Monday, December 31, 2007
Sicilicide or Suicide? Treger - Charbonneau, Marshall CC Ch. 2007
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Documentary Portraits of Chess Professionals
The Anand film is a typical surface portrait of a "sports star," as befits India's latest national hero. He comes across as a very affable fellow and there are some amusing stories, including one where Anand relates a conversation he had with an older stranger on a train who asked him what he did for a living. When Anand told him he played chess, the man was at first incredulous, then tried to convince him that he should really consider a much more stable profession. "After all," he said, "it's not like you are Vishy Anand!"
Fasolo's film is more meditative than the Anand piece and tries to achieve more depth and more aesthetic engagement. It is in both English and Italian (with English subtitles), and mixes black and white and color footage. It opens and closes with a Borges poem about chess and in between mostly shows the talking heads of players reflecting on various topics, from how they learned the game (most from their fathers) to how they have all suffered from their losses. There are some nice moments, including a musical interlude which shows scenes from the Olympiad, amusing footage of Ivanchuk pulling at his bushy eyebrows throughout a game, and some discussion of women and chess. I would have liked to see more reflection on what it is like to be a professional player, but I predict we will see a film along those lines in the not too distant future. Meanwhile, Fasolo's effort is very much worth seeing, and you can download a high-quality MP4 version from the his website. (Hat tip to Alexandra Kosteniuk).
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
USCL "Game of the Year" Top 20
The Art of the Game
Rebecca Knapp Adams's "The Art of the Game" (originally in the December issue of Art & Auction) offers a useful primer on collecting chess sets. A more complete chess collecting 101 article can be found at Ciaran Rochford's website. Those just out to browse, like myself, might enjoy a tour of The House of Staunton's Antique Chess Shoppe.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
2007 Holiday Party
John Moldovan, a.k.a. The Chess Coroner, carried the vote (though Howard received a significant percentage), making him our new club president. The other officers elected were: VP Greg Tomkovich, Treasurer and TD Geoff McAuliffe, Secretary Joe Renna, and Webmaster Mike Goeller.
The other important business of the evening was discussion of the Annual Club Championship, set to begin January 17. It was decided that, for the first time in many years, the event should be rated. Otherwise, the event will be the same as last year but with fewer trophies to make up for the rating fee.
I had to leave a little early to pick up a holiday visitor at the airport, but I was able to get in two 5-Minute games with NM Mark Kernighan. They were rather messy affairs but interesting, if only because in both of them Black's king steps out for a walk via d7.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
My wife disagrees...
Find a Sonography school near you
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Kamsky Wins World Cup, Joins World Championship Cycle
News, pictures, notes, and video regarding the final game of the match:
- Sergey Shipov live in Russian at the Tournament website (soon English)
- Peter Doggers at Chess Vibes
- Mig at The Daily Dirt
- Dylan Loeb McClain's Gambit weblog of The New York Times
- Chessdom on Kamsky's Victory
- Dennis Monokroussos at The Chess Mind
- Jennifer Shahade at USCF.org
Read more about the history of the World Chess Championship at Mark Weeks's site or in the latest Kibitzer column ("How Many World Champions?" - PDF) by Tim Harding.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Kamsky Leads Shirov 2-1
Kamsky won the second game of the match yesterday. That second game was a very interesting and closely-contested encounter that featured attacks and counter-attacks by both sides and will likely attract much high level commentary. Several sources have already provided extensive annotations to the game, and I will try to add others as they appear:
- Sergey Shipov live at the Tournament website
- Dorian Rogozenko at ChessBase
- Dennis Monokroussos at The Chess Mind
- Peter Doggers at Chess Vibes
- Malcolm Pein in the Telegraph
- Jennifer Shahade at USCF.org
Updated at 11:00 Sunday-- thanks for the corrections and additional links.
Holiday Party Next Week
Thursday, December 13, 2007
KCC Website Stats for 2007
September) site traffic is trending upward.
More detailed blog stats can be seen by clicking on "View My Stats" beneath the StatCounter icon near the bottom of the right-hand nav bar of this blog.
The Chess Coroner also tracks visitors through StatCounter, and John Moldovan reflected on his "Blog Stats" extensively in a September posting. No specific stats are kept for The Center Square or KCC Minutes blogs.
Overall, I think our site is doing great and is probably among the better chess portals on the web. Not bad for an annual investment of $130 or so. Whether or not the website is encouraging attendance or improving membership is tough to judge. My own feeling is that the site helps to stabilize membership but may even lower attendance, especially since members can learn so much about what's happening at the club without showing up. But I'll leave such speculation to others...
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Google Books III
A search for "chess" yields 7840 hits, but the vast majority list "no preview available," "snippet view" (meaning they are searchable but with limited access to the original text), or "limited preview." Only those books very much out of copyright are available in full text. These include Philidor's Chess Analyzed and The Elements of Chess, Staunton's Chess Player's Companion and Chess Praxis, Steinit'z Modern Chess Instructor, Bird's Chess History and Reminiscinces, Walker's Chess and Chess Players, and Edge's The Exploits and Trimphs...of Paul Morphy. As this brief list suggests, there are many joys for the chess historian or antiquary who now has easy access to texts he could previously have seen only by visiting the Special Collections of some inaccessible library. Those interested in free access to the latest opening theory will have to buy some books. But those interested in history and knowledge will find some occasional free treats, such as:
- James and Timbrell Pierce's book on The Pierce Gambit (1888) which analyzes their line in the Vienna opening 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.f4 exf4 4.Nf3 g5 5.d4 g4 6.Bc4! etc.
- Franklin Knowles Young's The Major Tactics of Chess: A Treatise on Evolutions, which tries to analyze tactical themes using mathematical formulas.
- Elijah Williams's The Souvenir of the Bristol Chess Club which contains 100 games, many at odds.
- You can also browse the nearly 700 pages of the American Chess Magazine (1898 - PDF), which is like a window into chess of 110 years ago, complete with annotated games, reports, short stories, feature articles, problems, and other materials that have otherwise inaccessible. The out-of-copyright player portraits alone are a boon to internet chess publishers. You can also find a year each of The Chess Journal and British Chess Journal.
Among the books with limited preview, there are also some nice things. Dover Books editions will sometimes have quite extensive previews. These include:
- Zurich International Chess Tournament, 1953 by David Bronstein, which offers the full annotations of a number of games (all available at Chessgames.com for easy reference).
- Practical Chess Endings by Irving Chernev offers a number of examples (in English Descriptive).
- Rubinstein's Chess Masterpieces by Hans Kmoch, which includes his complete notes to Rotlewi-Rubinstein, Lodz 1907.
In the end, anyone who trolls through Google Books in search of chess will know that the concept's promise is much greater than what it currently delivers. I'll have to check back next year to see if they have managed to make any more progress toward that goal.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
A Saemisch Surprise vs. the Alekhine Defense
You will find 5.Ba3!? mentioned in several books (including Lev Alburt's classic The Alekhine for the Tournament Player), but it is unlikely that your opponent has had to face it over the board. I know that almost everyone I play it against on ICC takes a very long pause at this point. White's idea is to inhibit Black's natural development: he will need some preparation to play ...c5 or ...e6. Play might return to normal Saemisch positions, but Black has to think on his own a bit and both sides have a lot of room for originality. The Saemisch Attack was a favorite of Mikhail Tal's, and his games with it sparked my interest many years ago, so I include some classic Tal attacks with it in my notes. Tal was not always successful with the Saemisch because he often played it a bit too speculatively, as in our first game (from the first round of the 1988 National Open against an Expert level opponent) and in a 1988 simul game against Swami Shankaranda I came across online (though the opening was hardly to blame in either case). If you like the Saemisch Attack and want to learn more, I know of a couple good resources. The best, in my view, is an article on Alekhine Defense Sidelines from Leonid's New Archive, which includes quite a few games in PGN format. Nigel Davies has also written about some of these lines in Gambiteer I (Everyman 2007), but his main focus is on Keres's preferred 3.Nc3 Nxc3 4.dxc3!? striving for speedy development rather than the central dominance that follows 4.bxc3. FM David Levin has some interesting analysis of the line 1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Nd5 3. Nc3 e6 4. Nxd5 exd5 5. Qf3 Nc6!? -- which I mention in my analysis.
I think the Saemisch Attack makes a good fit with other dark-square systems I have written about here, including The Grand Prix with a3, The Caveman Caro-Kann, The Apocalypse Attack, The Simplified Pirc, and The Paulsen Petroff. Taken together, these practically constitute a 1.e4 repertoire, to which I might some day add the French Wing Gambit (1.e4 e6 2.Nf3 d5 3.e5 c5 4.b4!? -- also discussed in Gambiteer I), and maybe some lines of the Giuoco Piano and Two Knights Defense. And, if you like dark square systems, you might be interested in the Stonewall Attack, which is practically a repertoire in itself.