Sunday, December 31, 2006

Want To Live Long? Then Don't Prosper . . .

Or at least, don't prosper at the chess board if you want to live long. That's the message from Sciurus of Squirrel Chess, who blogged here how
chess grandmasters have to pay a price for their extraordinary ability. I browsed through a copy of "The psychology of chess skill" by Dennis H. Holding and found that the average life expectancy of outstanding chess players is almost one decade shorter than the life expectancy of minor masters (60.1 vs. 68.1 years, respectively.)

Well, I guess a minor master is an IM; a few hundred Elo points below them are FMs, and then a few hundred Elo points below FMs are me. So by that reckoning, I ought reach the age of 84.1 years! I can live with that.

My friend Michelle, meanwhile, revealed in the comments here that she can't quite remember the rules of our deadly game. Now I'm no scientist, but I am pretty sure that makes her immortal. Good news indeed.

Happy New Year, Streatham & Brixton Chess Club and everyone else. May it be a healthy one, whatever happens to your rating.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Happy Holidays!

Christmas is coming - and that means, no internet connection for me down at my mum's.

So, Streatham & Brixton Chess Club's blog is now officially on holiday until the New Year.

In the mean time, don't forget the Richmond Rapidplay coming up early January - nor the Chessabit Tournament later in the month.

And if Santa brings you nothing interesting to read, why not download a free book on Botvinnik's secret games? Or if there's nothing on TV - Chess Fever (featuring a cameo from Capablanca) is well worth a watch.

Or if you fancy stretching your brain power, you can try a nearly impossible quiz - or more realistically, some fun chess puzzles. Also on the fun front, find out your Kasparov Number, and check out the Blunders of His Great Predecessors.

So, happy holidays; have a great Christmas and new year. Barring surprises, our blog will be back in 2007 with more chess news, puzzles, links, fun, games, and anything else anyone can think of.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Chessabit: One, Two, and (Soon) Three

Chessabit held their second one day rapid event at the beginning of this month. Jerry Bloom from Hackney Chess Club was the outright winner, with 7½/9. I finished in the chasing pack on 7/9: Second place, you might think. But alas a statistical tie-break put me out of the money prizes, that went instead to Peter Ackley (second) and David Haydon (third.) The fact I beat Haydon in the final round didn't count for much either, since the tie-break used was apparently the 'Median Buchholz' - which ignores the result of one's highest placed opponent. Ho hum.

Still - it was a fun and interesting day in a pleasant venue (pictured.) Two other Streatham & Brixton Chess Club players took part - Adam W, and James who emailed me for this report to say: "I will definitely play again. It's a great addition to the London chess scene, the organisers are great." Well, the good news for James and others interested is the wait won't be too long. The Third Chessabit Rapid Tournament is coming up on January 20th, at The Crosse Keys pub again in central London. First Prize once again is £500, whilst the number of rounds seems to have been reduced from 9 to 8. Entry stuff here.

Anything else? Well, you'll find my first report on Chessabit here, and this is my second. And don't forget The Richmond Rapid on the 7th too (preview here.) Finally, below you should find two of my games from the event - playing through them ought give you an idea of the standard. The David Haydon game took quite a few more moves to finish - but the result is already clear where the fragment ends.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Chess Fever

I saw this movie at an exhibition in London a few years ago, The Art of Chess: now, as Chessbase report, you can watch it yourself on Google. It's known among chessplayers for its chess content, notably Capablanca's appearance in which (not out of character) he's depicted picking up the hero's girlfriend.

It's not just a curiosity though: it's actually a good, funny movie. You can watch it here.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Tenth Annual ChessCafe Holiday Quiz

The hardest quiz in the world of chess made its annual appearance today*: scroll down for the questions. You'll have to scroll quite a way - the section describing the prizes is even longer than the quiz itself. Come to that, in this particular quiz the list of prizes is usually longer than the list of completely correct entries. Substantially longer.

So, while we could all pretend to have a go at it ourselves, and be lucky to get one or two correct, I would propose, in the spirit of the Kasparov v The World chess game, that we pool our resources and try and get as many answers as we can between us, much as people do with the King William's General Knowledge Paper. After which the only question will surely be - what to do with the prizes?

I would start off, but at first glance I don't think I know any of the answers at all.

So...who does?

[* = this link may become defunct in which case I'll try and update it]

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

You can't fail . . .

The open goal you can't miss - and bang, the ball is fifty foot up in the crowd. Six wickets in hand, three runs to win - and then, ouch: it's Shane Warne bowling, and the Ashes crumble in your fingers that very over. Or in chess terms, you're three rooks, five queens, twelve knights, and three hundred bishops ahead - and drat, his king's stalemated. You never even saw it coming.

Yep - we've all been there, ruining those certain wins. However, I promise you that you'll solve this puzzle by V. Röpke (Skakbladet, 1942) correctly. In fact, try not to.

(Of course - were it a game, you'd have lost on time.)


Oh - just one little thing extra. If you don't yet know your Kasparov Number, go work it out, and let us know in the comments. I've just remembered I beat Adam FF in the Portsmouth Major eleven years ago when we were both Juniors - so that increases mine to 5.

Monday, December 18, 2006

What's Your Kasparov Number?

Bit of fun this.

So, one time you beat player A. Another time, A beat B - who also has beaten C. C beat D, D . . . How long is that chain until you reach Player Z who beat Kasparov? Well, how long is, in fact, your Kasparov Number. And this is the website that will work it out for you.

For instance, Adam FF beat David Howell in 2001. Two years later, Howell beat Speelman - who had in 1996 beat Yermolinksy. And way back in 1975, Yermolinsky beat Kasparov. So Adam has a Kasparov Number of 4. Impressive!

Of course, not every Streatham & Brixton Chess Club player will be on Chessbase Megabase 2005, which use to work out these degrees of separation. I'm not, for instance. But then I beat Antony Cullen earlier this year - and he's there, with a Kasparov Number of 6. So, my Kasparov Number is 7. Dang, I need to work on that!

What's your Kasparov Number?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Team Updates: London League 1, Croydon League 2

"Was it Wimbledon v Streatham, Wimbledon v Watford, Watford v Streatham, or Watford v Watford?" writes Martin about our London League Division 1 match on 30th November. "It was impossible to tell. Everyone seemed to know everyone else and had played each other a hundred times before - all very convivial, but it didn't stop the slugfest."

Well, I'll solve the mystery. It was Streatham 1 versus Wimbledon 1. And, indeed a slugfest it was. The score of that match currently stands at 5½-5½ - with only three draws amongst all that. I blogged the finish of my game from the evening here - while the match will be decided by Adam W's adjourned game.

The above position is taken from Adam F-F's game on the evening. He had black against Mark J Dubey on board 5, and describes the action as follows:

After a dull ‘strategic’ game we were both down to around 15 minutes left to complete the game. I made an error on my previous move, leaving us in the above position. Can you spot White’s move?

