Champion Patrick Wolff

ACJ 2 Contents

PDF File of Complete Issue

Notes and Comment

An amusing media reaction to an exhibition by the Polgar sisters in Boston, a report on the opening of the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame, news of an auction of chess collectibles, an update on Bobby Fischer after his re-emergence in 1992, and some evidence from Arnold Denker regarding the 1927 New York tournament.
Profile | The World's Best Chess Trainer
Timothy Hanke

Dvoretsky is now hard at work on an interactive computer program that will solve [an important training problem] by incorporating his entire collection of positions organized by theme ... I asked Dvoretsky how much the program will cost. "It will be very expensive," he told me. I suggested that he might sell more copies and make more money if he offered it at a lower price. He replied, "I don't care if I sell more copies. This material is not for everyone." He is proud of his work as a trainer over the past 20 years and considers this computer program to be a kind of summation of his achievement. It seems to be a matter of principle for him that his work must not go cheap.

International master Mark Dvoretsky has successfully trained many strong players, including world championship candidates Artur Yusupov and Sergei Dolmatov. Timothy Hanke writes a profile of Dvoretsky, considering him as a player, a professional trainer, an author, and a man. The job of chess trainer is a Soviet phenomenon, foreign but intriguing to a contemporary American audience. This article paints a vivid picture of how Mark Dvoretsky came to answer his unusual calling in life. Hanke shows how Dvoretsky espouses an organized, logical, almost Botvinnik-like approach to chess training, but nevertheless plays chess in a highly imaginative and tactical style. The article contains an annotated Dvoretsky game, a survey of Dvoretsky's books and articles, documentation of the author's own lesson with Dvoretsky, some comments by noted American chess trainer Bruce Pandolfini, and a description of Dvoretsky's training methods. Hanke is the Managing Editor of American Chess Journal.

Analysis | Lein-Dvoretsky, Moscow 1973: Whose Strategy Will Triumph?
Mark Dvoretsky

The grandmaster M. Matulovic paid a great deal of attention to opening theory. He is said to have kept scrupulous records of the outcomes of his opening duels and derived a lot of his pleasure in chess from them. His tournament results, though, were notably worse. I wanted to win this game, but not at the hasty expense of skipping the middlegame. For that to happen I could not relax -- I had to work further.

This issue provides more insight into the persona of Mark Dvoretsky with this annotated game, by which Dvoretsky won the Moscow City Championship. He shows that in this game -- as with so many others -- the focus is a single strategic battle, but the moves in that battle are all determined by minute tactical considerations. This game is interesting for its own sake, and the reader can profit from Dvoretsky's practical advice scattered throughout the notes. He calls this one of the best games of his career -- but rather than showing it off as a personal achievement, characteristically uses it to illustrate practical chess lessons.

Essay | Chess Art in the Computer Age
Noam D. Elkies

New computer-generated theory can likewise inspire new endgame compositions ... One fruitful approach is to generate a list of mutual zugzwangs -- those rare positions that are won only when it is the opponent's turn to move. Even in six-man endgames with all pieces distinct, with a total of over 100 billion positions, one usually finds at most a few hundred mutual zugzwangs, many of which give rise to the kind of distinctive play prized by composers and solvers of studies.

Noam D. Elkies shows how computer technology has had a profound effect on chess problem composition, perhaps an even greater effect than on practical over-the-board play. Chess art must pass the test of satisfying the human aesthetic, but unlike other art forms, it must also satisfy the stringent scientific criterion of soundness. He illustrates, with many remarkable, aesthetically pleasing examples, how the computer can be used to refute some old problems, to help verify the correctness of new ones, and even to provide constructive help for new creations. For example, Elkies composed (especially for this article), an endgame study culminating in a computer-discovered four-queen mutual zugzwang position. The problem world is ideal for the computer, because of its powers of creating and storing databases of endgames and of checking problem variations, nearly always rich in complex and tactical content which can baffle the human intuition. Elkies, a noted endgame composer and a professor of mathematics at Harvard University, is the right man to explore the arcane and wondrous universe of chess aesthetics.

