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Saturday, June 29, 2019

Manhattan CC International 1976

     July marks the 43rd anniversary of the Manhattan Chess Club’s holding of the first international tournament in New York since 1951 and it ended in a triple tie for first prize between IM Norman Weinstein, GM Leonid Shankovich (then representing Israel) and GM Anatoly Lein, an expatriate Russian. 
     The tournament was held from July 8-23, 1976 and was an important test for several of the young US players.
     Weinstein missed achieving the GM norm by half a point while 16-year old Michael Rohde of New Jersey, 18-year old Helgi Olafsson of Iceland and Roberto Kaimo of the Philippines, obtained their first IM norms. 
     Two young players, 17-year old Jonathan Tisdall and 18-year old Mark Diesen, missed the IM norm by a half point. For 13-year old Michael Wilder and 12-year old Joel Benjamin it was the first time they had faced such tough opposition.
     The name of Roberto Kaimo is probably unfamiliar to most. He was born in Surigao City, Philippines and was a graduate of F.E.U. in Manila with a Bachelors Degree in Commerce. After graduation he worked for a paint company in the Philippines before moving to the US where he worked for a chemical company in Newark, New Jersey as an Inventory Manager; he retired from in 2006. 
     He passed away at the age of 72 on July 28, 2016 in South Plainfield, New Jersey. Although his obituary listed him as an IM, his FIDE card shows no title and lists his rating as 2280 with no activity since at least the year 2000. 
     The only other mention of him that I found was that in the 1974 Philippine Championship the then 29-year-old Kaimo, who had quit his job in order to play in the event, was among the leaders for much of the tournament, but ended up in 7th place with a score of 11-9. As a result, he was just a half a point short of making the country’s Olympic team. Soon after this tournament he moved to the US. He also enjoyed bowling, singing, dancing, and was known as the life of the party. 
     Norman Weinstein (no relation to Raymond Weinstein) had been a student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and described himself as a “chess bum” who traveled the country playing in tournaments. All that came to a halt when he was the first chess player hired by Banker's Trust in the early 1990s. He was so successful that they kicked off a recruitment program for other strong players. 
     Anatoly Lein (March 28, 1931 – March 1, 2018, 86 years old) was a Soviet-born GM who emigrated to the US in 1975. He arrived in the US at the same time as Leonid Shamkovich as part of the earliest wave of Soviet players. He was enshrined in the US Chess Hall of Fame in 2004. 

     Lein was strongly disliked by more than a few people because he was confrontational and quick-tempered. He once complained that the USCF was illegally taking rating points away from him. 
     He was a big, burly fellow who like to play quiet positional games and endings and was famous for his grim determination to milk small advantages and forcing his opponents to defend hours. 
     At one time he was a chain smoker and I remember seeing him watching a game with his hands clasped behind his back and holding a cigarette while he tap, tap, tapped the lit end with his index finger...quite a trick. 
     Lein settled in Cleveland, Ohio where his wife, Barbara Gottlieb, was an attorney. In 1999 he told a reporter that he would have preferred to live in Alaska because, "It's pretty hot here sometimes." 
     In the following game Weinstein demonstrates how a powerful center can be used to create a K-side attack. 

1-3) Norman Weinstein, Anatoly Lein and Leonid Shamkovich 10.5 
4) Milan Vukic 9.5 
5-7) Michael Rohde, Helgi Olafsson and Roberto Kaimo 9.0 
8-9) Jonathan Tisdall and Mark Diesen 8.0 
10) Julio Kaplan 7.5 
11-12) Bruce Amos and Edmar Mednis 7.0 
13) Milorad Boskovic 5.0 
14) Orest Popovych 4.0 
15) Michael Wilder 3.5 
16) Joel Benjamin 2.0 

Friday, June 28, 2019

The Unbeatable Karpov

     Anatoly Karpov (born May 23, 1951) was the official world champion from 1975 until 1985 when he was defeated by Garry Kasparov.  He is a member of the World Chess Hall of Fame. The Guardian has a lot of articles on Karpov HERE.  
     After becoming FIDE World Champion once again after Kasparov broke away from FIDE in 1993, Karpov held the title until 1999, when he resigned his title in protest against FIDE's new world championship rules. Wikipedia has a pretty good history of all the sordid details of the World Championship mess we suffered through during those years. Does anybody really believe Alex Khalifman, Ruslan Ponomariov and Rustam Kasimdzhanov were really world champions?
     For his decades-long standing among the world's elite, many consider Karpov one of the greatest players in history. His tournament successes include over 160 first-place finishes. He had a peak Elo rating of 2780, and his 102 total months at world number one is the third longest of all time, behind Magnus Carlsen and Garry Kasparov. In his heyday he was considered almost unbeatable. 
     Before the start of the candidates matches in 1974 most experts preferred the chances of both former world champions, Petrosian and Spassky. True, Karpov had tied for first with Leonid Stein in the star-studded 1971 Alekhine Memorial in Moscow, shared second in the USSR Chess Championship and finished equal first with Viktor Korchnoi in the Leningrad Interzonal, but few thought he had a chance in match play against the seasoned veterans. 
     Writing in the August 1974 issue of Chess Life and Review, Paul Keres considered Karpov one of the brightest stars among the rising young players on his way to a match with Bobby Fischer for the world championship. Karpov had developed a style that was rather unusual for a young GM. Most young players prefer sharp, complicated positions, but Karpov was a rare exception...he liked his chess calm and sober, not filled with complications or sharp tactics. For him it was all technique and he seldom lost a game.

     Karpov defeated Lev Polugaevsky by the score of +3 -0 =5 in the first Candidates match, earning the right to face former champion Boris Spassky in the semifinal.  Karpov actually believed Spassky would easily beat him and win the Candidates cycle to face Fischer. He was wrong. 
     Spassky won the first game, but that was it. Karpov won the match by a score of +4 -1 =6 then went on to secure the world title when Fischer wouldn’t play him and leaving the world to forever wonder what the outcome of a Fischer-Karpov match would have been.
     Kasparov put forth the opinion that Karpov would have had good chances against Fischer because Karpov had beaten Spassky so convincingly and was a new breed of tough professional. Additionally, Karpov had been steadily playing a lot of quality games while Fischer had been inactive for three years. Spassky thought that Fischer would have won in 1975 but Karpov would have qualified again and beaten Fischer in 1978. A Chessbase article discusses the issue based on computer models HERE

     Getting back to the Karpov-Spassky match, Spassky seemed rather uncertain of himself and did not demonstrate his usual fighting spirit. He also had trouble handling Karpov’s openings and Spassky himself had some dubious opening experiments. 
     Even so, Paul Keres thought Spassky lost the match because of psychological reasons. It was Keres’ opinion that Spassky was unsure of his opening preparation and had simply lost faith in his own abilities. Here is one of the more interesting games of the match, the third game. 

Karpov   0 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1   7.0
Spassky 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ 0   4.0

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Rzeschewski Visits Cleveland

     On January 27, 1921 Samuel Rzeschewski paid his first visit to Cleveland, Ohio at the invitation of the City Club of Cleveland, one of the most influential organizations in the State and with headquarters at the Hollenden Hotel, a luxury hotel that was demolished in 1989 and replaced by the Bank One Center, now known as Fifth Third Center. 
     Francis T. Hayes, secretary of the City Club of Cleveland, was mostly the one responsible for getting Rzeschewski to town and he arrived in the evening to meet twenty opponents who had to date only heard of the boy’s prowess in the East; now they were going to test him for themselves. They failed. 

     His opponents were Irving Spero (city champion), Henry Lapidas (13-year old champion of the Jewish Orphan Asylum), John D. Fackler (president of the City Club of Cleveland), E.C. Hopwood (editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer), C.A. Mills (one time Pacific Coast champ), S.H. Shapiro (Ohio champion in 1914 and 1915), Elliott Stearns (a former Ohio Champion) and Raymond Clapp, A.M. Chatham, J.J. Hoornstra, Stanley Koch, B.F. Loeffler, Walter Peters, E.D. Pickering, E.N. Moore, I. Laufman, Alfred Tozer, J.E. Weil, James Walton and M.A. Goldsmith. 
     There was an audience seated on rising tiers around the walls of the room and two large demonstration boards, eight feet square, showed the games of Spero and Lapidas. Rzeschewski scored 17 wins, 2 draws and a loss. Mills and Stearns got the draws while the referees awarded Moore the win after the game was stopped so Rzeschewski could catch his midnight train back to New York City. 
     Sammy was back in town on February 3rd, appearing at the Globe Theater where he met 17 opponents. Irving Spero and Aaron Schwartz were referees as Sammy skunked the opposition 17-0. 
     His opponents were: King, Heimlich, S. Dworkovitz, S. Ravinson, Louis Neimark, Biskin, J.L. Lowenberg, Pocus, Dr. B.M. Becker, Dr. H. Tabakin, Frank Zucker, L. Garvin, N. Kochman, B. Eisner, Dr. Laufman, Henry Lapida and S.H. Shapiro. It’s safe to assume that Louis Neimark was related to the obscure girl prodigy Celia Neimark
     Before returning to New York, Rzeschewski was invited to play at the Union Club where on February 5th a team of 10 players made a comparatively good showing by scoring a point and a half against him. 
     His opponents were: Elliott Stearns, A.E. Christian, J.B. Clogh, Henry Corning, Dr. A.C. Mills, A.W. Thompson, C.H. Royon and E.N. Moore; they were all defeated. A.D. Hillyar got a draw and Irving Spero won. 
     Irving Spero (June 15, 1892-August 17, 1955) was born in Poland and was Ohio and Cleveland champion in 1921. Spero eventually moved to California. His name appears in this clipping from the Los Angles Times. Note: Less than a year later columnist Clif Sherwwod committed murder and suicide!

