Thursday, 29 September 2011

Member Games - Garry Hewitt

Garry Hewitt is a very good player. Graded at 132 he has to be below his actual playing strength. Play through the game below. Note how Garry takes on a good knight v Bad bishop, doubles his rooks on the only open file before exchanging these advantages for a win of a pawn. Thereafter his rooks dominate and the outside passed pawn proves decisive. Finally there is an instructive finish, which we will examine below the game.

The notes to the game are provided by Garry.

After 54...Rxa7 55.Rh7+ White skewers the rook through the Black king.  This is vital endgame technique and needs to be remembered.

Lets take a look at the simplest form of this ending.

 This position is a book draw, as long as Black keeps his king on one of his 7 safe squares, shown below.

Black can shuffle his king between h7 and g7 and if White tries to advance his king to help the pawn then the Black rook can check from behind to frustrate White's winning chances. The point is that White no longer has his skewer trick, or a tempo gaining check.  So the draw is easy to defend for example:
1.Kf3 Kh7, 2.Ke4 Kg7 3.Kd5 Kh7, 4.Kc6 Kg7, 5.Kb7 Rb1+

Once White moves his king Black can either throw in a few more checks or return his rook to the a-file, there is no way for White to make progress.

From the pure form of these endings we have to try and calculate the difference we may see in an actual game.

here White plays 52.a6 and I would argue that after 52...Kg7 53.a7 we have the book draw.  However, White can increase his winning chances by delaying a7, then his plan should be

  • walk his king to Ka7
  • use the rook to cover the b-file to block checks
  • Move the king to b7
  • Advance the a-pawn
This plan is discussed by Karsten Muller and Frank Lamprecht in their Fundamental chess endings.  Frustratingly they provide an advanced drawing technique for Black in the purest form of the position from a composition by J.Vancura in 1924

Black then has checks from the side to save him, but there are some tough-to-find moves in this defence.  Perhaps another time...

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Junior Club: Recording the moves

Recording the moves is a big step up from casual player to competitive player.  This week some of the kids learnt how to record the moves.

The squares on a chess board each have a unique coordinate.  The columns start with a and go to h which we also call files and the rows from 1 to 8 also called ranks.  See below board.

This allows us to talk about squares on the chess board quite easily.  If you have ever player battle ships you will easily get the idea.  First call the file and then the rank.  So the square at the bottom left is called a1.

For chess notation we abbreviate each of the chess pieces as follows:-
King         K
Queen      Q
Rook        R
Bishop      B
Knight      N
Pawn        Space when moving and the file it was on when capturing.

There are also some special notations we need to know
Castle king's     0-0
Castle queen's  0-0-0
Capture            X
Check              +
Mate                #

When we make a move we name the piece (The abbreviation from the list above) and the square it is moving to.

If two pieces can move to the same square usually knights or rooks we name the piece the rank or file it was on and the square it is moving to.
 If for example we want to move the knight on b7 to d6 we would write down 1.N7d6

Here is an example game.
1.e4 the king's pawn moves forward two squares, c5 Black's queen's bishop pawn moves forward 2.
2.Nf3 d6
 3.d4 cxd4 Black captures the White pawn on d4 with his pawn that was on the c-file.
4.Nxd4 Nc6
5.Bb5 Bd7, 6.0-0 White castles king-side 6...e6
7.Be3 Qf6, 8.Nc3 0-0-0 Black castles queen-side, 9.Qd2 Nge7 Black's other knight could also have moved to e7 so it is important to note which knight was moving.

Recording the moves is easy, but takes a little practice to get used to.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Darlington new chess column

Darlington chess club have managed to secure some space in our local paper.  A number of local players intend to publish various articles each week bringing chess to the masses of Darlington.  Below is an example article from a North East chess great Norman Stephenson.

 Chess is a fun game to play and it requires the minimum of equipment … you can buy a decent
board and set for not much more than a tenner and annual fees for local clubs aren’t much more.

Playing skills and knowledge are acquirable from the usual sources - books/CDs/DVDs/internet
(as well as talking to other players) - and, like many other pastimes, the game can be enjoyed at
any level. For those who might wonder about getting to be a really strong player, the good news
is that chess talent is scattered pretty randomly throughout the population; the best ever British
player (who reached World No 4 ten years ago) came from out-of-the-way Truro, while the 2nd strongest ever (who was World No 3 twenty years ago and played for the World Title in 1993) was brought up in Atherton, Lancs. In neither case is there any evidence of any chess-playing strength
in their families.

Perhaps the first really great player in the world by modern standards was Paul Morphy, born in
New Orleans, who learned the game as a 4 year-old just by watching his father and uncle playing.
Paul lived in the mid-1800s and toured the US and Europe, beating all the best players of the age
and laying down the standard for how to play the game.

White to play and give checkmate on his second
move … this is the only chess problem that Paul
Morphy was known to have composed. It was
published in The New York Clipper in June 1856.

White begins 1 Rh6 when either 1 – gxh6 2 g7
or 1 – B anywhere 2 Rxh7 are both checkmate
Morphy was indeed a genius, and I couldn't resist using this opportunity to share his famous opera box game.