Thursday, April 28, 2011

2011 US Women's Championship final playoff

I did not know it started earlier, so I missed all but the end of the two rapid games, but that was exciting.

So giving a little away, they went on to an armageddon game, which was not so exciting.

Zatonskih recaptures the title, Abrahamyan played very well in this tournament.

Chess event in Red Wing Minnesota

 Bob Long, the publisher of Thinker's Press (Davenport Iowa,) is having a "Chess Soiree" in Red Wing on the weekend July 29-30

He sent out a flyer in his most recent catalog (via email). Grandmaster Alex Yermolinsky (author of The Road to Chess Improvement) will be there.

• A discussion of chess learning systems. $30 book provided as part of this workshop.
• A King’s Gambit Accepted 10 minute tournament to improve TACTICAL skills.
• A FREE copy of Abbazia 1912 + “best” games from the tournament. BE A STAR!
• Planning and Preparation Workshop—a study in scarcity.
• Yermolinsky’s simultaneous exhibition to close the event followed by our nite out!

$189 for the event.

2011 US Championships--final round 2

I hope the advertising revenue on the videos is enough to cover the cost of the video coverage. There is one web site (seems to be from Sweden) advertising a weekly chess news show (in English) on Chess magazine, New In Chess magazine and ICC are also advertising.

Shulman needs a win against Kamsky, who is playing a Slav Defense very solidly, gaining small advantage after small advantage, making things look bad for Shulman.

Krush played similarly as white against Baginskaite's Nimzo-Indian.

Abrahamyan once again is playing her King's Indian against the fianchetto variation. Zatonskih is playing solidly, but the pawn structure is dynamic and it is a much more interesting game. Also, both players used a lot of time between moves 10 and 20, leaving them both with about 20 minutes for the next 20.

I arrived too late to see any of the Shankland Hess game, but they must have drawn, because they went into an Armageddon game at 5:00pm CDT. Hess got black and draw odds with a bid of 19:55 vs Shankland's 45 minutes must win with white.

GM Ashley keeps going back to his puns: "Horses need stable squares, and this horse is looking for greener pastures"

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

2011 US Championships--final round 1

Today, the women had exciting games.

Abrahamyan chose the advanced variation against Zatonskih's French Defense. Abrahamyan sacced a pawn but was not able to do more than draw.  

Krush played a very solid QGD structure against Baginskaite Neo-Catalan. Baginskaite pressed too hard and exposed her king. Krush was able to counter attack and for the win of an exchange with advantage.

Shankland gained a slight advantage in a Catalan against Hess, but was not able to convert it to a win.

Kamsky and Shulman played a long very balanced game, though Shulman was a little cramped. Shulman may have snoozed off for a while, and allowed Kamsky to open some lines for his rook, which resulted in a gain of a pawn for Kamsky. Kamsky ground on collecting advantages and forced his way into a same colored Bishop endgame with a passed pawn advantage.

There was a lot of instructive discussion of trades by GM Ashley in the webcast. The games may not be exciting, but I may listen to the commentary again. WGM Shahade considers Kamsky's 46.Rd3 to be an excellent example of forcing the trade of rooks to transition from a drawn to a won endgame. Purdy also has an article in My Search For Chess Perfection on trades.

Rochester CC April 2011 results

I did well with 3.5 out of 4. I beat class A, C, and E players, and drew with a class B.  The draw was against a player that had beaten me 3 time before, now I am 0-3-1 against him.

I offered a draw in a won endgame, because I would have needed time to work out how to win, and I only had  2.5 minutes left on my clock (5 sec delay). I need to work at my endgames. I also need to practice the move method and be disciplined, so I don't end up in time pressure. OTOH, early in the game, I sacrificed a pawn (ok, I dropped it) and got "insufficient compensation", luckily he returned the favor later.

I was late seeing a combination against the class A player, but he did not remove the possibility, and it was almost as good a move later. It won a pawn and gave me a dominant position, sort of like I got the compensation for a pawn, and an extra pawn, too.

In both of the other games, I entered the ending with a slight advantage, and was able to capitalize on their errors. One or two games may make good videos, but I still am not finished with the games from the Minnesota Closed tournament.

