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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Play Like Bobby Fischer…Really!

Yes, you can play like Fischer.  I’m not talking about making Fischer-like moves on the board, but when he was actually playing a game, Fischer’s conduct was always impeccable.  And it is possible to emulate Fischer in this area.
I often see complaints on forums about opponents taking advantage of glitches in the systems like lag, etc., rude and vulgar talk, accusations of cheating, abandoning games that are lost, dragging out lost games as long as possible, you name it.  My observation is that most of this despicable behavior comes from lower rated players.  Personally, I have never experienced such conduct by higher rated players.  Over the years I have played titled players and US Championship competitors in correspondence play and their behavior has always been above reproach.  Even after I, with my embarrassingly low rating, defeated one of the country’s top ranked correspondence players (that was many years ago) and knocked him out of the top ten, he was very gracious.
So, there follows a code of conduct adapted from J. Franklin Campbell’s excellent article entitled Good Correspondence Chess Etiquette that was published in Chess Mail way back in 1996.  Campbell’s article can also apply to server games as well as correspondence.
There are many motivations for playing correspondence chess. One is to play outstanding chess. Another is to experience the intense competition available through CC events. True chess enthusiasts can also enjoy the special pleasure of sharing our enthusiasm with fellow competitors. This pleasure is at its best when both players follow good rules of CC etiquette. It is important to show the proper respect and consideration for our opponents.

Here are a few suggestions for the conduct of a CC game. Some are fairly obvious. A few are personal and may not find universal agreement. Use this list as a starting point and form your own conclusions about proper CC etiquette.

Respect your opponent
Chatting can be interesting but avoid subjects such as politics and religion.

Respond to correspondence
When an opponent makes a comment feel free to reply, but if it is obvious your opponent does not want to chat, then don’t insist on it.

Play strictly by the rules
It is not bad sportsmanship to expect your opponents to play by the rules, and you should do the same without question. If your opponent oversteps the time limit, do not hesitate to claim the win. Likewise, if you violate the time control and your opponent claims the win, loss of the game is your fault, not his.

If site rules do not allow for engine use, then don’t use one.  If engine use is allowed, it is not cheating to use one.  If engine use is not allowed and you suspect your opponent is using one, don’t rail at him; use the proper reporting procedure and let the site admins handle the problem.

Don’t whine that engine users are not learning anything because people who use engines illegally are not trying to learn anything; they are trying to win the game by any means available.

If you are using correspondence games to hone your OTB skills and choose not to shift pieces when analyzing, use opening books or endgame manuals, etc. that is your choice.  If your opponent is using books, that is his choice.  Books have been allowed in correspondence chess from the beginning and no correspondence organization has rules against their use.

Taking advantage of mistakes
There is absolutely nothing improper about taking advantage of an opponent's mistake. I have played on a site that allowed takebacks and if an opponent asked, I usually gave them one because I didn’t care about the results.  On most sites this is a non-issue because takebacks are not possible.

Send a final message
When the game is over, regardless of the result, send a final note.  There’s nothing wrong with sending a message saying well-played, thanks for the game, good luck in the rest of the tournament, or on some sites, sending a handshake, etc.

Don’t comment on your opponent’s mistakes
If you make a terrible move don’t crow about how it was a mouse slip or you were analyzing the wrong position and confirmed your move without looking at the board.  Yes, it happens; I’ve done it.

If you opponent makes a howler, don’t say anything.  However, I don’t see anything wrong with telling an opponent when he made a great move.

Do not ask your opponent to resign
It is always annoying when an opponent plays on in a lost position especially if they drag things out by waiting until the last minute to move but it is never appropriate to ask an opponent to resign. As Campbell put it, “In this case you should let your chess moves do your talking.”

Remember, especially if you are playing a low rated opponent, he may not realize his position is hopelessly lost.

Playing on in a bad position
If you feel you can learn something, still have a defensive resource, the position is complex or can be made complex or you are unsure that your opponent really has a won game, then by all means play on!  But, if you are totally busted, man up and resign.

Avoid analyzing the current game
Vague general comments are OK, but avoid listing possible variations or giving detailed evaluations.

Silent withdrawal
The worse thing a correspondence player can do is to disappear without trace. If you choose to quit for any reason you must notify your opponents and tournament secretaries. Of course there are exceptions to this rule where it will not be possible to notify everybody that you cannot continue, but they are exceptional. 

Remember the "Golden Rule"
As Campbell put it, “In your correspondence, treat your opponent as you would like to be treated. We are all friends sharing this wonderful experience that is called correspondence chess.”

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Frederick D. Yates

       Frederick Dewhurst Yates (January 1884–November 1932, London) won the British Championship six times. He was an accountant by profession but in 1909 abandoned accounting in favor of becoming a professional chess player and journalist.  He won the British Championship title in 1913, 1914, 1921, 1926, 1928 and 1931.  He was known for his tenacious and sharp style. Yates was also a good pianist.
       His record in international tournaments was not as stellar. He often defeated stronger opponents but then lost to those at the bottom. He never won a first prize in a great international tournament, often finishing in the lower half, but he is remembered for some of his wins against the greats of his day. This lack of consistency was attributed to poor health and little stamina. A constant hacking cough went unchecked because insufficient funds did not allow him to follow his doctor’s advice and move to a warmer climate.  Another likely reason for his spotty results was that he frequently combined his job as a journalist with that of a tournament participant, reporting on the tournaments in which he was playing.
       A number of his contemporaries believed Yates had the talent to be among the world championship contenders had his circumstances been different. Still, he defeated Alekhine at Carlsbad in 1923 won the brilliancy prize and his win against Dr. Vidmar at San Remo in 1930 was described by Alekhine as the finest game played since WW1.
       Yates was the chess columnist for the Manchester Guafrdian and co-authored (with William Winter) Modern Master Play.  He also covered two world championship matches: Alekhine vs. Capablanca and Alekhine vs. Bogoljubow.  After the great New York 1924 tournament where he finished in ninth place (out of 11 players) not much was heard from Yates.
      On November 11th, 1932, Yates was found dead in his apartment from asphyxiation due to a leaky gas fitting. In Edward Lasker’s enjoyable book Chess Secrets I Learned from the Masters he wrote that during WW1 Yates had committed suicide for financial reasons, adding “He had probably been too modest to ask British chessplayers for help.”
      Lasker’s account was totally wrong. The coroner reported a few days after Yates’ death that the natural gas fittings in his room were turned off but there had been a gas leak.  The gas company stated an obsolete fitting attached to the meter in the room was to blame.  The fitting was apparently accidentally dislodged resulting in Yates’ accidental death.  He was 48 years old.
       The British Chess Magazine of December,  1932 reported Yates was last seen alive in the evening by a friend a couple of days before his death.  On a Friday morning the smell of gas was coming from his room and the door was broken open and Yates was found dead in bed.
      Yates’ financial circumstances were not good and several 1933 issues of Chess World contained arguments concerning British player’s lack of support for Yates. W.H. Watts wrote, ... we were so infatuated by our own pettifogging antics over the chess board that we failed to see our Champion was starving. We could not see that poor timid Yates was literally dying in our midst, too proud to tell us so himself. The very name Yates will be forever a shameful memory in the annals of British Chess.”
Sidebar: Watts' comment brings up a question.  Do we chess players owe Grandmasters a living?  I was told by an “anonymous source” that when a certain Hungarian Grandmaster emigrated to the US in 1958 and landed in Cleveland, Ohio, he got in a snit and left town because the local chess club would not hire him as a manager and thereby allow him to be free to play chess without having to worry about income.  True or not, I can’t say.  Personally I would not be willing to work like a dog every day and then contribute a portion of my income (directly or indirectly) just so somebody can sit around and play chess, especially when there have been many top chess players that have been successful in careers outside of chess. It can be done.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Strange Adjudication Policy on LSS

      I have been following a forum discussion at Lechenicher SchachServer about their policy on adjudications which I find rather strange. As you are likely aware, LSS has no policy against engine use (except in ‘No Engine tournaments’) and just about everyone except very low rated players use them.

      The question was asked if it was useful to send in an analysis of a forfeited game when you think you have decent winning chances. The answer surprised me; it was: ‘No, it is not useful.’ It was added that ‘as soon as you refer to an engine analysis, your adjudication is rejected.’ Also Nalimov Table Bases are an exception to the ‘No-Engine-Analysis’ because they are viewed as being equal to an end game book.
      The explanation went on that ‘you need to explain why you think you win. Copy and pasting an engine analysis is not showing that you have understood the position.’ What they expect is that you will explain something like, ‘I will create an outside passed Pawn which will eventually Queen.’ It was also added that the adjudicator will be an LSS player rated over 2200.
      Funny…99 percent of the players use engines on the site but engine analysis is unacceptable to prove a win! Houdini 2 according to their website says, 'The engine evaluations have been carefully recalibrated so that +1.00 pawn advantage gives a 80% chance of winning the game against an equal opponent at blitz time control. At +2.00 the engine will win 95% of the time, and at +3.00 about 99% of the time. If the advantage is +0.50, expect to win nearly 50% of the time.' So if Houdini shows you have a 2.oo Pawn advantage I would assume that even at correspondence time controls your winning chances are quite good, but it is meaningless to submit it as proof you have a winning position. You have to speak in generalities, not actual analysis.
      In many cases engine users don’t know why the engine evaluates a position at a certain score nor can they explain why one side stands better or even the winning process.  Naturally when you are dealing in generalities on the chess board there will be exceptions. That is one thing today’s GMs do NOT rely on…general principles. They rely on what the old Soviets writers liked to call ‘concrete analysis’ but LSS will not accept such.
      Also the fact they use players rated over 2200 (LSS) doesn’t mean much because it is possible that as engine users themselves they won’t understand the position any better than the person submitting the request. It was pointed out that the adjudicator will always try to find the best answer for your opponent. How is he going to do that? Probably with an engine.
      Seems like a rather odd policy that a site that allows engine use won’t accept engine analysis to prove you have a win and thereby gain a few rating points.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Grob micro-game

I play the Grob Attack from time to time, usually against lower rated players because very often they see their center and the b-Pawn under attack from the B on g2, P on c4 and Q on b3 and get confused with results similar to those seen here.  The Grob is a tactical booger that is a lot of fun to play but…I remember playing it years ago against an unknown opponent who I later found out was a Canadian Province Champion.  I found that out after he wiped me off the board when I played 1.g4, so ever since then I don’t play it against Experts and Masters.

Free Chess Book Downloads – Danger!

      Some sites like 4Shared have cracked down on downloads of chess (actually, all) books and other material.   In the past you could search for copies of scanned chess books and download them in pdf or djvu format...illegal, of course.  4shared is a site where you can store files like an extra hard drive, but you can also provide a link that allows anyone to download one of your files if you so desire and people were making illegal scanned copies of chess books available. I was threatened by them for offering a booklet for download that I authored myself.  My reply to them was unanswered and I discontinued using them due to their lack of response. See Blog article.
      In any case you need to be very careful about downloading books, music and movies!   A large proportion of internet users, including chess players looking for free chess books, regularly download content. Popular downloads range from documents to films, games to mp3s, and a whole host of different applications.
      Download sites, especially those that operate on a peer-to-peer basis, have often been plagued with files infected with spyware, adware, viruses, you name it.  I recently read that some sources have been offering downloads of popular commercial chess engines.  In some cases these engines are freeware engines that have simply been renamed to a popular commercial engine then jammed packed with who knows what.  According to Torrent Freak: "A man and woman from New York have been ordered to pay $7000 in damages for downloading a 'For Dummies' eBook using Bit Torrent..."  Read article.  I don't know about you but I don't have $7000 to pay for a chess book.

Related articles:

Friday, March 22, 2013

1…a5 (The Cornstalk Defense)

      Khalifman wrote "The moves 1...h5 and 1...a5 hardly deserve any serious attention, since they do not contribute at all to Black's development, and he is not fighting for the centre either. After 2.d4 White has a clear advantage, because no matter what popular scheme Black might try to employ - his first move will definitely be premature mildly speaking..."
     That’s a strong GMs opinion and who is going to argue with him? Even we amateurs know it’s a bad move. Still, there is no direct refutation to this stupid looking defense and it will take your opponent out of any preparation he might have. One thing I have discovered is that it usually morphs into a pattern that resembles a ‘real’ opening. For example, one of my games (I was White) opened 1.a4 e5 2.e4 Nf6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Bc4 0–0 5.Nd5 which sort of resembles a Ruy Lopez Bird Defense with the colors reversed.

      In the following game 1...a4 lead to a pretty boring position and we agreed to a draw in 28 moves. Sometimes known as the Corn Stalk Defense, US Master Preston Ware played it in eleven tournament games from 1880 to 1882, winning four and losing seven, but that likely speaks to Ware’s ability, not the defense.

