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April 10, 2016

Sunday Afternoon Chess Thread 04-10-2016 [OregonMuse]


seventh seal.jpg
"No Need For That Pawn-In-Hand Ritual, I Always Play Black"


Good afternoon morons and moronettes, and welcome to the Sunday Afternoon Chess Thread, the only AoSHQ thread devoted to chess, written specifically for all of us noobs, fish, patzers, and wood-pushers who pay homage in the temple of Caïssa, goddess of passed pawns and open files. Also good for discussion in the comments are other games you can play with boards, cards, pieces and no electricity. Even the newfangledyassed board games like Carcassonne or Settlers of Catan. And poker. Poker's good, too. I suspect there's a lot of Moron poker players here.

I like to play chess with bald men in the park, although it's hard to find 32 of them.
Emo Phillips


Serious Chess

The chess thread pic is a still from the movie with probably the most famous chess game in cinematic history, the one in Ingmar Bergman's 1957 film, Det sjunde inseglet (The Seventh Seal). Antonius Block, a Swedish knight, is returning home with his squire after a Crusade only to find his homeland devastated by the Black Plague. Block meets Death who tells him his time is up. Block responds by challenging him to a game of chess with his soul riding on the outcome: if Block wins, he goes free. But if he loses, it's off to the boneyard.

And here are some other serious chess players from medieval times:

"The Arab historian al-Masudi (896-956), writing in his travel diary in 950 A.D., described how they played and betted on chess in India. Players would wager their fingers on a game of chess. If a player lost, he would cut off a finger with his dagger, then plunge his hand in boiling water with special ointment to cauterize the wound. Then he returns to the game. Another loss would mean another loss of another finger. Sometimes a player who continued to lose would cut off all his fingers, his hand, his fore-arm, his elbow, and other parts of his body. After each amputation, he could cauterize the wound and return to another game of chess. (Murray, page 37)"


Bad Behavior From Grandmasters

But even when chess players are not throwing heavy chess pieces at each other, hitting each other with the board, knifing each other, punching each other out, or gambling their immortal souls with spectral beings of unearthly origins, they, as a group, skew the social maladroitness curve way to one side, so you get incidents like the following, which I grabbed from the March issue of Chess Life. This one involves the American Grandmaster Walter Browne:

I feel sorrowful on the passing of Walter Browne and have a story to share about him.
Around 30 years ago or so, he appeared at the Westfield (New Jersey) Chess Club for an exhibition of about 24 players. I had a seat.
Next to me was a child, maybe 10 years of age. The exhibition began, Browne moving about the inner area. My game had not reached the moment of crushing just yet. Browne made his move and went to the child.
Upon making his move the child called out, “You can’t do that—you’re in check.” Browne re-examined the board, then with one majestic sweep of his hand sent the kid’s pieces flying and moved on the the next board. The child turned to me and said, “Did you see that!?”
I told him, “You’ll remember this all your life—you’ve just beaten Walter Browne!”

How pathetic.

And the kid probably grew up telling the story like this: "Walter Browne? Yeah, I remember him. I actually beat him once in a simul, years ago. True story. Guy was a real jerk."


More Grandmaster Follies

And not only can Grandmasters be screw-ups in real life, but sometimes on the board, too. Check out this position:


20160410 - Reshevsky - Savon 1973.jpg
FEN:[6R1/4bQ2/pn4pk/1pqP3p/6P1/5B2/5PKP/1b6 w - - 0 40]

This is from Reshevsky - Savon, Petropolis 1973, after Black's 39th move. And as you can see, he is pretty much on the ropes. So, how does White win? According to what I've read about this game, there are "quite a few" ways White can finish him off. I found 2, and I know there's more. So, how many wins can you find for White in this position? They can either be forced wins, or wins by acquisition of overwhelming material.

And, of all the available ways for White to win, which one did Reshevsky use? Well, as a matter of fact, none of them. No, Reshevsky had a brain fart and played 40. Qxg6+??, which he thought was checkmate. Apparently, he didn't notice the bishop down there on b1, grinning malevolently. And so after 40...Bxg6, he resigned. What a horrible blunder! This is one of those bloody awful facepalm mistakes you stay up all night thinking about. It's like a few days ago in the first round of the Masters when Ernie Els seven-putted from a yard away on the first green.

Samuel Reshevsky, for those of you who may be unfamiliar with him, was one of the all-time great American players, child prodigy, international grandmaster, 8-time U.S. Champion, and it took Bobby Fischer a long time to replace him as the alpha dog of American chess. So it's oddly comforting to see that a player of his caliber can make the same kind of boneheaded mistakes that I do.

So you can swipe the empty space below to see the solutions I've found, and add your own:

Solution 1: 40. g5+! Kxg5 41.h4+! Kxh4 42. Qf4#.
Solution 2: 40.Rh8+ Kg5 41.h4+ Kxh4 42.Rxh5+ gxh5 43.Qxh5#

However, there are other winning moves, such as:
40.Rh8+
40. gxh5
40. Qf4+
40. Qg7+
etc.


Riddle Me This

Q: Two chess players have completed five games, each has the same number of wins, and there were no draws. How do you explain this?

