Showing posts with label zKB. Show all posts
Showing posts with label zKB. Show all posts

21 April 2013

Mystery Photo

Even though I'm not a chess collector, I get a fair amount of email on the subject. I assume this is because of my ongoing series on Top eBay Chess Items by Price, last seen in First Chess Postcards in the World. I'm always happy to get this sort of mail, because I invariably learn something about chess history.

Recently I received a message related to a post from June 2012, titled 'A' Is for Alekhine's Autograph. The sender of the message was the seller of the item pictured in that post, and he sent me a couple of scans which I've reproduced below.

The top scan is a photo showing (left to right) players that I believe are Kashdan, Flohr, Alekhine, Pirc, and Stoltz. The bottom scan is the reverse side of the photo -- apparently a postcard -- showing signatures of the same five players (top to bottom with Pirc and Stoltz on the bottom line). The bottom scan also shows a pencilled notation 'Nice 31' over the names of the five players (in the same order as the top photo). The uppermost pencilled note says 'consultation tournament' in Dutch, followed by a reference that I can't decipher.

My correspondent, himself a knowledgeable collector, noted, 'Nice 1931 seems doubtful because the info about the consultancy games there do not match the autographs.' Alekhine, Flohr, and Stoltz played there, but I could find no mention of the other two. If this is true, where was the photo taken?

After a little digging I discovered that all five players were on different teams at the Prague 1931 Olympiad. Was this the source of the photo and autographs? Perhaps an astute visitor to this blog can provide additional information.

19 April 2013

More Menchik

London schaken voor meisjes 1926 © Flickr user janwillemsen under Creative Commons.

My Dutch is just good enough to understand the caption, which says,

In de Imperial-Schaakclub te Londen werd dezer dagen een internationale schaakwedstrijd gehouden voor meisjes onder 21 jaar : op onze foto ziet men Engelsche en Russische kampioenen in den strijd.

For a more reliable translation I relied on Google Translate, which returned,

In the Imperial Chess Club in London these days was an international chess competition held for girls under 21 years: our photo shows English and Russian champions in battle.

The Flickr page doesn't give any information about the source other than the date (1926). Vera Menchik is standing in the center looking at the game on the right. According to my page, World Chess Championship for Women, she first became Women's World Champion in 1927. For another photo of Menchik, see my post titled Folkestone 1933.

15 September 2011

Spassky on Hanging Pawns

In my previous post, 'This Pawn Is Garbage', I mentioned Spassky's annotations in the tournament book of the Second Piatigorsky Cup, Santa Monica 1966, almost the only written notes I have ever seen by Spassky. A great example of his objective thinking is in a note to the first game in the book, against Petrosian, their 'first meeting after the [1966] championship match', a match which Spassky lost. Referring to the position in the diagram, Spassky wrote,

The so-called 'hanging Pawns' position was created. The shortcoming of hanging Pawns is that they present a convenient target for attack. As the exchange of men proceeds, their potential strength lessens and during the endgame they turn out, as a rule, to be weak.

That constitutes the general thinking on hanging Pawns, which experienced players learn early in their chess careers.

1966 Santa Monica
Spassky, Boris

Petrosian, Tigran
After 16...b6-c5(xP)

Spassky takes it further, noting the positive side of the Pawns, which many experienced players might not know.

The power of hanging Pawns is based precisely in their mobility, in their ability to create acute situations instantly. It should be kept in mind that the semi-open files b- and e- are a component of these hanging Pawns, which frequently serve as an excellent springboard for the development of aggressive play on the part of Black.

But generalities aren't sufficient. Along with the hanging Pawns, there are other pieces on the board that require particular attention.

In the situation at hand, there is an essential shortcoming in Black's position. The Bishop is unsatisfactorily placed on b7 and Black is unable to take advantage of the b-file. Thus, the basic failing in Black's formation lies in its passiveness. Of course, White is here in a position to begin a systematic siege of Black's center.

Spassky's emphasis on activity also came through on the Garbage post. To play though the complete game, see...

Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian vs Boris Spassky; Santa Monica (01) 1966


02 March 2010

Champions Without Lineage to Steinitz

In 'The Day Kasparov Quit', a book of interviews by Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam, Kasparov, just after losing the 2000 match to Kramnik, is quoted as saying (p.202),

[Kramnik] is the 14th World Champion. This is not Khalifman, Mattison, Bogoljubow, or whoever wins India. This is the man who joins Capablanca and the others.

What is the thread that ties these names -- Khalifman, Mattison, and Bogoljubow -- together?

Mattison: Mattison, Herman (1894-1932), Latvian player and study composer, known in Latvia as Matisons. In 1924 he won his country's first championship tournament and, later that year, ahead of Colle and Euwe, the first world amateur championship, arranged in connection with the Olympic Games at Paris. In the second and last amateur championship, organized by FIDE at The Hague in 1928, he took third prize after Euwe and Przepiorka, ahead of Becker. (Hooper & Whyld, 'Oxford Companion', p.252)

Bogoljubow: After Alekhine's victory over Capablanca [1927], FIDE, for which the conducting of the World Championship was an eternally sore point, decided to establish its own championship in a match of ten games and to declare him the official contender to the throne. The participants in the 'candidates match', held in the spring of 1928 in Holland, were Bogoljubow, the winner of the super-tournament at Moscow 1925 and Euwe, supported by his 'committee'. This was a battle of equals: after a win in the sixth game the Dutchman was a point ahead, but in the end he lost by the minimal score: 4.5-5.5 (+2-3=5). (Kasparov, 'Predecessors II' [chapter on Euwe], p.20) • See also FIDE Championship (1928) (

Khalifman: 1999 FIDE Las Vegas (Khalifman 1st)

Anand (winner at India): 2000 FIDE India/Iran (Anand 1st)

See also my recent post on Knockout Champions. What about Topalov, winner at 2005 San Luis; does he count as a real World Champion?

26 February 2009

Chess in Africa - African Zonals

Although it's not obvious from my Zonal Overview, the African continent is also represented in the table at the center of that post.

Africa first received formal recognition in the FIDE hierarchy when zone 11, the 'Afro-Mediterranean zone', was established in the mid-1970s. A few years later it was split into zone 11, the 'Mediterranean zone', and zone 12, the 'African zone'. In the early 1980s, the African zone was split into zone 12, the 'North and West African zone', and zone 13, the 'East and Central African zone'. When FIDE moved to the continental structure in the early 1990s, Africa was assigned three separate zones within the African continent.

The various African zonals and continental championships (designated as 4.0) are shown in the following table.

I haven't been able to locate details of certain events -- most notably the zonals which should have taken place before the 1990 and 1993 interzonals (cycles 15 and 16 in the table) -- and I suspect the African players were nominated by the zone presidents. I'll clarify this as soon as I can.

Note: For the previous post in the 'Chess in Africa' series, see Chess in Africa - Titled Players.

15 February 2009

4th Soviet Championship (1925)

Motivated by the photo in my post on Nikolai Krylenko, I searched various sources for more Soviet chess images from the 1920s. The Fizkultura i Sport Black Books were one resource at hand, and I found the following photo in the black book on Romanovsky. It shows the participants in the 1925 Soviet championship.

Source: Peter Romanovsky (Fizkultura i Sport; 1984), p.72

Front row (left to right): Vilner, Levenfish, (Rokhlin), Gothilf, Rabinovich, Bogoljubow, Ilyin Zhenevsky, Dus Chotimirsky, Romanovsky, Sergeev, Nenarokov, Verlinsky, Rabinovich. Back row: Freiman, Sozin, (Ereteev), Grigoriev, Zubarev, Selezniev, Kaspersky, Kutuzov, (Weinstein / Vainshtein). Missing: Kubbel. • The names in parentheses were not participants in the 1925 championship -- the 4th, held in Leningrad -- and I'm not sure if my transliteration is correct.

01 February 2009

Chigorin Wrapup

I had planned to wrap up this series on Chigorin with a summary of the 1890 Chigorin - Gunsberg match, using the same format I developed for 1893 Tarrasch - Chigorin (Anatomy). I ran into a snag when I realized that, although I have copies of the game scores, I have no record of the sequence in which they were played (and no way of knowing if my game scores are complete or accurate). There appears to be nothing on the web except for the final result of the match. The summary will have to wait until I have access to contemporary sources.

