Tuesday, April 30, 2013

White to move and mate in 2

Sam Loyd
White to move and mate in 2
1. Qxb8+ wins the knight and queen, giving an easy win for White

But White wants more. Find a mate in 2

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Find the best move for Black

Find the best move for Black
Source: Deep Shredder

Find the best continuation for White

Dekhanov - K. Yusupov
Uzbekistan 1981 
Find the best continuation for White
Black, on his last move, played 1...Qa6. White resigned on seeing that the the possibility of 2...Qf1# would force the exchange of queens...but he did not see the winning move right under his nose!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Find the best move for Black

Find the best move for Black
Sorry I'm bored

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Grand Prix 4th and 5th legs

To my fellow Black Knights: Grand Prix 4th and 5th legs are out!

4th leg:
Vesak Day Rapid Chess Tournament 2013
Venue: SCF
Time: Friday 24th May 2013 9am to 6pm
Registration fees: $35 per person
Registration closing date: Thursday 16 May 2013 6pm


5th leg:
2nd Teck Ghee CC Family Chess Challenge
Venue: Teck Ghee Community Club, 861 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10 Singapore 569734
Time: Sunday 2nd June 2013 9am to 6.30pm
Registration fees: $20 per person
Registration closing date: Sunday 26 May 2013 7pm


Also, there is another tournament organized by Thomson CC, but it is not part of the Grand Prix. Nevertheless, y'all encouraged to sign up:

7th Thomson Cup Chess Challenge 2013
Venue: Thomson Community Club Hall, 194 Upper Thomson Road Singapore 574339
Time: 25th May, Saturday, 11 am to 6.30 pm. (Rounds 1-3), 26th May, Sunday, 9.00 am to 6.30pm
Registration fees: $30 per person
Registration closing date: Wednesday 22 May 10pm

Note: This tournament will be held over 2 days, and is one hour per side


All the best, and see y'all in the tournament hall soon! (:

Monday, April 22, 2013

Dortmund 1999

Ok guys, since exams are approaching I'll have a lull in the blog updates (so that we'all can concentrate on our studies together). I won't be posting any game analysis during this period, although I may put up the occasional puzzle or two. Once the exams are over I'll resume posting as per normal

But before that I'll post up one more game analysis, this time taken from a game played between two famous grandmasters in 1999. To my fellow Black Knights: The newcomers may find this game familiar, because it was featured in your skill assessments.

The game was annotated by Kramnik in his book Kramnik: My Life and Games, and also in by How to calculate chess tactics  by GM Valeri Beim. I'll make use of their commentary here:

Vladimir Kramnik vs Veselin Topalov
Dortmund 1999

1. d4 Nf6
2. Nf3 d5
3. c4 c6
4. Nc3 a6
5. c5 Bf5
6. Bf4 Nbd7
7. e3 e6
8. Be2 Be7
9. Nd2 Bg6 (D)

In this variation of the Slav Defence, White's last move is often considered the most principled method of fighting for the advantage. Black's bishop retreat is based on the fact that after 9...0-0, White can begin a pawnstorm with 10. g4!? Bg6 11. h4, which forces Black to waste tempo

10. b4 Qc8
11. O-O Bd8
12. Rc1 Bc7
13. Bxc7 Qxc7

Black exchanges off his passive dark-squared bishop for the opponent's more active one.

14. f4

To prevent 14...e5


Black takes steps to defend against White's possible pawnstorm, but this move also causes a lag in development and weakens the centre

15. e4 Ne7
16. f5!? (D)

Kramnik assessed his move with the comment: "A very risky move, but I was keen to sharpen the struggle. It was possible to continue more slowly with 16. Qe1!?"

If Black accepts the pawn sacrifice, the subsequent pawn capture will lead to the temporary fencing-in of his g6 bishop and e7 knight, with the latter also blocking the e-file. This will give White a temporary advantage which he must make use of immediately

17. exd5 cxd5

Kramnik points out that the two variations 17... Nxd5 18. Nc4 O-O 19. Nxd5 cxd5 20. Nd6 and 17...Nxd5 18. Nc4 Nxc3 19. Rxc3 0-0 20. d5 give White a strong initiative

18. b5 O-O
19. b6 Qd8
20. Nb3 Nf6
21. Na5 Rb8
22. a4 Ne4

23. Na2 (D)

Position after 23. Na2
This move prepares the jump of the knight to the powerful b4 square, but it also loses some time in the tempo battle. Let's take a step back and analyze the current position

Firstly, a quick look at the board is enough to see that White enjoys a lot of space and an extra pawn on the queenside. With the enemy's c6 pawn out of the way, he has control over the c-file, aided by the advantageous posting of his rook on c1. His advantage is further realized by the fact that most of Black's pieces are trapped on the kingside-- notably the g6 bishop-- and are unable to aid the defence.

Now, White's plan will be to target the b7 pawn-- the base of Black's pawn chain, which can be taken out with sacrifices such as Bxa6 and Nxb7. Once eliminated, Black's queenside will collapse, allowing White's forces to flood through.

Black, on the other hand, has a firm outpost for his knight on e4. Despite his cramped position, he still enjoys material advantage on the both the centre and kingside. Thus the most direct plan for him would be to free up some space on the kingside so as to realize this advantage.

During post-game analysis, both Kramnik and Hubner pointed out the most direct continuation: 23...f4!, freeing up space for the trapped bishop on g6 and allowing for immediate counterplay (while it gives White a free pawn, it does not lead to material disadvantage for Black; notice that Black is merely returning White the sacrifice)

Due to the complicated nature of the resulting variations I will not show any continuations after 23...f4


Back to the game, Black played a move that would seem fairly obvious to all of us, but later proved to be a mistake:

23...f6? (D)

You may ask...why the question mark!? And true, that was my first reaction when I first saw this move. Indeed, f6 does not seem like a mistake at all; rather, it helps Black to free his g6 bishop and prepare to take control of the e8-a4 diagonal. But as the game progressed, I realized the reason why this was actually a mistake. I'll try to put down the explanation in words, but forgive me if it turns out to be confusing:

In such a tense and complicated position such as this, both sides are racing to realize their advantages before their opponents do, and thus tempo is of great importance. Unlike 23...f4!, 23...f6 does not strive for immediate counterplay; rather, it is a time-wasting move that gives White the lead in tempo. Not surprisingly, White does not hesitate to exploit this advantage, and launches his attack first:

24. Nb4 Be8
25. Qc2 g6
26. Rb1 Rf7 (D)

And now, White lands the blow which his entire strategy is based upon: Elimination of the b7 pawn

27. Nxb7! Rxb7
28. a5 Nc6
29. Nxc6 Bxc6
30. Bxa6 Rb8
31. Bb5 Qc8
32. Bxc6 Qxc6
33. a6 Kg7 (D)

With much fewer pieces on the board, White's queenside majority becomes even more obvious than ever. Now, the Black Queen is the only piece which obstructs the enemy pawns, thus White's subsequent plan is directed towards the exchange of queens:

34. Rb4 Nd6
35. Qa4 Qxa4

36. Rxa4 Nc8 (D)

Black resists as stubbornly as he can, but now nothing can stop the White pawns from marching to promotion:

37. Rb4 Na7
38. bxa7 Ra8
39. c6 Raxa7
40. Rc1

Final position after 40. Rc1
And thus I'll stop here and give y'all a break. All the best for your exams! (:

1. "Kramnik: My life and games" by Vladimir Kramnik
2. "How to calculate Chess Tactics" by Valeri Beim

Friday, April 19, 2013

Black Knights Internal Tournament Round 3 Table 1


What starts out as a typical Sicilian Dragon position finishes off with a twist!

Table 1: Checkerboard 2 vs Checkerboard 28
Black Knights Internal Tournament, Round 3 (12th April 2013)

The following position was reached after the following moves:

1. e4 c5
2. Nf3 d6
3. d4 cxd4
4. Nxd4 Nf6
5. Nc3 g6
6. Bd3 Bg7
7. Be3 O-O
8. Qd2 Bd7
9. h3 Qb6
10. O-O-O Nc6 (D)

Find the best move for White
Stop! Before you continue, take a look at the diagram...and find the best move for White

Done? It should seem quite obvious...
11. Ne6!

