20 October 2007

Soviet Players

As I mentioned in my post on The Soviet School, I would like to concentrate more on the players than on the events, which have been well covered elsewhere. I decided that a good place to start was by identifying the most important players.

Analyzing my PGN file on the 58 Soviet Championships, with results mainly from the finals, I came up with the names of 304 different players who have competed in at least one event. While I'm not certain that this is complete or error free, it's a good start. It at least gives me several hundred names that I don't have to retype.

I compared this list with the names referenced in Kotov and Yudovich's book. The bulk of the book, called Part Two, has chapters on grandmasters (with sections of varying length on 19 players: Botvinnik, Smyslov, etc.), prominent masters (24 players: Alatortsev, Aronin, etc.), and women players (8 players: Bykova, Rubtsova, etc.).

Part One is an introduction to the Soviet School. It has full chapters on Chigorin and Alekhine, along with sections on other prominent masters -- Petrov, Grigoriev, and Ryumin to name a few -- who were deceased when the book was written in 1958. I counted 17 players, and added Bogolyubov, who is mentioned only in passing. He had not yet been 'rehabilitated' at the time of writing, but is nevertheless an important player who participated in two early championships.

At the end of the book is an appendix with the same 19 grandmasters and a fuller list of 110 masters, many of them unknown to me previously. The masters repeat the names of the 32 men and women mentioned earlier in the book, although one appears to have been misidentified in the appendix ('Sokolovsky' instead of 'Sokolsky'). Merging these names with those from the Soviet Championships gave me a list of 359 players for further investigation.

The Soviet lists of grandmasters and masters are *not* the same as those based on the FIDE titles. I wasn't able to pin down the exact criteria for awarding titles, which will have to wait for another day.

Women players, as usual, present special challenges. I don't have a good reference for Soviet Women's Championships and I'm not certain that one exists. I'll see what I can do as the project evolves.

Next step: Gather basic biographical data from various sources.

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