New Fischer Book

My most recent purchase is The Greatest Secrets of Bobby Fischer, The Final Truth About the Greatest Chess Player of All Time by Nenad Nesh Stankovic.  So far I have only read about one third of the book's 388 pages and am finding it hard to put down.  You can read my initial thoughts on my book review Blog.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

LSS Engine Experiment

      A while back I was thinking that the best free engine for long games could very well be Critter so I decided to test that theory out on LSS.  The jury is still out on that, but as a further test I wanted to see how engines would perform without opening books, so for several games I decided to open with either 1.h4 or 1…h5. 
      The result of pushing the h-Pawn did not seem to have any drastic consequences; all the games got into positions that resembled “normal” openings except that I had played the superfluous advance of the h-Pawn.  My opening play fared better with White, probably because White can afford to waste a move easier than Black can. 
      Short version: playing 1…h4 or 1…h5 didn’t lead to anything drastic one way or the other.

Houdini 2

      OK, I bit the bullet and downloaded the Houdini 2 engine for $49.95 from Chess Central a couple of weeks ago. I sent in a credit card payment on Friday and almost immediately got an automatic e-mail informing me I would get download instructions and a key within 24 hours or less. Since I ordered on a Friday afternoon the information actually did not arrive in my e-mail until Monday afternoon. The actual download is from ChessOK.
      One glitch: a couple of days after ordering, the contacts I had in my e-mail got spammed. I had a similar experience three years ago after ordering something online from Europe. After that experience I immediately changed my password and then deleted all of the contacts in my e-mail account. Since then I have not kept a list of contacts, but three or four had inadvertently been saved.
      Thankfully, my credit card has something called “Shopsafe” that generates a temporary card number, expiration date and I can set a limit that’s just enough to cover the cost of the product. If anybody other than the intended merchant tries to use that card number it will be useless. Before I started using the Shopsafe feature, twice when subscribing to a correspondence site located in Europe, I had charges for video games and sex toys show up on my account resulting in the credit card company canceling the charges and issuing me a new card. The first time it happened I discovered it when there was a hold on my card when I tried to pay for a motel in New Jersey and they wouldn’t accept it. I don’t have a PayPal account because several years ago my wife got an e-mail concerning a wedding dress she supposedly purchased on e-bay that referenced our PayPal account so I deleted it. I am digressing, but you need to be very careful when ordering anything online. Investigate to see if you credit card has a feature similar to Shopsafe.
      I had been experimenting with Critter on Lechenicher SchachServer with only slightly improved results and decided to purchase Houdini 2 because all I wanted is the engine to use with my Fritz 13 program. Apparently Houdini 3 can only be obtained by purchasing a new interface and I don’t need/want one.
      Houdini 2.0 was supposed to be positional genius and much better than the free 1.5a in the endgame. Houdini 2 was released in September 2011 with Houdini 3 being released in October 2012. Supposedly Houdini 3 is better than Houdini 2 by about 50 Elo points and, depending on which rating list one consulted, Houdini 2 was only about 20-40 Elo points better than the free version. Still, I was interested in seeing the performance difference I could get using Houdini 2 on my dual core 4 GB memory laptop.
       I currently have about a dozen games going on LSS where I have been relying on Critter and two games seem to be going rather badly. I actually considered resigning them, but decided to play on because I think we can reach an endgame and maybe the engines won’t play so well and there will be a chance to salvage something.
      I have not been using Houdini long but aside from the fact it has been recommending some moves that look “weird” to me, the main thing I have noticed is its evaluation sometimes differs considerably from what I was getting with other engines. Unfortunately the evaluations in most of the current games are showing that I stand worse than I thought. 
       Most of my opponents are higher rated than me and a couple played moves that Critter didn’t consider so my guess is those opponents are using stronger engines, better hardware and, possibly, longer evaluation times. In a brief and unscientific 4-game, 5-minutes per game test Houdini 2 defeated Houdini 1.5 by a score of +3 -0 -1. Against Critter Houdini 2 scored +2 -0 =2. 
      It seems Houdini 2 has enough of an edge to defeat the best free engines and if you want the strongest engine available without purchasing a whole new chess program, Houdini 2 is the way to go and the price for the engine alone is reasonable.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Bradley Beach 1929

