Thursday, January 31, 2008

ok, ok, I'm sorry I said I wanted to crush your children....

really, I am.

anyways, here's my new line:
"I Love Working Harder and Practicing More Than the Other Children"
--pretty hard to object to that, right?

I just played a kinda nice blitz game

I'm white against Polyphonic, and he just played 16... Rad8 so I have to protect the bishop. 17. Rcd1 is out because it hangs the knight but 17. Rfd1 looks pretty reasonable. The thing was I hadn't decided whether including f4-f5 in my intended kingside attack would be a good idea or a terrible idea. Part of me wanted to leave the rook on f1. I decided to forget the d file and try to get things going with 17. Qg4. I threaten Nc6; it's not winning the queen because he will always have ....f5, but it would be good definitely. He plays 17.... f5; 18. Qf4 is kinda forced since I don't especially want to take on c5 and lose my nice bishop/ activate his. Now 18... g5 19. Qe3 f4 and ...

20. Ng4! (exclam for funniness, not goodness) Actually this is quite bad; I should just admit it was all a mistake: take on c5 and move my queen somewhere.

20.... h5!

21. Qe5 hxg4? (He wins with 21... Rxd4 first)

22. Qh8+ Kf7

23. Qh5+ Kg8

24. Qg6+ black resigns.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Liberty Bell Open: Chicken/ Not Chicken

I got back from Philly last weekend, where I played in the Liberty Bell. I finished with 3/7, but 3/7 can mean a lot of things. Especially from me. I started out very peacefully...

Round 1: Elizabeth Vicary (2126) vs. Daniel Yaeger (2315)

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Bd7 4.Bxd7+ Qxd7 5.c4 Nf6 6.Nc3 g6 7.d4 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Bg7 9.f3 0–0 10.Be3 Nc6 11.Nde2 Rfc8 12.0–0 Qd8 13.Qd2 Qa5 14.Rfd1 a6 15.a4 Qb4

So, yeah, looks like I've f**ked it up again, right? But somehow this opening likes me and there's always some weird tactical way out of my positional indiscretions.

16.a5! Qxc4 17.Ra4 Qe6 and the point is that I have 18.Nd5 where he can't take it; I'm threatening 19. Nb6, and his queen is short of places to go.

18....Nd7 19.Nef4 Qe5 20.Nd3 Qe6 21. Nef4 Qe5 ½–½

Now we are temporarily skipping round two, in which I drew IM Zlotnikov, because I accidentally left the scoresheet at work.

Round Three: Vicary,Elizabeth (2126) - Shen,Victor (2270) [B40]
1.e4 c5
2.Nf3 e6
3.b3 b6
4.Bd3 Bb7
5.0–0 d6
6.Bb5+ Nd7

What can I say? It's a weird drawing line I had analyzed two years ago in preparation for the US Championship, when drawing a game against anyone seemed like a huge accomplishment. I didn't especially want another draw at this point, but there are ways to play most lines for more than that, plus I couldn't think of anything else to do.

7...a6 God I hated Victor Shen at this moment. Aren't teenagers supposed to feel invunerable?? Why will no one take my pawns, ever?

The mainline is of course 7...Bxe4. My file has tons of semi-random computer lines in it, but for you guys I'll just hit the high notes. Originally I got the idea from Rogozenko's book Anti-Sicilians: A Guide For Black. He specifically says 8. d4 is not playable, but, well, I guess that's because he doesn't see a forced draw as white as a huge triumph. 8.Re1 Ngf6

(A few other tries:
8...Bb7 9.d5 e5 10.Nxe5 dxe5 11.Rxe5+ Be7 12.d6 a6 13.dxe7 Nxe7 14.Bg5 f6 15.Bxf6 gxf6 16.Qh5+ Kf8 17.Qh6+;
8...d5 9.Ne5 Ngf6 10.Bg5+-)

