Friday, July 08, 2005

"Oh yeah, old Abraham. I played him all the time."

I had a great night at the club and didn't even get to play a game. Steve Stoyko kept us entertained the whole night showing us some of his games, most featuring the King's Indian Attack, with which he beat some powerful players during the 80s. I will be putting together a file and web pages featuring these games as an introduction to the KIA system and will post a few PGN files in this space this weekend.

Steve constantly amazes me with the famous players he not only has met but usually has beaten over the board. He was showing me one game with the KIA and I said that it reminded me of a game I just annotated from the Lake Hopatcong tournaments, where Abraham Kupchik won with a nicely built up kingside attack (rather like what you can get out of the KIA). Steve heard the name and said, "Kupchik? Oh yeah, old Abraham. I used to play him all the time at the Flea House."

I was stunned. "You mean you played Abraham Kupchik? One of the best players in America during the 20s? A guy who regularly played, and sometimes beat or drew with, Capablanca, Marshall, and Alekhine?"

"Yeah. Abraham. I beat him plenty of times at the Flea House. He was old, but you could see that he once had a lot of power."

Playing and discussing chess at a club like Kenilworth, you are often just two or three degrees removed from the historic greats.

BTW and FYI: there is an amusing article online by Sam Sloan titled "One Evening at the Flea House." I had heard this story from others who were there (or perhaps who heard the story from NJ IM Mike Valvo himself) and they say that the man playing 5-minute chess at the Flea House that night was Najdorf. That must have been a glorious chess hangout in its day.


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