Let’s face it, folks: I need help if I’m going to avoid the dubious distinction of losing 10 chess games in a row. Game 9 is over and game 10 has begun.

This time, I’m making a small change. If you have a suggestion for a strategy, e-mail your suggestions to me at editor2@sunnews.org. Or come into the Sun office and say you’d like to help Black defeat White. I’m playing Black again, you see. Or if you’d rather help the Sun Region community humiliate a newspaper man—and we’re rather hard to humiliate or we wouldn’t work in a job where the entire community and all our competitors get a chance to see our mistakes—then come in to the Sun office at 216 Main St., Seal Beach. and say you’d like to make a move for White. Now, on to game 10—already in progress.

Huntington Harbour’s Alois Geiger opened the game by moving White pawn to e4.

I moved Black Knight to f6.

Seal Beach’s Paul Mangone moved White pawn to e5.

Black Knight to d5.

Geiger: White pawn to d4.

Black pawn to e6.

Geiger: White Knight to f3.

Black Knight to c6.

Mangone: Whie Pawn to c4, threatening Black Knight.

Black Knight to b4, escaping the attack.

Mangone: White pawn to a3, threatening the Black Knight at b4.

Dilemma: lose momentum and time trying to save the Knight or consider the Knight a lost cause and focus on moving other chessmen into the action? I opted for the later. That may have been a mistake.

I moved the Black Bishop to e7, clearing the path for a castle move and leaving my Black Knight vulnerable.

Mangone: White pawn to b4, capturing Black Knight.

Black castled to the left, leaving the Black King at g8 and the Black Rook at f8.

Geiger: White Bishop to d2.

Black pawn to g7.

The next move belongs to the Sun Region. Meanwhile, what should Black do to gain the upper hand?

To paraphrase Charles Dickens, I am not the hero of my chess blog.

I resigned Friday, following a series of disasters.

I got the flu. (Turns out I don’t do my best when I’m under the weather.) I lost several key chessmen. I allowed the board to be accidentally rearranged, leading one of my adversaries into making a huge mistake that he would not have made if I had corrected the error before he made a move. I forgot to take my turn.

Upshot: I resigned, forfeiting the game because the game was no longer valid.

The fault is entirely mine. Here’s a rundown of what happened:

At last report, I moved Black Knight to d4.

Huntington Harbour’s Alois Geiger moved White Bishop to d4, capturing my Knight. And here my defeat began.

Black pawn captures White Bishop.

Paul Mangone’s White Knight captured my Bishop at g8.

Black Queen to f8.

Geiger moved WQhite Queen to f6.

Black Queen to b4.

Geiger moved the white Knight to d1.

Black Queen to b2. I was focused on setting up an attack on the White King—so focused, I failed to see a threat to my Queen.

Mangone captured the Black Queen by moving the White Knight to B2.

Someone knocked over the chessmen. I was in a hurry and repositioned the board based on my faulty memory.

Geiger moved the White Queen to d4.

I checked the board against the artwork I posted for the last blog and discovered that the Black Rooks were in the wrong place. I could have easily taken Geiger’s Queen, but would have felt like a cheater for doing so.

I forgot to move for Black.

Geiger moved the Queen to a7. The game was virtually lost anyway—and I considered resigning.

Someone knocked over all the chess pieces and I decided at that point to resign.

Nine failures in a row has me feeling a bit demoralized and this last round leaves me slightly ashamed—I had an opportunity to do well and I squandered it.

Only one option. Set up the board for Chess with Charles 10.

Your move, Sun Region. But be warned: no one can lose forever.

Neither side has a significant advantage—yet. Each side has lost two pawns. I’ve had to move a couple of chessmen back, which surrendered some momentum to the Sun Region.

Yet it appears that my many adversaries and I are playing a cautious game. Neither side is trying to inflict massive damage on the other. If I see a good shot, I’ll take it. However, I don’t see a realistic opening for an attack. Oh, there are some things I could try—but I think I’d loose chessmen in the fight and have nothing to show for it. Right now, my goal is to protect all my chessmen.

Last we left off, I moved the Black Rook to d7.

Huntington Harbour’s Alois Geiger moved a White pawn to a3.

Black Rook to d8.

Seal Beach’s Paul Mangone mmoved White Knight to g5, threatening a Black Bishop.

Black Bishop to h6.

Geiger: White Queen to h4.

Black Bishop to g7.

Mangone: White Rook to g2.

Black Knight to d4. This move is risky. I could lose my Knight only to capture a Bishop. I could capture a pawn, only to find my Knight alone behind enemy lines. (This would set up a nice attack on a White Rook in Row 1, but would the other side allow me to take that advantage? I doubt it.)

