Hou Yifan Says Women Cannot Compete With Men

After reading the previous post Brian McCarthy left a comment which concerned the article you are about to read, but it was not the original article. This morning there was an email from Dennis Fritzinger which included a link to the article. Thanks, Dennis!

‘Queen of chess’ says it’s hard to imagine women competing at same level as men

By Leon Watson
12 October 2019

The gender gap in sport may be narrowing, but in the game of chess women may never reach the levels of their male counterparts – according to the world’s best female player.
University of Oxford student Hou Yifan said the cerebral game won’t get a female world champion for decades because women “are less focused” than men, don’t train as hard and are at a physical disadvantage.

The 25-year-old, who is often referred to as the Queen of Chess’, has opened a row in the normally genial world of chess.
Her comments follow a controversial claim by English Grandmaster Nigel Short that men and women should just accept they are “hard-wired very differently”.
Short, who was widely criticised for his stance, said he “would have been ripped to shreds as a misogynist dinosaur” if he’d said the same as Hou.

Speaking to chess.com, Hou said: “Theoretically, there should be a possibility that a woman can compete for the title in the future, but practically I think that the chances of this happening in the next few decades are very small.
“I do think the average rating of female players could improve, but the gap between the top women right now and the players competing for the world title is really quite large.
“But if you look at any sport, it’s hard to imagine girls competing at the same level as men.
“I think there is a physical aspect because chess exhausts a lot of energy, especially when games last 6-7 hours, and here women could be more disadvantaged.
“But in general, I think women train less hard at chess compared to men while they’re growing up.
“In China, girls tend to think more about university, and then things like family, life balance… while boys are more focused and persistent on that one thing.
“This makes a big difference. The ones who put greater effort in achieving better results. But I also think there are external factors too.”
In chess, there is the World Championship which is open to all and is currently held by the Norwegian Magnus Carlsen. Since its inception in 1886, all 16 undisputed champions have been men.
There is also a parallel Women’s World Championship and women-only tournaments designed to encourage female participation in the sport.
However, while Hou is a four-time winner of the women’s crown, in recent years she has chosen not to compete in women’s events in order to compete against higher-ranked players.
Hou, who became a Grandmaster aged 14, is the number one ranked female player but number 87 among men and women. She is one of just three women, along with Judit Polgar and Maia Chiburdanidze, to have cracked the world’s top 100.

However, there is a big gap between Hou’s rating and the top men. By comparison, Hou’s current rating is 2659, while world number one Carlson is more than 200 points higher on 2876.
The next strongest female player is another Chinese player, Wenjun Ju, way back at world number 288 with a rating of 2586.
Hou said: “Growing up, female players are told, ‘If you win the girls’ title, we’ll be really proud of you, and this is a great job!’ It’s unlikely that any of them were told, ‘No, you should be fighting for the overall title!’
“Girls are told at an early age that there’s a kind of gender distinction, and they should just try their best in the girls’ section and be happy with that. So without the motivation to chase higher goals, it’s harder for girls to improve as fast as boys as they grow up.”
Asked if she believes there are any gender differences in the way men and women play the game, Hou added: “To me, in all aspects of life, sometimes women and men tend to see the same thing from completely different perspectives, and that also comes into chess.
“To put it simplistically, I think male players tend to have a kind of overview or strategy for the whole game, rather than focusing too much attention on one part of the game. It could be interesting to explore this further. I need to do more research to answer this properly!”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/10/12/queen-chess-says-hard-imagine-women-competing-level-men/amp/

Paradise By The Chessboard Light

Jennifer R Yu (2341)

vs Atulya Vaidya (2118)

U.S. Junior Championship 2019 round 05

1. Nf3 f5 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. g3 Bg7 5. Bg2 d6 6. O-O O-O 7. d3

(Before we go any further let us stop right here for a blast from the past. This exact position appeared on the board at a tournament in Atlanta many decades ago. My opponent was John W. Smith, or as he was called, “Smitty,” a player known for his love of the English opening. Both Stockfish and Komodo at the ChessBaseDataBase show 7 d4 as best. When I mentioned this to SM Brian McCarthy

recently he let me know in no uncertain terms, “d3 is a perfectly acceptable way of playing against the Leningrad.” Still, I recall feeling by not moving the d-pawn two squares a concession had been made. After losing, Smitty withdrew even though there were more rounds to play (uncertain how many, but I think there were at least two more games, maybe three…) and was not seen for some time. When next we did meet Smitty was not friendly…Many years passed, possibly a decade or more, until our paths crossed again. Cousin Linda and I had gotten together and stopped to eat at the Bar-B-Que Kitchen on Virginia Avenue, near the airport. As we sat down I saw Smitty at the register paying the tab. As he walked out of the door I leapt up, excused myself, and went outside to greet him. He had just gotten his wife and daughter into the car when I approached with my hand extended. Smitty had a stern look on his face as if he were deciding whether or not to take my hand. He decided to shake my hand, so I asked him why him had turned on me. “Mike,” he began, “If I had won or drawn the last game we played my rating would have gone over 2200 and I would have become a NM. Earning the certificate meant everything to me because I could show it to my children in the future. I had it all worked out, and would have withdrawn after scoring against you. It was the toughest loss I ever had, and it took it out of me. After losing that game I lost the desire to attempt climbing the hill again.” At a loss for words, I managing to get out, “It was good to see you, Smitty.” He replied, “I cannot say the same, Bacon.” He turned and got into the car without saying another word or even looking at me…As an aside, when I mentioned this to Tim Brookshear

he related Smitty had beaten him causing his rating to fall beneath 2200, and it never again crossed back into NM range. “I didn’t hold it against Smitty, Mike,” the ironman said.

7…c6 8. Rb1 a5 9. a3 Re8 10. e4 e5 11. b4 Na6 12. Qb3 h6 13. Nh4 Kh7 14. exf5 g5 15. Nf3 Bxf5 16. Ne1 Rb8 17. Ne4 axb4 18. axb4 Nc7 19. Be3 Qd7 20. Nc2 d5 21. Nxf6+ Bxf6 22. cxd5 cxd5 23. Ba7 Rbc8 24. b5 Be6 25. d4 e4 26. f3 exf3 27. Rxf3 Bg7 28. Qd3+ Kh8 29. Bc5 Bg4 30. Rf2 Ne6 31. Ba3 Bh5 32. Bb2 Nf8 33. Ne3 Bg6 34. Nf5 Ne6 35. Qb3 Bxf5 36. Rxf5 Nf4 37. Rxf4 gxf4 38. gxf4 Qf5 39. Rf1 Rc4 40. Kh1 Re2 41. Bf3 Qh3 0-1

Yu versus Vaidya with analysis:

1. Nf3 f5 2. c4 g6 (Stockfish plays 2…Nf6; Komodo plays 2…d6, or c5, depending…) 3. Nc3 (SF chooses 3 g3) Nf6 4. g3 Bg7 (Komodo & Houdini prefer 4…d6) 5. Bg2 (SF & Houdini play 5 d4) 5…d6 (Komodo @Depth 25 plays this expecting 6 d4 0-0 to follow; SF @D 40 plays 5…0-0, showing 6 d4 d6, arriving at the same position) 6. O-O (All engines show 6 d4) 6…O-O (SF plays 6…e5) 7. d3 (SF plays 7 d4) 7…c6 (SF plays 7…e5) 8. Rb1 (SF would play 8 b4 which is a TN) a5 9. a3 (SF & Komodo play 9 d4) 9…Re8 (The move is a dubious TN. SF & Komodo play 9…e5) 10. e4 (10 b4 would give meaning to white’s eight move) 10…e5 11. b4 (There are many possible moves in this position with many being superior to the move in the game) 11…Na6 (11…axb4) 12. Qb3 (12 Re1; b5; h3; exf5 & Be3 are among the myriad alternatives) 12…h6 13. Nh4 Kh7 14. exf5 g5 15. Nf3 Bxf5 16. Ne1 Rb8 17. Ne4 axb4 18. axb4 Nc7 19. Be3 Qd7 20. Nc2 d5 21. Nxf6+ Bxf6 22. cxd5 cxd5 23. Ba7 Rbc8 24. b5 Be6 25. d4 e4 26. f3 exf3 27. Rxf3 Bg7 28. Qd3+

(Patzer sees a check, patzer gives a check…28 Ne3 retains the advantage) 28…Kh8 29. Bc5 Bg4 (29…Bg8) 30. Rf2 Ne6 31. Ba3 Bh5 32. Bb2 Nf8 (32 Rf8) 33. Ne3 (33 Rfb1) 33…Bg6 34. Nf5 Ne6

35. Qb3? (35 Rfb1 seems plausible. Until this point the game had been an interesting, hard fought battle, but here the young lady let go of the rope…) 35…Bxf5 36. Rxf5 Nf4 37. Rxf4 gxf4 38. gxf4 Qf5 39. Rf1 Rc4 40. Kh1 Re2 41. Bf3 Qh3 0-1

After writing, “Before we go any further” above I sat back and reflected as an old song containing the line had been jogged from my memory.

Paradise by the Dashboard Light
Meat Loaf
Featuring Ellen Foley
Produced by Todd Rundgren
Album: Bat Out of Hell

1. PARADISE
BOY: Meat Loaf
I remember every little thing as if it happened only yesterday
Parking by the lake and there was not another car in sight
And I never had a girl looking any better than you did
And all the kids at school, they were wishing they were me that night
And now our bodies are oh so close and tight
It never felt so good, it never felt so right
And we’re glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife
Glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife
C’mon! Hold on tight!
Well c’mon! Hold on tight!

BOY and GIRL:
Though it’s cold and lonely in the deep dark night
I can see paradise by the dashboard light

GIRL: Ellen Foley
Ain’t no doubt about it, we were doubly blessed
Cause we were barely seventeen and we were barely dressed
Ain’t no doubt about it, baby got to go and shout it
Ain’t no doubt about it, we were doubly blessed
Cause we were barely seventeen and we were barely dressed

BOY:
Baby doncha hear my heart? You got it drowning out the radio
I’ve been waiting so long for you to come along and have some fun
And I gotta let you know, No you never gonna regret it
So open up your eyes, I got a big surprise, it’ll feel all right
Well I wanna make your motor run
And now our bodies are oh so close and tight
It never felt so good, it never felt so right
And we’re glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife
Glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife
C’mon! Hold on tight!
Well c’mon! Hold on tight!

Though it’s cold and lonely in the deep dark night
I can see paradise by the dashboard light
Though it’s cold and lonely in the deep dark night
Paradise by the dashboard light
You got to do what you can
And let Mother Nature do the rest
Ain’t no doubt about it
We were doubly blessed
Cause we were barely seventeen
And we were barely-

BOY and GIRL:
We’re gonna go all the way tonight
We’re gonna go all the way and tonight’s the night
We’re gonna go all the way tonight
We’re gonna go all the way and tonight’s the night
We’re gonna go all the way tonight
We’re gonna go all the way and tonight’s the night
We’re gonna go all the way tonight
We’re gonna go all the way and tonight’s the night

[Funky Breakdown]

RADIO BROADCAST: Phil Rizzuto
OK, here we go, we got a real pressure cooker going here
Two down, nobody on, no score, bottom of the ninth
There’s the windup, and there it is, a line shot up the middle
Look at him go. This boy can really fly! He’s rounding first and really
Turning it on now, he’s not letting up at all, he’s gonna try for
Second; the ball is bobbled out in center, and here comes the
Throw, and what a throw! He’s gonna slide in head first, here he
Comes, he’s out! No, wait, safe – safe at second base, this kid
Really makes things happen out there. Batter steps up to the
Plate, here’s the pitch-he’s going, and what a jump he’s got
He’s trying for third, here’s the throw, it’s in the dirt-safe at
Third! Holy cow, stolen base! He’s taking a pretty big lead out
There, almost daring him to try and pick him off. The pitcher
Glances over, winds up, and it’s bunted, bunted down the third
Base line, the suicide squeeze is on! Here he comes, squeeze
Play, it’s gonna be close, here’s the throw, here’s the play at the plate
Holy cow, I think he’s gonna make it!

II. LET ME SLEEP ON IT
GIRL:
Stop right there!
I gotta know right now!
Before we go any further!
Do you love me?
Will you love me forever?
Do you need me?
Will you never leave me?
Will you make me so happy for the rest of my life?
Will you take me away and will you make me your wife?
Do you love me!?
Will you love me forever!?
Do you need me!?
Will you never leave me!?
Will you make me so happy for the rest of my life!?
Will you take me away and will you make me your wife!?
I gotta know right now
Before we go any further
Do you love me!?
Will you love me forever!?

BOY:
Let me sleep on it
Baby, baby let me sleep on it
Let me sleep on it
I’ll give you an answer in the morning
Let me sleep on it
Baby, baby let me sleep on it
Let me sleep on it
I’ll give you an answer in the morning
Let me sleep on it
Baby, baby let me sleep on it
Let me sleep on it
I’ll give you an answer in the morning

GIRL:
I gotta know right now
Do you love me?
Will you love me forever?
Do you need me?
Will you never leave me?
Will you make me so happy for the rest of my life?
Will you take me away and will you make me your wife?
I gotta know right now!
Before we go any further
Do you love me?
Will you love me forever?

What’s it gonna be boy?
Come on, I can wait all night
What’s it gonna be boy? Yes or no?
What’s it gonna be boy? Yes or no?

BOY:
Let me sleep on it
Baby, baby let me sleep on it
Let me sleep on it
I’ll give you an answer in the morning
I gotta know right now!
Do you love me?
Will you love me forever?
Do you need me?
Will you never leave me?
Will you make me so happy for the rest of my life?
Will you take me away and will you make me your wife?
I gotta know right now
Before we go any further
Do you love me!?
Will you love me forever!?

Let me sleep on it

GIRL:
Will you love me forever?

BOY:
Let me sleep on it

GIRL:
Will you love me forever!!!!

III. PRAYING FOR THE END OF TIME
I couldn’t take it any longer
Lord I was crazed
And when the feeling came upon me
Like a tidal wave
Started swearing to my god and on my mother’s grave
That I would love you to the end of time
I swore that I would love you to the end of time!
So now I’m praying for the end of time
To hurry up and arrive
Cause if I gotta spend another minute with you
I don’t think that I can really survive
I’ll never break my promise or forget my vow
But God only knows what I can do right now
I’m praying for the end of time
It’s all that I can do
Praying for the end of time
So I can end my time with you!!

BOY:
It was long ago and it was far away
And It was so much better that it is today
It was long ago and it was far away
And It was so much better that it is today
It was long ago and it was far away
And It was so much better that it is today
It was long ago and it was far away
And It was so much better that it is today
It was long ago and it was far away
And It was so much better that it is today
It was long ago and it was far away
And It was so much better that it is today
It was long ago and it was far away
And It was so much better that it is today

GIRL:
It never felt so good
It never felt so right
And we were glowing like
A metal on the edge of a knife

https://genius.com/Meat-loaf-paradise-by-the-dashboard-light-lyrics

If that was not enough for you here is a second helping of Meat Loaf Left Overs:

The Championship Chess Method

After publishing the post, Chess Grit (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2019/06/22/chess-grit/), I asked SM Brian McCarthy for feedback. A few days later Brian visited before returning to south Georgia where he is a High School teacher. I was shocked upon hearing, “You were too hard on Steve. I have worked for Championship Chess. There is nothing wrong with his method because he is an educator.” I was at a loss for words. It took a few seconds for me to get over the shock before responding, “Brian, I have a problem with anyone who teaches the Queen’s Raid.” Brian replied, “There is nothing wrong with teaching the Queen’s Raid; every player needs to know how to defend against it.”
“Brian, there is a world of difference between teaching a beginner how to defend against the Queen’s raid and teaching a beginner how to play it in order to win a game quickly.” After his retort I cut the conversation short because Brian has been having major health issues. Still, his reaction stung, and left an impression.

Brian’s picture can be found at the Championship Chess website:

I, too, have previously worked for Championship Chess(https://www.championshipchess.net/), because money was needed. Before heading to the first school as a member of the Championship “team” I was given a quick course in the Championship “method” of teaching Chess to children by Steve Schneider, one of the owners of CC, who indoctrinated me in the Championship Chess way, which included how to teach the Queen’s Raid, aka the Patzer, and pawn games, before being driven by the co-owner, Dennis Jones, to a school, where Dennis was to observe how I followed the CC “method.” On the way I asked Dennis if the other “coaches” followed the CC method. “Some do,” he replied, “But the stronger players do what they want. Are you a stronger player?” he asked. Dennis had given me all the information needed. While Dennis watched I gave lip service to “pawn games” and the “Queen’s raid,” but only to teach the children how to avoid the pitfall of being checkmated with the early raid of the Queen. It was the last time I used even part of the Championship Chess “method.”

Steve Schneider

was a school teacher “back in the day.” At the CC website one finds: “Coach Steve Schneider began working with children and chess when he taught his 6-year-old son to play.” https://www.championshipchess.net/about-steve-schneider/#

I previously mentioned on this blog the time the Ol’ Swindler said about me, “Ummm… You’re a nineteen hundred.” Although I crossed the expert threshold he, and others I suppose, will always think of me as a “1900.” I’m OK with that, because “back in the day” the highest rated player who actually played regularly in Atlanta was Tom Pate, rated in the upper 1900’s. I think of Steve as a “Fourteen hundred.” USCF shows a current rating of 1379. The co-owner, Dennis Jones, is listed at the USCF MSA page as a “one thousand” player, albeit in limited action as he is still a “provisionally rated” player.

At one time Championship Chess could boast of having many higher rated “coaches” but that was in the past. For various reasons, including low wages and being forced to teach the Championship Chess “method,” the higher rated teachers left CC and were replaced by teachers rated, if they were rated, even lower than the owners. The Championship Chess brain trust wanted employees who would “toe the line” and “teach the Championship Chess way.”

The Legendary Georgia Ironman, Tim Brookshear relates a story concerning a game Steve played with one of his “coaches,” a fellow named Lynwood, at the Ironman Chess Club.


Lynwood playing at the Ironman Chess Club recently

As the story goes Lynwood was called over by “Coach Steve” for “training.” It seems Lynwood had been “called into the principal’s office” earlier because he had not been following the CC “method.” Lynwood was assisting “Coach Tim” and the Ironman was not one to teach any way other than his way, which happens to be the way most “approved” Chess teachers go about teaching Chess, which most definitely does not include teaching children to play the “Queen’s Raid” in order to gain a quick victory. “Lynwood was great,” said the Ironman, “He would do whatever asked of him, and was great with the children because of his demeanor.” Poor Lynwood was caught between a rock and a hard place. Should he do what the General back at HQ said and stick his head up out of the foxhole to gather much needed information, or do what the Sargent in the foxhole said and keep his head down?

Lynwood vs Coach Steve

1 e4 e5 2 Qh5

(It all begins with the Queen’s Raid at Championship Chess! If there is any Chess player who should be able to defend against the Queen’s Raid that man was sitting across from Lynwood as General of the black pieces) 2…Nc6 3 Bc4 g6 4 Qf3 Nf6 5 Ne2 d6

(Stockfish plays this move but the Championship Chess “main line” in the Patzer is 5…Bg7. Therefore it would appear Coach Steve was the first to vary from the Championship Chess approved method of playing The Patzer) 6 0-0

(This move is not in the CBDB) Bg4 7 Qb3 Be2 8 Bf7+ Ke7 9 Qe6 mate

In lieu of a resignation coach Steve erupted, “NO, NO, NO Lynwood, you’re not using the patterns!” After Tim pointed out to Steve that Lynwood had not been the one to break the “pattern” coach Steve blurted, “Once he broke the pattern I stopped paying attention!”

Don’t you just hate it when that happens?!

Steve, with much help from others, has written several Chess books for beginners, most, if not all, of which are laughable. I say this because while recalling being regaled with stories of laughable previous editions before being corrected. Tim mentioned going to a school and having his young students “correct” some of the many errors in the books. The mistakes were a riot, causing much laughter by the students.

During a conversation with Steve he expressed displeasure with the way I was teaching the Royal game, which was definitely NOT using the Championship Chess method. I had been teaching how to checkmate using only a few pieces when Steve had rather my time be spent teaching pawn games. “But Steve, I began, “Bobby Fischer wrote a book for beginners which was all about how to checkmate.” (Which is what Chess was all about before it became how to draw quickly)
“What did Bobby Fischer know about teaching Chess to children?” he asked. I was incredulous, and frankly, cannot recall exactly what was said after hearing his ridiculous question. I do, though, recall posing the question, “You mean you know more about teaching Chess than the greatest Chess player of all-time?” To which Steve responded, “Yes. I know more about teaching than he did.” Granted, Steve graduated from a college where he was taught how to teach, whereas Bobby was basically self-taught, but still…
I will never forget the first time attending a scholastic tournament. The memory of where it was being held has vanished. I do recall Steve and Lew Martin escorting some of the youngest children into the playing room. Anyone who has ever attended a Chess tournament, especially if one has worked at a Chess tournament, knows the feeling when the round begins and all is quiet for at least a brief period of time. That was not the case at this tournament because about a minute later the first children began returning from the playing hall, some elated, some crying. The Queen’s Raid had done its work as some beginners had yet to be taught how to defend against the The Patzer. Parents of the winners were pleased as punch while the losing parents were mortified to see their child in tears. When the first little children began returning I asked with incredulity, “You mean the games have already finished?” A smiling and proudly pleased Lew Martin said, “That’s how it is in scholastic Chess.”
“This is not Chess,” was my response. It was more than a little obvious that teaching Chess to children to some could be distilled to, “Show me the money!”

This is part one of a two part series, which will follow with the next post.

Team Tal: A Review

Tal. Simply say “Tal” around any Chess player, or in any gathering of Chess players, and the response is magical. To those of us in the Chess community “Tal” is the definition of sui generis. “Tal played a kind of chess that nobody could understand at the time. Now that theory has taken a big step forward, and we have chess engines, we’re starting to realize that he was playing 21st-century chess.” – Grandmaster Alexei Shirov.

Valentin Kirillov,

Tal’s childhood friend, and his second from 1968 through 1976, has done the Chess world a HUGE service by lovingly writing about the Magician from Riga. Alexi Shirov writes in the introduction, “It’s a pity that my idea to ask Kirillov to write a book with his memories came a little too late-when he was already in poor health. Yet he has still created a new portrait of Tal (and his Latvian contemporaries)-a portrait as WE knew him.”

The author writes, “After we got our hands on our first records, which were extraordinarily hard to find in those days, music became a permanent fixture at the Tal residence. I distinctly remember my first exposure to rock and roll. Bill Haley’s raging Rock Around the Clock, which we played until the vinyl wore out, absolutely knocked my socks off.”

The author turned to writing about Chess.

“In those days, articles and reports on chess in the press tended to be academic and rather dry, which didn’t appeal to the millions of club players out there. I wanted to make my pieces a bit more accessible and lively, and crack a few jokes along the way-my editors were always there to keep me in check, though. If one argues that chess isn’t merely a science, but an art and a sport as well, then what’s stopping journalists from drawing upon the models, analogies, and comparisons made in literature, music, sports, and the circus? Using the knowledge and skill set I possessed, I tried to give my tales a certain flair.”

With this book the author has accomplished his mission. He succeeds by writing about the game Tal vs Bronstein

from the 1970 USSR Championship in hockey terms! Simply amazing…The more I read the more I came to admire the author. For example, here is what he writes about a man who was a colonel in the KGB, director of the Central Chess Club in Moscow, and vice president of the USSR Chess Federation.

“Viktor Baturinsky,

the big chess boss in the USSR, urged me to cut my long hippie hair-and asked Misha to make sure I did-before the awards ceremony of the USSR championship, because I was set to go on stage as the USSR champion’s coach. Naturally, I didn’t heed his advice, and the chess boss had to put my gold medal on over the disheveled locks flowing down to my shoulders.”

I am reminded of the time I lost a speed game horribly to Baturinsky at the FIDE congress in Atlanta in 1980. “You Americans cannot play Chess,” he said. I turned and walked away. “Set them up!” he shouted. I turned to look at him. He was LIVID! Granted, it was customary for the loser to replace the pieces, but the man had insulted me, and all American Chess players. I returned to the board and politely suggested he have sex with himself, at which point he lost it completely, and EXPLODED, as I turned and again walked away…

Team Tal: An Inside Story,

is replete with wonderful stories about Misha Tal, and his family, friends, and supporters; his team. Once begun, it could not put down. The book contains only two games so if you are looking for a book about the Chess played by Tal this is not it. If you want to read about the man who played that fantastical Chess, this book is for you! The book is filled with pictures of Tal and those who were involved in his life. In addition, there are many illustrations which are quite fascinating.

On his blog recently GM Kevin Spraggett

mentioned one of his favourite chess blogs, ‘Lost on Time’ (http://www.spraggettonchess.com/wednesday-coffee-20/) so I clicked on the link provided and discovered the editor, Justin Horton, had posted this concerning the Tal book:

Tal order

There was a series on the old blog, Bad Book Covers. I came across this yesterday, and had it been out back then, it would have been on it. (http://lostontime.blogspot.pt/2018/01/tal-order.html)

DO NOT JUDGE A BOOK BY IT’S COVER!

I recall Senior Master Brian McCarthy showing an old Informant that had seen so much action it no longer had a cover.
When someone questioned Brian about it he responded, “That don’t matter…It’s still got the MEAT!”

As Bob Dylan sang, “Don’t let other people get your kicks for you.” Judge the cover for yourself. I happen to like the cover and think it fits the “meat.”

The book also contains stories about fellow Latvian players such as Janis Klovans,

and Alvis Vitolins, and the man Tal dubbed, the Maestro, Alexander Koblencs. “Contemporary chess history knows numerous examples of successful creative partnerships, like Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. Spassky -Bondarevsky, Karpov-Furman, and Kasparov-Nikitin are perhaps the most famous ones. As for Tal and Koblencs, we have two Don Quixotes on our hands.”

“He (Tal) had his favorites, for whom he had the greatest warmth and the utmost respect. He adored Vladimir Simagin, a true knight on the chess battlefield. “That man was on a constant quest; he was the Don Quixote of chess,” Tal said.

“When he came onto the scene, classical chess, as dry as the desert, was king. Everyone was all prim and proper. It felt like the Party and the government had instructed people to play balanced, strategic chess, from the opening to the endgame. Then suddenly, a real troublemaker-but he wasn’t just a troublemaker, for he added a ton to the game!-shows up and starts muddying the waters and making waves. He was like a gushing spring!” Boris Spassky said.

High praise, indeed.

Mikhail Tal could be recalcitrant.

“The Soviet authorities would say that anybody who didn’t agree with the prevailing ideology was a “nonconformist.” It goes without saying that Tal’s playing style was nonconformist.”

Sic transit Gloria mundi!’ (thus passes the glory of the world) Misha once joked after he was removed from his position as chief editor at Shas for organizing a real blowout of an office party on International Women’s Day, flouting the government’s anti-alcohol laws yet again.”

Another time, somebody asked him, “are you a morphinist?” He answered, “you’ve got it all wrong, I’m a Chigorinist…but Morphy was great, too.”

I, too, am a Chigorinist, having fallen in awe the first time I played over his 1893 match with Sigbert Tarrash, which is my all time favorite Chess match.

“We went to the movies a few times, too. I remember the new James Bond, Goldfinger,

and an erotic movie (they were taboo in the USSR!) about a passionate love affair between a woman guard and a prisoner at a concentration camp. We showed up a tad late, and when the lights came on at the end, we discovered that nearly our whole delegation was sitting there in the half-empty theater.”

A case could be made that after Bobby Fischer

defeated World Chess Champion Boris Spassky

in 1972 the best player still playing when Bobby stopped playing was Mikhail Tal.

“Although no records in professional chess could prove it, experts, journalists, and regular fans would probably characterize Tal’s achievements from 1972 through 1974 as record-breaking. I’ll let you be the judge- Tal did not suffer a single defeat from July 1972 through April 1973; six months later, he kicked off an even more remarkable streak of 96 games without a single loss (October 1973-October 1974), winning or sharing first place at six international tournaments. He won 72 games, yet drew 110 during both streaks combined…”

Possibly the most poignant part of the book concerns what happened to Mikhail’s possessions. Much is written about attempts to have a museum dedicated to Mikhail Tal in his old apartment.

“As per the Tal family’s instructions, our cargo was handed over directly to Ratko Knezevic at the Hussar of Riga Club-which had just opened its doors on the sixth floor of the Minsk Hotel to celebrate what would have been Mikhail Tal’s 60th birthday. Botvinnik and Karpov’s stories about Misha, Smyslov’s singing (he gave me a CD with his renditions of Russian romances on it), and Ivanchuk, who won the blitz tournament, reciting his own poems into the night were the highlights of the opening ceremony for me. By the way, the blitz competition winners received bags of candy instead of prize money at the tourney! I don’t know how his memorabilia then wound up in Elista.”

What are Tal’s treasured possessions doing in Elista?

“When Kirsan Ilyumzhinov

came to Riga to discuss plans to construct a knight-shaped, high -rise hotel, he even promised to share Tal’s memorabilia, which is now stuck in Elista.”

“There will be a chess club, tournament hall, and museum in the hotel,” the FIDE president said. He painted a beautiful picture, but a few years have passed, and there aren’t any knights towering over the Daugava River.”

Kirsan, if you have not taken Tal’s possessions to Zeta Reticuli please return them to Riga and the Latvians, where they belong!!!

Chess in Schools and Communities Initiative

LM Brian McCarthy left a comment on the previous post and provided a very interesting link. Brian writes, “Susan Sallon explores the impact of chess on primary school children’s cognitive development. She debunks every last study before hers as being flawed by low numbers as you say or bad methodology or both. Her’s is hard to find fault with, unless you want every grade tested in the same fashion.”

I would urge anyone with interest in this subject to read what Susan has to say. For example, I quoted GM Yasser Seirwan in the previous post concerning the “Margulies” study. This is what Susan has to say about that particular study:

“In the South Bronx NYC, Stuart Margulies (1990 – 1992) conducted a study to look at changes in reading scores after chess instruction. Mid-elementary school children joined chess clubs at school. In the 1st year, they received instruction by chess masters. In the 2nd year, they also participated in computer-supported chess activities. Chess club membership was voluntary. Before the study began, students were assessed, using a standardised reading test. In this instance, the “control” group was the National Norm for the same grade students in the same school district. Students in the chess group made greater improvements than the national norm. However, since the chess group had higher pre-test scores than the control, Margulies aimed to address the selection bias, by comparing the chess group scores with those of a non-chess control group, consisting of children with pre-test scores comparable to the chess group. But again, the chess group showed more gains than the control group. However, Margulies himself, is quick to point out that “chess participants form a pool of intellectually gifted and talented students. Students who join this group make contact with a core of high achievers and thereby develop more academic interest, speak at higher levels of standard speech……”

Brian also provides a link to a page which contains an interesting study recently conducted in Great Britain by “the “Chess in Schools and Communities” Initiative (CSC) set up by International Chess Master, Malcolm Pein.” A link can be found in Brian’s comment, and I will provide a link to the PDF of “Susan Sallon explores the impact of chess on primary school children’s cognitive development.” (http://www.chessinschools.co.uk/download/research/Susan_Sallon_Dissertation.pdf)

This study appears to be very good news for the effect chess can have on students. It is possible that this is the best news of any study yet conducted on chess and education, at least from a chess perspective. Kudos to LM Brian McCarthy for sharing this information!

Former GCA Board member Tim Payne, who resigned from the board, along with the man I hope becomes the next President of the Georgia Chess Association, Frank Johnson, sends information about the “largest study in world about impact of chess on education is underway in Israel.” – http://www.israel21c.org/social-action-2/can-chess-make-you-smarter/

In an article, Can chess make you smarter? by Viva Sarah Press, dated January 23, 2013, we learn, “Boris Gelfand made all the right moves to become Israel’s highest-ranking chess player. Now, he’s partnering up with an Israeli university to launch the country’s first scientific research project focused on chess. The Grandmaster Chess Research Project is a one-of-a-kind initiative to develop a novel academic approach to the skills and culture of chess-playing that can, in turn, contribute to social and scientific development.”

We also learn, “Gelfand’s ranking as vice world champion is what triggered the Grandmaster Chess Research Project.” That is the first time in my four and a half decades I have heard anyone called a “vice world chess champion” although I will admit to having heard some called the “world champion of vice.”

“The program will provide an opportunity to achieve breakthrough research and social outreach in a field that has not yet been fully explored,” said University of Haifa Vice President and Dean of Research Prof. Michal Yerushalmy. The researchers will examine the impact of chess on students’ abilities in math, language acquisition, and other areas.”

“I am sure this will make our society better,” Gelfand said during a toast to launch the new research initiative. “I know leading intellectual professionals who succeeded thanks to their playing chess in school and continued playing alongside their professional development.”
(http://www.israel21c.org/social-action-2/can-chess-make-you-smarter/)

My thanks to Tim Payne for sharing the information. Many detract from, but only a few “add to” the discussion, and I appreciate those, like Brian and Tim, who have added something pertinent. The more one knows the better the chances of obtaining the truth, at least in theory.

The Horse’s Ess

The Legendary Georgia Ironman recently brought in two new volumns, #’s 109 & 110, of the New In Chess Yearbook. Earlier he had procured #111 and I thought he might cry when telling me of how it had fallen out of the bag and gotten scuffed when he attempted to bring it into the Fortress. “Now it’s only VG,” I said, harkening back to our days of selling sports cards. From the look on his face I immediately realized it was an inappropriate thing to say, so I added, “At least it still has the meat.” This is an inside joke concerning something LM Brian McCarthy said when someone made a comment about an Informant that had lost its cover because of the heavy use.

While perusing the books I mentioned one contained two Survey’s of the Leningrad Dutch, and the other had one, adding that the one in the “Jobava” (#110) was on the 4 Nh3 variation, while the two in the “Magnus” (#109) were on the 7…Qe8 line with the other being on what is now being called the “improved” Lisitsin Gambit, with 2 d3!?, according to Viktor Moskalenko in his book, The Diamond Dutch. “That ought to keep you busy,” said the Ironman.

The next day Tim asked about the Leningrad games in the NIC’s and was informed I had not gotten to the Survey section because there were three Dutch games in the Forum and one included in Kuzmin’s Corner. In addition I mentioned there were two games by Moskalenko, versus Michael Krasenkow and the lovely Tania Sachdev, with both being the “improved” Lisitsin Gambit with 2 d3. That reminded the Ironman of a game he had previously played using the Lisitsin Gambit against NM Marc Esserman in the 2007 Southern Open in Orlando. This brought forth the tale of the 2004 US Open in Weston, Florida, and the first game the Ironman had contested with Esserman. That was the US Open in which I could not play because of a bad back. As we reminisced about the event the Ironman was still upset about what occurred before the first round. He asked me to locate the hotel and I found it in the phone book, providing him with the address. He went to the spot and there was the hotel, but there was no chess tournament! He was directed to another hotel of the same chain in an outlying area many miles away. As it turned out, the hotel where the US Open was held was located in Weston, not Fort Lauderdale, as the USCF had listed. This caused the Ironman to arrive late for the round, which he managed to draw. To make matters worse, the hotel in Weston had the exact same address as the one in Fort Lauderdale! All I can remember is the heat. One day I decided to go for a walk in the afternoon and went into some place seeking AC. “You must not be from around here,” the lady said. “What makes you say that?” I asked. “Because no one who lives here goes out in the afternoon.”

Then the Ironman produced the scoresheet of the Esserman game at the Southern Open, and told me about his loss to the big man with a large head at the US Open. It seems Esserman made a move that led to mate and stood up, towering over the board, while extending his hand, an egregious breach of comportment. It was with this in mind the Legendary Georgia Ironman sat down to play NM Marc Esserman in the first round of the 2007 Southern Open…

Tim Brookshear (2001) vs Marc Esserman (2256)

1. Nf3 f5 2. b3 (After glancing at the scoresheet I said, “Hey Ironman, what’s this? You played 2 b3?!” He nabbed the scoresheet saying, “Well I thought it was a Lisitsin’s Gambit. I played e4 on the next move.” I shot back, “But you never played d3.” Tim thought for a moment before saying, “That’s right, I played d4, improving on the improvement!” What could I say other than, “Well, I dunno about that. I will have to take a look at it…”) d6 3. e4 (I was unable to find this in the Chessbase Database, or at 365chess.com, so I will call it the “Ironman Gambit.”) e5 (Esserman did not wish to allow a real gambit with 3… fxe4 4. Ng5 Nf6 5. d3!) 4. d4 (4. exf5 Bxf5 5. Nc3 Nc6 looks reasonable) fxe4 5. Ng5 (5. Nxe5!?) exd4 6.Qxd4 (6. Nxe4!?) Nf6 (6… d5!) 7. Nc3 (7. Nxe4!) d5 8. Bb2 h6 9. Nh3 Nc6? (After 9… Bxh3 I do not need a ‘puter to know the Ironman would be holding onto the rope by his fingernails) 10. Bb5 Kf7 (Once again Black should play 10…Bxh3 and White would have only a tenuous hold on his tattered position) 11. Qd2 (The Ironman decides to “advance to the rear,” but it would have been much better to have played 11. Bxc6 bxc6 12. Nf4, saving the Knight and the pawn structure as the Queen retreat allows 11…d4!) Ne7 (I do not know what to say…Guess my understanding of chess is not deep enough to comprehend some of the moves made by Esserman.) 12. O-O-O c6 13. Be2 Ng6 (But it is deep enough to understand Black should take the Knight) 14. Nf4 (The program known as Houdini wants to play 14 f3!? obviously “thinking” along the lines of, “If the human has not taken the Knight by now, it ain’t ever gonna take that sucker!”) Nxf4 15. Qxf4 Bd6 16. Qd2 Qc7 17. Kb1 Re8 18. Rdf1 Bf5 (According to Charley Hertan, who wandered through Atlanta with a backpack decades ago, Esserman should play the Forcing Move, 18…Bf4!) 19.h3 (19. Nd1) Rad8 (Again 19… Bf4) 20. g4 Bf4 21. Qd1 (21. Qd4!?) Bg6 22. h4 (The “engine” makes a case for 22. Na4. Who am I to argue?) d4 (22… b5 !) 23. Bc4+ Kf8 24. Ne2 Bf7 (24… Be5) 25. Bxf7 Kxf7 26. Rfg1 (I am taking the Bishop offa the board with 26. Nxf4 and I don’t care what any machine says) g5 (I wanted to play a positional move like 26…c5, but Houdini advocates 26…Rh8) 27. hxg5 hxg5 (I was thinking along the lines of taking the pawn with the Prelate, and so, it turns out, was Houey. I thought the Ironman was back in the game now, after struggling all game to get a grip. After looking at the game, I plugged it in the “engine” and it, too, thought White was slightly better. It is difficult to understand why a NM would open the Rook file like this…) 28. Rh6 (This looks like a natural move, and the kind of move I would make, but Houdini likes 28. Rf1!?) Kg7 29. Rgh1 c5 30. Qf1 (30.Nxf4!) Rh8 31. Qh3 (31.Nxf4!) Rxh6 32.Qxh6+ Kf7 33. Ng3 (33.Nxf4!) Bxg3 34. fxg3 Rg8 35. Rf1 Qe7 (35…Qe5!?) 36. Qh7+ (36.c3!?) Rg7 (36…Ke8!?) 37. Qf5 e3 38. b4 b6 39. bxc5 bxc5 (The last chance to play for an advantage is 39…e2) 40. Qd5+ Ke8 41. Qc6+ Nd7 42. Qa8+ Qd8 43. Qe4+ Qe7 44.Qa8+ Qd8 45. Qe4+ 1/2-1/2

When the game ended Tim mentioned something to Marc about it being a good game, which caused Esserman to erupt with, “You played like shit! I played like shit! It was ALL SHIT!!!”
Stunned, the Ironman said something about the previous game between them at the 2004 US Open and was shocked to hear Marc say, “We have never played before!”
This caused the Ironman to give Esserman the moniker, the “Horse’s Ess.” Any time anyone mentions Marc Esserman the Ironman says, “You mean the Horse’s Ess?”

What I did not mention to the Legendary Georgia Ironman is that the now IM Marc Esserman featured prominently in an article, Where Oddballs, Hustlers and Masters Meet, by Olimpiu G. Urcan, who “went undercover as a chess junkie in Boston’s iconic Harvard Square,” in the last issue of 2014/8 of the New In Chess magazine, the best chess magazine ever published. The article culminates with a sub-heading of “A Boisterous Enfant Terrible.” This refers to IM Esserman. It is written, “If confronted on various chess matters, he gets really loud and aggressive, disturbing the other games in progress. ‘It’s unheard of to pass by the Harvard Square and not play Billy Collins!’ he exclaimed one evening trying to arrange a blitz match for stakes between Collins and a New York acquaintance. Almost unable to stand it anymore, one of my opponents exclaimed while desperate to extricate himself from a difficult position: ‘Oh, c’mon, Marc. Can you please stop being such a bitch?’

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Apology to Thad Rogers

In my post dated November 28, 2014, I mistakenly wrote that Grant Oen is the, “owner of the Atlanta Kings.” I took this from the Southeast Chess website (http://www.southeastchess.com/atlanta-kings.html). Grant is the “Manager” of the Atlanta Kings. The impresario, L. Thad Rogers is the owner. My apologies to Thad. No slight was intended. I made a regretful mistake. Thad has tried for quite some time to bring a USCL team to Atlanta before succeeding.
For all of his foibles Thad has done much good for chess, not only in Georgia, but in the Southeast as well. In addition, I know Thad has helped many players throughout the years, and he has done it because he has a generous heart. One example will suffice to illustrate. Decades ago I was on a MARTA train heading to visit one of Thad’s tournaments when I encountered another chess player, called “Smokin’ Gun.” I nodded, Smokin’ Gun shot back a big grin and moved toward me. Upon mentioning I was headed to one of Thad’s tournaments and he asked, “You playing?”
“No, Smokin’ Gun, I said, I’m just going to visit. Why don’t you come with me?” He shook his head and said, “I can’t. I own Thad money.”
“What do you mean? Everyone has owed Thad money at one time or another. Come on by later if you can…Don’t dodge him…Tell him you haven’t forgotten about him, but circumstances are such that you can’t pay him back now, and he will be glad to see you..”
Hours later as I was about to leave, there was Smokin’ Gun, talking with Thad. On my way out the Gun grinned, saying, “It played out just like you said, man.”
Atlanta hosted the 1980 US Open because of Thad. When the Nashville Strangler hit it big at the World Open by winning the expert section, he made a point in the interview published in Chess Life to thank Thad for organizing all the tournaments in which he had played. FM Jerry Wheeler, along with LM Brian McCarthy, played so often some thought they lived in Atlanta. The same could be said for the “Little Hayseed,” Tom Waymouth, who took first in a “B” section of the World Open. Then there is Spencer Bledsoe, one of the Legendary Georgia Ironman’s students, who cut his teeth at the House of Pain before tying for first in an “A” section at the World Open. Spencer is best known for his part in the Survivor TV show. (http://survivor.wikia.com/wiki/Spencer_Bledsoe)
To top it off, FM Kazim Gulamali just played a match with IM Ron Burnett for the under 2500 money at the Millionaire Open. Ron, like the aforementioned Tennessee players, has played in as many of Thad’s tournaments as any Atlanta player. Kazim literally grew-up at the House. Together they brought $60,000 back South from Lost Wages!
Did I mentioned the time a former GCA President bankrupted the organization? Thad stepped in using his own money to keep the GCA solvent. I could go on and on, but why? Like everyone you know, or will ever know, Thad has entries on both the positive and negative side of the ledger, but he is one of the fortunate ones in which the positive outweighs the negative.
I know all of the above mentioned players, and the Legendary Ironman, will join me in saying, “Thank you, Thad, for all you have done for the Royal game.”