Secret Games of Botvinnik vs. Averbakh

During his playing career Botvinnik battled played a number of players who were of GM strength in secret matches. They were all played in the USSR, and were meant to prepare him for Olympiads, important tournaments, and matches with Western (i.e., non-Warsaw Pact) players.

They were played in secret so Botvinnik could experiment with different openings, and of course to keep any loses away from prying Western eyes.

His most common match player during the 1950s was GM Averbakh.


As he put it, “As a sparring partner, I evidently suited Botvinnik, and over the next two years we played about 25 training games. The time control was the standard one of two and a half hours for 40 moves. If a game remained unfinished, it was not normally resumed.”


Here are four of those secret games.




GM Botvinnik-GM Averbakh
Training Game
Moscow, Oct. 1955
[By the mid-1950s, Averbakh was considered an expert in the endgame. But here, he never gets to the endgame!]
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 O-O 9.g4 Nxd4 10.Bxd4 Qa5 11.h4 Be6 12.h5 Rfd8 13.hxg6 hxg6 14.a3 d5 15.e5 Nd7 16.Qh2 Nf8 17.Bd3 f6 18.exf6 exf6 (White has the advantage and can win a number of ways. He chooses the most direct route.)



19.b4! (Trapping the queen.) 1-0



GM Botvinnik-GM Averbakh
Training Game, June 6 1955
[With everything else being equal, a passed pawn is worth more than a pawn.]
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 O-O 5.Bd3 d5 6.Nf3 c5 7.O-O Nc6 8.a3 (8.Qc2 is also good.) 8…Ba5 9.cxd5 exd5 10.dxc5 Bxc3 11.bxc3 Bg4 12.c4 Ne5 13.cxd5 Nxf3+ 14.gxf3 Bh3 15.e4! (White is willing to give up the exchange for a powerful, mobile pawn center.) 15…Nd7

[So why can’t Black take advantage of the exchange sacrifice?

Here is one answer:

Jesus Rodriguez-Oscar Vieira Ferreira (2065)
Argentina Team Tournament
Tucuman, 1971
15.e4 Bxf1 16.Bxf1 Nd7 17.Be3 f5 18.Bh3 fxe4 19.fxe4 Ne5 20.f4 Nc4 21.Qd4 Nxe3 22.Qxe3 Qf6 23.Rf1 Rae8 24.e5 g5 25.Qg3 Qg7 26.Be6+ Rxe6 27.dxe6 gxf4 28.Qxg7+ Kxg7 29.Rd1 Rf5 30.Rd7+ Kg6 31.Rd5 Kg7 32.e7 Kf7 33.e6+ Kxe6 34.Rxf5 1-0.

The text game provides another answer.]

16.Kh1 Bxf1 17.Bxf1 Nxc5 18.Be3 b6 19.e5 Qd7 20.f4 Rfd8 21.Bg2 Rac8 22.Qf3 Nb3 23.Rd1 Rc3 24.f5 Nc5 25.f6 Rd3 26.Rg1 g6 27.Qf4 Qe8 28.Bxc5 bxc5 29.Re1 R3xd5 30.Bxd5 Rxd5 31.Qh6 Qf8 32.Qh3 Qd8




33.e6! 1-0



GM Botvinnik-GM Averbakh
Training Game, Oct. 1956
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 O-O 5.Bd3 c5 6.a3 Bxc3+ 7.bxc3 Nc6 8.e4 cxd4 9.cxd4 Nxd4 10.e5 Qa5+ 11.Kf1 Ne8 12.Bb2!? [White has two good choices here; 12.Bd2 (ECO’s line), and 12.Bb2, which seems to be a Botvinnik TN.] 12…Nc6 13.Nf3 f5 14.Qc2 d6 15.Re1 dxe5 16.Nxe5 Nf6 17.h3 Qc5 18.g4 Ne4 19.Nxc6 Qxc6




20.Rg1! (White’s next moves are designed to open the diagonals for his bishops by eliminating the center pawns.) 20…Rf7 21.Re3 Qc5?! (21….Kf8 might seem anti-thematic, and perhaps even a little bizarre, but it’s important to get out of the soon-to-opened g-file.) 22.gxf5 exf5 23.Bxe4 fxe4 24.Qc3 1-0



GM Botvinnik-GM Yuri Averbakh
Training Game, 1956
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 f5 4.Nc3 fxe4 5.Nxe4 Be7 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.d3 Nf6 8.Qe2 [Botvinnik has what he wants; a few small advantages (in this case, space and positional) he can take to the endgame.] 8…Bg4 9.h3 Bxf3 10.Qxf3 Qd5 11.Bg5

[Also good is 11.O-O O-O 12.Be3 Rad8 13.b3 b6 14.Rad1 Qd7 15.Nxf6+ Rxf6 16.Qg4 Qd5 17.Qe4 Rg6 18.Kh1 Re8 19.f3 Rf8 20.Bg1 Bd6 21.Rde1 Re8 22.Re2 Rg5 23.Bh2 Rh5 24.Rfe1 Qa5 25.Qxc6 1-0, E. Szalanczy (2237)-M. Lyell (2225), First Saturday, Budapest, Sept. 4 2012.]

