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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

USA vs. Soviet Union Radio Match 1945

     This match, played in a grueling four-day ordeal with the moves transmitted between Moscow and New York via radiotelegraphy, took place in the closing hours of WWII - in fact, President Truman declared V. J. Day on September 2, the second day of the match.
     The American team was comprised of players, many of whom had been part of the pre-war, American-dominated world games, the Chess Olympiads. The Soviet team consisted of a very strong line-up of players in which a new-comer, David Bronstein, played the last board.
     Before WWII, the USSR players seldom participated in events outside the Soviet Union and only rarely did a Soviet master play against a foreign opponent. It had been long known that the Soviets were good players and the country had produced many strong masters, but as it was hard to quantify the unknown, their actual strength was mostly a matter of conjecture.
     The suggestion of a USA-USSR match via radiotelegraph was extended as a good-natured reaction to the hesitant alliance between the two countries in the war against Germany with the hope that their peacetime alliance would be equally successful.
     The U.S. went into the match with the expectation that it would be a tightly contested battle, but one which they would eventually win. It was generally accepted that, at the very least, Fine and Reshevsky would come through with plus scores. The idea that the Soviets would literally crush the US team was one that few westerners entertained.
     This match was one of great historical significance and interest. It was as well publicized and as well documented as it was well conducted. The match caught the attention not just of chess players, but of the general public and for the four days that it lasted, newspapers across the country (and in the USSR) were filled with reports of its progress. The venue for the U.S. players was the Henry Hudson Hotel in New York City and for the Soviets, it was the House of Culture of the Transport Workers in Moscow. New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia arrived early to wish every one in sight good luck before he made the first move for Denker on board 1.
     The United States team made a bad start and at the end of the end of play on the first day the Russians were leading by a score of two to nothing and the games they won were on the first and second boards against the current U.S. champion, Arnold S. Denker, and Samuel Reshevsky. 
     Denker lost to Botvinnik, the Soviet champion; Reshevsky to Smyslov. Botvinnik sacrificed a Pawn against Denker who was unfamiliar with the opening and quickly lost.  On board 2, Reshevsky walked into a thoroughly prepared variation. Reshevsky took 1 hour and 38 minutes to play the first 23 moves while Smyslov rattled them off in 8 minutes. In the end, Denker lasted only 25 moves and Reshevsky resigned after using all his two and a half hours; Smyslov had played 41 moves in 1 hour, 11 minutes and had 1 hour and 19 minutes to spare.
     It was apparent that the Americans had been outplayed in the openings and in an interview conducted many years later, Bronstein speaking of “The Soviet School of Chess" said of the match, “Well it all began in 1945 when we played the match with the U.S. and won it. Do you know how come that we won? We studied the openings. And we didn’t give them the chance to get out of the opening. We beat them on their half of the board. They didn’t get off the ground. The entire opening theory is about not letting Black get off the ground. In contrast, for Black it is all about how to take off the ground."

     The outlook on the other boards was not encouraging for the U.S. team as Al Horowitz and Abraham Kupchick had bad games at adjournment. The rest of the Americans had fairly even positions though.
     The second day of the match was officially declared V-J Day by President Truman and World War 2 had officially ended and when the second session opened at 10 a.m. Moscow immediately offered several draws: Boleslavsky vs. Fine, Kotov vs. Kashdan, Bondarevsky vs. Steiner and Lilienthal vs. Pinkus, but they were all refused. Refusing the draws turned out not to be a good idea because shortly after play started heads began to roll.
     On receiving Flohr's sealed move from the night before, Horowitz resigned. Kashdan blundered in an even position and resigned but a few minutes later the United States scored it's first half-point when Lilienthal offered a draw which Albert Pinkus accepted. But soon after that, Abraham Kupchik resigned to Makogonov and the score stood stood at 5½ to ½ in favor of the Soviets. Then Fine drew with Boleslavsky. Finally, Herman Steiner became the hero of the hour when he won his game against Bondarevsky.
     Play finished when Anthony Santasiere resigned his game against Bronstein and the first round ended with a final score of 8-2. The Soviet team had won seven, drawn 2, lost only one.
     The second round began at 9 a.m. on September 3rd - Labor Day. At board 1, Denker took 48 minutes over his first seven moves, but it did him no good as he resigned after receiving Botvinnik's 30th move. All the other games were adjourned but the prospects of making a better score than in the first round were none too bright. Boleslavsky and Kotov were so confident of success that they sent their 41st moves without even bothering to seal them for adjournment.
     At board 2, Reshevsky had another lost game against Smyslov, again as a result of Smyslov's superior opening play. Smyslov took only 13 minutes for the first 14 moves while Reshevsky stewed over them for 1 hour and 21 minutes and got himself into serious time trouble, having to make 17 moves in 2 minutes. Reshevsky finished within the time limit but a blunder on his 39th move cost him the game.  In a snit, Reshevsky said, "If my opponent were sitting opposite me he wouldn't be playing such good chess."
     Horowitz had a sure win against Flohr and at the end of the day, the score stood at 9½ to 2½ but it was obvious that the match was lost.
     The final session began on Tuesday, September 4th which began with Flohr resigning to Horowitz without resuming, but when Fine and Kashdan resigned their games, also without resuming, and the match was in the bag for the Soviet team with a score of 11½ to 3½. After play was completed the final score was: Soviet Union 15.5 – 4.5 (+13 -2 =5).

