random thoughts


I've been reading up on Hastings 1895, if my recent postings haven't suggested as much.  An interesting side note I came across (I don't have the tournament book, so I'm piecemealing this all together) is that, in the long list of prizes, there was one for the player who won the most Evans Gambits during the tournament (it went to Chigorin, of course). The prize was a ring and a copy of Carlo Salvioli's Theory and Practice of Chess (Teoria e pratica del giuoco degli scacchi, 1877), presumably in Italian.  Try searching for Carlo Salvioli or his book. Let's just say that it's not as popular today as it may have been in 1895. Did the winner of the most Evans Gambits really need such a prize?

The prize money for the top seven winners was £150, £115, £85, £60, £40, £30 and £20 and £1 per win for non prize winners (and double for any win against one of the top three prize winners)

A 1946 article in Chess Review gave the prizes as: $750, $575, $425, $425, $200, $150, $100 and $5 - presumably in 1946 dollars. Considering that Charles Stanley received $10,000 in 1845 American dollars for beating Eugene Rousseau for the self-proclaimed American championship (the same amount Fischer earned - in devalued dollars - for winning the US Championship), that seems rather meager, but relative to what players were getting in tournaments around that time, the prize money was actually considered grandiose.

In tournaments winning is everything. What about in casual games? Is winning the only thing? I play blitz and only blitz. Time is an important factor in those games, more so than in regular games. Many blitz games are won or lost on time alone. But is winning purely on time actually winning? If I win on time because the position was complex (even if I was down in material or position) and my opponent couldn't unravel it in the alloted time, I feel I've won fair and square. If I have a totally won game but my time is short and my opponent makes meaningless moves simply to eat up my time and I lose on time, did I really lose when the last dozen moves had absolutely nothing to do with chess. My policy, and I adhere to it religiously, is that when my position becomes untenable, I resign whether I have 5 minutes or 5 seconds on the clock. Winning might be important, but honor trumps winning every time.

I have a chess site, several in fact, which I've maintained in various incarnations for about ten years now. Mostly I deal in chess history of different sorts. My postings have been getting less and less of late, though the ones I do make tend to be more involved, requiring hundreds of hours each. I'm planning on taking the information on Hastings, such as what I posted here, and using it on my site. But I'm getting burned out and what was fun is now a chore.

I study traps and miniatures, but like Diderot and his Calabrian - when it comes down to it, I can never remember anything. But something sticks and sometimes I find myself making moves I may not have even considered at one time because they're clever enough not to be obvious. I played a game today, a King's Gambit, as white, where I left my Bishop en pris. A Queen check forked my King and Bishop, but I remembered several games from Bill Wall's KG miniature file (in the download section here) where white allowed this very sequence and followed up with a brilliant attack on Black's King. So, rather than pulling my hair and slapping my head, my normal reactions, I calmly proceeded with an attack based on my opponent's mis-placed Queen... and it worked. Two weeks ago, I may not have won.