Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Marshall - Burn, Paris, 1900

In his autobiography, Marshall, perhaps tongue in cheek, attributes his victory in this game to the fact that it didn’t last long enough for Burn to light his beloved pipe.

Marshall - Burn
Paris, 1900


1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Be7 5. e3 0-0 6. Nf3 b6 7. Bd3 Bb7 8. cxd5 exd5 9. Bxf6 Bxf6 10. h4

White now threatens the well-known sacrifice 11. Bxh7+ Kxh7 12. Ng5+, and if 12. ... Bxg5 13. hxg5+ and the Rook joins the fray.

10. ... g6 11. h5 Re8 12. hxg6 hxg6 13. Qc2 Bg7


14. Bxg6! fxg6 15. Qxg6 Nd7 16. Ng5 Qf6 17. Rh8+, Black resigns

For 17. ... Kxh8 18. Qh7 is mate.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Westwood Winter Open final

GM Melikset Khachiyan swept the field to take clear first with 5-0. In the last three rounds, he defeated John Daniel Bryant, IM Enrico Sevillano, and Garush Manukyan.

GM Melikset Khachiyan - Garush Manukyan
Westwood Winter Open, Los Angeles 2009
C13 FRENCH DEFENSE, Alekhine-Chatard Attack

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e6 3. e4 d5 4. Bg5 Be7 5. e5 Nfd7 6. h4 Bxg5 7. hxg5 Qxg5 8. Nh3 Qe7 9. Nf4 Nc6 10. Qg4 g6 11. 0–0–0 b6 12. Bb5 Bb7 13. Ncxd5 exd5 14. Nxd5 Qd8 15. e6 fxe6 16. Bxc6 Bxc6 17. Qxe6+ Kf8 18. Qxc6 1–0

Taking clear second with 5-1 was Expert Takashi Kurosaki. Sevillano, Manukyan, and master Robert Akopian tied for third with 3.5-1.5. In the Reserve (U1800) section, top-rated Ernesto Soto took first place with 4.5-.5, followed at 3.5-1.5 by Richard Varela and Babken Krbashian. Click here for complete standings.

Prize winners

Open: 1st: GM Melikset Khachiyan, 5-0; 2nd: Takashi Kurosaki, 4-1; 3rd: IM Enrico Sevillano, Garush Manukyan, 3.5-1.5; U2200: Robert Akopian, 3.5-1.5; U2000: Remigio Pampliega, 2.5-2.5; Gautam Nipanikar, Carl Bolm, Alicia Narducci, 2-3.

Reserve (U1800): 1st: Ernesto Soto, 4.5-.5; 2nd & U1600: Richard Varela, Babken Krbashian, 3.5-1.5; U1400 & U1200: David Yang, Hongyu Chen, 3-2.

Westwood Winter Open

This G/40 tournament at the Los Angeles Chess Club saw a decent turnout of 37. After three rounds, GM Melikset Khachiyan leads the Open sectiopn with 3-0, followed at 2.5 by IM Enrico Sevillano, master Garush Manukyan, and Expert Joshua Gutman. In the Reserve (U1800) section, the only player with 3-0 is Hongyu Chen, at 922 the lowest rted player in the tournament! Click here for standings.

William Pennucci (2104) – GM Melikset Khachiyan (2593)

Westwood Winter Open, Los Angeles 2009


1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. c4 Bg7 4. Nc3 d5 5. Qb3 dxc4 6. Qxc4 0–0 7. e4 Nc6 8. e5 Nd7 9. Bg5 Nb6 10. Qd3 f6 11. exf6 exf6 12. Be3 Nb4 13. Qd2 Bf5 14. Rc1 c6 15. Be2 Re8 16. 0–0 N4d5 17. Nxd5 Nxd5 18. Bc4 Bg4 19. Ne1 Be6 20. Bxd5 Bxd5 21. b3 Qd7 22. Nd3 Rad8 23. Nf4 Bf7 24. Rfe1 Bf8 25. Qc3 g5 26. Ne2 Bd5 27. Ng3 Qf7 28. Re2 h5 29. Rce1 h4 30. Nf1 h3 31. g3 Qh5 32. Nd2 Bf3 33. Qc4+ Kg7 34. Kf1 a5 35. Qd3 Bb4 36. Rd1 Bxe2+ 37. Qxe2 Qxe2+ 38. Kxe2 Rxd4 0–1

