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Friday, August 30, 2019

Interesting reading

     I recently came across a blog and an editorial that were interesting and I thought I’d share them. A blog that is quite interesting and deserves to be wider read is one that oddly doesn’t seem to have a name. 
     It’s a blog by Douglas Griffin of Scotland. At the age of 12, in 1979, Griffin began competitive play and in 1980-1989 represented Scotland at every level from Under-14 to international. In the early 1990s his professional career caused him to gradually give up over-the-board play. His FIDE rating is 2270. 
     Griffin has a fascination with the Russian language and culture and over the the past 15 years he has translated the annotations to a great many games from classic Soviet-era books and periodicals. On his website he shares some of the results of his labor. There are only 17 posts dating from 2016 although some months actually have more than one subject. The blog also has some nice photos which I have never seen before. Definitely a blog worth visiting. I only wish Mr. Griffin would do more material.  Visit
     There is also an interesting old (2015) article in The Guardian titled "Grandmaster crash: the inside story of how English chess pawned its future: In the 80s, English chess was second only to the Soviet Union in the world game. Now we’re being outdone by Egypt and Peru. This is the tale of how a defecting grandmaster, an ousted chief executive and a spot of online mudslinging left the most cerebral of contests in raucous meltdown.” Read article
     If you can read Russian you can occasionally find Russian chess books that make for great reading.
My book of Lilienthal's best games
     Once upon a time somebody wrote a book that translated Russian chess words and phrases into English.  It was available from the USCF, but I can't remember the title or who wrote it. See this article: Why Russian to English is difficult for Machine Translation.

What you can do is download this Excel spreadsheet: Chess Vocabulary in 17 Languages

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Lady Champion Murdered

     Clarice Benini (January 8, 1905 - September 8, 1976) was a WIM and was the strongest Italian female player of all time. Never married, she was always “Signorina Benini,” a moody and sober spinster whose only known amusement was to hang out with the men at the chess club who referred to her as “Benini girl” because she was unmarried. 
     Born in Florence, at the age of fifteen she found herself fatherless when Giuseppe Benini died while she was playing in a tournament. After the death of her parents she devoted herself to chess and became a close friend of Marquis Stefano Rosselli del Turco (1877-1947) who was also from Florence. 
     A dangerous attacker, she was always going after the opponent’s King, usually with exceptional creativity and violence. Take a look at her game against Chaude de Silans below!

     She was the twice Italian women's champion (1938 and 1939). At the women's super-tournament at Semmering 1936, won by Sonja Graf, she finished 2nd. 
     Then she was a surprise at the Women's World Championship at Stockholm 1937, when she finished second behind Vera Menchik. This event took place during the 1937 Stockholm Olympiad. 
     In 1949/50, she finished 9th in the Women's World Championship in Moscow; it was won by Lyudmila Rudenko. The title had been vacant since the death of Vera Menchik in 1944. 
     For Benini the Moscow tournament was a long-awaited event after the war years during which time chess in Italy had suffered badly under the Italian fascist regime. Though her youth was gone and she had been threatened by her employer in the new post-fascist Italy with losing her job if she went to the Soviet Union, she didn’t think twice about it and undertook the fifteen-day train trip anyway. She traveled to Moscow at her own expense and when she arrived there it was 32 below zero. 
     By this time she no longer resembled the young woman who had surprised everyone in Sweden because she had been out of practice for years. As a result, she lost many games, but even so, the Soviets were impressed with her fighting spirit; Bronstein and Ragozin made special mention of her. It was clear that if the Benini had been well prepared, she would have been a dangerous contender.      She tied for 3rd-4th at Venice 1951 (WWCC zonal). In 1953/54 Benini achieved excellent results in the International Women's tournaments of Abbazia where she placed second with 13.5 points out of 17. At Gardone in 1956 she was unbeaten and finished first. Then at Amsterdam in 1957 she was undefeated and took another first. She finished 2nd at Beverwijk in 1958. 

     Benini continued to play in Italian women’s events and at the Florence chess club, but then had to abandon competitive activity in the mid-Sixties due to an eye disease. 
     She moved to the countryside where she owned a small house in Borgo Nuovo in northwestern Italy not far from the French and Swiss borders. It was there that she suffered an untimely end when an insane farmer murdered his wife and children and then murdered Benini who was his neighbor. 