Theory | The Mystery of Bad Bishops
Boris Gulko

Perhaps the solution to the mystery of bad bishops is that bishops keep the qualities of their owners, so stronger players have better bishops than weaker players ... In 1989 I gave a lecture, where I discussed the game I won against Bent Larsen at Hastings 1988-89. In that game my bad bishop played an important role in my attack. One listener told me afterwards, "Before your lecture I thought I understood one element of chess strategy -- good and bad bishops. Now I realize that I don't understand anything." I was proud to have raised at least one player's understanding of chess strategy to a higher level.

In this article grandmaster Boris Gulko delves into the question of good and bad bishops. We have been taught by Steinitz to put our pawns on the squares of the opposite color to our own bishops, and that a bishop blocked by our own pawns is considered to be "bad." However, since our opponent's pawns can also block the movement of our bishops, the question of good and bad bishops is not merely black and white. Using well-chosen examples, Gulko shows how in one case, it can be worth more than a pawn to saddle one's opponent with a bad bishop, whereas in another context, a so-called "bad" bishop can easily be worth more than a rook. Is it time to question and re-evaluate our prejudices about the "bad" French and King's Indian bishops? This article will help you to recognize a bishop's prospects in a given position. Gulko, a player respected for his deep understanding of strategy, is one of the few men in the world to have a positive tournament score against Garry Kasparov. This article was translated into Russian from the ACJ original and published in the magazine 64, issue 9-10 of 1994.

On the Scene | Winning the U.S. Championship: Reflections and Annotations
Patrick Wolff

Losses are tough to deal with, but some are more painful than others. Losing this game, which I knew I had played very badly, drained my confidence. That sounds odd in a way, because you would think that it is the game you lose despite your best efforts that would sap your confidence. But when I lost to Gulko a few rounds later in a game where I just got my butt whacked, I did not feel nearly as drained as I did after this loss to Ilya. I think it is because true strength or weakness comes from a feeling about yourself, and not which games you win or lose. No one feels "weak" because he can't lift a truck, because no one is expected to be able to lift a truck. If you fulfill your own expectations, you will feel "strong," even if you encounter a setback.

GM Patrick Wolff recalls his first successful journey through the U.S. Closed Championship, including both his personal perspective and -- in the form of annotated games -- the events on the chessboard. His prose is informal and frank, and his discussion of life at the top of chess will interest any rank-and-file player. He talks about how a professional chessplayer can and can't make money, and he candidly admits the central element that luck can play in chess successes. Readers will enjoy his ruminations about the results of his games, fitting for a Harvard philosophy major. He annotates the games in which he sprinted to the tournament finish-line, defeating GMs Benjamin and Browne from opposite sides of the Sicilian. Wolff's annotations, always objective, are instructive as examples of the thinking processes of one of the strongest US players today. The Browne game culminated in a problem-like exchange-up position that is important for endgame theory. As a bonus, the text is accompanied by amusing caricatures of Benjamin and Browne. Patrick Wolff is a two-time US Chess Champion (having since won again in 1995) and the Technical Editor of the American Chess Journal.

Memoir | The Education of a Chess Anthologist
Burt Hochberg

Movies | A Great Chess Movie: A Review of Searching for Bobby Fischer
Frank Brady

Books | Kasparov Revealed: A Review of Mortal Games
Christopher Chabris

Books | Instant Fischer: A Review of Six Books on Fischer-Spassky 1992
Edward Winter

Edward Winter, a reviewer with fine perception and a direct and witty style, gives his often acerbic opinions of six books quickly churned out after the Sveti Stefan match: Bobby Fischer vs. Boris Spassky (Peters), The 1992 Rematch, Fischer-Spassky 1992: World Chess Championship Rematch (Shamkovich and Cartier), The Art of War Revisited -- Robert J. Fischer vs. Boris V. Spassky 1992 (White), Bobby Fischer: The $5,000,000 Comeback (Davies, Pein and Levitt), Fischer-Spassky II: The Return of a Legend (Keene), and No Regrets (Seirawan and Stefanovic).

Brief Reviews

Recent publications are briefly noted, including a book on king-and-pawn endings by Fishbein, a 47-page book by Schiller devoted entirely to the extraordinary game Polugayevsky-Nezhmetdinov, Sochi 1958, and seven recent books on Alekhine.

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