The North Carolina Gambit

Official Publication for the North Carolina Chess Association

Editor Tom Hales                                          January-February 2009                     Assistant Editor Mark Stout



"The Karpov of North Carolina"

Finishes First Among NC Players at Land of the Sky


FM Andrey Chumachenko negotiated a minefield of top-notch competitors to tie for second place at the 2009 Land of the Sky.  His single loss came at the hands of GM Sergey Kudrin, a world-class player who hails from Connecticut.  Chumachenko's impressive 4.0 finish also netted him first place points for the North Carolina Grand Prix, where he continues to dominate the field.

First place honors went to GM Alexander Ivanov, who secured the title for a second year running with a score of 4.5 points.  GM Kudrin commented on their game before his simultaneous exhibition on Sunday night.  A participant asked him, "Why didn't you go for the WIN?"  Kudrin replied in a friendly but obvious tone, "He had the white pieces, and was playing it very safe."  He added that under the circumstances, a draw was a good result.

Charlotte's Dominique Myers shook up the Open Section with his surprising upset victory over former NC Champion FM Miles Ardaman in round two.  This earned our rising star a shot at GM Kudrin, but the Grandmaster's king would not be toppled.  Dominique still finished the tournament with three points, putting him in clear second place among NC players.  Meyers also moved to fifth place in the NC Grand Prix standings, well within striking distance of the leaders.

The Amateur Section was dominated by NC players, who captured seven of the top ten places.  Clear first place went to Mike Williams, who came out of retirement and finished 5-0!  It was Mike's first rated chess game since the 2000 Land of the Sky--a nearly NINE-YEAR hiatus.  It's great to have you back, Mike!  Been practicing?  Greensboro's Jacob Parrish described his heartbreaking fifth round loss to Williams as  "a $600.00 mistake."  Mike's incredible performance also left him in second place for NC Grand Prix points.  Alexei Gourbonov gave chase to finish a close second with 4.5 points.  His single draw came in round one action with Tanner "T-Rex" Hogue, a scholastic intimidator with good chess instincts. 

Brian Moore of Whittier, North Carolina, went on a chess rampage and finished with 4.5 points in the Booster Section.  This earned him clear first place, and a large chunk of NC Grand Prix points that put him in third place in the series.  If two is company, and three is a crowd, then second place in the Booster Section was a virtual stampede with nine players staking their claim.  I salute them, each and every one, but my fat fingers are feeling the burn!  All apologies for not listing each by name.

The Under 1200 section proved popular with twenty-four players participating.  Brian Newsom and Christopher Tavernier tied for first place honors with 4.5 points each.  Okay, since you are all wondering, Brian Newsom and NCCA Vice President Gary Newsom are not related--to the best of their knowledge.  Second place turned into another toss up, with Georgia's Timothy Staley and NC's Brian Gorges sharing the honors.

After being tapped as the new editor and webmaster for the NCCA, I figured it was incumbent upon me to find some way to play at The Land of the Sky this year.  It is North Carolina's largest tournament, steeped in tradition and rife with chess excellence.  Still, I had to consider the costs involved.   

As it happened, I received an unexpected check for just about exactly what I had considered my expenses would be.  Seriously, folks, it was within seventy cents!  So my wife Debbie and I set out for a cute little cottage in Weaverville with our tiny toy poodle Houdini manning the sidecar.  Despite abysmal conditions on parts of US 40 (which had nothing to do with snow), and my dog's restless paw syndrome, we made it in a little over three hours.  The beautiful mountains around Asheville made for a jaw-dropping and ear-popping ride.

The tournament, however, turned out to be a huge disappointment for me!

Don't get me wrong.  I absolutely loved the venue at The Crown Plaza Resort.  Organizer Wilder Wadford obviously put in a tremendous effort to get things right, such as lighting, table spacing, and dozens of other details that didn't go unnoticed by me.  Tournament Director Kevin Hyde inspired confidence with his obvious attention to the particulars, things that many lesser experienced would have missed.  While the numbers were slightly down from 2008, considering the economic mess this country is facing, turnout was strong at 199 players.   

So why was I disappointed?  I was disappointed in myself, folks!  How did I let so many years slip by, always finding some excuse to miss this extraordinary event?  I was also disappointed for all of you who didn't make it this year.  There will never be another Land of the Sky XXII.  I have preserved some small mementos of this event, which has now become a cherished memory for many.  My emotion of regret has given way to excitement, and a steadfast determination that this event will be on the top of my chess to-do list from now on.  You should put it on yours.

Land of the Sky XXII:  Photographic Memories 2009



Fide Master Andrey Chumachenko has made a name for himself as one of North Carolina's strongest players since moving here from California in late 2005.

Andrey's first rated chess in the state was played at the Charlotte Chess Club in January 2006, where he was undefeated, yielding just a single draw to Patrick McCartney's Bird Opening.  His record since then has been most impressive!  The following is a partial list of his NC Chess adventures:


                                                                          2006 US Masters                                        1st  (tie)

                                                                          2006 SC Championship                           1st

                                                                          2006 NC Open                                             2nd

                                                                          2006 Carolinas Challenge                        1st (tie)

                                                                          2007 Snowstorm Special                         1st

                                                                          2007 NC Invitational                                  1st

                                                                          2007 SW VA Open                                      1st (tie)

                                                                          2007 SC Championship                           1st (tie)

                                                                          2008 NC Invitational                                  1st (tie)

                                                                          2009 LOTS                                                   2nd (tie)

                                                                          2009 Snowstorm Special                         1st (tie)


I have taken to calling Andrey the "Karpov of North Carolina" due to his dominating tournament record and playing style.  He admits to being strongly influenced by the former world champion, and has even written a book about his hero's playing style.  Andrey lives in Matthews, NC, with his wife and children.  When he is not playing chess, Andrey teaches advanced mathematics for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.


Stats Incredible!

Compiled by Jonathon McNeill & Tom Hales

The 2009 Land of the Sky drew 199 chess players from 17 different states.  Approximate Percentages were:  North Carolina:  60.0%; South Carolina 11.5%; Georgia 9.0%; Tennessee 5.5%; Virginia 4.0%; Illinois 2.0%; Pennsylvania 1.5%; West Virginia 1.5%; Ohio 1.0%; Others 0.5% each.   



Computer's Eye View of FM Chumachenko's LOTS Games

by Tom Hales


Most now agree that computers have surpassed us mere mortals in playing strength.  During his recent simul at Land of the Sky, GM Sergey Kudrin commented on how his depth in calculating variations had decreased with age.  In one of his tournament games, he had considered a move "on intuition," but couldn't quite calculate it out.  He proceeded to make an inferior choice, but later put the game on his computer.  It turns out his intuitive choice would have been best, and the "metallic monster" discovered this within seconds.

The following games were annotated with Deep Rybka 3.0 at 90 seconds per ply on a dedicated machine.  This should yield a performance rating of over 3000!

Chumachenko's games are presented to you "old school," with moves as printed text.  See below for more games!      


Legend:   1.  Better was     2.  White slightly better   3.  Black slightly better


Chumachenko,Andrey (2447) - Giannatos,Peter (2044) [A59]

Land of the Sky 2009 (1), 23.01.2009

[Rybka 3 (90s)]  

A59: Benko/Volga Gambit: White castles by hand 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 [2.Nf3 e6=] 2...c5 3.d5 White wins space 3...b5 [3...g6 4.Nd2=] 4.cxb5² a6 5.bxa6 g6 6.Nc3 Bxa6 7.Nf3 Bg7 8.e4 Bxf1 9.Kxf1 d6 Covers e5 10.g3 0–0 11.Kg2 White king safety dropped 11...Nbd7 12.Qe2 Nb6 White has an active position [12...Rb8 13.h3²] 13.a4 White has a new backward pawn: b2. Black has a cramped position 13...Qc8 14.a5 Qa6 15.Qxa6 [15.axb6 is much weaker 15...Qxe2 (15...Qxa1?! 16.e5 dxe5 17.Nxe5³) 16.Rxa8 Qc2µ] 15...Rxa6 16.Ra2 [16.axb6? is a blank shot 16...Rxa1 17.Bg5 Rxh1 18.Kxh1 Rb8–+] 16...Nc4? [¹16...Nbd7!? 17.Bg5 h6±] 17.Ra4+- Ne5 18.Nxe5 dxe5 19.Be3 Nd7 20.Rb1 Rc8? [¹20...f5+-] 21.b4 cxb4 22.Na2 Rca8 [22...Raa8 23.a6 f5 24.exf5 gxf5 25.Nxb4+-] 23.Nxb4 Rxa5 24.Rxa5 Rxa5 25.Nc6 Ra8 26.Rb7 Nf6 27.Nxe7+ Kf8 28.f3 [¹28.Nc6!? makes it even easier for White 28...Nxe4 29.d6 Nxd6+-] 28...Ke8 29.Nc6 Nd7 30.f4 f6 31.Ra7 Rxa7 32.Bxa7 [Less advisable is 32.Nxa7 f5 33.exf5 gxf5±] 32...Bf8 33.fxe5 fxe5 34.Bb8 [34.Kf3 Bd6+-] 34...Nxb8 35.Nxb8 Bd6 [35...Bb4 36.Nc6 Bc3 37.Kf3+-] 36.Nc6 Kf7? [¹36...Bc7+-] 37.Kf3 Kf6 38.h3 [38.Ke3!? and White can already relax 38...g5 39.Kd3 Kf7+-] 38...h5 [38...Bc5 39.Ke2 h5 40.Kd3+-] 39.Nd8 [39.Ke3 keeps an even firmer grip 39...Bc5+ 40.Kd3 Bf2+-] 39...Bb4 [39...Ke7 40.Ne6+-] 40.Ne6 [¹40.Ke2+-] 40...g5?? terrible, but the game is lost in any case [¹40...Ba5+-] 41.g4 h4 42.Ke3 Be7 43.Kd3 Kf7 44.Kc4 Ke8 45.Nc5 Bd6 [45...Kd8+- otherwise it's curtains at once] 46.Nb7 Ba3 47.d6 Kd7 [47...Bb2 is one last hope 48.Nc5 Ba3+-] 48.Kd5 Bb2 49.Nc5+ [49.Nc5+ Ke8 50.Ke6+-] 1–0


Wheeler,Jerry (2210) - Chumachenko,Andrey (2447) [A16]

Land of the Sky 2009 (2), 24.01.2009

[Rybka 3 (90s)]

A16: English Opening: 1...Nf6 with ...d5 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 [3...c5 4.e4=] 4.cxd5² Nxd5 5.Qa4+ Nc6 6.Ne5 Ndb4 [6...Qd6 7.Nxc6 Qxc6 8.Qxc6+ bxc6 9.a3=] 7.a3² Bg7 8.axb4 Bxe5 9.e3 Controls d4+f4 [9.b5 Nb8²] 9...0–0 10.b5 Nb8 11.d4 White threatens to win material: d4xe5 11...Bg7 12.Be2 c6 Prevents intrusion on d5 13.0–0 cxb5 [13...Bd7 14.Qb3²] 14.Bxb5 [14.Qxb5 a6 15.Qc5 b6²] 14...b6 15.Rd1 White plans d5 15...Bb7 16.d5 Black's piece can't move: b8 [16.f3 a5²] 16...a6 Black threatens to win material: a6xb5 17.Bc6 White threatens to win material: Bc6xb7 [17.Be2 Be5=] 17...Qc7 18.Bxb7 Qxb7 19.e4 Black has a cramped position [19.Qh4 Bf6 20.Qg3 Nd7=] 19...Nd7 20.Qc6 Rfb8 [20...Rab8 21.Be3 Nc5 22.Qxb7 Rxb7 23.f3=] 21.Bg5 White threatens to win material: Bg5xe7 [21.f4 Bxc3 22.Qxc3 Rc8²] 21...Nc5 [21...Ne5 22.Qxb7 Rxb7 23.Ra2=] 22.f3 [¹22.Bf4!? Re8 23.Qxb7 Nxb7 24.Na4²] 22...Qxc6= 23.dxc6 Bxc3 24.bxc3 White has a new passed pawn: c6. Black has a new passed pawn: a6 24...f6 Black threatens to win material: f6xg5 25.Be3 Rc8 26.Bxc5 bxc5 A double rook endgame occurred. 27.Rd7 White threatens to win material: Rd7xe7. A beautiful square! 27...Kf7 28.c7 Ra7 Black threatens to win material: Ra7xc7 29.Ra5 White threatens to win material: Ra5xc5 29...Ke6 Black threatens to win material: Ke6xd7 30.Rd5 White threatens to win material: Rd5xc5 30...Rcxc7 31.Kf2 [31.Raxc5? doesn't lead to the expected results 31...Rxc5 32.Rxc5 a5–+; 31.Rdxc5? is worthless because of 31...Rxc5 32.Rxc5 a5–+] 31...Rc6 32.Ke3 [Weaker is 32.Rdxc5 Rxc5 33.Rxc5 a5µ; Not 32.Raxc5 Rxc5 33.Rxc5 a5–+] 32...Rac7 33.f4 Kf7 34.g4 e6 35.Rd2 Rb7 36.Rda2 Rb3 37.Kd3 c4+ 38.Kd4 Rb1 39.Rc5 Rxc5 40.Kxc5 Rf1 41.Rxa6 Rxf4 42.Ra7+ Ke8 43.g5 [43.e5 fxe5 44.Rxh7 Rxg4=] 43...fxg5³ 44.e5 [44.Rxh7 Rxe4 45.Rg7 g4³] 44...Rf7 [44...h5!?µ] 45.Ra8+³ Kd7 46.Kxc4 Rf3 47.Ra7+ Kc6 48.Ra6+ Kd7 49.Kd4 [49.Ra7+!? has some apparent merit 49...Kc6 50.Ra6+ Kb7 51.Rxe6=] 49...Rh3³ Black threatens to win material: Rh3xh2 50.Ra7+ Kc6 51.Ra6+ Kd7 [51...Kc7!?³] 52.Ra7+= Kc6 53.Ra6+ Twofold repetition 53...Kc7 54.c4 Rxh2 55.Rxe6 g4 56.Ra6?? [¹56.Ke3³ is a viable option] 56...g3–+ 57.Ke3 [57.Ra3 Rh4+ 58.Ke3 Rg4 59.Ra7+ Kd8–+] 57...Rc2 58.Kf4 g2 59.Ra1 h6 60.Ke4 [60.Kg3 Kd7–+] 60...Rxc4+ [¹60...h5 might be the shorter path 61.Kf3 Kd7–+] 61.Kd5 [61.Kf3 Rc2 62.Kg3–+] 61...Rg4 62.Rc1+ [62.Rg1 Kd7 63.e6+ Ke7 64.Rxg2 Rxg2 65.Ke4–+] 62...Kd8 [62...Kd8 63.Rg1 Ke7–+] 0–1


Chumachenko,Andrey (2447) - Moon,Ryan (2122) [D37]

Land of the Sky 2009 (3), 24.01.2009

[Rybka 3 (90s)]

D37: Queen's Gambit Declined: 5 Bf4 1.d4 ...d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 e6 4.Nc3 Be7 5.cxd5 exd5 6.Bf4 0–0 7.e3 b6 [7...Nh5 8.Be5²] 8.Qc2 [8.Bd3 c5²] 8...c5 9.Bd3 Nc6 10.a3 Secures b4. 10...cxd4 [10...c4 11.Be2=] 11.Nb5 White threatens to win material: Nb5xd4 11...Bd7 12.Nfxd4 Nxd4 13.Nxd4 A sound move 13...Bc5 14.0–0 Rc8? [¹14...Qe7!?= should be investigated more closely] 15.Ba6± Qe7 [15...Ra8 16.Bb7±] 16.Bxc8+- Rxc8 17.Qd3 Nh5 [17...Ne4!?±] 18.b4+- Nxf4 19.exf4 Bd6 20.Nf5 [20.Nf5 Bxf5 21.Qxf5+-] 1–0


Kudrin,Sergey (2590) - Chumachenko,Andrey (2447) [B44]

Land of the Sky 2009 (4), 25.01.2009

[Rybka 3 (90s)]

B44: Sicilian: Taimanov: 5 Nb5 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 [2...d6 3.Bc4²] 3.d4 [3.Bb5 g6=] 3...cxd4= 4.Nxd4 e5 5.Nb5 d6 6.Be3 Nf6 Black threatens to win material: Nf6xe4 7.Bg5 [7.N1c3 a6 8.Na3 b5=] 7...a6 8.Bxf6 gxf6 Black has the pair of bishops 9.N5c3 f5 [9...Rg8 10.Nd2=] 10.Nd2 [10.Bc4 Nd4³] 10...Bg7 [10...Rg8!?³ deserves consideration] 11.Qh5² Nd4 Black threatens to win material: Nd4xc2 12.Bd3 d5 [12...fxe4 13.Bxe4 h6 14.0–0–0²] 13.Nxd5² [Worse is 13.exd5 e4 14.Ndxe4 fxe4 15.Bxe4 h6³] 13...fxe4 14.Bxe4 Nxc2+ 15.Bxc2 Qxd5 16.Bb3 Qd7 17.Nc4 White threatens to win material: Nc4xe5 [¹17.Ne4 0–0 18.Rd1²] 17...Qe7?? [¹17...0–0= would keep Black in the game] 18.Nd6+!+- Double attack: g7/e8 (DIAGRAM)

18...Kd7?? Black crumbles in face of a dire situation [18...Qxd6 19.Qxf7+ Double attack] 19.Rc1 Qf6 20.Nxf7 [20.Rxc8?! is a bad alternative 20...Raxc8 21.Nxc8 Kxc8 22.Qxf7 Qxf7 23.Bxf7 Rd8±] 20...Rf8 [20...Ke7 21.0–0 Kf8 22.Nxh8 Bxh8 23.Qxh7 Bd7 24.Qg8+ Ke7 25.Qxa8 Bg7 26.Qxb7 Qf5 27.Rfd1 Bh6 28.Rxd7+ Qxd7 29.Rc7 Kf6 30.Rxd7 a5 31.Qc6+ Kg5 32.h4+ Kg4 33.Bd1+ Kf5 34.Rf7#] 21.0–0 [21.Qg4+ Ke7 22.Rc7+ Ke8 23.Rxc8+ Rxc8 24.Qxc8+ Ke7 25.Qxb7+ Ke8 26.Ba4+ Qc6 27.Bxc6#] 21...Ke7 22.Rc7+ Bd7 23.Qg4 [23.Qg4 Rxf7 24.Rxd7+ Ke8 25.Bxf7+ Qxf7 26.Rxf7 Kxf7 27.Rd1+-; 23.Rd1 Qc6 24.Rxc6 bxc6 25.Nxe5 Be6 26.Nxc6+ Kf6 27.Qe5+ Kg6 28.Qxe6+ Bf6 29.Bc2+ Kg7 30.Rd7+ Be7 31.Rxe7+ Rf7 32.Rxf7+ Kg8 33.Bxh7+ Kh8 34.Qe5#] 1–0




Kudrin-Chumachenko    Position after 18.Nd6+!


Chumachenko,Andrey (2447) - Ardaman,Miles (2340) [A46]

Land of the Sky 2009 (5), 05.02.2009

[Rybka 3 (90s)]

A46: 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 e6: Torre, London and Colle Systems 1.d4 b5 2.Nf3 Bb7 3.g3 e6 4.Bg2 c5 5.0–0 Nf6 6.c3 h6 Consolidates g5 7.Nbd2 a5 8.Re1 d5 9.Ne5 [9.e4 dxe4 10.Ne5=] 9...Qb6 [9...Nbd7!?=] 10.e4² cxd4 [10...dxe4!? is worth consideration 11.Nxe4 cxd4±] 11.exd5± Bxd5 12.Bxd5 Nxd5 13.Qf3 dxc3?? but even a better move would not have saved the game [¹13...Ra7 14.Nxf7! registering a claim to victory 14...Rxf7 15.Qxd5 Rf6 16.cxd4 Kf7 17.Qh5+ g6+-] 14.Nxf7+- cxd2 15.Bxd2 Rg8 16.Qxd5 Kxf7?? sad, but how else could Black save the game? [16...Ra6 17.Rac1 Kxf7 18.Qf3+ Kg6 19.Qe4+ Kf7 20.Qf4+ Kg6+-] 17.Qf3+ Kg6 18.Qxa8 Bc5 [18...Bb4 cannot change destiny 19.Bxb4 axb4 20.Qe4+ Kf7 21.Qf4+ Ke7 22.Qxb4+ Qd6 23.Qxb5+-] 19.Qe4+ [19.Bxa5 might be the shorter path 19...Qd6 20.Rad1 Bxf2+ 21.Kxf2 Qc5+ 22.Kg2 Qf5+-] 19...Kf7 20.Be3 [20.Qf3+ seems even better 20...Ke7 21.Rxe6+ Qxe6+-] 20...Nd7 [20...Bxe3 does not solve anything 21.Qf3+ (21.Qxe3?! Qxe3 22.Rxe3 Nc6+-; 21.fxe3?! Rd8+-) 21...Kg6 22.Rxe3+- (‹22.Qxe3 Qxe3 23.Rxe3 Kf6+-; 22.fxe3?! Kh7+-) ] 21.Rac1 Bxe3 [21...Rc8 hardly improves anything 22.Red1 Rc7 23.Rxd7+ Rxd7 24.Rxc5+-] 22.Rc6 Bxf2+ 23.Kf1 Re8 [23...Qxc6 doesn't change anything anymore 24.Qxc6 Bxe1 25.Qxd7+ Kf6 26.Kxe1+-] 24.Rxb6 Bxb6 25.Qc6 Rd8 [25...Re7 does not win a prize 26.Rd1 Ke8 27.Rxd7 Rxd7 28.Qxe6+ Kd8 29.Qxb6+ Kc8 30.Qxb5 Rf7+ 31.Kg1+-] 26.Rd1 [26.Rd1 Nf6 27.Qb7+ Kf8 28.Rxd8+ Bxd8 29.Qxb5+-] 1–0


Looking for LOTS Games?  Look No Further!


It has been a brutal, painstaking process.  Now, after much begging, nagging, and agonizing, I am pleased to present 31 games from the 2009 Land of the Sky.  These have been annotated with DEEP RYBKA 3 at 90s per ply.  Included you will find games by GM Alexander Ivanov, GM Sergey Kudrin, FM Andrey Chumachenko, FM Ron Simpson (with opening remarks by Simpson!), NM Miles Ardaman, NM Rusty Potter, Experts Gary Newsom & Peter Giannatos, Josh "Lawman" Lawson, Jonathon McNeill, and more. 

The collection also includes some special treats:  Peter Giannatos vs. Ken Baxter, a smoking Chatard-Alekhine attack that allowed Baxter to exact a little payback for previous "smack downs!"  Annotated in detail by Ken Baxter, this is one you don't want to miss!  Also not to be missed:  how do you topple the current North Carolina Champion?  It takes a great player with a great (!!) move.  Be sure to check out IM Bryan Smith's Kung Fu thrust ending to his game with our beloved champion FM Ron Simpson.  Last but certainly not least, be sure to check out Dominique Myers' surprising upset of FM Miles Ardaman.  A subtle endgame slip was all it took!              


Click HERE for LOTS 2009 Games




The 2009 Land of the Sky Speed Chess Tournament

 by Ken J. Baxter





What a fantastic finish to the Speed Chess Championship at Land of the Sky XXII this year!   Seventeen competitors gathered at the Asheville Crown Plaza Resort to battle for the speed chess title, and for almost $300 in cash prizes. 

FIDE Master Kazim Gulamali was confidently cruising to clear first place after thumping GM Alexander Ivanov 2-0 in the fourth round, but he was yet to face a final “speed bump” in the last round.  IM Kirill Kuderinov, a 22-year-old player from Kazakhstan, was the final roadblock in Kazim’s race for the title.  It was the first year IM Kuderinov had participated in our tournament.  Kazim needed only one out of two to win clear first place.  The first game went down to the wire and ended in a draw.  The final game of the tournament was a frantic struggle and drew a crowd of spectators which included GM Sergey Kudrin.  The event had actually drawn more  spectators than participants!  Kirill survived Kazim’s attack, and won the game to tie for first place with a score of 8.5 out of 10.  Kazim and Kirill walked away with $92.50 each. 

Kazim has proven to be one of the best speed chess players in the area.  He split first place with GM Alexander Ivanov last year.  In 2007, he took clear first with 8.5/10.  In fact, computer records dating back to 2006 indicate that Kazim has won this event every time he has played.  He missed the event in 2006, and Klaus Pohl won clear first.  Kazim has now won this event three times in a row.  He also won in 2004. 

 In the Under 1800 section, Reece Thompson (1579) started out slowly and lost his first four games.  In the end, he finished strongly by winning his last four to secure clear first with 6 points out of 10, netting $70.  Second place and $25 went to Thomas Hamilton with 5.5 points.


Here is the list of players with their final standings:


                                                                IM Kirill Kuderinov                    8.5

                                                                FM Kazim Gulamali                   8.5

                                                                GM Alexander Ivanov                7.0

                                                                FM Ron Simpson                      6.0

                                                                Peter Giannatos                         6.0

                                                                Michael D. Lauria                      6.0

                                                                Reece Thompson                      6.0

                                                                Kevin Huang                             5.5

                                                                Thomas E. Hamilton                  5.5

                                                                Victor M Beaman                      5.0

                                                                Alexei Gorbounov                     4.5

                                                                Paul Calloway                           4.5

                                                                Milton Kicklighter                     4.5

                                                                Kenzie L. Moore                       4.0

                                                                William L Taylor                       3.5

                                                                James N. Hodge                        3.0

                                                                Wallace Parker                          2.0


Organizer Wilder Wadford designed the LOTS Speed Chess Championship  to be a fun event, not as a way to make money.  The prize fund includes 100% of the entry fees.  Players attending the LOTS tournament enjoy multiple opportunities to participate in the royal game we all love, including the main event, the Speed Chess Tournament, and a Sunday evening Simul by one of the visiting Grandmasters. 

We have had far more players participating in the Speed Chess Tournament in previous years.  Thirty-three competed in 2005.  Our numbers have dwindled to between seventeen to twenty-two in the last few years.  Your humble reporter and Speed Chess Tournament Director would like to know what we can do to increase the participation level.  We offered a lower entry fee for players under age eighteen or over age sixty this year, and we intend to continue this in the future.  We also took a poll to see how many would play if the event were held on Saturday night.  We did not get any serious support for that option.  Our goal is to design the event to attract more people.  Player suggestions are always welcome.

Many thanks to the seventeen brave souls who participated, and we hope to see all of you back in 2010!

 Photos:  Land of the Sky XXII:  Speed Chess Tournament 2009




The Chicken of Champions!

by Tom Hales


One of the highlights of my Land of the Sky tournament was when FM Ron Simpson invited me to accompany him as he sought pre-game sustenance.  Like any good chess player, he mapped out our journey to a local Chinese restaurant with directions from the front desk.  So we hopped into his Toyota with about 40 minutes left until the next round.

On the way, we discussed many chess related topics.  Ron is an amiable guy who is more approachable than many Masters.  He doesn't mind sharing his insights about chess, and how chess relates to all areas his life.  We discussed some ideas I had for the NCCA website, and the NC Gambit.  The best part was when we started a list of players with bad attitudes.  Joe King was at the top of the list.  Of course, I am Joe King.  Joking!!

I don't know if we were too wrapped up in our conversation, or if the place had gone out of business, but we never did find the Chinese place.  We settled on a Kentucky Fried Chicken instead.  (That's KFC for you younger folks).  My reporter's instincts went into high gear, because I knew that a magic moment was near.  What would our champion order?  People want to know!  Folks, I am pleased to report that FM Ron Simpson prefers the "original recipe" over the "extra crispy."  You heard it here first!



Musical Chess

How iPod Use Affects Players

by Tom Hales


The NC Scholastic Championship is just around the corner, and many bright young minds are focusing on their chess with a greater intensity than usual.  Coaches have gone into overdrive looking for ways to shape their students' ideas and attitudes for the upcoming event.  Serious players scrutinize every aspect of their play, and while chess is a game of aptitude, it also requires an equally important ability to focus mentally. 

Chess is not a pastime for the less-than-fully alert.  A moment's inattention can wreak havoc.  Players do well to heed the warning of I.A. Horowitz, "One bad move nullifies forty good ones."  Bobby Fischer said, "Chess demands total concentration."  Can anyone really imagine the great Fischer wearing an iPod?  Perhaps a better question is this:  To what extent does listening to music affect concentration? 

iPod use seems to be most prevalent among younger players, especially teenagers.  While I am not aware of any scientific study to back this up, my experience as a tournament director and player offers strong anecdotal confirmation of this assertion.  There seems to be a generational divide on the issue.  Perhaps those who have grown up in the age of information overload have developed a need for more stimulation.  During the course of my investigation, one teenager told me privately, "I use it to stay awake!"  This may lend credence to H.G. Well's assertion that "No chess player sleeps well."

Other players find music relaxing or soothing.  Tanner Hogue is one of the more active scholastic players in the state, and he is seldom spotted without his iPod.  "For me the iPod relaxes me in between moves;  I usually turn it off and just keep the earphones in when it is my move.  If I play a true five-hour game and focus on it for the entire five hours, I will have no gas left for the next round.  So, instead of walking around after every move,  I just sit back in my chair and 'zone out,' lightly analyzing the position, with a casual, relaxed attitude that allows me to see the board from a different prospective, keeps me from burning out, and allows me to have a little fun while I'm playing."

Tanner makes an excellent point about players walking around.  I have noticed how some players have a habit of looking at other games as they stretch their legs.  This practice is not uncommon among Masters and even Grandmasters, as I noted during this year's Land of the Sky.  One would imagine that the "light analysis" mode Tanner spoke of would be the modus operandi for such excursions.

Adam Holmes admitted to me that he turns his iPod off at critical moments.  I noticed the same tendency among many players during recent tournaments, and I actually have photographic evidence to suggest that this method is widespread.  I snagged several great photos of Dominique Meyers during Land of the Sky this year, both with and without his headphones.  His upset of former NC Champion FM Miles Ardaman was a memorable moment at the event, and it offered further corroboration that most players do not immerse themselves in music one hundred percent of the time.  Was it also an indication that iPods aren't bad for all people?  Or perhaps Dominique is a GM-strength human Fritz, held back only by his love of music!

Greensboro's Josh Lawson is one player who has given up on iPod use.  "I used to use them off and on, but now I only listen to them before a tournament.  I think using them during a game may distract your concentration, and not allow you to be able to play at your best.  I find it difficult to think about numerous moves, and also listen to lyrics!  I know most people can multitask, but I believe this to be one of the most difficult things to do."

The whole idea of multitasking has come under scrutiny recently.  Laws have been passed in some states and localities banning the use of cell phones while driving.  Dave Crenshaw, a popular business author and productivity consultant, has written a fascinating book The Myth of Multitasking:  How "Doing It All" Gets Nothing Done.  He asserts that human beings are not really capable of multitasking, and that our performance suffers when we attempt to do so.  On the road, the consequences can be deadly.  Over the board, the effect may be less drastic, but worthy of consideration for serious competitors.

I queried several chess coaches and top level players on the subject. 

National Master Russell Potter has been teaching chess for nearly forty years, and in the interest of full disclosure, I am a satisfied former student.  Given his pedigree both over the board and as a full time chess teacher, his name was one of the first that came to mind when looking for a thoughtful and informed opinion on the subject.

"Rusty" (as he is commonly called) did not disappoint:  "As a study aid in general, music needs to be 'unobtrusive' to the main focus of the listener's attention. Otherwise, the rhythm, melody, and lyrics (if any) will be a distraction from the main focus of attention. The knotty question remains then, what is the definition of unobtrusive?  Obviously, teens that listen to loud popular music with a driving beat have a higher tolerance level than those listening to more sedate melodies.  It is clear that lyrics distract more than melodies alone, that 'flowing' music supplements learning much better than 'staccato' music with lots of breaks and syncopation, and of course, LOUD is in general more distracting than soft."
Potter further added "As we age, we get more forgetful but less scatter-brained. We can focus on a specific subject longer without getting bored or restless. There is less hormone activity, including both adrenalin and testosterone, so we naturally stay focused better on one thing at a time. On the other hand, teens of course are constantly distracted by hormones. Perhaps they can handle more intense music at higher decibels than older players can. The very intensity of the music might actually reduce the amount of 'scatter-brainedness' in teenagers.  My general experience with older players, however, is that loud, arrhythmic, dramatic music pulls us off task.  So in general, I discourage its use among my adult students, and only a minimal use of it among my younger students." 

Many of Potter's observations are supported by teenagers who cited the soothing or relaxing nature of their music.  Perhaps music can tame the savage beast of raging hormones, and maybe this is one explanation for why iPod use is most prevalent among teenagers.  Then again, maybe it just looks cool!

Charlotte-based chess coach Todd Trower chimed in with his thoughts at The Asheboro Open 42 recently.  After  initially transcribing his interview, I realized that it might add "extra cheddar" to this report if one could just listen.  The NC Gambit is not afraid to make it better with extra cheddar.  If you like, you may download this to your iPod for a soothing effect!  The two minute interview is presented in Mp3 format:  Todd Trower Interview  

Durham Academy's chess guru NM Craig Jones had some brief but revealing comments:  "(For me) listening to music while I play would be very distracting; it's interesting how young players listen and play at the same time; it shows how they acclimated to this growing up.  Scientists say multitasking is more myth than reality; I think the music is more of a background relaxer than anything.  I am not sure."

Ken Baxter, former NCCA President and scholastic VP, was a bit more dire in his assessment:  "As for iPod use, I don’t know how anyone can concentrate on chess with music blasting away.  I’m fine with having music playing when I’m goofing around with 'coffee house' speed chess, but not serious tournament chess.  I do believe that music can set the mood before a game, but I have not practiced that habit." 

I would be truly remiss in my investigation of this subject if I did not seek the opinion of our current NC Champion!  FM Ron Simpson has always been willing to contribute, and this was no exception:  "Listening to music during the game!  I am not sure if this is a good idea, but many people believe there are positives with the practice.  During a serious game, there are so many things going on within each participant that the music will mask or make it harder
for them to be cognizant."

Simpson added, "Many years ago I would play speed chess for hours (sometimes fifteen to twenty hours straight), and we always listened to music!  Motown, mellow Jazz, or the latest hit would make the experience very enjoyable. My music preference is 60s, 70s, love songs, etc.  Inspirational songs?  'A Change is Going to Come' by Sam Cook, 'Let it Be by the Beatles', etc.."  It sounds like Ron's play list is on par with his chess!

Now that we have considered how music might affect one's play, let us consider another side of the issue:  How does iPod use impact tournaments?  Most tournament directors do not prohibit them if the volume is kept to a reasonable level and does not disturb other players.  NM Russell Potter opined, "Everyone can agree that the sloppy attention given to the volume control of iPods when kids pull them out of their ears is inexcusable.  If the users cannot control this, then iPods should be banned from the playing hall."  Todd Trower also mentioned that he considered their ban to be within a tournament director's prerogative.  (You did listen to his interview, didn't you?) 

Greensboro's Josh Lawson foresees another potential problem with the devices:  "The only problem that I have with people using iPods is that (players could) download videos to them.  So one could easily get assistance if he chose to do so.  I haven't run into anyone yet to do so, so this is just hypothetical."  As a tournament director, I anticipate more issues as technology progresses.  Realistically, I don't see a chess video as being any more helpful than concealed written notes or a book.  Chess-playing computers are really the bad boys on the block. 

So what is the verdict on iPod use during tournament games?  The bottom line may be that each player should carefully consider whether it is a help or a hindrance, and should always be cautious to not disturb others.  My personal opinion has not changed due to this investigation--I'm all in favor of iPod use.  If an opponent wants to spend time fiddling with a gadget, or feels like "zoning out," I highly recommend it.

In closing, I leave you with the results of our terrific, yet unscientific iPod poll from the NCCA Discussion Board:  


How Does IPOD usage affect a chess player?
It definitely hurts their play
 0%  [ 0 ]
It probably hurts their play
 30%  [ 3 ]
It depends on the player
 60%  [ 6 ]
It can help their play
 10%  [ 1 ]
It definitely helps MY play
 0%  [ 0 ]
Total Votes : 10



Driven to Distraction



Dealing with Chess Characters

 by Tom Hales


We each have our own tolerance level for distractions during chess games.  One player may wear industrial grade ear protection, while others seem completely oblivious to their surroundings.  I’ve been known to don earplugs to protect myself from real or imagined noise pellets, while a more focused player like FM Andrey Chumachenko would not flinch if a train whistle blew behind his head.      

Often noise pollution is environmental, and normally not too bothersome.  Light background music, the sound of scurrying players and shuffling chairs, or the occasional cough is common.  My personal favorite is the maladjusted door.  It’s enough to make me come unhinged!

At the Land of the Sky tournament this year, GM Sergey Kudrin offered a Q&A session before his simul.  I grabbed the opportunity to ask how noise affected him as a player.  He indicated that most background noise is completely off his radar, and that only very loud or unexpected noises had any impact on him.  I did notice that his chief rival and the eventual winner of the tournament GM Alexander Ivanov sometimes had his fingers in his ears during play.

Most chess players learn to accept a reasonable level of noise; it’s all just part of the game.  Earplugs are a successful defense for those finding themselves under such a barrage.  These should be considered standard equipment for weekend warriors.      

Then there are the Chess Characters.  These opponents know how to get under your skin at just the right moment.  They assault your senses on multiple fronts.  What can one do in such a situation?  Maybe it’s time for a closer look.

As a tournament director, I see these characters from more than one perspective.  Having dealt with them over the board, they are easy to spot as I walk the floor tediously.  Normally, I am not allowed to interfere with such situations unless asked.  This guiding principle for directors can be circumvented, however, if an observed behavior could interfere with multiple games.

Here is partial list of some of the characters who regularly cross my chess landscape:                


Phonies:       These folks can’t figure out how to silence their cell phones. Even if they manage to master that step, they will take it out during the game, cooing over it like a teddy bear. 

Expressionists:      Such players can’t move without adding some non verbal commentary to the situation.  Tactics include sighing, grunting, head shaking, making bug eyes, raising eyebrows, and snickering.

Planters:    A subset of expressionists, these characters like to accentuate a key move by pushing their piece down into the board way too hard, and for way too long.  

Handymen:    Highly specialized expressionists, these acrobats incorporate fancy hand moves, and love hovering mid move like in The Matrix movie. 

Slammers:    A dangerous breed of expressionists who take their anger out on the chessmen.

Poker Players:    The opposite of expressionists, such players wear sunglasses to avoid eye contact.  The mirrored ones work best, creating a chameleon-like effect in which the player becomes one with the board.

Podheads:   Podheads get so involved in their music that they must lip sync the words, sometimes bobbing their heads around.  Often these generous sorts share their music with the group by treating their headphones like speakers.         

Piece Lovers:   These players love your pieces, and can’t keep their hands off captured men.  They click, they clack, they sort, they stack—all on your move.

Rockers:    Players of this ilk love to stand up when it’s your move, and sway back and forth in a rhythmic, cobra-like fashion.  This completely messes with your free throw.

Hackers:    These phlegm-slinging biohazards should have called in sick.   

Snack Attackers:   Certain emaciated souls like their food loud, large, and occasionally smelly.  They are literally out to lunch—on your move, of course. 

Ice Breakers:    Similar to snack attackers, these Nordic explorers specialize in jaw-splitting ice maneuvers.


Some of the behaviors I have mentioned are amusing, some mildly annoying, and some downright objectionable.  What should one do when facing such indignities?  Is there a reasonable course of action other than just giving your opponent the stink eye?

It is often sufficient as a first line of defense to simply ask your opponent in a nice way to stop the offending behavior.  This is usually a good option if the opponent is not angry.

Fortunately, there are rules regarding annoying behavior written within the USCF’s Official Rules of Chess.  I recommend that every serious player own a copy of this treatise, and know his rights.  The rules in question are outlined in Section 20 “Conduct of Players And Spectators.”  While this portion is meticulously detailed beyond our current focus, rules 20.G and 20.G1 are the main cookie-cutter guidelines.

As indicated in 20.G, players are not allowed to distract or annoy their opponents One may complain to the tournament director if he feels an opponent is crossing the line.  Directors must decide whether the behavior was intentional, or inadvertent (20.G1).  More often than not, a simple warning suffices, but directors do have discretionary power to impose penalties in more serious cases.

An example from my own experience as a tournament director comes to mind.  A game was coming down to the wire, and one player took to slamming his pieces in anger.  I stepped in quickly, stopped the clock, and whispered to the player, “If you slam one more piece, I will forfeit you from the game.”  Fortunately, the player in question did not test my resolve.

Remember that directors have a lot of discretion.  If I suspected that someone was complaining simply for gamesmanship, such complaints would not get the same attention as more serious matters.  However, when in doubt I would rather err on the side of enforcement, even if just to issue a warning. 

Chess characters have always been a part of tournament play.  Dealing with such distractions requires a little forethought.  Always carry earplugs, especially if you find noise particularly annoying.  Invest in a copy of the USCF official rules, and know your rights.  Tolerate what you can, and complain when you must. 

Most of all, live by your own code of ethics, and be slow to judge others without asking yourself first, “Am I a chess character?”        



Searching for Bobby Fischer Kit Crittenden

by Tom Hales


Little is generally known about the boy from Raleigh, North Carolina, who broke a national chess record which has stood for sixty years.  Count me among those who have noted the record with some satisfaction and a lot of curiosity.  For years, it has remained a simple entry on Bill Wall's Chess Site:  "Youngest state champion.  In 1948, Kit Crittenden won the North Carolina chess state championship at the age of 13."  I had often wondered what happened to this youngster, and if he was even still alive.  I had done some very casual research in the past which led me nowhere.  Kit Crittenden, it seemed, had vanished from chess.

I was recently asked to assume the roll of editor for the NCCA website and The NC Gambit.  The first story idea that came into my mind was based on that simple, one-line entry from Bill Wall's Chess Site.  I must admit, the thought had crossed my mind that perhaps he didn't have much competition, which would explain his seemingly magical feat.  I decided to take another look at the NCCA's list of NC Champions, and I found he had won the title a minimum of four times (there are still some gaps in the record).  Now my curiosity was growing!  Kit's accomplishment must have been more than luck, and more than a curiosity. 

So I set about my research with renewed vigor and some apprehension about what I might find.  My task would have been all but impossible without the Internet.  Kit may have ridden off into the sunset, but he managed to leave a faint trail of digital crumbs.  I was determined to pick up the scent no matter how long it took.

The first and most obvious way to check for a chess player is to look them up on USCF's web site.  I thought there might be a slim chance the man was still active in chess.   I checked, didn't find an exact match, and moved on.  The trail was quickly growing cold, but I had missed something... 

So I started my Google quest.  Would you believe there is an author from Alaska by the name of Kit Crittenden?  My heart raced as I followed this false lead to its comical end.  It turns out the Alaskan Kit Crittenden is actually female.  Barring some extremely unlikely set of circumstances, this was a dead end!

