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Monday, October 31, 2011


       As you all know the latest version of Houdini (Houdini 2) is no longer free.  I am sure this probably has something to do with the downfall of Rybka.  No matter. You can now purchase Houdini 2 Aquarium (supports up to 6 cores and 4 GB of hash for about $60 and Houdini 2 Aquarium Pro (supports up to 32 cores and 32 GB of hash for about $95). What does this mean for the average player who just wants to analyze his games? Nothing.  And what about the serious CC player who is playing at the titled level?  Again, I think the answer is nothing.  The reason is because at the titled level they know enough about chess to know when the engine output is suspect.  Still, they will want the best equipment available, so they will make the necessary purchases.  So, who is going to suffer?  Only those CC players who rely solely on engine generated moves but most of them will not get within sniffing distance of a CC title anyway. They will lose a few more games to guys with better equipment and the slightly stronger engine. Both groups will continue to lose to strong IM’s and up who are using engines, even if the engines are a few points weaker.
      I’ve been reading some bulletin boards about various chess engines and the big brouhaha about cloning and who stole what from whom.  Mostly it’s howling at the moon because all engines have relied on previous advances by other engines.  Any time a computer programmer sets out to write any kind of program, he studies the source codes of similar programs. 
       In order to get a new patent on anything all you have to do is make a small improvement on the existing design and you can then market it. Ideas have always been built upon by artists, musicians, philosophers, scientists, engineers, etc.  This is not the same thing as forgery. A copy of a work of art that is claimed to be an original is illegal, but a copy is not. Musical compositions are often given different arrangements.
       So for people to say that for a chess engine program to be legitimate it has to be written from scratch doesn’t make any sense. Even if all the programmer does is take a previous program and tweak 25 or 50 points more out of it, then he has what in any other field would be a patentable improvement for which he would get full credit.  That’s how new discoveries are made in the scientific field so why are chess playing programs any different.
      The programmer of Rybka, Vasik Rajlich, acknowledged that he used many ideas from the open source program Fruit whose source code is easily available on the Internet. Then all of a sudden he was accused of cheating when the International Computer Games Association took the action after an investigation into claims Rybka was a derivative of other chess engines. It was suspicions of cloned engines that led to the formation of the ICGA Clone and Derivative Investigation Panel.
      This whole mess reminds me of the idiot on one of the chess forums a couple years back.  The question came up about a German book of Boris Spassky’s games that Bobby Fischer used in preparation for their match.  A couple of us old timers remembered reading that Fischer did use such a book and I even found a copy of it for sale on e-Bay.  The ad on e-Bay said something to the effect that this is “the book Fischer used in his match preparation...”  So what did the guy go berserk about?  He said that until he read something written personally by Fischer saying he used the book, he would not believe it.  He even went further and criticized the e-Bay ad by claiming it was fraud for the seller to claim it was the book Fischer used to prepare for Spassky.  Why was it fraud?  Because the seller wrote “...it was the book Fischer used...” and this guy was taking it to mean it was the actual book, the one personally owned and fondled by Fischer.   Some people will believe what they want to believe no matter how much proof you offer and no amount of proof will ever be enough.  And then some people just like to nitpick.
      The rule about writing down your move after you play it because to write it down before you make it constitutes consulting notes triggers my gag reflex.  Give me a break!  For years and years we wrote down our move before we played it (or after if you wanted to...nobody cared).  Sometimes, on second thought, a player would scratch out his move then write down another one, but NOBODY ever dreamed of calling it consulting notes and therefore cheating. Heck, I’ve even seen guys tell their opponent, “You forgot to punch your clock.”  It’s a rule violation but I never heard anybody complain.  I wouldn’t be surprised if these days there are those who would summon the TD and try to claim a win because their opponent distracted them.

The Chess Master and the Computer

       Perhaps chess is the wrong game for the times. Poker is now everywhere, as amateurs dream of winning millions and being on television for playing a card game whose complexities can be detailed on a single piece of paper. But while chess is a 100 percent information game—both players are aware of all the data all the time—and therefore directly susceptible to computing power, poker has hidden cards and variable stakes, creating critical roles for chance, bluffing, and risk management.

       These might seem to be aspects of poker based entirely on human psychology and therefore invulnerable to computer incursion. A machine can trivially calculate the odds of every hand, but what to make of an opponent with poor odds making a large bet? And yet the computers are advancing here as well. Jonathan Schaeffer, the inventor of the checkers-solving program, has moved on to poker and his digital players are performing better and better against strong humans—with obvious implications for online gambling sites.

      Perhaps the current trend of many chess professionals taking up the more lucrative pastime of poker is not a wholly negative one. It may not be too late for humans to relearn how to take risks in order to innovate and thereby maintain the advanced lifestyles we enjoy. And if it takes a poker-playing supercomputer to remind us that we can’t enjoy the rewards without taking the risks, so be it.

Chess Metaphors: Artificial Intelligence and the Human Mind by Diego Rasskin-Gutman, translated from the Spanish by Deborah Klosky, MIT Press, 205 pp., $24.95

Read the entire review HERE

Saturday, October 29, 2011

GM Alex Yermolinsky On the Sicilian

“Chessplayers study openings to get favorable middlegame positions…it is much better to take on some openings that will serve you well for years to come than to restrict yourself to primitive setups designed to avoid theory.”

“There is no ‘chess made easy’ advice that would immediately improve your chess.  Widely disseminated promises to introduce ‘new methods’, to reveal ‘secrets of the Soviet School of Chess’, etc. are no more than smart advertising moves.”
“You know what happens when you’re mastering the Sicilian Defense, for example…many hours of work are invested into studying the main lines…and when you finally feel ready you get no chance to show your stuff…game after game you get to see side variations such as the Alapin (2.c3), the Closed Variation (with g3), the Gran Prix Attack (early f4), and the Rossolimo (3.Bb5). “

“While each of these lines may present its own positional and tactical implications, they can be successfully dealt with…whenever I see this weak stuff played against me I feel my confidence growing…statistics only prove the point.  Black scores at least 50%in those lines in today’s practice.”

“As a matter of fact, Black’s life is much easier in any secondary continuation after 1.e4 c5, rather than the Open Sicilian…where his position gets challenged in the most principled way.  Don’t shift your priorities – prepare for real battles.

“This doesn’t mean that the modern sophisticated openings are for GM’s only and that less experienced players should stick with offbeat lines.  On the contrary, I urge you to play the most complicated opening setups, but on one condition: you should play them not for fashion’s sake and not because somebody told you to, but because of the resulting middlegame positions.”

If you really want to study chess the way GM’s do, buy Yermolinsky’s The Road to Chess Improvement and let a Grandmaster show you what and how to study. In his review of the book, IM Jeremy Silman wrote, “I should mention that it is primarily aimed at advanced players, but it could not fail to help those above 1600. For anyone looking to improve and to understand the modern game in a fresh way, I believe that this is one of the most exciting and provocative works to appear in years.”

Friday, October 28, 2011

Groningen 1996 Video

Smyslov singing, speech by Najdorf…interesting video.

