Sunday, March 30, 2008

Western Pacific Open final

The favorites came through in the end, as GMs Mark Paragua and Darwin Laylo and IMs Enrico Sevillano, Andranik Matikozayn and Tim Taylor tied for first with 4-1. The other two sections saw clear but unexpected winners, as Fernando Sevilla (1826) topped the Under 2000 section, while Gabriel Bisson (1073!) took first in the Under 1400. Simone Liao scored 5-0 in the Scholastic Open, while David Minasyan, Shelley Anthopoulos and Darren Leung tied with 4-1 in the Scholastic Reserve. Hex sections went to Craig Clawitter, Sergey Yurenok and Max Landaw (tied) and Zaven Khachiyan. Complete standings may be found here.

IM Tim Taylor - John Daniel Bryant [E79]
6th Western Pacific Open (4), 30.03.2008
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Be2 0-0 6.f4 c5 7.Nf3 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Nc6 9.Be3 Ng4 10.Bxg4 Bxd4 11.Bxd4 Bxg4 12.Qxg4 Nxd4 13.Qd1 e5 14.0-0 f5 15.exf5 gxf5 16.Nd5 Qd7 17.Qh5 Kh8 18.fxe5 dxe5 19.Rae1 Rae8 20.Qh6 Rf7 21.Re3 f4 22.Re4 Re6 23.Qh5 Rf5 24.Qd1 Qg7 25.Nxf4 Ref6 26.Rxe5 Rxe5 27.Qxd4 Ref5 28.g3 h5 29.Rf2 h4 30.Nh5 Rxf2 31.Nxg7 Rf1+ 32.Kg2 Kxg7 33.Qxa7 Rf7 34.Qd4+ Kg8 35.Qg4+ Kf8 36.Qxh4 R1f2+ 37.Kh3 Kg8 38.Qd8+ Kg7 39.Qd4+ Kg8 40.g4 R7f3+ 41.Kh4 Rxh2+ 42.Kg5 Rh7 43.Kg6 Rf8 44.b4 Re7 45.c5 Re6+ 46.Kh5 Rfe8 47.g5 Kf7 48.g6+ Kg8 49.Kh6 R8e7 50.b5 Re2 51.Qd8+ Re8 52.Qd5+ R8e6 53.Qxb7 Re7 54.Qa8+ Re8 55.Qd5+ R8e6 56.b6 Kf8 57.Qd8+ 1-0

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Western Pacific Open, Day 2

The 3- and 2-day schedules have now merged, with a total of 91 players. The 35-player Open section featured three GMs and two IMs, but one of the GMs has already fallen by the wayside, as GM Melikset Khachiyan withdrew after a second-round loss to San Diego master Ron Bruno. Going into round three, six players are tied for the lead with 2-0: GMs Mark Paragua and Darwin Laylo, IMs Enrico Sevillano and Tim Taylor, and masters Pedram Atoufi and Ron Bruno. As before, complete standings may be found here.

John Daniel Bryant - Jim Chao,J [C03]
6th Western Pacific Open G/75 (1), 29.03.2008
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 h6 4.Ngf3 c5 5.exd5 exd5 6.Bb5+ Nc6 7.0-0 Nf6 8.Re1+ Be6 9.Ne5 Qb6 10.Qe2 cxd4 11.Nxf7 Kxf7 12.Qxe6+ Kg6 13.Bd3+ 1-0

IM Tim Taylor - Gregg Small [D03]
6th Western Pacific Open (2), 29.03.2008

1.d4 d5 2.Nc3 e6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Bd3 0-0 7.h4 c5 8.Qd2 c4 9.Be2 Bb4 10.Ne5 Nxe5 11.dxe5 Ne4 12.Bxd8 Nxd2 13.Kxd2 Rxd8 14.Rad1 Bd7 15.Kc1 Bc6 16.Nb1 b5 17.Nd2 c3 18.Nf3 cxb2+ 19.Kxb2 Rdc8 20.Nd4 Bd7 21.Rd3 a6 22.h5 h6 23.Rh4 Ba5 24.f4 Rc7 25.Ra3 Bb4 26.Rb3 Bc5 27.a3 Rac8 28.Bd3 f6 29.exf6 gxf6 30.Rg4+ Kf7 31.Rg6 Bf8 32.e4 dxe4 33.Bxe4 Rc4 34.Rd3 Be8 35.f5 e5 36.Bd5+ Ke7 37.Bxc4 bxc4 38.Re3 Rd8 39.Ne6 Rb8+ 40.Kc3 Bxg6 41.hxg6 1-0

