Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Chess Files

The Chess Files

The answers are out there.

By Jim Eade

The Russian player Alexander Grischuk won the World Blitz Championship earlier this month, finishing one half point ahead of Norway’s Magnus Carlsen, the highest rated player.  Which leads us to consider this issues chess mystery:  Is blitz chess good or bad for the developing chess player?

If you ask seasoned chess trainers, their answers will be all over the map.  Some are adamant that blitz chess is harmful to their students, teaching them bad habits such as going for cheap traps instead of the best move.  Other are just as certain that blitz chess is just one of many activities that gives a growing player needed experience.

In the days of analog clocks, blitz chess meant that both players had five minutes total for the entire game.  If you ran out of time, you lost the game.  Nowadays, digital clocks are the norm and the standard practice is to start with a certain amount of time and then give bonus time for every completed move.  The World Blitz Championship’s time control was 3 minutes plus 2 seconds per move.

I can’t give a definitive answer to whether blitz chess is good for your game.  I can, however, tell you that it is fun.  I spent many, many hours playing blitz chess when I was young, and I had a blast.      

If you have a chess mystery you would like solved, write to me at jimeade@comcast.net, and I’ll take a crack at it.

Today’s puzzle comes from the just concluded World Open in Philadelphia.  It is white’s turn to move.

Solution: 1. Bh6+

If 1…Kxh6 then 2. Nxf7+ wins Black’s Queen.

If instead Black retreats with 1…Kg8 then 2.g5 forces the knight on f6 to move, allowing white to play 3.Qxf7+ with a straightforward win.