Sunday, 26 June 2011

Darlington Community carnival - Chess tent

On 25th June Darlington held its annual community carnival.  The carnival centres around Stanhope park just outside the town centre.  The centre piece of the whole day is a themed parade that starts and ends at the park.  Many local schools supported the parade, which was bright, colourful and noisy.

The park was full of different stalls and activities.  There were slides


face painting

and a giant chess set

The event was very well attended and there was a real buzz in the park.

Darlington chess club decided to take one of the pitches.
We were able to loan a giant chess set

We also loaned a gazebo.  Add a couple of tables, chess sets and willing volunteers and we had a very good pitch.

Anybody who wanted to play got a game.

There was steady stream of willing participants, most seemed to enjoy their games. We had printed some flyers with the club's details and handed them to anyone showing any interest.
There seemed to be two main groups that wanted to play:

  • Kids - We play with our Dad at home, but we haven't anywhere else to play
  • Adults - I used to play ages ago, but haven't played for years

All were invited to the club and there seemed genuine interest.

The day was really good fun.  It was interesting to see how many people expressed a genuine interest in chess.

Thanks go to
The willing volunteers:
Alec Cinamon
Rod Gilpin
Dave Harris
Jonathan Sams
Bob Donner
AJ Thorne-Wallis (And Sandy AJ's Mum)
John Williams

Special thanks to
Aidan and James Garner for helping to set up, pack away and helping all day

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Junior Club: Passed pawns - using the king - Part 3

In using the king part 1(Click here) we discussed the opposition and rolling the enemy king out of the way to allow the pawn to march through.

In using the king part 2 (Click here) we saw how the defending side could draw.   We looked at the position that our king needs to be to guarantee a win, calling these squares key squares.

This week we will look a little more at those key squares, then we will look at rook and knight pawns.  The rook pawn is the pawn that sits in front of the rook in the starting position, that is a pawn on the a or h file.  Likewise a knight pawn starts the game in front of a knight the b or g file.

In the following position it is White to move.  Remember we claimed that a king on a key square wins regardless who has the move

You may notice that Black has the opposition, so White can not roll the Black king, as say 1.Ke5 Ke7 allows black to keep the opposition.  What White needs to do is to gain the opposition.  The correct way to do this is to move the pawn and not the king, which is the reason we needed the king two squares in front of the pawn.
1.d4! Kc7, 2.Ke6
It doesn't matter where Black moves White wins
A  2...Kd8, 3.Kd6 Kc8, 4.Ke7 Kc7, 5.d5 and the pawn promotes
B   2...Kc6, 3.d5+ Kc7, 4.Ke7 (4.d6 also wins, but note how the king covers the queening square, this is good technique) and the pawn promotes
C   2...Kc8, 3,Ke7 Kc7, 4.d5 and the pawn promotes
D   Any king move to the b-file allows 3.d5 and 4.Ke7 and the pawn promotes

Here is another example.  White to move.  What would you play?

Of course the aim of these endings is to get the pawn to promote to a queen, but always remember to use the king!
The careless 1.d4?? allows 1...Kd7! when White can not get his king to a key square.

Play may continue 2.Kc5 Kc7!, 3.d5 Kd7, 4.d6 or any king move by White which allows black Kd5 and we have set up last weeks drawing position.
Remember Black moves his king straight back so he can gain the opposition next move.  So lets return to the original position.
Correct is 1.Kc6 using the king and we would have a very similar position to the first example.

Get a board, place the two kings on random squares and add a pawn also at random.  Try and work out if the enemy king is outside the pawn's square.  If not use your king.  Can the attacker get to one of the key squares?  Practice this technique until its sealed in.

So far I have used examples where the pawn is in the centre of the board.  That is because life is easier for those pawns.  The rooks pawn is much more difficult.

So what's the problem?  Well take a look White can not roll the Black king!!    Black can just play Kb8 and Ka8 and force a draw.

To win with a rook pawn White needs to be able to get his king to either b8 or b7, simple as that.

Now for the tricky knight pawn.  Its Black to move 1...Kh8,  What do we play?

Did you want to play 2.Kf7?  White can still win from this position, but there is a stalemate trap lurking so be very careful, simpler is Kh6 which we will return to after looking at the trap.
2...Kh7, 3.g5 Kh8
If White tries 4.g6?? then Black is stalemated and the game drawn.  White must try Kg6 from the diagram, but the winning technique from here is a little difficult, perhaps another time...
That is why from the original diagram after 1...Kh8 we play 2.Kh6 with the idea of marching the pawn onwards!

2..Kg8, 3.g5 Kh8, 4.g6 Kg8, 5.g7 and Black can no longer hide in the corner
Black's king must play 5..Kf7 allowing White to control the promotion square with 6.Kh7.  This technique is known as the squeeze and can be used for any pawn.

You now have all the tools to win a pawn and king v king ending.  Remember the best thing to do is practise.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Passed pawns-using the king part 2

We have seen how the side with a king and pawn can win, see Passed pawns-using the king-Part1 for a reminder.  We talked about how important it was to use the king and looked at the king's judo skills rolling the other king.  Life isn't always that easy, there are many positions where the side with the pawn can't win.

This week we will take a look at the drawing technique and then introduce key squares.  Look at the following position.

This position is a draw it doesn't matter who is to move.  If the defender can get his king in front of the pawn like this its a draw, but be careful.  Let's say its Black to move
1...Kd7 It is important to move straight back, so when White advances his king Black can take the opposition.
2.Ke5 White can not take the opposition because his own pawn is in the way!
2... Ke7 Black now has the opposition

As we can see black has the opposition, so White is faced with a tough choice, move his king or advance his pawn.  Moving the king is pointless, as Black will be able to play Kd6 and we will have returned to the original position.
3. d6+ Kd7, 4.Kd5 otherwise Black would capture the pawn.

As you may have noticed, we have a similar position to the starting position, just one square forward.
4... Kd8 Always remember to move straight back.
5. Ke6 Ke8

Once again Black has the opposition
6.d7 Kd8, 7.Kd6 Stalemate and a draw.

When defending try to get your king in front of the pawn.

When you have the pawn try to advance your king before the pawn.  If your king can get to a key square then you will be able to force a win.  For pawns on the 2nd, 3rd or 4th rank the key squares are two squares forward of the pawn and the square on either side of that.  Diagrams always help.

For the b pawn on the second rank the key squares are a4,b4 and c4.  The g pawn on the third rank the key squares are f5, g5 and h5.  The d pawn on the fourth rank has key squares c6,d6 and e6.  If you can get your king onto one of these squares you can force a win.
When pawns are on the 5th rank the key squares are only one square in front of the pawn.  This is because we are running out of board!
Once again if you can get your king onto one of these squares you will be able to win.

If you advance your pawn to the 6th rank before your king and the black king can defend the queening square it is very difficult to win.  So remember use your king.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Junior Club - Durham competition

On Saturday the 21st of May the Durham County Junior Chess Championships were held.  Four members of the Darlington junior club played.  All 4 qualified for the under 9 section.  The under 9 and under 11 competitions were joined together as numbers were a little lower than expected.

AJ won all of his games, AJ was awarded the under 9 Trophy even though he could have claimed the under 11 as well.  Second in the under 9 section was Aidan!  The other two members Harry and Dylan both won a game or two and enjoyed the experience.

After the prize ceremony the Darlington squad posed for a photo.

Dylan, Harry, Aidan and AJ
All the winners of the various categories, unfortunately I don't know all the names.

The kids enjoyed the afternoon.  The standard wasn't too high in the under 11 section, so none of kids were out of their depth.  All in it was a very good introduction to tournament play.