Friday, March 21, 2008

Polgar Error

I was going over some of the basic endgames from L. Polgar's Chess: 5334 Problems, Combinations, and Games. The book's analysis for Position #5113 is incorrect: Black surprisingly can draw!

White To Play

The provided solution is 1.e8=Q, followed by 1...e1=Q(?) 2.Kf6+ and White wins.

However, Black has a surprising draw if instead they play 1...Ke3!:

At this point, I'd like to quote from Muller and Lamprecht's Fundamental Chess Endings: "If {a single pawn} has advanced to the seventh rank and is threatening to promote, everything depends on whether the attacking king can assist the queen. With a central pawn, this is almost always possible, no matter how far away the king is." I briefly touched on these endgames in this earlier post.

Here we have an exception to this "almost always" rule. It turns out that White has an unfortunate placement of king and queen. For example, 2.Kf5+ Kf2!

Black's king hides in the shadow of White's, and supports the pawn's promotion. The queen lacks any move that prevents Black from obtaining their own queen (e.g. by delivering check or by pinning the pawn to the king).

I've been entering endgame positions for books into databases. One reason is that I can later play these positions vs. the computer and practice my endgame technique. Another reason is that I can explore variations not mentioned in the books to make sure I understand the positions thoroughly. However, here we can see one final benefit, especially if you have endgame tablebases at your disposal: you can find errors in old analysis and learn new tricks.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Help Finding Pocket Set Replacement

I bought this pocket set off of the USCF web site sometime around 1995:

I still have all the pieces, which for me is some sort of miracle. However the plastic case is cracking and I'm not sure how much longer it will last.

I'm calling out to the community for help in either identifying a supplier for this pocket set, or the nearest equivalent. Here is what I find special about this set:

  • The board is metal, not vinyl.
  • The board does not fold.
  • The board can be held comfortably in one hand.
  • The magnets are very strong. There's no chance at all of the position being lost in transit.
  • A plastic lid snaps on with magnets, protecting the pieces in transit.
  • The set is thin... roughly 5 mm. Almost thin enough to act as a bookmark:

The only negative thing I can think of is that there is limited room to place pieces not in play. If I'm in the middle of a game and want to save it, I have to creatively place the pieces so that they avoid the spots where the lid's magnets touch the board.

My backup set is a metal case set I grabbed at Starbucks. However, the board is hinged, so there's a barrier wall that runs between the 4th and 5th ranks. The files also don't quite match up where the hinge is, and I find the slight offset a bit distracting. Finally, the magnets aren't as strong as I'd like.

This is your mission, dear readers. Can anyone tell me who the maker of my set was, and if it can still be found? Or, does anyone know of a pocket set that would be a worthy replacement?

Fly, my monkeys! Fly!

Thursday, March 6, 2008



Edit: Wow, three responses!

I was trying to use the new remote blogging tool for Blogger, and thought I had failed at a test message from my new phone. Didn't check to verify the fail though.

The pictures that I tried to send from my phone will be in my followup post.