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Friday, January 22, 2021

Playing Through Games Using the Keyboard

     A few days ago I sent an e-mail to customer support at ChessOK inquiring if there was any way that when using Aquarium 2020 I could get the notation to display properly (i.e. making the pieces appear as a letter or a chess piece and not a strange symbol). They never replied. 
     At the same time I received an e-mail from a reader asking if there was any way to play through games posted on this blog with Aquarium by using the arrow keys instead of a mouse. I couldn't answer that and suggested he contact ChessOK support which he did. He was informed that it was not possible, but he found an ingenious solution on his own that works with Windows 10; I am not sure about earlier releases. Thanks to Mr. Wijnand Engelkes of Holland here is how it's done.

1. Press (left) Shift, (left) Alt and the NumLock Key simultaneously. 
This produces a window that asks "Do you want to turn on mouse keys?" 
2. When you answer yes this changes the numeric keyboard. 
You then cannot use it anymore (until switched off) for typing 1,2,3, etc., but 8 will move the mouse cursor up, 4 left, 6 right, 2 down. And the only one you need is 5 which will produce a left mouse click. The normal mouse keeps responding, so now you have two mice.
3. Locate the mouse pointer 
above the button shown and click it manually only once.
From now on, you can press numeric "5" to move one half-move ahead. When you press (left) Shift, (left) Alt and the NumLock Key again the numeric keyboard works as before. In the Windows Accessability options for the mouse you can change the speed of the emulated mouse.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Marc Taimanov, the Piano Player

     In a recent post I mentioned that among the Russian players of the 1950s Larry Evans declared that the only true attacking players were Bronstien and Geller and that the only really dynamic players were Taimanov, Spassky and Korchnoi. 
     It occurred to me that Marc Taimanov's accomplishments are virtually unknown today except that he lost to Bobby Fischer by the unprecedented score of 6–0 in their candidates quarter-final in Vancouver in 1971. There is one book of his best games that I know of: Taimanov's Selected Games that was published by Everyman in 1995. It contains 60 deeply annotated games that reveal his approach to chess.
     In 1970, at the age of 44, Taimanov qualified for the match by defeating the Yugoslav GM Milan Matulovic in the final round at the Palma interzonal. Matulovic's feeble play and the great speed great speed at which he played lead to the rumor that he had sold the point for $400. 
     After Taimanov's crushing defeat by Fischer Soviet officials immediately began seeking a political explanation. They regarded it as inconceivable that a Soviet player of Taimanov's stature could be wiped out that easily. As a result, when he returned home he was searched at the border and was found to be carrying US currency as payment for an article for a Dutch magazine written by his friend and trainer Salo Flohr, and worse, a book by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. 
     The result was that Soviet officials took away Taimanov's salary and no longer allowed him to travel overseas. The official reason given for punishing Taimanov was that he had brought a book by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn into the country. 
     Fischer's overwhelming match wins in which he skunked Larsen and Taimanov and then decisively defeated Tigran Petrosian by a score of 6.5-2.5 may have helped contribute to the authorities' change of mind and they forgave Taimanov and lifted the sanctions against him.
     Mark Evgenievich Taimanov (February 7, 1926 - November 28, 2016) was one of the leading Soviet players and was among the world's top 20 players from 1946 to 1971. 
     Born in Leningrad, one of four children, his father was a construction engineer who built several theaters in the city and his mother was a musician who taught him to play the piano. 
     When he was studying at music school, he was offered the part of a young violinist in the 1937 film Beethoven Concerto. With no knowledge of the piano he had to learn everything from scratch, but the film was a success and was awarded a prize at a 1937 Paris cinema festival. 
     A few months later he was invited to the official opening of the Leningrad Pioneers Palace, where he was asked to select an activity so he joined the Leningrad chess school, whose director at the time was Botvinnik. Taimanov was the city’s best junior by 1941, when the school closed because of the second world war and he was evacuated before the German siege began. 
     In 1945 he resumed his music studies in Leningrad and by 1953 he had become a GM and world championship candidate finishing in the middle of that year’s candidates’ tournament in Zurich. 
     In the meantime he and his first wife had advanced from concerts across the USSR to performances abroad. Taimanov won the USSR chess championship in 1955 and was popular, optimistic, respected and considered a chess diplomat. 
     Taimanov was married several times and had one son with his first wife, Bruk; the marriage ended in divorce. His second wife, Lyulya, predeceased him. In the 70s he was briefly married to Jane Averbakh, daughter of Yuri Averbakh. That marriage also ended in divorce. At the age of 78 he and his fourth wife, Nadezhda Bakhtina, had twins, Misha and Dima. 
     His dual career continued throughout the 1950s and 60s. He used to say that when he gave concerts he was taking a rest from chess and when he played chess he was resting from the piano. 

