Anyone who knows me knows that I love to play chess. But it takes more than love to play chess well, it takes dedicated study. My lack of study time gets translated into my playing strength: I am considered a "B" player with a rating of about 1700 (as of 7/99). (The World Champion, Gary Kasparov, is rated about 2800, masters are rated at 2200 and above). I only get to play in one or two tournaments a year, so my rating doesn't get too much chance to blossom. That said, I'd like to share a couple of my favorite games. At the bottom of this page are links to other chess sites.
a b c d e f g h
|This is the "start" position of a chess game. Note
that each of the vertical sets of columns, or "files" are labeled a - h.
The horizontal rows are numbered 1 - 8 (with 1 at the bottom of the board).
Typically, chess players look at a chess board with White at the bottom.
White moves first, so if I play 1. e2-e4, the pawn in front of the King moves from its starting square to the white square in the middle of the board.
The pieces are denoted by capital letters (R=Rook, N=Knight, B=Bishop, K=King, Q=Queen). Pawns are noted by the squares that the move to or from (as above)
The following game was played at the 1997 North American Open in Las Vegas on December 27th. My opponent was Joseph Flaherty, who had a 1750 rating (my rating at the time was 1684). I played the Black pieces.
The opening moves were as follows:
1 f4 e5
Flaherty chose "Bird's opening," a somewhat unconventional approach to the beginning of the game. Many years ago I had studied this opening, and remember once trying it against a master who gave me 5 minutes to 1 minute time odds. The master mated me in about 5 or 6 moves. That loss sent me back to the books, and I learned that the master's response to 1 f4 was best: 1...e5. Here, Black offers his opponent a pawn. Believe me, in the pressure of a tournament, it is not the easiest thing in the world to just "give" your opponent a pawn. The idea, however, is to develop the pieces quickly and launch an attack.
d6 I offered a second pawn.
|7 0- 0
|While Flaherty castles (0-0), I continue my Queenside development. The Queen and Knight moves show Black's motive: clear out the Queen side so the King can find a home over there.|
|(See the diagram at right)
8 d4 Bxg2
(removing a defender as well as a potential attacker of Black's Queenside)
9 Kxg2 0-0-0
|10 Qd3 f6
|This move is a prophylactic. Black did not want White to play Ne5. The move, 10...f6 also keeps White out of g5. As Gary Kasparov has said, "The highest form of chess is not letting your opponent show you what he can do."|
|(See Diagram at right)
11 a3 h5
White keeps Black out of b4, while Black launches a Kingside attack. Notice how the power of the Rook on h8 is beginning to be felt.
12 Nh4 Ne7
|13 c3 g5||White tidies up his pawn chain, but does he really have time for that? Black meanwhile draws first blood by contacting the misplaced Knight. (See Diagram, below)|
|Of course, the Knight is forced to do something, and White decides
to offer an exchange.
14 Nf 5 h4
Black presses on!
15 gxh4 Nxf 5
An interesting intermezzo.
The reader may be interested in knowing that Black, at this point, had used 1 hour and 5 minutes, whereas White was at 1 hour. We had been playing for a bit over two hours to reach the next diagram.
Chess requires a patience and endurance. It is not unusual for a game to last 5 or more hours. At this point in the game, I would have felt that we were, in a sense, just 'getting into it.' At the same time, our time controls were such that we each had only two hours to make the first forty moves. So, at 1 hour for 15 moves, we were already beginning to feel a dim sense of time pressure.
|Of course, White must recapture the Black Knight on f5 to maintain
material equality. He decides to attempt a Queen trade to simplify
matters and take energy out of the attack.
16 Qxf5 Rxh4
17 Qxd7+ Rxd7
White helps Black in doubling his rooks on the open h-file.
|18 Rxf 6 Rxh2+||Both sides grab a pawn; but Black's take carries with it the "priority of check." (See diagram, below).|
|19 Kf 3 Rdh7
Black gave some thought to playing g5-g4.
20 Bxg5 developing and gaining material.
Things are getting very serious for White.
21 Kg4 Rg3+
22 Kf 5 Rf2+
23 Kg6 (See Diagram)
|A classic 'king hunt' is underway. How long can White last the onslaught of the two rooks? His King must be feeling very naked. . . (see diagram). Here, Black plays a combination that wins a piece, and with it, the game.|
|Looking at this position, what do you imagine I played? Take note of the fact that the Bishop on g5 is pinned to the King (it can't move otherwise it is check by the Rook on g3).|
|23... Rxf6+||I didn't care about winning pretty. I just wanted the W.|
|24 Kxf6 forced.||And now the follow through.|
|24 ...... Be7+||skewering the King and Bishop.|
|25 Kf5 Bxg5||Yum! And now, White's game crumbles. Note that at this point White still had not developed the Knight on b1, and, in fact, could NOT develop that Knight. That Knight, of course, was doomed as d2 was its only square. If he doesn't develop the Knight, then ...Rg1 kills the back row and the Rook on a1.|
|26 Nd2 Bxd2||White has, in effect resigned, by giving up the second minor piece. The rest of the game is a mop up and will be reported with little further commentary.|
|27 e4 Kd7 28 e5 Rf3+ 29 Ke4 Re3+ 30 Kd5 Re1 31 Ra2 Na5 32 Kc5 Nb3+ 33 Kc4 Nc1 34 Ra1 a6 35 a4 b6 36 Ra3 Bg5 37 Ra1 (paralysis) c6 38 Ra3 b5+ 39 axb axb+ 40 Kb4 Be7+ and White resigned due to the loss of his last remaining piece and his totally hopeless position. Moral to the story: Don't worry about giving up a pawn if you can get rapid development.. If anyone sees a better line for Black, I'm happy to hear them (e-mail me!).|
|Click here for another game. (when active)|
Because of the very large number of chess links available, I'll just give a couple as they contain a number of other links.
|U.S. Chess Federation||The U.S. Chess Federation is the organization to belong to. In addition to getting the monthly Chess Life Magazine, you also must be a member of the USCF to play in rated tournaments in the U.S.|
|Chess Cafe||A free site with great archives of articles, problems, and links.|
|Chessed||Want to play? Click Chessed for live action on the Internet!|
|Back to My Home Page||My photography index page|
|My courses index page||My chess page with links|
|My Vita||Favorite Links|
|Selected Essays||Pitzer College Home Page|
|Intercollegiate Dept. of Black Studies|
Background photograph copyright by Halford H. Fairchild, 1999