Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Yes I said it, Yes I believed it, Yes I've changed my mind!

Marjorie Sheiman realizes she is facing the Noah's Ark Trap for the first time in her young career during round 5 at the Portland Chess Club Centennial. (photo by Andrei Botez)

In an interview with Ralph Ginzburg nearly 50 years ago, Bobby Fischer famously said, "They're all weak, all women...there isn't a woman player in the world I can't give knight-odds to and still beat." Bobby was 18 at the time. I have not seen or heard anything to indicate that he ever felt any differently...until this past weekend.

Grandmaster Susan Polgar entertained and enlightened a packed house at a breakfast meeting held before round 5 of the Portland Chess Club Centennial on Sunday morning. She shared previously untold stories about the eight years from 1993 to 2001 when Bobby Fischer lived in her home city of Budapest, Hungary. The title of her 30 minute lecture was The Bobby Fischer I Knew.

The former woman's world champion answered questions for an additional 30 minutes before analyzing the "most interesting game" from the 2011 Portland Closed Championship, a flashy encounter won by Steven Breckenridge when he mated his opponent in the middle of the board despite being three pieces down (see my blog dated 8/14/11).

The period after Bobby Fischer's 1992 rematch with Boris Spassky in Yugoslavia has been referred to as his "lost years". In the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer, Josh Waitzin is heard lamenting that Bobby came out of retirement in 1992 and then disappeared again. In the recently released HBO documentary Bobby Fischer against the World, there is little mention of the gap between his rematch with Spassky and his unfortunate remarks following the 9-11-2001 terrorist attacks.

So, to the delight of the crowd assembled at the Doubletree Hotel in Lloyd Center this past weekend, Susan Polgar filled in some of that gap. Fischer crossed the Hungarian border with Yugoslavia in 1993 and moved to a neighborhood near Susan's family. Susan played chess frequently with Bobby until she relocated to the United States in 1994. Fischer remained in Budapest where he was apparently quite happy surrounded by his Yugoslavian bodyguard and his closest friends. These included Grandmasters Eugenio Torre (who was almost always with him), Pal Benko (he lived half the year in Budapest and the other half in New Jersey) and Lajos Portisch. In addition, Fischer saw his Hungarian girlfriend and, of course, the Polgar sisters and their parents. Spassky, who remained close friends with Fischer, visited from France from time to time.This photo of Bobby Fischer and Susan Polgar playing chess at her home in Budapest during 1993 is one of the few pictures of Bobby taken during his "lost years" after the 1992 rematch with Boris Spassky in Sveti Stefan, Yugolsavia. (photo courtesy of the Susan Polgar Foundation)

Susan and Bobby played dozens of Fischer Random chess games, a variant with 960 different starting positions (now referred to by FIDE and USCF as Fischer 960). When asked about her results, Susan said, "I won several games and he won several. I'd say we were fairly even." That prompted a question from the audience about his knight odds remark. Susan laughed and said, "I did ask him about it once. He told me 'yes I said it, yes I believed it, and yes I've changed my mind'. After that, we never discussed the issue again."

Besides studying and playing chess, Bobby kept busy in Hungary developing what tournament players now take for granted: digital clocks with time delays and increments. Fischer worked with a German company during this period. He spent many hours testing and making recommendations for improvements to these new devices. He gave one of his three clock prototypes to the Polgar family, a treasured gift that remains in their home in Budapest. In addition, Fischer spent much of his time maintaining his level of physical fitness by attending at least four different health spas around the city. It was later revealed that Paul Nemenyi, a Hungarian Jewish physicist, was Fischer's biological father. Although Susan didn't know it at the time, she speculates that Bobby was aware and spent some time in Hungary probing his own genealogical roots.

When Susan Polgar moved to the U.S., Fischer stayed in touch with the family, and also with her, via periodic phone calls to New York. But she never saw him again. When asked whether she thought the recent HBO documentary about Fischer was a fair reflection on his life, she said: "Yes, in general it was. However, they missed an opportunity to highlight his creative genius and not just his problems. They could have summarized his life in a more positive way at the end of the movie."

"Bobby was a brilliant man," she said, "who discovered many new ideas over the board and created rules for a whole new way to play the game with Fischer Random so that future world championship matches might not be awarded to the player who best utilizes his computer in preparation of openings. Fischer developed a dramatic new way of keeping time for the game that is officially adopted by FIDE as a way of making the game more exciting and avoiding adjournments, and he increased the financial rewards available to chess players so that now many of them can make a good living. Bobby Fischer deserves credit for these things and the documentary missed the punch line that would have made it more complete. That said, I believe it was an accurate portrayal of his life."

Later, she founded the Susan Polgar Foundation with the expressed mission to promote chess, with all its educational, social, and competitive benefits throughout the United States, for young people of all ages, especially girls. In 2004, Susan came out of retirement to play for the U.S. in the Chess Olympiad where she and her teammates won the Silver Medal and became role models for young girls interested in chess. Shortly thereafter, she created the Susan Polgar National Invitational for Girls, now in its eighth year. It is significant to note that ALL of the U.S. Women's Chess Champions crowned since that time were members of the 2004 Olympiad Team.

All one had to do at the Portland Chess Club Centennial tournament was look around the room where Susan Polgar's impact on girls in chess was clearly in evidence. Not only did Susan play dozens of smiling children in two simultaneous exhibitions sponsored by Chess for Success, but many of the competitors in both the Championship and Amateur sections were young ladies.

In today's blog I am pleased to celebrate the young women involved in chess in the Portland area. Many thanks to Andrei Botez, proud father of two such stars: Alexandra and Andrea, for taking these beautiful photos.

Megan Lee, rated 2059, earned two victories over USCF rated national masters in this event.

Alexandra Botez, rated 2035, recently earned a scholarship to University of Texas at Dallas for her chess prowess. After a slow start, she finished with three straight victories.

Alathea Lataw, playing in her first rated tournament notched victory #1 in round 3.

Sarah May did not lose a single game and finished with 4 points in 6 rounds in the Amateur section.

Sangeeta Dhingra scored 3 1/2 points to boost her 1541 rating and collect $66.67 in prize money.

Olga Cherapakhin scored two points in the Amateur section.

Menaka Nararanyan had an even score after a half point first round bye.

Hazel Malone loves to play chess, but gave up her time this weekend to volunteer as an important member of the tournament staff.

I know Becca Lampman is tough from personal experience. She already has two notches in her belt from victories against me.

Another good player frequently seen on the tournament trail is Susan Koenig. She was visible all weekend staffing the bookstore and the room used for side events like the Susan Polgar clock simul and the breakfast. Unfortunately, she was busy with her duties when these photos were taken. So we missed her, but her presence at the Centennial celebration was surely felt.

Below are most of the game scores from GM Susan Polgar's 10-board clock simul. She scored a perfect 10-0-0.

1) Polgar,Susan - Schoffstall,Karl [D09]
simul, 13.08.2011
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 d4 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.g3 Nge7 Morozevich's move, which led to a small comeback for this opening. 6.Bg2 Ng6 7.Bf4 Bg4 8.Nbd2 Qd7 9.Qb3 Bb4 10.0-0 a5 11.c5 a4 12.Qc2 h5 13.Ne4 a3 14.Rad1 Bf5 15.bxa3 Rxa3 16.Nxd4 Nxd4 17.Qc4 Nxf4 18.gxf4 Nxe2+ 19.Qxe2 Qa4 20.Rd4 Rxa2 21.Rxb4 Qxb4 22.Qxa2 0-0 23.Qb1 1-0

(2) Polgar,Susan - Breckenridge,Steven [E14]
simul, 13.08.2011
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.e3 b6 4.Bd3 Bb7 5.c4 c5 6.0-0 Be7 7.Nc3 cxd4 8.exd4 d5 9.cxd5 Nxd5 10.Ne5 0-0 Rather bad luck, or just lack of knowledge of his opponent, led Steven to this position. Susan has played it at least 5 times in tournaments, including a win against Karpov in the Amber blindfold event, and a draw with Jan Timman. No wonder she makes this game look easy, despite facing a strong young master in a simul! 11.Qg4 f5 12.Qe2 Bf6 13.Bd2 a6 14.Rac1 Re8 15.Bc4 Nd7 16.f4 Nb8 17.Be3 Qd6 18.Nxd5 Bxd5 19.Bxd5 Qxd5 20.Rc7 Bd8 21.Qh5 Rf8 22.Rf7 Qd6 23.Rc1 Bf6 24.Rcc7 Qd8 25.Rxf8+ Qxf8 26.Qf3 1-0

