<%-- Page Title--%> Time Out <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 158 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

June 11, 2004

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Versatile masters Chess

Professionalism in chess reached a new level with the appearance of Bobby Fischer on the international chess scene. The financial reward for playing he game became a lot more attractive, as private sponsors began to take interest in the game.

The situation, however, was rather different in the distant past. Chess players usually were luminaries in other fields also. Dr. Emanuel Lasker, for example, was an internationally known mathematician. Professor Albert Einstein once said that he had great respect for Lasker as a mathematician. JR Capablanca was a diplomat and he never even thought of becoming a chess professional. To him, it was a rather demeaning proposition. He preferred to remain an amateur even after winning the world title. Dr. Alekhine devoted more time to chess than his contemporaries, but he, too, was a not a professional in the modern sense.

Rueben Fine, the American grandmaster who, many believe, could have become world champion, was a famous psychiatrist. He actually gave up chess for his profession, a very rare example of a player overcoming the strong, almost intoxicating, influence of chess.

Very different was Mikhail Botvinnik, the Russian world champion. He was an internationally known electrical engineer, besides being one of the greatest chess players of all times. Botvinnik did not support unbridled growth of professionalism in chess. He thought chess was a form of art which should not be spoiled by an 'ugly intrusion' of money. He was certainly thinking at a level much higher than the modern players can visualise.

Modern players, on the other hand, are full-time professionals whose only concern is to remain ahead of their adversaries in theoretical preparation. They don't want to be knocked out early in the 'mental boxing'. And very few of them pursue anything else in life. That could be one reason why we do not see players like Dr. S. Tartakower these days. He was a poet and linguist. Above all, Tartakower was known for his wit and humour. More about him in future.

Here is a typical Botvinnik game.

White-Mikhail Botvinnik
Black-Jose Raul Capablanca [E49]
AVRO Holland, 1938
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 d5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 c5 7.cxd5 exd5 8.Bd3 00 9.Ne2 b6 10.00 Ba6
11.Bxa6 Nxa6 12.Bb2? Qd7 13.a4 Rfe8? 14.Qd3 c4?. 15.Qc2 Nb8 16.Rae1 Nc6 17.Ng3 Na5 18.f3 Nb3 19.e4 Qxa4 20.e5 Nd7 21.Qf2 g6 22.f4 f5 23.exf6 Nxf6 24.f5 24...Rxe1 25.Rxe1 Re8 26.Re6! Rxe6 27.fxe6 Kg7 28.Qf4 Qe8 29.Qe5 Qe7 30.Ba3!! Qxa3 31.Nh5+! gxh5 32.Qg5+ Kf8 33.Qxf6+ Kg8 34.e7 Qc1+ 35.Kf2 Qc2+ 36.Kg3 Qd3+ 37.Kh4 Qe4+ 38.Kxh5 Qe2+ 39.Kh4 Qe4+ 40.g4 Qe1+ 41.Kh5 1-0


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