Vassily Ivanchuk: Paris can wait…
When he was 17 years old, Vassily Ivanchuk was one of the members of the Soviet youth team that made a brief trip through Western Europe. Once the coach, GM Alexei Suetin, told his young players that the next day a tour around the City of Light was scheduled and that, besides some museum, they would visit the Eiffel Tower.
At the scheduled time the group was missing a player: Vassily Ivanchuk. So Suetin went to his room and found him re-playing some match. The young star said that he preferred to stay in the hotel studying the Informator.
Suetin insisted: “You will always have the Informator, but who knows whether you could ever come again to Paris…”
But this was of no use.
Vassily Ivanchuk stayed in his hotel room because he didn’t care about the Eiffel Tower and the Impressionist Museum. But he did about the last developments of the chess theory.
Nicolas Rossolimo: genius and wit
There exist birth circumstances that imprint personality on the baby still in the cradle if, for example, you have a Russian mother, a Greek father, and you are born in Kiev. Such was the case of Nicolas Rossolimo (1910-1975) who wandered through Europe looking for his place in the world.
Before he turned twenty, he has been, for example, a longshoreman in Istanbul and Marseille. Then, Paris. Later, America, in search of the Promised Land. It all seemed to be from a movie of Elia Kazan. Over time, in his erratic existence, the man mastered several languages, became a black belt in judo, and learned to decently play the concertina (an instrument similar to the accordion).
Smart and meticulous in the extreme during his youth, Nicolas Rossolimo won the title of Grandmaster at maturity. In that phase of his life, his game became more solid and consistent.
A journalist (and as we well know, journalists can be more annoying than a bedbug) asked him why his chess play became more conservative. Nicolas Rossolimo answered: “Look, when my opponent pushes me too much in the game, I clench my teeth and I tell myself: This guy wants me back in the docks!”
Nicolas Rossolimo was a taxi driver in New York. But when his results improved, he became a professional chess player, creating his own academy. Tragically, he fell down the stairs of his house and the fall killed him. Just like writer Julio Cortázar said, “there are stairs just for climbing.”
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