Who Is The Real Mozart Of Chess?

After clicking on to CNN I noticed ‘Mozart of chess’ now unbeaten for 111 games directly below ‘Jeopardy!’ crowns ‘Greatest of All Time’. I clicked onto the Mozart of chess story where this picture was found:


‘The Mozart of Chess’

Edward Winter

Christian Sánchez (Rosario, Argentina) enquires about the origins of a nickname given to Capablanca, ‘The Mozart of chess’, and wonders when it was first used. We plan to revert to that matter later on, and readers’ assistance with citations will be welcomed. Firstly, though, we would point out that the term has been applied to many masters. Some examples:

  • Paul Morphy:

‘Morphy was the Mozart of chess.’
Page 228 of the Columbia Chess Chronicle, 29 December 1888 (article by G.H.D. Gossip).

Page 305 of the August-September 1884 BCM had stated: ‘What Mozart, as to innate, natural ability, was to music, Morphy likewise was to chess.’

  • Emanuel Lasker:

‘The Mozart of chess’
Page 45 of White King and Red Queen by D. Johnson (London, 2007).

  • Mikhail Tal:

‘El Mozart del ajedrez’
Page 113 of El campeonato mundial de ajedrez by E. Gufeld and E.M. Lazarev (Barcelona, 2003).

  • Boris Spassky:

‘Spassky has been called the Mozart of chess.’
Page 65 of Bobby Fischer Goes to War by D. Edmonds and J. Eidinow (London, 2004).

  • Bobby Fischer:

‘Fourteen-year-old “Mozart of Chess”’
Page SM38 of the New York Times, 23 February 1958 (article by H.C. Schonberg – see C.N. 5491). Schonberg referred to Capablanca as ‘the Mozart of chess’ on page 181 of Grandmasters of Chess (Philadelphia and New York, 1973).

  • Anatoly Karpov:

‘He is the Mozart of the chessboard …’
Page 21 of Karpov-Korchnoi 1978 by R. Keene (London, 1978).

  • Magnus Carlsen:

‘In January 2004, I called Magnus Carlsen the Mozart of chess for the first time. It was a spontaneous, last-minute decision to meet a deadline for my column in the Washington Post. The name was picked up immediately and spread around quickly. It was used, misused, overused.’
Lubomir Kavalek, article dated 23 February 2012.



Chess during Mozart’s time: “Nannerl”



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!”


Ding-A-Ling Liren Shares Sinquefield Cup First Place With Magnus

Magnus Carlsen defeated Maxime Vachier-Lagrave

with the black pieces in the final round of the Sinquefield Cup to finish in a tie for first place with Ding Liren.

Magnus Carlsen resigning to Ding Liren after last “hurry-up and get it over” game

The next day the Chess tournament devolved into much faster time controls and the World Champion lost the exhibition, causing some to report the man from China had actually ‘won’ the tournament. Ding had a better performance rating than Magnus, 2845 to 2838. There are many ways, including performance rating, to determine a “winner,” without forcing the best human players on the planet to play Blunder Fest Chess. FIDE has led the Chess world into Mass psychogenic illness. (Mass psychogenic illness (MPI), also called mass sociogenic illness, mass psychogenic disorder, epidemic hysteria, or mass hysteria, is “the rapid spread of illness signs and symptoms affecting members of a cohesive group, originating from a nervous system disturbance involving excitation, loss, or alteration of function, whereby physical complaints that are exhibited unconsciously have no corresponding organic aetiology”.)

Although there are a few sane humans who realize Ding and Magnus were Co-Champions of the Sinquefield Cup we are vastly outnumbered by weak-minded, go along to get along type followers. Maybe things will change after Ding defeats Magnus to win the World Human Chess Championship as the Chinese will then rule the Chess world and could possibly restore sanity to the Royal game. We sane fans can only hope…

The World Of Championship Chess

During the meeting of the Ironman Chess Club Tuesday, July 16, 2019 I was able to question the owner of Championship Chess, (https://www.championshipchess.net/) Steve Schneider,

a man I have known since the 1970’s, and for whom I once worked teaching Chess to children in an after school program. Our ‘conversation’ turned into an interview. There were others listening to our discussion. Without those witnesses I would be unable to publish this interview. It began after Steve, who is elderly, and like many older people, battling myriad health issues, including life threatening blood clots in his legs, stated, “I spend eighteen hours a day on Chess.” I did not question this because it is common knowledge Steve ‘burns the midnight oil’, sending emails into the wee hours of the night. I was holding a Championship Chess flyer for the 8th annual K-12 Summer Scorcher Chess tournament, which includes, on the back, the first twenty moves of the game between World Human Chess Co-Champion (at classical Chess) Magnus Carlsen and Sharsidden Vokhidov from the 2018 World Rapid Championship, titled “The Queen’s Raid.”

Me: “I see you are still teaching the Queen’s Raid.”

Steve: “There is nothing wrong with teaching the Queen’s Raid. It’s a good opening. Look at who plays it!”

Me: “Come on, Steve.”

Steve: “All the computers say it’s a playable opening!”

Me: “Which computers?”

Steve: “Stockfish, and all the top programs! Stockfish says white is better in the game!” (Referring to the aforementioned game printed on the back of the flyer. For years a Championship Chess flyer contained Chess puzzles chosen by NM Tim Brookshear. The Queen’s Raid game appears because Tim, for various reasons, decided to no longer produce the puzzles, allowing Steve’s atavistic tendencies to rear their ugly head. Hence the Queen’s Raid, something near and dear to the heart of the owner of Championship Chess. A case can be made that Championship Chess was predicated upon the Queen’s Raid, which has become synonymous with Championship Chess. The Queen’s Raid is the foundation of Championship Chess. Steve Schneider will invariably be known as the “Queen’s Raid guy.”)

Me: “When, exactly, is white better according to Stockfish, Steve?”

Steve: “In all the diagrams!”

Me: “Come on, Steve.”

Steve: Except where Magnus missed the best move in the last diagram.”

Me: “But the diagram is before Carlsen, as you say, ‘…missed the best move.'”

Steve: “Then he’s better there, too!”

(All I could do was shake my head as I muttered “unbelievable.” I then decided to move to a different subject. Granted, Magnus was better but only after his opponent played a theoretical novelty that was an extremely weak move, 4…Qe7. The Patzer is so bad that even with the inclusion of the weak move Qe7 the game is considered about even by “all of the programs.”)

Me: “What’s the deal with the World of Chess?” (Steve has spent much money having someone develop a program for beginners to which he sells access to unknowing parents of children who are in Championship Chess after school programs. I had previously seen a flyer for The World of Chess at the Ironman CC)

Steve: “What do you mean?”

Me: “Is it operational?”

Steve: “Yes.”

Me: “I looked for it on the internet but could not locate it.”

Steve: “Not just anyone can get to it.”

Me: “I would like to review it, Steve.”


Me: “You don’t want it reviewed?” (Asked with incredulity)

Steve: “Why would I want others to see it?”

Me: “When a new product is developed it is usually reviewed…”

Steve: “You have to pay first.”

Me: “You must pay before even checking it out?”

Steve: “Yes.”

Me: “I understand it is similar to Mike Klein’s ChessKid, (https://www.chesskid.com/) which is free.”

Steve: “It’s NOT free. You must pay!”

Me: “I checked out ChessKid and there is much free content for anyone to see and use…”

Steve: “ChessKid really took off after he came to one of my lectures and stole my ideas.”

Me: “Who came to your lecture?”

Steve: “Mike Klein came to a lecture in Alabama. Most of what’s on ChessKid he took from me!”

Me: “But Steve, ChessKid has been around since long before you developed The World of Chess.”

Steve: “And you have to pay.”

Me: “But you can check it out before paying.”

Steve: “I’m not giving anything away. You must pay first!”

At this point Steve’s face was beet red and he was in a highly agitated state, so there were no further questions as others began to query “Coach Steve.”

This is my attempt to reproduce the Championship Chess flyer:

ECO20 The Queen’s Raid (At the 365Chess.com website you will find this-C20 KP, Patzer opening) (https://www.365chess.com/opening.php?m=4&n=332&ms=e4.e5.Qh5&ns=3.5.332)

Carlsen, Magnus (2835)
Vokhidov, Shamsiddin (2480)
World Rapid Championship 12.2018

1.e4 e5 2.Qh5 Nc6 3.Bc4 g6 4.Qf3 Qe7 5.Ne2 Nf6 6.d3 Bg7 7.Nbc3

Typical opening moves where the players are even. h6 8.Nd5 Nxd5 9.exd5 Na5 10.d6

Carlsen prevents Black from trading his Bishop. He sacrifices a Pawn for better development.cxd6 11.Bd5 Nc6 12.Bd2 Qf6 13.Qe4 O-O 14.O-O Ne7 15.Nc3 Qf5 16.Qb4 Nxd5

Black trades a Knight for a Bishop. 17.Nxd5 Kh7 18.Nc7 Rb8 19.Qxd6

White is better. b6 20.f3 Here Carlsen missed the best move Ne8! 0-1

I went to 365Chess and the “Big Database” contains 281 games with white winning 36.3% while losing 50.9%. The ChessBaseDataBase contains only 35 games because it is more selective, containing mostly games by titled players. It shows white scoring only 44%.

The CBDB shows what the engines ‘thought’ of the opening moves played in the Carlsen v Vokhidov game.

1.e4 e5 2.Qh5 (After this move SF 10 at D43 shows an evaluation of -0.50 for white after black plays 2…Nc6 ; Komodo 12 has it -0.20)

Nc6 3.Bc4 g6 4.Qf3 (Although Stockfish at Depth 43 plays the game move Komodo 12 at D42 prefers 4 Qd1)

4…Qe7? (There is only one game with this move in the CBDB. Komodo has it -0.02 after 5 Ne2. There are 25 games with 4…Nf6, SF has it -0.56. Vokhidov did not know the opening, which may have contributed to the thinking of Magnus Carlsen before playing The Patzer. Magnus has never played it again. There is a reason…) 5.Ne2 Nf6 (The Fish and the Dragon both play 5…Na5) 6.d3 (SF 10 plays 6 Nbc3) 6…Bg7 (Komodo and Houdini play the game move but Stockfish plays 6…h6, which will be a Theoretical Novelty if and when a titled human player makes the move on a board) 7.Nbc3 (SF 10 shows an advantage of -0.39 after 7…Nd4) 7…h6 8.Nd5 (SF 8 h3; Houdini 8 Be3) 8…Nxd5 9.exd5 Na5 ( According to both SF and Houdini 9…Nb4 is better) 10.d6 cxd6 11.Bd5 Nc6 (SF 11…Rb8) 12.Bd2 (This is Komodo’s move; Houdini plays 12 Qe4) 12…Qf6 (SF 10 castles)

Pitiful Chess

Before the last round of the Netanya International Chess Festival 2019 Leinier Dominguez Perez was tied for first with Boris Gelfand, both with five points. The former, now representing the USA, was the higher rated, and younger, player. Dominguez Perez also had the white pieces. The “game” follows:

Leinier Dominguez Perez vs Boris Gelfand

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 g6 4. Bxc6 bxc6 5. O-O Bg7 6. Re1 Nh6 7. c3 O-O 8. h3 f5 9. e5 Nf7 10. d3 a5 11. Na3 Ba6 12. Bf4 e6 13. Qd2 h6 14. h4 1/2-1/2

This is pitiful Chess. Something is drastically wrong with Chess when any player refuses to play for a win in the last round to win a tournament. Some say there is no incentive for a player to “risk all” to win when a quickie draw will tie for first place. Is there not enough incentive for these chumpy-lumpy types to play for a win? Why is winning the tournament not enough incentive, as it was for Bobby Fischer, and appears to be for Magnus Carlsen? Why do these cowards even play the Royal game? What is the point of “playing” the game if the result is a short draw? Why is Chess taken seriously by some people? What is it about the culture of Chess that it has become accepted practice for the best human players alive to not play Chess? Imagine going to a Baseball game and watching the two teams bat in the first inning with neither team scoring before ending the game by agreeing to a draw. How long would Major League Baseball last? If the current conditions, conducive to “playing” quick draws, continue being acceptable how long will Chess last as a serious game?

Speed Kills

An article, Do We Still Need Classical Chess? by GM Gregory Serper, was published on Chess.com a few days ago. The Grandmaster begins with this statement: The classical format of our beloved game is under attack.

Fact is, the classical format has been under attack for many years. Consider this article published much earlier this decade, Slow Chess Should Die a Fast Death – Part 2
This was published November 5, 2015, by IM Greg Shahade on his blog (https://gregshahade.wordpress.com/2015/11/05/slow-chess-should-die-a-fast-death-part-2/).
Greg wrote, “Wow. Part 1 of this blog was by far the most controversial thing I’ve written. The blog received hundreds of comments on multiple websites, for instance reddit and chess.com.
There was lots of positive feedback and also lots of violently aggressive negative feedback. I can’t imagine that I’d get more hatred from some of these people than if I kidnapped their child. Multiple people even made it clear that I must have wrote the blog because I was so jaded due to some slow chess game that I lost in the past or that I had some deep, dark emotional problems that were finally manifesting themselves in my blog.
One person, a complete stranger, was seemingly so offended by the article, that at 4:17 AM they posted a tweet on my Twitter feed that simply said “@GregShahade Jackass”
What’s the truth? I love chess but I also live in the real world and realize that 5-6 hour chess games are an impractical use of resources and time.”

GM Serper writes: “People are complaining about boring games that lead to an abundance of draws in super-GM tournaments. They are trying to change everything: the scoring system (three points for a win, one point for a draw), the time control and even the traditional tournament format.
One of the latest attempts was made in the recent Norway Chess super-tournament in Stavanger. To put it mildly, the result failed to impress.
Not only were there a lot of draws; some of them were true “gems.” Look at this:

Alexander Grischuk (2775) vs. Wesley So (2754)
1/2-1/2 Norway Chess Stavanger NOR 5 Jun 2019 Round: 2.5 ECO: C67

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6 6. dxe5 Nxb5 7. a4 Nbd4 8. Nxd4 d5 9. exd6 Nxd4 10. Qxd4 Qxd6 11. Qe4+ Qe6 12. Qd4 Qd6 13. Qe4+ Qe6 14. Qd4 Qd6 15. Qe4+ Qe6 ½-½

These triple repetition games can be stopped simply by adopting the Go rule, Ko, which prevents repeating the position endlessly. In the above game, for instance, Grischuk would have been unable to play 13 Qe4+ and would, therefore, have had to make a different move.

Serper poses the question, “Can we blame the players for a short draw that didn’t produce a single new move?”

YES, we can, and I will! The so-called “game” is BULLSHIT! No one other than the players are responsible for stinking up the tournament hall.

Serper follows up with, “They quickly figured out that rather than play for four hours, they can make a quick draw and decide the outcome in a fraction of that time. Some people would call it efficiency and some might call it cynicism.”

I call it blasphemy against Cassia.

The GM continues, “I’ve shared my opinion on the subject many times. I laugh when some people claim that classical chess is dead from “draw death.” Somehow, Magnus Carlsen’s opponents in the recent super-tournaments didn’t get the memo and that’s why they couldn’t hold the world champion to a draw frequently.”

Magnus Carlsen plays to WIN, which is why he is the human World Champion.

Serper continues, “Now let’s talk about boring chess vs. exciting chess.
The recent match between Benjamin Gledura and Awonder Liang was indeed very interesting to watch. Blunders are unavoidable in blitz and this is a major part of the entertainment.”

I derive absolutely no pleasure from watching the best human Chess players alive produce a festival of blunders. As I have written previously on this blog, Chess is NOT Backgammon! To play Chess well requires TIME to COGITATE! Backgammon can, and is played at a fast pace because it is a much simpler game than Chess.

The GM then shows a game after writing, “Nevertheless, when I watched the finish of the following game I could almost hear some people asking: “Are they really grandmasters?”

Exactly. Some people may enjoy watching Chess GMs play what GM Yasser Seirawan called, “Howlers,” followed by more howlers, but I am not one of them.

After presenting the ridiculous “game” Serper then writes, “This is precisely why blitz was strictly forbidden when I was a student of the famous Botvinnik-Kasparov school. The Patriarch believed that blitz hurt your chess. I even asked him if he ever played blitz himself. Botvinnik looked surprised by such a stupid question and paused for a moment. Indeed, what kind of a chess player would never play blitz?
“Of course I’ve played blitz,” he finally answered. “Once. On a train.”

GM Serper then compares the games Benjamin Gledura played with different time controls, before writing, “On one side we have a lot of excitement (and of course blunders!) in his blitz games. On the other side we have an extremely well-played and instructive game in a regular time control.
Many people will probably call this endgame boring. So, do we still need classical chess?

My reply is, Hell Yeah! Without classical there is no Chess.

Magnus Carlsen Being Human

“Looking at computer games it’s clear that we still have a very long way to go when thinking about long term compensation and such things, because simply we misjudge positions and we draw our conclusions too early. It’s not clear exactly how you can improve these things, but it’s very, very clear to see that we’ve only still scratched the surface of what is possible to do in chess, because we are human and we make mistakes.” – Magnus Carlsen