Today’s 5-second tactics


“Decisiveness is often the art of timely cruelty.”
Henry Becque


Ostrovskiy, Aleksandr


Li, Ethan

From the Philly Open last Saturday.  Position before Black’s 28th move.  White stands better, Black having little coordination and even a pawn less!  Black must do something quick, for otherwise White will simply advance his Kingside pawns and win the game.

Note that the immediate 28…b3?! 29.a3 stops Black’s Queenside play cold.  A better practical try would be 28…c3!?, but after 29.BxN! NxB (29…b3? 30.Bxd5+! wins) 30.Qc2 followed by Qb3 Black still has problems to solve.

Therefore, Black decided to play psychologically and try to shock White, playing a tricky but inferior move (inferior to 28…c3, that is):



Threatening the immediate …Nb3+ winning the Queen.

Psychology is important in chess because , as humans,  our logical thinking processes can  sometimes be derailed by emotions and fears, resulting in our playing (or our opponent for that matter) a confused and lower level of chess.  Most mistakes, for example, can be explained by psychology.  HERE White should have played 29.Kb1! (getting his King out of harm’s way) and after 29…Nd3  30.RxN! PxR 31.Bxf6! and 32.g5 with excellent winning chances.

INSTEAD, White simply walked into Black’s trap:

29.PxN?  b3!  30.Qb1 forced 30…c3!




It is not clear what White had  overlooked, but he is dead lost.  Black threatens mate starting with 31…Pxb2+, and if 31.Bxf6  c2!! wins the house, and I love the picturesque 31.Bc1  c2! mating the White Queen!

Turn-around is fair play!

Rubinstein’s real date of birth?



Few players stand out in modern chess history as much as the great Akiba Rubinstein.  Not only was he a legend in his own time, but his contributions to opening theory have stood the test of time: virtually every major opening system that is popular today is so because the Polish grandmaster discovered, researched  and popularized the weaponary of modern tournament chess players.  Rubinstein defined modern chess theory.



My own chess progress in chess in the mid to late 80′s is largely due to a deep study of Rubinstein’s games.  For a while back in 1983/84 I carried with me a Russian copy of his games where ever I went.  I found inspiration in his games.  Not to mention wisdom and knowledge.  I asked Bent Larsen to autograph this book for me at the New York Open (1984).  A later work on Rubinstein, by IM  John Donaldson, has the autograph of David Bronstein (1996).  In my library I have a half-dozen works on the life and games of this Polish genius.



Akiba giving a simul in Palestine,May 1931.  More images can be found HERE


But this blog article is not about Rubinstein’s greatness.  Instead , it is about his REAL date of birth (DOB).  There appears to be some confusion about this, and if Ela and Jan Kusina are correct, then Rubinstein’s DOB is several years earlier than officially recorded.

According to WIKI and all of the books that I have in my library (including Kmoch’s ”100 Selected Games” and John Donaldson’s ”Uncrowned King”) the official DOB is 12th December, 1882  (or 12th October, depending on which calênder is used).  However, the tombstone of the Great One is 1-12-1880, some two years earlier.






The well respected historical blog ‘Ken Whyld Foundation and Association’ wrote last week: 

”Our Polish friends Ela and Jan Kusina were successful in their research on Akiwa Rubinstein’s date of birth, they have now confirmed by official documents that the DOB 01-12-1880 given on Rubinstein’s gravestone is correct!  

(See the updated Rubinstein entry in our Chess Graves series.)

 Until now mostly October 12, 1882 was quoted to be Rubinstein’s DOB. Maybe Rubinstein has made himself 2 years younger than he was in order to escape military service? (Michael Negele)”



You can also find some more information on the dedicated blog Akiba’s Dream.  Good Reading!

Today’s ”chess” video!

The game of chess does not have a copyright on the word ‘chess’, as can be demonstrated by the fact that not less than 15,000 businesses –none of them having anything to do with the game– incorporate the word ‘chess’ in some manner in their title.



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