Friday, June 22

Grandmaster Falls Into Stalemate Trap

GM Alex Bachmann - FM Yian Liou
National Open 2012
Comments by GM Alex Baburin of the internet newsletter Chess Today

White to move.

White wins easily after 107.h6! Qd7 108.Qe5+ Kg8 109.Qg7+! Qxg7 110.hxg7 Kh7 111.Kh5! Kxg7 112.Kg5. Instead of that he made a natural-looking move:

107.g5?? The passers are marching together! Yet, this move is a terrible mistake as now the white king is too exposed and White no longer has the option of going into a pawn endgame with one pawn left.

107...Qd7 108.h6 Kg8 109.Kh5 Qf7+ 110.Qg6+

Black to move.

110...Kh8! 1/2-1/2 (because 111.Qxf7 is stalemate!)

What (many people) missed is that both players made an additional mistake – White could win by playing 110.g6!, while Black had to play 109...Qd1+! 110.Kg6 Qd6+ 111.Kf5 Qc5+ 112.Qe5 Qc2+ =.

Thursday, June 7

Yes Ma'am, Girls PWN in Cal and Mexico!

Team USA winners. L to R: Pranav, Chenyi, Joaquin Perkins, Aksithi and Ashritha.
The recent Chess Life Online video "Women Talk Chess: Beating the Boys" has stirred emotions on both sides of the gender gap in chess.  The cold hard facts reveal that only 3% of adult players are women.  On the bright side, many young girls join their elementary school clubs, and often they outperform the boys.

CalChess Girls Champion Sophia Li
The Bay Area girls are no exception.  A dozen kids now populate the Girls U-13 and U-16 rankings on the CalChess Top 100 lists, more than double from just two years ago.  Many attended the CalChess Girls Championship in January, with Sophia Li earning a hard fought victory in the top section.  As these young women grow older, may they continue to inspire the next bunch a few years younger. 

Indeed, three local girls won medals for their age at the North American Youth Chess Championships last weekend in Mexico City!  Kudos to Ashritha Eswaran (silver in Girls-U12), her sister Aksithi Eswaran (bronze in Girls-U8) and Chenyi Zhao (silver in Girls-U10).  Actually, the girls didn't take everything--here's a big cheer for Pranav Senthilkumar for earning the gold medal in Boys-U10!

Closer to home, the girls scored a collective hat trick at the Best of the West Championship on Memorial Day weekend.  Out of six sections in this adult tournament, half ended with a middle school age lady on top!  Congratulations to Audrey Zhao (Class B), reigning state girls champion Sophia Li (Class C) and Emily Zhu (U1400 section) for capturing clear first place, each a half point ahead of the boys!

Go Girls!!!

Sunday, June 3

CalChess Top Age Lists

2007 World U12 Champion!
Welcome to yet another installment of the unofficial CalChess Top Age Lists!  This edition is derived from the June 2012 USCF Top 100 Lists, with each player's age given as of May 1.  Congratulations to 109 local juniors of all ages who achieved a national ranking among their peers, plus a dozen girls in the two gender-specific categories.  I can assure you that Dr. Alan Kirshner, who introduced these lists last century, is proud of the achievements by all!
Out of these 109 talented kids, a few deserve an even greater distinction.  Thus we ask: Who's on first?  The answer is IM Daniel Naroditsky, who has been #1 for seven straight years!  He is 16 years old now and no longer needs a booster seat to play with adults, but he owns a gold medal as the 2007 World Youth U12 champion.  The Bay Area has actually seen multiple #1s in recent years, but not at the moment.

Check out the following lists for those Northern California juniors who earned a top 5, top 15 or top 25 national ranking.  I counted 12 gold medals (top 5), 15 silver medals (6-15) and 9 bronze medals (16-25).  Indeed 35 kids made not only the top 100, but the top 25 for their age!  Congratulations to all!!

(Sorry guys, the Fpawn Chess Blog medals are not quite as genuine as the one Naroditsky owns.  In fact, they are barely worth the bytes on which they have been stored.)

Yian Liou
Sam Sevian
GOLD MEDAL (top 5)
Milind Maiti (#2 age 6)
Agnes William (#3 age 6)
Ben Rood (#4 age 8)
Josiah Stearman (#5 age 8)
Rayan Taghizadeh (#3 age 9)
FM Tanuj Vasudeva (#5 age 10)
NM Sam Sevian (#2 age 11)
NM Cameron Wheeler (#3 age 11)
NM Kesav Viswanadha (#4 age 12)
FM Yian Liou (#2 age 14)
IM Daniel Naroditsky (#1 age 16)
NM Young, Greg (#3 age 17)

Chinguun Bayaraa (#7 age 6)
Maurya Palusa (#11 age 6)
Kelvin Jiang (#10 age 7)
Balaji Daggupati (#13 age 7)
Leyton Ho (#15 age 10)
Kevin Moy (#10 age 11)
Siddharth Banik (#11 age 11)
Colin Chow (#6 age 12)
Vignesh Panchanatham (#7 age 12)
Udit Iyengar (#11 age 12)
Allan Beilin (#13 age 12)
Ashritha Eswaran (#15 girls-U13)
Jack Zhu (#12 age 13)
NM Daniel Liu (#8 age 14)
NM Hayk Manvelyan (#13 age 18)

Advait Budaraju (#23 age 7)
Rishith Susarla (#25 age 7)
Anthony Zhou (#16 age 9)
Ganesh Murugappan (#18 age 9)
Jeffrey Tao (#19 age 11)
Art Zhao (#20 age 12)
Pranav Nagarajan (#24 age 12)
Neel Apte (#17 age 13)
Kyle Shin (#16 age 14)

Saturday, June 2

Anand Retains World Title

World Champion Anand is honored by FIDE President Ilyzhuminov. (Daily Mail)
The 15th World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand of India successfully defended the crown in a wild rapid time control playoff.  While Anand won the four game series by an undefeated score of 2.5-1.5, the Israeli challenger Boris Gelfand had chances to be victorious in as many as three games.  All told, the combatants played 16 total games, but only three proved decisive to determine a champion.

Players shake hands at end of rapid game 4. (IBN)
Unlike the classical (slow) games, the rapid contests (G/25 + 10 sec/move increment) provided plenty of fireworks.  Anand defended carefully with black in the first contest, and then gained an advantage with the white pieces in the second game.  Amazingly, Gelfand managed to survive into a drawn ending.  However, he had used up all of his time in the middlegame, and finally cracked while playing on the 10 second increment.  Gelfand's best chance to recover from defeat came right away in the third round.  On move 26, Nxe4 either wins the bishop on b8 outright, or gives black a decisive knight outpost on d6.  The Israeli also missed a technical win right at the very end.  Needing to win with black in the final game, Gelfand earned a tiny middlegame edge, but could not make headway against accurate defense by Anand.

In short, the match was decided by the rapid time control.  Of course, any win is always a win.  However, I expected more from the reigning champion against a significantly lower rated challenger.

The following list includes all classical World Chess Champions in history.  Except for two cases where the title was temporarily vacated, each champion defeated his immediate predecessor in a match.
  • #1 Wilhelm Steinitz (1886)
  • #2 Emmanuel Lasker (1894)
  • #3 Jose Raul Capablanca (1921)
  • #4 Alexander Alekhine (1927)
  • #5 Max Euwe (1935)
  • repeat by Alekhine (1937)
  • vacant after Alekhine's death (1946)
  • #6 Mikhail Botvinnik (1948)
  • #7 Vasily Smyslov (1957)
  • repeat by Botvinnik (1958)
  • #8 Mikhail Tal (1960)
  • repeat by Botvinnik (1961)
  • #9 Tigran Petrosian (1963)
  • #10 Boris Spassky (1969)
  • #11 Bobby Fischer (1972)
  • vacant after refusal to defend (1975)
  • #12 Anatoly Karpov (1975)
  • #13 Garry Kasparov (1985)
  • #14 Vladimir Kramnik (2000)
  • #15 Viswanathan Anand (2007)

California Online Blitz Champs

Here comes one tournament that you can play without even leaving your house!  Join the California Online Blitz Championships on Sunday, June 10, for two hours of fun chess and a small opportunity to spread chess to those less fortunate.  While registration at the Free Internet Chess Server (FICS) is free, the $7 entry fee supports the nonprofit Chess For Charity (80%) and the NorCal High School Online Chess League (20%).  The inspiration and manpower behind both organizations come from local high school chess players.

The event is open to all ages.  It is not USCF rated, but ratings will be used for pairings.

Event: California Online Blitz Championships
When: June 10 at 2:00pm (make sure to log in early)
Where: FICS - download interface at
Format: 8 rounds
Time Control: G/3 + 2 sec/move increment
Register: Send $7 using PayPal (see instructions)
Other: USCF membership is not required
Prizes: Trophy to winner in each section, plus raffle awards every round
Website: Click here for more information

Join for a couple hours of fun chess--and a good cause to boot!  For more info, please contact league organizers Sydney Liu or Aditya Kumar.