I want to start a drive to get Mir Sultan Khan awarded the GM title posthumously

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  • I want to start a drive to get Mir Sultan Khan awarded the GM title posthumously

    Usually I only come on chesstalk to heap praise or bitter criticism but not today! I need your help.

    I have been given this idea from a Bulgarian chess friend named 'Boris' that Mir Sultan Khan, the East Indian slave who took the chess world by storm between 1929-33, is long overdue to be awarded the GM title. Traveling with his English 'master' to London and later Europe Khan was unable to even read English notation and had grown up playing Indian chess with different rules regarding pawn promotion and stalemate.

    He was acquired and taught European chess then taken to London, England in the Spring of 1929. His 2nd tournament in London was the British Championship and he won! Over 5 years Mir Sultan Khan went on to win the British Championship 3 times in 4 tries, played 1st board for England 3 times at the Olympiad and beat many of the top players in the world at the time including Capablanca.

    In 1933 Khan went back to India with his master. He is known to have played one match in India, yielding a draw in 10 games. He was never heard from in the chess world again.

    The pressure of playing under such conditions, knowing you were purchased for this reason, must have been unbearable. He was also sick often being a slight man and from a tropical locale.

    In 1950 when FIDE began awarding GM and IM titles Khan had not played long enough to qualify and was given no title. Others who were much weaker but had strong careers years earlier were given titles.

    I promised my friend 'Boris' I would make some effort to get the idea out there. Maybe there are more important people than me who would like to see Mir Sultan Khan recognized for his contributions to chess and for the rightful title he would have earned.

    I'm nobody so no one will listen to me. I can barely get cars to stop for me at red lights! But I would like to use the timing to put a motion forward to candidates of the FIDE presidency to posthumously award Mir Sultan Khan the FIDE Grandmaster title. I will post a similar thread in other places and on my twitter and youtube channel. If I think people will respond positively I can start a facebook page or an online petition and try to get a few hundred or even thousand names on it.

    Even if you're not keen on the idea I hope you will check out the life and games of Mir Sultan Khan, one of the greatest natural players of all time!

    Probably Sultan Khan's most famous game is his win as White against Capablanca at Hastings 1930–31:
    1.Nf3 Nf6 2.d4 b6 3.c4 Bb7 4.Nc3 e6 5.a3 d5 6.cxd5 exd5 7.Bg5 Be7 8.e3 0-0 9.Bd3 Ne4 10.Bf4 Nd7 11.Qc2 f5 12.Nb5 Bd6 13.Nxd6 cxd6 14.h4 Rc8 15.Qb3 Qe7 16.Nd2 Ndf6 17.Nxe4 fxe4 18.Be2 Rc6 19.g4 Rfc8 20.g5 Ne8 21.Bg4 Rc1 22.Kd2 R8c2 23.Qxc2 Rxc2 24.Kxc2 Qc7 25.Kd2 Qc4 26.Be2 Qb3 27.Rab1 Kf7 28.Rhc1 Ke7 29.Rc3 Qa4 30.b4 Qd7 31.Rbc1 a6 32.Rg1 Qa4 33.Rgc1 Qd7 34.h5 Kd8 35.R1c2 Qh3 36.Kc1 Qh4 37.Kb2 Qh3 38.Rc1 Qh4 39.R3c2 Qh3 40.a4 Qh4 41.Ka3 Qh3 42.Bg3 Qf5 43.Bh4 g6 44.h6 Qd7 45.b5 a5 46.Bg3 Qf5 47.Bf4 Qh3 48.Kb2 Qg2 49.Kb1 Qh3 50.Ka1 Qg2 51.Kb2 Qh3 52.Rg1 Bc8 53.Rc6 Qh4 54.Rgc1 Bg4 55.Bf1 Qh5 56.Re1 Qh1 57.Rec1 Qh5 58.Kc3 Qh4 59.Bg3 Qxg5 60.Kd2 Qh5 61.Rxb6 Ke7 62.Rb7 Ke6 63.b6 Nf6 64.Bb5 Qh3 65.Rb8 1–0
    Attached Files

  • Jack Maguire
    replied
    Re: Sultan Khan

    'The Times of India' today features Mir Sultan Khan, whom they feel is not only a GM, but one of the all time greats. The Reuben Fine story also highlights Khan's "grand master" status.

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/h...w/50701599.cms

    Leave a comment:


  • Frank Dixon
    replied
    Re: Sultan Khan

    Replying to Steve Douglas:
    Gathering a few more interesting points for this case:

    1) Reading the book "The World Chess Championship: A History", by IM Al Horowitz (Macmillan, 1973), the author states that when the Interzonal tournaments got started in 1948, and for a few years afterwards, the state of chess organization in Australasia was virtually non-existent.

    2) The Wikipedia article on Sultan Khan is quite good. It states that he moved back to his ancestral region following the death of his 'owner'. That was actually in the western part of newly constituted Pakistan, which had been formed after the 1947 breakup of what was then known as 'British India' into the two new countries of India and Pakistan.

    This colonial breakup was a very disorganized episode, where literally millions of people were moving, a lot of loss of life and property, and enormous chaos, over a period of several years. India, a mainly Hindu nation, and Pakistan, a mainly Muslim nation, have never gotten along particularly well at any time since, and have a long-standing border dispute over Kashmir.

    My guess from the information supplied in various sources is that Sultan Khan was a Muslim.

    All of these factors, and my conjecture that the British Chess Federation were not keen in 1950 to go to bat for an expatriate Muslim to get the GM title at a time when NONE of their own players were remotely close to that standard, contributes further to the buildup of factors against Sultan Khan then.

    Sultan Khan fell through the cracks of the system. The same thing happened to Arthur Dake, who finally got his deserved GM title in the 1980s, 50 years after his dominant 1930s play, through the efforts of GM Arnold Denker. Dake was still alive at that time. That is NOT the case for Sultan Khan now.

    The Sultan Khan case has been extensively debated by FIDE. He was clearly deserving of the GM title, no doubt about that. But bureaucratic mountains can be very tough to move.

    Leave a comment:


  • Frank Dixon
    replied
    Re: Sultan Khan

    Replying to Steve Douglas:
    Gathering a few more interesting points for this case:

    1) Reading the book "The World Chess Championship: A History", by IM Al Horowitz (Macmillan, 1973), the author states that when the Interzonal tournaments got started in 1948, and for a few years afterwards, the state of chess organization in Australasia was virtually non-existent.

    2) The Wikipedia article on Sultan Khan is quite good. It states that he moved back to his ancestral region following the death of his 'owner'. That was actually in the western part of newly constituted Pakistan, which had been formed after the 1947 breakup of what was then known as 'British India' into the two new countries of India and Pakistan.

    This colonial breakup was a very disorganized episode, where literally millions of people were moving, a lot of loss of life and property, and enormous chaos, over a period of several years. India, a mainly Hindu nation, and Pakistan, a mainly Muslim nation, have never gotten along particularly well at any time since, and have a long-standing border dispute over Kashmir.

    My guess from the information supplied in various sources is that Sultan Khan was a Muslim.

    All of these factors, and my conjecture that the British Chess Federation were not keen in 1950 to go to bat for an expatriate Muslim to get the GM title at a time when NONE of their own players were remotely close to that standard, contributes further to the buildup of factors against Sultan Khan then.

    Sultan Khan fell through the cracks of the system. The same thing happened to Arthur Dake, who finally got his deserved GM title in the 1980s, 50 years after his dominant 1930s play, through the efforts of GM Arnold Denker. Dake was still alive at that time. That is NOT the case for Sultan Khan now.

    The Sultan Khan case has been extensively debated by FIDE. He was clearly deserving of the GM title, no doubt about that. But bureaucratic mountains can be very tough to move.

    Leave a comment:


  • Steve Douglas
    replied
    Re: Sultan Khan

    Originally posted by Frank Dixon View Post
    My solution is to have FIDE create an entirely new title for this sort of case, a Posthumous Grand Master (PGM). If they get around to that, then players such as the late IM Fedor Bohatirchuk would also be worthy, as he failed to get GM recognition due to political reasons. Then there are less known cases such as Boris Werlinsky, Lev Aronin and probably a few more Soviets. :)
    Hi Frank:

    The chessmetrics links were fairly compelling as to Khan's playing strength. Is there any reason though why a PGM title should be necessary rather than just having some sort of review committee (which you would need in any case) just awarding the GM title. The record would show his lifespan and when he was awarded the title. I'm just asking, why create a separate title?

    Steve

    Leave a comment:


  • Frank Dixon
    replied
    Re: Sultan Khan

    Sultan Khan was likely the most qualified non-recipient of the GM title in 1950, and this was the case until his death in 1966. He had been a true world-class player during his relatively brief competitive chess career. :)

    It was probably a case of lack of action by chess federations, with perhaps some bureaucratic wrangling thrown in. He had been retired from competitive chess for many years by 1950, but so had a player such as Oldrich Duras, who was still alive in 1950 and received the GM title then. Akiba Rubinstein also got the GM title then, well deserved of course, but had been retired for many years by 1950.

    Sultan Khan played for Britain in Olympiads. He was originally from India. In 1950, the new nation of India, where he was then living, had just been created as an independent country, obtaining self-government from Britain in 1947. Perhaps the Indian Chess Federation wasn't operational to the level of taking up this problem with FIDE. Obviously, the British Chess Federation didn't make the case for Sultan Khan either.

    My solution is to have FIDE create an entirely new title for this sort of case, a Posthumous Grand Master (PGM). If they get around to that, then players such as the late IM Fedor Bohatirchuk would also be worthy, as he failed to get GM recognition due to political reasons. Then there are less known cases such as Boris Werlinsky, Lev Aronin and probably a few more Soviets. :)

    Leave a comment:


  • Frank Dixon
    replied
    Re: Sultan Khan

    Sultan Khan was likely the most qualified non-recipient of the GM title in 1950, and this was the case until his death in 1966. He had been a true world-class player during his relatively brief competitive chess career. :)

    It was probably a case of lack of action by chess federations, with perhaps some bureaucratic wrangling thrown in. He had been retired from competitive chess for many years by 1950, but so had a player such as Oldrich Duras, who was still alive in 1950 and received the GM title then. Akiba Rubinstein also got the GM title then, well deserved of course, but had been retired for many years by 1950.

    Sultan Khan played for Britain in Olympiads. He was originally from India. In 1950, the new nation of India, where he was then living, had just been created as an independent country, obtaining self-government from Britain in 1947. Perhaps the Indian Chess Federation wasn't operational to the level of taking up this problem with FIDE. Obviously, the British Chess Federation didn't make the case for Sultan Khan either.

    My solution is to have FIDE create an entirely new title for this sort of case, a Posthumous Grand Master (PGM). If they get around to that, then players such as the late IM Fedor Bohatirchuk would also be worthy, as he failed to get GM recognition due to political reasons. Then there are less known cases such as Boris Werlinsky, Lev Aronin and probably a few more Soviets. :)

    Leave a comment:


  • Dan Scoones
    replied
    Re: Sultan Khan

    Follow this link to Jeff Sonas's Chessmetrics page and click on Su to find Sultan Khan's results curve. A grandmaster for sure.

    [/URL][http://www.chessmetrics.com/cm/CM2/FindPlayer.asp[/URL]

    Leave a comment:


  • Dan Scoones
    replied
    Re: Sultan Khan

    Here is Jeff Sonas's analysis of Sultan Khan's career results. Rather persuasive, I should say.

    http://www.chessmetrics.com/cm/CM2/P...00000028310100

    Leave a comment:


  • Tom O'Donnell
    replied
    Re: Sultan Khan

    http://en.chessbase.com/post/compute...ongest-player-

    Not exactly what you are looking for, but it's a start.

