Shelby Lyman on Chess: It Was Time for Chess

Sunday, January 31, 2016
Hint and Explanation: Simplify

In general, art, music, sports, or literature reflect the culture that spawns them. Looking back, we can see this was no less true of chess as the 19th century came to an end.

Russian chess, as exemplified in the games of Mikhail Chigorin, who notably rejected dogma and celebrated bold experimentation, reflected the spirit of the times.

It is easy to understand why writers such as Leo Tolstoy and Alexander Pushkin, who fervently embraced new possibilities, were intrigued, if not consumed, by the chess dynamic as expressed in the interplay of the White and Black pieces on an iconic 64-square board. Or that disciplined revolutionaries such as Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky, who depended on precise decision-making and flexibility, were often passionately attracted to the game.

Amidst the political chaos, physical survival itself often was at stake.

The years after the Russian Revolution saw a massive investment in chess. The cognitive skills and steely character that the game could foster were seen as much desired assets for creating the “new Soviet man and woman.”

Nikolai Krylenko, a chess player of considerable ability and a revolutionary comrade-in-arms of Trotsky and Lenin who was later purged by Joseph Stalin, played a leading role in launching the decades-long effort that followed.

It is likely that Lenin, a fervent and skillful player, himself, gave full-hearted if not decisive support from behind the scenes.

Below is a win by Sanan Sjugirov against Denis Khismatullin from the Ugra Governor’s Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.

Khismatullin Sjugirov

1. Nf3 c5

2. e4 d6

3. d4 cxd4

4. Nxd4 Nf6

5. Nc3 a6

6. h3 e5

7. Nb3 Be6

8. Be3 Be7

9. Qf3 O-O

10. g4 a5

11. O-O-O a4

12. Nc5 a3

13. Nxe6 axb2ch

14. Kxb2 fxe6

15. Bc4 Qc8

16. Qe2 b5

17. Bb3 d5

18. Nxb5 Nxe4

19. Rxd5 Nc3

20. Nxc3 Ba3ch

21. Kb1 Qxc3

22. Bc1 exd5

23. Bxd5ch Kh8

24. Bxa8 Nc6

25. Bxc6 Qxc6

26. Bxa3 Qxh1ch

27. Kb2 Rb8ch

28. Kc3 Qa1ch

29. Kd2 Rd8ch

White resigns

Solution to Beginner’s C orner: 1. Bxg7ch! If ... Rxg7 2. Qh8ch Rg8 3. Qxg8 mate!

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