Archive for July, 2015

Last Sunday was the RJ Shield weekend so this time I went to the Tucker Road event rather than Mt.Waverley to watch some of my students play.  It turned out to be a really exciting event!

With one round remaining Daniel Poberovsky and Atlas Ballieu had 5 points, and had to play each other, as did Daniel Roisman who was paired against Oliver.  I gave Oliver no chance as Daniel R is a very solid player but when I glanced over at the game something strange had happened.  Daniel’s King on g1 was looking very lonely and exposed with the “g” pawn gone and Oliver having a menacing Bishop on h3.  Oliver was trying to get his Queen into the kingside action so that he could deliver checkmate on g2 and it wasn’t clear that Daniel had a satisfactory defence.  I stared at the position for a few seconds and realised that Oliver had a winning move, but it was the sort of move that a junior wouldn’t look at I thought to myself.  To my surprise Oliver quickly made the winning move and Daniel was forced to play Qf4 – the only defence.  All Oliver now had to do was play Rf8 hitting the Queen on f4 and it was all over.  His eyes lit up ….. his hand reached out … and grabbed his Queen for Qg6+.  “Oh dear” I thought to myself as Daniel replied Qg3 and Oliver eagerly swapped Queens.  You see dear reader, Oliver has a problem.  He loves checking and he loves taking.  Give him a chance to swap pieces and he will always take it ….. good or bad.  Personally I blame the parents.  They should have explained to little Oliver years ago that you only swap pieces if you gain from the trade.   Oliver may well be the most experienced player of his age in Australia (maybe the world) but he won’t become a good player if he keeps checking and swapping.

Of course free of the mating threat Daniel proceeded to wipe out Oliver’s pieces and last thing I saw Daniel’s two rooks and four pawns were chasing Oliver’s lone King around the board.   A few moments later the game was over but little Oliver was not in tears … he had the hint of a smile on his face.  Yes, he had swindled a stalemate!   The tournament would now be decided by what happened on board one.

I had been recording the game on my pad as Atlas.  You’d think that on the top board the players would be able to get through the game without any big blunders … but think again!  Daniel started off by losing a pawn and both players missed a chance for Daniel to win a piece.  Atlas made a few threatening moves and soon found himself a Knight ahead in the endgame.  Daniel started moving faster and Atlas followed suit although he had three minutes left.  After a few more exchanges Atlas has a Knight and three pawns on the kingside opposed by only two pawns and Black’s King.   Atlas’ own King had wandered over to the Queenside to capture a pawn.  Easy win for Atlas you’d think.  Suddenly Atlas started matching Daniel’s fast moves and he had decided on his plan.  His King was going to go from a5 to capture a pawn on f7 (no matter what!).  What was Daniel’s King doing in the meantime?  It took a pawn on f2 ….then a pawn on g2…. then the knight on f3.  Atlas eventually achieved his goal but by then both players had only one pawn left each and it was a draw.  Why didn’t Atlas move his knight and win the game and the tournament …. we may never know.

So in the finish we had a triple tie for first between Atlas and the two Daniels on 5.5 points with Daniel R being declared the champion on count-back.  Who said chess wasn’t exciting!

Perhaps you would like to share in this excitement?  Here is a position from the game Poberovsky v Lim.  White has decided that he has an attack and instead of capturing a free N on a1 (leaving him the exchange down) he was pursuing an attack against Black’s King.   Was he right?  I would just take the N with a good position.  What would you do?   White to play.

 

Archive for July, 2015

I’m writing this blog from our chess camp on the shores of Lake Hume, near Wodonga in Northern Victoria.  Chess Kids are running a four day camp based on the theme of “attacking” and we have around 30 kids plus coaches and parents attending.

 

Camp kids at play....

Camp kids at play….

I must say the facilities are very nice and modern although if you want to take a stroll down to the lake it’s virtually a day trek as the water level is so low.  If you make the effort though you get to see the local pelican up close … a reminder of my favourite chess opening named after the Argentinian Master Pelikan.

 

The kids have been divided up into groups of six or seven and each coach has to given five lessons on “attacking.”  My approach has been to note the similarities between chess and war and to talk about some famous battles of Napoleon and Alexander the Great and how the tactics used there can be applied in chess.  Their knowledge of history isn’t great but I think the kids liked the analogies.  I then move on to show a terrible game played the other day in round one of the Zonal between Ilic and Anton Smirnov.  White launches an irrational attack including g4 and h4 even though he has only one piece in play and Anton crushes him mercilessly.  If you are going to understand attacking I figure that you need to know a bad attack when you see one.

 

I then give them some pages with 12 middle-game diagrams for to look at.  Each player has to chose one diagram where he thinks that one of the players has a good attacking position and we then look at those positions.   Sometimes I ask the kids to set up the position and play a few moves themselves to help them decide if there is a good attack.  We then go through the position on the demonstration board and look at the attacking possibilities.  I know some of the other coaches have been doing tactics puzzles so I think my attempt to give the kids an overview of what you need before you can launch a successful attack will help them understand the subject.

 

My first lesson with the top group (as usual with young boys) saw bodies strewn around the room in unusual positions with some of the participants rotating between hyper-activity and falling asleep.  It’s not easy being a chess coach.  My second lesson with some younger kids was more fun and the kids behaved much better.  There are not many rewards for a chess coach but when the lesson was over and the kids were leaving the room I heard one of them remark “that was fun” to which his mate replied “yes, it was.”  That made my day.

 

For today’s puzzle perhaps you would like to match wits with Anton in has battle against Ilic?

Here is the position after White’s 16th move.  He has a horrible position but he has defended the weak point on e3 so what is Anton (Black) now to do to make his attack a success?  His next move is the key move of the game but not many kids at the camp found it.   Perhaps you can do better?  What was Black’s winning idea initiated by his 16th move?

 

Archive for July, 2015

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