Showing posts with label chess. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chess. Show all posts

Monday, April 9, 2018

Chess in Amsterdam

I came upon this scene where a crowd had gathered around an outdoor or garden size chess board. There were two people who were the actual players but they were surrounded by pundits and hecklers (the friendly kind I think). It turned out that the area was a square dedicated to Max Euwe who was a chess world champion before the Second World War. He was also the president of the International Chess Federation (FIDE) in the 1970s.

The end game seemed interesting and I just wondered how they ended up with the positions.
Chess aficionados all around
Max Euwe was world chess champion for 2 years (1935-1937).
Max Euwe was World Chess Champion at a time when chess was not yet dominated by the Soviet Union but with the latter's players beginning to dominate the game. He played with the like of Capablanca, Flohr, Bogolyubov, Botvinnik, and Alekhine, whom he beat in 1935 to become World Champion. He lost in their rematch in 1937. This was a time when the world championships were basically held upon the acceptance of a match challenge from the champion unlike in the later years and the present when candidates matches or competitive tournaments are held to determine challengers.

It was interesting to see a game played between two players with a lot of "mirons". I thought it was lively and there was a bit of humor with the comments coming from some people who probably were better chess players than those who were playing. Such public matches on these huge chess sets can be a hit in Manila but I guess some people won't be as game or accepting of hecklers. Baka magka-asaran at away lang ang kahinatnan (Perhaps some people will just get upset and this could lead to fights.).

Sunday, November 24, 2013

New world chess champion

I was elated with the news that there is a new world chess champion. I have followed the history and news about chess since I was in high school. I still get a bit sad when I think about the books I lost during the floods of the 1990s and Ondoy. These include my collection of the Sahovski Informator (Chess Informant), which I bought at the old National Bookstore branch at Crossing during my high school days. 

Before then, I already had possession of a few chess books that my cousin Edgar, who's related to Asia's first Grand Master Eugene Torre had given me as he encouraged me to understand chess to be a "good enough" player of the game. These books were also lost including one which was a favorite read for me because the writing was really good and it related a lot about the old masters of chess including Morphy, Fine, Steinitz, Nimzowitch, Lasker, Capablanca, Alekhine and Botvinnik. It also featured games of up and coming players of the time in Tal and Smyslov, who along with Petrosian, Korchnoi and Spassky later represented the dominance of the former Soviet Union in chess. 

Their games are still memorable and instructive considering they established the foundations/theories of the game that are now well explored. There is also a kind of romanticism that I associate with those game considering there were no computers and systematic trainings or preparations for matches in those times. I would like to think that the games then were more spontaneous and the players more creative and took more risks than the current crop of super Grand Masters.

Anyhow, congratulations to the new World Chess Champion, Magnus Carlsen (ELO 2870) who defeated Viswanathan Anand (ELO 2775). Carlsen is the highest rated player ever, using the system developed by Arpad Elo. Anand was the highest rated player years ago and played with the likes of Gary Kasparov, Vladimir Kramnik, Veselin Topalov and others who were among the first to be tagged as super GMs. At their peak, they were the best players in the world and dominated the highest category tournaments. Though already regarded as a prodigy and a very strong player, Carlsen wasn't as consistent at that time but eventually the very young player (he's only 23 now) found the consistency and developed into the best player in the world. Well done indeed and may you be an enduring champion of your generation of chess players!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Curiosities - Philippine map in Russian

While waiting for a meeting to start, we were looking around the room amused with the items on display on a shelf and at the walls around the room. The collection is owned by the Mayor of a highly urbanized city near a free port and part of a prominent family of politicians in the area. Among the things on the shelf were trophies and plaques, product samples (some looked like they had already reached their expiration dates), and other mementos or souvenirs from trips or given by visitors.

What caught my attention, after closer inspection, was a map of the world. My staff pointed out what appeared to be text in Greek but then I quickly recognized that the map was Russian and the text in Cyrillic. I am not an expert in languages nor am I conversant with Russian but I could recognize the text and could figure out the names of the places as I am familiar with the geography. It also helped that I tried to figure out Cyrillic from the chess books I had before that were published in the former Soviet Union. While the text were in Russian, the notations for chess games were in the international algebraic standard that allowed for easy understanding of the moves recorded from the games of prominent grandmasters of the USSR such as Botvinnik, Tal, Smyslov, Petrosian, Spassky, Korchnoi, and Karpov. These were old books from the 1960's and 1970's so Kasparov and his generation were not yet featured in the books.

Part of a framed map of the world, I took a photo of the Philippines with Sabah on the lower left corner. The reflections on the photo show a shelf on the left and a window with blinds drawn down in the right.

I ended up amusing myself by attempting to decipher the Cyrillic equivalent of the English alphabet as I browsed the map for the names of places in the Philippines. I took the photo above for posterity as it was also probably our final presentation of our study to the Mayor and his staff that day and maybe the last time I will see that map hanging on his office wall.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Early man, Reginsky and chess

I earned this tag during my college days when I continued as an early riser and arrived ahead of most people at the tambayan of our organization. I remember at the time and maybe even now, everyone had a pseudonym and early man seemed the most appropriate for someone who regularly came early to university ahead even of dormers and others who lived nearby.

Of course, there were other tags we invented ourselves but were used mostly in games or other activities mostly for fun. At the time, chess was a popular pastime for many organization members and this, I suppose, is due to many being competitive players at the college level. We even had 2 good female players who played against the guys. The organization, after all, had a very good reputation as a chess power at the College of Engineering, winning the Geoid Cup twice and back-to-back in its first 3 years of existence. We eventually regained the cup and successfully defended it before I graduated from university.

We had our chess nicknames recorded in the organization logbook where we wrote from the back towards the front. I even remember us recording games and results as if we were actual chess players. And, modesty aside, I had a very good record against most players at the time. In fact, I only had negative results against 2 players, one of whom was my close friend Val who was perhaps the strongest player among us. Some of the names that are now part of history included Filipcher, Fidocher, Randsky, Reginsky, Judith, and Valerie. Of course, all of us were GMs or grandmasters in as far as what seemed like a weekly tournament that we called the AggreCup. The highlight of each match was the asaran or kantyawan where in many cases it seemed like the spectators were the ones dictating the way the matches were played, to the point where they were already making the moves instead of the players!

I miss those days playing chess during our free time. I also miss playing chess at a competitive level at the Geoid Cup tournament during Engineering Week. I'd like to think I played my best then and had games my cousins and uncles would have been proud to watch themselves.