The first Chess Defector

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Roger de Coverly
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Re: The first Chess Defector

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Feb 10, 2021 11:30 am


John McKenna
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Re: The first Chess Defector

Post by John McKenna » Wed Feb 10, 2021 11:55 am

From the last few posts it would seem that Kottnauer was not the first chess defector.

Remember this post from 2009 (link found via Mr. Urcan's post, further above) -
Leonard Barden wrote:
Sun Jan 25, 2009 10:48 am
Cenek Kottnauer defected from Czechoslovakia during the Lucerne New Year tournament of 1952-3 (I am precise on this because I was present). His wife Danielle joined him there, having been smuggled from Prague in the boot of a diplomat's car. Kottnauer had been a water polo player of international standard before 1939 so came into serious chess only his mid-30s. He made his name with his good showing in the Prague v Moscow match of 1946 and his Bxh7+ win then against Kotov. He competed in great tournaments like Groningen 1946 and Moscow 1947; his first visit to England was in 1947 when the Czech team came here.
In the 1940s he had a job in the Czech sports ministry but got implicated in the purges following the Slansky trial. He also believed that Pachman and Opocensky were involved in the campaign against him.
He only settled in England in the mid-1950s and, with an executive job for Fortes the restaurant chain had limited time for chess. After he retired he did chess coaching and, although never named in the BCF's list of coaches, was the most successful of all in terms of achievements by those he taught. He normally did weekly sessions of a couple of hours and got results through his challenging and sceptical approach to ideas from his pupils.
Kottnauer pupils included Hodgson, Watson, and Kumaran, who all became grandmasters. When he came to our junior invitation tournaments in the mid-seventies I used to give a prize of a game and session with him to exceptional talents. So he played Nigel Short in spring 1975 (probably Short's first one-to-one with an IM) and was enthusiastic about his promise. In 1981 when Stuart Conquest was going to the the world U16 championship in Argentina Cenek coached him for several months beforehand and went with him to the event. No news reports were available during the tournament so the first I knew was when Cenek phoned me on his return to London and complained that he was tired having to carry this enormous trophy home (Stuart had broken his arm before the event and played in a sling) and how the food had been terrible but that Eliskases, who was involved in the organisation, had sworn him to secrecy.
I used to visit him a couple of times a month for talk and blitz sessions and have warm memories. A great guy,and a significant figure in the long departed English chess boom.
http://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php ... t=30#p7841
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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: The first Chess Defector

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Thu Feb 11, 2021 12:22 am

Thanks to Olimpiu, Roger and John McK for the new material. It is safe to say that a number of chess players defected (or fled, would be a better way of putting it) during or at the end of the Second World War, from what would become the Eastern Bloc countries. Géza Füster and Fedir Bohatyrchuk were among the mass exodus at the end of the Second World War.

A non-comprehensive list is on Wikipedia at List of Soviet and Eastern Bloc defectors.

If you search that for 'chess' you get the following (year of 'defection' in brackets):

Fedir Bohatyrchuk (1945)
Géza Füster (1945)
Bela Berger (1956)
Jerzy Lewi (1969 - sadly died three years later aged 23)
Viktor Korchnoi (1976)
Lev Alburt (1979)
Igor Vasilyevich Ivanov (1980)
Mihai Suba (1988)

Who would we add to this list if we wanted to make it comprehensive, and were there any defections the other way (you can imagine chess players in the West sympathetic to the Soviet ideals considering moving to a place where chess was held in such high esteem)?

The list above is clearly incomplete. If you read the account of Bohatyrchuk's movement in Germany at the end of the war in the Wikpedia article, you get this:
At the end of World War II, as the German armies were retreating, Bohatyrchuk moved on to a number of German cities, including Berlin and Potsdam, and finally ended up in the American-controlled city of Bayreuth in May 1945, as the European war drew to a close. For a time he lived in Munich, playing in German chess events under the disguised name of ('Bogenko'), so as to avoid repatriation to the USSR. In March 1946, he won a 14-player round-robin for displaced persons, staged in the Allied camp at Meerbeck, Lower Saxony, Germany. He scored 11/13, with (+10−1=2); second was Lucijs Endzelins with 10.5, while third was Romanas Arlauskas with 10.[10] Later in 1946, he won, followed by Elmārs Zemgalis, Wolfgang Unzicker, etc. at Regensburg (Klaus Junge Memorial), with 7/9.[11] In February 1947, he took 3rd at Kirchheim unter Teck. In May 1947, he placed 6th at Kassel, a ten-player international round-robin, won by Bogolyubov. In September 1947, he took 4th at Stuttgart, his last event before departing for Canada.
Just clicking around the names there in the 'displaced persons' tournament, you get several other 'defectors' (depending how you define this). Here are some:

Lūcijs Endzelīns
At the end of World War II, Endzelīns, along with many other Baltic players (Arlauskas, Dreibergs, Jursevskis, Mednis, Ozols, Sarapu, Tautvaišas, Vaitonis, Zemgalis, et al.), escaped to the west just before the advancing Soviet forces arrived. In 1946, he played in Augsburg. The event was won by Wolfgang Unzicker. In 1946, he placed second, with 10.5/13, half a point behind Fedir Bohatyrchuk, in a round-robin event for displaced persons at Meerbeck. In 1947, he won, ahead of Elmārs Zemgalis and Efim Bogoljubow, at the Mattison Memorial Tourney in Hanau, Germany. Lūcijs Endzelīns migrated from Germany to Australia. He won the South Australian Championship eight times. He won the Australian championship in 1961.
Presumably, if they managed to 'complete' their escape, all those chess masters qualify as well. And most in "1945". Some of them fled to Germany during the war, only later moving on to other countries. Some of those fleeing Germany (this also included German chess masters) were later accused of taking part in wartime atrocities (I am oversimlifying here), so you have to be careful with the history here.

Romanas Arlauskas
Leonids Dreibergs
Miervaldis Jurševskis
Edmar Mednis (1945, though he was a child refugee aged 8, so this is stretching the definition of 'defector' well beyond breaking point)
Karlis Ozols
Ortvin Sarapu (interesting history in New Zealand)
Povilas Tautvaišas
Povilas Vaitonis
Elmārs Zemgalis
Leho Laurine
Stepan Popel
Myroslav Turiansky (Wikipedia article was deleted)

The only one of those I had heard of before is Mednis (and that is primarily because he is of a different generation).

So you have to define defection carefully. Do you exclude this mass exodus at the end of the Second World War, where these chess masters are Displaced Persons (an official status), rather than 'defectors', as that concept maybe did not properly exist then (unless you were part of the state apparatus, when you would properly be defecting)? Or do you define defectors to be those that left later?

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MJMcCready
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Re: The first Chess Defector

Post by MJMcCready » Thu Feb 11, 2021 3:13 am

Very much so, during the Russia -Germany war 11 Russian players were interned in Germany (held as state prisoners) and only four returned, so it is often claimed. Defining their statute at the time would have been problematic and by some they were most probably described as defectors after the fact, especially after Stalin came to power. I don't think the Soviet Government was ever big on transparency, and so discerning the varying levels of authorization granted is probably a book in itself.
Last edited by MJMcCready on Thu Feb 11, 2021 3:30 am, edited 1 time in total.

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MJMcCready
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Re: The first Chess Defector

Post by MJMcCready » Thu Feb 11, 2021 3:21 am

Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
Wed Feb 10, 2021 7:19 am
That is a hilarious anecdote - and very naughty.

What criteria were applied to removing entries (and how many?) from the 1992 edition of Hooper & Whyld?
It is, perhaps, the beginnings of a new thread 'The darker side of world champions', detailing all the naughty things they got up to as world champion. I seem to remember once Kasparov played Judit Polgar, picked up a piece and then claimed he hadn't lifted it off the square and got away without having to play a poor move.'

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JustinHorton
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Re: The first Chess Defector

Post by JustinHorton » Thu Feb 11, 2021 6:42 am

MJMcCready wrote:
Thu Feb 11, 2021 3:13 am
Very much so, during the Russia -Germany war 11 Russian players were interned in Germany (held as state prisoners) and only four returned, so it is often claimed.
What were their names
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Re: The first Chess Defector

Post by Jonathan Bryant » Thu Feb 11, 2021 10:19 am

Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
Thu Feb 11, 2021 12:22 am
...
were there any defections the other way (you can imagine chess players in the West sympathetic to the Soviet ideals considering moving to a place where chess was held in such high esteem)?
Lasker moved to Moscow for a bit - I imagine the reasons you give were not unconnected to this. Although he later moved on so perhaps we wouldn't count him anyway.

Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
Thu Feb 11, 2021 12:22 am
So you have to define defection carefully. Do you exclude this mass exodus at the end of the Second World War ....
There's also the question of whether you count people who officially emigrated - folks like Sosonko, Gulko and Spassky (in various ways) - or whether you only want to know about people who legged it without pre warning the state of their intention - Korchnoi et al.


I say this because if you read Sosonko on how he came to leave the Soviet Union he clearly couldn't go back even though he formally emigrated so this ...

David Williams wrote:
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.
... was of little practical difference to him.

He formally emigrated but he was treated by the Soviets as a defector.
Last edited by Jonathan Bryant on Thu Feb 11, 2021 10:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

David McAlister
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Re: The first Chess Defector

Post by David McAlister » Thu Feb 11, 2021 11:03 am

Very much so, during the Russia -Germany war 11 Russian players were interned in Germany (held as state prisoners) and only four returned, so it is often claimed.
What were their names
11 Russian players were detained at Baden Baden: Alekhine, Bogoljubow, Bohatyrchuk, Weinstein, Kopelman, Maljutin, Rabinovich, Romanovsky, Saburov, Selesniev and Flamberg.
In early September 1914 they were all medically examined and Alekhine, Bohatyrchuk and Saburov received permission to leave Germany having been declared unfit for military service. In late September Kopelman was released perhaps due to a combination of money and friends in high places. The remaining 7 in captivity were moved to Triberg in late November 1914.
(Information gleaned from various pages in Tony Gillam's book "Mannheim 1914 and the Interned Russians.")

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Re: The first Chess Defector

Post by John McKenna » Thu Feb 11, 2021 11:13 am

JustinHorton wrote:
Thu Feb 11, 2021 6:42 am
MJMcCready wrote:
Thu Feb 11, 2021 3:13 am
Very much so, during the Russia -Germany war 11 Russian players were interned in Germany (held as state prisoners) and only four returned, so it is often claimed.
What were their names
See below (edit - and above) for a list of their names. Among them was this one -
Peter Petrovich Saburov (Sabouroff) (14 January [O.S. 2 January] 1880, Saint Petersburg – 26 March 1932, Geneva) was a Russian diplomat, chess master and organizer, and musical composer.

He was a son of Peter Alexandrovich Saburov, a diplomat and chess organizer..."
(Wikipedia)

The father, Peter Alexandrovich, played and won his game in a blindfold simul by Louis Paulsen held in London in 1862.

https://www.chesshistory.com/winter/extra/saburovs.html

Returning to the life of prodigal Russian son Peter Petrovich -
In July/August 1914, he participated in Mannheim (the 19th DSB Congress), which was interrupted by the outbreak of World War I. After the declaration of war against Russia, eleven Russian players (Alekhine, Bogoljubow, Bogatyrchuk, Flamberg, Koppelman, Maliutin, Rabinovich, Romanovsky, Saburov, Selezniev, Weinstein) from the Mannheim tournament were interned in Rastatt. In September, four of them (Alekhine, Bogatyrchuk, Saburov, and Koppelman) were freed and allowed, via Switzerland, to return home...."
(Wikipedia)

More of a master musician than a master chessplayer but a candidate for an early 'defector -
... In 1918, P.P. Saburov, the President of the Russian Chess Association, was still in Russia, but because of Bolshevik policy, he fled to Switzerland. Saburov composed a “Love Symphony” for orchestra, which was played for the first time on 6 May 1925 in the “Concert Classique” at Monte Carlo and proved a success. The Scherzo (third part) of the symphony is called “Simultaneous Games of Chess”.
(Wikipedia)

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Petrovich_Saburov
Last edited by John McKenna on Thu Feb 11, 2021 5:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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John McKenna
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Re: The first Chess Defector

Post by John McKenna » Thu Feb 11, 2021 11:22 am

I now see that I was beaten to the posting of the list of names -
David McAlister wrote:
Thu Feb 11, 2021 11:03 am
Very much so, during the Russia -Germany war 11 Russian players were interned in Germany (held as state prisoners) and only four returned, so it is often claimed.
What were their names
11 Russian players were detained at Baden Baden: Alekhine, Bogoljubow, Bohatyrchuk, Weinstein, Kopelman, Maljutin, Rabinovich, Romanovsky, Saburov, Selesniev and Flamberg.
In early September 1914 they were all medically examined and Alekhine, Bohatyrchuk and Saburov received permission to leave Germany having been declared unfit for military service. In late September Kopelman was released perhaps due to a combination of money and friends in high places. The remaining 7 in captivity were moved to Triberg in late November 1914.
(Information gleaned from various pages in Tony Gillam's book "Mannheim 1914 and the Interned Russians.")
I found my information about the Saburovs late last night and my above post about them was made without sight of David's.

Was Peter Petrovich Saburov the first "chess defector"?
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Matt Mackenzie
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Re: The first Chess Defector

Post by Matt Mackenzie » Thu Feb 11, 2021 1:13 pm

Jonathan Bryant wrote:
Thu Feb 11, 2021 10:19 am


I say this because if you read Sosonko on how he came to leave the Soviet Union he clearly couldn't go back even though he formally emigrated so this ...

David Williams wrote:
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.
... was of little practical difference to him.

He formally emigrated but he was treated by the Soviets as a defector.
Jaacov/Jakob Murey was another in that category.

Was finally allowed back into the USSR only when he qualified for the 1982 Moscow interzonal.
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John McKenna
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Re: The first Chess Defector

Post by John McKenna » Thu Feb 11, 2021 4:59 pm

Jonathan Bryant wrote:
Thu Feb 11, 2021 10:19 am
Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
Thu Feb 11, 2021 12:22 am
...
were there any defections the other way (you can imagine chess players in the West sympathetic to the Soviet ideals considering moving to a place where chess was held in such high esteem)?
Lasker moved to Moscow for a bit - I imagine the reasons you give were not unconnected to this. Although he later moved on so perhaps we wouldn't count him anyway...
Em. Lasker played in the Moscow 1925 tournament as a representative of Germany.

He did not play another tournament until Zurich, 1934, and there he represented England.

At Moscow in 1935 (Jan.-Feb.) which country did Lasker represent?

Lasker and his wife, Martha, moved to Moscow in Aug. 1935

At Nottingham, 1936, he represented the USSR.

In Oct. 1937, at the age of 68, he and Martha moved to the USA - where he ended his days in 1941, Jan.

At Moscow 1935 Flohr (Czechoslovakia) came 1st= with Botvinnik, and ahead of Lasker, Capablanca & Spielmann.

Salo Flohr (1908-83) moved west from Poland to Czechoslovakia, as a child, but late in 1938 he left there for the USSR (to escape the advancing Germans) and stayed - becoming a citizen in 1942 - for the rest of his life.
Last edited by John McKenna on Thu Feb 11, 2021 6:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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MJMcCready
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Re: The first Chess Defector

Post by MJMcCready » Thu Feb 11, 2021 5:45 pm

Do we have any English chess defectors? I believe GM Plaskett went off to Spain but I don't think he assumed another nationality?

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IM Jack Rudd
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Re: The first Chess Defector

Post by IM Jack Rudd » Thu Feb 11, 2021 5:55 pm

I can think of two English GMs who transferred to other federations: Matthew Turner (to Scotland) and David Norwood (to Andorra).

Roger de Coverly
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Re: The first Chess Defector

Post by Roger de Coverly » Thu Feb 11, 2021 5:59 pm

MJMcCready wrote:
Thu Feb 11, 2021 5:45 pm
Do we have any English chess defectors?
A number

Murray Chandler reverted to being a New Zealander.
Matthew Turner became Scottish and Nigel Davies Welsh.
Tony Kosten became French and David Norwood Andorran.
Tony Miles was nominally American for a few years.

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