13 September 2009

Post-WWII Soviet Chess

Continuing with my post on D.J. Richards, 'Soviet Chess', Richards covered post-WWII Soviet chess in his third chapter.

III. The Golden Age of Soviet Chess
01 - The First Post-War Years, 1945 and 1946
02 - Chess in Eastern Europe, China, and Cuba
03 - Soviet Championships, 1947-51
04 - Triumph: The World Championship, 1946-51
05 - The Role of Chess in the Early Post-War Years
06 - The Organization of Soviet Chess in the Fifties
07 - Soviet Championships, 1952-60
08 - The World Championship, 1952-59 (Men's, Junior, Women's)
09 - International Encounters, 1952-59 (Matches, Team Tournaments, Individual Tournaments)
10 - 1960: the End of an Era
11 - The Organization of Soviet Chess in the Sixties
12 - Soviet Championships, 1961-63
13 - The World Championship, 1961-63
14 - The Challenge of Fischer
15 - Other International Encounters of the Early Sixties
16 - Chess and Soviet Cultural Diplomacy

Most of the section headings are self-explanatory. They include three sections each on the Soviet Championship and on the World Championship. Richards explained the title of section 10, 'End of an Era', as Botvinnik's defeat by Tal ('the break-through of the post-war generation of Soviet chess players') and 'the rising challenge of the U.S. to Soviet supremacy' (i.e. Fischer).

The most important post-WWII news was the budding Soviet involvement in international chess politics. In 1947, they joined FIDE (see my article Birth of the FIDE World Chess Championship), and, in 1952, participated in their first Olympiad (see Olimpbase.org's Soviet Union; Men's Olympiads). It was the beginning of Soviet domination of the international chess scene, a unique sporting phenomenon that would last until the breakup of the USSR in 1990.


I've come a long way on this subject since researching an introductory piece in 2005: Rise of the Soviet Chess Hegemony. I'm going to give it a rest now, but I have a feeling I'll come back to it again some day in the not so distant future. It's a fascinating subject.

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