Sunday, June 26, 2005

Hydra vs. Humanity

The hot chess topic online and in the blogosphere is the Adams-Hydra Man vs. Machine Match. Another bad outing for humanity, as we should expect. And they will just keep getting worse. After all, humans make the type of mistakes that computers never do (and which computers are excellent at punishing) and the computers are being trained to be better mimics of humans' understanding of the larger complexity in chess. But computers do not spell the death of chess. Not only will it take another lifetime (at least) before computers "solve" the game, but people will never be able to carry the solution with them (at least in their flesh anyway). So people will continue to play the game and see the contest of two humans as interesting. I always think of Spock in Star Trek playing 3-D chess against the perfect computer of the future: he plays not out of a hope he will win, but out of a desire to test his mind. We will still need to do that in the future.

By the way, I think a better opponent for Hydra would have been Topalov or Anand, since they are better known than Adams for the depth of their understanding even in the most tactically insane situations. Here is a game that Anand recently described as his best. I wouldn't even attempt to analyze it for you:

[Event "Izt"]
[Site "Biel (Switzerland)"]
[Date "1993.??.??"]
[White "Anand Viswanathan (IND) "]
[Black "Ftacnik Lubomir (TCH) "]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B90"]
[Round "3"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e6 7. f3 b5 8. g4 h6 9. Qd2 Bb7 10. h4 b4 11. Nce2 d5 12. e5 Nfd7 13. f4 Nc5 14. Bg2 Nbd7 15. O-O-O Be7 16. g5 h5 17. f5 Nxe5 18. Nf4 Nc4 19. Qe2 Qa5 20. Kb1 Nxb2 21. fxe6 O-O-O 22. Kxb2 Na4+ 23. Kc1 b3 24. Nxb3 Ba3+ 25. Kb1 Nc3+ 26. Ka1 Qa4 27. Qd3 Bb4 28. Nc1 Kb8 29. Bd4 Rc8 30. Be5+ Ka7 31. Qe3+ Rc5 32. Rd3 Qxc2 33. Bxc3 Bxc3+ 34. Rxc3 Qxc3+ 35. Qxc3 Rxc3 36. exf7 Rf8 37. g6 1-0

According to one story I read, Anand used only 30 minutes for most of his moves.

The mythology of man versus monster is one powerful frame through which to see the Adams-Hydra match, as the promoters of the event recognize. But I would not personalize the machine so much. In fact, I would prefer to see the match as one man, alone, testing himself to compose something larger than even he himself can fully grasp. It is only thus that Adams might triumph. But it is completely possible for Adams to succeed--and it is only the human who can succeed in that way.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

How to View PGN Files

Someone wrote to ask how best to view the PGN files I include in my posts. I am glad to answer and hope this is useful information for a number of people. It's really a simple process:

1) Open your preferred computer chess program or PGN viewer (such as ChessBase, Fritz, or one of many free programs, such as Arena) and set it up for a "New Board" or "New Game" (in Fritz go to "Game">"New Game"; in ChessBase 8 choose "File">"New">"Board.") If you do not have a PGN viewer, I suggest you download Arena.

2) Go to my Blog in your browser window and use the mouse to select the complete text of the PGN code on the screen (beginning with, for example, '[Event "KCC Summer Tourney"]' and ending with the result -- '0-1' or '1-0' or '1/2-1/2'.)

3) Once the full text of the PGN is selected, copy it to the clipboard of your computer. You can do this in one of three ways:
3A) Right-click the mouse and choose "Copy" from the short menu that appears.
3B) Go to the top menu of your browser and choose "Edit">"Copy"
3C) Or use "Control"+"c" on your keypad.

4) Go to the computer chess program you are using and load the game. In Fritz or ChessBase, you can use "Edit">"Paste">"Paste Game" from the top menu of the GUI screen. In Arena, go to "Game">"Get PGN from Clipboard." Other programs have a similar feature.

5) The game will appear in the window for display on the chessboard. I suggest you look at it in Fritz using "Infinite Analysis" mode (from "Game"-->"Infinite Analysis").

As Steve Stoyko pointed out the other day, chess programs come with appallingly scant user support. In fact, most programs or databases you purchase (including professional ones from ChessBase) come with no user guide whatsoever. I have tried to address this generally with my Computer Chess links pages at our site, which guide you to the various chess programs and program documentation available on the web. But there is only so much one person can do. Sorry, though, for not including a note about this previously.

Friday, June 24, 2005

The Summer Tournament

The Kenilworth Chess Club's "Summer Tournament" has proven to be a popular and fun event. The time limit is Game 60 with play starting around 8:30 pm, so even if players take the full 2 hours they still have time for analysis, socializing, and casual games into the wee hours. The time limit is also long enough to get a serious game going (as my game against Kernighan shows) but too short to take the game all that seriously--especially since the games are unrated. The overall structure of the event, with a low entry fee ($3) and strong incentives for attending the club (since the player with the most wins before August takes the first prize), are especially well suited to summer, when attendance tends to drop off as people go on vacations. Yet the event is more popular this year than ever, with 17 players entered, counting Devin Camenares of Cook College at Rutgers University who joined us last night.

Devin was the founding member of the Cook College Chess Club, which lasted through one happy semester but folded due to lack of attendance the next. He is unrated but has lots of skittles experience and quite a bit of opening knowledge for someone who never played in a tournament. He held an equal game against Greg Tomkovich last night, which should have ended in a draw but for the fact that Greg won on time in a tough ending. I have the game score, but it is a bit too long to enjoy. I hope Devin will be joining us frequently this summer to get a break from his intensive genetic engineering research and maybe he'll play a shorter game to reproduce here. :-)

Our other new member, Laukik Gadgil, had a roller coaster ride of a game against our under-1800 champion Joe Demetrick,. Joe was able to win despite dropping his Queen at one point. The lead swung wildly up and down thanks to a few blunders by both sides, which is rather typical of the "summer games." It's worth playing through if only to see some basic tactical themes in action.

[Event "KCC Summer Tourney"]
[Site "Kenilworth, NJ USA"]
[Date "2005.06.23"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Gadgil, Laukik"]
[Black "Demetrick, Joe"]
[Result "0-1"]
[PlyCount "64"]
[TimeControl "G60"]

{While full of errors by both sides, the following game nonetheless features some useful tactical themes which even relatively experienced players such as these can benefit from.} 1. e4 e6 2. d3 d5 3. Nc3 ({More common is} 3. Nd2 c5 4. Ngf3 Nc6 5. g3 Bd6 6. Bg2 Nge7 7. O-O {with a typical King's Indian Attack position.}) 3... Bb4 ({ Black could also close the position, though after} 3... d4 4. Nce2 Nc6 5. f4 $5 {White has a fairly good game.}) ({ The chief drawback of 3.Nc3 rather than 3.Nd2 is that Black could now play} 3... dxe4 4. dxe4 Qxd1+ 5. Nxd1 Nf6 $11 {with complete equality.}) 4. Bd2 { White does not have to directly unpin the Knight to prevent Black from winning it with ...d4. He could alsoplay} (4. e5 $5 d4 5. Qg4 Ne7 6. a3 Ba5 7. b4 dxc3 8. bxa5 $13) ({but not} 4. a3 $6 Bxc3+ 5. bxc3 dxe4 6. dxe4 Qxd1+ 7. Kxd1 Nf6 $15) 4... Nc6 ({Now} 4... d4 $1 5. Nb1 Bxd2+ 6. Nxd2 e5 $1 $15 {would be very good for Black, who had exchanged off his dark-squared bishop and placed all his pawns on dark--while White has a bad Bishop at f1 hemmed in by pawns on light.}) 5. Qg4 Nf6 $1 {The best way to meet White's premature aggression.} 6. Qxg7 Rg8 7. Qh6 Rg6 8. Qe3 $4 { This loses material. But Black would be doing well after the superior} (8. Qh4 d4 (8... dxe4 $6 9. O-O-O $1 $36) 9. Nb1 (9. Nce2 Bxd2+ 10. Kxd2 e5 $44) 9... e5 $44) 8... d4 {The Fork} 9. Qe2 dxc3 10. bxc3 Ba5 11. Rb1 e5 12. Nf3 Bb6 13. h3 Be6 14. Rb2 Ke7 $2 {Up until now, Black's play has been exemplary. But this is a very bad place for the Black King. Likely he should clear the way for Queenside castling while creating threats against White's weak pawns by} ( 14... Qe7 $1 15. Nh4 Rg8 16. Nf5 Qa3 17. Rb1 Qxa2 $19) 15. g4 h6 16. Nh4 { Suddenly White is developing real threats against Black's centralized King.} Rg8 17. Bxh6 Qd7 18. Bd2 (18. f4 $5) 18... Rh8 19. Nf3 $2 (19. Nf5+ Bxf5 20. exf5 {would open an important line against the Black King.}) 19... Bxg4 $1 { The Pin} 20. h4 Rhg8 $6 21. Be3 Qd6 22. Bc1 Qc5 23. Rb3 Be6 $4 24. Ba3 $1 { THE PIN - big time!} Bxb3 25. Bxc5+ Bxc5 26. cxb3 Ng4 27. d4 exd4 28. cxd4 Bb4+ 29. Nd2 $2 {not a good idea to step into a pin!} (29. Kd1 $1 $18) 29... Nxd4 30. Qc4 Nc6 31. Bh3 $4 Nge5 $1 32. Qe2 Rad8 {and Black has a winning attack despite the material deficit. Both players, short of time, stopped recording their moves at this point.} 0-1

Goeller-Kernighan, KCC Summer Tourney 2005

Here is my game from last night against NM Mark Kernighan. It began as a repeat of the Grand Prix Attack line from our playoff game in the Kenilworth Chess Club Championship, but I varied with an improvement recommended by Steve Stoyko following that earlier game. As usual against Mark, I probably had a win. But as they said about Alekhine, "you have to beat him three times: in the opening, the middlegame, and the ending." Mark refuses to go down... Another escape by our Mr. Houdini.

