Batford Chess

IN THE CHILDREN'S GAME "SIMON SAYS," you do what Simon Says or you are eliminated from the game. If you hear "Simon Says move like a rook," then you step horizontally or vertically as many squares as you can.

GM Andrew Soltis' commands in Studying Chess Made Easy are equally irresistible. Like Simon, Andy tells you what to do. He also tells you that, if you obey, you will be more like a master. For most of the book, "Andy Says" to analyze one diagram per page and then compare your analysis with that of Soltis and other strong players. For example, Soltis writes, "Two other qualities of masters are self-control and curiosity. You exercise self-control when you come upon a diagram like the following one and force yourself to stop and examine it. You read no further until you've tried to find a good move for Black." Soltis then presents the following diagram:


World Championship 2008

Black to play

Because Studying Chess Made Easy is on printed pages, the answer is in boldface right after the diagram. So have a piece of paper handy to cover up the remainder of the page as you are considering the diagram.

The answer is 1. ... g5! Andy explains that a curious student (which you want to be, since that makes you more like a master) "won't let this kind of position pass him by." So you naturally continue reading to find out why 1. ... g5 was played. Soltis gives annotations, in this game from himself and from GM Alexander Khalifman.

Within his three pages about 1. ... g5 (through 6. ... Rxd4 when a draw was agreed), Soltis gives more commands. Soltis writes, "Print out the position or file it in your computer or even copy it by hand. The main thing is to keep it along with other positions that stumped you. When you have time, try to get the answers, from a teacher, a computer or stronger friends."

Occasionally, Studying Chess Made Easy varies from "Andy Says." For example, it offers a great selection of mini-games. Because mini-games don't use all the chessmen, they are appropriate for "absolute beginners." Nevertheless, Soltis writes, "Even stronger players can benefit." Some of Soltis' mini-games are well known. For example, "pawn wars," where each side plays only with pawns and the first one to get a pawn to the other side wins. Here is a sampling of his lesser-known mini-games: Forbidden City (Knights move around a pawn fortress, avoiding captures); Queens versus Bishops (White queen versus two black bishops, randomly arranged. Black to move and not lose a bishop for 10 moves); and Rook versus Pawns (Rook on a8 versus white c- through h-pawns on the second rank. White to move). Regarding the last mini-game, Soltis writes, "Many students will think Black has the advantage. They're wrong. Black has much better chances if you remove one of the pawns. That version teaches you how powerful the lateral attack of a rook is, especially on the seventh rank."

As shown by Anand-Kram-nik 2008, Soltis includes positions from recent games. You also learn how to analyze positions from the last century, memorize main opening lines and exact endgames, and use computers for studying chess. I would have appreciated a glossary or an index. Soltis uses the terms such as tabias and priyome. When I put the book down, I forgot what these terms meant. Then I had to relocate the page where the term was initially defined.

If you can visualize the handful of moves after each diagram, then you don't need a set and board to read Studying Chess Made Easy. Although Andy says that setting up and playing out positions is good, he also encourages you to visualize without set and board. He writes, "All strong players appear to have excellent board sense [blindfold visualization]." Read Studying Chess Made Easy and become more like a master. Andy Says.

Andrew Soltis, Studying Chess Made Easy, Batsford, 240 pp., 2010, $22.95 from (catalog number BOllOBT)

USCF Affairs August

Robert Karch 1930-2010

Washington Chess Federation secretary Gary Dorfner reports that Robert Karch died on March 23, one day short of his 80th birthday. He had been in poor health for many years.

Active in organized chess for over 60 years, starting with his days at Lincoln High School in Tacoma, Karch served in the United States Army in military intelligence from the 1950s to the early 1970s. During this time he was stationed around the world but this did not prevent him from finding time to promote the game, particularly in developing rating systems in several places. He worked briefly for B.H. Wood at Chess in England in 1972 but soon found himself back in the Pacific Northwest opening a full-time chess center in Seattle during the Fischer boom. His American Chess Service facility only lasted a few years but hosted many events where players like the young Yasser Seirawan gained valuable experience. Peter Biyiasas, reigning Canadian champion at the time, won many Karch organized events in the early to mid 1970s.

The greatest promotional event Bob Karch organized was undoubtedly the match he played with Yasser Seirawan. The battle between Fischer and Spassky might have been played a year before but the effects of the "Fischer boom" were still being felt in Seattle when the 43-year-old Karch and the 13-year-old Seirawan squared off in a six-game match in August of 1973. Karch, normally a Class A player but who occasionally slipped over 2000, was the reigning "Seattle city champion" while Yasser was 13 and rapidly improving. They were far from the best players in the area at the time but the newspapers didn't realize that. What they saw was a study in contrasts.

