Faster Chess Means Poorer Chess!
Canadian master Dan Scoones drew my attention to a little known 1927 interview with the (then) World Champion Capablanca, where the Great One comments on fast time controls:
This comment is particularly interesting in that the topic of too many draws and faster (and faster) time controls is especially significant today after the recent criticism of the Kazen Candidates. ”That’s all nonsense” and ”Faster chess means poorer chess.” is a wonderful way to blow-off the critics! Capablanca had a way with words…
The reader might also find insightful Capablanca’s answer to the interviewee’s question on how to improve:
This interview was conducted by a New York Times reporter shortly after the brilliant victory of Capablanca in the 1927 New York International Tournament, a quadruple-round robbin amongst the very best in the world (only Em.Lasker was absent), where Capablanca finished not less than 2.5 points ahead of Alekhine.
The New York Times reporter in question was none other than Hermann Helms (1870-1963), a gentleman who holds a very unique position in American chess. Helms is often referred to as the ‘Dean of American Chess” and is considered by many the most important American journalist for the game, ever. He founded the ‘American Chess Bulletin” in 1904 and edited it until his death.
While Helms was wider known as a chess-organizer par-excellence than as a player ( amongst his many contributions, he helped to organize both New York super-tournaments (1924 and 1927) as well as chess-tours by visiting stars.) it must be confessed that he was certainly no slouch as a player!
A player of master strength (!) Helms won the New York Championship twice; he also defeated both Pillsbury and Marshall in over the board competition.
Helms’ style of play was aggressive and direct. Here is an excellent example, taken from a tournament in New York in 1915:
POSITION AFTER WHITE’S 21st MOVE (21.Be4):
Helms has a decisive strangle hold on the kingside and is not disguising his attempt to give mate! White’s last move neutralizes Black’s lightsquare Bishop, but does not prevent Helms from building up threats:
21…R(8)f5! Threatening Rh5 and mate 22. Bxf5
A perfectly understandable decision. In truth, Black’s attack could not be stopped.
A beautiful finish! It is forced mate: 23.KxQ Rxg3-mate!
[Event “”][Site “New York (USA)”][Date “1915”][Round “”][White “Smith Stephen”][Black “Helms Hermann”][Result “0-1”][Eco “A85”][Annotator “”][Source “”]
1. d4 f5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. c4 e6 4. Nc3 b6 5. e3 Bb7 6. Bd3 Bd6 7. a3 a5 8. O-O
O-O 9. Qc2 Nc6 10. e4 fxe4 11. Nxe4 Nxe4 12. Bxe4 Nxd4 13. Bxh7+ Kh8 14. Nxd4
Qh4 15. g3 Qxd4 16. Bd3 Rf3 17. Be3 Qe5 18. Rae1 Raf8 19. Bxb6 Qh5 20. Be3
Qh3 21. Be4 R8f5 22. Bxf5 Qg2+ 23. Kxg2 Rxg3# 0-1
Hermann Helms lived until the age of 93 and was involved in all aspects of the game. Curiously, it was he who helped get Bobby Fischer into competitive chess.
Chesscom writes in their biography of Bobby Fischer:
”In May 1949, Bobby 9 (age 6) and Joan (age 11) learned how to play chess from instructions found in a chess set that Joan bought at a candy store below their apartment. Bobby saw his first chess book a month later. For over a year Bobby played and studied chess by himself.
On November 14, 1950 his mother sent an ad to the Brooklyn Eagle, looking for chess opponents for her son. The ad was never published because the editorial staff could not decide under what category to place it. The paper then forwarded the ad to Hermann Helms (1870-1963), their chess columnist from 1893 to 1955. He replied in January, 1951, and suggested that Bobby go to a chess exhibition at the Grand Army Plaza Library and come by the Brooklyn Chess Club.”
And the rest, as they say, is ” history”….