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Should We Forget The Classics?: I don’t think so .

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Dr. Siegbert Tarrasch ( 1862 – 1934)

“History cannot be a mere justification. But it can be an excellent explanation. We all learn from our predecessors and this knowledge helps some people to innovate , so making all of us to keep on advancing and progressing.” Questchess.


(You will find two new 3-movers for you to solve at the end of this post. Good luck!)


In 1992, the Dutch GM Loek Van Wely, in an interview published by “New in Chess” , stated : “I have practically no examples from the past. A player like Fischer, that was before my generation” , acknowledging he did not care for his predecessors’ games, history, and so on.

Is it necessary for a chessplayer to study the classics? The answwer is :”No”. A super-pragmatist would add that to achieve success in Chess you only need to play very well and defeat your opponents (instead of losing to them). You study openings,middlegame plans and endgame technique, and it doesn’t matter if Alekhine, Tarrasch, or Steinitz did “this” or “that” in their games. You are playing “your” own games. Not “theirs”.  That’s all right though I agree to differ. I even can accept that one can live in this world without knowing anything about literature, history, philosophy, etc. However, everybody understands what the terms “culture”, cultivated man/woman”, “expert”, “learned” etc. mean…

Unlike Mr. Van Welik, I am not a professional chessplayer, only a correspondence chess one. I would have liked to be a strong -top- professional GM, but  fate decided otherwise.  I think that Chess has developed itself through a process of evolution (not revolution). The history of  the Chess ideas is the history of the men who devoted their lives to play, write about and study Chess. The strategy we study is the labour of  Steinitz + Tarrasch + Nimzowitsch + the Soviet School + some individuals and knowing that history you will be better armed to understand the present essence of the game. You learn combinations because you can study the different themes in the games of Anderssen, Morphy, Alekhine and many others. You learn strategy in the games of leading positional chessplayers, you learn endgames by studying the great examples produced by Capablanca, Botvinnik, Karpov, Rubinstein, etc.

I must confess I like reading about the history of Chess. And I admire people like Mr. E. Winter, who has devoted himself to this task. He has found that many aparently “novelties” in modern games, were already played in the 19th century… Simply, nobody cares about Schlechter, Janowsky, Burn, Zuckertort, Gunsberg, Pillsbury, Marshall, Steinitz, Neumann, Rosenthal, Paulsen, Blackburne…

Yet nearly all the great modern chesslayers, studied and were influenced by their predecessors :

Karpov by Capablanca and Rubinstein.

Spassky by Alekhine.

Botvinnik by Chigorin , Alekhine and Capablanca.

Fischer by Morphy, Capablanca and Steinitz.

Petrosian by Nimzowitsch.

Kasparov by Alekhine.

Korchnoi by Lasker.

And so on.

All this is written in their biographies. (People very close to Fischer said he knew everything about 19th century players and their games , for instance.)

We all are free to choose the way we want to progress in Chess. In my case, I prefer study the games played by Steinitz, Nimzowistch , Alekhine or Fischer  than most of the games played today… This approach has showed me a lot of interesting facts because behind the chessplayer, there is always a man. Sometimes  with a personal tragedy…And this has helped me not only to understand Chess better, but to gain a deep insight into the human condition of those who devoted their lives to Chess even though it meant to live close to sheer poverty and die alone. Those tragedies could happen to us too.

W.: Breyer (0)

B.: Tarrasch (1)

Göteborg, 1920

1. d4 d5  2.e3 Nf6  3. Nf3 e6  4. Nbd2 Bd6  5. c4 b6  6. Qc2 Bb7  7. c5 bc5  8. dc5 Be7  9. b4 00  10. Bb2 a5  11. b5 c6  12. a4 Nbd7  13. Bd4 Re8  14. Rc1 Nf8  15. Qb2 Ng4  16. h3 Nh6  17. Nb3 f6  18. Qa3 e5  19. Bc3 Qc7  20. Bb2 Rec8  21. Qa2 Qd8  22. b6 Be7  23. Qb1 Qf8  24. Qc2 Nf7  25. h4 Nd8  26. g6 Ne6  27. Bh3 Nec5  28. Nc5: Nc5: 29. Ba2 Nd3  30. Qd3: Ba3:  31. Bc8: Rc8:  32. Ra1 Bb4  33. Nd2 e4  34. Qb3 c5  35. Kd1 e4  36. Qa2 Qd6  37. Ke2 Ba6  38. b7 Rb8  39. Kd1 Rb7: 40. f3 Kh8  41. fe4 de4  42. Kc1 Qg3:  43. Nf1 Qe1  44. Kc2 Qc3  45. Kd1 Qd3  46. Kc1 Rd7  and White resigned. A superb game worth a deep study.

W.:  Staunton (1)

B.: Horwitz  (0)

London 1851

1. c4 e6   2.Nc3 f5  3. g3 Nf6  4. Bg2 c6  5. d3 Na6  6. a3 Be7  7. e3 0-0  8. N1e2 Nc7  9. 0-0 d5  10. b3 Qe8   11. Bb2 Qf7  12. Rc1 Bd7  13. e4  fe4  14. de4 Rad8  15. e5 Nfe8  16. f4 dc4  17. bc4 Bc5  18. Kh1 Be3  19. Rb1 g6  20. Qb3 Bc8  21. Ne4 Bb6  22. Rbd1 Na6  23. Qc3 Rd1:  24. Rd1: Nc5  25. Nd6 Qc7  26. Qc2 Ng7  27. g4 Qe7  28. Bd4 Qc7  29.a4 Na6  30. c5 Ba5  31. Qb3 b6  32. Ne4 bc5  33. Nf6 Kh8  34. Qh3 Ne8  35. Ba1 Nf6  36. ef6 Kg8  37. Be5 Qb7  38. Be4 Qf7  39. Ng1 Bd8  40. g5 Bb7  41. Nf3 Re8   42. Bd6 Bf6  43. gf6 Qf6  44. Ng5  Qg7  45. Be5  Qe7  46. Bg6  and Black resigned.



Written by QChess

May 3, 2012 at 8:46 pm

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