Saturday, May 11

New Zealand Championship: Play-off games

As we reported in an earlier entry, the tourney for the Championship of New Zealand finished in a three-way deadlock, with Messrs. Grierson, Gyles, and Hicks each having scored 8 1/2 points from 11 games.  Honors were likewise even in the games played between the members of this trio during the main tournament, as Grierson defeated Gyles, Gyles bested Hicks, and Hicks topped Grierson.  A play-off was therefore arranged to decide the Championship, with Grierson emerging as the clear victor after defeating Gyles and Hicks in succession, and so rendering a game between the latter two unnecessary.  The first play-off game, between Grierson and Gyles, was unfortunately marked by a terrible oversight on the part of the loser, who allowed mate in one in a position in which he certainly stood no worse; those who have experienced the physical and mental fatigue attendant to a long spell of tournament chess will well understand how such a thing could occur.  The game between Hicks and Grierson was a much more tightly-contested affair, which the new Champion decided in his favor only deep in the endgame - an endgame, moreover, that falls within the sphere of interest of our friend Prof. Malinov, as we shall discuss below.

First, the Grierson-Gyles game.

Before we turn to the game between Hicks and Grierson, allow us a short digression.  Once before, in our notes to the encounter between Duras and Flamberg from the Warsaw triangular tourney, we mentioned our clubmate Prof. Malinov and his life-long effort to analyze and tabulate simple chess endgames with a view toward determining the proper evaluation of all such positions, and demonstrating therein the shortest route to victory, or the surest path to a draw.  The good professor, who has gradually broadened the scope of his investigations over time, now believes that he has "solved" chess for all positions with six or fewer men remaining on the board, such a count to include the two Kings.  The task has been enormous.  We have personally seen Prof. Malinov's collection of handwritten analytical notebooks - they completely fill three large rooms in his home -  and we would have thought one lifetime insufficient to carry out such a task.  Be that as it may, the Hicks-Grierson endgame falls within the professor's purview after White's 56th move, and in the notes below we have related his observations on it.  As before, we are unqualified to pass judgment on the accuracy of Prof. Malinov's conclusions, and can only marvel at the labor it required to reach them. To the game:

We had thought to make this our final entry on the New Zealand Championship, but an examination of the remaining games from the tourney has revealed much worthwhile material, which we shall therefore present tomorrow. 

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