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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Kudzu String Band and Chess

     1.3 million. That’s how many visitors this blog reached yesterday. I don’t know if that means anything, but the average is about 450 views per day. 
     Most of the visitors are from the U.S. with Russia and the Ukraine a distant second and third. The UK, Canada, the Netherlands and Germany are way back. 
     I was interested to see what subject matter is the most popular...engines, openings, biographies, tournaments, etc. Oddly, no one category stands out. 
     Posts on engines are popular, but what really surprised me is that one of the top viewed post is the one about Bobby Fischer’s girlfriend...the one where I “borrowed” her picture from another site and it turned out to be a young Hillary Clinton. They do favor each other though. 
     Not far behind in the number of views was my comparison of the Chess Assistant and Chessbase programs. A post titled Nanny McPhee of Chess featured one of my ugly, wart covered games, so I'm not sure why it had so many views.  Perhaps the attraction was the post title?!  Very close behind was GM Rosendo Balinas and a Sugar High...Real or Myth? 
     It seems odd, but my update on a (then) new, but very short lived, server site called Chesshood racked up over 12,000 views. Supposedly the lady who owned the site (Emilie Ropers) was killed in a shootout, but nobody ever located any news of the shooting or her obituary. I traced the incorporation to a private address in Florida. It was all very strange. 
     By far the all time leader for views is a real surprise as it had nothing to do with chess; it was a video of the Kudzu String Band from Marion, Alabama. They play what they call "regressive bluegrass," music that pre-dates legends like Bill Monroe and the Stanley Brothers, Ralph and Carter. That post has over 16,000 views! 
Legendary buck dancer Thomas Maupin

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Moscow 1956

Szabo vs. Smyslov
     Moscow 1956: The Silenced Spring by Kathleen E. Smith is a book about how, in 1956, Stalin’s successor, Nikita Khrushchev, stunned a closed gathering of Communist officials with a litany of his predecessor’s abuses. 
     Meant to clear the way for reform, Khrushchev’s “Secret Speech” of February 25, 1956, shattered the myth of Stalin’s infallibility and resulted in a wave of anti-Stalin sentiment that morphed into calls for democratic reform and eventually erupted in dissent within the Soviet bloc. 
     The Soviets ruthlessly crushed the Workers' uprising against Communist rule in Poland that lasted from June 28 to the 30th. 
     Most notably there was the Hungarian Revolt which was also viciously crushed by Soviet tanks and troops. It was this revolt that lead to some Hungarian players fleeing...Laszlo Witt to Canada, Bela Berger to Australia and Pal Benko to the US, for example. 

     Other big news was Egypt, under Nasser, nationalized the Suez Canal in late July and Israel launched attack on Egypt's Sinai peninsula and drove toward the Canal in October. Then British and French invaded Egypt at Port Said on November 5th. A cease-fire forced by US pressure stopped the advance of British, French and Israeli troops. 
     Chess happenings in 1956 included the death of 5-time British Ladies Champion Edith Price and Veniamin Sozin, a Russian master, author, and theoretician. Savielly Tartakower died in Paris at the age of 68. Julius du Mont, a player, journalist, editor and writer, died in Hastings at the age of 74. On July 16, Karel Hromadka, Czech champion in 1913 and 1921 died in Prague at the age of 69. Also in 1956, Lajos Asztalos, the 1913 Hungarian champion, died in Budapest. He was a professor of philosophy and languages. 
     In February Isaac Kashdan appeared on Groucho Marx’s game show You Bet Your Life. Kashdan’s partner was Helen Schwartz, actor Tony Curtis’ mother. They didn’t win any money. View
     In July Bobby Fischer took first place in the U.S. Junior Championship in Philadelphia with 8 wins, 1 draw, and 1 loss thus becoming the youngest-ever junior champion at age 13. Later in the year he defeated Donald Byrne in the famous Game of the Century. 
     In March and April, Smyslov won the Candidates tournament in Amsterdam. For twenty-five years after Alekhine fled Russia he was considered a traitor and an enemy of the people, but within a few years after his death in 1946 he was being hailed as Russia’s greatest player. After the Candidates tournament in a Soviet delegation that included Smyslov, Keres, Bronstein, Geller and Petrosian, marked the tenth anniversary of his death at a ceremony organized by FIDE in the Montparnasse cemetery in Paris. 
     Between August 31 and September 25 the Chess Olympiad, won by the USSR, was held in Moscow. Not long after the Olympiad, Moscow was the scene of the Alekhine Memorial that was held from October 9th to November 2nd. 

Alekhine's death – an unresolved mystery 
Alekhine’s Death by Edward Winter 

     Vasily Smyslov, Mark Taimanov and Mikhail Botvinnik were the early leaders. Then beginning in round 10 Botvinnik scored 4.5 points out of 5 which gave him a full point lead going into the last round. In the last round an out-of-form Paul Keres handed Botvinnik a stunning defeat. Smyslov ground out a win over Gideon Stahlberg to tie for first place while Taimanov settled for a short last-round draw which left him a half point short of a tie for first. Botvinnik’s shared 1st place was his only first place finish during his world championship years.
     British champion C.H.O’D. Alexander was invited to Moscow, but the British Foreign Office forbade him to go because as one of Britain’s top decoding experts at Bletchley Park during World War II it was felt he knew too many secrets. 

1) Botvinnik * ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 0 ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 11.0 
2) Smyslov ½ * ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 11.0 
3) Taimanov ½ ½ * ½ 1 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 10.5 
4) Gligoric ½ ½ ½ * 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 1 10.0 
5) Bronstein ½ ½ 0 1 * ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 9.5 
6) Najdorf 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ * ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 9.0 
7) Keres 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ * 1 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 8.5 
 8) Pachman ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 * ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 8.5 
9) Unzicker ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 1 ½ * 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 0 1 8.0 
10) Stahlberg 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 * ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 8.0 
11) Szabo 0 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ * ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 6.0 
12) Padevsky 0 0 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ * 0 ½ 1 ½ 5.5 
13) Uhlmann 0 0 ½ 0 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 * 1 ½ ½ 5.5 
14) Ciocaltea 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 0 0 ½ ½ 0 * 1 ½ 3.5 
15) Sliwa 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 ½ 0 * ½ 3.0 
16) Golombek 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ * 2.5 

     In the following game Szabo played his home-prepared innovation 8.e4 offering his d-Pawn which Smyslov readily accepted. With the initiative that came with the P-sac Szabo went on to launch what appeared to be a crushing K-side attack, but misplayed it and lost. 
     Szabo had started out with a modest score of 3-2. This game was played in round 6 on October 17th when rumblings of political unrest coming out of Hungary. On October 23rd, a national uprising began and a few days later, on November 4th, Soviet tanks rolled into Budapest and crushed it. The news was upsetting to Szabo, who was from Budapest, and he later wrote that he didn’t have the ambition to prepare for his remaining games. 

Monday, August 19, 2019

Johannesburg 1955

     If you lived in South Africa (in those days the Union of South Africa) in 1955 the big political news was The Congress of the People that was held in June. And, if you were a railroad fan the South African Railways placed the first of sixty Class 5E, Series 1 electric locomotives in service. They would eventually become the most prolific locomotive type to ever run on South African rails. 
     If you were a sports fan the South Africa national football team toured Australia and played and won five games against the Australia national association football teams. 
     If you were a chess player the big news was that the first world champion to ever play an event in Africa was Max Euwe who played in the Johannesburg 1955 event. And, the really big news was Euwe came in a surprising third a half point behind Muhring and Hreidenfeld. 
     The final standings were in doubt until the last round when Euwe went all out against Muhring after losing to Heidenfeld in the previous round. But, Euwe only managed a draw while Heifenfeld defeated Wilken and so moved into a tie for first. 

     Willem Muhring (1913 - 1999) was a Dutch IM and a pioneer in the computer industry. See A tribute to Willem Jan Muhring for an interesting bio.
     Wolfgang Heidenfeld (1991 - 1981) was born in Berlin and was forced to move from Germany to South Africa because he was a Jew. In 1957, he moved to Dublin and in 1979 the family moved back to Germany. You can read my post about him HERE.
     Barta da Cruz was from Mozambique while the other players were local South Africans about whom nothing is known. 

     The September 1955 edition of a typewritten South African magazine titled New Youth, Independent Youth Monthly mentions Dr. Euwe in the section On The Youth Front. 
     A group of seven young "non-European chess enthusiasts" who were members of the Transveal Indian Youth Congress at the South African Colored Peoples’ Organization interviewed Dr. Euwe and handed him an open letter.
     Their interview with Dr. Euwe took place in the foyer of the venue, the Johannesburg Library, as the youths were barred from entering the library itself. Euwe actually came into the foyer in between moves during his game to listen to and speak with the youths. 
     The letter they gave to Euwe expressed “deep disappointment in not being able to watch you play owing to the color of out skins.” 
     The letter went on to say that the game originated in the 5th century in India and it had always been played by people of all nationalities, colors and creeds. It stated, “We are sure that in your wide experience you have played and enjoyed games with persons of all colors. You must agree with us that the color of a person’s skin does not matter as long as they appreciate the art of chess.” 
     After the interview with Dr. Euwe the youths stated that they had been received by him with understanding and he had expressed regret at not being able to participate in playing games against non-whites because his contract for the trip and tournament forbade him from doing so.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Taking Another Gander At Chess Assistant 16

     The current version of Chess Assistant is Chess Assistant 19 Professional with Houdini 6 PRO and the download version for the USCF costs $169.95. 
     Because you probably don’t remember, let me remind you that I purchased Chess Assistant 16 back in March of 2016. Initially I downloaded the program from the USCF and had a problem both getting it installed as well as locating the big game database. Those problems were handled by Chess Assistant’s support quickly and efficiently. Their tech support is superb, which is something I can’t say for the snots at ChessBase. Then in November of 2017, I posted that no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't fall in love with Chess Assistant. 
     As I mentioned, I never cottoned to the appearance of the board, but more importantly, I never learned how to use all its features because I found the most mundane tasks difficult to perform. 

