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Thursday, November 14, 2019

Chess Weather and a Beating at the Hands of a Sailor

The back yard
     It’s hard to believe that just a few days ago the temperature was pleasantly in the mid-60s, it was sunny and I was out cutting the grass for the last time this year. Then the last couple of days the bottom fell out...the temperature dropped into the mid-teens, it was overcast and then it snowed. 
     Here it was only enough to cover the ground, but yesterday further east conditions were so bad that a woman was killed in a 16-car pileup on the Ohio Turnpike and the day before whiteout conditions resulted in a pileup involving as many as 85 vehicles near Akron, Ohio. 
     A bus bound for New York City flipped on its side on a snowy highway in Syracuse, New York, early Tuesday injuring seven passengers and jackknifed tractor-trailers shut down a section of Interstate 90 in Pennsylvania overnight. All together this storm claimed at least six lives stretching from Kansas to Ohio.
     Not that it in any way compares to the tragedies on the highways, but last night we took our 12-year old nephew out to Olive Garden for dinner and it was a disaster. 
     My wife ordered the Tour of Italy (chicken parm, lasagna and fettuccine Alfredo) and the lasagna was disgusting. It had a thick, black, badly burnt crust on the bottom. Seriously, it was about 3/8 of an inch thick and you could barely cut it with the knife. When she pointed it out to the waitress, she knew it was bad and offered to replace it. My wife told her no, not if it’s from the same pan. The waitress replied, “We have lots of lasagna...it’ll be from a different pan.”
     Eventually the waitress brought out a large bowl of glop that was supposed to be fresh lasagna, but it tasted burnt and had no pasta on the bottom. When my wife informed the waitress that it was the same stuff and they had just scooped off the top layers that weren't burnt to a crisp, the waitress just smiled and said, “Sorry about that.” No offer to bring something else or adjust the bill even though one third of the meal was not fit to eat. 
     Since the weather hasn’t been so good, it’s been a good time to play some online chess, but that hasn’t gone very well either. I did a lot of experimenting with the Wing Gambit against the Sicilian. I know the Wing Gambit Deferred is better; the straight Wing Gambit (1.e4 c5 2.b4) is played with the idea of deflecting black's c-pawn, then dominating the center with an early d4. GM Joe Gallagher called it "a forgotten relic, hardly having set foot in a tournament hall since the days of Frank Marshall and Rudolph Spielmann. White sacrifices a pawn for...well, not a lot." Be that as it may, I still wanted to play 2.b4. 
     The following game against some guy in the US Navy was typical of the way we rating challenged players conduct a game...I came out of the opening with a decent position, went astray tactically and then ended up blowing the ending. A perfect example of how not to play chess.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Henry Hosmer, Another Forgotten Master

     Chess history hasn’t been kind to Henry Hosmer (April 7, 1837 – January 1, 1892); it has pretty much forgotten about him. But, that's probably Hosmer's fault...he chose to concentrate on a business career.
     He is known to have played in only two significant chess tournaments: the Second and Third American Chess Congresses in 1871 and 1874. 
     Edo Historical Ratings estimates that his rating following the Third American Chess Congress in 1874 would have been 2504 and in his day he was considered on of the strongest player outside of the New York area. He once won a casual 3-game match against Max Judd. 
     In the Second American Chess Congress, held in Cleveland, Ohio in November 1871, Hosmer finished second, scoring 12.0-4.0 in the double round robin event.  In the Third American Chess Congress, held in Chicago, Illinois in July 1874, Hosmer again finished second with a score of 8.5-1.5. In both tournaments George H. Mackenzie was the winner. 
     Hosmer also played a match with the New York player Edward Alberoni in February, 1876, at Hosmer's home in Chillicothe. Hosmer ably winning the match 5-0 with two draws. 
     According to 19th Century Chess by Bill Wall, Alberoni was born in 1840 in the U.S. He was a strong New York master and was visiting Philadelphia when he fell ill and nearly died. He recovered and eventually ended up in England.
     Hosmer’s obituary appeared in the Chicago Tribune stated that he was a grain buyer and served on the Chicago Board of Trade for 34 years, but oddly no mention was made of his chess career. To find out about Hosmer’s chess career you have to go to the book Chicago: It's History and Builders published in 1912 and authored by Josiah Seymour Currey. 
     Currey wrote that the story Of Henry Hosmer’s life was “the story of New England thrift and business sagacity supplemented by western energy, enterprise and adventure.” 
     Hosmer's father, Edmund, was an intimate friend and financial adviser to Ralph Waldo Emerson. Currey wrote that while Hosmer didn’t have the humble origins or experiences, he gave an excellent account of his modest beginnings. According to Currey, “The wisdom, energy and success with which he pushed his way along is a study for American youths. He Was a typical Chicago citizen and his labors contributed to the city's commercial importance as well as to the promotion of his individual interests.” 
     Originally from Concord, Massachusetts, Hosmer attended the public schools until he was 19-years old. He had little opportunity in Concord, so he moved west and for a time was employed as a member of a surveying crew in Iowa.
     Following this he located in Chicago and, associated with bis brother Edmund, who was engaged in the grain trade. After a short time their partnership was dissolved and Henry relocated to Chillicothe, Illinois where he was a ticket agent for the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad Company and, at the same time, engaged in the grain business. 
     Eventually he became one of the best known grain dealers in that part of the state and with prominent Chicago connections, he carried on an extensive business. 
     In February 1861, Hosmer married Alice H. Seboles in Chillicothe, Illinois. She was a native of Providence, Rhode Island and her father who had come to the U.S. from England and was in the cotton business in New England. The family eventually settled in Chillicothe and remained in the cotton business. 
     In 1877, he moved to Chicago where he remained in partnership with two other partners. Hosmer was one of the well known Board of Trade members of his time and had a business reputation for sound judgment, discretion and integrity which was never questioned. 
     Originally a member of the Republican party, Hostner later switched sides and became a Democrat. He was also a Mason and a member of the Iroqnois club and the chess club. According to Currey, Hosmer was “particularly fond of a game of chess or checkers and displayed notable skill in handling the Pawns, being regarded as one of the best chess players in this section of the country. He also had equal skill in a game of checkers and won victories over many noted players. His library was to him a source of constant delight. He spent hours in rending and possessed a most retentive memory, so that he was enabled to recall at will that which he had read.” 
     “He was also a man of generous spirit, kind and helpful toward those with whom be came contact and most devoted to the welfare of the members of his own household.” 
     He passed away on New Years Day in 1892 and he was interred in Sleepy Hollow cemetery in Concord, Massachusetts. 

1) Mackenzie 15.5 
2) Hosmer 13.0 
3) Elder 12.5 
4) Judd 11.5 
5) Ware 10.0 
6) Smith 9.0 
7) Harding 5.0 
8) Johnston 3.0 
9 Haughton 0.0 
Haughton withdrew after 10 straight losses 

     Hosmer’s opponent in this game was Frederick Perrin (December 05, 1815 – January 27, 1889). Perrin was born in London and died in New York. He was Secretary of the New York Chess Club. Brother of Alphonse Perrin, a prominent English player of his day. In 1856, Perrin edited the chess column in the New York Albion. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

A Reshevsky Tactical Display

     Isaac Kashdan, one of the strongest US players ever, never won the US Championship, but in 1942 he came close. The 1942 championship was one of the most controversial ever and the whole tournament hinged on a single move by the 6th place finisher, Al Horowitz. 
     This tournament was only five months after Pearl Harbor and the USCF had sent out an announcement in January canceling the championship because "The United States Government has issued a call for an all-out struggle in a war which has been thrust upon us," adding, "Our way of life is in great peril ... [and] the present time is not propitious for holding a championship tournament.” 
     In the end though the USCF changed its mind and the top players agreed to forego appearance fees and guarantees of prize money and to just play for modest prizes. 
     The tournament was a race between Kashdan (+11 -1 =3) and Reshevky (+10 -0 =5). Kashdan would have been U.S. champion in 1942, but for two unfortunate incidents over which he had no control. 
     In the 6th round the infamous L. Walter Stephens, incorrectly forfeited Arnold Denker after Reshevsky exceeded the time limit. Stephens, standing behind the clock, picked it up and turned it around so that the clocks were facing opposite sides and then declared Denker forfeited and then refused to change his decision even after his mistake was pointed out. 
     After his last round game finished Kashdan had 12.5 points while Reshevsky had 12 so the last round game between Reshevsky and Horowitz was critical. The game was adjourned with Horowitz two Pawns up. At resumption Horowitz managed to let the win slip away and the draw meant Reshevsky and Kashdan were tied. The result was a 14-game match playoff which was won by Reshevsky +6 -2 =3. 

1) Kashdan and Reshevsky 12.4 
3-4) Denker and Pinkus 10.5 
5) Steiner 10.0 
6) Horowitz 9.0 
7) Seidman 7.0 
8-9) Levin and Levy 6.5 
10-11) Chernev and Pilnick 6.0 
12-13) Baker and Lessing 5.0 
14-16) Altman, Green and Halbohm 4.0 

    Reshevsky’s style was often criticized and maligned and it was claimed that he won because he was lucky. It’s true...he did have a lot of lucky escapes; his success in escaping from bad positions and time pressure earned him the title of “Escape Artist” from the leading Soviet players of the day. Reshevsky, on many occasions, offered draws in lost positions and his reputation was such that his opponents accepted. Good teams and players in any sport are, as they say, always lucky. 

     The other complaint leveled at his play was that it was boring. In his book, Meet the Masters, Max Euwe wrote that Reshevsky liked boring positions then went on to explain that many positions which other masters would abandon as lost or drawn were more correctly analyzed by Reshevsky who would often discover numerous hidden possibilities. 
     On the other hand, Reuben fine preferred to credit Reshevsky’s sometime phenomenal luck to the fact that he was an excellent tactician who was rarely prepared to accept any conventional judgment and he would exhaust all his resources before admitting that he was wrong. That was the essence of his chess philosophy. 
     The following little known masterpiece from the 1942 U.S. Championship is pure tactics and typical Reshevsky in that it is full of complications. At a couple of points Reshevsky’s play was a little imprecise, but I suspect he was in his usual time pressure. 

Monday, November 11, 2019

Johann Lowenthal

     By 1842 Johann Jacob Lowenthal (Birth date uncertain– July 24, 1876) was recognized as one of the Hungary's players, second only to Jozsef Szen (1805—1857). A professional player, Lowenthal ranked among the top six players of the 1850s. 
     Most sources give his birthday as being July 15, 1810, however when he applied for British citizenship in 1866 he gave his age as 60, so he would have been born in 1806. According to an August 1876 article appearing in The Westminster Papers reporting on his passing, by his own account he was born in 1810.
     Little is actually known about his origins and early life. There was no city called Budapest when he lived there. He was actually born in Pest which is situated on the flatter eastern bank of the Danube. His father is said to have been a Jewish merchant, but Lowenthal was educated in a Catholic school either because of a lack of options or else to give him a broader education. 
     According to Lowenthal in an account he gave the publication Men of the Time, prior to 1848 he had been engaged in “mercantile pursuits” and during the “Hungarian insurrection of 1848, in which he took some part and upon the suppression of which he was obligated to take refuge in a foreign land.” 
     After being expelled from Hungary he arrived in New York via Hamburg on December 29, 1849. In 1851 he moved to London and resided permanently in England. 

     Lowenthal described how he had arrived in New York homeless, bereft of means and ignorant of any language except Hungarian. However, he was quick to add that he found among the chess community a “hearty American welcome” and the chess community was generous in helping him out financially. He frequently made mention in conversations about how the local players treated him and often invited him into their homes. 
     He was able to scratch out a living playing chess and after visiting Philadelphia, Baltimore and Lexington, Kentucky he ended up in Cincinnati, Ohio. 
     When he arrived in Cincinnati he met up with his fellow countryman, Colonel Pragay, and the two traveled to New Orleans carrying a letter of introduction to Eugene Rousseau.  Immediately after arriving in New Orleans, Lowenthal fell ill with a fever, but after recovering he met with Rousseau and that’s when he first heard of 12-year-old Paul Morphy. For an account of Lowenthal's meeting with Morphy refer to Life Master A.J. Goldsby's site HERE.
     The Era, in the October 5th, 1856 edition, Lowenthal wrote, “The progress chess has made in America is almost, if not quite, equal to that which it has achieved in England. This is more than might have been expected...in almost every large town there is a Chess Club, and many of these clubs are in communication and play games by correspondence.” 
     After Lowenthal left New Orleans he returned to Cincinnati where he was induced to settle. He opened a smoking and chess divan and was doing quite well when he received a letter from Charles Stanley in New York. That letter contained a letter from Staunton inviting him to attend the international tournament at London, in 1851. 
     Lowenthal traveled to London where he got eliminated in the first round when he lost 2-1 to England’s Elijah Williams. After the tournament he decided to remain in England where he made his living as a chess professional and journalist. His main reason for not returning to Cincinnati was embarrassment over his poor performance at London and his belief that he had somehow let down his friends in Cincinnati. 
     When Morphy arrived in England in 1858, Lowenthal, who did not like the idea that it was known that he had been beaten by a twelve year old in New Orleans, wasted no time in issuing a challenge which Morphy readily accepted. The winner was the first to score nine wins. Morphy won easily +9 -3 =2.
     Lowenthal never married, but devoted his life to the furtherance of chess. He was granted British citizenship in September of 1866 under the name John Lowenthal.
     In 1861 when the British Chess Association was formed Lowenthal was appointed managing director and thereafter his play was confined to casual play. He was described by the Westminster Chess Club Papers as being “amiable in character, even to weakness, ..he excited no personal enmities, although his administration...frequently provoked criticism (by) malevolent or stupid persons...” During his last days he was ill and lived in St. Leonards-on-Sea where he depended on charity. 

Friday, November 8, 2019

What’s Kasparov Up To These Days?

     There is no doubt in my mind that Garry Kasparov was one of the most exciting players in recent history and I was happy when he finally ousted the solid but boring, Karpov. 
      After Kasparov retired from chess in 2005 I never paid much attention to his activities. I knew that he had become a political activist in the Soviet Union, but not much more than that. 
     I was aware that shortly after retiring he was hit over the head with a chessboard in a politically motivated attack. Kasparov wasn’t injured when, after signing the board for a young man at an event in Moscow, he was hit with it and the assailant told him, "I admired you as a chess player, but you gave that up for politics." 
     And who could forget that in 2012 he was beaten and arrested outside the Moscow court house where the Pussy Riot trial was taking place, but beyond that I never followed his activities. 
     Kasparov has a long history of dabbling in politics dating back to the 1980s. Kasparov's grandfather was a staunch communist but Kasparov began to have doubts about the Soviet Union's political system at age 13 when he traveled abroad for the first time to Paris for a tournament. In 1981, at age 18 he read Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago, a copy of which he bought while abroad.
     Kasparov joined the Communist Party in 1984 and in 1987 was elected to the Central Committee of Komsomol. However, in 1990, he left the party and his family fled from Baku to Moscow on a chartered plane when pogroms against Armenians in Baku took place forcing thousands of ethnic Armenians to flee Azerbaijan. It was then that he became active in Soviet politics. 
     In the chess world, after he won the World Championship in 1985 Kasparov began opposing FIDE and in 1986 he created the Grandmasters Association (GMA), an organization to represent professional players and give them more say in FIDE's activities. 
     In 1993, under the auspices of another organization created by Kasparov called the Professional Chess Association (PCA), he played Nigel Short for the world championship outside FIDE's jurisdiction. As a result both were both kicked out of FIDE. 
     The 1995 match against Anand at the World Trade Center in New York City (Kasparov won the match +4 -1 =13) was the last World Championship to be held under the auspices of the PCA. The organization collapsed when one of its major backers withdrew its sponsorship. 
     Kasparov tried to organize another World Championship match, under another organization, the World Chess Association (WCA) with Linares organizer Luis Rentero. But, when Rentero admitted that the promised funds required for the match had never materialized, the WCA collapsed. This left Kasparov stranded until Brain Games headed by Raymond Keene stepped up. 
     Brain Games organized the World Championship match in 2000 between Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik. But then Brain Games later collapsed under controversial circumstances
     In an interview in 2007, Kasparov called the break with FIDE the worst mistake of his career because in the long run it hurt the game.
     In 2013, Kasparov announced his candidacy for FIDE president and in 2014, he lost the presidential election to incumbent Kirsan Ilyumzhinov by a vote of 110–61. Later, in 2015, the FIDE Ethics Commission found Kasparov and his partner guilty of violating its Code of Ethics and suspended them for two years from all FIDE functions and meetings. 
     Back to politics...in September 2013, Kasparov said in Time magazine that he considered the chess metaphors being thrown around during the world's response to the civil war in Syria to be trite and rejected what he called all the nonsense about Putin playing chess and while Obama was playing checkers.
     Kasparov claimed Putin did not have to outplay or out think anyone because he won by forfeit when President Obama, Prime Minister Cameron and the rest of the so-called leaders of the free world walked away from the table. 
     Kasparov said Russia was a dictatorship under Putin and Obama’s going to Russia was dead wrong, morally and politically. Kasparov spoke out several times about Putin's anti-gay laws and the proposed the 2014 Sochi Olympics be boycotted. He stated Russia's bid would allow Putin's cronies to embezzle hundreds of millions of dollars and lend prestige to Putin's authoritarian regime.
     Kasparov complained that Putin’s encroachment on the freedom of speech of Russia's citizens was largely being ignored by the international community. He also spoke out against the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea and stated that control of Crimea should be returned to Ukraine after the overthrow of Putin. 
     In October 2015, Kasparov published a book titled Winter Is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped. In the book, Kasparov likens Putin to Hitler and explains the need for the west to oppose Putin rather than appeasing him and postponing an eventual confrontation. 
     In the 2016 United States presidential election, Kasparov began meddling in U.S. politics when he described Donald Trump as "a celebrity showman with racist leanings and authoritarian tendencies" and criticized Trump for calling for closer ties with Putin. He was fair though. He also criticized the economic policies of Democratic primary candidate Bernie Sanders. 
     In 2017, he condemned the violence unleashed by the Spanish police against the independence referendum in Catalonia and criticized the Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy and accused him of betraying the European promise of peace. After the Catalan regional election he called on the European Union to intervene in the conflict to find a negotiated solution. 

