16. Learn chess with free “Scid vs PC”

Learn chess with free “Scid vs PC” (commercial “Fritz”)

Scid is a chess DB app. With it you can play chess – browse DBs  of chess games (eg *.pgn game descriptions), edit games (PGNs) and search for games in opened game list by various criteria.

We can paste PGN in Scid (Edit -> paste PGN) or “Open” icon loads file (may contain more PGNs).

Scid chess player uses its own special three-file DB format which is very compact and fast, but it can convert to and from the standard PGN (Portable Game Notation) format. SAN means Standard Algebraic movesNotation eg halfmove “1.e4” – White or “1…e5” – “…” is Black.

Note that scid can read Gzipped PGN file directly, so if you have a large PGN file compressed with Gzip to save disk space, you do not have to un-gzip it first.  (gz archive may contain oly one file e.g. mybase.pgn.gz).

PHP chess players (programming source PHP code)

For me are good only to learn PHP (on Github are 4-5, all unfinished). To learn chess free “Scid vs PC” offers much more. You  eed full time work more monts to achive simmilar functionality with PHP – why waste time ?

Only advantage is using html tags in annotations  (eg <ol> <li>… Scid formats annotations worser, Fritz worser than Scid.)

PGN example of annotated game description

{Example of <b>positional play…} is annotation

( 7…Qe7 {saves R if White plays so :} 8.Qxb7 Qb4+ { forcing Q exchange.} ) is variation “(…)” which contains annotation {…}.
We can play variations and make own variations  – it is best way to learn chess.

My Github repo contains Many PGNs :

[Event “diag. 1 G0001 Koblenz or Koblencs School chess game 1961”]
[Site “opera house in Paris, during Bellini’s opera Norma or Barber of Seville”]
[Date “1858.??.??”]
[Round “?”]
[White “Morphy“]
[Black “konsultants (alleati)”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “C41”]
[Opening “Philidor defense“]
[Annotator “pag. 4 diag 1”]
[PlyCount “33”]
[Comment “Positional play (strategy) preparation for combination.
Black – two strong amateurs: the German noble Karl II, Duke of Brunswick and the
French aristocrat Comte Isouard de Vauvenargues.”]

1. e4 e5 {Example of <b>positional play to prepare combinations</b> in
“Romantic Era” games
<ol> <li>rapid development <li>center control <li>open verticals and diagonals <li>value of sacrifices in mating combinations… </ol> }

2. Nf3 d6 {d6 is Philidor’s Defence, named after Francois-Andre Danican
Philidor, the leading chess master of the second half of the 18th century (100
years before Morphy) and a pioneer of modern chess strategy. He was also a noted
opera composer. It is a solid opening, but <b>slightly passive</b>, and it
ignores the important d4-square. Most modern players prefer 2…Nc6, and 2…Nf6
– <b>Petrov Defence</b>.}

3. d4 Bg4 {3…Bg4 is considered an inferior move today. Black to maintain
material equality, he must surrender the bishop. Capturing a knight that has
only moved once (time).
3…Bg4 was accepted theory at the time.[1] Today 3…exd4 or 3…Nf6 are usual.
Philidor’s original idea, 3…f5, is a risky alternative.}

4. dxe5 Bxf3 {If 4…dxe5, then 5.Qxd8+ Kxd8 6.Nxe5 and White wins a pawn and
Black has lost the ability to castle. This knight threatens the bishop on g4 as
well as the f7 square forking the king and rook.
Black can 4…Nd7 5.exd6 Bxd6, when he is down a pawn but has some compensation
in form of better development.
4…Bxf3 Black moves the bishop for a second time to capture a knight that has
only moved once (time). Black also gives up the bishop pair, which weakens the
light squares. }

5. Qxf3 {Steinitz’s recommendation 5.gxf3 dxe5 6.Qxd8+ Kxd8 7.f4 is also good
(doubled pawns
– pawn structure). Morphy prefers to keep the queens on. }
5…dxe5 {After Black recaptures the pawn on e5, White has a significant lead in

6. Bc4 {is move that has many great attributes: 1. develops a piece. 2.
checkmate is threatened with 7. Qxf7. 3. frees up last square for White to
castle (time, space, and king safety).}
6…Nf6 { BLUNDER After White’s next move, both f7 and b7 will be under attack.
Better is Q protect f7-p making White’s next move less potent.}

7. Qb3
( {Black’s only good move but blocks f8-B and kingside castling.}
7…Nc6 {leads to mate} 8.Bxf7+ Ke7 {or Kd7} 9.Qe6 )
( 7…Qd7 {Black loses R } 8.Qxb7 {9.Qxa8 can not be stopped}
(8. Qxb7 Qc6? 9.Bb5 {would lose Q})
( 7…Qe7 {saves R if White plays so :} 8.Qxb7 Qb4+ { forcing Q exchange.} )

8. Nc3 {(8. Qxb7 Qb4+) Morphy could have won a pawn by 8.Qxb7 Qb4+ 9.Qxb4 Bxb4+.
White can also win material with 8.Bxf7+ Qxf7 9.Qxb7, but Black has dangerous
counterplay after 9…Bc5! and 10.Qxa8 0-0, or 10.Qc8+ Ke7 11.Qxh8 Bxf2+!. “But
that would have been a butcher’s method, not an artist’s.” (Lasker).[2] In
keeping with his style, Morphy prefers rapid development and initiative over

At depth 42 on Stockfish 11 the evaluation for the top 3 moves is as follows:

1. Qxb7 (2.15)
2. Nc3 (2.10)
3. 0-0 (1.61)
c6 {The best move, allowing Black to defend his pawn without further weakening
the light squares, which have been weakened by Black trading off his
light-square bishop.}

9. Bg5 {Black is in what’s like a zugzwang position here. He can’t develop the
[Queen’s] knight because the pawn is hanging, the bishop is blocked because of
the Queen.–Fischer}
b5 {Black attempts to drive away the bishop and gain some time, but this move
allows Morphy a strong sacrifice to keep the initiative. This move loses but it
is difficult to find anything better; for example 9…Na6 10.Bxf6 gxf6 11.Bxa6
bxa6 12.Qa4 Qb7 and Black’s position is very weak.}

10. Nxb5 {Morphy chooses not to retreat the bishop, which would allow Black to
gain time for development.}
cxb5 {Black could have prolonged the game by playing 10…Qb4+, forcing the
exchange of queens, but White wins comfortably after either 11.Nc3 or 11.Qxb4
Bxb4+ 12.c3!}

11. Bxb5+ {Not 11.Bd5? Qb4+, unpinning the knight and allowing the rook to evade

12. O-O-O Rd8 {The combination of the pins on the knights and the open file for
White’s rook will lead to Black’s defeat.}

13. Rxd7 Rxd7 {Removing another defender.}

14. Rd1 {Compare the activity of the white pieces with the idleness of the black
pieces. At this point, Black’s d7-rook cannot be saved, since it is pinned to
the king by the bishop and attacked by the rook, and though the knight defends
it, the knight is pinned to the queen.}
Qe6 {Qe6 is a futile attempt to unpin the knight (allowing it to defend the
rook) and offer a queen trade, to take some pressure out of the white attack.
Even if Morphy did not play his next crushing move, he could have always traded
his bishop for the knight, followed by winning the rook.}

