Archive for November, 2011

Have you ever considered what part memory plays in chess skill.   The public certainly think that chess players must have a good memory to “remember all those moves” however this is not necessarily the case.   Perhaps chess players just have a good memory for chess positions.

I did an interesting memory test last Sunday when I was giving a lesson the Bobby Cheng and Laurence Matheson.   I showed them a chess position, with all 32 pieces on the board, and gave them 10 seconds to try to memorise as many pieces as possible in their correct positions.   The results were terrible!    Bobby got 4 or 5 pieces correct and Laurence got hardly any.   How is this possible you ask?   The position was not a “proper” chess position but one where the pieces were placed randomly – hence they had no patterns to recognise.   By contrast I gave them 2 seconds to memorise another position with all 32 pieces on the board and they got it 100% correct.   The position was the starting position of the Sicilian defence which every chess player would instantly recognise.   It just proves that pattern recognition is a big part of chess skill.

Pattern recognition also comes in handy when trying to solve chess puzzles “if you’ve seen one knight fork you have seen them all.”   Today however I have a position for you that is probably not in your mental “database.”   It’s from the game Karjakin v Svidler at the recent Tal memorial tournament in Moscow.   Black is two pieces ahead but his king is in danger either of checkmate or perpetual check.   The puzzle is to find White’s best move and Black’s best reply, then tell me the result.

[fen caption=”White to play – what result?”]r2q1r2/1p1n1p2/p2p4/2bbpP1k/8/2P3Q1/PPB2PPP/R4RK1 w – – 6 22[/fen]

Archive for November, 2011

Archive for November, 2011

We have an exciting couple of weeks coming up with the RJ Shield and the National Interschool Open being held near Kyneton from 27 Nov – 29 Nov.   Playing at a country resort instead of Monash University will be a bit of a change, but New Zealand are sending over four strong teams to challenge Australia’s best teams so it should be a great competition.

Meanwhile, over in Brazil the World Youth Championships start today.  The Australian team includes Victorians Justin Tan (in the U14) and Karl Zelesco (in the U/12) whose results I will follow with great interest.   Karl in particular is very good for his age and must have a chance for a high placing.   I watched his games at the State Finals recently and he played like a master for most of the time.

To compete successfully at that level you have to have a keen eye for tactics.  The basic advice that I give students is to “examine all checks and captures” but at a higher level that is not enough.  Some combinations are based on themes such as “overloaded piece” which do not involve either check or captures and so are much harder to spot.   Let’s see how you cope with this harder sort of problem in today’s puzzle.

[fen caption=”White to play”]2k5/2p5/1p1rn1p1/5p2/q2b4/6P1/P2RQPB1/3R2K1 w – – 0 1[/fen]

Archive for November, 2011

By popular demand we’re bringing back our Chess Kids Holiday Program this summer! Plenty of places remaining 23/24/25 January – but the first week is now booked out.

Download Holiday Program info (PDF)

Archive for November, 2011

Archive for November, 2011

World Champion Mikhail Botvinnik thought that lightning (5 minute) chess ruined your normal chess so he advised his students against playing this fast form of the game.   I love lightning chess, but I find myself fighting a losing battle trying to persuade the players at Chess Kids On-Line that 2 minute chess is a waste of time.   “It’s a test of who can blunder fastest” is my usual comment.

Indeed chess is a strange game in that a player can have many fine wins in a tournament, yet one bad loss will be so painful as to erase the joy of many wins.  I remember stories of one Melbourne player whose initials are DH who allegedly, after a big blunder, would walk outside the Melbourne Chess Club and keep hitting his head against a lamppost!

No doubt this is how Denmark’s top player, GM Sune Hansen, must have felt after his game against world #3 GM Lev Aronian in the European Team Championship.   Hansen was White in the position in the diagram below and he has a crushing attack, but is in time trouble.   He must chose between 1.Rxg7 or 1.Rg6 or 1.fxe8=Q or 1.Ng5 or 1.Kh2.   All of these moves win except one.   Your task is to find the one losing move played by Hansen and his opponent’s reply.

[fen caption=”White to play and blunder”]4nr1k/5Pr1/b1p2p1p/p3pP1Q/P3N2P/2P1q3/2B2R2/6RK w – – 0 1[/fen]

Archive for November, 2011

Archive for November, 2011

We have just finished the first week of November which, in Melbourne, means only one thing.   Yes!   It’s a public holiday long week-end so that we can all enjoy the Melbourne Cup …. of Chess!    This annual event, played at the Melbourne Chess Club attracted a very strong field including some of Australia’s better juniors plus IMs Solomon and Rujevic representing us oldies.

Unfortunately I could only follow the event from afar as I was in Mildura (playing tennis against some other oldies).   My iPad refused to get on the internet (must be too far away) but my iPhone fortunately kept me in touch with many of the better games being available on Tornelo.

The top seed, George Xie, played like a budding GM to score 8.5/9 and edge closer to that elusive 2500 rating which will secure him the the grandmaster title.   In second place was Bobby Cheng who scored 7.5/9 (including a half-point bye) who played like a budding IM for most of the time.   He drew with George and faced a tough game against Max Illingworth who had Bobby tied up for most of the game.   Bobby (as Black) managed to swap off into an endgame and to create chances with the following position arising after Black’s 55th move Nc7.   Now Black’s N is trapped on c7 to stop the White “a” pawn whilst White’s B is trapped on g1 to stop Black’s “h” and “c” pawns.   Perhaps it’s a draw?   Perhaps one side can get a pawn home?   I’m not sure so I need your help.  White to play.   What is the result and what do you think were the next couple of moves?   That is today’s puzzle.

[fen caption=”White to play …what result?”]8/1Kn5/P1pk4/5p2/5P2/7p/8/6B1 w – – 5 56[/fen]

Archive for November, 2011