Scholastic Chess Gateway - The latest news about chess people, organizations and websites

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The King Wants to Join the Party

All chess players learn early on to tuck their king away safely in the corner behind a phalanx of pawns, especially while the fireworks are going on elsewhere on the board. But sometimes the king wants to join the fun!

In ChessCafe's newest column, GM Efstratios Grivas presents quite a number of positions, all in the thick of the middlegame, in which the king plays a crucial part in the fighting. He ventures out among the heavy artillery and, at least in most of the games Grivas writes about, lives to tell about it.

You can read this fascinating column here.


Ask Bruce

Bruce Pandolfini's latest ChessCafe column is now online and he answers a number of interesting questions:

  • "I remember reading somewhere that you advocated taking one’s time if one’s opponent were in time trouble. That doesn’t seem right to me. Shouldn’t you be moving quickly, hoping to make the opponent forfeit?"
  • "I would like to begin tutoring students in chess when I move to the USA...My question is – once I arrive, what steps do I need to take?"
  • "My coach is 2220 (FIDE) and in our last meetings he asked me to play (without clocks) against him in positions in which one side had a great advantage (positional and or material). He played the weaker side, but I always lost. Is this kind of training necessary for someone to improve? Or is he trying to show me that I’ll never beat him? Do you play out positions against your students?"
  • "Why do you think someone who starts later in their study of chess cannot become a grandmaster? Is it because older players may not have the time to study seriously or is it because the mind becomes set in its reasoning?"
  • "The position from the end of the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer has now become famous. It is also imperfect. Larry Evans and others have shown there is an error and Poe (Sarwer) could have drawn. Don’t you think the game, which is supposedly a championship game, should have been chosen more carefully?"
You can read the entire column, including Pandolfini's answers, here.


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Special Attraction for OCF North American FIDE Open

WFM Elizabeth Vicary describes the recent OCF North American FIDE Open in Stillwater, Oklahoma in her article at Chess Life Online. She writes:

"The tournament organizer, Frank Berry, offered any FIDE rated woman free entry, hotel, transportation from the airport in Tulsa (70 miles!), and a $500 appearance fee. There was even a separate $4,500 prize fund for women that exceeded the overall prize fund. This seemed absolutely incredible to me, and something I would be crazy to turn down. Apparently, IM Irina Krush, WGM Camilla Baginskaite, WIM Nadia Ortiz, WIM Batchimeg Tuvshintugs, WIM Alexey Root, WFM Bayaraa Zorigt, WFM Tatev Abrahamyan, WFM Iryna Zenyuk, WFM Lilia Doibani, WCM Judit Simo, Tatiana Vayserberg, Vanessa West, Simone Sobel, Becky Huang, Stephanie Ballom, Sarah Chiang, Courtney Jamison, Stephanie Pitcher, Helen Jamison, Sylvia Yang, and Alexa Zolman all felt the same way!"

Elizabeth has included a number of games from the tournament, as well as several photos, plus some interesting comments from some of the male participants!


Monday, February 26, 2007

Chess Classifieds

The McPherson Sentinel in Kansas reports that the Karpov Chess School in Lindsborg, Kansas "has an immediate opening for a full-time chess director to teach introductory and advanced chess to students in the central Kansas area...The ideal candidate should have a USCF rating of at least 1800, plus a passion for chess promotion."

If you're interested, e-mail your resume to Marck Cobb ( or to Wes Fisk ( The report can be viewed here.


Latest Column by GM Raymond Keene

Popular writer GM Raymond Keene reviews the chess background and accomplishments of two-time British champion Bob Wade at Chessville. He includes three of Wade's games, one annotated by Keene and the other two annotated by Wade himself.

Keene writes: "Wade was struck by the phenomenal ability of USSR training methods to produce seemingly endless legions of world class Grandmasters. He took it upon himself to distil the essence of Soviet methods and to implement what he could in the UK environment."


Review of Silman's Complete Endgame Course

In my opinion, IM Jeremy Silman is one of the best chess authors around, and at Chessville you can find a very thorough and extensive review of his latest venture. Michael Jeffreys discusses the new book Silman's Complete Endgame Course and I'm ready to go out and buy it now. Jeffrey's conclusion: "I won’t beat around the bush: Jeremy Silman has written hands-down the best endgame book ever."


Sunday, February 25, 2007

Problem # 31

This position arose after the following moves:
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Bxc6 bxc6 5.0–0 d6 6.d4 f6 7.dxe5 fxe5 8.Nxe5 dxe5 9.Qh5+ Kd7? (diagram above).

This isn't the most difficult chess problem you'll come across, but how quickly can you determine White's best move?

Check your answer here.


Problem # 30

It is White to move and win.

The solution can be found here.


Saturday, February 24, 2007

GM Magnus Carlsen Blog

Our thanks go out to GM Susan Polgar who points out that GM Magnus Carlsen has a new blog, written by his father Henrik Carlsen. Polgar and Mig Greengard recently had a chance to speak with Henrik - you can read Polgar's interview with him at her blog.


Move Slowwwly ...

“How many bad moves does it take to lose a chess game?” asks NM Dan Heisman in his latest Novice Nook column at ChessCafe. His reply: "The answer is one of the few concepts upon which almost all chess players agree: it takes only one move to lose a game!"

In order to minimize the risk of making that one critical bad move, he emphasizes the importance of taking your time and using nearly all of your allotted time in the game. If you find your results have been less than satisfactory lately, take the time to read this column!


Friday, February 23, 2007

Looking for Marines Who Can Pin Their Opponents

The United States Marine Corps is accepting applications for six positions for the 2007 Marine Corps Chess Team, according to a report in the Marine Corps Times online news service. Active duty Marines who are members of the United States Chess Federation are eligible to participate and can obtain an application form (due by April 16) here.


All of Our Videos!

Here is a comprehensive list of all of the videos we've displayed or linked to:

February 2007:

January 2007:

December 2006:

November 2006:


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Chess is Hot!

Photo credit: Jennifer Shahade

At Chess Life Online, WGM Jennifer Shahade writes about the "Burning Boards" exhibit at New York's Whitney Museum. At this interesting gathering of chess players and art lovers, Jennifer discovered a new method of "removing the defender." She simply had to wait for it to melt!

You can enjoy the photo essay here.


Idaho Chess Report on Fox TV

Dan Hamilton of Fox 12 News in Boise, Idaho reports on the 61st annual Idaho State Chess Championship. It's a nice piece of upbeat coverage, including discussion of up-and-coming 8-year-old Luke Harmon.

The video can be seen here, and a transcript is available here.


Go, Anyone?

A Reuter report from yesterday states, "Computers can beat some of the world's top chess players, but the most powerful machines have failed at the popular Asian board game 'Go' in which human intuition has so far proven key."

No word yet on whether a "Fischer Random Go" is in the works.


Basic Rules of Chess

Jussi Linkola has produced an attractive interactive presentation of the basic rules of chess, including how to set up a board and how each of the pieces move. He also includes an instructive and entertaining 1858 Paul Morphy sample game.

You can find this page here.


College Chess League Tournament Set to Begin

The College Chess League enters its second year, with a spring team event scheduled to begin Sunday, February 24. Games are to be played Sunday afternoons in a four-round swiss format, at a pace of game/90, with a 30-second increment per move.

As of this writing, 14 teams from eight universities have registered, but there is still time for additional teams to join (but not much - registration closes tomorrow evening!). No prizes or trophies are awarded, but there are also apparently no fees to pay.

For more information, visit the College Chess League home page, or you can go directly to their registration page.


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

U.S. Amateur Team South Report

A nice photo essay authored by Harvey Lerman has been posted at Chess Life Online, covering the recently completed U.S. Amateur Team South tournament. His report notes the success of 10-year-olds Lucas van Buezekom and Joshua Harrison, as well as the highly-rated Louiza Livschitz.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Review of Winning Chess Puzzles for Kids

I recently reviewed Jeff Coakley's superbly fun book Winning Chess Puzzles for Kids for ChessCafe and this review is currently posted at their book review page.

Here are a couple of my comments:

"Immediately upon opening Jeff Coakley’s Winning Chess Puzzles for Kids, the reader will be struck with the feeling that this is a fun book, not just another chess puzzle book to challenge the mind.

At the start of the book, the author writes, 'If you like chess, you came to the right place. This workbook is full of fun puzzles and challenging problems that will help you become a better player.'

In my opinion, Winning Chess Puzzles for Kids meets this goal and then some. Not only will readers improve, they’ll do so without the drudgery of page after page of textual explanations and endless variations."

You can also read the entire review at the ChessCafe archives here.


Problem # 29

White to move and win.

The solution can be found here.


Monday, February 19, 2007

Bishop and Rook's Pawn Ending

In Steve Giddins' excellent new book 101 Chess Endgame Tips, published by Gambit Publications, he states, "It is well known that bishop + rook's pawn do not win if the bishop does not control the queening square and the [opposing] king can get in the corner."

