Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Albin Counter-Gambit in Question

The Albin Counter-Gambit by Dorian Rogozenco at ChessBase (from CBM #134) offers everything you need as White (including full games and analysis) to learn how to put the onus on Black in this line with 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 d4 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.Nbd2! (see diagram).  As I indicated in The Albin Counter-Gambit with Nge7: Morozevich-Mengarini Variation and Albin Counter Gambit Bibliography, 5.Nbd2 is definitely the most difficult move for Black to meet since it prepares to assail the d-pawn by Nb3 and allows White to meet the fashionable 5....Nge7 (preparing to defend by Nf5) with the forceful 6.Nb3 Nf5 7.e4! dxe3 (7...Nh4!? may be a better try) 8.Qxd8+ Nxd8 (8...Kxd8 9.Bxe3! Nxe3 10.fxe3 += Bilguer!) 9.fxe3 += with an easy endgame advantage as proven in many games.  Interestingly, Rustam Kasimdzhanov fails to mention this possibility in discussing this line on video.  But I think the ball is back in Black's court and I don't see a very good way to proceed.

Friday, February 26, 2010

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 White Repertoire Webliography

I have been developing a 1.e4 e5 White repertoire based on the Italian Game or Giuoco Piano (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4) where White blows open the center with an early d4 (after 3...Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 or the gambit 3...Bc5 4.d4!?) rather than play the "quieter" Giuoco lines with 4.c3 Nf6 5.d3 (which will feature in a repertoire book by John Emms titled Beating 1.e4 e5 due in May from Everyman Chess).  The repertoire also features the aggressive "Duffer's Attack" against the Two Knights (with 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 -- which Seigbert Tarrasch famously labeled a "duffer's move").  I realized the other day that my repertoire could be learned from web sources alone, so I thought I'd take on the challenge of putting together a "1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 White Repertoire Webliography" for anyone who is interested.  I have also listed a few books and other materials for those who want to study these lines more deeply. 

I present the repertoire as a 14-part webliography of sources.  Even if you are not interested in the Giuoco Piano, you may benefit from the recommendations and online resources against the Petroff, Philidor, Latvian, Elephant, and other lines at Black's disposal.  As always, I invite reader comments and additions. 

1. Giuoco Piano Overview (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5)
I recommend learning a few different Giuoco Piano lines to get the maximum enjoyment from the repertoire.  I am personally most interested in the Steinitz-Sveshnikov Attack (4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.e5!?), but I have also enjoyed trying out the Moeller Attack (4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.cxd4 Bb4+ 7.Nc3), Rossolimo Variation (with 7.Bd2), and Max Lange Attack and Gambit (beginning 4.d4!?).  All are lots of fun to play for amateurs and well supported by online sources.  Some of these lines are regarded as "suspect" by GM theory, but all have been used with success by GMs, while amateurs will find them simply deadly against their level of competition.  Those interested in exploring the world of the Giuoco Piano or Italian Game in greater depth might pick up Jan Pinski's Italian Game and Evans Gambit (Everyman 2005) or Jude Acers and George Laven's The Italian Gambit System (Trafford 2003)--the latter of which has a surprising amount of good opening advice to offer amateur players.  I also have Reinhold Ripperger's ChessBase CD on The Giuoco Piano, which has some annotated games and exercises but is probably not worth the investment.  As usual, the web offers everything most amateur players will need to get started: 
  • Beginner's Repertoire at
    The link presents a game collection from with great classic games showing you how to crush people with the Moeller and other Giuoco lines.  It's essentially a complete repertoire in games -- just click your way through them and you get the basic theoretical ideas and tactics.
  • "Don't Shoot the Piano Player!" by Leviathan at
    Another great games collection that serves as an excellent introduction to Giuoco Piano themes and ideas.
  • Exeter Chess Club's The Italian Game for Beginners by Dr. Dave (e-book in PDF)
    Tricks, traps and tactical ideas in the Italian lines, including the Evans, Moeller Attack, and others.  This little e-book makes a great beginner's introduction to Giuoco Piano themes.
  • Swansong of the Giuoco Piano, Part 1 (Kibitzer #64 at ChessCafe) by Tim Harding
  • The Giuoco Piano, Part 2: The Case for the Defence (Kibitzer #65 at ChessCafe) by Tim Harding
  • The Giuoco Piano on Trial, Part 3: The Summing Up (Kibitzer #69 at ChessCafe) by Tim Harding
  • The Giuoco Piano on Trial: White Wins the Case (Kibitzer #70 at ChessCafe) by Tim Harding
  • The Giuoco Piano Revisited (Kibitzer #118 at ChessCafe) by Tim Harding
    This five part series of articles on the Giuoco Piano lines with c3 and d4 for White -- mostly focused on the Moeller Attack and Rossolimo's Bd2 line with only some discussion of others -- gives a great overview to the Giuoco Piano theory and is remarkably pro-White in the final analysis.  In the last article, Harding returns to the Giuoco by way of reviewing Pinski's book, focusing on the critical lines vs the Moeller Attack and the Rossolimo Variation.

1A. The Giuoco Piano, Steinitz-Sveshnikov Attack, a.k.a. "Anderssen Attack" (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.e5!?)
The advance with 6.e5!? secures a space advantage for White and creates opportunities for controlling the dark squares and attacking on the kingside.  First played by Adolf Anderssen, the line was adopted by Wilhelm Steinitz in a few World Championship match games with Lasker (though he later rejected the line in favor of the Moeller Attack), and much later revived with success by the great theoretician Evgeny Sveshnikov.  There really is not much good "book" material on this line, though Pinski or Acers & Laven offer coverage.  Currently I am analyzing Ni Hua's games based on his notes in Mihail Marin's excellent book on the Reggio Emilia tournament.  I think this line is typically underestimated by theory and can be deadly at amateur level.  It also does not risk as much as the gambit lines and is more fun than the Rossolimo.  Those interested in the 7.Be2 line favored by Jobava and other GMs should see GM Alex Fishbein's excellent book on The Scotch Gambit.
1B. The Giuoco Piano, Moeller Attack (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.cxd4 Bb4+ 7.Nc3)
This is a risky line and Black probably keeps a pawn with best play, but you are not going to find too many opponents below 2000 ELO who can prove that over the board.  Besides, these lines are a lot of fun and Black has lots of ways to go wrong.  If an amateur player asked my advice on learning the Moeller Attack, I think I would recommend hunting down a copy of Andy Soltis's fun little book Winning with the Giuoco Piano and the Max Lange Attack (Chess Digest 1996), which presents the material wonderfully for non-experts (though John Nunn questions some of the analysis in his Secrets of Practical Chess).  Due to its historical significance and continuing interest among beginners, there is plenty of material online, especially Tim Harding's articles (cited above) and the following links:

1C. Giuoco Piano, Rossolimo Variation (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.cxd4 Bb4+ 7.Bd2)
The idea of playing the safe 7.Bd2 was revived by U.S. players Nicolas Rossolimo and Edmar Mednis and recently advocated by Roman Dzindzichashvili in some videos and in Chess Openings for White, Explained.  The game Rossolimo-Reissmann, Puerto Rico 1967, is rather inspiring.  Though the resulting trade of Bishops generally eases Black's task, the line still leads to wide open positions with plenty of piece play and chances for both sides.  White accepts an isolated pawn, but this gives him control over the center, especially the c5 and e5 squares.  You will see that theory finds two methods of achieving equality for Black, but that is never the end of the story in amateur games. 
  • Stardust (Opening Lanes #109 at ChessCafe, January 2008) by Gary Lane
    Covers the critical 9...Ne5 against the Moeller Attack and the drawing line 10...Na5 vs. the Rossolimo line with Bd2.
  • Have the Giuoco's Fangs Been Pulled? by Jeremy Silman
    Silman analyzes the lines following 7...Nxe4!? 8.Bxb4 Nxb4 9.Bxf7+ as leading to equality for Black.
  • Khachiyan-Lenderman, Golden State 2010 annotated by Michael Aigner
    Evidence, if any were needed, that this line is still viable at the GM level even today.
  • Sosonko's Corner - Yearbook #91 by Genna Sosonko (download PDF).  Discusses a key improvement in the Giuoco Piano Rossolimo that Roman Dzindzidzachshvili developed with the help of Rybka.  

1D. Max Lange Gambit and Attack (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.d4)
There has been a revived interest in the Max Lange Attack and Max Lange Gambit, due mainly to some excellent analysis published by Lev Gutman and Stefan Bücker in the German chess journal Kaissiber (volumes 22-25 especially).  Much of Gutman and Bücker's analysis is summarized by John Emms in the recent Dangerous Weapons: 1.e4 e5 (Everyman 2008), which I have reviewed in these pages and think is excellent. You can also find lots of material online, including by yours truly:

2. Rousseau Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 f5!?)
This counter-gambit is much trickier than you would expect and must be met vigorously by 4.d4!  See the second part of the McGrew analysis for details.
  • Giuoco Fortissimo: The Rousseau Gambit, Part One by Tim McGrew
  • Giuoco Fortissimo: The Rousseau Gambit, Part Two by Tim McGrew
  • Gambits in Many Dimensions (The Gambit Cartel #13 at ChessCafe) by Tim McGrew
    Despite playing the Black side of this complex line, McGrew offers some excellent and objective analysis demonstrating White's advantage after 4.d4! -- returning to the subject later to add analysis and some philosophical reflections on the value of even "unsound" gambits that create many opportunities for opponents to go wrong.  You actually will not find anything as detailed or useful in the "books" that mention this line.
3. Blackburne Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nd4?!)
Black's idea resembles the Bird Defense to the Ruy Lopez, except that White's Bishop is much better placed on c4 than on b5 once the Knight goes to d4.  White should probably play 4.Nxd4! exd4 (White is up two tempi on the Bird) 5.c3! with a clear advantage.  The quiet alternative 4.c3!? Nxf3+ 5.Qxf3 Qf6 yields White little.  You may be amused, as I was, by the idea of "falling for" the trap after4.Nxe5?!? Qg5 5.Bxf7+ Ke7 6.O-O! and Tim McGrew does the best job of demonstrating White's chances for attack.
  • Blackburne Gambit -- 3...Nd4?! by Adam Bozon
    Best for beginners to know what to do against this, since they will see it sometimes
  • Two Wild Black Systems by Jeremy Silman
    The second part of this article covers 3...Nd4 very well from the White perspective..
  • A Shilling in the Mailbag (The Gambit Cartel #26 at ChessCafe) by Tim McGrew
    Analyzes the response 4.Nxe5(?) Qg5 5.Bxf7+ Ke7 6.O-O! and 5.O-O!? as providing White plenty of interesting play for his piece -- a surprising and fun way to turn the tables on the gambiteer.
  • Reader's Showcase (The Gambit Cartel #25 at ChessCafe) by Tim McGrew
    Maybe the only article I've ever seen to take 3...Nd4 seriously.
Two Knights, Duffer's Attack Overview (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5)
Seigbert Tarrasch may have called it a "Duffer's Move," but 4.Ng5 clearly forces Black to surrender a pawn or suffer a dangerous attack.  In "Duffer's Delight," a writer at the Streatham & Brixton Chess Blog describes some of the reasons why 4.Ng5 is being seen more frequently in GM practice, as computers have helped analysts recognize that even odd-looking ways of winning or holding an extra pawn are difficult to meet.

4.Two Knights, Duffer's Attack, Traxler Counter-Gambit (4.Ng5 Bc5!?)
This may well be the toughest thing Black has against the Duffer's Attack with 4.Ng5, but I feel safe with the unusual 5.d4!? This is the rarest line for White, the easiest to study, and offers some safe bail-out options (like 5.d4 d5! 6.dxc4 dxc5 7.Qxd8+ etc).  Pinski does not think much of it, but other authors think it may be best.   If you disagree, check out the webliography for more links -- including the complete set of articles by Maarten de Zeeuw from New in Chess Yearbook available online for download.  De Zeeuw himself thinks the refutation is 5.Nxf7 Bxf2+ 6.Kf1!!  So maybe you want to look at that instead.
5. Two Knights, Duffer's Attack, Amazing Counter Attack (4.Ng5 Nxe4?!)
Tim Harding explored this wild line (based on the idea that 5.Nxe4?! d5 is good for Black), returning to the subject later with the best ideas for White.  Best to be prepared so you are not amazed.
6. Two Knights, Lolli Attack or Fried Liver (4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Nxd5 6.d4! or 6.Nxf7!?)
This is actually a bit of a disputed territory of late, thanks to the use of computers.  And some players (most notably Dan Heisman) have made a very deep study of these lines, concluding that Black might be able to hold or reach an unclear position.  However, at the amateur level, you can be pretty certain that if your opponent plays into this line he has done so unwittingly and is going to be defeated swiftly.  The Lolli Attack (with 6.d4!) seems like the way to get the most out of the position compared to the traditional Fried Liver continuation (with 6.Nxf7!?), but both are very effective at the amateur level.  Boris Alterman's The Alterman Gambit Guide: White Gambits offers a great intro here, and you can see some of Alterman's ideas discussed below.  Hat tip to The Bishops Bounty for pointing me to some sources.

7. Two Knights, Duffer's Attack, Gunsberg Variation (4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Na5 6.Bb5+ c6 7.dxc6 bxc6 8.Bd3!?)
Daniel Stellwagen's article in SOS #9 on the surprising 8.Bd3!? (securing e4 for the Knight's retreat, as in Stellwagen - de Jong) seems to have inspired a number of GM games, including Nakamura-Friedel, Short - Sokolov, and Conquest-Howell. Nakamura's use of the line to win the 2009 US Championship certainly gave it excellent publicity.  White gets a very dynamic and complex game with an extra pawn and solid position.  The pressure is on Black to show what he has got.

8. Two Knights, Duffer's Attack, Fritz-Ulvestad (4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Nd4 or 5...b5)
This is another tricky territory for White, but some recent games suggest that White looks good after 5....b5 6.Bf1 Nd4 7.c3 Nxd5 8.cxd4 in the Fritz-Ulvestad.  I am looking for more analysis to support this section. 

9.Hungarian and Closed Defenses (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4)
Besides the traditional Giuoco Piano with 3...Bc5 and the Two Knights Defense with 3...Nf6, Black can also play several moves leading to a more closed position with 3...Be7 (the Hungarian Defense), 3...Qe7 (Euwe's traditional Closed line), 3...d6 (Mihail Marin's recent favorite) or 3...g6 (my own preference as Black).  Jan Pinski's book on the Italian Game and Evans Gambit (Everyman 2005) probably offers the most objective coverage of these lines.  None of these lines is something White needs to fear.  The simplest general policy is to play as you would against the closed Philidor with c3, d4, h3, and a4, restraining Black and holding onto more space.  I would say that you will rarely encounter these lines at the amateur level.

10. Philidor's Defense (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4)
Since my bibliography, Christian Seel's The Philidor: A Secret Weapon and a new edition of Van Rekom & Jansen's The Black Lion have come out to supplement Christian Bauer's book (which I now see has plenty of flaws).  But the bibliography is still useful and offers the best "refutation" of Jim West's favorite Philidor Counter-Gambit with 3...f5: 4.exf5! as seen in Dvoirys - West, New York 2000.

11. Petroff (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.d4!)
I think the best way to achieve an unbalanced position against the Petroff is by 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.d4 which also has the advantage of getting many amateur Petroff players out of their comfort zone.  If you are serious about finding an antidote to the Petroff, you might consider tracking down The Petroff Defence by GM Artur Yusupov (Olms 1999) which may still be the best reference on the 3.d4 lines I recommend.

12. Latvian (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f5!? 3.Nxe5! Qf6 4.Nc4!?)
If you are somebody who likes to have a book to study an opening, you might consider picking up Tony Kosten's The Latvian Gambit Lives! (Batsford 2001), but online analysis has gone much further than Kosten.  Though there is an intimidating amount of analysis on the line, I recommend the Leonhardt Variation, which I first encountered looking at the game Trifunovic - Apsenieks, Stockholm 1937.  The line is recommended by a number of books, including Chess Openings for White, Explained.
13. Elephant Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d5!? 3.exd5!)
The best analysis of this tricky line is probably on the web, especially now that you can download an excellent chapter from Watson and Schiller's Survive & Beat Annoying Chess Openings.  I have never encountered this opening in a game, but it pays to be prepared.
14. The Damiano (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f6?)
Does this really need commentary?  Well, with Sam Sloan on the loose playing this move against unsuspecting youngsters, it at least deserves mention.
  • Chess (Washington Post, May 25, 2009) by Lubomir Kavalek
    Perhaps the most useful and extensive GM commentary on 2...f6? ever recorded.
  • Life on the Edge (Gambit Cartel #12 at ChessCafe, August 2003) by Tim McGrew
    Returns to the Damiano and discusses some other problematic gambit ideas.
  • Tactics of Mistake (Gambit Cartel #11 at ChessCafe, July 2003) by Tim McGrew
    Considers the Black side of Damiano's 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f6!?? with the idea of either challenging White to prove he knows the refutation or meeting 3.Nxe5 with 3...Qe7.
I hope you have enjoyed this repertoire and the number of excellent online resources that support it.  There are many other resources out there, but not everyone has access to them.  I have most enjoyed Boris Alterman's videos at ICC/Chess FM and look forward to his forthcoming Alterman Gambit Guide from Quality Press devoted to White Gambits.  

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Snow Closes Kenilworth Chess Club Tonight

The Kenilworth Chess Club will be closed tonight due to expected snow, and the Garden State League match between the Kenilworth Kramniks vs Hamilton has been rescheduled to March 4th at Kenilworth.  The Kenilworth Quads will start March 11th and finish up on the 18th and 25th. It will be USCF rated.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tobey Maguire Considers Bobby Fischer Role

A passing reference in a Deadline Hollywood article notes that Steven Knight recently completed work for Columbia Pictures "on Pawn Sacrifice, a drama about Bobby Fischer's unlikely victory over Russian chess champ Boris Spassky. Tobey Maguire is producing and eyeing the Fischer role."  This may be the same project mentioned here last May (see Bobby Fischer on Film) based on Bobby Fischer Goes to War which had been optioned by Universal Pictures but later dropped.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Chess Mates Chess Club Opening Delayed

The Chess Mates Chess Club, located at 1523 Irving St. in Rahway, N.J. and owned/managed by 2010 Kenilworth Champion Arthur Macaspac, will have its Grand Opening at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, March 1st has postponed its grand opening due to construction delays caused by recent snow storms.  A new date should be announced soon. 

The facility, conveniently located near the Rahway train station, is expected to be open 7 days & 4 nights per week. Some 20 USCF-rated events will be run every month:
  • Sundays 5-SS, G/45
  • Mondays 4-SS, G/25 (1st & 2nd weeks of the month)
  • Tuesdays 3-Round Quads, G/30
  • Wednesdays 4-SS, G/30
  • Friday 4-SS, 30 moves in 90 + SD/60 (one game per week)
  • Saturday 4-SS, G/60 for U2400s
There will be monthly lessons & simuls by Yudasin, plus weekday afternoon skittles (Monday-Thursday) for seniors (12:30-2:15 p.m.) & children (2:30-4:15 p.m.).

For details about lessons, calendar, more detailed directions, membership, and other information visit the Chess Mates website.

Monday, February 22, 2010

USATE 2010 Crosstables

Fun and Names at the US Amateur Team East by Jennifer Shahade offers some games and commentary on last week's USATE, including Joe Fang's crucial victory over Kenilworth's Scott Massey in the last round on Board 1 (which also received mention in The New York Times).  You can also now check out the official tournament crosstable at the USCF website (including ratings adjustments) or download the full wall chart in PDF or final team standings from the NJSCF site.  Keep an eye out for the games.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Unorthodox Openings Newsletter

If you are serious about unorthodox openings, then you will definitely want to check out some issues of the Unorthodox Openings Newsletter.  The early ones are simply a collection of various (often amateur) games featuring oddball openings.  But the more recent issues typically feature analysis, annotated games, and history.  You will even find some book-length issues devoted to the Zilbermints Gambit (1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 e6  6.Bg5 Be7  7.Bd3 Nc6 8.O-O?!?! Nxd4 9.Kh1!?), the Grob (1.g4?!?), and the Halloween Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6  4.Nxe5?!?!)  Lots of ideas for the adventurous chess player out to have fun.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Mission Impossible, "A Game of Chess"

Ah, "Mission Impossible"!  One of my favorite shows as a kid.  This YouTube posting is a great find by Mark Weeks, in five parts.  You should be able to see the mate before the computer does near the end of the first part.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Game for Two

Ah, the trouble a chess player will go through for a woman who has read Art of Attack....

USATE 2010 Wrap-up

Round Five at Board 1
Well, it was fun while it lasted and definitely feels better than 2008 when we lost only to the infamous GGGgs to finish 5-1 or 2007 when we made it to Board 1 in Round 5 only to lose to Beavis-and-Buttvinnik.  We played on Board #1 the last two rounds, entering Round 6 with the only 5-0 record, but we lost to the excellent Cambridge Springers, a perennial top team with the deadly Joe Fang going 6-0 5.5 on Board 2 (alone winning the second board prize after winning a nice ending against our Scott Massey). Bob Rose won on Board 4, so we definitely had a shot at it.  But Ed Allen drew his lower-rated opponent on Board 3 and Steve Stoyko lost a difficult but drawable ending against Bill Kelleher on Board 1 (getting distracted by his cell phone buzzing in his pocket, which resulted in a critical 10-minute penalty -- though, of course, at any other tournament he probably would have been forfeited....)  With a host of 4.5 teams behind us -- several of whom won their matches to go to 5.5 -- we got knocked out of the prizes entirelyUpdated: For complete team results, see the NJSCF website with final standings and complete results.

I'll update as more news or links roll in.  Meanwhile, here are some good blogs with USATE coverage (if I've left one out, let me know via comments):

Monday, February 15, 2010

Kenilworth 5-0 Heading into Round 6

Goeller - Hellenschmidt
Black to play and win (he missed it)

In Round 5 of the US Amateur Teams East, our Kenilworth team made it to Board One with a perfect record. I was able to win my game (see "Board One Blunder-Fest" for details) and I thought at the time it was rather well-played. The rest of the team drew, so we won the match and they will play for the championship in the final round (the only team at 5-0, with Bob Rose on Board Four this time). Though I'm still happy with the result, I'm none too happy with the game, which looks like a blunder-fest under the harsh glare of the computer. But that's what late round games can be like. 

I had to go teach a class (can you believe Rutgers has classes on Presidents Day?), so I wasn't able to find out what happened in the last round.  If anyone knows results, please post them in comments.

USATE 2010, Round 2: Massey's Moeller Attack

Massey - NN, after 14...Kf8
White to play and win.

Massey - NN, after 23...Kf6
What's the fastest win?

After the third round of play at the US Amateur Teams East in Parsippany, the "Kenilworth A" team was 3-0 and sitting behind the rope in contention for the title.  I'll find out shortly how we did in Round 4 and if we are playing up or down in Round 5 today.  Meanwhile, I have a little gem of a game that NM Scott Massey played in Round 2 (PGN here) on Saturday that is sure to amuse you, featuring the Moeller Attack of the Italian Game or Giuoco Piano.  Scott, who was 3-0 himself after three rounds, says he figured all of this out at the board, having only the vaguest recollection of theory.  However, he did miss the quickest win in the second diagram: can you find it?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

USATE 2010, Round 1

Vicary - Massey
Black to play.

White to play and win.

Moore - Goeller
Black to play and win a pawn.

I got to meet the lovely Elizabeth Vicary (whose chess coaching at Brooklyn's IS 318 I've long admired) when our teams were paired in the first round of play at the US Amateur Teams East in Parsippany.  I have posted three of the games from our match with notes (also in PGN).  The games were relatively short and we won the match 4-0.  

