July 10, 2012

Soviet Chess School Part 2

In the previous edition we discussed how the Soviet chess school reached the epitome of success! What led to the downfall of the Soviet Chess School? (Downfall in terms of high standards they set for themselves). Apart from Fischer no one could match the mighty strength of the Russians/Soviets! But Fischer was also quite Russian type! He studied Russian so that he could get access to the vast amount of books written in Russian Language (Previously all the chess books where written in Russian). More about Soviet Chess School.

Soviet Chess School Part 2

By Prasanna Rao

Soviet Union was seeing a unprecedented rise in chess. They were untouchable, unmatchable and a class apart. They had Three Ks too (Karpov, Kasparov and Kramnik) who dominated the world.

From left Garry Kasparov,Vladimir Kramnik and Anatoly Karpov

But breakdown of Soviet Union happened in December 1991. Things rapidly changed. Breakup of USSR broke the government patronage to chess as each small state was trying to establish and regroup themselves so chess support suffered. The Soviet people were dispersed to all the countries, the ideas were exchanged plus the evolution of the general world. Armenia ,Ukraine and even America got to understand the ethics and training methods. The amount of money spent on the chess suffered a lot. The major power (Russia) came to the forefront. Russia was the only country that remained unscathed after the breakdown (Chess support suffered but economically they were the most stable compared to other countries). But things were never the same. Due to the disintegration the other minor countries suffered economical crisis and were unable to support chess. People looking for opportunities went to other countries for money by coaching youngsters or playing tournaments outside. Ideas floated around and the Asians started making amends in chess. The development of Asian chess countries happened during this time. Still the Russians were able to handle this storm and stood to their ground.

But ALAS! The NEXT big thing happened. INTERNET. This actually changed the course of history. Now the books were translated,

Russian books

Chess Informator

people could understand the concept of the Soviet School. Buried secrets of the Russian fraternity was revealed. In chess ECO and Informator mainly was the key change that opened English speaking players door to top of chess,One another big leveling factor of the Russian advantage was the TWIC(The Week in Chess) a online free database for download with the chess games played in the previous week which enabled players to access millions of games and to keep them updated every week,the other factor was the reluctance of the Russians to accept the evolution and engines. They did not realise the potential changing face of Engines in the chess world. (Other than Kasparov).To summarize it, a combination of factors that happened simultaneously (Evolution of Chess, Breakdown of the Soviet Union and development of other countries) led to the downfall of the Soviet Chess School.

Where does the Chess World Stand Right Now?

Carlsen playing with white pieces against Caruana who is having black pieces

With the arrival of Carlsen, Caruana things have taken a dramatic turn.

People have started to become GM's at the age of 12-13. Average of chess players becoming GM has come down to teens. Engines have most of the say, these days. Still old-fashioned Chess is visible. (Reference the Carlsen Ending which had resemblance with Capablanca ending ) Development of Engines has taken the preparation to the next level. (Botvinnik had predicted this during his regime and invested lot of money in research for development of engines).

M.Botvinnik founder of Soviet Chess School

Asia has started to become a powerhouse. Chinese and Indians are leading the pack in Asia. In India Tamil Nadu and Gujarat have introduced chess in the school curriculum recently. Gujarat was the first state to introduce chess in the schools as part of the intellectual development programme.

Guinness world record was created in Gujarat when 20,484 players played chess on December 24,2010

Among Non Asian Countries Turkey has invested huge amounts of money and have introduced chess in schools.

To sum it up in chess it has taken two David’s (Asia and Other Soviet Union Countries) to defeat one Goliath (Russia.) Even though the Soviet Chess School is no more dominant the impact of it will be seen in years and years to come by. Who will dominate the World? Asia,Europe or will Russia regain their supremacy? Only time will tell....