Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Chess in the Movies

Chess in the Movies
The first and only book on chess cinema.

Readers of this blog know that I have an interest in chess in the movies. I tried to organize a "Summer Chess Film Festival" at the Kenilworth Chess Club with some success, resulting at least in very enjoyable showings of "Chess Fever" and "Game Over - Kasparov and the Machine." So it should come as no surprise to you that I had to have Bob Basalla's Chess in the Movies, despite some mixed reviews I had seen by Edward Winter, Jeremy Silman, and British Chess Magazine. The reviews are right: there are some errors and the author admits he has not seen most of the films he documents. But ultimately this is a very enjoyable read and an excellent book to request (or purchase for yourself!) as a holiday gift.

If you are interested in chess and cinema then you must have it since (as far as I know) it is the only book of its kind. There have been websites and articles and various other references. Until now, though, there have been no books. There are at least two excellent listings of chess in film available online, including one by Bill Wall and another titled Chess in the Cinema / Schach in Kino maintained by the Schachklub Giessen (which features a number of photos). And there was a much cited series by Frank Brady titled "Chess in the Cinema" that appeared in Chess Life & Review from 1978-1979. I have the April 1979 article at hand -- in an issue that featured a number of other excellent pieces (ah the grand old days of Chess Life!), including one by Mike Valvo and Ken Thompson on Belle's success at the 1978 Computer Championship.

Basalla has read the Brady articles and cites them often, along with a number of other references. He offers no bibliography of sources, however, despite the fact that most of his information comes second hand and not from his own viewing experience. Of course, it is typical of chess literature to leave out the bibliography! Here, however, it is a glaring and very disappointing omission.

Despite its flaws, Basalla's book is the most complete reference to date, certainly fulfilling his dream to "be one of the 'leading world authorities' on a topic!" I cannot imagine another book like it coming out soon, though his has certainly laid the groundwork for further studies.

Besides its value as a unique reference, it is also a good read and one I have enjoyed perusing at chance moments. When he has seen a film and gets into the description, Basalla's writing and analysis are both insightful and funny. Of the brief chess references in the film "Faculty" (1998), for example, he writes: "...Casey's dad (Chris MacDonald) informs his son (Elijah Wood) that certain 'extracurriculars' must stop until his grades improve. 'Sorry pal, no more flogging the bishop,' he says. Dad is talking about chess, isn't he?" (128). Or his note on "Eroticon" (1929): "The earliest example I know of that unlikely but popular staged chess ploy, the check to one's king covered by a move that immediately delivers mate" (124). When chess positions can be reconstructed, he gives us a diagram and analysis -- and, where possible, the game or study reference. Where the board is set up wrong (which it seems to be about half the time) he tells us that too. He is the master of the small detail.

The chief pleasure of reading the book for me, though, was learning about movies I had not heard about, including "Fresh" (1994) with Samuel L. Jackson, which I completely missed. Or the 1932 Betty Boop cartoon short "Chess-Nuts" which sounds like a must-have. Or "Brainwashed" (1960), "The Bishop Murder Case" (1930), "The Grass Arena" (1991), and "Black and White Like Day or Night" (1978). I could go on and on. If you wade through his many odd chess references in sometimes garbage films, you'll discover a lot of interesting movies that feature chess.

Of course, it would have been good to learn from the author whether any of these films is worth seeing on its own merits. A star-rating system might have been useful. But I suppose he had not seen enough of them himself to provide a rating. My other main criticisms are a lack of bibliography, no photos (especially with the older films such as "Chess Fever" there are no copyright restrictions after all), the fact that he hasn't tried harder to see the movies that are available, the fact that he offers little or no advice on how to track them down ourselves, and -- finally -- the size of the thing. After all, you can't really read it on the train, since it's a bit too big to cart around at 8.5x11 inches and over 400 pages. You'd think he'd have saved a lot by shrinking it down, and maybe that would be worth considering should he come out with a second (corrected and improved!) edition, perhaps with a major publisher (who might provide him the services of a good editorial staff to help clean things up).

If he gets the encouragement of a publisher, perhaps he'd also get out to see more of these films himself. Winter, for instance, is critical of Basalla for not saying more about the 1987 Cuban / Soviet film "Capablanca," which is available on video (and one I'll have to get). Even a short search on Google turns up more info than Basalla gives, including a cast list at IMDb and photos from a Russian site. This certainly looks like a movie I'd want to have, but I wish he had more information (including a review of its quality) to let me know if it were really worth tracking down.

