Kenilworth Kibitzer

A blog for members of the Kenilworth Chess Club.

Friday, December 31, 2010


Consultation Game Redux

For some thorough commentary on the recent Kenilworth Consultation Game (#6), see John's thorough analysis here. I figured there'd be no harm to add a few thoughts since, given where they're being written, there's no chance of anyone actually reading them.

For those that missed out, Yaacov Norowitz + ignorant rabble defeated Steve Stoyko & Mark Kernighan +ignorant rabble. Perhaps as expected given Yaacov's meteoric rise to best untitled player in the US (soon going for the world title). But the game itself was quite interesting, with chances for both sides, and the choices perhaps reflecting the tastes of the team leaders. Some key positions:

Here Black played Yaacov's 11....g6, which is a move Yaacov 'invented' even though he does not play the Sveshnikov sicilian. If you have this move in your database your database is better than mine (not unlikely). What to make of this? Black is preparing ...Bg7 and King's Indian style play after ...O-O with ...f5 etc. But it's not in theory so it must be bad!?

Compared to a normal Sveshnikov where the bishop goes to g5 to contest the key d5 square indirectly (knocking off a knight that goes a3-c2-e3), here Black seems to move his bishop to an inactive square and taking an extra tempo to do so. Yaacov's argument was that d5 is just one square and we could afford White that concession because our play was on the kingside. (I happen to disagree, but compare my rating with his and draw your own conclusions). However, ...g6 is generally played anyhow,so the real issue is does the bishop belong on g7 and if not, what can White do about it? Moves that are bad but are not refuted often become good. Yaacov likes this move because it preserves the bishop - and to Yaacov for whom bishops are a terrible weapon, "there is no such thing as a bad bishop".

White has two choices in this position if he is to make something of this positional 'blunder':
1. Take the bishop immediately. 12. Nxf6+ Qxf6 13. Qd2 O-O 14. O-O-O is a poor idea based on winning the d6 pawn, which Black may even choose to sacrifice if he's in the mood. The White king gets smashed quickly on the queenside (see the work of DA Carrelli on this).

2. Let the bishop die a slow quiet death. In the style of Stoyko. Use the extra tempo to attack Black's queenside. White chose the second method in our game, but also burned a lot of clock looking for the refutation. Part of Black's strategy. Playing book moves would only play into White's hands.

Another key point. White has played the slightly anemic 16. Ncb4 and Black replied with the odd ....Bb7?!. Odd especially because we were hoping White would play Ncb4 so we could trade off a pair of knights. But Yaacov didn't like 16. ... Nxb4 17. Nxb4 Bb7? 18. Bd5 when White has a bind. We all missed 17. ... a5! 18. Bd5 Bd7 when Black has no problems.

So now White had an opportunity to play the simple 17. Nxa6 when we intended to play ...f5 and start our activity. Yaacov thought the resulting position roughly balanced, but Fischer is Fischer but a pawn is a pawn. However, characteristically White took a long time for their reply ("Long think, wrong think?"), whereas in our camp the decision to sack the pawn took two minutes because Yaacov was coaching that certain moves must be played and ...f5 was certainly one of those moves. Instead White came up with 17. Qe2? which evaporates his pressure on the queenside.

Finally, the position on resumption:
Anonymous teammates had come prepared with the computer response to White's sealed 31. f4; I had a particularly busy work week so I didn't even examine this possible move, but Rybka's ...exf ep is really counterintuitive. For once Yaacov and I were in agreement that ...Qe6 was the right move to sustain pressure, the passed pawn being a constant threat. (Conversely, try to find without computer assistance the win in the rook endgame resulting from ...exf). In an understandably difficult situation White ultimately crumbled under time pressure.

Finally, unsolicited opinions in response to some of John's provocative thoughts about the format (for anyone who stumbles across this accidentally while looking up the history of Kenilworth, England, please feel free to chime in on the comments section or in person at the Kenilworth, NJ chess club - meets Thursdays at 8pm, please come in the back).

