Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Test of Time: Comparing the Relative Strength of Historic versus Leading Chess GM's of Today



















I once knew a Doctor Beck who was a best friend of a best friend. This same Doctor Beck was the one who introduced me to my guru, and for whom I helped take a mere $700 U.S. and turn it into $50,000 U.S. in a single transaction, buying Incyte Genomics at the bottom of the biotech decline in 1999 and selling at the top WEEKS latter in the NASDAQ apogee, the realization of SEVEN years of independent analysis by me. He went out and bought a used Mercedes Benz, taking me joyfully for a ride with his partner Janet. What does he do? He writes the last letter to Morgan Stanley to get me fired, so this is not wholely unlike Paul who betrays Jesus. What does this have to do with chess or the gravitas of Doctor Nunn or tactical or puzzle bent? Listen I will tell you.

I knew another Doctor, Doctor Clark, who’s house I lived with in North Carolina, after returning from Korea in 1982, and he was a real alcoholic—you know them. You cannot believe it till you’ve seen it: entire Glad bags filled with large whisky bottles in a slow suicide. He spoke four languages well, and was a PhD in philosophy and had taught for years, having read all of Pragmatist Charles Sanders Pierce’s Notebooks in their entirety for learning and pleasure. He used to get drunk and using his dentures for accent, could make perfect Spanish ‘R’s. He used to say that being an attaché to a General in France or Germany after World War II, that he knew all the words for ‘essence of mind in German’ but didn’t know ‘knife’, ‘fork’, or ‘spoon’.














Now this first so called ‘Doctor’ who earned his PhD in an online course on line, in his case the University of Phoenix On Line, used to always say, “this is Doctor Beck calling”, so as to get good service or make himself important. The second one, Foggle, used to do the same, calling restaurants in tiny country Southern Pines, to get a reservation, saying: “This is Doctor Clark”. You get the idea. The first hardly legitimate. The latter certainly so, but we find this same uncertainty of their own certainty of their own pedigree.

We have some major PhD’s in our circle, and they don’t use that BS that I know of. We have NSA operatives who are simple country folk, we have all kinds of amazing people, but the real PhD’s don’t brandish this crap. They have it. They own it. They are it.













And now Dr. Nunn. John Nunn Hardly needs my introduction. He was a ardent problem solver from youth, went to Oxford, studied mathematics, and was “once in the world's top ten, Nunn has twice won individual gold medals at Chess Olympiads. He gained the International Grandmaster title in 1978 and in the same year was awarded his doctorate in mathematics by University of Oxford for a thesis on finite H-spaces. In 1989 he finished sixth in the inaugural (and only) World Cup, a series of tournaments in which the top 25 players in the world competed. His best performance in the World Chess Championship came in 1987, when he lost a playoff match against Lajos Portisch for a place in the Candidates Tournament". He is no less than a cofounder of the cutting edge Gambit Publications from the U.K.

Nunn in the last three years “won the World Chess Solving Championship in Halkidiki, Greece, in September 2004 and also made his final GM norm in problem solving. He is the third person ever to gain both over-the-board and solving GM titles (the others being Jonathan Mestel and Ram Soffer).”

Now this guy is a real Doctor if you ask me! Without further ado, his marvelous comments taken directly from IM John Watson’s Book Review #83, from 03September2007 at chessCenter.com:

'You might find it unusual to write a column about chess history and biographical games collections and then include a book of puzzles, especially one written 8 years ago! As a set of problems, John Nunn's Chess Puzzle Book is a good one. Nunn takes his test positions from actual games, often between leading grandmasters. Be warned that it is also a very advanced book, in that the majority of exercises would be extremely difficult for the average player to solve. In fact, I think that the book is most helpful for strong players, say, 2000 and above, who want a real challenge. Even grandmasters might get a tough workout solving these positions, and they could well be part of a master's tournament preparation. For the record, I was impressed by the subtlety of some of these positions and showed a few of them on my Chess.FM Internet show.

But that has nothing to do with the reason that I've selected this book to talk about. Rather, I'd like to describe a fascinating and potentially controversial section that Nunn incorporated into this book, one that seems to have escaped notice in most book reviews: his historical comparison of older, pre-World War I players to modern ones. Nunn calls this section 'The Test of Time'. I'm going to essentially take Nunn's own words to give an abridged version of his goal, technique, and results. Thus you will read one of the least original reviews of all time, but learn about a fascinating endeavour. I feel that his is a brilliant analysis of this longstanding question, and easily the best solution ever offered.

First, Nunn discusses various methods for trying to make assessments of the relative strengths of the players. I'll quote a portion of this
:

"One of the great perennial questions in chess is: how do the great masters of the past compare with the leading players of today? Like all really interesting questions, it is very hard to answer. It is even possible to disagree on the ground rules for the comparison: for example, should you take into account the development of chess theory over the intervening time, and not mark down the old masters for their naive handling of many opening systems? There have, of course, been many attempts to tackle this question mathematically, using rating calculations. At one time such efforts depended on manual computation, but today it is possible to use computers to tackle much larger samples. The simplest approach is to take a very large database and pretend it is one huge tournament which is played over and over again. If you assign every player an initial rating of, say, 2000, then as the tournament is repeated the familiar names of today's leading players gradually float to the top. When the ratings have stabilized, you can then perform the purely cosmetic tidying-up of adding a constant to all the ratings to bring them into line with the current Elo system (because your initial guess of 2000 might have been wrong). Of course, this final step makes no real difference, because it doesn't affect the ranking positions in the list. If you do this with the well-known MegaBase database, you end up with a slightly surprising result: the modem players end up at the top, with the old-timers lagging well behind.














"At first this seems a reliable method, but after a little more thought doubts arise. First of all, there is the selection of games. It is easy to see how a bias in the original database might skew the final ratings. For example, databases tend to be far more complete and detailed in modem times than in historical times, so modem masters will have ratings based on a full record whereas the data for historical players may be patchy and based only on a few major events. In certain databases historical players are often represented by a fair proportion of non-tournament games from exhibitions, friendly matches, etc. These tend to be preserved far more often if the famous player wins than if he loses, skewing the ratings in favour of the older players..."

"Even if it were possible to assemble a complete selection of games, there would still be uncertainties. If, at some point, there were a general advance in chess strength, this method might fail to detect it (since a player's rating will be based largely on games against his contemporaries). Moreover, a purely mathematical system raises other questions. A player's career typically takes the form of a period of ascent, a plateau near the peak of his strength and then a gradual decline. If one omits all Capablanca's games after he became World Champion, then his rating shoots up, since games from the 'declining' period have been eliminated. This may affect Fischer, who retired while at his peak, and many modern players, who have not yet had their 'declining' period."

This is great stuff, if ultimately unrelated to Nunn's final solution to the problem. He next describes his goal and approach:

"My main interest is in assessing how much the overall level of chess has changed since the pre-First World War period. My method of comparison is not mathematical, but is based on an actual analysis of games. While this introduces an element of subjectivity into the process, it affords a direct comparison which is valid across any span of time.

"One could undoubtedly devote a great deal of time to this subject and produce an academic treatise, but this is a puzzle book and so my discussion will be more limited. I decided to take two tournaments, one from the historical past and one recent, and analyse all the games in the two tournaments looking for serious errors. Since I wanted a fairly large sample, I chose tournaments containing a considerable number of games. My historical tournament was Karlsbad 1911 (325 games). This event seemed to have the qualities I Was looking for: top players such as Alekhine, Nimzowitsch, Schlechter and Rubinstein, together with only moderately familiar names such as Perlis and Fahrni (I did not want to restrict my assessments to the very top) and a tournament book by a well-known player (Vidmar) to help me find errors.

