KindredSpirit’s Kaleidoscope: Individual Freedoms versus State Socialism

During the development of the Soviet Chess Machine (that is to say the system was set up to recognize youthful talent ala the young Pioneers) where coaches and instruction advanced those having the talent for chess play and disposition to its aesthetic appeal engendered the fiery drive to achieve mastery of a varied intellect. It created a host of aspiring talents having individual styles that covered the spectrum of opening, middlegame and endgame diversity for ideas, strategy and tactic motifs.

The Soviet system was superior to how the West took chess study in that it had in place the early recognition for potential talent and was willing to invest in building a cadre of talent not possible or seen as worthy in Western societies. Thus, when the USSR joined the family of chess nations (FIDE) it did so with a huge national membership and the many literary contributions that began to emerge gave it power to give sway over many issues; so enter politics. With Dr. Max Euwe’s elevation to the FIDE Presidency and his personal socialist views, the USSR simply dominated the chess political scene although he tried to soften the dictatorial aspect of Soviet propaganda and in aggressive influential matters.

A narrow following of interest in that of composition that encompass studies and problems of various sorts. The name of GM Pal Benko stands out among the American chess audience through his thorough biography and articles in Chess Life. His wonderful problems and endgame studies have enriched all who absorb his talented brush strokes for entertaining and educating the chess public.

There was, however, another such genius talent born in 1900 by the name of Alexander Iosifovitch Herbstman. His expertise in compositions for both studies as well as problems, trod virgin soil to make substantial contributions to this art form. He was an avid supporter and propagandist for the Soviet School of Chess that embraced his own concept of realism. Later on he turned his attention more to romantiscism and this field of endeavor gave him even greater freedom in composition.  His literary works include his first in 1925, has over 300 compositions to his credit where he won numerous prizes. Perhaps his most famous books are The Chess Study of the USSR, 1934, The Modern Chess Study 1937, and Selected Chess Studies, 1964.

A distinctive feature of his themes is often the use of a synthesis of two ideas in both White and Black  play.

One of the evils of technology advances in chess lies in the loss of individual spirit and enterprise.  Today individual analysis of published games and even preparation for tournaments depend not on individual ideas so much as on computer savvy. Such dependence can have the ill effects of lost enthusiasm. Their use in correspondence play has caused many to drop out of that game.  Young children who play games of the internet no doubt will suffer. Lost is the “getting outside to play with friends” if they become too glued to the tube or internet use. That is why I stress getting plenty of sleep, rest, exercise and outdoor sport activity to supplement study habits and practice of chessplay.

Adios for now!

One Response to “KindredSpirit’s Kaleidoscope: Individual Freedoms versus State Socialism”

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