Random Posts

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Hastings Chess Congress is Underway!

The Hasting International Chess Congress is currently underway and you can visit the official website and see all the games live. Lots of photos, commentary, etc.  VISIT

Very Pretty Postal Win

     While playing over some of the games in the The History of Correspondence Chess in America by Bryce Avery I came across this game. Unfortunately the first name of the winner was not given so I was unable to determine exactly who he is/was. Gerzadowicz is, of course, the interesting correspondence player Stephan Gerzadowicz.

     Gerzadowicz spent his first 53 years in rural Massachusetts where he ran nine marathons, wrote five books (including Thinker's Chess and Journal of a Chess Original) and became a Correspondence Master. He played in five USCF Absolute Championships and one USCCC. He has ranked as high as #10 on the USCF Top 50 List. He also served as president of both the Massachusetts and the New England Chess Associations. He has been a tournament director at The Denker Tournament of High School Champions, The U. S. Blind Championship, the Tennessee Open Championship, and the Final Four of College Chess. 
     In 1998, while living in Princeton, New Jersey he taught chess as part of the regular curriculum in a small elementary school with his students winning numerous New Jersey Scholastic Championships.
     Gerzadowicz attended Princeton University but left after three years. After leaving Princeton he lived and taught in New York, Florida, Tennessee and Texas. I could not even guess where he is residing these days.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Chess and Religion

     Bet you didn’t know chessplayers had a patron saint, did you? In the 16th century, St. Teresa of Avila was proclaimed patroness of chessplayers by church authorities in Spain.
     At one time or another, chess was forbidden by Muslims, Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Jews, the Puritans, and most recently by the Taliban. Chess (shatranj) was a legal issue after Mohammad died in 642 and in 655 his son-in-law disapproved of the game for his sect of Muslims because he believed the carved figures of the chess pieces were graven images. In 780, the caliph al-Mahdi wrote to Mecca religious leaders to give up chess played with dice. In 1005, chess was banned in Egypt and all the chess sets and pieces were ordered to be burned.
     In 1061, Cardinal Damiani (1007-1072) forbade the clergy to play chess and wrote to the Pope complaining that chess was being played by some clergy and lay people. In 1093, chess was condemned and forbidden by the Eastern Orthodox Church.
     In 1125, the Eastern Orthodox monk John Zonares issued a directive banning chess as debauchery and 1128, St. Bernard of Clairvaux forbade the Knights Templar from playing chess. In 1195, rabbi Maimonides included chess among the forbidden games. 
     In 1240, the Worcester Synod of England forbade chess to the clergy and the monastic orders and in 1254, King Louis IX issued a religious edict forbidding chess as a useless and boring game. Then in 1260, King Henry III instructed the clergy to leave chess alone. In 1291, the Archbishop of Cantebury threatened to put the prior and canons on a diet of bread and water unless they desisted from playing chess and priests were forbidden to play chess up to 1299.
     In 1310, chess was forbidden to the clergy in Germany in a decree from the Council of Trier. in 1329, chess was banned by the clergy in the Synod of Wurzburg in Germany and in 1375, King Charles V of France, under the influence of the church, prohibited chess.
     By 1500 Jews were allowed to play chess on the Sabbath. In 1551 the leading clerics of Russia compiled rules which included the prohibition of chess. Clergymen in Russia associated chess with witchcraft and heresy in the late 16th century. The Puritans greatly discouraged chess, but that should be no surprise; they discouraged just about everything.
     In 1981, chess was forbidden in Iran by Ayatollah Khomeini but he had a change of heart in 1988 and decided to allow it. Chess was forbidden by the Taliban in Afghanistan for 15 years.
     Some Popes played chess: Pope Leo XIII (Gioacchino Pecci), Pope Gregory VI, Pope Innocent III, Pope John Paul I, Pope John Paul II, and Ope Leo X.
     Many years ago I played in a week tournament and a certain pastor asked me how I did. I replied that I did OK on Saturday, winning all three games, but Sunday was a disaster; I was tired and lost both games. His reply was, “I think it was probably because you were playing on Sunday.” He thought chess was a waste of time to begin with and playing on Sunday was definitely a no-no.
     An article titled The Symbolism of Chess by Titus Burckhardt appeared in Studies in Comparative Religion, Vol. 3, No. 2. (Spring 1969). It seems rather absurd to me, but I’ll give the link to it anyway. HERE
     Other: The Best Ever Sports Talk Blog, Religious Chess Sets (no kidding!) In 1859 a fellow named Edmond Neville authored a book titled The Chess Players, Sermon to Young Men

