The French Problem

Many years ago. I was playing a tournament. Sometime between my morning game and afternoon game I met a young guy.

 

He was asking for help against the French Defence, saying he had a problem trying to figure it out so he could win as White.

 

He didn’t have a board or a set. I set up my pieces on my board so I can both see the moves. By the way, if you ever attend a tournament, ALWAYS bring a set with you. You want to show off you are making some investment in learning more about the game.

 

Anyway, I set up the board.

1

 

I then asked if he knew the Advanced Variation (1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5).

 

 

He said, “It’s been analyzed to death and the only way for White to try to gain an advantage was to play the Milner-Barry.” “But,” he continued, “White still loses”.

 

I don’t completely understand what he was trying to tell me. It sounded like he was repeating someone who knew the names of the variations, but little else. Maybe I’ll unravel it.

 

I figured we both have the time. Let’s keep the conversation going.

 

 

I replied, “Ok, how about the Classical Variation (1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5)?”

 

He answered me, “But it’s even more drawish than the Advanced Variation!”

 

“Ok. So what do you think of the Winawer (1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4)?”

 

“Too much stuff to remember! And I don’t have the time to study all the lines.”

 

It turns out he didn’t want an improvement it the main lines. He wanted a brand-new way to counter 1.e4 e6.

 

 

I told him the French Defence got its name from a correspondence game between the cities of London and Paris in 1834.

 

 

London Chess Club-Paris Chess Club
corres. 1834
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.Bd3 c5 6.Qe2+ Be7 7.dxc5 O-O 8.Be3 Re8 9.Bb5 Nc6 10.Nd4 Bxc5 11.Bxc6 bxc6 12.c3 Bxd4 13.cxd4 c5 14.Qd3 Qb6 15.O-O Ba6 16.Qb3 Qxb3 17.axb3 Bxf1 18.Kxf1 Ng4 19.dxc5 Nxe3+ 20.fxe3 Rxe3 21.Nd2 Rae8 22.b4 Rd3 23.Rxa7 Rxd2 24.b5 Rxb2 25.b6 d4 26.b7 d3 27.Ra8 Kf8 0-1

 

 

But the basic ideas go way back to Greco.

 

 

Greco-N.N.
Rome, 1620?
1.e4 e6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Bd3 Nc6 4.Nf3Be7 5.h4 O-O 6.e5 Nd5 7.Bxh7+! (yes, this famous sacrifice originated with Greco.) 7…Kxh7 8.Ng5+ Bxg5 9.hxg5+ Kg8 10.Qh5 f5 11.g6 Re8 12.Qh8mate 1-0

 

 

And I concluded, “To find a new way to combat the French may not be possible.”

 

“Please anything! Even if it might be bad for White. I want something to at least try.”

 

OK, the opened the door a little.

 

The Schlechter Variation is defined by the moves 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Bd3. White’s bishop gets an early start in the game. However, it can be almost immediately challenged by Black’s knight.

 

But let’s not get too far ahead. Black can quickly lose the game (which is what my friend wanted to hear) if he falters.

 

 

Tarrasch-Kuerschner
Nuremburg, 1893
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Bd3 Nf6 4.e5! Nfd7 5.Nf3 c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.O-O f6 8.Re1 f5 9.Be3 c4?!(9…Be7, with the idea of 10…O-O is definitely better.) 10.Bc2 Be7 (Black plays this move a bit late and it doesn’t coordinate well with his previous move.) 11.b3 b5 12.a4 bxa4 13.bxc4 dxc4 14.d5 Ncxe5 15.dxe6 Nxf3+ 16.Qxf3 Nb6 17.Qxf5 Bf6 [Black has serious problems here. If 17…Rf8, then 18.Qh5+ g6 19.Bxg6+ hxg6 (or 19…Rf7 20.Bxf7+ Kf8 21.Bh6#) 20.Qxg6+ Rf7 21.Qxf7#.] 18.Bc5 Bb7 19.Qg6+! hxg6 20.Bxg6mate 1-0

 

Vega Gutierrez (2236)-Korneev (1630)
La Laguna Open
Spain, May 6 2009
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Bd3 c5? 4.exd5 Qxd5 5.Nc3 Qd6 6.Nb5 Qb6 7.Bf4 Na6 8.Nf3 Nf6 9.Ne5 Qa5+ 10.c3 Nd5 11.Bg5 Qb6 12.Qa4 Bd7 13.Nd6+ Qxd6 14.Nxd7 Be7 15.dxc5 Nxc3 16.bxc3 Qxd3 17.Ne5+ b5 18.cxb6 1-0

 

Whitfield-Belson
Toronto, 1934
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Bd3 dxe4 4.Bxe4 Nf6 5.Bd3 c5 6.dxc5 Bxc5 7.Nf3 O-O 8.O-O Nc6 9.c3 (Seems solid and reasonable.) 9…e5?! (There are not too many games with this position. But even with lack of games, this move seems to weaken Black too much for further consideration by other French players.) 10.Bg5 Re8 11.Qc2 h6 12.Bxf6 Qxf6 13.Nbd2 Bb6 14.Ne4 Qe7 15.Ng3 g6 16.Bxg6 fxg6 17.Qxg6+ Kf8 18.Nh5 Qf7 19.Qxh6+ Ke7 20.Ng5 Qf5 21.Rad1 Bd7 22.Qd6+ Kd8 23.Ng7 Qg4 24.N5e6+ 1-0

 

 

 

But Black can equalize in the main line after 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Bd3 dxe4 4.Bxe4 Nf6 5.Bd3 c5 6.dxc5 Bxc5 7.Nf3 Nc6.

 

 

 

Tartakower-Torre
Moscow, 1925
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Bd3 dxe4 4.Bxe4 Nf6 5.Bd3 c5 6.dxc5 Bxc5 7.Nf3 Nc6 8.O-O Qc7 9.Nc3 Bd7 10.Bg5!? (A move that may be slightly too aggressive.) 10…O-O-O 11.Qe2 e5 (ECO evaluates this position as equal. Personally, I think if any player has the advantage, it is Black.) 12.Be4 Bg4 13.Bxc6  Qxc6 14.h3 Bxf3 15.Qxf3 Qxf3 16.gxf3 Bd4 17.Nd1 Rd6 18.c3 Bb6 19.Ne3 Nh5 20.Nf5 Rd3 21.Rad1 Rxf3 22.Nd6+ Kc7 23.Kg2 e4 24.Nxe4 Rf5 25.Be3 Re5 26.Ng3 Nxg3 27.Bxb6+ Kxb6 28.fxg3 Re2+ 29.Rf2 Rhe8 30.Rd2 1/2-1/2

 

Ruiz Sanchez (2455)-Gallego Alcaraz (2448)
Guillermo Garcia Elite
Santa Clara, Cuba, May 17 2017
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Bd3 c5 4.Nf3 dxe4 5.Bxe4 Nf6 6.Bd3 Nc6 7.dxc5 Bxc5 8.O-O Qc7 9.Nc3 Bd7 10.a3?!  (A move that may be slightly too passive.) 10…a6 11.Ne4 Ba7 12.Qe1 Ng4 13.h3 h5 14.Qc3 Bd4 15.Qd2 f5 16.Neg5 Ba7 17.hxg4 hxg4 18.Qf4 Qxf4 19.Bxf4 gxf3 20.Nxf3 O-O-O 21.Rfe1 Rh5 22.Bc4 Rdh8 23.Kf1 g5 24.Bxg5 e5 25.Be3 e4 -/+ 26.Ng1 Bb8 27.f4 Rh2 28.b4 R8h4 29.g3 Rg4 30.Re2 Rh7 31.Bf2 Ne7 32.Rd1 Bc7 33.Red2 Bc6 34.Be6+ Kb8 35.Re1 Rh1 36.c4 Ba4 37.Re3 Bb6 38.c5 Bc7 39.Bd7 Bc6 40.Bxc6 bxc6 41.Rb3 Nd5 42.Re2 Kb7 43.Kg2 Rh7 44.Kf1 Rg6 45.a4 Nf6 46.b5 a5 47.b6 Bd8 48.Rd2 Nd5 49.Ne2 Bf6 50.Bd4 Bxd4 51.Rxd4 Rh1+ 52.Kf2 Rgh6 53.Rxd5 cxd5 54.Ke3 Rc6 55.Rb5 Rd1 56.Rxa5 d4+ 57.Kf2 Rd2 58.Ra7+ Kb8 59.a5 d3 60.Ke3 Rxe2+ 61.Kd4 d2 62.Kd5 Rxc5+ 0-1

 

 

Here’s a game which shows my suggestion to my friend is not so unique after all.

 

 

IM Yan Teplitsky instructed his women team competing in the 35th Chess Olympiad in Bled to play this variation. Maybe there is something more about this opening.

 

 

Dina Kagramanov-Elenoara Ambrosi
Women’s Ol.
Bled, 2002
[IM Yan Teplitsky, “35th Chess Olympiad – Bled, Slovenia”, En Passant (Canada’s leading chess magazine), Apr. 2003]
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Bd3 (A rare line that does not have a very good reputation.)3…dxe4 4.Bxe4 Nf6 5.Bf3 c5 6.Ne2 Nc6 7.Be3 Qb6 8.b3 cxd4?![Now White gets to untangle her pieces. Much better is 8…Nxd4 (also for Black is to develop her queenside with 8…Bd7) 9.Nxd4 e5 10.Ne2 e4.] 9.Nxd4 Qa5+(While 9…Ne5 10.O-O Bc5 11.c3 Bd7 12.b4 Nxf3+ 13.Qxf3 Bxd4 14.Bxd4 Qc6 15.Qg3 is just as bad for Black, here 9…Bc5 10.Nxc6 Bxe3 11.fxe3 bxc6 12.Kf2 led to comfortable position for Black in Sirlett-Benggawanm Bled ol f (2) 2002, from the same match.) 10.Qd2 Qxd2+ (A funny continuation is 10…Nxd4 11.Qxa5 Bb4+ but White can just recapture the knight.) 11.Nxd2

 

2020_02_27
11…Nxd4?[Black is behind in development, and has a much better way of playing by depriving White of the bishop pair with 11…Ne5! 12.Nb5 Nxf3+ 13.Nxf3 Nd5 14.c4 (but not 14.Bxa7? Bd7 15.a4 Bxb5 16.axb5 Bc5 and Black wins.) 14…Nxe3 15.fxe3 Bb4+ and Black is better.]12.Bxd4 Bd6 13.Nc4 Be7 14.O-O O-O 15.Na5! Nd5 16.c4 Nb4?(Black now loses a pawn. Much better is 16…Bb4 although Black still isn’t happy after  17.cxd5 Bxa5 18.dxe6 fxe6 19.Rac1.)17.Nxb7 Nc2 18.Na5 Nxd4 19.Bxa8 Bd7 20.Rad1 e5 21.Bd5 Rb8 22.Rfe1 Bd6 23.Nb7 Bc7 24.Nc5 Bg4 25.f3 Bc8 26.Rxd4 1-0

 

 

A Review of Chernev’s “1000 Best Short Games of Chess”

The full title of this well-known chess book is “The 1000 Best Short Games of Chess: A Treasury of Masterpieces in Miniature”, but it is usually shortened to “1000 Best Short Games of Chess”.

 
The book was first published in 1955 and has been reprinted many times (see below for different front covers).

 

 

1000_Best_Short_Games_1 1000_Best_Short_Games_2

 

1000_Best_Short_Games_3_A1000_Best_Short_Games_4

 
But why is this book so popular?

 
First, it is written for the club player.

 
This means the moves are in Descriptive Notation (DN) rather than in Algebraic Notation (AN). DN was popular in England and the United States during this time. And those countries stayed DN until the 1980s.

 
It also means the notation is kept brief. Even so, this short and simple notation brings the number of pages to 555. But it still easy to bring along to a tournament or to read while waiting for a bus or a college class to begin. Consider Bilguer’s “Handbuch des Schachpiels” runs 1040 pages and is hard bound. It is big, heavy and more appropriate for a library.

 
Secondly, there is ample space for the reader to add his own notes, provided of course, he is willing to write small. Personally, I prefer to put everything into a word processor and the I can always update the game. But, of course, this book was written well before anyone had laptops and word processors.

 
The manuscript was written on a typewriter, which is evident as the text and diagrams are not sharp (as one might expect on computer designed material) and there are blemishes and imperfections that occasionally appear in the book that only can come from using a typewriter.

 
So why doesn’t anyone offer an improvement or upgrade to this book?

 
It is extremely costly to rewrite a book from DN to AN. And the book still sells quite well 65 years after it was first printed. It is worthwhile to learn DN just to read and enjoy this book.

 
Last night I searched Amazon for another copy (mine is falling apart from decades of use), and it can still be bought there.

 
But you came here for short games. Here are some of my favorites from the book. Please know I’ve used other annotations than what Chernev provided when I found them more interesting or complete. I don’t have the space restrictions as Chernev struggled with.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Game #23
Greco-N.N.,
Rome 1620?
[Escalante]
1.e4 b6 2.d4 Bb7 3.Bd3 f5 4.exf5 (White is willing to give up his rook to get the king.) 4…Bxg2 5.Qh5+ g6 6.fxg6 Nf6 (This is a huge error. Black has to play 6…Bg7 7.gxh7+ Kf8 8.hxg8=Q+ Kxg8 and while White’s rook may fall, Black has to worry about his very exposed king. Amusing by the way, is 6.fxg6 e5? 7.g7+ Ke7 8.Qxe5+ Kf7 9.gxh8=N#.) 7.gxh7+ [White is now willing to give up his queen for the forced mate. King safety is more important than safety for the rook or queen, and even both. Note: While 7.g7+ Nxh5 8.gxh8=Q Bxh1 9.Qxh7 would eventually win, the text move is faster, and fast attacks are always better for winning the game (less mistakes possible) and for one’s own ego.] 7…Nxh5 8.Bg6mate 1-0

 
Game #212
Canal-N.N.
Simul
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

2020_02_20_A
11.axb4! Qxa1+ 12.Kd2 Qxh1 (And now we have a Boden’s mate.) 13.Qxc6+! bxc6 14.Ba6mate 1-0

 

Game #222
F. Gobl-Jonas
Augsburg, Germany, 1926
1.e4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.e5 Nfd7 4.e6 fxe6 5.d4 Nf6 6.Bf4 c6 7.Nf3 Nbd7 8.Bd3 c5 9.Ng5 Qb6 10.Nb5 e5 11.dxe5 c4 12.exf6 Qxb5 13.f7+ Kd8 14.Ne6mate 1-0

 

Game #227
Nielsen-Ottosen
Copenhagen, 1941
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Bd7 5.Nc3 g6 6.Bc4 Nc6 7.Nd5 Bg7 8.Be3 Nge7 9.Bg5 Bxd4 10.Qxd4 O-O (Has to defend his rook. He can’t take the attacking queen as 10…Nxd4? loses to 11.Nf6+ Kf8 12.Bh6#.) 11.Nf6+ Kh8 12.Ng4+ Nxd4 (Definitely not 12…f6?? 13.Bxf6+ winning.) 13.Bf6+ Kg8 14.Nh6mate 1-0

 

Game #780
Blackburne-West
Blindfold Game
Hamilton, Victoria, 1885
[Blackburne, “Mr. Blackburne’s Games of Chess”, #360, pgs. 286/7]
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.exd5 exd5 5.Bd3 Nc6 6.Nf3 Nf6 7.O-O Bxc3 8.bxc3 O-O 9.Ne5 Be6 10.f4 Ne4 11.f5 Nxe5 (Bad now, though the Knight might have been taken at move 9 if Black were playing for a majority of Pawns on the Queen’s side.) 12.dxe5 Bd7 13.f6 g6 14.Ba3 (Better than Bh6.) 14…Re8 15.Bxe4 dxe4 16.Qd2 Kh8
2020_02_20_B
17.Qg5 (Qh6 is not so good as it looks. Black would have replied with Rg8 and then and then have been able to wiggle out of his difficulties by g5.) 17…c6 18.Rf4 Qa5 19.Qh6 Rg8 20.Qxh7+ Kxh7 21.Rh4mate 1-0

An Introduction to Chess Poetry

Book_Chess_Poems

 

Many poems and the like have been written about chess. They range from the simple to the epic, from the silly to the serious, and can include the profound and philosophical.

 

We’ll start with the simple, and sometimes, silly limerick.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

The first two are from NM Bill Wall.

 

(1)

There once was a player from Maine,
Who played chess on a fast train.
He took a move back
And was thrown off the track,
And he never played chess again.

 

(2)

Postal chess is still played today
And no reason why I shouldn’t play.
It is nice and slow,
And I can use my ECO,
It’s the postage I can’t afford to pay.

 

With the Internet now, you don’t have to pay postage.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 
Here’s an old classic, first appearing in Chess Potpourri by Alfred C. Klahre (Middletown, 1931). It’s titled, “The Solver’s Plight

 

There was a man from Vancouver
Who tried to solve a two-mover;
But the boob, he said, ‘“Gee”,
I can’t find the “Kee”,
No matter HOW I manouvre.’

 
Like most people, I also prefer original material, always searching for something new.

 
A short poem that perfectly illustrates the frustrations of that search.
Some Editors – pretend to edit –
Use scissors and paste and give no credit.

(Columbia Chess Chronicle, 20 August 1887, page 66.)

 

 
Another short one. This one is slightly whimsical and yet, very accurate.

 

Chess is such a noble game,
How it does the soul inflame!
Ever brilliant, ever new,
Surely chess has not its due;
Sad to say, ’tis known to few!

 

Poem written by W. Harris and printed in the book, “A Complete Guide to the Game of Chess”(1882).

 

By The Way (or BTW in Internet lingo), the poem is also an acrostic. We’ll let you figure it out! =)

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 
For another poem that is simply a delight, here is one by Alan Hall and printed in CHESS POST, Volume 33, No. 3 (or the June 1995 issue).

 

The Game of Chess

 

A poem about chess? Well, there’s an idea.
Hopefully this one will be one to hear.
What of the pieces? I’ll take them in turn.
And try to tell how each it’s living does earn.
The pawns can move straight or diagonally
Depending on whether it’s taking, you see.
Next comes the bishop – it moves across,
Of diagonals it is the boss.
Then there is the knight – some call it a horse
From its siblings it pursues a quite different
course.
One square diagonally, then one straight.
It’s so crafty, you start to hate
It when you’ve lost to its smothered mate.
Stronger still than all these is rook.
If you’ve got two of them, you’re in luck.
The you may even beat the might queen.
A rook and bishop combined, she reigns
supreme.

 
Last, but not least, is the humble king.
When you’ve mated him, you can sing.
Well, that’s all the pieces that make this game
of chess.

 

The playing of which can bring happiness.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

We’ll end here with an appropriate form of poetry; the epitaph.

 

Surprisingly, chess epitaphs are more common than you might believe. Here is the best on I could find. It was written by Lord Dunsany (who was a chess player among many other inspired pursuits) and it was for Capablanca, first published in the June 1942 issue of CHESS (pg. 131).

 

Now rests a mind as keen,
A vision bright and clear
As any that has been
And who is it lies here?
One that, erstwhile, no less
Than Hindenburg could plan,
But played his game of chess
And did no harm to man.

 

If we could only aspire to be so talented and noble.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 
Here’s two games related to the poems, or rather the poets that created them.

 

Jim Murray (1876)-Alan Hall (1746)
Isle of Man Open – Major
Chess.com, Sept. 26 2017
[A52]
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5!? (The Budapest is a surprising response for Mr. Hall, who regularly employs more solid and safe openings such as the London System. Nevertheless, he makes a fair attempt at winning the game.) 3.dxe5 Ng4 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.e3 Ngxe5 6.Be2 Bb4+ 7.Bd2 Bxd2+ 8.Qxd2 d6?! (Black usually plays either 8…O-O or 8…Nxf3+. The text move allows White to simplify with 9.Nxe5!? dxe5 10.Qxd8+.) 9.O-O Be6 10.b3 O-O 11.Nc3 h6 12.Rad1 Qd7 13.Nxe5 Nxe5 14.f4 Ng6 15.e4 f5 16.e5 Rfd8 17.Qe3 Qe7 18.Bh5 Nh8 19.Nd5 Bxd5 20.cxd5 g6 21.Be2 a6 22.g4 Rf8 23.Kh1 Rae8 24.e6 c6 25.gxf5 Rxf5 26.dxc6 bxc6 27.Bg4 Rf6 28.Qd3 Ref8 29.Qxd6 Qxd6 30.Rxd6 g5 31.Rd7 Ng6 32.f5 Ne5 33.Rd4 Nxg4 34.Rxg4 Rxf5 35.Rxf5 Rxf5 36.Rc4 c5 37.Ra4 Kf8 38.Rxa6 Ke7 39.Kg2 h5 40.a4 Re5 41.Kf2 g4 42.Rc6 h4 43.a5 Rf5+ 44.Kg2 Rd5 45.a6 Rd2+ 46.Kg1 Rd1+ 47.Kf2 Rd2+ 48.Kg1 1/2-1/2

 

Capablanca-Lord Dunsany
Simul
Selfridges, London, Apr. 12 1929
[C70]
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 b5 5.Bb3 Nf6 6.Ng5 d5 7.exd5

[After 7…Nxd5 8.Nxf7 Kxf7 9.Qf3+ Ke6 10.Nc3 Nce7 11.d4, we reach a position very similar to the Fried Liver Attack. Capablanca decided not to play into it. Apparently he remembered this game:

Capablanca-Pagliano & Elias
Consultation Game
Buenos Aires, June 1911
7.exd5 Nxd5 8.Nxf7 Kxf7 9.Qf3+ Ke6 10.Nc3 Nce7 11.d4 Bb7 12.Bg5 c6 13.O-O-O h6 14.Ne4 Qc7 15.Nc5+ Kd6 16.dxe5+ Kxc5 17.Be3+ Kb4 18.Bd2+ Kc5 19.Bxd5 Nxd5 20.Be3+ Kb4 21.Bd2+ Kc5 22.Be3+ Kb4 23.a3+ Ka4 24.b3+ Kxa3 25.Bd2 Bb4 26.c3 Qxe5 27.Kc2 Bxc3 28.Bxc3 Nxc3 29.Rhe1 Qc5 30.Qxc3 Qxf2+ 31.Rd2 Qf5+ 32.Kc1 Qf6 33.Qa5+ Kxb3 34.Re3+ Kc4 35.Rc2+ Kd5 36.Qd2+ Qd4 37.Rd3 c5 38.Rxd4+ cxd4 39.Qd3 Rab8 40.Qf5+ Kd6 41.Qc5+ Ke6 42.Re2+ Kf7 43.Re7+ Kg8 44.Rxb7 Rxb7 45.Qd5+ Kh7 46.Qe4+ Kg8 47.Qxb7 Kh7 48.Qe4+ Kg8 49.Qxd4 Kh7 50.Qe4+ Kg8 51.Qa8+ 1-0.]

7…Ne7 8.d6 Ned5 9.dxc7 Qxc7 10.Nc3 Bb7 11.a4 b4 12.Nxd5 Bxd5 13.Bxd5 Nxd5 14.O-O Be7 15.d4 O-O 16.dxe5 Qxe5 17.Re1 Qd6 18.Ne4 Qc6 19.Bg5 Bxg5 20.Nxg5 Rac8 21.Qf3 Nf6 22.Re2 h6 23.Qxc6 Rxc6 24.Nf3 a5 25.Nd4 Rc5 26.Nb3 Rd5 27.Rae1 Nd7 28.Re4 Nb6 29.Re5 Rfd8 30.Rxd5 Rxd5 31.Kf1 Nxa4 1/2-1/2

 

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).

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

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

 

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.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

computerchess1

 

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.

 

GM Fischer-GREENBLATT
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

2019_08_22_A
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

 

GREENBLATT-GM Fischer
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.]
2019_08_22_B
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

 

GREENBLATT-GM Fischer
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.

I Beat A 2812!

Yes, this is true.

 

And this is the story.

 

In order to gain an established rating, you must play events obviously. During the time you start playing tournament games and your rating more or stabilizes, you are issued a provisional rating. This rating can wildly swing as you win and lose games.

 

In 1988 my correspondence rating was settling into a stable one. My opponent’s rating was still in wild flux before he and I started our game.

 

And this is the game.

 

A.I.-Escalante
corres. 1990
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 Bc5 (This is the Wilkes-Barre Variation, an extremely tactical and popular opening in the 1980s.  It was my favorite opening at this time as well. And it also seems to have been a favorite of my opponent as he made book move almost to the end of the game. Kenneth Williams’s pamphlet, The Real American Wilkes-Barre, published in 1979, was probably the reason for its popularity.) 5.Nxf7 (An alternate move is 5.Bxf7+. But if tactical is your M.O., then you can’t beat 5.Nxf7 for the pins, forks, checks, and sacrifices.) 5…Bxf2+ 6.Kxf2 Nxe4+ 7.Ke3!? [7.Kg1 is another move. But boldly (or maybe even recklessly) moving one’s king to the center in this variation is stronger than it appears (IMHO) as Black doesn’t have too many pieces developed and White is ahead materially.]

7…Qh4

[Black has the choice of the text move and 7…Qe7. I chose 7…Qh4 as I felt the queen was more active on this square.

Remember I mentioned this was popular opening back in the 1980s? Here two very strong players trying out 7…Qe7!? Notes are from NIC Yearbook #4.

Van de Loo-Hesslin
Netherlands, 1985
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 Bc5 5.Nxf7 Bxf2+ 6.Kxf2 Nxe4+ 7.Ke3 Qe7 8.c3 Nd4 9.Kxe4 Qh4+ 10.Ke3 Qf4+ 11.Kd3 d5 12.Bxd5 Bf5+ 13.Kc4 b5+ 14.Kc5 Qh4 15.Nxe5 O-O-O 16.c4 Rxd5+ 17.cxd5 Rd8 18.Nc3 Nc6 19.Qa4!! Qe7+ (19…bxa4 20.Nc6 -/+) 20.Kxb5 Qxe5 21.Qc4?! (21.Qa6+!? Kb8 22.Qc6 Bd7) 21…Nd4+ 22.Ka4 Bd7+ 23.Ka5?! (Ka3!?) 23…Nc6+ 24.Ka6? (Ka4) 24…Nb8+ 25.Kxa7 (unclear) c6? (Qd6! -+) 26.Nb5! (with the idea of Kb6, Na7#) 26…Bf5 27.d4 Rd7+ 28.Ka8 (Kb6!) 27…Qe7 29.dxc6 Be4 30.d5 Bxd5 31.Qxd5 Rxd5 32.Na7+ Kd8 33.Kxb8?! (33.Bf4 with the idea of c7) 33…Qc7+? [33…Qe5 34.Kb7 (34.Ka8? Kc6!) Rb5 35.Nxb5 Qxb5=] 34.Ka8 Ra5 (Ke8!?) 35.Bg5+!! Rxg5 (35…Ke8 36.Rae1 Kf7 37.Re7+ -+) 36.Rad1+ Ke8 37.Rhe1+ Kf8 38.Rd7 Qxh2 39.Ree7 Qxg2 40.Rb7 Rc5 41.c7 Qg4 42.Rf7+! Ke8 43.b4 Rc2 44.a4 h5 45.a5 h4 46.b5 h3 47.Nc6! h2 48.Rxg7!! 1-0 Back to the game!]

8.g3 Nxg3 9.hxg3 Qd4+ 10.Kf3 d5!

[Black has the option of 10…O-O, letting his rook into play. However, again IMHO, the text move is stronger as it allows Black’s c8-bishop to come into play AND lay claim to the center.

Oleksenko-Malksirits, corres., 1984, continued with 11.Rh4!? e2+ 12.Kg2 d5 13.Rf4 dxc4 14.Qf1 Rxf7 15.Rxf7 Bg4 16.Nc3 Ne5 17.Qf2! Bf3+ 18.Rxf3 exf3+ 19.Kg1 Qd7 20.d4 cxd3 21.Bf4 Ng6 22.Qxf3 dxc2 23.Rc1 Nxf4 24.Qxf4 Rf8 25.Qc4+ Kh8 26.Rxc2 c6 27.Qc5 Rf5 28.Rf2+ 1-0]

11.Be2

[All this studying for correspondence can pay off. Here is another game by the author.

Escalante-Tym Belanger, US Amateur Team Ch., Feb., 20 2006, 11.Rh4 e4+ 12.Kg2 Rf8 13.Bxd5 Qxd5 14.Qh5 Qxh5 15.Rxh5 Rxf7 16.Rxh7 Nd4 17.Na3 Bg4 -/+ 18.Rh8+ Rf8 19.Rxf8+ Kxf8 20.c3 Bf3+ 21.Kf2 Nf5 22.d3 Rd8 23.dxe4 Bxe4 24.Bg5? (>24.Bf4 c6 25.Nc4) 24…Rd3 25.Bf4 Rf3+ 26.Ke2 Nxg3+ 27.Bxg3 Rxg3 28.Rf1+ Ke7 29.Kd2 Rd3+?! (>29…Rg2+ 30.Ke3 Bc6 31.Nc4? Bb5) 30.Ke2 Rg3 31.Kd2 g5 32.Re1 Kf6 33.Rxe4 Kf5 34.Re2 Kf4 35.Nb5 Kf3 36.Nd4+ Kg4 37.Rf2 Kh3 38.Ke2 Rg4 39.a4 Re4+ 40.Kd3 Re1 41.Rf3+ Kg2 42.Rf7! +- (White wins with a windmill.) 42…g4 43.Rxc7 Kf2 44.Rf7+ Kg1 45.Rxb7 Rf1 46.Rg7 g3 47.Rxg3+ Kh1 48.Rg7 Rb1 49.b4 Rd1+ 50.Kc2 Rf1 51.Rxa7 Rf2+ 52.Kd3 Rf8 53.Rg7 Rf3+ 54.Kc4 (Of course not Nxf3, stalemate!) 54…Rf8 55.b5 Rc8+ 56.Kb4 Rf8 57.a5 Rf3 (Another attempt at stalemate.) 58.a6 Rf2 59.c4 Rf1 60.a7 Ra1 61.b6 Rb1+ 62.Kc5 Ra1 63.b7 Rxa7 64.b8=Q Rc7+ (Yet another try at stalemate; the third of the game. 65.Qxc7 is a draw, so…) 65.Rxc7 1-0]

11…O-O (11…Bxe2 Bg4 12.Kg2 Qe4 13.Bf3! +-) 12.Rf1? (Kg2! – K. Williams)

2019_07_25

12…Bh3!! 0-1 (This is stronger than 12…Qe4+ 13.Kf2 Rxf7+ and either 14.Ke1 or 14.Kg1 and the White king lives. But after 12…Bh3!!, White has a choice between …Rxf7# or losing a massive amount of material with 13.Bd3 Rxf7+ 14.Ke2 Bg4+ 15.Ke1 Rxf1+ 16.Kxf1 Bxd1.)

 

correspondence_AI_1

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.

Dixit_1_A

Dixit_2_A

 

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, https://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?fr=mcafee&p=chess+movie#id=2&vid=998433ab7997d2e286c6412590eef4e3&action=click

 

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 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

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

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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