Monday, April 30, 2007

A Game Won, and "Real Life" Goes On

I said blogging would be light in my previous post, but didn't think a whole week would go by...anyway, a lot of renovation has been going on at mi casa and that made it difficult to get to the computer for much of the time.

Meanwhile, I did manage to win a game in the Reno CC Championship qualifier, against Mauricio Amaya, who is the lowest rated player in my section but is showing steady improvement, including second place in the class D sectional earlier this year.

This time I opened 1. e4 and he played the Cozio Defense to the Ruy Lopez, which is very difficult to handle. I won a pawn with a superior position early and steadily ground out the win, picking off a couple more pawns before he resigned around move 38. So that leaves my fate in my own hands in the qualifier; all I have to do is defeat the 2005 club champion and a 1900 player in the last two games. I'll give it my best.

I have the bye this week, then will be on vacation from May 6-10, but I do have some articles and essays in the works that aren't about me. After all, "Me, me, me is dull, dull, dull!" as some very perceptive person once said.

You won't have to wait another week for it, either.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Pearson-Bennet Game Score

I'm not sure why I'm having trouble getting this game into viewable form but for the moment, and the record, here is the score of my game referred to in the post below. I'll get it in a viewer and append some comments sometime, but right now there's a lot going on in "real life," and blogging is going to be light for awhile.

Pearson-Bennett, Reno CC Ch. Qualifier, Rd. 1, 04/19/07

1. d4 d5 2. c4 Nf6 3. cxd5 g6 4. Nc3 Nxd5 5. Nf3 Bg7 6. e4 Nxc3 7. bxc3 0-0 8. h3 c5 9. Be3 Nc6 10. Be2 cxd4 11. cxd4 a6 12. 0-0 b5 13. Qd2 Re8 14. Rfc1 Bb7 15. Rab1 e6 16. a4 b4 17. d5 exd5 18. exd5 Bc3 19. Qd3 Na5 20. Rxc3 bxc3 21. Qxc3 Rc8 22. Qb2 Rxe3 23. fxe3 Qxd5 24. Rd1 Qe4 25. Qf6 Qxe3+ 26. Kf1 Re8 27. Re1 Nb3 28. Qb2 Bxf3 29. gxf3 Nd2+ 30. Kg2 Nxf3 31. Qf6 Nxe1+ 32. Kh2 Qxe2+ 0-1

Friday, April 20, 2007

Pearson-Bob Bennett, Rd. 1: 0-1, or How I Got Taken To the Cleaners

Back in tournament play last night, and I'll do my by-now usual routine of impressions today, game posting with comments tomorrow or as soon as I can get to it...

Mr. Robert J. Bennett played very good chess and defeated me last night in the first round of the Reno CC Ch. qualifier.

He may not have played the best opening (1. d4 d5 2. c4 Nf6 3. cd g6 4. Nc3 Nxd5) but in the Gruenfeld-type position which followed he played all the right strategic themes to keep my big center in check and his disadvantage to a minimum. Then I got pushy, instead of just keeping things stable until an opportunity arose naturally, agonized over a promising but unclear Exchange sacrifice and didn't play it, then played it the next move a tempo down compared to the original version...and just when I was going to get a promising attack on his King he sacrificed back the Exchange, ended up a Pawn to the good with a very active position and polished me off with good moves.

He played very well and deserved to win, and that's the bottom line. And sometimes, there's not much more to say than that about a game of chess!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Reno Club Championship Qualifier

My next serious chess, the Reno CC Championship qualifier begins tomorrow night, and the format is different than last year, and presents an opportunity to reflect on "tournament strategy."

Back in the good old days of the Interzonals, players had to consider this sort of thing all the time--while a Robert Fischer simply gave every ounce of energy and effort to win each and every game, most of the players were calculating if "+3" (say, 9 of 15 points in a 16-player round robin) would likely make it into the top 5 or whatever number would move them into the Candidates round. Then they'd try to draw against the top-rated guys and beat the bottom few in order to get in. Not very inspiring, but "professional."

Last year in the Reno qualifiers the top 12 rated players were put into two roughly equal (by rating) groups of six, with the top three from each group advancing to the matchplay phase. Meanwhile, the other eight or nine players (basically, under 1600) played a Swiss, with the winner qualifying to play the reigning club champion.

