Sunday, June 18, 2006

The Great Pillsbury's 100th Death Day

My last post reminds me of a famous saying by one of the worlds greatest ever chess champions, the late Emanuel Lasker:

‘Chess is a fight’

Which brings me to my next subject.

Harry Nelson Pillsbury was one of the greatest chess talents of his time. He died exactly 100 years ago yesterday, but his chess games continue to inspire me. Chess is not only a fight, but an art, and Pillsbury was a master of this art.

‘Pillsbury would play up to 22 simultaneous games of chess and draughts blindfold while also taking part in a game of whist. ‘Before the display he would ask the audience for lists of words or objects, and repeat them at the end of the display. On one famous occasion in London two professors came up with the following curious list of words:

Antiphlogistine, micrococcus, Etchenberg, Bangmanvate, periosteum, plasmodium, American, Schlechter's Nek, taka diastasi, Mississippi, Russian, Manzinyama, plasmon, Freiheit, philosophy, theosophy, ambrosia, Philadelphia, Piet Potgelter's, catechism, Threlkeld, Cincinnati, Rost, Madjesoomalops, Streptococcus, athletics, Salamagundi, staphylococcus, no war, and Oomisellecootsi

Pillsbury looked at the list, repeated the words, and then again in reverse order. The next day he recited them again’ (The Complete Chess Addict, Fox and James, p. 99)

In honour of his memory, I’ve uploaded one of his games and lightly annotated it. However, bear in mind that this game was played blindfold simultaneous with twelve other chess and four other draughts games - plus a game of whist on the side!

Click here to play through the game.

Here is another superb article celebrating the occasion.


Saturday, January 21, 2006

Wijk aan Zee

The famous annual Wijk aan Zee chess tournament is underway, and England’s Mickey Adams is in good form.

Here is Mig Greengard’s summary of his encounter yesterday with Ivanchuk, on
“Adams notched a nice win against Ivanchuk, who slipped into a passive position after coming out of an opening experiment in okay shape. Black played Nfd7 preemptively, inviting a white pawn storm. Adams obliged. After exchanges Adams got to work his magic with a slight space advantage and Ivanchuk cracked with 34..b4 and an unfortunate rook incursion. White infiltrated with his queen and the game ended quickly after that.”
The game, along with all the others from the A-group, can be replayed here.

Also one to watch is the youthful prodigy Magnus Carlsen who is presently, albeit with a bit of luck in hand, leading the second group. For those who are interested, the book by his old trainer, Simen Agdestein, on the amazing story of this, the world’s youngest chess Grandmaster, is worth a read (a .pdf sample of which can be viewed here). He is potential future world champion material, and has already been called the ‘the Mozart of chess’ by The Washington Post!

Today Mickey will be facing Anand who has the White pieces, so it won't be easy for the Englishman. However, at the time of writing, Mickey looks to have a lovely position, and it putting real pressure on the Indian's queenside. As a great resource for those of us who love chess: all games can be followed live here.


Monday, January 16, 2006

Are you saved?

I haven’t blogged for a few days simply, well, because I couldn’t be bothered.

But apparently I’m bothered again, as here I am, at it again. What is more, I have a whole load planned for the coming week!

I apologise that I’m starting off by posting on chess. I realise that most of you, my readers, are theologically inclined, and have no interest in the game (apart from TB). But this is exactly the point: You ought to be interested in chess (for those of you who want to hear my latest sermon, 8 Reasons Why You Aren’t Saved If You Don’t Love And Play Chess, should click here).

Anyway, this was the position I found myself in this morning, during a tournament game. I had managed to quickly equalise the position with the Black pieces (a good thing as White always has the first move), but allowed my position to be invaded by his Queen and Bishop. Nevertheless, I sent the Knight on a mad suicide mission – an assassination attempt on none other than the White King – to counter White’s looming threats, and wonderfully save the game. The position below is Black to play, see if you can find the move I played to secure a forced draw. Click on the board to see and play the answer: