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Thursday, July 6, 2017

An Interview With Reuben Fine

     Reuben Fine (1914-1993) was an interesting fellow. He grew up in the East Bronx during the Depression and his father deserted the family when Reuben was two years old.  Raised by his mother, his early life was marked by great poverty which he overcame and went on to have two distinguished careers; one as a psychoanalyst and the other as a chess player. 
     Fine was a formidable player with a solid and sound style that had been compared to Maroczy, Euwe or Karpov. Arnold Denker even went so far as to compare Fine's play to that of Fischer.  Fine's play was rarely flashy and he was always prepared to make a passive, unspectacular move just to bide his time. He was always confident that an opportunity to gain the advantage would inevitably arise because he always thought he was the better player. 
     In his notes to one game Fine described his approach: My chief objective was always precision, wherever that would take me. When he needed to win, he didn’t take risks in order to avoid the draw and seek critical positions. Instead he simply intensified the accuracy of his positional play – and scored win after win with surprising persistence. 
     Fine’s style of play won't appeal very much to most players because his games often appear to be dry. But, in reality they often contain many subtle and fine points that make them a model for positional play. And, it was his positional understanding and technical ability that accounted for many of his victories. Fine was an all-around player as demonstrated by the many books he wrote on all aspects of the game: openings, the middlegame and endings. 
     His Basic Chess Endings is, even now, probably the best single-volume work on the endgame in the English language. Considering the fact that Fine put the original book together in about six months in the pre-computer age, it was a remarkable achievement. I would like to see a modern day Grandmaster accomplish the same feat without a computer to store, catalog and analyze the material! Obviously, over the years errors have been discovered, but even the task of revising the book, which endgame expert GM Pal Benko has done, has not succeeded in correcting all the known errors...that's how monumental the task is and it shows how great a player Fine was that he was even able to accomplish what he did.

Youtube has an interesting rare Fine interview for television HERE.

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