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If you were the best player in the world, would you give up the chance at the World Title to pursue your vocation?
Tarrasch may have been the best player in the world in the early 1890s. He scored heavily against the aging Steinitz in tournaments, (+3-0=1), but refused an opportunity to challenge for the world title in 1892 because of the demands of his medical practice.
He was on Bobby Fischer's Top 10 World's Best Players List. Bobby called him "Razor-sharp, he always followed his own rules. In spite of devotion to his own supposedly scientific method, his play was often witty and bright."
The list: Alexander Alekhine, José Capablanca, Paul Morphy, Samuel Reshevsky, Boris Spassky, Howard Staunton, Wilhelm Steintz, Mikhail Tal, Siegbert Tarrasch, and Mikhail Tchigorin.
Siegbert Tarrasch - 1862 - 1934
A game between Tarrasch and Reti can be seen at: www.chess.com/blog/Reshevskys_Revenge
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