Saturday, December 18, 2010

Lucas Chess


While surfing the web, I happen to come across a very neat free chess program called Lucas Chess (Website: http://lukasmonk.110mb.com/).


This nifty chess program does something very well. It trains you and allows you to play against progressively strong chess engines (using commercially free chess engines - think Rybka and Stockfish). In addition, the program also allows a lot of leeway when playing against a chess engine, you can predefine the number of takebacks or you can ask for a set number of hints from a stronger chess engine. It is similar in concept to using "helplines" on those "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" game shows.


After playing around with it, I have to say that I am EXTREMELY IMPRESSED with this program.

What is very interesting about this little application is that it achieves the abovementioned objectives INCREDIBLY well.

The interface is extremely beautiful and you can also choose from a variety of themes to customise the look of the board and pieces.


To add icing to the cake, LucasChess also includes a whole host of training modules. The modules included with the program are of a wide range, they include amongst other things, tactical combinations, chess problems (mate in 2, 3, 4 and more), basic endgame techniques (think Vancura, Lucena positions), and board memorisation.

Having played with it for quite a while now, I would say that this program is really what you need to get to at least 1700 level.

While some users may find the lack of customisation (in terms of adding add-on modules) somewhat restrictive, it detracts from everything else that is great about this program.

I can go on and on about the usefulness of this chess program but one thing is for sure, this application is going to be a keeper and a mainstay on my computer.

Many thanks to the programmers and all involved in the making of this application. It is a solid gold grade A effort!





Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I'm Never Going To See Zwischenzugs

It's quite funny... I just finished an online blitz game and I thought I performed the game quite well. However, upon turning on the silicon machine, Fritz immediately discovered that my opponent was winning with a huge advantage of over +3.00!! It so turns out that my opponent had missed a vital move and played what seemed like a natural human move which shrank his advantage from +3.00 to an instant 0.00 in 1 move and then -1.10 in the next move - shocking to say the least.

However, I have to admit that the winning move was quite difficult to spot. He had put my king under immense pressure and had continued to check my king, inadvertently missing a zwischenzug (an in between move) that didn't involve a check which would have won the game 2 moves later.

This is one problem I had (not with respect to the book) while reading the book from Charles Hertan on Forcing Chess Moves in which he discusses zwischenzugs on Chapter 8. In this chapter, while Hertain explains the importance of always looking for zwischenzugs, in practice, it is EXTREMELY difficult to spot and near impossible to calculate if you're calculating rather long variations in your head.

Even World Championship matches have been decided because of this important tactical motif. A case in point, in Game 12 of this year's match between Topalov and Anand - Topalov had evidently missed 34....Qe8 when he started the tactical complications starting with 31. exf5 but not Anand. If a 2800 rated player can miss it, what chance is there for us mere mortals? :)

Friday, December 10, 2010

London Chess Classic Live Video Stream


The London Chess Classic is now online.

What may interest people is that the games are commented live (complete with video feeds) by GM Daniel King. Yesterday, we had IM Lawrence Trent and today, GM Chris Ward joined the live commentary.

But what is of particular interest is that for every game, King comments on the various possible variations (without the aid of computer engines!). This is valuable commentary and honestly, watching King presents is like having a chess coach explain to you why certain moves work, some don't, what kind of strategies should be adopted, middlegame plans, endgame techniques - extremely valuable information for the club player who wants to improve his game.

You can catch it here:
London Chess Classic Live Video Stream

Monday, December 6, 2010

Blitz And More Blitz

I've not been playing in tournaments for the past 9 months now and have been just playing the occasional online blitz (usually 10 min or 5 min + 12 sec increment).

I noticed that as I played more and more blitz, my analysis skills became shallower and shallower, resorting to short calculations or variations. This has steadily led to a regression of my chess knowledge - so in the end, I just really couldn't be bothered with times and have resulted in losing games based on time. My FICS rating has since plummeted to the mid-1400 range and I'm not the least bit concerned. I find that I gained greater satisfaction from losing a blitz game while playing better moves than to win a blitz game playing poor moves.

True, I calculate deeper than I should for blitz but I think it's a good skill to cultivate in the long run.

With the London Chess Classic starting tomorrow (today is the drawing of lots), there's no shortage of chess coverage. I cannot remember the last time chess has been so active in the international scene.

It appears that chess is currently undergoing a mini-revival (in spite of the global economic downturn). This is certainly heartening to see.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Analysing Difficult Positions


This game is complicated. I am Black. In this online game, White threw everything except the kitchen sink to conjure up an extremely powerful attack on Black's king.

It is Black's turn.

If this was a blitz game, there is no way anyone could see the motifs and the correct move.

If Black can hold on to his position he would win. In razor sharp positions, where a single move can lead to a win or a loss, it is vital to be able to understand the "truth" of the position.

How would you analyse this position? If you were Black, what would you play?

In this game, I lost because I failed to understand the position.

If you do not want to know the answer, STOP READING NOW!! :)

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.



The way to tackle this problem was to first of all, understand how to go about analysing this.

Think for a moment, if this was White's turn, what would White play?

The answer is obvious.

2. f7! Now White is threatening mate on g8 so the next move is forced.
2. ... Bg7 (any other move is instant mate after 3. Qxh6#)

With this in mind, we know that once the h6 pawn falls it is checkmate.

So what would White play as a followup move?
3. Rh2! with the intention of 4. Rxh6 Bxh6 5. Qxh6# (again!)

Ok. So how do I stop the Rook from sacrificing itself on h6? What this means is that Black has only 2 moves to prevent checkmate.

The Black Queen is way offside. The light-squared Bishop on c4 is hindered by the d4 pawn. True, it can temporarily sacrifice itself with Bd3 but after Rxd3, Black can save the situation since it requires 2 moves by White to reposition itself back on the h-file. This can be saved but is there a better solution (remember the axiom "if you find a good move, look for a better one")?

The Rook on a8 takes 3 moves to reposition itself to the h-file. This is far too late.

How about 1.... b5 trying to pin the White Queen and stopping f7? The problem comes again.
2. Rh2 and now preparing 3. Rxh6+ Bxh6 4. Qxh6 Kg8 5. Qg7# (another mate!)

So what is left? It's the Black Queen.

Is there a way to stop the Rook from entering the h-file with the Queen? Well, given that the Black Queen is on a light square, it needs 3 moves to get to the h-file but the problem is that if the Queen retreats to b7 or c8, White will play f7 and the 7th rank is totally cut off for the Black Queen. It's starting to look grim for Black.

What now? Now that we've identified the threats and possible solutions. Let's look at this position now, with a fresh pair of eyes.


So we know that the Queen retreat doesn't work, the Rook takes too long to lift itself and the c4 Bishop (short of sacrificing itself for tempi) cannot go back in time and b5 pawn moves doesn't work either.

Now imagine if White has a chance to play Rh2, where would you put the Black Queen if you have free rein? If the Queen is on the 1st rank to give check to the White king, then after ....Qf1 it is Black who is now giving checkmate. In other words, if we can find a way to get the Queen to f1 in 2 moves, we can stop Rh2.

The solution to this predicament has to be 1. ....Qa4!! intending .... Qd1+ Kg2 and then Qf1# (if White tries Rh2).

So the correct move to stop this is 1.... Qa4!!

Shocking, isn't it? :)

Friday, November 19, 2010

NYC: Watch Where You Play Chess

7 men ticketed for playing chess in playground by cops in bulletproof vests

Reminds me of a scene from Dirty Harry:

Callahan: Are you trying to tell me that ballistics can't match the bullet up to this rifle?
DA: It does not matter what ballistics can do. This rifle might make a nice souvenir. But it's inadmissible as evidence.
Callahan: And who says that?
DA: It's the law.
Callahan: Well, then the law's CRAZY!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Botvinnik-Petrosian Book Review

For readers who have been wondering where I have gone, I have been reading some of the books I bought the last 3 months. And I've just finished reading Botvinnik-Petrosian - The 1963 WCC Match by Mikhail Botvinnik.

I started reading the book 2 months ago and despite it being a somewhat thin book, it was hard because trying to find time to read the annotations and play the game (using a chessboard and its variations) is time-consuming!

If you've ever wanted to know about the old Soviet chess champions, this book is very insightful. It details the going-ons of the clash between 2 heavyweight chess personalities.

Note that this is a patzer's review so hang on to your seats!

Book quality:

This book is printed by New In Chess. The covers have a slight cardboardish glossy feel to it that is typical of many softcover chess books (slightly better than what softcover novels use). Inside, the pages are of pristine white paper and the quality of the paper makes it very easy to move between pages. The binding is glued based but considering how relatively thin this book is, it does the job decent enough in holding the pages together. The font is in Times New Roman using figurine algebraic notation. The font is just a shade bigger (about 1-2 points bigger) than most chess books which makes the annotations stand out very clearly and makes reading a joy. The typeset in combination with the white pages makes reading comfortable.... very comfortable. The book is presented in 2 columns on each page.

Content:

The presentation of the book is well thought out. A table of contents was accompanied with a foreword from Karpov, followed by notes from Igor Botvinnik, a simple overview of the match regulations and a match table containing the 22 games fought.

And with that, the game begins in earnest.

This is where things get a little uneven.

The annotations do not have a uniform feel to it. This is of course, no doubt in part due to the different annotators of each game. While we would all like to have all game annotations from Botvinnik or Petrosian, unfortunately, this is just not possible. So the book has to make do with annotations from other notable chess figures.

Annotations are as follows:-
Game 1 - Mikhail Botvinnik
Game 2 - Tigran Petrosian
Game 3 - Alexander Kotov
Game 4 - Mikhail Botvinnik
Game 5 - Tigran Petrosian
Game 6 - Vladimir Akopian
Game 7 - Vladimir Akopian
Game 8 - Mikhail Botvinnik
Game 9 - Vladimir Akopian
Game 10 - Mikhail Botvinnik
Game 11 - Mark Taimanov
Game 12 - Salo Flohr
Game 13 - Mikhail Botvinnik
Game 14 - Mikhail Botvinnik
Game 15 - Garry Kasparov (from My Great Predecessors)
Game 16 - Mikhail Botvinnik
Game 17 - Viktor Kortchnoi
Game 18 - Vladimir Akopian
Game 19 - Vladimir Akopian
Game 20 - Vladimir Bagirov
Game 21 - Vasily Panov
Game 22 - Vasily Panov

It must be noted that by game 20, Petrosian had an overwhelming 3 point lead. At this stage, Botvinnik knew the game was pretty much over. He tried making an effort in game 20 but when that quickly petered to a draw, games 21 and 22 were just signatory moves that only lasted 10 moves. I don't think anyone can really complain about the annotations of the last 2 games! :)

This is followed by what must be the highlight of the book. A valuable 10 page insight given by Petrosian about the match. In it, he explains the circumstances surrounding the match, his preparation, his psychology and state of mind.

Somewhat oddly included after is a symbolic game of Botvinnik's preparation in his game against Mark Taimanov. This is then succeeded by a 2 page excerpt taken from Chess World 1964 by Botvinnik on why he lost the match.

9 games of Botvinnik-Petrosian were then shown, of which only 2 were properly annotated while the others were simply shown with little or no annotation at all (what a pity!). This is followed by training games between Botvinnik and Furman (no annotations) and the book concluded with Botvinnik's final notebook on opening preparation.

I admit that I've not played through these games but I might possibly do so at a future date when time permits.

Criticisms:

The unevenness of the annotated games makes one feel a tad disjointed. One moment, we are treated to Botvinnik's pedantic style, the next, Akopian's more modernish annotations (with some very extensive annotations by virtue of the length of some of the variations that run up to 20 ply moves!)

I think this is probably the only criticism I have of the book and indeed, it's very difficult to find fault with the book.

Kudos:

The book is littered with many pictures of the 2 players. This is a nice departure from the Botvinnik-Smyslov book where annotations and more annotations fill the book.

All of the annotations were superb and I find it hard to pick out the best game annotation of the whole book. If I were given a choice, I would nominate Game 5 annotated by Petrosian. What makes Game 5's annotations memorable was that Petrosian himself inserted some very interesting comments between moves (including the match environment).

Summary:

This book is going to be one of my favourite books for many years to come. The nice thing is that due to its largely fewer pages (when you see the Botvinnnik-Smyslov tome, you would know what I mean), it is an extremely handy and great book to read along to fill in the time.

I would judge this book to be very educational for players who want to improve their game or for readers who simply want to know about the 1963 match.

Conclusion:

A solid A+ effort!


I've done 1 book and 2 more to go.... I don't expect to finish reading the next 2 anytime soon. They are Botvinnik-Smyslov and San Luis 2005 *gulp*

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Carlsen Quits World Candidates

I guess the biggest news now in the chess world is Magnus Carlsen withdrawing from the World Championship cycle.

Instead, Magnus favours the tournament method (link to Chessbase article)?

I'm sorry Magnus but you've lost me. The matches have been a mainstay and the main attraction of the chess world since its inception to produce a World Champion whether you like it or not. San Luis 2005 only produced a FIDE World Champion much like in the preceding years before it. Mexico 2007 was a special event and one which produced Anand as a unified World Champion because the then existing World Champion Kramnik agreed to play under FIDE's rule. Anand subsequently solidified his status a year later in Bonn and no one has since doubted his status.

No one ever said the path to being a world champion was easy. In the 50s and 60s, players had to qualify for Interzonals and then the Candidates before facing the World Champion. Players who reached this summit truly deserved to be a World Champion. That is why players like Smyslov, Tal, Petrosian, Spassky, Fischer proved their mettle and their names are etched in the minds as great chess players in everybody's hearts and minds.

So why a tournament format? It's obvious that Magnus shines in such a format and it is one which guarantees his best chance of winning. But winning such a tournament is worthless in the eyes of the chess world. The years of the split between FIDE and Kasparov are well known and FIDE's introduction of the tournament format was ample proof of that.

I find it amazing that Carlsen qualified not because he had passed through the Interzonals nor the Grand Prix but because FIDE gave him a free ticket to the seat by virtue of his rating and he is still not satisfied.

This is not going to sit well with the rest of the chess world.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

If Your Opponent Was Him



.... what would you do? A Tattoo Too Far (weblink opens a video interview)

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Great Equaliser


It's been slightly more than 13 years since Kasparov lost to the computer Deep Blue. What this monumental impact it had on the chess world has been nothing short of incredible.

We now know that the best chess mind in the world is no match against the best chess engine in a tactical slugfest. That's because chess engines have the incredible ability to walk a tightrope and still hold a game (given enough processing power and adequate time). Emotion and pressure has no bearing on its performance.

So what has really happened since then?

Instead of signaling the death of chess, what has happened ironically is the exact opposite. Computers have made chess become even more accessible to everyone.

No longer do you need someone to tell you what tactic you missed in your OTB game. The computer will show you the way in less than a blink of an eye, thereby helping you in your game.

The prolifigeration of chess material on the internet and in bookshops, online stores have been incredible. Unsure what your opening plan and strategy should be? Look up in any of the free online databases to see what everyone is playing. Not sure if this 2P+R+K v P+R+K endgame is winning? Look up any of the widely free tablebase chess servers on the Net and your answer will be given.

What also has given rise is the increasing usage by human players to make computer-like moves. Moves which seem impossible and counter to reason suddenly can now be shown to work.

The internet is also largely responsible for the increase and spread of chess information, being quick to embrace chess in all its forms. You can find video analyses of old master games on YouTube, read free online annotations by GMs on games, watch videos of recent tournaments.

We now have so much chess information floating around in the web that it does not matter if you're a 2700 GM or a 700 player, you still have access to the same information as the next person. Never has the playing field been more even.

The unfortunate part is that it also allows anyone to be an armchair critic. :)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Buyer's Not-So-Remorse

Do you feel guilty of buying too many chess books and not getting around to reading them all?

I'll be the first to put my hands up for this.

I've so far in my possession a couple of books on my bookshelf that I did not get around to finish reading them.

And last week, I just bought another chess book, San Luis 2005 (will be arriving in 2 weeks time via mail) in spite of the fact that I've not finished reading the other 2 New In Chess books that I'm currently reading.

One good thing I found was that I really need to invigorate myself (practically force myself) to read finish the current books in my possession.

But the progress has been slow. A chess book takes ages to complete for me because I have a tendency to want to replay them with a real chess set instead of moving the pieces around in my head. So 1 game takes me at least 2 hours to finish, analyse and understand the motifs and read the annotations (including variations) of why certain moves are made.

It's also extremely tiring to my eyes if I was to replay it on the computer. The problem with playing it over the computer is that my mind is not able to recall it as vividly unless I push the wooden pieces around.

I predominantly identify myself as a type of person who needs to learn via "doing", not one who learns via simple introduction and reading of new material.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

FIDE Training And Recommendations

Now we all know that if we were to approach chess learning the same way we do in school - that is, through consistent effort, diligence, hard work and motivation, there's no reason why we cannot succeed in chess.

So if we were to approach chess the way we study, what kind of books and is there any kind of material that we can obtain to help us understand chess better?

Thankfully, the people at the FIDE Trainers Commission have a nice bunch of information to help you out.

Included here is a list of 100 chess books (note that the list is a bit old - it would be nice if they have an updated list but many of the recommendations are already excellent)

http://trainers.fide.com/recommended-books.html

in which they also list their top books for FIDE trainers.

Also available on the official FIDE Trainers websites are some excellent training materials (called "surveys" - talk about misnomers) at :

http://trainers.fide.com/surveys.html

(Available in downloadable/viewable pdf, doc and zipped cbv/pgn formats)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Chess Engines On The Cheap



.... well actually, free. :)

Unless you happen to be a chess professional or a serious chess enthusiast/player and absolutely want the latest and greatest chess engines, ranging from Hiarcs 13 to Rybka 4 and you have a bit of moolah to spend, then you probably don't want to read this blog post.

An amateur and a patzer such as myself, don't use the latest nor the greatest chess engine at all.

Besides the ever common Crafty (did you know it came in joint 2nd in the recent 2010 World Computer Rapid Chess Championship?) which you can get for free (http://www.craftychess.com/), there are also a few free chess engines available.

Rybka v2.3.2a is available for free from the Rybka website (http://www.rybkachess.com/free/Rybka232a.zip)

Stockfish is another free chess engine (http://www.stockfishchess.com/download/) along with Toga II.

There are also other free chess engines that are available and which have been removed from participation due to accusations of decompilation and cloning by the Rybka team. These chess engines include Firebird and Ivanhoe (which are reputedly even stronger than Rybka4). As to where to get these chess engines, well, I don't need to tell you how to find them, do I?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Finish Him




In the game "Mortal Kombat"(or as I affectionately like to call it - More-Dull Combat), the finishing blow to win over your opponent in this computer game is to land a killer blow (called a "Fatality"). So what has is got to do with chess?

Well, is there anything worse than losing a chess game?

Yes, when it's losing a chess game that you know you had a winning position but you could not convert the advantage and not being able to land the killing blow!

History has been filled with such examples from patzers like me, all the way to elite Grandmasters (the Topalovs, Anands and Kramniks etc.). It has also occurred with surprising regularity and at the highest levels (see the Botvinnik - Bronstein World Championship match 1951).

The recent Chess Olympiad is a good example.

Just to show you how bad my calculation skill is, take a look at the following position:

My opponent Black just played

20. ....Qd4?? trying to exchange off my Queen. I meekly retreated my Queen in the game but there is a nice little tactical blow in this position that will give me an advantage.

Can you spot it?


It's 21. Nd4!.

Once you see the move, it's not hard to realise what is happening. If Black takes the Queen with 21.... Qxg4 22 Nf6+ forks both King and Queen and White is a healthy piece up.

If Black moves the King with 21.... Kg7 Then 22. Qxd4 and either 22... cxd4 or 22... exd4 results in the 2 Rooks being forked with 23. Nd7 with a healthy exchange up.

So how does a patzer like me improve my skill in recognising killer blows?

We turn once again to the patriarch Mikhail Botvinnik.

Botvinnik had no chess coach. So how then did he develop his talent?

What he would do is to play over his games, extenuously finding improvements in his play or he can learn to play better. He will play out as many variations of his games as much as possible, objectively trying to seek out the "truth" in each position. By doing so over and over and over again, Botvinnik's chess acumen improved. He start to formulate plans, strategies, and more importantly, he developed his incredible ability to calculate long variations accurately.

This kind of training plan is purposeful. It's training with a plan, a plan that identifies your weaknesses and strengths and how to improve on your weaknesses and to develop your strengths at the same time.

In my case, my weaknesses are in the middlegame and in tactics. As a result, I find myself unable to recognise opportunities when they present themselves. So my training plan should involve solving middlegame problems, and tactical problems and familiar patterns and strategies arising from my typical middlegames.

So what is your plan?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Attacking Manual Wins ECF Book Of The Year

A well deserved and my heartiest congratulations to Quality Chess and to GM Jacob Aagaard.

The English Chess Federation has awarded the 2 volume work Attacking Manual 1 and 2 as ECF Book Of The Year.

I know what some readers might think. What's so great about these 2 books on attack that hasn't been dealt before? How do you compare them with evergreen books like Vladimir Vukovic's magnum opus Art Of The Attack or Rudolph Spielmann's The Art of Sacrifice in Chess?

I got a chance to browse a few chapters of it and the work is stunning, to say the least. You don't get phrases like "now White is winning" or "the rest is just technique".... GM Aagaard actually takes the time to tell you (in words - not variations) of the hows and the why. And nearly 99% of these explanations go into paragraphs, detailing the nuances of the position and the ideas and strategies attached to them!

This kind of work is getting rare these days where chess books (especially opening manuals) seem to be popping up, left, right and center.

And in the publishing world where pages are often precious "real estate" and tend to be in short supply (especially for chess books), Attacking Manual 1 and 2 breaks both stereotypes. Attacking Manual 1 contains over 320 pages of information while Attacking Manual 2 weighs in at over 450 pages of instructional work! These 2 books are truly phenomenal.

One final word about the books. IMPT: If you plan on getting Attacking Manual 1, do get the Revised and Expanded Edition. GM Jacob Aagaard clearly has put a lot of love and care into these 2 books enough to release a revised version in the space of 2 years - something nearly unheard of in the realm of chess publishing.

So if you don't have these books and you love to attack (or defend), then don't walk to the bookstore, run and get it and you'll have hours .... err, make that months of enjoyment.

Endgame Technique & Karsten Müller

When anyone mentions training on endgames, one of the names that frequently pops into conversation is Germany's very own chess mathematician and Chessbase presenter Dr Karsten Müller.

At times, his name has become so synonymous with endgame technique that I find it hard to separate one from the other.

He appears everywhere. When he's not releasing books (eg. the latest ChessCafe Puzzle Book 3), you can see him on every issue of Chessbase Magazine (where he deals out even more endgame commentaries and analysis in Chessbase video format), on Chessbase Fritz Trainers (his Endgame series are still ever popular) or on ChessCafe's monthly endgame columns.

And when he's not busy with doing books and videos, he plays for the chess club Hamburger SK team in the German Bundesliga. Dr Müller (he got his PhD at the University of Hamburg) was also a coach and trainer.

One of the reasons for his popularity is his video presentations for Chessbase. He attacks each video lesson with such fervour and aplomb and at times, is unintentionally humorous. In one endgame lesson, he looks at the position in a 2R+K vs 2R+K endgame and proclaims, "now, you can choose to exchange off one pair of the rooks.... *pause* .... maybe not, we shall see..."

I've been an avid reader of Müller's Chesscafe columns. If you sort through the Chesscafe archives, his Endgame columns are worth their weight in gold. If you're below 2000 Elo rating, there are at least 100 Elo points waiting to be earned in those columns.


(Above image: Karsten Müller in his Chessbase Endgame DVD
examines one of his own games in an endgame
which he converted with ease
- yes, he does know his endgame, folks!)


Some fun facts:

He achieved his first GM norm at the German Championship 1997. The critical game took place on his 27th birthday, he was a whole rook down but his opponent was short on time and allowed him a perpetual check.

As he was about to publish his book, Fundamental Chess Endings with Frank Lamprecht, tablebases started to appear on the chess scene. He had to go back and check all the analyses (yikes!) . To make matters worse, he uses the Nunn convention where each move marked by an exclamation mark(!) means it is the only move to play.

Igor Tabolyi sought fit to put a chapter on Müller in the book, Genius In The Background.

Müller has also translated a few chess books into German including Secrets Of Modern Chess Strategy, How To Beat Your Dad At Chess and Dvoretsky's Analytical Manual.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Young Smyslov Game


The 7th World Chess Champion Vasily Vasilyevich Smyslov was one of the strongest players and some might argue, the strongest player in the 1950s, eclipsing Mikhail Botvinnik.

Just how good was he?

When you consider that he played 3 World Championship matches with Botvinnik in 1956, 1957 and 1958 and yet emerged with a plus score against Botvinnik, it's no small feat.

One of the most famous quotes from Smyslov was, "I will play 40 good moves. If you can play 40 good moves, we will draw."

He sure knows how to make the skill of making good moves seem effortless!

In this following game position (taken from the book Smyslov's Best Games, a young Smyslov is playing against Gerasimov in the Championship of the Moscow House of Pioneers in 1935, we look at this game after Gerasimov (White) plays 19. h3.

What did the young Smyslov (as Black) uncork that forced White to resign on move 22?


FEN Position:
[r2r2k1/1b3ppp/ppq1p3/4P3/N1P2bn1/PQ5P/1B3PP1/R3RBK1 b - - 0 19]

When you're ready, highlight between the brackets for the answer.

[Smsylov played the move. 19... Rd3!!
In the game White played
20. Qxb6 (if 20. Qxd3 Bh2+ 21. Kh1 Nxf2+ loses the Queen)
20... Rxh3 !! (the point)
21. Bd4 (if 21. Qxc6 Bh2+ 22. Kh1 Nxf2#) 21... Bh2+
22. Kh1 Bxe5+ (and White is helpless to stop a Windmill using a Bishop which loses the Queen!)
0-1

]

Friday, September 24, 2010

Chess In Translation


There's a new chess website catering to translations of interviews from Russia called ChessInTranslation.com.

It is fast becoming one of my favourite chess websites. In it, you can find English translation of Russian interviews. With the Chess Olympiad now in full swing, this website has now become my daily staple diet of Russian chess news!

Well done to the web administrators of this great website!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Online Cheating - A Penny For Your Thoughts

While browsing the chess.com forums, I came across the following interesting post from erik (owner of chess.com). The post reminds me of what John Milton wrote in Paradise Lost.

"Abashed the Devil stood and felt how awful goodness is."

------------------------
10th August 2009, 05:52am by erik

We close many accounts each day for computer cheating on Chess.com. Generally people get very very angry about it and email back to deny it and blah blah blah (always the same thing). But today we received a different response and I wanted to share it for 2 reasons: first, a warning to those who are tempted to cheat; and second, to show an example of maturity in someone who is man enough to own up to his decisions.

"First of all, I'm very sorry for betraying the trust put into me by Chess.com.

Things have happened in my life over the last year and at one point in time I decided to make that unforgiveable mistake, and one thing led to another. I regret making that mistake. Not that it'll make any difference, and I'm not expecting you to believe me, but it's been the main reason I was considering to resign all my games and just not play on chess.com anymore. To just be able to help out the community and write articles. Alas, I threw that away the moment I first used that engine.

I have never asked you for anything, nor will I now. Don't worry, I won't try to come back under a different name, I have betrayed the trust put into me and that's sad. Very sad.

I wish you all the best. Please accept my sincere apologies, wish you all the best of luck with the website and I enjoyed all the hours on chess.com."

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tournament Book Mood


I've not been playing OTB chess for the last 6 months and rustiness has indeed set in.

In the meantime, I've taken time out to start to reading chess books again and have recently bought a few tournament books.

I'm in the midst of reading Botvinnik - Petrosian (New In Chess) and have gone up till game 3 of their 1963 WCC match and what a fight it was! Despite reaching a drawish looking endgame, the two proceeded to battle it out till move 86! Neither was willing to give up without giving it a good fight.

Sadly, my book is starting to get dog-eared pretty quickly due to my constant page-flipping and rather callous handling of the book. But this book is going to be destined to be one of the few books I finish. :)

As an added incentive, I've bought another book Botvinnik - Smyslov (New In Chess) last weekend and will be looking forward to reading/studying it once I'm done with the Botvinnik - Petrosian book. After this, I'm looking forward to acquiring either San Luis 2005 or Reggio Emilia 2006/2007.

Maybe I'll do a simple book review of it when I'm done! :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Chess.com Boots Out Yelena Dembo


Making the unusual headlines today is Chess.com's decision to unceremoniously boot out WGM Yelena Dembo. No detailed information was forthcoming from chess.com but word has spread that there was an "anomaly" in her CC games.

Her account (http://www.chess.com/members/view/YelenaDembo) on chess.com is currently being listed as "disabled".

Addendum: On chess.com's forums, a forummer Steve Collyer (UK) have put up his analysis of Ms Dembo's games vs 2200++ opponents. His findings are listed below.

Please note that this is not to be taken as the gospel truth. If you would like to find the correlation, feel free to use the posted games below for your own analysis with your own engines. Me? I would prefer if Ms Dembo's games get a good looking over by a respected GM. I still find the whole incident disturbing.

You can find Ms Dembo's responses on chessgames.com at: http://www.chessgames.com/~Yelena+Dembo

----- Steve Collyer's results ----

Deep Rybka 3 x64
Hash:256 Time:30s Depth:12-20ply

AMD Phenom x 4 2.30Ghz 4GB DDR2 RAM

YelenaDembo (Games: 20)
Top 1 Match: 530/723 ( 73.3% )
Top 2 Match: 638/723 ( 88.2% )
Top 3 Match: 676/723 ( 93.5% )
Top 4 Match: 698/723 ( 96.5% )

In another thread, he posted Ms Dembo's last 18 CC games and I quote:

"Here are the games which I will analyse. Please note that the games are the most recently completed vs 2200+ rateds with 35+ total moves. There are 18 of these, and to complete the usual 20 game requirement I selected the 2 most recent games by near 2200's with 35+ total moves:"

[Event "CM v Dalmatia - Board 1"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2010.05.16"]
[White "YelenaDembo"]
[Black "Slow_Burn"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2805"]
[BlackElo "2797"]
[TimeControl "1 in 5 days"]
[Termination "YelenaDembo won by resignation"]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bg5 a6 7.Qd2 e6 8.O-O-O Bd7 9.Kb1 Be7 10.f4 h6 11.Bh4 b5 12.a3 O-O 13.Nf3 Qb6 14.e5 dxe5 15.fxe5 Nd5 16.Nxd5 exd5 17.Bxe7 Nxe7 18.Qd4 Qe6 19.Bd3 Rab8 20.Qh4 Nc6 21.Rhe1 b4 22.a4 b3 23.c3 Bc8 24.Re3 Re8 25.h3 Na5 26.Nd4 Qe7 27.Qxe7 Rxe7 28.Ree1 Kf8 29.Nf5 Rc7 30.Nd6 Nc4 31.Nxc8 Rbxc8 32.Be2 Rd8 33.Rd4 Ke7 34.Bd1 Ke6 35.h4 Na5 36.Rg4 Rg8 37.Kc1 Rc6 38.h5 Rc5 39.Rf1 Ke7 40.Rgf4 Rf8 41.Rb4 Rc4 42.Rxc4 dxc4 43.Bf3 Rd8 44.Rh1 Ke6 45.Re1 g5 46.Bg4+ Ke7 47.Re4 Rd5 48.Bc8 Rc5 49.Bxa6 Ke6 50.Kd2 Rd5+ 51.Ke2 Rxe5 52.Rxe5+ Kxe5 53.Ke3 Kd5 54.g4 Ke5 55.Bc8 f6 56.Bf5 Nc6 57.Be4 Na5 58.Ba8 1-0

[Event "NaScp with Miss - Board 2"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2010.05.01"]
[White "kingkoy301"]
[Black "YelenaDembo"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2503"]
[BlackElo "2767"]
[TimeControl "1 in 3 days"]
[Termination "YelenaDembo won by resignation"]

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.e3 O-O 6.h3 c5 7.dxc5 Nbd7 8.Be2 Ne4 9.Nxd5 e6 10.Nc7 e5 11.Nxa8 exf4 12.exf4 Bxb2 13.O-O Bxa1 14.Qxa1 Ndxc5 15.Rd1 Bd7 16.Ne5 Qc8 17.f3 Nf6 18.Qd4 Bf5 19.g4 Ne6 20.Qe3 Ng7 21.Qxa7 Be6 22.Nb6 Qc5+ 23.Kf1 Nfh5 24.gxh5 Nxh5 25.Qxb7 Nxf4 26.Ng4 Nxh3 27.Ke1 Bxg4 28.Nd5 Qf2+ 29.Kd2 Be6 30.Nf6+ Kg7 31.Qb2 Kh6 32.Ne4 Rd8+ 33.Kc1 Rxd1+ 34.Bxd1 Qe3+ 35.Kb1 Nf2 36.Nxf2 Qxf2 37.a4 Qd2 38.Qc1 Qxc1+ 39.Kxc1 Kg5 40.a5 h5 41.a6 h4 0-1

[Event "double challenge - Board 1"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2010.02.10"]
[White "YelenaDembo"]
[Black "ashot_bag"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2752"]
[BlackElo "2304"]
[TimeControl "1 in 5 days"]
[Termination "YelenaDembo won on time"]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 d6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nxd4 Bd7 6.O-O g6 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.Bc4 Bg7 9.Re1 Ne7 10.Nc3 O-O 11.Bg5 h6 12.Be3 c5 13.Qd2 Kh7 14.f4 Rb8 15.b3 Nc6 16.Rac1 Nd4 17.Bf2 Be6 18.Bf1 Qd7 19.Nd1 f5 20.c3 Nc6 21.exf5 Bxf5 22.g3 Rbe8 23.Rxe8 Rxe8 24.b4 Qe6 25.Ne3 Be4 26.bxc5 d5 27.Nc2 g5 28.Nd4 Qg4 29.fxg5 hxg5 30.Re1 Ne5 31.Bg2 Bf6 32.h3 Qh5 33.g4 Qg6 34.Bh1 Bxh1 35.Kxh1 Nc4 36.Qc2 Rxe1+ 37.Bxe1 Qxc2 38.Nxc2 1-0