      I also found mention of him in the Southern California Chess League’s Western Chess Chronicle dated 1935:

     It was my intention to publish Spero's win over Rzeschewski, but I was surprised to find no record of it; I am sure it was published somewhere, but none of my sources had it. Spero's loss shows up several places, but it's not worth looking at because blundered away a N on simple oversight at move 19! He played on until move 33, but it was a waste of time. So, instead here is E.N. Moore's win.As far as I know, E.N. Moore's name only shows up in the 1921 Ohio Championship.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Rzeschewski in Philadelphia 1921

Rzeschewski in 1921
     On January 1, 1921 the weather in Philadelphia was clear and for that time of the year a pleasant 48 degrees. As part of a tour that also included Newark, Cleveland, Chicago and Milwaukee, nine-year old Sammy Rzeschewski, in the company of his parents and agent, was in town to face twenty opponents in a simultaneous exhibition. 
     Sidebar: While preparing this post I came across the name of Ralph Talitikoff of Chicago whose picture appeared in the Sunday, December 18, 1921 edition of the Butte (Montana) Miner with the blurb BOY CHESS WIZARD HAS RIVAL; CHICAGO BOY WOULD LIKE TO MEET HIM. The same picture appeared in a few newspapers in 1922 with the blurb that he was a rival of Reshevsky, but I could find no additional information on Ralph Talitikoff...none! Whatever happened to this Boy Wonder? 

     In Philadelphia Rzeschewski scored 16 wins and 4 draws. Some of the games had to be adjudicated because of the lateness of the hour and the boy’s slow play and it seems the referee gave him the benefit of the doubt in a couple of the games. 
     Rzeschewski showed up on the stage at 8:30pm. One observer wrote that physically he appeared to be about seven, but his face looked like he was 10 or 11 years old. Andy Soltis claimed in Chess Life that Reshevsky told a number of people that he was actually born in 1909. In an interview with Hanon Russell the year before his death Reshevsky stated that the 1911 date was accurate. But then Reshevsky was known to be less than truthful on a number of occasions. Some have claimed his parents lied about his age in order to make his chess exploits even more of a sensation. 
      Neatly dressed, graceful and with pleasing manners and without any show of conceit or self-consciousness, for the first few rounds of the boards he moved rapidly while softly whistling to himself. 
     By 9 o’clock he had slowed down and for the next two hours he had only made it around the boards twelve times. Mostly that was attributable to his habit of after making his move, he would stand there in the hopes that his opponent would make a quick reply even though they were not required to do so. If his opponent wouldn’t move, little Sammy would say under his breath, “Move!” 
     If his opponent complied, he would sometimes reply instantly and at other time he would study the position for 15 seconds to a minute and a half. Then he’d move and still stand there hoping his opponent would rush their next move. His tactic worked because sometimes 4 or 5 move would be made before he moved on to the next board. There’s no doubt that some of his wins were obtained thanks to this little trick of forcing his opponents to rush their moves.
     As he made the rounds Rzeschewski showed little signs of either worry or fatigue and he seemed to be playing most of his moves by intuition although there were times when it was clear that he was actually analyzing.
     One master observer believed Rzeschewski’s manager was being honest when he said the boy had not studied any chess books because his openings were not theoretically recognized lines and his knowledge of them was probably refined by the games he had played over the previous two to three years. For example, it was noted that against the French Defense he played the Advance Variation (3.e5) without hesitation. It was also noted that in his game against Sydney Sharp (given below) he was not familiar with the Falkbeer Counter Gambit and took considerable time in the opening...a behavior that was observed in many of his simultaneous games. Observers had no way of knowing it but that was to become a Reshevsky trait throughout his entire career! 
     For reasons that are not clear, before the simul an announcement was made that Rzeschewski was not a Pole, but a Jew. Nobody had questioned his Jewishness and it was believed that both he and his parents were born in Poland and so it was not clear to those in attendance why such an announcement was made. 
     His performance came as quite a surprise to the Philadelphia players when 16 of their best players went down to the nine year old boy. The remaining four games were drawn. 
     They were also impressed with his speed of play and the confident way he banged the pieces down on the board. There was something about it that was impressive. A writer for the Philadelphia Ledger said, “You have to see Sammy in action to realize the strength of his chess ability.” 
     The writer, a Mr. Mitchell, spoke to Rzeschewski before the start of the match and observed, “...the child impressed us as being about thirty years in advance of his actual age...I have never seen a child quite so serious in all my experience.” 
     When playing it was said he had all the mannerisms and gestures of a finished performer like Capablanca or Marshall. In fact, the writer went so far as to comment, “Sammy is a little old man, at least when playing chess."
     In the following game Sydney Sharp praised Sammy’s conduct of the game. It was claimed, with considerable embellishment, that time after time the boy had an opportunity to make a fatal mistake, but only “the genius of a master chess mind could have evaded the traps set by the Philadelphia chess champion.” 
     Sydney T. Sharp (June 17, 1885 – September 28, 1953) won the Pennsylvania championship 10 times, was a former president of the Mercantile Library Chess Association, former vice president of the Eastern Chess Federation and an officer of the Franklin Chess Club. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The Year Was 1932

