Saturday, June 28, 2008

Reubens Landey U2200 BCC Championship

The Reubens Landey round of the Boylston Chess Club championship cycle is about to begin. Club members rated under 2200, i.e. not masters, are invited to contend for the BCC U2200 Championship and entry into the BCC Championship (to which all club masters are invited.)

We urge club experts and A players to make this year's 5 round Swiss another very competitive tournament.

Dr. Jon Lee and 15 year old Adam Yeddia, winners of the first part of the cycle - the Weaver Adams Under 1800 Championship, were seeded into the Reubens Landey by virtue of their victories.

Monday, July 7, 14, 21, 28
August 4: Reubens/Landey
BCC Qualifier U2200 Championship5SS; 40/90, G/20;
Open to BCC members rated 2199-1800; EF: $25: Winner receives free entry into the BCC Championship beginning on 9/8. Registration: 6:30 to 6:50; Rounds: 7:00

Below is some context for this tournament: two biographical articles by Bernardo Iglesias and a listing of past winners.
by Bernardo Iglesias

"....Chess appeals to our emotions and brings us joys and sorrows."

Emil Reubens was born in a beautiful land very far away, in Yelisavetpol (Kirovabad) Russia, in 1886, on September 23 and, died in Massachusetts in Norwood Hospital in 1973, on August 29 after a brief illness. Emil Reubens was 86 years old when he died, an extraordinary man who believed that mankind could become rehabilitated through Chess. Chess is more than life and can change a person to benefit Society.

He was a chess master emeritus and one of the founding member of the United States Chess Federation, a member of the Boylston Chess Club, the Brockton Chess Club and his dear Sharon Chess Club.

Reubens received his formal education at the University of Prague. In 1906 he immigrated to the United States and worked for a time in steel mills in Detroit. Eventually he moved to Boston and graduated from Boston University in 1922 with a degree in business administration. Much later, in June of 1973 he received his Master's degree in business administration, he was the oldest person in the university's history to obtain such a degree at 86.

He lived in Sharon, Mass. for many years. Emil Reubens was a U.S.C.F. life director and authored a wonderful book on chess play, entitled Chess - Trick and Treat in 1965. This book is a treasure, a precious jewel for any novice player. At the end of the book he recommends that every young player should “Join a chess club. Meet chess players of differing skill and style. Subscribe to a periodical that will keep you abreast of the important events in Chess world."

In 1964, he helped to bring the U.S. Open to Boston. He was an honorary Chairman of the Committee, along with a lot of the great chess organizers of the time: Robert Goodspeed (Brockton C.C), Harold Dondis (Johnson C.C.), Eleanor Goodspeed, Eleanor Terry, Frank Ferdinand (Harvard C.C.), James Burgess (Boylston C.C. ),Harry Goober (Clarendon C.C.), Beverly Jarnigan and Joseph Hurvitz (Boylston C.C.). That year, the U.S.C.F. was celebrating the silver anniversary of its foundation, in which Emil Reubens had been a strong force in promoting chess in this country.

Emil had a long time interest in prison reform and was instrumental in assisting many prisoners get back into society. In his book, mentioned above, he thought that “When I was drafted into becoming a "leader" in youth clubs, I employed chess and chocolate bars to lead the youth into the paths of righteousness. There are no available data to estimate the effect of chess on juvenile delinquency, nor are there statistics to gauge the collateral effects of chocolate bars freely rewarded for chess merits."

Reubens combined a lifelong interest in better prisons, rehabilitation and parole systems with chess activities. He organized many teams of players who visited several penal institutions to play against teams of inmates, or just to play simultaneous exhibitions against the inmates. On one occasion, he took Steve Frymer, John Curdo, and R. Gleason to Norfolk Prison, delighting one inmate in particular so much that he became an active player and organizer in Norfolk area.

Emil Reubens loved the youth, kids of all ages, -- they are our future joys and sorrows in life. The second Brockton Open, on September 25 & 26, 1971 in Brockton, Mass. William Lombardy, former World Junior Champion, had agreed to participate in the selection and awarding of a special Lombardy - Reubens “best played game” trophy to some player under the age of 21 (Harry Lyman was present in this ceremony). The winner of the award trophy was won by the young John Peters. The third Brockton Open, on September 23 & 24,1972, the Lombardy-Reubens award trophy was won by John Stopa. For the Boylston C.C. member’s information, at this event Alex Slive and Andrew Anisimov, two new youngsters showed up in the chess arena. After this event, it seems that such award stopped being awarded by the Brockton Chess Club, since he became sick and died shortly.

The "MASS STATE JUNIOR CHESS CHALLENGE TROPHY PRESENTED BY EMIL M. REUBENS " is a silver trophy cup at the Boylston Chess Club to preserve his memory for future generations. In 1988, William Lukowiak, treasurer of the Boylston Chess Club and long time an officer on the board of MACA, introduced a motion to the Executive Board of MACA that the winner’s name of the Junior Scholastic Champion from Massachusetts be inscribed in this trophy and that MACA will help to pay for traveling expenses to the National Championship whenever it was to be held. The MACA board turned down this motion, and denied youngsters of this State such an honor.
After his death, the Mass State Chess Association, organized a one time "the Emil Reubens Memorial" at the Massachusetts Open at the new Brockton High School in 1974. The winner of this event was John Peters.

