Where have you gone Max Euwe ?
A chess nation turns its lonely eyes towards you.

 

     Max Euwe, born in Holland 1901, was the first amateur player to win the chess world title and the first champion to hold a full time job out side of  chess. He earned his PHD in Mathematics and Physics in 1926. He was a mathematics teacher.  He defeated Alexander Alekhine in 1935 to become the 5th World Champion. He lost the return match in 1937. He authored many chess books. He became FIDE President in 1970. He was a law and order president and his guiding principle was to benefit chess. He was instrumental in keeping the 1972 world championship match between Spassky and Fischer from being canceled. He played a  behind  the scenes role in keeping the match of the century on course. He knew what was good for chess. Bobby Fischer was a royal pain in the butt, however Euwe the wise elder statesman resisted pressure to disqualify Fischer.  Euwe would later say " AS FIDE President, I felt it was my chief duty to save this match". 

    Boris Spassky, the 10th World Champion,  showed his great sportsmanship and  courage in overriding the Soviet Sports Committee's orders for him to return home with his title without playing Fischer. After Fischer failed to show up for the 2nd game, no one would have blamed Spassky had he left. After all Spassky had defeated Fischer in game one.  Spassky was not in good form; he knew that, his last good year was 1970. I have no doubt he knew Fischer was stronger.  Spassky performed one of the most unselfish acts in chess history. He agreed to play game 3 in a small room outside the prying lenses of the camera. Just prior to game 3 , a heated argument erupted between Spassky and Fischer, luckily arbiter Lothar Schmid  was able to calm both men down.  Fischer won game three and went on to win the match. Millions of fans watched this match on PBS with Shelby Lyman.  I know because I was one of them. Euwe also supported Victor Kortchnoi during his defection in 1976 in Holland. Euwe resisted the Soviets attempt to prevent Victor from being a candidate for the 1978 World Championship.   Euwe also guided the contentious championship match of 1978. Euwe steadfastly pursued what he felt was good for chess.

  The Spassky vs. Fischer match brought  big money into the sport; it also introduced millions of new fans to chess. World Chess Championships are worth saving, provided they are done correctly.  

 Sadly Jolting Max has left and gone away.

  When he died in 1981 at the age of 80, Max Euwe was still involved in chess and was planning on winning the world correspondence championship.

I think chess needs a panel of wise people and elder statesmen to mediate between FIDE and its players. An independent body made up of retired chess players like Spassky, arbiters like Lothar Schmid, journalists, and fans. This panel should help guide FIDE and its players so that they make decisions that help promote the game of chess.

 

In order for FIDE to be successful, it must organize:

1)      the players

2)     good tournaments and great world championship matches

3)      the media in its various forms

4)      fans

5) sponsors

 

       Thank you Max Euwe, Boris Spassky, and Lothar Schmid. I hope others can learn from your example.