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Monday, December 31, 2018

Happy New Year

May you all gain 200 rating points in the coming year!

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Pyotr Dubinin

     Pyotr Dubinin (June 30, 1909 – November 18, 1983, 74 years old) was born in Nizhny Novgorod. Awarded the IM title in 1950 and the Correspondence GM title in 1962, he was joint USSR Correspondence Champion in 1957. In the 3rd World Correspondence Chess Championship (1959 - 1962), he finished 2nd behind Alberic O'Kelly. How do you pronounce Dubinin?  
     In 1952 he was awarded the Soviet Union's Honored Master of Sport. Introduced in 1934 by the Central Executive Committee, it was awarded by the State Committee for Physical Culture and Sport to athletes, including chess players, for outstanding performance. Recipients received a badge and certificate. It was conferred for life, but Alla Kushnir and Viktor Korchnoi had theirs revoked when they defected from the Soviet Union and Mark Taimanov's was revoked in 1971 following his crushing defeat at the hands of Bobby Fischer, but it was restored in 1991. 
     The Russian Civil War was fought from November 1917 to October 1922. It was a multi-party war in the former Russian Empire immediately after the two Russian Revolutions of 1917, as many factions vied to determine Russia's political future. 
     The two largest combatant groups were the Red Army, fighting for the Bolshevik form of socialism led by Vladimir Lenin and the loosely allied forces known as the White Army, which included diverse interests favoring political monarchism, economic capitalism and alternative forms of socialism, each with democratic and antidemocratic variants. In addition, rival militant socialists and non-ideological Green armies fought against both the Bolsheviks and the Whites. 
     Life in Russia and, also, chess was in turmoil. White Guards controlled much of the countryside and the Czech Legion, an army of former POWs trying to get home by marching east , shared much of Siberia with anti-Bolsheviks. A Polish army took advantage of the chaos and invaded the Ukraine in 1920 hoping to establish a new country. 
     During that time disease was rampant and food scarce. Vasily Panov recalled how one day during the hunger of 1918 and 1919 his mother brought home dog meat for dinner: it was selling for one third of the price of horse meat. In Nizhny Novgorod, one of the largest Russian cities east of Moscow, Dubinin found himself, at age 14, having to feed his family after his father died of hunger and exhaustion in 1921. 
     By 1931 Josef Stalin was in power. Some of his action that year included banning the sale or importation of Bibles and he ordered that Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral be blown up. Stalin turned Abkhazia into an autonomous region of Georgia. Beria, his secret police chief, later resettled Georgians from the western part of the country in Abkhazia. 
     In a little known part of history, the US Department of Commerce issued a pamphlet titled “Employment for Americans in Soviet Russia." The reason: in the early 1930s hundreds of Americans immigrated to the Soviet Union in search of jobs and a new life. Many ended up in mass graves.  
     It was a bad time in the Soviet Union and the 22-year old Dubinin found himself building a bridge across the Oka River in Gorky. From 1932 to 1990, it was known as Gorky after the writer Maxim Gorky, who was born there. Today it is known as Nizhny Novgorod. 
     In the evenings workers met at their club to read and play chess and there, Dubinin was known as “our Botvinnik.” Dubinin, who had a second category rating, studied for hours studying theory and playing over master games. A second category rating was roughly equal to the USCF Class A (1800-2000 Elo) rating. 
     In 1932 Dubinin was drafted into the Army. In 1938 he was to write in an article a load of political propaganda in which he stated “Our Army provides men with all the conditions for developing their abilities in every direction.” He added that he had the opportunity to participate in five major tournaments of Army players and improved to reached a First Category rating (USCF Expert, 200-2199 Elo). 
     During that time he carried a chess book in his backpack as he fought all over the Western front. Apparently Dubinin was a good soldier. He earned decorations for personally capturing German soldiers and other valorous actions. He also suffered frostbite of both legs. 
     One of his successes came in 1934 when he finished second behind Belavenets in the Russian Federation Championship. The same year he participated in the USSR Championship in Leningrad, but did not do especially well, scoring only 7.0-12.0. The only highlights were his wins over Ragozin, Ilya Rabinovich and Alexander Ilyin-Zhenevsky.  By 1938 he had achieved the Soviet Master title as a result of his success in the semi-finals of the USSR Championship. Then in 1939, in the final of the USSR Championship he tied for 8th place. In 1939, he tied for 7th place, defeating Ragoin, Kotov and Boleslavsky in the process. 
     Just as his battalion was about to seize the Baltic port of Koenigsberg in February, 1945, he received an invitation to play in the Soviet Championship semi-finals which he refused. In the fighting he suffered heavy shell shock and was finally demobilized with the rank of deputy battalion commander. 
     Shell shock was a term coined in World War I to describe the type of post-traumatic stress disorder many soldiers were afflicted with. It is a reaction to the fighting that produced a helplessness appearing variously as panic and being scared, flight, or an inability to reason, sleep, walk or talk. 
     After the War he returned to Gorky where he popularized chess and worked on the theory of various openings. Dubinin was a big man who weighed up around 300 pounds and took part in weight lifting competitions.  At one time in a Moscow railway station a thief stole his luggage which contained many of his chess notes and as a result, he developed a distrust of people and a virulent hatred of thieves. 
     His opponent in this game was Nikolay Novotelnov (December 1911 - December 2006) was from St. Petersburg and received the IM title in 1951. A chess author, he was champion of Leningrad and won Russian Federated Republics championship in 1947.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Scarborough 1929

