Fischer, the Invincible

Recently, I was going over some games from the 1963/64 US Championship. That tournament stands out for at least three reasons.

 
(1) The winner was the first, and so far, the only one, to achieve a perfect score in the Championship.

 

(2) Fischer won his sixth Championship in a row. He would eventually win eight of them, which was another perfect score as he played in a total of eight Championships.

 

(3) Fischer played a King’s Gambit, a rarity in a national championship. It was also one of his best games.
Here is the game, annotated by Fischer, with a few additional notes (mostly to highlight some background information) by me (RME).

 

 

GM Fischer-GM Evans
US Ch.
New York, Nov. 16 1963
[Fischer, “Exclusive Commentary on Round Two”, Chess Life and Review, Jan. 1964]

1.e4 e5 2.f4 [I knew that my opponent had some prepared line (since he usually plays the Sicilian) but felt that he would be unfamiliar with the King’s Gambit. Besides, I’d made up my mind to play it in this tournament anyway.] 2…exf4 3.Bc4 [Better than 3.Nf3 which is practically refuted by 3…d6 (see my analysis in the American Chess Quarterly.)] 3…Qh4+ [Turning it into an old-fashioned slugfest. The moderns frown on this move and prefer to fight in the center with 3…Nf6 4.Nc3 c6, etc. (But 4…Qh4+ is, by far, still the most common response in the Bishop’s Gambit as it displaces White’s king and prevent him from transposing into other variants of the King’s Gambit. RME.)] 4.Kf1 d6?

[Evans said this game would set chess back a hundred years. He didn’t know how right he was! The defense he chooses was also played by LaBourdonnais against MacDonnell (20th Match Game, 1834) which continued 5.d4 Bg4 6.Qd3 Nc6 7.Bxf7+? Kxf7 8.Qb3+ Kg6 9.Qxb7 Nxd4 10.Qxa8 f3 with a winning attack. More usual is 4…g5 (or d5) 5.Nc3 Bg7 6.d4 Ne7 7.Nf3 Qh5 8.h4 h6 and it’s a hard game.

(Here is the game in its entirety.

Macdonnell-de la Bourdonnais
Match, London, 1834
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4 Qh4+ 4.Kf1 d6 5.d4 Bg4 6.Qd3 Nc6 7.Bxf7+ Kxf7 8.Qb3+ Kg6 9.Qxb7 Nxd4 10.Qxa8 Nf6 11.Na3 f3 12.g3 Bh3+ 13.Ke1 Qg4 14.Be3 d5 15.Qxa7 Nc6 16.Qxc7 d4 17.Bd2 Qxe4+ 18.Kd1 f2 19.Nxh3 Qf3+ 20.Kc1 Qxh1+ 0-1. RME)]

5.Nc3? [Returning the compliment. It’s natural that White should want to save the juicy tempo (5.Nf3!) and I make the same mistake as MacDonnell by delaying this move.] 5…Be6! [I overlooked this move. Now Black has a choice of where to put his Queen once she’s attacked. (This move also eliminates any quick victories by White as his bishop is thwarted. RME)] 6.Qe2

[Moving the bishop back is really not an option.

Harrwitz-Mayet
Match
Berlin, 1847
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4 Qh4+ 4.Kf1 d6 5.Nc3 Be6 6.Be2?! Qf6 7.d4 g5 8.d5 Bc8 9.Nf3 h6 10.h4 Be7 11.Nb5 Na6 12.Bd2 Qg7 13.Bc3 f6 14.Kg1 g4 15.Nfd4 f3 16.Bf1 Bd8 17.gxf3 gxf3+ 18.Kf2 Nc5 19.Qxf3 a6 20.Na3 Bg4 21.Qf4 h5 22.Re1 Nh6 23.Rg1 Be7 24.b4 Na4 25.Ne6 Qh7 26.Nxc7+ Kd7 27.Nxa8 Nxc3 28.Nb6+ Kc7 29.Nbc4 f5 30.Kg2 fxe4 31.Kh1 Nxd5 32.Qxe4 Qxe4+ 33.Rxe4 Bf3+ 34.Bg2 Bxe4 35.Bxe4 Nxb4 36.Rg7 Kd8 37.Bxb7 Nf5 38.Rf7 Nxh4 39.Na5 d5 40.c3 Ke8 41.Rxe7+ Kxe7 42.cxb4 Kd6 43.Bxa6 Nf5 44.Bd3 Ne7 45.Nc2 Rg8 46.Nb7+ Ke6 47.Nc5+ Kd6 48.a4 Nc6 49.Nb7+ Ke7 50.Nc5 Kd6 1/2-1/2. Fischer didn’t mention this game, but in all fairness, he didn’t have access to the Internet. RME]