    Leave a comment:


  • Vlad Dobrich
    replied
    Re: Sultan Khan

    It should be possible to create a computer program that would rate the playing strength of both players in a game and then arrive at an Elo rating for each player. This should now be doable as there are programs that evaluate plays up to the 3500 rating level.
    Repeating the process for a large number of games should give a very accurate rating for the player, dead or alive. There must be millions of games available in chess datebases with which to hone the accuracy of the program.
    Is it possible that such a program already exists? Then we could know the ratings of Morphy, Lasker, Capablanca, etc.
    Such a result could well be the best argument when awarding posthumous titles.
    Last edited by Vlad Dobrich; Monday, 21st December, 2015, 06:24 PM.

    Leave a comment:


  • Wayne Komer
    replied
    Re: Sultan Khan

    Sultan Khan

    December 21, 2015

    There is an excellent little article about Sultan Khan at a Kazakhstani site:

    http://chess.org.kz/blog/the-tragic-...s-grandmaster/

    An excerpt:

    Khan was born in 1905 in Sargodha, Punjab which is situated in modern-day Pakistan. He learned the Indian form of chess from his father at the young age of nine, which was slightly different from the modern version played around the world. It had different rules with respect to pawn promotion and stalemates, and each pawn could only be advanced one square in its first move. Khan worked as domestic help in the house of Sir Umar Hayat Khan, where he ran daily errands for his royal master.

    His first breakthrough came when he was 21 years of age as he was adjudged the strongest player in the state, after which Sir Umar decided to take him under his patronage and teach him the European version of the game. Just two years later, Khan won the All-India Championships with a remarkable score of 8.5 points of a possible nine.

    Sir Umar then decided to take Khan to London, where he trained with some British masters and subsequently entered the British Chess Championship. Khan would go on to win the tournament three times in 1929,1932 and 1933 in a total of four attempts.
    Khan’s international career was a short-lived one and lasted just five years, with Sir Umar taking him back to India in December 1933. In 1935, Khan claimed victory against V.K. Khadilkar in a ten-game matchup, where he yielded just one draw and won all the remaining games. After this, he returned to serving his ‘master’ and never played the game again.

    Playing chess in inhospitable weather conditions had eventually made him feel like he was caged, leading him to give up the sport once and for all. He grew disillusioned with chess as Ather Sultan, his eldest son, recalled that he refused to coach his children at chess and told them to do something more useful with their lives.

    He later died of tuberculosis in 1966 in complete obscurity – a sad end to one of the game’s most brilliant minds.

    FIDE, the official governing body of chess, gave many long-retired players formal retrospective titles in 1948, but it inexplicably chose to omit Khan at the time. He was subsequently forgotten and continues to remain a relatively unknown figure in the sport’s illustrious history.

    Leave a comment:


  • Wayne Komer
    replied
    Re: Sultan Khan

    Sultan Khan

    From The Sultan of Chess
    Produced by Bandung Films, 1990

    This short film tells the story of two Indian servants (to Sir Umar Tiwana), who played in the British Chess Championships and won.

    Sultan Khan won the British Championships in 1929 (Ramsgate), 1932 (London) and 1933 (Hastings).

    Miss Fatima won the British Women’s Chess Championship at Hastings in 1933.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYCwOpjKab0

    See also Note 7168 at Edward Winter’s site:

    http://www.chesshistory.com/winter/winter84.html
    Last edited by Wayne Komer; Sunday, 17th May, 2015, 05:28 PM.

    Leave a comment:


  • Halldor P. Palsson
    replied
    Re: I want to start a drive to get Mir Sultan Khan awarded the GM title posthumously

    GM Igor V. Ivanov was awarded the title in 2005. He died Nov 17, 2005 but was alive when he got the title.

    I was asked by Ivanov as CFC President in 2004 for help. He was not well. He wanted his GM title that he had earned years ago and to transfer back to Canada. Our FIDE rep at the time Nathan Divinsky was our man for the mission and both got done.

    Leave a comment:


  • Mathieu Cloutier
    replied
    Re: I want to start a drive to get Mir Sultan Khan awarded the GM title posthumously

    If I remember correctly, Ivanov got the GM title just before his passing, in 2005.

    Sultan Khan was obviously of GM strength. One thing people could argue about is that the GM title wasn't really official before 1950.

    But of course a posthumous GM title would be in order for a player of his caliber.

    Leave a comment:

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