36. Nxd6! Losing concentration can be costly! I decided I didn’t fancy being a routine pawn down, so tried to mix it up by taking the knight (36. … Bxb3 37. Ncxb5! achieves little). 36. … Rxd6?! 37. Rxd6 Now 37. … Rxd6 38 Nxb5 is horrible, so sadly the queen has to go. 37. … Qxd6 38. Rxd6 Rxd6. Despite the material deficit Black has some open lines and threats. Unfortunately, White has another trick up his sleeve that I had missed 39. Nxb5 cxb5 40. Qc8+ Bb8 41. Qxg8 Rd2+ 42. Kc3 Rxg2

Now the smoke has cleared and White has a winning endgame, but with little time and an annoying passed h-pawn to deal with, can he convert it? If there were one more pair of pieces on the board he could ‘play for mate’, but the queen can’t do it alone. At least he has a draw ‘in hand’…

43. Qd5+ Ka7 44. Qf7+ Ka8 45. Qxf6 h3 White needs to somehow combine pushing his e-pawn, disrupting Black’s h-pawn’s progress and even bringing up his king to help in the mating attack. 46. Qa6+, 46. e5 or 46. Kb4 looked good to me, but instead he chose 46. Qh8? (this wasted move probably throws away the win) 46. … h2 47. Qh7? losing to the simple 47. … Rg1. It transpires that White had missed the fact that the bishop on b8 covers the pawn on h2, and thought Black was just tied down!! Unfortunately, White cannot give any checks and his unfortunate king position means there is no perpetual as Black can bring his rook back.48. Qd7 Rc1+ 49. Kb4 h1=Q 50. Qd5+ Ka7 51. Qd4+ Ka6 52. Qf6+ Kb7 53. Qf7+ Rc7 54. Qd5+ Ka7 55. Qd4+ Ka8 56. Qd5+ Rb7 Despite having no more checks, White plays on in the time scramble. 57. Ka5 Qa1 58. a4 bxa4 59. bxa4 Qf1 60. e5 Bc7 mate. I expect White had nightmares about that one!
And that's what we mean by slugfest . . .

Meanwhile, Richard sent me a brief note about our Croydon League Second Team: "We lost night’s match at Dulwich. It stands 3-0 to them, but hopefully we will avoid the whitewash as Jonathan has much the better of things in his adjourned position."

So, that's two adjournments to wish Streatham & Brixton Chess Club players good luck in. Good luck!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Clockwork Ending

Click here: piece originally posted on A Few Words Before We Go.

(Diagram shows position after Black's move 43.)

(Some Streatham and Brixton members may remember this ending being demonstrated at the club one evening a couple of years ago!)

Friday, December 15, 2006

White's Move

"Perhaps I should just give up with puzzles altogether?" commented an exasperated Jonathan, after being stumped by Justin's very tricky post. Well, we wouldn't want that.

So - here's a brief, witty little number, that hopefully won't hurt the brain cells too much, and will entertain to boot. It was composed by puzzle-legend Sam Loyd in 1858 - although I encountered it just the other day in the ChessWorld Chess Forum.

Previous puzzles are indexed here btw. And if you fancy something different, don't forget our growing collection of Ultimate Blunders.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

January Rapid Play

What does January mean to you?

As a child, I would have said snowball fights in the back garden, a new BMX to race across the fields, to the mirror magic of an ice pond; or spotting a bird's nest amongst white branches, the glimpse of a wing lifting through frozen morning. Now it's more likely to mean a new pile of books I don't want to read, an emptied overdraft, and a barely-functioning liver.

Still, this January offers something different from either of those. Yes, that's right. The 69th Richmond Rapidplay has just been announced, and it will take place on Sunday 7th January. There are four sections - an Open, an under 160 Major, under 120 Intermediate, and an under 80 Minor. Rather nicely, this tournament has an excellent 4½ point rule: "if you score 4½ or more out of 6 you are GUARANTEED A PRIZE."

Oh - and it's organised by Streatham & Brixton Chess Club members Angus & Sue, amongst others, to boot. Personally, I can't think of a reason not to go. So click the above link to find out more - or go straight to the entry form here (PDF file), and I hope to see you there.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

World Championship Quality Blunders II

Do you recognise this position?

I’m betting that a fair few people will know it’s taken from the first game of the Fischer – Spassky match in 1972.

Spassky, playing White, had just exchanged a pair of knights on d6 and after Fischer recaptured with the bishop, pushed his pawn to b5. What happened next was so shocking that journalists still wanted to ask Fischer about it 20 years later.

The genius that is Bobby came up with …

29 … Bxh2 ??

and after Spassky replied with the far from difficult to spot

30. g3

the bishop was trapped.

What’s so incredible about this blunder is that it’s exactly the sort of move an early chess computer would play. It sees the bishop will be trapped but the number of moves it takes to actually capture it is beyond the machine’s ability to calculate (the ‘horizon effect’) and as a result evaluates the position as better for Black because he will be material up as far as the computer can reach in its analysis.

But Fischer was no silicon muppet so what happened?

It seems he’d expected

30. … h5
31. Ke2 h4
32. gxh4

(leaving the pawn isolated and weak)

on the grounds that

32. Kf3 h3
33. Kg4 Bg1
34. Kxh3 Bxf2

leaves Black a pawn up. Unfortunately for Fischer, 35. Bd2 traps the bishop for real.

In the game after 32. Kf3 Bobby tried …Ke7 and apparently this position is still just about drawn but he blundered again the move before the time control and eventually resigned on move 56.

So … Bxh2 turned a certain draw into a very difficult one. Although it had a significant effect on the game the same can’t really be said about the match. Fischer famously failed to turn up for the next game so he effectively gave Spassky a two point head start. Nevertheless by game 6 Fischer was already in front and by game 13 he had stretched his advantage to 6-3. Several draws followed before Fischer wrapped the match up with victory in game 21. There was no way Fischer was ever going to lose to Spassky regardless of how many points he blundered away.

Not much value there then but the real genius behind the blunder is finding it in the first place. It’s just so completely unnecessary it’s beautiful. I’d love to know how long Fischer thought before moving. You might have thought that, playing in his first title match, Fischer would have paused to check whether the World Champion really had just left a pawn en prise – but we can all be grateful that he didn’t.

Effect on the Game: 3.5/5
Effect on the Match: 0/5
Degree of Difficulty: 4/5
Artistic Merit: 4/5

That gives Fischer an Ultimate Blunder Rating of 11.5 and leaves him comfortably ahead of Topalov, which is probably as it should be. There are still plenty more blunders to work through though.

Next time … double trouble.

Name that Position

I came across this somewhat random position earlier today (Black to play).

Who's playing?
What's the objective assessment of this position?
How did the game actually end?


it's from a World Championship match.

Streatham 2 versus Wimbledon 2

On Thursday last week Streatham 2 faced what looked like a tough fixture in Division 3 of the London League against fellow promotees Wimbledon 2. Yet, we romped home to an astounding 8-2 victory. The team now has 3 wins out of 5 this season - currently a mid-table performance. But with much canibalisation going on - and Albany currently the only undefeated team - it's too soon to say that another promotion is out of the question.

Unfortunately, I recently played my fifth game this season for Streatham & Brixton Chess Club's First Team. This means, I won't be able to play for the second team again this season. But at least I went out with a good result against Wimbledon 2 - winning this game against Chris RA Clegg as black on board 1.

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. g3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. d3 e6 6. Be3 d6 7. Nge2 Nge7 8. Qd2 h5 9. O-O O-O 10. Bh6 Nd4 11. Bxg7 Kxg7 12. Nd1 f5 13. f4 fxe4 14. dxe4 Nec6 15. c3 Nxe2+ 16. Qxe2 d5 17. f5 (Total confusion now!)