     Then in January of this year I posted about my hard drive failure that happened just as we were suffering through a polar vortex which brought unusually cold weather with temperatures below zero. That caused me to have to venture out into the cold and make a trip to Best Buy and $272 later I had a new solid state drive which is nice and very fast. Shortly after that the keyboard crapped out. That was an easy fix...just disconnect the laptop keyboard and replace it with a $20 wireless board. 
     While I am on the subject of wireless keyboards, the first one I bought was the $30 Insignia Wireless Keyboard/ Mouse and after two days the keys started sticking making it almost impossible to type anything. When I checked customer reviews on Amazon and Best Buy I discovered there were literally dozens of complaints about this unit having that problem. Clearly the manufacturer and Best Buy are aware of the issue, but obviously don't care. In any case, I took it back to Best Buy and exchanged it for a cheap $20 Logitech Wireless Keyboard and it’s still working fine. The only disadvantage is that it takes two receivers/transmitters, one for the wireless mouse and one for the keyboard whereas the Insignia only took one. Bottom line: Insignia is junk...don't buy.

     But, this post is really about my old, outdated Chess Assistant 16. It was on the old hard drive, but wouldn’t run off of it. It took a couple of days monkeying around with the program, but I finally got it running off the SSD drive. If I didn’t like it in the first place, why bother, you ask? Good question. The answer is that 1) getting it up and running on the new SSD was a challenge and 2) I just wanted to play around with it some more. 
     What can you do with Chess Assistant? The latest version has the Houdini 6 engine which according to the sales hype is “the World's strongest chess program.” That’s not true according to the CCLR 40/40 rating list; it’s a good engine, but it can’t compare to Stockfish. It holds its own against Komodo though. 
     Chess Assistant is tool for managing games and databases, playing on the Internet, analyzing games, or playing against the computer. Let’s throw out playing on the Internet and playing against the computer and look at the other stuff. 
     Chess Assistant 19 Professional includes (as does my old version 16) the Chess Opening Encyclopedia, a search system, the unique Tree mode, databases of over 7 million games (Nov. 1, 2018) that can be automatically updated with 3000 new games every week for free, one year access to all courses at Chess King Learn and the 7-piece Lomonosov Tablebases. The Lomonosov TBs are awesome and I used them frequently when I had free access because in correspondence play these days (on sites where engines are allowed) you are going to run into quite a few endgames. 

Some important features of the program are: 
* Search for novelty 
This probably isn’t what you think. It’s not a way of finding a new idea in an opening position that you can spring on your opponent. It just searches a different database to find any games with same opening moves and identify where the games diverged. You have to open two databases: one containing the game you are looking at and another one for comparison. CA will search for the place where the game under investigation diverged from the games in the second database...that is assuming a CA Tree has been built for the second database beforehand. i.e. you can’t search just any old database. 
     I won’t go into detail here, but there are two different kinds of trees, each with their own advantages and disadvantages: CA trees and Direct trees. This is one example of why this program has a steep learning curve. To fully utilize some functions you have know the difference between trees.
* Search for blunders 
Any analysis program will do this, so this isn’t anything unique to CA 
* Multi-pass game analysis 
You can even choose different engines for each phase of the game. My Fritz program offers the “Compare Analysis” that does the same thing. 
* Analysis markers 
These allow you to mark selected positions for automatic analysis at a later time. Analysis is performed in the background while the program is occupied with other things. If you have a network connection, you can distribute analysis among several computers which will analyze simultaneously. 
* Interactive analysis 
This feature is probably the programs greatest single asset and is similar to Aquarium’s Interactive Deep Analysis (IdeA). This feature allows you guide the engine in its analysis and choose lines and it will remember the results. This is a handy feature...very handy. 
     The idea of interactive analysis is to allow the player to work with the engine, allowing it to analyze a position, and then guide it in its analysis without forgetting its conclusions. This is something I cannot do with Fritz...interrupt the analysis and it forgets everything and you have to start over.
     Without human assistance an engine requires a lot of time to reach a great depth. When the engine starts to analyze a position, it reaches the 8-10 ply depth rather quickly, but then it slows down and going deeper gets difficult. The engine analyzes the position and works out a line it considers the best then it jumps to the end of this line and analyzes the final position with all results being stored in the hash tables. 
     Then the engine returns to the starting position and thanks to its accumulated knowledge of the final position of the line, it will probably re-estimate the initial position. Due to this re-estimation it will probably consider another line to be the best and switch to more deep analysis of that line. These actions may be accomplished automatically in accordance with the options you have set. 
     However, the point is that at any moment you can interrupt the engine, adding any variations of your own, and the program would analyze them as if they were its own suggestions. Hence, it will learn not only from its own mistakes, but from your input. This is interesting because you can suggest risky moves and the engine will refute them if they are incorrect. The important point is, besides analyzing in the background, if you interrupt its analysis, it does not have to start over. 
* Chess Opening Encyclopedia 
This includes theoretical material on all openings, more than 8000 annotations by GM Kalinin and 40 million evaluations by the strongest engines of key positions. 
* Search 
Chess Assistant offers search by position, header, maneuvers, material, comments, novelty search, advanced search by material in 12 regions of the board. Handy if you’re looking for something like the Classic Bishop Sacrifice or, say, exchange sacrifices by black on c3 in the Sicilian. 
     Fritz has a similar function where you can search for "medals" which were added to the games by ChessBase, but my database doesn't have any games marked with medals. You can, however, search for game header information and positions.

     For me, the level at which I play and the level of my involvement in chess doesn't justify spending $169.95 for a chess program that has a lot of features I don't need.
     And so my old Fritz 12 is still the workhorse because it does everything I need, plus it’s really simple to use. Then there are SCID and Arena which are free and they do just about all the stuff an amateur needs done.

Friday, August 16, 2019

A Bizarre Game

     The Chigorin Memorial is in honor of Mikhail Chigorin (1850–1908), founder of the Soviet Chess School and one of the leading players of his day. The first was played in 1909 in St. Petersburg. Later on, an international invitation Memorial tournament series was established, and mainly played in the Black Sea resort Sochi (from 1963 to 1990). Further irregular tournaments had been held in 1947, 1951, 1961, and 1972, played in diverse venues. From 1993 the venue returned to his hometown, the Memorial is now played as an Open event.
     In 1964 the tournament was held in Sochi and was won by Nikolai Krogius

1) Nikolai Krogius 11.0 
2-3) Ratmir Kholmov and Mato Damjanovic 10.0 
4) Boris Spassky 9.5 
5) Milan Matulovic 9.0 
6-8) Vladimir Antoshin, Anatoly Lein, and Rashid Nezhmetdinov 8.5 
9) Igor Bondarevsky 8.0 
10-11) Maximilian Ujtelky and Gideon Barcza 7.5 
12) Vladimir Doroshkievich 7.0 
13) Florian Gheorghiu 6.0 
14) Gyozo Forintos 3.5 
15) Tudev Ujtumen 3.0 
16) Gonzales Garcia 2.5 

     The winner of the following outlandish game was Maximilian Samuel Rudolf Ujtelky (April 20, 1915 - December 1979), a Slovak master and theoretician of Hungarian origin. Dr. Ujtelky was a descendant of famous Hungarian composer Franz Liszt. 
     In 1960 Ujtelky tied for first with Jiri Fichtl in the Czechoslovak Championship, but lost the playoff match for the title. He represented Czechoslovakia in Chess Olympiads three times: Amsterdam 1954, Leipzig 1960 and Havana 1966. He was awarded the IM title in 1961. 
     The defense that Ujtelky employed in the following game might better be classified as the Hippopotamus, a dull, plodding defense in which black sits tight and waits for white to overextend himself, launch a premature attack...or blunder. It’s one of those outlandish defenses that Ujtelky made a living out of playing. Sometimes they worked, sometimes they didn’t. 
     In this game Nezhmetdinov, a fearsome attacker, obtained a dominating position, won (or was handed) the exchange and had good winning chances. Then after blundering away a center Pawn, he manically began sacrificing for vague attacking chances and ended up losing. A strange game.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Hastings 1969-70

