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The 1907 World Chess Championship, Memphis TN

Did you know that in 1907 the World Chess Championship was held in Memphis, TN? The contenders for the title were Dr. Emmanuel Lasker the reigning World Chess Champion and the contender was Frank Marshall. Here you will find a review of the event.

http://www.chesscentral.com//1907_World_Chess_Championship_a/530.htm

Recognition for the research and presentation of this article goes out to Frank Wranovix and Dwight Weaver. Also, to leave comments on this article and for more on Memphis, TN chess history, go to: http://memphischessclub.blogspot.com/2014/04/world-chess-championship-in.html)

The Queen’s Gambit Declined, Semi-Grunfeld

We know from chess openings like the Grunfeld Defense (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5) that Black may control the center with pieces instead of pawns. But what about the Grunfeld’s poor cousin, 1.d4 d5 2.c4 g6, clearly a member of this hypermodern family? The first issue of Kamikaze Times (November, 2002) called this line the “Alekhine Defense” against the Queen’s Gambit. Alekhine did play this opening, but the editor correctly notes that Blackburne takes precedence. Unusual and seldom seen, there is not much theory to learn nor many games to consult; those who enjoy offbeat chess openings may investigate further. First we have Blackburne at work:

http://www.chesscentral.com/Chess_Knowledge_Base_a/518.htm

The Steinitz Gambit

Check out Kevin Butler’s new chess video introduction to the Steinitz Gambit, covering the important ideas underlying this wild chess opening! After 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.f4 exf4 4.d4 Qh4+ 5.Ke2 the White King is perfectly comfortable behind his strong central pawns, and the monarch even plans on better placement in case of any endgame. Very bold! Kevin’s video explains what’s going on, and shows how you can use the fighting King in your chess openings.

 

Chess Players – Starting Early, Staying Positive

A group of children in southwest Philadelphia are using chess to stay positive and avoid violence in their city. Will any of them be the next chess prodigies?

Check out this CNN video story where everyone wins:

 

In the Digital Age, More Chess Prodigies?

Here at ChessCentral, we feel that the growing number of young Grandmasters is the result of access to strong chess computers and chess software used for training. We remember the days of stacks of books, of studying each game page by page, and hoping that our chess analysis was right because there was no way to verify our conclusions.

The question of who is a chess prodigy may need to be rethought because there are many more elite young players than there once were.

At the Reykjavik Open in Iceland, which ended Wednesday, Wei Yi, a 13-year-old from China, completed the requirements for the Grandmaster title. In doing so, he became the fourth-youngest Grandmaster ever.

It is a remarkable accomplishment, but not as remarkable as it once was. After Bobby Fischer became a Grandmaster at 15 in 1958, breaking the old record by three years, it was 1991 before Judit Polgar bettered his mark.

Read more

A Discarded Chess Opening

Chess opening variations are subject to fashion, or rather periods of intense examination, as players explore sub-systems of popular ways to start a chess game. Naturally certain methods of playing chess openings recede into the theoretical background, perhaps for decades – perhaps never to be seen in Master practice again. In the case of Bird’s Opening with 1.f4 we find one such example in Lasker’s variation of From’s gambit, arising after 1.f4 e5 2.fxe5 d6 3.exd6 Bxd6 4.Nf3 g5, an attacking idea introduced by world chess champion Em. Lasker. Here almost complete attention is focused on 5.d4 and 5.g3 for White, with thousands of chess games available for our perusal. But what about the sneaky little move 5.c3, invented by Henry Bird himself?


A mere handful of chess games exist featuring this continuation – probably because Bird lost horribly when he played 5.c3 against Isidor Gunsberg in their Hastings 1892 game. Several more rapid defeats for White ensued, and the whole line was quickly forgotten. However, a few recent internet blitz games show that Bird’s idea is worth a second look, and several hundred hours of computer assisted analysis confirm that 5.c3 is not only playable but may be as good as other White continuations. So let’s survey this – what to name it? – Bird’s Defense to Lasker’s Attack in the From’s Gambit variation of Bird’s Opening!

We called 5.c3 “sneaky” because it’s based on a trick of sorts. After 5…g4 (natural and best) White plays 6.Qa4+, thinking to make a place for his King when his Knight moves and he has to face the nasty …Qh4+ attack. The main sequence of moves, then, is 5.c3 g4 6.Qa4+ Nc6 7.Nd4 Qh4+ at which point Bird’s original 8.Kd1 gives us the following weird chess position:


Now the fun really starts, as Black tries to prove that his pawn minus was well invested. And unless Black plays one key move right now (the move Gunsberg played here) White has no problems at all, usually going 9.Nb5 next. Furthermore, even if Black plays exactly White has apparently the resources to meet any threat. But what is Black’s best try now, on his eighth move? While you work on that chess puzzle, consider that White can also choose a gambit of his own – instead of 8.Kd1 in the diagram above he can play 8.g3 instead:


This sacrifice is a recent invention never imagined by Henry Bird. Black is forced to go in for 8…Bxg3+ 9.hxg3 Qxh1, and when White continues 10.Nb5 the second player has nothing better than 10…Kf8 11.Nxc7 Rb8 to save his Rook. In the end White has a pawn for the Exchange, the Bishop pair and a compact central pawn structure. It is White’s move, in addition, but is all that enough compensation?

Chess players who like gambit play will want to consider these positions in more detail. Extra suggestions and ideas in this chess opening can be found here at the Free Chess Area, and a free chess download with games and plenty of analysis and commentary is available to ChessCentral Members; it’s easy to join, free to use and full of great chess downloads and articles. Those players who want to know more about Bird’s Opening should click here for the Big Bird PowerBase, the most complete resource on this interesting chess opening.

Until next time!

Chess on Reality TV

The game of chess has seen a number of attempts to make it on television, the best being The Master Game which ran on BBC from 1976 to 1982. Good, solid chess entertainment and instruction. Today we learn of a new TV series called American Chess Star featuring chess bitch Jennifer Shahade among others – a show aiming to compete in the crowded television “reality” genre. Apparently the show’s host will conduct players through several challenges, producing a winner. After watching the trailer below one might think the whole thing a hoax; after all, the atmosphere feels like a cross between Blue’s Clues and Pee Wee’s Playhouse. But the show is produced by the Xtreme Chess Champs, a group which certainly exists on Facebook and Twitter. Make up your own mind, but we rather hope this project confines itself to a series of obscure web episodes, the better to limit the embarrassment of all chess players.