Wednesday, April 30, 2008

most hilarious website ever. seriously.

In related news, coming soon..... a new perpective in annotated games.....

Vicarious Victories!!!!
In our first ever installment, MY student, Angelica Berrios, elegantly crushes JEFF ASHTON'S student, Vincent Zhang.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

New Chess Books, Things I've Been Doing, Some Actual USCL News and Gossip

So overall... I'm feeling a little flat. It's like I've forgotten what to do to have fun. Also, I've forgotten how to hang out with other people. I think I need to move to the French countryside and grow vegetables and take up horseback riding. But all I want to do is stay in bed.

Despite this, fun things I did recently:

1. Went to a karoake night at a Russian banya (bathhouse) with some friends from the UTD chess team. Andrei Zaremba and Igor Shneider sung the Russian song "American Boy." Was very funny. I danced, which surprised me by being fun.

2. Abby Marshall visited for a couple days after high school nationals. We were going to study chess together, but this didn't happen so much-- she was pretty sick of chess-- so we just walked around New York.

3. saw 2 good movies: The Hole (dvd) and Harold and Kumar Escape From Guatanomo Bay (in theaters). Liked the latter much more than Going to White Castle.

Anyway, two great books:

1. Forcing Chess Moves by Charles Hertan.

Hertan's thesis is that you have to look at the forcing moves first, which I'm sure you've heard before, but he's got some entrancing examples and it's very very well-organized. I read it every free moment I got last weekend-- I feel like I've learned a lot from it, and I also feel like it will serve as my lesson source for all levels of classes from now until the end of the year. Angelica borrowed it Sunday night and I haven't gotten it back yet, but tomorrow or Thursday when I do I'll show you some examples-- some examples that I feel like define "sexy" in chess.

2. Teaching Chess in the 21st Century/ Chess Workbook For Children by Todd Bardwick

I wrote a review of Alexey Root's new book Science, Math, Checkmate in a recent Chess Life which said I thought this was the first book that tried to integrate chess into the national "Standards" movement in education. Pretty soon after that Todd Bardwick emailed me saying he had a similar type of book already published. He was kind enough to send me a copy of both titles above. Turns out he was right.

Teaching Chess in the 21st Century is designed for classrom teachers, and the Workbook complements it but is also useful for kids/parents to read independantly. They're intended for elementary kids, a younger age than I teach, but it's really top notch stuff. Very basic thinking methods (Where's the free stuff?) are explained with many practice examples. Here's a fairly randomly chosen problem I like a lot:

What's black's best move?

Nice problem, right, because you know kids are going to say Ne7+ first, but of course Nd6+ is the only way to draw.

One thing I appreciate a lot about TCI21C is that it gives rubrics for evaluation. An example of the one for pins and forks:

Novice: Student is confused by the question and doesn't understand pins or forks and is unsure how the pieces move. No logical solution is given.

Apprentice: Student identifies some of the possible pins and forks. The apprentice may include other squares that are not pins or forks.

Practitioner: The practitioner understands the problem and corrrectly identifies all the forks and pins and draws them on the board.

Expert: The student clearly understand sthe problem and arrived at the correct answer by identifying all the forks and pins on the diagrammed board and noticed the symmetry in the forks about the b1-h7 diagonal. The expert will also point out that the black king could capture the queen, if she forked from g6.

Anyway, if you are a classroom teacher, or know one, I recommend these two books highly.

USCL News and Gossip

So Greg named the blog for me, but this doesn't excuse its embarrasing lack of news or gossip about the USCL. So here you are:

Alex Shabalov will play for the New York Knights next season, replacing Hikaru Nakamura. He will wear a blue wig for all* games.

*OK, just for the playoffs.

Girls Nationals Games

So (first of all) hats off to a few students:

1. Jasmine Fermin (tied for first in the 14 and Under section), who managed two rook sacs in one tournament. Notice Angelica behind her, cracking up.

Jasmine Fermin - Nymisha Rao
1.Rxg7 [1.Qg6! is "better" according to computer-- black must defend with Qg8 and then Be4 wins the Nc6-- whatever]

1...Kxg7 [1...Rxg7 2.Qxh6+ Kg8 3.Qxe6+ Kh8 4.Qxc6]

2.Qg6+ Kf8

3.Qxe6 Qxd3

4.Qxh6+ Ke7

5.Qxc6 +-

Tara Lamberti - Jasmine Fermin

White unwisely took on d6 (20. Qxd6) , and Jasmine unleashed
20.... Rxb2+!

21.Ka1 [21.Kxb2 Qc2+ 22.Ka1 (22.Ka3 Nb5+ 23.Kb4 Nxd6) 22...Qxd1+]

21...Rxa2+! -+

2. Rochelle Ballantyne, winner of the 14 and Under Section, for this spectacular queen trapping:

27. Rec1! (although I should say that 27. Rf1 looks very good also-- if black ignores it white will double or triple on the f-file; if black takes on f1, white recaptures with the rook and threatens 29. Bxg6 hxg6 30. Qxg6 and 31. Rf7, winning. Thanks to Mr. Andrei Zaremba for that insight.)

27... Ng7 [I suggested 27...a6, but it doesn't help after 28.Bc2 Qb5 29.Bc5 Rf7 30.a4 Qc4 31.Bxg6-- point is that if black trades queens, white throws in the zwischenzug 32. Bxf7+]

28.Bc2 Qb5 [28...Qa6! is much better: 29.a4 Bd7]

29.Bc5 Rf7

30.a4 Qa6

31.b5 Qa5

32.bxc6 +-

3. And the big hero, Angelica Berrios, winner of the 16 and Under section (she's 14):

Robinson,Darrian - Berrios,Angelica [C02] Girls Nationals, 29.04.2008

1.e4 e6
2.d4 d5
3.e5 c5
4.c3 Nc6
5.Nf3 Qb6
Black's basic plan in this line is to take on d4, play Ng8-h6-f5, Be7, 0–0, f6 and get some attack going on the f file. Angelica's play is logical and thematic.

7.cxd4 Nh6
8.b3 Nf5
9.Bb2 Bb4+
10.Kf1 Bd7
[10...Be7 maybe it's a more popular move-- the idea is that on g4 black can play Nh4]

11.Nc3 [11.g4 Nh6 12.Rg1]
11...Qd8 [11...Ncxd4 12.Nxd5 exd5 13.Nxd4 Nxd4 14.Bxd4 Bc5 Angelica saw this and thought (correctly) that it was equal. ]
12.a3 Be7
13. g3 f6

14.Kg2 a6
15.Qd2 fxe5
16.dxe5 0–0

17.Rad1 White is playing planlessly here. She needed either to attack with g4 and Rg1 earlier, or maybe now still she can play b4-b5.

18.h3 Bc5
stage one: hitting f2. She says to me at this point (at this point in analysis, obviously), "Here I thought she would play Bd3, but I had calculated it lost." My response-- "Huh? Seriously?"
19.Na4 Ba7
20.Bd3 Bh5

21.Be2 [21.g4 Nh4+ 22.Nxh4 Qxh4 23.Rdf1 Bxg4 24.hxg4 Qxg4+ 25.Kh2 Rf3]
22.Bxf3 Nfd4
23.Bxd4 Nxd4

24.Bg4 Nxb3

25.Bxe6+ Kh8

26.Qe1 Rxf2+

27.Qxf2 Bxf2

28.Rxd5 Qe7 they played a few more moves but 0-1

Reuder,Emma - Berrios,Angelica [A84]
Girls Nationals, 29.04.2008

1.d4 e6

2.c4 f5

3.Nc3 Nf6

4.Nf3 d5 After the game Angelica said she thought she was supposed to play Bb4, but it seems like everyone else plays 4...d5 too.

5.Bg5 c6

6.e3 Bd6

7.cxd5 exd5


8... 0–0
9.Qc2 h6
10.Bh4 Qe8
11.Bxf5 Bxf5

12... Ne4 In the game and afterwards, we both thought Angelica had somehow messed up in losing the pawn, (she suggested moving the queen somewhere instead of castling) but she's making Rybka's first choice each time. [in analysis we (ok, mostly Angelica) found the following hilarious line: 12...Nh5 13.Qg4 (better is 13.Qc2) 13...Rf4 14.Qh3 g5 15.Bg3 (15.g4!) 15...g4 16.Qh4 Be7]
13.Qh3 Nd7
14.Nxe4 dxe4
15.Nd2 Bb4
16.a3? [16.0–0–0; 16.Rd1]
17.Kxd2 Nb6 [17...c5 Angelica rejected this because of 18.d5 Ne5 19.Qe6+]
18.Ke2 [18.Rac1!]
19.Rhd1 cxd4
20.Rxd4 Rc8 [20...Qb5+ 21.Ke1 Qxb2 22.Qe6+ Kh8 23.Rad1=]
21.Qg4 [probably white should run with her king: 21.Kf1 Rc2 22.Kg1 Qf7 23.Rf1 Nd5 24.Rxe4 Rxb2]
22.Ke1 Qxb2
23.Qe6+ Kh8
25.Rd1 Rxd1+
26.Kxd1 Qb5
27.Qe2 Qa4+ [27...Qe5]
28.Qc2 Qd7+
29.Qd2?? Qg4+ 0-1

Monday, April 28, 2008

both of which are good.

Lots of Nationals and I'm So Tired

Sorry I haven't posted in ages, I've been busy attempting the quadrathalon of scholastic chess nationals--just got back from Dallas 1 hour ago (girls'). Last weekend was Atlanta (high school), and two weeks from now is elementary (Pittsburgh). I doubt I can string together a coherent thought, but here's some pictures for you. Sometime soon I'll post some games, positions, and a story or two. Caroline Zhu, under 12 winner
Amanda Mateer and Emily Francis -- High School bughouse champions
Courtney Jamison, who will play in the US Women's Championship next month. She came second in the Girls 18 and Under section last weekend.

Medina Parrilla, winner of the 18 and Under
Darrian Robinson, Jasmine Fermin, and Angelica Berrios. It may not look likely, but their average rating is 1700.
Jasmine and Angelica

slightly out of place: the high school blitz tournament
Alex Botez, Girls 18 + under

Gayatri Vempati, Girls 18 + under

Monday, April 14, 2008

My Afterschool Game With Darrian

So in afterschool today we played a G/60, in preparation for High School Nationals, Girls Nationals, Elementary Nationals, etc. I had felt like one of the problems at Junior High Nationals was that the kids are just too used to G/30. Note to coaches out there: you can buy a USCF affiliate thing for $30 and it allows you to rate the games played in club. This makes the kids take it super-seriously. So Darrian doesn't usually come to afterschool, but she did today so we celebrated by playing each other.

(194) Robinson,Darrian - Vicary,Elizabeth [B34]
afterschool 14.04.2008
1.e4 c5
2.Nf3 g6

I just started playing this-- not sure if I'm going to stick with it, but I figured why not. Darrian just started playing the Open Sicilian, so I wanted to play something less weird than the Sveshnikov, in order to get a better feel for how well she understood things. The Svesh is just so bizarre that no one can play against it decently without some specific knowledge.

3.d4 cxd4
4.Nxd4 Nc6
5.Nc3 Nf6

Already I couldn't remember anything, but whatever, I was getting paid money to play a game of chess, so what do I care?

6.Be3 d5

Obviously I knew this was an incorrect move, but I couldn't see an immediate refutation, and I was curious what she would play.

7.Bb5 Bd7

This is the best move: anything else and white will take on c6 with the knight first:

7...dxe4 8.Nxc6 bxc6 9.Bxc6+ Bd7 10.Bxa8 Qxa8;
7...Nxe4 8.Nxc6 bxc6 9.Bxc6+ Bd7 10.Qxd5

8.exd5 Nb4
I can trade stuff, but I thought I would just be down a pawn for nothing after something like

8...Nxd4 9.Bxd7+ Qxd7 10.Qxd4 Bg7 11.0–0–0

She thought for a long time and played


I had expected 9.Bc4 when I was planning 9....Rc8 10.Bb3 Bg7 (I'm going to take on c3 as soon as she played a3, but not before) 11.a3 Rxc3 12.bxc3 Nbxd5. I missed, however, that she should take the knight with 12.axb4! since my a7 pawn will be hanging after I retreat the rook. Fritz likes white but suggests 12... Bg4 13.Nf3 Rxb3 14.cxb3 a6

10.Qe2 Be7

This move is very bad-- I missed how strong Bh6 would be. I should just play 10...Bg7 11.Bg5+ Qe7.


12.0–0 I was happy to see this. 12.0–0–0 puts mroe pressure on me.
13.Bc4 Nc6

Fritz wants to play 13...d5, and I considered it, I just thought defending this pawn all game would be more of a drag than defending the light squares.

14.Rad1 Ne5

Probably unnecessary. My knight on e5 is one of my few active pieces, so while her bishop is good, something like 15.Rfe1 is better. Fritz line: 15... Nxc4 16.Qxc4 Rc8 17.Qb3 g5 18.Rd3 Rg6 19.f4 gxf4 20.Bxf4+/-



So I was expecting 16.Bxg5 Rxg5 17.f4 when I wasn't sure how 17....Bg4 would turn out. Seems like it's good for me after 18.Qe3 Rh5 19.fxe5 Rxe5.

Fritz wants to play 16.h3! with the idea of going into the above line, but preventing ....Bg4: 16...Rg6 17.Bxg5 Rxg5 18.f4 Rg6 19.fxe5 dxe5 20.Nf3 Qb6+ 21.Kh1 Bc6 (21...Be6 22.Nxe5) 22.Bxf7+ Kxf7 23.Nxe5+.


I didn't know what to do. A hilarious computer line: 16...Rg6 17.Bxg5 Nxe4 18.Bxe7 Qxe7 19.Qxe4 Bg4 20.Rde1 (20.f3? Nxf3+) 20...Bh3 21.Ba4+

Now here's the big question: which way should the king go? Turns out that 21...Kd8 is better because we can take on g2 with the bishop and nxg6 won't be check later so black will have time to play Nf3+ and pick up another exchange. See:

21...Kf8 22.Nf5 Bxf5 (22...Rxg2+ 23.Qxg2 Bxg2 24.Nxe7 Bxf1 25.Kxf1 Kxe7 26.f4!; 22...Bxg2 23.Nxe7 Bxe4+ 24.Nxg6+ Bxg6) 23.Qxf5 Kg7±)

21... Kd8 22.Nf5 (better is 22. g3) Bxg2 23.Nxe7 Bxe4+ 24.Nxg6 Nf3+!

17.Nxc6? [17.Nxg5 Bxg2 18.Qxe5 (18.Kxg2 Nfg4 19.Bxf7+ Nxf7 20.Qxg4) 18...dxe5 19.Bxf7+ Kd7 20.Nde6+ Kc8 21.Rxd8+ Rxd8 22.Kxg2+-]


18.Bxg5 Better is 18.f4 gxf4 19.Bxf4


19.Bxe7 Qxe7

20.Qxe4 d5

21.Qxh7 0–0–0

I was feeling much better here. Fritz still likes white as much as ever (1.3), but I'm not suffering in the same way and I felt I had some initiative. Also she had 5 minutes to my 25.

22.Qf5+ Kb7

23.Rde1 Dunno why she didn't play the other rook.


24.Rxe5?!?! After the game she called this a sacrifice-- at the time I thought she hung it but I guess I believe her. 24.Qf4 is obviously better.


25.Qxf7+ Kb8

26.Qf3 Rdg8

27.g3 Rh8

28.Ba4 Rg6

29.Qd3 Rgh6?? [29...Qh5 mates immediately. I'm an idiot.]


I had a long think here.

30...Rxh2 is bad because of 31.Qb6+ Kc8 32.Qxc6+ and the best I can do is repeat with 32...Kb8= (32...Qc7? 33.Qa8+ Qb8 34.Qxb8+ Kxb8+-; 32...Kd8?? 33.Qd7#) ;

30...Qe4 was my other choice, but it loses to 31.Qb6+ Kc8 32.Bxc6+-

30...Qc7 Nice and safe.


I dismissed 31.h4 in the game because of 31...Rxh4, but white can not take back and run with the king instead: 32.Bxc6 Rh1+ 33.Kg2 R8h2+ 34.Kf3 Qf7+ 35.Ke2 Qe7+ 36.Kd1 Rxf1+ 37.Qxf1±


32.Qf3 Qh7

32...Qd7 is better: 33.Bb3 (33.Qb3+ Kc7; 33.Re1 Qh3 34.Qf4+ Kc8) 33...Qh3 34.Qf4+ Kc8.

33.Qf4+ Kc8

34.Qg4+ Qd7

35.Qxd7+ Kxd7

36.f4 Rd2

37.Rf2 Rd4

38.Bb3 Ke6

39.Kg2 Kf5

Ooops-luckily she had 10 seconds left and so didn't see it, but I'm ashamed of myself.

40.Kf3 [40.c3!]


41.Re2 Re4

42.Rf2 Re1

43.Re2 Rxg3+ 0–1


Position 1: Abadel (under 1000!)

So at first I thought Abadel's move: 1. Be7 was brilliant. the idea is 1... Bc1 2. Bd6+ Kxd6 3. e7! But it turns out this only draws after 1.... Bxe7 2. Kxe7 b4! (2... d4 is less good, since white can take and push the d pawn to attack the black king: 3. cxd4 c3 4. d5 c2 4. d6+ Kb7 6.d7 c1=Q 7. d8=Q Qg5+ 8. Ke8 Qh5+ 9. Kd7 Qd5+ 10. Ke7 Qg5+ and because of the advanced e pawn, black is only drawing)

So back to 2...b4! 3. cxb4 c3 4. Kf7 c2 5. e7 c1=Q 6. e8=Q and black is winning, at least according to Fritzy.

The best move is definitely 1. Bh6, simply intending 2. Bf8. Black gets nowhere with 1...d4 2. cxd4 c3 3. d5 c2 4. e7 Bxe7 5. Kxe7 c1=Q 6. d6+, since the bishop guards c1.

Position 2: (Rawn) Black had been defending this position for ages, and he made the psychologically classic mistake of 1... c5. The problem is that once the rooks are all traded, white can take on f6 and play h5, making a passed pawn. Nice teachable moment for resisting the urge to simplify! Instead, ....Rb1, intending ...Rh1, or ... f5, forcing white to fix the pawn structure, are both holding without too much trouble.

Position 3 At first I thought 1... h5 was the best, with the variation 2. Qxh5 Rh6 3. Qxh6 gxh6, but the truth is that 1.... Qxf1 is simple and obviously better.

Position 4 Najeebah's move 1. g3 is a horrible blunder, allowing 1... g4, making a passed h pawn.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Junior High Nationals-- At Least My Predictions Were Right

So the results were something of a let-down: third in open, 3rd or 4th in under 750, and I don't even know what in the other unders. I guess I'm disappointed, although not as much as I expected to be. Seems kinda stupid to let yourself truly be emotionally depressed about the results of children playing a board game. A couple of them played stupidly, and that bugs me, but one or two played well and worked hard, so I guess that evens things out. Angelica was the big star, to me at least-- she beat Vincent Zhang Saturday night in an exquisite good knight vs bad bishop ending. Sunday she played two experts and lost both but played for four hours each game and fought hard in each one.

OK, here are a few quiz positions for you from kids' games. Answers tomorrow-- I'm too lazy tonight.

White to move-- what's the best move and what's the evaluation? (Abadel, round 6)

Black to move-- what's the best move and what's the evaluation? (Rawn, rd 6)

Black to move-- best move? (Milo Pan- Davon)

White plays 1. g3. Why is this losing? (Najeebah - Caleb Deal)

Photos (coutesy of Greg Sciame, a teacher at my school)

Davon, Demetres, Markel
JFK Museum, Amani
JFK Museum
Pobo, Kevin, Myles
Rochelle, Najeebah, Alex
blitz tournment
Najeebah, Rochelle, Jonathan

after party in team room
Carlos, JieJing, Davon, Nicole

Danger: Keep All Children Away From Carousel.