For example, he provides the following position:

In the game, White played 1.Kc4? b5+! after which the Black king shuttles between b7 and a8 to draw. Instead, Giddins says, White could have kept Black out with 1.Kd4! Kc6 2.Bb6 Kd6 3.Kc4 Kc6 4.Kb4 Kd6 5.Kb5 Kd7 6.Kc5 Kc8 7.Ba7 Kc7 (7...b6+ 8.Kxb6, or 7...b5 8.a6) 8.Kb5 Kd7 9.Bb8 Kc8 10.Bf4 Kd7 11.Kb6 Kc8 12.Bg3 and White wins.

But now look at the following position:

As you can see, the White bishop does not control the queening square for his rook pawn and the Black king is already in the corner. It should be a dead draw, right? Giddins demonstrates how White can yet pull out an elegant win:

"This would be a draw without the second Black pawn on g5, but here 1.Bh7 g3 (forced) 2.hxg3 g4 (no stalemate!) 3.Be4 wins, since White has transformed his h-pawn into a g-pawn."

It's an excellent book, full of such examples of precise endgame play.


Sunday, February 18, 2007

Problem 28 - Eight Queen Puzzle

The Chess for Children website offers a difficult puzzle - the goal is to place eight queens on a chess board such that none of them attacks any other. You can find the interactive page here. It allows you to click on one square at a time, after which the board is updated to indicate every square controlled by all the queens on the board. It's not easy!

Here is one solution presented by the Chess for Children website.


Saturday, February 17, 2007

How Not to Repair Your Chess Clock

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Endgame Analysis by ICCF GM Yoav Dothan

In Chessville's News & Notes 14, ICCF GM Yoav Dothan includes quite a bit of both endgame and middlegame analysis covering a number of different games from various events. There's enough here to keep you busy for much of the weekend!


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Problem # 27

White to move and mate in three.

For the solution, click here.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Further Analysis of Wojo's Games

In Part II of Jonathan Hilton's Chess Life Online series covering openings of the late GM Alex Wojtkiewicz, three heavily-annotated games are included. Jonathan is only 16 years old, but is a talented writer and candidate master.

Our post regarding Part I of the series, including a link to the original article, can be found here.


Latest Columns at ChessCafe

My February 2007 Scholastic Chess column is now available at ChessCafe, featuring annotated games by FM Ray Robson and IM Jacek Stopa. Ray and his father discuss Ray's recent chess growth and we also cover the recent U.S. Chess School session, held in Arizona.

You might also want to take a look at Mark Dvoretsky's The Instructor column. He describes some of his early work with young players and includes an annotated game between one of those students and GM Larry Christensen.


Puzzles 21 - 40

Click the links below to access our puzzle numbers 21 through 40:(remaining puzzle links will be posted when they appear)


Puzzles 1 - 20

Apparently the blogger platform only permits a maximum of twenty posts to be displayed when a relevant label search is done. For example, if one wants to search for all posts in this blog containing the label "puzzle," only the most recent 20 posts will be shown, even though there are additional posts with this label.

This post serves to help overcome this limitation.

Here are links to our first 20 puzzles:


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Twist on the Simultaneous Exhibition

I found this interesting video at ChessBase. I'll guess you probably haven't been to a simul quite like this.

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Brief Biographies of Top U.S. Players

If you haven't already seen it, the USCF maintains a page of biographies of some of the top U.S. players here. It doesn't include everyone of interest, but as of this writing, 29 players are profiled.

Nimzovich Revisited

In an earlier post, I noted a fascinating game that Aron Nimzovich included in his classic My System.

GM Lubomir Kavalek has also written about this game in his Feb. 12, 2007 column in the Washington Post.

You might want to use these two articles at the same time. You can play the game online at my post while reviewing Kavalek's annotations.

Monday, February 12, 2007

What Did They Do When They Weren't Playing Chess?

From the archives of Chessville comes an interesting list produced by Bill Wall. It lists the profession(s) of perhaps a couple hundred chess players over the years.

Among some of the findings:
  • Prominent tournament director Carol Jarecki is a pilot.
  • Elliot Winslow gave up serious chess to become a professional backgammon player.
  • Boxers include Arnold Denker (Golden Gloves) and Max Euwe.
  • George Koltanowski was a diamond cutter.
Enjoy the article here.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

TV Report: Junior Chess in Australia

Note: The volume is quite low in this video clip, so be sure to turn your computer audio up a bit!


1000 Kids Play Chess in Australia


Saturday, February 10, 2007

GM Susan Polgar Annotates

If you follow GM Susan Polgar's blog, you know she frequently provides in-depth analysis of recent games, either in the blog itself, or via links to her articles elsewhere. Here are three recent annotations, all available from the online version of Chess Life Magazine:

And here are a number of her annotations, from the blog itself, from the January Corus tournament:

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GM Yasser Seirawan Annotates

GM Yasser Seirawan's latest Inside Chess column at ChessCafe is now available. As always, he provides in-depth analysis of a game from the past. This month it's a Sicilian Scheveningen between John van der Wiel and Jaan Ehlvest.


Friday, February 09, 2007

Problem # 26

White is to move and mate in three.

You can find the solution here.


One Year of Game of the Day

Beginning Feb. 9, 2006, began publishing its Game of the Day. You can reach their Game of the Day Archive to find every game since. Each game is given a clever title, such as "Don't Judge a Rook by Its Cover," "Pawnslaught" and "Marshall Arts."

Congratulations to ChessGames on their Game of the Day one-year anniversary!


Thursday, February 08, 2007

R+P Endgame Analysis by GM Alexander Baburin

Currently in the Skittles Room at ChessCafe and archived here, GM Alexander Baburin has a very instructive article entitled "What to Do When Your King is Cut Off." He presents a number of examples in which a Black rook is preventing the White king from reaching a Black passed pawn, and how both players should proceed in each example. Quite informative!


Problem # 25

It's Black to move and win.

Click here for the solution.


Post Index - February 2007

We're now over 200 posts, with most of them fitting into one or more categories below. Here are some easy links if you'd like to read/review some of the information at this site:

You can also do a quick search of the entire blog by entering your search term in the rectangular box at the upper left of the page and click the "Search Blog" button. Or, if you're looking for a post from a specific time, you can click on the appropriate month in the Archive list on the right side of the page. You'll then see all posts for that month.

In addition, don't forget to check out our "Important Links" on the right side of the page. You'll find countless links to great chess sites as well as helpful information, such as lists of the current top junior players in the U.S. as well as worldwide, and a quick link to the USCF member rating page to easily look up your (or anyone else's!) rating.

Also, don't overlook our "Links to Great Downloads" over there on the right side of the page. You'll find links to thousands of downloadable games and to hundreds of annotated games. If you're looking for a stack of chess puzzles, see the link above, and we've got some great chess videos (link also above) for a pleasant change of pace.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Illinois Players in Top 100 Lists

ChessDad64 of the 64 Square Jungle blog spent some time putting together a list of Illinois players in the latest USCF Top 100 list. GM Yury Shulman, ranked #10 in the U.S., tops the Illinois contingent, with five other Illinois players in the Top 100.

He also lists the 64 Illinois players ("I am not making that number up," ChessDad says) aged 7-18 who appear on the Top 100 list for their age group. You can find this informative post here.

Wouldn't it be nice if every state honored its Top 100 players similarly? If readers are aware of other similar posts at blogs or websites, let me know and I'll try to include relevant links. Congratulations to ChessDad on his fine effort putting together this list.


Carpool Chess

There's a very cute essay written by Tracy Curtis in the Charlotte Observer. It's about a chess mom who doesn't know much about the game but observes the maneuvering, both on and off the board, between kids not far removed from diapers. Here's a brief snippet:

"We resume today's game when I pick up my 4-year-old, Colton, and his opponent from school. She has the advantage. She is smart, and she is 5, and she never lets Colton forget it. Colton jumps right in and moves a pawn forward with his announcement that at lunch he threw a grape in the air and caught it in his mouth.

"I'm telling your teacher on you," she says. "You told on me when I was fighting with my sister and now I'm telling your teacher on you." And with that, her queen takes his knight.

Mmmm -- that was fast. He's in for it today -- and he knows it. He opts for the simple solution -- sacrifice a bishop and apologize for getting her in trouble. Then get on with it."


Mark Weeks Blog Tripping in January

Mark Weeks, Guide for the chess site, has posted his "Blog Tripping in January" article which points out numerous blogs worth visiting. It's well worth the time to review.


Chess and Ring Pops

Michael Goeller of The Kenilworthian has another great article in his Teaching Chess to Kids series. In Part VI, he discusses the nearly miraculous effects of ring pops, if used properly. Michael also has some tremendous links in this and other posts.

For example, he has a very informative and entertaining review of I just read. I especially recommend his "Best of..." links.

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New Column at ChessCafe

Hannes Langrock

A new column has appeared at ChessCafe, entitled "From the Sidelines," by 23-year-old German FM Hannes Langrock. In his inaugural piece, Hannes reviews various lines of the Classical French Defense.


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

It Would Have Been 52 Years

My dear mother, pictured above with my father and son Joshua, passed away a little over four years ago. Today would have been their 52nd anniversary.

IM Irina Krush in Gibraltar

IM Irina Krush has written a great insider article at Chess Life Online about her games and experiences at the recent Gibraltar tournament. She annotates her first round victory over 2700-rated GM Vladimir Akopian, shows GM Hikaru Nakamura's best game of the event and discusses his "extracurricular" activities, and discusses the ups and downs of playing 75-year-old GM Viktor Korchnoi.

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10-Year-Old Wins Moscow Tournament

As GM Susan Polgar posts in her blog, 10-year-old Ukrainian Illya Nyzhnyk won the Moscow Open B section against primarily 2000+ rated opponents. He carries a 2217 FIDE rating himself.


Problem # 24

It is White to move and win.

The solution and interesting final position can be found here.


Polgar's Pick - Annotated Game

This month's Chess Life Polgar's Pick column by GM Susan Polgar and FM Paul Truong is available here. It provides a deeply annotated game played by GM Alex Shabalov last year at the Isle of Man tournament.


16-Year-Old Magnus Carlsen Wins Blindfold Tournament

GM Magnus Carlsen (left) and GM Peter Nielsen

GM Emanuel Berg (left) and IM Steffen Pedersen

ChessBase reports that super-GM Magnus Carlsen won the Faaborg-Midtfyn Cup (that's easy for you to say!) on the Danish island of Funen. Four players participated in a blindfold double round robin tournament with the time control of 25 minutes plus 20 seconds per move.

In this case, however, the players weren't actually blindfolded or even turned away from a board. They entered their moves on a computer whose screen displayed only an empty chess board. The opponent's moves appeared on the computer in algebraic notation.


Monday, February 05, 2007

Nice Review of 2006 National Youth Action Tournament

Mark Taylor writes a nice summary of the 2006 National Youth Action event in Atlanta. You can find this insider's view here.


More on David Bronstein

Chess Life Magazine has an article posted today entitled First Moves: GM David Bronstein, 1924-2006. It includes first-hand accounts of Bronstein's personality and his chess, as described by GM Arthur Bisguier and IM Georgi Orlov.

Describes Orlov: "He had a good sense of humor, lived a long life, and enjoyed the great respect of his colleagues and the love of chess fans."


Super Bowl Commercials 2007

I didn't find many of this year's Super Bowl commercials to be very entertaining, but here are a few that I liked:

Coca Cola Happiness Factory:

Great Apes:

New Steak Grilled Taquitos:


Men of the Year:


Snapple's Green Tea:

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

The World's Greatest Chess Games

In 1998 Graham Burgess, John Nunn and John Emms published The Mammoth Book of The World's Greatest Chess Games. It contains 100 games, each annotated by one of the authors. You can find these games, although without the annotations, at the following sites:


Saturday, February 03, 2007

Problem # 23 - from "The Evergreen Game"

It's White to move and win in this famous 1852 game.

You can find the solution to this classic position here.


Problem # 22 - from "The Immortal Game"

It's White to move and mate in three in this game from 1851!

For the immortal solution, click here.


Friday, February 02, 2007

Video: Orrin Hudson on Life and Chess

I recently wrote a post noting that my review of Orrin Hudson's book One Move at a Time is now online at ChessCafe. You can learn more about Orrin's wonderful chess activities in the television report that you can find here.


Interesting Chess Fundraiser founding partner and school chess coach Gretchen Zaitzeff has found a way to both lose weight and raise funds for a local chess group. "I had lost a total of 12 inches on [her company's] Cinch the Inch Loss Plan since the beginning of the chess season, but I needed more motivation to stick to it all winter," she is quoted as saying in this press release.

I don't know how the "inches lost" are measured, but Zaitzeff has promised to donate $10 for each inch lost from the beginning of the chess season through March 1, to the Bloomington Normal Area Scholastic Chess Association, which is trying to raise funds to buy chess boards for the upcoming Illinois State K-8 Chess Tournament.

Ms. Zaitzeff may be on to something here. I could envision community-minded business owners having some sort of special sale, donating a portion of the proceeds (i.e. one dollar per item) to a local school chess club or tournament in return for the good publicity generated. Or, closer to the weight loss story above, maybe a local weight loss clinic or gym could hold a month-long contest in which it donates a dollar for every pound that its members lose during that month.

Any other ideas for creative fundraisers?


Thursday, February 01, 2007

Problem # 21

It's White to move and win.

You can find the solution here.


Review of One Move At A Time

One of my recent book reviews appears this week at ChessCafe. It is for Orrin Hudson's helpful book One Move At A Time. It can also be found in the ChessCafe archives.


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