     After his "rehabilitation" in 1973 Taimanov made a new career as a solo pianist and achieved new chess successes. In his 60s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, he played in more tournaments than in his best years and won the World Senior Championship in 1993 and 1994. 
     At the age of 87, he launched a St. Petersburg chess academy for young talents. Taimanov was known for sometimes giving impromptu piano recitals at closing ceremonies and was sometimes accompanied by opera singer Vasily Smyslov. Taimanov authored several books on opening play, wrote commentaries for the Russian press on all five title matches between Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov. His favorite players were Alexander Alekhine, Mikhail Tal and Garry Kasparov.
     The following game was player in the 1952 Stockholm Interzonal where Taimanov was undefeated, scoring +7 -0 =13. It's a fighting game played against the Dutch Master Lodewijk Prins who unsuccessfully tried to ensnare Taimanov in a rare and sharp variation.

Mark Taimanov - Lodewijk Prins

Result: 1-0

Site: Stockholm Interzonal

Date: 1952.09.25

Queen's Gambit Declined

[...] 1.d4 ♘f6 2.c4 e6 3.♘c3 d5 4.♗g5 c5 5.cxd5 cxd4
5...♕b6 has also been played in this position. 6.♗xf6 gxf6 7.e3 ♕xb2 8.♗b5+ ♗d7 9.♗xd7+ ♘xd7 10.♘ge2 cxd4 11.♖b1 ♕a3 12.exd4 Taimanov-Geller, Leningrad Championship 1952. White is better.
6.♕xd4 Black's gambit, while not quite correct, is not easy to refute over the board. 6...♗e7 7.e4 ♘c6 8.♕e3
8.♕d2 ♘xe4 9.♘xe4 exd5 10.♗xe7 ♕xe7 11.♕xd5 O-O 12.f3 ♘b4 with equality. Smyslov-Geller, USSR Championship 1955.
8...♘b4 was played in Borisenko-Keres, USSR Championship 1955. 9.♗b5+ ♗d7 10.♗xd7+ ♕xd7 11.♕d2 exd5 12.♗xf6 ♗xf6 13.exd5 ♗xc3 14.♕xc3 ♘xd5 the position is equal, but white has to avert some formidable threats.
9.exd5 ♗xg5 10.f4 ♘b4 11.O-O-O ♗e7 12.dxe6 ♕c7
12...♕a5 At the time this was the recommended move, but after 13.exf7+ ♔f8
13...♔xf7 is worse on account of 14.♗c4+ ♔f8 15.♘f3 ♘c6 16.♘e5 and white is practically winning.
14.♗c4 black's position is not good.
13.exf7+ ♔f8
13...♔xf7 This leads to incredibly sharp play. 14.♘f3
14.a3 ♘a2+ 15.♔c2 ♗f5+ 16.♗d3 ♘xc3 17.bxc3 ♗xd3+ 18.♖xd3 black is better. Hybl,J-Blatny,F/Prague 1963
14...♘xa2+ 15.♔b1 ♗f5+ 16.♔xa2 ♕a5+ 17.♔b3 ♕b4+ 18.♔a2 ♕a5+ 19.♔b3 1/2-1/2 Varnusz,E-Navarovszky,L/Budapest 1965
14.a3 ♘a2+ In this sharp position it looks like black has a dangerous attack, but Taimanov manages to keep things under control. 15.♔b1 ♘xc3+ 16.♕xc3 ♗f5+ 17.♗d3 ♕xc3 18.bxc3 ♖d8 19.♔c2 ♖xd3
19...♗d7 was (threatening . ..Ba4+) slightly better. 20.♖b1 ♗a4+ 21.♔d2 ♗c6 22.♘f3 ♗xf3 23.gxf3 b6 with roughly equal chances. In fact, 7 games from this position resulted in draws in Shootouts using Stockfish.
20.♖xd3 ♔xf7
