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Thursday, November 30, 2017

An Early Postal Game by Keres

   Several great masters started playing postal chess and Paul Keres was an outstanding example. He first appeared in international play at the Team Tournament in Prague in 1935. At the age of 19, he was the leader of the Estonian team and complied one of the best scores of the event. Shortly thereafter he began a series of impressive successes at Margate 1937 and 1939, Semmering 1937 and AVRO 1938.
     Keres had also played many, many postal games which already showed some remarkable tactical play. He learned chess early. He wrote that he was not yet five years old he and his older brother watched their father played. Eventually, they discovered chess in magazines and books and Keres got himself a notebook in which he recorded notes to openings and hundreds of master games. It was at that time that he began playing chess by mail, sometime playing 150 games at a time! In all, he played about 500 postal games.
     The following game by the 18-year old Keres is an example of his swashbuckling style. Unfortunately, when the game was annotated by an unknown person in the 1940 Chess Review, it was annotated by result and reputation of the winner. As a result several undeserved exclamation marks were assigned to moves.  This is a frequent occurrence in old books and, especially, magazines because annotators were often rushed to get games ready for publication, so didn't spend a lot of time delving into all their secrets. Also, in those days almost nobody dared question a titled player! Of course, the fact that they didn't have Stockfish to point out tactical mistakes also has to be taken into consideration!. That doesn't detract from the games though because the concepts are still instructive and the games a whole lot of fun to play over.  For anybody wanting to hone their visualization skills this would be a good game to set up on an actual board and play over.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A Clever Tactic By Fred

    A few years ago (sometime in the late 1960s) I visited Dr. Albert Buschke's chess book store in Manhattan. In 1938 Albrecht Buschke, emigrated to the United States from Germany and brought a collection of chess books with him. His great knowledge of the subject enabled him to become the country's foremost used chess book dealers. One of the couple of books I picked up was a tattered and cheaply produced book on the 1951 Zonal tournament; it cost $6.00.
    One of the things I like about tournament books is that you get to see games that never make it into print for various reasons...the players weren't “name” players or the games weren't spectacular enough to make it into print, or maybe it was just that nobody played over them and so they were never noticed. These games also show chess as it's really played by journeyman masters down in the trenches. This game certainly wasn't spectacular until you see Fred's surprising 16th move. Skold played the opening rather passively and the result was a somewhat cramped position, but when he delayed castling one move too long, that was all it took to find himself in a lost position.
     Marianske Lazne (aka Marienbad) is a spa town in the Karlovy Vary Region of the Czech Republic. The town, surrounded by green mountains, is a mosaic of parks and noble houses. Most of its buildings come from the town's Golden Era in the second half of the 19th century, when many celebrities and top European rulers came to enjoy the curative carbon dioxide springs. The Zonal Tournament was held there in 1951 with the exception of the two last rounds which were played in Prague. 
     The tournament was won by Ludek Pachman with the impressive undefeated score of 13-3. Together with Szabo, Barcza and Stoltz he qualified for the following year's Interzonal at Stockholm. Jan Foltys and Pal Benko were tied for the final qualification spot at Stockholm. Foltys had the better tie breaks, but there was a possibility of a play-off match taking place. However, it appears that the idea was discarded and Foltys was awarded the spot. Unfortunately, he died of leukemia on March 11, 1952 before the Interzonal started.
     Benko was next in line, but he could not play because he was otherwise occupied; he was in prison for trying to defect to the West. Gideon Stahlberg ended up getting the place vacated by first Foltys then Benko.

1) Ludek Pachman 13.0
2) Laszlo Szabo 12.0
3-4) Gideon Barcza and Gosta Stoltz 10.5
5-6) Jan Foltys and Pal Benko 10.0
7-8) Jaroslav Sajtar and Josef Lokvenc 8.5
9-10) Olaf Barda and Andrzej Pytlakowski 7.5
11) Sad Zaglul Basjuni 7.0
12) Kristian Skold 6.0
13-14) Alexander Tsvetkov and Ion Balanel 5.5
15) Aatos Fred 5.0
16) Wolfgang Heidenfeld 4.5
17) Eigil Pedersen 4.5

