Steinitz - Chigorin   Havana 1892 White to move and mate in 6 moves

Solution: 24. R:h7+ K:h7 25. Qh1+ Kg7 26. Bh6+ Kf6 27. Qh4+ Ke5 28. Q:d4+ Kf5 29. Qf4 mate  

Alexis de Toqueville is best known for his classic work, Democracy in America, which was published in 1835 after his two-year tour of the United States. Toqueville had persuaded the French government to send him to the United States on the pretext that he was going to study American methods of handling convicted criminals. He is reported to have said that the measurement of a society is the nature of its prisons.

It would be interesting to see what Toqueville would say about the Special Housing Units of New York State correctional facilities. About 5,000 inmates are locked in cells approximately 100 square feet, 23 hours a day, and are allowed out only for “recreation” in a small pen.

Although the inmates can communicate with other inmates by yelling across the cellblock, they are not permitted to participate in any programs, and access to the outside world is severely limited. Some of the inmates are sent to SHU for months, if not years; many of them have serious mental health problems, or develop them as a result of the stress of the solitary confinement.

Nevertheless, some inmates in SHU, known as “the Box,” play chess, usually for postage stamps as they are not permitted access to money. Although few, if any, inmates have ever played in formally recognized tournaments, the quality of play can be surprisingly strong. Some players demonstrate a keen sense of tactics, even though, at times, their knowledge of theory may be weak.

Some years ago, I played a correspondence game against an inmate whom I was advising on legal matters. Although he was not very good, he did persuade me to play a game against another inmate, Damian Coppedge, who goes by the name of Focus, who is a particularly interesting man and a very good player.

Focus was convicted of manslaughter in 1998, at the age of 21, and he is presently serving 19 to 22 years. In prison, he has become a committed Buddhist and an accomplished writer and poet.

Over the last two years, we have been playing four games: Although I have won two of them, and will almost certainly win a third, all of the games have been hard-fought, and Focus has demonstrated a thorough knowledge of the openings, imaginative and creative play, and a good fighting spirit. The fourth game, which is now in its 31st move, is an extremely complicated tactical game, and it is by no means clear who is winning. 

Focus was sent to the SHU in the Southport Correctional Facility as the result of a fight with another inmate, which he felt he could not avoid. Southport is one of New York State’s two “super max” facilities; all of the inmates are in SHU.

Apparently, despite the disparateness of the inmate’s situations, there is still an active chess culture. Focus sent me two games that he played against another inmate — one that he won and one that he lost — and a third game, against an inmate named Foots, who introduced himself by asking, “Do you know anything about chess?” This was followed by a boast that he would “crush” Focus in any book games.

Mr. Foots claimed to have been a very successful player in New York City’s Washington Square Park and to have memorized the standard reference work, Modern Chess Openings.

Focus – Foots,

Southport C.F.

October 6, 2013 

1.e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 de 4. N:e4 Nd7 5. Bd3 Ngf6 6. Ng5 e6 7. N1f3 Bd6 8. Qe2  h6 9. Ne4 N:e4 10. Q:e4  Nf6 11.Qe2 c5 12. dc B:c5 13. Bd2 Qb6 14. O-O-O. 

All of the moves up to now have been played by strong players, and the game is still within Houdini’s book lines: somewhat remarkable for a game played between two inmates without formal chess training.

Now Houdini indicates at least four master games with 14.. Bd7 15. Ne5, and White has a small advantage. However, Mr. Foots wisecracked, “Let me gobble up this pawn you don’t want,” and played 14..B:f2?. This is a mistake. 15 Rhf1 Bc5. White’s lead in development and open lines now give him a significant advantage, even a pawn behind.  