[Event "KCC Summer Tournament"]
[Site "Kenilworth, NJ USA"]
[Date "2005.06.23"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Goeller, Michael"]
[Black "Kernighan, Mark"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B23"]
[WhiteElo "2020"]
[BlackElo "2216"]
[Annotator "Goeller,Michael"]
[PlyCount "86"]
[EventDate "2005.??.??"]
[TimeControl "G60"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 {I had actually been planning a surprise alternative but then felt unprepared to try it.} Nc6 3. f4 g6 ({Mark used to play} 3... e6 { in skittles against me exclusively, but began employing the fianchetto line when we met for our Kenilworth Chess Club Championship playoff game to decide uncontested 3rd place.}) 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. Bb5 Nd4 6. O-O Nxb5 7. Nxb5 d6 ({ Generally recommended as equal is} 7... d5 $1 {when an interesting try for advantage is the sharp} 8. e5 $5 d4 $1 9. c3 $5 a6 10. Na3 d3 $1 11. Nc4 b5 12. Ne3 Nh6 13. b3 Nf5 14. Qe1 O-O 15. Ba3 b4 $2 ( 15... Qc7 16. Qf2 Nxe3 17. Qxe3 c4 $13) 16. cxb4 cxb4 17. Bxb4 Qb6 18. Bc3 Bb7 19. Qf2 Nxe3 20. Qxe3 Qxe3+ 21. dxe3 Rfc8 22. Rac1 e6 23. Rfd1 Bf8 24. Bb2 Rc2 25. Rxc2 dxc2 26. Rc1 Be4 27. Kf2 a5 28. Ke2 a4 29. Nd2 Bf5 30. h3 axb3 31. axb3 Ra2 32. g4 Rxb2 33. gxf5 gxf5 34. Kd3 Bc5 35. Kc3 Ra2 36. Nc4 Kg7 37. b4 Ba7 {1-0, Hebden-Thorsson, Kopavogur 1994}) 8. c4 $1 { Recommended by Steve Stoyko following my earlier playoff game against Mark.} ({ I think I had played either} 8. Qe1) ({or} 8. d3 {previously.}) 8... Bd7 ({ I like the sharp} 8... a6 $1 9. Nc3 b5 $1 (9... e6 $6 10. d3 (10. d4 $1 $14) 10... Ne7 11. Be3 O-O 12. Qd2 Qc7 13. Ne2 b6 14. Ng3 Rd8 15. Qf2 f5 16. Rae1 $13 {0-1 Andersson,P-Lund,V/Hallstahammar 2001 (36)}) 10. d3 (10. cxb5 $6 axb5 11. Nxb5 $2 Ba6 $17) (10. d4 $1 $13) 10... b4 (10... Bxc3 $5 11. bxc3 bxc4 12. dxc4 Rb8 $11) 11. Ne2 f5 12. e5 Nh6 13. d4 Nf7 14. dxc5 dxe5 15. Qxd8+ $6 (15. Qa4+ $1 $14) 15... Kxd8 $13 {1-0 Rausis,I-Marcelin,C/Evry 2002 (47)}) ({ Also playable is} 8... Nf6 9. d3 O-O 10. Qe1 a6 11. Nc3 b5 12. Qh4 (12. f5 bxc4 13. dxc4 e6 14. Bg5 Bb7 15. Rd1 h6 16. Bxh6 Nxe4 17. Bg5 Nf6 18. fxg6 fxg6 19. Nd2 Bc6 {1-0 Vakhania,A-Balkhamishvili,T/Tbilisi 2002 (19)}) 12... b4 13. Ne2 e6 14. g4 $5 Nd7 15. Qh3 f5 $2 (15... Re8 $5 16. Ng5 Nf8 $13) 16. gxf5 $2 (16. Ng5 $1 Nf6 (16... h6 $2 17. Nxe6) 17. e5 $1 $16) 16... exf5 17. Ng5 Nf6 18. e5 dxe5 19. fxe5 Nh5 $1 20. Qg2 Ra7 21. Ng3 Qd4+ 22. Rf2 Nxg3 23. Qxg3 Bxe5 24. Bf4 Bxf4 25. Qxf4 Qxf4 26. Rxf4 Re8 27. d4 h6 28. Nh3 g5 29. Rf2 f4 30. Nxf4 gxf4 31. Rxf4 Rg7+ 32. Kf2 cxd4 { 0-1 Steve Pozarek-Sergei Kudrin/Washington 1990 (32)}) 9. Nc3 e6 $2 {Stoyko thought this was a very bad move. There seem to be a number of alternatives for Black:} ({a)} 9... Bc6 10. d3 Nh6 11. Qe1 Qd7 12. f5 $6 gxf5 13. Bxh6 Bxh6 14. exf5 Qxf5 15. Nh4 Qg5 16. Kh1 O-O-O 17. Rxf7 Rhf8 18. Rxh7 Rh8 19. Rxh8 Rxh8 20. Ne4 Qh5 21. Qg3 Bxe4 22. dxe4 Bg5 23. Nf3 Bf6 $13 { 1-0 Bogut,Z-Milanovic,D/Neum BIH 2004 (46)}) ({b)} 9... e5 10. d3 Ne7 11. f5 $5 gxf5 12. exf5 Bxf5 13. Nh4 Be6 14. Ne4 Qd7 15. Bh6 Kf8 16. Nf6 Qd8 17. Qd2 Ng8 18. Bxg7+ Kxg7 19. Nh5+ Kf8 20. Nf5 h6 21. Nfg7 Ke7 22. Qf2 Kd7 23. Qf3 Kc7 24. Qe4 Qd7 25. b4 cxb4 26. c5 Ne7 27. Rac1 Nc6 28. Nxe6+ fxe6 29. cxd6+ Qxd6 30. Rf7+ Kb6 31. Rc4 a5 32. Qe3+ Ka6 33. Nf6 Rab8 34. Rd7 Qf8 35. Ne4 Kb5 36. Nc3+ bxc3 37. a4+ Ka6 38. Rxc6+ b6 39. Rcc7 Ra8 40. Qe4 Qb8 41. Qc4+ b5 42. Rc6+ { 1-0 Roberts,P-Brod,M/Budapest HUN 2003 (42)}) ({c)} 9... Nh6 $5) 10. d3 $6 ({ Stoyko thought the best way to exploit Black's last move was by opening the position with} 10. d4 $1 cxd4 11. Nxd4 Qb6 $2 12. Be3 $3 Qxb2 13. Ncb5 $1 $40 ( 13. Qd3 $5 $16)) 10... Ne7 (10... Nh6 $5) 11. Be3 Qb6 12. Qd2 Nc6 13. e5 $1 ({ Stoyko thought a simple move like} 13. Kh1 {was enough for White to pursue an edge. Later, though, he was persuaded that my sharp line might be good--though he still thought that the move was just too typical of my hurried attacking style.}) 13... dxe5 14. Ne4 (14. Qf2 $5) ({Mark had expected} 14. fxe5 Nxe5 15. Nxe5 Bxe5 16. Qf2 f5 17. Bxc5 Qc7 $13 { when Black's King is stuck in the center--but he's used to that!}) 14... Nd4 ( 14... exf4 $2 15. Bxc5 Qxb2 16. Qxf4 $40) (14... Qb4 $5 15. Qf2 $36) 15. fxe5 ( {Simpler is} 15. Nxe5 f5 (15... f6 16. Nxd7 Kxd7 17. b4 $1 $36) 16. Nxc5 $1 Qxc5 17. Qf2 $16) 15... Nxf3+ 16. Rxf3 Bxe5 17. Bxc5 $2 ({We decided after the game that White had two ways to create excellent winning chances: a)} 17. Nxc5 Bc6 18. Nxe6 Qxb2 19. Nc7+ Kf8 20. Qxb2 Bxb2 21. Rb1 Rc8 22. Nd5 $16) ({ or better b)} 17. Nf6+ $1 Bxf6 (17... Kd8 18. Nxd7 Kxd7 19. Rxf7+ Kc8 20. Qf2 $18) 18. Rxf6 O-O-O { Black cannot save the f-pawn due to his weakness on the dark squares} (18... O-O $4 19. Qf2 $18 {among many others}) 19. Qf2 $1 Be8 20. Bxc5 Qc7 21. Bxa7 $18) 17... Bd4+ $1 {I had completely overlooked this move in my calculations.} ({I had expected} 17... Qc7 18. Qg5 $3 (18. Qb4 $5) 18... Bc6 19. Nf6+ Bxf6 20. Qxf6 Rg8 21. Bd6 (21. Re3 $1 $18) 21... Qd7 22. Rf2 h5 23. Raf1 $18) 18. Bxd4 Qxd4+ 19. Kh1 $6 {Since an ending is inevitable in this position, White does best to keep his King near the center.} (19. Qf2 $1 Qxf2+ 20. Rxf2 $14) 19... f5 $1 20. Qc3 Qxc3 21. Nxc3 Kf7 22. Re1 Rad8 23. Kg1 Rhe8 24. d4 Bc6 25. Rd3 e5 26. d5 {I think I offered a draw hereabouts since we both had less than 5 minutes left and I figured--correctly--that he would do much better under the clock pressure since he faced it practically in every game he played.} Bd7 27. b4 $1 e4 28. Rde3 $6 {The Rook seems too passively placed here.} ({ A better try may be} 28. Rd4 Kf6 29. c5 Ke5 30. Rdd1 $13) 28... Kf6 29. c5 Rc8 30. Rd1 ({Stoyko thought it was necessary to play} 30. g3 $13 { sooner or later--and better sooner.}) 30... Re5 31. a4 $2 {Up until this move things were about equal, but now the evaluation shifts toward Black.} ({Better } 31. Rf1 $1 Ke7 32. Kf2 $14) 31... a5 $1 32. c6 $6 bxc6 33. dxc6 Bxc6 34. b5 Ba8 35. Rd6+ Ke7 (35... Re6 $1 36. Rd7 f4 $1 $19) 36. Ra6 f4 $1 37. Rh3 h5 38. Rxa5 e3 39. Ne2 Rd5 $6 { We were both in terrible time pressure at this point, with flags about to fall.} (39... Rd8 $1 $19) 40. Rf3 Rd2 $1 (40... g5 $1) 41. Ra7+ Kf6 $2 (41... Kd6 $1 $19) (41... Ke6 42. Nxf4+) 42. Ra6+ $2 (42. Rxf4+ $1 Ke6 43. Rxa8 $5 Rxa8 44. Re4+ Kd7 45. Rxe3 Rxa4 $19) 42... Ke5 43. Nxf4 $2 Bxf3 {My flag fell as soon as he hit the clock with my Rook. Mark then started his own clock and counted 18 seconds left for himself. So it was another narrow victory for Mr. Houdini. } 0-1

