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Monday, December 3, 2012

Miniature by Walter Browne

      I came across this miniature the other day and was just as intrigued by it as I was when I first saw it.
Miquel Quinteros

      Browne’s opponent, Miquel Quinteros (December 28, 1947 in Buenos Aires) is an Argentine GM who won the championship of Argentina at the age of 18 and in 1969 took eighth place at the Mar del Plata Zonal. In 1972, he tied for second/third place at the São Paulo Zonal which earned him a place at the Interzonal in Leningrad the following year where he finished 11th-12th. In 1975 he also qualified for the Manila Zonal in 1976 where he only managed 14th. Quinteros had several high place finishes in other events though and played six times on the Argentine Olympic team. In 1987, he was barred from playing in FIDE events for three years because he played in South Africa, a FIDE-sanctioned country. Quinteros was the first GM to visit South Africa since 1981 and he gave simultaneous exhibitions several cities.
      In 1988 the FIDE Congress was in Thessaloniki where they conducted their grimy political business. You know, the show trials, kangaroo courts, bribes, back room deals etc. The big question was, would Quinteros, who by the way was an old friend of Bobby Fischer and who had been one of the most active players in the world, actually be stripped of the grandmaster title and banned from playing chess for the rest of his life?
      Sidebar: Other burning questions were would World Champion Kasparov be disciplined or censured for his public utterance that "FIDE is like the Mafia" and would the proposed "Code of Ethics" be passed. This Code of Ethics, which seems like an oxymoron when speaking of FIDE, provided that a player could be suspended from playing chess for a period up to four years for any of a wide variety of reasons, including "any violation of the laws of chess", such as an illegal move. Can you believe that last one? One should not be surprised that when it was all over none of these things passed.
      Florencio Campomanes, the man everyone hated, proved that whatever people thought of him he was a master politician when things began to turn ugly. There was a hot debate on an African proposal. Actually, the Africans were acting as lackeys for the American representative Jerry Bibuld who proposed that Quinteros be both banned for life from playing chess and stripped of the grandmaster title. A couple of guys from Africa, Dr. Ebigwei of Nigeria and De Silva of Angola, both were in favor of the lifetime ban on Quinteros plus a one year suspension on GM Karl Robatsch of Austria, but thanks to the rep from Monaco who argued strongly against the ban calling the entire proceeding against Quinteros a "kangaroo court" conducted by persons who were not lawyers, with no right by the accused to appear in his own defense, and based upon an alleged violation of a proposed FIDE statute was just plain wrong.
      Campomanes suggested that the matter be postponed until the 1989 General Assembly meeting but that met with strong protests from the Africans so Campomanes called a brief recess to be followed by a special session to further debate the issue. Apparently nobody was willing to sacrifice their afternoon just to ban Quinteros from playing chess for the rest of his life and Robatsch for a year so there was no further discussion of the matter.
      The whole flap was a result of resolution which said that any internationally titled person who played or participated in any chess competition in South Africa could be banned from chess for life. Quinteros’ crime was that he again went to South Africa after having been suspended from FIDE competition for three years by the 1987 FIDE General Assembly. Quinteros received 125,000 Rand for his second appearance which he said was more than he got from a whole year of playing chess so he went anyway. This would have amounted to about $35,000 in today’s buying power; it was a princely sum in those days. Robatsch received a similar amount.
      If you have ever wondered just how good a GM is, even a garden variety GM like Quinteros, I once saw him playing time handicap games at $20 a pop against a local master. The master had 5 minutes on his clock while Quinteros had only one. In the 3-4 games I watched the master lost all of them.
      Oh, yeah…I almost forgot. Here’s the game.

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