Dennis M's Chess Site

This is a blog for chess fans by a chess fan. I enjoy winning as much as anyone else, and I've had a reasonable amount of success as a competitor, but what keeps me coming back to the game is its beauty. And that, primarily, is what this site will be about! All material copyrighted.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

I've Moved: Here's the New Blog!

The new blog is up! It will be a while before everything is just exactly perfect, but it's up and running and has new content. Here's the URL:

Thanks very much to all my loyal readers, and I hope you'll join me at the new site. Don't forget to bookmark it too, and to invite all your friends for what will hopefully be an even richer journey into the blogosphere.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Patience, Please

With the university semester winding down (with LOTS of grading to do), my setting up the new blog and with a new and unexpected 4/1-related matter to address, I'm unable to engage in as much blogging as I would like at the moment.

For those of you needing your chess fix, however, I can heartily recommending taking a look at this week's newly-released Chess Cafe columns. Noting my favorites, Nikolay Minev's "Double Mates" offers a diverse collection of tactically lively games and fragments resulting in double-check mates; Karsten Müller continues his examination of "Capablanca's Theorem" (the claim that in the endgame queen & knight are stronger than queen & bishop); and Ivan Markov presents the ten best games from Informant 91.

That should keep everyone sated for a few hours!

Monday, April 18, 2005

Of Interest on the Web

Some or all of these may have already caught the readers' eye, but if not, here's a second chance!

First, as I suspect almost everyone has heard, Garry Kasparov's retirement has let him escape any danger from an attack on the chessboard but not, alas, an attack from a chessboard (-wielding thug). Click here for the story and some comments by the man himself.

Second, part two of Mig's interview with Kasparov has been posted on the ChessBase news page (part 1 can be found here, while the third and final part awaits posting).

Finally, IM John Watson is an author whose books (particularly his solo efforts) tend to be excellent, and he's a fine book reviewer as well. After a long layoff, his latest batch of reviews for TWIC can be found here.

Sunday, April 17, 2005


In the comments to my "More Fun with Pachman" post, BabsonTask and a subsequent anonymous poster note that Fischer's ethically dubious assistance to Sanchez was (more than) recompensed by what happened to him in 1970, against the Yugoslavian IM Kovacevic.

The story, according to Mike Fox and Richard James, in their The Even More Complete Chess Addict, is that Fischer has made his move, setting a trap in what is an objectively bad position, and has gone for a little walk while awaiting his opponent's move. Viktor Korchnoi and Tigran Petrosian are watching the game see the trap and discuss the solution. Petrosian's wife is there too, and as her hubby is trailing Fischer in the standings, she actually walks over to Kovacevic and whispers the solution to him! Kovacevic plays the right move and crushes Fischer, though the latter went on to win the tournament by a two point margin even so.

As far as I know, the source of this anecdote is Korchnoi, and in light of his long-time enmity towards Petrosian, it's possible that the story is bunk. Further, while Kovacevic's 18th move was a nice one, it wasn't beyond the capacities of a strong IM, later a GM, to find such a move. In any case, here's the game:

Fischer,Robert James - Kovacevic,Vlatko [C15]
Rovinj/Zagreb Zagreb (8), 21.04.1970

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.a3 Bxc3+ 5.bxc3 dxe4 6.Qg4 Nf6 7.Qxg7 Rg8 8.Qh6 Nbd7 9.Ne2 b6 10.Bg5 Qe7 11.Qh4 Bb7 12.Ng3 h6 13.Bd2 0-0-0 14.Be2 Nf8 15.0-0 Ng6 16.Qxh6 Rh8 17.Qg5 Rdg8 18.f3

Black's position is beautifully coordinated for a kingside attack, and if White doesn't do anything special Black will roll him off the board. White's last move is a nice try: he's hoping to shut down the Bb7's diagonal (pre-f3, Black threatened, among other things, some combination of ...Nh4, ...e3 and ...N/Bxg2) and to open the f-file for his own use. 18...e3! This keeps the f-file closed, and now, despite the two pawn deficit, Black's attack is unstoppable. [18...Nh4 looks crushing: the queen moves away, and then 19...exf3 destroys the White kingside. However: 19.fxe4! Rxg5 20.Bxg5 puts a stop to Black's attack, and after 20...Nf5 (forced) 21.Nh5 Rg8 22.Bxf6 Qf8 23.Rf4 Ne3 24.Ng3 the position is unclear.; 18...exf3? 19.Bxf3 is clearly better for White, as Black has serious problems along the f-file.] 19.Bxe3 Nf8! 20.Qb5 Nd5 Not just hitting e3 and c3, but cutting the white queen off from the kingside. 21.Kf2 a6 22.Qd3 Rxh2 23.Rh1 Qh4 24.Rxh2 Qxh2 25.Nf1 Rxg2+ 26.Ke1 Qh4+ 27.Kd2 Ng6 28.Re1 Ngf4 29.Bxf4 Nxf4 30.Qe3 Rf2

Black is threatening 31...Nxe2 32.Rxe2 Rxf1, 31...Ng2 and 31...Bxf3 - too much! 0-1

I Was Right!