Thursday, June 23, 2005

More Games from Lake Hopatcong 1923

The following two games appeared together in Herman Helms's column in the Brooklyn Eagle on August 14, 1923 in a short article buried among other "sports" coverage:


"Lasker's defeat of Kupchik, former New York State champion, came in the nature of a surprise due to the fact that the latter, one of the hardest men to outwit hereabouts, succumbed in 25 moves. The play of Lasker was quite a treat, and was an object lesson also in the advantage that can be taken of premature proclivities on the part of an opponent.

"Marshall's effort against Palmer of Iowa [elsewhere described as from Toronto - MG] was also short and sweet. The net in which the United States champion caught the black Queen is not the least interesting feature of the game."

[Event "9th American Chess Congress"]
[Site "Lake Hopatcong, NJ USA"]
[Date "1923.08.13"]
[Round "6"]
[White "Lasker, Edward"]
[Black "Kupchik, Abraham"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D30"]
[Annotator "Goeller,Michael"]
[PlyCount "49"]
[Source "Brooklyn Eagle"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 c6 3. Nbd2 d5 4. c4 e6 5. e3 Nbd7 6. Bd3 Bd6 7. e4 e5 $5 { It is risky for Black to open the position so quickly.} 8. exd5 cxd5 9. cxd5 Nxd5 10. O-O exd4 {White has a slight edge in development which he increases by not recapturing the pawn.} (10... O-O 11. Nc4 $16) 11. Nc4 (11. Ne4 $5) (11. Nxd4 O-O {would create an odd symmetry, with a line of pieces on the d-file.}) (11. Re1+ $5) 11... Be7 12. Nxd4 Nc5 {Black is at least two tempi behind in development, which is enough to give White the edge.} 13. Nf5 $1 Bxf5 (13... Nxd3 $2 14. Nxg7+ $1 Kf8 15. Bh6 Nxb2 16. Qd4 $40) 14. Bxf5 O-O 15. Qf3 $1 b5 16. Rd1 $1 bxc4 17. Rxd5 Qe8 $2 {The Queen here traps Black's Rook and creates an opportunity for an immediate attack.} (17... Qb6 18. Be3 g6) 18. Be3 ({ White can immediately win material or get a strong attack by} 18. Qh3 $1 g6 $8 (18... h6 $2 19. Bxh6 $40) 19. Bh6 $1 Rd8 (19... gxf5 $4 20. Qg3+ {mates}) ( 19... Qc6 20. Qc3 $1 Bf6 21. Qxc4 gxf5 22. Bxf8 $18) 20. Qc3 f6 $8 21. Rxd8 Qxd8 22. Bxf8 $18) ({Premature would be} 18. Bxh7+ $2 Kxh7 19. Rh5+ Kg8 20. Qh3 f5 21. Rh8+ Kf7 22. Qxf5+ Bf6 23. Rxf8+ Qxf8 $13) 18... Ne6 19. Re1 { White has tremendous pressure due to his lead in development.} Bb4 20. Red1 g6 21. Bh6 $5 Ng7 $2 ({However dangerous, Black had to go in for} 21... gxf5 22. Qxf5 Qe7) 22. Bd7 $1 Qe7 23. a3 $1 Bc5 24. Qc3 Ne6 (24... Bxf2+ $5 25. Kf1 $1 $18) (24... f6 25. Qxc4 $18) 25. Rxc5 $1 { The Rook is immune from capture due to the mate threats on g7.} 1-0

[Event "9th American Chess Congress"]
[Site "Lake Hopatcong, NJ USA"]
[Date "1923.08.13"]
[Round "6"]
[White "Marshall, Frank"]
[Black "Palmer, Marvin"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C49"]
[Annotator "Goeller,Michael"]
[PlyCount "55"]
[Source "Brooklyn Eagle"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bb5 Bb4 5. O-O O-O 6. d3 d6 7. Bg5 Bxc3 8. bxc3 h6 $6 { This appears to weaken the Kingside. The classic defensive set-ups include} ( 8... Ne7 9. Nh4 c6 10. Bc4 d5 11. Bb3 Qd6 $11) ({or} 8... Qe7 9. Re1 Nd8 10. d4 Bg4 {as in the game, but without ...h6.}) 9. Bh4 Qe7 10. Re1 Nd8 11. d4 Bg4 12. h3 Bxf3 13. Qxf3 Ne6 14. Rad1 g5 {This is such a natural consequence to the weakening at move 8 that it hardly warrants a question mark.} 15. Bg3 Nf4 16. Bxf4 gxf4 17. g3 fxg3 18. fxg3 {Marshall knew how to blast open a position once his opponent had a weakened King. But here the opened lines can lead to exchanges.} Kg7 19. Rd2 Nh7 20. h4 Rad8 $2 (20... Qf6 $1 21. Qg4+ Qg6 $11) 21. Rf2 Rg8 22. Kh2 Qf6 {Too late--now White has a strong initiative.} 23. Qe3 Qg6 24. Ref1 Rgf8 25. Rf5 c6 26. Bc4 Rd7 $2 (26... f6 27. Qf3 b5) 27. h5 $1 Qg4 ( 27... Nf6 {with the threat Ng4+} 28. Rxf6 $1 $18) 28. Be2 { And the Queen is trapped.} 1-0

Lake Hopatcong 1923

Only New York (with tournaments in 1924 and 1927) and Atlantic City (1921, documented by Hilbert) are about as close to Kenilworth as Lake Hopatcong, where two relatively major historical tournaments were held in 1923 and 1926. So it makes sense to put these materials together for our site. In fact, I imagine there are players attending our club who have often visited New Jersey's largest lake without ever suspecting that two major U.S. tournaments were conducted on its shores in the now vanished Hotel Alamac.

