< Earlier Kibitzing · PAGE 39 OF 39 ·
|Nov-19-14|| ||Sally Simpson: I really do admire all the work in research in these matters you lads do. I know only too well how balls-aching it can be.|
But why the fascination in what language Keres spoke or knew.
Chess is international. Following an apeal on The Corner I have boxes of foreign mags from all over the world. I can play over the games with ease.
Don't have a Chinese mag. Maybe The Corner was banned there! I think they use symbolic algebraic.
Does it really matter in the great scheme of things what language(s) Keres spoke?
(Anybody got a Chinese magazine? I wonder if Keres spoke Manderin?)
|Nov-24-14|| ||visayanbraindoctor: <Sally Simpson> Chess wise and for most chess fans, it hardly matters at all what languages a chess player speaks. For me though, I am fascinated by Keres because of my interest in languages and minority peoples. Of all the top world contenders and almost world champions in chess history, I believe it was he that was placed in the most dangerously unique situations precisely because of his ethnicity.|
Chess wise, it occurs to me that Keres' uniqueness began in WW2. He began the war playing a kind of Challenger's match or Candidates Finals match with Euwe. From what I understand, the match was held in order to make Alekhine's choice for a Challenger 'easier'. Keres was after all a leading contender after winning AVRO and other top class tournaments, and Euwe was the former world champion. Keres won the match.
And then Keres proceeded to do something that looks impossible. Estonia got annexed by the SU; and Kerres played in the 1940 Soviet championship and in the double round robin Botvinnik-arranged 1941 tournament. Then Estonia fell to Nazi Germany and Keres just continued playing chess, this time in German sponsored tournaments. He became the only master that played in both Soviet and German tournaments. He was like a link between two totally cut-off pools of top European chess masters. And for a man in his hazardous situation, I believe that he played quite well.
Then came the original Candidates tournaments. These were significantly different from those of recent ones because of their number of players and their length. They were veritable marathons among the world's top players. Keres was the only one to qualify in all of them; and he placed 2nd in four out of five. For a chess player who must have been the focus of distrust and perhaps hostility after his cooperation (willing or not is another topic) with Nazis, in a post WW2 Soviet Union, Keres did quite well.
Given his over-all personal history, I rate Keres as the first among the Almost World Champions.
How much more unique can a chess player get?
|Nov-24-14|| ||Sally Simpson: Hi Vishy,
If this language thing really interests you then go for it.
I'm not too sure if the languages he knew or did not know affected decisions by his German and Russian superiors.
Here was someone both could use for proganda purposes. Keres went along to survive which is our basic instinct. We can only guess at what pressure was put on him or threats to his family if he had refused.
No one should judge him, I certainly don't.
When I partake in these who was the strongest non-world champion debates I always pick one from four. Korchnoi, Bronstein, Keres and Tarrasch. It all depends on my mood.
Today it's Korchnoi. He played (in effect) 3 world title matches hacking his way through some tough candidates matches in each one.
Keres played in one World title tournament and was invited in.
|Nov-25-14|| ||Shams: <Sally Simpson> Tarrasch over Rubinstein!|
|Nov-25-14|| ||Sally Simpson: Hi Shams.
|Nov-25-14|| ||Howard: Sally Simpson, I really think you should add Rubenstein to your list. He was certainly one of the 2-3 best players in the world from 1908-1912---possibly even THE best. His tournament record during that period was second to none.|
|Nov-25-14|| ||RookFile: I have no idea who wins a pre World War 1 match between Rubinstein and Lasker. Rubinstein's nerves were still good then.|
|Nov-25-14|| ||Shams: <Howard> I agree with you, but it's obvious <Sally Simpson> has given the matter some thought and he is a knowledgeable kibitzer, not prone to fanboyism or irrationality from what I've seen. |
I regard Keres and Korchnoi as mortal locks and agree with Bronstein's selection as well. Three quarters of our Mt. Rushmore is complete.
|Nov-26-14|| ||Sally Simpson: Rubinstein was robbed of his chance due to WWI. Not his fault (unless some future historian can prove he started it) no argument from me if others want to nominate Rubinstein.|
"...not prone to fanboyism or irrationality from what I've seen."
If you read the profile thingy you see my favourite player is usually Tarrasch. (I chop and change all the time between a select many. No Rubinstein I'm afraid.) Tarrasch's best games by Reinfeld dropped a lot of things into place. Wonderful book.
I posted somewhere else the reason why the English press disliked Tarrasch. I recently read Dvoretsky saying the Russian press also had it in for him because he argued with Chigorin.
Same chapter mentions Kasparov rated highly Tarrasch's 'Die Moderne Schachpartie' very highly. We are still waiting for an English translation.
Great player, great writer about the game and if he had challenged Steinitz instead of Lasker he would have won.
Suppose if I had not been happy to settle into a rut I may have thrown myself into Rubinstein's games as much as I did with Tarrasch. Alekhine, Marshall and Tartakower.