Bd 1: Mikhail Botvinnik 2 vs. Arnold Denker 0
Bd 2: Vasily Smyslov 2 vs. Samuel Reshevsky 0
Bd 3: Isaac Boleslavsky 1.5 vs. Reuben Fine 0.5
Bd. 4: Salo Flohr 1 vs. I.A. Horowitz 1
Bd. 5: Alexander Kotov 2 vs.Isaac Kashdan 0
Bd. 6: Igor Bondarevsky 0.5 vs. Herman Steiner 1.5
Bd 7: Andor Lilienthal 1 vs. Albert Pinkus 1
Bd 8: Viacheslav Ragozin 2 vs. Herbert Seidman 0
Bd. 9: Vladimir Makogonov 1.5 vs. Abraham Kupchik 0.5
Bd 10: David Bronstein 2 vs. Anthony Santasiere 0

The following players were reservists for the U.S. team, to be called on, in the order given, if any of the primary team are unable to compete: Alexander Kevitz, Robert Willman, Jacob Levin, George Shainswit, Weaver W. Adams, Edward Lasker, Fred Reinfeld, E.S. Jackson, Jr., Samuel Factor, and Martin C. Stark. The Soviet reserves were: Alexander Konstantinopolsky, Vitaly Chekhover, Iosif Rudakovsky, and Peter Romanovsky. 

Soviet Players Comment on the Match.


Monday, March 30, 2015

Mona May Karff

    Mrs. Karff (20 October 1908 or 1911 or 20 October 1914 – 10 January 1998) was one of the top female U.S. players in the 1940's and 1950's.
     She was born Mona May Ratner in Bessarabia, a province in Tsarist Russia. Sometime after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 her family moved to Tel-Aviv. Her father, Aviv Ratner, a Zionist who acquired a vast amount of property in Tel Aviv and later became one of the richest men in Israel, had taught her to play chess when she was 9 years old. Because of her natural ability, she started playing in tournaments in Tel-Aviv and developed into a strong player. In 1937, while in Palestine, she played on their team at the women's world championships.
     In the 1930s, she moved to Boston, Massachusetts where she married her cousin, an attorney named Abraham S. Karff (15 March 1901 – 16 February 1995). The marriage was brief and she never remarried but her long-time romantic relationship with Edward Lasker was never a secret. Lasker was 25 years older than Karff but friends recalled them as a perfectly matched couple. She spoke eight languages fluently, traveled extensively and spent a great deal of her money on modern art. Nobody knows exactly where her fortune came from, but she was known to be a shrewd investor in Wall Street and supposedly made millions in the stock market. Living in New York City, she was a daily visitor at the Marshall Chess Club where one of her regular partners was Edward Lasker. She once told a friend, “I was born with chess in my blood.”
     Karff played in three Women's World Chess Championships: 1937 Stockholm, playing for Palestine and placing sixth (won by Vera Menchik); 1939 Buenos Aires, playing for the U.S. and placing 5th (also won by Menchik); 1949 Moscow, playing for the U.S. (won by Lyudmila Rudenko). When FIDE established titles in 1950, she was one of four American women to receive the title of Woman International Master. On the 1956 USCF rating list, the first I could find with women's ratings, the top women were Gisela Gresser (2056), Sonja Graf (2040), Nancy Roos (2008), and Karff (2004). This is probably somewhat skewed because in those days women generally did not compete in men's events.
    Karff, along with Gisela Gresser and Mary Bain, dominated U.S. women's chess in the 1940s and early 1950s. Karff won her first U.S. Women's Champion title against Adele Rivero (later Adele Belcher) in 1938 and was to win the title six more times: 1941, 1943, 1946, 1948 (sharing it with Gresser), 1953 and in 1974 (at age 66). She also won four consecutive U.S. Open women's titles. Despite her success in U.S. tournaments she never fared well in foreign competition and always finished well back in the field. In 1948 she toured Europe for the One World movement.
     She died on January 10, 1998 at her home on Riverside Drive in Manhattan; the cause was heart failure. She was 86. Her only surviving relatives lived in Tel Aviv.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Imre Konig

