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zenpawn’s chessblog

Watch Brooklyn Castle Online

October 13th, 2013

If you have yet to see the documentary Brooklyn Castle, now is your chance; PBS is making it available to watch for free on their website until November 6th, 2013: http://video.pbs.org/video/2365091447/

The film follows an exceptionally successful chess program (and to some extent the Chess In The Schools initiative in general) at an inner city middle school in New York over the period of a few years. It really is an inspiring story which we can only hope motivates other educators to follow suite. Students would be well served by their schools providing curriculum and opportunities for them to learn and play our beloved game.

Note: If you arrive at this post after 11/06/13, or if you want your own copy to view with friends and family, you can purchase the DVD at Amazon or rent via their Instant Video.


Bad Beat: Pocket Aces vs Backdoor Straight Flush

April 12th, 2013

No Limit Texas Holdem can be such a cruel game!

This was my final hand last night. The board reads right to left here, so that straight flush came with the turn and river. One second you’re all in before the flop with pocket aces facing a relatively benign first three cards, the next you’re out as two consecutive bolts of lightning dash your dreams and end your night early. :(

Harrington on Hold ‘em Expert Strategy for No Limit Tournaments, Vol. 1: Strategic Play


Chess TShirts and Posters

July 22nd, 2012

Ever wanted to immortalize your best game or a favorite chess position or puzzle on a tshirt or poster? Me too. That’s why I created 99chessmoves.com where you can setup a position, enter some text, and generate a chess tshirt or poster. (More product types to come.)

chess tshirt chess poster

Note: Once you’ve created your chess diagram, either by dragging and dropping pieces on the board or via FEN, you can customize the font, shirt color, board and text position, etc., so it’s really quite flexible.

I hope you enjoy creating and proudly wearing your own personal chess tshirt to help spread the royal game!


My First Game Against a Grandmaster

May 3rd, 2012

It seems like all the Class A guys in New Hampshire have faced GM Alexander Ivanov at one point or another, yet despite all the open sections I’ve played in, it wasn’t until a couple weeks ago that it was my turn. What follows is my first game against a grandmaster, albeit in G/25 with 5 second delay.

Technically, I lost on time in the final position, but it was over anyway with that knight dropping. At least I kept moving during time trouble. (In my last round game, I let the final minute or so drain off my clock in search of the best plan.)

I’m fairly pleased with my effort — especially after blundering a pawn in the opening! 22…Kh8 looks like a definite improvement, not allowing the tempo gaining check on e6, and I like to think I could have drawn the ending somehow with more time, but all-in-all a good showing. :)


Simplify, simplify, simplify

April 17th, 2012

The following position occurred in one of my games during Queen City Open (QCO) Sunday Swiss at the end of February. Although I went on to win this game, it still served as another reminder to simplify into a clearly won endgame when possible. Apparently, the lesson bears repeating.








Black To Move

Here, rather than the easy …Qxg6+ trading into a same-color bishop ending two passed pawns up, I played 1…Qxd1+ 2.Kb2 Qe2+ 3.Ka3 Qf3

The point, protecting the f7 pawn against mate in 2 and threatening one of my own on the next move with …Qxc3 mate.

I’d calculated much of what transpired with White’s attempt at perpetual check via underpromotion, but there’s no doubt it was risky and the simple queen trade would have kept things smooth sailing. That said, the variations are beautiful, with both sides ensnared by mating nets. Enjoy the craziness:

4.Qh7+ Kf8 5.g7+ Ke7 6.Qh4+

Here, it is better to leave the queen on h7, covering critical square along the diagonal, namely, c2 and b1. Nevertheless, some fancy maneuvering brings home the point for Black with 6.Kb3 (sidestepping immediate mate) a4+ 7.Kb4 Qf2 (threatening mate on both c5 and a fatal incursion on b2) 8.Ka3 Qe1 (again attacking the c3 pawn) 9.Kb4 Qg1 (repeating the mate threat at c5, but this time from the back rank) 10.Ka3 Qc1+ (the difference) 11.Kb4 Qb2+ 12.Ka5 Qb6 mate.

There’s also a drawing try similar to the game with 9.g8/N+ (instead of 9.Kb4) Kf8 10.Qh6+ Kxg8 11.Qg5+ Kf8 12.Qh6+ Ke8! (forced, as 12…Ke7 allows the sought after perpetual 13.Qg5+ Ke8 14.Qg8+ Ke7 15.Qg5+ f6 16.Qg7+ Kd8 17.Qxf6+ etc.) 13.Qh8+ Ke7 and White has run out of checks, as the h4 square is guarded, and faces a mate on c3 or the …Qc1+ continuation we saw earlier.

6…f6 7.g8/N+ (accompanied by a draw offer)

7.Kb3 scared me during the game since I had yet to find the mating line and thought I’d be forced to give a perpetual of my own as 7…Qg4 meets with 8.Qh8 when 8…Kf7 loses to 9.Qf8+ etc., and the mating attack starting with 8…Ba4+ isn’t fast enough after 9.Ka3! (not 9.Kxa4?? Qxc4+ 10.Ka3 Qxc3+ 11.Ka4 Qb4 mate) Qxc4 10.Qf8+ Kd7 11.Qf7+ Kd8 12.g8/Q+ Be8 13.Q(either)xe8 mate. Lastly, 8…a4+ also fails to 9.Ka3 Qxc4 10.Qf8 mate.

Thankfully, it’s there. I like to think I would have found it. 8…Qd1+ 9.Kb2 Qd2+ 10.Kb3 (or 10.Kb1 Bf5+ 11.Qe4 Bxe4+ 12.Ka1 Qxc3 mate) a4+ 11.Kb4 Qb2 12.Ka5 Qxc3 mate. Pretty stuff! :)

The actual game continued 7…Kf7 8.Qh7+ Kf8 9.Qh6+ Kxg8 10.Qg6+ Kf8 11.Qh6+ Ke7 12.Qg7+ Kd8 13.Qg8+ Be8 and with the checks stopped, the rest was “a matter of technique.”



Serious chess. Serious fun!



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