Well, reading over this review, I'm surprised to find that I'm still recommending this book! Beggars can't be choosers is all I can say! Since none of us have had the time to compile the valuable information that Basalla offers, we should just accept it for what it is: a flawed but wonderful effort by a "dentist, chess guy, and film buff" (as the back cover tells us). Get it and try to look on the bright side: if you encourage him enough, he might come out with a second edition some day!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Grasso-Stoyko, Roselle CC at Kenilworth CC 2005

Black's plan after 14.Bc2.

The game Grasso-Stoyko, Roselle CC at Kenilworth CC 2005, was a great example of how to liberate the "French Bishop" in the Tarrasch Variation. I was so impressed by the plan that I put together an introduction to the system and now think he should give a second series of lectures on the French Defense once he finishes with his first series on the 1.d4 d5 Black Repertoire on Thursday night from 7:00-8:00 p.m. at the Kenilworth Chess Club.

You can find this Anti-Tarrasch repertoire online in java applet or you can download the PGN file to help you analyze on your own.

Two Pieces in the New York Times

There were two pieces in today's New York Times related to chess.

One, from the Styles section, was titled "Sex and Chess: Is She a Queen or a Pawn?" and is really a fluff piece focused on the recent Tkachiev's "Chess Beauty Pageant." It has already generated some discussion at the Daily Dirt Chess Blog. The article should have been about how some female chess players have to use all of their assets to support themselves as professional players.

The second and not unrelated piece was by Jennifer Shahade on the Op-Ed pages and titled "All the Right Moves." There she suggests that chess promoters could learn a lesson or two from the Poker phenomenon. Again, the real issue is that even Nakamura is having trouble supporting himself as a professional player, so how can we get Americans (who are so money- and career- focused) to embrace the game?

The answer, I think, is that you cannot succeed in the same way Poker has. And devoted chess players will always have to support themselves much like starving artists: any way they can. Interestingly, Shahade's argument for Chess is mirrored on the same page by Sharon Osberg regarding Bridge. Osberg, at least, admits the real problem: "Bridge will never have the spectator appeal of games like poker. It's just too cerebral. Moreover, the learning curve is steep." Chess is exactly the same, of course. But at least Bridge has Warren Buffett and Bill Gates on board with some bucks to fund education programs and tournaments. We should have the same.

What chess needs most of all is not media coverage but some passionate philanthropists (like the HB Foundation) to help make big tournaments and education initiatives possible. We can't build a broad base -- the game will never appeal to a broad base of people -- but we can find the select few to support our game that is "symbolic of intelligence and good taste." Philanthropy is the only way to go. That's how Frank James Marshall built the Marshall Chess Club and sustained himself as a professional at the turn of the last century: by cultivating chess players with money to help organize events and sponsor his work. And I think it is still the most viable answer for chess in the near future.

Poker simply is not a good analogy for chess. Two better ones, as J. C. Hallman has suggested in several places, are religion and art -- both of which survive not because they get air time on ESPN2 but because those who can afford freely give their money to bankroll the good works they believe in and to help establish institutions to aid others in learning more about the things they love. I hope some rich chess players (or chess players with rich friends) are listening....

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Two Knights Defense as Black

I occasionally play the Open Game as Black, often transposing from the Nimzovich after 1.e4 Nc6 2.Nf3 e5 when I don't feel like playing the 2...d6 lines. When I play 2...e5 it's usually because I'm expecting a Ruy Lopez, since I have a few specialized lines against the Spanish that I enjoy torturing White with. Almost invariably, though, I find myself instead on the Black side of the Two Knights Defense. Fortunately, I am fairly booked up on this since there is a lot of analysis out there for those who are looking. A few new things for players of the Two Knights as Black have recently appeared and so I thought a bibliography update was in order.

The most recent online contribution to the Two Knights is Pete Tamburro's excellent lecture on the Fritz Variation in the Two Knights at Chess.fm, to which he promises a sequel. He has also posted some notes at his excellent "Openings for Amateurs" message board. It is interesting how much recent attention is being given to the Fritz, and Pete's lecture and his notes make for a wonderful introduction to anyone unfamiliar with these lines -- or, as Pete suggests, for players who think the only fun thing to play against 1.e4 is the Sicilian. These lectures are posted on a rotating schedule and then disappear for a while, so be sure to catch this one soon.

The other recent online piece, to which there is also a promised sequel, is Tim Harding's excellent "Open Games Revisited: The Two Knights" at Chess Cafe. He has written several other useful things on these lines (see list below), but the latest provides a fresh perspective by focusing on the Fritz and lines other than the classical 5....Na5 (which was the focus of his previous series). Be sure to check The Kibitzer column again in early December for the sequel.

If you enjoy these pieces on the Fritz variation, then I suggest you definitely download Having Fun with the Two Knights Defense by Bobby Ang from the web archives. It is definitely a lot of fun and was the first thing I had read to make me seriously consider the Black alternatives to 5...Na5 in the main line. After reading the articles above, I now want to return to it and think about the Fritz some more!

