28 February 2011

A Spanish Lesson

As I suspected in my first post on Fischer - Stein, Sousse 1967, the 11th and 13th World Champions were in such close agreement regarding the turning points of the game that there is little to weigh. The biggest point of disagreement was in the opening, where Kasparov had >35 more years of theory to draw on than Fischer had.

Both players were recognized experts in the Ruy Lopez during their respective peak playing years, and I learned a lot in studying Kasparov's notes. Retaining Kasparov 's explanations, but leaving out his detailed variations, gives a good overview of some key ideas in the Closed Lopez, and the following indented comments are all his. The game started 1.e4 e5, where Kasparov wrote,

Stein's avoidance of his usual Sicilian Defense, of his favorite Accelerated Dragon, is a first moral concession to the opponent.

That thought takes on special significance later in the game; see my last quote from Kasparov. There followed 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 O-O 9.h3, reaching the position shown in the first diagram, one of the best known positions in chess. Stein continued 9...Bb7, and Kasparov wrote,

Rare for that time. Earlier Stein had employed 9...Nd7, but 9...Na5, 9...h6, or 9...Nb8 was the main continuation.

Curious about current theory, I made a quick survey of the moves played by top players nowadays. I discovered that 9...Nb8 appeared in about 50% of recent games and 9...Na5 in 25%; the moves 9...Bb7 & 9...Re8 make up the rest with other moves played only rarely. After Stein's 9...Bb7, there followed 10.d4 Na5.

The time of the Zaitsev Variation, 10...Re8, had not yet arrived.

These days, 10...Re8 is just about the only move the top players consider. After 10...Na5, the game continued 11.Bc2 Nc4.

A very intricate plan: Black wants to take his opponent away from the well-trodden paths. The Knight is headed for d7.

12.b3 Nb6 13.Nbd2 Nbd7.

An inferior version of the Breyer Variation [9...Nb8] has arisen: White has already advanced his b-Pawn, but Black has not yet played ...Re8. [...] 13...Re8 was more logical. [...] Stein's play between the 9th and 13th moves is typical of the level of opening theory at that time, when there existed a rather light-hearted approach to the choice of variation for a forthcoming game: the main thing was to avoid routine, and then let's see what happens!

The line in the Breyer that Kasparov refers to is 9...Nb8 10.d4 Nbd7 11.Nbd2 Bb7 12.Bc2 Re8. Black is two tempi ahead of the current game, where there followed 14.b4; Fischer gave this move a '!', Kasparov a '!?'.

White's move is also typical of the level of opening theory at that time. Subsequent experience with the Breyer and Zaitsev Variations showed that the inclusion of b2-b3 is useful with 14.d5 c6 15.c4, or first 14.Nf1 Re8 15.Ng3. The fashion for handling 'Spanish' positions was set by Karpov, and after him, now without any doubts, there followed Anand, Leko, and others.

Now we find both players making concessions to pursue their respective goals; 14...exd4.

In search of counterplay Stein is obliged to concede the center.

15.cxd4 a5 16.bxa5.

Conceding the Queenside, in order to attack on the Kingside.

Black played 16...c5, arriving at the second diagram.

On 17.e5, Fischer once again gave his move a '!' against Kasparov's '!?'.

The thirst for an open fight! But perhaps the cool-headed 17.Bb2, followed by a2-a4 would have been more unpleasant for Black, gaining the c4-square for the Knight.


(Quoting Kmoch:) The text is more active than 17...Ne8, but also more dangerous for Black's King.

18.dxe5 Nd5 19.Ne4.

Again aggression. If 19.a4 or 19.Bb2, then 19...Rxa5 is quite acceptable.

19...Nb4 20.Bb1 Rxa5 21.Qe2.

The critical moment of the entire game has been reached.


(Quoting Fischer:) Quite possibly "the losing move". It is better to reserve this Knight for the defense of the Kingside. More prudent is 21...Re8 with ...Nf8 in the offing.

(Kasparov:) And indeed, after this Black would have retained a solid position. [...] It seems to me that Stein's fatal decision was a consequence of his 'Sicilian' habit, where Black often saves himself from attack on his King by the rapid creation of counterplay on the Queenside, and his insufficient experience in the 'Spanish', where on the contrary, Black must in the first instance take care of his King. as a result, Stein's sense of danger did not operate.

This game made a big impression on me when I first saw it many years ago. The Knight on b6 soon goes to c4, joining his fellow Knight on b4. The two Black Knights then sit on the wrong side of the board while their King undergoes a ferocious attack. If I had had access to Kasparov's notes the first time I saw the game, I certainly would have understood it more profoundly.

25 February 2011

Harley Quinn and Killer Croc

AngryZenMaster: 'I've always thought that behind his primitively gruff exterior, Killer Croc hid an inquisitive intellect. [...] Harley, too, has an intellectual streak. So pairing the two of them together for a friendly chess game just seemed natural to me.'

Harley and Croc Play Chess © Flickr user angryzenmaster under Creative Commons.

For more images, not playing chess, see Harley Quinn and Killer Croc.

24 February 2011

Gold for Fischer - Spassky

Fischer memorabilia generally sells well, even more so after the 11th World Champion died in 2008, but only rarely does an item appear in Top eBay Chess Items by Price. The item pictured below, titled 'Iceland 1972 Fischer-Spassky - World Chess - GOLD COIN' was an exception, most likely because of the price of gold rather than for the coin itself. It sold for US $850.00 at 'Best Offer'.

The description said,

For sale is this Icelandic Official 1972 world chess championship gold coin - Made by the Icelandic chess federation - The medal weighs 22 grams of 22 karat gold.

Since 22 karat gold is 91.6% pure and the price of gold is updated constantly ($1413 per ounce as I write this), the intrinsic value of the coin can be calculated exactly. At about the same time this coin was on offer, the seller had another auction.

For sale is this Icelandic Official 1972 world chess championship medal set - Made by the Icelandic chess federation - There are three medals in this set made out of gold, silver and bronz. The gold medal is 22 karat and weighs 20 grams - Silver medal is Sterling silver and weighs 20 grams - Bronz weighs at 20 grams as well.

Each coin in the set had a map of Iceland on one side and a pair of Knights on the other. The set sold for $995.00, also 'Best Offer'. I wonder how much these items sold for at the time of the 1972 match.

22 February 2011

Blogs @ Chess.com

The deadline is looming for another blog carnival, once again on the theme of chess instruction, and I have nothing suitable to submit. After noticing that neither of the last two carnivals featured any posts from Chess Blogs - Chess.com, I decided to survey the many blogs to be found there.

Chess.com maintains its own list of top blogs -- Top Bloggers - Last 60 Days -- but I wanted to look at all blogs. Currently third on the list of top blogs is Blunderprone, a mirror for the forthcoming carnival host, including the original announcement for the carnival: Come one! Came All! Chess Blog Carnival III Coming soon.

I've been following all Chess.com blogs for the last year or so. It's not hard to do, since each blog page and each blog aggregate has its own RSS feed. The blogs represent a real mixed bag, both in chess strength and in writing style. The biggest advantage of the site is that it offers chess specific tools for constructing a blog post like standard diagrams, game viewers, and puzzle constructors. The biggest disadvantage is that the posts don't seem to do particularly well in the search engines. If you don't follow them, you probably won't see them.

I looked at all Chess.com posts written since the beginning of the month and, if one seemed promising, looked at other posts on the same blog. The qualities for mention in this current post were: written in English, on topic, at least one post in the last month, more content than a single uncommented game in a viewer, at least five posts total, and (as specified for the carnival) instructional. I didn't pay much attention to each blogger's chess rating. Content and style count for a lot more than chess strength.

From that exercise I worked up a short list that was finally whittled down to the following list.

Two more blogs get special mention because they don't fit the same mold as the others.

The chess blogosphere has always been volatile. Good blogs appear out of nowhere, then disappear overnight. If you think I've overlooked a good *instructional* blog, just mention it in a comment.


Later: For some reason, call it intuition, I half expected this carnival submission to be ignored, but it was included in Chess Blog Carnival III: The Renaissance Faire Edition.

