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?




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).








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


(c) ROOK




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




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




4) Which word does not belong?





(e) DRAW


5) Which word does not belong?

(a) KING




(e) PAWN

(f) ROOK



(i) ELO



6) Which word does not belong?







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 : 



Chess Computers in 1977

Before we start, I capitalize the name of chess playing computers to clarify who (or what?) is playing White or Black. Now let’s get to the main event.






Chess computers, of course, had been in development for a couple of decades before 1977. But in that year, several notable events brought the chess computer to the public’s attention.


But let’s first mention that the International Computer Chess Association was established, which is important to this article, even if the public was not aware of it.


More worthy for public interest was the first microcomputer chess playing machines, CHESS CHALLENGER and BORIS, were created and sold to the general public. You could now buy a computer to play chess. Even better was the fact they were not too strong and existed more of a novelty than a challenge, making them easy prey to most players. Nevertheless, I heard many people brag how they “beat the computer”, or they were “better than a computer”. What they sometimes forget to mention they played the same opening repeatedly, until they got the result they wanted. Not exactly cheating, but not entirely honest either! (I must pause and smile here, as I the only reason I didn’t do such things was that I couldn’t afford these machines).


Also, in 1977, CHESS 4.6, a stronger machine than either CHESS CHALLENGER or BORIS, became the first chess computer to win a major chess tournament. That occurred at 84th Minnesota Open in February of 1977. It achieved an Expert USCF rating.


In August, SNEAKY PETE played in the U.S. Open. It was the first machine to do so, was promoted and gathered much attention, but its results were not impressive.

The December 1977 issue of Chess Life and Review had this to say;


“Computers were everywhere during the U.S. Open. A major attraction for the entire tournament was SNEAKY PETE. The poor machine had to stick it out on Board 69 for the entire two weeks and was constantly surrounded and scrutinized by Class As and Experts. SNEAKY rated 1209, was so nervous he lost seven games in a row. And every back-rank mate was immortalized in the daily games bulletins.”


In 1977, Michael Stean, who earlier in the year earned the GM title, became the first Grandmaster to lose a computer program.


CHESS 4.6-GM Michael Stean
Blitz Game
London, 1977
1.e4 b6 2.d4 Bb7 3.Nc3 c5 4.dxc5 (This does not seem best. 4.d5!? is probably better.) 4…bxc5 5.Be3 d6 6.Bb5+ Nd7 7.Nf3 e6 8.O-O a6 9.Bxd7+ Qxd7 10.Qd3 Ne7 11.Rad1 Rd8 12.Qc4 Ng6 13.Rfe1 Be7 14.Qb3 Qc6 15.Kh1 O-O 16.Bg5 Ba8 17.Bxe7 Nxe7 18.a4 Rb8 19.Qa2 Rb4 20.b3 f5 21.Ng5 fxe4 22.Ncxe4 Rxf2 23.Rxd6 Qxd6 24.Nxd6 Rxg2 25.Nge4 Rg4 26.c4 Nf5 27.h3 Ng3+ 28.Kh2 Rxe4 29.Qf2 h6 30.Nxe4 Nxe4 31.Qf3 Rb8 32.Rxe4 Rf8 33.Qg4 Bxe4 34.Qxe6+ Kh8 35.Qxe4 Rf6 36.Qe5 Rb6 37.Qxc5 Rxb3 38.Qc8+ Kh7 39.Qxa6 1-0

But this was a blitz game. Chess computers still could not compete against World Champions, either current or past, in blitz games, or under tournament conditions.


Fischer (yes, that one!) play three games against a chess computer. The first one is the most well-known and perhaps his best effort.


Greenblatt was the name of the programmer. I do not know the name of his computer, or if it even had one, so I’ll just use his name.


Here are the three games Fischer was known to have played after his 1972 World Championship win.


