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Monday, September 23, 2019

John A. Hudson

     The first US Armed Forces Championship tournament was held in 1960, and continued until 1993, when the Department of Defense withdrew its support. The USCF and the US Chess Center supported the tournaments until 2001, when the support of the Department of Defense was resumed. 
     Emory Tate (December 27, 1958 – October 17, 2015), an Air Force Staff Sergeant, won the championship five times (1983, 1984, 1987, 1988 and 1989) and in 2018, Larry Larkins (an Electronics Technician in the Navy) won his sixth Championship. 
     In 1960 during Armed Forces Week, from May 15 to May 21, the first Armed Forces Championship was held at the American Legion Hall of Flags in Washington, DC. 

Final results: 
1-2) Air Force Captain John A. Hudson and Army SP4 Arthur W. Feuerstein tied for first with a +9 -0 =2. 
3-5) Czapski, Krauss, and Grande 
6-7) Giertych and Robinson 
8) Mott 
9) Moran 
10) Sobczyk 
11-12) Walker and Leuthold 

     Hudson and Feuerstein split the $1,500 prize money place. The money was put up by Thomas Emery, a New York businessman who had served in the Marine Corps during World War I. 
     Emery was a fascinating character, a man of many accomplishments. He was a good friend of Al Horowitz and Frank Marshall. Emery and Marshall spent many hours together talking and analyzing. 
     Emery’s main areas of interest were the military, his medical career and chess. He was from New York and attended school in England and sometime around 1910 he took an interest in chess and progressed rapidly. 
     Shortly after the US entered World War I, Emery found himself in Plattsburg, New York training to be an Army officer. An outstanding student there, at the age of 21 he was offered a commission as a Captain in the Quartermaster Corps which he turned down. Instead, he enlisted in the Marines. I have no idea why he turned down the commission, but as a 19-year old Navy Hospital Corpsman serving with the Marines, when I was promoted to Petty Officer (petty meaning small and insignificant) it came with an offer of a commission as an Ensign in the Medical Service Corps. I turned the commission down because I was young and foolish. Time brought about a change...I am no longer young. 
     Emery had a good knowledge of French and acted as interpreter. Somehow he was wounded in 1918 and was recommended for an award for bravery. Germany had formally surrendered on November 11, 1918, and all nations had agreed to stop fighting while the terms of peace were negotiated. On June 28, 1919, Germany and the Allied Nations signed the Treaty of Versailles, formally ending the war. Emery was discharged in August of 1919. 
     During World War II he pursued medical studies, but never became a doctor. He did have a connection to medicine through his grandfather, Brigadier General Charles T. Alexander, a surgeon under Custer and under Sherman.  Emery lectured on hematology, served as a Senior First Aid Instructor on Long Island.
     Emery was a strong amateur player and is best remembered for his support of both master chess and armed forces chess. He sponsored the first Armed Forces Championship in 1960 and continued to sponsor it during his lifetime.
    John A. Hudson (February 8, 1930 - October 9, 2012) was an accomplished player; by his twenties he held a Master rating...quite a feat in those days. He won the 1952 Louisiana State Championship, the US Amateur Championship in 1956, the Armed Forces Champion in 1960, 1961 and 1970, and in 1965, he won the California State Open. 
     Born in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, he passed away at the age of 82 on Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at Whatcom Hospice House in Bellingham, Washington following complications from a stroke he had suffered two weeks earlier. 
     His father was a career naval officer and most of Hudson’s early years were spent on the family farm in Clearfield County, Pennsylvania where his father had retired. He and his brother attended South Philadelphia High School where he was an exceptionally gifted student and graduated early. A cello player, he had a life-long love of classical music. He went on to the University of Pennsylvania, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Botany. 
     In 1951, following the outbreak of the Korean War, he enlisted in the Air Force and made it a 20 year career as a navigator in the Air Rescue Service and later in the Strategic Air Command as a B-47 navigator-bombardier. He was also a navigation-training instructor and served as the editor of The Navigator magazine. He retired from the Air Force in 1971, with the rank of Major. 
     Chess, cello and classical music weren’t his only interest. He was an excellent carpenter and electrician who enjoyed making home repairs and improvements. He was also an avid reader who especially enjoyed visiting book stores. He also enjoyed the movies (Peter Sellers films were particular favorites) and he had an encyclopedic knowledge of movie trivia. 
     After retiring from the Air Force he returned to school to pursue graduate courses in English literature at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors. 

Friday, September 20, 2019

Evans, Kramer and Shainswit: Unbelievable, Revolting, Unforgivable

     After the frivolity of yesterday’s post it’s time to get back to serious stuff and talk about the blight that has ruined modern day correspondence chess and has also become the bane of modern championship chess...draws. 
     In the 1920s Capablanca believed that within a few decades games between GMs would always end in draws so he enlarged the board and added two new pieces. Then came Bobby Fischer who turned his back on the old chess and only played Fischer Random, “The old chess is dead, it's been played out.” he said. 
     Back in 2013, I did a post on the 1948 US Championship that was played in South Fallsburg, New York. It was the championship that Andrew Soltis described as “The Largest and the Least,” adding, “It was the best of championships, it was the worst of championships.”      
     Recently I came across a letter to the editor, Montgomery Major, in the November 5, 1948 issue of Chess Life that was written by Richard W. Wayne who was the tournament director and at one time served as director of the Ventnor City tournaments. Apparently Major, a cranky character anyway, had castigated the TD for allowing so many short draws. 
     Wayne claimed no one in the chess world was more opposed to or more disgusted by short draws than he was and trying to place the blame for the short draws on him showed “a complete lack of experience in the tournament field.” 
     Before the tournament Wayne had discussed the draw matter with Fred Reinfeld and it was concluded there was absolutely nothing that could be done about enforcing a 30-move draw rule. If two players wanted a quick draw they could just continue to play “making farcical and ridiculous moves” or just repeat the position three times. 
    In particular, Major’s ire had been raised over an 11 move draw between Larry Evans and Walter Shipman in round three. The game is given at Chessgames.com but it’s 13 moves, not 11. Also, Wayne stated that it was Evans who offered the draw, but in the game Shipman (playing black) made the last move so one would suppose it was he who made the offer. 
     Wayne also stated that Evans had “a much superior position” so Shipman hardly had any choice but to accept the offer. For his misdeed, according to Wayne, Evans deserved “the most scathing criticism” that either Wayne or Major could offer. 
     Did they play 11 moves or 13? According to Chess Life's account it was 13.  Chess Life stated, "16-year old Larry Evans gave a sorry account of himself by offering a draw after 13 moves to Shipman. The latter, who should know better, accepted at once.  Chess play or horseplay?"  Also, Stockfish doesn’t show any significant advantage for white after either move 11 or move 13. 
     According to Wayne, even more revolting was the round 11 game between George Kramer and George Shainswit...absolutely unforgivable. Wayne stated that both players were much more experienced (at that time) than either Evans or Shipman and both of them were “in the thick of contention for one of the high prizes.” 
Shainswit in the Army (1943)

     Shainswit, a player of “tremendous ability” drew harsh criticism for having long had a reputation for his willingness “to accept a draw in the middle of the fight.” Shainswit tied for 5th-7th with a score of +6 -1 =12.
     As for Kramer, his actions were a “horrible exhibition” and his acceptance of a draw in the final position was “almost unbelievable.” Actually, the final position was nearly equal...perhaps just a smidgen of an advantage to black. 
     Chess is a unique game in that it’s the only one where the players can agree to a draw at any time for any reason and over the years there have been attempts to discourage draws, but none have been successful. In the first international tournament in London in 1862, drawn games had to be replayed until there was a decisive result. 
     In 1929 the first edition of the FIDE laws of chess required 30 moves to be played before a draw could be agreed to, but it was discarded when the rules were revised in 1952. 
     In 1954 FIDE rejected a request to reinstate the rule, but it did state that it is unethical and unsportsmanlike to agree to a draw before a serious contest had begun. FIDE stated that the director should discipline players who repeatedly disrespect this guideline, but it was ineffective. 
     In 1962 FIDE reinstated a version of the rule against draws by agreement in fewer than 30 moves unless the director approved. Penalty was a loss of the game by both players. As Wayne pointed out back in 1948, a threefold repetition came to the players’ rescue. Besides, directors wouldn’t enforce the rule...they no doubt understood that it was impossible. 
     The following year FIDE got tough. Directors had to investigate draws by repetition of position to see if they were to circumvent the rule. The rule was dropped in 1964 because it also failed. 
     In 2003, GM Maurice Ashley proposed that draw offers not be allowed before move 50. The 2003 Generation Chess International Tournament in New York City had a rule that draws could not be agreed to before move fifty; threefold repetitions and stalemate, were permissible at any stage. Thirty moves or fifty, it made no difference. 
     In the World Championship 2016 between Carlsen and Karjakin they were not permitted to agree a draw before move 30. No matter. Out of 12 games 10 were drawn. And, in the 4 playoff games, 2 were drawn. In the 2016 World Championship there were 12 games with 10 draws. The outcome came down to blitz. It seems no matter what draws keep snowballing.

