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Sunday, December 31, 2017

Friday, December 29, 2017

Sonja Graf

Graf in 1941
   Susanna (Sonja) Graf (December 16, 1908 – March 6, 1965) was born in Germany but lived in Argentina and the United States. She was women's world co-champion, two-time US women's champion and author of two books which describe her life in chess as well as the sufferings of her abusive childhood.

     Born in Munich, she was the daughter of Josef Graf and Susanna Zimmermann, both Volga Germans from the Samara region, who had moved to Munich in September 1906. Her father was originally a priest in Russia, but moved to Munich to pursue life as a painter. She later wrote that despite the suffering she endured at the hands of her father, she was grateful that he taught her the game of chess when she was still a child
     According to research by Alfred Schattmann of Munich many of the riddles of Graf’s youth seem to be solved.
     The family of Josef Graf (born 1869) lived originally in Liebenthal, a small village in the Volga region near the large city Samara (known as Kuybishev in the Soviet Union. His parents were farmers.
     Josef's "wife" was Susanna Zimmermann. The couple lived in Munich from September 1906 on and their first child, Maria, was born in Munich in 1900.
     At some point it appears the family moved back to Russia to the seaport of Taganrog sited at the Asow Sea which is a part of the Black Sea. There two children were born: Valeria and Oskar. A fourth child, Alex, was born in Germany in 1907), in Dachau. He emigrated to Australia in 1956. Susanna (Sonja) Graf was born in 1908 and there followed Helene (1910) and Artur Wolfgang (1912).
     In January 1915, the family moved to Elisabethstr. Her father's profession was listed as an artist (painter) and Roman Catholic priest. In 1919 the family was repatronized as German citizens and the Grafs were finally married in 1920. Sonja's father died in Munich in 1935 in Munich. Nothing further is known of her mother.
     Sonja Graf’s register card gave her profession as "Kindermadchen" (a nanny) and "Kunstgewerblerin" ( a craftswoman). Later it was given as "Schachmeisterin" (female chessmaster). From 1926 to 1927 she stayed in a Fürsorgeheim which is a kind of "boarding-school,” not a Lyceum as she described in her book. In Germany a Luceum, or Gymnasium, was the most advanced of the three types of German secondary schools. From the end of 1927 to end of 1929 she left Munich to Kirchschonbach in the south of Germany where she appears to have attended a boarding school run by nuns. According to her registry card she had lost the civil right to give a sworn testimony in court, so she must have committed a crime of some sort. One researcher suggested it was perjury. 
      Chess became her means of escape, both mentally and physically, and she began spending all her time in Munich chess cafes. Her fame as a coffeehouse player grew and she was introduced to and became the protegee of Siegbert Tarrasch.
     By age twenty-three she had beaten Rudolf Spielmann twice in simultaneous games and turned chess professional. She began traveling throughout Europe, following the chess circuit both for the experience and to distance herself from what she considered the ominous Nazi movement based, at the time, in Munich.
     During the early-1900s female chess players were a rarity and Graf basked in the popularity and attention her fame brought her and she enjoyed her itinerant lifestyle. In 1934, she played Vera Menchik in an unofficial Amsterdam match and, subsequently, in an official 1937 world championship match in Semmering, Austria. She lost both matches, but was invited, along with Menchik, to participate in what would normally have been an exclusive male tournament held that year in Prague.
     She drew with first place winner Paul Keres and defeated Frantisek Prokop (10th place) and Josef Dobias (12th, and last, place). Graf herself finished in 11th place.
     In the Spring of 1939 she was in Berlin and wanted to participate in the 1st Women's Championship of Greater Germany, but according to the rules the tournament was open only to players who were members of the Greater Germany Federation no later than November 1, 1938. Graf had fallen out of favor with the Federation and no longer wanted to represent Greater Germany. In her desperate situation, she remembered her Dutch friends and left for The Netherlands. In February 1939 in Amsterdam, she won a match 4-0 against Fenny Heemskerk (1919-2007), the Dutch Ladies Champion.
     Then one day she received news from her friend Dr. Rueb, then President of FIDE. He was one of the men she had worked with to help promote chess in Europe. He informed her that the Argentine Chess Federation, thanks to his intervention, had invited her to play the Women's World Championship that was going to take place in Buenos Aires at the same time as the "Nations Tournament."
     She set sail on the Highland Patriot in early August 1939. Later, on October 1, 1940 the Highland Patriot was sunk off Ireland while crossing the Atlantic. Three sailors were lost but the captain, 135 crew members and 33 passengers were picked up by another ship.
     Graf was not allowed to represent Germany as a result of her outspoken defiance of Hitler's government and played under the "Libre" flag. In September, with the tournament still in progress, Germany invaded Poland starting World War II. Graf won 16 games and lost 3. In her game against Menchik, Graf lost after achieving a winning position. In 1964 she told the New Yorker magazine, “Against Menchik, when she was world champion, I had a won game, but I found the three stupidest moves you could think of and lost.”

