Friday, May 30, 2008

FM Tom Bartell Simul at KCC

Max Sherer (foreground) seems to be practicing
for his own simuls as he awaits Bartell's move.

NM Mark Kernighan (left, playing Black) won a
marathon Q v R ending against Bartell

New Jersey FM Tom Bartell finished +10 =2 -1 in a simultaneous exhibition last night at the Kenilworth Chess Club. The Chess Coroner -- club president John Moldovan -- has posted all of the games online in Java replay and zipped PGN format. Both John and I took early draws (I achieved a winning position with my Left Hook Grand Prix with a3 line -- proving that Tom should read my blog more often!) while club champion NM Mark Kernighan kept the former NJ Open champion (2004 and 2005) late into the evening with a marathon Queen versus Rook ending. We joked that Mark was sure working hard to get back $10, but if you play over that game you might understand that the victory was well deserved and worth the effort.

Bartell - Kernighan
Black to Play and Win

I especially enjoyed Kernighan's method of winning the Rook ending, which is a study in itself. But in the diagram above I should say, "Black to Play and Win -- in almost 50 more moves!" A typical nail-biter for our club champion, who seems to enjoy the challenge of these long and difficult endings.

Despite the loss, Bartell had a good showing. We should also congratulate him for graduating last week from Rutgers University with a B.A. in Sociology. We wish him the best of luck in his job search and in his continuing IM-title hunt.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

FM Tom Bartell in Chicago

Bartell - Ginsburg, Chicago 2008
White to play and win.

I have annotated two nice games by New Jersey FM Tom Bartell from the 11th North American FIDE Invitational in Chicago, May 17-23, where he finished tied for 4th and likely missed an IM norm only due to a last round loss.

Tom will be giving a simultaneous exhibition at the Kenilworth Chess Club on Thursday, May 29, beginning at 8:30 p.m. The cost is $10. More details are available at the KCC Minutes blog.

More information about the North American FIDE Invitational can be found at the North American Chess Association site. Games from the event can be found at the Monroi site and all of Tommy's games at The Chess Coroner's site.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Consultation Game Concludes

I was not able to attend the conclusion of the consultation game, but I see that The Chess Coroner has covered it in "Consultation Conclusion," which includes a Java Replay of the whole game. That was a tough ending to try to win for White, and I'm not surprised we should have lost it. We should have listened to FM Steve Stoyko more often, of course, but I'm glad he let the team dictate the course of things! As always, this was a great club event and I hope our example inspires others.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Latest Low Blow Against Kasparov

I do pride myself on maintaining a family friendly blog here, but this bizarre incident is too shocking to let pass without notice. Go directly to the YouTube video, since you will have to see it to believe it. Truly surreal and almost funny, until you realize that it is an evil Putin trick. According to Mig Greengard, in a comment on one of his blog posts, this was the work of pro-Putin forces out to discredit Kasparov by making him look like a fool. Mig apparently refused to give this more press, however, by making a separate post, though that would have been helpful.

Note: I have corrected my initial post on this subject and hope other bloggers do as well. I have also changed the link. The original video I saw of the event had a misleading translation.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Left Hook Grand Prix with a3

grand prix with a3The Left Hook Grand Prix with a3
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.f4 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.a3

I have posted further analysis of The Left Hook Grand Prix with a3 (1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.f4 g6 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.a3), a subject I have written on before. I am surprised that this Left Hook Grand Prix is not covered in any book, especially now that various other Left Hook opening lines have been receiving positive attention (especially the Left Hook Austrian Attack with 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.f4 Bg7 5.a3!? designed to discourage 5...c5 due to 6.dxc5 Qa5 7.b4 etc., as analyzed in SOS #1, The Carpathian Warrior, Gambiteer I, and The Pirc in Black and White.)

I think of 5.a3 as a high-class waiting move that fits well with any of White's systems, which you can choose based on Black's next move. If Black plays now 5...d6, then White can play 6.Bc4! putting the Bishop on its strongest diagonal, where 5.a3 provides it a nice retreat when the Bishop is attacked by b5 or d5. Play then develops along classic Grand Prix Attack lines, with White typically playing d3, O-O, Qe1-h4 and either f5 or e5 depending on Black's set-up. I like to think of it as the Closed Sicilian with the Bishop on a better diagonal for attack -- and a nice square for the Queen.

