Russian legacy to chess

Historical knowledge and information regarding our great game.
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JustinHorton
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Re: Russian legacy to chess

Post by JustinHorton » Wed May 23, 2012 2:29 pm

So the questions are:

a. why do we say something different to everybody else?
b. why does everybody else say something different to us?
"Do you play chess?"
"Yes, but I prefer a game with a better chance of cheating."

lostontime.blogspot.com

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Russian legacy to chess

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed May 23, 2012 2:57 pm

JustinHorton wrote:So the questions are:

a. why do we say something different to everybody else?
b. why does everybody else say something different to us?
Parallel development is a possible explanation. You look for the earliest examples of exchanging Rook for minor piece and see how influential authors described it. So the same game or concept was annotated as "Exchange" in English, but "Quality" elsewhere.

There's a piece by Nigel Davies
http://www.chessville.com/Davies/Sicili ... ngeSac.htm in which he quotes Larsen
although another author quoted an early Alekhine game where the Rxc3 Sicilian sacrifice had been played.

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JustinHorton
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Re: Russian legacy to chess

Post by JustinHorton » Wed May 23, 2012 3:09 pm

I got a bit further than that, but no further since. Anybody got 100 Soviet Chess Minatures?
"Do you play chess?"
"Yes, but I prefer a game with a better chance of cheating."

lostontime.blogspot.com

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Russian legacy to chess

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed May 23, 2012 3:19 pm

JustinHorton wrote: Anybody got 100 Soviet Chess Minatures?
Peter Clarke refers to quality as a "more apt" term.

If the term goes back in time beyond Staunton, is it not the same concept being independently established in English and French/German?

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JustinHorton
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Re: Russian legacy to chess

Post by JustinHorton » Wed May 23, 2012 3:45 pm

You'd think so, but partly what interests me is whether there's any record of anybody trying to introduce "quality" in English chess parlance, or "exchange" in anybody else's. And why those terms? There must have been a period of development, with different terms being tried out.
"Do you play chess?"
"Yes, but I prefer a game with a better chance of cheating."

lostontime.blogspot.com

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Russian legacy to chess

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed May 23, 2012 3:51 pm

JustinHorton wrote:You'd think so, but partly what interests me is whether there's any record of anybody trying to introduce "quality" in English chess parlance
Aside from East Europeans in the Master Game, I don't recall any.

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JustinHorton
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Re: Russian legacy to chess

Post by JustinHorton » Wed May 23, 2012 3:53 pm

I think we'd be looking at a period a touch before our time...
"Do you play chess?"
"Yes, but I prefer a game with a better chance of cheating."

lostontime.blogspot.com

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: Russian legacy to chess

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Wed May 23, 2012 7:09 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:
JustinHorton wrote: Anybody got 100 Soviet Chess Minatures?
Peter Clarke refers to quality as a "more apt" term.

If the term goes back in time beyond Staunton, is it not the same concept being independently established in English and French/German?
Is that a quote? I have '100 Soviet Chess Minatures' (somewhere), is there much to look up? Pages of text or just a few comments? And what is the term for 'exchange' (literal translation) in French and German? (French: échange; German: austausch). Is there a reason they would have avoided that term and come up with a different one? Is it too close to the word for 'capture' for instance?

Oh, see this old thread for more:

http://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=566

'Exchange, quality and PH Clarke's 100 Soviet Chess Minatures' (December 2008)

Bit of a temporal echo there from the first post, mind...

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Re: Russian legacy to chess

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed May 23, 2012 7:27 pm

Christopher Kreuzer wrote: Is that a quote? I have '100 Soviet Chess Minatures' (somewhere), is there much to look up? P
The exact quote is in the old thread. The book has a page to introduce every section, the quote comes from the section on Rook for minor piece sacrifices. English usage seems to go back to the very first chess books.

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JustinHorton
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Re: Russian legacy to chess

Post by JustinHorton » Wed May 23, 2012 9:44 pm

Christopher Kreuzer wrote:Oh, see this old thread for more:

http://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=566

'Exchange, quality and PH Clarke's 100 Soviet Chess Minatures' (December 2008)
Heh. I have no memory at all. I bet I ask again in a couple of years.
"Do you play chess?"
"Yes, but I prefer a game with a better chance of cheating."

lostontime.blogspot.com

George Szaszvari
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Re: Russian legacy to chess

Post by George Szaszvari » Thu May 24, 2012 6:28 am

Paul McKeown wrote:
George Szaszvari wrote:Perhaps Russian doesn't lend itself to having loan words so readily accepted into English as happens with other European languages.
That can't be right. Vodka is one that springs to mind immediately. Never mind bliny, apparatchik, zek, Bolshevik, Menshevik, Kolkhoz, babushka, Gulag, mammoth, pogrom, ruble, kulak, tsar, Kalashnikov, tokomak, beluga, dacha, raskol, ukase, stakhanovite, oprichniki, cheka, KGB, Sputnik, tundra, banya.

I'm sure others could expand this list without trying hard at all.

The English language vocabulary for chess doesn't include lots of Russian words, simply because whilst the vocabulary was being established, Russia had nothing to give. The big exception until the mid twentieth century was "Petroff's defence". After that, naturally, lots of openings have received names of Russian origin, such as "Sveshnikov variation", "Chelyabinsk variation", "Kalashnikov variation", "Voronezh variation", "Panov attack", etc. One word that has achieved a certain vogue is "tabiya". That is an Arabic word, but I think it's current English usage as a standard position from an opening variation has arisen from its use in Russian. Previously it wasn't much used and would have been used in connection with the ancient Arabic chess literature.
Yes, I did notice your original conclusion, completely plausible, but it just seemed so disappointingly final that I wanted to explore the intriguing question just a bit further as devil's advocate, even if it does mean wandering up some dead ends. That there are zillions of Russian names connected to opening systems/variations means that there is a huge Russian contribution in that respect, and the fact that you are obviously quite right about the wide non-chess Russian vocabulary that has come into English usage only encourages me to believe that Russian must have given even more, specifically in the "idea" kind of term or expression in chess, just like the "tabiya" example. Unfortunately, my chess library is now just a handful of rarely looked at books, but I still have an old favorite, Bob Wade's "Soviet Chess", in which some opening paragraphs (Early Russian Chess chapter) describe how archaeological evidence suggests that chess had already widely spread into Russia by the 10th century AD via trade routes, etc, from cultures to the south, with a reference to the game in the Kornchaya, an early 13th century book of church rules. Then he mentions 16th, 17th and 18th century foreign references about the Russian preoccupation with chess and the excellence of their skill at playing the game. Although Bob writes that early information is sketchy and obscure without game examples, it does suggest to me that Russians were already making an impression outside their own sphere of influence, and that chess was of some kind of cultural importance before the late 19th century. Now, it is just possible that Russian terms and expressions were far more prolific closer to home as part of a common chess vernacular, in surrounding cultures (as well as inside the Russian empire) during past centuries but that literacy issues, commercial and cultural dominance, and even racism (recall the western critic's comment on hearing the debut of Tschaikovsky's violin concerto being "odiously Russian") played a part...

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Re: Russian legacy to chess

Post by John McKenna » Thu May 24, 2012 11:47 am

J. Foley >... On the obverse... Are there any (English) chess expressions which have become standard in any other languages?<
Exports to Russia -
bulletin (Shakmatny Byulletin)
candidates' tournament (turnir pretendentov - tourney of pretenders)
compensation for material (kompensatsiya za materialno)
championship (chempionat)
with attack/initiative (atakoi/initsiativoi)
centre, diagonal & line (sentr, diagonal & liniya)
flank (korolevski flang - king's side)
match (match)
&, not chess, station (voksal!?)
To find a for(u)m that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now. (Samuel Beckett)

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Re: Russian legacy to chess

Post by Paul McKeown » Thu May 24, 2012 11:55 am

George,

Chess arrived in Russia by 1150 according to Murray, iirc, and quoting Eales, "while Russian historians have claimed very early dates for the introduction of the game there (Savenkov in 1905 tried to push this back to the fifth or sixth century), confirmatory evidence is lacking before the twelfth or thirteenth centuries." Chess was certainly present during western Europe's mediaeval period, but there was little cultural contact between Russia and the west until much later. My impression is, for example, that Ivan the Terrible's famous correspondence with England's Elizabeth, was the first notable official contact between the two countries. Although I may be wrong in that detail, I don't think it wildly inaccurate to say that contacts between Russia and the western world were minimal until the Renaissance period, and even beyond. Peter the Great even moved the country's capital to the shores of the Baltic in order to strengthen contacts with the west.

By the way, yet another Russian import into English: bolshy!

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Re: Russian legacy to chess

Post by Paul McKeown » Thu May 24, 2012 12:15 pm

John McKenna wrote:J. Foley >... On the obverse... Are there any (English) chess expressions which have become standard in any other languages?<
Exports to Russia -
bulletin (Shakmatny Byulletin)
candidates' tournament (turnir pretendentov - tourney of pretenders)
compensation for material (kompensatsiya za materialno)
championship (chempionat)
with attack/initiative (atakoi/initsiativoi)
centre, diagonal & line (sentr, diagonal & liniya)
flank (korolevski flang - king's side)
match (match)
&, not chess, station (voksal!?)
Yes, Vauxhall is the Russian for station. Do you really propose that all these words/phrases entered Russian explicitly through English, and the words were not present in Russian before their adoption into the Russian chess lexicon? For example центр could have been adopted from the French as readily as from the English. And I think it has been used in Russian for much longer than its use as a chess term. Isn't it just a really normal everyday Russian word?

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Re: Russian legacy to chess

Post by John McKenna » Thu May 24, 2012 1:05 pm

Paul, 'tourney of pretenders' is undoubtedly from the English as a 'Candidates' tournament' is modern - (though English itself is, of course, full of words of French origin, e.g. tournament).
Bulletin is French in origin and may have passed directly into Russian since the Russian 'intelligentsia' (itself a Russian import into English) were Francophiles/phones until Napoleon's invasion in the 19th c.
'Flank' & 'match' are English. The other expressions could be from the French but it's unclear (neyasnaya).
Last edited by John McKenna on Fri May 25, 2012 5:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
To find a for(u)m that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now. (Samuel Beckett)

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