There is also a very recent book by Nigel Davies (Play 1.e4 e5!) which disappoints because most of it is devoted to a specific and boring variation against the Ruy Lopez. Its Two Knights Defense coverage is also not that great and generally repeats the same lines as John Emms offers. Among recent books, in fact, I think that only Jan Pinski offers anything of value on the Fritz. And only Emms's book is a must-have (but it does not do the Fritz). It's too bad that Davies has not offered something more innovative. This is one place where the web sources have actually surpassed those in print!

There are a few available books, which I give in alphabetical order. Other than Emms and Pinski, though, I'd stick to web sources unless you are the type who just has to have everything!

Acers, Jude and George S. Laven. The Italian Gambit System. Trafford Publishing, 2003.
Gives relatively recent coverage of practically every line in the Open Two Knights (with White d4). Does offer some useful insights on the 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.O-O Nxe4 lines. All from White's perspective.

Baker, Chris. A Startling Chess Opening Repertoire. London: Everyman Chess, 1998.
Useful (if overly selective) coverage of the 5.O-O Nxe4 lines in a repertoire book built around the Max Lange Attack and Koltanowski Gambit all from the White perspective.

Beliavsky, Alexander and Adrian Mikhalchishin. The Two Knights Defense. London: Batsford, 1999. Very poorly put together book (seems rushed to the publisher) with occasionally strong moments. Focuses exclusively on the 5...Na5 lines against 4.Ng5. Very lame.

Davies, Nigel. Play 1.e4 e5! Everyman Chess 2005.
Hot off the press but rather a disappointment, frankly. I like Davies's work generally, but over half the book is devoted to the intricate Keres Variation of the Ruy Lopez (with 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 O-O 9.h3 Na5 10.Bc2 c5 11.d4 Nd7) which bores me to tears. And the coverage of the Two Knights follows John Emms a bit too closely to be of great value, including 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.O-O Nxe4 or 5.e5 Ne4!? or 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Na5. The games are recent but this is not exciting. If you are looking for a good anti-Lopez weapon, I recommend Larry Kaufman's The Chess Advantage in Black and White which covers the Berlin Defense beautifully.

Emms, John. Play the Open Games as Black: What to Do When White Avoids the Ruy Lopez. London: Gambit, 2000. Excellent coverage of the Two Knights lines from the Black perspective, but focuses exclusively on 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.O-O Nxe4 and 5.e5 d5 or 5.e5 Ne4!? or 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Na5. This is a classic that should be on the shelf of anyone who plays 1.e4 e5 as Black or White.

Estrin, Yakov. The Two Knights Defense. Trans. K. P. Neat. London: Batsford 1983. There are various versions in multiple languages and editions of Estrin's work. Estrin's analysis became widely circulated in multiple editions and languages through the 70s and 80s. It is still vital and valuable, especially since some lines he discusses receive scant treatment later.

Harding, Tim. The Evans Gambit and a System versus the Two Knights Defense. Second Edition. Chess Digest, 1996. A very useful if selective repertoire coverage of the Modern d4/e5 lines of the Two Knights exclusively from the White perspective.

Nunn, John. Secrets of Grandmaster Chess. 1997. pp.77-87.
Discusses the game Corden-Nunn, Birmingham 1975 in great depth.

Petrosian, Tigran and Yakov Estrin. Zweispringerspiel im Nachzuge. Hamburg 1966.

Pinski, Jan. The Two Knights Defense. London: Everyman Chess, 2003.
Probably the most generally useful current book available. The analysis is generally shallow but the coverage is very wide and generally good.

Soltis, Andrew. Winning with the Giuoco Piano and the Max Lange Attack. 2nd Revised Edition. Chess Digest, 1996 (1st edition 1992). Offers some surprising analysis of the Max Lange lines, though I wonder how well it holds up to close scrutiny since it does seem overly optimistic. Guess whose side he's on....

Van der Tak, A. C. and Jesus Nogueiras. "King's Pawn Opening: Max Lange Attack." New in Chess Yearbook 37 (1995): 94-99. One of a number of articles to appear in New in Chess and NIC Yearbook. See their website for details.

Zagorovsky, Vladimir. Romantic Chess Openings. London: Batsford 1982. A classic, if now generally out of date and shallow.

Web Bibliography
I have posted a previous entry on the Modern Variation which you might also want to see. There are lots of good things online, and if you are mostly interested in the Fritz variation you would probably do best to save your money and just check out some of these links!