16. Bb5+? and Focus gives it away. 16 Ne5 would have maintained White’s advantage 16.. Bd7 17. B:d7 N:d7.

Houdini says the position is equal, but now Focus tries an unsound sacrifice, which should have lost.  18 Ba5?  Q:a5  19. R:d7 K:d7 20 N:e5+. This kind of hyper-aggressive chess is not unusual for prison chess — sometimes, as here,  it actually works. If 20.. Kc8, 21 N:f7 Rf8 22. Q:e6+ Kb8, White  is down a Rook for a pawn and could resign, but Mr. Foots played 20..Ke8. and lost after  21. N:f7 Rf8? (Kd7 or Ke7 would have kept the game going) 22. Q:e6+  Be7 23. Nd6+ Kd8 24. R:f8+ B:f8 25 N:b7+ Resigns.

Focus won 10 stamps, and the satisfaction of shutting up someone he described as “full of bombastic b.s.”

Club championships

The three largest local chess clubs — Albany, Schenectady, and Saratoga — have all commenced their championship tournaments.

Thirteen players are competing in Schenectady, which will be directed by Phil Sells, including former champions Carl Adamec and John Phillips. Two of the participants from last year, Carlos Varela and Zachary Calderon, are now established Class A players, and are legitimate contenders, along with Jon Leisner, Mike Mockler, and myself.

Albany, like Schenectady, has adopted a round-robin format for its 16-player tournament. The highest rated player is 2012 champion Dean Howard, an Expert who will be challenged by seven A players: last year’s co-champion Mockler, Gordon Magat, John Jones, Tim Wright, John Lack, new member Jeremy Berman, and myself, as well tournament director Glen Perry, whose rating is now just below the Class A threshold at 1782.  The Albany tournament also features two new unrated players, Mahmoud Ramadan and Will Stephenson.

The Saratoga championship will be a double round-robin tournament with seven players, including defending Champion Jonathan Feinberg, last year, Schenectady Champion David Finnerman (who could not play in the Schenectady championship this year due to scheduling conflicts), Gary Farrell, Glen Gausewitz, Bill Little, Josh Kuperman, and David Connors.

This week’s problem

Wilhelm (later William) Steinitz (1836 -1900) was the first undisputed world champion, winning the title either in 1866 against Adolph Anderssen or in 1886 against Johannes Zuckertort, before losing it to Emmanuel Lasker in 1894.

He took breaks from competitive chess, and his career as a chess journalist was sometimes marked by controversy due to his bluntness, but he made a modest living as a chess professional, both before and after he moved to the United States in 1883.

He played two matches for the World Championship against the Russian Mikhail Chigorin in Havana, in 1889 and again in 1892. One of the more famous games of the second match is the 4th game, where Steinitz has an obvious forced mate after a hard to find first move. 

The match between the Albany and Schenectady chess club is one of the highlights of the Capital District chess calendar, and a good cross section of the Capital District chess community participates.  Since several strong players are members of both clubs, and it is common for “ringers” from Rensselaer County or Saratoga to play for one club or the other, winning the match does not confer significant bragging rights, and the match is usually a very friendly affair.

This year, the match was contested on Oct. 3 on 11 boards at a time limit of 90 minutes per player for the game. Albany ended a two-year drought by winning the match, 6-5.   

Last year, Schenectady was propelled to victory by sweeping the top four boards, 4-0. This year, Albany, scored 4-1 on the top five boards to secure the match win. Five of the six players who competed in the finals of the Schenectady championship participated in the match: two played for Albany (Mike Mockler and myself) while three played for Schenectady (Dave Finnerman, Carl Adamec, and Carlos Varela). Mockler, Finnerman and myself, as well as Cory Northrup, Bill Little, and Jon Leisner are members of both clubs.

The Board One match-up between Albany’s Dean Howard and Schenectady’s Peter Michelman was very even for 15 moves when Michelman made a very weak move, which permitted a winning attack.

The games on Board Two (Jeremy Berman – Carl Adamec) and Board Three (Gordon Magat – Jon Leisner) were described by Eastern New York Chess Association blogger Bill Little: “Careful play by both sides [led] to logical draws.”

On Board Four, Mockler and Schenectady Champion  played a complicated game, typical of their usual match-ups; this time won by Mockler.

I won an interesting game against John Phillips on Board Five (see below). On Board Six, Bill Little, playing Black, established equality fairly quickly, and the game was drawn.

On Board Seven, Bill Townsend (who also directed the match)  won a Rook for a Bishop, and held on to win against Glen Perry. On Board Eight, Zachary Calderon defeated Cory Northrup.

On Board Nine, Mike Laccetti, rated 1625, almost upset Carlos Varela, rated 1839; Laccetti was up a piece when his clock ran out and he forfeited. On Board Ten, a rapidly improving Tom Clark drew Schenectady President Richard Chu.

Finally, on Board 11, Albany President Arthur Alowitz defeated Joel Miranti, rated 500 points lower.  Last year, Schenectady’s large rating advantage on the lowest board gave the club a relatively easy point: This year,  Albany had the edge.  

Phillips – Henner

(Dutch Defense) 

1. d4 f5, 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 e6 4. c4 d5 5. Nf3 Nbd7 (c6 is more common)  6. cd (0-0 is probably better)  ed 7. 0-0 Bd6 8.Nc3 c6 9. Qc2 Ne4 10. Nd2 Ndf6 11. f4? (The position had been pretty even — now Houdini says Black is up 0.3  because the Knight on e4 can not be dislodged) 0-0 12. Nf3 N:c3 13. bc Ne4 14. Ne5 Qc7 15. c4 Be6 16. c5 Be7. 

According to Houdini, White is now slightly better.  17. a4 I had been expecting Bd2, and considered offering a draw soon thereafter.  The advanced knights cancel each other, and I thought it would be difficult for either side to make any progress.  a4 may be OK, but I thought I had some play now.

Qa5 18. Rb1 Rab8 19. Rd1 Houdini says White still is up .2, but the fireworks are about to begin. I had been threatening to play Qd2 or Qc3, and try to infiltrate White’s position. Both John and I thought Black had an initiative, and John thought a long time before playing Rd1.

After the game, he wondered if there were any good moves for White here.  While he was thinking, I analyzed my reply, and concluded that Rd1 loses for White – as it turns out I was wrong. I thought for about ten minutes and played Nc3, and after 20. Bd2, I immediately responded with N:e2+. 

Now Houdini says that White is up 1.7! After 21. Kf2 N:d4 White is down two pawns, but both John and I had missed  22. Qa2 Q:c5 23 Bb4,where White regains material and keeps the advantage. But after 22. B:a5 N:c2 23. Nd3 (I had expected Bc7, which may be a little stronger) Bd8 (23..Na3 was significantly better, because 23 ..Bd8 permits White to minimize the damage with 24. B:d8).  24. Bc3 d4  Black is up two pawns and has a positional advantage – Houdini says Black is up 2.1).

25. Bd2 Bf6 26 Ba5? Ne3 27. Re1 Bd5 (Bc4 was stronger) 28. B:d5 N:d5 29. Re6 Kf7 30. Rd6 Rfe8 31. Nb4? (this is a very bad move – but it creates a lot of complications and we both had less than ten minutes to play. The correct response, which puts the game away is Nc3. I suspected as much during the game, but didn’t have the time to calculate everything, so I played the safe Be7 32. Rd7 Ke6, and after one last desperate try:  33. N:c6 K:d7 34. N:b8 R:b8 35. Rb5 Kc6, White resigned. 

Horowitz – Amateur, Simultaneous Exhibition, Los Angeles 1940

White to move and mate in 4, or (6 with nonsensical delaying move). Scroll down for the solution.

 

There is an episode of the old TV sitcom, Leave it to Beaver, where the sleazy Eddie Haskell tries to cheat Wally Cleaver in chess by removing a Bishop when Wally is not looking. Chess players, of course, know that this is absurd; any chess player would be sufficiently aware of the position to notice such an action immediately.

Chess, unlike say poker or bridge, is a game of perfect information; both players have complete and full knowledge of the board, and success is determined solely by one’s skill in moving pieces on the board.

So, one might think it is impossible to cheat. However, now that chess computers are stronger than the best human players, cheating, especially in high-level competitions, is becoming a serious problem.

Last month, a German International Master, Jens Kotainy, was disqualified from a strong European tournament, after the director had observed that he was reaching into his pocket to check his cell phone after every move, and the cell phone was observed emitting vibrations that could have been a code. 

The problem was discussed at length in a January 2013 letter from University of Buffalo Computer Science Professor Kenneth Regan (who is also an International Master) to the Association of Chess Professionals.

Professor Regan analyzed the results of the 2012 Zadar Open, and in particular the allegations against the Fide (Fédération internationale des échecs) Master Borislav Ivanov, who scored 8-1 to win the tournament with a performance rating of 2697.  He concluded that there was a strong correspondence between the moves made by F.M. Ivanov and a computer program and the odds of such a correspondence were 1,000,000 to 1.

Regan also strongly stated that the statistical evidence of such a correlation was secondary to actual observations of cheating, but nevertheless he believed that such evidence had a role to play. Indeed, it was precisely that statistical correlation between computer moves and the moves played that led the tournament director to investigate I.M. Kotainy. 

During the course of a chess game, a player is not supposed to receive any assistance from other players, have access to chess books, or, of course, use a computer. In a recent tournament, my friend Alan LeCours was accused of cheating by his opponent because his opponent had heard me asking LeCours how his game was going even though we did not discuss the position, and, of course, I did not and would not have made any comments or suggestions about moves to play.

In the early 1980s, a friend of mine from college, who was a tournament director himself, reported an incident of cheating that resulted in an International Master’s disqualification from the World Open. The I.M., once known for his encyclopedic knowledge of the openings, stepped out of the tournament room and visited a bookseller and was observed leafing through a book describing the unusual line of a particular opening that he was playing.

However, such incidents were rare; generally, strong players do not need, and could not get, meaningful assistance during the course of the game.

Cheating in chess did not usually involve activity at the board.

To be sure, there were incidents of players agreeing to throw games, to enable other players to win tournaments or achieve “norms” for titles. (I have heard rumors that at least one United States Grandmaster in the 1980s achieved his title by such arrangements.) And some players would lose games on purpose to artificially lower their ratings, so they could win large cash prizes in lower rated sections, a practice known as “sandbagging.”

The United States Chess Federation has adopted rating “floors,” 200 points below a player’s highest rating, in a generally successful effort to stop sandbagging. However, what took place at the board was usually open and honest.

Computers changed all that. For example, the standard time control in top-level international tournaments was 40 moves in 2 ½ hours, and games used to be adjourned after five hours. If the game had not been completed, the players would customarily analyze the position overnight, sometimes with the help of an assistant.

This meant that players competing for world championships depended heavily on a very good grandmaster assistant, or, in the case of certain Soviet players, a whole team of assistants. Today, there are no adjournments: Time controls have been adjusted so that the game is completed at one sitting. 

Big-money postal chess tournaments are also a thing of the past: It is just too easy to cheat by using a computer to analyze a postal game.

However, the use of computers to cheat in over-the-board games is a relatively new phenomenon. The problem, if not addressed, could severely interfere with chess competition, not only at the highest levels, but also in recreational tournaments, where, say, a class B player accesses a computer to win a money prize in an Under-1800 section.

This week’s problem

Israel Albert (Al) Horowitz, a youthful chess hustler in Times Square, who went to Wall Street, and then left it to devote himself to chess, was one of the top United States players in the 1930s and 1940s, but was best known as a promoter of the game, as the chess correspondent for The New York Times, a founder of Chess Review, and is the author of many chess books.

He “never took chess or himself too seriously: chess was a science, yes; a sport, of course; and art, to be sure; but it was also a business,” according to Burt Hochberg, a chess expert and author who died in 2006.