Ron Bruno - GM Melikset Khachiyan [C63]
6th Western Pacific Open (2), 29.03.2008

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 f5 4.Nc3 fxe4 5.Nxe4 Nf6 6.Qe2 d5 7.Nxf6+ gxf6 8.d4 Bg7 9.dxe5 0-0 10.Bxc6 bxc6 11.e6 Re8 12.Nd4 c5 13.Nf5 Rxe6 14.Be3 Bf8 15.0-0-0 Re5 16.g4 d4 17.f4 Rxe3 18.Qxe3 Bb7 19.Qe6+ Kh8 20.Rhg1 Bd5 21.Qa6 Rb8 22.Rde1 Rb6 23.Qa4 Bc6 24.Qc4 Bd5 25.Qe2 Be6 26.Qe4 Qc8 27.Rg3 Bf7 28.Ne7 Qe6 29.Qxe6 Bxe6 30.Nf5 Kg8 31.Rh3 a5 32.a4 Bd7 33.Ne7+ Kg7 34.Rh5 Bxg4 35.Rg1 Bxe7 36.Rxg4+ Kf8 37.Rxh7 Re6 38.Rh8+ Kf7 39.f5 Re5 40.Rh7+ Kf8 41.Rh8+ Kf7 42.Rgh4 Bf8 43.R4h7+ Bg7 44.Rc8 1-0

Western Pacific Open, Day 1

The 6th Annual Western Pacific Open has begun, and though the turnout is a bit disappointing, the field is remarkably strong. When the 2-day schedule joins in tomorrow, we will have three GMs and two IMs (at least!) competing. Standings will be posted here.

GM Melikset Khachiyan - Ryan Richardson [B23]
6th Western Pacific Open (1), 29.03.2008

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Bb5 e6 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.f4 Ne7 6.Nf3 Ng6 7.d3 Nh4 8.0-0 Nxf3+ 9.Qxf3 Be7 10.Be3 b6 11.Rad1 Qc7 12.d4 cxd4 13.Bxd4 f6 14.e5 f5 15.Nb5 cxb5 16.Qxa8 0-0 17.Qf3 Bb7 18.Qc3 Bc6 19.Be3 Qb7 20.Qb3 Kf7 21.Rf2 Rd8 22.Rxd8 Bxd8 23.Bd2 a5 24.Be3 Qd7 25.Rd2 Bd5 26.c4 bxc4 27.Qxc4 b5 28.Qe2 g6 29.b3 Be7 30.Rc2 a4 31.bxa4 bxa4 32.h3 Be4 33.Rc1 Ba3 34.Rc3 Be7 35.Bb6 Qd5 36.Rc7 Kf8 37.Qa6 Qd1+ 38.Kh2 Qd2 39.Qc8+ Bd8 40.Bc5+ Kg8 41.Qxe6+ Kh8 42.Qe8# 1-0

