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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, May 27, 2010

Chess League
Guilderland Dutchmen start strong, then lose to Schenectady and Saratoga

By Peter Henner

The Capital District Chess League team tournament is nearing its conclusion.  In all probability, the tournament will be won by the winner of the match between the undefeated Schenectady A and Albany teams, which are both 4-0, with three games left to play.

The very strong Saratoga A team, although it drew its match with the relatively weak but sometimes surprising team from RPI, is 2 ½ - 1 ½, and could still win, if it defeats both Albany and Schenectady A.

The Guilderland Dutchmen, after a strong start, lost their last two matches against the Schenectady Geezers and Saratoga A to fall to 3-3. The Dutchmen’s last match will be on May 27, against the undefeated Schenectady A team.

Although the Geezers won their match 3 ½ - ½, it was a hard fought match. John Phillips won a difficult rook and pawn ending against Art Alowitz on third board, Richard Chu defeated Chuck Eson on fourth board, while I fought to a draw on the second board with the Geezers’ Bill Little.

On first board, the Dutchmen’s John Morse eclectic opening strategy led to an inferior position, which the Geezers’ Mike Mockler carefully exploited. He was able to build an attack that eventually led to the forced win of a bishop and an easily won end game.

I analyzed the game with a computer program known as Fritz, which gives a running assessment of the position. It indicated that Mockler's positional advantage was initially equivalent to one pawn, and fluctuated, as each player made either very strong or weak moves throughout the game, to eventually reach a minor piece (a knight or bishop) advantage before Mockler was able to convert the positional advantage into a definite material advantage.

Although both players made mistakes, the game is a good example of fighting chess at the Class A/Expert level. The score of all of the games of the Geezers-Dutchmen match can be found online at http://enyca.blogspot.com.

The Saratoga A team inflicted the first shutout upon the Dutchmen, winning on all four boards. Saratoga A sported a team with two players rated over 2100 and had an average rating advantage of 500 points per board.

I lost to Steve Taylor on board one, Art Alowitz lost to Jonathan Feinberg on board two, Joe Shantz lost to Gordon Magat on board three, and Chuck Eson lost to Alan LeCours on board four. 

American Two-Move Chess Problem

Throughout the history of chess, chess aficionados have composed problems; chess positions where a goal, usually forced checkmate, is to be reached through unusual or particularly aesthetic moves. In the 1850s, an American composer named Samuel Loyd began to develop a particular type of problem, which is now known as the American Two-Move Chess Problem.

In these problems, White must force mate in two moves. The first move is never a check; instead the move is subtle, unexpected, and is designed to limit Black’s options, so that mate will be forced on the second move regardless of what Black does.

This week’s problem, composed by Geoffrey Mott-Smith and first published in the New York Sun in 1932, is typical of the genre. White is obviously ahead, and will easily win the game, but the forced mate in two moves is not apparent. Note that the Black king has no possible moves and care must be taken to ensure that Black cannot delay White’s ultimate victory by a move which would require White to take three or more moves to mate, rather than the required two. 

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