But I only had that one book by Kmoch. An Awful thing written like a text book. No humour, no hook, no compassion and terrible notes (probably not Kmoch's fault, the thing was translated.)
The Dvoretsky chapter I mentioned is in 'Training for the Tournament Player' in the bit where he says you must study the classics.
"Why should I study Alekhine's games when I shall never need to play him?"
Asks one of Dvoretsky's students.
Dvoretsky spends 9 pages explaining why one should.
I think Dvoretsky missed the perfect reply:
"Because your opponents will have."
|Nov-26-14|| ||Petrosianic: <Rubinstein was robbed of his chance due to WWI.>|
Possibly, although he did pretty poorly at St. Petersburg, 1914, before the war started. Perhaps his chance had already passed before the Guns of August fired.
|Nov-26-14|| ||Sally Simpson: I thought the match was to take place in October of that year. His poor showing at St. Petersburg (2 wins, 2 losses and 6 draws) may have been him not wanting to tip his hand or burn himself up but he took no short draws and indeed, given his skill, possibly should have won a couple of the drawn games.|
Maybe it was the pressure put on him too well that did it. By all accounts he was a bit of a nervy character. But bad form can come at any time, perhaps it was just as simple as that. His two win came against the two tail enders, Janowski and Gunsberg.
|Nov-26-14|| ||Petrosianic: Maybe, but Lasker managed to win the tournament, and he had the same match on the horizon. If both players kept the same form (which is a big "If", of course), Rubinstein would have had no chance in October. It must be one of the worst tournament performances ever by a challenger.|
|Nov-26-14|| ||transpose: Nearly 40 years after his death, and there are heated exchanges over when exactly Keres learned to speak Russian. Amazing.|
|Nov-26-14|| ||Petrosianic: What's amazing is someone trying to participate in the discussion without having anything to say about it.|
|Nov-26-14|| ||Sally Simpson: Hi Petrosianic,
"It must be one of the worst tournament performances ever by a challenger."
Possibly, but as I type this someone will be finding an even worse one. Or at least looking. Good, it keeps them busy. Idle hands etc...etc...
|Nov-26-14|| ||Petrosianic: I hedged my bets by saying "one of the worst", but I'll go out on a limb and bet that it's the worst. Or if there's a worse one, then it was probably very recent.|
|Nov-26-14|| ||Strelets: <transpose> Estonia was a linguistically complicated place in the 20th century. Until 1917, it was a part of the Russian Empire, distributed between the govern orates of Estonia and Livonia. It is, however, not enough to leave it at this. Russian administrative policy in the Baltic was hands-off; the preexisting Baltic German nobility (descendants of the Teutonic Knights) continued to run the show until the reign of Alexander III (1881-1894), who, inspired by the vehement Russian nationalism of his adviser Konstantin Pobedonostsev, intensified Russification throughout the Empire. Higher education was nevertheless still in German, explaining how Keres gained fluency in that language. |
When Estonia was annexed, lost, and subsequently regained by the Soviet Union from 1939-1945, Stalin had a problem: how to find enough reliable cadres to administer the new Estonian SSR. A solution was found-dispatch the Estonian communists in Muscovite exile back to their home country. The problem was that they, now accustomed to using Russian almost exclusively, had developed the accents of their hosts. Returning to Tallinn, Pärnu, Tartu, etc. they found themselves mocked as "Yestonians," (Jeestlased, instead of Eestlased) for having picked up the Russian vowel "ye." Party boss Ivan Kebin ultimately re-Estonianized his name, becoming Johannes Käbin, but the Communist Party of Estonia was more Russian and Yestonian than Estonian through the time of Brezhnev.
|Nov-26-14|| ||Olavi: <Petrosianic: I hedged my bets by saying "one of the worst", but I'll go out on a limb and bet that it's the worst. Or if there's a worse one, then it was probably very recent.>|
I'd go with Schlechter St Petersburg (1909). Same percentage, much weaker opposition IMO.
|Nov-26-14|| ||Petrosianic: Hmmm, 9/18. Chessmetrics gives it a 2634 performance, compared to 2645 for Rubinstein. But do we know for sure that Schlechter was the challenger that early? It looks like he played another tournament between that and the championship match.|
|Nov-26-14|| ||Olavi: <But do we know for sure that Schlechter was the challenger that early?>|
The match was agreed on very early. I'll just mention that for instance in five issues of New in Chess 1995 http://www.newinchess.com/Archives/... the matter was discussed in length. But of course e.g. Kasparov wrote so in OMGP, without source.
|Nov-26-14|| ||visayanbraindoctor: <transpose: Nearly 40 years after his death, and there are heated exchanges over when exactly Keres learned to speak Russian. Amazing.>|
It's not too complicated. In all former colonies, the upper class and intelligentsia were and are always able to speak the language of their former colonial masters for a few more years, decades, or even hundreds of years after the colony has seceded (derogatory term) or gained independence (the term that I would rather use). Estonia and the other Baltic Republics had intelligentsia that were able to speak Geman even hundreds of years after thery were transferred to Sweden and to Russia. That may sound peculiar but as <Strelets> points out, it could happen. Even in my locality, the intelligentsia were fluent Spanish speakers even two or three generations after we got transferred to the USA. Until now, every educated person here knows how to speak English, the language of our latest colonial master.
It's the same everywhere in the world AFAIK. Why would Estonia be any different? That's why Keres must have known how to speak German and Russian, this apart from the fact that he grew up in his formative childhood years in a border area.
<Strelets: the reign of Alexander III (1881-1894), who, inspired by the vehement Russian nationalism of his adviser Konstantin Pobedonostsev, intensified Russification throughout the Empire>
Thank you for giving the details. This Russification program has had huge effects on the cultural attitudes of the ethnic peoples of the old Russian Empire, and consequences that I believe exert influence until today.
|Nov-26-14|| ||visayanbraindoctor: Regarding the Almost World Champions, rating the first among them for me has always been a toss-up between Keres and Korchnoi. Unlike the other Almost World Champions, in both of their cases they had real possibilities of capturing the Title for a long long time, almost three decades. At any moment in 30 years, a window may have opened a crack (it did for Korchnoi in 1974, 1978, and 1981, and for Keres in 1948), and they could have gotten in. They were always on the the brink of the Title. I believe were just unlucky. |
Euwe was lucky enough to have been given a Title shot in 1935. Same can be said of Kramnik in 2000. (Notwithstanding, it was not luck that drove them to prepare and fight it out tooth and nail in their WC matches once given the opportunity.) They nailed it.
Smyslov and Tal were given opportunities (they won their chance fairly in a Candidates tournament). They nailed it.
Keres and Korchnoi were the other unnailed end of the lucky dice roll.
I regard these two with the same awe and respect accrued to the ones that actually won a Title match.
Between the two, I favor Keres slightly more, for the reasons given above.
|Nov-26-14|| ||Petrosianic: <I believe were just unlucky.>|
Unlucky in the sense of unlucky in their games, or unlucky in the fact that somebody a little better was always around?
For example, I consider Fischer to be a little unlucky in coming right before Karpov and Kasparov. With the dominance he showed, compared to the primus inter pares champions that had reigned since the war, Fischer could reasonably expect to be considered far and away the best player in history for decades to come. Instead, two players that were in the same ballpark followed right on his heels. That's bad luck.
|Nov-26-14|| ||visayanbraindoctor: <Petrosianic: <I believe were just unlucky.>|
Unlucky in the sense of unlucky in their games, or unlucky in the fact that somebody a little better was always around?>
A little bit of both in case of Keres. More of the latter for Kochnoi.
In the mid to late 1960s, Petrosian and Spassky were still a bit better than Korchnoi. By the time Korchnoi played better than them, Karpov had arrived on the scene.
For Keres, a little more luck in his games, and he could have been the Challenger instead of Smyslov, or Tal, or Petrosian. By that time, Botvinnik I believe was on a steady decline, notwithstanding intermittent strong performances. IMO Keres had a more than even chance of beating in a World Championship match the same Botvinnik that Smyslov, Tal, and Petrosian beat. At this time these three players were not significantly better than Keres. In particular, as you previously said, and I agree with it, Keres probably would have beaten Tal and I would give him even chances with Smyslov and Petrosian in match play.
Keres was unlucky also in the same general context as Korchnoi. There was always someone active whose peak rose above his during the 3 decades of his long high plateau. At the start of his career, I don't think he would have much chances against Alekhine, unless the latter treated him as over confidently as he did Euwe. I admire Keres obviously but I would have to say that AAA was better than him in their kind of attacking game genre. Although he occasionally came out ahead of AAA, the general rule was that if they played in the same tournament, AAA tied or placed ahead of Keres and either drew or beat him in their games.
During the late 1940s, Botvinnik was playing more strongly than Keres. IMO Botvinik would have beaten him too. However, although it might sound peculiar, I don't think that Botvinnik was significantly better than Keres in the 1930s and early 1940s. (The only tournament wherein Botvinnik placed significantly ahead of Keres was the 1941 Soviet tournament, and I have doubts about the motivation of the other players here, considering the tournament was organized at the behest of Botvinnik in order to legitimize his challenge to AAA. This was one tournament where external pressure on the other players may have been exerted. Perhaps in the 1948 WC Tournament as well but I believe this was more unlikely. In AVRO 1938 and in the 1940 Soviet Championship Keres placed ahead of Botvinnik, in spite of the shock that he must have felt at Estonia just getting annexed by the SU.) Then Botvinnik peaked in the late 1940s, and he was clearly above Keres. Afterward, in the 1950s, Botvinnik began his steady decline. I am almost sure Keres would have beaten him in a match in the late 1950s and early 60s.
Again unluckily, this was the era when Smyslov, Tal, and Petrosian attained their high peaks.
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