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Chess Records & Trivia

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ChessBase has an item on chess records including a brief set from the divine Edward Winter and a call for more from the same. The Guinness Book has changed its format in many ways over the year and is now more meant to be read than to serve as anything comprehensive, let alone relevant. It's no surprise the more traditional records in sports have given way to "largest collection of [insert brand name here] toys" and the like. In 1986 chess historian Ken Whyld did a book of chess records ("Guinness Chess The Records") that is still very much worth tracking down. It contains many crosstables and lists of national champions and not really much in the way of longest, oldest, etc.

Winter mentions the book "Kasparov Against the World" as the longest analysis of a single game. It's true the book had a lot of diary material – it follows Garry around as he plays the game from all over the world. But that was certainly the most deeply analyzed game in history. Apart from Kasparov there were teams of strong players and amateurs with strong computers going over every move and variation in coordinated fashion for months. I have Garry's PGN file on that game and if printed out it would run many dozens of pages. (My own "most analyzed game" runs a few pages, excerpted here.)

Even if you don't have much knowledge of records you can participate by suggesting new categories. Then we can all try to track down the answers. Plus, this leads to oodles of jokes. Tim Krabbé already has many game-related records covered here. I'd expand submissions to include "firsts" and "onlys" as well just to keep things moving. How about the first champion of Israel who also once held the "longest game ever" record? We could further expand this to general trivia, so give us your best bit of fascinating, lesser-known lore. Emphasis on the fascinating please. So as not to take Mr. Winter's name in vain, try to provide sources, especially if you are rehashing old canards in the Chernev/Horowitz/Reinfeld/Koltanowski tradition.


I'm not 100% sure of this record, so maybe Edward Winter can confirm it.

Person who has devoted the most time of his life verifying meaningless chess trivia: Edward Winter.

With all due respect, Thank You Edward. I'm glad you've found your passion in life. Keep up the good work!

Below was my suggestion on the youngest GM. Its probably the record of the greatest interest yet is only unofficially kept and usually declared by a newpaper or the player themselves. In particular the need for the correct rating and to meet other prerequisits means that the current idea that you declare you have the record on the day you are certain to get the norm may not necessarily be the correct one.

Most records are a bit of a yawn but this one needs to be verified and administer by someone who can check all the facts as it seems to be the one that's most important.

My suggestion:

Its a great idea to document the most important world chess records. In particular I think the record of the youngest Grandmaster needs to be
fully addressed, with a list of the players who held the record and when, and also a list of the current top 10 youngest.

I've never been clear whether the record should be when the title is awarded, or the current practice as to when the final game that qualified
the player definitely for the tite was played, or perhaps it should be something else. This record clearly fascinates but FIDE don't seem to administer such a record list and it tends to be declared through the press. Its time for your forensic approach.

Since FIDE only awards titles (including GM titles) on a Semi-Annual basis, it does distort the record a bit to use the official date on which the title was awarded. It is probably "fairer" to use the date on which the Final norm was earned--assuming that playuer has satisfied the minimum rating requirement and other pre-requisites. If, say, the rating is too low, then that player will only have "earned" the GM title when he/she has raised the rating past the threshold.
Given the PR stakes involved, one of the most important items to verify is the age of the young player. It is easy to envision scenarios where there is an incentive to make a Chess prodigy seem younger than he/she actually is.

Euwe is the only player to become champion by winning a match by a margin of one game, 9-8 over Alekhine.

I am usually not interested in chess trivia, but I've always wondered; which world champion was most successful with the ladies? Capablanca is the obvious choice, but I'd like to hear from Edward for the definitive answer.

Susan Polgar documents her World Record Simul here:

The following four records were set:

Quoting the website above:
- 326 Simultaneous Games Played (Official first record against 326 players: 309 wins, 14 draws and 3 losses = 96.93% in 16 hours and 30 minutes)
- Most games won 309
- Highest percentage 96.93%
- 1,131 Consecutive Games Played (Overall statistics which included 551 opponents: 1,112 wins, 16 draws and 3 losses = 99.03%)

Previous Records:

1st previous record: 321 games (294 wins, 26 draws, 1 loss = 95.64%) by IM Andrew Martin (England)
2nd previous record: 1102 games played consecutively by WGM Anna-Maria Botsari (Greece)
3rd previous record: 95.64% by IM Andrew Martin (England)

end quote

Andrew Martin's (former) World Record Simul is documented here:

Small quote:
International Chess Master, Andrew Martin, achieved a new World Record last Saturday, 21st February, at Wellington College Crowthorne, when he played 321 chess players all at the same time. The previous world record for the highest number of simultaneous chess games was 310, achieved 8 years ago in Sweden. To qualify for the world record Andrew had to beat at least 80% of his opponents. His score on the day was 294 wins, 26 draws and just one loss.

end of quote

Here's a piece of chess trivia / legend that may or may not be true - I'm asking if someone can verify it.

Aren't there several stories of World Champions identifying future World Champions, as children, after playing them in a simul?

I think I've heard this same theme in stories where Botvinnik discovers someone (Kasparov?), and again involving someone and Spassky, and maybe again with Kramnick getting noticed in a simul against Kasparov.

Are any of these stories true?

Here’s two that I’d like to know. What player has the most wins against GM’s and which player has the most losses against GM’s? Second, what players have the best records against world champion?

Hey, don't slam monomaniacs! Monomania is why we have the theory of relativity, much of art and literature, etc.

I enjoy Winter; he's the ultimate skeptic, which isn't bad for clearing several generations' worth of dubious anecdotes from the thickets of chess history.

Here's some vintage Winter:

World Champion Combinations goes on to compliment itself on being ‘The Definitive Guide to the Concepts and Secrets of Chess Combinations as Played by the World Champions’, but the only definitive guide offered is to the authors’ incompetence. Each of the champions receives a few paragraphs of introductory generalities, although the ‘Capsule Biographies of Each World Champion’ threatened by the back-cover blurb mercifully never materialize. The announced ‘insightful detail’ on the combinations of ‘the 14 World Champions’ is also left undelivered. Insights are out. Instead we are given a run-through of a small number of the champions’ best-known games and positions of the Morphy-versus-the-Duke-and-Count sort. Putting out such facile material requires minimal knowledge of either chess play or chess history and should at least result in presentation without error. Alas, presenting things without error is not a Keene/Schiller speciality.

You'd have to define 'what player has the best record against world champions' a bit more closely. Kramnik's and Kasparov's, for example, are not bad. Nor is Sultan Khan's or that of various others who played one game only against Lasker and were successful. And should Gulko's plus score against Kasparov, largely achieved when the latter was in nappies, count for much?

Assuming however one confines oneself to games against sitting world champions by players who were never world champions themselves and played, say, more than five such games, then while I naturally have no idea I expect Geller might do well. He famously made a lifetime plus score against eight(?) world champions in well over 100 games.

One might say that Karpov won the title by a single game against Korchnoi in 1974, and certainly many have retained it by that margin, but otherwise I think Euwe is right.

The Capa-Botvinnik simul game is well documented; indeed I'm fairly sure Botvinnik quotes the game in one of his books. Winter's Capa biography quotes Capa himself as mentioning it too. In fact I'm fairly sure he says it was the simul he travelled to Leningrad for in the rest day of Moscow 1925 (when he lost to Verlinsky the next day). I can't think of any others. Tal himself says for example that he certainly did not set out with a chessboard under his arm to challenge Botvinnik at the latter's dacha.

World champions and the ladies - a bit off-topic but hats off to David Bronstein in this regard; it's not everyone who can pull their best friend's daughter.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on December 23, 2006 1:18 PM.

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