Greengard's ChessNinja.com

Summer Saturday

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Thank goodness for global climate change. Yesterday was a beautiful day in NY, more like the middle of spring than winter. Of course I spent most of it in front of the computer working anyway. I found the time to work out the solution to this one of the ChessBase Christmas puzzles. It was the only one I've tried because it was the one bugging Kasparov the other day. Ah, the simple, spiteful, pleasures. And of course I was using a board. Solution after the jump, so beware if you click the comments or the "continue" if you want to do it yourself.

I've been getting a lot of mail about the conviction of US chess coach Robert Snyder on sexual assault charges. I'm not much for covering the non-chess of the non-chess-famous, but since I mentioned his arrest here's the follow-up. Pleaded guilty, no prison, some detention. No more coaching minors. Again, be safe out there. Read up on the subject both as a coach and as a parent. On a related note, I'm not covering the Jessie Gilbert saga, so you can stop submitting the stories. Thanks.

An interesting find for chess historians. A 500-year-old, 48-page Italian manuscript by Luca Pacioli mostly dedicated to chess has been found. References to it had been seen but no one had ever seen it and it was assumed lost. Pacioli was a peer and friend of da Vinci and is considered the father of modern accounting, or at least modern accounting books. The scholars doubt the nice black and red diagrams are by Leonardo, however. José Antonio Garzón suspects it's from 1508, not topping the earliest modern chess treatise by Francesch Vicent in 1495. As happens regularly these days I'm surprised to find one of my own pages is the top Google hit for something I'm looking up. How does one remember to take memory pills?

Some chess video here with this story on the Miami Dade team at the Pan American Intercollegiate Chess Tournament. Saludos to my compa Renier Gonzalez, their team captain. The event was dominated by two teams from the University of Texas at Dallas, another traditional power along with UMBC. Kavalek was watching.

In case you need a laugh today. May the pants be with you.

1. g4 h5 2. Bg2 hxg4 3. Bxb7 Rxh2 4. Nh3 Bxb7 5. O-O Rh1#


The mating move is not supposed to be a capture.

Oops, when all else fails, read the instructions.

I wondered why the 'saga' of Jesse Gilbert as you put it hadn't been mentioned in one of your posts here. Have you said why you are not covering it? Could you elaborate?

I appreciate that you could argue that it's a non-chess story about the non-chess famous but the fact that Jesse was a talented chess player was mentioned frequently in news coverage of the trial.

I thought John Saunders had some interesting comments at his British Chess Magazine Blog.


Lol the pants was great, thanks Mig.

That the mainstream likes to turn chess into an angle (turn anything into an angle) doesn't mean I need to do the same with death, let alone rape or suicide. I'll cover their coverage sometimes and don't claim to have a perfect record; I write about what interests me and what I believe is relevant and/or interesting to the community. Covering the crimes and misdemeanors around everyone who ever pushed a pawn is just being sordid. That suspect X was a chessplayer pops up in the chess news crawls all the time.

That Gilbert was a chessplayer was brought into the trial of her father does not really surprise or interest me. They bring up everything they can in such cases. If it hadn't been chess it would another sport, or her grades, or the music she listened to. Perhaps it's a disturbing precedent, but it's hardly unique. As I said, they use anything they can.

Antique chess books are absolutely fascinating. As a player, I get a huge kick out of looking through the ancient books, some of which tout different rules. For instance, some British books prior to 1820-ish refer to a stalemate as a win for the stalemated player.

One of the world's top collectors of antique chess books, David DeLucia, has a beautiful hand-written manuscript by Lucena, dated 1497. Unfortunately there are no photos on the web that I know of. Photos and extensive description of it (and many other ancient chess books in his collection) can be found in the book "David DeLucia's Chess Library - A Few Old Friends".

I started collecting antique chess books about 3 years ago (mostly I collect antique chess sets from the 1700's and 1800's). I've been fortunate to be able to acquire a Ringhieri (1551), Grego (1656), Selenus (1616), Severino (1690), and other great books such as the first edition of Philidor's classic L'Analyze des E'checs (1749), the cornerstone of modern chess strategy. Other books include Ponziani, Lolli, Bertin, Twiss, and Stamma. The Stamma book has Stamma's handwritten comments in it.

Just in case anyone is interested, the collection is viewable at


then click on the books photo (scroll down the page). I'm a collector not a dealer, so these books aren't for sale though.

My understanding is that the world's top private collector of antique chess books is none other than GM Lothar Schmid, who was the arbiter for the 1972 Fischer-Spassky match.

Schmidt was also Karpov-Kasparov chief arbiter, in 1985 rematch, if I'm not mistaken.

