Queen of Katwe: A Collection of Quotes

By Olga Inglis, Director of Business Development

Photograph by the very talented alechkovphoto”

These were my favorite quotes from Tim Crother’s Queen of Katwe book.

“Survival in Katwe depends on courage and determination as well as guile and luck.”

(page 18)

“Katwe’s youth endure an overwhelming stigma, a sense of defeat, and a resignation that they’ll never do any better than anybody else in the slum.”

(page 19)

“Soccer allowed Robert to dream.  It gave him joy.  It became his identity.”

(page 43)

“Doctors told Robert he would never play soccer again.  Nine months later, Robert was juggling the ball.”

(page 46)

“ ‘He didn’t ask for anything in exchange like other players who would ask me, ‘What will I get?’  What can I expect?’  Robert never thought he would get his daily bread from Miracle.’ “ (about Katende)

(page 49)

” ‘He was a young boy.  He needed shaping and guidance and direction.’ “ (about Katende)

(page 51)

“Katende had learned the game primarily through trial and error and the taught it that way to the Pioneers.”

(page 61)

“ ‘There was something special about Robert, a certain dignity and awareness that just stood out,’ Suddith says.”

(page 111)

” ‘I came to appreciate that chess is the best tool for kids in the slums,’ Katende says.  ‘I believe when they play the game they can integrate the principles used in the game into their daily life.  The moment your opponent makes a move, it is like posing a challenge to you, and the whole issue is to think, ‘What can I do to overcome this?’  It is like the challenges they face every day.  They must think how they can overcome those as well.  I told them they can never resign in a game, never give up until they are checkmated.  That is where the chessboard is like life.  That is the magic in the game.’ ”

(page 64)

“Whenever there was a crisis of confidence, Katende would tell his favorite story about an inept doctor.

‘Think of a situation when you are sick and you have gone to the clinic for treatment and a doctor comes up and says, ‘Young man, you’re sick.  I am going to inject you, but I don’t know whether I still remember how to inject.  Let me first see if I can remember.’  Then he gets a sponge and he tries to inject it and says, ‘I think I can remember.  Okay, let’s do the injection,’  Can you allow yourself to be injected?  Of course, you can’t.  Why?  Because the doctor does not believe in himself.  Then how do you entrust your life to him?  You cannot.  If you don’t believe in yourself, how do you expect anyone else to believe in you?’ “

(page 65)

” ‘Someday you will be able to read your opponent’s mind many moves in advance,’  Katende told them.  ‘You will see what is going to happen on the chessboard before it happens.  You are going to be prophets.’ “

(page 65)

“Harriet did not give up after her first business failure at the market, but tried again after learning from her mistakes.”

(page 79)

” ‘Then I watched them play the game and get happy and excited and I wanted a chance to be that happy.’ ” (Phiona)

(page 81)

“ ‘I learned that chess is a lot like my life,’ Phiona says.  ‘If you make smart moves you can stay away from danger, but you know any bad decision could be your last.’ “

(page 93)

“Chess began to make sense for Phiona.  It was a game of survival through considered aggression.  It is about finding some clarity among the confusion, some way to organize the chaos by always thinking several moves ahead of the danger.”

(page 134)

“Katende taught Phiona to understand the game, then to appreciate the game, and then finally to love the game.”

(page 135)

“Ivan believes Phiona’s greatest strength is her patience.”

(page 137)

“Phiona looks at all the options and then makes the best move.”

(page 137)

“By that time, Phiona had embraced chess as her true calling.  ‘I love chess with all of my heart,’ Phiona says.  ‘And when you love something with all your heart, it brings many other things.’ “

(page 192)

“On his way home that night, Robert Katende believed he had seen the last of Phiona Mutesi.  ‘Because the day was so hard for her, for sure I did not expect to meet her again,’ Katende says.  ‘When she came back the next day, I knew she had an enduring kind of spirit.  I knew this girl had courage.’ “

(page 86)

“He explained about discipline and good behavior and seizing any opportunity that comes her way and using her past as motivation for her future.”

(page 133)

“ ‘Have you ever done something wrong because someone else has told you to do it without thinking?’ Katende asked her.  ‘Before you do something, always think, ‘What will be the repercussions?  What will be the consequences?’ “

(page 134)

Tips from Phiona for Chess (and Life):

Believe in yourself

“You are meant to believe in yourself.  If you are not sure of yourself, your best can’t come out.  When I first started playing chess, I didn’t believe I could learn the game.  Then I didn’t believe I could become good.  Then I didn’t believe I could win a game.  Then I didn’t believe I could challenge a boy.  But Coach gave me confidence and I won a game against a boy, and from that day I started to move forward more boldly and I began to believe in myself that I can win any game that I play.  I have been amazed at what I could do in chess once I started believing in myself.”

Challenge yourself:

“It is easy to play against those opponents you know you can beat.  But Coach has encouraged me to challenge myself and play as many games as I can against opponents who can beat me.  When I go and play against someone who I believe is better than me, I know my chess will get better that day.  I always learn something in a game when I am challenged.”

Don’t get too excited:

“I don’t ever get excited even when I’m in a winning position because I know that until the game is over I have to be really serious.  One time I was playing in an Olympiad game and during preparations we had gone over various openings, so when I went to play I played a good opening and I managed to take a free piece and I realized my position was much better than my opponent’s.  I got so excited because I thought I was going to win.  I ended up making a big blunder out of excitement and I lost a bishop.  I eventually managed to win the game, but it was a serious struggle to come back.  That day I learned that I can never get excited again until the game is over.”

Don’t get discouraged:

“I have played in so many games when I was in a bad position and I felt like resigning, but I always remember that Coach has given us advice about never resigning until the game is over.  I hear those words in my head whenever my position seems hopeless and I just continue to endure and keep pushing myself.  I have seen many examples that a chess game is never over, no matter how bad your position may be, until you are mated.  You must continue to think.  You must continue to plot.  I have trained myself to believe that there is always a way out of trouble if I just continue thinking.”

Be patient:

“Once you have learned all the rules governing pieces, it is time to learn to strategize and to plan. You are trying to create teamwork with your pieces.  I encourage those I teach to be very patient in their planning.  You cannot just win a game, you have to plan for it.  I advise them not to always be in a hurry, but to first look at what the opponent has played and then try to read their mind.  What are they planning?  How can I stop that plan?  Then how can I attack?  How can I take control of the board?  When I first started playing, I wanted to capture a piece on every move.  One day I realized that you can win a chess game without capturing a single piece.  That’s when I realized that planning is more important than capturing.  The best way to avoid blunders is to play well.  Every game is different.  There are some games when I can never think more than one move ahead and there are others when I can plan beyond more than five moves ahead, but you must always be planning.”

Have a dream:

“The only way to become good chess player is to work on your game every day, and I have found that it has helped me to have a dream.  In my heart, I love chess and part of that is because I am working toward a goal.  To be a big player in the game, I think you need to have a big dream,  because if your dream is only to beat your brother or your father, then when you achieve that dream, you will quit because you have achieved that goal.  My ultimate dream is to become a Grandmaster, and chasing that dream is what brings me back to the chessboard every day to try to become the first Grandmaster ever in my country.”

Phiona Mutesi(pages 239-241)

To learn more about Phiona Mutesi, listen to our CEO National Master Evan Rabin’s interview with her in our 148th podcast episode.

Short Losses by World Champions, Part 1

By Matthew Grinberg, Founder of Alamogordo Chess Club

Two Weeks ago I presented the shortest loss ever by a World Chess Champion – a six mover by Anand.  That got me to thinking, why not present the shortest loss ever by each of the sixteen World Champions?  So I have selected 16 games from all World Champions, ranging from Wilhem Steinitz to Magnus Carlsen. This week we have the shortest losses by the first three World Champions – Wilhelm Steinitz, Emanuel Lasker and Jose Raul Capablanca.  If they can lose quickly, so can your next opponent!

Winawer, Szymon. – Steinitz, Wilhelm 1:0, 1896

This game was played two years after Steinitz lost the World Chess Championship to Emanuel Lasker.  Winawer was also one of the leading players of the day.

  1. e4 e5 2. d4!? Theory holds that the Center Game is not quite sound, but in practice it scores well.

2… exd4 3. Qxd4 Nc6 4. Qe3 Nf6 5. Nc3 Bb4 6. Bd2 O-O 7. O-O-O Re8 The position is slightly better for Black due to the exposed position of White’s queen.

  1. Bc4 Bxc3!? Typical of Steinitz. He grabs material when he can and challenges his opponent to show what he has for it.

[Black retains an advantage after 8… d6 9. f3 Ne5 10. Bb3  -0.44|d15 Rybka4]

  1. Bxc3 Nxe4 10. Qf4 Nf6 11. Nf3 d6 12. Ng5 Be6 13. Bd3 h6 14. h4 Nd5

[Taking the knight may be playable, but it is very risky to open the file for White’s rook. 14… hxg5 15. hxg5 Ng4 16. Be2 Nce5 17. Rh5 Ng6 18. Qd4 N4e5 19. f4 Bg4 20. Bxg4 c5 21. Qe3 Nxg4 22. Qf3 Qd7 23. f5 N6e5 24. Rdh1 f6 25. Bxe5 Nxe5 26. Qd5 Kf8 27. gxf6 gxf6 28. Rh8 Ke7 29. R8h7 Kd8 30. Rxd7 Nxd7 31. Rh7 1-0, Salmensuu Olli (FIN) 2420  – Norri Joose (FIN) 2400 , Finland 1998 Ch Finland]

  1. Bh7 Kh8 16. Rxd5 Bxd5 17. Be4 f6?? When he should be getting White’s attacking pieces off of the board, Steinitz instead creates a giant weakness on the light squares around his king.

