20 January 2008

Convergence of Two Themes

Weekend post on Soviet players + Fischer's death = 'Russians Versus Fischer' by Plisetsky and Voronkov. • Plisetsky is the same writer who assisted Kasparov on the Predecessors series. If you are familiar with all of the standard Fischer material and stories, the Russians/Fischer book is a good source of new information. Here is an excerpt (p.355).


(Korchnoi:) 'In February and March 1975, on the pretext of intensive preparations for the match between Karpov and Fischer, the leading Soviet grandmasters were asked to submit in writing their assessment of Fischer's chess style and power plus, for the sake of comparison, a similar assessment of Karpov.'

(Polugaevsky:) 'Analysis of Fischer's Chess Strengths (mainly on the benefit of the Spassky vs. Fischer match)

'Prior to his match with Spassky, Fischer's play revealed the following strong points:

  1. a profound understanding of openings;
  2. a solid game strategy;
  3. a good technique in exploiting advantages and efficient use of good positions;
  4. a commitment to the original game plan;
  5. superb technique, especially in the endgame; and
  6. a large arsenal of technical and strategid devices.

'At the same time certain drawbacks were also noted in his play;

  1. a straightforward and sometimes obstinate choice of openings;
  2. insufficiently precise play in unfamiliar positions;
  3. a lack of dynamism in his play, poor adaptation to twists and turns in the course of a game;
  4. a lack of flexibility in implementing his plans (the motto of his play is usually "onward, onward!"); and
  5. mistakes in the analysis of adjourned positions.

'What has the Spassky vs. Fischer match shown? [...]'.

This last section was broken into Openings, Middle Game, Endgame, Analysis of adjourned games, Physical fitness and sportsmanship, with concrete observations based on examples from specific games. Some people take chess very seriously.


Robert Pearson said...

Russians v. Fischer is a great book--I'm interested to see that the Soviets attributed certain weaknesses to Fischer that (some of their authors) had always tried to insist were weaknesses of the "Capitalist system" compared to the glories of Soviet man and the "Soviet School of Chess." They always claimed Soviet chess was "dynamic" and eschewed "dogmatism" as did the Marxist state, and that Fischer was a grasper of pawns like the capitalists were graspers of pennies.

There may be some truth to all of this, but I'm left with the impression that the grandmasters who submitted this material were to some extent telling the authorities what they wanted to hear, which ironically was always a weakness of the Soviet system.

Mark Weeks said...

Wahrheit - All very good points. Another weakness was that Soviet Socialism bred a certain laziness in chess players who were favored by the system. Fischer, on the other hand, fought hard every game: no grandmaster draws for him. - Mark