My CG.com moniker comes from a Spotlight on Openings (Chess Review, 1969) written by GM Bill Lombardy. He analyzed several games with a system involving g3,f4, Nh3->f2 and called it the Paris Attack.
I learned to play chess during the Christmas holiday, 1966. I had $2.00 left over from shopping for gifts and used it to buy a chess set. I was quickly hooked! I read Koltanowski's weekly column like some people read the bible. My mother found a copy of Smyslov's Games of Chess at her work library. WHOA! Chess books...
I play rated tournament chess for seven years. My highest rating was just north of 2000 though I quickly fell back to the low 1900s. That was 1973 and I haven't played competitively since. I've always suspected that my affection for hypermodern openings kept me from attaining master level strength. Still, my local chess hero Master Bob Wendling, once said to me, "You play the opening like Botvinnik. Too bad you play the middlegame and the endgame like <ParisAttack>!" But, I had fun!
One of my enduring passions has been chess literature. My first buy was from the famous bookseller, Al Buschke. I bought Sokolsky's 1. b4, Trifunovic's Grunfelda, Bogolyubov's 1.d4 and a lovely early edition of Bilguer's Handbuch all for the princely sum of $26.00. I have approximately 6000 books in my collection. Although I continue to purchase selected newly published volumes, my intention is to pare down to 2000 or so. The stark reality is I will almost certainly never read nor use many of them. With my other book collections there is not enough room for them. Typically two-thirds of them are stored at any given time.
The high points of my chess life: Beating a Senior Master (as white, Closed Sicilian), drawing with a Senior Master after having a forced mate-in-five (as black, Najdorf Bednarski-Browne variation), beating a former Wyoming champion with 1. e4, e5; 2. Nf3, Nc6; 3. Bd3?!, beating a three time Colorado champion with the Gurgenidze Robatsch, meeting Bobby Fischer for all of five minutes when he borrowed three of my books for his match with Larsen, a wonderful telephone conversation with Hans Kmoch, interviewing Lajos Portisch and of course the visits in New York with the delightful and knowledgeable Al Buschke. I suppose the low points were losing the state Junior championship twice and accepting I would never get very good at the game. This may have led to the not uncommon phenomenon of enjoying studying the game more than playing it.
The chess openings have also always been of interest, with emphasis on hypermodern sorties. Lesser used defenses I consider with untapped potential: Franco-Benoni, Polish Defense, Symmetrical Defense, Dory Defense, Alekhine's Defense. 1. e3 is an excellent first move - almost as good as 1. g3. ;)
I also enjoy studying and identifying styles of the top players of today and yesterday. I feel I've learned the most from Botvinnik (find a target early and drill), Keres (bring your pieces to better and better squares) and Gligoric (its the center, stupid!). Other favorite players: Morphy, Pillsbury, Nimzovitch, Flohr, Boleslavsky, Stein, Petrosian, Fischer, Lombardy, Tal, Karpov, Mamedyarov and Ding Liren.
Generally, I think new players learn the most from the 'transparent' and 'aggressive' GMs - Morphy, Pillsbury, Tarrasch, Alekhine, Keres, Gligoric, Spassky and are wise to initially avoid Nimzovitch, Capablanca and Fischer (deceptive simplicity), Tal (otherworldly although I believe the key to his combination-rich middle games is in how he gains tempi and open lines in the openings), Petrosian and Kasparov (unless you also have a thousand eyes). But when I taught chess years ago, no one played a game - theirs or anyone else's - until they could demonstrate up to an efficient K + B + B v K mate. The endgame has all the basic chess skills and ingredients in digestible form.
I am also interested in considering the skills necessary to be a superior (>2400) chess player. I believe the core native skill is how the chess geometry is visualized and manipulated in the brain - and that to a very large degree 'you either have it, or you don't.' Obviously, I don't. My best guess is the information is processed as a language; perhaps also explaining chess, music and mathematics prodigies.
This also might explain why hundreds of books written on 'tactics' have done so little for so many. Pattern recognition is dependent upon the core 'visualization' skill. While such efforts as classifying patterns and tactical motifs may be interesting - they are descriptive not predictive and thus have little value in the hurly-burly of OTB chess. Practical Chess Analysis by Buckley is one of the few books offering 'train your brain' ideas for the core visualization skill.
I also play Go though after 40 years I still have 'no idea' what is happening in a professional game and am around 8-10 kyu for all my efforts. Emmanual Lasker appears to have found the game unfathomable also - so I guess I am at least in good company. Still, some of the softer Go concepts such as moyo and shape seems to have application to chess. John Fairbairn who has written many Go books once asked Karpov if there was shape in chess. Fairbairn came away with the idea that there was indeed shape in chess - and that it was a well-kept master secret. Ultimately I see chess as having multiple dynamic scenarios at different 'speeds' overlaid on each other with the focus of a game often switching quickly from dynamic to dynamic.
I rank the Best of All Time: 1) Fischer, 2) Lasker, 3) Capablanca, 4) Karpov, 5) Kasparov, 6) Alekhine, 7) Botvinnik, 8) Tal, 9) Rubinstein, 10) Petrosian. Of course such lists are extremely subjective; fun, but somewhere between silly and oxymoronic like 'poor billionaire.' What are the criteria, how do you quantify the criteria and matrix of relationships between them? What the world needs now is non-commutative multiplication. Soon we will have chess engines emulating historic players with current book knowledge and the problem will be solved! Or, will it?
My two main GAME COLLECTIONS:
1) "Through the Years" - 150 games I have found most interesting and/or instructive in the 48 years I have played chess.
2) "Triumphe die Hypermodern Schachpartie" - 100+ games showing the six 'themes' representing what I call the tapestry of hypermodernism. I've also cataloged variations and noted hybrid motifs in my favorite defense, the Robatsch, with illustrative games.
I've concluded classical chess is in its winter years though at 64 I am also; it won't matter much to me what the game's status is in 20 years. I do not think 960 or other varietals - even were they accepted - could stay Moore's Law and increasingly sophisticated heuristic algorithms such as Monte Carlo sampling. The engines will even have Go cooked in 10-20 years. I note there is already some exploration of 21, 23 and 25 line Go although they disturb some of the 19 line dynamic.
Sadly, no such 'quick fix' is available for chess. I've played on a 10 x 8 board with an extra piece between the B & N. The 'Underdog' as it was named by Eugene Salome is similar to the older 'Boatman' which moves two squares diagonally and can jump as a N. While the super-battery of Q-B-U can be potent - it really doesn't increase the computational space enough to matter in the long run. With the experimental freezing of light, real quantum computing cannot be far away. It won't require 32-piece table bases to finish off the game. "Its a new day, its a new way" - Grace Slick at Woodstock. I guess we've both had our day, Gracie!
As of late-2014 I am back to chess if just a bit although still studying Go actively. Currently I am pruning and organizing my library, studying rook endings and a few openings.
My big chess project is completing the Fischer-Spassky 1972 games with all the annotations from 35 sources. This will hopefully evolve into 'Chess En Masse' - a website with the capability of analyzing and simultaneously displaying game variations/sub-variations/sub-sub-variations based on Chessalyzer a program I wrote some years ago.. I also contemplate a book on the Gurgenidze-Robatsch and related lines, a variation I began playing in 1968. Time, alas, may not be on my side.
All in all, Chess has been a wonderful lifelong friend. The $2.00 I spent that late December back in '66 was a great investment, indeed!