E5/E5 Defenders by Pete Tamburro at Chess.fm

Open Games Revisited: The Two Knights by Tim Harding at Chess Cafe

The Main Line of the Two Knights Defense by Mark Morss
Excellent coverage of 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 lines from Black's perspective. Be sure to scroll down and click the links to his two games. One of the best pieces you can read if you are interested in these lines.

Two Knights Defense by Tim Harding
In three parts, covering the classic 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5.
Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.

Two Knights -- Amazing Counter-Attack by Tim Harding
Covers 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 Nxe4!? which is fun for speed chess.

Having Fun with the Two Knights Defense by Bobby Ang
Some really spectacular analysis of the Fritz with ...Nd4 -- the same line discussed by Pete Tamburro at Chess.fm.

Defensa de los Dos Caballos from Hechiceros
Focuses on 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Na5.

Opening Lanes #62 by Gary Lane
Discusses 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Na5. For the line 6.Bb5+ c6 7.dxc6 bxc6 8.Qf3!? see Opening Lanes #02. For 6.Bb5+ Bd7!? see Opening Lanes #03.

Two Knights Defense, Wilkes-Barre Variation
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 Bc5 5.Bxf7+ Ke7 and 6.Bd5 . See also the 6.Bb3 Line.

Site dedie a l'ouverture Traxler
A whole website devoted to the Traxler. In French with lots of Traxler stuff from the Black perspective.

"Opening Preparation" by Sunil Weeramantry at Chess Cafe's Archive. See "The Chess Coach" #13. Download a zip file. Discusses the Two Knights Modern for White with Black's cooperative 5...d5.

There had been a sample article on the Traxler at the New in Chess Yearbook site, but it has since gone missing. NIC Yearbook also has had some articles over the years which I have not represented very well above because they are not handy. I may return here and add them.

1.d4 d5 Repertoire - Lecture 4

I have finally put together a web-viewable version of FM Steve Stoyko's Fourth Lecture on a 1.d4 d5 Repertoire, which focused on the Exchange Variation of the Queen's Gambit Declined from the Black side. You can now find all of the lectures and related links from the Articles page of the Kenilworth Chess Club website.

Barry Attack Bibliography

The "Barry Attack" begins 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.e3 O-O 6.Be2 followed typically by Ne5 and h4-h5 with a kingside attack. First played this way by Bangledeshi GM Niaz Murshed in London during the 1980s, the line soon became popular among several strong English players, including Mark Hebden and Aaron Summerscale. Like the so-called "150 Attack" against the Pirc (where "150" is the British designation for a class B player), the name is intended tongue-in-cheek. Basically, "Barry" means "rubbish" in British slang but, like the 150 Attack, it has a lot more success than might seem justified.

When I first faced this line against FM Steve Stoyko in the Kenilworth Chess Club championship this past year, I didn't even know that the opening had a name. I had never seen any "book" analysis on it and only prepared for our encounter by looking through a few master games with Fritz. All I knew was that I had seen Stoyko "forcing" opponents to play the Pirc (after 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Nc3 d6) when they had been intending to play the King's Indian Defense. Not being a Pirc player myself, I naturally wanted to try 3...d5 instead. After the game, in which I lost to a startling kingside assault, Steve told me it was called the "Barry Attack" and so I was able to do some research on it. Like Hebden, who didn't start playing the Barry until he lost to it in a game, I have since added it to my White repertoire and have collected all the analysis I can find. If you can add anything to the bibliography below it would be most appreciated.

Barry Attack Bibliography

Fogarasi, Tibor. "Hebden's Favorite!" New in Chess Yearbook 67 (2003): 206-210.
Looks exclusively at what has become the main line since Gallagher's Beating the Anti-King's Indians: 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.e3 O-O 6.Be2 c5. Now Fogarasi considers 7.Ne5 better than 7.dxc5.

Gallagher, Joe. Beating the Anti-King's Indians (Batsford 1995).
Recommends 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.e3 O-O 6.Be2 c5

Goeller, Michael. "Steve Stoyko-Michael Goeller, Kenilworth Chess Club Championship 2005."
Annotates my loss to the Barry Attack, which made me interested in it as White.

Lane, Gary. Ideas Behind Modern Chess Openings: Attacking with White (Batsford 2002).
In a book mostly devoted to the London System with d4 and Bf4, Lane devotes a chapter to the Barry Attack (pp. 136-149) and the 150 Attack against the Pirc (150-159). For those seeking a supplement and an alternative to the Colle-Zukertort in Summerscale's repertoire, this book is a good addition. He does a good job of representing the opening through five GM games and also discusses the origins of the name "Barry Attack," which is British slang for "rubbish attack" meaning something that a lower-rated player might throw at you with little consequence.

