Tag: Chess

Chess and Columbo

I practice guitar, banjo and ukulele for hours every day.  Sometimes I will put onb6d154e733a95e506e38ee1752901b77 the television while I practice.  Especially if I am just playing the same piece over and over.   Usually I will put Netflix on and watch on the TV via my chromecast.  Recently I started watching Columbo again.  I haven’t seen it in nearly forty years and I’m surprised how well it holds up.

To the uninitiated and the young Columbo is a detective series that is the opposite of a who done it.  The murder is shown in the beginning along with the murderer.  Detective comes in much later and the fun is watching him catch the bad guy.  All of his cases are celebrities and people with money.  He is rumpled and obviously not in their social class.  He annoys the hell out of them.  The murderers all think they are smarter than this bumbling detective.  It’s a joy.

This morning I was watching Season 2 Episode 7 called The Most Dangerous Match.  Now I love Coumbo and I love this episode but some things about the chess are hilarious.

At one point the world champion mentions a game between Alekhine and Casablanca played in 1914.  Columbo seems amazed that the world champion can remember the game.  Ha!  Every serious chessplayer that I know can do that.  We can quote hundreds of games.  I can demonstrate The Evergreen Game played in Berlin in 1852 between Adolf Anderssen and Jean Dufresne or The Immortal Game played by Adolf Anderssen and Lionel Kieseritzky on 21 June 1851 in London.   We remember chess games the way emo girls know Hawthorne Heights songs.

Two things made me laugh out loud during the episode.  Both were during a simultaneous exhibition.  The world champion has invited ten players to play against him in the exhibition.  You’d have to assume them to be competent chessplayers but look at this chess set that the woman is using!

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This the same $2 chess set that eight year-0ld kids use.  I’ve played in dozens of exhibitions and I’d be embarrassed playing a grandmaster with this set.  I can assume that anyone who would be worthy to play would have a real set.

Then the true howler comes in.  Columbo is harassing the poor chess genius during the exhibition and the world champion loses in two moves!!!

Here is the game:

1. f4 e6
2.g4 Qh4 checkmate!

This is called Fool’s Mate.  This is the Bigfoot of chess games.  It is so bad and obvious that you never see it in the real world.  That a world champion could play this (even under Columbo’s duress) is unbelievable.  I am a pretty good chessplayer but nowhere near a grandmaster.  I wouldn’t make that move if I was drunk, high on meth and had substantial brain damage.

World chess

I loved the episode.   The chess was crap but it usually is on tv.  The real chess game was between Columbo and Grandmaster Emmett Clayton.

One last thing.  The criminals in the show are usually celebrities and/or people with a lot of money.  I doubt if more than 2% of his cases would win a conviction in court.

Parma Open Game 4

Now I felt good.  What really surprised me was how relaxed I was at the table.  It’s a very similar feeling as when I am at the poker table. Now I had 2½ points and even if I lost the last game I would feel good.

I talked with my new friends and Ryan K. even bought me some pizza for helping him.  He said he won the second game because he did what I told him and didn’t trade off his pieces.  Good for him.  I think he has the makings of a real chess player. It was time for the fourth and final game.

random chess photo
My fourth game was against  Zhaosu Ye.  He was a young Asian guy who had a lot of odd ticks.  He seemed nervous and took a great deal of time.  One move eight he took nearly 10 minutes, in a 45 minute game!?  He played Alekhine’s and I decided to play the Maroczy Variation.  I felt it would throw him a little off-balance.  I was comfortable if it transposed over to a King’s Indian. I found it odd that he kept moving his knight on f3 and then back.  I was surprised with his rating that his pieces were never coordinated.  At least he resigned when it was obvious I was going to win with a pawn up and a passed pawn.   One more thing, he used 42 minutes and I used 17.  Here is the game:

Parma Open Game 4
White: Randall Bott
Black: Zhaosu Ye

1. e4 Nf6 2. d3 e5 3. f4 Nc6 4. Nf3 d6 5. Be2 Be7 6. O-O O-O 7. c3 exf4 8. Bxf4 Nd7 9. d4 Nf6 10. Qc2 d5 11. Nbd2 dxe4 12. Nxe4 Nd5 13. Bd2 Nf6 14. Bd3 h6 15. Rae1 b6 16. Ng3 Re8 17. Bb5 Bd7 18. Bc4 Na5 19. Bd3 Bd6 20. Nf5 Rxe1 21. Nxe1 Bf8 22. b3 Nb7 23. Bf4 Nd6 24. Be5 Nxf5 25. Bxf5 Bxf5 26. Qxf5 Be7 27. Nd3 Qd5 28. c4 Qe4 29. Qxe4 Nxe4 30. Bxc7 1-0

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I tied for first in the U2000 with Donald McClendon and we split the prize money. I gained over 100 points in my rating and I’m a step closer to my dream of a Master rating.

Retirement is good.



The Parma Open Game 3

I was feeling pretty good.  At least I wouldn’t go home embarrassed.

The third game was very interesting as I had been studying the Scotch Gambit a great deal of the past few months and the Steinitz attack in the Petrov’s felt very much like it.  I didn’t want to play the main lines.  I felt trying to keep the pawn was a recipe for disaster and there are a lot of traps all around this opening.  I will probably fully annotate this game in a few days but here it is.

Parma Open Game 3
White: Ryan Tester
Black: Randall Bott

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. d4 exd4 4. e5 Nd5 5. Bc4 Nb6 6. Bb3 d5 7. exd6 Bxd6 8. Qxd4 O-O 9. O-O Nc6 10. Qd3 Bg4 11. Ng5 g6 12. Nc3 Bf5 13. Qf3  (At this point I saw Nxf7 and quickly saw the refutation.  That is why I quickly pushed the pawn on h6, hoping he would take the pawn on f7) 13…  h6 14. Nxf7 Rxf7 15. g4 Ne5 16. Qxb7 Nxg4 17. h3 Qh4 18. Qf3 Nh2 19. Qe2 Nxf1 20. Kxf1 Qxh3+ 21. Ke1 Qh1+ 22. Qf1 Re8+ 23. Be3 Qxf1+ 24. Kxf1 Be6 25. Bxh6 Rh7 26. Re1 Kf7 27. Bxe6+ Rxe6 28. Rxe6 Kxe6 29. Be3 c6 Plus ten more moves 0-1

The game went on another ten moves.  I felt he should resign being a rook down but he hoped that he would be able to fork my rook or other such nonsense.  I’ll probably fully annotate this in the future.

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The Parma Open Game 2

One thing that I forgot to mention was the change in time control.  All of my previous games had been sudden death games.  That means if it was game 45 phpGemZZ2if the player ran out of time in he lost.  This was no longer the case.  With the advent of digital clocks there is a time delay.  The Parma Open had a five second delay.  When the opponent hit the clock five seconds ran down before my time started.


This is a real boon for me as I play fast and could easily just play on the five seconds and never touch the real time if needed.  I will miss the excitement of seeing the flag rise preparing to fall.  Oh well, time awaits no man (For wete you well the tyde abydeth no man)

After the first game I felt pretty good.  I returned to the main hall and pulled out my set.  I met Ryan Knestrick and we played a bunch of speed games.  We hit it off and I gave him some helpful hints.  He traded pieces for no reason and had a habit of not leaving himself escape squares.

Also I found the older guy I had played in speed when I first got there.  He was annoyed at himself that he had promoted a queen in his first game, misread the clock and stalemated his opponent achieving only a half point instead of the full point he deserved.

parma open random

Soon it was time for my second game.

Again I was at table 13 (the earlier sign and table placement I think were done on purpose by the chess gods)

I sat down and lo and behold it was the older guy Richard Tiedman who was my opponent.  He played the Caro-Kann Defence and my younger self would have played the Panov-Botvinnik Attack but now I like 2. f4.  I don’t see it listed in MCO (Modern Chess Openings) but it seems strong.

The game was interesting but he blundered allowing me to fork his knight and bishop.  This was the first time I ever felt bad winning a game of chess. Plus he used most of his time and I only used six minutes.  When it was over he said, “Hiroshima had it better!”

Parma Open
Game 2
White: Randall Bott
Black: Richard Tiedman

1. e4 c6 2. f4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. Nf3 e6 5. d3 Qb6 6. c3 Nd7 7. Be2 Be7 8. b4 a5 9. bxa5 Qxa5 10. O-O c5 11. Be3 Nh6 12. Nfd2 f6 13. exf6 Bxf6 14. Nb3 Qc7 15. g4 d4 16. cxd4 cxd4 17. Bd2 Bg6 18. g5 O-O-O 19. Na3 Nc5 20. Rc1 1-0


The Parma Open Game 1

As I said I hadn’t played a serious game of chess in fifteen years although I have played a lot of chess, mostly online speed and skittles with friends.

