Position No. 6138: White mates in three

Solution to Position No. 6137: 1.f7! Rxa6+ 2.Nf6 Ra8 3.Ne8 Ra6+ 4.Kg5 [avoiding K-f5,R-a1-f1] Ra5+ 5.Kg4 Ra4+ 6.Kg3 Ra3+ 7.Kf2 Ra2 8.Ke3 Ra3+ 9.Ke4 Ra4+ 10.Ke5 Ra5+ 11.Ke6 Ra6+ 12.Kd7 Ra7+ 13.Nc7 The pawn queens.

It was only a few decades back that chess was an adult game. Tournaments and clubs did not contain (or even much welcome) the presence of teens or below. The U.S. Chess Federation membership rolls reflected that fact. After all, it was common sense to think that chess was a mature activity requiring years of experience, extreme patience, planning skills and other attributes that kids just did not possess.

Those days are over. In the past 20 years, kids have been overtaking adults in numbers and even embarrassing them in head-to-head competitions. Well over half of the USCF membership is now younger than 21. Youths are so highly rated that some even qualify almost every year to play in the closed U.S. Championship. Until his recent birthday, Magnus Carlsen, the world’s top-ranked player for most of this last year, was a teenager, one of the highest-rated players ever.

Today’s chess kids command respect. In last week’s National Grades Championship, for instance, 46 of them were nationally rated Experts by the U.S. Chess Federation and seven had even attained the rank of master. Above all of them, though, is 16-year-old Ray Robson of Florida, an official grandmaster. Tournament organizers invited him to hold a simultaneous exhibition during the event rather than compete. When he was awarded the prestigious title just before turning 15, he set a record: the youngest U.S. player to become a grandmaster, including Bobby Fischer.

Kids capture national titles

Dozens of Golden State grade-schoolers competed last weekend at the National Grades Championship held at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The tournament attracted more than 1,300 competitors from 43 states to vie for national titles and trophies. After seven rounds of mental battling over a three-day period, several California youths managed to outscore all of their fellows to win their individual grade titles: Vincent Huang (11th grade), University High in Irvine; Cameron Wheeler (fifth grade), Regnart Elementary in Cupertino; Josiah Stearman (second grade), Valhalla Elementary in Pleasant Hills; and Joaquin Perkins (first grade), Oneota Montessouri in Alhambra. Standing out amongst the school three-person teams was Regnart Elementary, which took first in the fifth-grade competition. Team members were Wheeler, Udit Iyengar and Pranav Srihari. For a complete list of the tournament team and individual prizewinners see: http://www.uschess.org/tournaments/2010/k12/.

Major youth events

By the way, national championships exist now for every level of youth play, and most are open to anyone who can play. The National Elementary will be held next May in Dallas; the National Junior High in Columbus, Ohio, in April; and the National High School Championships in Nashville, Tenn., in April. They all offer all chess kids a chance to compete both individually and for their schools. Check out http://www.uschess.org for fliers and sign-up information.

Kids think creatively

As a tournament director, I once observed two pre-teens arguing during a game. One had touched a rook pawn, changed her mind, and moved a center pawn instead. I instructed her on the touch-move rule. When I told her that she would have to move the rook pawn, she just smiled and immediately interchanged it with the center pawn, which she then proceeded to move.

Game of the week

Ray Robson-John Fedorowicz, World Open, King of Prussia, Pa., July 2, 2010:

Robson has developed a straightforward nonstop attacking style as shown in this encounter with one of America’s longtime grandmasters.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 (A) 4.Nxd4 e6 5.Nc3 Qc7 6.Be3 a6 (B) 7.Qd2 Nf6 8.f3 b5 9.O-O-O Ne5 10.g4 h6 11.h4 b4 12.Na4 d5 13.Be2 Bd7 14.g5 Nh5 15.exd5 Bxa4 16.dxe6 Ng3 17.Rhe1 hxg5 18.hxg5 Nxe2+ 19.Qxe2 Rh2(C) 20.Bf2 Be7 21.f4 b3 22.axb3 Bb5 23.Qe4 Rd8 24.exf7+ Nxf7 25.Bg1 (D) Rxd4 26.Rxd4 Rh4 27.Qa8+ (E) 1-0

A) Black likes to attack also and chooses the Sicilian, a favorite of Fischer and Kasparov. B) Many variations in this opening consist of pawn pushes against kings that are castled on opposite sides. The race now begins. C) Taking the rook loses the queen (…Nd3+) Note that both players have gambled on a complex tactical struggle, but white’s calculations prevail. D) Suddenly white is winning. E) If 27. …Nd8, Rde4 finishes the game.