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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Real as a Pro Wrestling Match

Not real!
     The 31st Hastings Christmas Chess Festival was held at the end of the year 1955. Ten GMs and masters were invited to participate in the premier event: GMs Viktor Korchnoi and Mark Taimanov from the Soviet Union, West German champion Klaus Darga, Spanish champion Jesus Diez del Corral, Yugoslav GM Borislav Ivkov, Icelandic master Fridrik Olafsson, Swiss master Raphael Persitz, British correspondence champion John Fuller, and previous Hastings winners Harry Golombek and Jonathan Penrose. 
     Olafsson gained international recognition by tying Korchnoi for first place in the final. Both players finished undefeated. There were only three prizes: 60, 40 and 20 pounds. In 1955 US dollars this converts to $150, $96 and $48. That is the equivalent of $1,356, $870 and $435 today. 

1-2) Korchnoi and Olafsson 7.0 
3) Ivkov 6.5 
4) Taimanov 6.0 
5) Darga 4.5 
6-7) Fuller and Persitz 3.5 
8) Diez del Corral 3.0 
9) Penrose 2.5 
10) Golombek 1.5 

     In his book, Chess Is My Life, Korchnoi wrote that when he and Taimanov left for the tournament they were accompanied by a "supervisor", Lev Zaitsev, a KGB colonel whose main function was to keep an eye on them.  Zaitsev was later to be come a diplomat in Washington, D.C. and played in many US tournaments, achieving the rank of Master.  Previously he had been assigned to the Soviet embassy in Ottowa. 
     Korchnoi played well and first place was decided in his game with Olafsson which was drawn. Korchnoi wrote that in their individual game, which was drawn, that Taimanov was rather afraid of him because Korchnoi was playing white.  Korchnoi claims that Taimanov persuaded him to compose the game. In his book Chess Encounters, Taimanov wrote about how brilliantly they both had played, but the whole game was faked. Let's take a look at this fake game. 
     Analyzing with Stockfish and Komodo leads one to believe that not only was the game fake, but Taimanov's claim that both players played brilliantly was fake, too. Before engines allowed all of us to be armchair GMs they could get away with such claims. Who could challenge them in those days? 

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