The Gelfer/Kasparov puzzle
In late September Garry Kasparov visited ChessBase in Hamburg and brough us
a little puzzle he had encountered during
his visit to the Chess Olympiad in Istanbul. It came from FIDE Vice President
Israel Gelfer, who had done a bit of research on the question: which chess
player has recorded wins over the greatest number of World Champions. Gelfer
had included the FIDE knock-out and tournament world champions – Khalifman,
Ponomariov, Kasimdzhanov, Topalov – but Garry decided that was unfair
to the older players. So the search was narrowed down to the fifteen classical
World Champions: Steinitz, Lasker, Capablanca, Alekhine, Euwe, Botvinnik, Smyslov,
Tal, Petrosian, Spassky, Fischer, Karpov, Kasparov, Kramnik and Anand.
Our question at the time was: which chess player has beaten the greatest number
of the above fifteen World Champions? In classical chess, but not necessarily
when they were reigning, of course. We were asking not for the number of times
they had defeated a world champion, but the number of world champions they defeated.
Naturally the world champions themselves are not excluded. We also wanted to
know who comes second, third, fourth, etc., and we asked for the names of the
players and the world champions they have beaten. Garry offered to sign three
of his ChessBase DVDs
for three winners, personally dedicated, which he duly did for readers who had
submitted the first batch of answers, before his departure from Hamburg. Note
that the winners were chosen from messages we had received in the first three
days, so that the DVD could be signed and dedicated during Kasparov's stay.
We receive more comprehensive answers and research after he had left.
Here are the three winners, who should send us their postal addresses so we
can ship them the prizes:
Timothée Heinz, Strasburg
Paul Keres won against the most World Champions, nine: Capablanca, Alekhine,
Euwe, Tal, Spassky, Smyslov, Petrosian, Fischer, Botvinnik. Then there are those
with eight victories: Geller (against Karpov, Euwe, Botvinnik, Spassky, Smyslov,
Petrosian, Tal, Fischer); Botvinnik (against Lasker, Capablanca, Alekhine, Euwe,
Spassky, Smyslov, Tal, Petrosian); Korchnoi (against Karpov, Kasparov, Tal,
Botvinnik, Spassky, Smyslov, Fischer, Petrosian); Petrosian (against Karpov,
Kasparov, Tal, Euwe, Botvinnik, Spassky, Smyslov, Fischer); and Smyslov (against
Karpov, Kasparov, Tal, Euwe, Botvinnik, Spassky, Petrosian, Fischer). I collected
the games as proof in ChessBase format.
Dallas Gatti, Melbourne, Victoria
I believe the player who has defeated the most World Champions was Paul Keres,
who had defeated Capablanca, Alekhine, Euwe, Botvinnik, Smyslov, Tal, Petrosian,
Spassky, and Fischer. There are also three players who defeated eight World
Chess Champions: Smyslov (Euwe, Botvinnik, Tal, Petrosian, Spassky, Fischer,
Karpov and Kasparov); Petrosian (Euwe, Botvinnik, Smyslov, Tal, Spassky, Fischer,
Karpov and Kasparov); Korchnoi (Botvinnik, Smyslov, Tal, Petrosian, Spassky,
Fischer, Karpov and Kasparov).
Andrii Punin, Nikolaev, Ukraine
1. Keres - nine (Capablanca, Alekhine, Euwe, Botvinnik, Smyslov, Tal,
Petrosian, Spassky, Fischer); 2/3. Kortschnoj - eight (Botvinnik, Smyslov, Tal,
Petrosian, Spassky, Fischer, Karpov, Kasparov); 2/3. Geller - eight (Euwe, Botvinnik,
Smyslov, Tal, Petrosian, Spassky, Fischer, Karpov); 4. Larsen - seven (Botvinnik,
Smyslov, Tal, Petrosian, Spassky, Fischer, Karpov).
The following very astute and well-researched message did not make it to a
dedicated DVD, but we will be sending Daniel a special undedicated Fritz 13
signed by Kasparov – in return for the Exel file he generated in the process
of his research.
Daniel Brandao Mariani, Florianopolis, Brazil
Before I submit the result f my research I would like to thank you for providing
such great time killing puzzles (this one took us some six hours). I say "us"
because I had a lot of help from my girlfriend Amanda Paul Dull (who is the
current Brazilian U18 vice-champion, by the way). This research required ChessBase
Fritz 11, Microsoft excel and a fried chicken.