85 Reasons Why You Lose

I was looking over Bill Wall’s chess page and when I saw an article titled Reasons Why You Lose at Chess I had to check it out! So, thanks to Mr. Wall, here are the real reasons why we lose somewhat updated by me.
1-2011 is what he said; I thought he was talking about the year, not his rating
2-after the game, I noticed my opponent had two bishops of the same color.
3-as Black, forgot which way the pawns were moving in the endgame
4-attempted to checkmate, but blocked by one of opponent's pawns, which was hidden from view behind his queen!
5-Chair was too short to see over the pieces.
6-backward pawns
7-bad move in a bad position
8-bank rank mate was overlooked
9-beans and bananas for breakfast
10-boss came in while you were playing on the Internet at wor
11-castled into it
12check was overlooked
13-checkmate threat was overlooked
14-confused MCO column 12, note 6 with column 21, note 9 and lost queen
15-counterplay was overlooked
16-created holes
17-developed my pieces too slowly or not at all
18-diarrhea during the end game
19-doubled pawns
20-drawn game repeatedly declined by my opponent at least a dozen times
21-endgame ruined my superior opening preparation
22-endgame technique is weak
23-en passant move was forgotten
24-everyone watching my game agreed I was winning except my opponent
25-exposed king
26-faulty exchange
27-forgot to say "J'adoube" and lost Queen while adjusting it
28-forgot to stop clock while looking for the TD to ask what the time control was
29-full moon
30-glass chess set pieces opponent brought looked the same, lost Queen
31-got too fancy
33-hallucinated or ghost affect
34-heart attack or stroke
35-hypnotized by opponent and a spectator named Dr. Zukar
36-I was winning on time until my opponent checkmated me
37-knocked king over while I tried to shake my opponent's hand in a draw offer
38-long diagonal threat was overlooked
39-lost on time while I considered my opponent's draw offer
40-lucky checkmate my opponent found before I could checkmate him
41-mishandled pieces
42-missed opportunity
43-neglect of center
45-opening preparation poor
46-opponent did not follow my opening preparation that led to mate
47-opponent had beaten a master the round before - with an iron bar
48-opponent had no bra and bent over the pieces too much
49-opponent sneezed on the chess set; said he had a contagious disease or bird flu
50-opponent spent too much time in the book stalls during the opening
51-opponent would not resign when he was in a lost position
52-opposition of kings by my opponent
53-perpetual check didn't last very long to avoid the 50 move rule
54-played the King's Gambit Accepted and lost a pawn early on move two
55-poison pawn or piece was grabbed
56-positional errors
57-queen and king looked too much alike in this East European chess set; lost Queen
58-removed a defender and dropped a piece
59-right moves were made, but not in the right order
60-rook sacrifice failed when he took my Queen instead
61-sacrifice overlooked
62-sacrificed a piece, but then forgot why
63-stalemate avoided
64-stopped analysis one move short
65-studied How to Beat Bobby Fischer and was unprepared for other opppnents
66-sunglasses by my opponent blinded me from the glare
67-tactical error; faulty tactics
68-team captain said a draw was no good for the team, so I resigned
69-tempo loss
70-theoretical draw doesn't work in practice
71-thought rook and pawn ending was a draw; he had the rook and I had the pawn
72-time control must have changed; thought it was 40 moves in 5 hours, not 40 in 2
73-time pressure by my opponent; too much distraction watching the flag rise
74-toilet break was too long; shouldn't have eaten 4 burritos and tacos at once
75-transposed opening moves
76-tried for too much
77-uncoordinated pieces
78-underestimated my opponent
79-unjustified attack
80-unlucky pairing with Nakamura; played blitz chess and lost
81-weakened castled King's position
82-went out for a walk in the fresh air, forgot about tournament, kept walking
83-wrong rook
84-zugzwanged my opponent, but then he found a way out
And I will add…

85-after analyzing my correspondence game for an hour, played my move on the server but didn’t check to make sure it was the position I had been analyzing.

Alekhine’s Hoaxes

Alekhine was accused of occasionally "improving" games.  According to GM Andy Soltis, "He allegedly made up games against fictitious opponents in which he came out the victor and had these games published in various chess magazines."  The most famous example is his game with five queens.

Chess historian Edward Winter discovered another game Alekhine allegedly won in 15 moves involving a Queen sacrifice at Sabadell in 1945. Some photos of the game in progress were discovered that showed the players during the game and the position on the board. Based on the position of the pieces in the photo, the game could not have taken the course that was given in the published version.

Alekhine had the audacity to publish the five queen game in his book “My Best Games of Chess 1908-1923.” For many years it was thought that this game was authentic but Alekhine later claimed that the game was not played against Grigoriev but against an anonymous player in Moscow in 1915. 

Dr. Albert Buschke discovered that the game was originally published in 1925 by J. du Mont as "Alekhine-N.N." Alekhine had shown the game to du Mont in 1923 and it was du Mont, who went on to translate into English both Alekhine's collections of best games, 1908-1923 and 1924-39, that actually was responsible for the game’s publication.  However,  Alekhine had close relations with du Mont so certainly had ample opportunity to correct the mistake but he never did.  Buschke discovered the five queens were merely a possible side-variation of a game that that actually been played in wartime Russia (Grigoriev-Alekhine, Moscow 1915).

Alekhine also faked his “Doctor” title.  After Alekhine's death du Mont wrote Memoir of Alekhine and claimed that after World War One Alekhine "managed ..... to renew his legal studies and to become a Doctor-at- Law of the French Faculty".  This was not true. Alekhine had studied law before the WW One but his addiction to chess prevented his receiving a degree.

Nikalai Grigoriev was a Russian player and a composer of endgame studies. He was born in 1895 in Moscow, and he died there in 1938.

His father, was a professional musician in the Bolshoi Theatre orchestra. At the age of eighteen, Grigoriev joined the Moscow chess club and played in the Moscow tournament of 1915.  In 1917, he was drafted into the Imperial Russian army in the First World War and was sent to the front. He was wounded and returned severely ill.

In early October 1937, Grigoriev returned from a trip to the Far East and Siberia, where he gave lectures and played. The NKVD militia on the train arrested him. Grigoriev was frail and he lost consciousness after the use of force and his throat began to constantly bleed. After an interrogation, the interrogators had to wash down the room. An unexpected illness then confined him to bed and severe complications required immediate surgery. As a result Grigoriev was severely weakened and died of lung cancer.

Black to Move and Win

Drag Mouse to highlight solution: 1...Re4

Ruy Lopez Exchange Variation Experiment

I didn’t feel like being subjected to a long, boring game, so decided to try the unusual recapture with the b-Pawn in this game and hope to set up a solid P-formation with P’s on c7, d6 and c5.  Then play the B to b7 with the hope of initiating a K-side attack.  The open b-file would be occupied with the R and cause White some concern about defending his b-Pawn. It didn’t work…not even close and for the whole game I was fighting White’s better development, more space and strong initiative. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Difficult Game

I recently won a very difficult game on Lechencher SchachServer where on several occasions I felt the engines were suggesting less than optimal moves.  In analyzing the game it was very difficult for me to determine what the true result should have been, but my feeling is that Black missed several chances to draw the game.  Black’s trouble seems to stem from the decision at move 52 to trade his 2R’s for a Q and P.  Despite the engine evaluations placing White at a nearly 3-Pawn advantage, my gut feeling is that by keeping the R’s on he would have made it much more difficult for me to squeeze out a win. This game is another example of situations where, in order to make a true evaluation of the position, you need a GM’s instincts…something I lack.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Some of My Favorite Chess Books

Throughout the years I have read many chess books.  Below is a list of books that I have (or have had) in my personal library that have stood the test of time and are worthy of owning even today. All of them were fascinating reading even if I didn’t learn anything.  I gave up trying to improve years ago, choosing to play for the enjoyment of it instead and the books listed below are a few that have added to the enjoyment.
Technique in Chess by Gerald Abrahams
Guide to the general concepts of chess technique and methods for using technique to plan ahead. 200 examples from actual play.

Positional Chess Handbook by Isreal Gelfer
495 positions, starting with the endgame and then covering the middlegame. This is the type of book needed by all players not yet masters. The diagrams are poor and the translation bad.

Pawn Power in Chess by Hans Kmoch
Original discussion of pawn play which isolates its elements and elaborates on various aspects. Somewhat difficult to read because of Kmoch’s made up definitions.

The Art of Checkmate by Renaud and Kahn
Classification of 23 mating situations, including Legal’s pseudo-sacrifice, the double check, smothered mate, Greco’s mate, the Corridor mate, many others. 127 games by Tartakower, Janowski, Rubinstein, Blackburne, others, illustrating positional maneuvers leading to these mates. Review quizzes test progress.

How to Force Checkmate by Fred Reinfeld
Not all Reinfeld books were trash. This one has 300 diagrammed positions, subdivided into situations of mate in one, two or three moves, introduce you to a vast array of checkmate situations. You will not need a board so this is a good book for travel and idle moments.

The Art of Sacrifice in Chess by Rudolf Spielmann
One of the greatest attacking players of all time was a great writer. Based upon 37 of Spielmann’s games, he explains the sacrifices which occur and classifies them. Spielmann was a Jew who escaped from Austria to Sweden and was forced to write chess books to make money.

100 Soviet Chess Miniatures by Peter H. Clarke
Fascinating games played by Soviet chess masters, taken from the records of the Soviet Chess.

500 Master Games of Chess by Tartakower, and du Mont, J.
Arranged by opening. Good introduction to the best players of all time and a good way to learn about the different openings. Great bargin.

Combinations: The Heart of Chess by Irving Chernev 
356 diagrams. This is another good book you don't need a board for.

My Best Games of Chess 1908-1937 by Alekhine
This is a great bargain of two books bound together. My Best Games 1908-23 shows his dynamic, aggressive, perpetual attacking style. He studied the endgame in order to defeat Capablanca in the 1927 World Championship Match. My Best Games 1924-37 are more show his great endgame skill. There are more than 220 games with his annotations. Alekhine took great pride in trying to find the truth in chess.

200 Open Games by Bronstein 
This is a treasure because Bronstein was the greatest combinational player of his time.  All games begin 1.e4 e5. When Bronstein wanted to win he was the best player in the world, and in most of these games he tried to win, but he also lost many of them. One word of warning: There are many factual errors.

Chess World Title Contenders and Their Styles by Danny Kopec and Craig Pritchett
Highly recommended! Title is misleading. Only one player actually became a contender.  87 games in figurine algebraic by Tony Miles, Jan Timman, Ljubomir Ljubojevic, Walter Browne, Robert Hubner, Zoltan Rible, Ulf Andersson, Garry Kasparov.

100 Selected Games by Botvinnik
This book is still one of the best individual game collections ever. The games were annotated by Botvinnik before he became World Champion in 1948. After that his play deteriorated.  Botvinnik gained his title because other Soviet players were forced to throw games to him. Personally Botvinnik was vicious and ambitious. Still, the 100 games in this book are excellent.

Morphy’s Games of Chess by Sergeant
300 games against such masters as Anderssen, Harrwitz, Mongredien, Bird, Paulsen and others. Annotations by Sergeant, Steinitz, Anderssen and Morphy himself. This is the book that every player should read because it shows how to beat the “average” player.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Critical Points

According to GM Arthur Yusupov, “To many people it seems that grandmasters simply calculate variations a little deeper.  Or they know their opening theory slightly better,   But in fact the real difference is something else.  You can pick out two essential qualities in which those with higher titles are superior to others; the ability to sense the critical moment in a game, and a finer understanding of various positional problems.”

The ability to identify critical moments in a game is important because it is those positions that will influence the further course of the game.  In fact GM Edmar Mednis, writing his great book titled How to Beat Bobby Fischer in which he analyzed Fischer’s defeats, always showed the position where he isolated the losing move; the move where Fischer missed the critical point.  Also, sometimes in GM analysis you will read comments such as, “Not a bad move, but it embarks upon the wrong plan.” Or some similar comment. These are critical moments.
Every strong player has the intuition that tells him when he has arrived at a critical position, bu,t as with any GM’s intuition, it is often difficult to define exactly when such positions are reached.  I think sometimes GM’s cannot explain such things…they just know.

You would think working with an engine would make it easy for us to know when a critical position has arisen on the board, but that’s not the case because engines, critical position or not, treat every position the same and calculate variations.  GM Jonathan Rowson spent an entire chapter in his book, The Seven Deadly Chess Sins, discussing how to identify critical positions or key moments.  Rowson wrote, "To miss such moments can be considered ‘sinful’ in that it usually results from a basic misunderstanding of the nature of chess assessments and of how they can and do change.”  He then went on to explain, “…it is very difficult, if not impossible, to give any clear definition of what a key moment, or critical position actually is…”  Still, Rowson went on to try and define what the circumstances are and how, when we see them, to know we have reached such a position.  His list:

1-You begin to see pending counterplay for your opponent
2-The prevailing trend seems to have stopped and you can’t see any way for the advantage (for either side) to be increased
3-You have lots of reasonable moves, but none seems to be outstanding
4-You opponent’s last move was unexpected or in some way unusual

In OTB games these are indicators that a critical position has been reached and a careful positional reconnaissance needs to be performed and the position reevaluated.

