Chess Trivia 2 by Bill Wall


Dr. Peter Millican is a correspondence Grandmaster, a Professor of Philosophy at Oxford, and an expert in computer linguistics.  In 1990, he won the British Correspondence championship.  He also develops software to analyze and compare texts.  He used one of his computer programs to identify J.K. Rowling as the real writer of a detective novel called The Cuckoo Calling.  She wrote the novel under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.


Heavy smokers among chess masters include Etienne Bacrot, Robert Byrne, Arnold Denker, Jan Donner, Yefim Geller, Alexander Grischuk, Victor Korchnoi, Emanuel Lasker, Anatoly Lein, Andre Lilienthal, Frank Marshall, Leonid Shamkovich, Boris Spassky, Leonid Stein, Mikhail Tal, Wang Yue.


Wei Yi was born on June 2, 1999.  He is the world’s youngest current grandmaster.  He became a GM at the age of 13 years, 8 months and 23 days.  He is the 4th youngest GM in history.  In November 2013, at the age of 14 years, 4 months and 30 days, he reached a rating of 2604, making him the youngest player in history to achieve a rating over 2600.


In 1950, the first list of grandmasters was published.  The youngest GM in the world at that time was David Bronstein, age 26.


The longest decisive game played at a normal time control is 210 moves, played in the game Neverov vs. Bogdanovich in the 2013 Ukrainian championship.  Bogdanovich (Black) won.   The longest decisive game is a 237-move rapid game, played between Fressinet vs. Kosteniuk (the winner) at Villandry in 2007.  In 1989, Ivan Nikolic and Goran Arsovic played a game that lasted 269 moves.  The game was drawn after more than 20 hours of play.


Fedit Bohatyrchuk (1892-1984) was a medical doctor and political activist who left the Ukraine and settled in Canada.  He played in 6 USSR championships.   He was the role model of Dr. Zhivago in Boris Pasternak’s novel.  Pasternack’s love for chess was second only to his devotion to literature.  He was a strong amateur.


Wilhelm Steinitz is buried in Brooklyn’s Evergreen Cemetery, Bethel Slope Section, Lot 5896.  His birth date on his grave is wrong.  He was born on May 17, 1836.  His tombstone  says that he was born on May 14, 1837.  The inscriptions on his tombstone are written in German, but his first name on the tombstone reads William instead of Wilhelm.  The top of his tombstone is a chessboard.


Lothar Schmid (1928-2013) was a German grandmaster (1959) whose family were co-owners of the Karl May Press.  They published Karl May (1842-1912) adventure novels, in German, about cowboys and the American Old West.  When Schmid died, he had the largest private chess library in the world.


In 2013, on Bobby Fischer’s 70th anniversary, the hotel in which Bobby Fischer stayed in during his 1972 world championship match with Spassky, opened up a memorial exhibition.  The Hotel Loftleider (now the Icelandair Reykjavik Hotel Natura) opened up an “Art of Chess” corner in the hotel full of Fischer memorabilia .  Fischer stayed in Suite 470.  Another 70th Bobby Fischer anniversary event was the Bobby Fischer Memorial, held in Sousse, Tunisia.  In 1967, Fischer was winning the Sousse Interzonal when he stormed out due to a scheduling dispute.


In 2013, Magnus Carlsen signed a three-year contract deal to be sponsored by Nordic Semiconductor.  The company hosted a Heart Rate Monitoring Chess Tournament at the Consumer and Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in 2014.  Carlsen gave a simul at the event in Las Vegas, winning all 20 games.  During the simul, Carlsen’s heart rate and his opponents were monitored and displayed at the convention.  Carlsen’s heart rate (86 beats per minute) remained steady during the entire exhibition.  Almost all of his opponents were elevated during the simul.


In 2013, the World Junior Championship was supposed to have been played in Hatay, Turkey, only 12 miles away from the Syrian border.  But the Turkish Chess Federation decided to move the event from Hatay to Kocaeli, Turkey to move it as far away from Syria as possible due to the Syrian civil war.   Many federations had already decided not to send their players.   Yu Yangyi won the event for boys under-20.  Aleksandra Goryachkina of Russia won the girls section.


