Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Blue or Red Pill? XXXI

Black to play
Briggs v JMGB, London League 15.12.2014

You don’t normally think on the first move. I don’t, at least.

Most of us who spend our time playing League or Tournament chess have been playing quite a while. and we know the openings that we like to play. What we do as White; how we respond to 1 e4, 1 d4 or any other of White’s 20 legal first moves that aren’t simply junk. Our choices - for the most part determined by taste more than any objective assessment - are usually settled long before we sit down at the board.

So why did I think for three minutes when I’ve been playing 1 ... f5 in answer to 1 Nf3 for a few months shy of seven years now? I suspect the fact that this was my last London League game of 2014 had something to do with it.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Endgame ISEs

35 ... Reg3
Kasimdzhanov - Topalov, San Luis (13) 2005

Since we have reached the 15th of December with my ISE post count for 2014 standing at just 46 (including today’s) I’m pretty sure that I’m not going to hit my target of 52 exchange sac posts in one calendar year. Such is life, but while this series limps to a finish I can at least add one more exchange sacrifice type to my collection: the Endgame ISE.

It’s San Luis 2005 and just like Anand with his ... Rb4 against Carlsen (Stamp Collecting; SMA#28), Veselin Topalov is about to decide the destination of a World Champion title by giving up a rook for a minor piece. This time, though, fortune will favour the brave.

Just saying

Joining FIDE’s World Championship tournament at round 13 we find Toppy needing just half a point to secure the championship with a game to spare. The only problem is he's a pawn down and under pressure against Kasimdzhanov. The Bulgarian has an ISE up his sleeve, though, and perhaps that’s just as well. Without it he might never have won the big prize.

Questions to answer on this one:
  • Did Kasim really completely miss the idea as Gershon and Nor suggest?
  • Why does Black nudge White's rook to the d-file on move 34 rather than just sacrifice straight away?
  • What happens if White defends with 39 Rg1, the move most club chessers would probably play?

I don’t have much for you in terms of answers, I’m afraid. If you want anything better than 'perhaps Black makes the rook go to d2 so he can answer Kg1 with Re5' you’re going to have to consult the book of the tournament or work it out for yourselves.

Anyhoo, the game continued on and only a few moves later Black was better. "White’s position is suddenly critical", G&N say. "His only chance is to return the exchange ...." In the final position Topalov could easily have played on, but he doesn’t need to.

That’s ISEs for you. They give World Championships. They take them away.

2014 ISE Count: 75
TISE Index

Topalov via

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Worst Move On The Board XIX

Nettleton-Orgler, London Chess Classic FIDE Open, round four, 11 December 2014.
Position after 28. Rf1-c1.

Easy one to find, this one. Mind you, easy one to miss as well.

[Thanks to Tim Dickinson and Jack Rudd]
[Worst move index]

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Apparently Got Something To Do With Chess But Possibly Not All That Much

I'm living a life I couldn't even have dreamed of a few years ago. I'm married to Bobby Polgar now (you know, the famous chess champion who just happens to be the man I love!). And we've got this beautiful house with a view of Puget Sound.

But lately something's been worrying Bobby. When I asked, he said he was "protecting his queen" - and I got the oddest feeling he wasn't talking about chess but about me. He wouldn't say anything else.


[thanks to Angus]
[ do with chess index]

Friday, December 12, 2014

In energetic fashion

Here's a chunk of Ray's Times column for today. If it doesn't already look familiar to you, it will very shortly.

It is not entirely unlike the column he wrote for the same newspaper for 15 December 2010*

which itself bears certain similarities to the column for 29 November 2011

and contributed a little bit to the column for March 16 2013.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The square and the tortoise

Chess24 on the Super Rapidplay:

It's the testudo!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Clock watching

Of course it's a sport - Short, N (attr.)
Reading what Jonathan wrote on Monday about the drama in chess, and the ways in which it can be communicated to a wider, non-chess audience, I remembered a conversation I had right back in 1993, after the first game in the 1993 Kasparov-Short match. The question is on my mind every time there's a tournament on the internet: I find it so exciting to watch, especially so when there are multiple games to follow and multiple reversals of fortune to go with them.

Anyway, game one. As everybody who was watching will remember, this game ended in dramatic circumstances when, having withstood an awful lot of Kasparov pressure, Nigel appeared to have gained the upper hand...only to lose on time when making his thirty-ninth move.

It's not, as far as I can see, on YouTube. But I remember the excitement and confusion nonetheless.