Initially I expected our guy to be Korchnoi or Botvinnik, so I was a bit surprised
in the end. Paul Keres is the chess player who defeated more world champions,
winning over Alekhine and Capablanca once, Euwe 11 times, Botvinnik 3 times,
Smyslov 9, Tal 7, Petrosian, Spassky and Fischer 3 times each. He's also one
of those who had more wins against world champions (5th) with 41 games won (the
first is – guess who – Kasparov, with 58 wins over world champions).
The second place is shared by four players who defeated eight different World
- Botvinnik, with 45 wins (25 over Smyslov)
- Geller, with 32 wins
- Petrosian, with 30 wins, and
- Beliavsky (!), with 18 wins.
One should note that Botvinnik is not in first place because he failed to defeat
himself. The list goes on:
- Kasparov, 7 champions, 58 wins (28 over Karpov)
- Karpov, 7 champions, 46 wins
- Smyslov, 7 champions, 37 wins
- Larsen, 7 champions, 25 wins
- Reshevsky, 7 champions, 19 wins
- Korchnoi, 6 champions, 51 wins
- Spassky, 6 champions, 36 wins
- Portisch, 6 champions, 23 wins
- Gligoric and Timman, 6 champions, 21 wins
And so on... There are other five players who beat over six different World
Champions, and some 476 players who beat a World Champion once in their lives.
I should note that I used a Database from 2007, so Anand and Kramnik relative
results may be a little innacurate. It is true about rapid tornaments as well,
for I may have counted a couple of rapid victories as classical victories.
To conclude, I would like to point out the data we collected made possible
to discover other thing as well, for instance, the player who won more times
against a single World Champion (it's the above mentioned Kasparov with 28 wins
over Karpov), or who's Anand nemesis (yes, that's him again: Kasparov won 15
times against the Indian GM).
The winner of our chess puzzle was of course the Estonian GM Paul Keres (January
7, 1916 – June 5, 1975), who was among the world's top players from the
mid-1930s to the mid-1960s. Keres narrowly missed a chance at a world championship
match on five occasions. He won the 1938 AVRO tournament, which led to negotiations
for a title match against champion Alexander Alekhine, but the match never took
place due to World War II. After the war Keres was runner-up in the Candidates'
Tournament on four consecutive occasions. Due to these and other strong results,
many chess historians consider Keres the strongest player never to become world
champion. He was nicknamed "Paul the Second", "The Eternal Second"
and "The Crown Prince of Chess". Keres was the only player in chess
history to defeat nine undisputed world champions. – Source: Wikipedia.
Twelfth World Champion Anatoly Karpov (right) in front of a
monument for Paul Keres in Tallinn
The postcard reflects the only Keres victory over Alekhine (the overall victory
score was 1:5) in the Margate 1937 tournament:
Keres,Paul - Alekhine,Alexander [C71]
Margate Margate (7), 1937
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 d6 5.c4 Bd7 6.Nc3 g6 7.d4 Bg7 8.Be3
Nf6 9.dxe5 dxe5 10.Bc5 Nh5 11.Nd5 Nf4 12.Nxf4 exf4 13.e5 g5 14.Qd5 Bf8 15.Bxf8
Rxf8 16.0-0-0 Qe7 17.Bxc6 Bxc6 18.Qd3 Bd7 19.Nxg5 0-0-0 20.Nf3 f6 21.exf6 Rxf6
Reports on Kasparov in Lüneburg and Istanbul
||Kasparov in Lüneburg, Minister to promote chess in schools
04.10.2012 – Recently the northern German city
of Lüneburg saw a festive chess event. Guests of honour was Garry Kasparov
and the Culture Minister of Lower Saxony Dr. Bernd Althusmann. Kasparov
used the opportunity to pressure the minister into making chess part of
the school curriculum. If things go as planned a pilot project will soon
introduce chess as a regular
subject in 100 schools.
||Hurricane Kasparov makes landfall in Germany
21.09.2012 – On Thursday Garry Kasparov flew
in to Hamburg, en route to a big chess event on Saturday in Lüneburg,
about fifty km to the south. Not one to waste any time, Garry is currently
(Friday afternoon) recording a DVD in the ChessBase office studio, one
that retraces his life and chess career from the start to 1985, just before
he became World Champion. Here are pictures and a
puzzle he brought for us.
||Garry Kasparov on FIDE and Istanbul Olympiad
13.09.2012 – The 13th world champion was not
in Istanbul just to cheer on the Russian team and its new coach, his old
trainer Yuri Dokhoian. Kasparov took part in complex negotiations to reform
FIDE's rules on elections, stemming from lawsuits against FIDE during
the 2010 Karpov campaign. In this exclusive interview we also get his
thoughts on the Russian and Armenian teams, and
even some chess.