Daniel Kopec

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MJMcCready
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Daniel Kopec

Post by MJMcCready » Wed Jun 15, 2016 7:53 am

Daniel Kopec has passed away according to the following link:

http://en.chessbase.com/post/im-daniel-kopec-dies-at-62

Mick Norris
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Re: Daniel Kopec

Post by Mick Norris » Wed Jun 15, 2016 8:34 am

Chess Mind
In addition to being an IM, Danny Kopec was also a computer science professor at Brooklyn College. A smart guy! His best days as a player were behind him, but he achieved some repute as an author, most recently for his collaboration with Lubosh Ftacnik and Walter Browne in the Quality Chess book Champions of the New Millennium.
Any postings on here represent my personal views and should not be taken as representative of the Manchester Chess Federation www.manchesterchess.co.uk

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Jon Mahony
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Re: Daniel Kopec

Post by Jon Mahony » Wed Jun 15, 2016 11:09 am

Wow sad news, pretty young age to go!

I remember an 80 grade player in the Leeds league a few years ago got obsessed with the Kopec Sicilian, made a thorough study of it and convinced himself he was going to beat Richard Palliser with it in a simul he was doing at the club (I think Richard let us have 2 games one of each colour) Always remember this guy saying “That’s what he’ll be getting Kopec and chips!” I didn’t want to pee on his bonfire by pointing out that even I battered him every time he tried it against me, so how was Palliser going to loose :roll:

RIP
"When you see a good move, look for a better one!" - Lasker

Jonathan Rogers
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Re: Daniel Kopec

Post by Jonathan Rogers » Thu Jun 16, 2016 11:16 am

Among occasional posters here, I guess that Nigel Davies, Craig Pritchett and Geoff Chandler knew Danny the longest. Craig has already written some words on the Scottish forum.

I knew Danny briefly between 1997-1999, while he was in London. He played occasionally for Barbican in 4NCL; his first match was against Slough, which we won. I remember that Danny held Summerscale with Black very comfortably, and the match was won on the next board when Colin Crouch held out (with less ease) against Kosten. It's very sad that both these players have died over the last year or so. I think that Danny would have become a GM had he been sufficiently determined, and he played a high number of very striking games; but he had other interests, as documented on the Chessbase page, and enjoyed coaching very much.

He had a strong character and he often made me laugh, though perhaps not always on purpose. He used to make a big fuss about the Kopec System being named after him, when no one else could see why he would want it to be named after him. (To be fair, it is occasionally employed nowadays by GMs). When he played, he was fully committed to the team as a whole. In the first weekend of the 1998/9 season, he wanted me to double check that everyone knew the clocks were going back overnight, and so on. He also showed us his preparation for John Nunn, whom he would play the following day with Black. To our astonishment he wielded out a book on the Open Sicilian from the 1970s, complete with descriptive notation. A forgotten line for Black, which was quite sound! We tried to express our reservations, but to no avail and it was to be the only game he lost for us. "Strong attacking player!" he said, after the game, referring to Nunn. "Yes, I know" I said quietly.

His family came from Slovakia, and he also played for us in the European Club Cup in Senec, 1998, back in the days when there were qualifying groups all over Europe. His local knowledge was invaluable, for Slovakia was not a very welcoming place for westerners; I remember a local cafe where locals would sit all day, having bought just one coffee, if even that - but we were only allowed to sit down if we ordered a meal...

I believe that he leaves behind a son in his mid 20s as well as a widow, and my thoughts are with them.

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: Daniel Kopec

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Thu Jun 16, 2016 11:37 am

Is it possible to relay more about his time in Scotland and have that posted here? The Chessbase obituary linked above says:

"Scottish Champion at 26" and "a PhD in Machine Intelligence from the University of Edinburgh". It also says "For more than 20 years he tested and evaluated hundreds of human and machine chess players in the UK, Canada, and US". Did he split his time between the UK and the US/Canada?

Nice story about his preparation versus Nunn!

Jonathan Rogers
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Re: Daniel Kopec

Post by Jonathan Rogers » Thu Jun 16, 2016 11:51 am

This was all before my time, so I am hazy on details, but I believe he lived in Scotland for four years or so while doing his PhD; and his American Univeristy had a campus in London which is why he was here in the 1990s. But he generally lived in the US.

Gordon Cadden
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Re: Daniel Kopec

Post by Gordon Cadden » Thu Jun 16, 2016 3:47 pm

Remember Danny Kopec in London during the 1990's. He gave chess instruction to the pupils at the American School in London, St Johns Wood.

Jonathan Rogers
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Re: Daniel Kopec

Post by Jonathan Rogers » Thu Jun 16, 2016 4:30 pm

Yes, I imagine that was during the 1997-1999 period. He was living in Maida Vale.

Alistair Campbell
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Re: Daniel Kopec

Post by Alistair Campbell » Thu Jun 16, 2016 4:58 pm

This is sad news. I hope Craig and/or Geoff will contribute to this thread.

Although I didn’t know him (I wasn’t remotely in his league) I recall Danny as a major figure in Scottish chess in the late 70s/ early 80s – a regular participant and prize-winner in weekend congresses – his presence being pointed out to the callow amateur in hushed tones – “that’s Kopec”. Would he have travelled to tournaments on motorbike? Or does my memory fail me?

I note that he played in the Scottish Championships of 1977 and 1978 before winning at Troon in 1980.

He was doing his PhD in what was the Artificial Intelligence department of Edinburgh University – rumour had it it was on how computers played King and single pawn endings (his thesis, by “Danny Kopec” is available online) – but didn’t play for the University AFAIK, instead making occasional appearances on top board for Edinburgh CC, winning the Richardson Cup a couple of times.

He was also chess correspondent of the short-lived Sunday broadsheet “the Sunday Standard” – a forerunner of the Sunday Herald. In that role he played a game against the readership (where the most popular reply to his move was played). I remember that game started 1.e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nf6, which was rather unusual, and the sort of thing that Roddy McKay played, leading to speculation that Roddy may have had some influence on responses.

My only contact with him was arranging for him to do a successful talk in the Maths department at Edinburgh Uni – I forget what the subject was, something to do with computers and chess, I guess, but he was thrilled to have tempted the semi-legendary figure Sandy Davie (once the youngest ever Scottish champion, and who had given up the game in his early twenties) to attend and suggest some tactical solutions to problems posed.

I imagine Chess Scotland will publish a proper obituary soon, as befits a former champion.

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: Daniel Kopec

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Thu Jun 16, 2016 5:11 pm

Alistair Campbell wrote:He was doing his PhD in what was the Artificial Intelligence department of Edinburgh University – rumour had it it was on how computers played King and single pawn endings (his thesis, by “Danny Kopec” is available online)
https://www.era.lib.ed.ac.uk/handle/1842/8122

Human and Machine Representations of Knowledge - Danny Kopec - 1982

NYT obituary here:

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/nytime ... =180329330

Nick Ivell
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Re: Daniel Kopec

Post by Nick Ivell » Thu Jun 16, 2016 7:16 pm

I was shocked to hear this news. I knew Danny well during his early years in the UK. Sadly we lost touch from the mid 80s onwards.

I first met Danny at Hastings in 1977. Never averse to speaking his mind, he was a fierce critic of the playing conditions there. I managed to beat him in our individual game in the Challengers and somewhat surprisingly, for he was not the best of losers, we became firm friends. He had completely outplayed me but suffered an inexplicable lapse in concentration - I think this was a weakness of his, especially against weaker players.

I stayed with Danny several times in Edinburgh between 1978 and 1982. I remember he kindly took me on a tour of the Highlands including a visit to Skye. He was always generous as a host and as a young man he certainly had an eye for the ladies!

Danny spent a lot of time explaining the Kopec system to me. I was never totally convinced. At the time he would wheel it out against any Sicilian set up; personally I think it's only pretty decent against 2...d6 (as in a Horner v Chandler game I seem to recall). I saw him lose some bad games against 2...e6 and 2....Nc6.

Danny was passionate about his chess and was a man of strong views. This did not always make him popular. I remember him as a man who shone brightly in Scottish chess for a while but there was always much more to him than his chess. He played a mean game of tennis. I'm sure he would have been a grandmaster had he devoted more of his time to his chess.

RIP Danny. You will be missed.

Craig Pritchett
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Re: Daniel Kopec

Post by Craig Pritchett » Thu Jun 16, 2016 8:44 pm

Very sad news to me, though I had been aware that Danny had been diagnosed (early) with pancreatic cancer a year or so ago. He hoped that it would remain in remission and thought that the odds were in his favour due to early treatment. Unfortunately it appears that this was not to be.

I knew him very well from his early days in Scotland from around 1976 and co-authored a book with him, 'Best Games of the Young Grandmasters' (Bell & Hyman, 1980), reissued in 2002 by Dover, who bought the rights and published the unchanged text under the (probably commercially better) title, 'Chess World Title Contenders and their Styles'. Geoff Chandler, Nigel Davies and others co-authored a more commercially successful manual, 'Mastering Chess: a course in 21 Lessons' (1994), which Geoff assures me still results in tangible royalty payments after a good many years.

As I've offered to write an obit/eulogy for the Chess Scotland Magazine (not online I'm afraid), I won't go on here. I have too many memories and would wish to serve his memory well, including some of his chess games, to be able to do that as well as I'd like on an online forum. I would, however, concur that much, if not all of the above posts, already gives a fine flavour of Danny's colourful, committed and conscientiously hard-working life. He was a good friend and my sympathies go especially to his wife, Sylvia, son, David, stepson, Oliver, and other close relatives.

He had lives outside of chess. He did play tennis with a long-time passion and rode a motor-bike; he also had a peculiar love-affair with a favourite 1950s Cadillac, which, if I recall correctly, he even imported from the US during his stay in London. He would have been acutely aware of today's tragedy, MP Jo Cox's death, and aghast at its circumstances (not yet all known, as I write, of course). RIP ... both. Terrible losses.

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