Thursday, December 29, 2005

Bisguier-Sherwin, New York (Rosenwald) 1955


Can Black play 5...Qxb2?

I visited FM Steve Stoyko the other day and rummaged through his library, where I stumbled across Larry Evans's wonderful little book Trophy Chess: An Account of the Lessing Rosenwald Tournament, New York, 1954-1955 (New York: Scribners 1956). The tournament featured all of the pre-Fischer greats, including (in order of their finish) Sammy Reshevsky, Larry M. Evans, Art Bisguier, Donald Byrne, Jimmy Sherwin, and George Kramer in a double round-robin. Evans does a very nice job of annotating the 30 games.

Bisguier-Sherwin, New York 1955, which features a wonderful demonstration of why three pieces are often superior to a Queen, stood out from the rest. The opening, a Torre Attack, was also of interest and I have given detailed notes on that stage (which bears comparison to Torre Plays the Torre at Moscow 1925 and Torre-Saemisch, Moscow 1925). In the diagram above, the question is whether or not Black can get away with 5...Qxb2, and the answer to that question still seems rather important to the theory of this line. I think that the game gives a pretty good answer, so I am surprised not to have seen it discussed outside of Evans's marvelous little tournament book.

A note in passing: the Rosenwald Tournament, like a number of later events bearing that name, was made possible through the generosity of (to quote Evans's introduction) "a small, unselfish band of chess connoisseurs--like Alexander Bisno, Jose Calderon, Maurice Kasper, and Lessing Rosenwald" who had formed The American Chess Foundation to help advance the game in the U.S. I have not seen it argued by any chess historians, but I think there can be little doubt that the Rosenwald events helped create the environment that nurtured Bobby Fischer (witness D. Byrne - Fischer, New York 1956). It would be nice to see more done to cultivate that environment again through chess philanthropy and I will likely return to that subject in the context of discussing "chess as art" (rather than as sport), which I've been mulling since a previous post on why chess is not like poker.


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