Archive for the ‘CHESS’ Category

Too long… too long – without a post!

February 6, 2010

Ok, here is the deal…

I have been busy calling and emailing the parents of my chess students, I have been setting up websites for my individual clubs and I have been working on lessons.  So I have been real busy – lame excuse I know!

I am looking to put some more “content” on this site ASAP – so stay tuned!

– Chess Coach Sean Tobin.



January 25, 2010

These were the photos from the start of round four this morning – Sunday the 24th – shot from 9AM till about 9:30AM.  Then I had to leave the tournament site to meet my teaching commitments as a chess coach back in Phoenix Arizona.  Quite the event – next year I shall play!  – Coach Sean.

TUCSON OPEN PHOTOS: Days 1 & 2 – Friday and Saturday.

January 24, 2010

SIMULIZE! My 15 Board Simultaneous Exhibition Chess Match 1/19/2010

January 19, 2010

Some pictures from the 15 board chess simultaneous that I gave today – please notice that no chess clocks were in use during this event.  However each player had very little time – maybe ten minutes or fifteen minutes maximum so I had to checkmate them quickly!  This event was a lot of fun – the largest Simul I have given so far this year with my own personal best being over twenty chess boards.

If you want to achieve anything in life then it is up to you!

As it is at the chess board so it is in the great adventure that is life! - Coach Sean.

Before the storm breaks…
Object of the game?  As many checkmates as possible!

Attack of the Scholastic players - the wave comes crashing down!

The chess board is my shield...

The battle rages on!

You need track shoes for Simuls!

As soon as I defeat a youngster - 10 more want to take his/her place!

I played a lot of kids today!

"At the end of the game, the king and the pawn go into the same box".

"At the end of the game, the king and the pawn go into the same box".


January 19, 2010

Dionisio – Ready to rumble.

First wave of Simul opponents Thus starts the day long Simul

12 Board SimulDionisio – with energy!

Joel Johnson in the background.Joel waits for a more opportune moment.

Cody Vorhees - helped Dionisio get to the event site and handled Spanish language translations when necessary.Most improved player – Cody!

3 from EmporiumOnly three Emporium Coaches showed up…

Dionisio finds the going getting tough – time waits for no man!

One of the three – Good spirits as always!

Second wave attack commences.

“It is not enough to stand and stare…” – Pink Floyd

Why wouldn’t you play?  It was a free lesson from Dionisio!  Actually the fellows in the picture up above who are watching the Simul did play earlier on – as part of the first wave attack.  But there were plenty of other people who did not – which, in my opinion, was a shame really.  A missed opportunity for a good lesson and a missed opportunity to play one of the top two players in Arizona.

Final Score +33 -8.

Dionisio took a big hit on his USCF rating and thus I would propose fairer conditions for him in any such future engagements.  I have to be honest – I didn’t even know that his was rated until I got to the event.  I have never heard of anyone giving a rated USCF Simul – Susan Polgar most certainly did not when I played her – and I immediately got a bad feeling about this.

A good test of fairness for players of Dionisio’s caliber is this:  Would Garry K undertake such a challenge?  The answer is most certainly no – under no circumstances or conditions would former World Champion Garry Kasparov agree to play Game in 30 minutes against 12 opponents at the same time – and then allow others to jump in as opponents were eliminated.  In fact for most of Garry’s simultaneous displays he stipulated and forced potential particiapents to contractually agree upon the rule that no players would be allowed to participate that were rated above 2000!  In fact in the final years of his life Bobby Fischer made fun of Kasparov for this – even though Fischer was afraid to play anyone!  Kasparov did undertake special Simuls – such as his amazing win against the Israeli National Chess Team but this was with much longer time controls and did not feature as many opponents as Dionisio faced this past Sunday – which finally numbered at 41 by the end of the night.

I applaud Joel Johnson’s pulling this event off as it was a brilliant idea.  It was a jolly good show for all who came across the scene – one man playing many and with chess clocks.  I watched reactions on the faces of shoppers to the scene as they would come across it and I can tell you that their facial expressions betrayed their amazement.  This was quite a good event but can be improved upon for future editions – and should be.  Hopefully next time it will be a G45 or G60 time control for both sides and – as was amended on site for this first edition of this event – there should be breaks for Dionisio, or whomever is giving the simul be it Joel or anyone else, between success waves of players.  Perhaps even raise the entry fee to $10 to make up for the longer time control?

