Monday, August 13, 2007

Blast from the Past - The Spittoons are Gone!

Love this great column by chess great Robert Byrne.
From the New York Times
By ROBERT BYRNE Published: April 2, 2006
Not too long ago it would have been unthinkable that women en masse could compete with men and make a respectable showing. There were indeed one or two standouts. Take the mysterious sister of Louis Paulsen, who accompanied her famous brother to the United States championship in New York in 1857. She knew she would not be allowed to enter, but she got an offhand game against one of the strongest players in the competition and gave him a terrible drubbing.
She did not stay long enough to give further evidence of her great skill, but returned home immediately. In those days, chess clubs with their spittoons were not considered the proper place for women.
Another notable woman of the game was Vera Menchik, who took some potshots at the leading men of the late 1920's and throughout the 30's. She died in 1944 during an air raid in London.
After World War II, the Soviet stars Nona Gaprindashvili and Maya Chiburdanidze reached the level of male grandmasters. The greatest player among women now is Judit Polgar of Hungary. She is in the top handful of all players, men or women. She is an inspiration to all.
This year's women's winner in the United States Championship at the NTC Promenade in San Diego was Anna Zatonskih. Just observe her splendid victory in the preliminaries over Walter Browne, a six-time United States champion.
After the Nimzovich Variation of the Queen's Indian Defense, 4 ... Ba6, the most favored system is 5 b3, followed by 5 ... Bb4 6 Bd2 Be7. However, the alternative with 5 ... Bb7 6 Bg2 Bb4 7 Bd2 a5 is still played, as it was in this game.
After 9 Nc3, there is nothing wrong with 9 ... d5. Why give up the bishop pair with 9 ... Bc3? Not that there is something directly faulty about it, but one must always play so carefully afterward. If, after 10 ... Be4, this bishop could have been kept on this central square of its main diagonal, there would have been some point to this. But it could not remain hunkered down there.
The trouble with the advance with 17 ... b5 was that it left more squares on the queenside open for the white queen bishop to use.
After 18 e4, Zatonskih had control of the center.
And with 28 cd, this passed pawn further emphasized her advantage.
After 33 ... Bg6, this poor bishop had no good vantage points.
With 40 Bf5, Zatonskih was bearing down on the black king and threatening to penetrate on the c file.
After 41 Rc8, there was nothing Browne could do but give up. If 41 . . . Bf5, then 42 Qf5 g6 43 Qe6 Nf8 44 Rf8 Rg7 45 Rcc8 g5 46 Qf5 Rg6 47 Rh8 Kg7 48 Rcg8 Kf7 49 Qe6 mate.

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