We first met Ricardo twenty years ago, when he was playing in the German Bundesliga and staying with his colleague Dr Helmut Pfleger in Munich. His German was fluent and eloquent, as was his English, spoken with a pleasantly mild Spanish accent. Since 1998 we met him every year at the Super-GM in Linares, where he worked as a correspondent to Spanish newspapers, and in León, where he was the chief press officer at the Advanced Chess events held there.
Calvo with Vishy Anand at a post-game press conference in June 21, 2002
and with Anand's opponent Vladimir Kramnik
As a chess historian, author and reporter, as well as a strong chess player, Dr. Calvo set forth evidence and arguments that Spain was the incubator and situs of the monumental changes that occurred in chess in the late fifteenth century, that resulted in the game we know as chess today. While many trace the introduction of the increased powers of the Queen and the Bishop to Renaissance Italy, Dr. Calvo presents a compelling case for his native homeland.
Dr Calvo was also deeply involved in chess politics. This culminated in his being declared persona non grata in 1987 after he had written a critical article on the world chess federation. In an article entitled On the Nature of FIDE Legitimacy he described his activities:
My name is Ricardo Calvo, and I love chess. I know several American chess players who may testify to it better than I. To begin with the greatest of all, I know that Fisher knows me. He made some compliments on me in Havana 1966 when I defeated Korchnoi. By the way, a day before I had won a much more fateful game against a Filipino chess player named Florencio Campomanes. A few days later, I watched how Fisher smashed Pomar, while I was losing a somehow crazy game against Addison in the match USA-Spain. Years later, in Siegen 1970, Fisher allowed me to interfere in the post-mortem analysis of his drawish game against Portisch. I appreciated this as an unusual honor. Generally speaking, the deafening silence which covers the figure and the image of Robert J. Fisher is a shame for any chess columnist, and I will try therefore to bear Fisher not only in my mind but also in my keyboard, for instance, in future articles under the title "Who is the World Champion?".
I have met other American chess players, and my experiences may be interesting to some. My best score is against the brothers Byrne (3-0). I won an endgame of bishops of opposite colors against Donald, and two attacking games against Robert in Spanish tournaments during the 70's. In Buenos Aires 1978, Robert Byrne came to me with a smile saying: "I wanted to shake hands with you when I am not resigning". I was a friend of Olaf Ulvestad, whom I defeated always, in tournaments as well as at my home when he was drunk. I drew against Larry Evans in Portugal. I lost once against William Lombardy in Germany, and my most horrible loss was in 1980 against Christiansen in Spain, because a had a clear rook plus in the opening. Christiansen seemed to interpret my stupidity as a sign of honesty, because he send me to pick up his money prize in Linares 1985 when he was too busy in a love affair with a local girl. Well, I didn't imitate the robbing. I recall kaleidoscopic chess experiences with Americans. Once I have been singing together with Seirawan "I am a poor wayfaring stranger". Other times, in other tournaments, I have discussed chess politics with Kavalek, philosophical chess issues with Saidy, computer chess with Schiller, or chess methodology with Weinstein. My memory is shaky and probably I am forgetting others.
Anyway, my chess career is irrelevant, because my name is for the records a well known one since FIDE declared me "persona non grata" in 1987. The committee endorsing this decision was headed by USCF representative Arnold Denker. Bearing Fisher in mind, I shall offer in this article some reflections centered on the historical nature of FIDE legitimacy.
You can read the rest of this article at Ishipress.