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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

It's Better to Give Than to Receive, Maybe

In the latest ChessCafe Dutch Treat column by Hans Ree, he reviews an interesting story about Emanuel Lasker en route from Europe to New York for the classic 1924 New York tournament, which Lasker won. On board the ship Lasker found another traveler who was analyzing a chess position. The fellow, not knowing who Lasker was, offered to play him, giving Lasker queen odds. Lasker conveniently lost the first two games, after which he told his opponent that it must be that playing without the queen represented an advantage, and asked to play again, this time with Lasker giving queen odds to his unwitting opponent. The opponent reluctantly agreed, and was amazed when Lasker then won the next two games, leaving the poor fellow "in bewilderment about the nature of the game of chess," writes Ree.

Hans goes on to provide more background information about the other players traveling from Europe to New York for the tournament, and then updates us with the more recent example of Jaan Ehlvest playing the Rybka chess engine, with Ehlvest receiving pawn odds in each of eight games. Interestingly, it was a different pawn that was removed from the computer's setup each game.

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