Great chess quotes

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  • Re: Great chess quotes

    "Fischer's both strong and weak point is that he remains true to himself, and plays the same way regardless of his partners or any external factor." :)
    [World champion GM Mikhail Botvinnik, commenting on the 16-year-old Bobby Fischer, immediately following the 1959 Candidates tournament in Yugoslavia.]


    • Re: Great chess quotes

      "Petrosian likes to play cat-and-mouse, hoping his opponents will go wrong in the absence of a direct threat. The amazing thing is, they usually do!" :)

      [GM Bobby Fischer, World Champion to be 1972-1975, commenting on the playing style of GM Tigran Petrosian, World Champion-to-be 1963-1969, in his notes to the game Petrosian vs. Fischer, Portoroz Interzonal 1958, from his great book "My 60 Memorable Games", Simon and Schuster 1969.]


      • Re: Great chess quotes

        Great Chess Quotes

        December 30, 2015

        Three chess quiz questions

        These questions appeared as a bonus on the University Challenge Christmas Show on the BBC.

        The show in its entirety can be seen at:

        and these questions start at about 14:00

        The questions on checkmates in chess:

        1. Scholar’s Mate is a checkmate that may often catch out a beginner, and always results in a win after how many moves?

        2. Also known as Philidor’s Legacy, what term describes a checkmate by knight against a king that has all of its escape squares blocked by its own pieces? The term suggests being surrounded and unable to breathe.

        3. And finally, Anastasia’s mate and Arabian mate most commonly involve which two pieces working in tandem to checkmate the opposing king?


        1. Four. It’s also known as the four-move checkmate. Involving a queen with a bishop, checkmating the opposing king

        2. A smothered mate

        3. A knight and a rook

        The four-man team from the London School of Economics got them all wrong


        • Re: Great chess quotes

          "When you have the advantage and your opponent has a passive position, do not hurry matters. With every move, the likelihood of a mistake by the defending side increases."
          (J.R. Capablanca's advice to Mikhail Botvinnik, delivered in the 1930s.)


          • Re: Great chess quotes

            Great Chess Quotes

            January 5, 2016

            The absolute worst result in a simultaneous exhibition was two wins and 18 losses (10%) by Joe Hayden, aged 17, in August 1977. Hayden wanted to set an American record by playing 180 people simultaneously at a shopping center in Cardiff, New Jersey, but only 20 showed up to play. Hayden lost 18 of the games (including one to a seven-year-old). His two wins were scored against his mother and a player who tired of waiting and left in mid-game, thus forfeiting the game.



            • Re: Great chess quotes

              "How can Botvinnik be World Champion? He has never played me!" :)

              [Mikhail Tal in 1948, as a 12-year-old fourth category player, upon receiving news that Mikhail Botvinnik had won the World Championship Match-Tournament. The tale is related in Tal's great book "The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal" (originally RHM 1975, then republished by Everyman Chess some 25 years later). Of course, when Tal did get his chance to face Botvinnik in 1960 for the World title, never having met him over the board before, and by then a 23-year-old GM, he made good by winning the match 12.5-8.5, but then lost the rematch 13-8 a year later.]


              • Re: Great chess quotes

                "Castling Queenside is a risk Black's insurance company would not permit him to take!" :)

                [GM Robert Byrne, commenting on the game Fischer -- Najdorf, Santa Monica 1966, won by Fischer. I'd first read this in 1971, when I bought the book 'My 60 Memorable Games", and chuckled then, but didn't really understand the joke fully until I learned that GM Miguel Najdorf had built a very successful insurance business in Argentina, in partnership with GM Carlos Guimard!! This additional knowledge was related by GM Arnold Denker and Larry Parr in their book "The Bobby Fischer I Knew And Other Stories" (Hypermodern Press, 1995, chapter on Najdorf)!


                • Re: Great chess quotes

                  Great Chess Quotes

                  January 12, 2016

                  Two chess poems by Warren James

                  Beginner’s Luck
                  By Warren H. James, Fox Lake, Ill.

                  Center has crumbled;
                  Queen’s flank is weak.
                  King-side is jumbled;
                  Outlook is bleak.

                  My king is reeling
                  From his attack.
                  White has no feeling –
                  I’m playing Black!

                  Passed-pawn advances
                  Hasten the end;
                  Gone are his chances!!
                  “Stalemate, my friend!”

                  Canadian Chess Chat, June-July 1953

                  Checkers May Be Easier
                  By Warren H. James, Fox Lake, Ill.

                  I castle “long”-
                  The move is wrong.
                  I “sac” a knight –
                  It isn’t right.
                  I move a rook –
                  It isn’t book.
                  I set a trap –
                  He lets it snap:
                  I get his queen
                  (But haven’t seen
                  Unkindest fate;
                  My own checkmate).

                  Canadian Chess Chat, October 1953


                  • Re: Great chess quotes

                    Great Chess Quotes

                    January 14, 2016

                    Sam Sloan is one of the great characters of the chess world. I first read his opinions in a newsgroup called I couldn’t take all the controversy Sam generated and left it ten years ago. I have checked and Sam Sloan is still posting. His latest is a review of Pawn Sacrifice as a close friend of Bobby Fischer.

                    He says this: “The movie was wonderful, marvelous. It brought tears to my eyes. I had no idea it would be so good. It accurately depicted the turmoil going on within Fischer and the turmoil going on outside of him while he was on his way to the World Championship.”


                    Sam Sloan (b. 1944) worked as an investment banker and now is a publisher of mainly chess books at the Ishi Press. He has served on the executive board of the USCF.


                    He was a presidential candidate in 2012 and is one in 2016, running as a Democrat. I have read some of his comments and they actually make sense:


                    I don’t like to mix politics and chess but one comment amused me.

                    There has been talk of building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico to keep out immigrants. I have heard something of a wall between the U.S. and Canada. Sam’s take on the former:

                    I want to address what I call the idiot factor among some of the other candidates. For example there is one candidate who wants to build a wall between the United States and Mexico. Perhaps he never took geography in high school and does not even know that the border between the US and Mexico is mostly a river. Does he want to build his wall on this side of the river, on their side of the river or in the middle of the river? Since the people of both countries need to use that river, how will he solve that problem?


                    Wonderful stuff!

                    And a Donald Trump - Sam Sloan final contest? Words fail me.


                    • Re: Great chess quotes

                      Great Chess Quotes

                      January 18, 2016

                      I have been reading Jan Hein Donner’s “The King” lately to find an ode he wrote to the a-pawn.

                      There is an amusing piece in it entitled “Bobby and I”.

                      Bobby Fischer wrote an article about the Ten Greatest Chess Masters in History for Frank Brady’s Chessworld (1964). The Masters were Staunton, Tchigorin, Morphy, Steinitz, Reshevsky, Alekhine, Tarrasch, Capablanca, Tal and Spassky.

                      So, Lasker isn’t on the list. What can you do?

                      The article was reprinted in Elsevier’s Magazine.

                      What did the irrepressible Donner have to say about the list? Was it that Lasker, Euwe or Botvinnik were missing from it…?

                      Bobby and I

                      With Bobby Fischer’s view that chess is not about incidental points and titles, I fully agree. All the more reason for me to be unpleasantly struck by the fact that the young fellow displays such clear insight only in this one respect. For when he lists the ten greatest chess artists of all times, he seems to overlook me completely!

                      There is something mysterious about this one-sided giftedness!

                      Or could there be some evil intent? Apart from the many things that Bobby has got going for him, it should be pointed out that he can be a bit jealous at times. He probably has not overlooked me at all. No, he has omitted me on purpose. What is more, I have the distinct impression that he has only given his views in order not to mention me!

                      I don't understand why Elsevier’s, a quality magazine after all, decided to publish his article. To list such dunces as Chigorin and Steinitz but to omit me – how dare he, the little brat!

                      Elsevier’s Weekblad 27 June 1964
                      Last edited by Wayne Komer; Tuesday, 19th January, 2016, 12:27 AM.


                      • Re: Great chess quotes

                        Great Chess Quotes

                        January 26, 2016

                        One of the great recreational mathematicians of the twentieth century was James Alston Hope Hunter (1902-1986), known as J. A. H. Hunter. He was the inventor of alphametics and there was a daily mathematical puzzle of his in the Toronto Globe and Mail in the ‘50s and ‘60s, which often drove people to distraction, trying to solve it before starting the day’s work.

                        He sent a chess anecdote to Moe Moss, which was quoted in the February, 1966 issue of Canadian Chess Chat:

                        J.A.H. Hunter, author of “Fun with Figures”, sent in a note relating to a rather amusing incident concerning chess problems. “My father,” he wrote, “was an ardent chess enthusiast, near to championship standard. In his heyday, about 1900-1910, the rule regarding pawn promotion read: ‘When a pawn reaches the opponent’s last rank, it must be changed for another piece, either Queen, Rook, Bishop or Knight’.

                        Quite correct, apparently, but it didn’t specify that the Pawn must be exchanged for a piece of the same colour!

