BELLE, Baczynskyj, and Bisguier

BELLE, Baczynskyj, and Bisguier

spassky
Aug 6, 2009, 12:00 AM |
17 | Strategy

The title of this article refers to the computer program BELLE, which was the first one to reach master strength (unlike now when they are all grandmaster strength or better), Boris Baczynskyj, a master who annotated one of BELLE's games, and Arthur Bisguier, an American Grandmaster who was one of the USA's top players (until Fischer showed up).  I still see him at the US Amateur Team East tournament every year in February, and he still plays well.  According to Wikipedia:  "Arthur Bernard Bisguier (born 8 October 1929) is an American chess International Grandmaster, chess promoter, and writer. Bisguier won two U.S. Junior Championships (1948, 1949), three U.S. Open Chess Championship titles (1950, 1956, 1959), and the 1954 United States Chess Championship title. He played for the United States in five chess Olympiads. He also played in two Interzonal tournaments (1955, 1962). On March 18, 2005, the United States Chess Federation (USCF) proclaimed him "Dean of American Chess." He is believed to have played more people, of all standards, than any other grandmaster in history".
The first game was played by me against BELLE in the 1983 New Jersey Open (BELLE was created at Bell Labs in NJ and was entered in the tournament).  The game was later analyzed in a book about computer chess.  Pay particular attention to the note to Black's 19th move.  It's a doozy!  The second game was played by me against Bisguier in a simulataneous exhibition at a shopping mall in NJ in 1985.  The interesting point is that both games started from an identical position beginning at move 20 (!).  All of the improvements in the notes by Baczynskyj to the BELLE game were followed by Bisguier, except for one and it showed that they were all good ideas (of course, Bisguier generated all of the ideas himself, as the book had just come out (as if GM Bisguier needs a master to tell him what to do in a position he has probably played a million times in his life)).  Make sure you read the notes that appear under the diagrams.

The second game was played in a simutaneous exhibition in a shopping mall in New Jersey (Quakerbridge Mall).  I was fortunate that Bisguier let me have White (in most simuls, the master takes White in every game in order to neutralize his disadvantage of having to run around from board to board).  Then he played my favorite opening.  What a sport!

Since it is relevent to the two games above, I am reprinting here an article I posted a number of months ago called "The Terminator Gets Terminated".  You can see how he did not follow the path of BELLE or Bisguier and got in trouble.  You can also see how the two previous games gave me the experience I needed to correctly play that opening against a strong player.
William Morrison is one of the top players in Maryland.  He is nicknamed "The Exterminator" for his "ability to process lower-rated opponents" (I read that somewhere).  I presume that means he grinds them up like a food processor and points come out the other end.  Although rated 2509 at the time of this game, we all know that a player's rating is just an average measure of his ability to play all types of positions.  A player can play some positions like a GM if he really studies and understands them.  He can also play well below his rating if he is just making moves without a plan and waiting for mistakes from his opponent.  I think that is what happened in this game.
White didn't play any brilliant moves in this game, just as Black did not commit any blunders.  But White, from much experience with this opening, stuck to a plan of maximizing his one advantage (his kingside majority of pawns), while Black did not do the same on the queenside until it was much too late.  He also failed to trade off a key White piece (the rook), which dominated the endgame and was poised to deliver mate at the end.
The point is that, no matter what your rating is, you can be a master of a given opening or position through study.  Players with high ratings have mastered more of these positions than you have.  But once in a while you might get lucky and get into a position that you have mastered and they have not.  When that happens, they are in for an unpleasant surprise!
These three games clearly illustrate my theory of "Learning By Induction".  By playing through these three games, you will give yourself a master's understanding of the position arising from this opening.  You could play the position from move 20 on with complete confidence that you know exactly what to do and what your opponent should be doing (or not doing).  I had that confidence and knowledge and I drew a master strength computer program, drew a well-known grandmaster, and defeated a player rated 2509.  This is how you get stronger at chess, you understand a little more each time you play through master games having the the same opening or same middlegame or same endgame.  Play through enough examples and you will acquire a master's understanding of those positions.  Create a big enough "mental library" of "understood positions" and you will in fact become a master! 
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