In my post "Naming and Contingency", I wrote the following:

"To take a relatively recent and prominent example [of an unjustly named variation], the ...Qb6xb2 line in the 6.Bg5 Najdorf deserved to be named after Bobby Fischer if any variation did, but apparently it came to be known as the "Poisoned Pawn Variation" when some journalist during the 1972 Fischer-Spassky match asked about the opening and was told that Fischer had snatched a poisoned pawn."

Victor Reppert commented to say that this story was mistaken: "The term 'poisoned pawn variation' was around long before 1972. I'm old enough to know." I replied in sackcloth and ashes, attempting to blame Edmar Mednis's book How to Beat Bobby Fischer, but reporting that a friend's search came up empty.

It turns out that I was right the first time; my mistake was only having my friend look at game 61 in the Mednis book (Spassky-Fischer, game 11 from their 1972 match). I subsequently recalled that Fischer lost on the White side of the variation to Geller in 1967, and then went in search of a local copy of the book to see what Mednis said in his notes to that game. Voila:

"There is no knowledgeable chess person who does not give Fischer full credit for making 7...Q-N3 [DM: That's 7...Qb6 for the descriptive notation-illiterate out there. While algebraic notation is vastly superior to descriptive, it does behoove at least Americans to be "bilingual," as there are many outstanding, inexpensive old chess books - many published by Dover - whose only "flaw" is that they are written in descriptive. Reading it will most likely be transparent to you in a week or two, and meanwhile you'll have acquired some great books dirt cheap.] playable. After a few brief sorties in the middle 1950s, Black's debacle in Keres-Fuderer, Goteberg 1955, dissipated all confidence and interest in it.

"Until 1961, that is, when Fischer resurrected it against Parma at Bled. His never-ending stream of contributions and discoveries, analytical and practical, have clearly imparted his name to 7...Q-N3. Yet what is its name? Unaccountabley, for over 15 years it had no name, just something like 7...Q-N3.

"This changed, for the worse at that, in the summer of 1972 when in the 7th match game against Spassky, Bobby played 7...Q-N3. Immediately after 8...QxP [DM: 8...Qxb2] the phones rang at the Marshall Chess Club in New York: various radio, TV, and newspaper people wanted know what call the variation. A reply that it had no name obviously wasn't satisfactory. So someone (let him remain nameless) after some seconds of contemplation (media people are in a hurry) came up with "Poisoned Pawn Variation." And that's what it is called today.

"What a horrible appellation! It utterly slights the real discoverer, and is also inaccurate for there is no clear proof that the QNP [DM: b-pawn] is actually poison. It may be too late to do anything about it (the power of the media, etc.), yet I propose the following accurate, understandable short name: 'Fischer's QNP.'" (Edmar Mednis, How to Beat Bobby Fischer (New York: Bantam Books, 1975), p. 201 [paragraph breaks added].)

Mednis was a friend of Bobby's, possibly there at the time of the aforementioned phone call(s), and writing less than two years after the fact (the first edition of the book came out in 1974); Victor, are you sure you're right? Maybe it was sometimes jokingly called the "Poisoned Pawn," but not in any sort of official way pre-1972. In any event, I'm glad I remembered the Mednis book correctly, even 17+ years after I last went through it; as for the truth of the matter, I'll have to defer to my elders and those with pre-1972 volumes featuring the variation.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

This Week on ChessBase: Pachman-Fischer

In light of the attention I've been giving Ludek Pachman and his Checkmate in Prague the last few days, it seemed to me fitting that he - more exactly, his second win against Bobby Fischer - get to have a starring role in my ChessBase show this Monday. (See this post for the raw game score - it's the second game.)

It's a very exciting game, and one in which Fischer certainly had his chances. Nevertheless, Pachman defended very cooly, and when Fischer failed to find the most accurate path through the complications, the White king went on a remarkable march to safety. Add to the game's entertainment value the interesting opening (I think every player needs to think about the Ragozin System at least once in their career!), and you've got a show well worth watching - so join me this Monday night (9 p.m. ET)!

As always, information for watching the show (live or later on, in the archives) can be found here, while a list of past shows is available here.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Pachman Strikes Back

In the previous post, we looked at an episode between Czech grandmaster Ludek Pachman and Bobby Fischer. In revenge for Pachman's win in their head-to-head game, Fischer helped the relatively unknown Sanchez beat Pachman in a later round, sharing a bit of home preparation in an act whose ethical legitimacy was questionable at best.