Cambridge, 1977
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4 d5 4.Bxd5 Nf6 5.Nc3 Bb4 6.Nf3 O-O 7.O-O [Fischer liked to experiment with the Bishop’s Gambit, probably as a result of publishing an article titled, The King’s Gambit is Busted, where he showed how Black should win after 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 d6. Here’s a game from his simul tour of 1964: GM Fischer-Nyman, Simul, Cicero, May 20 1964, 7.O-O Bxc3 8.dxc3 c6 9.Bc4 Qb6+ 10.Kh1 Nxe4 11.Qe1 Re8 12.Bxf4 Nd6 13.Bxd6 Rxe1 14.Raxe1 Bd7 15.Ng5 Na6 16.Rxf7 1-0.] 7…Nxd5 8.Nxd5 Bd6 9.d4 g5 10.Nxg5 Qxg5 11.e5 Bh3 12.Rf2 Bxe5 13.dxe5 c6

14.Bxf4 +- Qg7 15.Nf6+ Kh8 16.Qh5 Rd8 17.Qxh3 Na6 18.Rf3 Qg6 19.Rc1 Kg7 20.Rg3 Rh8 21.Qh6mate 1-0


Cambridge, 1977
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.d4 Bg7 4.Nc3 cxd4 [Black tried the original 4…b6 in GM Božidar Ivanović-Grigic, Vinkovic, 1982 and lost after the spectacular 5.dxc5! bxc5 6.Qd5 Bxc3+ 7.bxc3 Qa5 8.Qxa8 Qxc3+ 9.Kd1! 1-0.] 5.Nxd4 Nc6 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.e5 Ng8 9.f4 f6 10.exf6 Nxf6 11.Bc4 d5 12.Be2 Rb8 13.b3 Ng4 14.Bd4 e5 15.fxe5 O-O 16.Bxg4 Qh4+ 17.g3 Qxg4 18.Qxg4 Bxg4 19.Rf1 Rxf1+ 20.Kxf1 c5 21.Bf2 Bxe5 22.Be1 Rf8+ 23.Kg2 Rf3 24.h3 Rxc3 25.Bxc3 Bxc3 26.Rf1 Bf5 27.Rf2 h5 28.Re2 Kf7 29.Re3 Bd4 30.Rf3 Ke6 31.c3 Be5 32.Re3 d4 33.cxd4 cxd4 34.Re1 d3 35.h4 d2 36.Rd1 Bc3 37.Kf2 Bg4 38.Rh1 Bd4+ 39.Kg2 [Any player would automatically see that promoting the pawn would force White to part with his rook for bishop (winning the exchange and eventually win the game). Fischer, however, wants the rook for free.]
39…Kd5! 40.a3 Ke4 41.Rf1 Kd3 42.Kh2 Ke2 43.Kg2 Bh3+ 44.Kxh3 Kxf1 45.b4 d1=Q 46.Kh2 Qe2+ 47.Kh3 Qg2mate 0-1


Cambridge, 1977
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 e5 7.Nb3 Be7 8.Be3 O-O 9.Qd3 Be6 10.O-O Nbd7 11.Nd5 Rc8 12.Nxe7+ Qxe7 13.f3 d5 14.Nd2 Qb4 15.Nb3 dxe4 16.Qd1 Nd5 17.Ba7 b6 18.c3 Qe7 19.fxe4 Ne3 20.Qd3 Nxf1 21.Qxa6 Ne3 22.Bxb6 Qg5 23.g3 Ra8 24.Ba7 h5 25.Qb7 h4 26.Kf2 hxg3+ 27.hxg3 f5 28.exf5 Rxf5+ 29.Ke1 Raf8 30.Kd2 Nc4+ 31.Kc2 Qg6 32.Qe4 Nd6 33.Qc6 Rf2+ 34.Kd1 Bg4 35.Bxf2 Qd3+ 36.Kc1 Bxe2 37.Nd2 Rxf2 38.Qxd7 Rf1+ 39.Nxf1 Qd1mate 0-1



It would take another two decades for chess computers to score a win against World Champion.

A computer chess tournament




Chess playing computers are good at several things. They are superb at tactics, discover hidden resources if being attacked, find checkmates, and they don’t get tired.


Earlier today it was reported on that LCO (LeelaChessZero) won the Computer Chess Championship. LCO is a different type of chess playing computer. It does not rely on brute strength, nor a large opening base. Instead, the program is instructed to learn from its mistakes from playing itself in thousands and thousands of games.


LC0 finished with a score of 167.5/300


Below are two games from the event.


Blitz Game (5/2)
CCC 7: Blitz Bonanza Final, Apr.6 2019
1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.c3 dxc3 4.Nxc3 (Hiderland, back in 1970, showed how 4.Bc4 cxb2 5.Bxb2 loses to 5…d5! 6.Bxd5 Bb4+ 7.Kf1 Nf6 8.Qa4+ Nc6 9.Bxc6+ bxc6 10.Qxb4 Qd1+! 11.Qe1 Ba6+ 12.Ne2 Bxe2+ -+.) 4…Bc5 5.Bc4 d6 6.Nf3 Nf6 7.O-O O-O 8.Bg5 Nbd7 9.Nd5 c6 (No player, carbon or silicon based, would want the White knight to remain on d5.) 10.Nxf6+ Nxf6 11.Qc2 Re8 12.Rfe1 Qc7 13.Bxf6 gxf6 14.Qd2 Kg7 15.b4 Bb6 16.Rad1 Be6 17.Bxe6 fxe6 18.Qxd6 Qxd6 19.Rxd6 Red8 20.Red1 (Not 20.Rxe6 because of 20…Kf7!) 20…Rxd6 21.Rxd6 Kf8 22.Kf1 a5 23.Rd7 axb4 24.Rxb7 Ra6 25.e5 fxe5 26.Ng5 h5 27.h4 Bd4 28.Nxe6+ Kg8 29.Rxb4 c5 30.Rb8+ Kf7 31.Nxd4 exd4 32.Rc8 Ra5 33.g4 hxg4 34.h5 Kg7 35.Rc6 Kh7 36.a4 d3 37.Ke1 Rxa4 38.Rxc5 Rd4 39.Rc6 d2+ 40.Kd1 Rf4 41.Kxd2 Rxf2+ (The game is completely even as both kings can’t capture the last pawn. Adjudicated as drawn.) 1/2-1/2


Blitz Game (5/2)
CCC 7: Blitz Bonanza Final, Apr. 6 2019
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 Qa5 7.Bd2 Qa4 8.h4 Ne7 9.Qg4!? (More usual is 9.Qb1) 9…Kf8 10.h5 h6 11.Rh3 [An interesting and short game was Frank B. Johnson (2191)-Benedict A. Smail (2120), PRO Chess League (Pacific),, Jan. 11 2017, which continued with 11.Qd1 Nbc6 12.Nf3 b6 13.Rh4 cxd4 14.Rb1 Ba6 15.Nxd4 Bc4 16.Bxc4 dxc4 17.Qf3 Rc8 18.Nxe6+ Kg8 19.Rg4 fxe6 20.Qf6 g5 21.Bxg5 Nxe5 22.Bxh6+ 1-0] 11…Nbc6 12.Qf4 b6 13.Rf3 Nd8 14.dxc5 Qxf4 15.Bxf4 bxc5 16.Be3 c4 17.Rh3 f6 18.f4 fxe5 19.fxe5 Nf7 20.Nf3 Nc6 21.Bf4 Ke7 22.Be2 [White has a slight advantage due to the better coordination of his pieces.] 22…Rg8 23.O-O-O Bd7 24.Nh4 Kd8 25.Ng6 a5 26.Rf1 Ne7 27.Bg4 Nxg6 28.hxg6 Nh8 29.Bh5 Kc7 30.Be3 Kc6 31.Rf7 a4 32.Rhf3 Nxf7 33.gxf7 Rh8 34.Bf2 Raf8 35.Bh4 g5 36.Bf2 Rh7 37.Bd4 Rhh8 38.Rf6 Kb5 39.Kd2 Kc6 40.Ke3 Kb5 41.Kf3 Kc6 42.Kg4 Bc8 43.Bg6 Bd7 44.Kh5 [White definitely has the advantage now thanks to his advanced pawn on f7. So how does he (it?) press the advantage?]


44…Kb5 45.g3 (Excellent! White just improves his position before starting any type of attack.) 45…Rb8 46.Rf1 Kc6 47.Rf6 Kb5 (Black does not mind repeating moves. But White is not going to let the win slip away with a draw.) 48.Rf1 Kc6 49.g4 Rbf8 50.Rb1 Ra8 51.Rb4 (White continues his to improve his position.) 51…Ra6 52.Bh7! Rf8 53.Kg6 Ra5 54.Rb6+! Kc7 55.Kg7 Raa8 [The win is (relatively) easy now.]
56.Bc5 Rfc8 57.Rd6 (Black’s rook wouldn’t mind moving to h8 and attempt to activate his kingside pawns with …h5, etc. But he can’t immediately move there; 57…Rh8? 58.Bg8! +-.) 57…Rcb8 58.Bg6 Rh8 59.Kf6 Rab8 60.Ra6 Rbc8 61.Ra7+ Kc6 62.Bd6 Rcd8 63.Rxa4 h5 64.gxh5 g4 65.Rb4 g3 66.Rb1 Bc8 67.Rg1 d4 68.Be4+ Kb5 69.a4+! Ka6 (Not 69…Kxa4? due to 70.Bc6+! Ka5 71.Bc5 threatening 72.Ra1#.) 70.Rxg3 d3 71.cxd3 Bd7 72.dxc4 Rc8 73.Rg7 Rcd8 74.c5 Rc8 75.Bd3+ Ka5 76.Rg4 Bc6 77.Rb4 Bd5 78.Rb6 Kxa4 79.c6 Bxc6 80.Rb4+ Ka3 81.Rb6+ Ka2 82.Bb1+ Ka1 83.Bg6 Bf3 84.c4 Ka2 85.Ra6+ Kb2 86.Rb6+ Kc3 87.c5 Ra8 88.c6 Rh6 89.Bb4+ Kd4 90.c7 Rhh8 91.Rd6+ Kc4 92.Rxe6 Kxb4 93.Rd6 Rhc8 94.e6 Kc5 95.Rd3 Be2 96.Rc3+ Kb4 97.Rc2 Bg4 98.e7
(An enviable position. Most players only dream about having three pawns on the seventh rank.) 98…Bd7 99.h6 (Shall we try for a fourth pawn on the seventh?) 99…Kb3 100.Rc5 Rh8 101.h7 (Got it!)
101…Rac8 102.Be4 Kb4 103.Rc1 Ka5 104.Ke5 Bg4 105.Ra1+ Kb6 106.Rb1+ Ka5 107.Rb7 Rce8 108.c8=Q [White doesn’t want to give Black any counterplay (after …Rxe7+), even if it would cost him a queen or two. Still, it seems that 108.Kf6 is better.] 108…Rxc8 109.f8=Q Rcxf8 110.exf8=Q Rxf8 111.Rg7 Re8+ 112.Kf6 Bc8 113.Rg8 Re6+ 114.Kg5 Rxe4 115.h8=Q Rg4+ 116.Kh5 Rxg8 117.Qxg8 Ba6 118.Qb3 Bf1 119.Qa2+ Kb4 120.Qb1+ Ka3 121.Qxf1 Kb4 (White has a forced mate, was not in time trouble with the 2 second delay, and yet Black plays on.) 122.Kg4 Kc5 123.Qd3 Kb4 124.Kf5 Kc5 125.Ke5 Kc6 126.Qd5+ Kc7 127.Qb5 Kd8 128.Kd6 Kc8 129.Qb3 Kd8 130.Qb8mate 1-0