misc

Lessons from Jan Timman

I have just read, with enormous pleasure, Jan Timman's volume of his best games, Timman's Triumphs. The range of openings is very broad, the tactics pleasing and sometimes brilliant, the strategy revealing, the endgame play subtle; the annotations do justice to a Grandmaster's play but remain accessible; the stories between the games are engaging and warm.

Opening

Timman's repertoire is very broad and includes every style.

[Event "Bugojno"]
[Site "Bugojno"]
[Date "1984.??.??"]
[Round "?"]

Lessons from John Nunn

John Nunn was a top ten player in his prime, but was and is a champion as a chess author. His first substantial book, Secrets of Grandmaster Play with Peter Griffiths, was an instant classic, and he has written many volumes aimed at the improving player. He has been particularly concerned to reflect the richness and complexity of modern chess in his books, and has striven to do so in uncluttered prose, leavened with a bit of dry wit.

Lessons from Euwe

Euwe was always an amateur player, not a professional; he taught mathematics in a girls' school in the Netherland for much of his active playing career, then was employed by a computer firm. He devoted much of his life to teaching chess, through books and articles. My favourite among his writings is a collection of articles about the middlegame with Hans Kramer, later published in two volumes. He collected and organised opening theory, he wrote books for beginners and masters, and he took the Presidency of FIDE.

Lessons from Smyslov

Botvinnik's disciplined research and iron logic was a strange parallel of the era of Stalin, the man of steel; Smyslov's chess was something altogether lighter and more intuitive.

Smyslov could often distil something clear and attractive from a game in ferment, and bring a fresh eye to familiar settings.

In the 1980s, he had a remarkable second wind, playing his elegant, modern chess all the way to the Candidate's Matches, where he was stopped by Kasparov.

Opening

Lessons from Alekhin

Almost any game by Lasker or Capablanca could be studied with profit, in the hope of playing a little more like our heroes. Their games are full of common sense. But the modernists and hypermodernists like Alekhin are not so easy to learn from; they thrive on a different style of chess, being less interested in the elegant harmony of principles and more interested in complexity, conflict and contradiction.

When John Nunn first came across the games of Alekhin, he said "How can anyone play like this?"(!). Alekhin's chess can be admired, but it is not easily imitated!

Morphy vs Steinitz

I keep seeing "Morphy would have beaten Steinitz", which we will never know, but here is some food for thought, from Steinitz' International Chess Magazine of 1886: (Nov 1886 pp 333-335)
To what I have said on the subject before, I may only add quite in conformity with the substance of my previous remarks that I have never quarrelled with anyone who bonafidely believes that Morphy could have beaten me even, if he had made progress with the time. But if anyone says that the Morphy as he was, and not the one who might have been, could give Pawn and move

Said the Elephant to the Bishop...

"What's this piece called?"
"A Bishop. What is it in Spanish, Sophie?"
"Alfil"
"And in French, Agathe?"
"Fou"

Therein lies a story...

The old Arab form of chess had a piece called the elephant, which, unlike most elephants I know, could jump two squares at a time, diagonally. And 'al-fil' means the Elephant in Arabic (Pil in Persian).

But if you have a lump of stone, or wood, and you want to show that it is an elephant, you might carve two curving lines on it for tusks, or make two points on it to show the same.

Christmas Greetings 2015

You won't be surprised to hear that we won't be meeting
on Friday 25th Dec or Friday 1st January, so the neet meeting
will be Friday 8th January 2016

Thanks for all your support and best wishes for Christmas and New Year

Our Christmas card features a chess puzzle; see the comments for hints!

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