So much for proceeding with caution.

Your move, Sun Region

This time, I’m playing Black. So far, I haven’t made a huge blunder. White has a slightly better position, but neither side can claim perfect control of the center.

Seal Beach’s Paul Mangone opened the game for White, moving a pawn to e4.

I moved Black Knight to f6 to provide cover for the future advance of a pawn.

Huntington Harbour’s Alois Geiger: White Knight to c3.

Black pawn to e5.

Mangone: White pawn to f4, a move that threatened a Black pawn.

Black pawn to d6, a move designed to protect the other Black pawn.

Geiger: White pawn to d3.

Black Knight to c6.

Mangone: White Knight to f3.

Black Queen to e7.

Mangone: White Knight to f3.

Black Bishop to e6.

Mangone castled, placing the White King at g1 and the White Rook at f1.

Black castled, placing the Black King at c8 and the Black Rook at d8.

Geiger: white pawn to h3.

Black pawn to g7.

Mangone: White pawn to e5, capturing Black pawn.

Black pawn to e5, capturing White pawn.

Geiger: White Bishop to e3.

Black Bishop to g7.

Mangone: White Queen to e1.

Black Rook to d7.

Your move, Sun Region.

I can’t say I was surprised, but I was disappointed to lose again.

The endgame came after I moved the Black Rook to c8. Actually, the endgame began long before that.

Alois Geiger of Huntington Harbour moved the White Bishop to c8, capturing the Black Rook.

Black King to c8, capturing the Bishop. (If you’re going to go down, go down fighting.)

Paul Mangone of Seal Beach moved White Rook to e8, placing the Black King in Check.

Black King to b7.

Mangone: White Rook to e1.

Black Bishop to d4.

Mangone said he would Checkmate me in two moves. (Frankly, I was grateful for the swift execution. I’d expected a three or four turn wait.) Mangone moved White Rook to e7, Check.

Black King to a6.

Mangone: White Rook to a8, Checkmate.

Only one thing to do. Play another game.

Your move, Sun Region. But you knew that, didn’t you?

White is now winning the game. Unfortunately, I’m playing Black. I lost the initiative that I had regained at the end of our last installment.

I moved the Black Bishop to d8, placing the White King in Check. This was an attempt to regain my earlier advantage in the game. It didn’t work, but I stand by the decision.

Seal Beach’s Paul Mangone moved the White King to d2.

Black King to b8.

Huntington Harbour’s Alois Geiger moved the White pawn to b4.

Black pawn to f5.

Mangone: White Bishop to d3.

Black Bishop to g5, placing the White King in Check.

Mangone: White King to c3.

Black pawn to a5.

Old Town’s Matt Murphree moved the White Bishop to f5, capturing the White pawn.

Black Bishop to c6.

Geiger: White pawn to d5.

Black Bishop to f6.

Mangone: White King to b3.

Black Night to c5, placing the White King in Check. The Knight was now doomed to be captured, but it was the only way to save the Black Bishop from being captured by the enemy pawn. The rules require White to save the King. There were only two moves that could save the White King and the best of those would be to capture the Black Knight with a White pawn. It should not have come to that, but I allowed my Bishop to come under attack and the only way to save the Bishop was to sacrifice the Knight. Of the two, the Bishop was the most powerful piece and so it was a good trade off as far as it went.

However, the momentum now belonged to the other side.

Mangone: White pawn to c5, capturing the Black Knight. See? (The “material” advantage definitely goes to White in this game. White has more chessmen and more powerful chess men than Black has. Black’s chances are diminishing at this point.)

Black Bishop to a8, now safely out of the reach of the White pawn.

Geiger: White Rook to e1, threatening Black’s Rook. (In theory, I could have taken the White Rook—but then the other White Rook would have captured it. I can’t afford any more losses this game, so I had to preserve that chessman.)

Black Rook to c8.

Odds now heavily favor White. The Sun Region players must advance the forward most pawns slowly in order to defeat me. Mangone will take his time. I need to pick off the forward most pawns and avoid more losses. I can’t win this game without the two Bishops and the Rook. White would have a hard time winning without those three forward most pawns. But there are three pesky pawns at the far side of the board that could come into the game at any time.

Your move, Sun Region.

 

In war games like chess, the most important decisions are often the blunders. In my last report, I described how I threw away an excellent chance at victory with one blunder that allowed White (representing the Sun Region) to capture the Black Queen (my Queen).

Well, last week the Sun Region players failed to protect their Queen and the advantage has now shifted back to me.

When Game 8 began, Black chessmen were concentrated at the center of the board, most of Black’s chessmen were well developed and Black had partial control of the center. White had only developed the Queen. When I lost the Black Queen, White gained the initiative and I was in trouble. But, as I said, that has changed. Here’s what happened.

My last reported move was Black pawn to c6, capturing the White Knight. (See the blog at sunnews.org for details of the early part of this game.)

Alois Gieger of Huntington Habour moved the White Queen to c6, capturing the Black pawn.

Black Rook to c8.

Paul Mangone of Seal Beach, the best chess player I’ve encountered so far, moved the White Queen to a4.

Black Knight to b7.

Aubrey DeSouza of Orange moved White pawn to c4.

Black Rook to e8.

Geiger: White Bishop to d2.

Black Bishop to d7.

Mangone: White Bishop to a5.

Seal Beach businessman Matt Murphree moved White pawn to a4. I hate to say this because Murphree is a good friend and a smart man—smarter than I am in many ways—but this was a critical blunder. Why? Because I now had the Black Bishop positioned to attack the White Queen and no one playing for White had bothered to protect her.

I moved Black Bishop to a4, capturing the White Queen. The balance of power was shifting.

A player I won’t name out of kindness confused the White Bishop standing next to my Black Bishop with the White Queen and made an illegal move to capture my Bishop. This happened while I was on deadline and I didn’t discover the error until after the other player had left—or I would have given that person the chance to make a legal move. Instead, I put the two chessmen back in their proper places and waited for a Sun Region player to move a White chessman.

Geiger: White Bishop to c7, capturing the Black Rook. Bad for me—my chessmen are outnumbered and outgunned.

Black King to c7, capturing a White Bishop. I’m still outnumbered, but the enemy has suffered reduced firepower.

Geiger: White pawn to a3. This is obviously a prelude to an attack on my Black Bishop at a4—which prevents the White King from castling to the left. A White Bishop prevents the White King from castling to the right.

Black Bishop to d8, placing the White King in Check to the Black Rook at e8. That move won’t win the game, but the next Sun Region player can only make one of two legal moves to protect the King. That gives me a tactical advantage. You never want the other guy to decide what your options are.

Your move, Sun Region.

 

Having lost seven straight games playing White, I figured I should try playing Black. I couldn’t hurt, I thought.

Hasn’t helped so far, I don’t think.

I’m down six chessmen to the Sun Region’s three. I’ve lost my Queen, one Knight and four pawns. White, on the other hand, has lost two Knights and a pawn. The enemy is deep in my territory. I’ve lost the chance to castle, an important defensive tactic.

Huntington Harbour’s Alois Geiger opened the new game, moving the White pawn to e4.

Black Knight to f6.

Seal Beach’s Paul Mangone: White pawn to e5.

Black pawn to e4.

Geiger: White Queen to e2.

Black pawn to d5.

Mangone captured the pawn “en passant” (in passing,) moving the White pawn to d6.

Black Knight to d6.

Seal Beach’s Matt Murphree moved the White Knight to c3.

Black pawn to e5.

Geiger: White pawn to d3.

Black Bishop to f5.

Mangone: White Queen to e5, placing the Black King in Check.

Black Bishop to e7, protecting the King.

Geiger: White Queen to g7, capturing a pawn.

Black Rook to f8 in order to prevent the White Queen from capturing it.

Mangone: White Knight to f3.

Black pawn to c5.

Geiger: White Queen to e5, pinning the Black Bishop to the Black King.

Black Knight to C6, threatening the White Queen.

Mangone: White Queen to c5.

Black Queen to d7.

Murphree: White Knight to e5.

Black Queen to e6. At this point, the two sides were converging on horizontal row six. White’s King was (and remains) exposed to a frontal attack.

Then Mangone came into the Sun office. While he pondered his next move, Geiger also came in. The two men discussed their plans for the next two moves in the game.

Mangone: White Knight to b5.

Black pawn to f6. This was blunder. I was paying more attention to my plans than my adversary’s likely attack.

Geiger: White Knight to c7, placing the Black King in Check. It was a perfect “fork” maneuver. The White Knight threatened the King, the Queen and one Rook. The rules require me to save my King, so one of the other two pieces was doomed. The Queen is considered the most powerful piece on the board.

Black King to d8.

Mangone: White Knight to e6, capturing the Black Queen.

Black Bishop to e6, capturing the White Knight.

Geiger: White Knight to c6, capturing the Black Knight and placing the Black King in Check.

Black pawn to c6, capturing the White Knight.