Monday, April 25, 2011

US Championships 2011-Semifinals

I was a little overwhelmed with chess after Saturday's tournament (4 games), so I am late with this post. I also missed a good deal of Sunday's games.

Saturday First round:
Kamsky v Shankland was a dynamic Slav with unbalanced material, but eventually a draw.
Shulman v Hess was a solid Queen's Indian: draw.
Zatonskih v Krush was a c3 Sicilian, so not as crazy as Krush's usual Sicilians, but fun anyway.
Abrahamyan v Baginskaite was a not so quiet Giocco Piano.

Sunday Second round:

Kamsky v Shankland was a "normal" Najdorf, (i.e. messy and exciting).
Hess v Shulman was a very boring exchange French: draw

In Krush v Zatonskih their normal QGD, Krush locked the pawns with c5 and was able to control e5, but lost  c5. Chaos ensues. Krush and Zatonskih seem allergic to draws.
In Baginskaite v Abrahamyan, Abrahamyan got a very ugly looking position from her King's Indian Defense, but was able to prove it had much dynamic potential.

Kamsky goes on to the final, Shankland goes on to the consolation 3rd place game.
Everyone else gets no rest day, on to the

Semifinal Playoffs
First round:

I am writing this as the playoffs of the semifinal matches are going on. Time control is 25 min with a 5 sec increment for two games. If tied, then an Armageddon 45 min game.

Krush and Zatonskih first game had a exciting double edged game, that should have ended in a draw, but Krush lost the thread in time pressure. She was playing on the 5 sec increment.

Hess and Shulman drew another game.

Abrahamyan playing white got an exciting attack from a Giuoco Pianissimo against Baginskaite, which was not perfect but was sufficient.

Second round:

Krush responded 1...d6 to Zatonskih's 1.d4 and went into a Modern defense, with Zatonskih delaying any decision with the c-pawn and the Nb1, very fun for me.

Hess is playing a Kings Indian against Shulman, and it got wild. GM Ashley described it as "tornado chess", he got very excited commenting on this game, and the other two games got little attention, but those were exciting games, too.

Baginskaite v Abrahamyan is a King's Indian that very similar to their second game in the Semi's, but Baginskaite deviates on move 9 and considering how that game went, it probably is a good idea. OTOH, Abrahamyan

Semifinal Armageddon

Zatonskih won the bid with 27 minutes, while Krush bid 45. I guess Krush likes playing white and does not like playing for a draw. Zatonskih played her usual QGD and the opening went very rapidly along similiar lines to what these two have done before. Both played the first 17 moves in less than 2 minutes by which time lots of pieces have been traded off, unbalanced pawns, but bishops of opposite colors, but Krush made several over committal moves, and her position fell apart.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

2011 US Championships--round 7

Last round of the preliminary round robins. There are a few games that don't mean much, but quite a few will determine who gets into the semi-finals, or a playoff for the semifinals.

Tomorrow is a rest day(or playoffs) and I have a tournament on Saturday, so no post after this until Easter Sunday.

Hess and Krush are in their respective semis, but want to play well to keep up their form.

Kamsky is in with a draw, but his opponent with black, Shulman, needs a win for a clear spot.

Ivanov needs a win against Robson to ensure a playoff, but chose the Berlin defense to Robson's Ruy Lopez, but Robson needs a win and a Shulman loss to get a playoff.

The second spot in group B is fairly clear. It will be either Shankland or Onischuk. The winner of their game today is in or they go into a playoff with a draw. (though if they draw, Seirawan could sneak into the playoff on tie breaks with a win as black against Hess.)

Baginskaite and Abrahamyan are in with at least a draw. Baginskaite has white against Krush, and Abrahamyan is black against Zenyuk.

Zatonskih is playing a King's Indian Attack against Foisor's Sicilian. Zatonskih needs a win to get a playoff to get into the semi-final. Foisor wins or draws and she should be in the semis. Foisor did not fianchetto the king's bishop, so transposed into a KIA vs French.

Onischuk played a very solid line against Shankland's Slav, and settled into a very symetrical even game.

It looks like Melekhina and Goletiani are having fun, both being very aggressive in a closed Sicilian

Christiansen has an active position as black against Kaidanov in another fun game.

Finegold sacs a Bishop in a c3-Sicilian to pin Shabalov's king on an exposed e8.

Looks like there will be lots of interesting games this round, even ones that cannot affect who wins the tournament

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

2011 US Championships--round 6

sThe bell lap starts with quite a few players still in striking distance of the semi-finals.

Some players are desperate for a win: Christiansen,  Seirawan, Akobian, Inanov, Robson, Naroditsky,  and Zatonskih. There should be a lot of exciting games today.

In the Women's Championship, the top four go on, and the leading four are at least 1.5 points ahead of  Zatonskih with Krush a whole 2 points ahead (at 3.5 are Foisor, Baginskaite, and Abrahamyan), but the women usually play fighting chess.

Hess is in the lead in group B by a whole point, and Kamsky and Shulman lead group A by 1/2 point.

Shankland and Onischuk are one point behind Hess (who has 4) in group B.

The games:

Naroditsky played the advance variation against Kamsky. 35 years ago, this varation did not have a good reputation, but it seems very popular now. Kamsky wants to play a very solid game and look for Naroditsky to over reach.

Abrahamyan v Melekhina is an open Sicilian, where it looks to me like Melekhina has over reached and Abrahamyan should be able to survive the attack and win the endgame.

Christiansen made a positional sacrifice against Hess's Bogo Indian. Hess should also want to play a very solid game and look for Christiansen to over reach, but that is what one would normally do with black against Christiansen.

Ivanov with an advanced variation against Akobian's French eventually gained a lot of space on the king side, will he be able to push the attack home?

Golettiani and Zatonskih have a very tactical Reti?

Shulman and Robson have a very strange looking King's Indian. Shulman has a nice sacrifice for a near mating attack.

Krush and Zenyuk have a very exciting King's Indian game in the main line 7...Nc6, but Zenyuk's attack fizzles when Krush sacs a piece back, leaving Krush up 3 pawns with a safer King.

Seirawan played his usual positional game and Onischuk chose to get double isolated d-pawns, I think with the idea of removing c4 and e4 as outposts for white's knight. Seirawan. Will Seirawan be able to create a second weakness and work them for a win?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

2011 US Championships--round 5

Once again Larry Christiansen has an exciting game, this time against Onischuk with a very difficult position as white already on move 12.

Shabalov sacks an exchange against Shankland's Catalan similar to Topalov's sac in the last World Championship. Shabalov got  a pawn and more space for the exchange. It does not look to me that Shabalov got as much as Topalov after Shankland's 15. Nb1 (because Ne4 does not work to ...Nxe4 and ...c3) Update: I was wrong, Shabalov got more.

One of the nice things about covering a chess tournament, unlike a sporting event, the announcers do not have to try to force excitement into a game where there is none. There are always some other games to look at even if one is a boring draw or a crush (possibly Krush in this tournament).

The kids Robson and Naroditsky are playing a Najdorf, always exciting.

Kamsky played something like a Polar Bear (reverse Leningrad Dutch) against Stripunksy. White has lots of weak light squares if Black can exploit them. Later, Kamsky has a horrible dark square bishop, basically just a big pawn.

Akobian pulled out a weird 4-pawns attack on Shulman's King's Indian. More preparation for me, but from the look of the game Akobian has, I would look forward to someone trying this against me.

Quite a few King's Indians this round.

Monday, April 18, 2011

2011 US Championships--round 4

I am not going to get to watch the whole round live today, and I will be on the treadmill for the part I will get to watch, so I will fill this in later.

Update: Lots of decisive games this round. Many interesting endgames.

Robert Hess won a second time with black, this time defending an exciting Scots game from Shabalov.

Abrahamyan had a very pretty mating attack to finish off her game with Goletiani, who is having a very rough tournament so far.

Baginskaite also ran a successful kingside attack against Melekhina's King's Indian with ...c5

Krush and Zatonskih fought a tense battle long into a very complex endgame, where Zatonskih made an inaccuracy and Krush was able to capitalize.

Ehlvest chose to go closed vs Kamsky's Sicilian, but was not able to develop a king side attack. Ehlvest may have resigned early rather than face a long difficult losing endgame against Kamsky down two knights to a rook with lots of pawns on the board. A very definite candidate for playing against Fritz.

Shulman and Ivanov settled into an interesting King,Knight and Pawns endgame where Ivanov slipped up and let Shulman get a passed pawn on the far side of the world.

Kaidanov forced a trade of queens vs Onischuck ended in a King and Pawn endgame which involves a lot of counting of pawn races.

Robson's French defense overcame Stripunky's King's Indian Attack treatment.

Foisor v. Zenyuk ended in a Queen and pawn endgame with an advantage for Foisor

Sunday, April 17, 2011

2011 US Championships--round 3

Ivanov and Naroditsky are playing what looks like a fairly straightforward Najdorf Sicilian (if there ever is such a thing), but have not reached move 20 and both are under 15 mins left on their clocks.

Seirawan vs Shabalov looked fairly tame until Shabalov's 22 move and then some fire works went off.

Robson vs Kamsky is a closed Ruy Lopez, that looks like it might finish some time next week.

Irina Krush looks like she survived a pawn sac by Goletiani in a Richter-Rauzer and in Sicilian fashion has a roaring counter attack.

Shankland tried to play a slow positional squeeze against Chritiansen, but Larry inevitably found a way to attack, but a big exchange happened and there is a hard fought endgame ahead.

Finegold got a pawn deep into Kaidanov's position at c6, and things look interesting. Finegold tries to balance defense of his pawn on c6 and pressure on the kingside.

In a kind of mirror image, Foisor playing black has an isolated pawn on d4, which could be weak, but is also cramping of Abrahamyan's position.

Ivanov found an interesting combination against Naroditsky's Najdorf after an interesting attack.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

2011 US Championships--round 2

Lots of interesting games today.

Christiansen surprised Seirawan with an attacking line in the Caro-Kann advanced. Kamsky won an exciting game over Akobian. Abrahamyan tried to surprise Krush with a Blumfeld gambit, but Irina lived up to her name. Zatonskih also pulled something like a Blumfeld, but got a better result against Zenyuk. Shankland had a very nice combination against Kaidanov. Foisor pulled a win out of a drawn endgame with Melekhina.

Friday, April 15, 2011

2011 US Championships--round 1

I am watching the live video from the Championship. I am writing this post while the video is on a break, it has been a long break, so I wonder if they are having technical problems. They did manage to pop up a commercial for New In Chess magazine before going to black, so they are getting some revenue from the broadcast. IIRC, the replay videos did not have the breaks in them. There are 16 players in two groups for the Championship. Two players from each group will go into a final round of 4. There are 8 players in the Women's championship. So Maurice Ashley and Jennifer Shahade have 12 games to comment on, so there sure is a lot to talk about.

There are two games with "interesting" openings. Tatev Abrahamyan brought out the Evan's gambit against Camilla Baginskaite and Alexander Stripunsky pulled a Budapest against Yuri Shulman. I think it likely that Abrahamyan is trying to find a line that Baginskaite is not familiar with, while Stripunsky is throwing dice.

Maurice Ashley could not supress his disgust at the timid Ruy Four Knights exchange that Ivanov played against Kamsky. It is hard for black to play an exciting game, when white chooses such a quiet line.

Yasser Seirawan has come out of retirement for this tournament, and played a double fianchetto Reti type formation from an English against what started as a very solid formation from Gregory Kaidanov, but it appears that Kaidanov is playing a little plan less in the opening.

Alexander Shabalov brings out a Sicilian Dragon against Larry Christiansen and managed to convince Christiansen to castle kingside, so we do get to watch a double pawn storm race.

Alexander Onishuk played a Nimzo-Indian vs Ben Finegold and developed a strong kingside attack, but Finegold had not castled yet. OTOH, white has the doubled c-pawns from the Nimzo exchange, so it is not clear where white's king will find safety.

Robert Hess played a King's Indian Defense against Sam Shankland. Shahade says that this is the first time Hess has played the King's Indian. They are following one of the lines I am looking at. This will be a very interesting game for me, though it looks like Hess has misplayed it a bit. He has traded his light square bishop for the Nf3, with a locked center. Usually this exchange happens after black has played exd4 (i.e. white has not locked the center with d5). The locked center leads to attacks on opposite wings, and black usually needs his light square bishop for that.

Lots of other good games, too.

You can also check out the games from the or via The Week In Chess live games (pgn downloads, too) from here

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The 2011 US Championships

The 2011 US Championship and Women's Championship is about to start in Saint Louis. This is the home page.

Last year the Saint Louis Chess Club and Scholastic Center hosted the championships, and ran live video commentary over the Web. It was very good. I hope they repeat. The commentators are listed as GM Maurice Ashley and WGM Jennifer Shahade. 

Last year WGM Shahade did a great job doing play by play and asking leading questions during the Junior and Women's Championships, and GM Ashley did great commentary on the US Championship. It looks like they are going to repeat the live coverage. If so, it should be here. The videos were also available for later viewing.

Games start at 2pm CDT on April 15. Pay your taxes and then tune in.

2pm Central Daylight Time is 19:00 GMT/UTC, I think 

New Video--Who's Zoomin Who

Video of my last round game from the 2011 Minnesota Open

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Book Review--My Search For Chess Perfection by CJS Purdy

This is a book put together by the publisher (Bob Long at Thinker's Press). The previous edition was published in 2007. The book has three parts. The first is a short biography of C.J.S. Purdy. The third is a collection of Purdy's games, all annotated. The heart of the book is the collection of Purdy's articles which are a delight.

C.J.S Purdy was an Australian Master who is best know for his writings (Wiki). He was the first Correspondence Chess World Champion and several times Australian Champion, he also edited several Chess magazines for many years, and wrote copiously for them.

Purdy writes in a very entertaining, but clear style. What he covers is rooted in explanations of Lasker and Nimzowitsch which are easier to understand than the ponderous Manual of Chess or the somewhat enigmatic My System. As I am currently struggling with Suba's Dynamic Chess Strategy, I sure wish Purdy were still around to explain it.

Most of the articles are targeted toward the improving class player, or ambitious beginner. His move method and general positional advice is a good start if Silman's Reaccess Your Chess is still to much to internalize. I particularly like how he describes elimination of error and his shortcut to positional chess (which is to improve your worst piece).

There are quite a few articles that show the evolution of Purdy's thought on how to find combinations.

I have only gone through a few of the annotated games. The annotations are extensive and informative. Fischer thought Purdy a great annotator. Thinker's Press has published several books that are collections of Purdy's annotations of other's games (C.J.S. Purdy's Fine Art Of Chess Annotation)

The index is very good, which is important, because the table of contents is too sparse. I suggest reading the writings straight through, using post it tabs to mark important passages, and making highlights in the index to help rediscover favorite articles later.

Thinker's Press also published Chess Master at Any Age by Rolf Wetzell, which is the guide I am using on my journey. You can contact Thinker's Press through this email Bob Long has a blog where he plugs his business. (Update: Bob has shifted his blog to here)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

New Video--Death in Slow Motion

I have posted a new video from the following game


I am really pleased with my playing attitude right now. I was happy after all of my games in the Minnesota closed, even the losses. I am close to being indifferent to whether I win, lose or draw, as I will learn more from a draw than a win, and learn the most from a loss. People naturally are more unhappy with a loss than they are happy with a win (read this about the sunk cost fallacy).

I think I have been on this road a while. Since I "retired" in 2003, I have been actively managing my retirement savings through an Ameritrade account. I have not been day trading, but a combination of long term investing and short term trading. Losses are a fact of life in stock investing, and learning to let a losing stock go and redirect what one can get out of it to a possibly better choice is important. Overcoming the lure of the sunk cost is important to this.

Since I have difficult goal in mind (see my first post), I must make improvement more important than current success.