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Modern Tournament Play
London was the site of the first modern international chess tournament in 1851. In officially sanctioned modern chess tournaments, players accumulate points won at various levels and can advance toward the top designation of grandmaster. Tournament play uses clocks to limit the time permitted for moves, and the concentration and fatigue of a match require players to be in good physical condition.
Outstanding players of their day who were considered world champions were: François Philidor of France, 1747–95; Alexandre Deschappelles of France, 1815–21; Louis de la Bourdonnais of France, 1821–40; and Howard Staunton of England, 1843–51. Official world champions have included: Adolf Anderssen of Germany, 1851–58 and 1862–66; Paul C. Morphy of the United States, 1858–62; Wilhelm Steinitz of Austria, 1866–94; Emanuel Lasker of Germany, 1894–1921; José R. Capablanca of Cuba, 1921–27; Alexander A. Alekhine of France, 1927–35 and 1937–46; and Mikhail M. Botvinnik of the USSR, 1948–57, 1958–60, and 1961–63. Players from the USSR and Russia have dominated international play since the late 1940s.
The 1972 World Chess Championship, held in Reykjavík, Iceland, between the American Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky, received unprecedented worldwide coverage and boosted the game's popularity. The enigmatic Fischer broke the Soviet stranglehold on the world title in a match reflective of cold war tension. Fischer, however, forfeited the title in 1974, the first player ever to do so, by refusing to play a championship match.
Chess's popularity was enhanced in the 1980s by championship duels between Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov. In 1993, Kasparov, who had held the world title since 1985, broke with the International Chess Federation (FIDE), which reinstated Karpov as champion after a playoff. Kasparov, still regarded the best player in the world, lost a match in 1997 to the IBM computer Deep Blue (see artificial intelligence for a more detailed discussion of the development of computer chess programs), which was then “retired.” In 1998, Karpov retained his championship by defeating Viswanathan Anand of India, but relations with FIDE were further strained when Karpov refused to participate in a 1999 tournament, which was won by the relatively unknown Russian Aleksandr Khalifman. Despite Khalifman's claims on the FIDE championship, by 2000 it was widely recognized that Kasparov was the world's number-one player and that his onetime protégé, the 25-year-old Russian Vladimir Kramnik, was ranked second. In a 2000 match Kramnik defeated Kasparov in a 16-game match and became the world's top chess master. In 2006, in a world championship reunification match, Kramnik defeated Veselin Topalov, whom FIDE recognized as world champion in 2005, ending the 13-year dispute over the title. In 2007, however, Anand won the title in tournament play.
A good book for beginners is Capablanca's A Primer of Chess (1935, repr. 1963). See H. J. R. Murray, A History of Chess (1913, repr. 1962); F. Reinfeld, Complete Book of Chess Stratagems (1958, repr. 1972); D. Hooper and K. Whyld, The Oxford Companion to Chess (1984); R. Eales, Chess (1985).
a game for two played with special men on a board with 64 squares. Chess simulates the actions of combatants contending in accordance with strict rules. Combining the features of an art, a science, and a sport, the game helps develop logic, concentration, and the ability to calculate possible sequences of moves quickly and accurately. It instills in the players a will to win and other moral qualities. Chess can reveal aspects of a person’s character and skills with striking accuracy, and it is therefore used in various psychological tests, as well as in cybernetics, to study the potential of computers. Chess theory examines the strategic and tactical principles of the game, the deployment and interaction of the men, typical moves, and patterns of play in openings and endgames. A special art and sport based on chess is chess composition.
Each side in the game plays with 16 men, including eight pieces (one king, one queen, two rooks, two bishops, and two knights) and eight pawns.
Rules of play. Chess moves are made alternately. The capture of the opponent’s men is obligatory only when there is no other way of defending a king in check.
The moves of the men on an open board are as follows. The king moves to any square adjacent to his own. The queen moves any distance along a file (vertical row of squares), rank (horizontal row of squares), or diagonal. A rook moves any distance along a rank or file, and a bishop moves any distance along a diagonal. The knight’s move is L-shaped: one square along a rank or file and one along a diagonal; the knight is the only piece that can cross a square occupied by another piece or pawn. The pawns only move ahead one square at a time along their file, although they may make a two-square move from the initial position.
If an opponent’s pawn or piece stands in the way of a move, it may be captured (removed from the board) and replaced on its square by the piece that captured it. A pawn captures by moving diagonally one square, after which it moves along its new file. A pawn advanced to the last rank may be replaced by any piece its player wishes except a king. If a pawn makes a two-square move over a square that is under attack by an opponent’s pawn it may be captured en passant; the capturing pawn advances diagonally to the square the captured pawn has passed.
One time in a game each player may move his king and a rook simultaneously provided they have not been moved before, the squares between them are unoccupied, and the king is not in check. This is called castling. The king moves two squares toward the rook (either right or left), and the rook shifts to the adjacent square jumped over by the king.
The object of the game is to put the king in checkmate, an attack against which there is no defense. The game ends in a draw if the correlation of forces on the board is such that checkmate is impossible, if one side has no possible move but its king is not under attack (stalemate), or if one of the kings cannot escape check (perpetual check). The game is divided into three stages: the opening, the middle game, and the endgame.
Historical survey. India is considered the birthplace of chess. By the fifth century, an ancient form of the game called chaturanga had evolved there; the object of the game was the capture of the opponent’s pieces. Later, presumably in the vicinity of the Kushana kingdom or the Ephthalite state, the object became mate. In Persia, chess was called chatrang or shatrang, and in the Arab countries of the East it was called shatranj. In shatranj the bishop (Russian slon, Arabic al-fil, “elephant”) moved diagonally two squares but could jump over pieces as the knight in modern chess can. The queen (Russian ferz’, Arabic firzan, “counsellor”) moved only one square diagonally. In the eighth and ninth centuries shatranj spread throughout the countries of the Arabian Caliphate. The first method of recording games was devised, and the first theoretical works were written. Players of shatranj were divided into four classes in the caliphate. The highest class consisted of the al-Aliya, or grandmasters, many of whom were also famous as the authors of chess treatises, for example, the Tadzhik Abul Fath in the 12th century.
By the seventh and eighth centuries the peoples of Middle Asia were acquainted with chess. The first references to the game in Georgia and Armenia date from the 12th century.
The first reference to chess in Western Europe dates from the early 11th century, although there is evidence that the game was introduced as early as the ninth or tenth century from the Arab countries, chiefly through Spain and possibly Italy. The Vikings (Normans) introduced chess to Scandinavia and the British Isles. By the 13th and 14th centuries chess had become a popular amusement of the feudal nobility and was mentioned in a number of literary works, including The Song of Roland and Tristan and Iseult. It was also part of the education of a knight. In Western Europe the chessboard became two-colored, whereas in the East it was of a single color. Special writings on the game, edifying works called moralities, encouraged the playing of chess as a means of moral instruction.
In the mid-15th century, apparently on the Iberian Peninsula, chess was reformed. The queen and bishop acquired their present moves, and the game became quick and dynamic. In the late 15th century the first books on the theory of the new chess appeared in Spain, written by Vicentz (1495) and Lucena (1497). In Rome in 1512 the Portuguese Damiano published a book on chess that was frequently reprinted, contributing greatly to the popularity of chess in Western Europe.
Development of theory. R. López de Segura, the best chess player in 16th-century Spain, must be regarded as the first theorist of modern chess. His Book of the Liberal Invention and Art of Playing Chess was published in 1561. In the late 16th and early 17th centuries a new Italian school of chess advocated an immediate attack on the opponent’s king, regardless of losses; the principal piece was the queen. The Italian school conceived original combinations and developed the aesthetics of chess. Its most famous players were G. Leonardo, P. Boi, G. Polerio, A. Salvio, P. Carrera, and especially G. Greco (1600–34), whose work was regarded for almost 100 years as the best guide to chess.
In the 18th century, France became the center of the chess world. Algebraic chess notation appeared in a book by P. Stamina (Paris, 1737) and was perfected in the late 19th century. A French school of chess evolved, headed by F. A. Philidor, author of Analysis of the Game of Chess (Analyze du jeu des échecs, 1749). The basis of Philidor’s theory was the leading role of the pawns and pawn arrangement in seizing space, attacking, and defending. Philidor, the first to study the general appraisal of position, analyzed a number of endgame positions and developed their principles of play. In the early 19th century several of his ideas were developed by A. D. Petrov.
In 1836 the first chess journal, Le Palamède, was published in Paris. P. Morphy made an important contribution to the theory of open positions in chess. Integrating strategic constructions and tactical strikes, he based his combinations and attacks on a solid study of position. In the 1880’s, W. Steinitz developed the general theory of positional play. The plan of a game, according to Steinitz, should stem from a general appraisal of position. The essence of positional play is the accumulation of small advantages; control of the center of the board, open lines, and points; and the attainment of a numerical advantage on the board. The player who has achieved these advantages is obliged to attack. M. I. Chigorin (Tchigorin) opposed certain dogmatic aspects of the theory, proving that general principles are no substitute for the analysis of specific alternatives.
Steinitz’s theoretical principles were developed by S. Tarrasch (1862–1934), A. I. Nimzowitsch (1886–1935), A. A. Alekhine, R. Réti (1889–1929), and A. K. Rubinstein (1882–1961).
Competitions. Various medieval sources contain reports of individual encounters between chess players of different countries. The competition between the Spaniards R. López and A. Ceron and the Italians Leonardo and Boi in 1575 at the palace of King Philip II of Spain is sometimes called the first international tournament. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries matches were held in many European countries. Cafés and then clubs were the centers of chess life at that time. For example, beginning in the early 18th century, the Café de la Régence in Paris was France’s major chess center.
Outstanding chess players included K. Légal (1702–92), Philidor, A. Deschapelles (1780–1847), L. La Bourdonnais (1795–1840), and P. Saint-Amant (1800–73) in France; A. McDonnell (1798–1835) and H. Staunton (1810–74) in Great Britain; T. Lasa (1818–99), A. Anderssen (1818–79), L. Paulsen (1836–90), and J. Zukertort in Germany; Morphy in the United States; and Steinitz in Austria-Hungary. Anderssen and then Morphy, who defeated him in 1858, were regarded as the strongest players of the mid-19th century. Steinitz was declared the first official world champion after defeating Zukertort in 1886. In 1894, E. Lasker became the champion by defeating Steinitz. In 1921, Lasker was defeated by J. R. Capablanca, who in 1927 lost to Alekhine. In 1935, M. Euwe became champion by defeating Alekhine; however, Alekhine regained the title in 1937 and died undefeated. V. Menchik won the first world chess championship for women, held in 1927.
The first international tournament took place in London in 1851, with Anderssen the winner. The German Chess League held international tournaments every two years from 1879 to 1914. Major chess competitions were also held in connection with the industrial expositions in London (1862), Paris (1867, 1900), Vienna (1873), and Prague (1908). In the 1870’s and 1880’s, newly formed chess societies and clubs in many cities also organized international tournaments; major contests were held in Vienna (1882,1903), London (1883,1899), New York (1889), Hastings, Great Britain (1895), and St. Petersburg (1896,1909,1914).
Since the early 20th century a number of competitions have been held at resorts, for example, Monte Carlo (1901–04), Cambridge Springs (1904), Oostende (1905–07), Karlovy Vary (1907, 1911, 1923, 1929), San Sebastián (1911, 1912), and San Remo (1911,1930). Between 1920 and 1939 approximately 50 major international tournaments were held, including three in Moscow, in 1925, 1935, and 1936. Since 1919 annual tournaments have been a tradition in Hastings, the scene of eight international team tournaments, or Olympiads, between 1927 and 1939. The strongest players to emerge during this period were Euwe, E. Griinfeld, S. M. Flohr, M. M. Botvinnik, S. Reshevsky, R. Fine, P. P. Keres, G. Stahlberg, V. V. Ragozin, G. Ia. Levenfish, P. A. Romanovskii, R. Spielmann, and M. Vidmar. Since World War II, chess has become an integral part of the culture of the socialist countries, and the game is now becoming popular in the countries of Asia and Africa. Chess theory is advancing further, and national chess associations are being reorganized.
In 1948 the five men regarded as the strongest chess players in Europe and America competed in a tournament. The winner, Botvinnik, was declared world champion. World championship competitions have been held regularly every three years since then according to the following system: first zonal and interzonal tournaments are held, followed by a candidates’ tournament, and finally a match with the reigning champion. In 1951 and 1954, Botvinnik retained the title in draw matches with D. I. Bronstein (born 1924) and V. V. Smyslov. He lost a second match to Smyslov in 1957 but won a return match in 1958. In 1960, Botvinnik lost to M. N. Tal’, but in 1961 he regained the title in a return match. In 1963 he lost to T. V. Petrosian. In that year return matches were eliminated. In 1966, Petrosian defended the title by defeating B. V. Spassky; in 1969, at the next round in the battle for the world championship, Spassky won the title, but in 1972 he lost it to R. Fischer. In 1975, Fischer declined a match with A. E. Karpov of the USSR (born 1951), who became world champion by default.
Since 1950 regular world championships have also been held among women. Champions have included L. V. Rudenko (1950–53), E. I. Bykova (1953–56,1958–62), and O. N. Rubtsova (1956–58). N. T. Gaprindashvili has been women’s champion since 1962.
Major international tournaments include regular world team championships for men and women, world and European individual youth championships, and student team Olympiads (since 1954).
In addition to those in Hastings and in Beverwijk, The Netherlands, tournaments are held in memory of outstanding chess players of the past, including anniversary tournaments. Major tournaments include the 1946 Groningen tournament (first prize, Botvinnik); the Chigorin tournament in Moscow in 1947 (Botvinnik); the Alekhine tournaments in 1956 (Botvinnik and Smyslov), 1971 (Karpov and L. Shtein), and 1975 (E. Geller); the 1967 tournament (Shtein); the tournament in Bled in 1961 (Tal’); the tournaments in Los Angeles in 1963 (Keres and Petrosian) and 1966 (Spassky); the Tournament of the World in Rovinj and Zagreb, Yugoslavia, in 1970 (Fischer); and the tournament in San Antonio in 1972 (Karpov, Petrosian, L. Portisch). From the 1950’s to the 1970’s, major prizes have been won by B. Larsen of Denmark, Portisch and L. Szabó of Hungary, L. Ljubojević and S. Gligorić of Yugoslavia, F. Olafsson of Iceland. R. Byrne and L. Kavalek of the USA, V. Hort and J. Smejkal of Czechoslovakia, R. Hübner of the Federal Republic of Germany, and H. Mecking of Brazil.
The International Chess Federation (FIDE), founded in 1924, promotes chess around the world and organizes international competitions. In 1978 it included the national chess federations of more than 100 countries.
In prerevolutionary Russia and the USSR. The Russian names of the chessmen and of the game itself (shakhmaty; from Persian shah mat, “the king is dead”), as well as archaeological discoveries, indicate that chess entered Russia from the East, probably via Khwarazm and Khazaria, no later than the ninth and tenth centuries. Chessmen have been unearthed in Novgorod, Kiev, Grodno, Minsk, Vyshgorod, and other cities. The game was already widespread in Russia in the 12th and 14th centuries and is mentioned in byliny (epic folk songs) about Russian bogatyri (warriors). Foreigners visiting Russia in the 16th and 17th centuries reported that chess was popular. The Eastern name for the rook, rukhkh (“chariot”), was changed to a word more familiar to Russians, lad’ia (“boat”).