1. Stopped clock for the first 5 moves: I once had the pleasure of watching 14 minutes tick off my clock while my team debated the merits of every possible response to 1.e4. Even a few moves into this game we were debating O'Kelly vs Najdorf vs Sveshnikov vs etc etc. Once we settled on an opening things went smoothly - I like this approach.

2. Time trouble: time is as crucial to these games as in a real game. The teams I've been on are 2-1, the wins coming with good clock management the loss coming with terrible clock management. Coincidence? Maybe, probably not. It's easy to say because we had a blitz superman on our team, but our strategy was to play briskly, maybe missing best moves but trying to play thematic, strong moves. And you will notice this led to an inferior position at points....but only on the board and not in the critical fourth dimension (which is time, for those of you who slept through that part of school). What can be done? You either lengthen the time control (already fairly long), make it a correspondence match (ugh) or accept that time is a crucial factor that must be managed appropriately.

3. Lack of creativity in the openings: Possibly true. Though I think not as bad as was suggested. 3 sicilians in 6 games? Try hanging out at Westfield - you might bat over .600 on sicilians. However, if it's democratic we're going to get a lot of main line stuff - we'll go straight to the common denominator whatever it is. (For the record I voted for 1. ....c6). However, it is ironic that John took offense at robotically following main line theory for 12-15 moves when the 'novelty' was on move 11 ;) As it was, when ...c5 was played I was the one who took the cheerleading role for the Sveshnikov. Do I know the theory that well? No, I was going for something spicy. Incidentally, if White wanted to go out of book he should have tried 9. Bxf6 - I thought Don could cover us on theory there but I may have been mistaken! :0

I think the real pleasure of these games is to hear what the masters have to say - a little insight into their infinite minds. That said, is once a year enough? Make your opinion known!

Happy holidays!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Chess Duels and the Holiday Party

While working my way through Chess Duels by GM Yasser Seirawan, I finally reached a section devoted to his battles with whom he considers to be the world's best chess player, both past and present; Garry Kasparov. Seirawan referenced Kasparov's only loss on his way to first place in the 1983 Niksic tournament. Observing the post-mortem between Kasparov and Spassky, he recalled, was jaw-dropping. He compares Kasparov's ability to calculate 12 move variations effortlessly leaving Spassky almost speechless to a video of Bruce Lee (?!) playing ping pong with Nunchaku sticks. You can't believe what you are seeing. This is ability on a superhuman level. Perhaps by watching this clip, we can appreciate Kasparov's talent a bit more.

This reminds me of the KCC Holiday Party coming up December 23rd. Bring your paddle (or Nunchucks??) if you got 'em. Ping pong tournament is in the works! More on ping pong and chess!

Back to the book...Seirawan's story telling style makes it a very entertaining read. Just a nudge more than halfway through, I can already whole-heartily recommend this book. For every giant at the chessboard he played, he includes a snippet into their life. You will appreciate the world champions from a different perspective. Thumbs up!

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Friday, December 10, 2010


Kenilworth Chess Club Consultation Game

The Kenilworth Chess Club held its second consultation game of the year. We tried something new with the time controls this year. First 5 moves, no time control! Then the next 25 moves in 60 minutes with 5 second delay. White sealed their 31st move going into next week's time control. Things became exciting once we got into Sveshnikov territory. Showing theory no respect, pawn offerings, backwards pawns, isolated pawns, the bishop pair...this game was riddled with imbalances.

The first 30 moves

The game will finish up next week. It isn't too late to join us at the KCC to see first hand how this battle ends.

Below, Yaacov discusses with the Black team how in certain positions, particular moves just "need" to be played. The position calls for it! Thanks to Dan K for the pic.

Instead of working with SM Yaacov Norowitz, get the chance to play against him! He will be giving a simul at the Marshall Chess Club Wednesday December 15th. Come one, come all.