21 February 2011

Fischer - Stein, Sousse 1967

More than three years after starting this series on 18 Memorable Games, a comparison of annotations by Fischer and by Kasparov, I've finally reached the 18th and last game, no.60 in Fischer's 60 Memorable Games and no.75 in Kasparov's Predecessors IV. Except for two moves of Fischer's moves in the opening -- 14.b4 {FIS: '!'; KAS: '!?'} and 17.e5 {FIS: '!'; KAS: '!?'} -- the punctuation of the two former World Champions is nearly identical. That means I might not find a variation to investigate further.

[Event "Sousse izt"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "1967.??.??"]
[Round "7"]
[White "Fischer, R."]
[Black "Stein, L."]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C92"]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 O-O 9.h3 Bb7 10.d4 Na5 11.Bc2 Nc4 12.b3 Nb6 13.Nbd2 Nbd7 14.b4 {FIS: '!'; KAS: '!?'} 14...exd4 15.cxd4 a5 16.bxa5 c5 17.e5 {FIS: '!'; KAS: '!?'} 17...dxe5 {KAS: '!'} 18.dxe5 Nd5 19.Ne4 Nb4 {KAS: '!'} 20.Bb1 Rxa5 21.Qe2 {FIS: '!'} 21...Nb6 {FIS: '?'; KAS: '?'} 22.Nfg5 {FIS: '!'; KAS: '!'} 22...Bxe4 {FIS: '!'} 23.Qxe4 g6 24.Qh4 h5 25.Qg3 {FIS: '!'; KAS: '!'} 25...Nc4 {FIS: '!'} 26.Nf3 {FIS: '?'; KAS: '?'} 26...Kg7 27.Qf4 Rh8 28.e6 {FIS: '!'; KAS: '!'} 28...f5 29.Bxf5 {FIS: '!'; KAS: '!'} 29...Qf8 30.Be4 {FIS: '?'; KAS: '?'} 30...Qxf4 31.Bxf4 Re8 {FIS: '?'; KAS: '?'} 32.Rad1 {KAS: '!'} 32...Ra6 33.Rd7 Rxe6 34.Ng5 Rf6 35.Bf3 {FIS: '!'} 35...Rxf4 36.Ne6+ Kf6 37.Nxf4 Ne5 38.Rb7 Bd6 39.Kf1 Nc2 40.Re4 Nd4 41.Rb6 Rd8 42.Nd5+ Kf5 43.Ne3+ Ke6 44.Be2 {FIS: '!'} 44...Kd7 45.Bxb5+ Nxb5 46.Rxb5 Kc6 47.a4 Bc7 48.Ke2 g5 49.g3 Ra8 50.Rb2 Rf8 51.f4 gxf4 52.gxf4 Nf7 53.Re6+ Nd6 54.f5 Ra8 55.Rd2 {FIS: '!'; KAS: '!'} 55...Rxa4 56.f6 1-0

To play through the complete game, see...

Robert James Fischer vs Leonid Stein; Sousse izt 1967

...on Chessgames.com.

18 February 2011

Carlsen & Nakamura Playing Blitz

Sometimes you get tired of watching art videos, like What Makes a Perfect Game of Chess?, and just want to watch two of the world's best players go head to head at blitz.

World Blitz Championship (8:11) • Carlsen - Nakamura, Moscow 2010

To play through the moves of the game, see Magnus Carlsen vs Hikaru Nakamura; World Blitz Championship 2010 on Chessgames.com. GM Levon Aronian, another of the world's best players, won the event.

17 February 2011

The KGB and the Soviet School

While reading the 'The KGB Plays Chess: The Soviet Secret Police and the Fight for the World Chess Crown' by Boris Gulko, Yuri Felshtinsky, Vladimir Popov, and Viktor Kortschnoi [Korchnoi; Russell Enterprises, 1910], I noted a section of the Foreword by Boris Gulko that well summarized the rest of the book:-

At the heart of this book are the fates of six chess players. Five of them opposed the KGB. All of them attained their goals. [Boris Spassky, Viktor Korchnoi, Garry Kasparov, Boris Gulko, Anya (or Anna) Akhsharumova (Gulko's wife)]. Of course, these victories at times had to paid with years of imprisonment for people who were close to us, with ruined careers and nervous systems, with disappointments in various friends. But victories, as chess players know, must always be paid for.