Lew Peterson, writing in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer at the time, described the scene. "Yasser, who ranges in age from 11 and 13 years depending on your sources, showed up for the highly publicized game in yellow cutoffs, a red-gaucho hat and a well-tanned bare chest. His older opponent was dressed slightly more conservatively in slacks, dress shirt and tie." Yasser won the match 4-2.

Robert Karch served as the editor of Northwest Chess several times in the 1970s and 1980s (second only to Dan Wade in longevity in the over 60-year run of this publication). He was also the editor of the correspondence chess magazine Chess International for several years in the late 1980s. Correspondence chess was a life-long interest for Karch who served five years as the U.S. secretary to the ICCF. He also served in various administrative posts for the Washington Chess Federation and as USCF secretary for a short time. Throughout his life Karch taught classes teaching thousands of people how to play chess.

The outwardly conservative Bob covered a dreamer that lay beneath. One need only look at the American Chess Service calendar for 1973, with close to 50(!) weekend events on the calendar spread across hundreds of miles of the Northwest to realize that he was putting on the local version of Bill Goichberg's Continental Chess Association tour but with an infinitely smaller player base. These generous prize funds kept many semi-pros going but it was good that Bob had his military pension to fall back on when events lost money. Even still these tournaments had to do better than the full-time chess center he ran in 1972-74.

~ IM John Donaldson

The preceding is an excerpt from an article in the Mechanic's Institute Chess Club Newsletter and is reprinted with permission.

USCF Promotes National Chess Day, October 9

At the St. Louis board meeting (May 22-23), the USCF executive board decided to put a bright spotlight on this year's National Chess Day! The holiday, founded by Gerald Ford in 1976, is set for each year on October 9th. Fortuitously, this year's National Chess Day falls on a Saturday, multiplying its promotional potential.

The USCF is offering discounts and free TLAs and rating fees for events that fall on October 9th and include National Chess Day in their titles. July 10 is the deadline for submission. More details below:

Free TLAs: Any Rated Beginner Open that includes "National Chess Day" in it's TLA title gets both a free TLA and free rating fees. Any 1-day event for October 9 which has "National Chess Day" in it's TLA title gets a free TLA. Any 2-3 day event held over a period which encompasses October 9, which has "National Chess Day" in it's TLA title, will get free TLA and free rating fees. Submit by July 10th, 2010. If you have any questions about composing your TLA, contact Joan Dubois at [email protected].

Write it Up: Any organizer/director of these qualifying events is encouraged to submit a 100-word description of the event and results, and what was done to promote chess in this event, by November 10, for consideration in a National Chess Day article in the December Chess Life and/or Chess Life Online.

A USCF Care Package: When submitting a TLA for these events, the organizer/affiliate is entitled to request two copies of a recent Chess Life (for open events) or two copies of Chess Life for Kids (for scholastic events) as well as copies of USCF-related chess flyers for display at their event. They should include their mailing address in the TLA for shipment.

The USCF Mission

USCF is a not-for-profit membership organization devoted to extending the role of chess in American society. USCF promotes the study and knowledge of the game of chess, for its own sake as an art and enjoyment, but also as a means for the improvement of society. It informs, educates, and fosters the development of players (professional and amateur) and potential players. It encourages the development of a network of institutions devoted to enhancing the growth of chess, from local clubs to state and regional associations, and it promotes chess in American society. To these ends, USCF offers a monthly magazine, as well as targeted publications to its members and others. It supervises the organization of the U.S. Chess Championship, an open tournament held every summer, and other national events. It offers a wide range of books and services to its members and others at prices consistent with the benefits of its members. USCF serves as the governing body for chess in the United States and as a participant in international chess organizations and projects. It is structured to ensure effective democratic procedures in accord with its bylaws and laws of the state of Illinois.

Chess to Enjoy


By GM Andy Soltis

When does a drawish position become a book draw or an easy draw or even a dead draw?

At this year's Linares super-tournament, GM Boris Gelfand battled back from a bad middlegame to reach an ending with a rook and three pawns against the rook and four pawns of his opponent, Veselin Topalov.

All of the pawns were on one wing. That's good for the defender. And two of Topalov's pawns were doubled. That's better. But Gelfand lost.

"It's a draw, of course," he said after the game. But was it a "dead draw?" he was asked. After all, that's what the online commentators called it.

"The smart guys, with a computer at their side, easily found the draw," Gelfand said. "But at the board they would lose 100 times out of 100."

When you hear grandmasters try to distinguish "a draw" from "a dead draw" or a "book draw"—and from a "drawish" position as well as from a "drawable" one—you appreciate how imprecise our terminology is.

Sure, we should be grateful that we have words to make such subtle distinctions. If we had to rely on symbols, we'd be left with just an "equals" sign to cover all those situations.

But the words still confuse us. Take this game, which was crucial in the battle for medals in the last Olympiad. Is this draw-ish, drawable or dead drawn?

Drawish, drawable, or dead drawn?

GM Peter Leko (FIDE 2747) GM Vassily Ivanchuk (FIDE 2786) Dresden 2008

(see diagram top of next column)

In Basic Chess Endings Reuben Fine declared the "general case" of rook and bishop against rook to be "a draw." But there is wide misunderstanding of what a book draw means.

A prominent chess historian, for example,

After 123. ... Kg3

wrote that when R+B-versus-R occurred in the 1908 Lasker-Tarrasch world championship match it was a "dead drawn" position but "Tarrasch continued to play on for 50 moves despite having no chance to win."

Nonsense. The guy with the bishop always has chances. The ending is "draw-able" but that means the defender must play good moves. In the position above, White has to find an "only" move, 124. Rf8!.

Instead, he played 124. Rd8?? with the idea of 125. Rd3+. Black replied 124. ... Re3!, which threatens 125. ... Bh3+ 126. Kg1 Re1 mate.

White defended with the 125. Rg8 pin. But then came 125. ... Re7 126. Rg5 Rh7!, threatening mate in one. White resigned after 127. Ke1 Rd7 because he saw ... Rd1 mate coming up. At no point was there a "dead draw," just a hard position in which a draw would result if White found the right moves.

In the world of book theory, the difficulty of the defense is irrelevant. A drawable position is simply "a draw." But in the real world, we use terms like "dead draw" only about positions in which it is easy to find the right moves.

Long before there were tablebases, a Swedish publisher asked Yefim Geller to write the definitive analysis of rook+

bishop-versus-rook. After a year and a half, Geller gave up. He said it was impossible to exhaust all the possibilities. But in his research Geller found that most games with rook+bishop-versus-rook ended in victories, not draws.

Nevertheless we toss around terms like "an easy draw" all the time, probably because it makes us sound oh-so-smart. During the final hour of the eighth game of this year's world championship, online commentators repeatedly assured viewers that Vishy Anand had "an easy draw"—until he resigned.

And even if a position is an "easy draw" the stronger side may try to win. If he has more clock time—or rating points—you can be sure he will. Here's an extreme example from the Olympiad:

An "easy draw"

Krzysztof Belzo (FIDE 1993) GMEduardo Iturrizaga (FIDE 2538) Dresden 2008

After 80. ... Nxe4

This arose on first board in the Jersey-versus-Venezuela match. A dead draw? Of course. Almost any moves by White will draw. In fact, if he lost his knight he could claim a draw due to insufficient mating material. To lose, he would have to make three-question-mark moves.

But a win is theoretically possible. That


Since FIDE began adding knockout tournaments to its world championship cycles more than a decade ago, some fans were upset by upsets. They didn't like to see the number one seed get eliminated. That didn't happen in the most recent World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, when Boris Gelfand, who was the highest rated in the field of 128 players, captured first place and a spot in next year's Candidates tournament. This month's quiz features six positions from Khanty-Mansiysk. You are asked to find the fastest winning line of play. Solutions on page 71.

Problem I

GM Viktor Bologan GM Ahmed Adly

Problem II

GM Sergei Rublevsky GM Alexander Areshc

Problem III

GM Ivan Morovic GM Sergei Rublevsky

White to play

Problem IV

GM Varuzhan Akobian GM Pavel Tregubov

Black to play

Problem V

GM Baadur Jobava GM Eduardo Iturrizaga

Black to play

Problem VI

GM Yannick Pelletier GM Bu Xiangzhi

means it's legal to play on. And before you ask whether it's fair to play on, remember that this was played in the world's elite tournament for national teams.

When you are playing for your country's honor, fairness is in the eyes of the beholder. And since Black outrated his opponent by 500 points, the game lasted another 40 (!) moves before a draw was declared.

If you get confused by draw-drawish-drawable, you're probably baffled as well when an annotator says "White is winning" and later adds "White has a won" game." What changed?

Some moves after that he writes that "White has a dead won position." And finally he raises the "winning-ness" level further by proclaiming, "White has a forced win." Let's see what this means.

A forced win

GMPeter Leko (FIDE 2747) GM Fabiano Caruana (FIDE 2640) Dresden 2008

(see diagram top of next column)

Once again we can turn to Grandpa Reuben. In general, Q-versus-R is a win, Fine says, but this time he steps into the real world and adds that "the process is rather complicated." It's so complex that even though today's computers can show you that this position is a forced mate in about 20-plus moves, the win doesn't

r r

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