The proprietors of the Alamac sponsored both Lake Hopatcong events as well as the New York 1924 tournament (at a city hotel of the same name). Looking through the history of these tournaments, you recognize that they could never have happened without the help of interested philanthropists. We need to do more to cultivate such support from well-off chessplayers today.

Here is one of the 42 games I've unearthed from the 9th American Chess Congress at Lake Hopatcong 1923. It is introduced nicely by Hermann Helms in his August 13, 1923 column in the Brooklyn Eagle thus:

"What Janowski can do when at his best was shown in his game with Morrison, the Canadian champion, in the fifth round of the chess tournament at Lake Hopatcong. The latter, at London, distinguished himself by making a great fight against Capablanca, even though he finally lost. He was as clay in the potter's hands when it came to meeting the French champion [Janowski was from Paris - MG]. The game went to 33 moves and ended in a forced mate, but all the way through one could discern the master hand that was gradually enmeshing the man from the Dominion across the border. His 11th move was a sheer loss of time, and that sort of thing bodes ill for a player in a game of such importance.

"As soon as Janowski had posted his Queen and two Rooks on the open King's file, the end was in sight. A curious feature was that Janowski had a forced mate in two moves at his 31st turn but overlooked it. The checkmate, however, was delayed for only a couple of additional moves."

[Event "9th American Chess Congress"]
[Site "Lake Hopatcong, NJ USA"]
[Date "1923.08.12"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Janowski, David"]
[Black "Morrison, John S."]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D30"]
[Annotator "Goeller,Michael"]
[PlyCount "65"]
[Source "Brooklyn Eagle"]

1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 e6 3. c4 c5 4. e3 Nf6 5. Bd3 {In such a sharp symmetrical position, this would seem to risk wasting a tempo. But the Bishop has no better square, and an exchange of pawns in the center will clarify things in White's favor.} Nc6 6. O-O Bd6 (6... Nb4 $5) 7. Nc3 O-O { Black continues the symmetry, which is always risky for the second player.} 8. b3 b6 9. Bb2 cxd4 {Black finally breaks the symmetry to close down the dark-squared Bishop's long-diagonal by settling a pawn on d4.} 10. exd4 Bb7 ({ The Bishop could also develop differently with} 10... Ba6 { though the position is sharp after} 11. Nb5 $5 (11. a3) 11... dxc4 (11... Bxb5 $6 12. cxb5 Ne7 13. Ne5 $14) (11... Be7 12. Ne5 $14) 12. bxc4 Bxb5 $1 13. cxb5 Nb4 $11) 11. Re1 Rc8 $6 {Black makes the first innacuracy.} 12. cxd5 exd5 13. Bf5 $1 Ra8 14. Ne5 g6 15. Bh3 Re8 16. Nb5 Bb4 17. Re3 a6 18. Na3 Ne4 19. Nc2 $1 ({Less accurate is} 19. Bd7 $6 Nxf2 $1 20. Kxf2 Rxe5 $1 21. dxe5 Qxd7 $44 { which appears to give Black sufficient compensation for the exchange.}) 19... Nxe5 (19... Bd6 20. f3 Nf6 21. Qe1 $14) 20. Nxb4 Nc6 21. Nd3 f5 22. g3 { A multi-purpose move, keeping Black's Queen out of h4, providing the Bishop a retreat square, and strengthening White's grip on the dark squares.} Qf6 23. Nf4 Ne7 $2 {A critical error which gives White a powerful grip on the e-file which decides the game.} (23... Rad8 24. f3 (24. Bg2 g5 $5) 24... Ng5 $11) 24. f3 Ng5 25. Bg2 b5 $2 ({Black would only lose a pawn after} 25... Nc6 26. Nxd5 Qd6) 26. Qe2 $1 Qd6 27. Re1 {A powerful line-up of the heavy pieces which some have called "Alekhine's cannon."} Kf8 ({Necessary was} 27... Ne4 28. fxe4 dxe4 {though this seems tanatamount to resignation.}) 28. Ne6+ Nxe6 29. Rxe6 Qb4 ( 29... Qd7 30. Ba3 $1) 30. Qe5 Bc6 $2 {Defending the Rook with the hope of moving the Knight, but this allows a speedy finish.} ({ Janowski must have expected the superior 30... Kg8 {when he would win with} 31. Bc1 $1 $18 { and this may explain his next move, overlooking a quicker finish.}) 31. Bc1 $6 {This adds quite a few extra moves to the finish. Black could have been mated immediately with} (31. Qh8+ $1 Ng8 (31... Kf7 32. Rf6#) 32. Rf6#) 31... Ng8 32. Bh6+ Nxh6 33. Qh8+ {and mate next move.} 1-0

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Lake Hopatcong tournaments

I began looking over the materials I have gathered on Lake Hopatcong 1926, a five-master double-round-robin tournament with Capablanca, Kupchik, Maroczy, Marshall and Ed. Lasker (who finished in that order). My goal is to put together a mini-site about the event, featuring the 20 games deeply annotated, as part of our Kenilworth club site. I hope to have it up before the end of the summer. That way there will be a full year's lag time before the 80th anniversary of the event--plenty of time for the site to become the first hit when people search for "Lake Hopatcong 1926" on Google.

The most important document on the tournament is "The Book of the Pan-American Chess Tournament, 1926" edited by Hermann Helms with game annotations by C. S. Howell. Howell's annotations are quite good, and I have been impressed by notes and analysis I've read of his in the past. Here are Howell's notes and my own (with assistance from Fritz) on the key first-round game:

[Event "Lake Hopatcong"]
[Site "Lake Hopatcong, NJ USA"]
[Date "1926.07.07"]
[Round "1"]
[White "Capablanca, Jose Raul"]
[Black "Lasker, Edward"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D52"]
[Annotator "C.S. Howell / M. J. Goeller / Fritz / Junior"]
[PlyCount "59"]
[EventDate "1926.07.??"]
[Source "Tournament book"]

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 c6 3. d4 d5 4. Nc3 e6 ({Annotator C. S. Howell writes: "This gives Black a cramped game and, in my opinion, is inferior to} 4... dxc4 {" when today's "book" line goes} 5. a4 Bf5 6. e3 (6. Ne5 $5) 6... e6 7. Bxc4 Bb4 8. O-O {and White has recovered his pawn, though the battle still rages over the e4-square.}) 5. Bg5 Nbd7 6. e3 Qa5 {The Cambridge Springs Defense, popularized in the 1904 tournament in that Pennsylvania resort town.} 7. cxd5 { The safest line for White.} ({Not} 7. Bd3 $2 dxc4 $1 8. Bxc4 Ne4 $1 $17) ({ Stronger may be} 7. Nd2 Bb4 8. Qc2) 7... exd5 $6 ({Much better is} 7... Nxd5 8. Qd2 Bb4 9. Rc1 O-O $11) 8. Bd3 Ne4 9. O-O Ndf6 (9... Nxc3 $6 10. bxc3 ({ Howell also suggests} 10. Qe1 Bb4 $6 11. a3 $14) 10... Qxc3 11. e4 (11. Qe2 $5 $44 {Howell}) 11... dxe4 (11... h6 12. Bh4 $5 g5 13. Bg3 $44) 12. Bxe4 Bd6 13. d5 (13. Qb1 $5) 13... c5 14. Rc1 $44) 10. Bxf6 $1 Nxc3 $6 ({Better} 10... Nxf6 {though, as Howell suggests, White would then be able to centralize his knight with} 11. Ne5 ({also possible is} 11. a3 Bd6 12. b4 $14 {or the similar}) (11. Re1 Bb4 12. Qc2 O-O 13. a3 Bd6 14. b4 $14 {and Black has the two Bishops to compensate for White's space advantage on the queenside.})) 11. bxc3 gxf6 { Now Black's pawns are permanently damaged--just the kind of long-term target that Capablanca liked to gain out of the opening. In compensation, Black controls e5, has an open g-file, and the two Bishops. But as Howell points out, "doubled and isolated pawns...lose more often than open files win."} 12. Qc2 Bd6 13. Bf5 $5 {Trying to gain the f5 square for his Queen, from which he can exploit Black's doubled pawns.} Be6 14. Rab1 Qc7 15. Bxe6 $5 {Trading one advantage for another. Now White opens the position favorably for his pieces while Black's pawns at e6 and f6 remain weak.} fxe6 16. e4 O-O-O {Howell notes that castling queenside is "Dangerous, of course, in view of the open b-file, but Black's game is shaky and his evident intention is to try for a King's side attack, utilizing his own open Knight file. Unfortunately White has both the center and the initiative and, as will be seen, his attack proceeds so rapidly [that] Black has not time to counter-attack."} 17. c4 $1 Bf4 $6 { Howell writes: "...this loses time and takes the B away from the defence of the K. However, Black may have wanted to prevent the posting of a white R on c1 or, forseeing e5, to be sure to keep the White Knight out of g5. A better resistance might have been madewith"} (17... dxc4 18. Qxc4 Qf7 19. e5 ({ perhaps better} 19. Rb3 $1 Bc7 20. Rfb1 Bb6 21. a4 $40) 19... Bc7 20. Rb3 Rd5 $1 21. Rfb1 Bb6 $13) 18. Rb3 {The Rook clears the way for its partner to double on the b-file while also gaining maximum mobility along the third rank.} dxc4 19. Qxc4 Qf7 20. Rfb1 Rd7 21. e5 {Cutting off the Bishop's retreat so that the Black King is denuded of defenders.} fxe5 22. dxe5 Rhd8 $2 {Howell writes: "This looks like an oversight but probably was not. Black is in danger of being slowly but surely strangled to death and, therefore, plays desperately to exchange a piece or so in hopes of relieving the pressure."} (22... Rc7 23. Ne1 $5 (23. g3 Rg8 24. Kh1 Bh6 25. Nd4 $16) (23. a4) 23... Bxe5 24. Qc5 Qg7 25. Nf3 Rg8 26. g3 Bf6 27. Qxa7 $40) 23. Qxc6+ $1 Kb8 (23... bxc6 $4 24. Rb8+ Kc7 25. R1b7#) 24. g3 Rd1+ 25. Kg2 ({The natural} 25. Rxd1 Rxd1+ 26. Kg2 { gives Black an extra tempo.}) 25... Rxb1 26. Rxb1 Rd5 27. Qc3 ({Not} 27. gxf4 $2 Qg6+ 28. Kh3 Qxb1 {and White must try for a perpetual check with} 29. Qe8+ Kc7 30. Qe7+ Kc6 31. Qxe6+ Kc5 32. Qc8+ Kb6 33. Qe6+ $11) 27... Qf5 (27... Bh6 $142) 28. Qb4 $1 b5 29. Nh4 a5 30. Qxb5+ $1 {Simplification combined with material gain completes the game. "Of course, if 30...Rxb5 31.Rxb5+ K moves 32. Nxf5. A good example of the champion's direct and forceful play against a cramped defence" writes Howell.} 1-0

