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Friday, September 22, 2017

Saint Susan On Chicken Chess


    While visiting  Susan Polgar's site I saw a post where she asked the question, “Why are draw offers allowed in chess? Only stalemate, 3-fold repetition, perpetual checks, and no mating materials can result in a draw.” and commented, “...why not eliminate draw offer, period? There should be no arbitrary 30-40-50 move no draw offer rule. Just get rid of this option!...You cannot stop chicken chess. You can only hope to contain it.”

     Prohibitions against short draws have never worked. According to chess historian Anne Sunnucks until 1867 tournament games that were drawn were replayed. The Paris tournament of 1867 had so many drawn games to be replayed that it caused organizational problems. In 1868 the British Chess Association decided to award each player half a point instead of replaying the game.
     In 1929 the first edition of the FIDE laws of chess required thirty moves to be played before a draw by agreement, but the rule was discarded when the rules were revised in 1952. In 1954 FIDE rejected a request to reinstate the rule, but it did state that it is unethical and unsportsmanlike to agree to a draw before a serious contest had begun. FIDE stated that the director should discipline players who repeatedly disrespect this guideline, but it was largely ignored.
     Chess trainer Mark Dvoretsky, writing in a column for the Chess Cafe website, suggested that agreed draws should not be allowed at all, pointing out that such an agreement cannot be reached in other sports. Dvoretsky says that compelling players to carry on in “dead” positions is a small problem, adding that the effort required to play out these positions until a draw can be claimed by repetition or lack of material, for example, is minimal.
     In 1962 FIDE reinstated a rule against draws by agreement in fewer than thirty moves, with the director allowing them in exceptional circumstances. FIDE had the intention of enforcing the rule and the penalty was a loss of the game by both players. However, players ignored it or got around it by intentional threefold repetition. Directors were unable or unwilling to enforce the rule.
     In 1963 FIDE made another attempt ruling that draws by agreement before thirty moves were forbidden. The penalty was forfeit by both players. Directors had to investigate draws by repetition to make sure the players weren't just circumventing the rule. The rule was dropped in 1964 because when it didn't work as expected.
     In 2003, GM Maurice Ashley proposed that draw offers not be allowed before move 50. That same year, an international tournament in New York City had a rule that draws could not be agreed to before move fifty, but draws by threefold repetition or stalemate, were permissible any time. Players agreeing to premature draws were to be fined 10 percent of their appearance fee and 10 percent of any prize money they won
     The Sofia 2005 tournament employed a similar rule, which has become known as "Sofia rules". The players could not draw by agreement, but they could draw by stalemate, threefold repetition, the fifty-move rule, and insufficient material. Other draws are only allowed if the arbiter declares it is a drawn position. Anti-draw measure was adopted in the Bilbao Final Masters and the FIDE Grand Prix 2008-2010 which did not allow players to offer a draw. The draw had to be claimed with the arbiter, who was assisted by an experienced GM. The following draws were only allowed through the Chief Arbiter: threefold repetition of position, fifty-move rule, perpetual check and a theoretical draw.
     In 2016 the World Championship match between Magnus Carlsen and challenger Sergey Karjakin they could not draw a game by agreement before black's 30th move, but they could claim a draw by threefold repetition.
     There have been various proposals to change the scoring system so that a win is worth more than two draws, but they have not been accepted.  Back in 2005 John Nunn wrote that he believed the rules did not need to change...the simple solution was for organizers to not invite players known for taking short draws. 
       But what of Susan Polgar? I looked on chess.com for her games and out of the 982 games, 408 were drawn and they included some of these masterpieces: a draw in 11 moves against Dimitry London in the Manhattan CC Championship, 16 moves against Milan Nrdja at Baden-Baden, a 12-move draw against Humberto Pecorelli Garcia in Trenciaanske Teplice, a 9-mover against Nigel Davies at Wijk aan Zee, 14 moves against Smyslov at Copenhagen and 10 moves against Peter Szekely in the 1987 Hungarian Championship...and so on.
     So why is she complaining about short draws? The answer, I guess, is the one provided by Dr. Milan Vidmar when he complained of players making quick draws and was reminded that he also used to be guilty of the same thing. His response: "All saints were sinners in their youth!”

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Aborted Karpov-Kasparov Match of 1984

    Between June and October 1834 La Bourdonnais and McDonnell played a series of six matches, a total of eighty-five games, at the Westminster Chess Club in London. It was the first match of importance and is sometimes referred to today as the World Championship of 1834. The overall score was 45 wins to La Bourdonnais, 27 wins to McDonnell, and 13 draws.
     The second longest match is history was the 1984 match between challenger Garry Kasparov and defending champion Anatoly Karpov in Moscow from September 10, 1984 to February 15, 1985. After 5 months and 48 games, the match was abandoned in a controversial way with Karpov leading five wins to three with 40 draws. It was one of the most frustrating, boring and controversial matches in history.
     It was a record-setting match in many ways and none of them positive: Most games in a modern match (48), most draws (40), most short draws (23), most consecutive draws (17), second most consecutive draws (14), most moves (1,647), most days (159), most “technical timeouts”, greatest weight loss by one of the players and, of course, most cancellations (1).
     Karpov started in good form and after nine games Kasparov was down 4–0 in a first to six wins match. The experts were predicting that Kasparov wouldn't win a single game. But then came 17 consecutive draws!
     Karpov won game 27, then came another series of draws until game 32 and Kaspaov finally scored his first-ever win against Karpov. Another 14 draws followed, through game 46. The previous record length for a world title match had been 34 games, the 1927 match between José Capablanca and Alexander Alekhine. Then things started to change; Kasparov won games 47 and 48, making the score 5–3 in favor of Karpov and suddenly it looked like it may be a match after all. But then things took a weird turn.
     The match was ended without result amid great controversy by FIDE President Florencio Campomanes and a new match was announced to start a few months later. Both players stated that they preferred the match to continue, but at a press conference Campomanes cited the health of the players, which had been strained by the five month match, was his concern. Thus this match became the first world championship match to be abandoned without result.
     Karpov had lost 22 pounds over the course of the match, but Kasparov was in excellent health and extremely resentful of Campomanes' decision, asking him why he was abandoning the match if both players wanted to continue. Kasparov, who had won the last two games, felt he was now the favorite to despite his 5-3 deficit. He appeared to be physically stronger than his opponent and in the later games seemed to have been playing the better chess.
     At the press conference where he announced the termination of the match Campomanes stated that he had not known what he intended to do. Or, did he? Later, he was picked up on tape telling Karpov, who by this time had a withered neck and bulging eyes, “I told them exactly what you told me to tell them.”
     The restarted match in 1985 was best of 24, with Karpov to retain his title if the match was tied 12–12. Karpov was also granted the right of a return match in 1986 if he lost.
     Not all the games were tedious draws. Sharp struggles beginning with game 36 rekindled interest in the match. Before this game (number 41) Karpov took a timeout on Friday, January 11, 1985 in order to use the three days to prepare his sixth, and final, win. It didn't happen.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Keres and Reshevsky Scuffle in Moscow

     The 1948 World Championship was a quintuple round-robin to determine the World Champion following the death of Alekhine in 1946. The tournament was played in The Hague from March 2–25 and then moved to Moscow April 11 to May 17. It marked the passing of control of the championship title to FIDE and the beginning of an era of Soviet domination.
     Before the tournament, Botvinnik was considered the favorite because of his victory at Groningen 1946 and his pre-war results. Keres and Reshevsky were veterans of international competition. Although Euwe was the former world champion, he had played poorly since Groningen. Smyslov was not well known in the West, as he had only appeared in two international competitions: a third-place finish at Groningen and shared second at Warsaw 1947.
     The event was not without controversy. Keres lost his first four games against Botvinnik and suspicions were raised that Keres was forced to throw games to Botvinnik. Some historians have concluded that Soviet officials gave Keres strong hints that he should not hinder Botvinnik's chances and that as a result, Keres threw his games. But, the argument goes both ways. Yuri Averbakh said Keres was less tough mentally than his rivals. Also, I seem to remember reading an interview with Reshevsky in which he commented that Keres simply was not strong enough to defeat Botvinnik. Keres reportedly told Bent Larsen in private that he lost fair and square to Botvinnik. How to pronounce Keres.
     The Soviets brought a large contingent of about twenty-one including the players Botvinnik, Keres, and Smyslov; their seconds Viacheslav Ragozin, Alexander Tolush, and Vladimir Alatortsev respectively; correspondents Igor Bondarevsky, Salo Flohr, and Andor Lilienthal; member of the adjudication committee Alexander Kotov; leader of the group Postnikov; a private doctor from Moscow; and Botvinnik's wife and young daughter. Reshevsky came by himself and Lodewijk Prins was obtained at the last moment to be his second. Theo van Scheltinga served as Euwe's second.
     There was no such thing as a rating list in those days, but Chessmetrics lists the top ten active players on January 31, 1948 as being Botvinnik (2831), Najdorf (2795), Keres (2760), Stahlberg (2760), Boleslavaky (2739), Smyslov (2732), Euwe (2730), Bronstein (2721), Kotov (2715) and Eliskases (2713). Where was Reshevsky? He was number 11 at 2696.

1) Mikhail Botvinnik 14.0-6.0
2) Vasily Smyslov 11.0-9.0
3-4) Paul Keres and Samuel Reshevsky 10.5-9.5
5) Dr. Max Euwe 4.0-16.0

     The following game was played in the fourth lap when Botvinnik had a whopping 2.5 point lead and about the only way he was not going to win the tournament was if he collapsed which was unlikely. Neither Keres nor Reshevsky were able to improve their chances and, in fact, Keres went into a tailspin when he scored only one win and four losses. Reshevsky had a plus score, but it didn't mean much since he lost a crucial game to Botvinnik.
     The final (5th) lap was anti-climactic and in his final game Botvinnik only needed a draw to clinch first place so he played 14 moves against Euwe and then split the point.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Comrad Kandel

     The House Un-American Activities Committee conducted numerous investigations during 1951. They had concentrated on two major probes, the Communist infiltration in Hollywood and the Red foothold in defense plant areas, especially those in the Baltimore, Maryland and Boston, Massachusetts areas. Other probes concerned Communist activities in Hawaii, the Communist Party's National Farm Commission and the Sorge spy ring. Initial witnesses, union officials from the Baltimore area, refused to state whether they were Communists and declared the Committee's questions were designed to embarrass their unions. They also refused to answer many other questions and cited their rights against self-incrimination.
      The Committee was at it again in 1957 and 1958. The April 18, 1958 edition of the Jewish Post in Indianapolis, Indiana carried a brief story stating that Maryland chess whiz Irving Kandel, accused by the House Un-American Activities Committee of being a Communist ringleader in Maryland, was the center of a controversy in the Maryland Chess Federation over whether he should be allowed to continue as a member...Spokesmen for two state clubs said their groups would drop out of the federation rather than play games against Kandel.  Kandel, a 44-year-old member of the Maryland Chess Federation, was described by investigators for a House Un-American Activities sub-committee as one of the ringleaders of the communist conspiracy in Maryland.
      In 1957 Kandel appeared before the Committee where he was identified as head of District 4 and he also invoked the fifth amendment concerning his present or past leadership of District 4.  While on the witness stand he stonewalled the committee and refused to answer most questions, as was his fifth amendment right. 
      When one witness was asked, “Did Comrade Kandel take over on the issue of desanctification of Stalin?” the reply was, “I believe his name has just now entered the discussion. Kandel, I might point out, was introduced to me as the head of the party in the State of Maryland.”

Q: “What was the statement, what were the statements he made with reference to the desanctification of Stalin?”
A: “Well, Comrade Kandel only met with our club twice. The second time he met with our club he discussed the Khrushchev report. And the general tenor of his remarks were-and he followed the article in a current issue of Political Affairs that dealt with that. He followed the article fairly closely, but the general tenor of his remarks was that it would be a good thing, that he felt that the party would benefit by this criticism, and it would open up new opportunities for the party to strengthen itself….and that would result would have a beneficial effect. That was the general tone of his remarks on that.”

Q: “What did Kandel say, if you recall, with reference to the Khrushchev speech?”
A: “Well, Kandel lauded that speech. He felt that the substance of that speech was sound and that we should study it carefully and be guided by it. Now, there are other things which show the relationship there with the international Communist conspiracy. One is the fact that the comrades are so elated, so elated over Communist successes in other countries.”

      Another witness, when asked, “Who is Irving Kandel? Do you know him?” conferred with his lawyer and refused to answer. Additional witnesses were asked questions about Kandel.

Q: “What type of meetings were these that you held with these two people?”
A: “Underground meetings.”

Q: “What gave you the impression that they were underground meetings?”.
A: “When Kandel came to the first meeting, he did not give the name; but I recognized him, I had met him before I had joined the party. He said he is not living at home; he is living under a different name, and this is necessary to keep the party from being decapitated.”

     Later Kandel himself appeared before the committee for questioning.

Q: “Kindly identify yourself by name, residence, and occupation.”
A: “I believe, as close as I can figure, that those are three separate questions. I wonder if you would be good enough, to avoid possible confusion, to give your questions one at a time.”

Q: “Before you do that, do you know the gentleman who is standing here at the clerk's desk signing the voucher?”
A: “Now, which one of these questions do you want me to answer first?

Q: “The first question has been withdrawn. You have been asked if you know the man who was signing this paper. Do you know him?”
A; “There is no man there.”

Q: “There he is. Turn around, you will see.”
A: “Just a moment, now. I assume, Congressman Walter, that your command turn around is your way of asking a question.”

Q: “It is not any command. I just thought I would refresh your recollection or assist you because the man was standing here and moved.”

      Kandel was then asked gain to identify himself by name, residence, and occupation and he again conferred with his lawyer. He was the directed by the Cahirman to answer the question, which he did. Kandel stated, “My name is Irving Knndel. I live in the nine hundred block, Brooks Lane. Now, you ask me my occupation. I wonder what relevancy this question has to the ostensible purpose of this committee.” To that the Chairman replied, “Answer the question.” Kandel stated, “I refuse to answer the question because I believe this question violates my rights under the first amendment, and further, I claim my privilege under the fifth amendment not to be a witness
against myself.”

After further discussion questioning continued…

Q: “You work at the Fisher Brush Machinery Co. in Baltimore, do you not?”
A: “I have already refused to answer a question of that kind. I still refuse to answer that question.”

Q: “I put it to you as a fact that you work at the Fisher Brush Machinery Co. in Baltimore, and I ask you now to confirm or deny that fact.”
A:” I refuse to answer that question on the same ground.”

Q: “Do you honestly apprehend that, if you told this committee truthfully while you are under oath whether or not you worked at Fisher Brush Machinery Co. in Baltimore, you would be supplying information which could be used against you in a criminal proceeding?”
A: “It might.”

And so it went with Kandel reusing to answer any questions. When asked if he had every used any other name, he again refused to answer. Specifically, he was asked if he had ever used the name Henry Foss and, again, he refused to answer.

Q: “Are you a member of a labor organization?”
A: “I don't know what connection this question has with the ostensible purpose of this committee. I don't know what legislation would be forthcoming. If I belonged, or do not belong, to any organization.”

When directed to answer the question, he refused.

Q: “Where and when were you born?”
A: “In the United States in 1912.”

Q: “What State?”
A: “New York.”

Q: “Give us a word about your education.”
A: “In a word?”

Q: “As many words as you need.”
A: “I will be glad to. I started out by going to grammar school, graduated, proceeded from there to junior high school. I went through junior high school. It may well be that after that I took one or two additional courses, but I can't remember exactly the consequences.”

Q: “Did you take the courses? We are not concerned with the consequences. We are merely asking you whether or not you took the courses.”
A: “The consequences I referred to, do with successfully completing the course.”

Q: “When did you last engage in your formal study?”
A: “Well, a man should never stop studying.”

Q: “Kindly tell us when it was you last were engaged in formal study in an institution.
A: “I assume by that you mean a school of some kind?”

Q: “Yes.”
A: “Well, it might be in 1943.”

Q: “What school was that, please, sir?”
A: “I believe it was a Navy school. As I remember, it was a school run by the man by the name of Henry Ford for his company and utilized by the United States Navy.”

Q: “Were you then a member of the United States Navy?”
A: “I was enlisted. I was recruited, drafted.”

Q: “Tell us, please, sir, the period of your service in the Navy?”
A: “To the best of my knowledge and belief, it was sometime during the war, 1943, 1944, 1945 perhaps.”

Q: 'Where did you serve in the Navy?”
A: “I served wherever they sent me.”

Q: “Where did they send you?”
A: “They first sent me to boot camp. As I remember, this place was in the neighborhood of Sampson, New York…If my memory does not fail me, I believe I went from there by way of Canada to Dearborn, Michigan; and from that point, to the best of my knowledge and belief, I was transferred to Norfolk, Virginia, I believe it is and from there to San Francisco. From there to the Eniwetok group. Well, that was in the Pacific, and it is hard to say when you are in the Pacific exactly where you are.”

Q: “Was all of the period of your active service aboard vessels in the Pacific?”
A: “Well, my whole period of service was active.”

Q: 'Was your entire period of service aboard vessels in the Pacific?”
A: “No.”

Q: “Tell us then where else you served.”
A: “If I remember the name of the place. I believe it was called Tokyo Bay.”

Q: “Was the entire period of your service aboard vessels in the Navy in the Pacific area?”
A: “What area do you have in mind when you say Pacific area?”

Q: 'Did you serve in the Atlantic?”
A: “No.”

Q: “Thank you, sir. Did you receive a commission in the Navy?”
A: “To do what?”

Q “A commission as a commissioned officer.”
A: “I was an officer. I was a non-commissioned officer.”

Q: “What was your rank? The questions was then corrected by the committee chairman that the correct term was rating, not rank and the Chairman added that they wanted to keep the record absolutely accurate. Kandels' reply was, “Splendid idea. Accuracy in this committee would be a welcome event. I was a machinist mate, repair, third class.”

Q: “And to complete the picture and to be accurate about it all, were you a member of the Communist Party while you were in the Navy?”
A: “I refuse to answer that question on the grounds previously stated.”

Q: “Did you receive an honorable discharge from the Navy?”
A: “Yes.”

Q: “When was that, please, sir?”
A: “At the end of my service.”

Q: “What year was that?”
A: “To the best of my recollection, it was around that period of 1946, perhaps.”

Q: “What was your first principal employment after the discharge which you received from the Navy during this period around 1946?”
A: “I refuse to answer that question on the grounds previously stated.”

Q: “And how long did that employment last?”
A: “To what employment do you make reference?”

Q: “The employment that you had immediately after your discharge from the Navy.”
A: “Have you established that I have employment?” When directed to answer the question, Kandel refused.

      Upon further questioning about his employment, Kandel was directed to answer the question, but he could do so without disclosing any information which could be used against him in a criminal proceeding. He claimed he did not understand the question. When it was rephrased, Kandel claimed he didn't see any sense in repeating the same question that he didn't understand in the first place. Several more questions were asked concerning his employment which he also refused to answer.

Q: “...I will endeavor to, with one simple little question: Have you ever done anything since you were discharged from the Navy except work for the Communist Party?”
A: “That is about the simplest question I have heard in a long time.” (Kandel conferred with his counsel) “You see, there is a premise in your question, simple though it may be. The premise is that I worked for the Communist Party.”

Q: “Well, have you?”
A: “Now, you are asking that as a question, have I worked for the Communist Party?”

Q: “Yes.”
A: “I refuse to answer that question on the grounds previously stated.”

      Kandel was then showed a copy of the Communist New York Daily Worker, Monday, November 1, 1948, "The Heroes of Yesterday Speak Up Today!" World War II veterans demand dismissal of indictments of the Smith Act defendants. It was a letter addressed to the then President and the Attorney General of the United States urging the dismissal of the indictments against 12 Communist leaders.
      It was pointed out to Kandel that on the letter was a list of names of persons who sent the letter, including the name of Irving Kandel and he was asked to verify the authenticity of that document and to certify the participation by himself. After conferring with his lawyer and some hemming and hawing, Kandel refused to answer. Additionally, he refused to answer if he was a member of any labor organizations and where he had lived prior to his current address.  Eventually he did state his previous address where he had lived for about 18 months. He refused to answer questions about where he had lived in 1952 and 1953.
      When it was put to Kandel that during 1952 and 1953, in an underground operation of the Communist conspiracy, he lived at a particular address under the alias of Henry Ross, Kandel's reply was, “You say you state that as a fact? Do you have some supporting evidence?”

     Questioning the was concerned about any tutoring or acting as an instructor in any kind of classes. Kandel stated that the question was so broad and general that it was almost impossible to answer, adding, “A casual conversation might be considered by some as a class, or any kind of conversation might be considered tutoring.” Asked point blank if he ever taught in a Communist school, he refused to answer.

Q: “Did you succeed George Meyers as head of the Communist Party in District 4 while Meyers was in the penitentiary?”
A: “It seems to me that that is a loaded question. You contain in it a statement, a number of premises which have not been established to my knowledge.” He was ordered to answer the question and refused. He was then excused. No charges were ever brought against Kandle.

      Irving Kandel (1914-1993) was a machinist by trade. He died December 21, 1993 of leukemia at a hospital in Westminster, Colorado. The 80-year-old Northwest Baltimore resident had been retired for 15 years after working for many years for the Maryland Cup Company. A native of New York City who came to Baltimore as a young man, he served in the Navy during World War II. Kandel was a tournament bridge player as well as a chess player who won Maryland and New York City championships in the 1950s and 1960s. At his request, no burial services were conducted.
      Kandel learned to play chess from his grandfather and was a member of the 1929 CCNY chess team. After being away from chess for many years he returned to win the Maryland State Cahmpionship in 1956, 57 and 58. He was also an accomplished postal player who won or tied for first in the CCLA's Grand Nationals a record setting eight times.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Roy T. Black

    Judge Roy T. Black (February 14, 1888 - July 27, 1962, 74 years old) was born in Brooklyn New York. He won the championship of Brooklyn seven times (1909, 1910, 1911, 1914, 1915, 1917 and 1918), the New York State Championship in 1914 and participated in two cable matches of the series of thirteen between the US and Great Britain, winning both of his games; in 1910 he defeated Joseph Blake and in 1911 a player named George Richmond.
     As an oddity, Black once won a match without winning a single game. In 1909, in a match against Charles Nugent, Black lost the only game played. Nugent then forfeited the rest of the games and so Black won by a score of 5-1. Not much is known of Nugent. In the early 1900s along with William Napier and Magnus Smith he was the editor of a small chess magazine in New York called The Chess Weekly. He also enjoyed problem solving and won a few solving contests.
     In 1909 Hermann Helms was hyping Capablanca as a new Morphy and Nugent, in The Chess Weekly, argued that such praise of Capa was not merited. He acknowledged that Capa was possibly destined to take Lasker's title, he added that Capa had never faced a recognized mater in a match nor had he won a major tournament. A Chess Weekly article claimed that, “To imbue a young player with the idea that he is an exception to the general rule is to cause him to abstain from that hard work and study which alone can enable him to reach the rank of a chess master.”
     At the 1911 New York tournament he scored 5-7 (no draws!) and tied for places 7-8 with Magnus Magnusson Smith. Smith was born on September 10, 1869 in Iceland, was a one time a resident of the Winnipeg, Manitoba area, won the Canadian Championship in 1899, 1904 and 1906. He edited a chess column for the Winnipeg Free Press between 1905 and 1908. In 1910, The Gazette Times (Pittsburgh, Pa.) reported that he had moved to Brooklyn. He won the Brooklyn Chess Club championship in 1907 and the Manhattan Chess Club championship in 1912 and 1913). He passed away in Titusville, Pennsylvania in 1934. At the New York tournament Black was the only one to win a game from Capablanca, thus depriving Capa of first place and relegating him to second, a half point behind Marshall.
     Black's best performance was his winning of the third prize in the Rice Chess Club's masters' tournament in 1913, when he made a score of 10-3, his two defeats being at the hands of Capablanca and Duras, who both finished ahead of him.
     Black tied with Oscar Chajes for second and third prizes in the Metropolitan League masters' tournament in 1915, finishing with a score of 11.5-3.5. In 1920-1921, he tied for 1st at the Manhattan Chess Club championship, but lost the playoff to David Janowski. Cessmetrics puts his best rating at around 2300 in the years 1918 and 1919.
     The following game is a snappy win from his 1918 match against Alfred Schroeder. Black won the match +5 -3 =2. Almost nothing is known of Schroeder except that he was active in several chess clubs in New York and was the Brooklyn Chess Club Champion in 1922. He also participated in a number of the Rice Gambit Tournaments during that era.