Joel Banawa (2409) – Joshua Gutman

Westwood Winter Open, Los Angeles 2009


1. Nf3 d5 2. d4 Nf6 3. e3 g6 4. b4 Bg7 5. Bb2 0–0 6. Be2 Bg4 7. Nbd2 a5 8. b5 Nbd7 9. c4 c6 10. bxc6 bxc6 11. 0–0 Re8 12. h3 Bxf3 13. Bxf3 e5 14. cxd5 cxd5 15. dxe5 Nxe5 16. Be2 Rb8 17. Bd4 Nc6 18. Nf3 Nxd4 19. Nxd4 Ne4 20. Nc6 Qd6 21. Nxb8 Nc3 22. Qd3 Nxe2+ 23. Qxe2 Bxa1 24. Rxa1 Qxb8 25. Qd2 Qb5 26. Rd1 Rd8 27. Qd4 Qb4 28. e4 Qxd4 29. Rxd4 Kf8 30. exd5 Ke7 31. Kf1 Kd6 32. Rh4 h5 33. Rf4 f5 34. Ra4 Ra8 35. Rd4 Kc5 36. Rd2 Rd8 37. Ke2 Rxd5 38. Rxd5+ Kxd5 39. Kd3 g5 40. g3 a4 41. a3 g4 42. h4 Ke5 43. Ke3 f4+ 44. Kd3 0–1

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A weasel slinks by

In a followup to this post, FIDE has decided not to penalize Ivanchuk for his refusal to be drug-tested after his last-round loss at the Olympiad.

Decision of the FIDE Doping Hearing Panel (English)

January 21 2009 - FIDE

Drug testing is still relatively rare in chess. However, it does occur in various official events and was carried out during the course of the Dresden Olympiad. Unfortunely, a high proportion of the tests were scheduled during the last round and there was a lack of personnel, which lead to a procedural error: there was not a designated Doping Control Officer present at this match (USA v Ukraine).

After losing a crucial game for his country, Mr Ivanchuk was distraught. The Hearing Panel concludes that although the arbiter attempted to inform Mr Ivanchuk in English that he should accompany him for a doping test, Mr Ivanchuk apparently failed to understand the instructions, especially since English is not Mr Ivanchuk’s first language. If there had been a Doping Control Officer present, he would have immediately gone to Mr Ivanchuk’s board and there would have been communication between him and Mr Ivanchuk. In that case the outcome might have been different. Because there was no notification by the Doping Control officer, there was no refusal in the sense of the regulations.

The Conclusion:

The procedural error allied with Mr Ivanchuk’s state of mind led him unintentionally to miss the test. The Hearing Panel therefore concludes unanimously that there should be no penalty. (Link is here.)

I suppose it's hardly fair to volunteer someone else for martyrdom, but it's unfortunate that this decision will probably return the top players to their usual state of supine acceptance. A ruling against Ivanchuk might have woken the players up to the fact that the problem is not abuse of the policy. It's the existence of the policy.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The lost art of compromise

Recently Brian Lafferty, of all people, made a sensible comment on the USCF Forums. He wrote, "The best negotiated settlement leaves each side feeling that they did not get what they wanted, but got what they could live with." He continued, "I haven't seen anything other than posturing from Polgar and Truong." That's quite true. Of course, he neglected to add that same was true of the other side. What was that business about motes and beams?

Is a negotiated settlement possible? Yes. Is it likely? Not unless some very narrow minds get changed. Here's a modest proposal.

1) Everyone agrees to drop all lawsuits against the USCF or any sitting Board members. If the various parties want to sue anyone else, they won't get much respect from me, but it won't be the USCF's problem. Frivolous litigation is one of the hazards of modern city life, along with muggers, crack dealers and bureaucrats.

2) The "Ins" accept that Polgar and Truong are going to serve out their terms. They were duly elected, and there is no special clause in OMOV requiring that one side always gets to win.

3) The "Ins" agree to remove the logjam on the USCF Forum which has shielded Sam Sloan and Brian Lafferty from the one-year suspensions they long ago earned. It's time to stop coddling useful idiots.

4) The "Outs" (Polgar and Truong) accept that the USCF is not going to stop people from criticizing them. If you can't take it, stay out of politics. They also accept that the majority rules. If they want to win votes, they'll have to persuade people to vote with them or elect people who agree with them.

5) Polgar apologizes to to Kronenberger Burgoyne. Of course this will be galling, but suing the attorney was an incredibly stupid move for which Polgar must pay the price. And without this, Kronenberger, whose interests are not identical to those of the USCF, has no incentive not to litigate her into the ground.

5) Polgar and Gregory Alexander accept that they must take their chances with the criminal investigation of their alleged e-mail hacking. If they're innocent, they have nothing to worry about.

6) Both sides accept that their opponents do not have a monopoly on arrogance or self-righteousness.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Tarrasch - Marco, Vienna, 1898

Siegbert Tarrasch was the great explicator of Steinitz’s theories, but the dogmatic certainty with which he expounded them provoked the Hypermodern reaction of the 1920’s. Tarrasch rejected those elements of Steinitz uncongenial to his style (e.g. defense of cramped but sound positions), but in the exploitation of a space advantage and the use of active pieces he had few peers.

Tarrasch - Marco
Vienna, 1898


1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. d4 Be7 6. Bd3 Nf6

Usual is 6. ... d5, maintaining the Knight at e4. The move selected by Black leads to a solid but passive position, not happy choice against Tarrasch.

7. 0-0 0-0 8. h3

A player with a space advantage should avoid exchanges (contrariwise, a player with a cramped position should seek to free himself by exchanging pieces), and so White prevents the exchange of the Bc8.

8. ... Be6 9. c4 c6 10. Ng5 Na6 11. Nc3 Nc7 12. f4 h6 13. Nf3

There would be no point in capturing the Be6, as White will soon play f4-f5 and g2-g4, leaving the Bishop with little scope.

13. ... Qc8 14. Qc2 Rb8

Instead, 14. ... d5 15. c5 b6 16. b4 a5 17. Na4 leads to a different but not much better pawn structure.

15. f5 Bd7 16. Bf4 b5 17. b3 c5 18. d5 b4 19. Ne2 a5 20. g4

White has the initiative, and so his pawn advances support an attack, while Black’s pawn on h6 only invites the opening of file by a later g4-g5.

20. ... Nh7 21. h4 Qd8 22. Bg3 a4

At last Black succeeds in opening a line for counterplay, but his pieces lack sufficient mobility to support the Rook.

23. Kh1 Ra8 24. Rae1 Ne8 25. Nf4 Bf6


26. Ne6!

The decisive breakthrough. The Knight cannot very well be captured, e.g. i) 26. ... fxe6 27. fxe6 Bc8 28. Bxh7+ Kh8 29. g5 Be7 30. Qg6 wins; ii) 26. ... Bxe6 27. fxe6 g6 28. exf7+ Rxf7 29. Bxg6 Re7 30. Rxe7 Qxe7 31. Re1, with great advantage to White.

26. ... axb3 27. axb3 Qb6 28. Nxf8 Kxf8 29. g5 hxg5 30. hxg5 Nxg5

Or 30. ... Bxg5 31. f6 g6 32. Bxg6 fxg6 33. Qxg6 and Black must lose a piece.

31. Qh2 Kg8 32. Nxg5 Bxg5 33. f6 g6 34. Bxg6, Black resigns

Monday, January 12, 2009

Just when you thought it was safe ...

... Another USCF election crawls out of the ooze. This year, there are eleven candidates for four slots. Things could change later, but here are my views at the starting gate.

Mostly Harmless

Mike Atkins: Class A player, very active TD in the Maryland-Virginia area. He looks like the best bet this year. There's an interview with him by Elizabeth Vicary here.

Jim Berry: Incumbent EB member. Organizer and TD from Oklahoma. Not to be confused with Frank Berry, though since they’re twin brothers this is sometimes easy to do. It’s true he’s running for re-election, but he’s only been on the Board for a year and a half, and seems to have done a satisfactory job. He probably deserves the chance at a full term.

Ruth Haring: Depending on how long you’ve been around, you may know her as Ruth Orton or Ruth Biyiasas. WIM, active player, very impressive resume. Not much experience in chess organization, but she’s a new face with no obvious ties to the mutually hostile factions which have been making so much trouble. A throw of the dice, but I’ll probably end up voting for her.

If you must vote for someone

Mike Nietman: Scholastic organizer, active in the “Scholastic Council." Not exactly a plus for me, but he’s also been a real player and tournament director in the past. Comes across well in person, and has had the good sense not to get into on-line spitting matches. Worth considering.

Bill Goichberg: I wish I could rank Bill higher, but I can’t. He’s running for re-election, always a negative in my book (the desire disqualifies one). He’s a controversial figure, and his continued presence on the Board will do nothing to reduce the internecine quarrels that have wasted so much time and money. And, by the time the election rolls around, he will have been USCF President or ED for 5 1/2 of the last six years. That’s plenty of time to accomplish what he set out to do. (I don’t buy the “indispensable man” argument.) Bill has done as good a job with the thankless position of USCF President as anyone could have under the circumstances. He has served honorably. Now it’s time for him to step aside honorably.

Mikhail Korenman did an excellent job with the “Karpov Chess School” in Lindsborg, Kansas (featured in National Geographic), but he abandoned the project when he moved to Chicago shortly afterward. His subsequent activities have been less impressive, including an abortive project to raise grant money for the USCF. He ran in 2007, and didn’t really seem to care whether he won. I’m puzzled as to why he’s doing it again.

Eric Hecht: A rich guy, who divides his time between New York and Florida. Not entirely without experience (he’s currently treasurer of the Marshall Chess Club), but his main claim to fame is being one of Blas Lugo’s sponsors for the Miami Open (see below). As such, he shares at least some of the blame. Vote for him if you like, but I suspect you’ll regret it.

Glue Factory

Brian Mottershead: Probably the best of this group, but that’s not saying much. He does have some playing experience back in the 80s, but he spent the next couple of decades working in Europe. Upon his return in 2007, he was recruited to assist with the redesign of the USCF Forums, which he did fairly well. He soon made it clear, however, that he considered himself qualified to make pronouncements on law (though he is not a lawyer), publishing (though he is not a publisher), and tournament directing (though he has never directed a tournament). He reminds me of some people I knew in college, but they generally grew out of it by their sophomore year. In my opinion, he’s a pompous, conceited twit, who would make a very bad Board member.

Blas Lugo is an IM living in Florida. A couple of years ago, he decided to jump-start big-money chess in the area with the Miami Open. So far, so good. However, his reach exceeded his grasp, and in September 2008 he reneged on the prize fund he had guaranteed. They had advertised “$100,000 based on 650, 70% guaranteed,” but then decided to pay out only 50% “because of the hurricane.” Not because there was a hurricane in progress, mind you, but because the possibility of a hurricane might have scared people away. One would assume that the organizers knew of the hurricane season before they scheduled the tournament. That the organizer did this is disgraceful. That the ED allowed it is worse, but that’s a subject for another day. If you’ve ever played in a tournament and expected to receive your prize, don’t vote for this guy.

Sam Sloan: Perpetual candidate. Serial litigant. Ratbag of note. Sloan has been a sleazy but colorful figure on the tournament scene for decades. He’s run for the Board many times. In the days before OMOV, when the voters actually knew who he was, he generally had trouble breaking two figures. In 2006, an off-year election in which several candidates split the sane-people vote, he got elected to a one-year term, and proceeded to make a fool of himself and a laughingstock of the USCF with his weekly paranoid fantasies. After being tossed out in 2007, he filed a lawsuit demanding a re-run of the election. Anyone who votes for him this time should be ashamed of himself. If you want to cast a protest vote, write in Mickey Mouse. He’d do a better job.

Brian Lafferty joined the USCF for the first time less than two years ago. He has played fewer than 20 rated games in his life (Class E with a sinker). He has never organized or directed a tournament. Nevertheless, he considers himself qualified to sit on the USCF’s Executive Board. He’s a former lawyer (oh yes he is, he misses no opportunity to boast of it), a former Administrative Law Judge (something most people would be reluctant to admit), and an all-around officious busybody. He’s violently hostile to Susan Polgar and Paul Truong, but there’s no particular reason to think this is based on conviction, since he’s violently hostile to almost everyone. It takes a lot to rank below Sam Sloan, especially since Sam has had decades to prove himself a dolt; Brian did it in mere months. If you want to cast another protest vote, try Donald Duck. He and Lafferty have much in common.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Morphy – Allies, Paris 1858

The story goes that the Duke of Brunswick and Count Isouard invited Morphy to the opera one night and then asked him to play a game of chess, which the courteous Morphy could hardly refuse. Then they seated him with his back to the stage. Morphy, who wanted to watch the show, demolished them in record time.

Morphy – Allies
Paris, 1858

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 d6

A defense recommended by Phi­l­idor, but the point of it is to retain a pawn on e5 at all costs. If Black plans to exchange pawns, he's cramping himself and gaining nothing in return.

3. d4 Bg4?! 4. dxe5 Bxf3

The pin was not a true defense of the e5 pawn, for if 4. ... dxe5 5. Qxd8+ Kxd8 6. Nxe5.

5. Qxf3 dxe5 6. Bc4 Nf6 7. Qb3 Qe7

White’s seventh move attacked both f7 and b7; now Black would answer 8. Qxb7 with 8. ... Qb4+, saving the Rook on a8. Morphy wants more than an extra pawn in an endgame ...
8. Nc3 c6 9. Bg5 b5 10. Nxb5 cxb5 11. Bxb5+ Nbd7 12. 0-0-0 Rd8

Now the Black Kingside is hopelessly tied up, and White needs only the bring his last piece (the Rook at h1) into play.

13. Rxd7 Rxd7 14. Rd1 Qe6

Defending the Rook on d7 again by breaking the pin on the Knight at f6. Now White would win eventually by trading Queens and recapturing his piece on d7, but he has a better idea ...


15. Bxd7+ Nxd7 16. Qb8+! Nxb8 17. Rd8 mate

While many of Black's moves may look naive to modern eyes, it is amusing to note that Edward Lasker mentioned that he won the same game at least twice in simuls.

Sunday, January 4, 2009