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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Free Lessons from a Grandmaster

GM Igor Smirnov offers some interesting video lessons on YouTube. Smirnov has a website where he advertises himself as a teacher, coach and trainer and offers lessons.  I have heard that the lessons are quite good and the total cost is about $800 for everything he offers.  However, I would be wary of going to Smirnov’s site, Remote Chess Academy.  My antivirus software warns me the site contains malicious content.  LINK TO YOUTUBE LESSONS
Some of the free YouTube lessons include: Smirnov Gambit (Wing Gambit vs. Sicilian), Anti-Najdorf, Win Easily, 1.b3, Misguided Techniques, Calculate ‘til Mate, GMs Positional Understanding, etc.  The lessons average 20 minutes or so and are quite interesting.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


I was surfing the Internet and came across a website (which shall remain anonymous) that offers free downloads for commercial chess engines and commercial GUIs.  Along with the program download they also supply a serial number, if required, for the program. I was shocked at what was offered by this site; name a commercial chess program or engine and it was available for free download. Of course this is totally illegal, but I was curious to see what they were offering and discovered an interesting story.
Not only is it illegal and unethical to download such programs but I’d be afraid to do it even with my new Webroot antivirus software.  Who knows what kind of evil is lurking in those downloads?
One of the sites I was directed to was Megauploads.  There were other file sharing sites, but Megauploads was the one that grabbed my attention; when I went to the site and saw this:

The site was originally located in the US but the Feds shut it down in January and charged the owner with engaging in several illegal acts; that accounts for the relocation plans by the owner.

Megauploads was a file sharing site with 150 million registered users and accounted for about 4 percent of total Internet users including Kim Kardashian, P-Diddy and other well known celebs. Users of this site cost copyright losses of half a billion dollars and made an estimate $175 million in profits.

The site was founded by New Zealand entrepreneur Kim Schmitz and he has been charged in the US with copyright infringement, racketeering, conspiracy and money laundering.  For those who are not familiar with US laws, racketeering is obtaining or extorting money illegally or carrying on any illegal business activity.
Among Mr. Schmitz’ possessions are reported to be a Lamborghini, a Rolls Royce and artwork.  I’m guessing he has a pretty nice house, too.
Schmitz, born in Germany, was planning in January to launch a new site called Me.ga, located in Gabon on the west coast of central Africa, that he claimed would have been even better than Megauploads in both speed and storage space. In March, 2013, there is a possibility that Schmitz may be extradited to the US.
Schmitz hoped the move to Africa would keep him from the long arm of the US Federal Government and allow him to continue to operate with impunity but according to Business Insider the Gabon Communications Minister suspended the site before it was even launched saying it can’t, “serve as a platform…for committing acts aimed at violating copyrights nor be used by unscrupulous people.”  That didn’t stop Schmitz though because he immediately announced plans to use another domain.
Of course, there are always two sides to every story.  Schmitz said the whole affair is a nightmare and horrifying for his family.  Especially for his wife; she is pregnant with twins and this whole affair is giving here nightmares and she just feels miserable.
Schmitz is innocent of any wrongdoing…least that’s what his attorney says.  Schmitz himself claimed it is “complete nonsense” that he made any money from his site.  He justified the site saying, “I’m an innovator, I create solutions.  I create a website that is popular and that people want to use.”

Saturday, November 24, 2012

More Tactics

I had not played in a tournament in several years but couldn’t resist in playing in this event and this game was one of the last tournament games I played. I don’t remember the results but do remember losing in the last round to a player who would, in a few years, get his IM title.
This position makes a nice tactical study.  Evidently I could not figure out the consequences of sacrificing the B so played it safe and as a result allowed my opponent to get right back in the game.  Fortunately when he played 23…d4, I was able to see that the sequence leading up to 29.Bxd7 won a piece. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

ATOMICC Computer Chess Testing Back

      In August the author decided to abandon his engine testing and never return, but fortunately has decided to come back.  He says he will be testing “what I want, when I want, and how I want.”  Makes sense...it's his Blog.
      The latest test pitted Houdini Pro 3 vs. Critter 1.6a 64bit.  This test was conducted at 20 minutes per game with 20 seconds per move on a 6 CPU machine with a 2,048 MB hash table and endgame table bases. Looking at this hardware reinforces my decision to abandon CC play on LSS.  How can my laptop compete against this stuff?
       Houdini Pro won decisively: +6 -1 =3.  Among the free engines I still seem to get the best results with Houdini 1.5 64bit and I have tried most all of them: Critter 1.6a(64), DeepSaros 3.0, Fire 1.5 xTreme 64bit, Firebird 1.2 x64, Ivanhoe B47cBx64a, Komodo64 3, Naum 4.2, Rybka 2.3.2amp, Rybka 3, Spike 1.4, Stockfish 2.3.1 JA 64bit and Strelka 5.5 are in my “arsenal.”  I keep coming back to Houdini though.
       It looks like Houdini is still the best all around engine available