In Modern Chess Analysis, CC GM Robin Smith gives the following signposts that warn you that you have reached a critical position in you analysis. When you see these signs being given by an engine, take heed:

1-The current evaluation is saying one thing but the trend, or an engine vs. engine tournament from that position, is indicating otherwise.
2-Different programs suggest different moves
3-Engines are suggesting a move in the type of position they often do not understand.  This usually involves castling, exchanging pieces in the ending when such exchanges are not forced, entering positions in which there are highly forcing lines and moves that alter the P-structure.
4-The potential exists for creating positions of a type engines do not understand like fortresses
5-In theoretical positions the engine’s evaluation differs from that of GM’s
6-One side seems to have an advantage but the engines can’t see a way to increase the advantage.

When you see any of the first four indicators in your OTB game, you must reevaluate the position. GM Alex Yermolinsky discusses this, what he calls “trends,” in his book, The Road to Chess Improvement. Of course this is going to call for some understanding of facets of the game too many lower rated players like to ignore: strategy and endings.  It's equally obvious that average players aren't going to excel at this kind of thing, but it does help to be aware of such things exist.

In conducting proper engine analysis, if you see any of the six signs coming from your engine, you know it’s time to evaluate things from a positional point of view.  After playing on Lechenicher SchachServer, where engine use is allowed, for the past several years I can tell you the above listed six signs happen frequently in almost every game. Of course none of us are Grandmasters, so all the advice in the world is not going to guarantee we will make the right decision, but I can tell you a few things that may help in making sure you select the best line.

As several titled CC players have noted, the analysis must be broad before you start going deep.  That means being interactive with your engine and looking at as many moves as seem reasonable to you and adding them to the suggested engine move list.  When you have narrowed things down to a few plausible moves, only then can you let the engine evaluate the different lines.  And bear in mind a short evaluation time won’t do; it may take several hours and some shootouts using a couple of different engines from the position of interest before you can get a reasonably accurate idea of what the best continuation is. Sometimes you will just have to use your judgment.  Take the following position:

In this position after 1…Bc8, but it should be clear that Black is going to have a very hard time getting his B and a1R into play and that can’t be good even though the evaluation shows White is only about ½ Pawn better.  The surprising thing is that if you back up a couple of moves from the diagrammed position, the engines don’t even recommend White’s playing for the P-push to c6 because they do not see the position as anything more that slightly in White’s favor.  Run a shootout from the position it soon becomes clear that Black is reduced to complete passivity and White quickly establishes a decisive superiority. 2…Be8 fared no better.  Black must search for a continuation earlier in the game that does not allow White to advance his P to c6 unless he is content to hope that his opponent relies solely on engine suggestions and avoids pushing the P to c6.  Of course if it turns out that White does some interactive analysis on his own and discovers the P-push, Black will be in serious trouble.  So even with engines it is possible to play what NM Dan Heisman calls “hope chess.”  You play a move and hope your opponent doesn’t find the best reply.  It also emphasizes the point that even engine analysis requires some human input and that can be a valuable learning experience even for us non-GM’s,

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Bratko-Kopec Test

The Bratko-Kopec Test was designed by Dr. Ivan Bratko and Dr. Danny Kopec in 1982 to evaluate human or machine chess ability based on the presence or absence of certain knowledge (i.e. Master, Expert, Novice, etc). This test has been a standard for nearly 20 years in computer chess. Experience has shown it very reliable in corresponding to the chess rating of humans and machines.

There are 24 positions. You are given 2 minutes to select up to 4 preferred moves (in priority order) for each position. Each position (except two) is deemed to have one best move. Scoring depends upon this priority:  Take the test

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Man in the Red Beret

      Read an interesting article on a colorful chess master named Jude Acers. Acers is known for playing against all comers in the New Orleans Gazebo restaurant and for wearing his red beret.  Acers is a great showman and used to tour the country giving simultaneous exhibitions, twice holding the world record for having played the most opponents in a simultaneous exhibition.
      His USCF rating was 2399, just one point shy of a Senior Master title.  He got his rating mostly by playing matches against players who were rated far, far below him. This led the USCF Executive Director Ed Edmondson to freeze Acers rating at 2399 until he played in an open tournament; a mandate with which Acers never complied.  Acers hadn’t played in a tournament for nearly 40 years when he entered the World Senior Championship in 2007 and emerged with a performance rating of 2289.
      Acers barely survived Hurricane Katrina and lived in a displaced persons camp for some time but as New Orleans recovered, he resumed his customary chess table in the French Quarter.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Balabaev vs. Smith

      The most helpful book I have is CC GM Robin Smith’s “Modern Chess Analysis” which, though badly outdated, still gives good useful advice on conducting engine analysis.  While browsing the book the other day I came across the following interesting game and Smith’s analysis.
       In the book, Smith played back in the days of Fritz 5, so much of his commentary is no longer valid because of the great increase in strength of today’s engines.  Still, if you have ever played over GM games with an engine you will occasionally find annotations where their evaluation does not agree with what the engine is telling you.  When that happens, my advice is: believe the GM.
      In the book Smith describes how in those days using multiple engines, he let them run for hours, or sometimes overnight, and played engine vs. engine tournaments to help him in search for hidden ideas, flaws and such like in his games.  He also pointed out many cases in which engine evaluations were just plain wrong. That’s still the case today even with much stronger engines.  At the upper levels of CC play, those who rely solely on engine generated moves will lose nearly all their games against opponents who are of at least IM strength and who are also using an engine.
       In this game, it was interesting to compare Smith’s notes to the output of today’s strong engines.  For this game I used Houdini, Critter and Spike, but was unable to find any flaws in Smith’s analysis.  One thing I did notice was that his claim that Black was winning could not be substantiated because, just like in Smith’s case, the engines showed an advantage for Black but White was still able to hold the draw.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

More old Photos

Old Photo

I couldn’t resist showing this undated photo of a simultaneous exhibition by Samueal Reshevsky held in Cleveland, Ohio. On the left is Reshevsky’s father, Jacob Rzeschewski and on the right Charles Azenberg, the Reshevsky’s secretary and manager. Reshevsky scored +17 -1 =2.  The loss came as a result of  adjudication after he had left to catch the midnight train for New York City.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Raymond Weinstein

The story of International Master Raymond Weinstein (born April 25, 1941) is a tragic one.

Weinstein was born in Brooklyn, New York and attended Erasmus Hall High School where he was two grades ahead of Bobby Fischer. 
 Erasmus Hall High School
He won the 1958 U.S. Junior Chess Championship and played in the U.S. Championship five times, played for the American team that won the 1960 World Student Team Championship.  In the latter event he tied for the gold medal on board 3. Weinstein was awarded his IM title in 1962. 

His best tournament result was in the 1960-61 U.S. Championship when he finished third, behind Bobby Fischer and William Lombardy.  This result qualified him to play in the Interzonal held in Stockholm  in 1962, but he did not play.  His last event was the 1963-1964 U.S. Championship where had the unusual result of 5 wins, 6 loses and no draws.  He never played again.  In 1963, Weinstein graduated from Brooklyn College with a degree in psychology and went to Amsterdam to attend graduate school.
In describing his play the British Chess Magazine wrote that he had the “killer instinct.”  Unfortunately, the same could be said for his away from the board personality.

While in Amsterdam he was studying under the Dutch psychology professor and International Master Johan Barendregt whom he assaulted.  As a result of that incident Weinstein was deported to the U.S. where he was detained in a half-way house.  While staying in the half-way house, he slit his 83-year-old roommate’s throat with a razor when the old man made derogatory remarks about Weinstein’s mother who was also institutionalized.  Weinstein was deemed incapable to stand trial and was sent to the Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center on Manhattan’s Wards Island where he remains.
Author and chess activist Sam Sloan visited Weinstein in 1996 and described him as nothing like the person Sloan knew in their days as junior players. He described Weinstein as obese and having a habit of rubbing the side or underneath his nose.  During the 45 minutes Sloan spent with him, Weinstein did not utter a single word and stared blankly at Sloan the entire time.  When Sloan spoke of Kasparov, Karpov, Fischer, Anand and other top grandmasters Weinstein gave no recognition that he even knew what Sloan was talking about. The visit consisted mostly of long periods of silence and when visiting hours were over Weinstein got up and went to the attendant and told her rather heatedly that he wanted to go back to his ward.

Weinstein was an important historical figure in U.S. chess and his life was a tragedy, but he deserves to be recognized for his achievements during his all too brief career. In the following game he defeats British IM Robert Wade.