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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Minor Investment

Faced with an offbeat line of the Sveshnikov variation, Black comes up with a pawn sacrifice. The game reaches a strange balance, Black is a pawn down, but in way of compensation has a protected passed pawn and an uncastled White King hinders the coordination of White’s rooks. Black ensures that White will not be able to castle and slowly wrests the game from White. In the end, with the clocks advancing, Black prevents perpetual check as he guides his remaining pawns to the 1st rank.

White – Rasheen de Silva Black – Naditha
Inter Club Super League 2005 Colombo 24th March 2006
B33: Sicilian: Lasker-Pelikan and Sveshnikov Variations

This game was played in the first round and at that time we did not know much about the young team from Galle, Ruhunu Chess Academy except that they had some quite fearless attackers. I was to play Rasheen de Silva, who within the year won the inaugural Galle Majors and played reasonably at the National B. The game was one of the few that went right for me in 2006.

Since our main rivals Passed Pawns and Kandy CC were playing each other we felt an early lead would be useful, as the lack of teams meant that they would play the weaker teams later, when we played the stronger ones. I had seen Rasheen play once before, conducting a good attack against Romesh, so I knew I will have a tough game ahead of me.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e5 6. Ndb5 d6 7. Nd5 Nxd5 8. exd5 Nb8 9. Be3 Be7 10. Qd2 a6 11. Na3

In my games Database I found 4 games that have previously reached this position, with all of them ending in victories for white.

Over the Board I was uncomfortable with the White Knight coming to c4 and played 11... b5N ?!
White immediately challenged the control of c4 with 12. c4!
I realized I could not maintain the control of c4 and decided to sacrifice a pawn. 12… f5 13. f3 0–0 14. cxb5 Bh4+ 15. Bf2
The alternate 15. g3 f4 16. Bf2 Bg5 is given as equal by Junior.
15... Bxf2+ 16. Qxf2 e4 17. f4 Nd7 18. Rc1 Nf6 19. Bc4
Junior suggests 19. Qd4 Qa5+ 20. Qd2 Qxd2+ 21. Kxd2 axb5 22. Bxb5 Bb7 that leads to equality.
19... Ng4 20. Qe2
Better is 20. Qd4 axb5 21.Nxb5 (21. Bxb5 Rxa3 22. bxa3 Qa5+ 23. Qb4 Qb6=) 21 ...Qa5+ 22. Nc3 with equality.
20... axb5 21. Nxb5
Qb6 22. Rc3

On 22. h3 Ne3 23. Na3 Qb4+ 24. Kf2 Nxc4 25. Nxc4 Rxa2 gives Black a nice game.
22... Ba6 23. a4 Rfc8 24. h3 Bxb5 25. Bxb5 Rxc3 26. bxc3 Nf6
Junior gives 26... Rc8 27. hxg4 Rxc3 28. gxf5 as the strongest line.
27. c4
27. Qd2 Rc8 28. Ke2 Nh5 leads to equality.
27... Ne8 28. g4
Nc7 29. Bc6 Rb8 30. Rf1??
30. Bb5 Qd4 31. Qc2 Qe3+ 32. Kf1 Qxf4+ 33. Qf2
30... Qd4 31. Bb5 Nxb5 32. cxb5 Rc8 33. Qd2 Qxa4 34. Rf2 Qxb5
Concerned with pawn snatching, I over looked 34... Qa1+ 35. Ke2 Qb1! when white resistance is over.
35. Re2 g6 36. gxf5
gxf5 37. Rg2+ Kf8 38. Qd4 Qb1+ 39. Kf2 Rc2+ 40. Kg3 Qe1+ 41. Kh2 Rxg2+ 42. Kxg2 Qh4

42... Kf7 43. Qh8 Qe2+ 44. Kg3 Qf3+ 45. Kh4 Qxf4+ 46. Kh5 Qg3 47. Qxh7+ Kf6 48. Qh8+ Qg7 49. Qd8+ Ke5
43. Qh8+ Kf7 44. Qc8 Qf6
Not 44... Qxf4?! 45. Qd7+ Kg6 46. Qe6+ Kg5 47. Qe7+ Kh6 48. Qe6+ Kh5 49. Qf7+ Kh4 50. Qxh7+ Kg5 51. Qg7+ Kh5 52. Qf7+ Kh6 53. Qe6+ Kg5 54. Qg8+ Kf6 55. Qe6+ Kg7 56. Qe7+ Kg6 57. Qe6+ Kh7 58. Qf7+ when Black’s King has no shelter from the avalanche of checks. I was looking for a Queen trade and was trying to interpose my Queen into a check with a check of my own.

