The 3 K’s in chess – why not the whole alphabet?

It’s well known that Kasparov, Karpov and Kramnik is the 3 K’s of chess. Kasparov and Karpov had their battles for more than a decade, then came Kramnik, and we could get the feel K was the letter needed to start your name to be the best player in the world. Add Keres and Kortchnoi, and you would get an unbeatable team of excellent chess players.

I was just playing with the thought, what if each and every letter of the alphabet got their team of chess players through history, at their very best, and given they would get all the tools needed to prepare with modern opening theory. We are here speaking of talent, including talent of working hard.

The rules are as in the olympiad: 4 players + 1 stand in. I do not remember enought players to fill in all the blanks, but it should do as a start. More will be added later, and of course, you can just add your suggestions in the commenary field!

A: Alechin, Anand, Aronian, Adams, Averbakh

A very strong team. Ulf Andersson from Sweden could perhaps be a better substitute than Averbakh, and I am not sure Adam qualifies for a seat in this strong team.

B: Botvinnik, Bronstein, Beligavsky, Boleslavsky, R. Byrne

The top tables are amazing, but then it gets weaker. Bareev should perhaps take the place from Byrne or Boleslavsky.

C: Carlsen, Capablanca, Chigorin, Caruna, Cheparinov,

Perhaps a bit patriotic to put Carlsen ahead of Capablanca, Carlsen has stilll something to prove. Worse is which player should join them? They could get lot’s of point on the top boards, just to lose on board 3 and 4. Chigorin is a strong  player from early Soviet time, he could collect some points. Caruna could of course be a great player, he just isn’t there yet. Chpearinov was a great talent, but seems to have stopped his progress a bit.

D: Donner, Dominguez, Dreev, Darga, Dvoretsky

Some less knwon players here. Dvoretsky is very good writing books, but his play is not as a great as his writing.

E: Mark Euwe, Eljanov, Ehlvest, Efimenko, Evans

The perhaps weakest and least acnowledged of the classical world champs, this dutch has done more to chess politics, than chess theory, perhaps. He was a very good leader of what today is FIDE, in fact perhaps the best ever to lead the chess world. So he could lead the tournament. Evans is the man of the gambit.

F: Bobby Fischer, Salo Flor, Fine, Furman, Fuchs

If only we could include Fritz in this letter. Or else Fischer can do nothing to make this letter the best, as he would insist it should be.

G:  Geller, Grischuk, Gligoric, Gelfand, Gushimov,

Some good players here, and hard to judge which one to play at which table. Boris Gulko should perhaps be included instead of Gushimov, I am just impressed by Gushimov lately.

H: Hort, Huebner, Hracek, Hodgson, Harikrisna

Hort and Huebner are players from the past, Haririsna is a temporary player from India. Soon can perhaps our Jon Ludvig Hammer come in on this team? As soon as he beats Harikrisna, he’s in.

I: Ivanchuk, Inarkiev, B. Ivkov, V. Ikonnikov, Alexej Ilusjin

Ivanchuk is a fantastic player, but he never made it to the title of wold champion. And the players to help him, won’t help much here. There are not many players starting with this letter.

J:Jussupov, Janowski, Jakovenko, Jobava, Jukhtman

It is a question which team Jussupov shall join, as his name is sometimes spelled with a “J”, sometimes with a “Y”, Yussupov. On the Fide list he is spelled with “J”, so here he is. He somewhat strengthens a team which will not fight at the top anyway.

K: Kamsky, Kalifman, Karjakin, Kazhimdzhanov, Koblents

The dream team of Kasparov, Karpov, Keres and Korchnoi with Kramnik as substitute is of course unbeatable. Arguably two of the greatest and longest ranging world champions in chess history, togheter with two of the best that never made it. A player like Kramnik don’t even qualify for the team. Kaidanov and Krasenkow also starts with this very, very strong letter.

L: Lasker, B. Larsen, Leko, Ljubojevic, Liljental

 Now this is a strong team. The psycological strong Lasker at the top table, the great Dane Larsen as second, and then a hard working hungarian in Leko. The great Ljubojevic from his hidays should also be able to get some points.

M: Morozevich, Mamedyarov, Movesian, Marshall, Murphy

I like Moro a lot, but he uses to lose playing skill against though opponents. Here he faces the thoughest opponents in chess history. Maybe he should be placed on board 4, as a tactic? Good old Murphy is included as a substitute. The great Brasilian Mecking is left out.

N: Najdorff, Nimsowich, Nunn, Nakamura, Nei

Here are the letter for the openings, and for chess books. Nakamura come in as a wild card on board 4.

O: Alexander Onischuk, F. Olafsson, Helgi Olafsson, M. Oleksienko, A. Obodchuk,

Not many great players with this letter. There should be a way to find a better player than Obodchuk, who lost badly (by taking a draw after 12 moves) against Gelfand in the world cup 2009, first round. Appart from him, the letter is made up by players from Iceland.

P: Petrosian, Portisch, Judith Polgar, Polugaevsky, Panno

The best defender in chess history joins up with the best attacker, and the all time best woman chess player. The great russian player Panov should perhaps be included in the team. The same could Ponomariov, but I think he still has something to prove.

R: Radjabov, Reshevsky, Ribli, Rubinstein, Rublevsky

Some very young and some very old, here. The set up of the team is not obvious.

S: Smyslov, Spassky, Shirov, L. Stein, Svidler

If any could do something with the amazing K’s, it would perhaps be the S’. Two of the great world champions joins with a lot of top class players, but none perhaps at the very peak. Steiniz could be another player to join here, but I think he is to early to join the list. He hasn’t the talent for hard work, needed. Sokolov could also be mentioned.

T: Tal, Topalov, Timman, Taimanov, Tarrasch

Tal is mine and many others favourite, but that is more due to excitement of play, than quality. He lead a very exciting team though, Topalov at his best was easily the top rated player in the world for month, he could beat anyone. Timman is the best dutch player of all time, and Taimanov is best remembered for having lost 6 – 0 to Fischer. He was a great player, also.

If they needed more players, they could use Torre.

U: Uhlmann, Unzicker, Ufimtzev, Mikhail Umansky 

The old german player can’t do much to save this letter. Umansky is a not very known and not very skilled (rating as of 23.11.09 2455, he is born in 1952), so he gets his place because there are not many good chess players starting with the letter “U” around. The letter is not present in Kyrillian. That explains a lot.

V: Van Wely, Vallejo-Pons, Volokitin, Vaganian, Vachier Lagrave

This letter won’t make it.

W: Wang Yue, Wang hao, Wade, Wen Yang, Waitskin

There are not many great chess players starting with w. They are saved by the chinese. Wen Yang is a less known player from China, but he is rated 2518 at the moment, and he is born in 1988. Waitskin is the american chess player best known from the Chessmaster series on PC, and also from the film “Searching for Bobby Fischer”. But seach a great player, he never was, and never became.

Y: Yusupov, Yermolinsky, Yudasin, J. Yakovich, Yu Yangui

Yusupov was a strong grand master at his best, but here he compeates with the best in chess history, and will falter. Yu Yangui introduced himself to the chess scene by beating Movesian in the first round of the world cup in Kanthy Manisk.

Z: Zaitsev, Zhong Zhang, Zhou Weiqi, Vladim Zvjaginsev

The chinese save this letter so it can come up with a team, at least. Russians and chinese make up the team.


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