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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, January 27, 2011

Comedy of errors in Schenectady and Albany championships

By Peter Henner

Both the Schenectady and Albany chess championships moved closer to resolution, with only one game left in each tournament to determine the qualifiers for the playoffs.  However, in both of the tournaments, players suffered from serious chess blindness, making obvious and silly mistakes, which detracted from the quality of play. 

In the B Section of the Schenectady preliminary championship, Phil Sells completed his sweep by defeating Richard Moody, to finish with a perfect score of 8-0. This meant that John Barnes and Alan LeCours, who both had 5-2 with one game against each other, would qualify for the final section.

LeCours won the game when Barnes committed what is known as the “ultimate blunder” in chess, resigning in a position in which a player is even or even slightly better.  Barnes was somewhat stunned by a move that he did not anticipate and resigned. Even though he qualified for the final section, he chose to withdraw from the tournament.

Richard Moody and Dilip Aaron, the younger brother of local star Deepak Aaron and a rising young player in his own right, are tied with 4½ - 2 ½, and will play each other to determine who will qualify.

In the Albany Championships, the first preliminary section ended with two players, Gordon Magat and club President Timothy Wright tied for first with 4½ - ½.  In the playoff game, Wright, as Black, played an unusual second move in a Sicilian defense (1 e4 c5, 2 f4 e5) and quickly found himself with a difficult position. On move 21, Magat missed a forced win, and gave Wright an opportunity to possibly equalize the position.  However, Wright missed the opportunity, and quickly lost.

Two critical games in Section 2 also had more than their share of errors. Front runner Dean Howard clinched at least a tie for first place in the section by beating Jonathan Lack, to finish with a score of 4-1, while Lack fell to 21⁄2 - 11⁄2 with one game remaining.

Lack miscalculated a sacrifice and Howard obtained an advantage of a rook against a knight and pawn, which should have been enough for a win. Under severe time pressure, Howard, with only about four minutes left to finish the game (compared to Lack’s 18 minutes), blundered away his advantage, and was probably lost. Nevertheless, Lack made a simple oversight, losing a bishop outright, and was checkmated a few moves later.

In the other important game in Section 1, Glen Perry played the “Poison Pawn” variation of the Sicilian defense against me. On move 23, I left a bishop hanging, which should have decided the game.

However, in an unusual double case of chess blindness by both parties, Perry simply missed the mistake. The ensuing end game was drawn, with each side having a king and two pawns, but Perry blundered twice. I did not take advantage of the first blunder, but did take advantage of the second blunder, and won the game. 

As a result, I improved my record to 3-1, with one game left against Lack, while Perry finished with 2½ - 2½.  If I win my game against Lack, I will be tied with Howard for first place and will play a playoff game. The winner of the section, either Howard or me, will play a two-game match against Gordon Magat, the winner of Section 1, to determine the Albany Championship.

Wijk aan Zee update

With three rounds remaining, the American H. Nakamura remains tied with V. Anand for the lead in the prestigious Wijk aan Zee international tournament in Holland with scores of 7-3.  Former World Champion V. Kramnik and world championship qualifier L. Aronian are close behind with 6½ - 3½.

The tournament will conclude on Jan. 30, and I hope to have a full report next week.

Liberty Bell Open

Five players from the Capital District were among the 453 chess players who gathered in Philadelphia for the Liberty Bell Open over Martin Luther King weekend. This tournament, run by the venerable Continental Chess Association, typically draws a strong crowd because of its excellent playing conditions, high level of competition, and prize money.

Deepak Aaron won $971 by placing fifth in the open section, with a score of 5-2, one-half point behind two Grand Masters, an International Master and a FIDE (Fédération Internationale des Échecs) Master.

Phil Sells and Kingston High School player Jonathan Richman scored 3-4 in the under-2300 section, Alan LeCours went undefeated (one win and six draws) to finish with 4-3 in the under-2100 section; Scott Boyce also finished with 4-3 in the under-1900 section.

This week’s problem

On Jan. 26, the Albany Chess Club presented a lecture on the Kings Gambit Accepted (1 e4 ef 2 f4 ef).  This opening was played in the “Immortal Game” between then-World Champion A. Anderssen and L. Kieseritzky in 1851.

Can you find the forced mate in three moves, which ended this game?

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