45. Qd7+ 45... Kg6 46. Qe8+ Kh6 47. Kf2 Qd4+ 48.Kg3
48. Kg2 Qd2+ 49. Kg1 Qxd5 50. Qf8+ Kh5 51. Qe8+ Kh4 52. Qe7+ Kg3 53. Qg5+ Kf3 54. Qg2+ Kxf4 etc.
48... Qe3+

Oops 48...Qg1+ 49.Kh4 Qf2#
49. Kg2 Qf3+ 50. Kg1 Qg3+ 51. Kf1 Qxh3+ 52. Ke1 Qg3+ 53. Ke2 Qg2+ 54. Ke3 Qf3+ 55. Kd2 Qxf4+ 56. Kc2
56. Ke2 Qh2+ 57. Ke3 f4+ 58. Kd4 Qd2+ 59. Kc4 Qd3+ 60. Kb4 e3
56...Qf2+ 57. Kc3 Qc5+ 58. Kb2 Qxd5 59. Qf8+ Kg5 60. Qg7+ Kf4 61. Qxh7 e3 62. Qh4+ Ke5

The next moves were made during the last five minutes of a guillotine finish and the correct sequence of moves could not be reestablished. I remember getting a second queen while a team mate remarked that I over looked both a chance to win the white Queen and failed to spot an illegal move.

What I Missed And More

While I have been busy with studies a lot of headlines have been generated – some good, some bad.

The incident at Aeroflot Open is the main one and enough have been said on it. Everything I have to say about it has already being repeated on various sites, so I’ll only say that heavy penalties should be issued to those who bring the Game of Kings in to disrepute in any manner.

In Sri Lanka after the great Athurupana brothers, finally a player touched a 2300 performance, the first in well over 16 years. Not much in this age, but Athula Russel’s performance, is a great effort for Sri Lankan players and hopefully more will come from many players.

This news is very exciting for all you Asian players and others who would like to come down to Sri Lanka for a tournament or a holiday with some chess in it. A couple of my friends with some help from me are in the process of organizing the biggest International Open in Sri Lanka with US $15 000 prize fund. We already a have several GMs and IMs who have said they will come.

I will upload the prospectus very soon.

Solution to Position 03

Here is the long awaited solution to position 03.

25...Rf5 with the idea of trapping the Queen forcing it to g1 after h5, when it will be exposed to a discovered attack from the Bishop.
The best reply is 26.Re1 h5 27.Rxe3 hxg4 28.Re7+ Kg8 29.hxg4 when Black has a Queen for Rook and the Light squired Bishop and with a strong attack coming against the white King.

In the game white played 26.Bf2? h5 (for those who found 26...Rc3 27. Rc3 Bc3 28. b.c3 Qa4+ give yourselves a pat on the back. (27.Bxe3 hxg4 28.hxg4+ Kg7 29.gxf5 Bxe3 30.Rc2 gxf5 31.Re1 Bd4 and white still is in trouble. )
27.Qg1 Rxc3 28.Bxd4 Qa4+ 29.b3 Rxb3 30. Kd2 Rd5 31 Bd5 Rd3+ 32. Ke1 Qe8+

And if you have forgotten Position 03 in the intervening period , click to have a look at it.

Position 04

Its white to move.

And if you can spare a little time please click an advertisement before you go. Thank you for your consideration.

I'll definitely send in the solution next week.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Solution To Position 02

1… Qf1+ 2. Kf1 Nd2+ 3. Kg1 Re1+ 4. Kh2 nf1+ 5. Kg1 ( Kh1) Ng3+ 6. Kh2 Nf5 and Black is up a rook.

If your are interested here is Position 02

Sorry to my readers for not publishing in the last two weeks, I was too caught up with my studies.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Solution To Position 01

1… Rxf3 2. Kxf3 Bxe4+ 3. Kxe4 Rxg3 4. Rhg1 Qa2 5. Rxg3 Qxd2 6. Rf1 h4 7. Rgf3 Qg2 and the h pawn will decide.

For those who missed Position 01 or have forgotten Click here to see the position

Position 03

Its Black to move. I know, I'm partial to black but, then, in every book the majority of positions, it is white to move.And if you can spare a little time please click an advertisement before you go. Thank you for your consideration.

Incidentally I played black in this one.

For the solution click here

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Chess players create problems, then try to solve them

When I was about 19, I an 2 friends were to organize the National Chess Championship. As part of the organizing we had to get caterer to supply the food and on the day before the event, I and a friend, Chaminda (another organizer) who knew a caterer were to go and meet him.

We met near his house and while we walking to the bus stop, we realized that several buses had stopped for a traffic light. He and I ran to the nearest bus and tried to enter. Unfortunately the lights turned green and only he was able to get on. I got on the bus behind it.

As the bus I was in approached the next bus stop after the traffic lights, I saw him get down and come towards my bus. However, the bus I was in was trying to get ahead of the other buses that had stopped at the bus stop and it just overtook them without stopping at the bus stop. Chaminda could not climb on.

Now I was wondering wondering what to do. We needed to see the caterer immediately, and we had stuff to get done today - we were pressed for time. I did not know even the name of the caterer, let alone how to get there. I also was afraid to get down from the bus because, what happened at the last bus stop might happen and the bus Chaminda was in may not stop. Both of us did not have cell phones either.

Well I thought a bit and then with a bit of logical thinking decided to get down at Nugegoda, a major junction when normally all buses stop. Even if they didn't the traffic lights at the junction meant that the bus would get caught in a small queue. All this would allow me to get on Chaminda's bus. Well I got down and about 5 minutes later, the bus Chaminda was in came(I saw him near a bus window) and I managed to get into at near the traffic lights, this time. He had thought I will try to get into the bus he was in, and had sat down in a window seat where I could see him.

Well we went to the caterer and everything went off great. While having lunch with the players I narrated the story and said we used our brains and logical thinking to get ourselves out of a tight spot. I asked what would have happened if it was two other sportsmen who were doing a sport involving more brawn what would have happen. I of course knew the answer which was repeated by some.

"They would both be on the bus in the first place"

My favourite remark came from a National Team player.
"Chess players create problems, then try to solve them"

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Ivanchuk And Doping In Chess

So,one of the world’s best players may be banned and then a team that pulled off a sensational result to win bronze at the Olympiad will be asked to hand over their medals back.

In a way it’s fair that the USA has to lose their hard earned Bronze Medals because the fact that Kamsky beating Ivanchuk started the mess. The loss caused Vasily to go off in anger (maybe disgust at himself and disappointment) and avoid participating in doping control.

So, in stead of getting rewarded for an excellent win, the USA has to be penalized. Well, that’s what the rule book says.

Never mind common sense, all that is fair.

Doping Rules have never been fair. At the 2000, Sydney Games, Andreea Raducan, a Romanian Gymnast (then Gold Medalist) was disqualified for failing a drug’s test. The traces of a banned stimulant came from a drug given for some minor illness - flu, I think. A senior IOC doping committee official told they know that the girl did not take performance enhancing drugs nor her performance was drug helped. Yet, he said she has violated the Doping Rule’s by having traces of a banned drug in her urine sample and so has to be disqualified - Gold Medal taken away.

The above blog was published on December 05 2008.

A FIDE Official when asked about the controversy surrounding Vasily Ivanchuk and about his opinion on dope testing of chess players, said he can not have an opinion as he is an employee of FIDE, but as FIDE is moving towards being an Olympic sport it was necessary. However when I suggested that USA will lose their bronze medals he said a compromise will be found that will not involve medals changing hands.

He stated a very revealing fact - showing the argument his bosses will use to see that no points will be deducted, unlike in the past Calvia Olympiad when two players from Bermuda and Papua New Guinea had their points removed.

“At no point did Ivanchuk refuse he to submit for dope control. He just didn’t submit a sample for testing”

What does the parole board normally do about a prisoner on parole who does not refuse to meet his parole officer once a month but does not turn up for the meeting - al bit he has a good reason.

This is in the future but a compromise is consistent with FIDE actions in it being inconsistent with FIDE’s past actions on doping violations, not that FIDE is known for smart compromises. My guess even FIDE couldn't deal with a mess where medals would be changing hands.

But, if medals don’t change hands and Ivanchuk s not banned I won’t be complaining and I know at least another 15 who won’t be grumbling - USA Men Ukraine Men and Women.

It Takes Guts To Play Chess

I recently read an article on cricinfo about the courage displayed by players to compete despite injury (physical and mental), as their team (country) needed them. Always it's inspiring to see a player display such guts, be it in Football, Rugby, Cricket, Tennis or some other physical sports.

Sadly, people don't tend to associate that kind of bravery with chess. After all it's hard for a laymen to imagine a chess player overcoming the pain barrier to perform. But how many time's have we given or best despite cold, migraine, etc.

But seriously, I think playing chess and competitive chess requires a certain inner strength. After all, chess is to a large extent about ego and every time a player suffers a setback it's his or her ego that takes a pounding. To expose yourself to that again and again, it takes courage. To sit down and give it your all against a stronger opponent who had beaten you badly, the last time you two clashed takes strength of character.

