Nikolai Alexandrovich Novotel'nov. The name of this chessplayer may be known alone to an older generation of chessplayers. Short information from the edition "Chess. Encyclopedic dictionary" edited by A.Karpov, M., 1999:
Born 1.12.1911, Petersburg, Soviet chessplayer, International Master, chess journalist. Economist. Champion of the RSFSR (1947), competitor at the championship of the USSR 1951 (17-th place). International tournament in commemoration of Chiigorin (Moscow, 1947), the sixth-seventh place, (together with P.Keres). He is an author of the book "Let you know: chess". I make a note that date of his birth is given according to an old style, in fact, N.Novotel'nov was born on the 14-th of December, Master of Sports of the USSR from 1945, member of the Voluntary Sports Society "Trud (Labour)".Accompanied by my old friend Master Candidate K. Senkevich I have paid a visit on invitation of Nicolai Alexandrovich himself. In 1971 K.Senkevich was brought by his mother to Nikolai Alexandrovich in the Leningrad House of pioneers (Kuibyshev district) to study chess. To tell the truth we have not known to the last moment whether a meeting takes place. It was known that Nikolai Alexandrovich lived alone, his daughter and a social worker, young and good-natured Anna came to see him, he did not go out of doors practically, moved and heard badly. Moreover, our meeting has been already adjourned two times due to the literary employment and the state of health of Nikolai Alexandrovich. Gentleman of the flat has met us with benevolence, looked out cheerfully, much younger than his years. It is gratifying that memory and intelligence have not left him. He has seen me for the first time and heard of the all-Russia newspaper which I represented for the first time as well. He has recognized Konstantin still, though with difficulty, his chess pupil in the far past. We have tasted some wine for the meeting and have begun questioning the old-timer, without supposing yet, how much unusual direction our conversation will follow.
- Do You know that You are included into the list of the champions of Russia, beginning from A.Alekhine up to Peter Suidler? You were still the champion of the RSFSR in 1947!
- Yes? Wherefore should we remember it? It seems to me nobody needs it.
- Well, why do you say so? You are a living legend beside Andre Liliental and therefore any reminiscences are needed for the history of chess...
- What is your attitude towards poetry? - He has asked us suddenly.
-In positive manner. Here Nikolai Alexandrovich has read us his two verses..
- When did You take chess last time into Your hands?
- It was 25 years ago. You see, one cannot be busy with poetry
and chess in parallel. So when
I became an invalid;
I began writing poetry for the last light years. It is
very hard to write poetry.
Mayakovsky has such lines:
A year of work, labors in a gramme.
You are processing for the sake of one only word,
thousand tons of verbal ore!"
And this is true. One has to work on each word. Yakov Sukhotin, a member of the Union of St. Petersburg writers is convinced that one should understand (look at) the poet's words. If they cannot be rearranged and replaced, it says of that a good verse has been written. And when they are substituted freely then it is a trash. I want to tell You begin to read my verses, move and replace the words you hardly get anything. The well-known newspaper "Petersburg Courier" which does not much admire my poetic work, nevertheless, published my verses and called me "a big and real poet." Many years my poetry is being published by newspaper "On the Guard of Motherland"
- By the way, Nikolai Alexandrovich, what reminiscences had You since those times when You were an active regular chessplayer?
I played serious chess 30 years. But why should we speak of me? Alas, I'm old already. Now I'm not interested in my past chess successes. Let them lie mum in "the annals". Chess longevity always ended in one end the same; let's remember Keres, in haemorrhage of the brain. One must leave chess at 60. Botvinnik being a rationalist did so.
I remember, when during Leningrad blockade I was visited by P.Romanovsky, I.Rabinovich and Winestein, a former director of the magazine "Chess in the USSR", and they asked: "What is to be done?" I answered: "Samuel Osipovich, sell everything and buy bread, other products"... He did so and survived, but Rabinovich saved and died soon. Chekhover then shifted also in some way... I come, I remember, into the hospital, and "my" Chekhover is sitting in W.C. I tell him: "What are you doing here?" And he answers: "One can sit, think of it, in a warm place". There was such a fearful time then...
