Chris Stychinsky and John Wright faced each other in the second round. I talked about their game one encounter already. In this post we are taking a closer look at their second game.
Chris seems to have moved on from his swashbuckling opening repertoire and played the Ruy Lopez against John’s 1 … e5. I can only recommend to follow in Chris’ footsteps. Playing complex openings such as the Ruy Lopez exposes us to a variety of pawn structures and strategic ideas. In the long run this will make us better chess players.
John countered Chris’ Ruy with the Zaitsev variation—the battle ground of Karpov and Kasparov in the 80s. The positions arising from this opening are often wild, black players seek their fortune of the queenside and white players try to deliver a quick checkmate. However, before launching queenside operations black puts pressure on e4 to slow down white’s queen’s knight attempt to join kingside operation.
The knight manoeuvre I’m referring to was introduced by Steinitz and is commonly used in Ruy Lopez and Gioucco Piano positions.
The best square for the knight on b1 would be f5. It gets there via d2, f1, and g3 and there is very little black can do in this particular situation. Also note, white only advanced the d-pawn to d3 and e4 is under firm control here.
We are now ready to have a look at the game:
Now would be a good time for a black strategy reset. The accidental pawn sacrifice offered white some hope to seize the initiative. Black’s main priority should be to thwart all of white’s active attempts. White enjoys some open diagonals and lines thanks to dropping a pawn. The white bishops are in good positions and both knights are already on the kingside and ready to move to more active squares. Thanks to white’s unfortunate pawn loss black already won the battle on the queenside. There is not much left to fight for.
Stay tuned for part two of the knight move series. I will talk about my game with Randy. Here is a little preview:
Mikhael Tal quipped “You must take your opponent into a deep dark forest where 2+2=5, and the path leading out is only wide enough for one.”
This round we saw a number of games in which white invited black into the deep dark forest by choosing a provocative opening. We were treated to the Trompowski, the Jobova and the “regular” London, as well as the Bird Opening.
David decided to go for a no-nonsense approach when confronted with the Trompowski
and went for 2. … e6 and didn’t face any problems.
Russel went for his trusted Jobava London again and was rewarded with a quick victory.
Arturo got a fantastic attacking position by starting with 1. f4. The Bird is generally considered to be somewhat dubious, Stockfish NNUE actually prefers the moves a3, a4, or h3 to 1. f4. But if things go white’s way it’s easy to see why people like this opening.
John and Chris picked established openings to fight their battles. Here is their King’s Indian/Benoni game.
Randy showed again his versatility in positions arising from 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6. This time he picked the Bogo-Indian Defense and equalized without too much trouble.
The other games played in round two can be found here.
The first round of a Swiss tournament is always special. The upper half of the field plays the lower half and the resulting pairings can be quite lopsided. Be that as it may, the rating favorites still need to win their games. And so they did, but some of the matches could have gone easily the other way.
On board one Arturo Armagnac with the black pieces completely outplayed yours truly. Arturo punished me for mishandling his Leningrad Dutch and was rewarded with the following position:
White’s position is pretty hopeless here. After 22 … b5 white will perish. (Un-)Fortunately, Arturo took on d5 and allowed counterplay on the b1-h7 diagonal.
On board two David Faulkner put up a good fight against John Wright. A Caro Kann yielded the following situation:
The bishop on b2 looks pretty sad. David had the chance here to transfer the bishop to the g1-a7 diagonal. Once the bishop appears on e3 black needs to watch out for sacrifices on b6. 26. Bc1 would have given white the upper hand.
On board three Russel Keating faced Randy Hough. Russel stayed faithful to his Jobova London and could have wiped the black pieces off the board:
Randy just played 15. … e5 hoping for 16. dxe5 Nxe5 which would solve all of black’s problems and this is what happened in the game. Can you spot how white could have punished black for opening up the position while being far behind in development? (You find the solution at the end of the post.)
When you saw this post you might have wondered why I picked a picture of an old Latin book. This book is actually a chess book from 1500 (give or take a couple of decades) and one of the openings it discusses features in our game of the week played on board four between Chris Stychinsky and Patric van Haeren, a truly epic battle.
It’s not too late to join us for round 2 this Friday.
This is a private tournament and it is password protected. After clicking join a pop-up window will appear and ask for a password. The password is
On the tournament site you will also be able to see all the rules. It’s a 2h arena tournament. After your game you are paired as quickly as possible, so no need to wait too long, games are G5+5. The winner is whoever collects most points at the end of the 2h period. A win yields 2 points, a draw 1 point and a loss 0 points. While on a winning streak the points are doubled. In addition to this rule which we know from chess.com already. Players also have the option to go Berserk at the beginning of the game. This reduces their time to half of the initial time and the player also won’t get any time increment. In return a win yields an extra point.
Now, head over to lichess and sign up for the team and tournament:
We managed to play 56 games in our first online event. I’m very pleased that we got to see some very interesting fighting chess. The lower rated players certainly made their higher rated opponents work for every half point. I certainly got lucky more than once.
Below you can find some of the interesting positions that occured. You can find the solutions to the questions and more here on lichess.
Black took command of the position. What’s the best way to proceed?
In the next game black got a very good position out of the opening unfortunately the tide turned and we reached this position:
How should white proceede?
After a tough struggle we reach the following position. White to move and win:
White didn’t go for the kill in the previous position and a few moves later we reach this point:
Can black escape his fate?
In my game against Raphael I got a better position but suddenly we reached this position:
Raphael just played Qd4 threatening everything. Should white resign?
I just took a pawn on e4
Which knight should black take? Or should he play something different all together
There were many more interesting games played in this tournament. If you want to see one of your games published here please let me know. For more analysis head over to lichess. Once there become a member if you aren’t already and join our San Gabriel Valley Chess Club lichess team.
You can also play through the complete annotated games here.
Don’t forget next Friday we will have a 2h Arena blitz tournament on lichess. More on this soon.
Last night we played the 5th and final round of our first online Swiss. Each round the opponents faced each other in two games one with each color and a time control of G25 and a 10 second increment. Most of the games were played on chess.com the rest was played on Lichess.
Here are the final standings:
Our second 5 round double Swiss will start on September 18th. Rounds will start Friday nights at 7.10 pm and the tournament will be held at https://lichess.org. More details will be posted soon.
On Friday, September 11th, we will have a 2h G5+5 event on lichess. If you haven’t already done so, join our lichess team:
The First Organizational Meeting of the San Gabriel Valley Chess Club was held Monday June 15th, 2020. The purpose of the meeting was to organize the club and determine how it will run, as well as other administrative matters such as the appointment of officers and Corporate Bylaws. The agenda included the appointment of SGVCC Corporate Officers, the approval of Organizational Bylaws and the appointment of a banking institution.
The Club’s primary purpose is the development and broadening of the game of chess as recreation, art, and as a significant element of culture in Southern California. This purpose will be accomplished by providing a physical location where people can play chess together and share in their enjoyment of the game of chess. Activities to promote this purpose shall include the organization of rated chess tournaments, casual play, and free instruction for those new to the game.
Club membership is open without discrimination to all members of the public who complete a valid application and pay annual dues.
The Board of Directors may appoint committees comprised of Club members in good standing who are not otherwise Board Officers. Such committees will present recommendations to the Board in writing and these recommendations may be adopted by a majority vote of the Board. To volunteer for a committee, please express your interest via the contact form on this site.
To submit suggestions, recommendations and ideas, please use contact any Board Member. The club will hold an Annual Meeting (TBD) and notice will be given to all members at least 30-days prior to such meeting.Other meetings may be held at the Board’s discretion as necessary to conduct Club affairs.
Any member interested in receiving a copy of the Club Bylaws may request a copy via the contact form on this site. You may also send an email to:
Volunteers are needed for 1-2 hours per week to assist with club duties. This includes the setup and management of club tournaments, assisting with occasional website and e-mail updates, reporting tournament results and other club matters. The club is also seeking submissions of original chess photography and article submissions on Chess960 and Arena Blitz for use on the club website.
Chess.com has Privacy settings, including “Safe Mode” which prevents social interactions and disables chat, messages and comments. But for parents and members who desire an even safer online experience, we have created the ChessKids scholastic group for members at: https://www.chesskid.com/club/home/san-gabriel-valley-chess-club. There is no contact with strangers and parents can manage their child’s access and friendships online plus monitor all of their activity. If we have members at ChessKids who want to play Chess.com members, then the Chess.com member will need to join the ChessKids Club.
We also want you to know that if you find yourself unable (or advised not to) go out of your house, you have a support network here for you. If you need groceries or medicine or supplies, even if “it’s not that big a deal”, please consider this an offer. We have several members who don’t mind driving, especially since it’s a nice drive and the traffic is sooo light nowadays.
Really, if you need help, this is an opportunity for us, not a burden.
