AMERICAN CHESS JOURNAL 3: Adolf Anderssen's Immortal Game

ACJ 3 Contents

PDF File of Complete Issue

Notes and Comment

A report on recent bewildering political events in the world of chess: the PCA vs. FIDE, the end of Campomanes's long and stormy reign as FIDE president, the sudden rise of the controversial new president Ilyumzhinov, and the possibilities for reunifying the title. It all begs a question that is not as naive as it sounds: "Who is the world champion?" Some controversy resulting from the article on famed trainer Mark Dvorestsky from ACJ 2. More information about Capablanca's draws in New York 1927 from ACJ 1, from chess historian Dr. Nathan Divinsky. A thoughtful response from Kenneth Whyld, co-author with David Hooper of The Oxford Companion to Chess, to the review of the Companion in ACJ 1. Analytical corrections to Anand-Ivanchuk and Fischer-Keres annotations from ACJ 1, with responses from the authors.

Analysis | The Immortal Game
Robert Huebner

The oft-quoted article by F. L. Amelung represents a high point in the analysis of this game's content. Next, Richard Reti ventured an evaluation of the game. He did not draw upon Amelung's work, and arrived at his own decisive opinions without serious analysis. My views about his opinions can be found throughout this article. Reti must have been reacting to the polemical views of F. Gutmayer. In Reti's time, successful masters were considered "decadent profiteers" ... In newer books the tone is a little different, but is mostly one of condescending admiration such as one uses to praise a five-year-old who has correctly added six and seven ... It appears to me that the quality of analysis on the game has fallen considerably over time.

With all the past commentary we've seen on the offhand game Anderssen-Kieseritzky, London 1851 (the "Immortal Game"), why do we need this new 21-page article by grandmaster Robert Huebner? Because most of what has been written on this game is incorrect: it either praises White's attack too highly, or condemns both players too harshly as primitive stylists. This article errs on neither of these counts, because Huebner begins with the moves, analyzes them as well and as deeply he can, and then draws his own conclusions. After serious analysis of the myriad tactical possibilities of this classic game, he checks his findings against those of the most important commentators -- and finds the traditional sources wanting. Huebner, a former world championship candidate, offers his own radically new conclusions about the quality of play. The article is supplemented with illustrations, an extensive bibliography, and brief biographical sketches of the two players. Robert Huebner is well-known as one of the world's finest and most rigorous chess analysts.

Theory | Lessons from a Single Ending
Mark Dvoretsky

Literature | Cooks, Forks, Waiters: Chess Problems in Vladimir Nabokov's The Defense
Daniel Edelman

"It should be understood that competition in chess problems is not really between White and Black but between the composer and the hypothetical solver (just as in a first-rate work of fiction the real clash is not between the characters but between the author and the world), so that a great part of a problem's value is due to the number of 'tries' -- delusive opening moves, false scents, specious lines of play, astutely and lovingly prepared to lead the would-be solver astray" (Nabokov in Speak, Memory). Starting from this devious background, Nabokov developed similar literary goals.

Daniel Edelman discusses how Vladimir Nabokov's novel The Defense uses motifs from chess problem compositions, for example retrograde analysis, fairy chess, waiting moves, and "solus rex," to determine the structure and plot. Since the beauty in a chess problem lies in the number of false trails the composer directs his unsuspecting solver, it is no wonder that Nabokov took great pleasure in the literary world's unsuccessful attempts to discover the hidden meanings of his works. The article provides background on Nabokov as a chess player, enthusiast, and problem composer, and gives a thumbnail sketch of the plot of the novel. Edelman, an international master, is a Nabokov expert who wrote his Harvard University undergraduate honors thesis on The Defense.

Essay | Chess Rating Systems
Mark E. Glickman

The creation of chess rating systems may have done more to popularize tournament chess than any other single factor. In the 1950s, Arpad Elo (1903-1992) developed the theory of the current U.S. rating system, often called the "Elo system." Elo based his scale on one previously used by the U.S. Chess Federation, which assumed that a rating of 2000 would be equivalent to scoring 50% in a U.S. Open Championship. Elo's system, however, added considerable statistical sophistication. The International Chess Federation (FIDE) adopted Elo's rating system in 1970. Since that time, the system has been adopted with various modifications by many national chess federations. Today it is hard to imagine tournament chess without a rating system.

There are few things that tournament chess players like to talk about, argue about, or even brag about as much as their ratings. Yet most players lack a fundamental understanding of the rating system. This 44-page article by Mark Glickman is a comprehensive discussion of the theory and practice of chess rating systems. He begins with a brief but vivid history of ratings, explaining why they are necessary to the chess world. He compares the Elo system used by chess to the systems in bridge and tennis. He explains the statistical basis for the Elo system in paired comparison theory, putting the discussion on firm mathematical ground. Then he explores intriguing and controversial topics such as shifts in the rating pool (e.g., rating inflation and deflation), the problems of comparing players from different eras, regional and age differences, and the problems posed by scholastic players and other new additions to the rating pool. He describes differences between the USCF, PCA, and FIDE ratings, and discusses how provisional ratings are formed. In a discussion of problems caused by draws and by the inequality of colors in chess, he suggests how we might be able to improve the current rating system. Glickman is a USCF master, professor of mathematics at Boston University, a noted statistician, and chairman of the USCF Ratings Committee. He is the creator of the "Glicko" ratings used by Internet chess servers and one of the world's leading experts on chess ratings.

Movies | Chess N the Hood: A Review of Fresh
Jamie Hamilton

Books | Cold Comfort: A Review of End Game
Burt Hochberg

Burt Hochberg, former editor of Chess Life, reviews Dominic Lawson's book on the PCA world championship match between Garry Kasparov and Nigel Short. Lawson is a close friend of Short, and Hochberg finds plenty of evidence that Lawson's inevitable bias colors the entire book. Hochberg uses biting humor and hilarious examples from the text to make his points.

Books | A Classic Study of Fischer's Style: A Review of Bobby Fischer: A Study of His Approach to Chess
Fred Wilson

Fred Wilson, a dealer of chess books in New York City, reviews Elie Agur's book on Fischer's style. Wilson describes how Agur has organized the book, discusses excerpts from the text, and praises the author for making an original contribution to an important subject.

Books | Let Us Now Quote Famous Men: A Review of Journal of a Chessmaster
Alex Dunne

Alex Dunne, columnist on corrrespondence chess for Chess Life, write a positive review of Stephan Gerzadowicz's book about his correspondence career. Dunne enjoys the author's writing style, especially his frequent quotations from non-chess sources. Dunne recommends the book especially to correspondence players and aficionados of the Rat (1 ... g6).

Brief Reviews

Many recent publications are briefly reviewed and conveniently classified into game collections, tournament books, endgames, middlegame theory, tactical exercises, openings, fiction, videotapes, software, and equipment. Notable items include Polugayevsky's Grandmaster Achievement, Tarrasch's St. Petersburg 1914 International Chess Tournament, Nunn's Secrets of Pawnless Endings, Tal's Attack With Mikhail Tal, Donaldson and Silman's Accelerated Dragons, Weeramantry's Best Lessons of a Chess Coach, and the Chronos Digital Game Clock.

This page last modified on 28 April 2018.
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