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Today in Chess History: Dec 20

  • #1

    Dec 20, 1903: Ramon Rey Ardid was born in Zaragossa, Spain.

    Dec 20, 1929: Joseph Ney Babson, American composer, died in Seattle, Washington, USA.

    Dec 20, 1932: Victor Place died in Paris, France.

    Dec 20, 1935: Arthur William Feuerstein was born, USA.

    Dec 20, 1944: George Sturgis died in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

    Dec 20, 1961: Nicolai Andrianov was born , Russia.

    Dec 20, 1976: Alexei Kornev was born, Russia.

    Dec 20, 1992: Giuseppe Dipilato died in Barletta, Italy.

    Dec 20, 2008: Albin Planinc(Planinec) died in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

  • #2

    Ramón Rey Ardid (20 December 1903, Zaragoza – 21 January 1988) was a Spanish chess master.

    He was a psychiatrist and professor at the Zaragoza University. In 1924, he played for Spain in first unofficial Chess Olympiad in Paris (+4 –5 =4) where took team 10th place and shared 21st in Consolation Cup (B tournament, Karel Hromádka won). In 1928, he won pre-Olympic tournament in Madrid, but later resigned from participation in the 2nd Olympiad at The Hague.

    In 1929, he tied for 4-5th in Barcelona (José Raúl Capablanca won) and took his first Spanish Champion title. In 1930 he won a match for the title against Manuel Golmayo (+4 –1 =2). He defended the title, winning matches: against R. Casas (+5 –1 =0) in 1933, Vicente Almirali Castall (+5 –0 =2) in 1935, Juan Manuel Fuentes (+5 –1 =1) in 1942, and lost the title to José Sanz (+3 –4 =3) in 1943.

    In tournaments and matches, he took 2nd, behind Andor Lilienthal, at Sitges 1934; won a match against Victor Kahn (+2 –0 =4) at Zaragoza 1935; shared 1st in Hastings 1935/36 (B tournament).

    In 1944, Rey Ardid lost a match to Alexander Alekhine (+0 –1 =3) and won against Francisco Lupi (+5 –1 =0), both in Zaragoza. He won at Madrid 1946 (Casa de Alba).


  • #3

    Joseph Ney Babson (1852-1929) bequeathed to the world of chess problemists a challenge - known as the Babson Task - that was to keep them occupied for more than 50 years after his death. The task was to compose a problem in which White and Black both have a pawn on the seventh rank, and in reply to four variations in which the black pawn promotes to queen, rook, bishop and knight, White must promote to the same piece in each case to force mate.

    Babson had done it in a non-standard problem - a self-mate where White had to force Black to give mate - but composers despaired over attempts to do it in the standard, White to play and mate in n, format.

    For fifty years the Babson task was thought impossible, but in 1983 the Russian Leonid Jarosh cracked it. The diagram shows his extraordinary composition. It is White to play and mate in four.

    The first move is 1.a7! setting up the mechanism. After 1...axb1(Q) White plays 2.axb8(Q)! Qxb2 (giving the king an escape square on d3) 3.Qxb3! Qxa1 4.Rxf4 mate.

    After 1...axb1(R), 2.axb8(Q)? Rxb2 3.Qxb3 is stalemate; but White plays 2.axb8(R)! Rxb2 3.Rxb3 Kxc4 4.Qa4 mate.

    Still more tricky is 1...axb1(B), when Black introduces the idea of Be4 into the defence. The only way to defeat it is 2.axb8(B)! Be4 3.Bxf4! Bxa8 4.Be5 (or Be3) mate.

    The last thematic variation is 1...axb1(N) 2.axb8(N)! Nxd2 3.Qc1 Ne4 (otherwise 4.Rxf4 will be mate) 4.Nc6 mate.

    Finally, and somewhat messily, we have to fill in the details of the mates if Black does not promote his pawn at the first move: 1...Qxd8+ 2.Kg7! Qc7 3.d8=Q+ Qxd8 4.Rxf4; or 1...Qe5 2.Bxe7 Qd6 3.Nxd6 axb1(Q) 4.Bxf6 mate; or 1...Qxa8 2.Rxf4+ Qe4 3.a8=Q Qxf4 4.Qd5 mate; or 1...Qd6 2.Re1 Qe5 (to stop Re4 mate) 3.Nxe5 fxe5 4.Re4 mate.

    The magnitude of this achievement (and the fact that Yarosh went on to publish a slightly simpler version soon after) must make this a candidate for the Greatest Problem of All Time award.


  • #4

    Arthur William Feuerstein (born December 20, 1935) is a highly recognized American chess player and winner of the first U.S. Armed Forces Chess Championship. According to the U.S. Chess Federation, Feuerstein is the 8th highest ranked chess player over 65, regardless of country, residence or federation.

    At age 21, Arthur won the U.S. Junior Blitz Championship, leaving newcomer Bobby Fischer in a close second place.

    In 1957, Feuerstein was selected alongside other American chess greats (such as Anthony Saidy and William Lombardy) to play in the 4th World Student Team Chess Championship, where the United States team took 5th place.

    The following year, the team was chosen to represent the U.S. again in Varna, where the team took 6th place.


  • #5

    Albin Planinc (Planinec) (18 April 1944, Briše - 20 December 2008, Ljubljana) was a Slovenian chess Grandmaster.

    Planinc won the Slovenian youth championship in 1962. He also won the full Slovenian Chess Championship in 1968 and 1971.

    His earliest international success occurred at the first Vidmar Memorial at Ljubljana 1969. However, his best result was achieved at the Amsterdam (IBM tournament) 1973, where he shared first place with Tigran Petrosian, ahead of Lubomir Kavalek, Boris Spassky and Laszlo Szabo. He also tied for 2nd-4th at Čačak 1969, won at Varna 1970, shared 1st at Čačak 1970, took 9th at Vrsac (Kostić Memorial, Henrique Mecking won), tied for 2nd-3rd at Skopje 1971, tied for 3rd-5th at Wijk aan Zee 1974 (Corus chess tournament, Walter Browne won), took 6th at Hastings 1974/75 (Hastings International Chess Congress, Vlastimil Hort won), tied for 2nd-3rd at Štip 1978, and took 12th at Polanica Zdrój 1979 (17th Rubinstein Memorial).

    Planinc played on fourth board (+9 –1 =5) for Yugoslavia in the 21st Chess Olympiad at Nice 1974, where he won a team silver medal.

    He was awarded the GM title in 1972, then became a chess trainer when the strain of playing tournament chess was contributing to his poor mental health (in those days, medication was relatively ineffective). Planinc continued to suffer from severe depression for decades, spending the last years of his life at a mental institution in Ljubljana. In 1993, he changed his last name to Planinec.

    In The Penguin Encyclopedia of Chess, Grandmaster Raymond Keene said of Planinc, "he specializes in apparently outdated openings into which his imaginative play infuses new life".



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