By Lubomir Kavalek
Special to The Washington Post
Monday, June 22, 2009

The German chess composer Richard Steinweg (1860-1943) was a member of the Berlin Schachgesellschaft, the oldest chess club in Berlin, for more than half a century. In 1893, he created a chess problem (White: Ke5,Qb1,Bh7,Ne7; Black: Kh8,P:e6,g7) with white mating in two moves. (Solution next week).

Wisdom of the Champions

It is always fascinating to read what the world champions have to say about their clashes with other strong players and about chess in general. Last year, Russell Enterprises published two classic tournament books, using figurine algebraic notation. In “St. Petersburg 1909” the world champion Emanuel Lasker comments on all the games of the event, in which he shared first place with Akiba Rubinstein. Alexander Alekhine’s “New York 1924” has been hailed as one of the best tournament books. It was another triumph for Lasker, in which he finished ahead of Jose Raul Capablanca and Alekhine. The book is valuable for its deep verbal annotations with variations left to a minimum. There is no attempt to improve on the analysis in the two books, presenting them as they were written. In his monumental five-volume work “My Great Predecessors,” Garry Kasparov revisited the lives of the world champions and their contemporaries, using computers to analyze their games.

New In Chess recently published Mikhail Botvinnik’s work “Botvinnik-Smyslov, Three World Chess Championship matches: 1954, 1957, 1958.” It is not only a great historical document, presenting 69 deeply annotated games between two giants, but it also reveals the secret notes Botvinnik made in preparation for the matches played in 1957 and 1958. The contest in 1954 ended with a 12-12 tie, but at one point, with eight consecutive decisive games, it resembled a slugfest. Smyslov won the world title in 1957, defeating Botvinnik 12½-9½. The former world champion Max Euwe was impressed: “Smyslov plays moves that everybody plays. The only difference being: he wins with them.” The 1958 rematch went to Botvinnik. The patriarch of Soviet chess won 12½-10½. Smyslov later explained it this way: “I treated the match lightly, and I am also not one of those players such as Fischer or Kasparov who pursue their goals in chess fanatically.”

The King’s Indian Struggle

I began playing chess a few months after Botvinnik and Smyslov finished the first match in Moscow in 1954. They influenced my generation and we tried to imitate them. As black, we played the French defense and also the King’s Indian, a defense Smyslov specifically prepared for the match. His incredible novelty in the 14th game has withstood the test of time. After 1954 Smyslov abandoned the King’s Indian for several decades. Here is the memorable game.

Here is the full article and analysis.

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