9.Bg5 Bb7 (9...Bxf3 10.Qxf3 cxd4) 10.d5 Bxd5 (10...e5 11.Nxe5 dxe5 12.Rxe5+ Be7 13.d6) 11.Bxf6 Bxf3 12.Bxd7+ Kxd7 13.Qxf3 gxf6 14.Qb7+ Ke8 15.Qc6+]

8.Bxd7+ Qxd7

I remembered a game from this position that I played in Curacao the summer before last in which I put my knight on d2 and played a quick c4 and d5. Afterwards, Alex had told me this was stupid, but I couldn't remember if playing Nd2 was the problem or closing the position was. I knew my opponent had had all sorts of useful things to do after I closed things up, like organizing ...b5 and ....f5 and putting a knight on f4, while I was sitting there like an idiot, entirely planless.

But still, while playing this game I really just couldn't decide which square my knight should go to. First instinct said d2, but then I started thinking he would put the e pawn on e5 to blunt my b2 bishop and so then I would want to trade pawns and put my knight on d5?! I'm not even going to turn on Fritz to see, because I know that one move will be -.42 and the other will be -.22 and I get angry and convince myself the stupid computer has no idea. I will not do this, instead I will wait for my next lesson when Dave will explain all it all. It will all seem crystal clear and eminently logical while he is talking, at the end of the lesson I will be pleasurably sated by a sense of my own deep understanding. Later I will try to recreate the chain of thought in my own head, and it will seem alien, murky and hostile.

9.Nc3 Be7
10.Bb2 Qc7
11.Re1 cxd4
12.Nxd4 Nf6

I considered 13.Qe2 first, but I thought I was pretty much worse here because my knight on c3 is ridiculous, and so I opted for Qd3, which seemed more aggressive. I was hoping to confuse him with a kingside attack. He looked like he might scare easily.

14.Qg3 b5

15.Nd5 Qd8

15...exd5 Victor and I both just figured this won for me. Fritz finds only a draw: 16.Nf5 g6 only move (16...Nh5? 17.Qg4 g6 18.Nh6#) 17.Qg5 (17.exd5 Bd8 18.Nh6+ (18.Qg5 Qxc2! 19.Bxf6? Qxf5–+) 18...Kg7 19.Nf5+=) 17...dxe4 18.Bxf6 Bxf6 19.Qxf6 gxf5=

16.Nxe7+ Qxe7

Do I need to defend this pawn? Actually, yes. If I try 17.Rad1?!, he can't take with the knight, since 17...Nxe4 18.Rxe4 Bxe4 loses to 19.Nf5! However, he can take with the bishop: 17...Bxe4 18.Nxe6 fxe6 19.Bxf6 Qxf6 20.Rxe4=. During the game I saw the line 17... Bxe4 18. Rxe4 Nxe4 19. Qxg7 Kxg7 20. Nf5++ Kg6 21. Nxe7 Kh6 22. f3, but this clever combination loses the exchange. Hence 17. f3.

18.Qg4 Nf6
19.Qg3 Nh5
20.Qg4 Nf6
21.Qg3 ½–½
OK, I'm a chicken to take the draw here, I am a little better and should play Qf4 or something. I just somehow didn't feel like playing anymore. Partly I was tired from a super long round two game (next post, I promise. I accidentally brought the scoresheet to work and left it there.) Partly I had been depressed about feeling like I was worse and frustrated that he kept declining my sacrifices. In future, I resolve to get more exercise and improve my physcial condition. And also to be less of a spoiled, whiny baby.

I Love Crushing the Other Children

My students at IS 318 (a grade 6-8 school) won all three sections of the New York City Chess Championships last weekend: elementary, junior high, and high school. All three. hahahahahaha.

In your face, New York City schoolchildren who do not attend IS 318k.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Does Chess Ever Make You Feel Like Shooting Yourself In the Head?

you are not alone.

Police: Suicidal Man Who Shot Friend Nearly Hit Baby

GREENSBURG, Pa. -- A man tried to commit suicide at a Westmoreland County apartment but ended up blowing off his friend's elbow instead, police said.

During a game of chess at a Greensburg apartment on West Otterman Street, police said Zachary Lucov took out a gun and raised it to shoot himself. His friend, Dennis Kleyn, tried to stop him.

In the struggle, Kleyn had his elbow blown off. Police said the bullet continued through his arm and into the kitchen floor near where Lucov's 9-month-old baby was playing.

Lucov's girlfriend, Carrie Santone, told police the men were playing chess when Lucov started talking about suicide.

"The suspect pulled a Glock 40 up to his head and said he was going to shoot himself," said Capt. George Seranko of the Greensburg Police Department. "That victim grabbed for the gun. There was a scuffle, and the gun went off."

Kleyn was rushed to Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital, where doctors told him the damage done to his elbow would be permanent.

A woman who identified herself as Lucov's mother was at his arraignment, saying, "It was an accident. The guy's his best friend. He would never hurt him in a million years. It was a stupid accident."

But police said the accident could have been deadly.

"The officer said they were intoxicated, been drinking that night, and some things went wrong," said Seranko.

Lucov is charged with aggravated assault, discharge of a firearm in an occupied structure, reckless endangerment and public drunkenness.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

More Fun From the New York Times

Today's New York Times chess blog posting, "Second Computer Expert Offers Opinion on Report at Base of USCF Lawsuit," continues McClain's trademark style of fairly objective-sounding news reporting followed by a hilariously bitchy final quote.

Today's article has several experts agreeing that Mottershead's report, which asserted Truong's guilt, was correct (or, at the very least, sounded really great). Then at the very end, just to be completely, irreproachably objective, McClain quotes one final expert who agrees only 99% that PT is to blame. McClain explains that "while he (the expert--EV) agreed that the person identified as “chesspromotion” on the federation’s internal forum Web site was the author of the fake postings, “I am not able to identify the real person behind user account ‘chesspromotion’.”"


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The New York Times Cracks Me Up

I don't usually enjoy reading about chess in newspapers for two reasons:
1. I've normally already read about whatever happened on a chess site and
2. It's written for a general audience, which means the chess bits are dumbed way down.

Consequently, I haven't been reading Dylan Loeb McClain's chess articles/ blog in the New York Times on a particularly regular basis. But today I realized that I should start, because he possesses a very special journalistic knack. You know what that is? In fact, let's make it a quiz. Your question is:

"What's similar and hilarious about how McClain writes the following articles?"

and just so you don't see the answer before you're ready, here are two big pictures and another couple question(s):

1. Name the two chessplayers in this photo. For a bonus point, where are they?

2. Name the snorkeler.

The way I see it, in each piece, McClain maintains a seemingly impartial tone, yet manages, usually at the very end of the article, to quote someone saying something that makes them look really really bad:

In the first, Paul Truong as shifty equivocator: "The charges are absolutely outrageous, and it is based on information that was obtained 100 percent illegally from the U.S.C.F.”

In the second, Eric Moskow as self-important ass: “When you are very wealthy you want the people associated with you dodging bullets, not creating them ... I can’t be wasting my time wondering if some child is posting something and another child is responding ... All I want to do is give my money away and play chess. .... The only good memories I have of giving money to chess in the U.S. are the scoresheets and the games.” (the scoresheets and the games? ev)

And finally, Sam Sloan as, well, he puts it best: ... "Mr. Sloan said, 'For as long as I live, I will be known as a child pornographer.'”

Just beautiful. Also, I should mention that the Times broke this story.

I'll post the photo answers in a couple days, but I imagine you'll also find them in the comments soon.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Help Us Out Here

I, ok, actually my friends, need a few things. Can anyone help us out?

1. An teacher friend of mine is looking for a full time chess instructor gig anywhere in the country. He's 1800, has 9 years of experience, and is reliable, professional, and fabulous with kids. I recommend him very highly.

2. A grandmaster friend of mine wants to visit New York for a month or so and needs a room/apartment. He'll give you some lessons, and/ or feed your cats.

3. A female 2100 friend of mine is looking for a fun team for Amateur East.


Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Are You Free This Friday?

If you are and you live in New York, I'm inviting you to my school's Friday Night Chess Club. It runs from 5-8 pm, and features 2 rated g/30s, free pizza and gym time. You'll be playing kids in rated games, but the kids are 0-1900. .

Send me an email if you're coming and I'll reply with directions. (remove nospam)

Saturday, January 5, 2008


I am the Champion of Bloggers and (maybe also?!) the King of the FROGS?! (

No, but seriously, folks, I would like to thank all my loyal readers out there, especially the ones who comment and vote in my poll(s)!

But I have to extend a special thank you to one man, without whom my blog would be much less amusing, without whom I never would have "garnered over 80 responses," as Greg gushes so effusively in his announcement of my world-shifting triumph, without whom I never would have won.

I have to say a big,


thank you

to Ilya Krasik

for his entirely inimitable, unfailingly hilarious comments.

Without Ilya, I never could have defeated so convincingly in the USCL Blogger of the Year Award! Thanks, Ilya! I owe you one!

And one last thing I wanted to say....





In your face, Boston

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

North American Open: Rounds Six and Seven: I Am a Proud, Lucky Champion and I Love Chess Again

In round six I'm paired with the talented Christian Tanaka, who has the best board manners of any kid I've ever played. He's beating me in a Bogo Indian, the opening in which I am the luckiest, when we both hit time pressure.

Here I play the desperate but optimistic 40... Bh3+, hoping of course for 41. Kxh3 Nf4+ 42. gxf4 Qg4#. He answers 41. Kh1, and I played 41.... Qe3. Now 42. Qe2 crushes all my dreams, since 42... Qxc5 loses to 43. Ra8+ Kh7/f7 44. Qxh5 and I'm getting mated. After the game Alex suggested 41... Bg4 was a better chance to swindle, which is true but of course it's losing also. Christian played 42. b7?? when 42... Nf2 forces 43. Qxf2, since 43. Kg1 Nd1 44. Kh1 Qe1 is mate. After 43... Qxf2 44. b8=Q Kh7, he had to resign, since there's no defence against 45. Qg2.

Finally, two interesting moments from my last round with Robert Akopian.

I spent a lot of time here trying to make
20.Ng5 work. The idea is that if 20...fxg5 I play 21.Rxf7 Kxf7 (21...Rxe2 22.Rxg7+ Kxg7 23.Qxe2-- I'm attacking his knight and threatening Ne6.) 22.Bc4+ Nd5 23. Rxe3, when his king is weak, my pieces are good, his pawns are doubled, and he has some weak squares, like e6. Very unfortunately, the move is refuted by 20... Bd5, when 21.Nge4 loses to 21.... b6, 21.Nge6 to 21...Rxe6; and 21.Qd2 to 21...Re5, when I can't play 22. dxe5 because 22...Bxg2 wins my queen. Sad, no? But good job me for seeing this!

I play 20. Nd2; the game progresses; things go steadily downhill for me until we reach this position

where he plays the overly fancy 32...Nd1. I respond 33.Nd3 Bg3 34.Qe4 Look at my queen! So centralized! You know what I thought here? I couldn't see how he was going to stop me winning his knight with Qe2, but it turns out that in addition to the move in the game he has 34... Qc4, when 35.Qe2 loses to 35... Nf2. Good thing that didn't happen. Also 34... Nf2 is ok, of course. 34...Qa2. And now look at my nice drawing trick: 35.Qe8+ Kg7 36.Qe7+ Kg8 37.Qe8+ ½–½. I agree that's not a trick, it's just a repetition, but the idea is that 36.. Kh6 loses to 37. Nf4 Bxf4 38. g4#, and 36.... Qf7 lets me win his knight for some pawns after 37. Qe2 Qb3 38. Nc1.

I finished with 2.5/7, which is moderately lame, but, ok, I knew I was going to be rusty, and somehow I gained six points anyway. Next tournament: Liberty Bell in Philadephia in 3 weeks, where I will endeavor to move quickly and achieve positions with fixed pawn structures.