Monday, October 20, 2014

Day of days

White to play
Kasparov - Karpov World Championship Game 4, New York 1990

Last Friday’s post from EJH marked the 43rd anniversary of the sixth game of the Fischer - Petrosian Candidates’ Final. We’re revisiting another 17th October today too, although we don’t have to go quite as far back for this one.

It’s not exactly a coincidence. You play World Championship Chess for a century or more, you’re going to have plenty of examples of two or more important and/or memorable games being played on the same day.

I wonder, though, what the most significant date for chess history is. Has anybody ever worked it out? If not feel free to make a suggestion in the comments box. Or just enjoy Gazza leaving an exchange en prise for ten moves before Anatoly finally bit, if you prefer.

2014 ISE Count: 59
TISE Index

Saturday, October 18, 2014

What Marcel Might Teach You

An exhibition "What Marcel Duchamp Taught Me" has just opened, in which today's "conceptual" artists, reflect, in words and pictures and things, on their debt to Marcel Duchamp. It is at the Fine Arts Society, 148 New Bond Street, W1, and it is on until 5th November - free downloadable catalogue on their website.

A lot of it is good fun, at least I thought so. As for a homage to his chess (not, if the truth be told, a major focus of the artists involved) there's a holographic chess piece, a recycled chess set, a chessic totem pole, and a painting called "Pawn" - which references Marcel's "Nude Descending a Staircase" (according to the press release).

If you do visit, have a go at the interactive headphone installation: it is accessed on the top floor. Stick with it and you, too, will descend a staircase, and you might be surprised where it leads you (clothes optional).

Die-hard Duchampophiles might also fancy hopping over to Paris for a show of his paintings, on until 5 January, at the Pompidou Centre.  

Beware: nudes descending. 
A longer appreciation of these exhibitions may follow in a few weeks time.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Why didn't Petrosian play 3.e3?

The sixth game of Petrosian's 1971 match with Fischer, the Candidates' Final, took place on the seventeenth of October. As Petrosian lost the game and the three that followed, the match is probably best remembered now as the fourth of Fischer's five consecutive crushing victories which began with the procession at the Palma Interzonal became and ended with his trouncing of Spassky in Reykjavík.

Or was that Fisher?

Whoever owns AGON, they can neither spell Fischer nor resist the 600 million nonsense.

It didn't seem like that on the afternoon of 17 October: the scores were equal, Petrosian had the advantage of the White pieces and should have had the advantage on the scoreboard, which stood at 2.5:2.5. Granted, he'd lost the first game, but he'd been winning out of the opening: in the second he annihilated Fischer, bringing to an end a twenty-game winning streak, quite likely the most impressive (though not the longest) in the history of chess.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Clearly not a sacking offence

Private Eye 1377, 17 October 2014, page 6.

[Thanks to Pablo Byrne]

[Ray Keene index]
[Ray Keene plagiarism index]

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Dear Roy and Norris

White to play
P. Barasi v JMGB, Surrey League 14.10.2014

My game from last night. Move six.

I was really hoping White was going to play e2-e4. Not because I thought it was a bad move. Purely because I wanted my next turn to be ... dxe4. When my first six moves

... f5
... g6
... fxg4
... d5
... c6 
... dxe4
would have been pawns going to light squares.

Somewhat to my disappointment Paul actually went 6 Qd2 and only on his next go did he push his e-pawn forward two squares. So I did still get six of seven which is not bad at all, but can anybody do better?

Monday, October 13, 2014

From a Shoebox Under the Bed: Australia

White to play
JMGB v C. Kinsman, Perth Open (6) 31.1.1993

The subject of my Australian Chess Federation rating came up in comments to PUMR? II. My old friend Rob Maris - previously of Dunmow and Chelmsford in Essex, now a resident of Perth WA - let it be known that my ACF rating is a princely 1879. Which doesn’t seem much of a return for the +7 =3 -2 that I scored in two tournaments there in December 1992 and January 1993. That said, pleased as I am to learn of the existence of another rating with which I can be dissatisfied, 20+ years on it may be time to let this one go.

Anyhoo, scrabbling around under my bed I found I still have 9 of my scoresheets from those dozen games, the last of them being against a certain Mr C Kinsman. I remember be rather pleased with my play at the time, although my killjoy computer was none too impressed when I showed it. My theory ran out after 15 moves and HIARCS thinks that the game was effectively decided over the next four. After Black’s 19 ... bxa3,

White to play

the B.I.M thinks I’m just winning rather easily. During the game it seemed obvious to me that my attack was worth the sacrificed piece at the very least, but it certainly didn’t feel that the game was decided at this point.

Five moves later, though, we'd reached the position at the head of today’s blog and I did think that I must be about to win.

White to play

I played 26 Rd4 planning to win the queen after 27 Re8+ and 28 Rc4. Black thumped his king’s rook down on g8 and a moment of panic notwithstanding - I thought that I was going to be the one mated with 28 ... Rg1+ and 29 ... Ra1 - I managed to bring the point home.

A pleasing finish to my down-under chessing I’ve always thought, and yet the engine remains underwhelmed.  My move is only +26. It seems I have two different ways to give up a rook allowing Black to recapture with the bishop. One leads to mate in 5, one to mate in 11.

I’m not sure what the correct term for this sort of thing should be. Implied ISEs, perhaps? And maybe not so much of the I either, since the game ended in my favour a few minutes later anyway. Still even if back then I wouldn’t have cared in the slightest, looking back it does feel like a small missed opportunity not to  have finished the game in a more elegant fashion.

2014 ISE COUNT: 60
TISE Index

Saturday, October 11, 2014

County Counting: 1. Preface

Our various series on the chess history of our locality - here in this corner of south-west London - are getting more and more confused. First we had Streatham Strolls which, after noting the imprint of chess history on SW16, went off piste and south to Rodmel, in Sussex, then east to Brockley in the London Borough of Lewisham. It will go west as well: some time soon. For one episode anyway. Then Brixton Byways wended its tortuous way through SW9 and SW2 before entwining itself with the origins of Streatham Chess Club: south once again to SW16. And there is yet more to come here - in the not too distant future. If we don't get lost.

Now, we will add a third strand to this spaghetti conjunction, with considerable thanks to Martin Cath, long time officer of the Surrey County Chess Association (currently its Curator of Trophies), who has kindly given me access to a pair of remarkable (and in one case, ancient) volumes: the County Match Books - which go back to the very first Surrey county match in 1884. These are so fascinating that I have interrupted normal service to research and post about these wonderful documents.  

Encounters with remarkable books.
(With thanks to the SCCA)
This first episode, in an occasional series, is a kind of preface before we delve deep into their combined eighty-seven years of history.