Wednesday, March 31, 2021

032921 LCCC Night of Chess a Sucess; And Meet Erich Eliskases

LCCC met again at the Buffalo Wild Wings in Brighton, MI. It was another nice round of over the board chess and great conversation, with 8 players in attendance.

We were graced with the presence of a past member of our club that has moved to the east side of the state and cannot make the commute anymore. He is none other than Jason Morris, an Expert and writer for the Michigan Chess Magazine.

Jason played some games with us and reviewed some grandmaster games with our members. Thanks Jason!

Erich Eliskases (picture on left) is another great chess player you never heard of. He is the only man to represent 3 different countries in the Chess Olympiads (thru no fault of his own – more on that later). He also had tournament victories over the likes of Max Euwe, Jose Capablanca and …..drumroll…Bobby Fischer! His record against all three was (3-3), (2-2) and (1-1) respectively. Impressive.

Born in Innsbruck, Austria in 1913 Erich learned to play chess completely by chance at the age of twelve. And at the age of nineteen, he won a ten-game match against World Championship contender Rudolf Speilmann 5.5 to 4.5, losing the final meaningless game. Eliskases had already won the match winning games 2, 7 and 9 (odd numbered games with Black).

There were discussions of the young Erich to play Alexander Alekhine for the World Chess Championship, but political issues soon got in the way. Go figure. Eliskases did represent Austria in the Chess Olympiads during the early 1930’s.

Young Erich Eliskases saw what was happening in Europe and left for South America in 1939. He did play for Germany in the 1939 Buenos Aires Chess Olympiad. When World War II broke out, Erich decided to stay put.

Erich moved back and forth between Brazil and Argentina, finally becoming a naturalized Argentine citizen and representing his new country in the Chess Olympiads of 1952, 1958, 1960 and 1964. He made his living as a chess instructor.

Eliskases was a strong correspondence player and an endgame wizard. His defeat of Capablanca was in an endgame – and Capablanca is regarded as the best endgame player of all the greats!

Erich Eliskases died in Cordoba, Argentina in 1997 at the age of 83.

Here is game #7 of his match with Rudolf Speilmann, Litz, Austria, January, 1932.

White: Speilmann – Black: Eliskases, Queen’s Gambit Declined; Semi-Slav without Nf6 (D31)

1.     d4          d5

2.     Nf3          e6

3.     c4          c6

4.     Nc3        dxc4

5.     e4          b5

6.     e5          Bb7

7.     Be2        Ne7

8.     Ne4        Nd5

9.     O-O        Nd7

10.  Nfg5       Be7

11.  f4?          g6?!

White’s 11th move is the last “book” move but both Igor3000 (-1) and Stockfish12 (-1.9) say this move is a real stinker. Correct was 11. b3, putting pressure on Black’s queen-side pawns. Black’s reply shows why f4 was playable in those days. Black weakens his king-side (and we assume his castling side) for no reason. Castling was best here (-.6). But as we will see, Black never needs to.

Noted chess author and annotator Fred Reinfeld said, “Spielmann is playing the opening in an aggressive fashion attempting to get an attack at all costs. The manner in which his young opponent defends himself is highly instructive.”

            12, f5 ?!         ………

As was Speilmann’s lifelong chess weakness…..this is too aggressive too soon. Remember pawn advances cannot be retreated if incorrect. 12. Rf3 was best. (-.9).

12.  …….          exf5

13.  e6             fxe6

14.  Nxe6        Qb6

15.  a4?           ........

Fred Reinfeld said of White's #15 move; “This desperate move is the beginning of an extremely ingenious combination……which is defeated by a still finer counter-combination.”

The chess engines see all and have White lost at (-2.6) and suggests instead for White 15. Rxf5, c5 16. Ng7+, Kd8 17. Rf2, cxd4 18. Qxd4 and still losing (-1) but still playable.  Eliskases sees that a4 is wrong also.

       15. ......          fxe4

       16.  a5            Qa6

       17.  Qc2 ?       N7f6 ?  (!)

Another blunder by White (-3.75).  17. Ng7+ was needed. But Black ‘blunders’ back - sort of.

It is interesting here – in this position - to note that this is the type if situation where chess cheats get caught.

Fred Reinfeld was considered one of the very best chess annotators back in the days before chess engines. He gave 17… N7f7 an exclamation point! He states, “The alternative 17. …..c5 would lead to all sorts of complications, whereas the text move forces White’s hand.” 

The only problem is Fred, is that c5 is the real best and crushing move. The computers can wander thru the analysis maze faster and with no emotional strain or drain.

In other words, Eliskases made the ‘human’ move to victory by not muddying the waters (- 1.7) Computers have no such fear at a million moves per second analysis.

18.  Rxf6?        Bxf6

19.  Qxe4         Kf7 !

Reinfeld exclaims, “A remarkable position! Black must lose the Queen, and yet has a won game!” (-3.4) Your humble scribe agrees. The type of position only GMs are not afraid to play.

20.  Nc5          Rae8

21.  Qf3           Rxe2!

22.  Nxa6        Re1+

23.  Kf2          Rhe8!

(-4.5) Reinfeld: “This turns out to be even more powerful than 23. …..Rxc1 24. Rxc1, Bxa6.” (-1.3)

24.  Nc5          Bc8

25.  b4            Kg8

Reinfeld: “This makes the hostile c-pawn very strong, but how else is White able to free his bishop?” (-7.4)

26.  Bb2          R1e3

27.  Qd1          c3

28.  Bc1          c2

29.  Qxc2        Re2+

30.  Qxe2        Bxd4+

31.  Be3          Rxe3

32.  Qf1          Ra3+

White resigns

Friday, March 26, 2021

This Coming Monday at BWW! And Why Chess is Always Facinating

 See you at Buffalo Wild Wings in Brighton this Monday March 29 at 4pm until whenever. The basketball tournament on TV may make us have to abandon our tables if they get too crowded......or we may have to order more bee,, That's!

 Here is a game which shows why chess is the greatest game known to man. No one can make this stuff up!

It was GM Vladimir Kramnik vs GM Mikhail Ulybin in Chalkidiki, Greece in 1992. Here is the position:

   Here are the annotator Rudy Blumenfeld's notes. My notes will be in ( ).

   The White rook at a7 is inside Black's        position and the dark-square bishop has a great diagonal. But there is no coordination between the White pieces. However, things are about to change quickly!

    36. g5 !!

   (When I saw the double !!, I had to have Igor3000 take a look at this to see if Kramink had found a 'computer' move, as he is certainly capable of computer-like chess genius. 

Well, Kramink did not make the best move according to Igor - who studied the position for 15 minutes and going eleven and half moves deep. Igor says 36. Bg2 was best giving White a .89 of a pawn advantage.

Igor then informed me that Kramnik's move was not the second best move......Bh1 was White a .88 pawn advantage. Well where was g5? After all, that move got a 2x ! by the annotator. Granted, maybe Rudy did not use a computer or the computers available to chess writers were not very strong in 1992. But I had to see how far down 'g5' was on Igor's totem pole of best moves.

Well, it was not 3rd as Rb1 gave White a .86 pawn advantage. And meanwhile, Igor has been looking a million moves deep a second for 20 minutes now!

And 'g5' was not the 4th, 5th, 6th or 7th best move either as Rd4, Kf1, Rd5 and Ba1 all put White at a .82 of a pawn advantage.

It was not even 8th as Ke1 still left White with a .81 advantage.

THIS is why chess is the greatest game ever! So many possible moves. All good, all still winning, all perfectly fine for White, and all will send Black on a different mission to find his best reply. You just have to LOVE this game (and it is a gift from above) of chess!

At #9 is 'g5' with only a .79 advantage for White. Kramnik did have a plan for growing his advantage to victory, and it is a very 'human' plan of using the open h-file for his rooks. If only his opponent will blunder just a little, a win is possible. 

And this is all the side with the slight advantage can do, is to keep making solid and forcing moves and wait for your opponent to slip up, even ever so slightly. 

Or, do what I usually do, and toss the advantage out the window and then beg for a draw!)

   36.  .......          hxg5

   37.  hxg5         Nxg5?!

(The first little sidestep by Black. The text move looks obvious to mere mortals, but 37. ....Kg8 was preferable - 38. Rd5, Kf8  39. Bg2, Rc8 and the .79 disadvantage does not grow to +1.01, a full pawn positional advantage.)

   38. Bc6          Rc8

   39. Rh1          Kg8

By threatening mate, White brings the rook along the open file with tempo (a move gainer).

   40. Raa1         Nce6?

(Uh-oh for Black. Again the most natural move as you would want to leave the one Knight in front of your embattled King, but 40. ...Nge6 was better. Now White has a +2 pawn positional advantage. And 40. .....f6 was even worse for Black. Kramnik needs no more help to get this win.)

   41. Rh4 ?!        f6             (41. Rag1 was better, but White still holds a +1.6 advantage)

Now the diagonal c4-g8 has been weakened.

   42. Rg1         Kf7

   43. Bd5         Ke8

   44. Rh8+       Nf8

   45. f4            Nge6

   46. Kf3          f5

   47. Rg6         Nc5

   48. Bxg7       Rf7

   49. Bxf8       Black resigns

Thursday, March 18, 2021

LCCC is Back Playing Chess Live! Stop By! Oh, And Drawing Conclusions

Another successful chess evening at the Buffalo Wild Wings in Brighton, Michigan at the Green Oak Village Place Mall. We started at 4pm and by the 7pm had 8 players involved in 4 games! Not a bad number for our 3rd attempt at starting live chess back up. We concluded around 9pm.

Our opening night brought us 11 players. We had 8 players two weeks ago. And 8 this Monday night.

Our old location is still closed due to COVID concerns, so here we are at the Buffalo Wild Wings. Officially, we are not meeting there. Unofficially, a bunch of chess players are showing up, eating some wings and playing chess at the same time. 

We will try it again on Monday March 29th at 4pm until whenever! Stop on by.

Here part of an article by GM Andrew Soltis, paraphrased by your humble scribe. He is talking about draws - the alleged scourge of chess.

"We want our chess stars to play until it is King vs King, but we often seeing them shaking hands when there are still 30 pieces left on the board. You cannot force someone to play, but you can discourage draws. There have been many attempts at this by tournament organizers.

At Groningen in 1998, each GM was assigned an amount of money equivalent to his rating. For each win, the GM got 10% of your opponent's rating you collected in money and you lost the same 10% of your rating was lost. Good idea? No horrible. Since there was in fact no real prizes per se, there were only 6 win out of 30 games (20% verses the usual 33% to 45%).

Another try was to demand a replay. In a tournament in Paris 1900, the idea was that after a draw, there had to be a replay. The drawn game would not count. Good idea? No. It effectively gave the better player two chances to beat the lesser player.

They tried it again, but with a quarter point being issued to both players, with a replay for the remaining 1/2 point. Though better, it still left the stronger player with an edge and the choice to play for the 1/2 point or basically gentleman draw for the 1/4 point. Now your tournament draw of opponents became a little too relevant in the outcome of a tournament.

The most extreme anti-draw format was used in Paris in 1867. Draws were not replayed, they were ignored! It was like the game never took place! The problem with this became apparent near the end of the tournament, where the best players had to play reckless just to try and earn a win in a drawn position.  Otherwise they might lose too much ground to whoever was leading the tournament. The result was the lower rated players seemed to earn as many points as the better players later in the tournament, as the stars had to 'roll the dice'. [Ed. Note: It could also lead the way to some 'cash for a blunder' type situation. Not good]

What all this suggests is that we cannot abolish draws. But what about abolishing draws by 'agreement'.  The tradition of 'agreement draws' seems to have developed as a way for GM's to save energy in tournaments at different times during the tournament for various reasons.

This was tried in 2005 in the M-Tel super-tournament in Sophia. Draws could not be offered - only claimed due to rules." 

The other 5 rules for a draw in chess - besides agreement - include:

1. 50 - move rule - where no piece has be captured and no pawn has moved for 50 moves,  3 - move repetition,

2. Insufficient material for mate - neither side has enough material to checkmate the opponent.

3. Perpetual check - the king cannot get out of check, but cannot be checkmated either. Sometimes a person will use perpetual check to save a losing position because if he does not keep checking his opponents king, he will lose.

4. Stalemate - this is where the person who's move it is has no legal move but is not in check.

5. Same position or Three move rule - Here is when the same position has occurred in the game 3 times. This usually happens when opponents simply repeat the same moves 3 consecutive times. 

Well, guess which one of these rules did the GM's chose instead of an agreement or making a draw offer? 

Yes, you guessed it. Some pre-arranged signal was given and the GM's simply repeated moves 3 times!

So draws are here to stay. And along with the slowness of play and the difficulty for most to follow a chess game, chess will never be a TV ratings smash.

But this writer does not care. Who needs TV? We already know chess is the best game in the world.

Friday, March 12, 2021

A Chess Player's Life: Ivanov Part II - Beats the World Champion!

 Read about a true 'grinder' in the chess world in the last post - Igor Ivanov. Here is presented one of his best games. Enjoy.

Here is an example of Igor Ivanov’s moments of fame.

[Bracketed notes are from Igor3000]

Regular notes are from Igor Ivanov!

Spartakiad Tournament, Moscow, Russia 1979, Round 1

White: Igor Ivanov

Black: Anatoly Karpov

Sicilian Defense

Annotations by Igor Ivanov

1.       e4            c5

2.       Nf3          e6

3.       d4           cxd4

4.       Nxd4       a6

5.       Nc3          b5

6.       Bd3          Bb7

7.       O-O          Ne7

8.       Kh1          Nbc6

9.       Nxc6        Nxc6

10.   Qg4          h5

11.   Qe2          Ne5

Otherwise after 12. f4 Black will have no compensation for his weakened kingside.

12.   f4             Ng4

13.   Rf3           Qh4

14.   H3            Bc5

15.   Bd2           g6

I was not filled with optimism. I would have been content if Karpov would have given perpetual check (draw). The world champion’s decision is easily understood, but with his next move White completes his development, while the Black King is not safely placed. [last ‘book’ move is #17 for White]

16.   Raf1         Qe7

17.   A3            f5              my last move is preparing for counterplay on the queenside.

18.   Re1          Qf8

This loosens up coordination between Black’s pieces and therefore I decide to play actively. After 18. O-O White would be wise to limit himself to the more modest 19. Ref1.

19.   B4            Bd4

20.   A4            Rc8

21.   Nd1          Qf6

The f2-square is not safely defended, but the White knight does not stand too well. Unclear was 21. …bxc4. [21. ……bxa4 should have been considered 22. c3, Bf6 =]

22.   C3            Ba7

23.   Axb5        axb5

24.   Exf5         gxf5

The bishop on b7 is very strong and in order to initiate successful maneuvers on the queenside, I decided to sacrifice my rook for it. The decision to sacrifice was made much more easily because White doesn’t really have much else to do.

25.   Bxb5          Bxf3

26.   Qxf3          Rc7

27.   C4              Bd4

28.   Qd5           Kd8            [The backward pawn on d7 becomes a target]

29.   Qd6           Nf2+

Also after 29. ….Rg8 30. C5,Qg7 31. Bf1, Nh6 32. Ne3, Nf7 33. Qb6, White has enough compensation for the pawn.

       30.   Nxf2          Bxf2

       31.   Be3           Bxe3                        If 31.  …Bxe1 32. Bb6 with mating threats.

      32.   Rxe3         Qe7           

      33.   Qd2           Ke8?

      34.   Qd4           Rg8??

Black’s troubles grow. I feel that I this position White, without great risk, can attempt to create bigger threats. First a threat, then a double-threat that cannot be neutralized. For the first time in the game, I felt I might win!

35.   Qb6          Qg7            

36.   Qxe6+?    Kd8

I made a mistake! Everyone knows you must keep your composure until the very end, but not many of us actually do. After 36. Rxe6, Kf7 37. Re2  the rook on c7 is out of play and White wins easily.            

37.   Qd5          Ra7

I realized what I had done and felt just awful. But I calmed myself with the thought that my 36th move was payment for his 33rd move.

38.   Rd3           Ra1+??      

If I had played 38. Re1, then 38. ….Ra1 39. Rxa1, Qxa1+ 40. Kh2, Qg7 draws.

After this I have my win! Correct was 38. …..h4 and White can choose between two paths to a draw.

39.   Kh2           Ra2

40.   Bc6           Ra7

41.   Qc5           Rc7

42.   Qb6           Kc8

43.   Qa6+         Black Resigns

Monday, March 1, 2021

A Chess Player’s Life: Igor Ivanov 1947 - 2005

Igor Ivanov passed away November 17, 2005 at the much too early age of 58. Born in St. Petersburg Russia, he found his way to his final home in St. George, Utah.

He learned to play chess from his mother at age 5. At age 8, he was already an accomplished player, attending the Chess Palace daily with the other most promising young Russian talent.

His mother tried to discourage chess and pushed playing the piano on Igor. This may have hindered his future development. He studied mathematics at the University of Leningrad, but soon left to become a professional chess player. His first job was to represent Tajikistan, but stayed only for a year before moving to Uzbekistan to play 1st board for them. It was here that he first gained world attention by defeating reigning World Champion Anatoly Karpov in 1979.

Ivanov went on to win several tournaments throughout the Soviet Union. These results earned him his first trip abroad to play in the Capablanca Memorial in Cuba in 1980. On the return flight home, the plane stopped in Newfoundland, Canada where Ivanov asked for and received political asylum.

The increase in personal freedom was tempered by the lack of economic security. In the USSR, Igor was well off. In the chess barren land of Canada, trying to earn a living with chess was a challenge. Playing in our North America weekend Swiss tournaments was a far cry from the 16 player round robin format back in Europe.

Igor settled in Montreal, learned French and English, and then with home grown Kevin Spraggett, would dominate Canadian chess for the next decade. He represented Canada on first or second board in the 1980’s.

But money still needed to be made, so Spraggett moved to Europe and Igor to the United States. He hit the road across the USA and by 1997 had won 9 US Grand Prix titles (think FedEx Cup for golf) in 11 years! Where you might get 6 points for a tournament win, Igor would rack up close to 500 points every single year! That does not leave many weekends off, and he spent many a week driving cross country.

In the late 1990’s he turned more of his attention to coaching. He was the Grandmaster in Residence at the St. George Chess School and lived in the mountains of southern Utah.

A month after Igor’s death IM John Donaldson wrote a tribute to Ivanov for Chess-Base Magazine. He estimates that Igor played over 7000 games in his career annotating very few and keeping almost none of them.

We will have his victory over Anatoly Karpov in our next article.