Saturday, 30 June 2007

Alternative sets

I love stylish chess sets, and am now thinking about an interior design scheme to accomodate a couple of great sets that I discovered on a trawl of the Internet this afternoon.

The first, a Sandstone chess set, 'Nature Does Battle', created by Balinese artist Daniel Wijaya, has the pieces inset onto sandstone pebbles. It's small but exquisite.

Sandstone pebble chess set

The second, the Auto part chess set, 'Rustic Warriors', is part of a series by Mexican artist Armando Ramirez. It's a completely different beast made from recycled car and machinery parts: it boasts a 5.7 inch king and weighs in at over 20lbs.

Autopart chess set

They are both available online from, a store run in conjunction with National Geographic, that sources its products direct from artisans around the globe. They have a large number of different sets and if you hurry are offering a $10 discount to new customers, quote discount code: NOVICA243.

Chess on Second Life

BNP Paribas chess website

My attention was caught by a brief notice this week on Phil Dornbusch's blog about Chess on Second Life.

For those of you who don't know, I suspect most, Second Life is a virtual world on the Internet where people can live, as the name suggests, a second life. You can shop, build a house, start a business, go on holiday, and now it seems even follow chess.

Rosetta Stone Language Software
I talk about Second Life when I speak to businesses about future directions for the Internet, and it usually meets with either guffaws or embarrassed faces in the audience. The potential is interesting though, there are several million members, you can make and lose money (it has it's own 'convertible' currency), some big business have a presence, and, apparently, Sweden is even going to open an embassy on the site.

The chess coverage, if my French is upto scratch, is the final of the French women's team championship and is being relayed online from a 3D reconstruction of the Palais du Luxembourg.

The French Chess Federation (FFE) has sponsorship from the BNP Paribas banking corporation. Their excellent chess website has details of the championship along with other news, and a host of excellently presented material for discovering and learning the game. How many other Federations can boast as clean an interface? All that remains is to learn how to read French!

Friday, 29 June 2007

Ein Gruß aus Dortmund

In the blogosphere: International Master Georgios Souleidis has an on-the-spot report, Ein Gruß aus Dortmund, from the Dortmund chess festival. Check out his notes to a masterly positional crush by Kramnik (Carlsen was the victim in a Catalan) and an interesting ending between Anand and Naijditsch.

Friday chess puzzle 12

Lukin Shirov Chess Daugavpils 1989

Our chess puzzle this week sees Alexei Shirov on the wrong end of a super move. It's from Lukin - Shirov, Daugavpils 1989. White can gain a clear advantage by 1 hg, but instead Lukin played an even stronger move that forces a much greater advantage, can you spot it?

Send your answers to roger AT 21thoughts DOT com. I'll publish the solution on Wednesday.

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Botvinnik's autograph

championship chess Botvinnik

I've just listed an exceptionally rare book on eBay: a first (english) edition of Mikhail Botvinnk's Championship Chess.

It's Botvinnik's first book and he reportedly spent 3 years writing it. It covers the 1941 match-tournament for the championship of the USSR: the 3 years' dedication is evident in the depth of his annotations to the games.

I'd intended to list the copy a while ago; I'd spent a lot on it, but knew its value. However, as I prepared the listing I noticed there was a 'scribble' on one of the inner pages below a dedication to his brother who'd been killed in the Battle of Leningrad.

At first I thought the 'scribble' was a previous owner testing his biro, but then it struck me: maybe my rare book was actually signed by Botvinnik. Thankfully, the Internet quickly gave me the answer, and sure enough my 'scribble' matched the few examples of Botvinnik's signature that are available. My rare book suddenly became exceptional.

As for the tournament itself, Botvinnik won the six player (4 games against each opponent) event from a magnificent field of Keres, Smyslov, Bondarevsky, Boleslavsky and Lilienthal.

championship chess Botvinnik

Here's a sparkling brevity from the 8th round:

I Boleslavsky - A Lilienthal, 12th USSR Ch. Leningrad / Moscow 1941

1 e4 e5; 2 Nf3 d5; 3 Nxe5 Qe7; 4 d4 f6; 5 Nd3 de; 6 Nf4 Qf7; 7 Nd2! Bf5; 8 g4 Bg6; 9 Bc4 Qd7; 10 Qe2 Qxd4; 11 Ne6 Qb6; 12 Nxe4 Nd7; 13 Bf4 Ne5; 14 0-0-0 Bf7; 15 N4g5 fg; 16 Bxe5 Bxe6; 17 Bxc7!! 1-0

World chess

chess tales recent readers

One of the best thing about writing Chess Tales is the feedback I recieve in emails and comments. It's allowed me to correspond and build friendships with an amazing number (and diversity) of people. Chess is a much stronger (and friendlier) bond than I'd appreciated when I began the blog, and as you can see from the graph of recent readers, it stretches right around the world.

About 60% of the readers come from the UK and US / Canada, but Germany and France are growing quickly, and there's always been a strong base in the Netherlands. I'm always excited though when I get a reader from a far flung or unexpected corner of the World.

My day job sees me advising companies about the Internet, web2.0 and how to market effectively. I find myself giving ever increasing references to the chess world! I've also written some international snippets of code for the blog, so, for example you should now see adverts at the top and bottom that are relevant to your country (well if you live in the US, Canada, France or Germany you should).

I've got some interesting posts planned for the next few days including another trip to the 'chess attic', a favourite game, and a great position for Friday's chess puzzle. There's also the story of a Botvinnik autograph that nearly got away.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Friday chess puzzle 11: the solution

Beni Schwarzbach, Vienna 1969, Chess Tales

Last Friday , I asked you to find how Beni (playing White) forced a quick win in his game against Schwarzbach from Vienna 1969.

There are actually 2 winning moves (but both have the same idea): either 1 Qh3!! (as played in the game) or 1 Qh5!!

I like these moves (and also rate them as tough to find) not just because they offer a queen sacrifice, but they are also quiet: they don't make a capture and they don't make any obvious threat to win material. Black, however, has no defence:

Taking the Queen leads to mate:

1 Qh5!! Qxh5 2 Rxg7+ Kh8; 3 Rxf7+ Kg8; 4 Rg7+ Kh8; 5 Rg8 mate.

(taken from "Tactics in the Sicilian" by Gennady Nesis)

A number of you emailed in correct solutions: special mention to Chris Wardle, Andrew, Paul Dargan and Paul Runnacles.

Apologies for the slow posting of the solution, and the lack of material today on the blog: we had a powercut late yesterday evening that knocked my wireless router out of sync. Fortunately, everything is now back up and running.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Kalashnikov in Dortmund

With the Dortmund chess tournament now in full swing, it's a good opportunity to remember a startling Kalashnikov game from the 2003 event. Viktor Bologan, the outsider, was the surprise tournament winner, finishing a full point ahead of Viswanathan Anand and Vladimir Kramnik, but the game we are interested in was played by Teimour Radjabov.

Radjabov, only 16 at the time, had already beaten Garry Kasparov at Linares earlier in the year. At Dortmund, a queen sacrifice in the Kalashnikov added current world no.1 Anand to his list of scalps:

"In the Sveshnikov (what we in England used to call the Pelikan) Black plays 4...Nf6 5.Nc3 and then 5...e5. The Kalashnikov (with 4...e5 and 5...d6) is the Sveshnikov's even brasher younger brother. Black has a horrible pawn structure but plenty of compensatory activity.

Radjabov gave up a pawn to mobilise his centre - as he would - and then when Anand initiated tactics with 21.f4 and 22.Rf2 played the queen sacrifice followed by the gorgeous 22...Nb5! regaining a piece since if eg 23.Bxb5 Bd4++ 24.Kg3 Bf2 mate or 24.Ke2 Rf2 mate.

Anand returned a further exchange to try to get control but the centre pawns rolled. If 33.Qxe4 Rc1+ 34.Kh2 Ne3 35.Qxh4 Black has at least perpetual check with Nf1+. Anand tried to race with his b pawn but came in second." GM Jonathan Speelman, The Independent 2003

Viswanathan Anand v Teimour Radjabov, Dortmund 2003

1.e4 c5; 2.Nf3 Nc6; 3.d4 cxd4; 4.Nxd4 e5; 5.Nb5 d6; 6.c4 Be7; 7.b3 f5; 8.exf5 Bxf5; 9.Bd3 e4; 10.Be2 a6; 11.N5c3 Bf6; 12.0-0 Nge7; 13.a3 0-0; 14.Ra2 Qa5; 15.b4 Qe5; 16.Re1 b5; 17.cxb5 axb5; 18.Bxb5 Nd4; 19.Bf1 d5; 20.Rd2 Be6; 21.f4 Qxf4; 22.Rf2

Anand Radjabov Dortmund Chess 2003

23...Qxf2+; 23.Kxf2 Nb5; 24.Kg1 Nxc3; 25.Nxc3 Bxc3; 26.Bb5 Bxe1; 27.Qxe1 Nf5; 28.Bb2 Rac8; 29.Ba4 Rf7; 30.h3 h5; 31.b5 h4; 32.Be5 d4; 33.b6 e3; 34.Kh2 d3; 35.Qb4 e2; 36.Bc3 Rxc3; 37.Qxc3 Ng3; 38.b7 Rxb7; 39.Qa5 Rb8 0- 1

Monday, 25 June 2007

Active rook

I've talked previously about the value of good endgame technique. One 'rule of thumb' I gave for rook endings is that the active continuation is usually better than the passive. The following ending from round 2 at Hawick graphically illustrates that rule:

chess ending Coathup Hulme Hawick 2007
Roger Coathup - William Hulme, Hawick 2007.

Playing White, I'd given up a pawn in the opening, but received little in return. In this position (with Black to move) I was holding out some hopes of salvaging a draw after 1 ... Nc6; 2 Bb4 Nxb4; 3 ab.

Instead, Black played poorly:

1 ... Rc7?; 2 Bxa5 ba; 3 Rhc1!

And the threat of a back rank mate not only prevents Black from doubling rooks, but also forces him to concede the open file.

3 ... Rxc1; 4 Rxc1 Rb8; 5 Rc7

With an active rook and better king postion, White now has a clear advantage. Black's best try is probably 5 ... h5, stopping the mating threat and also looking to generate counterplay on the kingside by the manouevre Rb8-b2 x h2.

5 ... Kf8; 6 Kc2

Not the immediate 6 Rxa7 because of 6 ... Rb3+, followed by 7 ... Rxa3. I also avoided 6 Kc3, because of 6 ... a4! renewing the threat of ... Rb3 with gain of tempo. Kc2 also has the advantage of denying Black access squares on the b-file to activate his rook.

6 ... Ke7?!

Better is 6 ... a6 denying the White king access to the b5 square.

7 Rxa7 Rb5;

Attempts to go active now with ... Rb1, intending ... Rh1xh2, fail as White's a-pawn will advance too quickly.

8 Kc3 f6; 9 a4 Rd5; 10 Kc4 fe; 11 fe

chess ending Coathup Hulme Hawick 2007

The perfect illustration of the power of an active rook over a passive one. The rook on d5 has no moves, and Black has no good way to prevent Ra7-b7-b5 exchanging into a winning king and pawn ending.

11 ... Kd8; 12 Rb7! d6; 13 ed Rxd6; 14 Rxg7 h5; 15 Rg5 1-0

Recommended endgame reading (Amazon links):
Fundamental Chess Endings: A New One-volume Endgame Encyclopaedia for the 21st Century
Chess Endings: Essential Knowledge (Cadogan Chess & Bridge Books)

This week in the chess blogosphere

chess WGM Natalia Zhukova
A couple of sites to watch this week in the chess blogosphere are Chess Vibes (english and dutch), where the Dortmund Sparkassen festival is being covered in depth, and Chess & Strategy (french), who along with the regular weekly puzzle from WGM Natalia Zhukova (pictured) are running a series of enlightening interviews about chess in Japan.

Rosetta Stone - Fastest way to learn a language.
Dortmund is always a strong event, and this year is no exception. The field of 8 in the top tournament is Viswanathan Anand, Vladimir Kramnik, Magnus Carlsen, Peter Leko, Boris Gelfand, Evgeny Alekseev, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, and Arkadij Naiditsch.

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Bronstein and the King's Indian

Bronstein Botvinnik World Chess Championship 1951

With my eBay auction of a super book, "The World Chess Championship 1951", about to finish, it's a good opportunity to talk again about David Bronstein, who tied that 1951 match with Mikhail Botvinnik.

Full of enthusiasm, Bronstein was a great tactician who played adventurous attacking chess. He had deep views about the game and contributed some of our finest chess literature.

He was responsible for re-introducing the King's Gambit to top level play, but the opening he will always be most associated with is the King's Indian, where he contributed not only tactical, but also a wealth of new positional and strategic ideas.

This game against Pachman from 1946 showed a new way for Black to fight against the fianchetto variation, with Bronstein using a number of tactical shots to realise his goals in first the centre, then the queenside and finally also the kingside of the board (like the dutch football team of the 70's, this is 'total chess'):

Ludek Pachman - David Bronstein, Prague vs. Moscow 1946
(notes abridged from "Tactics in the King's Indian" by Gennady Nesis)

1 d4 Nf6; 2 c4 d6; 3 Nc3 e5; 4 Nf3 Nbd7; 5 g3 g6; 6 Bg2 Bg7; 7 0-0 0-0; 8 b3 Re8; 9 e4 ed; 10 Nxd4 Nc5; 11 Re1

After 11 f3 Black would get an excellent game with 11 ... c6 and 12 ... d5! Also bad is 11 Qc2 because of 11 ... Nfxe4; 12 Nxe4 Nxe4; 13 Bxe4 Bxd4.

11 ... a5; 12 Bb2 a4!; 13 Rc1 c6; 14 Ba1 ab; 15 ab Qb6; 16 h3 Nfd7! 17 Rb1 Nf8; 18 Kh2 h5!

White was planning to strengthen his position in the centre with 19 f4. But Bronstein is alert to his opponent's intentions: after 19 f4 he is ready to start a fight for the initiative on the kingside with 19 ... h4! 20 g4 Nfe6!, when the f-pawn also becomes a weakness.

Now the fireworks begin (RC):

19 Re2 h4!; 20 Rd2

Pachman Bronstein Chess 1946

20 ... Rxa1!; 21 Rxa1 Bxd4; 22 Rxd4 Nxb3; 23 Rxd6

The idea of this strong riposte is that on 23 ... Nxa1 there follows 24 Nd5! and 25 Nf6+. But, once again, Bronstein has foreseen everything.

23 ... Qxf2!

Now it is clear how important it was to advance the pawn to h4. Owing to this pawn it is now not possible to play 24 Qxb3 because of 24 ... hg+ 25 Kh1 Bxh3! 26 Rg1 Bxg2+ 27 Rxg2 Qf1+ 28 Rg1 Qxh3 mate!

24 Ra2 Qxg3+; 25 Kh1 Qxc3; 26 Ra3 Bxh3; 27 Rxb3 Bxg2+; 28 Kxg2 Qxc4; 29 Rd4 Qe6; 30 Rxb7 Ra8!

Black inflicts a blow on the enemy king from the queenside.

31 Qc2 h3+! 0-1

White has no satisfactory defence. On 32 Kg1 there follows 32 ... Qe5! 33 Rd1 Ra3! and then ... Ne6-f4.

Saturday, 23 June 2007

You kan't play like this

My first round nightmare at Hawick: It's hard to believe the first 10 moves in this game were played in an Open!

