21 Sep

Queen of Katwe

Just prior to the 42nd Baku Chess Olympiad in Azerbaijan, there was the premiere of Magnus Carlsen’s documentary, ‘Magnus’.  But the World Champion wasn’t the only long-time friend to America’s Foundation for Chess playing at the Baku Olympiad to tread the fabled Tinseltown red carpet, because this week saw the premiere of Phiona Mutesi's chess story that is the inspirational backdrop to the new Disney film Queen of Katwe, which opens in U.S. theatres in limited release on September 23rd, and expands across theatres everywhere on 30th September.

After 36.f5!!

The new feel-good film is based on the vibrant true story of 10-year-old Phiona Mutesi from the streets of rural Uganda whose world rapidly changes when she is introduced to the game of chess, and, as a result of the support she receives from her family, coach, and community, is instilled with the confidence and determination she needs to pursue her dream of becoming an international chess champion, as she goes on to represent her country at the 2010 Khanty-Mansiysk Chess Olympiad in Siberia.

Queen of Katwe is directed by Mira Nair from a screenplay by William Wheeler. The film stars Golden Globe® nominee David Oyelowo, Oscar® winner and Tony Award® nominee Lupita Nyong’o and newcomer Madina Nalwanga. Take a first look at the film that celebrates that “Chess is Life” by clicking here.


And a date to save is Tuesday, January 17th 2017, when America’s Foundation for Chess will be hosting a unique, not-to-be-missed fundraiser at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue, WA, where our special guest speakers will be Phiona Mutesi and Salome Thomas-El (principalEL.com).  

Event Sponsorship is starting at $5,000, to sponsor a table at $1,500, and individual tickets are $100. If you are interested in joining, sponsoring, or donating please contact Anne Tyler at anne@firstmovechess.org.

Phiona Mutesi - Amen Miladi
Baku Women’s Olympiad, (5)
Sicilian Defence, Grand Prix Attack
1.e4 c5 2.f4 e6 3.d3 More standard in the Grand Prix Attack is 3.Nc3 first, so that if 3...Nc6 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.Bb5 and a better developed white-squared bishop; White will then look to exchange it off with Bxc6 and proceed similarly to how Phiona does in the game. But 3.d3, as in the game, is perfectly playable. 3...d5 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.Bd2 a6 What White is hoping for is 6...d4 7.Ne2 and a reversed King's Indian Defence, namely the King's Indian Attack, and continuing with g3, Bg2 and 0-0 etc. However against the KIA, Black does well to avoid this by keeping the tension in the centre, and - just as in the game - going instead for a rapid queenside expansion. 7.e5 Nd7 8.Be2 Be7 9.0-0 0-0 10.Rb1 b5 11.a3 Qb6 12.Kh1 a5 Good for Black was 12...f6 13.exf6 Nxf6 14.Qe1 Bd6 and Black is threatening ...Bb7, ...Rae8 and opening the game up to her advantage with ...e5. 13.Qe1 b4 14.axb4 axb4 15.Nd1 Ba6 Black has 'won' the opening battle with the better queenside pawn structure looking menacing and the more active pieces - but she has to be careful of her kingside which lacks support from her pieces. 16.Nf2 Bb5 17.Ng4 White has to create some kingside chances or she'll simply get steam-trolled on the queenside. Faced with such situations, it's best to ignore what's happening on the queenside and looking to create counter-threats on the opposite side of the board to distract your opponent. 17...h5 18.Nf2 Ra2 19.Nh3 c4? 20.Nfg5 A good move looking to launch an attack on Black's king, but even stronger first was 20.dxc4! dxc4 and now 21.Nfg5 and White has a winning attack. 20...cxd3 21.cxd3 And stronger again was 21.Bxd3, as it exchanged off Black's better white-squared bishop. A simple rule of thumb in chess is that you should always look to exchange off your opponent's better pieces and seek to keep your own better pieces on the board. 21...Nd4 Black should have gone for safety-first with 21...g6 and follow-up with ideas such as ...Nd4. 22.Be3 Bc5 23.Qh4! With all of Black's forces over on the queenside, suddenly White has a powerful kingside attack with there being no defences available on the kingside. 23...g6 Of course, if 23...Nxe2 24.Qxh5 and White has an unstoppable mating attack. 24.Bxd4 Bxd4 25.Bxh5! Crashing through for that mating attack. 25...Kg7 26.Qg3? A big missed moment; White should have continued the assault with 26.Bxg6 Rh8 27.Bh5 and Black's king is basically stranded in No Man's Land, surrounding by all those White pieces. 26...Rh8 27.Be2 Bxb2 The game is now 'swinging in the wind' with the vagaries of the time scramble, with White missing a crushing attack, and now Black holding the advantage - but never underestimate an attack against a king, as often that's the one that proves more problematic. 28.Qg4 Qa6 The 'easy' win was 28...Bc3 followed by ...Qa6, where there's pressure on d3 and - long-term - the passed b-pawn is going to be a major headache to deal with. 29.Rfd1 Often the best form of defence is attack, and better was 29.f5 opening more lines towards the Black king while also threatening Qxb4 removing that problem passed pawn. But to her credit, Phiona returns later to this theme of f5 with more devastating effect. 29...Nc5 Again, 29...Bc3 as the b-pawn is a winner. 30.Qf3 Bc3 31.Ng1 Ra8 Black should have gone for 31...Rc2! followed by ...Qa2 with total domination. But now she pays the price for failing to do so, as Phiona does the only practical thing anyone can in a bad position, and that's to attack her opponent's king. 32.Qh3 Rh8 33.Qe3 d4 34.Qg3 Ba4 35.Rf1 Bc2 Black's position looks to be totally winning here, but there's a major flaw that's quickly spotted by Phiona that turns the tables in an instance. 36.f5!! (See Diagram) 36..Bxb1 The 'better' alternative wasn't really all that better: 36...exf5 37.Rxf5! Kg8 (37...gxf5? 38.Ne6+ Kh7 39.Qg7#; And if 37...Qa7 38.Rxf7+ Qxf7 39.Nxf7 Bxb1 40.Nxh8 Ra6 41.Qg5 wins.; Also winning was 37...Bxb1 38.Rxf7+ Kg8 39.Qf4) 38.Rxf7 Bxb1 39.Qf4 mating, as after 39...Qc8 40.Qf6 and there's no defence. 37.fxe6 More devastating was 37.fxg6, but what's played also wins easily now, as White's rook, knight and queen combine with lethal force for a mating attack. 37...Nxe6 38.Rxf7+ Kg8 39.Rf6! Rxe2 If 39...Nxg5 40.Qxg5! Qxf6 41.exf6 Kf7 42.Bf3! Rd8 43.Be4 is mating. 40.Nxe6! 1-0 Much stronger than 40. Rxe6, as this leads to a forced mate and an immediate resignation. 

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