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Friday, November 30, 2018

Fame Doesn't Last

     In a March interview with Authority Magazine Adrian Paul, an English actor known for his role on the television series Highlander: The Series (a Canadian-French fantasy science fiction action-adventure), told the interviewer that he wished people had told him that fame doesn’t last. 
     He thought that when you get a hit television show or star in a big movie you're set for life, but it's not true. He told an anecdote about a concert where the fans were raving about the show and were talking about the old guy on the piano: as a result of his performance, he would be famous...the old guy was Paul McCartney. 
     In my city there's a small, old time movie theater that hosts other events like plays, graduations and concerts on stage. One of the upcoming attractions is a guy named Ronnie Milsap. 
    Born in 1943, Milsap is a country music singer and pianist who was one of country music's most popular and influential performers of the 1970s and 1980s. He became one of the most successful and versatile country crossover singers of his time, appealing to both country and pop music markets with hit songs that incorporated pop, R and B and rock and roll elements. 
     He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2014 where he stands along side other greats like Roy Acuff, Eddy Arnold, Johnny Cash, Gene Autry, Chet Atkins, Garth Books, Glen Campbell and Dolly Parton, to name a few. Now, he's paying one night stands in places like here in Butt Crack, Ohio.
     The Lasker Variation (1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e5) of the Sicilian Defense was originally named after the world champion. But, that wasn't quite fair because Emanuel Lasker only played it once, in his championship match with Karl Schlechter in 1910. Even earlier it appeared in the game James W. Hannah vs. Edward Lowe in 1857. 
     Later 5...e5 became known as the Pelikan Variation named after Jiri Pelikan who played it a few times in the 1950s. Then in the 1960's the Soviet GM Evgeny Sveshnikov investigated, played and popularized it and so his name came to be associated with it to the point that the Pelikan Variation pretty much ceased to exist and with it, the fame of Jiri Pelikan. 
     Jiri (Jorge) Pelikan (April, 1906 – July, 1984) was a Czech–Argentine master. Prior to World War Two he had modest results in Eurpoean tournaments, often finishing in the middle of the scoretable. 
     Following the outbreak of the war, Pelikan, along with many other participants of the 8th Olympiad, decided to stay permanently in Argentina. After the war he was a frequent competitor in many of the great South American tournaments, again he often finished somewhere in the middle of the pack. He was awarded the IM title in 1955 and in 1957 he was the first Argentine correspondence champion. 
     According to Chessmetrics his best results came in 1946 when he was assigned a rating of slightly over 2600. The ranked him with players like Carlos Guimard, Alexander Tolush, Al Horowitz, Gavrill Veresov, Igor Bondarevskyand Vitaly Chekhover, which when you think about it is pretty good company. 

Buenos Aires 1958 
1-3) Pelikan, Benzaquen and Esposito 7.0-3.0 
4) Piazzini 6.0-4.0 
5) Cruz 5.5-4.5 
6) Monostori 5.0-5.0 
7-8) Dominguez and Palermo 4.5-5.5 
9-10) Balduzzi and Naselli 3.5-6.5 
11) Estonllo 1.5-8.5 

    The following game by Pelikan is a good example of utilizing the hole on d5. He followed it up with a P-sac to created another hole on f5 after which black was doomed. A good example of how to utilize the hole on d5 after ...e5. A good example to compare this game with is the Smyslov-Rudakowsy game from the 1945 USSR Championship. 
     By the way, it's not really important but while looking for the Smylov game I noticed that in a post in the 1945 USSR Championship one poster commented that he thought I had mistakenly assigned Kotov 2nd place in that event where he actually tied for 4th. 
     In my post on Kotov I stated he finished second the 11th USSR championship and as a result Soviet authorities awarded him the Soviet GM title. The 11th USSR Championship was held in Leningrad 1939 and the 1945 event was the 14th Soviet Championship. And, it was the 1939 event (the 11th) that earned Kotov the Soviet GM title, the third to have obtained it. Botvinnik was the first in 1935 and Levenfish the second in 1937. All of this is confirmed in The Soviet School of Chess co-authored by Kotov himself. 

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Ventnor City 1945

     There was a series of tournaments held in the small New Jersey town of Ventnor City during World War Two that it had been hoped would become the American vsersion of Hasting, but after the war the Ventnor City Invitational ceased to exist, making the 1945 tournament the last in the series. 
     These Ventnor tournaments featured many leading U.S. masters of the day as participants with the exception of those at the very top like Reshevsky, Fine, Kashdan, Horowitz and Steiner. 
     Play began on July 1st, 1945 in the auditorium on the Municipal Pier. It was the seventh annual invitation masters tournament sponsored by Ventnor City. Mayor Harry S. Hodson was the chairman of the local committee and Richard W. Wayne was the tournament director. Wayne was a director of the USCF in the 1940s and lived in Ventnor City. According to a 1974 article by Robert Durkin appearing in the Atlantic Chess News, Wayne was (in 1974) 80 years old and he had been a motorcycle test driver in his younger days and a Sergeant Major in the British Army. 
    There were some interesting news stories during the tournament. On July 1st U.S. troops landed on Balikpapan, a seaport city on the east coast of the island of Borneo. The Japanese had occupied Balikpapan, which had oil refineries owned by Royal Dutch Shell, since 1942 when they massacred many of the Europeans they had captured. 
     The first Major League baseball superstar to return from the war was Hank Greenberg who homered in his 1st game when Detroit beat Philadelphia 9-5. On October 16, 1940 Greenberg was the first American League player to register for the peace time draft, but he was classified as 4F (unacceptable for military service) because he had flat feet. Rumors began circulating that he had bribed somebody to get the 4F classification, so in April of 1941, at his own request, he was re-examined and found fit for service. After playing 19 games for the Detroit Tigers he was drafted on May 7, 1941.  His salary plummeted from what would be almost a million dollars a year in today's dollars to $4,800 a year in today's dollars.
     He served as an anti-tank gunner and was discharged on December 5, 1941, just two days before Pearl Harbor was bombed, when the Army released everybody over 27 years old.
     In February, 1942 he re-enlisted, the first Major League player to do so, as a Sergeant in the Army Air Corps. He then graduated from Officer Candidates School and was assigned to a physical education program, but after promotion to Captain he requested overseas duty and was sent to the China-Burma-India Theater where he scouted locations for B29 bomber bases and was a physical training officer.  He returned to duty in the U.S. in 1944.  Greenberg served a total of 47 months, longer than any other Major League player.
     Also in baseball the Washington Senators' catcher Rick Ferrell caught a record 1,722 games.
     In other news, on July 4th, besides the usual Independence Day celebrations, Field Marshal Henry Maitland Wilson gave Britain's agreement to use the atomic bomb against Japan at the Combined Policy Committee in Washington D. C. 
     Friday, July 6th was a very important day in history.  In Los Angeles, Bert John Gervis Jr. was born. He was later to become Burt Ward, Batman's sidekick Robin in the television series Batman (1966–1968). A little over 2,000 miles to the east of Los Angeles, I was born. 
     The tournament was won by Weaver W. Adams who got nicked for only one loss to a 17 year old high school student named Robert Byrne who received the best-played game prize for his victory. 
     A surprise was the third place tie with E.S. Jackson by the unknown Philadelphia player Bernard Keltz who was playing in his first major tournament. Nothing is known about Keltz. Another unknown player, also from Philadelphia, was Adolph Regan. It is assumed that Keltz and Regan were local players of some promise or that they were invited as fill-ins. Nobody knows. 
     At the time 18 year old Harry Yanofsky (Abe Yanofsky's younger brother) from Winnipeg was considered an up and comer. Other than winning the U.S. Inter-collegiate Championship in 1946 not much is known about him. Chessmetrics lists him only on the March, 1946 rating list with an assigned rating of 2246. 
     Matthew Green (1915-2006) was born in Cleveland, Ohio and attended high school in in New York City. He played in the U.S. Championships of 1940 and 1942. He won the state of New Jersey championship in 1957. I have posted on Walter Suesman HERE and Martin C. Stark HERE.

1) Weaver Adams 7.0-2.0 
2) Anthony Santasiere 6.0-3.0 
3-4) E.S. Jackson and Bernard Keltz 5.0-4.0 
5-7) Matthew Green, Adolph Regan and Martin Stark 4.5-4.5 
8) Robert Byrne 4.0-5.0 
9) Walter Suesman 3.5-5.5 
10) Harry Yanofsky 1.0-8.0 

Wednesday, November 28, 2018


     Earlier this year in Stockholm some of the best engines vied for the world computer championship. One thing that struck me about this tournament was that they are not conducted by firing up the engines and letting them battle it out on their own.
     In this tournament the engines had operators who transferred the engine's selected move to an actual board and punched a clock. This affected the results. In one game Komodo reached a theoretical draw (both engines were using tablebases) and its opponent's operator offered a draw which the Komodo operator refused. His refusal had nothing to do with the position...it was because the opposing operator had been too slow in playing the moves on the board and punching the clock. As a result Komodo played on and won on time.
     In another game, instead of agreeing to a draw in a blocked position, the operators continued to let the engines shift pieces before finally agreeing to a draw in over 160 moves. 
     In this engine world championship tournament humans still have some input that can have an effect on the final results so I don't put much stock in the outcome.  Also, where were Stockfish, Houdini, Fire and Deep Shredder? 
     In the end Komodo and GridGinkgo were tied with Komodo winning the playoffs. 
1-2) GridGinkgo and Komodo 5.0 
3) Jonny 4.0 
4-5) Chiron and Booot 3.5 
6) Shredder 3.5 
7) Leela Chess Zero 2.0 
8) The Baron 1.5

     Komodo won the event by playing much like human GMs: in the opening it avoided theoretical main lines and played for strategically unbalanced situations. Commentator GM Harry Schussler made the observation that engines sometimes make ugly moves because they are finding exceptions to the general rules that we humans are familiar with. 
     In correspondence chess one of the top Centaurs in the U.S. is Wolff Morrow (aka FirebrandX). The interesting thing is that he has been using the same computer to do his analysis for the last ten years which proves that while it helps, success in modern correspondence play isn't always about computing power. 
    Morrow claims that if you just buy a big powerful computer and play only engine moves you could probably get a decent ICCF rating, but it won't get you anywhere near the top level. That's true. 
     Several years ago when I started playing chess via email on IECG it was at my CCLA rating which was somewhere in the 2050-2100 range. I was unaware that engine use was allowed on IECG and so in my first tournament scored +0 -4 =2 and lost about 100 rating points! Later, when I joined Lechenicher SchachServer, the replacement for IECG, it was at the IECG rating and in the years since then my rating hasn't varied much. That's because everybody uses pretty much the same engines, so getting a plus score and gaining rating points is difficult unless you want to devote serious time to it. And, as Morrow pointed out, it's a big temptation to get lazy if you play too many games at the same time. 
     Morrow advises that you need to work with the engine by suggesting plans, play those positions out and evaluate the results then go back and look at alternatives and even have the engine consider moves it has rejected. His method is to write down candidate moves by type...Pawn moves, Knight moves, etc. Then after they have all been evaluated, decide on the best move which may not have the engine's highest evaluation. 
     That sounds tedious, but simple enough. The question is, unless you are a pretty strong player, how do you know which move is best without relying on the engine evaluation? I have no idea! 
     He also advised against playing the same openings all the time because if you do, opponents will be laying in wait and have opening surprises prepaid. And, these top level correspondence players spend a ga-zillion hours doing opening research. Of course, he's talking about top level correspondence play. I seriously doubt my opponents in rapid play events on Lechenicher SchachServer even bother looking at my past games. 
     In these rapid games (10 Basic plus 1 day per move, no vacations) you often play a game in a few months and some players have 20-50 games going, so they can't spend much time on each individual game. That means you can get away with playing opening lines you normally couldn't play. I have even played 1.f3 on occasion in these rapid events, but that has proven to be a bit too extravagant. However, openings like the Urusov Gambit and even 1.a3 have not given bad results. 
     In the last one of these rapids I entered the plan was to test the SugarX Pro engine. On the CCLR 40/40 rating list its rating is nearly identical to Stockfish 9 and in individual games its minus 1 against Stockfish and against Komodo 12, Sugar is plus 5. I didn't like the positions I was getting with Sugar and switched to Stockfish, but it may have been too late. 
     Another interesting engine is ShashChess which is one of many engines based on Stockfish. The engine is an interesting attempt to apply Alexander Shashin's theory based on his book Best Play: A New Method For Discovering The Strongest Move to Improve which came out in 2013. 
     Depending on the position, the engine has algorithms based on the play of Tal, Capablanca and Petrosian as well as "mixed" ones. In other words, it plays differently, based on the type of position it is analyzing. 
     The book by Shashin, physicist and master, is based on his 30 years worth of research on the elements of the game. He breaks down the position into mathematical ratios that compare the fundamental factors of material, mobility, safety and space which is supposed to reveal the proper plan and the mental attitude to adopt in light of what’s happening on the board. 
     He's not the first to suggest the concept of space, time and force.  Znosoko-Borovsky published The Middle Game in Chess in which he focused on those elements decades ago.  Back in the 1950s, Larry Evans also did a hack job on the same subjects.
      Relying on the games of three world champions with distinctive playing styles Sashin explains how it works in practice. How well does this system work? In Amazon book reviews, one reviewer said the book is very deep and hard to follow and added that the system may not be applicable to tournament games when you are under time constraints. Another reviewer more or less agreed. 
     To me the book sounds like a modern computer version of Horowitz' Point Count Chess in which he listed positional factors that were worth points and anti-positional factors that were negative points. After all the adding and subtracting was done you knew who was better, but not how to utilize your advantage. 
     I suppose this is at the very basic level the same approach engines use. They only trouble is engines calculate a lot faster than humans do, so they can evaluate more positions and come up the moves with the highest point count a lot faster. Another problem with these systems where you add and subtract positional features is that they are meaningless if there's a tactic lurking in the position...miss that and it doesn't matter how many positional plusses you have.
     As a quick experiment I played a 16-game match at 4 minutes per side pitting Stockfish 9 against ShashChess and was somewhat surprised. Stockfish scored +7 -4 =5, but then I discovered many of the decisive games were lost on time by both engines, so the result was meaningless. 
     Evaluating the final positions in all the games told a different story. Based on Stockfish's own evaluations, I "adjusted" the results and SashChess had winning positions in two games and the rest were almost dead even. Not very scientific, just interesting. Here is one of the games won by SashChess 

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Brevity and Brilliancy in Chess

     ... by Miron J. Hazeltine. I mentioned this book in the previous post on Hazeltine and thought it would be fun to take a look at the book itself. It was dedicated to Napoleon Marache (June 15, 1818 – May 11, 1875). 
     Marache was born in France and moved to the United States at around 12 years of age. He learned the game of chess around 1844, and immediately became a devotee. He began composing chess problems and writing about chess the following year. In the mid-19th century, he was both one of America's first chess journalists and one of its leading players. In 1866, he published the 259 page Marache's Manual of Chess, which was one of the country's first books on chess and also one of its first books on backgammon. He is perhaps best known today for having lost a famous game to Paul Morphy. 
From Marache's Manual of Chess

     Brevity and Brilliancy in Chess contains some interesting games, but with the exception of a few games the quality of play is not very high. Many of the players are unknown and no tournaments or locations are given. A few games have very brief notes and there are also a few typos in the book. 
     I did find a couple of games by Hazeltine with his name given only as "Miron" but they weren't very good...in one game Miron won in 3 moves and in the others he gave odds. 
     Here's one of his games in which he gave Rook odds that has a nice finish although the play of both players leaves a lot to be desired. 

Monday, November 26, 2018

The Man Who Put the Dash in Chess Notation

     Once upon a time Miron James Hazeltine, chess authority and chess editor of the New York Clipper for more than fifty years invented a method to help beginners who were getting beaten too often at Rook odds, a popular handicap at the time. He called it “Miron's Odds.” White would remove his K-side B and N then castle. 
     When printing games he used the terms 2nd and 3rd for double and triple Ps because it was a typographical improvement.   Hazeltine's most important innovation probably was the use of the dash as a substitute for writing “to” when publishing games. We don't use the dash much anymore thanks the short algebraic notation, but if you grew up with descriptive and recording moves like 1.P-K4 then you can really appreciate his innovation. 
     Hazeltine was born of German ancestory in Rumney, New Hampshire on November 13, 1824. In the fall of 1847 he entered Amherst College, but while there he was severely injured in the gymnasium, causing him to leave college in the spring of 1849. The accident left him a semi-invalid the rest of his life. 
     Later he went to Lowell, Massachusetts, where he started to study law and where he remained for four years. He then went to New York City where, from 1859 to 1861, he was principal of the Clinton Institute, a classical private school. He was married in Waterville, New Hampshire, July 21, 1853, to Hanna M. Bryant, herself a poet and a relative of William Cullen Bryant, and they had seven children. 
     He began his first chess column in the New York Saturday Courier, February 3, 1855, a pioneer attempt and probably the first chess column in the United States. In August, 1856, he began his chess column in the New York Clipper and never missed a single issue until shortly before his death, a period of more than fifty years. 
     In the late 1860's he moved to Campton Village, New Hampshire, where he was a Justice of the Peace from 1871 on. Today a JP's powers are in two categories: ministerial and judicial and they can help with witnessing documents such as land transfer documents,certifying copies and taking declarations, affidavits and affirmations. In some cases they also hear minor civil matters and petty criminal cases, usually misdemeanors. They officiate at weddings, issue arrest warrants, deal with traffic offenses, and hold inquests. 
     Hazeltine was a classical scholar and made a translation of Anacreon from the Greek. He wrote the Dime Chess Instructor in 1860 and published his Brevity and Brilliancy in Chess in 1866. His collection of over 600 books and 100 scrapbooks on chess was one of the largest and most valuable in New England. 
     Beadle's Dime Chess Instructor was a short, 80 page book. In those days chess was mentioned in many boy's activity books and chess sets were widely advertised in newspapers. The book started with basic information about each of the pieces, terms, and the laws of chess. Then there was a discussion of more complicated moves and it concluded with a collection of openings. 
     In addition to chess, Beadle published dime books for young people on such subjects as etiquette for ladies and gentlemen, ladies' letter writing, gents' letter writing and a book titled Dime Lover's Casket, a book on friendship, love, courtship and marriage. It also included dictionaries on the use of florals, handkerchiefs, fans and rings. Other books included fortune telling, cookbooks and recipe books, a housewife's manual and first aid, curling and skating, curling and skating and dreams. 
     In 1857 he was co-editor with D.W. Fiske of Chess Monthly and in 1866-67 he did a series of sketches of prominent American players for the Macon, Georgia Telegraph News
     In 1861 he published Clipper Chess Problem Tournament. He helped edit a part of Marache's Manual of Chess and was hired to complete Morphy's Games of Chess when Charles Stanley was unable to finish the book. 
Marache's Manual of Chess showing how games were recorded before Hazeltine introduced the use of the dash.

     The odd thing is that Hazeltine's playing strength is unknown and none of his games seem to have survived. Sam Loyd wrote of him, “Mr Hazeltine is most lavish in his admiration for the work of others, but has never essayed to compose a problem nor to acquire fame as a player; he has been satisfied to earn for himself the widespread reputation of an honest, liberal and enthusiastic worker for the cause of chess, who is beloved by the entire fraternity.” Indeed. he was a rare bird in the chess world! 
     Politically he was a Democrat and practiced the Unitarian religion. He retired to Thornton, New Hampshire where he died February 24, 1907.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Tournament Books and Imperfect Games

     Years ago when I had nothing better to spend money on I bought chess books. Most of them are gone now. Decades ago I donated two garbage bags full of chess books to a chess club and 15 or so years ago I gave away a garbage bag full of old sets and books to a fellow employee. And, when our house flooded a few years ago I lost a lot chess books. I don't buy books anymore because there's just too much material available on the internet.
     Among my favorites were tournament books which you don't see much anymore; a check of the USCF book sales listed only a few. I liked tournament books because they showed chess how it was really played by both the greats and the not so great. I especially enjoyed the games played by the tail-enders and the journeyman masters...that's what Chess Life columnist Jerry Hanken called low rated masters that play in a lot tournaments, but rarely win anything... "journeyman masters."  Their games can be quite instructive because their mistakes are closer to those the rest of make than the ones guys like Carlsen make. 
     While browsing an old issue of Chess Life, in the crosstable from the Hastings 1954 tournament (Keres and Smyslov tied for first), I noticed the Premier Reserves Major Section was won by Istvan Bilek and the 4th place finisher was A.Y. Green of England who finished with 6-3. Who was A.Y. Green?
     Arnold Y. Green was born in 1904 in what is now a part Sheffield, England. His father was a baker and flour confectioner; he baked cakes and other sweet goodies. By profession Green was an accountant. He appears to have started playing chess around 1922 and soon became on of the stronger players in Sheffield. 
     He won the Sheffield Championship for the first time in 1932 then again in 1934-35, 1936-37 and 1938-39. At that stage the competition ceased due to Word War Two. In 1938 he secured a draw against Alekhine in a simul. Moving to London after the war, he participated in the British Championship a number of times from 1952 to 1959. He played in the Hastings Premier Reserves in 1956 and in the top section at Hastings in 1960-61. He died in London in 1963 at the age of 59. 
     I enjoyed the following game he played against Bernard Cafferty at Hastings 1960-61. After four rounds Gligoric, Bondarevsky and Szabo were tied for first with 3 points while Sliwa was just behind with 2.5. 
     In round 5 there were two major upsets: Bondarevsky drew with Cafferty and Szabo was defeated by Peter Clarke. Gligoric started a little three-game winning streak by defeating Sliwa and maintained the lead to the end. 

1) Gligoric 7.0-2.0 
2) Bondarevsky 6.0-3.0 
3-4) Szabo and Lloyd 5.0-4.0 
5-7) Clarke, John Littlewood and Barden 4.5-4.5 
8) Sliwa 4.0-5.0 
9) Green 2.5-6.5 
10) Cafferty 2.0-7.0 

     I could find very little on Kenneth W. Lloyd other than he played in the 1959, 1960 and 1961 World Student Team Championships. In one old forum post in 2012, a player told of an incident where he was playing Lloyd in a league match. He (the poster) had a winning position when he exceeded the time limit, but Lloyd magnanimously offered him a draw. 
     Green's opponent in this game was Bernard Cafferty (June 27, 1934), an English master, columnist, writer, magazine editor and translator who was one of the leading English players of the late 1950s and 1960s. 
     Cafferty has an excellent knowledge of Russian and has translated several books into English. He served as Anthony Miles' second when Miles won the 1974 World Junior Championship in Manila, Philippines. He was British Boys' Champion in 1952 (jointly) and British Junior Champion in 1954 and the British Correspondence Champion in 1959-60. He won the British Lightning Championship in 1964 (jointly), 1966, 1967, 1968 and 1969. 
     Cafferty played in every British Chess Championship between 1957 and 1971. His best finish was in 1964 when he finished second equal with three other players behind Michael Haygarth. He reached a peak Elo rating of 2440 in July 1971. 
Cafferty in 1974

     Originally from Blackburn, he went to Birmingham University in 1951 and became a school master, teaching Geography. In 1981 he moved to Hastings and became general editor of British Chess Magazine, a position which he held until 1991. He was chess columnist for the Sunday Times between 1983 and 1997 and for the Birmingham Evening Mail from 1967 to around 2002. He was president of the Hasting Chess Club from 1999 to 2009 and won the club championship in 1994 and 2001 and was joint winner in 1995 and 1996. 
     The following game is hardly spectacular, but there's a lesson in it. In a rather boring position Cafferty made a small mistake and by simply building up the pressure, Green easily converted his advantage.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Syracuse 1934, a Forgotten Tournament

     Syracuse, New York is the fifth-most populous city in New York following New York City, Buffalo, Rochester, and Yonkers. It has a noted history as an active center of the abolitionist movement, a social and political push for the immediate emancipation of all slaves and the end of racial discrimination and segregation dating from the 1830s to about 1870. 
     Syracuse abolitionists, lead by Gerrit Smith were mostly associated with the Unitarian Church and their pastor, Reverend Samuel May as well as with nearby Quakers. The city was known as the "great central depot on the Underground Railroad" prior to the Civil War. 
     On October 1, 1851, William Henry, a freed slave known as "Jerry", was arrested under the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. The anti-slavery Liberty Party was holding its state convention in the city and when word of the arrest spread, several hundred abolitionists broke into the city jail and freed Jerry. The event came to be widely known as the "Jerry Rescue". In the aftermath, the Congregationalist minister Samuel Ringgold Ward had to flee to Canada to escape persecution because of his participation. 
     Before the outbreak of World War II, factories located in Syracuse made shoes, typewriters, air conditioners, washing machines, and many other civilian products. But shortly after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor they began producing anti-aircraft gun mounts, anti-tank landmines, rifles, radar systems, Browning machine guns and signaling lights for planes and ships. 
     In 1934 an international masters tournament, organized as part of the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the New York State Chess Association, was played at the Hotel Onondaga in Syracuse from August 13th to the 25th. It was hoped that Alekhine and Capablanca would participant, but they didn't which is probably why nobody remembers the tournament. 
     Held at the same time as the Masters tournament was the annual State Championship which had 12 entrants.  It was won by Robert Levenstein after a tie with E.B. Adams was decided by match play. There was also a women's tournament and a problem solving tournament. The results of these two events was not reported on and have apparently been lost.
     The games were begun at 7:00 P.M. with adjournments scheduled for the next day. To fit 15 rounds into a 13 day schedule, extra afternoon rounds were added on August 15 and August 20. The time control was 36 moves in two hours, followed by 18 moves in one hour. Originally the tournament had 16 players, but I.S. Turover withdrew after losing to Arthur Dake in the first round and the game was canceled. 

     Reshevsky was the favorite and he was undefeated, scoring +10 -0 =4. His draws were with Kashdan, Fine, Kupchik and Reinfeld. 
     That's not to say he wasn't lucky.  Against Erling Tholfsen both were in a time scramble when Reshevsky sacrificed a piece and Tholfsen found himself in a mating net.   Reshevsky lost a Pawn against Monticelli, but got some play against his opponent's King.  Monticelli missed the best defense and ended up a Pawn down in a lost Rook and Pawn ending.
     Reshevsky came within a whisker of losing to Fred Reinfeld who had a material advantage plus two connected passed Pawns.  Reshevsky managed to hold the draw though thanks to opposite colored Bishops.
     Kashdan was also undefeated, but 8 draws meant he wasn't even close to challenging Reshevsky.

1) Reshevsky 12.0-2.0 
2) Kashdan 10.5-3.5 
3-4) Dake and Fine 10.0-4.0 
5) Kupchik 9.5-4.5 
6) Horowitz 8.5-5.5 
7) Steiner 8.0-6.0 
8) Monticelli 6.5-7.5 
9-10) Reinfeld and Santasiere 6.0-8.0 
11-12) Denker and Seitz 5.0-9.0 
13) Araiza 4.5-9.5 
14) Tholfsen 3.0-11.0 
15) Martin 0.5-12.5 

     Just two years before the tournament Al Horowitz (1907-1973) and Isaac Kashdan (1924-1975) had founded Chess Review magazine, however, Kashdan dropped out after just a few issues and Horowitz became sole owner. Before that, Horowitz had been a securities trader on Wall Street. He had been partners with Maurice Shapiro, Mickey Pauley, Albert Pinkus and Maurice Wertheim. Horowitz quit Wall Street and devoted himself to chess, while the others remained, at least for a while.  The most notable of the group was Albert Pinkus who became an adventurer in South America and Maurice Wertheim who became a millionaire and chess patron.
     At the time of the tournament Horowitz was a leading player in the U.S. and continued to be so during the 1930s and 1940s. Mario Monticelli (March 16, 1902, Venice-June 30, 1995 was an Italian player. He was awarded the IM title in 1950 and in 1985 the Honorary GM title. He was Italian champion in 1929, 1934 and 1939. In 1926, he tied for 1st with Ernst Gruenfeld in Budapest and in 1933, he finished first in Milan and in 1938, he tied for first in Milan with Erich Eliskases.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Fun With Post Cards

     Poking around in the database of my games I came across a reasonably well played game from the Correspondence Chess League of America's Grand National Championship. Unfortunately most of my games, both OTB and postal, have been lost and only a handful are in my database. 
     This was, I think, the last correspondence event in which I played using post cards which cost $0.20, but I didn't use regular post cards.  I bought a sheet of 4 perforated post cards from Office Max and used the computer to print out my own move-mailing cards.  I also dug out a set of old Chess Review chess piece stamps to diagram the position.
     Chess engines were pretty strong even in those days, the top rated ones being Deep Fritz, Gambit Tiger, Chess Tiger, Shredder 5.32 and Junior 7.0.  But, the CCLA players were a pretty honest bunch because I never suspected that any of my opponents where using an engine.
     Looking at the CCLA's website was disappointing because they only have 381 players. I am not sure what the past membership numbers were, but 381 members looks awfully low. Unfortunately it seems that chess played by post cards has gone the way of the buggy whip.  E-mail and server play is OK and has advantages, but somehow fiddling with postal recorder albums, move-by-mail cards and actually setting up a chess set and tinkering with the pieces was a lot more satisfying, at least that's the way I remember it. 

     The CCLA's Grand National has been played every year since 1933. It's a two-round event with each player playing six games in each round, A score of 4-2 or better is required to advance to the second round. The winner is determined by highest point total for both rounds. 
     Beginning in 1933, the CCLA reorganized its tournament offerings with the revival of the old Pillsbury National Correspondence Chess Association's Grand National. That first “modern” Grand National drew 134 players who were vying for state and regional championships. Section winners got a gold medal and a spot in the second round. The three finalist then played for the championship which was won by H.E. Jennings who received a trophy. 
     The Grand National was supposed to be a one time event, but it was so popular that it continued as an annual tournament. The event has had many prominent postal players as winners. John W. Collins won the 1937 event and the impressive Henry D. Hibbard trophy. It's not to be confused with the Westfield, New Jersey club’s Henry D. Hibbard Cup The last known holder of the postal trophy was Curtis Garner, the 1950 winner. Read more...  
     Because the CCLA was affiliated with the National Chess Federation in those days the winner was considered the US Correspondence Champion. The National Chess Federation was founded in 1927 to organize U.S. participation in the Olympiads and held the invitational U.S. Championship beginning in 1936. 
     In 1939, the United States of America Chess Federation was created in Illinois through the merger of the American Chess Federation and National Chess Federation. The American Chess Federation, formerly the Western Chess Association, had held an annual open championship since 1900; that tournament, after the merger, became the U.S. Open. 
     Some prominent names included among the Grand National winners have been: Dr. Bela Rozsa, Paul Poschel, C. Fred Tears, Dr, Isaac Farber, Nicholas A. Preo, John T. Westbrock, Irving Kandel (10 times!), Dr. Norman Hornstein, Leonid Dreibergs and Ted Dunst. 
     The two most interesting players in this list were no doubt Kandel (see my post HERE) and the strangest of all, Nicholas A. Preo. You can read the Preo story HERE