Capablanca's style is exemplified here as he slowly builds up small advantages until his opponent is crushed. The winning moment is at move 23:

White to play and win.

There's a nice little puzzle for you. The solution is in the game score.

As I was reading through the tournament book, I saw mention of an earlier Lake Hopatcong tournament in 1923. I remember coming across mention of that event when I was putting together materials for the Frank Marshall website. The main research and html there is by a fellow named Adaucto Wanderley. But he did not have the full crosstable from Lake Hopatcong 1923. That came from Jim Kulbacki who had been doing research on the career of Abraham Kupchik. Jim came upon the Marshall site and took the time to provide the information we were missing. Since we had the crosstable, I assumed that most of the games would also be available. But a search through various databases (including ChessBase's MegaBase and most online resources) left me mostly empty handed. I eventually put together 16 out of the 91 games, most of which came from (This impressed me, by the way. I always considered an excellent site, but I didn't realize what superior coverage of classic games they had--especially compared to the other databases, which obviously focus mostly on new materials for opening analysis.

Of course, 16 games was not itself impressive. But I knew there were more out there. Fortunately, one of the PGNs I turned up gave me the month of the event as August 1923. So on my lunch hour today at work I stopped by the Rutgers library and went through the August 1923 micro-film on the Brooklyn Eagle with Hermann Helms's excellent chess column, and I was not surprised to find many more than the 16 currently available. While a number of the games repeat those I had, at least 26 were original, plus two qualifying games for non-masters trying to enter the event. That gives me a total of 42 out of the 91 total played (not counting the two qualifiers). Not a bad haul. And there may be even more out there since I was quite short of time and likely did not do a thorough search.

I was surprised by how much coverage Lake Hopatcong 1923 received in the Eagle. Typically, Helms's column appeared on Thursdays in the Sports Section and might feature one or two game scores. During the 1923 tournament, the column ran every day and sometimes showed four or five games! Pretty impressive for the time, and an incredible resource for the amateur chess historian.

I will try to decipher the score to a good game from the 1923 tournament and post that tomorrow. I will also be including the 42 games from the earlier Lake Hopatcong event as part of my mini-site project.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Mann-Demetrick, KCC Summer Tournament 2005

Joe Demetrick sent me the following game from Thursday night, complete with his Fritz-assisted annotations (to which I added my own Fritz-assisted notes). The opening is of interest to anyone who plays the Scotch, as Black played inaccurately but White tried too quickly to punish him for it.

Position after 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nxd4 Bc5
5. Be3 Qe7 6.Nf5!? Qxe4 7.Nxg7+ Kf8 -- What a mess!

The middlegame that arose from this position was rather crazy and tactical, as you'd expect, and both sides missed things in the muddle. But then Joe was able to resolve things into a pawn-up Knight versus Bishop ending that he won nicely. Here is the position he started from in the ending:

Position after 30.Kxd1 in the game.

This is the type of position you should use for training against your computer. Black should win, but the Bishop's mobility and White's outside passed pawn can make it difficult. My impression is that Joe played it rather well.

Here is the PGN file from the game. You be the judge:

[Event "Kenilworth Summer"]
[Site "Kenilworth, NJ"]
[Date "2005.06.16"]
[Round "3"]
[White "Mann, Ted"]
[Black "Demetrick, Joe"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C45"]
[WhiteElo "1436"]
[BlackElo "1447"]
[PlyCount "88"]

{I got the better of Ted the last time that we played in the Club Championship where he had an ill-advised Bishop sacrifice in a c3 Sicilian opening. In this game, White gains some initiative in the opening, gives it back, and Black repeatedly passes on ways to end the game quickly} 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nxd4 Bc5 5. Be3 Qe7 $6 { loses the way in the opening, and Ted gains the initiative} (5... Qf6 6. c3 Nge7 7. Bc4 {a much better response than what was played in the game...}) 6. Nf5 $5 {White may be trying too hard here to prove Black's last move an error. Better is simply} (6. Nc3 $1 {and Black's Queen will eventually feel misplaced. } Nxd4 7. Bxd4 Nf6 8. Bc4 O-O 9. O-O Bxd4 10. Qxd4 d6 11. Rae1 Re8 12. f4 $14 {Goeller}) 6... Qxe4 7. Nxg7+ Kf8 8. Nc3 (8. Nd2 Qe5 9. Nc4 {is recommended by Fritz (Demetrick)...but Black has} Bb4+ $1 10. c3 Bxc3+ $1 11. bxc3 Qxc3+ 12. Bd2 Qxg7 {and it is unlikely that White has compensation for his two pawns. Goeller}) 8... Qe5 9. Nh5 {interestingly, this position felt worse while playing the game at this point - Black's King is not in a good spot - Fritz analyzes as =+ Demetrick} Bxe3 10. fxe3 Qxe3+ 11. Be2 Nge7 ({Better} 11... Nd4 $1 12. Rf1 d6 {and it is hard for White to avoid exchanges that will make Black's extra pawn tell. Goeller}) 12. Rf1 $6 ({ White has to play more aggressively to get compensation:} 12. Nf6 $5) ({or} 12. Nb5 Qe5 (12... Rg8 $5 13. Qd3 $1 $14) 13. Qd2 $44) 12... Rg8 (12... Nd4 $1) 13. Rf3 $6 Qg1+ 14. Bf1 d6 {trying to get more pieces into the fray} (14... Rxg2 { and it gets a little crazy with..} 15. Rxf7+ Kxf7 16. Qf3+ Ke8 17. Nf6+ Kd8 18. Qxg2) (14... Qxh2 $5) (14... Ne5 $5) 15. Nf6 Rg7 $6 {a little too passive..} ( 15... Rxg2 $1) 16. Qd3 Ne5 (16... Qxh2) (16... Rg6) 17. Nxh7+ Rxh7 $2 $11 ( 17... Ke8 $19 {and everything seems to hang for White}) 18. Qxh7 Nxf3+ 19. gxf3 Qe3+ 20. Ne2 (20. Be2 {much better...} Ng6 21. Kf1 Be6 22. Re1) 20... Qxf3 ( 20... Ng6 $1) 21. O-O-O $1 Bg4 22. Re1 $2 (22. Qh6+ $1 Kg8 (22... Ke8 $2 23. Qh8+ $18) 23. h3 (23. Nf4 $4 Qxd1#) 23... Bh5 24. Nc3 {
makes Black's king very uncomfortable.}) 22... Ng8 $6 (22... Qe3+ $1 23. Kb1 ( 23. Kd1 Ng6 $19) 23... Ng6 $17 {and White cannot unravel his pieces. Goeller}) 23. Kb1 $2 Qf2 $1 $19 24. Rc1 Re8 $2 {fails again to win the game...} (24... Bxe2 $1 25. Bxe2 Qxe2 26. Rg1 { what I feared in this variation... but Black sidesteps the attack with} Ke7 $1 27. a3 Nf6 {Demetrick}) 25. Nc3 (25. Ng3 {supporting the Bishop} Re1 26. b3 Rxc1+ 27. Kxc1) 25... Re1 26. Qd3 Rxc1+ $6 {here I think in retrospect that the idea is to maintain the tension, but I decided to go into the endgame a pawn up} (26... Bf5 $3) 27. Kxc1 Qe1+ 28. Nd1 Qxd1+ 29. Qxd1 Bxd1 30. Kxd1 c5 { setting the pawns on the dark squares} 31. c4 b6 32. a4 Ke7 33. Kd2 Ke6 34. Bg2 Ne7 35. Kd3 Ke5 36. h4 Kf5 (36... Ng6 $1 37. h5 $4 Nf4+ $19) 37. h5 Kg5 38. Bf3 f5 {keeping the King out..} 39. Ke3 Ng8 40. b3 Nf6 41. h6 Kxh6 42. Kf4 Kg6 43. Ke3 Nd7 44. Bc6 Ne5 0-1

