Sunday, October 24, 2010

National Chess Day Delayed Blast

Whether because of the early morning rain, the simultaneous scheduling of the North American Chess Association's G/60 Championship in Skokie or both, turnout for our National Chess Day Delayed Blast Open Swiss was paltry, and as a result it was shortened to three rounds. However, we made up for it in our rated beginners' open, which drew 16 participants. Ten players in the RBO and two in the open Swiss were previously unrated. (Several membership checks have to be mailed in and processed, so the tournament will be rated around midweek. Patience, grasshoppers!)

Will Engel is no longer the Route 20 Chess Club's newest member -- several players joined at the tournament -- but he's still our toughest. Here's his game against second-place open finisher Kelsen Alexander of Madison, his only draw alongside two wins.

National Chess Day Delayed Blast
Freeport, Ill., Oct. 23, 2010

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4
Strong grandmasters have played 3...B4, including Lautier, Ehlvest and Korchnoi. However, none of them has a winning record with it. In most cases, white simply ignores the bishop and continues developing with 4.Nf3.

4.Bd2 Nf6 5.Nf3 c5 6.e3 Nc6 7.Qa4

7...Bd7 8.dxc5 Bxc5 9.cxd5 exd5 10.Bb5
Black, about to castle, is looking a little better here. White can subtly refocus his line of fire by way of 10.Qb3 d4 11.exd4 Nxd4 12.Nxd4 Bxd4, maintaining equality.

10...0-0 11.0-0 Rc8 12.Rac1 Re8
Now's a good moment to kick the bishop with 12...a6.

Clever. Although it's probable that black will recapture with the king's knight, if for some reason he doesn't, 14.Ba5! traps the queen.

The obvious play, but there's also 13...Ne4!?, simultaneously attacking the d2-bishop and defending the c5-bishop.

It's looking good for Kelsen.

14...Nb6 15.Qc2 a6 16.Bxc6 Bxc6
Better to recapture with the rook, 16...Rxc6 17.Rc1 Qe7.

This move leaves Kelsen vulnerable to a slick king-exposing attack by which black can restore equality: 17...Bxg2 18.Kxg2 Rxe5 (the white rook on c5 is pinned) 19.Rxc8 Nxc8 (not 19...Qxc8 20.Qxc8 Nxc8 21.Rc1, which is still better for white). It also passes up a chance to take advantage of his pieces' activity, 17.Ng5 g6 18.Ba5.

The idea behind Will's move is unclear.

Kelsen still isn't seizing the moment. Having brought his knight to e5, and being a pawn ahead, it makes sense for him to trade down with 18.Nxc6 Rexc6 19.Rxc6 Rxc6.

Better for Will is an exchange sacrifice that pulls Kelsen's rook off the c-file, 18...Rxe5! 19.Rxe5, followed up by 19...Ba4!, a double attack on Kelsen's queen. The only answer that keeps Kelsen in the game is to trade queens with a discovered attack of his own: 20.Ba5 Bxc2 21.Rxd8+ Rxd8. No matter what, he loses a rook, and Will remains at least a piece ahead.

19.Bc3 Na4??
Overlooking a potential discovered attack on his queen: 20.Nxc6! Nxc5 21.Bxf6 Rexc6 22.Bc3.

Also overlooking the discovered attack! Nevertheless, it's looking bad for Will right now. Even his best move, 20...Qe7 (diagram), allows Kelsen a remarkable tactic. Can you spot it? (Highlight to reveal answer.)

21.Qxa4! can't be retaken -- at least, not immediately. If black tries, he loses his own queen as well: 21...Bxa4?? 22.Rxc8+ Qe8 23.Rxe8+ Rxe8. The necessary reply is 21...Qxc5 22.Nxc5 Bxa4 23.Nxa4, after which black has a rook against a bishop and a knight -- far from ideal, but better than being down a whole piece.

Not significantly worse than 20...Qe7.

It may not look it, but this is a gift to Will. 21.Rxc6! Rexc6 22.Qxa4, threatening the fork 23.Ne5, keeps a tight grip on the initiative; if 22...Qe6, then 23.Qd4 uses the threat of mate to win other concessions -- for example, 23...Rxc3 24.bxc3. Black's best hope is 23...f6 24.Qd5 Kf7 25.e4 Qxd5 26.Rxd5 (not 26.exd5?? Rd6, trapping white's knight). The problem is that even after the queens are traded, Will's rook can still punch a hole in Kelsen's king defense, seizing back the initiative and potentially picking up the loose rook on c5.

21...Rxg6 22.Rc4?
Kelsen clings to his rook at the expense of his king's safety. 22.g3!? Nxc5 23.Nxc5 is unfortunately necessary.

22...Rxg2 23.Kf1 Nxc3
Lets Kelsen off the hook somewhat. 23...Rxh2 is a freebie, and can be followed by 24.Nf6+ Kh8 25.Ne4 Rh1+ 26.Ke2 Bb5 27.Kf3 Bxc4 28.Rxh1. After 28...Bd5 29.Rd1 Nxc3 30.bxc3 Bxa2, there's not much hope remaining for white.

24.Rxc3 Rxh2 25.Ke2 h5 26.Ne5 Bb5+ 27.Kf3 Rxc3 28.bxc3 Rh4 29.Rd8+

Kelsen hangs on tenaciously.

29...Kh7 30.Nxf7 Bc6+ 31.Ke2 g6 32.Ne5 Bb5+ 33.Kf3 Ra4 34.Rd6
Pressuring the backward pawn on g6 . . .

34...Rxa2 35.Nxg6
. . . but just because the pressure is there doesn't mean it has to be used right away. Kelsen can keep it even with 35.c4!? Bc6+ 36.Nxc6 bxc6 37.Rxc6.

Chipping away at Kelsen's foundation.

36.Nf4 a5 37.Rb6?
A stumble on the tightrope. Kelsen is best off giving his king more freedom of movement with 37.Ke4.

37...Bc6+ 38.Kg3 h4+
Unnecessary when 38...a4!? 39.Nxh5 Rxc3 is available.


The last window of opportunity closes on that poor passed pawn.

40.Nd3 Re2 41.Ne5 Be4 42.Nc4 a4
Too late for that.

43.Nd6 Rxe3 44.Nxe4 Rxe4+ 45.Kg3 Re3+ 46.Kf4 Rxc3 47.Rxb7+ Kg6 48.Ke4 a3 49.Ra7 Kf6 50.Kd4 Rb3 51.Kc4 ½-½

Congratulations to Will and to second-place finishers Kelsen and Gary Sargent, and to RBO winners R.J. Swedlow, Zach Woll and Taylor Soddy, who won third place on a modified-median tiebreak -- he was one of seven players who finished with a 3.0 score. Congratulations also to the dozen participants playing USCF-rated chess for the first time, and thanks to Monica Kearney for handling the lunch orders. See event pictures on our Photos page and complete crosstables on our Tournament Results page.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

No Meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 26

The Conference Center at Highland Community College is fully booked on Tuesday, Oct. 26. Rather than relocate, we're taking the week off.

Enjoy the breather. Spend time with your family. Watch NCIS.

And don't forget to join us at our National Chess Day Delayed Blast tournament, this Saturday at HCC!

Game of the Week

A hearty welcome to Roger Stanfield of Sterling, who first joined us at our Route 20 Rated Beginners' Open in July and swung by again for a visit this Tuesday night.

Route 20 Chess Club
Freeport, Ill., Oct. 19, 2010

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Qa5+
3...Nf6 is the standard response in the Slav Defense. Not getting his king's knight out in a timely manner is going to be a liability for Roger.

4.Nc3 dxc4 5.e3 e6
5...b5!? should be considered.


6...c5 7.0-0 Qb4
7...a6 prevents my next move.

8.Bb5+ Bd7 9.Bxd7
Over the next few moves, I decide I shouldn't have been quite so eager to trade bishops, especially a good, active bishop for a bad one, and especially since Roger can develop a knight while recapturing. An alternative path is 9.a3!? Qa5 10.Qb3 Bxb5 11.Qxb5+ Qxb5 12.Nxb5.

9...Nxd7 10.Bd2 cxd4 11.exd4 Qa5
Trying to switch to the kingside. But Roger is behind in development; an attack is premature. 11...Be7 is about right for this situation.

12.d5!? conceals an Uzi under its trenchcoat. If black replies 12...exd5, the following mayhem ensues: 13.Qb3 Nc5 14.Rae1+ Be7 15.Qxd5 (or 15.Nxd5 Nxb3 16.Bxa5 Nxa5 17.Nc7+ Kd7 18.Nxa8) 15...Rd8 16.Qh5 g6 17.Rxe7+ Nxe7 18.Ne4 Nc6 (18...gxh5 19.Nf6+ Kf8 20.Bh6#) 19.Nf6+ Ke7 20.Nd5+ Kd6 21.Qg5 (diagram), down the exchange but all set to unleash a ferocious attack with the bishop and two knights.

Passing up a quiet moment to play 12...Ngf6.


I'm prouder of this double attack than it merits: Black is in no trouble after 13...Qd5, although I do get to trade off one of his developed pieces with 14.Nxd6 Qxd6. A better way to obstruct Roger's crosstown traffic is 13.a4, threatening 14.Nb5.

The double attack shouldn't work as intended, but it does.

14.Nxd6+ Ke7 15.Nxb7
A cheap pickup, and nothing to sneeze at, but there's no reason why I shouldn't bring the attack immediately with 15.Qc7 Ngf6 16.Ne5.


I see the threat of a mating attack on h2. But I've been ahead in development this whole time; can I generate an attack of my own before Roger can initiate his, or do I need to block before I punch, playing 16.h3 first? I read out my plan and conclude: The time is now.

16.Bb4+ Ke8 17.Rac1
The one tempo-costing move I'm allowed.

17...Nb6 18.Qc6+ Nfd7 19.Nd6+ Ke7 20.Ne4+
Victory through retreat!

20...Ke8 21.Qd6
I balk at 21.Qxa8+! because of the guarding knight, but in fact it still works: 21...Nb8 (21...Nxa8 22.Rc8#) Qxb8+ Nc8 Qxc8#.

Only 21...Nc5 can do anything more than postpone black's fate.

22.Qe7# 1-0

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Game of the Week

Another battle for the top of the ladder!

Route 20 Chess Club
Freeport, Ill., Oct. 12, 2010

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 g6?!
An unusual way to continue a Sicilian, though not unprecedented: Veselin Topalov has used it successfully. (Though, of course, he's Topalov.)

3.d3 Bg7 4.Be3 d6 5.Qd2 Nc6 6.a3

6...Be6 7.Nge2 a6 8.Nf4
Gary has set himself up well for a d4 push; it's a shame to discard that opportunity.

That's one way to try to discourage a trade on e6, but 8...Bd7, retreating the bishop, might be better. Because as it turns out, Gary isn't discouraged after all.

9.Nxe6 Qxe6 10.Rb1
With Will's queen blocking his e-pawn, d5 is a nice outpost for Gary's other knight, and 10.Nd5 also packs the threat of a fork on c7. Does Gary perhaps mean 10.Rb1 to defend his b-pawn in anticipation of moving the knight?

Bye-bye outpost. Gary's plan is too slow.

11.Be2 Nd4 12.Nd5
Or Gary could just castle. Because that knight's not going to get to stay there.

12...Nxd5 13.exd5 Qxd5 14.0-0 0-0

Up a pawn, Will can increase his advantage by trading minor pieces on e2 before castling: 14...Nxe2+ 15.Qxe2 0-0.

15.Bxd4 Qxd4
Down a pawn, Gary should not be trading. Instead, he should evacuate his e2-bishop to g4. Will, meanwhile, is right to retake with his queen -- 15...Bxd4?! 16.Bf3 Qe6 17.b4 is lame for black.

16.c3 Qa4 17.Rfe1 e6 18.Qd1
The queen is more active on e3, and anyway, Gary should not be inviting trades.

It's odd that Will passes up a trade when one is offered. Is he hoping to avoid a grinding endgame?

19.c4 b5 20.b4 cxb4 21.axb4 Rfb8 22.Qc2 Ra7 23.Red1 Qc8

In an otherwise blunder-free game, this move begins Gary's unraveling.

24...bxc4 25.Qxc4 d5 26.Qxc8+ Rxc8 27.g3 Rc6 28.b5 axb5 29.Bxb5 Rb6 30.Bd3 Rxb1 31.Bxb1 Ra1 32.Bc2 Rxd1+ 33.Bxd1 Bxd4 0-1

Gary: "Despite the opposite-color bishops, Will's pawns can't be stopped." Fritz bears this assessment out: 34.Kf1 Kf8 35.Ba4 Ke7 36.Bc6 f5 37.h3 h5 38.f3 g5 39.Bb5 Bb6 40.Ba4 Kf6 41.Kg2 e5 42.Bc6 Ke6 43.Bb7 e4 44.Bc6 Ke5 45.h4 (45.fxe4 fxe4 46.h4 gxh4 47.gxh4 d4 48.Kf1 d3 49.Be8) 45...gxh4 46.gxh4 d4 47.Be8 d3 48.fxe4 fxe4 49.Kf1 Bd8 and white resigns.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Celebration of Chess

The Route 20 Chess Club in Freeport, Ill., teamed up with the Freeport Public Library, City Coffee Co. and Freeport Golden K Kiwanis Club to put on a morning-till-night National Chess Day celebration that drew more than two dozen tournament participants, plus family and friends, from as far away as Princeton, Ill., and Cambridge, Wis.

While Gallery CafĂ© owner Sandi Schubert provided coffee, refreshments and lunch and artist Jennifer Marshall was on hand to paint young celebrants' faces, players faced off in a free four-round, G/30 community tournament comprising three sections: a USCF-rated sections for grades K–3, an unrated section for grades 4–8 and an unrated open section that included one high schooler and five adults. USCF member Finn Buck of Cambridge won first place in the primary section, followed by Sam Knaup of Belvidere and Finn's sister, Pria. The intermediate section was swept by Demetrio Velazco and brothers Bill and John Werkheiser, all of Pearl City. Matthew Coomber of Freeport won the open section; Roger Wedekind of Princeton took second place, and William Wedekind of Sterling and 11th-grader Zach Woll of Belvidere tied for third.

Thanks to a donation from Golden K, the Route 20 Chess Club was able to purchase an inventory of chess equipment for sale at the event. Tournament carry-all bags were the hottest item -- they were sold out before lunchtime.

Route 20 club member Gary Sargent of Rockford provided absolute-beginner chess instruction, and the library put on display more than two dozen chess books acquired for the occasion. After the tournament, library visitors were treated to a free showing of the movie
Searching for Bobby Fischer.

In the evening, we relocated to City Coffee Co. for an evening G/5 speed chess tournament. Seven players, including yours truly, competed in a single round-robin . . . which I swept. As the tournament director, I considered it unseemly of me to have earned the day's only cash prize of $20 -- besides which, I had defeated second-place finisher Gary on a technicality when, having failed to notice that his king and queen were misplaced, he played Kd1xd4 -- and so I offered him a two-minute honor match for the prize. He defeated me on time with just 9 seconds remaining on his own clock, in what would have been an exciting game even at a regular time control (thanks to photographer Jennifer Marshall for making it possible to reconstruct the moves!):

National Chess Day Speed Chess at City Coffee Co.
Freeport, Ill., Oct. 9, 2010

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 d5 4.e3 dxc4 5.Bxc4 Bb4 6.a3 Bxc3+ 7.bxc3 Nbd7 8.Nf3 0-0 9.0-0 Nd5 10.Bxd5 exd5 11.Bb2 Nf6 12.Rc1 b5 13.a4 Ba6 14.Re1 bxa4 15.Qxa4 Bc4 16.Qc8 Qb8 17.Ba3 Re8 18.Nd2 Ne4 19.Nxe4 dxe4? 20.d5? Bxd5? 21.Qxd5 Qd8 22.c4 Rb8 23.Rb1 Rb6 24.Red1 Rd6? 25.Qb5? Qc8? 26.Kf1? Rxd1+ 27.Rxd1 a6 28.Qc6 Rd8 29.Rxd8+ Qxd8 30.Ke2? Qd3+ 31.Ke1 Qb1+ 32.Kd2 Qd3+ 33.Kc1 Qf1+? time 0-1

Club member Ryan Ekvall of Freeport took third. (Click the Tournament Results tab above for crosstables of the day's events.)

The Route 20 Chess Club is just over one year old, and this is the largest event we've hosted to date. To capture the momentum, we're following it up in two weeks with our National Chess Day "Delayed Blast" rated beginners' open and open Swiss tournament, a concurrently run pair of USCF-sanctioned and rated events. Winners of trophies in the community tournament are entitled to free entry into the RBO section.

Pictures of the speed chess tournament are up on our Photos page; check back for more photos of the day's festivities.

Proposed Amendment to Bylaws

We are hereby providing notice of a proposed motion to amend the bylaws, to be voted on at our next regular meeting, Tuesday, Nov. 2. To be adopted, the motion to amend must pass by a vote of two-thirds of members present.

Motion to amend the following sections of the Route 20 Chess Club bylaws:

Article III. Membership
Section 2. (Amended) Dues. Dues are payment for society membership for a period lasting until the end of the April annual meeting of the following calendar year. Members may choose to enroll as Regular or Supporting members. For Regular members, the annual dues shall be $5 for an Individual, $3.50 for a Senior, $3 for a Student, and $6 for a Family, payable upon joining and to be renewed on or before the anniversary of membership the date of the annual meeting of the next calendar year. For Supporting members, the annual dues shall be $10 for an Individual, $7 for a Senior, $6 for a Student, and $12.50 for a Family, payable upon joining and to be renewed on or before the anniversary of membership the date of the annual meeting of the next calendar year. A member may choose to change his status from Regular to Supporting or vice versa by paying dues at the alternative level when the dues become due, the change becoming effective as of the anniversary of membership the start of the membership period. The Treasurer shall notify members who are two months in arrears, and those whose dues are not paid within one month thereafter shall be automatically dropped from membership in the society.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

National Chess Day Is THIS SATURDAY!

The Route 20 Chess Club and the Freeport Public Library, along with Freeport Golden K and City Coffee Co., will celebrate National Chess Day, Saturday, Oct. 9, with an all-day community event featuring an open tournament, a speed chess tournament and exhibition, free chess lessons for beginners, and a screening of the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer (rated PG).

The community celebration will be held at the library, 100 E. Douglas St., Freeport, Ill. (map). All activities will be free and open to the general public. Players may register for the tournament between 9 and 9:45 AM on the day of the event or sign up in advance at the library’s Youth Services desk (limit 48 players). The first round will begin at 10 AM. The tournament will be a four-round Swiss with a 30-minute time control and will be divided into three youth-only sections (grades K–3, 4–8 and 9–12) and one open section for all ages. The K–3 section will be rated by the USCF. Winners will receive trophies and free entry to the National Chess Day Delayed Blast Rated Beginners' Open on Oct. 23. Beginners’ lessons will be held in two sessions, starting at 10:15 AM and 12:45 PM, and the movie will start at 3 PM. The celebration will then move to City Coffee Co., 15 N. Chicago Ave., Freeport (map), for a six-round Swiss blitz tournament (bring clocks). Registration will be open until 7:15 PM, and the first round will begin at 7:30. The first-place winner will receive a $20 prize; runners-up will receive coupons for coffee drinks.

We look forward to your celebrating the game of chess with us this Saturday!