This year, with exactly 20 entrants, it was decided to have four groups of five, roughly equal in average rating, with the top two in each group to qualify. So I find myself in the middle of my pack, with a 1970 and a 1900, me (1608) and a 1430 and 1250.

It's obvious on rating that the top two ought to qualify, but mathematically if I were able to defeat the guys below me in rating, and get one point in my two games with the +1900 set, I'd be assured of no worse than a tie for second. One could calculate various scenarios...

Oh, to hell with that. I'm going to do it Fischer-style--I'm not taking the guys below me for granted, and I'm not going to play the top two any differently, or more carefully. I'm going to play my best chess consistently through each and every game to the best of my ability, regardless of the opponent or his rating.

That felt good. Look out world, here I come!

Far West Open Report, and an Invitation

I wasn't able to play in the Far West Open here in Reno a couple of weeks ago, though I'm absolutely, unequivocally going to play in the 25th annual Western States Open at the same venue this October. Michael Aigner has a nice report on the March event over at the USCF website. I liked this part:

The Weikel family organizes these two annual events with the support and sponsorship of the Sands Regency hotel. Their goal is to create a chess festival atmosphere more commonly found in Europe. They provide boards and sets and players in the Open section can be identified by both a nameplate and the flag of their state or country. GM Larry Evans gave two free lectures to participants in the main tournament and GM Sergey Kudrin played a simul with game analysis afterwards. The main tournament is played at a leisurely 7-hour time control. Perhaps most importantly, staying at the Sands did not tax the player’s checkbook as the room rate ranged from $27 on weeknights and $54 on the weekend.

So I want to invite everyone to come and play at the Western States this October. Right now the page doesn't seem to be working, but as soon as I have something I'll post a link and we can start making plans for some kind of chess blogger's convention there!

Let me know if you're interested.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Blogging Additions

Secrets of Grandpatzer Chess:

I have been studying chess seriously since 1993, when I was in my early 20s. I am currently a C-class player (USCF) that hopes to become a B-class player before senility sets in (...)

who provides plenty of chess food for thought, for example a series of articles on Openings for Improving Players.


chess improvement:

Born in New Jersey and educated in New York, after practicing architecture, I lived in a zen temple in Korea, did a long stint on Wall Street as a Senior Broker, studied with a guru who lived with Maharishi in India, and now work at a big box retailer. I try to be pretty straightforward in my conduct.

Intriguing, no? His blog isn't easy to categorize--just read and enjoy!

(h/t on Grandpatzer to Blue Devil Knight)

Monday, April 16, 2007

The King of Chess Comedy

A few days ago I linked to a new blogger, chessloser, with the remark that "Chess is supposed to be fun, right?"

Well, chessloser is rapidly rising to the top of the chess blogosphere in terms of laugh value per post! Here are a few recent samples:

i'm just like tal, only i lose:

the only difference, really, between him and me is, he knew what he was doing, he calculated and analized and had a plan, and he won the majority of his games, where as i have the wreckless sacrificing down pat, the bravado, but i don’t back any of it up with sound play or a halfway decent plan, i often fail to see the consequences of my moves, and then i lose miserably. but, every once in a while, i catch someone on a bad day, and it works out for me, like in this game here.


in move 10, i take that damned horse, because he pisses me off, and i want to attack the castle but he gets in the way, so i am a bishop down but in my bizarro world, i now have the advantage...

Also, the hottest chess photo ever (don't worry, not pornographic), is available at the bottom of the post.

holy freakin' crap:

the second game, when i was white, i had sacrificed my pieces like some crazy aztec high priest trying to appease the gods, i was down to a queen and a rook, he had a queen, a rook, and both horses. i did have more pawns, so if i made it to an endgame, i’d be in good shape. i made a final sac of my rook, which he took with his horse, which i wanted. the horse was guarding a square i needed, and he didn’t even know it. that square let me skewer his king and take his queen. all i had was a queen, he had both horses and a rook, and from there, it was a series of forks as i took out piece by piece, like a sniper.

WARNING: If an occasional obscenity or profanity offends you, don't go over there. If Don Imus offends you, don't go over there. Otherwise, for a unique chess blog experience, DO go over there.

