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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Pontificating on Miscellaneous Stuff

Timing out on Chesshood:
  



   Chesshood has introduced a novel idea:
In order to keep the site fun and clean, a new feature has been installed: Any members who do not log on the site for a period of 15 days (players on vacation excluded of course) will receive an automated private message and email, 24 hours after that if no log on has been recorded for that player, the account will automatically be deleted. That will also apply to members timing out more than 7 games with or without logins recorded.

      There needs to be some repercussions when a player forfeits on time in a lot of games. Some sites don’t seem to do anything while on Lechenicher SchachServer you get put on probation and suspended for a certain number of days, but your account is never deleted. I used to play on Chessworld and I don’t think you got suspended or anything but, like LSS and probably other sites, your name remained on the rolls. Some players have not been active on these sites for years. It’s wrong to keep a player on the rating list when his last login was 3 or 4 years ago. I think Chesshood has the right idea of deleting accounts for inactive players.

Is Chess Getting Played Out?

     Some people think that at the top level chess pretty well worked out and its possibilities exhausted with draws plaguing the elite GM level. And, as I mentioned in a previous post, chess engines are making winning correspondence games harder and harder.

      I saw a game in Shirov’s Fire on Board the other day where he wrote that he discovered a move in home analysis on, if memory serves, move 32 or 33. Bobby Fischer believed traditional chess is played out…finished. When Capa said the same thing, if you remember, about the only opening they ever played was the Queen’s Gambit Declined, or some such and it was getting harder to find any new ideas. But, then along came the K-Indian, for example, which was at first believed to be bad, but as we all know it wasn’t. Maybe somebody will discover 1.h3 has merits. Who knows?
      Chess has a tremendous number of moves, so I am not sure how it can be played out. Just like yesteryear, the elite GMs may have to start playing openings heretofore considered unplayable and perhaps discover they aren’t! There is always a new generation moving into the top 50 players at an ever-younger age who, hopefully, will be the new ultra-hypermoderns and opening theoreticians of their day and they will discover resources in what are today considered ‘unplayable’ openings.
      In any case, to me it does not matter what happens because until I gain several hundred rating points, chess is still a mystery.
Reprehensible Conduct

      Correspondence opponents who refuse to move in lost positions (sometimes I have noticed they have logged in and moved in other games), Internet opponents who abandon games, badger opponents, make cheating accusations, call their opponents names, swear, you name it...they remind me of people who write crude stuff on toilet walls.
      According to an Associated Press report of several years ago the fast-paced, high-tech existence has taken a toll on manners in society. From road rage to high decibel cell-phone conversations, people behaving badly has become the hallmark of the world.
      Nearly 70 percent questioned in an Associated Press poll said people are ruder than they were 20 or 30 years ago although more city dwellers report bad manners, 74 percent, than do people in rural areas, 67 percent. The generation that came of age in the 1960s and 1970s are now parents who don’t stress the importance of manners.
      We live in a world of sulking athletes and boorish celebrities, etc. and the media glorifies their crude behavior. Nowadays many people have little respect for authority and always want blame somebody else because whatever happens, it’s always somebody else’s fault. So why would one think chessplayers would be any different?      

Gideon Barcza


Barcza (August 21, 1911 in Kisujszallas, Hungary– February 27, 1986 in Budapest) had a Ph.D. in mathematics and was a professor of mathematics, Grandmaster and Correspondence International Master.

1940
third place behind Euwe and Vidmar at Maróczy Jubilee in Budapest.
1942
sixth place at the first European Championship in Munich
1947 helped design the first "chess stamp," one of a set of five issued to commemorate the 1947 Balkan Games in Bulgaria.
1948
second place in Karlovy Vary behind Jan Foltys tied for second/third place in Venice; the event was won by Najdorf
1950
tied for second/fourth place in Salzbrunn. won by Keres
1951 Chessmetrics has Barcza rated #16 in the world in 1951 with a rating of 2683. His best individual performance was Leningrad 1967, with a performance rating of 2710.
1952
fifteenth place in Saltsjöbaden Interzonal
1957
won San Benedetto del Tronto.
1961
third place in Vienna.
1962
tied for third/sixth place in Moscow tied for fourteenth/fifteenth place in Stockholm Interzonal

