Archive for the ‘Grandmasters’ Category

What would happen if Bill Gates the mastermind behind Microsoft were to play world champion Magnus Carlsen in a chess match?

Carlsen & Gates

Does Bill Gates have a hidden talent that nobody knows about? Well, the two met back on January 23, 2014 as guests on the Norwegian TV show Skavlan. Gates played the white pieces and was given 2 minutes on his clock. Carlsen played black and was given 30 seconds on his clock.

Here’s what happened:

Of course the players were just goofing around and the audience was impressed with how quickly and easily Carlsen won the game. But a in spite of the dubious move 3.Bd3, which was a strange choice,


Gates was actually winning before he blundered away the game on the penultimate move 9. Ne5?? Which resulted in mate after Qh2#.


One possible continuation would have been … 9. Re1 Nd3 10. cd o-o-o.

Here’s the complete transcript.

1. e4 Nc6 2. Nf3 d5 3. Bd3 Nf6 4. ed Qd5 5. Nc3 Qh5 6. 0-0 Bg4 7. h3 Ne5?? 8. hg Ngf4 9. Ne5 Qh2#


karpov2After over five years in Suffern, we’ve been informed that none other than Anatoly Karpov is an avid reader of our chess blog! Even more surprising, he recently contacted us to find out how he could help us boost our membership.

We explained to him that unlike other clubs in the tri-state area, we do not have deep pockets and would be unable to provide him with an appearance fee, first class airline travel, a chauffeured limousine, or even a bag of pretzels.

We told him we could provide our undying gratitude, a number of players willing to participate in a simul, and a rapt audience to listen to a chess lecture. Or if that’s not possible, we offered to wash his car for him and have club members on call to work as his full-time butler the next time he’s in town.

Luckily, the former world champion has a big heart and after discussions with his seconds (and thirds) we were told that he would find a way to help us out once he has some spare time. Why? Because he wants to do for Suffern what he did for Lindsborg, Kansas! (you know – the site of the Anatoly Karpov International School of Chess).

As one might imagine, Anatoly has a busy schedule, he just got back from Australia after participating in the Just Owners of Koalas Event. He told us that there are many events in Russia (and Crimea) that allow club players to build their ratings, for example the Just Orphaned Kamchatkan’s Extravaganza.

He was very kind and gregarious and provided insight into the way a Grandmaster thinks by offering the following advice that is applicable to both novices and experts:

  • Always remember to bring two pencils to every match, just in case one breakskarpov-kasparov
  • Prepare for your opponents as if your life depended on it
  • Remember to move your knights first, unless you have a really good reason to do otherwise
  • Invest in good chess software, or find a good expert player for chess lessons
  • Losing isn’t so bad, it’s better than a poke in the eye, or a horde of Cossacks
  • Follow your heart, it will show you the right path
  • Only attack after efficiently evaluating an advantageous position, or if you just need to get home early
  • Often prepare for defense, sometimes an opponent may surprise you
  • Love your enemies, they don’t mean to be mean (they were just born that way)

Unfortunately, in the end, we couldn’t work out terms for a simul or a personal appearance. So, instead Anatoly agreed to observe one of our tournaments and give a virtual lecture via Skype. However, because his schedule is so busy, he has agreed to do the broadcast on June 31st of 2015. He might also have a double-booked appointment to visit the Russian space station, but he has assured us that he can do the Skype lecture from orbit if necessary.

What a great guy!

(oh, and happy April Fool’s day!)

The Fool

borisaltermanOne of the long running features on the ICC website is Boris Alterman’s Gambit Guide, a series of videos on sharp chess openings (for both white and black).

We recently learned that Boris has his very own WordPress site which contains useful information for the improving chess player.

A summary of blog post categories can be accessed on the left side of the blog.

Categories include:

  • Coaching Tips
  • Computer Chess
  • Principles of Play
  • Openings

On the negative side, the vast majority of blog posts are from 2008 (with a few newer posts from 2010 and 2011). It’s likely that Boris has been more occupied with updating his lecture series on the ICC and has less time to maintain this blog.

In any case, it’s certainly worth a visit. You can check it out by clicking the following link: Boris Alterman Website

Short a Handshake

Posted: February 7, 2014 in chess, Grandmasters
Tags: , ,

We recently came across the following video on You Tube while researching ideas for new blog posts.

Is seems that back on January 22, 2008 Nigel Short was scheduled to play Ivan Cheparinov of Bulgaria at the famous Wijk aan Zee tournament. As the match was set to begin, Short attempts to make the traditional handshake and is twice refused by Cheparinov!

Nigel Short vs. Ivan Cheparinov:

After the incident, Short spoke to the tournament director and his opponent was disqualified from the match. Supposedly, Cheparinov was upset with Short about alleged comments he made about Cheparinov and the Bulgarian team in the past.

In a final twist, Cheparinov appealed the decision and was given a second opportunity to play the match if he provided a written apology:

Dear All,

I accept the decision of the Appeal Committee and on the name of chess, the chess fans and showing respect to the opinion of my colleagues would like to state the following:

I apologize officially to Mr. Short, to the Organizing Committee and the sponsors of Corus chess tournament.

I am ready to play the game today at 13’ 30 and will shake hands with Mr. Short according to the decision of the Appeal Committee.

Best regards,
 Ivan Cheparinov

It all sounds a bit surreal, but a full accounting of the incident can be found on the chessbase website at the following link  (

Justice prevailed in the actual match, as Short was able to convert an endgame advantage to a win. After the match, the press interviewed him, and he provided this memorable quote:

‘There is a God.   And he is not Bulgarian!’

Young Grandmasters

Posted: December 26, 2012 in chess, Grandmasters

We’ve made a couple of quick updates to the site before the new year. First off, we’ve updated the list of the top 5 players in the world. The top 4 slots have remained the same, but new to the list is Fabiano Caruana who is rated 2792. The FIDE chess site shows that Fabiano has dual US and Italian citizenship. He was awarded the GM title at the age of 14 and is the youngest GM in the history of Italy and the US.


We have also found another grandmaster who has his own blog – Anish Giri. He is another chess prodigy who acheived his grandmaster rating at 14 years old (seems to be a trend here). The interesting thing to note in his Wikipedia profile is that he is largely self-coached. He also worked as a second for Magnus Carlsen to help him prepare for major tournaments.


If you poke around the 60 minutes website, you will find that they posted a historic interview with Bobby Fischer on their site as a companion piece to the Magnus Carlsen interview.

I’m sure nobody noticed it at the time, but with 20/20 hindsight, this interview is pretty disturbing. It’s clear that Fischer is a great chess player, but other more ominous aspects of his personality are also apparent in this piece.

Let us know what you think …

Have you ever wanted to think like a grand master? Check out the following profile of Magnus Carlsen as he explains the thoughts going through his mind while he is interviewed by Bob Simon. The video contains an amazing demonstration of Carlsen playing 10 simultaneous blindfold games.

Garry Kasparov the former world champion is close to agreeing to terms to play a simul in Suffern. The negotiations were a long and arduous process which occurred over many months.

How did this come to pass? Sometimes truth is indeed stranger than fiction. (Or fiction is a lot like truth).

One of the Suffern chess club’s long-time members has links to Russia. In fact, before his grandfather came over on the boat in 1909, he was part of his parent’s long time wine and cheese business. The Vinokur Vintners were partners with the Kasllerikov Brothers and had a monopoly on the market. During that time, young Michael would help deliver milk to Garry Kasparov’s parents in the old country.

Garry Kasparov

Image via Wikipedia

Fast forward 70 years. In 1979, Michael ran into Garry Kasparov’s parents in midtown Manhattan. They were in town accompanying Garry as he was publicizing his upcoming world championship match. They had such a good time reminiscing that they agreed to come up to his house in Westchester and meet the family.

At the time our club member was only 13 years old, but he thoroughly impressed Kasparov and they have stayed in touch ever since. After meeting up with Kasparov, young Louis agreed that Garry’s manager Sidd Finch said it best:

“He’s a player, part yogi and part recluse. Impressively liberated from our opulent life-style, deciding about yoga — and furthering it boldly.”

Now, in 2011, Garry has agreed to fly out to the US on the Russian version of the Concorde SST to spend a few hours in Suffern. Like all grandmasters, Kasparov has his quirks and to satisfy his requirements, the simul will be run under the following conditions:

  1. A maximum of 75 players will be allowed to compete in the simul.
  2. Entrants must have a minimum USCF rating of 1600 or be able to prove that they have had at least 20 hours of instruction from a chess teacher with a rating of 2200 or higher.
  3. All clocks must be placed on Garry’s left-hand side and tilted at a 4 degree angle towards the champion.
  4. Time controls will be Game 21, with a 12 second increment.
  5. To avoid any fouls, all players must agree to move their pieces and touch the clock with their left hand only.
  6. To reinforce the above rule, players will be required to sit on their right hand and will incur a 5 minute penalty if they violate this stipulation.
  7. Only 1 bathroom break will be allowed for each player. When leaving for their break, players will be accompanied to the bathroom by a tournament director.
  8. Entrants to the tournament must pay a $10 entry fee, and agree to purchase a copy of his book My Great Predecessors for $45 on or $25 for a Kindle friendly version
  9. All people present at the event must sign an affidavit that they will never become a member of the Communist Party or aid and abet in any fundraising for party candidates.
  10. The Towns of Suffern, Montebello, and Airmont must agree to rename their main streets “Garry Kasparov Way”

Most of the above conditions have already been met. The last sticking point is getting the towns to agree to add a real estate tax surcharge of $100 per resident to satisfy his appearance fee of $25,000. Though some fear a taxpayer revolt, it is our opinion that the documentary film will help offset the costs and will have great potential to win a prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

We will add a new post once the final negotiations are complete. Be sure to circle your calendars and save the date. With luck, Garry will visit Suffern to compete in the simul on 4/31/11.

Here’s a You Tube video from the illusionist Derren Brown. See if you can figure out how he went toe to toe during a simul with 9 top British players.

If you’re interested in some serious videos on opening theory, check out our Analysis/Games section.

The world championship match between Anand and Topalov starts next Friday in Sofia Bulgeria.  The highly anticipated match will be played in a two and a half week timespan in late April to mid May.  A prize fund of 2 million Euros is at stake.  The winner will receive 1.8 million Euros and the loser will receive 800,000 Euros.

A total of 12 games will be played at traditional time controls of 120 minutes for 40 moves, then 60 minutes for an additional 20 moves, followed by 15 minutes + a 30 second increment for the remainder of the match.  If the match is not decided over the course of standard play, then a series of tiebreaks will be held.  First, four games of Game 25 with a 10 second increment will be played.  If they are still tied, a series of Five 2 game blitz matches will be held under a time control of Game 5 with a 3 second increment.

If they are still tied, then a final odds match will be played with 5 minutes for White vs. 4 minutes for Black.  White must obtain a victory, while Black wins with a victory or a draw.

Tune into the following website to review the results –