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Friday, July 26, 2013

Dr. Ariel Mengarini

OK, after that last post, let’s get serious…

      Mengarini, a board certified psychiatrist who worked for the Veteran’s Administration, was born October 19, 1919 in Rome to what the Dictionary of American Biography calls ''a distinguished Roman family.'' Along with his mother, the sculptress Fausta Vittoria Mengarini, he came to the United States when he was still a young boy, finished his education in Washington, D.C. and in New York.
      He became a United States citizen in 1942 and served in World War II as a Captain in the U.S. Army Medical Corps-Neuropsychiatrist. In Germany, he was part of a team to take over the administration of a large prison-of-war hospital. He received three campaign medals and the World War II Victory Medal. Discharged in October 1946, he joined the VA as a psychiatrist. He was devoted to his patients and said that he was ''proud to have helped a great many of them.''
      Upon retiring he began playing in tournaments in earnest throughout the rest of his life. He wrote a book on chess: Predicament in 2-Dimensions: The Thinking of a Chess Player. He also wrote chess articles and articles on his medical specialty. Mengarini was an avid reader with a wide interest which included history, philosophy, poetry, fiction and the study of the human brain. He and his wife, Aristea had two children; a daughter Athena and a son, Will. He passed away in 1998 of brain cancer after an illness lasting eight months.
     Predicament in 2 Dimensions was focused on how to approach thinking about chess in a larger context. The book wasn’t written to help players improve so much as it was to help them  prepare mentally for a game or tournament. In 1940 he won the championship of Washington D.C. In 1943 he won the U.S. Amateur championship with a perfect 11-0 score. He also played in several US chess championships. He took last place in the 1954 US Championship (2 wins, 1 draw, 10 losses). He popularized the opening 1.e4 e5 2.a3, sometimes known as Mengarini’s Opening.
      He wrote, "Although I learned the moves of chess at six, I had no opportunity to practice nor enter a tournament until I won a competitive scholarship to Harvard in 1937." Mengarini assumed that Harvard, as he phrased it, "was a chess university" writing that he neglected going to classes so as to engage in innumerable skittles at the Harvard Union.  The result was he lost his scholarship and had to return home to Washington, D.C. where he attended George Washington University. Even though he continued to play a lot of chess while attending George Washington University, he eventually became a medical student there.
      Mengarini's skittles games and participation in simultaneous exhibitions brought him in contact with many well-known figures in American chess and he excelled at blitz chess, or as it was often played in the old days at 10 seconds a move, and he defeated many of the country’s top players doing it.
      In the following game he defeated Reshevsky in the 1951 US Championship in an extremely complicated game. In a new qualifying format Mengarini sneaked into the finals by defeating Al Horowitz in one of the preliminary tournaments. At 30 years old, he couldn’t be considered a threat, but he was one of top 25 or 30 players in the country in a day when masters were a rare thing. In an event of this caliber Mengarini’s real problem was his opening play.
      The 1951 championship was won by Larry Evans with a score of 9.5 out of 11 (8 wins and 3 draws) and Reshevsky was a full point back as a result of his sole loss to Mengarini. Dr. Max Pavey finished third while Mengarini (+3 -5 =3) finished eighth. Also, this tournament was of some significance because Reshevsky’s result pretty much marked the end of his reign as U.S. champion that for the most part had been interrupted only when he chose not to defend the title. The next championship tournament was to be held in 1954, but Reshevsky did not play in that one. In fact, none of the top five rated players (Reshevsky, Robert Byrne, George Kramer, Donald Byrne and Arnold Denker) accepted invitations. Mengarini played in the 1954 event (won by Bisguier a point ahead of Evans) but finished last (+2 -10 =1). That brings us to the 1957 championship and Reshevsky finished second to a kid named Bobby Fischer.

Missed Business Opportunity

Dating services!
1. Zoosk
2. Match
3. eHarmony
4. OurTime
5. HowAboutWe
6. ChristianMingle
7. SpeedDate
8. SingleParent
9. BlackPeopleMeet
10. Flirt

Those are the top ten, but there are others: DateHookUp, OKCupid, dating for married people, Jewish people, Muslims, etc, etc.

My e-mail keeps getting spammed by eHarmony (not interested...I have a girlfriend who also happens to be my wife) and I am always seeing ads on TV for dating services, so I had a brilliant idea. How about a dating service for chess players? Alas! Somebody beat me to it.  There's already a site in Great Britain. Can you believe it?  Anyway, as a public service announcement for anybody that’s interested, here you go:   Chess Lover Dating!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

York Safe and Lock Company and the Laucks

     Sara Beth who does an interesting Blog at chessdotcom mentioned the Laucks and the York Safe and Lock Company played an important role in WW1 and WW2. I did locate some information about the company and its role during WW2 as well as some information on the Laucks. There is an interesting article about S. Forry Laucks and the York Safe and Lock company by James McClure in the York Daily Record/York Sunday News HERE
      McClure says not long after Laucks death, York Safe company, holding scores of millions of dollars in Navy contracts, ran into trouble. The Navy stepped in to operate parts of the company because so many defense contracts were at stake. Parts of the company became known as the Navy Ordnance Plant and later Blaw-Knox, a company the Navy brought in to manage the factories. So, the government played a big role in the company both before and during World War II. Defense contracts rescued the company from the Depression. Banks naturally weren’t buying safes during the 1930s. And the Navy had to step in to make the company work after Laucks death. York Safe and Lock closed some years after the end of the war.
There’s also an interesting piece on York’s past about Eliot Ness, Israel Laucks and S. Forry HERE    More on S. Forry

1948 US Championship

7th US Championship; 1948 August 10 - 31 South Fallsburg, NY 

1) Steiner x ½ 1 0 1 1 ½ 1 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 ½ 1 1 1 1 (15 - 4)
2) Kashdan ½ x ½ ½ 1 0 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 ½ 1 1 ½ 1 1 1 (14½- 4½)
3-4). Kramer 0 ½ x 0 0 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 ½ 1 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 (13 - 6)
3-4) Ulvestad 1 ½ 1 x 1 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 1 1 ½ 1 1 1 1 (13 - 6)
5-7) Hesse 0 0 1 0 x 1 ½ 0 ½ 0 1 1 ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 1 1  (12 - 7)
5-7) Rubinow 0 1 0 0 0 x ½ 1 1 1 ½ 1 1 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 (12 - 7)
5-7) Shainswit ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ x 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 1 (12 - 7)
8-10) Adams 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 x 1 1 0 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 (11½- 7½)
8-10) Evans 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 x ½ 1 1 1 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 ( 11½- 7½)
8-10) Shipman ½ 0 0 ½ 1 0 ½ 0 ½ x ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 1 1 (11½- 7½)
11-12) Sandrin ½ 0 0 1 0 ½ ½ 1 0 ½ x ½ 1 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 (10½- 8½)
11-12) Santasiere ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 0 ½ 1 0 0 ½ x 1 ½ 1 1 ½ 1 1 1 (10½- 8½)
13) Poschel 0 0 0 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 0 x ½ 1 0 1 ½ 1 1 (8 -11)
14) Platz 0 ½ 0 0 ½ 1 ½ 0 0 0 1 ½ ½ x 1 ½ ½ 1 0 0 (7½-11½)
15) Heitner 0 0 ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 0 0 0 x 0 1 0 1 1 (7 -12)
16) Whitaker ½ 0 0 ½ 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 ½ 1 x 1 ½ 0 1 (6 -13)
17) Howard 0 ½ ½ 0 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 0 x 0 1 1 (5½-13½)
18) Almgren 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 1 ½ 1 x 1 0 (4 -15)
19) Suraci 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 x 1 (3 -16)
20) Janes 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 x (2 -17)

      The 1948 U.S. Championship held in South Fallsburg, New York, was an interesting event. It had one of the best prize funds to date even though the USCF was on the verge of bankruptcy. It was played under excellent conditions in a resort town that was isolated from spectators and the U.S. chess scene. It had a large (20 players), but weak field. Reuben fine a few weeks earlier had turned down his invitation to the world championship match and excused himself from this tournament because he was working towards a degree in psychology. Samuel Reshevsky was willing to play if he received a guaranteed fee. This was no surprise because he had been paid a fee in some of the previous tournaments. But for this tournament the organizers had put all the money into the prizes. They had also saved money by moving the event out of New York City and, also, made other budget cuts so, no fee for Reshevsky. Reshevsky announced he would not play and, acting like a snot, demanded his name taken off all advanced publicity concerning the tournament. The USCF then invited Olaf Ulvestad of Seattle as a last-minute replacement for Reshevsky and scheduled the first round. 
      But then the day before the tournament started Reshevsky announced he was willing to play without getting his fee. What were the organizers to do? They wanted Reshevsky to play, but Ulvestad was already in South Fallsburg; they couldn’t just tell him to go home. At the same time they would have had to find an extra hotel room for Reshevsky and make arrangements for an extra day or two with the over twenty hotels where the players and organizers were booked. Plus, they would have to convince the players to revise their schedules to accommodate Reshevsky. The organizers did the right thing and told Reshevsky to go pound salt.
      That left Isaac Kashdan as the favorite because not only were Fine and Reshevsky not playing, but neither were Denker, Dake, or Horowitz, and Kashdan was the only GM in the rather weak field.
      Kashdan started out well with an 8-1 score with Steiner right behind him at 7-2. Steiner, who had had some difficulty qualifying from the regional event held in Los Angeles, had justified Ulvestad's inclusion in the tournament by losing to him in the fifth round. Most everybody thought Steiner was a good, strong master but not talented enough to rate as one of the best in the U.S. Earlier in the year he had played a match with Fine and had gotten thumped 5-1.
      But in the tenth round Kashdan lost to Sol Rubinow. Rubinow, at the time was a doctoral candidate at the University of Pennsylvania and later become better known as a bridge champion and well known in the field of biomathematics; he a dangerous, aggressive player. Rubinow’s win over Kashdan left Kashdan, Ulvestad and Steiner tied for first followed closely by George Kramer and another promising young player named Larry Evans.
      Steiner had been born in Austria-Hungary and had for many years competed with the best New York players but had long since left New York and had become a ‘chess celebrity’ Hollywood.
      Going into the last round, Steiner and Kashdan were tied at 14-4 while Kramer was at 12.5. Kramer had to play Kashdan in the last round while Steiner faced a minor master named Franklin S. Howard. However, Steiner was soon in trouble against Howard, but to his good fortune, Howard got nervous, played poorly and lost in 65 moves. The young George Kramer forced a perpetual against Kashdan leaving Steiner the new U.S. Champion.
      See my post on Dr. Platz HERE. I once lost a game to Dr. Paul Poschel whom I think was a college professor at the University of Michigan. I remember him as being very pleasant and having encouraging words about my play. Hermann Hesse was a strong master from Bethlehem, Pa. He finished 2nd in the U.S. Open in 1950 and he won an event limited to state champions in Yankton, South Dakota in 1958.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Another Fatal Car Accident – and a Mystery

      365 Selected Chess Endings by Norman T. Whitaker was coauthored with an Expert named Glenn Hartleb; Hartleb died in an automobile accident a few months after the book came out.
      Prior to my being discharged from the US military in 1967 I played in a small tournament in North Carolina and Whitaker was there hawking the book. He told us that if we learned everything in the book we’d be a master. Of course a lot of us bought a copy. Whitaker’s claim of making one a master was hype. Or was it? I can’t truly say because I never learned everything in the book.
      Hartleb and Whitaker were returning by car from a tournament in the US Southwest and while Whitaker slept, Hartleb allowed their travelling companion, a 16-year old without a license, to drive. The result was an accident that instantly killed Hartleb and left Whitaker on crutches. The driver was not hurt. At least that’s has always been the story but…was there really a 16-year old driver?
      I discovered Hartleb’s obituary published 7 Sep 1961, Danville, Yell County, Arkansas. Yell County Record newspaper ... Man Killed In Wreck Near Ola. A Florida man was killed in a one-car accident on Highway 10 about six miles east of Ola last Thursday afternoon. State Trooper Richard Powell identified the victim as Glenn E. Hartleb, 45, Tampa, Florida, a passenger in the car. The driver of the car, a Volkswagen, was Norman Whittaker, about 70, of Washington, D. C. He was taken to the hospital at Russellville with head injuries. Powell said the driver of the car apparently lost control of it [and] hit a bridge abutment and over turned.
I found this Google image of a bridge on Route 10
approximatley 6 miles east of Ola.  It could be the one
that was hit in the accident.

      Of Whitaker and Hartleb, Sam Sloan wrote: “I was beginning to wonder whether Whitaker and Hartleb might be homosexual. They were, after all, two men traveling all over the US in Whitaker's Volkswagen Beetle playing in chess tournaments, with no woman ever around.”
      According to Sloan, Whitaker told him about the car accident. He said that after the US Open in San Francisco, as they were driving back, they were crossing Arkansas. Whitaker and Hartleb had been driving all the way and both were tired. They had a 16-year-old boy in the car with them. Whitaker said that while he was asleep, Hartleb, being tired too, decided to let the boy drive. The boy did not have a driver’s license. Shortly after Hartleb put the boy behind the steering wheel, the boy drove into a ditch and crashed. Hartleb, in the right front seat, was killed immediately. Whitaker, asleep in the back seat, was seriously injured. The boy who had been driving escaped uninjured.
      Whitaker told Sloan that he was maimed for life and would never walk again. He reserved his worst remarks for the doctor in Arkansas who had treated him. He said that the doctor was a quack. His prognosis that he would never walk normally again proved not to be true; when I saw him in North Carolina he was on crutches.
     Apparently Whitaker was the source of the story that an unnamed 16-year old was driving, but according to the Yell County Record newspaper, Whitaker was the driver and there’s no mention of a 16-year old passenger.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Tragic Auto Accident

      In 1940 Al Horowitz, owner and publisher of the fairly new Chess Review took on Harold Morton, a strong New England player as his business partner. Morton (born in 1906) had a dismal performance at New York 1936, finishing at the bottom in the first modern United States championship following Frank J. Marshall's retirement. This was followed by an equally dismal performance in the 1938 championship. Despite those results Morton was a solid player who was capable of defeating some of the best players in the country.
      Horowitz and Morton frequently traveled together giving tandem simultaneous exhibitions where they would follow one another around the boards, alternating moves. On one trip they were involved in a car accident that took the life of Morton and left Horowitz with serious injuries. Hermann Helms gave a brief account of the accident in the American Chess Bulletin in the January-February 1940 edition.
      On February 17, 1940 while traveling through Iowa, Horowitz and Morton were involved in a serious car accident while crossing Iowa on the return journey after a tour of the south and far west. Morton, driving the car, was killed outright in a collision with a truck and Horowitz, suffering a concussion and other injuries, was taken to St. Anthony's Hospital in Carroll, Iowa. Horowitz remained in the hospital for some time and his brother, Irving, went to Iowa to be with him while he was hospitalized. Horowitz had not recovered sufficiently to play in the 1940 US Championship.

      According to the Des Moines Register, the accident happened on highway 30, about seven miles west of Carroll, Iowa, when a van, driven by Frank S. Robbins of Denver, Colorado, collided with the car in which Horowitz and Morton were traveling eastward.