     Jalo Aatos Fred (April 1, 1917 – April 10, 2003, 85 years old) was born in Pori, Finland. He was Finnish champion in 1947 and 1955 (after a play-off). From the late 1940s to the early 1960s, he was one of the leading chess players in Finland. He won two gold medals in the Finnish chess championships (1947, 1955), silver (1961) and 3 bronzes (1951, 1953, 1960). Fred represented the Finnish team at the World Chess Olympiad, which participated 7 times (1952-1964). In his last chess Olympiad in 1964, he won the bronze medal on his individual board.
     Kristian Skold (September 26, 1911 - May-15-1988, 76 years old) was born in Stockholm. He was Swedish champion in 1949, 1950, 1959 and 1963.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Over One Million Visitors

     Sometime overnight this blog, which now averages over 35,000 hits per month, went over one million visitors. That's way more that I ever anticipated when I started out doing it just for my own amusement.

     What I find surprising is where the visitors are coming from. There are twice as many visitors from Brazil as from the United States which gets twice as many visitors as third ranking Spain.
     As for which posts are the most popular, there doesn't seem to be any one category that stands out. For a long time the two most popular posts weren't about chess at all; they were about my bad experiences with TV dinners. And, for months the number one visited post was about a chess website that had been defunct for over a year. Posts on engines are popular, but that horse has pretty much been beaten to death unless there is some drastic development.
      A while back some sophisticated Reddit readers criticized this blog because it has a 1990s Geocities look, but I can't help that; Blogger is easy to use, it's free and it does what I want it to do, so why change?

Monday, November 27, 2017

1910 Ohio Chess Championship

    In a match requiring 8 wins, draws not counting, Murray Goldsmith of Cincinnati, Ohio defeated Dr. P. G. Keeney of Bellvue, Kentucky by the decisive score of 8-3 to become the 1910 Ohio Champion. For several years Dr. Keeney had been champion of the Tri-State Chess Association which was defunct when the match was played.
     The match was played in the Mercantile Library in Cincinnati between May 31 and June 11. The match was not, however, as lop-sided a victory for Goldsmith as the score might indicate. For example, game 1 lasted 80 moves and game 3 went 123 moves. And, except for the last game, an 18-mover, all the other games went over 48 moves. There was only a single draw, a Four Knights Game, in the 9-game match and it went 61 moves. The openings all began with 1.e4 and there were two Petrovs, one King's Gambit Declined, one King's Gambit Accepted, two Four Knights Game, a Center Gambit and two Ruy Lopez's. 
    In addition to being an OTB champion, Murray Goldsmith was also involved in postal play. Goldsmith was born on June 15, 1886. He graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 1908 where he was college champion. Goldsmith was also an accomplished problem composer and solver whose compositions often appeared in local newspapers. He was especially fond of problems of a type known as self-mates. For many years he suffered from an acute case of rheumatism and on January 25th, 1912 he committed suicide in his home.    
     Goldsmith participated in the 12th Western Championship in Excelsior, Minnesota, held from August 21-28, 1911. It was a 14-player round robin and Goldsmith finished in 5th place, scoring +7 -4 =2.
     This tournament also featured the 14-year old Dare D. Barkuloo who finished tied for 11-12th, scoring +4 -9 =0. Barkuloo was born in St. Paul, Minnesota on February 11, 1897 and moved to sister city Minneapolis in 1907. He learned the moves at the age of 12, but it wasn't until later when Capablanca visited the city in 1910 that his interest was aroused. In 1912 he challenged and defeated the reigning state champion in a match and so won the state championship. He seems to have given up chess around 1915, but in 1921 managed to draw Reshevsky in a simul. Barkalo passed away at the age of 68 on July 1, 1965.
     Dr. Palmer G. Keeney (March 25, 1877 - October 14, 1959, 82 years old) followed in his father's footsteps as a composer and physician. He was a chess prodigy who composed his first problem at the age of 13. He is not well-known today, but was a very successful chess editor and player (two-time Ohio state champion) who ran many columns during his career, one of which was the column for the Cincinnati Enquirer, widely regarded as one of the world's best at the time and his editorial career lasted into the 1950s, when he was the first problem editor for Chess Life.
     Keeney liked to illustrate his problems with stories and his most famous problem was illustrated with a fabricated story by another author, Emil Ramin. Ramin, in Im Wunderland des Schachproblems, wrote of a crazy problem tourney that never existed and was supposedly won by Keeney. In reality, the problem was a Christmas original in Keeney's column in the Cincinnati Times-Star, and had a different story there; in the Times-Star the story was about the potential re-birth of man. Read more:
Sherlock Holmes at Chess History
A Keeney story (in German)