     The year 1932 had some interesting events. The Great Depression was going on and in the US unemployment reached one in four with many living in cars and shanty towns. 
     It was a rough time for chess players. Some of the younger players made a precarious living by hustling games. Al Horowitz had been a trader on Wall Street, but by 1932 he couldn’t make a living so he abandoned Wall Street and returned to chess on the theory that he could win a quarter a game and it would buy a meal. 
     At one time Horowitz and Arnold Denker shared a room in a hotel managed by a fellow member of the Manhattan Chess Club who let them stay without paying rent. During the day, they would hustle games and whoever came home with a few quarters would buy dinner. The following year Horowitz started his greatest legacy, Chess Review magazine. 
     Arthur Dake had arrived in New York City from Portland, Oregon in 1929 with nothing more than his sailor’s seabag and was living at the Seaman’s Institute.  He teamed up with world class checker player Kenneth Grover and they were hustling on Coney Island, but within a month the stock market crashed and the customers dried up. Horowitz gave Dake a few of his students and mostly Dake was living on water, coffee and grapes.  Dake and Grover partnered in running a poker game in Manhattan, but it turned out to be too risky...they got robbed one night. 
     Dake stayed in chess until mid-1937 when his daughter was born and he returned to Portland where he ended up retiring from Oregon’s Department of Motor Vehicles. He returned to chess in 1973 when he showed up at Lone Pine.
     1932 was also the year Norman T. Whitaker and former FBI agent Gaston Means gained notoriety during the kidnapping of Charles Lindbergh’s baby when they conspired to swindle $104,000 from a wealthy heiress, Mrs. Evalyn McLean, by claiming to be in contact with the kidnappers. They got caught and Whitaker claimed he never got any of the money, but he did get 18 months in prison. 
     Reuben Fine won the 15th Marshall Chess Club championship, ahead of Fred Reinfeld, Milton Hanuer, and Tony Santasiere and on March 22, 1932, Larry Evans was born in Manhattan. He won the US championship 5 times. He died at the age of 78 on November 15, 2010. 
     Fleischer Studios released Chess-Nuts starring Betty Boop. 

      There was an international tournament in Pasadena, California in August of 1932. Alekhine won ahead of Isaac Kashdan. Dake, Samuel Reshevsky and Herman Steiner tied for 3rd-5th. There were 12 players. 
     In Austria there was a magazine, The Kleine Blatt (The Little Leaf), that was a very successful daily and later weekly. It first appeared in 1927 with the purpose of disseminating the political ideas of Austrian Social Democracy and was aimed at the reading needs of less educated people. After the brief Austrian Civil War in 1934 it was transformed and in 1944 it was discontinued and replaced. Beginning in 1947, the Little Leaf appeared again, but only as a weekly newspaper and finally folded in 1971. 
     The following chess problem, author unknown, appeared in the October 9, 1932. White to move and mate in three. It had me stumped! There are four mates in 4 moves. 
     It was called the Swastika Problem because the outline of the pieces form a Swastika. 

White to mate in 3 moves

HIGHLIGHT for the solution: 

1. dxc6! ..
Black’s last move was ...c5 (Surprise!) The four moves leading to mate in 4 are: 
1. Rg4 Kxd7 2. Rg8 e6 3. Rxe6 dxc3 4. Rd8# 
1. f6 e6 2. f7 Kxd7 3. f8=Q dxc3 4. dxe6# 
1. Rfe4 e6 2. Rxe6+ Kxd7 3. Re8 dxc3 4. Rd8# 
1. Rh4 Kxd7 3. Rh8 e6 4. Rxe6 dxc3 5. Rd8# 

1... e6 2. Rxe6+ Kd5 3. Rxd4#

Monday, June 24, 2019

Rubinstein's Visit to the United States

     For a little over three months beginning in the Spring of 1928, Akiba Rubinstein and his wife visited the United States where he gave simuls and played several exhibition games. 
     An international tournament had originally been planned, but when that did not work out a match against Marshall was suggested, but that did not come to pass either. 
     Upon his arrival in the US, his first game was a consultation game at the Manhattan Chess Club against L.B. Meyer, I.A. Horowitz and Isaac Kahdan. In a rather curious Ruy Lopez a draw was agreed after 33 moves in a position where no pieces or Pawns had been exchanged. 
     From there Rubinstein visited Chicago, Illinois and Cincinnati, Ohio where he gave numerous exhibitions before returning to New York City in May. Starting on April 28 and continuing through May 6, a series of single match games was arranged at the Manhattan in which Rubinstein met George J. Beihoff, Harold Phillips, Oscar Tenner, Isaac Kashdan, Herman Steiner and Abe Kupchik. 
     Club Champion Abe Kupchik succeeded in giving Rubinstein a hard time. After 33 moves Rubinstein complicated matters by offering the sacrifice of a N which Kupchik refused to take. Rubinstein had a slight advantage, but couldn’t take advantage of it and a draw was agreed in 67 moves. 
     Kashdan also drew his game when Rubinstein refused to accept the win after Kashdan forgot to punch his clock at move 45 and exceeded the time limit. The game proceeded and was drawn in 64 moves. 
     After the series of exhibition games at the Manhattan, Rubinstein and his wife sailed on the White Star Line for home in Antwerp. Prior to their departure Rubinstein announced his decision to take part at a tournament at the famous Bavarian health resort Bad Kissengen that was to be held in August of 1928. There he finished third behind Bogoljubow and Capablanca. 
     In 1929, he played in the Scheveningen type team tournament at Ramsgate, finished 4eh at Carlsbad behind Nimzovich, Capablanca and Spielmann and finished 2nd behind Capablanca at Budapest. 
     In an unheralded and forgotten tournament in Rogaska-Slatina in eastern Slovenia he finished first ahead of Salo Flohr. The year 1930 started well for Rubinstein when he finished 3rd at the great San Remo tournament behind Alekhine and Nimzovich. 
     Then his results started to slip and in December of 1931 he played in his last major tournament at Rotterdam (a four player, double round event) where he finished last behind Landau, Colle and Tartakower. 
     By 1932 he had withdrawn from tournament play and spent the last years of his life suffering from mental illness, living at various times at home with his family and in a sanatorium. 
     Rubinstein's well known mental problems started to manifest themselves early. After the San Sebastian tournament in 1911 where Rubinstein and Vidmar tied for second behind Alekhine, Hans Kmoch ran into Rubinstein on a train and Rubinstein informed him that he was not on his way home to Lodz, but to Munich. There he was going to see a professor about a fly that kept landing on his head and disturbing him when he was playing. 
     Later, it wasn't just the fly, it was knocking on the walls and on his door so that he couldn't sleep. At one point he believed the culprit was Richard Reti and broke into Reti's room and tried to choke him. 
     A germaphobe, he believed people who shook hands with him were trying to infect him with germs and so carefully washed his hands afterwards. 
     There have been a number of successful people who are germaohobes. Howard Hughes spent most of his life trying to avoid germs. Nikola Tesla was fastidiously clean to the point of (allegedly) using seventeen clean towels a day, and claiming to have a violent aversion against the earrings of women. Radio personality Howard Stern and TV personality Howie Mandel are germaphobes. Mandel stated that in his mind his hand is like a petri dish. And, it’s well known that President Trump, a germaphobe, doesn't like shaking hands. 
     However, although he was not able to function in society, Rubinstein was far from being a vegetable. His son Samy, a strong player himself, stated that his father did receive visitors, read the papers and kept up with chess and occasionally they even practiced together. 
     Rubinstein left behind no literacy legacy, but I did discover that in September 1923, the Lasker chess club in Jersualem published Chess: A Monthly for Chess Enthusiasts in Palestine and Abroad. The first issue stated that great Jewish masters abroad had promised their regular contribution, but things didn’t work out. Only three (the first being a double issue) sporadic issues appeared. 
     One of the masters who promised to contribute was Rubinstein and the June 1924 issue published About the Opening. It wasn’t much of an article, only one page and very basic. There was not a single opening or variation given. Rubinstein advised control the center, emphasized development over material and advice such as we must not hesitate to sacrifice if only we can interfere with the opponent’s regular development. Even the magazine commented that the article was so basic that only beginners would find it very useful. See Jewish Chess History...Mr. Pilpels's site is a treasure trove of information on Jewish players.
     In the following game Rubinstein defeats George Beihoff (April 22, 1879 – October 18, 1937) who took 3rd place in the 1910 Manhattan Chess Club championship behind Marshall and Johner and was New York State champion in 1913. Beihoff also took part in a number of the Rice Chess Club tournaments in New York City. 

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Cukierman Crushes Tartakower

     The Great Depression affected France in 1931, a bit later than other countries so when the following game was played in the 1930 Paris City Championship, which won by Josef Cukierman ahead of Tartakower, things were still fairly normal. 
     The year before Cukierman had only tied for 5-6th in Paris (Tartakower won) and the following year he finished first again. In 1933, he took 6th (Alekhine won) and in 1939, he tied for 5-6th in Paris (Rossolimo won). 
     Who was the almost unknown Josef Cukierman? GM Greg Serper commented that he had come across a number of beautiful combinations played Cukierman, but at the same time found some really bad games and as a result he was somewhat puzzled. 
     Josef Cukierman was born March 28, 1899 in the small village of Grodek which is in Eastern Poland near the Belarus border. Not much is known of him, but he did the Second Moscow City Championship in 1920/21 and in the early 1920s, he lived in BiaƂystok, Poland which is a large city near where and he won the club championship in 1926. 
     Cukierman was strong enough to draw Capablanca and he had wins over Tartakower and Vera Menchik to his credit. The May 30, 1935 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle had an article that stated Poland was preparing for the Olympiad and that Poland was leaving “no stone unturned to have a winning team.” The article stated that Tartakower had recently left Paris to return to Poland where he was supervising the training of candidates. There was a “test tournament” at Lodz to which Cukierman, another resident of Paris had been invited. What was interesting about the article was that Cukierman was referred to as “Dr. Cukierman.” 
     Poland did manage to field a strong team for the 1935 Olympiad in Warsaw, but Cukierman wasn't on it.  The team consisted of Tartakower, Frydman, Najdorf, Friedman and Makarczyk. 
     According to Alekhine, Cukierman committed suicide in 1941 by jumping from a balcony “for no apparent reason, since he enjoyed excellent health and fortune.”  The Polish team finished in 3rd place behind the United States (Fine, Marshall, Kupchik, Dake and Horowitz) and Sweden.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Just A Master Game

     I have posted on the 1950 US Open and one of the players in this game, the colorful Albert Pinkus, before. 
     The other player, John Ragan (October 29, 1930 – December 12, 1991) of St. Louis, Missouri, was a Master who won the Missouri State Championship a record 12 times: 1948, 1953, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1961, 1970, 1972, 1974, 1975 and 1977. 
     On the 1950 USCF rating list Pinkus was listed as a Master with a rating of 2422 which put him number 11 on the list and Ragan was an Expert at 2195.
     The rating classification in those early days were a little different than they are today:
Grandmaster 2700+ 
Senior Master 2500-2699 
Master 2300+2499 
Expert 2100-2299 
Class A 1900-2099 
Class B 1700-1899 
Class C 1500-1699 
Class D Below 1500 

     There were only two GMs, Reuben Fine (2817) and Samuel Reshevsky (2734) and two SMs, Arthur Dake (2598) and I.A. Horowitz (2558). 
     The Master list was made up of 29 players and included Isaac Kashdan, Larry Evans, Herbert Seidman, Max Pavey, George Shainswit, Arnold Denker, Albert Pinkus, Arthur Bisguier, George Kramer, Donald Byrne, Weaver Adams, Herman Steiner and Robert Byrne. Most of the remaining players were lesser known with the exception of Edward Lasker who was rated 2336. 

     Among the Experts were many names who would later be prominent Masters at the State level. 
     Larry Evans ran an ad in Chess Life advertising a couple of his books. James R. Schroeder was later given permission to sell a typed version of the book. According to Schroeder, Evans recognized that Bronstein was a great player and Bronstein later was the best player in the world for many years. He said Evans was not yet a master (he was) and added the analysis is enthusiastic but not always correct and that he was an atrocious writer. Schroeder was selling the booklet for $20. 

Americans’ Lack Of A Proper Education 
     Appearing in the June 5th, 1951 edition of Chess Life was an editorial by Montgomery Major about whom I have previously posted. Major was replying to a supposedly anonymous letter that was critical of a previous Major editorial comment. 
     In criticizing his critic Major asked the question, “...does it indicate the failure of our educational system in not teaching modern youth how to think?” He went on to add that “so many Americans have been misdirected by the lack of proper education. They believe the preposterous because they have never been taught how to distinguish between the false and the true syllogism, and they become ready prey to the attractive glitter of pseudo-ideas that would not withstand the test of logical analysis.” Of his critic, Major wrote, “Those who failed to train him in how to think clearly and logically are the veritable culprits!” 

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

A Valiant Effort By Bouaziz

     Slim Bouaziz (born on April 16, 1950 in Tunis) was awarded the GM title in 1993 and since 2005 has been a chess coach. Between 1967 and 1987, he participated in five interzonal tournaments with his best result being in 1982 in Las Palmas where he finished in twelfth place. 
     From the mid-1960s Bouaziz represented Tunisia at the Olympiads between 1966 and 2006 and in 1989 he was among the members of the team representing Africa at the team world championship in Lucerne. He achieved his highest rating of 2515 in 1993 and became the first African player to be awarded the GM title. 

     Older readers will remember the fiasco surrounding the world championship from 1993 to 2005. If not you can read the Wikipedia article HERE. In 1999 the FIDE World Championship was held in Las Vegas between July 31 and August 28 in a series of short knockout matches. 
     The reigning champion was Anatoly Karpov who had no special privileges other than than he (like a number of leading players) was seeded into the second round. In protest at this, Karpov refused to play. Kasparov and Anand also refused to play because they were negotiating a rematch; they also criticized the format. 
     In the final Vladimir Akopian and Alexander Khalifman faced off in a short 6 game match. With a draw in the 6th game, Khalifman was crowned FIDE World Chess Champion. Khalifman was ranked 44th in the world at the time. Bouaziz participated in the event and was knocked out in the first round by Vasilios Kotronias by a score of 1.5 – 0.5.  
     Bouaziz, then an IM, played in the 1985 Interzonal in Tunis, but had to withdraw due to illness after six games and so his results were canceled. 
     He had a single draw (against Morovic) and had lost to Beliavsky, Hort, De Firmian, Suba and Hmadi. As you can see from the crosstable, the canceled games could have had an impact on the standings.

1) Yusupov 11.5 
2) Beliavsky 11.0 
3) Portisch 10.0 
4-5) Gavrikov and Chernin 9.5 
6) Hort, Sosonko and Dlugy 9.0 
7) De Firmian 8.5 
10-12) Nikolic, Suba and Miles 8.0 
13) Morovic 7.5 
14-15) Zapata and Ermenkov 6.5 4 
16) Afifi 3.5 
17) Hmadi 1.0 

     Had Hort and De Firmian wins against Bouaziz counted they both may have had a shot at qualifying by finishing in the top four places. As it was, Chernin defeated Gavrikov 3.5-2.5. 
     In the following game De Firmian scored a nice a fourth-round victory over Bouaziz in the 6.Bc4 variation of the Sicilian that was a favorite of Bobby Fischer. 
di Firmian

     Nick de Firmian (born July 26, 1957 in Fresno, California), is GM and three-time US champion, winning in 1987 (with Joel Benjamin), 1995, and 1998. He also tied for first in 2002, but Larry Christiansen won the playoff. 
     He is also a chess writer, most famous for his work in writing the 13th, 14th, and 15th editions of Modern Chess Openings. In 2006 he revised and expanded Capablanca’s classic Chess Fundamentals which was harshly criticized by chess historian Edward Winter, who claimed that de Firmian destroyed the book by changing Capablanca's writing and removing games from previous editions to include new games not played by Capablanca. 
     De Firmian earned the IM title in 1979 and the GM title in 1985 and has represented the United States at several Interzonals and played on the US Olympiad teams of 1980, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1996, 1998, and 2000. Beginning in the 1990s, he lived in Denmark for several years. 
     He currently resides in California. His current USCF rating is 2575, down from a high of 2705 in 1994. His last rated event was a weekend Swiss in California in 2017. 

Monday, June 17, 2019

Lasker Defeats Tarrasch With Psychology

     In game 2 of their 1908 World Championship match the wily Lasker used a psychological ploy that will be discussed in the game notes to defeat the dogmatic Tarrasch.
     1908… it was an interesting year. If you lived in New York City the Sullivan Ordinance was passed making it illegal for people who controlled public places to allow women to smoke in them. It was vetoed by Mayor George B. McClellan Jr. Also, it was in New York City that the first around-the-world car race began.
     If you lived in Ohio the big news was the Collinwood (Cleveland) school fire which erupted on March 4, 1908, killing 172 students, two teachers and one rescuer in one of the deadliest school fires in United States history. 
     The old school was a fire trap. Its masonry exterior acted as a chimney, sucking flame upward as the wooden interior burned and open stairways enhanced the chimney effect. The school only had two exits and fire blocked the front door. Children rushed to the rear door, but, in a vestibule narrowed by partitions, they stumbled and climbed on top of one another forming a pile that completely blocked the exit. 
     Mothers Day was celebrated for the first time in May. In a particularly ugly incident, Springfield, Illinois experienced a race riot. In September at Fort Myer, Virginia, Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge made history by becoming the first person to die in an airplane crash and the pilot, Orville Wright, was severely injured. Ten days later Henry Ford produced his first Model T. In November, Republican William Howard Taft defeated Democrat William Jennings Bryan for President of the US. 
     In chess, March 1908 saw the US team defeat the British team in a cable match 6.5-3.5. The US players didn’t lose a game, but the match was won on boards 7, 8 and 9 which produced the only decisive results. Anglo-American cable matches
     At Prague, Oldrich Duras and Carl Schlechter tied for first, edging out Dr. Milan Vidmar by a half point. And in Vienna the same two players tied with Geza Maroczy for first. It was at Vienna that Richard Reti made his international debut...he finished in last (20th) place with no wins, 16 losses and three draws!
     The big news was Lasker was playing his second match for the World Champiohship; this time his opponent was Dr. Siegbert Tarrasch. Their match might have taken place earlier than 1908 but for technical difficulties, not the least of which was their personal animosity towards each other. 
     Many felt Tarrasch was every bit Lasker’s equal even if he was six years older. Tarrasch’s tournament record was superior to Lasker’s. When the match was played Tarrasch had won seven big tournaments: Breslau 1889, Manchester 1890, Dresden 1892, Leipzig 1894, Vienna 1898, Monte Carlo 1903 and Ostend 1907. 
     The match result must have been a bitter disappointment for Tarrasch and his supporters. Tarrasch sometimes put quality above results when he opted for scientific accuracy rather than brilliancy. 
     Like almost all players of his era he was influenced by Steinitz and he attempted to improve on Steinitz’ ideas, especially the importance of rapidly developing pieces. Tarrasch was a model of logic, but he had a weakness when the game left the well beaten paths he was familiar with. A weakness opponents like Lasker, Alekhine and Nimzovich were quick to take advantage of. 
     Tarrasch was a brilliant writer and his teachings on the middlegame are well known. Less well known are his insights on Rook and Pawn endings. In fact, much of the improvement in the level of play in his day was a direct result of his teaching. 
     Tarrasch also contributed greatly to opening theory, but that was also one of his weaknesses. He was often too stubborn to change his mind once he had made a decision on the value of a variation even if practice proved it inferior. He especially failed to grasp the ideas behind the new opening theory being put forth by Nimzovich, Tartakower and Reti. 
     Personality-wise, he had a reputation for a tendency to be easily angered and was known for his strong likes and dislikes, among the latter, Lasker. Even so, he always expressed appreciation for Lasker’s play, it not the man. Later on life he mellowed a bit and was in great demand as a tournament director. 
     The match was split between Dusseldorf and Munich and the first to win eight games was the victor. In the early part of the match it seemed like Tarrasch might actually have a chance, but he seemed demoralized after the fifth game when his carefully prepared defense to the Ruy Lopez failed to bring success. Tarrasch put up stiff resistance in the remaining games, but Lasker always prevailed. All in all, the games were of a very high quality and a good example of “classic” chess. Lasker won +8 -3 =5. .