Stephen Hall - IM Tim Taylor [A01]
6th Western Pacific Open (1), 29.03.2008

1.b3 e6 2.Bb2 Nf6 3.e3 Be7 4.Nf3 b6 5.Be2 Bb7 6.0-0 0-0 7.c4 d5 8.d3 c5 9.Nbd2 Nc6 10.a3 Re8 11.Qc2 Rc8 12.Rac1 Rc7 13.Rfd1 Rd7 14.h3 Qa8 15.Bf1 Red8 16.Qb1 Ne8 17.Bc3 Bf6 18.Bxf6 Nxf6 19.b4 dxc4 20.Nxc4 cxb4 21.axb4 b5 22.Nce5 Rc7 23.Nxc6 Bxc6 24.Ne5 Rdc8 25.Nxc6 Rxc6 26.Be2 h6 27.Bf3 Nd5 28.Bxd5 exd5 29.Rxc6 Qxc6 30.Qb3 Qd6 31.Ra1 d4 32.exd4 Qxd4 33.Re1 Rc7 34.Re8+ Kh7 35.Re1 Kg6 36.Re3 Rc1+ 37.Kh2 Qf4+ 38.Rg3+ Kh7 39.Qb2 g6 40.Qe2 Rb1 41.Qe3 Rxb4 42.Qxf4 Rxf4 43.Kg1 a5 44.Kf1 a4 45.Ke2 a3 46.d4 b4 47.Rd3 a2 48.Rd1 0-1

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Pillsbury-Lasker, St. Petersburg 1895-96

Lasker scores a brilliant victory over arch-rival Pillsbury. The players castle on opposite wings, but White loses time with his prematurely developed Queen — time which Black uses to make a profound Rook sacrifice.

Pillsbury - Lasker
St. Petersburg, 1895-96

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Nf3 c5 5. Bg5 cxd4 6. Qxd4 Nc6 7. Qh4

Better is 7. Bxf6, which Pillsbury played with success against Lasker at Cambridge Springs 1904.

7. ... Be7 8. 0-0-0 Qa5 9. e3 Bd7 10. Kb1 h6 11. cxd5 exd5 12. Nd4 0-0 13. Bxf6 Bxf6 14. Qh5

Aiming at a Kingside attack with f2-f4 and g2-g4, but the Queen would be better posted for defensive purposes at f4 or g3.

14. ... Nxd4 15. exd4 Be6 16. f4 Rac8 17. f5 Rxc3! 18. fxe6


Better than 18. bxc3 Qxc3 19. fxe6 (19. Qf3 escapes to an ending, but after 19. … Qb4+ 20. Qb3 Bxf5+ 21. Bd3 Qxb3+ 22. axb3 Bg4, Black has two pawns for the Exchange and a clear advantage) Qb4+ 20. Kc2 (or 20. Ka1 Rc8 21. Qg4 Rc2) 20. ... Rc8+ 21. Kd3 Qxd4+ 22. Ke2 Rc2+ 23. Kf3 Rf2+ 24. Kg3 Qe3+ 25. Qf3 Be5+ 26. Kg4 h5+ and wins.

18. ... Ra3! 19. exf7+

Also insufficient are: i) 19. bxc3 Qb6+ 20. Ka2 Bxd4+ 21. Rxd4 Qxd4+ 22. Kb1 fxe6 23. Be2 Qe4+ 24. Ka1 Rff2 25. Re1 Qd4+ 26. Kb1 Qd2 and wins, and ii) 19. e7 Re8 20. bxa3 Qb6+ 21. Kc2 Rc8+ 22. Kd2 Qc3+ 23. e8=Q+ Rxe8 24. Bd3 Qa5+ 25. Kc1 Rc8+ 26. Bc2 Rxc2+ 27. Kxc2 Qc3+.

19. ... Rxf7 20. bxa3 Qb6+ 21. Bb5

Forced, as 21. Kc2 loses to 21. ... Rc7+ 22. Kd2 Qd4+ 23. Ke1 Qc3+ 24. Rd2 Re7+ 25. Be2 Bg5.

21. ... Qxb5+ 22. Ka1 Rc7 23. Rd2 Rc4 24. Rhd1 Rc3 25. Qf5 Qc4 26. Kb2 Rxa3 27. Qe6+ Kh7 28. Kxa3

A bit more tenacious was 28. Kb1, but Black is still winning after 28. ... Bxd4 29. Qf5+ g6 30. Qf7+ Bg7 31. Qxb7 Ra4.

28. ... Qc3+, White resigns

Thursday, March 6, 2008

How much is enough?

A moderately obscure rule which has come up a few times recently is that of insufficient material. This is really two different questions – insufficient material to continue the game, and insufficient material to win on time.