Black now has to make a painful choice between his rook and his queen

12. Nxf8 Rxf8
13. a3 d5
14. exd5 Nxd5
15. b4? (D)

Find the best variation for Black
Whoops...looks like a few middlegame mistakes by White has allowed the game to swing in Black's favour. Now, find the best variation for Black!

Shouldn't be too hard either...
16. Kb1 Nxc3+

Final position after 16...Nxc3
White resigned due to the variation 17. Qxc3 Qxc3 with Black having a decisive advantage and mating chances

What exactly went wrong with White's game? Analysis by Fritz showed that Checkerboard 2 was retaining the advantage after 11. Ne6...until he played the mistake 15. b4? that cost him the game

Better would have been 15. Nxd5 Qxd5 16. Bxg6! Qxd2+ 17. Rxd2 Be6 18. Be4 (D)

Position after 18. Be4
And White can simply trade off his minor pieces to win the rook-pawn endgame

During game analysis, Sean also pointed out an interesting thought: What if after 11. Ne6 Qa5, White had taken the fianchettoed bishop with 12. Nxg7 instead?

Quoted from the FB group: "This is why you whack the bishop. Trade away two minor pieces for a rook and a minor piece instead of one knight for one rook. Then in the simplified game you get a lower chance of being mated and can slowly wear opponent down."

So let's see, after 12. Nxg7 Fritz proposed the variation 12...Kxg7 13. Bh6+ Kg8 14. Bxf8 Rxf8 15. g4 (D)

Position after 15. g4
And White still stands at an advantage, though admittedly not as obvious as the previous variation with 12. Nxf8

The full game + variations is shown here:

Once again, all comments/alternative viewpoints are welcome!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Hi peeps!

Apologies for not having posted in such a long time! I'm currently caught up in my overdue assignments/Chess Camp planning, but I'll get down to analyzing your third round games during the weekend. So do be patient! (:

In the meantime, here's a puzzle to perk u guys up:

Volkov vs Khalifman
Sochi 2005
Find the best variation for White

Friday, April 12, 2013

Details for Open House

-Morning shift: 8.30am to 11.30am
-Afternoon shift: 11.30am to 3.30pm
-Location of our chess booth: School Hall
-Lunch will be provided
-What tasks we'll be doing: Playing chess with the kids, running around persuading them to come to our booth

...Something quite similar to CCA fair 2013

Have fun peeps!

P.S. In case you're feeling low today, here's a picture to brighten up your day:

...if you get what it means

Sorry Phyllis, I do not harbour any ill-intent towards you with this picture.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Some important figures in the local chess community

Like I promised last time, we'll take a look at some important figures in the local chess community to let y'all know better. So here goes:

Ignatius Leong
FM and International Arbiter, president of the Singapore Chess Federation (SCF). He is also the Secretary-General of FIDE.

For the uninitiated, the Singapore Chess Federation (SCF) is the principle authority over the chess community in Singapore, organizing/co-organizing most of the local tournaments (including the two National Inter-School Championships in March and September). They also oversee the training of the National Junior Squads and the National Team. All updates on recent tournaments/events can be found on their website:


Philip Chan
Head of the Singapore Chess Academy and the Eastern-Knights Chess Club.

The Singapore Chess Academy is another major chess organization in Singapore located in Joo Chiat Road, and caters mainly to chessplayers residing in the eastern enclaves of Singapore. It has organized several other tournaments, such as the Inaugural All-Saints Chess Challenge held in March 2013


Thomas Hoe
Executive-Director of the SCF, chief-arbiter for many of our local tournaments (in case you don't know, he was the guy who took the arbiter's oath in this year's National-Schools Individuals).

Zhang Zhong
China-born grandmaster, currently No. 1 on the SCF National Rating list. He has represented Singapore in the 40th FIDE World Chess Olympiad 2012

Lim Chye Lye
International arbiter, Chairman of the Queenstown CC chess club. And to my fellow Black Knights-- by now, you SHOULD know that he is also our trainer!


Once again, there are many other important figures which I do not have time to list here, but you can always look up! Below is a link to the staff and ExCo members of the SCF:


Feel free to add in anything you feel is important!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

7th Hwa Chong Chess Championships, Round 5 Table 2

Here is a long and interesting game by Checkerboard 22 during the 7th Hwa Chong Cup, where the advantage changes hands frequently during the game. Both sides also missed quite a number of winning opportunities...

Opponent vs Checkerboard 22
7th Hwa Chong Chess Championships, Round 5

1. e4 c5
2. d3 Nc6
3. f4 d6
4. Nf3 Bg4
5. Be2 Nf6
6. c3 a6
7. h3 Bd7
8. Be3 Qb6
9. Qc2 e6
10. Nbd2 Qc7
11. O-O b5 (D)

Rather than complete development, Black chooses to go straight onto the offensive

12. Rac1 Be7
13. Qd1 Qb7
14. Nh2 b4
15. Rb1 a5
16. Bf3 Qb5
17. c4 Qb8
18. Re1 Ra6
19. Bf2 e5
20. f5 Nd4! (D)

The knight occupies an important outpost on d4. Exchanging if off will give Black more space in the centre.

Also, note that the position is starting to become more cramped, which will become of significance later on during the game.

21. Bxd4 cxd4
22. Qe2 Ba4
23. Rec1 Kd7
24. a3 Bc6
25. g4? (D)

While on hindsight this move seems to reinforce White's spatial advantage in the kingside, it however cuts off his bishop on f3 from the rest of the game. I expect that freeing it will have considerable difficulty

26. Kf2 b3 (D)

And by not taking the pawn on g5, White has effectively made a prisoner of his bishop on f3. Let's do some logical analysis of the position:

-We have already pointed out the problem with White's bishop on f3
-White's h2 knight is also passive at the moment, but might still be able to get back into the game via Nhf1-Ng3-Nh5. But after the exchange on h5 Black can respond with h6!, and the f3 bishop remains a prisoner
-Black also has an inactive bishop on e7
-White has a solid pawn structure on the kingside, while Black enjoys more space on the other wing

So we can expect White to have problems trying to achieve a breakthrough. The most direct continuation suggested by Fritz would be 26... Qc7 27. Nhf1 Rb8 28. Ng3, where White can try to open up more space on the kingside with 29. Rh1 and 30. h4

As for Black, I feel that he can look over to the other side of the board where he can advance down the queenside and possibly free his e7 bishop in the process. He can further exploit the fact that the enemy's bishop on g3 cannot interfere with any offensive operations. So when I looked at the position, the first move I proposed was bxa3, to which Fritz showed me the continuation: 26... bxa3 27. bxa3 Rb6 28. Qe1 Rxb1 29. Rxb1 Qa7 30. Nhf1 Rb8 31. Ng3 (D)

Which gives Black a slight advantage. Note that White's f3 bishop remains inactive, and Black can play Ba4 to restrain it even further

But now, lets get back to the game. Rather then concentrating on the queenside Black decides on an alternative plan, this time placing the White king in the middle of his cross-hairs:

27. Bg2 a4
28. Bh1 h5
29. Bf3 hxg4
30. Bxg4 Nxg4+?!  (D)

But...why? I thought the knight was more valuable than the bishop in this position!

31. Qxg4 Rh4!

And now the purpose behind 30...Nxg4?! reveals itself to me O:

32. Qg2 Qh8

A strong alternative would have been  32... Rf4+ 33. Ndf3, with the Black rook firmly entrenched in White's camp

33. Kg3 Qh6
34. Ng4 Qh7
35. Nf3 Rh5
36. f6 Bd8
37. c5 Bb5
38. Rd1 dxc5

39. Nfxe5+! (D)

Ouch...looks like the initiative has swung over to White

40. Kf2?

White misses the opportunity presented to him by his 39th move! More persistent would have been 40. Rbc1, tying down Black's pieces. Now the game simply dies down to another deadlock

40... Bxf6
41. Nxf6 Kxf6

Over here the players stopped recording, so I don't really know how the game continued. But I heard that Checkerboard 22 eventually outplayed his opponent in the endgame...or so I saw from the results. Hence the 0-1

Anyways, a quick look at the position doesn't show any clear advantage for both sides. The most direct continuation would be 42. Rbc1 Kxe5 43. Rxc5+ Ke6 44. Rxb5 Rxh3 with neither side having an edge over each other:

Once again, all comments/alternative viewpoints are welcome!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Some important figures in the International Chess Community

So...during last Friday's CCA session, I was talking about how we should keep up with the times, and so I decided to go around and ask my juniors: Who is the current World Chess Champion?

The Year 1s all gave the same answer: I don't know

WTH. Seriously.

Imagine if someone else asks you the same question, and you shake your head in puzzlement. That's gonna be really...paiseh, isn't it? A chessplayer and you don't know what's going on in the rest of the chess world

So to my fellow Black Knights...here are some important figures in the International Chess Community (pun intended) that you will want to find out more about:

Viswanathan Anand
Indian grandmaster, current World Chess Champion. He won the FIDE World Chess Championship in 2000, lost it in 2002, then won it back again in 2007. He has successfully defended his title in 2008 (against Vladimir Kramnik), 2010 (against Veselin Topalov) and 2012 (against Boris Gelfand). He will attempt to defend his title again during the World Chess Championship 2013 this October/November, with his challenger being World No. 1 Magnus Carlsen

*Speaking of which, don't mix up World Chess Champion with World No. 1! The World Chess Champion is a title attained after winning the World Chess Championship; World No. 1 will refer to the highest ranked player in the FIDE rating list*

And speaking of World No. 1, we move on to...

Magnus Carlsen
Norwegian grandmaster, current World No. 1. His peak rating is 2872, which is the highest in history. In the London Chess Classic 2012, he increased his rating from 2848 to 2861, breaking Kasparov's former peak record of 2851

He won the Candidates Tournament in March 2013, earning him the right to challenge Anand in the World Chess Championship 2013

Levon Aronian
Armenian grandmaster, current World No. 2. He has represented Armenia in the FIDE World Chess Olympiads 2006, 2008 and 2012. The Armenian team has emerged as champions for all 3 Olympiads

In the 2013 Candidates Tournament, he came close to overtaking Carlsen in Round 10, but eventually finished in 4th position

Vladimir Kramnik
Russian grandmaster. He defeated Kasparov in 2000 to clinch the title of Classical World Chess Champion (back then the chess community was still divided between FIDE and the PCA/WCC) and held the title from 2000 to 2006. After the reunification of the 2 rival championships, he became the undisputed World Chess Champion in 2006, before losing it to Anand in 2007

In the 2013 Candidates Tournament, he finished off in 2nd position behind Magnus Carlsen

Veselin Topalov
Bulgarian grandmaster. He was the FIDE World Chess Champion from 2005 to 2006, and for several brief moments from 2006 to 2008 was the World No. 1. He was the challenger against Anand in the World Chess Championship 2010, but failed to clinch the title

Vassily Ivanchuk
Ukrainian grandmaster, known to many as an eccentric chessplayer with erratic results. He was the World Blitz Chess Champion from 2007-2008

In the 2013 Candidates Tournament, he defeated both top players Carlsen (Round 12) and Kramnik (Round 14), but finished off in 7th position)

Judit Polgar
Hungarian grandmaster, the strongest female chessplayer in history


There're many other important figures that you can look up on, but I don't have the time (and space!) to list them all here

We move on to local figures next time. Meanwhile, feel free to add on anything else you may find important!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

HCI JC Cup-- venues

So to make it clear to my fellow Black Knights who're going for the HCI JC Cup...here's the map of Hwa Chong:

So...venue for Day 1 is the HCI Student Activities and Leadership Training Centre (SALT) centre in the High School section, circled in red on the figure. Venue for Day 2 is the HCI College Hall located in the JC section, circled in yellow on the figure.

Directions to HCI can be found in the docs that I've emailed all of you

Yeah, I know it seems really convenient for them to place the venues for both days on opposite sides of the campus. But ah well...

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Find the best move for Black

Stefansson vs Ngyuen Ngoc Truong Son
Dresden Olympiad 2008

Find the best move for Black!