     There have also been proposals to alter the scoring system so that a win is worth more than two draws, but they have also been unsuccessful. 
     Ecclesiastes 1:9 applies, I guess... What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. 
     One thing that made this tournament interesting was the fact that the wide disparity in playing strengths lead to some amusing miniatures and even instructive games. Instructive because they demonstrated how strong masters can so easily crush the not so strong masters. 

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Latest on FIDE and Anti-Cheating

It must be true, it’s on Facebook! 
Click HERE for details

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Mystery Player At the 1948 Tri-State Championship

     The Tri-State (West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania) Championship was first held in 1945 by Gene Collett, the West Virginia Chess Association Bulletin editor, Bill Byland, president of the Pennsylvania Chess Association and S. S. Keeney of the Ohio Chess Association. 
     The idea was that the top two finishers in each state's championship would be invited to play and if one of them could not participate, the state could send a replacement. The site of the event rotated among the three states. 
     Originally, the side events consisted of state matches, but full participation by all three states was hard to achieve. In 1949, a Junior event was started and in 1951, an Open Tournament was initiated. The Tri-State Junior Championship was a separate event until 1955 when it was determined that the highest finisher in the Open would be the Junior Champion. 
     Clocks: Because the 1946 event had a shortage of clocks, the following year one of the players suggested that the Association start a fund to buy clocks for the next championship, but there were no clocks on the market because production had been discontinued during the war. As a result, several players made their own clocks and one produced by the brother of one of the players was said to actually resemble those sold commercially. And so, the 1948 tournament was the first state championship where clocks were used. 

The final standings were: 

     The championship was played November 12-14, 1948 in Wheeling, West Virginia and was won by Herman Hesse of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania after a one game playoff win over Rainer Sachs of Cleveland Heights, Ohio. 
     Pennsylvania didn’t enter a team in the team championship which was won by Ohio by a score of 7.5-4.5 over West Virginia. 
     The state champions were Dietz (PA), Werthammer and Hurt were WV co-champions and Sterns (OH). The other players were the runners up in their state championship. 
     Rainer (Ray) Sachs was 16 years old and I could only find a couple of mentions of him. The first was in the January 1947 issue of Chess Life when junior players met at the Cleveland Public Library where on January 11th, John Hoy, Ohio State Champion, found going tough in a simultaneous exhibition and was forced to concede six wins and three draws to the juniors. Winners were: William Granger (Glenville High), Rainer Sachs (Roxboro Junior High), Alfred Robbotoy (West Tech.), Norman Saunders (Cathedral Latin). Richard Christopher (Cathedral Latin) and Jim Harkins (Shaker Heights). Draws went to Bernard Berkman (Grenville), Fred Bartell (Lincoln), and Donald Latnik (Fairfax Elementary). Old time Ohio players will no doubt fondly remember the venerable Jim Harkins
     The January 1954 issue of Chess Review reported that the Central New York State Championship was won by “former Cleveland kingpin Rainer Sachs with a score of 5-1. Equaling Sachs’ score but losing a play-off was Arthur W. Wood, several times titleholder of the Syracuse city championship." 
     Then I discovered there is a Rainer Kurt "Ray" Sachs (born June 13, 1932, making him 16 years old at the time of this tournament) who is a German-American computational radiation biologist and astronomer. There was no mention of chess, but considering the man’s professional accomplishments it stands to reason that he didn’t have time for it. 
     Sachs was co-author of the Sachs–Wolfe effect, which concerns a property of the Cosmic microwave background radiation. He and Ronald Kantowski were responsible for the Kantowski–Sachs dust solutions to the Einstein field equation. These are a widely used family of inhomogeneous cosmological models. 
     Sachs was born in Frankfurt am Main in 1932, a son of the German Jewish metallurgist George Sachs. In 1937 the family left Germany to flee from Nazi persecution and settled in the United States, so Rainer Sachs is generally considered an American scientist. 
     He received his bachelor's degree in mathematics from MIT and his PhD in theoretical physics from Syracuse University. From 1969 to 1993, he was Professor of Math and Physics at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB), and from 1993 he has been Professor Emeritus at UCB. In 1994, he was appointed Research Professor of Mathematics UCB, and since 2005 he has been an Adjunct Professor at the Tufts medical school. Until 1985, he worked on general relativistic cosmology and astrophysics. 
     With Hung-Hsi Wu he co-wrote the books General Relativity for Mathematicians and General Relativity and Cosmology. His contributions include joint work on the Sachs-Wolfe effect and the Ehlers-Geren-Sachs theorem, both of which deal with the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation. From 1985, he has worked in mathematical and computational biology, especially radiation biology. His work in radiobiology has included research on radiation and cancer. 
     Same guy? I can’t be sure, but it’s quite probable that he is especially since in 1954 Sachs won the Central New York State Championship and got his PhD from Syracuse University which is the right location. 
Rainer Sachs in 2002

     The two Sachs vs. Hesse games were the ones that decided the championship. As described in the West Virginia Chess Bulletin, Sachs had defeated Hesse in a difficult Pawn ending in their tournament game which was played on Saturday. It was adjourned after 70 moves. Sachs had claimed a draw by repetition, but it turned out that while it was the same position, it was not the same player to move. They ended up finishing the game in the wee hours of Sunday morning and it looked to be drawn, but on move 105 Sachs blundered and then resigned on move 108. 
     At the end of the tournament with both players tied, Sachs debated whether to stick around for the playoff game or let Hesse have the title by default. Elliot Sterns was leaving for home and told Sachs to stay and go for the title promising that when he (Sterns) got back to Cleveland he would call Sachs’ parents and high school principal and explain that he might not be home in time for school Monday morning. For his part, Hesse was willing to make arrangements for the playoff game to be played at a later date when it was more convenient. 
     Sachs stayed and the game turned into a rough and tumble affair that finally ended up in Hesse’s favor. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

No Chess Today

     Instead we’ll listen to Leroy Van Dyke (born October 4, 1929) a country music singer best known for his hits, The Auctioneer (1956) and Walk On By (1961). 
     Van Dyke was born in Mora, Missouri. He lived in Spencer, Wisconsin but graduated from the University of Missouri majoring in agricultural journalism. He was catapulted into country music fame in 1956 with his composition "Auctioneer", (co-written with Buddy Black) which sold over 2.5 million records.
     He wrote the song about the life of his cousin, National Auctioneers Association Hall of Famer Ray Sims, also a Missourian. Van Dyke had the lead role of a budding country music performer in the 1967 movie What Am I Bid?, in which Sims played himself as an auctioneer. 

Monday, September 16, 2019

Philip Richardson

Richardson in 1895
     Looking at Chessmetrics rating list a while back for the year 1901, I noticed the name of Philip Richardson who was number 13 on the list with an estimated rating of 2655. 
     Whoever heard of the London-born Philip Richardson (November 12, 1841 – September 29, 1920)? Research didn’t turn up much although John S. Hilbert has written a biography of him that was published in 2009. The book which contains 193 games is a pricey $44.95. 
     In the 1890s Richardson was considered one of Brooklyn’s strongest players. Originally from England, Richardson’s family settled in Newburgh, New York in 1852 before moving to Brooklyn two years later. His early interest in chess was the result Morphy’s popularity and most of his games were published early in his career with many of them appearing in the New York Clipper. The New York Clipper, also known as just The Clipper, was a weekly entertainment newspaper published in New York City from 1853 to 1924. It covered many topics, including circuses, dance, music, the outdoors, sports, and theater.
     Richardson, who also composed a few problems, was praised by George H. Mackenzie, the Scottish player who came to the US in 1863 and for 30 years was one of the best players in the country, when he wrote that Richardson was the most formidable opponent he met in the U.S. and sometime around 1880, Mackenzie gave Richardson the nickname of “the Stormy Petrel." The nickname doesn’t mean much to us, but, besides being a bird, the term “stormy petrel” is, according to Merriam-Webster, a) one fond of strife or b) a harbinger of trouble.
     Besides Mackenzie, in his International Chess Magazine, Steinitz also praised Richardson’s play for his tactical prowess. 
     Richardson had good scores against Eugene Delmar (+9 -8 =2), Samuel Lipschutz (+1 -1 =4), Sam Loyd (+2 0 =0 ) and James Mason (+5 -7 =1).
     Richardson and his brother owned a photography studio on Broadway in Brooklyn and given the necessity for sunlight for photography in that period, he would usually visit the clubs only when the weather was poor and he could not work. Although he was a founding member of the revived Brooklyn Chess Club in 1886 and most of his games were played there, he was also an honorary member of the Manhattan Chess Club which he often frequented. 
     The April 19, 1882 edition of the Journal of Indoor and Outdoor Amusements contained a brief sketch of Richardson. He was described as probably the “strongest of those American amateur players, who have never intruded themselves upon public notice by seeking reputation through display of their abilities.” The sketch continued: “He enjoys a national reputation as a player of the first rank, and...deservedly so.” 
     When Lipschutz and Richardson played their match in 1900, neither player was on the American team in the Anglo-American cable match of that year. Of course, there were no ratings in those days, but the estimated ratings according to Chessmetrics for the American team were: Pillsbury (2814) and Showalter (2664). They were followed by John F. Barry (2503), Albert B. Hodges (2555), Edward Hymes (2525), Hermann Voight (2580), Frank Marshall (2604), Samuel Bampton (2493), Charles Newman (2584) and Eugene Delmar (2444).
     Lipschutz’ rating was 2737 and Richardson’s was 2655, so clearly both players could have been included on the U.S. team. 

Saturday, September 14, 2019

First Anglo-American University Cable Match

     In other news from 1899, on April 21 and 22 the British universities of Cambridge and Oxford fielded a team that defeated the American universities team made up of players from Harvard, Columbia, Yale, and Princeton by one point in their first cable match by a score of 3.5 to 2.5. The British team took possession of the Rice Trophy, donated by Isaac Rice of New York. 
     Back in March the US team wanted to include students with more than five years standing to compete, but the British were having none of it. The five year limitation was blow to the US because E.E. Southard of Harvard was in his sixth year. At the time Southard was reported to be head and shoulders above his fellow representatives. In fact he was strong enough that he had been chosen as a reserve on the US team in the recent US vs. Britain cable match. 
     You’ve probably never heard of Elmer Southard (July 28, 1876 – February 8, 1920, 43 years old), but he was considered to be the most brilliant player who ever played for Harvard. A brilliant man, he achieved outstanding success in his profession as a neuropsychiatrist, neuropathologist, professor and author. Chessgames.com has only one of his games in its database; I suspect that scouring magazines of the period might turn up a couple, but they remain scarce. It was Southard who gave the Danvers Opening (1.e5 and 2.Qh5) its name which is named after the insane asylum where he worked. 

     On March 2nd, local chess circles received punch in the gut when 18-year old “boy chess expert” as he was described in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, William E. Napier (1881-1952) who had been studying music in Chicago, sailed for London aboard the RMS Campania. He was going to spend a couple of weeks there where he hoped to witness the Anglo-American cable match (not the intercollegiate match). After that, Napier was going to Paris and then on to Berlin where he intended to pursue his music studies after ascertaining which branch of music he was suited for. 
     The Daily Eagle stated that Napier was without a doubt the strongest player of his age in the world. He came to Brooklyn at the age of 13 and learned nearly all of his chess there where he made rapid progress. There were even some who considered his better than Frank Marshall. That was on the basis of a match they played in 1896. 
    The match was played in the Brooklyn Chess Club. Marshall was nineteen years old and Napier was sixteen years old. The winner of the match was to be the first to win seven games. At the time, Marshall was the New York State Junior Champion. Napier crushed Marshall by a score of 7 wins, one loss and 3 draws. 
     The Eagle claimed that but for an accident of birth which made him an Englishman, as a chess player he was thoroughly a representative of the United States. In 1905, Napier withdrew from the international tournament arena, became an American citizen in 1908 and began a career at an insurance company, becoming vice president of the Scranton Insurance Company. See Story of Scranton by Bill Steinke, page 67. 
     When the match began on April 21 there were six students from Columbia, Harvard, Yale and Princeton against six students from Oxford and Cambridge. The line up and results with the winners in bold. 

1. K.G. Falk (Columbia) vs. C.E.C. Tattersall (Cambridge) 
Ruy Lopez 
2. A.S. Meyer (Columbia) vs. A.H. W. George (Oxford) 
King’s Gambit 
3. C. Arensberg (Harvard) vs. L. McLean (Cambridge) 
Vienna Game 
4. L.A. Cook (Yale) vs. L. Hulbert (Oxford) 
5. W.W. Young (Princeton) vs. G.E.H. Ellis (Oxford) 
Anderssen's Opening 
6. W. Catchings (Harvard) vs. H.G. Softlaw (Cambridge) 
Four Knights Game 

    For the American team, Falk on first board drew snide comments from the Eagle. It was pointed out that Vienna had a world wide reputation as home to a school of young drawing masters and if New York harbored many more players like Falk, Vienna’s reputation would pass to New York. Falk, it was said, played only the Ruy Lopez and was always satisfied with a draw if he cannot get anything. The December 1899 issue of the Harvard Crimson was in agreement with the Eagle stating that "Falk is very conservative and seldom makes more than a draw against a good player." His opponent Tattersall on the other hand had a reputation among his fellow students as always being able to win; he tried his best this time, but couldn’t.
     Creasey Edward Cecil Tattersall (1877-1957) was a curator in the Department of Textiles for the Victoria and Albert Museum. He gave up chess to become an expert on Orential and British carpets.  For many years was an authority on endings and authored A Thousand Chess Endings.  It was said of him that if the time limit was a move a week he could probably win most tournaments.  Sounds like Falk-Tattersall was a good match up!
     On the 39th move Tattersall refused Falk’s draw offer and on his 49th move sacrificed a Bishop in order to Queen a Pawn. In the N vs. B ending that came about neither side could make progress and a draw was agreed to on move 58.
     Originally I had intended to attach the game between Meyer and George, but had a change of mind. Nothing much is known of those two players. George played in the Anglo-American university cable match in 1900 and defeated Louis Cook. After that...nothing. Louis Cook apparently ended up in Santa Barbara, California as there was a game he played in a team match that appeared in Herman Steiner's chess column in the October 9, 1938 edition of the Los Angeles Times.
Meyer in his college days
     Arthur S. Meyer is pretty much unknown except that he was an expert problem solver and the brother of Leonard B. Meyer (1881-1967) who in 1930 was president of the Manhattan Chess Club. Leonard himself was also an expert problem solver. The only other chess mention of Arthur seems to be in Chess Review in 1933 when he donated $5.00 to the US Chess Olympic Team. Both brothers were stalwarts at the Manhattan in their day. Outside of chess, Arthur served as Chairman of the New York State Mediation Board and he was frequently mentioned in New York papers of the day for mediating strikes. 
Meyer in 1937

     Instead we’ll take a look at the game played on board 5 between William W. Young and Gerald E. H. Ellis. 
     Young disappeared into oblivion at least as far as the chess world is concerned. A little more is known about Ellis and you can read about him on Chessgames.com HERE.
     Their game was described thus by the Eagle: After 7 moves the position looked somewhat like a QP opening except that both sides had full freedom for their Queen’s Bishops. 
     The verbal description of the action that appeared in the Eagle was, truth be told, quite wrong as the unknown columnist based his conclusion on the result, not on, as the Russians would come to say 50 years later, concrete analysis.
     Ellis first declared himself by castling Q-side where Young then directed his attack and by move 27 he had a promising position. But, a slip on move 28 allowed Ellis to plant a N on c3 which abruptly put an end to white’s attack and seized the initiative. Ellis hiccuped on move 29, but Young replied with an elementary blunder when he overlooked a N fork and allowed his opponent a snappy finish. 

Friday, September 13, 2019

Former World Champion Resigns From Manhattan Chess Club

     In an article appearing in the January 15, 1899 edition of The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, former world champion William (he had changed his name from Wilhelm) Steinitz resigned from the Manhattan Chess Club after a speech in which a member said the club was not a club for professional players. Steinitz took offense and resigned his honorary membership which was promptly accepted.
     When the word leaked out it created a big stir especially since two years earlier Pillsbury had resigned from the club on account of trouble with a member who had stolen his umbrella and the club declined to discipline the thief in accordance with Pillsbury’s demands. 
     Steinitz’ grievance concerned his perception of the club’s attitude toward professionals. At the recent club elections several new officers were voted in and the Eagle felt the decision to accept his resignation might have been different had it been left up to them and not the old guard. Steinitz was also in a snit that the affair was not made public by the club. 

