George Koltanowski, one of the greatest personalities in the chess world, died last week in San Francisco at the age of 96. 'Kolty', as he became known, was born in Belgium but moved to the US after WWII. As a young master he achieved fair results in strong European tournaments but became famous thanks to his astonishing feats of memory.
In the pre-war years Kolty and Alexander Alekhine competed to establish the world
blindfold simultaneous record until Kolty's 34 games, undefeated, in Edinburgh 1937,
finally settled the argument. Kolty's record stands to this day as the supreme achievement
in blindfold chess. Even in the 1990s Kolty could be found at tournaments performing his
famous Knight's Tour for the crowds. Kolty would ask the audience for a name for each
square on the board - a telephone number, a chemical formula, whatever. He would stare at
the names for a couple of minutes then, blindfolded, would move a knight around the board,
visiting each square
only once and remembering all the names given to each square.
Kolty was also the longest running columnist in the US, his 52 years with the 'San Francisco Chronicle' being bettered worldwide only by Garry Koshnitsky's 59 years writing for the 'Sun-Herald'. Ever-cheerful, Kolty was a popular arbiter, gaining the IA title as early as 1960. At the 1991 Pan-Pacific Classic I had cause to complain about the piped music in the playing room and Kolty listened patiently to my comments before replying "What music?". I then realised that Kolty, through sheer force of personality, had disguised the fact that his hearing had almost gone. Even so, he ensured the music was turned off.
Opening: Ruy Lopez
#1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 d6 5.Bxc6+ bxc6 6.d4 exd4 7.Nxd4 Bd7#
Today this is considered an overly passive system, but only if White quickly achieves the e5 advance.
#8.0-0 g6 9.Nc3 Bg7 10.Re1 Ne7 11.Bf4 0-0 12.Qd2 c5! 13.Nb3 Nc6 14.Bh6 Be6 15.Bxg7 Kxg7 16.Nd5 f6!?#
Black has emerged quite well from the opening but starts drifting. The text move is not bad, but 16...Bxd5 would be safer.
#17.Rad1 Rb8 18.Qc3 Qc8?! 19.a3 Qb7 20.h3 Rf7 21.Re3 Qb5? (Diagram) 22.Nxc7!! Rxc7 23.Rxd6 Bc4 24.a4! Qxa4 25.Nxc5 Qb5 26.Qxf6+ Kg8 27.Nd7 Rd8 28.Rf3!#
Now Black, with his queen offside, has no way of halting the World Champion's attack.
#23...Qb4 29.c3 Qb5 30.Ne5 Rdc8 31.Nxc6 1-0#
Wydra Memorial Rapid
Final scores (Israel unless stated):
1. Anand (India) 9.5/14;
2eq. Gelfand, Svidler (Rus) 9;
4. Psakhis 7;
5. Huzman 6.5;
6. Avrukh 5.5;
7. Greenfeld 5;
8. Bareev (Rus) 4.5.