I drilled deeper into the world wide web, discarding several false leads and brief mentions.  Finally a "eureka moment" arrived, and fortunately, I wasn't in a bathtub.  Records indicated that Kit Crittenden had a distinguished career in intercollegiate chess, playing for UNC-Chapel Hill.  Enter one Daniel Fidlow, whose claim to fame was beating Crittenden for the first and only time during intercollegiate play.  That game actually won the brilliancy prize, which is what it took to beat our chess colossus!  (Reference documents UniRichVa1, UniRichVa2, UniRichVa3)

My next big break came from the Virginia Chess Newsletter, a publication which sets a gold standard for state chess magazines.  After realizing that Crittenden staked some chess claims in Virginia, I remembered Macon Shibut's excellent work with the Virginia Chess Federation.  So I scanned through available back issues at their website, and  found a game annotated by our hero.  Shibut graciously gave his blessing to use this annotation in our games database.

Database!  What was I thinking?  Why not search my database for games by name?  Perhaps I did not anticipate finding older games.  Nonetheless, In a few keystrokes, I had found three more games.  While they were listed simply as "Crittenden," they matched up perfectly with the time period in question.  These had to be our Kit!  Then again, had I missed something?

As I dove ever deeper into the oceans of information charted by Google, another game surfaced from the 1949 National Junior Championship held in Fort Worth, Texas.  Someone had posted a Chess Digest from that year, published in California and edited by the late great George Koltanowski.  What a glorious magazine it was!  Unfortunately, I don't have space to publish the full edition, but you can peek at the game in question here.  It also became part of our Kit Crittenden database.

The database was looking pretty sad for Crittenden at that point.  After all my research on the great champion, I had uncovered just six games--each and every one a loss!  Either Kit was not so fine a player as I had imagined, or his opponents felt so proud of beating him that they scrambled to publish their feats.  I was beginning to doubt my ability to track down even a single win.

What had begun with a simple one sentence reference to a record was about to blow wide open with a similar spark.  While scraping the bottom of the proverbial Google barrel,  I stumbled across the following one liner that had me laughing all the way to the Kit Crittenden bank:  "1948.08.29 Charles "Kit" Crittenden wins NC state CH at age 14, nation's youngest state CH. (CR 6/51,164)".  Charles?  Suddenly, things I had missed came flooding into my memory.  (Editor's note:  Crittenden confirmed that he had actually been 14 (not 13 as originally reported when he won the title, but he is still the youngest state champion.) 

Indeed, I had been guilty of a big assumption.  You see, the USCF has a Charles Crittenden listed in California, but after looking at that record, I had assumed this wasn't the same person.  Charles Crittenden is a life member, with a last published rating of 2257 in January, 1990.  Never did I imagine this could be the same man, still rated a Master after forty-two years!  I also failed to recognize that the "Charles Crittenden" game from 1985 contained in my database was actually our Kit.  In my mind, I had already decided that they were not the same person.  Little did I know he had taken up residence in California.   

So began Google quest part two.  Armed with his real name, a simple yet key fact, information began flooding my computer screen at an astounding rate.  I learned more in one day than I had in the previous week of research.  I am pleased to report that our champion is not only alive, but has done quite well for himself since his North Carolina days.  He is also willing to share his story!  The following is Kit Crittenden's gracious reply to my email inquiry:


A Brief History of Kit Crittenden

by Charles "Kit" Crittenden, PhD


Dear Mr. Hales,

Thank you for your note -- I am indeed the Kit Crittenden of whom you wrote.  I would be very happy to communicate with you further on the time of my playing chess in N.C., which was from 1947 until the late '50's.  Then I left the state for military service in Pensacola, Florida.  From there I went to graduate school in philosophy in 1958, at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.  Thereafter I taught in Florida universities from 1960 - 70.  From the fall of 1970 through the spring of 2002 I taught at California State University, Northridge, until my retirement in 2002. After moving to California I continued to play tournament chess until about 1988.  Now it's only very occasional 5-minute sessions with friends.

I do have quite a collection of materials from my NC chess-playing days -- scorebooks, trophies, some newspaper and other records, and I would be happy to share them with you.

But I cannot begin to communicate with you on these matters just now, having just received the proofs for a book I have written, and there is a deadline on editing them and returning them to the publisher.  Let me get in touch with you when I am done with this, if this you don't mind, and then we can go into details.

Your interest is much appreciated and I look forward to co-operating with you in the near future.




Charles 'Kit' Crittenden



If I could bottle the adrenaline rush that flooded me when that email arrived, it would be a valuable commodity to say the least!  I realized then and there that Kit Crittenden's story could not possibly fit into a single article.  His legend is bigger than that; he dominated NC Chess for a decade, and his accomplishments deserve to be recognized.  I hope to examine his considerable career in more detail in our next issue.

I've compiled some photos and a few articles from Chess Review here:        

Kit Crittenden Photo Pages 

Here are some examples of his chess prowess.  Thanks to NM Neal Harris, who was able to locate some more games for us.  Many of these are taken from old NC Chess Bulletins and NC Gambits.  Kit Crittenden was an editor for these magazines, and annotated many of his own games.

Kit Crittenden Chess Games


(1) Crittenden,Kit - Woods,Henry [A35]

NC Championship 1948

[Annotated by Kit Crittenden & Rybka 3 (90s)]

A35: Symmetrical English: 2 Nc3 Nc6 3 Nf3 EDITOR'S NOTE: This was "The deciding game" from the 1948 NC Open.  Kit Crittenden, who had finished DEAD LAST in the previous year, squares off with four time NC Champion HENRY WOODS. Crittenden, a boy of 14, does not play perfectly, but manages to topple his opponent to earn the title of NC Chess Champion for 1948. This made him the youngest state champion ever, a record which stands sixty years later.While this game is annotated by Deep Rybka 3.0, KIT Crittenden's OWN annotations are noted with (KITC):***. I have changed descriptive notation to modern algebraic.   

1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 c5 (KITC): ***This formation is a favorite of Woods, with Black or with White.*** 3.e3 Nc6 4.g3 (KITC): ***White plans to control d5 (the fianchetto), and prevent his opponent's occupation of d4 with the move e3*** [4.Be2 d6=] 4...d6 5.Bg2 Bd7 (KITC): ***There was no threat. It would have been better to postpone the development of the bishop until the correct square could be found. [5...Nf6 6.d3=] 6.Nge2 Nf6 7.0–0 Be7 (KITC): ***White plays to open up the game before his opponent can fully develop.*** 8.d4 [8.Nd5 0–0=] 8...Qc7 [8...0–0 9.dxc5 dxc5 10.Nd5²] 9.f4 [9.dxc5!? is noteworthy 9...dxc5 10.b3²] 9...exd4= (KITC): ***If 0–0 at once, then f5 would emphasize the second player's cramp. In general, it is wise to exchange in a cramped position.*** 10.exd4 0–0 Black castles and improves king safety 11.d5 White threatens to win material: d5xc6 11...Na5 (KITC): ***Well played! His idea is Ng4 and Bf6, seizing the long diagonal. The knight will return to play with Nh6-Nb5. A totally different plan was ...Rab8 and b5, in line with his previous move. 12.b3 Controls a4+c4 12...Rfe8 13.Bb2 [13.Qd3 a6=] 13...Ng4 14.Ne4 (KITC): ***The only logical move. Black cannot be allowed to place his pieces well, and the sacrifice should be sound: 1. White has made no unnatural moves in obtaining a superior position, which would justify his playing such as Bcl or Qd3, in which case he would have to give up bishop for knight.2. Black's queenside pieces are ill-placed in case of a Kingside attack, especially then his knight would seem to be out of play.3. The position, especially the center, is favorable for long range bishop action. So white simply prevents Bf6.***Rybka: White has an active position [14.Qd2 Bf6³] 14...Ne3 Black threatens to win material: Ne3xd1 15.Qd3 Nxf1 16.Rxf1 Black wins the exchange 16...Bf5 (KITC): ***The exchange of a rather useless piece.*** [16...b5!? 17.f5 f6³] 17.Qc3 [17.g4 Bxg4 18.N2g3 Bd8±] 17...f6= (KITC): ***If ...Bf8, then 18.Nf6+ ...Kh1 (PxN, QxP forced mate) 19.NxR and the attack continues without material disadvantage.***Rybka: Secures g5 18.g4 Bxe4 (KITC): ***Black exchanges in the hope of reducing attacking forces. If Bxg4, then 19.Neg3 with the threat of f5, winning the bishop wiht h3. So 19...Bd7 seems to be the proper line. 20.Nh5 ...Rf8 21.Qg3 ...Rf7 22.Nexf6+ ...Kh8 23.Ne8 ...RxN 24.Bxg7+ ...Kh8 25.Bh6+ ...Kh8 26.Qc3+ and wins. Doubtless other variations also give a winning position, in material or attack. I, as white, did not visualize the analytical wins. The move was made by positional judgement.***Editor: see this variation below in red. [18...Bxg4 19.N2g3 b5 20.cxb5=; 18...Bxg4 19.N2g3 Bd7 20.Nh5 Rf8 21.Qg3 Rf7 22.Nexf6+ Kh8 23.Ne8 Rxe8 24.Bxg7+ Kg8 25.Bh6+ Kh8 26.Qc3+ Rybka could not find an absolute win here, but a lot of ways for black to go wrong. Fritz 9: 26...Kg8 27.Qg3+ 0.00/0 (27.Rf3) ] 19.Bxe4² Bf8 [19...Bd8 20.Ng3²] 20.Ng3 Black has a cramped position. Black's piece can't move: a5 20...Re7? (KITC): ***Black reasons that he should try to exchange rooks, since his rooks can find little scope for action, while his opponent's will aid in the pawn advances.*** [20...b5!? is an interesting alternative 21.Qd3 Rxe4 22.Nxe4 bxc4 23.bxc4 Re8±] 21.Bb1 [21.Bf5 a6+-] 21...Rae8 (KITC): ***He exchanges, even at the cost of a pawn.*** [¹21...Rf7!? 22.Bf5 Re8±] 22.Qd3+- g6 23.Bxf6?? with this move White loses his initiative [¹23.f5 White has the better game 23...Re3 24.Qc2+-] 23...Re1± 24.f5 White gets more space 24...Rxf1+? [24...Bg7 25.Rxe1 Rxe1+ 26.Kf2 Rxb1 27.Bxg7 Rxb3 28.Qe4 Qxg7 29.Qe6+ Qf7 30.axb3 Qxe6 31.dxe6 gxf5 32.gxf5 Nxb3 33.f6²] 25.Kxf1?? forfeits the advantage [25.Qxf1 Qf7 26.Bc3 b6+-] 25...Qf7? (KITC): ***25...Bg7 would lead to a loss followed by winning the pawn at g6, and the passed pawns must lead to an endgame win, especially since the bishop or knight could occupy e6.*** EDITOR'S NOTE: Kit may be right, see variation below in red! [¹25...Bg7 and Black can hope to live 26.Bg5 Qf7²; 25...Bg7 26.Bxg7 Qxg7 27.fxg6 hxg6 28.Qxg6 Qxg6 29.Bxg6] 26.g5 [¹26.Bc3 b6 27.Ne4 Rxe4 28.Qxe4+-] 26...Qd7?? (KITC): ***Bg7 would also lead to a loss. Black hopes for fxg6, when Qh3+ with a little more play would follow.***Rybka: leading to a quick end [¹26...Be7 27.fxg6 hxg6 28.Qxg6+ Qxg6 29.Bxg6 Rf8+-] 27.Qc3 (KITC): ***Threatening the knight, and protecting e1 from an obnoxious check by the enemy rook.*** [¹27.fxg6 seems even better 27...Bg7 28.Nh5 hxg6 29.Nxg7 Re5 30.Bxe5 dxe5+-] 27...b6 [27...Qf7 28.Qxa5 Bg7+-] 28.fxg6 Qh3+ (KITC): ***All is nearly lost. There are a few dying kicks, though.*** [28...hxg6 doesn't get the bull off the ice 29.Bxg6 Nxc4 30.bxc4+-] 29.Kg1 h5 [29...hxg6 30.Bxg6 Nxc4 31.Bxe8 Ne5 32.Bxe5 Qc8 33.Nh5 Qg4+ 34.Kf2 Bg7 35.Bxg7 Qxg5 36.Qf3 Qd2+ 37.Kg3 Qe1+ 38.Kh3 Qe7 39.Qg3 a6 40.Bf6+ Kf8 41.Bxe7+ Kxe8 42.Bxd6 Kd8 43.Qg8+ Kd7 44.Qf8 a5 45.Nf6#] 30.Bf5 Qh4 31.g7 [31.Bd7 Qxg5 32.Bxe8 Bg7 33.Bxg7 Qf4 34.Bf7+ Qxf7 35.gxf7+ Kxf7 36.Qf6+ Kg8 37.Bh6 Nc6 38.Qg7#] 31...Bxg7+- 32.Bxg7 [32.Be6+!? and White can already relax 32...Rxe6 33.dxe6 Qg4 34.Bxg7 Qxg5+-] 32...Qxg5 33.Bf6 Qf4 [33...Qe3+ no good, but what else? 34.Qxe3 Rxe3 35.Be6+ Kh7+-; 33...Qe3+ 34.Qxe3 Rxe3 35.Be6+ Kf8 36.Kf2 Rd3 37.Ke2] 34.Be6+ Rxe6 35.dxe6 h4 [35...Nc6 there is nothing else anyway 36.Nxh5 Qg4+ 37.Qg3 Qxg3+ 38.Nxg3 Kf8+-] 36.e7 Kf7 37.e8Q+! Double attack: e5/e5. 37...Kxe8 38.Qe1+ Kd7 39.Qe7+ Kc8 40.Qe8+ Kb7 41.Qe4+ Qxe4 42.Nxe4 [42.Nxe4 Kc6 43.Bc3+-] 1–0



Announcing Our 2009 Membership Drive


There has been a surge in our membership rolls for the first two months of 2009.  This has been mainly due to renewed collection efforts in conjunction with the North Carolina Grand Prix.  However, a lot of good people are still slipping through the cracks.  Please remember that your support is important! 

The recent date change for the Land of the Sky has had an unintended effect.  About twenty members expired on January 31, 2009.  Please check the membership database, and renew today if you have expired.  If we all do our fair share, NC Chess will continue to prosper in the coming years.

I believe we can grow to 300 members this year.  Thanks for your help reaching this goal!




Tom Hales, Editor