- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 19, 2019

It got a little lost in the shuffle, but we should give a proper send-off to fellow chess columnist and unlikely public television superstar Shelby Lyman, who died in August at the age of 82.

It may be an “OK, boomer” moment, but many of us got our first introduction to high-level chess through Lyman’s low-tech but phenomenally popular explications of the 1972 Fischer-Spassky match for the Albany, New York. PBS station. Lyman would go on to pen a long-running syndicated daily chess column for Newsday that was picked up by dozens of newspapers around the country.

A genial, utterly natural performer before the TV cameras, Lyman was no slouch at the chessboard, a Marshall Chess Club champion and a strong New York master at a time when New York was the center of American chess. Check out his win over New Jersey master Edgar McCormick from the 1962 U.S. Open, where White continually throws fuel on the bonfire in search of checkmate.

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Lyman reveals his aggressive intentions with 10. Bh6!? Bxf3 11. Bxg7 Bxd1 12. Bxf8 Kxf8 13. d5! (Qxd1 Qxd4 just leaves White a pawn down with no compensation) Bg4 14. h4!?, not bothering to recapture the piece in pursuit of a mating attack.

Black gives back the piece to seal the kingside with 15. f3 f6!? (Bc8!? 16. h5 Kg8! 17. hxg6 Nxg6 18. Qh6 Qd6! 19. Qxh7+ Kf8, and White still must justify his sacrifice) 16. fxg4 17. h5 g5, but Lyman will not be denied: 22. Nxh7+ Kg7 23. Nxf6!? exf6 24. h6+ Kf7 25. h7 Ng6?? (finally cracking under the intense defensive strain; Black holds the position with 25…Qc7! 26. Rf1 [h8=Q Rxh8 27. Rxh8 Nd3+ and wins] Nbd7 27. Qg5 Rh8) 26. h8=N+! (forcing and aesthetically pleasing, though 26. h8=Q also works) Nxh8 27. Rh7+!, and Black resigned.

It’s curtains after 27…Ke6 (or 27…Kg8 28. Qh6 Qd7 29. Rxh8+, winning easily) 28. Bg4+ f5 29. Bxf5+ Kf6 30. Bd7+ Kg6 31. Qf5 mate.

Lyman’s daily chess column, begun in 1972, ran for decades, but the current longevity champ is 90-years-young English master Leonard Barden, whose weekly column has been running in The Guardian for an astonishing 63 years.

Like Lyman, Barden was a formidable force at the board, with a talent for the attack. One of his best games came at the fabled Hastings International Chess Congress in 1950 against American Weaver Adams, a game Barden has often cited as a personal favorite.

White sacrifices a knight right out of the box: 8. Nxf7!? Kxf7 9. Qf3+ Ke6 (Bf6 10. Bxd5+ Be6 11. Bxe6+ Kxe6 12. Nd2 is good for White) 10. Qe4!, a new move at the time that powerfully centralizes White’s strongest piece.

Barden doesn’t rush to win back material, relying on his overwhelming development lead to see him through.

The end is a textbook demonstration of the power of central dominance and piece placement: 18. Rad1 Rc8 (if castling long were legal, Black might have a chance, but the poor king has already made the e8-f7-e6-d7-e8 circuit) 19. Bxe7 Qxe7 (see diagram) 20. d5! (time to open lines!) Qc5+ 21. Kh1 cxd5 22. cxd5 Bd7 23. e6 (the central pawns, backed by all White’s major pieces, are simply overwhelming) Bb5 24. Qf4 Kd8 (Bxe2 25. Qf7+ Kd8 26. Qd7 mate) 25. Bxb5 Nxb5 26. Nxb5 Qxb5 27. d6, and Black gave up as there’s no answer to the threat of 28. e7+ and wins.

Lyman-McCormick, 63rd U.S. Open, San Antonio, August 1962

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Nf6 3. Nf3 Nxd5 4. d4 g6 5. c4 Nb6 6. Nc3 Bg7 7. Be3 O-O 8. Qd2 Nc6 9. O-O-O Bg4 10. Bh6 Bxf3 11. Bxg7 Bxd1 12. Bxf8 Kxf8 13. d5 Bg4 14. h4 Ne5 15. f3 f6 16. fxg4 Nxg4 17. h5 g5 18. Ne4 c6 19. Be2 cxd5 20. Nxg5 Qc8 21. Qf4 Ne5 22. Nxh7+ Kg7 23. Nxf6 exf6 24. h6+ Kf7 25. h7 Ng6 26. h8=N+ Nxh8 27. Rh7+ Black resigns.

Barden-Adams, Hastings, England, 1950-1951

1. e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Nxd5 6.d4 Bb4+ 7.c3 Be7 8.Nxf7 Kxf7 9.Qf3+ Ke6 10.Qe4 Bf8 11.O-O Nce7 12.f4 c6 13.fxe5 Kd7 14.Be2 Ke8 15.c4 Nc7 16.Nc3 Be6 17.Bg5 Qd7 18.Rad1 Rc8 19.Bxe7 Qxe7 20.d5 Qc5+ 21.Kh1 cxd5 22.cxd5 Bd7 23.e6 Bb5 24.Qf4 Kd8 25.Bxb5 Nxb5 26.Nxb5 Qxb5 27. d6 Black resigns.

David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by email [email protected].

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