Martin, Andrew. "Dodgy Games with Dodgy Names." (Internet Chess, from the Archives).
Considers the Barry and 150 Attacks from the Black perspective and recommends 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Nc3 d5! 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.e3 Bg4! 6.Be2 Bxf3! 7.Bxf3 c6 followed by a speedy ...e5 push.

Krzysztof Panczyk and Jacek Ilczuk. Offbeat King's Indian (Everyman 2004).
Has some coverage of the Barry Attack in a chapter on Bf4 Systems against the KID.

Rogers, Ian. "Queen's Pawn Opening, Murshed's Anti-KID System." New in Chess Yearbook 25 (1992): 151-156.
Attributes to Bangledeshi GM Niaz Murshed the important addition of Ne5 and h4-h5 (in place of the London-esque h3 and Bh2) to the Barry Attack to make a potent weapon. Recommends 6...c5 or an early ...Bg4 with the idea of exchanging with ...Bxf3 and an early ...e5.

Summerscale, Aaron. A Killer Chess Opening Repertoire (Everyman Chess 1998).
The opening chapter of this repertoire book covers the Barry Attack (pp. 7-35) and was important in popularizing the line among club and tournament players. The remainder of the repertoire includes the 150 Attack against the Pirc and the Colle-Zukertort System. This is an excellent overall repertoire for anyone below master level, which is its intended audience. See the review by Alex Baburin at Chess Cafe.

__________. The Barry Attack. Foxy Openings Video 1999.

__________. The Barry Attack at Chess Channel

Van de Mortel, Jan. "Annoying the KID" New in Chess Yearbook 57 (2000): 203-207.
Begins with the encounter Hebden-Gormally, London 2000 where White lost and offers a number of improvements. Most games are sparsely annotated or not at all.

Watson, John L. The Unconventional King's Indian (Hypermodern Press 1997 and Hardinge Simpole Publishing 2004).
In the chapter on Bf4 systems for White, there are four pages (pp. 143-147) of coverage with games from before 1995. If any parts of the book were updated for the 2004 reprint edition, this was not among them.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Goeller-Chieu, Roselle CC at Kenilworth CC 2005

White to play and at least draw after 37...Bb7.

My game against expert Ken Chieu from the recent team match between the Roselle and Kenilworth Chess Clubs was important for me to look at closely, since it is a critical line in my opening repertoire. You can download the PGN file of my analysis if these lines interest you also. Basically, Ken's opening play encouraged me to transpose from a Grand Prix Attack to the more traditional Closed Sicilian with g3 and Bg2, with which I'm less familiar. In fact, I have not looked at these lines closely since annotating the game Capablanca-Zhenevsky, Moscow 1925 for these pages. So it was a useful exercise putting this together. I think I managed to get to at least an equal position in the end before losing on time. In the diagram above, your job is to find a forced draw that someone might reasonably be able to play in a few seconds in sudden death time controls!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Roselle CC - Kenilworth CC Team Match

The Roselle Chess Club team visited the Kenilworth Chess Club last night for an informal and unrated team match and won convincingly 8.5-1.5, despite the rather equal match-ups on every board. The Game-60 time limit certainly aided them a bit, but it was clear we were generally outplayed. I will be posting a few games in the coming days. Meanwhile, here are the results:

Roselle 8.5 -Kenilworth 1.5
0 David Grasso - Steve Stoyko 1
1 Maraj Daftani - Scott Massey 0
1/2 Mauricio Camejo - Mark Kernighan 1/2
1 Kenneth Chieu - Michael Goeller 0
1 Cesar Sorto - Ari Minkov 0
1 Ramon Garcia - Ziggy Bliznikas 0
1 Serge Adelson - Greg Tomkovich 0
1 Henry Charry - Joe Demetrick 0
1 Dan Panzono - Tedd Mann 0
1 Edgar Chamorro - Laukik Gadgil 0

Despite the disappointing loss it was an enjoyable night at the club, beginning with a lecture by Scott Massey on Rook and Pawn endings and ending with lots of time for socializing and casual play due to the relatively fast time limit in the team match. We look forward to seeing more of the Roselle players in the future and will have to start planning a "revenge" match.

In the coming week, I will be posting on Massey's lecture, some games from the team match (including Stoyko's very interesting French Defense game and my own loss with the Grand Prix Sicilian), and teaching chess to kids (since I had another chess class yesterday afternoon). The Kenilworth Chess Club is closed next Thursday for Thanksgiving Day. If I find time in the coming two weeks, I may also return to the Lake Hopatcong 1923 and 1926 tournaments (which I would like to finish this year), the Grand Prix Attack, some lines in the Vienna, and the Queen's Gambit as Black. I also hope to put together the second edition of the Kenilworth Chess Club Quarterly, publishing all the games from the blog from the past three months.