11…Nxe4 12.dxe4 Qf7 13.Qxf7+ Kxf7 14.Be3 Ke6 (Black’s king travels to the center to contest the center squares.) 15.Ke2


(White’s advantages are now easier to perceive. One is that two of Black’s queenside pawns are doubled. A bigger problem is that his e5-pawn is isolated. Finally, White’s bishop has more freedom of movement than Black’s. Black’s biggest plus is his strongly placed king on e6.)


[Black can also try 15…Rad8. After 16.Rad1 (not 16.Bxa7? b6!) 16…Rd6 17.Rxd6+ cxd6 18.a4 (Again, not 18.Bxa7? due to 18… a8). Stockfish prefers 15…Rad8 16.h4 h5 17.g3 Rd7 18.a4 g6 19.Rag1 a6 20.Ra1 Rhd8 21.f3 Rf8 22.Rhg1 Rdd8 23.Rgb1 Rf7 or even the more immediate 15….h5 16.h4 a6 17.g3 Rad8 18.a4 a5 19.Rag1 g6 20.Rc1 Rhf8 21.Ra1 Rh8 22.Rag1 b6 23.f3 Rhf8. Verdict: White has definite, and annoying (for Black), advantages. The big question is: “Can White win?” The answer is: “Probably yes, especially if you are a GM”.]

16.h4 Rf7 17.h5 h6 18.Rh3 Bg5 19.Rd1 Raf8 20.f3 a5 21.Rg3 Kf6 22.Rg4 a4 23.g3 Ke6 24.Rf1 Bxe3 25.Kxe3 Rd7 26.f4 Rf6 27.Rg6 Kf7 28.fxe5 Rxf1 29.e6+ Ke7 30.exd7 1-0


[30….Kxd7 31.Rxg7+ Kd6 (31…Kd8 is passive. White will eventually win by slowly, surely, and simply moving up the board. Black’s only chance to bring his king up and challenge White for control of the board. But White still wins.) 32.Rg6+ Ke5 33.Rxh6 Rc1 34.Rh8.]

50 Years Ago

On Apr. 17th 1970, just after the conclusion USSR vs. Rest of the World match, a blitz tournament took place in Herceg Novi, then part of Yugoslavia.


Many of the world class players who participated in the USSR match joined the blitz tournament. Among them were three ex-world champions (Smyslov, Petrosian, and Tal), one future world champion (Fischer would win the title two years later), other players who had participated in the world championship matches and tournaments, and still others who would in the future.


Despite several renowned Soviet blitz players, it was Fischer, then in his prime, who captured first place. By a large margin.


The difference between Fischer and second placed Tal (who was one of the renowned Soviet players), was an outstanding 4 ½ points.


Many of the games were not recorded, which was understandable in the pre-computer days. However, many Tal’s games (about half) could not be reconstructed or were not available after play. This is all more surprising given that Tal was known for his phenomenal memory.


Still we have some wonderful games from the tournament. Various games of the top two players from the tournament are given below. Their games are still popular and enjoyable five decades later.







GM Fischer-IM Ostojic
Blitz Game
Herceg Novi, Apr. 17 1970
[This game has been published in various publications and blogs, including this one.]
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.e5 Ng8 8.Bc4 Bg7 9.Bf4 Qa5 10.O-O Bxe5 11.Bxe5 Qxe5 12.Re1 Qc7

13.Qd4! +- (13.Qd5 would also work but this is the fastest way to victory.) 13…f6 14.Bxg8 Rxg8 15.Qxf6 d5 16.Re2 Ba6 17.Nxd5 cxd5 18.Qxa6 Rf8 19.Rae1 Rf7 20.Qe6 Rd8 21.c3 Kf8 22.g3 d4 23.cxd4 Rxd4 24.Qe5 Qxe5 25.Rxe5 Rd2 26.R1e2 Rxe2 27.Rxe2 Rf6 28.Kf1 Rc6 29.Ke1 e6 30.Kd2 Ke7 31.Re4 Rb6 32.b3 Ra6 33.a4 Kd6 34.Rh4 h5 35.Rd4+ Ke7 36.Kc3 Rc6+ 37.Rc4 Ra6 38.Rc7+ Kf6 39.Kb4 Rb6+ 40.Kc4 a6 41.a5 Rd6 42.b4 Rd2 43.Kc5 Rxf2 44.Kb6 e5 45.Kxa6 e4 46.b5 e3 47.Rc1 Ke5 48.b6 Rg2 49.b7 Rb2 50.Ka7 g5 51.b8=Q+ Rxb8 52.Kxb8 1-0


