The international Candidates' Chess Tournament that ended June 28 in Curacao left me with one conviction: Russian control of chess has reached a point where there can be no honest competition for the world championship. The system set up by the Federation International des Echecs, the governing body of world chess, insures that there will always be a Russian world champion because only a Russian can win the preliminary tournament that determines his challenger. The Russians arranged it that way. As far as I am concerned, they can keep it that way. I will never again play in one of these tournaments.
Sometimes, after their quick draws with each other, the Russians wouldn't go back to the swimming pool. They would openly analyze my game while I was still playing it. It is strictly against the rules for a player to discuss a game in progress, or even to speak with another player during a game—or, for that matter, with anyone. I studied Russian enough to be able to read their chess books, and I could easily understand what they were saying. They would say this move is good, or that move is good—in Russian, of course. My Russian isn't the greatest but, believe me, they weren't talking about the weather. If I was playing against a Russian, and one of these debates was going on right in front of us, my opponent might get up and join the discussion after he had made his move. Even if the advice they gave each other was bad—and too many chess cooks can spoil a game—it was annoying. It made me mad that they thought they could get away with it. I protested to the officials. I learned that they could get away with it. I complained a few more times, but their lead had increased to the point where they were unworried, and they then gradually stopped doing it.
Somebody asked me, "What did you learn at the tournament?" I said, "I learned not to play in any more of them." It is a waste of time for any Western player. The present arrangement for selecting a challenger for the championship is bad for chess, bad for the players taking part in it and bad for any real standard of the world championship. The general public long ago lost interest in any title gained in this fashion. Maybe chess players are losing interest in it also. I have, permanently.
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