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Monday, January 30, 2017

Samuel Rosenthal

     Chess historian Edward Winter wrote of Samuel Rosenthal (September 7, 1837, Suwałki, Poland (then the Russian Empire) – September 12, 1902, Neuilly-sur-Seine, France), "He dedicated his life to chess-playing, touring, writing, teaching and analyzing. Despite only occasional participation in first-class events, he scored victories over all the leading masters of the time (Anderssen, Blackburne, Chigorin, Mackenzie, Mason, Paulsen, Steinitz and Zukertort). He also acquired world renown as an unassuming showman who gave large simultaneous displays and blindfold seances, invariably producing a cluster of glittering moves." 
     Rosenthal became a law student and moved from Warsaw to Paris, during the Polish revolution in 1864 after the failure of the January Uprising. He settled in Paris as where he became a chess professional and writer. 
     In 1864, he lost a match to Ignatz von Kolisch (+1 –7 =0) in Paris, won the Café de la Régence championship in 1865, 1866, and 1867 and became the strongest French chess player. In 1867, he took 9th in the Paris tournament, lost a match to Gustav Neumann (+0 –5 =6), in 1869 he lost two matches to Neumann (+1 –3 =1) and (+2 –4 =1) and in 1870, he tied for 8–9th in Baden-Baden. 
     Because of the Franco Prussian War of 1870–71, Rosenthal went to London. In 1870/71, he won a match against John Wisker (+3 –2 =4). In 1873, Rosenthal took 4th in Vienna, tied for 7-8th in Paris. In 1880, he won in Paris the first unofficial French Chess Championship and in 1880, he lost a match against Zukertort (+1 –7 =11) in London. In 1883, he took 8th in London and in 1887 he tied for 5–7th in Frankfurt am Main (5th DSB–Congress, Hauptturnier, elimination tournament). His results were affected by his journalistic activities and bad health.
     From 1885 to 1902, he edited a chess column for the Le Monde Illustré and wrote for La Strategie, La Vie Moderne, and other French newspapers. 
     Rosenthal once engaged in a court battle with one of his students, Prince Balaschoff, for breaking his lesson contract. The lawsuit was brought before the first Chamber of the Civil Tribunal of Paris. Rosenthal had been a resident of Paris and had been engaged for ten yearsby Prince Balaschoff as his professor of chess at £ 25 per month, to be increased to £40 per month whenever the Professor traveled with his pupil. They were on the best of terms for many years and were collaborating on a chess book when Rosenthal was unceremoniously dismissal.  He sued for £ 750 back salary according to their written agreement, £50 for a final journey to Stuttgart, and £1,250 for his unjustifiable dismissal and loss of profits on the projected book. The Civil Tribunal allowed the first claim, but rejected the others. 
     Rosenthal was a remarkable figure. Although he never attained the highest level he distinguished himself by promoting chess in France, his adopted country.  After he arrived in France as a political refugee and began a somewhat precarious existence in Paris as a chessplayer at the Cafe de la Regence. His matches with Neumann showed that he was a strong and resourceful player and encouraged him to challenge Zukertort. Though he took a beating in the match, at London 1883 he defeated Steinitz twice. 
     After this he confined himself to correspondence chess and teaching where he was popular with the aristocratic amateurs in Paris. It's reported that he amassed a larger fortune from chess than any of the other professionals of the day. According to the magazine Checkmate, Rosenthal wrote a book on the Paris tournament of 1900 that was of very poor quality. 
     Rosenthal's best tournament performance was his forth place finish at Vienna, 1873 where he defeated Bird and Paulsen. The following game which was played in the last round against Blackburne features the Kieseritsky Gambit against which Rosenthal employed an ancient and forgotten defense which won the game. In doing so Rosenthal proved Lasker's point that even the worst variation is good enough to be played...once. 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Leonid Stein - Assassin

     He's almost unknown today, but Leonid Stein, born November 12, 1934 in the Ukraine won three USSR Championships (1963, 1965, and 1966) and during those years he was one of the top ten players in the world. 
     He learned to play chess as a pre-teen and progressed up the ranks to Master by the age of 24, but then his progress pretty much stopped, mostly due to his habit of playing blitz chess. Not blitz as we think of it, but blitz in serious games; he typically only spent 15-20 minutes per game which resulted in careless play. 
     His first success came in 1955 and 1956 when he won the Soviet Army Championship. In 1958 he failed to qualify for the Ukrainian Championship and was ready to quit chess, but when one of the players who did qualify couldn't play, Stein was given his place. He finished third and exceeded the Master norm by one and a half points and his career took off. 
     He won the Ukrainian championship, a bronze medal in the 1961 USSR Championship and qualified for the 1962 Stockholm Interzonal where he tied for 6th-8th places with Benko and Gligorich and then won the match for the last candidate spot. Stein won scored 3 points, Benko 2 pts. and Gligoric zero. Unfortunately Stein wasn't allowed to play in the Candidates' tournament at Curacao due to the FIDE rule limiting the number of participants from the same country to three and so Pal Benko went instead. 
     His luck was no better at the next Interzonal tournament in Amsterdam 1964. He finished in 5th place, but he was again disqualified because of the three player rule; Mikhail Tahl, Vasily Smyslov, and Boris Spassky finished ahead of him. He represented the USSR at the Tel Aviv Olympiad in 1954 and scored 10-3, winning the individual gold medal on the first reserve board. At the Havana Olympiad in 1966 he scored 9-3, winning the silver medal on board four. His play was impressive enough that Bobby Fischer offered to play him in a match immediately after the Havana Olympiad, but nothing came of it. 
     Again, in 1967, Stein qualified for the Sousse Interzonal and tied for 6th–8th places with Samuel Reshevsky and Vlastimil Hort. The three had a playoff match in Los Angeles which was won by Reshevsky. 
     Stein again qualified for the Interzonal at Petropolis in 1973 and was considered one of the favorites, but as he was preparing to leave with the Soviet team for the European team championships, he collapsed of an apparent heart attack and died at the age of 38 in the Rossiya Hotel in Moscow. 
     Stein's style was influenced by Chigorin and Alekhine and he was a highly intuitive, natural player, a brilliant, but sound, attacking genius. But, unlike Tahl, he did not take unnecessary risks. He had even scores against Vasily Smyslov, Tigran Petrosian, and Mikhail Botvinnik and plus records against Mikhail Tal, Boris Spassky, and Paul Keres. 
     It's hard to pick one of Stein's games because there are so many brilliant ones, but the following miniature against the great Hungarian GM Lajos Portisch from the 1962 Stockholm Interzonal is typical. 
     There are several good books on Stein available: Leonid Stein: Master of Risk Strategy by Gufeld, Leonid Stein - Master of attack by Raymond Keene and Stein Move by Move by Thomas Engqvist. Any one of them are a good buy if you are looking for great attacking games. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

1992 US Championship - Another Controversy and More Excitement

Igor Ivanov in 2005
     There was another controversy in this event involving Gata and Rustam Kamsky even though Gata wasn't playing. The event was held in Durango, Colorado at the Red Lion Inn, now permanently closed. 
     The tournament was originally scheduled for September but was rescheduled twice to accommodate Kamsky who was the defending champion. See my post on the previous championship tournament HERE.     After accepting his invitation, the Kamskys, taking a lesson from Bobby Fischer and a few other great players of the past, requested a $5,000 appearance fee, which the USCF refused to pay, so Kamsky withdrew. 
     That left the USCF with playing dates they didn't like, but because this tournament counted as a zonal and Software Toolworks was a sponsor, it was likely that most of the top players would accept their invitations. The previous tournament had been a knockout format, but FIDE had wisely precluded such a format as a qualifier in their rules. Most players and chess fans thought the idea of a knockout tournament stunk anyway especially because draws meant speed chess to break ties. 
     The tournament itself started with its share of surprises: Stuart Rachels, in a winning position, lost to Walter Browne on time. The 43-year-old Browne, appearing in his 11th straight championship since 1978, banged the clock with his fist as he made his 38th move  which left Rachels visibly stunned.
     A 41-year-old mathematician from Cleveland, Ohio, Boris Men had emigrated from the Soviet Union in 1991. A 1962 issue of the magazine Chess in USSR had reported on two promising 11-year-olds who had competed in the Russian Federation Championship: Boris Men and Anatoly Karpov.   Men had abandoned chess to pursue his career in mathematics, but it was revived in Cleveland where he was working with Yermolinsky at the latter's Chess Academy. Men was rated 2500-plus with the USCF, but didn't have an FIDE rating and was something of an unknown.  He had a promising start: in the first two rounds he defeated Kamran Shirazi and Roman Dzhindzhikashvili.  But, after his good start Men was through as he won only one more game in the remaining 13 rounds.
     Kamran Shirazi was born in Tehran and moved to the United States in the late 1970s and quickly became one of the most active players in the country, winning many tournaments. Known for playing strange and unorthodox openings his rating rose rapidly and he became one of the highest rated players in the US. But in the 1984 US Championship he managed only one draw from 17 games, finishing last. In that championship, Shirazi also lost the shortest decisive game in the history of the US Championship against John Peters: 1.e4 c5 2.b4 (the Wing Gambit!) cxb4 3.a3 d5 4.exd5 Qxd5 5.axb4?? Qe5+ 0-1 as black picks off the a1 Rook. Shirazi appeared as himself in the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer where he was addressed as GM Shirazi although he was actually an IM. This tournament was almost as bad as the 1984 event for Shirazi as he only managed draws against D. Gurevich and Yermolinsky. In 2006 he moved to France and changed his FIDE affiliation to France. 
      Another surprise came from the 20-year-old Ilya Gurevich (no relation to Dimitry) who was the youngest player in the tournament. He started well but then fell away. 
     The low-rated 21-year-old Alex Sherzer was still an IM and after five rounds shared first place with John Fedorowicz, Boris Gulko and Patrick Wolff. 
     Aside from Sherzer, the 24-year-old Wolff was just about the only American-born player to rise to prominence since 1985. Wolff learned the moves at five and was playing in only his third championship and after eight rounds he was tied for second with Seirawan, Fedorowicz and Dimitry Gurevich, a full point behind Sherzer. Sherzer was unbeaten and had succeeded winning four in a row against Igor Ivanov, Browne, Yermolinsky and Rachels.
     In round nine Igor Ivanov was paired against Rachels who was taking a break from studies at Oxford University. They both played the middlegame badly and reached an unclear endgame when Ivanov fell asleep at the board. When he suddenly woke up and realized it was his move, he picked up his King, thinking it was his Queen, and made his move. Being forced to move his King, he ended up losing. Igor might as well not been invited to this tournament...he played a 7-move draw against Gurevich, nine moves against Men, A. Ivanov and Dzindzichashvili and a 13 mover against Yermolinsky. . 
     In the 13th round Sherzer defeated Men and guaranteed himelf a spot in the 1993 Interzonal.  Going into the last round things were tense. The key pairings were Fedorowicz vs. Sherzer, Gulko vs. Ilya Gurevich and Men vs. Wolff. 
     Gulko, who occasionally showed a lack of ambition, played a 32 move draw and when Wolff defeated Men, who appeared tired and had lost his last five games in a row, he moved into first as Fedorowicz defeated Sherzer causing Sherzer to slip into a tie for second with Gulko. 
     As a result of this tournament, Patrick Wolff, Boris Gulko, Alex Sherzer, Yasser Seirawan, and Dmitry Gurevich qualified for the 1994 Biel Interzonal. 

1) Wolff 10.5 
2-3) Gulko and Sherzer 10.0 
4-5) Seirawan and D. Gurevich 9.0 
6) Fedorowicz 8.5 
7-9) Yermolinsky, Benjamin and I. Gurevich 8.0 
10) Dzindzikashvili 7.5 
11-12) Browne and A. Ivanov 7.0 
13) Rachels 6.5 
14-15) I. Ivanov and Men 5.0 
16) Shirazi 1.0 

    The following game is Igor Ivanov's miniature loss to Joel Benjamin.  It's a good indication that he was probably wise to take all those short draws.  His problems in this tournament were likely related to the fact that he was an alcoholic who, according to Kevin Spraggett, would sometimes be found at local chess clubs under the table instead of sitting at it. As a result his strength began seriously declining in the mid-1980s. 
     Igor Ivanov (January 8, 1947 – November 17, 2005) was a Russian-born Canadian GM.  Born in Leningrad, he learned chess at age five and studied music intensively as a youth, specializing in piano, and was very talented.  He was orphaned at age 14 when his mother died; she had wanted him to become a concert pianist, but he preferred to concentrate on chess. 
     Ivanov studied Mathematics at Leningrad State University, but left before completing his degree. He represented Uzbekistan where he scored many tournament successes at a level just below the very top. 
     In 1980 he was a member of a Soviet delegation in the Capablanca Memorial tournament in Havana and on what was supposed to have been a direct flight home to Moscow, the Czech airliner had to make an emergency refueling stop in Gander, Newfoundland.  Ivanov ran from the plane with only what he was wearing and his pocket chess set with KGB agents giving chase. He managed to elude the agents and was granted political asylum in Canada. He settled in Montreal and enjoyed many success in Canadian events. 
     While remaining a Canadian citizen, Ivanov moved to the US in the early 1980s so he could participate in the Grand Prix tournaments, then being sponsored by Church's Fried Chicken. Roving all over the US, Ivanov played in every tournament he could, both great and small. He lived in Utah with his wife Elizabeth, a retired teacher who was at one time a distinguished player herself. He won the Utah Open and the Utah Championship every time he played and was finally awarded the GM title in 2005, the year he was diagnosed with cancer. The Professional Players' Health and Benefit Fund of the USCF helped him with financial support for his chemotherapy treatments. He died on November 17, 2005 in St. George, Utah. 
     St. George received the brunt of the fallout of above-ground nuclear testing in the Nevada Test Site northwest of Las Vegas in the early 1950s as winds routinely carried the fallout directly through the St. George and southern Utah area. Marked increases in cancer not limited to leukemia, lymphoma, thyroid cancer, breast cancer, melanoma, bone cancer, brain tumors, and gastrointestinal tract cancers were reported from the mid-1950s and still continue today. A 1962 United States Atomic Energy Commission report found that children living in St. George at the time of the fallout may have received high doses of radioiodine to the thyroid. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Bisguier Bamboozles Taimanov

    The following game from the Maroczy Memorial at Budapest in 1961 features a game in which Bisguier adapted the London System against Mark Taimanov.
     In his prime Taimanov was one of the best players in the world and a gifted concert pianist. He also achieved fame at the age of seven when he appeared in an award winning movie, Beethoven's Concert, a Soviet children's film released in 1937. He was cast to play the leading role but not play as a piano player but as a violinist. He was also a gifted journalist and writer. 
     After he lost 6-0 to Fischer in their 1971 candidate's match his bags were searched by Soviet authorities upon his return home and they found a book by Solshenitsyn ans some money that Dr. Euwe had asked him to deliver to the ailing Salo Flohr. The Party blamed Taimanov's defeat on his failure to read proper Communist literature and even hinted that he had been bribed to throw the match. The result was a censure stripping him of his salary, civil rights and travel privileges. As a result, his marriage broke up and piano career was destroyed. 

     I have Bisguier's two books containing his best games and the first book is cheaply printed in large format. The second is a much better publication being a smaller format and of much higher quality. In the books Bisguier does an admirable job of describing the games in general, telling anecdotes and giving some historical background of the times in which they played. His constant referring to Knights as steads and Bishops as prelates, etc is a little annoying and his annotations! The annotations are light notes and the games are, in general, poorly annotated; it looks to me like they were slopped together for the books! Nevertheless, I like both books because of the games. Larry Evans called Bisguier the greatest natural player in the 1963 US Championship and in his prime Bisguier was a highly original and imaginative player. Perhaps too much so because sometimes his dubious opening choices and flights of fancy wouldn't hold up in serious competition and it often hurt his results. 
     In this wild game against Taimanov, Bisguier sacrificed a N for what was basically positional compensation and Taimanov offered manly resistance.  Then Bisguier unsoundly sacrificed another N which intensified his attack and left Taimanov looking perplexed, but he continued his careful defense as the tension mounted. Then in time trouble, Taimanov spilled his soft drink causing the tournament officials to stop the clocks while they cleaned things up. 
     Bisguier thought Taimanov would take advantage of the break by using the extra time to analyze the position. Instead, according to Bisguier, he walked around looking embarrassed and flustered. After play resumed he quickly went astray. When he resigned the audience cheered and applauded, but Bisguier was unsure whether it was due to his enterprising play or the fact that one of the despised Russians had been defeated. The Hungarians presented Bisguier with a book of Maroczy's games for his efforts. 

1) Korchnoi 11.5 
2-3) Bronstein and Filip 9.5 
4-7) Portisch, Simagin,Taimanov and Dely 9.0 
8) Uhlmann 8.5 
9) Barcza 8.0 
10) Bilek 7.0 
11) Donner 6.5 
12) Bisguier 6.0 
13) Kluger 5.0 
14) Haag 4.5 
15) Drimer 4.0 
16) Pogats 4.0

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Let's Talk About the Boleslavsky Wall

     Boleslavsky, together with fellow Ukrainians Bronstein, Geller, and Konstantinopolsky, beginning in the late 1930s, turned the K-Indian from a suspect defense into one of the most popular defenses today. 
     After World War Two the opening became a mainstay in GM competition. Hans Kmoch in Pawn Power in Chess calls the King's Indian configuration of black pawns on c6 and d6 (especially if the d-pawn is on a semi-open file) "the Boleslavsky Wall".  Besides the K-Indian, the Boleslavsky Wall can also arise from other openings such as the English, Pirc and even the Ruy Lopez. 
     The reason the opening was viewed with suspicion was because it was believed that if black had to exchange ...exd4 his Pawn on d6 was left weak. What Boleslavsky proved was that black has a lot of tactical resources available in these types of positions. Of course Boleslavsky wasn't the first to recognize that fact. Just check out the remarkably modern-looking game Paulsen vs Anderssen, Leipzig 1877!
     When Boleslavsky (and the others, especially Bronstein) studied this P-formation back in the 1950s they used some the ideas found in the Paulsen - Anderssen game and added some ideas of their own. 

White can try: 
1) exploitation of d6 
2) Pawn breaks e4-e5 or c4-c5 
3) Attacking on the Q-side with b2-b4-b5. 

Black can try: 
1) Q-side play with a7-a5-a4. 
2) pressure against white's e-Pawn 
3) using the black squares on the a1-h8 diagonal 
4) ...h5, ...Kg7 and ...h5 creating mating threats 
5) Pawn breaks ...d6-d5 and/or ...f7-f5 

     Generally speaking, black should avoid the strategy of advancing ...c7-c5 as he did in the previous game because it leaves a huge hole on d5. 
     GM Mikhalchishin put out a CD video on this line a few years ago claiming it can be efficiently used by white if he wants to avoid a ton of K-Indian theory by focusing on plans and ideas instead of memorizing reams of analysis. He gave the CD the catchy and misleading title Play the King's Indian Defense with g3 in 60 Minutes. What I found amusing was that he then broke his discussion down into 12 parts. Let's see, that's 5 minutes per part which doesn't seem like a lot of time even if you're just going to learn a system and the associated ideas. 
     He stated that when white faces the K-Indian or the Gruenfeld he has three approaches. First, try to out-prepare his opponent in the main lines, second, play one of the space-grabbing lines such as the Saemisch or third, fianchetto the B which imposes the type of game upon black that he's trying to avoid. This approach gives white a variety of very flexible plans, based more on principles than on specific moves. One reviewer wrote, "...with so much information, a second viewing will undoubtedly be desirable, however the fact remains that the viewer has a very rich presentation in the opening..." So much for the 60 minute claim. 
     The following old game, Kan vs. Boleslavsky, Moscow 1952 shows black using the ...d5-d6 combined with the ...f7-f5 strategy. 
     Ilya Kan (May 4, 1909 – December 12, 1978) was a Soviet International Master who played in ten Soviet Championships. His opening theory contribution was mainly in the flexible Kan Variation of the Sicilian Defense: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6. 
     In this game Kan chooses the finachetto method of meeting the K-Indian. This way of meeting it is not the most challenging, but its advantage is that most of the time black does not get the sort of counterplay he hopes for when playing the K-Indian. The disadvantage is that in order for it to be effective white must possess some positional skills to capitalize on his small advantages. Here though, thanks to Kan's failure to appreciate the potential in black's position, he does not meet Boleslavsky's threats in the best way and gets badly outplayed. A most instructive game. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Squares in the King's Indian

     While browsing the November 2011 Chess Life there was an interesting article on the US Open in which seven GMs tied for first: Nakamura, Gelashbili, Gareyev, Ramirez, Kacheishvili, Lenderman and Zapata. 
     The article featured some games with superb annotations by GM Alejandro Ramirez. What caught my attention was the last round game between Ramirez (2674) and GM Julio Sadorra (2561) in which Ramirez discussed a K-Indian position and the importance of squares and black's backward d-Pawn which is frequently seen in the K-Indian. 
     In his classic Zurich 1953 David Bronstein revealed the secret of black's backward d6-Pawn that often appears on the semi-open d-file. It should be weak, but it often proves a tough nut to crack and if white injudiciously captures it bad things can happen. 
     Very often white will have a N on d4 and it seems a simple matter to simply retreat it and take black's P, but as Bronstein pointed out, d4 is precisely where white needs the N to keep an eye on the squares b5, c6, e6 and f5. Sitting on d4 white's N also neutralizes the power of black's B on g7. The d6-Pawn can be captured, but only after white has taken precautions against all of black's possible attacks: ...a7-a5-a4-a3, ...Bc8-e6, ...f7-f5. Only then can the N be removed from d4, but in the meantime black has time to regroup. If the opportunity arises early in the game for white to capture the P on d6 a good rule of thumb is, "Don't." 
     Also, sometimes when the center is closed (white Ps on c4, d5 and e4 with black Ps on d6 and e5) you'll see black play ...Nd4. This often gives white the opportunity to capture on d4 and after black replies ...Pxd4 white may even be able to win the P. Often though white refuses to capture on d4. The reason is that black benefits substantially from his e-pawn's disappearance. The half-open file allows him to exert pressure against white's pawn, forcing some of white's pieces to awkward squares, and the lever ...f5 often threatens to demolish white's center. The open a1/h8 diagonal means that, assuming black can regain his P, his dark square bishop will be no liability in an ending. The recapture ...e5xd4 will also make the e5 square available to black's pieces. It's not all in black's favor though; white gets the d4 square. 
     What got me curious in this games was how the GMs opinions matched the evaluations of Stockfish 8 and Komodo 10, especially since engines, even today, do not often give correct evaluations of the K-Indian.
     When analyzing the below game, Ramirez gave very little analysis and mostly just gave his general impression of what would have happened if he had played a different move. The position after black's 19th move was especially interesting because the GM thinks black's position was "just awful", but the engines disagree, evaluating the position as almost dead equal. As I pointed out in my notes to the game, this is what makes modern engine-assisted correspondence chess such a difficult challenge...discovering which, if any, of several moves of nearly equal value might actually be better and is the engine evaluation always correct or is there something in the position that's over its horizon? Just to get some idea of the general course the game might take I ran some Shootouts from the position after 20.Nd5 at 17-25 plies using Stockfish 8 and Komodo 10.  Both engines produced identical scores of +2 -0 =3, so I think it's safe to say that the GMs opinion of the position is closer to the truth than the engine's equal evaluation.   

Monday, January 23, 2017

Two Different Players?

     Frank Norton is known as a problem composer who gained attention in the 1870s and he was proclaimed to have been a child prodigy, but that claim was probably an exaggeration. I could find only one problem that he composed and it did not seem to be particularly good. His games are scarce and I only found a couple of odds games mostly against very weak opponents. 
     Chess historian Jeremy Gaige wrote that Norton was born on November 1, 1866, possibly in England, with his date of death unknown. Other than that, not much is known. 
     The January 1878 Scientific American Supplement noted that Norton was 11 years old and had moved with his family, mother and father plus four brothers and two sisters, from Des Moines, Iowa to Council Grove, Kansas. 
     In a letter to Edward Winter who mentioned Norton in a couple of his books, Olimpiu G. Urcan wrote that his research indicated Norton was born in 1869 in Iowa. He served in the artillery in the Spanish-American War which took place in 1898. He was married to Lillian in November, 1904 in Des Moines where he worked for the city as an auditor. Later he worked as an insurance agent. Urcan reports that according to Iowa Deaths and Burials, Frank Norton died in Burlington, Iowa on October 19, 1930. 
     The problem with the birth date given by Urcan is that the November, 1902 issue of Checkmate, A Monthly Chess Chronicle and the November, 1882 issue of the British Chess Magazine both give his birth date as 1866, the same a Gaige. 
     I discovered some newspaper clippings on Ancestry about a Frank Norton who was born on November 1, 1866 in Braidwood, Illinois and died at his home in Marsing, Idaho the morning of September 27, 1938. This Frank Norton had been in poor health for the past five years and confined to his bed for nine months following a stroke. According to the obituary, he moved with his parents to Missouri for a short time and later to Council Grove, Kansas where he was married to Elizabeth. In 1918 they moved to Marsing, Idaho and bought a farm on which they grew sweet potatoes. 
     I am not sure what to make of this. One undated newspaper clipping on Ancestry (apparently from some time in the late 1930s) read, "Although Frank Norton could not play in the chess tournament in Boise this spring on account of his health nor go to Caldwell to play with the chess masters, his son Jack who took third place last year in the Boise tournament, played with both Mr. Taber and Mr. Stewart at Caldwell, winning his game in the simultaneous playing with Mr. Taber and also a game from Mr. Stewart. Both of these players have held the Nevada-Idaho state championship in recent years." 
     None of the newspaper clippings mentioned the fact that Frank Norton of Idaho had ever lived in Iowa. Were they two different people? 
     I only found one of Norton's problems which was a mate in two. I am not a problem solver, but from my understanding, because the problem started with a check, by today's standards it was not a very good one. In an 1876 American Chess Journal article a correspondent stated he had a lad of 10 from Des Moines, Iowa visiting him for two weeks and, for his age, was a "wonderful chess player" and who had also managed to solve most chess problems given him directly from the diagram without setting up the board. Norton's play was described as very deliberate and "His hand never wanders over the board, but when he is ready he seizes the piece firmly, moves at once, and takes his hand away." Norton's opponent in an attached game was obviously very weak and the game was scarcely worth a second look. 
     There was also a brief article in an 1875 issue of The Chess Journal which claimed that, "Near Des Moines, Iowa is a frail boy of eight years old that bids fair to become a wonderful chess player, if his mind is not destroyed by over exertion at this tender age. Master Frank Norton commenced chess a few months ago and is allowed to play but one game a day." It should be pointed out that "Master" here was a title in use in those days for boys were were too young to be referred to as "Mister." It was not a chess title! 
     The following game, which appeared in the January 1878 edition of the Scientific American Supplement, in which his father gave him odds of the a1-Rook is of much higher quality.