19 July 2009

Characteristics of the Soviet School

After the post on Alekhine Leaves Russia, Chess for All Ages leaves Alekhine. Had he been a less successful player, would he have been considered a prototype of the Soviet school, sandwiched in the historical continuum between Chigorin and Botvinnik? Consider Bogoljubov.

What indeed was the 'Soviet School'? Here is the opinion of former World Champion Max Euwe.

First priority with the Russians is the utilization of one's resources to the utmost; hence the following characteristics:
  • Struggle for the initiative.
  • Fighting spirit; no use for the formal draw.
  • Active defense, always on the lookout for a counter-thrust. It is remarkable how many fighting games are won by Black in Russia.
  • Careful study of the openings, especially combinative offshoots of disputed variations.
  • No superficial judgements on a position based on the measuring-rod of material. Which pieces are present matters less than what they can achieve.

From Euwe's The Development of Chess Style, p.139, Ch.8 'The Russian School: 1945 to the Present Day'.

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