Indeed the name Prokofiev needs little introduction, as one of the greatest composers of the twentieth century. However his connection to chess might be a little less obvious, even to the musically enlightened. As to David Oistrakh, he was one of the very greatest violinists, whose virtuosity ranked alongside Fritz Kreisler and Jasha Heifetz. Both of them were passionate chess players, though Prokofiev more than one would believe.
Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev, born April 23, 1891, died March 5, 1953 was a Russian composer, pianist and conductor who mastered numerous musical genres and is regarded as one of the major composers of the 20th century, which include Igor Stravinsky, and Sergei Rachmaninoff. Among his best-known works are the 3rd Piano Concerto, the third and fifth symphonies, as well as composed family favourites, such as the ballet Romeo and Juliet – from which “Dance of the Knights” is taken – and Peter and the Wolf. Sergei Prokofiev fell in love with chess at an early age, and during his lifetime never lost his passion for the royal game, befriending chess greats such as Capablanca and Alekhine.The composer met Alekhine in his native Russia in 1900 during an international tournament held there. Alekhine was a member of the organizing committee and Prokofiev had volunteered to accommodate the guests and the players. As the years passed, their friendship solidified. He met Capablanca in January 1914 in Petersburg where the Cuban champion was playing a series of simultaneous games. Prokofiev tried his luck and even managed to win a game!
[Event “1914 Tournament”]
[Site “St. Petersburg, Russia”]
[White “Jose Raul Capablanca”]
[Black “Sergei Prokofiev”]
1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 Bf5 4.Qb3 Nc6 5.Qxb7 Na5 6.Qa6 Nxc4
7.Nc3 e6 8.e4 dxe4 9.Bxc4 exf3 10.Qc6+ Nd7 11.g4 Bg6 12.Bg5
Be7 13.Bxe7 Kxe7 14.O-O-O Re8 15.h4 h5 16.gxh5 Bxh5 17.Nb5 Kf8
18.d5 Qf6 19.dxe6 Ne5 20.Qc5+ Kg8 21.exf7+ Bxf7 22.Bxf7+ Qxf7
23.Kb1 Rab8 24.Nxc7 Rbc8 25.Rc1 Re7 26.Qd6 Rexc7 27.Rxc7 Qxc7
28.Qe6+ Kh8 29.a3 Qc2+ 30.Ka1 Nd3 31.Rb1 Nxf2 32.h5 Qc6 33.Qf5
Ne4 34.Qxf3 Nd2 35.Qxc6 Rxc6 36.Rd1 Rc2 37.Rg1 Rc5 38.Rg6 Rxh5
39.Ra6 Nb3+ 40.Ka2 Ra5 41.Rxa5 Nxa5 42.b4 g5 43.Kb2 g4 0-1
Another great combination: Chess and music! What’s missing is the poetry! The closest I could get was the poem by Robert Frost. Please click HERE to read the entire article on Chessbase.
Fire and Ice – Robert Frost
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
You can read my entry on Dance of the knights on this link. The music is also the theme music to The Apprentice.
A young Sergey Prokofiev with his inseparable board
and chess books. [Image: chessbase]
Prokofiev in his later years remained faithful to his true love [Image: chessbase]