Historical Chess Photos

Edward Winter has posted a link to the Chicago Historical Society's photographic archives sent to him by the eminent American chess historian John S. Hilbert. As Hilbert points out, "a simple search for 'chess'" will turn up 38 images, including pictures of Emanuel Lasker (spelled "Lascar"), Sammy Reshevsky (spelled "Rzeszewski"), and Frank Marshall. See their copyright notice before using.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Tal's Janowski-Indian Games

Black to play after 11.Bh3?

I have been playing around with the Janowski-Indian (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 d6 3.Nc3 Bf5!?) of late and have to say it is a lot of fun. Most of all, it tends to get me time on the clock against opponents who have never seen it before. It's not even mentioned in most 1.d4 repertoire books, including Angus Dunnington's "Attacking with 1.d4" and Richard Palliser's otherwise excellent "Play 1.d4!" I had an interesting game with the line against Greg Tomkovich in the KCC Summer Tournament, which I basically repeated against NM Mark Kernighan in the recent five-minute tournament, though in both cases I was really going out of the "book" to make the Janowski fit with my 1...Nc6 Repertoire.

In looking through Eric Schiller's Janowski-Indian e-book (which I recently downloaded), I noticed that there are a lot of games by Mikhail Tal with the line, which he used during the 1960's and 1970's as a way of avoiding the Saemisch and the Four Pawns Attack in the King's Indian. Basically, if White played an early Nf3, Tal would go into the King's Indian (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 d6 3.Nf3 g6) but otherwise he chose the Janowski. I've collected Tal's games with the line, and he played enough of them that they basically represent an excellent introduction to the system.

You can view Tal's Janowski-Indian Games online or download the PGN file.

Janowski-Indian Defense Bibliography

Graham Burgess, 101 Chess Opening Surprises (Gambit 1998)
Recognizing that many players use the Janowski-Indian as a system for transposing to the King's Indian, Burgess recommends 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 d6 3. Nc3 Bf5 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. Ng5!? which will force through an early e4 and present the Knight with other retreat squares than the more typical 5. Nh4 does.

Eric Schiller, The Janowski-Indian Defense (Sid Pickard e-book)
There appear to be several older paper versions of this book on the market, but his e-book is probably most useful since you will want to check his analysis yourself rather carefully. This is the most complete coverage of the opening available in print. The text files that make up the book are practically worthless, but the PGN analysis is very useful and seems generally good.

Jouni Yrjöla and Jussi Tella's, An Explosive Chess Opening Repertoire for Black (Gambit 2001).
In Chapter 31 of this book (pages 240-252) the authors offer a basic repertoire version of the Janowski. They generally make good recommendations but occasionally leave out interesting ideas (such as 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 d6 3.Nc3 Bf5 4.Nf3 h6!? which they do not mention but which Schiller offers as the main line). Overall, though, I think this is an excellent book and they do a great job of representing this system by focusing on Black's most active choices.

Norman-Janowski, Hastings 1925
An early version of Janowski's Old Indian line.

Levitt-Day, London 2005
A recent outing for the defense.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Some Queen's Gambit Declined Links

FM Steve Stoyko's lectures on a 1.d4 d5 Black Repertoire continue in two more weeks (December 1, due to the Thanksgiving holiday that intervenes on November 24), but there are plenty of online sources of inspiration for those who want to learn more about the Queen's Gambit Declined as Black or White. Here are some links that relate to the material that Steve has been covering in his lectures, including lots of games that feature the Exchange Variation:

Creating an Easy Opening Repertoire as Black by Jeremy Silman
A good article for beginners, introducing the ideas of the Black side of the Tartakower system and the Exchange Variation in the Queen's Gambit Declined.

The Odd Push of the C-Pawn by Jeremy Silman
Gives a refutation of 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.c5? which club players will see from time to time.

Exploiting Open and Half-Open Files from Chessville
A great introduction to the power of the minority attack in the Exchange Variation through a close consideration of Kotov-Pachman, Venice 1950.

Queen's Gambit Declined
Part of the Chess Corner Opening Survey. Includes good general coverage and games for each major line (you need to navigate to the end of each section to find the games).

Queen's Gambit by Kenneth Curmi at GMSquare
Good introduction to White's ideas in the QGD.

Lessons Learned: A Rude Awakening by GM Alexander Baburin
A wonderfully annotated game at the Chessville site featuring the game Baburin-King, League Match 2004 which began 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Be7!? 4.cxd4 exd4 5.Bf4 and was won by Black. The game is also available in java applet format.

Queen's Gambit Declined by IM Zoran Ilic
From the Archives. White plays Bf4 with either positional or tactical intentions.

