Saturday, February 23, 2008

Trivia Quiz

I’ve seen a few of these lately, but they haven’t been too impressive. (“What unimportant player was White in this game from an obscure local tournament no one has ever heard of?”) The questions below can be answered by anyone willing to do the work. If you can answer them without doing any research, congratulations. No, there isn’t any prize.

1) What were Lionel Kieseritsky’s middle names?

2) What is the move of a Dababba?

3) What was Pillsbury’s tournament record against Emanuel Lasker?

4) Who finished second in the 2nd World Correspondence Championship?

5) Who won the 19th Trebitsch Memorial, Vienna 1936?

6) What two masters wrote a play called “Do Horses Eat Meat”?

7) What was Herman Steiner’s score in the 1952 Interzonal?

8) What was the time conrtol at the London tournament of 1883?

9) What were the first names of Caro and Kann?

10) Who finished last in the 1944 U.S. Championship?

Click here for the answers.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Marshall-Schlechter, Ostende 1907

A game which illustrates the dangers of symmetry and the value of the initiative.

Marshall – Schlechter

Ostend 1907


1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. e3 Nf6 4. Bxc4 e6 5. Nf3 a6 6. 0-0 c5 7. Nc3 Qc7 8. Qe2 Nc6 9. a3 b5 10. Ba2 Bb7 11. dxc5 Bxc5 12. b4 Bd6 13. Bb2 0-0 14. Rac1 Qe7

As a result of the inaccurate 7. ... Qc7, Black must lose time.

15. Bb1 Rac8

Better was 15. ... Ne5, with the tactical point that 16. Nxe5 Bxe5 17. Nxb5 leads only to a draw after 17. ... Bxb2 18. Rc7 Qe8 19. Nd6 Qd8 20. Rxb7 Qxd6 21. Qxb2 Qc6, with “perpetual check” on the Rook.

16. Ne4 Nxe4 17. Bxe4 f5 18. Bb1 e5 19. Rfd1 e4

Opening too many lines, and White’s more active Rooks suddenly become decisive. Necessary was 19. ... Bb8.

20. Ba2+ Kh8 21. Ng5! Qxg5

There was no other defense to the dual threats of 22. Qh5 (22. ... h6 23. Qg6 hxg5 24. Qh5 mate) and 22. Nf7+, winning the Exchange (that hanging Bishop on d6).

22. Rd6 Rfd8 23. h4!


23. ... Qg4

Black is lost. Some clever variations pointed out by Marshall are i.) 23. ... Qxh4 24. Bxg7+! Kxg7 25. Qb2+ Kf8 26. Qh8+ Ke7 27. Re6+ Kd7 28. Qg7+ Ne7 29. Rd1+ Kc7 30. Qe5+ and mate next, and ii.) 23. ... Qe7 24. Re6 Qd7 25. h5 Qd2 26. h6! Qxe2 27. hxg7+ Kg8 28. Re8 mate.

24. Qd2 Rxd6 25. Qxd6 Rd8 26. Qc7 Ba8 27. Bb3 f4 28. Rxc6 Rf8 29. Qe7, Black resigns.

Monday, February 18, 2008

U.S. Amateur Team West, Day 3

LATE NEWS: The Arizona team "We Have Cox," with Robby Adamson, Landon Brownell, Jonathan Cox and Benjamin Marmont scored 6-0 to take first place in the U.S. Amateur Team West. They defeated teams 1, 3, 6 and 4 on the road to the championship, and will now face the winners of the East, North, and West in an on-line playoff in April. Final standings may be found at

The Winners:

1st: We Have Cox (Robby Adamson, Landon Brownell, Jonathan Cox, Benjamin Marmont), 6-0

2nd: Sunil! Where’s Hikaru? (Jouaquin Banawa, Joel Banawa, Takashi Kurosaki, Sunil Deolalikar), 5.5-1.5

3rd: The Dream Team (Enrico Sevillano, John Daniel Bryant, Michael Yee, Santy Wong), 4.5-1.5

U2100: Beyond Chess A (Kong Liang Deng, Tianyi He, Kelly Zhang, Robert Xue, Henry Wang), 4-2
U2000: Wut Up Narcissists!?!! (Kofi Tatum, Lonnie Neal, Carl Bolm, Alicia Narducci, Stewart Yanez), 4-2
U1800: Short and Tal (Don Cotten, Ryan Yeung, Ray Sollars, Wenbo Du), 3-3
U1600: Crap! We Thought This Was Scholastics … (Alexander Kaliannan, Anna Karapetyan, Caleb Molitoris, Gavin Greiwe), 3-3
U1400: Vera Menchik Brigade (Michael White, Colette McGruder, Constance McClendon, Debra Rothman), 2-4

College: The troJACKs (Jack Peters, Etan Ilfeld, Simon Nielsen, Colin Field-Eaton, Leland Farrar), 4.5-1.5
Industrial: Northrop Grumman Advantage in Space (Philip Jacobsen, Robert Potts, David Anthopoulos, Michael Lowe, Michael Hemmat), 3-3
Junior: Beyond Chess B (Richard Yang, Hubert Jung, Jeffrey Ding, Zheng Zhu), 3-3
Senior: The Cardinal Sinners (Precioso Saguisag, Romeo Rodriguez, Jose Romero, Ed Baluran), 3.5-2.5

Board 1: GM Sergey Kudrin, 5-1
Board 2: IM Andranik Matikozyan, 5.5-.5
Board 3: Jonathan Cox, 5.5-.5
Board 4: Ben Marmont, 5.5-.5
Alternate: Stewart Yanez, 4-1

Team names (Don’t blame us, the players voted for them):
1st: Hillery Says Scratch My Barack
2nd: My Pimp Hand Is Strong Chess Bitch

Ron Hermansen – Daniel Gertmanian [D41]
USATW, Los Angeles 2008

1.e4 c6 2.c4 d5 3.cxd5 cxd5 4.exd5 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nxd5 6.Nf3 e6 7.d4 Be7 8.Bc4 Nxc3 9.bxc3 0–0 10.0–0 a6 11.Re1 b5 12.Bd3 Bb7 13.Ne5 Nd7 14.Qc2 h6 15.Ng4 Nf6 16.Qe2 Re8 17.Ne5 Rc8 18.Bd2 Bf8 19.Qe3 Rc7 20.Qg3 Kh8 21.Re2 Qa8 22.f3 Rec8 23.Qh4 Ng8 24.Qh5 Nf6 25.Nxf7+ Kg8 26.Nxh6+ gxh6 27.Qg6+ Bg7 28.Bxh6 Ne8 29.Rxe6 Bd5 30.Rxa6 Qb7 31.Re1 Bf7 32.Qh7+ Kf8 33.Qh8+ Bg8 34.Bh7 1–0

Graham Free – Elliott Liu [B24]
USATW, Los Angeles 2008

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.d3 Rb8 6.Be3 b5 7.Bxc5 b4 8.Na4 Qa5 9.b3 d6 10.Be3 Bxa1 11.Qxa1 Nf6 12.d4 Bd7 13.d5 Ne5 14.Nb2 Rc8 15.Kd1 Bg4+ 16.f3 Rc3 17.Bd2 Nxe4 18.fxg4 Qxd5 19.Nd3 Rxd3 20.Bxe4 Rxd2+ 21.Kc1 Rd1+ 0–1

Sunday, February 17, 2008

U.S. Amateur Team West, Day 2

The second day of the USATW saw a record turnout of 40 teams for the Scholastic Amateur Team, limited to junior teams with an average rating below 1200. Taking clear first with 4-0 was "Beyond Qh5!," with Daniel Lin, David Yang, Kyle Huang and Yusheng Xia. Standings for the main event are posted at, and the Scholastic final standings here.

"Beyond Qh5!" receiving their trophies from TD Elie Hsiao.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

U.S. Amateur Team West, Day 1

Forty-nine teams entered the 25th Annual U.S. Amateur Team West, the best turnout since 2002. The 210-player field includes one GM (Sergey Kudrin) and four IMs (Kong Liang Deng, Andranik Matikozyan, Jack Peters and Enrico Sevillano). Standings will be posted after each round here.

IM Kong Liang Deng - IM Jack Peters [B50]
USATW, 16.02.2008

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.c3 Nf6 4.Be2 Nc6 5.d4 cxd4 6.cxd4 Nxe4 7.d5 Qa5+ 8.Nc3 Nxc3 9.bxc3 Nb8 10.0–0 g6 11.Qd4 Rg8 12.Re1 Nd7 13.Bf1 Qc5 14.Qa4 Qxd5 15.Ba3 Kd8 16.Rad1 Qf5 17.Nd4 Nb6 18.Qb3 Qf6 19.c4 Bd7 20.Nb5 Bg7 21.c5 Be6 22.cxd6 exd6 23.Rxd6+ Nd7 24.Rexe6 fxe6 25.Rxd7+ Kxd7 26.Qd3+ Kc8 27.Qc4+ 1–0

