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Friday, April 30, 2021

The First Grandmaster

     Bell's Life magazine was founded by Robert Bell who sold it to the owner of The Observer in 1824 or 1825. From 1824 to 1852 Bell's Life was Britain's leading sporting newspaper, without which no gentleman's Sunday was quite complete.
     From around 1830 it gave increasing coverage to racing and this soon comprised more than a third of the paper, following general news and followed in its turn by other sporting news (notably boxing but all other sports too). 
     It is believed that the first time the term grandmaster was used was when a correspondent writing to Bell's Life in 1838 called the English player William Lewis (1787–1870) "our past grandmaster." 
     Born in Birmingham, as a young man Lewis moved to London where he worked for a merchant for a short period. He became a student of Jacob Sarratt, but in later years he showed himself to be rather ungrateful towards his teacher. Although he considered Sarratt's Treatise on the Game of Chess (published in 1808) a poorly written book, in 1822 Lewis published a second edition of it three years after Sarratt's death. This was in direct competition with Sarratt's own superior revision published posthumously in 1821 by Sarratt's poverty-stricken widow. In 1843, many players contributed to a fund to help the old widow, but Lewis was not one of them.
     Around 1819 Lewis operated the famous automation, the Turk. He suggested to owner Johann Maelzel that Peter Unger Williams, a fellow ex-student of Sarratt, should be the next person to operate inside the machine which Williams later did.
     Lewis visited Paris along with Scottish player John Cochrane in 1821, where they played with Alexandre Deschapelles, receiving the advantage of Pawn and move. Lewis won the short match with a win and two draws. Lewis' career as an author began at this time and included translations of the works of Greco and Carrera. 
     He was the leading English player in the correspondence match between London and Edinburgh in 1824, won by the Scots (+2 = 2 -1). Later, he published a book on the match with analysis of the games. 
     During the period of 1834–36 he was also part of the Westminster Chess Club that lost two games in a match against the Paris Chess Club. Starting from 1825 he preserved his reputation by the same means that Deschapelles used in France, by refusing to play anyone on even terms. In 1825 Lewis founded a Chess Club where he gave lessons. 
     He was declared bankrupt in 1827 due to bad investments on a patent for the construction of pianos and his chess club was forced to close. The next three years were difficult, but in 1830 he got a job that assured him of solid financial security for the rest of his life and it allowed him to focus on writing his two major works: Series of Progressive Lessons (1831) and Second Series of Progressive Lessons (1832). The first lessons were elementary while the second concentrated on openings and for the first time the name Evans Gambit was used. 
     Eventually Lewis realized that he could no longer give the English players a handicap and so he gradually withdrew from active play. After retirement he wrote other chess books, but the positional ideas of the new generation players was beyond him and so his last book (A Treatise on Chess) that was published in 1844 was already out of date.

