Friday, April 27, 2007

Friday Update - Busy, Busy Week

I've been preoccupied with other chess activities all week and haven't been able to blog.

First up, I was appointed to the Forum Oversight Committee at the USCF Forums. I have spent about eight hours a day on those duties and getting up to speed with the other committee members. With the Executive Board election coming up in June, I think things will only get busier for the next several months. If you are a USCF member and are seeking information about the candidates, or would even wish to interact with the candidates, that is the place to be.

In ICCF WS/O/109 I finally resigned my game as Black versus Florian Potz. As I stated in an earlier blog, no more Kalashnikov in Correspondence Chess! There has been no appreciable change in the other games in this event so I stand at one win, one loss, and one draw.

In ICCF WS/O/120 several of the games are toward the end of the opening stage, but nothing of substance has changed there. ICC 2007 Quad 03 has seen little action since my two wins against Shijith. I'm confident of having the advantage in my remaining White games against both QwikE and Brian-E. As Black I am at least holding my own against both opponents.

Of note on the blog is the nice comment by FM Alex Dunne in my April 14th blog entry. FM Dunne also sent me an email regarding the Muir Quads, and yes, the Web Server at ICCF is used for play in the Muirs. As soon as possible I'll be signing up for that. Thanks again, FM Dunne!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

ICCF Server Update

Two new Items announced at the ICCF Server:

Server upgrade
Friday, April 20, 2007: has been published, with many new interesting features
This is a list of the non-administration new features:
1- Live display area
2- Events are now listed by long(regular) and short(abreviated) names for easier identification
3- Improved rating list with more search options
4- Notification about 40-day rule violation is sent to both players, not just TD
5- TD may now participate in his own event
6- Players can take more than one board in a team event
7- Complete redesign of Game screen
8- Redesign of event index
9- Redesign of tournament crosstables
Some of these features will be subjected to minor changes in the near future, but we did not want to wait longer to publish the upgrade. Please give us your feedback or contact helpdesk for problems.
by helpdesk@iccf-webchess.com


And...

Few problems noticed after server update
Saturday, April 21, 2007: Please follow these steps to solve them
We have received reports of problems related to cached pages ("unhandled error) and /or scripts (cannot move pieces on the game screen).
These errors seem to happen mostly with Firefox and Netscape but they also occur in Internet Explorer depending on your cache settings in the browser's options.
To solve them please go to the server site and try to refresh the page. If this doesn't work please try clearing your browser cache.
by helpdesk@iccf-webchess.com


The improvements are nice. The ratings list is much easier to search. The playing area takes a little getting used to without the left side menu but is more functional after you get used to it. Looking up tournaments is a complete knew adventure, but allows more information which is always desirable. Great job ICCF!

[EDIT @ 0949]
This was just posted:
Sunday, April 22, 2007: Service Disruption, 22/04/07 - 01/05/07
The ICCF Website is currently being upgraded with new features and a modified design. During this time there may be a need to take the website 'off-line'. All disruption will be kept to an absolute minimum, but if you are unable to log-in to iccf.com, please try again in a short while.
by webmaster@iccf.com


Progress hurts...

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Another ICC Win

Below is my initial annotation with some diagrams. The flash player is at the bottom.

[Event "ICC correspondence 2007Quad.03.04"]
[Site "Internet Chess Club"]
[Date "2007.02.22"]
[Round "-"]
[White "shijith"]
[Black "FortyShorty"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "E62"]
[Opening "King's Indian: fianchetto with ...Nc6"]
[NIC "KI.73"]
[Time "09:38:27"]
[ICCResult "0-1"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. c4 Bg7 4. g3 O-O 5. Bg2 d6 6. Nc3 Nc6 7. d5
{I'm not enamored of the d5 push. He has d5 well controlled and I think a piece would be better placed there than the pawn. Also, I had forsaken the c5 push with Nc6 and he should have exploited that.}

7... Na5 8. Qd3 c5 9. O-O a6 10. e4 Bd7
{Perhaps b5 would have been better. I think this works though.}

11. a4 e5
{11...Nb3 12.Ra3 Nxc1 13.Rxc1 might have been better. It certainly is more forcing.}

12. Nd2
{Ne2 did not block the dark bishop.}

12... Rb8 13. b3 Qe7 14. Bb2 b6 15. Ne2

{Taking stock of the position at this point: His dark bishop is fairly blocked from useful play. His knights are on his second rank. One is tied to the defense of the b pawn. He has a very slight space advantage, but the center and q-side are locked down. My a5 knight, while on the rim, constantly threatens his q-side pawns and will be a force if allowed to settle on d4. My other pieces are poised for a k-side assault. I should be able to take the initiative with play on the k-side.}

15... Nh5 16. Rae1 f5 17. exf5

{I was more concerned about 17.f4. 17.exf5 allows me avenues of attack where I am strong.}

17... Bxf5 18. Qe3 Rbe8 19. f4

{I thought this was too late and bad strategy. He is opening up the position in the face of an attack.}

19... Qd7 20. fxe5 Bxe5 21. Bxe5 Rxe5

{This starts the Queen hunt.}

22. Qf2

{Was Ne4 better? It allows me to double rooks on the e file. Supporting the blocking knight with the other at c3 loses the b pawn and the q-side crumbles. Perhaps Qc3? Then the strongest piece for defense is out of the action. Be4 would elicit ...Qe8 and ...Nf6 piling pressure on the pinned piece.}

22... Nf6 23. Nf4 Ng4

{Continuing to harass a queen with no room to maneuver.}

24. Qf3 Rxe1

{The exchange is better here than on e5.}

25. Rxe1 Qg7
{Dual threats: Mate at g2 and an invasion of the q-side dark squares.}

26. Kh1 Qb2

{b3 is dead. The a5 knight will have little problems going to d4. White's pieces don't support each other. The back rank is threatened and his Queen still has little room and can be attacked and driven.}

27. Ne4

{Qe2 was worth a try, perhaps allowing White's Queen to make trouble at e7 after the exchange on b3.}

27... Nxb3 28. Nxd6 Nd4

{The knight finally arrives at d4 and White's Queen has only one square.}
29. Qf1

{There are no other alternatives.}

29... Bd3

{White Resigns. He does not care for the position after 30.Nxd3 Rxf1+ 31.Rxf1 Qc2 32.Nf4 g5 33.Nh3 Ne3 when his q-side pawns will fall and his King will be constantly harrassed.}
0-1

Saturday Addendum

Several items came up after the Friday Update.

- I have another victory on ICC Correspondence. Shijith resigned our second game on the 29th move. I'll post the game after I have had a chance to review it.

- Susan Polgar has posted another correspondence chess item on her blog. This is the third correspondence chess blog entry from GM Polgar in the last week or so. While this one is simply a promised update on links for correspondence chess, it and the other entries by GM Polgar serve to raise CorrChess's visibility.

Despite my disagreement with GM Polgar in the first instance, I am very grateful for her interest and promotion of this aspect of the royal game. I have become an avid reader of her blog and suggest it to anyone looking for enjoyable chess content.

- Anthony spoke of entering a Walter Muir E-Quad to be held on ICCF's web server by the USCF's Correspondence Chess Director Alex Dunne. That intrigued me, so I tried to register for a Muir quad on Friday for the web server as is advertised on the web page. The gentleman that answered the phone could not find a web server option, only email Muir quads... Joan DuBois was out of the office but the gentleman stated he would print out the web page (he saw the same thing I did) and place it on her desk for clarification. I'll let you know when I find out something definite. Playing USCF events on a web server would be wonderful!

- The ICCF web server appears to be down this morning. Hopefully it will be back up soon.
[EDIT] 7:15am Received the following from ICCF:

Dear Steve,

please go to www.iccf-webchess.com in your browser and try to refresh the
page.
There was the server update, and pages cached in your browser may no longer
be working.

Your browser may be caching an old version of a script on the game screen.
Please try to refresh the game screen in your browser. If that does not
help, you can try cleaning your browser cache. Let me know if this doesn't
help.

Sincerely, yours
Martin Bennedik


And it now works for me. I did have an old page in the cache that was not updating with the new server update.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Friday Update

The recently started ICCF WS/O/120 is in the very early stages. None of the games have proceeded past the first four moves. One game has not had a single move.

Nothing major has transpired in the other two events, either.

In Correspondence news, Susan Polgar has posted another entry about CC chess. GM Polgar is asking for CC web sites to list on that entry so be sure to see if there is a favorite of yours that has not yet been mentioned. Yours truly was linked (thanks to Anthony for the plug and GM Polgar for the link).

Mike Nolan posted on the USCF Forums on Thursday that Alex Dunne had completed all correspondence rating updates on Monday (April, 16th). This is welcome news and we all hope that the USCF will continue the recent improvements regarding CC chess. One thing I would like to see, failing a return of FM Dunne's column to the print Chess Life, is for his Chess Life Online column, Check Is In The Mail, to be made available via newsreader/blog protocol (RSS, Atom, etc...)

Monday, April 16, 2007

Discussion about a CC Server on the USCF Forum

Recently USCF Executive Board candidate Stephen L. Jones initiated a thread asking for ideas about "how the USCF, at this late hour, can become involved in internet play."

Your intrepid blogger piped in with the thought that almost unlimited growth was available if the USCF were to obtain a CorrChess web server or partner with someone like ICCF that has already established a successful server.

Mike Nolan and Hal Bogner posted notes regarding this idea with Hal Bogner stating, "I would like to add functions like this to the USCF web site at some point in the future, if Mike doesn't have it in his crosshairs first. I think it's an excellent idea, and I can imagine some very nice feautures for such a service above and beyond what I have seen already in other places."
One can sometimes not entirely finger where Mike Nolan stands on an issue, but he didn't say he was opposed!

Mike Nolan is the "catch all" tech consultant for the USCF which means he deals with the guts of the USCF internet data and processes. Hal Bogner's company is finishing the work left over on the USCF web site.

Could a CorrChess web server be in the future for the USCF?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

New Event on ICCF Started

I received the following from ICCF this morning...

Please find below the start list for the new event WS/O/120.

The TD is Marconi, Ralph P. (marconi@xxx.net).

The following rules apply for this event:
This is a server event.
The start date is 21 April 2007.
There is no end date.
ICCF standard time control 10 moves in 50 days is used.
30 days of leave per year are available to each player.
No conditionals can be entered.
Other participants can see the games only when they are finished, and at least 10 games are finished in the event.
The public can see the games only when they are finished, and at least 10 games are finished in the event.
This event is organized by Hofer, Rudolf.


Rated

1. 160980 ESP Sánchez Carmona, Gerardo (1800 Provisional)
2. 360548 NOR Stenseth, Bjørn Gunnar (1800 Provisional)
3. 490209 TUR Ciklabakkal, Metin (1800 Provisional)
4. 30119 AUS Ramsden, Jim E. (1844)
5. 480238 SLO Gantar, Jan (1800 Provisional)
6. 514360 USA Owens, Steve (1800 Provisional)
7. 514396 USA Lynn, Bret (1800 Provisional)

1 is white against 2, 4, 6
2 is white against 3, 5, 7
3 is white against 1, 4, 6
4 is white against 2, 5, 7
5 is white against 1, 3, 6
6 is white against 2, 4, 7
7 is white against 1, 3, 5


ICCF - The International Correspondence Chess Federation
www.iccf.com www.iccf-webchess.com


Even though I had a quick win as White in a Benoni, I'm not enamored of the QG openings. I think I'll change, though I'm definitely not a 1.e4 fan either. I've played the Catalan, Reti, and English in the past. I think I'll take a day or two to decide.

