This blog is about a wide range of topics, their common denominator being simply that I'm interested in them. My aim is to relieve my friends of my constant lecturing about such things as e.g. Chess, Football, Languages or Scandinavian Music ...

I appreciate readers' comments, no matter whether they are in English or German or any other language I'm finding myself able to understand.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Charly Records II

After Germany handed Argentina their backsides on a silver plate, the FIFA world cup has now entered its final week which inevitably means that there are days without football again. For reasons I cannot really explain, I wasn't too badly hung over on Sunday.

Therefore the conditions were perfect to work on our music again. Straycat, La Fleur and I thus invaded Charly's home studio again to record the female vocals for our stuff.

Right now I'm torturing my PC by creating innocent little videos for YouTube, and as of now only one video is online. The other four will follow tomorrow, unless my numbercruncher blows up, that is.

So here it is: The Journey of Dreams, very gothic (-:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Bring on ze Ingerlish

Yesterday I attended my first public viewing of a World Cup 2010 match as Germany overcame Ghana in a dramatic win-or-pack-up-your-stuff game. Downtown Frankfurt was tightly crowded with Germany supporters, and only a few Ghanaian flags sparsely distributed amongst them.

King Football has once again infected us, and this is where I really couldn't care less about chess. Unfortunately I have to, because as the captain of my chess team, I'm somehow responsible for fielding a team of four players next Sunday, 2pm CET, in Kassel, sort of 220 km away from Frankfurt. This is going to be the second round of the Hessian Cup, and the chances to reach the German Cup are not too bad actually, given the teams that are left in competition.

But how in hell am I going to find four players willing to do the job? Germany will play England in a cracking second round fixture and guess when. Next Sunday, 4pm CET, in Bloemfontein. I know I really don't want to play because I'm not going to tell my grandchildren that I had missed that because of a chess game. The problem is that most of my team mates think along the same lines...

I've really got no clue of how I am going to solve this. The most likely solution is finding some players who are not really interested in football, no matter what be their rating. It would be really sick if we had to forfeit because of a football match that everybody desperately wants to watch - what a bunch of lunatic tossers we football nerds are!

Anyway, let's see how this develops. And now it's time for the Battle Fever:
  1. Tommy go home!
  2. 1966 - no goal! Admit it!
  3. Achtung, surrender!
  4. Sod it, why did we miss that penalty against Serbia?
  5. 2:1 for England but the Macedonians didn't give up. They also had a good game plan: shooting whenever the goal comes into sight - because the English goalkeeper is David Seaman!
Ah, brilliant {-:

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Vade te facere in culum!

When learning a new language, it is said that you usually learn the most important swearwords first. Nevertheless I had to wait until just recently to learn some more serious French. This might well be due to the fact that language education in school doesn't really focus on this important aspect of language. Moreover, even though I regularly play in a French chess league, politeness towards my team mates prevented me from being too inquisitive.

"Salut copain, comment dit-on [insert-swearword] en français?" No, this is not the way either. Therefore, the insult (see image above) Nicolas Anelka allegedly uttered towards his team manager provided a welcome opportunity to learn something new. I even learned a bit more, because I stumbled upon the discovery that the translation offered by the German media appears to be flawed.

Consensus was that Anelka told Raymond Domenech, excuse my French, "to go and f*** himself in the a**". And as we check this with the help of a dictionary, we find that enculer quelqu'un indeed has a meaning comparable to the above.

Under the same link, however, we also find that the words reported to be Anelka's actually comprise the French equivalent of the Swabian Salute, which was immortally put into the mouth of Götz von Berlichingen by the patriarch of German literature. The link also shows that Mozart, too, was well aware of this locution. Understandably, his two canons dedicated to the Götz quote were only discovered post mortem. Well, Falco said Mozart was a punk, didn't he?

Back to Anelka. Of course, if you translate the phrase word-by-word, you arrive at the same conclusion as the German media. Also, Anelka's additional remark as to Domenech's mother being of negotiable affection is the straw that breaks the camel's back in any case. It is of no real consequence what the German media made of it, but I got an opportunity to come across educated.

A final word must be said about Raymond Domenech. After the early exit from the European Championship in 2008, he was Public Enemy No. 1 - and, let's face it: France did play horribly back then. But the complete farce his team pulled off this time actually makes me commiserate with him.

May he find consolation in the knowledge that tonight he will be over with it.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I am a positional chess player...

After a long break I have eventually found the time to post a new piece and it is a rather cracking one. You, dear reader, are about to see one of the most insane chess games I have ever played. Even though I would regard myself as a positional player, the title of this post is not without irony as I am also capable of conducting a sharp mating attack and I usually do not hesitate to sacrifice when the position at hand seems to require resolute action.

But what I have done in the last round of the Frankfurt Championship is without precendence in my chess career. Rudolf Spielmann or Mikhail Tal probably wouldn't have thought twice about my 8th move but for me it might have sufficed to just play on calmly and wait in open tournament specialist style until the ripe fruit falls into my lap at some point later.

But how could I have slept in peace if I hadn't played the way I did? First and foremost I'm not a professional but play chess as a pastime and who would not want to have a game such as the following on his or her record. So here is my own personal brilliancy:

Ramat Faqiry (1983) - Oliver Uwira (2248)

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. dxc5 White chickens out. He had a good reason to do so because one of my students beat him in a Benkö gambit at the Rhein-Main open tournament two weeks ago. 3...Na6 4. e3 Nxc5 5. Nf3 g6 6. b4?! White's 4th and 5th moves were a bit tame. It is therefore not advisable to loosen up his position at the cost of development. In addition, Black is prepared to bring his bishop to the long diagonal, which White has just opened. After the following move, the square f2 will also be an issue. 6...Nce4! 7. Bb2 Bg7 8.Nbd2? White would have been better off after 8.Nc3 Ng4 9.Nxe4 Bxb2 10.Rb1 Bg7, which costs him the bishop pair but otherwise keeps his position intact. Now the hammer falls:


At the small cost of a knight, White's king is sucked out into the great wide open. I had convinced myself that the worst that could happen for Black is having to play with rook and pawn against two minor pieces in case no mate presents itself. My feeling told me, though, that there must be a win along the road.