     His problem stemmed from three years earlier when a report reached him while he was in St. Petersburg, Russia that a speech had been made at the annual meeting in which it was declared, “This is not a club for professional players. Any two gentleman may sit down to play a game of chess without prostituting it by playing for money.” At the end of the speech the speaker was loudly applauded. 
     Steinitz had sent word back to the club by Pillsbury and others that if he had been in New York at the time he would have asked for the immediate expulsion of the “learned judge” who made the speech. 
     In regards to the recent club elections, Steinitz stated that he believed that president Aristides Martinez and vice president Dr. Louis Cohn were the right men for the job, however, Cohn was critical of Steinitz for both resigning and making his complaints public. 
     According to Cohn, Steinitz was mistaken about the club’s attitude towards professionals. Cohn pointed out that all masters who had ever taken advantage of the club’s hospitality were treated with great fairness and consideration. 
     Cohn admitted that the club’s members were divided with some preferring to encourage amateur play instead of spending the club’s money on engagements for professional players. But, as a body, the club was fully aware of the importance of promoting big events and chess in general and in that respect professionals had nothing to complain about. 
     Cohn also emphasized that the remark alluded to by Steinitz was part of a long speech and the applause at it conclusion should not have been interpreted as an endorsement by the club. 
     Steinitz has pretty much been forgotten by chess history these days, but his contributions live on. Chess.com has a short article, Equilibrium, An Important Chess Concept Of Steinitz, that is worth checking out. 

10 Best Chess Games by Wilhelm Steinitz (annotated)

Thursday, September 12, 2019

The Immortal Correspondence Game

     Andrew Soltis holds the world record for giving out exclamation marks. At least I think he does for giving the following game 21 of them. Just so you can get an idea of how many that is, here is what 21 of them look like: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 
     The game has been considered by some as the Immortal Correspondence Game. Of course, what constitutes an immortal game is open to debate.  Generally immortal games are ones that are so memorable that they are remembered and enjoyed by players down through the generations.  As is always the case, engine analysis reveals flaws in the play of both sides, but that does not take anything away from the games...they are still classics and that is certainly the case with the following game. It’s a wild tactical fight that begins around move 27 and the advantage see-saws back and forth until, as Tartakower said, it was won by the player who made the next to the last error. 
     I did a post on the loser, Ramon Rey-Ardid a few years back (the game has disappeared from the post). The winner, Nils Johansson, was a Stockholm railway official who later changed his name to Tegelman. 
     Born in 1897, Tegelman learned chess in 1911 and began his first correspondence tournament in 1927. In 1930 he won the annual congress of the Swedish Chess Federation and earned the title of Swedish master. 
     Nils Johansson-Tegelman was a pillar in Swedish correspondence chess starting in 1929. During the Second World War activities grew under his leadership, but when he suddenly died on September 30, 1946, at the age of 49 after failing to overcome a long and painful illness, correspondence chess in Sweden was dealt a severe blow. 
     After his death, the Swedish Federation launched a correspondence tournament in his memory, in which it was mandatory to start with a variation of the Ruy Lopez which was not very popular, but frequently played by Johansson.  

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The Grungy World of Big Time Chess

       That was the title of an article by Fred Waitzkin that appeared in the June 11, 1984 issue of New York Magazine (pages 30-35).
     Waitzkin also wrote an article that appeared in the December 17, 1984 issue of New York Magazine starting on page 45 about the his trip to Moscow along with his son Josh and Bruce Pandolfini for the purpose of observing the world championship match and checking out the Soviet chess educational system. During the trip Waitzkin also managed a visit with dissident Boris Gulko before he left the Soviet Union.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

