- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 18, 2017

In the world of chess publishing, we have a 50-year anniversary and news of an ambitious start-up, and both are an occasion for celebration.

The editorial team behind the iconic Chess Informant, which since 1966 has been publishing its biennial collections of annotated games, tournament crosstables, combinations and endgames, has just launched the handsome new American Chess Magazine, which debuted in December with a cover story on the gold medal-winning U.S. Olympiad team.

Based just on the first issue, the quarterly ACM looks to be the most ambitious new U.S. chess publication since the demise of GM Yasser Seirawan’s late, lamented Inside Chess in 2000. For the photo-filled first issue, Editor-in-Chief Josef Asik, a Serbian FM, has commissioned multiple deep analytical articles on the Olympiad, columns and features from such popular writers as GM Joel Benjamin, IM Greg Shahade and GM Baadur Jobava, and even a rare annotated game from the brilliant Ukrainian GM Vassily Ivanchuk.

The large-format, 152-page first issue is available for $29.95, and a four-issue annual subscription is $99. Find out more at acmchess.com.

The bare-bones Informants, with their now-familiar language of emoji-like analysis codes and comprehensive surveys of the latest in opening theory, were the indispensable bible for chess enthusiasts in the days before chess computers and massive game databases. In ways that are hard to comprehend today, the arrival of the latest, plain-colored Informants was an event ­­— the only way most chessplayers could catch up on the latest theory or the latest brilliancies played around the world, with players like Fischer, Tal and Spassky often annotating their own games.

The Belgrade-based publication was a rare bridge across the Cold War divide. There was both a vocabulary lesson and a kind of poetry in its efficient mix of the various languages of the game: “A mistake. Slab potez. Ein schwacherZug. Un coup faible. Mala jugada. Mossa debole. Ett daligt drag.”

ChessBase.com columnist Albert Silver noted, accurately, “For the longest time, claiming a complete collection of Chess Informants was the chess equivalent of owning the Encyclopaedia Britannica.”

In my own chess library, pulling down a random Informant from the shelves is the prelude to hours of happy browsing and the end to anything else productive that day.

Today’s game and the diagram position both come from the “Informator 15” covering the first half of 1973.

Ukrainian GM Oleg Romanishin was having one of the best years of his career at the time, fresh off a European junior championship and on his way to becoming one of the Soviet Union’s top players. Here he pulls off a beautiful concluding tactic to finish off Russian IM Yuri Anikaev in an absorbing Sicilian Najdorf.

White wrests the advantage on 17. Ng5!? (only equal was 17. Qg3 Bg7 18. Bd4 0-0) Nxe5 18. Nge4! (not 18. Nce4 0-0-0! 19. Bc5 hxg5 20. Bxe7 Rxh3 21. Bxd8 Re3 and Black is better) f5 19. Qg3 fxe4 20. Nxe4!? 0-0-0 (dangerous is 20…Bg7?! 21. Bc5 Qc7 22. Nd6+)) 21. Qxe5 Bg7 22. Qc5+! Qxc5 23. Nxc5 Bxb2? 23. Nxb7, and the Black king will be flushed out of the pocket despite the absence of the queens.

The exposure proves fatal on 30. Ke2 Rc8 (Kf5 31. Rb4! [threatening mate in one] h5 32. h3 Bd4 33. g4+! hxg4 34. hxg4+ Kxg4 35. c3 and wins) 31. Ra4+ Bd4 32. c3!! Rxc3 33. Rxe5+!, and Anikaev resigned as he will be a piece down after 33…Kxe5 34. Bxd4+ Kf5 35. Bxc3.

Today’s diagrammed position shows a forgotten gem from a forgotten Swedish tournament included in the same issue’s “Best Combinations” section. Remarkably, Black wins by walking into a king-and-queen knight fork — with check: 1…Kf7!! 2. Nd6+ Ke7 3. Qxb5 (Nf5+ Rxf5!) Nf4+!, and both 4. gxf4 and 4. Kh2 allow 4…Rh8 mate.

Romanishin-Anikaev, Soviet Union, 1973

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Nc3 a6 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 Nf6 6. Bc4 e6 7. Be3 b5 8. Bb3 Bb7 9. O-O Nc6 10. f4 Na5 11. e5 Nxb3 12. axb3 dxe5 13. fxe5 Nd7 14. Qh5 g6 15. Qh3 Qe7 16. Nf3 h6 17. Ng5 Nxe5 18. Nge4 f5 19. Qg3 fxe4 20. Nxe4 O-O-O 21. Qxe5 Bg7 22. Qc5+ Qxc5 23. Nxc5 Bxb2 24. Nxb7 Kxb7 25. Rf7+ Kc6 26. Rxa6+ Kd5 27. Rb7 e5 28. Rxb5+ Ke4 29. Kf2 Rhf8+ 30. Ke2 Rc8 31. Ra4+ Bd4 32. c3 Rxc3 33. Rxe5+ Black resigns.

David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by email at dsands@washingtontimes.com.

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