GM Tal-GM Fischer
Blitz Game
Herceg Novi, Apr. 17 1970
[For most of the game it is even. White eventually gets the advantage, only to see the advantage, and then the game, slip away.]
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Nc3 e5 4.Bc4 Be7 5.d3 Nf6 6.O-O Nc6 7.Ne1!? (A move deserving of more attention. ECO gives 7.Ng5 O-O 8.f4 h6 9.Nf3 exf4, leading to an equal game.) 7…O-O 8.f4 [Despite position’s almost pacific appearance, the game has a lot of tension. From this position, played 33 years later, Black chose 8.exf4 and soon gained the advantage: 9.Bxf4 Be6 10.Bxe6 fxe6 11.h3 Qe8 12.Bh2 Qg6 13.Nf3 Nh5 14.Ne2 Rf7 15.Nd2 Raf8 16.Rxf7 Rxf7 17.c3 Bh4 18.Nc4 d5 19.exd5 exd5 20.Ne5 Nxe5 21.Bxe5 Rf2 22.g4 Qg5 23.Bg3 Bxg3 24.Nxg3 Qf4 25.Nf1 Ng3 0-1 (Kim Pilgaard – George-Gabriel Grigore, Kings Cup, Bucharest, 2003).] 8…a6 9.a4 exf4 10.Bxf4 Be6 11.Bxe6 fxe6 12.Bg3 Qb6 13.Qd2 Ng4 14.Nf3 Nd4 15.Rab1 Nxf3+ 16.gxf3 Ne5 17.Kg2 Ng6 18.Ne2 Nh4+ 19.Bxh4 Bxh4 20.b4 Qc7 21.bxc5 dxc5 22.a5 Rf6 23.f4 Raf8 24.Rb6 Bg5 25.e5 Rf5 26.Rxe6 Qf7 27.Rd6 Bxf4 28.Rxf4 Rxf4 29.Nxf4 Qxf4 30.Qxf4 Rxf4 31.Rd7 (White has the advantage due to his advanced pawns and Black’s isolated king on the back rank. But the game still needs to be won!) 31…Ra4 32.e6 Kf8 33.Rf7+ Ke8 34.Rxg7 Rxa5 35.Rxb7 Ra2 36.Kf3 Rxc2 37.Rxh7 c4 38.d4 c3 39.d5 Rd2 40.Ke4 c2 41.Rc7 Kd8 42.Rc4 a5 43.h4 a4 44.Ke5 a3 45.d6 Re2+ 46.Kf5 Rf2+ 47.Kg4 a2




48.d7?? (White falters at the moment of truth ; 48.e7+ Kd7 49.Rc7+ Kxd6 50.e8=Q Kxc7 51.Qe5+ Kd7 52.Qd4+ Ke7 53.Qb4+ Ke6 54.Qb6+ Kd7 55.Qb7+ Ke8 56.Qc8+ and it’s a draw!) 48…Ke7 49.Rc8 Rd2 50.Re8+ Kf6 51.e7 Rxd7 (Black promotes first and gives the first check. Bobby, like most of his games of the tournament, was also probably ahead in time.) 0-1


GM Tal-GM Uhlmann
Blitz Game
Herceg Novi, Apr. 17 1970
[One does not give Tal a free tempo!]
1.g3 d5 2.Bg2 Nf6 3.c4 dxc4 4.Nf3 Nbd7 5.O-O a6 6.Na3 c5 7.Nxc4 e6 8.d4 Rb8? (The rook does nothing except to get itself into trouble. Better, and more enterprising, is 7…Nb6!?) 9.Bf4 Ra8 10.dxc5 Nxc5? (Better for Black is 10….Nd5, and while not winning, it has the dual benefits of not losing more tempi and getting somewhat out of the pin.) 11.Bd6 Nxc5 12.Bxf8 Kxf8 13.Qd4 Nd7 14.Rac1 h5 15.Rfd1 Qf6 16.e4 Qxd4 17.Rxd4 N5f6 18.Nd6 Ke7 11.Qxd8+ Kxd8 12.Rfd1+ Nfd7 13.Nb6 Ra7 14.Bb8!






GM Tal-GM Borislav Ivkov
Blitz Game
Herceg Novi, Apr. 17 1970
1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.Bg5 h6 5.Be3 b6 6.Nf3 Bb7 7.Bd3 Nd7 (When Black makes this move the message he sends out is, “I’m going to play …e5 or …c5.” If he doesn’t make either of these two moves, then the message becomes, “Attack me!”. Black doesn’t make this error, but Tal still attacks!) 8.Qd2 c5 9.O-O-O Ngf6 10.b3 c4 11.Bxc4 Nxe4 12.Nxe4 Bxe4 13.Rhe1 Bxf3 14.gxf3 e6 15.Bf4 Nf6



16.Bxe6! fxe6 17.Rxe6+ Kf7 18.Rxd6 (White also has 18.d5) 18…Qc8 19.Be5 Rd8 20.Rxd8 Qxd8 21.Rg1 Qd7 22.Qd3 Qf5 23.Qc4+ Qe6 24.Qc7+ Qe7 25.Qc4+ Qe6 26.Qd3 Qf5 27.Qc4+ Qe6 28.Qxe6+ Kxe6 29.Rxg6 … 1-0

GM Tal-GM Korchnoi
Blitz Game
Herceg Novi, Apr. 17 1970
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 c5 4.Ngf3 a6 5.exd5 exd5 6.Be2 c4 7.O-O Bd6 8.Re1 Ne7 9.b3 b5 10.a4 c3 11.Nf1 b4 12.Ne5 O-O 13.Bf4 f6? 14.Nd3 Bxf4 15.Nxf4 Qd6 16.Bf3! Nbc6 17.Ne3 Qxf4 18.Nxd5 Nxd5 19.Bxd5+ Kh8 20.Bxc6 Ra7 21.Qe2 Qxd4 22.Rad1 Qc5 23.Qe8 Raf7 24.Rd5 Qb6 25.Qxf7 1-0

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.

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

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
[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?




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.

An Introduction to the Magnus Smith Trap.

An early …Nc6 in the Sozin Dragon (1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 g6 6.Bc4 Nc6?!) is not particularly useful, or even safe, for Black. White has a forceful reply with after 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.e5. It’s now more commonly known as the Magnus Smith trap.


The trap was well known before the 20th century. A 19th century example is given below.


Vienna, 1882
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 d6 6.Bc4 g6 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.e5 Ng4 9.exd6 Qxd6 10.Qe2 Bg7 11.Ne4 Qc7 12.h3 Ne5 13.Bf4 Nd3+ 14.cxd3 Qxf4 15.O-O O-O 16.Rac1 Rb8 17.Rc2 Rb6 18.a3 Be5 19.g3 Qf5 20.g4 Qf4 21.Ng3 Qd4 22.Qf3 Rxb2 23.Ne2 Qb6 24.Rxb2 Qxb2 25.d4 Bd6 26.a4 Bb7 27.Qd3 Qb6 28.Rb1 Qc7 29.h4 Qd7 30.Qf3 Bc8 31.g5 Qh3 32.Qxh3 Bxh3 33.Rb3 Bc8 34.Nc3 Kg7 35.Ne4 Bc7 36.d5 cxd5 37.Bxd5 Rd8 38.Bc6 Bb6 39.Kg2 f5 40.gxf6+ exf6 41.h5 f5 42.Ng5 Rd2 43.Nh3 Rd6 44.Bf3 Rd2 45.hxg6 hxg6 46.Bc6 Kh6 47.Kg3 g5 48.Rc3 g4 49.Be8 Bb7 50.Bc6 Ba6 51.Bg2 gxh3 52.Rc6+ Kg7 53.Bxh3 Bb7 54.Re6 Bxf2+ 55.Kh2 Bh4+ 56.Kg1 Bd5 57.Rd6 Bf2+ 0-1

So why is this trap known as the Magnus Smith trap, and not the Blackburne trap?


For at least two reasons. One is that Blackburne didn’t play the best moves and lost the game, so most players did not notice how powerful White’s attack could be.


Secondly, the first known player to properly analyze the trap and have it published was the Canadian player, Magnus Smith (1869–1934). A player of master strength, he played this now well-known trap against Kreymborg in the sixth round of the 1911 New York Masters Open and won in 49 moves.


This game, plus a related article by Smith, was published in the March 1911 issue of the American Chess Bulletin. The game can be found on page 59 and the article on pages 62-63.


Magnus Smith-Alfred Kreymborg
New York Masters Open, 1911
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bc4 g6 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.e5 Ng4 (Of course not, 8…dxe5?? because of 9.Bxf7+, winning the queen. A trap not easy to see, but only if you have seen it played before. Many beginners have been on the wrong side of it.) 9.Bf4 (This is perhaps White’s best move.) 9…d5 (The text move, along with 9…Qb6 10.Qf3, are the two main responses to 9.Bf4.) 10.Nxd5 cxd5 11.Bxd5 Be6 12.Bc6+ Bd7 13.Bxa8 Qxa8 14.O-O Bg7 15.Re1 h5 16.Qd2 Bc6 17.Rad1 Nh6 18.c4 Nf5 19.f3 O-O 20.Qc2 e6 21.b4 a6 22.a4 Qa7+ 23.Kh1 Rc8 24.b5 Be8 25.Qe4 Bf8 26.Re2 Be7 27.g4 hxg4 28.fxg4 Ng7 29.Be3 Qa8 30.Qxa8 Rxa8 31.Rc1 axb5 32.axb5 Rc8 33.Kg2 Kf8 34.Kf3 Bd7 35.Rd1 Be8 36.Rc1 Bd7 37.Ra2 Bd8 38.Rd2 Be8 39.Rb2 Rb8 40.Ke2 Bc7 41.Bd4 Bd7 42.Rcb1 Ne8 43.c5 f6 44.c6 fxe5 45.Be3 Bc8 46.b6 Bd6 47.b7 e4 48.Ba7 Be5 49.Bxb8 1-0


The Magnus Smith trap has been named after him for his game, commentary, and publication of this now well-known trap.

Let’s look at some other games with this trap.


After 8.e5 Black has 8…Nh5, but this is not recommended as White has 9.Qf3!, which is almost winning.


GM Fischer-N.N.
New York, 1963
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bc4 g6 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.e5 Nh5 9.Qf3 e6 (9…d5? 10.Nxd5! cxd5 11.Bxd5) 10.g4 Ng7 11.Ne4 Qa5+ (11…d5? 12.Nf6+ Ke7 13.Qa3+ Qd6 14.Qxd6#) 12.Bd2 Qxe5 13.Bc3 (trapping the Queen.)


Beverwijk, 1966
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bc4 g6 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.e5 Nh5 9.Qf3 e6 10.exd6 Qxd6 11.O-O Bb7 12.Rd1 Qc5 13.Qd3 (with the threat of 14.Qd7#) 13…Qe7 (13…Nf6 14.Ne4!) 14.Bg5! f6 15.Be3 Kf7 16.Qd7 (threatening 17.Bxe6 Qg7 18.Qxe7+ Bxe7 19.Rd7 ; 16…Ng7 17.Bc5) 1-0


New Zealand Ch.
Christchurch, 1967
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bc4 g6 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.e5 Nh5 9.Qf3 e6 10.exd6 Qxd6 11.g4 Ng7 12.Bf4 e5 13.Bxf7+ Kd7 14.Rd1 exf4 15.O-O Ba6 16.Ne4 Bxf1 17.Nxd6 Bxd6 18.Qxf4 1-0

Black also has the better 8…Nd7, but White again gets the advantage.


GM Fischer-Wilkerson
Clock Simul
Davis, Apr. 16 1964
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bc4 g6 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.e5 Nd7 9.exd6 exd6 10.O-O d5 11.Nxd5 +/- Nc5 (11…cxd5 12.Qxd5! +-) 12.Qd4 cxd5 13.Bb5+ Bd7 14.Bxd7+ Qxd7 15.Qxh8 f5 16.Re1+ Ne6 17.Qf6 1-0


Imannuel Guthi-E. O’Hare
Tel Aviv Ol.
Israel, 1964
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bc4 g6 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.e5 Nd7 9.exd6 exd6 10.O-O d5 11.Nxd5 Nc5 12.Qf3 (with the idea of Nf6+) 12…f5 (better is 12…Bg7) 13.Re1+ Kd7 (13…Ne4 14.Rxe4+ fxe4 15.Qxe4+ +-; 13…Kf7 14.Nc7+ and Ne8+ +-) 14.Bf4 Ne4 15.Rad1 Nd6 16.Nb4 Qb6 17.Qc3 Bb7 18.Be6+ (18.Rxd6+ Bxd6 19.Qe7+ +-) 18…Kc7 19.Nd5+ 1-0


El Segundo, CA, 1969
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 d6 5.Nc3 Nf6 6.Bc4 g6 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.e5 Nd7 9.exd6 exd6 10.O-O Be7 11.Re1 O-O 12.Bh6 Re8 13.Qf3 d5 14.Nxd5 Bb7

15.Qxf7+!! Kxf7 16.Ne3+ Kf6 17.Ng4+ Kf5 18.Be6mate 1-0


Lucerne Ol., 1982
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bc4 g6 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.e5 Nd7 9.exd6 Qxd6 10.Qxd6 exd6 11.Bf4 Be6 12.Bb3 d5 13.h3 Nf6 14.Be5 Be7 15.O-O O-O 16.Rhe1 Nd7 17.Bf4 Nc5 18.Ne2 a5 19.Nd4 Rfc8 20.c3 Bf6 21.Bc2 Bd7 22.Be5 Kg7 23.Bxf6+ Kxf6 24.Re3 Re8 25.Rde1 Rxe3 26.Rxe3 Ne6 27.Ba4 Rc8 28.Nf3 Ra8 29.Nd4 Ra6 30.Nf3 Ke7 31.c4 Rb6 1/2-1/2


Ladic (2195)-Mutapcic
Croatia U20 Team Ch.
Medulin, 1997
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bc4 g6 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.e5 Nd7 9.exd6 e5?! 10.Qf3 Nf6 11.Bg5 Bg7 12.Ne4 Bf5 13.Nxf6+ Bxf6 14.Bxf6 e4 15.Qc3 Qxd6 16.Bxh8 O-O-O 17.Ba6+ 1-0


Which brings us back to 9…Ng4, which as mentioned before, is Black’s best move as he has some counterplay. But it’s not an easy thing to discover, especially with the clock ticking in a rated OTB game.


White has two good responses here; 9.e6 and 9.Bf4.


Let’s see games from both.


World Ch.
Berlin, 1910
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bc4 g6 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.e5 Ng4 9.e6 f5 10.O-O Bg7 11.Bf4 (It seems White has the advantage and should win. But Lasker was at his best when facing an uphill battle.) 11…Qb6 12.Bb3 Ba6 13.Na4 Qd4 14.Qxd4 Bxd4 15.c4 O-O 16.Rad1 Bf6 17.Rfe1 g5 18.Bxd6 exd6 19.Rxd6 Be5 20.c5 Rfe8 21.g3 Bf6 22.Rxc6 Bb7 23.Rc7 Be4 24.Nc3 Bxc3 25.bxc3 Ne5 26.Rd1 Nf3+ 27.Kf1 Nxh2+ 28.Ke1 Nf3+ 29.Ke2 Ne5 30.Rdd7 f4 31.Rg7+ Kh8 32.Rxg5 Bd3+ 33.Kd1 fxg3 34.fxg3 Ng6 35.Rd5 Be4 36.Rd6 Bf5 37.Bd5 Rab8 38.c6 Nf8 39.Rb7 Rbc8 40.e7 Ng6 41.Bf7 Rxe7 42.Bxg6 Bg4+ 43.Kc1 Re1+ 44.Kb2 hxg6 45.Rxg6 Bf5 46.Rf6 Be4 47.Rxa7 Rb1+ 48.Ka3 Bxc6 1/2-1/2


Chocen, 1950
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bc4 g6 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.e5 Ng4 9.e6 f5 10.Bf4 d5
11.Nxd5 cxd5 12.Bb5+ (A tactic worth remembering.) 1-0


M. Costa-Saltzberg
US Open, 1972
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bc4 g6 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.e5 Ng4 9.e6 f5 10.Qe2 Bg7 11.h3 Nf6 12.h4 d5 13.Ba6 Bxa6 14.Qxa6 Qd6 15.Qe2 O-O 16.Bd2 Rab8 17.O-O Rxb2 18.Kxb2 Ne4 19.Rb1 Qb4+ 20.Kc1 Qa3+ 21.Kd1 Bxc3 22.Rb3 Qxa2 23.Bxc3 Qxb3 24.Qxe4 Qxc3 25.Qa4 Rb8 26.Ke2 Rb4 27.Qxa7 Qxc2+ 28.Ke3 f4+ 29.Kf3 Qe4+ 0-1


IECG 1995
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bc4 g6 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.e5 Ng4 9.e6 f5 10.Bb3 Bg7 11.O-O Ba6 12.Re1 Be5 13.h3?
13…Bh2+ (14.Kh1 Nxf2+) 0-1


And now for 9.Bf4, which is best approach as it activates a piece and keeps pressure on some key squares. Here’s another reason to think it’s the best move. Any move that is preferred in correspondence chess is usually the best, as correspondence players have days, and even longer, to decide on their next move.


corres., 1947
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bc4 g6 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.e5 Ng4 9.Bf4 Qb6 10.Qf3 e6 11.exd6 Bg7 12.O-O-O Ne5 13.Bxe5 Bxe5 14.d7+ Bxd7 15.Rxd7 1-0


Great Britain, 1975
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bc4 g6 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.e5 Ng4 9.Bf4 Qb6 10.Qf3 Bf5 11.exd6 e5 12.d7+ Kxd7 13.Rd1+ Bd6 14.Bc1 Rhf8 15.h3 Nf6 16.g4 Qb4 17.Bb3 Be4 18.Qxf6 Bxh1 19.a3 Qb7 20.Bg5 Bd5 21.Nxd5 cxd5 22.Bxd5 Qxb2 23.Bxa8 1-0


Yugoslavia Ch., 1978
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bc4 g6 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.e5 Ng4 9.Bf4 Qb6 10.Qf3 dxe5 11.Bxf7+ Kd8 12.Bg3 Bg7 13.O-O Kc7 14.Qe2 Rf8 15.h3 Ne3 16.Bb3 Nxd1 17.Bxe5+ Bxe5 18.Qxe5+ Kd8 19.Rxd1+ Ke8 20.Re1 Qb4 21.Re4 Qb7 22.Nd5 1-0

corres., 1980
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bc4 g6 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.e5 Ng4 9.Bf4 Bh6 10.e6 Bxf4 11.Qxg4 Be5 12.exf7+ Kf8 13.Qf3 d5 14.Bb3 Kg7 15.O-O e6 16.h4 Rf8 17.Ne2 Qf6 18.Qxf6+ Bxf6 19.f4 Rxf7 20.c3 a5 21.Ba4 c5 22.g3 Rb8 23.Rhe1 Rfb7 24.Rd2 Rb6 25.Ng1 Bxc3 0-1


E. Germany, 1988
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bc4 g6 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.e5 Ng4 9.Bf4 d5 10.Nxd5 Bg7 11.e6 cxd5 12.exf7+ Kf8 13.Qxd5 Bf5 14.h3 Nf6 15.Qxd8+ Rxd8 16.c3 h5 17.Ke2 e6 18.Be3 a5 19.f3 Kxf7 20.Rhd1 Nd5 21.Bxd5 exd5 22.Kf2 Rb8 23.Rd2 Be6 24.Re1 Rhe8 25.Bf4 Rb7 26.g4 hxg4 27.hxg4 Bf6 28.g5 Bxg5 29.Bxg5 Reb8 30.Ree2 Rb5 31.Kg3 Rh8 32.Rd4 Rh5 33.Bf4 Rh1 34.Bd6 g5 35.a4 Rb3 36.Bc7 Rb1 37.Rdd2 Ra1 38.Bxa5 Rxa4 39.Bb4 Ra2 40.f4 gxf4+ 41.Kxf4 d4 42.Rf2 dxc3 43.Ke5+ Kg6 44.Bxc3 Ra4 45.Kxe6 1-0


corres., 1990
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bc4 g6 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.e5 Ng4 9.Bf4 d5 10.Nxd5 cxd5 11.Bxd5 Bf5 12.f3 Nh6 13.Bxa8 Qxa8 14.Qd2 Ng8 15.O-O h5 16.Be3 Bg7 17.Qa5 Nh6 18.Qa4+ 1-0


Croatian Cup
Pula, 1996
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 d6 5.Nc3 Nf6 6.Bc4 g6 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.e5 Ng4 9.Bf4 d5 10.Nxd5 cxd5 11.Qxd5 Qxd5 12.Bxd5 Rb8 13.h3 Nh6 14.Bc6+ Kd8 15.e6 Rb6
16.O-O-O+ Bd7 17.Rxd7+ Kc8 1-0


So the main line of the Magnus Smith is 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bc4 g6 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.e5 Ng4 9.Bf4. There are many alternate moves to the games above. And I’ll let you explore them on your own.


Boden’s Mate, also known as a Criss-Cross Mate, occurs when the two bishops mate the enemy king, with each bishop coming from an opposite diagonal from the other. What makes this sacrifice even more delightful is that is frequently preceded by a queen sacrifice.

The name Boden is used as he is the first player of master strength to have used this mating pattern. Or at the first to have it well-known.


Schulder-Samuel Standidge Boden
London, 1860
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.c3 f5 4.Bc4 Nf6 5.d4 fxe4 6.dxe5 exf3 7.exf6 Qxf6 8.gxf3 Nc6 9.f4 Bd7 10.Be3 O-O-O 11.Nd2 Re8 12.Qf3 Bf5 13.O-O-O d5 14.Bxd5 Qxc3+! (There’s the queen sacrifice.) 15.bxc3 Ba3mate


But he is not the first. Both Morphy and Horwitz predate him.


Paul Morphy-James Thompson
New York, 1859
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4 Bxb4 5.c3 Ba5 6.O-O Bb6 7.d4 d6 8.dxe5 Nxe5 9.Nxe5 dxe5 10.Bxf7+ Ke7 11.Qb3 Nf6 12.Ba3+ c5 13.Rad1 Qc7 14.f4 Rf8 15.Bc4 Rd8 16.Rde1 Bd7 17.Bc1 Rf8 18.fxe5 Qxe5 19.Bf4 Qh5 20.Rd1 Kd8 21.e5 Ne8 22.Qa4 Qg4 23.e6 Nf6 24.Rxd7+ Kc8 25.Qc6+! bxc6 26.Ba6mate 1-0


And now the ending of one of Horwitz’s games.




It has proven fruitless to discover the complete score of Horwitz’s game. Can someone find the moves leading up to the mate?



A Center Counter victory by Canal is perhaps the best well-known game of Boden’s Mate.


Budapest, 1934
1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Qxd5 3.Nc3 Qa5 4.d4 c6 5.Nf3 Bg4 6.Bf4 e6 7.h3 Bxf3 8.Qxf3 Bb4 9.Be2 Nd7 10.a3 O-O-O

11.axb4! Qxa1+ 12.Kd2 Qxh1 13.Qxc6+! bxc6 14.Ba6mate 1-0



Other famous games include the following:


Banja Luka, 1931
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Bd3 Bxc3+? 5.bxc3 h6? 6.Ba3 Nd7 7.Qe2 dxe4 8.Bxe4 Ngf6 9.Bd3 b6?? 10.Qxe6+! fxe6 11.Bg6mate 1-0


Paris, 1948
1.f4 e5 (From’s Gambit – a good opening to discover many miniatures.) 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 g5 5.d4 g4 6.Ng5?! f5 7.e4 Be7? 8.Nh3! gxh3 9.Qh5+ Kf8 10.Bc4 Qe8 11.Qh6+! Nxh6 12.Bxh6mate 1-0

This one should be better known. White sacrifices his queen AND his rook.


Philip Corbin-Othneil Harewood
Friendly Game
Barbados, 1979
1.e4 c5 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 (The Smith-Morra, another good opening to find miniatures.) 3…dxc3 4.Nxc3 Nc6 5.Nf3 e6 6.Bc4 Bb4!? (A relatively new move. Black doesn’t seem to get much from this move. More common are 6…a6, 6…e6 and 6..Nf6.) 7.O-O Bxc3 8.bxc3 Na5 9.Bd3 Qc7 10.Qe2 Nc6 11.Ba3 Ne5 12.Nxe5 Qxe5 13.f4 Qc7 14.e5 Qxc3 15.Bd6 Ne7 16.Rac1 Qd4+ 17.Kh1 Nc6 18.f5 h5 19.fxe6 dxe6 20.Rxf7! Bd7 21.Qf3 O-O-O

22.Qxc6+! Bxc6 23.Rxc6+ 1-0



But as you might have expected, a queen sacrifice is not needed to effect the mate.


Breslau, 1865
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nge7 4.c3 d6 5.d4 Bd7 6.0-0 Ng6 7.Ng5 h6 8.Nxf7 Kxf7 9.Bc4+ Ke7 10.Qh5 Qe8 11.Qg5+! (11.Bg5+ hxg5 12.Qxg5# would work just as well.) 11…hxg5 12.Bxg5mate 1-0


Nugent’s Dept. Store, St Louis, Aug. 25 1921
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d5 3.exd5 e4 4.Qe2 Nf6 5.Nc3 Bc5 6.Nxe4 O-O 7.Nxf6+ Qxf6 8.c3 Bd7 9.d4 Bd6 10.Be3 Bf5 11.Nd2 Nd7 12.g3 Rfe8 13.Bg2 Qg6 14.O-O-O c5 15.dxc6 bxc6 16.Bxc6 Rac8 17.Bxd7 Rxc3+ (Only the rook is given up.) 0-1


And on rare occasions, no sacrifice is needed.


Pandolfini – N.N., 1970
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Nxe4 6.d4 exd4 7.Re1 d5 8.Nxd4 Bd6 9.Nxc6 Bxh2+ 10.Kh1 Qh4 11.Rxe4+ dxe4 12.Qd8+ Qxd8 13.Nxd8+ Kxd8 14.Kxh2 f5?? 15.Bg5mate 1–0

Chess in Another Game

Not only do I enjoy chess, but most board games in general (but to a lesser extent, of course).


One of these games is Dixit, a party game in which players try to guess which your card by is using a clue that you provided. Similar to Apples to Apples or Card Against Humanity (an adult version of Apples to Apples).


You can’t make your clue too easy, else everyone will solve it and you get no points. And if you make your clue too difficult and no one solves it, then again you get no points. Best strategy is having one or two people solve it and you earn three points.


So, what does this have to do with chess? Glad you asked! Two of the cards have chess themes in their image. See below.




Let’s take the first image. I’ve played this card before, in fact twice. The first time I gave the clue, it was “Berlin, Italian, French, Swiss”. All of these are chess openings, of which one person got it. I’m proud of that clue!


Another time I used the clue, “Peace”, as it referred to the dove. But since the clue was spoken, it also referred to “Piece”, as something one would expect to be on a chessboard. I didn’t do as well on that image.


The second image is harder to find a clue that doesn’t give it immediately away. Maybe “Bobby and Lisa”, a reference to strongest female and male American players of the 1960’s. Or perhaps, “What does Alice in Wonderland and One Night in Bangkok have in common?” (they both feature chess).


Here I digress. If the reader wishes to use chess themes found in a movie, he (or she!) may want to watch this YouTube video,


A few pet peeves here. One is the five-minute game of Sherlock Holmes.  Players at that time did not play five- minute games; the chess clocks could not handle the rapid oscillations of fast moving players. Players would instead use a set time of 5 seconds per move, called out by an independent arbitrator. In “Searching for Bobby Fischer”, the clocks are set for five minutes, not two minutes. The chess sets used in the movies tend not to be the sets preferred by most players – too hard to determine pieces and/or the pieces are too fragile to grab and gather them, esp. in speed chess. And finally, most of the movies use Descriptive Notation (DN), such as “Queen takes Knight”, instead of more common, and easier to use, Algebraic Notation (AN). Only Harry Potter gets it right!  


But back to the original post!


Readers! Do you have any suggestions for these two cards? Would love to hear your opinion!

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

I play chess on 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 on Nov. 28 2016




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.



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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