      Held at the Hotel La Reine, Bradley Beach had been the site of the National Chess Federation championship in 1928 and had been considered as a possible site for a 1929 rematch between Alekhine and Capablanca for the World Championship. The organizers had considered an invitation to Vera Menchik which would have made her the first woman participant in an international men's tournament. For unknown reasons she did  not play in Bradley Beach although later in the year  As it happened, Menchik accomplished this at Carlsbad later that year where she finished last out of 22 players with +2 -17 =2.
      Bradley Beach was Alekhine's first tournament after winning his world championship match with Capablanca.  Lajos Steiner had won the 1936-37 Australian championship but was ineligible for the title. He moved to Australia permanently a few years later prior to the outbreak of WWII.
      Kupchik (born in Russia) had been living in the United States since 1903 when, as a child, his family had immigrated.  Kupchick, known for his horribly boring style, confined his play mostly to local events around New York. He played for the US in one Olympiad, in Warsaw 1935  where he won the bronze medal on board 3.  The US team won the gold medal that year.  Kupchick also played in the 1945 USA-USSR radio match, losing one game and drawing one against Makogonov.
      Turover, born in Belgium, settled in the Washington, DC area after moving to the US and became a chess patron known for funding brilliancy prizes.  Maurice Fox was born in the Ukraine, grew up in England and moved to Canada in 1923.  He won the Canadian championship numerous times.
       By the time this tournament was played, Frank Marshall’s future was behind him and he did not do well.  Alex Kevitz, a local master, was Manhattan Chess Club champion numerous times.
       Herman Steiner had played on the US Olympiad team at The Hague the year before. Within a few years after Bradley Beach, Steiner moved to Los Angeles and wrote the chess column in the LA Times for over 20 years. He also founded a chess club attended by various movie stars. In the 1945 USA-USSR radio match, Steiner scored 1.5-.5 against Bondarevsky and so was the only US player with a plus score.
       Rafael Cintron was champion of Puerto Rico, and with the tournament earned the distinction of being the first Puerto Rican to play in an international masters tournament.
       Horace Bigelow, originally from Switzerland, moved to the US in the early 1920s.  He was a prominent member of the Manhattan Chess Club and was one of the organizers of the famous New York 1927 tournament that was won by Lasker ahead of Capablanca.  For many years Bigelow edited a chess column in the New York Evening Post and for Liberty magazine.
      Alekhine won easily and the only blemish on his score was a draw with Kupchik.  Steiner had back-to-back draws in rounds 4 and 5 against Turover and Marshall and lost to Alekhine.  The real excitement came in the last round when Alekhine and Steiner met.  Alekhine was leading Steiner by a half point.  Alekhine defeated Steiner and so won first prize.

Alexander Alekhine            X 1 = 1 1 1 1 1 1 1     8.5
Lajos Steiner                        0 X 1 = 1 = 1 1 1 1    7.0
Abraham Kupchik              = 0 X = 1 = 1 0 1 1   5.5
Isador Turover                    0 = = X = 1 0 1 1 1   5.5
Maurice Fox                         0 0 0 = X = 1 1 1 1   5.0
Frank Marshall                   0 = = 0 = X 0 1 1 1   4.5
Alex Kevitz                           0 0 0 1 0 1 X = 1 =   4.0
Herman Steiner                  0 0 1 0 0 0 = X 0 1   2.5
Rafael Cintron                     0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 X 1   2.0
Horace Bigelow                   0 0 0 0 0 0 = 0 0 X 0.5

In this game Alex Kevitz uses the Budapest to defeat Marshall.  A good article on the Budapest is found in Wikipedia.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Dr. Joseph Platz