Saturday, December 4, 2010


A Bust to the Caro-Kann: The modern 7....Nf6

I've grown weary of busting the Caro-Kann over and over again, so just one last look - this time into a more recent line after:
1. e4 c6
2. d4 d5
3. Nc3 PxP
4. NxP Bf5
5. Ng3 Bg6
6. h4 h6
7. Nf3 Nf6!?

This move order had not been well regarded for some time - it seemed that immediately conceding the e5 square to White's knight with tempo was too much of an indulgence. However, on further analysis it was realized that having the knight on e5 weakens White's grip on that e5 and d4 (as Gallagher wryly points out 'that's right, a knight on e5 doesn't control the square e5') , rather it offered Black a target to counterattack. Also, if White does not recognize the independent positional nuances of the position then Black gets a much improved version of his favorite opening. For example, White can try to ignore Black's creative effort and go back to the main line:
8. h5 Bh7
9. Bd3 BxB
10. QxB e6
11. Bf4 Bd6!

That's right, Black is happy to trade off his 'good' bishop because, after the exchange the position is already essentially equal. White's space advantage is almost meaningless because there are too few pieces on the board. Note this is not possible in the main line because a knight on d7 would be screening the queen from defending d6.

Or after:
11. Bd2 c5! White gets a taste of Black's main idea - c6-c5 not only can't be stopped, it is also strong!
12. O-O-O Nc6 and here Black has the unusual and important achievement of planting his knight on c6. Black has scored well from these positions.

After getting taken to the woodshed a few times in this way, two consensus main lines have appeared for White that try to take advantage of Black's creativity:

7. Nf3 Nf6!?
8. Ne5 Bh7
9. Bd3!? BxB (there are nasty tactical refutations to 9. .... Qxd4?? Try it blindfold)
10. Qxd3 e6

In comparing this position to the main line, the h-pawn is on h4 rather than h5 and the knight is on e5 rather than f3. White's task is to make the latter point important.

11. Bd2 Nbd7 (challenges the e5 knight, 12. NxN gives White nothing)
12. f4 Be7
13. O-O-O O-O
14. Qf3 Qc7

With sharp attacking play possible - White can, as in the main lines, aim for a g2-g4 push while Black will press with c6-c5 and use the semi-open c-file to attack the White king. White has generally scored well from this position, however.

White has another line at his disposal in which he aims to keep all his pieces on the board:
7. Nf3 Nf6!?
8. Ne5 Bh7
9. Bc4 e6 (In your mind's eye envision the consequences of 9. ... Nd7)
10. Qe2

Play in some way resembles certain lines of the Scandinavian defense. White aims for early pressure on the light squares, with ideas of a sacrifice on e6 or f7. However, Black does best with:

10. ... Nd5
11. Bb3 Nd7
12. Bd2 Nxe5
13. dxe5
where again White aims for an attack on the Black kingside, an attack that is strengthened by the presence of the light-squared bishop, but this bishop is a target for an attack by ....a7-a5-4, and White must weaken his queenside to stop this attack leading to sharp play. An attacking game along these lines is DeFirmian-Brunner 1995.

Conclusion: 7. ... Nf6 leads to interesting play that is independent from the main line. However, White seems to be doing well if he pays attention to Black's plan of ....c6-c5/Nc6.

There, that wasn't so hard, was it? You have all you need to know to bust the 'Kann, unless Black plays 4. ... Nd7 or 4. ... Nf6. In that case offer a draw, and if refused then quietly resign. In all seriousness it seems like a lot of theory but really all the moves can be distilled to positional objectives that are common across all the lines. The moves should flow gently like water....

Friday, December 3, 2010


Karpovs Retool Rahway

With the top boards failing to produce a win and with Board 3 won by the Karpovs, everything rode on Joe "The Closer" Demetrick against Joe "Clutch Time" Renna. Feeling...confident, Joe D *ahem* sacrificed a piece and let his clock drift down to one second. 1st place in the league was hanging....

With his now standard last second heroics, Joe D put us over the top 3-1. More here.


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