Newsletter: Vol. 4 No.1 December 2013

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For the Love of the Game:

Joseph Zeltsan of SAR and his Coach Vitaly Zaltsman


Vitaly Zaltsman(88K)

The last time I remember seeing it was at a tournament in NYC four years ago. It was during the medals ceremony after a full day of very intense matches. Students were collecting their medals and trophies and I came over and chatted with a top student player. His dad came over and joined us and suddenly the student looked at his dad and said “Hey Dad how about a game of chess. Just for fun.” And so at the end of a full days tournament, after finishing in the top three of his section, a game started at the rear of the final trophy ceremony “just for fun”. “Wow”, I thought as I watched the two set up and play, “that kid really loves chess.”


Magnus Carlsen, The Mozart of Chess?


With a first name that means “great” and is shared among 6 Norwegian Kings, Magnus Carlsen, the world’s number one highest ranked chess player is only 22. In a sport where child prodigies and genius at a young age occurs more often than in other sports/games, Carlsen continues to break age-related chess records.

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He became an international master (IM) at 11 and the second-youngest grandmaster (GM) achieving the title when he was 13. His rating continued
to rise after shattering more records when he was 17, becoming the first player to achieve a 2700 rating . In January 2010, at the age of 19, he became the youngest player to be ranked number one. His rating today is 2837.


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Reti’s Endgame Problem: Chess“Multitasking”


91 years ago the great Jewish Hungarian chess player Richard Reti published one of the most famous chess puzzles ever created.Known as the “Reti Endgame Study,” the problem is set up simply with single pawns and kings on the board.
Though it looks easy, Reti’s ideas are complex. His puzzle is one of the best examples of how pieces can become extremely powerful


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Richard Reti 1889-1929

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when they “ multitask” or can be used in two or more different strategies.
As shown on the left, the problem is for white to move first and draw.
The solution here is based on the idea that the white King can multitask well or be used for two purposes at the same time. White moves .rst its king and depending on black’s reaction, stays on a diagonal path that allows it to EITHER defend its pawn on c6 allowing it to promote or prevent the black pawn on h5 from promoting.
The three main paths both players can choose are shown below.
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In all of these solutions, white moves first and then follows a diagonal so that it can when necessary, cause a draw. Traveling along diagonals, the white King can easily access the area on the board involving promotion of his queen, and at the same time police the area in the opposite corner to prevent black’s pawn from promoting.

For example in the first solution “Race to the End”, white still addresses both issues of protecting his pawn and preventing
the black pawn from promoting, by staying on the diagonal until his third move when he abruptly breaks off to promote his own pawn and achieve the draw.


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The Famous Giuoco Piano Trap


Opening traps are fascinating because they require very little knowledge, yet they can enable you to win quickly against a much stronger player…provided they don’t know the trap also.

Here we have the standard opening
moves of a basic
Giuoco Piano opening.
1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bc4 Nd4
Black makes a very strange move
violating the opening principal
of moving the same piece twice.
Black’s e pawn is hanging as
well…or is it?
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4. Nxe5? White goes for the free pawn and falls immediately for the trap! This move looks so good for white
because it wins the center pawn and attacks the f7 square for a second time. If you have never seen this trap, it
is very easy to fall for.
4. …. Qg5 Black violates another opening principle of moving the queen out early, but traps have a life of their
own! The queen makes a double attack on the Knight on e5 and the pawn on g2.

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If 5. Ng4 then
black plays 5. …
d5 with discovered
attack against
the knight on g4
and white must
lose the knight or
the bishop on c4.

5. Nxf7 Qxg2
6. Rf1 Qxe4+
7. Be2
Can you find
checkmate for black?

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7. …Nf3# White’s bishop on e2 is pinned and white is checkmated in a commonly known checkmate called the
smothered mate! 7. …Nxc2+ was winning also, but not as strong as checkmate.

Of course, white could have traded knights on move 4 and black would have had nothing to show for his play. But
traps are based upon greed. Players love to steal the material…the juicy pawn on e4 in this case. Don’t be greedy…
and you will not lose quickly!

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The Oldest Game


Though newspapers and TV news can be full of scary stories, this summer the news changed as writers and reporters
covered the summer Olympics in London. How is it possible, I thought while watching Usain Bolt set a world record
in the 100 meter sprint, that runners keep getting better and better each Olympics as the winning times continue to fall?
Of course the athletes get better by working harder and putting their discipline to the goal of an Olympic medal every
four years but also technology is a big help. From the shoes to the types of body suits swimmers wear, to the design
of the tracks and pools, new technology allows players of the same ability to stand out, win, and set new records every
four years.

Chess is similar in that technology has helped child prodigies become grandmasters at a younger age. The internet
has had a tremendous effect on top level players but also on newcomers to the game as information on recently played
games and on how to improve is easily available almost everywhere and at any time. Games played by top players
today are much more complicated than those played one hundred years ago.

Going even further back, the very first chess games (following
mostly modern rules) were fairly simple as higher level strategies and even many common tactics were unknown. We see this in the earliest recorded chess game nearly 550 years ago, a match explained by Francesc de Castellvi, Bernat Fenollar, and Narcis de Vinyoles.

