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Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Israel's First International Tournament

     In Israel in early January of 1959, four Egyptian MiG-17 jets penetrated Israeli airspace near Beersheba before being driven off by Israeli fighters. On April 1st, the Night of the Ducks fiasco took place. It was a surprise Israeli military exercise to test the mobilization of the Israeli Defense Force's reserves that caused panic throughout Israel and put the armies of the neighboring Arab states on high alert.
     In July David Ben-Gurion resigned as Prime Minister and new elections were called for the Knesset. Also in July the Wadi Salib riots took place. They were a series of street demonstrations that resulted in vandalism in the Wadi Salib neighborhood of Haifa that were sparked by the police shooting of a Moroccan Jewish immigrant. Rioters accused the police of ethnic discrimination against Mizrahi Jews. 
     On November 4th, six Israeli jets and four Egyptian MiG-17s snarled in a dogfight near the border between the two nations. All planes reportedly returned safely and the battle did not lead to further action. 
     In other Israeli news, in 1959 the Israel Chess Federation organized the first international chess tournament in Israel. Top players from Russia, Yugoslavia and other countries were invited, but for various reasons most of them were unable to participate and that left Samuel Reshevsky and Hungary's Laszlo Szabo as the only leading GMs and it was obvious from the beginning that first place was going to be won by one of them. 
     By coincidence the deciding game between Szabo and Reshevsky was scheduled for the last round. It was a hard fought game in which Reshevsky (black) played the K-Indian, a defense that was a new experiment for him. Szabo established a considerable advantage in the middlegame, but with grim determination Reshevsky fought back. In the ensuing R and P ending Szabo again had gained the advantage, but let it slip away and after 69 moves they agreed to a draw. 
     In the meantime, the two GMs had to continue to chalk up points in order to keep up with each other. This was a considerable strain on the nerves because most of the other participants were not easy to beat. Reshevsky's game against England's Robert Wade was case in point. He held his own until after adjournment. Upon resumption he got into terrific time trouble and made a slip in the ending. A tough loss for Wade.

Robert Wade - Samuel Reshevsky

Result: 0-1

Site: Haifa/Tel Aviv

Date: 1959

King's Indian: Four Pawns Attack

[...] 1.d4 ♘f6 2.c4 g6 3.♘c3 ♗g7 Reshevsky had only recently decided recently to play the K-Indian and at time was still experimenting with it. 4.e4 d6 5.f4 The Four Ps Attack seems to give white complete control of the center, but it is only an illusion as black can break it up by means of an immediate counterattack and for that reason it's never been especially popular in GM play. 5...O-O 6.♘f3 c5 Best. 7.d5 e6 8.♗e2 ♖e8 9.O-O exd5 10.exd5 The open e-file may very well lead to exchanges of heavy pieces and easy equality for black. 10...♘g4 Threatening ...Ne3. Black is willing to lose a few tempi in order to exchange white's B. 11.♗d3 ♘e3 12.♗xe3 ♖xe3 13.♕d2 ♖e8 14.♖ae1 ♖xe1 15.♖xe1 ♘d7 16.g4 An aggressive continuation hoping to take advantage of black's lagging development by initiating a K-side attack by the advance f5 or g5.
16.h3 didn't give white anything. 16...♘f6 17.♔h2 ♗d7 18.♘d1 ♕b6 19.♘f2 ♖e8 20.♖xe8+ ♘xe8 21.b3 with a dead equal position. Simantsev,M (2371)-Onischuk,V (2251)/Kiev 2004
16.♕e3 (Reshevsky) 16...♘f6 17.♕e7 ♕xe7 18.♖xe7 ♔f8 with a slight advantage.
16.♘e4 (Reshevsky) 16...♘f6 17.♘xf6+ ♗xf6 18.f5 ♗d7 and white is making no progress.
16...♘f6 17.h3 h6 Played in order to meet the advance of the f-Pawn with ...g5. 18.♔h2 ♗d7 19.g5 hxg5 20.fxg5
20.♘xg5 ♘h5 Intending ...Qf6. Black is better. 21.♘ce4 would be a blunder... 21...♘xf4 22.♕xf4 ♗e5
20...♘h5 21.♘e4 ♗f5 22.b3 ♕d7 23.♘f2 This defends the h-Pawn and at the same time forces the exchange of Bs. 23...♗xd3 24.♕xd3 ♖e8 25.♖xe8+ ♕xe8 As a result of the exchanges the position is equal and what can go wrong for white? 26.♕e4 Wade quite correctly wants to exchange Qs because his K is somewhat vulnerable. 26...♔f8
26...♕xe4 This immediate exchange of Qs by black was not a good idea because his K comes into action more slowly than it does by letting white make the trade. 27.♘xe4 ♗f8 Also, his B is tied down. 28.♔g2 ♗e7 29.♔f2 ♘f4 30.h4 and if there is any advantage to be had it belongs to white.
27.♕xe8+ ♔xe8 28.♘d3 Equally good would have been 28.Ne4 but the text was played to keep black's N out of f4. This ending is completely equal, but Reshevsky thought he had some slight chances on the Q-side. In this type of position the burden is always on the weaker player because one small slip and the stronger opponent will pounce on it. 28...♗c3 A very instructive move. The purpose is to prevent white's N from maneuvering Nd2-e4 after which black would have to defend his d-Pawn. Reshevsky wanted his K free to roam. 29.♔g2 a6 30.a4 ♔d7 31.♘h2 Intending to maneuver the N to h6 where it would attack the f-Pawn. 31...♘g7 32.♔f2
32.♘g4 Turns out to be a dead end after 32...♘f5 33.♘h6 ♘xh6
33...♘d4 also leads nowhere. 34.♘f2 ♘xb3 35.♘e4 ♗g7 36.♘xf7 ♘a5 37.♘exd6 ♗f8 38.♘xb7 ♘xb7 39.♘e5+ ♔e8 40.♘xg6 and black is fighting to hold the draw.
