Sunday, 27 September 2020

Was the fix in?

 A number of my older chess books contain amusing anecdotes dated many years before. As these books do not often include sources for these stories, it could be assumed that some tales have been either invented, or are exaggerations of real events.

One story is about an early form of match fixing between Ruy Lopez and Giovanni Leonardo. In a match to decide the best player in the world (in 1575), Leonardo threw his first two games, only to come back and win the match 3-2. In looking for more background on this story I did discover discrepancies about the venue (Madrid or Rome), but more importantly, if Leonardo was trying to throw some games, he could have been a bit more subtle about it.

Lopez de Segura,Ruy - Leonardo,Giovanni da Cutri [C30]
Ruy Lopez Rome, 1560

Friday, 25 September 2020

The plural of chess?

 Whether there was a plural form of the word 'chess' was something I have not really though about until today. But according to Wiktionary, the plural of chess is chesses. Now I'm pretty sure that 'chesses' isn't even a word, and I am struggling to think of a sentence that could contain it. 

But I do like the other identifier attached to the word "chess" in the article. The fact that it is uncountable (ie you can't have 'several chess') does make sense to me. There is just chess!

Thursday, 24 September 2020

Even GM's sometimes forget

 Anyone who has been coached by me recently will know I am a big fan of castling and king safety. Of course anyone who has played me recently will also know that I often get this wrong in my own games. It turns out I am not the only one, as even GM's sometimes forget to get their king out of the firing line. In the following 3 minute game, a well known GM and trainer never gets around to castling, and quickly pays the price.

Jeff_Memes (2526) - GurevichMikhail (2539) [B06]
Live Chess, 20.09.2020

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Mind your e's and c's

 When I first started playing chess, I wondered if 1.e4 c5 2.c4 was an acceptable way of playing against the Sicilian. At the time I knew no opening theory, but it turns out that it is, as it transposes into a line of the English (normally starting with 1.c4).

Soon after that I faced 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.c4!? as Black, and although I did win that game, White seemed better out of the opening.

So the next question is, after 1.e4 e5 can 2.c4 be played? The following game (played by correspondence) sees White give it a go (by transposition). However, the main objection to these systems (losing control of d4) is demonstrated both early in the game, and as the games final move!


White,Christopher (1806) - Thew,Brian W. (2060) [C20]
2020/AUS/SNR-B (AUS) ICCF, 20.04.2020

Monday, 21 September 2020

If 2020 was a chess opening

 While some people regard "The London System" as the '2020' chess opening, I think of it as more of a '2016' opening. For 2020 I more inclined to go for the sheer absurdity of  'The Bongcloud', which Hikaru Nakamura used to beat Jeffery Xiong at the St Louis Blitz.


Nakamura,Hikaru (2829) - Xiong,Jeffery (2709) [C42]
St. Louis Rapid & Blitz (27.5), 19.09.2020

Saturday, 19 September 2020

Fingers crossed

 Although these things are never 100% certain, it is looking highly likely that the 2020 Vikings Weekender will be taking place on the 21st and 22nd November, at the Lanyon Vikings Club (Conder ACT). The practical details of how the event will  be run (social distances, maximum time at the board, total allowed entries) is still being sorted, but you can at least try and keep that weekend free if you wish to play. 

Of course any changes to ACT Covid regulations may effect the holding of the tournament, and it is likely that players from current Covid hotspots will not be able to enter. Otherwise the ACT Chess Association and the Tuggeranong Chess Club is looking forward to holding at least 1 weekend event in Canberra for 2020!

Friday, 18 September 2020

The 15 hour game

 Before the invention of chess clocks, players could generally take as long as they wanted over any (or all) move. In casual chess this could be avoided by simply refusing to play a particular opponent, but in tournament chess this option wasn't available. At best you might have a rule that limited the thinking time over anyone move (eg no more than 30 minutes), but this rule wasn't always enforced.

For example, the final of the 1st American Chess Congress , played between Paul Morphy and Louis Paulsen, saw games as long as 15 hours. But based on the times listed in the tournament book, almost all the thinking time was taken up by Paulsen. In the game below, 27 of Paulsens move's took more than 10 minutes to play, while Morphy's longest think was (on move 51) was only 10 minutes. On move 52 Paulsen took 75 minutes to play Qh3. However the extra thinking time did not help Paulsen too much, as this game was agreed drawn, albeit in a position were Paulsen was still winning. 

Paulsen,Louis - Morphy,Paul [C67]
USA-01 Congress Grand Tournament New York,NY (4.2), 30.10.1857