These three men recorded a chess game which follows most of our major current rules on how the pieces move. They were poets and chessplayers, with their poetry published in the first printed book in Spain by Lambertus Pamert, printed in 1474. In 1475 Castellvi, Fenollar, and Vinyoles wrote a poem called Scachs D’Amour (Chess of Love} which has the earliest game in its words and as part of its 64 verses.

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The game, shown below in its final position (Checkmate just delivered), has many errors and would today be considered
a beginner’s game as both sides fail to castle, and black is forced \to exchange knights for bishops and rooks.

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Perhaps the biggest mistake is simply not seeing ahead to prevent checkmate. So, why are there so many blunders in this game? Probably because there was no such thing as blunders yet, the word had not even been invented. It’s the same reason why in 1900 the fastest men’s 100m sprint time was 11 seconds. Chess is so old that 550 years ago the game was new and fresh. There was no internet to read chess columns and share games and chess knowledge with people in countries thousands of miles away. We should be thankful for this technology, not take it for granted yet at the same time focus on what really matters in chess, the ideas in every game which can make chess beautiful and exciting.

Reti’s Endgame Puzzle (Continued From Page 2)

The key here is to have each move of the white king address both issues. By “multitasking” efficiently white can draw in every situation. Reti’s puzzle provides us with another example of chess imitating life. Though Reti probably did not intend it, his puzzle is a good example for us to consider today. The efficiency of the puzzle is due to its multitasking
ability. For parents and students, outside of chess, success in life can be also connected how well we multitask or “juggle” activities.

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Joseph Zeltsan

( Continued From Page 1)

I had the same feeling on a sticky and humid Sunday evening in August when I took a few subways out of Manhattan to Midwood to meet Joseph Zeltsan, an SAR Academy student who just .nished .fth grade and his coach IM Vitaly Zaltsman. Joseph, who started chess through Tri-State Chess’ curricular and after school chess, was one of our program’s rising stars.
After a series of chess lessons, over the past year and a half, Zeltsan’s USCF rating is now close to 1600. At the end of his school year, he also .nished second in overall in the Tri-State Chess Grand Prix competition behind Michael Levinson. This earned him a prize of $350 which could be used towards the purchase of chess books and equipment from The Chess Exchange store on East 88th street in Manhattan. More importantly was his reputation as SAR’s top player. With a great sense of humor, a maturity more akin to a freshman in high school and a knack for higher-level strategic thinking in chess, Joseph was known to his chess teachers as an unusually gifted chess talent.
“He wanted to study with me” said his classroom chess coach, Tri-State Chess Instructor Mike Karon, after one of his many conversations following their after school classes at SAR. “But I knew right away he was a special talent so I told him I cannot teach you, I am not the
right teacher for you and referred him to Vitaly Zaltsman,” an international master who is one of the top chess coaches in America.
“Come sit down”. Vitaly, a true gentleman , who looks and thinks much younger than his 70+ years greeted me warmly and I said hello to Joseph and his mom who taught him chess and is his biggest fan. The .rst thing I noticed was there was no board or pieces out.
“We played all day and even I am exhausted. Joseph replied in Russian in what I thought was agreemen “Oh no, he can play forever this kid he just doesn’t get tired.” Joseph replied again in Russian. Yes, as Joseph’s parents are immigrants, Joseph speaks Russian mostly with Vitaly. Despite the many decades separating each other, Vitaly and Joseph have a similar sense of humor and get along genuinely with mutual respect between them.
“So this is how we work.” Vitaly was ready to get down to business. We started at 11. “We went over a very beautiful game from Biel” (the 46th International Chess Festival in Switzerland).

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Magnus & Mozart

( Continued From Page 1)

Magnus is now is now old enough to have several lucrative endorsements, including a modeling contract that takes advantage of his famous scowl. His income from endorsements alone is said to be in excess of $1.5 million/year.
In 2004, in the Washington Post, International Master Lubomir Kavalek called Carlsen the Mozart of chess. Since then the phrase has been popularized and taken up by the press. So is it a good comparison?
Mozart of course was born at a di.erent time 1756 or 257 years ago. He learned music from his father Leopold Mozart who took him around the courts of Europe to perform at a very young age. Magnus was steered into serious chess when his family moved to Reykjavik, Iceland a chess loving nation
where Fischer defeated Spassky in 1972. Magnus travels a majority of the year now also with his father, an engineer, who like Leopold is his constant companion.
Mozart played harpsichord when he was only 3 and could play the piano and read music by the age of 5. He started composing when he was 6 and wrote his .rst symphony two years later at age 8. Magnus though started learning chess rather late for a child genius. He .rst started playing when he was 8.
Magnus has an amazing mind and memory and has an encyclopedia of games, positions, moves, and strategies he draws on. Mozart too had an amazing mind and memory and was able to compose many of his most famous and complex multiple line works almost as perfect music. Many Mozart original handwritten autograph scores or manuscripts are completely clean or without the typical composers’ mistakes, edits, and scribbles. He created some of his greatest works perfectly all in his head without the need for corrections.
Magnus Carlsen is currently the world chess champion !

