How to Play Chess: Battle of Minds

When two commanders meet in a chess battle of minds, creative artistry is assured. Emmanuel Lasker called chess a struggle. Such a struggle unleashes in picture form on the board a movie graph of minds in conflict as well as unfolding the plans, various operations, strategies and tactics such minds are capable to produce.

The aesthetic beauty of chess has attracted mankind to its bosom enriching by its wide attraction various styles of devotees who through literary achievement passed down its many secrets. Still, it has eluded the vast audience of chess enthusiasts who are inspired to pursue such mysteries in effort to unlock them and solve a variety of puzzles it poses.

Perhaps the thought that chess is an intellectual pastime and those in the news media who are largely ignorant of its attraction will forever put the game in public limbo. The real thing that drives physical sports is the instantaneous gratification from rising spirits through shouting, clapping, jumping about, viewing the physical nature of a team or individual performance, yelling at officials–all requiring little or no thought. Conversely, chess requires quiet, patience, deliberation and thought. In a real sense the sportsmen are not the players but rather the chessmen that adorn the board in majestic beauty, symbolic violence and activity. This requires mental action of the players that go sight unseen to any but the most ardent chess lover. Hence, to enjoy chess, one must understand how to play and have some working knowledge of the game. Put yourself in the shoes of a non-chess person: Could you see yourself taking an interest in watching two players seated at a board with strange forms that are meaningless to you? That is the crux of the problem and difference between physical sports and chess matches.

There are millions of people who play at chess and only a tiny portion exhibit any interest in even trying to acquire skill for the game which I suggest is required to really enjoy play. Even fewer probably are truly interested in supporting organized chess. Many activities vie for the attention of Americans. Famous personages who enjoy chess need to sing praises of chess and endeavor to increase general interest by financial support. Corporate sponsored team play would help, too. This opportunity would extend beyond school years where school students eventually drift away to important scholastic studies.

Howard Staunton wrote that chess was never meant to be a profession. It may, he said, to a great extent strengthen the mind of the professional man (woman), but it must never become the object of one’s life. History has produced many chess stars. Those who pursued it as a profession either had to complement it with other employment or live in poverty often suffering mentally through indifferent treatment from performance of their practiced art. In more current times, the chess artist makes a living partially at least through coaching, teaching, writing and participation either for stakes or in tournaments.

There has been much debate on the values of chess in the school system. Youngsters taught chess at an early age seem to enjoy it and gain some benefit from it. It will be interesting to see how many pursue chess into adult life or if they treat it as just a fun game and school activity. Such programs in the former Soviet Union developed many hundreds of thousands into the chess ranks of the USSR. Hopefully such programs here will bode well for the future of chess in America. That will be left to the children to decide. The internet is one means to maintain that interest.

Let us return now to the early 1900s in American chess and I wish to feature a little known chess author and amateur player from New England, Franklin K. Young.

During and after the Morphy era chess clubs sprang up all over the USA. Two areas of chess power bases were located in Philadelphia, Pa. and Boston, Mass. as well as New York City. Out of the New England states emerged Mr. Young, a well-known amateur and devotee of the game. He was a brilliant aggressive player who could handle both attack and defense equally well. His game I present reminds me of the great Paul Morphy–rapid development, fighting for the initiative and strategic imbalance from opening moves to its conclusion. Several great stars came from this region and Young must be included for their many contributions to chess excellence.

White: H. Daly      Black: F. K. Young

Opening: Vienna Game

1.e4  e5  2.Nc3  Nf6  3.f4  d5  4.fxe5  Nxe4  5.Nf3  Here a variety of moves were common at this time period of the early 1900s. Paulsen liked 5.Qf3 and 5.d3 is another alternative.

5…Nc6 Setting a cunning invitation for white to strike the center which white falls into.

6.d4  Bb4 7.Bd2  Bg4 Achieving a type of white position with the black forces! Note the rapid deployment.

8.Bb5  Bxf3  9.Qxf3 Qh4+ 10.g3  Young thought 10.Kf1 to be better here.

10…Nxd2! A most calculated and sharp response. Now, on 11.gxh4 Nxf3+ and on 11.Kxd2 Qxd4+ both leading to a far superior position.  As white, what would you do here?

11.Qxd5 Hoping to find some relief by reacting in the center.

11…Qxd4 12.Bxc6+  bxc6  13.Qxc6+  Kf8! 14. Qxa8+ Ke7 What a delightfully illusionary delight! Now, if white had aimed for 15.Qxh8?? Bxc3 16.bxc3 Qe3+ 17.Kd1 Ne4! leads to a choice of mates.

15.Qc6  Qe3+ Oh, woes me! How often I speak of the dangers of having the King caught in the center files. While it is true that the black King is also in the center, it is black who has the attack.

16.Kd1  Rd8  17.Nd5+ Hope springs eternal! But in chess the reoccurrence of this coming Rook x Knight is seen again and again in chess battles.

17…Rxd5! 18.Qxd5 Young recognizes that both white Rooks are out of the game action and the Queen cannot come to the rescue of her majesty.

18…Ne4  19.c3  c6  20.Qd4  Qf3+  21.Kc2  Qe2+ 22.Kb1 Forced as 22.Kb3 Nc5+ 23.Kxb4 Qxb2+ or 23.Ka4 Qa6+ 24.Kxb4 Qa5+ 25.Kxc5  Qxb5 checkmate! Here again, notice the importance of squares in chess. The King’s movement was reduced to no place to hide. Also, on 22.Kc1 Bxc3 23.bxc3 c5! 24.Qd1 Qe3+.

22…Bxc3  23.bxc3  c5  24.Qd6+ Nxd6 25.exd6 Kxd6 26.a4   Kd5  27.Rc1  Qxh2  28.c4+  Kc6  29.Ra3  h5 Passed pawns need to be pushed.

30.Rd3  h4  31.Rcd1 hxg3  32.Rd6+ Kb7 33.Rd7+ Ka6 34.Rxf7  Qh7+ 35.Kb2  g2  36.Rd6+  Ka5  37.Rxa7+ Kb4 38.Rb7+ Kxc4  39.Rb3  g(Q) 40.Rc3+ Kb4 41.Rb3+ Ka5

White resigns. 0-1.

This game was featured in Franklin K. Young’s treatises serial books on chess: The Fieldbook of Chess Generalship. It was said of Young by the great Al Horowitz, editor of Chess Review, that reading his books on chess ruined his game! Well, apparently Horowitz did not comprehend the thinking of Young , produced an array of wonderful games and was well-known in New England. His books that were based on mathematical and military terminology were among the most brilliant masterpieces of writing on the game I’ve seen. Regrettably they were difficult to reach the average and even above talented players. Still, his concepts were valid and he should be remembered as one of the great exponents the game attracted to her bosom.

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17 Responses to “How to Play Chess: Battle of Minds”

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    Yes..chess is the touchstone of the human intellect 😀

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