Sunday, 25 March 2007

Archive: UNCUT! 59

The Sean Marsh
Chess Column

*Column 59*
**May 2007* *

Dear Readers,

It somehow seems quite a while since the last UNCUT! but perhaps it’s just the approach of the end of the season and the onset of the summer months.

Anyway, there’s plenty been going on and not only in the world of chess. Sports fans would have been pleased to see the annual Boat Race yet been bemused at the same two teams reaching the final yet again. The Iranian Boat Race was much more fun until the opposing team strayed a little too close and were taken hostage on grounds of territorial infringement.

Aficionados of English Literature had the opportunity to watch new televised versions of several Jane Austen classics. Unfortunately I managed to miss these modern adaptations which is a great shame; as a Dr. Who fan I was quite looking forward to seeing Billie Piper’s Fanny.

Anyway, what has all this got to do with chess? Nothing really, I’m afraid. Yet it can be surprising how often chess and ‘real life’ do cross-pollinate. For example, what has the Petroff Defence got to do with Napoleon Bonaparte?

Take a look at this position and all will be explained…

White to play and…
….Find Paris and then boot Boney back!

Alexander Petroff, who gave his name to the great counter-attacking weapon (it was! - go and look at the games of Marshall and Pillsbury if you don’t believe me) now known as the Petroff Defence, composed this intriguing problem. The inspiration was Napoleon’s enforced retreat from Russia in 1812. Napoleon, currently occupying Moscow (h7) is eventually run ragged all the way back to Paris by a combination of Russian partisans (the Bishops) and the Cossack cavalry (the White Knights).

So…can you marshal the might of Moscow, force Napoleon on a long march back home and then ensure that he suffers the ignominious fate of being checkmated in 12 moves from the diagram? Of course you can! (Solution next time).

PS: For the real story of Napoleon’s defeat and retreat you really should read
1812: Napoleon's Fatal March on Moscow by Adam Zamoyski

Sean Marsh
10th May 2007

Archive: UNCUT! 58

The Sean Marsh
Chess Column
*Column 58*
**March 2007* *

Tony Kiddle R.I.P.

It is with great sadness that I have to report on the death of one of the all-time local chess greats, Mr Tony Kiddle.

Tony died on the way home from a recent Middlesbrough football match. The news was shocking, unbelievable and has left the local chess community absolutely stunned.

It is impossible to give any sort of justice to his contribution to chess in our area in such a short column. For most of us, he has always been there, with his big booming voice and indomitable personality. In many ways, he WAS Middlesbrough Chess Club. He put so much time and effort into so many aspects of local chess life, including many, many years teaching and encouraging an abundance of juniors.

He was a very competitive man; the record of his beloved Middlesbrough Rooks speaks for itself. Yet when Elmwood turned into serious rivals and traded league titles with the Rooks over the last few years, he was always the first to congratulate the opposition on a job well done and there was never any doubt that he was totally sincere in giving his best wishes.

Not many of Tony’s best games survive; I believe he threw his scoresheets away shortly after each match. Therefore I can quote very few instances of play and must confine this tribute to various random vignettes that have stuck in my mind over the years.

When I first started playing the county team, in the early 1980s, Tony was graded in the 160s. There is no doubt at all that he would have easily maintained such a high grade if he had out just a fraction of his chess time into his own game instead of encouraging others all his life. Tony frequently occupied a high board for the county A team, usually around board six or seven. I remember watching the end of the top games on one occasion (I was a minnow in the B team at the time). I looked at Tony’s game and he seemed to be under pressure. The opponent had a Bishop pair right in the middle of the board in a late-middlegame. Tony leaned back, took a big draw from his massive cigar, turned to me and boomed: ‘Strongest pair of Bishops I’ve seen in my life!!’

I didn’t get the chance to play many games against him. The most memorable was this one…

T. Kiddle v S. Marsh
Middlesbrough Rooks v Guisborough, 1987

White is in trouble, but Tony thought for some time and then played 16 Qd6. Normally he would get straight up and look at the other games or start making fun of someone (in a nice way, of course). This time he remained seated. All because…he wanted to sacrifice his Queen to force mate, with 17 Qxf8+ Kxf8 18 Rd8+ and Re8 mate! I played 16 …Na6, connecting the Rooks and eliminating the danger, whereupon he broke into a thunderous and lengthy guffaw before booming out to me (and the whole of Guisborough) ‘What do you want to spoil all my little traps for, eh?’

Tony was one of the specially invited players in the 1st Cleveland Senior Chess Championship I organised two years ago this month.

It became apparent that Tony was not on his best chess form on that day. The reason? He’d been ‘…up till four o’clock at my mate’s party – hahahahaha!’
In the days before obesity became the national norm and made him look relatively slim, Tony was, frankly, the largest person any of us ever knew. With his big, booming voice and penchant for always speaking his mind, this could have given the impression of him being some sort of ogre, but he was very kind-hearted and public spirited.

Always laughing, always joking, always keeping things moving along. That’s how I – and many others – will remember the great Tony Kiddle.

Sean Marsh
25th March 2007


Sunday, 18 March 2007

Chess Reviews: 23

Revolution In The 70s
By GM Garry Kasparov

Fans of the famous ‘My Great Predecessors’ series will have been waiting anxiously for the great man’s latest volume.

This one is really the start of a new series, headed ‘Garry Kasparov On Modern Chess, Part One’, but rest assured the style remains true to the earlier volumes and readers who have read those will feel quite at home here.

The basis of the present tome is an overview of the openings revolution of the 1970s, a legacy of Fischer’s extraordinary preparation.

In Kasparov’s words:

‘Although, after becoming world champion, Fischer gave up playing, and many of his schemes soon became outdated, the tectonic shifts that he had caused generated a powerful avalanche, which over a period of ten years redrew the entire opening map of the world.’

Fischer’s world war against the Soviet chess machine sparked a permanent arms race of opening preparation.

The first 23 chapters focus on particular variations and their ideas, starting with the Hedgehog System and covering a plethora of others drawn from the whole gamut of opening lore.
Hedgehog systems are described by the author as being: ‘Virtually the greatest hit of the 1970s’.

The structure – with black pawns sitting happily on e6, d6, b6 and e6, just like little defensive spines on a hedgehog – was named thus by IM Bill Hartston many years ago and the name stuck. Ljubojevic was the great pioneer of the 1970s Hedgehog and he shared some ideas with Ulf Andersson, who honed it into a very potent system, even beating Karpov at Milan in 1975 (the latter’s first defeat as World Champion!).

Here, Black’s Hedgehog lashed out with the typical 24 …d5!?

Some chapters are longer and meatier than others. For example, the ‘French with 3 e5’ is covered in just under three pages, whereas the openings Kasparov himself was more concerned with in his playing days – such as the Classical Scheveningen and Grunfeld – enjoy much more substantial coverage. Indeed, I found the Grunfeld section to be one of the very best in the whole book (probably matched only by the Hedgehog coverage) and the evolutionary narrative of the Modern Exchange Variation is superbly handled.

The concluding chapter sees a change of pace of content. ‘The Opinion Of 28 World Experts’ is based on the replies to a questionnaire and features the thoughts and opinions of some of the strongest players from the period in question, such as Averbakh, Taimanov, Portisch and Andersson. This is all fascinating material, well worthy of a book all to itself.

A few eye-catching snippets should be sufficient to give the reader a flavour of what to expect…

The thoughts of Portisch on modern chess are not exactly flattering. He laments the fact that soon all players will have to put up with being electronically monitored to prevent cheating. ‘Thank God , at least I won’t have to take part in this!’

And: 'Why did Garry….play matches with these hellish computers?'

Ljubojevic, fully acknowledging the achievements of Fischer, highlights the input of Larsen also, and picks out the following vignette….

Larsen v Bellon
Palma de Mallorca, 1971

White has just played the remarkable 4 Be2!!

‘In my view, this move is one of the most brilliant strategic ideas ever employed at such an early stage of the opening.’

The idea is if 4 … Bxg2, then 5 Bh5+ g6 6 Bf3 Bxh1 7 Bxh1 and Black has trouble with both Rooks. The game actually continued: 4 …Nf6 5 Bxf6 exf6 6 Bf3!, which was good for White.

Dvoretsky: ‘Chess players have become slaves of opening theory!’

A lot of comments return to the use and advance of computers and their impact on modern theory.

Browne: ‘….no one wants to take a risk without thorough preparation: who knows whether the other guy has analysed it all with his computer...’

Soltis: ‘The threat of the computer is stronger than the computer’s move!’

It really is a treat reading the thoughts of such players. Some are disappointingly short, but others – including the ones quoted from above – have contributed marvellous mini-essays that are well worth reading.

The changing of the eras Sosonko, who quotes a comment a verbal exchange between Steinitz and Gunsberg, during a World Championship match game. After six moves of an Evans Gambit, Steinitz asked: ‘Do you think that I am morally bound to play exactly the same defence as I did against Chigorin?’ to which Gunsberg responded: ‘You are not exactly bound, but the public will expect you to defend your own theories!’ So Steinitz did indeed play his own (inferior) move, and went on to lose! It should be said that to have an idea of one’s own – even it is a bad one – is certainly better than having no ideas at all, but in the world of modern chess it seems that exactly the opposite attitude is the prevalent one.

A fascinating read! And that’s the point…this is a book to be read and not just a whole load of database-dumped variations and symbols. A big, well-written, handsome hardback. Fans of chess will not be disappointed and this should be on everyone’s ‘to buy’ list.

For details of Everyman chess books and CDs, please visit:

Happy reading!
18th March 2007