Random Posts

Play Live Blitz


Thursday, June 20, 2019

Cukierman Crushes Tartakower

     The Great Depression affected France in 1931, a bit later than other countries so when the following game was played in the 1930 Paris City Championship, which won by Josef Cukierman ahead of Tartakower, things were still fairly normal. 
     The year before Cukierman had only tied for 5-6th in Paris (Tartakower won) and the following year he finished first again. In 1933, he took 6th (Alekhine won) and in 1939, he tied for 5-6th in Paris (Rossolimo won). 
     Who was the almost unknown Josef Cukierman? GM Greg Serper commented that he had come across a number of beautiful combinations played Cukierman, but at the same time found some really bad games and as a result he was somewhat puzzled. 
     Josef Cukierman was born March 28, 1899 in the small village of Grodek which is in Eastern Poland near the Belarus border. Not much is known of him, but he did the Second Moscow City Championship in 1920/21 and in the early 1920s, he lived in BiaƂystok, Poland which is a large city near where and he won the club championship in 1926. 
     Cukierman was strong enough to draw Capablanca and he had wins over Tartakower and Vera Menchik to his credit. The May 30, 1935 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle had an article that stated Poland was preparing for the Olympiad and that Poland was leaving “no stone unturned to have a winning team.” The article stated that Tartakower had recently left Paris to return to Poland where he was supervising the training of candidates. There was a “test tournament” at Lodz to which Cukierman, another resident of Paris had been invited. What was interesting about the article was that Cukierman was referred to as “Dr. Cukierman.” 
     Poland did manage to field a strong team for the 1935 Olympiad in Warsaw, but Cukierman wasn't on it.  The team consisted of Tartakower, Frydman, Najdorf, Friedman and Makarczyk. 
     According to Alekhine, Cukierman committed suicide in 1941 by jumping from a balcony “for no apparent reason, since he enjoyed excellent health and fortune.”  The Polish team finished in 3rd place behind the United States (Fine, Marshall, Kupchik, Dake and Horowitz) and Sweden.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Just A Master Game

     I have posted on the 1950 US Open and one of the players in this game, the colorful Albert Pinkus, before. 
     The other player, John Ragan (October 29, 1930 – December 12, 1991) of St. Louis, Missouri, was a Master who won the Missouri State Championship a record 12 times: 1948, 1953, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1961, 1970, 1972, 1974, 1975 and 1977. 
     On the 1950 USCF rating list Pinkus was listed as a Master with a rating of 2422 which put him number 11 on the list and Ragan was an Expert at 2195.
     The rating classification in those early days were a little different than they are today:
Grandmaster 2700+ 
Senior Master 2500-2699 
Master 2300+2499 
Expert 2100-2299 
Class A 1900-2099 
Class B 1700-1899 
Class C 1500-1699 
Class D Below 1500 

     There were only two GMs, Reuben Fine (2817) and Samuel Reshevsky (2734) and two SMs, Arthur Dake (2598) and I.A. Horowitz (2558). 
     The Master list was made up of 29 players and included Isaac Kashdan, Larry Evans, Herbert Seidman, Max Pavey, George Shainswit, Arnold Denker, Albert Pinkus, Arthur Bisguier, George Kramer, Donald Byrne, Weaver Adams, Herman Steiner and Robert Byrne. Most of the remaining players were lesser known with the exception of Edward Lasker who was rated 2336. 

     Among the Experts were many names who would later be prominent Masters at the State level. 
     Larry Evans ran an ad in Chess Life advertising a couple of his books. James R. Schroeder was later given permission to sell a typed version of the book. According to Schroeder, Evans recognized that Bronstein was a great player and Bronstein later was the best player in the world for many years. He said Evans was not yet a master (he was) and added the analysis is enthusiastic but not always correct and that he was an atrocious writer. Schroeder was selling the booklet for $20. 

