I Was Able to Play a Game in St. Louis

Friday I was hanging around the Chess Club & Scholastic Center of St. Louis with my friend Glenn Panner when the opportunity to schedule a game against one of the local kids came up.

One of the Junior SPICE members, Ben, was sitting at a rating of 1995.  His mother was trying to find a game for him in hopes that he could get over 2000 and get that pressure off of him.

I agreed to play him Saturday night at the club when nothing else was going on.  The conditions were perfect since the club has amazing lighting and we were playing with an elegant wood set on one of the beautiful chess tables the club has.  (Side note – I once looked up those tables and they cost almost $5000 each…though I’m sure if you buy them in bulk as the club does you probably get a discount!)

The agreed time control was G/90+30 and Ben and I wound up having the entire second floor of the club to ourselves.  The only spectators were a friend of Ben who came to look at the game and WGM Anna Sharevich who took a look at the position and then went back downstairs to give her evaluation to Ben’s mother who was curious.  Anna’s eval…totally even.

The only other interruption was equal parts amusing and annoying.  The closing ceremony for the Sinquefield Cup was taking place across the street at the same time and one of the guys from the tech crew came upstairs at one point to lower a needed cable to someone below.  He opened the window and then got into a relatively loud discussion with whomever he was lowering the cable to.  I don’t know what an “S loop” is, but it was something he clearly didn’t think was a good idea to have!

Luckily this only went on for a minute or two and didn’t seem to disturb Ben too much. It happened pretty much equally on my time vs. his.

As for the game itself, it was a hard fought battle until I blundered the exchange although the reason I did so is instructive in and of itself.

Here is the game in it’s entirety.  Thanks to Ben and his mother Stephanie for the opportunity to play this exciting game!  Also, congratulations to Ben who it looks like will be an expert once this is rated!

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

It’s That Time Once Again – Sinquefield Cup

Well, it’s time once again for my semi-annual pilgrimage to the Central West End of Saint Louis.

I more or less come here each year for both the US Championships and for the Sinquefield Cup.  I say more or less since I have missed one of each since 2013.

I sit here typing this having just gotten back from enjoying a nice sushi dinner at the Drunken Fish after watching Round Eight of the Cup, which is the first of the two I am here for.

For the US Championships I tend to come for the final three rounds, but for Sinquefield there’s a dance that needs to be done.  If you come for the final rounds you see the best action but if you come for the beginning you get to go to the autograph session where you can get stuff signed by all of the players.

I have boards signed by all participants from both the inaugural 2013 edition and the 2015 tournament as well.  Also, the picture I use for masthead of this site is from Sinquefield 2013.

Well this time the choice was easy and I decided to come for the final two rounds of the Cup, since two days later a rapid and blitz event starts and Garry Kasparov is coming out of retirement to play in that event.  It will be his first rated event in 12 years.

There will be an autograph session this Sunday featuring Kasparov so of course I decided to attend the final few rounds of the Cup so I can fit that autograph session in to my schedule!

So the plan as it sits now is:

Friday: Going to Webster in the morning.  Haven’t made it out the last couple of times I’ve been here to see Paul and Susan, so I’m making a point to go this time.

In the afternoon I’ll head back to catch the final round of the Cup.

Saturday: This is the true off day.  I’ll probably spend the first few hours of the day recovering from the Friday night after party.  After that it will be time to go for a long walk in Forest Park, and then try to finish an article I’m working on for Chess Life.

Sunday: Afternoon will be the autograph session.  I am really looking forward to getting a board signed by Garry Kasparov.  It’s hard to describe how excited I am about this.  Kasparov was my boyhood hero and I never would have ever thought that I would get a chance to watch him play since the Soviet Union was such a foreboding place.

Evening is the cocktail reception and press conference.  I originally tried to RSVP as media by virtue of my position as Associate Editor with American Chess Magazine and was denied as I was told it was invite only.  I was then invited by one of the players who I am friends with, only to then have the club contact me back and tell me that they will put me on the list as they are inviting all media who are requesting to go.

So either way I’m going, lol.

Monday will be day one of the rapid portion of the Rapid and Blitz.  I’ll be here for those rounds and then heading home afterwards.

So all in all a fun few days!  If YOU haven’t come to check out an event at the St. Louis Chess Club you have no one to blame but yourself!

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

MVL – So 1-0 To Start Sinquefield

The Sinquefield Cup kicked off today, and there were three winners right out of the gate with Aronian defeating Nepomniatchtchi, Karjakin taking advantage of a Svidler implosion, and the game I’m talking about here, which saw Wesley lose to MVL.

The game was the 6.a4 Italian, which seems to be surging in popularity these days.

In fact, at the Olympiad in 2016 Wesley won a very nice game in this same opening against Nepo.  That game went like this:

Perhaps fearing Maxime’s prep, Wesley chose to play 8…h6 instead of 8…Ba7.

Then, on his 40th move Wesley missed 40…Kf6 and instead put his king on d8 which saw the Frenchman quickly bring home the full point.

Hopefully the number of wins in this round sets the tone for the rest of the event.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

An Excellent Game to Learn From

Here is the game that I played Thursday.  I felt like the game was slightly better for me, but then I fell into a perpetual trap by my opponent.

The question when you fall into these sorts of things is “why?”  Answering that question is where improvement comes from.

With the exception of a handful of times, “you should have seen that” just doesn’t hold water.  There is a reason people don’t see things.

It’s easy to say “you study tactics, therefore you have no excuse” but the truth goes so much deeper than that.  Especially as all tactics are not created equally.

In this case I think it’s quite interesting and the answer seems to be that I still assume that all re-captures are just automatic.

Interestingly this is related to an issue I was having around five years ago when I was 1600 or so and had a tendency to miss in between moves all the time.  I was able to fix that with careful work, so now it would seem that I need to do that with this problem as well.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

Aesthetic Final Position

In studying some lines of the Breyer variation of the Ruy Lopez I came across this game played earlier this year.

Here is the final position which is quite beautiful:

While Black can stop the pawn with 42…Bc7 White will then convert with 43.d6+ Bxd6 44.Nxd6 and there’s no way to stop White from queening.

These are the kinds of positions that keep me fascinated with the game of chess.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

Wainscott – Williams 0-1

Here is last Thursday’s game.  As you can see there are many lessons to be taken from this one.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

Coons – Wainscott 1/2

Here is the game that I played yesterday in Round Three of the Southwest Chess Club Joe Crother’s Memorial Championship.

Heading in to this game I was content to draw since I manage to find ways to lose against Jim quite often.

The game wasn’t the most interesting, but I did say (and mean) after this game that going forward I will be working on mainline KID stuff.  No more sidelines for the time being.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

Box Scores Can Be Misleading

This past Thursday I played my second round game in the SWCC Joe Crothers Memorial Club Championship.

Looking at the box score you see that White beat Black and had a rating difference of +530 points.  So clearly the game was a walk in the park.

Well, not so fast. There’s a reason why we play the games, and if you look at this game you’ll see that my opponent played way above his rating for most of the game.

There are easily a couple of moments where I could have been held to a draw.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

Don’t Touch That Pawn

Here is another interesting position I was just looking at:

Here White has won a pawn out of the opening, but it looks like Black can now get it back with 14…Nxb6.

Instead, however, Black plays 14…Bd6.

In looking a bit deeper it turns out that after 14…Nxb6 White not only regains the pawn with 15.Bf4 Rc8 16.Rxb7, but now once Black retreats the knight with 16…Nd7 White turns up the heat with 17.Bc4 and although there is still a lot of play left in the position this seems pretty clearly a strategically won position.  Black has gone from down a pawn to down a pawn with a terrible position.

The lesson here is to always double check that “free” pawn.

Here is the entire game:

For anyone wondering, the answer is yes.  This “R Huebner” is in fact German legend Robert Huebner.  He continues to play on a semi-regular basis even into his late 60’s.  Mostly just a game or so every month or two, but nevertheless, kudos to him!

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott

The Power of the Bishop Pair

Every so often on chess.com I’ll read a post in the forums where someone is trying to claim that the bishop pair is meaningless.

Here is an excellent example of the bishop pair in action.  Look at this position through the eyes of, let’s say, an advanced novice (we’ll say rated around 1000) and the first thing that you probably see is that White is up a pawn and has “shattered” Black’s kingside pawns.

Yet Black makes the most of the bishop pair to steer this game to a draw.  Here is the entire game.  The position above is after Black’s 23rd move.

I’m sure there are thousands of flashier examples, but this one seems quite pragmatic.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott