Thursday, January 31, 2008

MacDonnell-Boden, London 1861

Once dubbed the “Koh-i-Noor” of chess, this game is typical of the period — a slashing attack appears out of nowhere, for defensive technique was little understood even by the best players. The winner should not be confused with La Bourdonnais’ opponent, Alexander McDonnell.

G. A. MacDonnell – Boden
London, 1861


1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. b4 Bb6 5. O-O d6 6. h3 Nf6 7. d3 O-O 8. Nc3 h6 9. Be3 Nxb4 10. Ne2 Nc6 11. Ng3 d5 12. Bb5 dxe4 13. Bxc6 bxc6 14. Nxe5 exd3 15. cxd3 Qe8 16. Bxb6 axb6 17. f4 Nd5 18. Qh5 f6 19. Ng6 Qe3+ 20. Kh2 Rd8 21. Rfe1 Qxd3 22. Rad1 Qc2

The Black Queen’s foraging expedition has left Black far behind in development.

23. Ne7+ Kh8 24. Qf7 Bxh3

Black clears the back rank with gain of tempo in order to answer the threat of Ng3-h5 with ... Rd8-g8. On other moves, say 24. ... Bb7, White’s point is 25. Rxd5 cxd5 26. Nh5 Rg8 27. Ng6+ Kh7 28. Nxf6 mate.


25. Re2! Qxd1 26. Nh5 Rg8 27. Nxg8 Rxg8 28. Re8, Black resigns

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Westwood Winter Open

Thirty-four players entered the 2008 Westwood Winter Open, led by three IMs (Enrico Sevillano, Tim Taylor, and Anthony Saidy). Here are some photos of the playing site, the Los Angeles Chess Club. Sevillano took clear first with 4.5-.5, defeating both Taylor and Saidy. Taylor was second at 4-1, and John Daniel Bryant finished third. in the Reserve (U1800) section, Juan Rodriguez considerably outperformed his 1492 rating to take first place with 4.5.

Final standings

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Schlechter-Marco, Monte Carlo 1904

The post-Steinitz era was seen by many as a time of dull play in comparison to the previous century, culminating in Capablanca’s prediction of a “draw death.” But the greatest masters of the period were still able to rise above the uniformity of style and produce such sprightly games as this.

Schlechter - Marco
Monte Carlo, 1904

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Be7 5. e3 0-0 6. Nf3 Nbd7 7. Rc1 a6

With the obvious intention of meeting 8. Bd3 with 8. ... dxc4 9. Bxc4 b5 and 10. ... Bb7.

8. c5 b5 9. b4 c6 10. Bd3 a5 11. a3 Re8

The difference between the respective Queen Bishops is enormous, and the opening of the a-file is of little value to Black, for open lines will always benefit the better developed side. Strategically, Black’s only hope is to enforce ... e6-e5.

12. 0-0 Nh5 13. Bxe7 Qxe7 14. Ne5 Nxe5 15. Bxh7+ Kf8 16. Qxh5 Nc4 17. Bd3 Qf6 18. Bxc4 bxc4

The extra pawn means little, but every exchange exacerbates the problem of the Bishop at c8. White must avoid the position becoming to blocked, though, for his Rooks will need open files.

19. b5 Bd7 20. bxc6 Bxc6 21. Rb1 g6 22. Qh6+ Ke7 23. Rb6 Kd7 24. Qh3 Qg5 25. Rfb1 Rh8 26. Qf3 f5


27. Rxc6! Kxc6 28. Nxd5!

The second sacrifice cannot be accepted -- 28. ... exd5 29. Rb6+ Kc7 30. Qxd5 and Black will be mated, e.g. 30. ... Rhb8 31. Qd6+ Kc8 32. Rc6+ Kb7 33. Qc7#.

28. ... Rab8 29. Nf4+ Kd7 30. Rb7+ Rxb7 31. Qxb7+ Ke8 32. c6, Black resigns

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Punishment fit the crime

"January 20 2008 - Corus Chess Press

"At the start of round 8 of the Corus Chess Tournament, Ivan Cheparinov, top seed in Grandmaster Group B, lost his game against Nigel Short for refusing to shake the Brit’s hand. According to an article on the FIDE website:

"'Any player who does not shake hands with the opponent (or greets the opponent in a normal social manner in accordance with the conventional rules of their society) before the game starts in a FIDE tournament or during a FIDE match (and does not do it after being asked to do so by the arbiter) or deliberately insults his/her opponent or the officials of the event, will immediately and finally lose the relevant game.'

"Chief Arbiter Thomas van Beekum was a witness when Cheparinov refused Short’s offer to shake hands twice and the Bulgarian’s game was declared a loss as a result.

"The Tournament Organization has received an official protest by Mr. Ivan Cheparinov regarding his loss against Mr. Nigel Short. The matter will be put forward to the Appeals Committee."

The appeals committee (Kramnik, Polgar and Krasenkow) ordered the game replayed after an apology by Cheparinov. One correspondent expressed sympathy for Short, who came to the board expecting to play, was insulted by his opponent, and now must replay the game on what was supposed to be his free day. That's fair enough, but I'd like to know exactly what happened during the original incident. If the arbiter intervened on his own and forfeited a player for a triviality like this, he was abusing his authority. If Short asked him to intervene -- the arbiter was still out of line, but so was Short. And did Short object to the forfeit? (Of course, there is that famous Denker-Reshesky game for a precedent, but Reshevsky is not the best role model.)

I think the decision of the appeals committee was correct. Cheparinov will be subjected to widespread derision for his boorish behavior, and the game will be played.

Later: I watched the video of the start of the game, (, and it certainly looks like Short complained to the arbiter about the handshake. And, according to Ian Rogers at Chess Life On Line, Short actually asked for the forfeit because his "concentration had been disturbed." This doesn't make Cheparinov any less of a boor, but it pretty much eliminates any sympathy I might have had for Short having to lose his rest day.

Later still: After some posturing and threats to withdraw on the part of Short, the game was played on Monday. Short won convincingly. Probably a just result. But do we really want this sort of behavior back? We saw enough of it in Baguio.

Short,N (2645) - Cheparinov,I (2713) [B92]
Corus B Wijk aan Zee NED (8), 21.01.2008

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 e5 7.Nb3 Be7 8.0-0 0-0 9.Be3 Be6 10.Nd5 Nbd7 11.Qd3 Bxd5 12.exd5 Rc8 13.c4 a5 14.Kh1 Re8 15.Rad1 Bf8 16.Nd2 g6 17.b3 Bg7 18.a3 h5 19.f3 b6 20.b4 axb4 21.axb4 e4 22.fxe4 Ne5 23.Qb3 Neg4 24.Bg5 Qd7 25.Qb1 Ra8 26.h3 Nh7 27.Bf4 Ne5 28.c5 bxc5 29.bxc5 Reb8 30.Qc2 dxc5 31.Qxc5 Rc8 32.Qe3 Nf8 33.Qg3 Qe8 34.Bb5 Qe7 35.Nf3 Nxf3 36.Qxf3 Rc3 37.Rd3 Raa3 38.e5 Rxd3 39.Bxd3 Nd7 40.e6 fxe6 41.Qe2 Nf8 42.Bc4 Rc3 43.dxe6 Rxc4 44.Qxc4 Qxe6 45.Qxe6+ Nxe6 46.Be3 Nd4 47.Kg1 Nf5 48.Bc5 Be5 49.Re1 Bc3 50.Re4 Kf7 51.Kf2 Bf6 52.Ra4 Ke6 53.Ke2 Kf7 54.Bf2 Ke6 55.Kd3 Kf7 56.Ra7+ Ke6 57.Ra6+ Kf7 58.Ke4 Bb2 59.Rc6 Bg7 60.Be1 Bf6 61.Bc3 Bh4 62.Be5 Bg5 63.Ra6 Bh4 64.Bf4 Bf6 65.g4 hxg4 66.hxg4 Ng7 67.Be5 Be7 68.Kd5 Ne8 69.Ra7 Nf6+ 70.Bxf6 Kxf6 71.g5+ Kf7 72.Rxe7 1-0

Monday, January 14, 2008

Marshall-Burn, Ostende 1905

What is the goal of the opening? The answer depends on the specific circumstances, but in open games the advantage will go to the player who first activates his Rooks. This is most often accomplished by castl­ing, but one should remember that castling is a means to an end, not an end in itself.
Frank Marshall – Amos Burn
Ostende, 1905
C54 GIUOCO PIANO, Krakow Variation

