Sunday, June 17, 2007
Blast from the Past – Soviet Chess Intrigues
This is a new column by Larry Evans at the Sun Sentinel (online) – all I can say is WOW. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. It's your move Posted June 17 2007 The Vladimirov flap: The first edition of Gary Kasparov's book Child of Change (1987) appeared in England, exposing some of the nasty tricks by FIDE and Soviet chess officials to deprive him of a shot at the title held by his nemesis. His main target was FIDE President Florencio Campomanes, who is mentioned 197 times in 242 pages. The book was panned in the prestigious Dutch magazine New in Chess by Tim Krabbe, who attacked Kasparov as an egomaniac and wondered, "how a person can drown so naively in his own ego?" Kasparov was taken to task for his "shabby" firing of his longtime aide GM Evgeny Vladimirov, who was suspected of being a mole after some secret opening analysis missing from a safe was found in his room. Krabbe denounced the charge: "In 1986 when he was three points ahead in the third match against [Anatoli] Karpov, Kasparov lost that whole lead in three games. How can such a thing happen? Without any proof, as Kasparov himself admits, the reputation of a colleague is murdered. I really hope Campomanes has not let himself be intimidated by the champion to the extent where he will not at least symbolically suspend Kasparov one day for this." GM Raymond Keene, chess columnist for The London Times, was appalled: "I certainly hope that Krabbe's suggestion was a joke. It leaves a very bad taste in the mouth in the current climate of assault on freedom of speech by FIDE." The American magazine Inside Chess, now defunct, renewed its attack on Kasparov. "It is difficult for this reader to buy the picture painted of Karpov as the epitome of all that is regressive and evil in Soviet life or the equally unlikely portrait of Kasparov as the avatar of progress and light ... Chapter 13, entitled "Knives in the Back," contains Kasparov's version of the ridiculous Vladimirov affair which cost the world champion much credibility and respect throughout the chess world." Kasparov was derided for blaming some of his losses on a spy in his camp. Yet did he not have a right to dismiss an aide he no longer trusted, which happens routinely in the business world? When I mentioned these charges in an interview with Kasparov, he said: "I realize that I have been criticized for banishing Vladimirov from my camp. Many people in the West find it difficult to believe that he passed analysis to Karpov's camp during the third match. But the world saw me change my entire opening repertoire except for the Gruenfeld Defense in the next match. I had to discard old luggage because Karpov knew everything about my opening preparation. I admit that I cannot prove my case beyond all doubt. But I have one question: `What was Vladimirov doing at Karpov's training camp in Odessa before our fourth match in 1987?'" Larry Evans is a five-time U.S. chess champion and nationally syndicated chess writer. Write to him at P.O. Box 1182, Reno, NV 89504.