Sunday, September 16, 2012

Spassky and the KGB

Around 20 years ago, I was lucky enough to have lunch with GM Boris Spassky and several masters. During our visit with him, someone asked about his dual citizenship. Spassky married a woman who worked in the French Embassy, Mlle Marina Stcherbatcheffand, and he was moving to France to live with her. The Russian government made the unusual decision to allow Spassky to hold dual citizenship in the Soviet Union. Several days before he moved out of his apartment, he came home to find his apartment had been broken into and everything was missing. Spassky said they took all of his furniture, everything in his closets, and cabinets, etc. They even knew where his secret hiding place was for his cash and all of it was gone. These were not your typical burglers and the timing could not have been more coincidental. In Russia, if you are a victim of a crime, it is a law that you must go to the KGB to report it. So, the next day when Spassky reported the "break-in", during their questions, they asked him who he thought might have done it , he looked at the KGB agent and said, "Well, you did of course".  The next day was the day Spassky was to leave the country for France. He was out for a walk when two KGB agents approached him and said, "We know that you think that we took all of your possessions but  we would never do such a thing!"  Needless to say, Boris did not believe them. He left for France which is where he lives today with his wife. 


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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Book Review: ENDGAME - Bobby Fischer's Rise and Fall from American's Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness

When Frank Brady writes about Bobby Fischer you know his writing will be detailed, accurate and comprehensive. Frank knew Bobby since they were children. Frank remained Bobby's life long friend, up until the day Bobby Fischer died.

Frank has written a book about Bobby Fischer's life.  The title is...

"ENDGAME: Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall from America's Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness"

The title is long but it encapsulates the scope of this 411 page softcover book. The book is also available in kindle. There are some interesting and rare photos in the middle of the book. An authors note included before the first chapter. All of Frank's references are listed in the back along with a lengthy index. One photo in this book is the last known photo taken of Bobby at the end of his life.

Frank Brady's writing is superb and while I am still reading the book, I feel like I am right there beside Bobby as the book takes the reader through Bobby's life. I can say it was hard to put the book down once I started reading it.

Bobby Fischer was a complicated person and Frank Brady shows immense talent in writing about such an eccentric genius. In doing so, Brady takes us into the mind of Bobby Fischer and helps us understand as much as one can about a chess prodigy who grows up to become World Chess Champion. Many interesting events that occurred during tournaments are detailed. His struggle with the Russian Grandmasters are carefully detailed as well as his rise to the top breaking Russia's chess hegemony.

Also available in Kindle 

As much as I want to share what I have read, I will not spoil it for you. Buy a copy by clicking on the Amazon link above and in doing so you will help support this chess blog.

Don't miss the amazing story on the life of an authentic chess genius and former World Champion. 


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 link. I appreciate your support so I can continue this blog.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Notable Draw at the Istanbul Olympiad - Rd 1

Memorable games are often wins with tactics that dazzle the mind. 

Once in a while a player manages to eek out a draw from a lost position.  

In the round 1 match between Almasi (2713) - Shukuraliev (2360), Shukuraliev was 2 pawns down in a rook endgame and to make matters worse his opponent was rated 337 points higher! 


position after 55. Rc5

Shukuraliev continues with 55...Ke3 threatening ....Rg1 mate. White plays 56. Kf1 Rg4 threatening white's b pawn. White plays 57. Rb5. So, here is the new position.


position after 57. Rb5

White cannot protect the b pawn by 57. b5 for now the black king can draw with perpetual threats to capture the rook by 57... Ke4 and if 58. Rc5 then ...Kd4 and after the Rook goes back to f4 the king repeats the threat to white's rook. At this point the game is a struggle for another 16 moves. Where black continues to harass white with mate threats and attacks against white's rook.

         57. ... Kf3 
58.Rf5+     Ke3 
59.Re5+     Kd4 
60.Rc5       Ke3 
61.Rb5       Kf3 
62.Ke1       Ke3 
63.Kd1       Kd3 
64.Rd5+     Ke4 
65.Rc5       Kd3 
66.Ke1       Ke3 
67.Re5+     Kd4 
68.Rb5       Ke3 
69.Kf1        Kf3 
70.Rf5+      Ke3 
71.Re5+     Kd4 
72.Ra5       Ke3 

Black has proven through various threats, he can keep white from advancing either pawn. Now whether white tries to deviate or simply miscalculates he allows black to draw a different way. 

73.Rc5 Rxb4.

position after 73. ...Rxb4

74.Kg2       Kf4 
75.Kh3       Rb8 
76. g6       Rh8+
77.Kg2      Rg8 
When you cannot win, playing to draw is an important skill to have.


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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The benefit of doing tactical exercises.

I have been doing tactical exercises that concentrated on simple checkmates against the enemies castled king. Recently I won a game where I used one of the mating techniques with a knight and bishop.

As much as the tactical exercises may seem tedious, they do help you recognize patterns in your games. Here is a game I played recently where this relatively simple mate.

Start at the position in the diagram which is after Whites 17th move Bb7+.

17. ... Kg8 ? (why not 17...Kh6) Now I play, 18. Nf6+ Kg7 19. Ng4+ Kg8 and 20. Nh6 mate.

Right now I am going through Laszlo Polgar's book CHESS - 5334 Problems, Combinations and Games. As of this writing, I am on problem no. 594. I do several each day and they have really help my game. There are other good books on tactical exercises that would offer you the same benefit if you do not want to take on the mammoth task of 5334 problems! :() 


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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Paul Morphy's Mate In Two

The position below is one of the few chess problems created by Paul Morphy.
 What Mates In 2


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Monday, May 28, 2012

Have You Won With Philidor's Mate ?

Have you had positions that occur in your games that allow you to make use of moves played by some of the great chess masters of the past. I do. Philidor's Mate is one example that comes up in my games. The first time I saw Philidor's mate, I thought I would never have a possibility to play it against an opponent. But, surprisingly, it has come up a half a dozen times. I am glad I remembered it.

Below is a position in a game I recently played on White just played 30. Qxf7 threatening 31. Nxg5 mate! I looked at the board and recognized I could force Philidors mate. It is actually a smothered mate in this position I can force in 5 moves.

 Position after 30. Qxf7

30. ...  Qxd4 ch

31. Kh1 

31. ...Nf2 ch

32. Kg1

32. ...Nh3 ch

Note that after 32....Nh3 ch, White's King is in double discovered check. The Knight has moved to a square that checks the King, also opening a diagonal from his Queen who also checks the King.
33. Kh1

Now Black makes a Queen sacrifice, forcing the Rook recapture, setting up the smothered mate!

33.... Qg1 ch !!

34. Rxg1

34. Nf2
 Delivering the smothered mate!

I have been surprised how many times this opportunity has come up in a game. 
The first time I saw an example of this mate was playing through Philidor's games. Not having the best memory I still remembered this theme and was able to execute it. It is good to play through the games of the great masters. 


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