Chaos Chess

Began reading Game Changer: AlphaZero’s Groundbreaking Strategy and the Promise of AI,

by GM Matthew Sadler and WIM Natasha Regan

recently. I have only read a couple of chapters and have no intention of writing a review because the book has been reviewed by almost everyone but this writer.

Kaissa vs Chaos

World Computer Championship, Stockholm, 1974

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. c3 d5 4. exd5 Qxd5 5. d4 Bg4 6.
Be2 e6 7. O-O Nf6 8. Be3 cxd4 9. Bxd4 e5 10. h3 exd4 11. hxg4 Bd6 12. cxd4 Nxg4
13. Nc3 Qh5 14. g3

(A critical moment. Castling king side is the sensible option, with a balanced game, but Black goes crazy instead!)

14…Kd7

15. Nh4 f5 16. d5 Nce5 17. Qc2 Rhf8 18. Bd3 (A slow move which gives Black chances for a counterattack)

Nxd3 19. Qxd3 Rae8 20. Nb5 f4 21. Nxd6 Kxd6 22. Qa3+ Kc7 23. Qxa7 Qf7 24. Rfc1+ Kd6 25.
Qc5+ Ke5 26. d6+ Ke6 27. Re1+ Ne3 28. gxf4 Qd7 29. f5+ Kf6 30. Rxe3 Rd8 31. Re7
Qa4 32. Qe5+ Kg5 33. Nf3+ Kg4 34. Rxg7+ Kh5 35. Qh2+ Qh4 36. Qxh4# 1-0

For those of you who wish to read a review before purchasing the book I heartily recommend the one by GM Jacob Aagaard

in the best Chess magazine in the world, New In Chess, issue 2019/3. Kudos to the people at NIC who make the decision as to what goes into the magazine, and what stays out. Aagard was nice about ripping the authors new ones, writing, “Game Changer is an interesting but often also frustrating read.” In addition he writes, “However, the structural problems the book suffers from are certainly to do with the two authors, two voices and at least two different directions.” There is more but I will not dwell on it other than to say reading the review caused me to purchase the book after reading, “The book gets into a better flow over the next hundred pages, before becoming coherent over the last 250+ pages that look seriously at AlphaZero’s games,” which is the basic reason for buying the tome.

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What Happens at Chess Club

I attended the Chess club Thursday night at the local Barnes & Noble bookstore. Because of my age and having only recently sufficiently recovered from illness I informed the TD I would be willing to act as a “filler” in the event there were an odd number of players and would only play in the first two rounds.

Having attended the previous week, the first time I had made it in some time, a few new players were noticed, which the gentleman who runs the club attributed to the recently finished match for the Human World Chess Championship. Most, if not all, of the players who attend are so hungry for a game they play “skittles” games before the G/15 event begins. There was a “newby” who caught my eye because he was wearing sandals during winter. He looked as though he would have fit in at Woodstock in 1969, so I spoke to the young man, saying, “You gotta like a guy who refuses to give in to winter.” His name was Dawson and he was ready to play, someone…anyone, so we sat down for a game after introductions. I had the white pieces and opened with 1 e4. He responded with the French move of 1…e6. After playing the standard 2 d4 he answered with 2…d5, whereupon I advanced my pawn to e5 on my third move. My opponent stopped to cogitate a few moments before playing 3…Nc6 with obvious trepidation, which showed when he kept his finger on the Knight after placing it gingerly on the square. As he did so I took a good look at him while thinking he appeared about the same age as I was when first visiting an official Chess club. He finally removed his finger from the Knight. I continued looking at the young man, wondering if I should say anything…Before speaking a particular scene from one of my favorite movies flashed in my mind:

When he looked up from the board I said, “At the Chess Club we do not, ever, hold our finger on a piece. When you decide upon your move, make it like you mean it and place it firmly on the square with deliberation, and immediately remove your fingers from the piece.”

The young fellow was somewhat taken aback, but gathered himself quickly and nodded in assent. I continued, “Are you playing in the tournament?” He said he was not. “Then I suggest you spend some time watching these gentlemen play, paying particular attention to how they move their pieces.” Again, he nodded. I did not have to mention it again.

Granted, I am no longer the player I was earlier in my life, and having played over many of the games from the recent World Senior Chess Championship,
(http://www.wscc2018.european-chessacademy.com/index.php/en/) I realize how much of a decline there is for an old(er) player, especially in the 65+ section, which is now my category. That said, the young fellow played a decent game, developing his pieces in the opening without any extraneous pawn moves or outright blunders. We arrived at about an even position in the early middle game, before he made a mistake, moving his a-pawn aggressively, but weakening his b-pawn in the process. I secured my b-pawn by playing a3, then picked off his undefended b-pawn. A few moves later there was a tactical skirmish in which I came out a piece ahead, and he sort of went downhill from there. The game ended in mate by my newly minted Queen protected by a lone Knight.

“You played very well, young man,” I said. There were a couple of players watching the game and they seconded my remark. He said graciously, “I appreciate your saying that, sir.” We talked and I learned he was twenty years old, the same age as was I when I first went to the Atlanta Chess club. He mentioned coming because he was beating the players with whom he had been playing and wanted better competition. Wondering how he could play such a decent game I asked if he read any Chess books. “Not really,” he said. “But I’ve been on Chess.com and watched many YouTube videos.”

The tournament began and I was not needed, fortunately. This gave me an opportunity to watch some of the action, talk with some of those who come and play without playing in the tourney, and those who come to simply “hang-out.” It was immensely enjoyable. I watched Dawson play one of the young players who is not a member of the USCF (“It costs $30!”) but comes to play skittles. Dawson was a piece down but came back to win the game.

After becoming a Senior I began staying home at night for a reason. Although exhausted after being at the Chess Club I was unable to sleep soundly and the next day, Friday, was not one of my better days, so I took it easy and relaxed, spending much time reading, and listening to programs via the internet.

Fortunately, Saturday was a totally different story. I read while having my first cuppa joe. After breakfast the web was surfed. Chess is usually saved for last and one of the sites I visit every day is GM Kevin Spraggett’s

website (http://www.spraggettonchess.com/). He has a “Chess News” scroll, “What is Happening Today?” I clicked on the ones new to me and began reading. I read every article and there were many on AlphaZero. I even read an editorial by Garry Kasparov

in Science magazine. (http://science.sciencemag.org/content/362/6419/1087) Then I clicked on to read Mastering board games, by Murray Campbell.

I had intended on watching several videos by GM Matthew Sadler concerning the recent World Human Chess Championship games, but discovered videos at Chess24 in the article, AlphaZero really is that good (https://chess24.com/en/read/news/alphazero-really-is-that-good). I watched every video contained in the article superbly elucidated by GM Sadler. I was had by hook, line and sinker, after watching the first one, All-in Defence, “A true Najdorf brawl.”

The Najdorf was my first love. Like many others I played it because Bobby Fischer played the opening. With Bobby the Najdorf was an offensive defense.

While watching the Najdorf “brawl” I noticed another Sadler video over on the right and it looked like the position could have emanated from the Leningrad Dutch, my “second love.” I clicked on and, sure enough, it was a Leningrad! I was compelled to watch.

As if that were not enough I noticed a video by GM Ben Finegold, who married a woman in my home city of Atlanta and they opened the new Atlanta Chess Club & Scholastic Center. (https://atlchessclub.com/) The video is Capablanca Endgames with GM Ben Finegold.

I enjoyed Ben’s commentary while thinking, “I wish the internet existed in 1970.” How can young players, and even older players, not be far superior to those of my generation with tools like this, and the best players giving great advice away for practically nothing? Why would anyone pay someone to teach Chess?

In an email to Karen I wrote, “I did surf over to Twitch the other day to listen to the lonely Ben comment on the game. I was thinking it must be very difficult to do it alone for a long period of time…Ben the Maytag repairman…”

Karen replied, ” I don’t think he gets lonely streaming …. he seems to enjoy it and likes to talk a lot so it works out.” Ben talks a lot because he has something useful to say. He is like the old EF Hutton TV commercial. “When EF Hutton talks, people listen.”

