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Volume 1 Number 4 CHESS IN THE PRESS June 11, 1993
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Any Day, Any Time, Any Place
More professional-quality summaries of chess articles from the world's
press, published anytime, anywhere, by anybody. For those of you who
cannot attend the National Open, we have the next best thing: read what
it's like right here from Walter Tevis.
"Checkmate in Vegas." Tevis, Walter. Atlantic (Oct 1974), p. 77-82.
Tevis quotes Walter Browne: "Fischer is God; but I am the Devil."
A "novelistic" description of Browne at the board versus a master named
Fletcher: "He looks like a rock singer, with a Fu Manchu and a floral
shirt, and a hyper, gangbusters manner. Every part of him seemed to be in
motion. He pulled at his hair. He snapped his fingers. He shuffled. I
tried to ignore Browne's Mick Jagger act and make out the position."
Interesting comments about others: Arthur Bisguier "was one of the sharpest
gamblers I had ever seen; he knew the Thorpe blackjack system down to the
last card in the deck"; John Grefe: "has pinned on his dungaree shirt
pocket an ashtray-sized button with a color picture of the pink-cheeked,
beaming Maharaj Ji"; Norman Weinstein: "a good-looking boy with glasses
and a computer brain". Browne somehow managed not to win that year. "Shit,
man, it hurts." People said gambling cost Walter the tournament: "Walter
searched 4 hours for what he decided was a biased roulette wheel, bet the
biased area, and made a tidy bundle....a man who has all the odds memorized
on Scrabble, Monopoly, and blackjack." Three tied for first place: Bisguier,
Weinstein, and Eduardo Celorio. Each won $700. On a GM's lot in life:
"It has been one of the strongest concentrations of top players ever in
American chess. And yet not one of them is as well known as any second-rate
comedian in half-a-dozen lounge shows in Vegas....Like poets, they are
a tight ingroup, and few people can understand what they are doing and
"Life Itself." Parr, Larry and Lev Alburt. National Review (Sept 9,
1991), p. 48+.
An anecdote-ridden look at how chess has been perceived by communists
from Karl Marx to Anatoly Karpov. Marx viewed chess as dialectics
practiced on 64 squares, and had an attitude about his own games. "When
Marx got into a difficult position," wrote Wilhelm Liebknecht, "he would
get angry, and losing a game would cause him to fly into a rage." Chess
was not only the national game of the USSR, but Nikolai Krylenko called it
"a scientific weapon in the battle on the cultural front." During the
lean 30s, some Soviet GMs dispatched telegrams to their "Dear Beloved
Teacher and Leader" who had made their victories possible. As one put it:
"I sensed behind me the support of my whole country, the care of our
government and our party, and above all, the daily care which you, our
great leader, have taken and still take." As the poet Lakhuti said,
"Stalin demands victories!"
"Paul Morphy's Influence on Russian Chess Players." Linder, Isaac. Soviet
Life (Oct 1981), p. 42+.
When Morphy played chess in London and Paris, Russia's first chess master,
Alexander Petroff, was living in Warsaw, having abandoned an active chess
career. He wanted more than anything to see Morphy play. Petroff had
thoroughly analysed Morphy's games printed in "Shakmatny Listok" and
made notes in the margins. Proof are issues of this journal from 1859 and
1860 that belonged to Petroff. An example is the game Morphy-Harrwitz,
Paris, 1858, Philidor's defense, with Petroff's notations. Sergei Urusov,
a prominent player, apparently wrote a letter to Morphy inviting him to
visit Russia and play Petroff--who was considerably older than Morphy.
Petroff replied in Shakmatny Listok: "As far as a match with Morphy is
concerned, why shouldn't we have it? I'm ready to play." But he added,
"I don't regard myself as Morphy's equal in strength." A few years later,
Petroff and Morphy actually met. Petroff went to France in 1863 and Morphy
was also visiting there. Petroff was in Paris for a short time with his
daughters; they were on their way to a health resort, and by that time,
Morphy had abandoned serious competition. Petrov wrote to the editor of
"Shakmatny Listok": "I've called on Morphy twice, and he too has visited me.
[A staff member at Nouvelle Regence] has told me that [Morphy] flatly
refuses to play." There are no reminiscences left by the Russian novelist
Ivan Turgenev about his personal acquaintance with Morphy. Leo Tolstoy,
during a trip to London in 1861, bought a book on Morphy and kept it in
his private library. Russian masters remark on Morphy's importance.
"Notes on People." New York Times (Nov 15, 1971), p. 55.
David Moran was one of six prisoners who were let out, under armed guard,
from Western State Penitentiary in Pittsburgh, to play in a chess
tournament at Carnegie-Mellon University. He turned out to be a chess
player who was thinking more than one move ahead. "Moran disappeared
at the height of play," said Warden Joseph Brierly, "and he hasn't been
"Lawyer's Gambit Declined." Kornstein, Daniel. New York Law Journal
(Feb 4, 1986), p. 2.
One key to both chess and the law is the adversarial process. In both
fields, two opponents contend for victory; litigation and chess, at their
core, are a one-on-one confrontation. A lawsuit, like a chess game, has an
opening, middle game, and end game. The basic objective of the opening is
development. A lawsuit can open with an exciting gambit: lawyers refer to
it as filing a complaint together with a motion for a preliminary injunction
or for accelerated discovery. The middle game in a lawsuit starts after the
initial filing and is marked by pretrial discovery. It can take up the bulk
of the time and effort and is crucially important to what chessplayers call
"position." Good and bad position often determine the outcome. When
discovery is over, the end game begins. This can take the form of a
dispositive motion, settlement, or actual trial. The key to chess and law is
strategy. Success entails the ability to plan. The experienced advocate has
a "theory of the case" and has mapped out an entire litigation and trial
before it takes place, going over in his mind what each side, witness, and
the judge will say and do. It is essential to go through a long sequence of
moves and concentrate on furthering your own plan and limiting that of
your opponent. The litigator may sacrifice discovery in return for the
benefits of filing an early note or issue. An "overloaded piece" in chess
is like a legal adversary buried under an avalanche of discovery or motions.
Zugzwang could describe the predicament of a trial witness confronted on
the stand with a damaging prior inconsistent statement. Whatever the
witness says, he loses.
"Notes on the Aesthetics of Chess and the Concept of Intellectual Beauty."
Osborne, Harold. British Journal of Aesthetics (Apr 1964), p. 160-163.
Discusses an idea mentioned in the book _Chess Problems: Introduction
to an Art_ by Michael Lipton. The idea is that chess problems are an art
form in the same kind of way that great music & poetry are works of art;
they are not only amusing, but also beautiful and, in some senses,
important. The author recounts F. Le Lionais' 7 criteria by which prizes
for beauty have been awarded in chess tournaments. He contrasts these
with the thesis in Lipton's book, which reduces the beauty of the chess
problem to a single principle of economy in the adaptation of means to
end. Lipton suggests the aesthetic experience in any of the arts involves
two things: first, "one must fully understand--follow with the brain, and
feel with the stomach--what the artist is expressing; second, there is
joy...associated with this kind of understanding. This process is the
appreciation of economy."
"First Person." Lamport, Felicia. Sports Illustrated (Dec 8, 1980),
The author entered the 31st Annual USCF Golden Knights Postal Chess
Tournament and recounts her experiences. Some of her opponents came to
postal because of a lack of chess activity in their area, some for the
leisurely pace, and others because a heavy schedule made it difficult to
get to the local club. Winning brings great satisfaction: "whenever my
postman delivers a card reading, `I resign,' I gloat all day."
"Chess, Science, and General Semantics." Sawin, Gregory. Et Cetera (Spring
1992), p. 104-107.
Systematic, clear thinking in pursuit of reliable knowledge is required
in science, general semantics, and chess. The object of chess is to win
the game rationally by dealing with problems that your opponent creates
and by formulating and launching attacks. In seeking information during a
game, a player 1) carefully observes the position; 2) tries to generate
several possible explanations for the purpose of the opponent's move; 3)
develops short-term and long-term strategies based on positional strengths
and weaknesses; and 4) evaluates the soundness of those ideas by imagining
possible positions several moves ahead.
"U.S. Rules Out Fourth Trial & Drops GAF Charges." New York Times (Aug 10,
1991), p. 33.
Government prosecutors ruled out a fourth trial and dropped stock
manipulation charges against GAF Corp. and IM Jimmy Sherwin, who had been
tried three times previously. The case ended twice in mistrials before a
jury conviction, but an appeals court overturned that verdict. Sherwin had
been under indictment for reportedly trying to lift the price of Union
Carbide stock shortly before selling a large block of shares. "I am very
happy that justice has finally been done," Sherwin said. Before the appeals
court reversal, Sherwin had been sentenced to 6 months in prison, but
never served any part of the term.
"Soviet Calls Producer a Fraud But His Show Great." Anderson, Raymond.
New York Times (Jan 11, 1967), p. 22.
The show was a resounding success. The Soviet audiences loved it.
Luscious young women costumed as chess pieces stood on squares of a large
chessboard placed in a sports hall. When the game began and a girl was
"captured" and removed, a curtain opened on a nearby stage revealing a
popular singer or film star who would entertain the audience before the
next move. The show traveled from Moscow to Leningrad, and other cities,
sometimes appearing on TV. Everyone wanted a ticket to the show, and
everyone bought one without a problem. The chess extravaganza was the
brainchild of showman Eduard Vainer, who was lauded as highly imaginative
by "Izvestia." Unfortunately, Vainer was a fraud and a swindler. He
regularly sold several thousand more tickets than there were seats in a
hall. Even worse, he carried false documents identifying him as an
authorized theatrical producer and most of the rubles from his show went
into his own pockets, and not to the government. A capitalist running dog.
He was sentenced to eight years in prison. Soviet commentators took the
opportunity to scold "real" producers, whose offerings were trite and
boring compared to Vainer's productions.
[That was the end of Vainer's career. Here's the beginning.]
"Moscow Casts Star Performers as Chess Pieces for Champions." Lipsyte,
Robert. New York Times (Jan 20, 1962), p. 15.
A new type of "living chess" game draws huge crowds in Moscow. The pieces
are Soviet ballerinas, singers, comedians, and athletes. After a piece
is taken, "it" will perform. Among the popular artists involved: Ivan
Kozlovsky--tenor, Olga Lepeshinskaya--ballerina, Klaydia Shulzhenko--
vocalist, and Ilya Nabatov--comic monologist. For the next extravaganza,
World Champion Mikhail Botvinnik and Vassily Smyslov were to play in the
15,000 seat Lenin Stadium. Athletes would substitute for the performers,
since the Botvinnik-Smyslov game would take hours and many "pieces" would
have to stand for a long time. Each athlete had a previously assigned
entertainer who would step out of the wings to perform. "It is all a stunt,
something of no significance, except for fund-raising," said Hans Kmoch.
"I saw Lasker play Rubinstein [in a living chess match] and I have seen
such matches in Vienna and Yugoslavia. They remind me of dancing bears.
The bears, you know, sometimes effect a credible pas de deux, but it is
still not ballet. This is not chess."
Editor: Stephen Leary [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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