Archive for January, 2013

Kindred’s Special: A Visit with Blindfold Chess

January 29, 2013

From earliest recorded times, board games like chess and checkers has been the attraction of audiences whereever such spectacles have been organized and history shows the beautiful games that emerge from the wits of the immortals.  To the public who may find a work here or there, usually through the written word in newspapers of the day, such a display of brilliant combinations and mating attacks was a crowd pleaser.  As world blindfold champion George Koltanowski writes in his excellect book, In The Dark, “This natural interest in the spectacular is nowhere so well reflected as in the long history of blindfold chess.”

Blindfold exhibitions have been recorded before modern rules or manner of such play was known.  In 970 A.D. Joseph Tchelebi, a Greek traveler, astounded the players in Tripoli with his ability to play without sight of the board or pieces. He had been to India, Persia, and throughout the Near East giving such exhibitions of his play.

In 1266, a famous Saracen player named Buzeccia was invited to Florence, Italy by Count Popoli to display his chess prowess without viewing the board or pieces. He played 3 games, two blindfold and one with sight. He won two games and drew one to the applause of the guests present.

Carrera, in his work on chess printed in 1617 in Sicily, noted the names of Mangiolini, Zerone, Medrano and Ruy Lopez as superb blindfold artists.

The modern chess blindfold exhibitions in part show the accomplishments among many well known players– Morphy (8); Zukertort (16); Pillsbury (22); Reti (24); Breyer (25); Alekhine (28 and 29); Reti (29); Koltanowski (30); Alekhine (32); Koltanowski (34); Najdorf (45) claimed; Flesch (52).

Fast forward to the Rochester Chess Club.  Ken Rogoff  played a 10 game blindfold simultaneous against most of the best local players one Saturday with 9-wins and 1-loss to me.

Dave Love and I played  a number of blindfold games against each other and can attest to what George Koltanowski wrote in his book that playing blindfold chess increased the skill for critical thinking in demanding resourceful play and sharpening the visualization of what I have called jump moves.

At a five board blindfold exhibition at the Wayne Chess Club, I played the following game:

1. e4  c6  2. Nc3  d5  3. Nf3 dxe4  4. Nxe4 Nf6  5. Qe2  Nbd7???  6. Nd6 checkmate.

This trappy idea of Qe2 has been played numerous times in different or similar ways. It points to some of my previous lectures on squares, having King mobility and art for castling early to avoid getting the King trapped in the center and or elimination of freedom to move.

Actually my opponent was not a bad player. But he said he simply was playing by rote and not thinking.  Always have a plan in mind and watch out for checks.

The blindfold player often collects a mental record of classic games. This often brings about repeats or a variation of a thought. Note my comments that history has a high repeat ratio. Here maestro Koltanowski versus Dunkelblum displays what I often dream about but never achieve.

1. e4  c6  2. d4  d5  3. Nc3  dxe4  4. Nxe4  Bf5  5. Bd3.

Often, the blitz and blindfold artists will surrender a bit of material for open lines and freer development.

5. …. Qxd4  6. Nf3  Qd8  7. Qe2  Nf6  8. Nxf6 check gxf6  9. Bxf5  Qa5 check.

No doubt Black was feeling pretty good using this bank shot to regain material.

10. Bd2  Qxf5  11.  O-O-O Qe6  12. Qd3  Qxa2.

Often times the player has false assurance that the game is in the bag because of his opponent not having sight of the playground.  This proves an asset as this game illustrates the folly of such pawn grabbing. DEVELOP, DEVELOP, DEVELOP.  He should have played Nd7. The position is now identical  to Reti vs. Tartakower which arose out of a French Defence.

13. Qd8 check!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Kxd8  14. Ba5 double-check  Kc8  15. Rd8 checkmate.

Kindred’s Special: Religion and Chess History–Time Mends; Time Heals

January 22, 2013

Pope John Paul II was fond of chess art and it is recorded that he composed chess problems in his youth.  His predecessor was also a strong player and the Vatican it is said did not always approve of this pastime.

Many games were regarded as ‘the handmaiden’ of the devil and by such superstition and belief found historical periods where the game itself or reference thereof was banned along with other games of chance.  A number of ecclesiastical edicts going back to the 11th century forbid the clergy and monastic orders from yielding to its temptations calling it a demonic vice of sorts.  Then, the Church decided to reverse its long-held position when the Spanish Priest by the name of Ruy Lopez published his book in 1581 on chess giving it a new birth of air.  Such was his cleverness in dealing with opponents, he advocated seating opponents so that the sun was in their eyes during the game.  Beyond the Roman Catholic Church view was that of the Koran that listed chess among the abominations to be shunned by the Faithful.  Mohammed objected to the carved pieces that was claimed to be idolatry.  Eventually the game was permitted so long as its practice did not interfere with religious prayer or lead to gambling and swearing.

The passage of time saw small but positive movement in design and rules of play.  For example, Davidson’s A SHORT HISTORY OF CHESS notes that it was about 1550 when the pawn uniformly enjoyed the power of moving two squares as an option on its first move; the en passant rule followed immediately and inevitably the introduction of the double initial move.  Howard Staunton stated that taking a pawn in passing was to be taken as forced where stalemate would be the decision otherwise.

Perhaps one of the most recognizable changes in chess is the development of opening theory, closely followed by various element features especially those involving endgame patterns that give experience a hand up in achievements.

One of the giants of blindfold chess exhibitions was George Koltanowski who was born 113 years ago.  In his excellent book titled, IN THE DARK, he performs not only some beautiful chess surprises on the board but also records a long joyful tour of blindfold play with extraordinary delights from his pen and the human comedy side of chess adventure as well.  About the time of the Fischer and Spassky World Championship Match, he provided a host of chess shorts for television that proved enormously popular.  I highly recommend this book to my readers who will find the human side of this immortal game!

Kindred’s Special: 2013 MARCHAND MEMORIAL OPEN

January 14, 2013

THE  STRONG’S NATIONAL  MUSEUM  OF  PLAY will once again provide the playing site of this famous tournament which has been held annually for 35 years!  This popular event that attracts a large turnout is located at One Manhattan Square, Rochester, NY 14607.  No Smoking allowed on the Strong Campus. This notice is not official. Please get an official entry form from the Rochester Chess Center.

THE  35TH RUNNING OF THE MARCHAND OPEN WILL BE HELD ON THE WEEKEND OF MARCH 23-24, 2013.

PRIZE FUND GUARANTEED $10,750 with 120 Grand Prix Points and FIDE Rated in the Open section.

This will be a 5-round Swiss System Tournament; USCF Rated;  Time Control will be G/120 w-5 second delay.

4-Sections :   Open $2000-1300-850-550-300 Under 2200 and Under 2000 each $500-$300. Entry fee: $70

                      Under 1800 section: $600  –  400 – 250  Under 1600 section $400 – 250  Entry fee:  $65

                      Under 1400 section: $400 – 275 – 175  Under 1200 section  $275 -175    Entry fee:  $60

                      Under 1000 section:  $260 – 190 – 130 – 70    Under 800  150 – 90 –  60      Entry fee: 55

ALL ENTRY FEES AFTER 3/15/2013  ADD  $25. NYSCA mbrs deduct $3.00, USCF membership required

REGISTRATION:  8:30 am  to 9:15 am.  Rounds: Sat. 10 am;   2:15 pm;  6:30  pm.  Sunday 10 am;  2:15 pm

Optional first round 7 pm on Friday night at the Rochester Chess Center, 221 Norris Drive, Rochester, NY 14610  Register by 6:30 pm………………. Phone (585) 442-2430.

Bring sets, boards, clocks pens or pencils.  None supplied.  Food is available;  FREE PARKING  On Site: Chess supplies for sale.

All information available / Request Entry Form  from Ron Lohrman or staff member, Rochester Chess Center, 221 Norris Drive, Rochester, NY 14610

THE RESULTS ARE IN!!

ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL RESULT THAT ATTRACTED OVER 140 INCLUDING 3 GRANDMASTERS, MANY MASTERS AND EXPERTS AND SOME  CLASS PLAYERS WHO BRAVED THE CHALLENGE OF THE OPEN SECTION.  ALL CASH PRIZES WERE AWARDED. STAY TUNED FOR A NEWS UPBEAT. I DID NOT GET ALL THE INFO WHEN WAS AT THE ROCHESTER CHESS CENTER BUT HERE IS THE LIST OF TOP RATEDS AND MONEY PRIZES. CLASS PRIZES WERE NUMEROUS AND SPLIT WITH TIES FOR PRIZES.

4.5  MIKHEIL  KERKELIDZE    2602   $3300,   BRIAN A. SMITH  2533   $3300,  4.0  ZVIAD IZORIA  2633  & EUGENE PERELSHTEYN  2586 ,  MATT J. PARRY  2281 SPLIT 3 $1650,  3.5  THOMAS BARTELL  2478,  IGOR NIKOLAYEV  2379,  DEEPAK AARON 2338,  BEATRICE MARINELLO 2218.

WE HAD THE HONOR OF HAVING BEATRICE MARINELLO IN THIS EVENT. SHE WAS A CANDIDATE FOR OFFICE IN USCF AND HEAD OF THE  CHESS TRUST THAT BENEFITS BOTH ADULTS AND CHILDREN CHESS PROGRAMS IN THE UNITED STATES.

Why no games from the event? I put one on under the title about coincidence. Interesting battle. Most players appear shy or simply do not want to give away their secrets and openings they play. SAD.

Kindred’s Special: Acquiring Knowledge in Chess Historical Periods

January 8, 2013

The development of computer chess programs is the ultimate attraction for children.  There is no doubt that quality coaching enhances the development of young minds toward the joy of experiencing the fruits of adventure taking place on the board; with the modern training techniques it has more than once seen a child who almost must stand on the seat to reach the sphere of the whole board.  Through my lesson articles and ‘pep talks’ encouraging my readers to partake in our adventure together of discovering the wonders that have attracted people from every land is no easy task.  While I place importance on the benefits of chess, others often disagree seeing little or no relationship with life experience.  Such players were taught the moves, the fundamental relationship of opening, middlegame and endgame only as it applies to strategy and tactics.  They associate nothing other than hours of study toward a goal of mastership.

A multitude of chess literature from magazine articles to chess classics exist that have now expanded into the realm of the computer age.  Former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik perhaps sums it up best, “If you want to reach the heights of interest, you should study the entire history of chess. I cannot give a clear logical explanation for it, but I think it is absolutely essential to soak up the whole of chess history.”

The study of chess Legends from the time of Howard Staunton, all the official World Champions, is a sure method of establishing your own style of play. And being in the class of Art, it is measurable by viewing that playwrights are familiar with Shakespeare, classical musicians with Mozart.  Newton famously remarked that if he had seen further, it was because he stood on the shoulders of giants of science who came before and their own efforts for discovery.  The modern world has exacted what took many hours and even years to absorb can now be found in an accelerating universe of ideas.

To sum up: The main value of chess history and historic treatment of chess play present examples of, ‘How not to play chess by offering up sufficient examples of answering the critics for CHESS MARCHES ON!!’  It points to the truism, “Those who forget or just plain ignorant of history, are condemned to repeat and relive it.

Books to study:  Richard Reti’s MASTERS OF THE CHESSBOARD; Aron  Nimzowitch’s CHESS PRAXIS; QUEEN OF THE KINGS GAMES featuring Susan Polgar; David Bronstein’s THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE; Landsberger’s WILLIAM STEINITZ – CHESS CHAMPION.

To answer a list of questions that appear in issues at the end of NIC, I present my own views.

Favorite Color…Off-white and Blue.  Favorite dishes… Manhattan clam chowder, Corn chowder, Beef tips over rice with gravy sauce; Chicken or Turkey dinners and Chicken noodle soup, Fresh veggies. Drink..Large glass of water, Almond milk. Books or TV classics…Rumple of the Bailey, Humphrey Bogart and wife Lauren Bacall, Cary Grant, Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn roles The Good Earth,  Grapes of Wrath. Twain stories.  Music….Light jazz, classical, Christmas, Love songs, western. Appreciation of others….Honesty, integrity, friendship.  Fear….That I shall not achieve my goal of service to others.  Favorite player(s)….All who possess my traits mentioned earlier.