As Black, I've already received two games starting 1.e4. I will NOT go with the Kalashnikov again! :D I think I'll take a couple days to decided what (other than 1...e5) openings I'd like to try now.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Events I'm Playing In

I'm currently involved in two events, one each on ICCF and ICC. At ICCF I'm in Web Server Open Class 109 (WS/O/109) and at ICC I'm in 2007Quad.03.

ICCF WS/O/109
1 10588 AUT Pötz, Florian 1800P
2 130711 CZE Kýhos, Alois 1701
3 514360 USA Owens, Steve 1800P
4 514348 USA Thomas, Gerald K 1800P
5 421419 POL Deren, Marcin 2019F
6 85582 GER Kaspschak, Mrs. Karola 1800P
7 241236 ITA Barzaghi, Andy 1800P

In my game against Florian Potz I am Black and played a Sicilian Kalashnikov. We're past 30 moves and I'm getting slapped around pretty well. I've always heard that in the Sicilian if Black survives 25 moves and is near equal he will win in the end game. I don't know about that here. Potz has sacced the exchange for a very strong initiative (when this game gets published it will be the definition for initiative) and I'm just trying to hang on.

Against Alois Kyhos I again used the Sicilian though he went for a Rossolimo game with 3.Bb5. This game is "in the books" as a draw. Again I was treated quite roughly but survived well enough to elicit a draw offer that I accepted on move 43. At about move 38 I finally equalized. I think this is my last CC game using this form of the Sicilian.

I had Black White against Gerald K. Thomas and opened 1.d4 intending an honest to God QG. Thomas responded with a Benoni line that I saw could transpose easily to a line in the Shveshnikov/Kalshnikov that favored White. I had a classic Maroczy Bind in effect early on and then completely strangled his Queen side. His Queen and both Rooks were trapped on the shrinking space he had on the Queen side, I quickly won the Exchange and had a death grip on his light squares there. Thomas resigned on move 20.

As White against Marcin Deren I opened with a Catalan to which he replied with a Queen Indian set up. We're at move 14 with no advantage for either side yet.

Mrs. Karola Kaspschak replied to the QGD with a Slav Exchange. We're only on move 6 in this one as Mrs. Kaspschak took some vacation time.

Andy Barzaghi opened with a 1.b3 Larsen's Attack. I responded with play in the center and Barzaghi had dropped a piece by move 13 and had another en prise by move 14. We're at move 17 with White in serious trouble and no moves transmitted since late March.

2007Quad.03
Name Rating
FortyShorty 1941
QwikE 1892
shijith 1763
Brian-E 1723

(I'm FortyShorty.) As stated above, in the Quad format each player has two games, on as White and one as Black, against each opponent.

Against QwikE I played a Catalan as White. I've locked the center and provoked a weakening of the light squares on his King side. We're at move 16 and I have to find a suitable attack. In our other game as Black, we're up to move 16 in a 5.Nb3 Kalashnikov where, for once, I'm holding my own in this opening.

Shijith has resigned one of our games that was blogged here. In our other game I responded to his Catalan with a King Indian setup. We're at move 27 with the Queen side and center locked down and play going happening primarily on the King side. The position is unclear.

Brian-E and I are involved in a Catalan/Neo Gruenfeld in the game I have White. We're up to move 18 with things just starting to get interesting. I responded to his English with a King Indian that has transposed to an Averbakh system. This one is also just now getting interesting on move 18.

I've registered for another WS/O on ICCF that should be starting within a few weeks. No More Kalashnikovs!

News about USCF Correspondence, GM Polgar on it late

Mike Nolan posted the following on the USCF Forums under the "Correspondence Chess update" thread.

"PostPost:40098 Posted: Fri Apr 13, 2007 11:41 pm

I was wondering if anyone would notice. Smile

As of early this afternoon, MSA has updated CC ratings for over 1200 correspondence players.

