International Chess Day

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Saturday, July 20th, is International Chess Day. Share why you love chess or what chess means to you, along with a photo, with the hashtag #InternationalChessDay. International Chess Day 2019 is also the 95th anniversary of FIDE, the World Chess Federation. FIDE has an agreement with Nielsen to research the marketability of chess. If you complete the survey, you can enter into a drawing to win a two-hour online masterclass with former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik. SparkChess is mentioned at 23% into the survey – so vote for us!

Click on the graphic above to be taken directly to the FIDE survey
I love chess because it is a lifetime sport – WIM Alexey Root

I love chess because it is a lifetime sport. I enjoy searching for moves in chess positions as much now as when I started playing in tournaments at age nine. Although #InternationalChessDay suggests including a photo of your playing chess as a child or of your holding your first chess trophy, I am choosing a photo of my playing chess recently, in my fifties. I’m one of about 160 women ages 50 and older playing US Chess-rated tournament games over this past year. 160 compares to tens of thousands playing US Chess-rated games annually. Perhaps photos of older women playing chess have value, to show that chess can be age-diverse and to encourage senior women to play chess.

My most recent tournament was the Second Annual Queen City of the Prairie Open on July 13, 2019. I played in this year’s tournament and in the inaugural version last year to support the Reed family, founders of the Alliance Chess Club. But this year, the Reeds were not there in person, as they were assisting at the 3rd FIDE World Junior Chess Championship for the Disabled. Here is a photo of Wendy Reed, US Chess Women’s Program Director Jennifer Shahade, and Louis A. Reed Jr. in the tournament room at that championship, held near Philadelphia.

Wendy Reed, Jennifer Shahade, and Louis-Reed
Wendy Reed, Jennifer Shahade, and Louis Reed

Root’s sacrifice

For the 2019 Queen City of the Prairie Open, I took a half-point BYE for round 1, so I wouldn’t have to arrive in Fort Worth, Texas by 9:30 a.m. In round 2, I won as Black against Christopher Wood (rated 1279). In round 3, I won a fun game against George Dai. See if you can find my sacrifice on move 19.

[pgn][Event “2nd Queen City of the Prairie”]
[Site “?”]
[Date “2019.07.13”]
[Round “3”]
[White “Root, Alexey”]
[Black “Dai, George”]
[Result “0-1”]
[ECO “E11”]
[WhiteElo “2000”]
[BlackElo “1760”]
[PlyCount “67”]
[EventDate “2019.??.??”]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. c4 Bb4+ 4. Bd2 Qe7 5. a3

{I played 5. a3 because I really wanted the chance to play e4. I was counting on 5….Bxd2 6. Nxd2 and then, unless Black played 6….d5 I would get to play 7. e4.}

Bxd2+ 6. Nbxd2 O-O 7. e4

{My dream of playing e4 has come true. The computer evaluates the position as equal, which perhaps is not anything to brag about since I’m
playing White. But I feel comfortable playing my position, as it’s easy to see
what to do next (such as developing my B from f1 and castling kingside).}

d6 8. e5

{I was excited to gain space with e5. Now when I develop my B to d3, it is
aiming at h7 and Black’s castled king.}

dxe5 9. dxe5 Nfd7 10. Bd3 Nc6 11. Qe2

{This move is forced to defend my e5-pawn. I am happy to play it, too, as maybe my Q will go to e4 and threaten checkmate on h7.}

Nc5 12. Bc2 a5 13. Ne4 Rd8 14. Nxc5 Qxc5 15. Qe4

{I am threatening h7, though it would be a check not a checkmate if I capture that pawn.}

g6 16. Qh4

{I like my attack, though the computer evaluates the position as completely equal if Black plays 16….Rd7.}

b6 17. O-O Ba6

{Suddenly the computer gives White a two-pawn advantage. 17….
Ba6 is too slow, allowing White’s attack to happen almost unhampered.}

18. Ng5 h5 {[#] Can you find the sacrifice I played for my 19th move?}

19. Nxf7

(19. Bxg6 fxg6 20. Nxe6 {was something I also considered, but it did not seem as strong as what I chose to play.})

19… Kxf7 20. Qf6+ Kg8 21. Qxe6+ Kg7 22. Qxg6+ Kf8 23. Qf6+ Kg8 24. Qg5+ Kf8 25. Qh6+ Kf7 26. Qxh5+

{I figured that in case I didn’t find a checkmate, at least I would have enough material gained back to win the game. My kingside pawns look promising; one of them should promote if I don’t find a checkmate first.}

Kg7 27. Qh7+ Kf8 28. e6 Ne5 29. Rfe1 Rd2 30. Qh6+ Ke7 31. Qxd2 Nf3+ 32. gxf3 Rg8+ 33. Kh1 Bb7 34. Qd7+ 0-1
[/pgn]

In the last round, I had Black against expert Tim Steiner. I played a questionable opening, trying to mix things up. As it turns out, my position after the opening was also questionable and the computer evaluated White as being the equivalent of two pawns ahead by move 15. Steiner won the game and the tournament. I ended up in a five-way tie for third place.

Please comment on #InternationalChessDay in the Comments Area below and on your own social media and other channels.

WIM Alexey Root, PhD

Alexey Root is a Woman International Master and the 1989 U.S. Women's chess champion. Her peak US Chess rating was 2260. She has a PhD in education from UCLA. You can find her books on chess on Amazon.com.

About the players

2 Responses

  1. Mona
    Mona at

    happy chess day to all chess lovers!

  2. Malik Wajeh
    Malik Wajeh at

    I play chess everyday. Only the smartest among us play chess. Its like being on a battle field in mid evil times in the 15 century.