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A pretty knight journey February 21, 2009

Posted by dorigo in chess, games, personal.
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I give below the moves of a blitz game I played tonight on the Internet Chess Club. The moves are not accurate, as we had just five minutes each to complete the game, and we are both dilettantes. But the attack I played was so simple it played itself, so maybe this is a good training example… I am white against a first-category player (HerrTrigger his ICC handle).

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.Nc3 Bb4 7.Bd3 0-0 8.0-0 d5 9.exd5 cxd5 10.Bg5 c6 11.Qf3,
Up to now, nothing of our own making – you can find the above sequence on any chess opening book. It is called “Scotch game”; this particular variation is not known for causing black any particular opening problem, but white’s setup is solid and lends itself to a quick kingside surge, if black does not play the most accurate moves.

Sub-optimal. Black has to be careful of his dark squares, and the pin of the Nf6 required more attention. Now white gets a clear initiative.
The start of a straightforward idea – Ne2-d4-f5 will further weaken the dark squares around the black king.
12…. Rb8 13.Nd4
Now Nxc6 is threatened, and the queen cannot defend the pawn since it is tied to the defence of the Nf6.
But this is surely a mistake. Black places the lightsquared bishop on a passive square, blocking the open b-file for some counterplay by the Rb8, and totally leaves the f5 square undefended.
14.Nf5 Be5

This is the position bfore the  start of the final attack. First of all, the black bishop is targeted, gaining a tempo with the rook.
15.Rfe1 Qc7
Now black threatens Bxh2+, but this is not really a problem for white. Instead, the logical conclusion of the knight manouver is in the air…
If now black takes the N, white wins both by 17.Qf5 and by means of the pretty 17.Rxe5! Qxe5 (17…. hxg5 18.Rxg5+ Kh8 19.Qxf6 mate) 18.Bxf6, and black is soon mated (18…Qe6 19.Qg3+).
16….Kh8 17.Bxf6!

The simplest way to win. Black resigned, since on both 17….Bxf6 and 17….gxf6 there follows 18.Qf5 and there is no way to avert Qxh7 mate, while on 17….Bxh2+ 18.Kh1 Qf4 19.Qh5 Qxf6 (19….Qxh6?20.Qxh6) 20.Nxf7+! Kg8 21.Bxh7+ is mate. The Nc3-e2-d4-f5-h6 manouver is pretty in this game, since all the moves are active, and by threatening in turn the c6 pawn, the d6 bishop, and the king the knight takes the lion’s share of merit for the attack.

One word of warning: the above variations are the result of some thoughts on the game diagram, without even moving pieces on a real chessboard, let alone running a check with Fritz. So I am most likely going to be refuted by deeper silicon analysis… To me, the game and the variations still look quite logical in their development and conclusion!

Small satisfactions February 12, 2009

Posted by dorigo in chess, games, personal.
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This evening I worked out some small satisfaction for myself by routing in turn an international master, Guido Kern (Dorot his ICC handle), and the South Carolina State champion of 2007, Timur Aliyev (gatorchess his handle), at blitz chess on the Internet Chess Club.

The game with Kern was not very correct: we both committed several mistakes. Normal stuff, when you have an average 5 seconds per move. Here is a position from the game:

I am white, and it is my turn to move. The move sequence is very simple to guess, so I will give it without further ado. I played simply 17.Nxe4! Nxe4 18.Bxe4, having seen from the start that after 18….Rae8 19.Bxd5+ Kh8 20.Qg5 I would end up with a large advantage. The game continued 20…. Bg6 21.Bf7! Qe7 22.Bxe8, and with an exchange and two pawns of advantage I converted to an easily won ending in a few more moves.

In the game with Aliyev, I played a much more impressive kingside attack. Here is the position after black’s 26th move. I am white.

The plan plays itself, and in fact here is how the game finished: 27.Rc1, Rgg8; 28.Rcc7, Rgf8; 29.Re7, Qd6; 30.Rcd7, Qc6; 31.Rxf7, resigns. In fact, there is no way to parry the mate on h7.

So, it is true that at the mature age of 43 years I feel my neurons abandoning me one by one… But those left can still give me some small satisfactions now and then!

White to move and win February 3, 2009

Posted by dorigo in Art, books, chess, games, internet, personal.
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Minutes ago I logged on the Internet Chess Club for some evening fun, after an evening spent playing with my kids, feeding them, and reading them a chapter of the first book of the Harry Potter saga (which, I hate to say, is excellently written). And here is the position I worked out with a similarly rated player (I am white):

White to move. Can you spot the move I played ? Mind you, I did not analyze with a chess engine the position yet, and I just spent a minute looking at it post-mortem, so I do not claim that my move is the best one in this position. It might even be flawed. But I am darn proud of it… The game ended two moves later. I will leave this little riddle on for tonight, and will give the solution tomorrow. In the meantime, do write below what you’d have played. But beware: this was a 5′ blitz game, and I had less than two minutes left for all my moves – investing more than 30 seconds of thought on the position would cost you the game in most situations.

You have ten seconds to find… July 8, 2008

Posted by dorigo in chess, games, internet, personal.
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… how to force black to resign, by playing a move as white in the following position:

position after 24....Qd2 with bob hicks, 7/7/2008

Of course, when you play blitz on the internet, there is nobody telling you there’s something worth looking for. You usually dash the most plausible move on the board, letting your opponent’s clock ticking instead than yours. Then you are allowed to think -if he gives you a chance. So, by asking you to find something in the position above, I am giving you a huge advice. And yet, the biggest hint must come from your nose, which starts itching at the sight of an exposed black king, your pieces amassed against it, and still your queen and your rook both en prise, the latter with a potential check to your king.

So, if you’ve read till here and have not found out what you should play here, you have virtually lost on time. This was a 5′ game, and after 24 moves on each side, we were down to about 1′ each. Here are approximately the thoughts that crossed my mind in the ten seconds it took me to play a move in the position above, which was reached by black moving 24….Qd4-d2:

“Hmm he’s threatening my queen. I don’t want to exchange queens in such an attacking position! I must play something like Qh5, keeping it in the whereabouts of the black king -and I also threaten his Bf5. But wait! He can play Qxe1 winning my rook, and with check! No, I have to defend the rook. Nf3 ? The pawn is pinned and I defend the rook and attack his queen -oh shoot, yes my queen is still en prise! Darn. Do I really have to take his queen ? But then I’d have no advantage left: Qxd2 Rxd2 hmmm. Wait, if instead I take Nxg4 I am defending my queen and threatening discovered check. If he then takes my queen I go Nxh6++, double check! And I take the bishop on the next move. Nice! Oh, but he can still take the rook with check, Qxe1+… But is it really so bad ? I go Kh2 and he has no further checks. Sure, he’s up a rook, but I am threatening Nf6 mate! How does he parry that ? Hmmmmmmm he can’t… Can he ? Can he ? Aargh. On Bh7 I have Nf6+ Kh8 Qxh7 mate, while on f6 I have… Hmmm…. Something for sure.  Shoot! I’ll have HIM think!”

I tried to be as accurate as I could, given my impaired memory. So, what were your own thought ? You were not as pressed by time as I was, but maybe you got to see that 25.Nxg4!! was possible ? Indeed, it not only is possible, but it is the only sure path to a win in the position. Let’s see why. Variations B, C, and D are sub-optimal, in decreasing order of strength. Variation A is the best one.

B) On 25.Rge3 (second-best, according to the computer chess program Fritz 8), black would play 25…. Qd4 trying to hang in there, in a complicated position that I could still royally screw up;

C) On 25.Qxd2 (the simplest) Rxd2 26.Nc4 Rd4 27.Nxb6 white is a pawn up but there is still a lot to play for;

D) On the forcing 25.Rxg4+ Bxg4 26.Nxg4 Qxh6 27.Nxh6+ Kg7 28.Nf5+ Kg6 29.g4 white is slightly worse, but will probably hold on to a draw.

A) Instead, on the elegant and strongest 25.Nxg4!! there are two variations:

A1) 25. … Qxh6 26.Nxh6+ Kh7 27.Nxf5 with a totally winning position;

A2) 25. … Qxe1+ 26.Rh2 f6 (the most stubborn) 27.Ne5+! with mate in all variations, like 27. …Ng5 28.Bc4+! and mate in three.
Definitely a nice way to end the day – I feel much less guilty of having spent my late evening playing chess, rather than writing about a new top quark mass measurement by CDF, which I have wanted to report on for a few days now. Maybe tomorrow…