30 June 2009

An Ugly Positional Blunder

It's been three weeks since I last looked at Fischer - Reshevsky, Match 1961 (Game 5), and it's time to move on. I mentioned in my introduction to the game that there are many points where Kasparov was critical of the moves played in the game. The first such move occurred in the diagram. For me, the most striking aspect of the position is the Pawn on h4. Fischer explained it with, 'White has to create some Kingside threats before Black consolidates and piles up on the d-Pawn.'

Black played 16...Nd5. Kasparov gave the move '?!' and noted, 'A standard relieving maneuvre, but here it loses strength, since the g5-Bishop is defended by the h-Pawn. 16...Qd6 was better.'

1961 Match (game 5)
Fischer, Robert

Reshevsky, Samuel
(After 16.Ra1-c1)
[FEN "2rqr1k1/pb2bp1p/1pn1pnp1/6B1/3P3P/P1NQ1N2/1PB2PP1/2R1R1K1 b - - 0 16"]

The game continued 17.Ne4 f5. Fischer wrote, 'I knew this was an "ugly positional blunder", but I actually thought Black would get the better of it after 18.Nc3 Bxg5 19.hxg5 Nxc3 20.bxc3 Na5!, threatening ...Bxf3 and ...Qxg5.'

After Reshevsky's 18.Nc3, White's position is the same as in the diagram, while Black has made the moves ...Nd5 and ...f5, and is on move. Now there occurred 18...Bxg5 19.Nxg5, instead of 19.hxg5 as Fischer had assumed, 19...Nf4 20.Qe3, where Kasparov again assigned '?!' to White's last move..

This is one of those positions worthy of the title 'The Critical Moment'. Fischer gave 20.Qg3? Nh5 21.Qe3 Nxd4, but Kasparov demonstrated that both 22.Ba4 and the earlier 21.Qf3 are good for equality.

Instead of 20.Qe3 or 20.Qg3, Kasparov, taking an idea from Dvoretsky, showed that 20.Qf3 is the strongest move in the position. I won't repeat his copious analysis here, but Kasparov's opinion is

Only with the far from obvious 20.Qf3! was it possible to exploit the main defect of the 'ugly positional blunder' 17...f5?! -- the weakening of the Black King. Now, however, [after 20.Qe3] Black can take on d4 and a double-edged struggle develops.

Earlier, when discussing 17...f5, Kasparov gave the move '!?' and called it 'the best practical chance'. Indeed it was.

29 June 2009

Every Move Explained

One of the most popular features I created on About.com was the series I called 'Every Move Explained'. Along with the promised explanation per move, each game in the series had a diagram for every move, allowing the entire game to be followed without the use of an external board. To make the feature I used About's image gallery tool, and the result is shown below.

If you look closely you can see that the first thumbnail shows the start position, the second shows the position after 1.e4, the third shows 1...e5, and so on. Clicking on a thumbnail opened a page explaining that particular move, together with a larger diagram showing the position after the move. The pages for each move were linked together and scrollable both forward and backward.

After I uploaded the images for the game, About's software automatically created the thumbnails, which were of a higher quality than I get with the image gallery tool I'm using now. See La Bourdonnais' Curious Positions for an example.

My first attempt at recreating one of these features is Every Move Explained : 1844 Romantic Game. Instead of thumbnails and scrollable pages per move, it is a single, long page (a very long page!) with diagrams and explanations for all moves. I might try to redo it with the same software used for 'Curious Positions', but I'm almost certain I'll be disappointed with the results.

For the full series of features on Archive.org (the first nine of the 12 I created), see Index of Every Move Explained. This includes the original of 1844 Romantic Game.

28 June 2009

The Soviet Qualification Cycle

The chart on the left is similar to the chart I used in 'Premier League' and 'First League', except it shows the stages of the USSR Championships in their logical order.

The example I worked out for 1978 showed Kasparov qualifying from the year's 'SL' (selection tournament) into the 'CH' (USSR championship, aka 'Premier League'). Igor Ivanov, the runnerup at the 1978 'SL', qualified into that year's '1L' ('First League').

Another example that I worked out for 1973, showed the top player from each 'SF' (semifinal) qualifying into the 'CH', while the next 4-5 players qualified for the '1L'.

According to Rusbase and as shown in the chart, these two qualifying patterns (SL->1L->CH and SF->1L->CH) were used in different formats between 1971 and 1991. A study of each year might show variations in the qualifying cycles, but that goes beyond my objective here.

The year 1973 was the first year a '1L' took place. Was this a response by the Soviet Federation to Spassky's defeat by Fischer in the 1972 World Championship?

26 June 2009

Fischer's Last Interview

Here's part five of a radio interview.

Bobby Fischer Tells You Why Chess is Boring and Tells You His Favorite Players (10:09) • 'Part 5 of Bobby Fischer's last interview. He tells you why he doesn't like chess anymore and who his favorite past player is. You might be surprised.'

The previous parts are mainly rants about subjects other than chess.

  • Part 1 • 7:05 Fischer mentions 'current issue of Newsweek, October 16, 2006'
  • Part 2 • 6:04 Interviewer states his name
  • Part 3
  • Part 4

In Part 4, Fischer quotes Taimanov,

When grandmasters play, they see the logic of their opponent's moves. One's moves may be so powerful that the other may not be able to stop it, but the plan behind the moves will be clear. Not so with Fischer. His moves did not make sense, at least to all the rest of us they didn't. We were playing chess. Fischer was playing something else, call it what you will. Naturally there would come a time when we finally would understand what those moves had been about, but by then it was too late. We were dead.

I've heard similar about Fischer from other sources, and ditto about Karpov.

25 June 2009

Embedded Books

Remember when all books that Google had scanned were available via Google Books? Times have changed and, in response to the uproar about copyright violations, there are now only a limited number of full books available, mainly -- you guessed it -- old books in the public domain.

Times might change, but changed or not, Google never sits still. In The Next Edition of Google Books [googleblog.blogspot.com], Google announced, 'We've added a feature that allows you to embed previews of books in your blog or website, so you can share pages of your favorite books as easily as you would a YouTube video'. Here's an example.

Unfortunately, fitting the embed into the Blogspot.com container renders the text nearly unreadable. Click on 'More about this book' to get a readable font and to learn that the essay is from 'The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Register for British India and its Dependencies', v. 5, 1818.

23 June 2009

Entries for 2009 CJA Awards

The Chess Journalists of America (CJA) have announced Entries Received for Chess Journalist Awards 2009, where the deadline for submitting entries was extended to 15 June 2009. Since several entries are marked as having been received on that date -- and a few after that date, where the Chief Judge submitted his own work -- it appears the list of entries is complete. Unlike previous years, when most entries were represented only by a reference to a paper copy, all but a handful of the 2009 entries are represented by a PDF file, meaning they can be read online by one and all.

Last year, blogs had their own category (see 2008 Awards Announcement), but this year the Call for Entries explains that blogs have been combined with two other categories: '9. Best Chess Website: Open to news sites, “blogs”, state websites, and so on. Special award given to the best example of each type of website.' [Why the “” around the word 'blogs'?].

The CJA's home page mentions Nominations Received for 2009 Chess Journalist of the Year ('Note that the Award is for work done during the last year, not for their career'), where the nominees are Alexandra Kosteniuk, Dan Heisman, and Mark Donlan.

The awards have a checkered reputation. The 2006 Awards gave the Chess Journalist of the Year award to that year's Chief Judge and it's indisputable that many of the writers are amateurs writing about chess for the fun of it. The upside is that no one appears to take the awards too seriously although there is definitely some prestige attached to them. Expect to see the winners announced around mid-August.

22 June 2009

Vacation Pieces

What's a vacation piece? It's what I call an article that I write while on vacation, when there are no references at hand to confirm facts. Everything is written off the top of my head. Here are two.

By coincidence, both were plagiarized elsewhere on the web. I must be doing something right!

21 June 2009

'Premier League' and 'First League'

The chart on the left is an extract of a similar chart I used in my post on the Rusbase USSR Championships. I chose the first year (1971) arbitrarily, because most preceding years showed the same format. The last year (1991) was the 58th and last of the Soviet championships. They event became the Russian championship in 1992.

As for the other columns, the column headed 'CH' is the annual USSR championship and 'SF' shows the number of semifinal events leading to that championship, but what do the columns headed '1L' and 'SL' represent? Rusbase defines these as '1 League' and 'Selected Tournament', but that terminology is not self-explanatory. Furthermore, why do the semifinals stop in 1973, then resume for a few years in 1980? And why do the '1L's jump from 1 to 2 in 1984.

I set out to answer these questions and started by looking at Rusbase. The first '1L' event -- 1 League of 41 Championship of USSR Tbilisi, 4-28.10.1973 -- shows an 18-player round robin where the first six players were Vaganian, Dzindzichashvili, Vasiukov, Furman, Razuvaev, and Bronstein. The page also gave the additional information 'Average Elo: 2474 <=> Cat: 9 gm = 11.90 m = 8.50'. [As an aside, were the FIDE rules governing ratings and title norms already in effect at that time, or has Rusbase extrapolated current rules to historical data?]

The four 1973 semifinals were all played in June-July, and I worked out that the players who finished in first place were all seeded into the 41st championship -- 'Moscow 2-26.10.1973 (Average Elo: 2558 <=> Cat: 13 gm = 9.52 m = 6.12)' -- which was held at the same time as the 'Tbilisi 4-28.10.1973' event. The players who finished just behind first place in the semifinals were all seeded into Tbilisi, and they accounted for all 18 players except for Bronstein, who appears to have received a special pass into Tbilisi. Vaganian, who finished first at Tbilisi on tiebreak over Dzindzichashvili, played in the '42 Championship of USSR Leningrad 30.11-23.12.1974'. Was he seeded from Tbilisi or is this a coincidence? Dzindzi didn't play in the 42nd championship.

Assuming that '1L' meant 'Premier League', I switched to Google. The first stop was a Wikipedia page 1976 in Chess.

Serving as a warm-up for the main Premier League Soviet Championship in Moscow (see above), the First League Championship is held in Minsk. Remarkably, this 'second-string' event is still stronger than any other national championship and the entry includes Mark Taimanov, Alexander Beliavsky, Lev Alburt, Gennady Kuzmin and Semyon Furman. Making the headlines however, are Iosif Dorfman who wins convincingly with 11½/17, ahead of Vitaly Tseshkovsky, Evgeny Sveshnikov and Nukhim Rashkovsky (all 10/17).

The reference 'see above' refers to the 44th Soviet Championship, won by Karpov, who had become World Championship by default in 1975. Since Rusbase confirmed '1 League of 44 Championship of USSR in Minsk, 1976' and '44 Championship of USSR in Moscow, 1976', I now assumed that '1L' meant 'First League', and changed my search term accordingly. This brought up another Wikipedia page, Josif Dorfman, also with info on 1976.

Dorfman played in several USSR championships. In 1975, he took 13th in Yerevan (43rd URS-ch; Tigran Petrosian won). In 1976, he tied for 5-7th in Moscow (44th URS-ch; Anatoly Karpov won). One of his most emphatic victories occurred in qualification for this championship, at the 1976 First League tournament, where he finished 1½ points clear of the field (+6, =11).