(click and drag your mouse across the space below for the answer)

A: They weren't playing each other.

White Mates In 3 - And A Bit Of A Primer


20160410 - White mates in 3.jpg
FEN: [r6k/ppp4r/3pqNP1/6Q1/3P4/8/PPP3P1/2K5 w - - 0 1]


Someone asked last time whether "mates in 2" means 2 moves total or 2 White moves. The answer is, 2 White moves, i.e. White will have to make 2 moves to solve the problem. When the problem is "White mates in 2", the solution is going to look like this:

1. White moves; Black responds
2. White moves and checkmates.

Similarly, here is the template for a "White to mate in 3" problem:

1. White moves; Black responds
2. White moves; Black responds
3. White moves and checkmates.

So White delivers the checkmate on the 3rd move.

When I look at these "White mates in x" problems, I immediately think: now what can Black do to mess things up for White? All I have to do is find a Black move that either forces a draw, or delays the mate past 'x' moves, and I've "won", meaning, the proposed solution doesn't work and will have to be discarded. So take a look at this problem and pretend it's Black's turn to move. What would you do?

The White king is a bit exposed. In fact, all Black has to do is walk his Queen down to e1, and that would be checkmate. Which is what he would do, if it were his move. But it's not, and that's the only reason why this is not a lost game for White. And knowing this tells you something about the solution. That is, whatever moves you make absolutely have to be checks. If not, if you're just trying to set yourself up for a kill shot on the 3rd move, that will give Black time enough to get in his decisive counterpunch, Qe1#.

Swipe empty space for the solution: 1. g7+ Rxg7 2. Qh6+ Rh7 3. Qxh7#


Geriatric Chess

You would think that a college town would have plenty of chess activity, and maybe some do, but not the one I live in. There used to be a chess club at the university, but it withered away a couple of years ago, and there's no other organized club, other than some scholastic activity, which I obviously am not eligible for. But a few weeks ago I discovered some old guys who play chess at a senior center every Wednesday, so I've been going there. They're mostly better than me, but I've managed to win 35-40% of my games, so I'm not a total fish. They scheduled a little tournament for yesterday, and it was the first one I had played in in over 20 years.

We played for 3 rounds, I won 1 and lost 2, which is about what I expected. All 3 games were interesting and fun and I didn't make all that many stupid moves, for which I am thankful.

For the last game, I was paired with a guy with an Expert rating, which puts him 500-700 points above me. I expected him to easily wipe up the floor with me, but either he played poorly or I played well, because I actually made him sweat a little. That is, until the end when my game fell apart because I did something stupid in time pressure.

Which was a new experience for me. I have never, ever had trouble with time pressure in a tournament until this one. The time control was G/60 (which means each player has 60 minutes to finish the game, so no game will last more than 2 hours total), and I thought that would be plenty of time, but in all 3 games I found myself running out of time. And in the game I won, it was the *other* old guy who got into time trouble and his flag eventually fell, but I was only 5 minutes or so behind him.

Sometimes, it just sucks to be old.


Black Mates In 3-- no, wait, I Mean 2

This problem has 2 solutions. It was designed to have only 1, but somebody came along and cooked it. This is a bit of cless slang: to 'cook' a problem means to either find an additional solution, or demonstrate that the proposed solution doesn't work. This happens every so often, and not just with composed problems. For example, they've been finding cooks in Reuben Fine's classic book, Basic Chess Endings, for years.

Anyway, here is the problem, which was originally proposed as 'Black mates in 3':


Black mates in 3 also 2.jpg
FEN:[b4k2/Q4p1q/8/8/4r3/6P1/5P2/1R1R2K1 b - - 0 1]


Now, this is a 3 part problem:

Part A: Find the mate-in-3
Part B: Find the mate-in-2
Part C: (Extra credit) How would you modify the position to eliminate the 'cook'? In other words, to completely eliminate the Part B solution. Keep it simple.

One more thing: Remember, It's BLACK that's doing the checkmating in this problem, NOT White.

As usual, click and drag your mouse across the empty space(s) below for the answers:

Answer to Part A: 1. ... Qh1+ 2. Kxh1 Rh4+ 3. Kg1 Rh1#

Answer to Part B: 1. ... Re1+ 2. Rxe1 Qh1#

Answer to Part C: The 'cooked' solution could be eliminated by putting a white pawn or piece on e3. There may be other ways you could fix the problem, but this appears to be the simplest.

___________

Note: that cryptic line of letters and numbers you see underneath each board diagram is a representation of the position in what is known as "Forsyth-Edwards Notation", or F.E.N. It's actually readable by humans. Most computer applications nowadays can read FEN, so those of you who may want to study the position, you can copy the line of FEN and paste into your chess app and it should automatically recreate the position on its display board.


___________

Update: I don't like doing that "double thread" thing, so I'm going to declare this to be an Open Thread, so you can talk about politics, if you like.

___________

So that about wraps it up for this week. And just like in the book thread, chess thread tips, suggestions, bribes, rumors, threats, and insults may be sent to the book thread e-mail address: aoshqbookthread, followed by the 'at' sign, and then 'G' mail, and then dot cee oh emm.

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posted by Open Blogger at 06:00 PM

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