Emil founded the Steinberg-Reubens Educational Foundation. The Boylston Chess Club Board of Directors decided that in 1986 to pay tribute to Emil Reubens and Ben Landey by naming a qualifier cycle of the B.C.C. championship qualifier in their honor, for players rated 1800 to 2199. The winners of the Reubens/Landy move on to play against the club’s masters for the club championship.

by Bernardo Iglesias

Benjamin Landey was born in 1912 and died on January 20, 1981 in Quincy. From his high school days he worked for the Sharon Bolt and Screw Company founded by Emil Reubens, reaching the position of board chairman, which he held at his death. According to Harry Lyman, Benjamin married Reubens’ daughter.

For many years, he was the ceremonial chess leader of New England: Landey was President of the MSCA, the Boylston Chess Club, the Boston Metropolitan Chess League, the New England Chess Association, and the USCF Regional Vice-President.

He was a truly regional chess entrepreneur, a notable chess organizer, a man of remarkable poise and intelligence, a master of parliamentary procedure and a skillful politician, that is, a leader among leaders in the region. He worked for long hours at his job and then spend evenings and weekends on numerous chess projects and clubs.

While Ben Landey was a tournament director for M.S.C.A., he brought to Boston the U.S. Open in 1970 and the U.S. Junior Open in 1965 and 1969, held at Northeastern University. Ben Landey's most active years were from 1965 to 1970; after this year his health impeded more time in his passion for the royal game of chess. Despite his failing health, he was an extremely successful teacher of chess for beginners, though he himself was rated only about 1500 during most of his over the board career; he also, worked with the Massachusetts Association for Retarded Citizens and several local groups.

Along with Emil Reubens, Landey was a major sponsor of prison chess programs, and the two of them sought the parole of a number of inmates who were avid chess players. In addition to being a regular tournament player, Ben Landey was very active in postal chess with the Nights of the Square Table (NOST).

Landey was the first person to compete with a computer in chess at a U.S. Chess Federation rated tournament. He lost.

Landey’s most glorious moment in the spotlight as an organizer was winning the bid for the 1970 US Open for Boston. It was Ben Landey’s rhetoric that easily won the bid at the 1969 U.S.C.F. meeting in Lincoln, Nebraska. It was unfortunate that the then M.S.C.A. was not ready to host such a major event. The host site, Boston's Parker House, was a less than welcoming host, and a great number of participants complained about the space designated for the playing room, that the light was not good enough for many, etc. Also, Ben Landey got sick a few months before the event along with his co-organizer Lewis Icenogle. It was not Landey's shining hour. `

Ben was treasurer of the Greater Boston Committee of the U.S. Peace Council, past President of the South Shore Assn. for Retarded Citizens. He was the President of the Boylston Chess Club at the time of his death.

After his death in 1981, M.A.C.A. organized a memorial tournament at the Mass. Open in April; the winner of this tournament was the young James Rizzitano in North Darmouth.

The Boylston Chess Club has honored Ben Landey since 1986, when the Board of Directors dedicated a qualifier tournament to those members of the club rated 1800 to 2199 plus the winners of the Weaver Adam's; the winner to participate in the fall championship. His memory will endure for ever at the Boylston Chess Club along with that of Emil Reubens.
Gregory Kaden, 2007

Brian Salomon
Kenneth Newman, Carey Theil
Simon Warfield
Edward Astrachan
Simon Warfield
Edward Astrachan, Kimani Stancil
Simon Warfield
Daniel J. Woods
Paul Mishkin
Robert Armes
Larry Schmitt
Miguel Angel Santana
Alex Slive
Timur Feinstein
Daniel J. Woods
Larry Schmitt
Alex Slive
Thomas Durnan
Thomas Durnan
Harold Dean Lawton
Charlie Mays
, 1986 1st BCC Reubens Landey U2200 champion

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

New York International

FM Paul MacIntyre and NM Chris Williams of the Boylston Club played in the very strong New York International at the historic Marshall Chess Club. Paul finished with 5 points in the 9 round Swiss, including a draw with IM Jay Bonin pictured here in the photo by Larry Price. Chris Williams scored 3 1/2.

Chris Bird posted a nice bunch of photos from the event as well.

Weaver Adams 2008 Winners Move on to the Ruebens Landey

2008 Weaver Adams

The month of June is coming to a close and the traditional first phase of the BCFchampionship the Weaver Adams has come to a close. A hard fought four round event was co-won by Jonathan Lee and Adam Yedida (age 15)
tied for first with 3.5 points winning U1800 BCC Championship.

Jonathan Lee took the lead by winning three games in a row but drew in round four, unable to break through Ken Ho's super solid black defensive Ruy formation - Ken having knights on c6 and e7. 2008
Meanwhile Adam Yedidia out maneuvered Mike Griffin in a strategic French battle to win in round four catching up to Lee.

The usual band of WA contestant's Ed Foye, Bob Oresick, Tony Cortizas, Ted Gorczyca were complemented with the addition of Seth Lieberman, Nicholas Lesieur, Tom Pendergast, along with the very solid Khikmet Sadykov.

The new Weaver Adam's trophy was unveiled and presented by director Mike Griffin playing "Take me out to the ballgame" by blowing into said trophy. The trophy will be retired to the WA trophy archive with Jonathan and Adam's names attached as the 2008 winners.