Route 30 approximately 7 miles west of Carroll, Iowa as it appears today.
      Deputy Sheriff Arnold R. Witt of Carroll County said that Morton was thrown out of the car and was killed instantly. Horowitz was taken to St. Anthony's Hospital, where he was able to give his name. The pair were en route to Minneapolis, Minnesota, when the accident occurred and was the first traffic fatality of 1940 in Carroll County.  

Friday, July 19, 2013

Speaking of Miniatures…

Stop me if you've seen this one before...

Horowitz-Gudju Miniature

Miniatures are the jokes of chess.
      Gudju?! Never heard of him aside from this game but it turns out Ion Gudju (14 July 1897 – 1988) was a Romanian master who represented Romania in the first unofficial Olympiad at Paris.

      The first Team Chess Tournament had been held by coinciding with the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris, 12–20 July 1924. At the core of the organizing committee were the Frenchmen Pierre Vincent and Alexander Alekhine. Fifty-four players representing 18 countries arrived to Paris. They were decided to be split into nine preliminary groups of six, a winner of each qualifying into the Championship Final while the rest joined eight-round Swiss consolation tournament. The winner of the individual tournament earned the title of the Amateur World Champion. Gudju became one of 15 founders of FIDE and he played in three Olympiads (The Hague 1928, Hamburg 1930 and Prague 1931)
      He took 4th at Hastings 1926/27 in the “B” tournament which was won by George Koltanowski. In Bucharest 1927 he finished second behind a player named Wechsler. Other results: 4th at Bucharest 1928 (Sigmund Herland and Wechsler won), shared 2nd, behind Alexandru Tyroler, at Jassy 1929 (Romanian Championship), took 5th and won at Bucharest 1929, and tied for 2nd-5th at Bucharest 1930 (Iosif Mendelssohn won). He was the Honorary Vice President of FIDE in 1982–1988.

L. Russell Chauvenet

The following is based on Chauvenet's obituary from the Winston-Salem Journal on 6/26/2003 with additional material from other sources added:

      Mr. Louis Russell Chauvenet "Russ" of Clarebridge/Alterra Winston-Salem died peacefully in his sleep on the night of June 24, 2003. Russ was born in Knoxville, Tenn., Feb. 12, 1920, and was raised near Charlottesville, Va., the oldest of six children of Louis and Caroline Chauvenet. At the age of 10 he became deaf as a result of bacterial meningitis. He graduated from the Belmont Hill School in Belmont, Mass., and attended Harvard University, Boston College and the University of Virginia. He held a bachelor of arts degree in biology and a master's degree in chemistry from the University of Virginia. He worked in the computer field as a civilian employee of the U.S. Defense Department from 1948 until his retirement.
      Outside of work, Russ was well known in several areas. He was a founder of science-fiction fandom as a member of "The Stranger Club" in the Boston area and invented the word "fanzine" since used to describe private fan publications in areas of interest. He was for many years a member of the Fantasy Amateur Press Association (FAPA) and a published poet in the state of Maryland. Chauvenet was a founder of Boston's The Stranger Club (the members of which were guests of honor at the 47th World Science Fiction Convention), and hosted its first meeting at his home in 1940. He also co-founded the National Fantasy Fan Federation, with Damon Knight and Art Widner, and was a member of First Fandom. He coined the word fanzine in the October 1940 issue of his fanzine Detours and was for many years a member of the Fantasy Amateur Press Association (FAPA). He later coined prozine, a term for professionally published magazines containing science fiction stories.
      From an early age Russ took an interest in chess. He was a lifetime member of the U.S. Chess Federation and was the 1959 U.S. Amateur Champion. He won numerous other chess honors and awards and was the several-time champion of Virginia, two-time champion of Maryland and also won the Southern Championship, Delaware Championship and Washington, D.C., Championship.
      He became completely deaf in 1930 at age 10, after suffering cerebro-spinal meningitis. He was the highest-rated deaf player in the U.S. and won the U.S. Deaf Championship every time he entered it, never losing a game in the tournament. He represented the U.S. in the world deaf team and individual competition and was twice the runner-up in the world individual tournament. His rating hovered between that of high expert to low master.
      Chauvent wrote a letter to Chess Life in July 1949 where he offered to print a mimeographed 'Openings Bulletin', which would consist of a 10-20 page publication giving the most up to date theory and opening lines. A central clearing house would be needed to collate all of the relevant material. 4 issues a year were proposed, with the subscription per year being between 50 cents and $1.
      One feature in the early Chess Life quite popular with readers was the “What’s the Best Move?” column. Later this very popular column came under the editorship of GM Larry Evans but at the start of 1956 the column was briefly conducted by Chauvenet. For his January 5, 1956, column, which appeared on the first page of the newspaper, Chauvenet offered the following position:

Black to move
      Curiously, there were no hints or alternative moves given…just the diagram and “Black to move” Readers were asked to send their solutions to Chauvenet’s home address. Later in the year Irwin Sigmond took over the column. The solution to the position was given as: Solution to “What’s the Best Move?” Position Number 176: taken from Crisovan – Naef, Luzerne 1953 1...Nxf1 Incorrect is 1...Nd4 in view of 2.Qxd2 and now Black's winning chances are negligible. 2.Bxd6 Nd4! 3.exd4 To be sure, White can prolong the game by 3.Rxc8 Nxe2+ 4.Kxf1 Rxc8 5.Kxe2 Rc2+ but Black's advantage of the exchange is quite enough to win. 3...Rxc1 4.Qb2 Ng3+ 5.Qxc1 Ne2+ 0-1.

      Russ had a great love of sailing and was devoted to the Windmill Class Sailing Association. He built one of the first Windmills and attended regattas from Maine to Florida. To this day the Rock Hall Yacht Club awards the Russell Chauvenet Perpetual Trophy in its races. He was the high-point Champion of the Chesapeake Bay Yacht Racing Association in 1975. His activities in the Windmill Class led to his being one of only four people elected to honorary membership in the class association. The Windmill is a two person one-design sailing dinghy designed by Clark Mills in 1953. It was designed to be inexpensive and buildable by amateur woodworkers, such as father-and-son team.
      After his retirement, Russ resumed his college running career with the Montgomery County (Maryland) track club. He was honored in the D.C. area and recognized as a "1000K Man" when he completed his 100th 10K race (all between the ages of 62-75). Russ was devoted to his family. His wife, the former Sarah Jane Barrett, died in June 2001 and Russ died on what would have been their 59th wedding anniversary. They had one child, Allen, a pediatric oncologist at Brenner Children's Hospital/Wake Forest University. Their daughter-in-law, Julia Cruz, is a medical oncologist at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. Their two grandchildren are Nicholas Cruz Chauvenet, a 2003 graduate of Reynolds High School and Christina Anna Chauvenet, a member of the class of 2004 at Reynolds High School. Russ is survived by two of his sisters, Calise Conley of Kansas and Roberta Marie Hopkins of Minnesota. He is also survived by numerous nieces and nephews. His ancestors included William Bradford (Governor of Plymouth Plantation) and William Chauvenet (the leading American mathematician of the mid-19th century and a founder of the U.S. Naval Academy).
      Russ was a brilliant yet modest man, always fair and honest, who was loved, appreciated and respected by all who had the opportunity to cross paths with him in this life. Burial will be at Riverview Cemetery in Charlottesville, Va., at 11 a.m. Friday, June 27. In lieu of flowers or other gifts, the family would be pleased for contributions in Russ' memory to be made either to: Children's Cancer Fund, c/o Dr. Marcia Wofford, Department of Pediatrics, Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, Medical Center Boulevard, Winston-Salem, NC 27157-081 or to the Windmill Class Association, 417 Golf Drive, Hoover, AL 35226. (Arrangements by Russell Funeral Home.)
      In the game below Chauvenet wins a difficult and well-played game against veteran master Walter Suesman.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Hair-raising Attack by Reshevsky

      In Reshevsky's Best Games of Chess he wrote of his decision to play in the US Open Championship in Boston, 1944: "During the summer of 1944, I happened to be in Boston on a vacation just at the time the U.S.C.F Open Championship was being held. There didn't seem to be any harm in competing in this one tournament so, after a brief argument with my conscience concerning the wisdom of spending a vacation playing chess, I entered." I'm not sure I quite believe that he just "happened" to be on Boston on vacation.  Who goes to Boston on vacation?!  Reshevsky won the event, losing only one game…to Walter B. Suesman. Of his game against Vasconcellos he wrote, "My last round game with Vasconcellos confounded the critics who frequently said I didn't and couldn't play imaginative chess. I cut loose with a hair-raising sacrificial attack which had the spectators (and my opponent) gasping. I consider it one of my best games."
      I am not exactly sure who Reshevsky’s opponent was. Some sources say his name was “Arnaldo” while others say it was a young Brazilian played named “Fernando." 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


     Chess engines have a place in training, but most masters I’ve talked to prefer to do the work themselves, using programs to check databases and make a quick check of really complicated lines. The goal is to raise their understanding and most think this can’t be achieved by fiddling around with engines all the time. Improvement is achieved through hard, meaningful work. Chess is about understanding.
      Obviously there are a variety of ways to use computers but how do GMs utilize them? For GMs, games databases are high on the list. As for opening preparation, most GMs believe deep opening preparation can wait until a player is around 2200-2300.
      Engines are excellent and efficient tactical training tools. Even so, most GMs recommend staying away from chess engines until reaching an advanced level. The reason is that the use of chess engines for the beginner to average player is a waste of time. Why is this? Simple. Most players can’t resist the urge to race through whatever material they are studying without actually comprehending anything.
      Irina Mikhailova, a GM trainer at the Petrosian Chess Club in Moscow has pretty well defined what it takes to become a master and therefore, what things one must study to get there. 
1-The 2200 level a player must have a good opening repertoire which includes 2 openings as White and 2 defenses as Black.
2-Tactics: a 60-70 per cent of a success rate solving problems of intermediate difficulty
3-a firm knowledge of the basics of chess strategy. Strategy includes how a position's evaluation is developed and what are its components. This includes: familiarization with about 15-25 common plans from classic examples.
4- typical endings: evaluation, plan of play and standard tactical methods for approximately 250 endgame positions.

      Mikhailova also states that it is necessary to acquire the skills of working with a computer and with chess software at this level (i.e.2200).

      There you have it. Use your set and board, buy a bunch of notebooks, some opening books, tactics books, strategy books and endgame books, then devise a study plan that covers all phases of the game. 

USCF Senior Master Mark Buckley said it best. When he got serious about studying, his goal was to become an all around player. Sounds like a plan.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Kevin Spraggett Owes Me!

I just noticed this Blog has had almost a thousand hits of people looking for his new Blog. Wow! Most of them finding my post on his new site have stayed here less than one minute.  Not that I blame them; Spragget’s Blog is more interesting than mine and he is a GM; me? I’m a BM.

Robert Gruchacz

      Robert Gruchacz, or “Grooch” as he was known, became an IM in the 1980s. He was an investment tycoon who made and lost several fortunes. After graduating from St. Peter's Prep and also Columbia University, Gruchacz played chess in Europe for five years and was a two-time champion of New Jersey. He gave up chess as soon as he got the title and his Elo rating stood at 2335. 
      He moved to Chicago in 1981 and traded on the Chicago Options Exchange until 1999. He passed away in Scottsdale, Arizona in 2006. Gruchaz was known as a likeable person and a good positional player. His favorite saying was, “(insert move in question), why would any human being want to play a move like (insert move in question)?”