Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Instead of doing several brief, disconnected posts here are my latest thoughts in one neat package:

I was pleased that several readers commented with their disagreements regarding my list of the 10 greatest chess players of all time. Some follow-up comments from me--the rankings are subjective, of course, so it's my personal idiosyncratic list; but for background, R. Fischer is at #4 only because of the brevity of his international career. If he had played on at that level for another 10-15 years he would be neck-and-neck with Kasparov for #1. One of the great difficulties of comparing players of different eras is that they play so many more tournaments with just top players these days, compared to less frequent "mixed" tournaments prior to the 1980s. Steinitz and Lasker went through long stretches with no tournament play at all. Morphy was unique in both the brilliance and brevity of his career, so it is very difficult to compare him with others. Kramnik's defeat of Kasparov in a match was a big reason he made it, and Anand has consistently performed at the very top for about 20 years, so that was my reasoning for making them #9 and 10. But all this is subject to enjoyable debate. It was difficult not to find a place for Smyslov, Korchnoi, Steinitz and Morphy, but there could only be 10 in the top 10, after all...

I had a nice bump in traffic when Mark Weeks over at chess.about.com listed me in his 2007 Chess Blog Awards and it was also picked up by Susan Polgar's Chess Blog. I'm very pleased that Mr. Weeks found 27 of my 2007 posts to be worthy of (any) attention. Thanks!

Mark also has a post at Chess for All Ages beginning a series comparing Fischer's (My 60 Memorable Games) and Kasparov's (My Great Predecessors IV) comments on 18 games from the former book. I look forward to seeing these, since differences of opinion make for the most interesting annotations.

I was also very pleasantly surprised when Francis W. Porretto published my game against Vern Young (my post here) on his excellent (and heavyweight) blog Eternity Road, which is dedicated to philosophy, politics, religion, the survival of Western Civilization and, occasionally, chess. Fran is an enthusiast (and mentor to Fetiche, [a game of hers is here]) and in general a Renaissance man, and I thank him for taking the time to publish and annotate the game.

Chessloser speculates that vampires are awesome at chess. I find his reasoning totally convincing.

Finally, obligatory chess-related photograph:

Make of it what you will and have a great night.


Anonymous said...

Are people really interested in putting Fischer higher than #4? He may be #1 or #2 in raw talent (with Capablanca), but certainly didn't parlay it into a #1 career.

Awesome getting listed on the Chess Blog Awards. You notice how many blogs in the same "ring" are listed?

Eternity Road is a wall of text that I will make the effort of reading on alternate full moons, or when I'm not too tired from work.

chessboozer said...

Congradulations on making the list and getting your game published by Francis Porretto. Looks like I may have been right. It appears from the Reno Chess Club results that you beat Hadi though the total scores dont balance. I am just wondering as I am out of the loop at the moment. Hope you are going to publish the game.

Wahrheit said...

@LEP--Fischer mania is the only possible explanation; he seems to turn some rational minds to jelly...he was one extraordinary player, that's certain.

Eternity Road is best read like eating an elephant, one bite at a time.

@chessboozer--Hadi had to postpone our game last week, I'm playing him on Sunday. Too bad as I was rarin' to go.

chessloser said...

super congratulations on the awards and having your games posted and everything. you deserve it all though, your writing and chess both speak to kings and pawns alike, intelligent enough for the smart guys, simple and direct enough for us dumb guys. i love that picture, that woman has the "go ahead, your move, whatever you do i will destroy you" look i've tried to cultivate and failed at...perhaps i need more lipstick...

Naisortep said...

Congratulations Robert. One last attempt to get Wilhelm added to your list. Lasker certainly went long periods without playing but Steinitz was active most of his career and often went out of his way to play the toughest challengers. He played virtually every year in a major tournament or match from 1882 until his passing in 1900. What normally keeps him off these lists is that his quality of play and talent are below the other contenders but you didnt specify that as a condition. The conditions you did specify are perfectly suited to Steinitz.