The sixth major character in this book, Anatoly Karpov, fought on the other side of the barricades. And he, too, was successful. [vs. Korchnoi, vs. Kasparov, vs. the Gulkos] Now, when the leadership of the KGB has partly privatized Russia, Karpov has also received his piece of the pie.

I had to ask myself, 'When did the wonderful promise of the Soviet School of Chess, which achieved such great accomplishments in the royal game, start to sink so low?' In pondering this question, I stumbled on a chronology that is useful for defining its life cycle; the 'Five Stages of Evolution' of the Soviet School:-

  • Pre-Soviet School : before 1917
  • Early Soviet School : 1917 to 1948
  • Mature Soviet School : 1948 to 1972
  • Late Soviet School : 1972 to 1991
  • Post-Soviet School : after 1991

The years should be self-evident to anyone who dabbles in chess history. There is too much in the book that I haven't digested properly, so I'm not ready to comment on it, especially since it possesses obvious faults. In the meantime, here are three reviews by well known chess book reviewers.

Although I don't agree fully with any of these reviews, taken together they offer a comprehensive portrait of the book.

15 February 2011

No More Mainz, What About Linares?

The news out of Mainz isn't good: Chess Classic Mainz – Ende einer Ära (Chesstigers.de). If your German is as bad as mine, or nonexistent, there's an English equivalent at Chess Classic Mainz - End of an Era after 17 editions (Chessdom.com).

A decade full of dedication and passion for international rapid chess has come to an end in Mainz. A splendid decade from 2001 to 2010 with ground-breaking innovations in tournament organization for world class players and amateurs alike and the "Mainz System" Chess960, based on the ideas of the American World Champion Robert James "Bobby" Fischer, made the distinction between the Chess Classic and other classical tournaments.

And what about the Linares supertournament, a Grand Slam event normally held in February? A Q&A near the end of 2011 Tata Steel Chess Tournament: final press conference (Youtube.com, @11:55), informs,

Q: Can you tell me about other tournaments in the Grand Slam? • A: [Wijk aan Zee TD Jeroen van den Berg:] Yesterday we had a meeting and so far I have understood that the chances for Sofia [Mtel] are almost zero at the moment. It will not be held, so Bazna will be part of the Grand Slam tour this year, like last year. The situation with Linares is unclear due to the elections in May. I don't have inside information, but it's not yet clear when and where it's going to be held, in Linares or in another part, so you should find other sources. Nanjing is guaranteed, but we already had that tournament in the Grand Slam cycle, won by Carlsen. Now [Nakamura] will get the invitation. Bilbao is also on in September.

There is no further info on the official site for Bilbao Final Masters 2011, but maybe they'll get around to it one of these days.

14 February 2011

Watch Out for 'Etc.'

For the first time in this series on 18 Memorable Games, the game Portisch - Fischer, Santa Monica 1966 presents almost no significant differences of opinion between Fischer and Kasparov. The diagrammed position is the start of the critical sequence. Fischer played 11...Qd7, which received a total of four '!'s from the three commentators. Here's what they had to say.

Portisch: 'A very unpleasant surprise. I considered only 11...Nd7 which is inferior because of 12.Bd3 Nf6 13.Qh4 with initiative. After the text I realized that I had gotten into a prepared variation and that Black has a splendid position.'

Fischer: 'The finest move in the game, far superior to the "natural" 11...Nd7 12.Bd3 Nf6 13.Qh4 with two Bishops and a beautiful development despite the doubled Pawns. Black can well afford to give up two Rooks for a Queen, as will soon become apparent. The text prepares ...Nb8-c6-a5, hitting the "weakling", as Alekhine used to call that kind of a target.'

Kasparov gave a few moves more in the same variation and paraphrased a portion of Fischer's verbal analysis.

The move 11...Qd7 set up the critical position, where Portisch had to find the antidote to a prepared variation. This is a difficult task while the clock is ticking in a real game.

Santa Monica 1966
Fischer, Robert

Portisch, Lajos
After 11.Qf3-e4(xN)

White played 12.Ba3, leading to the following comments.