Friday, June 17, 2005

Laukik Gadgil's Games

Here are the promised games by Laukik. In both, he manages to get a tremendous attack going against the Sicilian. I tend to agree with Mark that in the first game with him, the Knight sac with 13.Nd5!? is probably unsound, but I have not had a chance to look through it closely with Fritz and may reach a different conclusion. Meanwhile, in the game against Greg there is no question that Laukik missed a mate--if only he had not taken Greg's desperation Rook sac with his Knight but had moved 21.Kb1!! there just would be nothing to stop an inevitable ...Qf7#.

[Event "KCC Summer Tournament"]
[Site "Kenilworth, NJ USA"]
[Date "2005.06.16"]
[White "Gadgil, Laukik"]
[Black "Tomkovich, Greg"]
[Result "0-1"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 g6 6. f3 Bg7 7. Be3 O-O 8. Qd2 Re8 {This is very slow. More common is 8...Nc6 which has the same effect of preventing 9.Bh6 exchanging off the Bishops.} 9. O-O-O Nc6 10. g4 Bd7 11. h4 Rc8 12. h5 Ne5 13. hxg6 fxg6 14. Bh6 Bh8 15. Qh2 Nc4 16. Bg5 Nxb2 17. Bxf6 Bxf6 18. Qxh7 Kf8 19. Qxg6 Rxc3 20. Rh7 { Wow! That's a strong move. How does Black avoid mate?} Rxc2 21. Nxc2 { Ah! White can simply decline the Rook and play 21.Kb1!! and there is nothing that Black can do about mate at f7.} Be6 22. Bb5 Nxd1 23. Bxe8 Qxe8 24. Qxe8 Kxe8 25. Kxd1 Bxa2 26. Kd2 { White is still a little better, having the exchange for a pawn and a potentially winning passed pawn on the kingside.} a5 27. Rh5 a4 28. Rb5 { White starts to go wrong. It was best to activate his own pawns and keep his Rook on the kingside with f4 and g5.} Bb3 29. Rxb7 Bb2 30. Ke3 Bc1 31. Kd3 d5 32. exd5 Bxd5 33. Rb8 Kf7 34. Nd4 a3 35. Rb6 a2 36. Nc2 Bxf3 37. Kd4 Bxg4 38. Ra6 Be6 39. Nb4 { A blunder. White should still hold the draw with best play, though it wil be hard.} a1=Q 40. Rxa1 Bb2 0-1

[Event "KCC Summer Tournament"]
[Site "Kenilworth, NJ USA"]
[Date "2005.06.09"]
[White "Gadgil, Laukik"]
[Black "Kernighan, Mark"]
[Result "0-1"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 d6 6. Bg5 e6 7. Qd2 Be7 8. O-O-O a6 9. Bc4 Bd7 10. f3 Qc7 11. Bb3 Na5 12. Rhe1 b5 13. Nd5 Nxb3 14. axb3 exd5 15. exd5 Kf8 16. Bh6 Ng8 17. Rxe7 Nxe7 18. Qg5 gxh6 19. Qxh6 Kg8 20. Re1 Qd8 21. Ne6 fxe6 22. dxe6 Nf5 23. Qh3 Qg5 24. Kb1 Re8 25. exd7 Rxe1 26. Ka2 Kf7 0-1

Game against Mike Wojcio

At last night's meeting, Mike Wojcio brought more than 100 old photos of the club, mostly from the 1990s, and laid them all around for us to see and for me to pick from for the website. Mike has been a fixture of the Kenilworth Club since the beginning and has done a lot to keep it going over the years. His History of the Kenilworth Chess Club is a great piece, and I hope he is willing to make future contributions to our site (maybe by annotating some games from the U.S. Open when he goes later this summer - hint, hint).

After talking about pictures, we played each other in the Summer Tournament. Mike lost too much time in the opening and was punished accordingly:

[Event "KCC Summer Tournament"]
[Site "Kenilworth, NJ USA"]
[Date "2005.06.16"]
[White "Wojcio, Mike"]
[Black "Goeller, Mike"]
[Result "0-1"]

1. e4 Nc6 2. Nf3 d6 3. c3 {This move wastes time, since White can easily play 3.d4 without this extra support. The move also makes it difficult to defend the e-pawn comfortably, as we shall see. Most of my games go 3.d4 Nf6 4.Nc3 Bg4 =} Nf6 4. Qe2 Bg4 5. g3 {The Bishop needs to develop, but this move weakens the support of the Knight at f3 and hands Black the initiative.} d5 {Mike almost played 6.e5? Nxe5!} 6. exd5 Qxd5 7. Bg2 O-O-O 8. d4 e5 9. c4 {A blunder, but White is in trouble.} Qa5 {Black can also win a pawn by 9...Nxd4!? but this is stronger.} 10. Bd2 Bb4 11. d5 e4 {I wanted to open the e-file, but likely 11....Nd4! is even stronger.} 12. O-O Nd4 {Easier is simply 12...exf3. Now White loses his Queen but gets some tricky tactics against my king.} 13. Nxd4 Bxe2 14. Bxb4 Qxb4 15. Nxe2 Qxb2 16. Nbc3 Qb4 17. Nb5 Qxc4 18. Ned4 Qxd5 19. Nxa7 Kb8 20. Nab5 c6 21. Nxc6 Qxc6 22. a4 Rd2 23. Rac1 Qb6 24. Nc3 e3 25. Rb1 exf2 26. Kh1 Rb2 27. a5 Qb3 28. Rxb2 Qxb2 29. Na4 Qb4 30. Nb6 Qxa5 31. Rb1 Qe1 0-1

I had no PGN editor handy to put that file together, but I found a good one online from Chessters by Andrew Lapides. It took a little time and one annoying wrong button push, but I thought it was a useful little program. My advice: remember to use the "edit" and "save" buttons when creating PGNs and no others.

I also got two games by our newest member, Laukik Gadgil, who recently graduated from Rutgers University in New Brunswick and has been spending what free time he has (outside the job search) playing and studying chess. I hope to post those games later today or tomorrow when I have time. Laukik had Greg Tomkovich on the ropes in their game and probably could have forced mate at one point, but Greg's experience and a little trickery won out.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

We Need TDs

I have been doing a little investigating online and have found that the best way to build your club is by running rated events that are advertised widely. And in order to do that, you really need some TDs. Fortunately, becoming a Club TD is not difficult--it just takes submitting a simple application. I am going to bring this up at the club next time and make it my goal to get three other members to commit to becoming TDs this year. To support us in our quest, I'm going to build a mini-site devoted to getting TD certification.

I also read an interesting discussion on boosting club attendance in the USCF forums. I think we are doing practically everything that anyone suggested except running more rated events and working to organize local scholastic organizations. We could also be doing more to promote the club simply by distributing flyers at state tournaments and at other clubs.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Re-invigorating the Club

A recent posting by Mig Greengard at his Daily Dirt Blog asked "Lights Out for Clubs?" He had just been to the St. Petersburg chess club to find its doors closed and the building in disrepair, and he wondered whether chess clubs will survive at all in this age of online play. The question was provocative and got some comments and discussion going (including my own contribution). The most interesting response, though, came from a member of the MetroWest chess club outside of Boston:

"Our club, the MetroWest Chess Club (just west of Boston, Mass, USA) is thriving. We are a one-night-a-week only club that regularly draws 75-90 players every Tuesday night. We have an expert do a lesson each Tuesday early; then we play one round of a Swiss event (one each month, 4 or 5 rounds depending). We have a seperate Chess School on Thursdays now, and we run a scholasic event on Thursdays in the summer. We have a *huge* web site at (check it out for ideas).

"Part of our success is a system to train and retain volunteers; particularly Tournament Directors (which I am one). Also, we've incorporated as a Not-for-Profit corporation and have a full slate of officers, board members, etc.

"Our club President is a major driving force behind all of this, but one of his main goals is putting procedures in place so that he, or any one person for that matter, isn't necessary for running the Club. The procedures also help cultivate volunteers to replace those who tail off due to burnout, and more importantly, spread the load of work so there *isn't* burnout among us.

"We were the USCF Club of the Year in 2003, so we must be doing something right ;-)"

I had been to the MetroWest site several times of late, trying to "check it out for ideas" as the writer suggests. I have already noted in an earlier posting the excellent class they are running on building an opening repertoire using Larry Kaufman's "Chess Advantage in Black and White." I was impressed even then by the activity at the club, which they have kept track of diligently and even graphed. Looking at the chart of monthly attendance averages, I was at first struck by the fact that they averaged over 100 attendees a night in the Fall of 2003! But a little more looking and I was happy to note that back in the 1990s, their attendance was actually not that much greater than our own. And the first thing that seems to have tipped the balance was that they built a website in 1997. From that point forward, the club attendance began to climb dramatically.

I'm not suggesting, though, that building a website is sufficient to build a club. But it is a good first step and offers club members a vehicle for encouraging other positive practices. I am almost ready to make a list of those so we have things to think about.

Here is my wish list:

1) Tournament Directors. I did not realize how easy it is to become a club tournament director. I want to get a large group of us (anyone willing) to take the plunge and become official club directors. To that end, we should purchase several copies of the 5th edition of the USCF chess rules.

2) If we start building up a base of tournament directors, we will be able to run rated tournaments, including tournaments on Saturdays or other days than club nights. Mike Wojcio and Bill Cohen were able to organize several such Saturday events in the 1990s, and it might be worth trying that again.

3) Lectures, simuls, chess courses, and other events help to advertise the club and can be used to draw in more members. Steve Stoyko is working on a class to start late summer or fall.

4) Scholastic events and classes to help build up a young cohort of players. There was some discussion of meeting a bit earlier, and one argument for that is to encourage more young players to attend. The Dumont Chess Mates, for example, begins 5:30-7 as a scholatic club before the regular club runs from 7-11. That sounds like a good model to work toward. Of course, we have to start by cultivating some local talent.

5) Incorporating as a not-for-profit in order to solicit donations and create other advantages.

6) Do more to cultivate volunteers among our membership.

7) Do more to work with the local community to promote the club among residents or locals.

8) Build up a lending library at the club from donated books, magazines, and other materials. MetroWest has quite a list, and even a director of their library.

I will continue to look at other clubs (especially through their websites) and to research our own history in order to get more ideas to help build up the club. The website has been a good start, but more local action is needed to make a difference.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Summer Tournament

Here are the results so far for the summer tournament:

Kenilworth Summer Tournament
01 M Kernighan 2213 2.0
02 S Massey 2213 0.0
03 M Goeller 2023 1.5
04 J Moldovan 1774 0.0
05 G Tomkovich 1723 1.0
06 M Wojcio 1666 1.0
07 E Selling 1659 0.0
08 P Cavaliere 1622 0.5
09 T Mann 1436 0.0
10 J Demetrick 1447 0.0
11 P Mazzillo 1288 0.0
12 B Sokolosky 1145 0.0
13 J Moreno UNR 1.0
14 J Rodriguez UNR 0.0
15 Laukik UNR 0.0

Saturday, June 11, 2005

"Chess Course" Idea and Summer Tournament

Steve Stoyko and I discussed the idea of organizing a chess course, on the model of one running at MetroWest Chess Club in the Boston area. There, Josh Friedel is teaching an intensive opening repertoire course built around Larry Kaufman's excellent "textbook" The Chess Advantage in Black and White. IM James Rizzitano is even giving a special class on the Bb5 Anti-Sicilians that Kaufman recommends. It's a great idea, of course, and a good book to choose -- though not one exactly to Steve's tastes. He also wants to do something more original as a step toward writing his own book. So it would be a great opportunity for him to start doing that. We are going to meet next week to discuss it more and create a calendar, with plenty of lead-time for advertising around the various clubs and online. We would also have to plan the repertoire, since it would be one he'd build from scratch, likely around the isolated queen pawn positions he lectured on previously at the club. We'd use mostly xeroxed articles as readings, unless there is a good-enough book, supplemented by some online materials and game files. Suggestions and ideas from club members (or anyone else who might attend) are welcome.

The Summer Tournament continued with more people joining, but I did not pay close attention to the evening's results. I will have to find out from Greg Tomkovich and post again later. I did notice that Mark Kernighan, as usual, suffered through a frightening attack against his King in a Sicilian but did his usual "Houdini" trick and won. I also won my game, this time against Javier Moreno. After he beat Joe Demetrick last week I was very curious to see how he played. I think he needs to work on his openings, as you'll agree--but for someone who does not read chess books generally, he is quite good. Here is the game in PGN:

[Event "Kenilworth CC Summer Tournament"]
[Site "Kenilworth, NJ USA"]
[Date "2005.06.09"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Moreno, Javier"]
[Black "Goeller, Michael"]
[Result "0-1"]
[PlyCount "76"]
[TimeControl "G60"]

1. e4 Nc6 2. Nf3 d6 {A rather typical position arising from the Nimzovich Defense.} 3. a3 $6 Bg4 {Black is now relatively equal. White really gains next to nothing from his pawn push, since no Black piece is kept out of b4.} 4. d3 e6 5. Be2 Nf6 6. Bg5 h6 7. Bxf6 $6 {Willingly surrendering the two Bishops is not a good idea in this relatively open position.} Qxf6 8. c3 O-O-O 9. b4 $6 (9. d4 $5) 9... d5 {"The best way to meet an attack on the wing is in the center."} 10. exd5 (10.b5 $2 dxe4 11. bxc6 exf3 12. cxb7+ Kb8 13. Bxf3 Bxf3 14. gxf3 Qg6 $17) 10... exd5 11. b5 (11. d4) 11... Ne5 12. Nd4 (12. Nxe5 Qxe5 13. d4 Qe6 14. h3 Bh5 15. Kf1) 12... Bxe2 13. Qxe2 Bc5 $1 14. O-O (14. Nb3 $2 Bxf2+ $1 15. Qxf2 $4 Nxd3+ $19) {This appears to win a pawn fairly easily. But keeping material on theboard to organize a kingside attack was probably a stronger option, especially given Black's lead in development.} 14... Bxd4 (14... Rhe8 $1 15. Nb3 Qh4 $5 16. h3 Bd6 17. d4 Ng6 $36) 15. cxd4 Ng6 16. Qb2 $6 (16. Qg4+ Kb8 17. Nc3 h5 $17) 16... Nf4 17. a4 Nxd3 18. Qc3 Nf4 19. Kh1 Ne2 20. Qd3 (20. Qh3+ Kb8 21. Nc3) 20... Qxd4 21. Qxd4 Nxd4 22. Nc3 Nb3 {With the idea of inviting the Rook to abandon the back rank while repositioning the Knight to support a pawn push tod3 and beyond.} 23. Ra3 Nc5 24. Rd1 d4 25. Na2 Rhe8 26. a5 $2 d3 27. b6 $2 d2 $1 28. Re3 axb6 29. axb6 Nd3 30. h3 $2 Nxf2+ 31. Kh2 $2 Rxe3 32. Rf1 Re1 (32... d1=Q 33. Rxd1 Rxd1 34. g4 Ne4 $1 {mates more quickly.}) 33. Rxf2 d1=Q 34. g4 Qd6+ 35. Kg2 Qc6+ 36. Kg3 Rg1+ 37. Kh4 g5+ 38. Kh5 Qg6# 0-1

The Summer film festival was put on hold as a good turn-out prompted lots of games, discussion, and analysis. Besides, there was a good basketball game.... I had prepared to show Luzhin's Defense, which I may bring again next week. It is a flawed film--mostly because its main character is so unlikable. If we do not get to see it, I don't much mind.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

A History of the Kenilworth Chess Club

I finally posted "A History of the Kenilworth Chess Club" by former president Mike Wojcio at our site. It is linked off of the Articles page. This may be the best work I've put up so far, and certainly the most difficult to prepare. Mike says that writing the article was like having a second job for a month. I can say that editing it, finding and editing photos, and preparing the game files for display has been the same for me. I think we're both glad that we were able to put it together before memories have faded and materials gone lost, and the final product makes it all worthwhile.