     Joseph Platz (11 April 1905, Cologne, Germany – 30 December 1981, Manchester, Connecticut, USA) was a German-American master. 
     Platz won the championship of Cologne in 1926, the championship of the Rhine at Karlsruhe 1928, and the championship of Hannover in 1931. He also tied for 4th–6th at Cologne 1924, and tied for 4th–5th at Duisburg 1929 (DSB Congress, Hauptturnier A).
     Platz moved to the United States because of Nazi policy in Germany in the 1930s. He played a few training games with his friend, Emanuel Lasker, in New York in 1939–40. In the 1940s, he won the Bronx Championship six times. In 1948, he played in the U.S. Championship, placing 14th (won by Hermann Steiner). 
     Between 1954 and 1972, he won the Western Massachusetts & Connecticut Valley Open Championship 14 times. He won the Connecticut Championship three times. He tied for the New England Championship four times. He was a USCF Master Emeritus and a medical doctor. 
     Platz learned the game of chess at the age of thirteen and for over a year he devoted himself to the intensive study of the games of the games of Lasker, Anderson, Morphy, Steinitz and Tarrash. With a firm foundation in fundamentals, his progress was such that at age 16 years he had the reputation of being one of the best chess players in Cologne. 
     Dr. Platz's first major tournament was an invitation tournament sponsored by the thirty cub Cologne Chess League where a record of seven wins with no losses and no draws gave him first place honors. To further prove that this win was not a one-shot victory, Platz won the Cologne Chess Club Championship seven times in a row. 
     In high school, he devoted the same intensity to his studies that he devoted to his chess games and graduated before he was eighteen with the intention of entering medical school. The early death of his father and the insecure position of the family's economic situation in post—war Germany caused a change in plans and he worked as a bookkeeper for a banking firm from 1923 to 1926. 
     An important milestone in Dr. Platz's life was the re-marriage of his mother to an understanding man whose urging convinced Platz that twenty-one years was not too old to start to study medicine. With the final realization of a once thought to be a dream Joseph Platz entered Medical School with such enthusiasm that he he passed his first examination in only one and one half years instead of the usual two years. 
     Chesswise, 1926 could be considered a successful year for him. He won the City of Cologne Championship with a score of 11½-½ and when the Viennese Master Rudolf Spielmann, one of the greatest attacking player of all times, en route from winning the International Tournament in Austria, visited Cologne, a five game match was arranged and his opponent was to be Joseph Platz. The results of the match proved that Joe Platz was no ordinary player. To put it in his own words, "What chance did I, an amateur chess player, have against the famous master? To everyone's surprise, including my own, I won two games, drew two and only lost one and won the match with a 3-2 score.” 
     In 1928, after a two year absence from serious chess due to medical studies and examinations, Platz entered and won the tournament for the Championship of the Rhine. The Rhine area was what is now Western Germany. 
     At the German Chess Congress at Duesburg in 1929, from a 48-player field of invitational players, he went undefeated in the preliminaries and took fourth place in the finals. 
     In 1931, having passed the State Medical Board examinations in Cologne, Dr. Platz served his internship in Hannover, Germany where he played a six-game match with H. Matthai, Lower Saxony Champion, winning three, drawing two and losing one. 
     1932 was spent as resident in surgery at the Hospital of the Black Forest, city of Offenburg where the busy schedule of work left little time for chess and the Doctor had time for only one chess tournament. The Championship of Southwest Germany in Freiburg where his record of three wins, three draws, without a loss won second prize. 
     When Hitler came to power in 1933, Dr. Platz left Germany and came to the United States where, after a year's internship at Fordham Hospital in New York City, he passed all of the State Medical Board exams and went into General Practice in the Bronx. 
     In 1934, with all the uncertainty contingent with emigrating to a new country, learning a new language, setting up a medical practice, and having to adopt a new way of life, Dr. Platz answered the call of his first love, competitive chess and joined the Manhattan Chess Club where he took part in many tournaments finishing most with a plus score. 
     As a member of the Manhattan Chess Team in the Metropolitan Chess League, he went undefeated for seven years and won Best Game Prize four times thereby setting a record unequaled by any other player, masters included. Among his opponents were some of the best players in the United States and topping the list were two United States Champions. – Arnold Denker and Arthur Bisguier. 
     In 1940 Dr. Platz was married to Ester Semenoff of Providence, R.I. During his stay in New York, Dr. Platz was also a member of the Bronx Chess Club, winning six of their tourneys without a loss. 
     In 1948 he qualified for the finals in the U.S. Chess Championship. When the United States Chess Federation published the first rating list in 1950, based solely on results in tournament play, Dr. Platz was ranked as Master. 
     The years 1939-40 proved to be the richest and most rewarding period of his life as well as his chess career; he was under the tutelage of the former Champion of The World Dr. Emanuel Lasker; their relationship of friend as well as teacher and scholar left cherished memories in his mind that lasted a lifetime. Platz’ description of Lasker on the chessboard was, he was a strict disciplinarian who tolerated no foolishness whatsoever from his students in a chess game. A foolish move or a bad judgment blunder would invariably bring a severe tongue lashing, many times leaving some of his students in tears. This discipline was to stand Platz in good stead later when he had to use it in high-level tournament play. 
     After several hundred games Platz had improved enough that on several occasions he played Lasker to a draw and in one game he beat him. In his chess career Dr. Platz has beaten World Champions Lasker, Dr. Euwe and Bobby Fischer and had a draw against Capablanca. 
     In 1952 Dr. Platz, with a desire to live in a smaller and quieter community, moved his family to Manchester Connecticut. Building up a new practice turned out to be a full time job leaving very little time for anything else much less chess. With the lack of time and the heavy workload Dr. Platz decided to retire from active chess and just watch form the sidelines. The retirement only lasted two years and in 1954 he was back in the swing. 
     Dr. Platz's record for 1954 to 1972: 33 tournaments won - 3 matches won - 3 brilliancy prizes. Dr. Platz won the Bronx Chess Championship 6 times. In 1948 he participated in the US Championship and finished 14th. Between 1954 and 1972, he won the Western Massachusetts and Connecticut Valley Open Championship 14 times. Platz also won the Connecticut Championship three times. He tied for the New England Championship four times. 
     There is a popular memorial tournament held in his honor each year. In 1978 Platz wrote Chess memoirs: The chess career of a physician and Lasker pupil. I do not have this book, but do have a pgn file of all the games contained in it. For some reason Platz included quite a few miniature games where his opponents made real howlers…one move blunders. Perhaps there was a story behind them. 
     In the game below he defeats Irving Chernev who got into trouble when he brought his Q out too early and neglected to castle. Game on ChessFlash no longer available