(3) Polgar,Susan - Sun,Maxwell [C45]
simul, 13.08.2011
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Bc5 5.Nxc6 Qf6 6.Qf3 Qxf3 7.gxf3 bxc6 8.Bd2 Bd4 9.c3 Bf6 10.Na3 Rb8 11.0-0-0 Ne7 12.f4 d6 13.Re1 0-0 14.h4 g6 15.h5 gxh5 16.Rxh5 Bg7 17.Bd3 Ng6 18.Reh1 Bg4 19.Rxh7 Bf3 20.R1h2 Bg4 21.Nc4 f5 22.Na5 Rb6 23.Bc4+ d5 24.exd5 Kf7 25.dxc6+ Kf6 26.Be3 Rd8 27.Bd4+ Rxd4 28.cxd4 Nf8 29.Rh8 Bxh8 30.Rxh8 Ng6 31.Rh7 Nxf4 32.Rxc7 Ne2+ 33.Bxe2 Bxe2 34.Rxa7 Ra6 35.Rxa6 Bxa6 36.Nb3 Ke7 37.Nc5 Bc8 38.b4 Kd6 39.b5 Kc7 40.a4 Kb6 41.Kb2 f4 42.Kb3 Kc7 43.a5 1-0

(4) Polgar,S - Esler,B [E60]
Portland Centennial Simul, 13.08.2011
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.d4 g6 3.c4 Bg7 4.g3 0-0 5.Bg2 d6 6.0-0 Nc6 7.Be3 e5 8.dxe5 Ng4 9.Bg5 Qd7 10.Nc3 h6 11.Bd2 Ngxe5 12.b3 Nxf3+ 13.Bxf3 Ne5 14.Bg2 c6 15.Qc1 Kh7 16.Qc2 Qe7 17.Rad1 f5 18.Bc1 Be6 19.Ba3 Rad8 20.e3 Rf7 21.h3 Qf6 22.Ne2 Rfd7 23.Rd2 d5 24.c5 Nf7 25.Bb2 Qxb2 26.Qxb2 Bxb2 27.Rxb2 Ne5 28.Rd1 Re7 29.Nd4 Bf7 30.Kf1 Nd7 31.Rc1 Kg7 32.Ke2 Kf6 33.Kd2 Ne5 34.Bf1 g5 35.Be2 Rde8 36.Rc3 f4 37.gxf4 gxf4 38.exf4 Ng6 39.Bg4 Nxf4 40.Re3 Re4 41.Ne2 h5 42.Rxe4 Rxe4 43.Bf3 Re5 44.Nxf4 Rf5 45.Ke3 Re5+ 46.Kd3 Rf5 47.Nxd5+ Bxd5 48.Bxd5 Rxd5+ 49.Ke4 Rxc5 50.f4 Rc3 51.h4 Rh3 52.Rd2 Ke7 53.Ke5 Rxh4 54.f5 Rh1 55.f6+ Kf7 56.Rd7+ Kg6 57.Rg7+ Kh6 58.Rg8 Re1+ 59.Kf5 Rf1+ 60.Ke6 Re1+ 61.Kf7 h4 62.Rh8+ Kg5 63.Kg7 Rf1 64.f7 Kg4 65.f8Q Rxf8 66.Kxf8 h3 67.Ke7 Kg3 68.Kd6 Kg2 69.Kc7 1-0

(5) Polgar,S - Doddapaneni,V [B23]
Portland Centennial Simul, 13.08.2011
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.f4 e6 4.Nf3 d5 5.exd5 exd5 6.Bb5 Nge7 7.0-0 a6 8.Bxc6+ Nxc6 9.Re1+ Be7 10.d4 cxd4 11.Nxd4 0-0 12.Be3 Bf6 13.Qd2 Re8 14.Bf2 Be6 15.Rad1 Qd7 16.Nxc6 bxc6 17.Na4 Bd8 18.Nc5 Qc7 19.Bd4 Be7 20.Nxe6 fxe6 21.Rxe6 Bd6 22.Qe2 Qf7 23.Re1 Rxe6 24.Qxe6 Rd8 25.f5 Rd7 26.g4 c5 27.Bf2 Kf8 28.Qxf7+ Kxf7 29.Kg2 c4 30.Bd4 Re7 31.Rxe7+ Bxe7 32.Kf3 Bf6 33.Bxf6 Kxf6 34.Kf4 g5+ 35.fxg6 hxg6 36.h4 a5 37.c3 a4 38.a3 Ke6 39.h5 1-0

(6) Polgar,S - Murray,D [D46]
Portland Centennial Simul, 13.08.2011
1.Nf3 d5 2.d4 Nf6 3.c4 e6 4.Nc3 c6 5.e3 Bd6 6.Bd3 0-0 7.0-0 Nbd7 8.e4 dxe4 9.Nxe4 Nxe4 10.Bxe4 Nf6 11.Bc2 b6 12.Bg5 Be7 13.Qd3 g6 14.Rad1 Bb7 15.Qe3 Ng4 16.Qf4 Bxg5 17.Nxg5 Nf6 18.Rd3 Nh5 19.Qd2 Qc7 20.Rh3 Rad8 21.Rxh5 gxh5 22.Qd3 f5 23.Nxe6 Qe7 24.Qg3+ Kh8 25.Nxf8 Rxf8 26.Qf4 Qg7 27.Qe5 Qxe5 28.dxe5 f4 29.Rd1 Re8 30.h4 Re7 31.b3 c5 32.a3 Rg7 33.Rd8+ 1-0