The final scores from this event were:

Karlsbad 1911
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6
1 Teichmann,Richard * 1 1 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 0 1 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 1 1 1 18.0
2 Rubinstein,Akiba 0 * ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1 0 ½ 1 1 ½ 1 1 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 17.0
3 Schlechter,Carl 0 ½ * 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 0 1 ½ 1 1 1 1 1 0 ½ 1 1 1 ½ 1 1 1 17.0
4 Rotlewi,Georg A 0 ½ 1 * 1 1 0 0 1 ½ 0 1 1 0 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 1 16.0
5 Marshall,Frank James ½ 1 ½ 0 * ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 1 0 1 ½ 1 0 1 1 1 15.5
6 Nimzowitsch,Aaron 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ * ½ 0 0 0 ½ ½ 1 1 1 ½ ½ 1 1 1 ½ 1 1 1 1 1 15.5
7 Vidmar,Milan Sr ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ * 0 ½ 1 0 1 ½ 0 1 ½ 1 0 0 ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 1 1 15.0
8 Leonhardt,Paul Saladin ½ 0 0 1 ½ 1 1 * ½ 0 1 ½ ½ 0 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 0 1 0 1 1 1 0 13.5
9 Tartakower,Saviely 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ * 1 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 0 1 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 13.5
10 Duras,Oldrich 1 0 1 ½ 0 1 0 1 0 * 0 0 ½ 1 0 0 ½ 1 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 13.5
11 Alekhine,Alexander 0 0 0 1 ½ ½ 1 0 1 1 * 0 0 1 ½ 1 0 ½ 0 0 1 1 1 1 ½ 1 13.5
12 Spielmann,Rudolf 0 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 1 * 0 1 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 0 0 1 0 13.0
13 Perlis,Julius ½ ½ 0 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 * ½ 1 ½ 1 1 0 1 ½ 0 0 0 0 1 12.0
14 Cohn,Erich ½ 0 0 1 ½ 0 1 1 ½ 0 0 0 ½ * ½ ½ 1 0 1 1 0 0 ½ 1 1 0 11.5
15 Levenfish,Grigory ½ 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 ½ 1 ½ 0 0 ½ * 1 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 0 1 0 11.5
16 Suechting,Hugo 0 ½ 0 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 1 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 * 1 1 0 ½ 0 1 ½ 1 1 1 11.5
17 Burn,Amos 1 0 0 1 ½ ½ 0 0 1 ½ 1 ½ 0 0 0 0 * 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 0 0 11.0
18 Salwe,Georg ½ 0 1 0 0 0 1 ½ 0 0 ½ ½ 0 1 ½ 0 1 * 1 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ 11.0
19 Johner,Paul F ½ 0 ½ 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 ½ 1 ½ 0 * ½ 1 0 1 1 0 0 10.5
20 Rabinovich,Abram I ½ ½ 0 0 0 0 ½ 1 0 ½ 1 ½ 0 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ * ½ 1 ½ 0 1 1 10.5
21 Kostic,Boris 0 ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 0 1 ½ ½ 0 ½ * ½ 1 1 0 1 10.5
22 Dus Chotimirsky,Fedor I 0 ½ 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 ½ * 1 0 0 1 10.0
23 Alapin,Simon ½ 0 ½ 1 1 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 1 1 ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 0 * ½ ½ 0 8.5
24 Chajes,Oscar 0 0 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 ½ 0 1 0 1 ½ * 0 1 8.5
25 Fahrni,Hans 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 ½ ½ 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 1 1 ½ 1 * 0 8.5
26 Jaffe,Charles 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 ½ 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 * 8.5
The recent event was the 1993 Biel Interzonal (468 games according to MegaBase), with players ranging from Kramnik, Kamsky and Anand to Gluckman and Kalesis, As with Karlsbad 1911, a couple of the very top players were missing.