Alex has results entered through around April 8th, he expects to be completely caught up over the weekend. The individual results are available at:

http://www.uschess.org/cc/CCSearch/

We may have more good news for correspondence players soon.
"

There is hope for the USCF CC program yet!

I was disappointed that GM Susan Polgar chose to use this as a political football in her campaign for the USCF Executive Board. GM Polgar wrote, "This is just one of the many problems. We must do better and we must treat our members better, every single member! Mr. Paul Truong, Mr. Mikhail Korenman, Mr. Randy Bauer and I are committed to change the USCF for the better. Thank you Mr. Allard for bringing this to our attention!"

She wrote this on Friday, April 13th when Mike Nolan had started the thread on the Forums back in February! Yes, the USCF needs to do better. However, GM Polgar has repeatedly complained that others do not write a simple email to see if things are being fixed or for explanations of situations about which others have questions. Here, GM Polgar violates her own advice by jumping on a situation that was a problem but has had a solution in the works for months now. In addition, she did this for political gain.

Is this how she intends to operate as a board member?

Back to the USCF... Now, if we can get them to set up a server like the ICCF has!

Friday, April 13, 2007

First ICC CC Game Completed

This is the first result since I started playing CC again on ICC this year.




On ICC I am FortyShorty. Shijith, my opponent, is in India. In the Quad format each player has two games versus the other three opponents. In this game I used a Catalan as White and he responded with a Neo-Gruenfeld.

Black was ok until 11...e6. That completely limits his light bishop when it had a beautiful diagonal and makes his dark squares around the King very weak.

I also thought a big mistake for Black was to open up the game when White had such superior development. Exchanging on 18...Bxf4 further weakening the King side dark squares hurt, too.

Once the Knight was embedded at f6 is was all but over.

So... The first result from ICC correspondence is a win! :)

Introduction

I started playing chess when several uncles of mine in Houston, Texas taught me the moves when I was about seven or eight. I'd see them each summer when my parents shuffled me off on an annual tour of relations and during my time in Houston we'd play. Sometime around age 12 or so something "clicked" and I took to the game and began regularly beating my uncles with ease...

During my freshman year in at Roswell High School (NM) one of the teachers (Dr. David D. Archer) began an after hours "Chess and Karate" class (Chess Boxing is nothing new). We formed a team and took home one of the trophies at the regional much to the chagrin of several other established chess programs. We also played in the NM Junior Championships held in Albuquerque that year (1978) where I lost the first place game in my section and finished eighth.

That summer I again made my rounds of our relations (the uncles found other things to do when they saw I had a chess board, which was often) and followed the Karpov Korchnoi battle. I was devastated when Korchnoi succumbed to Karpov and his psychic staring, yogurt bearing contingent.

I started a family early on and forgot about chess except for playing a small "Chess Challenger Seven" I purchased at Sears in late 1978. It was destroyed in 1985 when my younger son discovered it could be used as a weapon against his older brother...

In the mid-Eighties while in college I caught the bug again. I started back playing tournament chess, got club TD certified, and started helping run and running tournaments as well as founding a college chess club.

In late 1987 we moved to El Paso where I played and ran a few tournaments, but by the early Nineties my work schedule and family commitments precluded more that sporadic chess interest.

Enter the Internet! The emergence of ICS again perked my chess interest. By 2001 I was playing on the ill-fated USChessLive and on FICS. In 2004 I gave in and bought an ICC membership. Then ICC started offering CC games. I played several events and then the guy that was organizing on ICC disappeared. But the idea of playing CC without all the book keeping appealed to me. This January I re-signed up for CC games on ICC as well as registering with ICCF.

ICCF has a great web server. You simply log on, go to your event, make your move on the chess board, and then wait for your opponent. ICC is a bit more complicated. If you play there send "dro" a message if you can't figure out the protocol.

I'm using ChessPad to keep track of my games on both servers. I'm sure someone has a better system, but ChessPad works for me. I have six games going on ICCF and six on ICC. As they are ready to be published I'll put'em up.