Monday, July 31, 2006

10th Annual Golf Tourney at the U.S. Open

Our own Mike Wojcio (author of the excellent History of the Kenilworth Chess Club) is organizing the 10th Annual Golf Tourney at the U.S. Open Chess Tournament. You have to play in the chess tournament to play in the golf tournament and should email Mike if interested at

15-year-old IM Emilio Cordova Visits NJ

The Herald News profiled 15-year-old Peruvian IM Emilio Cordova (ChessBase photo) who is visiting nearby Clifton and expects to play in the upcoming U.S. Open.

Chess and Boxing Siblings

Hat tip to DG for finding an interview with professional women's boxer Alicia Ashley, sister to American GM Maurice Ashley. The interviewer suggests she take up "Chess Boxing," which has become a legitimate sport (I'm "not making this up!") Makes you think that the connection between the two sports is more natural than we'd suppose. After all, as Lasker famously said, "Chess is a fight!"

Sunday, July 30, 2006

World Boardgaming Championships

Most of us who play chess have likely indulged in other boardgames. So you may be interested to know that The World Boardgaming Championships meet this week in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, from August 1-August 6.

Not long ago, I stumbled upon a very nice book, Spin Again: Board Games from the Fifties and Sixties by Rick Polizzi, which made me curious about the history of board games and a little nostalgic for my early teen years, when I spent hours perfecting my piece arrangement for Stratego. Of course, kids today are more likely to play computer games than board games, and if they play board games at all they do so online. I can't help but speculate about what they have lost, beginning with unmediated human interaction (versus the more immediate but lonesome stimulation that the video screen offers).

Just today, in fact, I experienced my own example of this generational divide. My three-and-a-half-year-old son has recently become fascinated with the Rescue Heroes. He has seen a couple DVDs of their adventures, has a few action heroes to play with, and has even tried their interactive video game. So I thought he might enjoy a Rescue Heroes board game I had picked up, which is basically Snakes and Ladders with animals to rescue along the way. He was initially resistant, recognizing right away that it was not going to be as stimulating as flying a helicopter around a volcano to rescue people surrounded by lava flows (as the Rescue Heroes video game offers). But he humored me and we had a nice time together, incidentally working on his counting, having a talk about the importance of rules, and giving him a little ego boost when he left me in the dust.

I'm glad to find that board games have not vanished from the landscape of children's play, and that they're still sold in the toy stores. You have to wonder how much that may change in the future as computers become more central to our world. It has been said that chess and the web are made for each other, and the advent of computer chess programs has coincided with a boom in the worldwide popularity of the game. Chess may be fortunate to be so readily translated to play with computers and online, while many other board games seem destined to become artifacts, resurrected only once a year at the boardgamer's convention. We can only hope that doesn't happen, though, since many boardgames have a lot to offer kids.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Center Square

Welcome to Glen Hart, The Center Square, who joins the ranks of chess bloggers. I will soon add links to his blog from The Kenilworthian and from our blog listing. Let's hope his work inspires other Kenilworth Chess Club members to take me up on my long-standing offer to set them up with a blog at our site....

Thursday, July 27, 2006


Stacy Schiff's recent article "Know It All: Can Wikipedia Conquer Expertise?" (The New Yorker July 31, 2006) offers a behind-the-scenes look at how the ubiquitous internet encyclopedia works, which may be of interest to anyone who has ever tried Googling for biographical information on chess personalia (such as Aleksander Wojtkiewicz, Charles Kalme, William Lombardy, or Lisa Lane) -- or anyone needing help "disambiguating" the "The Knights Errant" of the blogosphere from "a form of solitaire" or characters created by Cervantes (as chronicled at the BCC Weblog here and here). Some choice facts for those who prefer bullet-points:
  • Wikipedia "hit the million-articles mark" on March 1st of this year.
  • The non-profit organization "has five employees in addition to Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia's thirty-nine-year-old founder, and carries no advertising" -- relying almost entirely on donations to help cover its $750,000 budget.
  • All content "must be both verifiable and previously published" (which may explain their resistance to "chess blogs," for example).
  • About 80% of the volunteer writers are male (by their founder's estimation).
  • A study published in the prestigious journal Nature last year showed that "Wikipedia had four errors for every three of [The Encyclopedia] Britannica's" on science-related topics, making it practically as untrustworthy as its more widely accepted print-based cousin.

Of course, if any of my students want to use it for their research papers, "fuhgetaboutit."

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Remembering Wojo

Several remembrances of the late Aleksander Wojtkiewicz (whose passing was mentioned here last week) have been posted around the web, including by Alex Shabalov at ChessBase, Hans Ree at ChessCafe, and David Sands at The Washington Times.

"Expert Mind" Online

Thanks to reader "Dan" for pointing us to the online version of "Secrets of the Expert Mind" by Philip E. Ross (Scientific American, August 2006) mentioned here last week. It is well worth a read, if only because it does a good job of summarizing many well-known studies of chess skill and of using them to draw potentially useful conclusions about knowledge, learning, and expertise in general. However, while I like some of his conclusions (such as the idea that "experts are made, not born"), I took exception with one important passage. Discussing experiments that showed that grandmaster chess players (while impressive at recalling typical game positions) showed very little advantage over beginners at recalling random chess positions, Ross writes:

"These experiments corroborated earlier studies that had demonstrated convincingly that ability in one area tends not to transfer to another. American psychologist Edward Thorndike first noted this lack of transference over a century ago, when he showed that the study of Latin, for instance, did not improve command of English and that geometric proofs do not teach the use of logic in daily life."

That conclusion seems a bit unwarranted and runs counter to many other studies I've seen showing that when kids learn and improve at chess they gain many benefits which transfer to other areas of learning (see, for instance, Dr. Robert C. Ferguson's website for a good summary). After all, the idea that studying chess improves children's abilities to study generally is one of the basic premises of "chess in the schools" programs worldwide. It seems intuitively to me that, while the law of diminishing returns is bound to kick in at a certain point (probably at the point where you are spending more time on chess than more important matters!), there is at least some gain from chess study that does transfer to other areas. After all, if you look at the chart (not available in the online version) showing the continuum from weak to strong players and their varied abilities to recall random positions, there is some correlation between memory and playing strength (if not as dramatic as with typical game positions). Isn't it possible that chess had some impact on memory generally, even in this specific study that Ross takes to show the opposite? I hope someone involved with chess in the schools will take the time to critique this conclusion more fully....

The Spanish Four Knights, Part Two


White to play and win material.


White to play and win.

My fascination with the Spanish Four Knights continues with an examination of the wonderful fighting game Apsenieks-Fine, Stockholm Olympiad 1937. After Apsenieks wins (or Fine sacrifices?) the Exchange (see first diagram above), Black gains a potentially dangerous counter-attack that challenges Apsenieks to hang onto his material advantage. Though his play likely could be improved, Apsenieks succeeds admirably and turns the tables on his opponent with a startling final blow (see second diagram). A "manly" slugfest of a game and typical of what the Spanish Four Knights can produce when the players disdain the famously drawish lines.

If you are interested in learning more, check out Part One of this series on Sutovsky's Anti-Rubinstein 5.O-O! and my Spanish Four Knights (C48) Bibliography.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

North American Chess Association

The North American Chess Association has a new website, which is still a work in progress at this writing (and which could take some lessons in design from the new USCF site). Free membership is required to access the best material (follow this link, since you won't find it easily via their site navigation). It is worth the time it takes to fill out the registration form, however, if only to download the May and July issues of the North American Chess Review (in zipped PDF, under "Members Only">"Publications"). These long inaugural issues include some good annotated games from recent North American FIDE events, some very good opening analysis by IM Irina Krush (covering the Queen's Gambit Accepted and Declined for White), discussion of Queen's Gambit middlegame strategy from IM Ben Finegold, gambit opening analysis on the Albin Counter Gambit by NM Jon Burgess and the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit by IM Angelo Young, annotations of two Kamsky games by IM Lev Milman, some nice endgame instruction, and tactical puzzles edited by GM Pascal Charbonneau (whose fine victory over Anand from the recent Turin Olympiad is nicely annotated by IM Jan van de Mortel in their sample "Game of the Week" issue).

