Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Rest Day - No Kamsky Topalov Championship Semis

Today is a rest day in the match to see who will face Vishy Anand for the World Chess Championship later this year or in 2010. Yesterday's game six was a boring affair in the Caro Kann where Kamsky missed what winning chances he had on 15. Qc1. 15. Rc1 had at least the possibility of pressure on Black's position.

Yesterday's game was simply a waste of time and effort on the part of the players and the spectators. I am an avid Caro Kann player and am especially fond of the Gurgenidze ideas of g6 and King side fiancetto. Kamsky had to know this was in Topa's repertoire and should have had a better line prepared against it.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Kamsky Bluders Away Game Five

Kamsky Blunders Away the d pawn with 35...Nb4
Image captured from

Gata Kamsky again surprised Veselin Topalov with his selection of opening by playing the French for the first time in his career in Game Five with the Tarrasch Variation. Topalov chose what Nigel Short called a "primitive" line and was adamant that Kamsky had secured a draw - until the blunder on move 35.

Kamsky was visibly shaken that he had missed the 36.Nxb4 axb4 37.Rxb4 line that loses the d pawn after the tremendous defense he had played to that point. Kamsky then assured the negative result by bludering the b pawn.

Kamsky has two more games with the white pieces.

Nigel Short also had an instructive point about the Bishops during the game. Short took Kamsky to task over trading them during the middle game (moves 19-22), "...exchanging bishops was an imprecision on Kamsky's part. Not only has he freed up the White position, but he has loosened the defence of the e7 knight, which has been doing a fine job of protecting d5."

Important note: When playing with a passed pawn do not simplify by trade. That is also a principle detailed by Nimzovich in My System in his chapter on Isolated Queen Pawns. The Iso is a force in the middle game, capable of battering the opponent's defenses. In the end game it becomes a liability that will drain a defender's resources. Kamsky fulfilled the passed pawn's "lust to expand" aided by less then correct play by Topalov, but blundered his drawing chances away.

[UPDATE] I forgot about the "controversy" that started the game today. In all the material and announcements preceding the match it had been announced that, following convention, Kamsky would have the White pieces today so that one player would not have the Whites following consecutive rest days. Topalov had the Whites following the last rest day.

However, the game started with Topalov behind the White pieces and commenters across the blogosphere and in chess chats were agog with talk about another FIDE manipulation. However, it was disclosed about 30 minutes in that the players had decided during the Dresden negotiations in November 2008 that this particular convention would not be observed since the match was to be a short eight games. FIDE and the organizers simply decided the rest of the chess world didn't need to know until the game had started and observers had been properly scandalized, I would guess.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Kamsky Wins Game Four!

Kamsky gambits another pawn with 26.b3!
Image captured from coverage

Gata Kamsky showed the tremendous reserve of steady wits that he had on display in the World Cup by simply outplaying Topalov today. Instead of heading for an Open Spanish, Topalov chose to play into Kamsky's strength in a Closed Ruy Lopez. On move 26 Kamsky gambitted the c pawn to activate his Bishops and loads of pressure on Topalov's game. Topa had to accept - not taking would allow an eventual Ba3 and then he would be in a bad position without even the pawn to show for it.

Topalov blundered a pawn with 30...b4 and Kamsky went on to squeeze Topa for the full point in 73 moves.

Way to go, Gata!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Kamsky Topalov Game Two - Gata DOES Know They Use Clocks, Right?

Kamsky would play 22.c4?! instead of winning a piece and taking his chances with 22.Nxc8
Image captured from coverage

I ponied up the money and re-joined ICC to observe Game Two of the World Chess Challenge Sofia 2009 between Gata Kamsky and Veselin Topalov. Usually Topa's play is as a shark searching for blood, and with a willingness to spill his own blood to create havoc. Kamsky usually plays with the patience of a Zen master waiting for his opponent to make a mistake, any mistake, and then use it to strangle the opposition as a constrictor crushes a meal.

Not today. Today Kamsky was the shark, and it was Kamsky shedding his blood in the attack.

Kamsky came out early on with a Spanish e4 and eschewed the sterile shake and bake endgame that the Berlin Topa offered usually induces. Spending 21 minutes on 5.Nxe5 Kamsky stated at the outset that he was the one looking for blood. He also refused to recoup his gambitted pawn and continued seeking the attack. The time time spent on move 5 also presaged the time troubles that would doom Kamsky's dangerous attack... Troubles that had him flagging on move 32. Those time troubles had cost him the game well before then, however. By move 10 Kamsky had used well over an hour of his two hours to reach 40 moves when he played Qh5. And then he kept on using time at an alarming rate to reach 15.f4 and finally 17.Bf5. He now had less than ten minutes to make 23 moves. That 17.Bf5 was seen by Kamsky to be a better move than most observers could see is beside the point - How could he make use of his strength with such little time? He couldn't. By move 22 Kamsky was out of time and his 22.c4 just allowed Topalov to run him off the board. has a replay of the game here.

Losing with White in Game Two greatly diminishes the American's chances in this eight game match. Using so much time so early indicates that Kamsky doesn't trust his preparation or his instincts, and that may spell the end of his chances to contend for the title.

Kamsky Topalov Game Two is Today - Where are You Watching?

After Topalov's Novelty 17.e5, Kamsky replies 17...Bd7!
Image captured from coverage

Kamsky garnered half a point as Black yesterday when he found a pretty refutation of Topa's move 17 novelty in the Grünfeld Defense in the World Chess Challenge Sofia 2009. I watched the game at with commentary by GM Nigel Short.

In the past I have usually watched relays of events at Internet Chess Club (ICC) but I let my membership lapse. On ICC I was FortyShorty for a while. In 2007 I changed user names to sdo1.

The experience was much less intense at and I missed the audio that Chess.FM usually has paired with the ICC atmosphere. The game starts in about an hour and I may just go ahead and re-up at ICC for the remainder of this match.

Or perhaps I'll go check out the controversy at Playchess! From ChessVibes:
Many of you who were following the game live today may have wondered about the following. From the start, below the famous, blue DGT game viewer there was a remarkable legal note:

Warning! It is absolutely prohibited the live broadcast of the moves or video during the game on other websites, media or software without the explicit permission of the orginizers [sic] of the match.

When the game was running for about half an hour, another, interesting line was added:

Currently the broadcast rights are being violated by ChessBase on its software PlayChess.

Since many other sources were covering the game live, including TWIC, Chessdom and ICC, we’re clearly dealing with some private war between the Bulgarians on one side and Chessbase on the other. It’s well-known that their relationship hasn’t exactly been “deeply in love” for quite a while now, but to bring it into the open like the official site was doing today is, well, remarkable, let’s put it that way.

Where are you watching?

[UPDATE] I went ahead and reupped at ICC. What can I say? I need to hear Mig Greengard and his band of commenting GMs... Today is GM Nick de Firmian of MCO fame. I'm sdo1 again, give me a yell.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Old Events Wrapup

It has been a long time since I updated the events I have played in correspondence chess. I have ceased playing in ICC correspondence events because of events detailed in the last update. My ICC membership has lapsed and I undestand my stats have been erased. I also stopped play in USCF events though I remain a member. I plan on entering one or more CCLA events in the near future. I have started play in an ICCF Web Server Higher Series event (WS/H/171) based on my wins in the last two Open events I entered. Incredibly, there is already one result though notice of the event beginning was sent last week and the official start date is day after tomorrow!

I have completed all events that I had entered from 2007 - 2008. My last two ICCF Web Server Open Series events ended with first place finishes.

In WS/O/215 I scored 6/6. However, the best player in that event over stepped the time limit and was disqualified in our game.

Owens (1941) - Chazalette (2126)
Start Date 2008.7.3
QGD - Semi-Slav [D43]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.Bg5 h6
6.Bh4 dxc4 7.e4 g5 8.Bg3 b5 9.Be2 Bb7 10.O-O Nbd7
11.Ne5 Bg7 12.Nxd7 Nxd7 13.Bd6 Bf8 14.Bxf8 Kxf8 15.f4 Rg8
16.Qd2 Rg7 17.Rf2 1-0

I would think the position is about even. Black suffers no exposure from losing short castling rights. His b7 Bishop can enter the game with one pawn move. There are no readily exploitable weak squares. I don't know why he quit. Black has at least a half point to gain from this game.

There are two games ongoing in the event and second place is still being contested. Chazalette can move into a second place tie with Bürger at 4.5/6 if he should defeat Sartori who is currently in fourth place.

After 15.g4
Black Sacs the Exchange
15...f5 16.exf6 Rxf6 17.g5 Rxf3 18.Bxf3 Qxg5+

Against Bürger I played the White side of a Bogo-Indian. On move 15 Bürger chose a variation that sacrifices the Exchange. I was able to withstand his King side attack and eventually win the game with the Rook vs. Knight and pawn advantage.

WS/O/172 was my first time atop the standings scoring 5.5/6. My only failure to garner a full point was an uninspired effort as White in a Reti against second place finisher Lehnen. I usually enjoy Retis and it will stay in my repertoire but I am disappointed with this game. In the two games that were not completed as of the last update, I was able to get full points from Dr. Mark Pooley in an Advance Caro Kann and from Nicolas White in a Symetrical Reti.

All the other events have finished. In WS/O/138 I placed 3rd, in WS/O/120 I placed 2nd, and in WS/O/109 I finished in 3rd. The last game to finish was in WS/O/120 which I posted about in January.

Chess Book Additions

[UPDATE] As I look at the Amazon boxes I notice that I over paid for both the Horowitz and Gufeld books! Next time I guess I should look up the prices before buying... Even at used book stores. I "saved" about a dollar on the Capablanca book.

I went by what is fast becoming a favorite book store to visit this morning, McKay Used Books, and picked up three chess books. The first I picked up is by one of my favorite chess authors, I.A Horowitz, entitled The Golden Treasury of Chess. Horowitz authored numerous tomes on the Royal Game and is always a quality read.

Unlike many game compilations, Horowitz simply presents the games with a small forward to each game detailing the circumstances and history of each game. Some have a description as simple as Knights without armor as in Game 52 and other have earned full paragraphs as did Game 4: It is many years since I first saws this game, but the final position with Balck's Queen trapped by its own far-advanced pawns, and White's King gaily advancing down the board to assist against his colleague is still good for a chuckle. Imagine Kieseritsky's chagrin as he stares ruefully at the bottled up Queen! Who says there is no humor in chess?!

The book is composed of seven chapters beginning with Horowitz's favorites and continuing from the Pre-Morphy era to Fischer's rise during the Russian Hegemony (included in the 1969 update). Each chapter has a forward written in Horowitz's unique romantic style.

I also picked up another classic, one that almost every chess enthusiast will include in the top ten most influential chess books ever, Chess Fundamentals by Jose Capablanca. While written for the beginning player, Capablanca's work holds many insights for even the most advanced student. I have several copies of this book, but this one has algebraic notation which my other copies do not.

The third book I acquired today is on my favorite opening system as black, The Caro-Kann. Caro-Kann System 4...Nd7 by the dependable and prodigious Eduard Gufeld is a praxis of the Smyslov branch of the classical Caro-Kann denoted, as the title states, by Black's 4...Nd7 instead of 4...Bf5. Petrosian and Smyslov popularized the system which was later championed by Karpov. Nimzovitch, to whom I adhere as a hypermodern student, was among the first to delve into the system's intricacies. The Caro-Kann typically is played with the goal of unhindered development of the Queen's Bishop in mind, but this system eschews that point with the fourth move in favor of increased pawn structure integrity and inherent defensive balance. As with most Caro-Kann variations, White will be induced into over reaching to make use of his "persistent" initiative.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Taser Loses Suit - So Much For That Claim

Taser and their defenders always say that Taser has never lost a suit about the effects of their product. They can't say that any longer...

A federal judge has ordered Taser International to pay $1.4 million to lawyers for the family of a Salinas man who died after police officers repeatedly shocked him with stun guns.

U.S. District Court Judge James Ware last week ordered the Scottsdale, Ariz. company liable for attorneys fees occrued by the family of 40-year-old Robert Heston.

About that "excited delirium" Taser and their defenders say causes all those deaths INSTEAD of multiple high voltage shocks near the heart...
An autopsy showed that Heston died from methamphetamine intoxication, an enlarged heart and the Taser shocks.
Sounds to me like "excited delirium."