Here's a summary of my posts on Chigorin, including comments on special techniques used within the post.

Next stop in my look at the Soviet School: Alekhine.

26 May 2006

Gruenfeld - Alekhine, Karlsbad 1923

One of the curiosities on the list of Alekhine's annotated brilliancies is that Alekhine won two brilliancy prizes in each of three different events: 1922 Pistyan, 1923 Karlsbad, and 1926 Semmering. There are undoubtedly good reasons for this. One game might have been awarded a prize for the most brilliant game in the event, while the other might have won a prize for best game featuring an attack on the castled King. I'll check this the next time I visit a chess library.

The following position is from Karlsbad (Carlsbad) 1923. Just like the other brilliant game from the same event (Alekhine - Rubinstein), Kasparov selected this game for 'My Great Predecessors' and Kotov chose it for his biography of Alekhine.

This game against Gruenfeld was played in the round before the game with Rubinstein. Both games saw the same opening, a Queen's Gambit Declined, with Alekhine varying on his ninth move as White against Rubinstein (9.a4 instead of 9.a3); 'I wished to avoid fighting against the defence which I considered then, and still consider now, the best.'

The idea behind pushing the a-Pawn is seen in Black's last move in the diagram. It has allowed White's light squared Bishop to move from f1 to c4 (after ...d5xc4) to a2 to b1. The Queen and Bishop form a battery aiming at h7, a weak spot in Black's position. If it were now White's move and if the Knight were missing from f6, White could force mate in two.

Karlsbad 1923
Alekhine, Alexander

Gruenfeld, Ernst
(After 16.Ba2-b1)
[FEN "r1b1r1k1/3nbpp1/pq2pn1p/1p6/3N3B/P1N1P3/1PQ2PPP/1B1RK2R b K - 0 16"]

Alekhine first pointed out that White's last move, 'appears to prevent 16...Bb7 owing to the possibility of 17.Ndxb5 axb5 18.Rxd7 with a winning attack for White.' 16...Bb7! Anyway! This note and the following notes are all by Alekhine:

Black plays this move all the same, for 17.Ndxb5 would be refuted by 17...Qc6 18.Nd4 (forced) 18...Qxg2 with a strong counter-attack. In this way Black has successfully completed his development. There consequently remains nothing else for White than castling, after the failure of his premature attack.

17.O-O Rac8 18.Qd2

Hindering the double threat 18...Be4 or 18...Ne4.


This Knight will occupy the square c4, thereby fixing the weakness of the Queenside, induced by 9.a3.


In order to exchange Black's dangerous QB; White's next maneuver is finely conceived, but insufficient to equalize.

19...Bxf6 20.Qc2 g6

Not at all to prevent a harmless check at h7 but rather to secure a retreat subsequently for the KB, whose action on the long diagonal will be very powerful.

21.Qe2 Nc4 22.Be4!

Feeling himself in a strategic inferiority, Gruenfeld attempts to save himself by tactical skirmishing. He now hopes for the variation 22...Nxa3 23.Qf3! Bxe4 24.Nxe4 Bxd4 25.exd4 etc., which would ensure him the gain of the exchange.

22...Bg7! 23.Bxb7

But by this simple move, which is part of his plan, Black retains his advantage.

23...Qxb7 24.Rc1

The threat 24...Nxa3 compels White to retrace his 14th move.


The advance of the e-Pawn will give Black's Knight a new outpost on d3, still more irksome for the opponent than its present position.

25.Nb3 e4

Renewing the threat 26...Nxa3.

26.Nd4 Red8!

To make the following Knight maneuver still more effective, for now when it reaches d3 it will intercept the defence of the White Knight by the Rook.

27.Rfd1 Ne5 28.Na2

After this move, which removes the Knight from the field of action, White is definitely lost.

Alekhine wasn't shy about giving '!' to his moves. The five '!'-moves in the preceding sequence are as annotated by the fourth World Champion. He finished the game with a nice combination where he awarded himself two more '!'-moves as well as a '!!'-move! To play through the complete game see...

Ernst Gruenfeld vs Alexander Alekhine, Karlsbad 1923