9. Kxf2 Ng4+ 10. Kg3 Qc7+ 11. Kxg4 d5+ 12. Kh4 Bxb2 13. g4

White's last move was forced as it is the only defense against the direct mate Bf6. 13. Nd4 does not work because of 13...Bxd4 14.exd4 Qf4+ with mate. I had seen that before, but now my plan was to open the h-file and hunt my material back. It is a pity that I haven't found 13...d4!! or 13...h5 14.g5 d4!! which would have set up the Qf4 mate idea once again, this time without sufficient defense for White.

After the text move, the game enters a new phase. Black will gain material compensation for his piece and the white king will remain vulnerable on g2.

13...g5+?! 14. Kh3 h5 15. Kg2 hxg4 16. Nd4 Now here is the crossroads. I had seen that White wouldn't have time to save his rook for quite a while, but now he is ready to do so. I was a bit worried about a white queen at a1 and also about a possible Nd4-b5 so I decided to eliminate that knight while grabbing another pawn, levelling the score, materially speaking. Rybka offers 16...Bxa1 17.Qxa1 Qe5 and claims a black advantage. However, the little fish is also content with my game continuation, which is actually its first choice. 16...Qe5! 17. Rb1 Bxd4 18. exd4 Qxd4 19. Qc2!

White wisely prevented the black bishop from showing up on f5, which would have led to rapid black mobilisation after castling queenside. Now Black faces the task of how to bring his bishop into play. If it were possible to put it on the long diagonal the game would end immediately. Rybka now suggests 19...Bd7 and if 20.b5 then 20...Rh3 with a decisive advantage for Black. My next move almost throws the entire advantage away, and if Black isn't prepared for really bold action, it actually does throw the advantage away.

19...dxc4?! 20. Bxc4 Bd7 21. b5 Rc8 22. Qb2

A very natural move and practically the move that turns the tide against Black. Now it was necessary to play the very bold 22...Rxc4!! which enables Black to give check on e4 with a winning position, in spite of Black being a rook down after that.

I have calculated that sacrifice but haven't found the quiet, but killing point 23.Nxc4 Qe4+ 24.Kg1 Rh3!!, which prepares g4-g3 with a decisive attack. The white pieces are simply helpless as they lack coordination and Black covers all important squares.

This is the second sore point of this otherwise very exciting game.

22...Qxb2?! 23. Rxb2 Bf5? 24. Rf1? Understandably I didn't want to shut in my bishop but now White could have seized the opportunity to close the c-file by means of 24.Bd5! b6 25.Bc6+ when it should be him who is playing for the win. 24...e6 25. Be2?! Rc3

White has lost the thread completely. After the arrival of the black rook in White's camp, Black has sufficient counterplay and his position is not worse any more. White must now play very accurately in order to hold.

26. b6 axb6 27. Rxb6 Rc2?! Better is 27...g3 28.hxg3 Bh3+ 29.Kf2 Bxf1 30.Nxf1 Rc7 and Black has very good winning chances. But I was concerned too much with not losing the game... 28. Bb5+ Kf8 29. Rd6 Rxa2 30. Rf2 Kg7 31. Bd3 Bxd3 32. Rxd3 Rb2 33. Rd7 Rf8 34. Ne4 Rxf2+ 35. Kxf2 Kg6 36. Rxb7 Rd8 37. Rb5 f5 38. Nc5?

White voluntarily allows his knight to be pinned, when the unpinning manoeuvre will leave his pieces badly coordinated.

38. Rd2+ 39. Kg1 Rd5 40. Ra5 f4 41. Nb7 41.Nb3 was better because it doesn't allow the black rook access to the second rank, as happened in the game. 41...Rd1+ 42. Kf2 Rd2+ 43. Kg1 f3 44. Ra6??

Now we're in the 15 minutes sudden death phase of the game, and it has become difficult to calculate accurately. With the blitz phase approaching, White plays a natural move that should have proved fatal. 44...Re2? I returned the favour. With 44...Rg2+ I could have won the h2-pawn under very favourable circumstances, as 45.Kh1? Rb2 wins the knight at b7 due to the backrank mate. After the knight returns back home, a win is much more difficult for Black. 45. Nc5 Kf5 46. Nd3 Rg2+ 47. Kh1??

White falls for the same trick again. After 47.Kf1 Rxh2 48.Ra5+ Ke4 49.Nf2+ Kf4 50.Ra4+ Kf5 51.Nxg4 Re2 52.Nh6+ Kg6 53.Ng4 e5 54.Ra3 e4 55.Ra5 White should be able to hold the draw. 47...Rd2 48. Ra5+ Kf6 0-1


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Light and Shadow

Two and a half weeks have passed since the final move had been played at the Hessian Chess Championship and I had to keep a very low profile because I had to pump up my brain with subject matter for the last university examination of my life.

Playing the tournament was therefore a rather risky business because not passing the examination would have implied an additional term until graduation. In spite of the limited preparation time, I have just walked away with a mark of 1.7 (i.e. B+ in Anglo-Saxon vicinities), which is an absolutely fantastic result. Now I'm sitting in the cafeteria, having a bottle of Victory beer, as is custom amongst students after examinations. Then I'll continue writing my next to last thesis, which should be finished within a month, followed by my final thesis and graduation by late autumn.

So this explains the first part of the title, but what about the Shadow? Well, after having led the league by one point until the 9th and last round last Sunday, my team lost the deciding match against the last remaining contenders SC Heusenstamm, who thus overtook us right before the finishing line.

It was a very close match in which Heusenstamm, who were actually the favourites, had the better start, with several of my team mates having been pressed into defensive positions. After it became clear that some games were promising for our opponents, I got offered a draw in the following position:

Uwira, O. (2240) - Solonar, S. (2338)

The position is actually quite promising for White because it's easy to break up the barricades on the queenside. However, a plan must be found with regard to the defensive setup on the kingside, as Black is of course planning to initiate the typical King's Indian attack. Basically, White has three options once the Black f-pawn reaches f5:

  • Simply answer f2-f3 and allow f5-f4: this counts on being faster on the queenside and actually seems to be the most promising option. The point is that in the usual queenside attack White only has c7 at his disposal for invading with his heavy pieces. Here there White will most likely have b7 and c7.
  • Take on f5 and play f2-f3: White will restrain the Black pawn center and effectively forces Black to sacrifice a pawn by e5-e4 at some point. White will still play on the queenside and the will not be slow.
  • Take on f5 and play f2-f4: this restrains the Bd7 and marks the f5 pawn as either a target for direct attack or as an anchor for the lever g2-g4 once some pieces have been exchanged. However, this doesn't really work here, because Black's pawn on c5 covers the d4-square, which is normally used as a hub by White's pieces once Black has committed e5-e4 in this structure.

So you see, now, after I have analysed a bit, I sort of know what is going on, but during the game I was busy with determining the chances of my team mates, trying to decide whether to accept the draw offer or not. Thus I spend ten minutes watching the other positions, sat down for 10 minutes thinking about the position, got up again to have a final look at the other boards, and then sat down again.

I wanted to accept the draw, but that seemed to be ill-advised, given that some positions at the other boards really looked very dangerous for us. So I played on, knowing that the chance to draw would not return, and moreover, I also followed the worst of the three above-mentioned plans...

15.a3 f5 16.exf5!? I now believe that it is best to just play 16.f3. 16...gxf5 17.f4? As explained, this is only playable if White will have d4 at his disposal once Black has played e5-e4. 17...Nf6 18.Rbe1(?) e4! Well, now the rook at e1 looks silly but I already had to defend against stuff like Ng4 or Ne4.

I'll omit the rest of the game here because it was both brutal and straightforward. With a tougher defense I might have saved the game, but as my time was running out I lost the big picture and got knocked out along the g-file. In the end we lost the close struggle with 3.5-4.5 and came in as runner-ups, which wins us the crap medal.

Thus I lost that game because of a gross strategical misjudgement, which is a pity because I could have actually known what to do if I had had some time to prepare. But here we're back to Light - at least I've passed my exam. I'll probably be playing chess all my life but I certainly don't want to stay at the university for much longer.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Cut Down To Size (Part II)

Round 6 saw my play deteriorating as I had to resign with White after just 20 moves, most of which have just been ridiculously weak. Yesterday somebody even asked me why I was still playing in the tournament. Well, yes, I understand some people consider quitting a tournament a valid option but for my part I just think it's very unsportsmanlike. Instead I'm going to try to give my best again for the last three rounds. I also wouldn't want to be banned by the Hessian Chess Federation.

It's a bit hard to keep up with posting my games such that there would be at least rudimentary commentary. Right now I just have 30 minutes to write my post before I have to be on the road again. This time, because I want to visit my mother in the hospital before the 7th round starts today at 2 pm. So there'll be one game, only.

Round 3: Uwira, O. (2230) - Schmitzer, K. (2318)

1. d4 e6 2. c4 b6 3. e4 Bb7 4. Bd3 Nc6 Too bad that he didn't try 4...f5 here against which I was armed to the teeth. 5. Ne2 Nb4 6. O-O Maybe 6. Nbc3 would have been more accurate. This would force Black to swap on d3 immediately as White is threatening to preserve the bishop with Bb1. Then I have seen some games where White played an early h2-h4-h5 before castling. That's definitely an idea but I haven't dug into it as of now. 6...g6 7. Nbc3 Nxd3 8. Qxd3 Bg7 9. Qh3!? An over-the-board inspiration. I wanted to prevent the development of the king's knight because it would always allow Bh6 to the benefit of White. The move also lends some support to the advance f4-f5 which now can't easily be blocked by f7-f5. The disadvantage is that the queen is decentralised.9...d6 10. f4 Qd7 11. f5 exf5 12. exf5 O-O-O (Diagram) Now it's time to reach a decision. Some of my fellow players claimed that White would have had a huge advantage after 13.d5 but my oppenent had planned 13...Be5 against that and it's not self-evident where the White advantage actually lies. I believe that White probably should move his queen, thus breaking the pin of the pawn f5. An idea would be e.g. 13.Qd3 Nf6 14.Bg5. What I did instead was preparing an ambitious exchange sacrifice, planning to lock the black pieces behind their pawns. 13. Bg5?! f6 14. Be3 Ne7 White could still apply the emergency brake with 15. Ng3 here. But my idea was tempting me too much. 15. d5?! The exclamation mark is only given for the vim to actually push through with the plan. 15...Nxf5 16. Rxf5 In for a penny, in for a pound! 16...gxf5 17. Nf4 Rde8 18. Nb5 Re5! (Diagram) Black had sunk into deep thought for half an hour and now presents the refutation of White's sacrifice. Passive moves would have led to the setup that I had envisaged, a.k.a plant a knight into e6, take back the pawn on f5, massage the rest of the pawn weaknesses. The fact that he didn't look too happy while searching for 18...Re5! told me that he probably didn't think that my sacrifice was complete nonsense and that he was well aware of the looming dangers. With the strong text move, Black brings one of his rooks into battle before the door is closed on e6. Moreover, the rook also supports the bind-breaking c7-c6. 19. Nxa7+ Kb8 20. Nb5 Rhe8 21. Bd2 c6 22. Nd4 cxd5 23. cxd5 Bxd5 Too bad, that 24. Nxd5 Rxd5 25. Qb3 is saved by 25...Qb7. Now White can only play on for tricks. 24. Bc3 Bf8 25. a4 Be4 26. Nb5 d5 27. b4 d4 28. Nxd4 Bxb4 29. Nb5 Bxc3 30. Qxc3 Rc8 31. Qb4 Rec5 32. Nd4 Qd6 33. Qd2 Rc2 34. Qe3 R8c3 35. Nb5 Rxe3 36. Nxd6 Rec3 37. g4 Rf3 38. Rf1 Rxf1+ 39. Kxf1 fxg4 40. Nh5 Bd3+ 0-1

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cut Down To Size (Part I)

After I already hinted here that my campaign at the Hessian Chess Championsship 2010 is not running as well as a good start had promised, I'll now be a bit more specific and give a little roundup of my games played so far.