For more information of Karpov’s current political machinations visit: 
Kasparov’s 2018 interview in the New Yorker 
Kasparov’s Website

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Emanuel Lasker, Philosopher

     Emanuel Lasker (1868-1941) was the world champion from 1894 to 1920 and in addition to playing and teaching chess, he taught mathematics and wrote three philosophy books. 
     Lasker did not keep regular hours and did not carry a watch, was rarely in bed before 3 a.m., ate when he was hungry and slept when he was tired. He was interested in everything, loved to argue and even argued with Albert Einstein about relativity. 
     The Sunday, May 16, 1926 edition of The Brooklyn Daily Eagle carried an article titled: World-Famous Champion Sees Possibilities of Applying Lessons of Ancient Game to Solution of Modern Political, Business and Social Problems. 
     For Lasker chess was not only a game but a type and symbol of human relationships. He saw chess as more than a game and believed businessmen, bankers, lawyers, rulers of nations and ambassadors of the world would be greatly helped by a study and knowledge of chess. 
     Lasker stated that if he ever got to the point financially where he could do what he pleased, he would found a School of Chess Strategy in Practical Problems with the purpose of showing how chess could benefit the social and business life of the world. 
     There are three main “departments”, as he called them, of chess: openings, problems and principles and these departments have counterparts in practical life. Wherever there is a contest or negotiation you have them. Of course, chess misses the element of chance, which enters into a large part of human relations. But, be believed the study of chess strategy would throw much light on human relations and would be of great help. 
     During the interview in the Long Island home of a friend, while meditatively smoking a cigar, Lasker talked about chess, mathematics, philosophy, literature and the ways of the world. 
     He said that what drew him to chess was that he was by nature a fighter and from the beginning he was interested in a fight and any contest or struggle had a fascination for him. He explained that chess is a contest in which the opponents start on even terms and where the fighting is all above board. 
     After thinking a minute, he added that there are, of course, other types of contests and games and cards belong to the type in which the play is not always above board. 
     Speaking of card games, some day he planned to make a study of poker and bridge to discover why Americans play poker so extensively and Germans play bridge so badly. "These are subjects," he said, "which should be studied...for bridge and chess...are not insignificant matters which take up leisure time and have no other use." 
     Lasker was asked if there were any truth in the belief that chess, because of the concentrated thinking it presumably requires, had ever been responsible for driving someone insane. He didn’t believe there had been a single instance in the whole history of chess—and he had made it his business to become acquainted with the lives of all the great chess players—of any one, amateur or professional, losing his mind by reason of playing the game. He said, "There are numerous causes that may drive a man to insanity, but they are hardly mental. If one studies too deeply on mystical matters, derangement of mind may occur, but he didn’t believe thinking on rational matters could hurt the mind. 
     As for teaching chess, he said prodigies are not youngsters with a peculiar mind particularly fitted to deal with chess problems. He said, "Take any boy fairly intelligent and fairly healthy and you can make a chess prodigy of him—or any other sort of prodigy. If you can...rivet his mind on any field—chess or Latin, or memorizing the Bible or athletics—you will make him proficient in that field.” 
     He didn’t recommend it though because he believed a young person should be educated in a large number of fields rather than highly trained in just one. He stated, "If a boy plays chess constantly there will come a time when he will be what we call a prodigy...just as by listening to his mother tongue he finds himself suddenly able to speak it. Such an accomplishment is a function of mental growth, which is...greatest in the years of youth...The danger of a boy's concentrating on chess is that it consumes so much of his attention...as to leave other interests stunted.” 
     Of all the great masters whom Lasker encountered he considered Capablanca his most strongest opponent. He said, "If you ask me wherein his superiority consists, I can only say that the reasons why I consider him superior may be summed up in the words—the power of his moves and the objectivity of his thinking. If, then, you ask me to go behind that, I am not certain I can do so without going into elaborate details, which would mean the replaying of a large number of games.” 
     "He is industrious, he applies himself, he studies the game and in every case knows what he is doing. But when I say power of his moves I do not mean anything vague or theoretical. The power is there.” 
     For anybody that’s interested in reading it, Lasker’s 97-page book, Struggle, can be downloaded in pdf format HERE. From the Preface…This book, though it deals with laws governing struggles in general, is the outcome of reflections upon the meaning of the approved principles of the struggle on even terms between two brains called chess... 

