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How good were you as a 6 years old?

Not sure about you dear reader, but at 6 years old I was just an amateur beginner. My mom would beat me at chess senseless with a few opening traps she knew and to this day she is the one opponent I have the most lopsided losing score against; of course that is a result of her retiring the minute I took it more seriously and learned all her tricks. Here I would like to show you what is needed today to stand a chance at succeeding in junior chess. The position comes from a Golden Knights B28 club game between 6 years old Ethan and 13 years old Coco; the game was postponed for a while and when played it ended that tournament. Enjoy the combination!

[Event "Golden Knights B28 tournament"][Site "Burnaby, BC"][Date "2016.06.23"][Round "8"][White "Song, Ethan"][Black "Ruan, Coco"][Result "1-0"][SetUp "1"][FEN "rn2k1r1/p4p2/1p1p1Bpp/4p3/2P1N3/6P1/PP2PP1P/R4RK1 b q - 0 1"]{White has winning material advantage and black walks right into what follows; still that does not diminish one bit the mating trap white sets up} 1...Kd7 {the d6-pawn is doomed anyway; better is Na6 to free up Ra8} 2.Rad1 Ke6 {that is one brave King taking alone on all white pieces} 3.Rxd6+ Kf5 4.f3! {fascinating mating idea for a 6 years old} Na6 {too late} 5.e3 ({Option 1:} 5.Bg5 hxg5 Rf6#)({Option 2:} 5.g4+ Kf4 6.Kf2 {and e2-e3# at the next move}) 5. g5 6.Bxg5! {Ethan saw it anyway} hxg5 7.Rf6# 1-0

Susan Polgar Foundation Girls’ Invitational 2016 - BC Championship

The first edition of this important tournament saw some very eager participants fighting for the 1st place bringing them the BC title and qualification to the continental final in St. Louis. I have selected an interesting position from each round and put together a nice and very representative chess selection of 5 replayable puzzles. It provides a glimpse of where we are at and how much we still need to go as players, teachers and coaches. Enjoy the selection!

[Event "SPFGI BC 2016"][Site "Burnaby"][Date "2016.04.03"][Round "1"][White "Van, Anna"][Black "Ruan, Coco"][Result "1-0"][SetUp "1"][FEN "4rrk1/2q4p/1p2b1p1/pP1pNpb1/P1nP4/8/3N1PPP/B1RQR1K1 b - - 0 1"]{Coco, one of our club representatives, held her own quite well when facing her more experienced opponent and here she had a very good chance to get ahead}1...Bxd2 2.Qxd2 Nxd2?! {Not the best}  (2...Qxe5!? 3.Rxc4 Qxe1+ 4.Qxe1 dxc4 {of course it is hard to expect girls to play so wild}) 3.Rxc7 Nb3?? {Coco did not realize this traps her Knight} 4.Bc3 {white won with ease from here on} 1-0<br />
[Event "SPFGI BC 2016"][Site "Burnaby"][Date "2016.04.03"][Round "2"][White "Yang, Bo Wen (Angelina)"][Black "Seyfi, Agata"][Result "0-1"][SetUp "1"][FEN "6k1/p1R2p1p/b5p1/3rp3/8/1P2K1N1/P4PPP/8 b - - 0 1"]1...f5 {The obvious threat is f5-f4+ and fork; however black had a much nastier surprise if white was not careful} 2.Ne2?? {Sometimes you cannot see the forest for the trees...} Rd3# 0-1<br />
[Event "SPFGI BC 2016"][Site "Burnaby"][Date "2016.04.03"][Round "3"][White "Bains, Shya"][Black "Shan, Lyvia"][Result "0-1"][SetUp "1"][SetUp "1"][FEN "rq6/pp6/2n1k1p1/5b2/2Npn2r/P2R4/1PP2PP1/5RK1 w - - 0 1"]{Two girls at their first official tournament learned a few important lessons along the way} 1.Rf3?? {Lesson = long moves are always deadly} Qh2# 0-1<br />
[Event "SPFGI BC 2016"][Site "Burnaby"][Date "2016.04.03"][Round "4"][White "Van, Anna"][Black "Seyfi, Agata"][Result "1/2-1/2"][SetUp "1"][FEN "8/p6p/5K2/6P1/6k1/8/P7/8 w - - 0 1"]{This was an important game for both players} 1.g6 hxg6 2.Kxg6 Kf4 {this looks like a simple draw if white knows the simple strategy it needs to apply: go directly to the a1-corner} 3.Kf6 Ke4 4.Ke6 Kd4 5.Kd6 Kc4 6.Kc6 {white seems not to know the strategy required here and now black has an incredible chance to score an important win} a5 7.a3?? Kb3?? {Oh my! That misses the win}  (7...a4! {black wins the a3-pawn and promotes because the white King is too far}) 8.Kb6 Ka4?? {Oh my! This misses the win again} (8...a4 {the same comment: black wins the a3-pawn and promotes because the white King is too far}) 9.Ka6 {now we have a draw, result not helping either player} 1/2-1/2<br />
[Event "SPFGI BC 2016"][Site "Burnaby"][Date "2016.04.03"][Round "5"][White "Tian, Shi Yuan (Sherry)"][Black "Van, Anna"][Result "1-0"][SetUp "1"][FEN "5k2/1p5p/1p2P3/5p2/1PK5/P6P/6P1/8 b - - 0 1"]{Our Champion annotates the endgame which brought her the title. "This position is winning for white in many ways: 1) White has a better King position 2) Black has too many weak pawns 3) White has a strong passed pawn that black needs to stop and capture before doing anything else. This takes time thought 4) Once the double b-pawns are gone, white will be ahead of the race to Queen (promote) because black's isolated pawns will take an extreme amount of time to become passed themselves"}1...Ke7 2.Kd5 Ke8 {at least black knows how to hold the opposition} 3.Kd6 Kd8 4.e7+ Ke8 5.Kc7 Kxe7 6.Kxb6 Ke6 7.Kxb7 {this is now an easy win for white. White needs 5 moves to promote, while black needs no less than 8}

Golden Knights Alumni Invitational 2016

Life keeps us busy day after day like a perpetuum mobile as time flies implacable into the past. It feels like yesterday our alumni were learning their chess ABC and in no time our current students will be in their shoes. Getting together with Alex and Stefan is always both nostalgic and fun; it makes us (Andrei, Radu and I) proud of how far they have come and the opportunities awaiting for them! We hope to find the time to play such tournaments more often and have other alumni join. The bond between us all has remained as strong as always and in the end this is what really connects us like a life line from past, to present and future. The results are not as important when you have fun; for the record here is the final standings for our double round robin with Andrei serving as TD.

GOLDEN KNIGHTS ALUMNI 2016
1. WFM Alexandra Botez 4.5
2. CM Valer Eugen Demian 4.0
3. NM Radu Laurentiu Roua 2.0
4. Stefan Trandafir 1.5

The most spectacular game was produced by the young generation; click on the title (or "Read more") to reach it. Hope you will enjoy it as much as we did!

How to beat a GM

The 16 years old IM Benjamin Glendura (HUN) showed us recently how to beat a great GM and former World Champion like Anand. It is no secret a strong knowledge of endgames gives you an advantage; is it enough though? Benjamin was put on the spot by Anand when the GM chose the King and pawns endgame instead of a Bishop versus Knight one to finish their game. He succeeded with flying colors! I find the resulting endgame very educational and inspirational. It gives us hope to beat stronger players and even GMs if we can master the endgames. Now you know the secret too; easy peasy, eh? :-)

The complete game analysis is done here:
http://en.chessbase.com/post/gibraltar-07-anand-loses-anton-leads

