Zahrajte si sachy s velmistry (1975)

Hort / Jansa: Zahrajte si sachy s velmistry

Rare original uncensored copy

First published: February 3, 2013

Last Update:     April 30, 2019

Well-known book "Zahrajte si sachy s velmistry" written by Czech(oslovak) GMs Vlastimil Hort and Vlastimil Jansa (In English known as "The Best Move", NY 1980) was published in 1975, in time of so-called "normalization" in Czechoslovakia. The time of normalization in communist Czechoslovakia started in 1969, after Prague spring. It is characterized by political repressions and among others, by high level of political censorship. 

In the book, sample no. 24 (page 31) does not contain - as the only of 230 position - names of players. The reason explains master Jiri Vesely (1932 - 2009) in his last book "Bilocerne vzpominani" (Praha 2008), page 168. Master Vesely was editor of the book Zahrajte si sachy s velmistry.

The book was already printed when some accurate censor discovered that it contains name of Lubosh Kavalek (born 1943) on page 31. This was not acceptable for the communist regime - Kavalek's name was "forgotten" as he went to Germany in 1968 and settled in Washington DC two years later. 

What now? Jiri Vesely writes that just two possibilities were offered to him: either all the stock will be destroyed, or the sheet with Kavalek's name must be cut out of the book and replaced by another sheet, without his name.

Jiri Vesely agreed with the second offer as it was the only possibility how to save the book.  The names of players have disappeared and the original sentence "Postup 1..f5 (0 bodu) si vybral cerny v partii Jansa - Kavalek (Harrachov 1963), ale blokada pozice zcela ochromila pusobnost jeho belopolneho strelce"  has been replaced by this:

"Postup 1..f5 (0 bodu) si vybral cerny, ale blokada pozice zcela ochromila pusobnost jeho belopolneho strelce"

Both the removal of original sheet and pasting-in of a new one is made very professionally and it is almost unpossible to recognize it for someone who does not know about the replacement. The new sheets can be in some copies slightly smaller than original ones.

The edition of the book was 18,000 copies (this would be now barely possible). I estimate that replacing sheets in all copies took about 300 hours, at least.

Jiri Vesely saved one original copy of this book with names of players - the pictures below are taken from this copy. It is not sure, if and how many other copies are in existence.

Added April 30, 2019:  during the six years since the article was written some more books appeared. To date, I know about five uncensored copies with the names of both players.


Hort, Vlastimil / Jansa, Vlastimil: Zahrajte si sachy s velmistry. 
Praha, Olympia, 1975, 240 pages. Softcover. Published 18,000 copies.


Original (uncensored) edition, page 31:



Page 31 after replacement: