Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Chess Camp and the Colle Z

     Mongoose Press recently sent me three volumes of a basic checkmate series called Chess Camp, and they are offering a free set to any chess teacher (!). The books are all mate in one problems, ranging from the very simple to the (relatively) complex, with a few nice thematic groupings along the way (checkmates grouped by opening, pairs of positions that look similar but have different answers, etc).There are obviously thousands of checkmate-practice books, but this set stands out for its physical qualities: the books look gorgeous, are hard bound but lightweight, the diagram font is very clear, diagrams have letters and numbers for notation, nice quality paper, and the book when opened is exactly the size of a standard sheet  (= easy to photocopy). The set would make really nice Christmas present for your niece/nephew who is just learning chess. If you're a chess teacher and would like a complementary set, email the publisher at info@MongoosePress.com.

     I also just bought their latest on the Colle Zuckertort (The Zuckertort System: A Guide for White and Black by Grigory Bogdanovich). I really like some parts of this book, mostly the way it is organized by plans and how each chapter begins with a summary of each side's ideas. I learned, for example, a nice idea from the section on the Marshall Plan-- that when black sets up his pawns d5-e6-f5, white can try to play c4 and then e4 to break them down. The index of tactical methods and strategic themes is unusually specific and helpful: 30 examples of the battle for the e4 square, examples of knight sacrifices in general, or on pairs of squares (e6/e5, f7/f6/f5, g6/g5, h6/h7), examples where black castles long, "defending the c2 pawn with the move c2-c3," "black advances the e pawn e6-e5," all great things to index. I wish there was an index of moves, too, as the chapter names are intriguing but it's not easy to find a particular variation. Perhaps future editions could include the first 6-8 moves of each variation under the chapter title in the table of contents.
       I have a lot of kids who love the CZ (easy to learn, safe, and you get an attack most of the time), and there are a few lines that always give us problems, so I was interested to see what Bogdanovich would recommend. Against the annoying ...g6 + ....d5 set up, he gives a few games, but no real recommendations, except at the end where he says if you think your opponent is going to do this "perhaps you should switch to the Grunfeld." haha, thanks a lot.
      Overall, this is a pretty good book--its organization seems like both its greatest strength and biggest weakness. There aren't too many other decent books on the Colle Zuckertort (Palliser's Starting Out: D Pawn Attacks, and Summerscale's A Killer Opening Repertoire for White are the two I like), and Bogdanovich's is aimed at stronger players than these.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

chess problems from ps 11

 1. Austin Tang (445) is an enthusiastic, hard-working new 7th grade player. Where should he, white, have gone here?

 2. Kevin Marin had a breakthrough tournament today, winning 3/4 in fine style. This was the game he lost, making the critical wrong choice here. What is white's best /worst move?

Endgame Clothing's Black Friday Sale

they do nice things with a t shirt

Metropolitan Chess FIDE Invitational

A new series of six IM norm tournaments has begun at the Metropolitan Chess Club in LA. Read a midway report on the first event here. Players in the first event include Enrico Sevilliano and Tatev Abrahamyan.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

maybe they made an illegal move?!

Drop that bishop and come out with your hands up!
A squad of cops in bulletproof vests swooped into an upper Manhattan park and charged seven men with the "crime" of playing chess in an area off-limits to adults unaccompanied by kids -- even though no youngsters were there.
"Is chess really something that should be considered a threat to the neighborhood?" Inwood resident and mom Joanne Johnson wrote Mayor Bloomberg, the City Council and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly after the raid.

Read more: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/kiddie_pawn_shock_KnKyQ0JfMITAIqGawRJf8J#ixzz15dyShqfd

Sunday, November 14, 2010

David Kim ties for first at the Marshall G/60 with GM Alex Lenderman!

 David Kim (1765, now 1877) went 4-0 yesterday to tie for first at the Marshall G/60, beating NMs Juan Sena and Leif Pressman. Nineteen IS 318 students played. Shawn Swindell and Ed Kopiecki shared the Under 2000 prize with 3/4, and Aleem Awan, Jermaine Cooper, Vaughn Soso, D'Andrea Dey, and Alex Bradford tied with 3 others for the Under 1700 prize.
 The talented 6th grader Brian Arthur (1225) is white here against the experienced and clever 8th grader Jermaine Cooper (1684). Black played the only move, 28....f6. What happens next?

Brian is black here against fellow 6th grader Carlos Tapia (1087). He blundered with 8...Ngf6. How should Carlos have taken advantage?

Mariah McGreen (1446) was black against Michael Mendez (1517). How does she avoid an immediate loss?

1) 1... f6 2. Qxh6+ gxh6 3. Bxf6+ Kh7 4. Rg7+ Kh8 5. Rg6+ Kh7  is a draw.
2) 9. c4! Qe6 (9... Qa5 10. Nd6+ Kd8 11. Nxb7+) 10. Nd4 Qe5 11. Nxf5 Qxf5 12. Nd6+
3) Black has two ways out:  16... Kg7 17. gxh5 Rh8 Now black threatens simply to take on h6, so: 18. h6+ Kg8 19. Nxe6 (19. h7+ Kg7 +/=) 19... Qd7 (not 19... fxe6?? 20. Qxe6+ Kf8 21. Qf6+ Ke8 22. Qxh8+) 20. Ng5 Qxh3 21. Nxh3 and white is better but it's far from over. There is also the strangely simple 16... Qd7, with the idea that 17. gxh5 Nf5 18. hxg6 fxg6 and the 7th rank is covered just fine.

Kevin M (925)

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Pledge of Chess

At my school, the kids have to say the Pledge of Allegiance every day. They don't have to, actually, but mostly they do. I have decided to copy this indoctrinational form of instruction and have created the Pledge of Chess, which my students now have to say every day. It is composed of all the things I say over and over again every Saturday when I'm looking at their games. It goes like this:

The Pledge of Chess
I will consider every check and every capture on every move!
I will never trade a bishop for a knight without a good reason!
I will not stop developing until my rooks are active!
I will make a special effort to consider pawn moves that change the pawn structure (like pawn breaks!)!
I will not trade pieces just because I can (I will have a good reason!)!
In d4-d5 structures, I will not put the knight in front of my c pawn!
I will not play Ng5 if ...h6 just makes me go back!
I will write my move down before I play it!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

photos and positions from children, thoughts about my game with Brad

 Kenneth Martin (1551), almost won the tournament, and was proud to finish 3rd (overheard on the train home: "I keep thinking my trophy is a single bar trophy, but then I reach down to feel the double bars...")

Teraab Feaster, 1234, who tied for first in the Intermediate (under 1500) section, watches Anita's game.

 Maya McGreen was disappointed in her result today, but she's playing 3 more tournaments in the next week: the Right Move (which her parents run) today, CIS's Columbus Day tournament Thursday, and the Marshall G/60 on Saturday.

Spike and Kevin joke around before their games. 


puzzles from student games

1. Shanniah is black. How could she have won a pawn?

2. She is white here, and this time she can win a piece.

3. Alex B is black against Ashanti M. What should he have played?

4. Michael Peguero was a star of the IS 318 chess team 3-5 years ago, when he went from 0 to 1900 in 2.5 years. Along the way, he won the national under 750 section and tied for 2nd in the k-8 open. He now works for the school on Saturdays, helping me go over student games. Michael comes from a family of 7 brothers, most of whom are named after archangels. His youngest brother, Ariel, is now in 6th grade and was black in the above position. How could he have won a piece?


1. 1... Nxd3+ 2. Qxd3 Bxf4
2. 15. Bxc6+ bxc6 16. Qh5+ and Qxg5
3. 1... Nxd4! 2. Qxd4 (2. Bxe7 Nxf3 3. Bxd8 Nxd2 4. Bxb6 Nxb6 5. Rxd2 Nc4 6. Re2 Kd7

Black has not won a pawn in this variation, but is much better because his central pawns are strong , while white's h pawn and queenside pawns are potentially weak. Black has a plan of doubling rooks on the h file to attack the pawns, and then playing ...f6 and ... g5 to force h5. After h5, black transfers his rooks to the f file and invades on f4: 7. b3 Nd6 8. h4 Rh6 9. f4 Rah8 10. Reh2 f6 11. Kd2 g5 12. fxg5 fxg5 13. h5 Rf8 14. Re1 Rf4 15. Rg2 g6 16. hxg6 Rxg6 17. a4 Rh6 18. Reg1 Rh4) 2... Bxg5+ 3. Nxg5 Qxg5+

4. ...Qa5+ wins the bishop

I keep thinking about two moments from my game against Braden Bournival, and how they are very typical examples of my chess weaknesses
This is the end of my knowledge of theory. I had a game with Bill Paschal 4 or 5 years ago that went 14...Qc8 and then I played either 15. Qf3 or 15. Qe4, I couldn't remember which, but it was the wrong move, whichever it was. That's why I played 15. Qc6+ after 14...Be7: because in comparison with my first game Brad hadn't prevented the check, and I went after the d pawn immediately because, I don't know, secretly I don't like being down a pawn?  I notice that I play inflexibly when I think there is a right idea in the position, my mind closes up and I let my (correct or incorrect) knowledge of a position trump thinking about it for myself.

I now move my queen four times in a row.  

Notice how nothing has changed in my position, but black has developed his bishop, got his king off the e file, and played ..f5. I'm expecting Brad to take the pawn on b2-- it's a very important pawn if I have any thought of playing an endgame, mostly because without it, the c pawn is so weak. 

But he doesn't, he plays 18...Rg8. 

Now, I absolutely 100% should play 19. Rb1 here, then 20. b3, then Rd1. But somehow, and I think being a chess teacher has made me more this way, in my head I'm in the midst of some narrative about how I'm playing boldly and vigorously, sacking a pawn on principle. I'm unwilling to play little, ugly, necessary moves out of egotism. I went on to lose insipidly. 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Interview with New England Nor'Easters Manager IM Dave Vigorito

EV:  Congratulations on an amazingly successful season! 9.5/10 is a huge accomplishment. What do you say to the haters who grumble that you had an easy schedule, faced weak line-ups, and generally got lucky?

DV: We have had a lighter schedule than other teams, but we have made the most of it. We have seen that CAR (who we played twice) is not an automatic win. In weeks 8 and 9, CAR drew powerhouses NY and BOS. In week 10 we played CAR. We only needed a 2-2 tie, but we won 4-0. We take care of business.

Also, look at a team like PHI. One reason they have a poor record is that we beat them twice. They should have a good team - they have Magesh and Smith, but those guys hardly played. There's not much we can do about that.

When we faced our biggest challenge in facing NY in week 7, we only had one of our four IM's available and we were facing a lineup with Georgi, Pascal, and Irina. We won the match.

The thing that is special about our team is that we never have to field a weak lineup. We used 10 different lineups in 10 weeks (and the first playoff match features and 11th lineup)!

EV:  Tell us about the creation of the Nor’Easters.

DV: Well, our region has a lot of good players. Even now there are a lot of good players around that do not play in the USCL - Foygel, Fang, Rizzitano, Kelleher, Mac Intyre, Coleman. Boston is a great team, but they generally remain unchanged each year, so there was clearly room for a second team. Both Brad and I have talked to Greg about a second Boston area team for many years. When Tennessee left, LA filled their spot. This made sense regionally. But then St Louis emerged, and their sudden addition allowed us to join the league (there has to be an even number of teams). Greg knew I could get a team together very quickly. Our preseason goal was to qualify for the playoffs. We made it.

EV:  Almost all of your players had plus scores for the season, but is there a standout whom you would pick as MVP?

DV: There are several MVP's. You could say it starts with Sam. He was 3/5 in the regular season, which may not seem tremendous, but he started 0-2. Neither of those losses was costly for the team. Then he won 3 in a row (Finegold, Kachi, Milman) and those wins were huge. As far as we are all concerned he's been great, both as a board 1 and as a teammate. We are really hope he does not quit chess because we certainly want him back last year.

Robert and I have both performed well (4/5 and 3.5/4). Brad has done well, and so has Chris Chase. One big moment in the season for me was when we faced NJ. Chris was playing Victor Shen, who had just demolished the <2400 section of the World Open with 8/9. It was this game I was the most worried about in the match, but Chris won a wonderful game, propelling us to a 2.5 victory. In general, our losses have not been costly and several players have had huge wins. You have to create your own luck.

If I did have to pick a MVP though, I'd probably go with Alex Cherniack. Every board counts the same, and he has scored 5/6. Board 4 can be unpredictable, so having a reliable, experienced master has given us a lot of confidence there.