UPDATE (January 1, 2007): The North American Chess Federation site seems defunct. The blog has not been updated since October and there is actually less content on the site than when I saw it in June. They still have a message on the "Join" page suggesting that paid membership will be required as of January 1, 2007, to access the site content. Based on the fact that there no longer is site content (not even the material I mentioned above), I would suggest that you not pay to join until further notice.

Meanwhile, Back at the Club...

Several club members have told me over the last year how much they appreciate the simple news of what's going on at the club, with games. This post is for you. I hope to have an update on Summer Tourney standings some time next week. Favorite NM Mark Kernighan has had a few set-backs in recent weeks, including a loss on time to Greg Tomkovich and a draw to John Moldovan (both very long, drawn out games), so Greg may well be in the lead...

Skittles and Pizza

Blitz, pizza, and ESPN poker in the skittles room.

KCC Summer Tourney

KCC Summer Tourney in the main room.

Friday, July 21, 2006

"Secrets of the Expert Mind" in Scientific American (August 2006)

The Expert Mind

The August 2006 issue of Scientific American features an article titled "Secrets of the Expert Mind" by Philip E. Ross that uses studies of how chess masters think to reflect on the meaning of expertise generally. I have not been able to get a copy myself (my local stores are still trying to sell the July issue it seems), but a few bloggers have read it, including Steve (Steve Learns Chess) , Swamp Fox, ShandyKing and John Daly.

ICC Puzzle #2


White to play and win.

The puzzle above comes from a cute blitz game I played today on ICC.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Aleksander Wojtkiewicz (1963-2006)

The passing of GM Alek Wojtkiewicz on July 14 at the age of 43 has received much commentary around the web. There are obits at, ChessBase and alt.obit. Several sources cite a very nice profile of him (and of Pawel Blehm) by John Barry titled "Chairmen of the Board" in Baltimore's Urbanite Magazine (from June 2005) which gives you a glimpse into the life of a professional player. No doubt that lifestyle (which involves lots of travel, and therefore can hardly encourage healthy nutrition or exercise) contributed as much as smoking, suspected drinking, and a stint in the Soviet-era gulag to his early demise from internal bleeding due to a perforated intestine. There was a memorial service Monday according to Susan Polgar, who also lists an address for those wishing to make a donation to his family.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Two Knights Sicilian, Part Three

I recently read GM Joel Benjamin's article The Anti-Sveshnikov, which is the seventh installment in his "Anti-Sicilians" series for the Jeremy Silman website (which I commented on in Part One of this series, with Part Two discussing a game of my own). It covers the Rossolimo line that begins 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bb5 (and which might continue 4...Nd4 5.e5 Nxb5 6.Nxb5 Nd5 7.Ng5!) -- something I first came across in Chris Baker's A Startling Chess Opening Repertoire and then in Paul Motwani's very interesting Chess Under the Microscope. Benjamin promises an eighth and final article, likely in early August, covering what has become the main line of the "Anti-Sveshnikov," namely 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 e5 4.Bc4. That line was featured in Kasparov's last game as a professional (losing as Black to Topalov at Linares 2005), which Benjamin promises to annotate, so I look forward to that. Meanwhile, to whet the appetite, here are some annotated Anti-Sveshnikov games:

Monday, July 17, 2006

Raymond Keene's "All Purpose Black Defense"

GM Raymond Keene has begun contributing to Chessville. His first article, out today, is titled "An All-Purpose Black Defense" and covers the Caro-Kann vs. 1.e4 (especially 1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 dxe4 4 Nxe4 Nf6 5 Nxf6+ gxf6) and Slav vs. 1.d4 (1 d4 d5 2 c4 c6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Nf3 a6!?) This is a solid repertoire for anyone, including us "amateurs."

If we are lucky, Keene will take the place of IM Andrew Martin, whose absence from Chessville's line-up has greatly reduced my visits to their site.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Sutovsky's Anti-Rubinstein 5.O-O!