Certain players have horrible records against a player who is clearly inferior, and tend to lose often against their nemesis. The continuous loss is probably not about chess skill but more about lacking the character to overcome the past.

To take physical knocks and come back for more is admirable, but to carry on after one's world has fallen about one's ears surely requires an effort quite out of the ordinary. (Dick Brittenden)

Chess players constantly display bravery, as much as a NFL Quarterback who puts his body on the line for his team. Only difference is the scars chess players suffer and battle against are in their mind and very few see them.

Of course at no point do I intend any disrespect for Bob Blair, who displayed a kind of inner strength very few ever find within themselves. Very few sportsman or women ever face the kind of challenge he faced with immense inner strength on Boxing Day 1953. Read the following for more about his and his teammates act of bravery.

Beyond the call of duty

Brittenden's tale of Kiwi cricketing heroism

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Position 02

It's another black to move. Find a suitable line to play.

If you can spare some time please click an add just once before you go.

And here is the solution.

Holding Someone Else’s Dream

At least in the Davis Cup you can say there is a doubles event, where two players have to definitely work together. In team chess however the points add up, you just play your game and the other guys play theirs.

However, at amateur level playing team chess is very fun, and in my country the school and club events are even more competitive than some strong opens, simply because of the loyalties involved.

I suppose this is true in most of the team competitions be it an International Team event like the Asian Teams, one of the leagues where the GMs earn an outlandish amount for a club to which they have no tie except as their employer, or a school team championship where you give your all for your alma mator - specially in the first and last groups where playing is more than just about a competitive game of chess and some times carry the hopes and dreams of many others.

So how much do you trust your teammates and how much can they trust you to get the team through? For the performance under pressure will certainly reflect the trust the team has on each other.

Going into a crucial round needing 4-0, it will be very difficult for the rest of the team to make a meaningful effort, if they expect one player to go down quickly. After all, you can only get 1 point, the other 3 will have to get the balance.

Only 25% of your dream of gold is in your hands. The other 75% is in the hands of the other 3. Same way you hold 25% of the precious dream of each of your team mates including those of the non players, who share the dream of victory.

Remember that the next time you sit down at a long table flanked by someone else than a competitor.

Play To Improve While You Can

When I started playing chess and came across various literature one of the most important things that was highlighted to me was the importance of having an objective in my mind. Not just at the board, but in general about how to plan my tournaments and progress. Sadly external factors always prevented such an approach.

Later, as I began to coach I read books about other sports to get some ideas about planning a years schedule for my students and no surprise there too they talk off gradual progress.

Yet today many young players who have serious playing aspirations play in all sorts tournaments. These players are not playing to earn a living, so what is the point of playing in a tournament that will not give you any chance to improve your play? What’s the point of just beating some average players just so you can say you won?

After all when you are in the developing phase ratings, titles don’t mean much. Once your play improves to such a level the rating points and norms will come. But first you have to be good enough to get the points.

The CFSL and several players won’t be happy but late me make a point to illustrate. A player shows a TPR of 2200 in a 2100 event and then expect the guy to touch an IM norm in a 2400 event (TPR of about 2500).

So really when you are improving the gradual path should be to compete against players of equal or slightly stronger strength. If the opposition is too easy you will lose the habit of learning to build and handle pressure, while too strong the opposition you just won’t be able to figure out why you lost except in a superficial way. Here, I don’ mean the chess moves, any strong engine will give you the way you should have played. What I mean is that the errors in thought process that lead to the wrong continuation will be harder for the player to understand.

For example when you work with young children you don’t worry too much about strategy because they will gradually pick it up. It’s the same with players who have reached another stage. They have to pick up the necessary techniques to succeed at that phase over time. The time frame of course can vary with individuals and sadly some may never pick it up, but you should makes some allowance to pick up the finer points.

That is why there is a thing called a learning curve.

And remember they is only a certain time where you can improve. After that its difficult, so make use of the time while you can.

You owe it to yourself!

Position 01

Its Black to move. Make due consideration and suggest a continuation. Be a good bloke and a click an add once if you can spare some time. It's deeply appreciated.

Click here for the solution

FIDE And Meaningless Titles

These days, in its quest to popularize chess (a camouflage for enriching its coffers) FIDE has launched so many meaningless events. I’m not talking about the top events like the Grand Prix, but at the bottom end of the scale.

There are so a many useless events that award titles to winners of junior events that their strength of play does not entitle them to.

