New in Chess (2015/3)

New In Chess (2015-3)

While Bobby Fischer was on the gallant cover of the New in Chess 2015/1 with legendary Miguel Najdorf, this issue was a vituperative denouncement of him. After Fischer passed away in 2009, every chess and non-chess media came forth to psychoanalyze him in a way that was relentless and sometimes fanatical.

Many books have been written with references to his psychological state, albeit most by those who were not trained psychologists. Fischer political views, while unpopular, have been all categorized as abhorrent. It is with this fear that if one accepts some of what he paints as true, it would mean one is accepting his entire worldview. It is a shame, but this is how writers have approached Fischer’s psyche.

In “Bobby Fischer: Facing His Dark Side” the article focuses on the legend primarily after his playing days when he became embittered and used the radio as a vehicle for his vitriolic rants. However, this article focused mostly on Fischer’s frailties and people’s bad experiences with him. Sources and comments (from Judit Polgar no less) were used to pile onto this chess icon who has been deceased for six years. To add insult to injury, the awful photo of Fischer in his unkempt, scraggly beard is presented… just after being released from prison. Certainly, no endearment is shown anywhere in this article.

2015 Wijk aan Zee

This article is about Fischer’s dark side and psychological state, but how long are we to recount this aspect of Fischer’s life? He certainly was a man with personal problems, but what is not pointed out in the article was the unfortunate exploitation that he suffered leading him to be so distrustful, bitter… and dark. He was a chess player with personal flaws and no doubt if we probe the lives of many troubled champions and regular chess players, we can find many failed marriages, mental illness, drug abuse, racist comments, sexist comments, adultery and unpopular political views… right among us!

Fischer not being a perfect human being is not a revelation. The best thing about the article was the list of selected books on page 21, games annotated by Fischer and the picture of him visiting Mikhail Tal in the hospital. Otherwise, it was a waste of valuable space in a high-end magazine. There are so many chess stories being missed, particularly in the developing world. To rehash “Fischer’s Demons” once again, well… that horse is dead.

“When Mikhail Tal fell ill, Fischer was the only player who visited him in hospital, a gesture which touched Tal deeply, giving rise to the iconic photo of the two playing chess on Tal’s hospital bed.”

Bobby Fischer visited Mikhail Tal at the hospital during the Curacao Zonal in 1962. Tal retired had to withdraw due to illness while Fischer accused three of Soviet participants of colluding to draw each other and fight him to the death. While his comments were taken to be conspiratorial, they were later admitted by Soviet authorities to be true. When Tal fell ill, Fischer was the only player who visited him. It was said that Tal was deeply touched by this and they enjoyed a cordial relationship throughout their lives.

After Erwin L’Ami’s account of winning the Reykjavik Open (cover story), I was totally flummoxed by a piece on “How the United States Olympic Teams Became International”. What amused me was an opening by Dylan Loeb McClain.

Speculation has been rife that Fabiano Caruana, who has dual Italian and American citizenship, might switch from playing for Italy to representing the United States, particularly in the Olympiad. In recent years, American teams have often relied on immigrants, so a move by Caruana would not be unprecedented.

10-year old FM Fabiano Caruana. Copyright © Daaim Shabazz, 2003.

Here is a 10-year old FM Fabiano Caruana playing at 2003 Foxwoods Open (Connecticut, USA). Now representing Italy, would he be considered an “immigrant” if he switched federation back to the USA? Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

McClain must know that Caruana was born and raised in the U.S. and represented the country in his youth before switching his federation to Italy? It is misleading to convey that Caruana would be switching (as an immigrant) as if he was born in Italy and then changed to the U.S. How are you immigrating TO the country in which you were born… and emigrating FROM a country in which you never lived?

Nakamura, shown here in 2013 World Team Championship, was one of the first in a new generation of home-grown, world-class talent. Photo by Anastasiya Karlovich.

The article does present a very interesting table of teams since 1928 and their composition. Certainly the 90s were the years the U.S. saw a wave of ex-Soviet emigres, but to say the U.S. “relied” on immigrants is a bit presumptuous. There were still strong Grandmasters in the U.S., but of course the breakup of the Soviet Union meant a dispersal of chess talent around the world.

