Max Euwe underated ?YES


Most of us have our ideas on who was the greatest chess player of all the world champions.However I think that many would agree that Max Euwe may very well be the most underated world chess champion ever.A close look at his games & the fact that he was not a proffesional player has to be considered .Max also spent months the first time preparing for the great Alkline.He found the Akline had to gain a advantage in his opening games or else he would have difficulties.Also Kasparov & Kramnik & Karpov to mention a few studied & found that the game play between the 2 was of the highest level & Alkline was overconfident before the first meeting. Max Euwe did not prepare as much as he wanted for the rematch being busy trying to raise money & giving chess demonstrations etc.A close look at Max Euwe life time record may surprise many.This man was a true & worthy world champion.What do you think about his place in chess history ? Max also was according to Korchoni the last honourable president of fide. What say you?


I made a few spelling errors typing in a hurry but I think any one can get the idea here.My regards to all

Fezzik wrote:

Nah, Euwe's not underrated. Kasparov wrote very kind words about him in My Great Predecessors, and just about every Dutch player will tell you what a great author Euwe was.

Euwe fully deserved to be the World Champion, but he is probably one of the two weakest match-play champions of all time, along with Spassky. At least Euwe was #1 in the world for a time, Spassky didn't even accomplish that.

Some of Euwe's amazing accomplishments include:

Becoming the World Champion Winning two World Championship games, back-to-back, in exactly the same opening! Being one of the best Presidents of FIDE ever. Being one of the best opening theoreticians of his day and revolutionizing how match-play openings would be played A systematic approach to chess that is still useful today

But I stand by my claim that he was one of the two weakest match-play World Champions of all time.

 Spassky in his prime was an hellaciously strong player. He had match wins over Keres, Tal, and Geller. He had a significant plus score over Fischer before their match. He did lose to Petrosian in their first match, but won their second to claim the world championship. Petrosian himself was a formidable player and vastly under-rated. No way was was Spassky one of the weakest world champions. He produced many brilliant games and won many tournaments. He handled Tal and the young Fischer relatively easily. He was at least the equal of Botvinnik, Smyslov, Tal, Petrosian, and Steinitz.


We are coming to get you Fezzik !

I think Spassky didn't have a problem with match results, maybe with tournament scores, but this could be explained by the fact that, when he was at his peak, even the top Soviet players could only participate in selected international tournaments.


Regarding the first match with Petrosian, Spassky was either literally starving during that match, or would have if it were not for David Bronstein inviting him to dinners. He definitely didn't have the money to pay his seconds.

The second match, when Spassky was in a better situation, was won rather handily.

If we look at the match with Fischer, Spassky was exposed to undue pressures, between the insane opponent on the other side of the board (who in a way was supported by the insane US government then) and the insane Soviet regime. He was the only normal person participating in that match, and of course he suffered as a consequence. He supposably had a team of helpers in that match; Svetozar Gligoric in his book observed that Spassky apparently did not receive notification about lines Fischer was known to have played previously.


Euwe had such a profound and clear thought process that it is the foundation of at least two great chess books by Adriaan de Groot and Dan Heisman about how to think about chess:

The Improving Chess Thinker - Dan Heisman

Thought and Choice in Chess - Adriaan de Groot  


this comparison  of chess players reminds of of boxing.would dempsey beat ali, jack johnson beat tyson? it is rare that 2 players meet at the top of their game. k asparov-karpov was a rare exception. think i would be happy to be a weak world champion at anything!


It's not for me to say who was the "weakest world champion of all time" and I don't think it is for you either. All world champions were much stronger players than either of us, plus we don't know enough about their historical circumstances.

Fezzik wrote:

Botvinnik (Successfully defended his title, lost it, and was the only Champion to regain his title)

Okay, since you are fond of quoting me, this is clearly incorrect. Botvinnik wasn't the only champion to regain his title.


I ask you to kindly relate to the well-documented fact that Botvinnik wasn't the only champion to regain his title.

The story of Spassky starving may not have been documented by Soviet newspapers at the time, and what was ? It is documented by his accounts. He had seconds helping him in that match but wasn't able to pay them.

Korchnoy's results were also certainly affected by external circumstances. Players don't usually peak at 45 +.


It's this:

But it was Smyslov who invited him to dinners, not Bronstein as I thought.


I still say Max Euwe ,was very underated by many & if Kasparov & Karpov & Kramnik & a few other GM,s said his play was top notch & Alakline himself said of Max Euwe that his abilty to understand every possible position was second to none.The chess giants are the expersts & I think they are correct.Max Euwe was no way one of the weakest champions .Don,t forget he was also the world amatuer chess champion in the 1920,s & holds the record for most tournament wins at 102 or more.Lot,s of good info on Max Euwe on Wilkepedia etc.check it out the man was a modest giant & really was not fully appreciated. Any way lot,s of good comment,s so far.Regards

soldierpiper wrote:

Max Euwe was no way one of the weakest champions .

 Who would you say was?  Somebody's got to be the shortest giant in the room.


Good Question ,I do not know  ... I will think about it .I stand by my opinion correct or not that Max Euwe was underated & was much stronger then most people think. I also think that computers may be the strongest chess players in todays world.That bugs me to admit that.haha


I see no reason why the computer thing bothers people.

Machines are better than humans at all sorts of things.  If they weren't, we never would have bothered inventing them.

There's not an olympic sprinter alive who can outrace a motorcycle.  There's not a powerlifter alive who can out-hoist a forklift.  There's not a no-holds-barred fighter that would stand a fighting chance against a tank.  But we don't think less of them because of this.  Human performance has inherent value.

Fezzik wrote:

See post #11 for your list of match-play World Champions who might be weaker than Euwe. I already stated that I think Euwe and Spassky are the two "shortest giants in the room".

 See post #20 for the original poster's strenuous disagreement with your already-stated list.

It seems he had the audacity to think your list might not be entirely authoritative, and dared to have his own opinion.  I thought I might solicit it.


Euwe was a great player, but not a dominant one, and I must concur with Fezzik that he was not one of the great match players.  He did indeed out-prepare Alekhine in their first match and revolutionize match preparation, but no one seriously counts him as among the all-time greats as a player or champion.

He was an outstanding author, though, and Judgment and Planning in Chess and (with Kramer, a regular cohort) The Middle Game in Chess Volumes I & II are on the short list of the absolute classic chess books.


Spassky was an early hero of mine.  He possessed an extraordinary talent for the game, but was not the sort to work at the game intensely.  He relied on his natural powers, which were usually enough but not always.

Boris was certainly better than Petrosian, but the Armenian was more tenacious over the board and both matches were more competitive than they ought to have been.  Fischer and Karpov overwhelmed him - he might have been a closer match for either of them, but wouldn't work that hard away from the board.

I remain a big Spassky fan, but have to concede that Fezzik's evaluation cannot be rationally disputed.


Soldierpiper wrote: Max also was according to Korchoni the last honourable president of fide. What say you?

What was wrong with GM Friðrik Ólafsson  his succesor? Wasn't he honorable? 


Spassky was never the world's # 1 ?!  I guess you mean by rating ?  If this is the case its not really fair considering he had Fischer to contend with and Fischer at 2780 in the early 70s was 100 points higher than Spassky, the world champ !  Surely Spassky was behind only Fischer in rating during his reaign as champion ? 

I would have to rate Tal below Spassky as a world champion. I mean afterall Tal only held it one year and then was smashed in the rematch by Botvinnik so Tal was basically a "one hit wonder" as they say in the song/music business.  Wink  Its also hard for me to imagine that Petrosian was ever #1 in the world by rating.... was he ? 


NM Reb asks: Its also hard for me to imagine that Petrosian was ever #1 in the world by rating.... was he ?

 Yes I read he was tied with Fischer at 2690, but this was prior to official FIDE rating lists which began in 1971. Sorry but I got tired of trying to find a reference for my alleged fact here, it could be in Arpad Elo's book The Ratings of Chessplayers Past and Present