Mar 31, 2010

Will Fischer be exhumed?

Fischer continues in controversy.  This time the moves are being made over his estate.

Reportedly, on April 16, Iceland Judge Gudmundsdottir will decide a request by Jinky Young to disinter her father’s remains in a cemetery in Selfoss, Iceland.

Mar 30, 2010

Budapest 101: A simple lasting advantage for White

The Budapest is an interesting opening over the board...although you won't often see it at the highest levels. Black dictates the opening in ways that are rare for queen pawn openings, and the shock value can be downright fun. The problem is that the Budapest is more boring than the early knight foray would seem to suggest, and for the same reasons that the Budapest isn't seen much at the GM level, it's not particularly fit for CC either. This is true at least if Black is interested in more than barely hanging on for the draw. I think the below is White's best try for a straightforward advantage and all the winning chances. Of course White has to be prepared for other variations, especially at Black's 4th.

Mar 29, 2010

Grand Prix 101:1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.f4 g6 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. Bc4

The Grand Prix is a double-edged way to avoid the Sicilian. Note the easy transposition by both players to the Grand Prix. White should play an early Nc3 to avoid the immediate d5 thrust (as in 1.e4 c5 2.f4 d5), or simply lead with 1.Nc3. The play following an early Nc3, however, is hardly tame, and the line below after 10.exd5 is nothing short of wild. It requires additional analysis.

Seventh World Champion: Vassily Smyslov (1921-2010)

Smyslov was never one of my favorite players. Like the masses, I was drawn to Tal and Fischer growing up. My regard for Smyslov, however, has increased with each year that I've been a chessplayer, and I suspect that the event of his passing will not affect that. Foremost, he reached his peak as a chess champion at a time when chess was clearly dominated by the many great players of the Soviet Union. No easy feat. In addition, he defeated Botvinnik for the world championship when Botvinnik was near his prime. And while Botvinnik was likely the only player who ever really had Smyslov's number (+7), Smyslov had a plus score against Botvinnik when counting only their large number of world championship games. Considering everything, it's a little surprising that Smyslov was world champion for only a year.

Smyslov played a highly positional game, deeply worthy of being copied. With that in mind, I can recommend:

It's particularly well-suited to reading with just a chessboard and no computer.

Below, in keeping with one of the opening themes of this site, Smyslov scores against the variation of the Semi-Slav bearing his chief rival's name. Rest in peace.

Mar 25, 2010

Sveshnikov 101: 9.Nd5... 17...Bd7

This game takes Sveshnikov theory deep into the game. The reason to pay attention to this game is due to Black's 17th, Bd7. 17...Bd7 is not a novelty, but it is rarely played compared to 17...g6.

Mar 23, 2010

USCF Special Election: Candidate's 2nd Statement

Below is the statement that will appear in the May issue of Chess Life, subject to editing. As you may or may not know, there is no time to collect feedback following publication of the statements before the next statement is due. Indeed, the first statement will be published about two weeks before the third and last statement is due to Chess Life. That said, your feedback is appreciated, and that's why I've posted the statement below well before its publication date in Chess Life. I have about 30 days before the next statement is due, and I'd like to be responsive. So please drop a comment below, or post to the USCF Issues Forum if you have comments or questions.

One of the critical challenges facing the USCF over the next several years is that of getting the organization onto fiscally stable ground. We’re presently financially strapped for various reasons, but the principal reason is that we’ve spent an enormous amount of money on lawsuits, and we still have substantial unpaid legal bills.

First and foremost, we need to play chess, and that means creating an environment in which our current members want to continue to play the game, and in which former and prospective members want to join to participate. Put simply, we need to pull together in the same direction and work toward growing the game. Revenues will grow along with the game. Some of our members will only play the game, and that’s fine. Others will do more. We need state organizations, clubs, delegates, and members to promote the game in all ways. The USCF must do its part by being responsive to the membership and providing what it wants. I envision our flagship events remaining to be classical over-the-board chess, but it doesn’t have to end there. We need to consider exploring and promoting chess in all its variants, including thinking creatively, and ensuring that we’re taking advantage of every resource, including the internet.

Second, national leadership must operate the Federation responsibly on all money matters. I think the current EB is making good strides in this direction. The budget must be realistic, and the Executive Director and Executive Board must ensure that we’re operating within that budget. Not only can we not exceed the budget, but we have to plan for some level of surplus. We need to be prepared for the next rainy day. It is unacceptable for the Federation to continue to face short term economic crises on a routine basis. Without any surplus, every unexpected non-budgeted event becomes an emergency. We should establish a goal for some amount of surplus to be accumulated for each year over the next five to ten years. The goal of attaining a surplus needs to become a budget item, given all the same attention as every other budget item.

Third, one of our goals should be to explore how to provide our members and potential benefactors with an easy route to charitable giving. We should give careful consideration to our status under the Internal Revenue Code. The game of chess has tremendous potential. We see some of that potential being realized in Super GM events, primarily in Europe, and even in some ways throughout this country. Scholastic Chess, for example, has had some extraordinary achievements. In short, the game has a quality about it that makes it a natural target for philanthropy. We have to ensure that our potential donors can give to the Federation with full economic advantage, and that once we receive those gifts, donors know their money will be watched over carefully and spent wisely.

Mar 22, 2010

c3 Sicilian 101: 2...d5 (by transposition)

A classic game still worth knowing if you're going to play the c3 Sicilian. Note the 2...e6 transposition to the 2...d5 variation, and take a hard look at 9.Be3 rather than 9.Be2, the latter keeping the queens on the board.

Mar 21, 2010

Semi-Slav 101: Transposition to the QGA

Theory in the Semi-Slav is thick, beginning with the Meran and continuing into the Moscow, Anti-Moscow, and Botvinnik. Then there's the principal Anti-Meran variations involving 6.Qc2. See, e.g., Games 14 and 18 below. One solid way for White to side step the heavy theory is to play an even earlier Qc2, as in 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Qc2. Black has several options for handling this try by White and the best may be the simplest: 4...dxc4. This leads to a species of QGA. After 5.Qxc4, Black will have to choose between 5...Bf5 or 5...Bg4. I prefer the latter to slow down the e pawn and the big White center, but it may be a matter of taste. Compare the following.

Mar 20, 2010

c3 Sicilian 101: 2...d5

2...d5 is Black's best chance to unbalance the position. Black is prepared to recapture on d5 with the queen as White's pawn on c3 prevents its immediate harassment. After 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.d4, Black has several options, the most common being 4...Nf6, 4...Nc6, and 4...e6. Some of White's more interesting responses involve an early Na3. See the below as an example, and compare to Game 21.

Mar 4, 2010

2009 USCF Absolute Correspondence Tournament Concludes

Below are the final results of the 2009 USCF Absolute, which has to be one of the fastest-played Absolutes in history, due in large part to the ICCF server.



United States Chess Federation-CC
TD class=bw>1
USCF/WS/09A01TD Dunne, Alex
1USA511587  Sogin, David2287½½1½½½11½1½18.54701
2USA514439 Walters, Gary 2158½½1½½½½½11118.54502
3USA514324 Wilson, Abe L. ½½½½½½11½1½1843.503
4IRL260162 O'Hare, Ciaran236900½½½1½½11117.536.504
5USA511061SMBrandhorst, Wesley T.2293½½½½½½½½½1½173805
6USA514476 Ballow, John ½½½½½½½½½½1737.7506
7USA514434 Van Enk, Steven2301½½½0½½½½½½116.534.2507
8USA512456 Anderson, Laurence A.22810½0½½½½½1½½1631.508
9USA511025IMMiettinen, Kristo S.22910½0½½½½½½11½630.509
10USA510155 Greene, Sanford I.2295½0½0½½½0½11½5.528010
11USA514553 Rhodes, James 00000½½½00½1313011
12USA514679 Poole, Kenneth ½0½0½00½00½02.516.25012
13USA511601 Shipman, Joseph221900000000½½0128.25013