Deciphering My Grandfather’s Chess Game Against Bobby Fischer Part #2

By Benji Grin, Marketing Intern

Hello readers!

When I last updated you on deciphering my grandfather’s chess game against Bobby Fischer, we had some serious issues. At that time, I felt that the only explanation for the bizarre moves was that the king and queen switched places for this game. I had never heard of such a thing before, and decided to look into a book about Bobby Fischer’s 1964 tour.

I am pleased to say that I have made considerable progress.

I looked into Fischer’s book, A Legend on the road: Bobby Fischer’s 1964 Simultaneous Tour. This book basically gives details about the games played by Bobby Fischer against various people on his tour. This was a long world tour, and Fischer visited many places, from the US to Canada.

My Grandfather lived in New York City, and I think Fischer definitely stopped there on his tour. So, I needed to look at the part of the book that talks about his visit to New York.

His stop in New York took place at the Chess and Checker Club, also known as the “Flea House”, located at 212 West 42nd Street. The date that he visited New York was May 24, 1964, which matches the date on the annotated game, confirming that this game was a part of the simultaneous exhibition on his stop in New York.

There was even a newspaper article by the New York Times published in July of 1964 about his visit to the Flea House that day here.

However, upon reading both the book’s and newspaper article’s description of May 24, 1964 there is a problem. According to both accounts, in every game he played on that day he opened with 1. e4. However this is different from the annotated game that my grandfather recorded, which said that Fischer played 1. d4 as his first move. I was perplexed, and didn’t know what to do.

I was at a standstill. So I decided to enlist the help of one of my fellow Premier Chess interns Maury Ahram and​ National Master and CEO of Premier Chess Evan Rabin. With their help, and after hours of deliberation over multiple days, we finally came to the answer to our problems. We came to the conclusion that the column notations in the annotated game were backwards.

In other words, the letter spaces on the chess board were inverted. So the letters were notated as if the board was backwards. Here is a “translation” of the inverted annotated letters:

This breakthrough gave us an answer to all of the questions we had until this point. The king and queen’s positions do not have to be switched, and all of the checks that didn’t make sense before are checks. Additionally, the first move for Fischer after this translation is indeed 1. e4, as both the book and the newspaper article indicated.

Mistakes like this are not uncommon, and people often make mistakes in their annotations as they are more focused on what their next move is going to be rather than recording their previous moves. My grandfather was an amateur after all, and I look forward to deciphering the rest of this game.

Our journey is not complete. Next time we will hopefully be able to actually decipher and analyze the real game after this amazing breakthrough.

Poding Up

By Eliana Bane, Marketing Intern

“Poding up” and “Pandemic pods” are terms that have risen through this pandemic. Schooling, after- school activities and playdate groups have been following the criteria of “pods”. But what is a pod?

A pandemic pod is a group of three to ten children that parents have created in order to maintain a safe environment while allowing their children to socialize. The ​New York Times explains what pandemic pods are and the reason they are developing.

Parents have realized that if schooling this coming year is in person, there are many health risks. However, if school is online, the education may be inadequate. ​Dori Wolfson​, Ed.M., founder of Boston-based Sundial Learning Consultants, explains how cooperative learning, learning with other students in-person and in groups develops many educational and social skills. Parents are afraid that their children will fall behind in their education and having a personal tutor or a pod of children with a teacher will make their learning more effective. Therefore, there are many Facebook groups that have threads connecting families to instructors and looking for additional students to join pods. Premier Chess​, along with ​Guitar Guide Guru​ and ​Hands on Hoops​, are available for after-school activities for your pods. We can help keep your children physically and mentally active while participating in chess, music and sports. In addition, we can recommend exemplary teachers and tutors for your academic pods.

Advancements in Chess

By Maury Ahram, Operations Intern

I’ve been playing chess since I was around five – roughly 13 years. I’ve experienced exhilarating national championship wins with my teams, felt the blows of crushing losses, and was at one point the best middle school chess player in New York City.

But, it wasn’t until recently that I discovered I had been “playing” chess, not playing chess.

What’s the difference you may ask; the difference is that chess is a two-sided game. Yes, that idea would appear to be pretty obvious to most if not all who play chess, be it against a person or computer. However, I’ve found that the difference between “playing” chess and playing chess is that the later forces you to refine your thought process.