Comments Now Working

For some time the Blogger comments widget wasn't working, but I have replaced it with another one and now it seems to be OK.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My Bad Eye is Bothering Me

I have a bad tactical eye
       I’ve never liked blitz. The reason is because I have a bad tactical eye which is what you need for blitz.  And, not being good at it, I avoid it.
       Probably the main reason for my dislike of tactics goes way back to my early training and chess heroes.  When I was actually studying chess decades ago few books on tactics existed; most books concerned themselves with the positional aspects of the game.  Also, Botvinnik ruled the chess world and he was a positional guy.  And after wearing the covers off books like 100 Selected Games (Botvinnik), Reshevsky On Chess, Basic Chess Endings (Fine), Tarrasch’s Best Games (Reinfeld), The Middlegame in Chess (Fine) and Modern Chess Strategy (Pachman) tactical study just got neglected. 
        Because I never really put any effort into studying tactics, even now after fifty plus years, my tactical ability is at best mediocre...actually, if I'm being honest, bad is a better description.  I just finished two 10-minute games on chessdotcom.  The first one I lost when I hung a N in a nearly equal position.  In this game, I thought I played pretty well until I looked at it with Houdini…isn’t that always the case?  I didn’t realize all the tactics that were going on in the middlegame…typical of us rating challenged folks.  I hate blitz because it makes me look so bad.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Occasionally I have to delete spam in the comments section of posts on this Blog.  A few years ago the whole Blog got hacked and when you arrived on the Blog you were taken to an endless series of home shopping sites and the only way out was to sign off the Internet.  I got no response from Blogger when it happened so had to delete the site and start over...hence Tartjubow On Chess II.

I delete on the average of two spam postings in the comment sections a month.  I realize this is just part of the "system" but it still amazes me that a rinky-dink, unknown chess blog run by an unknown player that only gets about 1200 hits per month would be the target of this kind of junk.  Really, do these people have nothing better to do or are they just using my Blog for practice before they spam Susan Polgar's or Kevin Spraggett's Blog?

What a bunch of PUKES!

I just want them to be over!

…my LSS correspondence games, that is.  When I returned to correspondence chess in 2004 I played on IECG (without realizing they allowed engine use!) which eventually became LSS. To date I’ve played 120 games there with a +29 -28 =63 record. Unfortunately I am not strong enough to uncover engine weaknesses, my piddling dual core laptop is not up to the task of competing with heavyweight desktop computers and I do not care to rent computer time on the chess clouds, so I am reduced to letting several engines examine the position and then trying to guess which one is offering the best recommendation.  As my record shows, this method has not been especially successful.  In other words, my being reduced to playing a move an engine tells me is best has become pretty boring and there is no challenge.  That was not the case back in the days of Fritz 5.32 because sometimes you could outplay it!
        Another factor is time.  This latest CC tournament is played at the rate of 40 days per 10 moves with 45 days per year of vacation time allowed.  For me this is frustratingly slow; one opponent has already used three weeks of his vacation time and the wait between moves is much more than I care to endure.  One or two opponents move every couple of days, but most don’t.
       Short version…this form of chess has become boring and frustrating.  I’ve been keeping an eye on Queen Alice and it seems they have resolved their server crash problem, so I may return to playing there. So far I have run into very few engine users on QA.
       Interesting fact:  Queen Alice’s top rated player is somebody named “Pierre Bergman.”  A few years back I received a challenge from him and when I asked why he challenged me his comment was, “I like Americans.” That probably puts him in the minority of people in the world, but since we didn’t have any personal chats during the game, it seems a rather pointless reason.  He did ask me at one point if I was a certain well-known CC player; I am not.  Bergman’s QA rating is currently 4336, down from a high of over 4500!  He has a record of +5074 -89 =373; that’s 5536 games played since he joined in 2004 which is nearly 700 games a year. I think he has similar results on a German CC site.  How’d my games against this chessplaying wizard go?

In this position I am White and it arose from a Torre Attack:

I thought I had some drawing chances despite Black’s advantage (extra P, but they are all on the same side), 2Bs and better piece placement.  Houdini informs me Black is winning by nearly 2Ps.  24.Qe4? Thinking the trade of Qs would be to my advantage. Either 24.Rbd1 or 24.g3 would have held out longer. 24...Qxe4 25.Bxe4 Bc4 26.Rfd1 f5! (I overlooked this) 27.Rbc1 Bb3 Resigns I am going to lose material.

As Black in a King’s Gambit Declined, we reached this position:

Clearly White stands better here and his next move pretty much establishes the win for him: 24.d6!  The game continued: 24…cxd6 25.exd6 Nc6

And now with me tied down to preventing the advance of his d-Pawn plus not having any space, White commenced an attack against my K. However, I did manage to generate a “counterattack” of sorts and we eventually reached this position:

      Now realizing I was running out of checks and once that happened, he was free to finish me off with a K-side attack, I resigned.  His immediate threat is, of course, mate in two by playing 34,Rxh6, so the only way to stop that is to play 33…f6 but then he demolishes my K-position with 34.Nxg7 and there is no defense.
       So, who is this Pierre Bergman with a rating 2000 points higher than mine and a 95 percent success rate on Queen Alice?  Don’t know…don’t care.  With or without my 2300 QA rating, coffee still cost me 1 dollar a cup at McDonald’s and I suppose it’s about the same for him in England or wherever he is from.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

What Is Going On Here?

Here is a confusing mathematical paradox involving the chessboard.   Cut the board with three straight cuts (left). Then rearrange the pieces into a rectangle (right).
The area on the left is 8x8=64, but the area on the right is 5x13=65. Where did the extra square come from?!  Prof. Christian Hesse explains HERE

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Louis Uedemann

           Through 1938 the forerunner of the US Open tournament was organized by the Western Chess Association and, after 1938, the American Chess Federation.  Since 1939 the US Open has been run by the USCF.
           In the early years the number of entrants was small, and play was conducted as round robin with included preliminary rounds. Winners of the preliminary rounds advanced to the Championship Finals and Consolation Finals. Starting in 1947 the Swiss System has been used. Up until 1967 the US Open was a really long event…12-13 rounds played over two weeks.  Starting in 2006 it became a nine round event.
          What is considered to be the first US Open was played in 1900 in Excelsior, Minnesota and was won by Louis Uedemann. He also won the 1902 event, also held in Excelsior
           Little is known about Louis Uedemann (10 January 1854 – 22 November 1912).   He was born in Westphalia, Germany and immigrated to the United States at the age of 12. Uedemann was the chess editor for the Chicago Tribune. He developed a code that was later refined by D. A. Gringmuth, of St. Petersburg, a leading Russian problem composer, that adapted for use with telegraphs for cable matches. The Uedemann-Gringmuth code was first used in the telegraphic match between London and St Petersburg in November 1886
           In other events Uedemann finished first in Chicago, 1890, finished seventh at St. Louis, 1890 and tied for 4-5 at Lexington, 1891.  He finished third  at Chicago, 1903, second  at St. Louis 1904 (the 5th WCA-ch), took 3rd at St. Louis 1904 (the Seventh American Congress).  In 1905 Uedemann tied for 3-4 at Excelsior 1905 took fifth at Chicago 1906.
          He finished third at Excelsior 1907 and fourth in 1908. He was again third in Excelsior in 1909 and in 1910 in Chicago, guess where he finished?  If you guessed anything other than third, shame on you!
         Uedemann played for the Chicago Chess Club in cable matches against Twin Cities CC (1904), Franklin CC of Pennsylvania (1904 and 1905), Brooklyn CC (1905), and Manhattan CC (1905).

St Louis  October  1904
7th American Chess Congress
1  Marshall    * 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 ½ W   8.5
2  Judd        0 * 0 1 1 1 W 1 1 1   7.0
3  Uedemann    0 1 * W 1 1 0 0 1 W   6.0
4  Kemeny      0 0 L * 1 W 1 0 1 W   5.0
5  Schrader    0 0 0 0 * ½ 1 1 1 1   4.5
6  Eisenberg   0 0 0 L ½ * 1 1 1 1   4.5
7  Jaffe       0 L 1 0 0 0 * W 1 1   4.0
8  Schwietzer  0 0 1 1 0 0 L * 0 W   3.0
9  Mlotkowski  ½ 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 * 1   2.5
10  Schrader    L 0 L L 0 0 0 L 0 *   0.0

        According to the Edo rating list, Uedemann maintained a rating of around 2425.  While that may not be considered particulary high today, back in the day it was a pretty hefty rating.  That said, remember that rating measure how well one performs against the players in one’s rating pool, NOT absolute ability.  Still, Uedemann was a solid master.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

If you play chess, you are in fast company

Ben Affleck plays chess at the Bel Air Chess Club.
Actor Claude Akins (1918-1994) was an enthusiastic chess player.
Actor Alan Alda (MASH)
Actor Mike Farrell (MASH)
Lew Ayers (1908-1996) played chess.
Lauren Bacall, who was age 20 when she married 45-year old Humphrey Bogart, played chess. She was on the cover of the June-July 1945 issue of Chess Review, along with Bogart, Charles Boyer, and Herman Steiner.
John and Lionel Barrymore (brothers) played.
Actress Polly Bergen plays chess. She said that Gregory Peck taught her chess between scenes when they both starred in Cape Fear in 1962.
Humphrey Bogart. His most famous chess scene was studying a chess position in Casablanca. Bogart was a very active member of Herman Steiner's Chess Club. He was a USCF tournament director and active in the California State Chess Association. During WW2 Bogart played correspondence chess with troops stations overseas.  His rating was estimated to be somewhere between expert and master.
Charles Boyer (1899-1978) was a chess and checker player. A picture of him playing chess appeared several times in chess magazines such as Chess Review and Chess.
Marlon Brando (1924-2004) played chess for relaxation at home and while on the set of most of his movies.
Producer Mel Brooks took some lessons from US Senior Master Kim Commons.  Commons also had the entire Jefferson Airplane among his students. Brooks had a few chess scenes in some of his movies such as Blazing Saddles and History of the World: Part I.
Nicholas Cage. In 1999, Cage started having his son Weston, age 9, take chess lessons from Robert Snyder.  Snyder was arrested and convicted for multiple sexual assaults involving children dating back to 1983 and was featured on America's Most Wanted  after fleeing Colorado while still on supervised probation in 2008.  He was found in Belize, and on March 30, 2010 after pleading guilty, he was given an open (up to life) sentence. Cage is a member of the Internet Chess Club. Little known fact: Cage is the nephew of Francis Ford Coppola.
NBA basketball player Wilt Chamberlain (1936-1999) played chess and backgammon. He lived in Bel Air, California and once invited Fischer to dinner at his house, but Fischer didn't want to meet any other people, so declined.
Charlie Chaplin (1899-1977) played chess and in 1921, he met with Sammy Reshevsky when Reshevsky giving a simultaneous exhibition at the Los Angeles Athletic Club. Chaplin mentioned his meeting in his autobiography.
TV radio and talk show host Les Crane played chess and sponsored chess tournaments.   In the 1980s, he became chairman of The Software Toolworks , creators of Chessmaster 2000 in 1986. Software Toolworks was sold and renamed Mindscape in the early 1990s.
Bobby Darin (1936-1973) was about to sponsor the richest tournament ever, the Bobby Darin International Chess Classic, but he died during a heart operation in Los Angeles. He was playing chess just before he went into surgery.  His wife, Sandra Dee, was also a chess player. Bobby Darin's son, Dodd, runs a chess publishing house
Actor Henry Darrow (starred in the western, High Chaparral) was a good player. He played and won a few chess tournaments. He claimed to have played Fischer and drew a game with Boris Spassky.
Olivia de Havilland plays both chess and Go.  Her father was one of the first non-Japanese persons to be a Go master.
Actor Dustin Diamond (Screech in Saved by the Bell) has a USCF rating around 1400.  In 2001, he made a 4-hour chess video called Dustin Diamond Teaches Chess. He took a few chess lessons from Grandmaster Roman Dzindzihashvili.
Marlene Dietrich (1904-1992) played chess. She played several games against John Wayne during lulls in film shooting. She was a spectator at the 1945 Hollywood Pan-American Chess Tournament.
Tony Dow, film producer, director, sculptor and television star (Leavbe it to Beaver) plays chess.
Jerry  Mathers, Television (Leave it ti Beaver), film and stage actor.
Erik Estrada plays chess and is rated about 1400 by the USCF.
Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. (1909-2000) played.
Morgan Fairchild plays. She once hosted a charity chess event in Mexico.
Peter Falk was a spectator at chess events such as the American Open in Santa Monica. He used chess in some of his scenes in Columbo. In 1973, an episode called "The Most Dangerous Match" was about an American chess champion who murders the Russian champion.
Jose Ferrer (1909-1992) was an enthusiastic player. He took lessons and played chess at Herman Steiner's chess club (which became the Hollywood Chess Club).
Heidi Fleiss, Hollywood madam who went to prison in 1993 played chess and spent much of her time playing chess and teaching others. She claimed she won two city championships when she was younger.
Henry Fonda (1905-1982) played chess.
Zsa Zsa Gabor said she played chess on her honeymoon with George Sanders.
Ava Gardner (1922-1990) was married to Artie Shaw, and they both played chess. When she started beating him in chess, he stopped playing her.
Woody Harrelson (Cheers) played a consultation game with Gary Kasparov in Prague, drawing in 30 moves.
Ted Danson (Cheers) also played but said but said Harrelson was stronger.
Katharine Hepburn (1909-2003) played chess, often with Humphrey Bogart.
Kate Jackson (Charlie's Angels). She owns a chess computer and plays against it rather than watch television.
Actress Myrna Loy (1905-1993) played and was mentioned in Chess Life and Chess Review magazines and was a member of Herman Steiner's chess club.
Anthony Quinn (1915-2001) was an avid player who played between movie takes with anyone who was interested. Quinn claims that the only person to constantly beat him in chess was David Niven.
Basil Rathbone (1892-1967) played.
Man Ray (1890-1996), famous photographer and painter, played chess. He designed several chess sets and hoped one of his designs would become the standard for the World Chess Federation.
Keanu Reeves was a chess hustler in Toronto and played on his high school team.
Julia Roberts plays chess and has requested chess sets available in her trailer when making a movie.
Actor and restaurant owner Mike Romanoff (1890-1971) was a strong player. He played many games against Humphrey Bogart and in 1946 won $100 from Bogart in a chess game played at Romanoff's restaurant. That evening, Bogart went home, then called Romanoff to play one more game over the phone for another $100. Romanoff agreed, then lost the game. Bogart just happened to have Herman Steiner over his house, and Bogart's moves were really made by Steiner.
Arnold Schwarzenegger plays chess and in 2002 he played a friendly game with Kasparov. His wife, Maria Shriver, and their four children all play chess. He says that he relied on chess to keep him awake on movie sets.
George C. Scott (1927-1999). During the filming of Dr. Strangelove, he played chess constantly with director Stanly Kubrick. Kubrick won most of the games.
Will Smith is an avid chess player. In 1998, he began taking chess lessons from Robert Snyder.  Smith wrote the forward to Grandmaster Maurice Ashley's Chess for Success.
Actor Jesse Vint plays chess and in 1987 he won First Runner-Up in the World Celebrity Chess Championship held in Mazatlan, Mexico. In 1988, he won the World Celebrity Chess Championship at the Century Plaza in Los Angeles.
John Wayne (1907-1979) played chess between shots while making movies.
Director Billy Wilder (1906-2002) played chess.
Actor Guy Williams (1924-1999) who played swashbuckling action heroes in the 1950s and 1960s was a chess player. When he lived in New York, he spent his time at the Manhattan Chess Club and was a member. He lived near Central Park and went to the park often to play chess. He later played chess against a variety of computer chess programs.
Actor William Windom (September 28, 1923 - August 16, 2012) was an active player who was rated in the mid-1600's by the USCF.

Others known to dabble in chess: Woody Allen, Sarah Bernhardt, Richard Boone (Have Gun, Will Travel), Shirley Booth (Hazel)  Marlon Brando, Mel Brooks, Sid Caesar, Cher, Lee J Cobb, Charles Coburn, Bill Cosby, Macaulay Culkin (Home Alone), Timothy Dalton (James Bond), James Darren, Dustin Diamond, Marlene Dietrich, Hugh Downs, Mia Farrow, Jose Ferrer, Errol Flynn, Henry Fonda, Michael J Fox, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Ava Gardner, Lorne Greene (Bonanza), Sydney Greenstreet, Rex Harrison, Katherine Hepburn, Charlton Heston, Alfred Hitchcock, Bob Hope, Anthony Hopkins, Dennis Hopper, John Huston, Sam Jaffe (Dr. Zorba on Ben Casey), Don Johnson, Boris Karloff, Ben Kingsley, Stanley Kubrick, Jude Law, David Letterman, Peter Lorre, Myna Loy, Bela Lugosi, Marcel Marceau, Dean Martin, Steve Martin, the Marx brothers, James Mason, Walter Matthau, Patrick McGoohan, Ray Milland, Carmen Miranda, Yves Montand, Rick Moranis, Frank Morgan (Oz in Wizard of Oz), Paul Neuman, David Niven, Chuck Norris, Maureen O'Sullivan, Gregory Peck, George Peppard, Walter Pidgeon, Jason Priestley (90210), Dennis Quiad, Tony Randall, Chris Rock, Cesar Romaro, Jill Saint John, Susan Sarandon, Tom Selleck, Peter Sellers, Omar Sharif, Jimmy Stewart, Oliver Stone, Barbra Streisand, Rod Taylor, Shirley Temple Black, Spencer Tracy, Lana Turner, Rudolph Valentino, Ray Walston (My Favorite Martian), Orson Welles and James Whitmore.
Sports figures: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Boris Becker, Larry Bird, Jim Bouton, Jim Brown, Kobe Bryant, Jennifer Capriati, Reggie Carter, Bill Cartwright, Michael Chang, Sean Elliot, Roger Federer, Ron Guidry, Evander Holyfield, Bobby Jones, Chuck Knox, Ivan Lendl, Lennox Lewis, John McEnroe, Thurman Munson, Dale Murphy, Barry Sanders, Latrell Sprewell, Gene Tunney, Bill Walsh, Bill Walton, and Emil Zatopek.
Musicians: Bono (U-2), Sonny Bono, David Bowie, Enrico Caruso, Pablo Casals, Ray Charles, Chopin, Bobby Darrin, Neil Diamond, Bob Dylan, Sticky Fingaz (Onyx), Dizzy Gillespie, the entire group in Jefferson Airplane,  Grace Slick, Gene Kupra, Lohn Lennon, Sean Lennon, LL COOL J, Madonna, Johnny Marks (wrote several famous Christmas songs) Yehudi Menuin, Moby, Grahan Nash (Crosby, Stills, and Nash), Willie Nelson, Yoko Ono, Louis Persinger, Gregor Piatigorsky, Helen Reddy, Tim Rice, David Lee Roth, Arthur Rubinstein, Artie Shaw, Frank Sinatra, Ringo Starr, Isaac Stern, and Sting.
Writers:  Cleveland Amory, Isaac Asimov, Frank Baum (Wizard of Oz), Art Buchwald, Lewis Carroll, Cervantes, Charles Dickens, Dostoevsky, Arthur Conan Doyle, George Elliot, Goethe, O. Henry, Ibsen, Ben Jonson, Kipling, Sinclair Lewis, Jack London, Norman Mailer, Hermann Melville, Vladimir Nobokov, George Orwell, Edgar Allen Poe, Pushkin, Peter Roget (of thesaurus fame), Salman Rushdie, William Shakespeare, George Bernard Shaw, Isaac Singer, John Steinbeck, Rex Stout (Nero Wolfe), Tennyson, Walter Tevis (The Hustler), Tolstoy, Kurt Vonnegut, H.G. Wells, William Yeats, and Stefan Zweig.

Politicians:John Quincy Adams, Spiro Agnew, Yasser Arafat, Menachem Begin, Napoleon Bonaparte, Willy Brandt, Zbigniew Brzesinski, Aaron Burr, Jimmy Carter, Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Grover Cleveland, Francisco Franco, Benjamin Franklin, Muammar Gadaffi, James Garfield, Joseph Goebbels, Ulysses S Grant, H.R. Halderman, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Ivan the Terrible, Thomas Jefferson, John F Kennedy Jr, Henry Kissinger, Lenin, Abraham Lincoln, James Madison, Ferdinand Marcos, Karl Marx, Juan Peron, Richard Riordan (former mayor of Los Angeles), Theodore Roosevelt, Anwar Sadat, Pierre Salinger, Josip Tito, Leon Trotsky, and Woodrow Wilson.

Miscellaneous: Bill Gates, Bob Guccione (publisher of Penthouse), George Custer, Robert E. Lee, John Pershing, P.T. Barnum, Al Capone, Casanova, John Hinkley (tried to assassinate President Reagan), Harry Houdini, Timothy Leary, Lee Harvey Oswald, Willie Sutton (bank robber), Sigmond Freud, Voltaire, Billy Graham, Stephen Hawking, Robert Oppenheimer, Charles Kuralt, Hernando De Soto, Francisco Pizarro, Atahualpa, and Auguste Piccard.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sozin Sacrifices a Lot of Wood

Veniamin Sozin 1896–1956) was a Russian master, author, and theoretician. He advocated the Sozin Attack (White's 6.Bc4 ) against the Sicilian around 1930, which became popular from the 1950s, and was frequently employed by Fischer. In 1925, Sozin introduced the Sozin Variation (Black's 11...Nxe5) against the QGD, Semi-Slav, Meran Variation which since has become standard.


Front row (left to right):  Vilner, Levenfish, Rokhlin, Gothilf, Rabinovich, Bogoljubow, Ilyin Zhenevsky, Dus Chotimirsky, Romanovsky, Sergeev, Nenarokov, Verlinsky, Rabinovich. Back row: Freiman, Sozin, Ereteev, Grigoriev, Zubarev, Selezniev, Kaspersky, Kutuzov, Weinstein aka Vainshtein

In this game Sozin plays a brilliant attack, sacrificing his knight, queen, and rook.

Friday, November 9, 2012

My Three US Championships

     No, not the ones I played in, which is none. I did qualify for the 2007 championship but elected not to play. The way I qualified that year was rather curious. You see, that year the championship was a 9-round Swiss system held in Stillwater, Oklahoma. That was the year they tried selling entries in the championship. You could enter by paying a so called "patron entry fee" that was based on your rating. I don’t remember the exact amount I would have had to pay…somewhere between $30,000 to $50,000. The point is, I could have taken out a loan against the house or maxed out a couple of credit cards to raise the entry fee, but I could have raised the money, so I was qualified. What was weird about the whole thing was the patron entry fees didn’t go into the prize fund! I don’t know where the EFs were to actually go, but it’s a moot point because I don’t think anybody was actually stupid enough to pay it. Anyhow, I’m talking about the three championships I witnessed. 
     They were: 

Oberlin 1975 That was the 24th US Championship and World Championship Zonal. It was played June 7-26 in Oberlin, Ohio and I was present for all the rounds. 
1. Browne 8.5 
2. Rogoff 8.0 
3. Vukcevich 7.5 
4-5. Byrne, R. 7.0 
4-5.Reshevsky 7.0 
6-9. Lombardy 6.5 
6-9. Bisguier 6.5 
6-9. Tarjan 6.5 
6-9. Commons 6.5 
10-13. Kavalek 5.5 
10-13. Peters 5.5 
10-13. Mednis 5.5 
10-13. Grefe 5.5 
14. Benko 5.0 

     Walter Browne, and Ken Rogoff qualified for the 1976 Interzonal and Robert Byrne was also qualified as a result of having played in the 1974 Candidate Matches. Lubomir Kavalek played in one of the 1976 Interzonals; I am not exactly sure how he qualified though. I mentioned some of the highlights of this particular event before on this Blog so won’t repeat them here other than to reiterate the incident of Reshevsky complaining to the TD about Benko’s refusal to honor their illegal agreement to draw their last round game. 
     What actually happened according to Andy Soltis was: According to Reshevsky the night before the final round, he approached Benko with a proposition: If they saw that Rogoff was drawing or winning against Bisguier then there was no point in either Benko or Reshevsky trying to win so they would agree to a draw. Reshevsky added that if it looked like Rogoff was losing he would definitely play for a win because it meant he could force a playoff for the Biel Interzonal spot by tying Rogoff for second place. Rogoff made it clear by round 7 when he scored a major upset over Kavalek that he was a contender. Reshevsky also tossed out the promise that he would choose Benko as his second, with a nice salary of course, for the Interzonal. Rogoff played a quick draw and that’s when Benko refused; he needed a win to avoid finishing dead last. (my account of the incident) One thing that was odd was Bisguier, a very enterprising player, drawing all of his games. William Lombardy was a really nice guy; he always seemed to be in time trouble during his games; his games were boring...real boring. 
     Surprise contenders in the early rounds were Browne, Rogoff and local hero Dr. Milan Vukcevich, a scientist who lived in a nearby Cleveland suburb. Vukcevich's work, which had earned him a nomination for a Nobel Prize, had kept him from tournament play for years. But for this tournament his openings were well-prepared and he analyzed his adjourned games with precision. 

25th U.S. Championship, Mentor, September 25-0ctober 14, 1977 
1. Browne 9.0 
2. Byrne, R. 8.5 
4. Grefe 7.5 
 5-6. Lein 7.0 
5-6. Zuckerman 7.0 
7. Tarjan 6.5 
8-9. Christiansen 6.0 
8-9. Matera 6.0 
10-11. Ghizdavu 5.5 
10-11.Peters 5.5 
12. Shamkovich 5.5 
13. Soltis 5.0 
14. Fedorowicz 4.5 

     There was no championship in 1976 and there was some question among USCF officials as to whether one was needed in 1977. To be honest, this wasn’t a very interesting tournament and I didn’t bother driving the 45 minutes to an hour to see most of the rounds.
     Local players were the recent Romanian addition to US chess, IM Dimitru Ghizdavu and former Soviet GM Anatoly Lein. Lein was a heavy smoker in those days and I remember the odd habit he had of standing with his hands behind his back while holding his cigarette between his thumb and middle finger and tapping the lit end with his index finger. 
     I’m not sure how much the squabbles between ‘professional’ players who back the Professional Chess Association and the USCF had to do with a lot of ‘name’ players being absent. Also, it's possible the absence of a $700 appearance fee for GMs may have had something to with it. Invitations were also determined by rating and so some lower-rated GMs did not get invited (like Benko and Bisguier). Kenneth Rogoff was too busy because he was studying for a doctorate in economics. On the other hand, Russian émigrés Leonid Shamkovich and Anatoly Lein were a nice addition. Defending champion Browne, displaying his Fischer-like ego, midway through the tournament told a local reporter the other players were not motivated by winning the championship because they knew he was too good. So why did they come? Just so they would get the opportunity to play him. Needless to say, his comment didn’t endear him to his opponents and it must have especially galling to them that he won the tournament again. 
     Of course this event featured Browne’s usual complaint about the lighting and at least one game (against Robert Byrne) was played in a separate hotel room. I didn’t pay any attention to the lighting, but seem to remember some loud noises like chatter and banging dishes coming from the nearby kitchen. I expected Browne to commence wailing about that but he never said anything as far as I know. 
     For a time Lein and Shamkovich and Larry Christiansen (a new GM) were right behind Browne but eventually they all faded. Browne suffered a defeat in Round 6 against Jim Tarjan when Tarjan’s risky rook sacrifice turned out to be too difficult to handle. BTW, if you want you play over some games involving wild attacks with lots of sacrifices (especially exchange sacs) Tarjan’s games, which were always exciting, are worth a look. 
     Another interesting aspect of this event was the appearance of Dumitru Ghizdavu, a 28-year-old Romanian student who had emigrated to the United States shortly before the tournament and was invited to play with less than 48 hours notice. I remember having had to work a Saturday so was forced to miss a weekend Swiss my friend put on. When I arrived at the playing site after work I looked at the wall chart and saw Ghizdavu’s name and his 2450 rating which was pretty impressive. Back in those days Super-GMs were 2600 and garden variety GMs 2500, so a 2450 rating was pretty impressive. I think it was one of Ghizdavu’s first tournaments since moving to the US. 

1988 - Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania 
     This was the site of Frank Marshall's greatest triumph, 84 years before. This tournament turned out to be the closest U.S. championships ever when only two and half points separated first from last and no one was undefeated. 
     The venue was a large hotel that was really showing its age. Peeling paint and all.
     Lev Alburt and Sergey Kudrin figured in exactly half of the decisive game though. So how did they do? They finished near the bottom! 

1. Wilder 6.5 
2.-3. Seirawan 6.0 
2-3. Gulko 6.0 
4-10. Benjamin 5.5 
4-10. Rohde 5.5 
4-10. deFirmian 5.5 
4-10. Frias 5.5 
4-10. Fedorowicz 5.5 
4-10. Dlugy 5.5 
4-10. Kudrin 5.5 
 11. Alburt 5.0 
12. Miles 4.0 

     The real surprise was 26-year-old Michael Wilder who had been living in Paris as a professional player but had decided to return to school and study law when his late invitation to Cambridge Springs arrived. GM Tony Miles was playing because he had had some sort of a dispute with the British Chess Federation and had changed federations. His last place finish was disappointing. 
     Highlights of this event for me were: Before the start of the tournament I was hanging around in the lobby, met and had a brief chat with veteran master Ivan Romanenko who passed away in Greenville, Pennsylvania in November 1994 at age 77. 
     The biggest thrill was being the only spectator at the postmortem analysis of the Wilder vs. Miles game (drawn). I kept my mouth shut and just watched and listened. Miles was a character and Wilder seemed a little overawed by him. One interesting observation was that the younger players, after their games were finished, hit the hotel bar. All-in-all, this was probably the least enjoyable of the three championships I witnessed.