Monday, July 06, 2015

Readers’ Hour

Black to play
Sigfusson - Polgar, J. Reykjavik 1988

Not long until Sitges. In fact on this day in two weeks’ time I’ll be in Spain. Assuming, that is, I do in fact make it out of Stansted which is not exactly a given.

To be honest, I don’t feel prepared for this tournament. Not unprepared in a 'don’t know what openings to play' kind of a way. More, not ready in the same sense that you might not be entirely confident of finishing a marathon if your training programme had been six months of sitting on the sofa eating mini-cheddars.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Zero sum game

Poor old Georg Meier.

Having lost a winning position against Caruana on Tuesday afternoon, he'd been holding reasonably firm against Kramnik on Wednesday when in the position above he played 50. Ke2?? (50. Ne3, safeguarding c2, seems to be correct) possibly under the impression that after 50...Rc2+ Black wouldn't have time to pick up the a2 pawn, since his f6 knight would now be hanging.

Regrettably this was not so and after 51. Ke3 Rxa2, since 52. Qxf6 runs into 52...Qf4+ or Qc1+, he tried to cover both squares with 52. Qc4 - but then 52...Qb7 threatened to put the liberated knight on d5, where it duly arrived with a bang and a terminal check. Exit Georg to spend the rest day pondering on the point and a half, against world-class players, that he'd managed to turn into none.

But what about that Vladmir Kramnik, eh? Nobody in the world more dangerous when the computer says 0.00. Nobody. Not even Magnus Carlsen.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Past imperfect

It looks like Brigitta Sinka did it: topped, last weekend, Capablanca's total number of games played in simultaneous exhibitions. Congratulations to her.

Meanwhile, in less important news, we were asking last week about the Women's Olympiad of 1960, for which Ms Sinka remembered having been selected, but in vain due to Hungary joining a boycott. This was confusing because no record could be found, on the internet, of a Women's Olympiad in that year, or indeed of any Eastern Bloc boycott around that time

However, a commentor provided us with information suggesting that Ms Sinka's memory was not as fallible as it first seemed, there had been an Olympiad planned, albeit for 1961 rather than 1960, but it hadn't taken place. The precise reasons for that appeared to involve the East German team being denied visas, rather than being disqualified as such, but that's a fine distinction. Other details remain to be established.

Here's what we got so far, much of it supplied by Matt Fletcher on Twitter. (There's also a Forum thread here from which I reproduce some material.)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

"A strong chess player"

Thomas Powers, writing in the London Review of Books, last issue but one:
I was in Mitchell’s apartment once or twice – something to do with Christmas – but just about all our conversations took place in the street or in the lobby of 44, where I often came and went around drink time on a visit to one of Barbara’s friends, Ruth Tremain, who had taught maths to Army Air Corps pilots at Yale during the war. She was a strong chess player and we played often while I was writing a piece about Bobby Fischer. Because I had married Candace, on whom Ruth doted, she let me win a few games, but that didn’t last long.
Prior to reading Powers' article I knew nothing of any Ruth Tremain, but given that a Google search for "ruth tremain" chess returns only a link to the piece referred to above, is it likely that she was in fact "a strong chess player"?

Monday, June 29, 2015


White to play
Larsen - Reshevsky, Sousse Interzonal 1967

Some places have stopped being just places to me. That is to say, there are towns and cities with names that are no longer just names. They come with numbers attached.

Say "Reykjavik" to me - like most if not all readers of this blog, I suspect - and it rings the Pavlovian bell marked "1972". The same is true of many World Championship matches (Baguio 1978; Buenos Aires 1927), Olympiads (Lugano 1968; Thessaloniki 1988), Candidates' Matches (Denver 1971; Belgrade 1977/78) and tournaments (Hastings 1895, New York 1924), those quoted being but a handful of dozens which spring to mind. Some are famous (Zurich 1953), some I don't have the faintest clue what went on  (Ostend 1907), but I know that something did.

Places aren’t just places for me any more.  They’re locations of chess events.

13 a3
Fischer - Myagmarsuren, Sousse Interzonal 1967

Sousse is a bit different. It comes with a number and another word: Interzonal. I can’t hear or read "Sousse" any more without mentally adding "Interzonal 1967" at the end.

Fischer dropping out, going back and then quitting for good - but playing that game in the King’s Indian Attack against Myagmarsuren before he legged. The tournament may have taken place a year before I was born, but these are the things that come to mind when I hear or read of Sousse. Not that I did hear about the town very often before Friday.

White to play

It seems there was only one king and pawn ending at the Sousse Interzonal. It lasted precisely one and a half moves.

It's not tremendously difficult to evaluate the consequences of trading down. Not even for an average club chesser. I assume, therefore, that the pawn ending only happened at all because Reshevsky was in zeitnot as usual and that it was only on reaching the control after

59 Bxc4 bxc4, 60 Kxc4 Kc6, 61 Kd4

that he found he had time enough to resign.

Sousse? No.

Sousse Interzonal 1967. That’s how it’s been and - some twat with a rifle or otherwise - that’s how it’s going to stay.

King and pawn Index

With thanks to Angus

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Consecutive simultaneous

Brigitta Sinka isn't the only person giving a simultaneous this weekend. Just as he did last year, Jonathan Rowson is doing the same, in Fulham, and S&B blog readers are invited to turn up and play.

It's to raise funds for Brandlehow Primary School, which Jonathan's son attends, and it runs from 11 am to 2 pm. First come first served, though even if all boards are filled Jonathan expects (or hopes) to beat some juniors quickly enough to free some up.

It's five quid a throw for adults, three for kids and "further donations encouraged from those who can afford it". Cupcakes will be available at four for a pound.

Nearest Tube East Putney (District Line) and nearest overground Putney. If you're in London tomorrow, why not give it a go?

Friday, June 26, 2015

Gone missing

Who's Brigitta Sinka? I confess I'd never heard of her until, on my way home from holiday on Tuesday, I picked up a copy of MARCA, Spain's best-selling sports daily. To my surprise, the back page was full of chess, headed by a photo of the aforementioned Brigitta Sinka.

It transpires that Ms Sinka is hoping very shortly to overhaul the world record of 13545 games played in simultaneous displays, a record held by Capablanca, of whom I had previously heard.

This impresses the hellout of me, not leat because the one time I've given a simul, at which time I was approximately half the age Ms Sinka is now, I nearly died of backache.

So, best of luck to Ms Sinka in overhauling Capa's record. There was one odd thing, though, about the story, that puzzled me. What's this about?