Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The funny side of the 1957 Dublin Zonal

Today I want to share this very humorous view of the 1957 Dublin Zonal. I am normally reluctant to post stuff unless I know all the background information - but I am posting hoping that my more learned readers can provide more information. 

Chess Masters are Human

Mlle Pour-quoi Pas

Several years ago I asked a friend of mine what chess was all about. He answered vaguely without raising his eyes from the board, ‘The object of the game is to get a mate’. Well, what do you know! Since that had been my professed object from the age of sixteen I got right down to the game. We-ell, lets be honest – which of us is in it for the love of it?
I joined a club, learnt the moves and looked about me. After a while I realized there was one thing chess-players had in common – there were all different- if you know what I mean!! They say them-selves they are just tempermental. I’d say 25 per cent temper , the rest mental! I soon discovered there were degrees of chessmanship – rabbit, player, master and grandmaster – and I looked forward to any tournament that would bring some of the masters across so I could get a straight look at them. After all, if the rabbits and players were a crazy, mixed-up gang surely one could expect at least extreme individuality if not a little gentle lunacy from the masters. You can’t be all that brainy without being a little soft somewhere!
The first masters to come here were Robert Wade and John Fuller. I watched them curiously at the opening of the tournament as they stood, polite but aloof, discussing ‘variations’ with ‘patzers’, and signed autographs. At the close of the evening we all adjourned to the school kitchen for the inevitable Irish ‘last cup of tea’. The masters sipped theirs surrounded by admiring crowds whilst I, mentally wishing them all to Jericho, tackled a mountain of dishes. Suddenly Wade edged his way out of the crowd and, without a word, rolled up his sleeves and tucked into the washing!!
Since that auspicious beginning I have met many of the masters and discovered in each of them a type of dual personality that is absolutely fascinating. Over-the-board they are intellectual giants, serious, calculating, fighting brain to brain every inch of the way. Away from the game there are like children, delightfully natural and ingenuous, kindly and gentle, but above all, intensely human.
This year’s Zonal Tournament gave me a further opportunity to observe the masters in all their moods. When I went down first, I wandered over to the Czechoslovak contingent, obeying Rule No. 1 for Rabbits – ‘Never miss a Czech – it might be mate!’ There I found Ludek Pachman with unaffected simplicity telling some hair-raising jokes in beautiful, broken English, whilst his second, Georg Fichtl, beamed at him approvingly – without understanding a word!
Earlier in the day Fichtl, his head in a chess cloud, jay-walked across Dublin’s main thoroughfare causing a minor traffic jam. The guard on point duty collared him and produced the inevitable notebook and pencil. Fichtl just shrugged his shoulders indifferently and said, ‘I no speak English. I Czechoslovak chess-player’. The guard looked at him with a new respect and, holding up the traffic, ushered him majestically across.
Another master with language difficulties was Pal Benko. Despite the fact that he spoke neither English nor French and only had a smattering of German he became tremendously popular. Everyone liked the big Hungarian who, ‘speaks no English’, and that shortly became the only English phrase he did know. One afternoon when he went to post a letter, the tournament controller, Joe Keenan, brought him to the wrong entrance of the post office. When an official came to direct them Benko tapped him on the shoulder and, pointing to Keenan, said ‘He speaks no English!’
Altogether that tournament left me some great memories. Of wonderful game of chess?? Well, no, they leave me as bewildered as a duck in thunder. But of little things. Of Lothar Schmid, his back to the hotel authorities contentedly munching a leg of chicken obtained no one knows how; of Francisco Perez falling asleep in the dress circle at the Opera; of Kurt Dreyer peacefully sucking his silver-stemmed pipe and chuckling gently at the ‘patzer’ who asked how it was that he, coming from South Africa, spoke such good German; and Stenborg proudly displaying photos of his beautiful wife and children; of Doodah playing Irish dance music; of Giustolisi, the sad-eyed Italian, who had there fiancĂ©es in Rome and wanted one in Ireland; of Gligoric tying himself in knots to progressive jazz; of Conrady playing table tennis like a ballet dancer; of Alexander fussing about the lack of formality of the tournament, then shrugging his shoulders and saying, ‘Sure I’m Irish myself!’; of Durao gazing dismally into a mirror and commenting rather sadly, ‘You know every man in Portugal is more handsome than I’ and of the inimitable Pachman laughing so much over a game of poker that he rolled fully-dressed into the sea.
Though I’ve never managed to get a mate, live or otherwise, it has been wonderful to make the acquaintanceship of these kings of the board, these charming chess nuts who combine genius with simplicity, and brilliance with naivety to make such delightful and unusual companions. And who know, some day perhaps, I may be able to regard them all as chess mates?

‘The Chess player's Bedside Book’, Ray Keene, Ray Edwards (eds) Batsford, 1975.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A look back at club chess in Ireland.

While doing some research recently I came across the following article in the Duhallow Magaazine in the local history section of Cork library.  It is rather vague on specific dates but is still of some interest. John Reid was Irish Champion in 1961 and shared the title in 1962. I thought I'd share it and hope others will also find it of interest.

World Championship Chess
in Coolclough

Coolclough is a townland approximately five miles south west of Kanturk, in the parish of Dromtariffe, in the diocese of Kerry, in the County of Cork.
In Irish the name of the townland is Cul Cloch; Cul or Cuil meaning a space enclosed by the confluence of two rivers, or a bend in the river; and Cloch meaning 'stones" - very likely the stones used for crossing the river - often referred to as 'stepping stones'.
In the Irish language, that part of the river was known as - 'Ath na gGorp' - in English - the 'Ford of the Corpses', presumably from the difficulty encountered in taking corpses across the river over the aforementioned stepping stones on the way to interment in nearby Dromtariffe Cemetery. That Southern part of Coolclough townland is still referred to as 'The Ford'.
In the Cenus of 1841, four years prior to the great famine, Coolclough had a population of 550, and being the greatest centre of population in the area, it gave its name to the group of townlands known as the Electoral Division of Coolclough.
At that time, Coolclough could boast of three shops, two public houses, a school and a Catholic Church, and one of the three football clubs whose members played under a set of rules known as 'Rough and Tumble', prior to the foundation of the Gaelic Athletic Association, in 1884. The other football clubs in Duhallow were Coiseim and Millstreet.
In the year 1949, Andrew Forest, a Coolclough farmer and author of a book on his own life and times entitled - 'The Story Could be Worse', came into possession of a chess set and board. Andrew had no knowledge of the game. He mentioned the problem to his friend, Seamus Walsh, who luckily knew an Englishman, named Campbell, who could play the game. Soon Andrew Forest, Jerome Murphy, and Con Fitzgerald had learned the moves; and games were, usually, played in the home of Con Fitzpatrick. Con's brother-in-law, Dan O'Shea, introduced the game to a member of the Garda Siochana, John Reid, who had time on his hands as he recuperated after an accident. John Reid found others who could play, and a chess club was formed.
The proceeds of a card drive, £40, helped to defray the initial expenses. A comfortable room, with a coal fire laid on, was provided by Sheila Nunan, at the Ford, Coolclough.
To raise above the mundane, the new chess club was named - 'L'Avenir', a French word meaning 'Future', chess practice was arranged for 8 p.m. to midnight, twice weekly, and L'Avenir was ushered into the present.
L'Avenir was entered for all competitions. A local competition commenced, and a chess team of ten players was entered in a postal chess competition. Four players, John Reid, Seamus Walsh, Andrew Forest, and Karl Holland were entered for the Plunket Cup. This Senior Competition was too ambitious but the players learned quickly from their defeat, and enjoyed the experience.
In the first year in Postal Chess, the club came fourth in Division Four. In the second year, the club won Division 3 and brought the J.J. O'Hanlon Cup to Ireland. Next year, the club won Division Two, and the Derbyshire Trophy, and qualified for Division One. Coventry won the Division with a score of 26.5 points. L'Avenir came in second, with a score of 26 points.
In the Golden Knights Tournament, L'Avenir defeated Milford; Cork C.Y.M.S. defeated Kilfinane, and in the final, with victories for Reid and draws for Denis and Con Duggan, and a win for O'Keefe on the fifth board, all depended on L'Avenir's Eddie Thornton on the sixth board. As the sixth was not completed on the deadline, the position was sent to Sutton Coldfield in England for adjudication; and back came the news that Thornton had won. So L'Avenir had won the Golden Knight's Tournament.
L'Avenir again had four players in the Senior Plunket Cup; they were John Reid, Denis Duggan, Con Duggan, and Bill O'Keefe. John Reid drew with E.N. Mulcahy, Irish Champion, and then had a string of victories, while hoping that someone would oblige and defeat Mulcahy. O'Leary of Cork C.Y.M.S. did the needful. O'Leary lost to Con Duggan, so Reid had won the Plunket Cup, and was champion of Cork.
The same L'Avenir team of Reid, Denis Duggan, Con Duggan, and William O'Keefe competed for the Tostal Trophy, and with 16 teams competing. easily romped into the last four, and with victories for Denis Duggan over Dr. Hutch, and wins also for W. O'Keefe, Con Duggan, and Reid, the Coolclough team won the final against Mitchelstown. John Reid won the Irish Chess Championship at the second attempt, and both he and E.N. Mulcahy, the Irish Champion of the proceeding year, played chess for Ireland in the Olympics.
Con Duggan entered the Premier Reserves, an event run in conjunction with the Irish championship, and with 10 wins and 2 draws, won the event. Con also played in the Irish Championship and finished half way up the table. Bill O'Keefe also playyed and lost to the grand old man of Irish Chess, J.J. O'Hanlon, then in his 80th year.
When Leonard Barden won the British Championship, he came to Ireland and gave successive displays in Dublin, Cork and Killfinane. In Killfinane, he had 27 wins and 2 draws, but lost once to Denis Duggan of L'Avenir. In Cork, he had 29 wins and one draw, but lost to H. Deane-Roe.
Then came the great game against Killfinane in Coolclough. With five games played, the teams were level, and Eddie Thornton was winning well in the sixth game, but as celebrations were about to commence, the awful news came that Eddie had blundered and the game was lost. With song and dance and recitation until day-break, Kilfinnane showed all and sundry how to celebrate.
L'Avenir came second again in the Postal Chess of that year. The Line-up was: 1. John Reid, 2. Dennis Duggan, 3. Con Duggan, 4. F. Brennan, 5. W. O'Keefe, 6. Eddie Thorton and James Barrett could always be relied on if anyone were missing. John Reid was promoted Sergeant, and having married Marion Deady of Banteer, was transferred to Adare. Con Duggan was called to Garda Training School in Templemore. Bill O'Keefe retired to take up the more relaxing game of Bridge, and chess languished in Coolclough.
Andrew Forest spearheaded an attempt to revive the club in 1960. New yound members such as Jeremiah and Michael John Neville, Jerry and Ronnie O'Leary, Denis and Seamus Moynihan, Denis and John O'Donoghue, Tommy Lande and Peter and Brendan Tancred were enlisted. A team was entered for the Junior Championship, and had two victories over Crescent College Limerick; but the effort soon disintegrated, and the glories of L'Avenir were in the Past.

Duhallow Magazine
Vol. XIII 2003.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Mr. Rynd the Arch Deceiver?

I am sorry to say that after further research I have stumbled upon an article by John Roycroft in EG143 that sheds serious doubt on the honesty of our Mr. Porterfield Rynd. It appears Mr. Rynd in one of his columns laid claim to having played the variation that later became famous as the Saavedra position.

This is the famous position. It was initially published in an 1895 chess column with the solution

1.c7 Rd6+ 2.Kb5 Rd5+ 3.Kb4 Rd4+ 4.Kb3 Rd3+ 5.Kc2 Rd4, followed by 6.c8=Q Rc4+ 7.Qxc4 stalemate.

Rev. Fernando Saavedra (1849-1922), a sharp-eyed reader of the column, pointed out that 6.c8=R Ra4 7.Kb3 wins, and the Saavedra position was born.

Mr. Rynd claimed that while the Rev. Saavedra was visiting Dublin he had seen his play and therefore Mr. Rynd should get credit for the discovery.

Mr. Roycroft being a fair historian states that Mr. Rynd's honesty should not be doubted unless further examples of his claims can be found. I cannot prove as yet that the last posts position was constructed however, it is a possibility and therefore does slightly tarnish the game. Mr. Roycroft also states that Mr. Rynd claimed to have won a match against Amos Burn although no prove of same can be found.

In all fairness there is also verifiable proof that Mr. Rynd was quite a strong player, winning the 1865 Irish Championship and with victories over W.H. Pollock, etc. But I think Mr. Roycrofts findings are spot on and detract from his other achievements.

Mr. Porterfield Rynd was quite opinionated and wasn't shy of controversy. As this clipping from the "Otago Witness" of 8th Sept 1892 shows.