Insufficient material to continue the game is fairly straightforward. If the position is such that neither player can checkmate by any possible sequence of legal moves, the game is immediately drawn. The obvious example of this is King versus King, but it also covers things like a King and pawn ending with a locked pawn chain preventing either side from penetrating. The FIDE rule says just that (“… neither player can checkmate the opponent’s King with any series of legal moves”). The USCF rule also says this in 14D4, but for reasons which escape me it specifies King versus King (14D1), King and minor piece versus King (14D2), and King and Bishop versus King and Bishop of the same color (14D3). These are obviously redundant, unless perhaps the author feared that some of his readers would not realize that they couldn’t checkmate with a Knight.

Insufficient material to win on time is a bit more complicated. Here the FIDE and USCF rules differ significantly. The FIDE rule says that the game is drawn if the player whose flag falls “cannot checkmate (the opponent’s) King by any by any possible series of legal moves, even with the most unskilled counterplay.” This is simple and easy to understand, but has the drawback that a player might be worse off for having more material. Consider, for example, King and Queen versus King and Knight. If White’s flag falls, the game is drawn, since there is no possible way to construct a checkmate for Black. But give White an extra Rook and two pawns, and he could lose on time under the FIDE rule.

The USCF rule is longer. Whether it’s better is a good question. It specifies three cases in which a player may not win on time: 1) lone King, 2) King and minor piece and the player “does not have a forced win,” and 3) King and two Knights, opponent has no pawns, and – again – the player “does not have a forced win.” Now, this wording was clearly intended to disallow “helpmates,” and it does accomplish that – but it creates other difficulties. In the first place, it’s not entirely logical, since it’s hard to argue that it would take worse play to lose with Queen, Rook and two pawns versus lone Knight than with Queen versus a blocked pawn on the second rank. The other problem is the “forced win” clause. It’s necessary in order to deal with positions like the one in the diagram, as otherwise Black could make a draw by refusing to move. But it brings back the nasty specter of TD adjudication, which should have no place in serious chess.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Zukertort-Blackburne, London 1883

A striking combination by Zukertort, perhaps the best of the “old school” masters. After his defeat by Steinitz in 1886, it became clear that Steinitz’s positional theories had brought a new aspect to the game.

Zukertort – Blackburne
London, 1883

1. c4 e6 2. e3 Nf6 3. Nf3 b6 4. Be2 Bb7 5. 0-0 d5 6. d4 Bd6 7. Nc3 0-0 8. b3 Nbd7 9. Bb2 Qe7

More prudent was 9. ... a6, preserving the important dark-squared Bishop.

10. Nb5 Ne4 11. Nxd6 cxd6 12. Nd2 Ndf6 13. f3 Nxd2 14. Qxd2 dxc4 15. Bxc4 d5

Now both sides have a “bad” Bishop. White plans to advance in the center with e3-e4, while Black pins his hopes on the c-file.

16. Bd3 Rfc8 17. Rae1 Rc7 18. e4 Rac8 19. e5 Ne8 20. f4 g6 21. Re3 f5 22. exf6 Nxf6 23. f5 Ne4 24. Bxe4 dxe4 25. fxg6 Rc2 26. gxh7+ Kh8 27. d5+ e5


Now it seems that White must lose a piece, but the active White Rooks, the exposed position of the Black King, and the strong Bishop on b2 provide the basis for an “overloading” combination.

28. Qb4! R8c5

On 28. ... Qxb4 29. Bxe5+ Kxh7 30. Rh3+ Kg6 31. Rf6+ Kg5 32. Rg3+, Black will soon be mated.

29. Rf8+ Kxh7 30. Qxe4+ Kg7 31. Bxe5+ Kxf8 32. Bg7+ Kg8 33. Qxe7, Black resigns

Advice to organizers

Sevan Muradian of Chicago has started a new blog aimed at organizers and directors. I don't agree with all of his opinions (e.g., his preference for one-day tournaments), but his practical advice is pretty good.