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Openings and Scattered Thoughts

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Chess does not change. It is the player who changes. And perhaps this can be seen and even analyzed from a psychologicl point of view. Chess is a wonderful tool to self-examination. Chess is your Mind in action. This is why I think that in the matter of our game, the sum of the parts is greater than  the whole itself. Don’t believe it?

In CC you do not need to memorize openings. (This is one of the differences in relation with OTB Chess). CC players use books, magazines, databases personal notes , etc. Another difference (and there are many) is that CC players may have several games in progress at the same time. And a third difference would be that there are no professional players in CC. But there are World and European Champions, there are GMs and IMs, and so on. All of us struggle to maintain and improve our ratings, try to become IMs or GMs, etc. Different people, different approaches to Chess, different motivations, different personalities, different reactions to victories and losses…

In the particular matter of openings, I suppose there are several approaches too: there are players with a clear idea of the openings they want to use and , consequently, they employ them on a constant basis with the adequate update, and there are players who like using different openings depending on their mood at the time of starting a new tournament. Some players prefer complicated openings while others try to avoid long, involved variations and prefer getting out of the book (databases) as quickly as possible.

In my case (the one I best know…) I have played different openings/defences during my CC practice. At first (28 years ago) I used the set-ups I was using for OTB Chess: 1. e4 , the Sicilian  and the Nimzoindian/Queens Indian/Orthodox . As soon as I became more and more interested in playing CC, I began to use those other openings that had attracted my attention when studying GMs’ games: the English, the King’s Indian Defence and the Sicilian. Shifting from the English to the Queen’s Gambit is a natural step, so for a long time, I became a CC 1. d4  player (while for OTB Chess, 1.e4 kept on being my main option. (I remembering reading an article in a Correspondence Chess Bulletin in which the matter of the first move was discussed no databases/computers yet-.The author defended that since CC and OTB Chess were so different, the openings should be different depending on which king of  game you were going to play. ) All opinions should be respected.

Today, in 2014, we do not use stamps and postcards to play CC (there are events still arranged under that formula though, but the major part of today’s CC is played through the Internet). The amount of information is immense and most of the players can have access one way or another to it. (I still remember how over 30 years ago some games were published months after they had been played and this if they were published, with professional OTB chessplayers trying to get as many local and foreign Chess magazines as possible to try to get information about the latest TNs’… On those days “the Soviet chessplayers” were feared like the plague: they seem to be factory of new players and unknown opening novelties found by the players themselves, their trainers or even some obscure player in a remote region to be used in their games against the rest of the world. -In this respect , when I was a boy I read the following  story: Before the Candidates’ Final between Petrosian and Fischer in Buenos Aires 1971, Petrosian had to play against V. Korchnoi. A relatively unknown player, the then Candidate Master V. Chebanenko, found a TN in the Taimanov Variation of the Sicilian. He left his finding in a sealed envelope  that had to be given “to the winner of the Petrosian-Korchnoi match”. A wonderful example of loyalty to true Soviet principles! -Another version states that , in fact, the novelty 11…d5! had been found by Suetin -Petrosian’s second- and kept secret for nine years But aren’t nine years too many years to run the risk of other people, even Fischer himself, finding this move???)

To me, Chess -apart from many other things-, is also a self-psychological tool. I mean I try to understand myself through Chess (once again let me recommend GM Rowson’s books and Abrahams’ “The Chess Mind” among many others). So, today I still continue using different openings as White while as Black my all-time hypermodernistic approach has changed perhaps not towards full classicism but to a more eclectic approach (in short: these days I prefer seeing my Pawns on the centre than seeing my opponents’ ones with me trying to attack them from the sides…) So the Sicilian in its various forms keeps being my pet defence against 1. e4, but against 1.d4/1.c4/1.Nf3 I prefer a more classical approach, avoiding extreme defences like the Benoni or the Grünfeld. Even the Nimzoindian/queen’s Indian are being substituted by set-ups with the move …d5 (Orthodox or Ragozin, for instance. BUT WHY?

Another important matter concerning the differences between OTB Chess and CC is that in CC you never see your opponent. So, is the human being ready to accept a fight when the fighters cannot see one another?. Then,don’t we try to apply analogical processes to a strange situation because our mind needs some guidelines to act?. If so, how this process is done?. Once again, what I am writing is only my personal experience but after nearly 30 years playing CC I have noticed that the rating of the players involved is the first red thread everybody tries to follow. (The second would be te outcome of previous encounters with the same opponent). Since I do not want to state certainties, I will put it down in the form of questions:

When you are playing against some opponent with the SIM,IM or GM title, haven’t you noticed s/he never accepts a draw offer unless the position is absolutely drawish ? The same when your opponent is 40/50 or more ELO points above you. Isn’t it? 

When you meet that same titled player or the one with more ELO points that you and in a first encounter you had made a relatively easy draw as Black, if you have to play against him again, hasn’t it happened to you that s/he changes his opening for another perhaps more complicated one? (These days I m playing -as Black- against an opponent above me in the ranking. I had played before against him and in a Najdorf I had got an easy draw as Black against his 6.Be2 variation. This time I knew he was not going to play 6. Be2… And in our game he has just played 6. Be3 (!). The thinking process is clear: “I have more ELO than my opponent so I’m better than him. This time I will play aggressively to smash him because I’m better:”)  How many assumptions does this way of reasoning contain???  But “assumptions” both in Chess and life can be absolutely devastating: they are related to analogies and suppositions, and , in my humble opinion, they may lead you to a parallel non-existent world, especially when you continue linking one assumption after another to justify or explain your decisions. (After all, ratings are comparative evaluations, games have to be played and there are many circumstances surrounding the players and the process of playing Chess. In 1972 Fischer nad never beaten Spassky : some draws and three clear victories for Boris could have been considered  a terrible handicap for the American…)

When one takes something irreal as real, then the consequences derived may be also very real. And curiously, this seems to work only for bad consequences…

As time has been passing by, I have become an absolute relativist concerning Chess.Chess is so complex that every game always shows a sort of  a rather unstable balance. This is why games continue being won and lost. No matter if you are aided by a computer. In the end the computer find moves because the manufacturer has added an evaluation element.  In the end again, you have to play one move in a position and this implies analyzing, evaluating, using your intuition and experience, using your ability to anticipate your opponents’ threats/ideas, and so on. BUT all ths take place into your mind. Can we be sure the process we are using are correct????

(In the meanwhile, the human being keeps playing Chess throughout the world. Isn’t it wonderful?)

Kraemer and Zeppler

Kraemer and Zeppler. Mate in three moves.

QChess.

Written by QChess

September 26, 2014 at 7:15 am

101 Posts. Contradictions.

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What we cannot speak about, we must pass over in silence” Wittgenstein.

I have been writing in this blog for many months. Now I am in a stand-still because I have fallen in a curious state: I think I cannot write about Chess. 

Firstly, I am not a professional OTB player. I’m , simply, a CC one. Secondly, perhaps I could tell my own experiences, but nothing more. Even top professional GMs have problems with trying to write about the game.

I suppose Chess is so vast a world that it cannot be taught. It can only be learnt. In my writings I have tried to show that CC and OTB Chess are very different, and this implies different ways of training and studying Chess. (One single fact: for an OTB player memorizing opening lines is vital. Not for a CC player, who has databases to look up during the game. So, as time has been passing by, I tend to think perhaps wrongly- that I hardly know opening lines… (or am I being too self-critical?). In any case , CC players can vary their opening repertoires as much as they desire because they do not need to commit to their memories tons of opening variations. 

The present state of Chess theory is overwhelming. It is nearly impossible to know everything about several different lines. Only professional players can try to keep  all the Najdorf lines, all the Ruy Lopez and another system as Black against 1.d4 in their minds. In CC this problem is relative: you play the opening with your databases, so in the same tournament you could be playing two Najdorf, two Spanish , two Italian, one QGA, three Nimzoindian one Benoni and two Queen’s Indian openings/defences without fearing to forget / change moves or not knowing entire subvariations… And in another tournament perhaps at the same time, you decide to play the English as White and the Grünfeld as Black…In a sense the challenge is (to me ) absolutely attractive. CC is the continuation of the eternal game but with other means at our disposal.

I don’t know if possible CC players reading this blog agree with  this (of course you may  be the type of CC  player  with a fixed opening repertoire  . Then your situation is a bit different. But I guess most average CC players like changing the openings they use for the sake of exploring new alternatives, play different positions -more aggressive/more strategical, etc- because they have everything and everything updated in their databases.) To put it in a nutshell: you don’t need to memorize opening lines to play CC now.

As for the CC players’ approach (I’m thinking of the ICCF), today nobody plays for fun (and this is great, in my opinion). Nobody spends time and money to play in the ICCF simply for fun, for making new friends and so on. People are out for blood. They play to win because victories give you rating points and the possibility of reaching norms. The use of computers have turned CC into an extremely specialised matter. The ICCF outstanding webserver have nearly finished with the old practice of postcards + stamps (the costs have been drastically reduced and everything is under control with no possibilities of moves going astray in the post, expensive registered letters, misunderstandings, etc.). So people play out their games till a result is nearly unavoidable.

These days I have also been thinking about the players who have most influenced me. A trip down memory lane. This has led me to try to understand how I play Chess and which my most important defects are.

When I began to study Chess my first books/influences were Karpov, Nimzowitsch, Petrosian, Reti and Botvinnik. So I was influenced by strategical/positional players rather than by tactical ones. (Everybody says you must start learning tactics, combinations, etc. I began the other way round: by trying to understand Petrosian’s and Karpov’s positional games, Nimzowitsch elaborated -sometimes tangled- expressions…) Curiously enough, this has had a consequence affecting my character: that chessic influences have affected my life outside Chess. I tend to analyse, see or understand everything from a sort of strategical point of view, trying to solve all the matters in life in a strategically planned way (forgive me but it is easier to understand it than to express the idea with words. I hope you understand what I mean).

And here I am: re-reading Chess books, thinking about how to improve my play and in a terrible contradiction. After all, who am I to write about Chess? The Internet is full of Chess blogs written by GMs. You can buy those wonderful books by M. Dvoretsky, J. Nunn, J. Rowson, J Aagaard, A. Soltis, J. Timman, etc. 

This blog began to be written in February 2012. When I am writing these words (end of  August 2014 )it has  had well over 6,300 visits. I am very grateful to all the people who have spent their time having a look at it. 

Now, you may like to solve these 3-movers: 

Otto Fuss

Otto Fuss . Mate in 3 moves

Galitzky

A.W. Galitzky. Mate in 3 moves.

QChess.

Written by QChess

August 31, 2014 at 3:34 pm

A Hundred Posts

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This post will be the 100th one… after a long time without writing. I have been playing and re-reading… 

Playing CC these days is painful. You start a new ICCF tournament. So you receive the list of player in your mail and the games appear in your ICCF page. At first you are delighted: some new opponents, perhaps other(s) you have already played against or are still playing in another group. In the Master class tournaments are made up with 11 players, so 5 games as White, 5 games as Black. I tend to send my first moves on the very start-date (no clues before the alloted time starts to  run…) Some opponents send their first move as soon as they receive the pairing list. Me not. Well, you see your White opponents´first move and then you have to decide which defences you are going to use.  some times you stick to your all-time favourite defences but against some opponents you decide to change: you are in high spirits and decide to “innovate”. In one of my tournaments this has led me to accept IQP isolated Queen Pawns (showing sheer STUPIDITY since I have never liked IQP…) Why have I done that??? I cannot say. So I´m stupid. Perhaps I convinced myself that really nothing happens and so on. But the outcome has been clear: worse positions with the Black and the White pieces. Yes, I am STUPID.) The moral of this is clear: DON’T PLAY WHAT YOU DO NOT LIKE  ALLOWING YOUR OPPONENTS TO ATTACK YOU for free  .

As White the same thing may happen: you are a 1. e4-player BUT you have been playing the English against some training program and you believe 1. c4 is “very interesting”. So you play it only to be taken into some obscure lines you have never seen before and then you are struggling to get a draw as the lesser evil…  (Remember that today everybody uses computers and huge databases to caught you on the hop…). Then you feel pity about yourself defending stupid positions which only shows your own stupidity. Since the ICCF calculates your ELO rating every three months, mine looks like a chain of mountains…

I have played against many opponents with IM/SIM titles. It is very curious to play against them. In fact they are in your own class, but the difference in rating may be of 100 or even more points. Well, they tend to play thinking that their permanent titles are something definitive: no, you have no title but they do have one. So, they “must” beat you. Either you get an absolutely and nearly dead drawn position or be ready to play on and on till the bare Kings are left…

Well, the first you must bear in mind if you are a CC player is that CC is very different from OTB Chess. The second lesson is that a 99,99% of the Chess books have been written by OTB players for OTB players, not for CC ones. So most of the theories about tactics, calculation, and so on are nearly useless for CC players (after all, you can use books, notes, opening databases and Chess programs. OTB PLAYERS CAN’T, in CC you can analyse by moving the pieces on the chessboard. In OTB you can’t either.  We are speaking of the same game but played in different worlds. The third idea has to do with opening theory…I am not going to give away my secret weapons but I can offer a clue: not all the modern opening databases contain absolutely all the games played with a certain line. You have to find the “holes” in them. This implies examining teens of games played by past Masters in obscure tournaments and sometimes these Masters were not the most famous ones…In many cases, when you manage to catch your opponent relatively unaware, the position you reach may show a slight advantage to you or perhaps a bigger one… I have found games played a 80 years ago featuring lines which are still played. Here you have to dig in search of gold… Get it?

Another interesting fact -in my opinion- is that we are still labouring with too many prejudices and commonplaces. We have build a lot of “mental states” , we believe they are true, and what is worse, we use them as a sort of “Holy Writ” believing they are immutable. FORGET about things like the following:

. Playing the White pieces is more advantageous that playing the Black ones =  wrong (and I am not going to discuss statistical data)

. As White you  must make two mistakes before you are lost. As Black, one is enough = wrong.

. White must attack while Black must defend first = wrong.

. 1. e4 players are attacking players while 1. d4 players are positional players = wrong.

. In CC games you can play all sort of openings even those considered relatively /(or even very) inferior = wrong (you have a program your opponents have a program, no zeitnot-mistakes, etc.,  ring a bell??)

. If you copy the moves in GMs’ games you will always obtain the advantageous positions they obtain = wrong (there are many junctions a good program can find for a CC player. And today’s Chess is changing so quickly you cannot copy games from the past without updating them accurately. Forget about playing now with the theory Fischer used in 1970, for instance, let alone if you try to use games played 80 or 90 years ago. This does not mean you will not find IDEAS, but beware of opening lines…)

. Then you may think studying the classics is a waste of time: it is up to you, In my opinion this is also wrong because the more one knows about the development of Chess ideas, the better. I like studying the classics to try to understand how they thought, and compare the changes into the different approaches to Chess throughout time, the development of new ideas, and so on. Bobby Fischer studied Steinitz, Capablanca and the rest of his predecessors. Karpov studied Capablanca and Spassky did the same with Alekhine. Others preferred Lasker, Tarrasch , Keres, Botvinnik or Nimzowitsch. But in this matter you must decide your course of action.

.  “If you lose it is good because  you learn” : absolutely wrong (you learn when training at home. Supposedly we play tournament Chess in official events either OTB or CC - to WIN not to learn…) In life we go to exams at school, university, etc to PASS them and get our goals, not to learn by falling them. So in Chess).

. In CC you should only play a few games so as to devote many hours to them. In my opinion this can be true or wrong, because if it is true that the more games you play the more possibilities to lack enough time to devote to them, it may also be true that you may have a lot of time to devote to them. It depends on your personal situation. After all, a professional GM can find the best move after thinking for a few minutes or play a big blunder after pondering over a position for over half an hour… Petrosian spoke about this curious thing. Chess is about working with threats (yours and your opponents’, using lateral thinking or normal logic, being aware of different factors, and so on.)

. Bobby Fischer said: “At the age of 11 I just got good”. No top GM can explain why/how they “just” got good in the same way that the best among the best deny having a “Chess style”. (Karpov: “I don’t think I have a Chess style” ) Think about it. (But we love definitions, names, narrative… We love explaining things with words to feel relieved, we think we are “positional” players or “attacking” ones, we say we are “fighters” and perhaps we tend to think all this musings are our own character in our daily lives… As GM Rowson explains, we live according to some sort of myth. Which is the myth you are living according to?).

. Perhaps it is very difficult to explain how a chessplayer can become a top GM. Two people can have access to the same literature and the same sort of practice, etc. but one of them may become a GM while the other one remains a club player… This also happens in music, for instance. In cases like these ones, people speak of “talent”, and here we realize it is impossible to describe perhaps not what talent is, but how it developes in some individuals. At least one thing seems clear: “practice makes perfect”, (or takes you nearer and nearer… I hope.) 

mate in 3

M. Schneider (1935) .- Mate in 3 moves. 

QChess.

Written by QChess

July 1, 2014 at 4:11 pm

The Fox and the Grapes

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Many people (both inactive and active chessplayers) today disparage Chess, no matter if they played/are playing OTB or CC. Of OTB they say there are too many and too long opening variations, that players tend to play the safe side by shooting 25 or 30 book moves and then if the opponent makes a mistake they try to cash in on it and if not the game may peacefully end in a draw without further ado. They say this way of playing Chess is boring and that the aim of the super-GMs is not to lose valuable ELO points. They say other things too…(One of the problems is that they are not super GMs…)

Of CC they say that the use of computers have killed the game. They do not need to add any more.

Well, Chess is something you can choose to play or not. If you are an OTB professional, you will have to accept the new way of doing things and try to earn your living.If you are not a professional it’s up to you : either you play Chess or not. Easy.

As for CC (a field with no professional players) some people complain against the use of computers, and even some people with a blog like this one rail against CC with real disgust… One post after another they snivel and whimper about how good they could have been but for the damned computer their criminal opponents use against them…(Incidentally, I tend to see this as a clear case of “the-fox-and-the-grapes” tale:  to put it simple: they were bad in the past when there were no computers and they are bad now but having something to put the blame on. And moreover they boast about their blogs and include their games  to show how well they played . Do they really believe their potential readers will waste their time reproducing such things when they can reproduce games by Capablanca, Fischer, Karpov, Alekhine, Keres, Tal, Spassky, etc???)

The Internet has created a communication revolution. In a matter of seconds you can have access to tons of information or can generate your own messages in webpages or personal blogs like the present one with the possibility of reaching thousands of readers with a single click of the mouse. It has its  drawbacks as you know too. (I read different Chess blogs/webpages, of course. But I will never visit again those I consider destructive or , simply, “crap”. Let be clear.) This is why I insist so much in telling you that here you will find my own opinions (never absolute truths) and this is why I stress on the importance of doing your own work, your own research, to reach your own conclusions. 

I do not want to be “followed” , and only when I write about historical facts I try to be as objective as possible,by using my Chess library to checks facts, dates etc. Otherwise, I try to tell my first-person experience about those things I had the luck of witnessing. My aim is , only, to mention as many topics / ideas as possible for you to investigate, never to teach anything to anybody. You must remember that the essence of Chess is in the thousands of books written by time-honoured Chess trainers, World Champions and all the leading chessplayers in the history of our game. (If you had never studied, say, Keres, and by reading one of my posts you begin to get interested in his life and Chess legacy, that is the idea!). 

On the other hand, let me recommend you not to fall under the influence of those who write simply to dismiss, devaluate, denounce, protest against, even insult everything that moves. Be positive. Studying the history of Chess is like studying the history of music, of painting, etc. Bruce Lee said that every type of knowledge was, in fact, a way to self-knowledge , your self-knowledge

Nobody owns a thing like “the absolute truth”. The better a man/woman is in the field of his/her election, the humblest they tend to be. Or they will never become “the best”

Problem

(Since the page has started to create problems and untill I will be able to solve them (or stop writing forever…) here is the position to solve:

White: Kb2 -Bg2 – Qh2 – Ra6.

B.:  Kc5 – Nf7 – Nb1 -Pawn b4 

This is  a mate-in-three problem by Bull, 1932. In my notes there is a small note: “very difficult”. Problems of mate in three moves may be very deceptive. But remember they are an ultra-precise filigree work. And the less pieces, the more space, so the more fleeing squares for the King under attack… In any case, an excellent training ground for one’s tactical skills.

QChess.

Written by QChess

May 15, 2014 at 6:15 pm

Training Tactical Calculation

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Mate in 3

 

POSITION 1. Mate in 3 moves

 

Basil

 POSITION 2: Mate in 3 moves

 It is not a secret that one of the methods I use to train is to solve problems of mate in 3 or 4 moves. I have made a small compilation of this type of problems but I have not always annotated who the author is… This happens with the two above: I only know the name of the position 2 author: Basil. From time to time I choose these or those positions and try to find the solution. Sometimes it takes me a few minutes. On other occasions I have to devote several days to try to solve one particular  position in . These training sessions may last one hour, half an hour or ten minutes. Sometimes you see the details of the position very quickly, but you are unable to accomplish the specification: only 3 moves. In other cases, your mind revolves around residual ideas and then it is better to leave the damned thing for the next session. (And some positions may be very tricky and then you begin to wonder if you will have taken down the correct position or not…). There is no strategy involved, but you must find the key squares for the pieces involved. When one of the pieces has several squares to go, you can be sure only one of them is the correct one. As you know, different tactical motifs are involved. I prefer positions with few pieces, not those with boards full of chessmen in a sort of chaos. A matter of taste, I suppose.

When one is not playing but try to devote one’s time to training sessions, the problem is to find activities which really help you to understand Chess. Should one study openings and openings alone? Should  one solve tactical problems from  GMs’ games? Should one study games? Or perhaps only huge volumes devoted to endgames?. Is it better to know “how” rather than to know “what”?. I cannot tell you what is the best (if any) way of doing things. 

To play Chess one knows to master different fields: openings , strategy, tactics, endgames, planning. But the amount of information is such that it is impossible to know everything about all those fields. So you have to be selective. Today you can easily get the latest Chess book in a matter of days (buying them, so paying for them, a fair deal) or you can get a lot of information from the Internet. The key in Chess is that piling up information does not turn you into a good, very good or excellent chessplayer. In this respect, the sum of the parts may be greater than the whole itself  and  a lot of work has to be done. This work includes playing as much as possible, but always within your personal limits. Many players and authors have stressed the importance of reading/studying good Chess books. 

Before giving the solutions, one step forward: Can you solve this one by the great S. Loyd ?:

Mate in 3

 (Black is about to queen his g Pawn. Remember the position is seen from the White side so the Black Pawn is on g2)

Solutions:

1.) 1. Qb5!! , Be6 / 2. Qa6 +! Ba2 / 3. Qxf6 mate.

2.) 1. Ra2, Ra1 /  2 Bb1!! Rxa2 / 3. Ng6 mate

3.) 1. Nfg3, Kg1/ 2. Ng5!! and is mate next move against any defence.

QChess.

Written by QChess

May 8, 2014 at 8:31 am

Posted in CHESS

Questions Without Answer and Nimzowitsch

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Some of my CC opponents keep complaining about the changes in the way of playing CC introduced by the intrusion of engines and databases. So here I leave some questions for the reader to consider:

-Do opening Chess books become quickly and easily outdated now ?

-If the player blindly follows those databases and engine recommendations, will s/he be playing what the engine decides and not what s/he decide?.

-The numerical assessments engines give to moves may be misleading. BUT if the player puts his/her confidence on them, will s/he end up following the engine move after move for fear of deviating and playing a move considered unfavourable by the program?

-Can today’s CC be played without the aid of an engine knowing that your opponents are employing them?

-Can the engine analytical brute force be met by an ultrapositional approach and no engine at all?

-In today’s CC games could it be possible to apply, for instance, restraint, blockade,overprotection and openings like 1. e3 , 1. Nf3 /2. e3, etc? (If so, do not use a computer…) and survive?

In any case, I firmly believe that the way CC is played now is a beginning, and not an end. New times new means,new ways of doing things. A matter of adaptation to the new environment and putting into practice our innate instinct of survival. (And remember that this is a wild jungle and only the strongest will survive.)

NIMZOWITSCH

I am reading an amazing ,extraordinary book:  “ARON NIMZOWITSCH 1928-1935″  by Rudolf Reinhardt. The late Mr. Reinhardt devoted a lot of time and effort to investigate that period in Numowitsch’s life (the last one since Nimzowitsch died in 1935) . The book contains a gold mine of information including games annotated by Nimzowitsch and others, his writings in the form of commentaries and articles, etc. I thought I knew Nimzowitsch inside out but it turned out a self-delusion…

The introduction to the tournaments and the games offers objective analysis but also Nimzowitsch states of mind. We see him showing doubts, joy, disillusion, self-distrust, renewed confidence… We see how he uses his beloved “system” against his honourable opponents (names like Capablanca,Alekhine,Bernstein,Becker,Spielmann,Rubinstein, Marshall,Bogoljubow, Vidmar, Stahlberg, Yates,Tartakower, and so on), opponents with different approaches to Chess and against whom he tries his ideas and explains the conclusions.

The book is making me rethink my ideas about strategy and how to use it in these complex CC age. I would like to strongly recommend this book to all of you. But let me say it would be much more pleasant and instructive if you have already studied Nimzowitsch’s “MY SYSTEM” / “THE PRAXIS OF MY SYSTEM” or the excellent Keene’s book “ARON NIMZOWITSCH: A REAPPRAISAL” (aka “Aron Nimzowitsch Master of Planning”  

Problem

White to play wins. Horowitz & Kling. It resembles a real game, this is why I like.

Solution:

1. Rxe6 , Rxe6 / 2. b6 , Kxb6 / 3. Rh6! winning

QChess.

Written by QChess

April 27, 2014 at 6:46 am

Keres, Smyslov, an Obscure Game and Other Matters.

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(For more on Keres, I have published two posts in March 1012)

In 1935, the great Estonian chessplayer Paul Keres  played in several tournaments: Tallinn, Tartu,Varsovia and Helsinki.He also played two matches, vs. Friedemann and Kibbermann. Browsing my archives, I found an obscure game played at Helsinki. Some sources offer the game Stahlberg-Keres as one of them, but omit the following one, played against Thorsten Gauffin:

W.: Keres (1)

B.: Gauffin (0)

Helsinki , 1935

1.e4, c5  2. Nf3, a6  3. b4, cb 4. a3, c5  5. ed, Qxd5 6. ab, Bg4 7. Nc3, Qh5  8. Be2, e6  9. 0-0, Nf6  9. 0-0, Nf6  10. Ra5!, Nd5  11. h3!, Bxf3  12. Bxf3, Nxc3  13. dc, Qg6  14. Qd4,!, Qf6  15. Qc4, Nd7  16. Bg5, Qg6  (16…, Ne5/ 17. Rxe5, Qxe5/ 18. Qc6!!)  17. Bb7, Rb8  18. Bc6, Be7  19. Bd7, Kd7  20. Rd1  Black resigned.

Where do I get this game from?.- Well, this is a long story. During my Chess career I have had the opportunity to  meet very interesting people from different countries. One of them was a man who was living in Spain (he sadly passed away around 1996). He had one of the largest Chess collections in Spain, with thousands of books, magazines, documents, etc. You could ask him whatever you needed: he would readily type the matter in question and send them to you. He loved Chess and he loved helping people too. His name was Mr. Cecilio Hernáez, lived in Vitoria , the Spanish Basque Country,  and I feel obliged to pay this little homage to him. He invited me to help him doing translations from English to be published in Spanish-speaking magazines and I readily accepted (I can speak and translate several languages apart from English, namely French, Portuguese, Spanish,) . No matter what you asked him to find: you can be sure he would find it even if he had to spend days looking for it in his enormous collection. He was an exceptionally strong CC player too and a living encyclopaedia.

Concerning the classics, there are two schools of thought : some people consider it a loss of time, some people use it to really learn how Chess has to be understood.  

Some players advocate the study of our contemporaries: Anand, Carlsen, Aronian, Shirov, Krammik, and so on. After all, theory has advanced a lot and they believe studying the classics is a waste of time: nobody can play like them because theory has changed drastically. Other people believe that by studying the classics you are not trying to study the latest cry in opening theory, but the way they think and so, how Chess should be understood. The third approach blends both points of view. 

Keres and Estonia, his native land, had bad luck (Spassky said publicly this too.) As a border-land, the Estonians were a country by themselves, were annexed by the former Soviet Union, invaded by the Nazi Germany , recovered by the Soviet Union and independent again. Keres was a Chess professional player and played in German tournaments during the Nazi atrocious regime. When WW2 finished, Estonia became a part of the Soviet Union, and he had to pay the toll of having played in Nazi territory… (see the above-mentioned posts). He began to play tournaments in the thirties (20th century), won the 1939 AVRO tournament so acquiring the right to play against Alekhine for the World Championship , something WW2 destroyed, but managed to survive the Stalinist period. In the Candidates’ matches which decided the Challenger to Petrosian´s title in the ’60s he lost to Spassky, who eventually became Champion of the World in 1969. 

A match Alekhine-Keres , like a match between Fischer and Karpov would have been two feast for millions of chessplayers throughout the world. But they never took place.

In the time when CC was played using postcards and stamps, many of my opponents in the former Soviet Union and the DDR (East Germany), sent me lots of books (in Russian, German, Estonian, Czech, Hungarian, etc.) From time to time I like leafing through these books. One of them is a Russian edition featuring photographs only (99% is devoted to Karpov. The author was the famous photographer Dmitry Donskoi).

Here you can see Karpov, Botvinnik, Polugaevsky, the young Kasparov, etc. There I found some snaps featuring one of the “forgotten World Champions” as I call them: Vassily Smyslov. Indeed, Smyslov beat Botvinnik in 1957 but lost the title in the 1958 return match.  He was an extremely educated man, an opera singer too. A. Saidy even wrote that his endgame skills were greater that Botvinnik’s ones. But in the end, Smyslov was a victim of the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Smyslov died in 2010, in a state of sheer poverty (sharing this damned state with his loving wife) and nearly blind… Then I think about those men who devoting their entire lives to Chess died in poverty… But we have their games and their memories. I have read that nobody really dies until the last person who has known them disappears too…This is an unjust,very sad world indeed…

QChess.

Written by QChess

April 11, 2014 at 7:12 am

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