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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

How to Play the Sicilian by Yermolinsky

In his excellent book The Road to Chess Improvement GM Alex Yermolinsky gives some general advice on how to play the Sicilian. In the first place Yermo advocates that players should avoid inferior openings and play what the GMs play, things like the Sicilian, Ruy Lopez, Queen’s Gambit, Nimzo-Indian etc. That way you start off with a sound opening and don’t have to struggle from the very beginning trying to overcome a material deficit and what, more often than not, lands you in an inferior position where you are struggling for equality. That goes against the reasoning of a lot of players, but that’s another story.
     Yermo points out that when you are mastering the Sicilian you’ll have to be prepared to meet every side line known, the Alapin, the Closed, the Smith-Mora, the Rossolimo, etc, but none of them should be feared because statistically Black scores better against them than against the open variation.
     In this post we will take a look at Yermo’s analysis on the P-structure where White has a P on e4 vs. P’s on d6 and e6.

a) Fluid P-formation which may take a more stable shape later. Like when white answers …d5 with e5 or black trades his f-Pawn for the e-Pawn. White has a space advantage.
b) Black is making a lot of Pawn moves while white is developing his pieces. Suspicious strategy from the old school point of view
c) White has complete freedom to operate on the K-side. As a result white has reasons to be optimistic about his chances.

There are several ways he can attack.
a) Play e4-e5 opening the f-file and diagonals for his B’s and driving away black’s only defender, the f6N, in the process
b) Play f4-f5 pressuring the e6P and making d5 available for his N if black plays …e5. This plan gains in strength when white’s B is on the a2-g8 diagonal.
c) When the time is right white has several possibilities of sacrificing on critical squares.
d) Pushing the g-Pawn chasing away the f6N, black’s only defender, and then either playing f4-f5-f6 or bringing up the heavy pieces on h-file to conduct a mating attack.

     Yermo also mentioned some general observations like white wins the short games and loses the long ones and when white has to play a3 to stop …b5, black has seized the initiative. Of course these are general observations and not hard and fast rules.
     In the book Yermolinsky concentrated on method ‘d’ and observed that black’s proper response is to counterattack which is often initiated by a sacrifice to eliminate an attacker. Yermo is big on teaching by example, so the following game was one of several he gave.
     Make sure you play over the following game!! Yermolinsky’s comments are very instructive! Also, I HIGHLY recommend buying the book if you are serious about improvement. I think its careful STUDY would add at least 200 points to your rating.
     Back to the game: Below is a position that gave me fits analyzing with Houdini 2 and Stockfish 5. 

Lanka’s Q was on h7 and he actually played 26.Re1 and lost. But had he played 26.Qd3 arriving at the diagrammed position, he might have been able to save the game. At first the move looks impossible because it loses the a1R and that’s probably what Lanka and Yermolinsky thought. It’s also what the engines thought, too, but when I started analyzing the position draws started popping up! If you want a project to work on, you can set up the position and do a thorough analysis and see if that’s true or not. Good luck!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

IM Greg Shahade on Opening Books

     Back in 2012 IM Shahade published an article in Chess Life Online about opening books that was interesting and informative. Here’s the condensed version of his article:

     I think most opening books are not especially good, and laid out in an ineffective way. The layout of these books may be okay for a 2400+ player who is already very experienced in playing the opening, but not as digestible for a sub 2200 player, obviously the main customers. Let me explain the flaws I see in the majority of opening books on the market: For the most part, the main body of an opening book for a sub 2200 player should be no longer than 50 pages long (and even this is stretching it). Of course many people won’t want to buy such a small book…
     I’ve looked at some books on the Caro-Kann, Semi Slav, Najdorf and etc recently and seen so many absurd aspects to these books. First off, there will be a chapter on a relative sideline that you aren’t so likely to see. Then there will be some variation on move 6 where the book will break it into 6 alternatives for your opponent…Now if you are a 1900 player and you want to learn an opening, do you need to know any of this stuff? Of course not.
     Opening books should not be laid out in order of variations…The chapters should be laid out in order of rating. For instance if you want to play an opening at a 1400 level, the 1400 chapter should teach you everything you need to know in order to play the opening at that level. The 1600 level chapter should expand on this, and teach you in a little more depth. The 1800 level should go further, 2000 further and etc, or at least they must use this format within the chapter on each variation. …pages devoted to pretty much every single possible move that white can play. It’s just pointless….if you are likely to see one line 90% of the time, and another line 10% of the time, the line you are going to face 90% of the time should comprise approximately 90% of the material, or at least 75-80.
     I am an IM, so fortunately I understand that 90% of the chapter is completely useless and a total waste of my time to study…However how in the world do we expect a random 1800 who is just trying to learn a new opening to understand this? It’s impossible. I have not seen a single book that does a good job of directing new players as to what they actually have to know, and what is miscellaneous stuff that you can get by your entire career without ever looking at.
     For me personally, it’s just so much easier for me to mess around on ChessBase and come up with ideas. I suppose they are decent as reference works or to figure out what your book-prepped young non ChessBase using opponents are likely to play.
     My problem is that they just don’t seem to have any realistic understanding of what someone rated 2000 actually needs to know about the opening. The answer is not very much, and therefore the books should be directed towards making sure that every level of player knows exactly what they must know... Most opening books function more as reference books than learning tools.
     Every opening book lies: I have never seen an objective opening book in my life. If it’s a book on Winning with the French, in every single line black is either completely equal or slightly better. If you open up some repertoire book for white, it’s at least slightly better for white in nearly every line. It’s completely ridiculous. In the majority of respectable openings black can get pretty close to equality, and any white opening book that throws around the phrase “slightly better” all over the place, is basically just lying to you, or intentionally omitting or burying black’s best defensive tries.
     Many Books Are Outdated Quickly:. The only way you can find this out (Shahade was speaking of recent innovations) is by using ChessBase, making a database of some sort that covers only the last 2-3 years of games of strong players, and checking the stats under reference…The only way you can find out what openings are actually being played now and are in reality the main line, is to have an up to date database, and find a way to cull the games that are played by lower rated players and that are over a few years old.
     Many opening books are good as references, but keeping your chessbase updated and signing up for a yearly subscription to ChessPublishing (and ChessVibes) is key in today's game.

Kandel – Dreibergs

    Having discussed modern correspondence in the previous post, let’s take a look at how they played in the pre-engine days. In the following game, the winner was Irving Kandel, a machinist who learned chess from his grandfather and was part of the 1929 championship team at the City College of New York. He was out of chess for several years raising his family then returned, winning the Maryland State Championship (OTB) three years in a row, 1956-1958. At about the same time Kandel began playing in the Correspondence Chess League of America and won or tied for first place in eight Grand National Championships. His record still stands.

     Here is his obituary from the Baltimore Sun: Irving Kandel, a retired machinist, died Dec. 21, 1993 of leukemia at a hospital in Westminster, Colorado. The 80-year-old Northwest Baltimore resident retired 15 years ago after working for many years for the Maryland Cup Co. A native of New York City who came to Baltimore as a young man, he served in the Navy during World War II. A tournament bridge player, he also was a chess player who won Maryland and New York City championships in the 1950s and 1960s. His wife, the former Nanette Shapiro, died in 1987. Mr. Kandel is survived by a daughter, Elisabeth Earle Kandel-Leistikow; a son, Joseph Kandel; and four granddaughters. All are of Denver. At his request, no services will be conducted.
     His opponent, Leonid Dreibergs (27 October 1908, Riga – 6 April 1969, Saginaw, Michigan) was a Latvian–American OTB and Postal Master. He took sixth place at Riga 1930 (Vladimirs Petrovs won), took ninth at Ķemeri 1939 (Salo Flohr won), and took fifth at Riga 1941 (Alexander Koblencs won).
     At the end of World War II, joining the westward exodus in 1944/45, he — along with many other Baltic players, e.g. Romanas Arlauskas, Lucijs Endzelins, Miervaldis Jursevskis, Leho Laurine, Edmar Mednis, Karlis Ozols, Ortvin Sarapu, Povilas Tautvaišas, Povilas Vaitonis, Elmārs Zemgalis, etc., and Ukrainian players, e.g. Fedor Bohatirchuk, Stepan Popel, Myroslav Turiansky, etc. — moved to the West.
     After the war, as a Displaced Person in West Germany, he tied for 12-13th at Augsburg 1946 (Wolfgang Unzicker won), and shared first with Zemgalis at Esslingen 1949. Then, he emigrated to the United States. Dreibergs won twice the Michigan Championship (1954 and 1955). He also played in Correspondence Chess League of America.