15. Bxd7+ Nxd7 {If 15…Qxd7, then 16.Qb8+ Ke7 17.Qxe5+ Kd8 18.Bxf6+ gxf6
19.Qxf6+ Kc8 20.Rxd7 Kxd7 21.Qxh8 and White is clearly winning. Moving the king
leads to mate: 15…Ke7 16.Qb4+ Qd6 (16…Kd8 17.Qb8+ Ke7 18.Qe8#) 17.Qxd6+ Kd8
18.Qb8+ Ke7 19.Qe8# or 15…Kd8 16.Qb8+ Ke7 17.Qe8#.}

16. Qb8+ {Morphy finishes with a queen sacrifice.}

17. Rd8# 1-0

World Chess Champions

Chess Player Directory (chessgames.com)

Text (part) and images (i001…) in this page are from page

See also “The golden treasury of chess” (till 1969) by I. AL HOROWITZ
Dedicated To H. N. Pillsbury (1872-1906)

Carlsen  i001 Current (2021) world champion is Magnus Carlsen of Norway  2013-… He defeated Viswanathan Anand in 2013.The chess games of Magnus Carlsen

Kasparov used some of openings from his DB while coaching Magnus Carlsen. In 2009. Under Kasparov’s tutelage, Carlsen became the youngest ever to achieve FIDE rating higher than 2800, and the youngest ever world number one. Carlsen 2014:
https://chess24.com/en/read/news/magnus-carlsen-on-reddit-ask-me-anything Particularly impressed by the 1994 Candidates match between Anand and Kamsky.

2014 Candidates by Anand’s win against Aronian in the first round – It’s not often that you beat the number 2 player in the world purely by technique.

His favorite chess book is Kramnik: My Life & Games. Carlsen : In order to become a Master or an International Master, I think you can start later and it’s more about putting in the time and hard work rather than talent. Anand, Kramnik, Topalov and Svidler. I prefer to give mainstream openings my own spin.

What’s your favorite non-chess book? Close race between several Donald Duck comics (seriously).

Unofficial champions (pre-1886)  – Pre-Morphy period ~350 years

Leading players before the World Chess Championships

Name Year Country Age
Ruy López de Segura 1559–1575 Spain 29–45
Leonardo di Bona c.1575 Naples 33
Paolo Boi c. 1575 Sicily 47
Alessandro Salvio c. 1600 Naples c. 30
Gioachino Greco c. 1620–1634 Naples c. 20–34
Legall de Kermeur c. 1730–1755 France c. 28–53
François-André Danican Philidor 1755–1795 France 29–69
Alexandre Deschapelles 1815–1821 France 35–41
Louis-Charles Mahé de La Bourdonnais 1821–1840 France 26–45
Howard Staunton 1843–1851 England 33–41
Adolf Anderssen 1851–1858 Prussia 33–40
Paul Morphy 1858–1862 United States 21–25
Adolf Anderssen 1862–1866 Prussia 44–48
Wilhelm Steinitz 1866–1886 Austria-Hungary 30–50
Johannes Zukertort 1878–1886 England 36–44

EDO years 1850, 1851, 1858, 1870, 1877

Player                                                                                 1850       1851      1858     1870    1877

1. Morphy, Paul 2719 2741 2801
2. Baron Tassilo von Heydebrand und der Lasa 2692 2720
3. Anderssen, Adolf 2634 2673 2635 2687 2596
4. Petrov, Alexander 2621 2627 2629
5. Staunton, Howard 2609 2607
6. Löwenthal, Johann 2630
7. Paulsen, Louis 2627 2633
8. Steinitz, Wilhelm 2725 2768
9. Neumann, Gustav 2663
10. Mackenzie, George 2636
11. Potter, William 2619
12. Zukertort, Johannes 2645
13. Blackburne, Joseph 2604

Renaissance. By 1510 the old type of chess was obsolete in most of Italy and
Spain. Analysis was the ruling motive in the literature of the period. Openings
known today as the Ruy Lopez, Giuoco Piano, Petroff defense, Philidor Defense,
Bishop’s Opening and Queen’s Gambit Accepted
, were first outlined in a late 15th
century manuscript (in the Gottingen University Library).

Ruy Lopez (from Philip
II court) first appears in 1559 when this Spanish priest visited Italy and
defeated all the Roman players.

After Greco’s death in 1634, Italy produced no
outstanding players for over a hundred years.  1669, a French translation
of his collection of games  was published in Paris.

18th century coffee-houses of London and Paris were the leading centers of
chess activity ( Cafe de la Regence in Paris and Slaughter’s Coffee House in
London).  Andre D. Philidor was musician (1775 till death in 1795 he spent
spring of each year in London and the rest of the year in Paris). He was the
first to define and explain the principles of chess strategy and tactics.

First half of the 19th century Captain W. D. Evans discovered his gambit in
1824,  William Lewis,  great Howard Staunton from 1843 best. In France
Alexander Deschapelles; Pierre de Saint-Amant (“French Defense).  Central
Europe  B. Horwitz,  Russian Petroff (Petrov), Livonian, Kieseritzky.

From a purely technical point of view games of 350 years to 19th century are
not of vital importance
but one wonders whether all gains (theory, knowledge,
systematic analysis ) compensate for  spirit of freshness, of eternal
adventure, of naivete, charm, their sociable and leisurely character.

Romantic Era of chess in the second half of the 19th century was all about
gambits, sacrifices, open lines, and active pieces. Attack at all costs! Defense
is for cowards.  Fell into decline as its failures mounted against the more
pragmatic and dogmatic teachings of Wilhelm Steinitz and Siegbert Tarrasch in
the late 19th  and early 20th.

De La Bourdonnais i002 De La Bourdonnais, the world’s strongest player from 1821 to his death in December  1840

The chess games of Louis Charles Mahe De La Bourdonnais

Something resembling (Appear like; be similar,  corresponding, matching) a world championship match was the La  Bourdonnais – McDonnell chess matches in 1834, in which La Bourdonnais played a series of six matches – and 85 games – against the Irishman Alexander McDonnell, with La Bourdonnais winning a majority of the games.The idea of a chess world champion goes back at least to 1840, when a columnist in Fraser’s Magazine wrote, “Will Gaul continue the dynasty by placing a fourth Frenchman on the throne of the world? — the three last chess chiefs having been successively Philidor, Deschapelles, and De La Bourdonnais.”

i007HowardStaunton  i007 Howard Staunton After La Bourdonnais’s death [3] Englishman Howard Staunton won vs Pierre Charles Fournier de Saint-Amant, in 1843

The chess games of Howard Staunton

A letter quoted in The Times on 16 November 1843, but probably written before that, described the second Staunton vs Saint-Amant match, played in Paris in November–December 1843, as being for “the golden sceptre of Philidor.”[1] The earliest recorded use of the term “World Champion” was in 1845, when Howard Staunton was described as “the Chess Champion of England, or
… the Champion of the World”.[5]Howard Staunton is considered to have been the strongest chess player in the world during 1840s.The first known proposal that a contest should be defined in advance as being
for recognition as the world’s best player was by Ludwig Bledow in a letter to Tassilo von der Lasa, written in 1846 and published in the Deutsche Schachzeitung in 1848: “… the winner of the battle in Paris [in 1843, when Staunton defeated St. Amant] should not be overly proud of his special position, since it is in Trier that the crown will first be awarded.” This was in reference to a proposed tournament to be held in Trier, where von de Lasa resided; but Bledow died in 1846 and the proposed tournament did not take place.[1] Similarly, the London 1851 chess tournament was described beforehand by some contemporary commentators as being for the world championship,[6] but there is no mention afterwards in the tournament book by Staunton.[7]

i003Staunton and Pierre Saint-Amanti003 Jean Henri Marlet : Howard Staunton vs Pierre Saint-Amant
, on 16 December 1843. This chess match was regarded as an
unofficial world championship.
i005Morphy_Löwenthal_1858.jpg  i005, i004 Paul Morphy playing against Hungarian chess master Johann Löwenthal 1858.

The chess games of Paul Morphy

Morphy  at twelve years of age defeated visiting Hungarian master Johann Loewenthal in a three game match.Morphy played matches against several leading players, crushing them all.[11][12]Morphy’s sudden withdrawal from chess at his peak led to his being known as
“the pride and sorrow of chess

i004Paul_Morphy_Daguerreotype.jpg  i004 Paul Morphy a chess prodigy from New Orleans Louisiana, United States.

Dominated all of his opposition during his brief chess career. Due to his astounding achievements, an official World Championship match was only held after his death.Rich child, greatest natural chess talent. 1858 defeated Anderssen and many other Europeans and retited when was 22 years old (declined to play or discuss chess).
Article in Harper’s Weekly (9 October 1858; by C.H. Stanley) was uncertain
about whether Morphy vs Harrwitz match was being for the world championship.[6] Soon after, Morphy offered pawn and move odds to anyone who played him. Finding no takers, he abruptly retired from chess the following year, but many considered him the world champion until his death in 1884.Brilliancy and accuracy of combinations, radical innovator. It was he who introduced the innovation which proved to be a death-knell (smrtno zvono) of romantic type of chess in which brilliancy was the be-all and end-all of every game. Correctness of his moves instead useless sacrifices.
Intuitive with the logical as only the great artist can.  Note how quickly
Morphy made converts.Many report that he was able to recite from memory nearly the entire Civil Code of Louisiana (3,500 articles). Fischer  and Viswanathan Anand ranked Morphy among the ten greatest chess players of all time. Fischer described him as “perhaps the most accurate player who ever lived“. Morphy learned to play chess by watching games between his father and uncle.
Morphy was a player who intuitively knew what was best, and in this regard he has been likened to Jose Capablanca. He was, like Capablanca, a child prodigy; he played quickly, would draw or even win games despite getting into bad positions. Anderssen said that, after one bad move against Morphy, one might as well resign. Garry Kasparov said that Morphy realized quarter-century before Wilhelm Steinitz had formulated principles :

  1. fast development of the pieces
  2. domain of the centre
  3. opening lines – verticales, diagonales, horizontales

Reuben Fine : “[Morphy’s] glorifiers went on to urge that he was the most
brilliant genius who had ever appeared But if we examine Morphy’s record and games critically, we cannot justify such extravaganza. He was so far ahead of his rivals that it is hard to find really outstanding examples of his skill.”

Born to a wealthy and distinguished (ugledna) family in New Orleans 1837, died on July 10. 1884 at the age of 47 by stroke brought on by entering cold water in his bathtub after a long walk in the midday heat. The Morphy mansion 417 Royal Street which backs up to Bourbon Street, sold by the family in 1891, became the site of the well-known restaurant Brennan’s.  In accord with the prevailing sentiment of the time, Morphy esteemed chess only as an amateur activity, considering the game unworthy of pursuit as a serious occupation. Chess professionals were viewed in the same light as professional gamblers.  Morphy was never able to establish a successful law practice – 1861 outbreak of the American Civil War, suffered from delusions of persecution (chasing, progon). He lived a life of idleness, living off his family’s fortune, was cared by his sister and mother.

i006Anderssen   i006  German Adolf AnderssenThe chess games of Adolf Anderssen

1851 new age :  first International Chess Tournament in London, Adolph
Anderssen of Berlin won – Another great player, almost as great as Morphy, and in the opinion of some capable judges even superior to him. Anderssen was best about ten years before Morphy’s appearance. Also brilliancy and accuracy of combinations. Anderssen died of a heart attack at the age of 60.Morphy  vs Anderssen 1858  7-2, 2 draws, after which Morphy was toasted across the chess-playing world as the world chess champion.Anderssen is seen as the world’s leading player from 1851, until he was defeated by Paul Morphy in 1858. After Morphy’s retirement from chess, Anderssen was regarded as the strongest active player, especially after winning the London 1862 chess tournament.
The 1851 London tournament was won by Adolf Anderssen, establishing
him as the world’s leading player.[8] Anderssen has been described as the
first modern chess master.[9] However, there is no evidence that he was widely acclaimed at the time as the world champion, although in 1893 Henry Bird retrospectively awarded the title to Anderssen for his victory.[10]


From 1866

The first generally recognized world championship took place in 1886, when the two leading players in the world, Wilhelm Steinitz and Johannes
, played a match, which was won by Steinitz.

From 1886 to 1946, the champion set the terms, requiring any challenger to raise a sizable stake and defeat the champion in a match in order to become the new world champion. Following the death of reigning world champion Alexander Alekhine in 1946, FIDE (the International Chess Federation) took over administration of the World Championship, organizing their first championship in a 1948 tournament.

In 1993, reigning champion Garry Kasparov broke away from FIDE,
which led to a rival claimant to the title of World Champion for the next
thirteen years. The titles were unified at the World Chess Championship
, with the unified title again administered by FIDE.

Since 2014, the schedule has settled on a two-year cycle with a  championship held in every even year.

Though the world championship is open to all players, there are separate
events and titles for the Women’s World Chess Championship, the World
Junior Chess Championship (for players under 20 years of age, though there are younger age events also), and the World Senior Chess Championship (for men above 60 years of age, and women above 50). There are also faster time limit events, the World Rapid Chess Championship and the World Blitz Chess Championship. The World Computer Chess Championship is open to computer chess programs and hardware.

Since 2013, the Candidates Tournament has been an 8-player double round robin tournament, with the winner playing a match against the champion for the title. The Norwegian Magnus Carlsen won the 2013 Candidates and then convincingly defeated Anand in the World Chess Championship 2013.[66][67]

Beginning with the 2014 Championship cycle, the World Championship has followed a 2-year cycle: qualification for the Candidates in the odd year, the Candidates tournament early in the even year, and the World   Championship match late in the even year. Each of the past three cycles has resulted in Carlsen successfully defending his title: against Anand in 2014;[68] against Sergey Karjakin in 2016;[69] and against Fabiano Caruana in 2018. His last two defences were decided by tie-break in rapid games.[70]

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the 2020 Candidates Tournament, causing the next world title match to be postponed from 2020 to 2021.[71]

i008Wilhelm_Steinitzi008  1866, Wilhelm Steinitz narrowly defeated
Anderssen in a match (8-6, 0 draws).The chess games of Wilhelm Steinitz

Age of Steinitz 10 years till 1890

Against Johannes Zukertort in 1872 (7-1, 4 draws).
Vienna 1873 chess tournament
Against Joseph Henry Blackburne by a crushing 7-0 (0 draws) in 1876.
 1886, won by Steinitz.
Mikhail Chigorin in 1889,
Isidor  Gunsberg in 1891, and Chigorin again in 1892.

Steinitz was genius accused “destroyed brilliancy in chess” – not true.

Steinitz the first master of positional chess, was a strikingly (impressing, hitting, prominent) brilliant player, not only as a mettlesome (spirited, proud and unbroken spirit) youngster, but even as a feeble (lacking in force, effectiveness, strength, vigour, strength, vitality, dynamism, energy) old man.

L1: Game No. 73 shows us how Steinitz played at the beginning of his career –
enthusiastic disciple of the attacking school. Very shortly thereafter he
experienced a thoroughgoing conversion. He became obsessed with the
deeply-rooted carelessness, flashiness (exhibitionism, immodesty, tasteless
showiness) and frequent unsoundness of attacking school oposed to
combinations of Morphy, with their :

  1. natural development
  2. logical preparation
  3. accurate execution

A pervasive interest in the defense became his life-time passion (desired
intensely); he was fascinated by the idea of refuting (prove to be false or
incorrect)  an unsound attack, of demonstrating to the opponent that one
cannot lightly toss away pawns, or worse pieces, without retribution, that
hit-or-miss and helter-skelter attacks should not be permitted to achieve their
goal. All have absorbed fundamentals of his theories,  whether they have
agreed with him or agreed to disagree also poets of the chessboard as Zukertort, Tchigorin and Blackburne – their attacking play was purified and raised to finer artistic levels by Steinitz’s probing and fruitful criticism.

In the classical period (say, from Steinitz till 1935 Nimzowitsch’s death)
most players were technicians, with Capablanca as the most famous example.

Apart from the Blackburne match, Steinitz played no  competitive chess from 1874 to 1882. During that time, Zukertort emerged as the world’s leading active player, winning the Paris 1878 chess tournament. Zukertort then won the London 1883 chess tournament by a convincing 3-point margin, ahead of nearly every leading player in the world, with Steinitz finishing second.[13][14] This tournament established Steinitz and Zukertort as the best two players in the world, and led to a match between these two, the World Chess Championship 1886,[14][15] won by Steinitz.

Official champions before FIDE (1886–1946)
The reign of Wilhelm Steinitz (1886–1894) –
Wilhelm Steinitz dominated chess from 1866 to 1894. Some commentators date his time as World Champion from 1866; others from 1886.

1889 tournament in New York to select a challenger for Steinitz, rather like the more recent  Candidates Tournaments. Chigorin and Max Weiss tied for first place; their play-off resulted in four draws; and neither wanted to play a match against Steinitz – Chigorin had just lost to him, and Weiss wanted to get back to his work for the Rothschild Bank. The third prizewinner Isidor Gunsberg was prepared to play Steinitz.

  i009Emanuel_Laskeri009 Emanuel  Lasker (1894–1921) – won the 1894 match and succeeded Steinitz as world champion.

The chess games of Emanuel Lasker

Lasker was the World Champion for 27 years consecutively from 1894 to 1921, the longest reign of a World Champion.During that period, he played 7  one-sided World Championship matches against Steinitz, Frank Marshall, Siegbert Tarrasch and Dawid Janowski, and was only seriously threatened in a tied 1910 match against Carl Schlechter..Two young strong players emerged in late 1880s and early 1890s: Siegbert
Tarrasch and Emanuel Lasker
.[28] Tarrasch had the better tournament results at the time, but it was Lasker who was able to raise the money to challenge Steinitz.[28]

Modern Chess 15 years 1890 till 1905

Era of what is called, occasionally in rather a disdainful (insulting) tone,
“modern chess” –  great Lasker and Tarrasch, Schlechter and Maroczy, of the attacking geniuses Pillsbury (lived 34 years, seem to be adequately appreciated 1956 first ed.) and Marshall and Janowski. Positional chess begins to be pre-eminent; before the opponent can be finished off with a brilliant combination.

It is generally necessary to outplay him positionally, in order to create
favorable conditions for sacrificial play. That is why Emanuel Lasker once wrote: “If you play well positionally, the combinations will come of

Lasker: endgame mastery, the first chess psychologist, greatest defensive (save lost positions) player ever, World Champion 27 years. Lasker calculated extremely deeply, seeing things that others would never find resulting in great
combinations, just like all the other great tacticians. Chaotic tactical tidal
waves (like Tal did), which drowned one opponent – defensive setups that even modern computers are incapable of seeing.

Lasker was the first champion after Steinitz; although he did not defend his title in 1897–1906 or 1911–1920, he did string together an impressive run of tournament victories and dominated his opponents. His success was largely due to the fact that he was an excellent practical player. In difficult or objectively lost positions he would complicate matters and use his extraordinary tactical abilities to save the game.

Lasker’s negotiations for title matches from 1911 onwards were extremely controversial. In 1911 he received a challenge for a world title match against José Raúl Capablanca and, in addition to making severe financial demands, proposed some novel conditions: the match should be considered drawn if neither player finished with a two-game lead; and it should have a maximum of 30 games, but finish if either player won six games and had a two-game lead (previous matches had been won by the first to win a certain number of games, usually 10; in theory such a match might go on for ever). Capablanca objected to the two-game lead clause; Lasker took offence at the terms in which Capablanca  criticized the two-game lead condition and broke off negotiations.[29]

Further controversy arose when, in 1912, Lasker’s terms for a proposed match with Akiba Rubinstein included a clause that, if Lasker should resign the title after a date had been set for the match, Rubinstein should become world champion (American Chess Bulletin, October 1913).[30]

  i010José_Raúl_Capablanca_1931The chess games of Jose Raul Capablanca

Capablanca, Alekhine and Euwe (1921–1946)

i010 José Raúl Capablanca World Champion 1921 to 1927.

Moderns, Hypermoderns and Eclectics 37 years 1905 till 1942

Rubinstein, Nimzovich, Bernstein, Capablanca, Duras, Tartakower, Spielmann, Vidmar… They  applied in their games what they had learned from the reigning gods of the chessboard, but they also rebelled, as is the way of youth, and made their own additions and corrections.  Nimzovich and his young countryman Alekhine were evolving a new school of chess thought, whose effect, if not always its objective, was to turn the current chess theories upside down.
During and after the World War I, these players were joined by such masters as Reti, Bogolyubov and Breyer,  still younger players, such as Euwe,
Flohr, Kashdan, Fine, Reshevsky, Botvinnik and Keres. It is an age where
“anything goes”, older masters were rarely capable of such elasticity and

Steinitz: the first master of positional chess. Alekhine: dynamic,
combinative genius. Capablanca: endgame mastery and positional elegance. Tal:  attack and tactics.