      Barcza played for Hungary in seven Chess Olympiads (1952, 1954, 1956, 1958, 1960, 1962, and 1968). He won the Gold medal in 1954 as best board 3. He won a Silver medal in 1956 as board 2. He won a Bronze medal in 1968 as first reserve.
      He won the Hungarian Championship eight times (1942, 1943, 1947, 1950, 1951, 1955, 1957, and 1958).
      Barcza is remembered for the opening 1.Nf3 d5 2.g3, known as the Barcza System. British writer Harry Golombek wrote of Barcza, "[he] is a most versatile player in the openings. He plays g2–g3 sometimes on the first, sometimes on the second, sometimes on the third, and sometimes not until the fourth move."
      He was editor of the chess magazine Magyar Sakkelet from 1951 to 1986 and contributed to Magyar Sakktortenet 3.
      In 2009 the Second Barcza Memorial was held which included a very strong field: GMs Zoltan Almasi, Ivan Sokolov, Evengy Postny, Victor Mikhalevsky, Eduard Rozentalis, Geetha Gopal, Oleg Romanishin and IMs Marcos Llanea, Peter Prohaszka, David Guerra and Robert Ris, but the event was canceled after the first round when it was discovered the organizer did not have the money to pay either the players or the Ramada Resort Hotel where the players were staying and, also, the tournament venue.


      Barcza is buried at the Kerepesi cemetery in Budapest.
 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

New LSS “World Champion”

      Lechenicher SchachServer has announced the new 2011 LSS World Champion is Sinisa Loinjak of Croatia who has won it for the second time, the first being in 2009. 
      Looking at the crosstable the first thing I noticed was that out of 15 players, three withdrew and did not finish the tournament. Not counting the games of those three players and the two games remaining (which have no bearing on the standings), 142 games were played. Total decisive games…11, or less than 8 percent!! Loinjack accounted for 4 of those wins and the games among the top five finishers were all drawn.
      Engines are, of course responsible for this situation. I was reading a message board the other day and one guy was asking about the best computer and software to play chess…his budget? $12,000.
      If you want to play correspondence chess these days your choices are pretty much limited to: 1) anonymous opponents with meaningless ratings who are using an engine or 2) opponents whose names you do know, have meaningless ratings and who are using an engine. I prefer the latter and I don’t see why I should pay to enter a tournament under these circumstances, so I use a free site that allows engine use…LSS.
      In any case it seems that chess engines are not optimized for correspondence play. Of course, if you expect to get a high rating in modern CC play, you have to start at a high rating because it is extremely difficult to defeat another engine unless you are keenly aware of how engines work.
      My understanding is engines prune a lot of moves out of the search tree and sometimes they are good moves but that only would become apparent at deeper search depths.
      Under normal circumstances as long as a move does not lose it’s good enough, but for these really highly rated CC players that’s not enough. One problem is that often times an engine move shows an evaluation score and because it has pruned some moves, it doesn’t make any difference whether it searches 2 hours or 2 days, it’s not going to change its evaluation.
       In CC these is no such thing as two moves with an equal evaluation score; one move simply must be preferred over another. The result is that if you just let an engine run and run then play its recommendation, guys like Loinjack will beat you. The thing is they somehow manage to get positions engines don’t understand and they have the resources and the patience to keep searching.
       One high level CC player noted that you must use tablebases and gave one example where his opponent’s mistake was using the wrong engine for the relevant position. He then went on to explain how, using three engines, he basically strung together a composite of their moves. He added that, ideally, you would want to examine at least ten different alternatives and each one needs to be evaluated thoroughly.
       Capablanca complained about the draw death of chess back in his day and proposed a variant in the 1920's. He believed chess would be exhausted in the near future, that games between masters would always end in draws. Fischer made the same claim. He believed the chess openings have been analyzed to the point that games are decided by opening preparation alone and that engines and databases also contributed to the death of chess.  Indeed opening research wins games, both in OTB GM play and top level CC play.

      Look at the following table:
first 15 world CC championships
white wins 37%, black wins 24% draws = 39%
1996-2007 championships
white wins 27%, black won 12% draws = 61%
2008-present championships
average percentage of draws exceeds 80 percent.

      Upsets. In the first 15 world CC championships, upsets happened in about 10 percent of the games. Between 1996 and 2007 the percentage was down to 4% and since then it’s 1%.
      Playing on LSS even at my level shows how difficult it is to win: Wins: 23.7% Losses: 23.0% Draws: 53.3% Compare these to a Senior IM I played a while back: Wins: 20.5% Losses: 19.9% Draws: 59.6%
      Now, compare these to Loinjak: Wins: 51.1% Losses: 00.0% Draws: 48.9% He clearly knows something about using chess engines I (and a lot of others) don’t!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Hotness and Mate-O-Meter

      I have known from the beginning that Fritz 12 has a panel showing a “Hotness meter and a Mate-O-Meter” but have never paid any attention to it. Recently, out of curiosity, I decided to investigate. A complete explanation by Fritz Guru Steve Lopez can be found on Youtube HERE.
      These two meters are supposed to help you “develop a sense for recognizing critical game positions” by alerting you to sharp tactical situations or major positional changes. These gauges oscillate depending on the sharpness and mating possibilities of the position. The gauges measure the potential that something important is about to happen.
      The Mate-O-Meter tells you how much danger the Kings are in and the Hotness meter rises when the position enters a sharp tactical phase or, in some cases, it measures changes in positional features like material exchanges, the win of material or strong or weak positional features like pawn positions or piece mobility. There’s also a small light that glows red when the engine is in the process of making evaluations and when the bulb goes out, the engine has completed the evaluation.
      The exact measurements aren’t so important as the movement of the meters. If you see the needles rising there are tactical opportunities, positional motifs or mate threats on the horizon. Checks and captures move the needle up. If the needles are falling the position is becoming more stable.
       I was curious to see how this might work in one of my own games so played through the game below which was played many years ago against a veteran USCF Expert. I resigned the game because I saw ghosts and somehow thought I was completely busted. Immediately after the game, a visiting master from Chicago who had been watching the game, pointed out things weren’t as bad as I thought and I could have played on. It’s been 51 years since I played this game and I’m still upset about having resigned too soon!
      The Mate-O-Meter never moved until I played 17…Qc7 threatening a mate in one and after that it dropped back to about 1.0 and stayed there. As for the Hot meter, starting with my 11…d5?!, it bounced around between 3.5 to 8.2 for the rest of the game. I guess what it was telling me was that the position was complicated, but I already knew that. The meters are fun to watch, but personally, I didn’t find them to be much help.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I Need Another Hobby


      When I was a kid there was one summer when I used my dad’s workshop to make bird houses which I then sold to old ladies all over the neighborhood.  Woodworking looks like a lot of fun and I never miss watching Norm on the New Yankee Workshop.
      What I would like to do is combine woodworking with chess and make a chess set.  I found a few sites that tell you how to do it but I really didn’t like any of the designs.  If I made a set it would have to be a Staunton-like design and after considerable web surfing , I  did find this set and I think the knights could be modified somewhat:
 
 
 
      I’d really like to give this a go but there are a couple of snags.  One is time.  I have a ton of work to do outside this summer because my yard has a moss infestation and it all has to be dug up by hand and the lawn reseeded.  Then the garden has to be put in and some general house repairs need to be made.
      I would also have to buy a couple of thousand dollars worth of woodworking equipment and convince the wife to park her car outside because the garage is the only place we have to set up a workshop. Wood!  Has anybody priced wood lately?!  All this brings me back to reality and I’ll have to be satisfied with what one of my book review Blog readers informed was my "fake" Zagreb set, but he did provide THIS link to an intersting site.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Reshevsky-Fischer Connection

