Great chess quotes

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  • Re: Great Chess Quotes

    Great Chess Quotes

    May 22, 2018

    Ohne Krawatte

    Just two words in this quote. It means “without a tie” in German. I always thought it was a description of being casual but it appears that it means much more.

    Bent Larsen had a monthly column in Kaissiber and in a little box in each column was this:


    “Ohne Krawatte”
    Unter diesem Motto gibt es raum für alle möglichen Ideen und Fragen. Die Leser von Kaissiber sind eingeladen, Bent Larsen direct zu schreiben

    Bent Larsen
    Dorrego 180
    RA-1640 Martinez
    Prov. de Buenos Aires

    Sie können den Brief in Deutsch abfassen


    The use of the two words has recently been explained in Edward Winter’s column in Chess Notes Nos. 10828 and 10835

    10828 - “Bent Larsen, the former world no. 3 in chess, has revealed that he would never wear a tie while playing because ‘less blood would get to his brain’.”

    10835 - Part of a contribution by Bent Larsen, entitled ‘Thoughts about chess in Buenos Aires, Winter 1990’, to his old grammar school’s jubilee book:

    ‘“You should not stop while the game is good. It is far too good for that.” Quoted from memory from a book by Knud Lundberg. Lundberg is the closest I have come to having an idol. After a national match there was a dinner with mandatory tie, so he ate elsewhere. Generally, I am not very dependent on other people’s ideas, but at an impressionable age I had the experience of Lundberg strengthening me in my own opinion of these scraps of cloth, whose apparent purpose is to restrict the flow of blood to an important part of the body. But as I have little confidence in violent revolutions, I have yielded at times. A hotel in Reykjavik on a Saturday night. The Munich Opera, a tournament opening in Puerto Rico. Searching my memory thoroughly, I think of an Interzonal in Mallorca during which I was installed in a hotel where I could have no supper without putting on a tie. I put up with that because during a tournament you should not let yourself become excited by such matters, as it would ruin your concentration. I also wear a tie for certain concerts at the Teatro Colón. Perhaps I should take it off during the interval.’

    Source: Aalborg Katedralskole 450 år (Aalborg, 1990), pages 146-147.


    • Re: Great Chess Quotes

      Great Chess Quotes

      May 24, 2018

      Nigel’s Behavior

      GM Nigel Short and FIDE Treasurer Prof. Dr. Adrian M. Siegel have been trading emails back and forth on the handling of FIDE’s money.

      Siegel is exasperated, but how to describe Nigel’s behavior in one sentence?

      This from Siegel’s FIDE letter of May 24, 2018

      “This notorious search for a putative mistake has the smack of a querulent behavior.”

      There it is, in a nutshell!


      • Re: Great Chess Quotes

        Great Chess Quotes

        May 31, 2018

        I have written before about GM Nicolas Rossolimo and the projected book of his brilliancy prizes:’s-Brilliancy-Prizes?highlight=rossolimo

        Today, Vlastimil Hort shared his memories of Rossolimo at chessbase:

        An excerpt:

        He was a French-American-Greek-Russian Grandmaster. But did he really have four passports he could use? His father Spiridon Rossolimo was Greek, his mother Xenia Nikolajewna was Russian. He was born February 28, 1910 in Kiev (Ukraine), and died July 24, 1975, after a tragic accident in New York.

        He won a lot of "Brilliancy Prizes", and should FIDE ever publish a world book of fine miniatures, his name should be in it.

        It is possible that he just prepared his chess memoirs for a book when I visited his studio. Unfortunately, this project was never finished. He copied all reports about his games in chess magazines, and then added light notes of his own, but the unfinished manuscript soon gathered dust in a box and was later lost.

        But the fate of a combined biography of him and his wife Vera Budakovich was even worse. His wife had written it in Russian, and the manuscript was finished, perfect, and ready for printing. A visitor of Rossolimo's "Chess Studio" offered to translate the manuscript into English and took the Russian original with him. However, the unknown "translator" was never seen again. Unfortunately, Rossolimo's wife Vera did not want to give this project another try. A pity! And there is little hope that the script will one day surface at a chess auction. Too bad, I would really have known more about the highs and lows of a chess relationship. Who, after all, was this mysterious X.Y.?


        • Great Chess Quotes

          June 16, 2018

          Why change your name?

          It is reported that the ancestors of Donald Trump changed their family name from the homelier “Drumpf” as long ago as the 17thcentury. Entertainers have changed their name to something more sellable: Woody Allen from Allan Konigsberg.

          People change their names because they dislike their current name or because they desire a less or more “ethnic” name.

          It might just be eccentricity…

          I think there are several chess players who have been known by two names in their career.

          The following comes from the obituary of Brian Hare in the English Chess Forum:

          [Brian Denman] - Brian Henry Hare died on 27th January 2018 at Brighton. He was born on 3rd June 1940 at Stroud and was therefore 77 years of age. From an early age he demonstrated good skills at chess and in 1957 he won the West of England Junior Championship. This was followed by his selection for the England under 18 team, which contested the Glorney Cup at Glasgow with Scotland, Ireland and Wales.

          He took part in chess congresses at Hastings in 1988, Eastbourne in 1990 and the Lloyds Bank Masters in London in 1993 under the name of H Ben Shannon. He was showing respect for his Irish grandmother, who came from Shannon and had helped him when he was learning the game. Also he preferred the name of Ben to Brian and most of his friends called him Ben.


          [David Sedgwick] - Prior to that, he used the name of Al Player for a few years. I played him at the Guernsey Festival in 1986. When I subsequently found out that Al Player wasn't his real name, I started to tell the story of the time I played a player who wasn't A Player.

          Hastings regulars may recall his flamboyant and eccentric appearances in the Commentary Room in the late 1990s and early 2000s.


          [Kevin Thurlow] - I recall playing at Hastings (probably 1988) and someone went up to him and said, "Hallo Brian", and he responded, "My name is Ben Shannon", there was then toing and froing of "You're Brian Hare!", "Oh no I'm not." etc. This caused much discussion amongst other players!

          He was obviously a character.



          [Gordon Cadden] - He may be a character, but it cannot be legal, giving false names. Nightmare for the Rating Officer.


          • Great Chess Quotes

            June 17, 2018

            Maurice Ashley in The City of Light

            Just arrived in Paris for the next stop of the Grand Chess Tour. Even without lights and no matter how many times one sees it, the Eiffel Tower will always (be) a star. Like Alicia Keys without makeup!



            • "Chess is the gymnasium of the mind." (Blaise Pascal, 1623-1662, French polymath -- he was a mathematician, physicist, engineer, political activist and writer, and Catholic theologian.)


              • Great Chess Quotes

                June 20, 2018

                Capablanca and Lasker at the board

                Isaac Kashdan’s recollection of New York 1924

                ‘The following remembrances from the 18-year-old Isaac Kashdan, typed on a water-damaged piece of paper found at the bottom of a box which was part of a donation made by his son Richard to the World Chess Hall of Fame, offers insights into the different tournament behavior of two of the greatest players of all time.’

                “I attended the sessions as often as I could, after classes at City College. Later I met all the contestants as my own chess career developed, and got to know some of them quite well. Capablanca was the idol of the spectators. The area in front of his table was always the most crowded. It seemed so easy for him. He spent much less time at the board than anyone else. When his opponent moved, Capablanca would sit down, rarely take more than a few minutes, make his move and get up. He had his cronies among the officials, and often went out of the enclosure to chat with friends. He was almost oblivious of the other players, hardly greeting them, and rarely socialized with any of them before or after a game.

                Lasker was the most intent, bending over and staring at the board as if to force the pieces to do his will. He would smoke several cigars during a game, making occasional efforts to keep the smoke away from his opponents. He was practically always at the board, observing his opponent while the latter was on the move. The cigars were the cheapest, most foul-smelling available. When someone offered Lasker a fine cigar, he would acknowledge it, place it in his breast pocket and hold it for leisurely enjoyment later. This was not a chess cigar.”


                Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter #831 June 15, 2018


                • "Pawns are born free, but are everywhere in chains." (GM Andrew Soltis, 1947--, American player and writer, from his book 'Pawn Structure Chess.' The line is a very clever play on a famous saying by the French 18th-century philosopher and political activist Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who wrote: 'Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains.'


                  • Great Chess Quotes

                    June 27, 2018

                    Cecil John Seddon Purdy (1906-1979), chess master and author, edited chess magazines in Australia, won the Australian Chess Championship four times and was also an international GM of correspondence chess. He wrote How Euwe Won (1936), The Return of Alekhine (1937) and How Fischer Won (1972). My two favorite works of his are an 8-page pamphlet Post-Mortem to Fischer-Spassky 1972 (1976) and Among These Mates (1939).

                    There is a poem by Robbie Burns written in 1789 that has as its first verse:

                    Hear, Land o' Cakes, and brither Scots,
                    Frae Maidenkirk to Johnie Groat's;-
                    If there's a hole in a' your coats,
                    I rede you tent it:
                    A chield's amang you takin notes,
                    And, faith, he'll prent it:

                    Purdy took the fifth line to mean an observer and used it for his pseudonym: Chielamangus.

                    He wrote a humorous and naïve description of chess in Among These Mates (by Chielamangus), which I now quote in part:

                    “Chess is a game played on a board of sixty-four squares between two players colored alternately black and white.”


                    “The object of the game is the mate of the opponent’s King, the word “mate” being derived from the old Persian “mat” or carpet. It is advisable for the player not to commit himself too soon as to the placing of his King, and until the beginner has “found his feet,” he would be well advised to seize an early opportunity of abstracting his King from the board (under cover of a demonstration on one of the wings) and to retain the piece in his pocket until the course of the game indicates a safe square on which to place it.

                    The Queen moves practically anywhere, within reasonable limits. Care should be taken never to exchange her for less than nine pawns.

                    The Rook, derived from the old Persian, “Rukh,” meaning an elephant, boat, or war-chariot, becomes deadly in the later stages and, in fact, is rather a bore throughout the game.

                    Two Bishops are appreciably stronger than one Bishop and should therefore be retained as long as possible.

                    The Knight’s move is very puzzling. It moves there and then there, or the same only backwards or sideways, and really all round.

                    The pawns are well called “the soul of the game,” since it is impossible for them to move backward. An attack, which should always be the student’s goal, should be begun by advancing pawns to break up the enemy position. At the same time, every pawn must be kept firmly on its original square as otherwise it creates weaknesses. The harmonious blending of these two fundamental rules of play is the hall-mark of the master player.

                    The opening of a game of chess is called the opening. The primary principle of opening play is not to move a piece twice before you have moved it once. This makes for rapid development, well called “the soul of the game.”

                    The player who completes his development first is said to have the initiative because he is thus able to start making blunders while his opponent is still occupied in bringing out his men. Other things being equal, this should involve the loss of the game for one of the players.

                    The exception occurs when the game is drawn. Either player may claim a draw on proving that fifty moves have been made three times in succession without anything happening, to speak of.

                    The next part is the middlegame, in which occur those beautiful combinations that are so well called “the soul of the game.”

                    After the middlegame comes the endgame. The art of the endgame is to recognize the moment it starts and then to rush the King into the middle of the board. If the player is able to create a general atmosphere of excitement at this stage and place his King carelessly on the front edge of a square, he may be able to move it two squares on the next move – thus gaining a vital tempo. The same principle applies to the queening of pawns. These tactics are particularly effective in “simultaneous exhibitions,” in which a player may make one move while the simultaneous player is touring the hall, and another when he returns to the board. Endgame play is often called “the soul of the game.”

                    Pawn-endings, so simple in appearance, are in reality extremely difficult. Much may be done, however, against an inexperienced opponent by constantly informing him that the is being maneuvered into a “zugzwang”. The moral effect of this cannot be overestimated, for if the opponent asks what the word means, he can be truthfully told that it is quite untranslatable. A young and impressionable player will often resign immediately.”


                    Philidor (1749) said that pawns are the soul of chess. Edward Winter has an article on other parts of the chess game which have been called the soul of chess.


                    Purdy uses “the soul of chess" remark four times here to humorous effect.


                    • Great Chess Quotes

                      June 30, 2018

                      From The Spectator, 20th September, 1957, page 24:

                      " “Dr. Stefan Fazekas came to England eighteen years ago from Czechoslovakia with two great ambitions: to master the English language and to win the British chess championship. This year at Plymouth he achieved the easier of the two ambitions — a performance as remarkable as it was unexpected since at the age of fifty-nine, he was easily the oldest competitor.

                      How did this happen? In the first place he had some luck in the draw. When the final round came he, Wade, Penrose and Clarke all had seven points and in the last round Penrose played Clarke, Wade played Alexander and Fazekas played Haygarth, so he had unquestionably the easiest final game, moreover, whereas Wade and Penrose played almost all the strongest players in the course of the tournament. Fazekas met neither Alexander nor Clarke. However, the champion often owes something to luck in one way or another, and what won the championship at, least as much was the winner's fighting spirit and determination — his final score of seven wins, 10 losses and only two draws reflects this.”"


                      That deals with Dr. F’s determination. Now, for William Winter’s eccentricity:

                      "William Winter was one of the more colorful players in British chess history. He won the British Open Championship in 1934 and the British Championship in 1935 and 1936. In his youth he was considered a child prodigy. A student of Tarrasch, his play was characterized by sound strategic play and he was strong enough to have defeated Bronstein, Nimzovich and Vidmar.

                      Poor health and poor tactical play was often his undoing. It was said that while he was strong enough to defeat the best players in the world on occasion, he was never strong enough to be one of them. Although he often played in top level tournaments, he usually finished near the bottom. Harry Golombek described his play as "classic, scientific and sober; away from the board, he was revolutionary, illogically moved by his emotions (he contrived to be both a fervent communist and a staunch patriot) and, more often than not, drunk." "




                      Now to put them both together for our quotable anecdote:

                      Leonard Barden:

                      “" Faz did have an over-optimistic approach to some endgames, notoriously against William Winter at Buxton 1950, where the position was heading for B and wrong colour RP v K late in the adjournment session when Faz refused a draw. Winter took umbrage and declared loudly "You can keep on trying to win this, Doctor Fazekas, until the cows come home. I'm off to the pub!"

                      Then he marched out to the pub a few doors away. He had plenty of clock time left, returned 20 minutes later, and banged down his king at h8. Faz still made a move or two, but a crowd gathered round the board, Winter continued to bang down his king, and Faz got the message.”"


                      (Historical British tournaments – entry Friday, April 20, 2018)


                      • "But, as can happen in a chess game, this change of tactics led to a wrong move, one that triggered an inexorable march toward checkmate." Carlo Feltrinelli -- "Senior Service", Granta publishers, London 2001, translated from the Italian by Alastair McEwan. The passage refers to Carlo's father Giangiacomo's work in publishing the book "Dr. Zhivago", by Boris Pasternak.


                        • Great Chess Quotes

                          July 5, 2018

                          As White, he always played the Grob, 1.g4 and always won.

                          Frank Szarka was the editor/publisher of Canadian Chess Chat from January 1975 to 1986. He played in the Canadian Opens - Calgary (1975), Toronto (1976) and Fredericton (1977). Comparatively little has been written about him.

                          See these:

                          [entry 11]




                          Bill Wall has a paragraph about him and game on his website:

                          Szarka, Frank J. - Editor of the Canadian Chess Chat. He was also the main organizer of the 1978 Canadian Open, held in Hamilton, Ontario. He won his class section in the 1975 World Class Championship, held in Vancouver, BC. After 5 rounds, Szarka and I were the only ones with a perfect score of 5-0. He then defeated me in round 6. He won with the score of 9.5-0.5. As White, he always played the Grob, 1.g4 and always won. He was originally from Yugoslavia and should have played in the master section.

                          Wall - Szarka, World Class Ch, Vancouver, BC 1975
                          (A23 English, Bremen System, Keres variation)
                          1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. g3 c6 4. Bg2 Be7 5. b3 O-O 6. Bb2 d6 7. e3 Re8 8. Nge2 Nbd7 9. O-O Rb8 10. Rc1 a6 11. Qc2 g6 12. Ne4 Nxe4 13. Bxe4 Nf6 14. Bg2 Bf5 15. d3 Rc8 16. Qd2 Qc7 17. h3 h5 18. Kh2 Nh7 19. Ng1 Qb8 20. Rc2 Rcd8 21. Bc1 d5 22. cxd5 cxd5 23. Re1? (23.Ne2) 23...h4 24. Bxd5?? (24...Kh1) e4 25. Qa5 b6 26. Bxf7+ Kxf7 27. Qxa6 hxg3+ 28. fxg3 exd3 29. Qc4+ Kf8 30. Rf2 Bd6 31. Rg2 Re4 32. Qc3 Kg8 33. Nf3 Bb4 0-1

                          From Chess Obituaries by Bill Wall



                          • "The integrated world is a three-level chessboard. The top level is military power, which is the exercise of 'hard' sovereign might. On the second level are economic relations between states, including international agreements and trade and financial regulation. The third level represents transnational relations that exist outside of state control." Bill Graham, former Canadian Cabinet minister (after a statement by Joseph Nye, American poltical scientist), from his excellent autobiography: "The Call of the World", 2016, p.131.


                            • Great Chess Quotes

                              July 18, 2018

                              Small Consolation

                              During the FIFA World Cup 2018, there was virtually no higher level chess tournaments. Everyone was watching the football.

                              France beat Croatia on July 15 and then it was all over.

                              This cri de coeur from Jeroen Van Den Berg on July 16

                              (Tweet) - No Football today, no Wimbledon today, no Tour de France today, no Dortmund Chess today.... However, we have the 4th round in Leiden, starting in 30 minutes!



                              • Great Chess Quotes

                                July 19, 2018

                                From Olimpiu G. Urcan on Patreon:

                                In his September 18, 1954 column on page 12 of the Hastings & St. Leonards Observer, Frank Arthur Rhoden (1906-1981) wrote the following under the headline

                                "The Spell of Capablanca":

                                My first sight of him [Capablanca] was at the great London 1922 Tournament; his opponent was the late Victor Wahltuch - one of the strongest players in England at the time. Capa was playing one of those deceptively simple-looking rook and pawn endings at which he excelled. An excited schoolboy, I was following the game on a rather inadequate pocket-board, the pieces of which had a tendency to slip through the slots. I got into a muddle with the position. Capa, who always left his board to walk round the hall when his move was made, looked over my shoulder and said: "Let me put the position right for you!"

                                I was enormously impressed by this friendly gesture of the champion of the world, as he was then and from that moment modelled my play on his. Somehow I didn't get the same results! Simple Capablanca chess is hard to play; it wasn't long before I realised that something was missing - the missing something was the spark of genius which animated Capablanca's play.

                                The game:

                                London 1922
                                London, ENG
                                Round 2, Aug. 1, 1922
                                Wahltuch, Victor Leonard –- Capablanca, Jose Raul
                                A46 Queen’s Pawn, Torre Attack

                                1.d4 { Notes by Geza Maroczy } 1...Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bg5 c5 4.Bxf6 { This exchange is not to be recommended, but Wahltuch is not fond of the well-known paths and treats the openings in a very original manner. } 4...Qxf6 5.e4 cxd4 6.Qxd4 Nc6 7.Qxf6 gxf6 8.c3 b6 9.Nbd2 Bb7 10.Bd3 Rc8 11.Nc4 { The knight is not well placed on c4; O-O was to be considered, the strength of the Black bishops makes itself gradually felt. } 11...Rg8 12.g3 Nd8 13.Ke2 h6 14.Rhe1 { This is a mistake; it is interesting to notice how Capablanca was waiting for this blunder; White's position after Ne3 would not be so bad. } 14...Bxe4 15.Bxe4 Rxc4 16.Kd3 Rc7 17.Nd4 a6 18.f4 Bc5 19.Nc2 d5 { The finishing touch, White is without hope of saving the game. } 20.Bf3 f5 21.a3 Be7 22.Nb4 a5 23.Nc2 Nb7 24.Nd4 Nc5+ 25.Kc2 Ne4 { The knight rules the situation. } 26.Rad1 Bf6 27.Nb5 Rc5 28.a4 Ke7 29.Bxe4 fxe4 30.Re3 h5 31.h3 Bh8 32.Kb3 f5 33.Nd4 Bxd4 34.Rxd4 h4 { The champion of the world terminates the game with a few powerful moves; the manner in which he rolls up the pawns and gets two united passed pawns is very instructive. } 35.gxh4 e5 36.fxe5 f4 37.Re1 Ke6 38.c4 Kxe5 39.Rxd5+ Rxd5 40.cxd5 f3 0-1

                                Position after 34….h4

                                For more analyses, see: