Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Greatest

Speculating about what might have been, and comparing chess and chessplayers of different eras is a fun diversion within the chess world, as it is in many other games and sports. Here are some of my humble opinions. I would like to hear from readers, especially where they think I'm full of it...

Of course, the best players of today are the best players of all time--they're 'standing on the shoulders of giants,' after all. Kasparov (when he comes back?), Anand, Topalov and the other greats of today have studied and absorbed everything that came before, and used the latest discoveries in openings, training methods and psychology to improve. A more interesting comparison is how the greats of all eras stack up to the rivals of their day, and their contibutions to chess outside of just winning. Finally, today's stars still have many achievements (and disappointments) ahead--it's much easier to be sure about those players whose careers are finished. Some opinions:

The Geniuses (the 'Mozarts of chess'): Morphy, Capablanca, Tal, Fischer, Kasparov

Longest in the top group: Lasker 1894-1936

Most dominant for a period: Alekhine 1927-34, Tal 1957-60, Fischer 1967-72, Karpov 1977-82, Kasparov 1989-1995.

Greatest Overall Career: Euwe. World Champion, winner of major tournaments, author of many important books and FIDE President.

I'm ready for differing opinions. Let the discussion begin!

(And check out Chessmetrics for stats to back up your arguments).


Eric Shoemaker said...

Hi Robert, you're right. The extra piece should tell. I felt that Mann was too slow in 'improving his position.' For instance, if he saw nothing else available that was forcing, he should play moves like: b3, Qe2, Re1 (taking the only open file), break in on e7 with the Queen and then Fischer would have a hard time drawing this game. A Rook on the Seventh would have done great damage or reduced Black's Rook to utter pacivity. Eric

Eric Shoemaker said...

Hi Robert, in your game, you displayed poor economics. By that, I mean you used way too much power to protect a pawn that meant nothing (the one on h6). Your Rook on h3 hated the commander's guts. Trust me on this. Here's a better plan and one that might have won the game for you: Let the pawn on h6 fall, then move the over to h3 and now you have a pin! Let's say you don't have a pin: And Reyes has to play a move like ...h5 to close the file, you then can put a light squared Bishop on the b1-h7 diagonal and with a Rook on h3 be threatening to take the pawn on h5 anyway! These are just some possibilities. You had the greater chances to win that game, but you had to part with that pawn on h6 for them to show up in the position. Reyes was really passive that game, he should have paid for it. All I can say is this, he was really lucky you cared so much for that weakling on h6. Economically speaking, you guarded that pawn with a Rook, a Queen, and a Bishop! And that pawn was Reyes' greatest friend in the position, for had it not been there, half your army is pointing at Reyes' King!!! That's got to be worth a pawn! Good luck this Thursday and remember one of my beliefs: The next opponent always pays for your loss that happened prior! See you Thursday. Eric