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Friday, February 15, 2019

No Chess Today

Take a break and enjoy watching the Swedish jazz musician Gunhild Carling do her thing. 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Tearing Down A Tattered Ensign

     When I grew up almost all chess literature was in descriptive notation and that’s the way I recorded my games. And, because I learned chess mostly by reading books, I used "Kt" for Knight because that’s the way it appeared in books. I didn’t know there was another way to do it...namely using an "N" for the Knight. My games were recorded thus: 

1.P-K4 P-K4 
2.Kt-KB3 Kt-QB3 
3.B-Kt5 etc. 

    And, it was many years before I changed. But, I wasn’t alone. Looking at the letters to the editor in the January 1944 issue of Chess Review, there was a debate raging over whether or not the Knight should be recorded as Kt or N. Here is just a sampling of the letters published: 

John P. Scott of California wrote, “I think the only reason N isn’t used...is because enough courageous pioneers have not raised their voice in protest against an outmoded custom. I raise mine now! N for Knight!” 

A.W. Liger of Massachusetts said, “Since chess is a logical game, any shortening of notation is also logical...including clarity, time, ink saving, paper saving, reduction of eye strain.” But not all wanted change. 

C. Rosenfeld of Texas asked, “Would you tear down the tattered ensign Kt? Many an eye has danced to see that banner a-flutter on fields wet with heroes’ blood, where fought the glorious armies of Morphy, Pillsbury, Marshall, Lasker, Capablanca, Horowitz and others of the host of the mighty.” and added, “Chess is as much tradtion as a game. Let us keep all the lore and trappings.” 

G. Englehardt of Connecticut said, “This chess is an old game. Let’s keep it a-going as it is. The Kt has been used for hundreds of years; why change?” 

     Chess Review editor Al Horowitz issued a rather long reply, “Readers have expressed themselves fully and with much freedom on this subject. Those who prefer N believe that the use of this symbol...prevents typographical errors, makes it easier to read and write game scores, avoids confusion between King and Knight (pieces or squares) and other reasons. For these and other reason, 121 readers voted for N.” 

     “Opposed were 29 readers who voted to retain Kt. Main reason given: that a change would be breaking tradition. Secondary reason: that confusion would exist if two symbols if two symbols were used in publication.” 

     Horowitz then went on to explain, “To the editors of Chess Review, the arguments of the large majority in favor of N seem logical and convincing. The contrary argument that two symbols would cause confusion bears some weight, but a simple announcement would acquaint readers accustomed to Kt with the change and enable them to readily follow game scores...It is our belief and experience that most chess players in this country use the symbol N in their own recording. Practically all postal players use N. Some magazines and newspaper columnists have long since adopted N. However, most books are published with the symbol Kt, although at least one (Comparative Chess by Frank J. Marshall) has used the letter N.” 

     “As to tradition, some readers seem to be under a misapprehension in this respect. The traditional name of the piece would not be changed in any way. The Knight would remain a Knight, it would not be referred to as Nite. It is merely a symbol...” 

    “No iconoclasts, the Editors...have no desire to break tradition just to see the pieces fly. It should be realized that descriptive notation has been changed many times in the past, that tradition in this respect is one of constant change.”

    Horowitz then devoted a couple of paragraphs chronicling the changes in descriptive notation. He then concluded, “Prior commitments prevent the immediate adoption of the symbol N by Chess Review. However, when serials now appearing in the magazine are completed, the change will be made. Announcement will appear at that time.” 
     Chess games appearing in newspapers and magazines of the day were a mixed bag; the West Virginia Chess Bulletin used N while the New York Times used Kt. The Australian magazine Check! used N as did Purdy's Chess World, but The Australasian Chess Review preferred Kt as did the British Chess Magazine.  Eventually we all, in the words of C. Rosenfeld, tore down the tattered ensign Kt.
     Later there was to be another big brouhaha when publications switched over to algebraic notation, but by that time I had become owner of a number of European chess books that used it, so it was no mystery. The only problem was that when I began recording my games they were often a mix of both descriptive and algebraic, but I eventually got it straight. 
   
     While on the subject of recording games, Viktor Korchnoi recorded his games in what appears to be Martian:

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Hague 1921 and an Alekhine Classic