Several of the problems solutions have been posted on http://www.chessunderground.org if you're interested... I believe they are the first solutions to posted on the web.

Thank you Mig for not pandering to lurid interests. Robert Snyder's abuse case is pertinent to the chess community as it pertains to an individual involved in teaching chess to children. Jessie Gilbert's death involves the chess community, but the abuse allegations do not. I appreciate that you make such distinctions.

I am curious...

Do the owners of these ancient rare chess books take the precaution of having every page scanned or photocopied, just in case something bad happens (theft, fire, misplaced-lost etc)?

Or do they avoid making electronic copies, for fear those copies will leak out to the web, thus reducing the value of the books?

Zinger - I also applaud Mig for not pandering to 'lurid' interests, but I believe that Gilbert's case is interesting (from a chess perspective) because it shows how chess, and talent at playing it, is negatively viewed by the public at large.

Hopefully, these stereotypes can be changed over time if chess can gain a wider and more mainstream audience.

I don't think it reflects that. It shows an interested legal team trying to create and present negatives of any sort (and a media looking for an angle). As I said, they would have done the same had she played go or poker. Yes they use chess stereotypes, and in this it reflects those stereotypes, but that's not the same as general perception. I'm sure all the positive stereotypes of chess would have been employed by the same lawyers had they been on the other side.

Fantastic idea this B:b7 and 0-0. Mig, you must have a real talent for chess problems!

What's annoying is that I thought of that almost immediately but couldn't get Bxb7 Bxb7 to work. So I went back to a dozen other ways of trying to evacuate the white kingside. I even tried some e3 h5 Qxh5 stuff and the like. But really it's counting. There is no mathematical way to deliver mate on h1 without castling or capturing the rook on h1. You just can't clear the squares fast enough because f1 can be blocked by the bishop and g1 by the knight and there is no time to dispose of them. (If you can capture the rook on h1 it's doable in several ways, if still not simple. I also found a way to do it with 5..Rg1#

That brought me back to the Bxb7 theme and I realized it was all about the order. White doesn't have a useful move after Bxb7 Bxb7, but if Black takes on h2 before recapturing on b7, Nh3 doesn't block the rook or the bishop, which is what I had run into the first time around.

I don't do a lot of such puzzles. I try to make sure the puzzles and studies I pick for the newsletters are game-practical. But experience does help. The reason I went for Bxb7 early was that I remembered a past construction puzzle in which the key idea is a capture to free an opposing piece, a la Bxb7 here. If you solve these things regularly I'm sure you get a lot better at the puzzle themes just the way chessplayers want to get better at regular game themes like pins and deflection tactics. I'm not sure they are useful for improving one's regular chess game, but they can definitely be fun. Kudos to Mr. Nunn.

I'm still stuck on number 5- the one I'm currently working on. The closest I've come is the setup:

WKf8 WNd8 Wpg6 BQh1 BKh8

The theme being the knight mate at f7. The problem is black plays, from that position, 1. ...Qa8! and I don't see how white can force a win.

The setup: WKf8 Wpg6 WNg5 BKh8 BQe2 fails brilliantly to 1. ...Qe7+!!! followed by 2. Kxe7 and Kg7, where black wins the pawn.

I know that one because Garry got it in a few minutes blind. Let me know if you get desperate. You have the right idea, it's all about the placement. There are actually two solutions because of the mirror image.

Funny that Kasparov was having trouble with this one...

I posted the solution to that problem on Nunn's chessgames page after working on it for about half an hour. Attacking it with a semi-mathematical approach was my winning method as well (and Nunn is a mathematician, as am I).

I wonder if stronger chess players get caught trying to solve puzzles within the constraints of their gargantuan chess experience (knee jerk recaptures, not castling into it, avoiding bad developing moves), rather than working out the optimized move order mathematically?

Not using a board makes it harder, too. Most strong players I know who can be convinced to do problems consider it cheating, or just boring, to use a board, let alone move the pieces around. I had the idea but I'm not sure I would have noticed the move order change without futzing around on a board.

Hey someone trademarked the word 'Chess'.

Word Mark CHESS
Goods and Services IC 019. US 001 012 033 050. G & S: Wood flooring
IC 035. US 100 101 102. G & S: Retail store services and wholesale distributorships featuring wood flooring

Standard Characters Claimed
Design Search Code
Serial Number 78885633
Filing Date May 17, 2006
Current Filing Basis 1B
Original Filing Basis 1B
Published for Opposition December 19, 2006
Owner (APPLICANT) Wood Floor Mart, Inc. CORPORATION FLORIDA 630 N.W. 113th Street Miami FLORIDA 33168
Attorney of Record Michael B. Chesal
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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on January 7, 2007 3:02 AM.

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