2012 Russell Enterprises Holiday Quiz The Winners!

Coulter Edges Johnston to Take First Prize!

Douglas Coulter of Katy, Texas took first place in the 2012 REI Holiday Quiz. He bested Jim Johnston of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Johnston finished clear second ahead of Simon Rubinstein-Salzedo. Fourth was Miguel Torres and in fifth place, William Butler. A total of 18 entries were received. The winner had a 54% winning percentage in this challenging quiz. And, if you did not notice, the quiz had a distinct Dutch slant to it, in honor of Hans Ree's column Dutch Treat.

For his fine effort, Coulter will receive a selection of five REI books, including (1) Bobby Fischer: The Career and Complete Games of the American World Chess Champion by Karsten Mueller; (2) Dvoretsky's Endgame Manual, 3rd edition by Mark Dvoretsky; (3)The Chess Puzzle Book 4: Mastering the Positional Principles by Karsten Mueller and Alex Markgraf; (4) New York 1924by Alexander Alekhine; and (5) Zurich 1953 by Miguel Najdorf. Approximate retail value of First Prize: $155.00!

A one-year subscription to New in Chess will go to second-place finisher Jim Johnston. Eight great issues of the magazine many consider the best English-language chess journal in the world today. Approximate retail value of Second Prize: $98.00!

For finishing third, Simon Rubinstein-Salzedo will receive selection of four REI books, including (1)Bullet Chess: One Minute to Mate by Hikaru Nakamura and Bruce Harper; (2) A Practical Guide to Rook Endgames by Nikolay Minev; (3) St. Petersburg 1909 by Emanuel Lasker; and (4) The KGB Plays Chess by Felshtinsky, Gulko, Popov and Kortschnoi. Approximate retail value of Third Prize: $75

A DGT North American Electronic Chess Clock goes to Miguel Torres. Introduced a few years ago, the DGT North American has established itself as the most popular tournament clock in its price range. DGT quality at an affordable price. Approximate retail value of Fourth Prize: $50.00!

Fifth Prize: The REI book Topalov-Kramnik, 2006 World Chess Championship: On the Edge in Elista by Veselin Topalov and Zhivko Ginchev. One of the most unusual - and tense - world championship matches of our era. Follow the accusations and intrigue, told from the challenger's perspective. Approximate retail value of Fifth Prize: $30.00!

And now, the answers...

(1) In the 1990s Hans Ree wrote an article about a man who may have introduced chess to Europe from the Islamic world in the 9th century. What was this man’s name? [1 point]

Answer: We start the quiz with a straightforward question. Most entries got this right. Abul Hasan Ali Ibn Nafi, a/k/a Ziryab, a Persian musician, chess player and polymath who lived from 783 to 857, and who joined the court of the Emir of Córdoba, Spain, in 821. We accepted either name as the answer. The article, “Ziryab the Musician,” is included in Ree’s excellent anthology The Human Comedy of Chess (Russell Enterprises, 1999).

(2) A story of these star-crossed lovers describes them playing chess at some point. An analysis of the story hundreds of years later allowed one researcher to reconstruct a plausible position that had occurred on the board in that description.

This was a more obscure question...

(a) Who was the researcher? [1 point]  Answer: Johann Hollik

(b) Where was his research published? [1 point]  AnswerDeutsches Wochenschach 1913

(c) What was unique about the reconstructed position? [1 point]  Answer: He used the ancient alfil and fers, instead of the modern bishop and queen, in the position. This would have been consistent with the 13th-century rules in place at the time the tragic story of Tristan and Isolde was written. Source: The Joys of Chess by Christian Hesse.

(3) The opening known today as the Dutch Defense (1.d4 f5) was played by the Dutch players Heijmans and Coopman in the Amsterdam tournament of 1851. True or false: Prior to that event, it was generally called the Rivière Opening. [1 point]

Answer: False. The Dutch Defense was originally so named because of its advocacy in a book published in Holland, written by the Alsatian player and Dutch resident Elias Stein (1748-1812). The alternate name Rivière Opening did not arise until it was played by Arnous de Rivière in his match against Harrwitz in 1856. (Source: The Oxford Companion to Chess). Almost all entries had this right.