     Originally I had looked at a couple games from their 1910 match, but in playing over some of Goldsmith's games, I discovered this very interesting one featuring R, B and N vs. Q that was played against Louis Uedemann (January 10, 1854 - November 2, 1912) in the 1909 Western Championship. 
     Uedemann was an active player in Chicago around the turn of the 20th century. He won the Western Chess Association championship (predecessor to the US Open) in 1900 and 1902. In the 1903 championship he lost the play-off coming third Max Judd (champion) and Sydney P Johnston.
     Uedemann was born in Saerbeck, Germany and immigrated to the United States at the age of 12. He was described as always cool, calm, methodical, somewhat slow in his movements, never excited about anything. His "German thoroughness" is seen in his chess library, where he classified and indexed thousands of newspaper clippings. For over 30 years he was one of the strongest players in the country. Uedemann was the chess editor for the Chicago Tribune and created a notation code for telegraphs for cable matches which was first used in the telegraphic match between London and St. Petersburg in November 1886.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Well, that was weird

      Yesterday while looking through the bookshelf for a chess book I noticed my chess set and decided to take it out, set it up and play through a few games. With the sole exception of a game against the wife's cousin at the family reunion back in July, it's the first time I have actually fondled a set in 2-3 years. It was a weird sensation after using Fritz for so long a time.
      IM Jeremy Silman called chess engines “screaming apes” and pointed out they light up the sky as they point out a missed tactic, or give us a number showing that one side or the other is a hair better or worse than the author claimed and when the alarm bell goes off, the average player thinks the author is wrong and as a result, nothing about the concept the author is trying to teach is learned. Read article.
      He makes a good point, but I have long since passed the point where I am trying to learn anything and become a better player. These days I am content to run through GM games on Fritz and just watch them play and so the set went back in the bookcase. Am I wrong?
      Anyway, for all U.S. readers, have a happy Thanksgiving and for others who aren't enjoying a long holiday weekend, have a good rest of the week and be thankful anyway. Hope to be back next week

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Paul Dozsa...just worth a good chuckle or was he a victim of something more sinister?

     Paul Dozsa (1940-2003) was a legendary Hungarian/Australian master. Dozsa was born in Szeged, Hungary in 1940 and emigrated to Australia in the mid-1960s. He died in Melbourne in 2003, aged 63. 
     He was legendary, not so much for his chess, but for being an eccentric character. Dozsa, usually well-dressed and wearing a cravat, claimed to be a Hungarian nobleman and gave the impression that he was a person of wealth and owner of a string of high class restaurants. 
     Under an assumed name, he stayed in the finest 5-star hotels and dined at the best restaurants all over Australia then left without paying the bill. He was proud to be the world's most famous restaurant "bill-skipper." This frequently resulted in jail time, but he always assured the judge that he was extremely sorry and complimented the restaurant for serving the best food and wine he had ever had. He always admitted his guilt and agreed that what he did was stupid. 
     He also frequently got away with his scam because after dining he would tell the victims that his name was Paul Dozsa, he never paid his bills and he was broke and warned them that it was no use calling the police because they were never going to get paid. Rather that create a scene, the fine restaurants often just let him leave.  At other times, after eating, he would claim to be ill and ask for an ambulance to be called.  In another scam, he would rent a luxurious apartment, make his security deposit, buy expensive furniture, sell it and disappear.
     He eventually came up with a new excuse for his actions. The Hungarian Army had implanted a device in his head which made him do what he did.   The result was often a trip to the hospital for psychiatric assessment.

