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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

The Attacking Genius Of Mikhail Chigorin

     Chess in Translation has an old article in 2010 titled The Forgotten Recollections of Chigorin’s Daughter that is fascinating reading. 
     Chessmetrics puts Chigorin's rating at a hefty 2797 in 1895 which places him right behind Lasker and Tarrasch. In 1889 and 1897 he is ranked number two behind Steinitz and Lasker respectively. In 1893 he tied Tarrasch 11-11 in a match in St. Petersburg. Both players score +9 -9 =4. The first player to win ten games would win the match, but if each player won nine games, the match would end without a winner. In Three Hundred Games, Tarrasch wrote that he received an invitation "couched in the most flattering terms" from St. Petersburg. However, Garry Kasparov stated in his On My Great Predecessors, Part I that Tarrasch challenged Chigorin. 
     In any case, Kasparov praised this match between the two who were among the best players in the world at the end of the Steinitz era for the richness of its content and noted that the contestants "fought literally to the to the last pawn: in the first nine games and the six final ones there was not a single draw!" The match was a battle between two different style: Tarrasch's classical style and Chigorin's creative style in which he frequently looked not for the rules but the exceptions. 
     The only book contining a collection of his games that I know of is Mikhail Chigorin: The Creative Genius by Jimmy Adams, but it has the rather hefty price tag of $34.00. I have never seen the book, but am familar with Adams writing which is superb. 

     Chigorin greatly influenced the development of chess in Russia because of his striking originality. He rebelled against the dogmatic principles of Steinitz and Tarrasch which he believed placed restrictions on creative thinking. Chigorin's claim was that it was necessary to take into account all the "concrete" features of the position and make a dynamic appraisal of each position, especially its tactical possibilities.  It was this thinking that lead him to infuse new life into many openings of the day and inspire those who came after him to delve more deeply into opening theory. 
House of Staunton St. Petersburg chess set...only $895

     Chigorin challenged Steinitz for the world championship twice, losing 10-6 and 10-8. In those matches Adams states "In the match came to light the weak side of Chigorin - the sportsman. He ought to have set himself the task, long before, of finding a correct system of play as Black against 1. d4. In 1889, as indeed also later, he placed too many hopes on improvisation at the board."
     While playing over the games from the book The Games of the St. Petersburg Tournament 1895-1896 by James Mason and WHK Pollock, the games of Chigorin were a source of fascination. 
     At the closing banquet of the Hastings 1895, Chigorin announced that the top prizewinners had been invited to St. Petersburg for a match-tournament to begin in December that year. The top finishers Pillsbury, Chigorin and Lasker, plus fifth-place finisher Steinitz agreed to play; fourth-place finisher Siegbert Tarrasch declined. They played six games against each other. The tournament was a disappointment for Pillsbury and Chigorin. 
     Pillsbury was in bad form in the second half and Chigorin in the first or the results might have been completely different. 

     In the following game Chigorin had lost the opening battle and was facing a sure defeat when at move 17 he decided on a R sacrifice that while not sound turned out to be more than Pillsbury could handle. He ended up in time pressure and wasn't able to find the correct defense. 

Monday, April 29, 2019

Eric Andersen Revisited

     “You must take your opponent into a deep dark forest where 2+2=5 and the path leading out I only wide enough for one.” (Mikhail Tal) 
     As astute reader “Cribb” pointed out, my post on Eric Andersen on February 4th contained a faux pas on my part in which I described one game and posted another one, a loss no less! 
     After playing over several of Andersen’s games the one I had decided to post (given below) was hardly one of his “best,” but it was an exciting one. Chessgames.com had a discussion of it in which one reader thought it was a great game with a masterful finish worthy of a puzzle of the day. Another disagreed, pointing out that based on engine analysis, it was a comedy of errors.
     It doesn’t matter. If one is looking for perfection, one can play over the games of modern day correspondence champions with their engine assisted near perfect games. If one is looking for spill and thrills, play over games like Andersen’s win over Wagner in the following game! 
     Andersen’s sacrifice was unsound in that it should have resulted in no more than equality and at move 30 black missed the winning line. Then on the very next move, he resigned in a position in which Andersen had no more than a perpetual check! 
     OK, so the game was far from perfect and black got lead into the forest where 2+2 actually did equal 4; the path leading out was wide enough for two, but it was too dark for the players to discern it!
     Heinrich Wagner (August 9, 1888 – June 24, 1959) was a German player. He was awarded the IM title because of his 3rd= placing with Akiba Rubinstein after Efim Bogoljubov and Aron Nimzowitsch at Breslau in 1925. He also played on the German Olympiad teams of 1927, 1928, 1930 and 1931, but retired from chess when the Nazis came to power. 

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Angel Martin Explains Chess

     The Rockford Files was a television drama series starring James Garner that aired between September 13, 1974 and January 10, 1980, in which Garner portrayed a private investigator in Los Angeles named Jim Rockford. In 2002, the show was ranked number 39 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time. 
     Angel Martin, played by Stuart Margolin, was Rockford's scheming former San Quentin cellmate, Evelyn "Angel" Martin who was something of a comic relief character. Angel was employed as an operative from time to time, often to gather street-level information, or to help Rockford access the files of the newspaper where Angel worked as a low-level filing clerk. 
     Angel was always running some sort of con game, and was consistently ready to sell anyone out at a for his own benefit and it usually got Rockford in trouble, usually by involving him in hare-brained scams without his knowledge,and consent. 
     In the following clip from season 2, Angel explains chess.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Jiri Vesely, Chessmaster and Informer

    If you follow tennis you might be familiar with the Jiri Vesely, the Czech professional tennis player, but if you follow chess, you probably aren’t familiar with Jiri Vesely, the Czech chess player.
     Jiri Vesely (May 30, 1932 – February 27, 2009), the chess player, was a well known chess writer and reporter who wrote several chess books which are still quite popular in Czech Republic. In 1950s and early 1960s he was also one of leading Czech players. As late as 2006 Vesely was still active in team play for his club, but his rating had slipped from a high in the 2400s back in the 1960s to about 2100. 
     But Jiri Vesely had a dark side...he was a long time StB informer under nickname Sachista which means Chessplayer. The StB was the Czechoslovak communist secret police. It was a plainclothes communist secret police force in the former Czechoslovakia from 1945 to its dissolution in 1990. The StB served as an intelligence and counter-intelligence agency that dealt with any activity that could possibly be considered anti-state or western influence. 
     From its establishment on June 30, 1945, the StB was bound to and controlled by the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. The Party used the StB as an instrument of power and repression that spied on and intimidated political opponents of the Party and forged false criminal evidence against them. The StB facilitated the Communists' rise to power in 1948. 
     Even before Czechoslovakia became Communist, the StB forced confessions by means of torture, including the use of drugs, blackmail and kidnapping. Other common practices included telephone tapping, permanent monitoring of apartments, intercepting private mail, house searches, surveillance, arrests and indictment for so-called subversion of the republic. The StB's part in the fall of the regime in 1989 remains uncertain. The reported murder of a student by police during a peaceful demonstration in November 1989 was the catalyst for wider public support and further demonstrations, leading to the overthrow of the Communist regime. 
    State Security was dissolved on February 1, 1990. The current intelligence agency of the Czech Republic is the Security Information Service, but it is not a successor to StB. The former employees and associates (informers) of the StB were banned from taking certain jobs, such as legislators or police officers. 
     In the early 1990s former dissident and "StB hunter" Petr Cibulka published the names of over 200,000 alleged StB officers and collaborators who spied and reported on family members, friends, neighbors, and colleagues. In 2003, the Czech Interior Ministry released an official list of 75,000 StB agents and collaborators, including 3,000 names of collaborators from abroad. One of the more famous StB agents was Karl Koecher, who infiltrated the CIA as a mole in the 1970s; he was chose because of his English language skills. You can read his story HERE
     Another guy who has been accused of cooperating with the StB before 1989 is Vojtech Jasny, a Czech-American film director who came to prominence in the sixties. He won a Cannes Special Jury Prize for The Cassandra Cat in 1963. 
     As a son of a Czech patriot killed in Auschwitz, he was an active member of the Czech Resistance and also acted as a spy for the allies throughout the Second World War. An active filmmaker in Czechoslovakia throughout the 1950s and 1960s, he was among many artists and intellectuals who left the country after the USSR-led invasion following the Prague Spring of 1968. Jasny worked in other European countries for several years including Austria, West Germany and Yugoslavia until relocating to Brooklyn, New York in the early 1980s. 
     It’s interesting that in 2006, Radio Prague reported the Interior Ministry had for the first time admitted that some 800 agents of the former StB were still working in the country's police force. The then new interior minister Ivan Langer said that he wanted all former StB officers to leave the police as soon as possible. He planned to use a new civil service law to carry out personnel changes. 
     And, according to Reuters, last year a Slovak court rejected a demand by Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis to be cleared of cooperation with the communist-era secret police (StB). 
     The following game by Vesely was played in Chocen, a very small town in the Czech Republic. Vesely tied for first with J. Lastovicka and A. Pechan with 7.5-3.5. This game shows the difficulty of winning even when you have the superior position. The advantage seesawed back and forth until white made the final blunder at move 35. One suspects time pressure may have had something to do with it. 

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Chess Records and the 1954 Rosenwald

     Hoochie Coochie was a really old term, going back to 1890, about a sexual belly dance performed in carnival side-shows. Such dances, or something similar, were performed at the Crystal Palace Exhibition in London in 1851, the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876, and the World's Fair in Paris in 1889. 
     Although such dances became wildly popular in the United States during the Chicago World's Fair in 1893, there is no evidence of them being known by the name Hoochie Coochie until a couple of years after the fair closed. 
     I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man was the original title of a blues standard on Chess Records that was written by Willie Dixon and first recorded by Muddy Waters in 1954. The song makes reference to hoodoo folk magic elements and makes novel use of a stop-time musical arrangement. 
     It became one of Waters' most popular and identifiable songs and helped secure Dixon's role as Chess Records' chief songwriter. The song is a classic of Chicago blues and one of Waters' first recordings. After the song's initial success in 1954, Waters recorded several live and new studio versions. 
     On October 2, 1954, Elvis Presley appeared on the legendary Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. After hearing his rendition of Blue Moon of Kentucky, Opry talent manager Jim Denny told him he should go back to his day job as a truck driver. 
     Pool player Willie Mosconi sunk 526 pool balls, without missing, in Springfield, Ohio and then Vice-President Richard Nixon broke the original ivory gavel that had been in use by the Senate since 1789. RCA produced the first color televisions for public use and they cost $1,000, that’s almost $9,000 in today’ currency. Big names in entertainment were Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca, Milton Berle and Lucille Ball. The big late night television talk show was hosted was Steve Allen. 
     The 1954-55 Lessing J. Rosenwald Tournament was the first of a series of strong year-end invitational tournaments sponsored in part by Lessing J. Rosenwald of Sears Roebuck Co. One goal was to provide young US masters strong competition at home, with the long-term aim of improving US performance in international events. The initial plan was to have the Rosenwald Trophy rotate each year until a player had won it three times. 
     The fourth Rosenwald tournament would double as the US championship and would be Bobby Fischer’s first entry into a US championship and also his first of his eight US championships. 
    In the 1954-55 event Reuben Fine was originally invited, but declined. Robert Byrne was also invited, but decided against playing because of his graduate studies. James Sherwin was selected as Byrne's replacement. 
     Samuel Reshevsky had dominated US championship tournaments from its inception in 1936 until Fischer took over in 1957, with Reshevsky winning every championship he entered, with the exception of the 1951 event, which was won by Evans. 
     Larry Evans won the Marshall Chess Club championship at age 15, played in his first US championship at age 16, and his first Olympiad at 18. Evans had won the US championship in 1951 ahead of Reshevsky. 
     Arthur Bisguier won the US Championship in 1954. Donald Byrne won the 1953 US Open and would lose to Fischer in the Game of the Century in the third Rosenwald tournament in 1956. 
     James T. Sherwin was NY state champion in 1951 and won the US speed championship several times. He would play in a number of US championships.  George Kramer played in a number of US championships and was a reserve for the US team at the 1950 Olympiad, winning an individual bronze medal. 
     Reshevsky jumped out to a comfortable lead in the first half of the tournament with with a point and a half lead over Evans and Sherwin who were tied for second, Despite losing to Bisguier in Round 8, Reshevsky was able to hold his lead and win the tournament as Evans was only able to gain a half point on him. 
     Sherwin lost every game in the second half! Bisguier was able to finish third on the strength of an impressive +4 -0 =1 in the second half. 
     One of the more interesting games was Sherwin’s defeat of Kramer in the second round when Kramer played a variation with which he had scored many successes even though he knew that by the time this game was played it had been refuted. 
     The game followed Kramer’s analysis up until move 14 when Sherwin punched a hole in the analysis and followed it up with a series of hard hitting blows. 

1) Samuel Reshevsky 7.5-2.5 
2) Larry Evans 6.5-3.5 
3) Arthur Bisguier 6.0-4.0 
4) Donald Byrne 5.0-5.0 
5) James Sherwin 3.0-7.0 
6) George Kramer 2.0-8.0 

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Boleslavsky’s Hole

     Backward Pawns and holes are bad except when they’re not. What about when black plays ...e5 in the Sicilian leaving his d-Pawn backward and a hole on d5? The idea is that black wants to:

1) obtain superiority in the center by controlling d4 and f4 and prevent white from occupying d4 
2) build a solid center and prevent white from playing ...e5 
3) prepare quick development with moves like ...Be7 and Be6 and, at the same time, control d5 
4) often black will be able to play ...d5 after which he will have a clear superiority in the center 

      If white is to prevent this he must generally occupy d5 with a N and after black exchanges on d5 and white retakes with the e-Pawn the result will be black has a superiority on the K-side. Finally, the move ...e5 considerably reduces white’s attacking prospects on the K-side which allows black better chances of carrying out his plans on the Q-side. 
     For black, the Q-side operations mean that the c-file is of great importance. Oddly, black’s play on the c-file is often of greater effect than white’s against the backward P on the d-file; that’ because black’s d-Pawn is well protected by the B on e7. 
     The short version is that playing ...e5 gives black active piece play that outweighs the weakness of the backward Pawn. 
     The following model game was played at the Gothenburg Interzonal in 1955. The top nine players qualified for the Amsterdam Candidates tournament in 1956. Samuel Reshevsky and Larry Evans qualified, but withdrew, opting to play in the US Open instead. 
     Of particular theoretical note was that the 14th round saw three unsuccessful tries of a novelty in the Sicilian by players from Argentina against their Soviet opponents. 
     The case of the brilliant Yugoslav player Andrija Fuderer was also significant. After 12 rounds Fuderer’s score was 7.5-3.5 with one bye. But in the remaining rounds he totally collapsed and scored only 1.5-7.5. He lost to Szabo, Donner, Keres, Geller, Bronstein, and Pachman, drawing with Petrosian, Spassky and Ilivitzky. After this tournament Fuderer left chess for a University career.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Paul Mross

     World War II ended the career and sometimes the lives of many strong players. In many cases the memories of players of that era have been forgotten.
     Paul Mross, born as Pawel Mroz on January 23, 1910, was one such player. Although Mross held his own against players like Alekhine, Bogoljubow, Richter and Euwe and was still active after the war, he is unknown to chess fans of today. 
     One source lists his date of death as January 17, 1991 and says that in 1986, he moved to Dusseldorf, where his son Joachim Mross also lived.  However, a 2004 article in Chessbase (in German) states that his fate is unknown. 
     Mross grew up in Silesia, a region of Central Europe located mostly in Poland with small parts in the Czech Republic and Germany, which was raped by the Nazis after 1939. He won the Silesian Championship in 1929 and played for Silesia at second board in the 1st Polish Team Championship in 1929. 
     Mross was a member of the club Wielkie Hajduki (today: Chorzow Batory). At that time, it was a large and well-known club that was active until the outbreak of World War II. Mroz was a pillar of the club and his chess career started out to be very promising. 
     In early 1930s, he moved to Berlin and in 1935, tied for 3rd-4th in Swinemunde. In the Berlin City Championship he tied for 7th-8th in 1936, and tied for 4th-6th in 1938. In the spring of 1939, he finished 2nd in Berlin-Kreuzberg. 
     On September 1, 1939, Germany when invaded Poland to start World War II the finals began at the Chess Olympiad in Argentina. Two days later England declared war on Germany and the British team withdrew from the Olympiad and returned home on the first ship back to Britain. 
     The Olympiad continued and was won by Germany, but all five members of the German team (Eliskases, Michel, Engels, Becker, Reinhardt) chose not to return to Nazi Germany. Additionally, most of Jewish players from Europe chose to stay in Argntina. The list included Moshe Czerniak, Movsas Feigins, Paulino Frydman, Sonja Graf, Aristide Gromer, Markas Luckis, Mendel Najdorf,Jiri Pelikan, Ilmar Raud, Adolf Seitz, and Gideon Stahlberg, among many others.
     There were some tournaments held in Germany during the War. Salzburg in Austria brought together the six strongest players in Germany and the occupied and neutral European countries. The players included Alekhine, Keres, Stoltz and Germans Paul Schmidt, Klaus Junge and Bogoljuow. Euwe was invited by withdrew due to “illness.” 
     A book that may be interesting to chess players is The Death's Head Chess Club by John Donoghue, a psychiatric pharmacist by trade, that tells the story of an SS- Obersturmfuhrer who is transferred to Auschwitz from the Russian front after he is wounded. There, in an attempt to shore up camp morale, he establishes a chess club and learns of a Jewish prisoner considered unbeatable. The novel shifts between the camp and Amsterdam in the 1960s where a chess tournament brings up ugly issues of forgiveness after the horror of the concentration camps. 
     The German Championship was played from 1939 to 1943 and was won by Erich Eliskases (1939), Georg Kieninger (1940), Paul Schmidt and Klaus Junge (1941), Ludwig Rellstab (1942) and Josef Lokvenc (1943). There is an interesting biography of Elikases HERE that discusses his relationship with the Nazi party.
     The most promising German player was Klaus Junge (born 1924), who tied with Alekhine for first place at Prague 1942, at the age of just 18.  Prague proved was his last tournament. Serving in the German army, he was killed in action on April 17, 1945, just three weeks before the war ended in Europe. 
     Mross played in several tournaments during During World War II: 5th-8th in the 1st General Government tournament at Krakow–Krynica–Warsaw, 1940, 12th at Munich 1941, 10th-12th in the 2nd General Government at Warsaw–Krakow in 1941 and he won in the Krakow Championship in 1941. 
     After the war, he lived in Berlin-Spandau, where he played in several tournaments with moderate success before moving to Erlangen in the 1960s.
     The following game is from a forgotten tournament against an opponent known only as Baueriedel and is most interesting; Mross launches a snappy tactical attack that seems to materialize out of nowhere. 

Friday, April 19, 2019

Leela Zero Chess

     The Leela Chess Zero project was first announced on TalkChess.com on January 9, 2018. Leela Chess Zero is a free, open-source, and neural network based chess engine. Leela Zero and AlphaGo Zero, Leela Chess Zero only knows the basic rules and nothing more. 
     According to Wikipedia, Leela Chess Zero quickly reached the GM level, surpassing the strength of the early releases of Rybka, Stockfish, and Komodo. 
     In April 2018, Leela Chess Zero became the first neural network engine to enter the Top Chess Engine Championship (TCEC), during season 12 in the lowest division, but did not perform well, scoring +1 -26 =1. But, it improved quickly.
   In December 2018, Leela participated in season 14 of the TCEC and dominated divisions 3, 2, and 1, easily finishing first in all of them. In the premier division, Stockfish dominated while Houdini, Komodo and Leela competed for second place. It came down to a final-round game where Leela needed to hold Stockfish to a draw with black to finish second ahead of Komodo. This it successfully managed, and therefore contested the superfinal against Stockfish. It narrowly lost the superfinal against Stockfish with a 49.5-50.5 final score.
    In February 2019, Leela scored its first major tournament win when it defeated Houdini in the final of the second TCEC cup where it did not lose a game.  And, in April 2019, Leela won the Chess.com Computer Chess Championship: Blitz Bonanza. 
     Chessbase had a good article on it last year HERE. Installation instructions are also included, but you can also find them on Youtube. You can play against it on lichess. On the right hand side, click on “Play with the machine” then pick your level, time and color. 
     Yesterday I played it a 10 minute game on level 1 and won quite easily, but today playing it 10 minute games on level 8 was a different story! I became the crushee. Anyway, it was fun to play against. 

Here are the estimated Elo for each level. 
Level 1 = 1350 
Level 2 = 1420 
Level 3 = 1500 
Level 4 = 1600 
Level 5 = 1700 
Level 6 = 1900 
Level 7 = 2200 
Level 8 = 2700 

Thursday, April 18, 2019

First USSR Championship, Moscow 1920

     Officially the USSR Championship was played from 1921 to 1991 and they were probably the strongest national championship ever held; eight world chess champions and four world championship finalists were among the winners. It was held as a round-robin tournament with the exception of the 35th and 58th championships, which were of the Swiss system. 
     In 1920 the All-Russian Chess Olympiad was held in Moscow; it was later recognized as the first USSR championship. Conditions were deplorable; the players who didn’t live in Moscow were housed in a cold dorm with hard beds and poor food. 
     At one point the players threatened to quit, mostly because of the food which was Red Army rations. For example, soup made out of herring heads and fried herring tails. The players wondered where the middle of the herring was.
     Organizer and participant Ilyin-Genevsky managed to convince everybody to finish the tournament with the promise to pay expense money and increase the ration of bread and cheese. According to Levenfish, they were still hungry, but decided to finish the tournament anyway. 
     First prize was supposed to be an ivory Chinese chess set. However, it turned out to be assorted junk formerly belonging to emigres that had been confiscated from pawn shops. Alekhine chose a big, heavy vase and he and second place winner Romanovsky also received a cheap paper certificate. According to Alekhine, the apple cakes made from fine white flour that were served at the closing ceremony were pretty good though. 
     At age 26, Alekhine was by far the strongest player in Russia, but he was lucky to be alive to win the tournament. After his arrest and release at Mannheim 1914 at the outbreak of World War I, he had served as a Red Cross worker and was wounded twice, earning three medals in the process. However, his hair raising adventures weren’t over. 
     He had been in Moscow in 1917 during the revolution that overthrew the Czar and left Moscow's economy in ruins, so he left for the Ukraine to be a professional player even though it was also a battleground. 
     In 1919 the Red Army occupied Odessa and arrested and shot some 1,300 suspected traitors and Alekhine was nearly one of them. He was arrested by the Cheka, the forerunner of the KGB, and interrogated as a result of an anonymous accusation that he had passed on secret information. 
     There have been various stories about how Alekhine dodged the firing squad, but the future Canadian player Fedir Bohatyrchuk claimed that a strong master and problem composer from Odessa told him that just a few hours before Alekhine went before the firing squad, the master/composer sent a telegram to the Chairman of the Ukrainian Commissar who had heard of Alekhine and so ordered him freed. Clearly, Alekhine had political enemies, but he also had friends in high places because of his chess. 
     Going into the tournament, besides Alekhine, the only serious contender for first was Levenfish, but he was out of practice, arrived late from Petrograd and lost his first two games after getting winning positions from Romanovsky and I. Rabinovich. Alekhine was a clear winner, going undefeated. Romanovsky finished second despite three defeats (I. Rabinovich, Blumenfeld and Pavlov-Pjanov), but he only had two draws (Alekhine and Grigoriev). 

1) Alekhine 12.0 
2) Romanovsky 11.0 
3) Levenfish 10.0 
4) I. Rabinovich 9.5 
5-7) Grigoriev, A. Kubbel an A. Rabinovich 8.5 
8) Blumenfeld 8.0 
9-10) Danushevsky and Iljin-Genevsky 7.0 
11-12) Zubarev and Pavlov-Pjanov 6.5 
13) Tselikov 5.5 
14) Mund 4.5 
15) Pavlov 4.0 
16) Golubev 3.0 

     In the following game the position after 12.Nxd4 is worth taking a look at because it results in some neat tactics if black takes the R with 12...Bxe1. 
After 13.Nc5 Qb6 14.Ndxe6 Ne5 15.Qxe1 fxe6 16.Qxe5 white has a B and N for the R. Stockfish assigns white a winning advantage of almost four Ps, but just looking at the position, that looks very optimistic. In Shootouts white won every game, but how exactly would that be accomplished? 

Position after 16.Qxe5 (analysis)

You can see Stockfish’s solution HERE

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Have Fun...Experiment With the Quaade Gambit

     The Chess Player's Chronicle, 1889, printed the following article that appeared in the London edition of the New York Herald. Unless you’re a GM it remains relevant even today: 

BOOK OPENINGS “Keenest knowledge of chess openings is certainly essential to every chess player who is at all ambitious to make a reputation. It is, however, surprising how little book knowledge apparently is required nowadays by experts of the first rank when engaged in important chess tournaments or set matches. Enthusiastic amateurs who deem it necessary to learn by heart every new variation in the openings frequently burn the midnight oil in industriously analyzing the intricacies of the “Rosenstretter Gambit,” or the combinations which arise from the Meadow Hay opening. They consider it an absolute necessity to digest all the latest chess publications which appear from time to time, from the ponderous and really profound German Handbook down to the shilling pocket chess manual. Such enthusiasts might well pause, and with out recent experience enquire whether such studious labour is not wasted in these days of the modern chess school.” 

     The Meadow Hay is also known as the Ware Opening and begins 1.a4 and the Rosenstretter Gambit is a variation of the Muzio Gambit and begins 1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4 3. Nf3 g5 4. d4 g4 5. Bxf4; it’s considered to be refuted, but the similar Quaade Gambit, or as it is sometimes called, the McDonnell Gambit. (1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4 3. Nf3 g5 4. Nc3 Bg7 5.d4 g4 6.Bxf4 gxf3) in which white sacrifices a piece for unclear compensation isn’t. The only problem with the Quaade is that it has not been thoroughly tested and it remains for white has to prove he has compensation. 
     There is a good sample of annotated Quaade Gambit games HERE and here’s a sample from Chessbase’s Simon Williams’ DVD, King's Gambit.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Margate 1935

Jacques Mieses
     Laszlo Moholy-Nagy (born Laszlo Weisz; July 20, 1895 – November 24, 1946) was a Hungarian painter and photographer with a strong advocate of the integration of technology and industry into the arts. A New York Times article called him relentlessly experimental because of his pioneering work in painting, drawing, photography, collage, sculpture, film, theater, and writing. Below is a sample of his “art”, dated 1935, titled Chairs at Margate. 

     It’s possible that the participants at Margate could have been entertained by Harry Gold (born Patrick Ricks; 1866-1946) who started a troupe of entertainers in Margate as early as 1903. With many changes of cast, Gold's Entertainers were a fixture at the popular resort right up until the outbreak of war in 1939. Some members of the troupe performed in drag. 

     In the spring of 1935, Margate held the first of five consecutive international tournaments in the spring. Andre Lilienthal had been invited, but he was unable to attend because of illness and so was replaced by Ernst Klein. Klein (1910 – 1990) was an interesting character. 
     He was born in Vienna and emigrated to the UK in the 1930s, had modest successes in a handful of international tournaments at that time and served as Alekhine’s unofficial second in his World Championship match against Euwe in 1935. 
     Harry Golombek once wrote that Klein, “got his recollections of this famous match in a most inglorious muddle. Possibly he did give Alekhine some unofficial help during the last few games of the match, but he never served in any official capacity at any time in the contest.” It turned out that it was Golombek who got his recollections in a most inglorious muddle. Golombek was known to have a carefree writing style and much of what he wrote was riddled with factual mistakes, so that shouldn't be surprising.
     Later, after checking with Euwe, it turned out that after the 26th or the 27th game Landau withdrew as Alekhine’s after a disagreement between the two. In the remaining games Klein helped Alekhine, but he had no official status. 
     Klein’s son described his father as a man who was easily offended and with a short, explosive temper. Edward Winter’s site has a brief biography of Klein by his son HERE
     In what was described as an unpleasant incident Klein got expelled from the playing hall during the 28th game. Alekhine had recently been analyzing with Klein, who was representing several foreign papers as a journalist. The opening was a Vienna Game and Alekhine openly consulted with Klein several times while the game was in progress. After reaching a good middlegame position, Alekhine walked over and shook Klein’s hand. 
     An official pointed out to Klein that talking to a player during the game wasn’t allowed and if he did not stop, he would be removed from the playing area and not allowed access to the other games. Klein stated that he couldn’t prevent Alekhine from talking to him. He was then told to leave the room and to hand in his press-card. Klein replied by slapping the official’s face after which he was forcibly removed by the police. It’s odd that nobody said anything to Alekhine! 

     Although I haven’t been able to uncover the details, it seems that Klein was also involved in an incident at Margate in in 1937 in which most of the foreign players signed and published a letter complaining about Klein’s “unfair and obnoxious behavior.” They also stated they didn’t want him playing in anymore tournaments in which they participated. Apparently Klein filed a lawsuit for libel against Alekhine, Menchik, Prins and others which he withdrew after receiving an apology. (Edward Winter - Post 1602) 
     At Margate in 1935, everybody reckoned that Capablanca would be the winner, but the 23-year old Reshevky went undefeated, won his individual game from Capa, and finished first by a half point in his first big international win. 

1) Reshevsky 7.5 
2) Capablanca 7.0 
3) Thomas 5.0 
4-5) Klein and Sergeant 4.5 
6-7) Reilly and Fairhurst 4.0 
8) Milner-Barry 3.5 
9-10) Menchik and Mieses 2.5 

     The following game isn’t a great masterpiece, but I like it because it shows the ease with which great players can squeeze out a win. Mieses does a good job holding Reshevsky to what looked like was going to be a draw, but then made one tiny little tactical mistake and the game was over. 

     Mostly Mieses is remembered for taking a beating at the hands of stronger players. According Wikipedia, Mieses largely adhered to the Romantic school of play and showed little aptitude for positional chess, but perhaps that should read “showed little preference for positional chess. 
     GM Alex Yermolinsky was talking about David Janowsky when he wrote, “Is anybody out there ignorant enough to say that David Janowsky...lost this game because he didn’t understand simple positional principles?”, but he could have been talking about Meises. 
     It reminds me of the Tal-Botvinnik World Championship matches. Tal, the tactical genius; Botvinnik, the icon of positional play. But, examine the games and you’ll see they hammered away at each other with every tool available. Tal played some positional games and went for endings if he thought it expedient while Botvinnik sometimes headed for tactical situations.