NH vs Maine – Chess Border Battle

September 11th, 2011

Yesterday (Sat, Sept 10) I competed in my second NH vs Maine Team Chess Challenge, also known as the “Border Battle,” now an annual event, at the Portsmouth library. The time control was G/60 with five-second increment.

My opponent was the slightly higher-rated, Joshua Quint, now back in his home state of Maine from Vegas where he was 2010 Vice-Champ of the Clark County Chess Club. We each took a full point.

In the first game, a couple inaccuracies with White in the opening landed me in an unpleasant defensive crouch from which I was only too happy to burst forth with reckless abandon. It almost paid off too. Unfortunately, when the time was right, I failed to play the winning shot I’d planned some moves earlier. :(

Why I got distracted, I’m still not sure, probably the clock had something to do with it as time trouble was fast approaching. Nevertheless, this game is now extremely painful to play over and to think what could have been (i.e., a stunning reversal).

As last year, the weather cooperated, so many of us walked together into town for lunch at Me & Ollie’s. I had the Vegan Veritable Veggie, a hummus and olive sandwich.

Game 2 with colors reversed saw an even longer tactical skirmish and a pretty queen pseudo-sac.

Team Scores: New Hampshire (14) – Maine (6)

As always, a good time, with good camaraderie! I hope to play in many more of these as the friendly rivalry between our neighboring states continues.

UNH Open 2011

February 23rd, 2011

After recently learning the chess club at my alma mater, the University of New Hampshire, had been resurrected, oh so many years after I’d started it during my days at school and later watched it evaporate for want of a successor, I was excited to compete in their first big tourney and shake hands with the new president, Jason Shuster.

By all measures, the event was a huge success. There were about 50 players total, half of whom faced off in the two rated sections. Also of note, beyond the unexpected turnout, was the age range, all the way from the youngest scholastic players on up to the true veterans of the tournament scene. This made for a fun, if sometimes a little louder than normal gathering, made all the more bustling by the Game in 45 time control.

Pictures from the 1st UNH Open

While I’m not usually a fan of the faster time controls, and felt the pressure of the clock during at least two of the four games, I think it worked. Those experiencing their first structured competition didn’t have to wait long for the next round, the 11 AM start time was easy to make, and it served as something of an equalizer (there were a few minor upsets of which I’m aware). The only issue was there was no time to hunt down food, particular vegan eats, in the limited time between rounds. No biggie, next time I’ll just pack something.

OK, on to the games. I scored 3 points (2 draws, 2 wins), good enough for a tie for 2nd-4th, but unfortunately missed out on the 2nd and 3rd place trophies due to the sum-of-opponents’-scores tiebreaker. As everyone I played was rated below me, some quite a bit (500-700 points), my rating took a hit. Still, I was happy enough with my play, and even pulled off the following pretty combination.

White To Move

In this position, my opponent has just retreated the queen to her original square. Here I calculated a nice 7-9 mover.

13.Bb5! getting rid of a defender and clearing the way for White’s queen 13…Bd7 14.Bxc6 Bxc6 15.Bxh6! Nh5

15…gxh6 16.Nxf7 Kxf7 17.Ne5+ Kg8

17…Kf8 18.Qg6 Bd6 19.Qf7 mate

18.Qg6+ Kh8 19.Nf7 mate

Best is 15…Ne4 stopping the attack, though White has won a pawn and keeps the initiative after 16.Bf4.

16.Nxf7! Kxf7

16…Qc7 17.Kf8 18.Qxh6+ Kg8

18…Kxf7 19.Ng5+ Kg8 20.Qg6+ Kf8 21.Nxe6 mate

19.N3e5 Nh7 20.Qg6+ Kf8 21.Qxh7 Qxe5 22.Nxe5 Red8 23. Qh8 mate

17. Ne5+ Kg8 18. Qg6 Bf6 19. Qf7+! Kh8 20. Qxh5 gxh6

20…Bxe5 21.Bg5+ wins Black’s queen

21. Nf7+ Kg8 22. Qg6+ Kf8 23. Nxd8 etc.

On Thursday, I attended their weekly meeting in the Memorial Union Building (MUB) where about a dozen people played games and chatted it up in a friendly environment. After the short 6-8 PM official gig was up, Keith and I moved into the food court for another couple hours to look over our games from the tourney. It’s a long drive for me, but I hope to make it on a semi-regular basis. You should too.

UNH Chess Club in the news:
Teaching Moharimet Elementary School students.

NH vs Maine – Team Chess Match

October 4th, 2010

A couple weekends ago, I had the opportunity to play my first rated chess games in almost two years! I had no idea whether the rust would show, but seeing as I was competing as a representative of the state of NH, in what I believe was only my second team event since high school, I put a little study in prior and sought to concentrate fully.

My first game was a blast, and it made me very happy to discover my tactical vision had survived the unplanned hiatus.

After the dust cleared, we all took a lengthy lunch break with ample time to wander around Portsmouth, NH enjoying the nice weather and plentiful food options. I left the guys at the nearest sandwich shop and kept walking to one of my old regular dining spots when I used to work in town — a vegan smoothie and wrap place that’s changed hands many times, the menu remaining essentially the same throughout.

Game 2 with colors reversed had fewer fireworks as White blundered a pawn early. After rebuffing his attack, I was able to grind out the win with the extra material. The ironic thing is, during my pre-match preparations, I could only find a few games of my opponent, all with him as White. So, it was this game for which I was more prepared; I knew he would play the 6.Bg5 of the Samisch and was looking forward to the skirmish.

The local paper, the Portsmouth Herald, picked up the story, with a few pictures taken by the beautiful Ioanna Raptis. You can see me in the red shirt, way back on the right.

For more pictures, check out this write-up from ChessMaine.net. There you’ll see a couple closer glimpses of me in mid-ponder and a really good one of Andrey deep in thought. Oh, and one of the library where we battled. :)

Magnus Carlsen vs The World

September 20th, 2010

It’s nice to see chess making a splash in popular culture through its confluence with fashion and celebrity. That’s exactly what G-RAW and Liv Tyler brought to the table as Magnus Carlsen faced “The World” in the recent RAW Chess Challenge.

As for the chess, you be the judge. Clearly, Kasparov’s feat in his victory against The World is more notable in its length and depth of analysis. This one was finished in a single sitting and almost as though he were playing one of the GMs but with them handicapped by not being able to see their own plans thru to fruition.

ChessBase has a play-by-play analysis and commentary HERE.

Anand Retains The Title

May 12th, 2010

Viswanathan Anand (Vishy for short) pulled out a stunning victory after Veselin Topalov blundered in the final game of their World Chess Championship match thus retaining his title.

It made for some really pretty stuff, but it’s unclear what Topalov could have possibly seen when choosing the ultra-risky 32.fxe4. Alas, in such a short match (only 12 games these days), it was a relief not to see it tarnished by a rapid tie-break.

On the other hand, some would say that such a system just brings in another aspect of chess and that a world champion should be well-versed in all. Please do share your thoughts in the comments.


Serious chess. Serious fun!