101 ( +1 | -1 ) The value of materialI have reached the point in my chess career when to progress further I must learn to sacrifice material in order to gain the initiative, time, space etc. The problem is I can never seem to do this especially when there is no certain way to regain the lost material or mate the king immediately. Can anyone recall this point in their chess when they were having trouble "letting go of material" and tell me how they overcame that barrier?
One good example of this is in the Scilian Dragon when black typically plays the Rxc3 "sacrifice" in order to wreck the defences around the king. Before I play this move I am always hesitant: "What if he plays Kb2 and brings the Queen around from h6 to defend the doubled pawns? What if I cannot get the desired counterplay and white goes onto win with their material advantage? What if white's attack gets to my king before I get to his?
120 ( +1 | -1 ) I wouldn't say I've got this figured out yet. Positional sacrifices get into GM territory pretty quick.
In my case, I think I'm starting to catch on at least partly by trying to recover from my own mistakes. I've discovered how abandoning a piece or pawn that is probably lost anyway can give me valuable time to use elsewhere on the board. I've managed to save games after tactical blunders by attacking in a completely different part of the board.
In turn, that's helped me realize how valuable open lines and active pieces are, and how it's worth sacrificing material to get them.
A few examples from my games, please don't laugh too hard: board #5243293 Horrible blundering of exchange, saved draw via K-side blitz because opponent neglected development. board #5593614 Endgame pawn sacrifice. Saced one of two extra pawns to draw King away and achieve won position. board #5503547 Saced bishop for two pawns to expose castled King.
137 ( +1 | -1 ) I don't think I can be much help, since I too have trouble figuring out the value of the initiative and positional factors. I sac-ed the exchange once here, but I think it was a bad move. The most I can normally sac is a pawn, and even that is rare.
I think the key to learning is simply to try it out. You'll never fully understand something unless you experience it (I try to be a little wilder in blitz, but I don't really try it here). That said, don't go around sacrificing just for the sake of it (unless it's in our game :) ).
The biggest reason I'm making this post then is for this, which may have been posted before, but it's still a good read: -> mywebpages.comcast.net
While it doesn't really deal with sacrificing material, it does help you look at all material in a slightly different light. I hope others contribute more, as this is an interesting topic. Also, maybe check out some of Mikhail Tal's games. While you don't necessarily want to be sacrificing like him, you can see how he uses his extra space and development and initiative, and really makes the pieces he does keep doing more than his opponent's. If you even understand half of what he does, it should improve your game. Actually, that sounds like a good idea. I'm gonna look at his games myself.
76 ( +1 | -1 ) More uselessness :)Another thing that should help is to know some thematic sacrifices. Like -> en.wikipedia.org
Even if you don't achieve a position where these sacs work, you may see some variant possible on your board. Also, just trying to achieve that type of position gets you a good position, even if you have to keep all your pieces (pressuring the kingside that much can't hurt).
Similarly, check out lots of Dragon games where ...Rxc3 is played. Look at how it works out for black, and try to see when it should be avoided. The more you understand about why it works, the less scared you'll be about it failing when it shouldn't.
703 ( +1 | -1 ) IT's a matter of perspective.The key is DONT SAC ! "I have reached the point in my chess career when to progress further I must learn to sacrifice material in order to gain the initiative, time, space etc. The problem is I can never seem to do this especially when there is no certain way to regain the lost material or mate the king immediately." *** far1ey , Imo I think that if you are having trouble "letting go" it may be simply to change a matter of perspective to overcome that. We SAY we sacrifice, but I think the point of it all is To Never Really Sacrifice at all. And if you realize that you are Not in fact sacrificing, but GAINING, then why would you not logically do so? *** Consider a "sacrifice" to mate. What are you really sacrificing? If you can see a combination thru to mate, then of course you are sacrificing Nothing, no matter how much material you Expend. And that is all you are doing there, is Expending your available forces to eliminate Defending forces. So what matter the so called Value of any such trade in static numbers? None. Obvious? Certainly. But it is not just to Know it but to Believe it, and be able to trust your analysis sufficiently to that end. (If your analysis Cant be trusted to that end, there is probably nothing better than to Keep Doing It until you can trust it. For surely your understanding will gain with each incidence, even if you are not successful; & so you would know not to do it that way again. The alternative of course would be to become purely materialistic, and eschew all growth toward such attacks?! Sort of like staying in bed all day so as not to get caught in the rain, eh? :) Anyway, that being mentioned first, just because it IS so clearcut when you can see it all thru. So the next thing to note is that when you give up material for a less clearcut looking goal, still the object IS to never really sacrifice at all. Rather, still to be Expending material advantage/force for Other advantages. And even there, unless you are in a pinch and seeking a saving blow, Expending your material should give you Gain when you add the value of what you gave for what you will get. [And if your only goal for Expending your material were to Get Back the same material equality, with nothing else ... Why do it? I wouldnt, unless as said there is nothing better or everything else is worse. Or unless you Can come out at the end with material equality restored And a gain in position.] Suppose you never saw a Bishop before ... should you Expend a Knight for it? A Rook for it? You could not know. So likewise you need to be sure you are understanding the elements fully that you are trading your material for, and how to use them. Otherwise they are like trading for a piece you have never seen before. [and as above, study of Tal is one very good way to see how they Can be used. Also Bronstein, Velimirovic and many others.] So to know how to Value Activity, Mobility, Space, opponent Holes & weaknesses, isolani, etc, is all very important if you are going to walk a mile upon a path where you cannot see but the first 1/4 mile. The end outcome, via precise analysis. *** Something that really helps let go is Knowing the Path as far as possible. Your familiarity with a position/opening/gambit etc. I'm not afraid to give up a Goring Gambit pawn simply because: No One has Ever taken That One Pawn and carried it thru an endgame to beat me. Why would I worry to give it away? Likewise no one has ever taken that extra pawn vs my Morra gambit and cashed it in to Queen. I've Lost in both before, but only due to later errors. NEVER where I've just played with minimal error, yet The PAwn has given them the game. But in that Morra, I don't play it much now, from knowing that -I- usually wont win either against reasonably good play. It gets drawish if they dont blunder. The Goring, conversely, has tended to win more than its share. More than the Scotch Game, certainly. So besides the material question, it seems WT gets something a bit more there. When it comes down to it, that Something More can turn out just to be that ones Opponent will understand it insufficiently or be sufficiently discomfitted to put them in an error producing state of play. [A Chess Secret here; people Do Not play as well in positions that frighten, discourage, disgust, bore, or otherwise discomfort them :) ] The point there is Your Familiarity with those positions,can make such "speculation" only semi-speculative to you. As like a mating combination. And so the more familiar you are with use of the non-material elements in that type position, the better you will use them in a Similar type position. EG. "This game is like my Goring with Kasparov, EXCEPT FOR the difference in 'A' & 'B' , yet my experience in using A & B elements tells me the difference is insufficient to damage me, and 'C' here is better; therefore, I can feel safe to play this similar sac. " Surely we have all have Fischer say 'I usually sac a pawn such as this without thought' . Even tho he was by no means a Romantic player, rather oriented to winning & precision. But he has seen such positions perhaps to the point of boredom, and understands them fully. It is nothing but a matter of making the Right Move to him. Who of us would Think twice about playing 2...dxe4 after 1.e4 d5 2.h3?? Familiarity. See a Lot of those games. Study them or play them Unrated, or blitz games or any means to immerse in them until second nature. Because in the end, is it not a matter of saying ... How to Let Go of it ... Because I am unsure, Because I do not Know it well enough? For if we know it well enough, and know it sound enough, why anymore hesitation than to play that 2...dxe4 ? Unless it is a case of there being something Better that Expends no material to have. Well in that case, there is a judgement to be made. A GM will usually say they would certainly opt for a certain 1-Pawn Plus with Pull in an endgame over any speculative attack, from what I have read from them. Most anyway :) Yet many also say they would not give away a strong initiative in order to have a pawn up that cedes the initiative to the opponent. In such a case for us, it must come down to what our goals are. To WIN, then to play what we do best there. But to GROW, then perhaps to play there what we Need to learn the most. Alex Dunne said that the first step for a play should be to decide Why They Play. For money? Wins? Rating? Tournament Victories? Understanding? Etc. Then play with that in mind. The same can be applied to each game. Why it is being played, for such decisions during it. Anytime on venture a position that they Do Not understand fully, there is potential for growth in Chess. Granted that risk is not alway necessary. But if taken, and one fails even, yet learns to play it even a bit better, then that bit can be applied during every similar case in the future. Just a perspective ...
260 ( +1 | -1 ) Even before I see the name, I see all the text and know who's post it is :) But good stuff in there, so thanks for it.
I think that this game is very much related to the topic at hand. It's the last game I finished playing (against tag1153). I had the white pieces. Here are the relevant moves: 1. f4 d5 2. Nf3 c5 3. b3 Bg4 4. e3 a6 5. Bb2 f6 6. Be2 Nc6 7. O-O e5 8. Nxe5 Bxe2 9. Nxc6 Bxd1 10. Nxd8 Bxc2 11. Nxb7
The critical moment for me came on move 8. Well, I debated a bit on move 7 with playing 7. Ne5, with similar ideas as actually occured. But I decided that castling couldn't be a bad move and went with that first. Actually, let's go with a diagram with white to make his 8th move:
So, 8. Nxe5 wins a pawn and allows some simplification of the position (most notably removal of queens). As long as my knight could be extracted without further loss of material, then I would be a clear pawn ahead in what would otherwise appear to be a near equal position to me. This is the safe approach.
Alternatively, I considered. 8. fxe5 Bxf3 (so as not to lose a pawn) 9. Bxf3 fxe5 10. Bh5+ g6 11. Qf3 Nh6 12. Nc3.
Now, putting this into a computer shows that I chose some second-rate moves (for example, it likes 8...Be7). But the point is, it gives me around 3/4 of a pawn advantage before my 12th move, and that seems to all be from positional features (maybe it wins a real pawn eventually). And my 12th move, sacrificing the bishop, still puts me up by 1/4 of a pawn. White is developing a powerful initiative, with better development, the black king stuck in the center, weak black pawns in the center (or at least very vulnerable to attack), and lots of space behind black's pawns for white to occupy mostly with the queen (not the usual type of space advantage).
But the position is still unclear to me, and many deviations are possible. I realized though that white's positon would have been superior, possibly even worth ignoring the threatened bishop. But I was chicken, rather take the safe pawn than the unclear (to me) position that may or may not have involved a sacrifice. I wonder how others would have handled the position, and maybe if reading Craig's post before that would have encourage me.
I was so so so so tempted to play 37. b6, losing my queen for a rook, but getting those two passed pawns connected and on the 6th and 7th ranks. I knew it had to be winning, but I couldn't find any concrete lines that led to me regaining my queen. And so I played the safer 37. Qxc8. Even if Qxc8 is more correct, b6 is 10 times more fun and winning by nearly the same amount.
I thought it would be stupid to throw away a two pawn lead, and so without seeing a clear win I played the safer looking move. Should I have just had faith in the position, or should I instead work on my calculating power? Maybe that question applies to this thread in general.
Ok, I'm done posting my games. Hopefully they help, otherwise, back to helping far1ey
80 ( +1 | -1 ) A Year of GambitsWhen I was a teenager rated about 2100 OTB, I was primarily a positional player. I decided that I needed to sharpen my play to improve, so I declared a "Year of Gambits" in which I would play gambit openings as much as possible (couldn't make it absolute since it's hard to find a Black gambit line vs. openings like 1.g3 2.Bg2 3.d3 etc.).
To make a long story short, I lost to some players I probably wouldn't have lost to before and perhaps beat some I wouldn't have beaten before, but by the end of the year I had a much better sense of the value of the initiative and which sorts of positions were likely to give good compensation and which not (e.g. the Englund Gambit 1.d4 e5?!). So in the end I was a better player even though my rating might not have immediately shown it.
162 ( +1 | -1 ) Great question, far1ey!I'm right there with you. I have on my bookshelf, unread, Rudolf Spielmann's "The Art of Sacrifice in Chess". It looks to be exactly the sort of thing you're looking for. In the intro, he distinguished between "sham sacrifices" and "real sacrifices". The former are those where mate, material or clear positional gains can be calculated. Real sacrifices are....well, let Rudy tell it:
"In real sacrifices the player gives up material, but is unable to calculate the consequences with accuracy; he has to to rely on his judgment. He obtains dynamic advantages, which he can realize gradually. Should he not succeed in this, he will most probably lose the game through deficiency in material. Therin lies the risk, and risk is the hallmark of the real sacrifice."
He then goes on to catagorize the type of real sacrifices that he demonstates in the rest of the book:
1. sacrifices for development 2. obstructive sacrifices 3. preventive (or anti-castling) sacrifices 4. line-clearance sacrifices 5. vacating sacrifices 6. deflecting or decoy sacrifices 7. (castled) King's Field sacrifices 8. King-Hunt sacrifices
For each type of sacrifice there is explanatory text, and then a coupld of example games to illustrate. They are older games (the book was first published in the 50's) but it looks like a book that would increase your familiarity and comfort level with the subject. I also believe that there is at least one more recent text on the subject out there - you might want to check that out.
Thanks for the question - looking through Spielmann has encouraged me to move that book up on the list of classics to study in the near future! ws
20 ( +1 | -1 ) Thanks a lot gangstaman!!!!!!!!I'm pretty sure I had everyone convinced that I never lost! Now everyone will know that I'm not really a GM!
33 ( +1 | -1 ) tag1153But I purposefully didn't include the rest of the game! Now they'll be left wondering, unless of course they go to view the game themselves....
While you're here, I'm curious as to how you would have responded to 8. fxe5, and if you were at all concerned with my attacking chances? After all, since you're a GM, your insight would be greatly appreciated :-)
26 ( +1 | -1 ) gangstamanI probably would have responded 8...fxe5 and hoped to castle long. That game was a prime example of black getting wild to try to overcome white having the first move initiative. Good game my friend, and I hope to repay you:)
31 ( +1 | -1 ) Look for sac=look to loseYou cannot force yourself to sac. I would say that less than 2% of my wins were spurred on by a sac. I would hazard a guess that the same percentage goes at the GM, IM level. Lower level players the percentage would be even less.
Relax, study the positions and look for that sac LAST.
191 ( +1 | -1 ) There's a hell of a lot......to go on here. ccmcacollister's remarks are sober and sound, ganstaman notes several kinds of sacrifices, and fmgaijin's remarks about gambits reminds me of Paul Keres's similar recommendation as beneficial to the imagination. Sacrificing material to force mate, of the win of material subsequently, is considered by many to be not a real sacrifice at all. But sometimes there is an element of speculation in giving up material. Is the improved activity of your pieces worth the material invested? Can you exploit the time you have gained before the enemy can realise his material advantage? In a recent game against sago this endgame position arose: w How to realise the extra pawn? It's passed, and well protected - White has indeed a very fine position, but Black's rook's attack on the K-side pawns looks as though it will throw white onto the defensive. Rather than that, attack seemed to be indicated, involving the sac of 2 pawns: 29.Kc4 Rxf2 30.Kd5 Rxg2 31.Ke6 ... yielding this position with Black to play: b The active placing of White's king cost 2 pawns. Was it worth it? The fact is, this position seemed to me more comfortable than the alternatives - in other words, the decision was at least partly subjective. It was much easier to form a plan for further operations. Though a pawn down, it seems unlikely that white will lose, but, if the position at move 29 is objectively winning for White (and this ain't certain!) then maybe this continuation throws away the win. I was prepared to take that risk. It seems to me that Mikhail Tal's style reflected his awareness of the subjective elements of chess play. And, in its way, so did Bobby Fischer's. Cheers, Ion
180 ( +1 | -1 ) Speaking of subjectivity in chess...... was a reminder of a game many years ago in which the following position was reached after 36 moves: w The position was crying out for 36.Qxe6!, but, in fairly severe timetrouble, I couldn't quite see the mate that would have to be delivered if Black were not to be allowed to exploit his material windfall. So I baled, and won after my opponent blundered a few moves further on. But it ruined the game. Sometimes one has to go with one's judgement, even if one can't quite calculate the continuation. As it turns out there is a forced mate if Black takes the rook: 36.Qxe6 Qxg1 37.Qxf5+ Ke7 38.Qe5+ Kf8 39.Qe6+ Kf7 40.Qc7+! Ke6 41.Qe5+ Kd7 42.Qd6+ Ke8 43.Nc7+ Kf7 44.Qe6+ Kf8 45.Qf8# Fairly intricate manouevring by Q and N. Even with plenty of time, I doubt if I would have seen the mate in 9 (especially as Black has plenty of choice - though at the risk of shortening the game). So, objectively, 36.Qxe6 is a winning move. Subjectively - owing to my inability to calculate accurately, the move entailed a risk. All the same, I have ever since mourned the lost opportunity. What if Black didn't take the Rook? Well, White 'gets away with' a pawn - at the very least - which is fine by him. One thing about playing an aggressive style, with a desire to sacrifice pieces, is that one becomes attuned to possibilities that material considerations would rule out of court (indeed, that are invisible to one not willing to see past material considerations). Possibly there is a stage in one's chess development that seeks to overturn material considerations, not so much consciously to explore the potentials existing in terms of time and space - though no doubt that is where it will lead - but just to 'win against the odds', in a manner of speaking. Go for it far1ey! Your chess will benefit, no error. Cheers, Ion
45 ( +1 | -1 ) For a good time...check out the game Gelfand-Dreev 1993, which you can find here: -> www.chessgames.com
There are several sacs by both sides, starting at move 17. I find this game humbling and awe-inspiring.
Also, a great book on this topic is "Rethinking the Chess Pieces" by Andrew Soltis. But then I'm a sucker for anything by Soltis.
186 ( +1 | -1 ) That Slav, or Semi-Slav, line......seems to lead to fantastic games. Thanks, zenbum! Nearer to home, here's one from GK that begins with White stumbling into a true gambit line of the Queen's Gambit, and then it's all on. Enjoy: White (Me), Black pinkoy 1.c4 e6 2.Nc3 d5 3.d4 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.Qc2 dxc4 6.e4?! Nc6! White dumps a pawn for not much... Making a virtue of an oversight, you could call it a gambit! w 7.Nf3 Nxd4 8.Nxd4 Qxd4 9.Be3 Qe5 10.f4 Qa5 11.Bxc4 (gets one back, but we do have some attack potential) 11...0-0 12.0-0-0 c6 13.Kb1 Ng5 14.Bg1 Bc5 15.Qe2 e5 16.f5 Bxg1 17.Rhxg1 Nf6 (Not17...Nxh2 18.g3 or g4. But now it's a race for each other's King) 18.g4 b4 19.Bb3 Nd7 20.Qe3? (A blunder intended to keep the Bk N out of c5. It merely wastes a tempo...) 20...Qb6! 21.Qg3 Nc5 22.g5 Nxb3 23.axb3 Qc5 24.Rc1 Qd6 25.Rgd1 Qe7 w 26.f6 Qe6 27.fxg7 Kxg7 28.Rf1 Re8 29.Rf6 Qxb3 (...there goes another pawn) 30.Qh4 Be6 31.Qh6+ Kg8 32.Rg1 Re7! (A fine defence! Now White tries to blast open the Black King position with a rook sac...) w 33.g6 hxg6 34.Rfxg6+ fxg6 35.Qxg6+ Kf8 36.Qh6+ Ke8 37.Qh8+ Kd7 38.Qxa8 Rf7! A great defensive/counterattacking move. Owing to the threat on his back rank, White has to proceed carefully. All the same, the attack continues: 39.Qxa7+ Material parity at last!! 39...Kd6 40.Qb6 Rd7 41.Rd1+ Ke7 42.Qc5+ Kd8 (The Black c-pawn is taboo on account of 43.Qxc6 Rxd1+ 44.Nxd1 Qxd1+ 45.Qc1 Ba2+! Now comes a series of sacs and counter-sacs to finish the game: w 43.Rd6 b4 44.Rxc6 Ke8 45.Qb6 Kf8 46.Rxe6 Rd1+ 47.Nxd1 Qxd1 48.Ka2 Qa4+ with a draw by repetion of position. An ironic twist: White is a rook and pawn ahead... Cheers, Ion
35 ( +1 | -1 ) Relevant......to this thread is the finish of my other game against the same opponent:
ionadowman (Black) w pinkoy (White, to play)
Though I saw it coming, I just had to play it out: 36.Qxa7+ Kh8 37.Ne7! Rxe7 (What else??) 38.Rg8+ Kh2 39.Qxe7+ Bxe7 40.R2g7# Cheers, Ion
10 ( +1 | -1 ) Coyotefan's comment......calls to mind Xavier Tartakover's aphorism: "It's better to sacrifice your opponent's pieces..."
38 ( +1 | -1 ) Thanks...Thank you all for your help, I will most certainly try some "sacrifical" style play in blitz play only however...
Just on Coyotefan's comment, the first thing Tal actually does when he sees a position is look for sacrifices... But in general I suppose you are correct that looking for a sac immediately is wrong especially at this level of play.