Friday, April 13, 2007

When a Beginner is Not a Beginner

I posted on one earlier occasion about the deep-thinking philosophical/political blog Eternity Road and how I was pleasantly surprised one day to see a chess game score and diagram posted there.

Now things have become even more interesting, as Fran Porretto has posted four more games, not played by himself but by...well let him explain:

Every now and then, an acquaintance will ask your Curmudgeon for chess instruction, and he's always happy to comply. Most recently, your Curmudgeon undertook to lead Fetiche (WARNING--LINK CONTAINS ADULT CONTENT) a bit deeper into the mysteries of the game, and she's proved both apt and enthusiastic about it.

One cannot know beforehand what sort of overall attitude a new player will bring to the game. Fetiche, a gorgeously petite and delicate young woman, has exhibited a killer instinct that a professional boxer would envy. Here's a delightful example:

(See the four games here)

Also, there's this comment:

When she sent this game to your Curmudgeon for his perusal, he was puzzled. White's earlier play made him look like a fairly good player. How, he asked, did Fetiche manage to net him so neatly?

"It was easy," she said. "I started flirting with him and talking about sex."

Internet players, BEWARE if you see this FeticheNouvell handle looking for a game--and forget about the sex talk; I would estimate it took me at least two years to become as good as she is after five months...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

My Chess Hero

Ever since I started exploring chess literature I've been an admirer of Dr. Tarrasch (seated r., playing Schlechter in 1911). He, after all, is the one who wrote that "Chess, like love, like music, has the power to make men happy."

He was probably the strongest player in the world from the late 1880s through the early '90s, winning a string of tournaments with logical, forceful chess.

I found the image at Roger Paige's site. The caption says the game was played in 1911, which is also the year Tarrasch and Schlechter played a match, but I'm wondering if this was an offhand game or staged photo. Not only are no score sheets visible, but the position doesn't seem to exactly match any of the games, either. has Tarrasch and Schlechter playing each other 42 times between 1894 and 1918, with Tarrasch scoring 8-6 with 28 draws.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Reno Chess Club Class Champions

And now, some acknowledgment for my fellow competitors at the Reno Chess Club--or the class champs, anyway. As readers of this little blog know, Steve Kesti defeated me 4-2 in a match for the Class B Championship; the other sections were thankfully populated by more than two players, and there was a curious symmetry to the results:

In the Expert section Bill Case was only on 1/3 after the first half of a four-man double round robin, but scored 3/3 in the second half to tie for the lead and then won the playoff 2-0 at G/75 with Terry Alsasua, reigning club champion, to take the title.

In Class A George Fischer took the same course: 1/3 in the first half, then 3/3 and a 2-0 playoff win against reigning A champ David Peterson.

Class C saw Hadi Soltani crush the field with 5/5--you're a C-player no more, Hadi!

And in D/E George Smith whitewashed the rest at 4/4, so George is now well into Class C.

Congratulations to the winners, and to everyone who participated. And now, on to the Club Championship Qualifying Tournament!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Look Ma, I'm a Video Star!

Okay, I'm not a star but Game 5 of my match with Steve Kesti for the Reno CC Class B. Ch. (see here) has been video annotated by the excellent Josh Specht at What a fine job he's done with it--it was one of my more interesting games, and he points out a lot of improvements. I'm proud of the original Exchange sacrifice concept, but the execution was pretty spotty!

I'm enjoying and learning a lot from the videos over there--it seems to be a medium that resonates with my learning style.

Anyway, here's the direct link to the video on my game, but I recommend you watch them all when you have a chance, and join the site and comment as well.

Even More Good Links

chessloser--chess is supposed to be fun right? This guy understands. Even if he never uses CAPS I still like 'im!

Caught in the Fire--posted about him the other day, now added to links list.

Ward Farnsworth's Predator at the Chessboard--Caught in the Fire pointed him out today. Training, tactics and quizzes. Free! Remember, information wants to be free!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

An Essay on "Style," or Various Methods to Win a Game of Chess

I don't think there as many comments in today's literature about chess "style" when discussing individual players as there used to be. World Champion and prolific author Max Euwe wrote a book about The Development of Chess Style that took a "ontogeny replicates phylogeny" approach--that is, the beginner mostly makes threats , like the players of earlier times, and if the threat is missed they win something. Gradually, the player gets more sophisticated ideas like Morphy (development without definite threats), Steinitz (defense, the two Bishops), etc. as he "grows up" in his chess knowledge and ability.

I think Euwe's approach had some merit, but I don't think that "style" was quite the right word in this context. I think a player becomes stronger the more possible ways he has of looking at a position. The more types of plan he can envision for both himself and the opponent, the more flexible he will be in his approach. Anyone who has studied the games and careers of the greats like Morphy, Lasker, Capablanca, Alekhine and so on, up through Kasparov, Kramnik and the other top players of today realizes that they all have the common factor of usually trying to play as the position demands, whether it's an attack on the King, winning material and defending for awhile, sacrificing material to gain other advantages, etc. All really strong players are, more or less, universal players.

Even so, we all recognize that it's the individual differences that make chess and chess players interesting. Somewhere I read a Grandmaster say that in a 40-move game, any GM would play 36 of the moves the same, because they're demonstrably the best moves; it's the other 10 percent that illustrate what one might call the player's "style."

"There are two kinds of people in the world; those who think there are two kinds of people in the world, and those who don't."

I was thinking about all this and it occurred to me that there might be a useful distinction between two types of chess players, albeit that it only matters when one has become a fairly strong player and gained some of the "universality" that all strong players possess. A lot of writers have tried to distinguish between "attacking" players (say, Tal) and "positional" players (say, Petrosian); but my distinction is between the "pressurizers" and the "opportunists."

A pressurizer is a player who, with either color, tries to put pressure on the opponent right in the opening. Prime examples among the World Champions would include Alekhine, Fischer and Kasparov. These players were always among the great innovators in the openings during their active careers and generally played the openings in a way that challenged the opponent early to play sharply and well or suffer some disadvantage or pressure. Fischer's use of the King's Indian and Sicilian Defenses throughout his career is an especially clear example of this approach. After the opening, depending on what happened, Fischer was willing to play any type of game according to the circumstances, which was one of the reasons for his success.

An opportunist tries to play solidly and well in the opening, including not usually playing the sharpest variations as White. Instead, this type of player wants to avoid disadvantage and wait for the opponent to make a mistake. Taking advantage of errors by the opponent is of course the essence of winning chess, but the opportunist takes less risk and forces fewer errors, in return getting into sticky situations less often. Examples would be Capablanca, Petrosian and the grandaddy of all opportunists, Ulf Andersson.

I don't think these distinctions are as clear today; with the rise of the computer-assisted full-time pro, all of the top 10 or 20 has had to have an element of "pressurizer" in their openings to stay alive among the elite.

At the club level I see these distinctions as still being much more valid and useful. At my club, for instance, there are some A-players and Experts who almost always answer 1. d4 Nf6 with 2. Nf3, avoiding all kinds of things that might turn the game into an early slug fest and just trying to keep White's normal edge until an opportunity comes along. On the other hand, 1. e4 players have a bit of a harder time doing this--most opportunists use this first move sparingly.

There are a number of approaches to trying to win a game of chess, and this is just one way of looking at it. Do any readers have thoughts on an alternative method?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Caught in the Fire

Caught in the Fire is another good blog with quite a lot of chess content and plenty of other interesting things--the blogger says he's an Objectivist, a philosophy I've studied a great deal, and also through this blog I learned about GTD (Get Things Done), a system of achievement in work and life that I'd never seen before, despite reading and searching out success and achievement resources for the last 30 years!

There's always something new to learn, in life and in chess!

(h/t Blue Devil Knight)

Monday, April 02, 2007

More Great Chess Links video on the Web seems to be taking off, with a number of bloggers starting to do their own; I posted about Patrick's at Chess For Blood awhile back. Now there is, where you can enjoy their instructive pieces and post your own, all for free. Thanks very much to Josh Specht for doing the work!

Also new to the links list, Ryan Emmett's SonOfPearl's Chess Blog. Kind of eclectic, and a lot of fun--hopefully that also describes this blog.


By the way, if you stop by and I don't have your chess-related blog on the sidebar, leave a comment and I'll look into adding it (must be about chess, have some semblance of rational thought :)