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Lubosh – from Post to Post

The news section at the ChessBase website has this to say:

For…23 years GM Lubomir Kavalek ran a respected and widely read chess column in the Washington Post.

“Respected and widely read” doesn’t even begin to cover it. Back when I was a very active tournament player in the MD-VA-DC area, you couldn’t go to a weekend event without hearing everybody talking about GM Kavalek’s latest column:

“Did you get the answer to the chess problem in this morning’s Post?”

“Hey, did you read what Kavalek said about…?”

“Man, Lubosh’s analysis of that game was something else!”

Now maybe I’m just being a mid-Atlantic “homer”, but chessplayers around here weren’t reading Robert Byrne’s excellent N.Y. Times chess column — around here it was all about Lubosh. And I’ll tell you true, a lot of us weren’t Washington Post subscribers, either; we’d only buy the Post on days when Kavalek’s chess column appeared. If there was a major chess event going on (like a World Championship match) I’d even get out of bed a couple of hours early and run to the corner convenience store just to be sure of getting a copy of the Post so I could read GM Kavalek’s commentary. Lubosh’s column even made the Post’s front page a couple of times during “Fischer-Spassky II” in 1992. I don’t have any sales figures for that newspaper, but judging from the comments and reactions at weekend chess events I’m pretty sure there was at least a slight spike on days when the Post ran a Kavalek chess column.

That’s why I was genuinely thrilled when I received an e-mail from GM Kavalek a decade ago, back when I was providing ChessBase tech support for a U.S. software vendor. If I recall correctly, GM Kavalek was having a slight problem getting diagrams to come out just right, and I was more than happy to provide some pointers — especially after a simple question became a warm correspondence which lasted for a couple of years. Lubosh (as he preferred to be called) was more than generous with his time and thoughts, even telling me a few truly hilarious “behind the scenes” stories about some famous world-class chessplayers. I’d give GM Kavalek some software tips, he’d offer some chess advice, and we’d wind up swapping a whole lot of stories; after all, we were practically neighbors (we lived about ninety minutes apart although, sadly, we never met in person). Anytime I opened my e-mail box first thing in the morning and saw a message from Lubomir Kavalek, I knew it was going to be a good day.

I was truly shocked awhile back when, in a profoundly boneheaded move, the Washington Post canceled GM Kavalek’s chess column. It’s another of those inexplicable corporate decisions about which we’re always hearing. The Post’s chess column had won awards under Lubosh’s stewardship and was a sales draw for chessplayers around the MD-VA-DC area; plenty of us wouldn’t touch a copy of the Washington Post with a ten foot pole unless it had one of his chess columns in it (which today means, of course, that the Washington Post isn’t even a blip on my personal radar).

But my shock has now turned to joy. GM Kavalek has moved from one Post to another; the widely-read Internet news site The Huffington Post now carries a chess column written by none other than…Lubosh Kavalek. SUH-WEET! And get this: Kavalek’s chess column appears in the Huffington Post’s Sports section! That’s a nice subtle shot at the other Post’s Sports section, where Tony Kornheiser has idiotically been slamming chess in his own columns every chance he’s had for a couple of decades now.

So today I’m doing the happy dance. Congratulations to GM Kavalek on his new gig (I’ll be toasting you with a frosty one later) and hats off to the Huffington Post for making a really really smart personnel move. I’ll be a regular reader!

Rybka4 is here and shipping now! ChessCentral has extended the special sale pricing on Rybka4, so don’t wait — order today!

Have fun! — Steve


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