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Friday, December 17, 2010

Ordinary Master Games

One problem with published games appearing in books and magazine is that they are usually well played or interesting for some particular reason. But, how do masters really play? I mean in games that are played in the normal course of a tournament and never get to see the light of day? This game was played in Lone Pine, 1976. First place in that event was taken by Tigran Petrosian ahead of Smyslov, Browne, Christiansen, Rogoff, Forintos, Panno, Najdorf, Miles and Quinteros, all of whom tied for second. This game was played by Kim Commons who scored +3 -2 =2 to finish in a group 17-23. Also included in that group was Pal Benko. His opponent finished +2 -4 =1 and was in a group finishing 42-47. There were 57 players but 3 withdrew early in the event.

Kim Commons of California was one of the most promising players in the US in the 1970’s and was good enough to be invited to participate in the US Championship. He gave up chess because he desired to, as he put it, “become a Grandmaster in real estate.” Apparently he succeeded because today he is a real estate broker in California. In the United States, real estate brokers and their salespersons assist sellers in marketing their property and selling it for the highest possible price under the best terms.

Boris Baczynskyj (1945-2008) was a Philadelphia chess legend and popular coach. Baczynskyj was known as a very aggressive player. He was Ukrainian by nationality, born in Vienna and raised in Philadelphia. Before he became a full time chess coach, he worked as a stringer for Associated Press in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge regime. Among his students was Philadelphia 76ers, pro-basketball team, owner Pat Croce.

This game, played in the 3rd round, is one I just picked at random. Before giving up chess Commons attained the IM title and as of 2004 was rated 2439. Baczynskyj, had a USCF rating 2225; his FIDE rating as of 2005 was 2222. By today’s standards, Commons was very close to GM strength and what this game shows is that there exists a large gap between titled players and ordinary masters. As we see in this game, Commons easily defeated his mater opponent in this “average” tournament game.

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