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d4 exd4 6. cxd4 Bb4+ 7. Kf1!?
A rare sideline. White wants to avoid the simplification that would result from 7. Bd2 Bxd2+ 8. Nbxd2 d5, and the complications of 7. Nc3 Nxe4 8. 0-0 Bxc3 9. d5 (the Moeller Attack).
7. ... Nxe4
Correct was 7. ... d5. White has delayed the activation of his King Rook, and it is more important for Black to prevent White’s expansion in the center than to grab material.
8. d5 Ne7 9. Qd4 Nf6 10. Bg5 Ng6 11. Nbd2 h6 12. Re1+ Kf8
Exploiting the scattered state of the Black forces, White has seized the open file. Black’s last move was unavoidable, for after 12. ... Be7 13. Bxf6 gxf6 14. d6 cxd6 15. Qxf6, his position would be wretched.
13. Bd3 Be7
Had he foreseen the sequel, Black might have chosen 13. ... Bxd2 14. Bxd2 d6, with less disadvantage than in the game.
14. Bxg6 hxg5


Similar is 14. ... fxg6 15. Ne5 Qe8 16. Qd3, and the pressure on the e-file decides.
15. Ne5! fxg6 16. Nxg6+ Kf7 17. Rxe7+ Kxg6 18. Qd3+ Kh6
Not 18. ... Kh5, when 19. Rxg7 threatens both Qg6+ and Qh3 mate. The text appears to defend, but now White brings up the reserves. Note the importance of pawn structure even in tactical situations — were it not for the pawn on g5, White would be unable to pry open the key file.
19. h4 g4
Or, as Marshall pointed out, 19. ... Qxe7 20. hxg5+ Kxg5 21. Nf3+ Kg4 (21. ... Kf4 22. g3+ is a mirror variation) 22. Qg6+ Kf4 23. g3+ Kxf3 24. Qf4 mate!
20. h5 Nxh5 21. Qf5, Black resigns
For if 21. ... g4, he is mated after 22. Rxh5+ gx5 23. Qf6.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Video Interviews: Jeremy Silman and John Donaldson

Below are links to interviews with IM Jeremy Silman and IM John Donaldson conducted at the 2007 American Open.

Jeremy Silman interview

John Donaldson interview

Friday, January 11, 2008

Mutatis Mutandis

A source of contention over the last year has been the change made at the 2006 Delegates’ Meeting to USCF rule 15A. This change required players to make their move on the board before writing the move on the scoresheet.

The background of the change is a little complicated. There has always been a (minority) school of thought holding that writing a move down and then changing it, or even writing the move before playing it, amounted to “use of written notes.” Fischer made this argument back in the 60s, though he didn’t have much success.

In 2006 an electronic scorekeeping device called the “MonRoi” came on the market. Exactly why one would prefer a $400 PDA to a $.01 scoresheet is a good question, but some did. (The device was originally intended for invitational tournaments where the organizers would supply them, but that’s another story.) On the MonRoi, “writing” a move meant moving the piece on a small digital board, so “changing” one’s move really did amount to analyzing on another board.

The obvious solution would have been to make a special rule for electronic scorekeeping devices, but that’s not what the USCF did. Instead, the Rules Committee recommended (and the Delegates adopted) a sledgehammer approach, requiring all players to move before writing. The effect was somewhat vitiated by the fact that the recommended penalty was a warning.

Over the following year, there were a number of complaints about this, from players who didn’t want to change their habits and from TDs who didn’t want their time wasted with frivolous disputes. At the 2007 Delegates Meeting, the rule was changed yet again. The “basic” rule remains that one must move before writing, but a “variation” was added, which I suspect most TDs will use:

15.A. (Variation 1) Paper
scoresheet variation. The player
using a paper scoresheet may
first make the move, and then
write it on the scoresheet, or vice
versa. This variation does not
need to be advertised in advance.
TD Tip: TD’s may penalize
a player that is in violation
of 20C. “Use of notes prohibited”
if the player is first writing the
move and repeatedly altering that
move on their scoresheet before
completing a move on the board.

So, we’re right back where we started.