Brokerage firm supports T&TCF regional event - Investing money like playing chess


Investing money is somewhat like playing chess, says Ram Ramesh, Managing Director and CEO of CMMB Limited. The mild-mannered executive should know since he not only heads the largest brokerage house in the Caribbean but also dabbled in the royal game during his school days in India.

“Our company is focused on enhancing wealth for investors and individuals through intelligent investing,” he notes. “It is somewhat like playing chess which is a game of huge possibilities and numerous probabilities all of which must be constantly evaluated in making moves that will secure you the maximum advantage.”

So it is no coincidence that CMMB has become involved in the development of chess in our country. The company, in fact, is an enthusiastic sponsor of the Caribbean Open Junior International Chess Championships which started yesterday at Bishop Anstey High School in Port-of-Spain. The tournament, a seven-round Swiss organised by the Trinidad and Tobago Chess Foundation, has attracted players, 20 years and under, from various countries of the region who are contesting in three age categories for more than $10,000 in cash prizes.

The five prizes in each division are: Under 10 - $600, $450, $360, $300, $300; Under 14 - $1,200, $900, $600, $300, $150; Under 20 - $1,800, $1,200, $900, $600, $300.

According to the CMMB CEO, there are other reasons why his company is supporting an expansion of the sport. “Although we are in the money market business,” he notes, “we also have a social responsibility and one of our positive concerns in this area is to help in dealing with the problem of crime and violence. We are looking to see how we can make a difference.”

Too many young persons, particularly those operating in gangs, are unable to deal with conflicts in an informed and patient manner, Ramesh observes. As a counter to this, chess teaches youngsters to carefully consider the issue at hand, to examine all the different possibilities available to them, before making a move. “By supporting chess we may be helping to engender such considered behaviour in our youth,” he says.

Since CMMB has a Caribbean network, with companies in Barbados, St Lucia and its parent organisation in Jamaica, Ramesh is hoping that the tournament will become the premier chess event for juniors in the region. “We are looking forward to the fullest possible participation,” he adds.

But CMMB’s chess consciousness is derived not only from CEO Ramesh; it also comes from Robert Mayers, Managing Director of CMMB Securities Limited, who represented both St Mary’s College and UWI, Jamaica, in the sport during the 50s and 60s.

Small wonder that Mayers is another positive advocate of the mental discipline to be gained from playing chess. “Chess, you can say, prepares you for life,” he observes. “It forces you to think ahead and to consider where and how you can gain an advantage and, at the same time, preserve and defend what you have.”

For these reasons, Mayers heartily endorses CMMB’s sponsorship of the Caribbean Open Junior tournament.

That chess should gain the positive support of such a company must set an excellent example for other companies to follow.

He gave up Talmud for charms of chess

When Akiba Rubinstein was born at Stawiski, a squalid ghetto in the Polish province of Lomza in 1882, family tradition had already set out the course of his life. For generations his ancestors had been rabbis and scholars of the Hebrew classics, devoted to intensive cultivation of the mind inspite of unrelenting povery and physical privation.

There was no question that the boy, growing up in the house of his grandparents, would become a Hebrew scholar and teacher of the Talmud, even as his father who had died just before his birth and his grandfather were before him.

At 16, however, young Rubinstein’s life took a sudden and, as it turned out, tragic turn once he had tasted the artistic excitement of chess. He first saw the game being played by two students of the “Yeshiva”, a higher academy of religious instruction at Lomza. As destiny would have it, he became instantly fascinated with the creative dynamics of chess which, to the dismay and anguish of his family, became the ruling passion of his life.

Study of the Torah, love of the Talmud, faded into an evanescent dream as he now spent most of his waking hours over a chessboard, exploring the intricacies of this ancient sport. His grandparents noted and mourned. They cursed the inexplicable alchemy in whose toils the boy had become enmeshed. His mother prayed daily for the Lord to bring her erring son back to the well trodden paths.

But Rubinstein was lost to the family tradition; he had succumbed to the charms of a mistress from whose embrace his life could never more be sundered.

From the petty glory of the Polish ghetto and a routine humdrum existence, he had chosen a path which was to lead to world-wide renown and a soul-racking ambition which, tragically, was never to be fulfilled.

After an uncertain start, the 19-year-old ex-student scored his first notable victory against chess master Salwe living in the nearby town of Lodz. A year later, he was sent to the Russian National Tourney at Kiev where he won the fifth prize. In 1905, he entered the international arena and at Barmen won his spurs in the German Chess Association, tying with Duras for third prize in one of the major tournaments.

From here Rubinstein proceeded to scale the pinnacle of chess in competition among the great, leaving such giants as Bernstein, Teichmann, Marshall, Janowski and the whole array of Russian talent trailing behind. At Ostend he shared first prize with Bernstein and, with this victory, he broke the supremacy of the so-called Lasker Pleiades, that is the generation of grandmasters who were contemporaries of Lasker and who had set the standard in world chess since 1890.

At St Petersberg in 1909 the Polish master demonstrated his full equality with world champion Lasker whom he defeated in their individual encounter. In fact, it was not until the last round that Lasker’s score matched his own, so that both shared the first prize.

His great year of triumph, however, came in 1912. In a period of 12 months Rubinstein won no less than five consecutive first prizes in international competition, at San Sebastian, Pistyan, Breslau, Warsaw and Vilna, a record that was then unprecedented. It had now become clear to the whole world that Rubinstein was to be the next champion. A match for the title was scheduled to be held in the spring of 1914 between Lasker and Rubinstein. The chess world waited expectantly.

But the great hope of the Polish grandmaster to wear the mantle of world champion was shattered by the outbreak of war in Europe. Together with millions, Rubinstein did not emerge from the Great War unscathed. When the conflict was over, he was no longer the triumphant hero anxious to contest for the world title. The soul of the sensitive chess master was sorely tried by the ravages and hardships of the war years. Gone was the confidence and inner harmony so essential for the supreme effort of a chess artist.

Ever modest and retiring, his shyness had become an obsession to the point of a mental aberration. He suffered from an inferiority complex, deeming himself superfluous, no longer a necessary adjunct to every great tournament.

Commenting on his decline, one contemporary writes: “Rubinstein’s character is too noble for the rough and tumble of life. His colleagues know best the splendour of his personality, his consideration for others. So solicitous is he that his opponent is not disturbed in his reflection, that as a matter of principle, he leaves the board after each move, and only returns after his adversary has completed his play. Naturally much time is lost thereby, and his own thinking suffers, and many a surprising loss of Rubinstein can no doubt be attributed to this factor.”

Nevertheless, Rubinstein’s games throb with the zeal of the artist, revealing the throes and pains of the creator, all of which are held in check by a judicial appraisal, a calm logic. According to B.F. Winkelman, writing an appraisal in 1941, only the games of Capablanca reach a higher standard of perfection. “This is the great feature of his play - its great strategic strength. He is never superficial, never cheap or tawdry. He is never seeking merely to win, but always to create “a work of art”. He never plays to the score or to the weakness of his opponent, but ever to the board and to give us his best.”

There can be little doubt, says Winkelman, that Rubinstein has added more to the present status of chess theory and technique than any other master since Steinitz. More innovations in the openings and more of the lines that are today recognized as the ultimate in correctness and strength can be traced to his genius and originality than can be ascribed to any other master.

Winkelman, at the time of his writing, also rated Rubinstein as “the greatest end-game player of all time, if not indeed, the most finished master we have known.”

This comment from Reuben Fine seems a fitting epitaph for the ill-starred grandmaster: “We are filled with a sense of the tragic when we review Rubinstein’s career. Here is a man who might have been champion but was never given the chance. More important, in so many of his games we are carried away by their classic perfection and feel impelled to say, better chess cannot be played by mortal man.”

Here are three of Rubinstein’s masterpieces:

Euwe v Rubinstein. The Hague 1921. Sicilian Defence. 1. e4 c5; 2. Nf3 Nf6; 3. e5 Nd5; 4. d4 cd; 5. Qd4 e6; 6. c4 Nc6; 7. Qd1 N(d5)e7; 8. Bd2 Ng6; 9. Qe2 Qc7; 10. Bc3 b6; 11. h4 d6; 12. ed Bd6; 13. N(b)d2 (13. Bg7 Rg8; 14. Bc3 Nf4 is no improvement) Nf4; 14. Qe3 Bc5; 15. Qe4 f5; 16. Qc2 Bc5; 17. g3 Ng6; 18. H5 Ne5; 19. Ne5 Ne5; 20. b4 (hoping for ...Be7 21. Bg2) Bf2ch! 21. Kf2 Ng4ch; 22. Ke2 Qg3; 23. Bd4 Bb7; 24. Rh3 Qd6; 25. Qc3 e5; 26. Bg1 f4; 27. c5 Qh6; 28. Ke1 e4; 29. Rh4 Qg5; 30. Qh3 Nc3!; 31.Be3 f3; 32, Bc4ch Kh8; 33. Nf1 Qf3 White resigns.

Rotlevi v Rubinstein. Lodz 1907. Queen’s Gambit. 1. d4 d5; 2. Nf3 e6; 3. e3 c5; 4. c4 Nc6; 5. Nc3 Nf6; 6. dc? Bc5; 7. a3 a6; 8. b4 Bd6; 9. Bb2 00; 10. Qd2? Qe7; 11. Bd3 dc; 12. Bc4 b5; 13. Bd3 Rd8; 14. Qe2 Bb7; 15. 00 Ne5; 16. Ne5 Be5; 17. f4 Bc7; 18. e4 R(a)c8; 19. e5 Bb6ch; 20. Kh1 Ng4! The fun begins. 21. Be4 Qh4; 22. g3 Rc3! 23. gh Rd2!; 24. Qd2 Be4ch; 25. Qg2 Rh3!

Rubinstein v Teichmann. Match at Vienna 1908. 1. d4 d5; 2. c4 e6; 3. Nc3 Nf6; 4. Bg5 Nd7; 5. e3 Be7; 6. Nf3 00; 7. Qc2 b6; 8. cd ed; 9. Bd3 Bb7; 10. 000 c5; 11. h4 c4; 12. Bf5 Re8; 13. Bf6 Nf6; 14. g4 Bd6; 15. g5 Ne4; 16. h5 Qe7 (or ...Ng5; 17. Ng5 Qg5; 18. Bh7ch Kf8; 19. h6 gh; 20. R(d)g1 etc.); 17. R(d)g1 a6; 18. Bh7ch! Kh7; 19. g6ch Kg8; 20. Ne4 de; 21. h6 (the knight could not be captured) f6; 22. hg ef; 23. Rh8ch Kg7; 24. Rh7 Kg8; 25. Qf5 c3; 26. Re7 Black resigns.


Article by Carl Jacobs
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