30 September 2019


One year ago, I won the Eastern Washington Open. This year, I finished second in A Class with 3.5/5.0. I won three games, lost one, and took my usual third round bye. My loss was to a young girl who I played in the first round last year. She finished with 4.0 and a tie for second place in the event.

I gave her an easy game because I engaged in some foolishness.

Deng,Lily -- Stripes,James [B43]
Eastern Washington Open (2), 28.09.2019

1.e4 e6 2.d4 c5 3.Nf3 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Nc3 Qc7 6.Be2

Black to move


I play this move because it has brought me success in blitz.

6...Nc6 is the normal move.


7.0-0 Nf6 8.Qd3 Nc6

7...Nf6 8.Bf3

8.0-0 Nc6
(8...Bxc3 9.Bxc3 Nxe4 is a line that makes a virtue out of 6...Bb4, as in Fuchs,J (2197) -- Farago,I (2482), Nuremberg 2008, which Black went on to win after a long battle. )
9.Nxc6 bxc6 10.Bd3 a5 11.Qe2 d5 12.a3 Be7 Nezhmetdinov,R -- Furman,S/Moscow 1957, URS-ch was drawn in 31 moves.

8.Bd3 Nc6 9.Nxc6 dxc6

Black to move


Emboldened by the odd placement of White's bishop, I put my queen where I knew she could be vulnerable.

8...Nc6 is simple and correct.

9.Nde2 Nc6

9...g5 at least makes sense.


Black to move


10...Be7 11.Bf4 Qa5 12.b4 Qb6;
10...Bxc3 11.Bxc3 Qc7

11.b4+- Bb6 12.Bf4 0-1

I was home early.

23 September 2019

Do Something Useful

While looking at an exercise in Imagination in Chess (2004) with one of my students, a part of the solution given stuck in my memory and then entered my consciousness while playing a rook ending a week later. The exercise was an endgame position from Polovodin -- Ivanov,A., Leningrad 1988. Paata Gaprindashvili commented, "Polovodin makes a useful move, while his opponent is denied such a possibility" (179).

Stripes,James (1851) -- Internet Opponent (1880)
Live Chess Chess.com, 20.09.2019

White to move


This move exposes my king--probably not a good decision

23.Rc8 Rbd7 24.Rxd8+ Rxd8 25.Rc6 h6 26.Rxa6 Rd5

23...Rbd7 24.b4 g6

24...Rd1+ 25.Rxd1 (25.Kg2 R8d2+ 26.Kh3 Rxc1 27.Rxc1 Kf8) 25...Rxd1+ 26.Kf2 g5

25.R1c2 Rd4

25...Rd1+ 26.Kf2 R8d2+ 27.Kf3

26.a3 Rd3 27.R5c3

The game seems headed for a draw, but there are some things that can be tried.

Black to move

27...h5 28.Kg2 Kg7 29.Kf2 R8d7 30.Ke2

The king is a fighting piece. At this point, I felt that I could at least do something that offered my opponent problems or opportunities to go astray.

30...R3d4 31.h4

Black to move


And he went astray.

31...Re4+ 32.Re3 Red4 (32...Rdd4?? 33.Rxe4 Rxe4+ 34.Kd3 Re1 35.Kd4) 33.Rc6 Rd2+ 34.Kf3 Ra7


But I failed to capitalize on the error.

I could have played 32.Rc7 Rd7 33.Rxd7 Rxd7 34.Rc6 Ra7 35.Kd3

32...Rdd7 33.Rd3 Rxd3+ 34.Kxd3 a5 35.bxa5 Rxa5 36.Rc3 Ra4 37.Rb3

Black to move


Another error.



Again, failing to capitalize. This move presents Black with a problem, but one that can be solved.



38...Ra4 was the only move.


Black to move

The fork is decisive.


39...Ra8 40.exf6+ Kxf6 41.Kxb5

40.Kxb5 Re4 41.exf6+ Kxf6 42.a4

It does not appear that Black has any way to stop this pawn. My game has become much simpler.

42...e5 43.fxe5+ Rxe5+ 44.Kc6 Kf5?

Black hastens the end by allowing a pin that forces rooks off the board.

White to move

45.Rb5 Rxb5 46.axb5 Kg4 47.b6 Kxg3 48.b7 Kxh4 49.b8Q


49...g5 50.Qh2+


50...Kg4 51.Kd5

51.Qe2+ Kh4 52.Kd5

51...h4 52.Ke4 Kh5 53.Kf5 g4 54.Qe2

54.Qb8 is a faster mate by one move.


Sometimes, it is helpful to simply keep playing chess in an equal position.

15 September 2019

Fidelity Chess Challenger

Several years ago, my wife's uncle gave me an old stand alone chess computer, Fidelity Chess Challenger. Last night, I searched and found an instruction manual online for Chess Challenger 7, which appears to have the correct instructions. I played a game on its top level--level 7. Based on research presented in the HIARCS chess forum, I believe the device was manufactured in 1980.

In the image above, the machine has played its move as O-O-O by indicating that it moves its king from e8 to c8. That move puts my king in check.

In my game, I played quickly while also reading a book. On its top level, Chess Challenger requires several minutes per move for most moves. I was reading in another room, would read a page or two, and then check on the machine. I recorded the moves on another device that allowed me to quickly email the completed score to myself.

Chess Challenger played a decent opening, reached a winning position in the middle game, and then revealed substantial weaknesses in endgame understanding. It demonstrated understanding of exploiting a pin, and using forks. It also set a simple stalemate trap near the end of the game.

Stripes,James -- Fidelity Chess Challenger [C68]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.d4

Probably a weak move on my part. I rarely play the Spanish Opening, and the exchange variation is not my usual choice when I do.


5...exd4 6.Qxd4 Qxd4 7.Nxd4 seemed okay to me.

6.dxe5 Qxd1+ 7.Kxd1

This is the position in the photograph.

7....0-0-0+ 8.Ke2

Black to move


This move struck me as odd.

8...Re8 9.Bf4 f6 10.Nbd2 fxe5 11.Bg3 Nf6 12.Rhe1 Bd6 (a later game continued 12...Nh5 13.Kf1 Nxg3+ 14.hxg3 Bc5 15.Nc4 Rhf8 16.Ncxe5?? Rxe5 17.Re2 Rh5 18.Rd2 0-1 Luptak,P (2086) --nZvarik,M (2245), Slovakia 2010.) 13.Kf1 Nh5 14.Kg1 Nxg3 15.hxg3 h5 Black won in 61 moves Aleksandrova,D (2015) -- Yilmaz,G, Albena 1977.

8...f6 9.h3 (9.Nbd2 Re8 10.h3 Bh5 11.Nf1 fxe5 12.Ng3 Bg6 13.Be3 Nf6 14.Nd2 Nd7 15.Rhd1 Be7 16.f3 Rhf8 White won in 54 moves Kieninger,G (2509) -- Rellstab,L (2478), Bad Oeynhausen 1941) 9...Bxf3+ 10.gxf3 fxe5 11.Bd2 Ne7 12.f4 exf4 13.Bxf4 Ng6 14.Bg3 Re8 15.Nd2 Bd6 Black won in 46 moves Babula,M -- Dobrovolsky,L, Brno 1969.

9.Be3 Bxf3+

This move does not exist in my database.

9...Bxe3 10.Kxe3 f6 11.Nbd2 Re8 12.exf6 Nxf6 13.Rae1 Nd5+ 14.Kd4 Nf4 15.h3 Bh5 16.g3 Ne6+ 17.Kc3 Bxf3 18.Nxf3 Rhf8 19.Re3 Nc5 and Black went on to win a pawn ending after a lot of middle game manuevering in Toumaniantz,R (2162) -- Duflot,S, Le Touquet.

If there was any sort of opening tree built into the software, it could have included moves from Lasker -- Pollock 1892.

9...Be7 My database shows four games with this move 10.h3 No other game in the database has this position. 10...Bh5 11.Nbd2 f6 12.Rhd1 fxe5 13.g4 Be8 and Black won in 42 moves Lasker,E -- Pollock,W, Baltimore 1892.


10.gxf3 might not be bad.

10...Bxe3 11.Kxe3 Nh6 12.h3 Rhe8 13.f4 f6

White to move


14.Nc3 fxe5 15.g3 exf4+ 16.gxf4 Nf5+ 17.Kf3 Nd4+ 18.Kg3 Nxc2 19.Rad1 Black should win the ending;

14.g4! fxe5 15.f5 White's kingside majority is more dangerous than Black's queenside. Such endings, as I understand, are a principle reason for playing the exchange variation of the Spanish.;

14.Nd2 fxe5 15.f5.