Now I was on the right track. Another Wikipedia page, on Igor Vasilyevich Ivanov, mentioned,

Ivanov did qualify for the 1975 Soviet Championship First League; this event, with several Grandmasters in the field, was still one stage below the top level at that time. [...] He shared first place with Garry Kasparov (future World Champion), in the Soviet Championship qualifying tournament held at Daugavpils, 1978. But for the 64 players, only one place was open to the Soviet Championship Premiere League [MW: note 'Premiere'], and Kasparov won this on tiebreak. Ivanov qualified again for the lesser but still significant First League of 1979.

Rusbase again confirmed that 'Ivanov I.' played in the '1 League of 43 Championship of USSR in Kishinev, 1975', as well as the 1976 Minsk event, won, as we just saw, by Dorfman. More interesting was the mention of Kasparov. Chapter 5 of his book 'Fighting Chess' (1983 edition, with the assistance of Schiller and Wade) is titled 'Top League! : Otborochnii at Daugapils', and starts,

The Otborochnii (Qualifying) Tournament stage of the 46th USSR Championship held in the Latvian town of Daugavpils had 64 grandmasters and masters competing in a 13-round Swiss system event for one place in the Top League (final) Tournament and a further eight players for places in the (semi-final) First League Tournament.

The 15 year old schoolboy, Gary Kasparov [MW: that's how he spelled his first name early in his career], took the giant step into the Top League by virtue of a streak of 5.5 points from six from rounds 2-8 and a superior Bucholz tie-breaker. And this meant into the top echelons of world chess.

Gary's co-winner, Igor Ivanov, who started with two losses and then reeled off six straight wins before being contained by Gary in 40 moves in round 9 [MW: i.e. a draw], had to be content with a place in the First League, shared 14th place there and thus failed to reach the Top League. What such minute differences lead to!

Rusbase confirmed

Now I was on firm ground. I had the meaning of 1L ('First League') and of SL ('Selected Tournament', although 'Selection Tournament' and 'Qualifying Tournament' are better terms); a Russian transliteration for SL ('otborochnii'); two synonyms for the USSR Championship ('Premier League' and 'Top League'); and a better understanding of the qualification process for the Soviet championships. I also had a little more information about a crucial step in Kasparov's career.

As for my other questions -- 'why do the semifinals stop in 1973' and 'why do the 1Ls jump from 1 to 2 in 1984' -- they will have to wait for another day.

19 June 2009

North Laines Chess Graffiti

Chess work © Flickr user ohnoitsdaveoh under Creative Commons.

'Taken in North Laines, Brighton'; click to the Flickr.com page for a map.

18 June 2009

You Be the Judge

USCF's (Kronenberger) version: from Kronenberger Motion For Summary Judgment


5. Plaintiff is Susan Polgar ("Plaintiff' or "Polgar").

6. Defendants are United States of America Chess Federation, Inc. ("USCF"), Bill Goichberg, Individually and in his representative capacity as a member of the Executive Board of the USCF, Jim Berry, [Randy Bauer, Randall Hough, Bill Hall]; Brian Mottershead; Hal Bogner; Continental Chess Incorporated; Jerome Hanken; Brian Lafferty; Sam Sloan; Karl S. Kronenberger; and Kronenberger Burgoyne, LLP.

7. Third-Party Defendant is Paul Truong ("Truong").

A. Kronenberger was engaged by the USCF.

8. As this Court is likely aware, one of the Defendants, Sam Sloan, on October 2, 2007, filed a lawsuit styled Sam Sloan v. Hoainhan "Paul" Truong, et al., Cause No. 1:07-cv¬08537-DC, in the United States District Court, Southern District of New York. Sam Sloan sued many of the same parties that had been sued by Plaintiff in this lawsuit. Sam Sloan also sued Plaintiff in the New York lawsuit. See Exhibit B (Appendix, p. 59).3 The Sam Sloan New York lawsuit was filed before the USCF engaged Kronenberger.

9. In the Sam Sloan lawsuit, Sam Sloan alleged that Plaintiff, along with her husband, Truong, were engaging in vicious personal attacks against Sam Sloan, as detailed in the so-called "Mottershead Report."' Mr. Sloan alleged that Plaintiff and her husband began making thousands of internet postings that were defaming Sam Sloan. Sam Sloan claimed that Plaintiff and/or her husband were impersonating people and were making it appear that Sam Sloan had done all sorts of bad acts. Sam Sloan also alleged that as a result of the personal attacks, he was not re-elected as an Executive Board member for the USCF. Meanwhile, Plaintiff and her husband were elected as board members. When Sam Sloan sued the USCF and many of its board members and alleged that at least two of its board members (Plaintiff and her husband) had done such alleged bad acts, it put the USCF in a delicate situation as it was faced with the situation where a former board member was suing the USCF and at least two of its current board members. Importantly, there was a clear conflict of interest between Polgar and Truong, on the one hand, and the USCF, on the other hand.

10. Ultimately, the USCF's insurer obtained counsel to represent the USCF and several of the Defendants in the Sam Sloan New York lawsuit. Moreover, the USCF's insurer later engaged a separate counsel to represent Plaintiff and Truong. Although the New York lawsuit was eventually dismissed and appealed, Sam Sloan has stated his intention to continue to appeal the decisions made against him and/or pursue other litigation. Consequently, the USCF and many other Defendants appear to be caught between a much larger and ongoing conflict between Plaintiff and Truong and Sam Sloan.