     The 45th Hastings Christmas Chess Festival featured some big names. There was five time winner (1951/52, 1956/57, 1959/60, 1960/61, 1962/63) Svetozar Gligoric. One of the top rated players on the world Lajos Portisch, former world champion Vasily Smyslov, the previous year's winner, and the promising 17 year old Dutch player Jan Timman. Past winners also included the 1950/51 winner Unzicker and the 1952/53 winner Medina. 
     The British representatives were the promising 1969 British Under 18 champion Martyn Corden, who had also come equal second in the 1969 British Championship. 
     John Littlewood had played three times in the Hastings Premier tournament and had represented England at the 1962 Varna Olympiad. He had also come second equal in the 1969 British Championship. 
     David Levy had represented Scotland at the 1968 Lugano Olympiad and had finished 5th at the 1969 Praia da Rocha Zonal Tournament. 
     Smyslov failed to repeat his previous tournament victory at Hastings, but he appeared to be nervous and his surprise loss to the young British player Corden was put down to trying to win too hard. "Having watched both players from a ringside seat, I am sure that Smyslov lost this game because he had the fixed idea that he had to win at all costs to keep in the running for the first prize" (Bernard Cafferty in Birmingham Mail). 
     Golombek commented that a fighting spirit pervaded and inspired the players from the top to the bottom. Of the 45 games, only 17 were drawn.
     British Pathe news filmed the opening speech by Lieutenant-General Sir John Bagot Glubb and the players in round one, but there is no sound. Watch  

FInal standings:
1) Portisch * ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 1 7.0 
2) Unzicker ½ * 1 ½ ½ 1 1 1 ½ ½ 6.5 
3) Gligoric ½ 0 * ½ 1 1 1 1 ½ ½ 6.0 
4) Smyslov ½ ½ ½ * ½ ½ 0 1 1 1 5.5 
5) Timman ½ ½ 0 ½ * 0 1 1 ½ 1 5.0 
6) Drimer 0 0 0 ½ 1 * ½ 0 1 1 4.0 
7-8) Corden 0 0 0 1 0 ½ * ½ 1 0 3.0 
7-8) Medina 0 0 0 0 0 1 ½ * 1 ½ 3.0 
9-10) Levy 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 0 0 * 1 2.5 
9-10) Littlewood 0 ½ ½ 0 0 0 1 ½ 0 * 2.5 

     The following win by Dolfi Drimer over John Littlewood was one of the games Harry Golombek considered for the brilliancy prize. Drimer's demolition of Levy was also considered as was Littlewood’s win over Corden, but the prize finally went to Medina for his win over Levy. 
     Professor Dolfi Drimer (1934 – 2014,) was an IM and an engineer by profession. He graduated in 1956 from the Politehnica University of Bucharest, becoming a mechanical engineer, and from 1966 an economist engineer. 
     In 1969, he became a doctor in engineering sciences in metallurgy. Between 1956-1960 Drimer was a scientific researcher at the Metallurgical Research Center in Romanian Academy. Between 1960-1968 he was an engineer at the "Electronica" Enterprise, and between 1964-1968 a design engineer at the "Automatica" Design Institute. 
     Between 1968 and 1971, he was a lecturer, professor and head of the Department of Welding Technology at the Polytechnic Institute of Bucharest. From 1990 he was the founder and rector of the first private higher education institution in the country - Ecological University of Bucharest. He was author of many scientific research works. 
     In the 1950s and 1960s Drimer was one of the leading Romanian players. He played in the Romanian Championship 13 times and played in three Olympiads.
     John Littlewood (1931 – 2009) was one of England’s leading players for many years and won the British senior championship in 2006. He was the best British attacking player of his generation during which time he took many GM scalps. His 19 British championships spanned 50 years. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Seven Dwarfs Riddle

     Typically dwarfs (in a foreword to The Hobbit, published in 1937, J. R. R. Tolkien wrote: "In English, the only correct plural of dwarf is dwarfs and the adjective is dwarfish. In this story dwarves and dwarvish are used, but only when speaking of the ancient people to whom Thorin Oakenshield and his companions belonged.”) live inside of hollow mountains, though in some cases they may live above the ground. 
     Depending on the story, they may be hostile or friendly to humans. Mountain dwarfs live deeper underground and have fairer skin than hill dwarfs. Dwarfs are considered to be children for the first 30 years of their lives. (However, even dwarf children, of both sexes, already have beards.) For about ten years, roughly age 30-40, dwarfs go through a period of young adulthood or adolescence. 
     Somewhere in a deep, dark forest seven dwarfs live all by themselves. The first is working in the garden, the second is reading a book, the third is cooking, the fourth is playing chess, the fifth is hanging laundry and the sixth is cleaning house. What is the seventh doing?
Click for the answer

Monday, August 12, 2019

Dare D. Barkuloo et al

     In 2017, a restored historic mansion in Minneapolis sold for $1 million. The identity of the buyer and seller were hidden behind limited-liability corporation names. The home at 2115 Pillsbury Avenue was built in 1931, has eight bedrooms, eight bathrooms and a four-car garage. It was also restored to include a new eat-in chef's kitchen. 
     The house was designed by the same architect who designed the Alfred Pillsbury home in Minneapolis. The Pillsbury Company was a Minneapolis, Minnesota based company that was one of the world's largest producers of grain and other foodstuffs until it was bought by General Mills in 2001. C.A. Pillsbury and Company was founded in 1872 by Charles Alfred Pillsbury and his uncle John S. Pillsbury. 

