Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Recently I mentioned to my friend John Blackstone that in the past year there appeared, at least on the surface, to be a lot of games at these "big tournaments" where if there was a WIN, there was a better than even chance it was by Black. Go back and look at some of the "crime statistics" on ChessBase's daily web site and see if you agree.

John remarked that Fischer, back in the day, was not satisfied with "equalizing" as Black, but going for the gusto from the beginning, i.e., "crossing the line." John, a master originally from California, played Fischer in a simul which managed to make it as a note in Fischer's My 60 Memorable Games.

That was one observation. Another, back in the early 90s or late 80s, I had mentioned in the Chess Gazette that top chess players were really stretching to win a game, no matter how. Opening theory was not dismissed, but was undergoing heavy "re-evaluation." So STUFF was tried. There were experiments. Former "lesser" systems were given second thoughts. Later, when John Watson (another John!) came out with his wildly popular Mastering Chess Strategy, he said the same thing.

This morning another thought occurred ("pattern recognition.") There was commentary on the CB website about another round of draws, but not unexciting ones and this was the second or third round in a row (Tal Memorial) like that. I looked at the picture of Carlsen, that very talented kid from Norway. He's bearing down. But I "sensed" tiredness.

Here's the gist. Last night while reading voraciously the brand new Caissa Editions book Pasadena 1932 which just came out, I noticed that once again those older tournaments had an eclectic mix of players. The winner was Alekhine. But Fred Reinfeld had a draw with AAA. Also in at 5 points was Reuben Fine, but Reinfeld had beaten him! Isaac Kashdan finished second and then there was a bunching: Reshevsky, Arthur Dake, and Herman Steiner. Dake in his game with Alekhine, won, and with certainty. On the other hand there were lesser lights such as Harry Borochow, A.J. Fink (finished last but beat Steiner), J.J. Araiza, Sam Factor (brother of the cosmetics magnate Max Factor), and Jacob Bernstein. The notes are great fun to read.

The real point is: DIVERSITY. When you have all that power at the Tal Memorial or any other big event like that, it truly turns out to be a mental endurance contest. There is no rest for the wicked OR the pure. Imagine, you are a top cat and in your room the night before your brain is saying "Oh who do I play tomorrow? Oh no, not him. I need a break, I am tired. I've just got to make sure I don't lose." Losing for these guys is a Major Suck (look at Fischer, his attitude was the same). It doesn't mean they don't lose and it doesn't mean they won't recover, but every day it is the same old same old. The occasional one day breaks don't help and nowadays games are played to the finish. It is obsessively relentlessly mind crunching and spirit draining.

If promoters want a little more winning action they should "dot" the scene with a few players who aren't the very cream of the crop. They will surprise you from time to time and they will be given a chance to compete. And naturally, some will want to prove themselves as Capablanca (Pillsbury, and others) did. The Big Boys get a chance to beat up on the mere 2600s and the "mere" 2600s get a chance to play the Big Boys. And we all know that saying, "Stuff happens."

By the way the Pasadena 1932 book is available now (errata sheet coming next week) and it's $44 but KNOW this, as good as the book is, and with the help of all kinds of contributors (and in hardcover), NM Bruce Monson added a chapter on Ladies chess and the parallel tournament (and another parallel tournament). What was so special about that? Two people: LaVieve Hines and Gabrielle Andrieux. Hines, hands down, was a MAN killer in the sense she had beaten many of the best (and fended off advances from men). She played Alekhine and lost in a simul. The second time her game was much better, but she did lose again. The third time, she was offered a draw by Alekhine who "smelled" eternal success was not going to happen. There was even a non amorous photo of the two of them and he spent some time at her "estate" and her mom's. He gave her opening tips and ideas in her further quests and she was punching men out all over the place and gave NO thought to the "women are inferior at chess compared to men" line. She "rebuffed" the advances of Clif Sherwood, who later became a writer on chess for the LA Times! But old Cliffie boy went after Gabrielle and when that didn't work out, he murdered her! (Norman Whitaker wasn't the only bad guy.)

The whole book is totally satisfactory, well done, and as mentioned in the first paragraph, John Blackstone also contributed to this one by finding some lost games of this event as Johnny had lived in LA for years. In fact John is a chess games' database sleuth and we expect to have more game databases from him in the near future. He and I are working on one right now. He did the recent one of Hermann Helms games column for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. That CD is temporarily reduced in price to $27.96 (regularly $34.95). Shipping is $3.50 in US.

Last night I sent out my new openings catalog for 2011 and my bulk emailing program kept stopping leaving 93 senders unsent! My guess is, I approached the limit for this month (and people say using the internet is free (!?)). So if you didn't get the catalog last night or this morning, please let me know and I will get one to you via the non-bulk sending. There are a number of new things in it and some cool Discounts you won't want to miss. I am already hearing from people.

While I am taking Thursday off (imagine that) my shop at 1101 W. 4th St. in Davenport will be open and I will have a lot of chess sets on display and for sale from 11 a.m. through 3 p.m. I have not done this in years. A good time to get your Christmas shopping done. Little stuff, big stuff. Cheap and expensive.

1 comment:

  1. The latest catalogue was excellent! Your personal notes makes it so much better than all the other information available.