Saturday, October 13, 2007

Fridays by the Fireside No. 8 - More Odd, But True Chess Trivia

In our eighth installment of Fridays by the Fireside we feature some more odd, but true chess trivia from the Irving Chernev and Fred Reinfeld book The Fireside Book of Chess.

Chapter - The Magic of Chess
Section - Odd, But True
Item - 8 - 12
Page - 72

  • Many a good player would like to try his skill against the masters in a tournament, but dreads the possible outcome—a long string of zeros. Not so Colonel Moreau, who played in the Monte Carlo Tournament of 1903. He played two games with each of 13 opponents, and lost 26 times in succession. Not even so much as one measly draw could he get!
  • What is the best move to begin a game? At one time the masters began automatically with 1 P—K4; then they switched to 1 P—Q4. Paul Morphy, considered by many critics the greatest chess genius that ever lived, never played 1 P—Q4. In contrast, Ernest Gruenfeld, one of the greatest living authorities on opening play, ventured on 1 P—K4 only once in his entire tournament career (against Capablanca at Karlsbad 1929). When asked why he avoided 1 P—K4, he answered, "I never make a mistake in the opening!"
  • Chess is thought of so highly in the Soviet Union that it is taught in the public schools. Yet, blindfold play is forbidden by law! (Do they realize, we wonder, that a master player analyzing a combination ten moves deep is really playing blindfold chess?)
  • Franz Gutmayer wrote a book on how to become a chess master, but could never become one himself! Gutmayer never won a Hauptturnier first prize, a requisite in Germany for the title of master.
  • Dr. Lasker was certainly a hard man to beat. Marshall won from him in May 1900, and then once again on another May day. But that second victory came after forty years of tournament and match play, in the course of which they had met many times.

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