In 1968, Ken Rogoff gave a 26-board blindfold simultaneous exhibition at the age of 15, a world record for his age.  The exhibition, at the Rochester Chess Club in New York, lasted 5 hours.


In 2013, the number of FIDE-rated chess players reached a new peak of 150,000 players.  There are 50 players in the world rated over 2700.


Russia has not won a Chess Olympiad since 2002 (the Soviet Union and Russia dominated the Chess Olympiad from 1952 to 2002).  Since 2002, Armenia has won the Chess Olympiad 3 times and Ukraine has won it twice.


Pal Benko wrote an endgame chess column for Chess Life magazine for 45 years before he retired in 2013 at the age of 85.


The Sinquefeld Cup chess tournament, held in St. Louis in September 2013, was the strongest chess tournament ever held in the United States.  The tournament players were Magnus Carlsen, Aronian, Nakamura, and Kamsky.  The average rating was 2793.  Carlsen won the event and $170,000 for 1st place.


Daniel Naroditsky, the current U.S. Junior champion, was the youngest chess author in history when his book, Mastering Positional Chess, was published when Daniel was 14.


Sam Sevian became the youngest master ever, at the age of 9 years, 11 months and 9 days.  He won the world under-12 championship, and, at the age of 12, was the youngest player ever to play in a U.S. chess championship. 


The Fischer prize of $64,000 will be given to anyone who can go 9-0 in a U.S. chess championship.  Shabalov went 5-0 in his first five games in 2007.  Kamsky went 4-0 in his first four games at the 2013 US championship.


In 1998, Anna Aksharumova scored a perfect 9-0 in the US women’s championship, the only time there had been a perfect score in the US women’s championship.  Bobby Fischer score 11-0 in the 1963-64 US championship.


In 1995, Alexander Ivanov (1956- ) was playing in the U.S. chess championship in Modesto, California when he lost his first round on time.  After the first round, he wife, Woman International Master (WIM) Esther Epstein (1954- ), arrived to play in the Women’s championship.  She told her husband, “I don’t care how you lose, just don’t lose on time!”  It worked.  He won 6 games, lost one (not on time) and tied for 1st place in the U.S. chess championship.  Esther finished 3rd place in the women’s championship (she won it in 1991 and 1997).  She also refrained from telling her husband that a fire had damaged their apartment in Massachusetts until after the tournament was over.


Italian chess players dominated the game of chess from the 1500s to the 1700s.  Correspondence chess may have originated in Italy when Venetian and Croatian merchants played chess by dispatches around 1650.  In 1836, correspondence games were published for the first time in Italy by Giuseppe Gasbarri of Florence.  The first postal game played in Italy on record was held in 1875-76 between the chess clubs of Ferrara and Livorno.  The first chess game by telephone in Italy was played in 1880 in Livorno.  The first telegraphic chess match in Italy was held in 1897 between the Milan Chess Club and the Chess Club of Palermo.  The first Italian chess correspondence tournament began in 1895 and ended in 1899.  The winner was Francesco Abbadess from Palermo.  In 1898, the first Italian chess federation, the Unione Scacchistica Italiana, was formed.  It was disbanded in 1914.  In 1974, Sergio Mariotti became Italy’s first grandmaster.  The 1980 Italian championship was delayed until 1981 because of an earthquake.  In 1982 the Italian Chess Federation refused to allow one of its best players, Stefano Tatai, to play on the Italian Olympiad team.  Tatai was 44 and seven time national champion.  The Italian Chess Federation only wanted members that were age 30 or younger to represent Italy.  The result was a very poor showing at the Olympiad. 


