Wednesday, December 27, 2017

A Little Fun During The Holidays

NOTE: Do not scroll down quickly. Below the diagram are two hints of varying degrees and the very bottom shows the solution!

As all the locals know, the Charlotte Chess Center is closed for two weeks for the holiday break (December 20th through January 1st). The Christmas celebration has passed and the new year is coming. While the chess center takes a break, all the blog readers should get a break as well. And so in order to rest everyone's mind for next Tuesday, instead of brain grinding deep analysis, I'm giving you guys something a little different to solve.

Below is an 8x8 diagram, just like a chess board, filled with letters. Within the diagram is 8 famous chess players, both past and present, each with 8 letters in their name (narrows the possibilities tremendously!) You job is to find the 8 chess players.

Sounds simple, right? Try again! This is not your ordinary word search. You actually have to make chess moves to find the 8 players. Here is a list of the rules that must be followed:
  • No letter in the diagram can be used more than once! When all 8 players are found, all 64 letters in the diagram will be used.
  • Two of the players will require Queen moves to go from letter to letter, two of the players will require Rook moves to go from letter to letter, two of the players will require Bishop moves to go from letter to letter, and two of the players will require Knight moves to go from letter to letter.
  • For all of the entries that use pieces that move in a straight line (Queen, Rook, Bishop), a turn must be made after every letter, and no U-turns will be made. So, for the case of the Rooks, if you move horizontally to go from the first letter to the second letter, you will have to go vertical to the next letter, then horizontal to the next, etc. In the case of Bishops, all moves will also be a 90 degree turn since no U-Turns are allowed. Knights have no restrictions and may continue to hop in the same direction as the previous letter.
  • To distinguish Queen entries from Rook or Bishop entries, both Queen entries will have at least one diagonal move and at least one horizontal or vertical move.

A few things to watch out for. Some names may have more than one way to be reached in the diagram. If you see that happening, you might want to hold off to determine which one is correct by finding another name in the diagram and seeing which letters are needed for other names.

Also, it might help copy the diagram on a piece of paper to keep track of letters used. This is probably better than printing as the diagram may not fit on one page, and you may accidentally expose yourself to the solution.


If you want a starting hint, scroll down slowly. If you want the solution, scroll all the way to the bottom.

Starting Hint: One of the entries starts on the square c3 and continues with Knight moves. Also, since every letter must be used, think about how few players with 8 letter have a Z in their name - you might want to work backwards to find this one! If you want a bigger hint (the starting squares for all 8 entries), continue to scroll slowly but not all the way to the bottom.

Bigger Hint: The starting squares for the 8 entries are a4, b1, b8, c2, c3, d3, e6, and h8. Scroll down further and you'll expose the entire solution.


Korchnoi - Queen Moves - b8-b4-d4-e5-g5-g1-c1-c6
Nakamura - Queen Moves - e6-f6-f5-d7-d8-e8-b5-c5
Marshall - Rook Moves - a4-a7-f7-f2-e2-e1-h1-h3
Steinitz - Rook Moves - b1-b6-g6-g4-h4-h2-a2-a8
Alekhine - Bishop Moves - d3-h7-g8-c4-a6-b7-f3-d1
Ivanchuk - Bishop Moves - h8-b2-a3-f8-h6-f4-c7-a5
Kasparov - Knight Moves - c3-e4-d6-c8-e7-d5-e3-g2
Gligoric - Knight Moves - c2-a1-b3-d2-f1-g3-h5-g7

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Endgame Analysis: OCB Endings Are Not Drawn!

It's been a while since I've done an endgame article, dating back to the early summer when I did an article on corresponding squares in king and pawn endgames. In this article, I'm going to talk about the case of Opposite Colored Bishops (from here on out, referred to as OCB) and Pawns. Many amateurs often view this kind of endgame as an automatic draw. While the draw ratio is significantly higher than the vast majority of other endgames, the draw is not automatic. Here I am going to show you a game featuring the Petroff where Black uses the principles of what to do in an OCB endgame and proceeds to win. Many people would see the Petroff and see the OCB ending and just write off the game as a dull draw. Hopefully this game will make you rethink before you just assume that a position is drawn because it's an OCB ending.

Tuesday Night Action 38, Round 4
W: Vishnu Vanapalli (2008)
B: Patrick McCartney (2090)
Petroff Defense

After the moves 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Nc3 Nxc3 6.dxc3 Be7 7.Bd3 O-O 8.O-O Nd7 9.Be3 Ne5 10.Be2 Be6 11.Nd4 Nc4 12.Nxe6 Nxe3 13.Nxd8 Nxd1 14.Raxd1 Raxd8 15.Rfe1 Rfe8 16.Bf3 c6 17.Kf1 Kf8 18.Rd2 Bg5 19.Rxe8+ Kxe8 20.Rd1 Kd7 21.c4 Kc7 22.Ke2 Re8+ 23.Kf1 Bf6 24.b3 Bc3 25.g3 f5 26.Rd3 Re1+ 27.Kg2 Bf6 28.Rd1, we have the following position:

Let's take a look at some of the features of the position, particularly from Black's perspective.

First off, the pawn structure favors Black. Both sides have three pawns on the kingside and 4 pawns on the queenside. However, none of Black's pawns are doubled or isolated while White's queenside pawns are compromised. That said, Black does have one slight problem. The d-pawn. The black king is the only thing protecting it, and it is very difficult for Black to make progress as long as this pressure is placed on the pawn. What does Black do about that?

On the flip side, we see that Black already has firm control over the dark squares on the queenside. If White ever tries to advance one of his pawns to a dark square, Black can move his Bishop, attacking the pawn immediately, and make him advance it again to a light square. This gives White two major problems. The first is that with his crippled pawn structure and complete lack of control on the dark squares, White will never have any winning chances on that side of the board. The absolute best he can do is force the Black pawns onto dark squares to form a gridlock and make the position unwinnable for both players on that side of the board. Over on the kingside, Black already has a pawn on f5, and still has his h-pawn on h7, and can play the move ...g6 at any time if necessary. Therefore, White currently has no control over the light squares, and the only way to force them forward is to attack the pawn chain at the base, and getting the Bishop to g8 to attack h7 will take a long time because Black controls d5 with his c6-pawn and White's own pawns block him from getting to g8 by other means. Therefore, White has no real shot at all on the kingside. So what does this mean for White?

Therefore, we see now what both sides should be shooting for. Black should be trying to win while White should be trying to draw.

With Black to move, he has a major decision to make. Should he trade off the rooks based on what we've looked at for both sides or should he keep the rooks on figuring they will be necessary to avoid the draw? We have already determined that Black has total control of the dark squares on the queenside. With the location of the kings, White's king is far enough away that Black can at minimum get his king to either a3, which will likely win the a-pawn for Black and he can force through a passed a-pawn, or if White advances the a-pawn to a4 (going to a3 Black will simply force it to a4 with his bishop), then the Black king will get in on c3 and virtually force the White bishop to be immobile and stuck on d1 and Black then can advance the kingside pawns to create a second weakness and overload the White bishop. The only thing holding the Black king back is the rook on d1 by hitting d6, and with two very encouraging ideas based on Black's total control of the dark squares on the queenside and White's lack of ability to control the light squares on the kingside, Black sees the rooks as a distraction, not a help, and so Black's decision is simple.


Black trades the rooks and enters the OCB ending.

29.Bxd1 Kb6 30.Kf3 Kc5 31.Ke2

White should probably have thought about 31.g4, attempting to trade a set of pawns. The fewer pawns there are on the board, the more likely White can hold the draw.


White now has to choose between two evils. Does he play 32.a4 to avoid the immediate dropping of a pawn? Or does he play 32.Kd3 to keep the Black king out of c3, tying down the bishop to d1 pretty much permanently.


White decides to jettison the a-pawn in order to be able to keep the bishop active. The problem with this is given that it is the rook pawn, Black can create a passer on the a-file, whether does voluntarily by White as in the game, or via Black advancing the a- and b-pawns to create the passer. This passed pawn will cause Black to not have time to counter by attacking the Black pawns on the kingside.

32...Ka3 33.Bf3

Once again, 33.g4 is probably better. After the game move, White's idea is to attempt to pressure the Black pawn chain on b7 and c6 by advancing the b-pawn once the Black king takes on a2, and therefore opening up an entry point on d5 for the White bishop to get to g8. The problem is, this gives Black an uncontested a-pawn and it creates a major distraction for White.

33...Kxa2 34.b4


Black uses the fact that White can't stop everything to either create a majority for himself on the kingside or else make White spend time on the kingside and execute on the queenside. White decides that breaking up the pawn chain on the light squares is more important than trying to save the f-pawn.

35.b5 Bc6 36.bxc6 bxc6 37.Bxc6 Bxf2 38.Bd7


White was probably banking on Black playing 38...g6 and then trying to play 39.Be6 intending to go to g8 to make Black put his pawns on dark squares, and use his King to stop the a-pawn. Instead, Black leaves the f5 pawn hanging. As it turns out, White has no time to take the f-pawn.


After 39.Kc3, Black can play 39...g6 and it would take White too long to attack the pawn chain. Note that 39.Bxf5? doesn't work. After 39...a4, White has no way to stop the a-pawn without giving up his bishop once the pawn gets to a2. If Black wins White's bishop, the rest is easy. After the game move, Black puts his king on the ideal square for it, and then relocates the bishop to pressure the White pawns on the kingside.

39...Kb2 40.Bb5 Bd4 41.Bd7 Be5 42.Kd3 f4 43.gxf4 Bxf4 44.h3


Black completely immobilizes the h-pawn. Black's idea now, with White's pawn immobilized, is to start advancing the majority on the kingside and overwork the bishop.


White desperately tries giving up a pawn to make the king more mobile. Of course, it won't work with correct play by Black.

45...dxc5 46.Kc4 h6

The idea here is to be able to take on c2 without dropping the h-pawn as the result of a fork. If White protects his c-pawn, Black can protect his.

47.Ba4 Ka3 48.Be8

Or 48.Kb5 Be1 winning.

48...Bf2 49.Kb5


An important point that Black had to see in advance in order for the line of play selected to work. The king blocks the bishop from covering a4 and therefore allows Black to advance his passer.


The other critical factor that must be seen is that 50.Ka5 fails to win the a-pawn because of 50...Be1+!

50...g5 51.Kc3 Bd4+ 52.Kc4 h5

Played on the basis that if White takes the pawn via 53.Bxh5, then 53...Kb2 wins.

53.Kb5 g4 54.hxg4 hxg4 55.Bc6 Kb2 56.Be4

If 56.Kxa4, then 56...Kxc2 and the Black king will run to the kingside so that it can force White to give up his bishop for the g-pawn, and then coming back to win the game with the c-pawn. Instead, the game move creates another problem.

56...a3 0-1

White can't stop both the a-pawn and the g-pawn, and so he resigned.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Game Analysis: NC Closed Championship - Round 5

And then there were four, and it is now Judgment Day! Going into the final round, Mark Biernacki lead the pack with a perfect score of 4, and he was assigned Black on board 1 against Tianqi Wang, who along with Daniel Cremisi and myself, the game shown below from board two, were the only others in contention for the title with 3.5 each. From our perspective at board 2, we both needed to win, and we needed either a win from White or a draw on board 1.

Let's see what happened on board 2!

NC Closed CHampionship, Round 5
W: Patrick McCartney (2090)
B: Daniel Cremisi (2367)
Slav Defense

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e3 c6 4.c4

A direct transposition to the Slow Slav, which normally arises from 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3. Note that continuing in Colle style here with a move like 4.Bd3 or 4.c3 is ineffective. The success of the Colle System is reliant on Black blocking in his light-squared Bishop, and so after a move like 3...e6, then 4.Bd3 comes into play, but with 3...c6 played, White needs to strike at the Black center, and if Black does indeed bring the Bishop out, go for the Queenside weaknesses created by Black as a result of his Bishop abandoning the Queenside.

4...Bf5 5.cxd5

The "main line" is 5.Nc3 e6 6.Nh4 Bg6 7.Nxg6 hxg6, but the move played also has its venom, especially if Black doesn't know what he's doing. Even if he does, this move is no worse.

