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Old 06-26-2009, 05:07 PM   #1
perfidious
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Who's Greatest Player to Never Win World Championship?

It always comes down to one of two players, as many times as I've thought it over through the years: Paul Keres or Viktor Korchnoi, and I should mention that Korchnoi has long been a favourite of mine. For all that, in a vacuum, I still don't know which had the greater career-their records were staggering.

In fact, I'd rate both these titans ahead of two world champions, Max Euwe and Mikhail Tal. The FIDE WCs of the 1990s, Khalifman, Ponomariov and Kasimdzhanov, aren't in the same class as any of the above-named players, either.
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Old 06-26-2009, 05:33 PM   #2
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Re: Who's Greatest Player to Never Win World Championship?

Rubinstein certainly deserves mention on equal footing with Korchnoi and Keres. He was probably the strongest player in the world for awhile.

I disagree with your low rating of Tal; even if he was only World Champion for a year, he was something like top 4 in the world for ages. Very impressive.
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Old 06-26-2009, 06:04 PM   #3
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Re: Who's Greatest Player to Never Win World Championship?

Mikhail Tal was Very strong and would have been World Champion for longer than one year if he didn't get very ill. He was actually quite ill for his return match with Botvinnik in 1961. It was requested of Botvinnik that the match be delayed because of Tal's poor health, but Botvinnik declined to postpone the match opting to play the match as planned.

Keres and Rubinstein are both logical choices as they were probably the strongest player in the world at some point/s in their careers.

Another choice that makes a lot of sense is Bronstein who lost a WC match 12-12 on tiebreaks to Botvinnik. Botvinnik had match tie odds and thus retained the title. Pretty cheap imo.
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Old 06-26-2009, 06:09 PM   #4
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Re: Who's Greatest Player to Never Win World Championship?

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It always comes down to one of two players, as many times as I've thought it over through the years: Paul Keres or Viktor Korchnoi, and I should mention that Korchnoi has long been a favourite of mine. For all that, in a vacuum, I still don't know which had the greater career-their records were staggering.

In fact, I'd rate both these titans ahead of two world champions, Max Euwe and Mikhail Tal. The FIDE WCs of the 1990s, Khalifman, Ponomariov and Kasimdzhanov, aren't in the same class as any of the above-named players, either.
IMHO, clearly Korchnoi. If one wants to be quanitiative about this question, another player to consider ever since 1886 is Tarrasch. In the modern era, one could also consider Ivanchuk ( although it's not impossible for him to win the world championship one day; at least more possible for him than Korchnoi ). An interesting link is: http://db.chessmetrics.com/CM2/Summary.asp to see who are roughly the top ten historically.

Euwe's actual performance is almost universally acknowledged to be subpar for a world champion although he probably led a much more balanced life than most world champions. Tal was plagued by poor health and his performance wasn't much better than Euwe's, but I ( as well as many others ) enjoyed many of Tal's games.

About the "FIDE WCs of the 1990s", I think one of them has been bashed enough at another thread!
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Old 06-26-2009, 06:32 PM   #5
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Re: Who's Greatest Player to Never Win World Championship?

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Another choice that makes a lot of sense is Bronstein who lost a WC match 12-12 on tiebreaks to Botvinnik. Botvinnik had match tie odds and thus retained the title. Pretty cheap imo.
I agree with your high opinion of Bronstein. He also played a major role in the advancement of chess thinking with his advocacy of the KID.

Of course, I believe a certain Garry Kasparov once retained the title the same way Botvinnik did!
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Old 06-26-2009, 06:38 PM   #6
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Re: Who's Greatest Player to Never Win World Championship?

Bronstein, Keres, Korchnoi definitely the top 3. Probably in that order for me.

I don't think you can say Tal wasn't a strong champion. He wasn't just a hacker who lost his opponents in complications: he won more USSR championships than anyone else and set a record for most games without a defeat. Euwe maybe is a different case, but he beat Alekhine deservedly.

For a loose definition of "greatest", you could argue for Carlsen.
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Old 06-26-2009, 06:59 PM   #7
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Re: Who's Greatest Player to Never Win World Championship?

I just popped in to say

lol @ some non-WC being better than Tal.
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Old 06-27-2009, 12:30 AM   #8
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Re: Who's Greatest Player to Never Win World Championship?