Most chess players are instructed early on to ask themselves what their opponent is planning after every move. This question is the dividing force between “playing” chess and playing chess.  Over time, as you play more and more and more games, you fall into a routine of openings and moves, and you begin to throw the pieces to their squares without truly understanding what is happening on the board.

When I first began to correct myself of this problem, I was 1800 USCF and had been bouncing around in the 1800s for the last five years, albeit playing roughly a dozen tournaments. Flash forward three months and five tournaments later, I rose 100+ rating points and broke 1900 USCF, but this advancement wasn’t only a mere 100 points. A month after I broke 1900 USCF for the first time, I went to the 12th grade national chess championship event with my team and helped secure a 2nd place team finish. At that seven-round G/90;d5 tournament, I only lost games to a 2100, who placed third, and a 2200, who placed ninth, while drawing a 2150.

Reconnecting with the basics of chess, understanding the ideas behind every single move made, these are the things that are lost to time as one plays the same Queen’s Gambit line or the same Sicilian line every game.  Taking a step back and realigning your skills is a simple fix to increase your chess knowledge and understanding.

How Chess Players can Lose up to 15 Pounds in One Week just by Sitting

By Benji Grin, Marketing Intern

Did you know that chess grandmasters–during a competitive tournament–can lose weight and burn calories at the level of professional athletes?

While this may seem far-fetched, several studies have backed this claim that chess players can burn a ridiculous amount of calories during a competition on par with professional athletes.

It all comes from stress. Over the course of long and grueling tournaments, grandmasters must endure immense stress. As one gets stressed, their heart rate increases. As one’s heart rate rises, the human body is forced to produce more energy, requiring more oxygen. This can cause a person’s breathing rate to triple. As the human body receives this extra oxygen, blood circulation increases and metabolism speeds up, which in turn, causes the body to burn calories.

Over the course of chess tournaments, sleep is extremely difficult to come by. Much of the free time spent by chess players during a long tournament is spent studying and thinking about the games ahead. The stress of the tournament disrupts sleep patterns and can lead to fatigue. According to 2004 ​FIDE World Chess Champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov, who reported losing 17 pounds after his 2004 victory, a brain that loses even an hour of sleep requires more energy to stay awake during a game of chess. The body must produce this energy by sustaining higher breathing rates and blood pressure that can be compared to that of marathon runners.

“Physical fitness and brain performance are tied together”, says chess commentator and grandmaster Maurice Ashley.

These bodily processes in reaction to the stress of chess impact the human body substantially in the form of weight loss. Several notable chess players have reported sizable weight loss over the course of just a few days. In 1984, the World Chess Championship was even cancelled entirely after Anatoly Karpov, the defending champion, had lost 22 pounds. Grandmaster Mikhail Antipov burned 560 calories in just two hours playing chess, while it would take 2 hours on a treadmill to just get to 500. Grandmaster Fabiano Caruana reports that he can lose 15 pounds over the course of a competition, and that is when he is only “mildly scared.” On average, players lose 2 pounds per day, and over a long tournament the weight loss will be astronomical.

But why don’t professional athletes lose that much weight for their physical competitions? The answer comes in their diet. Athletes consume thousands more calories every day than the average person and most have personal trainers and dietary specialists. In contrast, most chess players have not been on top of their diet, or exercise plans until recently. They do not eat as much as professional athletes despite burning as many calories as them, resulting in dramatic weight loss.

In recent years however, chess players have started to care more about their diet and fitness. It used to be that only mental preparation and study was used for chess matches. However in recent years, chess players have embraced the physical aspect of the game. For instance, after Fabiano Caruana saw the effects of his dramatic weight loss in tournament play he started to train for the physical demands of chess. Caruana now eats larger portions at meals, and has added physical activities such as tennis, basketball, and running to his daily routine.

Reigning World Champion Magnus Carlsen had a similar situation. In 2017, Carlsen noticed that his games were taking longer and that he was feeling more fatigued. Now, he has a personal chef and exercises regularly. Additionally, he has optimized nearly everything about his game physically including the way he sits to reduce loss of lung capacity, steady his breathing, limit neck and back pain, and increase oxygen flow to the brain. Plus, he even chews gum during matches, in an effort to increase the function of his brain while still limiting the use of too much energy. Magnus’ father, Henrik, had this to say about his son: “Even if he doesn’t lose substantial weight like his peers, Magnus understood early on that his nervous system is stressed”. Magnus Carlsen saw the physical toll that chess was having in him physically even if he hadn’t seen the drastic effects of weight loss.

This idea of preparing for chess, physically, is brand new, yet still extremely important. We here at Premier Chess encourage healthy eating and regular exercise, and understand the value of improving our chess skills both mentally and physically.

Sports Star or Chess Star?

By Eliana Bane, Marketing Intern

Many know ​Klay Thompson​ for his athletic abilities. He is a three-time NBA champion with his team, the Golden State Warriors. He is a two-time All-NBA Third Team honoree, and a five-time NBA star. However, off the court, Klay Thompson possesses a strong interest in chess.

In 2018, the Warriors invited ​Magnus Carlsen​, ​the World Chess Champion, to a Western Conference Finals Game. The W​all Street Journal​ reported that after the game, Thompson took out his phone and showed Carlsen a game he was playing against his teammate, Andre Iguodala, and wanted new insights. The ​SFGate​ explains how Klay Thompson now has numerous chess sets, several chess games on his phone and a magnetic set to take on the road.

Thompson is intrigued by the game of chess. He enjoys the thoughtfulness and believes the technique and strategy can and will enhance his basketball game. The skill of forethought, taught in chess, is also used in Thompson’s basketball playing.

Lastly, when Thompson was interviewed about the “10 things Klay Thompson can’t live without,” by N​BC Sports​, he lists his chess board and says,

“T​his is the greatest fan gift I’ve ever received, and I’ve gotten the most use out of it. I was in China when this was gifted to me. I forgot the fan’s name, but if you’re watching this, I appreciate you bro.

“This has been giving me so much pleasure — especially on the road — for years. It’s got my Anta logo on there, which I thought was so cool. We’ve got the gold and silver set.

“Come holiday season, this chessboard sees the most action of the year. We have the family tournament. My dad thinks he’s nice — I have to humble him every once in awhile. My little brother Trayce is real good, we always compete…”.

Chess is clearly very dear to Klay Thompson. He enjoys the game, competitiveness and skills he learns from it.

Legends of Chess: Carlsen versus Gelfand

By Shai Hecker, Operations Intern 

As the Legends of Chess Tournament continues Magnus Carlsen finally takes the lead. Peter Svidler was tied in first with Carlsen, but lost against Ding Liren putting himself in third place. We are going to take a look at Carlsen’s game against Boris Gelfand that pushed him ahead to first place.

The game opens with 1. e4 c5, which is the Sicilian Defense. Carlsen follows with 2. Nf3 Nc6. This is a relatively standard opening and throughout the beginning of the game both players are not making mistakes.

They finally reach this position as pictured on the right and Carlsen moves his pawn to h4 attempting to take the h5 square forcing Gelfand’s knight to retreat to e7. Gelfand responds by pushing his own pawn up to h5 and the crisis is averted. A simple mistake like that could have cost Gelfand the game.

 

As the game progresses it appears that Carlsen has the upper hand.  Both of his bishops are playing an active role in the game while Gelfand’s bishop is stuck on f8 with no other duty then protecting the pawn on d6. This bishop is playing a vital role, but Carlsen is putting his bishops to better use.

 

 

Eventually the two players reach this position as we see pictured to the right. Although Gelfand has a rook instead of a knight Carlsen has a much better board state. Carlsen’s king is well protected while Gelfand’s only protection is stacked pawns in front of the king. From here Carlsen uses his queen to attack Gelfand’s vulnerable king and is able to take the lead and win the game.

 

The Chess Masters of Youtube

By Shai Hecker, Operations Intern

Youtube was founded only fifteen years ago and it is one of the largest streaming sites on the internet. Youtube allows for people to share their videos online with the rest of the world.

Anyone can post a video on Youtube about relatively anything. Through Youtube many incredible chess players share their games with the public allowing people to learn chess from the greats.

