"My opponent left a glass of whisky 'en prise' and I took it 'en passant". - Henry Blackburne | SINCE 2007

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Chess trivia part one

Apart from chess being an over the board game, so many other sideshows sometimes outweigh the game itself. Just like life, chess, has its own sweet, bitter, sad, funny and happy sides. This trivia make chess such a sweet game to enjoy. Presented below are some of the most famous trivia, hope you will enjoy. If you have any more feel free to email me.

Adams, Weaver (1901-1963): US master who won the US Open in 1948. In 1939 he wrote a book entitled, White to Play and Win. After publication he played a tournament in Dallas. He lost all his games as White and won all his games as Black!

Ajeeb: The name of the chess automaton built by Charles Hopper, a Bristol cabinet-maker, in 1865. The life-size Indian figure was operated by several chess and checker masters. One opponent shot at Ajeeb after losing a game, wounding the operator. One of the operators of Ajeeb was chess and checker master Constant Ferdinand Burille. During his years as operator, he played over 900 games of chess and only lost 3 games. He never lost a single checker game. Pillsbury was its hidden operator from 1898 to 1904. When Ajeeb was on display in New York at the Eden Musee, it played checkers for a dime and chess for a quarter. Opponents included Theodore Roosevelt, Houdini, Admiral Dewey, O. Henry and Sarah Bernhardt. Ajeeb was 10 feet high. Ajeeb was first exhibited at the Royal Polytechnical Institute in London in 1868. It was lodged at the Crystal Palace between 1868 to the Royal Aquarium at Westminster until 1877. It was then taken to Berlin where over 100,000 saw it in three months. It came to New York in 1885. It was destroyed by fire at Coney Island in 1929. Charles Barker, US checkers champion, also worked

Ajeeb, never losing a single game.

Alladin: The strongest chessplayer at the end of the 14th century. He was also known as Ali Shatrangi (Ali the Chessplayer). He could successfully give odds to all other leading players. He was Chinese and a lawyer.

Art: There are at least 20 paintings called “Checkmate.”

Averbakh, Yuri (1922- ): Endgame expert and grandmaster who did not know

about the proper rule of castling while playing in an international tournament. He was the Soviet Chess Federation president from 1972 to 1977. His daughter married

Grandmaster Mark Taimanov.

Bernstein, Ossip (1882-1962): In 1918 Ossip Bernstein was arrested in Odessa by the Cheka and ordered shot by a firing squad just because he was a legal advisor to bankers. As the firing squad lined up, a superior officer asked to see the list of prisoners’ names. Discovering the name of Ossip Bernstein, he asked whether he was the famous master. Not satisfied with Bernstein’s affirmative reply, he made him play a game with him. If Bernstein lost or drew, he would be shot. Bernstein won in short order and was released. He escaped on a British ship and settled in Paris. Bernstein’s son was President Eisenhower’s official interpreter because he spoke almost every European language. At age 74, he was still playing in international tournaments.

Blackburne, Joseph Henry (1841-1924): His nickname was the Black Death, given to him by a comment in the tournament book of Vienna 1873. He was also known for his temper. After losing to Steinitz in a match, he threw him out of a window. Luckily for Steinitz that they were on the first floor. He was once arrested

as a spy because he sent chess moves in the mail and it was thought the the moves were coded secrets. He tied for first in the British Championship of 1914 at the age of 72. During a simultaneous exhibition at Cambridge University, the students thought to gain the advantage by placing a bottle of whisky and a glass at each end

of the playing oval. In the end he emptied both bottles and won all his games in record time. During the temperance movement in England he declared that whisky

drinking improved one’s chess because alcohol cleared the brain and he tried to prove that theory as often as possible. It is estimated he played 100,000 games of chess in his career.

Blathy, Otto (1860-1939): Credited for creating the longest chess problem, mate in 290 moves.

Bogoljubov, Efim (1889-1952): Attributed to this famous saying “When I’m White I win because I’m White. When I’m Black I win because I’m Bogoljubov.” Once spent over two hours over his 24th move against Steiner, Berlin 1928, and then chose a move that lost a piece.

Budget: The annual FIDE budget is $150,000. The annual chess budget of the Russian Chess Federation is $175 million.

Capture: The longest delay of a capture of a piece or pawn is 57 moves, played by Chajes-Grunfeld, Carlsbad 1923. The game took over 15 hours and lasted 121 moves.

Castling: As late as 1561 castling was two moves. You had to play Re1 on one move and Kg1 on the next move. The longest delayed castling is believed to be in the game Bobotsov-Ivkov, 1966 when White castled on the 46th move.