Jonathan and Adam will move up having free entry into the Reubens/Landey BCC Qualifier U2200 Championship beginning 7/7. We wish them great success.


12742928 1 LEE, JONATHAN MAR MA 1787* 1818* W--10 W---6 W---5 D---3 3.5
12871990 2 YEDIDIA, ADAM MA 1746* 1779* D---3 W---8 W--10 W---5 3.5
12436950 3 HO, KENNETH MA 1700* 1742* D---2 W--12 W---6 D---1 3.0
13897647 4 SADYKOV, KHIKMET MA 1498/11 1619/15 W---7 L---5 W---8 W---9 3.0
10017793 5 GRIFFIN, MIKE MA 1769* 1758* W---9 W---4 L---1 L---2 2.0
13246294 6 LESIEUR, NICHOLAS MA 1646* 1630* W--11 L---1 L---3 X---0 2.0
12378850 7 CORTIZAS, ANTHONY MA 1551* 1542* L---4 L---9 W--12 W--11 2.0
12642210 8 GORCZYCA, THADDEU MA 1374* 1401* W--12 L---2 L---4 B---0 2.0
12659519 9 ORESICK, ROBERT J MA 1512* 1511* L---5 W---7 H---0 L---4 1.5
12604895 10 LIEBERMAN, SETH MA 1603* 1591* L---1 W--11 L---2 F---0 1.0
13869178 11 PENDERGAST, THOMA MA 1237/14 1220/17 L---6 L--10 B---0 L---7 1.0
12888390 12 FOYE, EDWARD FRAN MA 1659* 1606* L---8 L---3 L---7 U---0 0.0

Chess was invented in India

The Indian Defense

Illustration for TIME by Scott Menchin

Where did chess begin? For many who play the sport at its highest, most obsessive levels, that's not just a question of history — it's a matter of ownership, of dominion. We're so completely lost in our universe of 64 black and white squares that we like to think every move we make changes the way the world exists. So it's easy for Russians to imagine that chess began when they started to play it. In 1991, at my first international tournament, in Reggio Emilia in northern Italy, a Russian grandmaster condescendingly told me I could at best be a coffee-house player because I had not been tutored in the Soviet school of chess, which then dominated the sport. With the arrogance of youth — I was 21 — I thought to myself, "But didn't we Indians invent chess? Why shouldn't I have my own route to the top of the sport?"

It would take me 17 years to find that route, and along the way I've had hundreds of conversations about the origins of chess — with players, fans, officials, taxi drivers, barbers and who knows how many people who sat next to me on a plane. I've heard the ownership of chess being claimed by Russians, Chinese, Ukrainians, Arabs, Iranians, Turks, Spaniards and Greeks. My own view is that the sport belongs to everybody who plays it, but the question of its origins is easy enough to answer: chess comes from India.

Our claim is based not on dominance — although the Indian school is now producing lots of high-quality players, including (ahem) the world No. 1. Some of the oldest references to the sport are found in ancient Indian texts. In the great epic Ramayana (which, according to some sources, was orally transmitted sometime between 750 B.C. and 500 B.C.), the demon king Ravana invents chess to amuse his wife Mandodari. A brilliant mind, she promptly beats him at it. My grandmother told me that story when I first began to play the game at age 6. Chess also features in the Arthashastra (3rd century B.C.), perhaps the world's oldest political treatise. Its author, Chanakya, describes chess as a game of war strategy, known as chaturanga, played on an 8-by-8 board. Think of it as the world's first virtual war game.

I believe chess traveled westward out of India, through what is now Afghanistan into Persia, where it arrived during the Sassanid Empire — an Indian king is believed to have sent a chessboard as a gift to his Persian counterpart. At the royal court in Ctesiphon, the game was known as chatrang. The Arabs learned it (they called it shatranj) when they conquered Persia in the 6th century A.D. and carried it across northern Africa. They introduced the game to Europe when the Moors crossed the Mediterranean into the Iberian peninsula. It grew immensely popular in Moorish Spain, where it was played in the street — a practice still seen in parks and other squares in cities around the world.

Iberia underwent a major change after the 15th century reconquista by Catholic forces led by Queen Isabella I — and chess changed, too. On the board, the queen became the most important piece; the bishop replaced the camel and flanked the king and queen. (Modern chess is still played by rules formalized under Isabella's reign.) Around this time, the Spanish player Luis RamÍrez de Lucena wrote what may have been the first book about chess theory — the Lucena Position remains to this day the cornerstone of rook and pawn endings.

Ironically, Russia may have been one of the last places in the Old World to receive chess, likely through the Volga trade route. It became popular there during the reign of Peter the Great. The late introduction didn't stop the Russians from becoming the game's superpower, though, and it wasn't until 2000 that an Indian — yours truly — finally brought the title of world chess champion back to the land of the sport's birth.

I like to think that the arc of my own career has in some ways mirrored the journey of chess. I learned to play in India, then moved to Spain so I could play the European circuit, and won my first world championship in Iran. It's nice when your place in chess history has something to do with the bigger picture.

Viswanathan Anand, 39, is an Indian chess grandmaster and the current world chess champion

Chess was invented in Iran


CHESS; Iranian or Indian Invention?

(fig. 1) Seven pieces set, ivory, dated CE 762

(fig. 2) A Knight chess-piece (7th c. CE) from Afrasiab

(fig. 3) Elephant and Bull (or Knight or Vizier ?), ivory , dated as early as 2nd c., found at Dalverzin-Tepe. Their use is unknown, some scholars think they can be game pieces

(fig. 4) A Rukh piece found in Ferghana

8th to 10th c.

(fig. 5) Elephant in carved dolomite-stone

circa 7th c.

(fig. 6) A Rukh from Nishapur

9th c.

(fig. 7) Fragment of a Chess piece, probably the head of a King, found at Afrasiab, ivory

7th-8th c.

(fig. 8) Vazir (Bishop), found in Saqqizabad,

Iran 7th to 8th c.

(fig. 9) Rock crystal CE 800 (possibly chess pieces) found at Basra

Chess_Players_of_Haft_Awrang.jpg (27741 bytes)

(fig. 10) Jami's 15th century Persian manuscript of Haft Awrang depicting two Persian chess players.

Radha Krishna Playing Chess.jpg (43022 bytes)

(fig. 11) An Indian manuscript depicting Krishna and Radha playing chaturanga on an 8x8 Ashtāpada

Achaemenid backgammon_dices.jpg (12073 bytes)

(fig. 12) A pair of Achaemenid dices from Dahan-e Gholaman

The Origin of Chess

Chess is one of humanities popular pastimes and has been described not only as a game, but also as an art, a science and a sport. Chess is sometimes seen as an abstract war-game – as a ‘mental martial art’ – and teaching and playing chess have been advocated as a way of enhancing mental prowess.

It is very unlikely that Chess, almost as it is played today, suddenly came into existence or invented by one person. The idea of it being a combination of elements from other board-games has merit. Since almost all known board games have religious backgrounds the astrological component is entirely possible, even though one prefers the version that all elements come from other games, as the basis for the counters. Iran as the area of origin is highly possible, especially because of the two excavated debated pieces from the second century CE, which were found in the area of the Iranian cultural realm.

However, "chess is an ancient game which is first mentioned in documents dating back to the early years of the seventh century A.D. and associated with North West India and Persia. Before the seventh century of our era, the existence of chess in any land is not demonstrable by a single shred of contemporary evidence" (Fiske, the Nation).

Claiming the glory

Various scholars have proposed various origins for chess: Bidev states that “chess comes from China”, while Samsin suggests that there was hybridisation of Eastern and Western games in the post Alexander kingdom of Bactria in c180-50BCE. Josten is geographically between the two of them, favouring the Kushan empire in ca. 50BCE – 200CE.

However, possibly the strongest – or perhaps most vociferous – arguments have come from those who consider that chess originated in the Indian subcontinent in around 600CE. This view was propagated by Murray and van der Linde in the late 19th – early 20th centuries, and has subsequently been supported by Averbak.

This brief paper examines some etymological, literary and archaeological evidence for the Iranian origin of chess – and so suggests that the question of the origin of the famous game is still unanswered.

Etymological evidence

Various names have been, and are now, used for chess-like games. Chaturanga, for example, is a chess-like game, but it is played on an eight by eight board (rather than the modern chess twelve by twelve board) and it uses slightly different pieces and rules to those in the modern game. It has been suggested to be a proto-game for chess, of Indian origin.

The word chaturanga means ‘quadripartite’ or ‘army’. This reflects the four components in Vedic army platoons, which are themselves reflected in the types of pieces used in the game. Ricardo Calvo notes that the first unmistakeable reference to the game of chaturanga is in the Harschascharita by the court poet Bina, writing between 625 and 640CE. The word’s early literary use and its origin in the ancient language of Sanskrit have been suggested to provide supporting evidence for the Indian origin of chess. Murray specifically suggested that the Pahlavi word chatrang – used for a game equivalent to the current chess – was derived from chaturanga.

However, one of the most etymological evidences can be identified in the terminology of chess pieces which are Persian such as Rook.

Rook which is a Western derivative of Rukh is another term for Iranian mythical bird Sên-Murv (Persian) Simurgh. In Irnaian literature (Avestan) Sên-Murv identified as Homâ and in Arabic introduced as Rukh. The Simurgh or Rukh, was depicted as a winged gigantic creature in the shape of a bird, that could carry an elephant or a camel. The functionality of the Rook piece in game of chess and its iconography in Iranian world is quite significant. The bird which Iranian believed imparted fertility to the land and the union between the earth and the sky. In India, the piece is more popularly called haathi, meaning "elephant".

Another hint is the nomenclature of the pieces, persistently related to different sorts of animals rather than to components of an army: In the "Grande Acedrex" of King Alfonso of Castile (1283) lions, crocodiles, giraffes etc. play over a board of 12x12 cases with peculiar jumping moves, and the invention of it is connected to the same remote period in India as normal chess. They are very atypical in any context referring to India (De Gruyter, p.).

Other chess terminologies are also deeply rooted in Persian language, such as “checkmate” (the English rendition of shāh māt, which is Persian for "the king is frozen") as well as “bishop” and “queen” pieces.

"Bishop" chess piece which is a western innovation, derived from the elephant, most likely in the 15th century - it is from the Persian pīl meaning "the elephant". In Europe and the western part of the Islamic world people knew little or nothing about elephants, and the name of the chessman entered Western Europe as Latin alfinus and similar, a word with no other meaning.

