Sunday, 18 April 2021

Torre v Adams

 While the Adams v Torre (New Orleans 1920) game is well known throughout the chess world, there was also Torre v Adams played around the same time. It too involved some spectacular play (a double rook sacrifice by White), but this time Torre was victorious.

Torre Repetto,Carlos - Adams,Edwin Ziegler [C13]
New Orleans New Orleans,LA, 1920

Friday, 16 April 2021

When dinosaurs roamed the Earth

 Kids often express amazement when I mention that a particular game I am demonstrating was played 150 years ago. It is as though nothing every really happened before about 1980 or so, and probably even later than that.

So I suspect this next game would totally blow their minds. It is both the first game in the 'Oxford Encyclopedia of Chess Games' and the first game in the various Chessbase 'Big Database' editions.

De Castellvi,Francisco - Vinoles,Narcisco [B01]
Causual Games Valencia, 1475

Thursday, 15 April 2021

Go programming

 While there is now a programming language called Go, there is of course still the game of Go. And if you are a fan of Humble Bundle, you might already know of the Machine Learning book bundle on offer for the next 4 days. One of the books on offer covers reinforcement learning in the game of Go. I've already purchased my copy, and will have a good read of it over the next few weeks. The only thing to note is that the authors didn't go full self reference by using Go to program Go. Instead it is Python and various libraries, although this is a good second language choice.

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Another good bishop story

 My attempts at learning the Catalan (as White) have been hampered by the fact that most of my opponents avoid the main line. After 1.d4 I've had any number of Indian systems, a Dutch, and even the Albin Counter Gambit (which I lost). However, in a lot of these games the bishop on g2 has still turned out to quite a useful piece. This was once again demonstrated in a game I won last night.

Press,Shaun - Beare,Nick [A91]
Murphy Memorial (3), 13.04.2021

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

The Iron King

 In chess the definition of an "Iron King" is a little bit vague, but usually it refers to a king that marches up the board while being pursued by enemy pieces, and not only survives, but eventually contributes to the win. Probably the most well known example is Steel v Amateur from the 19th century, but other games do qualify. 

A new addition to the list is a game that was played at the Gungahlin Chess Club this evening. When I had my first look at the game, the White king was already on c4, and spectators were already starting to murmur. As I was busy with my own game, I did not see the next few moves, but when I discovered the king had gone to a6 to help with the mate on b7, I was more impressed than surprised. Of course in a game like this both sides missed their chances (Black had a couple of chances for a perpetual), and almost like the Steel v Amateur the was even a chance to save the day as late as move 21 (21. ... c6!)

White - Black [C44]
2021 Murphy Memorial Gungahlin (3), 13.04.2021

Chess for beginners - by beginners

 Surely a sign of the growing popularity of chess is the availability of chess magazines in the local news agency. "Chess for Beginners" was spotted by my wife while out shopping on Sunday, and so she thought it would make a nice addition to my collection, even if it weighed in at a hefty $20. Nonetheless it is a well laid out and colourful publication, with plenty of pictures and diagrams in its 160 pages.

The only problem is it doesn't seem to be written by people who actually play chess. The first warning sign is on the cover(!), where the board is set up the wrong way (white not on right). This error is repeated on and off throughout the magazine, and even when the board is the right way around, the king and queen are sometimes on the wrong starting squares instead. 

And while most of the advice given is fairly harmless (and sometimes useful), one odd piece stood out. "Chess is not about dominating the board or taking the most pieces". Well actually, it usually is, but to demonstrate the point, they included a game. Without checking ahead I showed this game to a group of students today, thinking that it involved a brilliant set of sacrifices that led to a checkmate. In a sense it did, as in the magazine Black did win by checkmate. But when I showed the last moves I wondered why White did not choose a better defensive move, which avoided the mate and simply won. A bit of digging then revealed the truth. The game chosen actually ended in a win for White (instead of Black), but they simply changed White's last move to support the point they were making. Here is the real game (with 29.cxb4 and not 29.Nxb4) , instead.

(* Thanks to Ralph Jackson for suggesting the title to this post *)

Sliwa,Bogdan - Bronstein,David I [A81]
Gotha Gotha (4), 12.09.1957

Sunday, 11 April 2021

Games without dates

 I have just discovered a large pile of scoresheets containing games I played between the late 1980's and the year 2000. I knew I had them somewhere, but up until now, I wasn't sure where. The obvious thing is to now enter the games into my personal database to fill in the 12 year gap in my game records.

The only issue is a lot of them are both undated, and lacking information such as the event they were played in. They do contain my opponents name (normally), but even then it is a little unclear. As an example, here is a game which I think I played at the Doeberl, in either 1988 or 1999.

Thwaites,R - Press,Shaun [C63]
Doeberl, 1988