Monday, September 15, 2014

More Thoughts on Correspondence Chess

Modern CC Master's Work of Art
   I ran into a friend the other day who asked me if I was still playing chess and I told him just correspondence and the discussion, of course, got around to CC these days and engine use. Like many, he didn’t see the point of letting my engine play against the other guy’s engine. The oft heard comment that you don’t learn anything that way also came up. First, I explained I am not trying to learn anything. If you want to learn something, using engines only has a limited value.
My CC Work of Art

     For some players the point of correspondence chess is to play a game using postcards or servers against another opponent with both using only their own brains. For others it involves playing one engine against another and trying to coax a win out of the position any way you can, be it by using more powerful hardware, deeply researching openings, getting into positions engines don’t play especially well, using your own judgment, etc, etc. The problem is when the users of engines encroach on the domain of non-engine users who are actually are playing to learn something or who simply prefer to play without engines. In this case it becomes cheating because it’s against the rules. However, on places like the ICCF and LSS where there are no rules against engine use, unless you are a near beginner, you will be facing other engine users in which case failing to use an engine means you will lose. That wasn’t the case 20 years or so ago because engines weren’t that good, but not now. LSS does offer Chess960 and no engine tournaments, but I am doubtful if everybody in those events really doesn’t use an engine to some extent.
     ICCF and LSS allow engines because it's pretty much impossible to police their use and as I have stated before, it is more than just who uses the strongest engine. It is a different skill that involves knowing how to optimally use an engine in combination with positional knowledge that engines don't have. In engine assisted chess somebody always wins more games and establishes higher ratings even though they are playing against other people’s engines, so how is that? You simply can’t get a high rating on ICCF or LSS by just copying the computer's moves.
     On ICCF and LSS very few, except perhaps the very lowest rated, play simply for fun. People are out to win because wins gain you rating points and the possibility of reaching norms. Of course these points and norms are meaningless in real chess (OTB), but they do have meaning for players on whatever site they happen to be playing on whether engines are allowed or not. Besides all that, winning is better.
     Top players generally use more than one engine. I use mostly Stockfish, Critter and Houdini 2, but the best move is still not always obvious. For example, in a recent engine tournament I ran, Stockfish finished first but drew with Houdini and Critter which tied for 2nd and 3rd. However, SF also drew with Komodo 5 which finished in 6th place. Meanwhile Houdini lost to 4th place Gull 3 and drew with 7th place Deep Rybka 4. Critter suffered its only loss to Houdini. So, there are no foregone conclusions that even with a top rated engine, it will, left to itself, always win. Then too, sometimes you get quite different evaluations from different engines on the same position. All of which complicate things when trying to find the best move.
     The really top CC players do a very deep opening analysis of top lines. For example the Bogo Indian and the Catalan enjoy great success in the upper levels of CC play these days, but personally, I don’t like playing the same opening over and over. In fact I recently played the Urusov Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nf3) in a couple of games because I thought there was some improvements to be found in published analysis. The result was a win and a loss, so for many of us playing the Bogo and Catalan aren’t necessary; you can still have some fun playing other stuff. Unless you are looking for ideas, opening manuals are useless. Forget about lines Fischer used in 70s. Another key factor in modern correspondence chess is to find positions that are initially evaluated favorably by chess engines, but can be shown to be faulty after deep analysis. This is where something called CAP comes in. CAP is short for the Computer Analysis Project, an effort started by Dann Corbit. Tens of millions of positions have been evaluated and some engine opening books come with a large database of such pre-computed positions. These CAP evaluations may be different from the evaluations computed by the engine during game analysis.
     If you’re a CC player, save your money on opening books unless all you want are general guidelines and ideas. You will likely find “holes” in the opening books by engine analysis and searching through your database of 2 million (or more) games. One would think that by simply copying a GMs moves in the opening it would guarantee getting a good game, right? Wrong! They sometimes play inferior moves and sometimes their analysis is wrong.
     You have to decide which openings/defenses you are going to use. As White, play the old routine 1.d4 with a Torre Attack where I’m pretty familiar with the positional themes of all the various responses or risk 1.e4 and play against the Najdorf Sicilian with all its tons of theory which I am not familiar with. And, if my opponent plays 1…e5, then what? Play some obscure line and get caught in an inferior position or stick to mainline openings and get caught in some novelty. Even in a familiar line you run into somebody who has done their homework and found an improvement. These are the same problems the Grandmasters face.
     CC players are different animals than OTB players. Chess books have been written by OTB players so a lot of stuff about openings, tactics, especially tactics, don’t apply in correspondence chess because tactics usually aren’t an issue…the engine will make sure you avoid them. What’s important are opening research, strategic ideas and endings and that's enough to turn a lot of people off engine assisted chess right there! 
     In the end correspondence chess, whether played with or without an engine, is not a game that some people are particularly interested in playing, but the main thing is that either way you choose to play it, it can be challenging. I just wish people who choose to use engines would stay off sites where their use is prohibited. If they would just do that, the controversy over engine use would pretty much be eliminated.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Caruana Crushs Topalov