6…c6 7.Nf3 (Inaccurate. Having made the mistake of delaying this move once, White should hold off a while longer and play 7.d4, which does not permit Black’s Queen to retreat to e7 without relinquishing his “f” pawn.) 7…Qe7 (If 7…Qh5 8.Nd5! Now, however, Black has time to consolidate his king’s position.) 8.d4 Bxc4 9.Qxc4 g5 (Despite White’s strong center and great lead in development, Black’s position is not easy to crack. If 10.h4 g4 11.Ne1 Bh6, etc.) 10.e5 d5 [During the game I thought Black’s best defense was 10…dxe5 11.Nxe5 (11.dxe5 Nd7 12.Ne4 Nxe5 13.Nxe5 Qxe5 14.Bd2 is unclear) 11…Nd7 12.h4 Nxe5 13.dxe5 Qxe5 14.hxg5 O-O-O 15.Bxf4 Qf5 with equality.] 11.Qd3 [11.Nxd5 cxd5 12.Qc8+ Qd8 13.Qxb7 Nd7 is unsound. (14.Nxg5? Rb8). Now the threat is simply 11.Qf5.] 11…Na6 12.Ne2 (Not 12.Qf5 Nh6 13.Qxg5 Qxg5 14.Nxg5 Nb4 15.Bxf4 Nxc2 16.Rd1 Nf5 and Black wins.) 12…Nb4 (12…f6 loses 13.Qf5 Bg7 14.exf6 Bxf6 15.Bxf4! gxf4 16.Nxf4 with a winning attack. It is important to repel White’s queen from its present diagonal.) 13.Qd1 O-O-O (Very complicated, and possibly better, is 13.c3 which leads to a more active defense.) 14.c3 Na6 15.h4 g4 16.Nh2! h5 (Better was 16…f3 17.gxf3 gxf3 18.Nxf3 f6 although White’s king is quite safe and Black lags in development. Also to be considered was 16…Qxh4 17.Nxf4! g3 18.Qg4+ Qxg4 19.Nxg4 with a powerful ending.) 17.Nxf4

2019_10_10_A
17…Qxh4? [The losing move. Relatively best is 17…Kb8 (preventing Nxh5!) (Fischer is referring to White’s threat of 18.Nxh5! Rxh5 19.Qxg4+, winning the rook and the game. RME) but his game is already bad. (The advanced pawn on e5 which is crippling Black’s play on the kingside. RME).] 18.Kg1 (Black apparently underestimated the strength of this move. He has no adequate defense now to the twin threats of 19.Nxg4 and Nf1.) 18…Nh6 (The only way to avoid outright material loss. Black originally intended 18…Bh6 but 19.Nf1 followed by Rxh5 stands him up.) 19.Nf1 Qe7 20.Nxh5 Rg8 (Black already knew he was lost and was shaking his head in amazement at how quickly White’s dead pieces had sprung to life.) 21.Nfg3 Rg6 22.Nf4 Rg5 (If 22…Rg8 23.Nxd5, etc.) 23.Be3 Nc7 (The last hope. 23…f6 is answered by 24.Qd2 fxe5 25.Nxd5, winning a full rook.) 24.Qd2 Rg8 25.Nfe2 (This piquant retreat wins a piece, putting a clear end to black’s agony.) 25…f6 (Black is still hoping for a miracle.) 26.exf6 Qxf6 27.Bxh6 Bd6 28.Rf1 Qe6 29.Bf4 Rde8 30.Rh6 Bxf4 31.Qxf4 Qe7 32.Rf6
2019_10_10_B
[Tripling on the Bishop file. (And being material up, the victory is not too far off. RME)] 32…Ne6 33.Qe5 Ng5 34.Qxe7 Rxe7 35.Rf8+ (Trading down to skin and bones.) 35…Rxf8 36.Rxf8+ 1-0

 

Back to School!

Labor Day has traditionally been the last day of summer vacation. It’s a time to go back to school and re-engage the brain.

 

Perhaps you already started school. But whether you did or not, it’s time to exercise more than a suntan. We have to get you ready for your daily quizzes, your tests, and your exams.

 

What better way start than a short, but not-so-easy chess quiz?

 

So……

 

Here it is! You can’t use the Internet, nor books, and no help from your friends. It is a quiz, after all!

 

(well…. ok – you can use friendly help.)

 

Answers and explanations available on PDF file, should you need them (and you will).

 

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Pub-Quizzes

 

ROB’S BASIC CHESS QUIZ

 

1) Where did the word, CHECKMATE, come from?

 

a) The Australians had morbid, slightly amusing, phrase that was most popular during WWII.  It was, “CHECK ON THE MATE PLEASE. HE’S DEAD”.

b) A term in which a sailing ship would briefly hit (or “checked”) another boat in order to board it, esp. in acts of piracy.

c) A Sanskrit phrase meaning “THE KING IS DEAD”.

d) An ancient Pharaoh’s curse.

 

 

2) Which chess piece is also the name of a GM?

(a) KING

(b) QUEEN

(c) ROOK

(d) KNIGHT

(e) SPRINGER

 

3) Who was not a World Chess Champion from the United States before Bobby Fischer?

(a) STEINITZ

(b) BERLINER

(c) LOMBARDY

(d) Trick Question! – Fischer was the first World Champion from the United States

(e) BELLE

 

 

4) Which word does not belong?

(a) CHECKMATE

(b) STALEMATE

(c) CASTLING

(d) RESIGNATION

(e) DRAW

 

5) Which word does not belong?

(a) KING

(b) QUEEN

(c) KNIGHT

(d) CASTLE

(e) PAWN

(f) ROOK

(g) RESIGN

(h) SACRIFICE

(i) ELO

 

 

6) Which word does not belong?

(a) PARIS

(b) MOSCOW

(c) VIENNA

(d) BERLIN

(e) BUDAPEST

 

7) A “RINGED PIECE” refers to:

 
(a) A pendant that hangs from the neck that is, or features, a chess piece.

(b) A piece of art created by Ringo Starr, who was inspired by Lennon’s chess set that featured two sets of white pieces to indicate harmony.

(c) A piece on the chessboard with a ring around it, indicating that this piece was to be the one to deliver the checkmate.

 

8) What is the definition of SCACCHIC?

(a) [n. the Computer World Champion for 1981.]

(b) [n. a famous correspondence player of the 1950’s who came up with a new move in the Two Knights Defence.]

(c) [adj. of or relating to chess.]

(d) [adj. referring to the queenside in chess.]

(e) [adj. referring to a dive into the ocean by leaping far off the side of a cliff.]

 

 

Answers below : 

Robs_Words_Quiz_Answers

 

The Thematic Pawn Move – Pushing the “e” Pawn

Generally, in an Indian Defence, if White can get his king pawn to e4, he gains the advantage. Preventing that should be one of Black’s chief concerns.

 
We’ll start with the Nimzo-Indian to illustrate some ideas with short games.

 
In the Classical Variation of the Nimzo-Indian (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2) Black sometimes plays …b6. This move allows Black to play …Bb7, preventing White’s pawn from moving to e4. Unfortunately, he is a move too slow.

 
Rubinstein-Chwojnik
Lodz, 1927
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 b6 5.e4 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 d6 7.f4 Bb7 8.e5 Ne4 9.Nf3 f5 10.exf6 Nxf6 11.Ng5 Qe7 12.Bd3 Nbd7 13.O-O O-O-O 14.Re1 e5 15.Bf5 Kb8 16.Ba3 g6 17.dxe5 gxf5 18.exd6 Qxe1+ 19.Rxe1 cxd6 20.Bxd6+ Ka8 21.Qxf5 1-0

 

Euwe-Colle
Amsterdam, 1928
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 b6 5.e4 Bb7 6.Bd3 (White’s bishop is on a great diagonal and is supported by the Queen on c2. Black should be wary of castling kingside as the h7 pawn is vulnerable.) 6…Bxc3+?! 7.bxc3 d6 8.Ne2 h6 9.O-O O-O 10.f4 Nbd7 11.e5 Ne8 12.Ng3 c5 13.Qe2 Qh4 14.f5 cxd4 15.Rf4 Qd8 16.cxd4 dxe5 17.dxe5 Nc7 18.Rg4 Qe7 19.Rxg7+ 1-0

 

Noteboom-Flohr, 1930
[ECO, E32]
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 b6 5.e4 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 d6 7.f4 e5 8.Bd3 Qe7 9.Nf3 Nc6 10.O-O Bb7 11.Re1 +/- (Of course White wants the “e” file to be opened soon.)

 

Dunne (2183)-R. Hughes (2046)
corres.
Golden Knights, 1996
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 b6 5.e4 Bb7 6.Bd3 O-O 7.e5 Bxg2 8.exf6 Bxh1 9.Bxh7+ (Of course, this is the main reason White plays .Bd3 in the first place!) 9…Kh8 10.Be4 Bxe4 11.Qxe4 Bxc3+ 12.bxc3 Nc6 13.Bg5 Kg8 14.Qh4 Re8 15.fxg7 f6 16.Bxf6 1-0

 

We’ll now take a look at the Queen’s Gambit Declined.

 

Eugenio Torre (2520)-Yukio Miyasaki (2200)
Malta Ol., Nov. 1980
[D61]
1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.d4 Be7 5.Bg5 O-O 6.e3 (Black is doing quite well here in stopping .e4.) 6…Nbd7 7.Qc2 c6 8.Bd3 h6 9.Bh4 Re8 10.O-O Nf8 11.Rad1

[11.Ne5 also worked well in Belen Miguel Fernandez-Esteban Ignacio Gonzalez de Cima, Asturias Ch. Primera B, Norena, Apr. 7 2001: 11…N6d7 12.Bxe7 Qxe7 13.f4 f6 14.Ng4 Nb6 15. c5 Nbd7 16.Rf3 e5 (On deciding on a candidate move or threat, a player should also ask if his proposed move has depth (long-term gain), a follow up plan, or if such a move also provides defense as well as attacking possibilities. Black’s threat of 17…e4 is obvious, but this move has no depth, does not provide any type of defense, and as far as we know, Black had no follow up plan.)

2019_07_18_A

17.Rg3! e4 (Black’s idea of getting HIS pawn to e4, should make equal sense as White getting his to e4. But chess is not that simple.) 18.Nxh6+! +- Kh7 19.Nf5 Qe6 20.Nxg7 Qe7 21.Nxe8 (And now White can play 22.Nxe4 and more tactics will follow.) 1-0]

 

11…Nh5 12.Bxe7 Qxe7 13.e4 (Didn’t we tell Black not to allow this move a few games back?) 13…Nf4 14.Rfe1 Nxd3 15.Qxd3 dxc4 (Just about forced as …exd5 opens lines in White’s favor.) 16.Qxc4 Bd7 17.e5 (Now if e4 is a good move for White, then e5 is even stronger.) 17…Red8 18.Nd2 b5 19.Qe2 c5 20.d5 exd5 21.Nxd5 Qh4 22.Ne4 (We’ve going to give the position a +/-, but White’s advantage is probably stronger than that evaluation.) 22…c4 23.Nd6 Ng6 24.Nxf7! Bg4?

2019_07_18_B

25.Qxg4!! (Black is lost. The game could have continued with 25…Qxg4 26.Nxh6+ gxh6 27.Nf6, but you probably figured it out.) 1-0

 

Interesting enough, in the Queen’s Gambit Accepted, White can also get the advantage with .e3 instead of .e4. An old trap goes like this: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.e3 b5 4.a4 (White could also play 4.Qf3 c6 5.a4, and merely get his pawn back with the advantage.) 4…c6 (or 4…a6 5.axb5!) 5.axb5 cxb5 6.Qf3!, winning.

This trap will catch beginners and even computers.

GM Kasparov-ELITE A/S EXPERIMENTAL
Simul
Hamburg, 1985
1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.e3 b5 4.a4 Ba6 5.axb5 Bxb5 6.Nc3 c6 7.b3 e6 8.bxc4 Ba6 9.Nf3 Nf6 10.Bd3 Bd6 11.O-O O-O 12.e4 Bb4 13.Qc2 Nh5 14.e5 f5 15.exf6 Nxf6 16.Re1 Bc8 17.Bb2 a5 18.Rad1 Ra7 19.Ne5 a4 20.Re3 a3 21.Ba1 Bb7 22.Ne2 Nbd7 23.Nf4 Re8 24.Rh3 Nf8 25.g4 h6 26.g5 hxg5 27.Nfg6 N8h7 28.Nh8 g6 29.Bxg6 Nf8 30.Nhf7 Qe7 31.d5 cxd5 32.Nh6+ Kg7 33.Bxe8 Qxe8 34.Neg4 Be7 35.Ng8 Kxg8 36.Bxf6 Ng6 37.Bxe7 1-0

Black, even with a better third move, still lost in this game:

Tarrasch-Kurschner
Nuremburg, 1889
1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.e3 Bf5!? 4.Bxc4 e6 5.Qb3 Be4 6.f3 Bc6 7.Ne2 Nf6 8.e4 Be7 9.Nbc3 Qc8 10.d5 exd5 11.exd5 Bd7 12.d6 Bxd6 13.Bxf7+ Kd8 14.Bg5 Nc6 15.Ne4 Be7 16.Bxf6 gxf6 17.O-O-O Ne5 18.Nf4 Qb8 19.Qe6 Rf8 20.Nxf6 Bd6 21.Nxd7 Nxd7 22.Rhe1 1-0

 

Maybe someone will get the bright idea, of when playing Black against a known 1.d4 player, to glue the e4 pawn to the board before the start of the game, so White can’t play his king pawn to e3, e4, e5, or any other square!

I played in a Women’s Team Championship.

Just in case you couldn’t figure it out, I’m a male.

  

So how did I play in Women’s Team Championship? This is the story.

 

Back in 1989, the Southern California Chess Federation had a very active women’s group with their own league and some very good players. It was this year they had a  Women’s Team Championship.

  

But let me step back for a moment. It was in 1988 that I started to play correspondence chess. I only mention this because my opponent I was due to play was also a correspondence player. And being a fairly strong one at that (she was a Master in correspondence).

 

 

Back to the story.

 

 

I had several female friends that were playing in this match, so I decided to drive down and watch (and hopefully get a chance to cheer).

 

 

It soon became apparent to all the players that one of the participants had car trouble and couldn’t make to the event. How she made the phone call, I don’t know – this was in the days before cell phones. But news like  this travels fast and soon they were looking for another player.

 

 

After half-heartily looking for another female player (as most of them were already playing in the event), they decided to ask me. I think it was due because of my rating, and the fact that most of the other players personally knew me.  The two games I and my opponent were to play were to be rated but not counting towards the overall score in the match.

 

 

I agreed and my opponent, Dr. Christine Rosenfield drew White for the first game.

 

Now I knew she was a good correspondence player – but I didn’t know how good and I didn’t know a thing about her 1.d4 openings. Remember this is before cell phones, the Internet, and chess web sites.  I played loosely with my response, a little loosely as it turned out. She had a strong d-pawn in the middlegame and I couldn’t do anything about it. I lost the game. Badly.

 

 

So we take a lunch break. And we both chatted about game, as well as other games that were played in the first round.

 

 

After the meal and the chatting, we started the second game. I didn’t know anything about Christine’s openings, and I felt sure she didn’t know too much about mine either. I began with my favorite opening and played 1.e4.

 

 Now I was in my territory.  I have always been good with tactics and this game featured  open lines, control of queenside and two pawns that couldn’t be stopped

 

So we tied with one victory each. A good way to start off any friendship. But, if I remember correctly, she had to move to another state the very next year.

 

 I enjoyed my experience and my games. I enjoyed my company and I got another view into chess. Dr. Christine Rosenfield has my respect. I’ve studied her correspondence games and learned how sometimes it is necessary grind away to victory. And how to use a very strong d-pawn.

 

Oh, that was an experience! 

 

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Here are some correspondence games from the Christine Rosenfield.

 

  

Christine Rosenfield (2205)-Norbert Molzahn (2350)
corres.
ICCF, WT/M/GT/264, 1989
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 d6 (I should mention here that Christine likes strong, advanced queen pawns, so this setup is perfect for her. I should also mention that correspondence players are noted, and notorious, for slowly eroding away any advantage that their opponent might have.) 4.Nc3 g6 5.e4 Bg7 6.Bd3 O-O 7.Nf3 Bg4 8.h3 Bxf3 9.Qxf3 Nbd7 (The game is about even here.) 10.O-O Ne5 11.Qe2 e6 12.Bc2

(Alternate moves include 12.Qd1 and 12.f4. Bibisara Assaubayeva (2287)-Rahneda Fiadosenka (2059), World Youth Girls U18 Ch., Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, Oct. 3 2016, continued with 12.f4 Nxd3 13.Qxd3 exd5 14.exd5 Re8 15.f5 Nd7 16.Bf4 Bd4+ 17.Kh1 Ne5 18.Bxe5 Rxe5 19.Ne4 Qh4 20.Rae1 Rae8 21.fxg6 f5 22.Nxd6 Rxe1 23.Nxe8 Qf2 24.Nf6+ Bxf6 25.gxh7+ Kxh7 26.Qxf5+ Qxf5 27.Rxe1 0-1 The text move seems the best.)

12…exd5 13.cxd5 Qe7 14.Bg5 h6 15.Bh4 g5 16.Bg3 a6 17.f4 gxf4 18.Rxf4 b5 19.Rc1 Rae8 20.Rf5 Ng6 21.Re1 Nd7 22.a4 b4 23.Nd1 a5 24.Kh2 Nde5 25.b3 Qc7 26.Ne3 Rc8 27.Rf2 Ne7 28. Ref1 Kh7 29.Kg1 N7g6 30.h4 f6 31.Ng4 Nxg4 32.Qxg4 Ne5 33.Qf5+ Kh8 34.Bd1 c4 35.Rc2 c3 36.Bh5 Nd3 37.Bf2 Nc5 38.Bg4 Qf7 39.Bxc5 dxc5 40.Rcf2 c4 41. e5 cxb3 42.e6 Qg8 43.e7 Rfe8 44.d6 c2 45.Qxc8 Rxc8 46.Bxc8 Qxc8 47.Re2 c1=Q 48.e8=Q+

2019_07_11

(A game with three queens – a rarity in correspondence. This setup does not last long, as Black’s extra queen disappears almost as fast as she first appears.) 48…Kh7 49.Rxc1 Qxc1+ 50.Kh2 Qf4+ 51.g3 Qxd6 52.Qe4+ f5 53. Qxf5+ Qg6 54.Qd7 h5 55.Rb2 Qe4 56.Rd2 Kg6 57.Qb5 Bf6 58.Rd6 Qc2+ 59.Kg1 1/2-1/2

 

Christine’s forte was playing against the Dutch.

 

 

Christine Rosenfield-J. Orlowski
corres.
USCCC – 15 prem., 2000
1.d4 e6 2.c4 f5 3.Bf4 Nf6 4.e3 b6 5.Nc3 Bb7 6.Nf3 Bb4 7.Bd3 Bxc3+ 8.bxc3 d6 9.O-O O-O 10.Re1 Ne4 11.Nd2 Nd7 12.f3 Nxd2 13.Qxd2 e5 14.Bg3 Qf6 15.Bc2 Rad8 16.Rab1 Ba6 17.Bb3 c5 18.Rbd1 f4 19.dxe5 dxe5 20.exf4 exf4 21.Qd5+ Kh8 22.Re6 Qf7 23.Bh4 Bb7 24.Qd6 Bc8 25.Bxd8 Rxd8 26.Re7 Qg6 27.Qxf4 Rg8 28.Rexd7 1-0

 

Christine Rosenfield-James L. Chessing
corres.
14th US CC Ch., P07, 1998
1.d4 e6 2.c4 f5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.e3 b6 6.Bd3 Bb7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Nge2 O-O 9.O-O Nh5 10.Bxe7 Qxe7 11.a3 d6 12.d5 Ne5 13.Nd4 Nxd3 14.Qxd3 e5 15.Nxf5 Qg5 16.g4 g6 17.Ne4 Qd8 18.Nfxd6 cxd6 19.gxh5 g5 20.f4 exf4 21.exf4 g4 22.Ng5 1-0

 

 

 

 

 

First Official U.S. Women’s Chess Champion?

I play chess on chess.com. And I’ve read many articles by the members. Some are good, some are bad, and most of them are either interesting, funny, or informative.

 

And some are incredibly researched.

 

“Batgirl”, who is the probably the best in research, gave me permission to repost this article.

 

Originally posted in chess.com on Nov. 28 2016

 

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If you look on Wikipedia, or for that matter on almost any website that mentions it, including the official USCF website and the site of the US Chess Trust,  You will notice that all these places honor Adele Rivero as the first official U.S. Women’s Chess Champion for having won the first tournament organized for that purpose in 1937.

 

Inconceivably, perhaps, all these places are perhaps completely wrong.

 

Contemporary sources indicate that the first official U.S. Women’s Chess Champion was Mona May Karff who won the first tournament designed to establish such a title in 1938.  Adele Rivero would not become an official U.S. Women’s Champion until 1940.

 

2019_04_30_A

Adele Rivero playing Mona May Karff (a.k.a. N. May Karff) in 1942

 

 

In 1904 and Carrie Kraus received an unexpected Christmas present. She met the man of her dreams. The New Year brought her a new name – Mrs. Frank James Marshall when, on January 5th, she married the man who a year later would be the premier chess player of the United States. It was perfect union. Caroline or Carrie as she was usually called, was pragmatic; Frank was a dreamer.  In 1915 Frank Marshall founded the Marshall Chess Divan which seven years later would be incorporated as the Marshall Chess Club. The Club found itself in various sites over the years but in 1931 it reached its permanent home in a magnificent old brownstone located at 23 West 10th Street, N.Y. By this time, Marshall had retired from international chess and was close to hanging up his U. S. chess champion crown which he had worn since 1909.

 

The American chess scene itself was in a state of flux and confusion. FIDE had established itself tenuously as the worldwide governing body of chess in 1924. Unlike the Soviet Union, the United States recognized FIDE, but America itself had no single, unified chess federation. Both the American Chess Federation (ACF), which could trace its roots back to 1900, and the National Chess Federation (NCF), established in 1927, claimed to speak for the American chess players. While much of the problem would be solved when they unified as the United States Chess Federation (USCF) in 1939, the intervening years would be marked by the contention between these two bodies.  


The Western Chess Association had held tournaments, called the Western  Championships, each year since 1900. Then in 1934, it changed its name to the ACF. The Western Championships evolved into what today is called the U. S. Open. The “Chess Review” magazine, founded by Israel Albert (Al) Horowitz and Isaac Kashdan in 1933, was the “Official Organ of the American Chess Federation.”  When Frank Marshall retired from U.S. chess competition in 1936, he organized an invitational tournament specifically to determine the next U. S. chess champion. This tournament was sponsored by the NCF with the Marshall Club providing the trophy.

 


The Marshall Club, whose members were the wealthy, the influential and the elite, was, like most chess venues, a Men’s Club. But fortunately Caroline Marshall took an active interest in the club. One of her agendas was the establishment, not just of organized women’s chess, but of a women’s championship.  Starting in 1934 with the first women’s tournament of this period held in the Marshall Club, the goal of a U. S. Women’s championship was reached in 1938.

 

The first tournament, held in 1934, was won by Marjorie Seaman who breezed through with a perfect 11-0 score. Adele Rivero came in second with a 9-2 score. The 1935 tournament planned in the Fall had to be  postponed until Spring of the following year.   Adele Rivero won that 1936 tournament with a 5-0 score.

 

 

The first two tournaments were sponsored solely by the Marshall Chess Club, but the 1937 tournament was to be held under the auspices of the National Chess Federation itself with the intention of legitimizing it as a national championship.

 


In 1936 the plans for the 1937 Marshall Club women’s tournament included hopes that the winner would be the officially recognized leading woman player in the U. S. and that, as such, would be sent to participate as America’s representative  to the International Ladies Tournament in Stockholm, basically the women’s world championship, that summer.  Those dreams were only partially realized.

 


According to the preeminent women’s chess chronicler of that time, Edith Weart, after Adele won the 1937 tournament,  “As the tournament this year was sponsored by the National Chess Federation, Mrs. Rivero now holds the title of woman champion of that organization.” You may notice there is absolutely no mention of “U.S.  Women’s Chess Champion.”   In fact, the following year, Edith Weart wrote:  “Feminine chess takes a step forward with the announcement by the National Chess Federation that a tournament will be held in connection with the regular U. S. Championship tournament to determine the U. S. Woman Chess Champion.” This clearly indicated that the 1938 tournament, which was eventually won by Mona May Karff, was the first “title tournament.”

 

Also, Adele Rivero, the winner of the 1937 tournament didn’t go to Stockholm.  Mary Bain, who came in second, went in her place. The event was, of course, won by Vera Menchik.


The preliminaries for the 1938 tournament were to be held in March. In the February 1938 issue of “Chess Review”, Ms. Weart wrote: “Added interest is attached to the preliminaries, because they serve as a qualifying tourney not only for the Marshall C. C. Tournament, but, as well for the U. S. Women’s Championship.” Again, this makes obvious the fact that 1938 was to be the first year the tournament would be played for the national title.

 


The question remains about what happened to the plan to make the winner of the 1937 tournament the U.S. Women’s Chess Champion.  It seems that the right of the National Chess Federation’s right to determine the U.S. Women’s Chess Champion wasn’t fully accepted and, for that reason, the winner of the 1937 ACF title was invited to participate.

 


The winner of the 1937 ACF tournament was Jean Moore Grau of Muscatine, Ohio. Mrs. Grau had the unusual distinction of having drawn against Alekhine in a blindfold simul when she was 17.   Grau proved unable or unwilling to make the arduous journey east  but proposed that she would like to meet the NCF winner someplace midway for a match to determine the best female player in the U.S.  This was agreeable especially since then the title would be the result of a consolidated effort. This match, however, never materialized and the invitation, even unaccepted, to participate in the 1938 tournament seemed to satisfy both organizations enough to declare that the winner of that tournament would be the U.S. Women’s Chess Champion.

 

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