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Tal Shreds Gurgenidze

     Tal said there were two types of sacrifices, sound ones and his. He also observed that errors are not good for a chess game, but they are unavoidable and a game without any errors is colorless. If you don’t believe him then a book of games between engines or of any of the recent world correspondence championships is for you! Kasparov said, “He (Tal) was the only one I knew who didn't calculate the variants, he saw them.” 
     I got to wondering, what was Tal’s greatest game? I came to the conclusion that the question has no answer because defining great is hard to do and no matter what definition you use, there are just too many of his games that would qualify. 
     The following game is Tal vs. Gurgenidze from the 1968/69 USSR Championship. Tal faced a Caro Kann in which he got space advantage, dangerous Bishops and Queen. 
     On move 16 he played a nice P-sac with the idea of either weakening the K-side or opening the h-file. When the h-file open his R was already in position and on move 21 he cut loose with a series of sacrifices that ripped Gurgenidze’s K-side to shreds. 
     The 36th USSR Championship played in 1968/69 was held in Alma-Ata (now called Almaty) in Kazakhstan. The tournament was a second straight victory for Polugaevsky, who along with Tal had won the 126 player Swiss system championship tournament the year before. This year it was Alexander Zaitsev who tied with Polugaevsky. A six game playoff was won by by a score of 3.5-2.5. It turned out to be Polugaevsky's final Soviet championship title. 

1-2) A. Zaitsev and Polugaevsky 12.5 
3) Lutikov 11.5 
4-5) Liberzon and Tseshkovsky 11.0 
6-10) Vasiukov, Klovans, Podgaets, Tal and Kholmov 10.5 
11-13) Averbakh, Lein and Osnos 10.0 
14) Sakharov 9.0 
15-17) Bagirov, Gurgenidze and I. Zaitsev 8.5 
18) Platonov 6.5 
19) Cherepkov 4.5 
20) Nikitin 3.5 

Friday, August 23, 2019

Nezhmetdinov’s Flight of Fancy

     From time to time I like to pull out Super Nezh: Rashid Nezhmetdinov, Chess Assassin by Alex Pishkin and play through a few of his games.
     Nezhmetdinov was an early version of Tal...his combinations were fantastic, if not always entirely sound. Every time I play over his games I get to thinking I could play like that, but, of course I can’t.
     The following game was played against Oleg Chernikov (October 15, 1936 – February 6, 2015), an International Arbiter and the 2000 World Senior Chess Champion. It was played in a Russian team championship at Rostov-On Don in 1962. 
     After Chernikov played 11...Bf6 a position was reached that had long been known to be drawn and so after making it Chernikov went for a stroll thinking Nezhmetdinov would take a quick draw. But, Nezhmetdinov sunk into deep thought and everyone wondered what he could be thinking about. Finally after 45 minutes a youngster rushed up to Chernikov and informed him that Nezhmetdinov had sacrificed his Queen. 
     Nezhmetdinov’s Queen sacrifice only netted him two pieces, but he hoped to attack the weakened dark squares around black’s King. Immediately after the game it was thought black had a draw at best. After this game subsequent analysis reached the conclusion that the chances should be about equal if black plays 14...d5 instead of Chernikov’s 14...Re8. However, since then it’s been discovered that black has several reasonable moves. While the engine evaluations after 14.Nc3 lead one to believe that the chances are even, practical results strongly favor black. 
     In the end, Nezhmetdinov didn’t succeed in overturning theory, but what does that matter? The depth of his plan and his flight of fancy are worth more than reams of engine analysis. 

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Chessplayer James Vernon, A Real Hero

James Vernon, Hero Chessplayer
     We live in a society where we are encompassed with ersatz heroes...people in politics, sports and Hollywood. A parade of Hollywood stars are presented to us as people to be respected and admired, but as actor John Cusack confessed, “Hollywood is a whorehouse and people go mad.” Angus T. Jones, formerly the child actor on the TV show Two And A Half Men, called the show filth that nobody should be watching, but he could have been speaking of dozens of them. 
     What defines a hero? There a lot of definitions, but a real hero is someone who demonstrates behaviors and decisions that are ethically and emotionally worthy of our awe. A real hero is someone who can be looked up to for their actions and courage. Back in 2015, a 75-year-old Vietnam War-era U.S. Army veteran and retiree named James Vernon did just that. 
     Vernon, USCF rating 1516, was teaching chess to a group of 16 children and their mothers at the Morton Public Library in Morton, a small town in central Illinois when 19-year-old Dustin Brown entered the room brandishing two knives and shouting, “I’m going to kill some people.” Court documents claimed that Brown wanted to kill the children before he killed himself. 
     For a few seconds Vernon didn’t believe what was happening, but then realized he had to do something and immediately got in between the attacker and the children, telling the frightened children and mothers that it was time to leave. 
     The children, aged 7 to 14, remained frozen in their seats as Vernon approached the attacker and calmly began asking him questions. Brown just stood there making shallow cuts in his own left arm as he told Vernon his whole life sucked. 
     Vernon asked Brown to let the children leave and then they could talk about Brown’s problems. At that point one of the mothers hurried the children out. As the children were leaving, Brown lunged at Vernon who lifted his hand to block the attack and as a result suffered a deep stab in his left palm that severed two arteries which began spurting blood all over the place. 
     In spite of his wound, Vernon fought back, subdued Brown and pinned him to one of the conference tables. Not bad for a 75-year-old with bad knees, a bad shoulder and high blood pressure. Vernon credited basic Army training that he had received over 50 years earlier for knowing what to do in a knife fight. 
     Vernon's actions remind me of what author Adam Chan wrote in his book Climbing Mountains and Eating Punches when he said his view was the really dangerous guys are the quietest ones who are very good at avoiding trouble. Like he also said, you never know who you are messing with.  

     Brown was arrested and charged with attempted murder, armed violence, and aggravated battery. Vernon underwent two hours of surgery on his hand. 
     It took until this year for Vernon to be awarded the Carnegie Medal for his heroic action that day. The 113-year-old Carnegie Commission recognizes civilian heroism in the U.S. and Canada. About 20-percent of those awards are made posthumously. 
     And what happened to Dustin Brown? As a teenager Brown suffered from fixations on aviation, child pornography and eventually mass murder that were caused by autism. 
     Brown, whose intellectual capacity was less than his age of 19, claimed to have been sexually abused as a child which may have contributed to his actions, but he understood his actions in the library were criminal. 
     Brown went to the library with two large knives in his book bag with the intent to kill people and when he saw the children he selected them as his target. His plans stemmed from a fixation over mass killings he’d developed while watching video games.
     He told police the children sparked a desire for revenge after he was charged eight months earlier with possessing more than 200 computer-downloaded videos and pictures of preteen girls engaging in sexual acts. He was free on bond when he made the attack in the library.  
     Brown’s parents said they had no idea until after Brown’s arrest on the porn charges that he was sexually abused for a half-dozen years by his older brother who is imprisoned on an unrelated sex-related charge. The parents had adopted both boys as young children. 
     Brown pleaded guilty (but mentally ill) to possessing child porn, attempted murder and armed violence. The Assistant State’s Attorney sought a 50-year sentence while Brown’s attorney asked for the minimum 16-year term. In the end, Brown received a 32-year prison sentence. Time served since the library assault and good behavior could reduce his prison term to 22 years. He’ll receive mental health therapy during his prison time. 
     James Vernon is a real hero, not the fake kind you see on television.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Kudzu String Band and Chess

     1.3 million. That’s how many visitors this blog reached yesterday. I don’t know if that means anything, but the average is about 450 views per day. 
     Most of the visitors are from the U.S. with Russia and the Ukraine a distant second and third. The UK, Canada, the Netherlands and Germany are way back. 
     I was interested to see what subject matter is the most popular...engines, openings, biographies, tournaments, etc. Oddly, no one category stands out. 
     Posts on engines are popular, but what really surprised me is that one of the top viewed post is the one about Bobby Fischer’s girlfriend...the one where I “borrowed” her picture from another site and it turned out to be a young Hillary Clinton. They do favor each other though. 
     Not far behind in the number of views was my comparison of the Chess Assistant and Chessbase programs. A post titled Nanny McPhee of Chess featured one of my ugly, wart covered games, so I'm not sure why it had so many views.  Perhaps the attraction was the post title?!  Very close behind was GM Rosendo Balinas and a Sugar High...Real or Myth? 
     It seems odd, but my update on a (then) new, but very short lived, server site called Chesshood racked up over 12,000 views. Supposedly the lady who owned the site (Emilie Ropers) was killed in a shootout, but nobody ever located any news of the shooting or her obituary. I traced the incorporation to a private address in Florida. It was all very strange. 
     By far the all time leader for views is a real surprise as it had nothing to do with chess; it was a video of the Kudzu String Band from Marion, Alabama. They play what they call "regressive bluegrass," music that pre-dates legends like Bill Monroe and the Stanley Brothers, Ralph and Carter. That post has over 16,000 views! 
Legendary buck dancer Thomas Maupin

