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.
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
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:
good tournaments and
great world championship matches
the media in its various forms
Thank you Max Euwe, Boris Spassky,
and Lothar Schmid. I hope others can learn from your example.