The Chess Artistry of Tigran Petrosian

I recently described how chess can be considered an art form so it makes sense that I should also write about one of my favorite chess artists.

Many artists had difficult childhoods and that can certainly be said of the ninth official World Champion Grandmaster Petrosian whose parents died before he was 16. Fortunately, Petrosian found solace on the chessboard and became one of our game grandest masters. Nicknamed “Iron Tigran” because of his solid playing style which at times (such as the entirety of 1962) made him impossible to defeat. However, Petrosian could suddenly switch to attack mode when his opponents overplayed their positions and Boris Spassky even described these sudden shifts by stating, “It is to Petrosian’s advantage that his opponents never know when he is suddenly going to play like Mikhail Tal.”

Petrosian consistently created beautiful masterpieces stemming from his trademark positional exchange sacrifices. On other occasions he would steer the game in the direction of stunning queen sacrifices such as today’s feature position. In doing so he popularized chess in his home country of Armenia and inspired chess fans globally.

Position after white played 34. Re3 in Miroslav Filip vs Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian, Yerevan 1965.

Here there were several reasonable continuations for black including Rg8 and Ref8. However, Tigran chose the more beautiful Qxh2+!

Play continued as shown below until white resigned.

2023 CalChess K-8 Scholastic State Championship

The CalChess K-8 Scholastic Championship is truly one of the most special and memorable events on the Bay Area Chess tournament calendar. I took a stroll around the 2022-23 CalChess K-8 Scholastic State Championship and was quickly reminded why this tournament is commonly referred to as the “Super States!” Enjoy the photos below and look for an in-depth article on the CalChess K-8 Super States in the Spring edition of the CalChess Journal. 

The CalChess Journal: Winter 2022-23

Perhaps you’ve heard that the chess scene in Northern California is amazing! See what makes our region special by checking out the Winter 2022-23 Edition of The CalChess Journal.


Playing with my Student 3/16/23

Chess Coach Chris Torres plays a training game against a talented student and while giving an impromptu history lesson on the Italian Game with references to Gioachino Greco, Nicolas Rossolimo and others. In addition, Mr. Torres thoroughly explains the main strategic themes and tactical motifs of the Giuoco Piano while creating a modern masterpiece worthy of study.

Why Young Chess Players Should Focus on Pawn Endgames

Opening courses and books get all the love from consumers. However, it is of much greater practical importance for young chess players wishing to get better at chess to spend time mastering basic endgame techniques instead of investing hours of time memorizing lines of openings made fashionable by popular chess streamers.

My advice on this subject to chess parents is that immediately after mastering basic checkmating technique, it is incredibly important for their children to start studying King and pawn endgames. Recently, as I was passing by a chessboard at the CalChess K-5 State Championship, I saw one board where the players exchanged some minor pieces and ended up in the position below.

White to move and win not draw.

A few moves after this position was reached, the players agreed to a draw. It was obvious that the young player who had the white pieces simply lacked some basic king and pawn endgame knowledge that would have enabled him to earn the full point. Even more disappointing, the children involved in the game had played no less than fourteen very precise opening moves that they must have spent hours memorizing.

Fortunately, I ran into this player and his father later in the day and gently showed them the correct technique to employ in the future and why Siegbert Tarrasch once said, “it cannot be too greatly emphasized that the most important role in pawn endings is played by the king.”

Winning using proper endgame technique.

Photos from the 2023 CalChess K-5 Scholastic State Championship

This past weekend I was in attendance for the historic 2022-23 CalChess Scholastic State Championship and there was no place I rather be! Bay Area Chess put on a great tournament and as the CalChess Scholastic Coordinator I had the pleasure to review dozens of chess games and saying “hi” to hundreds of friends. Being the Editor for the CalChess Journal also gives me special access to photograph all the future stars of chess. Of course, not all the photographs will be used in the Spring edition of The CalChess Journal so I am sharing all the magic moments I captured from the CalChess K-5 Scholastic State Championship in the photo gallery below. Also, consider encouraging your child to submit their favorite chess games from the event to DailyChessMusings@gmail.com for possible inclusion in the CalChess Journal’s official coverage of the 2022-23 CalChess Scholastic Championships. Together we can make The CalChess Journal the best regional chess magazine in the United States!

Click through the slideshow to see all the pictures

Chess as an Art-Form

A chess game can be a form of art. Winning generally takes precedence over aesthetic considerations; however, artistic positions can be strived for during the contest. The stronger a player’s ability the more likely he/she will notice aesthetic elements. Oftentimes, master level players will see several accurate possibilities and make a decision based on aesthetics to steer the game toward a pretty finish. When this occurs, even the losing player can appreciate the artistry that was displayed on the chessboard.

Chess is Art!

Below is my most beautiful chess finale of recent memory. Immediately after I played checkmate, my opponent paid me the highest compliment a chess artist can expect in such situations. With an expression of pure amazement he said, “Wow… That was a pretty!”

The art of checkmate.

Puzzle Worthy Position 45

Frequent readers of this blog know that Grandmaster Max Euwe is one of my favorite chess heroes. In 1935, chess prognosticators didn’t give Machgielis “Max” Euwe of the Netherlands much of a chance in his title match against World Champion Alexander Alekhine in part because Dr. Euwe wasn’t a professional chess player but rather a full time Math teacher at a girls’ Lyceum in Amsterdam. So it is one of the greatest chess underdog stories of all time that a humble high school math teacher who played most of his serious chess on school vacations was somehow able to outplay GM Alexander Alekhine 15 1/2 to 14 1/2 to become the fifth official World Chess Champion.

Max Euwe celebrating with his students after winning the 1935 World Championship Match against Alexander Alekhine.

GM Max Euwe had a 4-0 record against fellow Dutchman Johan Herman Löhr. Grandmaster Euwe’s third career victory over J H Löhr in 1923 concluded with a pretty mate-in-3 that is definitely a puzzle worthy position.

White to move and mate in 3 (GM Max Euwe vs J.H. Lohr, Amsterdam 1923).

Photos from the 2023 US Amateur Team West Championship Scholastic Chess Tournament 

The US Amateur Team West Championship is one of the most enjoyable California chess traditions. A team event, the US Amateur Team West attracts all the usual faces and their friends to compete in a weekend long celebration of chess. Each year there is also a USATW Scholastic Tournament. As a chess coach, Editor for the CalChess Journal and the Scholastic Coordinators for CalChess, I never miss this opportunity to hang out with the scholastic chess community of Northern California.

This year I would have been enjoying my weekend at the US Amateur Team West Championship, but I was forced to cancel the engagement due to bronchitis. Fortunately, I was able to locate a substitute: Lauren Goodkind, who was attending the event to coach her students agreed to take chess photos of this historic California chess tournament.

Lauren Goodkind is no stranger to the Daily Chess Musings community and even runs a weekly tournament for the Daily Chess Musings Club on Chess.com! Of course she is also one of the most popular chess coaches Northern California so it made perfect sense for her to document the 2023 US Amateur Team West Scholastic Chess Tournament. 

Please enjoy Lauren’s photos from the US Amateur Team West Championship Scholastic Chess Tournament and remember to look for her article on the event in the next issue of The CalChess Journal.

Click through the slide show to see all the pictures.