Nikolai Alexandrovich endured events of the Finish and Greet Fatherland wars. Our meeting has come to an end soon. The war veteran has signed his books of the first edition "Let you know: chess" for us. He has observed at the same time that after its publication in Leningrad the second edition was issued in a record time (over three months) in Moscow, even without in editor shop. One could see considering everything that in spite the absence of desire to stir his chess past Nikolai Alexandrovich did not lose his interest into life. He has gifted Konstantin his small collection of verses "About love and love only". He has lamented that there is no money for publication of a complete poetic collection.
I've been busy with writing poetry for the last seven years, and before this I published small collected verses 50 years ago and stopped writing after words. But when found myself in this flat with sore legs felt longing again for poetry Nikolai Alexandrovich has not contained himself in still the end. He has out lived today's state of chess so that there is no optimism in it...
- "Chess now... It is in essence absent. There are dealers with their computers. Sometimes no special talent is needed. Everything has become in another way. What was called chess romanticism in the former times, it no more. And now there are businessmen who make money on it. If You are not among them it is worse..."
I have thought it over in my mind, is it not the same said by other old Masters? It is, may be, not so categorical. However, time cannot turn back. Chess as an instrument of education and making of personality still will be for long claimed to serve for the benefit of humanity. Of course, the status of professional chess and chessplayers is in the main unenviable. The sooner it will be understood by people, the future of chess will depend on it. It is symbolical that Nikolai Alexandrovich has begged to publish his poetical work in the newspaper. It is fine when a chess Master reveals himself in a new creative employ. We know how harmonious chess and music get on together within Taimanov, what a melodious voice-baritone has V.Smyslov. And here is poetry (on a professional basis) and chess, it is something new. Judge for yourselves Responses and proposals may be sent to our editorial office, they will be handed over to the poet.
We have divorced (two short flourishes),
And we seemed to be true to each other..
Why our fast sailing vessel
Dropped into the roaring breakers.
Either we ate-and-drank unfed,
Or we did not manage, what a misfortune,
To sort out a pure truism:
Two times two is not always four.
Therefore probably on the platform,
Defying all good canons,
We shifted from foot to foot with crow's gloominess
And parted without shaking hands.
Today, however, we are together again,
Living apart, we felt unhappy
We have found ourselves on the same memorable place
Where Love caught us.
Dunes are gleaming as at that time,
Day is streaming azure-dark blue,
Playing psalteries, many-stringed psalteries
Breakers are ringing and enjoying themselves.
We have been able in negligence
To sit on a stump entwined with grass
And to make a detailed calculation
Of all our offences and disagreements.
But wherefore should we turn such a pedal?
So here is what our intelligence has whispered us,
We're going, both in silence and talk,
Along a path near the sea rocks.
The rocks here wrangle always with the wind
(Nobody can calm that bully and dare-devil),
And beyond them the sea, sea, sea --
Brilliance and wave-lapping, brimless and endless.
The rocks are hard here, basalt and flint.
As they stood, so they stand now,
As if time did not touch them, -
But, alas, it touched us heavily.
I'm not slender and voice-sound,
Shunning crazy cranks, keeping peace,
And in opinion of unbalanced girls...
But let's return to the cliffs.
A flock of birds is meeting us in joy,
Calling high above - you aspire involuntarily -
I'm listening only not to the cries of sea-mews
But what you're saying to me:
"Light and joy, - all in you alone" -
A handful of words and how much war with in them!
Over my waiting hair snow,
I profess, they palm has passed.
Well, and thou? Once very fiery.
Is thy flame is out now?
I'm looking, looking, without interruption,
At thy familiar lips, hair and eyes.
Thou art withered slightly.
Well, what's that?!
We've taken into account the lessons of past days
And thou art dearer twice to me,
And thrice more understandable and my own.
Threads have stretched out imperceptibly
From the soul of mine to thine,
And I profess, our Love's in zenith,
And our stars are clearer than ever.
Let's live henceforward under the sign of Hymen
And only so what wise god teaches us.
We understand it all the better,
And the pledge of our happiness lies in that!