Portisch: 'A difficult choice. After 12.Bd3 f5 13.Qe2 Nc6 14.O-O Rfe8! 15.f4 (or 15.Bf4) 15...Na5. White has no compensation for the doubled Pawn and he is condemned to passive defense. Therefore I decided to give up my Queen for the Rooks in a hope to save the game, which nearly succeeded.'

Fischer: 'White gets the worst of it after 12.Bd3 f5 13.Qe2 Nc6 etc. Still, this was a prudent choice.'

Kasparov: Repeats Fischer's comment ands adds, 'However, this evaluation is contested by 14.Bf4!, for example: 14...Rfe8 15.O-O Na5 16.Be5 Qc6 17.c5 Bxd3 18.Qxd3 bxc5 19.Rab1 and "Black's extra Pawn is not important" (Huebner), or 14...Ne7 15.O-O Ng6 16.Be5 c5 17.a4 Rfd8 18.a5 with equality.'

It's not immediately clear, but the evaluation 'contested' by 14.Bf4 is Fischer's comment that 'White gets the worst of it' after 12.Bd3 'etc'. Kasparov, in his variation 12.Bd3 f5 13.Qe2 Nc6 14.Bf4, omits the thematic continuation 14...Na5 (rather than 14...Ne7, which takes the Knight away from White's weak Queenside Pawns), because 15.O-O Rfe8 just transposes into his line after 14...Rfe8. This also happens to be the same line given by Portisch if we take the note 15.Bf4 and continue 15...Na5.

So who's right: Portisch ('[White] is condemned to passive defense') and Fischer ('White gets the worst of it') -or- Huebner and Kasparov? After analyzing the position for some time, I have to agree with Huebner and Kasparov. Their 16.Be5 is adequate, but 16.Rab1 looks even better. White has active play and is as much in the game as Black is. When Fischer wrote 'etc.', did he realize how much life was left in the position?

11 February 2011

Last Pawn Standing

Continuing with our tour of giant chess sets of the world, we move from New Zealand -- where we found Chess Set Available for Use -- to Australia.

Last Man Standing © Flickr user Kaptain Kobold under Creative Commons.

'Part of the giant chess set in Crown Street Mall, Wollongong.'

10 February 2011

This Board Is Not an Island

All of the auctions featured in this fortnightly series on Top eBay Chess Items by Price, like the most recent post, Austin and Eames, have been for collectibles. On this post I'm bucking the trend with an item whose title was 'DGT SENSORY CHESS BOARD BLUETOOTH / WIRELESS version'. It sold 'Buy It Now' for GBP 448.00, 'approximately US $721.95' according to eBay's currency conversion.

DGT, whose acronym stands for 'Digital Game Technology', is well known within the chess world for its line of digital chess clocks. The description of the eBay item was taken from the DGT product page, DGT Bluetooth Wireless e-Board (digitalgametechnology.com)...

Some special features of the DGT wireless e-board.
  • 10+ meters Bluetooth true-wireless communication, 40+ meters successfully tested indoors with high quality dongle.
  • USB wired communication (3.5 meter mini-USB cable included)

...and a web search on 'special features of the DGT wireless e-board' returns many sellers of the board around the world.

That 'DGT Bluetooth' page also has links to the installation manual and a high level look at how 'small tournaments can use this board for broadcasting games', the starting point for a FAQ -- Support > FAQ > Boards -- which includes a video clip showing the board in action. If that's not enough and, like me, you also want to know how the board communicates with external chess playing software, see DGT Electronic Board Protocol Description.

08 February 2011

PGN Downloads

I added a new category -- Posts with label Downloads (see the list of all labels on the right sidebar) -- to tag my posts which offer any kind of a download. For now this means only PGN files, but could eventually encompass other types of files.

For most of the book reviews linked via Chess Product Reviews, I first assembled a corresponding PGN file containing only the game scores of the games found in the book (no annotations or other notes). This let me perform simple analyses like 'years spanned by the games' -or- 'percentage results for White & Black'. Most of these PGN files are still sitting in my archive, but I will release them when I feel comfortable doing so.

