La agonia de Speelman: análisis post-mortem

por Jonathan Simon "Jon" Speelman
21/09/2020 – El columnista estrella, Jon Speelman, recuerda aquellos tiempos cuando los jugadores aún podían sentarse frente al tablero tras la partida para analizar conjuntamente lo recién ocurrido. Speelman también habla de dos jugadores jugadores extraordinariamente fuertes, que de alguna manera nunca ha llegados a ser campeones del mundo durante sus respectivas carreras, Viktor Korchnoi (en la foto) y Vassily Ivanchuk. Artículo en inglés. | Foto: Mary Delaney Cooke/Corbis

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Bronstein, Korchnoi, Ivanchuk

[Note that Jon Speelman also looks at the content of the article in video format, here embedded at the end of the article.]

Long long ago, when all serious chess was still played by two people sitting across a table (without a perspex partition in-between) sometimes with a wooden board and wooden pieces and even with a clock that actually ticked, the players often used to indulge in a post-mortem afterwards.

Personally, I always saw and see the post-mortem as a time for a cordial exchange of ideas to examine the game as objectively as possible, though I’m happy to show off a bit with more or less (im)plausible variations which I’ve seen. But for others it’s a quite different affair.

There are some players who like to maintain dominance during the post-mortem as well (as the game itself) with an eye to possible future games against the same opponent. And some very strong players express views which are obviously totally unrealistic (they always have a good position unless something palpably awful happens) whatever their real internal view of the battle. There’s also plenty of opportunity for more or less genial verbal exchanges and I’ve been told that the great Viktor Korchnoi actually used to prepare his post-mortem insults before the game, depending on the result!

Viktor Korchnoi

Viktor Korchnoi

My Life for Chess Vol. 2

Volume 2 features about four hours of “Kortchnoi live”. The great chess legend portraits the second part of his eventful career, presenting among other things his games against Kasparov (1986), Spassky (1989) and Short (1990) in his typical gripping style. Embedded in the game commentaries are many details of Kortchnoi’s biography. For instance, before commenting his game against Spassky, the veteran speaks extensively about his personal relationship towards the ex-world champion. Throughout these lectures you can feel Kortchnoi’s ever-enduring love for chess. Whenever the great master gets to the heart of an opening (King’s Indian, English and French) or shows an astonishing move, one can see the joy sparkling from his eyes. No wonder – hardly any other chess genius has lived chess as intensively as “Viktor the Terrible”.


Korchnoi lived his formative years during the Siege of Leningrad so it’s completely understandable that he wasn’t the easiest of men. I had a minus score against him though with quite a few wins as well, and we had perfectly good relations though they were a little strained when for a very short time during the Montpelier Candidates tournament of 1985 — which I had come to as first reserve — I was employed by him as a second before he sacked me. 

“Viktor the Terrible” was one of the very strongest players never to become world champion and I can only think offhand of a handful of others from the mid-twentieth century onwards who were “(Crown) Princes”  to the same extent: Paul Keres, David Bronstein and Vassily Ivanchuk. I may well be missing somebody, and readers are more than welcome to carp in the comments. When I streamed later in the day after writing this, Akiba Rubinstein was suggested as an earlier one.  

Vassily IvanchukI never played Keres — after all he sadly died in 1975 when I was still a teenager — and had a single game with Bronstein, a draw at the Lloyds Bank Masters in 1989. But I have played a lot of games with Ivanchuk and more or less maintained an “even” score — as many draws as losses — without ever winning. I’ve always considered him, Karpov and Kasparov included, to be the best player I've ever faced and had his nerves been anything like as good as those Ks then he would more than likely have become world champion.

Before a few of my games against the “Princes”, a lovely word which I came across during the week through “A word a day”, the free newsletter from It is verbigerate, which is defined as:

verb intransitive.: To obsessively repeat meaningless words and phrases.

Feel free to find suitable contexts for this and please post them in the comments if you like.


My Life for Chess Vol. 1

Presenta 8 de sus más brillantes logros entre 1949 y 1979, entre ellos partidas contra Smyslov, Geller, Tal, Huebner y Karpov. Cuenta la historia que rodeó a cada partida, sin andarse por las ramas, tanto criticando duramente a los rivales, como prodigando elogios según proceda. Un punto culminante es la partida contra Karpov del duelo por el Campeonato del Mundo en Baguio 1978. Más de 3 horas de entrenamiento ajedrecístico de primera, además de una intensa entrevista. ¡Imprescindible para un aficionado al ajedrez!



Jonathan Speelman, gran maestro de ajedrez, entrenador, periodista (Observer, Independent).