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Chess Kit Trivia

First chess computer

In 1769, the first chess computer was presented by Baron von Kempelen. The computer was a marvellous device of levers, gears, drums and cylinders. The most important part of the machine was a person hiding inside the machine who actually played the games. The emperor of Austria fooled. So were the Empress of Russia and Napoleon. So when playing a computer, always look under the table to check for a person ;-)
Worst performance?

In 1903, the Grand Master Colonel Moreau put in one of the worst tournament performances of all time. In the Monte Carlo tournament, the Colonel lost all twenty-six of games (that pathetic!). The Colonel complained of a headache but even this was no excuse for his poor performance!

In 1962, the Cyprus chess team also performed quite badly. In the Olympiad teams tournament, they lost all twenty of their matches. Out of eighty games played by the 'awful foursome', they won a measly 3 games. Not surprisingly, the team selectors decided to give some other players a go the following tournament.
What was the shortest games ever played?

Well, in 1972 the game between Hubner and Rogoff lasted all but 1 move. The game went: 1.c4 Draw Agreed. Gee, that game must have been tiring.
What was the largest simultaneous display?

Bjelica from Yugoslavia took on 301 players in 1982. The display laster 9 hours. Bjelica won 258 games, drew 36 and lost only 7. Hmm, that would have been tough.
What was the most trickiest chess puzzle?

J Babson composed a chess puzzle in 1822. The aim was White to play and mate in 1220 moves. It's not very surprising that few people were able to solve it.
What was the first computer chess program?

In 1958 a chess-playing program written by Alex Bernstein was able to play against a human opponent. The computer lost in 22 moves!
Lost in a winning position

Has anybody ever resigned when they had a really easy win?
Well look at the diagram from the game Von Popiel - Marko back in 1902.

In this position, Black resigned. He argued he was losing the bishop since White was threatening 2.Nxd4. If the bishop moved, the rook on d7 would be taken.

Doh! Marko had missed a brilliant move. He could have played 1...Bg1! since he threatens both 2...Qh2 checkmate and 2...Rxd3 winning the queen. Marko was annoyed when he found out. It goes to show that even when the chips are down, there is always a chance to win.


You know that 'Patzer' is a derogatory term that denotes a hopelessly weak player. But do you know how the word patzer came about? The word Patzer is a favourite in most International events. The story goes that the German Grandmaster Jacques Mieses was giving a simultaneous exhibition in England at the turn of the century. One of his opponents had a lone king left on the board against Mieses' King, Queen, Rook and Bishop plus two pawns. The Englishman knew that the word 'Pat' meant Stalemate in German. When Mieses arrived at the board, his opponent politely informed 'Pat, Sir'. As this was far from the case, Mieses replied, "Patzer yourself. It's mate next move." Koltanowski (1978), Chessnicdotes, p10.

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