22 April - 3 December 2000

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80. 3 December: An old guy in New York

A reader asked if I was interested in Marcel Duchamp. Well, I played him once. In a way. The occasion was a famous exhibition of avant-garde art in Amsterdam in 1961, 'Bewogen Beweging' (Moving Movement.) I was one of four members of a junior chess club who were invited to play Duchamp in a consultation correspondence game of which the position would be displayed in the exhibition hall. None of us knew anything about Duchamp's status as an artist or a chessplayer - he was just 'some old guy in New York' whom we were going to wipe off the board.
    As far as I know, the game in which that did not happen, cannot be found in any database or on the Internet.

Hans Ree, Tim Krabbé, Herman Grimme & Hans Luuring - Marcel Duchamp, correspondence, 1961
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Bb4 6.e5 Nd5 7.Bd2 Nxc3 8.bxc3 Bf8 9.Bd3 d6 10.f4 g6 11.h4 dxe5 12.fxe5 Bg7 13.h5 Bxe5 14.Qg4 Nc6 15.Nxc6 bxc6 16.hxg6 hxg6 17.Rxh8+ Bxh8 18.Ke2
(see diagram) According to Ree, we should have played Bxg6 here, with chances for both sides. 18...Qd5 19.Rh1 Bf6 20.Rf1 e5 21.Qg3 Qe6 22.Be4 Ba6+ 23.Bd3 Bc4 24.Kd1 Bg7 25.Qh4 Bxd3 26.cxd3 Rb8 27.c4 Rb1+ 28.Bc1 Ra1 29.a3 Qd6 30.Qh3 f5 31.Kc2 e4 and we resigned.

79. 16 November: The Alterman wall

At Kasparov's site, the diagram below was 'KC's picture of the day'. It happened in the game Alterman - Deep Fritz, the only game won by a human in the KasparovChess Human vs. Machine Challenge that ended in a 14½-5½ victory for the machines.
Alterman - Deep Fritz, KasparovChess, 15 November 2000
1.f4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e3 g6 4.Be2 Bg7 5.d4 O-O 6.c3 Bf5 7.Nbd2 e6 8.h3 Ne4 9.g4 Ng3 10.Rg1 Nxe2 11.Kxe2 Be4 12.Ng5 Na6 13.b4 c6 14.Bb2 Qe7 15.Ndxe4 dxe4 16.Nxe4 Rad8 17.Qb3 Qh4 18.Rh1 Rfe8 19.Rag1 f6 20.Nd2 Nc7 21.Nf3 Qh6 22.h4 Rf8 23.Bc1 Rde8 24.a4 Nd5 25.c4 Nb6 26.e4 See diagram. Neither Mig Greengard, who was one of the commentators of this game and who pointed this out to me, nor I, could find any other serious example of this extended center in the millions of games that we have in our databases. It appears e4 is the strongest move in the position, so we do not have to suspect Alterman of just playing it to make it to my files. 26...f5 27.g5 Qh5 28.e5 Rf7 29.Be3 Rd7 30.Kf2 Red8 31.Rd1 Na8 32.b5 Bf8 33.a5 Be7 34.b6 axb6 35.axb6 Kg7 36.c5 Compare the Na8 to the Nh8 in item 73 below. 36...Kf7 37.Ra1 Rb8 38.Qc4 Bd8 39.Nd2 Bxb6 40.cxb6 Nxb6 41.Qe2 and White won, not without difficulties, at move 87.

White to play and win
P. Cathignol, 1981
I had seen that wall before. (See diagram)

1.d5 The ultimate breakthrough. 1...exd5 2.exd5 cxd5 3.a5 bxa5 4.b5 axb5 5.cxb5 Ke7 6.b6 Kd7 7.b7 Kc7 8.g5 fxg5 9.h5 gxh5 10.f5 a4 11.f6 a3 12.f7 a2 13.b8Q+ Kxb8 14.f8Q+ and White wins.

PS 25 November: Several people pointed out a game Kiviaho-Laitila, 1998 to me, in which such a wall also occurs. This was however a game of the pole-sitting Guiness Book of Records sort, not a real chess game.

78. 2 November: 37

All of the time when I was growing up, learned chess, started to play, studied openings, discovered endgames, realized I wasn't going to be world or even Dutch champion, it was Botvinnik who was world champion. He was champion for 15 years, with only two brief interludes, from 1948 to 1963.
    It's amazing to think he was 37 when all of that started - Kasparov is 37 now.

77. 31 October: Home of the Babson

Very recently, the famous Russian (Tatar) problem composer Leonid Yarosh, the man who first created the elusive Babson Task (and then a few more), opened his own website The creative workshop of Leonid V. Yarosh. For the time being, in Russian only.
    In the picture, he demonstrates his first fully correct Babson.
    Also, see #69 in this diary, and The Babson Task, elsewhere on this site.

PS 30 November: On Yarosh' website, I discovered something new: for a 90-minute lecture on the Babson task, he charges ten thousand dollars. Not much, for a God, but perhaps a little inconvenient for some chess clubs.

76. 29 October: The Cave

A few weeks ago, my latest novel, The Cave, appeared in a translation by Sam Garrett, with Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
    Nothing to do with chess.
    " eerie, resonant, and highly intelligent novel." (Margot Livesey)
    "His fine, spare prose weaves a seamless web of vividly imagined reality." (Publishers Weekly)
    "...carefully constructed narrative...deft and unsentimental prose...low-key elegance of his tale..." (New York Times Book Review)
    "A diamond of a book." (Library Journal)

75. 15 October: The Weinstein omen

Today, in my other favourite sport, bicycle racing, the Latvian Romans Vainsteins became world champion.
    The Dutch TV-commentator said two interesting things about him: that he is the first Jewish road racing world champion, and that his father, to be less conspicuously Jewish in the old Soviet Union, had changed the family name from Weinstein to Vainsteins.
    That first remark is nonsense: in Holland we all know that the father of our great rider Joop Zoetemelk (world champion 1985) was a rabbi all his life in Rijpwetering.
    The second remark is nonsense, too. Roman Weinstein being Romans Vainsteins is a matter of conjugating and transcribing. If father Weinstein had wanted to become less Jewish, he'd have better chosen a really non-Jewish name, like Fischer.

74. 11 October: Brilliant endgame—twice
Berkvens - Van Beek
Black to play
Dutch Open, Dieren 2000
A recent game, played in Holland, had an endgame with two brilliancies that each deserve to make the textbooks.
    In the first diagram. Black played 43... Bd4 which doesn't look very brilliant, perhaps. 44.Rb8+ But this is not the brilliancy either - the brilliancy was that with his last move, Black allowed Rb8+. 44...Kxb8 45.d7+ Be5 Because with this unguarded guard, as I like to call it, he remains an exchange ahead. But it's not an easy win. 46.Bxe5+ Kb7 47.Kxg5 Kc6 48.h4 Kxd7 49.Kf5 Rxb3 50.h5 c4 51.h6 Rh3 52.Kg6 Ke6 53.Bf4 c3 54.h7 c2 55.Kg7 (see diagram to the right
    White seems to have saved a draw after all. But now Black had the even more brilliant: 55...Rg3+ Because after 56. Bxg3 c1Q 57.h8Q Qg5+ 57.Kh7 (57.Kf8 Qe7+ and 58...Qf7 mate) 57...Kf7, and White is mated. 56.Kh6 (56.Kf8 Rf3 57.h8Q Rxf4+ and c1Q) 56...Kf7 56...Kf5 wins too, e.g. 57.Bd2 (h8Q Rh3+ followed by RxQ and KxB) Rg6+ 58.Kh5 Rg2 etc. 57.Bc1 Or 57.h8N+ Kf6 58.Bxg3 c1Q+ and wins. 57...Rh3+ and White resigned.

73. 3 October: A knight to remember

A friend asked me for a real baaaad knight. I hope this satisfies him.

Reshevsky - Treysman, New York ch-USA, 1938
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 Bb4+ 4.Bd2 Qe7 5.Bg2 O-O 6.Nf3 d5 7.Qc2 Ne4 8.O-O Nxd2 9.Nbxd2 c6 10.e4 Bxd2 11.Nxd2 dxe4 12.Nxe4 Nd7 13.c5 e5 14.dxe5 Nxe5 15.Rfe1 Ng6 16.Nd6 Qc7 17.f4 Bd7 18.f5 Nh8 19.Re7 b6 20.b4 bxc5 21.Qxc5 Rad8 22.b5 Qb8 23.a4 cxb5 24.axb5 Bc8 25.Rc7 Qb6 26.Qxb6 axb6 27.Rc6 g6 28.g4 h5 29.h3 hxg4 30.hxg4 Kg7 31.Kf2 Bd7 32.Rxb6 Rb8 33.f6+ Kh6 34.Kg3 Kh7 35.Rxb8 Rxb8 (see diagram) 36.g5 Rb6 37.Ra6 Rb8 38.Bc6 Bf5 39.Ra8 Rxa8 40.Bxa8 Bd3 41.b6 Ba6 42.Bb7 and Black resigned

72. 27 September: Oh, Calcutta

Recently, the Dutch master Gerard Welling pointed out to me that a very famous game, a classic case of audacity, has in fact never been played.
Steel - NN, Calcutta 1886
1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.f4 exf4 4.d4 Qh4+ 5.Ke2 d5 6.exd5 Bg4+ 7.Nf3 O-O-O 8.dxc6 Bc5 9.cxb7+ Kb8 10.Nb5 Nf6 11.c3 Rhe8+ 12.Kd3 Bf5+ 13.Kc4 Be6+ 14.Kxc5 a5 15.Nxc7 Qh5+ 16.Ne5 Nd7+ 17.Kb5 Qxd1 18.Bxf4 Qxa1 19.Ka6 Nxe5 20.Nxe8 f6 21.dxe5 f5 22.Be3 Rxe8 23.Bb5 Qxh1 24.Ba7+ Kc7 25.Bc5 (see diagram) Rd8 26.Ka7 and Black resigned; he is mate in a few moves.
    With such a game, who would care that White's stroke of fantasy is far from perfect - for one thing, 25...Rd8 gives White an - immediately decisive - advantage for the first time in the whole game; 25...Bc8! forces the repetition Bb6+, Ba7+ etc.
    Also, instead of 20...f6 which allows this draw, 20...Rd5 is winning, as was demonstrated by Shipley in a match game against Morgan in 1891. The Steinitz Gambit was subject to extensive analysis in those days, which had already made me wonder whether Steel - NN (the nameless victim adds to the suspicion) couldn't have been a brilliant analytical discovery instead of a real game. And indeed, as Gerard Welling demonstrates convincingly, the game has never been played.
    In the first issue of Steinitz' 'The International Chess Magazine' (January 1885), under the heading 'Chess in Calcutta', there is a game between 'two well known strong amateurs of that city'. The 'elegant and instructive game' Steel - Ross which then follows is, except for a transposition of moves 22 and 23, the same as Steel - NN. At that point, it deviates with: 24.Bc5 Rd8 25.Ra7+ 'and draws by perpetual check'.
    The existence of this game Steel - Ross alone, makes it unlikely that Steel could have played almost exactly the same game one year later, again in Calcutta, where the chess community must have been small. But when he browsed further, Gerard Welling found more. In the January 1888 issue of Steinitz' magazine there was, under the caption 'A variation of the Steinitz Gambit', a reader's letter by Steel himself, dated: Calcutta, November 1st, 1887.
    'I have been amusing myself,' Steel writes, 'with analyzing further a remarkable variation of the Steinitz Gambit, of which you published an illustration in the first number of Vol. I of your Magazine, which had occurred in a game at this opening between Mr. Ross and myself. That game was drawn, but I am inclined to think I had a forced win. The position is one of extraordinary interest and difficulty, and I think the analysis will please your readers, many of whom enjoy fireworks.'
    Steel's forced win is based on two variations. The first is (see above, in Steel - NN): 23...Qxb2 24.Bc5, when Black will have to give his Queen for the Bb5, after which White has, according to Steel, a won ending with Bishops of opposite colors. And against Ross' 23...Qxh1, Steel had an improvement over his 24.Bc5 against Ross, which he notes almost offhandedly: 'If 23...Qxh1; 24.Ba7+ Kc7 25.Bc5 Rd8 26.Ka7, and wins.'
    That remark is the crown witness: a move given by Steel as analysis in 1887, cannot have been played by him in a game in 1886.
    The Honourable Robert Steel (1839-1903) was one of 15 members of the 'Council of India', the body that governed the colony. He must have done much to further British chess, but to him, his immortal game was only a remark in his own analysis.
    How that remark became an immortal game would be interesting to know.

71. 13 September: A whispered move
White to play
Beyen - Filip
Luxemburg 1971
In my August instalment of 'A Guided Tour of Chess' at The Chess Cafe, I wrote about one type of promotion combination, of which the position on the left is a well known and beautiful example - so much so that I titled the article 'Beyen's Trick.'
    White won with 1.Bxg6! hxg6 2.Re7+! Rxe7 3.dxe7+ Kxe7 4.Rd8! and Black resigned; he is forced to block the back rank, and White promotes.
    The origin of the position was always slightly mysterious - the white player, perhaps owing to his name being transcribed into Cyrillic and back again, was sometimes Bouzi, sometimes Beyen, but most of the time he was Boey. Also, the whole game, or even a tournament 'Luxemburg 1971' could not be found in the databases.
    When I chanced upon that game recently, there were a few surprises. It had been played in a preliminary threeway tournament for the European Team Championship, between Belgium, Luxemburg, and Czechoslovakia. Belgium had won 14-2 against Luxemburg, and had lost 14-2 against Czechoslovakia. One Belgian however, had beaten a Czech; the untitled Roland Beyen (and not Boey or Bouzi), who had thrashed twofold World Championship Candidate Filip.

Beyen - Filip, Luxemburg 1971
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.f3 c5 5.d5 d6 6.e4 Bxc3+ 7.bxc3 e5 8.Bd3 Nbd7 9.Ne2 Nf8 10.O-O Nh5 11.f4 Nxf4 12.Nxf4 exf4 13.Bxf4 Ng6 14.Qh5 Qe7 15.e5 Nxf4 16.Rxf4 g6 17.Qh6 dxe5 18.Re1 f5 19.d6 Qf6 20.g4 Kd8 21.Rff1 f4 22.g5 Qf8 23.Rxe5 Qxh6 24.gxh6 Kd7 25.Rd5 Rf8 26.Re1 Rf7 27.Bc2 b5 (see diagram above) 28.Bxg6 hxg6 29.Re7+ Rxe7 30.dxe7+ Kxe7 31.Rd8 and Black resigned.

It must be terrible, I wrote, to have played one briliant game in your life, a game that went around the world, and then to see it attributed to a rival; Boey was a stronger and better known Belgian who, by the way, had played in that same match, on first board.
    The game itself was a little blemish to the beautiful combination; Beyen could have played Bxg6 one move earlier. 27.Bc2 is like taking a run-up, and indeed Black is in such a bad way that he can hardly prevent the blow falling next move. And jokingly, I supposed that perhaps Beyen hadn't seen the sacrifice at all, and it might have been Boey who had whispered it to him after his 27th move.
    I received two very interesting reactions to that story.
    Jan Timman told me that 27.Bc2 could have been a brilliant waiting move. Because when White plays Bxg6 then already, there follows 27...hxg6 28.Re7+ Rxe7 29.dxe7+ Kxe7 30.Rd8 Kxd8 31.h7 Bd7! 32.h8Q+ Be8 and Black has an impenetrable fortress. Only the desperado 27...b5 makes the combination winning; then White has cxb5 at the end of it.
    Timman did not think it would have actually happened this way, and this was confirmed in the reaction of a Belgian chess player, Deleyn. Years ago, he had been told by yet another Belgian who had played on the national team in that match, Marc Bonne, that Beyen had indeed not seen Bxg6 himself, and that it had been whispered to him after 27.Bc2 - not by Boey, but by yet another team member: IM Arthur Dunkelblum.

70. 24 August: Amazing Emms

In his current column at The Chess Cafe, Richard Forster reviews "The Most Amazing Chess Moves of All Time" by John Emms. Forster doesn't like the book very much, for one thing because Emms seems to have collected only from earlier collectors. I'm one of them. Forster writes: From Krabbé’s file The 110 Greatest Moves ever played sixty examples found their way into The Most Amazing Chess Moves of All Time. Add over forty from Krabbé’s other curiosity and classic files, and half the book is done.
    Emms would have liked it to be more than half. In January, he sent me an email about his book in progress, telling me my site "has been a very useful source for me", and adding: "Are there any very recent new ones that have come to your attention?"
    Brilliant - the art thief phoning the gallery he has just pillaged: "Got any new acquisitions yet?"

69. 3 August: A little contest with prizes - solution

On 17 May (see item #63), I proposed a little contest concerning this diagram: asking opinions as to what it could be about.
    I received 14 entries.
    Three contestants supposed the point was the legality of the position, one claiming it was impossible, another giving a proof game in 36 moves.
    One correspondent, an IM no less, said the position "hurt my eyes" and wondered if it might all be about the funny mate in 4 with 1.g7 e1Q 2.gxf8Q Qxe5 3.f5!
    There was more to it indeed, and all 10 other contestants guessed what.
    Niels Lauritsen sent a funny Holmes/Watson pastiche, The case of the undisguised Bishop, in which Sherlock Holmes shrugs off the fact that it is "an elementary mate in four moves. 1.g7, and plenty of razzle dazzle and promotions to keep the unsuspecting busy. Run-of-the-mill, really." And then goes on to infer the craziest things from the fact that the white army is intact and the black Bishop must therefore be the original one.
    There was one other contestant with a cryptic solution, Rolf Knobel: "Black is starving because he has not eaten anything at all. Therefore he starts to see things doubly (mirror images of his promotions) shortly before death."
    Bernhard Bauer, giving four ultra-brief lines, put it as blandly as possible: "Thank you for your YABT (Yet Another Babson Task)."
    Kostas Prentos, with a few brief variations, also recognized the position for a Babson task: "After Yarosh, another lucky human managed to do it, in a completely new matrix. Pity he comes second, but this is always a great achievement."
    Danny Kristiansen, with very thorough variations, and a "Heureka!", also hailed the position as a new Babson Task.
    Joost de Heer added a story about Pierre Drumare - the French composer who spent 22 years of his life, at 4 hours a day (his own statement), trying to create a Babson Task and not succeeding. "All by himself, Pierre Drumare sat in his Paris home, looking at his chessboard he hated so much. Years and years he had spent to create that damned Babson Task, being mocked by self-appointed experts, who saw an unwordly madman in him."
    "Oh, how terrible had been his cursing when he had seen Yarosh's problem. He had been infuriated that not he, but a complete unknown had found the Holy Grail of Chess Art. And yet, it had not only been fury. Astonishment, wonder, admiration... the perfect mechanism, the work of God..."
    "Until that sunny spring evening in 2000... the lightning of inspiration had struck, and the neighbours wondered where that extatic cry came from. It wouldn't be from the place of that crazy neighbour? Had the last fuse finally blown? The last bit of reason finally left him? It seemed so... I've got it! I've got it! they heard contstantly from that next door apartment."
    A  nice story - but Drumare has died a few years ago.
    I also recieved a solution by the computer Fritz6, coming from the email address of Frederic Friedel: "My owner did show me a puzzle from your web page. In zero seconds I found a mate in five moves. But my owner did force me to look for the next-best line, and I did immediately find 1.g7 e1Q 2.gxf8Q Qe3 3.Nb6 axb6 4.axb6 mate. But my owner was still not satisfied and insisted I scan for alternate defences."
    Giving the relevant lines, Fritz continued: "When I showed my owner these lines he started emitting the squeaking noises I associate with intense human pleasure, and in addition kept providing a multitude of synonyms for the terms "wonderful" and "fantastic". I must say that the different symmetrical promotions did cause an unusual sensation in my own circuits. My owner also mentioned that he did smell a "Yarosh". I scanned my databases and found a composer with this name. His problems appear all to have similar "Allumwandlung" themes. I can only surmise that the amazing Yarosh has provided a new and even more spectacular example of his art."
    Well, Fritz was right. The diagram above is a 'new' (it is from 1986, but had not become widely known) Babson Task, indeed composed by Leonid Yarosh, who created a sensation in 1983 by constructing the first orthodox Babson Task - a feat thought impossible. (See Diagram of the Century, elsewhere on this site.)
   Ralf Krätschmer, a noted German problemist, was my only contestant who knew this new Babson was indeed a Yarosh. "Never believe in people who say that something can't be done," Kraetschmer wrote. "Never give up. Nothing is impossible. Believe in yourself and your own creativity."
    As the remaining two contestants made an interesting comparison between Yarosh' first Babson task and this one, I will (again) give both diagrams, with the solutions. Left is the later Babson of this contest, right Yarosh' first one.
Mate in 4
Leonid Yarosh
Vetsjernyi Leningrad 1986

1...e1Q 2.gxf8Q Qxe5 3.f5 Qd6+ 4.Bxd6 mate 
     e1R 2.gxf8Q? Rxe5! 3.f5 stalemate
            2.gxf8R! Rxe5 3.f5 Kd6 4.Bxe5 mate
     e1B 2.gxf8Q? stalemate
            2.gxf8B! Kd8 3.Be7+ Ke8 4.Qh5 mate 
     e1N 2.gxf8Q? Nxd3 3.?? 
            2.gxf8N! Kd8 3.Ne6+ Ke8 4.Qh5 mate

Mate in 4
Leonid Yarosh
1st Prize Shakmatniy v SSSR 1983

1...axb1Q 2.axb8Q Qxb2 3.Qxb3 Qc3 4.Qxc3 mate 
                               Qe4 3.Qxf4 Qxf4 4.Rxf4 mate 
1...axb1R 2.axb8=Q? Rxb2! 3.Qxb3 stalemate
                2.axb8R! Rxb2 3.Rxb3 Kxc4 4.Qa4 mate 
1...axb1B 2.axb8Q? Be4! 3.Qxf4 stalemate 
                2.axb8B! Be4(!) 3.Bxf4 B- 4.Be3(5) mate
1...axb1N 2.axb8Q? Nxd2! 3.??
                2.axb8N! Nxd2 3.Qc1! Ne4 4.Nc6 mate

Axel Gilbert ("another Holy Grail"), prefers the initial Babson Task, the one on the right, "because there is much more harmony in the Q, R and B variations: each time, the stalemate at move 3 is threatened by underpromotion and self-pinning, and each time it is broken by the corresponding Queen move played by another piece. The other Babson looks more heterogenous. So, I'll call the Yarosh the best problem ever, and this problem only the greatest task ever."
    The prominent Dutch problemist Gerard Bouma (equally ignorant of the fact that Yarosh was the author of the new Babson) also prefers the first Babson, but only slightly. That one is "a little more open, the play is a little more varied"; the greater unity in the new Babson makes for a little less variety. "In the first place, the unity strikes the eye: in all variations, after the capturing of the Bf8, the threat of Rxc5 is White's main trump. Because of that, the construction is (for a Babson) incredibly simple. That has been achieved, can perhaps only be achieved (as you will often see in difficult tasks) by giving  freedom to the black King; on the back rank, and, in the Rook variation, on d6."
    "To me, placing the black King on the seventh rank is genius. (...) Also very good is that the pieces which are so far removed from the Black King are not just extras in the play; the Qd1 has a mating move, and both Bishops have one too." (1...e1R 2.gxf8R Rxe5 3.f5 Kd6 4.Bxe5 mate and 1...e1N 2.gxf8N Nxd3 3.Ne6+ Kc8 4.Bb7 mate)."
    "I wouldn't be surprised," Bouma writes, "if this problem - seeing the freshness of the ideas and the boldness of the solutions found - would also have come from Yarosh' workplace."
    Well, it did - and as early as in 1986. (In 1983 Yarosh had already created a second Babson Task - this was his third.)

Prizes will be (or have been) sent to Fritz6, Gerard Bouma, and Ralf Krätschmer. Thanks to all contestants.

68. 2 July: The killing of Larissa Yudina

On 7 June 1998, the Kalmykian journalist Larissa Yudina was knifed to death in Elista, the capital of the autonomous Russian Federation republic Kalmykia, of which FIDE-President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov is also President. The killers were two of his former aides. This is well known in the chess world, but a recent Dutch publication sheds some more light on this, and adds a few details - such as Ilyumzhinov's brother Vyatsheslav being present when the murder took place.
    This publication is Schaakmat in Kalmukkië (Checkmate in Kalmykia) by Martin van den Heuvel, who has been a renowned Eastern Europe expert for years, and who was in Kalmykia in December 1999 as an observer of the elections for the UN.
    I will now follow Van den Heuvel's account of the Yudina murder.
    Larissa Yudina was the editor in chief of the newspaper Sovyetskaya Kalmykia (Soviet Kalmykia), the only paper in Kalmykia to openly criticize Ilyumzhinov when he became President in 1993. In 1994 Ilyumzhinov started his own paper also named Sovyetskaya Kalmykia, and Yudina and her staff were thrown out of their building. Computers and a car were confiscated, Yudina was threatened by gun, and the front door of her house was set on fire. She went on publishing her paper from her home, after a while changing the name to  Sovyetskaya Kalmykia Segodnya (Soviet Kalmykia Today), but in 1995 it became a punishable offense to subscribe to or sell the paper, and copies of it were confiscated. The paper had to be printed outside Kalmykia, and was at one time sentenced to a fine of 30 million rubles (some $ 1 million) for an article that had appeared in it. According to Gennadi Yudin, Yudina's husband, she got a telephone call offering her 2 million dollars for stopping her paper and leaving Kalmykia, 'or else we will kill you.'
    On 6 June 1998, Yudina got a call from someone who said they had proof that an Ilyumzhinov organisation collected illegal funds for the building of Chess City, the olympic village where the '98 Chess Olympiad was to be held. Yudina was summoned to a place where she would be handed documents proving Ilyumzhinov knew about this illegal fundraising. She went with her husband, which clearly wasn't expected as the contact man tried to hide when they appeared. When the Yudin couple managed to approach him anyway, the man said he did not have the documents now, but would have them tomorrow.
    The next evening, 7 June, Yudina got a new call and now went alone. A little later, she was found in a nearby flat, stabbed to death.
    A year and a half later, in November 1999,  two men, Sergey Vaskin and Vladimir Shanoyekov, were sentenced to 21 years in prison for this murder. Although it was called a 'political murder', the motives of the two men remained in the dark. A witness said the bank president Darbakov had been present when the murder was committed, but this was not used in court. Members of the Kalmykian opposition found another witness who stated that not only Darbakov, but also Ilyumzhinov's brother, Vyatsheslav, had been present in the flat at the moment Yudina was killed. This testimony was not used in court either, and the witness died a little later in a car crash. The Sovyetskaya Kalmykia Segodnya, now edited by Gennadi Yudin, as well as papers elsewhere, have named Darbakov and Vyatsheslav Ilyumzhinov as the organizers of Yudina's murder, without being sued by the Kalmykian authorities.

67. 23 June: How to play Morphy, in four easy steps

I once played an official game with Euwe who played Tarrasch, who played Paulsen, who played Morphy.

66. 17 June: Check, please

The Dutch Probleemblad crowned 8 problems in different categories as 'Problem of the Millennium'. The winning threemover was Loyd's famous 'Steinitz Gambit' from 1903 - which is still the ultimate example of check provocation. (See item 57.)
    Here are a few more classics in this spectacular genre.

Mate in 4
Sam Loyd
2nd Prize Paris Problem Tourney, 1867

The first is again one of Loyd's great jokes.
     You could spend hours trying to find how the Bf1-Rg2 battery can be fired successfully. It is baffling that to attack the black king, the bishop must not use the f1-h3 diagonal, but the c8-h3 one, and that it gets there with the incredible key 1.Bxa6! White dismantles his promising battery and provokes a nasty check - but there is nothing against 2.Bxb7, 3.Q(B)c8+ and 4.B or Qc8 mate - not even 1...bxa6+ 2.b7 and the check on c8 decides in time.
    Two side variations:
1...Qc5 2.Qe8 Qc6 3.Qxc6 bxc6 4.Bc8 mate
1...Qc2 2.Be2 Qxe2 3.Qc8+ and 4.mate

Mate in 4
E. Zepler
1st Prize Berger Memorial Tournament, 1935

1.Ra2+ Qxa2 would be mate with 2.Qb4 if the Queen would not be pinned. It's no use preventing this pin with for instance 1.Kf8, because Qb3 would spoil everything. Zepler writes that he once showed this problem to a very good solver who did not manage to find the solution in half an hour. "When I showed it to him he was almost mad at me, declaring it was nothing but a silly trick and that it had no value whatsoever. Still, this is one of my favourites." 
    Only the improbable 1.Bxf5! works, and the main variation is: 1...Qxf5+ 2.Ke7 Qb1 (there are no useful checks) and now: 3.Ra2+ Qxa2 4.Qb4 mate

Mate in 3
A. Kraemer and E. Zepler
1st Prize Neue Leipziger Zeitung 1935
(amended 1948)

Here, the key even seems crazier than in the two preceding problems: 1.Ke1! Unpinning the Nf6, this does threaten 2.Ng4+ Nxh6 3.Ne5 mate, but it also allows Black four checks - which can all be dealt with in time:
1...c1Q+ 2.Qxc1 h1Q+ 3.Bg1 mate
                           Ra(f)e8+ 3.Be3 mate
1...h1Q+ 2.Qxh1 c1Q+ 3.Rd1+
                           Ra(f)e8+ 3.Re5 mate
1...Rae8+ 2.Nfxe8+ Rf6 3.d8N mate
1...Rfe8+ 2.Nfxe8+ Nxh6 3.Rd6 mate

65. 11 June: Keres - Botvinnik ctd.

Referring to items 42 and 50 in this Diary, Ken Whyld wrote me: "Keres told me in private, when he was my guest in Nottingham, that he was not ordered to lose those games to Botvinnik, and was not playing to lose. But he had been given a broader instruction that if Botvinnik failed to become World Champion, it must not be the fault of Keres."

64. 27 May: Raymond Weinstein in Amsterdam

A few years ago, Sam Sloan posted a moving story on and on his own website about how he had found Raymond Weinstein, a great American chess hopeful of around 1960, who had disappeared from chess, and from the world it seemed, after the US Championship of 1963/64. Weinstein turned out to have killed a man in 1964, and had been confined to a mental institution ever since. For more details, see Sloan's stories on  his site, I have found Raymond Weinstein, and Getting Raymond Weinstein out of jail.
    When I contacted Sloan to ask him if he knew anything about Weinstein's episode in Amsterdam, he replied: 'I have heard that he assaulted somebody and got into trouble over there and had to be rushed back to the USA, where he got into even more trouble.'
    That was indeed the footnote I wanted to add to the Weinstein story.
    In the early sixties, in the Amsterdam chess café which was then still on Leidseplein, I met a nice American guy of around twenty with incredibly thick glasses: Raymond Weinstein. He was already a celebrity in chess; had been third in the US Championship at 18, had played for the US Olympiad team, and had won the student's World Team Championship with the US - he was a future top level grandmaster.
    I don't think I ever played chess with him and I also don't remember him coming to the chess café very often - but we did talk a few times there, and I clearly remember that one time I brought him, on the back seat of my scooter, from the chess café to some other place in Amsterdam, and that he didn't seem at ease with my style of riding.
    He was not in Amsterdam for chess, but to study psychology; he wanted to be a psychiatrist. He was in contact here with Johan Barendregt, who was both a psychology professor and an international chessmaster, and whose name lives on in chess mainly for his 5.0-0 in the Exchange Variation of the Ruy Lopez. Weinstein stayed with Barendregt for a while - perhaps I brought him there that time.
    One day, there was a rumor at the chess café that Weinstein had tried to kill Barendregt. He had become mad at something and had attacked Barendregt with a weapon; Barendregt had been injured, but had been able to ward off Weinstein. We didn't see Weinstein any more after that.
    Several chessplayers in Amsterdam remember that story, but nobody remembers details. Barendregt died in 1982. One chess friend, also a psychologist, who had been friendly with Weinstein in 1960 in Leningrad at that Students Olympiad which the US had won, had found him quite paranoid there already. Weinstein was hot-tempered, always felt treated badly, and accused my friend of double-crossing him for buying Russian chessbooks that Weinstein had wanted to buy himself.
    This friend also remembers that after the Barendregt-incident, Weinstein was institutionalized briefly in Amsterdam. He was brought back to the US where indeed, he got into even worse trouble. To the chessworld at the time, he had vanished. There were rumors, but it was over 30 years before Sloan found out what had really happened to Raymond Weinstein.

63. 17 May: A little contest with prizes

I'm offering prizes, at least one copy of my book 'Chess Curiosities' (more if I like the entries), for ideas as to what this diagram could be about. If you know it, you can still compete: any idea, comment, analysis, opinion or story about this diagram is eligible.
    Entries by email, before 1 July.
    I'll publish the most interesting entries here in the beginning of July.

62. 10 May: Steel King goes all the way.

A game from the recent Dutch junior championship.

Van Ruitenburg - Castellani, ch-NED U20, Leiden 2000
1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 Ne4 3.Bh4 c5 4.f3 g5 5.fxe4 gxh4 6.e3 Bh6 7.Kf2 Qb6 8.Nc3 e6 9.Nf3 d6 10.e5 Nc6 11.Ne4 Bxe3+ 12.Kxe3 cxd4+ 13.Kf4 dxe5+ 14.Nxe5 Nxe5 15.Kxe5 f5 16.Qh5+ Kd7 17.Qf7+ Kc6 18.a4 a6 19.Qe7 Rd8 20.b4 Rd5+ (See Diagram) 21.Kf6 Bd7 22.b5+ axb5 23.axb5+ Kc7 24.Rxa8 e5+ 25.Kg7 Qg6+ 26.Kh8 fxe4 27.Bc4 and Black resigned. Compare item 56 below.

61. 22 April: Computers can't play chess.

A little while ago, I wrote that computers can't play chess. (See item 59 below.) That was a little provocative, but it was also true. How true, was demonstrated in a very funny way in the April issue of EG, the endgame studies magazine.
    In the position on the left, somebody who has just learned chess might play Qxf4+, winning another pawn. Anybody with any experience would play 1.Kb2 and 6.Q mates. Hiarcs 7.32 however, one of the strongest chess programs in the world, plays 1.Qf7+. The reason is that it comes with a set of five-man endgame databases, including King and two pawns vs. King and pawn. And Hiarcs does not look for the quickest mate, but for the quickest way to a winnable endgame in its databases. It's mate in 25 after 1.Qf7+, you see.
    He'd rather look something up than think - how human.

© Tim Krabbé, 1999, 2000

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