Americans’ Lack Of A Proper Education 
     Appearing in the June 5th, 1951 edition of Chess Life was an editorial by Montgomery Major about whom I have previously posted. Major was replying to a supposedly anonymous letter that was critical of a previous Major editorial comment. 
     In criticizing his critic Major asked the question, “...does it indicate the failure of our educational system in not teaching modern youth how to think?” He went on to add that “so many Americans have been misdirected by the lack of proper education. They believe the preposterous because they have never been taught how to distinguish between the false and the true syllogism, and they become ready prey to the attractive glitter of pseudo-ideas that would not withstand the test of logical analysis.” Of his critic, Major wrote, “Those who failed to train him in how to think clearly and logically are the veritable culprits!” 

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

A Valiant Effort By Bouaziz

     Slim Bouaziz (born on April 16, 1950 in Tunis) was awarded the GM title in 1993 and since 2005 has been a chess coach. Between 1967 and 1987, he participated in five interzonal tournaments with his best result being in 1982 in Las Palmas where he finished in twelfth place. 
     From the mid-1960s Bouaziz represented Tunisia at the Olympiads between 1966 and 2006 and in 1989 he was among the members of the team representing Africa at the team world championship in Lucerne. He achieved his highest rating of 2515 in 1993 and became the first African player to be awarded the GM title. 

     Older readers will remember the fiasco surrounding the world championship from 1993 to 2005. If not you can read the Wikipedia article HERE. In 1999 the FIDE World Championship was held in Las Vegas between July 31 and August 28 in a series of short knockout matches. 
     The reigning champion was Anatoly Karpov who had no special privileges other than than he (like a number of leading players) was seeded into the second round. In protest at this, Karpov refused to play. Kasparov and Anand also refused to play because they were negotiating a rematch; they also criticized the format. 
     In the final Vladimir Akopian and Alexander Khalifman faced off in a short 6 game match. With a draw in the 6th game, Khalifman was crowned FIDE World Chess Champion. Khalifman was ranked 44th in the world at the time. Bouaziz participated in the event and was knocked out in the first round by Vasilios Kotronias by a score of 1.5 – 0.5.  
     Bouaziz, then an IM, played in the 1985 Interzonal in Tunis, but had to withdraw due to illness after six games and so his results were canceled. 
     He had a single draw (against Morovic) and had lost to Beliavsky, Hort, De Firmian, Suba and Hmadi. As you can see from the crosstable, the canceled games could have had an impact on the standings.

1) Yusupov 11.5 
2) Beliavsky 11.0 
3) Portisch 10.0 
4-5) Gavrikov and Chernin 9.5 
6) Hort, Sosonko and Dlugy 9.0 
7) De Firmian 8.5 
10-12) Nikolic, Suba and Miles 8.0 
13) Morovic 7.5 
14-15) Zapata and Ermenkov 6.5 4 
16) Afifi 3.5 
17) Hmadi 1.0 

     Had Hort and De Firmian wins against Bouaziz counted they both may have had a shot at qualifying by finishing in the top four places. As it was, Chernin defeated Gavrikov 3.5-2.5. 
     In the following game De Firmian scored a nice a fourth-round victory over Bouaziz in the 6.Bc4 variation of the Sicilian that was a favorite of Bobby Fischer. 
di Firmian

     Nick de Firmian (born July 26, 1957 in Fresno, California), is GM and three-time US champion, winning in 1987 (with Joel Benjamin), 1995, and 1998. He also tied for first in 2002, but Larry Christiansen won the playoff. 
     He is also a chess writer, most famous for his work in writing the 13th, 14th, and 15th editions of Modern Chess Openings. In 2006 he revised and expanded Capablanca’s classic Chess Fundamentals which was harshly criticized by chess historian Edward Winter, who claimed that de Firmian destroyed the book by changing Capablanca's writing and removing games from previous editions to include new games not played by Capablanca. 
     De Firmian earned the IM title in 1979 and the GM title in 1985 and has represented the United States at several Interzonals and played on the US Olympiad teams of 1980, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1996, 1998, and 2000. Beginning in the 1990s, he lived in Denmark for several years. 
     He currently resides in California. His current USCF rating is 2575, down from a high of 2705 in 1994. His last rated event was a weekend Swiss in California in 2017. 

Monday, June 17, 2019

Lasker Defeats Tarrasch With Psychology

     In game 2 of their 1908 World Championship match the wily Lasker used a psychological ploy that will be discussed in the game notes to defeat the dogmatic Tarrasch.
     1908… it was an interesting year. If you lived in New York City the Sullivan Ordinance was passed making it illegal for people who controlled public places to allow women to smoke in them. It was vetoed by Mayor George B. McClellan Jr. Also, it was in New York City that the first around-the-world car race began.
     If you lived in Ohio the big news was the Collinwood (Cleveland) school fire which erupted on March 4, 1908, killing 172 students, two teachers and one rescuer in one of the deadliest school fires in United States history. 
     The old school was a fire trap. Its masonry exterior acted as a chimney, sucking flame upward as the wooden interior burned and open stairways enhanced the chimney effect. The school only had two exits and fire blocked the front door. Children rushed to the rear door, but, in a vestibule narrowed by partitions, they stumbled and climbed on top of one another forming a pile that completely blocked the exit. 
     Mothers Day was celebrated for the first time in May. In a particularly ugly incident, Springfield, Illinois experienced a race riot. In September at Fort Myer, Virginia, Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge made history by becoming the first person to die in an airplane crash and the pilot, Orville Wright, was severely injured. Ten days later Henry Ford produced his first Model T. In November, Republican William Howard Taft defeated Democrat William Jennings Bryan for President of the US. 
     In chess, March 1908 saw the US team defeat the British team in a cable match 6.5-3.5. The US players didn’t lose a game, but the match was won on boards 7, 8 and 9 which produced the only decisive results. Anglo-American cable matches
     At Prague, Oldrich Duras and Carl Schlechter tied for first, edging out Dr. Milan Vidmar by a half point. And in Vienna the same two players tied with Geza Maroczy for first. It was at Vienna that Richard Reti made his international debut...he finished in last (20th) place with no wins, 16 losses and three draws!
     The big news was Lasker was playing his second match for the World Champiohship; this time his opponent was Dr. Siegbert Tarrasch. Their match might have taken place earlier than 1908 but for technical difficulties, not the least of which was their personal animosity towards each other. 
     Many felt Tarrasch was every bit Lasker’s equal even if he was six years older. Tarrasch’s tournament record was superior to Lasker’s. When the match was played Tarrasch had won seven big tournaments: Breslau 1889, Manchester 1890, Dresden 1892, Leipzig 1894, Vienna 1898, Monte Carlo 1903 and Ostend 1907. 
     The match result must have been a bitter disappointment for Tarrasch and his supporters. Tarrasch sometimes put quality above results when he opted for scientific accuracy rather than brilliancy. 
     Like almost all players of his era he was influenced by Steinitz and he attempted to improve on Steinitz’ ideas, especially the importance of rapidly developing pieces. Tarrasch was a model of logic, but he had a weakness when the game left the well beaten paths he was familiar with. A weakness opponents like Lasker, Alekhine and Nimzovich were quick to take advantage of. 
     Tarrasch was a brilliant writer and his teachings on the middlegame are well known. Less well known are his insights on Rook and Pawn endings. In fact, much of the improvement in the level of play in his day was a direct result of his teaching. 
     Tarrasch also contributed greatly to opening theory, but that was also one of his weaknesses. He was often too stubborn to change his mind once he had made a decision on the value of a variation even if practice proved it inferior. He especially failed to grasp the ideas behind the new opening theory being put forth by Nimzovich, Tartakower and Reti. 
     Personality-wise, he had a reputation for a tendency to be easily angered and was known for his strong likes and dislikes, among the latter, Lasker. Even so, he always expressed appreciation for Lasker’s play, it not the man. Later on life he mellowed a bit and was in great demand as a tournament director. 
     The match was split between Dusseldorf and Munich and the first to win eight games was the victor. In the early part of the match it seemed like Tarrasch might actually have a chance, but he seemed demoralized after the fifth game when his carefully prepared defense to the Ruy Lopez failed to bring success. Tarrasch put up stiff resistance in the remaining games, but Lasker always prevailed. All in all, the games were of a very high quality and a good example of “classic” chess. Lasker won +8 -3 =5. .

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Naranja’s Dogfight With Matulovic

     In 1969 the East Asian Zonal Tournament was organized by the Singapore Chess Federation and was held in the Facility of Medicine. 
     It ended in a tie between a young Australian player named Walter Browne and Renato Naranja of the Philippines when both scored 8-3. 
     Their individual game ended in a draw. Both players lost two games: Browne to Haji Ardijansyah of Indonesia and Tan Lian Seng of Singapore. Narjana lost to Max Wotulo of Indonesia and Yukio Miyasaki of Japan. 
     The playoff ended in a 1-1 tie and Naranja qualified for the Interzonal that was to be played in 1970 in Palma de Mallorca on the basis of better Sonneborn-Berger points. 
Naranja in 1967
     Renato Naranja (born September 24, 1940) is an International Master from the Philippines. He was Philippine Junior Champion in 1958. In 1959, he placed 9th in world junior Under-20 championship. He played for Philippines in the Olympiads of 1960, 1964 (Board 1), 1966 (Board 1), 1968, 1970 (Board 1) and 1974. He won the Philippine Championship in 1965. 
     At the Interzonal in Palma de Mallorca Naranja did not finish very high, only 21st out of 24, but he had some major highlights when he drew with Bobby Fischer who finished a whopping 3-1/2 points ahead of the field. He also held Lajos Portisch and Vasily Smyslov, both of whom failed to qualify for the Candidates Matches by a half-point, to draws. 
     He scored five wins: Reshevsky (17th place), Suttles (15th-16th place), Addison and Matulovic (18th-19th place) and Jimenez (24th place). 
     In 1989 Naranja took a look a long break from chess after emigrating to the United States where he worked as a computer engineer. An International Master and a Life Master with the USCF, he still frequents the Marshall Chess Club. His last rated event was in 2014 when he finished an undefeated first in a small FIDE rated tournament at the Marshall. 
Naranja more recently

     Describing himself as a better tactician than strategist, Naranja calls the following game against Milan Matulovic as his most memorable game. 
     Milan Matulovic (1935 – 2013) was a Yugoslav GM who was the second or third strongest Yugoslav player for much of the 1960s and 1970s behind Svetozar Gligoric and Borislav Ivkov. 
     He won the Yugoslav Chess Championships of 1965 and 1967 and was a prolific competitor on the international tournament scene during the 1960s and 1970s and remained an occasional tournament competitor until 2006. 
     Matulovic was involved in several controversies. Much to the annoyance of his opponents, he often played on in hopeless positions in which he should have resigned. 
     Against Istvan Bilek at the Sousse Interzonal in 1967, Matulovic played a losing move but then took it back after announcing j'adoube. Bilek complained to the arbiter but the move was allowed to stand earning Matulovic the nickname "J'adoubovic". That wasn’t the first time he had pulled that trick. 
     In his book Endgame, author Frank Brady wrote about a match the fifteen year old Bobby played against Matulovic before the 1958 Interzonal in Portoroz. In that match Matulovic took back a move in their first game which Fischer lost. After that, Fischer, who went on to win the match, told Matulovic he’d no longer accept any j’adoubes. 
     After the 1970 Palma de Mallorca tournament, he was accused of throwing his game against Mark Taimanov in return for a $400, thus allowing Taimanov to advance to the Candidates matches. Those were the famous matches where Fischer skunked Taimonov and Larsen 6-0 and then beat Petrosian +5 −1 =3 on the way to defeating Spassky for the World Championship. 
     During the game against Taimanov, Matulovic offered feeble resistance and appeared uninterested in the game. According to IM David Levy, Matulovic arrived at the board twenty minutes late and began playing incredibly weak moves at the rate of about one move per minute; strange, since he normally he was a slow mover and used all of his available time. 
     Levy put forth two possible explanations: Matulovic was bribed, a theory that many t observers believed was probable despite a Soviet denial of any bribe at the time or that he couldn't care less about the game. Matulovic was convicted of vehicular manslaughter and served nine months in prison for a car accident in which a woman was killed. 
     GM Nigel Short, never known to mince words or exhibit good taste, said on Facebook after hearing of Matulovic's death posted, "They say only speak good of the dead. He's dead? Good!" 