On Board 1, FM Steve Stoyko played the odd 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Bd3!? idea in the French that was featured in an SOS article.  Looking at his game almost convinces me to give it a try and the concluding attack (see diagram) was very attractive.  On Board 2, NM Scott Massey played Ms. Vicary and I joined them for the post-mortem (where I wish I had more interesting things to say).  Scott got excellent counterplay on the queenside in a Dragon-like Pirc and won a pawn--though it should have been two says Fritz--with a nice shot (see diagram). I would have liked to get Ed Allen's score as well, since it featured a classic Nd5 sac in the Sicilian (all book likely), but he had gone.  My own game was essentially over on move four (see diagram).  

I think the team is in very good form and I look forward to play today.  (Oh, and the Hilton has admirably anticipated my fears of a general stomach flu outbreak by supplying plenty of hand sanitizer).

Friday, February 12, 2010

USATE 2010

Like many of you, I will be playing in the Teams this weekend: "The 40th Annual World Amateur Team & U.S. Team East - Ruby Anniversary" at the Parsippany Hilton to be precise.  I will be the alternate on my usual team (as in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009), which I am hoping will be called "Kenilworth A," though team captain Steve Stoyko threatened to enter us as "Grumpy Old Men."   He was grumpy about the club no longer sponsoring teams, but equally grumpy that my age made it impossible for us to qualify for the Grumpy Old Men "Seniors" prize.  I may just bow out for someone older next year.

The US Amateur Teams East (or USATE) is the only event I play in each year, but with young kids (ages 3 and 7) at home it's tough to make it even to this "Tournament for the Rest of Us" without some guilt.  My team has always been among those in the chase for the title, and I think that's what draws me back every year.  Plus, it is just such a great event and all my chess friends will be there.  But next year I might just visit and take my kids. 

One note of warning: there have been several local reports of Norovirus (a.k.a. Norwalk virus or "stomach flu") affecting people at the same location -- including at the New York Times company cafeteria and a Rutgers dorm where 55 students got ill a couple weeks ago.  I'm sure these stories are just the tip of the iceberg (the Rutgers one was just in the campus paper so you are not going to hear about it online and most people just suffer in silence).  At USATE a few years back, there was clearly a similar outbreak.  I think it's about time that the tournament directors followed the example of many public institutions and made hand sanitizer available for everyone.  After all, who knows who has been touching that piece you just captured.... 

Update: The USCF website offers a nice preview of US Amateur Team events: see "Amateur Team Weekend Approaches."

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Chess Rhapsodies Redux

Back in May 2009, I directed readers to the "chess rhapsodies" of Lucio Etruscus, which set clips of cinematic chessplaying to music.  Today ChessVibes offers up a complete rhapsody filmography in "Chess in cinema -- the ultimate collection" for anyone who wants to track down the films referenced in these videos.

Chess appears with incredible frequency on film because it provides an instant and visually attractive marker of distinction, intelligence, or cunning in the characters with which it is associated. To get a good sense of the sheer number of films in which chess appears, check out the website Citazioni  scacchistiche  nei  media; the blog Echecs, cinéma, TV...léger; Bill Wall's list of Movies with Chess Scenes; and the website Chess in Cinema.  For the truly obsessed, I recommend Bob Basalla's excellent Chess in the Movies.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Chess Playing New Jersey Devil

A chessplaying New Jersey Devil from Paranominal's Cryptozoology.  Why is it that the devil is always up for a game?

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Mangion - Carrelli, KCC Championship 2010

Mangion - Carrelli
White to play.

I have annotated the game Mangion - Carrelli, KCC Championship 2010, where Club President Don Carrelli took down Dr. Ian Mangion in a wild line of the Sveshnikov Sicilian that is supposed to be practically winning for White (see diagram above) but which Carrelli managed to survive and emerge from victorious.  If he wins in the final round of play Thursday, Carrelli would be the first club president to also be club champion.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

GM Joel Benjamin on the Philidor

New Jersey GM Joel Benjamin bids farewell to his Ask GM Joel column at USCF Online with "GM Joel on the Question He Always Wanted," in which he answers the question that I would have most liked to ask him myself this past year: what is his improvement on Stopa - Benjamin, World Open 2009?  A very satisfying answer for fans of the Antoshin Philidor.