Monday, March 26, 2012

Meeting the ICC Stars

Yaacov Norowitz is a New York based Senior Master who has ridiculously high ratings on ICC and a bit of a cult following among East Coast chess fans. His website is here: . I've never met him, but we did play an interesting game on ICC recently. He outplayed me throughout, but I followed my typical ICC strategy of bailing out into a lost rook ending and looking for chances. Even against one of the top players on the net, this strategy worked out when he played (is there a rule that all chess websites have to use the word "uncorked") Re5?? in the position below, allowing a nice tactic.

Considering the time control, I still had to be somewhat careful to draw, even ahead in material.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Sicilian Exercise

Although I started my chess life playing sharp e4 openings, like the King's Gambit I never bothered to learn the main lines of the Sicilian. I played the closed Sicilian at most opportunities and occasionally tried out 2. c3. In high school I mostly switched over to closed openings and left the Sicilian behind except for an occasional experiment with black (I drew FM Andrew Karklins, but also drew a seven year old). Nowadays I'm usually afraid to venture into these waters in high stakes games, but I occasionally use the Sicilian to get some calculation practice in training games. This was the case today when I played a G/30 against a friend. As one might expect from someone without Sicilian experience, I got a good position out of the opening, but had no feel for how to play the attack and made an unsound sacrifice. With both players getting low on time, I reached the above position with white to move. Before scrolling down you may want to ask yourself, "What would you play and What's the evaluation of the position"

Did you try to figure out the answer?

No, seriously... Did you?

I figured that I was probably lost thanks to the extra material and some issues with the back rank. Fortunately, there weren't a lot of choices for this move so the decision wasn't too hard. I had to prevent Qf1+, which would trade into a winning endgame for black. This left the only playable move as Bxb5+! I was actually able to win after 1...axb5 2. Qd7+ Kxg6?? 3. Rg2+ and black resigned due to an upcoming checkmate. The most interesting variation occurs after 2... Kf8 (although Kf6 is even playable. I think black should be better with precise play, but it's a complicated position after 3. Qxd6+ Kg8 4. Qe7 (threatening Qh7+, g7) Rf1+ 5. Nd1 Bxe4! Black can combine attack and defense. 6. Qh7+ Kf8 7.g7+ Ke7 8. g8=Q+ Bxh7. The resulting position is better for black, but I'm not sure whether it's actually winning. Either way, I'm glad that my opening usually don't make me solve this sort of problems. Doing this every day would just be too much stress.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

White to Move and Win

World Championship candidate Gelfand missed a cool win here. Can you find it?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Chess is Hard

I was going to post earlier this week about where my opponent missed a win in his pawn up endgame at the last DC Chess League match. I actually was not able to come up with any definitive conclusions, so I'm just posting the game with a few notes. I'd be interested to see any thoughts on where white may have gone wrong. Dig in:

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Long Night at the Office

What is the best move for white?

Last night's DC Chess League match was a home game, so it was literally at the Office. I looked up my opponent, Andrew Samuelson, before the game and found some improvements on his previous games in the database. Unfortunately, his improvement came on move 5 and I started killing lots of clock time on mediocre moves. After I played 14... b6?, reaching the diagram above, the position became critical. Once the opponent fixed my weakness with 15. Ra6! I realized that I was going to lose the a-pawn by force because while can quickly get three pieces to the a-file.

Somewhat to my surprise, the game still had 57 moves left at this point, but I'm still in the early stages of figuring out just what was going on. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I Should Make All My Classes Watch This

D'Angelo manages to teach the whole game in three minutes. I wish I could do that.

Picture's by Steve Leiber. What are citation guidelines for a blog?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Missed This in a Blitz Game

I managed to win this one anyway, but it was a shame to have missed a nice tactic for black here. You can post a solution in the comments.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Combining Work and Pleasure

Over the winter I worked on coming up with a lot of lessons for students who had been doing chess for at least a couple of semesters already. One of these lessons was inspired by the famous game Polugaevsky-Tal, where the great world champion was undone by an inspired performance ( ). Polugaevsky claimed afterwards that the position after move 25 of that game was on his analysis board the day before. When I turned this game into a lesson, I knew it was too long for one class period, so I found a game where black fell into the mating attack instead of almost managing to defend like Tal did.

While unwinding last night I played a blitz game on ICC against GM Suat Atalik, the number two player from Turkey. Previously my ICC record against him was +1, -7, =3, so my expectations weren't too high. He took the game into one of his tournament openings, the Semi-Tarrasch defense, the same line as my Polugaevsky-Tal lesson. I actually forgot to play one move from the opening, giving me a slightly worse version of Polugaevsky's attack. With what turned out to be one inconsequential rook move missing for each side, GM Atalik and I followed my lesson plan perfectly. He even made the same mistake that I had inserted into my lesson plan to allow a quick mate.

Next time I teach this lesson it will be my game, instead of a GM game, but otherwise it will be basically unchanged. Enjoy:

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Guest Column

My Silver Knights coworker and the highest scoring member of our Amateur East team, Justin Burgess was kind enough to annotate one of his games from that event. Justin had black and his 17th move belongs in tactics books.