Friday, 24 August 2007

Looking forward

Apologies that the output on Chess Tales has been fairly sparse during August, but we are going to finish the month on a real high.

We have a great chess essay from a young woman player in the States, which with her permission, we'll serialise next week. We'll then follow that up with a review of a very exciting and novel (excuse the pun) chess book, that's due to be published in September. We've even got some copies that we'll be giving away as competition prizes.

The ever popular Friday Chess Puzzle will be up and running again throughout September and beyond, which, of course, will be accompanied by our usual eclectic mix of tournament coverage, opening reviews, great games, and trips to the chess attic.

Up, up and away!

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

One step forward, Two steps back

Martin Seeber writes for chess tales:

My daughter Sophie played in her last UK chess challenge competition over the weekend in Leamington Spa. She has competed every year since she was 9. This year she had qualified for the Terafinal, a champion of champions event, in which children from all ages do battle for a £2,000 prize.

Her progress in the event was very up and down. In round 1 she played an u9 boy, it was a Queen's Gambit Declined and he was swinging his feet together in excitement. The game started and in the opening he lost a pawn. It was then that he suddenly got up from his chair and announced that he had to go out for a breath of fresh air. He came back and Sophie tore away his centre pawns. Good start I thought.

She then played Philip Makepiece in round 2, he was one of the favourites. Sophie was on the black side of a Sicilian and they castled on opposite sides, when that happens its like Blitzkrieg (lightning war) as both sides rush in. Sophie pushed a pawn into c4 but as Philip had a pawn on c3 we thought it was best to advance the b pawn down to b4 so it could change with its white rival. The battle went on for nearly two hours before Sophie's king, breathless couldn't quite match Philip's. Philip's prize was to sit on board one for the next game. For Sophie a step back.

Round three a Queen's Indian and a promising position faded away. We couldn't work out what had happened. She had an attack but black defended and she didn't really want to talk about it. So we went to this bar in Coventry to have tea and she cheered up a bit. I had a stella and I cheered up a bit. Overnight we woke at 4 in the morning and we started talking about the game and then we are calling out move sequences for better attacks, suddenly white is winning with a beautiful temporary sac, that's right leave the bishop on f6 and run the h-pawn. Then she says Dad where is his other minor piece? I dunno I said. Is on f8 ? No the rooks there. You changed it off for your Knight on f3. Ah christ that means you haven't a knight for the mating attack. Forget it I said play your pieces back and across to the centre. Yes that's it, put the telly off we are going back to sleep.

Next day I had a great chat with Dominic Rabbitte's dad. He is telling me about Golf and he talks about a titanic match between Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus. One's up, then its equal and so on. Finally Player downs a wonder put to win it and then he is champion and he is interviewed. Gary explain's his approach to sport. 'I seem to get luckier the more I practise.'

Sophie practices a bit but then there's the waitressing, boyfriending, A-levelling. Then she's back with a big smile. 15 moves dad, mate dad. Well done, in the back of the net Soph. That's when coach here probably made a mistake to point out that as the leading girls had all lost, she needed two more points and there was a chance of tieing for first. Dad don't go there she said.

She was playing really well. She spotted that her opponent had opened her kingside with h6-g5. Normally we all know to try and bust it open with h4. But Sophie came up with a really deep idea she would fasten down the weakness first with g4, then her knight could travel in to f5 from e2-g3. Desperate, the girl counter-attacked, rook e2 check. Sophie needs to block with her rook and the games soon over for black but she moves the king up one. 10 moves later and it all falls apart with the black rook stabbing the white king in the back.

I said Sophie never leave a rook in there like that. You wouldn't leave a rat in your house you'd get it out of there. Then I thought is this my last chess lesson with my daughter?

I stood out in the rain and looked through the windows to try to see some of her last game. She looked tired and kept playing with her hair. Maybe an hour later she had capitulated. 2/6 and we're disappointed, but what a gutsy

Friday, 17 August 2007

World Blind Championships: call for help!

Dave Clayton is desperate for someone to input games at the World Blind Championships in Durham, his inputter fell ill. Can anyone help?
Anyone who can manipulate Chessbase or Fritz please contact dave a.s.a.p. at:

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Attack the Najdorf way

Martin Seeber writes for Chess Tales:

The world has changed.

When you play chess or anything else, the result seems everything. This is crazy its much nicer when we think about the quality of the game and the fun of it all. I told my students about Pele the footballer and that when I was their age they beamed his image across the world on the new satellites. He was very creative and always looking to produce new moves, pushing back the boundaries of the sport. In one game he let the ball cross the box as the keeper came out, he dummied to let the ball run across him and the poor keeper who was left stranded, he ran around the back of him to collect the ball and fired it back towards the net and he didn't score but the result was visually jaw dropping.

Okay so how is this connected to chess? Well I took one chess book on my holidays to Italy and it was Najdorf's life and games by Batsford. I recognised the name when I got the book but what really attracted me was the fact that he came from a different age and he wasn't a world champion. Because to me the game is brilliant because its for all of us.

Najdorf helped develop that interesting opening, the Sicilian defense. Bobby whats his name he played it and Garry that Russian guy who liked to attack used it a bit and even I bought a book on it when I was seventeen. I also knew Najdorf liked tactics and attacks. The book tells how he was left stranded in Argentina as Poland was blitzkrig by the Germans. His family disappeared, he was left with chess.

Sitting in the Italian sun playing through some of the games I thought this guy was amazing.

My daughter Sophie who has played for England this year was sitting beside me and I said look at this game. First there was one sac, then another I then told her that Tal reckoned that two sacs usually sorted the problem and finished off the defense, then came sac three at that stage I said to my daughter who is a very defensive player what will Najdorf do next and she looked at the board and then she said he'll have to sack the knight to win dad. She was right and I burst into laughter 4 sacs to win- magic. Pele! Najdorf!

Martin Seeber

Saturday, 4 August 2007

'Friday' Chess Puzzle 17

Our latest Friday Chess Puzzle...

Ok, I know it's Saturday; my children have been playing in a football tournament this week, which has kept me away from the computer.

... is from Brighton 1983. Nunn won the all-play-all event, with Watson and Short tying for second place. Short was brutal against the overseas opposition, scoring 5 out of 5, but struggled against his fellow brits.

In this position he has the Black pieces, and has just played the seemingly crushing ...Qa3. Can you see how Hodgson, playing White, finished him off?

Answers to Chess Tales. I'll post the solution next Wednesday.

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Local successes at the British Championships

It's good to see some of our local North East players getting off to great starts at the British Championships:

David Eggleston began by holding Grandmaster David Howell to a draw in round 1, whilst Charlie Storey was beating a 2400+ opponent, but pride of place goes to Graeme Oswald. Graeme defeated Grandmaster Glenn Flear in a long battle in round 3, and co-leads the event with an incredibly impressive 3 out of 3. Fingers crossed that he can keep his run going.

You can follow the event (patchily) on the BCF website.

Friday chess puzzle 16: the solution

van Scheltinga vs Stahlberg, Chess 1950

Last week's Friday chess puzzle from Van Scheltinga vs Stahlberg, Amsterdam 1950, generated a lot of interest.

White has just played Bd5, apparently catching Black's knight on e6 in a pair of deadly pins, but Stahlberg found a forced win for Black:

Most of you spotted the first couple of moves without problem:

1 ... Rxd5; 2 Rxd5 Qb7

and then after 3 Qg2, Black doesn't play 3 ... Nf4?? which loses to 4 Rd8!, but instead wins by a lovely queen manouevre:

3 Qg2 Qb1+; 4 Qg1 Qe4+; 5 Qg2 Qxg2+; 6 Kxg2 Nf4+ winning the rook, and Black emerges a piece up.

Congratulations to Paul Devisser, Chris Wardle, and 'averageplayer', amongst others.


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Chess Tales by Roger Coathup: A collection of online articles about chess and chess players.