     Is it possible Dozsa actually believed his own story? He wrote that he spent most of his life as a subject of military research and in 1958, in Budapest, he received an implant and become a research subject of the Warsaw Pact Military Research. He claimed Hungarian research was extremely advanced and included:

1) Experiments to harmonize and dis-harmonize the research subjects energy field making it possible to cure illnesses before before it was manifested in the body. He also claimed that since that time he had not taken any medicine, painkiller, or sleeping pills. All those things were replaced with harmonizing electromagnetic waves and hypnotic suggestions that were communicated to his implant via satellite.
2) The implant enabled researchers to read his mind and process his thoughts
3) As a result, researchers dominated his mind and controlled his body. They could provide high levels of consciousness, health and euphoria in the subjects.
4) If they wanted, they could also kill or torture or make the subjects mentally or physically ill.
5) Also, experimenters established a certain standard of living for their subjects that was in the computer database.

For $3.95 you can download FBI and Defense Intelligence Agency files covering paranormal research by the Soviet Union on such things as controlled offensive behavior, Warsaw Pact paraphysics research, etc. 

     Dozsa claimed that using modern technology implants could be done by injection. Therefore sensors should be made available to show who may have received implants without their knowledge. And, the number of people would be surprisingly large.
     Sound crazy? According to Gennady Schchelkunov, a radio electronics researcher from the Istok Association in Moscow, sometimes voices can be heard in the head from the effect of microwave pulse radiation which causes acoustic oscillations in the brain. The newspaper Delovoi Mir ran an article in 1992 where a victim claimed “they” controlled his laughter, his thoughts and cause pain in various parts of his body. It all started in 1985, after he had openly criticized a government official.    
     According to victims all over the world, 24 hours 7 days a week, for years on end, victims are subjected to all kinds of harassment and torture. Most agree that the technology can remotely target and control every nerve of the body. Heart rate can speed up and slow down, bowel movements can be regulated, illnesses can turn on and off in an instant. Victims report hearing or voices in the head and sleep deprivation. Thoughts can be read, and played back to the victim. People around the victim can repeat verbatim, the victim's immediate thoughts. Dreams are manipulated, behaviors controlled, emotions literally played with and all types of pain can be started and stopped in all parts of the body.
     Most such people are labeled mentally ill and live with financial ruin, loss of health, social life and career. They all say the technology is very sophisticated and effective as a weapon. Some victims say they would use it on their torturers it given the opportunity. It is like a slow death.

Popular Science Magazine - Could We Give Criminals Corrective Brain Implants Instead of the Death Penalty? 
US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health Search - When “altering brain function” becomes “mind control”    
CNN Report: Your Behavior Will Be Controlled by a Brain Chip!
Dozsa arrest on Youtube

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Hoogovens Buried Gem

     The Tata Steel tournament, formerly called the Corus tournament, takes place every year in a small town called Wijk aan Zee, part of the larger Beverwijk in the province of North Holland in the Netherlands. Until 1999 the tournament was known as Hoogovens. In 1999 the Dutch sponsor Koninklijke Hoogovens merged with British Steel to form the Corus Group, which became Tata Steel Europe in 2007. 
     In the very beginning the “Blast Furnace Chess Tournament” was better known simply as the “New Years Chess Tournament” (Nieuwjaarstournooi using the 1940’s Dutch spelling, or Nieuwjaarstoernooi using modern spelling). It started very simply, as a round robin between four players, with one round Saturday evening, then church Sunday morning, one round Sunday afternoon, a joint meal in the evening, and the final round Sunday night.  
     After Max Euwe became World Champion, the steelworkers at Hoogovens started a small chess club which held their first New Year's tournament in 1938. There was no tournament in 1945 because of the Dutch famine of 1944–45, known as the Hongerwinter which translates to Hunger winter. 
     The famine took place in the German-occupied part of the Netherlands, especially in the densely populated western provinces during the winter of 1944–45, near the end of World War II. A German blockade cut off food and fuel shipments from farm areas. Some 4.5 million were affected and survived because of soup kitchens. As many as 22,000 may have died because of the famine. Most of the victims were reported to be elderly men. 
     The famine was alleviated by the liberation of the area by the Allies in May 1945. Prior to that, bread baked from flour shipped in from Sweden, and the airlift of food by the Royal Air Force, the Royal Canadian Air Force, and the U.S. Army Air Forces – under an agreement with the Germans that if the Germans did not shoot at the mercy flights, the Allies would not bomb the German positions – helped to mitigate the famine. Actress Audrey Hepburn spent her childhood in the Netherlands during the famine and had lifelong medical repercussions; she suffered from anemia, respiratory illnesses, and edema. 
     After the hunger winter of 1945, activity was resumed and it was decided to invite masters from abroad, to compete with the home players. The first attempt was somewhat unsuccessful because Sir Philip Stuart Milner-Barry couldn't play because professional obligations at home, William Winter could not get a visa, and Henri Grob was unable to arrangements for travel. Of those who could make it, Gosta Stoltz of Sweden, arrived by plane only hours before play began. 

1) O'Kelly 7.0 
2) Stoltz 6.5 
3) Kramer 5.0 
4) Cortlever 4.5
5-9) Steenis, van Groot, van Scheltinga, Koomen and Vlagsma 3.5 
10) Tol 3.0 

   The tournament book of the 1946 Hoogovens contains a hidden gem that was played between two also-rans.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Evgeny Ruban, A Hooligan Who Was Stripped of His Master Title

    You probably never heard of Evgeny Ruban (1941-1997). A very strong player from Siberia, he was never allowed to travel outside of the Soviet Union, but wherever he was exiled to, Chita, Kostroma or Volkovyssk, he was the city champion. As a homosexual, he was charged with hooliganism which was later upgraded to hooliganism with extreme cynicism. He was stripped of his Master title and reduced to the title of Candidate Master of Sport and even had his picture removed from the Chigorin Chess Club in St. Petersburg. But, he was in good company; Korchnoi's photo disappeared in 1976. Only a handful of Ruban's early games have survived. 
    In 1959 at the national youth team championship in Riga, Ruban played on board two for Belorussia, when he kicked off the team because of a conflict with his coaches; staying out late at night and independent behavior were a violation of the sporting regime, a term that usually meant drunkenness or an unacceptable level of individualism. As a result, he was disqualified for a year. That event wasn't the last; many more were to come.
     Physically he looked “Jewish” which was disadvantage. He maintained that his parents were Ukrainian and when he moved to Minsk he asked the Soviet Master Albert Kapengut's father, a historian, about the possibility of joining majoring in history. Kapengut's father, thinking Ruban was Jewish, mentioned the possible difficulties of getting in and Ruban quickly told him, “You know, I'm a Russian.” It didn't matter though because Ruban was drafted into the army. He played a lot chess in army tournaments, but still was not a master.
     After the army, he arrived in Leningrad in 1965 where he lived for six years. There he entered the university to study philosophy. And that's when his chess talent blossomed. He won the quarter-final of the city championship, made the master norm in the semi-final and became city champion in the final. His trademark was that he always played in a suit. He was viewed as being smart, self-disciplined and solemn, but at the same time sarcastic, caustic and cynical. GM Sosonko, who knew him at that time, wrote that he didn't like him at all. Sosonko wrote that after winning the Leningrad Championship, Ruban became more self-assured, but also more arrogant because he thought he was a “star.” Sosonko described how Ruban whould show up at the chess club all dressed up wearing a bow tie. In those days few men wore beards, but Ruban was an exception. During games he would often smile to himself and stroke his beard. Sosonko also wrote, “He could wound you for any reason and consciously pick at the wound. All this with a nice smile.”
     Ruban was always short on money. He lived in a student dormitory on a monthly stipend so small that it was of impossible to survive on it and he occasionally made a little money from chess. Kapengut recalled playing in a tournament against Ruban in 1965 in Vilnius where they gave out food vouchers and Ruban exchanged his for cash and lived on yogurt and a roll. Ruban spent what little money he had on books, especially on philosophy, but he would read anything and was rarely without a book.
     While a student he had already started drinking and at the Chigorin Club's team championship which took place on Sundays he would arrive for his game still under the influence from his partying on Saturday and into Sunday morining. Team members would get him a beer...a littler hair of the dog that had bitten him.
     Even when drinking, he was still very strong. In the semi-final of the 1966 Soviet Championship Ruban arrived after binge drinking and lost his first four games, but in the end shared fourth place, missing qualification for the final by only half a point.
     In 1967 at Rostov-on-Don he played in a tournament for young masters which was his first really strong event. There he finished with a plus 2 score and handed the eventual winner Vladimir Tukmakov his only defeat.
     Ruban had a classical style and as excellent knowledge of the openings and his play was characterized by his ability to exploit the initiative well and play logical, positional chess. He also had a fairly good endgame technique. In the 1960s he learned a lot from the famous Soviet GM Isaac Boleslavsky. Strong players often gathered at Boleslavsky's house to discuss theory and research openings.
     He obtained his degree in 1970 and was accepted as a postgraduate student. That's when his troubles really started. One day in Leningrad in a small public park he met a young factory worker, shared some vodka and cheese and Ruban offered the young man money for sex. The young man agreed and visitors saw them. Some visitors intervened and a disturbance broke out, police were called and the two were arrested. The story about what happened in the police van isn't clear. One version is that Ruban offered the police sex if they were let go. Another version is that the young man demanded his payment, but Ruban refused claiming they'd been interrupted and the act have never been brought to fruition. His suggestion was that the young man collect his money from the police.
     The outcome of the matter was that the young man, blaming it on the vodka, showed remorse and promised he'd never do anything like that again; he was released on bail. Ruban, on the other hand, got involed in a philosophical discussion with the investigators about Socrates and the tolerant attitude towards homosexuals in the upper echelons of ancient Greek society, quoted Plato and gave Leonardo da Vinci and Marcel Proust as examples. The investigators weren't impressed and he was refused bail and went to court charged with hooliganism.
     In court Ruban talked about a professor who had introduced him to gay sex when he was in dire financial straits , and how he didn't regret it because it had showed him who he really was. He refused to admit he was guilty of anything and his final statement was that he was grateful to the Soviet court that was sending him to a camp because people like him were needed there. The court threw the book at him...four years for hooliganism committed with extreme cynicism.
     He was released early and exiled. When his sentence ended he returned to Belorussia and resumed tournament play. It was at that time that he was stripped of his master title. At the championship of Belorussia he finished first by a half point, but awarding him the titled created a controversy. It was finally determined that a pederast wouldn't be a fitting champion and the title was awarded to the runner up.
     Ruban sent a request to Leningrad for the federation of the city where he had been champion to support a petition to restore his master title. At a committee meeting to determine what should be done the problem was solved when the director of the Chigorin Chess Club waded up the request and threw it in the wastebasket. Ruban wanted to return to Leningrad but needed a residence permit. He tried to get work as a security guard in order to get a temporary permit and even looked in to arranging a fake marriage, but was unsuccessful and had to return to Belorussia. He never did get his master title restored.
     As a homosexual and an outcast Ruban found it very difficulty to find employment but finally got a job as an orderly in a hospital morgue and finally found work as a lighting technician in a drama theater. He told a few acquaintances that he had written a play; some say he wrote crime novels. Being a convicted homosexual meant he could have no close friends because close association with such a person would stigmatize the other person, too, and bring them under suspicion.
     In the 1970s he was again convicted and sentenced and exiled. Upon his return he worked for a while as an instructor in the chess club, but was soon fired for drunkenness. He didn't leave the club though. He still hung out there reading library books on philosophy, art and crime novels. All the young players admired his knowledge of philosophy and literature. Sitting around in a shabby suit he always willing to accept a small gift, he drank every day and often didn't eat. All this left him emotionally disturbed and sometimes out of control. One time at a chess club he created a disturbance and shouted obscenities at a master who had been involved in his disqualification back in 1959.
     By the end of the 1980s he was scruffy, filthy and completely broken down. He lived in poverty with his elderly mother in her small apartment where they survived on her small pension. After getting drunk, he was hit by a car and taken to a hospital where he remained in critical condition for two weeks before beginning to recover; but then he suddenly died. His mother couldn't afford to pay for his funeral and it was paid for by the woman who had hit him. Almost nobody came to his funeral. The place where he was buried doesn't even have a name; locals just call it “the cemetery.” There is just a plaque with his name on it.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


