Archive for December, 2009


December 31, 2009

That was a fun event with over 14 people in attendance… time to start doing my exhibitions again!

– Chess Coach Sean Tobin.



December 31, 2009

Quite the fighting round today!  Caruana lost… and Kamsky was lucky in that his opponent only had enough steam in his attack to secure a perpetual check draw.  I have to admit even when the people I am cheering on end up losing I still find the competitive struggle to be both fascinating and exciting.  Caruana will be a much more dangerous opponent for the other players now that he has had this loss in round 3.

With 3 out of 5 games decisive today we have lowered the draw rate to below 50% – which is a good thing!  Interesting enough the only games that were won by players using the Black pieces were the three wins in round one.  Since then there have been 5 wins with the white pieces – 2 in round 2 and 3 in round 3.  Shall we see 4 wins in round 4?  Let us all hope so!




34. …Qd5 was a howler, why and how did Bologan take advantage of this move?





Kamsky’s 33. Qc1 was a mistake – Why?  If you can find this combination then you my friend win 200 Master points!

Enjoy the puzzles from the 52nd Edition of Reggio Emilia – Chess Coach Sean.


December 31, 2009

SWISS-SYS is Thad Suits chess Pairings program – that makes the lives of TDs a lot easier.

SWISS-SYS is the best pairings program that I have found!  Terrific software – I was totally lost without it too.  About a month back my computer crashed – I got hit by a really bad virus – and I lost my copy of Swiss-Sys.  But just with an email to the ever helpful Thad Suits solved all of my problems and I am back in business running my own events.  I fully intend to upgrade my copy to the newest version available during 2010.

What do I use SWISS-SYS for?  I run tournaments at my chess clubs – to give my players some variety as opposed to always playing Ladder or practice games.  I also run USCF Swiss style chess tournaments and non-USCF events as well and this is by far the best software that I have found.

If you are looking to run some tournaments in 2010 then this is the software for you, hands down.

– Chess Coach Sean Tobin.

Want to play a better Endgame? Then read ENDGAME VIRTUOSO ANATOLY KARPOV by TIBOR KAROLYI!

December 30, 2009


Of the second edition that is… with 105 games and many improvements over the first edition which is pictured down below.

One of my gifts for Christmas was a Gift Card to Barnes and Noble – which is something Coach Sean loves to receive! Getting to pick my own books – that makes this chess coach VERY happy! Today I picked up the second edition of “ENDGAME VIRTUOSO ANATOLY KARPOV” by Tibor Karolyi and Nick Aplin. This book is a work of love…

Tibor looks at 105 COMPLETE Karpov games with a special emphasis on duh, you guessed it, the Endgames. But wait, there is more! In the annotations to these games there are game fragments and studies to help illustrate some of the points being made or to show how the same technique can be applied in a slightly different context. Amazing!

The variations given are to the point and you should spend time going over every comment and every line given in this book. There is even a classification of endgame types given at the back of the book for those students interested in targeting in on a particular endgame theme. One thing lacking in this book though is a listing of the games by opening which could have been relevant for those students trying to look at how particular opening pawn structures effect the endgame play in specific openings. One is left to one’s own devices to sort this out on our own but for those of us who like convenience it would have been nice to have this appendix available. Of course size constraints on the work – placed upon our talented author – may have factored in as far as this was concerned. My laziness aside this book is amazing…

This book came out in 2007 and is put out by New in Chess publishers – a source of very many good books on chess. Not to mention NEW IN CHESS MAGAZINE which, in my opinion, is the BEST CHESS MAGAZINE being published now in the entire world.

This book is a work that one could get lost in – for life. The lessons in this book could certainly last a lifetime and I do not intend to give up my copy – EVER! If you can get your hands on this book and if you really and truly are interested in your own chess improvement and you are willing to work at it then this book is for you.

– Coach Sean Tobin.

P.S. The first edition is pictured up above – MAKE SURE YOU PICK UP THE SECOND EDITION! It will say it along the side of the front cover of the book just underneath the “His 105 Best Endgames”. Printed there will be the words “Second, improved edition”.

52nd REGGIO EMILIA ROUND 2= 12/29/2009

December 30, 2009

Kamsky drew today – I have to say I was a bit disappointed. Same went for Fabiano Caruana too – so a double serving of disappointment.  Even still though the draw percentage for this event is “only” at 50% as of today’s round two I would personally like to see it be even lower.  The more decisive games there are the better for the fans!  Two games were decisive today and it is from one of these games that I provide a “WHITE TO PLAY & WIN” problem for your enjoyment.

