A Retired Man with the Eyes of a Child: Boris Spasski

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I am Boris Vasilyevich Spasski, a retired man. I am in the endgame of my life”, is how Boris Spasski just recently introduced himself as in an interview with Anatoly Samokhav (R-Sport).

He experienced a lot in almost eight decades. To the occasion of his 78th birthday we would like to take a moment and recall the big moments of this eventful life.

Spasski was born on January 30, 1937 in Leningrad. He says “It’s not Leningrad, it is Petrograd. I simply do not accept the name ‘Leningrad’, as I know the history of the city. It is not Lenin’s city. It is Peter’s city. This is my home”.

At an early age of nine, Boris Spasski joined the Chess Section of the Leningrad Pioneer Palace. The governmental aid (focused coach and a monthly scholarship) in addition to his great talent helped him to enter the first category of the Soviet ranking system at ten years old. One year later he won the Championship title in his section.

At the quarter finals of the USSR Championship in 1952, he obtained fifty percent of the possible score and ranked second at the Leningrad Championship.

In 1953, the Soviet Chess Association sent Spasski to his first international tournament to Bucharest at which he ranked fourth. In consequence, he was awarded with the FIDE title International Master.

Spasski won the “Tournament of the young Soviet Masters” in 1954, and placed fourth at the semi-finals of the 22nd USSR Championship.

In 1955 he achieved a shared second to sixth rank at the USSR Championship, and became Junior World Champion of the category Under 20. He also participated in the Inter-Zone-Tournament at which he shared seventh to ninth rank with fellow players. For these achievements he was rewarded with the FIDE Grandmaster title.

As a nineteen year-old, Spasski participated in the 1956 edition of the Amsterdam Candidates’ Tournament and achieved a shared third to seventh rank. At the 23rd USSR Championship in Leningrad he shared the gold medal with Averback and Taimanov. This event should remain the peak of his career.

The scene with Grandmaster Kronsteen in the James Bond movie From Russia with Love (1963) is a tribute to the duel of Spasski and Bronstein at the 1960 edition of the USSR Championship. The board shows a derivative of the final position in which Spasski made his winning move.

Several bitter defeats followed. Only eight years later, in 1964, Spasski could finally qualify again for the Inter-Zone-Tournament (through a shared first to fourth ranks at the USSR Zone Tournament) at which he also shared first to fourth rank.

In 1965, Boris Spasski won the first Candidates’ Tournament that was carried out in competition mode. He beat Paul Keres in quarter-finals, Efim Geller in semi-finals, and the legendary former World Champion Mikhail Tal in the final match.

Spasski took the first attempt of taking the World Championship throne in 1966, but lost to the World Champion Tigran Petrosjan who was holding the title at that time.

Another victory followed at the Candidates’ Tournament of 1968 at which he defeated Viktor Kortschnoi amongst other.

Boris Spasski challenged Tigran Petrosjan again in 1969 and was significantly better prepared than at the previously lost World Championship duel. With six victories, four defeats, and thirteen draws he delivered a solid performance and thus became 10th Chess World Champion in history. The world celebrated his success. Spasski, however, admitted later on that the years as World Champion were the unhappiest years of his life due to the heavy burden of his responsibilities.

His winning run lasted: In 1970 he scored one of his biggest successes at the “USSR Against The Rest of The World” tournament and the Chess Olympics in Germany.

On September 1, 1972 Boris Spasski lost his World Championship title in the most famous duel in chess history – the Match of the Century in Reykjavik against Bobby Fischer with the final score of 8.5:12.5. Spasski recently stated in an interview: “I had a friend-like relationship with Bobby. We had fun whenever we met”. Over more than ten years the two were pen-pals.

Spasski prevailed at the 41st USSR Championship in 1973 and earned back the admiration of his home country, where he had fallen from grace the year before when he lost his World Championship title.

Many unsuccessful attempts of competing for the World Championship title followed at the Candidates’ Tournaments. In 1974 he lost against Anatoly Karpov in semi-finals. In 1977 he made it to the final rounds but had to admit defeat to Viktor Kortschnoi. He dropped out after quarter-finals in 1980 after being defeated by Lajos Portisch. Only in 1985 he dared participate again at the Candidates’ Tournament of Montpellier but only ranked 6th in overall standings. Later on, he made no more attempts of qualifying for the World Championship duels.

Spasski caused a stir when meeting Bobby Fischer for an unofficial match in Yugoslavia in 1992. Fischer hadn’t played in public for over twenty years at this point and considered this duel the return match of the World Championship duel of 1972. This seriously momentous meeting was led back to Spasski’s participation. He lost the match with 12.5:17.5 points to Fischer. Since Yugoslavia was exhausted from its civil war and punished with economic sanctions from the United States, Fischer’s participation was prosecuted by the US, which led to a longer stay in prison in Japan and political exile in Iceland. Spasski wrote an open letter to George W. Bush during this time and engaged but unsuccessfully attempted to help his friend.

In his golden times, Spasski was considered one of the most talented players of his time. Especially during the 1960s, he was notorious for his universal playing style which was characterized by an extraordinarily precise opening and endgame, but also included a strong mid-game. After he had become World Champion, however, his determination faded and he never exploited his potential to the fullest. Perhaps it was owed to the negatively perceived time as World Champion that he never again aimed for this title with strong motivation again..

At an age of 65, after the 2001/02 season and the French Team Championship he stopped participating at ELO-rated tournaments and is thus listed as an inactive player by the FIDE. Every once in a while he is an honorary guest at competitions and tournaments, like at the most recent World Championship duel in Sochi (“Carlsen is a stubborn child”).

With his highest ELO score of 2690 in 1971, he ranked second in worldwide standings behind Bobby Fischer. His best historic ELO-rating before the introduction of ELO-numbers was 2773 points which he reached in July 1969.

During his last interview Spasski chose the following philosophic words to describe the game of life:

In general, the necessary features of a chess player have always been the same, the most important of which is the love of chess. It should also be loved passionately like people love art, paintings, and music. This passion will preoccupy you and flow through you. I still see chess with the eyes of a child

All the best, Boris Spasski!

written by Sarah, translated by Birthe

Magnus Carlsen prevails at Tata Steel Tournament

Tata Steel TournamentOne of the major highlights among the world-class chess tournaments is the Tata Steel Tournament in Vijk aan Zee.

Once again, fourteen celebrities of the chess scene with an average ELO-rating of 2746 points gathered to fight duels at an extraordinarily sophisticated level. Along with Magnus Carlsen attended talents like Fabio Caruana, Levon Aronian, Anish Giri, Wesley So, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Radoslav Voitaszek, Teimour Radjabov, Liren Ding, Baadur Jobava, Vasil Ivanchuk, Yifan Hou, Loek Van Wely, and Ivan Saric. From January 10, 2015 to today afternoon they proved their skills in thirteen rounds at the 77th edition of the Tata Steel Tournament.

Little surprising was Magnus Carlsen’s victory with 9 out of 13 points. His opponents, however, were following up closely: Vachier-Lagrave as well as Giri, Ding, and So scored 8.5 points and ranked shortly behind him in the final standings. Especially Vachier-Lagrave became a threat to the current World Champion. If Carlsen wouldn’t have scored his last half of a point in the final round, the Frenchman would have taken home the trophy.

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Final Rankings
Name Score Rating TPR Nationality
1 Carlsen, M. 9.0 / 13 2862 2878 NOR
2 Vachier-Lagrave, M. 8.5 / 13 2757 2855 FRA
3 Giri, A. 8.5 / 13 2784 2853 NED
4 So, W. 8.5 / 13 2762 2854 USA
5 Ding, L. 8.5 / 13 2732 2857 CHN
6 Ivanchuk, V. 7.5 / 13 2715 2805 UKR
7 Caruana, F. 7.0 / 13 2820 2769 ITA
8 Radjabov, T. 6.0 / 13 2734 2718 AZE
9 Wojtaszek, R. 5.5 / 13 2744 2689 POL
10 Aronian, L. 5.5 / 13 2797 2685 ARM
11 Hou, Y. 5.0 / 13 2673 2664 CHN
12 Saric, I. 4.5 / 13 2666 2642 CRO
13 Van Wely, L. 4.0 / 13 2667 2611 NED
14 Jobava, B. 3.0 / 13 2727 2536 GEO

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Results of Rounds
Round 1 – Saturday the 10th
Radjabov, T. – Van Wely, L. ½-½
Ivanchuk, V. – Jobava, B. 1-0
Vachier-Lagrave, M. – Hou, Y. 1-0
Ding, L. – Caruana, F. 0-1
Saric, I. – Aronian, L. ½-½
Giri, A. – Carlsen, M. ½-½
So, W. – Wojtaszek, R. ½-½
Round 2 – Sunday the 11th
Van Wely, L. – Wojtaszek, R. ½-½
Carlsen, M. – So, W. ½-½
Aronian, L. – Giri, A. ½-½
Caruana, F. – Saric, I. 1-0
Hou, Y. – Ding, L. 0-1
Jobava, B. – Vachier-Lagrave, M. ½-½
Radjabov, T. – Ivanchuk, V. ½-½
Round 3 – Monday the 12th
Ivanchuk, V. – Van Wely, L. 1-0
Vachier-Lagrave, M. – Radjabov, T. ½-½
Ding, L. – Jobava, B. 1-0
Saric, I. – Hou, Y. ½-½
Giri, A. – Caruana, F. ½-½
So, W. – Aronian, L. 1-0
Wojtaszek, R. – Carlsen, M. 1-0
Round 4 – Tuesday the 13th
Van Wely, L. – Carlsen, M. 0-1
Aronian, L. – Wojtaszek, R. ½-½
Caruana, F. – So, W. ½-½
Hou, Y. – Giri, A. ½-½
Jobava, B. – Saric, I. 0-1
Radjabov, T. – Ding, L. 0-1
Ivanchuk, V. – Vachier-Lagrave, M. 1-0
Round 5 – Thursday the 15th
Vachier-Lagrave, M. – Van Wely, L. ½-½
Ding, L. – Ivanchuk, V. ½-½
Saric, I. – Radjabov, T. 0-1
Giri, A. – Jobava, B. 1-0
So, W. – Hou, Y. ½-½
Wojtaszek, R. – Caruana, F. 1-0
Carlsen, M. – Aronian, L. 1-0
Round 6 – Friday the 16th
Van Wely, L. – Aronian, L. ½-½
Caruana, F. – Carlsen, M. 0-1
Hou, Y. – Wojtaszek, R. ½-½
Jobava, B. – So, W. 0-1
Radjabov, T. – Giri, A. ½-½
Ivanchuk, V. – Saric, I. ½-½
Vachier-Lagrave, M. – Ding, L. 1-0
Round 7 – Saturday the 17th
Ding, L. – Van Wely, L. 1-0
Saric, I. – Vachier-Lagrave, M. 0-1
Giri, A. – Ivanchuk, V. ½-½
So, W. – Radjabov, T. ½-½
Wojtaszek, R. – Jobava, B. 0-1
Carlsen, M. – Hou, Y. 1-0
Aronian, L. – Caruana, F. ½-½
Round 8 – Sunday the 18th
Van Wely, L. – Caruana, F. 0-1
Hou, Y. – Aronian, L. ½-½
Jobava, B. – Carlsen, M. 0-1
Radjabov, T. – Wojtaszek, R. 1-0
Ivanchuk, V. – So, W. 0-1
Vachier-Lagrave, M. – Giri, A. 1-0
Ding, L. – Saric, I. 1-0
Round 9 – Tuesday the 20th
Saric, I. – Van Wely, L. ½-½
Giri, A. – Ding, L. 1-0
So, W. – Vachier-Lagrave, M. ½-½
Wojtaszek, R. – Ivanchuk, V. ½-½
Carlsen, M. – Radjabov, T. 1-0
Aronian, L. – Jobava, B. 1-0
Caruana, F. – Hou, Y. ½-½
Round 10 – Wednesday the 21st
Van Wely, L. – Hou, Y. 1-0
Jobava, B. – Caruana, F. 0-1
Radjabov, T. – Aronian, L. ½-½
Ivanchuk, V. – Carlsen, M. ½-½
Vachier-Lagrave, M. – Wojtaszek, R. ½-½
Ding, L. – So, W. ½-½
Saric, I. – Giri, A. 0-1
Round 11 – Friday the 23rd
Giri, A. – Van Wely, L. 1-0
So, W. – Saric, I. 1-0
Wojtaszek, R. – Ding, L. 0-1
Carlsen, M. – Vachier-Lagrave, M. ½-½
Aronian, L. – Ivanchuk, V. ½-½
Caruana, F. – Radjabov, T. ½-½
Hou, Y. – Jobava, B. 1-0
Round 12 – Saturday the 24th
Van Wely, L. – Jobava, B. ½-½
Radjabov, T. – Hou, Y. ½-½
Ivanchuk, V. – Caruana, F. ½-½
Vachier-Lagrave, M. – Aronian, L. ½-½
Ding, L. – Carlsen, M. ½-½
Saric, I. – Wojtaszek, R. 1-0
Giri, A. – So, W. 1-0
Round 13 – Sunday the 25th
So, W. – Van Wely, L. 1-0
Wojtaszek, R. – Giri, A. ½-½
Carlsen, M. – Saric, I. ½-½
Aronian, L. – Ding, L. 0-1
Caruana, F. – Vachier-Lagrave, M. 0-1
Hou, Y. – Ivanchuk, V. ½-½
Jobava, B. – Radjabov, T. 1-0

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As obvious in the individual round results, only Voitaszek managed to prevail over Carlsen in Round 3 (52nd move).

Liren Ding seized the opportunity in the Netherlands and fought his way up the international ELO-rankings of the world’s best chess players. By now, he has reached a well-deserved 14th rank, while Giri and So were able to move to the Top 20 due to their great performances at the Tata Steel Tournament.

Find videos worth watching of all rounds on the official website:

http://www.tatasteelchess.com/tournament/video/nr/13

written by Sarah, translated by Birthe

„The Imitation Game“ – A Must-See for All Chess Fans

The Imitation GameOn January 22, the historic drama “The Imitation Game” is first shown in German movie theaters. The movie depicts the life of Alan Turing (*June 23, 1912 | † June 7, 1954), a British logician, mathematician, cryptanalyst, and computer scientist. The main characters are played by Benedict Cumberbatch (known actor from “Sherlock Holmes”) and Keira Knightley (e.g. “Pirates of the Caribbean”).

During World War II, Alan Turing and his team of mathematicians, linguists, and chess champions significantly contributed the Allies attempts in decrypting German radio messages in Bletchley Park.

(Amongst the English chess players in Bletchley Park were the British national players Hugh Alexander, Stuart Milner-Barry, and Harry Golombek. Later on, Milner-Barry took over different honorable positions in British ministries, Golombek became chess publicist and referee, and Alexander had a career as manager of the decrypting department of the MI5, which is the reason why he wasn’t allowed to participate in tournaments in the East at that time.)

During World War II, the German Armed Forces encrypted messages by automatic means called Engima. The rotating cylinders of this machine caused letters of a message to be substituted by another letter. The initial position of these cylinders was chanced on a daily basis. The receiver of the message only had to know the correct initial position of the day to decrypt the message. The unlimited number of possibilities made it necessary to invent another machine that helped the Allies to limit those possibilities to finally help decrypt messages. Turing and his mathematic models significantly contributed to the Allies’ decrypting attempts.

The insights Turing gained during some of his decryptions helped developing the first digital programmable electronic valve computer ENIAC. Several historians, experts, and cryptologists agree that the UK would have lost the submarine war if it weren’t for the decryption of the German’s Marine Enigma. Some even speculate that Hitler would have won the war, if the Allies wouldn’t have been able to read the messages of the German Armed Forces. The work of Alan Turing is thus of severe historic importance.

Deviations from the truth

Despite the eight-times nomination for the Oscars Award, the already received awards (amongst others the Audience Prize at the Toronto Film Festival) and the many positive reviews (89% positive feedback from the movie critique generator Rotten Tomatoes), some untruths were woven into the drama.

A number of historic misrepresentations were doubtlessly proven. The movie depicts USSR spy John Cairncross in Turning’s team as an important player – the spy is exposed by Turning and later on arrested for homosexuality, after observations had proven the suspicion of espionage. In reality, due to working conditions and security regulations, Turing and Cairncross could have never met at Bletchley Park. Historically proven is the fact that Turing and his private life became the center of attention after he had turned himself in for theft and got caught in contradictory statements.

Alan Turing and Chess

In 1952, Turing wrote one of the first automated chess programs, the calculations for which he made all by himself because of the absence of an adequate computer. He wrote down the instruction sequence on a piece of paper, which is why the program is called “Paper-Engine”.

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A single calculation per every move took him about thirty minutes. He lost the only game documented in writing to a colleague.

Who knows what other inventions and Developments Turing would have been capable of, if he hadn’t been convicted with fornication and sexual perversion after having committed to his homosexuality. The verdict forced him to go through hormonal treatment which triggered severe depressions and resulted in suicide with a poisoned apple on June 7, 1954.

Find the official trailer here.

written by Sarah, translated by Birthe

Will China Become THE New Chess Nation?

Chess Nation China***

Who closely followed the world’s chess events within the last few months will have certainly come to one conclusion (besides the one that Magnus Carlsen will deservedly be World Champion for another while):

The Chinese are moving in!

The Dutch city Vijk aan Zee is currently hosting the “Tata Steel Tournament”, at which players like Carlsen, Caruana, Aronian, and Giri – to name only a few participants of world-class level – will give their honors. After the third round on Monday evening, 22 year-old Liren Ding has already scored 2 winning points. The Chinese number one ranked 22nd in the January edition of the FIDE World Rankings, but has already surpassed Andreikin and Radjabov and now ranks 19th. Welcome to the Top 20!

Just recently, at the Hastings International, the 28 year-old Chinese Zhao Jun prevailed with a Rating-Performance of 2851 over players such as Maxime Lagarde, Deep Senupta, Romain Edouard, and Alexander Frier, and finally took home the gold medal.

In August at the 41st Chess Olympics in Tromsö, the Chinese secured – against all expectations (Russia was rated top-favorite team) – the very first victory, even though they left three players with ELO-ratings above 2700 points at home. China is obviously choosing its players from such a large pool of top-class players by now, that they can easily forego the two best players behind Liren Ding. Where are they coming from all of the sudden?

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The “Big Dragon Plan” is Working

China is not looking back on long-standing chess tradition, at least not in the classical European way. Xiangqi (also known as “Elephant Chess”) is a derivative of the Persian original version of chess called Chaturanga and has been popular there for many centuries. The kind of classical chess that we know today was officially added to the list of sports in China only in 1956. The same year, only six players from all of China participated in the first National Tournament.

In the early sixties, the

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Chess Association of China was founded (as a sub-division of the Chinese Xiangqi Association), to promote the sport’s popularity. This progress, however, was hampered by a chess prohibition during the first eight years of the revolution (1966-76). When chess was allowed again in 1974, the Malaysian developer and entrepreneur Dato Tan Chin Nam (born in 1926) significantly contributed to the sport’s success by investing large amounts of money into the sport as the first Chinese chess sponsor. He helped develop the Big Dragon Plan, the goal of which was to reach a professional level of gaming performance in the Asian countries as quickly as possible. Part of this plan was the decision to support chess in China first, where they saw the largest potential for success. Until the new Millennium China was supposed to play its way to the world’s top. An investment that is definitely paying off now.

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Chinese Have Ideal Conditions

Liu Wenzhe was the first Chinese player in history to win a duel against a Western grandmaster (1978 against Jan Hein Donner) and became coach in the early eighties. In 2002 he published the book “Chinese School of Chess” in which he describes why China would eventually replace Russia as the Chess Nation. He writes about how the Chinese have a natural talent of understanding the logic of chess, which goes back to the long-standing tradition of and great preparation through Xiangqi and I Ging. Liu Wenzhe as well as Xie Jun, the first female Chinese Chess World Champion (1991), in fact were successful Xiangqi players. Over and above that, Chinese do not fear hard work. Xie Juns World Championship preparations consisted of a 190-day exercise plan that scheduled every minute of her day from sunrise to sunset, including the daily eight hours of practice. Last but not least, Wenzhe points out the favorable social conditions in China: Chess is greatly supported by society. China also pays great attention to ideal selection, intensive practice, and tournament support.