                        Whilst in an impish mood, my father evolved a problem which was published somewhere, the solution depending on the conversion of the White pawn into a Black piece, thereby leading to mate. This caused quite a furore in chess circles, and it appears that soon after, the wording of the rule was changed.

                        I thought your readers might like this little chess story.”


                        • Re: Great chess quotes

                          Great Chess Quotes

                          January 27, 2016

                          Commenting on the game Wei Yi – David Navara in Round Nine of Tata Steel 2016, Jan Gustafsson related this incident:

                          I once offered him (David Navara) a draw... and he declined, as he should have, but he didn't just decline - he said, "I am very sorry, Grandmaster Gustafsson, but if you don't mind too much I would like to continue the game for a little bit", which is the politest turning down of a draw offer I've ever received!

                          Last edited by Wayne Komer; Tuesday, 19th July, 2016, 04:32 PM.


                          • Re: Great chess quotes

                            Great Chess Quotes

                            February 4, 2016

                            In an interview at Tradewise Gibraltar 2016, Swedish GM Nils Grandelius used the phrase, “The wheel is spinning but the hamster is dead!” to denote someone mechanically making the moves, though they are dead tired.

                            It has been used elsewhere as a derogatory expression to describe someone who is not very smart. Another source says, “It means the same thing as the lights are on but no one is home. Things are moving along but not accomplishing anything.”

                            Probably its use should be avoided to spare explanations!


                            • Re: Great chess quotes

                              Great Chess Quotes

                              February 9, 2016

                              David Navara (b. 1985)

                              After the last round of this year’s Tata Steel tournament, Fiona Steil-Antoni chatted with David Navara about chess and life. Extracts from that interview:

                              First of all, could you please introduce yourself to those people who might not know you so well. Where are you from and when did you start playing chess?

                              David Navara: I have been living in the Czech Republic all my life and I come from Prague. I’m 30 years old and I started playing chess at the age of six.

                              A lot of people know you speak a number of languages; how many?

                              Well I don’t know, it depends what it means to speak some language, but basically around five or six. When I was 15, I spoke just poor English and I knew some basic Russian. So I am very happy that I managed to improve my level. I became very interested in languages and it’s apparent that my English is far from perfect, but I can speak English and Russian fluently, my German, Polish and Spanish are significantly worse but still allow me to communicate somehow and my French is just on a basic level.

                              I wonder which are your favourite chess books? Did you like My 60 Memorable Games by Bobby Fischer?

                              If I should name three favourite chess books it would be Mister Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual, which is quite a good book and of which I am going to buy a new version in the near future. I also like ‘A Psychological Guide through the Chess Game’ by Czech FIDE Master Jiri Vesely. [Psychologický průvodce šachovou partií in its original title, but sadly the book was never translated to English. ]
                              He was an old player, but he was a very talented writer and it made for amusing reading. The third book is Bronstein’s opus on Zurich 1953. I read ‘My 60 Memorable Games’ and I think it’s a good book. The comments are not too long, but relatively exact. There are some inaccuracies, but not many, especially for that time. And Bobby Fischer was a great player for sure.

                              One comment I often noticed in the chat was people calling you a genius and comparing you with Ivanchuk. What do you think about that?

                              You also had some very big swings here in the tournament, for example when you played a brilliant game against Anish Giri and then lost to Hou Yifan the next day.

                              Yes, I think the comparison with grandmaster Ivanchuk is quite reasonable, but compared to him I’m a boring person with a limited opening repertoire and a poor level of chess. (laughs)

                              He is just a more talented chess player and a stronger one. When I was playing here for the first time in the B-Group in 2006, someone told me that I am the second Ivanchuk, but then another person replied: “No, he is Navara, he is not Ivanchuk! ”. (laughs) My form is not stable because I’m nervous at times and stability was never my forte.



                              • Re: Great chess quotes

                                Great Chess Quotes

                                February 17, 2016

                                The 2016/1 number of New in Chess is at hand.

                                Two quotes of interest:

                                Sir Terry Pratchett – ‘He hated games. They made the world look too simple. Chess, in particular, had always annoyed him. It was the dumb way the pawns went off and slaughtered their fellow pawns while the king lounged about doing nothing. If only the pawns would’ve united..the whole board could’ve been a republic in about a dozen moves.’

                                [The fantasy novelist from his book ‘Thud!’]

                                Yannick Pelletier (in his back-page profile)

                                What is the best thing that was ever said about chess?

                                ‘[Chess] is a foolish expedient for making idle people believe they are doing something very clever, when they are only wasting their time.’

                                George Bernard Shaw, The Irrational Knot