147 ( +1 | -1 ) Try sacs in blitz play......for sure, but I reckon you ought to try them in other forms of play as well. But before looking out for sacrifices, look for immediate threats, what the enemy is threatening, and what you are threatening. Look out for standard tactical shots, such as skewers, double attacks (including forks and masked batteries), zwischenzugs and the like. I'll bet that at no time did Tal, as a matter of policy, 'look for sacrifices first thing'. Mind you, he did have a very quick sight of the board, so maybe the standard routine one ought to go through, as suggested by Dan Heisman in his 'Novice Nook" articles, was so 'second nature' to Tal that he wasn't conscious of carrying it out! You will come to experience, if you haven't already, the occasion in which the first thing you see is a sacrifice, or a some other decisive line of play. No doubt GMs experience this often: the instant the enemy completes some move, a complete and decisive line of play comes to mind at once. I can't figure out how it happens that one can spot in a split second a sequence of moves 4, 5 or 6 moves deep (of course, it won't have many side branches), but it's a gas when it happens! But it also comes with plenty of play - especially tactical play. Go in for sharp openings, i.e. gambits, and other openings that lead to lots of tactics. After a while - not even a particularly long while - you will develop an intuitive feel for tactical solutions to problems. Remember, intuition comes with experience... Cheers, Ion
29 ( +1 | -1 ) Remember most of Tal's gamesLIke most Iron Curtain games of his era were 'preplayed'. Just like WWE Wrestling, the games were rehearsed and studied before actually played. This does not mean they were bad games to study, just that they were not exactly on the up-and-up.
33 ( +1 | -1 ) Remember the last of coyotefan's postsLike those that were abducted by UFOs, like those who collect lockets of Bigfoot's hair, like those who take pictures of the Loch Ness Monster, well, you get the idea. There's simply no proof that "most of Tal's games" "were not exactly on the up-and-up." Or someone has been hiding it all from me.
59 ( +1 | -1 ) Preplayed?Certainly during the cold war era many of the Russian players agreed to short draws when they played each other. This widespread practice arguably helped feed Bobby Fischer's growing paranoid schizophrenia.
It's certainly conceivable that some of the lesser Russian GM's of that era "rehearsed" their games beforehand.
But "most of Tal's games... were 'preplayed'"? At first glance, that strikes me as utter nonsense. To my knowledge, not even Fischer ever accused Tal of such a crime. If there's any evidence to support this claim, I'd love to see it.
240 ( +1 | -1 ) Preplayed from 'go to whoa'??I doubt it. For some reason, Americans have been prepared to reach for any stick to beat the Soviets with, without being able to substantiate much. I recall from an Olympiad in the 1970s in which the US team accused the Soviets of doing a deal with some other Warsaw Pact country (or it might have been Cuba) when the result was 2-2, all 4 short draws. Then someone noticed something very interesting. The USA team had, in precisely the same round mark you, also scored a 2-2 result. Yep, all four games were short draws. It gets better. The USA games were shorter than the Soviet ones! Here's another, the famous Goteborg trilogy. At the Swedish Interzonal 1955, 3 Soviets (Spassky, Geller and Keres) faced 3 Argentines (Najdorf, Panno and Pilnik). All 3 games involved the same line in a Najdorf Sicilian, in which all 3 Soviets played the identical knight sac on move 11. A few years ago, I read as how this was an example of Soviet connivery. Well, actually, the plot was hatched by the Argentines the day before they were due to play the Soviets (it seems Bolbochan and Guimard were in on it) to prepare a surprise. Not noticing what was happening on each other's boards, though sitting together in a row, Geller, then Spassky, then Keres played the sac that led to a 3-0 whitewash. Nowadays it is known that the sac leads to no more than a draw. I gather that Geller and the others came up with it over the board. I don't doubt that Soviet players tended to go easy on each other in international tournaments. But that probably would happen, or would have happened, whether or not the Soviet Chess Federation had such a policy. It does make it tough for players representing their countries solo, such as Fischer (or Reshevsky, earlier). A hell of a lot of accusations have been hurled at the Soviets and Russians, none of which have really been substantiated. You don't get that strong by cheating, and many were the occasions in which the real strentgh of Soviet chess was revealed. My favorite was the eager anticipation with which the West awaited the first Olympiad after the breakup of the Soviet Union, with that Chess Colossus reduced to its contituent parts. But didn't the constituent parts do well! Russia 1st, Uzbekistan 2nd... the West, down the track... Ion