These local histories of chess generally go unwritten, yet they can be valuable not only as the "heritage" for specific communities but as social artifacts that can lend detail to other histories. For example, what Mike writes about the rise and decline of the club through the 70s and 80s says a lot about how Bobby Fischer both positively and negatively impacted chess involvement in the U.S. I look at pieces like "A History of the National High School Chess Championship" by Steve Immitt and I'm glad that somebody took the time to write this down and make it widely available. I'm not sure how it will be useful to us in the future (except perhaps as nostalgia for the participants or facts to compare future championships against), but I sense that it has value. At the very least it "adds to the total sum of shared knowledge," as John S. Hilbert writes. It makes us, as either historians or readers, feel part of something larger than ourselves because we recognize a connection to the past in these stories.

I really enjoy putting together online chess history materials, since it seems to bring together all of my skills at researching, writing, and analyzing. I'm especially proud of my mini-site devoted to The Dimock Theme Tournament, New York 1924, which I prepared as part of my Urusov Gambit website. I have been contemplating similar projects and may also undertake a piece on the tournament held at Lake Hopatcong, NJ in 1926 in anticipation of its 80th anniversary. I have a xerox copy of the original tournament book and have found that most of the games still are not in the databases. But I was disappointed to learn that the exact site where it was held no longer exists. I have also contemplated putting together the games from other classic Theme Tournaments held at the Marshall Chess Club during the Marshall years, but my initial research suggests that none were as good as the 1924 event which I've already done.

I like the classic theme tournaments because it's history you can potentially still use as a player, since sometimes the opening knowledge from these lost events adds significantly to theory. For instance, the lost game Torre-Santasiere, Dimock Theme Tournament 1924, which I unearthed in my research, had a big impact on my thinking about this important line in the Urusov. And games played in the tournament also showed that a line of the Perreux Two Knights long thought better for White is probably roughly equal, but because these games were missing from the databases no one really knew it....

So I'm glad to have this project finished, but it does make me hungry for a new one. I'll keep you posted if I find it.

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Monday, June 06, 2005

CJA Entry Sent

I sent off my application to the Chess Journalists of America's annual competition for the best print and web-based chess publications, and they already have The Kenilworth Chess Club website listed as an entry:

I had to submit under Category 20, "Best General Chess Website," since it was the only category we could fit. I imagine it will be a competitive category, especially judging by the entries of previous years. I wrote the following e-mail message when sending in our URL to their webmaster:

"If the category were available, I would have submitted my site for 'BestChess Club website.' I hope you don't mind me suggesting that you include that category in the future as a way of encouraging more clubs to start up websites and use them to publish more than the most basic information about their clubs. While it's great that you include 'Best Chess Club Bulletin' as a print category, I think there is more value for the larger chess community in web publications, which not only help document the goings on at the club for attending members but also provide information for members who are unable to attend (or who move) and for the larger community of people interested in local chess."

I received a nice note back from J. Franklin Campbell:

"I agree with your suggestions to include 'Best Chess Club website' in future competitions. That's an excellent idea. Your club web site appears to be excellent and would certainly compete well in such a category. "

So, if we don't win this year, you never know--we might be able to compete again under a different category... Meanwhile, the link from the CJA site can only help our page ranking.

I also think Mike Wojcio should submit his History of the Kenilworth Chess Club next year for best history article. Though I'm sure the competition would be especially fierce there, I also think he'd have a shot. You'll be able to judge for yourself by the end of this week when I finally have that project up. The games are now in PGN, the pictures are all ready to go, now all I need is time to put the whole thing together.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Stoyko Simul File Now Complete

For any who are interested, the PGN file of games from Steve Stoyko's simul at the club on May 19, 2005 is now as complete as it will ever be. Javier also played but failed to take down his moves, so we have 10 out of 11 games. Here is the file to download:

I will soon combine the photos and the games to create a permanent record at our website.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Summer Tournament and Film Festival

The Kenilworth Summer Tournament began last night with three games. Mark Kernighan pulled out one of his typical "Houdini" tricks against Greg Tomkovich, rescuing a potentially lost ending to win in mutual time pressure. I played a terrible opening blunder against Pete Cavaliere, who promptly took advantage but then was kind enough to accept my desperation draw offer. The big surprise of the night, though, was newcomer Javier Moreno defeating our under-1800 champ Joe Demetrick. Javier is new to tournament chess (he even has trouble keeping score), but he has obviously learned quite a lot from his play online. He's one to watch--or watch out for!

Summer Tournament Score
Tomkovich-Kernighan, 0-1
Cavaliere-Goeller, 1/2-1/2
Moreno-Demetrick, 1-0

The summer film festival also started well. We saw "Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine," about the newly retired champ's match against IBM's Deep Blue chess computer. The film contained much interesting archival footage (including scenes from Kasparov's first and second encounters with Karpov) and some interesting inter-splicing of footage from the 1927 silent film "The Chess Player," about Maezel's chess machine "The Turk." Of course, for anyone like myself who has read Bruce Pandolfini's excellent book Kasparov and Deep Blue and Tom Standage's excellent history of The Turk: The Life and Times of the Famous Eighteenth Century Chess-Playing Machine, the film does not offer a lot of new insight or information. But the interviews with Kasparov and many others surrounding the match (including Kasparov's agent, the Deep Blue team, Joel Benjamin, and Yasser Seirawan) give you real insight into the psychological battle that took place off the board. The filmmakers have used that angle to make their "chess film" more interesting for the general viewership, of course. But I, like many other serious players I'm sure, would have appreciated more specific commentary on the games themselves. The DVD contains a bonus computer re-enactment of the game with computerized voice commentary (which sounds a bit like Stephen Hawking), but I would have liked more direct discussion of the games within the film itself (including explanations of key moves). After all, there were only six of them. And if the filmmakers wanted to reach a wider audience with their film, they missed a great opportunity to teach amateurs and beginners a bit more about the game. As Bruce Pandolfini demonstrates so well in his book on the match, those games offer us a lot of insight when well annotated.

I will try to arrange another film showing for next week. Watch this space for more details later. Maybe the 1985 Dangerous Moves?

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Summer "Chess Film Festival" at the KCC

I thought that one way to add a little fun to the club this summer would be to start a summer chess film festival, showing chess-themed videos and DVDs for free on our giant TV. I just picked up a copy of "Kasparov vs. Deep Blue: Game Over," which I have not had a chance to see yet. I thought I'd bring it to the club tonight and get us started (along with my portable DVD player).

I was thinking of narrative chess films (fiction or non-fiction), but I'd invite people to bring in educational or training materials as well so people can get a sense of how valuable those can be. I have seen a number of good chess films over the years and I'm sure members of the club have as well, so I'm hoping we might be able to organize the showings without even having to run to Blockbusters.

You can find a good list of films online at Bill Wall's fun site, under the title "Movies with Chess Scenes." I often find that Wall's site is "unavailable" because his traffic regularly exceeds what Yahoo's GeoCities allows for free sites, so here is the Cached version of his movies list at Google. He has also written a nice piece on "Chess in the Movies" for Chessville's website.

He tends to list films that simply have a scene of people playing chess together (such as the famously sexy chess game between Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway in the Thomas Crown Affair).

Chess Scene in the "Thomas Crown Affair."

But I think we'd all prefer films where chess is more central to the plot. Among those I have in mind are:

Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine (2005)

Chess Kids (1996)

American Gambit (1989)

Dangerous Moves (1986 - Best Foreign Film)

Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993) -- Bill Wall has a good discussion of this one.

The Bishop Murder Case (1930) - may be hard to find. Basil Rathbone plays a Sherlock-type character in pursuit of "the Bishop" who leaves chess pieces as clues.

The Luzhin Defense (2000)

Chess Fever (1925) -- this one might be tough to get ahold of.

King of Chess (1998)

Any help obtaining copies of these or other chess films would be appreciated.

Links Updated

Well, over the past few days I took the Links pages "live" even though a couple of them are still "under construction." I wanted to make sure I had them up by May 31. In sorting through and revising my previous efforts, I find that I'm going to end up with a few additional pages -- including one on Chess Computers and one on Bobby Fischer. I should have them all in order and at least "ready for prime time" by the next couple of days. But they are fully usable and already better than the previous collection, in my view. I will no longer be updating the previous collection, and some time in June will put up the "moving" notices and then start forwarding people to the new address.

Any help that members of our club (or anyone else for that matter) can provide in improving my links would be most appreciated. Just e-mail me at