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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Rape Charges Against Chess Teacher

First is was Robert M. Snyder and now it's a guy in Columbus, Ohio. According to the Columbus Dispatch a 61-year old chess coach was charged with rape and gross sexual imposition when a 4-year-old girl told her father that the suspect had touched her improperly on April 7 at her Lewis Center preschool. The perpetrator taught chess in an after-school enrichment program and contracted directly with parents. The president of Prep Academy issued a statement saying, “A thorough background check on the accused individual found no cause for concern.”

Protect Your Child From a Predator
How to Protect Your Child From Predators
Understanding and Protecting Your Children From Child Molesters and Predators (an 11-page PDF booklet)
WikiHow Article: How to Identify a Pedophile

Here are some helpful books:

Komodo 9 Released

$59.98 and if you have K8 there is a 20 percent discount.

     The site advises that Komodo 9 is a substantial improvement over Komodo 8: +50 Elo stronger than Komodo 8 on one core according to the independent IPON test and their own internal testing, with the gain increasing to about +60 Elo on 4 cores. Gains come from improved search, evaluation, and time management, as well as more efficient use of multiprocessing.
     For $99.97 you will get a “one year subscription": which includes: Komodo 9 and all versions of Komodo they publish within one year of your order. In addition, you get all previous versions of Komodo. Also, if you want FREE, you can download Komodo 5 from the site.

IPON Round Robin Rating List of the TOP 10 engines. No bias because of different opponents, openings, hardware, time control, books   

1 Komodo 9 : 3187   
2 Stockfish 6 : 3173   
3 Houdini 4 : 3120   
4 Gull 3 : 3071   
5 Equinox 3.30 : 2997   
6 Critter 1.6a : 2993 
7 Deep Rybka 4.1 : 2956   
8 Deep Fritz 14 : 2895   
9 Texel 1.05 : 2889  
10 Chiron 2 : 2885

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Elaine Saunders Pritchard

    Elaine Pritchard (nee Saunders) was born 7 January 1926 and died on 7 January 2012 at the age of 86 and with her death it was the end of an era. Her death marks the passing of an era as she was one of the last of pre-WW2 chess players. She married David B. Pritchard, also a strong player, in 1952; he died in 2005.
     Elaine Saunders was a widely celebrated prodigy in the 1930s and when world champion Alekhine played her in a simultaneous exhibition when she was 12 he called her a genius. Alekhine won all of his games in that simul and Saunders, at the time British Girls Champion, was the last to finish; she lost a R and P ending. 
     She learned the moves from her father at five and was soon defeating strong players as playing blindfold games. There is little doubt that she was of master strength by the time she was 10 or 11. And by the time she was 20 or so she was likely at least of IM (male) strength.

     She won the World Girls at 10 in 1936 and again in 1937. She won the British Ladies Championship in 1939, 1946 and under her married name, in 1956 and 1965. In a Women's Zonal Tournament in the 1950's she finished second and she played for England on the first three Womens Olympic Teams. She also won a Silver Medal at the FIDE Olympiad of Haifa in 1976. Pritchard was a WIM with her last FIDE Rating being 2150. She authored of two chess books: Chess for Pleasure and The Young Chess Player.
     Her opponent in this game, Adrian S. Hollis (2 August 1940 in Bristol, England - 26 February 2013 in Wells, England), was a distinguished classical scholar and an English correspondence GM who was British Correspondence Chess Champion in 1966, 1967, and 1971. In 1982-87 Hollis won the Ninth Correspondence Chess Olympiad and in 1998 the World Postal Chess Championship as a member of the British team. He was educated as a King's Scholar at Eton College, where he won the Newcastle Scholarship in 1958. He then studied Classics at Christ Church, Oxford and represented Oxford University Chess Club in four annual Varsity chess matches (1959–1962), playing on the top board in the 1961 and 1962 matches. He also played in the (over the board) British Championship a number of times during the 1960s. In 1964–1967 he was Assistant Lecturer in the Department of Humanity at St Andrews University. He moved back to Oxford to become a University Lecturer in Classics at Oxford University and a Tutorial Fellow of Keble College, Oxford in 1967 and remained there until his retirement in 2007. During a distinguished academic career his research focused mainly on Hellenistic and Roman poetry. Adrian Hollis was the son of Sir Roger Hollis, who served as Director-General of MI5 from 1956 to 1965. His uncle Christopher Hollis was a writer and Conservative politician, and he shared a grandfather, the Anglican later bishop-suffragan of Taunton, the Right Revd George Arthur Hollis (1868–1944), with first cousin Crispian Hollis who is the Bishop of Portsmouth for the Catholic Church.
     Her tactical style shows in this game and her final move was a nice tactical shot that Hollis totally overlooked.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Bent Larsen's Favorite Chess Books

     The other day I came across an old interview with Bent Larsen in which he was asked about his favorite chess books and I always find it interesting to see what books, if any, GM's read. 
      I once spent a few minutes at a booksellers stall at a major tournament just observing what books players gravitated towards and the results were not surprising. Lower rated players spent a lot of time fondling opening books while masters browsed best game collections, tournament books and endgame books. Very few players looked at middlegame books which in those days were mostly on strategy.
     Jørgen (I never knew he went by his middle name!) Bent Larsen (4 March 1935 – 9 September 2010) was a Danish Grandmaster and author who was known for his imaginative and unorthodox style of play and he was the first Western player to pose a serious challenge to the Soviet Union's dominance. Up until the emergence of Magnus Carlsen, Larsen was considered the strongest player ever from Scandinavia.
     Larsen was a six time Danish Champion and a Candidate for the World Chess Championship four times and won many games from seven World Champions: Botvinnik, Smyslov, Tahl, Petrosian, Spassky, Fischer, and Karpov, but had lifetime minus scores against them.
     He suffered from diabetes and died in 2010 from a cerebral hemorrhage. Larsen was a highly imaginative player who was always willing to try unorthodox ideas and to take risks, especially in the opening. He often played dubious openings and was always willing to complicate things even if it meant risking loss. His style allowed him to be extremely effective against weaker opponents but against his peers, such strategy was less successful.
     He was one of the very few modern grandmasters to have employed Bird's Opening and he introduced 1.b3 which came to be known as Larsen's Opening into mainline theory of his day. He also revived the almost Bishop's Opening and the Philidor Defense. He was the first top player to successfully use the Grand Prix Attack against the Sicilian Defense (1.e4 c5 2.f4), he frequently employed Alekhine's Defense and played a major roll in reviving the Scandinavian Defense when he used it to defeat World Champion Anatoly Karpov in 1979.  He also contributed to a rare sideline of the Caro–Kann (1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nf6 5.Nxf6+ gxf6).
     In the interview when asked what book he would take to a desert island, he said he'd take London 1883 or some other old tournament book.
     The London 1883 tournament was a strong one which had most of the leading players of the day. It was won by Zukertort ahead of Steinitz (with 19 points). One curious fact about this tournament: Zukertort was assured of first place with three rounds to go (his score was 22-1!!) when he lost his last three games against relatively weak players. This was the tournament that established Zukertort as a rival to Steinitz' to claim to be the best player in the world and resulted in the 1886 World Championship 1886 match between them. two (the first official World Chess Championship match). The event was a double round-robin tournament. The tournament also introduced the use of the double-sided chess clock, manufactured by T.B. Wilson of Manchester.
     Larsen listed as his other favorite chess books:

New York 1889 by Steinitz. The sixth American Chess Congress was held in New York in 1889 and was a 20-man double round-robin tournament making it one of the longest tournaments in history. The event was won by Mikhail Chigorin and Max Weiss both of whom finished with a score of 29 but Chigorin defeated Weiss in their individual game. The top American finisher was Lipschütz, who took sixth place. Under rules that reigning World Champion Wilhelm Steinitz helped to develop, the winner was to be regarded as World Champion for the time being, but must be prepared to face a challenge from the second- or third-placed competitor within a month. Mikhail Chigorin and Max Weiss tied for first, and remained tied after drawing all four games of a playoff. Weiss was not interested in playing a championship match, but Isidor Gunsberg, the third place finisher, exercised his right and challenged Chigorin to a World Championship match. In 1890, he drew a first-to-10-wins match against Chigorin (9-9 with five draws).
My System by Nimzovich
Selected Games by Paul Keres
Munninghoff's book on Jan Hein Donner. Donner (July 6, 1927 – November 27, 1988) was a Dutch grandmaster and writer. Born in The Hague, he won the Dutch Championship in 1954, 1957, and 1958. On August 24, 1983 Donner suffered a stroke, which he wrote happened "just in time, because when you are 56 you do not play chess as well as you did when you were 26".
     After surviving the stroke, he went to live in Vreugdehof, which he described as "a kind of nursing-home". He was unable to walk, but had learned to type with one finger, and wrote for NRC Handelsblad and Schaaknieuws.  GM Lubosh Kavalek once noted that Donner was a chain smoker, as was Kavalek, and when they played the board disappeared in a cloud of smoke. Kavalek observed that both of them were under the illusion that cigarettes calmed their nerves and stimulated them to make good moves.
    Another book Larsen mentioned as a favorite was a book by Arman titled Marcel Duchamp Plays and Wins. I know nothing of this one.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Words of Wisdom from National Master James R. Schroeder

     According to his Blog, Schroeder, Ohio champion in 1950 and 1985, is "a renown chess author, editor, critic, master, historian and constant student of the game."  He was the Ohio Chess Champion in 1950 and 1985 and the winner of fifty consecutive U.S.C.F. rated games. Schroeder also founded The Prison Chess Fund which he used to supply prisoners chess sets and books without charge. He was also a seller of books and chess equipment. 

Some of his quotes follow: 

-I want to play this game to the best of my ability, within the amount of time available. 
-I am playing amateurs, not Grandmasters - there is no need for me to be afraid of anyone nor anything. 
-I must have confidence and expect to win every game I play. 
-1.P-K4 (1.e4) is the strongest move, and the easiest way to win is to attack by creating open lines through judicious Pawn exchanges and then by making combinations. 
-I want to adopt a style of striving for attacking formations from the very first move. That style will make me into a successful chess player because I am not playing a perfect machine but an imperfect human being. 
-If I do make a mistake I will not be discouraged, surprised, or depressed - that mistake is probably not enough to lose the game. 
-Success or failure is caused by my attitude: If I expect success, my mind will analyze variations leading to success. If I expect failure, my mind will analyze variations leading to failure. Consequently, I must remain confident, even if I am losing. 
-Don't lose. Win, if possible. 
-Play good moves in the Opening. 
-Do NOT try to find the "best" moves in the Opening. 
-I want to try to attack and utterly destroy my opponent. 
-The best way to play chess is to attack and attack, and attack some more. 
-You don't become a great player by waiting for an error; you become a great player by forcing errors. 
-I want my mind to tell me a good move. If it tells me the move to play, do not analyze long sequences of moves in order to determine if the move is good - a short sequence is enough. 
-If I don't trust the move, ask my mind to check the analysis, to analyze deeper, to analyze alternate moves, but do NOT look at alternate moves. DON'T THINK! - it interferes with my mind's task. Relax, and idly think of the position in general terms. Note the tactical and positional features of it - this will help my mind analyze. 
-Examine both logical and illogical moves. Examine all checks and captures. You don't need to analyze them, just notice them. 
-While playing a game I must remember to have my mental scanners look at: - every move: it weakens something and threatens something. - short-range tactics; long-range tactics. - strategy relevant to the position I have reached. - the 16 tactical devices. - the 110 types of combinations (combined tactical devices). 
-I must remember to continuously give myself new instructions, as needed, while I am playing. 
-Chess is a game of constant change: I must adapt to it, be ready for it, indeed, welcome it.
-When it is my opponent's turn to move make your analysis chart wider and deeper in the important variations. Consider not only the logical moves he may play, but also the illogical - but plausible - ones. 
-If I have an advantage I will change my instructions and tell my mind: "I think we have a win. Find the move that maintains the winning advantage in the most certain, or safest, or most efficient manner. Forget my opponent's strengths and weaknesses - if there is a forced win for me by sheer technique, then I want to use that technique". 
-Don't try any tricks. 
-If my opponent has an advantage, look for lines of maximum resistance. If he thinks he has an advantage he will be trying to win. If he does not have a forced win he may make an error. -Be alert! Remember - my opponent may not have the knowledge to win the position he has. 
-I may get up and walk around. Don't look at other games - I want my mind to keep analyzing the position

Friday, April 24, 2015

Articles on Psychology and Chess

     "Psychologists who studied more than 100 chess players say the game attracts sensation-seekers with a thirst for action and adventure on a par with skydivers, scuba divers, mountaineers and skiers. When men win a game, the experts say, the rise of testosterone levels in the blood is just the same as that experienced by people who go in for risky sports.”

Here are some more articles on chess players… 

How experts recall chess positions  
A brief survey of psychological studies of chess  
The Cognitive Psychology of Chess 
Chess Stereotypes and Personality  
The Effects of Speed on Skilled Chess Performance 
Why They Play: The Psychology of Chess 

The last link is an excerpt from The Psychology of the Chess Player by Dr. Reuben Fine. He says chess players are latent homosexuals, but personally I would not put much confidence in anything Fine had to say. Drawing heavily on the writings of Freud's biographer Ernest Jones, Fine supported the view that chess is an embodiment of the Oedipus Complex, with the father-figure King and powerful mother- figure Queen providing the elements for the player to enact his parricidal fantasies. The pieces, according to Fine, are mostly phallic symbols. 

Fine founded the Creative Living Center in New York City and according to his obituary in the New York Times he was married five times, four ending in divorce. Just my opinion: If I'm looking for a marriage counselor I would not want somebody that's been married five times.

For more on Fine, chess and psychology see Edward Winter's article HERE.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Psychologist Looks at Bobby Fischer

For those that might be interested, I came across an article on Pacific Standard titled “A Psychological Autopsy of Bobby Fischer” by Joseph G. Ponterotto. Dr. Ponterotto is a licensed psychologist and mental health counselor in New York State, and is the former Associate Editor of the Journal of Counseling Psychology. He currently coordinates both the Mental Health and School Counseling Master’s Degree Programs at Fordham University.   

Chess player Bobby Fischer's tortured life illustrates why promising young talents deserve better support programs.

 “At a 1958 tournament in Yugoslavia, Mikhail Tal, a legendary attacking grandmaster and one-time world champion, mocked chess prodigy Bobby Fischer for being "cuckoo." Tal's taunting may have been a deliberate attempt to rattle Fischer, then just 15 but already a major force in the highly competitive world of high-level chess. But others from that world — including a number of grandmasters who'd spent time with him — thought Fischer not just eccentric, but deeply troubled. At a tournament in Bulgaria four years later, U.S. grandmaster Robert Byrne suggested that Fischer see a psychiatrist, to which Fischer replied that "a psychiatrist ought to pay [me] for the privilege of working on [my] brain." According to journalist Dylan Loeb McClain, Hungarian-born grandmaster Pal Benko commented, "I am not a psychiatrist, but it was obvious he was not normal. ... I told him, 'You are paranoid,' and he said that 'paranoids can be right.'" Read more…

Monday, April 20, 2015

Nicholas MacLeod's World Record

     Nicholas M. MacLeod (born 8 February 1870) was heralded as a child prodigy and won the Canadian championship in 1886 at the age of 16 and again in 1888. In 1887 he tied for first but lost the play-off match for the title.
     In 1896 he moved to Minnesota in the U.S. where he won the State Championship in 1889. He moved to Spokane, Washington in 1903 where he died on 27 September 1965 at the age of 95.
     In 1900 he defeated Pillsbury in blindfold simultaneous exhibition given by Pillsbury in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He also won the 2nd Western Chess Association (later the U.S. Open) in 1901. In 2000 he was inducted into the Canadian Chess Hall of Fame.
     MacLeod once defeated Emanuel Lasker in a simultaneous exhibition in Quebec. Lasker won 15 games, drew 2 games, and lost one game (to Macleod). The game was something of an oddity because Lasker refused to resign even though he was down by two queens.
     Macleod's career wasn't all studded with success though. In the 6th American Chess Congress held in New York in 1889 he won 6 games (including one against Joseph Blackburne) and drew one but lost a whopping 31 games, finishing in last place. 38 games in one tournament?! It was a 20-player double round robin making it one of the longest tournaments in history.
      In the first half of the tournament, draws were counted as a half point. In the second half, they were replayed once. Between the 38 regular rounds, 8 replay rounds, and 4 game playoff for first at the end, there were 50 rounds in all!
     Actually the tournament consisted mostly of foreign masters and the top American finisher was Solomon Lipschutz, who finished in 6th place with a score of +22-9=7. The top places were taken by Weiss, Chigorin, Gunsberg, Blackburne and Burn.
     Chessmetrics gives his highest rating as 2396 on the May 1892 rating list which put him at number 82 in the world. Surprisingly his best performance was 2350 at the New York, 1889 event despite losing 31 games. That's because his opposition averaged 2595.
     In addition to his world record setting number of losses at the 6th American Congress, MacLeod also seems to hold another dubious distinction...after looking at a few of his games, mostly losses, I was able to find one that was particularly interesting, so for the record I am posting his defeat of Lasker with minimal notes.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

An Instructive Pillsbury Game

(I have done posts on Pillsbury in the past on his syphilis and his match with Showalter. Also, please refer to Edward Winter's fascinating article on Pillsbury HERE.)

    Everybody has heard of Pillsbury, but I doubt many have played over his games and that's a shame because there is much to be learned from them. Pillsbury excelled at attacking with an elegant simplicity that made his attacks seem effortless. He was also a pioneer in perfecting play in the Queen's Gambit, he contributed much to the theory of the Ruy Lopez and he revived the forgotten Petroff Defense. Also, few realize he also possessed outstanding endgame technique.  In fact, Wolfgang Heidenfeld wrote that Pillsbury often planned his attacks with an eye to obtaining an advantageous ending.
      In this game against Max Judd his attack on both sides of the board makes the game look simple. The final combination seems to come out of nowhere, but it was the result of something many players don't seem to grasp. Spielmann once observed he could see a combination as well as Alekhine, but he just couldn't get the positions Alekhine got. So many of Morphy's opponents lost quickly even though they were also excellent tacticians because they made strategic errors that left glaring weaknesses in their positions.
     The first thing that has to be done is examine the position for a sound forcing move, but if one can't be found, and usually they can't, a player must then find a plan. A "plan" is NOT a particular motif that is present throughout the whole game. For example, in the Exchange Variation of the Ruy Lopez white's Q-side P-majority will be a major factor if he reaches the ending, but that is only one factor in his planning because other factors may override it.
     When there is no sound tactic available one must do something constructive and short term plans, often consisting of no more than 3-4 moves, are often employed by the master. If there are no forcing moves in a position you won't be able to calculate more than 2-3 moves into the future and in those cases there is a great emphasis on the correct evaluation of the position based on positional factors. Another thing is that in games between amateurs, unlike masters, the two players often won't be calculating along the same lines anyway. Often strong players are calculating along the same lines but the their evaluation of the position is different. In any case, the trick is recognizing when exact calculation is required and when it's safe to embark on a short-term plan.
     Barring a serious blunder, which is what most amateurs seem to be waiting for when they think of tactics, the master builds up his position slowly. Strategy is often nothing more than a series of moves (sometimes no more than two or three moves) designed to reposition a piece to a better square or occupy an open file with a R and such. Purdy (I think it was) advised that when you can't think of anything to do, look for your worst placed piece and try to find a way to improve its position.
    The following game illustrates all this. Beginning at move 14 we have a position where Pillsbury must come up with an idea, or plan, and the way he does it is instructive. After black's 13th move Komodo 8 evaluates the position as being 0.43 in white's favor (in other words, equal) and suggests either 14.Na4 or 14.Rad1 but Pillsbury comes up with a deeper idea that is much better. He played 14.Qc4! which Komodo thinks is only about half as good. Also, his 16th move is evaluated at a few hundredths of a P under Komodo's recommended defense of the e-Pawn with 16.f3. and the way his N hops around creating mini-threats is very instructive.

     Then right when it looks like Judd has gotten himself a nice position where he controls the e-file and has successfully blocked Pillsbury's R on the d-file while at the same time threatening a N fork on f3, Pillsbury sacs his R for the well placed N and finishes the game with a mating attack. An explosive conclusion by Pillsbury!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Ilya Rabinovich

    Ilya Rabinovich (11 May 1891, Saint Petersburg – 23 April 1942, Perm) was a Russian master who was the first Soviet player to compete outside the USSR when in 1925 he played in a tournament in Baden-Baden, Germany. Rabinovich was very active in tournament play and had many successes.

1911 - tied for first with Platz in Saint Petersburg.
1912 - tied for 4th-5th in Vilna .
1914 - played in Mannheim and tied for 2nd-3rd in the interrupted Hauptturnier A

After the declaration of war against Russia, eleven Russian players (Alekhine, Bogoljubow, Bogatyrchuk, Flamberg, Koppelman, Maliutin, Rabinovich, Romanovsky, Saburov, Selesniev, Weinstein) from the Mannheim tournament were interned by Germany. In September 1914 four of them (Alekhine, Bogatyrchuk, Saburov, and Koppelman) were freed and allowed, through Switzerland, to return home. The Russian internees played eight tournaments, the first in Baden-Baden (1914) and all the others in Triberg im Schwarzwald (1914–1917).

Rabinovich was 3rd in Baden-Baden (Alexander Flamberg won), took 2nd at Triberg 1914/15, took 2nd at Triberg 1915, took 3rd at Triberg 1915, tied for 2nd-3rd at Triberg 1915, took 2nd at Triberg 1915/16 (all tournaments were won by Efim Bogoljubow).

In 1916 Rabinovich won in the Triberg tournament and tied for first with Selezniev at Triberg 1917.

After World War I, Rabinovich returned to St Petersburg and in 1920 won the Petrograd chess championship. In 1920 he took fourth in Moscow, the first Soviet Union championship.

1922 - finished second, behind Levenfish, in the Petrograd championship.
1923 - tied for 7th-8th in Leningrad (2nd Soviet Championship).
1923 - first in Novgorod.
1924 - finished 2nd behind Levenfish in the Leningrad championship and he finished 5th in Moscow (3nd Soviet Championship).
1925 - 7th place at Baden-Baden - tied for 1st-4th in the Leningrad championship - 3rd in Leningrad (4th Soviet Championship) - 16th in Moscow
1926 - first Leningrad - tied for 2nd-3rd in Leningrad

In 1927 Rabinovich wrote the first original book in the Russian language devoted to the endgame (The Endgame).  Updated in 1938, this classic work featured more than four hundred endings and over three hundred exercises for self-study. Today the book (published by Mongoose Press) can be found in English. When it was first published it was hailed as excellent by both Capablanca and Alekhine. Capablanca, writing in his book, Lectures, said he had done some joint analysis of endgame positions with Rabinovich and while spending the summer in Sestroretsk he used to visit him and they would check Rabinovich's analyses and on rare occasions Capa was pleased to find some errors.

1928 - won the Leningrad championship.
1933 - tied for 3rd-5th in Leningrad (8th Soviet Championship).
In 1934/35 Rabinovich shared first place with Grigory Levenfish in Leningrad (9th Soviet Championship).
At Moscow 1935 he tied for 11-14th.
In 1937 he tied for 10-12th in Tbilisi (10th Soviet Championship).
1938 - tied for 3rd-4th in Leningrad
1939 - tied for 7-8th in Leningrad–Moscow - tied for 11-12th in Leningrad (11th Soviet Championship) and 7th in the Leningrad championship
1940 - won the Leningrad championship.

Chessmetrics estimates his highest rating to have been 2620 in 1935. In June 1941 he played in interrupted semifinal of the USSR Chess Championship in Roston-on-Don. Rabinovich was taken ill during the siege of Leningrad. He was evacuated but died of malnutrition in a hospital in Perm.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The First U.S. Championship

     No, the first U.S. chess champion wasn't Paul Morphy! The first United States Chess Champion pre-dated Morphy and you have to go back to 1845 to find him. Back in those days the U.S. wasn't even seven decades old and travel was difficult and there was little contact between centers of chess activity. Philadelphia was the center of chess in the U.S. but there were some other cities with chess activity: New York, Chicago, Washington, Baltimore, Cincinnati and New Orleans.
     Each city had it champion but the most prominent and generally recognized best players were the secretary of the New York Chess Club, Charles H. Stanley who dominated New York chess and the champion of the New Orleans Chess Club, Eugene Rousseau. He was an interesting fellow: his French family in Europe included artists, poets and the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Edward Winter has a nice article on Jean-Jacques HERE.
     Originally from Paris, Rousseau honed his skills in the Cafe de la Regence and once lost a one hundred game match (!!) against Lionel Kieseritsky in 1839 and had played a bunch of offhand games against Adolf Anderssen, the man later recognized as unofficial world champion.
     Rousseau emigrated to New York around 1842 and made a name for himself by defeating Benjamin Oliver and John W. Schulten in matches. The German-born Schulten was a New York wine merchant who frequently made trips to Paris and Berlin where he had the opportunity to cross swords with Saint-Amant, de la Bourdonnais and de Riviere. Schulten was about an avid a chess player as they come and in his 30 year career he lost to just about every great player in the world.
     Rousseau's wins over Oliver and Schulten made him the hero of the New Orleans club which at the time was one of the most active in the country. In addition to Rousseau, the club boasted Ernest Morphy and Charles Le Carpentier as members.
     Stanley was also an emigre who arrived in the U.S. from London in 1842 and worked in the British Consulate. Stanley soon became the editor of the first regular newspaper chess column in America. He was also a (not very good) problem composer and briefly published a chess magazine.
     As a teenager in London, Stanley had frequented the various chess clubs and was considered one of Britain's most promising players when he defeated Howard Staunton, then the acknowledged world champion, in an odds match at "pawn and two." That is, Staunton played black in every game, removed his f-Pawn and Stanley got to play two moves in a row. This might seem like tremendous odds, but I challenge anybody to set up a position against a strong engine and try to beat it at these odds...it's not that easy! Stanley won the match easily and so there was much consternation in England when Stanley left for America shortly after the match.
     After arriving in the United States Stanley defeated everybody. Everybody that is except John Schulten who gave him a hard time in their games. The result was they ended up playing four games with Schulten only managing to win the last one.  As a result it was clear that there were only two players in the U.S. that could be considered champion material: Stanley and Rousseau.
     Patrons scrounged up $1000 for a winner-take-all match. This was an enormous amount in those days. One online inflation calculator only goes back to 1913 and in that year $1000 equals over $23,000 today. One curious fact: Bobby Fischer's prize for winning the U.S. Championship in 1960 was still $1000! In the Rousseau vs. Stanley match the first to win 15 (!) games, draws not counting, would be declared the winner. The venue was the New Orleans Chess Club in the famous Sazerac Coffee House.
     There was no time limit and no exact scheduling of the games. They didn't need to worry about such things because both players were gentlemen and it was assumed they would not abuse the time taken for each move and that after one game was completed, they would start a second game if there was time.
     Play began on December 1, 1845 and is was assumed the winner would be recognized as the United States Champion. This match was another first because up until it was played chess was usually a casual game played on Sunday afternoon. After this match players began to take chess seriously!
     Stanley won without difficulty: +15 -8 with 8 draws. Rousseau claimed he lost due to being "indisposed," or as well would say today, sick. Rousseau lost two games on the first day and then took a couple of days off because of his "illness." Play resumed on December 5th and Stanley won again which probably did not help Rousseau's health. Curiously though, Stanley wrote a book on the match titled Thirty One Games at Chess, Comprising the Whole Number of Games Played in a Match Between Mr. Eugene Rousseau, of New Orleans, and Mr. C.H Stanley, Secretary of the New York Chess Club where he confirmed his opponent's "illness." They don't publish books with titles like that any more! In any case, in the book Stanley pointed out that, "For Mr. Rousseau, in particular, allowance should be made...it being well known among his acquaintances that on commencement of the very laborious undertaking on which he had embarked, he was still suffering from the effects of a previous indisposition." Stanley's book on the match didn't sell very well; it cost fifty cents. Today it's a very rare book.
     One important feature of the book was its section on opening theory, especially on the Ruy Lopez. Stanley answered it with 3...a6 which was the first time the move had been tried in serious play in the U.S. That was important because one of the spectators was an eight-year-old kid named Paul Morphy and 13 years later Morphy would successfully use the move against Anderssen in the match that gained Morphy the recognition as best player in the world and would result in 3...a6 being known as "The Morphy Defense." That was despite the fact that Stanley lost both of the games in which he played 3 ... a6.
     All-in-all the quality of the games in the match were, by today's standard, pretty poor. For more information on Charles Stanley and one of his games see my post Who Was Charles Stanley.
     Rousseau is most "famous" as the inventor of the "Rousseau Gambit" against the Giuoco Piano. See my post on it HERE.  For more on Rousseau see  Eugene Rousseau Wikipedia   Stanley Games   Rousseau Games

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Kavalek's 9-move Combination

     Everybody knows the name Karpov, but few remember Kavalek who was a world class player in the 60's and 70's. And certainly nobody will remember the 1970 President's Cup Tournament held in Caracas that was won by Kavalek, but I discovered his win over the then world junior champion Karpov in that tournament and it is really quite amazing.

     One single square can make a big difference in a game. Here is a link to a Youtube lecture by GM Ronen Har-Zvi on the importance of squares as he examines a Kramnik vs. Van Wely game.
     In this game Kavalek played a nine move combination that featured the square d6. d6 was so important that four times Kavalek placed a piece on it and each time the effect was devastating.