Friday, March 15, 2013

Nezhmetdinov Biography

Jessica Fischer has put up some fascinating chess videos on Youtube.  Here is a great bio of Nezhmetdinov.
Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

E. Forry Laucks

      E. Forry Laucks was an eccentric Neo-Nazi multimillionaire who according to Frank Brady wore a swastika on his lapel and had Nazi flags in his home. As a Fischer historian, Brady thinks Laucks, who accompanied and financed many of Fischer’s trips to play in tournaments, may also have influenced Fischer’s anti-Semitic and other beliefs. Of Laucks, Brady said, “He had a good heart but he was a neo-Nazi,” adding that when Fischer was younger Brady never heard him make an anti-Semitic comment and he was very respectful of religion.
      Eccentric? Norman T. Whitaker told how Laucks would never take care of his car. He would never change the oil and when the engine crapped out Laucks would just go to a local used car dealer and buy another car. Laucks was apparently a relative, perhaps the son, of S. Forry Laucks, who was said to be the richest man in York, Pennsylvania and was the owner of the Lauxmont Farms. Old S. Forry died in 1942 and was said to have been even more crazy than E. Forry.
      Laucks was best known for his patronage of the Log Cabin Chess Club of West Orange, New Jersey. Arthur Bisguier wrote that the club was attended by people from every walk of life, including Blacks and Jews, despite the club having Nazi flags all over the place.
      Born in 1898 Laucks was described by National Master Ted Dunst (Dunst Opening) as “darkish, intense, ready at a moment’s notice to laugh at himself and at any of life’s ludicrous situations. Neatly balancing his social and business interests is his gift for art, as evidenced by the paintings which hang upon the walls of his home and which have been exhibited at the Montclair Art Museum, the Trenton Academy of Art, and the Art Center of the Oranges.”
      Laucks grew up in York, Pennsylvania and attended Dummer Academy, Mercersburg Academy and Philips Exeter and began playing chess at nine years old and at eleven visited the Manhattan and Marshall Chess Clubs in New York. During his boyhood, however, the game did not mean much to him and it was not until many years later that chess became his passion. 
      In 1933 Laucks joined the West Orange YMCA Chess Club but being a night person, he disliked the early closing time. Thus, he established the Log Cabin Chess Club. The venue was the spacious basement of his residence at 30 Collamore Terrace in West Orange, New Jersey. Here, in his own words, is what he sought to accomplish: “[The clubhouse was to be] a log cabin that would be neither too palatial, as some wealthy clubmen’s are, nor so poor and roughshod that it would lack comfort or a certain degree of refinement…I realized that everything, even to the wall decorations, furniture and utensils, had to be in keeping with the surroundings, or else just one piece out of place could spoil the effect of the whole…Therefore I made and designed all the furniture just as if I were in the backwoods where there can be no machined, finished pieces.”
      Thanks to Laucks generosity the Log Cabin Chess Club offered substantial cash prizes in their major tournaments which were attended by the likes of Fischer, Lombardy, the Byrne Brothers, Benko, Evans, Bisguier and just about any other big name of the period you can think of. Sometimes Laucks would decide to take a trip and he would call a bunch of masters and say, "Let's go to Europe" and off they’d go.
      As a chess player Laucks was strong enough to have defeated E.S. Jackson, Jr., in a New Jersey championship tournament but described himself as only being about Class B (1500-1600) strength so “people won’t think this fellow Laucks is such hot stuff as a player.” Several people who played him think that Class B was about right.
      Laucks died on July 31, 1965 during the US Open Chess Championship in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico. He died after completing the first six rounds while he was leading a group of players on a tour of San Juan. He collapsed and was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.