This word "alfil" is in fact is an Arabic loanword from Persian pīl < fil , and in turn the Spanish word alfil would most certainly have been taken from Arabic. Chess was introduced into Spain by Ali ibn-Nafi the famous Persian poet, musician and singer (also known as Zaryāb or Ziryab, “gold finder”) in the 9th century – it is described in a famous Libro de los juegos the 13th century manuscript covering chess, backgammon, and dice.

Some argue that since one of the pieces are being referred to as "elephant", must of an Indian origin - on the other hand, elephants are not at all exclusive to India (Gowers, p.173 ff; Walbank, p. 205-6.). However, Iranians were the first nation that introduced cavalry and they had also foot-soldiers, chariots and elephants as well as river and battle-ships. In Egypt, the Ptolemaic Kings obtained elephants regularly from Somalia. Strabo (16,4,5) mentions the foundation of several cities in Africa with the main purpose of hunting elephants (Gowers, p.173 ff; Walbank, p. 205-6.). The English name "bishop" is a rename inspired by the conventional shape of the piece.

The chess piece known as "queen" is (Persian) farzīn also vizier. It became (Arabic) firzān, which entered western European languages as forms such as alfferza, fers, etc – then later it was replaced by "queen" - possibly brought to West by British during the British rule of India; aince the Indian equivalent of "queen" is rani.

Historical and Literary Evidence
Pre-Islamic written references to Chess or its development have all point out to it Iranian origin, in particular to two Persian records of about 600CE. These documents have solidly connected chess with the last period of the Sasanian rulers in Iran (224-651 CE).

The "Karnamak-ī Ardeshīr-ī Pāpakān" (the Book of Deeds of Ardeshir-e Pāpakān), an epical treatise about the founder of Sasanian dynasty, mentions the game of "chatrang" as one of the cultural accomplishments of the Ardeshir as a young prince. It has a proving force that a game under this name was popular in the period of redaction of the text, supposedly during the reign of Khosrow II, Parviz (r. 590-628 CE) - the work could have been composed as early as 260 CE.

The third and final Pahlavi text is known as Khūsraw ud Rēdag (Khosrow and the Page). It mentiones together with other games in chapter 15 of the (ud pad Čatrang ud new-ardaxšî r ud haštpay kardan az hamahlan fraztar hom "and in playing Chess, backgammon and the hashtpay, I am superior to my comrades" (Unvala, p. 16; Monchi-Zadeh, 1982, p. 65; Panaino, 1999, p. 51). It seems the story was taken place at the court of Khosrow I, Anūshakrūwān (Immortal Soul - r. 488–531 CE) and states that chess is one of the cultural disciplines that a noble should learn.

Ferdowsi the greatest of Iranian epic-poets wrote also about it in the 10th century, but his sources are solid and form a continuous chain of witnesses going back to the middle of the 6th Century in Iran. He describes chess as arriving from Hind. According to Iranian historical sources this name "Hind" was not used for India until after the 11th century. Here "Hind" means Eastern-Province of Iranian Empire including modern Sistan and Baluchistan, and while during the Achaemenid times it was extended to Khuzestan province.

As Bidev, the Russian chess historian pointed out, nobody could possibly generate the rules of chess only by studying the array position at the beginning of a game. On the other hand, such an achievement might be made by looking at Takht-ī Nard (backgammon), which is another Iranian game-invention - the use of dice also favours its Iranian origin. The world oldest pair of dice was discovered in Dahān-e Gholāmān located in in southeastern Iranian province of Sistan, which date back to Achaemenid period (fig. 12.).

Archaeological Evidence

The oldest clearly recognizable chessmen have been excavated in ancient Afrasiyab (ancient Samarkand), in Iranian cultural domains contrasts with the absence of such items in India. Afrasiab was under thy Islamic rule since 712, but were essential a Persianate land and society by origin. Some other old pieces, possibly Chess pieces, are the occasionally named chess pieces of an elephant and a zebu bull kept in Tashkent. They were excavated in 1972 at Dalverzin-Tepe (fig. 3), an ancient citadel now in Southern Uzbekistan, and stem from the 2nd century. The Russian Chess history expert Linder feels that they are not Chess pieces, but belonged to a forerunner of Chess. They could mean an earlier than previously assumed existence of Chess.

However, there are no chessmen there from early times in India, and only in the 10th century appears an indirect mention from al-Mas’udi: "The use of ivory (in India) is mainly directed to the carving of chess- and nard pieces". Some experts believe that old Indian chess pieces may be discovered one day! So far, this is mere speculation.

Next group of chess pieces (three chessmen) comes from. In Nishapur (fig. 6) another ivory set was discovered though belonging to later times, 9th or 10th century. These are not idols anymore and are carved following the abstract pattern which has been characterized as "Arabic".

Introduction of Chess into India by Muslims
Games upon the "ashtapada" board of 8x8, with dice and with two or more players may have served as "proto-chess", but the two types of games already differ too strongly in their nature and philosophy to make the evolution of "Chaturanga" into "Shatransh" a simple question of direct parentage via the Persian "Chatrang".

Muslim writers stated quite frequently that they took the game of "shatranj/sh" from the Iranians, who called it "chatrang". This happens in the middle of a political-cultural revolution, which has been analysed in historical texts.

