Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Chess Every Monday at LCCC - and P. R. Geffe Conclusion

Bogart (left at board) and Woliston-Geffe (not pictured) were California chess regulars
Just a reminder - the LCCC offers chess every Monday night at the Hartland Senior Center. Stop on in 6 - 9 pm.

Philip R. Geffe: A Chess Story - continued - by John S Hilbert and IM John Donaldson, Chess Life, Oct. 2003

After winning the California State Tournament, Woliston (Geffe) as he was know - was invited to play in the first US Chess Championship sponsored by the United States Chess Federation in New York City in 1940.

Prior to the tournament he visited all the local chess watering holes. He managed a draw with Reuben Fine in a casual 10 seconds a move game and lost a close game to Sammy Reshevsky. But the best thing about the trip was meeting back up with his old playing partner and friend Olaf Ulvestad.

Olaf failed to make the tournament in a tie-break scenario of a coin flip - giving the spot to Fred Reinfeld! But the old friends made the most of their time together as Olaf prepared Philip for the upcoming tournament.

But Woliston did not fare well against the bevy of international stars at this tournament. There was Reshevsky, Fine, Kashdan and Denker. After opening with a 2 - 1 result, back to back losses to Steiner and Fine, two draws and two more losses effectively ended his chances.

In the 17th round, Ruben Fine trailed Sammy Reshevesky by a 1/2 point as they sat down to play the final round. In inaccuracy by Fine on his 27th move completely threw away his winning position. It was the only real chance Fine would have in beating his life long nemesis in all the national events they would enter together. Woliston remembered, "When it was over, Fine looked crushed and almost ready to cry."

The attack on Pearl Harbor changed Woliston's fate, as it did so many other people. He enlisted in the Merchant Marines and became a radio officer. Having to use his actual birth certificate to enlist, his official name returned to Philip R. Geffe. Hence, this is why so much of his early chess career was lost for a quarter century or more.

After the war, chess took a back seat to life as Philip married and raised three children. It was not until 1965, twenty five years after his last tournament, did P. R. Geffe return to tournament chess.

Chess too, would come into play in his business life as well. "I went to work for Westinghouse Defense & Space Center in Baltimore, Maryland. My boss and the guy that hired me was Anatole Zverev, a Russian immigrant. We played chess at my employment interview."

Philip started playing again with some regularity and won the Maryland State title in the late 1960's. And in 1970, won the Nevada State Championship.

He is still an active player in California (Ed. Note:vwith a 2200 rating and still living at 96!).

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Philip R. Geffe: A Chess Story

y John S. Hilbert and IM John Donaldson

The first United States Chess Federation sponsored tournament was held in New York and was won by Sammy Reshevsky. There were 17 competitors. The last player living from that tournament - is not even listed on cross-table of the tournament.

Let me explain.

Philip Reinhold Geffe was born on Oct. 22, 1920 in Napa, Cal. He was an only child. His parents moved to Seattle and divorced when he was still an infant. His father was a veteran of WWI, contracted tuberculosis during the war and died when Philip was 9 years old.

Somehow, Philip's last name was changed to his mother's maiden name of 'Woliston' when he started school.

The young Woliston came to chess relatively late in life, learning in Seattle's Franklin High School. "I learned quickly and was playing at the Seattle Chess Club by summer vacation in 1935. His playing strength was hastened by his playing partner and friend Olaf Ulvestad.

Although Olaf was 8 years Philip's senior, they became friends and playing partners. Olaf had already won the Washington State Championship two years running.

Not surprising; the young Woliston's play quickly developed. Philip states, "I moved up the Seattle Chess Club rating board from last to second in 4 months. Actually, they had two boards and I was 5th on the blindfold rankings."

Philip and his mother moved to California in 1936 but not before he played a match with J. Leonard Sheets - the nine time Washington State Champion. Woliston won the match 5 - 3 with one draw.

In 1937 Woliston visited the Exposition Park Chess Club in Los Angeles and won that club's championship with an impressive 14 - 2 score with 4 draws. That summer he finished 3rd in the Southern California Championship. In 1938, he won the Los Angeles City Championship with an impressive 11-0 score.

Woliston then won the California State Championship with a 7 - 1 score. Behind him in order was Harry Borochow, Herman Steiner and 4th was George Koltanowski!. That is how strong the field was.

 To be continued:

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Six Players on a Cold Snowy Night - 031317

Chess study is a lot more fun than school study. But they help each other.
Your humble scribe could not make it due to work commitments, but chess was still available on a cold and unpleasant evening.

Many chess sites like to show the games of Bobby Fischer. I try to go with his fellow world champion - Boris Spassky.

Here is a game where he calmly and with just classic chess play, disassemble a opening novelty by his opponent.

Notes by Andrew Soltis or [Igor 3000].

Team Championships - 1962
Mikenas (Lithuania) - Spassky (Leningrad)
Nimzo-Indian Defense

1. d4         Nf6
2. c4         e6
3. Nc3      Bb4
4. e3         b6
5. Qf3?!    ..........
An odd move played on occasion by Mikenas and Tolush, two players of pronounced originality. Presumably the idea is to bring the Queen too g3.
[Black takes a -.3 of a pawn positional advantage already. 5. Bd2, Bb7 is normal and equal here.]

5. ........       d5
6. Bd3      ...........
This move is too early. White should wait until Black commits his bishop to b7. Better was 6. Nge2, O-O.

6. .......       Ba6!
White never recovers from the loss of initiative that follows this move. The next move is an admission of guilt.

7. Bd2       c5
8. dxc5      Nbd7!
This breaks the counter-pin on Black's d-pawn and secures a lasting attack. Again, 9. Qe2 leaves White poorly placed after 9. .....Ne5.

9. Be2          Bxc4
10. cxb6       O-O
11. Bxc4       .........

White draws the line here. Continuing to eat pawns would leave Spassky with an excellent game - which, by the way, he has anyway.
[Black with a two pawn positional lead (-2).

11. ........        Ne5!
12. Qe2         dxc4
13. Nf3?        Nd3  [-2.5]
14. Kf1         axb6
15. Be1?       Bxc3!
The simplest win for Black is to bring the knight to e4 and invade on the d-file. [-3.3]

16. bxc3        Ne4
17. Nd4         e5?

[Spassky missed 17. ......Qf6 and the future world champion could relax after 18. Kg1, e5 19. Nf3 [-3.7]. Instead, [2.9]].

18. Nc2?         Qf6
19. f3              Rfd8
20. Kg1          Nxe1
21. Nxe1?       Nxc3
The only real alternative was 21. Qxe1 [-3.6 instead of -6].

22. Qxc4        e4!
The threats on the new diagonal are too much and even 23. Kf1 loses to Nd5! Moving the rook loses to Rac8 and anything else drops the exchange to the knight check. So,

23. White resigns

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Nice Night of Casual Chess - 030617

Eleven players were on hand for some chess. We were able to welcome back some players that had not been to the club in a while. It was good to see them again.

The wonder of a chess club is that when life allows and the mood for a game a chess hits, the Club is there like an oasis. Stop by sometime and rest yourself. Stay for a spell.

Now for a puzzle.

Western States Open - 2003 - Slava Mikhailuk versus Thomas Dorsch. 

White to move - and gain a big advantage.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Quiet Night at LCCC - 022717

The cold and blistery weather may have hampered attendance. Your humble scribe had to work OT and could not even be at his favorite location on Monday night.

This game is not a classic, but it does ....indirectly......shows the beauty of chess.

1. d4         f5
2. Bf4       Nf6
3. e3         e6
4. Nf3       d5
5. Be2       Bd6
6. Ne5       O-O
7. Nd2       c5
8. c3          Nc6
9. O-O      Qe8

You cannot see it without a computer, but there has not been a "best move" made yet in this game. Matter of fact, many of the moves were not in the top 3. However, none of the moves were 'bad' and were actually less than (.2) of a pawn from the best move.

This is why chess is such a great game. No two games are ever the same.

White is up (.8) of a pawn, according to Igor3000. As a matter of fact, in this position, there are now 15 possible moves for White that do not destroy his current positional advantage.

However, at this point, Black begins to really drift from the top move list.
10. Ndf3        h6?!
11. Nh4         Bxe5?!
Screaming to be played by Black was 11. .....g4.

12. dxe5        Nd7
13. Bh5         Qd8
14. Ng6         Rf7
15. Qf3         Qc7?
16. Qg3         Nf8
17. Bxh6       gxh6???
18. Ne7+       Kh8
19. Qg8++