Category: Blogs , Tactics , The Chess Mind
Chess Informant (CI) – the publisher – doesn’t just publish the Informant - the book. Case in point: the fourth edition of the Encyclopedia of Chess Combinations. This is an old-style CI book: there’s no English (or any other natural language) in the body of the text; all you’ll find are diagrams, chess notation, and their standard symbols. (One exception: at the top of the page the theme covered on that page is given in English; non-English readers are likely to find the equivalent in their language in the table of contents.)
Tactics books are a dime a dozen (metaphorically; the literal price is considerably greater), so what’s different about this one; what do you get for your $44-51? For starters, you get a lot of puzzles: 3001, to be precise. In general, the positions are challenging. Often knowing the theme will give you a good idea about the first move (you won’t be shocked to know that in most cases the first move in the puzzles from the chapter “Demolition of Pawn Structure” will involve sacrificing a piece for a pawn in the general vicinity of the victim’s king), but that’s almost never enough to fully and properly solve the puzzle. Until you’re around 1900 or so, you’re probably better off working on other tactics book (or software, or tactics websites).
If you are 1900 and up though, it’s worth considering because the puzzles are sorted by themes, which is relatively rare for advanced tactics books. In my view both kinds of tactics books are valuable: those where the puzzles are divided up by themes and those where one has no advance idea of what to look for. There are 10 themes in the book, each further subdivided into three sub-sections: “combinations with attack on the king”, “combinations to achieve equality”, and “other combinations”. The 10 themes, with my occasional explanations and/or comments in parentheses, are:
- Annihilation of Defense [Typically removing a piece that guards another piece or a key square.]
- Blockade [Blocking a line, an escape square, etc. Not to be confused with Nimzowitsch's idea.]
- Clearance [Freeing a square or line for the benefit of another piece.]
- Deflection [Drawing a defender away from another defensive responsibility.]
- Discovered Attack [Not necessarily a discovered check.]
- Demolition of Pawn Structure
- Decoy [Not to be confused with deflection. The idea here is to draw the target piece to a bad square.]
- Interference [A move that forces the defender to block a crucial defensive line.]
- Double Attack
If you’re a strong player and already have an impressive collection of (unused) tactics books, I wouldn’t claim that this is the book for you, the one that will finally make everything fall into place. If you don’t have a lot of advanced tactics books though, and especially if you don’t have any that are sorted by theme, then it’s worth considering – especially since $44-51 for 3001 puzzles is a good ratio. It’s not worth getting if it’s your 15th tactics book (meaning an advanced book for an advanced player), but if it’s your first or maybe even your fifth, it might be.
As I’ve already reviewed Informants 113, 114 and 115 when they come out in book form, I won’t repeat here what I said though you can find the reviews of each by clicking on the links above. My conclusion about those volumes, and with the Informant in general, now that the publishers have revitalized this venerable series, is positive. They aren’t for everyone, but for strong club players – around 1800-1900 and up – the volumes can be both instructive and entertaining.
If it sounds interesting and you haven’t already purchased those volumes, this is an excellent way to do it. The price for buying the three-pack on disc is considerably less than the cost for getting each Informant one volume at a time. The books run about $38 a pop, while this three-pack goes for about $64 from the publisher’s site. Add to the savings the convenience of being able to examine the games (and all the other sections too) using ChessBase, Chess Assistant a PGN viewer or even the proprietary Informant format and it’s an all-around good deal.
So if you’re interested in the Informant and don’t yet have these issues, it’s definitely worth considering – especially for U.S. buyers, who can get it here for $57 (plus shipping). Highly recommended (for stronger/more ambitious club players, and up).
The Grand Prix tournament in Thessaloniki got off to a good and lively start today, with three decisive games out of six and only one draw that so much as remotely resembled a non-event.
In fact, the quickest game was Peter Svidler’s 27-move win over last-second sub Etienne Bacrot. Bacrot was only a little worse until 21…Ba3, and he could still fight until his 23rd move, …Bc8?, which allowed Svidler to maintain the “blind pigs” on the 7th rank. Then it was just over.
The other two decisive games featured the participants from the U.S.A. Gata Kamsky had an advantage against Leinier Dominguez all game long, but putting his opponent away was another story. Had Dominguez played 44…Kd7 he would have kept chances to survive; instead, he committed a gross blunder with 44…Rxh4??, losing a piece to the simple tactic 45.Rxd6+ (45…exd6 46.Bf6+ and 47.Bxh4). My view is that if you’re in Dominguez’ situation, you just laugh, acknowledge your fallibility and forget about it.
The other U.S. participant, Hikaru Nakamura, lost what looks like a textbook-ready endgame to Rustam Kasimdzhanov. Kasimdzhanov won a pawn and reached a good knight vs. relatively ineffectual bishop ending after 43 moves, and skillfully used all his assets to break in with the knight. Black could have played on quite a while longer, but with the h-pawn dropping White’s win is routine.
The other three games – Ponomariov-Caruana, Ivanchuk-Morozevich, and Topalov-Grischuk – were all drawn.
Round 2 Pairings:
- Grischuk – Nakamura
- Bacrot – Kasimdzhanov
- Morozevich – Svidler
- Caruana – Ivanchuk
- Dominguez – Ponomariov
- Topalov – Kamsky
Lothar Schmid is largely unknown to contemporary chess fans, and indeed was never among the world’s elite. Nevertheless, he was a notable figure in the game, as in addition to achieving the grandmaster title in over-the-board play, he achieved it in correspondence chess as well. He was also a prominent arbiter, most notably overseeing the 1972 Fischer-Spassky match. Finally, he was also an incredible collector, owning more than 50,000 chess books.
Round One: English Opening, Dutch Defense
John Moldovan (USCF 1781) – Jim West (USCF 2247), Kenilworth NJ 11/5/1991
1…c5 2.c4 Nc6 3.Nc3 g6 4.e3 Bg7 5.d4 d6 6.Be2 Bg4 7.O-O Nf6 8.d5 Bxf3 9.Bxf3 Ne5 10.Be2 O-O 11.f4 Ned7 12.Bd2 Ne8, Moldovan-West, Kenilworth NJ 11/10/1990; 13.Bd3+/- (Fritz8).
2.g3 b6 3.Bg2 Bb7 4.O-O Nf6 5.c4
5.d4 e6 6.c4 Be7 7.b3 O-O 8.Nc3 Ne4 9.Qc2 d6 10.Ne1 Nc6!? (10…d5=)
a) 11.Bxe4 fxe4 (11…Nb4?! 12.Bxb7! Nxc2 13.Nxc2 Rb8 14.Bc6+/-) 12.Qxe4+/=;
b) 11,e3?! Nb4 12.Qb2 c5 13.a3 Na6 14.Nd3 Qd7, Moldovan-West, Kenilworth NJ 4/13/1991; 15.f3= (Fritz8);
5.d3 e6 6.e4 fxe4 7.Ng5 Be7 8.Nc3 O-O 9.Ngxe4 Nxe4 10.Nxe4 Nc6=, Euwe-Tartakower, Bad Kissingen 1928.
5…e6 6.b3 Be7 7.Bb2 O-O 8.d3
8.Nc3 Qe8 9.e3 a6 10.Ne2 c5 11.d3, Pontius Courtney-Moldovan, Springfield NJ 8/28/2005; 11…Nc6=.
8…a5 9.Nbd2 Na6 10.a3 Qe8 11.Qc2 Nc5 12.Rab1
A bit slow. An immediate 12.b4 is better, e.g. 12…axb4 13.axb4 Na6 14.b5 Nc5 15.Rxa8 Qxa8 16.Ra1+/=.
12…Qh5 13.Bc3 g5 14.b4 axb4 15.Bxb4?
15…g4 16.Ne1 Bxg2 17.Nxg2 Qf7 18.f3 Qg7 19.e4??
Correct is 19.d4 Nb7 20.fxg4 Bxb4 21.axb4 Nxg4 22.e3 Nd6+/=. Now Black gets a clear advantage.
19…gxf3 20.Rxf3 fxe4 21.dxe4
At this point, with my opponent in a lengthy think that must have lasted twenty minutes, it became obvious he was onto something. I was able to foresee his reply and prepare the entire sequence of moves through my 30.gxf4, a total of 18 plies.
Played because White would otherwise have “the better middlegame” (West). But 21…Ng4-+ is winning.
22.Rxf8+ Rxf8 23.Nxe4 Qd4+ 24.Nf2 Ne4 25.Nf4
25.Qb2! Qxf2+ (25…Bc5? 26.Bxc5 Qxc5 27.Rf1+/-) 26.Qxf2 Nxf2 27.Bxe7 Nh3+ 28.Kh1 Nf2+ 29.Kg1 Nh3+ is =.
Fearing discovered check, I overlooked 26.Bxe7 Ng4+ 27.Kh1 Ne3 28.Qb2 Qe4+ 29.Kg1 Nxc4 30.Qa1 Qe3+ 31.Kg2 Qe4+ 32.Kg1 Qe3+ 33.Kg2=.
26…Qxf2+ 27.Kxf2 Bxb4 28.axb4 e5 29.Ke3 exf4+ 30.gxf4
White has only a slight edge here because Black’s rook is too active. Unfortunately, I was in “major upset” fantasy land, believing that my passed f-pawn gave me winning chances.
31…Ra2 32.Rd1 d6 33.Rg1+
Beginning an unbelievably rapid decline. 33.h3 is still +/= (Fritz8), e.g. 33…Ra4 34.Rb1 c5 35.bxc5 Rxc4+ 36.Kd3 Rxc5 37.Rxb6 Rh5 38.Rxd6 Rxh3+ 39.Ke4 Rg3 40.Kf5.
One square too far. Now my rook can’t protect the h-pawn.
Better is 35.Ra1 with the idea of 35…Rxh4 36.Ra7 or 35…Ke7 36.Rg1 Kf6 37.Rg8 Rxh4 38.Rf8+ Kg6 39.Rf5.
36.Rf5+ Ke6 37.Rf8=/+.
36…dxc5 37.bxc5 Rh6 38.cxb6 cxb6 39.Rb5 Rc6 40.Kf5??
40.Rh5 h6 41.Rb5 Re6+ 42.Kd4 Kf6 43.f5 Rc6=/+ or 40.Kf3 Ke7 41.Kg4 Kd7 42.f5 h6 43.Rb3 Rf6 44.Kf4 Ke7 45.Kg4 Kd7=/+ (Fritz8).
40…Rc5+ 41.Rxc5 bxc5 42.Ke5 h5, White resigns.
The Kenilworth Chess Club held five 2nd Saturday Swisses in the fall of 1990 and spring of 1991. But, during the spring 1991 event, an onlooker leaned on a ping pong table, knocking it over. My opponent complained to the New Jersey State Chess Federation, and there were no more tournaments.
Greece in the spring – sure beats Khanty-Mansyisk in the winter! The happy Grand Prix participants begin their super-strong tournament in Thessaloniki today, and here are the round 1 pairings:
- Veselin Topalov – Alexander Grischuk
- Gata Kamsky – Leinier Dominguez
- Ruslan Ponomariov – Fabiano Caruana
- Vassily Ivanchuk – Alexander Morozevich
- Peter Svidler – Etienne Bacrot (Bacrot was a late substitute for Teimour Radjabov, who withdrew due to undisclosed personal reasons)
- Rustam Kasimdzhanov – Hikaru Nakamura
Category: Blogs , Scholastic Chess , Susan Polgar
Chess club helps Detroit kids find their way forward, one move at a time
May 21, 2013 at 8:45 am
One of the little-known gems of the Detroit Institute of Arts is on display, but not on the walls.
Those who’ve seen this cultural phenomenon use words like “magical” and “inspiring” to describe this weekly happening, the Detroit City Chess Club.
On any Friday night, usually in the Kresge court, you’ll find dozens of Detroit children, their heads down, fingers poised over chess boards.
Over these chess boards, the children learn lessons that change their young lives and often propel them from the streets to college classrooms.
Others find their footing. They gain skills in problem-solving and strategy.
In a group honored Friday night, there was an older child who only recently learned to read; a girl who cooks dinner for her brother on school days, since her mother works nights; a boy whose social skills are blossoming along with his game.
Consider Michaela White, 13, the soft-spoken eighth-grader who was named to the all-city “dream team” at a special chess all-star award ceremony Friday. Only in her first year as a chess player, she credits the game and Coach Kevin Fite with “helping everything.”
“When you’re playing chess, you think ahead,” she says. “You have to plan your moves. This is the first year I’ve played and it’s the first year I’ve ever gotten a 4.0 average in school.”
For more than a decade, Fite, a former Detroit math teacher, has coached with passion, dedication and steadfastness.
Always, he has struggled to keep the program going; to find funding and support, even though parents and his student players speak of him using superlatives.
“He is like a saint,” says Jimmy Settles, a UAW vice president who was introduced to Fite by a friend. “I have seen firsthand the difference he makes in these kids’ lives. But he’s not Mr. Softie. Even when the parents aren’t really involved, he gets the kids to take responsibility for getting there.”
Settles’ JUST Foundation, the United Auto Workers and Ford have helped pay for the chess team’s trips to regional and national tournaments this year.
At the Nashville nationals last month, Detroit “dream team” member Lamar Brice — a 10-year-old fifth-grader who attends Chrysler Elementary — won a sixth-place trophy almost as big as he is. Chess has been an eye-opener for him. (“I never expected to go on so many trips!”)
“I’ve learned to be a gracious winner and not such a sore loser,” he says.
Lamar learned to play chess with his uncle, Detroit photographer Kwabena Shabu. But he didn’t get excited about the game until “coach Fite brought a team to my school this year.”
Jalen Woods, 13, an eighth-grader at University Prep Science and Math Middle School, loves chess. His mother, Jadie Woods, sees “more focus and discipline” in Jalen.
Eight children were chosen to be on the citywide “dream team” this year. At Friday’s ceremony, Wayne State University trustee Debbie Dingell brought a hush to those in attendance when she told them she’d bragged about these children and their coach to Vice President Joe Biden and first lady Michelle Obama.
“I tell everybody I can,” she says. “I stumbled on the chess club when I was in the DIA one day and just found it incredibly moving.”
These children aren’t athletes but they’re in training, learning skills that build habits of mind as well as body. They’re living up to their potential with every practice, every move on the board.