Congrats to Joel and Dionisio – it was quite the show!  – Coach Sean Tobin.

DIONISIO ALDAMA – Cuba’s loss is Arizona’s Gain!

January 17, 2010

For those of you not in the know Dionisio Aldama is the second highest rated player in Arizona – as of this writing.  He is probably as strong as most Grandmasters are – minus the G and the M in front of his name.  During the final round of the most recent edition of the weekly Adult Friday Night Action Chess Tournament Dionisio took the measure of all of his opponents and then firmly seized them by their chess minds and then violently twisted the chess life out of his opponents!  I usually stay well away from such metaphors but this is literally – in a chess sense – what Dionisio did.

The Friday night action is held at the Chess Emporium every week and is at least four rounds long.  It was this humble chess blogger’s honor to bear witness to an extremely exciting game as it was in progress – Dionisio’s Queen Sac game – and then also to see another fine work of art produced by this extremely strong player – one Dionisio Aldama.  I have posted a Chess Puzzle position taken from the second game mentioned – the Queen Sac Game I am saving for a Club lesson!

As an added bonus for the evenings celebration of chess I got to watch Dionisio analyze with the Chess Emporium’s very own Joe Lafornara.  His most recent loss – his fourth round loss to an extremely strong expert (2150-ish) was what was on offer for the evenings amusements.  As Joe astutely pointed out what takes work for 99.9 percent of all players in the world comes with ease for Dionisio Aldama – and usually with a smile upon his face when he sees the winning line.  If you want the “Free” lessons from Dionisio then leave your ego at home and come play him during the Friday Night Action tournament that starts at 7 PM every Friday night.  Arrive early so you can register for this fine event – and seating is limited during some editions of this event as their are also Super Group and Private lessons being given.  The Chess Emporium is at times like a big chess hive – with lots of activity.

If you are looking for another opportunity to play Dionisio then this Sunday – the 17th of January – he will be giving a 12 board clock Simul at the Paradise Mall Borders.  The fun starts at 2PM and continues until around 8PM that evening and the entry fee is $5.00 – paid to the man with a plan – Dionisio Aldama.  You will have 30 minutes to match wits with one of the nations top players – and he will have only 30 minutes to move back and forth from board to board as he gives lessons to one and all takers.  This is a benefit to help support one of our strongest players – so be there or be square!

To warm up for the clock Simultaneous Exhibition Chess Match this Sunday here is a tactic from one of Dionisio’s games.  This one didn’t last long – he takes the heart of a 2150 rated player in 16 moves!  In fact when I played over the game I had to sit there for a minute or two before it dawned on my why the player of the white pieces was resigning his game.  Enjoy this little gem of a combination! – Coach Sean.




As Sherlock Holmes might say “Elementary, my dear Dr Watson”

But as all chess players know – the devil of a combination is hidden in all of those chess board details!

See you Sunday – Coach Sean Tobin.

HERE COMES SPRING SEMESTER for 2010 – Ready or not!

January 7, 2010

I prefer to be ready!

As a Chess Coach I have to get ready for the start of every Semester – and this Semester I intend to do a lot with my students!  Some of my students have taken first place in various ASCF events and are looking to be on track for Nationals should they be allowed to play there.  Other students are ready to “promote” and have done very well competitively too.  One of my schools really did extremely well winning many team and individual trophies last Semester.  So I am very excited to see what we can achieve with our next edition of Chess Club at that school and I am very pumped about getting to work with all of my kiddos again.

Last night I spent about 6 hours sending out emails to various Parents and working on my other projects.  Earlier in the day I had a Chess at Lunch to do and then I had some errands to run so it was a fairly busy and productive day yesterday.  I am still way behind in getting my various projects done though!  Time to get some work done.

– Coach Sean.


January 5, 2010


If you want to keep up to date on the Chess World then there is one website you HAVE to pay attention to – Mark Crowther’s THE WEEK IN CHESS or TWIC for short.  You can access this outstanding website by visiting them here:

Mark does an excellent job of keeping every one informed about the present state of the chess world.  There is no doubt that with Mark on the job plus all of his friends and fellow chess fans from all around the world that you can find out about any major event as it is happening.  His reporting is extremely good and the website he has built is the best one out there – in my opinion.


The last two rounds were heavily draw ridden affairs – with only Zoltan Almasi showing us the chess fans – just how badly he really wants to win this event.  His outstanding score of +5 and =3 for the first 8 rounds is quite the amazing achievement but there is one last hurdle for him in this event – his game against Gata Kamsky in the final round being held tomorrow.   If Zoltan can steer the game towards a stable position – one from which a draw is guaranteed – then he has every right to expect victory in this event.  Should he fail to master his nerves and should he be outplayed – then it will be Kamsky that steals the show from him in the final round.

Kamsky is in second place alone on 5.5 points which puts him a full point ahead of his nearest pursuers Fabiano Caruana and Michele Godena.  A win in tomorrow’s game would allow him to catch Zoltan and thus take first place on tie-breaks.  Zoltan only has to draw this game to win the event outright.  A win would be quite the exclamation mark for the final round of the 2009/2010 edition of Reggio Emilia for Mr. Zoltan Almasi and would certainly gain him a lot more recognition.  He is already a famous player but such a tournament win would help catch the interest of tournament organizers all over the world.

Kamsky is in a win-win situation.  If he wins the big game tomorrow then he wins the tournament and picks up another nice first place finish.  If he draws he takes second place alone.  If he losses tomorrow’s game then he is either alone or in a tie for second place – depending upon the outcome of the other games for Caruana and Godena.  If he is tied with one or two other players then his fate may depend upon the great barrier reef of competitive chess – the tie-breakers.  No matter what happens though he should approach tomorrow’s game with a determined yet risk free spirit plus an ultra competitive attitude.  In short he should be able to play his best without worry.  He is already guaranteed second place – but to rise up to the challenge and to snatch first place from the other player who held onto it for the last several rounds would be his own very powerful exclamation mark.  His score as of round 8 is +3 and =5.

My prediction for tomorrows game?  Kamsky will play for a win and will have to settle for a draw.  So the outcome looks to be most certainly a draw but I have been wrong about these things before and hope to be again!  Zoltan deserves to win this event after having played very hard throughout the entirety of this tournament.  But Kamsky is no less deserving and has a chance to impress all tomorrow with some gutsy play or to stick to the “script” and to help in crowning Zoltan as the 2009 Reggio Emilia Champion.  What has yet to be determined is whether or not Gata Kamsky will be a passive spectator or an aggressive opponent for Zoltan tomorrow.



brought to you






One move – just that simple.





Again a “quiet” move, but one that has violent intentions behind it!

25 EXPERT POINTS if you find one of the Checkmates!

Enjoy – Coach Sean Tobin.

KAMSKY SHARES THE LEAD – ROUND 6 REGGIO EMILIA 2009/2010: Kamsky versus Brunello = MOVE by MOVE with Diagrams!

January 3, 2010

Gata Kamksy won another interesting “vision” and endgame battle today against Sabino Brunello – which is the topic of today’s posting!  Today’s round featured 5 outstanding games – 4 of which were played in the true spirit of competitiveness – where both players were willing and ready to fight for the full point.   Only one game was disappointing in this respect.  But 4 out of 5 isn’t bad at all!



It is not my intention to discuss the opening of this game as any database or opening book can be consulted.  Not that I am uninterested in the opening – the discussion of this phase of the game is just outside the scope of this posting.  Based upon the number of diagrams I have included in this posting means that any more would have been quite a bit too much on the eyes!  I am much more interested in the early middle game and the endgame phases of this extremely interesting battle.

[Event “52nd It”][Site “Reggio Emilia ITA”][Date “2010.01.03”]
[Round “6”][White “Brunello, S.”][Black “Kamsky, G.”]
[Result “0-1”][ECO “E60”][PlyCount “98”][EventDate “2009.12.28”]
[White Elo “2507”][Black Elo “2695”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. g3 Bg7 4. Bg2 O-O 5. Nf3 c6 6. Nc3 d5 7. cxd5 cxd5 8. Ne5
e6 9. O-O Nfd7 10. f4 Nc6

(Board 1 : A well known position to fans of Anatoly Karpov.  These closed variations of the Grunfeld tend to be rather drawish – but not today!  Sabino Brunello deserves full credit for going “all in” against Kamsky in this highly instructive game from round 6 of Reggio Emilia 2009/2010.  Even if he was “outplayed” into it!)