11. In defending the Sam Sloan litigation, the USCF began investigating the claims contained in the Mottershead Report, being made in Sloan's complaint against two of the USCF's current board members, Plaintiff and her husband, Truong. To assist the USCF in its investigation, the USCF engaged a firm with an attorney familiar with the internet issues in dispute, Kronenberger. As seen by Exhibit A, Tab 1 (Appendix, p. 9), the USCF, not Plaintiff, engaged Kronenberger. Plaintiff knew that Kronenberger was engaged for several purposes, including representing the USCF in investigating the allegations in the Mottershead Report and in the Sam Sloan litigation.

B. Kronenberger begins investigating as requested by the USCF.

12. One of the first things that Kronenberger did once engaged was to recommend that the USCF form a separate legal subcommittee, which did not contain Polgar or Truong as members, as it was unclear at the time whether or not Plaintiff and/or Truong did the alleged acts; additionally, the legal subcommittee needed to confer confidentially because Polgar and Truong were potentially adverse to the USCF in the Sloan litigation. In investigating the allegations in Sam Sloan's lawsuit, Plaintiff's husband was specifically asked to deny having any involvement with the fake Sam Sloan postings, and Truong refused to so specifically deny the accusations in writing. More specifically, Kronenberger stated as follows in his letter dated November 29, 2007 to Truong:

• Formally admit or deny, in writing, whether you were involved in the "Fake Sam Sloan" postings, or had knowledge of who made such postings;

• Provide the IP address of all your home and work internet connections since 2005, or provide consent for the Board to obtain and cooperate in the Board obtaining, such IP addresses from ISP's and other entities;

• Provide all information that would support your argument that you were not located at your computer(s) at the time of alleged Fake Sam Sloan postings, to include information relating to your travel;

• Comply with the foregoing on or before December 7, 2007.

See Exhibit A, Tab 2 (Appendix, p. 15). Truong did not respond to the letter. Instead, Truong's wife, Polgar, began communicating with Kronenberger on behalf of her husband. Truong did not deny the claims in writing. Truong did not provide access to his computer. Truong did very little to try to demonstrate he was innocent.

13. Instead, Truong and Polgar continued making litigation threats against the other board members. The USCF began experiencing other new issues in having a former board member, Sloan, sue the USCF and two of its current board members, and then the two current board members began threatening the other board members, and meanwhile the USCF is still having to defend many specific allegations against two current board members, Plaintiff and Truong. Even more unfortunate, the threatened claims became actual litigation when Plaintiff filed this lawsuit. If they were truly innocent, one would have thought that Plaintiff and Truong would have cooperated and/or better cooperated in the investigation of the claims and in defense of the claims being made by Sam Sloan.

14. Meanwhile, after the legal subcommittee was formed to address such issues, highly sensitive attorney-client privileged emails that Kronenberger sent to the legal subcommittee members appeared in Plaintiffs possession. See Exhibit A, Tab 4 (Appendix, p. 37). In the privileged emails, Kronenberger was providing legal advice to the USCF about its legal position vis-à-vis Polgar and Truong in the context of the Sam Sloan litigation. Plaintiff obtained possession of attorney-client emails. Plaintiff then refused to state how she specifically obtained the emails. Plaintiff was not a recipient of the emails, and she refused to cooperate in an investigation trying to uncover how and why she received stolen emails. One would have also thought that Plaintiff and Truong would have cooperated with regard to investigation pertaining to the stolen emails. However, instead of cooperating with the continuing investigations, Plaintiff eventually filed this lawsuit against the various defendants. Again, the filing of this lawsuit has continued to put many of the Defendants in a delicate situation of being faced with conflicting claims of being sued both by Mr. Sloan, Mr. Parker, and Plaintiff in various different proceedings. Other than the USCF and Randy Hough (whose email account was hacked into), no other defendant has brought any claims against Plaintiff.

15. On August 7, 2008, Plaintiff sued Defendants for various claims.

Susan Polgar's version: from Susan Polgar's First Amended Complaint (16 March 2009)

37. After release of the Mottershead Report, the USCF and its Executive Board members, Defendants, Hall, Hough, Bauer, Goichberg and Berry, shopped the false and defamatory Mottershead Report to various internet fraud investigation firms who could help them build their case against Truong. The first firm presented with the Mottershead Report declined to help stating such a claim that Truong was the FSS would be impossible to prove. The second firm presented with the Mottershead Report stated that the Report contained discrepancies after preliminary review.

[Despite Susan Polgar’s multiple requests in writing, Defendants Goichberg and Hall repeatedly refused to allow Polgar and her experts the opportunity to examine the validity of the Mottershead Report and any supporting evidence.]

The third firm the USCF presented with the Mottershead Report were Defendants Karl Kronenberger and Kronenberger Burgoyne, who agreed to accept the case. When the USCF, and its full Executive Board, including Polgar and Truong, hired Karl Kronenberger and his firm, it was with the understanding that Kronenberger represented the entire USCF Executive Board, including Polgar and Truong, and that his function would be to help the USCF determine the real identity(ies) of the Fake Sam Sloan.

38. When Sloan sued the USCF in New York in October 2007, the USCF carried a policy of insurance with Chubb which paid for a defense of the New York lawsuit for the USCF and its Executive Board members, Polgar and Truong included. In or around November 2007, Defendant Kronenberger conspired with the USCF and Defendants Hall, Hough, Bauer, Goichberg and Berry to contact Chubb and persuade it (Chubb) to refuse to extend coverage to Polgar and Truong, which would force Polgar and Truong to defend the lawsuit with their own funds and create for them serious financial hardship. Defendant Kronenberger suggested this idea and the Board voted 5-0 to authorize defendant Kronenberger to contact Chubb insurance. The Board refused Polgar and Truong the opportunity to participate in the vote per the suggestion of Defendant Kronenberger.

39. In 2008, every Defendant named herein remained consumed and absorbed by the task of seeing Polgar and Truong removed from their Executive Board positions with the USCF. In June 2008, in conspiracy with Defendants USCF, Hall, Hough, Bauer, Goichberg and Berry, Defendants Kronenberger and Kronenberger Burgoyne unlawfully filed a “doe” lawsuit in California Superior Court. This lawsuit failed to identify any defendants by name and instead, sought an order from the court allowing Kronenberger and the USCF to conduct ex parte discovery which could lead to defendants they could name in the suit.

There are fundamental differences in these two versions. What questions would you ask to determine the truth? • See also Polgar's Original Complaint (6 August 2008) and (Warning! : Sam Sloan commentary) Polgar Raises the Stakes.

16 June 2009

Unclear : 1986 Yusupov - Timman

Continuing with Unclear Positions, the next position is from game 9 of the Yusupov - Timman Candidates Quarterfinal match played in 1986 at Tilburg in the Netherlands. Yusupov won the game, thereby clinching victory in the match.

1986 Candidates Quarterfinal Match (game 9)
Timman, Jan

Yusupov, Artur
(After 16...Qa4-a2(xP))
[FEN "r1b1r1k1/p4pbp/1p4p1/n1pPp2P/4P3/2PB1Q2/q3NPP1/2BRK2R w K - 0 17"]

Black has just accepted a Pawn sacrifice, leaving the Queen out of play on the Queenside. Annotating for Informant, Yusupov assigned his next move 17.Bh6 a '!?' symbol, meaning speculative, and indicated that his alternative was 17.Bg5 f6∞ (unclear). Timman played 17...Bh8?, overlooking the loss of the exchange with 18.Bb5 Rd8 19.Bg5.

Instead of 17...Bh8, Yusupov suggested 17...Bxh6, then 18.hxg6 fxg6 19.Rxh6 Bd7 20.Qf6 Rf8. Now White has the choice between 21.Rxg6+ with a perpetual check or 21.Qxe5 Ba4∞. This is a recurring theme: a player goes into complications with a draw in hand, planning to evaluate the position when it appears on the board and is easier to calculate.

Rybka indicates that after 21.Qxe5 Ba4, or 21...Rf7, White keeps the perpetual in hand with 22.Qg5. To play through the complete game see...

Artur Yusupov vs Jan Timman, Tilburg 1986

...on Chessgames.com.

15 June 2009

Beyond Beginner

The material collected at Links related to my About.com material has become unbalanced. The page on Learn to Play Chess ('From Beginner to Advanced Beginner') has more than 30 links, while the page on Improve Your Chess Game ('From Advanced Beginner to Intermediate') has only a handful. I'll spend time adding material to the second page, starting with tips on How To Improve at Chess.

14 June 2009

Rusbase USSR Championship Finals

Continuing with Rusbase USSR Championships, I noted that there were '200 Championships of different types (CH)'. Here's how they break down (count, first year on Rusbase, last year, type of championship final):-

42 1934-1993 JUN:Juniors
32 1934-1989 JUT:Juniors team
19 1939-1981 KOL:Farmers
13 1953-1985 KOT:Farmers team
  3 1992-1994 RUS:Championship of Russia (1992+)
32 1961-1993 STD:Young masters
  1 1961-1961 URM:Championship of USSR (1961)
58 1920-1991 URS:Championship of USSR

I suppose KOL & KOT are codes meaning 'kollectiv' or similar. The code URM is a convention to differentiate the two USSR championships held in 1961:-
- 28th Championship of USSR in Moscow, 1961
- 29th Championship of USSR in Baku, 1961

12 June 2009

Gumby Plays Battle Chess

Stop action chess videos are a dime a dozen, but this one is different. It took some time to make.

Most unusual chess game (1:55) • 'Make women laugh and fall in love. Secrets of attracting women with humor. Results guaranteed.'

I didn't invent that description, that's what it says. Makes me wonder if the clip wasn't 'borrowed' to sell the book: Make Women Laugh - Attract Beautiful Women Using Humor. At first glance I thought the game was a Marshall Gambit...

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.Qe2 b5 6.Bb3 Be7 7.c3 O-O 8.O-O d5 9.exd5 Nxd5 10.Nxe5 Nf4 11.Qe4 Nxe5 12.Qxa8 Qd3 13.Bd1 Bh3 14.Qxa6 Bxg2 15.Re1 Qf3 16.Bxf3 Nxf3#

...until I noticed 5.Qe2.


Later: In a comment, Tom Chivers informed, 'The game's from 2001 A Space Odyssey I seem to recall (we featured it a while back!).' A search on his blog located the post at Best Chess Video Ever?, which in turn located the original video at scacchi clay stop motion - chess clay stop motion (548,565 views, 1610 comments). The description there gives more information about the clip.

claymation of the chess game Roesch - Willi Schlage (Hamburg, 1910). The position after 13...Bh3, and the ones that follow, were used in Stanley Kubrick's movie "2001: A Space Odyssey" for the game between Frank Poole and the HAL-9000 Super Computer. • Music by Edward Grieg : In the Hall of the Mountain King.

I'll add this post to Category:Gaffes, because I should have been more alert to the discrepancy between the video content and its description. At the time I wrote the post I considered searching for the original clip, but couldn't think of an efficient way to do it.

Why would someone use a chess video to promote a book about picking up women? Maybe I should add it to Category:Mysteries as well. Done!

11 June 2009

Elastic Maneuvering II

Following up my post on Elastic Maneuvering, the first Karpov game with this theme that made an impression on me was played in 1986. From the diagrammed position the game continued 16.Qc2 Rfd8 17.Rd1 Bg4 18.Rd2 Bh3 19.Bh1. Karpov won a Pawn on the 30th move, getting a 5-4 Kingside Pawn majority (Pawns on the defgh-files vs. efgh). He then went on to convert this to a win in a type of ending that many commentators would summarize as a 'matter of technique'. I suspect that there is much in common between maneuvering and technical play.

Bugojno 1986
Ljubojevic, Ljubomir

Karpov, Anatoli
(After 15...Qd8-d7)

The complete game is on Chessgames.com at Anatoli Karpov vs Ljubomir Ljubojevic; 05, Bugojno 1986. Not too surprisingly, because Karpov's style is often unappreciated, there is no kibitzing on the game.


A couple of comments on the previous post showed other areas for research.

Tom Chivers: 'I think Rowson talks about something similar in one of his books, although not with that phrase, maybe with an example by Nikolic or something?'

Wahrheit: 'Yes, it was Nikolic - Gallagher in "[Chess for] Zebras." But I recall that Nimzovich wrote about "tacking" (I wish I could recall the German original) in his books 80 years ago, and I think it was a very similar concept.'

Re Rowson, Chessgames.com is missing the Nikolic - Gallagher game, but I found a likely candidate on Chesslab.com.

[Event "Bundesliga 2000-1"]
[Site "Castrop Rauxel GER"]
[Date "2001.??.??"]
[Round "6"]
[White "Nikolic,Pr"]
[Black "Gallagher,Jo"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2657"]
[BlackElo "2514"]
[ECO "E60"]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nf3 Bg7 4.g3 O-O 5.Bg2 d6 6.O-O Nbd7 7.Nc3 e5 8.e4 a6 9.dxe5 dxe5 10.Qc2 c6 11.h3 b5 12.Be3 Bb7 13.c5 Qc7 14.Rfd1 Rfd8 15.a4 Nf8 16.b4 Ne6 17.Rxd8+ Rxd8 18.axb5 axb5 19.Ra7 Ra8 20.Rxa8+ Bxa8 21.Qa2 Bb7 22.Qa7 Nd7 23.Ne2 Qb8 24.Qa2 Qa8 25.Qd2 Nf6 26.Ng5 Nf8 27.Qd3 Bc8 28.Kh2 Bd7 29.Nf3 Ne8 30.Bd2 Be6 31.Bc3 f6 32.Nd2 Qc8 33.f4 Qd7 34.Qc2 exf4 35.Nxf4 Bf7 36.Nf3 g5 37.Ne2 Ng6 38.Ned4 Ne7 39.Qb2 h6 40.Qa1 Kh7 41.Nd2 Nc7 42.Nf1 f5 43.Nxf5 Nxf5 44.exf5 Bxc3 45.Qxc3 Qxf5 46.Ne3 Qe6 47.Qd3+ Kg8 48.Qd8+ Ne8 49.Ng4 Kf8 50.Qd4 Ng7 51.Ne5 Nf5 52.Qe4 Be8 53.Nxc6 Qxe4 54.Bxe4 Bxc6 55.Bxc6 Nd4 56.Be4 Ke7 57.Kg2 Ke6 58.Kf2 Ke5 59.Ke3 Ne6 60.Kd3 Nc7 61.Bc6 Na6 62.Bxb5 Nxb4+ 63.Kc4 Nd5 64.Be8 Nc7 65.Bh5 Ke4 66.Bd1 Ke5 67.Bf3 Ke6 68.Kb4 Kd7 69.Ka5 h5 70.Kb6 h4 71.g4 Ne6 72.Be4 Nc7 73.Bf5+ Kd8 74.Kc6 Ne8 75.Bg6 Nc7 76.Bf7 Na6 77.Kd6 Nc7 78.Bc4 1-0

Re tacking, the last chapter in Nimzovich's My System is titled 'Maneuvering Against Weaknesses', and Part V of his Chess Praxis is titled 'Alternating Maneuvers Against Enemy Weaknesses when Possessing Advantages in Space'. In contrast to Nimzovich's insistence on weaknesses, the Dolmatov quote in my previous post suggested the method 'if neither side has any positional advantage (or if it is insufficient to bring tangible results)'.

In the above diagram from the example Karpov game, Black has weaknesses in (1) the b-Pawn on a diagonal controlled by White, and (2) the c-Pawn on a semi-open file which can be controlled by White. What about Karpov games where he won without weaknesses, moving 'to and fro in what looks like an aimless manner', as Dolmatov described it. Finding specific Karpov games on this theme is not trivial, but I'll take a crack at it.

09 June 2009

Many Roads Lead to Fischer - Reshevsky (game 5)

Continuing with Fischer - Reshevsky, Match 1961 (Game 5), the game started 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 d5 4.cxd5 Nxd5 5.Nf3 c5 6.e3 Nc6 7.Bd3 Be7 8.O-O O-O 9.a3 cxd4 10.exd4 Nf6, reaching the position shown in the diagram.

1961 Match (game 5)
Fischer, Robert

Reshevsky, Samuel
(After 10...Nd5-f6)
[FEN "r1bq1rk1/pp2bppp/2n1pn2/8/3P4/P1NB1N2/1P3PPP/R1BQ1RK1 w - - 0 11"]

When I researched this opening, I was surprised to find that most games reaching the diagrammed position started 1.e4 instead of 1.d4. A little more research showed why.

Of the ~150 games I found, about two-thirds started 1.e4, and two-thirds of those continued 1...c5. Now the most common move was 2.c3 (two-thirds again), followed by 2...d5 3.exd5 Qxd5 4.d4 e6 5.Nf3. Now there are many transpositions to arrive at the diagram, but the most common continuation was 5...Nf6 6.Bd3 Nc6 7.O-O cxd4 8.cxd4 Be7 9.Nc3 Qd8 10.a3 O-O. In this line, instead of using two tempi on ...Nxd5 & ...Nf6, as in the Fischer - Reshevsky game, Black uses them on ...Qxd5 & ...Qd8.

The players can vary at several points, but the roads eventually offer a return to Fischer - Reshevsky. For example, many games continued 2.Nf3, when White played c2-c3 later. Also possible is 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3 d5 4.exd5 Qxd5 5.cxd4.

Most of the other 1.e4 games that were not Sicilians, were Caro-Kanns. For example, 1...c6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 cxd5 4.c4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e6 6.Nf3 Be7 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.Bd3 Nc6 9.O-O O-O 10.a3 Nf6. Another path after 1...c6 is 2.c4 d5 3.exd5 (3.cxd5 cxd5 4.exd5 is the same) 3...cxd5 4.cxd5 Qxd5 5.Nc3 Qd8 6.d4, and it's easy to see that the game can follow the same direction as before.

Two other paths after 1.e4 are 1...d5 2.exd5 Nf6 3.c4 c6 4.d4 cxd5, and 1...e6 2.d4 c5 3.c3 d5 4.exd5 Qxd5. The diagrammed position can arise after different moves leading to closed games -- 1.c4 (1...c6 2.e4), 1.d4 (as in Fischer - Reshevsky), and 1.Nf3 -- all known transpositions that lead to other positions as well.

08 June 2009

Judge to USCF EB: 'Sit Down and Work This Out'

For the 2007 USCF Executive Board (EB) Election, I had a voice but no vote. In the About.com weekly article 2007 USCF EB Election, I supported Susan Polgar and Paul Truong in their quest for EB seats, but the USCF did not allow members residing overseas to vote in the election.

For the 2009 USCF EB Election, I have a vote but no voice, unless you consider this little blog to be a voice. The USCF changed its rules on overseas members and I received the official ballot at the end of last week, a day before receiving the June 2006 issue of Chess Life, containing the candidates' final statements.

How to vote? The USCF is at a crossroads and may not survive long enough to hold the 2011 EB Election. If you haven't been keeping up with the issues, follow my chain of posts starting with the most recent (see More on the USCF Election) or read independent analysis of the situation from 'The Oldest Newspaper in Illinois': Chess battles rage in court, not on boards.

The issues at stake are not limited to a theoretical dispute between chess organizers who dislike each other. They are already touching people who work full time for chess -- USCF Sued by Board Member; Personnel Budget Cut 20% [USchess.org; June 3, 2009; many comments] -- and if allowed to continue unchecked, will touch everyone who is a member of the USCF.


On 13 April, some pertinent observations were made by Judge Marilyn H. Patel in the California case [the USCF lawsuit on email hacking].

I'm sure there are a lot of members out there who are concerned about what's going on, how their money is being spent; and, you know, their ability to compete, for example, worldwide may be affected. All kinds of things can be affected by this behavior that's going on. So first of all I will tell you what I'm going to do on the motion. But before I do that I think I may talk to the judge in Texas [Polgar's lawsuit], and I will -- I don't know if we need to talk to the one in Illinois [the USCF lawsuit to remove Polgar & Truong from the EB] or not -- and everybody agree to send this matter to mediation or some kind of arbitration.

And we have some very, very senior, experienced people in the court's ADR panel who have had a lot of experience doing mediating. They run the program here now, but occasionally they do some of the mediation, and I think that they would -- one of them, particularly Mr. Bolling would have a lot of experience in terms of trying to mediate something like this. There's a couple of sports mediators. I know somebody who was a dean of a law school back in New York who mediates a lot of, you know, basketball, particularly, you know, the NBA and things like that, and somebody who has got some mediation experience to sit down with these people and work out some sort of resolution.

Number one, husband and wife should not be on the board, so one of them ought to resign. Number two, [the USCF] ought not to have all of this filing of lawsuits without an actual resolution by whatever members of the board would have to vote in favor of bringing such a lawsuit, and the first thing they ought to do is save the organization's money and try to find a way of -- you know, there are other ways besides filing expensive lawsuits.

[ADR: Alternative Dispute Resolution, Wikipedia].


THE COURT: [The litigation] does have the overtones of [a food fight], but there's a lot of emotion involved. Well, I tell you what I'm going to do. I'm going to refer it to Mr. Bolling [a mediator], and I'm going to talk to the judge in Texas and talk to the judge in Illinois, too.

But I think that I would leave it to Mr. Bolling to meet with you and find out -- Who are the members of the boards? Who is being sued? Who would be the parties? Who would be the persons best to have available either in person or by phone for a mediation? And you may have to have one round of mediation just to figure some of that out and to essentially set up the protocol for the mediation, and then let him determine -- 'cause that's his field of expertise -- what should happen: Who should be there? How should it be structured? How much of this can be included in it? And also, you know, in the discussion of settlement -- all of the cases.

And also trying to find out if there isn't some way as part of this resolution of amending some of the bylaws to make sure that there are ways of resolving these kinds of disputes in the future, and also trying to minimize the friction among various board members that is apparently is going on. It's got to be a not very pleasant session to have a board meeting with this bunch.

MR. KRONENBERGER [the USCF's counsel]: Well, Ms. Polgar and Mr. Truong -- usually they just won't attend. It's not that bad from the perspective --

THE COURT: What's the point of having them as board members?


THE COURT: You can sit down in any room together, not on the phone -- in person, face-to-face and work this out; okay? It's amazing how much you can work out when you do that. I know he's the enemy, but --

MR. LEIGH [Polgar's counsel]: Hope springs eternal.

THE COURT: There seems to be a new mood in the air out there about talking to the enemy now; right? So you got to do that. Both of you.

To be continued...

07 June 2009

Rusbase USSR Championships

Continuing with The Real Rusbase, the database lists 429 USSR Championships (instead of 419 as I counted in Events Covered by Rusbase using an older version of the database). For individual championship events, each with a separate web page, Rusbase uses a naming convention for the pages that provides additional high level data about the event. The types of championships are shown in the following table, along with a count of that type on the database.

21 • 1L • 1 League
200 • CH • Championships of different types
63 • QF • Quarterfinal of Championship of USSR
123 • SF • Semifinal of Championship of USSR
16 • SL • Selected tournament ; e.g. '1974: Selected tournament of 42 Championship'
3 • TO • Tournament of cities
3 • ZT • Quarterfinal of Championship of USSR

The number of events of each type per year is shown in the following table. The database isn't perfect. According to their description, events marked 'ZT' should be marked 'QF' and one event marked 'SL' is in fact an 'SF', but those are minor defects.

1920 :11
1923 :112
1924 :112
1925 :1113
1927 :11
1929 :11
1931 :112
1933 :11
1934 :314
1936 :22
1937 :11
1938 :224
1939 :22
1940 :112
1941 :112
1944 :134
1945 :235
1946 :134
1947 :23712
1948 :2810
1949 :24713
1950 :35715
1951 :34916
1952 :34916
1953 :24915
1954 :336
1955 :3339
1956 :3339
1957 :2338
1958 :3418
1959 :437
1960 :437
1961 :628
1962 :538
1963 :448
1964 :527
1965 :437
1966 :448
1967 :44
1968 :527
1969 :448
1970 :426
1971 :448
1972 :448
1973 :4419
1974 :6118
1975 :4116
1976 :5117
1977 :5117
1978 :6118
1979 :4116
1980 :4419
1981 :54110
1982 :3418
1983 :3418
1984 :4329
1985 :53210
1986 :3227
1987 :3227
1988 :4239
1989 :426
1990 :314
1991 :33
1992 :213
1993 :33
1994 :11

I'll take a closer look at the types of events in future posts.

05 June 2009

Lots of Chess Sets

Tags: barcelona chess games © Flickr user Slugicide under Creative Commons.

I count more than 60.

04 June 2009

Tips and Tricks

Make that A Tip and a Trick, each from two of my favorite web sites. First, here's a tip about Chess.com, where there is a lot of great content that is available whether you're a member (it's free) or not. The page Chess.com Daily Columns points to the latest columns, instructional or otherwise, by Chess.com's pool of well known GMs and IMs. The newest columnist to join the team is IM Jeremy Silman, who took over the Q&A niche where Your Questions Answered By Andrew Martin (last column: no.16) left off.

As for the trick, Chessgames.com User Profile, a forum maintained by Chessgames.com admins, recently announced a new method of linking to its games.

Here's a small feature which won't mean much for most users, but it may help some webmasters and book authors who want to link to games at Chessgames.com as concisely as possible. We call the feature "shortcut URLs". From now on, if you type a 7-digit chess number code immediately after chessgames.com/ you will go straight to that game.

For example, game #1008361 is Bobby Fischer's famous Game of the Century (D Byrne vs Fischer, 1956). Previously to link to this game you would need to go here:


But now, with shortcut URLs, you can write this:


Once you click on the shortcut URL you will be instantly redirected to the longer version. The main purpose of this feature is to encourage printing URLs to our games in printed media. We want the web addresses as short as possible in cases where people are expected to type the link in by hand.

You may also find it helpful to use shortcut URLs in private email correspondence, as some mail clients are notorious for screwing up long URLs.

Try it by entering www.chessgames.com/1008361 into your browser address bar. Works nice! Since I often link to Chessgames.com when I discuss a historical game, I'll be using the feature myself.

02 June 2009

Fischer - Reshevsky at Auction

Once again curiosity got the better of me. After posting on the latest Fischer auction (see Fischer Loot Again at Auction), I crawled the Bonhams.com auction site to see if any other Fischer material had surfaced there recently. I was rewarded with the page Sale 16116 - Fine Books and Manuscripts, 15 Oct 2008; Los Angeles and New York; Lot No: 1220:

Autograph Manuscript Signed integrally (“Fischer”), 31 pp recto and verso, 12mo, n.p., 1959-1963, being a chess notebook used by Fisher during the time period and including a record of 13 games played against SAMUEL RESHEVSKY plus manuscript notes on the games in progress...

Thumbnail of 7696182-1-1.jpg
The image on the page was a scoresheet showing the same game that I covered two months ago in Fischer - Reshevsky, Match 1961 (Game 2). What a coincidence! I don't believe the scoresheet is from the match itself. The sheet isn't signed and the preprinted text is in Serbian. Another page reporting on the final sale -- Rare Moliere and ‘Out of this World’ von Braun Papers Shine at Bonhams Fine Books & Manuscripts Sale -- mentioned that the lot sold for almost five times its estimate.

Too bad Fischer's name is spelled 'Fisher' three times in the description of the lot, including the title ('BOBBY FISHER’S CHESS NOTEBOOK'). At least the word 'chess' was spelled correctly throughout.

01 June 2009