      After Fischer returned to chess in 1970 to play in the USSR vs. the Rest of the World tournament in Belgrade Reshevsky was his teammate and when Reshevsky’s game against Smyslov had been adjourned Fischer sat down with Reshevsky to analyze the position. This was the first time in years that Fischer had had a friendly relationship with Reshevsky, the man whom Fischer had once proclaimed to be one of the ten greatest players in history.
      Known in his youth as “Shmulik der vunderkind,” Reshevsky had developed a relationship with Rabbi Yoseph Yitzchak Schneersohn a Chabad-Lubavitch Rebbe. He once asked for a blessing from the Rebbe, who agreed on the condition that Reshevsky study Torah daily which Reshevsky dutifully did for the rest of his life. In the years before his marriage, Reshevsky had developed a relationship with Rabbi Schneersohn and this bond was greatly strengthened during the years following his marriage when Reshevsky lived in Crown Heights, Brooklyn which was the same neighborhood where Rabbi Schneersohn lived the last ten years of his life.
      In 1982, at age 70, when Reshevsky was considering retiring from professional chess he approached Rabbi Schneersohn and asked for advice. According to Rabbi Dovid Zaklikowski, Rabbi Schneersohn told Reshevsky that playing chess was his “way of fulfilling the commandment of sanctifying God’s name” and suggested that he should not yet retire.
      In 1984, at 72 years old, Reshevsky tied for first place at the Reykjavik Open. After his victory, Reshevsky received a congratulatory letter from the Rebbe, which ended:

“P.S. The following lines may appear strange, but I consider it my duty not to miss the opportunity to bring it to your attention. You are surely familiar with the life story of Bobby Fischer, of whom nothing has been heard in quite some time. Unfortunately, he did not appear to have the proper Jewish education, which is probably the reason for his being so alienated from the Jewish way of life or the Jewish people. However, being a Jew, he should be helped by whomever possible. I am writing to you about this since you are probably better informed about him than many other persons, and perhaps you may find some way in which he could be brought back to the Jewish fold, either through your personal efforts, or in some other way.”

      When Reshevsky received the letter, he was pleased that the Rebbe had chosen him for a special task despite the difficulty it entailed. Fischer was a paranoid recluse and at time was living in Los Angeles. Not long after receiving the letter Reshevsky was in Los Angeles for a tournament and the first thing he did upon arrival was phone Fischer and related the Rebbe's request. It must have been something of a surprise when Fischer, who usually did not receive visitors, immediately agreed to see Reshevsky. Their meeting lasted three hours, during which Fischer asked many serious questions about Judaism. According to Nenad Nesh Stankovic, Fischer’s personal assistant in Yugoslavia during his match with Spassky and author of The Greatest Secrets of Bobby Fischer, Fischer believed in some sort of cosmic higher  power, but was not a religious man and so is likely his questions were of an intellectual nature.
      Fischer's bizarre anti-Semitic rants were all the more weird because Fischer was Jewish by birth. Fischer started railing against the Jews as a young man and for whatever reason, he was filled with pure, unadulterated hatred for the Jews. What makes that odd is he was raised by a Jewish mother and was surrounded by Jews in Brooklyn as well as having played chess with many Jews. This makes it even odder that he would so readily agree to meet with Reshevsky.
      As far as I know, the only comment that Reshevsky ever made concerning his discussions with Fischer was, “He has his views. I have mine.” Reshevsky could be a booger at the chess board, but he had his priorities in life straight.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

RIP Robert Byrne


 
I was saddened to hear that GM Byrne, 84, passed away at his home in Ossining, NY, Friday.  I met Byrne at the 1974 US Championship and was pleased to find him a most affable person.  He was a fixture in US chess for many, many years; he will be missed.  Byrne’s NewYork Time Obituary

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Booby Fischer Material


I recently came across a site called Orwell Today that has lots of material from Fischer’s second match with Spassky through his time in Iceland:  radio interviews, rants, articles etc. for anybody who wants to go back and visit those times.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Speaking of prize money...

      When Bobby Fischer won the world championship in 1972 his prize money was $250,000. That doesn’t sound like much, but in 2013 dollars it amounts to about 1.3 million. Fischer’s $250k exceeded the total prizes for all previous title matches held since 1886. By contrast, Spassky’s prize money for winning the world championship just three years earlier amounted to $1400…not quite $9000 in today’s dollars. Curiously, in 1889 when Steinitz and Chigorin met for the world championship, Steinitz pocketed the equivalent of $50,000.
       The First American Congress, held in 1857 had the equivalent of about $7200. Morphy won but turned down the money. Instead, he accepted a silver pitcher, four goblets, and a silver tray. Prior to the First American Chess Congress, Charles Stanley was considered the U. S. Champion but was near penniless because of his drinking problem. After the the tournament Morphy played a casual match against Stanley at odds of Pawn and move and won easily: +4 -1 =0. Morphy gave his prize money to Stanley. Actually he gave it to Stanley’s wife because he feared Stanley would have drunk it all up.
      The winner of the Tarrasch-Mieses match in 1916 got a half-pound of butter. No doubt this was because the war was on and butter was a real treat. In Berlin a tournament winner received given a keg of schmaltz herring.

      At a rapid tournament in Breslau in 1925, part of the first prize was enough silk to make six shirts. Nimzovich, taking it for granted that he would win, found out everything he could about the silk even before the tournament began. As it happened, however, Mieses defeated him in the first round and went on to win the tournament and the silk.
      In 1889 Steinitz defended his title against Mikhail Chigorin which was played in Havana the total purse for the players was only $1,150 ($29,000 today), the smallest prize fund of any world championship match.
      When I began tournament play in weekenders in the 1960’s most class players played for a cheap trophy or a book. First prize usually ranged from $50-100 based with a typical entry fee of around $10. In today’s dollars the EF would have amounted to $60-70 and that $50 prize amounted to about $360 today. I can remember playing in one tournament in downtown Cleveland Ohio and meeting a friend in the lobby right after he had checked in and he was upset at the hotel rate at the Holiday Inn…$33 a night or about $192 today!   
      Probably the best story about prize money was Reshevsky’s about how one time he won a tournament (the Western Open in the 1930s?) and his ‘prize’ was a few kind words! 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Grandmaster Earnings


  
The average pro chess player makes near nothing. World Champions and super-GMs  make decent livings but compared to pros in other sports, their earnings amount to almost nothing.  From time to time you hear stories about IMs and how broke they are and how they have to beg for money to go to tournaments.  Here is an interesting article from the October, 2005 Cleveland Scene magazine describing life for one IM…Read article

WGM Pogonina recently did an article estimating the prize money income for top GMs in the world today.  Read article  Note that her list does not include all prize money or other chess related income.
 
#1 Viswanathan Anand, India: $2,000,000
#2 Boris Gelfand, Israel: $1,100,000
#3 Magnus Carlsen, Norway: $480,000
#4 Levon Aronian, Armenia: $330,000
#5 Sergey Karjakin, Russia: $300,000
#6 Fabiano Caruana, Italy:  $290,000
#7 Hikaru Nakamura, USA:  $275,000
#8 Vladimir Kramnik, Russia:  $250,000
#9 Alexander Grischuk, Russia:  $185,000
#10 Dmitry Andreikin, Russia : $150,000


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Endgames


             In order to improve your game, you must study the endgame before everything else. For whereas the endings can be studied and mastered by themselves, the middle game and end game must be studied in relation to the end game. - Jose Capablanca

In my own experience, the main benefits are often realized when the endgames you have studied never make it onto the board. Endgames often arise in variations, and it's important to develop a good 'feel' for which ones are likely to pose practical problems for the opponent. Likewise, the confidence to simplify into an inferior but tenable endgame safe in the knowledge that you know how to handle it is invaluable. - Luke McShane

      Good advice, but few follow it.  Most average players think they should wait until they are 1800, or 2000, or some other elevated rating before they tackle endgame study, but that approach is, according to Capa, wrong. 
      Endgames are boring…leftovers! For most players it is more fun to study openings and tactics. The merit of studying openings is often the result of unscrupulous authors who sell the idea that if you play a certain opening, you will win more games.  Of course what usually happens is once your opening knowledge runs out (sometimes at move 1) then you will play to your rating.
      Tactics study is the in thing now because most games, especially between amateurs, are decided by tactics.  Unfortunately a major shortcoming with this is that you usually know beforehand that there is a tactical solution and sometimes, even what the end result is supposed to be…win of material, mate, etc. Other that CJS Purdy I am not aware of any writer that emphasizes the points that 1) most positions will not have a sound combination available and 2) what the telltale signs that there may be a combination hiding in a position. Of course, tactics are aesthetically pleasing and that makes them fun.
      Knowledge of the endgame can score points because if you have a good middlegame position and there are no sound tactical solutions or promising plans, reaching a favorable ending may be the best solution.  This is especially true if you have a decent understanding of endings because most lower rated players don’t and like many things in life, just a little more knowledge than your peers is often all you need for success.
      Another benefit of endgame study is that it helps your calculating ability and endings often involve things that are sometimes regarded as ‘minor details’ in the middlegame…weak squares, tempo, and such like, but you can really appreciate them in the ending.
      One of the best endgame authors is Dvoretsky but his encyclopedic works are aimed at masters and above. Books are good, but there also exists plenty of other ways to study endings.  Chessvideos for example.   Also, good endgame DVDs are available.  You should know basic checkmates, King and single pawn endings, for example. Silman’s Complete Endgame Course is a good place to start.
       Watching videos and playing endings with the help of an engine are easy and fun, but don’t require much effort and it’s easy to just passively watch or mindlessly play through an ending without giving much thought to the whole process. When playing through endings with an engine it has been recommended that you should first let the engine play the side that is to win or draw then switch sides. This is a good method because it allows you to be interactive and try out different ideas.

Here are some helpful sites on endings:

Shredder endgame database -  you can setup any position with 6 men or less to get the result for that position.  The results for all legal moves are shown and you can step forward and backward through the analysis.

Chessending is a site with 400 endgames for study.  Even though it has not been updated for several years, it still is a good place to find instructive endings. Editor Brian G. E. Gosling summarizes endings as follows:

Basic Endings. These are theoretical positions where the correct result with optimum play by both sides is known.
Practical Endings. These occur in over-the-board play where usually more pawns are present. Endgame strategy is very different from the middlegame and has its own set of rules and exceptions.
Endgame Studies. These are positions which have been composed and will contain elements of one or both of the above types of endings. But there are important differences between these types and the study, such as artistic form and economy of construction. An endgame study has to follow strict rules of composition, especially if it is entered into a composing competition. One of these rules states there should only be one solution.

All these are interrelated and important and you cannot understand (b) or (c) without a knowledge of (a).

      

      If you’re really ambitious this is an endgame tablebase generator for Windows.  Unlike Nalimov tablebases, FinalGen is able to solve chess positions with 7 or more pieces. Unlike chess programs, FinalGen produces the theoretical value (win, loss, or draw) rather than a mere evaluation.
       You can pause and resume the generation process at any time. It displays statistic information such as the estimated time remaining, the required hard disk space and the number of positions calculated.
       It is absolutely free and is available in English, French, Spanish, Russian, German and Italian.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Which Engine Plays Most Like Bobby Fischer?


      Some developers claim their engines have a “human like” playing style but how, exactly, would one determine what is “human like?” The author of Computer Chess makes an obvious point when he says it should be an engine that plays the same moves as a human.
      So, in order to find out which engine actually does play most like a human he created a test suit with 100 positions played by Bobby Fischer where Fischer commented that he considered a move good. These had to be positions that had several possible moves, no tactical traps and the choices were of a positional nature.      
      The idea was to select an engine that most nearly matched Fischer’s choice in its move selection. The results may surprise you. The winner was Gandalf 6 which scored 69 percent. Some other well known engine scores: 4th place Fritz 11 64%, Shredder 12 and Stockfish 2.3.1 in 5-8th place with 63%. Gandolf 6 is no longer available.

Fischer Test Results - includes results for all 23 engines tested and the positions used in the test!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Kasparov Analyzing



Here is some fantastic analysis by Kasparov. It just blows my mind watching GMs analyzing in real life as they sometimes bash out moves faster than you can follow. Watching them is a reminder of just how far ahead of the rest of us GMs are, let alone World Champions and near-Champions. If you want to check various engines, set up the position after 25…Qe8 and see what happens!


 

Uncle Bob Schrivener

       Uncle Bob (1881-1969) was one of those players who is unknown to the chess world at large, but played a large part in promoting chess dating back to the days when it wasn’t popular. He was a pretty good player, too.

      In 1913 he finished fourth in the US Open and in 1920 he finished fifth. He was many times the president of the Western Chess Association which was founded on 1900 and later became known as the American Chess Federation which later merged with the National Chess Federation to become the USCF.
      Schrivener also won the state championships of Alabama, Louisiana, Florida, and Mississippi and in 1957, at the ripe old age of 76, he won the Southern Open. He still wasn’t done; in 1961, at the age of 80, he won the Mississippi State Championship. Schrivener won the St. Louis District Championship in 1936, 1937, and 1940.
      Most of his successes occurred before there was a rating system and in recognition of his achievements, US Chess Federation recognized his achievements by awarding him the title of Master Emeritus in 1963. He was inducted in the Tennessee Chess Hall of Fame in 1990
      Schrivener saw his first chess game in the early 1890s in New Orleans at the Southern Yacht Club where his father had taken him to see a billiard exhibition. While wandering around the club he discovered two men analyzing a position; he didn’t know what they were doing until his father explained they were playing chess. Although Schrivener’s father played, Bob did not learn the moves until about 1900 but really started playing in earnest around 1904 when Pillsbury and Marshall were creating a sensation in US chess.
      His first tournament was the 1904 Memphis Championship where he lost all of his games. After that he came under the tutelage of a Mr. Jefferson whose training was good enough that in the 1905 Memphis Championship Schrivener won it (Mr. Jefferrson didn’t play).
      In 1913 the two of them entered their first really big tournament, the Western Open in Chicago. And Jefferson won the event while Schrivener tied for 5-6 with Einar Michaelson; 18 players participated. Schrivener played in a number of Westerns until about 1929 when he went into the aviation business and dropped out of chess for a number of years.
      In 1935 his Company, the Chicago and Southern Air Lines, (which later was purchased and became part of the present Delta Air Lines) moved to St. Louis where he was persuaded by the local players to get back into chess.
      He played in the St. Louis District Tournament in 1935-6 and won it. The following year a new player, Erich W. Marchand, arrived on the scene and they were to become rivals in St. Louis chess for a number of years.
      Chicago and Southern Air Lines returned to Memphis in 1941 and except for weekly games in the Veterans Hospital during the war years, Schrivener did not play chess for 15 years except a few correspondence games during the war years. Finally, in 1955 Schrivener was persuaded to play in the 1955 Memphis Championship, fifty years after he had won it for the first time, and he again finished first. After retiring from Delta Air Lines Schrivener began studying openings for the first time in his life!
      He was elected President of the Western Chess Association on three occasions, the first in 1913.  Scrivener won the Alabama Open in 1959 and also became Co-Champion (with James Wright) for the Memphis City Championship. Both won all their games and drew their individual encounter. Next year he achieved the highest score (5-2) in the Southern for a resident. The same year he also placed fourth in the first Mid-South at Memphis scoring 4-1 /2. In 1961 he won another state event with the Mississippi State tourney with a 4-1 score. During the same year he also achieved one of his best scores in the Tennessee Open placing 5th with a 4-2 score. He achieved his best score in a Tennessee Open in 1965 when he placed fourth with a 4-2 score.
      One time in the Southern Championship Schrivener dozed off during the game and his opponent let him sleep till his clock ran out; he was 85 at the time.   Link to his games