Alexander Alekhine
(later baturalized French), Kasparov’s main early
,  took the world title from Cuba’s Capablanca in a  legendary
World Championship match held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1927 – 34 games, the longest until Garry’s first match with Karpov lasted a record 48.  31 game was mostly quin’s gambit, most draw, both Alekhine and Capablanca said “no advance in chech“.

He proposed the short-lived “London Rules” for future World
Championship matches.

1914 Saint Petersburg tournament – champion must be prepared to defend his title once a year; the match should be won by whichever player first won six or eight games (the champion had the right to choose); and the stake should be at least £1,000 (about £100,000 in current terms).[29]

When Lasker resumed negotiations with Capablanca after World War I, Lasker insisted on a similar clause that if Lasker should resign the title after a date had been set for the match, Capablanca should become world champion.[29] On 27 June 1920 Lasker abdicated in favor of Capablanca because of public criticisms of the terms for the match, naming Capablanca as his successor (American Chess Bulletin, July August 1920). Nonetheless Lasker agreed to play a match against Capablanca in 1921, announcing that, if he won, he would resign the title so that younger masters could compete for it. Capablanca won their 1921 match easily.[20]

Following the controversies surrounding his 1921 match against Lasker, in 1922 world champion Capablanca proposed “London Rules“: the first player to win six games would win the match; playing sessions would be limited to 5 hours; the time limit would be 40 moves in 2½ hours; the champion must defend his title within one year of receiving a challenge from a recognized master; the champion would decide the date of the match; the champion was not obliged to accept a challenge for a purse of less than US$10,000 (about $140,000 in current terms); 20% of the purse was to be paid to the title holder, and the remainder being
divided, 60% going to the winner of the match, and 40% to the loser; the highest purse bid must be accepted. Alekhine, Bogoljubov, Maróczy, Réti, Rubinstein, Tartakower and Vidmar promptly signed them.[31]

i011Alexandre_Alekhine   i011 Alexander Alekhine
– played dynamic and imaginative chess, was World Champion
from 1927 to 1935 and again from 1937 to his death in 1946.

The chess games of Alexander Alekhine

He is the only World Champion to die while holding the title.Alekhine easily won two title matches against Efim Bogoljubov in 1929 and 1934.Alekhine agreed to place future matches for the world title under the auspices of FIDE, except that he would only play Capablanca under the same conditions that governed their match in 1927 – “London Rules”.[32] . Negotiations dragged on for several years, often breaking down when agreement seemed in sight.[20].The only match played under those rules was Capablanca vs Alekhine in 1927.[32] Alekhine, Rubinstein and Nimzowitsch had all challenged Capablanca in the early 1920s but only Alekhine could raise the US$10,000 Capablanca demanded and only in 1927.[33]Capablanca was shockingly upset by the new challenger. Before the match, almost nobody gave Alekhine a chance against the dominant Cuban, but Alekhine overcame Capablanca’s natural
skill with his unmatched drive and extensive preparation (especially deep opening analysis, which became a hallmark of most future grandmasters)
. The aggressive Alekhine was helped by his tactical skill, which complicated the game.Although FIDE wished to set up a match between Alekhine and Bogoljubow, it made little progress and the title “Champion of FIDE” quietly vanished after Alekhine won the 1929 world championship match that he and Bogoljubow themselves arranged.[43]

i012Max_Euwe_1963i012 Dutch Max Euwe, an amateur player who worked as a mathematics teacher. In 1935 Alekhine was  unexpectedly
defeated by Euwe.Alekhine convincingly won a rematch in 1937. World War II temporarily prevented any further world title matches, and
Alekhine remained world champion until his death in 1946.
AVRO tournament in 1938 was won by Paul Keres under a tie-breaking rule, with Reuben Fine placed second and Capablanca and Flohr in the bottom places; and the outbreak of World War II in 1939 cut short the controversy.[44][45]


Before 1948 world championship matches were financed by  arrangements similar to those Emanuel Lasker described for his 1894 match with Wilhelm Steinitz: either the challenger or both players, with the assistance of financial backers, would contribute to a purse; about half would be distributed to the winner’s backers, and the winner would receive the larger share of the remainder (the loser’s backers got nothing). The players had to meet their own travel, accommodation,
food and other expenses
out of their shares of the purse.[34] This system evolved out of the wagering of small stakes on club games in the early 19th century.[35]

Up to and including the 1894 Steinitz–Lasker match, both players, with their backers, generally contributed equally to the purse, following the custom of important matches in the 19th century before there was a generally recognized world champion. In the early 1920s, Alekhine,
Rubinstein and Nimzowitsch all challenged Capablanca, but only Alekhine was able to raise the US$10,000 that Capablanca demanded, and not until 1927.[33][39]

FIDE title (1948–1993)
FIDE, Euwe and AVRO

Birth of FIDE’s World Championship cycle (1946–1948)

Before 1946 a new World Champion had won the title by defeating the former champion in a match. Alexander Alekhine’s death in 1946 created an interregnum that made the normal procedure impossible. The situation was very confused.

i013Botvinnik_1936  i013 Mikhail Botvinnik was the first World Champion under FIDE jurisdiction – won 1948 (to 1963) Championship Tournament – Two of the participants at AVRO – Alekhine and former world champion José Raúl Capablanca – had died;
Max Euwe, from the Netherlands; Botvinnik, Paul Keres and Salo Flohr from the Soviet Union; and Reuben Fine and Samuel Reshevsky from the United States. However, FIDE soon accepted a Soviet request to substitute Vasily Smyslov for Flohr, and Fine dropped out in order to continue his degree studies in psychology, so only five players competed. Botvinnik won convincingly and thus became world champion, ending the interregnum.[46]The chess games of Mikhail Botvinnik

Period of Russian Hegemony and Fischer 27 years 1942 till 1972

Russian government, acting as sponsors – Botvinnik, Smyslov, Bronstein,
Keres, Geller, Tal… – peak of technical perfection, great emphasis on
. Hordes of analysts finecomb existing ideas extensively and
occasionally produce interesting innovations.

Ukrainian-Soviet Grandmaster David Bronstein (200 Open Games) came as close as one can get to becoming world champion without achieving the highest title. He drew a world championship match against the mighty Mikhail Botvinnik  in 1951, but the champion retained the title with a draw. Bronstein would remain one of the strongest and most creative players in the world for many years.

Drawn 12–12 – Botvinnik-Bronstein in 1951 and Botvinnik-Smyslov in 1954 – so Botvinnik retained the title both times.

The eventual solution was very similar to FIDE’s initial proposal and to a
proposal put forward by the Soviet Union (authored by Mikhail Botvinnik). The 1938 AVRO tournament was used as the basis for the 1948 Championship Tournament.
The AVRO tournament had brought together the eight players who were, by general acclamation, the best players in the world at the time.

FIDE system (1949–1963)

Botvinnik lost to Vasily Smyslov in 1957 but won the return match in
1958, and lost to Mikhail Tal in 1960 but won the return match in 1961.

Thus Smyslov and Tal each held the world title for a year, but Botvinnik was world champion for rest of the time from 1948 to 1963.

The return match clause was not in place for the 1963 cycle. Tigran Petrosian won the 1962 Candidates and then defeated Botvinnik in 1963 to become world champion.

i014Smyslov i014 The chess games of Vasily Smyslov

Vasily Smyslov, World Champion 1957-1958.

i015Mikhail_Tal_1962  i015 Mikhail Tal, World Champion 1960-1961.

The chess games of Mikhail Tal

i016igran_Petrosian_1962  i016 Tigran Petrosian, World Champion 1963-1969.

The chess games of Tigran V Petrosian

i017Bobby_Fischer_1972  i017 Bobby Fischer in Amsterdam meeting FIDE officials in 1972. His reign as World Champion ended, for a short time, 24 years of Soviet domination of the World Championship. After becoming World Champion, Fischer did not play competitive chess for 20 years.

The chess games of Robert James Fischer

Fischer won the 1992 Fischer–Spassky rematch decisively with a score of
10–5 (Yugo dollars). After the 1962 Candidates, Bobby Fischer publicly alleged that the Soviets had colluded to prevent any non-Soviet – specifically him – from winning. He claimed that Petrosian, Efim Geller and Paul Keres had prearranged to draw all their games, and that Korchnoi had been instructed to lose to them. Yuri Averbakh, who
was head of the Soviet team, confirmed in 2002 that Petrosian, Geller and Keres arranged to draw
all their games in order to save their energy for games against non-Soviet players.[50] Korchnoi, who defected from the USSR in 1976, has never alleged he was forced to throw games. FIDE responded by changing the format of future Candidates Tournaments to eliminate the possibility of  collusion.

i018Boris_Spasski  i018 Boris Spassky lost the title match to Petrosian in 1966, but won and became world champion in 1969.[52][53]
i019KarpovThe chess games of Anatoly Karpov

Karpov and Kasparov (1975–1993)

i019 Anatoly Karpov became World Champion after Fischer refused to
defend his title. He was world champion from 1975 to 1985, and FIDE World
Champion from 1993 to 1999 when the world title was split.

Last 50 years ~1970 – 2020

English Grandmaster Mickey Adams has been England’s top player for two decades, he never reached a World Championship match like his countryman Nigel Short, who faced Garry in 1993.

Grandmaster Yasser Seirawan is a four-time US champion who became one of America’s top international players in the post-Fischer era.

Karpov, and especially the 9th World Champion, Tigran Petrosian,
were brilliant at playing quietly until their opponents slipped up. – said
Garry Kasparov. Garry once called Ukraine’s Vassily Ivanchuk
the player who has most surprised me over the board.

Karpov defended his title twice against ex-Soviet Viktor Korchnoi, first in
Baguio, the Philippines, in 1978 (6–5 with 21 draws) then in Merano in 1981 (6–2, with 10 draws).

An unbroken line of FIDE champions had thus been established from 1948 to 1972, with each champion gaining his title by beating the previous incumbent.
This came to an end when Anatoly Karpov won the right to challenge Fischer in 1975.

Karpov eventually lost his title to Garry Kasparov, whose aggressive tactical style was in sharp contrast to Karpov’s positional style. The two of them fought five incredibly close world  champ matches, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1990. In the five matches Kasparov and Karpov played 144 games with 104 draws, 21 wins by Kasparov and 19 wins by

i020Garri_Kasparov   13. i020 Garry Kasparov defeated Karpov 1985.

The chess games of Garry Kasparov

He was undisputed World Champion from 1985 to 1993, and held the split title until 2000. Garry is by many as the greatest chess player of all time,  youngest World Chess Champion in history in 1985 at the age of 22 by beating Anatoly Karpov. Winning remarkable 16th game gave Garry a big lead in his 1986 World Championship title defense against Karpov. He’d won four games against only one loss. Incredibly, Garry then lost the next three games in a row and the match was tied with five games remaining. Garry retook the lead by winning game 22 and the final two games were drawn.Garry lost the 2000 World Championship match in London to Russia’s Vladimir Kramnik with a score of 6.5-8.5, with two losses and thirteen draws, no wins – 2nd time in chess history.  Garry retired from professional chess in 2005. Garry won
Linares a record 9 times, including his last official event before retiring in 2005.In February 1996, he defeated IBM’s chess computer Deep Blue
with three wins and two draws and one loss. 1997 Deep Blue
defeated Kasparov 3½-2½ in a highly publicised six-game match. The match was even after five games but Kasparov lost Game 6 – Deep Blue vs
Kasparov, 1997
– to lose the match. This was the first time a computer had
ever defeated a world champion in match play.Kramnik – Deep Fritz (for million dolars Bahrein, Oct. 2002) was 3 : 1 but ended 4 :4. Kramnik – Deep Fritz (fond half million dolars) Bonn 2006, 2 : 4.Since his retirement 2005, Kasparov has concentrated much of his time and energy in Russian politics. He is also a prolific author, most famously his My
Great Predecessors

i021Vladimir_Kramnik_2018   i021 i021Vladimir_Kramnik_2018 (2006–2007 world champ) is of rare players rating over 2800 (first was

The chess games of Vladimir Kramnik

Vladimir Kramnik defeated Garry Kasparov in 2000, and then after much controversy became the undisputed world champion by beating Topalov in World Chess Championship 2006 reunification match, late 2006. This match, and all subsequent championships, have been administered by FIDE.

i022Viswanathan_Anand_(2016)   i022 Viswanathan_Anand_(2016) (2007–2013) 

The chess games of Viswanathan Anand

Viswanathan Anand, famed for his ultra-rapid play, Indian, held the FIDE title from 2000 to 2002, and the unified title from 2007 to 2013.Kramnik played to defend his title at the World Chess Championship 2007 in Mexico. This was an 8-player double round robin tournament, the same format as was used for the FIDE World Chess Championship 2005. This tournament was won by Viswanathan Anand, thus making him the World Chess Champion. Because Anand’s World Chess Champion title was won in a tournament rather than a match, a minority of commentators questioned the validity of his title.[61] Kramnik also
made ambiguous comments about the value of Anand’s title, but did not claim the
title himself.[62] Subsequent world championship matches returned to the format
of a match between the champion and a challenger.The following two championships had special clauses arising from the 2006
unification. Kramnik was given the right to challenge for the title he lost in a
tournament in the World Chess Championship 2008, which Anand won. Then Topalov,
who as the loser of the 2006 match was excluded from the 2007 championship, was
seeded directly into the Candidates final of the World Chess Championship 2010.
He won the Candidates (against Gata Kamsky). Anand again won the championship
match.[63][64]The next championship, the World Chess Championship 2012, had short knock-out
matches for the Candidates Tournament. This format was not popular with
everyone, and world No. 1 Magnus Carlsen withdrew in protest. Boris Gelfand won
the Candidates. Anand won the championship match again, in tie breaking rapid
games, for his fourth consecutive world championship win.[65]

i031Alexander_Khalifmani031 i031Alexander_Khalifman

Split title (1993–2005)

Alexander Khalifman, FIDE World Champion 1999-2000.
Ruslan Ponomariov, FIDE World Champion 2002-2004.
Rustam Kasimdzhanov, FIDE World Champion 2004-2005.
Veselin Topalov, FIDE World Champion 2005-2006.
Reunified title (2006)

1993, Nigel Short broke the domination of Kasparov and Karpov by defeating
in the candidates semi-finals followed by Jan Timman in the finals,
thereby earning the right to challenge Kasparov for the title.

However, before
the match took place, both Kasparov and Short complained of corruption and a
lack of professionalism within FIDE
in organizing the match, and
split from FIDE to set up
the Professional Chess Association PCA, under whose auspices they
held their match. In response, FIDE stripped Kasparov of his title and held a
championship match between Karpov and Timman. Kasparov defeated Short while
Karpov beat Timman, and for the first time in history there were two World Chess

FIDE and the PCA each held a championship cycle in 1993–1996, with many of the
same challengers playing in both. Kasparov and Karpov both won their respective
cycles. In the PCA cycle, Kasparov defeated Viswanathan Anand in the PCA World
Chess Championship 1995. Karpov defeated Gata Kamsky in the final of the FIDE
World Chess Championship 1996. Negotiations were held for a reunification match
between Kasparov and Karpov in 1996–97,[59] but nothing came of them.[60]

Soon after the 1995 championship, the PCA folded, and Kasparov had no
organisation to choose his next challenger. In 1998 he formed the World Chess
Council, which organised a candidates match between Alexei Shirov and Vladimir
Kramnik. Shirov won the match, but negotiations for a Kasparov–Shirov match
broke down, and Shirov was subsequently omitted from negotiations, much to his
disgust. Plans for a 1999 or 2000 Kasparov–Anand match also broke down, and
Kasparov organised a match with Kramnik in late 2000. In a major upset, Kramnik
won the match with two wins, thirteen draws, and no losses. At the time the
championship was called the Braingames World Chess Championship, but Kramnik
later referred to himself as the Classical World Chess Champion.

Meanwhile, FIDE had decided to scrap the Interzonal and Candidates system,
instead having a large knockout event in which a large number of players
contested short matches against each other over just a few weeks (see FIDE World
Chess Championship 1998). Rapid and blitz games were used to resolve ties at the
end of each round, a format which some felt did not necessarily recognize the
highest quality play: Kasparov refused to participate in these events, as did
Kramnik after he won the Classical title in 2000. In the first of these events
in 1998, champion Karpov was seeded straight into the final, but subsequently
the champion had to qualify like other players. Karpov defended his title in the
first of these championships in 1998, but resigned his title in protest at the
new rules in 1999. Alexander Khalifman won the FIDE World Championship in 1999,
Anand in 2000, Ruslan Ponomariov in 2002, and Rustam Kasimdzhanov in 2004.

By 2002, not only were there two rival champions, but Kasparov’s strong results
– he had the top Elo rating in the world and had won a string of major
tournaments after losing his title in 2000 – ensured even more confusion over
who was World Champion. In May 2002, American grandmaster Yasser Seirawan led
the organisation of the so-called “Prague Agreement” to reunite the world
championship. Kramnik had organised a candidates tournament (won later in 2002
by Peter Leko) to choose his challenger. It was decided that Kasparov play the
FIDE champion (Ponomariov) for the FIDE title, and the winner of this match play
the winner of the Kramnik–Leko match for a unified title. However, the matches
proved difficult to finance and organise. The Kramnik–Leko match did not take
place until late 2004 (it was drawn, so Kramnik retained his title). Meanwhile,
FIDE never managed to organise a Kasparov match, either with 2002 FIDE champion
Ponomariov, or 2004 FIDE champion Kasimdzhanov. Partly due to his frustration at
the situation, Kasparov retired from chess in 2005, still ranked No. 1 in the

Soon after, FIDE dropped the short knockout format for a World Championship and
announced the FIDE World Chess Championship 2005, a double round robin
tournament to be held in San Luis, Argentina between eight of the leading
players in the world. However Kramnik insisted that his title be decided in a
match, and declined to participate. The tournament was convincingly won by the
Bulgarian Veselin Topalov, and negotiations began for a Kramnik–Topalov match to
unify the title.

i032RPonomariovi032 i032 Ponomariov
i033Kasimdhzanov_Torino_2006i033 i033 Kasimdhzanov_Torino_2006
i034Veselin_Topalov_2013i034 i034

Memory and Chess


Emanuel Lasker stated that anyone this side of an imbecile could become a

In 1894, Alfred Binet conducted one of the first psychological studies
into chess. He found that only chess masters were able to play chess
successfully without seeing the board. In 1927, Soviet psychologists conducted
extensive tests on top chess masters and came to the conclusion that their
powers of memory were only greater than that of the layman as far as chess was
concerned; in other areas of memory, there was no discernible superiority of a
chess master and a layman. In the 1940s, Edward Lasker wrote on an organized
study that was made of a dozen leading chess masters by a group of
psychologists. It was found that a chess master’s memory was only exceptional
where positions on the chessboard were concerned.  In 1965, Adrian de Groot
(1914-2006) published his book “Thought and Choice in Chess”. He found that
visual memory and visual perception were important attributes and that
problem-solving ability was of paramount importance. Memory was particularly

In 1973, William Chase (1940-1983) and Herbert Simon (1916-2001) showed
superior memory for chess positions by chess experts through “chunking”. A chunk
is a pattern or a collection of elements that are strongly associated with one
another, but are weakly associated with elements in other chunks. Chunking the
numbers becomes 1492 10000 64 or when Columbus sailed to America,  zip code
of Zagreb and the number of squares on a chessboard. For chess, a chunk might be
a king-side castling position Kg1, Rf1, Pf2, Pg2, Ph2, Nf3 6 chessmen on 6 out
of 64 squares. Another example is the opening position out of a Ruy Lopez or
Sicilian, Najdorf.

If you had a random position of a bunch of chessmen, a chess player would not
have any more advantage than a non-chess player in recreating the position.

You store chunks in long-term memory (LTM), but you process them through
short-term memory (STM). Adults are able to store 3-7 chunks in short-term or
working memory at any one time in about one minute. If all you can store is 3
chunks, then to visualize the entire chess board and hold it in working memory,
you need to see the entire position in only 3 chunks at most. Therefore, chunks
need to be quite large. You may be able to work with three chunks at any one
time and process information rapidly between your short term memory and your
long term memory in order to visualize the entire board.

In 1987-88, all students in a rural Pennsylvania 6th grade class were
required to participate in chess lessons. None of the pupils had previously
played chess. After a year, the pupils significantly improved in both memory and
verbal reasoning. The program was called ‘Development of Reasoning and Memory
through Chess.’

In 2001, researchers wrote in Nature magazine that a chess grandmaster
studies and practices for at least 10 years to learn more than 100,000 chess
patterns (memory chunks). Consequently, GMs can ‘recognize’ they key elements in
a problem situation much more rapidly than amateurs.

Alekhine had a photographic memory (also known as eidetic memory) as a boy.
In 1925, Alexander Alekhine was given a few standard memory tests. They revealed
that if a test had nothing to do with chess, such as memorizing words, shapes,
or objects, he did no better than an average person. On the other hand, when a
test involved memory of a chess position placed on a board in front of him, he
performed exceptionally well. Several articles have been written on Alekhine
stating that he was able to remember all the master chess games during the last
25-30 years.

Vishy Anand’s mother says that he has always had a photographic memory. He
said the first skill needed is to develop memory hooks. Thanks to all these
hooks, it is easy to remember these games years later  :

  1. You learn a few mates and a few tricks
  2. Then you slowly progress, seeing the games of the great players, classic
    examples that every chess player must know. The  great player explains his
    game, and the key moments
  3. A lot of games are accompanied with diagrams of key positions where
    something interesting happened

Blackburne had a good memory and could memorize large lists of information
and recalled a large number of chess games played by masters. When author
Anderson Graham was looking over some of Blackburne’s chess games with him in
the late 1890s, he was astounded to find that Blackburne could recall chess
games he had not seen for 30 or more years.

Capablanca said he had a photographic memory as a child. He could read seven
pages of history and recite them verbatim. As he got older, Capablanca said he
could hardly remember any of his games he played in the past, but had met
experts who remembered every one of his serious games in the last 22 years.

Magnus Carlsen, in an interview on 60 Minutes, said that he has memorized
10,000 chess games. When he was 2 year old, he was able to recite all the major
car brands of Norway. At age 5, he memorized all the world’s countries, their
flags, and their capitals. He was asked if he had a great memory with other
things other than chess. Carlsen responded, “No, I forget all kinds of stuff. I
mean, I’m pretty good at remembering names, but I can never remember faces. I
regularly lose my credit cards, my mobile phone, keys and so on.”

Bobby Fischer’s memory for chess was pretty good. At the conclusion of the
unofficial Blitz Championship of the World at Hercegnovi, Yugoslavia, in 1970,
Fischer rattled off the scores of all his twenty-two games, involving more than
1,000 moves, from memory. And just prior to his historic match with Taimanov, in
Vancouver, British Columbia, Fischer met the Russian player Vasiukov and showed
him a speed game that the two had played in Moscow fifteen years before. Fischer
recalled the game move by move. Gudmundur Thorarinsson, the organizer of the
1972 world championship match between Fischer and Spassky, recounts a story of
Bobby phoning Icelandic grandmaster Fridrik Olafsson to ask for some technical
advice ahead of the match in 1972. The phone was answered by the Olafsson’s
10-year-old daughter who spouted several sentences of Icelandic that baffled
Fischer. The next day Fischer, who spoke no Icelandic, repeated those sentences
exactly to Thorarinsson, every phrase, every inflection accurate, so that
Thorarinsson could understand precisely what the young girl had said.
Thorarinsson called it a “phonetic memory.”

Garry Kasparov says that he was able to remember all the master games he has
played. In 1987-88, the German magazine Der Spiegel went to considerable effort
and expense to find out Kasparov’s IQ and test his memory. Under the supervision
of an international team of psychologists, Kasparov was given a large battery of
tests designed to measure his memory, spatial ability, and abstract reasoning.
They measured his IQ as 135 and his memory as one of the very best. Kasparov was
asked if he had to re-evaluate the positions on each board every time he had
returned to make a move in a simul, or if he remembered the positions all the
time. Kasparov replied that he in fact remembered all the positions. He also
said he could recall the moves of all the games he had played in the past 6

George Koltanowski had a powerful memory that allowed him to play a large
number of blindfold games simultaneously. He claimed he had a “phonographic
memory” (a keen memory for sequences) that allowed him to do a blindfold
knight’s tour. In the early 1980s, George Koltanowski conducted a blindfold
knight’s tour at the Dayton Chess Club, where I (ChessManiac) was President. A
month later, I wrote a letter to George, and, in fun, asked him what was on c4.
When he got the letter, he phoned me up and was able to recall what was on all
the chess squares (c4 was my name). One time at his apartment, I asked George
Koltanowski’s wife, Leah, if George had a good memory about anything else. She
replied, “George can go to the supermarket and forget his loaf of bread.”

Boris Kostic had a good memory and could recall a large number of master
Irina Krush says she knows people that remember hundreds of games,
but she says she does not have that talent. She says that she remembers her
games from a tournament, but will forget them in a few days. She only remembers
a general shape, a pattern of every game, but not the details.

Emanuel Lasker wrote this about memory. “Chess must not be memorized, simply
because it is not important enough. If you load your memory, you should know
why. Memory is too valuable to be stocked with trifles. Of my fifty-seven years
I have applied at least thirty to forgetting what I had learned or read, and
since I succeeded in this I have acquired a certain ease and cheer which I
should never again like to be without. If need be, I can increase my skill in
Chess, if need be I can do that of which I have no idea at present. I have
stored little in my memory, but I can apply that little, and it is of good use
in many and varied emergencies. I keep it in order, but resist every attempt to
increase its dead weight.”

Frank Marshall had a good memory. In January 1922, Frank Marshall played 155
opponents on Montreal. He won 126, lost 8, and drew 21 (88%) after 7 hours of
play. A week later, he was able to replay 153 of 155 games from memory. What
bothered him was forgetting the other two games. He thought he was losing his

Many articles about Paul Morphy report that he was able to recite from memory
nearly the entire Civil Code of Louisiana (3,500 articles).

Armenian International Master Ashot Nadanian once mentioned that he can
easily recall chess games some 20 years ago, but cannot remember his mobile
phone number

Miguel Najdorf possessed a strong chess memory. He was able to play a large
number of blindfold simultaneous games.

When Philidor played two blindfold games at once in 1783, it was written up
as one of the greatest memory skills ever displayed. A newspaper wrote, “This
brief article is the record of more than sport and fashion: it is a phenomenon
in the history of man so should be hoarded among the best samples of human
memory, till memory shall be no more.

Harry Nelson Pillsbury had a good memory, being able to play
15 games of chess and 15 games of checkers at the same time, blindfolded, while
also playing cards and memorizing a list of complicated words. His obituary in
the New York Times stated that he died from an “illness contracted through
overexertion (overeffort) of his memory cells.” He actually died of syphilis.

Grandmaster Lev Psakhis was able to remember every one of Bobby Fischer’s
games by heart. In 1973, Grandmaster Salo Flohr brought some Chess Informants
with him during a simultaneous exhibition in Krasnoyarsk, USSR. 14-year-old
Psakhis astounded Flohr by telling him in each diagram who the players were.
Psakhis had memorized every diagram in the book. Psakhis was asked if he was a
prodigy (gifted or intelligent (young) person, sign of something about to
happen, example of a particular quality). Psakhis replied, “No, I just have a
good memory,”

Richard Reti had a strong chess memory, but in other areas, his memory wasn’t
so good. In 1925 Reti played 29 opponents blindfold simultaneously in Sao Paulo
and was able to recall all the games. After the exhibition, he was going home
and forgot his suitcase. When somebody reminded him about it, Reti said, “Thank
you very much. My memory is so bad…”

Akiba Rubinstein was said to know every chess game he played by heart, though
unsubstantiated (Unsupported by other evidence).

Bernard Zukerman has a very good chess memory, which made him one of the
outstanding openings expert.