09 April 2008

Fischer, Keres, Evans, Alekhine, Winter, and Plisetsky

In his introduction ('Meat and potatos') to Fischer - Keres, Zurich 1959, Larry Evans gave us two interesting points for further investigation. The first is a quote:

Alekhine said, in his prime, that to wrest a point from him it was necessary to win the same game three times: once at the beginning, once in the middle, once at the end. No less a tribute may be paid to Keres.

Having a hazy memory that it was Bogoljubow who said that, I set off on a web search. Chessbase.com had a recent piece by Edward Winter, Unsolved Chess Mysteries (26), where he criticized Evans for the quote, and attributed it to Tartakower.

Unattributed quotes are a recurring object of Winter's wrath and Evans is one of his favorite whipping boys. When, in his introduction to the Chessbase piece, he says, 'Our recommendation is to dispense with any publication or website which offers "chess quotes" without indicating where and when the statements in question were purportedly made', does he mean that we should dispense with '60 Memorable Games' because of a few dubious quotes? Fischer seems not to have attached much importance to this. Given the choice between a few unattributed quotes with some didactic value -or- a narrow-minded adherence to scholarship, most players would dispense with the scholarship.

The second point by Evans is an observation:

And it is likely that as a result of this victory Fischer came to be regarded as a serious contender by the leading Soviet Grandmasters -- this was the first time he had defeated one.

The thought is repeated almost verbatim in 'Russians vs. Fischer' by Plisetsky and Voronkov: 'Fischer's first victory over one of the Soviet giants! It was, possibly, after this victory that the American began to be regarded as a serious rival of the Soviet chessplayers.'

Plisetsky was Kasparov's assistant in the making of the Predecessors series. One of the faults of the series is an over-reliance on material from other sources, often unattributed. Winter has also criticized Kasparov for this, a serious failing in a book purporting to be a history. Also worth noting is that 'Russians vs. Fischer' lacks a bibliography, another fault of the first three Predecessors books. The Fischer volume was the first to include one.

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