The leading final round 13 scores from Biel were:

01 Gelfand B GM BLR 2670 9.0 31690
02 Van der Sterren P GM HOL 2525 8.5 31545
03 Kamsky G GM USA 2645 8.5 31470
04 Khalifman A GM RUS 2645 8.5 31390
05 Adams M GM ENG 2630 8.5 31345
06 Yudasin L GM ISR 2605 8.5 31340
07 Salov V GM RUS 2685 8.5 31285
08 Lautier J GM FRA 2620 8.5 31280
09 Kramnik V GM RUS 2710 8.5 31240
10 Anand V GM IND 2725 8.0 31435
11 Epishin V GM RUS 2655 8.0 31305
12 Lputian S GM ARM 2565 8.0 31275
13 Shirov A GM LAT 2685 8.0 31195
14 Ivanchuk V GM UKR 2705 8.0 31125
15 Sokolov I GM BOS 2610 8.0 31030
16 Portisch L GM HUN 2585 7.5 31855
17 Bareev E GM RUS 2660 7.5 31580
18 Sveshnikov E GM RUS 2570 7.5 31515
19 Abramovic B GM FIDE 2460 7.5 31140
20 Polgar J GM HUN 2630 7.5 30850

72 players

Mark Crowther comments (Source for the table: http://www.mark-weeks.com/chess/9496fiix.htm) incidently it seems that the result in MegaBase 2007 of the game Dreev - Gurevich (2) is wrong, I believe it should be 0-1 (not 1-0 as given in ChessBase), presumably on time. I discovered this when trying to create a more detailed table for this article.

The method I chose to examine the games was a two-step process. I reasoned that a good way to eliminate differences resulting from 80 years' advance in chess theory was only to look for really serious errors - if you blunder a piece, it doesn't matter whether you understand Nimzowitsch's pawn-chain theories or not."

[Watson: Notice this important step. I'm always hearing (and reading) that "If the players of yesteryear could only catch up with opening theory, they'd be as good or better than today's players". The funny thing is that the many years (usually decades) of study that modern players put into opening theory should not only count towards their strength, but that study and practice contributes vastly to their understanding of the middlegame and even some endgames. The silly idea that you can just 'catch up' in opening theory ignores the vast undertaking that this would involve, especially to absorb the vast number of openings and opening variations necessary to a complete chess education. Nunn removes this factor from the equation, to the enormous detriment of the modern masters' strength assessment! Surely this will roughly equalise things? Let him continue: ]

"To analyse almost 800 games from scratch by hand would take years, so first I used the automatic analysis feature of Fritz 5 to look at the games without human intervention. It was set in 'blundercheck' mode, which fitted in with my objective of looking for serious errors. Then I examined 'by hand' all the points raised by Fritz to decide whether they were genuine blunders or products of Fritz's imagination.

"I had no particular preconceptions about what the results of this search would be. Like most contemporary grandmasters, I was familiar with all the standard textbook examples from the early part of the century, but I had never before undertaken a systematic examination of a large number of old games. I was quite surprised by the results. To summarize, the old players were much worse than I expected. The blunders thrown up by Fritz were so awful that I looked at a considerable number of complete games 'by hand', wondering if the Fritz results really reflected the general standard of play. They did. By comparison, the Fritz search on the 1993 Biel Interzonal revealed relatively little; many of the points raised had already been examined in the players' own notes in Informator and elsewhere. I had originally intended to have the Karlsbad and Biel positions side-by-side in this chapter, but the results were so lopsided that I decided to concentrate on Karlsbad here. Some of the more interesting Biel positions may be found scattered throughout the rest of the book.

"In order to be more specific about Karlsbad, take one player: Hugo Süchting (1874-1916). At Karlsbad he scored 11.5/13.5 or 'minus 2', as they say these days - a perfectly respectable score. Having played over all his games at Karlsbad I think that I can confidently state that his playing strength was not greater than Elo 2100 (BCF 187) - and that was on a good day and with a following wind. Here are a couple of examples of his play:"...

[Watson: You have to get the book to see these examples of Süchting's horrendous mistakes and misunderstandings. Nunn also has talks about more positions, and then includes a section of 30 Karlsbad "puzzles", representing all of the players. The positional mistakes by the top players are particularly telling.]

"How, then, did Süchting manage to score 11.5 points in such company? Well, he did have a couple of slices of luck - Duz- Khotimirsky overstepped the time limit while two pawns up in a completely winning rook ending and Alapin agreed a draw in a position where he could win a piece straight away. However, there were some games where Süchting might have hoped for more; he certainly had Levenfish on the ropes (see puzzle 184), and he agreed a draw in the following position against E.Cohn:" [Diagram follows] "It is hard to understand this decision, as with a clear extra pawn Black certainly has very good winning chances and could proceed without the slightest element of risk."...

"Returning then to the question as to how Süchting scored 11.5 points, the answer is simply that the other players were not much better. If we assume Süchting as 2100, then his score implies an average rating for the tournament of 2129 - it would not even be assigned a category today. Based on the above, readers will not be surprised when I say that my general impression of the play at Karlsbad was quite poor, but the main flaws did not show cup in the areas I expected..."

[Watson: Here Nunn shows that openings weren't a problem in this tournament for the older players (who specialised in a few systems). Then he points out the generous time-limits in Karlsbad. Having eliminated those factors, he gives three reasons for his the weak play of the Karlsbad group:]

"The first was a tendency to make serious oversights. It is quite clear that the Karlsbad players were far more prone to severe errors than contemporary players. Even the leading players made fairly frequent blunders. Rubinstein, for example, who was then at virtually the peak of his career (1912 was his best year) failed to win with a clear extra rook against Tartakower ... He also allowed a knight fork of king and rook in an ending against Kostic..."

"The second problem area was an inclination to adopt totally the wrong plan...[examples follow]..."

"The third main problem area was that of endgame play...[horrendous examples of elementary blown endgames follow]..."

[Watson: In the course of research for a book, I made a lengthy look at endgames from a comparable period and found similar butchery, including some terrible blunders by top players such Lasker. The endgame skills of the great masters - excepting Rubinstein - are much exaggerated in books, for the reasons that Nunn gives, i.e, the understandable selection of a very small set of games for reasons of instruction and beauty.]

Nunn goes on to discuss the treatment of games in older tournament books, comparing them with today's analytical approach. He addresses an obvious objection:

"Doubtless, some will respond by searching through contemporary tournaments and finding errors just as serious as those presented here. However, a couple of words of caution. Remember that all the examples given here were played in one tournament. Of course, it is easy to present a player as an idiot by listing the very worst blunders from his (or her) entire career, but that is hardly the point - it is the frequency of errors which is important. The second cautionary word concerns the method of measuring the frequency of errors. You cannot just take a tournament book and count the number of question marks; modern players are far more critical and objective than their predecessors. Although there are exceptions, tournament books from the early part of the century seem to be strong on flowery rhetoric but weak on pointing out mistakes. You actually have to analyse the games to obtain a realistic assessment of the standard of play; one day, perhaps, you will be able to feed a selection of games to Fritz and it will come back with the players' Elo ratings, but that day has not yet arrived."

Nunn's argument makes sense to me, and I can subscribe to its conclusions. Of course, it would be interesting to hear from someone with a contrary point of view.'

[end quote, Watson]


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11 Comments:

Blogger Temposchlucker said...

Great read.

Watson: Here Nunn shows that openings weren't a problem in this tournament for the older players (who specialised in a few systems)

Is he saying that you can come away in modern tournaments with knowing only very few openingssystems very well?

Sat Oct 06, 01:23:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Very interesting, and not surprising. It annoys me when the old codgers gripe about how much ratings have inflated since the old days. If one of these GMs went back to the old days they would clean everyone's clock.

Sat Oct 06, 05:58:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Temposchlucker said...

Summary:
In Karlsbad they played worse because:
*Serious oversights
*Often wrong plan
*Bad endgame technique

Openings were not taken into account.
Average rating 2129.
Only the best games of the past come close to modern standards.

Pretty shocking. So maybe Alekhine had only a rating of 2400 or so.

Sun Oct 07, 02:01:00 AM PDT  
Blogger transformation said...

not much that i can say of any consequence--yet--guys, with the flu still running in me... slept ten+ hours last night, after my first day back to work.

while waking over tea before going in for my shift at work, i just went QUICKLY throught the Mamedyarov-Kamsky game, Nikolic-Ivanchuk, Sutovsky-Shirov from Round 5 of the European Cup, in Turkey.

we can talk about 'would be PhD's' versus real, or 2400 versus super 2800's, but one thing is for sure, as against sub-geniuses and mere geniuses, those guys are 'real Genius's'.

may you go to ICC or Playchess(FICS doesnt show them, so much for 'Free chess') and view them or get the pgn's at chessCenter.com

Sun Oct 07, 12:21:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Derek Slater said...

Fascinating stuff, DK

Sun Oct 07, 05:23:00 PM PDT  
Blogger transformation said...

investment COMMENTS from ANNONYMOUS have

been copied and migrated to the appropriate blog, as well as my fresh response to their second question.

see correct blog for comments as this is not the appropriate place for sustained investment advise solicited by strangers.

Mon Oct 08, 03:24:00 PM PDT  
Blogger likesforests said...

"with the flu still running in me... slept ten+ hours last night, after my first day back to work."

Hope you've started feeling better by now, dk. You know the drill... drink lots of liquids and get some rest and vitamin C w/ zinc.

Mon Oct 08, 07:39:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Samuraipawn said...

Hi David!

Thank you for the kind comment to my posts. Today was truly a great day. First I met up with a friend and went bouldering for the first time. Iäve always want to learn how to climb and today I finally got started. I managed to conquer a rock and felt like I was on top of the world.

After four hours of climbing I went home and took a quick shower before the third round of the tournament. My opponent was rated 1507 (170 rating points higher than my 1337). I had the black pieces which made me a bit nervous since I never managed to win a game as black last year. But my opening practice paid off and I managed to win!

I got home at around 23:00 with no strength left in me whatsoever. Just when I thought things couldn't get any better, you had left some encouraging comments at my blog. What can I say, just a great day.

Thank you for adding the silver lining.

Sincerely

/Chris

Tue Oct 09, 02:59:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Wahrheit said...

A CONTRARY POINT OF VIEW

(Watson, asked for it, but you're getting it dk!)

Of course the players are a lot better today; it would be ridiculous to think that they shouldn't be. Are the football players of today better than those of 1927--no doubt, they're bigger, faster and more skilled, because they've built upon the experience of players and coaches and trainers, year after year, every year, for 80 years!

Chess has gone through the same process, as how could it not? Botvinnk and Fine studied Lasker deeply, took what they could use and improved on it; Fischer studied them, and Kasparov studied him, and so on...this is the nature of any human endeavor, math or science, running a mile, etc. Isaac Newton referred to it as having "stood on the shoulders of giants." Computers have accelerated this improvement process, as well.

One more point, it is not a matter of "ratings," which only measure results. Alekhine was indeed a 2700+ player, whatever his score might be against Kramnik if you transported him through time.

To sum up, let me put it this way--instead of silly statements about brushing up on openings, I say that if you took 5-year-old Morphy or Capablanca, time traveled them to today and gave them a computer and a trainer they would be GMs at 13-14 and fighting Kramnik or Anand for the championship at 21-25.

Anyone disagree?

Wed Oct 10, 11:16:00 AM PDT  
Blogger transformation said...

Warhrheit: excellent comments. thank you. i dont disagree at all. it still doesnt hurt to listen in on Mr. Watson chime in on Nunn, Alekhine, and the moderns K's.

it is an old discussion, not if we are better, but how much better, or said differently, just how good were the greats of the past and, de facto, who did they have to beat and what sort of persons were they, to establish such hegonomy.

warmest, dk

Wed Oct 10, 12:10:00 PM PDT  
Blogger transformation said...

I was 1671 when I was 14, and you simply cannot compare that to 1700 today, not to mention FIDE papal dispensations for sale (Popes selling salvation c. 1600) in form of special events helping bush-league GM’s (fakes).

So we have masters improved greatly AND we have ratings inflation.

BTW, I HAD to quit chess thereafter, too compulsive about it, and would have failed in school, and instead earned a scholarship to New York City, and the rest is history. So many mistakes in life…

Wed Oct 10, 12:31:00 PM PDT  

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