Archive for November, 2011

Kindred’s Special: Women in USA Chess Remembered

November 14, 2011

Many women suffer from the lure of distractions.  I believe this may be the key to why, unless training reduces such spirited distraction that come their way, women are thought of as inferior in terms of chess skill when compared to men.  For me to say this may cause my female readers to glare at the screen in disbelief.  How could I say such a thing?? I do not mean to speak with disrespect but now impart to you a bit of history that may shed some light into why I risk mental beatings across the miles from my “fans”.  For my subject, I have searched my historical collected data and found a female subject to illlustrate my point.

Mary Weiser Bain lived to the age 68 when she died in 1972. She was first recognized as a talent to watch when she defeated in 11-moves, Jose R. Capablanca during a simultaneous exhibition. She progressed and went on to play in the 1937 Womens’ World Championship, finishing 5th behind the winner Vera Menchik.  She became US Womens’ Chess Champion in 1951. She was invited by the USSR to participate in the International Tournament to determine the challenger to face Womens’ World Chess Champion of that period, Ludmilla Rudenko. The Soviet chess machine pulled out all the stops on providing for all the ladies a wonderful vacation in Moscow and well organized tournament which included cash for excursions, restaurants and gift purchases.  I imagine the clothing establishments provided a number of interesting garments  like dresses and hats to select from.

What is most noteworthy covering this period of history was the fact that the US and USSR were in the Cold War era.  Despite this, the Soviets did their best to lavish Miss Bain with all the qualities of friendship could muster and she conducted several correspondence– letters to a chess historian and researcher David Lawson and to the USCF President, Harold Phillips.  In these exchanges, she wrote about the quality and dedication to chess excellence shown by the organizers whose eventual theme was to spread friendship among nations.  She also felt some resentment to the US Chess Federation for it being rather disorganized as the American chess power.  She told of this when she found out that the Soviet invite included all expense paid trip for each entry and a master assistant aide. All the federations pursued this except the USA which somehow overlooked the invitation to include an aide. Hence, she was the only one without a second to help her with her preparations and study of adjourned games. Harry Golombek of Britain related to her, “It is such a sad thing  how a great country like the USA has such a weak chess federation.”

She was invited to a banquet upon arrival in Moscow of mountains of caviar, fish, flowl, vintage wines and ever-present vodka. A number of wonderful shows and tickets were given to participants.  As the tournament progressed, her mood was down especially when finding out about the USCF missing the boat about having an aide accompany her and losing close games due to no help in analysis of adjourned games having good positions and little sleep.

The stress of competition and no backup support clearly affected Mary Bain. She wrote to Lawson, “By November 6th I had only one win and felt devastated by her perceived failure. I would  like not to mention the great disappointment. I am still suffering. I didn’t sleep nor eat for the last 10 days. Good old Lidia, my standy, is very attentive and without her I probably would not be alive by now. Sees to it that I get some nourishment by force. She has taken me to the doctor several times. Now I am trying very hard to get back on my feet to salvage something, but I am afraid it is too late.”

Mary Bain’s correspondence with both Lawson and Phillips highlights the status of chess in America.  Women were probably not given much support by their male counterparts. Of course, maybe no one was willing to take the time to attend the event since most chessplayers needed to work for a living and likely had families to support. That is the most likely reason, not that the USCF fell down on giving her the support she required to do well. Emotionally however was her biggest problem, expressing fears even before they evolved on the board.

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Kindred’s Special: Women in USA Chess Remembered

November 14, 2011

Lina Grumette (1908-1988) had a love affair with chess and cherished the many acquaintances and friendships made through the years while exhibiting prowess as a tournament player, organizer, promoter, and found often in the worldly realm of skittles play. Such devotion to chess by a woman in any era seems rare in terms of the long duration of maintained interest. She could be found often in her club she started at her Hollywood home she named, “The Chess Set.”

Like most Californians, the beautiful weather and beauty of California attracted the Grumette family settling in Los Angeles where she ran a public relations firm. After her husband’s death, she decided to open a chess club in her beautiful home for entertaining many friends in show business and soon was drawing many chess fans.  Lina was known to entertain and encourage many of the masters in the region and was perhaps best known for her series of Futurity Tournaments held during the 1970s-80s– events that introduced many masters to international play and FIDE ratings.

She used her talents to promote various humane undertakings, pursuading Chevron among others to help with financial aid when she started the Chess Set Educational Trust–a non-profit venture to promote chess and help kids who had alcohol problems. Like many who brave the unknown, Lina had faith that her efforts in organizing  the lst Memorial Day Classic , 1980, refusing the skepticism of some friends that Los Angeles was not yet ready to support a big-money prize tournament. She skillfully made it a success. And she spearheaded interest of corporations to lend their support to her projects.

Perhaps the chessworld owes her many thanks for her contribution to the success of the World Championship Match between Boris Spassky and Robert J. Fischer in 1972. After Fischer had forfeited the 2nd game by not showing up to play, Lina who had known Fischer and shared respect for her managed by several hours of talking things out with him, convinced him with this exchange of comments (according to Lina), “But I am right!” Bobby declared, to which Lina simply replied, “So be right–and be ruined.”

Sometimes it takes a woman to rule the roost, even in chess. Her expertise of quality performances dealing with public relations she found most useful in her efforts to make chess be more than just a game of inert pieces– but a sport where the symbolic power of those wooden pieces brought forth the aesthetic beauty of both set, board and mental drama.

God Bless you dear friend of chess!

Kindred’s Special: Going to a Tournament

November 9, 2011

There are many ways to prepare to play in a chess tournament.  Here, the Spirit gives his own view and practice that has paid dividends over the years. Here is my listing:

  • Avoid looking at the chessboard and set at least 5- days prior to entering the event. During that time frame try to select what equipment to take–board, set, clock, score pad;
  • Rest up. Try to get at least 7-9 hours relaxation–walking for exercise, sleeping, fun with family and friends;
  • Eat balanced meals and favorite liquids in moderation;
  • Select clothes that are comfortable and pants with deep pockets;
  • Keep your wallet in your left side pocket, never in your hip pocket or sportcoat as these are a pickpocket’s best friend;
  • If possible, familiarize yourself with the rules and chess programs offered.  If not clear, telephone ahead to get some sort of activity schedule for both players and non-players;
  • Shop for the most economic means of travel–car, plane, bus, and best to enter by phone if credit cards are acceptable;
  • Location is important for restaurant dining, and public transportation like bus or taxi for those without vehicles;
  • At the site, communicate if with family or friends scheduling to avoid getting separated;
  • Play with good sportsmanship and enjoy the art of chess battle!
  • Leave quarters neat and clean when departing to return home.

Kindred’s Kaleidoscope: Upside Down World of Tournament Chess

November 8, 2011

Reading various chess books devoted to champions of the game otherwise termed, “chess nuts” who follow the trails to do battle in cities far and wide in hopes of playing the grandest game of their life has a long history where passing and no doubt future eras tend to find continued traces of addictiveness.  Chess tends to get into the blood and even for those who experienced it’s lure during adolescence find on occasion a secret desire to return to the battlefield, perhaps as a lark or attempt to rejuvenate some missed passion of youth missed by such absence. In some respects, I think the bond between the famous and not so famous–the professional and the amateur– share the delights of competition.

Fact!  It is difficult to earn a living. For the professional chessplayer — doubly so.  To  attempt such a venture requires sheer guts, and belief in one’s skill; I add another as being spirit driven where mind and body act in unison with goal setting levels toward achievement that depends entirely upon accumulative successes.  Today the numbers game (ratings) largely determine invitations to international tournaments so that the aspiring player must continue to play at a high winning percentage just to remain in the pool of eligibilty.

The single chess professional and amateur can financially absorb the total cost of tournament participation; the married player has financial woes to worry about not to mention arriving home and finding the spouse with hand out for the loot earned.  Often times the professional has to fall back on tours for chess exhibitions if they can even be arranged or add a journalist tag on his hat. For some–the pen is mightier than the sword!

Times change of course.  Go back to the 1936 International Nottingham Tournament which may well never had become part of the glorious history in British Chess had it not been the British Alderman and chess lover Derbyshire.  Such patrons in the past came forth to honor the chessworld with such sparkling arrays of tournaments across the world and thus brought tons of joy to the chess masses.  Even in those cases, it was the willing chess star to compete that brought forth the energies to stimulate locals to chip in time, energies and even financial donation toward success.  This has been the long journey of chess organizers throughout chess history. Every tournament before and since has been built around this common theme.  Still, the prize funds and distributions were most likely to find shortages in the pants pockets of the entry field.

For the modern era player and devotee, things changed largely due to the efforts and demands of Bobby Fischer who fought to raise the level of value to chess professionalism not only for himself but the whole herd of those who were able to keep pace in such a hectic world having uncertain returns.  All the bloodsuckers came out of the woodwork to cash in on the Fischer Boom as it was called by the United States Chess Federation (USCF).  In reality foreign players replaced the top cream of past American Championships as entry permits were based upon an established rating and only the highest need apply.  It was a natural since foreign Grandmasters far outpaced the ratings of American amateurs.  Samuel Reshevsky, Larry Evans, Bill Lombardy, Robert Byrne–just to name a handful of past American champions, left the active playing field.  Part of it, if not most of it, was FINANCIAL. The incentive of esprit de corps of America’s Championship Tournament was annexed by a new breed.

Bitter struggles within the FIDE body for power as well as in USCF where both are slowly being infiltrated within by socialist promotion standards is criminal.  What I mean by that is that the youth movement in chess where kids are taught the merits of self esteem over all else and that every child deserves a handsome trophy for just showing up to participate is sickening to this KindredSpirit. This weakens the morale fabric that was and is American values.

Should I get hate mail from readers, let me just say, “If you can’t stand the heat of truth, you are the problem.” Liberalism as described by Dr. Michael Savage in his radio broadcasts and in his writings tell a tale.  That reminds me.  I wanted to tell you to get a copy and read ABUSIVE POWER by Michael. A brilliant piece of mystery fiction. You will love it; I could not put the book aside until I read it all.

Kindred’s Special: Reshevsky vs. Kashdan, NYC, 1942 Chess Match, Game 11

November 1, 2011

For my readers:  You can view the marvelous career of Isaac Kashdan by doing a search on Google.

This, the  11th game obviously met with some dispair by Kashdan who managed to tie Reshevsky for the US Championship title and through a questionable time forfeiture during the Denker game, -was awarded lst-2nd place tie with Kashdan.  Both agreed to play a 14- game match as both did not like having co-champions in the US Championship believing there should be only one champion.  Although Kashdan went on to perform well in tournaments, his best years were the 1920s and 30s, after which he slowly declined due to age and his parental responsibilities and work except for a few major victories and high scoring tournaments but never again reached the zenith of his younger years. For a few years, he was editor of CCLA’s The Chess Correspondent.

White: Samuel Reshevsky     vs.     Black:  Isaac Kashdan          Opening:  Slav Defence

1. d4  d5  2. c4  c6  3. Nf3  Nf6  4. Nc3  dxc4  5. e3  Computers generally suggest 5. a4, the variation often seen in the Euwe – Alekine WCC match of 1937. Reshevsky adopted this 5. e3 as Kashdan favored it.

5. … b5  6. a4  b4  7. Na2  e6  8. Bxc4  Nbd7  Here Black seems happy to have driven back the Knight and will likely make getting his pieces into active play but this assault has weakened the Q-side pawns.

9. O-O  Bb7  10. Qe2  c5  11. Rd1  cxd4  Posing an interesting problem for White. For example, should he recapture with the pawn, he opens the diagonal for his Bishop but finds the Rook blocked by the isolani and a strong point on d5 for Black’s pieces.

12. Nxd4  Bc5  13. Nb3  There are other ideas here to consider. 13. Bxe6  fxe6 14. Nxe6  Qb6  15. Nxg7+ Kf7 16. Nf5 which is speculative due to the difficulty in developing the white Q-side forces. Should he venture into say, 13. b3 intending Bb2, then the c3 square and b3 pawn/square may prove weak during endgame play.  Here again, note the influence and value of square count.

13. … Be7  14.  a5!  Positionally a very wise move because it stops support by …a6-a5 of the b-pawn and zeros out the b6 square for piece action.

14. … O-O  15. Bd2  Qb8 16. a6  Bd5  A better choice again looking at square count theory suggests 16…Be4 and if 17. f3, then Bg6 with things like 18…Ne5 or 18…Bd6.

17. Bxd5  exd5  18. Nd4  Qb6  19. Nc1  Nc5  20. Ncb3 Rfd8?! 21. Na5  While this seems a good plan for White follow up play, better looks to be 21. Ra5 positionally speaking. For example, should Black then capture …Nxb3, 22. Nxb3  Rac8  23. Be1>f3>Bf2 jump moves look to give White a favorable position.

21. … Rdc8 22. Rdc1 Should 22. Bxb4 be considered good here?  The answer is no. 22.  … Qxb4  23. Nac6 Rxc6 24. Nxc6 Qe4 turns a plus to Kashdan.

22. … Bf8  23. Nab3  Ne4 24. Be1 Nxb3  Worth considering was 24…g6 >Bg7 striking the long diagonal.

25. Nxb3  Nc5  26. Nd4  Ne3 27. Nb3  Rc7  28. Rxc7  Nxc7 29. Qd3  Rd8 30. Qd4 Qb8 31. h3!  It is wise to give the King air and the pawn proves useful later on.

31. … Ne6 32. Qd3  Qe5 33. Nd4  Nxd4  Here, Kashdan goes astray missing 33…Rc1 34. Rd1 Nxd4 35. Qxd4 Qxd4 36. Rxd4  Rc8  37. Kf1 Ra8 38. Rxd5 Rxa6 leading to a drawish position. As played, Reshevsky gets to keep some pressure and Kashdan falters. Such microscopic edges, when combined, often lead to positions that become harder and harder to defend.

34. Qxe4  Qxe4  35. exd4 Rc1  36. Ra5  Rc7 Best was 36. …Rc6 with a likely drawish finish in the offering.

37. Rxd5 Rxb2  38. Rd7 Rxd7  39. Kf1  b3 40. Rxa7  g6  41. Rb7  Ra1  42. Rxb3  Rxa6  43. Rb8  Kg7  44. ke2  Ra2+ 45. Kd3  Ra3+ 46. Bc3  Bd6  47. Rb2 Be7  48. Kc4  Ra4+ 49. Kb5 Ra1  50. d5+ Kf8 51. Kc6  Ra8  52. Be5  Rc8+  53. Bc7  Bf6  54. Rb8  Rxb8  55. Bxb8  Bd4  56. Bd6+ Kg7  57. Bc5  Kashdan resigns and also the match.

Because of the war years, chess was in slight decline with pockets round the world of continued enthused interest just to perhaps block out the horrors of war, rationing, etc. This pressure chess match pinpoints age factors which ratings feature now various plateaus of current skill levels.  In Isaac Kashdan’s active chess through his prime to beginning dessent his rating is measured at 2700+, second in the world behind Alekhine.

This match followed on the heels of the regular championship that was perhaps flawed by the mistake of awarding a win to Reshevsky in his game with Denker when Denker felt he won on time forfeit. It caused Denker to never forgive Reshevsky because he knew Reshevsky lost on time. Whether chess archives on the championship proves this either way is past now. In any case, this match produced some very tight games and reflects the fighting spirit of both players.

Enjoy.