 Violators II shall be added to the special list (“FIDE Blacklist”) for the period to be determined by the FIDE Ethics Commission on the basis of the severity of violation. Such period in any case shall not exceed 10 (ten) years.
     Last year a US federal court ruled that “robust reporting” of chess moves during play is in the public interest. The ruling explained why the attempt by World Chess (Agon) to stop chess24 and Chessgames from broadcasting the moves of the Carlsen-Karjakin World Chess Championship had been denied. The long-established understanding in the chess world that chess moves can’t be copyrighted was therefore in both a US and a Russian court.
     Who/what is Agon? Agon is a sports event promoting company founded in 2012 in New Jersey by Andrew Paulson as the sole shareholder. On February 20, 2012, an agreement between Agon and FIDE was made, running from 2012 to at least 2021 for the management of the World Chess Championship and associated events, subject to approval by the 2012 FIDE General Assembly. This approval was forthcoming in September 2012. In October 2014, Agon was sold to its current CEO Ilya Merenzon for the sum of one pound. The goal was to make chess a commercial success. For Merenzon's opinion/reasoning on the matter, you can read it HERE.
     In his decision the judge ruled that chess24 was not “pirating,” but creating its own content “at great expense.”  The ruling meant that Agon had failed to show it was likely to win the case if it went to trial. The judge also discussed legal precedents, explaining that the NBA vs. Motorola “Hot News” case that Agon cited was actually lost by the NBA with the court upholding the right of other companies to build products around sports statistics. He explained, “...the Court is not persuaded that World Chess alone can report on the Championship game scores. Indeed, it is well-established that sports scores and events, like players' moves in the Championship, are facts not protectable by copyright."
     In the NBA vs. Motorola case it was determoned that sports data used in a fantasy baseball league was readily available in the public domain. Basic factual information about chess moves is no different from any other factual information generated from a sports match or other public event and thus cannot be protected under copyright law.
     The reasoning is chess moves are not protected by United States copyright law because, like sports scores and statistics, the moves that a player makes during a game are not creative works of authorship. Chess players may disagree, but the law takes a different view.  Sports events are not ‘authored’ in any common sense of the word. There is considerable preparation for a game, however the preparation is as much an expression of hope or faith as a determination of what will actually happen. Unlike movies, plays, television programs, or operas, athletic events are competitive and have no underlying script. Preparation may even cause mistakes to succeed and athletic events may result in unanticipated occurrences.  Sounds like chess games when you look at it that way.

     Agon has lost every legal case, so now they have developed a live moves policy on broadcasting in an effort to impose a ban on reporting chess moves using FIDE "ethics" as its basis. FIDE and ethics are definitely not words one would expect to see used together in the same sentence.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Fischer Blunders

Fischer-Larsen during their 1971 match
     Andrew Soltis wrote that when it comes to guessing your opponent's next move fifty percent is a good number to shoot for. I assume he was talking about his fellow Grandmasters, but if that's true the figure for the rest of us must be pretty low! So, maybe my method of selecting a move isn't so bad after all. My method is:

The Tartajubow Method of Move Selection
     We all make mistakes in calculating, but Soltis claims that you CAN learn how to calculate and reduce the number of mistakes. He adds that during portions of the game such as openings, textbook endings and forced combinations you can be reasonably sure of you opponent's move, but again, I assume he was talking about his peers. Most of us average players don't know openings all that well and we miscalculate tactics all the time. And, endings? How many average players know textbook endings or can even explain the opposition or triangulation?! 
     From what I have run up against on the internet on quite a few occasions, some players don't even know what a tactic is, so they certainly can't calculate them. I am talking about players who play something like Bxf7+ in the first few moves without reason. Apparently they think the “sacrifice” is playing in tactical style and they've heard “tactics win games” but don't realize there's a difference between a sacrifice and just giving away a piece.  I like CJS Purdy's advice because it's more accurate.  He said always look for a sound tactic (back in the old days we called them "combinations.") before you do anything else.
     Once we get trained in tactical motifs, if we ever do, (see Chess Tempo for a complete list) the number of oversights will sharply decline. Even if we get a winning position, wins slip away by either an outright oversight or because of other factors. Even Bobby Fischer wasn't immune to such gremlins as seen in the following game against Bent Larsen. 
     According to psychologists, one of the most difficult moves to spot is the backward retreat of a well developed piece because we just aren't trained to think that way. In this game a backward move by Larsen ended all of Fischer's attacking chances and all he was left with was a Q-side that was a total wreck.