     Graf decided to remain in the safety of Argentina, learned Spanish, assimilated herself in the culture and wrote two books. This Is How a Woman Plays described her experiences as a chess player, and I Am Susann told of the physical and psychological abuse she suffered during her childhood. She also met merchant mariner Vernon Stevenson, whom she married in 1947.

     The Stevensons soon moved to Hollywood in Southern California and she began playing under the name Sonja Graf-Stevenson. She retired from chess to give birth and raise her son Alexander, but subsequently returned to tie with Gisela Kahn Gresser in the 1957 US Women's Chess Championship. She and her family then moved to New York City's Greenwich Village, where she gave chess lessons at Lisa Lane's Queen's Pawn Chess Emporium. In 1964 she won the US Women's Championship, but was already suffering from the liver ailment which would take her life the following year two-and-a-half months after her 56th birthday.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Russia vs. Rest of the World

     There have been three matches featuring USSR vs. Rest of the World: 1970, 1984 and 2002. The USSR team won tin '70 and '84 while the Rest of the World won in '02. The first two were held before the breakup of the Soviet Union in while the last match some of the countries who had been former members of the USSR team were on the Rest of the World team. 
     All of the matches the teams consisted of ten players, plus alternates. In the first two matches, the teams were arranged in board order and each member from one team played four games against his equivalent on the other team. The third match was a Scheveningen system in which each player played a game against ten different members of the other team using with a faster time control than the first two matches. 
     In the Spring of 1969 a train carrying Romanian representative to the chess congress was late in arriving and while some Yugoslav officials were waiting at the train station the conceived the idea for the match. Then, at the FIDE Congress in Puerto Rico in the Summer they presented the idea to Soviet officials who agreed, but wanted the match to be split between Belgrade and Moscow. The Yugoslavs were not amenable to that idea and so got the whole match and the bills...$100,000, well over six time that amount in today's currency. 
     Over the following months the problem was how to select the Rest of the World team. For team captain, Dr. Euwe, it was easy. He based his list on the Elo list with Fischer being at board one. But things weren't so simple. Fischer as the only one the Soviets really feared, but he hadn't played since 1968 and it was feat to even get in touch with him. When they finally did, Fischer's first response was an automatics, “No!” Then they invited him to Belgrade as a spectator at no cost to himself. His response was, “Maybe.” That is, he would play if his list of 23 playing conditions were met. His list included specifications regarding the lighting to his fee. After dozens of phone calls and telegrams an agreement was finally reached. 
      The fly in the ointment was Bent Larsen who had won several international tournaments and was angry about playing play second board. But Euwe convinced him that he'd end up on first board anyway because Euwe didn't really think Fischer would show up. When Fischer finally agreed to play, Larsen withdrew from the World team; he refused to play second board. Yugoslav officials chased Larsen, who was giving simultaneous displays in Holland, down and he reluctantly agreed to play. A few days later he changed his mind saying he was too tired. Yugoslav officials then used the same psychological trick on Larsen that they used on Fischer...come as a spectator at their expense and bring his wife. Eventually both Larsen and Fischer ended up in Belgrade; Fischer to play and Larsen to watch. 
     Somebody overheard Tigran Petrosian say that Larsen was right to insist on playing board one so he was asked to try and convince him to play on board two. Enter Bobby Fischer. He had agreed to play on board two...for a substantial fee. Now, out of nowhere, he said he would play on board two for nothing! But, would the Russians accept the arrangement? The Soviets were known to be inflexible when it came to high level protocols like board order and such.  
      Lost in the shuffle was Yugoslav GM Milan Matulovic's refusal to play if he had to play a lower board than East German GM Wolfgang Uhlmann whom he had beaten in a match. Nobody cared about Matulovic though and so he accepted his board 8 assignment. 
     The Soviets did accept the new arrangement and there were some questions about their board order which they explained as follows: World Champion Spassky, Former Champion Petrosian and candidate match finalist Korchnoi were natural choices for the first three boards. Then four GMs who who had obtained the right because of their finish in the Soviet Championship to compete in the next interzonal (Polugayevsky, Geller, Smyslov and Taimanov). The last three places went to GMs of special merit: Botvinnik, Tal and Keres. Reserves were sixth place finisher in the Soviet championship, Leonid Stein and David Bronstein, for Word Championship challenger. 