[Event "Gibraltar Masters 2016"][Site "Gibraltar"][Date "2016.01.26"][Round "7.14"][White "Glendura, Benjamin"][Black "Anand, Viswanathan"][Result "1-0"][SetUp "1"][FEN "8/1p1k1pp1/pb6/2NK3p/8/1P5P/P4PP1/8 b - - 0 36"][ECO "D45"]{Anand is the only one knowing why he decided to play this exchange} 36... Bxc5 {a possible explanation is he thought the King and pawns endgame gave him more chances to save the game} ({Andre Schulz, Chessbase wrote after the game}36...Kc7 37.Ne4 Kd7 38.Nd6 Bxf2 39.Nxb7 {is very unpleasant for Black}) 37.Kxc5 {Andre Schulz, Chessbase: "however, the pawn-ending is also lost for Black"} 37... Kc7 {The key position! Black could hold on if the f7- and b6- pawns together with their King could lock down and not move anymore. That means black needs enough tempo moves, as well as to stop the white pawns from challenging b6 and f7. There is no chance on the Queen side since white has minimum 4 possible pawn moves. On the King side both players have 5 possible pawn moves now, so probably these ones will cancel each other out. The verdict: white has sufficient pawn moves available on the Queen side to break down the defence and win} 38.h4 Kd7 {loses faster by about 4 moves} ({Example of how the King side settles and the Queen side collapses:} 38...g6 39.g3 f6 40.f3 g5 41.f4 gxh4 42.gxh4 Kd7 43.Kb6 1-0) 39.Kb6 Kc8 40.b4 {begins to use the available pawn moves to tighten the noose and break the opposition} Kb8 41.f3 Kc8 42.g4 hxg4 43.fxg4 Kb8 44.h5 f6 {forced or white wins with 45. g5 followed by 46. h6} 45.a4 Kc8 ({In case of} 45... Ka8 46.Kc7 {would win the King side pawns and the game}) 46.Ka7 Kc7 47.b5 a5 ({hoping for a last minute mistake} 47... a5 48.b6+?? Kc6 0-1) 48.Ka8

In Memoriam WGM Elisabeta Polihroniade (Romania)

WGM Polihroniade (Lili for her close friends) has passed away on Jan 23rd, 2016 at the respectable age of 80. She was, is and will remain forever one of the greatest chess promoters Romania has gifted the World with. During her impressive career as a chess player she won 7 national titles and represented Romania in 10 Olympiads. She was also a highly respected International Arbiter. During her latter years she put all her energy into promoting chess for children and chess in schools. Romania's chess roots have received back invaluable guidance and wisdom from one of the country chess icons. May you rest in peace Lili! You will live forever in our minds; when we say chess, we remember your legacy too. This is arguably one of the most memorable wins (personal selection) of her chess career.

[Event "Cup World (open)"][Site "Palma de Majorca (Spain)"][Date "1989.??.??"][White "Elisabeta Polihroniade"][Black "Leonid A Shamkovich"][Result "1-0"][ECO "B43"] 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Nc3 Qc7 6.f4 Nc6 7.Be2 d6 8.Be3 Nf6 9.Qd2 Be7 10.O-O-O O-O 11.g4 {So far a Sicilian Kan line still played today} d5 {this has not been played anymore since 2004; however at the time this move was supposed to equalize} 12.exd5 Nxd5 13.Nxd5 exd5 {the Isolated Queen Pawn or IQP should help in the middle game if the files and diagonals around it are clear and controlled by the attacking side; in my opinion black does not have it here and stands worst} 14.Nb3 Bd6 15.Kb1 Ne7 {black is looking for a better position for its pieces and needs to defend the IQP. It is not good; better was 15... Re8 or 15... a5} 16.h4 h5 17.Rhg1 hxg4 18.Bxg4 Bxg4 19.Rxg4 {white is in attacking position first and it does not look too complicated to put it together: doubling the Rooks along the g-file, Bd4 and pushing the h4-pawn is quite simple to see} Nf5 20.Rdg1 Rfe8? {I believe black is already lost here} (20...Kh8 21.Qd3 g6 22.Bd4+ Nxd4 23.Qxd4+ Kh7 24.h5 g5 25.Rxg5) 21.Nd4 Qd7 22.Nxf5 Qxf5 23.Rxg7+ Kf8 24.R7g5 Qe4 25.f5 (25.Bd4 f6 26.Rg8+ Ke7 27.Rxe8+ Rxe8 28.Re1) Ke7 26.f6+ Ke6 (26...Kd7 27.Rxd5 Qxe3 28.Rxd6+ Kc7 29.Rd7+ Kb8 30.Qxe3 Rxe3 31.Rxf7) 27.R5g4 (27.Re1) 27...Qf3 28.Bd4 (28.Rd4) 28...Kd7 29.Rg7 Re2 30.Qa5 Qe4 31.Bc3 {the game ended here with white's win; however it is not clear what happens after: 31... Qxc2+ 32.Ka1 Kc6 {threatens a nasty b7-b6, trapping Qa5} 33.Bd4 Bc7 34.Qc3+ Qxc3 35.Bxc3 {it is hard to believe black could have reached this position...}