- Five Round Swiss Game/40
- Westfield Y, 220 Clark Street, Westfield N.J.
- $2000 Gtd: $650-$350-$250-$150-$100 U2200: $200 U2000 $150 U1800: $100
- Best game prize $50 (Judge Ernesto Labate)
- EF: $75, $60 by October 28th Reg: 9:30-11:30 a.m.
- Rds: 12:00,1:35,3:10,4:45,6:20 p.m.
- Early EF: Todd Lunna, 36 Maple Drive, Colts Neck, New Jersey 07722.
- Make checks payable to Westfield Chess Club please bring identification to enter the building. Todd Lunna 732-946-7379.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Friday, October 26, 2007
When New Jersey played Baltimore in Round 3, they were only able to draw due to a lucky break that turned a possible loss into a win for Dean Ippolito. This time it was Baltimore that got lucky, scoring wins in two games that seemed headed for an even result.
White was victorious in every game, even though all of the Black players were able to gain equality using rather unusual defenses. On Board 1, Benjamin reached his favored Ruy Lopez-like position out of the anti-Sicilian against Blehm and used it to gain enough of an edge to carry him through to victory in a very close game. On Board 2, Friedman used the Chigorin Defense to reach a very drawish position before he blundered badly and lost to Enkhbat's swift tactics. On Board 3, Molner played an interesting line against Kaufman's unusual Nimzo-French (1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nc6!?) and ended up sacrificing a Bishop to gain an intuitive attack that eventually carried him to victory through some very complicated thickets. And on Board 4, Khodarkovsky seemed to gain easy equality with the Alekhine Defense only to lose to some very interesting endgame tactics by Battsetseg.
Other coverage of Round 9 action:
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Thursday, October 18, 2007
In last night's US Chess League action, The New Jersey Knockouts answered their critics and kept their playoff hopes alive by drawing the most highly ranked team in the league, the Boston Blitz. I have annotated the games and posted them online.
The best games of the night were the decisive ones. On Board 2, Jorge Sammour-Hasbun played an attractive tactical game using an underestimated line of the Scotch Gambit (beginning 1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.Nf3 Bb4+) against Dean Ippolito. Though Ippolito held onto the gambit pawn and made no obvious errors, Sammour was able to use his initiative to create a decisive attack that left him up the Exchange, which he was able to turn into a win despite evident time pressure. This game will certainly be a contender for game of the week. The loss for New Jersey on Board 2 was fortunately balanced by a win on Board 4 by the young Victor Shen in a wild game where both sides created second Queens. Shen has struggled against his usually more mature opponents, but this game showed him at his best.
The common criticism of the New Jersey Knockouts has been that their even record was achieved against the lowest ranked opponents in the League. They continued their even record, but they raised their level of respect considerably last night. Let's hope that the draw also raises their spirits so that they can make it to the playoffs.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Here are the match-ups:
- GM Joel Benjamin (2653) - GM Larry Christiansen (2663)
- IM Dean Ippolito (2447) - SM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun (2558)
- NM Evan Ju (2268) - NM Denys Shmelov (2251)
- NM Victor Shen (2218) - NM Chris Williams (2175)
Sammour-Hasbun and Ippolito have only one match-up in the databases, where Ippolito played the opening poorly and then struggled to hold on in a complex double-rook ending. I imagine his opening preparation will be a little better this time, and I think the games on every board could go either way.
Follow the action on ICC or with the NJKO's "Real Time Blog" of the match. Other good sources include the Boston Blitz Blog, the BCC Weblog, US Chess League, and USCF.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Dylan Loeb McClain has done an excellent job of covering the story for The New York Times and in his Gambit weblog:
- Chess Group Officials Accused of Using Internet to Hurt Rivals
- Interview with the USCF President
- The Lawsuit Against Polgar and Truong, et. al.
- The Lawsuit Against Polgar and Truong, A Closer Look
Thursday, October 11, 2007
The Kings are set up opposite each other and the first to force his way across to the other side of the board wins (unless they reach a position where neither can make progress, in which case it's a draw). The idea of imagining the Kings as "magnetic" (of the same polarization) struck me as a good metaphor to help explain how they can influence each other even though they must remain one square apart. A puzzle position from Capablanca then helps show how the principle of the opposition can be used to win games.
Pawn Battle," is to create an active learning environment where kids pick up complex theoretical concepts by engaging with them directly in practice. Active learning has its limitations, but it does keep kids involved and having fun, especially in group lessons. Have you ever tried to lecture to a group of 8-year-olds? Good luck.
Another good game to get kids to try is "The Szen Position," which is especially effective for brining home the idea of "zugzwang"--though it's unlikely you will get kids to cement the lessons from their practice by playing over the detailed analysis of the position by Jon Speelman in EG 73.5 (July 1983): 185-190. My group of a dozen 8-year-olds seemed to enjoy playing with the Szen position last week. Will they really gain much from the experience without some study? Tough to say. But at least I have made a start and sparked their curiosity and engagement.
It would be nice if the kids I teach would use what they have learned so far to go study the ending some more on their own. But it takes a rare child (or especially committed parents) to do that. That's too bad, since there are so many excellent online resources for learning the endgame these days, especially in the ChessCafe Archives. I especially enjoyed the following articles, which reinforce the themes of "the opposition" and "zugzwang" I have emphasized so far:
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
I would like to take a moment to compliment the editors of Chess Life for producing one of the best issues I have seen (not to mention the sexiest-ever chess magazine cover photo!) and for putting all of this excellent content online for the entire chess community to enjoy. Bravo!
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Friday, October 05, 2007
The New Jersey Knockouts won their second match in a row on Wednesday night by defeating the Carolina Cobras 2.5-1.5 in Round 6 of US Chess League action thanks mostly to a brilliant victory by 15-year-old Expert Jayson Lian over a master on Board 4. I have annotated the games, all of which featured very interesting opening struggles. The most complex and interesting game of the night was Friedman - Zaikov, where Black played a very interesting gambit in a wild line of the Najdorf to which White responded with a gambit of his own -- giving up three pawns for a strong initiative. In the diagram above, could White have tried for more than the drawish ending he achieved after 26.Ng7+?
You can read more about the match at the NJ Knockouts blog. The victory places New Jersey a respectable 6th out of 12 in the US Chess League Quantitative Power Rankings.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
I am trying something a little different this year with the kids, since many didn’t even know the rules and all but three never had any formal instruction. Generally I start all my teaching to groups by getting the kids to play simplified games such as “Pawn Battle” and “Sumo Kings.” But this year, I’m trying to stick to a strict program where I introduce only a piece at a time and get them engaged with an activity with that piece (or in combination with any others we have discussed).
Usually, because the kids already know how the pieces move and are anxious to get to play with the full set (as they are used to doing), I generally have to give up on the strict progression method and just jump into full-blown play. One of the inevitable problems with full-blown play, though, is that the kids start to teach each other the game, so a lot can go wrong. If one kid doesn’t understand that there are three ways to get out of check (you don’t always have to move the King, of course!) then he can start spreading that mistaken idea to the rest of them as fast as a stomach flu. And if the kids have only a tenuous grasp of how en passant capturing works, they’ll be using their pawns to capture Knights, Bishops, and Rooks en passant and exercising that right in every mistaken situation conceivable. Besides getting the rules all muddled, they also start to learn bad strategy, like the inevitable plan of getting their Rooks out first or, for the somewhat more sophisticated, going for the three move mate every time. I’d prefer to have the chance to teach them some good ideas before letting them loose on each other.
So far the approach is working well. Whereas last year, I struggled to the bitter end to teach some less attentive 10-year-olds the meaning of “stalemate” and “en passant,” this year’s younger group already have mastered those ideas completely and even understand things my previous kids never got, such as “zugzwang,” “a pawn majority,” and “the passed pawn’s lust to expand” (OK, maybe I didn’t put the last one quite that way with them). And when one of the kids pulled off a masterful stalemate combination in Pawn Battle, I knew I was already making more rapid progress than I’ve ever seen before.
The handout helped a lot, and eventually I hope to have several like it, including one on “Kings and the Opposition” featuring “Sumo Kings,” “Queening a Pawn,” “The Szen Position,” and “King and Pawn Battle.” I’ve even decided to get them learning Rook endings by lesson four. I’ll tell you how that works out. But if I succeed, none of them will have my own nagging doubts about playing an endgame if they go on to take chess more seriously. As a friend once told me, winning an endgame is at least 50% attitude. If you believe you are a great endgame player, your chances of actually winning in the endgame go up tremendously, no matter what your actual skill level. I hope I can instill such confidence in these kids. And I think we are off to a great start.