34.gxh6 ♔e7 35.♘f2 f5 36.h4 ♗f6 37.♔g3 ♔f8 38.♘h3 ♔g8 39.♘g5 with a draw.
32...♘f5 Nice...it prevents the K from going to e2 because ...Nd4+ would win a P. 33.♘f3 ♔c7 34.♔e2 b5 35.axb5 axb5 36.♘f2 ♔b6 37.♘e4 ♗g7 38.♔d3 bxc4+
38...♔a5 was no better as white has a number of good replies that keep the draw in hand. 39.♘fd2 ♔b4 40.cxb5 ♔xb5 41.♘c4 ♗f8 42.♔c3 ♗e7 43.♘f6 with a draw is just one way.
39.♔xc4 ♗f8 The threat is to win a P with ...Ne3+ 40.♔d3 (Reshevsky) 40...♔b5 41.♘fd2 ♔b4 and Reshevsky claimed white is practically in Zugzwang which is simply not the case. 42.♘c3 and there is absolutely no way black can make progress. 42...♗g7 43.♘a2+ ♔a3 44.♘c3 ♘e7 45.♔c4 etc.
39...♔a5 40.♘e1 ♗e5 Another GM move. The idea is to free the N for possible action. The game was adjourned here and the position is dead equal, but in order to keep up with Szabo, Reshevsky spent many hours analyzing trying to find a way to win. 41.♘c2 ♗f4 Another GM move. It has the dual purpose of tying down the N on e4 and preventing white from playing Ne3.
41...♔a4 This looks like a logical way of making progress with the K, but it allows 42.♘e3 ♘xe3 43.♔xe3 ♔b3 44.♔d3 ♗f4 45.h4 ♗e5 46.♘d2+ and black has made no progress. Hence the move 41...Bf4
42.♘a3 ♘d4 Note that the database 365Chess incorrectly give black's move as 42...Ne7 although the position ends up the same due to the repetition, but the distinction is important because Reshevsky originally intended a move that is not possible after 42...Ne7. 43.♘c2 Wade took almost an hour to make this move and after the game admitted that had Reshevsky played his intended 43...Nf3 he had had not seen the correct answer of 44.Nxc5. 43...♘f5
43...♘f3 This move winning the g-Pawn was what Reshevsky intended, but to his dismay, at the last minute he saw Wade's surprising reply. 44.♘xc5 dxc5
44...♘xg5 doesn't make any progress either after 45.♘d7 ♘xh3 46.♔d4 ♘f2 47.c5 dxc5+ 48.♔xc5 ♘e4+ 49.♔d4 ♘d6 50.♔c5 g5 51.♘f6 and black can make no further progress.
45.♔e4 ♘xg5+ 46.♔xf4 f6 47.h4 ♘f7 48.♔e4 with an equal position.
44.♘a3 ♘e7 45.♘b5 ♘c8 This is a critical position because thanks to his 43rd move he was in terrific time pressure and black is threatening to win the c-Pawn with ...Kb4 and ...Nb6. 46.♘bc3 ♔b4 Wade could still have held the game by attacking the d-Pawn. Instead he makes a time pressure blunder and loses. 47.♘a2+
47.♘b5 ♗e5 48.h4 ♔b3 49.♘d2+ ♔b4 50.♘e4 and there is nothing black can do except take the draw.
47...♔b3 ...and wins. 48.♘ac3 ♘b6 49.♘e2 ♗e5 50.♘c1+ ♔a3 51.♘e2 ♘a4 52.♘2c3 This seals his fate.
52.♘c1 ♘b2+ 53.♔c2 ♘xc4 54.♘d3 would have allowed him to put up stiffer resistance. 54...♗h2 55.♘f6 ♔a4 56.h4 ♘e3+ 57.♔d2 ♘f5 58.h5 gxh5 59.♘xh5 ♔b3 60.♘hf4 c4 61.♘c1+ ♔b2 62.♘fe2 ♗e5 Zugzwang
52...♘xc3 53.♘xc3 ♗xc3 54.♔xc3 ♔a4 The c-Pawn is lost and with it the game. A tough loss for Wade.
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Monday, March 29, 2021

Reshevsky Could Still Play

     The 1957-58 US Championship, the tenth, was played in New York City and was on the anniversary of the First American Congress, the event that had heralded the arrival of Paul Morphy a century before. The 1957-58 Championship also heralded the arrival of a new player who was soon to establish himself as one of the world's best, Bobby Fischer. 
     For several years there had always been doubts that the championship could be played at all due to the USCF's perpetual financial crises that dated back to 1948.
     In the case of the 1957-58 event a small group of men, mostly wealthy members of the Manhattan Chess Club, banded together and formed the American Chess Foundation which declared that they would choose the best players for small, topflight events and finance them. The result to date had been three strong Rosenwald invitational tournaments and three matches. Reshevsky won two of the tournaments and Evans and Bisguier tied in one. Reshevsky also defeated William Lombardy, Arthur Bisguier and Donald Byrne in matches. 
     For the 1957-58 event, the fourth Rosenwald, the USCF agreed to let it be designated as the 10th US championship and as the FIDE zonal tournament. A most magnanimous gesture considering the USCF didn't have any money. The first two finishers qualified for further tournaments to select a challenger to Mikhail Botvinnik for the World Championship. 
     Fischer had been quite active in 1956 and 1957, was attracting a lot of attention, and had been featured in several issues of Chess Review and newspaper articles. Even so, most players considered Reshevsky to be the favorite. Others considered as challengers to Reshevsky were Larry Evans and Robert Byrne, who declined his invitation at the last minute. William Lombardy was considered a dark horse. 
     Arthur Bisguier reckoned that Fischer might score a little over 50 percent. Bisguier was wrong. Fischer started with a win and two draws, including his draw with Reshevsky in round three. After 5 rounds he was a half point behind Reshevsky with 4-1 score, but then came five straight wins. Reshevsky lost a whopping (for him) two games (to Sherwin and Lombardy). In the end, Fischer finished a whole point ahead of Reshevsky.  
     The May 5th issue of Chess Life had the 11th national rating list with the ratings of 3,350 players. In addition to the below list of top players there were 60 rated Masters which included 2231 rated Robt. J. Fischer of Brooklyn, NY.
     The above mentioned paucity of funds on the part of the USCF had a good explanation. In those days it was not always a requirement to belong to the USCF to play in tournaments. Chess Life noted that of the rated players only 1,022 were actually members of the USCF. Worse yet, only only 61 percent were class players (i.e. rated below 2000). Organizers were required to pay a fee of 10 cents per game (about $0.94 in today's dollars) to get their tournament rated. 
     USCF membership was $5.00 which was actually pretty hefty because it figures to be almost $47.00 today. That five dollars would buy you almost 21 gallons of gas, or over 16 pounds of hamburger, or 9 dozen eggs or 25 loaves of bread.
  Although Fischer would soon make everyone forget about Reshevsky, the old man (age 46) could still play. In the following game Reshevsky emerged from the opening with an inferior game when he resorted to a variation of the Sicilian that the Russians had recently been experimenting with. The belief that Reshevsky never studied openings is simply not true. However, Pal Benko once observed that, surprisingly, Reshevsky had a poor memory for them! 
      Bisguier played accurately and by move 12 Reshevsky had an unpleasantly camped position, but he remained calm and relying on fortitude and confidence, he waited for Bisguier to err which he did when he chose risky continuation as was typical for him. 

Arthur Bisguier - Samuel Reshevsky

Result: 0-1

Site: US Championship New York

Date: 1957.12.29

Sicilian: Taimanov

[...] 1.e4 c5 2.♘f3 e6 Rershevsky was partial to the Dragon, but in this game he decided to experiment with what came to be known as the Taimanov Variation which at the time the Russians had been using and obtaining good results. 3.d4 cxd4 4.♘xd4 a6 Allowing white to play the Maroczy Bind with 5.c4 if he wishes, but Bisguier has no interest because beginning in the 1950s, the Bind had became less feared. The ninth edition of Modern Chess Openings which was published in 1957 stated that Black had "worked loose" from the strictures of the Bind. 5.♘c3 ♕c7 This prevents white from playing e5 and at the same time black toys with the idea of ...Bb4. 6.♗d3 ♘c6 7.♘xc6 bxc6 8.O-O Bisguier has played the opening logically and he is better developed and so his prospects are good. 8...♘f6 9.♕e2 d6 Reshevsky decides on passive strategy. Today 9...d5 is almost always played, but he didn't like it even though he knew it was better. 10.f4 ♘d7 Preventing white from playing e5.
10...♗e7 11.e5 ♘d5 12.exd6 ♗xd6 13.♘e4 ♗xf4 14.♗xf4 ♘xf4 15.♕g4 Here Reshevsky felt, and engines agree, that white has good attacking chances.
11.b3 ♗e7 12.♗b2 O-O 13.♖ae1
13.♔h1 is correct. 13...♗b7 14.♖ae1 ♘c5 15.♕g4 e5 16.♗c4 ♘d7 17.f5 ♘f6 18.♕h3 d5 with equality. Forster,R (2370)-Masserey,Y (2350)/Horgen SUI 1995
13...♗f6 14.e5 dxe5 15.♘e4 ♗h4 16.fxe5 ♗xe1 17.♕xe1 ♘xe5 18.♘f6+ gxf6 19.♕g3+ ♔h8 20.♕h4 1-0 Kanarek,M (2506)-Gbyl,A (2262)/Zgierz POL 2018
11.♔h1 ♗e7 12.♗d2 O-O 13.♖f3 ♘c5 14.♗e3 ♘xd3 15.cxd3 with equal chances. Sokolov,A (2505) -Kurajica,B (2530)/ Novi Sad 1984
11...♗e7 12.♖f3 Typical enterprising play by Bisguier. He is preparing a K-side attack should black play ...O-O. 12...♖b8 13.♘a4 (13.b3 ♗f6 is awkward for white.) 13...♗f6 14.♖b1 a5 15.c4 ♗a6 As Reshevsky pointed out this is th only logical square for this B. On b7 he if he wanted to get any use out of it he would have to play ...c5, but that would give white an excellent square for his N on b5. An interesting bit of GM logic! 16.♖c1 h5 Black has abandoned any intention of castling. 17.♖ff1 ♗e7 An odd move that invites white to play Bd4. 18.♗d4 Reshevsky was critical of this which he said ignores black's plan.
18.♔h1 Reshevsky 18...h4 19.♗d2 h3 20.g3 c5 This OK now that the N cannot reach b6 21.♗c3 This was Reshevsly's suggested plan. 21...♗f6 22.♗xf6 ♘xf6 with equality.
18.b3 looks promising. 18...h4 19.♕f3 and white stands well.
18...e5 19.♗c3
19.fxe5 ♘xe5 would have, according to Reshevsky, give black a strong bind in the center. Apparently Bisguier agreed, but Komodo 12 disagrees evaluating to position as quite equal.
19...exf4 This looks risky, but Reshevsky judged that it gives him some good chances of success. 20.♗xg7 Reshevsky thought that white should have played 20.Rb1, but Bisguier was never one to shrink back from complications and, in fact, engines confirm his judgment that the text is best. 20...♖h7 21.♗c3 ♘e5 22.♗d2 Bisguier is to anxious to win a P and lets the advantage slip. (22.b3 ♗g5 23.♖cd1 ♖h6 24.♕e1 ♗c8 25.♗e2 and white is better.) 22...♕a7+ 23.♔h1 ♕d4 24.♖f3 Well played! Giving up the exchange keeps the chances even. (24.♗b1 ♗xc4 25.♕f2 ♕xf2 26.♖xf2 ♗b5 27.♘c3 ♗h4 is very good for black.) 24...♘xf3 25.♕xf3 ♖h6 A precautionary move against white's opening up lines with the advance of his e-Pawn.
25...h4 After this black must play precisely to avoid falling into serious trouble. 26.e5 ♖h6 27.♗xf4 ♖e6 28.exd6 ♗xd6 29.♗xd6 ♕xd6 30.♖f1 ♖b7 31.♕g4 wiht equal chances.
26.♗xf4 ♖f6 Reshevsky commented that with the exchange to the good, black should encounter no serious difficulties in scoring the point. An interesting comment as no engine gives black the slightest advantage. In Shootouts using Stockfish and Komodo white scored all draws. 27.g3 This parries the "threat" of ... Rxf4 and ...Qxd3, but it is a serious mistake.
27.♗e2 keeps the balance after 27...♖e6 28.♗d3 ♖d8 29.b3 ♖f6 30.♖d1 d5 31.cxd5 ♖xf4 32.♕xf4 ♗xd3 33.♕g3 cxd5 34.e5 with complications.
27.b3 This allows black to carry out his "threat." 27...♖xf4 28.♕xf4 ♕xd3 but white has an escape... 29.♘c5 dxc5 30.♕xb8+ ♕d8 Now an ending without Qs would favor the two Bs, but white can keep the Qs on with 31.Qe5 with both sides having chances, but a draw seems a reasonable outcome.
27...♗c8 With this move Reshevsky repositions his B to a more useful diagonal. 28.♔g2
28.♖e1 was slightly better. 28...♗g4 29.♕e3 ♕xe3 30.♖xe3 h4 and black is slightly better.
28...♗g4 29.♕f1 Better was 29.Qe3 when white can continue the fight. Now Reshevsky has a crusher. 29...h4 After this all that remains is for Bisguier to resign.
29...♖xf4 While Reshevsky's move is more than adequate, this is even more powerful because it takes advantage of white's loose pieces 30.gxf4 ♕e3 31.♖e1 ♕d2+ 32.♗e2 ♗h4 33.♖d1 ♕c2 34.♘c3 ♖xb2 White has to lose material.
30.b3 (30.gxh4 ♖xf4 31.♕xf4 ♕xd3 32.♕xg4 ♕d2+ wins a R.) 30...hxg3 31.hxg3 ♔d7 32.♗e2
32.c5 ♖h8 (32...dxc5 33.♖c4 traps the Q.) 33.♖c4 ♗h3+ 34.♔f3 ♖xf4+ 35.gxf4 ♕g7 36.♕c1 ♗e6 is winning for black because white's K is too exposed to be defended.
32...♗xe2 33.♕xe2 ♖xf4 It is very important to note that without this move black has no more than equality! It shows the importance of being alert until the very end.
33...♖g8 This would be a bad mistake. 34.♖d1 ♕xd1 (34...♕a7 35.♗e3 ♕b8 36.e5 and white has the initiative.) 35.♕xd1 ♖xf4 36.♘c5+ ♔c8 37.♘d3 ♖fg4 38.♕e1 ♗h4 39.♕xa5 ♖xg3+ with a likely draw.
34.gxf4 ♖g8+ 35.♔f3 ♗h4 White resigned as there is no way to meet .. .Rg3
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