Check: Up until the early 20th century, it was mandatory to announce a check. Up until the late 19th century, it was mandatory to say ‘check to the queen’ or ‘gardez’ when she was attacked. At one time, if the King and other piece were simultaneously attacked by a piece, it was customary

to announce the fact by saying check to both pieces. Up until the early 19th century, an unnanounced check could be ignored. In 1969 in Tallinn, the Westerinen-Tal game had 38 checks in a row.

Column, Chess: The first newspaper chess column was that in the Liverpool Mercury in 1813. The oldest column still in existence is that of the Illustrated London News, which first appeared in 1842. The first American chess column appeared in 1845 in the New York Spirit of the Times.

Consecutive Moves: There were 72 consecutive Queen Moves in the Mason-

Mackenzie game at London in 1882.

Death of Chessplayers: Georgy Agzamov (1954-1986) died after falling down between two rocks at a beach. Curt Von Bardeleben (1861-1924) committed suicide by jumping out of an upper window of his boarding home. Efim Bogoljobov (1889-1952) died of a heart attack after a simultaneous exhibition. Jose Capablanca (1888-1942) died of a stroke after watching a skittles game at the Manhattan Chess

Club. Edgar Colle (1897-1932) died after an operation for a gastric ulcer. Nikolai Grigoriev (1895-1938) died after an operation for appendicitis. George Mackenzie (1837-1891) died after an overdose of morphine. Frank Marshall (1877-1944) died of a heart attack after leaving a chess tournament in Jersey City. Johannes Minckwitz (1843-1901) committed suicide by throwing himself in front of a train. Paul Morphy (1837-1884) died of a stroke while taking a cold bath. Harry Pillsbury (1872-1906) died of syphillis. Nicholas Rossolimo (1910-1975) died of head injuries after falling down a flight of stairs in Manhattan. Pierre Saint-Amant (1800-1872) died after falling from a horse and carriage. Carl Schlechter (1874-1918) died from pneumonia and starvation. Vladimir Simagin (1919-1968) died of a heart attack while playing in a chess tournament. Herman Steiner (1905-1955) died of a heart attack after a game from the California State Championship. Frederick Yates (1884-1932) died in his sleep from a leak in a faulty gas pipe connection. Alexander Zaitsev died of thrombosis after a minor operation to remedy a limp by having one leg lengthened. Johann Zukertort (1842-1888) died of a stroke while playing chess at a London coffee house.

Dice: Dice were used between the 10th and 14th century to determine

Which piece should be moved.

Divorce: In 1963 a wife of a chessplayer in Milan filed for divorce because he was so obsessed with chess that he refused to work and support their two children. The court ruled that Mrs. Edvige Ruinstein was entitled to a separation from her husband.

Chess Trivia 86

Einstein, Albert: Albert Einstein was a good friend of World Chess Champion

Emanual Lasker. In an interview with the New York Times in 1936 Albert said, “I do not play any games. There is no time for it. When I get through work I don’t want anything which requires the working of the mind.” He did take up chess in his later life.

Endgame: The maximum number of moves required to deliver mate from the worst possible starting position are as follows: Rook and Bishop vs. two Knights - 223 moves; Queen vs.two Bishops - 71 moves; Queen and Rook vs. Queen – 67 moves; two Bishops vs. Knight - 66 moves; Queen vs.two Knights - 63 moves; Rook and Bishop vs. Rook – 59 moves.

Exchequer, Chancellor of the: British finance minister. The title came from counting out money on a chequer-board used for chess. In 1080 the Normans named their financial departments of State l’excheiquier after the chessboard, which was used as a form of abacus.

Fischer, Robert (1943- ): The youngest American chess champion ever (14), the

second youngest grandmaster ever (15 years, 6 months, 1 day), and the youngest Candidate for the World Championship ever (15). Fischer once withdrew from a chess tournament because a woman was playing in the event (she was Lisa Lane and U.S. woman champion). His I.Q. has been recorded to be over 180. He received $3.65 million for defeating Spassky in the Fischer-Spassky II match in Yugoslavia in 1992. In 1962 he boasted, “Women are weakies. I can give Knight odds to any

woman in the world!” His performance rating against Larsen in 1971 was 3060 after a 6-0 victory. In 1970 he won the Blitz Tournament of the Century in Herceg

Novi, Yugoslavia by a score of 19 out of 22. After the tournament he called off from memory the moves of all his 22 games, involving more that 1,000 moves. In 1981

he was arrested in Pasadena under suspicion of bank robbing. He later wrote of this incident in a book entitled, I Was Tortured in the Pasadena Jailhouse.