Of course it's impossible to provide real in-depth analysis here as there's simply not enough time for that and the post would always grow seriously large. I'll leave it two games per post.

Round 1: Uwira, O. (2230) - Euler, G. (2348)

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 c5 4. d5 exd5 5. cxd5 d6 6. Nc3 g6 7. Bg2 Bg7 8. Nf3 O-O 9. O-O Nbd7 10. e4 Re8 11. Nd2 a6 12. a4 Rb8 13. Nc4 Ne5 14. Na3 Nh5 15. h3 Rf8 16. f4?! (Diagram) This is an adventureous idea that is nevertheless not sufficient to obtain the advantage. Opinions as to the quality of the move differed considerably between the players. While I thought the move was worth a try, my opponent considered it to be a severe blunder. The other extreme was maintained by IM Reschke who thought that White is better. The main move is 16.Kh2. 16...Nxg3 17. fxe5 Nxf1 18. Qxf1 Bxe5 Now White has to find something against f7-f5, which will yield Black a very strong attack. Driving the black rook off the f-file is strong but also quite natural. 19. Bh6! Re8 Maybe Black should have played 19...Bd4+ 20.Kh1 Re8 to prevent the tactical trick White has prepared. 20. Nc4 Bd4+ 21. Be3! At first sight this looks as if White has blundered a piece after 21...b5 but this in fact allows White to simplify by tactical means, thus reaching an endgame that is about equal. However, Black doesn't really have a choice because White's minor pieces are becoming very active while Black's Rb8 is still asleep. 21...b5 22. axb5 axb5 23. Bxd4 cxd4 24. Nxb5 Rxb5 25. Nxd6 (Diagram) Here Black must play 25...Qxd6 26.Qxb5 Bd7 27.Qd3 Qb6! 28.Rd1 Qxb2 29.Qxd4 with an equal endgame. Black, however, is struck by a bout of chess blindness. 25...Rxb2?? 26. Qxf7+ 1-0

Round 2: Grabarczyk, B. (2433) - Uwira, O. (2230)

The finish of this encounter has already been talked about. We'll focus on the events that led up to said finish.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e5 6. Ndb5 d6 7. Bg5 a6 8. Na3 b5 9. Bxf6 gxf6 10. Nd5 f5 11. Bd3 Be6 12. Qh5 I had never faced that line over the board and also didn't expect to see it at all because almost everybody plays 12.0-0 here. This is probably not because 12.Qh5 is weaker but because 12.0-0 was hyped by various authors as the antidote against the Sveshnikov. 12...Rg8 13. g3 Rg4 14. f4 exf4 15. Nxf4 Rxf4 16. gxf4 Up until now it's all in the books. My next move is a rarely played alternative to the main move 16...Qa5+ and likely isn't worse.16...Qf6 17. exf5 Bd5 18. O-O-O (Diagram) An important crossroads. Black could get his exchange back with 18...Bxh1 19.Qe2+ Kd7 20. Rxh1 when he should not be worse after 20...Bh6!. The text move sacrifices the exchange for good but takes aim at the White king. Again I'm playing creatively but too aggressively, which is a pattern that up until now characterises my play during the whole tournament. 18...Bg7?! 19. Rhe1+ Kf8 20. c3 b4? That should have lost the game immediately due to a miscalculation after 21.Bc4! when the White king will hide behind a Black pawn at b2 and the exchange will begin to tell. Better would have been 20...Nb4 when Black is only slightly worse according to the silicon monster. 21. Nc2? Bxa2 22. Qg5 bxc3 23. Qxf6 Bxf6 24. bxc3 Bxc3 Dark clowds loom above the White king but with his next move White manages to exploit the temporary disorder in Black's army, thus defending against the imminent danger. 25. Re3! Rb8? I calculated this very far, but not far enough. Better would have been 25...Na5! with the idea of 26.Bc4? Bd2+!. 26. Bb5 Ba5 27. Ra3 axb5 28. Rxa2 b4 29. Rxd6 b3 30. Ra4 Rc8 31. Rc4 Ne7 32. Rxc8+ Nxc8 (Diagram) I've seen this far but missed the strength of 33.Rc6! here which would have won for White. The little detail that got lost in the inevitable fuzzyness of a long calculation is that Black can't play 33...bxc2 because then the zwischenzug 34.f6!! decides the game (instead 34.Rxc8+? Kg7 looks drawish). 33. Ra6? Bc7! 34. Nb4 Bxf4+ 35. Kb2 Kg7 36. h3 Nd6 37. f6+ Kg6 38. Kxb3 Ne4 39. Kc4 Ng5 40. Nd5 Be5 41. h4 Ne6 42. Ra3 Nf4 43. Rg3+ Kf5 44. Rg5+ Ke6 45. Nxf4+ Bxf4 46. Rh5 Kxf6 47. Rxh7 Kg6 48. Rh8 Be5 49. Rg8+ Kh6 50. Rf8 Kh5 51. Kd5 Bf6 52. Ke4 Kxh4 53. Kf5 Bd4 54. Rd8 Bf2 55. Rd3 Bg3 56. Rd7 Kh3 57. Ke4 f5+?? You already know that one. Nevertheless a tremendous tactical battle. 58. Kf3 1-0

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Moron

Hessian Chess Championship 2010, second round. No more explanations required )-:

Grabarczyk, B. (2433) - Uwira, O. (2228)

57...f5+?? 58.Kf3 1-0

What a howler...

Monday, March 22, 2010


The dust has settled and I'm looking back at an incredible weekend that can be summarised best by the title of this post: Madness (note the capital "M", it is well deserved!).

My Friday began rather unspectacularly, as I was working a full eight hours in relative silence while many of the full-time colleagues called it a day early. Things took up pace after I had logged out at half past six. I picked up my notebook and headed for my chess club, where I wanted to meet some of my team mates for an analysis session.

About tournament conditions

Upon arrival I realised that our second team was engaged in their cup quarter-final against a club from the stockbroker belt of Frankfurt. Now we usually don't have a second room at our disposal, since as a Frankfurt-based club we generally have to pay rent for the room and consequently have to watch our spendings.

Well, "we're gonna whisper and she'll be right" is what I came up with as a plan for the evening. The plan was spoiled immediately by my notebook when the Windows welcome tune sounded through the room before I could operate the mute button. After this everything went smoothly except once, when somebody asked us to keep it down a bit.

As time trouble commenced, I shut down the notebook because I wanted to watch the games. The match had closed in on its climax. Even after the time controls were reached time trouble didn't end because cup matches are played with a fast time control of two hours for 40 moves and then 15 minutes for the remainder. It was 2-0 for us and board one should have been drawn but you never know... On top of that the opponent player at board 2 was winning, but, in spite of having 20 minutes against our player's two, he didn't realise that he had an elementary win. We feared we needed the draw here, because in case of a 2-2 the opponents would have gone through on tiebreaker.

Thus I was watching how the opponent bottled it and then attempted to win on time an endgame of rook pawn and wrong bishop against the bare king. This player declined a draw offer by simply pointing at our player's clock which heated up the atmosphere quite a little. Instead of claiming draw according to FIDE rules article 10.2 our player offered a draw again after having reached the corner and received a similar reply. The opponent complemented his effort by simply not maintaining his score sheet anymore in order to squeeze out valuable seconds...

While the drama unfolded one of the opponents had a go at me, claiming that he had lost his game because of the noise level. I asked him why he's complaining only now, after the game, and whether he had ever played in an open. He guaranteed me that he had and that what we had provided was nowhere close to tournament conditions. I'll leave this episode uncommented.

Anyway, after the game on board 1 ended drawn, the remaining game was also agreed drawn in time and the feared fracas didn't materialise. In the end we could have lost the match because of the ineptness of our player, as it should well be known by now that article 10.2 requires a player to formally register the claim to the arbiter instead of simply uttering the word "draw" over and over again.

Eintracht Frankfurt's Magic Moment

Saturday afternoon Lather and I went to a local pub to watch the Bundesliga match between Eintracht Frankfurt and Bayern München. Our hearts wished that Frankfurt would be able to hold their own, but, as most of our regular starters were either injured or suspended, reason let us fear a heavy defeat against the German powerhouse.

Six minutes into the match reason appeared to prevail as Miro Klose scored in spite of Arjen Robben being clearly offside and not really far away enough for this situation to be ruled passive offside. At least this dubious referee call had one advantage. It set up one of the Eintracht ultras, who was already half through his first bottle of liquor, to go ballistic at absolutely everything that happened on the screen, be it a referee call, sloppy passing or fouls committed by Bayern players. His constant cursing in extremely coarse language that he delivered at the very top of his voice was very amusing and a consolation to us as we were assured that, if not beaten Bayern at least got thoroughly insulted.

As we realised that Frankfurt was playing their match of the season, creating chance after chance against the supposed über-team, the atmosphere approached the boiling point. The only thing that was missing was a Frankfurt goal.

When Frankfurt eventually levelled the score in the 87th minute, the whole audience went postal and I certainly don't need to explain what happened after Frankfurt scored the winner in the 89th minute. I guess the last time I saw people go off like that was in 1999 when I was out at the Waldstadion and became witness to the amazing 5-1 win over Kaiserslautern that prevented Frankfurt's relegation. Watching the World Cup 2006 quarter-final between Germany and Argentina amongst 80000 people comes in as a close runner-up.

I'll call it a day for now because this piece has become quite long already. There were other things that would have been equally worthy of mentioning. Well, your imagination should be able to supply clues as to the course of the evening after such an amazing football experience.

Hint: Don't even think of the word "sobriety" (-:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mating Mode

These are very busy days and I'm hardly able to post because writing a piece that satisfies my self-imposed quality standards simply takes considerable time. Surprisingly, despite the lack of time my chess has apparently recovered from the abyss that led to a loss of 70 ELO over a short period of six months.

In the next to last league match against SK Gernsheim I was able to beat an old companion of mine, whom I battled against almost from the beginning of my chess career. As of Sunday, I had never won a game off him under tournament conditions, and I also had to swallow some painstaking defeats, e.g. when he beat me in the next to last round of the Hessian youth championship in 1997 and proceeded to win the title while putting me out of the race.

Understandably I went into Sunday's game with mixed feelings as I feared that playing black against my skillfully attacking nemesis could well be a too heavy burden. Fate plays funny tricks, however, and I was quite surprised when I was able to launch a raging attack after a White inaccuracy right out of the opening.

Müller (2304) - Uwira (2228)

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. Nc3 Qc7

Kramnik's antidote against the Rossolimo, which was eventually able to cure my inability to play against this system. Part of my problem might have been that I used to employ the Rossolimo very successfully during my youth time when I was still playing 1.e4.

5. O-O Nd4 6. Ba4 e6 7. d3 a6 8. Nxd4 cxd4 9. Ne2 b5 10. Bb3 Bc5

Up until now play appeared to be normal. As far as I know, 6.Re1 is the main move, developing instead of preserving the bishop. I believe the position resulting from 6.Ba4 is equal, but of course Black has to be cautious because it is easy to succumb to a kingside attack once the Black king has arrived there. Right now the Black king still resides in the middle, though, and this is what makes White's next move a serious inaccuracy.

11. Ng3? h5!

Of course, Black takes the opportunity to harrass the White knight. The text move also prevents White from implementing his main idea of Nh5, exchanging the Nf6 and securing squares on the kingside to bring the White queen into action. Now, however, White has to sound the retreat, rather unorderly.

12. Bg5 h4 13. Nh1 Bb7 14. f4 O-O-O?

This is an error, but not because of 15.e5?, which can be met by either 15...Rdg8 when the Nf6 is taboo, or 15...h3 going for the throat directly. The text move allows White to consolidate by means of 15.Nf2! when he has regained some control while the position of course remains unclear. After his next error, I didn't allow White a second chance to save his game.

15.h3? Rdg8 16. Qe1 Nh5

Now White should at least play 17.Bxh4 immediately, when the g-file will stay closed for the time being after 17...Nxf4 18.Bg3 g5.

17. a4?

In his struggle for counterplay White allows a pawn sacrifice that opens all the gates on the kingside.

17...f6 18. Bxh4 g5!

I didn't bother about the pawn because opening attacking lines first has priority.

19. fxg5 fxg5 20. Bg3 Nxg3 21. Nxg3 g4 22. Ne2 Bxe4

Here it was obviously better to play 22...gxh3 first and only after 23.g3 Bxe4. For some reason I rather wanted to allow White to play h3-h4 than blockading with g2-g3 and Kg1-h2. However, a pawn is a pawn, so my text move is inferior, although Black is still winning.

23. Nf4 Bb7 24. Nxe6

White is desperate for counterplay but the position of his king is too weak. Black is able to finish the attack with an elegant queen sacrifice.

24...gxh3 25. Rf8+

If 25.Nxc7 White is mated by 25...h2+ 26.Kf2 (26.Kh1 Bxg2 mate) 26...Rxg2 mate.

25...Bxf8 26. Nxc7 h2+ 0-1

The rook has evacuated f1 for his king but it is still mate because Black promotes his h-pawn after 27.Kf1.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Empire Strikes Back

Yesterday, this year's chess season brought a decisive league match for my team SC 1961 König Nied. We played the league leaders SV Griesheim who were leading us by two points. With only three matches to go we had no other option than to win. Not winning would almost certainly have meant that our campaign to ascend to the Hessenliga was over.

Taking our hardly stellar performances of the previous rounds into consideration it rather looked like a tough job for us. Nevertheless we eventually pulled ourselves together and delivered our best performance since almost two years, blasting the opponents off the boards. The final tally read 6:2 which is just insanely high, given the fact that we were the rating favourites at only three boards out of eight.

I had the pleasure to fight a theoretical battle in a line of the Accepted Queen's Gambit, where my book just ended with "White's attack develops smoothly" but without any further lines to learn by heart. This meant that I actually had to play chess, which I haven't really done sucessfully during the recent weeks. This time it was going to be different...

Uwira (2228) - Dietz (2304)

1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. e3 Nf6 4. Bxc4 e6 5. Nf3 c5 6. O-O a6 7. Bb3 Nbd7 8. e4!

This is the most testing move. It is recommended in Boris Avrukh's book Grandmaster Repertoire 1. d4. Before playing the move I took myself ten minutes to recollect some of the theory. However, there was not a chance that I wouldn't play the move (-:

8...Nxe4 9. Qe2! Ndf6

Black tries to hang on to his pawn. Avrukh gives 9...c4 as the mainline, which returns the pawn while keeping the central lines closed. If instead 9...Nef6, Black gets overrun by 10. d5, this thrust being the main point of White's sacrifice. After the text move, Black will have to spend an awful lot of tempi and if he doesn't finally manage to castle things look sore for him.

10. Bc2 Qd5 11. Re1 Nd6 12. Nc3 Qh5?

Avrukh gives 12...Qc6 13.Be3 and says that White's attack runs very smoothly. When I analysed the position this morning, the best I could find for Black was 13...cxd4 14.Bxd4 Be7 15.Ne5 Qc7 16.Ng4 where White has an overwhelming position. It is certainly enough for the pawn, and the real question is whether Black will be able to survive.

The text move, however, leads to dire consequences for Black. I again took myself some time here but eventually decided to continue the race for development, relying on not allowing Black to castle at a cheap price.

On an even better day, I might have found the paradoxical 13.Qd1! which immediately exposes the weakness of the black queen's position. White threatens 14.Re5 trapping the queen while also renewing support for the d4-d5 thrust. Black has huge problems here. The best he has is 13...Nd7 14.d5 e5 15.Nxe5 Qxd1 16.Bxd1 Nxe5 17.Rxe5+ when the black king will be stuck in the centre and there isn't any clearcut way to finish development.

After my game continuation, White still has very strong pressure, so I won't go as far as tagging it with a question mark.

13. dxc5 Qxc5 14. Be3 Qa5 15. Bf4

After driving the black queen to the edge of the board, White now prepares to hit the Nd6, which doesn't have good retreat squares. If Black tries to castle he'll either has to give up material or allow White to build a completely dominating position. For example 15...Be7 16.Red1! Now Black loses at least an exchange, if not the queen, after 16...Nb5 17.Qe5 Qb4 18.Na4 encircling the queen. Therefore he must protect the knight: 16...Qb6 17.Ba4+ Kf8 18.Rac1 when Black is tied up nicely.

After the game continuation, new tactics emerge at White's horizon, especially the knight sacrifice at f7, followed by the removal of the Bd7 by Rxd7. It's hard to find sensible moves for Black, so I venture the thought that he might be lost already.

15...Bd7 16. Rad1 Nb5 17. Ne5 Nxc3 18. bxc3

If now 18...Qxc3 then Black is taken apart by 19.Nxf7 because he can't play 19...Kxf7 20.Rxd7+ Nxd7 21.Qxe6 mate.

Black is also doomed after 18...Bc5 19.Nxf7 0-0 when the big hammer 20.Rxd7! exposes the king. If now 20...Nxd7 then 21.Bxh7+ Kxh7 22.Ng5+ Kg6 23.Qe4+ Rf5 and Black is helpless after 24.Qxe6+ Rf6 25.Qe4+ Rf5 26.g4.

With the game continuation Black at least defends e6 but the queen is now vulnerable to discovered attacks.

18...Qxa2 19. Nxf7

Rybka suggests that the simple 19.Rd2 is even stronger.

19...Bb5 20. Qd2

After 20.Nd6+ Bxd6 21.Bg6+ hxg6 22.Qxa2 Bxf4 23.g3 Black has three minor pieces for the queen. I had around 20 minutes left to make the time control and didn't want to spend the time needed to evaluate what is going on here. Instead, I opted to let Black keep his queen but only at the price of a very strong attack.


The only move. Black must block the Bc2 in order to save his queen.

21. Rxe4 Kxf7 22. Be5

Now Black's queen is far away from the raging battle on the kingside. At this point I think had around ten minutes left and my opponent had even less, probably not more than two or three minutes. In a situation like that, pragmatism must usually prevail over beauty, so my opponent tucked the king away instead of returning the queen immediately with 22...Qa3.

After the game it was claimed by a kibitzing opponent, who obviously believed that there is nothing in chess he doesn't know, that my whole attack was badly conducted because Black now allegedly could have saved the game with 22...Qa3. I was completely perplexed by such a coffee house attitude as it must be very obvious that Black is still in deep trouble. In fact, Rybka tears Black apart after 22...Qa3 23.c4 Bc6 24.Rf4+ Kg8 25.Qe2 with the idea of swinging the queen to h5. Now 25...Re8 26.Qh5 Qe7 27.h3 - we even have time for this, as Black has no moves - a5 28.Bd6 Qd7 29.Bxf8 and White wins a piece.

22...Kg8 23. Rg4 Qa3 24. Qh6 Qe7 25. Bb3 g6 26. Rxg6+ hxg6

Now it was my time to be pragmatic. With maybe three of four minutes left I first calculated the endgame of the game continuation and then only had a quick look at whether 27.Qxg6+ would win. Unfortunately I didn't look long enough and therefore I missed 27.Qxg6+ Bg7 28.Bxe6+ Kf8 29.Bd6 and Black will be mated at f7.

Thus, the game missed the culmination it was due. White now enters an ending two pawns up, which should easily be enough to win after the time control.

27.Qxh8+ Kf7 28. Qh7+ Ke8 29. Qxg6+ Qf7 30. Qxe6+ Qxe6 31. Bxe6 a5 32. g4 Ra6 33. Ba2 Be2?

Black blunders a piece and now it's really over. The game ended with Black's resignation once both players were sure that they had reached the time control.

34. Re1 Bxg4 35. Bd6+ Kd8 36. Bxf8 Bh3 37. Be7+ Kd7 38. Bh4 Rb6 39. Rb1 Rxb1+ 40. Bxb1 Be6 41. Bg5 Bc4 42. h4 a4 43. Bc1 1-0

Friday, February 5, 2010

Charly Records

These are turbulent times and recently I'm hardly finding time and leisure to post here. Matters will hopefully improve pretty soon but right now time is rare and precious and reasons are plentyful.

To start with I am now nearing the completion of my next to last thesis at university. This will be followed by my last examination and last but not least my diploma thesis, so that I'll hopefully be through that plight called studying by the late summer.

In addition to that a quick crush at chess in a cup match against SV Kelsterbach led to the discovery of new hobby. How is that? Well, after my opponent blundered a piece and resigned after 15 minutes of play, I got into discussion about the game of go with one of the kibitzing players. It was then quickly decided that he go and bring his go set and thus I played my first game right away.

I had already known the rules for some time then but that doesn't help much in the beginning. Imagine you only knew some chess basics and wanted to play a against a club player... Well, I therefore began to read what I could get my hands on about the game right the next day.

Finally, I've also been to the studios (-: That is to say I recorded two of my songs at my brother's place to produce what'll be called the Charly Records EP. Ralph and I are determined to write some more songs in the near future in order to come close to something that might rightfully be called an album.

Tomorrow we're going to perform again at Celtic Garden and whoever dares to find their way to the gig will have a chance to get one of the roughly 20 CDs that we're going to have with us. You could also listen to the stuff on YouTube (see the links below) but the quality of the CD will be much better, let me tell you! (-:

So that's it again. I hope this will be the first of a more frequent succession of posts. Cheers!

Tourettes - Untitled (2010)

Tourettes - Black Beauty (2010)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Road Trip

I suppose even bloggers need some time off occasionally and I certainly felt that way during the last three weeks. Now we're well into the year 2010 (happy new year to everybody, by the way) and I would like to return to blogging with a really insane story that took place last weekend.

One week ago two friends of mine, Pablo and Sophie, who are travelling Europe and earn their money by playing chess against passers-by, called me from Rome, Italy, and told me that their car got broken into and most of their stuff taken by the thieves. They had to return to Germany quickly but several things prevented them from helping themselves out of this misery.

First, the route back to Germany had to avoid Austria and Switzerland because in those countries cars are required by law to be equipped with winter tyres, whereas my friends' car only had allseasons put on. Therefore, the way to go was through France but unfortunately Pablo doesn't have a driver's licence at all while Sophie had her driver's licence blocked for two months in France because of speeding. So to cut a long story short, they asked me whether I could help them out by coming to Italy and driving the car through France. What follows is my recount of that road trip, which bore quite some similarities to a suicide mission, given the weather conditions brought to Germany by the trough Daisy.

Sunday, Jan 10th, 1am
I eventually arrive at home after a performance with my acoustic band. The bus shuttle to the Frankfurt-Hahn airport will depart the Frankfurt central station at 7am. So I turn in quickly, because it's going to be a very long day.

Sunday, Jan 10th, 9am
I'm at the Frankfurt-Hahn airport and now have to get my ticket. My friends booked the ticket in Rome and gave me an access code. In theory, I should be able to simply get the ticket printed at the Ryan Air check-in machines. In real life this procedure will cost me an additional fee of €40, which I don't have - neither in my pocket nor in my bank account. It appears that the Ryan Air clerk in Rome excelled in Doublethink when she told my friends that using the check-in machine would not be a problem at all while failing to hint at the additional fee Ryan Air would charge in that case. So with €30 in my wallet, I try to withdraw €20 from my bank account, and luckily for my desperate friends the ATM issues the cash.

Sunday, Jan 10th, 2pm
I finally arrive at Pisa, from where the road trip will begin. By now I'm really pissed off because after having bought a pack of cigarettes and a cup of coffee I don't have any money left at all thanks to the business philosophy of Ryan Air. The flight has been one hour late but given the weather at Frankfurt-Hahn, I'm rather one hour late than late. The weather in Pisa is fine, though. It's raining and the temperature is 5°C.

Sunday, Jan 10th, 4pm
After I met up with Pablo and Sophie we had a cup of coffee in the city centre of Pisa. Now it's time to get down to business. We'll try to reach Lyon, France, around midnight. A decision has to be made. Should we drive around the Alps along the Côte d'Azur until Aix-en-Provence and then turn northwards or is it better to try the direct route via the Fréjus Tunnel between Torino and Grenoble? Both routes have their pros and cons. The route via the Côte d'Azur is safe but approximately 400 km longer while driving through the Alps is shorter but not safe at all. Because fuel expenses, road tolls and time are also important factors, we decide to gamble and take the direct route. After all, didn't they say in the news that Daisy is passing through Europe from south to north so it should long be past the Alps, given that it's ravaging Germany right now?

Sunday, Jan 10th, 8pm
After four hours of driving we are finally past the Appenine Mountains and stop at the service area of Nichelino on the Tangenziale Sud di Torino. Sophie has been driving until now while I have been resting on the back seat. The journey between Pisa and Genova offers beautiful landscapes but it is a hell of a drive because of the innummerable tunnels. North of Genova the Appenine Mountains gradually yield to the plains of Piedmont and between Alessándria and Torino there are hardly any hills at all. At Nichelino I'm to take over the driving duty. We're now 90 km from the Fréjus Tunnel and I should get used to the car before we're entering the Alps. After just 20 minutes of driving I'm already pissed off because we missed the correct lane at the next interchange as the Italians are apparently incapable of setting up road signs that are readable well in advance. The road sign at the interchange was in fact located after the lanes forked, and when we saw it changing lanes was already impossible.

Sunday, Jan 10th, 10pm
We stop at the very next service area in France, directly after the Fréjus Tunnel. The 12 km long passage through the tunnel cost a heavy toll of €35 but we reckoned it'd be impossible to go via the Col du Fréjus where the road most likely has not been salted or even cleared. The highway offered fewer troubles. We hardly saw a snowflake and there was no ice. Now that we are in France, we're in prime Tour de France mountain stage territory. Looking from the service area to the south, the Galibier rises to approximately 2500 metres. Its mountain pass, the Col du Galibier is one of the hardest and most famous climbs in the history of the Tour de France. That is, in the summer, of course. Now the road signs show an alarmingly red fermé (closed), telling journeymen that they'd better pay the tunnel toll.

Monday, Jan 11th, 1am
We have arrived at Lyon safely around midnight and are now sitting in a shisha bar in the city centre. The Tunisian guy who runs the bar doesn't speak English so I use my rotten French. As I already have experienced quite often in France, this immediately breaks the spell. After I had a game of chess with Pablo, I end up playing two games of checkers with the French guys and in the end we don't have to pay our drinks - they are à la maison. Around 3am we finally leave the bar and park the car in the back yard of some company in the suburb Limonest. Time to get some sleep.

Monday, Jan 11th, 8am
My cell phone alarm wakes me up and I notice a snowplough clearing the parking area of snow. While I'm smoking my breakfast cigarette, the overseer asks me when we'd be about to leave. I say we'd be gone in 10 minutes and that's OK with him. He just explains that the guy in the snowplough is at work and needs to clear the lot where we're parking. Just imagine this had happened in Germany. I'm sure I would have got a decent earful about law and order and how could I dare to park here and so on.

Monday, Jan 11th, 11am
After buying food in a supermarket, we have driven to downtown Lyon again because Sophie needs to pick up a watch that was supposed to be repaired by the juweller who sold it. It turns out, though, that the shop has a rather dubious touch. Three different employees tell us three different stories about the whereabouts of the watch. In the end they talk about the warranty being void because of a fault of Sophie's and the thought dawns that she's never going to see her watch again. We finally head off, our mood having hit rock bottom.

Monday, Jan 11th, 4pm
We stop at a service area around Besançon in the Jura Mountains. The weather is very good as the sun is shining and there isn't any fog at all. We're now within 150 km of the German border and hope that the weather will be the same across the Rhine. Pablo's and my mood has become better again. He had been seriously pissed off about the fast increasing amount of money that was being gobbled up by the Péage and I had been pissed off about his being pissed off, basically. Seeing the sun and a clear sky was a good cure, though, and we continued our journey in confidence.

Monday, Jan 11th, 6pm
While we were descending from the Jura mountains into the Alsatian plains, the weather conditions deteriorated rapidly. Now we're around Mulhouse and it's all foggy and raining. Road signs warn about ice and it doesn't get better. As we cross the Rhine bridge between the French Mulhouse and the German Neuenburg, snow begins to fall heavily. Bad thoughts creep up on me. Daisy is still here, and we come to realise that the Alps had been nothing compared to the final 400 km that lie in front of us. Somewhere around Freiburg, Sophie takes over the car, because I'm quite exhausted by now.

Monday, Jan 11th, 9pm
We've been making an average of only 80 km an hour and now we even get stuck in a huge traffic jam at the notorious Karlsruhe-Durlach. As if this had not been enough, after we're out of the traffic jam the road suddenly becomes icy and Sophie loses control of the car. We slide and silently pray that no other vehicle is going to smash into us. Luckily for us we manage to reach the emergency lane and slowly crawl on to the next parking area, which fortunately is just 500 metres in front of us. I get out of the car and smoke five cigarettes in row. Some other cars stop here right after us. Most of them have been behind us and seen us slide. They got frightened and decided to stop, too. One of them gives us valuable advice on how to drive on ice. Tonight, temperatures will reportedly drop to
-12°C and after half an hour of agonising over the choice between freezing to death and risking to drive on for the last 100 km, another car stops and we ask the driver if he's noticed any ice on the road. He tells us the road was alright, which means that the winter service vehicles must have strewn enough salt by now. The show must go on.

Monday, Jan 11th, 11pm
Finally we made it back to Frankfurt. The first thing we do after getting off the highway is stop at a gas station and buy alcohol. After I'm back at home, I immediately down the small bottle of liquor I just bought at the gas station. The following two bottles of beer could now be consumed in a more tranquilised state of mind - phew!