[Black is fine if he simply returns the extra material to blunt White’s attack. 17… Rxe4! 18. Nxe4 Ne5 19. Rd1 Bxe4 20. Bxe5 Bh7 21. Qxf7 Qf8 22. Qxf8 Rxf8 23. Bg3  +0.07|d19 Rybka4]

  1. Bxd5! fxg5 19. hxg5 Ne5?? Granted he is dead busted anyway, but this allows a quick mate.

[19… Re5 20. Qg4 Qc8 21. Qg3 Qf5 22. f4 Nb4 Note that the rook can’t move due to Rxh6 mate. 23. Bb3 Nc6 24. gxh6 g6 25. fxe5 Nxe5  +4.66|d12]

  1. g6 There is no good way to stop the threat of 21. Rxh6+gxh6, 22. Qxh6 mate, so Steinitz resigns. […] [1:0]

Bird, Henry – Lasker, Emanuel, 1:0, 1892

Center Game, Danish Gambit

This game was played two years after Steinitz lost the World Chess Championship to Emanuel Lasker. Winawer was also one of the leading players of the day.

1. e4 e5 2. d4!? Theory holds that the Center Game is not quite sound, but in practice it scores well.
2… exd4 3. Qxd4 Nc6 4. Qe3 Nf6 5. Nc3 Bb4 6. Bd2 O-O 7. O-O-O Re8 The position is slightly better for Black due to the exposed position of White’s queen.
8. Bc4 Bxc3!? Typical of Steinitz. He grabs material when he can and challenges his opponent to show what he has for it.
[Black retains an advantage after 8… d6 9. f3 Ne5 10. Bb3 -0.44|d15 Rybka4]
9. Bxc3 Nxe4 10. Qf4 Nf6 11. Nf3 d6 12. Ng5 Be6 13. Bd3 h6 14. h4 Nd5
[Taking the knight may be playable, but it is very risky to open the file for White’s rook. 14… hxg5 15. hxg5 Ng4 16. Be2 Nce5 17. Rh5 Ng6 18. Qd4 N4e5 19. f4 Bg4 20. Bxg4 c5 21. Qe3 Nxg4 22. Qf3 Qd7 23. f5 N6e5 24. Rdh1 f6 25. Bxe5 Nxe5 26. Qd5 Kf8 27. gxf6 gxf6 28. Rh8 Ke7 29. R8h7 Kd8 30. Rxd7 Nxd7 31. Rh7 1-0, Salmensuu Olli (FIN) 2420 – Norri Joose (FIN) 2400 , Finland 1998 Ch Finland]
15. Bh7 Kh8 16. Rxd5 Bxd5 17. Be4 f6?? When he should be getting White’s attacking pieces off of the board, Steinitz instead creates a giant weakness on the light squares around his king.
[Black is fine if he simply returns the extra material to blunt White’s attack. 17… Rxe4! 18. Nxe4 Ne5 19. Rd1 Bxe4 20. Bxe5 Bh7 21. Qxf7 Qf8 22. Qxf8 Rxf8 23. Bg3 +0.07|d19 Rybka4]

18. Bxd5! fxg5 19. hxg5 Ne5?? Granted he is dead busted anyway, but this allows a quick mate.
[19… Re5 20. Qg4 Qc8 21. Qg3 Qf5 22. f4 Nb4 Note that the rook can’t move due to Rxh6 mate. 23. Bb3 Nc6 24. gxh6 g6 25. fxe5 Nxe5 +4.66|d12]
20. g6 There is no good way to stop the threat of 21. Rxh6+gxh6, 22. Qxh6 mate, so Steinitz resigns. […] [1:0]

Bird, Henry – Lasker, Emanuel
1:0, 1892
Center Game, Danish Gambit
This game was played two years after Steinitz lost the World Chess Championship to Emanuel Lasker. Winawer was also one of the leading players of the day.

1. e4 e5 2. d4!? Theory holds that the Center Game is not quite sound, but in practice it scores well.
2… exd4 3. Qxd4 Nc6 4. Qe3 Nf6 5. Nc3 Bb4 6. Bd2 O-O 7. O-O-O Re8 The position is slightly better for Black due to the exposed position of White’s queen.
8. Bc4 Bxc3!? Typical of Steinitz. He grabs material when he can and challenges his opponent to show what he has for it.
[Black retains an advantage after 8… d6 9. f3 Ne5 10. Bb3 -0.44|d15 Rybka4]
9. Bxc3 Nxe4 10. Qf4 Nf6 11. Nf3 d6 12. Ng5 Be6 13. Bd3 h6 14. h4 Nd5
[Taking the knight may be playable, but it is very risky to open the file for White’s rook. 14… hxg5 15. hxg5 Ng4 16. Be2 Nce5 17. Rh5 Ng6 18. Qd4 N4e5 19. f4 Bg4 20. Bxg4 c5 21. Qe3 Nxg4 22. Qf3 Qd7 23. f5 N6e5 24. Rdh1 f6 25. Bxe5 Nxe5 26. Qd5 Kf8 27. gxf6 gxf6 28. Rh8 Ke7 29. R8h7 Kd8 30. Rxd7 Nxd7 31. Rh7 1-0, Salmensuu Olli (FIN) 2420 – Norri Joose (FIN) 2400 , Finland 1998 Ch Finland]
15. Bh7 Kh8 16. Rxd5 Bxd5 17. Be4 f6?? When he should be getting White’s attacking pieces off of the board, Steinitz instead creates a giant weakness on the light squares around his king.
[Black is fine if he simply returns the extra material to blunt White’s attack. 17… Rxe4! 18. Nxe4 Ne5 19. Rd1 Bxe4 20. Bxe5 Bh7 21. Qxf7 Qf8 22. Qxf8 Rxf8 23. Bg3 +0.07|d19 Rybka4]

18. Bxd5! fxg5 19. hxg5 Ne5?? Granted he is dead busted anyway, but this allows a quick mate.
[19… Re5 20. Qg4 Qc8 21. Qg3 Qf5 22. f4 Nb4 Note that the rook can’t move due to Rxh6 mate. 23. Bb3 Nc6 24. gxh6 g6 25. fxe5 Nxe5 +4.66|d12]
20. g6 There is no good way to stop the threat of 21. Rxh6+gxh6, 22. Qxh6 mate, so Steinitz resigns. […] [1:0]

Bird, Henry – Lasker, Emanuel
1:0, 1892
Center Game, Danish Gambit

This game was played two years after Steinitz lost the World Chess Championship to Emanuel Lasker. Winawer was also one of the leading players of the day.

1. e4 e5 2. d4!? Theory holds that the Center Game is not quite sound, but in practice it scores well.
2… exd4 3. Qxd4 Nc6 4. Qe3 Nf6 5. Nc3 Bb4 6. Bd2 O-O 7. O-O-O Re8 The position is slightly better for Black due to the exposed position of White’s queen.
8. Bc4 Bxc3!? Typical of Steinitz. He grabs material when he can and challenges his opponent to show what he has for it.
[Black retains an advantage after 8… d6 9. f3 Ne5 10. Bb3 -0.44|d15 Rybka4]
9. Bxc3 Nxe4 10. Qf4 Nf6 11. Nf3 d6 12. Ng5 Be6 13. Bd3 h6 14. h4 Nd5
[Taking the knight may be playable, but it is very risky to open the file for White’s rook. 14… hxg5 15. hxg5 Ng4 16. Be2 Nce5 17. Rh5 Ng6 18. Qd4 N4e5 19. f4 Bg4 20. Bxg4 c5 21. Qe3 Nxg4 22. Qf3 Qd7 23. f5 N6e5 24. Rdh1 f6 25. Bxe5 Nxe5 26. Qd5 Kf8 27. gxf6 gxf6 28. Rh8 Ke7 29. R8h7 Kd8 30. Rxd7 Nxd7 31. Rh7 1-0, Salmensuu Olli (FIN) 2420 – Norri Joose (FIN) 2400 , Finland 1998 Ch Finland]
15. Bh7 Kh8 16. Rxd5 Bxd5 17. Be4 f6?? When he should be getting White’s attacking pieces off of the board, Steinitz instead creates a giant weakness on the light squares around his king.
[Black is fine if he simply returns the extra material to blunt White’s attack. 17… Rxe4! 18. Nxe4 Ne5 19. Rd1 Bxe4 20. Bxe5 Bh7 21. Qxf7 Qf8 22. Qxf8 Rxf8 23. Bg3 +0.07|d19 Rybka4]

18. Bxd5! fxg5 19. hxg5 Ne5?? Granted he is dead busted anyway, but this allows a quick mate.
[19… Re5 20. Qg4 Qc8 21. Qg3 Qf5 22. f4 Nb4 Note that the rook can’t move due to Rxh6 mate. 23. Bb3 Nc6 24. gxh6 g6 25. fxe5 Nxe5 +4.66|d12]
20. g6 There is no good way to stop the threat of 21. Rxh6+gxh6, 22. Qxh6 mate, so Steinitz resigns. […] [1:0]

Bird, Henry – Lasker, Emanuel 1:0, 1892
Center Game, Danish Gambit


At the time of this game, Lasker was two years away from taking the World Chess Championship from Wilhelm Steinitz.  Bird had been a major player on the European scene since the 1840’s.