17. ... d4 18. fxg6 Rxf1+ 19. Bxf1 Qg5 20. Nf2 h4 21. Qg4 Qxg4 22. Nxg4 e5 23. Nf2 hxg3 24. hxg3 Be6 25. c4
(25. Bb5 - threatening Nd3 - is met by 25. ... c4, so it's now obvious white was not correct to head to this endgame.) 25. ... Kxg6 26. Rc1 b6 27. Kg2 a5 28. Be2 (28. a4 white still might draw.) 28. ... a4 29. Kg1 (29. a3 was absolutely essential.) 29. ... a3 30. b3 Nb4 31. Ra1 Rf8 32. Ng4 Bxg4 33. Bxg4 Kg5 34. Be2 d3 35. Bd1 Rf7 36. Kg2 Rf6 37. Kg1 Rf8 (The rook moves were just to reach the time control.) 38. Kg2 d2 39. Be2 Nc2 40. Rh1 Ne3+, and white resigned.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Four thought

Here's a puzzle I saw in a chess encylopaedia the other day.

Give the line of play, from the normal starting position, which leads to this position after exactly four moves by both sides.

London League One: versus Hackney

As Martin put it, Streatham & Brixton Chess Club's First Team got hacked up by Hackney last night in the London League Division One. Whilst Andrew won a messy game, and Adam W neatly took apart his opponent's defences, and Robin sacrificed pawns for open lines which he made decisive use of, and Angus & I drew - the tide of the evening turned in their favour on the other boards. 8-4 to them over all.

To add to the misery, I had a winning position in my game on move 14, but didn't find either of the two sequences which would have won. Here's the position.

I played 14. ... dxe4 after a long think, having rejected 14. ... Nxe4 on account of 15. Qxd5, eg 15. ... Nxc3 16. Qxf5 Nxb1 17. Qxc2 Bb4 18. Be3, when the b1 knight is doomed and white wins. Instead, after the mass-liquidation with 15. Qxc2 exf3 16. Qxf5 fxg2+, we agreed a draw. See if you can spot the winning sequences I should have played, without a computer or moving the pieces around.

Monday, December 11, 2006

First Team - Update!

Well, I wasn't looking forward to searching through my 125 unread emails to update you on how Streatham & Brixton Chess Club's First Team has been getting on. And fortunately, now I don't have to! Martin just emailed this summary around: "Thanks to a win in extra time by Alan we have stolen the match against Ilford 6.5/5.5, in spite of playing with 11 men. Well done all. So we have 2 match points from 3 finished matches. The match v Wimbledon is still in the balance 5.5/5.5 with Adam W’s game outstanding."

Here is the position Alan won his adjourned position from:

I know what you're thinking - that Alan was white and a win looks fairly likely. But, no. Alan was black. Rook endgames are a bit of a mystery to me, this one more than most. So here are the moves that completed the game, with the final position below: 1. g3 Rf5 2. Rxf5 gxf5 3. Rxb5 Rxd7 4. b4 Rc7 5. Rxa5 Rxc3 6. a4 Kg7 7. Rb5 Kf6 8. a5 Ra3 9. Rb6 Kg5 10. a6 Kg4 11. Kf2 e5 12. b5 Ra2+ 13. Ke3 f4+ 14. gxf4 exf4+ 15. Ke4 f5+ 16. Ke5 f3 17. Rc6 f2 18. Rc1 Re2+ 19. Kd6 Re1 20. Rc4+ f4 21. h3+ Kg3 22. Rc3+ f3, and white resigned.

Amazing stuff! A big Congratulations to Alan. And also a big Thank You to Bob, who apparently provided three pages of analysis of the adjourned position - which at the very least changed Alan's mind in favour of 1. ... Rf5.

Tonight we face Hackney, who were a considerable force last year in Division 1 of the London League. Good luck everyone.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Missed Move

So (since moving house last Monday) this weekend I finally drilled back together my bed, solved a jigsaw puzzle of wood to make three book-cases, and reclaimed the floor from an expanse of my stuff. Amidst which, I rediscovered an old charity-shop-find I'd almost forgotten about: the book World Cup Chess by Lubomir Kavalek.

The what by who? Well: The Chess World Cup was a series of tournaments in the late 80s, which no longer exist anymore. They were organised by the Grandmasters Association, which also doesn't seem to exist anymore. As for Lubomir Kavalek, you can read about him here; he is retired now.

Not everything in life and chess is temporary and full of change of course. In chess, tournaments and organisations come and go, but we remember the brilliancies like immortal works of art - and humans will do so in awe and admiration until the game is no longer played. And the big big blunders live on indefinitely as well - albeit recalled in a somewhat different mood.

But here, there is an intermediary category too: the overlooked instant wins, but the player won later on anyhow. These slip out of memory. Do not find a place in the anthology, or biography. I found the diagram position on page 168 of the book I mentioned, and it's an example of this. It's from a game between Belyavsky and Ljubojevic. The latter played black, and chose 32. ... Bd4 here, and went on to win on move 61. But he overlooked a sequence that would have made the game unforgettable.

Have fun spotting it - and better luck with your own moves!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The J'adoubies

Long-time chess blogger Megaskins has created his own awards for the chess world. Presenting, The J'adoubies. For a while, I was sadly quite stuck for a nomination for the "J'adore" category:
This is the Romance category. Since chess geeks are notoriously untalented, unattractive and unskilled in the ways of love, it's hard to find someone to award this to. Generally it goes to the chess geek most in love with himself,

But that changed when I found out I could nominate Kramnik.

Alright, alright. "Kramnik?" I hear you say. "Dry, technical, boring - that's how most describe Kramnik. Romantic? Hardly!" But, according to Goran Urosevic, this translates as: "Vladimir Kramnik and his girlfriend Maria will get married in Paris on December 30th or 31st. The two have met when Kramnik played world chess championship against Peter Leko and Maria came to interview him." Although, Kramnik's homepage is mysteriously silent on the subject.

Anyhow - congratulations go to Kramnik. And I hope you Streatham & Brixton Chess Club enjoy the fun of The J'ahaha, The J'adore, The J'adoubie-doo-bee-doo, The J'ahad, J'aDOH!, The J'aDamn!, The J'adEGO, and The J'adELO - which collectively make up The J'adoubies.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Friday Puzzle

If - like me - your week was as busy as it gets, then I hope that - also like me - you'll be spending the rest of this Friday afternoon with your feet up on a desk.

In which case, you might want to take a few moments to solve this puzzle. It's in memory of David Bronstein, who was playing black (to move) in the diagram position, in 1965 against Vladas I Mikenas.

And if that was too easy - or you've seen it before - don't forget there are other chess puzzles scattered about the blog, too. Here, here, here, here, and here, in fact.

Don't think, incidentally, that there isn't any news about Streatham & Brixton Chess Club. There are first team and second team results to report - but all that over the weekend, and early next week. For right now, my hands are leaving the desk, to be replaced by my feet.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

David Bronstein, 1924–2006

David Bronstein died on Tuesday. I am not really knowledgable enough to write much about this sad news, or about his remarkable life and chess career. So instead, here are some quotes and links:

"David Bronstein was both an outstanding chess player and an excellent writer. Furthermore he was one of the most beautiful players of the twentieth century, always looking for the beauty in chess. Where Botwinnik saw chess as science, Bronstein considered it to be art. And of course it was Bronstein who wrote one of the true classics in chess literature: Zurich International Chess Tournament 1953. Enough reasons to pay tribute to David Ionovich Bronstein." - Doggers-Schaak in memoriam.

"He came within one draw of becoming world champion, and was one of the strongest players in history to not win the title. David Ionovich Bronstein was a remarkable creative genius and a master of scintillating tactics that enthralled the chess world for many decades." - Frederic Friedel, ChessBase obituary.

"In the year's I have been compiling TWIC there has only been one death of comparible stature, that of Mikhail Botvinnik in 1995. I have raked over his [Bronstein's] results and achievements without I think quite getting to the essence of why the man was so important and great. When he emerged he was to that generation as Tal and Fischer were to the next or the young Kasparov was to me. He brought something new and exciting to the game and he took that ability right to the very top and in doing so he actually influenced how a generation played." - Mark Crowther's appreciation of Bronstein.

See also: Brief Wikipedia biography, and the ChessGames page.

"Chess is imagination." - David Bronstein.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


After winning the World Chess Championship against Topalov in October, Kramnik declared he was going to celebrate by getting drunk with his friends. I imagine that - having lost his match 4-2 against Deep Fritz yesterday - his commiseratory tipple last night and tonight will look a somewhat lonelier picture.

Oh well. At least Streatham & Brixton Chess Club will be having a better time of it, since it's our club night tonight, down at the The Priory Arms (click for details.) And if you've got a bit of time to spare today before then, you might want to take a look at the interesting final game of Kramnik - Fritz, where Kramnik played black: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bc4 e6 7.0-0 Be7 8.Bb3 Qc7 9.Re1 Nc6 10.Re3 0-0 11.Rg3 Kh8 12.Nxc6 bxc6 13.Qe2 a5 14.Bg5 Ba6 15.Qf3 Rab8 16.Re1 c5 17.Bf4 Qb7 18.Bc1 Ng8 19.Nb1 Bf6 20.c3 g6 21.Na3 Qc6 22.Rh3 Bg7 23.Qg3 a4 24.Bc2 Rb6 25.e5 dxe5 26.Rxe5 Nf6 27.Qh4 Qb7 28.Re1 h5 29.Rf3 Nh7 30.Qxa4 Qc6 31.Qxc6 Rxc6 32.Ba4 Rb6 33.b3 Kg8 34.c4 Rd8 35.Nb5 Bb7 36.Rfe3 Bh6 37.Re5 Bxc1 38.Rxc1 Rc6 39.Nc3 Rc7 40.Bb5 Nf8 41.Na4 Rdc8 42.Rd1 Kg7 43.Rd6 f6 44.Re2 e5 45.Red2 g5 46.Nb6 Rb8 47.a4 1-0.

Game 5 was pretty interesting too, where Kramnik was white: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.e3 O-O 6.a3 Bxc3+ 7.bxc3 c5 8.Bb2 Nc6 9.Rc1 Re8 10.Bd3 dxc4 11.Bxc4 e5 12.dxe5 Qxd1+ 13.Rxd1 Nxe5 14.Nxe5 Rxe5 15.Be2 Bd7 16.c4 Re7 17.h4 Ne4 18.h5 Ba4 19.Rd3 b5 20.cxb5 Bxb5 21.Rd1 Bxe2 22.Kxe2 Rb8 23.Ba1 f5 24.Rd5 Rb3 25.Rxf5 Rxa3 26.Rb1 Re8 27.Rf4 Ra2+ 28.Ke1 h6 29.Rg4 g5 30.hxg6 Nxf2 31.Rh4 Rf8 32.Kf1 Nh3+ 33.Ke1 Nf2 34.Kf1 Nh3+ 35.Ke1 1/2-1/2, and you can find the rest of the games by looking through our Archives (link in sidebar on the left.)

See you tonight!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Tomorrow is the first Wednesday of the month - and that of course means our chess club evening at The Priory Arms.

I say 'of course' - but all that will in fact change in January, when the pub converts their upstairs into some flats.

As Angus said in the last newsletter, "We have done fantastically well out of the Priory Arms who have provided us with an excellent venue (enjoyed by our opponents also) at no cost for five years."

So, whilst I hope to say 'hello' to many of you there tomorrow - it will also be a little bit of a 'goodbye' too.

Monday, December 04, 2006


Well Streatham & Brixton Chess Club, I've been up for an hour and a half, and whilst I'd like to say 'Good Morning' to you, the truth is we're moving house today, half-packed, have to rush out for a van, then traverse London a few times, in order to trudge all our stuff up four flights of stairs. At times like this I start to puzzle over why I've never won the lottery, or why someone isn't paying me half a million dollars to lose to Fritz. I can easily do that any day of the week. Lose to Fritz, I mean, not win the lottery.

Still, at least Bob sent me a fabulous puzzle to solve, saying: "You asked for remarkable positions, well here's one from an Andersson game v anonymous. I found it in a book printed 1944. I have my suspicions about it's authenticity, but it's a great position. Don't you dare use a chess engine on this!"

It's white to play - and indeed, I think I just solved it without assistance. Enjoy doing the same.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Chessabit Second Rapidplay Tournament

The second chessabit rapidplay tournament was held yesterday, and three Streatham & Brixton Chess Club players took part - James, Adam W and myself. A full report will follow later, since I am somewhat unclear on a few decisions the organisers made, and will be emailing them to clarify.

But, some interesting chess was played. Many of my games got very messy - especially the one that started with the wild 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 f5 4. Nc3 Nd4 5. Bc4 c6 6. Nxe5 Qe7 7. Qh5+ etc - and in a few games I was lucky to salvage draws from outright lost positions. I guess that's the nature of chess when the time limit is fifteen minutes each for all your moves.

Still, I managed a couple of very clean wins with white (all my black games were drawn) and here is one from the first round that shows the importance of getting 'your' opening in at this time-limit. 1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qa5 4. Nf3 Bg4 5. b4!!

Undoubtedly the best move in this position at this time limit. The point is 5. ... Qxb4 6. Rb1 with 7. Rxb7. 5. ... Qf5 6. Be2 c6 7. b5 Qc8 8.O-O Nf6 9. Bc4 e6 10. a4 Be7 11. Ba3 Bxa3 12. Rxa3 c5 13. h3 Bxf3 14. Qxf3 O-O 15. Ne4 Nxe4 16. Qxe4 Nd7 17. Rg3 Nf6 18. Qe5 Clearly, black has played somewhat submissively and white now has the makings of a huge attack on the kingside. But after 18. ... b6?? 19. Qxf6 my opponent resigned straight away.

Btw, my preview of the event can be found here.

Man versus Machine

If Fritz-Kramnik was a Human-Human contest, then game 4 would register as a distinct improvement for that first human (ie Mister Fritz). We would say that first human was lucky not to be behind - and let alone especially lucky to be a game in front - but that in game 4, he at least knew how to get a better endgame and apply pressure throughout. And whilst he must be a touch disappointed with the draw, at least he showed some subtle class that had been missing from his play in certain previous games.

Of course such descriptions make no sense with Fritz, who - unlike its sponspors - couldn't care less, whatever passionate remarks its display says. Fritz was white yesterday, and here are the moves of the game: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.d4 Nxe4 4.Bd3 d5 5.Nxe5 Nd7 6.Nxd7 Bxd7 7.0-0 Bd6 8.Qh5 Qf6 9.Nc3 Qxd4 10.Nxd5 Bc6 11.Ne3 g6 12.Qh3 Ng5 13.Qg4 Qf4 14.Qxf4 Bxf4 15.Nc4 Ne6 16.Bxf4 Nxf4 17.Rfe1+ Kf8 18.Bf1 Bb5 19.a4 Ba6 20.b4 Bxc4 21.Bxc4 Rd8 22.Re4 Nh5 23.Rae1 Rd7 24.h3 Ng7 25.Re5 Nf5 26.Bb5 c6 27.Bd3 Nd6 28.g4 Kg7 29.f4 Rhd8 30.Kg2 Nc8 31.a5 Rd4 32.R5e4 Kf8 33.Kf3 h6 34.Rxd4 Rxd4 35.Re4 Rd6 36.Ke3 g5 37.Rd4 Ke7 38.c4 Rxd4 39.Kxd4 gxf4 40.Ke4 Kf6 41.Kxf4 Ne7 42.Be4 b6 43.c5 bxc5 44.bxc5 Ng6+ 45.Ke3 Ne7 46.Kd4 Ke6 47.Bf3 f5 48.Bd1 Kf6 49.Bc2 fxg4 50.hxg4 Ke6 51.Bb1 Kf6 52.Be4 Ke6 53.Bh1 Kf6 54.Bf3 Ke6 1/2-1/2. I have a strong hunch if Kramnik had had white, the result of that endgame may have been different.

Tomorrow (Sunday) is the fifth game of this six-game match. Kramnik has white; he surely must go for the win in an attempt to draw the match. You can keep track of it via one of the ten live feeds here. Kramnik, meanwhile, ought at least watch out for those mates in one.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Second Team versus Albany

Streatham & Brixton Chess Club's second team faced a tough London League third division match against Albany on the 23rd. On the night the score was 5-3 to them with two adjournments. But when I spoke to my opponent on the phone to arrange a resumption date, he told me that his sealed move was 37. Ne2. That was enough for me to resign, since five minutes with Fritz had confirmed to me already the impression I had on the night: his attack would then cost me a rook. So, we lost the match. Congratulations to Albany though, who have been fielding a consistently strong team this year and are currently unbeaten. They look hot favourites for promotion, as can be seen from the Division Three Table.

I had more luck for the first team last night in our match against Wimbledon - luck being the operative word. After a completely unclear middle-game, we reached this position:

Here my opponent blundered with 33. R2c2?? I'm sure you can spot the instant win I had then. A full report on that match will follow later, in a separate post.

Oh, btw. If you're tired of seeing little incidents from my games (how dare you!) then feel free to send me your games for publication - or interesting positions from them.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Kramnik - Deep Fritz: Game 3

I spent yesterday in a deep dark corner of the Hampshire countryside - visiting my Mum; family anniversary - where only the woo of an owl might keep you from sleep - and, where the internet dare not reach. Still, as far as I could judge from Ceefax, I didn't miss much in game 3 of Kramnik's contest with both Deep Fritz and his own blunder-loving demons.

But in fact, playing through the moves of the game - 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Bg2 dxc4 5.Qa4+ Nbd7 6.Qxc4 a6 7.Qc2 c5 8.Nf3 b6 9.Ne5 Nd5 10.Nc3 Bb7 11.Nxd5 Bxd5 12.Bxd5 exd5 13.0-0 Nxe5 14.dxe5 Qc8 15.Rd1 Qe6 16.Qd3 Be7 17.Qxd5 Rd8 18.Qb3 Rxd1+ 19.Qxd1 0-0 20.Qb3 c4 21.Qc3 f6 22.b3 Rc8 23.Bb2 b5 24.Qe3 fxe5 25.bxc4 Rxc4 26.Bxe5 h6 27.Rd1 Rc2 28.Qb3 Qxb3 29.axb3 Rxe2 30.Bd6 Bf6 31.Bc5 a5 32.Bd4 Be7 33.Bc3 a4 34.bxa4 bxa4 35.Rd7 Bf8 36.Rd8 Kf7 37.Ra8 a3 38.Rxf8+ Kxf8 39.Bb4+ Kf7 40.Bxa3 Ra2 41.Bc5 g6 42.h4 Kf6 43.Be3 h5 44.Kg2 ½-½ - that is not quite the case. Fritz had some pressure for a pawn, and then Kramnik found a neat way to liquidize to a drawn fortress endgame.

Which brings me on to something else. If you want to play through the above game or any game featured here, one good way to do it is download a programme called 'WinBoard.' WinBoard will allow you to copy and paste moves to play through games on your computer screen. Actually, it does a few more things besides that - but you can find that out for yourself. A link to its download and information site is in the sidebar to your left under 'Chess Downloads.'

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Chess a bit more!

Chessabit are a new London outfit, who are about to run their second one-day rapid-play tournament. The event is this Saturday - December 2nd 2006 - in East London. First prize is £500, no less - and best of all, it's not to late to enter. Click the link above for more details.

I took part in their first event over the summer, and I was lucky enough to scrape my way to second place and a prize of £250 - plus a few goodies thrown in from their sponsor. It was a nicely organised event in a novel setting (that time, the Salvador & Amanda bar/club/restaurant in central London.) I'm sure they will have learnt a lot from it too - especially how to deal with cantankerous old timers - and so this next event promises to be even better.

The diagram position is taken from one of my wins that day, and should tell you something about the standard of play required in this kind of tournament. That is, the standard required when the time-limit is all your moves in fifteen minutes, and the grading limit is 175ECF and under.

Black, my opponent, was to move, and he tempted me with 1. ... f6. I decided upon: 2. Nxg6 hxg6 3. Qxg6 White's attack doesn't make that much sense - and 2. Nf3, 2. Bxg6 and 3. Bxg6 were all probably better choices - but real precision is required to defend here, and thus I reasonned the position would gain me 'five minutes of compensation from the clock.' In fact, I got even more from it. After 3. ... Kf8 4. h4 Bf7 5. Qh7 Ne6?? 6. Bf5 Bg8 we reached the second diagram position, below. I just had to spot one of those tactics that are key in blitz, and I'm sure you'll spot it too.

Yep - after 7. Qxg8+! Kxg8 8. Bxe6+ Qxe6 9. Rxe6, the endgame was easily winning for white. Hope to see you Saturday.

Monday, November 27, 2006

World Championship Quality Blunders

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

It’s humankind against the computers and frankly we’ve embarrassed ourselves. [see Shock and Stun below]. There goes Kramnik, allegedly the very best we’ve got to offer, making the sort of howler that would shame a patzer who spends his time fiddling around the lower reaches of the London League. A player such as myself I mean.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised. After all Kramnik’s recent match against Topalov was settled by a rank bad move. We probably should have seen that coming too.

Looking back at World Championship matches, you'll find both Champions and Challengers committing blunders of true beginner-level brilliancy. Yes, from Steinitz-Zukertort all the way to Kramnik-Topalov, it seems the greats not only outshine us amateurs in matters of conventional chess technique, but that they also horlicks things up with a lot more style too.