     In a 1921 conference at The Hague, the International Law Association adopted The Hague Rules, an international code for conditions concerning the carriage of cargo under a bill of lading, but unless you’re involved in international shipping, they are of no interest. 
     In other news, even though World War I ended on November 11, 1918, the US Congress didn’t declare until July 2, 1921 that it had officially ended. That was because technically a formal state of war between the two sides existed after the fighting stopped until the Treaty of Versailles was signed in June of 1919. The United States Senate did not ratify the treaty despite public support for it and did not formally end its involvement in the war until the Knox–Porter Resolution was signed in July 1921 by President Warren G. Harding. 
Rappe
     In Hollywood, The Sheik debuted and established star Rudolph Valentino as cinema's best-known lover. In other Hollywood news the rotund Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle was arrested on manslaughter charges after a woman died following a party he had thrown. Arbuckle (1887 - 1933) was a silent film actor, comedian, director, and screenwriter who mentored Charlie Chaplin and discovered Buster Keaton and Bob Hope. 
Fatty
     Arbuckle was one of the most popular silent stars of the 1910s, and soon became one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood, signing a contract in 1920 with Paramount Pictures for a million dollars (about $14 million today). 
     Between November 1921 and April 1922, Arbuckle was the defendant in three widely publicized trials for the rape and manslaughter of actress Virginia Rappe who had fallen ill at a party he hosted in San Francisco in September 1921; she died four days later. 
     Arbuckle was accused by Rappe's acquaintance of raping and accidentally killing her. After the first two trials, which resulted in hung juries, Arbuckle was acquitted in the third trial and received a formal written statement of apology from the jury.  Read details at the Smithsonian.
     Despite his acquittal, the scandal overshadowed his legacy as a pioneering comedian. Following the trials, his films were banned and he was publicly ostracized. Although the ban on his films was lifted within a year, Arbuckle only worked sparingly through the 1920s. He was finally able to return to acting, making short two-reel comedies in 1932 for Warner Bros. He died in his sleep of a heart attack at age 46, reportedly on the same day he signed a contract with Warner Brothers to make a feature film. 
     The Netherlands remained neutral during the First World War, but was significantly affected by it. Its army remained fully mobilized to counter any possible threat and its economy felt the strain of both sides attempts to control the world’s sea lanes and supplies. Neutrality also created a problem as the Dutch government had to care for thousands of refugee as well as soldiers who had entered their territory. All this had created widespread unrest. 
     Now back to the chess tournament. It was held from October 26 through November 4th, 1921 and included veterans Jacques Mieses and Georg Marco, established masters Alexander Alekhine, Akiba Rubinstein and Savielly Tartakower. Max Euwe, an amateur, participated by virtue of having become the new Dutch champion earlier in the year. 
     Capablanca had won the world championship in April of that year and his first challenge came from Rubinstein in September and in November Alekhine issued a challenge after winning The Hague. After The Hague, Dutch chess officials proposed a "Candidates Match" between Alekhine and Rubinstein, to be held in the Netherlands on or after March 1922. Both agreed with the proposition, but in December the American Chess Bulletin reported that Capablanca would honor Rubinstein's challenge first, unless the proposed Dutch candidates match should produce a decisive victory for one or the other. 
     When Alekhine arrived in the Netherlands in January 1922, he stated that a candidates match was no longer possible because Rubinstein had been admitted to a sanitarium with mental problems after he played Triberg in 1921. Shortly afterwards the Dutch press demonstrated that Alekhine's claim was spurious, but the match still didn't take place. See Edward Winter’s article on Rubinstein’s later years HERE. Alekhine didn’t get to play Capablanca until 1927.  

1) Alekhine 8.0-1.0 
2) Tartakower 7.0-2.0 
3) Rubinstein 6.5-2.5 
3-4) Kostic and Maroczy 5.5-3.5 
6) Mieses 4.0-5.0 
7) Marco 3.0-6.0 
8) Davidson 2.5-6.5 
9) Euwe 2.0-7.0 
10 Yates 1.0-7.0 
Alekhine was held to draws by Tartakower and Kostic 

     The following game is one of Alekhine’s well known masterpieces. Whether you have seen it before or not is unimportant because it’s worth playing and just watching one of the greatest players in history demolish another one of the greatest players in history.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Georgi Ilivitsky, Another Forgotten Master

     The almost unknown Georgi Ilivitsky was born in Akmolinsk (now Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan) in the Soviet Union and was one of the strongest Soviet masters immediately after World War II. 
     Awarded the IM title in 1955, he finished equal third in the USSR Championship (1955) and shared tenth place in the Gothenburg Interzonal (1955). He was also a strong match player, defeating Isaac Boleslavsky in 1944, Alexey Suetin in 1950 and Ludek Pachman in 1956. 
     He was first noticed in the Trade Union Team Championship in 1946 when he put up stiff resistance against Isaac Boleslavsky. At the time Ilivitsky, playing for the Metallurg Sports Society, had a First Category rating (about 2100 Elo) and through subtle maneuvering he also achieved a draw against Lilienthal. Ilivitsky showed little regard for opening theory, but was an excellent positional and defensive player.
     Not long after, in the Sverdlovsk semi-final of the USSR Championship in 1947, he scored 8.5-3.5 and tied for second which won him the Master title and the right to play in the final where he tied with Lilienthal with a score of 8.0-10.0. 
      Working as an engineer at the Ural Engineering Works, Ilivitsky tied for first in the Russian Federation Championship with Dubinin and won first in 1949. By 1955 he was good enough to to tie with Botvinnik, Petrosian and Spassky for third place in the 20th USSR Championship which qualified him for the Gothenberg Interzonal where he scored +1 which included a win over Geller. He later beat Ludek Pachman in a play-off match. 
     Unable to sustain himself at the very top of the Soviet system, he lacked opportunities to play outside the USSR. Chessmetrics assigns Ilivitsky a rating of 2639 in December 1955 placing him at number 31 in the world. This put him in a group that included such players as Benko, Unzicker, Panno, Evans, Bisguier, Eliskases and O’Kelly. 
     He died in Sverdlovsk in the Ukraine at the age of 68 on November 28, 1989 when he committed suicide by jumping out a window as did Latvian player Alvis Vitolinsh and Estonian GM Lembit Oll.  
     Jumping or falling out windows seems to be a danger for chess players. In 1905 Harry N. Pillsbury tried to commit suicide by jumping from the fourth floor of a Philadelphia hospital where he was being treated for mental disorders. 
     In 2006 the promising British player Jessica Gilbert, 19, was found dead outside the Hotel Labe in Pardubice after apparently falling out the window of her hotel room. 
     In 2008 a court in the Russian Republic of Udmurtia sentenced a man to six years in prison after he got so upset over losing a game that he threw his opponent out of a window. 43-year-old Aleksey Valentikhin came to visit his friend, a 60-year-old pensioner, who lived nearby. After several losses in a row, Valentikhin attacked his rival and threw him out of the window. The victim had several broken bones and injuries to his lungs and later died in hospital. 
     In 2016 a Soviet junior, Yuri Yeliseyev age 20, died after apparently plunging from a balcony on the 12th floor of a Moscow apartment.
     This should be enough for any chess player to develop defenestraphobia. 

Monday, February 11, 2019

Fischer-Geller At Bled, a Short Sharp Scuffle

     Geller had a plus record against all but one of the six world champions he played: Botvinnik, Fischer, Petrosian, Smyslov and Tal. Only Spassky had a plus score against him. 
     All of the games between Geller and Fischer were tension ridden, exciting games. One of Fischer’s wins against Geller came at Bled in 1961. The 18 year old Fischer made a remarkable showing by finishing second a point behind Tal.  While Tal won the tournament, it was a moral victory for Fischer who went undefeated and handed Tal his only loss. 
     Tal and Fischer were neck and neck through the 15th round, but in the final four rounds Fischer only won one game and drew three while Tal drew one and won three. 
     After 18 rounds Tal was leading by a half point so Fischer had a shot at tying for first if he could win and Tal only drew. But in the last round Tal defeated Najdorf and Fischer drew with Ivkov. 

1) Tal 14.5-4.5 
2) Fischer 13.5-5.5 
3-5) Petrosian, Keres and Gligoric 12.5-6.5 
6-7) Geller and Trifunovic 10.5-8.5 
8) Parma 10.0-9.0 
9-10) Bisguier and Matanovic 9.5-9.5 
11-13) Darga, Donner and Najdorf 9.0-10.0 
14) Olafsson 8.5-10.5 
15-16) Portisch and Ivkov 8.0-11.0 
17) Pachman 7.0-12.0 
18) Bertok 6.5-12.5 
19) Germek 55-13.5 
20) Udovcic 4.0-15.0 

     True to form, when Fischer and Geller met in round 6 Geller took a gamble with 7...Qf6 and looked happy. Fischer sacrificed a Pawn to open up the game, but Geller was unfazed and kept his happy face until Fischer’s 14th move. After half an hour’s thought Geller was forced to remove his happy face and exchange it for a frown when he realized he was in mortal danger. He resigned a few moves later. 
     

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Good Online Site – Play In Real Time

     Last week I stumbled upon a site which I had never seen before, Chess Any Time.  You can play anonymously or you can sign up for free. By registering, you will have access to a rating and free puzzles in "Practice" mode. You can also play against a computer. 
     Membership is: by the month ($5.00), 6 months ($19.00), annually ($29.00) or for two years ($49.00). Membership offers unlimited live play, game storage, analysis, statistics and tournament play. They also offer special rate for tactics training. The interface is also very nice. 
     If you play as a guest you can create a game at your preferred time limit or you can accept a challenge. I played a few games there and was pleasantly surprised at the strength of the opposition. 
I disconnect in lost positions
     I lost a couple of games which of course does not necessarily mean the opposition was strong, but it was challenging. As an example of what you can expect, here’s one of my “better” games played at a time limit of G10.  It's a good site if you want a couple of quick games.   
     As happens on any site, a couple of losers disconnected when they got lost positions.  I don't understand why people do that.  Resigning a chess game does not make you a loser, disconnecting does.



Friday, February 8, 2019

Top Dog Chess Blogs

     I just discovered this site that lists the best chess blogs from thousands of top blogs in their index by using search and social metrics and data is refreshed once a week. This blog is number 33 on the list. They also have a list of top chess Youtube channels
     The site allows you to submit your own blog, so I can't say if that has anything to do with a blog's appearing on the list as being one of the "top" blogs because this blog was never submitted. I mention this site because looking through the list there are a number of interesting blogs that are unfamiliar, but are worth visiting.

Bournemouth 1939

     I just noticed that for unknown reasons all the games posted in this blog from 2012 and earlier have disappeared! I don’t know what the problem could be...Blogger or Knight Vision. For some reason even on the website games posted using Knight Vision have begun appearing only in the mobile view without notes. Not that it matters because Knight Vision uses Adobe Flash which will quit working next year. See article. Thankfully, we have Caissa's Web! On to Bournemouth...
     1939 was a fateful year for Great Britain as the country began gearing up for war. In April, the Military Training Act introduced conscription men aged 20 and 21 had to undertake six months military training. Then in June there was the Tientsin Incident when the Imperial Japanese Army blockaded British trading settlements in the north China treaty port of Tientsin. The Women's Auxiliary Air Force was created and in July the Women's Land Army was re-formed to work in agriculture. 
     In late August, Army reservists were called up and Civil Defense workers placed on alert and the Royal Navy proceeded to war stations. Beginning in September Operation Pied Piper, a 4-day evacuation of children from London and other major U.K. cities began and blackouts were imposed all across Britain. And, finally, on September 3 Nazi Germany declared war on Great Britain. 

     
     In the midst of it all, in mid-August the British Chess Federation Congress at Bournemouth was held. But, with the war being so close the British Championship was not at stake. Also, at the same time Harry Golombek, C.H.O’D. Alexander, Sir George Thomas, P.S. Milner-Barry and B.H. Wood were all competing in the Buenos Aires Olympiad so the men’s championship was scrapped. 


1) Euwe 9.0-2.0 
2-3) Flohr and Klein 8.5-2.5 
4-5) Komig and Landau 6.5-4.5 
6) Conde 6.0-5.0 
7-8) Aitken and Wallis 5.0-6.0 
9) Thomas 4.5-6.5 
10) Mieses 3.5-7.5 
11) Kitto 2.0-9.0 
12 Abrahams 1.0-10.0 
William Winter withdrew in the last minute and was replaced by P.N. Wallis. The concurrent British Women's Championship was won by 13-year-old Elaine Saunders Pritchard, who had nine wins and two draws. 

     The unfortunate Gerald Abrahams won a single game, against Mieses. Abrahams was a rather wayward player who like unconventional openings and in the following game it cost him a point against Euwe. Gerald Abrahams was an author and barrister. He is best known for the Abrahams Defense of the Semi-Slav, also known as the Abrahams–Noteboom Variation, or the Noteboom Variation. He was also known for his prowess at playing blindfold. I did a post on Abrahams HERE

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Fischer At His Best

     For the first time in a very long time I pulled Bobby Fischer, His Approach to Chess by Elie Agur off the bookshelf and browsed through it. I had forgotten what a good book it is. It’s one of a few books I have on Fischer and one of the better ones. 
     Sidebar: Years ago I got stung when I bought Bobby Fischer 1955-1960 that was supposed to be annotated by Smyslov, Tal, Yudasin and Tukmakov. The book was published in 1962 and there was a very short prologue by Botviinik (who else?) and the games were printed in Informant style. For readers unfamiliar with the Informants, think of a book with 371 games that look like computer generated analysis. 

     Bobby Fischer, His Approach to Chess was published in 1996 and I believe Agur is a fairly low rated master from Israel, but this is a book that none other than Jeremy Silman called a classic. It’s an examination of the middlegame Fischer-style. Agur covers P-structures, piece placement, material, time, strategy, tactics and a whole bunch of other stuff and he attempts to discuss Fischer’s games from the standpoint of those subjects. 
     In discussing tactics, Agur observed that as Fischer matured, the level of sophistication of tactical motifs grew. Agur wrote, “When a players no longer falls back on tactics to solve sharp positional problems and resorts to tactical measures only when they are objectively the most appropriate mean to do that, his combinations are likely to gain depth and beauty...they are the most logical, incisive and often elegant ways to conclude a game...” 
     Fischer’s opponent in the following game was the Argentine IM Samuel Schweber (July 16, 1936 - January 1, 2017). In the 1955 World Junior Championship in Antwerp he finished 9th. Schweber played in several Argentine chess championships, his best results being 2nd in 1963, 3rd in 1965, 2nd in 1968, 3rd-4th in 1969 and 1980. He played for Argentina in five Olympiads with good results. In the game Fischer plays with great perspicacity as seen in his R-maneuvering followed by one of his most elegant sacrifices. 
Schweber

