Ah, there's nothing like the 100% faulty prediction, the prophecy whose absolute inverse soon becomes undeniable fact, the bland and blasé statement said in passing, proven by time to be both blind and deaf to the turning cog of history ---- nothing quite like it for raising a superior little smile, a smirking look backwards at a whole life overshadowed by a single quotation.
Chess of course has its own infamous one-liners. "He doesn't understand anything about chess," Botvinnik said of a twelve year old Karpov in 1964, or so folk-lore says. And now, flicking through one of the forewords to The Ideas Behind the Chess Openings by Reuben Fine just yesterday, I thought to myself that I'd just discovered another one:
chess theory reached its full maturity in the period from 1930 to 1945, and is unlikely to change any more.What moron said that!, I wondered. And when! Wasn't there a revolution in the 70s? The Hedgehog and all that? What about Kasparov raising the bar again and again and again? I skipped the page.
None other than Reuben Fine himself said it. In 1989. With a full view of most of the developments I casually supposed refuted his belief. Not so smug, so smurking, so superior now, eh? Quite the opposite... And not only that, it turns out that Thomas Watson was misquoted. Ah, happy Mondays.