Donald Mugridge

     Donald Henry Mugridge was born in Chicago, Illinois on April 23, 1905. He was a former Harvard and District of Columbia Chess Champion. He won the Massachusetts Championship in 1932.
     For 30 years Mugridge was a specialist in American History in the General Reference and Bibliography Division of the Library of Congress and was a leading authority in his specialty and a widely known to scholars throughout the country.  Mugridge was the author of a number of articles and book reviews on historical journals, an active member of the American Historical Association, the American Studies Association, the Columbia Historical Society and the Society of American Archivists.
     He was educated in the Chicago public schools and received his B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Southern California and at the Harvard Graduate School where he continued his graduate work in history.
     Before joining the Library of Congress in 1933, Mugridge served as a teaching fellow at the University of Southern California and as a research assistant to historian Samuel Eliot Morison, working on the Tercentennial History of Harvard University; he was also employed for a short time to do editorial work for the Colonial Society of Massachusetts and in 1942 he was out in charge of the Study Room Reference Service. After 1944 he served under several titles as Specialist in American History, except for a few months in 1946, when he was acting Assistant Chief of the General Reference and Bibliography Division, and for a brief period in 1949-50, when he was on leave from the Library to edit the Adams-Jefferson correspondence for the Institute of Early American History and Culture at Williamsburg, Virginia. Mugridge edited and contributed extensively to the monumental Guide to the Study if the United States of America, an annotated bibliography of representative books reflecting the development of American life and thought, which was published by the Library of Congress in 1960. 
     In recognition of the significant contribution to scholarship represented by his work on the Guide, the Library honored him in April of 1961 with a Superior Service Award. At the time of his death, he was directing the compilation of a supplement to the Guide
     Other noteworthy bibliographies edited or compiled by him included those on Christopher Columbus, American battle art authors published in America from 1892 to 1950 and the American Civil War.
     He died in his home on Tuesday, November 3, 1964 of a coronary thrombosis. He left no immediate survivors.
     On the fourth USCF rating list published in December 1951, Mugridge was rated at 2359. An October 1937 article on the mannerisms of master Chess Review had this to say about Mugridge: "Mugridge is a head-holder and chin-nurser par excellence. Being of a more restful nature than Winter, he does not seek to find out whether his head can be screwed on or off."

