26 November, 2013

Tactic from Tal, Montreal 1979

My mind was blocked on this puzzle, although it is quite straightforward.

White to play and gain a piece...yes, it is that simple, so why it took me a few minutes to solve it, I can only wonder !  

Finding out that this was actually from a game played by Tal against Larsen in Montreal 1979, made me look up the whole thing.  

Well worth the meagre effort to find it.

I would assume that Tal saw the whole combination from here, at move 16/17

...all the way to the end.  

Play through and enjoy it.

21 November, 2013

Best Move ?

From a recent 5/0 blitz game...

The previous few moves have seen manoeuvring around control of the e8 square ( threat of Rook exchanges leading to mate ), but Black now has an escape square and has switched to counter-attack.

25... Rb8-b2  threatens to level material by capturing the pawn. White replies 26. R6e2 giving the following position.

What should Black play ?  Not complicated, but, in my opinion, instructive.

Spoiler/Solution (highlight between the brackets)  [ In the game, Black  played 26...Rxa2, no doubt expecting 27. Rxd2 Rxa4, and re-gaining the pawn, However, the simple 27. Qxa2 gives White a winning advantage. So, best move ? 26...Qxe2, the Black Queen is exchanged for two Rooks , and Black still has a decent game  ]

18 November, 2013

Team League : T56 Openings

Although both T57 and T58  have finished, and T59 about to start, I still didn't catch up with T56 summary and games, and in fact haven't blogged since August.

I played all rounds and ended up with a score of 3,5/6, with 3 wins, a draw and 2 losses : more-or-less as expected.

As White, I played a consistent 1.e4 and faced a Caro-Kann  ( loss ), a Sicilian ( win ) and Alekhine's Defence ( win ).

As Black I played the Hanham Philidor twice ( one win, one draw ) and lost against a Réti Opening, one of the few times I have met 1.Nf3 in TL.

All fairly consistent with main TL openings, as e4 is still the most played, and the Sicilian, French, and Caro-Kann the top replies.

Below is a brief summary of opening play in T56.

For all rounds/games, see here for round 1, and follow through for the remaining rounds.

T56 Openings Top 10

B20-B99 Sicilian  178 (15%)
C00-C19 French Defence  112  ( 9%)
B10-B19 Caro-Kann       88 ( 7% )  
A10-A39 English     80 (6,5 % )
D30-D69 Queen's Gambit Declined 77 ( 6 % )
D00-D05 Queen's Pawn General (London\Colle\etc 73 ( 6 %)
A45-A50 Indian Defences\Torre Attack 60  (5%)
A04-A09 Reti   56 ( 4.5 %)
D10-D19 Slav Defence 44 (3.5%)
C60-C99 Spanish Game ( Ruy Lopez )    43 ( 3.5 % )

For those interested, all games were re-indexed in Chess Assistant 11,. The Opening classification ranges ( ie to group ECO codes), I borrowed from Chessville (many thanks, although it seems to have dis-appeared again :(

See also T55 Summary, T51 Summary,  T50 Summary and T47 Summary.

02 August, 2013

European Women's Individual Championship : Round 9

Well, no change at the top, although Hungary's  Hoang Thanh Trang is now the sole leader with 7,5 points, half a point ahead of the chasing pack  : Alexandra Kosteniuk ,Viktorija Cmilyte, Monika Socko, Natalija Pogonina and  Anna Muzychuk .

However, just behind them with 6,5 is Lisa Schut.

In Round 8 she played a marathon game ( 137 moves, and more than 5 hours ) as Black against WGM Aleksandra Goryachkina.

In a Grunfeld Defence it seemed a very close game until a slip gave her the advantage...

...since after Kd2, Black wins a pawn with Ra2.

30 July, 2013

European Women's Individual Championship : half-time

Seven rounds played so far in this tournament and quite a few upsets seen along the way.

In joint first at the moment are Thanh Trang Hoang and Valentina Gunina ( of Hungary and Russia  respectively ) who have 6 points apiece.

The next 20 players are separated by only 1 point and include 9 of the top 10 initial seeds, so I guess that means that we are probably in for an interesting finish.

Top seed Anna Muzychuk didn't have a fast start, but she hasn't lost a game yet, and with 5,5 points is sitting in the peleton waiting for her chance

Similarly, Alexandra Kosteniuk, Kateryna Lagno, Nana Dzagnidze and Viktorija Cmilyte are GMs sitting just off the pace, with  Pia Cramling ( a long-standing Swedish GM and former European Individual winner) tucked in behind them on 4,5 points.

Lisa Schut ( of the Netherlands ) is placed 21st, at this point, a good achievement so far.

All her points are from wins, and watching the games lives its great to see a strong fighting spirit and determination, especially in the last two games, when facing strong opposition.

24 July, 2013

European Women's Individual Championship begins...

The European Women's Individual Championship started on Tuesday, with a few surprises in the first round, including the top seed ( Anna Muzychuk ) being held to a draw despite a 350 ELO difference  ( 2594 vs 2241 ).

Number two seed ( Nana Dzagnidze of Georgia ) topped that by losing to Mihaela Sandu with White !   Most of the other higher-rated games ran to form.

The new Dutch Women's Champion, Lisa Schut,  won, as expected, in a fairly straightforward manner, playing White in a French Defence ( Rubenstein ) against a much-lower opponent.

20 July, 2013

Front Page Chess

Good to see Chess take a front page for a change...

Admittedly , its only the free "Metro" newspapers for commuters, which could make it more surprising, but still it makes a pleasant change to read an encouraging chess article on the way to work !
The cause of this front page is a new Dutch Champion.

No, not GM Dimitri Reinderman ( the "Dutch National" Champion ) but rather the Women's Champion, Lisa Schut.
In fact, in a reversal of the usual, GM Reinderman is not even mentioned, and the short article is a Q and A session with Lisa Schut  [see front and page 4/5, but note it is in Dutch :)   ] 

Here, you have the usual questions...

"How did you start playing?" ( My parents taught me and my sister   : it was a great family experience  ).

"Did you expect to win this Championship ?" (No, it was a total surprise. In the tournament, I felt no pressure, enjoyed my evening relaxing and eating out, and played with an open mind ).

"What's it like as a young woman in the chess world ?"
( Chess is a male stronghold, with separate championships for women, but you often play against men, sometimes losing, sometimes winning. I am often shocked that my opponent is angry after losing to me. Men regularly believe that women can't play chess )

There are also obligatory mentions of her coaches (  Vladimr Chuchelov, the Belgian/Russian, and an occasional Adrian Mikhalchisin.  ) plus a diversion to her participation in the forthcoming European Women's Championship,, which starts on Monday.

In this forthcoming tournament, she says she is hoping to surprise, although facing the likes of Anna Muzychuk, Antoaneta Stefanova, Pia Cramling, Tatiana Kosintseva, Kateryna Lagno etc I think she will have to pull out more than just a rabbit from her hat !
She's now a WIM and rated 2277, so about the middle entrant in a field of 150 participants, but you never know. If she continues her confident winning streak she could well end up with a great result, maybe in the last 16, as she is hoping.

07 July, 2013

Chess in the Sun

Yesterday was, just as today is, a beautiful sunny day, and definitely not one to be used up inside the house.

Luckily for me, whilst out doing the usual Saturday tasks, and enjoying them much more in the sun,  I wandered through the chess centre of Amsterdam to discover a "Chess Festival"  in full swing.

As well as a Kid's Corner, Mate in two problems to win prizes and the Dutch under 20 championship, there were also simuls by GMs  Loek van Wely and Daniel Stellwagen , and blitz against IM Manuel Bosboom.

Looked like a lot of fun in a great setting, and happily I could take some pictures...

Daniel Stellwagen

Loek van Wely

Manuel Bosboom, thinking : beer is essential 

Manuel Bosboom - Playing

Manuel Bosboom - Winning ! and about to shake hands

A chess player thinking 

Just shows that chess isn't always quite so serious as people think, and you can still have fun, or perhaps better, enjoyable activities around it.

Afterwards, I visited the Max Euwe Centre, which had sponsored the event. Surprisingly I have never been before, since it usually only opens on weekdays.

A small but well-put-together exhibition about Max Euwe's chess career, including intriguing and in some sections amusing DVD footage, I guess from just before his 1935 Match against Alekhine for the World Championship, when Capablanca is asked to comment on Euwe's style of play and chances against Alekhine.

Great fun, and strange to see footage of such famous players : I never knew such things existed !

It also contains a library, available for consultation ( not lending )  by the public, and during my visit, a few people were also watching the live transmission of the current Dutch Championship, which is being played out this week.

UPDATE:  Here's the official report !

18 April, 2013

A Falkbeer Counter Gambit

Since I spotted a few Falkbeer Counter Gambits during my trawl through TL Openings, I thought I'd try it out some time.

I had the opportunity recently, as recent blitz opponents seemed to play the King's Gambit a couple of times.

After losing a couple of times, I did some minimal research, and found a couple of ways to play it, ending up deciding to try c6, the Nimzowitsch counter gambit.

My next use of it was wonderful, though thanks in no small part to my opponent's mistakes.

Here capturing the e-pawn is a major mistake, as it allows Qh4+.

5. fxe ?
A second major mistakes was 6. Ke2.  Of course, 6.g3 isn't that good either, but isn't so terminal.

Here Qg6 is a forced win.

I actually played Qxe5+, which also wins , but takes longer.

Overall, an enjoyable experience, but I doubt I would play it outside of blitz !

07 April, 2013

T55 Report and Openings

I need to look back at some of my games in TL, as I haven't spent time on them in any way,and so as a prelude to that, I thought I'd put out another "TL Openings' post to cover TL55, as a way to start the process for me.

Personally, my record was +2=3-2, that's 50%.  Par for the course, although if you take out my default win and draw ( as you should ) , I have a not great 40%, and only 1 win out of 5 played games : GM material I am not !

Definitely room for improvement, although I would have to say generally not in the area of openings. Here, I tend to do well, mostly coming out into the middlegame with a good position. Its there, that I lose it !

In opening play, as White, I stayed with 1.e4, and in my two games faced:

The French, where, as usual,  I avoided mainline French lines with the fun-filled Réti Gambit.  Certainly, I reached an acceptable middlegame, but let things slip with a simple oversight losing a pawn. Following this with a less than active defence meant I played a pawn down for 20 moves, and eventually blundered a piece. I held ground for quite some time, but ultimately couldn't hold of the attack.

I really don't like the French.

The Sicilian  ( sounds like a Gothic novel title ! ).  This was a different prospect, as I think it was the first time I switched to a main line, rather my usual 2.b3 ( the so-called Czerniak Attack ).

Guided by Timothy Taylor ( in spirit, not in person :) , I played a Classical line with Be2, and again found myself well-placed in the middlegame, helped, I am sure, by an indecisive Black Qb6, followed by a creeping Qd8 retreat. I don't think he was ready or could calculate the positions after Qxb2, but no shame there !

In the end a forced combination led to a loss of a piece and an inevitable resignation : always satisfying to defeat the Sicilian.

As Black, I started with a loss in a Philidor. Again, I came out of the opening well, and then spent a long time until I made a major mistake. I even had a great chance to recover, but didn't see it, ending up a long piece down and resigning.

Twice I had games in the Old Indian/King's Indian, drawing both, which was a good feeling , as I don't consider myself a d4 player.

I'd say I was well-prepared in both of them, with a more than acceptable middlegame. In both, I gained the upper hand, but didn't see a plan to win, and with a lack of time my draw offers were accepted. Definitely could do better here.

How does my opening experience compare to Team League overall ?

31 March, 2013

Catching up with blogging, and an easy win

I've not been the most active blogger recently, far too much going on in the work world with major decisions imminent that will probably affect my future, as the company re-organises itself in the current economic climate both in the personnel and budget areas.

But back to chess, and my TL season (T56)  is ended. No chances now of reaching the playoffs as wild card, but I think it unlikely.

Results though weren't so bad, considering.

Won 3, drawn 1, lost 2, giving me just above the expectation, so I will see a slight rise in my TL rating, heading back towards 1500.  I mean to put the effort in to analyse and publish this seasons' games, since I think that is really the only way to improve.

I've done very little chess activity outside of the TL games and a few blitz, but I have enjoyed the writings of IM Colin Crouch a lot. He has a sensible view on chess improvement, and a fine attitude to life as well given the serious issues he is overcoming.

He pointed out an obvious win in this position.

Hebden-Williams, Hastings 2012, Black to play

How many of us amateurs would choose the option of  Nxg4+ and accept the draw ?

In fact an " easy" win is available with Nd3+.  Go on work it through, its easy when you play it !

See you again soon on the plus side of a long, cold winter !

24 February, 2013

Solution to Problem : RB Wormald -1867

Here's the solution for the problem from last week...

Quite straightforward.

The Black King is practically in mate, and if the Queen was out of the way, f4 would deliver it.

So, the solution is to remove the Queen with Rxe2 ?

Well, no  In practical terms, ie in a game, that will work, although mate will take longer.

To solve in two, its simply Be4. No matter what Black plays, a mate can be delivered.

Be4 wins !

19 February, 2013

Problem : RB Wormald -1867

A relatively straightforward Mate in 2, courtesy of  Mr RB Wormald.

[3R1r2/7N/8/3pkPN1/3p2Kb/1pP2Ppp/4q3/1Br1Rb2 w - - 0 1]
White to Play : Mate in 2

Mate in two  [http://signalman90.blogspot.nl/2013/02/solution-to-problem-rb-wormald-1867.html]

14 February, 2013

DIY Blunders and Tactics 2

The New Year seems to have flown by, and good intentions, well, not quite fulfilled.

However, its never too late to catch up, so I took the opportunity of the overnight snowfall to look for some more ' home-grown' blunders and tactics...

Below, White has played what should be the losing  move, in Qf2 - f1.

Luckily for him, Black didn't play the sharp move, and a draw was agreed in a few moves.

What should Black play ?

Black to play

Solution  [  Rxg3 wins !  not so simple if white doesn't reply hxg, but Black still gets there ]

12 February, 2013

Problem : Greenwood 1867

Here you go...a problem from 1867, courtesy of a Mr W. Greenwood.

The original problem stated mate in 4, but in 2013 , a mate in 3 is also there ( thanks to Houdini for confirming it :)

Enjoy !

White to play
2B5/5R1K/4p1p1/6kp/4P2R/6P1/8/8 w - - 0 1
Mate in 4 [ 1. Re7 e5 2. Rxe5 Kf6 3. Re6 Kf7 4. Rf4#  ]

Mate in 3 [ 1. Kg7 e5 2.Bf5 gxf 3. Rxf5# ]