     Nobody had a chance against Fischer in this tournament; after 12 rounds he had 11 wins and a draw and clinched first with three rounds to go. Second place was taken by a 24-year-old untitled player named Vladimir Tukmakov who went on to enjoy considerable success in the 70s and 80s. The third place finisher, Oscar Panno, also enjoyed one of the best successes of his career. 
     Of the other American players only Reshevsky could consider the tournament a success especially at the age of 59. He drew 13 games, many short draws, and his 4 wins were against bottom finishers. Bisguier was, as was sometimes the case, unsteady; in several games he stood well, but then faltered. Against the players who finished above him he scored only one win, lost five and drew five. 
     It’s my belief that Bisguier was a better player than his overall results would indicate. Never one to shirk from risks, he sometimes eschewed the safe in favor of the risky. His away from the board fun loving lifestyle probably affected his results, too. And, it appears that there was plenty of things to do in Buenos Aires besides play chess. 
     I remember at the US Championship held in the sleepy college town of Oberlin, Ohio when, before the start of the tournament, Bisguier asked a couple of guys, “Where can you get a drink around here?” When informed they didn’t sell alcohol in town and the nearest place was several miles away, he pulled out his wallet, handed them some money and told them to go get him a fifth of Jack Daniels. 
     The 49-year old ex-world champion Smyslov with one win (against Szabo) and 16 draws, even though a few were hard fought, was no longer a serious threat. For 17-year-old Henrique Mecking the tournament was a disappointment because he had hoped for a GM score, but did not come close. The highlight of the tournament for him was being the only player to have an advantage against Fischer, but he couldn’t manage to win. He did, however, earn the IM title and finished ahead of five GMs. Hungarian star Laszlo Szabo was unrecognizable with seven losses, more than anyone else except the two tailenders. 
     For more details on this tournament see the article at Chess Talk

1) Fischer 15.0-2.0 
2) Tukmakov 11.5-5.5 
3) Panno 11.0-6.0 
4-6) Gheorghiu, Najdorf and Reshevsky 10.5-6.5 
7) Smyslov 9.0-8.0 
8-9) Mecking and Quinteros 8.5-8.5 
10-11) Damjanovic and O'Kelly 8.0-9.0 
12-13) Bisguier and Szabo 7.5-9.5 
14) Garcia 7.0-10.0 
15) Rubinetti 6.5-10.5 
16-17) Rossetto and Schweber 5.5-11.5 
18) Agdamus 2.5-14.5 

 

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Atlantic City Chess Congress 1920

Marshall on the attack
     In July of 1920 Atlantic City, New Jersey, which claimed to be the “foremost pleasure resort in the world,” hosted a master tournament on Young’s Million Dollar Pier. The tournament was a suggestion of US Champion Frank J. Marshall and the organizers managed to put the tournament together in just 4 weeks. 
     It was a double round event with one round per day with the exception of Friday which was reserved for adjourned games. The time limit was 30 moves in two hours then 15 moves per hour. The participants were: Frank Marshall and Charles Jaffe (New York City), E.S. Jackson, Jr. and Sidney Sharp (Phildelphia), Stasch Mlotkowski (Los Angeles) and George Neidich (Burlington, New Jersey). 
     Marshall was the favorite, but there were times that he had uneasy moments when both Jaffe and Mlotkowski had their chances.  For example, against Marshall in the 7th round Jaffe missed winning a piece. 
     Jaffe was in the lead in the 3rd round and in the 4th Mlotkowski took the lead only to lose it in the 5th round when Jaffe and Marshall were tied. In round 6 Marshall was in the lead by himself, but in the next round he was tied with Mlotkowski. After that, Marshall won the last three rounds while Mlotkowski weakened and lost his last two games. 
     Jackson started out with three straight losses, but then won 4 in a row to bring himself within half a point of the leaders. Then came two more losses before his final round defeat of Mlotkowski. 
     As for Jaffe, he took 2nd place without any such alarms. Sidney Sharp was not at his best and George Neidich, a Cornell University freshman, was a last minute fill in and created a sensation in the first round by defeating Sharp, but he didn’t score again until the 9th round when he defeated Jackson. He had played brilliantly against Jaffe in the 3rd round, but overlooked a forced win. Not much is known of George Neidich except at in 1923, at the age of 25, he received a degree in Mechanical Engineering at Cornell. 

There were three special prizes: 
The Brilliancy Prize, donated by Sidney Rosenzweig, was won by Jackson for his win over Mlotkowski 
The Second Brilliancy Prize, donated by the William F. Drueke Company, was won by Jaffe for his win over Sharp. 
The Best Played Game Prize, also donated by Drueke, was won by Marshall for his win over Sharp.  

Final Standings: 
1) Marshall 7.5-2.5 
2) Jaffee 6.5-3.5 
3-4) Jackson and Mlotkowski 5.0-5.0 
5) Sharp 4.0-6.0 
6) Neidich 2.0-8.0 

     In the following game Marshall’s main attack, which comes after the Qs are exchanged is impressive. In fact his whole attack is not the flashy kind we expect to see from Marshall, it fact, it’s smooth a silk. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Charles Powell

     The annual Armed Forces Chess Championship, also known as the Inter-Services Chess Championship has been held annually since 1960 by the Department of Defense and the USCF. 
     The United States Armed Forces has studied chess in a number of different applications, from the understanding of psychology, game theory, problem solving, tactical decision making, risk taking and leadership, not to mention in computer programs, artificial intelligence and algorithms. The Defense Technical Information Center lists over 1,500 civilian, contractor and military reports dealing with chess, chess theory and other applications of chess research. In fact, you can visit the Center and search for “chess” and all kinds of stuff comes up. 
     The first tournament was held in 1960, and continued uninterrupted until 1993, when the support of the Department of Defense was withdrawn. The USCF and the US Chess Center supported the tournaments until 2001, when the support of the Department of Defense was resumed. 
     Emory Tate won the Armed Forces Chess Championship five times, in 1983, 1984, and three times in a row from 1987-1989, an unequaled record. In 1968, the winner was Army Private First Class Charles Powell (1944-1991) with an impressive 11-1 score.
     In 1964, Powell defeated Bobby Fischer in a simul in Richmond, Virginia. He won the Virginia championship seven times (1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1971, 1972 and 1976). Powell was a USCF Senior Master (rating over 2400) and was sometimes known to read a newspaper if his opponent was taking to long to move. His play, even against weaker players, was complex and tactical which occasionally resulted in his losing to them. 
     Powell lived the last decade of his life in San Francisco. His widow, Lynne Murray, has authored a number of mystery novels. She wrote that when she met Powell in 1980 he was a law student and when they were married in 1983 within six months he became ill and for the rest of his life battled chronic illness. She described him as “very brave and good natured about being sick and all the things he was never able to do.  He passed away at the age of 48.
     The following game against National Master Rusty Potter is typical of Powell's play.
 

Monday, February 4, 2019

Erik Andersen

     I recently discovered the games of the little known Erick Andersen (April 10, 1904 – February 27, 1938) of Denmark. Born in Gentofte, now a suburb of Copenhagen, Andersen was the strongest Danish player in the 1920's and 1930's and was the Danish Champion 12 times (1923, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935 and 1936). 
     He was Nordic Champion in 1930, and defended this title by drawing 3-3 against Gideon Stahlberg in 1934, but lost to Erik Lundin in 1937. In international tournaments his best result were modest, generally finishing just below the prize winners. 
     He was described as being a likable fellow with a quiet, unobtrusive humor. His play was distinguished by indifferent opening play with little regard for theory, but he was an attacking player with great tactical ability. Chessmetrics assigns him a rating of 2555 in 1935, ranking him as number 61 in the world. Other players in the same range include Gosta Stolz, William Winter and Frank Marshall. 
     The following win against Jens Enevoldsen (1907 – 1980) is typical. Enevoldsen won the Danish Championship five times (1940, 1943, 1947, 1948, and 1960). In 1939 he shared first but lost a playoff, and in 1950 he again shared first, but lost the lottery. 
     The game was known for the circumstances under which it was played. As a non-smoker, Andersen protested that Enevoldsen was deliberately blowing smoke in his face. There was a window behind them and the battle also extended to the window when they took turns opening and closing it. 


Game Highlights: 
13...Re8 – This is a mistake that allows Andersen to launch an immediate K-side attack. With 13...Qa5 black could have obtained counterplay. If white continues with 14.f5 then after 14...Qxc3 15.fxg6 Qxa1 16.gxh7+ Kh8 arriving at an unclear position. 
24.Ne6 – The N cannot be taken because white can force mate after 24...fxe6 25.fxe6+ .Ne4 26.Bxe4+ Qg6 27.Bxg6+ Kh8 28.Bf6 Nxf6 29.Rxh6+ gxh6 30.Qxh6+ Nh7 31.Qxh7 mate. 
25.Nxg7 - Against best play (beginning with 25...Ng4) this results in a mate in 13, but there was a quicker mate with 25.Bxf6 Nxf6 26.Nxg7 h5 27.Rxh5+ Nxh5 28.f6+ Qe4 29.Bxe4+ Kh8 30.Qh6 mate. 
25...Kxg7 - Capturing with the R also allows white to mate with the same stunning Q sacrifice. 25...Rxg7 26.Qxh6+ Kg8 (26...Kxh6 27.Bxf6 mate) 27.Bxf6 and black can only delay, not prevent, mate. 
26.Qxh6+ - 26...Kxh6 27.Bxf6 mate

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Up and Running

     Now that my laptop has been pretty much restored to pre-crash status I hope to resume normal activities. The game viewer is still something of a disappointment though. Apparently the nice one from Chessbase requires a membership, but I am not interested. 
     None of the other game viewers I have discovered will import notes so the only workaround seems to be pointing out game highlights in the body of the post. The best available viewer I have found is the one on ChessVideosTV. They offer thousands of free chess videos to help improve your game. The range of videos include lessons from top players to those focused on improving your chess tactics. Be sure to pay them a visit.
     Fritz 12 is up and running and the only problem is that on startup it tells me the program may not be an original and and it then checks the DVD, apparently looking for an activation code. I have one, but it informs me it's been used. At least the program works. 
     Aquarium 2014 works fine, but compared to Fritz it seems a bit klutzy. I also have Chess Assistant on the old hard drive and I think I could probably get it up and running, too, but decided against it. Back in 2016 I purchased Chess Assistant, but never liked it. It crashed occasionally and some users were complaining that it is a bit buggy especially running under Windows 10 and a patch was issued. 
     It is possible to publish a playable game using Aquarium.  However, squares with pieces on them are white and, furthermore, the game takes about 90 pages in a word processor which is far, far too many.  It's just not practical!  Also, there are no replay arrows.
     Here's a short sample offhand game in the new game viewer. In the Trompowsky Attack white intends to exchange his B for the N on f6 inflicting black with doubled Ps, but they are not a serious weakness for black. 
3...g5?! - This is a poor choice that gives white the upper hand. Better was 3...c5.
5...h5 - Necessary because white was threatening Qh5+ 
7.Bxe4?? - With this move white trapped his own B. Correct was 7.f3.


Thursday, January 31, 2019

Annoying Last Couple of Days

     The last few days have been annoying! To begin with we have been suffering through a polar vortex which has brought unusually cold weather with temperatures below zero...normal for some regions, but not us. 
     And, after making my post of January 28th I booted up my laptop only to get a blue screen. Searching the internet on another laptop hinted that the cause might be hard drive failure! There was no choice but to go out into the cold and lug the laptop over to Best Buy where the tech confirmed the problem. It cost $272 to replace the drive with a solid state drive which is nice and very fast, reinstall Windows and the antivirus. 
     After getting the laptop back, it took a whole day downloading and re-installing all the programs on the new drive. My beloved Fritz 12 was gone and I could not find the CD with the program on it anywhere. However, I was able to download and get Aquarium 12 functioning although it's not my favorite. I tried both Arena and Scid v PC and while they are good programs with lots of features, I'll relearn how to use Aquarium. Edit: After a day of copy/pasting files off the old drive and a lot of tinkering Fritz 12 is now working.
     Fortunately, I was able to mount the old hard drive in an old IOCell i-Portable external drive and salvage all my documents and photos. That's good because Best Buy wanted $150 to do it! I would recommend purchasing one of these devices if you can find one, or at least something similar! If a laptop crashes all you have to do is plug the hard drive into the IOCell i-Portable case and you can access all your documents. 
     I also noticed that for some reason games posted with Knight Vision only appear in mobile viewer mode. Why, I don't know. The problem is that notes don't appear in the games. I guess it really doesn't matter though because Knight Vision has posted a memo that Adobe Flash Player will no longer be supported at the end of 2020 and are encouraging content creators to migrate any existing Flash content. The Knight Vision viewer uses Adobe Flash and will stop working when Flash stops working! Apparently that means that next year the games in this blog disappear. Boo on Adode!  Edit: I posted a viewer that worked very well for a day or so, but then it ceased working. It appears that one needs a paid account at Chessbase for the program to function properly.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Montevideo 1938 and a Typical Alekhine Attack

     The year 1938 was the beginning of a fateful time in world history. In Europe, Germany was continuing it's strategy of persecuting the Jews and occupation in Czechoslovakia. British prime minister Neville Chamberlain went to Germany fearing another world war and after agreeing to allow Hitler could occupy Czechoslovakia declared "Peace in our time." 
     In the US, following a number of years of success a recession hit which caused unemployment to rise back to 19 percent. The US minimum hourly wage was 40 cents per hour for a 44 hour working week. 
     On September 21st the Great New England Hurricane slammed into the east coast with little or no warning and 40 foot waves hit Long Island and 63,000 people were left homeless and some 700 dead. 

     On October 30th Orson Wells dramatization of War of The Worlds radio program caused panic in the eastern United States when it was broadcast more like a news breaking story than a play. The program began with an announcement that let listeners know that it was not a real news broadcast, however many listeners missed the disclaimer. The program was broadcast without commercials and was done in a style that emulated real breaking news reports, creating a realistic feeling to the drama. The reports chronicled an alien invasion of the Eastern United States. 

     After the play had ended, newspapers reported that the broadcast had incited a mass panic in the country, stating that many believed it to be real. While it is true that some listeners were disturbed by the fake reports, there was no evidence of a mass panic taking place. In reality, not very many people had actually listened to the program and it is thought that many of the reports were made up by newspapers who had been angry that the booming business of radio was increasingly taking a large portion of their ad revenue. Fake news! 
     The second USCF-sponsored tournament for the US championship, held at the RCA Building in Rockefeller Center, New York in April, 1938. Samuel Reshevsky went undefeated and edged Reuben Fine by a half point. Fine lost two games: to Anthony Santasiere and Milton Hanauer, both of whom finished in the middle of the pack. 
     One of the major tournaments was held in Montevideo, the capital and largest city of Uruguay. The city has been described as a vibrant, eclectic place with a rich cultural life and a thriving tech center and entrepreneurial culture and ranked eighth in Latin America on the 2013 MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index. And, if you're into such things, it was also regarded as the fifth most gay-friendly metropolis in the world, first in Latin America. It is the hub of commerce and higher education in Uruguay as well as its chief port. 
     Down through the years the city has hosted a lot of tournaments, but one of the greatest was the eighth South American Chess Championship that was held from the 7th to the 25th of March in 1938.  The event was held in an elegant seaside resort Carrasco, one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Montevideo. 
     Alekhine won convincingly ahead of a list of Who's Who of South American players. According to an article in Chess Review, Alekhine had made a comeback as evidenced by his regaining the World Championship in the previous year. 
     His play at Montevideo, Margate and Brighton revealed a dominance that was his during the San Remo period of his chess career. Chess Review put it like this: His opening play is certain, his middle game superb, and his end game a model of excellence, adding that Alekhine had mastered his nerves and in so doing had improved his mastery at chess. 
     Alekhine continued to show that, at 46 years of age, he was still a force to be reckoned with, but his 4th through 6th at AVRO in 1938 was an indication that the younger generation was hot on his heels. 
Pet parent - Grace Alekhine
     Alekhine and his wife could have stayed in South America or gone to the United States, but he returned to France supposedly because he wanted to fight the Nazis and we all know how that turned out. 
     After the war Alekhine was vilified and was banned from playing in tournaments outside of Spain and Portugal due to his alleged Nazi affiliation. He was stuck in Spain and Portugal while his much older wife (age 67 and in poor health) decided to remain in Paris where she died in 1957.  
     While in Spain and Portugal he played in several weak events and gave exhibitions to support himself as best he could. The strain of his circumstances lead to his dragged him down psychologically and he drank heavily. The result was his play deteriorated more and more.
     He was invited to the London “Victory” tournament in 1946, but several of the players protested, including the US representative Arnold Denker who later wrote that he regretted his decision because Alekhine had been good to him.
     The Soviets had offered him a sizable sum to play a match for the World Championship against Botvinnik, but he was found dead in his hotel room in Estoril, Portugal on March 24, 1946.  To this day the exact cause of his death remains a mystery. 

Alekhine’s Death – Edward Winter 
Alekhine's death – an unresolved mystery? - Chessbase 

     Most of the players are probably unfamiliar, but the third place finisher, Virgilio Fenoglio is almost unknown. He lost to Alekhine, Guimard and Silva Rocha. Fenoglio (February 20, 1902 – March 15, 1990) was an Argentine master and winner of 37 tournaments. He made 13 appearances in Argentine Championship between 1928–1959. 
     In international play he shared 1st with Carlos Guimard and Julio Bolbochan at Rio de Janeiro in 1938, tied for 14–15th at Mar del Plata in 1942 and finished 12th at Mar del Plata in 1943. 
     The fourth place finisher, Adhemar da Silva de Oliveira Rocha (July 2, 1908 - November 14, 1975), was a Brazilian master who won the Brazilian championship in 1941. He also played for Brazil in the 3rd unofficial Chess Olympiad at Munich 1936 and in the 8th Chess Olympiad at Buenos Aires 1939.
     He won the Rio de Janeiro State championship in the 1934, 1935 and 1937. He died on of a heart attack on November 14, 1975 while walking around downtown Rio de Janeiro. 
     Alekhine's opponent in the following game was Julio Balparda (born about 1900 – July 2, 1942) won the Uruguayan Championship three times (1929, 1934, and 1936). He played several times in the South American Chess Championship; tied for 10-12th in 1928, tied for 3rd-6th in 1934, 17th at Buenos Aires 1934/35, 15th at Mar del Plata 1936, 14th at São Paulo 1937 and 11th in this tournament. In his last international tournaments, he took 5th at Montevideo in 1941 and 10th at Aguas de Sao Pedro/São Paulo in 1941. 

1) Alekhine 13.0-2.0 
2) Guimard 11.5-3.5 
3) Fenoglio 10.5-4.5 
4) Silva Rocha 9.5-5.5 
5-6) Maderna and Grau 9.0-6.0 
7) Cruz 8.0-7.0 
8) Flores 7.5-7.5 
9) Trompowsky 7.0-8.0 
10) Alfredo Olivera 6.5-8.5 
11) Balparda 5.5-9.5 
12-14) Armando Salles Olivera, Canepa and Letelier 5.0-10.0 
15) Rotunno 4.5-10.5 
16) Bensadon 3.5-11.5