31 October 2014

Chess at the Zurich Hauptbahnhof

For this edition of Flickr Friday, we have a composite photo: GMs Ponomariov, Korchnoi, Kasparov, Spassky, and Karpov. All were World Champions (Ponomariov via FIDE KO in 2002) or World Champion caliber (Korchnoi, who came within one game of winning the title in 1978).

Spassky photo:
The legendary Grandmaster Boris Spassky at work © Flickr user Jürg Vollmer under Creative Commons.

The description added, 'Chess simultaneous exhibition in Zürich Main Station (2009).' For more about the event, see Zurich: A chance to meet the World Champions on Chessbase.com:-

They will all be there, for the 200th jubilee of the oldest chess club in the world: the Schachgesellschaft Zürich. The festivities, which include a Jubilee Open, will see Anand, Karpov, Korchnoi, Kramnik, Spassky, Ponomariov and Topalov playing a Champions Rapid. They are joined by Garry Kasparov for a Champions Simul against 200 opponents.

The event was also covered in the book The Zurich Chess Club, 1809-2009 by Richard Forster, which I mentioned in a recent post on McFarland Chess Books.

30 October 2014

FIDE General Assembly Derailed

Every year I look forward to the minutes of FIDE's annual pow-wow, where the delegates of the national federations get together to discuss and debate the issues facing the chess world. The documents give me the opportunity to study and understand the mechanisms that drive the world's most important chess organization. The package was released this week in 85th FIDE Congress: General Assembly Minutes and Annexes, with minutes titled 'FIDE Congress; Tromso, Norway; General Assembly; 11-14 August 2014'.

On opening the file containing the annexes, I was disappointed to find only 14 documents, compared to the 76 that were in the corresponding 2013 package. My first thought was 'FIDE is hiding something this year', but this would be out of character for a group that has generally gone out of its way to communicate with its members. My second thought was 'Something went wrong during the meeting', so I started to read the minutes hoping to discover the details. And there it was: the agenda had been hopelessly derailed.

The agenda, announced end-June (see 85th FIDE Congress: General Assembly Agenda and Annexes), was divided into four parts:-

  • Section A: Elections.
  • Section B: Administrative matters.
  • Section C: Commissions.
  • Section D: FIDE Meetings, Tournaments and Matches.

On the first day, after a heated exchange involving the two presidential candidates during the discussion of the 'Financial Report' -- Kasparov: 'If elected I will give $10.000.000' (or something like that), Ilyumzhinov: 'I will give $20.000.000' -- the meeting steered into its main attraction, 'Section A: Elections'. Since I've already commented on that in FIDE Election: Four More Years (spoiler alert: Ilyumzhinov won), let's pick up the minutes some time later:-

The meeting was then adjourned for the Continental elections during which time the nominees for elected Vice-Presidents, Constitutional Commission, Ethics Commission and Verification Commission were to present their nominations to the FIDE Secretariat.

The General Assembly was resumed on the 12th of August.

Mr. Georgios Makropoulos said: One of the Continents yesterday did not organize its assembly, so because of our Statutes and Regulations to proceed with the rest of the elections we will have to await the results of this Continent. So the elections will be tomorrow. Now we have two possibilities here. One is that we continue with our Agenda and we deal with the other points of the Agenda. The second is we should break and continue the Assembly tomorrow. [...] We are not going to make decisions and we suspend the session afterwards and we come tomorrow.

There were no objections. The meeting was suspended.

The third day was spent on the remaining elections and other appointments. One of the most important was, 'Mr. Nigel Freeman was re-appointed as FIDE Executive Director for a term of four years.' Then came the fourth and last day.

The session of 14th of the August. Mr. Nigel Freeman chaired the meeting.

No quorum.

Mr. Israel Gelfer remarked that next time we should start the Agenda from the bottom, because after elections delegates do not show up at the meetings. [...]

In the afternoon, after the break a roll call was made to see if the quorum existed. No quorum.

Mr. Herman Hamers said because there is no quorum, it means that we can’t make any decisions. [...]

As there was no quorum the rest of the Agenda could not be approved.

No quorum, no agenda, no decisions, no annexes, nothing for me to write about. What to do? Let's have a home movie showing highlights from the first day of the General Assembly. It starts with Kasparov presenting himself as the Croatian delegate and ends (I think) with the results of the presidential election having been announced.

FIDE President Elections (9:02) • 'Tromso, 11.08.2014'

What's happening at 1:30 into the clip? According to the minutes,

Cote d’Ivoire [Ivory Coast] delegate Mr. Essoh Jean Mathieu Claude Essis tried to usurp the floor, but FIDE Treasurer proceeded to present his financial report.

After that, Kasparov launches into the '$10.000.000' offer, followed by Ilyumzhinov's offer(s). As for the continent that 'did not organize its assembly', it was Africa. After witnessing the performance of the Ivory Coast delegate during the General Assembly, it's easy to imagine what happened at the continental level.

28 October 2014

Big Money Chess 'On the Cover'

Anyone who has been around top level chess for the last ten years can't help but have noticed the similarities between the recent Millionaire Open (already seen on this blog in Millionaire Wrapup) and the HB Global Challenge of May 2005. Maurice Ashley, big money, a new sponsor, and, as Mark Crowther's TWIC put it, 'American razzmatazz', all gave a strong feeling of déja vu. Borrowing from my monthly 'On the Cover' series, let's go back exactly ten years and take a second look at the HB Global Challenge.

Left: 'Show Me the Money : The Richest Chess Open Ever' (Cover: Sherie Wallace)
Right: 'Launching HB Global' (Cover: Kathleen Merz)

Chess Life October 2004

$500.000 Guaranteed: The biggest Open money in chess ever! by Kalev Pehme • Declaring that a new era is dawning in the world of chess, backers have announced a new tournament to be held in 2005 that is expected to reach new plateaus in several key areas. Called the HB Global Chess Challenge, the event has the largest prize fund ever for an open chess event: $500.000 guaranteed. A new record for participation is anticipated as well, with thousands of players from around the world traveling to the U.S. heartland for the event.

Chess Life August 2005

The HB Gobal Chess challenge by GM Maurice Ashley • [Won by GM Zviad Izoria] The question on everyone's lips is, "So what about next year?" I wish I knew.

While GM Ashley hasn't been seen on any recent covers of Chess Life -- he was pre-empted by 'New World Champion' Magnus Carlsen when the Millionaire Open was announced in the February 2014 issue -- the USCF first carried the announcement in December 2013, Millionaire Chess Comes to Vegas 2014 (USchess.org):-

GM Maurice Ashley just announced a ground-breaking event, set for October 2014 Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, the "Millionaire Chess Open." The event will feature a million dollars in guaranteed prizes including a $100,000 first prize in the Open section and $40,000 in various "Under sections." [...] Maurice says on the website, "That's right: a million dollars absolutely guaranteed! No other Open tournament in the long and storied history of chess has ever come close to guaranteeing that kind of prize money. The Millionaire Chess Open will be the first, and it will signal a new era in prizes and recognition for players at all levels."

October 2004: 'a new era is dawning'; December 2013: 'a new era in prizes and recognition'. New era or same old, same old? 'The question on everyone's lips is, "So what about next year?"'

27 October 2014

TMERs: Carlsen - Anand Missing Fields (*)

After the update of the PGN file in last week's Carlsen - Anand PGN Master, I returned to the Carlsen - Anand Index. I loaded the two indexes into a database to do crosschecks between related fields, then added data missing from one field but present (in a less friendly format) in another:-

Neither of the updated fields is complete for all events, but it gives me a base to identify data that is really missing.

(*) = Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record

26 October 2014

The Dark Side of Scholastic Chess

While preparing the previous post in this 'Chess in School' series, The First of the USCF Supernationals, I tried to discover what had become of the winners of that 1997 event. This led me to a name that is infamously associated with the scholastic movement: Robert M. Snyder.

Years ago, when writing for About.com, I was contacted by Snyder to review his series of 'Chess for Juniors' books. That email correspondence was lost when my PC failed later, but it was no more noteworthy than similar correspondence I had with many other chess authors. That review lives on thanks to Archive.org: Book reviews : 'Chess for Juniors' series by Robert M. Snyder.

(February 2005) If you look at the list of current chess bestsellers at Amazon.com, you can't help but notice that two books by the same author rank first (Chess for Juniors by Robert M. Snyder) and third (Unbeatable Chess Lessons for Juniors). Only the perennial favorite Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess, first published in 1966, prevents Snyder from capturing the top two spots.

Nearly two years later, after requests from parents demanding that I remove the review and after consultation with my editorial supervisor, I posted a followup: Elsewhere on the Web : A Cautionary Chess Tale.

During the first week of January, a top-selling chess author pleaded guilty to one count of sexual assault on a child and one count of unlawful sexual contact. Robert Snyder, 52, a resident of Fort Collins, Colorado, was the owner of the Chess for Juniors club and the author of the popular book 'Chess for Juniors' and its sequels. The former chess teacher had been accused of sexually assaulting several of his students.

This was not the end of Snyder's legal troubles. In Robert Michael Snyder, Wikipedia informs,

Snyder has been arrested and convicted for multiple sexual assaults involving children dating back to 1983. He was featured on America's Most Wanted after fleeing Colorado while still on supervised probation in 2008. He was found in Belize, and on March 30, 2010 after pleading guilty was given an open (up to life) sentence.

If the Snyder affair was an isolated case, I would leave it alone, but similar stories surface regularly enough that the subject can't be ignored. Sexual predators are often cunning people, making scholastic chess their natural target for two reasons.

24 October 2014

Millionaire Wrapup

John Cordisco, who played in the Under-1600 section of the Millionaire Chess Open recently held in Las Vegas, gives his thoughts on the tournament. During the video, which is more like a podcast illustrated with photos, he mentions that he's a tournament director from upstate New York. Although a bit long-winded at times, the clip manages to make a number of excellent points.

Millionaire Chess Post Mortem 2014 (45:52) • 'My thoughts concerning my experience at Millionaire Chess 2014.'

If this isn't your cup of tea, take a look at an official video from the penultimate round: Millionaire Chess Semifinals (3:20:34 running time).

23 October 2014

A $20.000 Endgame

By now, everyone knows that GM Wesley So won the Millionaire Chess Open, beating GM Ray Robson in the final round of the top section. But what about the lower sections? Thanks to Alan Lasser’s Game of the Week newsletter (GOTW; last seen on this blog in Unauthorized Psychedelic Opening Laboratory), I learned about one battle in the Under-2200 section -- that's the USCF Expert class -- where Rustam Bunyatov beat Matthew Derek Meredith in the final match for the top prize:-

Congratulations to GOTW subscriber Derek Meredith for winning second place in the under 2200 section of the Millionaire’s Open, I’m sure that $20,000 check is good consolation for losing the playoff for the $40,000 prize first prize.

The first two games of the playoff were drawn at the time limit of game/25. The next two games were at game/15; with the white pieces in the first game his position began to slip around move 21, so a few moves later he gambled on a speculative piece sac, which did not turn out well. That meant Derek had to win the second game with the Black pieces to tie up the match and send it to the five minute playoff games.

Alan called the second game 'the $20,000 endgame' and gave most of the moves, along with a few computer generated notes that flagged the main turning points. The top diagram shows the start of the endgame in Bunyatov - Meredith.

White has just lost the exchange for a Pawn and is now faced with a long battle for a draw, sufficient to win the two game mini-match. Black's plan is clear: Penetrate with the King into White's position and return the material at the right time for a winning King and Pawn endgame. White's plan is less clear: Trade off as many Pawns as possible, reducing to a drawn Rook vs. Bishop endgame. This will depend on some cooperation from Black.

Many moves later, the players reached the position shown in the bottom diagram. Both players have followed their respective plans, but Black is now faced with a critical decision, how to defend the d-Pawn. Black should play 63...Kc3, freeing the Rook for decisive action on the Kingside against the e- and h-Pawns. Instead he played 63...Rd7, tying the Rook to the d-Pawn. Here White played 64.Bd5, allowing 64...Kc3 after all. Better would have been 64.Bb5 (kicking the Rook off its best rank), with the idea 64...Rd8 65.Bc4 (stopping the Rook from reaching g8) 65...Kc3 66.Kf5 (heading for the h-Pawn). Black still must show that the win is there.

I imagine that similar dramas took place in more of the ten sections of the Millionaire Open. The GMs might get all the attention, but the amateur players share in the fun. For more about the tournament, see the TWIC report at Millionaire Chess 2014.

21 October 2014

Cascading Translations

We lost our Internet connection for close to a day -- and thanks to 'bundling', our TV connection as well -- which meant that I had some spare time to spend on something besides writing my daily blog post. On a whim I opened my copy of 'The Art of the Middle Game' by Keres and Kotov (Dover 1989), turned to the last chapter on 'The Art of Analysis' by Keres, and, with the help of an engine, started looking at Keres' analysis.

Although I intended to turn that exercise into a blog post, a curious inconsistency caught my attention. The chapter on 'Art of Analysis', at 63 pages the longest chapter in the book, has nothing to do with the middlegame. It's about the endgame. More specifically, it's about analyzing adjourned positions, which used to occur at move 40, usually after the heat of the middlegame had passed. So what's going on here?

The copyright page of the Dover book, 'Translated by H. Golombek', tells us that it was first published by Penguin Books in 1964. The same page carries a 'Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication' record (CIP; see Cataloging in Publication Program for more) that tells us the book is a translation of 'Konsten att vinna i schack'. Google translates that Swedish title as 'The trick to winning in chess', but translates other pages where the title occurs as 'The art of winning in chess'. I prefer 'The art of...'.

Other sources tell us that 'Konsten...' was published by Prisma in 1961, translated from the original Russian by Bengt Hörberg and Lars Warne. I wasn't able to determine the Russian title of the book, and suspect that it might be a collection of four separate essays, two by Keres and two by Kotov. Did Golombek work from the Russian, as he usually did, or from the Swedish?

One more point: the last section of the Dover book is an 'Index of Middle-Game Themes', with about 25 entries. Only the entry on 'Zugzwang' points to the chapter on 'The Art of Analysis'; zugzwang is most often found in endgames.

In his 'Editorial Forward', Golombek explains his choice of the last chapter:-

Keres, adopting as always a practical point of view, has taken the subject of analysis of adjourned games, so revealing how a master's mind works and how a chess player should set about the task of analyzing any given position.

Now that I know the connection with the middlegame, I can move on to Keres' remarks.

20 October 2014

TMERs: Carlsen - Anand PGN Master

A couple of weeks ago, in TMERs: Carlsen - Anand Index, I mentioned, 'Next step: Add the games to the TMER PGN master files'. To download those ZIP files, see the links in the 'Carlsen - Anand Index' post.

(*) TMER = Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record

19 October 2014

Quest for Logic

If my least favorite posts on Top eBay Chess Items by Price are about books -- like the previous post on Antonius van der Linde -- then my most favorite are about paintings. The auction for the painting shown below was titled 'Head Chess surrealism landscape fantasy original oil painting 30 x 36" Mag Raven', and fetched US $1000 after a single bid.

The description added,

This is one of my finest paintings from fantastic realism collection.
• Title: "Quest for logic"
• Size: 30 x 36", 0.75" thick. (76x71.5cm, 2cm thick)
• Technique: original oil painting on canvas.
• Painting is varnished.
• Canvas is gallery wrapped, no visible stitches on the edges. All sides are painted to match the colors of the painting. You can hang it on the wall without the frame.
• Painting is signed by artist and has certificate of authenticity with its unique number. All my artwork is catalogued.

Along with that information about the painting was a note from the artist.

My name is Mag Raven. I am a full time artist. My artwork can be found in collections all over the world. I use glazing, old masters technique (like Rembrandt or Caravaggio) so the colors of my paintings look deep and vivid.

My major inspiration is art of Zdzislaw Beksinski from his Fantastic Realism period. I love his style, ideas and expression. I also find my inspiration in old ruins, rocks, bones and cemeteries, simply things what remind of death but they can last for thousands of years. I've been painting since I could crawl. My parents knew that when I get quiet it means only one thing, that I'm painting, probably on the walls of our apartment. Lack of paper wouldn't stop me!

For more about the artist, see her eBay page mederena.

17 October 2014

'A Rook Lighthouse For Bobby' (*)

Through the years, this Flickr Friday series has featured a number of images where everyday objects look like chess pieces, but I can't remember an image where a piece became the everyday object.

Rook lighthouse © Flickr user Guido Veltmaat under Creative Commons.

The artist added,

Chess series nr.3 • A commons edit from flickr.com/photos/matthieuk where the mid-part of the tower is replaced by my Rook macro. Rocks are partly altered, water and sky replaced with fragments of own pictures.

(*) After I Like Trains - A Rook House for Bobby.

16 October 2014

A:'Playing Checkers' vs. B:'Playing Chess'

While writing my previous post, Geopolitical Yahoos, I started to wonder about the phrase 'A is playing checkers while B is playing chess'. Who are the most popular choices for A and B? A Google search on '"playing checkers" "playing chess"' (let's call it 'PC/PC') brings up many sporting and political references, especially the Obama vs. Putin relationship. The same search on images brings up a number of Obama vs. Putin cartoons where the American is invariably playing checkers, the Russian playing chess.

How about adding 'Obama' to the PC/PC image search. Are there any insights to be gained there? The top composite image below shows the first page of Google results. The first of the thumbnails (top left corner) shows Obama caddying for Putin, followed by two Obama/Putin cartoons. Other images show Obama playing chess against John McCain, chess(?) against the Republicans, checkers against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, and chess against Hillary Clinton.

Obama 'chess vs. checkers'

Putin 'chess vs. checkers'

The bottom composite image is the same PC/PC search, this time substituting 'Putin' for 'Obama'. Many of the thumbnails are the same, but there is a smaller variety of other chess opponents. My favorite is in the middle of the bottom row, showing Putin in a simul against Obama who is sitting next to European leaders David Cameron, Angela Merkel, and François Hollande.

The thumbnail showing Putin stroking his chin (Top: left of the second row; Bottom: upper right corner) depicts another chess cliché often attributed to Obama vs. Putin, called the 'pigeon quote':-

[Negotiating, discussing, arguing, etc.] with [fill in the blank] is like playing chess with a pigeon. The pigeon knocks over all the pieces, craps on the board, and then struts around like it won the game.

The origin of the analogy is uncertain, although it definitely predates Obama vs. Putin. Expanding the thumbnails in any of these Google image searches leads to more 'Related images', many of them having something to do with chess.

Then there are the other games. The third row of the Obama results, with two views of the same image featuring an American flag, leads to a page that says, 'When it comes to diplomacy, Russia is playing chess, Syria is playing checkers and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is playing tiddlywinks.'

14 October 2014

Geopolitical Yahoos

Right up there with 'World's largest cave', 'State bans plastic bags', and 'Son finds dad's Corvette' -- Seen on Yahoo!...

Kasparov: Putin is 'the most dangerous man' in the world
and a bigger threat to the U.S. than the Islamic State

Putin dismisses critic Kasparov's political skills

Noteworthy Kasparov remarks included a twist on the 'A is playing checkers while B is playing chess' cliché:-

Kasparov believes that Putin is calling the world's bluff. "He is playing poker while everyone else is playing chess."

There was also a generous serving of Garry's favorite food, sour grapes:-

Just last month Kasparov lost his bid for the presidency of the International Chess Federation, to Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, a controversial billionaire who had ties to Saddam Hussein, Moammar Gadhafi and Bashar Assad. [...] "Of course it was", Kasparov answered when asked if the election was rigged.

The Kasparov interview garnered more than 4100 comments, which seem to run about two-thirds against the 13th World Champion. Here are a few comments that actually mention chess:-

He is willing to say anything and everything to slander Putin. I would say it is a waste his talent and effort. He used to be a good chess player.

America certainly doesn't need anybody else duping or influences us into accomplishing their war agendas like chess pawns.

Yes, Mr. K. Chess players DO abide by set rules. WORLD players do not. They make the rules as they go along.

Kasparov used to be a good chess player... Big money changed his game.

Just because you can play chess well does not mean you can understand international politics. Obviously Kasparov thinks he's the smartest guy in the room because he has figured out a board game. He's taking the image of politics being a "chess game" far too literally.

Did I say, 'two-thirds against the 13th World Champion'? On second reading it looks more like nine-tenths against. As for Putin, he complimented his chess-playing adversary:-

He's not made a very good politician, but he's a great chess player.

Of the more than 800 comments to Putin's remarks, they were more favorable to Kasparov. For example:-

Kasparov understands strategy. His experience playing chess has introduced him to every possible move that one person can do to gain power. Putin does not move without a plan, a strategy to gain and hold on to more power.

Putin made sure that Kasparov did not become President of FIDE, the international chess federation. He put in a nutty supporter of his by influencing the voting delegates probably by giving bribes.

You don't get to be the chess champion of the world for as many years as Kasparov was without having an amazing brain! Putin knows this. This is why he attacks Kasparov personally hoping that by doing so he will sway public opinion.

Kasparov is Putin's gadfly. If Putin thought Kasparov was inconsequential he wouldn't swat at him. Putin slams the rest of the world leaders at political chess. Kasparov is the only real challenger in his league.

So why doesn't Putin the Magnificent challenge him to a chess match? Putin has won every single contest in his life. Just ask him.

I agree with the person who said, 'Its a no brainer. Of course Putin is more dangerous to U.S. than IS; Russia has thousands more nuclear weapons than IS.' It's not at all clear that Kasparov's diplomatic skills are better developed than his political skills. • Previously Seen on Yahoo!: Alice and 'The Cat in the Hat'.

13 October 2014

TMERs: Anand Interim Update

While preparing the PGN update mentioned in TMERs: Carlsen - Anand Index (*), I noticed some inconsistencies left over from last year's Anand's TMER 1983-2013. I eliminated those and will continue with the 'Carlsen - Anand Index' the next time I tackle this project.

(*) TMER = Tournament, Match, and Exhibition Record

12 October 2014

The First of the USCF Supernationals

In Scholastic chess in the United States, Wikipedia tells us,

Normally the major tournaments (high school, junior high school, elementary/primary) are held in different locations at different times, to allow participation in multiple events. However, beginning in 1997, there has been a single event known as the Supernationals where all events are held in one place simultaneously.

Of the two mega-scholastic events initiated in the 1990s, Chessathons and Supernationals, only the Supernationals have survived into the 2010s. The First USCF Chessathon was held in 1992, and the first Supernationals in 1997.

The cover of the July 1997 issue of Chess Life (CL), shown on the left, called the event the 'Woodstock of Chess'. Held on 25-27 April in Knoxville, Tennessee, there were four separate tournaments, to which CL devoted four pages just to list the winners. The National High School (K-12) event was won by Harutyan Akopian (Akopyan; not to be confused with Armenian GM Vladimir Akopian), while the National Primary (K-3) event went to nine year old Hikaru Nakamura.

The 'Woodstock of Chess' moniker was conferred by CL Editor Glenn Petersen in his report on the Supernationals, and not just for the event's size and historical significance.

Thousands of cars, vans, traffic jams (the main road into Knoxville was under construction) ... bodies to the left, bodies to the right, no place to sit, chessboards and sets, and arms and legs covered every available inch of floor space in the lobby, in the atrium, in the skittles rooms, in the hallways, masses of humanity pressed together ... rain [...] 4235 children (and probably an equal number of parents and coaches) from 48 states, were part of history in the making.

The event was conceived and awarded in 1994.

The recently held U.S. Open in Chicago, Illinois was a great event but it was more than a chess tournament. It was the site for the annual Delegates’ Meetings, workshops, and Policy Board Meetings. [...] The Policy Board awarded an option for the 1997 "Supernational" Scholastic to the TN Chess Association with details to be worked out with the Business Office.

Unofficial Summary of the USCF Policy Board and Delegates' Meetings; August 10-16, 1994 by Rachel Lieberman [rec.games.chess]

There was some controversy at the time because the award was made without a competitive bidding process. The event was the responsibility of the USCF Scholastic Chess Director, whose overall tasks were listed in another rgc post.

