Chess Trivia

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Aaron, Manual (1935- )
First International Master (1961) from India. He was born in Toungoo, Burma and became an International Arbiter in 1966.

Academy, Chess
The first chess academy was conducted at Fountainbleau, France in 1680.

Active Chess
The first official Active Chess (30 minutes per game) tournament was held in Gijon, Spain in 1988 and won by Karpov and Tukmakov. Karpov won the World Active Championship in Mazatlan, Mexico and received $50,000. The organizers of the event donated $100,000 for AIDS research.

Adams, Michael (1971- )
British Grandmaster who, in 1989, won the British Championship at the age of 17 and became a Grandmaster.

Adams, Weaver (1901-1963)
US master who won the US Open in 1948. In 1939 he wrote a book entitled, White to Play and Win. After publication he played a tournament in Dallas. He lost all his games as White and won all his games as Black!

Addison, William (1933- )
US International Master and considered the best Go player among chess masters. He competed in the 1970 Interzonal in Palma de Mallorca then gave up chess for a career in banking.

Adianto, Utut (1965- )
First Indonesian Grandmaster (1986). He was born in Jakarta, Indonesia. He is a former World Junior Champion.

Closure of a playing session where a player seals his next move. First introduced at Paris in 1878, adjournments are now rare.

Agdestein, Simen (1967- )
Norwegian Grandmaster (1985) who tied for the World Junior Championship with Arencibia in 1986. He has represented Norway on their soccer team. He has won the Norwegian championship 4 times, the first when he was 15.

Ager chessmen
Chess pieces found in Ager, Spain carved in rock crystal. They are an example of the earliest type of chessmen used in Europe. It was a popular, although untrue, tradition that this set belonged to Charlemagne.

Agzamov, Georgy (1954-1986)
Russian Grandmaster (1984) who was accidently killed when he tried to take a short cut to go swimming and fell down between two rocks.

Association Internationale de la Presse Echiqueenne. It is an organization of chess journalists founded in 1968 by Jordi Puig. AIPE awards the chess Oscars to the outstanding male and female players of the year. The 1997 chess Oscar went to Anand.

Aitken, James (1908-1983)
Won the Scottish chess championship 10 times.

The name of the chess automaton built by Charles Hopper, a Bristol cabinet-maker, in 1865. The life-size Indian figure was operated by several chess and checker masters. One opponent shot at Ajeeb after losing a game, wounding the operator. One of the operators of Ajeeb was chess and checker master Constant Ferdinand Burille. During his years as operator, he played over 900 games of chess and only lost 3 games. He never lost a single checker game. Pillsbury was its hidden operator from 1898 to 1904. When Ajeeb was on display in New York at the Eden Musee, it played checkers for a dime and chess for a quarter. Opponents included Theodore Roosevelt, Houdini, Admiral Dewey, O. Henry and Sarah Bernhardt. Ajeeb was 10 feet high. Ajeeb was first exhibited at the Royal Polytechnical Institute in London in 1868. It was lodged at the Crystal Palace between 1868 and 1876 and then went to the Royal Aquarium at Westminster until 1877. It was then taken to Berlin where over 100,000 saw it in three months. It came to New York in 1885. It was destroyed by fire at Coney Island in 1929. Charles Barker, US checkers champion, also worked Ajeeb, never losing a single game.

Akhmilovskaya, Elena (1957- )
Woman Grandmaster from the Soviet Union who was the 1986 World Women's Championship challenger. In 1988 she eloped with American IM John Donaldson while playing in the ches olympiad in Greece. She returned to the Soviet Union almost a year later to get her 7 year-old daughter. It took three weeks to secure their exit visas. Her mother, Lidia Akhmilovskaya, qualified several times for the USSR Women's Championship and was a top-ranked correspondence player.

Akhsharumova-Gulko, Anna (1958- )
Finished first in the 1976 Soviet Women's Championship. Her husband, Boris Gulko, tied for first in the 1977 Soviet Men's Championship. By all rights, she should have won the 1983 Soviet Women's title played in Tallinn when she defeated her main competitor, Nona Ioseliani after she won by time forfeit. It would have given her 12 points to Nona's 11 points. The next day, Ioseliani filed a protest alleging a malfunction in the clock. Anna refused to play. The result of her game was arbitrarily reversed by the All-Union Board of Referees in Moscow, thereby forfeiting her title and ending up in 3rd place. She regained the Soviet women's crown in 1984. She won the U.S. Women's championship in 1987 with a perfect 9-0 score.

Akins, Claude (1926-1993)
Movie actor and chess enthusiast. He taught Dean Martin the game and always beat John Wayne.

Akopian, Vladimir (1971- )
World Under-16 Champion in 1986 and World Junior Champion in 1991.

al-Adli (800?-860?)
Father of opening analysis. He is credited with the use of descriptive chess notation and a rating system (5 classes of players). He was the strongest player of his time until defeated by ar-Razi.

Alburt, Lev (1945- )
Russian Grandmaster who defected from the USSR in 1979. He has won the U.S. Championship 3 times and the U.S. Open twice. He has a doctorate in physics and natural philosophy. He was the first Grandmaster elected to the governing body of the US Chess Federation.

Alekhine, Alexander (1892-1946)
Alexander Alekhine (Aljechin) was the son of a wealthy landowner. He learned chess from his older brother around age 11. At 17 he gained his master title after winning a tournament in St Petersburg. He was a prisoner of war like all the other chess contestants at an international tournament in Mannheim in 1914. He was taken to Rastatt, Germany but he feigned madness and the Germans released him as unfit for military service. In 1915 and 1916 he served in the Russian Red Cross. He was captured by the Austrians and was hospitalized in Tarnapol due to a spinal injury. There, he developed his blindfold skills. After World War I, the Russian government decorated him for bravery. In 1918 he was a criminal investigator in Moscow. In 1919 he was imprisoned in the death cell at Odessa as a spy. In 1920 he was back in Moscow intending to be a movie actor. He also served as interpreter to the Communist party and was appointed secretary to the Education Department. He won the first Soviet chess championship in 1920. In 1921 he married a foreign Communist delegate and left Russia for good. In 1925 he became a naturalized French citizen and entered the Sorbonne Law School. At the Sorbonne his thesis dealt with the Chinese prison system. He did not get his doctorate from the Sorbonne as he claimed. In 1925 he played 28 games blindfolded, winning 22, drawing 3, losing 3. In 1927 he defeated Capablanca in Buenos Aires for the world chess championship. In 1930 he scored the first 100% score in the Chess Olympiad, winning 9 games on board 1 for France. In 1935 he lost his world championship to Max Euwe, but regained it in a return match in 1937. During World War II, he became a Nazi collaborator and declared he was ready to sacrifice his life for a Nazi Russia. He competed in seven tournaments in Germany during the war and wrote several pro-Nazi articles. He died in Estoril, Portugal after choking on an unchewed piece of meat. The body was not buried for 3 weeks as no one claimed the body. The Portugese Chess Federation took charge of the funeral. Only 10 people showed up for his funeral. His remains were transferred to Paris in 1956, paid by the French Chess Federation. His tombstone has his birth and death date wrong.

Alekhine-Capablanca Match 1927
The entire match between Alekhine and Capablanca in 1927 took place behind closed doors in Buenos Aires. There were no spectators or photographs. Alekhine won the match with 6 wins, 3 losses, and 25 draws. Before this match, Alekhine had not won a single game from Capablanca. After the start of the match Alekhine was suffering from an infection of the gums, and had to have six teeth extracted.

Alexander, Conel Hugh O'Donel (1909-1974)
Won the British Championship in 1938 and 1956. During World War II he was part of the British Government Code and Cypher Code along with other English chess masters who helped break the German Enigma Code. He was prohibited from travelling to any country under Soviet control or influence during his lifetime because of his association with cryptography. He was given the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his wartime services.

Alexandre, Aaron (1766-1850)
Author of Encyclopedie des Echecs, the first book containing the collection of all opening variations then known. Published in 1837, he introduced the algebraic notation and the castling symbols O-O and O-O-O. He also wrote The Beauties of Chess in 1846, the first large compilation of chess problems and endgames. He was a Jewish rabbi who worked inside the automaton, the Turk.

Alfonsi, Petro
Physician of King Henry I and author of the Disciplina Clericalis (Clerks Instruction). He included chess as one of the seven knightly accomplishments to be mastered. The other tasks included riding, swimming, archery, boxing, hawking, and verse writing.

Alfonso Manuscript
A manuscript ordered by Alfonso the Wise (1221-1284), King of Castile. It included chess, backgammon, and games of chance with dice. Compiled in 1283, it is entitled Juegos Diuersos de Axedrez, Dados, y Tablas con sus Explications, Ordenudos por man Dado Del Rey don Alonso el Sabio. It is the first source mentioning the pawn's double move on the first move.

Algebraic notation
The first use of algebraic notation is from a French manuscript written in 1173. The first use of the figurine algebraic notation occurred in Belgium in 1927. Algebraic notation was introduced in CHESS LIFE in 1969. It wasn't until 1974 that the first book employing the algebraic notation was published by a major American publisher.

Title given by caliph al-Ma'mun to the top four chessplayers in the early ninth century. The top four players were Jabir al-Kufi, Rabrab, al-Ansari, and abu'n-Na'am. These are the first unofficial grandmasters of chess. Their endgames survive today.

All-Russian Chess Federation
First Russian chess federation, formed in 1914. It had 865 members.

The strongest chessplayer at the end of the 14th century. He was also known as Ali Shatrangi (Ali the Chessplayer). He could successfully give odds to all other leading players. He was Chinese and a lawyer.

al-Lajlaj (the Stammerer)
First person to analyze and publish works on the openings in 910. He was a pupil of as-Suli, the strongest player of the 10th century. His analysis were carried down from Arabic to Persian to Sanscrit to Turkish to 16th century Italian.

Allen, Woody
Actor who said that he wanted to be on his high school chess team, but the team said he was too small.

Allen, George (1808-1876)
The grand-nephew of Ethan Allen, who wrote The Life of Philidor, musician and chess-player, in 1858. He was the first to reveal how The Turk operated, in a book on the first American Chess Congress.

Allgaier, Johann (1763-1823)
Author of the first chess book published in German in 1795. He operated the chess automation The Turk, when it beat Napoleon Bonaparte in 1809. He served as quartermaster accountant in the Austrian army. He died of dropsy, the accumulation of excessive watery fluid outside the cells of the body.

Moorish poet-king who reigned over Seville in the late 11th century. He was regarded as a chess patron and kept several chess masters in his kingdom. In 1078 Alfonso VI and Ibn-Ammar, chess master in al-Mutamid's court, played a game of chess for the stake of Seville. Ibn-Ammar won and the city was spared from siege. Alfonso kept the chess set and board.

Caliph of Baghdad who favored chess and granted liberal pensions to chess masters in his court around 800 A.D.

The first mention of chess in America occurred in 1641 in Esther Singleton's history of Dutch settlers. The first American chess tournament was held in New York in 1843.

American Chess Congress
The first American Chess Congress was won by Paul Morphy in 1857. First prize was a silver service consisting of a pitcher, four goblets, and a salver.

American Chess Federation
Forerunner of the US Chess Federation. In 1939 it merged with the National Chess Federation to form the USCF.

American Revolution
During the American Revolution, there was a strong effort by the colonists to rename the pieces to Governor, General, Colonel, Major, Captain, and Pioneer. A boy gave General Rahl of the British Army a note from a spy that George Washington was about to cross the Delaware and attack. The general was so immersed in a chess game that he put the note in his pocket unopened. There it was found when he was mortally wounded in the subsequent battle.

American Women's Congress
The first American Women's Congress was held in New York in 1906.

Anand, Viswanathan (1969- )
Indian Grandmaster (1988) who won the World Junior Championship in 1987. In 1995 he played Kasparov for the PCA world championship and lost. In 1998 he played Karpov for the FIDE world championship and lost. He has been among the top 5 players in the world for many years. His 1998 FIDE rating is 2795, second only to Kasparov (2815).

Andersen, Eric (1904-1938)
Won the Danish Championship 12 times, including 8 times in a row.

Anderson, Frank (1928-1980)
Three-time Canadian Champion and International Master (1954). He came closer to the Grandmaster title than any other player. In 1958 he score 84% in the Munich Olympiad. He became ill and was unable to play his final round. He missed the Grandmaster title because of this. Even if he had played and lost, he would have made the final norm necessary for the Grandmaster title.

Anderson, Gerald (1893-1983)
British chess problemist who became an International Judge of Composition in 1960 and an International Master in Composition in 1975. He was the last person to play Alekhine.

Andersson, Terry One of the hostages held by terrorists during the Iran crises. He credits chess with helping him survive the ordeal.

Anderssen, Adolf (1818-1879)
Strongest player in the world between 1859 and 1866. When he died, his obituary was 19 pages long. In 1851 A. Anderssen was recognized as the srongest chess player in the world. That same year A. Anderson was recognized as the strongest checker player in the world. In 1877 a group of German chess fans organized a tournament to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Anderssen's learning the chess moves. This is the only tournament in chess history organized to commemorate a competitor. He tied for second, behind Paulsen.

Andersson, Ulf (1951- )
Swedish Grandmaster (1972). In 1996 he set a world record by playing 310 boards simultaneously, winning 268, drawing 40, and losing 2 in 15 hours and 23 minutes.

The first references of chess in Arabic occur in 720 in romantic poems by Kutaiyira Azzata and al-Farazdaq. The Arabicized name of the Persian Chatrang became shatranj. The pieces were called Shah (king), Firz (minister or queen), Fil (elephant or bishop), Faras (horse), Rukh (chariot or boat), and Baidaq (foot-soldier).

Araiza, Jose (1897- )
Won the Mexican Chess Championship 15 times in a row.

The director of a tournament or match. The youngest arbiter of a major tournament was Sophia Gorman, who, at age 19, was an arbiter at the World Candidates tournament. FIDE created the International Arbiter title in 1951. An arbiter must have a working knowledge of two official FIDE languages (English, French, German, Russian, and Spanish).

There are at least 20 paintings called "Checkmate."

Ashley, Maurice (1966- )
First African-American International Master (1993). He won the Marshall Chess Club Championship in 1993.

A 64-square uncheckered gaming board used in India as early as the 2nd century B.C. and borrowed for chess.

Asperling, B. (1650?-1710?)
Swiss author of the Traite du Ieu Royal des Eschets, or the "Traite de Lausanne," in 1690. It is the last book which allows the medieval king's leap and the first book to classify openings in an orderly way.

Champion of Persia in 847 after defeating al-Aldi in the presence of the caliph Matawakkil. He wrote a book of chess problems of which two survive today.

The Scottish Chess Association is the oldest in the world, founded in 1884.

as-Suli (880-946)
Turkish player who defeated al-Mawardi, the resident master of the caliph al-Muktafi, to become the champion of the known world in the 10th century. His superiority was recognized up to Renaissance times.

Atahualpa (1500-1533)
12th and last Inca emperor of Peru who was imprisoned by Francisco Pizarro and the Spanish conquistadors in 1533. He was imprisoned in Cajamarca, Peru and learned chess by watching his guards play, and before long was beating them all. It is said that a certain Spanish captain hated him for this and had him murdered. This information is preserved in a letter from Don Gaspar de Espinosa (1533) and the autobiography of Don Alonso Enriquez de Guzman (1518-1543).

Atkins, Henry (1872-1955)
British schoolmaster who won the British Championship 9 times out of 11 appearances, 7 times in a row (1905-1911, 1924, 1925). Only Penrose has won it more often (10 times). He was known as 'the little Steinitz'.

Ault, Robin (1941-1994)
The first person to win the U.S. Junior Championship three times (1959-1961). He also lost all 11 games at the 1959-60 US Championship.

Auto da Fe
Novel written by Nobel Prize winner for Literature, Elias Canetti. The main character is a man named Fischer who dreams of becoming world chess champion and buying clothes from the best tailors in the world. The book was written in 1935.

Machines that give the illusion of playing chess. The first automaton was Kempelen's The Turk (1769), followed by Hooper's Ajeeb (1868), then Gumpel's Mephisto (1878).

Averbakh, Yuri (1922- )
Endgame expert and grandmaster who did not know about the proper rule of castling while playing in an international tournament. He was the Soviet Chess Federation president from 1972 to 1977. His daughter married Grandmaster Mark Taimanov.

Avigad-Vernon, Ariel (1987- )
Youngest person (7 years, 237 days) to beat an expert in a rated tournament.

Algemeene Veerenigde Radio Oemrop, a Dutch broadcasting company, which sponsored the world's strongest tournament held up to that time in 1938. The top eight players in the world participated (Keres, Fine, Botvinnik, Alekhine, Reshevsky, Euwe, Capablanca, and Flohr). First place was equivalent to $550. Alekhine, for the first time in his life, came ahead of Capablanca. Capablanca, for the first time in his life, fell below 50%. He lost four games in this event. Flohr, the official challenger who was expected to play a world championship match with Alekhine, came last without a single vicctory in 14 rounds.

The Spanish word for chess. The Portuguese player Damiano wrote a Spanish book suggesting chess was invented by Xerxes and should be named after Xerxes, hence, the word Axedrez.

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