It has been my contention for decades that more points should be awarded for a win or draw with black. For example, 1.1 for a win with black as opposed to 0.9 for white, and 0.6 for a draw with black versus 0.4 for a draw with white. Any numbers can be chosen as long as black earns more in order to suppress the urge players have to split the point. In the very first round of the US Championships Timur Gareev had white versus Gata Kamsky, and this is the game score of their “battle.”
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 a6 5.cxd5 cxd5 6.Bg5 e6 7.e3 Nc6 8.Bd3 h6 9.Bh4 g5 10.Bg3 Nh5 11.Be5 Nf6 12.Bg3 Nh5 13.Be5 Nf6 14.Bg3 Nh5 ½-½
Gata Kamsky is the defending champion. This “game” has set the tone for the tournament. Since this was the very first game of the tournament and there is only one game played each day, fatigue cannot be used as an excuse. Could it be both players were filled with fear at the thought of losing the first game? Both players had many options rather than to repeat moves, and, if only one of them had more fighting spirit, maybe they would have actually battled rather than hugging each other before breaking a sweat. Chess will never be taken seriously as long as “games” like this take place.
The above was written yesterday with the intention of posting it prior to the second round. Unfortunately, a thunder storm with lightning, appeared. It was frightening, making me knock on wood, after turning the ‘puter off. The results of the second round, all draws, are now known. At least they were of longer duration with some of them having a chance of being decisive. Still, are games were drawn. The tone was set by the short draw made by Gareev and Kamsky. One cannot help but wonder if the game was agreed drawn before the first move was made…
On Tuesday, August 9, 1966, the Los Angeles Dodgers were in Atlanta to battle the hometown Braves. The Dodgers were 63-46, only a half game back of the Giants and Pirates. The Braves were seven games below .500, languishing in seventh place, ahead of only the two expansion teams of 1962, the Mets and the Astros, and the lovable losers, the Cubs. The pitcher called “The Left Arm of God,” Sandy Koufax, a future Hall of Famer, was to toe the rubber for the Dodgers, while fellow lefty Denny LeMaster was to take the hill for the Braves. Atlanta stadium, known as the “launching pad,” was full that night, and I was one of those in the stands. What most people do not know is that earlier that season, on Sunday, June 26, the Dodgers had faced the Braves with Koufax on the mound facing Denver LeMaster. Although not a sellout, there were 51,275 fannies in the seats. The series started with a Friday night game that drew 30,043. There was a day-night double header Saturday, with 32,063 attending the day game and 47,226 coming that night. The Braves had lost the first game, but swept the doubleheader. The Sunday game was tied at one apiece heading into the top of the ninth. After Koufax struck out (He may have been the left arm of God, but he could not hit!), Maury Wills reached on an error by Eddie Mathews, who was having his worst season in MLB, hitting only .199. The Braves manager, Bobby Bragan, decided to bring in relief pitcher Clay Carroll, who hit the first batter he faced, then allowed Willie Davis to double Wills in, taking the lead. In the bottom of the ninth Sandford Braun Koufax struck out two of the three batters he faced, allowing only a fly ball out to the CFer by Eddie Mathews, the goat of the game.
Fast forward to Monday, August 8, with the Dodgers back in the Capital of the South for a three game series. The Braves won a high scoring game 10-9, with 28,541 fans in the stands. That brings us to Tuesday, August 9, and a rematch of Koufax versus LeMaster, and a crowd of 52,270, the largest of the season. The excitement was palpable hours before the game.
The Braves took the lead on a Felipe Alou home run in the bottom of the first and the score stayed that way until the top of the eight, when Jim Lefebvre, the second sacker, hit one over the fence to tie the game. The Braves did not score in the bottom of the eight and the Dodgers could not score in the top of the ninth. In the bottom half of the inning Felipe Alou led off with a grounder to the shortstop for out one. In stepped the goat from June, third baseman Eddie Mathews. Eddie had turned 32 in 1966 and was not having a good year. As it turned out, this season was the beginning of the end for one of the greatest third basemen in the history of MLB. But on this night, left handed hitting Eddie Mathews sent the Braves fans home happy when he hit a home run to end the game. This was the first season in Atlanta for the Braves and the fans were delirious. One could have mistaken this night for a World Series game. It is still the most exciting MLB game I have ever seen.
The next night the Braves beat Don Drysdale 3-1 with 23,389 in attendance. The total for the weeknight series was 104,200, an average of 34,733. The average for the earlier weekend series was 40, 152, the most for any series that season, and Sandy Koufax was the reason. The Dodgers would go on to the World Series that year, losing to the Baltimore Orioles in four games. The Braves won 32 of their last 50 games, a .640 winning %, best in the NL, showing promise for the next season. It did not materialize until 1969, when the Braves won the western division. What were the Braves doing in the west? That’s Major League Baseball!
Now imagine baseball was chess and that after Jim Lefebvre hit his home run in the top of the eight inning and the Braves failed to score, the Braves manager offered Walt Alston, the Dodgers manager, a draw, and it was accepted. How many fans do you suppose would come back to watch baseball?