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Joseph Zeltsan

( (Continued From Previous Page)

We saw how the game was won. We really focused on how.” He was here joking about Wang Hao (pronounced HOW) the young prodigy who won the grandmaster section of the tournament against players like Carlsen and Nakamura.

“Joseph is a special player. But he has holes and these need to be filled in.” I had to ask a question about tournaments, after all Zaltsman knew and had played in tournaments himself against a wide range of famous players like Korchnoi, Reshevsky, and Benko. But I did not see a clock. “What about tournaments. Do you use and teach with a clock?” “No, he is not really ready” was the reply.

“So we look at games then we play each other, slowly, very slowly, move by move and then we focus on the endgame-you know both Tal and Kasparov had weaknesses in the endgame.” “We do exercises, King vs. Queen, King with Rooks and Pawns. We practice and it is hard work.
You know chess requires hard work, discipline and memorizing too. We usually finish around this time.”

I looked at my watch. It was 6:50. Joseph spied a friend at another table and jumped up “I’ll be back” he said. “OK I think we are done.” Vitaly said. The three of us, Joseph’s Mom, myself, and Vitaly chatted about the park, its proximity to Edward Murrow High School, a Brooklyn public school with a long history of chess dominance at a national level. Suddenly Joseph was back. “We are going to play a bit OK Mom?” “Hey, it’s time to go.” his
Mom insisted, “So, say goodbye and let’s hit the road. “Oh man,” Joseph walked back to his friend.

“See, he just loves chess.” Vitaly said. Taking in all that I had seen and what Vitaly had told me, I thought to myself, the source of rare kids like Joseph’s success must be more complex. What is more important the inborn
personality or talent or the influence of the outside environment made up of family, teachers and friends?
For it is every teacher’s dream to get kids to love learning.
Joseph clearly had both, the nature, talent, personality
and the maturity, and a great teacher who was a perfect fit for him. Yet most kids don’t have either and that is the challenge, to give them at least one, the right environment. By watching and recognizing strong teaching, focusing on the old-fashioned techniques that work, discipline, and even memorization, we can create great players and more kids who just “love chess”.

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Perhaps continuing the comparison in this way doesn’t really help decide whether the comparison is just. But the core of what makes chess special and what makes music too so powerful, what makes both of them art, are simply the great ideas. And here the comparison is a good one.

Kavalek made the Mozart remark after after looking at Magnus’ amazing endgame from the 2004 game Carlsen vs.
Ernst in Wijk aan Zee. Kavalek compares the sacri.ces and beautiful .nal checkmate to Fischer vs. Byrne in 1956.
Fischer was also 13 when he played his famous game. The end of the game and .nal checkmate, all “composed” by
Magnus are shown below:

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Private Chess Lessons

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It is possible to become a strong player by studying independently complimented by participating in a scholastic chess program. However, most of the players who .nish at the top of their sections at scholastic chess tournaments are taking weekly lessons with a chess coach. In fact, more than 80% of trophy winners at Nationals (top 25) are taking lessons with a chess master or other highly quali.ed instructor.

One of the best ways to improve your game is to bring the score of your tournament games to your chess coach and have them analyze the game with you. To go over the moves of the game and see where your mistakes were and to see how you could have improved is of paramount importance. Depending upon your level, instructors will also help you to develop an opening repertoire, as well as to provide specialized endgame training

At Tri-State Chess, our sta. of highly experienced and well trained instructors are teaching after school and curricular chess programs at over 20 schools throughout the Greater NY area. These are the same coaches that are available for private lessons.

Standard rates for one of our instructors to come to your home for a weekly one hour lesson start at $80. Senior instructors
with more experience and proven results have rates that are slightly higher at $100-$120/hr. We also have instructors who have
developed many individual and National Championship Teams. They are charging $150.

We special rates of $60/hr. for students who take the lesson in our store in Manhattan at
325 East 88th Street between 1st and 2nd avenue.

It is not necessary to sign up for a package of lessons in advance. You can try out a lesson and see if you like it and pay as you
go. If the instructor is not the right .t, you can try a di.erent one next time, and you can cancel at any time without obligations.
For best results it is suggested to take lessons weekly. Players who are very serious should take a 1 ½ -2 hour lessons weekly, or twice a week.

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1 Italian name for strong bishop position in center of triangle of 3 pawns.
2 A straight line attack or capture of a less valuable piece which can not move be
cause doing so would expose a more valuable piece behind it.
3 Number of points a player has at the beginning of the game.
4 A straight line attack to a more valuable piece, which moves to avoid capture and
exposes behind it a less valuable piece which can be taken.
5 Number of pawns white has at the start.


1 One of the best defensive moves Do it early.
2 Best piece to use to make a fork.
3 Total number of queens one could have in a game.


Use a dark pen to fill in all the pink squares of the
chessboard black hole in outer space.

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