The ruling Umayyad dynasty was overthrown by a certain Abul-Abbas, who initiated a new era around the year 750 - transferring the Islamic political centre from Damascus to former Iranian territory and Baghdad, which still was under Iranian cultural influence. The Abbasid dynasty was culturally and quasi ethnically of Iranian origin - so Iranian dominance became clearly the focal point in the cultural renaissance which took place inside the Arabic trunk. Large number of the previous knowledge from ancient Iran, Greece, Byzantium, Egyptian and Middle East civilizations was compiled and translated into Arabic. The new information absorbed in a scientific body which followed its further path towards the West. Chess was only a part of this knowledge, packaged together with earlier mathematical, astronomical, philosophical or medical achievements.

However, we know that while chess flourished in Baghdad in the 9th century, the earliest reliable account of chess-playing in India date only from the 11th century.


J. M. Unvala, The Pahlavi Text "King Husrav and his Boy," published with its Transcription, translation and copious notes, Paris, n.d.

Ricardo Calvo; Origin of Chess (

De Gruyter, "Hasb" in The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Leyden-New York (1967).

William Gowers, "African Elephants and Ancient Authors", African Affairs, 47 (1948) p.173 ff.

D. W. Fiske, The Nation, 1900.

Frank W. Walbank, "Die Hellenistische Welt", DTV 1983 p. 205-6.

Harold J.R. Murray, A History of Board-games Other Than Chess, Oxford University Press Reprints (1952).

D. Monchi-Zadeh, "Xus-rôv i Kavâtân ut Rêtak," in Monumentum Georg Morgenstierne, vol. II. Acta Iranica 22, Leiden, 1982, pp. 47-91.

H. J. R. Murray, A History of Chess, Oxford University Press Reprints (1913).

N. Bland, On the Persian Game of Chess, JRAS 13, 1852, pp. 1-69

Henry A. Davidson, A Short History of Chess, David Mckay Co (1980)

Abu Rayhan Biruni, Ketāb tahqīq mā le’l-Hend, Alberuni’s India, 2 vols., London 1888-1910, I, pp.183-85

Panaino, A., La novella degli Scacchi e della Tavola Reale. Un'antica fonte orientale sui due gixochi da tavoliere piuà diffusi nel mondo euroasiatico tra Tardoantico e Medioevo e sulla loro simbologia militare e astrale. Testo pahlavi, traduzione e commento al Wiz-arišn î Chatrang ud nihišn î new-ardaxšî r "La spiegazione degli scacchi e la disposizione della tavola reale," Milano, 1999.

Harry Golombek, Chess: A History, Putnam Pub Group (1976).

Ann C. Gunter, Art from Wisdom: The Invention of Chess and Backgammon, Oxford University Press (1991)

Thieme, “Chess and Backgammon (Tric-Trac) in Sanskrit Literature,” Indological Studies in Honor of W. Norman Brown, ed. E. Bender, New Haven Connecticut (1962)

Raymond D. Keene, Chess: An Illustrated History, Simon & Schuster (1990).

David H. Li, Who? Where? When? Why? How? The Genealogy of Chess (

Abul Qasem Ferdowsi, The Shahnameh: (The Book of Kings): 5 (Vol 5) (Persian Text Series. New Series, No 1), Edited by Djalal Khaleghi-Motlagh, Mazda Publisher (1997).

I. M. Linder, The Art of Chess Pieces, Moscow, 1994.

Alfred L. Paul, “The Origin of Chess”, Western Chess Chronicle Vol. 1 July, 1936 No. 9 (

Sam Sloan, The Origin of Chess, Sloan Publishers (1985)

C.J. Brunner, "The Middle Persian Explanation of Chess and Invention of Backgammon," The Journal of the Ancient Near Eastern Society of Columbia University, Vol. 10 (1978)

A. van der Linde, Geschichte und Literatur des Schachpiels (1874)

David Levy, Oxford Encyclopaedia of Chess Games, Oxford University Press (1981)

David Smith, Ratnakara's "Haravijaya" (Oxford University South Asian Studies Series), OUP India (1986)

Top of Page

'Shapour Suren-Pahlav' is an Iranian Archaeologists, Iranologist and historian. He has studied his B.A. in Art and Archaeology, combined with ancient Iranian languages (Avestan and Middle Persian/Pahlavi), at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, under supervision of renowned British linguist, Professor Nicholas Sims-Williams. He then completed his M.A. in the Art and Archaeology, at the same university. He is specialized in the art and archaeology of pre-Islamic Iran.

Suren-Pahlav, except his native tongues Persian and Zoroastrian-Dari, also speaks English, Italian and a working understanding of Arabic, Turkish and German.

Suren-Pahlav is the co-founder of 'The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies' (CAIS), and currently is the programme director of CAIS.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Thursday Night Swiss-- Guaranteed Prizes, free entry to masters

At the last board meeting of the Boylston Chess Foundation, we voted on some changes to our Thursday Night Swiss format for July and August. Note: these will be updated on the website listing soon.


GUARANTEED Minimum Prize Fund Open and U1800 sections

$100 1st Place
$50 2nd Place
(Higher prizes based on entries)

GUARANTEED U1800 Section (If a minimum of 4 players)
$50 1st Place

July Thursday Night Swiss
When: July 10, 17, 24, 31

August Thursday Night Swiss
When: August 7, 14, 21, 28

Format: 4 Round Swiss
Time Control: 40 moves in 90 minutes, SD 20
Entry Fee: $27, $17 to BCF members, Masters FREE
Registration: 6:30 to 6:55 Round 7PM

Boylston Chess Club: 240 Elm St. Suite B9, Somerville, MA 02144
Phone: (617) 629-3933

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Recent Results at the Boylston Chess Club

June 11 Quick Quads

Lawyer Times demonstrated why one should never count out masters who may temporarily dip below 2200-- He won the Wed Night Quick Quad with 2.5. Scroll ahead and you will see Lawyer's name a bunch this month.

June 14th Fiesta Open

IM David Vigorito had been scarcely seen at the Boylston Chess Club since March, but he returned to the top by wiping up the sparsely attended June 14th Open with a 4.0 score. Lawyer Times took clear 2nd with a 3.0 score, including a win over master Chris Chase.

June 18th Rapid Quads

IM Vigorito and master Lawyer Times shared first place with a 2.0 score in a strong all master quad. Carey Theil took first in the other section, a swiss of 6 players.

June 21st BCF Somerville Open

Lawyer Times, clearly in sharp form, went 4.0 over a strong field that included three masters and six experts. Lawyer has now taken 1st or 2nd in the last four BCF events.

YOU should stop by for the upcoming Wed., Thursday, or weekend club events. Can YOU unseat Lawyer's run of top finishes?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Lyman, Chess Team Need Funds for World Tourney

Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose

Lyman, Chess Team Need Funds for World Tourney
Sweden Bound?
from the Harvard Crimson
Published On Thursday, March 15, 1956 12:00 AM

Travel expenses of $2500 are needed if Shelby Lyman '59 and three other American college chess players are going to enter the third World Student Chess Championships at Upsala, Sweden, next month.

Lyman, however, on contacting the Dept. of Athletics, was told that no funds were available for chess. The only contribution from Harvard so far is a small donation for the Chess Club.

Half of the necessary sum has been pledged and the colleges attended by the other three members of the team have managed to raise nearly $1000 between them, leaving a small gap before the goal is reached. The sponsors of the team the Intercollegiate Chess League, had counted on the University to fill the gap.

"Sports Illustrated" has called Lyman a "brilliant but uneven player who has a disconcerting habit of jumping up after he has made a move, as though he had to catch a train." He comes from a Dorchester family that is famous for defeating world masters when they come to Boston on tour.

Lyman is one of the top players at the Boylston Chess Club in Boston and has played for the Club in its matches with rival chess clubs throughout the country.


This marks the first time that a team from the United States has entered the tournament, the Olympics of chess. The meet is sponsored by the International Students Association, a communist organization, with the Swedish Chess Federation and the International Chess Federation as co-sponsors.

Teams from fifteen nations will compete in the Championships, including several from countries behind the Iron Curtain, led by the defending champions from the Soviet Union. Other nations represented will include Hungary, Rumania, East and West Germany, Czechoslovakia, and the Netherlands.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sunday Scholastics June 22

Come play in the

Sunday Scholastics

The Boylston Chess Foundation *
Event Location:
Boylston Chess Club. 240B Elm Street, Suite B9, Somerville, MA 02144 [ Click Here for Direction ]
Event Date:
Sunday, 6/22/2008
Time Control:
4SS; Game/30.
Rounds Time:
10:00 - 11:00 - 12:30 - 1:30
Prize Info:
Trophies to top two in each section .
Phone: (617) 629-3933 E-mail:
Event URL:
USCF membership required. **

The Spassky Bishop: Special piece roles and characteristics

In the mid 70's I poured over all the Boris Spassky's games I could find, and noticed the repeating pattern with white used by Spassky when using his dark squared (king side) Bishop. This bishop would eventually get on the c2-h7 diagonal and deliver the knock out. In the Ruy it would travel from f1 to b5, to a4, to c2. And somehow whether the opening was Queen's Gambit, or Torre, or whatever, this bishop, many times in coordination with the Queen, would slide into his killing field. This got me to describing any bishop on, or destined to be on, the c2-h7 diagonal as "the Spassky bishop".

This got me to nicknaming specially applied roles that a piece might be executing: another term I coined was the "Bismarck Queen". This is a queen that strikes out alone, usually into the wide Pacific of the queenside to go raiding unescorted pawns. Usually while I'm defending an attack on my kingside, taking the risk that my king is the extra piece that will help in defending enough.

Then there is the "Botvinnik Queen", she sits on c7 anchoring a French defense.

The "Fischer Bishop" with white on c4.

The "Lasker Rook" is lifted somewhere to the middle of the board earlier than most would ever consider such a move.

The "Steinitz bishop" mysteriously moves backwards to the first rank.

The "Duncan Suttles Knight" first moves to the a or h file and then hops to the second or seventh depending on the color , typically the f file,. Could also be called the "Didham Knight".

"Ivanov Pawns": it's amazing how often Ivanov gets hanging pawns on the sixth and seventh ranks.

The "Dondis Pawn": Harold is ever attentive of, and is really tough, when he manages to have a little fellow streaking up the board to the finish line.

Can you think of other special named pieces?

Please comment. Mike Griffin 06/17/2008

Monday, June 09, 2008

Ed Lafferty

We are sorry to say we just learned that Ed Lafferty died from lung cancer last Thursday.

Edward Cary Lafferty 1957 - 2008

EveryDay Ed will not be here at today's BCF tourney.

Ed Lafferty arrived just in time to enter St Peter's Open. Being new he was paired to face Bobby Fischer on board one. Ed with black defeated Bobby with his Philidor defense in 56 moves.

Everyone in heaven has a 3300 rating, the same theoretical understanding, and due to a special ruling allowing for imperfection, games can be won, lost, or drawn. Every game played is the greatest to that point in time.

Jack Martin bestowed the name "EveryDay Ed" because there was a time when if there was a chess tournament in Eastern Mass, Ed was there. Edward Lafferty played in so many tournaments that in the years that the Mass Grand Prix contest was in play Ed was a frontrunner.

The Ivanov's and Curdo's got 80% positive results but Ed had to earn every point one at a time. Still he was always in the lead pack.

Ed had a period in his life when he howled at the moon; chess was one of the things that gave him stability, motivation, and joy in a sometimes difficult life.

Ed and I share June 23 as our birthday although Ed was born in 1957 (myself in 1952). He got great joy when we wished each other a happy birthday.

Ed having been a varsity soccer player for U Mass Amherst (and a chemistry major), I unknowingly saw him play in the 70's against my Westfield State several times.

About five years back Ed played a memorable game against Alexander Paphitis where, from a position that looked like all the pieces were shot gunned onto the board in a random type of chess, Ed reeled combination after combination off to destroy Alexander's position. Definitely one of Ed's best.

Until we meet again EveryDay, Safe Journey.

06/10/2008 Mike Griffin


Lafferty, Edward Cary

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51, of Waltham, formerly of Newton, died on June 5, 2008.

He was the beloved son of Edward L. and Margot A. (Footer) Lafferty. Devoted brother of Michael J. Lafferty, and his wife Alcira, and Jeffrey P. Lafferty and his wife Celia. Loving uncle of Julia, Patrick, Rebecca, and Emily Lafferty.

He worked at the Fessenden School, where he had many friends, and also spent many happy hours at the Elliot House.

A member of the Boston Chess Club, he enjoyed playing chess and participated in many national tournaments.

A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Monday, June 9, at 10:30 AM in Mary Immaculate of Lourdes Church, 270 Elliot Street, Newton.

A visitation as held on Sunday, June 8, from 2-4 PM at J. S. Waterman & Sons-Waring Funeral Service, 592 Washington Street, WELLESLEY.

Interment was private in Newton Cemetery, Newton.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in memory of Edward C. Lafferty to the National Alliance of the Mentally Ill, P.O. Box 759155, Baltimore, MD 21275-9155

or to the

American Cancer Society, P.O. Box 22718, Oklahoma City, OK 73123-1718.

J.S. Waterman & Son-Waring Wellesley 781-235-4110

Published in the Boston Globe on 6/7/2008.

Recent Boylston Chess Club Results

Lots of action at the chess club! A new Chris is dominating the winner's circle this past month.

May 14 rapid quads

Expert Andrew Tichenor grabbed first place in the Rapid quad turned swiss.

May 17th Efim Bogoljubow Open

Chris Chase scored an impressive 3.5 over a field that included SEVEN masters. His only draw was against Bill Kelleher, who shared second with masters Chris Williams and Eric Godin. As we shall see, Chris Williams doesn't stay in second place for long.

May Thursday Night Swiss

Zaroug Jaleel improved 60 rating points in one event with his 4.0 sweep of the pretty evenly matched Thursday Night field. He puts himself in position to make the climb to expert now.

May 28th Rapid Quads

The now weekly Wednesday Night rapid quads are a breeding ground for some fun but crazy chess. Three rated games in an evening is not to be missed!

Chris Williams took the pole position over Chris Chase in the top quad, while Adam Yedidia won the 2nd quad with 2.5 out of 3. Is this the start of the reign of Chris the Second, or just a temporary blip in the BCC status quo?

May 31st Open

Another strong field of 4 masters and 5 experts showed up. Chris Williams, honing his skills on the Rapid Quads, went 4.0 to take clear first place.

June 4 Rapid Quads

Chris Williams took the top quad with 2.5. In the second quad, Seth Lieberman improved 90(!) rating points with his 3.0 win over the field. I had mentioned Seth's rapid improvement last month, but this, combined with his win in the quads (see below), now put him over 1600. Great improvement Seth! This reporter remembers his lucky last minute escape against Seth in their last encounter, so I suspect 1600 is only a rest stop on the way to even more improvement.

June 8th Quads

Chris Williams claimed first with 2.5/3. Embert Lin took the second quad. Adam Yedidia beat the 3rd quad, and Seth Lieberman broke the 1600 barrier with a victory in the 4th quad.

If you attended these events, please share your personal notes and observations in the comment section.

BCC Quads 8-6

The June Quads last Saturday was the cool spot to be. The winners were:

Quad 1 - Chris Williamswon in a strong quad:

(Chris Chase, Ben Goldberg, Neil Cousin )

Quad 2 - Embert Lin

Quad 3 - Adam Yedidia & Mark Kaprielian

Quad 4 - Seth Lieberman