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Igor Bondarevsky

     Igor Bondarevsky (May 12, 1913 - June 14, 1979 was a Soviet GM in both over-the-board and correspondence chess, an International Arbiter, trainer and chess author. 
     He first came into prominence in 1936 when he finished at the top of the USSR tournament of first category players and won a number of games with excellent tactical style. Later in his career, like Salo Flohr, he began leaning towards purely technical lines and the stunning tactics of old were rarely seen. The result was a lot of dull draws and a sharp decline in his tournament results.
     Bondarevsky made comparatively few international appearances. At Moscow 1937, his first international event, he struggled and scored only 2.5-4.5 and finished tied 7-8th place; the winner was Reuben Fine.  The year 1937 was Fine's most successful.  He finished first at a small tournament in Leningrad with a 4-1 score ahead of Levenfish who had shared first in that year's Soviet Championship.  He then scored 5-2 in Moscow.  Those two small tournaments made him a member of a small group of foreigners who had won tournaments in Russia.
     For an interesting anecdote about Fine at Moscow in 1937 see Edward Winter's Chess Note 7053, Fine v. Yudovich
     In Bondarevsky's first Soviet Championship in 1937 he shared 10th-12th place, but his play steadily improved which each successive Soviet tournament as he added to his positional understanding. 
     At the very strong international Leningrad-Moscow event in 1939, his performance was disappointing as he only scored 5-12 and finished in 17th place. 
     After his poor performance at Leningrad-Moscow, Bondarevsky was back in form for the 11th USSR Championship at Leningrad 1939. He joined the Soviet elite by placing sixth at the with 10-7 score which qualified him for the final. In 1940, in the USSR Championship, he produced many brilliant games and tied for first with Lilienthal ahead of many of the country’s most prominent players.
     Botvinnik was not happy with his poor showing in the 1940 event and was afraid it would have a bad effect on his chances for a match against Alekhine, so in 1941 he finagled a match-tournament for the title of Absolute USSR Champion between the top six finishers of the 12th final. Botvinnik won that additional event with the runner-up being Keres followed Boleslavsky, Smyslov, Lilienthal and Bondarevsky in last place. 
     Bondarevsky played in the 1948 Interzonal and qualified for the Candidates Tournament at Budapest 1950, which earned him the GM title. However, he was unable to play in Budapest because of illness. Thereafter he played in very few tournaments, a notable result being his second place behind Svetozar Gligoric at Hastings 1960/61
     In 1954 Bondarevsky was awarded the title of International Referee and he played an active role in Soviet chess as a member of the USSR Chess Federation.  He authored one book, Soviet Chess Players in the United States, Britain and Sweden as well as many chess articles in Soviet magazines.
     Bondarevsky coached Boris Spassky during his ascent to the World Chess Championship, beginning in the early 1960s, culminating with Spassky's win over Tigran Petrosian in the 1969 title match. He was married to WGM Valentina Kozlovskaya
Mrs. Bondarevsky

     The below scoresheet is from the 31th USSR Championship, Leningrad 1963, from the game Bondarevsky – Spassky. It’s signed by the players and one of the arbiters . 

     The following game against Kotov was Bondarevsky’s “Immortal” in which he played a brilliant five move mate. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

A White Man At Hastings 1950

     Arnold Denker described Weaver W. Adams as a “white man clear through.” He lived in a white house on White Street and had inherited a chicken farm on which he raised white chickens that laid white eggs. He also wrote a book White To Play And Win. 
    Be sure to read Batgirl’s fascinating article on Adams on Chess.com and the Boylston Chess Club has his autobiography HERE
     Adams’ (April 28, 1901 – January 6, 1963) greatest competitive achievement was winning the US Open Championship in 1948. He played in the US Championship five times.
    Most famous for his claim that the first move 1.e4 confers a winning advantage upon white, he continually advocated this theory in books and magazine articles from 1939 until shortly before his death. Naturally, his claims were scorned and he could never prove his theory, but Hans Berliner in a 1999 book professed admiration for Adams and similarly claimed that white may claim a winning advantage with 1.d4 instead of 1.e4. 
   Larry Evans wrote that Adams' tournament results were damaged by his dogmatism and he was handicapped of arming his opponents with advance knowledge of his best lines. One of the best examples was his game against Leonard Barden at Hastings 1950-51; it was Barden’s favorite game.View game
     The 26th Hastings Christmas Chess Festival was held at the end of the year 1950 and the notable participants were Nicolas Rossolimo who had won Hastings once previously and Wolfgang Unzicker from Germany. Though Rossolimo matched his winning score from two years previously it was only good enough to share second with Alberic O'Kelly this time around. Unzicker edged them both out by half a point and finished undefeated. 
     Rossolimo suffered one defeat at the hands of the unpredictable Jonathan Penrose while O’Kelly also lost only one game (to Rossolimo). The only other player to get by with only one defeat was Harry Golombek, but he only won one game (against Thomas). 

The final standings: 
1) Wolfgang Unzicker 7.0 
2-3) Nicolas Rossolimo and Albrec O'Kelly 6.5 
4-7 Harry Golombek, Joathan Penrose, Vincenzo Castaldi and ARB Thomas 4.5
8) Leonard Barden 3.0 
9) Weaver Adams 2.5 
10) Alan Phillips 1.5 

     Adams’ first of his two wins came in the first round against Phillips when Adams played the black side of the Giuoco Piano. Phillips, along with Barden, won the British Championship in 1954. In round 2 Adams opened with the Vienna against Unzicker and was thoroughly outplayed. 
    In round three he met Barden who played the Two Knights Defense and caught him in prepared analysis. In round four Golombek played the Caro-Kann and a long uneventful draw, the only one for Adams, was the outcome. 
   In round five Adams’ opening play was absolutely horrible and he let his King get stuck in the center. As a result he lost a 20-move miniature on the black side of a Giuoco Piano to Italy’s Vincenzo Castaldi. 
     In round 6, as black, Rossolimo played the Sicilian Scheveningen. The result was an exciting 59-mover. At one point Rossolimo had a Q and three Ps against Adams’ three minor pieces and 5 Ps. 
    In round 7 Adams was deftly outplayed by O’Kelly who, as white, played the Giuoco Piano. In round 8 Adams was soundly defeated by Thomas in a Vienna Game. 
    When round 9 arrived the Adams vs. Penrose game was important for both players. If Penrose could win it would mean a plus score and sole possession of fifth place. Adams needed a win to make sure of at least a tie for last with Phillips. Unfortunately for Phillips he got annihilated by O’Kelly in a mere 25 moves. As white, Adams defeated Penrose in an exciting Sicilian, O'Kelly Variation. Adams final score was +2 -6 =1. 
     It was fully my intention to present one of Adams’ wins, but the loss to Rossolimo was just too interesting to ignore, so here it is. 

Monday, June 10, 2019

Marshall KO's Spielmann

     The great Hamburg tournament, held in connection with the 17th Congress of the German Schachbund, was a 17-player event that included some of the great and some of the more promising players of the day. 
     Lasker, the World Champion, was on tour in South America. Maroczy and Bernstein declined their invitations. Both Rubinstein and Janowski were last minute cancellations. 
     A young Capablanca who had scored a decisive victory over Marshall in their match the previous year had booked his passage for the tournament, but canceled his voyage and withdrew from the tournament owing to ill-health. Rumor had it that Capablanca got scared of facing such stiff competition and backed out at the last minute. In reply Capa wrote, “...I was not afraid, and had no reason to be. I soon proved to the satisfaction of all, when the following year I won the first prize in the strongest tournament that has ever been held: the first San Sebastian tournament."
     There was an 18th player, Franz G. Jacob of Germany who was bumped up from the Reserve section. Before the start he said that he hoped his nerves could withstand the trials of such a long and grueling event. Apparently they couldn’t; he withdrew after six rounds having scored +0 -3 =3. 

The players: 
Schlechter: A player of whom it was said he was nearly impossible to beat, earlier in the year he almost took the World Champion title from Lasker. 
Duras: He was approaching his pinnacle as a player and had many recent successes. Described as strong-willed and cold-blooded, he was known for his technique, opening knowledge and his endurance remarkable. 
Nimzovich: Considered a rising star of great promise. He had been studying intensely and was already known for his bizarre moves and unusual ideas.
Spielmann: An up-and-comer with recent match victories over Mieses and Fahrni.  His 3rd/4th finish at St. Petersburg the previous year had been his best result to date. 
Teichmann: A solid player. In recent years he had given up his work as a teacher of languages to devote himself to chess. While rarely at the top, he generally scored well. 
Marshall: In recent years he had lost lop-sided matches to Lasker, Tarrasch and Capablanca, but he had always been far more successful as a tournament performer. It was a crap shoot on where he would finish in this tournament.
Dus-Chotimirsky: A Russian with a risky attacking style whose play was always full of interesting ideas. He had a lot of admirers, but never scored well. For example, the previous year at St. Petersburg he defeated Lasker and Rubinstein yet finished with a minus score. 
Alekhine: Not yet the Alekhine he was to become, but even though he was only 17 years old he was beginning to gain a reputation as a dangerous attacker. As a result, he was the object of much interest in this, his first Master tournament.
Tarrasch: After being defeated by Lasker in their match for the World Championship two years previously Tarrasch had played little.  As a veteran, it was going to be interesting to see how he fared against the crop of young masters. 
Forgacs: Formerly known as Fleischmann before moving to Budapest, he was out of practice, but had scored quite well at Nuremberg in 1906 and Ostend in 1907. 
Leonhardt: His reputation was for his great opening knowledge and being a difficult man to defeat. A player with a low profile and not many tournament wins, at his best he was able to defeat most of the elite players of the period. He also won many brilliancy prizes in the process. It was said he looked “rather unwell” at the start of the tournament. 
Tartakower: The 23-year old Russian had not yet reached his potential and one anonymous participant at Hamburg stated that if Tartakower’s playing strength ever matched his self-confidence, he could be a potential World Champion.
Salwe: From Lodz, Poland, his encounters with Rubinstein strengthened his play. He had a limited opening repertoire, but a thorough knowledge of d-Pawn openings. 
Kohnlein: A teacher with little opportunity to play, he had won the Dusseldorf Hauptturnier in 1908. 
Speyer: This Dutch master was a strong player with a solid style, but he was considered a little out of his class in Hamburg. 
John: From Dresden, his play was always sound though rarely spectacular.
Yates: An unknown at the time, but he was known to possess excellent tactical ability. Like Alekhine and Jakob, Yates owed his place in the tournament to the withdrawal or non-appearance of other, better known players. The 26-year old Yates had abandoned a career in accountancy the year before in favor of becoming a professional chess player and journalist. Tarrasch expressed the opinion that while Yates may be an excellent player, at the time he did not possess the slightest qualifications to be allowed to play in a Master Tournament. Yates finished dead last with only one win, but it was against Tarrasch. 

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Need your input…

Thanks to all who answered. The winner is Caissia’s Web.
Which one of the displays do you prefer? 

Friday, June 7, 2019

Lasker vs Steinitz

     For the last couple of days I have been browsing through Lasker’s Greatest Games 1889-1914 (formerly titled Dr. Lasker’s Chess Career) by Reinfeld and Fine. 
     Lasker is the guy Capablanca said was a natural genius and never adhered to a style that could be classified in a definitive way. 
     Alekhine called Lasker his teacher and said that without Lasker he could not have become the player he did. 
     Tal called him the greatest champion and an amazing tactician who won games that were apparently quite hopeless. Ringing endorsements from some of the best players who ever lived, yet I never cottoned to his play. 

     Andrew Soltis wrote a book, Why Lasker Matters. One reviewer wrote, “Soltis is a good annotator, an amicable and occasionally humorous companion. His analyses seem sound and he gives good, perspicacious explanations of the play, making good use of contemporaneous sources. Along the way he gives a summation and portrait of Lasker as player and thinker.” 
     The late James R. Schroeder was of a different opinion; he wrote, “...this book is worthless...Instead of analyzing the games correctly, Soltis puts in more than 100 pages of BAD analysis and then tries to correct it. That is insane!...There are so many mistakes I could write several pages of corrections. Not worth it.” 
     I am not sure of the source of Schroeder’s information, but he claims Lasker “was precocious but what we call a “smart-ass”, insufferably conceited and sarcastic. His sarcasm was based upon ignorance, but he was a small child, which is probably why no one hit him. His parents got rid of him by sending him to live with his brother Berthold who was a medical student and a manager of a tea room, where people played cards and board games.” 
     At the age of 12 Lasker showed unusual ability in math and was sent to school in Berlin under the care of his elder brother Berthold, a medical student and, also, a strong player. Later he studied mathematics and philosophy at the universities in Berlin, Gottingen and Heidelberg. Schroeder also said of Lasker that he was inordinately lazy, he tried to emulate Paul Morphy and had a straight-forward, classical style and was an excellent endgame player. Considering Lasker's accomplishments, inordinately lazy does not seem appropriate! 
     Emanuel Lasker (December 24, 1868 – January 11, 1941) was more than a chess player; he was also a mathematician and a philosopher. 
     His contemporaries used to say that Lasker used a psychological approach to the game, and that he sometimes deliberately played inferior moves to confuse opponents and that description persists even today. That wasn’t true, they just didn’t understand his play which was ahead of its time. Playing over his games gave me a new appreciation for them.

     Lasker also played and wrote about bridge and Go and his own invention of a game called Lasca, a game derived from checkers. He also published books on the mathematical analysis of card games and algebra, philosophy and drama. 
     After Tarrasch refused Lasker’s challenge for a friendly match, Lasker journeyed to the US in 1894 to challenge defending champion Wilhelm Steinitz.  By the way, Schroeder was upset at using the name Wilhelm because in the 1880s Steinitz had become a US citizen and changed his name to William. 
     The winner of the match was to be the first to win 10 games, draws not counting. The time control was 15 moves per hour. The stakes were $2,000 per side. The match was to be played in New York, Philadelphia and Montreal. 
     The match began in New York on March 15, 1894, and was fairly even with two victories to each player in the first six games. However, Lasker then won five consecutive games in Philadelphia after he recognized Steinitz couldn’t play Queenless middlegames. 
     In the 19th game, Lasker achieved his 10th win, thereby becoming the 2nd World Chess Champion. In November of 1896 they played a return match in Moscow which Lasker won with a score of 10 to 2 with 5 draws. Four weeks later, Steinitz's mind went,and he was sent to a psychiatric clinic and was soon declared insane. 
     The seventh from their first match was one of three Schroeder called the most important games Lasker ever played. The other two were the 8th game and his game against Marco at Hastings 1895. 
     In his book, Soltis left out the 7th game causing one person to comment, “Maybe he thought it would be too much work” to annotate it. The book by Fine and Reinfeld do not contain the 7th or 8th games.  They give three games: game 9 calling it the best game of the match, game 10 (A well played game by Lasker, unfortunately marred by Steinitz’ feeble defense.) and game 11 (one of Lasker’s best games of the match). 
     Game 11 was interesting because of the controversy over black’s 31st move; was it 31...b6 or 31...g6? According to a post in Chessgames.com 31...b6 was given by German sources and 31...g6 by BCM and Chess Monthly.
     Bernard Cafferty, preparing a history article for BCM, decided that 30...g6 was better and therefore more likely and the New Orleans Times Democrat had an article by Lasker in which he gave 31...g6 and he should know. 
     Fine and Horowitz give 31...b6 with the comment, "If black plays to win the B, white’s K has time to make a decisive inroad on the Q-side.” They also give some analysis on on 31...g6 without comment. In his book Soltis said it didn’t matter which move was played because black is lost anyway. I am going with 31...g6.