Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Northern Star Chess Squad - Day 4

The final Northern Star Chess Sunday squad session for the term was another enjoyable day at Eltham High.
This week we started with another puzzle, which took a while for the kids to figure out as the solution is somewhat counter-intuitive.
The importance in this position is to make forcing moves, as any non-forcing move allows black to play Rxh6+ followed by c1=Q+, which allows black to get at least a draw, if not more.
The solution is 1.d8=N+ Kf6 2.g8=N+, with a technical win after 2...Rxg8 3.Kxg8 (albeit requiring knowledge of how to checkmate with bishop, knight & king against a lone king), while 2...Kf5 allows 3.Ne7+ followed by capturing the rook, with another technically winning endgame (albeit a little easier with the extra knight).
I also explained to the students how rare such an ending is in tournament chess - I have been playing tournaments for around 20 years & have only had this ending occur once (and that was only last year in the Sydney International)!
For the sake of completeness, here is the game in question, which I played against Emma Guo.

This week's board, with the outline for the day, as well as the final position (actually a few moves after the final position) in the game Georgiev-Rogers, which is one of the best finishes to a game by Australian GM Ian Rogers, who was the 'feature player' of the day.
Ian Rogers was the first Australian born & raised player to become a Grandmaster (Walter Browne was one example of an Australian-born player who became a Grandmaster, but he moved to America at a young age, although he did represent Australia at two Olympiads in the early 1970s). Ian's style was described in similar terms by Doug Hamilton & Guy West in Australian Chess at the Top as a very pragmatic, tactical style. Ian's opening preparation & knowledge, particularly in obscure openings, was also described as particularly strong & I know from experience that Ian can definitely finish an opponent off quickly if they go wrong in the opening.
The first game we looked at was a Rogers' brilliancy from the 1992 Chess Olympiad, against Brazilian GM Gilberto Milos, which highlighted Ian's tactical ability, with both the piece sacrifice 26.Bxc6+ & the final combination beginning with 31.Rdc3 being excellent examples of Rogers in full flight!

The group also looked at the finish to the game Georgiev-Rogers from the Biel Interzonal of 1993, which was another example of a sparkling tactical finish!
Below is the game in its entirety

After looking at these games of Rogers, the group played games which I will analyse later, although from a quick look at some of them, all players need to work on their defensive side of their games!
The final session of the day looked at another example of bishops v knights, this time form the game O'Kelly-Najdorf from the 1950 Chess Olympiad, starting from the following position:
Believe it or not, this position is all about bishops v knights, with the critical pieces being the black knight on c5 & the white bishop on g2, with the resulting position being advantageous to black, as the g2 bishop is hemmed in by its own pawns, while the knight's movement is not restricted in any way. The finish of the game is a very good demonstration of the power of a good knight & the problem of a bad bishop.

I finished off the session with some checkmating patterns, with a somewhat self-indulgent method of looking at checkmates from my own games, with the conclusion to three games being shown to the group.
The first position is from a 2010 game against Ari Dale, where I managed to win as white in the above position, although my method was not the most economical.
The game finished 38. Bd4+ Ka6 39. Qc5 c3+ 40. Kxc3 Qc6 41. b5+ & Ari resigned when faced with various unstoppable checkmate threats (41... Qxb5 42.Qa6# or 41... Ka5 42. bxc6+ Ka4 43. Qb4# or 41... Ka5 42. bxc6+ Ka6 43. Qb6#)
However if I play things in a different move order, the finish is quicker: 38. Bd4+ Ka6 39. b5+! with the following options:
39... Ka5 40. Qb4#
39... Kxb5 40. Qc5+ Ka4 41. Qb4#
39... Kxb5 40. Qc5+ Ka6 41. Qb6#
The second position is from a 2011 game against Kevin Brown, where I won as black with a nice tactic to finish the game (although I am already doing well in the position).
The game ended with Kevin resigning after 39... Rd1, which is a nice deflection tactic, as the queen on c1 is tied to the defense of the b2 square. The kids needed to find not only the winning move, but the variations to checkmate, which run as follows:
40. Qxd1 Qb2#
40. Qa3 Ra1+ 41. Kxa1 Qxa3+ 42. Kb1 Qb2#
40. Qb1 Qa4#
40. Qa1 Qa4#
Any other move allows an eventual Qb2#
The final position is from a 2012 game of mine where I was white against Gavin Marner. It is also one of the many checkmate problems in Gary Lane's recently published book Gary Lane's Chess Puzzles.
The game ended with the spectacular 32. Qxh7+ Kxh7 33. Rh1+ Kg7 34. Bh6+ Kf6 35. Ng8#
The alternative defensive option 34... Kh8 provides no relief for the king due to 35. Bf8#
The difficulty with this position is that if white doesn't find a way to win, black has a number of threats to go with the extra two pawns in the position, so accurate calculation & self-belief are needed to find a way to win the game.

The squad will be running again on Sundays in term 2 starting on May 5, so please contact Pearl Yung at Northern Star Chess or look on the Squad webpage for more details.

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