"He Was Saving Money": According to Evgeni Vasiukov, Malnutrition Has Played a Significant Role in Taimanov's Crushing Defeat Against Fischer

Время публикации: 09.05.2012 22:47 | Последнее обновление: 09.05.2012 22:49

In an interview (in Russian) to Chesspro, the famous grandmaster Evgeni Vasiukov told about his work with Mark Taimanov and the ill-fated quartefinal Candidates match against Robert Fischer that took place in 1971:

"To start with, how I became Taimanov’s trainer. Mark and I have played in the International tournament in Reykjavik that was held in 1968; we, by the way, shared 1-2 place gathering 10,5 points out of 15. We got along in Iceland and established friendly relations. Right before the USSR Championship has started in 1969, the one that would qualify the participants for the Mallorca Interzonal Tournament, Mark and I have agreed that the one who would qualify for the Interzonal would take another one as a coach. Taimanov had luck; he defeated Lutikov in the last round’s puzzling game and we went to Mallorca. Taimanov’s performance in Mallorca was also successful, he shared 5-6 place with Uhlmann and won the right to play in the Candidates matches. So, just think of it, he’s opponent in the quarterfinal was Fischer, who has scored an excellent result in Mallorca gathering 18,5 out of 23 and easily took clear first leaving his rivals Geller and Larsen, they’ve shared 2-3 place, 3,5 points behind. 

Now he would face the hardest trial – the match against Fischer in Vancouver. Our preparation was very good, we’ve analyzed American’s 500 games. On the basis of this material we’ve composed Fisher’s creative portrait. Our characteristic of Fischer was approved by Botvinnik, who called it deep and correct. In short, I believe that Taimanov was well prepared for the match. We together with Taimanov went to Canada, I as a second and Yuri Balashov, who specially studied Fischer’s work, as a coach. The Grandmaster Alexander Kotov headed the delegation. 

The match has started. Taimanov lost the first game, the second game was adjourned in the worse position; but when the game was resumed we caught Fischer on a trick and the game was again adjourned in an absolutely drawn position. The day of the third game came. During the preparation I found an improvement in the variation of King’s Indian which has been played by Fischer. So, Taimanov got a comfortable position after applying it. We saw an almost knocking out move, but time passed and Mark didn’t play it. Eventually, tired of calculations Taimanov made a wrong move, Fischer intercepted the initiative and won the game. Taimanov was so depressed after this loss that blundered and lost in the resumed second game. The score of the match showed 0:3; and then it became a one-sided contest. Fischer grew stronger as the match progressed, while Taimanov had just thrown away his rook in the fifth game. As a result a whitewash - 0:6. Why did that happen? Of course, Fischer was much stronger, but as even he has admitted, the final result of the match didn’t illustrate the real correlation of forces. Taimanov had to lose, but not in such a crushing manner. 

A significant role in this fiasco played Taimanov’s malnutrition during the match, owing to which he just physically couldn’t stand the workload.  

He was malnourished because he wanted to save money in order to buy some things he couldn’t buy in USSR. As long as I knew that Mark had a rare appetite, I noticed that he was malnourished, so I told him that he shouldn’t be economizing on food, that it’s very important for being able to stand 5 hour tension during the game. Fortunately, we, the members of the delegation, received from the Sports committee of USSR the normal daily subsistence for those times – 11 American dollars per each, while Taimanov was getting even more from the organizer of the match millionaire Prentice, so he could eat properly, not denying oneself anything. However, he didn’t pay attention to me and continued saving. He never visited the restaurant of our 5-star hotel, which was one storey lower, during the match. Balashov and I, having a kitchen in our room, were buying all kinds of products in the supermarket and fed up excessively economical Mark. Does it sound like nonsense? Yes, unfortunately, that happened."     


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