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Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Zandvoort 1936

Paul Keres
     In the summer of 1936, sandwiched between the tournaments at Moscow and Nottingham, an international tournament was organized in Zandvoort, The Netherlands from July 18th to August 1st. 
     Although World Champion Max Euwe was playing, the star turned out to be the 21 year old Reuben Fine who won the tournament undefeated. This win would be the first of many successes for Fine. 
     Fine was younger than his main rival Reshevsky and was considered by some to be even more promising. He had already chalked up a some good results: 2nd at Lodz 1935 behind Tartakower, a plus score on board one at the 1935 Warsaw Olympiad and first ahead of Flohr at Hastings 1935-36. 
     Tartakower had this to say about Fine: “Lately it has become clear that the best tournament players have been Reshevsky and Fine, both avoiding refined opening theory and exhibiting the triumph of common sense over flashes of ‘creativity’. The main subject of discussion in Zandvoort was determining the style of Fine, whose wins are somehow unnoticeable, while he saved his other games with numerous daring salto mortales. The experts were finally able to conclude that Fine's style is based on the lack of one.” 
     At the age of 19, Keres got a chance to prove himself in Zandvoort where he filled in for Botvinnik who had turned down his invitation. Three losses (Euwe, Fine and Maroczy) relegated him to third place. 
     The tournament was held at the Grand Hotel in the seaside resort town of Zandvoort and was the first important international tournament in Holland since 1928 when the amateur world championship was held in The Hague. 
     Euwe was rushed to the tournament by car after his last exam and was hoping to use this tournament to get in shape for the upcoming Nottingham tournament which was to start a few weeks later. Euwe wanted to play like a true world champion at Nottingham and so Zandvoort was important for him. 
     At the same time, Euwe didn’t want his supporters to gets their hopes up and told them. “I am a better match player than a tournament player. I am not pessimistic but not optimistic either. I believe it’s better to warn people whose expectations of me are too high.” 
     The tournament was opened by the mayor of Zandvoort and the press began asking questions about how Euwe had managed to defeat Alekhine and Bogoljubow stated that it was because of Euwe’s youth and greater tactical (!) talent. That was an odd statement because when it came to tactics, with a few exceptions, Euwe never surpassed Alekhine. 
     Fine assumed the lead early on and was never really challenged and was the only player to go through the schedule undefeated, though he had a close call in his game with Euwe
     When they met in round 5 Fine got into a horrible position, but Euwe slipped up and only drew. That left Fine a half point ahead which he increased to a full point in round 6 when Euwe made an horrific blunder against Bogoljubow and lost. After that Fine sailed to an undefeated first a full point ahead of Euwe. 
     Asked to explain his blunders against Fine and Bogoljubow, Euwe said, “Tiredness, nothing else.” He went on to state that people expected too much of him. Exams had just finished and he had no chance to prepare and he had no chance to recover from his “extraordinarily tiring time at school.” He also believed that though the tournament helped get back into his stride, it would have been wiser for him not to participate at Zandvoort, but that would have been too much of a disappointment to the organizers. 
     Some have considered that Max Euwe won the world championship by accident and that he was the weakest of all the world champions, but that is unfair. While Euwe may not have dominated his contemporaries, they didn't demonstrate any clear superiority over him, either. He had excellent results prior to defeating Alekhine in 1935 and when he lost the title in 1937 the match was actually quite close until very near the end. 
     The tournament featured some exciting and instructive games and many are worth looking at. One game, Keres vs. Euwe, featured a struggle around the advanced white P on e5 and Euwe’s attack on Keres’ King is well known and was included by Fine in his book The World’s Great Chess Games. Hans Kmoch also used it as an example of levers in Pawn Power In Chess. 
     Kere’s opponent in this game was Lodewijk Prins (January 27, 1913 – November 11, 1999). Prins was awarded the IM title in 1950, International Arbiter in 1960 and was awarded the Emeritus GM title in 1982. He was Dutch champion in 1965. Prins was an arbiter and an endgames judge and in his later years he had a problems column, organizing yearly composing competitions. He also was a well respected writer and coauthored several chess books with Euwe. 


Monday, July 29, 2019

Charles Vezin of Philadelphia

     A while back I downloaded Google’s digital copy of a Chess In Philadelphia by Reichhelm and Shipley, a brief history of, as the title suggests, chess in Philadelphia illustrated by charts, tables games and problems. It covers the period from 1802 to 1898. 
    The earliest highlights were the first chess book, Chess Made Easy by James Humphreys, was published in 1802 by a Philadelphia bookseller and the arrival of Charles Vezin in 1813.  
     Charles Vezin (1781-April 8, 1853) was born in Osnabruck, Germany. In 1802 at the age of 21 he moved to Bordeaux, France where he served as a clerk for ten years. Fugal living enabled him to save up 1,500 francs and set sail for America in 1812, the first year of the War of 1812, a conflict fought between the United States and the United Kingdom from June 1812 to February 1815. It was fought over British violations of U.S. maritime rights.  
     Johnny Horton (April 30, 1925 – November 5, 1960) was an American country music, honky tonk and rockabilly singer and musician during the 1950s and early 1960s.  He was best known for his international hits beginning with the 1959 single "The Battle of New Orleans", which was awarded the 1960 Grammy Award for Best Country and Western Recording. The song was awarded the Grammy Hall of Fame Award and in 2001 ranked No. 333 of the Recording Industry Association of America's "Songs of the Century". His first No. 1 country song was in 1959, "When It's Springtime in Alaska (It's Forty Below)". 
     With apologies to British readers, here's Horton's song about the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812:


     Vezin was sailing on a U.S. vessel that was captured by the British and as a result he spent 3 weeks in an English dungeon. He was then exchanged and finally landed in Baltimore flat broke. 
     He moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania hoping to make a new startand gradually accumulated enough money to enable him to begin a business which he operated until his death importing German, Belgian and French goods. 
     In Philadelphia there were many players of his equal. When Maelzel's Automaton arrived in town in 1827, Vezin practiced by playing against its operator, Wilhelm Schlumberger, with the result that his game improved a great deal. 
     William Schlumberger (1800 – April 1838) was a European master known to have taught Saint-Amant to play chess and to have served as one of the operators of The Turk, a chess-playing machine which was purported to be an automaton. Schlumberger acted as the Turk's director in Europe and in the United States until his death from yellow fever in 1838. 
     The book of the first American chess congress described Schlumberger as a rapid Chess-player, but not particularly strong in the endgame. It also adds some details about his opening repertoire: When the Automaton adhered to its claim of the first move, the game was made a gambit; when the adversary had the move, Schlumberger invariably resorted to Mouret's favorite defence of King's Pawn one—a Boeotian defence, thoroughly understood at the Cafe de la Regence—so often played afterwards by La Bourdonnais, so thoroughly detested by McDonnell In playing end-games, Schlumberger did not come off quite so well: he was sometimes beaten, although very seldom. 
     Very few and rare games of Schlumberger games survived. 
     Vezin possessed great native talent and was equally proficient in all phases of the game. Conservative and cautious, he could when the occasion required play brilliant tactical chess. He died in his home in Philadelphia on April 8, 1853.
     His opponent in the following game, which feature the Classic Bishop Sacrifice, was James Thompson (September 23, 1804 in London - December 2, 1870 in New York) was a master known for forming the New York Chess Club in 1839. He participated in the First American Chess Congress at New York 1857, and lost a match to Paul Morphy (0-3) in the first round. He also lost several other matches to Morphy. He drew a match with Charles D. Mead in 1857, and played several times in New York Chess Club tournaments, losing to Frederic Perrin in 1854, 1857, and 1859, and James A. Leonard in 1860/61. 

     Chessmetrics does not have an estimated rating for Vezin, but Thomson’s is estimated to be in the mid-2500s around 1860. 
     Italian player Gioachino Greco, discovered the Bishop sacrifice on h7 about 400 years ago and so it’s surprising that a player of Thompson’s apparent strength didn’t recognize it as a possibility when he played the horrible 12...Nh8. 
     The Classic Bishop Sacrifice is thoroughly discussed by Jeremy Silman at Chess.com in a three part series: PART 1 PART 2 PART 3 

Friday, July 26, 2019

175 Chess Brilliancies

     That’s the title of an old book that recently came into my possession. It was published in 1947 by Sir Isaac Pitman and Sons and the author was P. Wenman.
     My first question was who was P. Wenman? Francis Percival Wenman (May 6, 1891 – March 19, 1972), aka Percy Wenman or P. Wenman, arrived in Scotland from London in 1911 and was associated with the Glasgow Chess Club, the Edinburgh and Dundee Clubs, winning the championship of the latter in 1916.
     He played in several Scottish championships: 1912 (triple tie for first, lost the playoff), 1914, 1915 (triple tie for first, lost the playoff). He won the championship in 1920 after winning a play-off match.  In 1921 and 1922 he finished second. 
     Wenman was not a highly regarded author, but he authored or edited some 21 chess books including a number of them on chess problems. A problem composer himself, he was accused of plagiarism in his problem books. 
     175 Chess Brilliancies was published in 1947, but it had been completed several years earlier. It contains 95 complete games and 80 endings (or composed positions). 
     Wenman wrote in the introduction that the book had examples of most of the leading players of the world, but it was unlikely that the average player would have seen most of them. He added, “Many very brilliant games and endings from both ancient and modern records are presented to the reader, and it is hoped they will satisfy the desire of even the most ardent admirer of gambits and enterprising play.” 
     One of the more interesting games I came across also turned out to be controversial. Wenman didn’t give a date or event and lists the players as Michelet vs. Kieseritzky. I discovered the game in the database on chessgames.com where the date is listed as 1845, but no event is given. 
     In 1846, Kieseritzky published “Fifty games played at the Chess Club and at the Cafe de la Regence” and the below game appears in the book, but the last digit of the year is missing. Further complicating the issue is the fact that it is sandwiched between a game played in 1846 and 1845. Then there’s a post in Chessgames,com that says the game was published in 1843. 
     Kieseritzky gives his opponent’s name as “MM Michelex."  I am not sure why the abbreviation “MM”. My understanding is that "Monsieur" (written M. for short) is for a man and the plural is Messieurs (MM. for short). 
     The way the game actually ended is also unclear. Wenman shows the game ending with black's resignation after 31.Kf6 and comments, “A singular termination to a splendid game.” 
     Tim Krabbe says the game ended with black resigning on move 36 while Kieseritzky himself shows black getting mated on move 39. One would assume that he should know, but players have been known to alter games.
     My guess is that this game, which is not especially well played, but entertaining, was played to the oooh’s and aaah’s of a crowd in a noisy, smoke filled club or the Cafe de la Regence. 

Thursday, July 25, 2019

King's Gambit, Allgaier Gambit

     Johann Baptist Allgaier (June 19, 1763 - January 3, 1823) was a German-Austrian master and theoretician and author of the first chess handbook in German, Neue theoretisch-praktische Anweisung zum Schachspiel published in Vienna in 1795. It was regarded in some parts of Europe as the best text book of the time and was reprinted several times, even after his death; the seventh and final edition was in 1843. 
     Relatively few details of his life are known. Only a few years after his death almost all information concerning his life, including dates of birth and death, were lost. Daniel Fiske traveled to Vienna between 1862 and 1863 and searched the archives of the city for some details about him, but in vain. 
     In 1870 Anton Baron Reissner (a founder of the Wiener Schachgesellschaft and collaborator of the Neue Berliner Schachzeitung) managed to discover some details of Allgaier’s life. Later it was discovered that some information was in memories of Karl Heinrich von Ritters Lang. 
     Allgaier was born in the Duchy of Wurttemberg, his mother tongue was the Swabian dialect. His father was employed at a monastery as a Hofmeister, the person, who, in those days, was in charge of the education of the children of the rich and noble families. Allgaier received a Catholic education and was directed by his father towards the study of theology. 
     Following a trip to Poland he learned chess from a Polish Jew and the game became his main interest at the expense of the study of theology. In 1798, he moved to Vienna and joined the army. 
     Towards the end of 1780, he won a match from which he earned 1500 florins and the reputation of Vienna’s best player. This allowed Allgaier access to the aristocratic circles of the capital where he gave chess lessons. He also became the teacher of the sons and brothers of the Emperor Francis II. 
     Since Allgaier was in the army, he participated in the Napoleonic wars between Austria and France. In 1809, he was employed in a field hospital, where he became ill with chronic asthma. Because of his asthma he was moved to Prague where he became an accountant at the military hospital. He returned to Vienna in 1816 where the Emperor gave him, for health reasons, a modest pension. 
     Always short of money, in order to make some additional, he played chess in the Cafes of Vienna. It was reported that Allgaier's style was brilliant and mainly focused on attacking and when he played, a crowd of spectators gathered.
     Allgaier would accept the challenge of anyone and weaker players also received a short lesson. He also played hidden in the Turk, the chess Automaton in 1809. A game played that year by the Turk against Napoleon is attributed to Allgaier. 
     At the end of December 1822, he was admitted to the military hospital in Vienna and died a few days later of dropsy, an old term for the swelling of soft tissues due to the accumulation of excess water and known today as congestive heart failure. 
     Allgaier was familiar with the writing of Philidor, del Rio, Lolli and Ponziani, but mostly the former; he was later called the German Philidor. He had a particular preference for the K-side P-majority which he believed to be a decisive advantage since it can advance, as Philidor had taught, against the enemy’s castled King. Unlike Philidor, however, he did not think that after 1.e4 e5 the move 2.Nf3 was a mistake. Philidor believed that 2.Nf3 was wrong because it prevents the f2-pawn from advancing and supporting, if needed, the e5-pawn. The pieces, according to Philidor, were better developed behind the pawns and, consequently, the N had to be placed on e2 or f3, but only after the f-pawn was moved to f4. 
     A variation of the King's Gambit is named after Allgaier: 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.h4 g4 5.Ng5. After 5... h6 white must make a dubious but tricky N sacrifice with 6.Nxf7 which leads to a very tactical game. As with many unsound gambits, it may lead to some nice wins in rapid games (or against lower rated players) because white gets some attacking chances. 
     In 1903, at the gambit tournament held in Vienna the Allgaier Gambit was played 11 times and white scored +0 -8 =3...not good. Between them, Isidor Gunsberg and Georg Marco played the gambit nine times and both got a single draw to show for it. 
     Clearly the gambit is unsound, but in my database in games by players rated under 2200 white scored quite well as black's defense is not quite as easy in practice as the GM game results might suggest. However, if you’re playing a GM, the Allgaier should definitely be avoided. 
     By the end of the 19th century enthusiasm for romantic swashbuckling gambit play had disappeared and to revive interest, in 1903 the Vienna Chess Club sponsored a King’s Gambit tournament in which the moves 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 were mandatory. Albert Rothschild and Leopold Trebitsch provided the financial support. Then World Champion Emanuel Lasker predicted that black would win most of the games and his prediction proved true. White scored +32 -38 =20 
     Once the tournament was underway, the masters who favored positional play found themselves at the mercy of the aggressive tacticians like Chigorin and Marshall. Positional players like Schlechter, Maroczy and Teichmann finished outside the prize list. For Pillsbury this was his last European tournament as his fatal illness was approaching. See my post Pillsbury’s Syphilis  
     Chigorin of St. Petersburg, Russia, the chief living exponent of gambits emerged in first. The fact that Chigorin won didn’t surprise anyone, especially Marshall who wrote in My Fifty Years of Chess, “…coming second to Chigorin was no disgrace, for the old Russian had made a lifelong study of the King’s Gambit and had a deeper knowledge of this intricate opening than has ever been possessed by any other man.” 
     During the course of the tournament the London Sunday Special opined that “there is a tradition among leading tournament players that it is only necessary to comfront Chigorin with 1.d4 and Chigorin resigns.” The magazine then added that it was only necessary to compel his opponents to play and open game and would all resign. The Sunday Special also noted that the chess playing public preferred a “dashing and brilliant player to the patient accumulating of small minutiae” as advocated by Steinitz. 

 The last round game between Chigorin and Teichmann was a forfeit win for Chigorin when Teichmann failed to show up due to illness. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2019


     I posted on the 1955 Interzonal at Gothenburg (see Boleslavsky’s Hole) earlier this year and mentioned the peculiar case of Yugoslav master Andrija Fuderer when, after a great start, he totally collapsed at the finish. Also, back in 2012 I did a post on Fuderer, but the featured game has, for some reason, disappeared. 
     The following game is one of Fuderer’s games from Gothenburg that was part of his unfortunate collapse, but it features a good tactical finish with a Rook sacrifice by Pachman and the game illustrates the importance of obtaining maximum cooperation of one’s pieces. 
     The character of some positions is determined by features that affect play for a long time (static features), but things like a lead in development, active pieces, the concentration of pieces in on sector of the board (dynamic features) will affect the game for only a short period of time. 
     There are four things that fall into the category of dynamic elements: Lead in development, gain of time at the cost of material, cooperation of pieces and Pawns and positional sacrifices. In those situations every move will determine whether the active side will succeed in taking advantage of his momentary superiority. It’s all about time...neither side can afford to lose any by playing a superfluous move. 
     A word about the Ponziani Opening: The opening was favored by Staunton who wrote in The Chess-Player’s Handbook (1847) that the opening is “so full of interest and variety that it’s omission in many of the leading works on the game is truly unaccountable...it deserves, and if we mistake not, will yet attain a higher place in the category of legitimate openings...” 
     In 1904, Marshall wrote that, "There is no point in White's third move unless Black plays badly. ... White practically surrenders the privilege of the first move." and Graham Burgess called it "a relic from a bygone age, popular neither at top level nor at club level". 
     In Chess Master vs. Chess Amateur, Max Euwe and Walter Meiden wrote, "What should one do with this opening? It is no opening for beginners, because tactics predominate in the play. There are no simple strategic principles to govern the general lines in this opening.” 
     Bruce Pandolfini has said, “Curiously, every great teacher of openings who investigated the Ponziani has concluded that it leads to interesting play and deserves to be played more often. Yet it has never captured the fancy of chess players in general, and it remains to be seen whether the Ponziani is an opening of the past or of the future.” 
    Back in 2013, Magnus Carlsen played it against Pentala Harikrishna at Wijk aan Zee, but GM Evgeny Najer, one of a few high-level GMs who plays the Ponziani, commented, “...it's a bit risky to play...against...Kramnik, but it's completely okay to play...against those made of common clay for you can get some interesting (positions)...” He also added, “...it seems to me we shouldn't be expecting the rise of popularity for Ponziani opening because Black actually has a lot of secure continuations in it." 
     This game is quite a complicated seesaw affair with some rather surprising tactical twists. Especially interesting is the following position in which it's black's move: 

At first glance it looks like black should win easily, but Stockfish evaluates the position at 0.00 and cannot find a win. If you want to look at the position with an engine, here's the FEN:
 r7/P1p2k2/5B2/3qPb2/5Q2/1p3PK1/3p4/R7 b - - 0 43 

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Comparing Ratings Then And Now

     As Isaac Newton said: If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. 
     Bobby Fischer said: In chess so much depends on opening theory, so the champions before the last century did not know as much as I do and other players do about opening theory. So if you just brought them back from the dead they wouldn’t do well. They’d get bad openings. You cannot compare the playing strength, you can only talk about natural ability. Memorization is enormously powerful. Some kid of fourteen today, or even younger, could get an opening advantage against Capablanca, and especially against the players of the previous century, like Morphy and Steinitz. Maybe they would still be able to outplay the young kid of today. Or maybe not, because nowadays when you get the opening advantage not only do you get the opening advantage, you know how to play, they have so many examples of what to do from this position. It is really deadly, and that is why I don’t like chess any more. 
     Magnus Carlsen likely believes he could defeat Fischer or Tal and he probably could. 
     I have always maintained that today’s top players are better than their predecessors, but what about the rest of us...the Class players? Are they stronger now than 50 years ago? I don’t think so. 
     Compared to average players of yesteryear, we play like we always did and make the same mistakes we always made. As for opening theory, it doesn’t mean much because if one player deviates from the book at move 5 or 6 it becomes a free-for-all and both players will play to their rating whatever that is.  Besides, average players usually a) can't remember a lot of opening moves and b) don't know how to take advantage of it when their opponent deviates from theory.  Let's face it, average players have always played shoddy chess...that's the way we played 50 years ago, the way we play today and the way we will play in the future. 

     I ran across a paper titled Intrinsic Chess Ratings by Regan and Haworth in which they analyzed the games of players of various rating ranges from various time periods with an engine.  You can read what they discovered in their 12-page pdf report HERE.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Szabo Gives A Lesson On Connected Passed Pawns

     Ever since I saw the following game that was played between Gligoric and Szabo in the 10th Olympiad at Helsinki in 1952, it has been a source of fascination. 
     Most players learn early on about the might of united passed Pawns.  Although they also can have their disadvantages, for the one possessing the united passed Pawns it is important to be sure that they cannot be blockaded, so as a rule, the Ps should advance together. i.e. before advancing one of them the advance of the second Pawn needs to be assured. 
     In the following game Gligoric came out of the opening with two connected passed Pawns and his position looked extremely promising, but they were blockaded and never advanced. 
     Pachman’s analysis in Modern Chess Strategy always lead me to believe that it was due to Szabo’s great positional understanding and that Gligoric was positionally lost coming out of the opening. But, as is often the case, when you let modern chess engines take a nice long look at the game, you get a different picture. 
     Stockfish’s analysis indicates that white was not strategically lost from the beginning as suggested by Pachman. In fact, in 1985 the Argentine-Italian GM Carlos Garcia Palermo (born December 2, 1953) repeated the whole line up to move 18 where he found an improvement and went on to win. A year later Polish IM Krzysztof Panczyk also played the same line and he, too, managed to win. 
     Does this mean Pachman’s analysis was worthless. Absolutely not! Pachman was illustrating ideas and that’s what’s important in a book on strategy. 
     See the brief discussion on two united passed Pawns on pages 106-108 in The Logical Approach to Chess by Euwe, Blaine and Rumble HERE
     Everybody knows about Gligoric, but Hungary’s Laszlo Szabo (March 19, 1917 – August 8, 1998), a banker by profession, is under-appreciated today. Noted for his aggressive style of play, he startled everyone when he won the 1935 Hungarian Championship at the age of 18, which at that time was considered a remarkable feat; he would go one to win it a total of 9 times. 
     At the outbreak of WW2 he was attached to a Forced Labor Unit and later captured by Russian troops who held him as a Prisoner of War. After the war, he returned to chess and played in many major international events and in the post-WW2 era he was also one of the best players in the world. 
     In 1986 Pergamon published My Best Games of Chess by Szabo, but it’ a rare. Szabo himself thought his best agme was against Vasja Pirc at Hastings 1938-39. GM Matthew Sadler analyzed the game HERE.  
     Helsinki was organized by the FIDE as an open team tournament designed to promote chess and took place between August 9 and August 31, 1952. The Olympiad was especially notable for the debut of the Soviet team, who won their first gold medal and went on to completely dominate the Olympiads for the next four decades. In the finals they scored +5 -0 =3 as a team.
     After the tournament, it was generally agreed that the small preliminary and final groups of only 8–9 teams left too much open to chance, since a single blunder would have too big an impact on the final standings. Consequently, FIDE decided that in the future, no final should have less than 12 participants.
     Twenty-five teams entered and were divided into three preliminary groups of eight or nine teams. The top three from each group advanced to Final A. 

1) Soviet Union (Keres, Smyslov, Bronstein, Geller, Boleslavsky, Kotov) 21.0 
2) Argentina (Najdorf, Julio Bolbochán, Eliskases, Pilnik, Rossetto) 19.5 
3) Yugoslavia (Gligoric, Rabar, Trifunovic, Pirc, Fuderer, Milic) 19.0 
4) Czechoslovakia (Filip, Pachman, Šajtar, Kottnauer, Zíta, Pithart) 18.0 
5) United States (Reshevsky, Evans, Robert Byrne, Bisguier, Koltanowski, Berliner) 17.0
6) Hungary (Szabo, Barcza, Szily, Florian, Pogats, Molnar) 16.0 
7) Sweden Stahberg, Stoltz, Lundin, Skold, Johansson, Danielsson) 
8) West Germany (eschner, Schmid, Pfeiffer, Heinicke, Lange, Rellstab) 10.5 
9) Finland (Book, Ojanen, Kaila, Salo, Fred, Niemela) 10.0 

Friday, July 19, 2019

Gheorghiu Miscalculates

     London had a great tradition for chess tournaments. It was there that the first international tournament was held in 1851 and subsequent tournaments were held in 1862, 1866, 1883, 1899, 1922, 1927 and 1932. It was also in London that the first international team tournament was held in 1927. 
     After that chess activity declined and wasn’t until 1980 that London began hosting the Phillips and Drew King's Tournament. The Phillips & Drew Kings was a series of tournaments held in London in 1980, 1982 and 1984 and was sponsored by the stockbroker firm Phillips & Drew and the Greater London Council. 
     The 1980 event was the inaugural. The 14-player tournament featured the West's strongest players and the most promising of England's chess talent, including 14 year-old prodigy Nigel Short. You can buy a big photo of Miles playing Short HERE for only $499. 
     The stars included were the dynamic Viktor Korchnoi. Although Karpov was the World Champion, some were referring to Korchnoi as the “vice-champion of the world” because of his great successes in match play at the time. Anthony Miles was, at the time, considered the strongest English player since Staunton.
     There was the super-solid (and super-boring) Ulf Andersson, the solid ex-Soviet Dutch player Sosonko, the resourceful British player Speelman, the attacking Gheorgiu and the explosive Ljubojevic.
     Jan Timman and Gyula Sax both possessed enormous talent and it was going to be interesting to see how they fared. Both the colorful and dangerous Walter Browne and Bent Larsen were there, but they were in bad form. 
     Michael Stean, known for his attacking style, played too many draws, the strong and dangerous John Nunn was sick with a cold throughout the whole tournament and Nigel Short, who had a brilliant result a few months earlier at Hasting, was badly out of form. 
After 11 rounds the leaders were: 
1) Andersson 8.0 
2-3) Korchnoi and Sosonko 7.5 
4) Miles 7.0 
5-8) Speelman, Gheorghiu, Ljubojevic and Timman 6.0 

     In round 12, Andersson lost to Miles. Korchnoi, who had an overwhelming position, let Gheroghiu off with a draw. Sosonko suffered his first defeat when he lost to Speelman. Thus going into the last round Miles, Andersson and Korchnoi were all tied with 8.0. Sosonko had 7.5 and Speelman 7. 
     In the last round the large crowd of spectators expected to see a fight for first, but they and the organizers all got cheated when Andersson and Korchnoi played a GM draw that lasted all of 18 moves. Miles and Ljubojevic played an even shorter GM draw; it last only 10 moves. Poor Sosonko lost again, this round to Stean. One can forgive Nunn and Speelman for playing a 14 move draw because it gave Speelman his first GM norm. The only game of any real interest in the last round was Timman’s; he smashed Larsen in 19 moves! View game.
     Timman was very critical of the last round results saying, “They never remember who shares first place; only outright winners earn their place in history.” 

1-3) Miles, Korchnoi and Andersson 8.5 
4-5) Sosonko and Speelman 7.5 
6-8) Timman, Gheorghiu and Ljubojevic 7.0 
9) Sax 6.5 
10-12) Stean, Browne and Larsen 5.5 
13) Nunn 4.5 
14) Short 2.0 

    If you run across the book on the tournament, London 1980: Phillips and Drew Kings Chess Tournament by William Hartston and Stewart Reuben for a reasonable price don’t hesitate to pick it up. 
     One of the more exciting games happened right in round two when Romanian GM Florian Gheorghiu cut loose with some tactics that lead to his getting two minor pieces for a R only to mistakenly give back a piece for a mate that wasn’t there, only a perpetual check. 
     Generally speaking, if you have two minor pieces the essential elements are 1) coordinate your pieces against the Rook and 2) security...it is always good policy to pay particular attention to the general security of your position. 
     Remember that the Rook is adept at picking off stray Pawns, but in the absence of targets it loses a lot of its strength. By the way, this also applies to playing assorted minor pieces against a Queen. 
     The Rook usually comes into its own in the ending and its value increases relative to the other pieces so that winning with two minor pieces against a Rook is often much harder than it would be in the middlegame. See my post concerning two minor pieces vs. R+P HERE
     Florin Gheorghiu (born April 6, 1944) is a Romanian GM who lectured in French at Bucharest University; he also speaks English, Russian, German, and Spanish. He was awarded the IM title in 1963 and became Romania's first GM two years later. He was also awarded the title of World Junior Champion (on tie-break) in 1963 at Vrnjacka Banja. 
     Few could rival him in Romania in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. He won the Romanian Championship nine times (the first at age 16) and represented his country in all of the Chess Olympiads between 1962 and 1990, playing first board on ten occasions (1966–1974, 1978–1982, 1988–1990). 
     Ljubomir Ljubojevic (born November 2, 1950) is a Serbian GM who won the Yugoslav Championship in 1977 and 1982. In 1983 he was ranked third in the world, but he never succeeded in reaching the Candidates Tournament stage of the World Championship. He has defeated almost every top GM that was active during his career. 

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Paraphrasing C.S. Lewis

     I’d sooner live among people who don’t cheat at chess than among people who are earnest about not cheating at chess. 
     C.S. Lewis was actually talking about cards, not chess, but after reading about how GM Igors Rausis got caught cheating at a tournament in France, I think I understand what Lewis meant. 
     I don’t follow the latest chess news much, but I couldn’t help but take note of the situation involving Rausis. He has been creating quite a stir because he is in his late 50s and his rating, after having been rated in the 2500s for years, went over 2700... his play wasn’t improving, just his rating. It seems he was taking advantage the 400 point rule in the rating system and was playing lots of weak players to gain under one rating point per game and eventually boosting his rating to over 2600. Nothing new there. 
     Many years ago there was a local player who was always tantalizingly close to a Master rating, but could never quite seem to make it over 2200. His solution: he got a TD certificate from the USCF and started holding crappy little tournaments nobody but low rated players played in. Somehow he always managed to get in a game as a house player in order to prevent a bye. Naturally he beat up on the patzers and picked up a point to two. Once he got to 2202 he quit playing. We used to say he became a Master one point at a time. 
     Decades ago a prisoner in the Virginia State Penitentiary named Claude F. Bloodgood III did the same thing with the USCF system and “qualified” for the US Championship. The difference was Bloodgood supposedly wrote a letter to the USCF demonstrating how the system could be manipulated. The USCF dealt with the problem easily enough...they wiped out Bloodgood’s rating and kicked him out of the USCF. 
     Then there was the odd situation involving Jude Acers. Acers reached a USCF rating of 2399, one point shy of being a Senior Master, by playing matches against unrated players. Supposedly that’s when USCF Executive Director Ed Edmondson then froze Acer’s rating at 2399 until he played in an open tournament. I don’t know if that has been confirmed though. 
     Cheating has involved players conferring while the game was in progress or, before there were ratings, just outright buying and selling games for prizes and titles. Then there was a case of one IM sneaking off to his hotel room to get booked up…as Arthur Bisguier once suspected his opponent of doing. 
     Moving into the electronic age several players have been caught using cell phones or being signaled by accomplices. The latest cheater is Rausis who has been under suspicion for some time now...he was caught red handed using his cell phone while in the toilet. There is even a picture of him seated on the toilet (with the lid down) consulting his cell phone. He signed a confession admitting to everything. He later stated, "I simply lost my mind yesterday. I confirmed the fact of using my phone during the game by written [statement]. What could I say more? ... At least what I committed yesterday is a good lesson, not for me—I played my last game of chess already." 
     According to FIDE director general Emil Sutovsky, Rausis was suspended from the tournament and all materials will be sent to the ethical commission. Sutovsky also said Rausis was reported to French police. 
     The thing that shocked me the most was the published photo of Rausis seated on the toilet consulting his cell phone. GM Kevin Spraggett stated “Privacy issues far out weigh any ethics violations that Rausis might or might not have committed. FIDE should have recognized the difference, but they did not. If Rausis wishes, he could probably launch a criminal case against Garrett and the ‘Fair Play’ Commission.” I have to agree with GM Spraggett...cameras aimed at toilets is just wrong! 
     I don’t know about the laws in France, but in the US if you want to install a security camera in a business or even your home, installing one in a bathroom is a gray area. Public bathrooms can be a place where some pretty heinous crimes are committed, but there are some factors that must be considered: 

1. Cameras Aren’t Allowed in Areas Where People Expect Privacy. If there’s an expectation of privacy in an area, then you can’t have a camera...places like commercial bathrooms and changing rooms. What about your private home? What if you employ a nanny or a maid? Bathrooms are nearly always considered to be places where people can expect privacy and so security cameras aren’t allowed in bathrooms, only outside of them. 
2. Security Cameras Can Be Anywhere With Permission. Anyone can be filmed with their permission. In your home, if you have a security camera in the bathroom, that’s OK, but there must be a warning posted in case someone else uses it. 
3. Security Cameras Are Still Regularly Found in Bathrooms. Some business employees have reported that they’ve found security cameras in bathrooms. And nannies, maids, and even tenants occasionally report that they’ve found security cameras in bathrooms. The whole thing enters a complicated legal area, but cameras are generally considered illegal if the other party is not aware or has not consented to them and the other party has a reasonable expectation of privacy. 

    Ultimately, a security camera in a bathroom is risky and likely to be illegal, especially in public areas, even if a warning is posted. In July of last year a school in England was ordered to remove cameras it had installed in bathrooms in an attempt to curtail incidents of vandalism and bullying. 
     Cameras that also record sound may run afoul of federal wiretapping laws, with or without an otherwise legitimate reason. Years ago my boss installed a camera aimed at the receptionist and the door entering the office so he could see who was coming into the office.  That was OK, but there was a problem.  The camera was mounted over the coffee machine which was no problem in itself, but there was also a microphone on the camera and so the boss could hear what was being said at the coffee pot!  Somebody called the corporate legal department and he was instructed to unhook the microphone.  By the way, it wasn't me that called corporate.  I knew about the microphone and once or twice while at the coffee pot told fellow employees what a great boss we had.  Regardless of the reason for use, employers must let workers know that cameras are being used in the workplace. 
     Seriously, if I am playing in a chess tournament and need to use the bathroom I don’t want the tournament director, or anyone else, watching me tend to business. Maybe the best solution is to hire a bathroom attendant. 

     Here’s an early (and legitimate) Rausis game in which he defeats GM Alexander Shabalov (born September 12-1967) formerly of Latvia and now of the United States. Shabalov studied under former world champion Mikhail Tal, was awarded the IM title in 1989 and his GM title in 1991. About 1992, Shabalov emigrated to the United States with his family and eventually settled in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is known for courting complications and for an uncompromising, attacking style. In the mid to late 1990s his USCF rating was over 2700. Currently it’s 2575 and his play is confined to open events.