Winning

Draw!: The Art of the Half-Point in Chess

by Leonid Verkhovsky

The Luck of the Draw!? We have all seen games and perhaps even played them in which a difficult or lost game is salvaged by a brilliant drawing combination. In the early 1970s, Soviet International Master Leonid Verkhovsky collected some of the most fantastic draws ever played. You will be captivated by combinations and threats, as inexhaustible imagination in defense and attack counterbalance each other. The chess prowess of one player is basically in equilibrium with the mastery of his opponent. Both are playing for a win, both send their chess armies into close combat, and peace sets in on the chessboard when it practically becomes empty after a long and fierce battle. You will also delight at the spectacular “saving draws,” when, although in a difficult position, a player finds all possible (and impossible!) resources to make a draw. Example are drawn from the praxis of world champions and outstanding grandmasters, as well as from the games of lesser-known players. Of special interest is the research made by the author regarding stalemate, that special exception in the rules. The book is crowned with an interesting chapter in which the author addresses the drawn games of the world”s top players. “I am sure that all those who love and cherish our ancient game will appreciate this wonderful book. Mikhail Tal

https://www.chesscentral.com/draw-the-art-of-the-half-point-in-chess-book/

The above was found during a search for books about the draw in Chess. The book is the #804 best seller in Board Games at Amazon. There are seven reviews, with six awarding the book five stars and one giving it four stars. (https://www.amazon.com/Draw-Half-Point-Chess-Leonid-Verkhovsky/product-reviews/1936490811/ref=cm_cr_dp_d_show_all_btm?ie=UTF8&reviewerType=all_reviews)

You now know as much as do I…

The games presented in the previous post cause me to reflect about the bane of Chess, the draw. Players have different opinions about the draw. An example would be a legendary Georgia player who is invariably happy because he did not lose. I have always thought of a draw as one half of a loss. Having played every sport while growing at a Boys Club there was an often heard expression, “A tie is like kissing your sister.”

In Chess the winner receives one point; the loser zero. Players who draw a game receive one half point. Let us use a four player tournament as an example. Player A and player B battle on board one, while players C & D fight on board two. Player A beats player B, while the game on the second board is drawn. Board one receives a total of one point as one plus zero equals one. The second board also receives one point, as one half plus one half equals one. One point is awarded on each board. How can that be if it is true that “Everyone loves a winner?”

The answer is simple. If a draw is one half of a win, then only ONE HALF POINT should be awarded to the players on the second board. Thus, one quarter point for each player. This would increase of a win, which means one would have to think long and hard about passing out that “buddy-buddy” draw, especially in the later stages of a tournament.

What kind of practical effect would this have on Chess? An example would be a nine round tournament in which two players are tied for first having won all seven games. Player A loses in round eight while Player B draws his game. Player B then passes out a draw, but player A wins his game. Player A would have a score of 8-1, winning the tournament as player B would finish with a score of 7 1/2!

This simple rule change would create much more fighting Chess, making “group hugs” much less likely.

Back in the day there was a player who was called “The Drawing Master.” Robert Pruitt was an expert player from Alabama. We played in several tournaments, but never sat across the board from each other. I can recall one tournament in which he drew all five games. That would be a total of 1 1/4 points under the proposed rule change. Someone said he drew as many as he won, and could possibly have become a NM if he had only won a few of his many draws. As one wag put it, “You play that guy and you know you’ve got a draw in hand!”

Chess needs to put the emphasis on winning.

Playing With The Polar Bear

An article on the Chessdom website published March 9, 2015, GM Danielsen publishes The Polar Bear System, caught my eye. It begins, “The famous Grandmaster from Iceland – Henrik Danielsen – has published his first edition of The Polar Bear System. GM Danielsen shared, “I have spent 15 years developing the Polar Bear system. Indeed I have turned every stone in the system and lost many games in doing so. Since there is no theory of importance I had to work hard. I read everything about the Dutch defense and used the ideas with reversed colors. So the theory in the book is mainly created with my own games and analysis.”

“The Polar Bear System starts with 1.f4 (the Bird opening) and then fianchetto of the kings, bishop as a mirror image of the Leningrad Dutch.” (http://www.chessdom.com/gm-danielsen-publishes-the-polar-bear-system/)

I have played this system without knowing it was called “The Polar Bear System.” I cannot help but wonder if the chess players down under, in Australia, have developed a Koala Bear System…

I clicked on “See the official website of The Polar Bear System” and saw this, a continuation from above, “I had to select the cream. And turn the cream into a repertoire book. Omitting lines in which I do not believe.

“Every game and every move has been checked by the chess programs Stockfish and Fritz 13. It will not be easy for the reader to find a tactical mistake in the text. It is on purpose I have chosen to comment the games with short text. Boiling the material down and letting the games speak for themselves. The repertoire is for serious club players but also professionals can get inspired.” (http://www.polarbearsystem.com/about-pbs.html)

At this point the Polar had me in a Bear hug, so I clicked on where it says, “But the book hear!” I landed in the Amazon, going from the grip of a Polar Bear into that of a Gorilla. For sixteen inflated US digits I could have purchased the “book” with one more click. Unfortunately for me the “book” only comes in digits, and I would need something named a “Kindle” to read those digits. Finding nothing about a real book, I decided to click on “contact” and sent GM Danielsen an email, asking if he had any plans for a book we e-reader challenged people could purchase. This was his reply: “On Tuesday, March 10, 2015 3:35 PM, The Polarbear System gmhenrikdanielsen wrote:

Hello Michael

thank you for your e-mail, I can hopefully publish the book later. I would like that to happen.
All the best of luck to you also.

Regards
GM Henrik Danielsen”

Oh well…Unless and until a book is published I will have to content myself with the video included in the Chessdom article and others I have located, such as this one on youtube: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXq4–F816I&list=PL0Pymw6KEu42sv0wo-pMyrBDzpcYle3Ki), and this one, Blitz Chess #1 with Live Comments – Bird Opening vs GM Hikaru Nakamura (b loss). (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXq4–F816I&list=PL0Pymw6KEu42sv0wo-pMyrBDzpcYle3Ki)

And here is an article found on the USCF website, GM Joel on the Polar Bear, By GM Joel Benjamin, March 18, 2009. (http://www.uschess.org/content/view/9203/341/)

The Cost of Chess Magazines

The Legendary Georgia Ironman loves “Chess Monthly” (http://www.chess.co.uk/). He takes it with him to lessons and pontificates at length about the good qualities of the magazine. He does this while there are copies of the best chess magazine in the world, “New in Chess” (http://www.newinchess.com/), sitting unopened, still in cellophane, in the apartment. The Barnes & Noble in Buckhead carries “Chess Monthly” and “Chess Life” but not “New in Chess.” An advertisement in the 2014/3 issue of NiC shows ten places it is sold and one of them is The Book Tavern in Augusta, Georgia, yet I have been unable to find it in any bookstore or newsstand in the largest city and the capital of the state, Atlanta.
I have purchased “Chess Monthly” at the B&N when found. This means it comes irregularly, so the Ironman is missing some issues. We usually split the cost. One time Tim received a B&N gift card and he gave it to me to use and it covered the cost of two issues. We hit the jackpot when Greg Yanez of chess4less.com (http://www.chess4less.com/) was here for the National children’s something or other at the downtown Hyatt. Greg had back issues on sale for only five dollars, and they went fast. The last July issue sold before the Ironman was able to nab one. Meanwhile the issues of NiC, which cost more, did not sell well. Everyone wants a deal. Still, I would rather have a NiC at ten dollars than a CM for five.
I was in the B&N the other day and, as luck would have it, so was the July issue of “Chess Monthly.” I had a buck or two left on the aforementioned B&N gift card, so I nabbed a copy and took it to the checkout counter. My billfold was out when I heard the clerk say, “That will be eighteen something.”
“Pardon me?” I said. Having tinnitus means I do not hear as well as I used too, what with the constant ringing in the brain.
“That will be eighteen something,” he repeated. The last one I purchased was “eleven something.”
“Are you sure?” I asked. He showed me the price attached to a price tag that covered the one on the magazine, and, sure ’nuff, it showed a price of $16.99 US. Include tax and, wah-lah, “eighteen something.”
As I was putting my billfold back into my pocket I said, “Wow…Last time I purchased a copy it was only eleven plus; that is a dramatic increase.” He gave me a blank stare. The clerk at the next register, who had been watching this unfold, gave me a look and sort of shrugged his shoulders as if to silently say, “What’cha gonna do?”
I started to grab the magazine, telling the young man I would put it back, but he jerked it out of my hand saying, “We will do that!” I was stunned, thinking, “I did not even get a chance to peruse the mag…”
I went to the coffee shop where one of the Starbucks employees is a fellow who used to come to the House of Pain and trade genuine Starbucks coffee for a membership, etc. And now everyone knows the secret of why the House had the best coffee of any chess club. I told him my tale of woe while awaiting my cuppa joe. Back in the adjoining bookstore an empty table was located, where I broke out my chess board and latest copy of the best chess magazine in the universe, “New in Chess.” I am behind with the NiC, having only recently received issues 2014/2 & 3. The subscription ended and times are tough, with the current situation being in a state of, shall we say, flux. I purchased the issues from Amazon. The Gorilla recently raised the amount for free shipping from $25 to $35, and since the price of a NiC is a little over $10, I have included it to meet the new requirement. Unfortunately, the Gorilla cannot produce an issue in a timely fashion. For example, check out the dates of the two NiC’s I have on order:
Not yet shipped
Track Package
Delivery estimate: Friday, October 10, 2014 – Wednesday, October 15, 2014 by 8:00pm
New In Chess Magazine 2014/4
Guezendam, Dirk Jan ten
Sold by: Amazon.com LLC
Delivery estimate: Thursday, October 9, 2014 – Tuesday, October 14, 2014 by 8:00pm
New In Chess magazine 2014/5
ten Geuzendam, Dirk Jan
Sold by: Amazon.com LLC
That’s right, the Gorilla has the issue out now set to ship before the previous issue! I believe 2014/4 was published in June. I have been sending emails to the Gorilla about this, but maybe I expect too much from a Gorilla…It is obvious there must be a better way.
Back at the B&N with my cuppa joe, I opened NiC 2014/3 and thought about what GM Jonathan Rowson wrote about taking his new issue of NiC to the coffee shop as soon as it arrived…Then I began to read. I discovered a letter by one Evan Katz, of “New York, NY, USA.” Seems Mr. Katz is disappointed in the price of the best chess magazine, ever, in the recorded history of the human race. NiC is truly “cheap at twice the price,” but not to Evan.
At this point I began to ponder the reason for the dramatic increase in the price of “Chess Monthly,” so I decided to ask the manager. When I mentioned the amount of the price increase she was obviously shocked. “That is a huge increase,” she said. The nice woman went on to tell me B&N had nothing to do with the price of magazines because a distributor handled it, going on to inform me that beginning in July B&N had a new distributor. I told her that explained things, and thanked her for the information, and her time.
In putting this together I did discover that chess4less.com not only provides a yearly subscription for $70, but has individual issues for sale for $7.95. The Ironman and I have not seen the May, June, July, and August issues. Even with shipping charges one can purchase two for the price of one from chess4less in comparison to B&N. Goodbye Barnes & Noble, hello chess4less!

Elton John perfoms Benny and The Jets on Soul Train