Despite it all a very interesting character and one who will keep historians on their toes.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Forgotten Gem!

While doing some research recently I came across the following clipping. Hope you enjoy!



The end-game below occurred in actual play recently, and was first published by the Dublin Mail. It suggests the following remarks to the Times-Democrat :- "It must be confessed that it is not easy to define in limited or exact phraseology what is implied by the term 'finesse,' in chessplay. Perhaps as nearly correct as any definition would be that characteristic displayed in 'a move, or a series of moves, of such type as to induce (not compel) the adversary to play an answering move, or series of moves, apparently fortifying his position or increasing his attack, but, altogether, resulting in the development of a position which the finessing player is seeking to attain for a decisive coup.' But this is assuredly a long-winded, if precise definition, and needs some piquant illustration like the following position occurring in a game played a time time ago between Mr. Portefield Rynd, of Dublin, the leading Irish player, and Mr. Shepheard, of London.

BLACK, 8 (Mr. Shepheard).
WHITE, 10 (Mr. Rynd).

White having to play, the game proceeded :-

1.Re3 !
A beautifully subtle move, displaying chess finessing of high order. White seemingly plays here primarily to prevent Black's menaced perpetual check by Nb3 amd Nc1+, or to tempt Black into the incautious capture of the rook, which would be instantly fatal by 2.Qc7+, etc.
But Black thinks he sees the scheme in the entirety, and, in turn, threatens one of his
own. He now menaces the safe capture of the rook after first playing Rxb5! Note bene, he is already the exchange ahead.
A possible check before, but then more brutum fulmen. Now, the first whisper of genuine thunder.
We wonder if Black heard it as he played?
3.Rd3 !! Resigns.
A thunderbolt itself! If  3...Rxd8 4.Qxc8#; if 3...Nxd3 Rxd8#; if 3...Qxd3 4.Bxd3 and wins easily; and finally, if 3...Qg5 4.hxg5 and wins still more easily. An elegant wind--up, and all the outcome of that one little, finessing move.

('The New Zealand Herald,' 19 March, 1892)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Chess Puzzle

Sorry for the delay in posts - I was away on holiday's for two weeks and the Irish Chess Journal was my priority before that.

Came across the above position recently: White to play and win with a beautiful combination. 

Solution to last position:
Karpov - Taimanov
Leningrad, 1977
1...Ng3+!! 2.hxg3 Ra8! 0-1 
This game is justly famous for its brilliant Knight sacrifice, sometimes referred to as the "Taimanov" sacrifice, and the planned follow-up with the Rook. The final combination is indeed beautiful however, Karpov had blundered to reach the position.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Chess Puzzle

This week's position:

The above position is quite famous - so if it is familiar to some I am sorry. However, I think it's a brilliant position - Black to play and win.

Solution to last position:
Penrose - Jones
1979 British Championship
1.Qd8! Nb6 (1...Rxd8 2.cxd8+ Qxd8 3.Nc7+) 2.Ba5 the game ended 2...Bf6 3.Qxf8+ Qxf8 4.Bxb6 Qc8 5.Nc7+ 1-0

Friday, July 22, 2011

'Evening Echo', Tuesday, 26 April, 1994.

CCYMS bridge six-year gap

CCYMS bridged a six-year gap when they won Division One of the Munster Senior League for the first time since 1988 at Cahir the weekend before last.
In the closest finish for many years, the Young Men's side edged out Limerick A by the narrowest of margins. Douglas, holders of the title for the last five years and current All-Ireland Club champions, had to settle for third place.
Final standing: 1. CCYMS 41; 2. Limerick A 40.5; 3. Douglas 36.5; 4. Charleville 29; 5. Waterford 28.5; 6. Limerick B 19; 7. West Cork 15.5.
CCYMS took a 3.5 points lead over Limerick into the final round at Cahir where they faced Douglas. The Shannonsiders, meanwhile, were paired against tailenders West Cork. In an eventful finale, Limerick A duly dispatched their opponents 5-0, leaving CCYMS requiring at least two points for the title. This they achieved, despite going under 2-43 to the holders.
The victorious CCYMS team members in board order were Kieran Moynihan, Tadgh O'Leary, Finbarr Allison, Pat Twomey and Tom Myers.
CCYMS will now go on to represent Munster in the All-Ireland Club Championships.

West Cork are relegated to Division Two and Cork City A, winners of the second division title, are promoted.