Saturday, July 3, 2010

World Open 2010 Game 1

A pretty cool game. I will do more detailed analysis later.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

US Chess League 2010, Schedule has been Released

Well, as the title suggest, the US Chess 2010 Schedule has been released. This blog is going to focus on the Philadelphia Inventors (formerly Masterminds).

Hopefully I do a bit better job with this then I did with the 2010 US Chess Championship! I do plan on putting more of those games up, but honestly that has pretty much grinded to a halt. Oh well.

Lets look at the Philadelphia Inventors schedule.

Week 1, 7:15 pm, Monday August 23rd

Philadelphia Inventors vs. New Jersey Knockouts

Week 2, 7:00 pm, Wednesday September 1st

Philadelphia Inventors vs. Boston Blitz

Week 3, 7:00 pm, Tuesday September 7th

Philadelphia Inventors vs. New York Knights

Week 4, 7:15 pm, Monday September 13th

Philadelphia Inventors vs. Baltimore Kingfishers

Week 5, 7:00 pm, Monday September 20th

Philadelphia Inventors vs. New England Nor'easters

Week 6, 8:15 pm, Monday September 27th

Philadelphia Inventors vs. Chicago Blaze

Week 7, 7:15 pm, Wednesday October 6th

Philadelphia Inventors vs. New England Nor'easters

Week 8, 7:15 pm, Monday October 11th

Philadelphia Inventors vs. Baltimore Kingfishers

Week 9, 7:15 pm, Wednesday October 20th

Philadelphia Inventors vs. Manhattan Applesauce

Week 10, 7:30 pm, Monday, October 25th

Philadelphia Inventors vs. Carolina Cobras

Those are all the scheduled matches. After that, there is a Quarterfinals and Semifinals round, and finally there is the Championship Match.

The Philadelphia Inventors Roster has not yet been made, so I cant give overviews of the players yet. Once it is set, though, I will try and scrounge up some nice biographical information about each of the players so we get a better idea of who are team's chess players are!

One person I am fairly sure will be on the team, though, has also had a very nice tournament recently. Bryan Smith is an IM (International Master) living in the Philadelphia area (apparently he is from Alaska!) and he recently won the Philadelphia International.

I am not too familiar with the Philadelphia International tournament as a whole, but I believe it was first started last year, in 2009. The goal of the tournament is to give US Chess players a chance to get what are called Norms. It is necessary to get a few Norms in order to receive international titles, such as International Master and Grand Master.

A Norm is achieved if a player has a sufficiently high performance rating and played against players from enough Federations. Each country has its own Federation. This creates a problem for US Chess Players, because only Canada or Mexico are close by. Even then, many chess tournaments are far away from either of these two countries! Because of this, US Chess Players can be very successful and achieve very high ratings but still never end up getting a Grandmaster or International Master title. That is a shame. The title doesnt do all that much, but it is a great honor.

The Philadelphia International helps US players get Norms because foreign GMs receive free admission to the Philadelphia International. Thus, foreign GMs can come to Philadelphia, play in the tournament for free, and if they do well take home 1,000 or so dollars. That is not a whole lot, but it covers the plane ticket and hotel room (almost!).

The Philadelphia International is also scheduled right next to the World Open, though. This means that any foreign GMs that were planning on attending the World Open can come a week early and play in the Philadelphia International. As far as I can tell, it hasnt been tremendously successful in attracting foreign GMs, but hopefully that changes. It has been moderately successful, though, and both years quite a few US players were able to get Norms.

Needless to say, then, with a handful of GMs playing in the tournament it is a great sign for the Philadelphia Inventors that Bryan Smith won the thing! I hope he got a GM norm, as I believe he is fairly close to achieving a Grandmaster title. As far as I know, only a few US born players have achieved the Grandmaster title in the past 10 or 20 years, so having someone in Philadelphia achieve this would be awesome!

I will give some updates on the US Chess League as more information is posted on their website.

By the by, the Philadelphia Inventors home base is the Franklin Mercantile Chess Club, which is located at about 20th and Walnut Streets in Center City Philadelphia. Last I heard, membership to the Franklin Mercantile Chess Club is 50 dollars a year. I am not sure if they let spectators come in and watch for free. They do let everybody get one free visit, though, so if you have never been there this might be a good chance to check it out. Unfortunately for them, Chess is very easily enjoyed on the internet, though, so following games live or following blogs like mine should also let you enjoy the US Chess League.

It should be an interesting thing to follow!

Chess Tactic of the Day #25

White to move and win.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Chess Tactic of the Day #24

White to move and win.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

World Open 2010 Preparation Part 3

Well, it has been a while, hasnt it?

One thing I like to do before a chess tournament is to do things that are totally unrelated to chess. It doesnt really matter what it is. Reading is always a good way to go. Playing other games can be fun too. Getting some free college on game theory can also be interesting as well. Basically, I just like to relax the chess portion of my mind. At the same time, I try to do some mild exercise with the rest of my brain. Lord knows it needs it!

As far as not playing chess, if you do the 4 day schedule at the World Open, you are going to be thinking about chess for about 60 hours. That is a lot of chess in 4 days! It is good to give the mind a little rest before then.

I think the worst thing to do is study a lot of openings before a tournament. Usually opening study actually hurts your chess playing abilities a bit. After all, rather than figuring out the best move on the board, it usually entails memorizing various lines of what other people say are the best move on the board. Unless you are a cheater, you will not have this luxury at the World Open! It is not too bad to study tactics. The best thing to do is probably go over some grandmaster games, and go over them quickly.

It is also important at sometime to focus on the more technical and physical aspects of playing in a chess tournament. This isnt exactly mentally taxing, but a little bit of thought can be pretty helpful. After all, a chess tournament is very physically taxing.

I dont recommend exercising sitting uncomfortably for hours on end. Stretching will probably be helpful, though.

Also, I would recommend preparing what food you will bring to the tournament. Fruits and veggies are going to be helpful. Be careful with the veggies, though. A lot of vegatables actually make you tired, as it takes your body a bit of energy to break down the veggie fibers. Juice is ideal on a lot of levels. It is easy to consume while you are playing, it gives you sugar, which is critical for your brain, and gives you a bit of water as well.

Bread is generally a good food to eat in between games. It is digested fairly quickly, and shouldnt tire you out too much.

Foods I would not recommend are basically anything from a gas station or restaurant. These foods are usually very high in saturated fat, which is going to tire you out a great deal. Save your appetite for a big dinner after your last game.

One thing you may want to think about is what types of drugs you will be using during the chess tournament. I only recommend using caffeine! It may be a good idea to bring some ibuprofen, though, as chess tournaments can give you a head ache. If you have two games in one day that go the distance, by which I mean the full 6 or 7 hours, a couple of ibuprofen might help you get some good sleep.

Also, if you are of age, I would recommend drinking a bit of alcohol with your dinner. This may not work for everybody, but for me, chess really strains my nerves. Drinking maybe 3 or 4 good hoppsy beers really helps relax my nerves.

I think it also helps get my brain thinking properly. This is going to be difficult to describe, and I probably will word it very poorly! It doesnt help that I am not really sure what is going on. I just know it works.

Basically, I think my main tendency in chess is to overpress. Drinking alcohol the night before slows down my brain. After all, it is a depressant. Intuitively, you would think you want your brain thinking as fast as possible for a chess tournament. However, because of my tendency to overpress, having my brain stuck in first gear is actually a good thing. I play much more calmly, and I dont get hyper aggressive and play foolish and empty attacking moves.

Maybe the World Open wouldnt be the best place for you to test this out. On the other hand, even at the World Open it is a good idea to get away from all the chess for an hour or two a night.

Well, this will be my last World Open Preparation post. I will be posting my World Open games, though. Maybe all my blogging about preparing for the World Open will pay off!

Chess Tactic of the Day #23

Black to move and win.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Chess Tactic of the Day Answers #1-#7

Hopefully you were able to figure some of these out, but if not these are the answers!

Tactic #1:

1. Na5+ Kd6 2. Rd5#, or 1. Na5+ Ke8 2. Rc8#

Tactic #2:
1. Qg2 Kf4 2. Rxg3# or 1. Qg2 Kd3 Rxg3#

Tactic #3:
1. Ng6+ Kf5 2. Qe5# or 1. Ng6+ Kg5 Qa5#/Qe5#

Tactic #4:

This position is taken from Game 2 of the 2006 World Championship Match between Vladimir Kramnik and Veselin Topalov. Topalov is playing as White, and has played very well. He has a crushing attack in this position, that leads to Mate or great material losses.

Respect should be paid to Kramnik's play in this game, though. He has defended/counterattacked very well generally through this game, and has put a lot of pressure on Topalov by taking Topalov's a pawn. Kramnik's a and b pawns look very potentially dangerous.

For whatever reason, both players missed the relatively simple 32. Rxg4+ Bg7 33. Qc7. Black either gets mated or gives up a lot of material to prevent the mate.

Instead of playing this, Topalov plays Qg6+, and Kramnik is able to barely escape the attack. Kramnik was able to win this game, and after a lot of other drama, was able to eventually win the match.

Interestingly, Topalov had a advantageous but drawn position in Game 1 of the match and ended up losing because of a late game blunder. Without these two "gifts" to Kramnik, Topalov may well have won the match in convincing fashion.

Tactic #5:

This game is between Mikhail Tal and Vasliy Smyslov. Hey, one of those is my name! Unfortunately, my namesake loses this game. Mikhail Tal is probably my favorite player though, so its not too big a deal.

This game was played in the 1959 Candidates Tournament. Vasily Smyslov had already been World Champion, but had lost a rematch to Mikhail Botvinnik. Mikhail Tal would go on to win the Candidates Tournament, and beat Mikhail Botvinnik in a 1960 World Championship Match.

In the tactic, Tal is playing White and finds a nice move 19. Qxf7!. The Queen cannot be taken right away because of Rxd8+ with mate to follow. Black needs to block the d file, so he plays Qa1+ forcing Kd2. Now he can take White's Queen, but he loses his Rook with check. White can take Black's Queen on a1, Black can take White's Knight on f7, and the end result is that Black is down a pawn and the exchange and has a bad position.

Tactic #6:
1. Kf2 Kh2 2. Qxg1# or 1. Kf2 h2 2. Qxg1#

Tactic #7:
1. Qxf7+ Rxf7 2. Re8+ Rf8 3. Rxf8+ Kxf8 4. Re8#. If 1. Qxf7 Kh8 then 2. Qxf8#.

Now you Know.

Chess Tactic of the Day #22

White to move and win.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Chess Tactic of the Day #21

White to move and win.