Queen's Gambit Point Machine by Mark Morss
A good general introduction to the Queen's Gambit for White. Be sure to see the links to games at the bottom, including Morss-Raines and Morss-Marples which feature Bf4 in the Exchange QGD.

An Aggressive System Against the Queen's Gambit Declined from the Barnet Chess Club
Recommends the Exchange Variation with Q-side castling for White.

An Aggressive System against the Queen's Gambit Declined from Chess Corner
An interesting introduction to the Queen's Gambit Declined Exchange Variation with Queenside castling for White.

Paehtz-Schipkov, 1989 by GM Boris Schipkov
Annotates an interesting game where Black tried the 8...Nh5 line against the QGD Exchange Variation.

Schipkov-Siturikin, 1991 by GM Boris Schipkov
Annotates a nice win for White in the Exchange Variation with Queenside castling.

Gretarsson-Ehlvest, Reykjavik 2002 by GM Boris Schipkov
Well-annotated game featuring great aggressive play by Black against a premature Pb4 in the Bf4 QGD. There is a similar game also annotated.

Karpov-Ricardi, 2001 by GM Boris Schipkov
Annotates a nice Karpov win in the Exchange Variation against an odd Black plan that postpones castling.

Schipkov-Ruban, 1986 by GM Boris Schipkov
Considers a game that could have arisen from the Exchange Variation.

My Favorite Games by NM Brian McCarthy
Well-annotated games, mostly at fast time limits against very strong players, by the New Jersey master, including one (the last) that involves the Queen's Gambit Exchange Variation with ...Nh5.

Gambito de Dama by Erich Gonzalez
Analyzes a nice game of Capablanca's.

Capablanca-Janowski, New York 1918 annotated by Capablanca
An interesting game featuring Capa's 6.Nbd2 novelty with the idea of recapturing the pawn at c4 with the Knight to better control e5.

Chess Links for Kids and Beginners

I have been thinking about my next lesson for the kids I teach, surfing around the web to see if there is anything interesting out there to share with them. Among the sites I like to look through are the following, which I'd recommend to kids and beginners:

Chess Kids Academy
There is some really great content here for kids--probably the best on the web. There are just two small issues with the site: (1) it is from England, so some things are more British-focused and (2) it is not very user-friendly to navigate and you do have to poke around to find the best stuff. The site navigation at the top takes a minute to load, so be patient. You can also use the "site map." But once you get the hang of this site it has a lot to offer for kids and beginners.

Chess is Fun by Jon Edwards
An American correspondence chess champion and New Jersey native covers the basics and beyond.

Chess Lessons from Beginner to Master from Logical Chess
A great set of tutorials for kids and their parents from the Huntsville Chess Club's "Logical Chess" website. Be sure to try all of the links.

Chess Corner
A fun site that covers a lot of basics.

U.S. Chess – Beginners
The United States Chess Federation (USCF) website has a good section for beginners and scholastic players. It’s a good idea to become a member of the USCF at some point in order to participate in tournaments.

Novice Nook by Dan Heisman
A very popular monthly column by a Philly-area chess teacher. Some of the material may be too advanced for a true beginner, but it is all very worthwhile to study as you make progress.

Scholastic Chess by Steve Goldberg
A good monthly column devoted to teaching kids chess. It often links to interesting sites on the net.

Susan Polgar on Chess by GM Susan Polgar
A monthly column by America’s greatest chess promoter.

Susan Polgar Chess Blog by GM Susan Polgar
A web log or journal by the grandmaster, which often features fun chess art.

A fun place to play over famous and recent chess games, with user comments. You can never go wrong as a beginner by simply playing over lots of master games, simply to get a sense of how the pieces typically develop and what sort of patterns emerge.

The Kenilworth Chess Club by Michael Goeller
A website for our club, featuring an extensive set of links to other sites and a frequently updated web log called “The Kenilworthian.”

Friday, November 11, 2005

KCC Five Minute Tournament

Five Minute Tourney at KCC.

Last night the Kenilworth Chess Club hosted a very strong round robin Five Minute Tournament with 12 players (average rating 2030). The top finishers were:

"Mirage" Daftani 9.5/11
Scott Massey 9/11
Mauricio Camejo 8.5/11
Steve Stoyko 8/11
Mark Kernighan 7.5/11

Other participants included myself, Ken Chieu, Cesar Sorto, Brian Meinders, Ed Selling, Mike Wojcio, and Pete Cavaliere. It was such a strong event that Mike Wojcio won best under-1800 honors with a mere 2.5 points! I scored a dismal 4/11 though I had the satisfaction of beating NM Mark Kernighan and giving almost everyone (except the eventual winner) lots of trouble.

On the schedule for next week is a lecture by NM Scott Massey from 7:00-8:00 p.m. on endgame themes and a match with the Roselle Chess Club that should take the remainder of the evening. It has been wonderful having several of the stronger Roselle players attending our club lately and I hope the match next week helps to continue the trend.

Steve Stoyko Lecture #4 PGN

diagram FM Steve Stoyko lectures
the QGD Exchange Variation.

FM Steve Stoyko delivered his fourth lecture as part of the 1.d4 d5 Black Repertoire series, focused on the Exchange Variation of the Queen's Gambit Declined. The lecture was kept to just over an hour due to the beginning of the five-minute tournament at 8:30 sharp, so he really only gave an overview with the promise of actual games next time (in two weeks) when he will return to the Exchange Variation and cover the Catalan as well. You can download a PGN file of my notes, which includes several supplemental games. I will post this as a java applet in the coming week.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Google Earth

The Kenilworth Recreation Center
--home to the Kenilworth Chess Club.

I have been having fun lately with Google Earth, which allows you to view anywhere in the world from old satellite imagery. The images appear to be about 2-years-old or more on average (to judge from various missing additions to houses I know), probably because the CIA would not allow potential enemies access to current imagery. But it is a fantastic service and another coup from Google.

The image above shows the Kenilworth Chess Club from outer space. DG at the Boylestown Chess Club's Weblog links to "the world's largest chessboard" in Idaho. Below is the KCC in relation to Garden State Parkway exit 138. Pretty cool.

The Kenilworth CC in relation to
Garden State Parkway Exit 138.

Hat tip to The Chess Mind for mentioning it on his blog a while back.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Ivanchuk-Onischuk, World Team Championships 2005

White to play after 51...Kc2?

FM Steve Stoyko gives his next lecture on a Black 1.d4 d5 Repertoire focused around the Lasker Variation of the Queen's Gambit Declined (and related lines) at the Kenilworth Chess Club this Thursday from 7:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. I will have at least one question for Steve: where did Black go wrong in the recent high-level Lasker Defense game Ivanchuk-Onischuk, World Team Championships 2005?

Of course, maybe the answer is that he did not follow Steve's recommendation (from Lecture Two and mentioned again in Lecture Three) to break with ...c5 rather than ...e5 (as Onischuk chose). A second answer may be that White was Super-GM and world #4 Ivanchuk who simply played a marvelous game from beginning to end...

Ivanchuk has been on a roll this year, including a win at the Casino de Barcelona Masters in Spain. Lubomir Kavalek annotates a fascinating Dragon that he won against Felgaer at that tournament, and the game shows that Ivanchuk is in excellent form. As Kavalek and many other have said, he really should have been invited to the recent World Championship tournament in Argentina.

We'll see what Steve says Thursday.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Scott Massey K+P Endings Lecture

White to Play and Win (Botvinnik)

NM Scott Massey gave a wonderful lecture on King and Pawn endings on Thursday, November 3, 2005 at the Kenilworth Chess Club. He used a number of fascinating puzzles to illustrate basic themes and challenged audience members to solve them--playing through and usually refuting their winning tries before revealing or receiving the correct solution. The most difficult problem of the evening was a composition of Botvinnik's given above. What is so amazing is that White can actually win from this position! I have played through the problem with Fritz, however, and the silicon beast may have come up with a "cook." So if you want a truly impossible challenge: find the solution and the possible cook. An even bigger challenge may be to refute the cook, and I will have to pose that to Scott when we next meet.

Scott challenges us with puzzles.

I hope to post a file of all the problems he covered with solutions, but it will take quite a bit of work to put it together. I also have to figure out how to fix some of the issues you will observe in the "Problem" display in Java Applet form. If I find the time.... It's a busy semester and I may not get to it for a while.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Albin Counter Gambit with 5...Nge7!

I have put together a complete article of analysis devoted to the "Morozevich-Mengarini Variation" of the Albin Counter Gambit, which is basically 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 d4 4.Nf3 Nc6 and now 5...Nge7! against most White moves, including 5.Nbd2, 5.g3, and 5.a3 (all analyzed). I have appended the bibliography of sources that has appeared elsewhere on these pages. I think anyone interested in recent developments in the Albin will enjoy it and I welcome feedback and additional analysis here.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

List of Articles Posted

I finally got around to updating the links to articles at the main Kenilworth Chess Club website. There you will find currently over 20 articles on opening themes, along with links to lectures, club tournaments, favorite chess books of our members, and the Kenilworth Chess Club Quarterly (which collects all annotated games from The Kenilworthian every three months--next issue due out around Thanksgiving). It's actually getting a bit crowded and I will have to think of a way to make it a little more user-friendly now. But if you want to see at a glance all the most useful articles published at our site or at our blog, this is the place to do it. Check it out.