John Griswold White (1845-1928) was a lawyer and prominent citizen of Cleveland who collected books on chess, folklore and Orientalia during a period of 50 years.  The John G. White book collection at the Cleveland Public library now consists of over 162,000 books.  The John G. White Collection of Chess and Checkers was officially established in 1928.  The chess section has over 33,000 chess books and over 7,000 bound periodicals.  It is the world’s largest chess library and completely accessible to the public.  The Folklore Collection has over 47,000 volumes.  The library is open 6 days a week.


Anatoly Karpov only lost to two non-Grandmasters during his entire reign as World Champion.  He lost to Igor Ivanov (1947-2005) in Russia (USSR Spartakiade) in 1979 and to Carlos Garcia Palermo (1953- ) at Mar del Plata in 1982.  Palermo later became a GM in1985.


During his match with Deep Blue, Kasparov was asked how many moves ahead did he generally thing.  Kasparov responded that he normally calculates only 3 to 5 moves, and that you don’t need more.  However, in positions with forced lines, he thought he could calculate up to 14 moves.    Deep Blue was calculating 200 million moves per second or 50 billion positions in 3 minutes.


Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, president of the World Chess Federation (FIDE) since 1995, was the first official Russian billionaire in hard U.S. dollars.  His parents were suspected Nazi collaborators.  In 1976, he won the championship of Kalmyka at the age of 14.  He was the President of the Autonomous Republic of Kalmykia from 1993 to 2010.  He was once arrested and sent to prison by the Russian authorities, accused of being a spy for the Afghan rebels.  It was later proven that he merely played chess with the son of the former President of Afghanistan.   His major in college was Japanese and he became a sales manager of a Soviet-Japanese automobile company.  In 1990, he was the youngest elected member of the Russian Parliament.  He speaks 7 languages.  He claims he has had personal contact with aliens and rode in their spaceship.  (the picture is of Ilyumzhinov playing chess with Khadafi).


In 1996, Yoko Ono (1933- ) donated $2,500 to enable the Edward R. Murrow High School chess team in Brooklyn, New York, to attend the state and national championships.  The school had been national champions in 1992, 1993, and 1994, but had no funds in 1995 and 1996.  The school won the national championship in 2013, their 8th time winning it (1992, 1993, 1994, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2013).  They have also won 15 state titles and 16 city championships.  Yoko says she plays chess almost every day.


In 1961, artist Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) organized an art exhibition with works by Picasso, Dali, Matisse, Ernst, Alexander Calder, Miro, Tanguy, himself, and others.  The works were auctioned off and the profits were used for the Duchamp Chess Endowment Fund of the American Chess Foundation.  Duchamp was an active member of the Board of Directors of the American Chess Foundation.  In 1966, he organized a chess exhibition called Hommage a Caissa. He asked for and received works from Bellmer, Ernst, Lichtenstein, Magritte, Oldenberg, and others to be auctioned for chess funds.  He produced thirty 'ReadyMade' chess sets and sold them at the Cordier & Elkstrom Gallery in New York. In this exhibition, he played chess with Salvador Dali while Andy Warhol had the band Velvet Underground sent to provide the background music. Duchamp raised over $32,000 to support the American Chess Foundation.


Claude Bloodgood (1937-2001) was an active chess player, chess organizer and rating statistician for the Virgina State Chess Federation in the 1960s.  He was sentenced to die in Virginia after he murdered his mother in 1969.  The sentence was commuted to life in prison.  While in prison, he played chess almost every day.  He played thousands of correspondence games (free postage for those on Death Row) and thousands of games with his fellow inmates.   At one point, he had 1,200 postal games going at the same time.  In 1973, he played in the Virginia State Championship wearing manacles.  In 1974, he received a furlough to play in a chess tournament outside the prison.  He escaped, but was captured a few days later.  That ended furloughs for chess players.   In 1996, his USCF chess rating rose to 2702, making him the second highest rated player in the country.  He was also the 3rd most active chess player in the nation, with over 1,700 games to his credit.  His rating was due to the closed pool ratings inflation, as he won almost every rated game he played against other prisoners, many rated as masters due to their provisional rating.