Robert Hurdle - Garush Manukyan [B12]
USATW, 16.02.2008

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bf5 4.Nc3 e6 5.g4 Bg6 6.Nge2 h6 7.Nf4 Bh7 8.Bd3 Bxd3 9.Qxd3 Nd7 10.Bd2 Ne7 11.0–0–0 c5 12.Nb5 Nc6 13.Rde1 cxd4 14.Nxd5 exd5 15.e6 Nf6 16.Nxd4 Nxd4 17.Qxd4 Be7 18.h4 Ne4 19.Qxg7 Rf8 20.Bxh6 fxe6 21.Qg6+ Kd7 22.Bxf8 Qxf8 23.f3 Qf4+ 24.Kb1 Qxf3 25.h5 Rf8 26.h6 Bf6 27.g5 Bxb2 28.Kxb2 Qc3+ 29.Kb1 Qb4+ 30.Kc1 Qa3+ 31.Kd1 Nc3+ 32.Kd2 Rf2+ 33.Ke3 Nd1+ 34.Kd4 Qc3# 0–1

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Lasker-Bauer, Amsterdam 1889

An early example of the double Bishop sacrifice, the “chess mill” theme, and the skill of the then-young Emanuel Lasker, who only five years later would challenge Steinitz for the World Championship.

Em. Lasker - J. Bauer
Amsterdam 1889

1. f4 d5 2. Nf3 e6 3. e3 Nf6 4. b3 Be7 5. Bb2 b6

The flank development of his Queen Bishop fits in well with White’s central formation, but Black’s play is rather obliging — he ought to have tried either for an early ... e6-e5, or ... c7-c5 followed by ... d5-d4.

6. Bd3 Bb7 7. Nc3 0-0 8. 0-0 Nbd7 9. Ne2 c5 10. Ng3 Qc7 11. Ne5 Nxe5 12. Bxe5 Qc6 13. Qe2 a6 14. Nh5 Nxh5 15. Bxh7+!

A bolt from a stormy sky. The key factors of the combination are a) the possibility of quickly bringing a Rook into the attack (19. Rf3) and b) the presence of undefended Black pieces, giving the White Queen the chance for a double attack (22. Qd7).

15. ... Kxh7 16. Qxh5+ Kg8 17. Bxg7!


17. … Kxg7 18. Qg4+ Kh7 19. Rf3 e5 20. Rh3+ Qh6 21. Rxh6+ Kxh6 22. Qd7

If it were not for this sting at the end of the combination, Black would have more than enough for his Queen. Now White has a decisive material and positional advantage.

22. ... Bf6 23. Qxb7 Kg7 24. Rf1 Rab8 25. Qd7 Rfd8 26. Qg4+ Kf8 27. fxe5 Bg7

Not 27. ... Bxe5 28. Qe6.

28. e6 Rb7 29. Qg6 f6 30. Rxf6+ Bxf6 31. Qxf6+ Ke8 32. Qh8+ Ke7 33. Qg7+ 1-0

Monday, February 11, 2008

Lingering death

Debate has recently arisen again on the “USCF Forums” about Rule 14H. This is the rule concerning “insufficient losing chances” in sudden-death. The current wording is that, given less than two minutes remaining and a position in which “a Class C player would have little chance to lose the position against a Master with both players having ample time,” a player may request TD intervention. This has gone through a number of iterations since the appearance of sudden-death twenty years ago, but in essence it is an attempt to turn SD into an amazing lifelike simulation of “real” chess.

How should such claims be dealt with? Logically, there are four, and only four, possibilities:

1) Require all games to use time-delay clocks. (If you are already s=using time delay, noc claim may be made.)

2) Let the TD adjudicate the position.

3) Put in a time-delay clock and let them play it out.

4) Abolish the claim. If your flag falls in sudden-death, you lose.

Now, “1” is obviously silly, except perhaps in small invitation events where the organizers supply clocks. “2” is essentially the FIDE rule. It was given in the 4th edition of the USCF rulebook (written before time delay clocks were widely available), but the problems with it are pretty obvious. (Do you really want a Class C TD telling Yermolinsky that his game is a draw?)

“3” is the currently preferred USCF option. It requires that the TD keep a clock handy, but that’s not really the problem. What happens when a player “demands” a time-delay clock in a position where he really doesn’t deserve it? “I have the advantage! I’m sure I could draw it against a Master!” If the TD is a weak player and the claimant is loud and pushy, he may get it. If the TD is a strong player and doesn’t feel like being pushed around, he tells the claimant he has a pawn for the initiative in an unclear position, so shut up and play. But the result of the game should never depend on the playing strength of the TD.