I had underestimated this move, having mainly assured myself that I would not lose the rook on a1.


15.Kf3 Nd4+ 16.Kg4 Nxc2 and Black wins material.


15...Nd4? 16.Nc3 Nxc2 17.f7 (17.Rad1 Rxd1 18.Rxd1 gxf6).


I realized by this point that I was clearly worse.

16...gxf6 17.Nc3

Black to move


I expected 17...Rd2+ 18.Kf3 Re8 19.Kg4 Ne3+ 20.Kh4 Rxc2-+

18.Rad1 Rxd1 19.Rxd1 Rxg3 20.Ne4

Black to move

20...Rxh3 21.Nxf6 Rh2+ 22.Kf3 Rxc2 23.Rg1 Nh4+

23...Kd8 24.Rg8+ Ke7 25.Ne4


24.Kg4 Ng6 25.f5 Ne7 26.Nxh7

Black to move

This is the type of position I like putting in front of my students. Black is clearly better, but must find a plan to neutralize White's threats. For brute force calculation with limited depth, positional understanding is vital. Chess Challenger showed the weakness in its primitive programming at this point.


This move surprised me, as my f-pawn seems dangerous in the knight ending.

24...Ng6 Before playing Rg1, I had looked at 25.f5 Ne7 26.Rg7;

24...b5! avoids the checkmate threat and gives White queenside problems that cannot be met.

25.Rxg2 Nxg2 26.Nxh7

This move was not so much to grab the pawn, although useful, as to clear the f-file and control the promotion square.


Chess Challenger's moves stopped making sense to me here. Prior to this point in the game, I had foreseen most moves.

26...Kd7 27.f5 (27.Ke5 Ne3 (27...Ke7 28.f5 Nh4) 28.b3 Ke7 29.Nf6) 27...Nh4 28.Kf4


Black to move


This move is a game losing blunder that highlights that Chess Challenger is oblivious to the dangers presented by my passed pawn.

27...Kd7 or Kd8 are the only moves that do not lose. 28.Ke5 Nh4 29.f6 Ng6+ 30.Kf5=.

28.f6+- Nd3

28...Kd7 29.f7 Ke7 30.f8Q+


However, it is possible that the software saw 29.f7 Nc5+ 30.Kf5 Nd7 in which case the knight is still lost, but White does not yet have a queen and there is a lot of work to do to use the knight to convert a pawn minority into a passed pawn.

29...c5 30.f7 a5 31.f8Q+ Kd7 32.Nf6+ Kc6 33.a4 c4+ 34.Kxc4 Kb7 35.Qf7 Ka8!

I was impressed with the stalemate trap set here.

White to move


36.Qxc7 b5+ 37.axb5 (37.Kxb5 stalemate) 37...a4 38.Nd5+-

36...Ka7 37.Qxc7+ Ka8 38.Ka6 b5 1-0

Chess Challenger made this move and then lit the "I lose" light.

11 September 2019


This position appears in Paata Gaprindashvili, Imagination in Chess, which I was using with a student this afternoon. We failed.

Black to move

09 September 2019

Floating Square

White to move

I had this position in a rapid game and spent a minute or more looking at the likely pawn ending before playing my move.

17 August 2019

An Exercise

This week's lessons with my chess students have focused on queenside pawn majorities. We look at a couple of games played by Mikhail Botvinnik, an endgame that Seigbert Tarrasch blew against Emanuel Lasker, and this position that I created.

White to move

We start with the pawn exercise, and I do not initially tell the student who is to move, nor our theme concerning queenside pawn majorities. If the student thinks the position is equal, I play White. If they think one side is winning, they get that side and get to move first.

Try it against a friend or your computer.

Then, Lasker -- Tarrasch, St. Petersburg 1914.

Black to move

We play it out. I take White.

Then we look at Botvinnik -- Kmoch, Leningrad 1934 and Botvinnik -- Konstantinopolsky, Sverdlovsk 1943. If enough time remains, we go over a game that I played a few years ago (see "Excelling at Technical Chess").

The lesson and much of its content was inspired by Max Euwe, Judgement and Planning in Chess (1953).

06 August 2019

Reiner -- Steinitz

William Steinitz moved to Vienna from his hometown of Prague in 1858, and in 1859 placed third in the city's chess championship. Databases contain three of his games against Reiner from 1860. This game cropped up in a search for examples of Arabian checkmate. White could have delayed checkmate, but he was effectively lost quite early in the game. It is a good example of a risky gambit going horribly wrong.

Reiner -- Steinitz,William [C44]
Vienna, 1860

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4 Bc5 5.0-0

5.Ng5 Nh6 6.Nxf7 Nxf7 7.Bxf7+ Kxf7 8.Qh5+ g6 9.Qxc5 d6 10.Qb5 Re8 Black won in 21 moves Meek,A -- Morphy,P, Mobile 1855. See Meek--Morphy

5.c3 is the main line, but even here Black scores well

5...d6 6.c3 Bg4

White to move


7.Bb5 dxc3 8.Nxc3 Nge7 9.h3 Bd7 (9...Bh5) 10.Bf4 (10.a3) 10...a6 11.Bc4 Ng6 12.Bg5 Qc8 White won in 40 moves Lapshun,Y (2479) -- Berczes,D (2450), Budapest 2007.

7.Bxf7+ fails 7...Kxf7 8.Ng5+ compounds White's problems 8...Qxg5 9.Bxg5 Bxd1 10.Rxd1-+;

7.Bg5 Nge7

7...Bxf3 8.Bxf7+ Kf8 9.Bxg8

9.gxf3 seems White's best chance. 9...Nf6 10.Bc4=

9...Rxg8 10.gxf3 g5

Black is better, although one master game that reached this position was won by White.

White to move


11.Nd2 seems useful. White's pieces must get into the game. 11...Ne5 12.cxd4 Bxd4 13.Nc4 Qf6 (13...Qc8? 14.Nxe5 Bxe5 15.Kg2 White won in 42 moves Kopetzky,K -- Spielmann,R, Vienna 1933) 14.Nxe5 Bxe5 and even with the reduced material, White's king is vulnerable.


White's opening must be judged a failure. A pawn was sacrificed for mobilization, but Black's pieces are better mobilized.

11...Rg6 12.Qf5+ Kg7 13.Kh1 Qe7 14.Rg1 Rf8 15.Bxg5 Rxf5 16.Bxe7 Rh5 17.b4 Bb6 18.Bxd6 cxd6 Black won in 25 moves Karaklajic,N (2405) -- Barle,J (2425), Caorle 1988.

12.Qf5+ Kg7 13.Kh1

13.Bxg5 Nxf3+ 14.Qxf3 Qxg5+ 15.Kh1 Kh8 16.Nd2 Raf8-+;

13.f4 gxf4 14.Bxf4 Kh8+ 15.Kh1 Ng4-+.

13...Kh8 14.Rg1

14.cxd4 Bxd4 15.Nc3 g4-+


White to move


15.fxg4 Qh4 (15...Rg5 16.Qf4) 16.Bf4 Nxg4 17.Rxg4 (17.Rf1 Raf8) 17...Qxg4 18.Qxg4 Rxg4 19.Bh6 Rxe4-+;

15.Bf4 Qe7 16.Bxe5+ dxe5-+.




16.Nd2 Nxg1-+;
16.Rg2 Nh4-+

White to move

This position is one of the exercises I prepared for my students. I'm sure that it appears in many tactics sets in print and online.

16...Qh4! 17.Rg2

17.Qf6 delays the end.

17...Qxh2+ 18.Rxh2 Rg1# 0-1

26 July 2019

Blunders in the Ending

These positions are from my game last night in the Spokane Contenders. Robert Fisette won the event with a score of 4-1 and will play Michael Cambareri in the City Championship August 17-18. I finished 3-2 in a tie for second place with one or two others. One game remains to be played, and it will determine who wins the second place prize (free entry to a tournament).

In each of the positions below, the player to move failed to find the correct move. In every case, the error shifted the evaluation towards his opponent's hopes for a win or draw. I had White.

1. White to move

2. Black to move

3. Black to move

4. White to move

5. Black to move

6. White to move

7. Black to move