William Lewis - Jonathan Wilson

Result: 1-0

Site: London

Date: 1819

Sicilian Gran Prix Attack

[...] 1.e4 c5 2.f4 An early example of the Grand Prix Attack! Today practically all practitioners play 2.Nc3 and 3.f4. 2...e6
2...d5 3.exd5 ♘f6 This gambit was invented/discovered by Mikhail Tal back in 1979. In this line black sacrifices a P or two for rapid development and white's weak Ps give black sufficient compensation for the material. The main line runs 4.♗b5+ ♗d7 5.♗xd7+ ♕xd7 6.c4 e6 7.♕e2 ♗d6
3.♘f3 d5 4.♗b5+ ♗d7 5.♗xd7+ ♘xd7 6.e5
6.♘c3 dxe4 7.♘xe4 ♘gf6 8.♕e2 ♗e7 9.O-O O-O 10.b3 is equal. Aubert,L-Mercier,J (2215)/France 1989
6.exd5 exd5 7.O-O ♗d6 8.d4 ♘e7 9.♘c3 O-O Equals. Gillian,A-Ionescu,C (2465)/Debrecen 1992
(6.d3!?⩲) 6...♘h6 7.c3 ♗e7 8.d4 Not really bad, but 8...O-O and ...f6 was more active. 8...c4 9.O-O b5 10.♗e3 ♘f5 11.♕e2 ♘xe3 12.♕xe3 h6 13.♘bd2 a5 14.h3 ♘f8 15.♘h2 ♘h7 16.♕e2 At the time all this positional maneuvering was rare, but now in a completely even position black slips up and badly weakens his position. A good move was 16...b4 or even 16...O-O 16...g5 17.f5
17.♕h5 This move also packs a pretty good punch. 17...♕d7 18.♘g4 gxf4 19.♘xh6 ♘g5 20.h4 and black only has one good move... 20...♘h3+ 21.gxh3 ♗f8 22.♕xf7+ ♕xf7 23.♘xf7 ♔xf7 24.♖xf4+ with the advantage.
17...exf5 This results in his getting a lost position,
17...♕d7 would have limited the damage. 18.f6 ♗d8 19.♕h5 b4 20.♘g4 ♘f8 21.♘xh6 but here also black is in a difficult situation.
18.♖xf5 Black's position can safely be considered lost. 18...O-O 19.♕h5 ♖a6 20.♘g4 ♕b6 21.♖af1 ♕e6 For what is wa worth 21...Qg6 trading Qs was a smidgen better. 22.♖1f3
22.♖xf7 would have ended the game. 22...♖xf7 23.♘xh6+ ♔h8 24.♘xf7+ ♔g8 25.♘h6+ ♔h8 26.♕e8+ and wins
22...b4 By this time Q-side play is far, far too late, but there really wasn't anything better. 23.♘f1
23.♖xf7 This is the most forceful. 23...♕xf7 24.♖xf7 ♖xf7 25.♘xh6+ ♖xh6 26.♕xh6
23...bxc3 24.bxc3 ♕g6 25.♘g3 (25.♕xg6+ ♖xg6 26.♘fe3 was an equally good alternative.) 25...♔g7 Even trading Qs would not have helped his defense. 26.♘e3 ♕e6 27.♘g4 ♕g6 28.♕xg6+ fxg6 29.♖xf8 ♘xf8 30.♘e3 ♘e6 31.♘xd5 It may be something of a surprise that the game hasn't ended in with tactical demonstration, but just wait. 31...♗a3 32.♖f6 ♗c1 33.♘e4 ♘c7 There is no explanation for this that I can think of, but he was lost anyway! 34.♘xc7 ♖a7 35.♘d6
35.♘e6+ Mates in 5 35...♔h7 36.♖f8 ♗e3+ 37.♔f1 ♖f7+ 38.♖xf7+ ♔g8 39.♖f8+ ♔h7 40.♘f6#
35...♔h7 36.♘de8
36.♖f7+ leads to a forced mate. 36...♔g8 37.e6 ♖b7 38.e7 ♗e3+ 39.♔f1 ♖b1+ 40.♔e2 ♖b8 41.♔xe3 ♔h8 42.e8=♕+ ♖xe8+ 43.♘cxe8 a4 44.♘f6 a3 45.♖h7#
36...♗e3+ 37.♔f1 ♗d2 38.♖f7+ ♔g8 39.e6 ♗xc3 (39...♔h8 40.♘f6 ♖xc7 41.♖xc7 a4 42.♖h7#) 40.♘f6+ ♔h8 41.♖h7# The Arabian Mate, the oldest checkmate pattern in the history of the game. Very nice play by Lewis in a game that could have been played in modern times!
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Thursday, April 29, 2021

Martinolich and Tartakower Switch Roles

     Recently I posted on the Leopold Trebitsch Memorial Tournament of 1914 also known as Vienna 1914. By chance I ran across the game Martinolich vs. Tartakower from the first Trebitsch Memorial.     
     The first memorial was organized by the Vienna Chess Club in 1907 with funds bequeathed to it by Leopold Trebitsch, a wealthy businessman who had been vice-president of the club until his death on December 12, 1906, a month before the tournament. 
     The tournament had a strong field and as Dr. Julius Perlis wrote, "The result was a triumph for players who favor brilliancy in preference to ultra-modern tendencies, Mieses and Duras admittedly producing some of the most effective examples of contemporary chess from the spectacular point of view." Mieses' victory was one of the most notable achievements of his career. 
     In today's featured game Tartakower defeats the virtually unknown Italian master Giovanni Martinolich (1884-1910, age 26) in a game in which the roles of the attacker and defender are reversed when Martinolich played the dubious Gledhill Attack against Tartakower's French Defense. 
     Martinolich was born in Trieste and was the unofficial Italian champion in 1906. He learned chess from his father at the age of 16 and after after beginning his studies in Vienna in 1901 he showed rapid improvement. He has several success in tournaments in Austria and Italy. He died suddenly of heart disease at the age of 26.