11. Be3 Nb6 12. Bf2 Ne7 13. a4 a5 14. Rc1 Bd7 15. Nxd7 Qxd7

(Board 2: Kamsky has developed his forces much more efficiently during the opening negotiations of this game.  I would also rather have the “Knight pair” in such closed positions as well.  Compared to White’s Bishop pair I see a very bright future for Kamsky’s cavalry – unless of course the position becomes somewhat murky.)

16. Qb3 Nc4 17. Rfd1 Nf5 18. Ne4 Rac8 19. Nc5 Qe7 20. e3 b6

(The “big moment” of this game!  In true “Karpovian style” Gata has gripped the squares very nicely with his pieces – in particular notice how both Knight co-ordinate nicely now.  All of Kamsky’s pieces are posted really well – as opposed to their counter parts in the White army.  Sabino really has no choice here – he actually HAS to go all in with the exchange sacrifice or else he is just losing material and with it, more than likely in the long run, the game.  Get ready to hold onto your seats because you are in for the chess ride of your life now!  This is the starting point in the game where I would really like to begin taking a much deeper look at what is actually going on.)



Sabino tries to muddy the waters!

21. Rxc4

This is forced and I suppose that Sabino was thinking along these lines when he took this action – If I do not do this exchange sacrifice then I will just be squeezed to death by Kamsky’s better positioned pieces/troops.  If I do not do the exchange sac then I will be losing material and in the long run the game.

If I do the exchange sac I will have a very nicely posted Knight on c5, I will eliminate one of Kamsky’s most active pieces – the annoying Knight on c4, I will be able to open up the position by moving the central pawns and uncovering an attack against the Queenside – my Bishops will command an open board and I will have a passed pawn on the Queenside as well.  I will get some pawns while countering Kamksy – and his Bishop on g7* is out of play once I block off the a1-h8 diagonal with pawns.

ON THE FLIP SIDE : Kamsky will get open lines for his Rooks, His King is much safer and he will be able to activate his pieces much more quickly than his opponent – Brunello – because Sabino’s plan will take quite a while to carry out.  In the process of trying to open up the position for his, Sabino Brunello’s, Bishop Pair Kamsky will be able to create additional weaknesses in the enemy position.  Two of these weaknesses are going to be the long white a8 – h1 diagonal and the not so well defended 1st rank.

21. …dxc4

“In for a penny, in for a pound” – As the Brits would put it!

22. Qxb6

Quite the struggle now!

*Please note that BOTH dark squared Bishops are rather poorly placed!  Black’s on g7 will not strike down anything along it’s diagonal while the White dark squared Bishop is a big pawn!

22. …Rb8

Kamsky now activates his Rook along the b-file.  This will be a very important – his Rooks need to gain access to the weakened back rank.  This is actually an extremely important event during this game – as the effects will be rather long term.

23. Qxa5

Brunello creates the passed a-pawn, something to try and distract Kamsky with.  It doesn’t quite work out that way in the game though.

23. …Rxb2 24. Bf1

The White pieces still seem awkwardly placed… but Sabino has to activate them and the only way to do this is to start using the diagonals on the Queen-side.  However this will create weaknesses as the King will now have diagonals that lead to him open up as well.  Kamsky will still be able to use the diagonals – he has his Queen and his dark squared “Indian” Bishop* – which needs to be activated ASAP.

24. …Nd6

Black moves the Knight to hold onto the c4-pawn while further enhancing his b-file options.  The e4-square is now contested as well.

25. Qc3

This move allows Sabino to attack the c4-pawn a second time while clearing the way for the a-pawn to run down the a-file.  The “Loose” Rook is also attacked.

25. …Rfb8

Kamsky now has a road down which his rooks may travel – job one will be to control the b-file and then to exchange off the lone White Rook thus weakening the back rank.  Remember – if you can double your Rooks on a file or Rank then you should do so.  The doubled Rooks are extremely powerful as they can protect each other.

26. e4

Several ideas behind this move – drive away the Black Knight on d6 and to shut down the a1-h8 diagonal.  Kamsky already has an idea about how to reactivate his dark squared Bishop.  Kamsky is looking at all of his options and while some of them are subtle Kamsky does an excellent job of making them readily apparent.

26. …Qa7

An interesting idea – putting the Queen into a pin to create counter threats!  If Sabino isn’t careful he could lose his Bishop on f2 and wind up getting checkmated in short order.  The Black Queen also exerts power along all lines which she looks down on that side of the board.

27. e5

Another charming feature of Kamsky’s last move is that it anticipated this e5 push.  The dark Squared Bishop is now going to be activated along the f8-a3 diagonal… despite Sabino’s best efforts to sideline this piece.

27. …Nf5

This Knight can dance back on over from f5 to e7 and will be able to reinforce control over the d5 square.

Sabino would not want to play the g4 pawn push – attacking the Knight on f5 – as this will further weaken the White King-side.  However this may have been a better strategy as the long term prospects on the Queen-side may not be enough to give serious counter chances.  Also in light of the fact that the diagonals leading to the White King will become extremely drafty in any event.



28. Bxc4

White’s trumps: Activated pieces and a passed white a-pawn.  It is also interesting to note that the material count is event – two pawns and a Knight for a Rook.

White’s problems: Weak back rank issues and diagonals that are opening up – for the Black Pieces.  Fixed pawns and drafty squares around the White King – a Monarch who will find no truly safe haven.  I would call these organic weaknesses.

28. …Bf8

Rerouting the Bishop along another diagonal – seeking more gainful employment else where on the chess board.

29. Nd3

While this move looks to save the extremely useful Knight it unfortunately helps Kamsky to invade down the b-file and to weaken the back rank by exchanging off the lone White Rook.  This Knight was the piece that was holding the White Position together – now that it has been threatened and has retreated the position begins to alter significantly.

29. …Rb1

No need for commentary – Gata Kamsky is just following his plan by playing the “only” move that makes sense in the position.

30. Rxb1

30. …Rxb1+

Now the 1st Rank is weakened.  What is Brunello to do?  The position around his King is drafty and his pieces do not co-ordinate effectively because of the pawn structure – the very same pawn structure that is now in the way of his pieces and that does not protect squares around the White Monarch.

31. Kg2 Qa8+ 32. d5 Ne7

Now the organic weaknesses in Brenello’s position are apparent.  The weak long diagonal and the weak back rank – all lines lead to a weakened area around the White King.  The attempt at blocking off the diagonal with the pawn push fails because of the additional attacker who jumps into the fray – our good Knight who hops from f5 to e7.

33. Nc5 Nxd5 34. Qf3 Bxc5 35. Bxc5 Qc6 36. Bxd5

Another interesting moment in the game.  Should Kamsky recapture the Bishop on c5 or the one on d5?  This is critical – which capture offers Kamsky the greatest chance of victory in this game.  To capture the White squared Bishop means that the a-pawn will fall quite quickly – but leaving the dark squared Bishop on means that the drafty dark squares around the Black Monarch may become targeted.



36. …Qxc5

Now it is time to take stock:

White still has his passed a-pawn but is down an exchange and has a very vulnerable and weak King.

Kamsky has two pieces that can combine nicely against the White King – his Rook and Queen.  The passed a-pawn is going no where and the Black King is the much safer of the two Monarchs.  Kamsky can create threats easily with his Queen and Rook as the Queen can opperate along diagonals and Ranks.  Brunello’s Queen is tied to defense – of the Bishop and of the King.  This fact means that Kamsky can over work these pieces and create unstoppable threats against the vulnerable White King.



37. Be4

37. …Qg1+

That weak back rank – it never went away as an issue during this game!  It was there for the long term.

38. Kh3

As they say in the Yugoslav publication “CHESS INFORMANT”, BOX!  This means “only move” – and this is usually never a good sign if we are forced to play such moves during our games.  If our options are running thin then we are losing the game – remember Chess is about control of the squares or the space if you like – and if you have to play only moves then you have lost control on the board.

38. …Rb2

Threatening a not so subtle checkmate!  For example 39. a5?? Qxh2 + 40. Kg4 Qh5 + +

39. Qh1


Let us Keep the Queens on – as well as the pressure against the White Monarch!

39. …Qf2

40. Qg2

Hoping to exchange off the White Queen and then to post the Bishop on c6 thus protecting the far passed pawn.  This would still be a somewhat rather grim game but would offer greater cheapo chances.

40. …Qd4

41. Qf3


41. …Qxa4

That a4-pawn will not be distracting Kamsky from his objective now – going after the White King.

42. Qd3

White is running short of squares down which to run with his pieces.  That sort of thing will happen when you are always on the defensive and you have a material deficit.

42. …Qa5

Protecting the d8 square and getting ready to swing the Rook to d2 thus centralizing the tower.  Centralization is always desirable – we should aim for such control in our own games.

43. Bc6

Interesting piece the Bishop.  When trying to deliver a checkmate with Queen and Bishop it is usually the case that this is a somewhat clumsy partnership as the two pieces both operate along the diagonals.  They end up tripping over each other in that they have a move in common with each other.  Whereas having a Queen and Knight is typically – in most positions – a more desirable pairing allowing for easier checkmating possibilities.

Rooks can be and are sometimes rather clumsy pieces themselves but are an advantage in endgames when battling against our opponent’s Bishop.  Very often last rites are to be delivered to the side with the Bishop – with pawns being even.  As always we chess players have to watch out for those devilish details as positions do differ in their important features.

Because of the pawn structures in this game the Queen and Rook are far superior to the Queen and Bishop.  It is just a matter of time before the White King is executed.  Already here Kamsky begins to think about using the Rook and the Queen to continue controlling key Ranks and files but to also allow the Queen to a very important diagonal.  One which Sabino Brunello will be unable to defend forever.

43. …Rd2

The Rook is now officially centralized!

44. Qc4

I am sure that Sabino was hoping that Kamsky would allow some miracle save – perhaps his Queen and Bishop gaining access to the f7 square and allowing a cheapo checkmate.  This is no more realistic than hoping for a meteor to come crashing down on Gata’s head!

44. …Qb6

Controlling the d8 square still and again thinking about the f2 or g1 squares.

45. Bg2??

Clumsy piece that Bishop!  With the weakened King and nothing to attack this Bishop is just shifting back and forth dreaming of gainful employment.  Notice that both the Black Queen and the Black Rook are moving along the dark squares now!  The color of the squares are very important!!

45. …Qb2

The b2-square was also being eyed up by the Black Queen!  Now the Bishop is pinned to the h2 pawn and thus tied down for good.

46. Qe4

Nothing to be done but to wait for the inevitable!  Passive defense will always lose against an inventive attacker who pays attention to the squares.

46. …h5

Now the h-pawn joins in on the attack!  By controlling the g4 square this pawn ties down the White King and his loyal pawn subjects even further.  Less and less options for Sabino Brunello’s pieces and more control for Gata Kamsky.

47. Qa8+

Spite check time – equivalent to throwing in the towel.

47. …Kg7

Safe and sound.

48. Qe4

Back again to whence the Queen came from.

48. …Re2

Now it is ok for the Rook to move onto the White Squares!  The Rook attacks the White Queen driving her away from defense of the f5 square – which is a place the Black Queen would very much like to visit.  Also notice that the Bishop on g2 is still unable to move away as then Rxh2 will win the day for Kamsky.

49. Qa8

49. …Qc2 Brunello Resigned. 0-1

The threat of …Qf5 convinced Sabino Brunello to capitulate.  Attempting to avoid this threat only accelerates defeat but does not greatly delay the inevitable.  Both Rook and Queen control the square e4 thus allowing the Black Queen to jump up to f5 with devastating effects.

Two example lines might run

1.) 49. Qa8 Qc2 50. g4 Re3 + 51. Bf3 Qf2 wins it all.

2.) 49. Qa8 Qc2 50. Qc6 Qf5+ 51. Kh4 Qg4 + +

I hope you all have enjoyed this game at least half as much as I have! – Coach Sean Tobin.


January 3, 2010





Grand Finale.

Tricky Endgame

A good game from word go!


Photos from the most recent meeting of the PIONEER VALLEY CHESS CLUB which meets in Northampton Massachusetts at the King Street Burger King every Saturday from 6 PM till CLOSE.  Or when the B.K. closes – which ever comes first!  Feel free to visit this community chess club if you are ever in Northampton.  – Coach Sean.