Round 1: Play ended with the score tied 3-3 and after adjournment Taimanov forced Uhlmann's resignation and Botvinnik defeated Matulovic and the Soviets lead 5-3. Hort nursed a microscopic advantage to a win over Polugayevsky and against Korchnoi, Portisch piddled away his advantage and only drew. The Soviets lead 5.5-4.5 
Round 2: The Soviets won 6-4 giving them a substantial lead of 11.5-8.5. 
Round 3: A miracle happened. With six games adjourned it was predicted that the round would end in a 505 tie. Fischer refused Smyslov's repeated draw offers and squeezed out a win. Tal downed Najdorf while Taimanov-Uhlmann and Ivkov-Keres drew. Then Portisch, with an inferior position managed to win from Korchnoi. That left Matulovic-Botvinnik. Matuovic was a P down in an inferior position, but imprecise play by Botvinnik lead to a drawn position. The Soviet captain wouldn't give him permission to agree to the draw, so Botvinnik “blundered” into a stalemate. Botvinnik's excuse was that after adjournment he had gotten befuddled by Matulovic's weak play. The World won the round by 6-4 and the Soviet's lead by 15.5-14.5. 
Round 4: Surprise. World Champion Spassky was replaced by Stein. On the World team, Reshevsky was replaced by Olafsson. The Najdorf-Tal and Hort-Polugayevsky games were drawn. Gligoric had the edge against Geller, but let it slip and Geller forced a draw. For the third time in the match Portisch mysteriously allowed Korchnoi to draw a worse position. This incurred the wrath of Fischer because Portisch had a winning position.bThis game was regarded by many as crucial in determining the final match result, since the match would have been tied if Portisch had won the game. Against Keres, Ivkov was playing for a win but made some bad moves and lost. Fischer started his last game two hours late because of religious reasons and adjourned a Pawn down, but managed to draw the following day. Larsen was playing to the public and won an exciting game against Stein. He also won a car. Olafsson played 25 moves after losing a piece to Smyslov only because it was his only game in the match. Matulovic managed to force a draw against Botvinnik. The round results were 5-5, making the final score 20.5-19.5 in favor of the Soviets.

      Fischer and Petrosian played on a special board. It was made of green and white marble and had been a gift from Fidel Castro to one of the Yugoslav dignitaries. Fischer also insisted the pieces be different; they could not be shiny. It was here at Belgrade that a group of GMs formed an international association to look after their interests because they did not feel they were being well served by FIDE.
The following game shows that there are “good” Qs and “bad” Qs. Qs need open lines and in this game Tal's Q controls the center and threatens Najdorf's K. On the other hand, Najdorf's own Q plays a very passive role. In both cases, the Qs effectiveness is dictated by the P-structure. 
     I came across this game in Reshevsky's book The Art of Positional Play and to be honest, I am not sure Reshevsky actually wrote the book. It's pretty well known that Fred Reinfeld ghosted the book on Reshevsky's best games and probably other ones, too. One thing we do know is that Reinfeld didn't ghost write this book because it was originally published in 1976 and Reinfeld died in 1964. The prose in the book just does not sound like Reshevsky's writing and it has some pretty glaring errors in analysis. If Reshevsky did indeed write it, he must have really rushed through the games making notes off the top of his head.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Booot...A Good Practice Engine

     Booot 6.2 is a UCI compliant open source chess program by Alex Morozov and in recent years has performed well in engine tournaments against the “also-rans.” Currently it is number 8 on CCLR complete 40/40 list with a rating of 3227. On the Chess Owl list it stands number 11 and is rated 3187. It's performance against the top-rated engines is pretty poor though, so I don't think it's of much value for analysis. Here are Booot's scores against the top five engines on the CCLR 40/40 list: 

asmFish (+1−32=16) 
SugaR XPrO (+0−18=14) 
Houdini (+0−20=12) 
Komodo 11.2 (+0−15=18) 
Stockfish 8 (+0−10=22) 

     Often when you artificially lower their strength engines don't play even close to the way humans do. However, Booot seems to have a human-like style and is an interesting practice partner. Over the holiday I was playing around with some of the engines I never use, but are installed on my Fritz GUI: Andscacs, Booot, Giraffe, McBrain, Roce, SmarThink, Symphysodon and Zappa. 
     I played a bunch of 10 minute games against them in the Sparring Mode. In this mode the program plays a reasonably strong game, but at the same time makes tactical errors. If the program finds a move that allows the opponent to gain a tactical advantage in a clever way, it will play that move. It is a very realistic human style, the kind you encounter in a chess club. You can select the grade of difficulty of the tactics: Very easy for players with an Elo of around 1400 and usually involves finding forks and two move combinations. Normal is meant for players between 1700 and 1900, and very hard is for players from 1900 and, so it says, all the way up to GMs. 
     I also experimented with playing it in the handicap mode. In this mode you can adjust playing strength from 1375 to 2300, the blunder range, attack on the king, King's defense, Piece placement, P-structure, mobility, canter control, piece trading, variety of openings ans piece play. I left everything at the mid-range setting (default) and adjusted the playing strength to 2100. The problem with this is that engines will often make a blunder at some point, but for most of the game play at GM strength. 
     But, using one of the weaker engines in the Sparring mode, I could, to some extent, overcome these problems. The engine that proved to be the most fun was Booot. It did play reasonably human-like especially in the Sparring mode as evidenced by the game below. I think it might make a good practice engine because it's moves did seem reasonably human-like. Version 6.2 can be downloaded from HERE.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

British House vs. US House Cable Match of 1897

    In the aftermath of the Venezuela Crisis of 1895, when the United States invoked the Monroe Doctrine and raised tensions with Great Britain, Member of Parliament Henniker Heaton approached Speaker of the House Thomas B. Reed of Maine on an unusual diplomatic errand. What if, Heaton proposed, the two legislatures played a chess match to soothe relations and renew friendships?
     When Reed agreed, North Carolina Representative Richmond Pearson of the Foreign Affairs Committee took the lead. “While our Governments are discussing a treaty of perpetual peace, we venture to express hope that hostility between the two countries will never assume a harsher form than a contest at chess,” Pearson said, “the most noble, the most ancient, and the only universal game known among the peoples of the earth.”
     After receiving the challenge in March, Reed referred the matter to Congressmen Richmond Pearson of North Carolina and R.C. Shannon of New York who were the leading players in the house. They then called a meeting of known players and, as congressmen do, a committee was appointed with the authority to arrange the details. 
    Prior to the actual match, House Members competed against each other to select the best chess players. Once assembled, the “chess dream team” trained at the posh Metropolitan Club of Washington, where they practiced against other chess enthusiasts. The match began at 2 p.m. Washington time (7 p.m. London time) and continued for 5 hours at a rate of 15 moves per hour.

The Americans:
Richard Pearson of Asheville, North Carolina was thought to be the strongest player in Congress. He was a 45-year old lawyer serving his second term.  Later in his career he served as ambassador to Genoa, Persia, Greece, and Montenegro.  John Shaforth of Denver, Colorado was 43-years old and a graduate of the University of Michigan and also a lawyer. At one time he had been president of the Denver Chess Club. He hadn't played chess in a number of years and did some brushing up to prepare for this match. In appearance he was said to resemble Jackson W. Showalter. Robert Bodine, a lawyer, of Paris, Mississippi at 59 was the oldest member of the team. He was known to be well-versed on openings, but not an especially good analyst. T.S. Plowman of Talladega, Alabama was 54-years old and had been a bank president and mayor of Talladega for several years. Levin Irving Handy of Newark, Delaware was, at the age of 36, the youngest on the team and enjoyed a reputation as a good player. By profession he was a lecturer, writer and journalist.

