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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, January 26, 2012

Albany championship still undecided with three games to play

With only three games left to play, four players can still place either first or second and qualify for the playoff to determine the Albany chess club champion.

Gordon Magat has completed his schedule, and is in first place with a score of 5-3. I am tied with defending Champion Dean Howard with 4 ½ points. However, I have two games left, one against Howard and one against Cory Northrup.

If I beat Howard, or score 1 ½ points in both games, I will place first. If Howard wins his last game, he will have at least a tie for first place.

John Lack, with 4 points and one game remaining against Arthur Alowitz, could also finish with 5-3.

The tournament has been marked by upsets; all of the top five players (rated over 1800) have given up points to the bottom half (rated under 1800).

Magat lost to Alowitz (1680), Howard lost to Northrup (1566) and drew Jason Denham (1446), I drew Alowitz and Denham, Lack drew Denham, and Tim Wright drew Alowitz.

Chris Caravaty, a strong unrated player, defeated Magat on his way to an even score of 4-4.  Denham did not win a game, but scored four draws, including three against high rated players to finish 2-6.

Northrup has 2 1⁄2 - 4 1⁄2, with one game left, and Tim Wright finished his schedule with a score of 3 1⁄2 - 4 1⁄2.   

Schenectady championship

John Phillips defeated defending Champion Phil Sells in the final section of the Schenectady club championship. He played the Pirc Defense (1..d6), got a solid defensive position, and had a winning position when Sells’ flag fell.

Although Sells is known for his ability to handle severe time pressure, he could not do it this time. Although Phillips leads with 2-0, he still has to play Alan LeCours, another Class A player who has a score of 1-0.

Tata Steel

Levon Aronian, the second highest rated player in the world, has taken a full point lead in the Tata Steel Chess Tournament with his victory over Italy’s Fabiano Caruana.

Aronian criticized himself for "complicat[ing] things with each and every move and for failing to finish the game in a simpler manner.  Nevertheless, Grandmaster Ivan Sokolov awarded him the best game prize, commenting, "It is a pity [that Aronian] complain[s] about his bad play... is not true to begin with and moreover, it’s not good for himself, for the tournament and for his opponents."

Aronian leads with 7 ½  points out of 10: the American defending Champion Nakamura has 5 1/2 , and the other American competitor, Gata Kamsky, has 5, in the 14-player field.

Chess master on Jeopardy

On Tuesday, Jan. 24, an American chess player, Kirby Burnett, who holds the title of Life Master, competed in a Jeopardy Tournament of Champions, having won an earlier round.

Reuben Fine’s career

One of the strongest United States chess players in the 1930s and 1940s was Reuben Fine.  Fine was born to a Russian Jewish immigrant family in 1914, and devoted himself to high-level tournament chess in the 1930s after graduating from City College of New York in 1932 at the age of 18.  In 1938, he tied for first at the AVRO tournament in Holland, sponsored by the Dutch broadcasting company. The tournament featured the eight strongest players in the world, and was designed to select a challenger to then-World Champion Alexander Alekhine, whom Fine defeated twice.  Although the Second World War suspended international chess competitions in Europe, Fine was invited to play in the 1948 tournament to select a successor to Alekhine (who died in 1946).

Fine declined to play, ostensibly because it would interfere with his work on his dissertation in psychology, but probably because he believed, probably correctly, that the Russians would throw games to insure that one of them would win. 

Fine wrote “The Psychology of the Chess Player,” a Freudian analysis of chess, discussing the game in relations to an Oedipal complex (an all-powerful female, the Queen, and a desire to kill the father, the King) and the phallic implications of the pieces.

This psychobabble has been cited to explain why relatively few women and gay men are found among top players.  I believe that the book was written by Dr. Fine to justify his decision to withdraw from competing for the World Championship.

This week's problem

In the problem below, Fine found a winning move, which forced the resignation of his opponent, Mikhail Botvinnik, who ultimately won the World Championship in the 1948 tournament and held it until 1963.

By Peter Henner

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