I was once a member of MENSA with a reputed IQ above that of Stephen Hawking. After the initial excitement had abated I realised that the only thing the IQ test measures is one's ability to do IQ tests. Often those who have a gift for this type of puzzle-solving are as stupid as stumps in lots of other areas essential to daily living - and I am one of those! Mind you, my ability to do these tests has waned with the passing of the years.
Anywho, chess. There have been many attempts to compare players from different eras in the quest for the Holy Grail of 'Greatest Ever'. All have been full of holes, and none have produced a satisfactory answer. Largely this is due to the fact that later Grandmasters are building on the knowledge base of their predecessors. Take Gary Kasparov back to 1920 (for instance), strip him of all post-1920 theory and see how he gets on against Emmanuel Lasker. The outcome? Who can say.
As an avid and competetively active player for over 15 years in my youth I have taken (naturally) a keen interest in the greats of past and present. Strangely enough, toward the end of my active period I found myself in total agreement with the sentiment of Russian Grandmaster David Bronstein. He delighted in the sheer beauty of the game, often giving scant regard to the result, and was equally attracted to a promising attack or a tempting defence (his words, paraphrased). Unfortunately the competitive arena is geared toward results and not creativity and thus often produces Masters of pragmatism who - from the spectator's perspective - provide less of a spectacle than hoped for (15 move sterile draws anyone?).
Over the years many, many times I have been left breathless by the giants of the 64 squares. From the delicate exacting endgames of Botvinnik and Smyslov, to the attacking genius of Tal and Kasparov and the purity of expression of Bobby Fischer.
Roll on the WCC!
“Not till your thoughts cease all their branching here and there, not till you abandon all thoughts of seeking for something, not till your mind is motionless as wood or stone, will you be on the right road to the Gate.”