The British:
John H. Parnell was the older brother of the quirky Charles Parnell, a British politician. Before the match he complained of not feeling well, but during the game played with deliberate concentration. L.A. Atherly-Jones was the son of Ernest Jones, a writer, lecturer, poet and agitator who once went to jail for two years. H.C. Plunkett was the brother of Lord Dunsany.  Plunkett was interested in agriculture and spent a long time in Wyoming where he had business interests. A. Strauss was a Liberal Unionist and was a partner in a firm of leading tin merchants and a speculator on the Metal Exchange. F.W. Wilson came from a long line of tenant farmers and was described as half country squire and half journalist. He had a financial interest in several papers. He was described as a man of about 50 with a white beard, a mischievous eye and a sly, dry humor. J.H. Heaton was best known in England as the advocate of postal reform. Aside from chess, his favorite indoor activity was giving dinner parties.
     The Anglo-American Telegraph Offices in London and Western Union in Washington, D.C. set the ground rules for the matches and made arrangements for the receipt and transmission of the moves. They left nothing to chance by employing operators who were seasoned players to work the lines. In some instances, messages concerning the game moved back and forth across the Atlantic in 40 seconds. During the second day of the play, 20 moves were exchanged in roughly 21 minutes.
     After some initial confusion over who would telegraph the opening move, the Speaker of the House of Commons William Gully wired the first message: “To American Speaker—I am glad to hear that a friendly match is about begin between the two Houses, and trust this is the most serious conflict in which they will ever meet.”
    The reply was, “Speaker to Speaker — Thanks for your friendly message. Please convey to the players my regret that I cannot send best wishes just now, but hope to do so always hereafter.—T. B. Reed, Speaker.”
    The match opened in the Foreign Affairs Committee room and drew a crowd of spectators from around the District of Columbia. Dignitaries representing England, Sweden, Spain, Switzerland, and Russia also arrived at the U.S. Capitol and served as board proxies for the Members of Parliament.
     On May 31, 1897, the first day of the event, players completed two of the five matches and the score was tied. The next morning, after a full day of play, and another two boards completed (with a win apiece).  Learning of the tie the British gave three cheers for the President of the United States. Representative Pearson responded, “Have announced the result a draw, and the company have given three hearty cheers for her Majesty the Queen.”

The results:
Bd. 1) Horace Plunkett (GB) vs. Richard Pearson (US)
Plunkett opened with the King's Gambit and his opponent misplayed the opening as early as move 8 and ended up resigning after 15 moves.  Plunkett only used 5 minutes for the entire game!
Bd. 2) John F. Shaforth (US) vs. John H. Parnell (GB)
Shafroth defeated his ill opponent in 59 moves.
Bd. 3) A. Strauss (GB) vs. R.N. Bodine (US)
Strauss played the Ruy Lopez and both sides played well. Strauss succeeded in establishing a passed P, but blundered badly in a position where he had a slight advantage.. Bodine asked Strauss if he wanted to take his move back, but Strauss let the move stand, and resigned on his 26th move. See the full game below.
Bd 4) T.S. Plowman (US) vs. Llewellyn A. Atherley-Jones (GB)
Plowman played very aggressively in the Ruy Lopez and sacrificed a piece on move 35. The game was adjourned. Atherely-Jones overstepped the time limit, but the US team refused to accept the win on time and gave him another 10 minutes. Atherley-Jones' position was completely lost, but Plowman, who was playing very carelessly and had already missed a couple of wins, fell victim to a swindle involving a R sacrifice and lost.
Bd 5.) F.W. Wilson (GB) vs. L. Irving Handy (US)
Drawn in 48 moves. Handy was surprised by his opponent's rapid play. The opening was characterized by exchanges. Wilson managed to win a Pawn, but Handy seized the open g-file with his Rook and soon recovered his Pawn. An interesting N vs. B ending ensued, but Handy managed to get his King into play and secure the draw.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Anyone can hang a piece, but a good blunder requires thought. - Tim Krabbe

      The other day I was playing over some of my old OTB games and came across this one from back in 1976. I scored +2 -1 =2 in the tournament, but in my two wins I discovered that both of my opponents resigned in drawn positions. How lucky can you get?
     As FM Dennis Monokroussos said, there may be nothing worse than resigning in a winning position; Tim Krabbe once discovered 35 examples where it happened. Monokroussos also added that resigning in a drawn position, as my opponent did in this game, doesn't feel very good either. He wisely added that it isn't always obvious that the position ought to be drawn, so vigilance is needed to the very end.
     At Dos Hermanas in 1999 Peter Svidler took a draw against Anand when he had a forced win. And, in his match against Deep Blue in 1997 Kasparov first resigned a game he could have drawn, then later in a tournament took a draw against Joel Lautier in a position that he could have won.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Snots At The Chess Board

