Sunday, January 31, 2021

Curious Chess Facts - and a Lesson in General Piece Placement


Chess is a big pastime between takes during movie scenes.

Here are some interesting chess happenings in the past:

·       The shortest tournament game ever played occurred between Gibaud and F. Lazard in the Championship of France. The moves were; 1. d4, Nf6  2. Nd2, e5  3. dxe, Ng4  4. h3, Ne3   White resigns

·       The longest game was played between O. Duras and D. Janowsky in the San Sabastian Tournament in 1911 and consisted of 161 moves.

·       In January 1922, F. J. Marshall played 155 games simultaneously winning 126, drawing 21 and losing only 8 – in only 7 hours and 15 minutes! What was really remarkable was that he could recall the player’s names and the score he had against them in all but 2 games.

·       In the game Tarrasch vs Gottschall in Nuremburg, 1888, Tarrasch kept all of his pawns until the 96th move.

·       In the Bad Kissingen Tournament in 1928, Spielmann won only one game – but it was against Capablanca!

·       In a game played in 1858 between Franz vs Maylt, Franz finished with 2 queens versus his opponent’s none. But he lost.

·       In a match between Richard Reti and Max Euwe, Reti sacrificed two rooks in one game and then the next game, did it again. He won both games!

·       In a match between Schlechter and Tarrasch in Cologne in 1911, Schlechter won game 9 in 106 moves but lost game 10 in 109 moves.

·       In 1929 the US Civil Services in the south of England, played a match on 500 boards.

·       In a cable match between England and the USA in 1900, Bellingham sent his message “Resign” at the exact moment his opponent sent his “Draw?”.

·       In Vienna 1873 in a double round robin tournament, William Steinitz won 16 straight games.

·       At Monte Carlo in 1902, Tchigorin took 144 moves to beat Mason. But in the same tournament he lost to Marshall in 8 moves.

·       Dr. Tarrasch was the only player in the field to oppose F. D. Yates as an entry into the tournament on the grounds he was not a strong enough player. F. D. Yates did in fact win only one game the entire tournament….against Dr. Tarrasch.

·       Besides your humble scribe, Carl Schlechter was considered the player that drew the most tournament and match games in the history of chess. Needing only a draw in the last game of the match to wrestle the World Championship crown away from Dr. Lasker….he lost!

Now for a typical blunder-fest by non-grandmasters. But some lessons are contained within:

The position and material is even after the capture of the bishop on e2.

24. Rxe2          Rc1+?!

A less than worthless check as it wastes a move (a tempo). It drives the White King to a square he wanted to move to anyway - Kf2. Better was 24. ...... Rc5, putting pressure on White's strong center pawns. White takes a move advantage (+.3) of a pawn.

25. Kh2?         .........

Wrong square! Back to even. =

25. ........          Kf8?

A waste of time (another tempo) and allowing 26. Nf3 for nothing, that solidifies White's center advantage (+.8). See how the waste of moves adds up as an advantage for your opponent?

26. exd6?         ........

"To take is a mistake" - an old chess adage. In this case here, its true. White isolates his d and f pawns for no gain at all. Nf3 as a prep move was still correct. The knight is useless where it sits. The position is even = again after the next move.

26. .........          Bxd6

27. Nc4??         .........

Wrong square, as previously mentioned. White had a blind spot against placing that knight on what usually is one of the best squares on the board for a knight. White's position collapses now (-5).

27. ........           Bxf4+

28. g3               Qxd5

29. gxf4            Qh1+

30. Kg3             Rg1+

31. Kf2              Rg2+

32. Ke3              Rg3+

White resigns

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