I arrived at German Central on time and saw this ominous sign as I pulled in.  I wondered if it portended the obvious.

Parma Open ParkingI went in and paid my entrance fee and walked around.  I introduced myself to a few people and tried to get a feel for the chess world again.  I finally sat down, got out my set and pulled out a book.

An older guy came over and offered a game of speed chess.  I said sure and we played two games of five minute chess.  I won easily never using more than two of my minutes.  His name was Richard Tiedman and I think my fast play flustered him a little.

Now the pairings were up and I found my seat at table 13.

My first opponent was Jim Nicks.  His rating was 186 points higher than mine so when he played e4 I decided to play Petrov’s Defence.  I had hopes with his rating he’d play the Boden-Kieseritzy Gambit or other line but he stayed with the main line.

Since it was my first game I focused on playing solid chess.  I was very relaxed and was surprised at the length of time he took on each move.  He took minutes per move and I only used fifteen minutes for the entire game.  I’d make a move, get up, get some coffee, walk around and look at other games.  For example, this woman’s opponent didn’t show for the first game so she just sat until declared winner.

Woman at Parma Open
Mary Ann McClure

The game was a very solid Petrov’s Defence so I won’t bother to annotate it.   After thirty moves I was sure it was a draw so offered and he happily accepted.

Parma Open
Game 1
White: Jim Nicks
Black: Randall Bott

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. d4 d5 6. Bd3 Bd6 7. O-O O-O 8. c4 c6 9. Qc2 f5 10. Ne5 Qc7 11. f3 Nf6 12. Re1 g6 13. Bh6 Re8 14. Bg5 Nbd7 15. Nc3 Kg7 16. f4 Bb4 17. a3 Bxc3 18. bxc3 Ne4 19. g4 Ndf6 20. Bxf6+ Kxf6 21. g5+ Kg7 22. Rab1 Be6 23. c5 Rab8 24. Rb3 b5 25. cxb6 Rxb6 26. Rxb6 Qxb6 27. Rb1 Qc7 28. Ba6 Bc8 29. Bd3 c5 30. Kg2 c4 1/2-1/2


Game two tomorrow.







What a Weekend!

Anyone who knows me knows that chess has been a big part of my life.  I was captain of the chess team in high school, college and played on the German – American team in the nineties.  Then work and life got in the way.  I still played when I could and even ran a club out of the local library.

Last week I was considering playing in the Parma Open.  Friday night I played poker until 2am so planned on just going there and watching.  I was surprised when I awoke at 7am so I said what the hell and went.

It had been fifteen years since I had played a rated game so I had low expectations.  I sat down and was amazed at how relaxed I was at the table.

I ended up getting 3 ½ out of 4 games and winning the U2000 division.  My rating jumped up over 100 points.  I’m excited.

Parma Open

Then to top it off on Sunday I placed first in a poker tournament.  Retirement is good.



Chess and Mickey D’s

Sitting for a few hours three days a week gives me the opportunity to get some things done.  When it was nice I would sit in my truck and play banjo or guitar and when the weather turned I came inside and wrote or studied chess.  It wasn’t long before I got back to intense chess study.

Back in the 90’s I was on the German American Chess Team that played in The Cleveland Industrial Chess League.  I love playing on the team.  My score the first year was 19 1/2 – 1/2.   Although I still play chess and run a chess club I haven’t studied that much lately.  McDonald’s changed all that.

Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I’m at McDonald’s with my set and Irving Chernev’s The 1000 Best Short Games of Chess.  It’s an incredible book.  Playing through the games makes me break out in laughter and incredulity.   I’ve always been a fan of Alekhine but now I am in awe.

As I go through the games people walk by and ask, “Who’s winning?”  I usually look at the book and say, “Alekhine over Lasker, Zurich 1934”

Every once in a while someone will watch me for a while, then timidly approach me.  They tell me how they used to be really good at the game.  I invite them to play and after they sit down the always play some variation of Scholar’s Mate. I rebuke it easily and win within 20 moves.  I enjoy the conversation and it breaks up the day.

My enthusiasm for the game has returned with gusto.  I’m thinking of playing in some tournaments over the winter.  My mother has told me that she hates to waste my time, but time is never wasted.

Here is my forty year old copy of Chernev’s book.