[Event "10th Chess.com Tournament (2201+) - Round 1"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2010.03.01"]
[White "YelenaDembo"]
[Black "wh47"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2747"]
[BlackElo "2377"]
[TimeControl "1 in 3 days"]
[Termination "YelenaDembo won by resignation"]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.Re1 O-O 7.Bxc6 dxc6 8.Nxe5 Re8 9.d3 Bb4 10.c3 Rxe5 11.cxb4 Qd4 12.Qd2 Re8 13.Qc3 Rd8 14.Bf4 Be6 15.Bxc7 Ng4 16.Qxd4 Rxd4 17.f3 Rd7 18.Bf4 Nf6 19.Nc3 Rxd3 20.Red1 Rad8 21.b3 h5 22.Kf2 Kf8 23.Rxd3 Rxd3 24.Ne2 Ne8 25.Be3 Rd7 26.Nf4 Nf6 27.h4 Ke8 28.Bb6 g6 29.Ke3 Nh7 30.Nd3 f5 31.Ne5 Rg7 32.Rd1 fxe4 33.Rd8+ Ke7 34.Rb8 exf3 35.Rxb7+ Kf6 36.Bd8+ Kxe5 37.Rxg7 fxg2 38.Rxg6 Bd5 39.Kf2 Nf8 40.Rg5+ Kd4 41.Rxh5 Ne6 42.Bf6+ Kd3 43.Be5 Kc2 44.Rf5 Kb1 45.h5 Be4 46.Rf7 Ng5 47.Rg7 g1=Q+ 48.Kxg1 Nf3+ 49.Kf2 Nxe5 50.Ke3 Bc2 51.Kd4 Nf3+ 52.Kc3 1-0

[Event "10th Chess.com Tournament (2201+) - Round 1"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2010.03.01"]
[White "saksipotku"]
[Black "YelenaDembo"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2367"]
[BlackElo "2739"]
[TimeControl "1 in 3 days"]
[Termination "YelenaDembo won by resignation"]

1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.g3 Nc6 4.Bg2 Bc5 5.d3 d6 6.Na4 O-O 7.Ne2 Bb6 8.Nxb6 axb6 9.O-O Be6 10.c4 Qe7 11.f4 Bg4 12.h3 Bxe2 13.Qxe2 Nd7 14.Be3 Nc5 15.f5 Nd4 16.Qd2 Nd7 17.g4 f6 18.h4 Ra5 19.b3 Rfa8 20.Qb2 Ra3 21.Rfd1 c5 22.g5 Qe8 23.Kf2 Qh5 24.Rh1 Qg4 25.Bxd4 cxd4 26.gxf6 Nc5 27.Rhd1 gxf6 28.Bf3 Qxh4+ 29.Kg2 Kh8 30.Qf2 Qg5+ 31.Kf1 Nxb3 32.Rab1 Rxa2 33.Rb2 Rxb2 34.Qxb2 Qe3 35.Qxb3 Qxf3+ 36.Ke1 Qe3+ 37.Kf1 Rg8 0-1

[Event "10th Chess.com Tournament (2201+) - Round 1"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2010.03.01"]
[White "wh47"]
[Black "YelenaDembo"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2309"]
[BlackElo "2730"]
[TimeControl "1 in 3 days"]
[Termination "YelenaDembo won by resignation"]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Bc5 4.O-O Nf6 5.c3 O-O 6.d4 Bb6 7.Bg5 h6 8.Bh4 d6 9.Bxc6 bxc6 10.a4 a5 11.dxe5 dxe5 12.Nxe5 Qxd1 13.Rxd1 Nxe4 14.Nd2 Re8 15.Ndc4 Bc5 16.Nxc6 g5 17.Bg3 f5 18.Bxc7 Bxf2+ 19.Kh1 Bc5 20.h3 Nf2+ 21.Kh2 Nxd1 22.Rxd1 f4 23.N4xa5 Bf2 24.b4 Bf5 25.Rf1 Bg3+ 26.Kg1 Bd3 27.Ra1 Re2 28.Ne5 f3 29.Nxd3 Rxg2+ 30.Kf1 Bxc7 31.Nc6 Rh2 32.Kg1 Rf8 33.Rf1 Rxh3 34.Rf2 g4 35.Nd4 Bg3 36.Rd2 Bh4 37.a5 Bg5 38.Rf2 Be3 0-1

[Event "10th Chess.com Tournament (2201+) - Round 1"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2010.03.01"]
[White "YelenaDembo"]
[Black "saksipotku"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2723"]
[BlackElo "2371"]
[TimeControl "1 in 3 days"]
[Termination "YelenaDembo won by resignation"]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.d4 Nxe4 4.Bd3 d5 5.dxe5 Be7 6.O-O O-O 7.Nc3 Nxc3 8.bxc3 Nc6 9.Re1 f6 10.Rb1 fxe5 11.Nxe5 Nxe5 12.Rxe5 Bd6 13.Qh5 h6 14.Re1 Qf6 15.Qxd5+ Kh8 16.Be3 Qe5 17.Qxe5 Bxe5 18.Bc5 Bd6 19.Bxd6 cxd6 20.Re7 Rb8 21.h3 Rd8 22.Rb4 Bd7 23.Rd4 Bc6 24.Rg4 Rg8 25.Rg6 Rge8 26.Rc7 Rbc8 27.Rcxg7 Rg8 28.Rxg8+ Rxg8 29.Rxh6+ Kg7 30.Rxd6 Re8 31.f4 Re1+ 32.Kf2 Rd1 33.g4 Rh1 34.Rxc6 bxc6 35.Bf1 Rh2+ 36.Bg2 1-0

[Event "NaScp with Miss - Board 2"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2010.02.05"]
[White "YelenaDembo"]
[Black "kingkoy301"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2713"]
[BlackElo "2475"]
[TimeControl "1 in 3 days"]
[Termination "YelenaDembo won by resignation"]

1.e4 Nc6 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 d5 4.Nbd2 Nf6 5.e5 Nd7 6.Nb3 Be7 7.c3 O-O 8.Bd3 a5 9.Bf4 a4 10.Nbd2 f6 11.exf6 Nxf6 12.Qc2 Bd6 13.Bg3 Bxg3 14.hxg3 h6 15.O-O Ng4 16.Nh4 Ne7 17.Rae1 a3 18.b4 Qd6 19.Ndf3 b6 20.b5 c5 21.bxc6 Qxc6 22.Ne5 Nxe5 23.Rxe5 Ba6 24.Bxa6 Rxa6 25.Rfe1 Rf6 26.Nf3 b5 27.Rb1 Ra8 28.Qd3 Rc8 29.Rb3 Qc4 30.Qd1 Ra8 31.Qb1 Nc6 32.Nd2 Qa4 33.Re3 Raf8 34.Nf3 Qa8 35.Rxb5 Na5 36.g4 Nc4 37.g5 Rf5 38.Rxe6 Rxf3 39.gxf3 Nd2 40.Qg6 Qa4 41.Qd3 Nxf3+ 42.Kg2 Nxg5 43.Re5 Nf3 44.Re3 Nh4+ 45.Kh3 Ng6 46.Qb1 Nf4+ 47.Kh2 Qa8 48.Rb7 Qc8 49.Rbe7 Qc6 50.Qg1 Nh5 51.f3 Rf5 52.Re8+ Rf8 53.Rxf8+ Kxf8 54.Qb1 Qf6 55.Qb8+ 1-0

[Event "10th Chess.com Tournament (2201+) - Round 1"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2010.03.01"]
[White "YelenaDembo"]
[Black "olwann69"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2690"]
[BlackElo "2371"]
[TimeControl "1 in 3 days"]
[Termination "YelenaDembo won by resignation"]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.Nc3 g6 5.e5 Ng4 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.h3 Nh6 8.d3 Nf5 9.O-O Bg7 10.Ne4 b6 11.a3 a5 12.Re1 O-O 13.c3 Ra7 14.g4 Nh6 15.Qc2 f5 16.exf6 exf6 17.d4 f5 18.gxf5 Bxf5 19.dxc5 Bxh3 20.Nfg5 Bf5 21.cxb6 Re7 22.Bf4 Be5 23.Qb3+ Kg7 24.Rad1 Qe8 25.Bxe5+ Rxe5 26.f4 Re7 27.Qc4 Ng4 28.Re2 h6 29.Qd4+ Kg8 30.Nd6 Rxe2 31.Nxe8 Rfxe8 32.b7 hxg5 33.Qc4+ R2e6 34.Rd6 Kf7 35.Rxc6 gxf4 36.b8=Q 1-0

[Event "Burning European Pawns - Board 4"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2010.02.08"]
[White "YelenaDembo"]
[Black "Ambrosia"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2697"]
[BlackElo "2528"]
[TimeControl "1 in 3 days"]
[Termination "YelenaDembo won by resignation"]

1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.f4 Bg7 5.Nf3 O-O 6.Bd3 Na6 7.e5 Ng4 8.h3 Nh6 9.Be3 c5 10.Qe2 Nf5 11.Bxf5 Bxf5 12.O-O-O Rc8 13.g4 Bd7 14.Kb1 Re8 15.f5 Qa5 16.fxg6 hxg6 17.a3 cxd4 18.Bxd4 Be6 19.Rhe1 dxe5 20.Nxe5 Nb8 21.Qf2 Nc6 22.Nxc6 Rxc6 23.Bxg7 Kxg7 24.Ne2 Qb6 25.Qg3 Rd6 26.Nf4 Red8 27.Rxd6 Rxd6 28.h4 Qd4 29.Nxe6+ Rxe6 30.Rxe6 Qd1+ 31.Ka2 Qd5+ 32.Qb3 fxe6 33.Qxd5 exd5 34.Kb3 e5 35.c4 1-0

[Event "10th Chess.com Tournament (2201+) - Round 1"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2010.03.01"]
[White "yohomes"]
[Black "YelenaDembo"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2209"]
[BlackElo "2665"]
[TimeControl "1 in 3 days"]
[Termination "YelenaDembo won by resignation"]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.Qe2 Bc5 6.c3 b5 7.Bc2 O-O 8.Nxe5 Nxe5 9.d4 d5 10.O-O Bxd4 11.cxd4 Nc6 12.exd5 Qxd5 13.Nc3 Nxd4 14.Qd3 Qe5 15.f4 Qd6 16.Be3 Nxc2 17.Qxc2 Re8 18.Rad1 Qc6 19.Qf2 Ng4 20.Qf3 Qxf3 21.Rxf3 Bb7 22.Bd4 Bxf3 23.gxf3 Rad8 24.fxg4 b4 25.Be5 bxc3 26.Rxd8 Rxd8 27.Bxc3 Rd3 28.g5 h6 29.gxh6 gxh6 30.f5 Rf3 31.f6 Kh7 32.Kg2 Rf5 33.Kg3 Kg6 34.Kg4 Rxf6 35.Bxf6 Kxf6 0-1

[Event "Experience"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2008.04.27"]
[White "YelenaDembo"]
[Black "bronkov"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[WhiteElo "2482"]
[BlackElo "2355"]
[TimeControl "1 in 3 days"]
[Termination "Game drawn by agreement"]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Bc5 5.Be3 Qf6 6.c3 Nge7 7.Bc4 Ne5 8.Be2 Qg6 9.O-O d6 10.f4 Qxe4 11.Bf2 Bxd4 12.cxd4 N5g6 13.g3 Bh3 14.Bf3 Qf5 15.Re1 d5 16.Qb3 O-O 17.Nc3 Bg4 18.Bxd5 Nxd5 19.Qxd5 Qxd5 20.Nxd5 c6 21.Nc3 Rad8 22.d5 cxd5 23.Bc5 Rfe8 24.Rxe8+ Rxe8 25.Bxa7 Rd8 26.Bb6 Rd7 27.Nb5 Ne7 28.Rc1 Nc6 29.Rc2 f6 30.Rd2 g5 31.Kf2 Kg7 32.Bc5 Kg6 33.b3 Rd8 34.a4 Na5 35.Rb2 Nc6 36.b4 d4 37.a5 Rd5 38.Nxd4 Nxd4 39.Rd2 gxf4 40.Bxd4 1/2-1/2

[Event "Advanced 2"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2008.04.26"]
[White "YelenaDembo"]
[Black "MM78"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2496"]
[BlackElo "2238"]
[TimeControl "1 in 3 days"]
[Termination "YelenaDembo won by resignation"]

1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Be3 Bg7 5.Qd2 c6 6.Nf3 O-O 7.O-O-O b5 8.e5 dxe5 9.Nxe5 Be6 10.h4 Qa5 11.a3 b4 12.Nb1 c5 13.h5 Ne4 14.Qd3 cxd4 15.Qxe4 dxe3 16.Nc4 Qg5 17.Nxe3 bxa3 18.Nxa3 Nd7 19.hxg6 hxg6 20.Bc4 Nc5 21.Qh4 Qxh4 22.Rxh4 Rab8 23.c3 Bc8 24.Nd5 Re8 25.Bb5 Bd7 26.Bxd7 Nxd7 27.Kc2 Nb6 28.Rb4 Nxd5 29.Rxb8 Rxb8 30.Rxd5 Rb7 31.Rd8+ Kh7 32.b4 e6 33.Kb3 Bf6 34.Ra8 Bh4 35.g3 Bf6 36.c4 Bd4 37.f3 Bf2 38.g4 Rb6 39.Nb5 Be3 40.g5 a6 41.Nc7 Rd6 42.c5 Rd3+ 43.Kc4 1-0

[Event "Experience"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2008.03.23"]
[White "---Olivier---"]
[Black "YelenaDembo"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[WhiteElo "2228"]
[BlackElo "2459"]
[TimeControl "1 in 3 days"]
[Termination "Game drawn by agreement"]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 O-O 6.Be2 e5 7.d5 a5 8.O-O Na6 9.Bg5 h6 10.Bh4 Qe8 11.Ne1 Bd7 12.Nd3 b6 13.a3 a4 14.Qd2 Nh7 15.Rac1 Nc5 16.Nxc5 bxc5 17.Rb1 h5 18.b4 axb3 19.Rxb3 Bf6 20.Bxf6 Nxf6 21.Ra1 Rb8 22.Rxb8 Qxb8 23.f3 Qb6 24.Nb5 Bxb5 25.cxb5 c4+ 26.Kf1 Nxe4 27.fxe4 f5 28.exf5 Rxf5+ 29.Bf3 g5 30.Qc2 Rf6 31.Qxc4 g4 32.Qd3 Qc5 33.a4 Kg7 34.Ra2 gxf3 35.Rc2 Qa7 36.gxf3 Rg6 37.Qe4 Qg1+ 38.Ke2 Rg2+ 1/2-1/2

[Event "Let's Play!"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2008.04.04"]
[White "YelenaDembo"]
[Black "RichardHayden"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2450"]
[BlackElo "2266"]
[TimeControl "1 in 3 days"]
[Termination "YelenaDembo won by resignation"]

1.e4 e5 2.f4 {Thematic Game - This is the starting position.}
exf4 3.Nf3 Ne7 4.d4 d5 5.Bd3 dxe4 6.Bxe4 Ng6 7.Bxg6 hxg6 8.Bxf4 Nc6 9.Nc3 Bf5 10.O-O Be7 11.d5 Nb4 12.Nd4 O-O 13.Nxf5 gxf5 14.a3 Na6 15.Qd3 Qd7 16.Be5 Bc5+ 17.Kh1 f6 18.Bg3 g6 19.b4 Bd6 20.Bxd6 cxd6 21.g4 Nc7 22.gxf5 g5 23.Rf2 a5 24.Rg1 axb4 25.axb4 Ra3 26.h4 Rf7 27.hxg5 Rh7+ 28.Rh2 Rxh2+ 29.Kxh2 Qh7+ 30.Kg2 Qh4 31.gxf6 Kf7 32.Qe4 Qxf6 33.Ne2 Ra8 34.Rh1 Re8 35.Qf3 Rg8+ 36.Kf1 Qa1+ 37.Kf2 Qa7+ 38.Ke1 Qa1+ 39.Kd2 Qf6 40.Rh7+ Rg7 41.Qh5+ Kf8 42.Rh6 Qg5+ 43.Qxg5 Rxg5 44.Rxd6 Ke7 45.Rb6 1-0

[Event "Let's Play!"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2008.04.04"]
[White "YelenaDembo"]
[Black "______"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[WhiteElo "2463"]
[BlackElo "2216"]
[TimeControl "1 in 3 days"]
[Termination "Game drawn by agreement"]

1.e4 e5 2.f4 {Thematic Game - This is the starting position.}
exf4 3.Nf3 d5 4.exd5 Nf6 5.Bc4 Nxd5 6.O-O Be6 7.Qe2 Be7 8.d4 O-O 9.Nc3 Nxc3 10.bxc3 Bxc4 11.Qxc4 Bd6 12.Ne5 Bxe5 13.dxe5 Nc6 14.Bxf4 Qe7 15.Rab1 Rab8 16.Rf3 a6 17.h3 Nxe5 18.Re3 Nxc4 19.Rxe7 b5 20.Rxc7 Rbc8 21.a4 Rxc7 22.Bxc7 Rc8 23.axb5 Na3 24.Ra1 Nxb5 25.Bb6 Nxc3 26.Rxa6 h6 27.Ra5 Ne2+ 28.Kf2 Rxc2 29.Kf3 Kh7 30.Ra7 Kg6 31.Be3 Nc1 32.Ra3 f6 33.h4 Na2 34.Ra4 Rb2 35.Ra7 h5 36.g4 hxg4+ 37.Kxg4 Rb4+ 38.Kf3 Nc3 39.h5+ Kxh5 40.Rxg7 Nb5 41.Bd2 1/2-1/2

[Event "Advanced 2"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2008.03.30"]
[White "MM78"]
[Black "YelenaDembo"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[WhiteElo "2299"]
[BlackElo "2544"]
[TimeControl "1 in 3 days"]
[Termination "Game drawn by agreement"]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d3 Nc6 4.g3 g6 5.Bg2 Bg7 6.O-O Nge7 7.Re1 d6 8.Nbd2 O-O 9.c3 b5 10.Qc2 Rb8 11.Nf1 b4 12.Bd2 Qb6 13.Ne3 Ba6 14.Nc4 Bxc4 15.dxc4 Qa6 16.Rab1 Rb6 17.Red1 Rd8 18.Bf4 e5 19.Be3 Qxc4 20.Qa4 Qa6 21.Qxa6 Rxa6 22.Nd2 Rxa2 23.Nc4 Nc8 24.Bg5 N6e7 25.Bh3 h6 26.Bxe7 Nxe7 27.Nxd6 Nc6 28.Rd5 Bf8 29.Nc4 Rb8 30.Rc1 Be7 31.Kg2 bxc3 32.bxc3 Kg7 33.Bd7 Na5 34.Nxe5 Rbb2 35.Rf1 Bf6 36.Nd3 Rd2 37.Bb5 c4 38.Nb4 Rxd5 39.Nxd5 Rb2 40.Ba6 Rc2 41.Ra1 Bxc3 42.Nxc3 Nb3 43.Ra4 Rxc3 1/2-1/2

[Event "The Easter Tournament"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2008.03.21"]
[White "YelenaDembo"]
[Black "______"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2526"]
[BlackElo "2257"]
[TimeControl "1 in 3 days"]
[Termination "YelenaDembo won by resignation"]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Bc5 5.Be3 Qf6 6.c3 Nge7 7.Bc4 Ne5 8.Be2 Qg6 9.O-O d6 10.f4 Qxe4 11.Bf2 Bxd4 12.cxd4 N5g6 13.g3 O-O 14.Nc3 Qf5 15.h4 Re8 16.h5 Nf8 17.d5 h6 18.Re1 Qd7 19.Rc1 c6 20.Bc4 Qd8 21.b4 a5 22.dxc6 bxc6 23.b5 Be6 24.Bf1 cxb5 25.Nxb5 Rc8 26.Qd3 d5 27.Qa3 Rc6 28.Rxc6 Nxc6 29.Rc1 Bd7 30.Qd6 Re6 31.Qxd5 Nb4 32.Qd2 Qb8 33.Nd4 Rd6 34.Qb2 Qd8 35.a3 Nd5 36.Nf3 Nf6 37.Bc5 Rd5 38.Ne5 Be8 39.Bb6 Qd6 40.Bf2 Rd1 41.Nc4 Qd7 42.Rxd1 Qxd1 43.Qe2 Qd5 44.Qe5 Qd1 45.Qxa5 Bd7 46.Ne3 Qc1 47.Qb4 Qa1 48.Qb3 Be6 49.Qd3 Qc1 50.a4 Qa1 51.Qd1 Qa2 52.Bd3 Bb3 53.Bc2 Ne4 54.Qd3 Bxc2 55.Qxc2 Qa1+ 56.Kg2 Nf6 57.Nf5 Ne6 58.Qb3 Nxh5 59.Ne7+ Kh7 60.Qc2+ g6 61.f5 1-0

[Event "Advanced 2"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2008.03.30"]
[White "YelenaDembo"]
[Black "knorke"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2463"]
[BlackElo "2198"]
[TimeControl "1 in 3 days"]
[Termination "YelenaDembo won by resignation"]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.d4 Nxe4 4.Bd3 d5 5.dxe5 Nc6 6.O-O Bg4 7.Nc3 Nxc3 8.bxc3 Bc5 9.Re1 O-O 10.h3 Bh5 11.Rb1 b6 12.Bf4 h6 13.g4 Bg6 14.Bxg6 fxg6 15.Bg3 Na5 16.Qd3 g5 17.e6 Qf6 18.Kg2 c6 19.Ne5 Qxe6 20.Ng6 Qf7 21.Nxf8 Rxf8 22.Re5 Nc4 23.Rf5 Qe7 24.Rxf8+ Kxf8 25.Kf1 Qf6 26.Re1 Kf7 27.Qe2 Qe7 28.Qf3+ Qf6 29.Qxf6+ gxf6 30.Ke2 f5 31.gxf5 Kf6 32.Kd1 Kxf5 33.Re8 h5 34.Rc8 Na3 35.Ke2 Nb5 36.Kd3 d4 37.c4 Nc3 38.Rxc6 Nxa2 39.Rh6 h4 40.Bb8 Nc3 41.Bxa7 Ne4 42.Ke2 Nc3+ 43.Kf3 Na4 44.Rc6 Nb2 45.Bxb6 Bxb6 46.Rxb6 Nxc4 47.Rb4 Ne5+ 48.Ke2 Ke4 49.Rb6 Kf5 50.Ra6 Ng6 51.Ra8 Nf4+ 52.Kf3 Ng6 53.Rd8 Ne5+ 54.Ke2 Ke4 55.Re8 Kf5 56.Rf8+ Ke6 57.f4 Ng6 58.f5+ Ke7 59.Ra8 Ne5 60.Ra6 1-0

[Event "Experience"]
[Site "Chess.com"]
[Date "2008.03.23"]
[White "bronkov"]
[Black "YelenaDembo"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[WhiteElo "2189"]
[BlackElo "2487"]
[TimeControl "1 in 3 days"]
[Termination "Game drawn by agreement"]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nb5 d6 6.c4 Nf6 7.N1c3 a6 8.Nd4 Be7 9.Be2 O-O 10.O-O Bd7 11.Be3 Nxd4 12.Qxd4 Bc6 13.f4 Nd7 14.Qd2 Nc5 15.Bf3 Qc7 16.b4 Na4 17.Nxa4 Bxa4 18.Rac1 Rac8 19.Bd4 e5 20.Be3 exf4 21.Bxf4 Rcd8 22.Be3 Bf6 23.Bd1 Bxd1 24.Qxd1 Qe7 25.Re1 Rfe8 26.Bf2 Qc7 27.a4 Re6 28.a5 Rde8 29.Qd3 Be5 30.Rc2 Rh6 31.h3 Rg6 32.Rf1 Qd7 33.Be1 h6 34.Rcf2 Qc6 35.Rf5 Rc8 36.c5 Rc7 37.Qd5 Qe8 38.Bf2 Re6 39.Qd3 g6 40.Rf3 dxc5 41.Bxc5 Rd7 42.Qc4 Bc7 43.Re1 Rc6 44.Ree3 Bd6 45.Rd3 Qe7 46.Rd5 Bxc5+ 47.Rxc5 Rd1+ 48.Kf2 Rxc5 49.bxc5 Ra1 50.c6 bxc6 51.Qxc6 Rxa5 52.Qf6 Ra2+ 53.Kg3 Qxf6 54.Rxf6 a5 55.Ra6 a4 56.e5 a3 57.Ra8+ Kg7 58.Kf3 Ra1 59.Kg3 h5 60.Ra7 Kf8 61.Kf4 Ke8 62.Kg5 a2 63.Ra6 Ke7 64.Kh6 Kd7 65.Rd6+ Ke8 66.Ra6 Ke7 67.Kg5 Kd7 68.Rd6+ Kc7 69.Rd2 Kc6 70.Rf2 Kd5 71.Kf6 g5 72.Kxg5 Kxe5 73.Kxh5 f5 74.Kg5 Ke4 75.h4 Ke3 76.Rf3+ Ke2 77.Ra3 1/2-1/2

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Chess Discount Sales Open Till End Of Year

I'm sure by now, many of you would have heard of Peter Parr's closing of his shop Chess Discount Sales in Sydney.

Peter is retiring at the end of this year. The lease on his shop was due to expire last year but Peter got a year's extension but refused to sign on for another 3 years lease.

Peter was hoping to sell off his business but if he is unable to find a buyer, he will sell whatever's left in his shop online towards the end of the year.

I went down to the shop last Saturday to get some chess material with a friend and my brother-in-law and noticed that popular items have already been sold so if you want to pick up something nice, now is the best time to get it.

Btw, should you need to pay a visit, there's a bit of renovation going on at the front of his shop and instead of entering via the usual flight of steps downstairs at the front of his shop, you need to enter via the main building doorway instead.

I wish Peter the very best of luck in his future endeavours.

Friday, September 17, 2010

BBC Documentary: Seeking The Endgame Part 2


The second and final part of this 2 part documentary is now available online at the BBC World Service.

Alternatively, you can download the entire documentary in the form on a MP3 file straight from their website.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hiarcs 13 v Rybka 4 Opening Books War

The general chess public swooned when Jiri Dufek's Rybka 4 Opening Book (see image on right) hit the market (yes, the very same opening book that Topalov reportedly paid for and used for his World Chess Championship match against Anand earlier this year in Sofia).

But now, a new threat looms over the horizon in the form of the latest update to the Hiarcs opening book - Hiarcs 13c.

A few reports are now trickling in that this updated opening book is beating Rybka4 because Rybka is choosing less than stellar opening lines.

How does that affect me, you may ask?

Well, for the majority of players (those < 2,000 Elo rating), it probably does not matter. However for players above this rating level, things start to get hot under the collar.

Games can be won or loss straight out of the opening (as Anand can testify in Game 1 of the Topalov-Anand WCC match) and every advantage you have, you will use.

One of the main advantages of the Hiarc Opening Book is that it is constantly being revised and improved upon. When you purchase the Hiarcs opening book, you get a year's subscription which promises at least 4 periodic updates.

Sadly Chessbase/ChessOk's offering of Jiri Dufek's Rybka 4's opening book does not have such a feature.

As a chess engine, Hiarcs adopts a slightly different approach to Rybka. In the words of the programmer, Hiarcs tends to think positionally rather than analytically. As anyone who has used Hiarcs knows, Hiarcs tends to think in a more natural human-like way when finding evaluations.

Sadly, Hiarcs 13 was not sold and released as a Chessbase product as was Hiarcs 12 but that does not equate to mean that it is in anyway an inferior product to Rybka 4.

Both chess engines are inhumanely strong.

PS: I don't work for Hiarcs btw and am in now way affiliated to them.

Monday, September 13, 2010

BBC Documentary: Seeking The Endgame


I'm sure some of you may have seen the Chessbase article on the recent BBC documentary: Seeking the Endgame.

For those who prefer to download and listen to it on their iPod/MP3 player devices, you can obtain the complete mp3 file from here:

Seeking The Endgame Part 1 (MP3)

Duration: 23 mins

Amongst the list of those interviewed is our very own Australian GM Ian Rogers.

The Ford Memorial Catchup

Apologies for the lack of updates.

The Ford Memorial at Norths has gone underway. Due to some circumstances, I was unable to take part this year.

The greatest shock of the tournament so far was FM Greg Canfell (2315) drawing against Benjamin Cheung (1729). A superb result for young Benjamin.

The young guns are doing very well in this tournament after 3 games played.

Jack Ruan, Oscar Wang and Anton Smirnov are on 3 points each with Benjamin half a point behind followed by Vincent Cheng and Harry Ruan on 2 points each.

My brother-in-law Steven is currently on 2.5 points.

I cannot help but notice that the number of participants for this year's Ford has dropped. Last year, we had 89 participants but this year, it had fallen to around 79 - a fall of 10%.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Chess Discount Sales Closing?

http://www.chessdiscountsales.com/whatsnew/2010/Sep/sep10.htm

"Closing Down Sale

30% off all products

Some items up to 90% off

Limited stocks"


I'm very surprised that Peter is closing down his Chess Discount Sales shop in the city and I do hope it's a misprint.

I've purchased items from Peter before and it's very sad that the only chess shop in the city is shutting down if this is indeed true. Other bookstores and gameshops don't stock the same wealth of chess related materials as his shop.

Peter has always been very generous and helpful towards the local chess community and has also been a faithful local sponsor for many important local and national chess tournaments like the Australian Open.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

"Show Me.... Wax On, Wax Off"


In the original Karate Kid movie, teen Daniel was hoping to learn Karate from Mr Miyagi but ended up doing all sorts of chores from waxing his car, to sanding his floor and painting his house.

In the movie's iconic moment, when Daniel finally gets fed up with the chores and threatens to leave, Mr Miyagi finally reveals what he was hoping to teach Daniel. Daniel was in fact, learning a very important fundamental skill in Karate - the art of self-defense. You cannot be good at Karate if you only learn about attacking. You must learn how to defend properly.

The same is true in chess.

By learning how to defend, you not only become more aware of your opponent's attacking possibilities, tricks and plans but you acquire the necessary knowledge of how to launch a successful attack. This skill is vitally important if you want to know if a particular attack is good especially when it involves a piece sacrifice.

As an example, in the position below:

Can White play the sacrificial attack 1. Qxf6+?


Another part of the game where defensive technique is vitally important is your endgame skill.

For example, do you know how to defend as Black in a K+R v K+R+P endgame as the one below? Is the position even savable?

Can Black save this position?


Or how to defend with the utmost precision in a K+R v K+Q endgame?


Do you know to win this position as White?
If you're Black, do you know how to give the most problem to White?

It is only by incorporating these techniques into our knowledge which forms a basis from where we can then build bigger memory blocks and know if a particular attack or a particular position can be defended.

That will ultimately, make you a better player.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Legacy Of Mikhail Moiseyevich Botvinnik

We have all heard of Mikhail Moiseyevich Botvinnik - the Great Patriarch of Soviet chess and the 6th World Chess Champion.

I can't help but notice that quite a number of players express disapproval of both Botvinnik as a person and also of his approach to chess and to others, Botvinnik was the epitome of everything that was bad about Soviet chess. Some people have even accused him of being a lame World Champion and that he only kept the title for so long is because of the automatic right of a return match for a World Champion.

As anyone who has picked up any of his books, from his well known One Hundred Selected Games to his annotations of the World Championship games (published by Olms and New In Chess), his notes are often very brutal. Botvinnik spares no one, not even himself. And it is this attitude which seems to have turned a lot of players off him.

So what you may ask, is so great about Mikhail Botvinnik?

Despite the criticisms, what we know about modern chess and how we approach chess is largely due to Mikhail Botvinnik's influence and contribution. He paved the way to modern chess. He made important discoveries to opening theory (eg. the Botvinnik Variation of the Semi-Slav still holds up today in the face of computer engines).

Botvinnik was fearless to a fault. He would never back down from tactical complications when the position demanded it but it is his middlegame prowess that are the most impressive.

He helped established what is now the following rules that continues to stand up today to anyone who wants to improve their chess.

#1. Annotate Your Own Games
There's an interesting blurb about this. When asked about Kasparov who was a promising teen at the time, Botvinnik's first question was,"Do you annotate your own games?" As anyone who has annotated their own games (using computer engines like Fritz/Rybka doesn't count), it is not an easy subject and oft a laborious task.

#2. Maintain Objectivity
Botvinnik was pedantic to the fault in this and was his own worst critic. One must cast aside personal bias when it comes to ealuation of any given chess position. You must be impartial and must part with your pride and bias. These days, with the advent of computer engines, spotting tactical mistakes is as easy as flicking off a switch with strong engines like Rybka and Fritz.

#3. A Healthy Body, A Healthy Mind
Botvinnik understood the importance of being and staying healthy. Increasing your body's physical condition means that your body is operating optimally at all times. That means your stamina and endurance improves (vital for tournaments) and your mind becomes more focused on the task at hand. After the 1951 match with Bronstein, Botvinnik realised that his 3 years of absence in chess almost cost him dearly and he started putting himself into shape by exercising regularly, and focusing more on chess.

#4. Study Of Annotated Games By Strong Masters
These days, there's no getting around this. If you want to improve, you have to read through annotated games, not to only to understand how to play the game accurately but to understand the concepts, plans and strategies. For example, Kasparov was made to study Alekhine's games because his approach to chess was similar to Alekhine's.

#5. Thorough Opening Preparation
Botvinnik's opening preparation involved thorough analysis and a deep understanding of the resulting position all the way up till the middlegame. Such a scientific approach to chess was unheard of in the pre-Botvinnik era. Any new or valuable information of interest will be noted down and analysed. These days, all chess players (even beginners) need to develop a basic opening repertoire, and more advanced players typically would try to have a repertoire that that would lead to rich middlegame play.

I think the greatest compliment that I can say is taken from 9th World Chess champion Tigran Petrosian,"We all regard ourselves as pupils of Botvinnik and subsequent generations will learn from his games."

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Chess Informant Website Hacked And The Kavalek-Short Affair

Warning: The Chess Informant website (http://www.sahovski.com) has been compromised. Their sale items including the latest CI 107 and ECO A, 4th Edition (if you follow the links from their main webpage) shows that the website has been hacked.


This only adds to the woes for Chess Informant considering that their Editor in Chief Zdenko Krnić was recently killed in a hit and run accident. I would urge caution on potential buyers from purchasing straight from their website for now. :(

Onto other news, Nigel Short has commented on Kavalek's piece in the Huffington Post (as reported by Chessbase). Kavalek has some serious axe to grind as can be seen in his older 1994 post on the Sentinel.

Short on his part has responded to his allegations and novelty as " It is the sort of move any decent player would find in his sleep." on Chessgames.com

Short also responded of Kavalek,"My objections to the "Kavalek Files" were and are manifold but the fundamental point is the highly unethical betrayal of trust by a man who was employed to help me, and to whom I paid a very large sum of money. What was the purpose of him publishing this series of revelatory articles? a) to puff up Kavalek's own importance b) to damage me professionally by revealing as many of my novelties as possible. As far as I am concerned, his spiteful actions are beneath contempt..."