     Scarborough, a town on the North Sea coast of North Yorkshire, England is the largest holiday resort on the Yorkshire coast. The town has fishing and service industries which today includes a growing digital and economy, as well as being a tourist destination.  
     On December 16, 1914 the town was attacked by the Imperial German Navy as were the ports of Hartlepool, West Hartlepool and Whitby. The attack resulted in 592 casualties, many of them civilians, of whom 137 died. The attack caused public outrage towards both the German Navy for the attack and against the Royal Navy for its failure to prevent the raid. 
     Scarborough held an annual chess festival founded in 1925 which continues to this day. In 1929 the festival was held at the Pavilion Hotel from May 18 to May 25 and included two players of international repute, Dr. Savielly Tartakower and Sir George Thomas. The others except surprise co-winner Harold Saunders were chosen only at the very beginning of the tournament. 
     After Saunders beat Tartakower early in the rounds, the tournament became an exciting race between them. Tartakower and Thomas are too well known to write about, but the others are almost unknown to players today. 
     Co-winner Harold Saunders (September 4, 1876 – July 13, 1950, 73 years old) was born in Montreal, Canada, as the eighth of eleven children. Some time before 1891, most of the family moved to London where his father was a jeweler. Harold became a stockbroker. During his career he had considerable success in local tournaments. His father, and two of his older brothers, Edward Saunders and Ernest Saunders, were also competitive chess players. 
     Victor Wahltuch (May 24, 1875 – August 27, 1953, 78 years old) was born in Manchester, England. A talented amateur, he was London Champion in 1935-36 (after a play-off) and competed in the London Tournament of 1922. He passed away in London in 1953. 
     Edith Holloway (nee Crittenden) (born 1868 – May 8, 1956, 87 years old) was Women's World Championship Challenger in 1927, 1935 and 1937. She was also British Women's Champion in 1919 and 1936. 
     John Jackson (January 27, 1932) of Scotland is virtually unknown today. His father taught him to play chess at the age of 12 and he joined the Glasgow Chess Club at the age of 14. There he was mentored by W.A. Fairhurst. Active in the local club and a participant in several Scottish Boys' Championships, as well as the British Boys' Championships of 1948 and 1949, he was Scotland's representative in the first World Junior championship in 1951. In October 1954 he emigrated to Canada, where he continued to play chess until family constraints restricted these activities. At last report he was living in retirement in Toronto. 
     Charles F. Bolland (October 3, 1868 – April 9, 1937, 68 years old) was born in Springs Grove, Hunslet, Leeds as the 6th of 7 children of iron master William T. Bolland. He grew up with his grandmother he first years and after 1872 with his father and his mother's sister. He was admitted at Clare College, Cambridge in 1886 where he earned an MA degree in 1898. He worked as a clergyman several places, before he became vicar and then a rector. He retired to Chichester, West Sussex and died in Hastings. In 1928 he lost a match against Vera Menchik, two to five with no draws. 
     Henry A. Cadman (May 7, 1872 – June 3, 1933, 61 years old) was born near Huddersfield, Yorkshire as the 1st of 9 children where his father was a solicitor. A solicitor is a lawyer who gives legal advice and represent the clients in the courts. A barrister can be distinguished from a solicitor because they wear a wig and gown in court. They work at higher levels of court than solicitors and their main role is to act as advocates in legal hearings, which means they stand in court and plead the case on behalf of their clients in front of a judge. Cadman studied law, and ran for about 25 years after his father’s death the law firm Cadman, Grylls and Co. in Gomersal. He was also a commissioner for oaths, or as they are known in the U.S., a public notary). He died in Scarborough in 1933. 

Final standings: 
1-2) Saunders and Tartakower 6.0-1.0 
3) Thomas 5.5-1.5 
4) Wahltuch 3.5-3.5 
5) Holloway 2.5-4.5
6) Jackson 2.0-5.0 
7) Bolland 1.5-5.5 
8) Cadman 1.0-6.0

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Bisguier Suffers Shingles – Slaughtered by Szabo

     The 1955 Buenos Aires tournament, held at the Argentina Chess Club, was another in a string of successes for the twenty-two year old Borislav Ivkov. All he needed was a draw in the last round to clinch first which he duly obtained.
     Fellow Yugoslav Svetozar Gligorich came a close second while third place finisher Herman Pilnik of Argentina was in remarkably good form. He started by defeating U.S. Champion Arthur Bisguier in the first round and stayed near or at the top all the way. 
     A youthful Oscar Panno, age 20, must have been disappointed, though he did make a plus score.  Panno had won the World Junior Championship in 1953, finishing ahead of such future strong GMs as Borislav Ivkov, Bent Larsen and Fridrik Olafsson. He also won the championship of Argentina in 1953. 
     Bisguier’s showing was disappointing, but he had come down with a case of shingles. The rash itched horribly and made it impossible for him to sleep at night. His first round loss was indicative of what was to come.  In the first half of the tournament he didn't win a single game, but he did pull up from a three point deficit to finish with a respectable score by defeating Gligorich in round 8, Sanguinetti in round 11, Reinhardt in round 13 and Donner in round 14. 
     Szabo's defeat of Bisguier was an instructive game. Bisguier repeated the passive defense that he had played earlier against Trifunovic. In that game Trifunovic had, himself, also played passively. Bisguier repeated the same line against Szabo who was not as peaceably inclined as Trifunovic had been. The result was a quick, smashing attack that sent Bisguier down in just a few more moves. 

1) Borislav Ivkov 13.0 
2) Svetozar Gligorich 12.5 
3) Herman Pilnik 12.0 
4) Laszlo Szabo 11.5 
5-7) Ludek Pachman, Hector Rossetto and Arthur Bisguier 10.0 
8) Oscar Panno 9.5 
9) Jan Hein Donner 9.0 
10-13) Petar Trifunovic, Pedro Martin, Carlos Guimard and Roman Toran 8.0 
14) Raul Sanguinetti 7.5 
15) Alfredo Esposito 7.0 
16) Leonardo Lipiniks 4.0 
17) Enrique Reinhardt 3.0 
18) Francisco Benko 2.0 

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Never Assume Anything...Check It Out

     Sometimes you come across a name of someone and wonder who they were and if they were a good chess player, why weren't they better known? 
     According to Chessmetrics, in 1909 Frank Marshall was ranked number 10 in the world with an assigned rating of 2597. It was also in that year that he played a match with a young Cuban player named Capablanca and to most people's surprise, lost eight games, drew fourteen and won only one. Nevertheless, there can be no doubt that Marshall was in top form in 1909 and in November he defeated Jackson W. Showalter in a match to became the U.S. Champion. 
     Earlier in 1909 Marshall lost an informal three game match by a score of 2-1 against Edward P. Elliott (1893 – 1955) of Minnesota. Elliott had won the Western Chess Association (forerunner of the U.S. Open) championship in 1908 and was to win it again in 1912. So, who was this relatively obscure Edward P. Elliott that was good enough to vanquish the legendary Frank Marshall? 