Bologan, Viktor

Jobava, Baadur



Time will tell what round three shall bring us all – the fans of high level chess!  Hopefully fewer draws and more wins and losses. – Chess Coach Sean Tobin.

WHITE TO PLAY & DRAW: Chess Puzzle for 12/29/2009

December 29, 2009

Problem featured in "BILGUER'S HANDBUCH DES SCHACHSPIELS" Leipzig, 1864


The Black pawn is one square from super stardom – becoming a Queen on the c1 square.  But White can draw this!  This is a problem created/crafted by E.B. Cook which originally appeared in “BILGUER’S HANDBUCH DES SCHCHSPIELS” from Leipzig, 1864 but I came across it in A.J. Roycroft’s TEST TUBE CHESS.  And now you get to  enjoy it!

– Chess Coach Sean Tobin.

52nd Reggio Emilia Tournament: KAMSKY OFF TO A GOOD START!

December 29, 2009

Kamsky is off to a good start at the 52nd edition of Reggio Emilia with a win in round one.

*Fabiano Caruana – Although he grew up in the states he is actually representing Italy so the American flag by his name is actually not the correct flag to be attached to his name – my chessbase was using older “player data” when I made this table.  Once upon a time I got a draw against young Caruna in a World Open Side event – long ago – when he was a little kid rated almost 2000 USCF!

Interestingly enough all three decisive games were won by the player with the Black pieces – always a good sign for each of these players!  Now if they can just “cash in” their games with the White pieces…   Down below you will find the results from round one.

[Event “52nd It”][Site “Reggio Emilia ITA”][Date “2009.12.28”][Round “1”]
[White “Vocaturo, D.”][Black “Kamsky, G.”][Result “0-1”][ECO “B42”]
[White Elo “2500”][Black Elo “2695”][Ply Count “100”][Event Date “2009.12.28”]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Bd3 Ne7 {Paulsen variation of the Sicilian Defense – a more positional or strategical treatment as opposed to some other highly aggressive and tactical variation – like let us say the Najdorf Sicilian.} 6. O-O Ng6 7. Kh1 Bc5 8. Nb3 Ba7 9. f4 Nc6 10. Qe2 O-O 11. Be3 d6 12. N1d2 Re8 13. a4 Qc7 14. c3 Bd7 15. Bxa7 Nxa7 16. g3 Rad8 17. h4

Exchanging off the dark Squared Bishop seems a little off to me and White’s 17. h4 seems quite a bit too loosening.  Risky for sure against a solid player like Kamsky – who in this position has the safer King.

17.  …Nf8 18. Kh2 Nc8 19. a5 Re7 20. Nf3 e5 21. f5 d5 22. Nfd2 dxe4 23. Nxe4 f6 24. g4 Bc6 25. g5

The V-man has gone all in against Kamsky – so I give him full credit for his aggressive intentions.  However playing over this game leaves one with the impression that Kamsky saw many moves further ahead of his adversary.  Kamsky’s endgame is phenomenal too so you really do need to be able to see what will happen very far off in the “distance” against Gata.  Even after his long lay off this is one aspect of his game that has not gotten weak.  The only chink in Gata’s armor is his opening repertoire right now and the more he plays the tighter this facet of his game will become.

25. …Nd7 26. Rad1 Kh8 27. Rd2 Ree8 28. Rfd1 Ne7 29. Qg4 Nd5 30. Rg1 Rf8 31. Rg3 Nf4 32. Bc2 Bxe4 33. Bxe4 fxg5 34. hxg5 Nc5 35. Rxd8 Rxd8 36. Nxc5 Qxc5 37. Qf3 Qxa5 38. Rg1 Qb6 39. b4 Rd2+ 40. Kh1 Qd8 41. Bb1 Ne2 42. f6 Nxg1 43. fxg7+ Kxg7 44. Qf5 Nf3 45. Qxh7+ Kf8 46. Qh8+ Ke7 47. Qf6+ Kd7 48. Qxf3 Kc7 49. Be4 Qxg5 50. Bxb7 Qh4+ 0-1

Clearly a game all about “depth of calculation” – Kamsky just saw much further into the possibilities than did his opponent.  Of course this is only round one and the rest of the tournament yet remains.  The two players I would like to see battle it out for first in this event are Kamsky and Caruana.  I would prefer Kamsky over Caruana – not that I have anything against Fabiano.  It is just that I have been following Kamsky for quite a while now and would like to see him get back into the World Championship mix and a good result in this fine Italian tournament would be a good step forward, in that direction, for him.


Here lines like 51. Kg1 Qe1 + 52. Qf1 Qxf1 + 53. Kxf1 Kxb7 just leaves Kamsky up a whole Rook with a totally won endgame.  In such an overwhelming position checkmate does not loom far off so Mr. Vocaturo threw in the towel.

For excellent coverage of this event please visit:________________

_____or visit the organizers website at:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::——>

I don’t know about you but I am most certainly looking forward to round two!  Go Kamsky and Caruana!!

– Coach Sean Tobin.

PUZZLE for 12/28/2009

December 28, 2009


A puzzle from my past…

I first got to see this puzzle 14 years ago… and I just happened upon it again last night!  I am happy to share this puzzle with you now – so have fun solving it!

– Chess Coach Sean.

Beginning at the Beginning… Welcome!

December 27, 2009

Hello everyone and welcome to my newest project!

I just wanted to share my “chess world” with any and all interested persons out there who may or may not find something of a particular interest for them on any given day.  I will be posting information about what it is like to be a Scholastic Chess Coach working with young people, what it is like to work in the different school communities that I service, interesting Chess Puzzles for my students and friends, my tournament games,  coverage and commentary plus annotations to top level games and my general comments on the state of the Chess World.  If any of this sounds even somewhat remotely interesting to you then please, by all means, do take just but a little time to read on.

After an absence of several years I came back to Western Massachusetts for the Holidays and paid a visit to my local chess club – The Pioneer Valley Chess Club – the club that I had founded back in 1993.  When I had moved from Western Massachusetts back in 2003 I had left the club and it’s promotion to some of the club members who were heavily involved in the club and it’s activities.  Some of these people stepped up to the plate and did an excellent job – Tom Smith, David Hall and Enrique McDonald.  Some of my chess friends have come and gone over time but the club still remains a constant feature of the local community as the years come and go.

One interesting thing that I do have to address is that I founded the club and we began our first meetings over at the Florence Community Center for a short while in the late Summer of 1993 and then we immediately moved over to VFW Post 8006 in Florence Massachusetts.  After several years the club moved all about throughout the Valley – at various times we met at A2Z Science Store and then even at the Hampshire Mall.  We finally ended up meeting at the FORBES LIBRARY and then immediately following the Noon till 4 PM meeting time slot there we would then resume our meeting over at the BURGER KING on King Street in Northampton.  The club still meets at these two locations till this very day though not throughout the year at Forbes.   It was these Saturday meetings, held in two different locations, that were very popular when I departed Western Massachusetts in 2003.

During this ten year span of time I had tried very hard to popularize the game of chess and to promote my club at every opportunity possible.   Not to grind an axe or anything but my efforts were not always successful as I had to contend with some of the personalities of the local Western Mass Chess Community that give the chess world such a bad name.  Here is one example that is still fresh in my mind…  one year I had even put together an inter club chess league which fell apart because of interference from David Lees, Marvin Fluharty and some nuckle head from Pittsfield Mass who wanted the league to mean different things and wanted to run it THEIR way – after I had done all the “leg work” and had helped to bring my project from the realm of ideas into the real world .  So of course some of these self important chess characters of Western Mass decided to hijack my project!  That was when I backed out of it, denying them support from my club the PVCC, and the league survived only one year and then fell totally apart.  That is what happens when people without a work ethic try to hijack someone else’s brain child.  If they don’t have the vision to conceive of it those kinds of people very rarely have the stamina to see such projects through.  Later on a kind of inter club team league was born – years later – and the PVCC won first place in some editions of those events.

