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?

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?

 

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

 

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.

The Black King is in Check, placing Black on the defensive.

At last report, Huntington Harbour’s Alois Geiger had moved the Black Queen to f7, capturing the White Knight.

I castled, placing the White Rook at f1 and the White King at g1. Now I was poised to get a Rook into the game and start attacking. This is usually where I get into trouble.

Geiger: Black Queen to h5, capturing the White Queen.

I moved the White Knight to h5, capturing the Black Queen.

The move opened up the board and left the center open for whoever could claim it. My victory was, however, expensive in that it cost me one of my most powerful pieces. The fact the opposition paid the same price was small consolation.

Geiger: Black Bishop to f8.

White Rook to e1.

Seal Beach’s Paul Mangone: Black pawn to d6.

White Bishop to d2.

Mangone: Black Bishop to e6.

White pawn to e5.

Geiger: Black pawn to e5.

White Rook to e5, capturing Black pawn.

Geiger: Black King to d7.

White Rook to d2.

Mangone: Black Knight to c7.

White Rook to e4.

Mangone: Black pawn to c5.

White pawn to f4.

Geiger: Black Bishop to g4.

White pawn to h4.

Geiger: Black pawn to f4, capturing White pawn.

White Rook to f4, capturing pawn and threatening the Black Bishop. (Unfortunately, this move also left the White Knight under attack from the Black Bishop.)

Mangone: Black Bishop to h5, capturing the White Knight. (See?)

White Rook to h5, capturing the Black Bishop.

Mangone: Black Rook to e8, shoring up the defense of the Black King and protecting the remaining Black Bishop.

White Rook to f7, placing the Black King in Check. Black is on the defensive and isn’t yet in a position to attack my barely protected King. (I mean, really, one pawn is hardly any protection.) But I have to move with caution and Black can afford a mistake or two. I can’t. Just two wrong moves and I will be unable to do anything except postpone a defeat.

But while the game is now mine to lose, it is definitely a game.
Your move, Sun Region.

Right now, the Black and White queens are staring at each other. Each can capture the other—but will then be captured in turn by the opposition. Here’s how that came about.

At the end of the last installment, I said I moved white pawn to e4.

Seal Beach’s Paul Mangone moved Black Bishop to c5.

I moved White pawn to d4, threatening the Black Bishop and the Black pawn.

Mangone: Black Bishop to c5.

White pawn to d4, threatening a Black Bishop.

Mangone: Black pawn to d4, capturing White pawn.

I moved White Knight to d5, a defensive move that may have cost me momentum.

Mangone: Black pawn to h6. White pawn to b4.

Hungtington Harbour’s Alois Geiger, winner of game 6, moved Black Bishop to c5, capturing another White pawn.

White Bishop to c4.

Mangone: Black pawn to c6, threatening the White Knight.

White pawn to a3, threatening the Black Knight. (This was a delaying tactic on my part.)

Geiger: Black Knight to a6.

White Knight to e5.

Geiger: Black Knight to a6.

White Knight to e5.

Geiger: Black Rook to h7.

White Knight to f4.

Geiger: Black pawn to g5, threatening the White Knight.

I then moved the White Queen to h5, threatening the Black pawn at f7. This was a risky move—if you bring in your Queen too early, she could be captured by the enemy.

Gieger: Black Queen to f6.

White Bishop to f7, placing the Black King in check. This was partly a diversion to protect my Knight from immediate danger.

Mangone: Black Rook to f7, capturing the White Bishop and rescuing the Black King.

I had expected something like that. I moved White Knight to f7, capturing the Black Rook.

Geiger: Black Queen to f7, capturing the White Knight.

The Black Queen now threatens the White Queen, but if the Black Queen captured the White, then the White Knight could capture the Black Queen. The Black Queen can’t capture the White Knight in its current position because that would expose the Black King to check.

Conventional wisdom holds that losing a Queen is bad—she really is the most powerful piece on the board, being much more mobile than the King. However, Black has more chessmen overall than I do and has lost only one other significant piece, a Rook. All in all, Black could afford to “trade” a Queen for a Queen.

Me, I’m in a much more vulnerable position. (Gee, so what else is new?) I know what I want to do in terms of attacking the opposition. The question is, what will Black do next? I’ll have to wait and see. If I lose my Queen … well, I’ll take the Black Queen off the board and then decide on my next move. If Black doesn’t try to take my Queen … well, I have a couple of moves in mind.

Your move, Sun Region.

 

It’s on again.

The new game began on Monday, Jul 2, with a move by White (your all too frequently humbled chess servant Charles), with Knight to c3.

Seal Beach’s Paul Mangone moved Black pawn to e4.

