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Irving Chernev
Number of games in database: 20
Years covered: 1921 to 1944
Overall record: +7 -12 =1 (37.5%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games
      Based on games in the database; may be incomplete.

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D05 Queen's Pawn Game (2 games)
E34 Nimzo-Indian, Classical, Noa Variation (2 games)
A46 Queen's Pawn Game (2 games)

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(born Jan-29-1900, died Sep-29-1981, 81 years old) Ukraine (citizen of United States of America)

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Irving Chernev was born in Priluki in the Ukraine. He was a noted chess author, with books aimed for the beginner to below master level. He passed away in San Francisco, California, USA in 1981.

Wikipedia article: Irving Chernev

 page 1 of 1; 20 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. Reshevsky vs Chernev  1-050 1921 Simultaneious ExhibitionC53 Giuoco Piano
2. A Miller vs Chernev 0-19 1928 New YorkC45 Scotch Game
3. J Balint vs Chernev 1-034 1938 USA-ch prel AA18 English, Mikenas-Carls
4. Chernev vs M L Hanauer 0-115 1938 USA-ch prel AD24 Queen's Gambit Accepted
5. J Balint vs Chernev 1-010 1938 USA-ch prel AC57 Two Knights
6. J Platz vs Chernev 1-029 1939 New York chE34 Nimzo-Indian, Classical, Noa Variation
7. Chernev vs W Cruz 1-022 1940 New YorkA47 Queen's Indian
8. Chernev vs E S Jackson 1-022 1940 New YorkD05 Queen's Pawn Game
9. Chernev vs Seidman  0-150 1942 USA-chD41 Queen's Gambit Declined, Semi-Tarrasch
10. Reshevsky vs Chernev 1-030 1942 USA-chE34 Nimzo-Indian, Classical, Noa Variation
11. H Baker vs Chernev 0-132 1942 USA-chE17 Queen's Indian
12. Chernev vs H H Hahlbohm 1-024 1942 New YorkD05 Queen's Pawn Game
13. Denker vs Chernev 1-022 1942 USA-chA46 Queen's Pawn Game
14. Chernev vs Kashdan 0-133 1942 USA-chD93 Grunfeld, with Bf4 & e3
15. Darby vs Chernev 0-141 1943 Grand National corrA07 King's Indian Attack
16. Chernev vs H Steiner  0-127 1944 USA chA46 Queen's Pawn Game
17. Shainswit vs Chernev ½-½32 1944 New York ch-USAE47 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3 O-O 5.Bd3
18. Chernev vs Denker  0-138 1944 USA chE10 Queen's Pawn Game
19. I A Horowitz vs Chernev 1-035 1944 New York ch-USAB83 Sicilian
20. Chernev vs D Gladstone  1-035 1944 USA chA04 Reti Opening
 page 1 of 1; 20 games  PGN Download 
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Chernev wins | Chernev loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
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Mar-06-13  Tigranny: <FSR> Thanks for the reply. I just don't get how Chernev seems to think that players play like gods that are perfect and don't make any errors when they win, but the losers get no acclaim despite their hard fights, or any pieces of advice of how to swindle the winner.
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <Tigranny> Yes, his books are actually a bit frustrating to the student. One is going to get difficult positions as a player, and one wants advice on how to get counterplay, how to defend, and how to try to swindle the opponent from a lost position. You won't find that in Chernev's books. They give no sense that chess is a <struggle> between two minds, and that games have ups and downs, sometimes dramatic.

As a young player, I treasured Horowitz and Reinfeld's <Chess Traps, Pitfalls, and Swindles>, Soviet Master Kotkov's <Middlegame: The Defense Triumphs>, and Keres and Kotov's <The Art of the Middle Game>. Later there was Soltis' <The Art of Defense in Chess>. These are among the very few books that discussed how one could defend, and even win, from a difficult or even "lost" position.

Mar-06-13  RookFile: That Chess Traps, Pitfalls, and Swindles is excellent, and many a player could benefit from it.
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: Incidentally, I think the most comprehensive treatment of swindles is my own Wikipedia article about them: Kind of a sad commentary, really.
Mar-06-13  me to play: This was the Chernev book that I had in my library. Mine had a different cover...
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <me to play> That's a generic cover, not a picture of a real book. <The Chess Companion> is a fun book.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: Soltis's <The Art of Defense> is a vastly under-rated book IMO.

If you can find it, it is well worth owning.

Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <TheFocus: Soltis's <The Art of Defense> is a vastly under-rated book IMO.

If you can find it, it is well worth owning.>

I quite agree. I looked the other day and some sellers at were offering it used for $10 and up. There's also an almost identically-named book, <The Art of Defence in Chess> by Polugaevsky and Damsky. (The only difference in the two titles is the spelling of Defense/Defence.) I have it and it looks good, but I haven't read it yet.

Soltis' book and the Chess Digest pamphlet <Middlegame: The Defense Triumphs> by Soviet Master Kotkov (also available used through amazon, starting at $4.47), changed my life, convincing me I could defend any position. (Actually I can't, but I try.) If you look at my games, a lot of them are games where I successfully defended and/or swindled my way out of a difficult position. See, e.g., S Tennant vs F Rhine, 1982 (held draw from bad position); F Rhine vs G S DeFotis, 1988 (in terrible trouble in early middlegame; sac'd a pawn for counterplay and won after he blundered); K Thompson vs F Rhine, 1992 (accurately defended against sacrificial attack, won with surprise counterattack); F Rhine vs A Boerkoel, 1996 (defended well against sacrificial attack; opponent secured draw by perpetual check); D Fleetwood vs F Rhine, 1997 (great counterattacking game, ending in draw by perpetual check); F Rhine vs S Nagle, 1997 (played horribly from moves 14-21, won with shocking swindle beginning on move 28); V Pupols vs F Rhine, 1997 (defended horrid position, eventually reaching ending down the exchange for a pawn, which I held); F Rhine vs Dmitri Sergatskov, 2011 (grabbed a pawn and let my opponent bounce my king all over the board; he missed a subtle win, but that happens in real-life, not fairy-tale, chess). (Of course, there are games where my defensive efforts failed, too.)

In Chernev-land, most of the above games should not exist. There, the normal course of a game is that a player gets an advantage, ruthlessly exploits it, and wins. He is simply bewildered by a game like Tarrasch vs Lasker, 1908. (Compare Euwe's inane statement about Lasker, "It is not possible to learn much from him. One can only stand and wonder." No wonder Euwe had an 0-3 record against Lasker, the worst record between any two world champions.

Jan-29-14  Penguincw: R.I.P. Irving Chernev.

< "Every chessmaster was once a beginner." >

Great quote.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: < Penguincw:

< "Every chessmaster was once a beginner." >

Great quote.>

So you keep telling us!

Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: Possible early Chernev sighting: The "New York Times" for January 14, 1917, gives some details of a high school match. Playing second board for Eastern District and defeating Luloff of Curtis, is <Chernev>. No first name or iniital, but Irving would have been a high school student about that time.
Mar-01-14  capafischer1: FSR, I hope you realize that lasker had a bad score against capablanca. Only 2 wins vs 6 losses and he also did not win a single game against him in the world championship match but had 4 losses. Furthermore, capablanca has the best win loss ratio in chess history. Also read the chessbase report about capablanca being the most accurate of all world champions and the hardest to beat.
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <capafischer1> I already responded to you, on this exact point, exactly one week ago at Capablanca vs Euwe, 1931. And yes, Capablanca lost very few games, largely because he was so willing to agree to a draw. Lasker is arguably the most dominant player in history. He was world champion for 20 years longer than Capablanca, who lost his one and only attempt at defending his title. Lasker's tournament record is extraordinary. Capablanca's pales in comparison,, even though Capablanca stopped playing before his 51st birthday, while Lasker played until he was 67.
Mar-03-14  capafischer1: FSR, I guarantee that you are in the absolute minority if you think Lasker was a greater player than capablanca. Lasker defended his title against the likes of janowski, marshall, tarrasch and drew against schelchter. Lets see he also dodged rubinstein. Capablanca lost to the great Alekhine but lifetime beat him by a score of 9 to 7. Compare laskers win loss record to capablanca. I mean they are not even close.
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <capafischer1> Lasker had a better tournament record than Capablanca, a better match record than Capablanca, and much better longevity as a player than Capablanca. (Compare their 10 and 15-year peaks on Chessmetrics. Capablanca isn't even on the 20-year list. Lasker, despite being 20 years Capablanca's junior, finished ahead of Capablanca in every single tournament (St. Petersburg 1914, New York 1924, Moscow 1925, and Moscow 1935) until 1936, when Lasker was 67.
Mar-03-14  capafischer1: When you make a claim as who is the greater player you have to look at the overall record. Capa had 372 wins vs only 46 losses. Lasker had 361 wins vs 90 losses. you already know about capa winning 6 to 2 against lasker. Also Lasker did not defend his title from 1910 to 1921. He avoided rubinstein and made capa wait till 1921.

And finally, remember the chessbase report with the best computers that said that capa was the most accurate of all world champions and the hardest to beat. Even lasker himself said that I have known many chess players but only one genius and that was Capablanca.

Mar-03-14  Olavi: Lasker did not avoid Rubinstein, they signed a contract for a match in autumn 1914.
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<capafischer1> I cite evidence; you cite anecdotes. Not impressive. Since you like quotes, here's one from Tal: "The greatest of the champions was, of course, Emanuel Lasker." You can believe whatever you want. Based on the evidence, I will continue to believe otherwise.

As for Lasker supposedly avoiding a world championship match with Rubinstein, you ignore World War I, which put a stop to most chess activity. Also, AFAIK Rubinstein never found backers for a match against Lasker.

And you want to talk about avoiding match challenges? Capablanca's financial demands for a match challenge were very difficult for challengers to meet. It took six years for someone (Alekhine) to find backers for the required purse. After winning the title, Alekhine refused to play a rematch against him unless Capablanca could meet the same financial conditions Alekhine had met. The Great Depression having intervened, Capablanca was never able to do so.

You are also much impressed by Capablanca's record against Alekhine: <Capablanca lost to the great Alekhine but lifetime beat him by a score of 9 to 7.> Wow, that <is> impressive! Let's see, how did Lasker fare against Alekhine? Three wins, one loss and four draws. The one loss occurred when Lasker was 65 years old and was playing in his first tournament in <nine years>. And he was 24 years Alekhine's senior.

How about Euwe? As I've often mentioned, he and Lasker played three games and Lasker won them all. How did your beloved Capablanca fare against Euwe? Four wins, one loss, and thirteen draws. That's 58.3% - not exactly overwhelming. The reason Capablanca lost as few games as he did is that he was not willing to take risks; he relied instead on his vaunted technique to try to outplay his opponents. If they didn't cooperate, and first-class players like Euwe weren't likely to, the result was a draw. As Lasker said, "Pit two players against each other who both have perfect technique, who both avoid weaknesses, and what is left? a sorry caricature of chess."

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Have you even bothered looking at their tournament records? Lasker's is just staggering. From 1892 to 1925, he finished clear 1st 12 times, =1st with Rubinstein at St. Petersburg 1909, 2nd at Moscow 1925 (Bogolyubow's great victory; Lasker was 56 years old, and as always finished ahead of Capablanca), and =2nd at Cambridge Springs 1904 (Marshall's great triumph). His <worst> result in this period was third at the great Hastings 1895 tournament, shortly after he had almost died of typhus. From 1892 to 1925 is 33 years, a third of a century. That is four years longer than Capablanca's <entire tournament career.> Lasker was an absolutely dominant tournament player - as Sonas says, arguably <the most dominant player ever> - into his mid-50s. And even at Moscow 1935, at age 66, he finished just half a point behind the joint winners Botvinnik and Flohr, undefeated, and of course ahead of Capablanca, whom he crushed in their individual game. Reuben Fine rightly hailed Lasker's result as "a biological miracle."

How did the great Capablanca do in his 50s and 60s? He died at age 53. But even in his 40s he performed at a level well below Lasker in his 50s. Look at Capablanca's tournament performance in the 1930s (age 42-50). He finished clear 1st just twice, equal 1st twice, 2nd thrice, =2nd once, =3rd once, 4th twice, and 7th at AVRO 1938. Recall that Lasker's <worst> tournament performance <through age 56> was clear third at Hastings 1895. Capablanca <in his 40s> finished lower than that four times.

Mar-03-14  capafischer1: Lasker was a great player. no doubt. But, it is my opinion and the best chess playing programs in the world that capa was the most accurate world champion ever and was the hardest to beat. you never mention their head to head record. I find that puzzling. I mean 6 wins to 2 is pretty convincing.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Time for me to join in the 'minority' which ascribes a greater career to Lasker than that enjoyed by Capablanca, despite the heads-up mark between them.

Evidence or, as noted by <FSR>, anecdotes? You decide.

Mar-03-14  Olavi: <Capablanca lost to the great Alekhine but lifetime beat him by a score of 9 to 7.> 7 to 7, plus two wins in exhibition games.
Premium Chessgames Member
  SteinitzLives: Lasker and Capablanca may not seem like an apples to oranges comparison, but so many "who was greater" debates are.

Consider different eras each peaked in, and different competitors faced. C'mon, they were both awesome.

Premium Chessgames Member
  devere: <capafischer1: Lasker was a great player. no doubt. But, it is my opinion and the best chess playing programs in the world that capa was the most accurate world champion ever and was the hardest to beat. you never mention their head to head record. I find that puzzling. I mean 6 wins to 2 is pretty convincing.>

Outside of Havana their lifetime record was +2 -2 =6. Capablanca beat Kostic 5 straight in Havana, but in temperate climates they drew 5 times. Capablanca was impossible to play in Cuba without aircon. Off his native island he was merely very difficult. I guess Capa's big mistake was not playing Alekhine in Cuba!

Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <capafischer1: Lasker was a great player. no doubt. But, it is my opinion and the best chess playing programs in the world that capa was the most accurate world champion ever and was the hardest to beat.>

What chess playing programs say that? Citations, please. The best chess engines in the world AFAIK are Komodo, Houdini, and Rybka. I am not aware of any assessment of your claim that any of them has ever done.

<you never mention their head to head record. I find that puzzling. I mean 6 wins to 2 is pretty convincing.>

The hell I don't. As I said here on March 1: <<capafischer1> I already responded to you, on this exact point, exactly one week ago at Capablanca vs Euwe, 1931>.

Since you are apparently unable or unwilling to do the slightest amount of work on your own, here it is again - for the third time:

Feb-22-14 FSR: <capafischer1> Capablanca had a +6 =16 -2 score against Lasker. That's 58.3%. Good, but not overwhelming. If Lasker and Capablanca were contemporaries, it would be decent evidence for the proposition that Capablanca was the stronger player. But they were not; Lasker was 20 years older. All but their first three games (at St. Petersburg 1914, where Lasker scored +1 =2) were played when Lasker was 52 or older. A 52-year-old playing a 32-year old is at a huge disadvantage. (Compare how Anand, almost 44 at the time, just got mauled by Carlsen, then almost 23, +0 =7 -3.)* And the disadvantage only increases as time goes on, for example when you have a 67-year-old playing a 47-year-old. That would normally be a rout. I'm not a statistician, but I strongly suspect that if you factor in their respective ages, Lasker's result was considerably <better> than would be expected.

*Fun fact: Carlsen's 65% score in this match was very similar to Capablanca's 64.3% score in Lasker-Capablanca World Championship Match (1921).

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