    The million dollar home on Pillsbury Avenue hadn’t been built in 1911, but it was the street 14-year old Dare D. Barkuloo (February 11, 1897 – July 1, 1965, 68 years old) lived on when he played in the Western Championship in 1911 at the age of fourteen.
     Not much is known of Barkuloo except that he was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and moved to Minneapolis at the age of ten. He learned to play chess around the age of twelve, but wasn’t too interested in it until about a year and a half later when Capablanca visited the Minneapolis Chess Club in 1910. 
     In 1910, Barkuloo, described as a youthful prodigy, placed second in the city championship which had been won 14 times in a row by E.P. Elliott (1873 - 1955). Elliott was Western Chess Association champion in 1908 and 1912.
     The 1911 Western Championship was won by a young lawyer from Winnipeg, Canada named Charles Blake who won all of his games except for one which he lost to Elliott. Blake had been a strong contender for the title on several occasions, but this year was in exceptional form and played steady, strong chess. 
     Blake (June 12, 1880 - May 18, 1961, 80 years old) was born in London and emigrated to Winnipeg in 1903 before serving as a Major during World War One. He moved to Ontario by 1925 and later to White Rock, British Columbia. Blake was twice runner-up in the Canadian championship (1909 and 1913). 
     The former Danish player Einar Michelsen of Chicago finished a strong second. Michelsen won all of his games except two: he lost to Blake, but still could have tied him for first had it not been for a loss to H.F. Lee. See Einar Michelsen PART 1  PART 2
     Former champ Elliott was deprived of a second place tie when he lost to Wilfred Bland who finished well back. The fourth place finish of Harry Kline from Denver, Colorado was impressive because it was only his first tournament. 
     Harry Kline (June 10, 1888 – August 17, 1943) was born in Lithuania, Latvia, Russia or Lebanon, depending on the source. He arrived in the Boston, Massachusetts area around 1905. He attended, but didn’t finish, high school in Boston where he was one of the better players. After dropping out he moved around a lot. 
     The year 1911 found him in Denver, Colorado, but by 1913 he was a farmer in Dorchester, Massachusetts, but later the same year, at the age of 26, he was was in Queens. New York where he finished high school and passed the entrance examinations for the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in Philadelphia where he graduated with a BA degree in 1917. 
     By 1919 he graduated from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis as a veterinarian. He worked in St. Paul and Minneapolis and sometime around 1927 he moved his family to Queens, New York where he established his own veterinary practice. 
     After a stay in New Jersey (1933-1938) they moved back to New York (1938-1942). In 1942 he was appointed as professor of anatomy at the Middlesex University School of Veterinary Science in Boston. He died in Waltham, Massachusetts and was buried in West Roxbury, Massachusetts. 
     Kline had a lot of success in club play and major open tournaments. At the American National in 1913 he only scored +3 -7 =3, but won the speed tournament ahead of Frank Marshall. His last tournaments were the preliminaries of the 1936 (Philadelphia) and 1938 (Boston) US Open, but in both cases he failed to reach the finals. 
     The story of Murray Goldsmith (June 15, 1886 – January 22, 1912, 25 years old) was a sad one. He lived in Cincinnati, Ohio and was a graduate of the University of Cincinnati, class 1908. One of Ohio’s top players, Goldsmith was also a correspondence player and a problem composer and solver of considerable ability. 

   Here is a link to a letter from Goldsmith to the chess editor of the Pittsburgh Gazette Times, December 4, 1910, in which he laid claim to the Ohio Championship.  LINK
      For years he suffered from rheumatism, a disease marked by inflammation and pain in the joints, muscles, or fibrous tissue. At the age of 25 he committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.     
     People were impressed with the play of Dare Barkuloo, mostly because he was so young, at least by the standards of that day. The 14-year old Barkuloo was in the 8th grade and lived with his mother and stepfather (his father had died), both of whom played chess. He had studied all the chess books in the public library which was reported to have quite a few. Barkuloo was noted for playing fast, too fast some thought, and he never showed signs of nervousness or fear. 
     Whatever happened to Dare Barkuloo? Good question. The 1951 Chess Life rating list (the only old one I have) doesn’t show a Barkuloo and chessgames.com shows only two tournaments that he played in: the Western in 1911 and 1915. Two other games played in 1921 are given, both against Reshevsky: draw in a simul and a loss in an exhibition game. 
     An ad appearing in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, May 20, 1921, states that Reshevsky was to play an exhibition game against Barkuloo, the State Champion. The game was to be played with Reshevsky sitting on a pony (!) and school boys in costume as living chessmen on a 24 foot square board. Reshevsky won a R and P ending. 
     Barkuloo won the Minnesota State Championship in 1914, 1917, 1918, 1921 and 1924. His five wins puts him in 7th place for the most Minnesota championship titles. Curt Brasket with 16 titles is the all time leader. 
Harry F. Lee
      Harry F. Lee (January 24, 1855 - May 29, 1917) was a prominent Chicago player and served as editor of the chess cloumn of the Chicago Tribune from 1912 to 1917 and was TD and secretary of the Western Chess Association.