Grandmaster: First used in connection with chess as a player of highest class in 1838. The title of grandmaster was first used in 1907 at the Ostend tournament. In 1914, Nicholas II, the Czar of Russia, conferred the title ‘Grandmaster of Chess’ on Emanuel Lasker, Alekhine, Capablanca, Tarrasch, and Marshall after they took the top 5 places in the St. Petersburg tournament. These are the five original Grandmasters. In 1950 FIDE awarded 27 players the first official Grandmaster title. These players were: Bernstein, Boleslavsky, Bondarevsky, Botvinnik, Bronstein, Duras, Euwe, Fine, Flohr, Grunfeld, Keres, Kostic, Kotov, Levenfish, Lilienthal, Maroczy, Mieses, Najdorf, Ragozin, Reshevsky, Rubinstein, Samisch, Smyslov,

Stahlberg, Szabo, Tartakower, and Vidmar. In the 1960s the United States had more Grandmasters than International Masters. In 1998 there were 565 Grandmasters in

the world, 5 with the honorary GM title, and 102 women GMs.

Grundy, James (1855-1919): Responsible for the most infamous scandal in U.S. championship history. Grundy needed a win in the last round to tie for first place at the 5th American Chess Congress in 1880. Grundy bribed his opponent, Preston Ware, $20 during the game to let Ware’s advantage slip into a draw so that Grundy could make sure of second place. When Ware agreed and took the money, Grundy tricked him and played for a win which he did.

Huon of Bordeaux: A romance written around 1200 describing a servant who

plays chess against a princess for her hand in marriage. If he loses the game, he loses his head. She finally lets him win.

Ivan the Terrible (1530-1584): Keen chessplayer who died while playing chess.

J’adoubovic: Nickname of Milan Matulovic. He took a losing move back against Bilek at the 1967 Sousse interzonal, saying “j’adoube” after he took the move back. He got away with it.

Janowski, David (1868-1927): Chess master and addicted gambler. In 1901 he won an international tournament at Monte Carlo and lost all his first place money in the casino the same evening the tournament ended. The casino management had to buy his ticket home.

Kasparov-Karpov matches: After five world championship matches, Kasparov and

Karpov have played 144 games with Kasparov leading 73-71 overall (21 wins, 19 losses, and 104 draws).

Kholmov, Ratmir (1925- ): This grandmaster was once suspended for a year from

Tournament play because of conduct unbefitting a chess master (he was drunk).

Lasker, Emanuel (1868-1941): Lasker took first place at Breslau in 1889 by accident. Another competitor, needing a draw or win for first place, had a won adjourned game. After adjournment he lost. It was later discovered that one of his pawns was knocked off the board between sealing and resumption of the game, which would have given him the winning advantage. As a result Lasker, who was considering giving up chess, won the event and the title of national master. Five years later he was world champion. He once tried to breed pigeons for poultry shows. He tried for many months and failed. He learned later that all the pigeons

were male. Between 1901 and 1914 he played in only three tournaments. In 1908 he married at the age of 48 and became husband, father, and grandfather all at once. His wife, a few years older than he, was already a grandmother. He tried to have the tournament rules changes for the older player at the international level. He proposed that play should be stopped after 2 hours for a half hour adjournment. His theory was that gentle exercises or turning to other thoughts for awhile would reinvigorate the older brain. During World War I he invested his life savings in German war bonds and lost it all. He wrote a book declaring that Germany had to win World War I if civilization was to be saved. His Ph.D. dissertation of 1902 on ideal numbers became a cornerstone of 20th century algebra. He believed that one of his opponents, Tarrasch, had hypnotic powers and wanted to play him in a separate room. Lasker’s older brother, Berthold, won the New York State chess championship in 1902.

Lenin, Vladimir: An avid chessplayer who used “Karpov” as one of his

pseudonyms during his exile.

Longest Games: The longest chess game is 269 moves (I. Nikolic -Arsovic, Belgrade 1989) which ended in a draw. The lon-gest won game for White is 193 moves (Stepak -Mashian, Israeli Championship 1980). The longest won game for Black is 161 moves (Duras - Janowski, San Sebastion 1911). Chess Trivia 159

Losers: The worst loss by a player was Macleod of Canada who lost 31 games in the New York double-round robin of 1889. Col. Moreau lost all 26 games at the Monte Carlo tournament in 1903.



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