Sunday, November 15, 2009

Making a difference in West Texas

Making a difference in West Texas through playing teaching chess

Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

Sunday, November 15, 2009
Story last updated at 11/15/2009 - 3:06 am

The question of the week is has there been any chess event that actually involves the fans during the game?

Actually, there was. On Feb. 27, 2005, I was involved in another historic battle of the genders that took place during the Millennium Chess Festival in Virginia Beach, Va. It featured the 2005 U.S. champion and No. 1-ranked American player, Hikaru Nakamura and me.

The unique format was a big hit with the fans. Instead of competing face to face, the two of us occupied adjacent rooms with large demo boards. We then explained our thoughts, analysis, and evaluations to the audience. For the fans, it was like being inside the grandmasters' minds. The audience could ask questions and sometimes even got involved with the analysis.

Both of us arrived before 7 p.m. to a mass of people waiting in line. After spending a few minutes going over the rules, my opponent and I went to our separate playing rooms. While waiting for all the technical things to be set up, we greeted the fans. Hikaru went on the Internet where he is a very popular player to chat with the fans. On the other hand, I spent this time with the folks standing in line to get into the playing hall while posing for pictures and signing autographs.

Finally, the game got under way. My husband Paul Truong was the emcee for my playing hall and FIDE Master Sunil Weeramantry, my opponent's stepfather, was the emcee for Hikaru's side. When we were ready to move, we would inform either Sunil or Paul who would then relate the moves to each other through walkie-talkies. In the meantime, the event was broadcast live on the Internet with voice and video live feeds.

The audiences in both playing halls were very enthusiastic and cheered the players on. The game was very exciting and filled with psychological warfare and unexpected twists and turns. It was a fantastic event.

The sponsors got tremendous coverage and the fans got to be involved in a real exciting chess battle. They actually witnessed how two world-class grandmasters think while trying to outwit each other on the chess board. Overall, it was a win-win situation for everyone.

Below is the game that we played:

Grandmaster Susan Polgar - Grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura

Virginia Beach, Feb. 27, 2005

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e5

The Albin Counter Gambit is quite rare in grandmaster practice and only very few "dare" to play it. Grandmaster Morozevich of Russia is one who plays it occasionally and with success. Hikaru is likely the second strongest player who is willing to surprise his opponents with it. Prior to the game I primarily anticipated a more solid opening. However, I was ready for the Albin psychologically.

3.dxe5 d4 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.g3 Nge7

Formerly, Black used to play 5...Be6 or 5...Bg4 instead. This is a new idea of Morozevich's.

6.Bg2 Ng6 7.Bg5

In some games, White returned the pawn with 7.0-0 Ngxe5 8.Nxe5 Nxe5 but Black has little to worry then. Protecting the pawn with 7.Bf4 allows 7...Nxf4 ruining White's pawn structure on the kingside.


A strange looking move but it is the best choice. After 7...Be7 8.Bxe7 Black has problems getting the sacrificed pawn back.


By returning the pawn, White forces Black's f-pawn to the e-file.

8...fxe6 9.0-0 e5 10.Nbd2

Apparently, my opponent was hoping for 10.Qa4 as I suggested in my article, but I surprised him with 10.Nbd2.

10...h6 11.Bh4 Bd6

I don't think that this is an improvement over Krasenkow - Morozevich, where Black developed the bishop to e7.

12.c5 Bxc5

This came to me as a pleasant surprise. It also shocked the audience; retreating to e7 was much safer. It shows that Hikaru is not afraid of sharp games, nor is he afraid of a challenge.


This move forks Black's bishop and knight.


The only way to avoid losing a piece.

14.Nxh4 Bb6

I did not even consider this retreat, only to d6, b4 or e7.

15.Ng6 Rg8

The rook could not go to h7 because of a discovery with the knight. White is clearly better here. The dilemma is which tempting continuation to choose.


I considered this along with a different execution with 16.Qb3. However, I found an additional interesting continuation after the game with 16.Nc4. For example 16...Qf5

17.Be4 Qf6 18.Bxc6+ bxc6 19.Ngxe5.


The only way to save the rook! After 16...Ne7, White would trade knights and then simply capture the rook on g8.


This is one of the critical positions of the game. I had the opportunity to win an exchange with 17.Bd5 Qxg6 18.Bxg8 but with the short time control I did not want to give Hikaru counterplay with 18...Bh3. Then Black has a pawn for the exchange and the light squares around my king are pining for my bishop which is stranded on g8. Another option was after 17.Bd5 Qxg6 was 18.Bxc6, but I decided against it because of 18...Kf8. To my amazement, my opponent told me after the game that he planned to sacrifice the exchange anyway with 18...bxc6. If I had known that, I would have played the 17.Bd5 variation.

17...bxc6 18.Nxe5 Qxc4 19.Ndxc4

This is the position I was hoping for. White has the better pawn structure and the black bishop on b6 is really out of play.

19...c5 20.Rfc1 a5

Perhaps better was 20...Be6. On the other hand, 20...Bb7 is not good because of 21.a4 (threatening to trap the bishop with 22.a5) 21...a5 22.Nxb6 cxb6 and 23.Nc4 winning a pawn.

21.e3! dxe3 22.Nxe3 Be6 23.Nd3?

This mistake lets most of the advantage slip. The more accurate move was 23.Rd1 not allowing Black to castle.

23...0-0-0 24.Nxc5 Bh3

This bishop is becoming like an "annoying monster" constantly setting up back rank checkmate traps.

25.Rc2 Rge8 26.Rac1 Kb8 27.a3 a4!

A very good move! After 28.Nxa4, Black answers with 28...Rxe3 29.fxe3 Bxe3 check 29.Kh1 Bxc1 30.Rxc1 Rd2.


According to the computer better was 28.Rc4 Rd2 29.Rb4.

28...Rd2 29.Nxa4

A blunder would be 29.R1c2, because of checkmate in two after 29...Rd1 check.

29...Bxe3 30.Rxe3 Rf8 31.Rb3 check Ka8 32.g4!

Giving up a pawn to force the bishop away from its powerful position!

32...Bxg4 33.Rxc7 Rfxf2 34.Nb6 check Kb8 35.Nd5 check Ka8 Game drawn.

Black offered the draw. White had 2'25" left and Black had 4'31" left. White is still better after 36.Ne3 Bh3 37.Rc5 Rf7 38.Ra5+ Ra7 39.Nc4. But since this was an exhibition and the game went overtime, we decided to accept a friendly draw so the fans would not miss other activities.

Helping children

In the past two years, SPICE, with some financial assistance from my foundation, has made great strides in getting chess into schools in West Texas. But we are not able to accomplish everything we wanted to do for young children in our area.

The Susan Polgar Foundation needs your support. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and our mission is to promote chess, with all its educational, social, and competitive benefits for young people of all ages, especially girls.

Our goal is to raise $50,000 in order to continue serving the Lubbock area. It is clear that chess playing has many educational and social benefits, and our work is making a difference. Please consider contributing to support chess excellence.

This year, for instance, we hosted and directed many scholastic tournaments, led workshops for a number of schools, helped start a chess program at Wolfforth Library, and donated many chess sets and books and supplies. We hosted free chess lessons at various places around town for players of all ages.

We organized multiple tournaments with grandmasters from around the world. We built a chess park on Tech's campus and celebrated top-place finishes in collegiate national competitions, among many other things.

We're stretched in many directions and we really need your help. Please consider contacting us to help teach chess, or help us through a tax-deductable donation. One hundred percent of your donationwill go to support chess in our community.

Donations can be made to:

The Susan Polgar Foundation

6923 Indiana Ave. No. 154

Lubbock, TX 79413

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