The story does not end there, however, and we resume Pachman's account from Checkmate in Prague, page 65:

"With the help of Sanchez, then, Bobby had caught up with me, but the matter did not end there. Two days later, before the start of play, I was taking a walk with the young Chilean player, Jauregui. We were chatting about this and that, when suddenly on our way to the tournament hall we ran into Bobby.

"'Ah, Mr. Pachman,' he called from a distance, 'so today you've been briefing my opponent.'

"Realizing at that moment that Bobby was due to play Jauregui, I retorted: 'Of course, Bobby. And I must say he's very well prepared.'

"My prompt reply caused Bobby to frown. He pondered the first moves in the ensuing game very deeply. And as it happened, Jauregui was using a system I often play, which helped to confirm Bobby's suspicions. He spent one hour and twenty minutes over the first eleven moves, anxious not to play according to the book and so avoid the danger of surprise. In the event, he lost his queen at the twenty-ninth move and was forced to resign at the fortieth. One might almost say that a bad conscience had robbed him of a point, involving the loss of first place in the tournament."

Here's the game:

Jauregui Andrade,Carlos - Fischer,Robert James [E81]
Santiago (10), 1959

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f3 0-0 6.Be3 Nbd7 7.Nge2 a6 8.Qd2 c5 9.a3 Rb8 10.b4 cxd4 11.Nxd4

11...Ne5 12.Rc1 Bd7 13.Be2 Rc8 14.Nd5 e6 15.Nxf6+ Qxf6 16.0-0 Qe7 17.Rfe1

17...Rc7 Probably the losing move, when Black goes from a cramped and difficult, but defensible position, to one in which he's completely overrun. [17...Ba4 seems better: it (1) makes it tougher for White to pile up on the d-file, (2) makes it easier for his own rooks to cover d6, and (3) clears the better d7 square as a retreat for his knight.] 18.f4 Nc6 19.Nf3! Bc8 20.Red1 Rd7 21.b5 Nd8 22.Qb4 Re8 23.Rd2 f5 24.c5 d5 25.c6 bxc6 26.Bc5 a5 27.Qb3 Qf7 28.Ng5

28...dxe4 29.Nxf7 Rxd2 30.Nd6 Nb7 31.Nxb7 Bxb7 32.Qe3 Red8 33.Bc4 cxb5 34.Bxb5 e5 35.Bb6 exf4 36.Qxf4 e3 37.Bxd8 Bd4 38.Be2 Be4 39.Re1 Bd3 40.Qxd4


Thursday, April 14, 2005

More Fun with Pachman

"Tragedy is what happens to me; comedy is what happens to you." - Mel Brooks

In the previous post, I recalled a somewhat questionable bit of gamesmanship by Ludek Pachman; today's excerpt from his Checkmate in Prague (pp. 63-65) finds the ethical shoe on the other foot:

"I had quite a time with him [the 15-year old Bobby Fischer] on that South American trip. We encountered each other first in Mar del Plata soon after the start of the tournament when Bobby, full of optimism, told me: 'I have white, and I'll wipe the floor with you.'

"I asked if he would allow me to defend myself a bit, to which he replied, with some magnanimity: 'You can do that; at least it will be more interesting.' He went all out, but I happened to be in good form, first playing defensively, then making a counterattack. On adjournment Bobby was a piece down, but he still hoped for a draw so when he had to resign, he leapt up, swept the pieces to the floor and ran from the hall.

"We spent about a fortnight after the tournament in the same hotel in Buenos Aires where we became friends. We even began working together for the next event in Santiago. One day I showed Bobby my secret weapon - a new variation which I planned to use with black in the Sicilian Defence. I had discovered an interesting point involving the sacrifice of pieces. It looked fine and Bobby was unstinting in his praise. In private, however, he found a 'hole' in my analysis; white had a final surprise and it led straight to mate.

"Bobby kept his discovery to himself, recording the entire variation in his notebook with the remark: Play against Pachman! In Santiago, however, he drew black, so he was unable to use his weapon. Seldom in my life have I played a game to compare with that against Bobby. We were both leading in the tournament while he had the added incentive of wreaking revenge for his earlier humiliation. He sacrificed a piece, followed immediately by a rook - mate seemed imminent, then, finally, my king escaped across the board to safety. Sweeping his pieces off with an angry gesture, Bobby ran out without waiting to sign his capitulation.