Magnus Carlsen is the World Chess Champion at the moment. If you take a look at his Youtube channel you will notice that many if not most of the videos barely feature him. Although he has 342,000 subscribers, Hikaru Nakamura has much more of a presence on his own channel.

Nakamura is one the best chess players in the world and managed to beat Carlsen in the Lindores Abbey Rapid Challange. Although he is not the top player in the world he is able to connect with his fans through his Youtube channel. Haftor Bjornsson, a famous icelandic strongman and actor, has appeared on his channel to play chess against the chess grandmaster. Nakamura knows how to excite his fans through his videos and maintains a great channel.

Premier Chess recently created its own Youtube channel. Our channel will feature lessons, games with commentary, podcast episodes, and more. From there you can learn more about the game of chess and became a better player.

Take a look at our new Youtube channel here.

 

Three ways any real estate agent can improve their chess game:

Buying houses, selling houses, coordinating clients … realty can be an overwhelming business, especially for a newcomer. It’s a delicate balancing act of networking, advertising, socializing, and lots of telephone calls all rolled up into one. However, using principles of chess, we can actually create a certain harmony out of that perceived chaos. Here are three simple guidelines that any real estate agent can follow in order to strengthen their game.
1. Develop your pieces before attacking
You need to have a strong foundation before you set out to accomplish any goal. It’s imprudent to show a client ten houses before they’re even pre-approved or have had their credit checked. Even if they love a certain house, they might not qualify, and it will have been a waste of time and energy for both parties involved. Likewise, attacking with one or two pieces in chess is bound to fail. Having all of a client’s paperwork and approvals in order will go a long way towards making a decision on a house when they finally find one.
2. Activity over material advantages
Sometimes we can play creatively and use piece activity to win – even when we’ve lost a pawn or two. There are many ways to be creative in realty, and even if a client doesn’t currently have funds to close, there are unique ways to close the deal and get the job done. A seller’s concession is an innovative way to make buying a house easier by allowing the buyer to borrow the closing costs from the house itself. This way, even if they couldn’t afford the actual funds for closing, they are now able to close on the property. Using this form of activity even over “material” money is a great example of what happens on the actual chessboard when someone is able to win even while down on material.
3. Centralize your pieces
Just like in chess, flexibility is a key variable for good players. A knight in the corner has only two squares it can go to. A knight on a central square, however, can go to eight different squares! This is why centralization is so important. Flexibility is also crucial in real estate. Many times, when someone is looking for a five-bedroom house, they realize that four bedrooms is perfectly sufficient for their needs as well. Or, there might be a house with four bedrooms and a large office room, which can easily be converted into another bedroom, changing the house to what they desired. Having multiple options in multiple situations allow you to adapt to many different scenarios, and ultimately finding a perfect match between a client and their dream home.
Realty, just like chess, requires time, dedication, and practice! Using these principles will allow you to enhance your game and make winning “moves,” whether it’s on or off the chessboard.
Abe Lewinson is a tournament chess player and realtor in New York. You can contact him at Rodeo Realty at 845-538-0039 or by email at vrom18@gmail.com

Deciphering My Grandfather’s Chess Game Against Bobby Fischer Part #1

By Marketing Intern, Benji Grin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For years, my father always told me about the chess game between his father, my grandfather, and the notorious Bobby Fischer. Not too long ago, I stumbled upon the following piece of paper:

 

This is the annotated game of my late grandfather against Bobby Fischer. It is dated May 24, 1964.

While it may be hard to read due to the handwriting and age of the paper, I am setting out to decipher this game.

Upon first looking at this match, there was one striking contrast to any other annotated chess game that I noticed here: the letters signaling the specific pieces were different than regular annotations. For instance, instead of letters like R (Rook), N (Knight), B (Bishop), and Q (Queen) being written, letters such as H, S, G, and W were there. I found this quite curious and discussed this with my father at great length. Finally we came to the solution: the game was annotated in Polish! My grandfather was Polish and emigrated to the United States in 1961; so, it made sense that the game was written in Polish and why the letters were different. Here is how the notation works out:

English: K – King Q – Queen R – Rook B – Bishop N – Knight P – Pawn

Polish: K – Król H – Hetman W – Wieża G – Goniec S -Skoczek P -Pion(ek)

It is important to note that Fischer is playing with the white pieces and my grandfather is playing with the black pieces. Additionally, whenever there was a colon ”:” that means one piece captures another. So the colon here can be replaced with the modern notation for piece capture of “x”.

So now that we know how the notation is used we can start looking at the game. Here are the first few moves:

1.d4 f5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.e4 fxe4
It is on move 4 when our first problem arrives. 4. Nxe4 d6

This is a peculiar move from Fischer; if he takes the pawn an e4, he is losing his Knight after Nxe4 by black. However, even stranger is that after Fischer takes the pawn on e4 my grandfather doesn’t take the Knight. He plays d6. This is strange to say the least for perhaps the greatest chess player of all time, but let’s continue onwards.

5. Ng5 e5 6. dxe5 dxe5
Another problem arises after move 7.

7. Bc4 Bg4+

The plus “+” in chess notation refers to check, or when the king is being threatened. However, the king is not currently in check. The bishop is attacking the queen, not the king.

8. e3 Bh5
The pawn blocks, and the bishop retreats.
However, our series of problems continue into move 9. 9. Ne6+ Kc8.

Once again, moving that Knight e6 is not a check, but it threatens the Queen. Then, it says the king retreats to c8. This is problematic. For one, the King can not even go to the c8 square. Perhaps he meant the queen retreats c8.

I have been thinking about all these problems and perhaps they are all connected. After thinking for a while, all our problems go away if the King and the Queen are switched! So, on both the black and white sides of the board, the King is in the Queen’s place and the Queen is in the King’s place. If we do this, then all of the moves that were indicated as checks, in fact, would be checks. Also, it explains why on move 4 Fischer takes the pawn with his Knight which would seemingly lose it. It was protected by the Queen. This also explains move 9 where the King retreats after being in check.

Switching up the King and the Queen seems very far fetched to me. ​Has anyone ever heard of Bobby Fischer switching the pieces of the board?​ I am going to get some more help. I was told by another intern for Premier Chess, Maury, that this date coincides with Bobby Fischer’s tour in 1964 where he traveled the county playing amateurs and professionals. I know that this game was played as a simultaneous exhibition, meaning Bobby Fischer played multiple games at one time. There is a book about the tour that I am going to look into, to see if I can acquire the knowledge that I am missing to decipher this game. I will give you an update in the coming days of my progress.

Do you have any ideas? We would love to hear suggestions. Please let us know.

What is Plunder Chess?

Hello “Premier Chess” blog readers!  My name is Jeff Knight and I am the inventor of PlunderChess®.  Have your heard of it?

It was a momentary thought… a random idea… a “what-if” concept that surfaced in the right hemisphere of my brain a number of years ago…. and today, materialized!   May I introduce you to PlunderChess®, a new and contagious slant to the age-old classic game of chess.

The objective of PlunderChess® is the same as traditional chess…  to win the game by placing your opponent’s king into checkmate.  However… what makes PlunderChess® different… is upon making a capture, the chess piece doing the capture (or “kill”) is allowed to take on (or “plunder”) added moving capabilities directly from its spoils, and use those newly acquired capabilities on one future move.  By way of example, if a pawn were to capture its opposing queen, the capturing pawn would then be allowed to acquire extra queen moving powers and subsequently, make a one-time future queen move.  Yes, that’s right, in PlunderChess®, a pawn with acquired queen powers may make a queen move!  That’s it! Simple, easy to learn and incredibly fun on the chessboard!

PlunderChess® is available for play BOTH by over the board and by app (iOS & Android).  If you are a student of “Premier Chess” and interested in downloading our app at no cost (normally $2.99) simply send me an email to: plunderchess@gmail.com  with the following in the Subject Line: “Premiere Chess Student … PlunderChess® App Promo Code”.   Be sure to tell me if your device is iOS or Android and we will get you up and playing PlunderChess® with your friends in no time.  By the way, the app will also allow you to test your skills against the artificial intelligence (5 levels of play) and be sure to check out the “mate-in-1” and“mate-in-2” puzzles!

Click here for short video clips that demonstrate plundering in the PlunderChess® game app! https://www.plunderchess.com/app-video-clips