Horowitz was famous for being a “chess vagabond,” giving many simultaneous exhibitions. In the position below, he has forced mate in four moves. His opponent could have made a nonsensical move, which would have delayed the mate, but would still have permitted a pretty mate in six. 

Chess Solution

11. Q:g7+  K:g7, 12. Bh6+ Kg8, 13. Rg6+ hg,  14. Nf6 mate (if 13…fg 14 Nf6 is still mate). The nonsensical move 13.. Qg7 is met by 14. R:g7+ Kf8, 15 R:g8+ K:g8, 16 Nf6 mate.  

Tags:

Reshevsky–Zabludovsky
Simultaneous Exhibition, Berlin 1920
White to move and win

Alexander Ivanov, a veteran Grandmaster from Massachusetts, drew his last game against fellow Grandmaster Joel Benjamin to score 5-1 (four wins and two draws) to win the $1,500 first prize in the 135th New York State chess championship, America’s longest running chess tournament.

Grandmaster Alexander Stripunsky (who lost to Ivanov in Round 5) and Benjamin tied with Nicholas Checa, Stanislav Busygin, and Igor Nikolayev for second through sixth places with scores of 4 ½ - 1 ½.

However, the New York State championship is awarded to the highest scoring New York State resident and 11-year-old Checa, the 2013 New York State Junior High School Champion, edged Nikolayev on tiebreaks for the title.

Two years ago, three New York State high school students tied for first, but chess champions are getting younger. Checa is believed to be the youngest Champion in the long history of the tournament. In 2012, he placed 10th and won the prize for best score under 2200; a year later, his rating is up to 2296.   

The under-2100 and under-1800 sections also show that chess is not a game dominated by older men: Both sections were won outright by women.

Rifeng Xia won the $1,000 first prize in the under-2100 section with a score of 5 ½ - ½. Her last-round opponent offered her a draw, and a certain share of the prize money, but she declined, and held on to win.

Sarah Ascherman won the $1,000 first prize in the under-1800 section with a score of 5-1, drawing against another woman, Xiaoyu Xu, in the last round; Xu  finished in a five-way tie for second with 4 ½ - 1 ½.

Thomas Clark, of the Albany club, scored the largest rating gain of any local player, raising his rating from 1425 to 1587 as he won the $800 first prize in the under-1500 section with a score of  5 ½ - ½.

A local scholastic player, Ronghai Gong, won the $500 first prize in the under-1200 section with a score of 5 ½  - ½.

Two-hundred-and-eleven players competed in the tournament, held over Labor Day weekend at the Albany Marriott; at least 32 were from the Capital District.

In the Open section, local high school student Patrick Chi drew Grandmaster Benjamin and had a chance to tie for first if he had prevailed against his second grandmaster opponent, Stripunsky, in the last round. Although he lost and finished in a tie for eighth-to-ninth place, with 4-2, he still gained 33 rating points (up to 2253).

Ashok Aaron, the father of soon-to-be senior master (over 2400) Deepak and fast-rising Dilip,  played in his first tournament for some time (not counting the Schenectady speed tournaments that he has dominated the last two years).

Although none of the 10 local players finished in the money in the under-2100 section, Phil Thomas and Phil Sells both finished with undefeated scores of 4-2, drawing their last-round game with each other.

Thomas raised his rating over 2000 to become the Capital District’s latest expert. Dilip Aaron’s score of 3 ½ - 2 ½ raised his rating 75 points, to 1899.

Nine year-old Martha Samadashvili from East Greenbush, who has only been playing tournament chess for a little more than a year, is now rated 1678, thirty-sixth among all United States 9-year-olds (third among girls)  and is the 2013 North American Youth Under-10 Girls’ Champion.

Her score of 2-4 is misleading: She defeated a 1900 player who made the mistake of playing the risky Morra gambit against her. She had a won game against me, and played all of her opponents very tough. (I will write a feature article about her and her chess-playing family from Georgia in the near future.)   