     Imre Konig (Sept 2, 1901, Gyula, Hungary – 1992, Santa Monica, California) was a Hungarian-Austrian-English-Yugoslav-American master who was born in Gyula, Hungary. The Social Security Death Index states that he was born 9 February, 1901 and died 9 September, 1992 in Santa Monica, California. 
     He studied in Vienna and improved his game in its cafes. His book, Chess from Morphy to Botvinnik: A Century of Chess Evolution, became a classic. Konig was a great analyst as well as an entertaining writer and in the book, published in 1950, he traced the development of such classic openings as the Ruy Lopez and Queen's Gambit. Oddly, one of the openings not covered in the book was the Sicilian which he planned to cover in a successor volume, but it was never completed.
     In 1921, he took 2nd in Celje and in the 1920s König played in several tournaments in Vienna: 3rd in 1921, 14th in 1922 (Akiba Rubinstein won), 3rd-4th in 1925, 4-5th in 1926 (Rudolf Spielmann won), and 3rd-5th in 1926. He finished 2th in Rogaška Slatina (Rohitsch-Sauerbrunn) in 1929 (won by Rubinstein).
     In 1929/30, he took 7th in Vienna (Hans Kmoch and Spielmann won). In 1931, he took 4th in Vienna (Albert Becker won). In 1936, he tied for 6-7th in Novi Sad (Vasja Pirc won). In 1937, he tied for 2nd-4th in Belgrade (Vasilije Tomović won).
     Konig twice represented Yugoslavia in Chess Olympiads where he played under the name Mirko Kenig. In the 4th Chess Olympiad at Prague 1931 (+5 –1 =2), the 6th Chess Olympiad at Warsaw 1935 (+5 –2 =8) and in 3rd unofficial Chess Olympiad at Munich 1936 (+7 –4 =7).
     In 1938 König emigrated to England. While in England he tied for 4-5th in Bournemouth (Max Euwe won), and shared 1st with Philip Stuart Milner-Barry in Hampstead. In 1946, he took 4th in London. In 1948/49, he took 2nd, behind Nicolas Rossolimo, in the Hastings Congress.
     In 1949, he became a naturalized British citizen and in 1953 he moved to the United States. Konig, awarded the IM title in 1951.
     California players remembered Konig for his Old World courtliness and generosity of spirit in sharing his chess wisdom. He was rated 2440 in Arpad Elo's book, The Rating of Chess Players, Past and Present, while Chessmetrics gives his rating as 2239 in 1922 which ranked him as number 37 in the world at the time.
     After Konig passed away at the age of 92, The Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club of San Francisco began holding the Imre Konig Memorial to commemorate the first top-rate player to reside in San Francisco. Konig had made his home in San Francisco from the early 1950s to around 1970 and was the first IM to live in the Bay Area.
     Konig was something of a mystery man.  Wikipedia says that he was born on 9 February, 1899 in Gyula, Hungary and that he was Hungarian. However, he was always thought of as Austrian and in his book it says he was a member of the Vienna School of Chess. It is true that his play was strongly influenced by Richard Reti and he studied in Vienna, so perhaps that explains the term “Vienna School of Chess.”
     Adding to the mystery was that it wasn't until in the mid-1990s that it was discovered that he had died and nobody knew when or where. Konig worked for many years in the Post Office in San Francisco and had retired from there, but he had rarely played or went to the chess club so people had lost track of him, some believing he had gone back to Austria.
     After immigrating to the U.S. he didn't play in any tournaments but gave a few simultaneous exhibitions. However, he did play regularly in the annual California North-South Match. Notable in those matches was that he played several games against Isaac Kashdan and had an even score.
     Characteristics of his play were daring, swashbuckling combinations and sacrifices. Enjoy this fantastically complicated game Konig played against the strong California master Tibor Weinberger.
     Weinberger, an FM and USCF Senior Master, was originally from Hungary and played in five Hungarian championships from 1952 through 1956.
     He came to the United States in 1957 and won the Minneapolis Open and the New Jersey Open. In 1958, he won the New Jersey State Championship and the Nebraska Open. In 1959, he won the California State Open, the Southern California Championship, and the 26th California Chess Championship.
     In 1961, he tied for 1st place in the California championship and won the Santa Monica Open. In 1963, he tied for 1st place in the California State Open. In 1964,1966 and 1967, he won the Pacific Southwest Open. In 1968, he won the Santa Monica Masters, the West Coast Open, the San Bernadino Open and the Long Beach Open. In 1968, he played in the U.S. Chess Championship in New York, taking 11th place. In 1968 and 1973, he won the California Open Championship.
     I remember him playing in the Cleveland (Ohio) international tournament in 1975 (won by Csom) after winning a qualifying tournament held in California. I attended most of the rounds of the Cleveland tournament and remember it had Gheorghiu, Quniteros, Csom, Kaplan, Mednis, Shamkovich, Torre, Tarjan, Soltis, Zuckerman, Christiansen, Grefe and Biyasis playing. That's only 15 players and I think there were 16, but I can't remember who the other participant was.
     It was in this tournament that IM Bernard Zuckerman threw a Bishop at a noisy spectator. Zuckerman kept asking the guy, who was a real butthead, to be quiet and when he wouldn't, Zuckerman threw a Bishop at him. When the TD tried to retrieve the B, the spectator wouldn't return it.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Attacking A King That Has Lost the Right to Castle

     This is the title of a chapter in Vladimir Vukovic's classic The Art of Attack in Chess. He wrote that this situation arises when the K is no longer able to castle or has been driven from the castling area, adding the warning that just because the K has lost the right to castle does not necessarily always justify undertaking an attack aimed at mate. For an attack of this kind to be feasible the K must be exposed and vulnerable.
     The pursuit of the K is not always successful so a player undertaking such a pursuit has to be careful that the fleeing K does not elude him. To this end, pursuing the K by endless checks may actually be detrimental to the cause. Sometimes spinning the mating net by the means of quiet moves is necessary. That's what we see in the following game. Smyslov's taking of his time to build the net takes precedence over the pursuit of Florian's King.
    Tibor Florian (1919-1990) was born in Budapest and was Hungarian champion in 1945. He won 1st prize in Belgrade 1948. Florian was awarded the IM title in 1950. Around 1960 he became very active in chess organization both in Hungary and in the FIDE and was an early coach of the Polgar sisters.     

     In the book Genius in the Background by Tibor Karolyi and Nick Aplin the authors tell that in 1944 Florian and another master, Laszlo Lindner (a fixture in Hungarian chess for over 50 years), were sent to a concentration camp in Yugoslavia where they kept their sanity by playing chess together. Near the end of the war the Germans arranged train transport, ostensibly back to Hungary, for the prisoners, but the train was stopped at one point and the occupants were forced to march back towards the Third Reich; few survived the march. Lindner and Florian forgot to board the train, being distracted by a game they were playing and as result, they survived the war.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A Latvian Gambit on LSS

     The late Ken Smith advocated playing gambits. Writing about 'Romantic chess' he said, “Romantic chess starts with the opening or defense. For example: White will play the King's Gambit, Vienna Gambit, BDG, Scotch Gambit, Danish-Goring Gambit, or the Evan's Gambit, and there are more.
     Black will play the Albin-Counter Gambit, Henning-Schara Gambit, Englund Gambit, Latvian, Elephant and many more. The ones playing gambits are examining the Romantic side of chess beyond a closed door. HOW COULD YOU POSSIBLY LIVE YOUR CHESS LIFE LOOKING AT A DOOR AND NOT OPEN IT??”
     As I wrote in a previous post, any unsound gambit is likely to be a successful weapon at lower levels. But just because 99 percent of us aren’t good enough to refute them does that mean it’s a good idea to play such an opening? It’s argued that by playing them you can improve your tactics, but couldn’t you just as likely win a tactical battle in the Najdorf Sicilian or the Nimzo-Indian? If your opponent is weaker (or maybe even a little better) than you isn’t he just as likely to make a tactical mistake in the Ruy Lopez as in the Latvian Gambit? Are you less likely to blunder in the Queen’s Gambit Declined than you are in the Blackmar Gambit? The point is, as GM Alex Yermolinsky argues, that it's better to start out with a good, solid position in a mainline opening than it is to hand your opponent a material and, usually, a positional advantage right from the start then struggle in an inferior position hoping your opponent makes the first tactical error.
     Still, gambits have those who firmly believe in them and I have even experimented with some offbeat gambits on Lechenicher SchachServer where engines are used. That's probably not a good idea because engines aren't going to make any tactical mistakes, but the results have been somewhat surprising. However, that hasn't been do to the value of the gambit; it's the way my opponent's have selected their moves.
      The games have been more interesting than following 20-30 moves of theory in the Najdorf Sicilian, Ruy Lopez or Nimzo-Indian and the results have been no worse.  Does that mean the gambits are sounder than it is generally believed? Probably not but many CC players are playing a lot of games and don't take the time to do a very through analysis; they just play the engine's first recommendation after letting it think a minute or two and that will often lead to disaster.
     If you want to play those risky gambits you have to be prepared to do a lot of research and analysis and it's scary looking into a position where all the engines are telling you that you are at a significant disadvantage. It proves Yermilinsky is right.  A lot of these gambits do start you out in an inferior position. So, why play them in CC events where engine use is allowed?  It makes the games more interesting and sometimes you get to give a big sigh of relief when you gradually see the evaluation starting to shift your way. Sometimes too, actually quite often, opponents who are playing a lot of games and who rush their moves will choose a second or third best move and you find you are beginning to gain the upper hand, then suddenly your opponent realizes he has stumbled into a lost position...it's not a very scientific approach but it beats slogging through an 80 move ending! What I usually do before playing such a gambit is take a look at how many games my opponent has going.  If he has a whole lot of them I know it's a safe bet he isn't spending a lot of time on analysis so it's possible some offbeat gambit will work.
     While looking over some games played at LSS I discovered the following Latvian Gambit game. I don't know much about the Latvian gambit, but it's one of those gambits that has a long history of diehard adherents. Not knowing much about the Latvian, I don't know if the players were following 'theory,' but it seems that black was never quite able to equalize or even generate any serious threats, but playing it was a gutsy move on his part. Also, I don't know what engines were used or how much analysis went into the game, but a lot of the moves didn't agree with Stockfish 6 or Komodo 8 running on 2 cores and in the fairly cursory (a minute or two per move) analysis I did, both engines offered what may have been slight improvements.

Some interesting sites on the Latvian Gambit:  The Chess Website, Dan Heisman's SiteChessdotcom article #1 and Chessdotcom article #2.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

