Over the years John W. Collins has probably been America's most successful chess teacher. Collins, whose friends call him Jack, has a physical problem that hampers his mobility, so when he became keen on chess it was natural for other lovers of the game to congregate at his home.
This felicitous meeting place was the breeding ground of some of the world's great players. Bobby Fischer, the Byrne brothers, and William Lombardy were among the more famous ones who cut their chess eyeteeth under the tutelage, guidance, and encouragement of Collins.
Jack's domicile has changed over the years, but the players have kept coming - particularly the young ones. They've continued to enjoy tournament success, too, as shown by the fact that a four-player team of his proteges recently won the 1984 Eastern United States Amateur Team Championship.
Collins possesses a deep love for chess which is readily communicated to his students, be they future grandmasters or just happy wood-pushers. He also realizes that one of the keys to improving play and maintaining chess interest is exposing the student to a great variety of chess experience. Thus, in recent years he has been taking his Collins Kids chess team to a series of matches with young Icelandic players - some of the matches in Reykjavik, with the return engagements in New York. This year a new chapter was opened when he took 12 players, ranging in age from 16 down to 8, to Israel to play one of the youth teams there.
A nine-round speed tournament was won handily by Collins's first board, 16 -year-old John Litvinchuk, with 71/2-11/2. Two official matches were played, with the Israelis winning the first, 81/2 to 31/2, and the fired-up Collins Kids winning the second by the identical score.
The Collins Kids will be playing host to the Israeli team and an Icelandic team in a three-way match next July 16-20 at the Concord Hotel in the Catskills.
Today's game showcases Chris Chabris, who seems destined for future stardom. The 16-year-old Collins Kid displays remarkable maturity and sang-froid in exploiting his opponent's weaknesses as he scores a critical win against Aran Knobel, his Israeli adversary.
Tchigorin Defense Knobel Chabris 1. P-Q4 P-Q4 2. P-QB4 N-QB3 3 N-QB3 PxP 4. P-K3 (a) P-K4 5. P-Q5 N(3)-K2 (b) 6. BxP N-N3 7. N-KB3 (c) N-KB3 8. P-QN4 B-Q3 (d) 9. Q-N3 O-O 10. P-KR3 Q-K2 11. P-R3 B-Q2 12. P-N4 (e) P-B3 (f) 13. P-K4 P-N4 14. B-K2 QR-B1 15. P-N5? (g) N-R4! (h) 16. PxP HxP 17. NxNP B-K3 18. Q-R4 P-QR3 19. NxB QxN 20. B-K3 N(4)-B5 21. R-Q1 Q-B2 22. B-B5 NxB 23. KxN (i) B-B5 ch 24. K-Q2 N-B5 25. N-K1 (j) RxB 26. PxR QxP 27. Q-B2 R-Q1 ch 28. Resigns
A.4. P-Q5 and 4. N-KB3 are also very playable alternatives.
B. A playable move, though it should yield White some central advantage. Very interesting is 5. . . . N-R4; 6. Q-R4 ch, P-B3; 7. P-QN4, PxP e.p.; 8. RPxP , Q-N3; 9. B-Q2! (not 9. QxN, QxQ; 10. RxQ, B-QN5), 9. . . . NxP; 10. PxP, PxP; 11. N-Q5!, with great play for the pawns as in Kogan-Rizzitano, World Open 1983.
C. I prefer 7. P-K4, followed by 8. KN-K2 and 9. O-O. White would then have a harmonious position, strong center, and possibilites on both wings. As played, White must always concern himself about a timely P-K5 on Black's part.
D. Youngsters nowadays don't fall for 8. . . . BxP? 9. Q-R4 ch.
E. But they still tend to be impetuous. White was probably afraid of 12. O-O, P-K5; 13. N-Q4 Q-K4: The threat of mate would force him to weaken his position. Probably best was still 12. P-K4, although 12. . . . N-R4, eyeing KB5 and preparing for a possible . . . P-KB4, gives Black a promising position.
F. An attack on the wing is best countered by play in the center.
G. Compounding the weakness of the previous play.
H. White may have thought he'd meet this with 16. NxKP, BxN; 17. BxN, but then 17. . . . BxN ch; 18. QxB, QxP ch; and 19. . . . QxR wins for Black.
I. If 23. BxR, N-B6 wins a piece.
J. Now 25. BxR is met by 25. . . . B-N4; 26. Q-N3, Q-Q2 ch; 27. K-Kl or K-K3, N-N7 mate.