Sunday, September 28, 2008

New England Masters Game

A game between Parker Bi Guang Zhao and Leonid Kritz in the New England Masters Tournamet went: 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 d6 6. Bg5 e6 7. Qd2 a6 8. O-O-O h6 9. Nxc6 bxc6 10. Bf4 d5 11. Qe3 Bb4 12. a3 Ba5 13. Be2 O-O 14. exd5 cxd5 15. Qg3 Kh8 16. Be5 Ne8 17. f4 Bc7 18. Bd3 Bxe5 19. fxe5 a5 20. h4 Qb6 21. Rdf1 Rb8

Position after Black's 21st move

And here Parker Bi Guang Zhao played 22. Qg6! In order to avoid mate, Black eventually has to give up material. The game went: 22. ... Qe3+ 23. Kd1 fxg6 24. Rxf8+ Kh7 25. h5 Qxd3+ 26. cxd3 Bd7 27. hxg6+ Kxg6 28. Kc2 Rc8 29. d4 Kg5 30. Rhf1 g6 31. R1f7 Bc6 32. Re7 1-0

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Three Move Problem IV

This is problem XXXVIII from the book, composed by A. C. Challenger. White to mate in 3:

Solution: 1. Qb8 Kxd5 2. Nd4 exd2 3. Qb5 mate

Three Move Problem III

The chess problem here is number XXXVII from the book, and was composed by Dr. Lasker.

White moves 1. Qh1 There are various ways Black can play but they all lose. One example is 1 ... e4 2. Rxb7 Bb5 3. Qe1 mate

Three Move Problem II

This second problem is number XXXVI from the book, composed by W. F. von Holzhausen.

Computer checked solution: 1. Qa8 e4 2. Qa1 exf3 3. Qd4 mate

Three Move Problem I

The three move problem above is from the previously mentioned book "Three Move Problems." I've been to the Newberry Library a few times before. Some of their older works are dated in knowledge; for example I came across a book on astronomy written in the context of Newtonian physics; others works seem simply to be barking up the wrong tree, such as on witchcraft. But older books on chess positions seem to hold up well, perhaps because chess problems are more like mathematics. The problem above is number XXXV from the book, created by Sam Loyd.
Here is a computer checked solution: 1. Kd2 Qc4 2. Bg4+ Nxg4 3. Rh5 mate

Older Chess Books from the Newberry Library

This weekend I went to the Newberry Library in Chicago. The Newberry Library is a private, non-circulating library, but it is free and open to the public. It has a collection of older and rare materials, such as maps and books hundreds of years old.
I came across a book entitled "Three Move Problems" by F. Baird. It seems to have been published in 1913. In this post I will present an extract from the book; in other posts I plan to present chess problems from the book.

"The following methods of solving three-move problems are the only ones which need to be considered:--
1. Perceiving the theme instantaneously, or determining the author's idea by deduction.
2. Allowing Black to make the first move, and then treating the problem as a two-mover, the final process being the finding of the key-move.
3. Allowing Black to make the first move, and then making two moves for White in succession, followed by another for Black, and a third for White.
4. Experimenting with various likely and plausible key-moves until the correct one is found. This method, although adopted by the majority of beginners, is not calculated to give the solver the same amount of satisfaction as the other methods, and it is not to be recommended except with some problems containing only a few pieces. For instance, when dealing with the Rex solus type of composition, such a course might yield quicker results.
5. The exhuastive process before mentioned, wherby every move that it is possible for White to make must be tried. This method, although lengthy, is the one which must be employed for solution tourneys which are other than continuous."

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Lopsided Opening Results, Part II

Here is a line that can arise from the Slav: 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 a6 5. c5 g6 6. h3 Bg7 7. Bf4 O-O 8. e3

In chesslab's historical database of games from 1485-1990, only one game is given with this opening, and it ended in a draw. In its database from 1991-present, it gives 58 games, with White winning 56%, Black winning 12%, and Draws 32%

Lopsided Opening Results

In this post and perhaps others I will present opening lines which: 1) have been played at least in 20 games and 2) where one side had at least twice as many wins as losses.

Here is a position arising from the Grunfeld: 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. Bg5 Ne4 6. cxd5 Nxg5 7. Nxg5 e6 8. Nf3 exd5 9. e3 a5 10. Be2 O-O 11. O-O c6 says it has a database of 2 million games, and has the feature 'position stats.'
In its historical archive of games from 1485-1990, it gives: White won 0%, Black won 21%, Draw 79%. In the games played from 1991-present, it gives: White won 8%, Black won 43%, Draw 49%

Bilbao Grand Slam Tournament is Done

The Bilbao Grand Slam Chess Final Tournament is done and the final standings are:

Veselin Topalov
17 points
(+4 -1 =5)
[view games]

Levon Aronian
13 points
(+3 -3 =4)
[view games]

Magnus Carlsen
13 points
(+3 -3 =4)
[view games]

Vassily Ivanchuk
12 points
(+2 -2 =6)
[view games]

Teimour Radjabov
10 points
(+1 -2 =7)
[view games]

Viswanathan Anand
8 points
(+0 -2 =8)
[view games]

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Position From The World vs. Timmerman

In a previous post I wrote of beautiful, though unplayed, variations in correspondence chess games. An example of this comes from the game between Gert Timmerman and The World Team at

Position after Black's 37th move

Here the World Team played 38 h4, and here is analysis from Rybka, probably the strongest chess program: (34-ply) 38.h4 Kf6 39.Rf1 Ke6 40.f5+ Kd6 41.fxg6 Kxc5 42.Rf7 Ra8 43.g7 Rg8 44.h5 d4 (0.93)
In this line White leaves a rook en prise.
In the actual game, though, Timmerman did not play 38. ... Kf6 but 38. ... Ra6

Arthur Stevens' Blue Book of Charts To Winning Chess

A pioneer in the statistical analysis of chess, in my honest opinion, was Arthur Stevens. Before the advent of the personal computer, Arthur Stevens compiled a statistical analysis of opening lines, in chart form, of 56,972 tournament games. The charts would show the moves of a opening line, the number of games in which the move was played, and its winning percentage.
Such charts would be valuable to the serious player by saving some time in experimentation and analysis.

It would be easy nowadays to downplay his efforts. Today, one can readily find, on the internet, databases of millions of chess games and the statistics on the opening moves: the number of times it was played, and its won/loss/draw percentage. But Stevens' work was a precursor to this; his book came out in 1969.

I scanned a page from his book, hoping to post it here, but the quality is not good. The page I had scanned was a chart on a line in the Advance Variation of the Caro-Kann Defense, which starts: 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 If Black plays 3. .. Bf5, Stevens has listed these 4th moves for White: Bd3, Ne2, c4, h4, g4, Nc3, Nf3. The move that gets the highest percentage is c4. His chart shows 33 games with that move, with a winning percentage for White of 79% (note that he determines this percentage by taking not only wins but also one-half of draws).

A chess database on the internet now has over 900 games just beginning with 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. c4. We've come a long way since his time, but he was a pioneer.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Bilbao Grand Slam Chess Final Tournament

The Bilbao Grand Slam Chess Final Tournament is presently going on. It has a wonderful field : Topalov, Carlsen, Aronian, Radjabov, Anand, and Ivanchuk. There are special features of this tournament. One is the scoring system: 3 points per win, 1 point per draw. Also the time control: 90 minutes for the first 40 moves and another 60 minutes to finish the game, with no time increment at all.
I presume the goal for these rules is to promote more "decisive" games, which would be supposedly of greater interest. At the time of this writing, there have been 15 games played, with 5 of decisive result. This 66.66% draw rate though is in line with the draw rates of other major grandmaster tournaments. However, there are more rounds to play, and it has been conjectured that the final rounds would have more volatile results--due to the scoring system.
A player somewhat behind in the standings might make riskier moves in order to win.
This leads to one of the main objections to the scoring system and the time control in this tournament: it would lead to riskier moves, and inaccurate moves due to time pressure; we should want to see, instead, the correct moves to be played.

The standings so far:

Veselin Topalov 9 points (2 wins, 0 loss, 3 draws)
Magnus Carlsen 8 points (2 wins, 1 loss, 2 draws)
Levon Aronian 6 points (1 win, 1 loss, 3 draws)
Teimor Radjabov 4 points (0 win, 1 loss, 4 draws)
Viswanathan Anand 4 points (0 win, 1 loss, 4 draws)
Vassily Ivanchuk 4 points (0 win, 1 loss, 4 draws)

Monday, September 1, 2008

Correspondece Chess and Over The Board Chess

I've noticed that the past few posts were about positions arising from the recently completed Tal Memorial Blitz Tournament. The positions were puzzle like: find the tactics that win material, or find the winning attack against the king.

Earlier in this blog I posted about the correspondence games of, of which I am a member. The World Team won three games, and the fourth game is underway. The tenor of these games is different. Since computer assistance is allowed, and a move can take two days or more, there are no downright blunders. There has been really no decisive tactical shots, nor mating combinations against the king. Although it is interesting to see the beatiful variations that have not been played. The opponents resigned in the end game.

Chess Coverage in Newspapers

It seems that coverage of chess in newspapers is not as good as before. Back in the 1980s and 1990s I used to read the chess column in The Chicago Tribune, which would appear on Sunday in the Arts section. The column was by Shelby Lyman. But its main components would be 1) a human interest story, 2) a reprint of a game from a great player of the past, and 3) a tactical puzzle, unrealted to the reprinted game. This column no longer appears in The Tribune.

In the 2000s, the other Chicago paper, The Sun Times, had a weekly chess puzzle, usually from a recent game, presented by Albert Chow, a Chicago area master, whom I have met. This weekly chess puzzle no longer exists. The New York Times and the Washington Post, however, continues with chess coverage, usually with analysis of a recently played game. The New York Post also has a column by Grandmaster Andy Soltis.

I was more impressed with coverage of chess in the British papers. Back in the early 1990s I would sometimes buy The Times of London; one reason was its coverage of the Short-Kasparov match. Also there was a small column by Raymond Keene in The Times of London --usually a presentation of a recent game. Years later I discovered that other British papers covered chess. But as there are ebbs and flows in most things, there is now an ebb in chess coverage in British papers. Grandmaster Nigel Short's column was dropped from The Guradian (and before that he was dropped from another British newspaper); another Guardian chess writer, Grandmaster Jonathan Speelman, seems to have been dropped; I haven't seen his column in months. The Guardian still covers chess , though not as much as before, and to be fair, it gives better chess coverage than many papers.

On a positive note, it seems that chess coverage flourishes on the internet, where one can post comments on games on various websites. Also, one can follow chess game live via internet feed.

Karpov Blitz Game

A game between Anatoli Karpov and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in the Tal Memorial Blitz Tournament went: 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 O-O 5. e4 d5 6. e5 Ne4 7. Bd3 c5 8. Nge2 cxd4 9. Nxd4 Nd7 10. Bf4 Ndc5 11. O-O Bxc3 12. bxc3 Nxd3 13. Qxd3 b6 14. cxd5 Qxd5 15. Rfe1 Bb7 16. f3 Nc5 17. Qe3 Qc4 18. Rad1 Rac8 19. Bg5 Kh8 20. h4 Na4 21. h5 Nxc3 22. h6 Nd5 23. hxg7+ Kxg7

Position after Black's 23rd move

and Karpov finished off the game: 24. Nf5+ Kg6 25. Rxd5 Kxf5 26. Rd4 Qxd4 27. Qxd4 Kxg5 28. Qg4+ Kh6 29. Kf2 1-0