(7) Polgar,S - Lundy,G [D06]
Portland Centennial SImul, 13.08.2011
1.d4 d5 2.c4 Nf6 3.cxd5 Qxd5 4.Nc3 Qd8 5.e4 e6 6.Nf3 Bb4 7.Bd3 0-0 8.Bg5 Be7 9.0-0 Bd7 10.Qe2 h6 11.Bh4 Be8 12.e5 Nd5 13.Qe4 g6 14.Bxe7 Nxe7 15.Qf4 Kh7 16.Ne4 Ng8 17.h4 Nd7 18.h5 Qe7 19.Qg4 f5 20.exf6 Ndxf6 21.Nxf6+ Rxf6 22.Ne5 Qg7 23.hxg6+ Kh8 24.Rae1 Ne7 25.Re3 Nxg6 26.Rg3 Kh7 27.Re1 Rd8 28.Ree3 Bf7 29.Ref3 Rc8 30.Rxf6 Qxf6 31.Rf3 1-0

(8) Polgar,S - Allison,E [A94]
Portland Centennial SImul, 13.08.2011
1.d4 f5 2.g3 e6 3.Bg2 d5 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.0-0 Bd6 6.b3 0-0 7.c4 c6 8.Ba3 Bxa3 9.Nxa3 Qe7 10.Nc2 Nbd7 11.Nce1 Ne4 12.Nd3 Ndf6 13.Nfe5 Bd7 14.e3 g6 15.Qc2 Kh8 16.Rae1 Qg7 17.Nc5 Rab8 18.f3 Ng5 19.h4 Nxf3+ 20.Bxf3 Qe7 21.b4 a6 22.a4 b5 23.axb5 axb5 24.cxd5 exd5 25.Ncxd7 Nxd7 26.Nxc6 Qd6 27.Nxb8 Qxg3+ 28.Qg2 Qxb8 29.Bxd5 Qd6 30.Bf3 Qxb4 31.Rb1 Qe7 32.Qf2 Rb8 33.Rb3 b4 34.Rfb1 Kg7 35.Qe1 Kf6 36.Rxb4 Rc8 37.e4 fxe4 38.Qxe4 Qd6 39.R4b2 Kf7 40.Rf1 Kg7 41.Bg2 Rf8 42.Rxf8 Nxf8 43.Qe5+ Qxe5 44.dxe5 Ne6 45.Rb7+ Kh6 46.Bd5 Nd4 47.e6 Nf5 48.e7 Nxe7 49.Rxe7 Kh5 50.Rxh7+ Kg4 51.Be4 g5 52.hxg5 Kxg5 53.Rf7 Kg4 54.Kg2 Kg5 55.Kg3 Kh6 56.Kf4 Kh5 57.Rh7# 1-0

(9) Polgar,S - Burris,C [E06]
Portland Centennial Simul, 13.08.2011
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.d4 e6 3.c4 b6 4.g3 Bb7 5.Bg2 d5 6.Nc3 Be7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Ne5 c6 9.cxd5 cxd5 10.Bf4 Nh5 11.Be3 Nf6 12.Qa4 a6 13.Qb3 Nbd7 14.Nd3 Rc8 15.a4 a5 16.Nb5 Ba6 17.Rac1 Bxb5 18.Qxb5 Bd6 19.Ne5 Nxe5 20.dxe5 Bxe5 21.Bxb6 Bc7 22.Bxa5 Bxa5 23.Rxc8 Qxc8 24.Qxa5 Qc6 25.Qb4 Qc2 26.e3 Nd7 27.a5 Nc5 28.Qa3 Qc4 29.b4 Na6 30.Rb1 Qc7 31.b5 Qb7 32.Qd6 Nc7 33.a6 1-0

Photos of the clock simul are located here.

View the summary
of the Portland Chess Club Centennial, with links to each of my blogs during the tournament (sincere thanks to Jeff Roland and Idaho Chess Association for making this coverage possible). And see the extensive coverage on the Northwest Chess web site (hank you to Eric Holcomb). The USCF cross tables reflecting rating changes as a result of the PCC Centennial are located here.

The Portland Chess Club main page is here (thank you to Grisha Alpernas).

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