"In the next round [DM: Actually, it was three rounds later.], I met Sanchez of Colombia. He plays every game 'hard for a draw' and it is no easy matter to win against him. Therefore, I was overjoyed when I got him into the Sicilian Defence, actually into the variation for which I had prepared my secret weapon! Naturally, I started to use it, then came a surprise, my king was mated. [DM: In the actual game, he doesn't get mated but although he came under a heavy attack, the game concluded in an ending. I'll have to examine the game more carefully at some point, to determine if the choice was Pachman's, to bail out into a hopeless ending rather than get mated in his originally intended main line, or if Sanchez missed a quicker win and let Pachman partially escape.] I eyed my opponent doubtfully - he had revealed himself as a brilliant attacker - when Bobby burst in behind me:

"'Sanchez didn't beat you. I upset that variation! He simply played the way I showed him. That's very nice!'

"I managed to control myself sufficiently to congratulate Sanchez, and Bobby, too. Without a trace of reproach, I asked Bobby whether it had not occurred to him to tell me about his discovery. He laughed: 'Why should I? I wanted to beat you.'"

The conclusion of this tale will come soon; for now, here are the games referred to above.

Fischer,Robert James - Pachman,Ludek [C75]
Mar del Plata (3), 25.03.1959

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 d6 5.c3 Bd7 6.d4 Nge7 7.Bb3 h6 8.0-0 Ng6 9.Nbd2 Be7 10.Nc4 Bg5 11.Ne3 Bxe3 12.Bxe3 0-0 13.h3 Re8 14.Nh2 Qe7 15.dxe5 dxe5 16.Qh5 Na5 17.Bc2 Nc4 18.Bc1 Nf4 19.Qf3 Rad8 20.Bxf4 exf4 21.Qxf4 Bc6 22.Ng4 h5 23.Ne3 Nxb2 24.Nf5 Qf6 25.Qxc7 Qxc3 26.Rac1 Qf6 27.Rfe1 Nd3 28.Bxd3 Rxd3 29.Qf4 g6 30.Rc5 Re6 31.Qb8+ Rd8 32.Qf4 gxf5 33.Rxf5 Qg7 34.Rxh5 Rde8 35.f3 Re5 36.Rh4 Rg5 37.Rg4 Rxg4 38.hxg4 Qd4+ 39.Re3 Qe5 40.Qf5 Qxf5 41.gxf5 Rd8 42.Kf2 Bb5 43.Ke1 Kg7 44.e5 Rd4 45.g4 Kh6 46.e6 f6 47.Kf2 Rd2+ 48.Kg3 Kg7 49.Rc3 Bc6 50.a3 Re2 51.Kf4 a5 52.Rd3 a4 53.Rd8 Rf2 54.Rd3 b5 55.Rc3 Rxf3+ 56.Rxf3 Bxf3 0-1

Pachman,Ludek - Fischer,Robert James [E51]
Santiago (6), 1959

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.d4 d5 4.e3 Nc6 5.Nc3 Bb4 6.Bd2 0-0 7.a3 Bxc3 8.Bxc3 Ne4 9.Qc2 a5 10.b3 b6 11.Bb2 Ba6 12.Bd3 f5 13.Rc1 Rc8 14.0-0 Rf6 15.Rfd1 Rh6 16.Bf1 g5 17.cxd5 g4 18.Bxa6 gxf3 19.gxf3 Qg5+ 20.Kf1 Rxh2 21.fxe4 Rf8 22.e5 f4 23.e4 f3 24.Ke1 Qg1+ 25.Kd2 Qxf2+ 26.Kc3 Qg3 27.Qd3 exd5 28.Rg1 Rg2 29.Rxg2 Qxg2 30.Qf1 dxe4 31.Qxg2+ fxg2 32.Rg1 Rf2 33.Bc4+ Kf8 34.Bd5 Rf3+ 35.Kc4 b5+ 36.Kc5 Ne7 37.Rxg2 Nxd5 38.Kxd5 Rxb3 39.Kxe4 b4 40.axb4 axb4 1-0

Sanchez,Luis Augusto - Pachman,Ludek [B88]
Santiago (9), 1959

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bc4 e6 7.0-0 Nc6 8.Bb3 Be7 9.Be3 0-0 10.f4 Qc7 11.Qf3 Bd7 12.f5 e5 13.Nxc6 Bxc6 14.g4 h6 15.h4 Nh7 16.g5 hxg5 17.hxg5 Bxg5 18.Bxg5 Nxg5 19.Qg4 Qe7 20.Rf2 Nh7 21.Rg2 Qf6 22.Rd1 Rfd8 23.Rd3 d5 24.exd5 Bd7 25.Ne4 Qh6 26.d6 Qc1+ 27.Rd1 Qh6 28.Qg6 Kh8 29.Bxf7 Bc6 30.Rh2 Bxe4 31.Rxh6 gxh6 32.d7 Rf8 33.Be6 Rad8 34.Rd2 Bxf5 35.Bxf5 Rg8 36.Rg2 Rxg6 37.Rxg6 Nf8 38.Rxh6+ Kg8 39.Rb6 Kf7 40.Rxb7 Ne6 41.Bxe6+ 1-0