Other articles read:

AlphaZero: Shedding new light on the grand games of chess, shogi and Go
https://deepmind.com/blog/alphazero-shedding-new-light-grand-games-chess-shogi-and-go/

Updated AlphaZero Crushes Stockfish In New 1,000-Game Match
https://www.chess.com/news/view/updated-alphazero-crushes-stockfish-in-new-1-000-game-match

Inside the (deep) mind of AlphaZero
by Albert Silver
https://en.chessbase.com/post/the-full-alphazero-paper-is-published-at-long-last

Three new articles were found before writing this post at Spaggett On Chess and I intend on reading them later today, even the one by discredited economist and former GM Ken Rogoff:

Commentary: Where is the fun of playing chess against a robot? by Kenneth Rogoff
https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/commentary/why-human-classic-chess-survives-even-with-technology-chess-ai-10980248

Saudi Arabia calls Israel’s bluff
If Saudis do not feel like welcoming Israelis on their lands, they are perfectly right


Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Image Credit: AFP

Published: December 08, 2018 16:39 Tariq A. Al Maeena, Special to Gulf News
https://gulfnews.com/opinion/op-eds/saudi-arabia-calls-israels-bluff-1.60805086

Chess Is An Important Part Of Russian Soft Power
by Joseph Hammond December 3, 2018

https://tsarizm.com/analysis/2018/12/03/chess-part-russia-soft-power/

The King and Queen Save the Day

Two more books have been published, The Queen Saves the Day: A World Champion’s Favorite Studies,

and The King Saves the Day: A World Champion’s Favorite Studies,

by Elk & Ruby. Having previously written a review (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/?s=one+pawn+saves+the+day) of the previously published books, I racked my addled brain in hopes of fostering an idea of what to add to what has already been written. After writing the earlier review the 2018/1 issue of the best Chess magazine being published, New In Chess,

arrived, which contains a review by GM Matthew Sadler

of the first two books published, One Pawn Saves the Day and One Knight Saves the Day. After reading the excellent review I sent an email to the publisher, Ilan Rubin, in which I wondered if it would be possible to publish GM Sadler’s full review on this blog, or would it infringe upon copyright law. Ilan suggested I write to the NIC folks, asking permission. Rather than do so I decided to publish an excerpt from GM Sadler’s review, which is allowed under copyright law. I also mentioned Matthew’s review was so good compared to my review that it was about as much better as the difference in our ratings. I am no Grandmaster Chess player; far from it, and I am not a GM writer, although I work hard in an attempt to be the best I can be. I strongly urge anyone reading this to obtain a copy of the magazine, or at least a copy of his review in NIC. From GM Matthew Sadler’s review, Be Prepared: The eternal question remains: how do I get myself in good shape before a tournament?

“The most fundamental requirement to playing a good tournament is to spot simple tactics. Continually missing easy tricks is terribly bad for your morale. The higher level you play, the more you need to concentrate on the difficult things – drawing up a plan, keeping up the purpose and drive in your play throughout a whole game. You need to assume that your sense of danger will pick up on the simple stuff: if you can’t, you’ll waste masses of time frantically checking and rechecking everything. Solving tactical puzzles is the obvious way, but it’s hard to find the right material. Ideally you would challenge yourself with spectacular positions ( which keep you interested) at a moderate level of difficulty (you want to give yourself a morale boost before and during the tournament, not destroy yourself!)

This time, I was extremely lucky to be able to turn to One Pawn Saves the Day and One Knight Saves the Day by Sergei Tkachenko, published by the new Elk and Ruby publishing house. These small-format books each contain 100 studies in which the hero is the piece in the title. The idea is very nice; in each of the studies, a pawn or knight will deliver the coup de grace in the final position. The author is a member of the very strong Ukrainian team which has scored consistently high placings in the World Chess Composition Tournaments (winning in 1997). Solving studies as training before a tournament was a recommendation of Mark Dvoretsky’s, but one that always filled me with trepidation. Everyone knows the feeling of staring at a fiendish study for 15 minutes and not finding any idea at all. Not the feeling I want before a tournament! These books are excellent in three ways. Firstly, the chosen studies are exceptionally beautiful. I was constantly oohing and aahing with satisfaction! Secondly, the examples are a good mix of the famous and the unfamiliar. I’ve solved a fair number of studies in the past, but about 75% of the studies in each book were unfamiliar to me, which is excellent. Thirdly, the level of the studies is very rewarding. Some are harder than others, but the knowledge that a pawn (in the first book)or a knight (in the second book) will deliver the final blow is a wonderful hint that always helps you in the right direction without revealing too much. I worked through all 200 before and during the tournament and I felt that it had helped immensely. Can’t wait until the next pieces!”

