Chess,news,music,sex,nonsense (Yes!)



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I came across these photos of Emanuel Lasker on the great Blog ”Quienes jugaron ajedrez”  Some I had seen before, but most were completely new to me.  ENJOY!  I suggest you take a look at the blog and investigate….



Readers of this blog will have noticed that I like to post material about chess cafes and pubs (and disco’s) that use the name or theme or whatever with ‘CHESS’.  Today it is the turn of a popular site in Brazil.  WEBSITE  INSTAGRAM  FACEBOOK.


Chess, news, tidbits and potpourri

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Today’s chess(?!) video




I had not before seen this 1986 video produced by the BBC (William Hartston) for the occasion of the Karpov-Kasparov match (London/St.Petersburg 1986).  It was first put on YouTube in October, 2013, and has since accumulated more than 54k views. I recommend the reader to take a look at it, especially because of some rare Fischer-footage. Remember that Fischer was born 73 years ago yesterday. ENJOY!

Bobby Fischer: 8 years and counting!



Today, January 17, we mark the 8th  anniversary of the death of the greatest chess player that has ever walked the earth. (What follows was originally published on my blog on January 17, 2009. I feel that it is worth re-publishing even today) That is high praise, and only a truly worthy champion can be put ahead of such magnificent giants the chess world has produced: Philidor, Staunton, Morphy, Steinitz, Lasker, Capablanca, Rubinstein, Alekhine, Botvinnik, Smyslov, Tal, Petrosian, Spassky, Keres, Karpov and Kasparov. Exalted company.


Bobby Fischer was also the most photographed player of modern times. On the internet literally thousands of photos have been archived. A google search reveals millions of hits. He was the most exciting player the game has seen since Morphy. People who have met him often use the word ‘electrifying’ to describe his presence when he walked into a room.

His games , ever since a young lad, attracted multitudes of spectators and admirers. Superstar magnetism.

Fischer ,barely a teen, already showing superstar greatness


No chessplayer that I have ever heard of has received mail from hundreds of female fans , many with marriage proposals! Bobby Fischer was idolized around the world ever since he burst on to the scene at the age of 13.

A mega star almost all of his life

Fischer, just a boy, arriving for his first European tournament

Fischer became the youngest US champion at the age of 14. At 15 he was already an elite grandmaster and candidate for the highest title in the chess world. But he had to deal with reality: the cold war was raging and the Soviet political leaders especially refused to allow an American (no matter how talented) threaten their national game. Much talk of collusion between Fischer’s Soviet opponents to try to stop him , of the KGB stalking Fischer all of his career and of a FIDE world championship structure deliberately designed to thwart any threat to the Soviets coloured Fischer’s long march to become the 11th World Champion. Much has been proven to be true since secret documents have been made public recently.


Fischer’s genius apart, Bobby was a normal American like any other. A decent person. Likeable and charitable. Even the Soviet superstars found his boyish charm disarming. (photo, below)

Fischer visiting Tal in the hospital in 1962

Fischer, Tal, Polugaevsky and Spassky analyzing in Havana 1966. He was respected and admired by all

Fischer playing the Serbian legend S.Gligoric. Curiously, Gligoric had a very good score against Bobby before 1965.

Fischer playing the reigning World Champion, Botvinnik, in 1962. Botvinnik managed to draw a lost game, but came away immensely impressed by the talented American

When the Soviet authorities caught a glimpse of Botvinnik’s positive comments about the talented American, they understood that there was an ideological contradiction in the works. So soon afterwards, Botvinnik was more careful in his remarks, and rarely let any Fischer success go unpunished: either his opponents were ‘sick’ or Bobby ‘lucky’, or Fischer won only because of his fabulous memory and once he turned 30 he would go downhill quickly ! Botvinnik knew that there was no point in fighting the politicians…

When Fischer briefly withdrew from competition because of ‘Soviet cheating’ in the early 60’s, he toured the US and Canada , giving simuls and lectures. I remember when he came to Montreal : I was not playing chess at the time, but Fischer appeared on TV playing a blitz game with Lazlo Witt. (Witt won!)


From a discussion I had with Zvonko Vranesic (who attended a Fischer lecture in Toronto), Bobby’s lectures were filled with profound thoughts and ideas. One of them was that the Queen’s real prowess could only be realized by drawing upon her the firepower of the enemy, and just when it seems she is about to be captured…she uses her power to jump to the other side of the board!

Ofcourse Bobby could be a difficult person. Fischer developed an ego to go along with his superstar status. He demanded the best conditions from organizers. He walked out if something was not perfect. He represented something that was the beginning of the professionalization of chess.


In 1967 , the US chess federation received an invitation from the Prince of Monaco for three American chess players to play in the Monaco Internation Chess Tournament….but with the condition that one of those three player must be Fischer. Fischer participated and won the tournament, but proved to be a bit difficult. The following year, the US chess federation received another invitation from the Prince for 3 players to participate in the tournament, but with the condition that NONE of the players be Fischer!

Fischer disappeared from international competition for about 18 months in the late 60’s, making a comeback in the spring of 1970. Shortly before this, he authored a best selling book of his games. I remember this period very well since I had just recently started getting involved in school tournaments in Montreal and the excitement that Fischer generated in the chess community was palpable! I have never seen anything like it since: he was a god to chess amateurs! The living legend had descended from the clouds to settle business with the Soviets…

Spassky vs Fischer, Siegen Olympiad 1970


Bobby won everything he played in in 1970, and he played a lot! His games were amazing. If Mozart was a chessplayer, then he surely would be Fischer. Bobby was quickly nearing his peak. It was especially for this reason that there was unparalleled interest when he met Fischer at the Siegen Olympiad. (Spassky won!)

Then in 1971 began Fischer’s run up to Mount Olympus. 6-0 scores against both Tajmanov and Larsen. Nobody could believe it! The American media started to take notice. The Soviets’ attempts at thwarting the American genius were doomed: Fischer had pressured FIDE to put in place a qualification structure where collusion and cheating were next to impossible.


Larsen complained of high blood pressure during his match, and had to be hospitalized for a brief time. But his defeat was deserved! I think it was the great S.Tartakower who said that in all of his life he had never beaten a truly healthy opponent!

When Fischer met the Armenian grandmaster and former World Champion Tigran Petrosian in Buenos Aires in late 1971, thousands of spectators showed up every game. There was pandomonium in the streets! Hundreds of journalists from all over the world flew into the Argentine capital to watch history unfold.

If you are attentive, then you will have noticed that Fischer at the board always leaned forward. And what a great match it was ! Fischer won the first game. Petrosian the second. After 5 games, the match stood even. But then Fischer won 4 games in a row!! Petrosian had never lost 4 games in a row in his whole life…he also called the doctors! But what could medicine do against historical destiny?

Fischer in the final game of the match. He had just played his king pawn forward,and Petrosian was on the move. He looked worried. Undoubtedly he was more concerned about how the Soviet authorities would react when he returned home than on trying to win the game. He was a defeated man. Fischer had earned the right to play for the World Championship!!

When I was in Buenos Aires in August/September 2005, I made a point to visit the theatre where the Fischer – Petrosian match was held. It had little changed since then! I was reminded of the photos published in magazines showing thousands of spectators crowding the street infront of the theatre…curiously the theatre is only 5 minutes walk from the location of the famous Capablanca vs Alekhine match of 1927!

And we all know how history turned out. Spassky saved his honour, but could not stop what had been destined by the gods.

It is known that in the run up to the 1972 negotiations for the Fischer-Spassky match there were grave obstacles that had to be overcome. Fischer wanted more prize money. The Soviets refused to give an inch in the negotiations. Fischer more than once backed away. But the world in 1972 was still at the height of the Cold War, ‘detente’ was being constructed, and it was important for both the Americans and the Soviets that the match be held. In the end, high level politicians saved the day: Henry Kissinger had to phone Bobby to convince the American genius to go to Iceland. Fischer was a patriot.

