The Stanley Random Chess Files - No. 4

Obituary to a Brilliant Player You Probably Never Knew

Last time GM Topov interacted with what a contributor had to say about GM Nemovic's lack of source material for his comments on the legendary GM Antonio Pancris. He demonstrated that GM Nemovic also neglects to provide substantive evidence for similar comments about the German champion GM Otto Bolshnaut. He also introduced several other aspects of GM Bolschnaut's aggressive style of play. In this article he introduces another great SR Chess player, the Russian GM Victor Seignovich.

The SR Chess world recently mourned the passing of Mikhail Seignovich, at aged 74, the only surviving son of legendary GM Victor Seignovich. In tribute to Mikhail, here follows an obituary of his father, clearly a shining star in the history of SR Chess players.

The relatively unknown Russian champion Victor E. Seignovich (1909-1931) had a brilliant but very brief career. After a tremendous rise out of obscurity to become the Russian Junior Champion in 1926, and national champion just three years later, Seignovich did much to promote public interest in SR Chess by performing blindfolded simultaneous exhibitions. The most memorable of these was his 1929 blindfolded simultaneous exhibition in the Red Square during the national championships, during which he was seated on a post thirty feet in the air for six hours wearing nothing but a pair of soccer shorts, while playing a dozen promising young Russian players (the final score was 10 wins and 2 draws, one by an accidental stalemate). This did much to enhance the profile of SR chess in the public eye, although it did little for Seignovich's personal health, and may well have been a contributing factor in him turning to alcohol later in his life. An annotated record of these games has been preserved by Dr. Carroll Lewiston in his monumental "Standard Primer on SR Chess Gambits and Left Wing Sacrifices" (edited and published posthumously by his wife Alice with the help of Hattie Madd). Lord Foxton-Burnaby-Smith's 1956 publication "Mayhem of the Masters: A Retrospective Look at a Retroactive Decade of Russian SR Chess Dominance" also contains a selection of Seignovich's best games from tournament play (although strangely it includes neither of his remarkable wins with the black pieces against the American Thornton twins at the 1927 Brussels Invitational).

Seignovich was legendary in the Russian chess schools for his tendency to create unusual openings. The most famous of these was the murky h4 at the 1928 SR Chess Olympics, a stunning move which required his distinguished Austrian GM opponent to ponder for 45 minutes before resigning after seeing that the forced asymmetrical random reply of ...g5 would inevitably lead to a mate in 13 with the help of a loaded rook. The International SR Chess Federation made significant increases to the random factor of SR Chess in years to follow, to prevent such controversial openings. Despite these changes to the random factor, a study of Seignovich's early games is still an absolute necessity for any aspiring SR Chess grandmaster. Even today the lecturers at the "Taco Belle School of SR Chess" in Barcelona make Seignovich's openings mandatory for their students to learn.

The world will never know what Seignovich's true potential was, because he had to be institutionalized after suffering several embarrassing alcohol induced delusions. The worst of these was at the 1930 Hungarian Open, when he arrived dressed as a knight, and began eating his opponents rooks, apparently under the delusion that they were made of swiss cheese. Seignovich had earlier been incarcerated for an unfortunate incident involving a cheese grater and his neighbour's pet rabbit. He died just six months later at the tender age of 21, after choking on a golf ball which he believed to be a boiled egg.

Seignovich's impact on the game continues to be felt especially in the SR Chess Olympics hosted in Prague every four years, where the "Seignovich Most Beautiful Opening Trophy" is awarded to the player who produces the most caffeine inspired plus-minus performance of consecutive pawn moves. His widow continued to be active after his death for many years by selling SR chess memorabilia, and at one stage even modelled the famous propeller hat which has since been trade-marked by Sir Stanley himself. Seignovich's death is still felt by SR chess players around the world, and ever since his demise, few have dared perform simultaneous exhibitions in pole position while wearing soccer shorts for fear of the psychotic consequences that might follow. Nonetheless he will always be fondly remembered for his brash combinations of light and dark squared pawn traps, and his willingness to serve as a public advocate of SR Chess. A rook autographed by his wife continues to have a place of honour among my personal collection of chess memorabilia.

SR Chess GM Gregory Topov

GM Topov welcomes interaction and feedback on his articles about Stanley Random Chess.

Posted Monday - 2004-03-15 - 11:23:12 EST
by Staff Reporter Verdra H. Ciretop in Toronto
All Rights Unreserved - Loof Lirpa Publishing
Text may be freely copied & redistributed

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