(4) There is a chess connection between an Asian ruler, a Turkish city and a 19th-century Russian master. Describe that chess connection. [2 points]

Answer: A rather difficult question, requiring more general thinking, follwed by a selective narrowing of the possibilities and then finding the correct answers. The chess connection is a problem composed by the Russian master and opening theoretician Karl Jänisch, the Mongol conqueror Tamburlaine and the Turkish city of Ankara. After defeating the Ottomans, led by Sultan Bayazid I, at Ankara in 1402, Tamburlaine imprisoned and publicly exhibited the sultan in an iron cage until his death. This has been designated the “Tamburlaine theme” in art. Jänisch composed a problem in which the black king (the sultan) is locked in a cage and is eventually suffocated – a smothered mate! Source: The Joys of Chess by Christian Hesse.

(5) The Dutch Championship, a/k/a the Dutch Chess Federation Tournament, was held 28 times over the years 1873-1900. How many of those were in round-robin format, and how many in knock-out format? [1 point]

Answer: The knock-out format was used only once, in 1873. (Source: Gaige, Chess Tournament Crosstables, Volume 1). This answer could be found by looking up the history of these tournaments.

(6) One world champion died while playing a serious tournament (over-the-board) game. Name that person. [1 point]

Answer: Cecil J.S. Purdy, the first world correspondence champion, died during his game against Parsonage in the Maroczy Open, Sydney, Australia, June 11, 1979. His last words, spoken to his son, were reportedly: “I have a win, but it will take some time.” Source The Joys of Chess by Christian Hesse, pp. 292. Another question answered correctly by almost all entrants. And yes, we do suppose it would take some time.

(7) The following international tournaments were all held on Dutch soil. Which of these did not have the participation of the reigning world champion? [2 points] 

(a) Amsterdam 1889

(b) Scheveningen 1913

(c) The Hague 1921

(d) Amsterdam 1936 (ASB Jubilee)

(e) Groningen 1946

(f) Wageningen 1958

(g) Beverwijk 1960

Answer: This question has very precise, tricky wording. It was not that difficult to answer, but you needed to get a clear idea of what answer was needed. All of them except (f). Wageningen 1958, held in November 1958, was won by Botvinnik, about six months after he had regained the title from Smyslov. The others all included players who eventually became or had been world champion, but did not hold the title at the time the event was played. (a) had Lasker, (b) Alekhine, (c) Alekhine and Euwe, (d) Alekhine, (e) Botvinnik, Euwe and Smyslov, and (g) Petrosian. The closest call among the non-champion events was (d). Amsterdam hosted two international tournaments in October 1936, the ASB Jubilee October 5-7 and the Arbeiderspers Tournament October 10-18. Then-champion Euwe played in the latter, an 8-man round-robin he co-won with Fine ahead of Alekhine, but not the former, a set of four separatequadrangulars won by Fine, Grünfeld, Kmoch, and Alekhine and Landau. (Source: Gaige, Chess Tournament Crosstables, vols. 1, 2 and 3; Skinner and Verhoeven, Alexander Alekhine’s Chesss Games 1902-1946; Münninghoff, Max Euwe: The Biography; E. Winter (ed.), World Chess Champions)

(8) An opening book published after 1990 had the following quote: “Chess is not tennis…” Name the book and the author. [2 points]

AnswerThe Modern Philidor Defence by Vladimir Barsky, published in 2010 by Chess Stars. Interestingly enough, an internet search should turn up an interview with Vishy Anand in which he made this remark, but this was not the correct answer.

(9) Max Euwe’s reign as world champion lasted only two years, December 1935 to December 1937. During that time, in how many international tournaments did Euwe take clear first place? [1 point]

Answer: Another tricky question. The key here was "international." There was only one "international," the Four Masters Tournament held in Bad Nauheim, Stuttgart and Garmisch Partenkirchen in July 1937, where he came ahead of Alekhine, Bogoljubow, and Sämisch. His first place in the Arbeiderspers  Tournament, Amsterdam 1936, was shared with Fine. His only other clear first was at the Noteboom memorial, Leiden 1937, but that was not an international event, involving only other Dutch players. (Source: Münninghoff, Max Euwe: The Biography)

(10) A Dutch player once wrote of another Dutch player, “We now have a chess champion who refuses to play chess.” Who was writing about whom? [2 points]
Answer: Hein Donner about Lodewijk Prins. Donner, who had won Dutch Championships in 1954, 1957 and 1958, challenged Prins to a match after the latter had won the title in 1965, but Prins declined the challenge. (Source: J.H. Donner, The King, New in Chess 1997). This did not stump many entrants.

(11) What unusual distinction do Paul S. Leonhardt, Henry Ernest Atkins, Victor Kortschnoi, Frank Marshall, and Henry Edward Bird all have in common? [2 points]
Answer: None are of Dutch nationality, but each won a Dutch Championship, Leonhardt in 1903, Atkins in 1899, Kortschnoi in 1977, Marshall in 1905, and Bird in 1880. (Source: Whyld, Chess: The Records. It has a 36-page section on national championships, everything from Argentina to Yugoslavia. It lists these players as Dutch champions. Gaige’s Chess Tournament Crosstables 1851-1900 calls these “Netherlands Chess Federation tournaments.”

(12) Which of the following events was caused by Dutch Elm Disease? [2 points]

(a) Jan Willem te Kolsté’s poor performance (+0 -17 =3, last of 21) at Baden-Baden 1925. Te Kolsté was depressed because he had a large stake in a lumber company and faced financial ruin as a result of the epidemic.

(b) Euwe having to decline his invitation to New York 1927, because a quarantine prevented travel between the USA and Holland.

(c) The Dutch chessboard industry switching to black walnut wood for the dark squares, because of lack of elm wood.

(d) The use of plastic rather than wooden boards by most Dutch players since 1950.

(e) The Soviet Chess Federation’s initial insistence (later overcome) that all the games of the 1948 world championship tournament be played in Moscow, and none in Holland.

(f) All of the above

(g) None of the above

Answer: Of course, (g), none of the above. We like to do a little leg-pulling now and then.

(13) The following incident is said to have occurred in 1966. A player in a major tournament wanted to go to a nightclub, but was stopped by the doorman, who told him that only people 18 and over could enter. The player replied “But sir, I am 39!” The amused doorman admitted him, saying “Nobody lies that much.” Who was this famous chess player? [2 points]  
Answer: Dutch grandmaster Hein Donner, who was in fact 39 at the time. The incident, reported by Bent Larsen, occurred during the Second Piatigorsky Cup tournament in Santa Monica, 1966. (Source: As related by Bent Larsen in Hein Donner 1927-1988 by Alexander Münninghoff. This question and answer was provided by none other than Hans Ree!)

(14) And now, one final question that may make you a little loopy: Once upon a time, Player A played what would become a rather well-known game against Player B. This game (the “Game”) was played in Bulgaria. In the Game, Player A was White. In the same competition in which the Game was played, Player B lost three games. One of these games was to Player C. At some point later in his career, Player C mentioned several of what he considered his best games. One of these games, against Player D, was played in one of the venues listed (but not necessarily in one of the years listed) in Question 7. 

Note: Player A is a player who is associated with an incorrect answer to Question 7 in this holiday quiz. Prior to the Game, Player A and Player B had never played each other. Player C is the correct answer to one of the questions in this holiday quiz. Player D is a player who is associated with one of the correct answers to this holiday quiz.

Identify Players A, B, C and D. [1 point for each correct answer; total 4 points] 

Answer: Player A – Mikhail Botvinnik; Player B – Bobby Fischer; Player C – Hein Donner; Player D – Bent Larsen. The well-known game is the famous Botvinnik-Fischer game from the Varna (Bulgaria) Olympiad in 1962. Fischer sacrificed a piece in his game with Donner in that Olympiad, but the Dutch grandmaster turned away the attack, kept the material and won the game. Bent Larsen was the one who recounted the story in the Münninghoff book about Donner. And finally, Donner would later name his game against Larsen, played at Wageningen in 1957 as one of his best.

So there you have it, friends, another holiday quiz. We hope you have enjoyed it, whether you submitted an entry or just sat on the sidelines. Special thanks to Taylor Kingston for his valuable contributions to this year's REI quiz.

Season's Greetings to one and all and best wishes to everyone for a Happy and Healthy New Year!