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Walter B. Suesman

     I was unable to find much information on this interesting master from a bygone era. Suesman was born in 1918 and passed away in 1985.  He played in major U.S. Tournaments in the late 1930's and throughout the 1940's and 50's and several of his games were quoted in books and books on opening theory. He was a regular at the old Providence Chess Club in Providence, Rhode Island, and wrote a chess column for the Providence Journal for several decades.  Suesman also authored a book, Chess Games and Chess Problems: a collection of forty games and fifty problems.
     In addition to chess, he built beautiful scale model wooden replicas of steamships, yachts and sailing sloops. These wooden models were built to such exactitude that he even took bits of wooden match boxes to fabricate authentic looking planking on the ships' decks. Most of his ship models were donated to the Providence Public library.
     In 1938 the second U.S. Championship featured Fine and Reshevsky both of whom by this time were seasoned international players. Also playing was Isaac Kashdan, his European exploits were in the past, but he had a virtual monopoly on America's strong players. In 1938 Kashdan won the Manhattan Chess Club tournament and had crushed Albert Simonson 4-0 in a match. Thus, Fine, Reshevsky and Kashdan were the favorites of the 1938 U.S. championship. Organizers rented the Radio City Auditorium in the new Rockefeller Center complex of midtown Manhattan. Spectators included Emanuel Lasker, 65-year-old John Barry, 76-year-old Albert Hodges and Frank Marshall, newsreel cameramen, reporters a lot of chess fans. The finalists were 10 seeded players plus seven, including 19-year-old Suesman, who qualified from preliminary events that had been plagued with several withdrawals and forfeited games. Besides Suesman, Fred Reinfeld, Anthony Santasiere, and 20-year-old George Shainswit were newcomers in the field.
     The tournament was won by Reshevsky a half point ahead of Fine; Suesman did not do well, finishing in last (17th) place with a score of +1 -13 =2. However, he must have derived some satisfaction from his lone win which came against the fifth place finisher, Isaac Kashdan.
     Suesman’s also competed in the 6th U.S. Championship in 1946. Reshevsky dominated this event with 14 wins, 4 draws and no loses. He was followed by Kashdan with 13.5-4.5 and Anthony Santasiere with 13-5. Suesman tied for places 13-16 with Weaver Adams, Attillio DiCamillo and Sid Rothman, scoring +4 -9 =5.  Suesman had the satisfaction of drawing with Arnold Denker and defeating Al Horowitz, both of whom tied for places 5-6.
     In the following game against Stark, Suesman’s play between moves 23 to 25 was brilliant; he played the only moves that kept his advantage. Unfortunately, the play of both sides deteriorated from that point, possibly because of time pressure, and came to an abrupt end when Stark overlooked a one mover.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Best Free Engines

According to CCRL’s 40/40 rating list the following engines are the highest rated free and open source engines. Their results against Houdini 3, are listed here. Not all of them played against Houdini 4, so H3 is the engine I chose for the benchmark:

3-Stockfish 4 64-bit 4CPU (vs. Houdini 3 = +14 -13 =53)
4-Critter 1.6a 64-bit CPU (vs. Houdini 3 = +16 -47 =92)
6-Bouquet 1.5 64-bit 4CPU (vs. Houdini 3= +3 -16 =15)
7-Gull 2.3 64-bit 4CPU (vs. Houdini 3 = +2 -18 =37)
8-Strelka 5.5 64-bit (vs. Houdini 3 = +1 -19 =19)
9-Hannibal 1.4b 64-bit 4CPU (vs. Houdini 3 = +1 -15 =14)
10-Protector 1.5.0 64-bit 4 CPU (vs. Houdini 3= +2 -18 =10)

Komodo 5 scores against various engines:
Houdini 3 = +11 -17 =48
Stockfish 4 64-bit 4CPU = +12 -16 =32
Critter 1.6a 64-bit CPU 3 = +8-2 =14
Bouquet 1.5 64-bit 4CPU = +11 -3 =16
Gull 2.3 64-bit 4CPU = +14 -1 =16
Strelka 5.5 64-bit = +0 -0 =0
Hannibal 1.4b 64-bit 4CPU +0 -0 =0
Protector 1.5.0 64-bit 4 CPU = +14 -0 =16

I think this shows that at slow time controls Stockfish 4 is the best engine you can get without spending any money. Used with Arena or SCID, there appears no reason for most of us to purchase any commercial programs.  You can also download tons of games to make your own database and various opening books are also available.

Engine Releases and Openings for Correspondence Play

StockfishDD (version 4 - 4 cores) Komodo 5 (single core)

Correspondence Openings
     Sometime back I downloaded the nearly 167,000 archived games from Lechenicher SchachServer then made a database containing 5951 games where both players were rated over 2300. I then made an opening book based on those games.
     What openings give the best results? White’s scored best with: 1.d4, 1.Nf3, 1.c4 and 1.e4 respectively.
     By far the most popular reply to 1.d4 was 1…Nf6, but the second most popular reply, 1…d5 was slightly better for Black. Other replies by Black did not have enough games to make the statistics significant.
     Against 1.Nf3 the best results for Black were obtained with 1…d5 while the best chances against the English saw Black playing 1…e5
     If White plays 1.e4 the scores were:
1…e5 (White scored 53.7%)
1…c5 (White scored 53.0%)
1…e6 (White scored 53.6%)
1…c6 (White scored 56.0%)
     In the Sicilian, the Sveshnikov variation was Black’s most popular and best choice and in case of 1.e4 e5, White got the best results with the Scotch. In the Ruy Lopez White does best to play the Exchange Variation, but if he does not, Black’s best line is the Zaitsev Variation (also called the Flohr–Zaitsev Variation) which was a Karpov favorite and remains one of the most important variations of the Ruy Lopez. 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0–0 8.c3 d6 9.h3 Bb7
     Other Openings/Defenses:
Giuoco Piano (White scored 44.0%)
King’s Gambit (White scored 23.7%)
Caro Kann (White scored 54.9%)
Alekhine Defense (White scored 66.7%)
Nimzo-Indian (White scored 55.1%)
King’s Indian (White scored 58.2%)
Gruenfeld (White scored 58.6%)
QGA (White scored 54.7%)
QGD (White scored 57.6%)
     After 1.d4 d5 2.c4 Black’s best choice is 2…c6 where White scored 52.1% I was disappointed to find that my personal favorite, the Torre Attack, 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Bg5, only appeared in three games and after 3…Ne4 all the games were drawn.
     When using any opening book or database it must be remembered that they are museums. They tell you what used to be good so it’s important to do an exhaustive engine analysis of your lines of choice to find improvements. I rarely do that because it’s too time consuming and have paid the price a few times by entering a line that was supposed to give me good chances only to have an opponent come up with an improvement.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Merry Christmas Everybody

at Disney World 2013

Speaking of Bad Sacrifices on f7…

Not too long after posting on unwarranted sacrifices on f7, I played an online game where my opponent did just that.

Hey, Art! Give back that trophy!

      In 1957 the US Open was played in Cleveland, Ohio from August 5-17 and drew 117 players. The big story was the triumph of 13-year-old Bobby Fischer in what was to be his last US Open.
     1953 US Open Champion Donald Byrne was leading until he lost to Fischer in round 9 and dropped into a tie with brother, Robert. He overtook Fischer the next round though, with Robert Byrne and Arthur Bisguier a half-point behind.
     Both Fischer and Donald Byrne won in round 11; Donald defeating his brother. Bisguier was a half-point behind going into the last round where he defeated Donald Byrne while Fischer was only able to draw with Walter Shipman, thus Fischer and Bisguier tied for first with Bisguier being awarded the title on tiebreaks. But that wasn't the end of it!
     Bisguier was driving back to New York with the first place trophy when a recalculation of the tiebreaks gave the title to Fischer. Bisguier later wrote an article for Chess Review magazine where he tried to put forth his usual gentlemanly and sportmanslike demeanor and praise Fischer’s play, but his bitterness with the tournament officials (the event was directed by Georges Koltanowski) was apparent. What got Bisguier so riled up?
     After the tournament, one unidentified player claimed that his 8th round opponent had cheated by taking back a move. Even though he had won the game, he insisted that it be scored a forfeit!  He found two witnesses who backed him up and the organizers were unable to talk him out of changing his result from a win to a win by forfeit and gave in. This caused the tiebreaks to have to be recalculated and as a result, the title was awarded to Fischer who, by the way, had won his first round game on a forfeit when his opponent did not show up. This sounds incredulous, but there was a precedent!
     In the 1955 US Open held in Long Beach, California, Nicolas Rossolimo and Samuel Reshevsky tied for first with Rossolimo being awarded first prize, a new car, on tiebreaks.
     NM James Bolton defeated NM Ronald Gross in their 7th round game and then afterwards was informed by a spectator that, while he was away from the board, Gross had made a move, taken it back, and substituted another one.
     This upset Bolton who then went to the tournament director and demanded that he be awarded a win on forfeit, even though he had won over the board. The directors, the Senior TD was a fellow named Orlo M. Rolo, decided to let Bolton have his way. So, what was the problem?
     Bolton played Reshevsky in round 2, so by counting the game with Gross as a forfeit win it lowered Bolton's adjusted score which lowered Reshevsky's tiebreak score, which gave Rossolimo the car. At least that’s the way the story went, but Kenneth Harkness wrote a report for Chess Life proving that Bolton's action did not cost Reshevsky the car. Had the game been scored as a regular win, the first two tiebreak systems would have wound up tied, but Rossolimo would have been awarded the title and the car on the third tiebreaking system.
     Top scores in the 1955 event: 1-2-Robert Fischer and Arthur Bisguier (10), 3-Donald Byrne (9.5), 4-7-Robert Byrne, Edmar Mednis, Anthony Santasiere, Walter Shipman (9), 8-12-Gilbert Ramirez, Ivan Theodorovich, Paul Brandts, Anthony Saidy and Saul Wanetick (8.5)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Two Minor Pieces or Rook and Pawn...which to choose?!

     I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run into Internet opponents willing, even eager, to sacrifice B and N on f7 (or f2) for a R and P. Apparently their thinking runs two minor pieces are worth about 6 pawns and so are a Rook and a pawn, so it’s an even trade, plus they are weakening the enemy King’s position. However, in reality, is it a good idea? For example, the position below shows the skeleton of White’s having sacrificed two minor pieces on f7 for a R and P. What’s the result?

     GM Zaitsev wrote “… experience shows that in endgames, especially if a passed pawn exists, the player who has a Rook has a better position. It is a different situation in the complicated middle game. Here it is much easier to create an attack having two minor pieces."
     GM Mark Dvoretsky wrote, "In the endgame a Rook is frequently stronger than two minor pieces. It happens when the Rook penetrates into the opponent's camp and wins some material or when there is an opportunity to create a passed pawn." From reading these quotes it would seem that in the middle game two minor pieces are better and a Rook is better in the ending.
     Tahl wrote, "I have to confess that it is my favorite sacrifice to give up two minor pieces for a Rook. If an exchange sacrifice can be treated as an admission that a Rook can be weaker than a minor piece, then in this case we have a statement that a Rook is frequently stronger than two minor pieces. This paradox is valid in an endgame too, especially when the Rook fights against a Bishop and a Knight and they are not cooperating very well in that particular situation. This paradox stays true in a middle game, providing that a Rook has an open file (or better yet, files!)."
     It is common knowledge (though apparently not among a lot on online players) that in the opening it is generally not a good idea to give up two minor pieces for a Rook and a pawn because there are usually no open files for the Rook so the sacrifice is usually unsound; the minor pieces are better for attacking purposes. 
     Sometimes endings are different. A passed pawn is practically always a decisive factor. But two minor pieces can sometimes stop a passed pawn, the lone Rook is helpless in most cases.
     GM Greg Serper wrote, “Just look at the resulting position and if you have better placed pieces and the initiative…(you will be better regardless of which combination of pieces you have.)”
     World Correspondence Champion Hans Berliner gives the following valuations, based on experience and computer experiments:
• pawn = 1
• knight = 3.2
• bishop = 3.33
• rook = 5.1
• queen = 8.8
     Berliner also made adjustments for the rank and file of the Pawns and adjustments for the pieces depending on how open or closed the position is. Bishops, rooks, and queens gain up to 10 percent more value in open positions and lose up to 20 percent in closed positions. Knights gain up to 50 percent in closed positions and lose up to 30 percent in the corners and edges of the board.
     The R has the least value in the opening and Purdy observed that the biggest jump happens “with the last exchange of pieces just before the ending.” He said that if you add a piece to each side, the minor pieces increase in value.
     Purdy gave the following breakdown:
In the opening:
2 minor pieces = R + 2P’s
2B’s = R + 2-1/2 P’s
In the ending (with P’s, but no additional pieces):
2 minor pieces = R + 1/2 P
2B’s = R + 1-1/2 P’s

     Playing around with different positions in the Shredder Endgame Database reveals that in most cases the two minor pieces draw against a R and P if they are the only pieces on the board. In fact the position at the beginning of this post is drawn.
     Are you confused yet? GM Arthur Bisguier said that against a weaker opponent he could win with either side!  Maybe that’s the best rule concerning this situation…be the stronger player!
    In the following ending I recently played online, while not a two minor piece vs. R and P ending, it has some interesting points.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Vladimir Liberzon

     Liberzon was born in Moscow on March 23, 1937 and emigrated to Israel in 1973. He graduated from an engineering college and claimed never to have been a professional chess player. Liberzon was the first grandmaster from the Soviet Union who was allowed to emigrate to Israel in 1973 and became Israel's first grandmaster.
     Known for his disciplined professionalism, Liberzon played in several Soviet championships, his best result being fourth at the 36th Championship, Alma-Ata 1968/69. Other results were less notable; his first entry led to a lowly finish at Tbilisi 1966/67, but he achieved solid mid-table performances at Moscow 1969 and at Riga 1970.
     He was first in the Central Chess Club Championship in Moscow in 1963, 1964, and 1965, fourth at Kislovodsk 1964, fifth at Yerevan 1965, second at Leipzig 1965, first at Zinnowitz 1967, first at Debrecen 1968, second at Amsterdam 1969, third at Dubna 1971 and third equal at Luhačovice.
     After moving to Israel he scored well in international tournaments finishing first at Venice 1974, first at Lone Pine 1975, second equal at Netanya 1975, second equal at Reykjavík 1975, first equal at Beer-Sheva 1976, first equal at Netanya 1977, 3rd at Amsterdam 1977, first equal at Lone Pine 1979, and fourth equal at Beer-Sheva 1984.
     He was a leading member of the Israeli teams in the Olympiads between 1974 and 1980. During his career he scored victories over Mikhail Tal, Paul Keres and Tigran Petrosian. Botvinnik was luckier; twice he barely escaped defeat.
     For many years Liberzon worked as a chess trainer and authored two chess books in Hebrew. In one of his books he posed the question, "What is the best variation of Alekhine's Defense?" Answer: "They are all bad." Liberzon was not considered a cultured man and William Hartston tells the story that when he first met Liberzon in a tournament in Iceland in 1974, Liberzon walked over to him before they had been introduced, grinned broadly and asked Hartston in Russian: "Do you speak Hebrew?" Hartston replied "nyet", but told him that he did speak a little Russian. Liberzon then told Hartston that people with noses as big as his usually spoke Hebrew. Liberzon spent the rest of the tournament telling Hartston dirty jokes in Russian.
     Liberzon died in 1997 at the age of 59.
     His opponent in this game is FM Robert Sulman (born 1961) who is a USCF Life Master (meaning he played over 300 rated games and maintained a rating over 2200) who had a rating high of 2406 in 1992, but it has since fallen below 2200.
     This 1979 tournament held from the 25th of March to the 4th of April was the ninth in the series of annual events. The lead changed hands a number of times in this nine round Swiss Tournament but in the end four players; Liberzon, Gheorghiu, Gligoric and Hort shared top honors. They each received $8,875 and Gligoric and Liberzon made history by becoming the first players to win twice at Lone Pine.
     Liberzon was the sole winner of the 1975 event and Gligoric was a joint winner in the 1972 event. Hans Ree could have joined the leaders but an oversight in a winning rook ending against Sahovic in the last round cost him a GM norm and dropped him into the group which included Larsen, Gruenfeld, Lombardy, Sahovic and Sosonko. They each received $1008.
     Another notable performance in this tournament was that of 19-year-old Yasser Seirawan who played all four winners and in the process he defeated Miles and Larsen as well. Seirawan and the four winners scored the only GM results. Seirawan, along with DeFirmian and van der Sterren earnt IM titles. Morris, Bradford, Peters and Odendahl achieved IM norms and Root and Strauss achieved FM norms. Oleg Romanishin and Vitaly Tseshkovsky were slated to play but when it was discovered that Korchnoi would also be playing the Soviet authorities cancelled their entries.
     Top finishers were:

Florin Gheorghiu 6.5/9 (+4 -0 =5) Svetozar Gligoric 6.5/9 (+4 -0 =5) Vladimir Mikhailovich Liberzon 6.5/9 (+4 -0 =5) Vlastimil Hort 6.5/9 (+4 -0 =5)

Bent Larsen 6/9 (+4 -1 =4) Hans Ree 6/9 (+4 -1 =4) Dragutin Sahovic 6/9 (+5 -2 =2) William James Lombardy 6/9 (+3 -0 =6) Gennady Sosonko 6/9 (+3 -0 =6) Yehuda Gruenfeld 6/9 (+4 -1 =4)

Mark Diesen 5.5/9 (+3 -1 =5) Samuel Reshevsky 5.5/9 (+3 -1 =5) Julio P Kaplan 5.5/9 (+3 -1 =5) John A Peters 5.5/9 (+3 -1 =5) Walter D Morris 5.5/9 (+3 -1 =5) Arthur Bisguier 5.5/9 (+3 -1 =5) Viktor Korchnoi 5.5/9 (+4 -2 =3) Anatoly Lein 5.5/9 (+4 -2 =3) James E Tarjan 5.5/9 (+4 -2 =3) Ludek Pachman 5.5/9 (+4 -2 =3) Yasser Seirawan 5.5/9 (+3 -1 =5) Leonid Alexandrovich Shamkovich 5.5/9 (+3 -1 =5)

Anthony Miles 5/9 (+3 -2 =4) Helgi Olafsson 5/9 (+3 -2 =4) Peter Biyiasas 5/9 (+3 -2 =4) Gert Ligterink 5/9 (+3 -2 =4) Gudmundur Sigurjonsson 5/9 (+2 -1 =6) Pal Benko 5/9 (+3 -2 =4) Nick DeFirmian 5/9 (+3 -2 =4)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Nelson Mandela and Chess

As reader Peter pointed out, there is a connection between Nelson Mandela and chess.  Here in are some links:  Chessbase, Chess, Kevin Spraggett
Also, here is a link to U.S. Presidents who played chess by Bill Wall.

Friday, December 13, 2013

As promised: a Nezhmetdinov Game

I have seen this game annotated in a couple of different books, always with some disagreement as to the merits of the play of both players, so not only is playing over the game fascinating, so is trying to figure out the best lines. GM Andy Soltis thinks it’s a great game despite the fact he thinks Black’s defense was not very good. Alex Pishkin in Super Nezh puts it the “Masterpiece” section. Enjoy the tactics…

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Back…at least occasionally

     For the past few weeks it’s been cold as a booger outside (this is first day the sun has shown in about 3 weeks) so there hasn’t been much to do and with all of my correspondence games are over except one, I have been busy playing over games from Super Nezh: Rashid Nezhmetdinov, Chess Assassin by Alex Pishkin. Nezh was an early version of Tahl. His combinations were fantastic, if not always entirely sound. Every time I play over his games I get to thinking I could play like that, but, of course, I can’t. I know because I have been frittering away the time playing 15 minute games on Instant Chess.

     Instant Chess is a nice site; you sign in anonymously and play games against random opponents at random time limits, mostly 15 minutes per game, but on rare occasions you’ll be given a G1 or G30. The opposition ranges from beginners to fairly decent players; mostly the latter. It looks like it would be pretty nice site to join, but the $7.99 per month (join for 10 months and get 2 months free, that’s $80 per year) seems overpriced. Jessica Fischer has done a very entertaining bio of Nezh on Youtube HERE.
      The other book I’ve been looking at is Najdorf’s Zurich, 1953.  Most everybody says Bronstein’s is better, but I prefer Najdorf’s annotations. John Watson does an in depth review of Najdorf’s book HERE.

     The problem with playing anonymous games on Instant Chess is that there is no game score so you don’t have any record of them. The solution I’ve used is to simply use a scoresheet and record the games manually. I suppose you could also open a chess program in another window and use it to record your games, but the temptation with that might be to use the engine which would defeat the purpose of playing.
     Anyway, after playing over Nezhmetdinov’s games the temptation to play gambits and jump at the chance to make any reasonable looking sacrifice has been overwhelming and since you are probably dying to see one of my Instant Chess games, I have attached one. Over time, I may offer up some of Nezmetdinov’s games and/or some games from Zurich that are especially entertaining.