Korchnoi without a doubt.
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Old 06-27-2009, 12:34 AM   #9
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Re: Who's Greatest Player to Never Win World Championship?

Looks like we've got it pretty well locked up. Every time I see this question on any forum, I always vote for Bronstein/Korchnoi. Those two are well covered above. Keres, also good. Carlsen makes sense, but kinda goes against the spirit of the question. I guess you might say Morphy since he was before world champions were determined. Admittedly he was a world-beater, so meh.
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Old 06-27-2009, 11:08 AM   #10
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Re: Who's Greatest Player to Never Win World Championship?

It´s not a single player, but more like a little group that would probably be picked out of the likes of Pillsbury, Rubinstein, Nimzowitsch, Keres, Bronstein, Leonid Stein and Korchnoi. Of course in the pre-Steinitz era there is Morphy standing out, although one could consider him a WC avant la lettre.

There are of course also a few who were world champion, but should never have become so, like Euwe, Kasimdzhanov, Khalifman and Ponomariov. If you cut out the "FIDE Champions", there is a fairly logical and direct lineage Kasparov-Kramnik-Anand, with Topalov unluckily falling out of the boat, but he´´ll get his shot next year.
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Old 06-27-2009, 11:12 AM   #11
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Re: Who's Greatest Player to Never Win World Championship?

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IMHO, clearly Korchnoi. If one wants to be quanitiative about this question, another player to consider ever since 1886 is Tarrasch.
He was trashed pretty thorougly by Lasker, although one could argue he was past his prime. But I doubt he would have beaten Lasker, even in 1898 instead of 1908.
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Old 06-27-2009, 12:51 PM   #12
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Re: Who's Greatest Player to Never Win World Championship?

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It was requested of Botvinnik that the match be delayed because of Tal's poor health, but Botvinnik declined to postpone the match opting to play the match as planned.
Nope, it was Tal himself who declined to postpone the match, see Life and Games of Tal. Botwinnik was actually prepared to postpone.
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Old 06-27-2009, 03:46 PM   #13
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Re: Who's Greatest Player to Never Win World Championship?

Bronstein for sure imo.

As for Alekhine v Euwe. Euwe didn't beat Alekhine, Alekhine beat Alekhine. But vice is a part of life and certainly no excuse for his defeat - just the reason.
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Old 06-27-2009, 03:58 PM   #14
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Re: Who's Greatest Player to Never Win World Championship?

In terms of influence I'd go for Nimzowitsch.
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Old 06-27-2009, 04:14 PM   #15
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Re: Who's Greatest Player to Never Win World Championship?

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If you cut out the "FIDE Champions", there is a fairly logical and direct lineage Kasparov-Kramnik-Anand, with Topalov unluckily falling out of the boat, but he´´ll get his shot next year.
Going back a bit earlier would you cut out Karpov on the basis that Fischer was the best player in the world and undefeated as champion?
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Old 06-27-2009, 06:10 PM   #16
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Re: Who's Greatest Player to Never Win World Championship?

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Going back a bit earlier would you cut out Karpov on the basis that Fischer was the best player in the world and undefeated as champion?

I think the comparison fails as during the ´reigns´ of Ponomariov et alia the ´real´ world champion was an active player. Fischer simply stopped playing chess after 1972. I´m sure history will treat the FIDE-champions as aberrations and regard the Kasparov-Kramnik-Anand line as the holders of the historical title of world champion.
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Old 06-27-2009, 07:10 PM   #17
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Re: Who's Greatest Player to Never Win World Championship?

Schlechter, Bronstein, Keres, Charousek, Korchnoi.... in that order. People either do not know about or seriously underestimate the strength of players like Schlechter or Charousek compared to the players of their era. In both of these cases, it was the illness and similar exterior factors that prevented them from having the championship (Schlechter, like Bronstein, actually drew the match against the then reigning champion, Lasker).
Korchnoi is impressive largely because of his longevity and stamina, not his absolute strength. In terms of his chess understanding, in my opinion, he is nowhere close to Schlechter or Bronstein.
Also, people belittling Tal in this thread are simply deluded.
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Old 06-27-2009, 09:58 PM   #18
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Re: Who's Greatest Player to Never Win World Championship?

Ah, the mythical "chess understanding." lolz.
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Old 06-27-2009, 10:39 PM   #19
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Re: Who's Greatest Player to Never Win World Championship?

Korchnoi was a great player.He just got into time trouble in some of his biggest games.I thought he had a brilliant strategic understanding of the game.

Nezh - You're right of course but I wonder whether Karpov was ever the best player in the world.In my mind Kasparov was the natural successor to Fischer.
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Old 06-28-2009, 12:56 AM   #20
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Re: Who's Greatest Player to Never Win World Championship?

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Ah, the mythical "chess understanding." lolz.
In my opinion there is nothing mythical about chess understanding. In one of his interviews (in the nineties I believe) Kasparov argued that there were only five active players in the world who truly "understood chess". According to Kasparov these were himself, Karpov, Anand, Kramnik and Ivanchuk. The rest, according to Kasparov, were better or worse wood pushers. He did not mention Korchnoi.
Cheers


PS: I have a USCF rating of around 2300, and if a grandmaster would tell me that I did not understand chess, I would be perfectly OK with it. What do you think is mythical about it anyway?
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Old 06-28-2009, 01:04 AM   #21
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Re: Who's Greatest Player to Never Win World Championship?

It seems like one of those abstract concepts that doesn't really have an accepted meaning. At least I never got what it meant.

I certainly wouldn't mind if a player far stronger than myself criticized my chess understanding. However, I doubt Korchnoi would be fond of having a 2300 player pass judgement on his!

PS Sorry if I came off as abrasive, not my intention.
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Old 06-28-2009, 04:50 AM   #22
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Re: Who's Greatest Player to Never Win World Championship?

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Originally Posted by damaci View Post
Schlechter, Bronstein, Keres, Charousek, Korchnoi.... in that order. People either do not know about or seriously underestimate the strength of players like Schlechter or Charousek compared to the players of their era. In both of these cases, it was the illness and similar exterior factors that prevented them from having the championship (Schlechter, like Bronstein, actually drew the match against the then reigning champion, Lasker).
Korchnoi is impressive largely because of his longevity and stamina, not his absolute strength. In terms of his chess understanding, in my opinion, he is nowhere close to Schlechter or Bronstein.
Also, people belittling Tal in this thread are simply deluded.
Cheers
Most interesting; while Bronstein (another favourite of mine), redoubtable as he was, didn't seem quite on the level with Keres and Korchnoi in terms of overall accomplishments, neither Schlechter nor Charousek would have occurred to me.

Schlechter's drawn match with Lasker in 1910 was a fine result, but I have a hard time making a case for him as even the fifth-strongest player of his time- besides Lasker himself, how about Tarrasch and Rubinstein, both of whose tourney results were better than Schlechter's?

When it comes to Charousek, it's a pity he didn't live to see his thirtieth birthday, for his style was interesting, but in the end, we're left not with, as I've seen it expressed, what he could have done or might have done, but what he did done.
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Old 06-28-2009, 04:51 AM   #23
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Re: Who's Greatest Player to Never Win World Championship?

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In my opinion there is nothing mythical about chess understanding. In one of his interviews (in the nineties I believe) Kasparov argued that there were only five active players in the world who truly "understood chess". According to Kasparov these were himself, Karpov, Anand, Kramnik and Ivanchuk. The rest, according to Kasparov, were better or worse wood pushers. He did not mention Korchnoi.
Cheers


PS: I have a USCF rating of around 2300, and if a grandmaster would tell me that I did not understand chess, I would be perfectly OK with it. What do you think is mythical about it anyway?
Not sure when exactly you mean by the nineties, I'm not familiar with the interview. But in soviet russia, you don't praise soviet russia defectors.
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Old 06-28-2009, 04:56 AM   #24
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Re: Who's Greatest Player to Never Win World Championship?

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In terms of influence I'd go for Nimzowitsch.
You can't say Nimzowitsch was not a strong player, but he was no where near world champion strength at any point in his career.
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Old 06-28-2009, 09:44 AM   #25
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Re: Who's Greatest Player to Never Win World Championship?

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You can't say Nimzowitsch was not a strong player, but he was no where near world champion strength at any point in his career.
He was third best behind Alekhine and Capablanca but he has also been a great influence on other players.
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