Soviet chess school

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The Soviet school of chess was asserted to be a national style of play by Soviet chess players and journalists. Although chess had been a game of the bourgeois and upper classes before the revolution, its popularity among Bolshevik leaders, including Lenin, contributed to its being supported by state leaders in the USSR as a national pastime. References to a Soviet school of chess only occurred after World War II, when a generation of Soviet chess players, led by soon-to-be world champion Mikhail Botvinnik, began a string of victories over international competitors that surprised the world.

Generally speaking, chess experts in the USSR described the Soviet school of chess as a fast-paced, daring style of play best exemplified by the young generation of postwar players like David Bronstein. Not all Soviet players used this playing style, though. The most notable exception was Botvinnik, whom grandmaster Mark Taimanov compared to the methodical Wilhelm Steinitz. The main contribution of the Soviet school of chess was not the style of players but their emphasis on rigorous training and study of the game, i.e. considering chess a sport rather than an art or science.

See also[edit]


  • Kotov, Alexander; Yudovich, Mikhail (1958). The Soviet School of Chess (2002 ed.). Hardinge Simpole. ISBN 978-1843820079.
  • Soltis, Andrew (1999). Soviet Chess 1917-1991. McFarland. ISBN 0-7864-0676-3.
  • Soltis, Andrew (1976). The Younger School of Soviet Chess. Bell. ISBN 978-0713519563.
  • Nikolai Grekov (1962) [1949]. Soviet Chess (translated by Theodore Reich and updated by David Bronstein). Capricorn Books. ASIN B000KZ69WS.
  • David John Richards (1965). Soviet Chess. Oxford Clarendon Press. ASIN B0017HAKZ0.
  • Bernstein, Seth (2012). "Valedictorians of the Soviet School: Professionalization and the Impact of War in Soviet Chess". Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History. 12. 2: 395–418. Retrieved 5 August 2012.