20...♗xa3 21.♘f3 ♔xf7 22.♖b1 ♖b8 23.♘e5+ ♔g8 24.♘c6 ♖c8 25.♖xb7 is good for white.
21.♘f3 ♗xd3+ 22.♔xd3 ♖d8+ 23.♔c2 ♖d5 24.a4 ♖a5 25.♔b3 b5 26.♘e5+ ♔f6 27.axb5 ♖xb5+ 28.♔c4 ♖b2 29.g3 a5 30.♖a1 h5 This is a serious mistake that lands black in big trouble. (30...♖xh2 31.♘g4+ His move prevents this.) 31.♖xa5 ♖xh2 Black has managed to force several exchanges in the hopes of increasing his drawing chances. However Taimanov keeps finding ways to attack even in this seemingly peaceful position. 32.g4 ♗d6 33.g5+ ♔e6 34.♘f3 ♖f2
34...♗xf4 would make things somewhat tougher for white. 35.♘xh2 ♗xh2 36.♔d3 h4 37.♔e4 h3 38.♖a6+ ♔f7 39.g6+ ♔e7 40.♖a7+ ♔f6 41.♖f7+ ♔xg6 42.♖f3 ♗c7 43.♖xh3 This is a tablebase win for white.
35.f5+ ♔f7 36.♖a7+ ♔g8 37.♖a8+ ♗f8 38.♘d4 h4 39.f6 Brilliant and unexpected. The threat is 40.Ne6 and so black's reply is forced. 39...gxf6 40.g6 ♔g7 There is really no good defense against the threat of 41. Ke6
40...♖g2 41.♘f5 h3 42.g7 ♖xg7 43.♘xg7 h2 44.♖a1 ♗xg7 45.♖h1 with a won ending.
41.♘e6+ ♔xg6 42.♖xf8 ♔h7
42...h3 43.♖h8 ♔f5 44.♘d4+ ♔g4 45.♔d3 h2 46.♔e3 ♖a2 47.♘f3 ♔g3 48.♘xh2 with a won ending.
43.♖d8 h3 44.♖d3 h2 45.♖h3+ ♔g6 46.♘d4 f5 47.♔d3 f4 48.♔e4 Facing a hopelessly lost ending Prins resigned. (48.♔e4 ♖a2 49.c4 ♔f6 50.c5 ♔e7 51.♖h7+ ♔d8 52.c6 etc.)
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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

The Classic Bishop Sacrifice on g6

     Under the Nazis during WWII the General Government Chess Championships (Schachmeisterschaft des Generalgouvernements) were a series of five Nazi tournaments that took place in occupied central Poland. 
     The main participants in these events were Alekhine, Bogoljubow, Paul Schmidt, Klaus Junge, Karl Gilg, Josef Lokvenc, Hans Mueller, Fedir Bohatyrchuk and other German masters. 
     Hans Frank (May 23, 1900 – October 16, 1946), the Governor-General of General Government, was the patron of those tournaments because he was an avid chess player. He possessed an extensive library of chess literature but was also a good player and at one time Bogoljubow was a guest at Frank's castle.
     Frank, who became known as the Butcher of Poland, was a German lawyer who worked for the Nazi Party during the 1920s and 1930s and later became Adolf Hitler's personal lawyer. After the invasion of Poland, Frank became Nazi Germany's chief jurist in the occupied Poland. From 1939 to the end of the war he instituted a reign of terror against civilians and was directly involved in the mass murder of Jews, boasting that there were not enough trees in the General Government to cut down to make the paper required to list all of those people he had had killed. 
     The General Government tournaments began with a chess congress in November, 1940 that was held in Krakow, Krynica and Warsaw from which the following game was taken. 

