By GM Larry Evans
September 27, 2008
GM Larry Evans
Great Neck, NY
Can you recommend a book that tells us what to do in quiet, dull positions?
It’s been said many times that tactics are what to do when there’s something to do; but strategy is what to do when there’s nothing to do. Improving dull positions in small ways is an art that studying the collected games of Samuel Reshevsky and Tigran Petrosian, for example, will reward. They squeezed tiny advantages out of lifeless positions, and their styles resemble a boa constrictor.
A helpful book is The Amateur’s Mind by Jeremy Silman. It goes beyond tactics or tricks to explore positional elements. My book What’s The Best Move? (out of print) also teaches you how to proceed in boring positions using a multiple choice quiz. I explain why it’s the best move and why both alternatives are inferior.
Los Angeles, CA
In a recent tournament at our local club a well-known master protested being paired with a nationally top-rated 7-year old opponent, calling him a “kindergartener.” Can professionals refuse to face certain players on the grounds that it may cause their reputation embarrassment? In Secrets I Learned From The Chess Masters by Edward Lasker he said he was paired with chess prodigy Sammy Reshevsky and refused to play a “baby” who needed books placed on the seat of his chair to see the board.
You can’t refuse a legitimate pairing.
By the way, a photo of 11-year-old Reshevsky graces page 209 of my book This Crazy World of Chess when he competed in his first tournament at New York 1922 (won by Edward Lasker) after a worldwide tour. Reshevsky finished last with one win, two losses and two draws in five games. Lasker said that after two days the boy was pale and his eyes seemed lifeless.
A month later his parents were charged with “undue exploitation.” The case made headlines but was dismissed when the court appointed a guardian to oversee the boy’s education. His benefactor was Julius Rosenwald, founder of Sears & Roebuck. Sammy finally attended public school at 12 and later graduated from the University of Chicago. In 1935 he resumed his chess career at Margate, England, where he created a sensation by taking first in a field of 10 ahead of the legendary Jose Raoul Capablanca.
A Spectacular Shot
I am requesting a copy of one of your old problems that I used to have up on my refrigerator door to admire. It was the most educational one I ever had the pleasure to solve. Since my daughter is taking up chess, I thought that showing it to her would be great, so that’s when I started looking for it and discovered it was lost.
Unlike a composed problem, this diagram arose between two amateurs in a real game (Christie-Kurzdorfer, New York 1986). White’s initial move was easily the most spectacular shot I saw in a long time. When presenting this game in Chess Life I foolishly added: “How many computers would solve this move, I wonder?”
White Mates in 4
The question should have been: “How many seconds does it take?” I was deluged with letters from readers saying it took their machine a split second to solve. 1.Qe8!! Raxe8 2.f7+ Re5 3.Bxe5+ Rg7 4.f8=Q mate.
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