Giovanni Martinolich - Savielly Tartakower

Result: 0-1

Site: Vienna

Date: 1907.01.11

French Defense, Gledhill Attack

[...] 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.♘c3 ♘f6 4.e5 ♘fd7 5.♕g4 This is the enterprising Gledhill Attack; it suits the style of an aggressive attacker, but is of doubtful value theoretically. As C.S. Howell observed, "It seldom happens that a closed defense can be smashed by sandbag tactics in the early stages." 5...h5 Even at the time this game was played the universally accepted move was 5...c5. Regarding his move Tartakower explains: In conjunction with his next move black proceeds without delay to deny the white Q access to g3. 6.♕g3 h4 7.♕g4 As will soon be clear it would have been better to play the Q to f4 to guard the e-Pawn. 7...c5 8.♘f3 cxd4 If his Q was on f4 he could play 9.Nxd4, but as it is he must now lose time to regain the P. 9.♘b5
9.♕xd4 won't do because after 9...♘c6 10.♕f4 Black can regain the P with the advantage with ...a6 (to prevent Nb5), ...g6 and ... Bg7
9...♘c6 10.♗f4 a6 11.♘bxd4 ♘xd4 12.♘xd4 ♕b6 Seizing the initiative (Tartakower) 13.O-O-O
13.♘b3 Shielding the b-Pawn in this way runs into 13...♕b4+ 14.c3 ♘xe5 15.♕xe6+ fxe6 16.cxb4 ♗xb4+ with a considerable advantage.
13...♘c5 14.♗e3 ♗d7 15.♔b1 ♕c7 (15...g6 16.♗d3 ♕c7 17.♘b3) 16.f4 ♖c8 17.♖c1 (17.♗d3!?±) 17...♘a4 This contains a hidden trap if white plays a routine move like 16.Bd3 18.c4
18.♗d3 ♘xb2 This is what Tartakower intended though it's not quite as strong as 18...Qb6. 19.♘xe6 (19.♔xb2 ♕c3+ 20.♔b1 ♗a3 mates) 19...♗xe6 20.f5 ♘c4 21.♗xc4 ♕xc4 22.♕xc4 ♖xc4 23.fxe6 fxe6 and black is better.
(18.♗d3 ♕b6 19.b3 ♘c3+ 20.♔b2 ♕b4 wins.) 18...♕b6 19.b3 ♕b4 20.♗d3 This turns out to be a serious mistake. White's defensive task is difficult, but adequate after 20.Nd2
20.♘c2 keeps things equal after 20...♘c3+ 21.♔b2 ♘a4+ 22.♔b1 and black can take the draw or try 22...♕c3 However, after 23.bxa4 ♗xa4 24.♕e2 it is white who stands better.
20...b5 Shaking the defenses of white's K (Tartakower). Actually, after this move the chances remain equal.
20...dxc4 was better. After 21.♗xc4 ♘c3+ 22.♔a1 ♖xc4 23.bxc4 ♘xa2 24.♔xa2 ♕a3+ 25.♔b1 ♕xe3 26.♖hd1 ♗a4 27.f5 ♗xd1 28.♖xd1 ♖h6 black has the advantage.
21.f5 was an interesting try. 21...♘c3+ 22.♔a1 ♘xa2 23.fxe6 ♗xe6 24.♘xe6 ♘xc1 25.♗xc1 bxc4 26.♘d4 with complications.
21...♘c3+ It's interesting that in previous variations the move Ka1 was correct, but here it is the losing move! 22.♔a1
22.♖xc3 absolutely had to be played after which the chances would be equal. 22...♕xc3 23.♕e2 ♗a3 24.d6 with equality.
22...♕a5 Tartakower fails to take advantage of the opportunity white's last move gave him.
22...♘xd5 should win without difficulty after 23.♕e2 ♘xe3 24.♕xe3 ♖xc1+ 25.♖xc1 ♗c5
23.♖c2 ♘xa2 (23...♘xd5 24.♗d2 ♕b6 is also equal.) 24.♖xc8+ For a second time white plays a losing move.
24.♖xa2 ♕c3+ 25.♖b2 ♗a3 26.♕e2 ♗xb2+ 27.♔a2 Best as now white stands slightly better. (27.♕xb2 ♕xd3 28.♕d2 ♖c3 29.♕xd3 ♖xd3 30.♖e1 exd5 is very good for black.)
24...♗xc8 25.dxe6 (25.♔b2 ♕a3+ 26.♔c2 ♘b4+ 27.♔d1 ♘xd3 was not much better.) 25...♘b4+ 26.♔b2 ♕a2+ 27.♔c1 ♘xd3+ 28.♔d1 ♘f2+ 29.♗xf2 ♕xf2 30.exf7+ White's attacking gesture looks far better than it is. 30...♔xf7 31.f5 ♗c5 32.♕g6+
32.e6+ ♔g8 33.♘f3 ♖h6 34.♕e4 ♖f6 35.♖e1 (35.e7 gets white mated after 35...♖d6+) 35...♗e7 and white, a piece down, cannot do anything.
32...♔f8 33.♘f3 ♗b7 34.e6 White could have held out a bit longer with 34.f6, but in the end it would not have made any difference. 34...♗xf3+ 35.gxf3 ♕xf3+ 36.♔d2
36.♔c2 ♕e4+ 37.♔b2 ♗d4+ 38.♔c1 ♕xh1+ 39.♔d2 ♕xh2+ 40.♔d3 ♕g3+ 41.♔xd4 ♕xg6 42.fxg6 h3 43.♔e3 h2 44.♔d4 h1=♕ 45.♔c5 ♔e7 46.♔d4 ♕h2 47.♔c3 ♖h3+ 48.♔b4 ♕d6+ 49.♔a5 ♔xe6 50.b4 ♖a3#
36...♗b4+ 37.♔c2 (37.♔c1 ♕c3+ 38.♔b1 ♕d3+ 39.♔a1 ♗c3+ 40.♔a2 ♕d2+ 41.♔a3 ♕b2#) 37...♕c3+ 38.♔b1 ♕d3+ 39.♔b2 (39.♔a1 ♗c3+ 40.♔a2 ♕d2+ 41.♔a3 ♕b2#) 39...♗c3+ It's mate in two so white resigned.
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Wednesday, April 28, 2021

A Boleslavsky Brilliancy

     The 18th Soviet Chess Championship took place in Moscow from November 11th to December 11th, 1950. 
     Mikhail Botvinnik and David Bronstein were preparing for their upcoming world championship match and so they did not participate. In those days the Soviet Championships were stronger that many international tournaments and this one was no exception. Strongmen Smyslov, Boleslavsky and Flohr had mediocre results while Aronin, Lipnitsky and Tolush surprised everyone by keeping pace with the leaders. 
     When the last round arrived Keres and Tolush were tied and first place depended on their games. Tolush gained the advantage against Boleslavsky, but boogered up the ending after adjournment and had to accept the draw. The Averbakh vs. Keres game (an old fashioned Four Knights Game) was also adjourned and upon resumption Keres managed to squeeze out a draw in an interesting ending. It was the second of what would be three titles for Keres, and a return to form from having finished in the middle of the field in the previous two editions of the Soviet championship. 
     The following game has been praised by Nunn, Emms, Soltis and probably a lot of others. Soltis even listed it in the top 50 of the whole of the 20th Century.
     The winner, Isaac Boleslavsky, was a fantastic tactical player and although few realize it, at one time he was world championship material. See my post on him HERE
     His opponent, was a hydraulics engineer named Vladimir Alatortsev (1909-1987) who besides being a very strong player was also a chess author, and administrator. His heyday was in the 1930s. He held the championship of both Leningrad and Moscow and played in the Soviet Championship finals nine times. He semi-retired from tournament play in the early 1950s and concentrated on organizing, teaching and coaching. He never had the opportunity to compete outside the Soviet Union and in 1983 FIDE awarded him the title of Honorary Emeritus Grandmaster.