My interest in Chess really is reflected in the History of the PVCC – and my commitment to help provide other members of my local community with a place that they can all meet and play chess.  It really was and is a kind of “grass roots” chess activism.  To my mind this had only been correctly acknowledged by the local media once and only once.  After the first few months of the club being in operation there was a front page feature in the NORTHAMPTON GAZETTE on the club and it’s members.  One of my favorite photos from this article was of John Duscharme looking at a chess board with the chess battle reflected in his reading glasses – it was a shot of his face as he sat at the board deep in contemplation.  It was quite the picture and I still have several copies of the article till this very day.  Which is a good thing too… as after I had departed the area in 2003 some neophyte reporter did a “creative story” on the PVCC and gave Tom Smith credit for founding the club.  Apparently this reporter injected a little “Michael Faye” creative license into their “work” and invented a History for the Chess Club that was, needless to say, incorrect.  The really funny thing is that this person could have found out quite a bit about the club had they even searched their own News archive on the club – you think an Editor might catch that one too but such was not the case.  Sadly these days the level of reporting that goes on in local newspapers is negligible to say the least.  I was rather shocked to see how slim and content free the Northampton Gazette has become over time – it is little better than a large page pamphlet.  I would have loved to have done a weekly chess article for the paper back in the day but now I don’t think any one really reads this Newspaper – except for some who may subscribe to it out of force of habit because of the bygone era of print news.

So what did I find at the most recent meeting of the PIONEER VALLEY CHESS CLUB on the day after Christmas 2009?  Believe it or not five other chess aficionados turned up to play chess that night.  Enrique McDonald, David Hall, Antonio Laudati, and two fellows from further afield Eric Strickland and David.  I did not catch David’s last name unfortunately.  It was a nice convivial meeting and it made me very happy to think that this club that I had founded is still serving it’s purpose – providing various members of the community with a place to meet – supported by a local business or organization – where they can share their interest with other chess enthusiasts and enjoy the company of their friends without the atomizing effects of our Consumer Culture obliterating their sense of self or community.  I do hope that the club will be much more representative of Northampton but that yet may happen.  It has happened before… and it is not fair to judge the club based upon it’s meetings during the Holiday stretch.

Did I get to play any chess?  Yep… I got to play David Hall in some Blitz games as well as Antonio Laudati and a fellow from Vermont – Eric Strickland.  Out of 15 blitz games I only erred once giving up a perpetual draw – one that I could have easily sidestepped but due to moving in haste I had failed to avoid.  I set myself the task of playing each player 5 games and every time I would win I would subtract a minute from my clock so that they next game would be a time odds game.

How did I do?  Against David I won all five games though I should have lost the game at 5 – 3.  I had blundered away two pieces leaving me with a Rook and some pawns against David Hall’s Rook, two Bishops and his pawns.  In our game I was still totally lost even after David had blundered away his Rook.  He had two connected passed pawns on the Queen’s side of the board and the two Bishops.  I only had my Rook… but with one second left on my clock I nailed David with a file mate!  I eventually got David down to 5 – 1 and won that game with one minute against his 5 minutes!  Quite  feat as David is a solid B-player these days.

My next opponent was C-player Antonio Laudati and again I won all five of my games.  In the final game I was lost – utterly and hopelessly lost.  But in Blitz Chess you not only play against your opponent – the person sitting across from you – but it is a race against time.  Again with one second remaining on my clock, as Antonio was getting ready to deliver checkmate he ran out of time.  So I went 5 – 0 against Antonio who has really worked on his openings quite a bit.

My final opponent for the evening was Eric Strickland – who is also a solid B-player weighing in at 1754 USCF standard.  I played him but made a error in our second game when I had 4 minutes versus his 5.  I allowed him a perpetual check in a total won position.  Needles to say I was not happy about giving up this draw!  So in the next game – which remained at the time odds time control of 4 minutes to his 5 minutes I ended up winning.  Then I won a 3 – 5 and a time odds game at 2 – 5.  I had failed my personal goal of getting to five wins and achieving the 5th at one minute versus five minutes against Eric.  But not bad all in all – I had scored 14.5 points out of 15 games!  Quite a nice score actually!!

Based upon the three players that I did get to meet in OTB I have to say that the level of chess has risen a bit in Western Massachusetts – even while a lot of the stronger players have come and gone.  Where were the Ed Borowskis, Larry Williamses and Nick Tavareses of yester year?  Players come and go but I am still glad to see some players still improving on their game while being active in their local chess club.  It makes me happy to know that community activities such as chess club meetings are not now a days relegated to books – that they can and actually still do happen, that people do want and seek each other out to enjoy their mutual interests.  That was my aim in creating the PVCC and I am happy to see that the PVCC is still fulfilling those needs.

Happy New Years Everyone!  – Chess Coach Sean.