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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, December 15, 2011

LeCours: King of both Saratoga and Schenectady?

Although many chess players have competed in all three of the local club championships — Schenectady, Saratoga, and Albany — no local chess player has ever won the championship of all three clubs. 

Alan LeCours, the long-time president of the Saratoga club, has a chance to win two championships in one year. He is in first place in the double round-robin Saratoga Club Championship tournament, with a score of 5-1, and has two games left against his closest rivals, Gary Farrell (4 1⁄2  - 1 1⁄2), and top-rated John Feinberg (4-2). 

In the Schenectady tournament, which has two preliminary sections, Mr. LeCours was held to a draw by Herman Calderon, whose rating is 400 points lower.  Nevertheless, Mr. LeCours and fellow Class A player John Phillips are almost certain to qualify in the A section, with the third qualifying spot undecided between David Connors, a Class C player who has occasionally defeated much higher rated players, and Schenectady Club President Richard Chu. 

In the B section, Phil Sells and Carlos Varela have qualified for the finals, and the third qualifier may be decided between the two junior players, Zachary Calderon and Dilip Aaron (who still have to play each other). 

Sells has made sure but steady progress in the last year, and has now become a solid Expert, with a rating of 2044. He has also achieved three Candidate Master "norms," a tournament performance at the statistical level of a particular category.  A player who receives six such norms is awarded the title.

Sells played in the National Chess Congress in Philadelphia, achieving a performance rating of over 2200, in addition to receiving his third Candidate Master norm.

In the Albany championship, Gordon Magat, who leads with a score of 4-1, will play me, in second place with a score of 3-1, this week. However, both Magat and I have to play Dean Howard, in third place with 2 ½ - 1 ½. Howard still has to play all four Class A players, but, if he wins all of his remaining games, he would repeat as club champion.

London Chess Classic

Former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik won the super Grandmaster London Chess Classic held between Dec. 5 and 12.  Kramnik won 4 and drew 4, to finish with a score of 16 points (3 points for a win and 1 point for a draw).

The American, Hiraku Nakamura, finished second with 15 points, followed by Magnus Carlson with 14.

The tournament provides an opportunity for four of the strongest British players to play against four of the strongest players of the world; Luke McShane finished fourth with 13, but the other three British players finished seventh, eighth, and ninth.

A full report of the tournament, including all of the games, game photographs and commentary is available at www.londonchessclassic.com.

This week’s problem

During the Grandmaster tournament, London hosts a number of chess events, including an open international tournament.  In the following game from this tournament, Black (rated 300 points higher than his opponent) could have forced a draw with a perpetual check, but thinks that his material advantage of two Rooks v. two Knights should be sufficient for a victory, and has therefore just played 32... Rf7.  This blunder permits a spectacular mate.

— Peter Henner

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