White Knight to f3. This wasn’t really part of a grand strategy on my part. I simply want to move as many strong chessmen as possible as quickly as possible and the Knights are the only chessmen that can jump over other chessmen—which means I don’t have to maneuver my pawns just to get them out of the way of my Knights.

Huntington Harbour’s Alois Gieger, who graciously posed for his victory picture for the previous game, moved a Black Knight to c6. I don’t know if he planned it or not, but that little move complicated a plan I was forming to attack the pawn at f7. (When I can’t attack the King, I frequently plot an attack on the King’s nearest neighbor. Given I’ve lost six games in a row, the effectiveness of this approach is questionable.)

I moved white pawn to e4.

Your move, Sun Region.

I lost again, but I can’t say I mind.

At the end, it was a single move by a pawn that brought my King down. Alois Gieger of Huntington Harbour delivered the fatal blow. The move, delivered early afternoon on Monday, July 2, concluded a brutal week on the chessboard. Both sides lost chessmen as the end drew near. Here’s how it played out:

When I last reported on the game, I had moved White King to d1. The White King is positioned near a potential escape route and covered by the White Rook at h1, which threatened the entire “h” row.

Monday, June 25. Seal Beach’s Matt Murphree moved Black Knight to d3.

White Queen to d3, capturing Black Knight.

Seal Beach’s Paul Mangone: Black Rook to d2, capturing White Bishop and placing White King in Check.

White King to d2, capturing Black Rook.

Alois Geiger came in and moved Black Bishop to f4, a “fork” that threatened both the White King and the White Rook.
White King to c2.

Geiger: Black Bishop to g5, capturing the White Rook.

White pawn to g6, capturing the Black pawn.

Mangone: Black pawn to h6.

White Rook to f1. This may have been a fatal mistake. At the time, however, I felt it was my best shot at victory.

Geiger: Black Queen to h2, placing White King in Check.

White King to c3.

Geiger: Black Bishop to f6.

White King to b3.

Mangone: Black Queen to a2, capturing White pawn and placing White King in Check.

White King to b4.

Monday, July 2. Geiger: Black pawn to a5, placing White King in Check. As you can see from the illustration, there was no place for the White King to go.

It appeals to my sense of irony to see a pawn bring down a King. (I dislike monarchy, period.) I would have preferred to see the other side’s King fall to my pawn, but if I had to lose I’m glad I lost this way.

There’s only one thing to do when you lose a chess game. Start another. So you’ll excuse me while I set up the board for Chess with Charles 7.

We have entered the endgame.

On Monday, June 18,m Alois Geiger of Huntington Harbour moved the Black Rook to g8. I moved my white Pawn to h4. The pawns have played an interesting role in this game—not inflicting damage so much as creating or thwarting opportunities for the more “important” chessmen to attack the other side.

Seal Beach’s Paul Mangone moved the Black Rook to e8. I moved White pawn to h5.

Mangone: Black Knight to h5, capturing the White pawn.

White Rook to h1.

Geiger moved Black Bishop to g4.

White Rook to g4, capturing the Black Bishop.

Geiger: Black pawn to f4.

White Rook to g5.

Geiger: Black Rook to g7. The action was shifting to the right side of the board (my right, anyway), rather than the center.

White pawn to g4, threatening the Black Knight. Black’s Knight, a Rook and several pawns posed potential threats to my plans to attack the Black King with two Rooks. So far, the plan has not been executed and efforts to move pesky obstacles have only cost me chessmen.

Mangone moved the Black pawn to f3, threatening the White Knight. My options: rescue the Knight or continue my attack, leaving Knight to almost certain doom.

White Bishop to g6, capturing a Black pawn. Geiger: Black pawn to g7, taking a White Bishop.

White pawn to h5, taking a Black Knight.

Mangone: Black Rook to e2, placing the White King in check. This was not a fatal attack, but it took the initiative away from White. You always want your moves to be based on your plans, not the other guy’s plans.

White King to d1. I couldn’t attack the Black Rook, much as I’d like to, because it is protected by a Black pawn. However, the White King is now positioned near a potential escape route and covered by the White Rook at h1, which is threatening the entire “h” row.

This game could go either way, but I’m down more “material” than Black is. The Sun Region has lost two pawns, a Knight and a Bishop. I have lost five pawns, a Bishop and two Knights. My King has virtually no protection. The center of the board belongs to no one—which means it belongs to the enemy.

If I win, it will be a close contest and I’ll likely lose two or three more chessmen before it happens. If i lose more than three chessmen, I’ll be doomed. Black can afford to suffer a few loses and still bring home a victory.

Your move, Sun Region