Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Chess, Curaçao and Commies

The problem with communism is that it's an ideology that is always desperate to get ahead. Commies, therefore, always do desperate things. Like cheat. In chess tournaments. Now please, don't ask me if players, pros and juniors alike, caught cheating in dunnies are commies. That's for another day.

Curaçao 1962 was and is one of the most talked-about chess tournaments ever mainly for the wrong reasons. Weeks after the event, Bobby Fischer wrote an article for Sports Illustrated magazine (published on August 60, 1962) in which he bluntly accused his Russian opponents of colluding against him. In other words, they just flat out cheated.

But between 1959 and 1962 the Russian dominance of the Candidates' Tournament became much more open than it had been before. At Curacao it was flagrant. There was open collusion between the Russian players. They agreed ahead of time to draw the games they played against each other. Each time they drew they gave each other half a point. The tournament winner, Petrosian, got 5 points of his 17 total this way. They consulted during the games. If I was playing a Russian opponent, the other Russians watched my games, and commented on my moves in my hearing. Then they ridiculed my protests to officials. They worked as a team.

It is perhaps thanks largely to Fischer's renown that we often think of him as the biggest victim of this collusion. However, reading the paper, "Did the Soviets collude? A statistical analysis of championship chess 1940–1978", by Moul and Nye, tells us something different.

The bigger victim to this commie cheating was another American in yet another famous tournament. Sammy Reshevsky in Zurich 1953.

I am talking about all this because Bobby Ang has just revisited the whole issue in his latest column for RP's Business World magazine. You can still read that article here.

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