Friday, April 5, 2013

Chesshood Update


       Chesshood has grown steadily since I first reported on it a few weeks ago.  The bugs have been removed and there are quite a few members playing on it now.  The forums aren’t frequented much though. The playing area is well laid out and there is not a long wait for games.  You start at 1500 and at this point their top rated player is 1700ish and most players appear to fall in the 1400-1600 range. 
       The owner has been working very hard on this site and is giving it a lot of personal attention. This is your opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a promising new site.  Good site and I wish the owner success!  Totally FREE.
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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Becoming a Grandmaster

      How do great chess players become great? If you read Malcom Gladwell’s Outliers, you probably have an answer: the 10,000 hour rule. This concept, which was first introduced in academic circles in the early 1970s, was popularized by Gladwell in his 2008 book.

      Anders Ericsson, the psychology professor quoted above, coined the term deliberate practice (DP) to describe this special type of work. In a nice overview he posted on his web site, he summarizes DP as:
      [A]ctivities designed, typically by a teacher, for the sole purpose of effectively improving specific aspects of an individual’s performance.
      Geoff Colvin, an editor at Fortune Magazine who wrote an entire book about this idea, surveyed the research literature, and expanded the DP definition to include the following six traits (which I’ve condensed slightly from his original eight):

      It’s designed to improve performance. “The essence of deliberate practice is continually stretching an individual just beyond his or her current abilities. That may sound obvious, but most of us don’t do it in the activities we think of as practice.”
     It’s repeated a lot. “High repetition is the most important difference between deliberate practice of a task and performing the task for real, when it counts.”
    Feedback on results is continuously available. “You may think that your rehearsal of a job interview was flawless, but your opinion isn’t what counts.”
    It’s highly demanding mentally. “Deliberate practice is above all an effort of focus and concentration. That is what makes it ‘deliberate,’ as distinct from the mindless playing of scales or hitting of tennis balls that most people engage in.”
    It’s hard. “Doing things we know how to do well is enjoyable, and that’s exactly the opposite of what deliberate practice demands.”
    It requires (good) goals. “The best performers set goals that are not about the outcome but rather about the process of reaching the outcome.”
    If you’re in a field that has clear rules and objective measures of success — like playing chess, golf, or the violin — you can’t escape thousands of hours of DP if you want to be a star.   Read entire article…

Educational Value of Chess

  
According to an article published in the Johns Hopkins School of Education it's not about Kings, Queens, and Rooks, but rather, quadrants and coordinates, thinking strategically and foreseeing consequences. It's about lines and angles, weighing options and making decisions. Chess might just be the perfect teaching and learning tool. Since 2000, America's Foundation for Chess (AF4C) has been working with 2nd and 3rd grade students and their teachers to promote the use of chess as an educational tool. The goal of the First Move™ curriculum is to use the game of chess as a tool, to increase higher level thinking skills, advance math and reading skills, and build self-confidence.

        Research shows, there is a strong correlation between learning to play chess and academic achievement. In 2000, a landmark study found that students who received chess instruction scored significantly higher on all measures of academic achievement, including math, spatial analysis, and non-verbal reasoning ability (Smith and Cage, 2000). Read more…

Monday, April 1, 2013

16 reasons why chess is not good for you…




Chess is considered very good for the brain. Kids become intelligent overnight after learning the moves. Blue chip companies in Europe are on the lookout for Grandmasters with some sort of university degree. Parents of chess playing kids like to boast to other parents: ‘mine plays chess’. Chess is called ‘the royal game’, a game historically associated with the powerful and awesome, Genghis Khan, Napoleon and Vladimir Lenin. Chess represents in humanity some sort of super-intelligence only matched by creatures from outer space.
      
       It’s one of the biggest lies ever told. Because chess is actually harmful to the mind, body and soul. It leads to bad habits like alcoholism, anti-semitism, extreme arrogance, vindictiveness and encourages the development of mental illnesses. I will present 16 solid reasons why this happens using the World Champions as examples.  Read more…