Sadly there was no fanfare of a traffic-stopping troupe of dancers accompanied by Irene Cara belting out “Fame! / I’m gonna live forever” – but remember (remember, remember) their name we certainly shall, as they will live on through our game’s rich heritage with the recent announcement of six new inductees to the U.S. and World Chess Halls of Fame.
It’s now a traditional pre-curser to the U.S. Championship that starts this week at the Saint Louis Chess Club, with induction ceremonies recognising several exceptional contributors to our iconic game. The first ceremony will honour 2022 U.S. Chess Hall of Fame inductees Daniel Willard Fiske, GM James Tarjan and IM John Watson, as well as 2021 World Chess Hall of Fame inductees GM Miguel Najdorf, GM Judit Polgar and GM Eugene Torre.
Daniel Willard Fiske, a major pioneer in chess organisation, journalism and more, who originated the idea of a nationwide American Chess Congress and helped make it a reality in 1857, in addition to influencing the creation of the American Chess Association (a precursor to today’s US Chess) and playing an important role in standardising the rules of chess; James Tarjan, who represented the United States in five Chess Olympiads, winning four team and three individual medals with a winning percentage that places him equal second to Bobby Fischer, and also achieved the best-ever rating performance by an American player aged 65 or older (see game); and John Watson, one of the greatest writers in the history of American chess who authored many groundbreaking books during the past four decades including Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy (2002) and Chess Strategy in Action (2023), and was the first-ever US. National High School champion.
“All three of this year’s inductees have made an incredible impact on the game and sport of chess,” said US Chess Trust President E. Steven Doyle. “Fiske’s influence as an early U.S. chess journalist, Tarjan’s distinctive Chess Olympiad accomplishments and Watson’s lifetime of chess instruction and coaching are accolades deserving of recognition in the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame.”
World Chess Hall of Fame inductees include Judit Polgar, who is universally considered to be the strongest woman chess player of all time and broke Bobby Fischer’s record as the world’s youngest grandmaster; Miguel Najdorf, whose name is associated with one of the most famous openings in chess, the Najdorf Variation of the Sicilian Defense, in addition to being one of the most successful performers in Chess Olympiad history; and Eugene Torre, a trailblazer for Asian chess for half a century, achieving a number of continental milestones including the first grandmaster, first to defeat a reigning world champion, and first to reach the Candidates stage of the World Championship.
“The 2021 World Chess Hall of Fame inductees exemplify the global impact and inclusivity chess has to offer, and we’re honoured to include their contributions to the game’s rich history,” said FIDE Special Project Director Willy Iclicki.
Inductees of both Halls of Fame are chosen for their impact on the sport and have included players, authors, journalists, scholars, organisers and supporters of the game. Each player will be commemorated at the World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF) in Saint Louis with a plaque bearing their image and biography. Notable games and highlights will also be featured in a digital interactive gallery.
“The World Chess Hall of Fame in Saint Louis commends all of the 2021 and 2022 inductees and we look forward to celebrating their unique achievements at their induction ceremonies,” said Shannon Bailey, WCHOF’s chief curator.
For more information about the U.S. and World Chess Halls of Fame, please visit the WCHOF’s website at worldchesshof.org. For more information about the U.S. Chess Championship and U.S. Women’s Chess Championship, go to saintlouischessclub.org.
GM James Tarjan – GM Vladimir Kramnik
Chess.com IoM Masters 2017
1.c4 Nf6 2.g3 c6 3.Nf3 d5 4.b3 Bg4 5.Bg2 e6 6.0-0 Nbd7 7.Bb2 Bd6 8.d3 It is a common Reti Opening, but, in essence, to boil it down for you, from the Black side it is simply a reversed Torre Attack. 8…0-0 9.Nbd2 Re8 10.h3 Bh5 11.Re1 a5 12.a3 e5 13.cxd5 cxd5 14.Nh4 Nc5 15.Qc2 Not the tempting 15.Nf5? which loses on the spot to 15…Nxd3! 15…Ne6 16.Rac1 Nd4 17.Qd1 Nb5 18.Nb1 Commenting on this game during the post-mortem, Tarjan said “Nb1 and later Be1, they were not such terrible moves,” only to then completely bemuse all the millennials by further adding “It’s like Muhammad Ali, you know, the rope-a-dope.” Of course, those of a certain age might not know who Ali was, let alone his famous rope-a-dope technique during his 1974 ‘The Rumble in the Jungle’ title bout against George Foreman! 18…Qd7 19.Kh2 Ra6 A timely rook lift, the threat being to eventually swing it over to g6 or even h6 and a powerful attack – but somehow, under the relentless pressure from Kramnik, Tarjan manages to hang on. 20.Nf3 e4! This should clear a path to victory, but alas Kramnik miscalculates at the crucial moment to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. 21.dxe4 Nxe4 22.Rf1 Bb8 Making way for the rook to swing over into the attack. 23.Nc3 Nbxc3 24.Bxc3 Rae6 25.Be1 h6 If 25…Rh6 26.Bd2 Rg6 27.Be1 is more rope-a-dope – but I can’t help thinking that with the rook on g6 for free, this might instead have been preferable for Kramnik. 26.Rc2 Ba7! White would perhaps like to play 27. e3 here, but unfortunately he can’t, as 27 …Rf6 will force a further loosening of his position with 28.g4, and sooner rather than later, Black will simply play …Bb8 and …Qd6 with an unstoppable mating attack. 27.Qc1 Bb6 28.e3 Qb5 29.Nd4 Bxd4 30.exd4 Bf3? Kramnik has achieved his optimum position with his pieces superbly placed and ready to move in for the kill – but he gets impatient and moves in too quickly. Instead, with Tarjan at his mercy, and not able to do anything constructive, Kramnik should have simply defended his only weakness with 30…b6! threatening to simply capture on b3, which leaves White in a mess, as 31.b4 Be2 32.Rg1 axb4 33.axb4 Bc4 and White is running out of moves very quickly. 31.Bxf3 Nxg3 In view of what happens now, I’m just wondering if earlier Kramnik perhaps had miscalculated what happens if he first takes on f1 with 31…Qxf1 32.Be2 as after 32…Nxg3 it all looks scary, but then 33.Bxf1 Nxf1+ 34.Kg2 Rxe1 35.Qb2 R8e6 and with the knight ‘trapped’ on f1, the threat of the mating attack is all that Black can do here, but now 36.Rc8+ Kh7 37.Rc1! the best Black has now is a perpetual with 37…Rg6+ 38.Kh1 Ng3+ 39.Kh2 Nf1+ 40.Kh1 Ng3+ 41.Kh2 Nf1+ etc. It’s just a hunch, but it could be that somewhere in there Kramnik thought he was simply winning, and overlooked that it was only a forced draw. But the reality is that he’s playing a much weaker opponent, and now has to justify making the position as murky as he can now; the only little snafu being that Tarjan keeps calm to unravel and win the ensuing ending. 32.fxg3 Qxf1 33.Bf2 Qd3 34.Rc3 White’s two bishops stop Kramnik’s rooks infiltrating further into his position – and with that threat cleared, it soon becomes clear that d5 is weak and Kramnik is now fighting for his very life. 34…Qf5 35.Kg2 Rf6 36.Qc2! All queen-less endgame scenarios are hopelessly lost for Black. 36…Qd7 37.g4 Not so much stopping the queen returning to f5, but making way for Bg3 and Be5 with a dominating position. 37…Rc6 38.Rc5! The pressure on d5 is mounting; something now has to give. 38…Rd8 39.Qf5 Right now, with all the relentless pressure, you could be forgiven for walking past the board and thinking it was Kramnik who was White here. 39…Rxc5 There’s no other option now. If 39…Qe7 40.Bxd5 Rxc5 41.dxc5 the bishops both attack and defend at the same time, and there’s no stopping White’s queenside pawns rushing down the board now. 40.Qxd7 Rxd7 41.dxc5 d4 42.Kf1! [see diagram] The king now moves swiftly across to round-up the d-pawn. The rest is now fine technique from the American veteran and now new Hall of Famer, as he forces Kramnik’s resignation in a few moves by blockading and capturing the d-pawn, followed by pushing his own queenside pawns up the board. 42…d3 43.Ke1 d2+ 44.Kd1 Kf8 45.Bg3 Ke7 46.Bd6+ Ke6 47.Kxd2 b6 48.Ke3 bxc5 49.Bxc5 Rd8 50.b4 axb4 51.axb4 f5 52.b5 fxg4 53.hxg4 g6 54.b6 h5 55.g5 Kd7 56.b7 1-0