1950 Was a Good Year

9th Chess Olympiad: Dubrovnik: Eleven years had passed before the Olympiads were brought back to life. The War cut out full six years from the chess life and it took next 5 years to hold the first post-war Olympiad…In 1948 FIDE congress held in Saltsj√∂baden submitted Yugoslavia's proposal to organize the 9th Chess Olympiad. The following year it was finally confirmed. Unfortunately the Communist Information Bureau comprised of USSR Communist Party and its satellites expelled Yugoslavia and moved the event from Belgrade to Bucharest…USSR authorities finally decided to boycott the event and all East European countries had nothing to do but follow Big Brother…MORE
Amsterdam: In the winter of 1950 Lodewijk Prins, backed by a committee presided over by Hendrik Jan Van Steenis, organized an international chess tournament that was held at the stock exchange in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Invitations went out to all the strongest chess masters of the day, whether they reside in Europe, the Soviet Union, or the Americas. The Soviet Chess Federation declined the invitations sent to their masters (they would refrain from entering international competitions until late 1952), as did Lazslo Szabo. Nevertheless, the eventual line-up was still one of the finest selections to be found of the best, active Western chess masters of the day. The field was notable also for the healthy mix of both early century chess mastery and post-war talent emerging for the next generation…MORE

1st World Correspondence Chess Championship:  Following the foundation of the International Correspondence Chess Union ( IFSB )* in Berlin on the 2nd of December 1928 the idea of a Correspondence Chess Championship was discussed for the first time. Alexander Alyekhin who had played numerous games of correspondence chess in his youth held it in high regard and became a driving force to see the realization of a Correspondence Championship. In August 1936 an IFSB conference resolved to set up a committee to work out a draft of Alyekhin's ideas and bring them to fruition. A year later in August 1937 at another IFSB conference in Stockholm a resolution to create and regularly hold a Correspondence Championship was reached. Amongst those present at this conference were FIDE President Dr Alexander Rueb and Dr Max Euwe. The outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 delayed plans but eventually in 1947 the preliminaries for the World Correspodence Championship started. There were 78 participants from 22 countries in 11 preliminary groups. This lead to a Final Tournament of 15 players. Play for this final commenced in 1950 with the games finishing in 1953…MORE
Budapest - Candidates Tournament: When discussing some of the background to the Budapest contest, Averbakh relates how the Yugoslav grandmaster Petar Trifunovich (Trifunovich has earned the reputation of being a very hard man to beat, and the other grandmasters have acquired a healthy respect for his technical skill. At Bled, for example, he lost only this one game - from the introduction to game 33 of Fischer's My Sixty Memorable Games) was kept out of the tournament. This was a knock-on effect of the breach between the communist dictators Stalin and Tito. The Soviets, in order to keep the Yugoslav out, sacrificed Bondarevsky's place. Grandmaster Bondarevsky will be known as Spassky's trainer, a subject treated by Averbakh elsewhere in the book. A bit of spice can be added by revealing that there may have been links to the NKVD (i.e. the Cheka)…MORE

US Open, Detroit: The victory of 20-year-old Arthur Bisguier ushered in a couple of new trends in the US Open. A new generation was reaching the top, taking over as thoroughly as in the Fine/Reshevsky days of the 1930s. Outside of Reshevsky's first place tie in 1955, nobody who played in the US Open before 1946 would ever win the tournament again…MORE
USSR Championship: The 18th Soviet Chess Championship took place in the capital of Moscow from November 10th to December 12th, 1950. Fifteen of the Soviet Union's best masters and grandmasters qualified from five semi-final tournaments held earlier in the year. Lev Aronin, Victor Liublinsky, and Tigran Petrosian qualified from Gorky; Isaac Lipnitsky, Alexey Sokolsky, and Efim Geller qualified from Kiev; Vladimir Alatortsev, Alexander Tolush, and Igor Bondarevsky qualified from Leningrad; Salomon Flohr, Alexander Konstantinopolsky, and Vladas Mikenas qualified from Tartu; and Yuri Averbakh, Georgy Borisenko, and Alexey Suetin qualified from Tula. Vasily Smyslov was invited as returning Soviet champion, and since both Mikhail Botvinnik and David Bronstein were preparing for their upcoming world championship match in several months, their invitations went to 1947 USSR championship winner Paul Keres and world candidate semi-finalist Isaac Boleslavsky…MORE

I turned 5 years old and had not yet heard of chess: