Paraskevidekatriaphobia or even friggatriskaidekaphobia. Two extremely long and unpronounceable words for people with a morbid, irrational fear of today, which is the second of three Friday the 13ths this year. Each year has at least one Friday the 13th, but there can be as many as three. 2012 was the last year with three Friday the 13ths; the next will be in 2026.
Thomas Fensler, a professor at the University of Delaware, has studied Friday the 13th extensively; he even went by the nom de plume of Dr. 13 - until he learned of a comic book character of the same name and decided to change his to avoid legal trouble. He now goes by Professor 13.
You may well laugh at someone making a study of Friday the 13th, but it is a big deal for many who are superstitious across the globe. The hard facts are that it’s been estimated that over $2billion worth of commerce worldwide won’t happen today simply because people are afraid to fly, travel, commit or shop.
But try telling that to former world champion Garry Kasparov, whose lucky talisman is the number 13 - and he loved playing on Friday the 13th, once telling me it brought out the beast in him! He explains further in his business-minded book, How Life Imitates Chess: “I like the number 13. I was born on April 13th [a Friday!]. I’m the 13th world champion. I have 13 letters in my name. So naturally, I look for anything related to the number 13 to make myself comfortable.”
But many top grandmasters are not like Kasparov, and are very superstitious about even playing on Friday the 13th - all of which is a bit awkward for many currently playing at the Reykjavik Open in Iceland, and I wouldn’t at all be surprised if we see a lot of early draws today. Best then to get a good win in before today’s fateful day - and this was the attitude the young California-based chess prodigy and grandmaster Daniel Naroditsky took, as he moved to within a half point of the leaders, on 3.5/4, with a convincing win over his fellow countryman.
IM Y Norowitz - GM D Naroditsky
Reykjavik Open, (4)
1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 e6 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.Qa4+ c6 6.Qxc4 b5 7.Qd3 Bb7 8.Bg5 Nbd7 9.g3 a6 10.Bg2 c5 11.0–0 h6 12.Bxf6 Nxf6 13.Rfd1 Qb6 14.a4 c4 15.Qc2 Bb4 16.Nd2 Bxg2 17.Kxg2 0–0 18.Nde4 Nd5 19.Nxd5 exd5 20.Nc3 Bxc3 21.bxc3 (See Diagram) 21...b4! 22.a5 Black's plan is simple: to eventually exchange rooks on the b-file and press home the win with the passed c-pawn created by 21...b4! So if 22.cxb4 Qxb4 23.Rab1 Qd6 and then contest the b-file followed by exchanging of rooks. 22...Qd6 23.cxb4 Rab8 24.Rdb1 Rxb4 25.Qf5 g6 26.Qf3 Rfb8 27.Rxb4 Rxb4 28.Ra3 Rb5! There's no hope for White, and trying to defend the a-pawn is futile - so he hopes for swindling chances. 29.Re3 Kg7 30.Re8 Rxa5 31.Qg4 Qc6 32.Rd8 Qe6 33.Qf3 h5 34.h4 Qe7! The pawn sacrifice forces the issue - Black's passed c-pawn is going to queen quickly. 35.Rxd5 Rxd5 36.Qxd5 Qxe2 37.Qc5 Qe4+ 38.Kh2 Qd3 39.d5 c3 40.d6 c2 41.Qe5+ Kh7 There’s no hope: if 42.Qe7 Qf3! and if 42.Qc5 Qd2 0–1