“4” has the virtue of simplicity, and has recently been endorsed by Tim Just, who wrote the 5th edition of the rulebook. Twenty years ago I might have been more sympathetic to this idea, on the grounds that it might convince the players that sudden-death was a bad plan. But sudden-death is here to stay, and adopting such a policy now would merely further the debasement of tournament chess into something resembling blitz.

Solution? Absent a time machine, I don’t have one. Those who sought to “improve” tournament chess with such innovations as SD and time-delay created a new set of problems for which there are no good solutions. Now we have to live with it.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Taubenhaus-Pollock, Nottingham 1886

The White King is driven to c3 and Black wins both Rooks, but it is the Black King that succumbs to a hunt in which the White King himself participates.

Taubenhaus – Pollock
Nottingham, 1886
C39 KING’S GAMBIT ACCEPTED, Allgaier Variation

1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4 3. Nf3 g5 4. h4 g4 5. Ng5

The Allgaier Gambit, which commits White to the sacrifice of a piece.

5. ... h6 6. Nxf7 Kxf7 7. d4 f3 8. Bc4+ d5 9. Bxd5+ Ke8 10. gxf3 g3 11. f4 Nf6 12. Bc4 g2 13. Rg1 Bg4 14. Qd3

Threatening 15. e5 and 16. Qg6+. Black finds a clever reply that deserved a better fate.

14. ... Nc6 15. e5 Ne4 16. Qxe4 Qxh4+ 17. Kd2 Qf2+ 18. Kc3 Qxg1 19. Be3 Qe1+

Obvious, but not the best -- after 19. ... Bf5! Black would retain his material advantage safely.


20. Nd2 g1(Q) 21. Bxg1 Qxa1?

Too greedy. With 21. ... Qxe4 Black would have good winning chances, though the White central pawns would have to be treated with respect. After the text Black is lost.

22. Qg6+ Kd8 23. Qf6+ Kc8 24. Qxh8 Kd7 25. Qh7+ Be7 26. e6+ Bxe6 27. Bxe6+ Kxe6 28. d5+ Kxd5 29. Qf5+ Ne5 30. Qxe5+ Kc6 31. Qxe7 Qxg1 32. Qe6+ Kb5 33. a4+ Kxa4 34. Qb3+ Ka5 35. Nc4+ Ka6 36. Qa4 mate

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Deducting, Choosing, Switching


A question I am frequently asked at the start of tournaments is, “Should I deduct time for time-delay?” My answer is always “no.”

The purpose of “deducting” time is to compensate for the extra five seconds per move. One rationale is to make sure all players have the same amount of time (which, of course they won’t – those five-second increments never add up exactly). Another is to get the games over more quickly so you can pair the next round.

However, the current (5th edition) Rulebook advises against deducting (though it is still permissible). The reason is a practical one. They are probably a dozen different delay clocks on the market. If a TD announces that players should deduct five minutes for time-delay, the players will form a line asking him how to set their clocks. Then they’ll form another line a couple of hours later complaining that they didn’t do it right and asking the TD to fix it.

In my opinion, deducting time should be used only if the time between rounds is so tight that there is no way to get the pairings made otherwise. And, if that’s the problem, you should change your format.


Who decides what equipment to use? Some older players are still under the impression that Black always gets the choice, but that’s no longer the case. The USCF, wisely or not, has changed the equipment rule as follows:

1) Black gets the choice of standard equipment.

2) Time-delay clocks (with the delay in effect) are “more standard” (I know it makes no sense, but that’s what it says) than “analog” clocks (you know, the ones with hands).

3) So, if either player has a delay and wants to use it, he can. If both players have delay clocks, or both have “analog” clocks, Black gets to choose.

4) Exception: If one player is present at the start of the round and the other is not, the player who is present gets to set up and start. By not being there at the round time, the other player forfeits any right to object, period.


I’ve been seeing a few requests lately from players to insert a time-delay clock at some point in the game, typically when the player starts to worry about losing on time. Short answer: No. There is no rule allowing a player to “request” or “demand” a time delay clock after the game has started, except for the special case of an “insufficient losing chances” claim.

This claim can only be made only if the player has less than two minutes remaining in a sudden-death time control. It amounts to a draw offer, which your opponent can accept if he wants. The TD may uphold the claim (if it’s something obvious like Bishop and wrong Rook pawn versus King in the right corner) or reject it and give your opponent an extra two minutes as a penalty (if the claim is obviously frivolous or made to gain time), but usually he will put in a time-delay clock and let you play it out. If you can’t hold the game with five seconds a move, you had sufficient losing chances to lose.