In the 18th and early 19th centuries chess was primarily a game of the nobility and the intelligentsia. Sources tell of chess being played at assemblies, with Peter I among the players. Well-known references to the game are found in the writings of A. S. Pushkin, N. G. Chernyshevskii, I. S. Turgenev, L. N. Tolstoy, and other outstanding figures of Russian culture. The first chess textbook was published in 1821 by I. Butrimov, and the first chess club was founded in St. Petersburg in 1853. The eminent chess players of the mid-19th century were Petrov, K. A. Ianish, I. S. Shumov, S. S. Urusov, and D. S. Urusov. Chigorin, the founder of the Russian school of chess, was the strongest Russian player of the 1870’s, as well as a promoter of the game and organizer of the chess movement.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries a number of national and international tournaments were held in Russia. Russian players who successfully competed were E. S. Shiffers, S. Z. Alapin, G. S. Sal’ve, F. I. Duz-Khotimirskii, Rubinstein, O. S. Bernstein, Alekhine, and Nimzowitsch. Chess is very popular in the USSR, where in 1976 there were more than 3 million qualified players.
In 1924, N. V. Krylenko became the first chairman of the newly created All-Union Chess Section, since 1959 the Chess Federation of the USSR. In 1956 the Central Chess Club of the USSR was founded in Moscow. In the 1930’s a Soviet school of chess took shape, led in the 1940’s and 1950’s by M. M. Botvinnik. The characteristic features of the Soviet school of chess are a scientific approach to the game, a thorough development of theory, and a harmonious combination of general appraisals and specific analysis. For its successes from the 1950’s to the 1970’s the Soviet school of chess is indebted to a number of world champions and repeated winners of international competitions and USSR championships, notably A. A. Kotov, E. P. Geller, Iu. L. Averbakh, M. E. Taimanov, L. A. Polugaevskii, and I. E. Boleslavskii. In the USSR, chess players may receive official ratings (four levels) and the titles candidate for master (over 3,000 in 1976), master (559 men, 69 women), and grandmaster (37 men, 11 women).
National championships have been held for men since 1920, and for women since 1927. There are championships in the Union republics, autonomous republics, oblasts, krais, and cities. Other major competitions include all-Union team championships among republics (since 1948), athletic societies (since 1938), and Pioneer (since 1968), as well as nationwide individual youth championships (since 1934), nationwide rural championships (since 1939), and correspondence championships (since 1948). In 1959 chess was included among the games of the Spartakiad of Peoples of the USSR. As of January 1981, Soviet chess players held the official world championship titles in the men’s and women’s individual and men’s, women’s, and juniors’ team categories and the European title in the men’s team category.
The first Soviet chess periodical was Listok shakhmatnogo kruzhka Petrogubkommuny (Leaflet of the Chess Club of the Petrograd Provincial Commune), founded in 1921 and renamed Shakhmatnyi listok in 1922; in 1931 it was renamed Shakhmaty v SSSR. The journal Shakhmaty i shashki v rabochem klube (Chess and Checkers in the Workers’ Club) was published from 1927 to 1935. A chess newspaper entitled 64 was issued from 1935 to 1941; from 1968 to 1979, 64 was published as a special supplement to the newspaper Sovetskii Sport. Other chess periodicals include Shakhmatny biulleten’ (since 1955), Shakhmatnoe obozrenie (since 1980), the Latvian journal Sahs, the Armenian Shakhmatain Aiastan, and the Georgian Chadraki. Major chess competitions are given wide coverage in the national press and on All-Union Radio and Central Television. A weekly television program on chess. The Chess School, has been broadcast since 1968.
REFERENCESGrekov, N. I. Istoriia shakhmatnykh sostiazanii, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1937.
Orbeli, I., and K. Trever. Shatrang: Kniga o shakhmatakh. Leningrad, 1936.
Linder, I. U istokov shakhmatnoi kul’tury. Moscow, 1967.
Linder, I. Shakhmaty na Rusi, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1975.
Kotov, A., and M. Iudovich. Sovetskaia shakhmatnaia shkola, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1955.
Shakhmatnye okonchaniia [vols. 1–3]. Edited by Iu. Averbakh. Moscow, 1956–62.
Romanovskii, P. Mittel’shpil’: Plan. Moscow, 1960.
Romanovskii, P. Mittel’shpil’: Kombinatsiia. Moscow, 1963.
Panov, V., and Ia. Estrin. Kurs debiutov, 5th ed. Moscow, 1973.
Shakhmatnyi slovar’. [Moscow, 1964.]
IU. L. AVERBAKH and V. V. SMYSLOV
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