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Moscow 1956

Szabo vs. Smyslov
     Moscow 1956: The Silenced Spring by Kathleen E. Smith is a book about how, in 1956, Stalin’s successor, Nikita Khrushchev, stunned a closed gathering of Communist officials with a litany of his predecessor’s abuses. 
     Meant to clear the way for reform, Khrushchev’s “Secret Speech” of February 25, 1956, shattered the myth of Stalin’s infallibility and resulted in a wave of anti-Stalin sentiment that morphed into calls for democratic reform and eventually erupted in dissent within the Soviet bloc. 
     The Soviets ruthlessly crushed the Workers' uprising against Communist rule in Poland that lasted from June 28 to the 30th. 
     Most notably there was the Hungarian Revolt which was also viciously crushed by Soviet tanks and troops. It was this revolt that lead to some Hungarian players fleeing...Laszlo Witt to Canada, Bela Berger to Australia and Pal Benko to the US, for example. 

     Other big news was Egypt, under Nasser, nationalized the Suez Canal in late July and Israel launched attack on Egypt's Sinai peninsula and drove toward the Canal in October. Then British and French invaded Egypt at Port Said on November 5th. A cease-fire forced by US pressure stopped the advance of British, French and Israeli troops. 
     Chess happenings in 1956 included the death of 5-time British Ladies Champion Edith Price and Veniamin Sozin, a Russian master, author, and theoretician. Savielly Tartakower died in Paris at the age of 68. Julius du Mont, a player, journalist, editor and writer, died in Hastings at the age of 74. On July 16, Karel Hromadka, Czech champion in 1913 and 1921 died in Prague at the age of 69. Also in 1956, Lajos Asztalos, the 1913 Hungarian champion, died in Budapest. He was a professor of philosophy and languages. 
     In February Isaac Kashdan appeared on Groucho Marx’s game show You Bet Your Life. Kashdan’s partner was Helen Schwartz, actor Tony Curtis’ mother. They didn’t win any money. View
     In July Bobby Fischer took first place in the U.S. Junior Championship in Philadelphia with 8 wins, 1 draw, and 1 loss thus becoming the youngest-ever junior champion at age 13. Later in the year he defeated Donald Byrne in the famous Game of the Century. 
     In March and April, Smyslov won the Candidates tournament in Amsterdam. For twenty-five years after Alekhine fled Russia he was considered a traitor and an enemy of the people, but within a few years after his death in 1946 he was being hailed as Russia’s greatest player. After the Candidates tournament in a Soviet delegation that included Smyslov, Keres, Bronstein, Geller and Petrosian, marked the tenth anniversary of his death at a ceremony organized by FIDE in the Montparnasse cemetery in Paris. 
     Between August 31 and September 25 the Chess Olympiad, won by the USSR, was held in Moscow. Not long after the Olympiad, Moscow was the scene of the Alekhine Memorial that was held from October 9th to November 2nd. 

Alekhine's death – an unresolved mystery 
Alekhine’s Death by Edward Winter 

     Vasily Smyslov, Mark Taimanov and Mikhail Botvinnik were the early leaders. Then beginning in round 10 Botvinnik scored 4.5 points out of 5 which gave him a full point lead going into the last round. In the last round an out-of-form Paul Keres handed Botvinnik a stunning defeat. Smyslov ground out a win over Gideon Stahlberg to tie for first place while Taimanov settled for a short last-round draw which left him a half point short of a tie for first. Botvinnik’s shared 1st place was his only first place finish during his world championship years.
     British champion C.H.O’D. Alexander was invited to Moscow, but the British Foreign Office forbade him to go because as one of Britain’s top decoding experts at Bletchley Park during World War II it was felt he knew too many secrets. 