     There is not a lot known about Elliott besides his winning the Western Open a couple of times. A long time prominent figure in Midwest chess, one source says he was a resident of St. Paul and another says Minneapolis. After his defeat of Marshall, Chess Weekly, a magazine edited by William E. Napier, Magnus Smith and Charles Nugent, said that his play, which was described a “clever”, indicated that he “would be a valuable addition the American Cable Team.”
     Presumably by American Cable Team they were referring to the yearly Anglo-American cable match series between teams from Great Britain and the United States that were conducted over transatlantic cable from 1896 to 1911, except for the three-year gap of 1904 to 1906 when no matches were held. The series ended when Great Britain won their third consecutive match, thereby earning permanent custody of the silver cup provided by Sir George Newnes.
     Prominent British players included Joseph Blackburne, Amos Burn, Henry Bird, Henry Atkins, Horatio Caro, James Mason, Frederick Yates, Sir George Thomas, and Thomas Lawrence. 
     For the U.S.: Harry Pillsbury, Jackson Showalter, Frank Marshall, Albert Hodges, Eugene Delmar and John Barry. The 1909 cable match against Great Britain was played in March and Elliott wasn't on the team which consisted of Frank Marshall, John Barry, Albert Hodges, Hermann Voigt, James Howell, Herman Helms, George J. Schwietzer, Samuel L. Stadelman, Stash Mlotkowski ans William A. Ruth. Great Britain won 6-4. 
     I discovered a clipping from the Santa Ana (California) Daily Register dated December 5, 1932 in which Elliott's name appeared. According to the article, local players would be interested in an upcoming evening of chess at the YMCA in which arrangements had been made to have Edward P. Elliott, Orange County Chess Champion, give a simultaneous exhibition. 
     In the following game from the match, at move 14 Elliott plays a risky attacking move offering up a B which Marshall unwisely accepted. Then, on his next move it was Marshall's turn to take a risk. Instead of trading down into a murky, but favorable ending, he blundered by trying to keep pieces on the board. 
     One can't know what Marshall was thinking, but the continuation indicates that at move 17 he made what Andrew Soltis has called an assumption error. It's quite possible he assumed white would make the recapture 17.Bxe4. Instead he played 14.Bc4+ and Marshall had no choice but to give up his Q for two Bs, but had no compensation and resignation a couple of moves later was in order. 
     Assumptions errors are quite common. As Soltis observed, it's impossible to calculate without making assumptions, but we have to make sure that must-make moves really are musts and not most likelies. 
     False assumptions are most likely to happen with recaptures. As Eduard Gufeld once explained, he forgot chess is not checkers and recaptures are not obligatory. 
     Checks are another common source of false assumptions. It's common to assume a check is the most forceful move in the position, but it may be that some other move is stronger. 
     There's also the psychological side. Once we realize we have assumed something to be true then realize it's not, it's easy to start second guessing yourself. 
     Dr. Martha Sirota, writing about assumptions we all make in life wrote, “It’s also no big deal for us to decide, arbitrarily, why an event has taken place. We don’t base this decision on observable evidence or factual knowledge; we just make the decision and believe it, as if it were fact.” 
    “The problem with making these types of assumptions, and we all do it, myself included, is that more often than not, we’re wrong. We assume that a person has a specific motivation for their actions or that an event took place for a specific reason. Then we start to see these incorrect assumptions as the truth. A lot of damage can be done by confusing our assumptions with the truth.” 
     Dr. Sirota wasn't speaking about chess players, but she could have been. 

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Perpetual Chess Podcast

     This is a site containing “weekly interviews with movers and shakers from the chess world” by Ben Johnson (FIDE 2174). 
     Seriously, the list of players is nothing short of amazing and Mr. Johnson has even listed the interviews by subject matter: top players, writers, chess and business, history, adult improvement, etc. In addition, he has listed many chess books recommended by guests. The site will provide hours of entertainment and is a must visitVISIT SITE

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Stockfish 10 Evaluations

     ...I don't trust 'em! After having used Stockfish 10 for a while it seems to me that it's evaluations are cattawampus. 
     This is probably because of the default contempt factor. An engine's contempt factor is how many centipawns it thinks the pieces are better than the opponent's. SF 10's default contempt value is 24 while SF 9's is 20. 
     With the slightly higher contempt factor SF 10 tries to avoid repetitions and continue the game compared to SF9, but the higher contempt value results in excessive optimism and sometimes makes it go for risky lines. At worst, the contempt value gives an excessively high evaluation of the position compared to other engines, something SF 9 was already prone to do anyway. This can be misleading and can be harmful in some situations.
     In any case, SF 10's evaluation are just too optimistic as far as I am concerned. This can be dangerous in correspondence play on sites where engine use is allowed. 
     A while back I entered a rapid play section (time limit 10 basic plus 1 day per move, no vacations) on Lechenicher SchachServer where they allow engine use because I wanted to test the SugaR Pro engine. 
     I got inferior positions so switched to Stockfish 9 and so far salvaged three games as draws, but one was beyond hope. When Stockfish 10 came out, I switched to it, but it suggested that all three of those games in which I salvaged draws were beyond hope.  If I had believed its evaluations, I would have resigned! 
     For example, in the position after black's 8th move in the Forgacs – Maroczy game below, after 20 minutes all engines selected the correct move, but their evaluations differed considerably. Clearly, white stands better, but by how much?  Actually, in the position white probably does have enough of an advantage to win, but the evaluations illustrate the point.  So, for now I am sticking with Stockfish 9.

Friday, December 21, 2018

A Bizarre Game

     The below game opens with the unorthodox St. George Defense, also known as the Birmingham Defense and the Basman Counterattack, when black played 1...a6. 
     The first known example was when J. Baker, an English amateur, used it to defeat Wilhelm Steinitz in a simultaneous exhibition in 1868.      
     In modern times Michael Basman and Anthony Miles occasionally played it and Basman even wrote a book on it. Miles once used it in a sensational defeat of Anatoly Karpov. It also occurred by transposition when Spassky used it against Petrosian in their 1966 world championship match. Petrosian won that one though and it was the game that gave him the 12 points needed to retain his title.       
     The St. George was the defense that Geza Maroczy chose in his game against Leo Forgacs when they met in Budapest, 1902, but the opening quickly transposed into the French Defense.  At move 5 Maroczy left the opening book and the game  took a bizarre turn.       
     In the first 13 moves Marocy sacrificed his Q, won Forgacs' R and promoted a P to a new Q. In the 8 moves that followed Forgacs duplicated the feat. The heartless Stockfish ripped the game apart in the auto-annotation and was quite liberal with it's "?" and "??" but who cares?       
     Not a lot is known about the Hungarian player Leo Forgacs, aka Leo Fleischmann, (October 1881 - August 1930).  Forgacs began his international career as Leo Fleischmann at Hanover 1902 where he won Haupturnier B in the 13th DSB Congress. He won the Hungarian champioship in 1907.  After 1908 he began playing as Leo Forgacs.  He had some modest successes, but mostly he was in the middle of the pack and his last major event appears to have been in 1913 when he finished 3rd in Budapest. Chessmetrics lists him as playing from the years 1904 to 1915 with a high rating of 2503 in 1909.      

     Geza Maroczy (March 1870 – May 1951) was one of the leading players in the world in his time. Between 1902 and 1908, he took part in thirteen tournaments and won five first prizes and five second prizes. In 1906 he agreed to terms for a World Championship match with Emanuel Lasker, but political problems in Cuba, where the match was to be played, caused the arrangements to be canceled.       
     After 1908, Maróczy retired from international chess to devote more time to his profession, working as an auditor at the Center of Trade Unions and Social Insurance. When the Communists came briefly to power he was a chief auditor at Educational Ministry. After the Communist government was overthrown he couldn't get a job. He made a brief return to chess after World War I. His style, though sound, was very defensive and his proficiency in Queen endings was legendary. Capablanca held Maroczy in high esteem calling him "very gentlemanly and correct" and "a kindly figure." It was Maroczy who helped Vera Menchik reach the top of women's chess. On the Chessmetrics rating list, in 1905 Maroczy's rating is given as 2820 making him number 1 in the world. Up until the mid-1930s Marocy was ranked within the top 10-15 best players in the world. 

Thursday, December 20, 2018

It's Not Conducive To Good Chess Howled Howell

     When he made that complaint, C.S. Howell was referring to an announced mate in 39 moves in a correspondence game between R.A. Hart of Baton Rouge, Louisiana and J.A. Ford of Waterville, Mississippi that was played in the Pillsbury National Chess Association back in 1900. I posted on that game a few years ago HERE. A few years ago I also posted on the subject of announced mates in You Can Take Rat Poison On It
     In the same column Howell dealt with a dispute in a game played in an Ohio vs. Michigan correspondence match. The president of the Ohio Chess Association, Dr. Van Nuys, pointed out that it involved the much abused hypothetical move and this method of speeding up the game was abused by many players resulting in frequent disputes. 
     Back in the days when I played postal chess, the danger of “if” moves was still present; I rarely used them no matter how obvious the opponent's reply looked. 
     I remember reading of one unfortunate incident in which white played 1.d4. His opponent replied 1...g6 and sent the following message: “if any, then 2...Bg7.” By “any” black probably had in mind 2.c4 or 2.e4, or possibly a N move. But, he was surprised when white played 2.Bh6 and after the obligatory 2...Bg7, white played 3.Bxg7 and black had lost a Bishop and a Rook! 

This was the position in the Ohio vs. Michigan game: 

     Black's last move (11...Ba6) was accompanied by an “if” move. “If 12.Q moves, d5.” White accepted the “if” move and played 12.Qxa6. The Michigan player tried to weasel out of his mistake and declined to play 12...d5, claiming that 12.Qxa6 “was not a move in that sense of the word.” I assume black was a politician in real life.  White, who was apparently a nice guy, said he would move 12.Qb5, but black again refused to play 12...d5. Van Nuys' question to Howell was whether or nor the “if” move meant the Q was to move to a place of safety or did white have the right to play Qxa6? Howell's reply was, basically, rules are rules and have to be adhered to.
     Chess played by post cards had a lot of problems besides those “if” moves. Recording errors happened occasionally. Once in a winning position one of the top rated correspondence players in the U.S. made one against me and was forced to resign. Fortunately for him, by that time I had become a Saint and offered him a draw which he accepted. 
     Cards that “went astray” were another common problem, especially if a player was in time trouble...”I didn't receive your last card.” was a common excuse. 
     Time disputes were not uncommon. In an early ICCF postal game I mailed 1.d4 to my Russian opponent and somehow lost by time forfeit. My complaint to the Tournament Director, who happened to be an East German, fell on deaf ears. To this day I am not sure how you can exceed the time limit after playing the first move. 
     There was another rule: Players who expect their games to go beyond two years must notify the Postal Chess Director. Failure to report to the Director meant the game was closed out as a draw. That's a long time to play a game. I had one Canadian opponent who worked on a pipe line north of the Arctic Circle and his mail was flown in once a week. 12 moves and a year later we agreed to a draw; postal chess just wasn't working out for him! 
     Moves might be written on a variety of cards. Some had diagrams on them, some were standard issue cards from the post office and some were picture post cards. Some opponents were chatty, some weren't, but you could pretty safely bet that opponents sending picture post cards would talk your leg off if given the opportunity. Unlike server play today, there was no way to turn off chat on a post card, so some guys just ignored even a simple note.
     For international play you could buy an international air mail sheet (air mail cost more in those days) for 10 cents. They were flimsy blue paper sheets. You wrote on one side, folded it on the dotted lines into an envelop size and wrote the address on the “back.” My German was passable and a lot of players spoke English and German, so some chit chat was possible. Conversation and addressing cards or air mail sheets was difficult if your opponent was Russian. Who knows Russian?! 
     Disappearing players were a problem, too. Some guys just stopped playing. That was OK if you had a winning position. Although it was a pain, you could submit the game for adjudication. However, if after a year's worth of effort and in an equal position, when a guy disappeared it was just frustrating. At least some players had the decency to notify their opponents and the TD that they were withdrawing. Even then, the problem of having wasted time and effort was still annoying, but you had to realize that life happens. 
     It didn't happen to me, but one postal player whose opponent wouldn't resign in a lost position wrote him a note informing him, “My physician says my heart is in excellent shape.” Meaning he wasn't going to drop dead of a heart attack any time soon, so resignation was in order. The reply, “What does your psychiatrist say?” 
     It was rare to actually meet a postal opponent though I did on two occasions. One at an out of state tournament and one who let me know he'd be passing through town. He got off the turnpike and we met for coffee at the local Howard Johnson restaurant. Most weren't interested in you, they just enjoyed the game. Probably the biggest enjoyment came when you got a card that said “I resign.” You could gloat all day! 
    I played a few opponents who were in prison. Someone once asked me if I wasn't worried about them showing up at my home with a gun after they got out. I wasn't, but some people were and when entering a tournament you could specify that you didn't want to play them. The late Jim Schroeder, who ran a fund that supplied prisoners with books and sets, always claimed the recidivism rate among prisoners who played chess was way below that of those who didn't.  I don't now where his stats came from, but I always tried to help out a little and he was appreciative.
    The problem with playing prisoners was that it wasn't unusual for them to get caught up in some kind of situation where they couldn't get mail for a time...who knows why? One guy told me he was caught in a shakedown and officials confiscated his chess equipment for a while. One prisoner disappeared for a couple of weeks and exceeded the time limit. I got a card from him about three weeks later telling me he had been transferred to another prison and didn't have access to his chess stuff. I hadn't claimed the game so we continued. In one rather amusing incident my opponent was incarcerated for armed robbery. About half way through our game he got paroled. When he got out he informed me he was living in a halfway house and working in a gun factory. 
     In between postal and server play was email. It had the best and worst features of both worlds. The following game was one of my first email tournaments, but I am nor sure which organization it was with. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Defend Your h7 Pawn At Least Five Times

     ...that's the advice you get when playing Larry Christiansen because he's a dangerous attacker who even published two books telling you how to do it, Storming the Barricades and Rocking the Ramparts
     Born June 27, 1956, Christiansen grew up in Riverside, California and at an early age showed a lot of promise. In 1971, he became the first junior high school student to win the National High School Championship and went on to win three invitational U.S. Junior Championships (1973, 1974 and 1975). 
     And, he is a three time U.S. Champion (1980, 1983 and 2002). He has played on the U.S. Olympiad teams of 1980, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1992, 1996 and 2002. 
     In 1977, at the age of 21, he skipped over the IM title to become GM. In the 1990s Christiansen enjoyed considerable success in Europe. He and his wife temporarily moved to Germany where in 1991 he finished first in strong events in Munich and Vienna. He won the prestigious Linares, once a clear first and the other time tying with Anatoly Karpov. 

     While living in Germany he also played team competition in the Bundesliga. He is the owner of a 14-move win over Anatoly Karpov. 
     Other tournament victories include the 2001 Canadian Open Championship, Curacao in 2008 and the Bermuda Open in 2011. Nowadays he plays a great deal on the Internet Chess Club, but other than an occasional open tournament, he has not played much since the early 2000s.  His current FIDE rating is 2574. 
     He describes his style as aggressive-tactical and in keeping with that his favorite opening is the Saemisch King's Indian. His handling of the Saemisch is demonstrated in the following game from Munich, 1991.

Munich 1991 Final Standings:
1) Larry Christiansen 9.5 
2-5) Boris Gelfand, Alexander Beliavsky, Robert Huebner and Gerlad Hertneck 8.0 
6) John Nunn 7.5 
7) Viswanathan Anand 7.0 
8) Judith Polgar 6.5 
9) Vastimil Hort 6.0 
10) Eric Lobron 5.5 
11-12) Leonid Yudasin and Susan Polgar 5.0 
13-14) Matthias Wahls and Stefan Kindermann 3.5