5. Supervises and coordinates major scholastic events, avoids scheduling conflicts, and acts as USCF’s scholastic representative on site as appropriate for the following national tournaments:
* National Elementary
* National Junior High
* National High School
* Super Nationals
* National Scholastic K-12 Grade
* Junior Chess Congress (all regions)
* National Scholastic Action (aka All America Cup)
* Pan American Intercollegiate
* U.S. Junior Open

Scholastic Director’s Job Responsibilities [April 1997; rec.games.chess]

Beatriz Marinello was the USCF Scholastic Director at the time of the 1997 Supernationals. She later became the USCF President and a key figure in the FIDE hierarchy.

The second of the Supernationals was held in 2001. Other events followed every four years -- 2005, 2009, and 2013 -- making five events to date.

10 October 2014

Scholastic Chess in Brownsville TX

Titled: 'Knight and Day'; featuring Rusty Harwood and J.J. Guajardo of Brownsville, Texas.

Valley Chess [Texas Country Reporter] (4:12) • 'Chess is more popular and competitive in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas than almost anywhere else in the country. Find out what the game means to this community.'

Harwood is Chess Program Director at The University of Texas at Brownsville [UTB]. At about 3:05 into the video we learn,

J.J. [Guajardo] coached the very first chess teams from this area at Russell Elementary [Brownsville] in the 1990s. His kids racked up seven state titles in a row and the rest of the valley took notice. Now organized scholastic chess has spread to every corner of the school system. For all intents and purposes, J.J. is its founding father.

The clip is full of sound bites like 'The most important part of the game is what happens off the board.'

09 October 2014

Winter's 'Unsolved Chess Mysteries'

In my previous post, Naming the Opening Variations, I linked to 'Edward Winter presents: Unsolved Chess Mysteries (11) [1 August 2007]' on Chessbase.com. How many editions of 'Unsolved Chess Mysteries' were eventually posted? With the help of Google, I discovered 28.

'Edward Winter presents: Unsolved Chess Mysteries'

  • (1) 2/14/2007 - Since Chess Notes began, over 25 years ago, hundreds of mysteries and puzzles have been …
  • (2) 3/12/2007 - We bring you a further selection of intriguing chess mysteries from Chess Notes, includin
  • (3) Mar 27, 2007 - Miquel Artigas (Sabadell, Spain) kindly presented in Chess Notes (C.N.s 4008 and 4015)
  • (4) Apr 10, 2007 - Here chess historian Edward Winter sifts and summarizes the key evidence. There is also
  • (5) Apr 30, 2007 - We bring you a further selection of mysteries from Edward Winter's Chess Notes, includ
  • (6) 5/21/2007 - A further miscellany of mysteries from Chess Notes includes an alleged tournament game ..
  • (7) Jun 2, 2007 - The chess historian Edward Winter presents another selection of mysteries from Chess N
  • (8) Jun 18, 2007 - In this further selection from Chess Notes historian Edward Winter examines some unauth
  • (9) Jul 3, 2007 - Was Tartakower a parachutist? These and other mysteries from Chess Notes are discussed b
  • (10) Jul 18, 2007 - ... Game repeat a position composed 1000 years previously? Edward Winter, the Editor
  • (11) Aug 1, 2007 - These and other mysteries from Chess Notes are discussed by the historian Edward Wint
  • (12) Aug 14, 2007 - The chess historian Edward Winter, who wrote a book about the Cuban genius in the 19
  • (13) 8/27/2007 - In a 1937 game did Alekhine play two moves in succession? Can the full score of a ...
  • (14) 9/8/2007 - The latest selection from Chess Notes consists of ten positions, including fragments fro
  • (15) Sep 23, 2007 - By Edward Winter. Line-up. Click to enlarge. C.N. 3956 reported on efforts to identi
  • (16) 9/30/2007 - Did Lasker invent a tank? Why did Mieses complain to FIDE about Bogoljubow?
  • (17) Oct 16, 2007 - By Edward Winter. Chess scandals are common enough and tend to concern alleged cheat
  • (18) 11/1/2007 - An apparent missed mate in one at the 1936 Munich Olympiad; an enigma regarding two ...
  • (19) 11/20/2007 - A further selection from Chess Notes focuses on games and positions. Why is it claimed
  • (20) 12/11/2007 - After Pillsbury died, did a chessplayer examine his brain? Was Edward Young a ...
  • (21) Dec 26, 2007 - By Edward Winter. Lasker's prescience. Page 19 of V.N. Panov's monograph on Capablan
  • (22) 1/13/2008 - This further selection from Chess Notes includes a neglected game which Lasker ...
  • (23) 1/20/2008 - We present a special Fischer edition of items from Chess Notes, with discussion of game
  • (24) Feb 3, 2008 - By Edward Winter. 'The Wallace murder case might have been devised by Agatha Chris
  • (25) 3/2/2008 - How did the Benko Gambit originate? What is known about Znosko-Borovsky's non-chess ...
  • (26) 3/18/2008 - This latest selection from Chess Notes provides a stark warning against gullible quotat
  • (27) 4/11/2008 - What are the origins of the term 'Pride and Sorrow of Chess' to describe Morphy?
  • (28) 4/24/2008 - The cast in this further selection from Chess Notes includes not only Morphy, Steinitz

The descriptions are those given by Google, occasionally truncated by my database software. A better description for each article would be a copy of the introduction from Chessbase.com or a summary of the mysteries presented in that article, but I'll leave that for another time.

07 October 2014

Naming the Opening Variations

Years ago, when I moved from the U.S. to Europe, I left most of my chess books at my parents' house. Through the years, whenever I visited them, I would rummage through the remaining books and take a title or two with me when I left. On the most recent trip I took the last two books: Volumes I and II of 'Discover the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit' (DBDG). Calling them 'books' isn't completely accurate. The first has 40 pages, the second only 22. A better word is 'booklets'.

These inexpensive opening monographs in descriptive notation, both published by Chess Digest Magazine in 1971, show how far opening theory has advanced in the years since they were published. Amazon.com tells me that there were four volumes in the DBDG series, the first by Anders Tejler alone, the others with Nikolajs Kampars as co-author:-

  • Volume 1 [Introduction]
  • Volume 2 - Gunderam Defense
  • Volume 3 - Vienna Defense
  • Volume 4 - Bogoljubow Defense

How do those names relate to specific variations? Volume 1 gives 'An Outline of BDG Variations':-

Shortly after Nick Kampars began publication of the chess magazine: "Blackmar-Diemer Gambi" in 1962, he sent me an outline of BDG variations which readers may be interested in because of the names given to these variations.

I copied these into a PGN file for my own education (and in the unlikely event that someone might want to do something with it):-

[Event "'Discover the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit' by Anders Tejler"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "????.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "W"]
[Black "B"]
[Result "*"]

( {I.} 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.--
( 3.f3 {Blackmar Gambit} )
( 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 {von Popiel Polish Gambit} )
( 3.Nc3 e6 4.Be3 {Rasa-Studier Gambit} )
( 3.Nc3 e5 {Lemberger Counter Gambit} )
( 3.Nc3 e5 4.Be3 {Soller Attack} )
( 3.Nc3 e5 4.Qh5 {Sneiders Attack} )
( 3.Nc3 e5 4.Nxe4 {A.Lange Gambit} )
( 3.Bc4 {Fritz Attack} )
( 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 {Blackmar-Diemer Gambit} )
( 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 Bf5 {Hans Muller's Vienna Defense} )
( 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Qxf3 {Dr.Ryder Gambit. Also referred to in Diemer's book as the 'Classical Double-Pawn Sacrifice'} )
( {II.} 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 --
( 4...Bf5 5.fxe4 {Diemer Gambit} )
( 4...Bf5 5.g4 Bg6 6.g5 Nd5 7.fxe4 {Kampars Gambit} )
( 4...exf3 5.Nxf3 e6 {Euwe Defense} )
( 4...exf3 5.Nxf3 g6 {Bogoljubow Defense} )
( 4...exf3 5.Nxf3 Bg4 {Teichmann Defense} )
( 4...exf3 5.Nxf3 Bf5 {Tartakower Defense} )
( {III.} 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 --
( 5...g6 6.Bc4 Bg7 7.O-O O-O 8.--
( 8.Qe1 {Studier Attack} )
( 8.Kh1 {Kloss Attack} )
( 5...Bf5 6.Ne5 e6 7.g4 Ne4 {Gunderam Counter Gambit} )
( {IV.} 1.d4 d5 2.e4 e6 3.--
( 3.c4 {Diemer-Duhm Gambit} )
( 3.Be3 dxe4 4.Nd2 {Alapin Gambit} )
( 3.Be3 dxe4 4.f3 {Diemer-Alapin Gambit} )
( {V.} 1.e4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.--
( 3.d4 {Kampars Gambit} )
( 3.d4 Nxe4 {Hubsch Gambit} )
( {VI.} 1.d4 Nf6 2.f3 d5 3.e4 dxe4 4.fxe4 {Diemer Gambit} )

Where do these names come from?

The names given to the above variations are reportedly those of E.J.Diemer. Presumably they are named after the person who has either innovated or analyzed the particular variation.

As for the other DBDG volumes, the subject of 'Volume 2 - Gunderam Defense', isn't explained in the list. Since I have the booklet in front of my eyes, I can say for certain that it is included in section III as the first five move pairs of the 'Gunderam Counter Gambit': 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 Bf5. Thanks to Amazon, I can also confirm that 'Volume 3 - Vienna Defense' is indeed in section I, 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 Bf5, aka 'Hans Muller's Vienna Defense'. The last booklet, 'Volume 4 - Bogoljubow Defense', must be as listed: 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 g6.

'The Oxford Companion to Chess' (1992) lists only the 'Blackmar-Diemer Gambit' ('its soundness is doubted'), but gives two move orders: 1.d4 d5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.e4 dxe4 4.f3, and 2.e4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3. It also gives the 'Blackmar Gambit' ('an opening of doubtful merit') as 1.d4 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.f3.

Who were Blackmar and Diemer? Blackmar is the less well known of the two. DBDG Volume 1, in the introductory chapter 'History', starts 'Armand Edward Blackmar was born in Bennington, Vt. on 30 May 1826...'. The rest of the paragraph can be found in Edward Winter presents: Unsolved Chess Mysteries (11) [1 August 2007], under the heading 'Blackmar the composer'.

Diemer is better known. His Wikipedia entry is at Emil Josef Diemer; his Chessgames.com entry at Emil Joseph Diemer, ('Number of games in database: 208; Years covered: 1933 to 1987'). Diemer appears to have been a somewhat unsavory character, which is perhaps why his entry in DBDG Volume 1 starts,

Unfortunately, at least for the present, we are unable to provide any biographical information about E.J.Diemer, the German chess master [...]

Attaching various names to all cataloged variations didn't help popularize the opening named after him. Why should it?

06 October 2014

05 October 2014

Antonius van der Linde

It was another slow fortnight for Top eBay Chess Items by Price. I had to dip well under my normal cutoff of $500 to discover the item titled '1881 Das Erste Jartausend [sic] Der Schachlitteratur Van der Linde Munich Chess Club' ['the first millennium of chess literature - Van der Linde - Munich Chess Club']. It sold for US $418.00 after 15 bids from six bidders.

The item itself wasn't terribly attractive, so the image above shows the accompanying bookplate ('ex libris') from the Munich Chess Club. The description added,

Das Erste Jartausend Der Schachlitteratur (850-1880) Zusammengestellt von Dr. A.V.D. Linde. Published by Julius Springer, Berlin – 1881. Measures 5" x 7 3/4". 112pp.

Once owned by the Munich Chess Club (Schach-Club-Althmunchen) and carries the club's original book plate on the inner front cover as well as the club name stamp on the title page and last page. Half-leather with gilt spine lettering and likely rebound many years ago (no other copies available to compare).

Has a previous owner name and personal library cataloging numbers on the top right corner of the title page and the #40 neatly written on the top right corner of the blank front endpaper. There are two stamps affixed to the front cover. Otherwise Very Good condition with tight binding – covers and pages otherwise very clean – no other writing, markings, soiling, odors, torn or folded pages, etc.

An enduring and rare work by Prof. Dr. Antonius Van der Linde, who remains one of the most preeminent chess historians in history.

For more about van der Linde, see the German Wikipedia entry Antonius van der Linde. His name is associated with the chess collection at the Koninklijke Bibliotheek ('The KB is the national library of the Netherlands'), Chess and draughts collection:

History: The chess collection is based on the collections of Antonius van der Linde, Meindert Niemeijer and G.L. Gortmans. Size: The chess and draughts collection consists of ca. 30.000 titles.

Also from the KB: Antonius van der Linde.

03 October 2014

Otterness Chess

Since I don't live in New York City, please forgive me for asking, 'What's an Otterness Person?'

Otterness Person Playing Chess in Battery Park City © Flickr user Peter Dutton under Creative Commons.

Tom Otterness [Wikipedia]:

Tom Otterness (born 1952) is an American sculptor best known as one of America’s most prolific public artists. Otterness' works adorn parks, plazas, subway stations, libraries, courthouses and museums in New York—most notably in Rockefeller Park in Battery Park City and in the 14th Street/8th Avenue subway station—and other cities around the world.

There's a better photo of the same sculpture at Real World Playground, sculpture, chess, Tom Otterness, Battery Park City, but since it's marked 'All rights reserved', you'll have to follow the link.

02 October 2014

October 1964 'On the Cover'

Fifty years ago, was there a dearth of topics for monthly chess magazines? Just like last month's September 1964 'On the Cover', this month's edition seems to repeat two previous themes. The Benko connection is clear enough, and Poland was also the venue for the World Student Team Championship. Then again, Zgorzelec - Google Maps shows the 'town in south-western Poland with 32,322 inhabitants (2012)' to be at least 250 km from Krakow, the site of the team championship.

Left: 'Chess for Giants'
Right: 'U.S. Open Champ'

Chess Life

Chess strategy on a large scale is the order of the day in the Park of Culture in Zgorzelec, Poland. (This month's cover by EASTFOTO)

Chess Review

Grandmaster Pal Benko of New York won the United States Open Champion [sic], held by the USCF in Boston this year, scoring 10 1/2 to 1 1/2 (no losses, three draws) in the twelve-round Swiss System with a record 238 contenders.

For more giant public chess boards, see Chess Sightseeing.