Isnin, 30 November 2009

Quote about Leonid Stein

sebahagian quote tentang hero saya...GM Leonid Stein....nanti saya akan tambah lagi di lain masa

"they can refute it during post mortem analysis, but never in a game"
- GM Leonid Stein

Viktor Korchnoi after a world championship game of his:
"Karpov read somewhere that Bishop is stronger than a Knight; in Leonid Stein's hands, not his!"

Quote: “To play for a win in Black against Polugaevsky was an ungrateful task. Many expected that the game would end up in a quiet draw; that Stein would not risk and would try to make up for the difference in points against less formidable rivals… The course of this game, in its own way, illustrated Emanuel Lasker’s well known thought on the healthy force that was ready to take an extreme risk for the sake of achieving its goal.”

Leonid Stein vs Vasily Smyslov (1972) "The Pin is Mightier"
 Smyslov, a master of quiet positional play, has few answers for Stein's tactics.

"He was one of few players who had an even score against Vassily Smyslov, Tigran Petrosian, and Mikhail Botvinnik. He even had plus records against Mikhail Tal, Boris Spassky, and Paul Keres. Stein defeated virtually all of the top players of his era."

Leonid Stein was something of a mystery to me. He died before I learned to play chess, and, perhaps because he was never world champion, I am not very familiar with his games. Crouch spends several pages discussing the man himself and shows some interesting statistics. Stein had very respectable scores against the top players of his era, to say the least. He was a great attacking player, but, as Crouch puts it, “Stein takes calculated risks, and in every game he calculates not only whether he should attack and takes risks, but also whether it is time not to take risks.”

In this position Stein had managed to trick a young Karpov into playing a Grünfeld, not exactly an opening Karpov is known to play from the black side. Black had just answered 15 f4 with 15...h6.

Crouch writes, “If Stein’s last move was highly characteristic of his own attacking play, then this in return is typically Karpovian. Black is not indulging in complicated manoeuvring. He is pushing away one of White’s most dangerous pieces, and saying ‘I don’t believe your sacrifice, I’m not going to lose, and I could well win’.

“Such coolness of response is rare. Most of us, when we see a sacrificial attack by the opponent, see the king being pushed into the open, tend to get anxious, maybe even panicky. Quite often this is of great help to the attacker. If the critical defensive line is avoided, then there will be no refutation, and the element of the bluff will turn into a smooth attacking win. An excellent example involving two former World Champions is the game Spassky-Tai in Montreal 1979, where Spassky fell for the bluff. Here Karpov stayed in full control.

“Now for the critical position. There is not much point in withdrawing the knight, 16 e4? cxd4 17 cxd4? Bxe4 being an outright blunder, so White must sacrifice. Obviously Stein has already decided on the knight sacrifice, but which one?”

Stein played 16.Nxe6 and won. After annotating the game, Crouch returns to the position and spends a lot of time on the alternative 16.Nxf7. I like this approach, because it allows the reader to enjoy the game without much distraction, and then review the critical point in the game in an analysis session.

While Tal is the more popular and famous player compared to Stein (for obvious reasons), I have never fully embraced the kind of swashbuckling risk-taking that is more prevalent in the games of players like Tal. The chapter on Tal is also instructive, but for me personally it was less fun to go through. Despite Tal’s popularity and obvious objective strength, his games, despite their attractiveness, never really “spoke” to me. There is too much randomness in the games; too much “bluff.”

In the introduction Crouch emphasizes “that it is best, if possible, to play positionally” and that it is only in a minority of games that sacrificial play is effective. He notes that “good and creative positional chess” can give one the opportunity to take advantage of an opponent’s mistake and that the golden rule is “a player cannot lose a game unless there is a mistake.” He points out that although nearly every game in the book is a win, the notes reveal that with precise play the outcome should have been a draw or an advantage for the defender. Thus, “it is genuinely positionally acceptable to aim for a win and to create pressure. If in your attack you do  not make a mistake, you will not lose.”

However, he also notes that if “a player attacks with extreme accuracy, then the defender has no chances of a win,” or that any inaccuracy by the defender will result in a loss. Therefore, the games in this collection tend to be “highly complicated, probably much more so than in strategic or positional duels” and that “thorough analysis is required.” His goal is that the reader is entertained and informed along the way, and rest assured it is both.

By IM Colin Crouch