1) Botvinnik * ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 0 ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 11.0 
2) Smyslov ½ * ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 11.0 
3) Taimanov ½ ½ * ½ 1 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 10.5 
4) Gligoric ½ ½ ½ * 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 1 10.0 
5) Bronstein ½ ½ 0 1 * ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 9.5 
6) Najdorf 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ * ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 9.0 
7) Keres 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ * 1 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 8.5 
 8) Pachman ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 * ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 8.5 
9) Unzicker ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 1 ½ * 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 0 1 8.0 
10) Stahlberg 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 * ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 8.0 
11) Szabo 0 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ * ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 6.0 
12) Padevsky 0 0 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ * 0 ½ 1 ½ 5.5 
13) Uhlmann 0 0 ½ 0 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 * 1 ½ ½ 5.5 
14) Ciocaltea 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 0 0 ½ ½ 0 * 1 ½ 3.5 
15) Sliwa 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 ½ 0 * ½ 3.0 
16) Golombek 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ * 2.5 

     In the following game Szabo played his home-prepared innovation 8.e4 offering his d-Pawn which Smyslov readily accepted. With the initiative that came with the P-sac Szabo went on to launch what appeared to be a crushing K-side attack, but misplayed it and lost. 
     Szabo had started out with a modest score of 3-2. This game was played in round 6 on October 17th when rumblings of political unrest coming out of Hungary. On October 23rd, a national uprising began and a few days later, on November 4th, Soviet tanks rolled into Budapest and crushed it. The news was upsetting to Szabo, who was from Budapest, and he later wrote that he didn’t have the ambition to prepare for his remaining games. 

Monday, August 19, 2019

Johannesburg 1955

     If you lived in South Africa (in those days the Union of South Africa) in 1955 the big political news was The Congress of the People that was held in June. And, if you were a railroad fan the South African Railways placed the first of sixty Class 5E, Series 1 electric locomotives in service. They would eventually become the most prolific locomotive type to ever run on South African rails. 
     If you were a sports fan the South Africa national football team toured Australia and played and won five games against the Australia national association football teams. 
     If you were a chess player the big news was that the first world champion to ever play an event in Africa was Max Euwe who played in the Johannesburg 1955 event. And, the really big news was Euwe came in a surprising third a half point behind Muhring and Hreidenfeld. 
     The final standings were in doubt until the last round when Euwe went all out against Muhring after losing to Heidenfeld in the previous round. But, Euwe only managed a draw while Heifenfeld defeated Wilken and so moved into a tie for first. 

     Willem Muhring (1913 - 1999) was a Dutch IM and a pioneer in the computer industry. See A tribute to Willem Jan Muhring for an interesting bio.
     Wolfgang Heidenfeld (1991 - 1981) was born in Berlin and was forced to move from Germany to South Africa because he was a Jew. In 1957, he moved to Dublin and in 1979 the family moved back to Germany. You can read my post about him HERE.
     Barta da Cruz was from Mozambique while the other players were local South Africans about whom nothing is known. 

     The September 1955 edition of a typewritten South African magazine titled New Youth, Independent Youth Monthly mentions Dr. Euwe in the section On The Youth Front. 
     A group of seven young "non-European chess enthusiasts" who were members of the Transveal Indian Youth Congress at the South African Colored Peoples’ Organization interviewed Dr. Euwe and handed him an open letter.
     Their interview with Dr. Euwe took place in the foyer of the venue, the Johannesburg Library, as the youths were barred from entering the library itself. Euwe actually came into the foyer in between moves during his game to listen to and speak with the youths. 
     The letter they gave to Euwe expressed “deep disappointment in not being able to watch you play owing to the color of out skins.” 
     The letter went on to say that the game originated in the 5th century in India and it had always been played by people of all nationalities, colors and creeds. It stated, “We are sure that in your wide experience you have played and enjoyed games with persons of all colors. You must agree with us that the color of a person’s skin does not matter as long as they appreciate the art of chess.” 
     After the interview with Dr. Euwe the youths stated that they had been received by him with understanding and he had expressed regret at not being able to participate in playing games against non-whites because his contract for the trip and tournament forbade him from doing so.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Taking Another Gander At Chess Assistant 16

     The current version of Chess Assistant is Chess Assistant 19 Professional with Houdini 6 PRO and the download version for the USCF costs $169.95. 
     Because you probably don’t remember, let me remind you that I purchased Chess Assistant 16 back in March of 2016. Initially I downloaded the program from the USCF and had a problem both getting it installed as well as locating the big game database. Those problems were handled by Chess Assistant’s support quickly and efficiently. Their tech support is superb, which is something I can’t say for the snots at ChessBase. Then in November of 2017, I posted that no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't fall in love with Chess Assistant. 
     As I mentioned, I never cottoned to the appearance of the board, but more importantly, I never learned how to use all its features because I found the most mundane tasks difficult to perform. 

     Then in January of this year I posted about my hard drive failure that happened just as we were suffering through a polar vortex which brought unusually cold weather with temperatures below zero. That caused me to have to venture out into the cold and make a trip to Best Buy and $272 later I had a new solid state drive which is nice and very fast. Shortly after that the keyboard crapped out. That was an easy fix...just disconnect the laptop keyboard and replace it with a $20 wireless board. 
     While I am on the subject of wireless keyboards, the first one I bought was the $30 Insignia Wireless Keyboard/ Mouse and after two days the keys started sticking making it almost impossible to type anything. When I checked customer reviews on Amazon and Best Buy I discovered there were literally dozens of complaints about this unit having that problem. Clearly the manufacturer and Best Buy are aware of the issue, but obviously don't care. In any case, I took it back to Best Buy and exchanged it for a cheap $20 Logitech Wireless Keyboard and it’s still working fine. The only disadvantage is that it takes two receivers/transmitters, one for the wireless mouse and one for the keyboard whereas the Insignia only took one. Bottom line: Insignia is junk...don't buy.

     But, this post is really about my old, outdated Chess Assistant 16. It was on the old hard drive, but wouldn’t run off of it. It took a couple of days monkeying around with the program, but I finally got it running off the SSD drive. If I didn’t like it in the first place, why bother, you ask? Good question. The answer is that 1) getting it up and running on the new SSD was a challenge and 2) I just wanted to play around with it some more. 
     What can you do with Chess Assistant? The latest version has the Houdini 6 engine which according to the sales hype is “the World's strongest chess program.” That’s not true according to the CCLR 40/40 rating list; it’s a good engine, but it can’t compare to Stockfish. It holds its own against Komodo though. 
     Chess Assistant is tool for managing games and databases, playing on the Internet, analyzing games, or playing against the computer. Let’s throw out playing on the Internet and playing against the computer and look at the other stuff. 
     Chess Assistant 19 Professional includes (as does my old version 16) the Chess Opening Encyclopedia, a search system, the unique Tree mode, databases of over 7 million games (Nov. 1, 2018) that can be automatically updated with 3000 new games every week for free, one year access to all courses at Chess King Learn and the 7-piece Lomonosov Tablebases. The Lomonosov TBs are awesome and I used them frequently when I had free access because in correspondence play these days (on sites where engines are allowed) you are going to run into quite a few endgames. 