A Man With a Legacy of Losses

Our hotel marina
     Now that we are back from a mini-vacation things have returned to normal. Last week saw us leaving on Tuesday and making a 600 mile drive to Hampton, Virginia in spite of the possibility that we could encounter hurricane Dorian.
     Dorian was an extremely powerful, long-lived and destructive storm that devastated the northwestern Bahamas and caused significant damage from Florida to North Carolina and eastern Canada. 
     When we arrived in Hampton it was not clear how close the hurricane would come, but they were predicting damaging winds and dangerous storm surges. With our hotel being very near the mouth of the Hampton River, storm surges could have presented a serious problem. While the residents seemed unconcerned about the possibility, we were concerned enough that we bought some food to keep in the hotel room just in case. 
Interstate Route 66 near Front Royal, Virginia

     As it turned out, on Friday there was some gusty wind and light drizzle that lasted until about 7:00 in the evening when things cleared up and the storm was past us and headed for Canada where it inflicted even more damage.
     An amusing comment on Chessgames.com says the player whose game is featured today has one of the most impressive lists of lost games the commentator had ever seen for a relatively little-known player. He lost to Mieses, Euwe, Tartakower, Znosko-Borovsky, Smyslov, Najdorf, Keres, Larsen, and Kasparov...a legacy of losses anyone could be proud of! 
      “He” was Dr. Martin Christoffel (September,2, 1922 – April 3, 2001, 78 years old) of Switzerland. Christoffel was born in Basel and was Swiss co-champion in 1942 and won it outright in 1943, 1945, 1948 and 1952. 
     He was awarded the IM title in 1952, became a correspondence IM in 1989 and a Senior Correspondence IM in 2000. He won the Swiss Senior Championship in 1990, 1991, 1992, and 1994. From 1987 to 1991, he was president of the Swiss Chess Federation. 
     In January 1946, less than one week after the Hastings Christmas tournament, the newspaper Sunday Chronicle sponsored a Victory Tournament in London. The idea was to celebrate the end of the war with masters from all over the world playing. 
     It soon became clear that Botvinnik and the Russians weren’t going to show up and the participation of the World Champion Alekhine was protested against by Max Euwe and the Dutch Chess Federation and by Arnold Denker and the USCF, because of alleged Nazi sympathies. The result was Alekhine was uninvited. 
     The players were divided into two equally strong groups, A and B. The A-group consisted of California Champion Herman Steiner, Dr. Ossip Bernstein who had quit chess back in 1907 and the nearly sixty year old Tartakower who was the recent Hastings winner. 
     Also playing were the Czech Champion Karel Opocensky and Paul List (1887-1954), a Russian Jewish player, who emigrated to Britain in 1937 but never took British citizenship. Rounding out the list were Spain’s child prodigy Arturo Pomar, W.A. Fairhurst, British and Scottish champion, Reginald Broadbent, the UK Northern Counties champion, Harry Golombek, soon to become British champion and Joe Stone. 
     Joe Stone was born as Joseph Strachstein on March 16, 1906 in London. The British Chess Magazine has some games for him in 1933 as J. Strachstein. One assumes his name change was made shortly before or during WW2. He died in 1972 in London. The identity of the Czech player Friedmann is an enigma. See HERE 
     In the A Group Herman Steiner lost one game (to Bernstein), but still finished first a half point ahead of Bernstein. Tartakower was third. 
     The Group B consisted of Dutch champion and former World champion Dr. Max Euwe, US champion Arnold Denker, Christoffel, the former British champion 64-year old Sir George Thomas, Gerald Abrahams a strong British amateur and chess book author and Imre Konig. 

     Konig was a strong Hungarian amateur who lived in Austria, the UK and the United States. In 1938, he emigrated to England and in 1949, he became a naturalized British citizen; in 1953 he moved to California. 
     The others in the B Group were: Antonio Medina, the Spanish champion, Francisco Lupi, a Portuguese master and a friend of Alekhine, the Belgian champion Paul Devos, William Winter the former British champion (1935, 1936), Gabriel Wood, the London champion and Richard Newman the British Army champion. 

Group B 
Euwe lost one game (to Devos) and drew one (to Konig). Christoffel had no draws and lost three games: Euwe, Denker and Konig. 

1) Euwe 9.5 
2) Christoffel 8.0 
3) Denker 7.0 
4-6) Thomas, Abrahams and Konig 6.5 
7-8) Newman and Medina 45 
9-11) Devos, Winter and Wood 3.5 
12) Lupi 2.5 

     Christoffel’s game against Devos was a comedy of errors as both players were for many moves under the misapprehension that black couldn’t win white’s N with ...exd4. Still, it was an entertaining game with a nice finish.