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

The Mysterious Luella Mackenzie

     I wish I knew more about Mrs. Luella Mackenzie. She was born in Honey Well, Missouri...at least that’s according to a January, 1908 article in the American Chess Bulletin. 
     You will not find such a place on the map, but there is a Hunnewell located in NE Missouri. Today Hunnewell, which is named for Boston financier and railroad promoter H. H. Hunnewell, has an estimated population of 177. The American Chess Bulletin simply had the town’s name wrong. 
     Find A Grave says she was born Luella Wood on April 2, 1868 in Hunnewell, Missouri and passed away at the age of 76 on November 25, 1944 in Moulton, Iowa where she is buried in Oakland Cemetery. Note that the headstone spells her name “Mackinzie” while all other sources spell it “Mackenzie.” 

     In 1873, at the age of 5, she arrived in Moulton which is located in southern Iowa near the Missouri border and is much bigger than Hunnewell; it has an estimated population of 501. 
     As far as I could determine neither place was ever a hotbed of chess activity, so Mrs. Mackenzie played correspondence chess. 
     Few people are aware that Iowa has quite a chess history. Louis Paulsen was born in Nassengrund, Germany January 15, 1833 and died of diabetes on August 18, 1891. Paulsen lived on a farm and established a distillery and a tobacco business near Dubuque, Iowa along with his brother Ernest and sister Amalie from 1854 until 1861 when he migrated to England.
     One of the best problem magazines of the day was the Dubuque Chess Journal which was also known as Brownson's Chess Journal. It was published by an African-American named A. O. Brownson, Jr. from July 1869 until June 1892. You can download some of them at Chess Archaeology HERE
     Mrs. Mackenzie became interested in chess at the ripe old age of 32 in 1900 and joined the Iowa State Chess Association in 1905. She began taking part in correspondence tournaments and in the annual correspondence tournament she won the State championship without the loss of a single game. And that, along with a couple of games, is all that’s known about Mrs. Mackenzie. 
     Below is one of her games from the Iowa Correspondence Championship of 1906 that’s an exciting affair. Her opponent was H. Dickinson from Shellsburg which is located a short distance west of Cedar Rapids. 
     In October of 1910, a correspondence match of 25 boards, two games each, was played between Iowa and the Greater New York League. Iowa won by a score of 26-22, the two players on board six did not play their games for some reason. Dickinson played board 24 and lost both of his games to William P. Hickok. 
     Anybody familiar with the history of postal chess in the United States, especially the Correspondence Chess League of America, will be familiar with the name William P. Hickok of Mount Vernon, New York. He was secretary of the CCLA and of the older Greater New York League and it was he who was largely instrumental in amalgamating the CCLA with the National Association, the Correspondence Chess Bureau and the Canadian Branch of the Amateur League.
     Mrs. Mackenzie played board 25 and scored a win and a draw against her opponent, R. Bellville of Brooklyn. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Eat Like Carlsen

     Magnus Carlsen (November 30, 1990) showed an aptitude for intellectual challenges at a young age: at the age of two he could solve 50-piece jigsaw puzzles; at four, he enjoyed assembling Lego sets with instructions intended for children aged 10–14. 
     His father, an enthusiastic amateur chess player, taught him to play chess at the age of 5 although he initially showed little interest in the game. He has three sisters and in 2010 he stated that one of the things that first motivated him to take up chess seriously was the desire to beat his elder sister at the game.
     Carlsen has an exceptional memory...he was able to recall the areas, population numbers, flags and capitals of all the countries in the world by the age of five. Later, Carlsen had memorized the areas, population numbers, coat-of-arms and administrative centers of virtually all Norwegian municipalities. 
     The first chess book Carlsen read was a booklet named Find the Plan by Bent Larsen and his first book on openings was Eduard Gufeld's The Complete Dragon. According to Edward Winter, the Find the Plan pamphlet was one of four republished in English as Larsen's Good Move Guide which is now out of print. 
     Carlsen developed his early chess skills by playing by himself for hours on end—moving the pieces around, searching for combinations and replaying games and positions shown to him by his father. 
     Carlsen participated in his first tournament, the youngest division of the 1999 Norwegian Championship, at the age of 8 years and 7 months, and scored 6.5-4.5. 
     All that’s interesting, but what does he eat? Walk, swim and skip breakfast, eat chocolate, sip mineral water etc. are just some of the things Grandmasters do both before and during their games. 
     In 2008 an Argentine nutritionist, Roberto Baglione of the National Sport Higher Performance Center in Buenos Aires did an extensive survey on the dietary and exercise regimens of the world’s top players. He found that about one third of the players skipped breakfast which they shouldn’t be doing because breakfast has a direct effect on the glucose concentration in the brain and liver. 

The Science Behind Breakfast-Why breakfast is the most important meal of the day 
Midday Energy Boosters 

     Almost 96 percent said they ate or drank something during games and for snacks chocolate beat out fruit nearly four to one while about one in ten snacked on cereal bars. 
How not to be a Grandmaster
     It turned out that nearly 90 percent of the GMs were not sedentary couch potatoes; they engaged in physical activity at least three times a week, with swimming edging out jogging and working out in the gym by a small margin.
     According to a report by the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN) chess requires intense concentration and hours of sitting and training their bodies for peak performance is key to staying on top of the rigorous mental demands of the game. 
    In his report Robert Sapolsky, Stanford professor of neurology and neurosurgery, discovered that during a major tournament chess players can burn up to 6,000 calories per day just from the physiological effects of stress and thinking and GMs sustain elevated blood pressure for hours in the range found in competitive marathon runners! Blood Pressure for Runners at UK Sports Chat 
     Fabiano Caruana cuts out sugar and drinking, sometimes for months, before a competition in order to detox. He says he went off sugar because he heard Magnus Carlsen did it to keep his energy levels stable during their 2018 match. And, alcohol messes up your sleep. To increase his stamina Caruana runs, plays basketball and swims, often all in one day. It also helps relieve stress. 
     Magnus Carlsen drinks chocolate milk and chews gum. He used to drink orange juice and water during games, but noticed that the sugar made him crash. As a result, at the suggestion of an Olympic performance specialist, he switched to a mixture of chocolate milk and regular milk, which provides nutrients like protein and calcium that help him sustain his energy levels longer.
     Carlsen also travels with a personal chef. Just for informational purposes, in the U.S. a personal chef, what they do and what they cost can be found HERE
     Carlsen’s chef helps design his meals and before tournaments and he has been tying to get Carlsen to eat pasta for reserve energy. It’s a trick runners use the night before a race to increase their stores of glycogen, which is energy stored in muscles. 
     During games, Carlsen chews gum to stay alert and energized. Actually, studies suggest that chewing on gum can improve memory, concentration and reaction times, especially when completing a long task. 

     How does Carlsen’s diet compare to a pro football player? Professional football player Tom Brady says his strict health and wellness regime has been key to his longevity and success. 
     The average NFL career for a quarterback is about three years and 12 years for a Pro-Bowl nominated player. At 42 years old with a 20 year career, Brady is one of the oldest players in the league. 
     Brady typically starts game day at 6 am and the first thing he does is load up on electrolytes and nutrients. He drinks 20 ounces of water with electrolytes, then drinks his first shake, a high-fat, high-protein smoothie that has bananas, blueberries, nuts, seeds and plant-based protein. 
     He then lets his food digest for about two hours before he starts his daily 40-minute workout using only resistance bands. Mid-way through his workout, Brady will stop to drink more water with electrolytes...he aims to drink at least one-half of his body weight in ounces of water daily. 
     At around 11:00 a.m, Brady wraps up his workout and immediately has his next shake, a recovery drink made from a scoop of plant-based protein powder and almond milk. Then around noon he has lunch, which consists of 80 percent vegetables, because vegetables are high in nutrients, fiber and enzymes. The other 20 percent of the meal consists of animal-based protein, like fish. Brady doesn’t eat that much meat, especially before a game. 
     For the rest of the day, Brady will snack on things like almonds, cashews and energy squares from his company TB12 Sports, which are made with super-foods like cacao and goji berries. He’ll also have two to three more protein shakes. 
     On game-day, dinner is packed with plant-based foods. Sometimes he will also have a steaming cup of bone broth. Following the game, Brady always has a recovery shake. As for supplements, Brady says he always takes a multivitamin because no one’s diet is “perfect” and you never know what you may have missed. 
     Here’s one of Carlsen’s games from the youngest kid’s section of the 1999 Norwegian Championship. 

