29 September 2009

Dodging a Bullet

The Fall Club Championship for the Spokane Chess Club began last Thursday. It continues through five Thursdays, plus one week for make-up games. I have never won a club championship, but am the second seed. Last January, I started the Winter Championship as the top rated player, but a late entrant put me at number two. We tied with 2 1/2 each and a C class player that beat me in round one won the event.

In USCF rated play, I've lost four games in 2009. Two were in the last club championship. I should have lost my fifth last Thursday, but my opponent missed several knockout blows, then let me have the advantage.

Stripes,J (1836) - Blue,A (1448) [A09]
Fall Club Championship, Spokane 2009

1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 d4 3.g3 c5 4.Bg2 Nc6 5.d3 e5 6.Na3


6...Be7 7.Rb1N

7.Nc2 h6 8.Bd2 Nf6 9.a3 a5 10.0–0 0–0 11.Rb1 Bf5 12.b4 axb4 13.axb4 e4 14.Nh4 Bh7 15.bxc5 g5 16.Rxb7 Kg7 17.Qc1 Ng8 18.dxe4 gxh4 19.Qb2 Bf6 20.Qb5 Ne5 21.Nb4 Ra5 22.Qb6 Nxc4 23.Qxd8 Bxd8 24.Bf4 Rxc5 25.Rc1 Be7 26.Nd5 h3 27.Bxh3 Bxe4 28.Rxe7 Bxd5 29.Be5+ Kg6 30.Rd7 Nxe5 31.Rd6+ Kg7 32.Rxc5 ½–½ Capece,A-Ranieri,F Bratto ITA, 2006

7...f5 8.0–0 Nf6 9.Nc2 0–0 10.a3 Nh5 11.b4 f4 12.b5 Qb6 13.Bd2 Nd8 14.Nxe5 fxg3 15.fxg3 Qd6 16.Nf3 Bg4 17.e4 Nf7 18.Qc1 Ne5 19.Nxe5 Qxe5 20.Bf4 Nxf4 21.gxf4 Qf6 22.Qd2 Qh6 23.Ne1 Bd6

Will f4 fall?

24.e5 Bxe5 25.Bd5+ Kh8

And only now I see that Qg2 does not win a bishop due to Bh3.

26.Ng2 Bh3 27.Rb2 Bxg2 28.Qxg2 Bxf4

White has problems, but they are not yet fatal.


29.Re2 Bd6
a) 29...Bxh2+ 30.Qxh2 Qg6+ 31.Qg2;
b) 29...Rab8 30.Kh1 b6; 30.Ref2
(30.Rxf8+ Rxf8 31.Kh1 Qh4 32.Bxb7 g5 33.Bd5 g4 34.Qg1 g3 35.Rg2 Bf4 36.Qe1 Qh3 37.Qe7 Qh6 38.Qe6 Qh4)
30...Rxf2 31.Rxf2 Re8


29...Bxh2 30.Rxf8+ Rxf8 31.Qxh2 Qc1+ 32.Kg2 Qxb2+


30.Rbf2 b6 31.Qg4


30...Bxh2 31.Rxf8+ Rxf8 32.Qxh2 Qc1+ 33.Kg2 Qxb2+


31.Qc6 Qh5 32.Rbf2=

31...g5 32.Rbf2 Rh3–+ 33.Qg1?

33.Bd5 Rxd3 34.Rf3 Rxf3 35.Bxf3 d3–+


33...g4 34.Rg2 g3–+


34.Re1 Bg3 35.Qxg3 Rxg3 36.Rxf6 Qxf6 37.hxg3–+


34...Bxh2 35.Qg4 Bd6+ 36.Kg2 Rhf3 37.Qc8+ Rf8 38.Qxf8+ Rxf8 39.Rxf8+ Bxf8–+

35.Rg2= Rxg2 36.Qxg2


The game is turning my way.
36...Qh4 37.Qe2 Rf8 38.a4=

37.Qe2 Be3??

And it has fully turned.

38.Qg4+- Rf6

38...Bf4 39.Qc8+ Kg7 40.Qg8+ Kf6 41.Qf7+ Ke5 42.Re1+ Be3 43.Qe7+ Kf5 44.Qe4+ Kf6 45.Rf1+ Bf4 46.Qe6+ Kg7 47.Qf7+ Kh8+-


Black must lose material and face a hopeless finish, or ...

39...Kg7 40.Qg8# 1–0

Alton scores his share of upsets, and upsets are the norm in our club championships. Lucky for me that he missed some opportunities.

20 September 2009

Keres Attack Thematic Update

In early August, I mentioned in "Intimidation" that I had joined a thematic tournament featuring the Keres Attack. My first round ended this morning with the resignation of one of my opponents. The tournament has sixty-four players, and we are placed into sixteen quads. The members of each group play each of the others in the group two games, one as White and one as Black. I swept my group with a little luck, and I and the player that gave me the most difficulty advance to the next round.

Teamsheets made a few moves in one game, none in the other, and lost both games by timeout. Nevertheless, he managed to take a point from my nearest rival, PhattyNugget. Newt27 played with spirit, but offered me no real resistance.

Both my games with PhattyNugget could well have been losses. I had White in the first, which quickly went down some uncharted paths.

Ziryab (2074) - PhattyNugget (1728) [B81]
Sicilian Defense: Scheveningen Variation, Chess.com (1), 08.08.2009

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e6 6.g4 Nc6 7.g5 Nd7 8.Be3 g6 9.Nxc6 bxc6 10.Qd4 e5 11.Qa4 Bb7 12.Bc4 Nb6 13.Bxb6 axb6 14.Qb3 Qc7 15.0–0–0 Bg7 16.h4 h5

White to move

I was oblivious to the presence of a nice tactic from this position.

Then, my position grew steadily worse as I found few opportunities, but Black was able to expand. Finally, an error by my opponent put us into an period of maneuvering our heavy pieces where I had a bishop against his three connected passed pawns. Objectively, it may have been drawn, but I was able to swindle a win.

More later.

13 September 2009

Alan Turing

Alan Turing is known to chess players for advocating games, chess in particular, as testing ground for efforts to develop machine intelligence, or AI (artificial intelligence). As early as 1944, Turing began developing move analysis algorithms that would be useful in teaching a machine to play chess.
Around 1947-1948 [Turing] and D.C. Champernowne devised a one move analyzer called the TUROCHAMP and at the same time Donald Michie and S. Wylie designed a rival analyzer named MACHIAVELLI. ... These analyzers permitted their creators to simulate the play of a computer that was searching to a depth of 1 ply. They simply hand-calculated the scores of all positions as a depth of 1 and then made the move leading to the one with the highest score.
David Levy and Monty Newborn, How Computers Play Chess (1991), 32
Alan Turing was one of the founders of computer science, one of the pioneers of computer chess, and is perhaps best known as the leading British mathematician on the team that cracked Nazi Germany's Enigma code during World War II. In 1952, Turing was charged with gross indecency because after confessing a homosexual relationship. He was given a choice between imprisonment and chemical castration. He chose the latter; two years later he committed suicide.

Last Thursday, Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown issued a formal posthumous apology to Turing.*

This has been a year of deep reflection – a chance for Britain, as a nation, to commemorate the profound debts we owe to those who came before. A unique combination of anniversaries and events have stirred in us that sense of pride and gratitude that characterise the British experience. Earlier this year, I stood with Presidents Sarkozy and Obama to honour the service and the sacrifice of the heroes who stormed the beaches of Normandy 65 years ago. And just last week, we marked the 70 years which have passed since the British government declared its willingness to take up arms against fascism and declared the outbreak of the Second World War.

So I am both pleased and proud that, thanks to a coalition of computer scientists, historians and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) activists, we have this year a chance to mark and celebrate another contribution to Britain's fight against the darkness of dictatorship: that of code-breaker Alan Turing.

Turing was a quite brilliant mathematician, most famous for his work on breaking the German Enigma codes. It is no exaggeration to say that, without his outstanding contribution, the history of the Second World War could have been very different. He truly was one of those individuals we can point to whose unique contribution helped to turn the tide of war. The debt of gratitude he is owed makes it all the more horrifying, therefore, that he was treated so inhumanely.

In 1952, he was convicted of "gross indecency" – in effect, tried for being gay. His sentence – and he was faced with the miserable choice of this or prison – was chemical castration by a series of injections of female hormones. He took his own life just two years later.

Thousands of people have come together to demand justice for Alan Turing and recognition of the appalling way he was treated. While Turing was dealt with under the law of the time, and we can't put the clock back, his treatment was of course utterly unfair, and I am pleased to have the chance to say how deeply sorry I and we all are for what happened to him. Alan and the many thousands of other gay men who were convicted, as he was convicted, under homophobic laws, were treated terribly. Over the years, millions more lived in fear in conviction. I am proud that those days are gone and that in the past 12 years this Government has done so much to make life fairer and more equal for our LGBT community. This recognition of Alan's status as one of Britain's most famous victims of homophobia is another step towards equality, and long overdue.

But even more than that, Alan deserves recognition for his contribution to humankind. For those of us born after 1945, into a Europe which is united, democratic and at peace, it is hard to imagine that our continent was once the theatre of mankind's darkest hour. It is difficult to believe that in living memory, people could become so consumed by hate – by anti-Semitism, by homophobia, by xenophobia and other murderous prejudices – that the gas chambers and crematoria became a piece of the European landscape as surely as the galleries and universities and concert halls which had marked out the European civilisation for hundreds of years.

It is thanks to men and women who were totally committed to fighting fascism, people like Alan Turing, that the horrors of the Holocaust and of total war are part of Europe's history and not Europe's present. So on behalf of the British government, and all those who live freely thanks to Alan's work, I am very proud to say: we're sorry. You deserved so much better.

"I'm Proud to Say Sorry to a Real War Hero," Telegraph

*Hat tip to Ed Brayton at Dispatches from the Culture Wars for bringing this apology to my notice.