In 1975 the much anticipated Karpov vs Fischer match never took place, even though a 5 million dollar prize fund was fully guaranteed, and Fischer never played again until 1992 (and then just as quickly disappeared). I suppose any good story of the life of a rebel genius must end in tragedy! The gods need reasons to cry. I believe that it was for political reasons that the 1972 match was saved by the White House, and that by the time 1975 came around the world was already a very different place. Nixon had been forced out of the White House the previous summer. Helinski was already done, the Viet Nam war was over and chess/Fischer was simply no longer a priority. Fischer was already a lving legend, and had nothing to gain. He had won the World Championship, chess was popular and booming, and we should not let escape that the chess politicians in FIDE saw little to be gained by having Fischer risk losing his title to a Russian… today it is every chessplayer who is nostalgic of those times and all wish they could turn back the clock and re-write the fateful decisions made.

Sitting by the original board from the historic 1972 match

Fischer has found peace in Iceland


What does Bobby Fischer mean to me personally? I never met him, but as a chessplayer he represents something that is bigger than the game itself. Chess , the game, can never have a very big appeal (compared to poker or tennis or soccer) by itself. It is , after all, a very difficult game that requires hard work and dedication. It requires an unusual combination of passion and craziness to be a chess fan.

Undoubtedly, in my lifetime, Bobby Fischer will have been the only individual to have made chess universally appealing. And probably will be the only one to do so in all of human history.

What was it that made Fischer great? What was it that made him a living legend, and now that he is dead…will he become the ‘Elvis Presley’ of the chess culture? I am not sure, but I think that we must remember that Fischer was only too human. He had to deal with the pressures of superstardom alone. He had no real family, and few friends. He was a fragile human being.

Even after his death, Bobby generates controversy and intrigue.  His estate is being fought over by his american family, as well as by his wife and a woman claiming to have his child!


And like every true genius, there must some element of tragedy, something that makes us feel sad within when the story is complete. Is the tragedy of Bobby Fischer that he never played again after winning the World Championship, or is the tragedy about his final years in disgrace (before finding a friendly haven in Iceland)? I don’t know, and your answer is as good as mine.

In all of my years as a chessplayer (fan), I have to say that I have never seen anything like the fever that Bobby Fischer created. Chess is supposed to be dull! Bobby generated excitement and controversy. The champions that came later (Kasparov, Karpov, Kramnik , Anand, etc) had the misfortune to have to measure themselves against Fischer. And since Fischer had disappeared, he was untouchable. Unbeatable. Try as they may (especially Kasparov), there will only be one Bobby Fischer in the history books long after they are gone.


I am truely thankful to bear witness to Fischer’s great achievements. Thankyou, Bobby!

Fischer TRIVIA!



This is what legends are made of.  The 2nd Piatgorsky Cup goes down in history for witnessing one of the greatest comebacks in our sport.

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Bobby Fischer at Santa Monica 1966. At half time , Bobby was a mere half-point out of last place, having lost 3 games in a row.


But then Fischer pulled everything together and started to win game after game!  In the 16th round Fischer managed to catch up with Boris Spassky, but this latter was able to pull ahead half a point in the last round when Bobby could only draw with the world champion, Tigran Petrosian!

1966 Boris Spassky _ Mr and Mrs Gregor Piatigorsky _ Bobby Fischer

Free French forces invade Syria!

I came across this old film from WW2.  AP has done a GREAT service in making available hundreds of thousands of news items from history. About this film: ‘General Wavell has appointed Sir Henry Wilson to command the Allied advance into Syria. Free French Forces were soon reported to have penetrated deep into Syria, together with their British comrades’


Flash back from my days in Montreal


I came across this photo, taken in June/July 1974, of Jules Therien.  The photo is from the 1974 St.Jean Baptiste tournament held at the St.Denis Community Centre.  I don’t know how old Jules was in the above photo (probably 80-something; the above link erroneously gives his date as 1920), but what I do remember is that he was PASSIONATE about chess! Jules taught chess to all of his children and grandchildren, and served as president of both the Quebec Chess Federation as well as the Montreal Chess Association.

I played Jules numerous times in local tournaments. He was a real gentleman! Jules came from the generation of chess players where attacking was all there was to chess.  He played in some Canadian Championships in the 1930’s and 1940’s, and held some sort of record for most games played blindfold simultaneously.

Someone told me before I had to play him for the first time back in 1972, ”After everyone of his moves, ask yourself what is the threat?”…the funny thing is that this advice was right on!  Every single move of Jules’ (after the opening) had a threat!  Jules Therien died in June 1977.


If any of my Montreal readers has any information of what has come of the Therien clan, then I would appreciate it if you pass it on to me!

Today’s chess video (history)


The LEWIS CHESSMEN has always inspired wonder and curiosity. American author Nancy Marie Brown (born,1960) recently wrote a book on the subject and gave a talk (September 9) at a popular bookstore on this very subject.

Nancy Marie Brown_credit Jennifer Anne Tucker and Gerald Lang (2)

Nancy Marie Brown is the author of highly praised books of nonfiction, including Song of the Viking. She reads Icelandic and Old Norse, and spends her summers in Iceland. Brown lives in northern Vermont.


”The bookstore welcomes Nancy Marie Brown as she reads from and discusses her new book, Ivory Vikings: The Mystery of the Most Famous Chessmen in the World and the Woman Who Made Them, a journey into the Viking world out of which came the Lewis chessmen.

In the early 1800s, on a Hebridean beach in Scotland, 92 chessmen carved from walrus ivory were found. The discovery raised many questions, including who carved them, where, and why? Norse netsuke, each face individual, each full of quirks, the Lewis chessmen are probably the most famous chess pieces in the world.

Ivory Vikings connects medieval Icelandic sagas with modern archeology, art history, forensics, and the history of board games. Brown presents a vivid history of the 400 years when the Vikings ruled the North Atlantic and the sea road connecting countries and islands: Norway and Scotland, Ireland and Iceland, and Greenland and North America. The book also spotlights an extraordinarily talented woman artist of the twelfth century: Margret the Adroit of Iceland.”

Fischer humour…

World chess champion Bobby Fischer holds proclamation of

World chess champion Bobby Fischer holds proclamation of “Bobby Fischer Day” presented by New York Mayor John V. Lindsay, right, at New York’s City Hall, Sept. 22, 1972. (AP Photo)

Reminiscent of the great Paul Morphy’s return in 1859 to America after brilliantly trouncing Europe’s best masters of the day, Bobby Fischer was honoured by Mayor John Lindsay shortly after his winning the world title from Boris Spassky.


‘On May 25 at 8:00 pm in the large chapel of the New York University, Colonel Mead presided over the crowded ceremony. “every nook and cranny of the building was occupied, and even ladies were compelled to stand in the passages, so great was the desire to be present on the eventful occasion.” –New York Herald, May 26, 1859. Even a policeman was needed to clear the path for Morphy and his escort, Colonel Mead, to enter the building.’  (From links above)


Bobby was in a good mood.  Surrounded by hundreds of friends, fans and reporters, he felt at home (infact, he was at home(!): he lived there!)  I recognize some of the faces in the video: Anthony Saidy, Miguel Quinteros, Ruben Fine and Bill Lombardy.


(Photo credits)

Fischer was jovial, even, and when he said a few words, Bobby tried to be light hearted and funny. And he certainly succeeded in winning over everybody present!

I especially like his delivery: ”Chess is a great game…I never thought I would see the day when chess was all over the front pages here, but confined to only one paragraph in Pravda…I guess that is my fault!”