  1. e4 e5 2. d4 exd4 3. c3!? The Danish Gambit. It makes for exciting play, but it is not considered to be quite sound.

3… dxc3 4. Bc4 cxb2 5. Bxb2 Qg5!? Early development of the queen is not good.

[The modern method, first recommended by Carl Schechter about a century ago, is to return the two extra pawns to get the queens off the board with an equal position. 5… d5 6. Bxd5 Nf6 7. Bxf7 Kxf7 8. Qxd8 Bb4 9. Qd2 Bxd2 10. Nxd2 Re8  -0.12|d16 Rybka4]

  1. Nf3 Qxg2? Some have claimed that the Golden Rule is, “Never take the queen knight pawn with your queen.” That should probably apply to the king knight pawn too. Obviously this is the point of Black’s last move, but it is never-the-less bad.  Black’s queen is exposed to attack and he is horribly behind in development.

[Black still has a good position after 6… Qa5 7. Nc3 d6 8. O-O  +0.20|d17 Rybka4]

  1. Rg1 Bb4? If Lasker was not lost already, this seals his fate because it leaves the g-pawn undefended.

[7… Qh3 8. Bxf7 Kd8 9. Rxg7 Qh6 10. Rxg8 Rxg8 11. Bxg8  +2.24|d15 Rybka4 White is up a piece for a pawn.]

  1. Ke2 Qh3
  2. Bxf7! Kd8

[Obviously not 9… Kxf7 10. Ng5 Ke8 11. Nxh3  +8.34|d14 Rybka4]

  1. Bxg7 Ne7 11. Ng5 Due to the threat of Ne6+ Lasker has to give up his queen to avoid checkmate.

11… Qh4 Instead he decides to commit suicide. 12. Ne6# [1:0]

Sometimes the old guys get in their licks.

Marshall, Frank James – Capablanca, Jose Raul, 1:0, 1909

Queen’s Gambit, Orthodox Defense

At the time of this match Marshall was the U.S. Chess Champion.  Capablanca, from Cuba, was ostensibly in the U.S. to study engineering at Columbia University, but in reality he spent most of his time playing chess.  Capablanca won the match 8 – 1 with 14 draws, but Marshall’s one win was memorable.

  1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Be7 5. e3 Ne4 6. Bxe7 Qxe7 7. Bd3 Nxc3 8. bxc3 Nd7

[Another game from the same match – 8… dxc4 9. Bxc4 b6 10. Qf3 c6 11. Ne2 Bb7 12. O-O O-O 13. a4 c5 14. Qg3 Nc6 15. Nf4 Rac8 16. Ba2 Rfd8 17. Rfe1 Na5 18. Rad1 Bc6 19. Qg4 c4 20. d5 Bxa4 21. Rd2 e5 22. Nh5 g6 23. d6 Qe6 24. Qg5 Kh8 25. Nf6 Rxd6 26. Rxd6 Qxd6 27. Bb1 Nc6 28. Bf5 Rd8 29. h4 Ne7 30. Ne4 Qc7 31. Qf6 Kg8 32. Be6 fxe6 33. Qxe6 Kf8 34. Ng5 Ng8 35. f4 Re8 36. fxe5 Re7 37. Rf1 Kg7 38. h5 Be8 39. h6 Kh8 40. Qd6 Qc5 41. Qd4 Rxe5 42. Qd7 Re7 43. Rf7 Bxf7 0-1, Marshall Frank J (USA) – Capablanca Jose Raul (CUB), New York 1909 Match]

  1. Nf3 O-O 10. cxd5 exd5 11. Qb3 Nf6 12. a4 c5 13. Qa3 b6!? The pawn just becomes a target on this square.

[13… Ne4 14. O-O Be6  +0.05|d16 Rybka4]

  1. a5 Bb7 15. O-O Qc7 16. Rfb1 Nd7?! Always try to avoid passive defense.

[16… Ne4 17. Bxe4 dxe4 18. Nd2 cxd4 19. cxd4 Bd5  +0.43|d19 Rybka4]

  1. Bf5 Rfc8 18. Bxd7 Qxd7 19. a6! Bc6 20. dxc5 bxc5 21. Qxc5 Rab8? Allowing Marshall to undermine the defense of the bishop. Capablanca’s position was already difficult due to passive defense, now it is critical.

[21… Rc7 22. h3 h6 23. Rb2 f6 24. Nd4 Rac8 25. Qa3 Qe8 26. Rab1  +1.02|d15]

  1. Rxb8 Rxb8 23. Ne5 Qf5 24. f4 Rb6?? Instantly fatal.

[He would still have a slim chance after 24… Ba8 25. Qxa7 Rf8  +2.67|d18 Rybka4]

 

  1. Qxb6!! Brilliant! Capablanca resigns.

[Capablanca was no doubt hoping for 25. Nxc6?? Rb1 26. Rxb1 Qxb1 27. Kf2 Qc2 28. Ke1 Qc1 29. Ke2 Qc2 30. Kf3 Qe4 31. Kg3 Qg6 32. Kh4 Qh6 33. Kg4 Qg6 34. Kf3 Qe4 35. Kg3 Qg6 36. Kh4 Qh6 37. Kg4 Qg6 38. Kf3 Qe4 Draw by three fold repetition.]

[…]

[He has to take the queen, but it loses quickly. 25… axb6 26. Nxc6 Qe4 (26… Qd7 27. a7 Qxc6 28. a8=Q Qxa8 29. Rxa8#; 26… Qc8 27. Ne7 etc.) 27. a7 Qxe3 28. Kh1 h5 29. a8=Q  +10.40|d14 Rybka4]

[1:0]

Pawn Endgame Puzzles

By Matthew Grinberg, Founder of Alamogordo Chess Club

  1. This little puzzle of mine illustrates two of the most the most basic and important things about pawn endgames – the opposition and keeping your king in front of your passed pawn.

The opposition is one form of zugswang – putting your opponent in a position where any move he makes weakens his position.  Having the opposition in a pawn endgame means having the opponent’s king two squares away from your own king on a file, rank or diagonal with your opponent on the move.  The best form of the opposition in a pawn endgame having your king directly in front of your opponent’s king with your pawn behind you so his king will be forced to step aside or back up, allowing your king to advance.

The importance of keeping your king in front is that it not only allows you to set up the opposition, but the king acts like a bulldozer, clearing the way for your pawn.

White to play and win.

  1. Kd3! White both steps in front of his passed pawn and takes the opposition.  Every other move in this position allows a draw.

[1. d4? Kd6 2. Ke4 Ke6 3. d5 Kd6 4. Kd4 Kd7 5. Ke5 Ke7 6. d6 Kd7 7. Kd5 Kd8 This move illustrates an important point for the defender in pawn endgames – when forced to drop back by a pawn directly in front of you defended by the opponent’s king, it is best to drop directly back, not diagonally.  (7… Ke8? 8. Ke6 Kd8 9. d7 Kc7 10. Ke7 Kc6 11. d8=Q White wins) 8. Ke6 Ke8 9. d7 Kd8 10. Kd6 stalemate;

  1. Kf3? Kd4 2. Ke2 Ke4 3. d3 Kd4 4. Kd2 Kd5 5. Ke3 Ke5 6. d4 Kd5 and we have reached the same position as after White’s first move in the previous line.  Draw]

1… Ke5

[1… Kd6 Stepping back directly when the opponent’s king is in front of the pawn does no good because your opponent will step forward directly retaining the opposition 2. Kd4]

  1. Kc4 Ke6

[2… Kd6 3. Kd4 Ke6 4. Kc5 Kd7 5. Kd5 Ke7 6. Kc6 Kd8 7. Kd6 Ke8 8. d4 Kd8 9. d5 Kc8 10. Ke7 Kc7 11. d6 Kc6 12. d7 Kd5 13. d8=Q White wins]

  1. Kc5 Ke5 Black’s king takes the opposition on a rank, but it is futile because White advances his pawn, forcing Black’s king to move.
  2. d4 Ke6 5. Kc6 Ke7 6. d5 Kd8 7. Kd6 Once again White takes the opposition with his pawn behind his king forcing Black’s king aside so White’s king can step up to cover the last two squares the pawn needs to queen.

7… Ke8 8. Kc7 Ke7 9. d6 Ke6 10. d7 Ke5 11. d8=Q White wins [1:0]

2.

This problem illustrates what I call the “pawn breakthrough” – a well-known theme in pawn endgames.  But, oops, I made a mistake in setting up the position.  White’s king should have been on a1, not a2.  On a1 the intended solution, 1. g6, is the only solution.  As it is, White has two alternatives.  But this allows me to go into further depth in the realm of pawn endgames.

White to play and win.

  1. g6! Black must capture else White’s g-pawn will quickly queen.

[1. Ka1??? turns the game on its head and allows Black to win by playing g6 first and getting his king to the pawns first. 1… g6 (1… Kc2 2. Ka2 Kc1) 2. hxg6 hxg6 3. fxg6 (3. f6 Kd2 4. Kb2 Ke3 5. Kc3 Kf4 6. Kd4 Kxg5 7. Ke5 Kh5 8. Kf4 (8. Kd6 g5 9. Ke7 Kg6 Black wins) 8… g5 9. Kg3 (9. Kf5) 9… Kg6 10. Kh3 Kxf6 Black wins) 3… fxg6 4. Ka2 Kd2 5. Kb3 Ke3 6. Kc2 Kf4 7. Kd1 Kxg5 8. Ke2 Kg4 9. Kf2 Kh3 10. Kg1 g5 11. Kh1 g4 12. Kg1 Kg3 Black takes the opposition and wins. 13. Kh1 Kf2 14. Kh2 g3 15. Kh3 g2 16. Kg4 g1=Q Black wins;

  1. Kb3 g6 (1… Kd2 2. g6 hxg6 3. f6 gxf6 4. h6 White wins as in the main line) 2. hxg6 hxg6 3. fxg6 fxg6 4. Kc3 Kd1 5. Kd4 Ke2 6. Ke5 Kf3 7. Kf6 Kf4 8. Kxg6 White wins;

Even this move wins. 1. Ka3 g6 (1… Kd2 2. g6 hxg6 3. f6 gxf6 4. h6 f5 5. h7 f4 6. h8=Q f3 7. Qd8 Ke2 8. Qe7 Kf1 9. Qxf7 f2 10. Qe6 Kg1 (or 10… g5 11. Kb3 Kg1 12. Qg4 Kh2 13. Qf3 g4 14. Qxf2 Kh3 15. Kc2 g3 16. Qf4 g2 17. Qg5 g1=N 18. Qxg1 Kh4 19. Kd3 Kh5 20. Qg7 Kh4 21. Ke3 Kh5 22. Kf3 Kh4 23. Qg4#) 11. Qg4 (Not 11. Qxg6?? which leads to a theoretical draw.  One of three things will happen, Black will queen the pawn, Black will be stalemated on h1 when White captures the pawn with his queen, the position will be repeated three times allowing Black to claim a draw or 50 moves will be played without anything being captured or the pawn moving, allowing Black to claim a draw.  The one thing Black must avoid to secure the draw is stepping his king in front of the pawn since that would allow White’s king to move towards the kingside.  I note that the position would also be a draw if Black’s pawn was on h2.) 11… Kh2 12. Qf3 Kg1 13. Qg3 Kf1 14. Kb3 Ke2 15. Qg4 Ke1 16. Qe4 Kd2 17. Qd5 Ke2 18. Qg2 Ke3 (18… Ke1 19. Kc2 Ke2 20. Qe4 Kf1 21. Qg4 g5 (21… Ke1 22. Qd1#) 22. Kd3 Ke1 23. Qe2#) 19. Kc2 g5 20. Kd1 Kf4 (20… g4 21. Qg3 Ke4 22. Qxf2 White wins) 21. Qxf2 White wins) 2. hxg6 hxg6 3. f6 Kd2 4. Kb4 Ke3 5. Kc5 Kf4 6. Kd6 Kxg5 7. Ke7 Kh4 8. Kxf7 g5 9. Ke6 g4 10. f7 g3 11. f8=Q Kh3 12. Ke5 Kg2 13. Ke4 Kg1 14. Qh6 g2 15. Kf3 Kf1 16. Qh3 Ke1 17. Qxg2 Kd1 18. Qb2 Ke1 19. Qc1#]

Back to the main (intended) line. 1… hxg6

[Or 1… fxg6 2. h6! and White will win much as in the main line. 2… gxh6 3. f6 Kd2 4. f7 Ke3 5. f8=Q g5 6. Qxh6 Kf4 7. Qxh7 g4 8. Qh2 Kf3 9. Qg1 White wins]

  1. f6! Now no matter what Black does, White’s f-pawn or h-pawn will queen.

2… gxf6 The best hope since Black ends up with three pawns for the queen.

  1. h6 Kd2 If Black does not move his king towards the pawns, they will all be quickly lost.
  2. h7 Ke3 5. h8=Q f5 6. Qe8 Kf3 7. Qxf7 f4 8. Qxg6 Ke3 9. Qg2 f3 10. Qf1 Black’s pawn is no longer a threat to queen.  Meanwhile White will bring his king over the finish the deal.

10… Ke4 11. Kb3 Ke3 12. Kc4 Ke4 13. Qf2 Ke5 14. Qxf3 Ke6 15. Qf4 Kd7 16. Kd5 Ke7 17. Qf5 Kd8 18. Kd6 Ke8 19. Qf1 Kd8 20. Qf8# [1:0]

3.

I saw this puzzle a long time ago.  I can’t remember where, but when I saw the solution, it was permanently imprinted in my brain,

In order to win, White has to get back to the original position, but with Black to move.  If he does that, then he will win Black’s last pawn and the game.

The idea of getting back to the original position with the opposite side to play is called “triangulation.”  The idea is that the player on the move has three safe squares for his king but the opponent’s king only has two.  But in this case there are more squares involved and  it takes more than the three moves implied by the term.

White to play and win.

  1. Kd5

1… Kc8

[1… Kd8 Allows White to win faster. 2. Kd6 Kc8 3. c7 Kb7 4. Kd7 Ka8 5. c8=Q Ka7 6. Qg8 Kb7 7. Qb3 Ka8 8. Kc6 Ka7 9. Qb7#;

1… Kb8 Allows White to win faster. 2. Kd6 Ka7 3. c7 Kb7 4. Kd7 Ka8 5. c8=Q Ka7 6. Qc5 Kb7 7. Qe7 Kb8 8. Kc6 Kc8 9. Qc7#]

  1. Kd4

[2. Kd6 Works but takes longer. 2… Kd8 3. Kd5 Kc8 4. Kc4 Kd8 5. Kd4 Kc8 6. Kd5 Kc7 7. Kc5 He gets to the key position two moves slower than the main line. 7… Kc8 8. Kb6 Kb8 9. Kxa6 Kc7 10. Kb5 Kc8 11. Kb6 Kd8 12. c7 Kd7 13. a6 Ke6 14. a7 Kf5 15. a8=Q Ke5 16. Qf8 Kd5 17. c8=Q Ke4 18. Qc4 Ke5 19. Qff4#]

2… Kd8

[2… Kc7 Allows White to win faster. 3. Kc5 Kc8 4. Kb6 Kb8 5. Kxa6 Kc7 6. Kb5 Kc8 7. Kb6 Kd8 8. c7 Kd7 9. a6 Ke6 10. a7 Kf5 11. c8=Q Kf4 12. a8=Q Ke5 13. Qf3 Kd6 14. Qf6 Kd5 15. Qcc6#;

2… Kb8 Amounts to the same thing. 3. Kc4 Kc8 4. Kd5 Kc7 5. Kc5 Kc8 6. Kb6 Kb8 7. Kxa6 Kc7 8. Kb5 Kc8 9. Kb6 Kd8 10. c7 Kd7 11. a6 Ke6 12. a7 Kf5 13. c8=Q Kf4 14. a8=Q Ke5 15. Qf3 Kd6 16. Qf6 Kd5 17. Qcc6#]

  1. Kc4

[3. Kd5 Works but takes longer. 3… Kc8 4. Kc4 Kd8 5. Kd4 Kc8 6. Kd5 Kc7 7. Kc5 Again he has taken two moves longer to get to the key position. 7… Kc8 8. Kb6 Kb8 9. Kxa6 Kc7 10. Kb5 Kc8 11. Kb6 Kd8 12. a6 Ke8 13. c7 Ke7 14. a7 Kd7 15. a8=Q Ke7 16. c8=Q Kf6 17. Qf3 Kg6 18. Qff5 Kg7 19. Qcf8#;

  1. Kc5 Kc7 Repeats the starting position with White to move – not what White wants unless he is going for a draw.]

3… Kc8

[3… Kc7 Allows White to win faster. 4. Kc5 Kc8 5. Kb6 Kb8 6. Kxa6 Kc7 7. Kb5 Kc8 8. Kb6 Kd8 9. a6 Ke7 10. c7 Kf6 11. a7 Kf5 12. c8=Q Ke4 13. a8=Q Kf4 14. Qg2 Ke5 15. Qgg4 Kf6 16. Qce6#]

  1. Kd5

[4. Kc5 Kc7 Repeats the starting position with White to move again]

4… Kc7

[4… Kd8 Allows White to win faster. 5. Kd6 Kc8 6. c7 Kb7 7. Kd7 Ka8 8. c8=Q Ka7 9. Qc5 Kb7 10. Qb4 Ka8 11. Kc6 Ka7 12. Qb7#;

4… Kb8 Allows White to win faster. 5. Kd6 Ka7 6. c7 Kb7 7. Kd7 Ka8 8. c8=Q Ka7 9. Qc5 Kb8 10. Qb4 Ka8 11. Kc6 Ka7 12. Qb7#]

  1. Kc5! White finally gets back to the original position with Black to move!

5… Kc8 6. Kb6 Kb8 7. Kxa6 White wins Black’s lone pawn.

7… Kc7 8. Kb5 Black can no longer stop the pawns from queening.

[Not 8. Ka7?? Kxc6 Draw.  White will never be able to queen his remaining pawn]

One possible finish: 8… Kc8 9. Kb6 Kd8 10. a6 Ke7 11. a7 Ke6 12. c7 Kf5 13. a8=Q Kg6 14. c8=Q Kg5 15. Qf3 Kg6 16. Qff5 Kg7 17. Qcf8# [1:0]

4.

This is a problem I composed myself a long time ago.

The theme in this puzzle is “interference” – your opponent has a critical goal, so you throw a piece in his way to stop him from doing it.  Often, as in this case, the piece is sacrificed.

White to play and win.

  1. d5!

[Advancing the passed pawn looks good, but Black’s king runs it down and the game ends in a draw. 1. a4? Ke4 2. a5 Kd5 3. Kf2 Kc6 4. Kf3 Kb5 5. Ke4 (5. Kg4 Kxa5 6. Kxg5 Kb5 7. Kf6 Kc4 8. Kxe6 Kxd4=) 5… Kxa5 6. Ke5 Kb4 7. Kxe6 g4 8. d5 g3 9. d6 g2 10. d7 g1=Q 11. d8=Q=;

  1. Ke1 Ke3 2. Kf1 Kf3]

Black has to take because otherwise the pawn will queen. 1… exd5 But now Black’s own pawn blocks the path his king needs to intercept White’s a-pawn.

[1… g4 2. dxe6 g3 3. e7 g2 4. Kg1 White wins]

  1. a4 d4 But with two passed pawns and one further advanced than White’s passed pawn, it looks like Black has a chance.

[2… g4 3. a5 g3 4. a6 g2 5. Kg1 d4 6. a7 d3 7. a8=Q White wins;

2… Ke4 3. a5 Ke5 4. a6 Kd6 5. a7 Kc7 Because his own pawn blocked his path, Black’s king gets there too late. 6. a8=Q White wins]

  1. a5 d3 4. Ke1 g4 5. a6 g3 6. a7 g2 7. a8=Q Sorry Black, your pawn is one move too late.

7… Kg3 8. Qg8 Kf3 9. Qg5 d2 The last desperate attempt to hold.

  1. Kxd2 Kf2 11. Qf4 White forces Black’s king in front of his pawn setting up the win.

11… Kg1 12. Ke2 Kh1 13. Qh4 Kg1 14. Kf3 Kf1 15. Qh3 Ke1 16. Qxg2 Kd1 17. Qb2 Ke1 18. Qc1# [1:0]

How to Make Staying Inside Safe and Fun for Kids

By Amy Collett, Founder of Bizwell

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Having children home from school or daycare means finding ways to keep them entertained throughout the day. This can be a major challenge, especially for parents who are trying to work from home. Often, it feels like the only option is putting them in front of a screen. However, many parents feel guilt and worry that their little ones are not getting the stimulation they need to stay healthy.

Here are a few (mostly) screen-free ways to keep kids occupied throughout the day:

Learn Chess from Premier Chess

Have some messy fun with finger paint.

Build a pillow fort.

Do these science experiments with household items.

Teach them to cook.

Take advantage of the benefits of classical music by setting aside daily personal listening time.

Avoid boredom with these boredom busters for teens.

Let them enjoy some screen time.

Children can get restless and bored easily, but having a stock of great activities on hand keeps them (and you) sane. When your kiddos start getting stir crazy, turn to one of the fun items on this list and see if they have a fun time with it. Make a note for particularly successful games or activities to bring out again at a later date. Before you know it, you will have something to turn to anytime your kids need something to do!

 

The Gradual Return to Over the Board Chess

By CEO National Master Evan Rabin 

Evan Playing a Tournament in Kiryat Ono, Israel in August 2018

It has been  just over a year since all the schools around the country closed and 99% of our programming went virtual. In the beginning of the pandemic, my rabbi Mark Wildes, The Founder of Manhattan Jewish Experience, encouraged his students to use COVID-19 as an opportunity, not a problem. While, we could no longer meet in person, all the Manhattan Jewish Experience Fellow would still meet to learn each week via Zoom. Likewise, we converted most of corporate classes and school programs to virtual learning and we started offering public camps and group classes. We are continuing to do that as we are looking forward to our virtual summer camp, but we are excited to start offering COVID-19 safe in-person programming for the first time since February 2020! I personally have had both of my vaccines and most of our instructors have as well.

Here are the some of the in-person programs that we are excited about:

1) In-Person Quads in Central Park, May 8 

-Open to players of all skill levels

-Masks required.

-USCF Dual Rated

-$60 to 1st place in each quad

2)Spring Youth Beginner Class in Rego Park, May 6-June 24

Who: All Children Ages 5-10

Where: Work & Tot 96-18 63rd Dr 3rd floor, Rego Park, NY 11374

When: Thursdays from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM, May 6- June 24

3) 3rd Annual Make a Difference Teaching Chess in Africa Trip, July 11-18, 2021


In the heat of the pandemic last year we unfortunately had to cancel the 2020 trip, but we are looking forward to returning to partner with Make a Difference Now this July. We will be teaching at a young women’s technology center for six days and doing an optional safari. I look forward to training another team of high-school and college students and adults during this wonderful experience. Vaccines are a requirement in order to attend. Learn more about trip by listening to our podcast episode with Make a Difference Now Founder Theresa Grant.

While it is still important to keep COVID-19 safety top of mind, that does not need mean you need to stick at home. If done in a safe way, in-person events can be healthy. We will certainly still offer virtual classes forever, you can expect to see more Premier Chess in-person classes and tournaments as time goes on.

 

 

The Queen’s Gambit – Another Possible Inspiration

By Matthew Grinberg, Founder of Alamogordo Chess Club

As noted in a recent post, Diana Lanni has been suggested (by herself, among others) as a possible inspiration for Walter Tevis in writing The Queen’s Gambit.

Another teenage girl Baraka Shabazz, who was playing a strong game of chess around the same time, may have also been an inspiration for Tevis.

Here is a story about her from the Washington Post the title of which suggests this influence.

In 1981 at the age of 15 and the sixth rated female player in the US, she was invited to play in the first World Under-16 Girls’ Chess Tournament.  As noted in the Washington Post article, “In a field of 32 contestants from 18 countries, she won three games and drew four, sharing third-place honors with two others.”

At the time she was living in the Washington, DC area, and had gained considerable attention in the local chess community.  I lived in the area at the same time and in October, 1981 I was paired against her in a DC Chess League match.  Given her reputation, I was  apprehensive about playing her.  Early in the middle game I was in a constrained position and gave up a pawn to get my pieces active.  When it became apparent that I was going to win the pawn back with an even position, she offered a draw and I thankfully accepted.

In 1983 after a bad performance in the World Open, she unfortunately quit chess and never came back.

Here is an entertaining game she played in 1980.  Her opponent tries to blitz her off the board from the start, but ends up paying the price.  Her queen sacrifice at the end is great:

 Arne, Mike – Shabazz, Baraka, 0-1  

Berkeley Open  

Berkeley, California, 1980  

   Petroff’s Defense: Urusov Gambit

 

  1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. d4 This is a dynamic answer to Petroff’s Defense.

[The standard line is 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. d4 d5 White has his normal opening advantage]

3… exd4!?

[More common is 3… Nxe4 4. Bd3 d5 5. Nxe5 Nd7 6. Nxd7 Bxd7 7. O-O Again White has his normal opening advantage]

  1. Bc4!? The Urusov Gambit – Until I looked at this game I had never heard of it.

[Better and leading to an advantage in development for White is 4. e5 Ne4 5. Qxd4 d5 6. exd6 Nxd6 7. Nc3]

4… Nxe4!? Shabazz accepts the gambit.

[4… Nc6 transposes to a common line of the Two Knights Defense. 5. e5 d5 6. Bb5 Ne4 7. Nxd4 Bd7=]

  1. Qxd4 Nf6 6. Bg5 Be7 7. Nc3 Nc6

[In the following game, Black makes a serious error on his last move. 7… c6 8. O-O-O d5 9. Rhe1 Be6 10. Qh4 Nbd7 11. Nd4 O-O 12. Rxe6 fxe6 13. Nxe6 Qe8 14. Nxf8 Qxf8 15. Bd3 Re8 16. Qh3 Qf7 17. Ne2 Nf8 18. Bd2 Bc5 19. Ng3 Ne4 20. Nf5 Nxf2 21. Qg3 Nxd3 22. Qxd3 Ng6 23. Rf1 Qc7 24. Bc3 Bf8 25. h4 Ne5 26. Qg3 Qb8?? (26… h5 keeps him in the game.) 27. Bxe5 1-0, Nikitin, Andrey (RUS) 2458 – Afonin, Sergey (RUS) 2195, St. Petersburg 2003 Tournament (open) “Petersburg’s Autumn”   If the game had continued, then he would have had to give up his queen to avoid checkmate. 27… Qxe5 28. Nh6 Kh8 29. Qxe5 Black cannot recapture]

  1. Qh4 d6 9. O-O-O Be6 10. Bxe6 fxe6 11. Rhe1 Qd7N

[This simultaneous game is the last game in my database that follows this line.  White’s nice trick at the end securs the draw. 11… Qc8 12. Ne4 e5 13. Nxf6 Bxf6 14. Bxf6 gxf6 15. Qxf6 Rf8 16. Qg7 Qd7 17. Qxd7 Kxd7 18. Nxe5 Nxe5 19. Rxe5 Rxf2 20. Rg5 Re8 21. Rg7 Kc6 22. Kb1 Ree2 23. Rc1 Rxg2 24. Rxh7 Rxh2 25. Rxh2 Rxh2 26. a4 Kc5 27. b3 c6 28. Kb2 d5 29. Rg1 d4 30. Rg3 a6 31. Rf3 b5 32. axb5 axb5 33. Kc1 Kb4 34. Rf4 c5 35. Kb2 Rd2 36. Rh4 Ka5 37. Kc1 Rg2 38. Rf4 Kb4 39. Kb2 Rd2 40. Rh4 c4 41. bxc4 bxc4 42. Rxd4! Rxd4 43. c3 1/2-1/2, Hausner, Ivan (CZE) 2434 – Satransky, Jaroslav (CZE) 2225, Rakovnik 2001 Simultaneous]

  1. Qc4 O-O-O 13. Rxe6 White wins back the pawn and still has more active pieces, but Black’s d-pawn against no center pawns for White gives her compensation 13… h6 14. Bf4 d5 15. Qe2 Bc5
  2. Rxf6?! He gives up an exchange for a pawn to break up Black’s position and launch an attack – it’s daring, but not sound. The game begins to go wacko and both players have a hard time finding their way in the complications.

[After 16. Bg3 Rhf8 17. Kb1 the game is equal]

16… gxf6 17. Nxd5 With threats on c7, f6 and b6 it looks like White’s sacrifice was good. 17… Bd6? This is the obvious way to stop the threats on c7 and b6, only giving up the pawn on f6.  But…

[Both players overlooked 17… Nd4! Now Black threatens to take the queen with check or take the undefended knight on d5. 18. Nxd4 Qxd5 Black still has an exchange for a pawn]

  1. Bxd6 cxd6

[Also playable is 18… Qxd6 19. Nb6 axb6 20. Rxd6 Rxd6 Black has two rooks for a queen and pawn, but the pawn structure gives White a small edge]

  1. Qc4 Kb8 20. Nxf6?! Winning the pawn with an attack on the queen is obvious, but it is premature.

[Black cannot correct the weakness in her pawn structure.  It is best for White to increase the pressure on Black and secure his own pawn structure before trying to cash in. 20. Nh4! Qe6 (Or 20… Qg7 21. Ne3 Ne7 22. Qe6 d5 23. Nhf5 Nxf5 24. Qxf5 Qg5 25. Rxd5=) 21. Qf4 h5 22. g3 Ne5 23. Nf5 Rhg8 24. Qe4 Rde8 25. f4 Nc6 26. Qxe6 Rxe6= The knights have a strangle hold on Black’s position and give him compensation for being down an exchange for a pawn]

20… Qg7 21. Ng4 Rhe8?!

[21… d5 gains some space since 22. Rxd5? (Better is 22. Qf4 Ka8 But Black is still better because, in the open position Black’s rooks are more active than White’s knights) 22… Rxd5 23. Qxd5 Qxg4 leaves Black up a rook for three pawns]

  1. Ne3 White’s position is now solid and Black can no longer play d5. 22… Qg6 23. Nd4 Ne5 24. Qb4 d5 She advances the d-pawn anyway. It works here, but it comes with some risk. 25. Ndf5!? He suckers Black into a bad move.

[But the solid 25. g3 may be better]

25… Rd7?! Shabazz overlooks the trick Arne has up his sleeve.

[25… Nc4! would hold the d-pawn with an equal position. 26. c3 (Not 26. Rxd5?? Rxd5 27. Nxd5 Qxg2! 28. Qxc4 Qg1 29. Kd2 Qxf2 30. Kc3 (30. Kd3 Qe2 31. Kc3 Rc8 Black wins) 30… Rc8 Black wins) 26… h5 27. g3 Qf7 28. Nxc4 dxc4 29. Nd4=]

  1. Rxd5! Rc7? Black now sees the problem with playing to win the knight on f5, but balks too soon.

[Even though it does not win the knight 26… Rxd5 it is still best. 27. Nxd5 Qc6 (27… Qxf5?? 28. Qd6 Ka8 29. Nc7 Kb8 30. Na6 Ka8 31. Qb8 Rxb8 32. Nc7#) 28. Qd4 Qc4 29. Qxc4 Nxc4 30. Nfe3 Nxe3 31. Nxe3 With three pawns for the exchange, White is better, but Black has chances]

  1. Qf4 Down three pawns for an exchange and with three of her pieces in the line of the White queen on the h2-b1 diagonal, Black is in serious trouble. 27… Qf6 28. Kb1? White thinks that he is getting his king out of harm’s way, but in fact he is setting himself up for disaster because of the potential for Black’s rook on e8 to get to e1. Shabazz pounces on the idea immediately! I have a suspicion that White was short of time since he misses a lot in the last 9 moves.

[28. Qxh6 Qxh6 29. Nxh6 Rh7 30. Nef5 With four pawns for an exchange, White should win]

28… Nc4! 29. Qd4!? Okay, but…

[The better way to stop the mate threat on b2 is 29. c3 which also stops back rank mate threats. 29… Qc6 30. a3 Rf8 31. Qxc4 Qxc4 32. Nxc4 Rxc4 White has a small edge;

  1. Nxc4?? Re1 30. Qc1 Rxc1 31. Kxc1 Rxc4 Black wins]

29… Nxe3! Now it is Black that suckers White into a bad move. 30. Qxf6? You would think a player would be wary when their opponent leaves her queen hanging.  But perhaps, as I suggested earlier, he was in time trouble.

[30. fxe3 Qxd4 31. Rxd4 Rf7 32. g4 h5 33. h3 hxg4 34. hxg4 Rh7 35. b3 White has three pawns for the exchange, but his isolated e and g-pawns give Black equality]

30… Nxd5! Capturing the rook, attacking the undefended queen and threatening mate in one.  White is forced to give up his queen for a rook, leaving him a rook down. 31. Qxh6 Re1 32. Qc1 Rxc1 33. Kxc1 Nf4 34. g4? This saves the g-pawn from immediate capture, but weakens his pawn structure.  If White had a chance to save the game, it is gone with this move.

[34. g3 also loses the f-pawn, but it keeps his remaining kingside pawns safe. 34… Nd3 35. Kd2 Nxf2 With three pawns for the rook, including two connected passed pawns, White has chance, but Black should still win]

34… Nd3 35. Kd2 Nxf2 Now because of the weakness created by his 34th move, he loses another pawn. 36. g5

[No better is 36. Ne3 Rg7 37. h3 Nxh3 leaving Black up a rook for two pawns anyway]

36… Ne4 White resigns. [0:1]

I think Mike Arne learned that he should not play for tactics against Baraka Shabazz.

 

Diana Lanni-Was She Inspiration for Beth Harmon?

By Matthew Grinberg, Founder of Alamogordo Chess Club

There has been a lot of talk recently about the possibility that Diana Lanni was Walter Tevis‘ inspiration for Beth Harmon in The Queen’s Gambit

This is what is known:

  1. Lanni and Tevis were both playing chess in the same circles in New York City in the 1970’s.
  2. Like Beth Harmon, Diana Lanni became intrigued with chess at a young age.
  3. Both had difficulties in their childhood.
  4. Both became chess masters at a young age and travelled to Europe to play.

In addition, Lanni had her greatest success as a player in the around 1980, when she twice played in the US Women’s Championship and was selected for the USA Women’s Team at the 1982 Olympiad.  This was at the same time Tevis was writing “The Queen’s Gambit,” which was published in 1983.

See  our podcast guest 2 time USA Women’s Champion, Jennifer Shahade’s interview with  Diana Lanni on the subject here.

All this inspired me to look up Lanni’s games from the 1982 Olympiad and annotate one.  In the following game Lanni goes for a blitzkrieg in the opening, then masterfully brings home the win in the resulting rook endgame:

Lanni, Diana (USA) – Maya De Alzate, Gloria (Columbia), 1-0  

Women’s Olympiad, Round 10  

Lucerne Switzerland, 10/1982  

Philidor’s Defense

  1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 d6 Philidor’s Defense – not very enterprising since it blocks Black’s king bishop, but solid. 3. d4 Nf6 4. dxe5 Nxe4 5. Bc4

[More common is 5. Qd5 Nc5 6. Bg5 Be7 7. exd6 Qxd6 8. Nc3 White’s pieces are more active]

5… c6 6. O-O Be7

[Again, more common is 6… d5 7. Bd3 Nc5 8. Be2=]

  1. Nbd2

[In the following game White plays for an attack on the kingside, like Diana Lanni, but it doesn’t work out so well. 7. e6?! fxe6 8. Re1 d5 9. Bd3 Nc5 10. Ne5 O-O 11. Bxh7? Kxh7 12. Qh5 Kg8 13. Re3 Rf5 14. Qh3 Bh4 15. g3 Bf6 16. Ng6 d4 17. Re1 Nba6 18. g4 Rd5 19. a3 Bd7 20. f4 Qe8 21. f5 e5 22. g5? Qxg6 23. fxg6 Bxh3 24. c4 Rd6 25. b4? Nd3 26. Rd1 Nxc1 0-1, Boshnakov, Simeon – Chuchelov, Vladimir (BEL) 2554, Teteven 1991 It (open)]

7… Nxd2 8. Bxd2 O-O?!

[It is better for Black to secure her center before deciding what to do with her king. 8… d5=]

  1. Re1?! But White misses her opportunity.

[With better development, White should open up the game. 9. exd6 Qxd6 10. Re1 Nd7 11. Bg5 Qxd1 12. Raxd1 White’s more active pieces give her the better game]

9… d5 Better late than never. 10. Bd3 She aims her bishop at h7 setting up the potential for the Greek Gift – 11. Bxh7+ Kxh7, 12. Ng5+ but right now the combination would not work because of 12… Bxg5, 13. Qh5+ Bh6. 10… Bg4 Though the pin on the knight looks good, by setting the bishop out there undefended, the Greek Gift becomes a more legitimate possibility.  Black correctly sees that the combination still doesn’t work and is trying to goad Lanni into playing it. 11. h3 White encourages the bishop to drop back to h5, so that if she plays the combination her queen will capture the bishop with check. 11… Bh5 12. Qe2! This subtle move sets up a position where the sacrifice is a real threat.

[The immediate sacrifice still doesn’t work 12. Bxh7? because after 12… Kxh7 13. Ng5 Kg6! The king defends the bishop!  White is down a bishop and her queen and knight are both hanging.  She has no good way to follow up the attack in spite of the exposed position of Black’s king]

12… Nd7

  1. Bxh7?! The Geek Gift – objectively not the best move, but very enterprising! Diana is confident she will overcome her opponent in the complications.

[A solid alternative is 13. b4 to restrain Black’s position]

13… Kxh7 14. Ng5 Bxg5

[Not 14… Kg6??? as in the note to White’s 12th move, because of 15. Qd3! This was the point of 12. Qe2. 15… f5 16. exf6 Kxf6 17. Re6#]

  1. Qxh5 Bh6 16. g4 Re8?! Black misses her chance to punish White for the premature sacrifice.

[What’s happening on the h-file is more important than what is happening on the e-file. 16… Rh8! 17. Qf5 (17. g5? g6 18. Qxh6 Kg8 White’s queen is trapped! 19. e6 Rxh6 20. exd7 Rxh3 21. Re8 Qxe8 22. dxe8=Q Rxe8 Black wins) 17… g6 18. Qxf7 Bg7 19. e6 Nc5 20. Bb4 Ne4 21. Kg2 Qf6 22. Qxf6 Nxf6 23. Rad1 Rae8 White does not have enough for being down a knight for two pawns]

  1. Bxh6 gxh6 18. Qxf7 Kh8 19. e6 Qf6? After this mistake, White just ends up with an extra pawn.

[Better is 19… Re7! 20. Qh5 Nc5 21. Qxh6 Rh7 22. Qf4 Qf8 23. Qe5 Qg7 24. Qxg7 Kxg7 25. Re3 Kf6 26. Rae1 Re7 27. b4 Nxe6 28. Re5 White is down a knight for two pawns, but her three connected passed pawns make the position unclear]

  1. Qxd7 Re7 21. Qd6 Rae8 22. Qe5!? Good enough to maintain the advantage…

[but 22. Re2! is even better. 22… Rxe6 23. Rae1!! Rxd6 24. Rxe8 Kg7 25. R1e7 Qf7 26. Rxf7 Kxf7 27. Ra8 Unlike in the game continuation, White ends up in a pawn up rook endgame with her rook deep in Black’s territory]

22… Kg7 23. f4 Qxe5 24. Rxe5 Rxe6 25. Rxe6 Rxe6 After all the complications that started with the Greek Gift on move 13, the dust has finally settled.  White has a pawn advantage and a protected passed pawn on f4.  Black has some chances because she has control of the only open file with his rook.  But Diana Lanni plays the endgame very methodically to bring home the point.

  1. Kf2 Re4 27. Kf3 Kf6 28. Rd1 a5 29. Rd3 Rc4!? She shouldn’t give up the open file. One of the most important principles in rook endgames, both on offense and defense, is to keep your rook active.

[29… Re1 30. Rb3 Rf1 31. Kg3 Rc1 32. Rxb7 Rxc2 In spite of White’s menacing kingside pawns, Black’s passed d-pawn gives her chances to hold]

  1. c3 Re4 31. Re3 Ra4

[Trading rooks would give White an easy win in the pawn endgame. 31… Rxe3? 32. Kxe3 c5 33. a4 White wins]

  1. a3 b5?! When you are down in material in the endgame, it is important to trade off pawns, but this line is too slow.

[32… d4 immediately forces an exchange and reactivates her rook. 33. cxd4 (Or 33. Rd3 dxc3 34. Rxc3 Rd4 Black has drawing chances) 33… Rxd4 Black has drawing chances]

Now it becomes a slow grind with Lanni using her extra pawn and superior rook to force the win. 33. h4 b4 34. f5 c5 35. axb4 axb4 36. Re6 Kg7 37. Rg6 Kh7 38. Rd6 bxc3 39. bxc3 Ra3 40. Rxd5 Rxc3 41. Kf4 Rh3? She hopes to induce White into taking the c-pawn, which would likely end in a draw.

[A better try is 41… Rc4 though White still wins after 42. Kf3 Rc3 43. Kf2 Rc2 44. Ke3 c4 45. g5]

  1. Rd7! Sorry!

[42. Rxc5? Rxh4 43. Kg3 Rh1 44. Rc7 Kg8 White will have a hard time making progress with both her king and her g-pawn exposed to attack from Black’s rook]

42… Kg8 43. h5 c4 44. f6 c3 45. Rc7 Rd3

  1. g5! This is much better than immediately advancing the king.

[46. Kf5?! Rd5 Though 47. Ke6 still wins. (47. Kg6?? Rg5 48. Kxh6 Rxg4 49. Rxc3 Kf7 Black should draw)]

46… hxg5 47. Kf5! Black sees the inevitable and resigns.  White’s king will use the Black g-pawn as a shield to drop his king into g6 for the final attack. […]

[47… Rd8 Black drops her rook back to stop the quick mate, but she can’t stop White from queening a pawn. 48. Kg6 Kh8 49. Rh7 Kg8 50. f7 Kf8 51. Rh8 Ke7 52. Rxd8 Kxd8 53. f8=Q White wins]

[1:0]

This was an intriguing game displaying quite different aspects of Lanni’s chess mastery.

 

 

Planning in Chess and Cybersecurity

By Uri Rozenblat, Founder and CEO of Tech-Alert

Chess and cybersecurity have many similarities. Whether you are a business owner, employee, a mother, a father, or an individual at home, your goal is to protect your most valuable asset. In chess, you call that asset, the king.

In cybersecurity, it is your business, home, family, identity, etc.

Hackers and other malicious players are your opponents, trying to capture your king through sophisticated thought-out attacks. In chess, the game is mostly for fame, but in life, it’s usually for money or other malicious intent.

You know what a Pawn is. Do you know what it means to “have been Pwned?”

Check out this helpful free tool related to protecting your identity.

Did you know that today, information is worth more than oil? Your data and sensitive information are worth a lot of money.

Core concepts in chess or cybersecurity are to protect ourselves, detect the next attack, and respond quickly to foil our opponent’s attack.

In short, protect, detect, and respond are a must if we are to survive.

Protect:  people have anti-virus and at least one person they consider their IT expert. Your mindset is I AM SECURE; the reality is that it’s A FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY. Having a tool (anti-virus) that provides some security does not fully protect you. So, you have an anti-virus and IT person…

When was the last time you looked at your anti-virus log?

And, let’s say you opened the log and read some IT gibberish; what does it mean?

I don’t know IT all. Who is your expert security team with the experience to help with what you have to do next?

Detect and protect is where most of us fail. We live with a misconception that tools will protect us. A tool without someone to wield it is not very effective and mostly even useless. If you are that expert, that’s great, but most of us need real experts to protect and respond quickly to threats, just as chess players need good coaches to get to the next level.

Learn more about how Tech-Alert can help protect individuals and businesses alike here. Tech-Alert is one of our esteemed corporate partners. 

 

Our Multi-Talented Team

Instructors, Friends, Family and Clients at our 2nd Annual Holiday Party in December 2019

We have 48 great instructors who teach students of all ages and skill levels in corporate, school, group and private settings. All of them have 3+ years of teaching experience and are rated tournament players. However, one that sets some apart is that they have other great projects/businesses that they are working on, in and outside of the chess world. Just like I support our many partners, it is important to recognize the work that our instructors do outside of teaching for us. Each instructor has different stories as they are in different parts of the country, are in different stages of their career, etc. Here are some of the great initiatives they are working on:

Director of Virtual Program Brian Wilmeth is a programmer. His company is currently working on a Nintendo Switch game called LightBulb and is designing apps for Preschool University.  It is also currently upgrading Sound Beginnings and Partners In Rhyme on the apple App Store. Previously, Brian has updated my father Keith Rabin’s foreign investor relations company KWRINTL’s site.

 Director of School Programs Phil Rosenberg has had his own Radio Show and currently operates his Youtube channel unphiltered with Phil Rosenberg. See my guest appearance on his Youtube channel about chess during the COVID-19 pandemic here:

Our recent podcast guest Jerald Times, University of Texas at Dallas’ Chess Educator of the Year and Jeopardy champion and game show host National Expert Jonathan Corbblah has also made an appearances:

Grandmaster Mark Paragua, who teaches our most advanced students,  is the leader of the Camarines in the Professional Chess Association of the Philippines and is the co-founder of NY Chess Academy.

Candidate Master Danilo Cuellar, who currently teaches our Adult Beginner class and a lot of private lessons, virtually and in-person in Rockland County and New Jersey, has his own Youtube channel Danilovich chess.

Westchester Instructor Nathan Resika is a semi-professional opera singer. I once with my grandmother Roberta and uncle Adam to hear him perform  in La Traviata. He sings the National Anthem and other songs at many of the over the board tournaments he plays, including the Amateur Team East; I look forward to hearing him again at a tournament one day; I am optimistic they will happen! Continental Chess Association did announce the World Open, Chicago Open and other events will happen over the board this year, and the U.S Open is slated to take place in New Jersey in August.

New York Instructor Gary Ryan has a Masters in Theology from Harvard University and does K-12 tutoring of all traditional subjects and religion, virtually and in-person.

Manhattan Instructor Jason Ciano is a professional bridge player and teaches quantitative reasoning, teamwork, confidence and more through the game.

Nashville, TN Instructor Alan Kantor has a medical billing company.

Brownsville, TX Instructor Ray Martinez is the founder of the nightly Talk Show Central RGV Style.

New Jersey Instructor Sean Finn is the manager of the Garden State Passers, which was been doing great commentary on major events, including the Amateur Team East.  He helped me prepare for my Amateur Team South and Amateur Team North commentaries.

What projects do your staff do outside of work?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Favorite Quotes from Garry Kasparov’s “How Life Imitates Chess”

By Olga Inglis, Premier Chess Manager of Business Development 

Strategy

  • “You must always be aware of your limitations and also of your best qualities.”
  • “The ability to adapt is critical to success.”
  • “Being too far ahead of your environment can be just as bad as lagging behind your competitors.”
  • “Only when the environment shifts radically should you consider a change in fundamentals.”
  • “Avoid change for the sake of change.” (Learn more about transformational moves in this blog post by National Master Evan Rabin).
  • “Long-term success is impossible if you let your heat-of-the-moment reactions trump careful planning.”
  • “Sometimes the teacher must learn from the student.”
  • “It is so important to question success as vigorously as you question failure.”

Strategy and Tactics at Work


  • “You should have a solid and well-developed position before going on the attack, is applicable to every field of battle.”
  • “Trusting yourself means having faith in your strategy and in your instincts.”
  • “The worst enemy of the strategist is the clock.”
  • “The best plans and the most devious tactics can still fail without confidence.”
  • “Courage is the first of human qualities because it guarantees all others.”

Calculation

  • “Like the weatherman’s forecasts, the further ahead you look, the more likely it is you will miscalculate.”
  • “It is still impressive how many poetical blunders derive from “obvious” assumptions.”
  • “It doesn’t matter how far ahead you see if you don’t understand what you are looking at.”
  • “The key to calculation is understanding its limits.”

Talent

  • “Chess, along with music and mathematics, is one of the few pursuits in which superior ability and originality can manifest at a young age.”
  • “Just about every young star in any field can give credit to a determined parent giving talent a push.”
  • “I believe it’s essential to push the boundaries and constantly widen the angle of the lens we use to view the world.”
  • “If you daydream a little about what you’d like to see happen, sometimes you find that it is really possible.”
  • “Fantasy must be backed up by sober evaluation and calculation or you spend your life making beautiful blunders.”
  • “The more you experiment, the more successful your experiments will be.”

Preparation

  • “If critics and competitors can’t match your results, they will often denigrate the way you achieve them.”
  • “Be suspicious when these criticisms emerge right on the heels of a success.”
  • “Steady effort pays off, even if not always in an immediate, tangible way.”
  • “I am a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it (Thomas Jefferson).”
  • “I believe that if opportunity isn’t provided at a young age, it can be created later in adulthood through discipline and imaginative involvement in the pursuits we care about.”
  • “It is critical to know what motivates you, to find out how to push yourself that extra mile.”
  • “Through practice and observation, you must take an active role in your own education.”

MTQ:  Material, Time, Quality


  • “Being told the value is one thing, but only experience really teaches you what those values signify in the “real world” of chess.”
  • “The worst type of mistake was one produced due to a bad habit because it made you predictable.”
  • “This game serves as a testament to my philosophy of preferring time over material, favoring dynamic factors over static factors.”
  • “And I might add that in everyday life, “victory” can simplistically, perhaps a little romantically, be defined as happiness.”

Exchanges and Imbalances

  • “The cold blooded investor knows that getting something now is better than nothing later.”
  • “In chess as in life we total up the pluses and minuses in a position, then go to work figuring out how to improve our side of the ledger.”
  • “The first law of thermodynamics tells us that the total amount of energy in a system is constant, that if we move energy into one area, we lose an equal amount from another.”
  • “Physics also tells us that “ordered systems lose less energy than chaotic systems.”
  • “This is why a company that is in financial trouble should never gamble on a risky venture.”

 

Phases of the Game

  • “All the study and preparation in the world can’t show you what it’s really going to be like in the wild.”

The Attacker’s Advantage

  • “Many bad decisions come from wanting to just get the process over to escape the pressure of having to make the decision.”
  • “I like to say that the attacker always has the advantage.”
  • “‘Buy the rumors, sell news.’ Anticipation of something’s happening can be more powerful than the event itself or, put another way, is inseparable from the event itself.”
  • “If you don’t stay aggressively in front, you will quickly be left behind.”
  • “Just like Darwinism in nature, innovation is quite literally about survival. We have to keep evolving, and that means staying aggressive instead of standing still.”
  • “Pushing the action gives us more options and a greater ability to control our fate, which creates positive energy and confidence.”

Question Success

  • “I lost because I was overconfident and complacent.”
  • “This is what I call the gravity of past success. Winning creates the illusion that everything is fine.”
  • “Constant reinvention is a necessity in fast-moving areas such as manufacturing and technology.”
  • “Regardless of the methods we use to motivate ourselves, we have to create our own goals and standards and then keep raising them.”
  • “Finding ways to maintain our concentration and motivation is the key to fighting complacency.”
  • “Perhaps you should create your own “happiness index,” which can be as simple as a mental or actual list of things that motivate you and give you pleasure and satisfaction.”
  • “Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.”

The Inner Game

  • “South American liberator Simon Bolivar said, ‘Only an inexperienced soldier believes that all is lost after being defeated for the first time'”
  • “To believe the casino is to do little more than to follow superstition.”
  • “No matter how great his chess skills, he lacked the people skills to be a self-promoter and fund-raiser.”
  • “Overthinking can distract us from our concrete objectives.”

Man vs. Machine

  • “It’s a bad habit to become over reliant on one skill or way to doing things just because it has in the past worked well for you.”
  • “Successfully avoiding challenges is not an accomplishment to be proud of.”

Intuition

  • “The result of trying anything is either failure or success. If you wish to succeed, you must brave the risk of failure.”
  • “Detecting trends, preferably before anyone else, is often based on intuition and intangible elements.”

Crisis Point

  • “Crisis really means a turning point, a critical moment when the stakes are high and the outcome uncertain.  It also implies a point of no return.  This signifies both danger and opportunity.”
  • “Instead, real success depends on detecting, evaluating, and controlling risk.”

Endgame

  • “What we make of the future is defined by how well we understand and make sense of our past.”
  • “My personal map is full of gray areas, and its outer borders are never entirely complete. Most important, I have learned not to fear those unknown territories.”
  • “Whenever I’m faced with a difficult path, her words inspire me: “If not you, who else?””
  • “How success is measured is different for each of us. The first and most important step is realizing that the secret of success is inside.”