The first Chess Defector

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John Upham
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The first Chess Defector

Post by John Upham » Mon Feb 08, 2021 4:30 pm

In an obituary from 1996 Bernard Cafferty claims a future British player was the "first chess defector".

I was curious about this claim.

You can easily work out who BC was talking about.

Do you agree with him?
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Roger de Coverly
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Re: The first Chess Defector

Post by Roger de Coverly » Mon Feb 08, 2021 4:43 pm

John Upham wrote:
Mon Feb 08, 2021 4:30 pm
Do you agree with him?

Back in 1944 or 1945, this player is likely to have been regarded by the Soviet Union as a defector, traitor even.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fedir_Bohatyrchuk

Keres nearly made it to Sweden in 1945, one wonders how the Soviet Union would have wanted to treat him had he succeeded.

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Matt Mackenzie
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Re: The first Chess Defector

Post by Matt Mackenzie » Mon Feb 08, 2021 6:08 pm

Cenek Kottnauer, I presume?

A few players left the Eastern bloc at around the time he did, so dunno about "earliest". But certainly early.
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Re: The first Chess Defector

Post by John Upham » Mon Feb 08, 2021 6:59 pm

Matt Mackenzie wrote:
Mon Feb 08, 2021 6:08 pm
Cenek Kottnauer, I presume?

A few players left the Eastern bloc at around the time he did, so dunno about "earliest". But certainly early.
Yes, Čeněk Kottnauer who defected from Czechoslovakia via Switzerland to England in 1953.

He became a British citizen on 16th December 1960 when he obtained naturalisation certificate BNA64338 (according to the National Archives).

Of course, all of this depends on the definition of defector. A few German players "left" Germany in the 1930s and came to England. I presume that the German authorities made no attempt to stop them.

The OED states that "the desertion of one's country or cause in favour of an opposing one." is grounds to be labelled a defector.
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Re: The first Chess Defector

Post by Neil Graham » Mon Feb 08, 2021 9:13 pm

I would have thought that several players at the 8th Olympiad Buenos Aires 1939 who failed to return might fit into the category of defectors.

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Re: The first Chess Defector

Post by Tim Harding » Mon Feb 08, 2021 10:09 pm

I hardly think Cenek would have viewed himself as a defector and certainly not as somebody who deserted his country in favour of an opposing one.

If he was political at all (I don't recall we discussed politics but he may have been when he was younger), probably he would have viewed his country (Czechoslovakia) as being under occupation by the Russians?

When I knew him (in the 1970s) he was working as a hotel inspector for Charles Forte.

Of course Leonard would have known him much earlier than me and perhaps can throw light on this matter.
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Nick Grey
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Re: The first Chess Defector

Post by Nick Grey » Mon Feb 08, 2021 10:27 pm

I would have thought that players at 1914 who failed to return might fit into the category of defectors.

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Re: The first Chess Defector

Post by John McKenna » Mon Feb 08, 2021 11:34 pm

Nick, do you mean Mannheim 1914?

Or am I whistling in the dark?

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Re: The first Chess Defector

Post by Pete Morriss » Tue Feb 09, 2021 1:42 am

John Upham wrote:
Mon Feb 08, 2021 6:59 pm
The OED states that "the desertion of one's country or cause in favour of an opposing one." is grounds to be labelled a defector.
The third (online) edition of the OED defines 'defector' as:
A person who defects from a person, party, organization, or cause; (in later use) spec. one who abandons a communist country in order to settle in a non-communist country, or vice versa.
It is presumably this "later use" that was intended by Bernard Cafferty. So simply moving from one country to another, e.g. after or during the First World War - or to escape fascism - probably shouldn't count. The term would seem to be clearly ideologically loaded, and I doubt if many people would have used it as a self-description.

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Re: The first Chess Defector

Post by John Upham » Tue Feb 09, 2021 10:44 am

For the avoidance of doubt here are BCs words :

"Čeněk Kottnauer, the Czech/British IM, and the first chess defector died..."
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Re: The first Chess Defector

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Tue Feb 09, 2021 11:51 am

Alexander Alekhine?

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Re: The first Chess Defector

Post by John Upham » Tue Feb 09, 2021 11:57 am

Kevin Thurlow wrote:
Tue Feb 09, 2021 11:51 am
Alexander Alekhine?
What are your grounds for suggesting defection rather than emigrating or some other description?
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Matt Mackenzie
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Re: The first Chess Defector

Post by Matt Mackenzie » Tue Feb 09, 2021 1:06 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Mon Feb 08, 2021 4:43 pm
John Upham wrote:
Mon Feb 08, 2021 4:30 pm
Do you agree with him?

Back in 1944 or 1945, this player is likely to have been regarded by the Soviet Union as a defector, traitor even.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fedir_Bohatyrchuk

Keres nearly made it to Sweden in 1945, one wonders how the Soviet Union would have wanted to treat him had he succeeded.
Had he made it to Sweden (especially having his family with him) the Soviets would surely have had little choice but to accept this. By that time they (and Stalin) were fixated upon winning the world title as a symbol of national prestige.

ISTR that FB was discussed in some detail at this forum some years ago now. It appears he got up to some at least "morally questionable" stuff.
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Re: The first Chess Defector

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Tue Feb 09, 2021 1:35 pm

"What are your grounds for suggesting defection rather than emigrating or some other description?"

I'm only asking the question. Allegedly, he had permission to leave Russia, but decided not to return. As was said earlier, how do you define "defector"?

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Re: The first Chess Defector

Post by David Williams » Tue Feb 09, 2021 2:19 pm

My feeling is that the difference between emigration and defection is bound up with what would happen to you if you went back while the same people were still in charge.

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