    Away from the board Robert J. Fischer may have been a real snot, but when his opponent's sat down to play him, they knew his behavior would be impeccable. The same can't be said for everybody. 
     I remember the 1975 US Championship where Reshevsky kept rattling gum wrappers and coughing when it was his opponent's (Milan Vukcevich) turn to move. As for Vukcevich, he got a chuckle out of Reshevsky's antics. Then there was Reshevsky's attempt to hinder Benko from punching the clock by holding the button down with his finger when Benko got into time trouble in their last round game. Not to be flustered, Benko used simple physics...the force generated by his moving fist easily overcame the pressure exerted by Reshevsky's tiny finger.
     Famous incidents of bad behavior at the board are former world champion Alekhine resigning against Ernst Grunfeld at Vienna in 1922 and throwing his King across the room. A Canadian IM urinating on the board at a local tournament. In 1981 John Fedorowicz and Andras Adorján got into a fistfight at the Edward Lasker Memorial in New York. Fedorowicz was upset that Adorján beat him when Adorján was drawing all his earlier games.
    In 2003, Kasparov lost to Radjabov and preferred to walk away and let his time expire rather than speak the dreaded words, “I resign.” When Radjabov was awarded the brilliancy prize, Kasparov pulled a Kanye West when he walked up on the stage, grabbed the microphone, and launched a 10 minute tirade saying the award was a public insult and humiliation because Radjabov was completely lost in the game. 
     Or Korchnoi walking away without out a word when he lost to Irina Krush at Gibraltar in 2007. Then later seeing her analyzing the game told her, “It’s good to know theory, but you should learn how to play chess as well.” Sometimes it's just the refusal to shake hands at the start of the game.
     There were a couple of incidents at the 1969 California Championship which was won by USCF Master Donald Blohm. The Hong Kong flu struck before the tournament began. The 1968 flu pandemic which broke out in 1968 and 1969 killed an estimated one million people worldwide. Because it originated in Hong Kong, the pandemic was called the Hong Kong flu...makes sense. The flu prevented Charles Henin, Tibor Weinberger, George Hunnex and Rex Wilcox from playing. John Blackstone got sick, but managed to finish.
     Going into the last round Blohm only needed a half point to clench first, but things were more complicated for his opponent Ray Schutt. If Schutt won he'd finish first. If he drew he'd be tied for second. If he lost he'd be tied for third.
     Blohm played 1.e4. Not knowing Blohm's intentions, Schutt didn't move, but asked Blohm if he was playing for a draw. Blohm then claimed the question was, in effect, a draw offer which he accepted and the TD upheld his claim. The rule had long been that any time you asked your opponent what his intentions were, it constituted a draw offer. But, it didn't end there. After the TD's decision Schutt played 1...g6 and then wrote a letter of protest to the president of the California Chess Federation, Isaac Kashdan, the Executive Director of the USCF, Ed Edmondson, and to the chairmen of the Northern and Southern California tournament committees plus the players in the tournament. His protest was overruled and Blohm was State Champ on a technicality, not a win over the board.
     There was another incident involving Schutt. In his game against Jude Acers, Schutt was a Pawn down, but still had some play when they reached adjournment. Schutt recorded his move, placed in in the envelope and stopped his clock. Acers claimed the procedure was illegal because the envelope was not sealed and so the move had not been completed when the clock was stopped. When the TD arrived Acers claimed the game, but the TD ruled Schutt should be penalized 20 minutes on his clock, not forfeited. In a snit, Acers refused to play the game out at resumption and was forfeited. Apparently Acers went home after that because he was forfeited in the remaining two rounds. In addition to the game forfeits, Acers also forfeited his sixth place prize money.
     Raymond W. Schutt was born in 1944 and grew up in Hayward, California. Graduating from high school in 1962, he studied math and received Bachelors and Masters degrees from San Jose State University after which he had a career in the aerospace industry. Never more than a journeyman Master, Schutt had a life-long passion for chess and became one of the strongest players in the area, playing in the California State Closed Championship several times in the late 1960s. His grandest achievement was becoming US Senior Open Champion in 1995 when he defeated GM Eduard Gufeld 2-0 in a blitz playoff for the title. He was also an accomplished correspondence player. He passed away in Boulder City, Nevada in 2007.