1973 U.S. Championship

     For the first time in 25 years the U.S. Championship wasn't played in New York City; it was played in El Paso, Texas where it was sponsored by the local chess club and the Jaycees. The tournament was somewhat unique in that seven of the players were under 30 and were playing in the championship for the first time.
     Robert Byrne had declined his invitation in order to prepare for his candidates match with Boris Spassky and Reshevsky had also declined because he would be playing in the interzonal in Petropolis, Brazil. 
     William Lombardy cancelled at the very last minute - a telegram announcing his withdrawal arrived just before the first round began. That left Lubosh Kavalek and Larry Evans as the favorites.
     Walter Browne, born in Australia and the son of a Wall Street businessman, had come out of nowhere in the mid-1960s as the most promising U.S. junior since BobbyFischer. Browne, like Fischer, grew up in Brooklyn and honed his skills in the Manhattan Chess Club before he began winning a ton of junior titles and open Swiss tournaments.
     James Tarjan, a 21-year old humanities student from the University of California at Berkeley, was the son of a Hungarian- born psychiatrist and had been making a name for himself in West Coast tournaments. Tarjan had been working on a construction project doing hard physical labor and after work he relaxed with a chess set and a book on the Sicilian Dragon Variation. It paid off because he became one of the world's leading experts on the Dragon.
     John Grefe was a 25-year-old master originally from Hoboken, New Jersey, a vegetarian and follower of the Indian Guru Mahara-Ji.
     Another new player was a Northern Californian then living in New York City named George Kane. In 1972 he won the championship of the Marshall Chess Club in with a record score of 10.5 points out of 11 games and gained over 300 rating points, enough to qualify him for the U.S. Championship!

22nd  (1973) US Championship, El Paso, Texas
1. Kavalek 9.5 - 2.5
2. Grefe 9.5 - 2.5
3. Browne 8.5 - 3.5
4. Tarjan 7.5 - 4.5
5. Evans 6.5 - 5.5
6. Benko 6 -6
7. Karklins, A. 6 -6
8. Mednis 5.5 - 6.5
9. Bisguier 5 - 7
10. Gilden 4 - 8
11. Martz 3.5 - 8.5
12. Byrne, D. 3 -9
13. Kane 3 - 9
Kavalek and Grefe were declared co-champions.

Kane, an FM, was a professional player in the early 1970s. He represented the US in the Chess Olympiad in Skopje, Yugoslavia in 1972 but after his disaster in the 1973 championship he soon dropped out of chess. His highest rating was 2540. His last tournament was in 2013 in Minnesota where he finished in 2nd place with +4 -1 =4 and his current USCF rating is 2324. He authored a book titled Chess for Children in 1974. These days Kane lives in Minnesota and was a founding member of the Critical Thinking Club and is an active member of the Athiest Nexus Chess Club Group.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

S.W. Bampton vs D. Stuart

    The following game was played back in 1899 and it decided the Franklin Chess Club of Philadelphia Junior Championship. Probably the best known Franklin players of the day were Walter Penn Shipley and Emil Kemeny. The winner of this games was Samuel Warren Bampton (1863-1952) who had the distinction of winning the club's junior championship seven times: 1887, 1892 and 1885 through 1899! According to the Edo Historical Rating site, Bampton's highest rating was achieved in 1896 when he peaked at 2403.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Making a Correspondence Opening Book

    A few years back ICCF IM (current rating 2454) Wolf Morrow (aka FirebrandX) wrote an article for chessdotcom on opening preparation which you can read HERE
     In the article Morrow stated that on ICCF (and LSS) deep engine analysis drives most of your opponents' moves so it is vital to be well-prepared in the opening. His method is to create a database of all ICCF games then extract the first 40 moves into a new opening book. In the article Morrow also pointed out that many top GMs build their opening innovations based on ICCF games.
     I took Morrow's advice and in addition to ICCF games I also included 15 years of games played on LSS and then merged them all into one large database. My next step was to delete all the games played by players rated under 2200. I also chose to use only games played in the last four years because I reasoned that prior to that engines were not nearly as strong as they are today and I didn't want old games with outdated opening analysis included. This gave me a database of 91,000 master level games from which to create my opening book. The end result was an opening book with over 6 million positions!

Some statistics:
Opening moves by popularity. In parentheses is the won, lost, drawn percentage.

1.e4 (31-21-49)
1.d4 (29-19-51)
1.c4 (29-22-50)
1.Nf3 (27-21-52)

In reply to 1.e4 the Sicilian was the most popular (26-21-53) followed by 1...e5 (32-19-49) and the French (34-21-45). Against 1.d4 black gets his best results with 1...Nf6 (27-20-53) and 1...d5 (30-18-52) the King's Indian (29-18-53) and the Nimzo-Indian (23-20-57).

     Just for fun I made a book using all MY games. 1.e4 percentages were +32 -31 =37 while 1.d4 percentages were +39 -28 =33 so there was not much difference at the amateur level and I see I played the Grob Attack (1.g4) quite a few times and my percentage with it (I have never faced it) has been +86 -0 =14. That does not mean I didn't lose any games playing it, just that the loss percentage was less than one percent! I hasten to add that almost all of those games were against fairly low rated players which explains why it was so successful.
     In the end though I'm not sure how important this is at any level below the correspondence GM level...and by that I mean the really big boys that play at the world championship level.
     In one recent game against an ICCF rated 2300+ opponent as black I met his 1.Nf3 with 1...a6 and drew. In another game as white I played the Caro-Kann Milner-Barry Gambit against an OTB FM and drew.
     There was a surprise in one of my games. Against an ICCF Senior IM with me as white we opened with 1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 and now I played 3.e4 which according to my new opening book scores (percentages) +40 -16 =44!! What surprised me was the results of meeting the QGA with 3.e4. Upon checking I found that in the Rybka2 opening book the percentages are +41 -33 =26 and the Fritz opening book shows similar results. The meaning is that 3.e4 scores quite well for white and in correspondence play he has slim losing chances (16 percent vs. 33 percent OTB). 

Additional information on engine opening books:
Chess Programming Wiki 
Good Opening Books for Arena 
Free Hiarcs Opening Book Downloads 
Beginners Guide to Building Opening Books 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Eugenios M. Antonaidi

    This guy is a new one to me. According to the British Chess Magazine of 1907 he was born in Constantinople on 1 March 1870 of Greek parents and was taught how to play chess by his brothers at a young age. He began studying theory in 1888 by using Staunton's Handbook and later by playing over Morphy's games. While in Constantinople he played in four tournaments and finished first in all of them.
     In 1894 he went to France and succeeded in winning several games from a fellow named Stanislaus Sittenfeld who was strong enough to have drawn a match against Taubenhaus and defeated Janowsky in a match. Overall though, he lost most of his games against these two luminaries. Ten years later he began serious study of chess by playing over games played at the Hastings tournaments along with studying just about everything written by Tarrasch. The result was that he became the third best player in Paris behind Taubenhaus and Janowsky.
     In 1905 Antonaidi tied for first place in the Cafe de la Regence championship with a score of +12 -2 =0. As good as that result was, he surpassed it in a later tournament at the Cafe de la Regence (1-2 Marshal and Antoniadi 3-Tartakower 4-de Villeneuve followed by four others) when he defeated both Frank Marshall and David Janowsky, losing only one game (to Villeneuve) due to illness. In that game he had two passed Pawns and was up the exchange. It was this loss that enabled Marshall to tie with him which resulted in a 3-game match to determine the winner and Marshall managed to win by +1 -0 =2. Antonaidi's lifetime score against Marshall was even at +1 -1 =3. Antonaidi attributed his success entirely to his study of the works of Tarrasch and Morphy's games. At the same time he felt Steinitz and his “Modern School” to exhibit a “lack of genius.”
     Antoniadi wasn't only critical of Steinitz. He attacked Staunton, too, writing that he had "no praise to offer for either the strength or the character of Staunton, who had none of the qualities of the English nation.” He also attacked three authors of books on Morphy: Ernst Falkbeer, Geza Maróczy and Philip W. Sergeant saying they were jealous of Morphy and they tried to belittle him in their books. Apparently he had an especially strong dislike for Sergeant because he also criticized Sergeant's book on Charousek.
     Antoniadi spent most of his life in France and appears to have played no serious chess outside of that country. According to Edo ratings his best rating was 2325 in 1907.
     He was also an astronomer who specialized in the study of Mars and Mercury and drew excellent maps of them. In 1909 he demonstrated that the canals of Mars were an optical illusion. See Richard McKim’s talk at a Paris astronomy conference in 2009.  Antoniadi was also a noted architect, historian, artist, and he wrote about both the Egyptian pyramids and Egyptian astronomy. He died in Paris on 10 February 1944.
     The following game feature's Lasker's Defense to the Queen's Gambit and you can find a really good article on it at the Kenilworth Chess Club HERE.