Sadler “…worked through all 200 before and during the tournament.” Imagine that, solving studies while playing in a tournament. Maybe that is part of the reason Matthew is a Grandmaster…Every day I go to Mark Crowther’s This Week In Chess (http://theweekinchess.com/), spending time attempting to solve the puzzle of the day before attempting to solve only one position from one of the two new Elk & Ruby books received recently as an attempt to keep my aged brain working. Use it or lose it! I read Sadler’s book, Chess for Life,

which deservedly won the ECF Book of the Year 2016 prize., and will recommend it wholeheartedly!

I never read any review of a book before reviewing it, unless I have read it before knowing I will review the book, because I want to keep an open mind, and think for myself. After writing the above I went to Amazon where I was surprised to find one review, by Paul Maginley, a rated Expert, as shown at the USCF website, already published for the book, The King Saves the Day: A World Champion’s Favorite Studies by Sergei Tkachenko, posted May 11, 2018. (https://www.amazon.com/King-Saves-Day-Champions-Favorite/dp/5604071013/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1528563249&sr=1-1&keywords=tkachenko)

“I retired from tournament play years ago, yet I still purchase chess books. How does one explain that? Chess remains an excellent avenue for mind exercise even if one has eschewed the rigors of competitive play. And what better way to exercise the mind than to work on endgame studies? Publisher Elk and Ruby have put out six related books on endgame studies favored by the Soviet composer Sergei Tkachenko.
The books are pocket sized and nicely produced with one puzzle per page and the solution printed on the next page thereby facilitating those who would prefer not to accidentally view the answer before attempting to solve the puzzles. There is a series of six books representing a 100 puzzles per book. The compositions represent multiple composers and one ends up with a lone king, queen, bishop, knight, rook, or pawn at the end of each puzzle. The books are pocket sized and the typeset and diagrams are large enough to rule out any eyestrain. The puzzles can be quite challenging, but the solutions frequently display a high degree of beauty and pleasure. English translations of Russian chess books are often stiff and unappealing but translator Ilan Rubin presents the material clearly and concisely.
We live in a culture dominated by the cell phone and people can be seen with their faces glued to their mobile devices whenever they find themselves in a situation involving any kind of waiting. What better way to overcome such dead time than to pull out one of these books and work out a beautiful endgame composition? The books are affordably priced at $11.99 each. I don’t know how many will ultimately be printed, but it would make sense to jump on these while they last.
If poetry represents the ultimate beauty of literature then I can argue that endgame studies represent the ultimate beauty of chess. If I were to find myself exiled on a small island and allowed only a handful of chess books, most of them would likely be books on endgame studies. These wonderfully diminutive volumes would be worthwhile selections for any kind of trip. I look forward to seeing more from this small publisher.”

I cannot add anything to that wonderful review, other than to say “Ditto!” This series of books will bring pleasure and enjoyment while sharpening your tactical awareness.

Hung Up

Gull 3 (3116) vs Hannibal 1.5×12 (2998)
TCEC Season 7 – Stage 2
Rd 5
2014.10.29
D41 QGD: Semi-Tarrasch, Keres Counterattack

1. Nf3 d5 2. d4 Nf6 3. c4 e6 4. Nc3 c5 5. cxd5 cxd4 6. Qxd4 exd5 7. e4 Nc6 8. Bb5 dxe4 9. Qxd8+ Kxd8 10. Ng5 Be6 11. O-O Kc7 12. Ngxe4 Nxe4 13. Nxe4 Rd8 14. Bf4+ Kb6 15. Ba4 f5 16. Nc3 Bc4 17. Rfc1 h6 18. h4 Bb4 19. a3 Be7 20. b3 Bd3 21. Bxc6 bxc6 22. Re1 Bxh4 23. Na4+ Kb7 24. Nc5+ Kb6 25. Rac1 Rd5 26. Be3 f4 27. Bxf4 Bf6 28. Be3 Bf5 29. Ne4+ Kb7 30. Nxf6 gxf6 31. Rc4 Rh7 32. Rec1 Bd7 33. Bc5 a6 34. a4 h5 35. Rf4 h4 36. Kh2 Rd3 37. Rb4+ Kc7 38. Rb6 a5 39. Ra6 Rxb3 40. Rxa5 Rg7 41. Ra7+ Kb8 42. Rd1 Rb7 43. Ra5 Rb3 44. Rd6 Rf7 45. Be3 Rb4 46. Rd3 Rh7 47. Bc5 Rb1 48. Bd4 1-0

The game ended when “Black’s connection stalls.” Black got “hung up,” as we say in the South, as in, “Honey, I got hung up at work,” or, “Honey, I got hung up in traffic,” or my favorite, “Honey, I got hung up paying the bar tab.” That is when she says, “Honey, it is obvious our connection has stalled.” This actually happened to me back in the ’70’s. It went something like this:

Blues Brothers Tunnel Scene

It is not just chess playing machines that sometimes become “hung up.” A recent example would be GM John Nunn, called “Dr. Death” at the House of Pain, by a Master level player from England, David Fletcher. In an article, “John Nunn Behind the Board Again at World Seniors,” (http://www.chess.com/news/john-nunn-behind-the-board-again-at-world-seniors-2325), Peter Doggers writes, “He played his last official game of chess in August 2006, but now he’s back at the chess board: John Nunn. The English GM and acclaimed author is playing in the 50+ World Seniors in Katerini, Greece.”

Dr. Death had produced four wins and one draw before sitting down behind the Black soldiers in the sixth round to face GM Zurab Sturua from the country of Georgia.

GM Matthew Sadler left a comment on October 28, 2014, “However, this is not a dream story as of yet. Nunn’s first tournament in eight years is a tough one with no less than 11 rounds scheduled. Besides, yesterday he suffered a devastating loss”:

Sturua, Zurab (2523) vs. Nunn, John D M (2602)
World Senior 50+ 2014 | Katerini GRE | Round 6.1 | 29 Oct 2014 | ECO: E60 |

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nf3 Bg7 4. g3 c6 5. Bg2 d5 6. Qb3 O-O 7. O-O Qb6 8. Nc3 Na6 9. Qxb6 axb6 10. Na4 Nd7 11. cxd5 cxd5 12. Bd2 e6 13. Rfc1 b5 14. Nc3 b4 15. Nb5 Nb6 16. b3 Rd8 17. Ne5 Bf8 18. Nd3 Bd7 19. Nc7 Rac8 20. Bg5 1-0

The Chess Bomb (http://www.chessbomb.com/arena/2014-senior/06-Sturua_Zurab-Nunn_John_D_M) showed this possible line leaving White up “only” 1.1 (20… Nb8 21. Nc5 Bc6 22. Bxd8 Rxd8 23. a4 bxa3 24. N7xe6 fxe6 25. Nxe6 Re8 26. Nxf8 Rxf8). In the modern chess world this game would have been played to checkmate, but Dr. Nunn comes from the chess world of last century. One of the kibitzers on the Bomb explained the decision to resign as ” self-disgust.” This is the kind of thing that happens to a 59 year old player who has not played in almost a decade. Fatigue takes a toll and the brain gets “hung-up.” A Senior begins playing moves that look good to him in his mind, but once played on the board he soon realizes his “connection has stalled.” This leads to what is popularly called a “brain cramp.” Nearing 60 a man realizes that out of a week of days he will have one or two when things just do not seem to compute. He is working just as hard at the board as the day before but realizes things are not quite right because his brain is “hung-up.” This is disconcerting to a Senior in the same way as when he calls on the Old Soldier to jump to “Ten Hut!” but it remains “at ease.” In addition, Dr. Nunn’s biorhythms (http://www.facade.com/biorhythm/ ) show he was, and is, at his low ebb intellectually and will stay there for the duration of the tournament. This is mitigated somewhat by his being in a high phase physically, or it could be made worse because when one has much energy it is more difficult to understand why such poor moves are being produced.

Madonna – Hung Up (Official Music Video)