Sunday, January 24, 2010

Lone Pine 1975 : Honorable Mentions: Suttles, Yanofsky and Parr

First my apologies for not keeping up but I’m also hitting a busy season as I picked up a part time teaching gig ( non-chess).

Before I start in on the top tier finishers I thought it would be worth mentioning a couple Canadian GMs and unknown Australian who had some good games in this event.

First up is Duncan Suttles, age 29 at the event. He was born in San Francisco but his family moved to Vancouver when he was child. He was a bit of a teen-age prodigy in Canada playing at a national master strength. In the early 1960’s he breaks into the Canadian scene winning the British Columbian Championship in 1963 at age 17 and then again 1966. He was playing at GM strength by 1968 but due to Cold War politics, he was denied the title due to a technicality. Because he played too many games that got published, several prominent European players complained of his “Ugly” games. He finally was titled GM in 1972 following his performance at the San Antonio Tournament where he scored a ½ point against Tigran Petrosian. Leading up to Lone Pine 1975, he won a couple of Canadian championships.

The game I would like to draw your attention to in this event happens in round 8 as white against Samuel Reshevsky. Reshevksy’s Performance at Lone Pine was a little passed his prime. The game opens up as a clash between English opening and Modern defense.

The fight for control of d5 and e5 is paramount. In the book, David Levy opines that Suttle’s style was developed by years of playing in the old style of King’s Gambits and that he had to learn how to Walk his King before he learned to walk. ( Thus the “ugly” duckling name his games often received under critical European eyes). In this case it was effective with f4 advanced. Reshevsky tries to gain control of some dark squares for his Queen and tosses a pawn away. This only invites Duncan for an Early Queen exchange. One last ditch effort to gain tempo in the endgame has Black tossing another pawn on the fire. By then, White had enough of an advantage to bring home the point.

With 5 ½ points he finishes in the top 20 of this strong event. His biggest legacy to chess is his contributions to the Modern Defense. Funny, how what was once considered “Ugly” is now a looked up to as a contribution to opening theory. He played into the early 1980’s when he dropped out of competition and started up a Software Company focused on the Stock Market ( Microstat Development) and then ventured into other areas such as Grandmaster Technologies. Now he’s president of Magnetar Games, a software based company focused on Internet Gaming community.

Abraham Yanofsky, 50 year old at the event, had the honor of being Canada’s first titled GM in 1964. He beat Botvinnik back in 1946 as well as other prominent players of the time like Sammy Reshevsky and Larry Evans. He was never a professional Player, rather he practiced law in Winnepeg and even was Mayor of a suburb. This Canadian Lawyer-politician did have an interesting first round victory over Hungarian GM, Istvan Csom. Though he submitted this game with light annotation for a brilliancy prize for the round, it was eclipsed by the upset with Kushnir over Evans.

In the Game, Yanofsky opens up the king side in this Sicilian and keeps pressure on Csom’s king to remain in the center. Next he opens up the center and holds onto a Bishop pair for the endgame. Like the practicing lawyer, he builds his case with more evidence in the form of pawns and rests the defense with a closing statement of two connected passed pawns on the 5th and 6th rank.

Yanofsky Earned the international Arbiter title in 1977. He played in his last Canadian Championship in 1986 at the age of 61 which qualified him for another interzonal appearance ( since 1946 he’s represented Canada several times) but ceded to a younger player. He passed in 2000 but since then, an annual Memorial Tournament has been held in Winnipeg to honor his contributions.

Lastly, a 29 year old Australian, David Parr is brought to your attention. The eldest son of Frank Parr, another prominent Chess Player from a chess playing family ( His brother Peter, was also of Master Strength). He played internationally for England for a few years and spent some time in Australia playing in Championships. However, he withdrew from one event in 1974 complaining “his opponents were so weak that he could not concentrate”.

Looking for strong competition, David found it at Lone Pine. In this second round victory against GM Forintos, we see an aggressive style of play for this untitled player. Popularized by Fischer at the time, the Austrian Attack was in style against the Pirc. The idea is to get quick development and control of e5. Black is allowed e5 and then Parr weakens his king side even more with a risky advance f4-f5. Black gains control of the now semi-open g-file and dark squares. Parr looks for his only hope in simplification and seizes a opportunity to exchange queens and pieces to benefit a playable endgame. Using pins and initiative, he walks his king up to a favorable position to pick up the h-pawn. The outside passer was all he needed and he gets the point.

He dies the same year as his father in 2003. There is a David Parr memorial in Australia conducted by the Correspondence Chess League of Australia in his honor.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Lone Pine 1975: Kushnir, Tarjan and Denker, Noteworthy IM’s on the second shelf

As I dig deeper into this tournament, more interesting nuggets turn up. This post will focus on a few IM’s who had a strong finish in this event.

Alla Kushnir

Alla was the only woman IM at Lone Pines. She came over from Israel with her other Ex-Russian compatriots, Vladimir Liberzon and Leonid Shamkovich. She was the second ranking woman chess player in the world but in order to expedite her move to Israel in 1974 from the Soviet Union, she had to agree not to enter the current cycle for Woman’s World Championship. She had been the previous challenger three times against Nona Gaprindashvili. She was awarded the WIM title in 1962 and a year after Lone Pines, she earned her WGM title.

Born August 11,1941 in Moscow, this 33 year old held her ground against GM’s at Lone Pine. She Drew against GM’s Reshevsky, Csom and Robatsch and beat GM Bilek of Hungary and most notably, the upset in round one against Larry Evans. This must have been the fire lit to drive him to place second in this event.

In the game that was highlighted in the July 1975 issue of Chess Life and Review ( her photo is courtesy of that periodical), She is shown playing a very aggressive game against a Benoni. She is able to get a mobile pawn march on the e- and f- files. Larry tries to liquidate the center with a rook for a Bishop but it’s too late.

She finished Lone Pine 1975 with 5 points following 3 wins ( Silman was her third), 4 draws and only 3 loses. I could not find much else on Alla following the 70’s. She is still listed on the FIDE website with a rating of 2430 but has been inactive since as indicated by the sparce records. If anybody knows a brief epilog of where she is now, feel free to leave me a message.

James Tarjan:

James Tarjan was 23 at the time of Lon Pines and a native Californian. Five years before this event, he was selected to American Team for the World Student Olympiad. In 1974 he earned the IM title because of his strong performance in these international junior events.
At Lone Pines, he also had a strong performance. His only loss came at the mercy of Walter Browne. He beat Rhodes and Ervin, two of the USA masters. He drew the rest of his games with 5 GMs and 2 IM’s . One of those GM’s was Gligoric and I want to highlight this game.

IN round two, Tarjan played the Grunfeld as Black against Gligoric’s 1.d4. The veteran player took him down an old variation popular in Boleslavsky’s day. The game is an imbalance bishop pair versus Bishop and knight with odds favored for the bishop pair in the endgame. Gliga attempts an early queen exchange but Tarjan is allowed a strong centralized knight before White can deploy the second bishop. It’s a nice defensive endgame and worth going over.

Following Lone Pines, Tarjan wins the next event, the Western Futurity-Qualifying Tournament against a roster very similar to the masters and IMs of Lone Pine and one year after Lone Pine 1975, he received his GM title. Tarjan continues to play in several US championships in the 1970-80’s but never was quite able to pull it off. One of his strongest finishes was in Passadena 1978 where he finished in 2nd place. This was a Zonal Qualifier and he went on to play in the 1979 Riga Interzonal World Championship Cycle. His last competitive tournament was in 1984 at the U.S. Championship at Berkley where he tied for third place.

Arnold Denker:

At 61 at Lone Pine 1975, this veteran player still had some kick in him. What else can one expect from a former boxer and once rival to Samual Reshevsky and Reubin Fine? He was a U.S. Champion in 1944 and held on to it until Sammy took it back in 1946.
He became an IM in 1950 ( the first year the title was awarded by FIDE).

At Lone Pine 1975, he beats three GM’s, Rossetto, Pilnik, and Damjanovic of his four victories. He draws GM Bilek of his 3 Draws. I am disappointed in the tournament book not having any of his games annotated as the win against Rossetto is quite spectacular. In round eight, he plays a Modern Defense as Black and fights for early control of f5. This leaves a hole in the center for White to take advantage of and Denker walks right into a knight fork and loses his rook. Denker holds his ground as White waltzes into troubled waters on the King side. With a Knight and Rook, Denker threatens an unstoppable CHECKMATE! It was a beautiful win. I’m surprised it didn’t get any more recognition other than this humble blog.

He’s famous for going on and become an important chess organizer, serving on the board of American Chess Foundation, The USCF and the U.S. Chess Trust. The Denker Tournament of High School Champions is in his honor. He earned an honorary GM title in 1982, inducted into the Chess Hall of Fame in 1992, and in 2004 was proclaimed the Dean of American Chess. He died in 2005 after a brief illness. In my opinion, he is a role model for all of us chess enthusiasts.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Lone Pine 1975: Rohde, Silman and Weinstein : Upsets from the third shelf

The Lone Pine 1975 had three major groups. The top shelf included the list of Grandmasters who I’ll be chronicling in the coming posts. The next layer includes the international masters ( Ratings below 2500 and above 2300). My next post will include a few upsets from this category. What I’d like to cover in this post are few noteworthy games from the bottom that resulted in upsets from up and comers.
Michael Rohde:

First up, is a very young 15 year old Michael Rohde. By the way, that is how it is spelled in the book and to spell it “Rhode” is not correct. Michael, born August 26, 1959, received the masters title at the tender age of 13 and in 1975 won the National Scholastic Champions Junior High School Champion. Even though he finished dead last at Lone Pine 1975, his attacking style was in noticeable form as he won a Brilliancy prize for the game listed here against International Master, John Grefe.

He earned the IM title in 1976 and later became a GM in 1988. He went on to win the brilliancy prize in three consecutive U.S. Chess Championships from 1986-1988. Some of his strongest finishes includes first place in the 1991 U.S. Open, tied for first at the World Open, and winning the NY state Championship and a few other titles. He took a break from chess to attend Law school

Jeremy Silman:

Honored to be included at such strong event, a young Texan, Jeremy Silman was just 20 years old. He was listed as having a rating of 2258 ( the lowest in the event) in 1975. It is unclear when he first became a master, though in an interview by Robert Brunnemer ( he mentions being at master strength at the age of 16. In this upset over IM Dumitru Ghizdavu, he plays a brilliant c3 Sicillian and handles an IQP with ease. It’s a beautiful battle of the center as Silman demonstrates how to strike on two weaknesses.

Silman goes on to get his IM title in 1988 but leading up to that, he had several notable events under his belt, like winning the U.S. Open in 1981 as well as the National and American opens in that decade. He is a popular author of several chess books geared for the amateur class player. I know I have a few in my library. He was also a Chess consultant for the 2001 movie, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Norman Weinstein:

Norman Weinstein was rated 2372 in 1975 at Lone Pine and is listed as a Master for that event though some sources indicate he earned the IM title in 1973 following becoming the U.S. Champion in 1973. The game highlighted below is his upset over GM Leonid Shamkovich where he plays an older Levenfish Variation against the Dragon Sicilian. He demonstrates the advantage of initiative combined with opposite sides castling can have with a marauding pawn raid.

He left chess to become an investment banker at Banker’s Trust. In 1990 he convinced the firm to put an ad in Chess life reaching out to hire masters and Grandmaster. Max Dlugy was one of the GM’s to come on board. Weinstein’s name may ring an alarming bell for some as it is the same name associated with another chess player, Raymond Weinstein, who went to prison after killing an 83-year old. No worries, there was no relation to our current player turned banker/recruiter.