  As most of you know, the Sinquefield Cup chess tournament is history. Magnus Carlsen, Levon Aronian, Fabiano Caruana, Hikaru Nakamura, Veselin Topalov and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (2802 average Elo!) competed making it the strongest tournament in history.
The event was played August 27th to 7th September 7th, 2014.
     Fabiano Caruana scored a fantastic 8.5 – 1.5 winning his first 7 games before finishing undefeated. Magnus Carlsen finished second. The tournament was a disappointment for Nakmura fans.

     Caruana was born on July 30, 1992 in Miami, Florida and when he was four his family moved to Brooklyn, New York.  His talent for chess was discovered the following year at an after school chess program. In 2004, at age twelve, his family relocated to Madrid so he could better pursue his chess career. He trained with IM Boris Zlotnik in Madrid and in 2007 he moved to Budapest to train with GM Alex Chernin. It looks like there may be a world championship in his future.

Final Standings were:
1-Caruana 8.5
2-Carlsen 5.5
3-Topalov 5.0
4-5-Aronian, Vachier-Lagrave 4.0
6-Nakamura 3.0

One of the more exciting games I came across was Caruana’s crush of Topalov for his fifth successive win.

Make Your Own Opening Books with SCID

SCID vs. PC is the most fully-featured non-commercial chess program available. It is a very good and very fast database program similar to Chessbase. Download it direct from SourceForge
     It there is also a lot of other valuable stuff it can do. If you are interested in making your own opening book, either to use on your computer with an engine or to print out a hard copy, SCID is a great program. You can use it to produce an opening report that displays all kinds of facts about an opening. Information like which games that reach the position and moves played from the position. You can see if the opening is becoming popular, if it gives a lot of draws, and what transpositions are possible, etc. etc. The Positional Themes section reports the frequency some common positional themes e.g. an isolated QP. Finally, there is the theory table, i.e. the ‘book.’ Here’s a sample of what you get for the opening book:

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Urusov Gambit

     A couple of years ago I posted information on the Dimock Theme Tournament which featured the Urusov Gambit. The main line of the Urusov Gambit is reached after 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nf3. The Rutgers Website has a detailed analysis. Michael Goeller also has some excellent analysis on the Urusov (also the Two Knights Defense and the Bishops Opening) on his site.  Another resource discussing the Urusov (in French) can be found HERE.
     The Urusov has been popular among attacking players for nearly 150 years. Adopted by Schlechter, Tartakower, Caro, and Mieses, the opening claimed victims among the best defenders of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including Steinitz and Lasker. By 1924 there was enough interest in the line that a thematic tournament was organized in New York featuring Marshall, Torre, Santasiere and four local New York masters. After the Dimock Theme Tournament the Urusov’s popularity waned until correspondence players began exploring the opening's many forcing lines and Yakov Estrin (World Correspondence Champion from 1975 to 1980) published several monographs that carried the analysis well into the middlegame. Estrin's analysis revealed an equalizing method for Black (with Panov's 4....d5) and suggested that some of the lines might end in equality with best play.
     Recently I decided to give it a try in an LSS tournament because I had looked at the games and analysis and became intrigued by its possibilities. Also, I wanted to experiment with the Rybka engine’s Monte Carlo Analysis Method, something I had not been able to do previously because I didn’t have a Rybka engine. I succeeded in playing the Urusov in two games, winning one and the other is still in progress. I am fighting for a draw in that one. This post contains only some of the analysis that resulted.
     In one game after 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nf3 Black chose 4…Nc6 which according to the engine opening book is the most popular, but I think it’s already mistake. White’s 4th move threatens to advance with e5, forcing the Knight to e4, where it is vulnerable to attack. So while 4…Nc6 is the most popular, it doesn't seem logical in view of the fact that it does not prevent White from playing the move he wants to play, namely 5.e5. Monte Carlo Analysis statistics seem to bear this out as White scored +180 -104 =92.
     In the other game Black chose the Panov line: 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nf3 d5! 5.exd5 Bb4+. On move 8, after a lot of deep positional analysis and Monte Carlo analysis, I selected the less popular 8.Nc3 instead of 8.bc3. MC analysis showed 8.Nc3 as yielding better results for White, but the further course of the game would seem to indicate that two factors influenced the outcome: the shallow depth (7 ply) and the fact that Deep Rybka 4w32 is not as strong as Houdini and Stockfish engine, resulting is less accurate results.
    Against Panov’s 5…Bb4+ I was unable to avoid a slightly inferior position. In fact, as late as move 20 or so I did a Shootout with Houdini 2 and White scored +0 -1 =3. Hardly conclusive, but it illustrate the difficulty White has against Panov’ idea. I won the game where my opponent played 4…Nc6 and am struggling to hold the draw against Panov’s 5…Bb4+.
     Conclusion: I think the Urusov is good to play over the board for those that like gambits. You could find yourself in trouble IF your opponent is booked up on the Panov idea, but that’s probably not going to happen. It could also be played in correspondence chess on places like ICCF and LSS, but with engines being allowed on those sites, you will have to search really deep to find a way for White to equalize if you run into the Panov variation.
     If you are looking for an opening project to tinker around with you can try searching for something for White after 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nf3 d5 5.exd5 Bb4+! Who knows, you could get a variation named after yourself.

Monday, September 8, 2014

James M. Hanham

   American Master James M. Hanham (January 4, 1840 Woodville, Mississippi – December 30, 1923 New York, New York) played in many American and international tournaments between 1884 and 1889. Although originally from Mississippi Hanham fought for the Union Army during the Civil War. He saw action at Fort Pickens and Baton Rouge, and was promoted to the rank of Major. For most of the Civil War Hanham commanded “Colored” troops.
     Here is an account from the Florida Historical Quarterly dated October, 1957 which describes Hanham’s actions during the battle at Fort Pickens, Florida in 1861.

     The sleeping members of the 6th New York were instantly aroused. Colonel Wilson turned out his command. He was in the process of forming his unit on the drill ground, fronting the camp hospital, when Lieutenant Moore Hanham, officer of the guard, rushed up to the colonel and excitedly informed him "that about 2,000 armed men in two columns were marching upon us; that the pickets were all attacked about the same time." Upon hearing this intelligence Wilson dispatched his orderly to inform Colonel Brown of the situation. Skirmishers were thrown out and the New Yorker ordered his men to deploy to the left.
     Upon hearing the shot that had aroused the Federal camp Colonel Jackson personally led his men to their assigned position. The dense bush in the center of the island somewhat retarded this advance. Nevertheless Jackson urged his men forward and they arrived before Camp Brown somewhat ahead of the other two battalions. In the irresistible forward surge of the Southerners additional Federal pickets were flushed and either died in their tracks or sought safety in flight. Jackson, without a moment's hesitation, ordered his men to charge the Federal cantonment. Before the élan of Jackson's men the New Yorkers bolted for the beach. The deserted camp was captured. Many of the Confederates, believing the battle was won, now began to plunder the foe's tents.
     Colonel Wilson, aided and abetted by Lieutenants Christian, Kraell, and Hanham, now endeavored to rally his panic stricken men. They had succeeded in reforming about 60 of them behind the first ridge west of the drill field when a few stragglers came in and informed Wilson "that his second in command Lieutenant-Colonel Creighton, Captains Hazeltine, Hoelzle, and Henberer with the balance of the 6th New York had retreated toward Fort Pickens." On hearing this the men, in spite of appeals to their patriotism by their commander, resumed their flight, only halting when they had reached the safety of Battery Totten.
     After the war, he moved to New York City.
     A writer in the New York Times, describing the players in the Sixth American Chess Congress (1889), portrayed him as follows: "Major Hanham is a little, nervous man, who hates to sit still. He won his title during the war of the rebellion. He was one of the dudes of the tournament, and was always dressed in the latest style, with a carefully polished silk hat and neatly trimmed beard."
     At American tournaments, he finished second to Eugene Delmar in the 8th and 9th championships of the Manhattan Chess Club, both held in 1885, and at an 1886 New York Chess Club tournament.
     At Cincinnati 1888, the first United States Chess Association tournament, he tied for 2nd–3rd with 5.5 out of 10, far behind winner Jackson Showalter. He finished 3rd with 3/6 at Lexington 1891, the fourth United States Chess Association tournament. He won two tournaments at Skaneateles, New York in 1891.
     At international tournaments, Hanham performed respectably but not spectacularly, usually finishing in the bottom half. In 1886 at London finished 12th out of 13 with 3.5 out of 12 and at Nottingham he finished 8th out of 10 with 2 points.
     At the Sixth American Chess Congress at New York 1889, a double round robin that was one of the longest tournaments in history, Hanham scored 14/38, finishing 16th out of 20 players; Mikhail Chigorin and Max Weiss tied for first with 29 points, edging out Isidor Gunsberg (28.5). At New York 1894, Hanham tied for 7th–9th with a 4 points.
     One of Hanham's best results was at New York 1893, where he scored 7.5 – 6.5 and finished 6th out of 14 players. In the process he defeated Pillsbury who finished ½ point ahead of him.
     According to Prof. Arpad Elo's calculation, Hanham's strength during his five-year peak was equivalent to an Elo rating of 2360.
     He is remembered today for several opening innovations, particularly the Hanham Variation of Philidor's Defense. Authors Hooper and Whyld also credit Hanham with introducing a number of other opening lines, including the Grand Prix Attack against the Sicilian Defense, the Indian Opening (1.e4 e5 2.d3), and the Hanham Variation of the French Defense (1.e4 e6 2.d3), often referred to today as the King's Indian Attack.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Reshevsky - Capablanca Margate1935 by Kingscrusher

1st Reshevsky 7½
2nd Capablanca 7
3rd Thomas 5
=4th Klein 4½
=4th Sergeant 4½
=6th Reilly 4
=6th Fairhurst 4
8th Milner-Barry 3½
=9th Menchik 2½
=9th Mieses 2½
All games are available on chessdotcom

Eugene Delmar

    A few days ago while playing over some old games I ran across one played by Delmar and found it to be filled with complications. The name Delmar was familiar, but not really knowing anything about him, I looked him up on the Internet. Unfortunately information on Delmar is scant, but I did find a number of his games and greatly enjoyed playing through them. 
     Eugene Delmar (born September 12, 1841, New York – died February 22, 1909, New York), was one of the leading US masters of 19th century and a four-time New York State champion in 1890, 1891, 1895 and 1897. By 1892 Delmar was an institution in New York City. Born when America was in love with Paul Morphy, in the 1850’s he was a regular at the Morphy Chess Rooms in the city. The Morphy Chess Rooms were located on the south-eastern corner of Broadway and Fourth Street and were the haunt of all the  city's leading players of the day.
Fourth & Broadway today

     Delmar played in the first Free Tournament held at the Morphy Rooms and gave free lessons to a promising player, Philip Richardson, who became one of the top players of the period. Known for his great tactical ability, Delmar was active for the better part of 50 years and won many local tournaments.  He was a four time New York State Champion; he also participated in famous Cambridge Springs tournament of 1904, but came in last with a +3 -9 =3; he was in his early 60's at the time, the oldest of all the participants.
     Chessmetrics puts Delmar’s highest rating at 2658 in July of 1886 which placed him at number 6 in the world behind Steinitz, Zukertort, Blackburne Englisch and Gunsberg. Away from the board he was a cantankerous old cuss and was frequently involved in editorial feuds with other players.