     The player who tied with Bogoljubow for first was Anton Kohler (1907-1961) a German master from Munich. He participated in German tournaments from about the mid-1930s until the early 1950s. 
     The games feature a Bishop sacrifice on g6 which is a sacrifice that can be played in various setting if black's K is uncastled. It's a good pattern to remember!

Efim Bogoljubov - Ludwig Rellstab

Result: 1-0

Site: Kracow

Date: 1940

Torre Attack

[...] 1.♘f3 For other examples of a B sacrifice on g6 take a look at the following games.
1.e4 d5 2.exd5 ♕xd5 3.♘c3 ♕a5 4.d4 ♘f6 5.♘f3 c6 6.♗c4 ♗f5 7.♘e5 e6 8.g4 ♗g6 9.h4 ♘bd7 10.♘xd7 ♘xd7 11.h5 ♗e4 12.♖h3 ♗g2 13.♖e3 ♘b6 14.♗d3 ♘d5 15.f3 ♗b4 16.♔f2 ♗xc3 17.bxc3 ♕xc3 18.♖b1 ♕xd4 19.♖xb7 ♖d8 20.h6 gxh6 21.♗g6 ♘e7 22.♕xd4 ♖xd4 23.♖d3 ♖d8 24.♖xd8+ ♔xd8 25.♗d3 1-0 Viswanathan Anand-Joel Lautier/Biel 1997
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.♘c3 ♘f6 4.e5 ♘fd7 5.♘ce2 c5 6.c3 ♘c6 7.f4 cxd4 8.cxd4 ♗b4+ 9.♘c3 ♘b6 10.♘f3 ♗d7 11.♗d3 ♘e7 12.O-O ♖c8 13.♘b5 ♘c4 14.♘xa7 ♖a8 15.b3 ♘xe5 16.fxe5 ♖xa7 17.a3 ♘f5 18.g4 ♘h4 19.♘g5 ♖f8 20.♘xh7 ♖h8 21.♖a2 ♗c3 22.♗g5 ♗xd4+ 23.♔h1 ♕c7 24.♗xh4 ♗xe5 25.♗g6 1-0 Rudolf Spielmann-Paul Schmidt/Noordwijk 1938
1...♘f6 2.d4 b5 While unusual, this move is not bad in the sense that it has a direct refutation. In fact, in my database the games (around 750 of them) show 1/3 each for wins, losses and draws. 3.♗g5 ♗b7 4.e3 a6 5.♘bd2 e6 6.a4 White often plays 6.Bd3, but white has to play this move at some point soon. It is strategically correct because white takes control of c4.
6.♗d3 h6 Better was 6...c5 7.♗xf6 gxf6 8.a4 b4 9.c4 f5 10.e4 with the advantage. Megaranto,S (2512)-Lu,S (2636)/ Makati PHI 2018
6...c6 trying to avoid surrendering c4 to white runs into 7.e4 h6 8.♗xf6 gxf6
8...♕xf6 9.♗d3 with an excellent position because black has no decent moves.
9.c3 ♖g8 10.g3 ♗e7 11.♗g2 with a good game.
7.♗d3 c5 8.O-O
8.e4 is also good. 8...cxd4 9.♘xd4 d6 10.O-O ♘bd7 11.♔h1 ♗e7 12.♕e2 O-O 13.f4 and white stands well. Vavrak,P (2397) -Obsivac,J (2344)/Czech Rep 2002
8...♗e7 9.dxc5 ♗xc5 10.e4 ♗e7 11.e5 ♘d5 12.♗xe7 ♘xe7 13.♘c4 The threat to occupy d6 must be met and so black has to retreat the N. 13...♘c8 14.♖e1 It's obvious that white's position is preferable, but after 14...O-O black at least has hopes of putting up some sort of defense. Instead with his next move he makes a bid for freedom, but in the process makes a classic mistake by opening up the position to a better developed opponent. 14...d5 15.exd6!+⁠− an unexpected blow 15...♘xd6 White's position is so strong that he has a multitude of winning moves here, but he chooses what is probably the most pleasing. 16.♗g6 Discovered attack: d3, d1-d6
16.♘g5 is crushing. 16...♘xc4 17.♘xe6 fxe6 18.♖xe6+ ♔f8 19.♕g4 is crushing. Just one example... 19...♘a5 20.♖ae1 ♘d7 21.♖d6 ♗c6 22.♕f4+ ♔g8 23.♖xc6 ♘xc6 24.♗c4#
16.♘d4 is equally forceful. 16...♗d5 17.♘xd6+ ♕xd6 18.♘f5 ♕d8 19.♕g4 g6 20.♕d4 ♖g8 21.♘e3 ♗b7 22.♕xb4 and white is winning easily.
16.♘xd6+ ♕xd6 17.♘g5 (17.♗b5+ ♔e7) 17...♕e7 18.♕h5 g6 19.♕h6 ♘c6 20.♗xg6 O-O-O 21.♗xf7 winning.
16...hxg6 This is the final mistake, not that it really matters. (16...O-O 17.♘xd6 hxg6 18.♘xb7) 17.♘xd6+ ♔e7 18.♘xb7 ♕c7
18...♕xd1 a fruitless try. 19.♖axd1 and black is simply a piece sown.
19.♕d4 this pedestrian move also wins. 19...♘d7 20.♖xe6+ fxe6 21.♕xg7+
19...♘d7 is no better. 20.♕d4 ♕xb7 21.♖xe6+ fxe6 22.♕xg7+ ♔d6 23.♖d1+ ♔c6 24.♕e7 ♔b6 25.♕xe6+ ♔a7 26.♖xd7
20.♕e4 ♘c6 21.g4 ♖h6 22.♘c5 Black resigned.
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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Cellar Dwellers at Stockholm 1962

     Stockholm 1962 was a 23-player event with six players qualifying for the Curacao Candidates tournament. At Stockholm, Fischer won with a +13 -0 =9 score followed by Geller, Petrosian, Korchnoi and Filip. There was a three-way tie for sixth place between Gligoric, Benko and Stein. Stein won the playoff and qualified, but there was a rule that limited the number of players from one country participating in the Candidates tournament to three, so Stein was relegated to being a reserve in case somebody dropped out and Benko was the 6th qualifier. 
The final standings at Stockholm:
     Usually the featured games from a tournament like this are those played by the winners, but the players at the bottom sometimes played good games, too. Once such player was the Columbian IM Miguel Cuellar Gacharna (November 18, 1916 – December 5, 1985). 
     Besides chess, Cuellar excelled at other activities; he was an academic, piano player and a Colombian champion in three cushion billiards. Awarded the IM title in 1957, Cuellar won the Colombian championship nine times (1941, 1946, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1959, 1961, and 1971.) He won individual silver medal at first board (+12 –2 =4) in the Olympiad at Tel Aviv in 1964. 

     Although he placed next to last at the Stockholm Interzonal he defeated GMs Efim Geller, Viktor Korchnoi, Gideon Barcza and Abe Yanofsky. He also held Tigran Petrosian to a draw. A few years later in the Interzonal at Sousse 1967, he only tied for 19th place out of 22 with Myagmarsuren, but there he defeated GMs Reshevsky, Matanovic and Kavalek and drew with GMs Geller and Portisch. Besides those, there are a fair number of other GMs he defeated throughout his career. 
     The last place finisher at Stockholm, India's Manuel Aaron, only inflicted defeats on two players, but they were GMs Portisch and Uhlmann. 
     Clearly, even the cellar dwellers are sometimes capable of playing good chess, but you'll hardly ever see their games in print unless they were the victim of a drubbing at the hands of one of the superstars. In an effort to correct that injustice, here's Cuellar's nice win over GM Gideon Barcza (August 21, 1911 - February 27, 1986) who was an eight-time champion of Hungary.

Miguel Cuellar - Gedeon Barcza

Result: 1-0

Site: Interzonal, Stockholm

Date: 1962.02.14

Nimzo Indian

[...] 1.d4 ♘f6 2.c4 e6 3.♘c3 ♗b4 4.e3 c5 5.♗d3 d5 6.♘f3 cxd4 7.exd4 O-O 8.O-O b6 This move ends up leaving black's light squared B limited, so 8...dxc4 is probably better. (8...dxc4 9.♗xc4 b6 10.♗g5 ♗b7 with equal chances.) 9.cxd5 According to the auto-annotation with Fritz this move transposes the opening into a line of the Panov-Botvinnik Attack against the Caro-Kann.
9.♗g5 is usually seen. 9...♗b7 Also good is 9...h6 10.Bh4 Be7. 10.♖c1 ♗e7 11.♖e1 ♘c6 12.a3 ♖c8 13.♘e4 g6 14.h4 Draw agreed. Thorhallsson,T (2455)-Erenburg,S (2573)/Reykjavik 2006
9...exd5 10.h3 ♗b7 Worth considering was 10...Bxc3 11.♗g5 ♘bd7
11...♗xc3 12.bxc3 ♕d6 13.♘e5 ♘e4 14.♗f4 leaves white standing quite well. Note that white's c-Pawn is immune. 14...♘xc3 15.♕c2 ♘e4 16.f3 ♖c8 17.♕e2 ♘c3 18.♕d2 ♕b4 19.♖ac1 ♘a6 and white's position is well worth the P. He now has an interesting sacrifice in 20.♘xf7 ♔xf7 21.♗e5 with a dangerous attack.
12.♘e5 h6 This is a serious error by the Grandmaster! He should have withdrawn the B to e7. 13.♘xd7 This leaves black's K-side in a shambles. 13...♕xd7
13...hxg5 wasn't any good either. 14.♘xf8 ♕xf8 15.♖c1 ♘e4 16.♖e1 ♖e8 17.♕b3 and white's active pieces assure him of the better game. In fact, Komodo thinks it's a winning (nearly 2.5 Ps) edge.
14.♗xf6 gxf6 15.♕h5 There is no way black is going to survive white's attack. 15...♔g7 16.♘e2 ...off to join the attack. 16...♗d6 17.♘g3 ♗xg3 which black cannot allow. 18.fxg3 ♖h8 This allows a beautiful finish, but there wasn't any way to save the game.
18...♖fe8 This prevents the coming R sacrifice. 19.♖xf6 ♔xf6 20.♕xh6+ ♔e7 21.♖e1+ ♔d8 22.♕f6+ ♔c7 and white has to take the draw. 23.♕f4+ ♔d8 and black has to allow it. (23...♔c8 24.♖xe8+ ♕xe8 25.♗f5+ wins.) 24.♕f6+ etc.
18...♖fe8 allows white to win as follows... 19.♖f4 ♖e6 20.♖af1 ♖ae8 21.♕g4+ ♔f8 22.♖xf6 etc.
19.♖xf6 ♖ae8 (19...♔xf6 20.♕e5#) 20.♖af1 ♖e7 21.♖g6+ Very nice!
21.♗g6 ♖f8 22.♗xf7 ♖fxf7 23.♖g6+ ♔f8 24.♕xh6+ ♔e8 25.♖g8+ mates next move.
21...♔f8 (21...fxg6 22.♕xg6#) 22.♖xh6 ♖g8 23.♖h8
23.♖g6! forces mate. 23...♖xg6 24.♗xg6 ♖e6 25.♕h8+ ♔e7 26.♖xf7+ ♔d6 27.♕b8+ ♔c6 28.♖xd7 ♔xd7 29.♕xb7+ ♔d6 30.♗f5 ♖e1+ 31.♔f2 ♖e7 32.♕c8 ♖h7 33.♗xh7 b5 34.♗g6 b4 35.♗e8 ♔e7 36.♕d7+ ♔f6 37.♕f7+ ♔g5 38.♕g6#
23...♖e6 24.♖xg8+ ♔xg8 25.♕h7+ ♔f8 26.♗f5 Barcza resigned. What a drubbing!
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