Over the years I have endeavored to not only find chess books featuring most of the famous players from the past, but also endeavored to find those written by amateur players, and devoted to regional history. Such a softcover is titled, THE CHESS GAMES OF DAVID LEES and authored by David Lees. I did a book review and recommended it, thoroughly enjoying the well prepared manuscript of exceptional quality.
It is a history of New England chess both as lived by the author, his own selected games that covered a period of chess growth nationally as well as regionally; his research, excellent assistants’ help acknowledged and written record of Massachusetts gift to American fans everywhere. I highly recommend this book to add to your own library.
White: David Lees vs. Black: Harlow Daly Opening: Sicilian Defense
Tournament: Eastfield Mall Open, Springfield, Massachusetts, Date March 2, 1969
Notes by Don Reithel
During this era, malls sprang up across much of the country. In Rochester, NY we had our own experiences with the early desire to attract customers. Our own experiences mirrored what David relates: steady decline in attendance and by 1981 (1988 here) such support ceased to exist.
I wonder if other malls across the country experienced a similar decline.
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 c:d4 4. N:d4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e5
This was Dr. Emmanuel Lasker’s way to play the Sicilian and gained the name Pelikan Variation. Perhaps the most famous game known by American players was the manner with which Robert Fischer handled the white pieces during his own apprenticeship. White’s next is considered the right way to play.
6. Ndb5 Bb4?!
Black chooses a course when he plays 3…e6. Normal is 6. … a6 where White seems to keep a microscopic edge but play is very sharp. Whole books have been written on this line.
7. a3 B:c3 8. N:c3 O-O
9. Bg5 h6 10. Be3 d6
Do you see why White enticed Black’s reply 9….h6? Also notice Black kind of voluntary exchange of King Bishop to save perhaps a misguided tempo idea is risky. The dark squares have been weakened. White elects to complete deployment of forces prior to any invasion using a K-side pawn rollup.
11. Be2 Be6 12. Qd2 Qd7
Harlow Daly was 85-years young and one of New England’s top players since 1901. Like many elders who pushed wood across those 64-squares, Harlow was a great storyteller. Perhaps such elderly players in our chess world today should enrich our chess life with their own reflections.
My chess correspondent, Charles Warburton, who I greatly admire for his skill said he was always of the belief that castling Q-side was weak in almost all cases and preferred castling K-side (O-O). Here, however, David’s plan seems good because he gains room to expand and his King is safe on the Q-side. But Black sees light with the events closing (e:d5) eliminating the backward QP weakness. But is it an illusionary misadventure after all?
13. … Rad8 14. f3 b6 15. Qe1 Qe7 16. Nd5 B:N!! 17. e:d5 Nd4 18. B:d4 e:d4 19. Bc4 Qe5 20. Qd2 N:d5 21. B:d5 Q:d5 22. Q:d4 Q:d4 23. R:d4 23. R:d4 Rfe8 24. Kd2 Re6 25. Re1 R:e1 26.K:e1 Kf8 27. Kd2 Ke7 28. Re4+ Kf6 29. Kd3 d5
The White/Black struggle finds Black’s backward pawn turning into a QP isolani. With the White King dominant, it seems only White can benefit. The following endgame play reminds me of the famous endgame Russian star V. Smyslov.
30. Re2 Rd6 31. Kd4 Re6 32. Rf2 Rd6 33. a4 Ke6 34. Re2+ Kd7 35. Re5 Kc6 36. g3 Rd7 37. f4 a6 38. b4 Rd6 39. Re7 Rf6 40. Re5 Rd6 41. g4 g6 42. Re7 Rf6 43. Ke5 Rd6 44. R:f7 Rd8 45. Rf6+ Kc7 46. R:g6 d4 47. Ke4 Re8+ 48. K:d4 Re2 49. R:h6 R:c2 50. g5 b5 51. a:b5 a:b5 52. g6 Rc4+ 53. Ke5 R:b4 Black resigns before White’s follow up play.
David mentions that he finished with a 4-1 finish and in the next year’s event scored 4.5 – .05 behind a Dr. Erich W. Marchand 5-0, a famous mathematician who was champ of USCF tournament participation for many years, President of the Rochester Chess Club, a Vice President of USCF and instrumental as a member of the committee appointed to create the USCF Elo-rating system.
We often times see upsets in many sports. It happens in chess, too. I am not referring to an individual game result but what occurred at the Massachusetts Open of 1978 deserves mention as a just conclusion for my article on Massachusetts chess. I have read similar tales coming from all across the country and most likely internationally as well.
As the 3rd round concluded, a chap by the name of David T. was in the lead with 3-0. Having drawn with John Curdo, one of the most astute players coming out of New England chess, we each stood at 2.5 points. Going to lunch, I expected David T. would be playing John Curdo, an obvious last round pairing while I would be matched with the highest 2-1 player provided we had not met earlier. Well, I came back from lunch only to see that David T. had withdrawn from the event! As he told me later, he reasoned that he would lose to Curdo who would surely tie for lst if I was to win or come lst if I drew or lost. By sitting it out, David T. figured he would be in the money with a 2nd place finish with 3 points. At best, if either of us drew, he would tie for part of the top cash prize.
As a tournament director over many years, I never came across this type of situation. In fact, while Mr. T. might be smart to guarantee winning some dough, trying one’s best would make his tournament a great experience and show good sportsmanship. Such generalship is hardly commendable. To anticipate total failure simply assures failure. Of course the old saying goes this way: JUST FOLLOW THE MONEY. In contrast, see a different outcome coming from self confidence.
Our most recent Marchand event attracted 6-grandmasters. I understand two withdrew. GM Kamsky came to play and won the event. But the surprise of the event was that one of our young club players tied for lst. Of course his opposition was not as strong. But surprise of surprises, he met and defeated a grandmaster in the final round!
Years ago, our Rochester tournaments were $5 entry fees. Our opens were sometimes $10 and only much later raised to $20. Ha! Ha! At today’s fees, one probably would not draw many to come out. The difference was that years ago players came to renew that bond with fellow chess players as regionals were few and far between. We came to play chess and test our mettle. Few cash prizes existed anyway so the spirit of achievement was the attraction. With today’s high entry fees, withdrawals are rare but disturbing to me because the BUCK is why a few come. Enjoyment of good competition within their class of entries continues to be the honey that fills their joy!