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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, April 14, 2011

Can’t anybody play this game?
Albany narrowly beats RPI

By Peter Henner

It is now mid-April, and the Capital District Chess League is in full swing.

The two Troy teams, RPI and the Uncle Sam Club, have almost completed their schedules, while the Saratoga B team and the powerful Albany A team have only played one game each.

The Saratoga A team leads, 3 ½ - ½ (three wins and a draw against the Schenectady A team).  The Schenectady Geezers are 2-0, Schenectady A 1 ½  - ½ , followed by the Albany B with 2 -1, and Albany A with 1- 0.

Saratoga B  0-1 lost its first game to Saratoga A, while Uncle Sam is at 2-3 and RPI is winless at 0 - 6.

Albany-RPI Match

Although the RPI team has not been successful, its members played hard in every match, and have been very sportsmanlike. Perhaps their best chance to win a match was their match against Albany B, which, in terms of the quality of chess playing, was one of the worst matches in the Capital District Chess League in recent years.

Albany B was very lucky to win the match by a score of 2 ½  - 1½.  The first board match between Carlos Varela of RPI and myself for Albany ended quickly when Varela blundered a piece on move 13.

Varela plays stronger than his 1662 rating, and, in fact, his rating has been rising in the last year or so.  He had obtained a strong position, and I was very fortunate to have the benefit of Varela’s mistake.  Despite a rating advantage of 250 points, I could easily have lost. 

The Board 2 encounter between RPI's Brian Furtado and Albany’s Art Alowitz, which ultimately decided the match, was truly horrible. Both players are rated in the mid-1500s; but played 1000 points below their ratings.

Alowitz won a Rook for a Bishop early in the game, which, under normal circumstances, would have been more than enough. However, he promptly blundered a Knight back, and had a clearly inferior position.

Furtado offered a draw on two occasions, and, sitting on the next board, I tried to contain my disappointment and annoyance when Alowitz blithely played on, ignoring the offer of a draw. After the game, I asked Alowitz why he turned down the draw; he responded by saying that he had his hearing aid turned down, and never heard the draw offer. 

After declining the draw offer by his silence, Alowitz proceeded to blunder a Rook for a Knight, and was thus a full piece behind. Nevertheless, Furtado allowed Alowitz to repeat the position three times. However, Alowitz did not claim the draw to which he was entitled; instead, he offered a draw which Furtado, with an easily won game, declined. 

However, Furtado blundered again, and the players reached an even position. The position simplified to a simple drawn King and pawn and versus King ending. However, somehow Furtado managed to misplay it, and Alowitz ultimately won the game.

The Board 3 encounter between Max Katz of RPI and Jared Gonzales of Albany ended in a draw. It was a hard-fought game, with chances for both sides, and resulted in an interesting theoretical end game, which neither side could win.

The Board 4 encounter between Y. Naamad of RPI and Ken Rossman of Albany was also very sloppy. Although Mr. Rossman, rated about 1300, boldly sacrificed a Rook for a Knight to obtain an attack, he was unable to properly follow up his sacrifice.

Both sides made a series of incredible oversights in a very tactically oriented game. Rossman missed two opportunities to obtain a crushing material advantage, which would have decided the game. Instead, the game simplified to an end game where Naamad had three connected passed pawns, and was able to force the queening of a pawn and the winning of the game.

Albany-Saratoga match

In the Albany B - Saratoga A match, won by Saratoga 3½  - ½, Rossman’s  very interesting style of play was almost successful against expert Gordon Magat, the  runner-up for the Albany Championship, who was playing third board for Saratoga. Rossman had a very good position, and Magat stated, after the game, that he would have accepted a draw, had Rossman offered one, despite his 700-point rating advantage.

In other games in the match, Saratoga Champion Steve Taylor defeated Albany B’s John Morse on first board, long-time expert (now high Class A player) Gary Farrell defeated Albany’s Chuck Eson on fourth board and Saratoga's Jonathan Feinberg drew me on second board.

Saratoga had a rating advantage of 150 points on boards 1 and 2, and 900 points on Board 4 and, obviously, was overwhelmingly favored to win the match.

The Saratoga B team commenced its play in the league with its match against the Saratoga A team. Although the Saratoga A team won 3 - 1, Alan LeCours, a Class A player who is not always rated high enough to play for the super strong Saratoga team, lost to Jason Denham, a 1300 player who is clearly underrated by several hundred points.

Denham played very strongly in the Albany Championship, including a win against Glen Perry, and near misses in his games against tournament winner Dean Howard and myself.

This week’s problem

Generally, the world championship is decided by a match between the recognized champion and a challenger established by a series of challenger matches. However, the International Chess Federation, FIDE, has conducted a knockout championship for a number of years.

This week’s problem, submitted by Daniel Van Riper of Albany, is from the 1997 FIDE World Championship. White has a forced mate in four moves, not counting the possibility of some spite checks that could make the process longer but the key first move is somewhat surprising and not easy to see.

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