Vladimir Alatortsev - Isaac Boleslavsky

Result: 0-1

Site: Soviet Championship, Moscow

Date: 1950.11.20

King's Indian

[...] 1.d4 ♘f6 2.c4 d6 3.♘c3 e5 This begins as an Old Indian Defense in which black is going to develop his B on e7 rather than on g7. Mikhail Chigorin pioneered this defense late in his career and CJS Purdy recommended it for amateurs because it is less complicated than the K-Indian. 4.e4 This continuation was very popular during the 1950's. In my database it actually scores better than hte far more popular 4.Nf3. 4...exd4 This, too, is rarely played today, but it also gives better results that the main line 4... Nbd7. 5.♕xd4 ♘c6 6.♕d2 g6 Giving the opening a K-Indian flavor. 6.Be7 as in the Old Indian is also satisfactory.
6...♗e7 7.♗d3 O-O 8.b3 ♖e8 9.♘ge2 a5 10.♗b2 ♗f8 11.f3 ♘b4 is equal. Pinheiro,J (2260)-Galego,L (2435)/Lisbon 1995
7.b3 ♗g7 8.♗b2 O-O 9.♗d3 ♘g4 10.♘f3 ♘ge5 11.♗e2 11.Nxe5 is met by 11...exe5 and black has a nice outpost for his N on d4. 11...♘xf3+ 12.♗xf3 ♘d4 In this line also black has gotten the square d4 for his N. 13.♗d1 This looks artificial and not the kind of move one likes to make, but white decides to keep his light square defender and avoid having his P structure damaged.
13.h4 ♘xf3+ 14.gxf3 ♗d7 15.O-O-O followed by 16.h5 looks more promising.
13...f5 14.exf5 Theoretically (according to Komodo) the position is equal after this, but in practice it seems wrong to open up the position because black's pieces are more harmoniously developed.
14.O-O c5 15.exf5 ♗xf5 16.♘e2 d5
16...♘xe2+ 17.♗xe2 ♗xb2 18.♕xb2 ♗e4 is equal. Chabanon,J (2425) -Bricard,E (2470)/ Montpellier FRA 1996
17.cxd5 ♕xd5 18.♘xd4 cxd4 19.♗f3 with equality. Gasthofer,V (2380) -Czerwonski,A (2370)/Katowice POL 1993
14...♗xf5 15.♘e2 While this gets the N off d4 it turns out badly for white. He had to play either 15. O-O or 15.Nd5 15...♘xe2 16.♗xe2
16.♗xg7 is met by 16...♘f4 17.♗xf8 ♕f6 and black is winning! 18.O-O (18.♖c1 ♖e8+ 19.♗e2 ♖xe2+) 18...♕g5 19.♗g4 (19.g3 ♘h3+ wins the Q) 19...♗xg4 20.♗h6 ♕xh6 Black has a winning attack.
16...♗xb2 17.♕xb2 ♕g5 18.g3 ♖ae8 19.O-O ♗h3 20.f4 White was initially criticized by some for this move, it is actually the best he has. 20...♗xf1 Despite the presence of many of the world's best players, this move came as a complete surprise to nearly everyone who was present. It works because white is weak on the light squares. The logical looking 20... Qc5+ only results in equality after 21.Rf2! 21.fxg5 ♖xe2 According to Komodo 12 black's advantage here is only a slight one, but in a Shootout using Stockfish black scored +3 -0 =2. 22.♕c3 This can probably be considered the losing move.
22.♕d4 ♗g2 23.♖e1 ♖xe1+ (23...♗h3 24.♕d5+ ♔h8 25.♕d4+ draws) 24.♔xg2 b6 25.h4 would likely result in a draw.
22...♗g2 23.♕d3
23.♖e1 ♗h3 as in the previous note does not work because the Q checks are not available. From this position black has a won endgame. For example: 24.♕a1 ♖xe1+ 25.♕xe1 ♖f1+ 26.♕xf1 ♗xf1 27.♔xf1 ♔f7 28.♔f2 ♔e6 29.♔f3 ♔f5 30.h4 c6 31.a3 d5 32.cxd5 cxd5 33.a4 d4 34.g4+ ♔e5 35.a5 d3 36.♔e3 d2 37.♔xd2 ♔f4 and black picks off the K-side Ps.
23...♗f3 Another great move. Black threatens ... Rg2+ 24.♖f1 ♖g2+ 25.♔h1 Boleslavsky concludes the game in a truly outstanding way. 25...♗c6 26.♖xf8+ ♔xf8 27.♕f1+ ♖f2+ After this move the Q is lost and black remains a piece ahead so Alatortsev resigned.
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