, including in the excellent book Danish Dynamite and in an article by Tim Harding. But this is the first recognition of my Kenilworth Chess Club articles, so I'm very proud to share the news here.

Kernighan-Klemm, Mount Arlington 2005


diagram

Black to play after 16.Kb1 in
Gulko-Zvjaginsev,New York 1997.


NM Mark Kernighan recently played an interesting game with a rare line of the Nimzo-Indian: 1. d4 e6 2. c4 Nf6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Bd2?! Perhaps the "?!" annotation is too harsh, but his opponent certainly got a lot of counterplay and had a number of ways to equalize early on. The game is worth playing over not only for its rare opening but also for its crazy middlegame and fine ending, which Mark conducted with his typically superb technique. I have tried to do a complete work-up on the opening, since it seems the type of thing that club players are bound to encounter from time to time. The diagram above is taken from one of the more interesting games with the line, Gulko-Zvjaginsev,New York 1997, with Black to play. The full game can be found in my notes to the Kernighan-Klemm game.

Monday, December 05, 2005

1.d4 d5 Repertoire - Lecture #5 PGN

I put together the PGN file of Steve Stoyko's 1.d4 d5 Repertoire - Lecture #5 over the weekend, adding several games to Steve's presentation. He promises to do a bonus lecture this week on the Catalan since he did not cover it extensively and introduced a complex system that requires some care to play. With that in mind, I also put together a PGN file on the brilliancy prize game Ed. Lasker-Capablanca, Lake Hopatcong 1926 which may have been among the first Catalans. Capa's initiative-grabbing system against it with 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.g3 c5 4.c4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 d5 6.Bg2 e5!? (which can also arise by a number of transpositions) is still valid -- having been adopted by Tal and even a young Kasparov -- and offers an interesting alternative to the more currently fashionable method that Steve outlined in his lecture. I will turn these files into java applets later this week when time allows.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Speaking of Chess in the Movies...


Chess in the Movies
A scene from "Knights of the South Bronx."


On Tuesday December 6th at 8:00 p.m., Arts and Entertainment Television (A&E) will air the chess docudrama "Knights of the South Bronx" starring Ted Danson, which looks like a well-made and inspiring film in the line of "Searching for Bobby Fischer." It tells the true story David MacEnulty, an English teacher (why do they always teach English?) who finds a way to help his students believe in their academic abilities through chess. I will have to add it to my growing list of "Chess in the Movies." I've already recommended it to my students.

Hat tips to The Chess Mind and Boylston Chess Club Weblog.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Teaching Chess to Kids, Part IV


diagram
White to play.


Today I meet again with the 6- to 8-year-old chess students. They are a great bunch of kids and all very bright. Not having had experience with kids this age, though, I have to admit I was initially disappointed not to see more dramatic improvement in their play. I have to keep reminding myself that most just learned the moves a month or two ago, and most of them just learned how to read! So mastering chess is going to take a while.

To help keep track of their progress (and to make sure they can continue to improve after we've stopped meeting), I made sure to teach them algebraic chess notation at our last lesson. It was surprisingly easy thing for them -- surprising because everyone said that kids this age would have trouble with it. But all of them had played the game "Battleship" (where you have to name the rows and columns with letters and numbers), so they were quick studies. And almost all of them were able to write down their moves so that I could understand them.

When I compare their two best games (which both feature illegal moves) to my own earliest recorded games at age 13 -- when I was practically twice their age and had already read several chess books! -- I have a lot of hope! You can make the comparison yourself. They have years to get that good and better. I predict that within a year some could be better than I was at age thirteen.

The diagram above is taken from one of my best games as a 13-year-old, from a match I played with a friend of mine. I could have drawn but went for the win. We both recorded the moves. Our competition drove us to read books (I must have gone through everything by Horowitz, Chernev, and Reinfeld at my public library) and by the time we began attending a chess club we were already good players.

My students have a ways to go, as you'll see. But you have to start somewhere. The most important thing is that they are writing their moves down, which means they have a chance to correct their mistakes. And being able to write chess notation means that they are able to read it, which opens up the world of chess literature to them. When they enter fourth grade (the time when kids switch from learning to read to reading to learn), they will be ready to make huge strides. Our next lessons should do a lot to improve their performances. And these first recorded games will serve as a valuable benchmark to help measure that improvement.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Chess in the Movies


Chess in the Movies
The first and only book on chess cinema.


Readers of this blog know that I have an interest in chess in the movies. I tried to organize a "Summer Chess Film Festival" at the Kenilworth Chess Club with some success, resulting at least in very enjoyable showings of "Chess Fever" and "Game Over - Kasparov and the Machine." So it should come as no surprise to you that I had to have Bob Basalla's Chess in the Movies, despite some mixed reviews I had seen by Edward Winter, Jeremy Silman, and British Chess Magazine. The reviews are right: there are some errors and the author admits he has not seen most of the films he documents. But ultimately this is a very enjoyable read and an excellent book to request (or purchase for yourself!) as a holiday gift.

If you are interested in chess and cinema then you must have it since (as far as I know) it is the only book of its kind. There have been websites and articles and various other references. Until now, though, there have been no books. There are at least two excellent listings of chess in film available online, including one by Bill Wall and another titled Chess in the Cinema / Schach in Kino maintained by the Schachklub Giessen (which features a number of photos). And there was a much cited series by Frank Brady titled "Chess in the Cinema" that appeared in Chess Life & Review from 1978-1979. I have the April 1979 article at hand -- in an issue that featured a number of other excellent pieces (ah the grand old days of Chess Life!), including one by Mike Valvo and Ken Thompson on Belle's success at the 1978 Computer Championship.

Basalla has read the Brady articles and cites them often, along with a number of other references. He offers no bibliography of sources, however, despite the fact that most of his information comes second hand and not from his own viewing experience. Of course, it is typical of chess literature to leave out the bibliography! Here, however, it is a glaring and very disappointing omission.

Despite its flaws, Basalla's book is the most complete reference to date, certainly fulfilling his dream to "be one of the 'leading world authorities' on a topic!" I cannot imagine another book like it coming out soon, though his has certainly laid the groundwork for further studies.

Besides its value as a unique reference, it is also a good read and one I have enjoyed perusing at chance moments. When he has seen a film and gets into the description, Basalla's writing and analysis are both insightful and funny. Of the brief chess references in the film "Faculty" (1998), for example, he writes: "...Casey's dad (Chris MacDonald) informs his son (Elijah Wood) that certain 'extracurriculars' must stop until his grades improve. 'Sorry pal, no more flogging the bishop,' he says. Dad is talking about chess, isn't he?" (128). Or his note on "Eroticon" (1929): "The earliest example I know of that unlikely but popular staged chess ploy, the check to one's king covered by a move that immediately delivers mate" (124). When chess positions can be reconstructed, he gives us a diagram and analysis -- and, where possible, the game or study reference. Where the board is set up wrong (which it seems to be about half the time) he tells us that too. He is the master of the small detail.

The chief pleasure of reading the book for me, though, was learning about movies I had not heard about, including "Fresh" (1994) with Samuel L. Jackson, which I completely missed. Or the 1932 Betty Boop cartoon short "Chess-Nuts" which sounds like a must-have. Or "Brainwashed" (1960), "The Bishop Murder Case" (1930), "The Grass Arena" (1991), and "Black and White Like Day or Night" (1978). I could go on and on. If you wade through his many odd chess references in sometimes garbage films, you'll discover a lot of interesting movies that feature chess.

Of course, it would have been good to learn from the author whether any of these films is worth seeing on its own merits. A star-rating system might have been useful. But I suppose he had not seen enough of them himself to provide a rating. My other main criticisms are a lack of bibliography, no photos (especially with the older films such as "Chess Fever" there are no copyright restrictions after all), the fact that he hasn't tried harder to see the movies that are available, the fact that he offers little or no advice on how to track them down ourselves, and -- finally -- the size of the thing. After all, you can't really read it on the train, since it's a bit too big to cart around at 8.5x11 inches and over 400 pages. You'd think he'd have saved a lot by shrinking it down, and maybe that would be worth considering should he come out with a second (corrected and improved!) edition, perhaps with a major publisher (who might provide him the services of a good editorial staff to help clean things up).

If he gets the encouragement of a publisher, perhaps he'd also get out to see more of these films himself. Winter, for instance, is critical of Basalla for not saying more about the 1987 Cuban / Soviet film "Capablanca," which is available on video (and one I'll have to get). Even a short search on Google turns up more info than Basalla gives, including a cast list at IMDb and photos from a Russian site. This certainly looks like a movie I'd want to have, but I wish he had more information (including a review of its quality) to let me know if it were really worth tracking down.

Well, reading over this review, I'm surprised to find that I'm still recommending this book! Beggars can't be choosers is all I can say! Since none of us have had the time to compile the valuable information that Basalla offers, we should just accept it for what it is: a flawed but wonderful effort by a "dentist, chess guy, and film buff" (as the back cover tells us). Get it and try to look on the bright side: if you encourage him enough, he might come out with a second edition some day!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Grasso-Stoyko, Roselle CC at Kenilworth CC 2005


diagram
Black's plan after 14.Bc2.


The game Grasso-Stoyko, Roselle CC at Kenilworth CC 2005, was a great example of how to liberate the "French Bishop" in the Tarrasch Variation. I was so impressed by the plan that I put together an introduction to the system and now think he should give a second series of lectures on the French Defense once he finishes with his first series on the 1.d4 d5 Black Repertoire on Thursday night from 7:00-8:00 p.m. at the Kenilworth Chess Club.

You can find this Anti-Tarrasch repertoire online in java applet or you can download the PGN file to help you analyze on your own.

Two Pieces in the New York Times

There were two pieces in today's New York Times related to chess.

One, from the Styles section, was titled "Sex and Chess: Is She a Queen or a Pawn?" and is really a fluff piece focused on the recent Tkachiev's "Chess Beauty Pageant." It has already generated some discussion at the Daily Dirt Chess Blog. The article should have been about how some female chess players have to use all of their assets to support themselves as professional players.

The second and not unrelated piece was by Jennifer Shahade on the Op-Ed pages and titled "All the Right Moves." There she suggests that chess promoters could learn a lesson or two from the Poker phenomenon. Again, the real issue is that even Nakamura is having trouble supporting himself as a professional player, so how can we get Americans (who are so money- and career- focused) to embrace the game?

The answer, I think, is that you cannot succeed in the same way Poker has. And devoted chess players will always have to support themselves much like starving artists: any way they can. Interestingly, Shahade's argument for Chess is mirrored on the same page by Sharon Osberg regarding Bridge. Osberg, at least, admits the real problem: "Bridge will never have the spectator appeal of games like poker. It's just too cerebral. Moreover, the learning curve is steep." Chess is exactly the same, of course. But at least Bridge has Warren Buffett and Bill Gates on board with some bucks to fund education programs and tournaments. We should have the same.

What chess needs most of all is not media coverage but some passionate philanthropists (like the HB Foundation) to help make big tournaments and education initiatives possible. We can't build a broad base -- the game will never appeal to a broad base of people -- but we can find the select few to support our game that is "symbolic of intelligence and good taste." Philanthropy is the only way to go. That's how Frank James Marshall built the Marshall Chess Club and sustained himself as a professional at the turn of the last century: by cultivating chess players with money to help organize events and sponsor his work. And I think it is still the most viable answer for chess in the near future.

Poker simply is not a good analogy for chess. Two better ones, as J. C. Hallman has suggested in several places, are religion and art -- both of which survive not because they get air time on ESPN2 but because those who can afford freely give their money to bankroll the good works they believe in and to help establish institutions to aid others in learning more about the things they love. I hope some rich chess players (or chess players with rich friends) are listening....

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Two Knights Defense as Black

I occasionally play the Open Game as Black, often transposing from the Nimzovich after 1.e4 Nc6 2.Nf3 e5 when I don't feel like playing the 2...d6 lines. When I play 2...e5 it's usually because I'm expecting a Ruy Lopez, since I have a few specialized lines against the Spanish that I enjoy torturing White with. Almost invariably, though, I find myself instead on the Black side of the Two Knights Defense. Fortunately, I am fairly booked up on this since there is a lot of analysis out there for those who are looking. A few new things for players of the Two Knights as Black have recently appeared and so I thought a bibliography update was in order.

The most recent online contribution to the Two Knights is Pete Tamburro's excellent lecture on the Fritz Variation in the Two Knights at Chess.fm, to which he promises a sequel. He has also posted some notes at his excellent "Openings for Amateurs" message board. It is interesting how much recent attention is being given to the Fritz, and Pete's lecture and his notes make for a wonderful introduction to anyone unfamiliar with these lines -- or, as Pete suggests, for players who think the only fun thing to play against 1.e4 is the Sicilian. These lectures are posted on a rotating schedule and then disappear for a while, so be sure to catch this one soon.

The other recent online piece, to which there is also a promised sequel, is Tim Harding's excellent "Open Games Revisited: The Two Knights" at Chess Cafe. He has written several other useful things on these lines (see list below), but the latest provides a fresh perspective by focusing on the Fritz and lines other than the classical 5....Na5 (which was the focus of his previous series). Be sure to check The Kibitzer column again in early December for the sequel.

If you enjoy these pieces on the Fritz variation, then I suggest you definitely download Having Fun with the Two Knights Defense by Bobby Ang from the web archives. It is definitely a lot of fun and was the first thing I had read to make me seriously consider the Black alternatives to 5...Na5 in the main line. After reading the articles above, I now want to return to it and think about the Fritz some more!

There is also a very recent book by Nigel Davies (Play 1.e4 e5!) which disappoints because most of it is devoted to a specific and boring variation against the Ruy Lopez. Its Two Knights Defense coverage is also not that great and generally repeats the same lines as John Emms offers. Among recent books, in fact, I think that only Jan Pinski offers anything of value on the Fritz. And only Emms's book is a must-have (but it does not do the Fritz). It's too bad that Davies has not offered something more innovative. This is one place where the web sources have actually surpassed those in print!

Bibliography
There are a few available books, which I give in alphabetical order. Other than Emms and Pinski, though, I'd stick to web sources unless you are the type who just has to have everything!

Acers, Jude and George S. Laven. The Italian Gambit System. Trafford Publishing, 2003.
Gives relatively recent coverage of practically every line in the Open Two Knights (with White d4). Does offer some useful insights on the 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.O-O Nxe4 lines. All from White's perspective.

Baker, Chris. A Startling Chess Opening Repertoire. London: Everyman Chess, 1998.
Useful (if overly selective) coverage of the 5.O-O Nxe4 lines in a repertoire book built around the Max Lange Attack and Koltanowski Gambit all from the White perspective.

Beliavsky, Alexander and Adrian Mikhalchishin. The Two Knights Defense. London: Batsford, 1999. Very poorly put together book (seems rushed to the publisher) with occasionally strong moments. Focuses exclusively on the 5...Na5 lines against 4.Ng5. Very lame.

Davies, Nigel. Play 1.e4 e5! Everyman Chess 2005.
Hot off the press but rather a disappointment, frankly. I like Davies's work generally, but over half the book is devoted to the intricate Keres Variation of the Ruy Lopez (with 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 O-O 9.h3 Na5 10.Bc2 c5 11.d4 Nd7) which bores me to tears. And the coverage of the Two Knights follows John Emms a bit too closely to be of great value, including 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.O-O Nxe4 or 5.e5 Ne4!? or 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Na5. The games are recent but this is not exciting. If you are looking for a good anti-Lopez weapon, I recommend Larry Kaufman's The Chess Advantage in Black and White which covers the Berlin Defense beautifully.

Emms, John. Play the Open Games as Black: What to Do When White Avoids the Ruy Lopez. London: Gambit, 2000. Excellent coverage of the Two Knights lines from the Black perspective, but focuses exclusively on 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.O-O Nxe4 and 5.e5 d5 or 5.e5 Ne4!? or 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Na5. This is a classic that should be on the shelf of anyone who plays 1.e4 e5 as Black or White.

Estrin, Yakov. The Two Knights Defense. Trans. K. P. Neat. London: Batsford 1983. There are various versions in multiple languages and editions of Estrin's work. Estrin's analysis became widely circulated in multiple editions and languages through the 70s and 80s. It is still vital and valuable, especially since some lines he discusses receive scant treatment later.

Harding, Tim. The Evans Gambit and a System versus the Two Knights Defense. Second Edition. Chess Digest, 1996. A very useful if selective repertoire coverage of the Modern d4/e5 lines of the Two Knights exclusively from the White perspective.

Nunn, John. Secrets of Grandmaster Chess. 1997. pp.77-87.
Discusses the game Corden-Nunn, Birmingham 1975 in great depth.

Petrosian, Tigran and Yakov Estrin. Zweispringerspiel im Nachzuge. Hamburg 1966.

Pinski, Jan. The Two Knights Defense. London: Everyman Chess, 2003.
Probably the most generally useful current book available. The analysis is generally shallow but the coverage is very wide and generally good.

Soltis, Andrew. Winning with the Giuoco Piano and the Max Lange Attack. 2nd Revised Edition. Chess Digest, 1996 (1st edition 1992). Offers some surprising analysis of the Max Lange lines, though I wonder how well it holds up to close scrutiny since it does seem overly optimistic. Guess whose side he's on....

Van der Tak, A. C. and Jesus Nogueiras. "King's Pawn Opening: Max Lange Attack." New in Chess Yearbook 37 (1995): 94-99. One of a number of articles to appear in New in Chess and NIC Yearbook. See their website for details.

Zagorovsky, Vladimir. Romantic Chess Openings. London: Batsford 1982. A classic, if now generally out of date and shallow.

Web BibliographyI have posted a previous entry on the Modern Variation which you might also want to see. There are lots of good things online, and if you are mostly interested in the Fritz variation you would probably do best to save your money and just check out some of these links!

E5/E5 Defenders by Pete Tamburro at Chess.fm

Open Games Revisited: The Two Knights by Tim Harding at Chess Cafe

The Main Line of the Two Knights Defense by Mark Morss
Excellent coverage of 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 lines from Black's perspective. Be sure to scroll down and click the links to his two games. One of the best pieces you can read if you are interested in these lines.

Two Knights Defense by Tim Harding
In three parts, covering the classic 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5.
Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.

Two Knights -- Amazing Counter-Attack by Tim Harding
Covers 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 Nxe4!? which is fun for speed chess.

Having Fun with the Two Knights Defense by Bobby Ang
Some really spectacular analysis of the Fritz with ...Nd4 -- the same line discussed by Pete Tamburro at Chess.fm.

Defensa de los Dos Caballos from Hechiceros
Focuses on 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Na5.

Opening Lanes #62 by Gary Lane
Discusses 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Na5. For the line 6.Bb5+ c6 7.dxc6 bxc6 8.Qf3!? see Opening Lanes #02. For 6.Bb5+ Bd7!? see Opening Lanes #03.

Two Knights Defense, Wilkes-Barre Variation
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 Bc5 5.Bxf7+ Ke7 and 6.Bd5 . See also the 6.Bb3 Line.

Site dedie a l'ouverture Traxler
A whole website devoted to the Traxler. In French with lots of Traxler stuff from the Black perspective.

"Opening Preparation" by Sunil Weeramantry at Chess Cafe's Archive. See "The Chess Coach" #13. Download a zip file. Discusses the Two Knights Modern for White with Black's cooperative 5...d5.

There had been a sample article on the Traxler at the New in Chess Yearbook site, but it has since gone missing. NIC Yearbook also has had some articles over the years which I have not represented very well above because they are not handy. I may return here and add them.

1.d4 d5 Repertoire - Lecture 4

I have finally put together a web-viewable version of FM Steve Stoyko's Fourth Lecture on a 1.d4 d5 Repertoire, which focused on the Exchange Variation of the Queen's Gambit Declined from the Black side. You can now find all of the lectures and related links from the Articles page of the Kenilworth Chess Club website.

Barry Attack Bibliography

The "Barry Attack" begins 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.e3 O-O 6.Be2 followed typically by Ne5 and h4-h5 with a kingside attack. First played this way by Bangledeshi GM Niaz Murshed in London during the 1980s, the line soon became popular among several strong English players, including Mark Hebden and Aaron Summerscale. Like the so-called "150 Attack" against the Pirc (where "150" is the British designation for a class B player), the name is intended tongue-in-cheek. Basically, "Barry" means "rubbish" in British slang but, like the 150 Attack, it has a lot more success than might seem justified.

When I first faced this line against FM Steve Stoyko in the Kenilworth Chess Club championship this past year, I didn't even know that the opening had a name. I had never seen any "book" analysis on it and only prepared for our encounter by looking through a few master games with Fritz. All I knew was that I had seen Stoyko "forcing" opponents to play the Pirc (after 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Nc3 d6) when they had been intending to play the King's Indian Defense. Not being a Pirc player myself, I naturally wanted to try 3...d5 instead. After the game, in which I lost to a startling kingside assault, Steve told me it was called the "Barry Attack" and so I was able to do some research on it. Like Hebden, who didn't start playing the Barry until he lost to it in a game, I have since added it to my White repertoire and have collected all the analysis I can find. If you can add anything to the bibliography below it would be most appreciated.

Barry Attack Bibliography

Fogarasi, Tibor. "Hebden's Favorite!" New in Chess Yearbook 67 (2003): 206-210.
Looks exclusively at what has become the main line since Gallagher's Beating the Anti-King's Indians: 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.e3 O-O 6.Be2 c5. Now Fogarasi considers 7.Ne5 better than 7.dxc5.

Gallagher, Joe. Beating the Anti-King's Indians (Batsford 1995).
Recommends 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.e3 O-O 6.Be2 c5

Goeller, Michael. "Steve Stoyko-Michael Goeller, Kenilworth Chess Club Championship 2005."
Annotates my loss to the Barry Attack, which made me interested in it as White.

Lane, Gary. Ideas Behind Modern Chess Openings: Attacking with White (Batsford 2002).
In a book mostly devoted to the London System with d4 and Bf4, Lane devotes a chapter to the Barry Attack (pp. 136-149) and the 150 Attack against the Pirc (150-159). For those seeking a supplement and an alternative to the Colle-Zukertort in Summerscale's repertoire, this book is a good addition. He does a good job of representing the opening through five GM games and also discusses the origins of the name "Barry Attack," which is British slang for "rubbish attack" meaning something that a lower-rated player might throw at you with little consequence.

Martin, Andrew. "Dodgy Games with Dodgy Names." (Internet Chess, from the Archives).
Considers the Barry and 150 Attacks from the Black perspective and recommends 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Nc3 d5! 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.e3 Bg4! 6.Be2 Bxf3! 7.Bxf3 c6 followed by a speedy ...e5 push.

Krzysztof Panczyk and Jacek Ilczuk. Offbeat King's Indian (Everyman 2004).
Has some coverage of the Barry Attack in a chapter on Bf4 Systems against the KID.

Rogers, Ian. "Queen's Pawn Opening, Murshed's Anti-KID System." New in Chess Yearbook 25 (1992): 151-156.
Attributes to Bangledeshi GM Niaz Murshed the important addition of Ne5 and h4-h5 (in place of the London-esque h3 and Bh2) to the Barry Attack to make a potent weapon. Recommends 6...c5 or an early ...Bg4 with the idea of exchanging with ...Bxf3 and an early ...e5.

Summerscale, Aaron. A Killer Chess Opening Repertoire (Everyman Chess 1998).
The opening chapter of this repertoire book covers the Barry Attack (pp. 7-35) and was important in popularizing the line among club and tournament players. The remainder of the repertoire includes the 150 Attack against the Pirc and the Colle-Zukertort System. This is an excellent overall repertoire for anyone below master level, which is its intended audience. See the review by Alex Baburin at Chess Cafe.

__________. The Barry Attack. Foxy Openings Video 1999.

__________. The Barry Attack at Chess Channel
http://chesschannel.com/cc/listing?L=4,,,&m=69

Van de Mortel, Jan. "Annoying the KID" New in Chess Yearbook 57 (2000): 203-207.
Begins with the encounter Hebden-Gormally, London 2000 where White lost and offers a number of improvements. Most games are sparsely annotated or not at all.

Watson, John L. The Unconventional King's Indian (Hypermodern Press 1997 and Hardinge Simpole Publishing 2004).
In the chapter on Bf4 systems for White, there are four pages (pp. 143-147) of coverage with games from before 1995. If any parts of the book were updated for the 2004 reprint edition, this was not among them.