Certain Continental Youth events are simply just fought out between the players from the host country, with the so-called donor entries only allowing for a tournament to be kept. (Else it might be only just the player allowed per country plus the additional player allowed for the host nation making a grand total of two players). Yet the winner might walk out with a CM (What’s Candidate Master, any way? Candidate to be a Master?) or if he’s in the right age bracket an FM title.

But the FIDE account is credited with a minimum of 100 Euros per entry in so called FIDE Events and they just keep bidding out to these events. And worse because of the number of tournaments the events clash taking away what ever possibility of any meaningful competition as one event (the real one) attracts the players and the other is fought out between a bunch of pretenders.

Worse is that these events are harmful to developing players in that parents and ‘trainers’ target these events and the player works towards winning this event. Good for him. The bad part is he is compromising his natural development as a player; coaches some times just set him up with some cheap opening traps to win an event and the kid does not learn the correct basics. In fact sometime a game decided by the coach that equipped his student with the latest trap! A kid with proper coaching might make an IM (you can never be sure) but he’s forced to quit that journey to make a side trip so that his Federation can donate some money to FIDE. (Title is free but the badge requires a fee!)

A top player I met said nowadays the titles mean nothing because of such systems and that best is to look at a player’s rating if you want judge his or her rating. Of course I remember many arguing this should be the way and to do away with the titles. Only chess has the titles. No other sport awards such. Mr. Kirsan take note – IOC sports don’t have 1000s of Racketmasters or Grandshuttlers. .

No problem. Just sad that from a time when even a title meant you were at least at one point a very good player, it has just come down to just being a prefix in front of your name.

Friday, January 2, 2009

A Time When Friendships Are Renewed

“Human beings meet while competitors notice how quickly an opponent eats his soup”
Josh Waitzkin on participating in international events where different cultures and mind sets are brought together at the dinner table.

Well, the 13th Battle of the Kings was not even a FIDE Rated event, nor did it involve players of different nationalities, but the atmosphere over the 4 days made me think of Waitzkin’s words as I watched this Inter School team tournament progress. Former school boy competitors dropped in to see how the present set of players were flying their school colours. More, maybe to catch up with old friends who they knew would be there and to recall the old rivalries, jokes and occasionally a memorable game.

In this age of technology, we can keep up with friends with a simple click thanks to various social networks, but there is still nothing to challenge a face to face renewal of friendship.

Chess was certainly the business for the 105 players who gave it their all. But for the vast number of former players turning up it was time to remember and move back to their lives away from the chess board.

New Year Greetings

End of 2008 and the beginning of 2009. Time for the new year wishes.

So I Wish you a Happy New Year 2009, full of success, joy, wealth and health and the little things that bring a smile to your face. And of course full of opportunities to enjoy chess.


Chess and Drugs

For those interested banned substance or performance enhancing drugs are divided in to several categories.

Substances that increase alertness and reduce fatigue. They may also increase competitiveness and hostility. They are banned because they can produce a psychological and physical stimulus which may improve athletic performance. Some physical signs of when you have used stimulant include dilated pupils, increased sweating, nervousness, anxiety, hand tremors, weight loss, insomnia, rapid heart rate and increased blood pressure.

Primarily substances that help overcome effects of pain, some of which include morphine and its chemical and pharmacological analogues. Banned because they mask pain. A false sense of security can cause an athlete to ignore a potentially serious injury, and by continuing to train and/or compete, risk further damage. Also, narcotics may reduce anxiety which may artificially enhance an athlete’s performance.

Anabolic Agents
Synthetic variations of the male sex hormone, testosterone. Natural testosterone provides "anabolic" (muscle building) and "androgenic" (masculinizing) effects. They are banned as using anabolic agents to enhance athletic performance gives an unfair advantage.

Diuretics or 'Masking Agents' cause the excretion of large amounts of urine to eliminate excess body water. They are commonly used by athletes to either gain a quick and temporary weight loss to meet weight categories and to "flush out" other substances or drugs from the body in an attempt to avoid detection of their use. Banned as the use of diuretics to reduce weight in order to compete in a lower weight class or to dilute a urine sample are manipulations that are against the true spirit of sporting excellence - 'cheating' in one word.

Substances used to overcome excessive nervousness or discomfort, allowing to steady hands and be precise in sports involving marksmanship. Banned as the use of sedatives are manipulations against the true spirit of sporting excellence.

In addition there are other restricted substances, including Alcohol and Caffeine and there are several banned doping practices like Blood doping.

Most drugs are harmful and were invented for medical purposes like treating cancer.

So what do you think Vasily Ivanchuk took?

What can we take to increase are performance as chess players?

Read the following.
Drug tests for chess players
Drugs tests at world mind sports games are a riddle
Drug testing in chess and bridge


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