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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, December 8, 2011

Albany Club Championship: For the Birds?

By Peter Henner

The fourth round of the Albany club championship did not see any upsets, but did see two players resort to Henry Bird’s opening, which were both met by the rarely seen From’s Gambits: played in Peter Henner - Timothy Wright and Chris Caravaty - Jason Denham.

The opening, 1 f4, was invented by Henry Bird, a 19th-Century Grandmaster.  It is an offbeat line, where White obtains a solid position, and, if played correctly, can obtain a slight positional edge. The opening leads to a quiet positional struggle

If Black wants a different game, he plays From’s Gambit (1... e5, 2. fe d6, 3. ed B:d6), sacrificing a pawn to open lines and play the kind of fighting chess that White presumably wanted to avoid by playing the Bird.

Both Wright and Denham were unable to obtain sufficient compensation for the sacrificed pawn in their games and ultimately lost.

Bill Little’s Dec. 6 blog entry on the Eastern New York Chess Association website (http://www.enyca.org) contains an excellent article describing Caravaty’s game, containing annotations to the original games played by Bird in the 19th Century, recent Grandmaster games, and other local games.

In other games, Art Alowitz, a Class B player who had two draws and a win against three Class A players, finally lost to the only Expert in the tournament, defending Champion Dean Howard, and Gordon Magat defeated Jonathan Lack.

London Chess Classic

The London Chess Classic, an annual December event featuring some of the strongest players of the world playing in a tournament with the strongest players in the United Kingdom, is underway. It is taking place between Dec. 5 and 12.

Magnus Carlson, the top-rated player in the world, has taken an early lead after three rounds.  Full details, including the games themselves, are available are available on Chess Vibes website: http://www.chessvibes.com.

Simultaneous exhibitions

Simultaneous exhibitions, where a strong player, usually but not necessarily a Grandmaster, plays all comers are popular spectator events.  The Grandmaster walks around the room, stopping at each board and, with only a few seconds’ reflection, makes a move.

The opponents, who are frequently strong club players up to Master strength, have more time, generally as much time as it takes a Grandmaster to walk all the way around the room and make all of his moves.

Simultaneous exhibitions do not promote the best chess by either the Grandmaster or his opponents, and the recent simultaneous exhibition given by local Master Deepak Aaron is no exception. He lost only one game, to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute student Jeffrey LaComb, a strong Class A player.

After continually gaining and then giving back a slight advantage, Aaron obtained a won position after LaComb blundered a Knight. Even though Aaron did not take full advantage of the mistake, he nevertheless obtained what should have been an easy win.  However —

This week’s first problem

In the diagram below, Aaron has just played 34 ef.  He believed that his first rank was safe, because he had two Rooks on the first rank, and therefore felt fairly confident that he would win without much difficulty. He missed a forced made in four, which LaComb saw.

This week’s second problem

Corey Northrup, in the game described last week, obtained an overwhelming advantage against Dean Howard and ultimately won the game, but only after a series of back-and-forth blunders and time-pressure scrambles.

Here, he had a forced mate in three moves, which would have ended the game. Can you see what Mr. Northrup missed?

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