In the under-1800 section, junior player Michael Ny Cheng, a veteran of our local scholastic Make the Right Move tournaments,  drew two Class B players and defeated another to raise his rating, 93 points, to 1560. Richard Moody, who tied for first in this section in 2012, drew two games against much lower rated opponents before withdrawing.

Local player results

 

Open:

Patrick Chi             4-2

Steven Taylor        2 ½ -3 ½

Ashok Aaron         2 ½ -3 ½

Dave Finnerman    2 ½ -3 ½

Peter Henner          2-4

Carl Adamec          1 ½ -4 ½

 

Under 2100

Phil Thomas           4-2

Phil Sells                4-2

Dilip Aaron            3 ½ - 2 ½

Michael Mockler    3-3

John Phillips           3-3

Kenneth Evans        2 ½ -3 ½

Koushak Pernati      2 ½ -3 ½

Scott Boyce             2 ½ -3 ½

Zachery Calderon    2 ½ -3 ½

Martha Samadashvili 2-4

 

Under 1800

Cory Northrup           3-3

Michael Ny Cheng    3-3

Jason Denham           2 ½ -3 ½

Elihue Hill                 2-4

Arthur Alowitz          1 ½ - 4 ½

Richard Moody         1-5

Lew Millenbach        1-5

 

Under 1500

Thomas Clark              5 ½ - ½

Nitin Obla                   4-2

Pranav Venkataraman 3 ½ -2 ½

Nigel Kent Galia         2 ½ - 3 ½

David Connors            2-4

Nate Stevens, 4-2

 

Under 1200

Ronghai Gong           5 ½ - ½ 

Jankarl Galia             2-4

Blaise Loya               2-4

Melodie Loya            1-5

This week’s problem

The great Samuel Reshevsky, who represented the United States in the six-man World Championship tournament in 1948 and whose chess career spanned seven decades, was a genuine chess prodigy. He was already famous for playing simultaneous exhibitions against Europe’s strongest players before he came to the United States and played chess full-time before finally starting school at the age of 12 in 1924.

Here the 8-year-old Reshevsky finds a neat way to win.

Solution:  28 Qg2 Q:g2+ 29 N:g2.  Black resigns because if 29… R:e7, 30 R:a8 and White’s rook on e1 is protected by the Knight, and 29 Ra7 leaves Black a Knight behind after 30 R:e8. 

Location:

— Photo by Nancy Lawson

Paying homage to a chess great, Peter Henner visited the grave of Bobby Fischer on his recent trip to Iceland.

 

This year, The Icelandic Chess Federation decided to contest the national championship in an open tournament (the Icelandic Open), not only open to all Icelandic players, but also to foreigners.

Four foreign players, including one American, myself, traveled to Iceland to play in this tournament.

Iceland is, per capita, the strongest chess-playing country in the world. Although the population of the country is only 300,000, it has 12 Grandmasters and 13 International Masters.

The country is also famous for hosting the 1972 world championship match between the American Bobby Fischer, and the Soviet Boris Spassky. Fischer spent his last years in Iceland, which graciously provided a home for him after his legal troubles made him persona non grata in the United States.

He is buried in the churchyard of a small rural church, outside of the small city of Selfoss, about 50 miles from Reykjavík.

In many ways, European tournaments are far more civilized then tournaments in the United States. Boards, sets, and clocks are routinely provided, and the boards are set up in advance by the tournament organizers.

The time control uses an “increment” — at the Icelandic Open, 30 seconds — which is automatically added to a player’s time after each move. This means that a player will have a minimum of 30 seconds for every move, which eliminates the horrible time pressure scrambles common to United States tournaments where a player may need to make a number of moves virtually instantaneously.

The increment also means that a player is required to record all of his moves since, as the tournament director explained to me, a player has time to write down his moves. Both players are required to sign and turn in their score sheets, which have carbon copies for the players themselves.

On one occasion, the setting sun was an obvious problem for the players and the organizers scrambled to put up screens for us; this would not have happened at a United States tournament.

Although I was somewhat nervous about possible differences in chess tournament customs (I even e-mailed the tournament website to ask if there was a dress code in the tournament), the scene was generally very familiar to me, except for the amazing lack of conflict and the smoothness of operations.

All the pairings were done by computer immediately after the conclusion of the round; there were no arguments about pairings. Only once in 10 rounds did I hear any arguments at all. Players were generally very polite and courteous, far more than in United States’ tournaments.

The tournament was played on the 20th floor of one of Reykjavík’s tallest buildings, with spectacular views of the surrounding city, harbor, and mountains — at least on the occasional periods of time when it was clear outside; it rains a lot in Iceland. The chess federation was given the site for free, and, while it was very spacious, it was also an unfinished floor with bare concrete walls and the absence of insulation did create a noise problem since the room for analysis was separated from the main tournament room only by a curtain. 

Schenectady teams lead Capital District Chess League

The Schenectady A team has clinched first place in the Capital District Chess League with a score of 4 ½ – ½, with one match left against the Albany A team. Its club rival, the Schenectady Geezers, finished second with a score of 4-2.

The Geezers were undefeated, at 3-0, and defeated the Uncle Sam Club with the help of a lucky win on first board when Phil Thomas tried too hard to win a drawn game and lost. Uncle Sam also finished with 4-2, but placed third on the basis of fewer game points.

However, the Geezers lost to the Albany A team, and then lost a tough match to the Schenectady A team, 2 ½ - 1 ½. There were draws between Phil Sells and Peter Michelman on Board 1, Carl Adamec and Jon Leisner on Board 2, and John Phillips and Dilip Aaron on Board 4. The only decisive game was on Board 3, where Bobby Rotter returned from a long absence from tournament play, to defeat the Geezers Michael Mockler.

The Albany A club is fourth at 3-2. Even if Albany defeats the Schenectady A to finish at 4-2, it cannot gain enough game points to catch Uncle Sam. Albany A is followed by RPI at 2 ½ - 3 ½, the Capital Region team at 1-5, and Albany B, also at 1-5.

Follow-up on the news

My March 21 column described a tragic situation, where Georgian IM Salome Melia was trying to raise money for an operation for a rare medical condition that threatened the life of her five-month-old daughter. There was a tremendous worldwide response to the fund-raising effort. Ms. Melia thanked everyone and announced that the surgery was scheduled for April 2, in Germany. However, neither any chess website, nor Ms. Melia’s Facebook page has any further information. It is good to know that the chess community rallied to Ms. Melia’s aid, and we can only hope that the surgery was a success. 

Sabbatical

I have been writing this column for over three years. As some readers may know, I have recently commenced an indefinite sabbatical from my law practice, to devote the bulk of my time to other activities, including tournament chess, training for a marathon, and scholarly and creative writing.

I will also take a sabbatical from writing this column, at least for this  summer (when there is not too much chess news anyway), and possibly for the rest of this year.

This week's problem

The Uncle Sam Club’s fourth board, Dr. Chibbzo Ilonze, was the Most Valuable Player in the Capital District Chess League this year, with a perfect score of 6-0. As an unrated player, he was able to play fourth board, and, while he did defeat some very strong players, and obtain a performance rating of over 2200, we did not have the opportunity of seeing him play against other top players.

Unfortunately, Dr. Ilonze was only in the area for medical studies for this academic year, and he will be leaving the Capital District soon.

In his last game in the CDCL, he defeated the Geezers’ John Phillips. While Dr. Ilonze played a very strong game, he missed a forced win, which caused the ENYCA blogger Bill Little to comment, “Moves like this … lead me to question if Dr.  Ilonze is actually a 2200 player  [because] a Master is unlikely to miss the killing move  ____.”  See if you can find this killing move yourself.  

Pages