Lindsay McGregor - Roger Coathup

1 e4 c5; 2 Nf3 e6; 3 d4 cd; 4 Nd4 a6; 5 Bc4?!

You can't play this against the Kan, well leastways you shouldn't be able to. Black will get in Qc7 with gain of tempo.

5 ... Nf6; 6 Qf3?

This now has the feel of someone playing for fool's mate!

6 ... Qc7; 7 Bb3 Nc6?!

7 ... Qe5! wins the e4 pawn for nothing.

8 Be3 Bd6; 9 Nc3 b5?!; 10 0-0-0 Rb8??

Missing White's 13th move.

11 Nc6! dc; 12 Rd6! Qd6; 13 e5 Qe7; 14 ef gf; 15 Qg3 Rb7; 16 Ne4 Rd7; 17 Bc5 1-0

I must have lost a shorter game, but I'm choosing not to remember it!

Reality check

After the success at Hartlepool, Hawick has given me a harsh chess reality check.

I played two poor games in the opening rounds, losing to a well-found combination after just handful of moves in round 1, and then swinging an endgame win in round 2, but only after having a lost position earlier in the game.

In round 3, the game appeared to be going well, and I was looking forward to crowning a strong attacking position, when I suddenly realised there was no good defence to a simple counter-threat by my opponent.

I ended up withdrawing from the tournament, something I haven't done for many years. I'll post some of the games later.

Friday, 22 June 2007

Karpov French miniature

Anatoly Karpov played a sparkling miniature in the penultimate round of the Valjevo tournament.

It's a great example of how to take advantage of a slight slip by Black and dismantle a French Rubinstein (1 e4 e6; 2 d4 d5; 3 Nc3 de) setup.

International Master Georgios Souleidis has written a really instructive analysis of the game on his Entwicklungsvorsprung blog: Karpov kann auch taktisch.

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Friday chess puzzle 11

Beni Schwarzbach, Vienna 1969, Chess Tales

Our latest Friday puzzle is a tough one (I think!). It's a typical Sicilian position, with castling on opposite wings, from Beni vs. Schwarzbach, Vienna 1969.

White sacrificed a rook for a strong attack, but it appears that it has come to an end, and that Black will consolidate and emerge the winner, e.g. 1 Bxg7 Qxg7; 2 Rxg7+ Kxg7 is good for Black.

However, White has a beautiful way to win from this position, can you find it?

Answers to roger AT 21 thoughts DOT com. I'll publish the solution on Wednesday.

(Today's puzzle is taken from "Tactics in the Sicilian" by Gennady Nesis)

Thursday, 21 June 2007

How they used to open

Howard Staunton Chess PlayerStaunton's "The Laws and Practice of Chess" (see eBay listing) is split into three 'books': the first deals with the laws and a guide to playing the game, and the second two books to 19th Century opening theory.

Amazingly, the entire second book (50+ pages) is devoted to the King's Bishop Opening (1 e4 e5; 2 Bc4).

The final book, some 361 pages, covers the theory of all the other openings. Our question for today is to guess how many of those pages are devoted to the King's Gambit:

A) 90 pages
B) 120 pages
C) 150 pages?

I'll post the regular Friday chess puzzle before I leave for Hawick tomorrow.

Hawick chess

Hawick Town Hall Chess

I took the plunge last night and decided to enter the Hawick Chess Congress this weekend. Wish me luck!

Actually, this is a pretty brave decision: I played at Hawick once before and vowed never to go back.

That visit started with what seemed like a great idea at the time, why don't we camp and play chess. If this has ever crossed your mind, my only advice is DON'T.

Our excuse, as Darren and I rushed off to buy our tents was something about saving money on accomodation, but in truth, it was more the call of the wild:
"chess player against the elements"

I can still imagine the dream vividly: kayaking through chilly northern seas, across some remote sea loch, scaling the great mountains via a towering ridge, making a bivouac for the night, and then well fed on bacon butties (from a slaughtered wild pig of course) strolling into town to play swashbuckling chess.

It was with this 'nirvana' in mind that we drove up to Hawick on a Friday afternoon in early summer, pitched our tents between a couple of caravans on a campsite with full facilities, and armed with just ultra-lite portable stoves prepared to face the worst that nature could throw at us.

The chess started well with a win on the Friday night, but Saturday and Sunday were horrors. No sleep (roll-out mat useless), nowhere to get food (the only restaurant we could find was full), poor decision by the arbiter (he told me later he was wrong), and to cap it all no points that I can remember.

This year I won't be camping!

The tournament itself is quite strong for a 'remote' weekend swiss event. I played Steve Mannion, an International Master in round 2 on my visit, and I notice that despite last year's Open field having only 14 competitors, it included a Grandmaster (Colin McNab), 2 International Masters, and a FIDE Master.

As for Hawick, it's one of a string of towns in the Scottish Borders (rolling hills along the border with England) that grew up around the wool & textile trade. It has some impressive buildings, including the Town Hall which is the congress venue, but does have a bit of a forgotten feel.

If I can find accomodation with an Internet connection, I'll keep you updated during the tournament.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Chess fitness

Brooke Siler, Pilates guru and potential chess starI began my training régime today for the British Chess Championships, and if I'm honest, to do something about a 'lifestyle' physique that's starting to say "chess and blogging". I'll be doing some mental preparation as well, but the physical will be perhaps more important, especially as an underdog in what will be a gruelling 11-round event.

I used to be a bit of a 'jock', playing a lot of cricket and football (soccer), belting round the squash court and those sort of things. Even last year, I would think nothing of going for a 5 or 6 mile run (including with a hangover to collect a car left behind the night before). Today though, six months of inactivity hit me: at 2 miles I was struggling; I dragged myself to 3, but then had to resign.

"Kasparov showed to the world the importance of physical fitness to chess players. His training regimen included swimming, playing football and cycling. Truly, his high energy level kept him going." Hinduonnet

There are about 6 weeks until the tournament begins, I'm reckoning that's about 18 runs and a lot of sit-ups and press-ups. I can feel the lung capacity coming back already!

I once thought about Pilates as well and bought a book by Brooke Siler (she's famous for getting a number of Hollywood stars looking sleek), but so much is about correct technique and control that I think it would only really work with a good trainer alongside. So Brooke, if you fancy learning chess in exchange, give me a shout and I'm sure we'll be able to work something out.

Friday chess puzzles 10: Solutions

Last Friday, I asked you to find two elegant finishes played by Richard Réti.

In the first against Dr Max Euwe in Amsterdam in 1920:

Dr Max Euwe vs Richard Réti, Amsterdam Chess 1920

Réti played 1 ... Bh3! either winning the White queen or forcing mate. The game continued:

2 Qxa8 Bc5+; 3 Kh1 Bxg2+; 4 Kxg2 Qg4+; 5 Kf1 Qf3+; 6 Ke1 Qf2 mate

Our second position was the conclusion to Réti's brilliancy prize winning miniature against Efim Bogojuboff at New York 1924:

Richard Réti vs Efim Bogoljuboff, New York Chess 1924

Réti played 1 Be8 and Black resigned.

There is no satisfactory defence against the threat of 2 Qxf8, Even 1 ... h6 leads to immediate mate: 2 Qxf8+ Kh7; 3 Bg6+! Kxg6; 4 Qf5 mate

There were few correct solutions to the puzzles, although Brian Wood did suggest 1 ... Bf5 in the first position, which also leads to a very big advantage for Black.

The game against Bogojuboff is regarded as one of the greatest ever played, here it is in full with notes by Alekhine from the tournament book:

Richard Réti - Efim Bogoljubov, New York 1924

1.Nf3 d5 2.c4 e6

As for the merit of this system of defence, compare the game Reti vs. Yates in the
sixth round.

3.g3 Nf6 4.Bg2 Bd6 5.O-O O-O 6.b3 Re8 7.Bb2 Nbd7 8.d4

To our way of thinking, this is the clear positional refutation of 2...e6, which, by the way, was first played by Capablanca (as Black) against Marshall and is based upon the simple circumstance that Black cannot find a method for the effective development of his Queen's Bishop.

8 ... c6 9.Nbd2

In the game referred to, Capablanca, in a wholly analogous position, played ...Ne4 and likewise obtained an advantage thereby. Of course, Reti's quieter development is also quite good.

9 ... Ne4

If the liberating move of 9...e5, recommended by Rubinstein and others, is really the best here then it furnishes the most striking proof that Black's entire arrangement of his game was faulty. For the simple continuation 10.cxd5 cxd5 11.dxe5 Nxe5 12.Nxe5 Bxe5 13.Bxe5 Rxe5 14.Nc4 Re8 15.Ne3 Be6 16.Qd4, would have given White a direct attack against the isolated Queen's pawn, without permitting the opponent any chances whatsoever. Moreover, the move selected by Bogoljubow leads eventually to a double exchange of Knights, without moving the principal disadvantage of his position.

10.Nxe4 dxe4 11.Ne5 f5

Obviously forced.


The proper strategy. After Black has weakened his position in the center, White forthwith must aim to change the closed game into an open one in order to make as much as possible out of that weakness.

12. ... exf3 13.Bxf3

Not 13.exf3, because the e pawn must be utilized as a battering ram.

13. ... Qc7

Also after 13...Nxe5 14.dxe5 Bc5+ 15.Kg2 Bd7 (after the exchange of Queens, this Bishop could not get out at all) 16.e4, White would have retained a decisive advantage in position.

14.Nxd7 Bxd7 15.e4 e5

Otherwise would follow 16.e5, to be followed by a break by means of d5 or g4. After the text move, however, Black appears to have surmounted the greater part of his early difficulty and it calls for exeptionally fine play on the part of White in order to make the hidden advantages of his position count so rapidly and convincingly.

16.c5 Bf8 17.Qc2

Attacking simultaneously both of Black's center pawns.

17. ... exd4

Black's sphere of action is circumscribed; for instance, 17...fxe4 clearly would not do on account of the two-fold threat against h7 and e5, after 18.Bxe4

18.exf5 Rad8

After 18...Re5 19.Qc4+ Kh8 20.f6, among other lines, would be very strong.


The initial move in an exactly calculated, decisive manouver, the end of which will worthily crown White's model play.

19. ... Re5 20.Bxd4 Rxf5

If 20...Rd5 21.Qc4 Kh8 22.Bg4, with a pawn plus and a superior position.

21.Rxf5 Bxf5 22.Qxf5 Rxd4 23.Rf1 Rd8

Or 23...Qe7 24.Bf7+ Kh8 25.Bd5 Qf6 26.Qc8, etc. Black is left without any

24.Bf7+ Kh8 25.Be8

A sparkling conclusion! Black resigned, for, after 25...Bxc5+, he loses at least the Bishop.
Rightfully, this game was awarded the first brilliancy
prize. 1-0

La question people du mercredi

Can any of you solve Phil Dornbusch's latest name the Grandmaster quiz?

Chess Tales: the essay

It looks like 'DK' will be featuring Chess Tales in one of the essays over on his Chess Improvement blog. I'll let you know when it appears.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Chess listings on eBay

Botvinnik Bronstein World Chess Championship 1951

I've put 3 more books up for auction on eBay, this includes excellent editions of Reuben Fine's "Basic Chess Endings" and Howard Staunton's classic "Laws and Practice of Chess". The star item in the lot though is a very rare first edition of "The World Chess Championship 1951" by William Winter and RG Wade.

The 1951 Championship match was a fluctuating battle between Mikhail Botvinnik and David Bronstein, with some fabulous chess, that ended in a 12-12 tie. There is some speculation that Bronstein threw the penultimate game under orders from the Kremlin not to beat the champion.

Entwicklungsvorsprung: International Master blog

Entwicklungsvorsprung (Development Advantage) is an interesting blog written by International Master Georgios Souleidis.

The blog, written in German, is a mix of stories, photos,opinions and master analysis. Check it out.

Chess photos: another blog

I pulled today's picture of Keres, Botvinnik, Euwe, Reshevsky and Smyslov from one of Sarah Beth's many chess blogs.

It has to be said her blogs are a nightmare to navigate, but she has written a huge amount of material and amalgamated a wonderful collection of chess photos (including the odd and the unusual).

I suggest starting your read at "Sarah's Journal Archive", although some of you might want to jump straight into "Chess - Romance, Love and Sex".

The one thing that seems to be missing from Sarah's sites is information about who she is. I'm guessing she's American, anyone know anymore?

Match chess player with chapter

Keres Smyslov Reshevsky Euwe Botvinnik famous chess players

On Sunday I challenged you to correctly match a set of famous chess players with their profile chapter titles from "The Delights of Chess" by Assiac.

The correct matches are:

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Youthful veteran - Paul Keres
Paradise regained - Mikhail Botvinnik
Warbling world-beater - Vassily Smyslov
Veteran prodigy - Samuel Reshevsky
He conquered a nation for chess - Dr. Max Euwe
Never a dull game - David Bronstein
Genius is never satisfied - Mikhail Tal

Congratulations to Ryan Emmett for getting the most correct answers.

Monday, 18 June 2007

Chess picture challenge: Answer

Dreev Gelfand European Junior Chess Champions

Saturday's chess picture challenge caused some problems. Most of you spotted Boris Gelfand (on the right) without too much problem, but the youngster on the left was harder to identify. It's not Gata Kamsky, as many of you thought, nor Dolmatov or Timoschenko, but is in fact Alexei Dreev, who went on to face Anand in a candidates semi final match, and win strong tournaments such as Dos Hermanas in 2001. He peaked at 2705 in the FIDE list. Gelfand, of course, is still involved in the current candidates series.

Only two of you managed to get Dreev. Congratulations to Philippe Dornbusch who got it straightaway (including the venue!) and to Alberto Alvarez, who got it at the second attempt. Both are esteemed chess bloggers, Philippe writes Chess & Strategy, and Buenos Aires based Alberto is the lead blogger on Solo Ajedrez.

I haven't had many suggestions so far for Sunday's match the chapter with the player puzzle, answers tomorrow.

King's Indian Defence: fashion victim?

Martin Seeber writes for Chess Tales:

I was playing chess in the afternoon with my friend Roger, our top blogger. We even had a nice Czech beer to help the brains work better. Roger's a big fan of the King's indian so by game 3 I played d4 and we were on his battleground. I played g3 and advanced the centre pawns. Roger then announced that he had seen it all before or similar, it was an excellent practice game, first he dominated on the Queenside and then I hit back with a pawn sac. He played really well and I lost. Roger identified the game which was similar, it was Botvinnik vs Tal, once he mentioned it I remembered it too. When I got home I looked at my books, he was right, but of course Tal played it better than Rog! Botvinnik placed his queen on d3 instead of e2 but later it went back. I checked my theory book and it wasn't there- that's seriously out of fashion. I suppose it's not smart to tread a pathway where a world champion got murdered.

I think the King's indian is starting to fade as one of the top openings. I play it myself as black and its because I wanted to follow Fischer and Kasparov, not that I have any chance of playing like them but it's rather that their play has sprinkled magic dust on the board and one battlefield you remember is the King's Indian. Copy some of the moves and its like your recalling the action, remember when you're ten and its football and you are the players, we used to pick them, my friend was Pele and I was Alan Ball and when we scored we'd shout PELEEE!

The openings too complicated for me but who cares. It gives a disadvantage for black, that's okay we all play for fun don't we.

Getting back to my opening remark. None of the top players seem to play it and now Garry has left the world game maybe the young will grow up on slav defences and different Sicilians to the Najdorf. When Kramnik killed Garry Kasparov in the King's Indian could that have been the end of a chapter for the opening?

Then I checked back on famous moments in the opening:

Tal - Fischer, Bobby took a Tal pawn and asked him to prove it, well he did and its one of the best games ever.

Piket- Kasparov with Garry sacking on g3 with the black knight.

Okay its an addiction, maybe I'll leave the Slav alone for another year!


Sunday, 17 June 2007

eBay chess update

A quick update on the eBay listings that ended today:

Réti's Best Games at £21.50 sold for close to expectations, but the buyers picked up excellent bargains with Leningrad '63 going for £3.15 and The Delights of Chess for just £5.50.

Click Here to shop at
I'll be putting three more super books on next week: The World Chess Championship 1951 first edition by Winter and Wade, a 1922 edition of the Laws and Practice of Chess by Howard Staunton, and an immaculate copy of Reuben Fine's Basic Chess Endings.

I'll keep you in the loop.

The Delights of Chess

Chess Grandmaster William Lombardy
The bulk of the book "The Delights of Chess" by Assiac (see eBay listing) is taken up with fascinating written portraits and anecdotes about a number of chess masters. The portraits, written in the late 50's and mainly based on personal encounters, feature expected stars such as Botvinnik, Reshevsky, Gligoric, Tal, Smyslov, and Keres; greats of yester-year including Lasker and Euwe; the upper echelons of English chess such as C.H.O.D. Alexander, Leonard Barden, Harry Golombek and an emerging Jonathan Penrose; a pair of German players (reflecting the author's background) Unizicker and Uhlmann; and a very surprising inclusion, the young American William Lombardy.

As well as being a Grandmaster, William Lombardy was also a catholic priest. He was a fine player, he won the World Junior title in 1958, but is perhaps best known as Fischer's second and the man instrumental for ensuring that Fischer actually turned up for his 1972 World Title match with Spassky in Reykjavik. Lombardy's own account of the events around the match is a fascinating read.

The chapter titles in "The Delights of Chess" are abstract yet descriptive of the subject player. Lombardy's chapter is entitled "Solid young man", not just a reference to his style of play!

Our teaser today is can you match the following seven chapter titles with the correct player?


Youthful veteran
Paradise regained
Warbling world-beater
Veteran prodigy
He conquered a nation for chess
Never a dull game
Genius is never satisfied

Players (jumbled order): David Bronstein, Vassily Smyslov, Samuel Reshevsky, Mikhail Tal, Mikhail Botvinnik, Dr. Max Euwe, Paul Keres

Good luck!

Check out "The Delights of Chess" on eBay.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Chess picture challenge

Lest any of you should be worried that recent articles featuring Anna Matnadze and Almira Skripchenko show Chess Tales adopting a certain sexual bias, let me quickly balance the coverage by showing this photo of two fine young men:

The photo is scanned from the February 1989 edition of Schach Report, and shows them at the European Junior Chess Championships where they tied for first place. They both went on to become Super Grandmasters and compete in the candidates matches. Can you name them?

The first rule of chess club is... nobody talks about chess club

Chess in the attic: February 1989

Deutsche Schach Report February 1989
On my latest trip to the attic, I "discovered" a collection of German chess magazines from a great year I spent in Bavaria after graduating. Bavaria is beautiful, crazy, fantastic and a whole collection of paradoxs, but that's a heap of other stories.

The magazine, Schach Report, is the German equivalent of the British Chess Magazine. It combined two publications, Deutsche Schachblatter and Deutsche Schachzietung. The February 1989 edition contains a host of interesting snippets.

It was Candidates quarter final time, and surprise names had made it into the last 8: Canadian Kevin Spragget who was playing Artur Yusupov in Quebec, Icelander Johan Hjartarson up against Anatoly Karpov in Seattle, and Jonathan Speelman who had already defeated Nigel Short. The final match featured two 'expected names' Lajos Portisch up against Jan Timman in Antwerp.

Actually, Speelman's name shouldn't be too much of a surprise. He was ranked number 4 in the World at the time, and was to qualify for the next Candidate's cycle as well, allowing Nigel Short to extract revenge for this defeat. It was a peak time for English chess, the magazine shows 3 Englishmen in the top 10 in the FIDE list:

Yahoo! Music Unlimited
1 Garry Kasparov 2775
2 Anatoly Karpov 2750
3 Nigel Short 2650
4 Jonathan Speelman 2640
5 Alexander Beliavsky 2640
6 Vassily Ivanchuk 2635
7 Valery Salov 2630
8 Zoltan Ribli 2625
9 Ulf Andersson 2620
10 John Nunn 2620

In the Bundesliga, defending champions Porz, strengthened by the arrival of two American GM's Larry Christiansen and John Federowicz, were putting some pressure on Bayern Munchen (top boards Wolfgang Hubner and Zoltan Ribli) the league leaders. Amazingly Wuppertal, a team that included Grandmasters William Watson and Daniel King languished at the bottom of the second division with no wins.

The strong Groningen tournament had been won by Ian Rogers ahead of favourite John Nunn. The field included two up and coming young players: future FIDE 'World Champion' Alexander Khalifman and French superstar Joel Lautier. Meanwhile in the accompanying open tournament, Tony Miles was making 15 moves out of 38 with his king in this crazy loss to Hergott:

Hergott - Tony Miles, Groningen Open 1988
1. Nf3 d6 2. g3 e5 3. c4 f5 4. Nc3 Nf6 5. d4 e4 6. Nh4 c6 7. f3 exf3 8. exf3 g6 9. Bg5 Bg7 10. Qd2 Kf7 11. O-O-O Re8 12. Bd3 Qb6 13. g4 fxg4 14. fxg4 Bxg4 15. Bxf6 Bxd1 16. Bxg7 Kxg7 17. Nf5+ Kg8 18. Rxd1 Qc7 19. Ne4 Re6 20. Nh6+ Kh8 21. Rf1 Na6 22. Nf7+ Kg8 23. Nf6+ Rxf6 24. Rxf6 Rf8 25. Nh6+ Kg7 26. Rxf8 Kxf8 27. c5 dxc5 28. Bxa6 bxa6 29. dxc5 Ke8 30. Qd6 Qxd6 31. cxd6 Kd7 32. Nf7 h5 33. Ne5+ Kxd6 34. Nxg6 Kc5 35. h4 Kd4 36. Nf4 Ke3 37. Nxh5 Kf2 38. Nf6 Kg1 0-1

Do any of you know Hergott's first name?

And finally, a dispute was brewing up between FIDE and the Grandmasters' Association (GMA) in battle for power at the top of world chess, with Garry Kasparov refusing to play in anymore FIDE tournaments whilst Campomanes remained president. It wouldn't be chess without a FIDE dispute.

Friday, 15 June 2007

Chess in the attic: Leningrad 1963

Mikhail Botvinnik Leonid Stein Leningrad Chess 1963
Viktor Korchnoi was probably the favourite to win the USSR Championship at Leningrad in 1963. He was the defending champion, had performed magnificently a few months previously in Havana, and Leningrad was his home town. His strenuous schedule in 1963, and perhaps the pressure of expectation, took it's toll though, and his wins were punctuated with some morale sapping losses that finally ruled him out of the battle for first place.

Click Here for
Leonid Stein was a somewhat surprise winner, at the time, of the tournament. He finished ahead of not just Korchnoi, but also Spassky, Bronstein, Geller, Taimanov, Polugayevsky and other stars. Stein went on, though, to win 2 more Soviet chess championships and host of strong international tournaments. He remained in the World's top 10 until his untimely death from a heart attack in 1973 (he was just 38 years old).

The tournament book is still available on eBay at a bargain price!

In last Friday's chess puzzle, we looked at quick win by Gligoric with the Black pieces in a Najdorf Poisoned Pawn. At Leningrad 1963, it was Gipslis with White winning a miniature in the line against Korchnoi:

Aivars Gipslis - Viktor Korchnoi, USSR Ch. Leningard 1963
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4
Qb6 8.Qd2 Qxb2 9.Rb1 Qa3 10.f5 Nc6 11.fxe6 fxe6 12.Nxc6 bxc6
13.e5 dxe5 14.Bxf6 gxf6 15.Ne4 Be7 16.Be2 O-O 17.Rb3 Qa4 18.c4
Kh8 19.O-O Ra7 20.Qh6 f5 21.Rg3 Bb4 22.Nf6! 1-0

Gipslis Korchnoi Leningrad 1963 chess

Chess master: Anna Matnadze

International Master Anna Matnadze chess
Chess Tales had some visits today from possibly the longest name in the blogosphere: LAS, Las aventuras de Sarakhatkhan. Of course, I had to check to it out. It turns out the blog belongs to International Master and Women's Grandmaster Anna Matnadze.

Anna's blog is quirky, fun and full of photos. She's the latest in a long line of fabulous women players from Georgia (her rating is about to climb to 2409) but is residing in Barcelona and blogs in Spanish.

I'll work hard on some excuses to feature a lot more of Anna on Chess Tales!

Chess photos

Today I discovered some fascinating old chess photos and incredible videos on a Brazilian chess site, It's definitely worth a visit, even if you don't speak Portuguese.

One photo I came across was Boris Ivkov playing Tigran Petrosian in 1979, we featured their encounter at this event (albeit with colours reversed) in a recent Friday chess puzzle:

Tigran Petrosian Boris Ivkov Chess 1979

The first image that caught my eye though, was this incredible picture of what I guess must have been the Leningrad Boys Chess Team:

Korchnoi Spassky Zak Tolush Lutikov Leningrad Chess Players

Without the captions, it would have made for a great quiz question.

Other highlights on the site include video coverage of Tal, Fischer, Keres and Benko at Zagreb 1959, and amazing footage of Capablanca, Alekhine, Grunfeld and others from the Moscow tournament in 1925!

Friday chess puzzles 10

Today's chess puzzles are both elegant finishes played by Richard Réti.

Réti's Best Games of Chess on eBay

The first is against Dr Max Euwe in Amsterdam in 1920:

Dr Max Euwe vs Richard Réti, Amsterdam Chess 1920

How did Réti, playing Black, force a win from this position?

Our second position is the conclusion to Réti's brilliancy prize winning miniature against Efim Bogojuboff at New York 1924:

Richard Réti vs Efim Bogoljuboff, New York Chess 1924

How did Réti, playing White, finish this masterpiece?

Answers to roger AT 21thoughts DOT com. I'll publish the solutions next Wednesday.


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Chess Tales by Roger Coathup: A collection of online articles about chess and chess players.