There had been a running joke at the Olympiad tournaments. When asked, “How do you like the Russian team?” the reply was “Which one?” This was a clear reference to the Russians who were heavily represented on the U.S. and Israeli Olympiad teams. Twenty years later, those players have become trainers for the new generation of young American Grandmasters and there is no need to rely on immigration to fuel talent in the U.S. Caruana would just be returning home to join fellow GMs Nakamura, Ray Robson, Sam Shankland, Aleksandr Lenderman, Daniel Naroditsky, Samuel Sevian, Conrad Holt, Kayden Troff, all present/past U.S. Championship participants and raised in American scholastic chess.

2015 Wijk aan Zee

There is quite an instructive article by Parimarjan Negi titled, “A Swindler just doesn’t give up”. We all have been in a losing situation. When the dark clouds of our situation hover over the board, we grasp for any sliver of light to turn the tables. Sometimes we pull victory from the jaws of defeat and then other times it’s us who feel the shock of a winning move from the opponent after “having a completely winning position”. This article is a ode to those who are good at generating “cheapo potential” and seemingly rebounding from the most dire positions.

Following up this article was an enchanting piece on what to do when you have decided there are no more swindling chances and you want to resign. How do you do it? Gennadi Sosonko’s “So How Do You Resign?” takes a colorful look at the different ways in which people have resigned from stopping the clock, to bolting the playing hall, to berating the opponent and sweeping the pieces. Of course the quotation below may be advised, but long forgotten.

“On defeat show no signs of anger, or on victory – triumph. In the case of defeat, do not berate yourself, but in a gentlemanly manner acknowledge your opponent’s better play. Do not take deserved laurels away from the victor.”

~The Theory and Practice of The Chess Game, 1890

A couple of interesting notes was Lajos Portisch’s habit of drying his hands under the table in preparation to receive a resignation. Then there is Viktor Korchnoi’s terse comments after losing to a 9-year old boy in a simul, “Your position was completely losing, and in general you play very weakly.” Korchnoi was famous for his terse comments and once asked Mohammed Al-Modiakhi if he understood English. When the Qatari Grandmaster uttered that he did, Korchnoi said, “Then why don’t you resign?”

The most famous Korchnoi zinger was seen on video after losing a blitz game to IM Zsofia Polgar. Though not mentioned in the article he is seen saying, “It is the very first and the very last you ever won a game against me. I’m sorry. You won it. You won it. The very first and the very last… in your life! Ya.”

In my view, the best article in this New in Chess is the account of the China-India match title “Reaching the Summit”. It is a very refreshing and bold article written by one of India’s bright stars, GM Baskaran Adibhan and a rare look at Indian chess players not named Viswanthan Anand. He covered how the match was conceived ironically after Magnus Carlsen had contested the notion that China would be the world’s new power.

Wei Yi, China’s rising star.
Photo by ChessBase.

“Yes I agree there are a lot of good Chinese players, but personally I think India is the country which is going to rule the chess world!” stated the champion. Not so fast. China just won the World Team Championships and show no signs of slowing with the emergence of a young cadre of players including Wei Yi… and more to come!

Adibhan talks about the shift in the balance of power in chess toward Asia, a topic that has appeared many, many times at The Chess Drum (#1, #2, #3, #4). China won the match, but the spirit shows that Asia has already reshaped the balance of power and with the emergence of technology, knowledge is being transferred at a quicker pace and even players from developing regions in Asia, Africa and Latin America are producing strong talents.

Adibhan Baskiran is at near right with bronze medalists India
the closing ceremonies of Tromso Olympiad.
Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

The Chess Drum interviewed Adibhan after the Tromso Olympiad and he even gave his opinion on the question of balance of power. At that time, he was not convinced that Asia had eclipsed Europe, but in his article, he says,

But I feel now we are slowly beginning to reach our own summit within the international arena, and I will begin to see India mentioned more often, as our aforementioned young talents rise up the rankings. So, a friendly warning to the readers: Here we come!

2015 European Chess Championships

Jan Timman covered “The Move of the Year” which you have to see to believe. Oftentimes there are games that leave an impression on us. I remember a ChessBase article where Nigel Short marched his king from g1 all the way to g5 with plans for Kf6/Kh6 to deliver mate… with the queens on the board! Ironically, that game was against Timman (Tilburg, 1991)! However, Denis Khismatullin’s 44.Kg1!! against Pavel Eljanov was a thing of beauty. It has a similar motif of an attacking king, but the position is on the right if you seek to examine it (see full game).

Finally, Anish Giri made a tribute to the new women’s world champion Mariya Muzychuk who won the crown in Sochi, Russia. He annotated a pivotal game of the match against Natalia Pogonina. Muzychuk will face Hou Yifan in a championship match later this year. The article was on what GMs did in between tournaments and Giri expressed how many options there are to follow chess.


  • NIC’s Café
  • Facing Bobby Fischer
  • Erwin’s Saga
  • Fair & Square
  • Long Diagonal Provocation
  • Senior Moments
  • Parimarjan’s Chess Gym
  • So, How Do You Resign?
  • Reaching the Summit
  • Maximize Your Tactics
  • Kasparov on the Warpath
  • Tbilisi Grand Prix
  • Buy the DVD or by the Book?
  • Instant Fame for 44.Kg1!!
  • Watching with Anish
  • Just Checking



  1. Oh nice article once again! Im at the Frank E. Merriweather Library right now checkin this out! Fischer was an Ultramodern Chess Player like me thats why he was successful at winning games. Most Americans , if u asked them may have never actually studied American chess, so they remain TRADITIONALIST and wind up learning from people from other places and then end up losing in some event and begin lookin around and wondering why? I mean even if you take the U.S. top representative Nakamura, what is he 2799 at the old chess i believe was his last rankin i saw on one of their traditional sites, its pretty much the same, actually as an Ultramodernist its quite impressive he even got that far , really cuz i dont think he had all the help Magnus benefitted from or im sure he would beat him too, ya know Robert James Fischer was a funny dude, i studied his chess for 8 years straight, he was pretty TRICKY!!! lol Deuces Drummers, and have fun in chess! lol

  2. Lionel, i disagree with you about Magnus having help..yes certently Magnus had help, by GM and Kasparov…but he didn’t become number 1/world chess champion/ highest rated player ever just cause of have to have innate talent

    if you don’t have that, no matter how many resources you have you will never be magnus level..

  3. Jack,

    I believe Magnus had a unique combination of gifts that have made him ideal for success in chess. Firstly, supportive parents who sacrificed! Secondly, inquisitive nature. Thirdly, prodigious memory and talent. Fourth, he had good exposure at a young age to Norwegian GMs. Fifth, good exposure in all of the super-tournaments he competed in. Amazing that you can excel in a country with few chess resources.

  4. of course…. i agree Daaim..

    do you believe Magnus is the greatest player of all time right now or is it too early to say

  5. Please …let us not forget all of the chess politricks! Who became Magnus second and who was he working for before!? Very sad, but this what can happen. especially when we remove integrity from the equation. Perhaps we would have won without this trump card, but I am sure it made many things much easier!

  6. I guess we’ll never see a Prime Bobby vs. Magnus…

    i think it might be to early to say Magnus is the greatest, but i do believe he is probably top 5 right now at least…

  7. Jack,

    I don’t believe Carlsen is the best ever at this point. He has won a large number of tournaments and two championship matches. However, not sure what new ideas he has created over the board, but certainly his handling of any type of chess position is inspirational. Hard to say because he has literally stood on the shoulders of the previous greats and remembered all of their games. All you can do is compare the gap between a champion and the rest of his contemporaries. How much better is Carlsen than Aronian, Caruana or Nakamura? That is the real question. There are a few players who have scary potential such as China’s Ding Liren. Nakamura will be gunning for Carlsen. The next cycle will be interesting.

  8. @Jack it is too early for any measure at need the whole body of work..also we don’t know who would have excelled cerebrally,if they had each other to push them past their capacity into unknown terroritory.

  9. Daaim, that’s a good point, but i think its harder to come up with new ideas then it was during Fischer, Alekhine/Capablanca’s era..with the rise of computer engines etc.

  10. There are still some new ideas popping up. What players are doing is taking old lines and revamping them. Players like Alex Morozevich and Richard Rapport, or Baadur Jobova still play creatively in the opening. Sometimes you will see Carlsen play 1.e4 e5 2.c3!? or 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.g3!? These are not new, but Carlsen has shown that if you can get a playable position, you can try to fight. He’s not a great theoretician and sometimes gets in trouble in the opening. He was out-prepared in the opening by Anand in the last match, but was not outplayed.

  11. yeah I agree….i don’t think Magnus really cares about theory that much or openings..i don’t think he ever will…he just has too much faith in his middlegame/endgame skills..and for good reason

  12. One good thing is that New in Chess has slowly run a greater diversity of articles. There is still the tendency to put the same persons on the front cover. In 2013, Carlsen was on 4/8 covers. Now they have done more stories on other parts of the world including China and India. It remains a magazine for elite chess but with emerging nations, we may see new faces gracing the cover.

  13. Sup Drummers! Just made it to the Buffalo Public LIbrary, interesting opnions even though they are basically traditional i do agree with much of it except the Fischer vs Magnus bit as an Ultramodernist i realize that Magnus chess is not accurate enough and he would have to do quite a bit of work to play on that level but it makes for good conversation amongst the traditional guys. Daaim i dont see how China and India is going to dominate chess at all bro, i think players like KRUSHIE-KRUSHIE keeps makin the same mistakes over and over again and thats all it is really. Some of the Traditional guys in Buffalo been tellin my lots of stories about the top practicers in India and China though,which in find kinda funny cuz they used to do this with Kamsky and Maurice but now they stopped and have moved onto others!!! hahaha, oh Um bout to go over to for a lil fun if any DRUMMER wanna log on just click ULTRAMODERNIST! and u will see UM PRETTY TRICKY AND EXTREMLY COMPETITIVE!!! hope to see you there!

  14. I find myself surprised about the article’s comments on Caruana. He’s always had dual USA/ITA citizenship, and he has in recent years hinted at the possibility of playing the US Championship (he was going to play during a Zonal year, but he couldn’t as all players in a Zonal year have to play under a USA flag with FIDE).

    I’ve speculated recently that Caruana might well be interested in playing on the US team, even before Wesley So’s transfer, because it offers competitive advantages that the Italian national team can’t match. Imagine a US lineup of Caruana, Nakamura, So, and a pick-three from Kamsky/Onischuk/Akobian/Shankland/Robson/Lenderman. I believe such a team would immediately become an Olympiad favorite.

  15. I have to add Alex Lenderman to the bunch! His family emigrated when he was very young and he attended high school at Edward Morrow for his four years. His skills were primarily developed in the U.S.

  16. Boyd,

    You’d be surprised at how many people believe Fabiano was born in Italy and has lived there all of his life. I remember an interview asking him how he spoke English so well and whether his favorite foods were risotto and other Italian dishes. I remember a recent discussion of someone how said that Fabiano moved to Europe and has lived in Italy for several years. Not sure where people are reading this. However, I’m sure Dylan knows… or SHOULD know that Fabiano was born in the U.S. However, he doesn’t write as if he does if he calls Fabiano an “immigrant”.

  17. Check out – Caruana is transferring back to USA.

    Just look at the logjam of 2650+ GMs vying for the last two spots on the U.S. team now. 🙂 Kamsky and Onischuk might both decide to take a run at it – and neither would be a guaranteed pick. Good times for chess here.

  18. This might actually encourage a U.S. sponsor for an Olympiad in the not-too-distant future. Having a medal favorite A team and an all-2600 B team would be pretty sweet.

  19. There is a logjam of talent in the U.S. after so many decades of a dearth of new talent. I just hope they are able to find enough room for three superstars. It hasn’t quite worked out for Russia lately.

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