China has access to a talent pool of 1.4 billion people. More than three million of them play chess already and 300,000 of them are members of chess clubs (Germany has about 90,000 members). The Chinese also consider chess an opportunity to promote the country’s prestige. The governmental support is therefore much higher than in western countries. Young talents are recruited and coached in special school over many years, and many Chinese consider a professional sports career the only way to future wealth and well-being. This is an incentive that countries with long-standing chess traditions, such as Germany, is lacking almost completely. In those countries, many young talents try to participate in tournaments like the European or World Youth Championships in their spare time and at their own cost. The support is thus passed on to the families that don’t have the time or funds to adequately support their youngsters in their talents.

Given these conditions, China’s chances of becoming a nation with a significant amount of players in the World Rankings or even replacing Russia as THE Chess Nation one day are quite good. Who knows – Perhaps the currently youngest grandmaster in the World, Wei Yi, will become the next Magnus Carlsen?

written by Sarah, translated by Birthe

Jun Zhao prevails at Hastings

The historically interesting Hastings international Chess Congress was staged from December 29, 2014 to January 6, 2015 by the city of Hastings in England. For the event (9 rounds Swiss Tournament System) 113 players from 27 countries gathered, half of which (63 players) came from England. Sadly, only two Brits made it to the Top 10.

Jun ZhaoPlayers of different playing strengths (ELO-ratings between 1574 and 2676 points) made the tournament diverse and suspenseful. An especially outstanding performance was delivered by Chinese player and winner of the 2,000 British Pounds prize money – Zhao Jun.

The 28 year-old holds a current ELO of 2585 points and ranks 11th in the list of Chinese top-players. He dominated the first six rounds without exception. After the final 9th round, he had secured 8 points and achieved an incredible rating-performance of 2852.

Top 20 Rankings
Rank Name ELO FED Rating
1 GM Zhao Jun 2585 CHN 8.0
2 GM Mista Aleksander 2614 POL 7.0
3 GM Fier Alexandr 2592 BRA 7.0
4 IM Kjartansson Gudmundur 2451 ISL 7.0
5 GM Rodshtein Maxim 2676 ISR 6.5
6 GM Lagarde Maxime 2576 FRA 6.5
7 GM Hawkins Jonathan 2552 ENG 6.5
8 GM Vakhidov Jahongir 2502 UZB 6.5
9 GM Arkell Keith C 2489 ENG 6.5
10 GM Edouard Romain 2659 FRA 6.0
11 GM Bogner Sebastian 2586 SUI 6.0
12 GM Sengupta Deep 2566 IND 6.0
13 GM Flear Glenn C 2460 ENG 6.0
14 IM Gledura Benjamin 2450 HUN 6.0
15 FM Longson Alexander 2339 ENG 6.0
16 Kheit Wahbi 2223 ISR 6.0
17 Anderson John 2180 ENG 6.0
18 GM Hebden Mark L 2523 ENG 5.5
19 IM Galyas Miklos 2428 HUN 5.5
20 FM Jackson James P 2356 ENG 5.5

The award for best duel during the tournament was given to the Pole Aleksander Mista for his victory over Edourard.

Detailed game reports, pictures, and results of the individual rounds can be viewed on the tournament page: http://www.hastingschess.com/

written by Sarah, translated by Birthe

Chess Horoscope 2015

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Aries (March 21 – April 20)

Aries can expect a blessing with extra money. The unforeseen wealth though should not be spent unthoughtfully. Financial planning is a general weakness of an Aries. Thus, it makes sense to note down long-standing desires, such as a noble chess set or an expensive software, and to evaluate what to invest in. The Aries likes to set sport-related goals that he chases persistently and sometimes with a little too much motivation. It is important to take a breath every once in a while, in order not to lose the passion and enthusiasm for the game. Because of the high level of stress susceptibility and the resulting lack of concentration, an Aries should not only focus on tactics, but increasingly practice relaxation and concentration exercises and techniques.

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Taurus (April 21 – May 20)

The Taurus tends to have mood swings and act impulsively. A rival’s mistakes triggers inner triumph. However, he should be careful not to show such emotions in order not to lose others’ sympathy. It would be a great pity, if his opponents lost their interest in playing against him. One thing is clear, 2015 is a year of luck for a Taurus and he will be able to decide many duels in his favor during the suspenseful endgames. Despite all luck, he should not become a reckless player. On the contrary, he should work on endgame analyses; The efforts will pay off!

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Gemini (May 21 – June 21)

The instinct to escape often kicks in when a Gemini faces difficult situations. One thing is crystal clear in chess: Even the hardest of situations must be sat through! Possible defeats should be analyzed afterwards. The stubborn Gemini needs to learn to accept help to make progress. After all, practice makes perfect. Geminis like to plan far ahead, but find many escape routes too. Some advice: Practice anywhere with the Chessimo App for your smartphone, and there is no room for excuses anymore.

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Cancer (June 22 – July 22)

Cancers love the feeling of safety. Therefore, they play defensively and quickly becomes experienced in their favorite motives. Caution! This kind of routine bears dangers: The Cancer becomes careless, which leads to mistakes. How about deviating from the usual patterns and turning to new challenges? Even if one or the other new strategy or tactic doesn’t lead to success right away, Cancers should not lose faith. What doesn’t look all too auspicious in the beginning might become the new favorite strategy after all.

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Leo (July 23 – August 23)

One of a Leo’s strengths is his ability to closely observe and learn. Leos should therefore look at the clips and summaries of suspenseful games on a regular basis to bring new variations down on the board. They will then discover new strengths und preferences and will make great progress. A Leo is creative. He should take time to think his ideas through and to work on them. They will be incredibly proud when a new plan works out on the board!

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Virgo (August 24 – September 23)

Virgos are aware of their responsibilities and well organized. However, they often fail to spend the desired time with their hobbies and passions. “Business before pleasure!” is their motto. In the New Year, they should learn to let it be and to take more time for what really matters. Chess for instance. The Virgo will profit from his own strategic thinking and analytical capabilities. Perfectionism and quick perception will help the Virgo to reach a high level of skill in little time. Take this chance!

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Libra (September 24 – October 23)

Libras aren’t exactly dare-devils. They seek harmony and strive for balance. But this will easily become their own threat in one or another duel. Even if a Libra is accompanied by luck in 2015, he should dare to take initiative. Focus on new, thought trough openings! Not only playing against a mentor and reading special literature can help a Libra improve, Chessimo is also a helpful tool.

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Scorpio (October 24 – November 22)

Scorpios will meet new Practice Buddies in 2015, who will be of incredible value for their development. Together they will make enormous progress – if the Scorpios impatience gets out of the way. Truth is, he wants everything, right now. If things don’ work out right away, the Scorpio tends to lose his temper. He is in the way of his own and others’ ideas to improve. If he learns to take breaks to think and to focus on a process beginning to end, he will play many duels that he can only win (even if he only gains experience).

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Sagittarius (November 23 to December 21)

The Sagittarius is often bored when thinking of the same topic for a longer period of time. Chess is therefore the ideal sport for him: Diverse and suspenseful with many possibilities and variations. Anyhow, the Sagittarius should be careful not to jump from one strategy to another. To become a good player he must solve problems not only superficially but understand them at their very root. That is the only way he will be able to grasp positions intuitively later on. Once a Sagittarius has reached that point, he will benefit from the richness in variations and will be able to surprise his opponents over and over again.

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Capricorn (December 22 – January 20)

If a Capricorn isn’t 100 percent sure what to do, he should avoid unnecessary risk in matters of chess. There is no need to act overly cautious, but one should not spoil his luck. Capricorns won’t be blessed with too much luck in 2015 anyway. It becomes important to improve techniques and to focus on the own skills. If the luck pays a visit at all, it won’t be obvious. Open your eyes, sharpen your senses and always think ahead! Otherwise, a Capricorn might miss chances.

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Aquarius (January 21 – February 19)

An Aquarius might not experience great waves of motivation and enthusiasm in 2015. How about counteracting with a reliable practice buddy? It is always easier together! If the Aquarius made it to the board, he will quickly rediscover the fun in the game and won’t regret it. However, he should not get stuck on too difficult positions. With easy and a positive attitude, an Aquarius will have a good start into the New Year!

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Pisces (February 20 – March 20)

2015 will be the year to explore. Pisces should try unknown variations in opening and endgame. Courage will be rewarded! Unexpected challenges should not discourage a Pisces from sticking to his plan. Closest to the finish line we often face the worst of difficulties. Who learns to adjust to new situations and doesn’t lose the common threat will make great progress and secure many victories.

written by Sarah, translated by Birthe