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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, August 4, 2011

As a contact sport
Chess is popular in Mongolia

By Peter Henner

This is the first chess column in two months because I was in Mongolia, working as a legal advisor to the Center for Human Rights and Development, a Mongolian not-for-profit organization committed to fighting for environmental protection, especially from improper mining practices, and combating human trafficking. For those interested in my activities, please see my blog: peterinmongolia.blogspot.com.

I had hoped to connect with Mongolian chess players. Chess is very popular in Mongolia, and the country has about 50 internationally rated players out of a population of 2.8 million, which is more rated players per capita than the United States. About 40 percent of the rated players are women, probably the highest percentage in the world.

However, the only chess that I was able to play was against the chess hustlers in the main square of Ulan Baatar. A friend took two videos of a game that I played “Chess, the musical” and “Chess as a contact sport” and posted them on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wvfk4zuPLL8 and at


Capital District Chess League

The strong Schenectady A team won the league. The Albany A team recovered from its upset loss to the Albany B team (formerly known as the Guilderland Dutchmen) to finish second. The B team lost its last two matches to finish with a 4-3 record.

The final standings:

—         1. Schenectady A, 5 ½ - 1 ½ (20.5 game points);

—         2. Albany A, 5-2 (17.5);

—         3. Schenectady Geezers, 5-2 (17)

—         4. Saratoga A, 4 ½ -2 ½ (16.5);

—         5. Albany B, 4-3 (13.5);

—          6. Uncle Sam, 3-4 (13);

—          7. Saratoga B, ½ -6 ½ (7.5); and

—          8. RPI, 1⁄2 - 6 1⁄2 (6.5).

Summer is a relatively quiet time for chess in the Capital District. The Schenectady, Albany, and Saratoga club championships will not start until the fall. The Albany-Schenectady match, which was revived last summer after a several-year hiatus, has been tentatively scheduled for Sept. 15.

However, Proctor’s has been hosting a chess-in-the-park event on Mondays from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., and on July 28, the Schenectady club hosted an unrated speed chess tournament (Game in 10 minutes), which attracted six players, and was won by Phil Sells with a perfect 5-0 record, ahead of me, 3-2; Timothy Wright, 2 1⁄2 - 2 1⁄2; Tom Clark (a visitor from California), 2 1⁄2 -2 1⁄2; Richard Chu,  1 1⁄2 - 3 1⁄2;  and Corey Northrup, 1⁄2 - 4 1⁄2.

Aaron competes for World Junior Champ

Schenectady’s own Deepak Aaron, a rising young master, is competing in the World Junior Championship in Chennai (formerly known as Madras), India. He is seeded 65th out of 124 players, and lost his first-round game to one of the higher rated players in the tournament, Grandmaster S.Lopez. 

International chess

One of the major chess events of the summer is the international tournament in Dortmund, Germany, which typically invites some of the strongest players in the world. This year’s event was a double round robin, with five players rated over 2700, and the one local player, the German Georg Meier, rated only 2656.

The tournament was won by former world champion Vladimir Kramnik for the 10th time, with a dominating score of 7-3, 1  ½  points ahead of the entire field. In his last round game against the American Hikaru Nakamura, Kramnik sacrificed a knight for a speculative and unsuccessful attack, something he probably would not have done if he had been worried about scoring a point.

Nakamura won his last two games, to finish fifth with a score of 4 1⁄2 - 5 1⁄2.

Second place was taken by the 20-year-old Vietnamese Grandmaster Le Quang Liem, playing in Dortmund for the second straight year, with a score of 5 ½ - 4 ½. Liem is the third highest Asian player, behind world champion Anand and Chinese player Wang Hao, and definitely someone to watch in the future.

The Ukraininan Ponomariov and the teenage Dutchman A. Giri tied for third and fourth with 5-5, and Meier finished sixth with 3-7.

This week’s problem

The Estonian Paul Keres was one of the strongest players in the world from the late 1930s until the late 1960s, and was one of five players to contest the 25-round match tournament to determine the world championship in 1948. The tournament was won by Mikhail Botvinnik, who held the title, with several interruptions, until he was finally defeated by Tigran Petrosian in 1963.

Keres had been suspected of collaboration with German occupying authorities during World War II; there is a continuing chess controversy as to whether he was ordered by the Soviet chess authorities to deliberately lose to Botvinnik in 1948, to ensure that the politically correct and popular Botvinnik would win the tournament (Keres lost 4 of his 5 games to Botvinnik, winning only the last, after the tournament had been effectively decided). 

In the 10th round of the tournament, Botvinnik capitalized on an overwhelming position to force an early victory. Find the winning move. 

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