Classic chess: The match of Botvnick-Flohr…
In November 1933, an encounter of classic chess had taken place that had to awaken great expectations in Soviet Russia, between Mijail Botvinnik and Salo Flohr, who was one of the great stars of the time.
The match was scheduled for twelve plays, playing the first six in Moscow, in the famous Hall of Columns of the House of the Unions, and the other six in Leningrad. The fever awakened by the encounter reminisced the one who lived during the great international tournament of 1925, and a proof of this is reflected in the verses of the famous poet Semion Kirsanov:
I have never played chess in my life,
but in the days of the match of Botvinnik-Flohr
I walk, like a board sent to darkness,
exhausted by all the matches and tournaments.
One hundred pans squeaking in my brain.
By the streets, do I walk? At knight’s pace.
Or I ride, feeling my own nooks.
I neigh, anyway, as if I was possessed.
The final draw, 2-2 and 8 draws, did not resolve the question, but will later be solved by history.
Classic chess: Fine and Reshevsky…
The young prodigy Samuel Reshevsky had, during the past decades, led the American and classic chess. But then, a brilliant opponent emerged: Reuben Fine. This young master had a meteoric irruption on the international board. And many remembered his predecessors, Paul Morphy, and Harry Nelson Pillsbury. In 1936, Fine started a 19-month tour around Europe, in which he played 13 tournaments and won eight! He had also beaten in a match, the great Swedish master Stahlberg (4-2 and 2 draws). However, he could never win the USA Tournament. He was very close to winning in 1936, 1938 and 1940, in which he finished in second place.
The vanity and arrogance that characterized Reshevsky made him ask his all-time favorite question: “Do you know why Fine could never win the USA Championship?” The listeners never knew. “Because I didn’t let him”, he explained, with a malicious smile…
Classic chess: Through the looking glass…
In 1971, the USSR Championship by teams took place in Rostov-on-Don. During the competition, one of the grandmasters participating in the championship had to assist to the party in which, according to the strict Russian traditions, the one who arrives late has to drink a cup of vodka instantly, as a penalty. The grandmaster, aware of his obligations on the board the next day, wanted to leave early. But the remorse of leaving the reunion and the evident lack of respect for his hosts, made him take justice into his own hands and anticipated the potential penalty with toasts and toasts of self-indictment.
When he arrived at the chess room, he could barely find the chair which, supposedly, should occupy his opponent, none lesser than Boris Spassky. But the GM Krogius clarified to him: “If you are looking for the world champion, he is a couple of boards above.”
Finally, and after the familiar greetings with Spassky (“Hi, babushka!” / Hi, grandpa!), our hero saw that on the board the play 1 e4 has already been made, so he responded with 1… Nc6. The game followed like that: 2 f4 b6 3 Nf3 e5 4 fxe5 Nxe5? 5 Nxe5
The illegal moves…
At that moment, the blacks played 5 … Kxe5?!?, a move that naturally finds an objection by the referee, lying close enough to indicate to the daring player of the black pieces that the movement was not regulated. But the grandmaster exploded: “What the fuck is going on here! I have played the Grünfeld defense my whole life, but someone refutes it just like that!”
Obviously, the hero of our story had suffered a “specular” mirage: the upside down image of the flank, as a consequence of his strict respect for the Russian traditions…
From the book LA FIESTA DEL AJEDREZ, A. Gude
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