Kindred’s Special: Exploring In My Golden Years The Magnetism Of Chess Greats

The endeavor to achieve a wealth of historic literary value for readers with timely informative data requires a lot of research and, in this respect, I look upon myself as being not only a devotee of chess but a servant to those who embrace the joy of playing chess. Only the internet makes it possible to bring chess to the masses. National federations exist with and for members exclusively and it remained for many years to find press only by dedicated reporters who cherished the game. What new theme can I add enrichment to the chess soul? And in that respect, it must be attractive and worthwhile for my readers to connect but mostly to provide a benefit for widening understanding of it’s complexities as held by some of the stalwarts whose fame has been immortalized.

The chess bug usually begins as a hobby with the desire to learn just another new game little realizing that it’s enchantment can be drug-like. In most cases the hero or heroes are subject to limitation of chess art and practice. Should there afterall be any worth in writing about masters of the game because, in two words, who cares?  I have read newspaper columns that report on chess in the schools with colorful pictures of kids deep in thought at the board in local or even regional tournaments organized by the US Chess Federation. Almost never are chess masters mentioned, and even if they are, who really understands the great effort these chess stars put into the game? Who even endeavors to put a human face on those engrossed in battle over the chessboard, or; what public discourse exists that would tend to make a chess master something more than a pawn on the board of life?

Many of the young skillful chessplayers of the past emerged out of poverty situations and endeavored to reach out in the local chess club or meeting place where they could play in money tournaments or for private stakes. For the best of these talented players, many students used chess professionalism as a staple of life often to just manage day to day living and for bread on the table. Wealth from tournaments drew scant rewards until modern times thanks to the efforts of Bobby Fischer who raised the bar for prize funds but also for playing conditions for the professional and amateur.

Two giants came forth, one of means, education, wealth, successful marriage and impeccable writing talent. Dr. Siegbert Tarrasch was indeed a product of the chess bug with well known connections among his peers and abode. Wilhelm Steinitz may have had a more colorful and impressive record in chess becoming the first official World Chess Champion but also came forth holding the same beliefs as Dr. Tarrasch. Both gentlemen played the board and ignored the fact that on the other side of the table sat someone with a brain and temperment for chess.  One would assume that their combined thinking dominated the cycle of learning and belief and how the chess public came to view chess. What is newsworthy is the reported interview with Steinitz in the British Chess Magazine of 1894 where he gave his opinions on the chess of Paul Morphy: “…Another remarkable gift was Morphy’s intuitive knowledge of human nature. I think he played the man rather than the board.”  Here is reported that the interviewer asked if this was not true of every chessplayer? Steinitz responded, “Not me!  Certainly not! I am fully and entirely concentrated on the board. I never even consider my opponent’s personality.  So far as I am concerned my opponent might as well be an abstraction or an automaton.”  In Tarrasch’s case, his personality and character often reflected in giving short shrift to moves, especially in openings such as Black’s Slav Defense (c6) since his own Tarrasch defense with pawn structure of e6, d5, c5 he considered best for Black.  Both Tarrasch and Steinitz had personalities that possessed great stubborness that proved both good and bad chess savvy.

Emmanuel Lasker’s emergence on the chess scene reflected a different human experience.  Lasker was a man of world travel, education and investigative writings. He had the ear of Albert Einstein who admired his philosophical discussions and theories on light.  His logic was such that he embraced the best of Steinitz and others but also showed a logic that embraced the spirit and fortitude of the human mind–in essence, he did play the game taking into account his adversary sitting across from him.  Such a mentally pyschological appraisal may have been the result of his life experiences.  Perhaps his longevity as World Champion has a clue to his greatness and success in chess. He was able to translate and apply the struggle in life with that of the stuggle on the chessboard.  The older and more experienced in dealing with all aspects of life and his thirst to ever discover and enrich those he already experienced may well have given his character traits a superior advantage over his opponent. He was willing to go into speculative but controlled play with a clear plan and this psychological approach has today been adopted by many of our current chess stars.  One can point to the aging Korchnoi and Larsen (recently deceased) who play with great skill having a style that seems to walk in muddy waters and borders on the brink of winning or losing at each turn.  But while his theories devoted to playing the man may have given the moderns food for thought, in reality there is still something special about the depth and awareness of chess struggle uniquely ‘Laskeronian’.

The modern chess duels are often built in preparation, especially for important games.  Top level chess often find teams of GMs, IMs, other specialists who perform a psychic profile of the opponent, and use of modern technology featuring games played by the opponent, opening analysis, tactical tests, chess problems, endgame studies.  Often both players are familiar with opening strategies that encompass many moves into the middle game.  The recipient of all this still has to play the game personally but has a storehouse of knowledge and background for each battle at the board.


15 Responses to “Kindred’s Special: Exploring In My Golden Years The Magnetism Of Chess Greats”

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  2. kindredspiritks Says:

    I appreciate your comment. In some small way I try to bring chess to the masses, and the readership, one-at-a-time, puts me in a class with others who experience life that led me to say: “The cherry fruit eaten leaves a lot of pits!”

  3. branchenbuch Says:

    Please, can you PM me and tell me few more thinks about this, I am really fan of your blog… 34

    • kindredspiritks Says:

      Glad to see you have a thinking cap on. My motive is to give the public a look at chess not normally expressed in quite the manner I do. A handful of columns deal with politics, poetry, etc. but almost always with the theme of chess as it relates to life and visa-versa. I may do a followup on this theme by covering more modern chess stars. To do so in this article probably would have exhausted most viewers. Sometimes you can say too much at a given time and mess up the message if not the messenger and those to whom the material is meant./Don.

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