When Akiba Rubinstein introduced the variation that bears his name (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3,Nc3 Nf6 4.Bb5 Nd4) at San Sebastian 1912, he signaled the decline of the Spanish Four Knights (C48), which had been among White's most popular openings up until then. Rubinstein's 4...Nd4 was widely hailed as giving Black easy equality and the formerly fearsome Four Knights gained a drawish reputation. However, in the mid-1990s, GM Emil Sutovsky (see ChessBase profile) demonstrated that White can create uncomfortable situations for the second player with the simple developing move 5.O-O! In this line, White is willing to surrender the two Bishops in exchange for rapid mobilization, an advantage in space, and clear initiative. Black typically reverts to a Philidor set-up with ...c6, ...d6, and ...Qc7, and is often forced into a passive defensive role. After looking through the literature and a large number of games, I'm convinced that this line yields White winning chances against the Rubinstein and thus should help to recuperate the Spanish Four Knights as the attacking line that it is.

It was Fred Wilson who first introduced me to Sutovsky's Anti-Rubinstein 5.O-O! and I should probably dedicate my article to him. It will likely not be my last on the Spanish Four Knights (C48), which I have found a fascinating territory for exploration (as suggested by my recent bibliography). For those who might be interested in learning more, I suggest the games Apsenieks-Fine, Stockholm 1937; Canal-Euwe, Venice 1948; and Spielmann-Rubinstein, Karlsbad 1911 (the last of which is likely the game that led Rubinstein to come up with 4...Nd4 in the first place). For non-masters looking to add the Four Knights to their repertoire, I suggest the recently re-issued An Unbeatable White Repertoire after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 by Larry Evans and Ken Smith (Chess Digest 1988), which offers everything you need to start playing it right away.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Server Problem

The Kenilworth Chess Club website was temporarily down today due to a server problem. Our provider has corrected the problem and expects no further down time.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Spanish Four Knights (C48) Bibliography

The Spanish Four Knights Game (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bb5) is not something I had looked at much over many years of playing chess, except as it occurred in some of the classic games of the 1890s-1920s that I've played through. But when I dropped by Fred Wilson's Chess Shop the other day, we discussed his recent lectures on the Four Knights as"A 'Real Man's' Opening," and he shared with me some of his lecture notes. He had some good ideas about the opening and, at the very least, he convinced me to take it seriously. He also intrigued me by calling it a "real man's" opening. I guess what Wilson means is that it always leads to a struggle where the pieces are very much engaged, practically like wrestling or hand-to-hand combat. The "manly" idea may also arise because of its association with the heroic and combative players of the last century (including Lasker, Capablanca, Rubinstein, Spielmann, Botvinnik, and Tal).

Though it has a reputation for being drawish, since the pawn formations are rather locked and very balanced, the Four Knights has been used by many GMs over the years to play for a win. Nigel Short, for example, adopted it in match play and inspired a number of other English players (including Nunn and Gallagher) to do the same. After all, balanced play is not necessarily a bad thing, especially when you are playing to keep the draw in hand (as many match and tournament players do). And the game is never without chances, especially since most players as Black are rather underprepared.

I have been doing some analysis of lines in the Four Knights and will likely present some of that here in the next week or so. For now, here is a brief bibliography of web and book sources I have been consulting, leaving out the classics (such as Euwe and Keres and ECO). I may return to add some more web links since I was rather disappointed by how few web resources I was able to turn up (all the more reason, I suppose, that I should contribute a thing or two myself). If nothing else, it seems to fit with my recent interest in the Two Knights Sicilian, Two Knights French, and Two Knights Caro-Kann. Hey, "Knights before Bishops," right?

Web Sources

Chesscoach. "Understanding the Spanish Four Knights." Chess Opening Secrets Revealed weblog (January 11, 2006). Uses plenty of diagrams to introduce the main lines of the Four Knights with 4.Bb5. But there are more moves and diagrams than commentary. "Four Knights (C48)." Over 699 games with the line from 1857-2006. I find Chessgames a good site to look through when learning a new opening, since you can very quickly play over a large number of games to see the basic ideas.

ChessOps. "The Four Knights Game."

Draper, Mervin. "Shirov-Kramnik, Match 1998." Michigan Chess Association.

Kavalek, Lubomir. Chess. Washington Post (April 3, 2006)
Annotates the game Najer-Shirov, Siberia 2006 which featured a nice win by Black in the Rubinstein variation (4.Bb5 Nd4 5.Bc4!?)

Morss, Mark. "The Classical Defense to the Spanish, Part 1." The Campbell Report's Hard Chess column. The link takes you directly to the section on 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0-0 Bc5 5.Nc3 0-0 6.Nxe5, which can also arise via the Four Knights.

"Paulsen-Morphy, USA 1857." Good annotations and java replay of this classic Four Knights game.

Wikipedia. "Four Knights Game." A fair overview with links.

Books and Articles

Davies, Nigel. Play 1.e4 e5! A Complete Repertoire for Black in the Open Games. Everyman 2005. 156-161.
Davies recommends the traditional Spanish Four Knights (with 4.Bb5 Bb4) from the Black side with good coverage over two games. Reviewed in detail by Michael Jeffreys at Chessville.

Emms, John. “The Spanish Four Knights.” Play the Open Games as Black: What to Do When White Avoids the Ruy Lopez. Gambit 2000. 142-158.
Emms recommends Rubinstein’s 4…Nd4, for which he offers excellent coverage. This is one of the few sources to take 5.O-O seriously as a significant variation (as recommended by Fred Wilson) and to discuss Black's 5...c6! 6.Ba4 Qa5 counter. An indispensable book for anyone who plays 1.e4 e5 as Black or White.

Evans, Larry M. and Ken Smith. An Unbeatable White Repertoire After 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3. Chess Digest 1988.
Seeing this book suddenly back in print was the first thing that got me to take the Four Knights seriously again. Evans’s coverage of the main lines is very fair and balanced (if occasionally dated, since it likely came from an older volume on the Four Knights alone published by Chess Digest) while Smith offers a good standard treatment of all Black alternatives after 1.e4 e5, finding an advantage for White at every turn. This is an excellent repertoire book for anyone interested in the Four Knights despite some inevitable weaknesses due to its age.

Flear, Glenn "Four Knights Opening." New in Chess Yearbook 27 (1992)

Hazai, Laszlo and Peter Lukacs. "4...Nd4 - Old Wine in a New Bottle." NIC Yearbook 49 (1998)

Hazai, Laszlo and Peter Lukacs. "A Pawn Sacrifice!" NIC Yearbook 64 (2002)

Kaufman, Larry. The Chess Advantage in Black and White. Random House / David McKay 2004. 327-342
Kaufman recommends the odd-ball 4…Bd6, which he claims leads to equality.

Leach, Colin. Spanish Four Knights' Game, Part 1 and Part 2 (Self-published, 1990).
Two 100-page volumes, the second focused more accurately on the Three Knights Game (with 3...Bb4). Like most of Leach’s other opening books, this two-volume work is made practically unnecessary by modern databases.

Lukacs, Peter and Laszlo Hazai. "Another Pawn Sacrifice in the Rubinstein Variation." NIC Yearbook 65 (2002)

Nunn, John. New Ideas in The Four Knights. Batsford 1993.
This may well be the best book on the Four Knights ever written, with an excellent division of the material and choice of games.

Pickett, L. M. Four Knights and Belgrade Gambit. Notingham: The Chess Player 1976.
This 80-page pamphlet devotes nearly half its pages to the Belgrade Gambit, yet it does a fair job of covering the main Four Knights lines. I always like to look at older materials as they often discuss lines that current works take too much for granted

Pinski, Jan. The Four Knights. Everyman 2003.
I must say that I was very disappointed in this book as someone only interested in learning the traditional Spanish Four Knights line (following 4.Bb5), which receives a scant 40 pages of coverage, while the Scotch Four Knights, Belgrade Gambit, and Glek System (with 4.g3) each receive a similar-length treatment despite their much less significant theoretical heritage. Also, his coverage of Rubinstein’s 4…Nd4 completely leaves out the interesting 5.O-O. But he does cover all of the alternatives and trappy lines fairly well, so it is not worthless. Reviewed by John Watson and Randy Bauer at Jeremy Silman's site.

Pliester, Leon. "Four Knights Opening." NIC Yearbook 23 (1992)

Schiller, Eric. "Four Knights." Downloadable CD for sale. This may be available in other forms, as Schiller's works often are.

Tseitlin, Mikhail. "Paulsen 6.Bxc6." NIC Yearbook 46 (1998)

Van der Sterren, Paul. "Four Knights Opening." NIC Yearbook 24 (1992)

Van der Tak, A. C. "The Third Way: 4...Bc5." NIC Yearbook 49 (1998)

Monday, July 10, 2006

Billy Colias and the Grand Prix Attack


Colias-Brodie, Illinois 1987
White to play.

Stopping at The Strand on my recent "chess tourist" visit to New York City, I came across the interesting book Billy Colias, Midwest Master by M. L. Rantala, Eric Schiller, and Alan Watson (Chess Enterprises 1996). Born June 3, 1966, Colias passed away suddenly in 1993, having achieved a 2400 USCF rating. The fact that he was a chessplayer and a near-contemporary (I was born in 1965) gave me pause. Looking through the book, I was also intrigued by the immediate cause of death: an accidental mix of alcohol and Tylenol, which put him in a coma from which he never recovered. It is well documented that these two common substances taken together can cause severe damage to some people's liver, and I had read about this danger several years back--though it is not widely known (and, I find, not warned about on the side of the Tylenol in my medicine cabinet). Likely Billy's bout with cancer and the chemotherapy he received some years prior made his liver especially susceptible to damage. But the next time you have one too many, I recommend you remember Billy and choose Aspirin....

As a tribute to Billy, who would have celebrated his 40th birthday last month (and who might have achieved a GM title by now), I have compiled and analyzed most of Billy Colias's games with the Grand Prix Attack against the Sicilian Defense (1.e4 c5 f4 or 1.e4 c5 Nc3 followed by f4), which he played during the peak of its popularity among masters during the late 80s and early 90s. If you are interested, you can find more of his games at or in the book I mention above.

Back from Vacation

I just returned from vacation, during which it was not possible to update my blog. Sorry for not telling my regular readers in advance that there would be no current postings for a while, but it did not seem wise to broadcast to the world that my house would be vacant for a week (even if chessplayers seem the least likely people to rob me).... More posts soon.

Monday, July 03, 2006

A Chess Tourist in New York City

If you visit New York City this summer, you will probably want to stop at these "chess tourism" destinations:

1. The Strand Bookstore
828 Broadway at 12th Street. Open Monday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. - 10:30 p.m. and Sundays 11:00 a.m. - 10:30 p.m. Phone 212.473.1452.
This is always my first stop on trips to New York City, since I don't want to purchase anything at another shop that I could have for up to 70% off at The Strand. You will find their table of "Chess Specials" around the middle of the downstairs area, next to lots of books on baseball. Many of the books there are remaindered for a reason (meaning you probably wouldn't want them either), but I never walk away with fewer than three titles when I go. Check their excellent website for their current inventory (where you can also order direct online). Last time I was there, I found The Birth of the Chess Queen ($7.95 hardcover); practically every book on Fischer, including Bobby Fischer Goes to War ($5.95); every book on Nigel Short, including the excellent Profile of a Prodigy ($4.95 hardcover); lots of New in Chess Yearbooks (50% off); and a variety of interesting cast-offs, including The Lost Olympiad: Stockhold 1937 and a book on the late midwest master Billy Colias (which I will be discussing in a future post).

Chess Books at The Strand

The chess table downstairs at The Strand

2. Fred Wilson Chess Books
80 East 11th Street, Suite 334. Open Monday through Saturday from 12-7. Call 212.533.6381 for information or to ask for specific titles.
If you love chess books (especially out of print books), then you will have to stop at Fred Wilson's, where you will usually find the man himself in his packed office space (which he took over from the legendary Albrecht Buschke). Fred is well known for his wonderful interviews at ChessFM. He is also a master chessplayer, lecturer, and published author (whose credits include historical works such as A Pictorial History of Chess and several titles for beginners, including 303 Tricky Chess Tactics). Fred mentioned that his website will soon be more current with his inventory (which numbers about 3,000 books I'd guess), but I think there is nothing like going in person to make that odd discovery and, of course, to chat with the erudite Mr. Wilson, who is a very helpful guide and chess bibliophile. When I was there recently, I was lucky enough to find two large unopened boxes of books he had recently purchased from a collector, which contained several sought after out-of-print titles. The prices for everything were very reasonable and lower than you are likely to find at E-Bay or elsewhere. Fred also sells new books, old journals and magazines (including old copies of Inside Chess, Chess Life and Chess Review), and some chess sets. If you are looking for something particular, odds are fairly good you will find it at Fred Wilson's. And, in any event, you will likely find more books of interest than you can carry.

Fred Wilson Books

Fred Wilson at his chess book shop.

3. Washington Square Park
Washington Square and 4th Street, about three blocks west of Broadway.
The chessplayers gather in the southwest corner of the park, near MacDougal and W. 4th Street, in a hemisphere of chess tables. There are many "chess hustlers" here, looking to make a few bucks from blitz opponents. And, if you have the right attitude, it might even be fun to drop a few games to them (usually winning in material but losing on the clock). But whether or not you play a game, you ought to stop by this classic chess tourist destination, at least on the way to nearby Thompson Street where you will find two more chess shops (see below).

Chess in Washington Square Park

Chess players in Washington Square Park.

Washington Square Park chess

Chess hustlers and "artists."

4. Village Chess Shop
230 Thompson Street. Open 11-midnight every day (call 212.475.9580 for information).
Serving practically as a casual chess club for the community, the Village Chess Shop sells used and new books and chess sets. But I usually see more people playing chess than shopping when I go. It is located just a few blocks down Thompson Street from Washington Square Park.

The Village Chess Shop, New York

The Village Chess Shop

5. Chess Forum
219 Thompson Street. Open 11-midnight every day (call 212.475.2369 for information).
If you are looking for a chess set of any kind, you would do well to stop first at the Chess Forum, which carries a wide variety of both standard and unique pieces and boards. You will also find a wide variety of chess software and some books. The staff is very professional, friendly, and helpful and visitors just interested in looking at their wide variety of amusing theme sets are welcome. The shop is located just a little ways further south from Washington Square Park than the Village Chess Shop, on the opposite side of the street.

Chess Forum, New York

Chess Forum

Chess Forum, New York

Chess sets at Chess Forum.

6. The Marshall Chess Club
23 West 10th Street. Call 212.477.3716 for more information.
Regular office hours: Monday - Friday 6:00 p.m. - 12:00 midnight and Saturday - Sunday 12:00 noon - 12:00 midnight, but members will often open up at other hours.
Though only members have a key to the club, most anyone is welcome to visit for a look around and, if you're lucky, a casual game (though I usually find that there is more interest in rated play than casual play). See the website for membership details and activities.

7. The New York Public Library
5th Avenue and 42nd Street
The main humanities and social sciences library carries most of the 1000+ chess holdings of the New York public libraries. Check their catalog ahead of time to request specific volumes. Copy services on the premises.

New York Public Library, exterior

New York Public Library

8. Coliseum Bookstore and Cafe -- NOW CLOSED!!!
11 West 42nd Street, between 5th and 6th. Open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. - 8:30 p.m., Saturday 11-8:30 p.m., and Sunday noon - 7:00 p.m.
Formerly located across the street from the main branch of the New York Public Library (see above) and Bryant Park, Coliseum Books had one of the largest selections of new chess books of any store in the city. But it closed within months of my visit....

Coliseum Bookstore

The Former Coliseum Bookstore and Cafe

Thus concludes my brief itinerary for a "chess tourist's" visit to New York City. Please use the comments area to list any sites I left out. I welcome "chess tourist's" guides to other cities and invite my fellow chess bloggers to provide them on their own blogs.

West Orange Chess Club

The West Orange Chess Club meets Tuesday nights from 8:00 p.m. - 12 midnight in the Degnan Memorial Park's Field House, 650 Pleasant Valley Way in West Orange (not far from Rt. 280). They have an excellent location overlooking a lake in a quiet corner of the park. It is a very nice club with lots of chances for casual play. Contact: John Hagerty (973-736-3433) for more information.

Here are two pictures from the Kenilworth Chess Club's visit to West Orange last Tuesday. I have annotated the games Massey-Radomskyj, Goeller-Rosas, and Demetrick-Corcoran in previous posts. We won the match 6.5-3.5 on ten boards, but all the games were closely contested.

Kenilworth CC at West Orange CC

Top Boards

Kenilworth CC at West Orange CC

Kenilworth CC at West Orange