Chess Trilfes and Oddities 5
Khosrau I (501-579) was king of Persia and was supposedly introduced to chess by diplomats from India. Chess was introduced in Egypt by the Sasanian king, Khosrau II (570-628) in 620. He was a Persian king who lived in Egypt for 5 years.
The Einsiedeln Verses are the earliest known literary account of chess and the earliest reference to chess in a western document. It was written in the 10th century in the Benedictine monastery at Einsiedeln, Switzerland. It is a 98-lineMedieval Latin poem, called versus de scachis, describing chess. It is dated around 997 A.D. The text only describes how the pieces move. It is not allegorical in nature.
The Danish kings, Knut V (1129-1157) and Valdemar (1131-1182), were playing chess when attacked by King Sweyn (1125-1157) during a banquet. Knut was killed by one of Sweyn’s warriors, but Valdemar escaped by using the chessboard as a shield. In 1250 King Eric VII Plowpenny of Denmark was captured while playing chess with Henrick Kerkwerdor of Slesvig, and was later beheaded by his younger brother, Abel.
Gautier De Coincy (1177-1236) was the author of Les Miracles de la Sainte Vierge. It included an allegory of spiritual life, imagined as a game of chess between God and the Devil (disguised as a servant). God defeats Satan with the Fers (Virgin Mary or Queen).
Alexandre Deschapelles (1780-1847) was probably the strongest player in the world from 1800 to 1820. He claimed to have mastered chess in three days of study. A soldier in Napoleon’s army, his right hand was severed from his arm at the wrist, then run over by a horse while fighting the Prussians. His nickname was Manchot (one-armed). He also received a large sabre-wound down the entire length of his face, from brow to chin. Alexandre claimed he learned all his chess knowledge in 4 days. He gave up chess and took up whist when he could no longer beat his opponents at odds. George Perigal, after interviewing him, wrote: “M. Deschapelles is the greatest chess player in France; M. Deschapelles is the greatest whist player in France; M. Deschapelles is the greatest billiards player in France; M. Deschapelles is the greatest pumpkin-grower in France; M. Deschapelles is the greatest liar in France.
The first upright demonstration board was designed in 1857 by Johann Loewenthal (1810-1876) and used to illustrate chess games in his lectures. The first use of a demonstration board in a World Championship match was for the Steinitz-Zukertort match in 1886.
Cecil Valentine de Vere (1845-1875), who was born Cecil Valentine Brown on Valentine’s Day, was the first official British Chess Champion (1866). He has been called the ‘English Morphy.’ He died of tuberculosis at the age of 29.
The first time a draw counted a half point was the Dundee International in September, 1867 in Scotland. Players tossed for color at the start of each game. Up until the late 1940s, the USCF Laws of Chess stated that draws could not be accepted by mutual consent until 30 moves were made.
The Harvard Chess Club was founded in 1874 and is one of the oldest chess clubs in the country, and the oldest chess club in the Boston area. Harvard played its first correspondence game in February 1879, against the Boston Chess Club. The current Harvard Chess Club faculty advisor is Dr. Noam Elkies, a strong chess master. In 1996, Elkies won the world championship of chess problems solving.
En passant was first used in the 15th century but not universally accepted until 1880.
The oldest Polish chess club is the Cracow Chess Club, established in 1893. The first Polish championship took place in 1926 and won by Dawid Przepiorka.
In 1925, an international super-tournament was held in Moscow. It was the world’s first state-sponsored chess tournament. There were 11 foreign masters and 10 Soviet masters. The winner was Efim Bogoljubow, followed by Emanuel Lasker, Jose Capablanca, and Frank Marshall. Tens of thousands watched demonstration boards of the tournament throughout Moscow. The film Chess Fever used a number of scenes from this tournament. Psychologists tested the participants of the tournament and found that the top players only had an average performance in general tests of memory, attention, and thinking. But all of them were superior in memorizing positions of chessmen on the chessboard.
Harlow Bussey Daly (1883-1979) was the oldest person to win a state chess championship. He won the chess championship of Maine at age 86 in 1970. He won it 7 consecutive times between 1959 and 1965. He was active in chess for 75 years. He won the New England Championship in 1908 at the age of 24.
Machgielis (Max) Euwe (1901-1981) (pronounce uhr-vuh) was twice world champion – 1935-37 and for 1 day in 1947. In 1947, the FIDE Congress voted for Euwe to be world champion since Alexander Alekhine died. However, the Soviet delegation, which joined FIDE in 1947, was late one day for this vote. They showed up the next day and had the title rescinded in favor of a match-tournament (later won by Mikhail Botvinnik). Euwe was an amateur boxer and once won the amateur heavyweight boxing champion of Europe. His PhD dissertation was entitled “Differential variants of two co-variant vector fields with four variables.”
The first World Chess Championship for the Deaf and Dumb was held in Zakopane, Poland in February, 1956 and won by Svaversky of Czechoslovakia. Hamburg, Germany had a deaf and dumb chess club in 1901.
Alberic O’Kelly de Galway (1911-1980) was a Belgian chess grandmaster and correspondence grandmaster. He won the Belgian chess championship 13 times between 1937 and 1959. He drew all his nine games at Beverwijk in 1957, drew seven out of nine at Beverwijk in 1958, and drew all nine games at Beverwijk in 1959. He was the chief arbiter of the world championship matches between Spassky and Petrosian in 1966 and 1969. He was fluent in 7 languages (French, Dutch, German, English, Spanish, Russian, and Italian).
Pal Benko holds the record for more first place finishes in the US Open chess tournament. Benko finished in first place (or tied for first place) in 8 US Open Chess Championship. He took 1st in 1961, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1969, 1974, and 1975. In 1964, he also won the Canadian Open.
Between 1971 and 1978, Karpov played 188 tournament games and only lost 6 games during that period.
Unofficial NATO chess tournaments were held in Denmark every year since May, 1978. In 1989, an official NATO Chess Championship was held in Hammelburg, Germany. The top American player that participated in several NATO championships was IM Emory Tate, an Air Force Sergeant at the time. The 24th NATO chess championship will be held in Warsaw, Poland in August, 2013.
In 1999, the Continental Chess Association (CCA), founded by Bill Goichberg in 1964, established an all time record for USCF affiliates by enrolling 1,489 USCF members in one year.
– Bill Wall