grand prix with a3After 5.a3 d6 6.Bc4

If Black plays the more common 5...e6, then White has a nice gambit in 6.b4!? challenging the dark squares. The move is actually more a trap than a gambit, because Black really should not take the pawn: 6...cxb4?! (already a mistake in my view, since it surrenders control over d4) 7.axb4 Nxb4?! 8.Ba3 Nc6 9.Nb5! causes Black no end of grief due to the dark square weaknesses. If then 9...Bxa1? White wins the Queen with 10.Nd6+ Kf8 11.Nxb7+ etc. Best is 9...Bf8 (already a giant concession) 10.Bd6! Bxd6 11.Nxd6+ and White obviously has too much compensation.

grand prix with a3After 5.a3 e6 6.b4

As in the French Wing Gambit (discussed last month), Black's best way of meeting 6.b4 is probably by 6...b6! (a move you will likely encounter only from players rated 2000 and above). But White still has play on the dark squares by e5, Ne4, and Bb2 as shown in an illustrative game.

grand prix with a3After 5.a3 e6 6.b4 b6!

Besides the 6.b4 gambit idea, White also has a good gambit in 6.d4!? which is basically a reversed version of a line in the English known to be quite good for Black. After 6.d4 cxd4 7.Nb5 White either regains his pawn with enhanced central control or gets great compensation with Nd6+ etc.

What I like best about the 5.a3 line is that it continues to be little known to theory despite having been adopted by some high-profile players. So there is a lot of room for improvisation and enterprising play, as the games and analysis demonstrate. It also fits very well with a number of other repertoire suggestions I've been exploring in these pages, including The Caveman Caro-Kann, French Wing Gambit, The Saemisch Surprise vs. the Alekhine, and the Two Knights with d4 for White.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Consultation Game Begins

Position after 9.g4!?N

I have annotated the first 30 moves of the 3rd Annual Consultation Game at the Kenilworth Chess Club, which began May 15 and will conclude May 22. The opening was the Milner-Barry Attack in the Zurich Variation of the Nimzo-Indian Defense (1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 Nc6 5. Nf3 d6 6. Bg5 h6 7. Bd2 O-O 8. O-O-O Qe7) which is rather familiar territory for several members of the club -- especially John Moldovan, who has had the opening position several times before. Our novelty with 9.g4!? led to some interesting play and very good attacking chances for White.

In the end, White won the Exchange for two pawns and had the advantage of an outside passed pawn. It will be interesting to see whether we can make any progress, however, after either 31...Rh6 or 31...Ng4, blockading the h-pawn.

You can see The Chess Coroner's notes from the Black perspective at his blog.

Adjourned Position

Thursday, May 15, 2008

3rd Annual Consultation Game Tonight

The Kenilworth Chess Club holds its 3rd Annual Consultation Game beginning tonight. In previous years, the event has extended over two club meetings. Basically, those wishing to participate divide into two groups and develop their moves in consultation in two different rooms. Usually each team is led by a master player and the game becomes as much a teaching and learning opportunity as a competition. You can read about the 2006 and 2007 events online and play over each game. Both are quite interesting and feature attractive combinations at the end.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Three Years of the Kenilworthian

It was three years ago today that this chess blog began. Over the last 1095 days, I have managed to accumulate quite a large number of posts. Below I have organized the best by category: Bibliographies and Webliographies, Book and Website Reviews, Chess Instruction, Essays and Features, Interviews and Profiles, Chess in Mainstream Media, Computers and Blogging, History, Annotated Games, and Opening Analysis (with listings by opening in alphabetical order, beginning with Alekhine's Defense and ending with the Urusov). In general, I have tried to find a single category for each item but have on occasion decided to cross-list items in more than one category. This is especially the case with my bibliographies related to specific chess openings.

Bibliographies and Webliographies

Book and Website Reviews

Chess Instruction

Essays and Features

Interviews and Profiles

Chess in Mainstream Media
Computers and Blogging


Games Annotated

News and Compiled Links

Opening Analysis

Alekhine's Defense (1.e4 Nf6)
Caro-Kann (1.e4 c6)
English (1.c4)
Four Knights Game (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6)
French Defense (1.e4 e6)
Indian Defenses (1.d4 Nf6)
Italian Game, Evans Gambit, and Two Knights Defense (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 ...)
1...Nc6 (including Nimzovich Defense, Chigorin, and Tango)
Petroff Defense (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6)
Philidor Defense (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6)
Pirc and Modern Defense (1.e4 d6)
Queen's Gambit (1.d4 d5 2.c4)
Queen's Pawn Openings (Torre, Colle, etc.)
Ruy Lopez / Spanish
Scotch Game and Gambit
Sicilian Defense (1.e4 c5)
Vienna Game (1.e4 e5 2.Nc3)
Urusov Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d4)

Thursday, May 08, 2008

What to Send for CJA's "Best Blog"?

The Chess Journalists of America has announced their 2008 Journalism Awards which finally includes a prize for the "Best Blog" devoted to chess:
Category 13
Best Blog
Open to online chess blogs. Send URLs of three best blog entries. Blogs judged on visual appeal, content, and ability to draw constructive comments from readers.
They ask for three representative samples between June 1, 2007 and May 31, 2008, and I'm not sure which to send. Perhaps readers and club members can offer their advice? Here is a breakdown by topic -- including Opening Analysis; Reviews; Essays, Articles, and Interviews; and Annotated Games.

Which do you think the committee would find most worthy? Which did you like best?

Opening Analysis
Mammoth Traps II: Catching the Queen in the French Wing Gambit
Richard Palliser's "Fighting the Anti-Sicilians" and Guseinov's Gambit Refuted?
The Brooklyn Defense
Benjamin's Classical Hippopotamus
Benjamin's Games with the Nimzovich Defense
Sidney Bernstein Plays 1...Nc6
A Saemisch Surprise vs. the Alekhine Defense
Anti-Pierce - 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.f4 Bb4!?
Weeramantry - Bisguier, USATE 2008
Urusov Gambit - A Rare Practical Example of 8...d5 9.O-O-O Be6 10.Nxd5!?
Urusov Gambit Update
Urusov Analysis - 3...Nxe4 4.dxe5 Qh4!?
Urusov Analysis - 5.Qxd4 Qe7?!
Refuting 5...Nxe4 in the Scotch Four Knights
Sicilicide or Suicide? Treger - Charbonneau, Marshall CC Ch. 2007
The Philidor Clamp
Queen's Gambit Declined, Lasker's Defense
Traxler Counter Attack (Wilkes Barre) Webliography
The Spanish Four Knights, Part III

Review of Joel Benjamin's "American Grandmaster"
Review of Dangerous Weapons 1.e4 e5
Richard Palliser's "Fighting the Anti-Sicilians" and Guseinov's Gambit Refuted?
1.d4 Repertoire Books
Paul Hoffman's Attack on Lies in Chess

Essays, Articles, and Interviews
Tim McGrew
Chess Amateurism
Chess Publishing, Web 2.0 Style
Magnetic Sumo Kings
Pawn Battle Rules & Strategies
USATE 2008 Preview
Chess Narratives Exercise
Google Books III
Chess Tourist Returns
Questionnaire Tag

Annotated Games
Jeff Sarwer - Josh Waitzkin, National Primary Ch. 1986
Season Ends for NJ Knockouts with Loss to NY
Knockouts Keep Playoff Hopes Alive by Drawing Kingfishers
NJ Knockouts Stop the Blitz
NJKO - Blitz Preview
NJ Outwitted by Inventors
NJ Knockouts Slay Carolina Cobras
NJ Knockouts Beat NY Knights
NJ KO'd by Queens
NJ Knockouts Draw Kingfishers
New Jersey Knockouts vs. Tennessee Tempo
New Jersey Knockouts vs. Queens Pioneers
Max Sherer at the 2007 NJ Open

Personally, I'm leaning toward Tim McGrew, Review of Joel Benjamin's "American Grandmaster", and Richard Palliser's "Fighting the Anti-Sicilians" and Guseinov's Gambit Refuted? But it is hard to choose. Perhaps instead Mammoth Traps II: Catching the Queen in the French Wing Gambit, Season Ends for NJ Knockouts with Loss to NY, USATE 2008 Preview, Review of Dangerous Weapons 1.e4 e5, or Chess Amateurism? Who knows what they will like?

Maybe I'll post something even better in the next two weeks anyway....

By the way, next week marks the third year that I will have been writing "The Kenilworthian" blog. I will try to develop a list of my best entries, as I did after "A Year of the Kenilworthian" back in May 2006.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Neo-From to King's Gambit

Anyone interested in my last post will want to check out "From Neo-From to King's Gambit: 1.f4 Nc6 2.Nf3 e5!?" by Aaro Jalas, posted today at It covers not only the Neo-From (which can also arise by 1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 Nc6 3.Nf3) but also King's Gambit lines, including the Adelaide Counter-Gambit. You won't have to worry about the Anti-Pierce in this move order, but it sure makes a great repertoire fit.

