Hein Donner : The Biography

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John Upham
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Hein Donner : The Biography

Post by John Upham » Thu Aug 13, 2020 3:47 pm

Richard James has reviewed Hein Donner : The Biography for British Chess News

Here is that review : https://britishchessnews.com/2020/08/07 ... biography/


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Hein Donner : The Biography
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Leonard Barden
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Re: Hein Donner : The Biography

Post by Leonard Barden » Thu Aug 13, 2020 5:52 pm

Richard James's review states:

"Looking at his games in MegaBase it’s also notable how well he scored against English opponents."

...which makes me wonder how my 2.5-2.5 lifetime total stands up.

Donner beat me in the first round of the England universities v Netherlands universities match of December 1950. He used some kind of Samisch Nimzo-Indian, rolled up the centre and crushed my king. Afterwards I asked him what was my error and he replied "You are a typically passive Englishman".

The return game next day was a McCutcheon French, for which I was ready as he had played it a few months before against Smyslov in Venice. He TNd with Qa5-a4 as an improvement, but I was ready for it, swapped queens and followed up confidently. Actually my analysis was poor and JHD could have equalised but perhaps he was too impressed as I got a big bind and won.

Our next game was in the final round of Hastings 1951-52 and probably the only one of the five to make the databases. I quote from what I wrote in the Guardian:

At the Hastings Premier where play began at a spartan 9am.... I was due to meet the late Dutch grandmaster Hein Donner, who arrived, clearly just out of his slumbers, at 10.30. It was 40 moves in two hours and the one-hour forfeit rule had not yet been introduced.
Donner spent the next half-hour looking zonked, playing a terrible opening and downing a series of black coffees. At 11 his eyes and his play suddenly focused, he found a brilliant fortress defence to stop my attack on his king, and I was glad to settle for a draw".

it shouldn't have worked as I missed a simple win at move 21, spotted many years later.

We also met at Cheltenham 1953, where Donner won, and at Bognor 1954, where I won.

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John Saunders
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Re: Hein Donner : The Biography

Post by John Saunders » Thu Aug 13, 2020 11:17 pm

I've found the following Barden v Donner games on my database...

The two university match games...







There was a sixth game that you may have forgotten about, Leonard - a draw in round 6 of the Paignton Premier 1951. However, I've not yet traced the score of that one.
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Nick Ivell
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Re: Hein Donner : The Biography

Post by Nick Ivell » Sat Aug 15, 2020 9:48 am

This looks like an interesting read and gets me thinking: is the 'bohemian' chessplayer a thing of the past? Nowadays, there can't even be a pretence that elite performance can be combined with a rock 'n' roll lifestyle.

One imagines Donner combining what study he did with 'Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands' playing in the background.

For all his strengths, of course, he can't be considered an elite performer. Strange that we have a biography of him and not of Korchnoi, say, or have I missed something?

Paul Cooksey
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Re: Hein Donner : The Biography

Post by Paul Cooksey » Sat Aug 15, 2020 9:58 am

Arguably a memoir not a biography, but Evil-Doer: Half a Century with Viktor Korchnoi by Genna Sosonko is excellent.

Nick Ivell
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Re: Hein Donner : The Biography

Post by Nick Ivell » Sat Aug 15, 2020 10:05 am

Thanks Paul. And is there a biography of Karpov? Or is his stamp collecting considered less interesting than the bohemian lifestyle?

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Re: Hein Donner : The Biography

Post by John Upham » Sat Aug 15, 2020 1:05 pm

Nick Ivell wrote:
Sat Aug 15, 2020 9:48 am
Strange that we have a biography of him and not of Korchnoi, say, or have I missed something?
Yes !

See https://britishchessnews.com/2020/05/15 ... -korchnoi/


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JustinHorton
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Re: Hein Donner : The Biography

Post by JustinHorton » Sat Aug 15, 2020 1:21 pm

John Upham wrote:
Sat Aug 15, 2020 1:05 pm
Nick Ivell wrote:
Sat Aug 15, 2020 9:48 am
Strange that we have a biography of him and not of Korchnoi, say, or have I missed something?
Yes !

See https://britishchessnews.com/2020/05/15 ... -korchnoi/
Paul Cooksey wrote:
Sat Aug 15, 2020 9:58 am
Arguably a memoir not a biography, but Evil-Doer: Half a Century with Viktor Korchnoi by Genna Sosonko is excellent.
"Do you play chess?"
"Yes, but I prefer a game with a better chance of cheating."

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Roland Kensdale
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Re: Hein Donner : The Biography

Post by Roland Kensdale » Sun Aug 16, 2020 11:16 pm

Nick Ivell:
Thanks Paul. And is there a biography of Karpov? Or is his stamp collecting considered less interesting than the bohemian lifestyle?

Karpov wrote "Karpov on Karpov"
( https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/186 ... _on_Karpov ). Not the most exciting read. A highlight: he wrote that his mother was worried that he was playing too much and then noticed he was sitting quietly staring into space. She realized he was analyzing blindfold.

He always seems very controlled and has one eye on what the Soviet/Russian state will think of what he writes. He seems a more successful politician than Kasparov, also probably because he supports the status quo.

There was also 'Chess is my life' which I haven't read, copying Korchnoi's title.

Not really thought about the difference between a memoir and an autobiography in any of these works as Paul suggested.

Jonathan Bryant
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Re: Hein Donner : The Biography

Post by Jonathan Bryant » Mon Aug 17, 2020 10:51 pm

Roland Kensdale wrote:
Sun Aug 16, 2020 11:16 pm
Karpov wrote "Karpov on Karpov"
I bet he didn't. Not unless we're employing an extremely liberal interpretation of 'wrote', anyway.

I would 100% back the suggestion of Evil Doer. It's a great read. I'll get hold of the companion books on Tal and Bronstein too at some point.

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