Monday, December 18, 2017

One of Fischer's Most Incredible Tournament Victories

     America's Golden Boy, Bobby Fischer's decisive win in the Interzonal at Palma de Mallorca Interzonal in 1970 wasn't a big surprise, but the way he won was incredible; he won by a 3.5 margin ahead of Robert Huebner, Bent Larsen, and Yefim Geller. 
     Other great players included: Miroslav Filip, Svetozar Gligoric, Vlastimil Hort, Borislav Ivkov, Milan Matulovic, Henrique Mecking, Oscar Panno, Lev Polugaevsky, Lajos Portisch, Samuel Reshevsky, Vasily Smyslov, Mark Taimanov and Wolfgang Uhlmann.
     At the end of round 16 with seven rounds to go, Fischer's score stood at 11.5. Trailing him were Geller and Uhlmann (10.5), Taimanov (10.0), Huebner, Larsen, Gligoric and Portisch (9.5). In the remaining rounds Geller could make no progress while Huebner and Larsen surged to tie him for second place. Fischer? He won seven games in a row.
     One of the more famous incidents was when Argentina's Oscar Panno cut his own throat in the last round. With the top six qualifying for the Candidates and a seventh spot available for a reserve. Any of the players with 12.5 had a theoretical chance of qualifying for the reserve spot. That was important because you could never be sure if Fischer was going to participant in the next event.
     Panno was scheduled to play black against Fischer in the last round. The organizers had scheduled the last round to begin on Saturday at 4:0 PM. But Reshevsky and Fischer couldn't play due to their Sabbath observances so their games were scheduled to start after sundown at 7:00 PM. Panno protested that all games should start at the same time so nobody would have an unfair advantage. Reshevsky's opponent, Duncan Suttles, had no problem with the arrangement and the two played a 23-move draw. Fischer showed up at 7:00 PM. But Panno was nowhere to be found. Fischer played 1.c4 and not wanting to accept a forfeit, went to Panno's hotel room and tried to talk him into playing, but Panno refused.    
     According to Larry Evans, Panno arrived after the hour was up and he had been forfeited, wrote “Resigns” on his score sheet and left. I am not sure it this is actually what happened; Evans was known to be a little “loose” with his stories. Why would Panno bother to show up after he had been forfeited? Why write “Resigns” on his score sheet? He did not resign, he lost on forfeit. While Panno's chance at qualifying were theoretical, he would have to beat Fischer with the black pieces and the other games would all have to work out in his favor, who knows what would have happen if he had played? 
     As it was, there was a playoff match between Portisch and Smyslov for the reserve spot, played in Portoroz in 1971. The match was drawn, and Portisch was awarded the spot due to better tiebreaks from the tournament. After this tournament Fischer went on to win the World Championship.
     In this game we'll take a look at a first round game between two of the players with somewhat surprising results. Tudev Ujtumen of Mongolia and Samuel Reshevsky. 
     At the age of 59 Reshevsky's best years were behind him, but his 17th finish with a minus score was still a disappointment. Too many draws and a couple of losses to bottom finishers left him in the dust. 
    Ujtumen began Palma 1970 with three straight wins and was all alone in first place. Of course that wasn't going to last, but he DID draw Fischer. He ultimately tied for 20th place with a score of 8.5.
     Tudev Ujtumen was born in Altaj, Mongolia August 27, 1939 and died at the age of 53 in 1993. He became Mongolia's first IM in 1965. In 1969, he won the West Asian zonal tournament in Singapore. In other international tournaments, he took 15th at Sochi 1964, 15th at Sochi 1965, 9th at Havana 1967, tied for 11-13th at Tbilisi 1971 and 9th at Dubna 1973.
     Ujtumen was a three-time winner of the Mongolian Chess Championship, in 1972, 1978 and 1986. He played six times for Mongolia in Chess Olympiads (1964–1974). He won the individual gold medal on second board (+11 −1 =5) at Tel Aviv 1964 and silver on second board (+12 −3 =3) at Siegen 1970.
     According to Chessmetrics. Ujtumen's highest rating was achieved in January 1971 at 2565 which placed him 117th in the world. His normal rating was in the low to mid 2400s.