Anti-Pierce - 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.f4 Bb4!?


I have posted an article on "My Anti-Pierce Defense - 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.f4 Bb4!?" which you are not likely to see mentioned in any book (except for one or two that offer up the poorly contested game Steinitz - Winawer, Baden-Baden 1870 as their reason for rejecting it). I think it is fully viable and provides a nice opening shortcut for anyone who can't bear the thought of wandering into the dark thicket of the Pierce Gambit as Black.

I usually come to this line via transposition from my favorite Adelaide Counter-Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.f4 Nc6!) As the Mjae website points out (see "Le gambit du Roi refuse par 2...Cc6"), White should meet the Adelaide with 3.Nc3! transposing to the Pierce Gambit or Allgaier Gambit, neither of which would likely suit a counter-gambiteer. You can get some sense of how deep the complications of these lines run by looking at Tim Harding's articles: Introduction to the Pierce Gambit, Some Theory of the Pierce Gambit, and Last Rites of the Allgaier Gambit. Scary stuff.

Some may claim that these gambits are "refuted," but I'm not about to spend hours analyzing them both in the dim hope of holding my own over the board against a well-prepared opponent. I have always made it a principle never to play into my opponent's preparation. And, after all, what is the fun of playing a tricky opening shortcut like the Adelaide Counter-Gambit if your opponent can just turn the tables on you? Clearly we must find a way to turn the tables back again! And I think my anti-Pierce line with 1.e4 e5 2.f4 Nc6! 3.Nc3! Bb4! does just that.

I actually started playing the line one day in blitz before analyzing it or looking at games, and it's just as well that I did. As I say, theory has nothing of value to offer and most of the games are far from encouraging since Black plays so poorly. If you look through the database, you'll see some 19th and early 20th Century experiments with the line where Black follows up with a passive ...d6 and allows himself to be over-run in the center (with Bb5 and an eventual d4) or on the kingside (beginning with f5). I think a modern player knows instinctively that the whole point of ...Bb4 is not to strong-point e5 but to play for counter-pressure on the light squares via ...Nf6 and ...d5. Black can also consider a later ...exf4, especially where he can follow it up quickly with pressure in the center. Played this way, I think the opening works -- but you'll have to use the PGN file to do some of your own analysis to feel comfortable with these tricky lines.

After all, though I'd call 3...Bb4 a shortcut, that doesn't mean it isn't complicated.

A move I see quite often in blitz, for example, is the blunder 4.fxe5? when Black gains a winning advantage after 4...Bxc3 5.dxc3 (5.bxc3!? is similar, as discussed in the article) 5...Qh4+ etc. Many players on ICC will simply resign at this point, though I don't think they should. They might at least play 6.Ke2 when either 6...Nxe5 or 6...Qxe4+ wins a pawn and forces the White King to continue his perilous journey, but things are still pretty wild, especially at high speeds. The more wily opponents who fall into this trap, however, will attempt to turn the tables with 6.g3!? Qxe4+ 7.Qe2 Qxh1 (simply 7...Qxe5 is adequate for advantage) 8.Nf3, when Black definitely has to play precisely if he is not to fall victim to a Mammoth Trap.

anti-pierce mammoth trap

Basically, the only way to extricate the Queen is to play the counter-intuitive 8...d5! (or 8...d6) allowing 9. exd6+ (better, actually, is 9. Kf2! Bg4 10. Bg2 Qxh2! when Black remains only the Exchange ahead) 9... Kf8! (not 9... Kd8?? 10. dxc7+ Kxc7 11. Bf4+ Kd8 12. O-O-O+ and Black is lost; interestingly, if White captures 5.bxc3!? earlier, the King has to run the other way with 9...Kd8!) 10. dxc7 Bg4 and White is busted. A rather crooked path, and definitely one you should know well rather than walking blindly along it!

As the present article and my earlier one on "Frankenstein and Dracula Meet the Werewolf" suggest, there is a lot of room in the Vienna for interesting exploration that is not to be found in any book. Other anti-Vienna pieces include "Vienna with Bc4 Busted?" and "More Anti-Vienna."

There are still some areas of uncertainty in the anti-Pierce analysis, which is only natural given that there is so little theory and so few good games to offer guidance. Therefore, take this as a bit of path-breaking that only points us in the right direction. And, if it brings you success in your own games, please send them to me so that I can improve my map of this terra incognito....