This is definitely an area that warrants further investigation but before we start our quest to find the greatest World Championship Blunder of all time we need some objective criteria by which we can judge the contenders. After long contemplation (while I was on the bus on my way to Golden Lane last week) using the latest technology (back of envelope, biro) I’ve discovered each blunder can be definitively rated using four criteria.

(A) Effect on the Game
(B) Effect on the Match
(C) Degree of Difficulty
(D) Artistic Merit

The first two categories probably speak for themselves. A move that turns a certain win into a dead loss during a closely fought match should clearly score more highly than one that merely transforms an easy draw into a slightly worse game when the match situation is already beyond saving. The other categories, though, may need more explanation.

My robust and absolutely non-subjective (ahem) yardstick for *Degree of Difficulty* is how I'd feel if I played the move myself during a routine London League match.

*Artistic Merit*, on the other hand, is a collection of sundry factors that the truly gifted will throw into the mix to lift his work above the mediocre. It’s a dollop of cream that might (slightly) disguise the stench of rotting strawberries if you will.

It’s a concept, I must confess, I struggled to explain to Tom when we discussed the potential for this series. Some potential examples are the blunder requires a Queen sacrifice to exploit or perhaps the move itself was so wonderfully pointless it’s really difficult to work out why it was played even if it didn’t lose instantly. That sort of thing.

So let's review Kramnik - Topalov in the light of our criteria.....

In an admittedly difficult position Topalov played

... Rxc5??
which loses instantly to
The point is after
... Rxb7
Rxc5+ Kb6
axb7 ...

if Black now takes the Rook White will Queen so it's Good Night Charlie.

Topalov was losing anyway in a blitz finish you never can be quite sure so you have to say blowing the game instantly had a fairly significant effect on the game. Similarly it was effectively a world championship decider so losing the game meant automatically losing the match.

Of course it was just a rank bad move and thus fairly hard to find in normal play. I'm not sure what I would have played in the position myself, perhaps trying to get the Bishop around to have some influence on the Queenside, but I'd certainly be kicking myself after the game if I'd come up with ... Rc5.

In terms of Artistic Merit there really isn't much to say. A simple one move refutation and that's your lot. I do find it somewhat amusing that Topalov should lose the match in this way, given his (some would say) questionable behaviour earlier in the contest. There's nothing too memorable about this blunder though, more's the pity.

In Conclusion:

Effect on the Game 2/5
Effect on the Match 2/5
Degree of Difficulty 3/5
Artistic Merit 1/5

So there you have it. Topalov manages an Ultimate Blunder Rating of just 8/20. It's respectable, but not really good enough at this level.

Trust me, there are much better of examples of ineptitude to be found in World Championship matches across the years - something I hope to demonstrate in the weeks and months to come.

Next time ... probably the most famous World Championship blunder of them all.

Shock and Stun

Susan Polgar is regularly stunned and shocked when it comes to chess events and moves - but even she might have to reach for the thesaurus to express her amazement at this one.

In the diagram position it's black, Kramnik, to move, in game 2 of his match against Fritz from today. Now it doesn't matter how centralised you are, whether you'll be better in the endgame after a queen exchange, nor whether your bishop is better than the knight, or how quick you can make a passed pawn - not when your opponent threatens mate in one.

So, here are the moves of the game, if you can bare to look. The diagram is at move number 34:

1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. e4 b5 4. a4 c6 5. Nc3 b4 6. Na2 Nf6 7. e5 Nd5 8. Bxc4 e6 9. Nf3 a5 10. Bg5 Qb6 11. Nc1 Ba6 12. Qe2 h6 13. Be3 Bxc4 14. Qxc4 Nd7 15. Nb3 Be7 16. Rc1 O-O 17. O-O Rfc8 18. Qe2 c5 19. Nfd2 Qc6 20. Qh5 Qxa4 21. Nxc5 Nxc5 22. dxc5 Nxe3 23. fxe3 Bxc5 24. Qxf7+ Kh8 25. Qf3 Rf8 26. Qe4 Qd7 27. Nb3 Bb6 28. Rfd1 Qf7 29. Rf1 Qa7 30. Rxf8+ Rxf8 31. Nd4 a4 32. Nxe6 Bxe3+ 33. Kh1 Bxc1 34. Nxf8 Qe3?? 35. Qh7#

Deep Fritz versus Kramnik: Game 2

The second game of the man versus machine contest from Bonn, Germany, starts in just over half an hour. Kramnik will play black - and so, one might imagine, his chances of exchanging straight out the opening into the kind of technical endgame at which he excels - and where Fritz might encounter serious problems - are probably rather less than in Game One. Especially if Fritz opens 1. d4.

ChessBase - who manufacture Fritz - have been covering the event like crazy. Their top five stories are all currently about it. Aside from Yasser Seirawan's analysis (which I linked to from the post about game one) these excerpts translated from a Kramnik interview in German were particularly interesting.

You might think nothing else was happening in the chess world - but that's not entirely true. Check out the excellent news service Doggers Schaak to find out how Loek van Wely won a horse, or how Ivanchuk is getting on in Cuba right now, for instance.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

First Team versus Ilford: Update

This is Adam W's adjournment position from the Streatham & Brixton Chess Club First Team match against Ilford (which was left 5-3 with four adjournments on the night). His opponent, who had the black pieces, sealed, and below the diagram you can find out  what happened on the resumption.

The sealed move was 37. ...Qg5 - but after 38. Rh4+, black blundered straight away with 39. ... Qh5?? Necessary instead was 39. ... Qxh4 40. Qxh4+ Kg7. Then, whilst white doesn't have any immediate mating threats, he can still round up the d6 pawn with Qd4+ and Nb5 - after which he can advance his c-pawn, and maybe at the same time apply pressure on the black kingside with h4-h5. But what happened allowed Adam to finish the game off in crisp style. 39. Rxh5+ Kxh5 40. Nd5 Rde8 41. g4+! The key move. Black's king is caught in a mating net. 41. ... Kh6 42. g5+ Kh5 43. Qf3+ Kxg5 44. Qf4+, and black resigned. It's mate next move.

Jeremy meanwhile agreed his adjourned rook and pawn endgame as drawn - which brings the match score to 5½-4½ in Ilford's favour. Good luck to Angus and Alan in their adjournments - the results of which will decide the match, one way or another . . .

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Man versus Machine: Kick-Off!

Everyone's talking about it.

No, not EastEnders, not the cricket, and not Streatham & Brixton's new chess blog. I mean of course the Kramnik - Deep Fritz match, game one of which kicks the match off today at 2pm. I recommend the excellent site Doggers-Schaak's rather interesting preview - it includes predictions from top players, a profile of the computer, details of the unusual rules, some slightly odd photo's, and quotes from Kramnik's press-conference. Let's hope this one in particular proves accurate:

"This computing monster keeps getting better year by year, month by month, day by day: My opponent will be incredibly strong. But I think I can still beat it."

Of course, there'll be live coverage all over the internet and chess servers. I'll be watching it here - whilst Chessgames's coverage might (who knows?) offer a more sophisticated level of kibitzing, compared to the usual in-jokes and chatter on the ICC & Playchess. Apart from that, you can find out more about Kramnik from his home-page, whilst the official site for the match is here. I'll post the moves of the game up once it's done.

> > > UPDATE > > >

And so - it was a draw.

Kramnik played white, and here are the moves:

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 d5 4. Bg2 dxc4 5. Qa4+ Nbd7 6. Qxc4 a6 7. Qd3 c5 8. dxc5 Bxc5 9. Nf3 O-O 10. O-O Qe7 11. Nc3 b6 12. Ne4 Nxe4 13. Qxe4 Nf6 14. Qh4 (When a computer offers you two rooks for a queen, it's probably a good idea to decline.)14. ... Bb7 15. Bg5 Rfd8 16. Bxf6 Qxf6 17. Qxf6 gxf6 (Black's activity and slight lead in development will not last for long; therefore, white has the better endgame due to the battered black pawns.) 18. Rfd1 Kf8 19. Ne1 Bxg2 20. Kxg2 f5 21. Rxd8+ Rxd8 22. Nd3 Bd4 23. Rc1 e5 (Moves like 20. ... f5 and 23. ... e5 are typical of a common problems computers have with pawns in endgames: they are often too enthusiastic to move them.) 24. Rc2 Rd5 25. Nb4 Rb5 26. Nxa6 Rxb2 27. Rxb2 Bxb2 28. Nb4 Kg7 29. Nd5 Bd4 30. a4 (Fixing the pawn on b6. But might it have been more exposed on b5 or b4 anyhow? Moves 30 and 31 are critical for determining a winning plan for white - and maybe he got it wrong. E.g., or the analysis here.) 30. ... Bc5 31. h3 f6 32. f3 Kg6 33. e4 h5 34. g4 hxg4 35. hxg4 fxe4 36. fxe4 (Maybe white should have penetrated with his king on the queenside before this simplification, or prepared e4 but without g4.) 36. ... Kg5 37. Kf3 Kg6 38. Ke2 Kg5 39. Kd3 Bg1 40. Kc4 Bf2 41. Kb5 Kxg4 42. Nxf6+ (42. Nxb6 Bxb6 43. Kxb6 f5 is trivially drawn.)42. ... Kf3 43. Kc6 Bh4! (Now the draw is crystal clear.) 44. Nd7 Kxe4 45. Kxb6 Bf2+ 46. Kc6 Be1 47. Nxe5 Game drawn 1/2-1/2

Friday, November 24, 2006


Well, here it is.

Streatham & Brixton Chess Club blog
goes fully public today. Please take a look around - you'll find team and tournament reports, for instance, as well as puzzles to baffle and amuse. There's a happy birthday to Capablanca, and a link to an excellent free book, and more besides. Or you can just clik the 'November 2006' archive link up on the left, then scroll about to take a look at it all for yourself.

And if you're done with all that - then feel free to leave a comment, or try out the sidebar to the left, which is bursting with chess links. Mm, what else do you need to know? Well - we plan to update the blog at least once a day, with anything from club news to trivia, puzzles to opinions, games to history.

Oh, and let me know what you think.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Secret Secret

New In Chess frequently send me adverts for products I can't afford, but this morning's credit-card temptation took me by surprise. "Botvinnik's Secret Games is about the training matches which the Patriarch played to prepare for his World Championship contests," writes Allard Hoogland. "It contains no less than 97 games from between 1937 and 1970, many of which are annotated by Timman."

Can't you just print that for free from the internet, though, a corner of my memory asked . . . ?

Not quite, it turns out . . .

A previous version of the book is currently still available here (large pdf), titled this time as Secret Matches: The Unknown Training Games of Mikhail Botvinnik. It's edited by Hanon W. Russell - but with many games annotated by Timman, and with a very interesting essay by him too at the start, about the theoretical importance of the games. But on the other hand, this seems to be a new addition to the commercial version of the book:
The book also has an amazing chapter by Yuri Averbakh, one of Botvinnik's training opponents. Averbakh relates how he had to play in front of a blaring radio because Botvinnik wanted to steel his nerves against noisy disturbances. "After five hours of play", writes Averbakh, "I felt like an utter zombie."
I always feel like an utter zombie after five hours of play, but team-mates from our club will know that already. Anyway - if I were you, Streatham & Brixton Chess Club, I'd download the free version now, in case it disappears like a secret.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Puzzle Extraordinairé

What's the most extraordinary move you've ever played? That you've seen played? That's ever been played? Unfortunately, my answer to the first question is my 35. ... Re3 from a recent London League match for Streatham & Brixton Chess Club first team - overlooking the none too subtle reply 36. Rf3xe3. A whole rook down I went - and no, I wasn't in time trouble either.

This position is from Gomes - Neto, Rio de Janeiro 1942. Black played an extraordinary move too, but extraordinary for all the right reasons. Can you spot it? It's number 108 in Tim Krabbé's 110 Most Fantastic Moves Ever Played - but one of my favourites.

Bytheway, you can find a link to Tim's site in the sidebar. On which note - let me know if you think I've left any interesting chess links out from there, and I'll add them too.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Civil Service Congress

The Third Civil Service Open Chess Congress took place on the weekend of the 11th November, at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Three Streatham & Brixton Chess Club players took part.

Barry battled it out in a tough-looking Major - whilst after a nice win in the first round of the Open, I managed only one draw from the next four games. Well done to Robin though who had a much better time of it - scoring 3/5, which proved enough to win him a cut of the Grading Prize.

The Civil Service Chess League site currently has a brief summary of the tournament - whilst if you want to look through any of the games from the Open, they are available here (via the BritBase site) although many seem incomplete. Upcoming tournaments meanwhile can be found listed here.

Monday, November 20, 2006

London Transport, Chess Puzzle

Well, they say nothing was working in London this morning. No Central Line, no Circle Line. Delays on the Northern and Picadilly. Strikes on the buses. The night's engineering work on the train tracks not finished on time. Silent thousands fuming on the platforms. Glad I slept right through my alarm and missed it all, frankly.

I don't know anything about this puzzle, except it's called "Scenic Railway." If only London worked so prettily too.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

London League - Second Team, So Far

Streatham & Brixton Chess Club entered a second team for the first time last year in the London League. That team topped the Fourth Division by one game point, and was thus rewarded with promotion to Division Three - a somewhat tougher prospect.

So far this year, the team has played three matches. Despite a close 4½-5½ defeat at the hands of Capablanca, we beat West London 7-3, and overcame East Ham by the narrowest of margins - 5½-4½. Incidentally, that extra half point was earned by Alan in a tricky adjournment where he defended tenaciously for over two hours - great stuff.

The second team's next encounter is at Golden Lane on the 23rd November against Albany. Albany have won both their mathces so far this season, and look to have a strong line-up - as can be seen by the London League Division 3 table, here.

José Raúl Capablanca

Today would have been Capablanca's birthday, had he lived to 118. He was the third World Chess Champion, and one of the all time greats. Current World Champion Vladimir Kramnik describes him this way:
We can compare Capablanca with Mozart, whose charming music appeared to have been a smooth flow. I get the impression that Capablanca did not even know why he preferred this or that move, he just moved the pieces with his hand. If he had worked a lot on chess, he might have played worse because he would have started to try to comprehend things. But Capablanca did not have to comprehend anything, he just had to move the pieces!
Well, at least I have a lack of comprehension in common with Capablanca. Anyhow, wikipedia has a brief article about him here, whilst below is a short and spectacular crowd-pleasing win of his, against the amateur Jaime Baca Arus in an Exhibition Match in Havana, 1912. Capablanca played white. See if you can spot the continuation from the diagram position.

1. d4 d5 2. e3 e6 3. Bd3 c6 4. Nf3 Bd6 5. Nbd2 f5 6. c4 Qf6 7. b3 Nh6 8. Bb2 O-O 9. Qc2 Nd7 10. h3 g6 11. O-O-O e5 12. dxe5 Nxe5 13. cxd5 cxd5

I should let you know at this point that Capablanca was playing blindfolded.

But can you see his next move?

Well, here is how the game finished:

14. Nc4 dxc4 15. Bxc4+ Nhf7 16. Rxd6 Qxd6 17. Nxe5 Be6 18. Rd1 Qe7 19. Rd7 Bxd7 20. Nxd7 Rfc8 21. Qc3 Rxc4 22. bxc4
. Some sources say black resigned here, whilst others give these concluding moves: 22. ... Nd6 23.Qh8+ Kf7 24.Ne5+ Ke6 25.Qxa8. Either way, white won. Anyhow - Happy Birthday Capablanca, from Streatham & Brixton Chess Club!


Rook and pawn endgames are notoriously tricky - which means that in practice, they're notoriously drawn. This particular position indeed looks rather tricky for white (to move) to win, as both 1. b7 and 1. Rb7 can apparently be met by 1. ... Kc6.

But white has something crafty up his sleeve. Can you spot it?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

London League - First Team, So Far

Despite a 2.5 - 9.5 defeat in the opening London League Division One match of the season at the hands of last year's Champions Wood Green, Streatham & Brixton Chess Club First Team bounced back in our second match, beating the ever-hospitable Drunken Knights 8-4.

The next test was on November the 15th against Ilford. That match is currently poised 5-3 to them - with four adjournments waiting to be played out. Here's my win from the evening, where I played white on board 8 against David Chandler.

1. e4 e6 2. d4 c5 3. Nf3 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Bd3 Nc6 6. Nxc6 dxc6 7. O-O e5 White has a slight advantage - a tiny lead in development, and a few holes in the black queenside to aim his pieces at. 8. Be3 Nf6 9. f3 Bb4!? 10. Qe2 Qe7 11. Nd2 Be6 12. Nc4 Bxc4 13. Bxc4 Rd8 14. Qf2 b5 15. Be2 Qe6 Black has played inaccurately, and now will have to make one kind of concrete compromise or another on the queenside. 16. a4 O-O 17. c4 bxc4 18. Rfc1 a5?! (18. ... Rd3! was the best way to confuse matters.) 19. Bxc4 Qd7 20. Rc2 Rb8 21. Rac1 h6 22. Bf1 Rfc8 23. Ba6 Rd8 24. Rxc6 Ra8 25. Bb5 Rab8 26. Bb6 Rf8 27. Rxf6 Qd2 28. Rfc6 Over the last eight or so moves, black has been playing for traps rather than sitting back and suffering a long defence. He was short of time and perhaps intended 28. ... Rxb6 - but that loses to 29. Qxb6. Black resigned.

Croydon League Second Division - First Result!

The Streatham & Brixton Chess Club Second Team played their first match of the new season on the 15th November, in the Croydon League second division. An exciting match ended in a 2-2 draw, with Jonathan and Alexey both winning.


White had been pushing in the middlegame, and is still trying to win this endgame. With his last move (1. Bf2-h4) he intends Kg3xg4, and then to penetrate via f5 or g5. Black can stop this by posting his bishop on h6 and king on e6, and then by meeting Bg5 by retreating his bishop - with a definite draw.

Or does he have something better?

First Post

It's the news the chess world has been waiting for.

No - not that Fischer has returned, and will face an unretired Kasparov, in an unlimited match. No - not that The Master Game is back on BBC2. No - not that Hydra has created a 32-piece tablebase that proves once and for all that 1. g4 wins outright, whilst everything else is a draw. No - it's not the low-down of what Kramnik was doing in his toilet after all. No - Wood Green have not lost a London League match.

Think bigger.

Think better.

Yes, that's right! We - Streatham & Brixton Chess Club - have gotten ourselves a new blog!

Although thinking about it, you new that already, since you're looking at it.

Oh well. Hello.

Monday, October 30, 2006

October 2006 Posts

Streatham & Brixton Chess Club's blog was started in November 2006.

Posts back-dated to the October archive are house-keeping posts only.

For instance, there is an index of the puzzles. Also, I will save stuff here for future use on the blog, so as not to forget them. And experiment with things to see how they look, before dating them correctly. There might the odd draft too.

Anyhow - you should basically ignore the October posts, unless you have come here for a particular reason.

You can see the 7 most recent posts on the blog by clicking here.

Or click on one of the archive links to your left, to see a whole month's worth of posts.

Sunday, October 29, 2006


Uploaded for future use, as other wise I would forget about it. It's very nice.


Same goes for:


At the other end of the spectrum, via

And via Imperial Chess Club:


!!! DELME !!!

this is a sample google doc table the rows embiggen


when you


in them!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Puzzle Index

If you're just here to try some puzzles, this is the post for you. Each time I add a puzzle, this post will be edited with the new link, and for all our Sunday puzzles on one page click here. Here are the current links to all puzzles on the blog:

Al-Adli's Ninth Century Firework (easy)
All Too Accurate... (hard)
Anderssen-Anonymous (hard)
An Old Pair (one easy, one moderate)
As simple as can be? (simple, but moderate)
Attacking the Marshall Attack back (moderate)
Beauty & the Bulldozer (moderate)
Beauty, sans Truth? (moderate)
Better than a Pole Dance? (hard)
Bishops and Pawns Endgame (easy)
Bronstein Memorial (fairly easy)
Christmas Tree (moderate/fun)
Comedy or Competition? (moderate)
Cutely Round The Rink (easy/moderate)
David Howell's Win in One (easy)
Double Escape for Double FF (one easy, one moderate)
Easy for Jonathan (moderate)
Fifteen Minutes . . . Twice! (moderate)
Four Thought (hard/fun)
Find a future chess - or not? (hard)
From Blue Skies, Thunderbolts (moderate)
From the Bargain Basement (moderate)
Here Comes The Sun! (hard)
Intrigue & Improvement (hard)
Lasker's Ideal (very, very hard)
Ljubo's Missed Win (very hard)
Nissl's Little Dance (hard)
Ooops... (easy)
Puzzle Extraordinairé (very hard)
Rooks and Pawns Endgame (hard)
Sam Loyd, 1858 (moderate)
Scenic Railway (easy/fun)
Théodore Herlin 1860 Ice Skating (moderate/fun)
Unscenic Railyway (moderate/fun)
What the Audience knew... (hard)
You Can't Fail (trivial/fun)

If that doesn't satisfy you, the followings posts also contain positions to chew over, but they are not really purely about the puzzle.

Capablanca Blindfold Brilliancy (very hard)
Game fragment - blitz tactic (easy)
Game fragment - blunder, but why? (easy)
Game fragment - break-through versus blockade (moderate)
Game fragment - missed win (hard)

Still not had enough? Really?? In that case, try out chess blogger Steve Goldberg's Puzzles as well!

Or - if studies are more your thing, Chessvibes give you a week to solve theirs.