Many players don't realize it, but the list of games in a book is copyrighted material, as are all notes to the games found within the book. The moves to the games, as played by the players, can't be copyrighted, but the selection of games is under copyright, just like the list of recipes in a cookbook is copyrighted.

Many PGN files for specific chess books have been available for years from Gambitchess.com at Gambit Chess - DB Books, and I won't duplicate any material that is already there. My aim is to make PGN files available for books which haven't already been done by someone else. Gambit Chess also maintains a list of publishers who have requested that their titles not be available as PGN files.

Copyright Notice: Some Publishers asked me to remove some DB Books for which they hold the copyright. Please don't send me DB Books from:
• Gambit Publications Ltd.
• Everyman Chess
• Cadogan Chess
• Pergamon
• British Chess Magazine
• Sahovski Informator (Chess Informant)
• Thinkers' Press, Inc.
• Chessco

I know it's hard to understand why any publisher would not want related PGN files distributed. It makes playing through the book's annotations and analyzing the games so much easier, that it is definitely a plus for understanding the book. Nevertheless, copyright is just that -- the right to make copies -- and if an author or a publisher doesn't want a PGN file made available, it's their call. I might try to contact some of the publishers listed by Gambit Chess in order to learn their reasons for forbidding copyright, but in the meantime, there's no alternative but to respect their stated preference.

Here are a few more PGN files that I've assembled in the past and am making available now.

Note that it's fairly easy to assemble your own file if you have a few basic computer skills. For me, it averages less than a minute per game to build the file. I'll add more PGN files whenever I think it's useful to do so.

07 February 2011

Portisch - Fischer, Santa Monica 1966

Continuing with 18 Memorable Games, the next game is no.53 in Fischer's 60 Memorable Games and no.74 in Kasparov's Predecessors IV. GM Evans' introduction to the game in 60 Memorable Games said,

Normally, two Rooks for the Queen is a good trade -- better than good when it produces a setting in which the scope and power of the Rooks may be formidable. But Portisch's judgement is faulty, he fails to take into account the weakness of his Pawns.

Once again, the PGN is given here with the punctuation of both Fischer and Kasparov.

[Event "Piatigorsky Cup"]
[Site "Santa Monica"]
[Date "1966.??.??"]
[Round "11"]
[White "Portisch, L."]
[Black "Fischer, R."]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "E45"]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 {FIS: '!'; KAS: '!?'} 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 b6 {FIS: '!'} 5.Ne2 Ba6 6.Ng3 {KAS: '!?'} 6...Bxc3+ {FIS: '!'} 7.bxc3 d5 8.Qf3 O-O 9.e4 {FIS: '!?'; KAS: '?!'} 9...dxe4 {FIS: '!'; KAS: '!'} 10.Nxe4 Nxe4 11.Qxe4 Qd7 {FIS: '!!'; KAS: '!'} 12.Ba3 {KAS: '?!'} 12...Re8 13.Bd3 f5 14.Qxa8 {FIS: '?'; KAS: '?'} 14...Nc6 15.Qxe8+ Qxe8 16.O-O Na5 17.Rae1 Bxc4 18.Bxc4 Nxc4 19.Bc1 c5 {KAS: '!'} 20.dxc5 bxc5 21.Bf4 h6 {FIS: '!'; KAS: '!'} 22.Re2 g5 23.Be5 {KAS: '?'} 23...Qd8 24.Rfe1 Kf7 25.h3 f4 {KAS: '!'} 26.Kh2 a6 {KAS: '!'} 27.Re4 Qd5 {FIS: '!'; KAS: '!'} 28.h4 Ne3 {FIS: '!'; KAS: '!'} 29.R1xe3 fxe3 30.Rxe3 Qxa2 31.Rf3+ Ke8 32.Bg7 Qc4 33.hxg5 hxg5 34.Rf8+ Kd7 35.Ra8 Kc6 0-1

Fischer's use of '!' on his second and fourth moves is unusual; on 2...e6 he commented, 'To throw White off-balance. I felt Portisch was just too well-versed in the Kings Indian', and on 4...b6, 'Other moves have been analyzed to death'. Considering that the Nimzo-Indian 4.e3 variation is still going strong 45 years after the Portisch - Fischer game, Fischer's death certificate for the Nimzo-Indian was issued prematurely.

The game was also annotated by Portisch in the tournament book. He gave 11...Qd7 a '!', 23.Be5 a '?', and 25...f4 a '!'. To play through the complete game, see...

Lajos Portisch vs Robert James Fischer; Santa Monica II. Piatigorsky Cup 1966

...on Chessgames.com.

04 February 2011

What Makes a Perfect Game of Chess?

Is it the board? The pieces? The champagne? The players? The time for reflection? The judges? The arbiter?

The Perfect Game of Chess (2:54) • 'Sun Yat-Sen, God, a dog, and a time gnome conspire to make chess history.'

'Who wins the perfect game of chess?' [Hint: Watch out for the gavel.] No, I don't get it either...

03 February 2011

Fischer's Best Games?

The book 'ENDGAME' by Frank Brady (Crown Publishers, 2011) has finally hit the stores and judging by the number of reviews, it will be one of the greatest successes in the history of chess publishing. I've certainly managed to get considerable mileage from the book, using it as the basis for seven posts across my three blogs, with this current post to be added to the list.

If you're curious what the rest of the blogosphere, not to mention the entire online world, is saying about 'ENDGAME', the blog Jim West On Chess has been keeping tabs on the activity for both Brady's book and the new documentary 'Bobby Fischer Against the World'. It's hard to believe that having a Fischer book and a Fischer film released at the same time was a coincidence, but considering that January was three years to the month since Fischer died, maybe that's the time it takes to have a substantial work emerge from the primordial ooze of the creative process.

My last contribution to the surge of interest was to assemble a new file containing the game scores from both versions of Brady's first book on Fischer: 'Profile of a Prodigy' (PGN). The first version (David McKay Company, 1965) is based on the file found on Gambit Chess - DB Books, containing 75 games. The second version (Dover Publications, 1989) is a new file containing 90 games, of which the first 43 were also published in the 1965 version. The two game collections represent one expert's subjective choice of Fischer's all time best games and deserve to be promoted.

01 February 2011

Numbers Tell Stories

I learned so much from examining the stats for my chess960 blog -- see Stats and More Stats -- that I decided to do the same for my two other blogs. Google's Blogger.com offers statistical breakdowns over five time periods: Now (last two hours), Day (ending with the start of the current hour), Week (ditto), Month (seems to be the last 28 days), and All time (starting '2010 May', although I see nothing before July 2010). Since it's always useful to know what interests your site's visitors, it's a subject I'll return to from time to time. Let's look at the most popular posts for the month of January 2011 and for 'All time'.

Chess for All Ages

I'll start with the top three posts on this blog for January, listed together with the month when I wrote the post:-

This blog, 'All time':-

It's curious that most of these posts are several years old, contradicting the general perception that blog visitors are most interested in current topics. Only two January posts make the top-10 list: The Brady Bunch and Levenfish's Rook Endings. I have no idea why the 'King Kong vs. Godzilla' ranks in both lists. Do non-players associate chess with monsters?

World Chess Championship

Here are the top three posts from the World Championship blog for January:-

World Championship blog, 'All time':-

The 'Whither the World Championship?' post appears first on both lists and has more than three times as many views as the second ranked post on the 'All time' list. It's a long post with most of the text copied from the 2009 Executive Board minutes. I suspect that its many, varied keywords give it a good ranking on searches related to FIDE politics. If you're interested in FIDE doings, there is an index page on Fide.com at FIDE Minutes.

Chess960 (FRC)

Chess960 blog, January:-

As for 'All time' stats on my chess960 blog, I covered them in 'Stats and More Stats' linked at the beginning of this post. It's encouraging that the posts on the January list were all written in January. It confirms my impression that interest in chess960 is increasing slowly. Eventually we'll learn if this is just wishful thinking on my part.


As I mentioned earlier, I'll try to do occasional posts on my blog stats over the next few months. Web stats, which at first sight often appear random, can show remarkable regularity over time. Interpreting the numbers can reveal many stories about what people are seeking.