Monday, November 4, 2019

1951 Marshall Chess Club Championship

     The Marshall Chess Club is the second oldest chess club in the United States; the Mechanics Institute Chess Club in San Francisco, founded in 1854, is the oldest. The Marshall was founded in 1915 by Frank Marshall and was incorporated in 1922. Since 1931 it has been located at 23 West 10th Street in New York City. 
     The club has been the venue for some famous encounters. In 1956 it was where 13-year-old Bobby Fischer won his “Game of the Century” against Donald Byrne and in 1965 it was where Fischer played his games by teletype in the Capablanca Memorial Tournament that was held in Havana. Alekhine visited there and it’s where Capablanca gave his last exhibition. 
     Club membership has been a Who’s Who of U.S. players. Members have included Maurice Ashley, Sidney Bernstein, Fabiano Caruana, Arthur Dake, Roman Dzindzichashvili, Jaan Ehlvest, Larry Evans, John Federowicz, Bobby Fischer, Reuben Fine, Milton Hanauer, Gata Kamsky, Stanley Kubrick, Sal Matera, Hikaru Nakamura, Fred Reinfeld, Michael Rohde Herbert Seidman, Albert Simonson, Andrew Soltis, Howard Stern, Erling Tholfsen, Joshua Waitzkin and Raymond Weinstein, just to name a few. 
     The featured game is between Dr. Eliot Hearst who at the time was rated 2323 and Carl Pilnick, rated 2322 at the time. 
     The site Blindfold Chess has an excellent biography of Dr. Hearst HERE. I met Hearst once in the 1960s and can tell you that he was very friendly and seemed like a genuinely nice guy. The description of him give in the bio seems right on point. 
     His opponent was Carl Pilnick (December 24, 1923 - March 7, 2013) whose obituary can be read HERE

Final Standings: 
Hearst was undefeated and drew with Collins, Hill, Howard, Santasiere, Dunst, Mednis, and Sibbert. 

1) Eliot Hearst 12.5-3.5 
2) James T. Sherwin 11.0-5.5 
3-4) John W. Collins and Jeremiah F. Donovan 10.5-5.5 
5) Bernard Hill 10.0-6.0 
6-7) Franklin S. Howard and Anthony E. Santasiere 6.5-6.5 
8) Karl Burger 9.0-7.0 
9) Carl Pilnick 8.5-7.5 
10-13) Paul Brandts, Theodore Dunst, Philip LeCornu and Edmar Mednis 7.5-8.5
14) Harry Fajans 6.0-10.0 
15) John T. Westbrock 5.5-10.5 
16) Donald Sibbett 3.5-12.5 
17) Murray Burn 0.0-16.0 

     There doesn’t seem to be any information available on the last place finisher, Murray Burn, except that his USCF rating on the December 1950 list was 1986. Likewise, on the December 1950 rating list Donald Sibbett was also a Class A player with a rating of 1973. 

     Sibbett (June 20, 1921 – January 24, 2007) was a well known name among correspondence players. Besides chess his hobbies included duplicate bridge and bowling. He was a long time, nearly 50 years, player in the CCLA; his best showing was a third place finish in CCLA's 51st Grand National tournament. 
     I stumbled upon a brief bio of Sibbett on a site where those who had served on a particular U.S. Navy ship discussed some of their memories. He stated that in the fall of 1946, he entered Columbia grad school where he spent five years as a physical chemist; during that time he was also served in the U.S. Navy Reserves with the rank of Lieutenant (Junior Grade). There followed 5 years at Mobil Oil inbNew Jersey, two years at Mellon Institute in Pittsburgh, two years at W. R. Grace (Baltimore), 11 years at Aerojet and Space General in Southern California and 15 years running a lab for Geomet in California and Maryland.
     He also added that he was suffering from a kidney disorder (focal segmental glomerulosclerosis) and incipient bladder cancer, but both were under control.  Sibbett remained active until the very end when health issues compelled him to give up his correspondence chess activities.