Even if you already have a support network, many club members have reached out to be another node on that network. More to the point, maybe there are other chess players that momentarily are not as well-connected, especially for those over the age of 65+. So although we might not know who you are, connect with us and let us know. We want to get the message out.
If you need something straightforward and you’re not sure who to call, we can help you. We have members in Glendale, Pasadena, San Marino, Arcadia, Monrovia and surrounding areas who can assist. Even if you never use it, know that you can contact us and get help when you need it.
In the meantime, join our email newsletter and find us on Chess.com (and ChessKids.com). We will be hosting a Live tournament if enough members join.
To slow the spread of coronavirus, the club has decided to temporarily suspended operations until the end of March and will re-evaluate the timing of our next event based on guidance from state, local and federal authorities.
All Americans are asked to avoid non-essential social gatherings of 10 or more people, as well as any discretionary travel or social visits for a minimum of 15 days. Please join our email newsletter to be notified of our next event.
Today the Los Angeles County Department of Health is recommending the public avoid non-essential travel and gatherings in public spaces, particularly among people that they don’t know. Event organizers are being asked to postpone or cancel gatherings of 250 people or more. Events of less than 250 people are advised to implement a social distance between people of six feet. People who fall into vulnerable categories are advised to avoid gatherings of 10 or more people. Social distancing is the tool being used to slow the spread of novel coronavirus, and the LA Department of Health supports the actions and the executive order issued by the governor and State of California.
The Sierra-Madre YMCA has been approved by the State of California as an all-day childcare center and will remain open.
As of Friday, March 13th, there was one confirmed case of COVID-19 in Pasadena, and 40 confirmed cases in Los Angeles County.
At the Sierra-Madre YMCA, everything continues to run normally. Membership and Program Coordinator Darlene Nolan said “We have ramped up our cleaning schedule and made hand sanitizer more easily available,” adding that SGV Chess will be notified if anything changes.
The Sierra Madre Open Tournament continues this Friday, March 13th. Check-in at 6:30p, Rounds begin at 7pm.
The club has arranged a way for tournament games to be conducted online. If you are at a higher risk of severe illness, or have had any type of cough or fever within the last 14 days, please send your request for remote accommodation to:
Published March 6th 2020: The San Gabriel Valley Chess Club has been closely monitoring reports of a novel (new) coronavirus and confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Los Angeles County area and worldwide. The club is following guidance and policy documents from the California Department of Health, the Los Angeles County Department of Health, and the Centers of Disease Control (CDC). As of Friday, March 6, risk to the general public in California and Los Angeles County remains low. Los Angeles County health officials report there is no immediate threat to the general public and no special precautions are required.
We will be following FIDE health advisory protocol for the remainder of the tournament.
The following measures will be put in place:
Avoid handshakes and other close personal contact with fellow club members and other persons present. Instead of handshakes before your game, just greet politely and show respect to your opponent. You may say ‘good evening’ at the start of your game.
Rubbing alcohol and cotton wipes will be provided to wipe down chess pieces. Please request these supplies at the check-in desk.
You may request a ‘bye’ or have your games rated online. Contact us with your request.
Disinfectant soap and hot water will be made available. We encourage all members to bring their own hand sanitizer, if available, since local stores are out of stock.
Wash your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds with soap & hot water before arriving at the YMCA and after you check-in for your game, and after you complete your games.
The Sierra Madre Open Tournament is on. Second round continues Friday, March 6th, with check-in at 6:30p and tournament clocks at 7pm.
Stay home if you feel ill or have a fever.
If you want to stay home and conduct your tournament game online, please send a request to
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF AGAINST CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)
1. Wash your hands frequently Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub eliminates the virus if it is on your hands.
2. Practice respiratory hygiene When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – discard tissue immediately into a closed bin and clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
3. Avoid handshakes, hugs, kisses on the cheek and other close personal contacts with fellow conference attendees and other persons present Why? COVID-19 is spread via coming into contact with infected droplets.
4. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth Hands touch many surfaces that can be contaminated with the virus. If you touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your contaminated hands, you can transfer the virus from the surface to yourself. These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses.
5. If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, stay home and contact your health provider. Evidence suggests that like the flu, most people will have mild symptoms and should stay home until 24 hours after fever. Certain people should call their doctor early, including the elderly, those with compromised immune systems and those with underlying medical problems. If you are having difficulty breathing or keeping fluids down, go to an emergency room or call 911, otherwise it is better to call your doctor before going in to seek care.
At this time, the risk to the general public remains low. Los Angeles County residents, students, workers, and visitors are encouraged to engage in their regular activities and practice good public health hygiene.