Some important features of the program are: 
* Search for novelty 
This probably isn’t what you think. It’s not a way of finding a new idea in an opening position that you can spring on your opponent. It just searches a different database to find any games with same opening moves and identify where the games diverged. You have to open two databases: one containing the game you are looking at and another one for comparison. CA will search for the place where the game under investigation diverged from the games in the second database...that is assuming a CA Tree has been built for the second database beforehand. i.e. you can’t search just any old database. 
     I won’t go into detail here, but there are two different kinds of trees, each with their own advantages and disadvantages: CA trees and Direct trees. This is one example of why this program has a steep learning curve. To fully utilize some functions you have know the difference between trees.
* Search for blunders 
Any analysis program will do this, so this isn’t anything unique to CA 
* Multi-pass game analysis 
You can even choose different engines for each phase of the game. My Fritz program offers the “Compare Analysis” that does the same thing. 
* Analysis markers 
These allow you to mark selected positions for automatic analysis at a later time. Analysis is performed in the background while the program is occupied with other things. If you have a network connection, you can distribute analysis among several computers which will analyze simultaneously. 
* Interactive analysis 
This feature is probably the programs greatest single asset and is similar to Aquarium’s Interactive Deep Analysis (IdeA). This feature allows you guide the engine in its analysis and choose lines and it will remember the results. This is a handy feature...very handy. 
     The idea of interactive analysis is to allow the player to work with the engine, allowing it to analyze a position, and then guide it in its analysis without forgetting its conclusions. This is something I cannot do with Fritz...interrupt the analysis and it forgets everything and you have to start over.
     Without human assistance an engine requires a lot of time to reach a great depth. When the engine starts to analyze a position, it reaches the 8-10 ply depth rather quickly, but then it slows down and going deeper gets difficult. The engine analyzes the position and works out a line it considers the best then it jumps to the end of this line and analyzes the final position with all results being stored in the hash tables. 
     Then the engine returns to the starting position and thanks to its accumulated knowledge of the final position of the line, it will probably re-estimate the initial position. Due to this re-estimation it will probably consider another line to be the best and switch to more deep analysis of that line. These actions may be accomplished automatically in accordance with the options you have set. 
     However, the point is that at any moment you can interrupt the engine, adding any variations of your own, and the program would analyze them as if they were its own suggestions. Hence, it will learn not only from its own mistakes, but from your input. This is interesting because you can suggest risky moves and the engine will refute them if they are incorrect. The important point is, besides analyzing in the background, if you interrupt its analysis, it does not have to start over. 
* Chess Opening Encyclopedia 
This includes theoretical material on all openings, more than 8000 annotations by GM Kalinin and 40 million evaluations by the strongest engines of key positions. 
* Search 
Chess Assistant offers search by position, header, maneuvers, material, comments, novelty search, advanced search by material in 12 regions of the board. Handy if you’re looking for something like the Classic Bishop Sacrifice or, say, exchange sacrifices by black on c3 in the Sicilian. 
     Fritz has a similar function where you can search for "medals" which were added to the games by ChessBase, but my database doesn't have any games marked with medals. You can, however, search for game header information and positions.

     For me, the level at which I play and the level of my involvement in chess doesn't justify spending $169.95 for a chess program that has a lot of features I don't need.
     And so my old Fritz 12 is still the workhorse because it does everything I need, plus it’s really simple to use. Then there are SCID and Arena which are free and they do just about all the stuff an amateur needs done.

Friday, August 16, 2019

A Bizarre Game

     The Chigorin Memorial is in honor of Mikhail Chigorin (1850–1908), founder of the Soviet Chess School and one of the leading players of his day. The first was played in 1909 in St. Petersburg. Later on, an international invitation Memorial tournament series was established, and mainly played in the Black Sea resort Sochi (from 1963 to 1990). Further irregular tournaments had been held in 1947, 1951, 1961, and 1972, played in diverse venues. From 1993 the venue returned to his hometown, the Memorial is now played as an Open event.
     In 1964 the tournament was held in Sochi and was won by Nikolai Krogius

1) Nikolai Krogius 11.0 
2-3) Ratmir Kholmov and Mato Damjanovic 10.0 
4) Boris Spassky 9.5 
5) Milan Matulovic 9.0 
6-8) Vladimir Antoshin, Anatoly Lein, and Rashid Nezhmetdinov 8.5 
9) Igor Bondarevsky 8.0 
10-11) Maximilian Ujtelky and Gideon Barcza 7.5 
12) Vladimir Doroshkievich 7.0 
13) Florian Gheorghiu 6.0 
14) Gyozo Forintos 3.5 
15) Tudev Ujtumen 3.0 
16) Gonzales Garcia 2.5 

     The winner of the following outlandish game was Maximilian Samuel Rudolf Ujtelky (April 20, 1915 - December 1979), a Slovak master and theoretician of Hungarian origin. Dr. Ujtelky was a descendant of famous Hungarian composer Franz Liszt. 
     In 1960 Ujtelky tied for first with Jiri Fichtl in the Czechoslovak Championship, but lost the playoff match for the title. He represented Czechoslovakia in Chess Olympiads three times: Amsterdam 1954, Leipzig 1960 and Havana 1966. He was awarded the IM title in 1961. 
     The defense that Ujtelky employed in the following game might better be classified as the Hippopotamus, a dull, plodding defense in which black sits tight and waits for white to overextend himself, launch a premature attack...or blunder. It’s one of those outlandish defenses that Ujtelky made a living out of playing. Sometimes they worked, sometimes they didn’t. 
     In this game Nezhmetdinov, a fearsome attacker, obtained a dominating position, won (or was handed) the exchange and had good winning chances. Then after blundering away a center Pawn, he manically began sacrificing for vague attacking chances and ended up losing. A strange game.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Hastings 1969-70

     The 45th Hastings Christmas Chess Festival featured some big names. There was five time winner (1951/52, 1956/57, 1959/60, 1960/61, 1962/63) Svetozar Gligoric. One of the top rated players on the world Lajos Portisch, former world champion Vasily Smyslov, the previous year's winner, and the promising 17 year old Dutch player Jan Timman. Past winners also included the 1950/51 winner Unzicker and the 1952/53 winner Medina. 
     The British representatives were the promising 1969 British Under 18 champion Martyn Corden, who had also come equal second in the 1969 British Championship. 
     John Littlewood had played three times in the Hastings Premier tournament and had represented England at the 1962 Varna Olympiad. He had also come second equal in the 1969 British Championship. 
     David Levy had represented Scotland at the 1968 Lugano Olympiad and had finished 5th at the 1969 Praia da Rocha Zonal Tournament. 
     Smyslov failed to repeat his previous tournament victory at Hastings, but he appeared to be nervous and his surprise loss to the young British player Corden was put down to trying to win too hard. "Having watched both players from a ringside seat, I am sure that Smyslov lost this game because he had the fixed idea that he had to win at all costs to keep in the running for the first prize" (Bernard Cafferty in Birmingham Mail). 
     Golombek commented that a fighting spirit pervaded and inspired the players from the top to the bottom. Of the 45 games, only 17 were drawn.
     British Pathe news filmed the opening speech by Lieutenant-General Sir John Bagot Glubb and the players in round one, but there is no sound. Watch  

FInal standings:
1) Portisch * ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 1 7.0 
2) Unzicker ½ * 1 ½ ½ 1 1 1 ½ ½ 6.5 
3) Gligoric ½ 0 * ½ 1 1 1 1 ½ ½ 6.0 
4) Smyslov ½ ½ ½ * ½ ½ 0 1 1 1 5.5 
5) Timman ½ ½ 0 ½ * 0 1 1 ½ 1 5.0 
6) Drimer 0 0 0 ½ 1 * ½ 0 1 1 4.0 
7-8) Corden 0 0 0 1 0 ½ * ½ 1 0 3.0 
7-8) Medina 0 0 0 0 0 1 ½ * 1 ½ 3.0 
9-10) Levy 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 0 0 * 1 2.5 
9-10) Littlewood 0 ½ ½ 0 0 0 1 ½ 0 * 2.5 

     The following win by Dolfi Drimer over John Littlewood was one of the games Harry Golombek considered for the brilliancy prize. Drimer's demolition of Levy was also considered as was Littlewood’s win over Corden, but the prize finally went to Medina for his win over Levy. 
     Professor Dolfi Drimer (1934 – 2014,) was an IM and an engineer by profession. He graduated in 1956 from the Politehnica University of Bucharest, becoming a mechanical engineer, and from 1966 an economist engineer. 
     In 1969, he became a doctor in engineering sciences in metallurgy. Between 1956-1960 Drimer was a scientific researcher at the Metallurgical Research Center in Romanian Academy. Between 1960-1968 he was an engineer at the "Electronica" Enterprise, and between 1964-1968 a design engineer at the "Automatica" Design Institute. 
     Between 1968 and 1971, he was a lecturer, professor and head of the Department of Welding Technology at the Polytechnic Institute of Bucharest. From 1990 he was the founder and rector of the first private higher education institution in the country - Ecological University of Bucharest. He was author of many scientific research works. 
     In the 1950s and 1960s Drimer was one of the leading Romanian players. He played in the Romanian Championship 13 times and played in three Olympiads.
     John Littlewood (1931 – 2009) was one of England’s leading players for many years and won the British senior championship in 2006. He was the best British attacking player of his generation during which time he took many GM scalps. His 19 British championships spanned 50 years.