Mechanics Institute Chess Room Newsletter #255

   TTo study opening variations without reference to the strategy that applies to the middlegame is,in effect, to separate the head from the body.

Tigran Petrosian

1) Mechanics' Institute Chess Club News
2) Anand Interview
3) Chess offers lessons for financial portfolios
4) Here and There
5) Upcoming Events

1) Mechanics' Institute Club News

Edward Perepelitsky continued his amazing run in the Summer Tuesday Night Marathon by defeating NM Oleg Shaknazrov in round 7 to bring his score to 6.5, insuring himself a tie for first with a round to go. Perepelitsky, who took a bye in round 4, has defeated FM Frank Thornally, IM John Grefe, NM Batchimeg Tuvshintugs and now Shakhnazrov. Rated only 1920 at the beginning of the Summer TNM, Edward is now at 2056 and the TNM may bring him his Master title. Twin brother Philip, is 2130, and should soon also be over 2200.

Congratulations to MI Daniel Naroditsky who finished fifth in the World Championship for Boys Under 10 in Belfort, France, scoring 8 from 11. Another MI member, Nicolas Yap, also did well, coring 6 from 11 in the Boys Under 16 competition.

The Mechanics' Institute will have a presence at the upcoming US Open in Phoenix. MI Grandmaster-in-Residence Alex Yermolinsky will join FM Frank Thornally and IA Mike Goodall in the 9-day schedule. This means there will be no lectures next Tuesday and Wednesday (August 9 and 10). MI Chess Director John Donaldson will play the six-day schedule and accept the Mechanics' award for the USCF's Best Chess Club (shared with the East Bay CC). He will also be standing in for MI Trustee Neil Falconer who received the USCF's prestigious Special Service Award.

Note the MI will be running a concurrent two day, four round event, for players 1800 on up during the Bernardo Smith Amateur , August 20-21. Check the MI website shortly for more details.

2) Anand Interview

The following interview by VIJAY PARTHASARATHY appeared in The Hindu, India's national newspaper.

Moves that are out of square?

WHEN tennis superstar Bjorn Borg abruptly announced his retirement in 1982, at age 26, the decision seemed premature and, frankly, shocking; considering he was still practically at the peak of his game. John McEnroe, who had, a few months earlier, stolen the Swede's top ranking, was to later comment in his autobiography, Serious, that Borg's retirement upset him; that, for a while, his motivation levels dipped. Borg's leaving tennis was, he wrote, a huge blow for the sport, and for him personally: "It was unbelievable: the matches between us had become real exciting and even though Jimmy (Connors) had slipped a bit - or so I thought - he was still certainly a major threat." And then, suddenly, Borg was gone. It supposedly took the wind out of McEnroe's sails and he is said to have had a very tough time motivating himself and getting back on track: it took the American a couple of years to start improving again.

In the rapidly diminishing rays of twilight, Viswanathan Anand smiles brightly, patiently, for the benefit of the photographer, and otherwise satisfies his every whim - "look here", "put your finger on your temple like you are thinking, please" (as Rodin rolls in his grave), and that classic one: "act natural" - and he listens passively, but attentively, as I narrate the story. The glint in those intelligent eyes suggests he has already summoned a powerful argument to counter my rather inexpert (and entirely obvious) line of questioning; when I ask Anand if Garry Kasparov's retirement earlier this year similarly left him struggling for motivation he looks at me shrewdly. "It's possible McEnroe could have grasped that in hindsight, when he was writing his book," he says. "While he was still playing I'm not sure how affected he was directly because Borg had decided to quit. After all, there were others like Connors to constantly push him.

On rivals and competition

"When you talk of rivals in the direct sense, the differences are usually small. Without Kasparov things don't get any easier. Just now, the rivalry between me and Topalov is getting intense. So I don't really miss Kasparov in a competitive sense because I simply haven't had the time to reflect on his decision."

But playing Kasparov had to be something else, didn't it, I persist. "Of course; he was one of the greatest ever," Anand says. "By the time I became a Grandmaster, Kasparov had already been world champion for two years. I began to see him as a colleague - on equal terms, so to speak - only around 1991, when I began to move up the rankings after some very good results. Until then he was more of a distant figure, although, if you bumped into him at a tournament he would still nod at you. "

"I remember he didn't mingle much though. During, say, the Linares tournament I could always casually call (Vladimir) Kramnik for dinner and he would come along gladly, but it's a measure of how distant Kasparov could be, that I didn't really try that too often with him - maybe three or four times in all."

Psychological warfare is a big part of a chess player's strategy; when Anand improved to the point of challenging Kasparov, the latter systematically began to target the Indian Grandmaster, but those barbs were mostly subtle and all aimed through the press. "I hadn't yet reached my peak when I played him that one time for the World title in 1995," Anand reflects. "I should have played more aggressively." Over the years, Anand says, their relations have remained cordial and, in general, excellent - which is to say, "they never got contentious" - but by nature Kasparov is abrasive, and was always likely to rile some players. "This was a guy who could only see the world through his own eyes, he has no perspective," explains Anand. "He is that kind of guy; snipes at people, has strong opinions. He once said something to the effect `If you want to be the best, you'll always make enemies.' People were put off by his aggression; but he had a special position in chess."

Kasparov's real personality

Kasparov's real personality, as Anand explains, lay somewhere between two extremes - as the most innovative player in generations, he was bound to be enormously popular among followers of the game; on the other hand, jealous rivals branded him as self-centred and conceited. "He wasn't necessarily the most popular, but surprisingly, there was a time in the mid-1980s when he was actually liked," Anand says. "This was after he'd beaten Karpov, he was young and could play brilliantly. But around the time his book, Child of Change, was published towards the end of 1987, he was beginning to tread on a few toes."

Starting in early 2002, something in Kasparov began to give. The Prague Agreement, conceived as a means to draw the Russian champion back into mainstream chess, was not going anywhere, and Kasparov seemed to withdraw into a shell. He reduced his chess commitments progressively until, in January, he announced that he would retire from classical chess.

Political aspirations

The 42-year-old Kasparov has long admitted to having political aspirations, an idea that Anand finds inconceivable, because, as he suggests, the Russian might not possess the requisite inter-personal skills. "Kasparov was always very active politically, it probably started because during the Soviet era you needed political influence to even contest a World Championship," Anand surmises. "His is a curious case: he is a Jewish Armenian, and belongs to a minority community in Russia. He was always trying to cultivate this rebel image, which in the early 1990s, was a complex posture to adopt - the concept of right and left were inverted just then, so basically, if you subscribed to leftist views you were pro-democracy, while communists were ironically seen as the radical right. In a sense he was like any Republican in America around that time. "

"He could end up as another Imran Khan - great sportsman but mediocre politician" Anand says. "Kasparov right now is the figure the Western media would turn to if they wanted an opinion from inside Russia, but my guess is he isn't taken so seriously in his own country."

"I guess it's a kind of compliment, but Kasparov's never going to do as well as he did in chess. With his mind he might make a fantastic political commentator, but nothing more."

Nevertheless, even if his foray into politics fails, Anand does not foresee Kasparov's return to active chess, except under special circumstances - "like maybe if he was offered a lot of money, or if he was given a shot at the World title without having to qualify for it."

I ask curiously if it sometimes bothers him that he never got another shot at the Russian; whether Anand's own claims to greatness could somehow be denied legitimacy simply because he never beat the man considered the greatest of them all, in a World championship contest. "Sometimes, I think about it, yes sometimes it bothers me," Anand admits. "Then I think it wasn't only me that was affected by his retirement, there were a lot of others, who never got to have a shot at Kasparov.

"So, it's alright."

3) Chess offers lessons for financial portfolios

Humberto Cruz of South Florida is a man of many talents. He not only writes a nationally syndicated financial column but also a local one on chess. Here he combines two of his interests in one article.

The Savings Game
July 27, 2005

Chess offers lessons for financial portfolios

Susan Polgar is passionate about the topic. "If women put their minds to it, there is no reason they can't be as good as the men," the 36-year-old mother of two says, with a conviction borne of her own achievements. "It is primarily a historical, social problem. I do believe women who really want to make it can make it."

Polgar is not talking about women in business, although she has become a successful entrepreneur on her own right. She is not talking about women and personal finance, although societal issues (for years handling the finances was viewed as the "men's job") conspire to set women back.

For now Polgar is talking only about a game, one in which she has set world records and is about to try for a new one in South Florida.

But this column is about more than a game. The qualities that Polgar's favorite game nurture are the same that make for financial success and success in life, as I will show you shortly.

Susan Polgar, for those who don't recognize the name, is the oldest among three child-prodigy Hungarian chess-playing sisters, the undefeated winner -- with 10 straight victories (at age 4!) -- of the 11-and-under Budapest girls' championship.

Polgar is also a four-time women's world chess champion and the first woman to earn the men's grandmaster title in what is still, at top levels, a gender-divided game. A resident of the United States since 1994, she is the top-ranked American woman player and current holder of a Joe DiMaggio-like streak of 56 consecutive games without a loss at Chess Olympics events.

I was talking to Polgar not about financial issues but about her attempt to set a Guinness World Record by playing more than 321 chess games at once (to be eligible for the record, she will have to win at least 80 percent). She'll try it Monday, taking on amateur challengers including children at the Gardens Mall at 3101 PGA Blvd. in Palm Beach Gardens (for more information, including how to register to play, go to the Web site The event will raise funds for the not-for-profit Susan Polgar Foundation, which promotes chess among children worldwide, with a focus on girls.

"I have gotten a lot from chess," Polgar said in a telephone interview from Forest Hills, N.Y, where she runs a chess center seven days a week for players of all ages, from children to senior citizens. "I think it is my obligation to give back to the game and to show the way for the next generation, especially girls."

What is so special about chess?

"I think chess is really the perfect game because it teaches so many important life qualities, like focusing and logical thinking, and being responsible for your actions ... if you don't pay attention, you get checkmated," she said. "It teaches you to plan ahead, not just do the first thing that comes to your mind."

The more I thought about her comments, the more sense they made. As an avid chess player since the age of 10 (obviously nowhere near Polgar's level, but you don't have to be to appreciate it), I've come up with the following parallels. Whether you play chess or any game, I believe these observations will be helpful:

To win at chess, you cannot make moves at random or without a purpose. You need a plan that often includes short-term or medium-term goals (such as increasing the mobility of your pieces, or controlling a key area of the chessboard). Similarly, in personal finance it makes no sense to make investments at random (such as just because a magazine touted a hot stock or mutual fund) without well-defined short, intermediate and long-term goals.

>Most moves in chess involve tradeoffs, and you must consider the good and the bad. A move that strengthens your position in one area may create a weakness somewhere else. The same is true with investments. Investments with higher potential returns, for example, typically pose a higher risk of loss and/or offer limited liquidity.

>In chess, you generally can't win by attacking with just one piece. With investments, you need different asset classes working together in a diversified portfolio, not just one type of asset (as investors who piled into technology stocks discovered in 2000).

In chess you must defend as well as attack -- your opponent is trying to checkmate you, too. In financial planning, you must have your defenses in order, including an emergency reserve and adequate insurance, before you invest.

4) Here and There

Torneo Internacional de Alajuela, the strongest tournament of the year in Central America, took place in Costa Rica recently. The event had 177 players playing a 9 rounds Swiss. Among those competing were 5 GMs : Victor Mikhailevsky Varouzhan Akobian, Neuris Delgado, Alonso Zapata and Alejandro Ramirez. Southern California's top rated player, Varouzhan Akobian, took first place in impressive fashion.

Final standings: 1. Akobian - 8
2. Murillo - 7½
3-7. Ramirez, Leyva, Juarez, Perez, Chavez - 7, etc.

Former Bulgarian GM Vladimir Georgiev, who now calls Chicago home, won the 2005 Kansas Open held July 16 and 17 In Lindsborg, Kansas, with 4.5 from 5. Tying for second with 4 points in the 36-player Swiss were GMs Yury Shulman and Nikola Mitkov, IM Stanislav Kriventsov and NM Sergey Galant. The event was organized by the irrepressible Mikhail Korenman.

Los Angeles GM Boris Kreiman defended his home turf in the Pacific Coast Open held July 21-24 in Agoura Hills, winning the top section with a score of 5 from 6. Tying for second at 4.5 were perennial Grand Prix Champion Alex Wojtkiewicz and IM Vladimir Mezentsev of Mountain View. Sharing fourth through eighth were a couple of other Bay Area players, IM Ricardo DeGuzman and NM Shikumar Shivaji as well as IMs Greg Hjorth, David Vigorito and Andranik Matikozian. The Continental Chess Association tournament, usually the strongest event of the year in California, was missing some big guns from the East Coast, possibly because of the upcoming Intercontinental Championship in Argentina.

International Master Eugene Meyer had his picture in the front section (A12) of the New York Times today. Meyer is the President of the Federalist Society, a group that numbers among its members Supreme Court nominee John Roberts.

Last week Thursday the San Francisco Chronicle ran a lengthy piece on chess at 5th street and Market in downtown San Francisco. The reporter interviewed several regulars including a Maximus King. The accompanying photograph of Mr. King seemed to be bear an uncanny resemblance to NM Jorge Lopez. Who said chess players don't have a sense of humor?

5) Upcoming Events

Upcoming Tournaments at the MI

Vladimir Pafnutieff - August 6
Bernardo Smith Amateur Under 1800 - August 20-21

Northern California

September 3-5 2005 CalChess Labor Day Championships GPP: 15 N. CAlifornia
6SS, 30/90, SD/1 (2-day option rds 1-3 G/60); Golden Geteway Holiday Inn. Van Ness at Pine, San Francisco. $$B 160 paid entries (not counting free or unrated entries). Six Sections: Master $700-$350-$200; U2400, $300; Expert $400-$200-$100. "A" $350-$175-$100. "B" $350-$175-$100. "C" $350-175-100. "D/E" $350-$175-$100; U1200 $225. Unr: Trophy First. Trophy to top finisher (State Champion) in each section. All, EF: postmarked by 8/29 $65 (Jrs. $55). $75 at site (Jrs. $65). Unrateds $20 in the D/E section or may play up to the Master section for the regular fee. $5 discount to CalChess members. USCF memb. req'd. May play up one section for add'l $10 (Jrs $5). GM/IM free entry. Reg: Sat 9/3 8-9:30am, Sun 9/4 8:15-9:15am. RDS: Choice of schedules- 3-day, 2-day merge at round 4, all compete for the same prizes. 3-day schedule Sat 10-4; Sun 11-4:45; Mon 10-3:30. 2-day schedule Sun 9:30-11:45-2-4:45; Mon 10-3:30. 1/2 pt bye(s) any round(s) if requested in advance (byes rds 5-6 must be requested before rd 1). 2005 August Ratings List, CCA minimums and Directors discretion will be used toplace players as accurately as possible. Please bring clocks and equipment. HR: Golden Gateway Holiday Inn (415) 441-4000. INFO: Richard Koepcke (650) 964-2640. Ent: Richard Koepcke, PO Box 1432, Mountain View, CA 94042. No Phone entries. Master Section FIDE Rated

2005 Reno Western States Open Chess Tournament
October 14-16, 2005. Reno, Nevada.

$52,400 PRIZE FUND!!! for this Six Round Swiss in Seven Sections (based on 500 paid players, $33,550 Guaranteed). At least 15 places paid in every section! Large prize fund made possible by the generosity of the Sands Regency Casino Hotel. RUB ELBOWS WITH THE MASTERS: Reception with Former World Champion GM Boris Spassky on Wednesday night. FREE lecture by GM Larry Evans on Thursday evening. $100 simul with GM Boris Spassky on Thursday night. Book signing session with GM Boris Spassky on Friday morning. Clinic by GM Boris Spassky on Saturday afternoon. Favorite game analysis with GM Boris Spassky on Sunday afternoon
Chief TD (NTD)
Jerry Weikel

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