The game isn’t over yet. White has massively damaged Black, but White has not deployed either of the two Rooks or either of the two Bishops.

I’ve got to launch an attack on White—and soon—if I want to regain the initiative and have a prayer of winning.

Your move, Sun Region

It’s almost over. Black hasn’t achieved checkmate yet, but things aren’t looking good for White.

Black has seven chessmen on the board. White has four. Black’s chessmen are well positioned to defend the Black King and attack the White King.

White’s forces are divided and vulnerable to attack.

At last report, I moved the White Rook to f1.

Alois Geiger of Huntington Harbour moved the Black Rook to g5, capturing a white pawn and placing the White King in check.

White King to h2.

Paul Mangone of Seal Beach moved the Black pawn to b6, protecting the Black Bishop from attack.

Mangone said White’s chance to win was gone. I think he’s right, but I’m not going to resign. He said there was a difference between quitting and resigning. Not to me there isn’t. Better to fail than to quit.

White Rook to d1.

Geiger: Black pawn to c3.

White Rook to h3.

Black Rook to f1, placing White King in check.

White Rook to g1.

Mangone: Black Rook to c2, capturing a pawn.

The loss of all those pawns has cost me dearly. Pawns may be promoted, but only if they survive to reach the other side of the board. With only one White pawn remaining on the board, that seems unlikely to happen.

White Rook to h5.

Geiger: Black King to c4.

White Rook to h4.

Geiger: Black Rook to d2.

White Rook to c1.

Mangone: Black pawn to c2.

White Rook to h7.

Now things get dicey. Black can afford to loose a chessman or two. I can’t. If Black moves the Rook to d1, the my King will be in check. I could move the White King and then see the Black Rook capture the White Rook. Or I could use the White Rook to capture the Black Rook, only to see the Black pawn capture the White Rook and then be promoted to a more powerful chess piece—most likely the Queen.

Then it’s pretty much over for me.

My only hope, and it is a mighty slim one, is that Black will opt to go for a quick kill by moving the Black pawn to d3. If that happens, White can move the Rook currently at h7 to c7, pinning the Black Bishop in place.

But if Black is willing to take time to destroy White, then I havn’t got a prayer.

I take comfort from this thought: Even if I lose this game, I can’t lose forever.

Your move, Sun Region.

 

Black has regained the advantage in the game. However, it is too soon to predict a defeat for White—although with six defeats preceding this game, it would be perfectly reasonable to make that prediction.

At the end of my last blog, I wrote that I moved the White Bishop to f4, capturing the Black Knight—and standing in the shadow of another Black Knight.

The move was high-risk, because the chessman was placed in extreme danger of capture during the endgame. However, the alternative would have been to leave a White Rook under attack by the other side.

Seal Beach’s Paul Mangone moved the Black Knight to f4, capturing the White Bishop.

(It was the obvious move to make.)

White Rook to f4, capturing the Black Knight. (This was another obvious move to make.)

Mangone: Black pawn to g5, capturing a White pawn. (With both sides playing at less than half-strength, neither side can really afford any losses. A pawn can be promoted if it survives the journey to the far side of the chess board.)

White pawn to g5, capturing Black pawn.

Mangone: Black pawn to c4.

White pawn to a4.

The next day, Mangone said this was a blunder I my part. He said I should have placed the White Rook next to the Black Bishop located at f8. That would have pinned the Black Bishop to the Black Rook, reducing Black’s mobility.

That’s true, but I was concerned that the move would also reduce the mobility of the White Rook, so I passed on an obvious opportunity.

Mangone: Black Bishop to c5.

White Rook to h6, placing the Black King in Check.

Huntington Harbour’s Alois Geiger moved Black King to d5.

White Rook to f56, placing Black King in Check.

Mangone: Black Rook to e5, blocking the Check—and threatening the White Rook.

White Rook to f1. I had to make this move to protect that Rook—but now the two Rooks are spread far apart and the King is vulnerable to an attack by Black’s remaining Bishop. In effect, I’ve retreated into my own territory. Why? I’m worried about the two forward most Black pawns. If only one of them reaches my side of the board, Black gains a Queen and I am in serious trouble. However, in protecting my White Rook I have exposed my pawn at g5 to attack—and that White pawn is the one White pawn with a realistic chance of reaching the other side—a move that would give me a serious advantage.

Everything depends on what Black does next. And that depends on whether the next player to move for the Sun Region is Mangone, Geiger or someone else.

To win, White must regain the initiative, prevent a single Black pawn from reaching the “a” row of the board (the bottom row on the graphic) and pick off Black’s chessmen.

Your move, Sun Region.