5...cxd5 6.Qb3 Qb6

Black's strongest response is thought to be 6...Qc7 7.Bd2 e6 8.Bb5+ and then he can block the check with either Knight move. White's advantage is minimal.

7.Qxb6 axb6 8.Nc3

Quoting GM Aaron Summerscale from his book A Killer Chess Opening Repertoire, "6...Qb6 7.Qxb6 axb6 8.Nc3 is a bit better for White due to Black's weak doubled b-pawns."

8...e6 9.Nh4 Bg6 10.Nxg6 hxg6 11.Bb5+ Nbd7 12.Bd2 Bd6 13.h3 O-O 14.O-O Rfd8 15.Rfc1 Ne4 16.Be1

The alternative would be for White to take on e4, saddling Black with doubled pawns, advance the a-pawn, and then double-up on the c-file with an advantage. For example, 16.Nxe4 dxe4 17.a3 Nf6 18.Rc2 g5 19.Rac1 +/=. The game move is also good.

16...Nxc3 17.bxc3 Nf6 Or 17...Ra3 18.c4 Nf6 19.cxd5 exd5 20.Rab1 Rda8 21.Bf1 Rxa2 22.Rxb6 Ra1 23.Rbb1 Rxb1 24.Rxb1 g5 25.Be2 Ra3 26.Bf3 Ra2 27.Kf1 Ne4 28.Rxb7 Ra1 with an advantage to White.


This is not a good move for White. Instead the immediate 18.a4 should have been preferred. For example, after 18...Ra7 19.f3 Ne8 20.Rcb1 Rda8 21.e4 Nc7 22.Bd3 b5 23.e5 Be7 24.Bxb5 Nxb5 25.Rxb5 Bg5 26.Rab1 Be3+ 27.Kf1 Rxa4, White has a clear advantage. Black's weakness on b7 is easier to access and attack than White's weakness on c3.


Black returns the favor by not playing 18...Ra3! first, and then pretty much proceeding with what he did in the game.

19.a4 Ne4 20.c4

White is anticipating Black's next few moves, and is going for pawn structure weaknesses in the Black camp. This is ok, but 20.Bd3 is stronger, holding on to the Bishop pair. The cost of saddling Black with weak pawns is White will lose the Bishop pair.

20...Nd6 21.cxd5 Nxb5 22.Rxb5 Rxd5 23.Rxd5 exd5

The fact that the position has been reduced to pieces that are not in White's best interest, such as the dark-squared Bishops, offsets the fact that Black's pawn structure is worse. White's advantage is minimal, and we see why now that 20.Bd3 would have been preferred.

24.Bb4 f6 25.Be7

With the idea of 26.Rc1 in response to a move like 25...Kf7.


Black wants nothing to do with that!

26.Bb4 Re6 27.Rc1 Rc6 28.Rxc6?

This move does White in as his advantage is gone. White is still better after 28.Bd2 or 28.Rc3. Now the game is drawn.

28...bxc6 29.Kf1 Kf7 30.Ke2 Ke6 31.Kd3 Bd6 32.a5

This was White's whole idea, but it's nothing more than a trick shot. Black of course can't take the Bishop. The rest of the game is nothing more than a feeble attempt by both sides to look for a few trick plays, but outside of a couple of feeble traps, such as Black making the wrong capture on move 33 or White playing the wrong move at move 57, there is nothing here for either side.


32...Bxb4?? 33.a6 +-

33.dxc5 bxa5 24.Bxa5 Bxc5 35.Bc3 Bd6 36.Bd4 Be5 37.Kc3 Kf5 38.Kb4 Bb8 39.Kc5 Ke6 40.Kc6 Bh2 41.f4 Bg3 42.Kc5 Be1 43.g4 Ba5 44.Kc6 Bd8 45.Bc3 Be7 46.Bd4 Bb4 47.Bc5 Ba5 48.Bd4 Be1 49.Bc5 Bg3 50.Bd4 Bh2 51.Kc5 Bg3 52.Kc6 Be1 53.Kc5 Bd2 54.Kc6 Bb4 55.Bc5 Bxc5 56.Kxc5 g5 57.fxg5

This move followed by immediately forcing off the central pawns seals the draw.

57...fxg5 58.Kd4 Kd6 59.e4 dxe4 60.Kxe4 Ke6 61.Kd4 Kd6 62.Ke4 g6 63.Kd4 Ke6 64.Ke4 Kd6 65.Kd4 Ke6 66.Ke4 Kd6 67.Kd4 1/2-1/2

So the game ended in a draw a board 2, but as it turns out, Biernacki had won at board 1 anyway, giving him the state title at a perfect 5 points. With board 3 being decisive, Daniel, myself, and one other tied for second with a final score of 4.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Reverse Angle 79

Author: Grant Oen, CCCSA Assistant Director

A sumptuous turnout of 64 players from North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia competed in Reverse Angle 79.  The $850 prize fund was divided into three sections, Top, Under 1800, and Under 1400.

The top section of Reverse Angle is always strong, this time with 22 players, with the top seeds being National Masters Joshua "cows go" Mu (2250) and the newly crowned NC State Champion Mark "re-entry" Biernacki (2209).  There were also six experts in the event, including Dominique "NM" Myers (2115), NCSU student Benjamin Snodgrass (2060), and David Stamper (2004), whose last rated tournament was Reverse Angle 28 in 2012!

In the end, Vishnu "Vishy" Vanapalli (2027) and David Stamper, who is staging a big return to chess, each scored 3-0, earning $125 each.  Adharsh Rajagopal (1986), Henry Hopson (1873), Garret Allen (1828), and Carson Cook (1819) split the Under 2000 prize, good for $12.50 each.

Under 1800
The U1800 section featured 21 players rated 1300-1800, including Chessstream's Chacha Dejava (1781) and frequent CCCSA prize winner Michael Miller (1746).

Chacha Dejava and Connor Liu (1719) each won $112.50 for their perfect scores, and Ian MacNair (1584) and Grisham Paimagam (1559) split the $50 Under 1600 prize.

Under 1400
The 21 player U1400 section was led by top seeds and perennial U1400 powerhouses Gautam "got em" Kapur (1370), Paige Cook (1369), and Bhavani "did I win a prize" Dhulipalla (1336).

Nikhil "I have a question" Deshpande (1005) performed a clean sweep of the section, winning $150.  Gautam Kapur and Andrew Bouman (1065) tied for second place and the Under 1200 prize, earning $62.50 each.

UPSETS - 150 points or more
Under 1400, Round 1 - Nikhil Deshpande (1005) def. Pranav Swarna (1316) - 311 points
Under 1400, Round 1 - Adhith Srikanth (1086) def. Paige Cook (1369) - 283 points
Under 1400, Round 1 - Andrew Bouman (1065) def. Bhavani Dhulipalla (1336) - 271 points
Under 1400, Round 1 - Smayan Ammansani (979) def. Matthew Odom (1243) - 264 points
Top, Round 3 - David Stamper (2004) def. Joshua Mu (2250) - 246 points
Under 1400, Round 1 - Sarvajith Nalaneelan (870) def. Senthil Muthusamy (1105) - 235 points
Under 1800, Round 2 - Sampath Kumar (1487) def. Andrew Chen (1721) - 234 points
Under 1400, Round 3 - Henry Nguyen (877) def. Senthil Muthusamy (1105) - 228 points
Under 1400, Round 2 - Andrew Bouman (1065) def. Allan Miller (1285) - 220 points
Under 1400, Round 2 - Nikhil Deshpande (1005) def. Robert Murray-Gramlich (1218) - 213 points
Top, Round 1 - Austin Chuang (1841) def. Sulia Mason (2023) - 182 points
Top, Round 3 - Vishnu Vanapalli (2027) def. Mark Biernacki (2209) - 182 points
Under 1400, Round 3 - Nikhil Deshpande (1005) def. Akshay Rajagopal (1176) - 171 points
Top, Round 3 - Henry Hopson (1873) def. Sulia Mason (2023) - 150 points

USCF Rated Results

Upcoming Tournaments:

Until next time,
NM (not master) Grant "black shoes" Oen