Final standings:
1) C. Blake 12.0-1.0 
2) E. Michelsen 11.0-2.0 
3) E.P. Elliott 10.0-3.0 
4) H. Kline 8.5-4.5 
5) M. Goldsmith 8.0-5.0 
6) J.L. Clark 7.5-5.5 
7-8) A. Blieden and E. Schrader 7.0-6.0 
9-10) H.F. Lee and W. Widmeyer 5.5-7.5 
11-12) D. Barkuloo and W. Bland 4.0-9.0 1
3) C.S. Cooper 1.0-12.0 
14) J.F. Seymour 0.0-13.0 
Note: Seymour lost “about” four games and withdrew. Thus, Cooper’s only point was a forfeit win against Seymour. 

Friday, August 9, 2019

Rosenberg Spy Ring and a Chess Master

Morton Sobell, spy
     Morton Sobell (April 11, 1917 – December 26, 2018), yes, he was 101 years old, was an American engineer who is known for having been convicted of spying for the Soviet Union when it was an ally of the United States during late World War II. 
     Sobell was born in New York City to Jewish immigrant parents who arrived in the US in 1906 from a small village in what is today the Ukraine. He graduated from the City College of New York with a degree in engineering. 
     In 1939 he began working in Washington, D.C. for the Navy Bureau of Ordnance and in 1943 took a job with General Electric which had major defense contracts. According to an NKGB agent, Sobell, a top specialist in his field, was recruited as a spy in the summer of 1944. When approached Sobell readily agreed to spy for the Russians. 
     In June 1944, Max Elitcher, a prosecution witness in the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg trial in 1951 and a close friend of both Sobell and Rosenberg, claimed he was phoned by Julius Rosenberg who requested a meeting in which Rosenberg tried to recruit Elitcher. 
     Rosenberg said that many people were aiding the Soviet Union by providing classified information about military equipment and that Morton Sobell was one of them. 
     After David Greenglass, Ethel Rosenberg's brother, was arrested on charges of espionage, Sobell and his family fled to Mexico in June of 1950 where they lived under assumed names. On August 16, 1950, Sobell and his family were abducted by armed men, taken to the United States border and turned over to the FBI who arrested him for conspiring with Julius Rosenberg to commit espionage. 
     Sobell was tried and found guilty and sentenced to 30 years while both the Rosenbergs were executed. Sobell was initially sent to Alcatraz, but was transferred to Lewisburg Penitentiary when Alcatraz closed in 1963. Sobell was released in 1969 after serving 17 years and 9 months. 
     After his release he became an advocate of progressive causes and conducted public speaking tours regaling audiences with his account of being falsely prosecuted and convicted by the federal government. He also made trips to Vietnam during the war, to East Germany before the fall of the Soviet Union and to Cuba. In 1974, he published a memoir, On Doing Time, in which he maintained that he was innocent. 
     Sobell's purported innocence became a cause among progressive intellectuals who organized a Committee to Secure Justice for Morton Sobell. In 1978 the Corporation for Public Broadcasting produced a television special that maintained Sobell was innocent of the government charges. The Monthly Review, an independent Socialist magazine, maintained that the government had presented "absolutely no proof" of Sobell's guilt, but had tried him merely "to give the impression that an extensive spy ring had been in operation." 
     At the age of 91 Sobell, for the first time, told The New York Times that he had given military secrets to the Soviets during World War II. He claimed he had passed only material about defensive radar and artillery devices. The reporter said that military experts contended that one device Sobell mentioned in the interview was later used against US military aircraft during bothe the Korean and Vietnam wars. Sobell also said that his co-defendant Julius Rosenberg had been involved in spying, but his wife was not. A committed communist, in 2018 he told the Wall Street Journal, "I bet on the wrong horse." 
Phillips in 1904
     Sobell’s defense attorney was Harold M. Phillips (December 15,1874 - January 7, 1967, age 92), a lawyer and President of the United States Chess Federation from 1950-54. Phillips also served as President of the Manhattan Chess Club in the 1930s, President of the Marshall Chess Club, President of the Intercollegiate Chess League and was a New York State Champion and Manhattan Chess Club Champion (1903). He was the organizer and director of the great 1924 New York tournament. In 1930, he played for the US in the Olympiad at Hamburg (drawing one and losing one). He played in chess tournaments for over 70 years. In his earlier years, he was known as “Der Kleine Morphy.” 
     Phillips was born in Kalvaria, south western Lithuania and came to the United States at the age of 13. After receiving his first degree from the College of the City of New York in 1896, he went on to study law at Columbia University and started to practice in New York City in 1899. In 1907, Phillips became attorney for the New York Taxpayers' Association, and subsequently became legal adviser to other well known organizations. 
Phillips later in life

     Phillip's career as a chess-master started with his winning the New York Sun chess tournament in 1895. Thereafter he participated in various local, national and international tournaments. Phillips was co-author of the Book of the Warsaw Tournament (1935). For a time he served as chairman of Scripta Methematica, a journal devoted to mathematics and science, and was also a director of Yeshiva College. 
     In 1942, he won the following game, played in the Metropolitan League match. Phillips played for the Manhattan CC and his opponent for the Bronx-Empire City team. 

Thursday, August 8, 2019

National Tournament of 1911

     The Cafe Boulevard located at 156 Second Avenue in New York City was the venue for a “National Tournament” that was sponsored by the American Chess Bulletin. The 13-player event was held from January 22 to February 3 in 1911. See the Google street view for a the location today. It was interesting that recently a 3 bedroom, one bath apartment in the building rented for $4,450 a month. 

     A few of the players had international experience: Marshall, Hodges, Johner, Baird while at the time Capablanca had made his mark by winning a match against Marshall. And, it was for the convenience of Capa and Marshall that the dates were selected because both of them sailed for San Sebastian on February 4th, the day after the tournament ended. Capa won San Sebastian a half point ahead of Rubinstein and Vidmar. Marshall finished 4th. 
     In this tournament Marshall, the current US champion, finished ahead of Cuba’s phenomenon thanks to his steady play as he was undefeated. Capa arrived in New York from Cuba in the early morning hours the same day that the first round was played and so by unanimous consent was given a bye for that round.
     In the 4th round Capa lost to Roy T. Black in the 4th round when he played an unsound gambit and at the end of six rounds Capa’s score stood at a surprising 3.5-2.5. Six successive wins remedied the situation. Altogether it was felt Capa didn’t quite come up to expectations, btu that the tournament was good preparation for San Sebastion. 
     Oscar Chajes of Chicago got off to an impressive start with five straight wins before losin g to Johner in round six. Chajes had the bye in the last round and could only watch as Capa nosed him out of second place. His result in the tournament placed Chajes as one of the best players in the country. Charles Jaffe had been long regarded as one of the best players in New York and proved to be dangerous from the start when he drew nwith Capa in round 3 and was undefeated until the 7th round when he was defeated by Marshall. 
     From the start Paul Johner was expected to be a prize winner, but could do no better that share fifth place with George Walcott (born May 4, 1870 - December 29, 1940) of Boston was the founder of the American Chess Monthly in 1892. Walcott got off to a bad start by losing his first three games, but gradually improved. Albert Hodges of Staten Island was a disappointment, but it was his first tournament in a long time and he was out of practice.  Edward Winter has some interesting material on Alfred Kreymbourg HERE.

1) Marshall X = = 1 = 1 1 1 1 1 = 1 1 10.0 
2) Capablanca = X = = 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 9.5 
3) Chajes = = X 1 0 1 1 1 = 1 1 1 = 9.0 
4) Jaffe 0 = 0 X 1 1 1 1 1 = 1 1 1 9.0 
5) Johner = 0 1 0 X 0 1 1 0 0 1 1 1 6.5 
6) Walcott 0 0 0 0 1 X 1 1 0 = 1 1 1 6.5 
7) Black 0 1 0 0 0 0 X 1 0 0 1 1 1 5.0 
8) Smith 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 X 1 1 1 1 1 5.0 
9) Hodges 0 0 = 0 1 1 1 0 X = = 0 0 4.5 
10) Tennenwurzel 0 0 0 = 1 = 1 0 = X 0 = = 4.5 
11) Kreymbourg = 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 = 1 X 0 1 3.0 
12) Baird 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 = 1 X = 3.0 
13) Morris 0 0 = 0 0 0 0 0 1 = 0 = X 2.5

     In the following game Paul F. Johner defeats Roy. T. Black. Paul Johner (September 10, 1887 – October 25, 1938) was the older brother of Hans Johner. Paul was born in Z├╝rich and was a noted musician. He was Nordic Champion in 1916 and won or tied for the Swiss Championship six times: 1907 (joint), 1908 (joint), 1925, 1928 (joint), 1930 and 1932 (joint). His greatest success was Berlin in 1924, when he won a four-way round robin ahead of Akiba Rubinstein, Richard Teichmann, and Jacques Mieses. He won the Manhattan Chess Club championship in 1907. He passed away in Berlin, Germany in 1938.