31 March, 2014

The most difficult Chess problem

Not, you might think, how to convert a won position into a win, which is, for me, a very difficult chess problem, but rather a 'discovered' problem concocted by some fiendishly clever, and certainly time-rich programmers at Lomonosov University in Moscow.


25 March, 2014

T57- T59 Summary

As a matter of completion, here's a summary of Openings played in the last three TLs, since I seem not to have done this individually, plus a couple of short checkmates !

For me, T57 was the longest with 9 games played, as Magnum Ignotum reached the final. ( In fact we have reached the play-offs in 5 of the last 6 seasons : not bad !).

Although I had good results in T57, this was the tournament where I changed my repertoire for both Black and White., adopting e6 as my main defence and also moving to 1.d4 as White.

These proved to be consistent with main TL openings, as e4 is still the most played, and the Sicilian, French, and Caro-Kann the top replies. No change there.

For White, the main change, compared to T56. appear to be the increase in the the use of general Queen's Pawn openings, ie systems such as the London or Colle, as well as non-Queen Gambit openings, such as the Trompowsky.

Nice to see the short mate rearing it's head again...


Another quick mate in the Caro-Kann

Yes, its that damned Caro-kann !  Black really needs to be careful !

This short game started with 1.f4, but transposed to a King's Gambit, leading to mate in 9.


Short mate in a King's Gambit  
Longest games ?  Again, over 100 moves there were 9 games, only 4 of which were draws, including the longest at 124 moves.

Finally, as a minor exercise, work out the short mating sequence here, where Black resigned after 8 moves, after a failed Latvian Gambit !


T59 - Short game




                 T57, T58 and T59 Top 10 Played Openings

B20-B99 Sicilian  477 (15%)
C00-C19 French Defence  329  ( 10%)
B10-B19 Caro-Kann  227 ( 7% )  
D00-D05 Queen's Pawn General (London\Colle\etc   234 (7 % )
D30-D69  Queen's Gambit Declined 175 ( 5,5 % )
 A45-A50 Indian Defences\Torre Attack  156 ( 5 %)
E60-E99 King's Indian Defence152  (5%) 
A10-A39 English    151 ( 5 %)
C60-C99 Spanish Game ( Ruy Lopez )  148 (4,5%)
A04-A09 Reti   112 ( 3,5 % )

For those interested, all games were re-indexed in Chess Assistant 11,. The Opening classification ranges ( ie grouping ECO codes), I borrowed from Chessville (many thanks, although it seems to have disappeared again :(

See also T56 Summary,  T55 Summary, T51 Summary,  T50 Summary and T47 Summary.

19 March, 2014

Cult Books

One of the issues of  reading newspapers on the web, is that you can easily miss things, since, on the internet, the act of turning pages, and some article 'catching your eye' is severely reduced, if not entirely lost.

Although I used to exercise this indulgent act most Sundays, via the sharing of brunch, newspapers and coffee , it seems that this has slipped away over the years, and the Sunday breakfast is now a solo affair in front of a screen.

Yes, its usually earlier in the day now, and often followed by a lunch, but, with regards to accidental discoveries, as Roy Hawkins puts it , "The thrill is gone".

Hence, I found this interesting list of cult books a little late :)

Reading through it, there are both great and dismal books mentioned, some of which I have to admit to reading ( many, and mainly, it is true,in my youth :).

Siddartha, The Prophet and Jonathon Livingston Seagull, fed my esoteric teenage passion for sure, while Testament of Youth attempted to balance the more political history I devoured ( 20th Century Totalitarianism was one of my specialities at College).

The Dice Man was something I 'borrowed' from my brother. I don't recall finishing it, as it was probably too violent and sexual for me at that time !

Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance :  Who didn't read it among my teenage friends is easier to count than who did, although these days, I doubt if I'd go through it again.

Many others lurk there, including The Holy Blood and Holy Grail ( allegedly re-worked as lucrative fiction by Dan Brown ), a book I read a few years after seeing the original BBC documentary about the priest and his treasure, and even Dune is therea book I've read a few times over since the Seventies, and thoroughly enjoyed each read.

But is there a chess book in this list of cult reading ?

Well, not exactly, but what caught my eye was the review of one book that I never read...

" Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas R Hofstadter (1979)

 About what it means to think, and how that happens, this is written in the spirit of Lewis Carroll. Pattern recognition in the work of geniuses. Loved by maths geeks and anybody with Asperger's syndrome and anyone with sense. But at root a chess textbook. AMcK "

Before I even reached the indicative, final sentence, the mention of pattern recognition had already sparked off the flint of my chess mind, primed by the many mentions of "patterns are the key" by all those switched on Chess theorists.

Needless to say, this is added to my own 'books to read sometime'  list, although what number on the list, it is hard to tell.

01 March, 2014

Lewis Chessmen in 3D

Not in fact all about the Lewis chessmen, but I defy anyone not to enjoy seeing all these wonderful treasures, including the chessmen, and not to marvel at them !

Only the King and Queen shown, but what amazing craftsmanship.  

Imagine owning these and being able to play a game with them.

See them  here.

26 November, 2013

Tactic from Tal, Montreal 1979

My mind was blocked on this puzzle, although it is quite straightforward.



White to play and gain a piece...yes, it is that simple, so why it took me a few minutes to solve it, I can only wonder !  


Finding out that this was actually from a game played by Tal against Larsen in Montreal 1979, made me look up the whole thing.  


Well worth the meagre effort to find it.


I would assume that Tal saw the whole combination from here, at move 16/17



...all the way to the end.  


Play through and enjoy it.



21 November, 2013

Best Move ?

From a recent 5/0 blitz game...

The previous few moves have seen manoeuvring around control of the e8 square ( threat of Rook exchanges leading to mate ), but Black now has an escape square and has switched to counter-attack.

25... Rb8-b2  threatens to level material by capturing the pawn. White replies 26. R6e2 giving the following position.



What should Black play ?  Not complicated, but, in my opinion, instructive.

Spoiler/Solution (highlight between the brackets)  [ In the game, Black  played 26...Rxa2, no doubt expecting 27. Rxd2 Rxa4, and re-gaining the pawn, However, the simple 27. Qxa2 gives White a winning advantage. So, best move ? 26...Qxe2, the Black Queen is exchanged for two Rooks , and Black still has a decent game  ]