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Alekhine mystery solved (sort of)

Alekhine mystery solved (sort of)

Kimuto & Allies – Alexander Alekhine
Tokyo (blindfold simul), January 20, 1933
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. Nc3 Bb4 5. O-O O-O 6. d3 d6 7. Bg5 Bxc3 8. bxc3 Qe7 9. Re1 Nd8 10. d4 Ne6 11. Bc1 Rd8 12. Nh4 Nf8 13. Qe2 Ne8 14. Nf5 Bxf5 15. exf5 f6 16. f4 c6 17. Bd3 Nd7 18. g4 Kh8 19. c4 b6 20. g5 Nc7 21. g6 h6 22. fxe5 dxe5 23. Qh5 Re8 24. dxe5 Nxe5 25. Rxe5 Qf8 26. Rxe8 Rxe8 27. Bf4 Na6 28. Kh1 Rd8 29. Rg1 Rd7 30. c5 b5 31. Bd6 Qe8 32. Qf3 Rd8 33. Be4 Rc8 34. Rg2 Qd7 35. Re2 Nb4 36. a3 Nd5 37. Bxd5 cxd5 38. Qxd5 Re8 39. Rxe8+ Qxe8 40. Qe6 Qa8+ 41. Kg1 a5 42. Qf7 1-0

This game can be found in Donaldson, Minev and Seirawan’s 1993 book Alekhine in Europe and Asia, p. 80. However, they were suspicious and wrote:

“This game is given as it appears in Caparrós and Lahde [The Games of Alekhine (1992). Ed.]. We believe that Alekhine was most certainly White. One, because he almost always took that color in exhibitions. Two, because the style of play – White makes several small combinations – seems more like Alekhine. Three, the score we have for Alekhine from Tokyo, given in Revista Mexicana de Ajedrez, 1933, p. 247, is 14 wins, no draws, no losses.”

Skinner and Verhoeven, in Alexander Alekhine’s Chess Games, 1902-1946 (1998), investigated further and reached a different conclusion:

“The circumstances in which the (…) game was played are not known. Kimuto is not listed as one of Alekhine’s opponents in the display at the Imperial Hotel, neither does any source indicate that consultation partners were involved in that event. Furthermore, no Alekhine loss was mentioned in the contemporary reports. Whether the game was from another unreported event in Tokyo, or was played informally, can only be a matter of speculation. It was quite common, for instance, for Alekhine to play a few light hearted blindfold games for entertainment purposes while attending a social function (…). Another possibility and probably the most likely, is that the source might be in error and the game may actually have been played in Shanghai, where he did play blindfold against consultation partners and also had to concede three losses.”

The same game, move for move, was published by Deutsche Schachzeitung … in 1907!

Deutsche Schachzeitung, December 1907 pp. 364-365.

So this game was not played by Alekhine. Skinner and Verhoeven gave a contemporary source, Schach-Hochschule 1934, pp. 152-154, but I don’t have access to that magazine and the investigation stops here until further notice.

Ståhlberg’s lecture

Ståhlberg’s lecture

On his way back to Sweden from the 1931 Prague olympiad 23-year old Gideon Ståhlberg visited the Aros chess club in Aarhus, Denmark on July 30th. He gave a lecture and showed the club members 5 of his games from Prague, wins against Cruusberg, Weenink, and Erdélyi, a draw against Bogoljubow and a loss against Alekhine. After the lecture he gave a simul with 25 wins, 2 draws, and 3 losses.

The next day the local newspaper Demokraten published a photo of Ståhlberg in front of a demonstration board.

“Gideon Ståhlberg in Amalie Street last night.”

Ståhlberg annotated 3 of the games from the lecture in Tidskrift för schack for August-September 1931. The notes are translated from swedish:

Efim Bogoljubow – Gideon Ståhlberg
Prague olympiad 1931, round 12
1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Be7 5. e3 Nbd7 6. Nc3 O-O 7. Rc1 c6 8. Bd3 dxc4 9. Bxc4 Nd5 10. Bxe7 Qxe7 11. O-O Nxc3 12. Rxc3 e5 13. Bb3
Bogoljubow chose the same continuation in an earlier game in Prague against the Romanian Erdelyi. The latter continued 13… e4 but got the worst of it. The text move is preferable.
13… exd4 14. Qxd4 Nf6
Besides this move 14… c5 came strongly into consideration.
15. Rc5 Bg4 16. Re5 Qd7 17. Qf4 Bxf3 18. gxf3 Qc7 19. Kh1 Rae8

Black simplifies into an endgame where white has more space, so black must play accurately to hold.
20. Rxe8 Nxe8 21. Qxc7 Nxc7 22. Rd1 Na6! 23. Rd6
After 23. Rd7 Nc5 24. Rc7 Nxb3 25. axb3 Rb8 the rook endgame is drawn with correct play. In the worst case scenario black can exchange his 3 queenside pawns against white’s 2, when white’s damaged pawn formation on the kingside doesn’t give him any real winning chances.
23… Nb8 24. f4 Re8 25. e4 Kf8 26. e5 g6
This amounts to a pawn sacrifice which seems to be perfectly correct. 27. Rf6 Re7 28. e6 Kg7 29. exf7! Nd7 30. Rd6 Nf8 with a safe position and threatening Re4 and Re2.
27. h4 Re7 28. Kg2 Nd7

Black seems to have completely secured his position. The great optimist Bogoljubow declined a draw offer, however, thinking that he could force his way through.
29. f5
An assault in Bogoljubow’s typical style. At first it looks very threatening for black, if 29… Nxe5 then 30. f4 Nd7 31. f6 winning a piece or 30… Ng4 31. f6 Re8 32. Rd7 and white wins.

Efim Bogoljubow (from Pariser Zeitung, 3/9 1941)

29… Nxe5! 30. f4 Nd7 31. f6 Nxf6 32. Rxf6 Rd7!
An unpleasant surprise for white! Black now threatens Kg7, but luckily for Bogoljubow he can save the game.
33. Be6!
Black can regain the piece with 33… Rd2+ 34. Kf3 Ke7 35. Rxf7+ Kxe6 but after 36. Rxb7 the rook ending is drawn. Black decides to force the draw in a simpler way.
33… Rc7 34. Bb3
Of course not 34. Bh3 because of 34… Ke7.
34… Rd7 draw agreed.
Source: Tidskrift för Schack 8-9/1931 pp. 145-146.

Gideon Ståhlberg – Stefan Erdélyi
Prague olympiad 1931, round 15
1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Nf3 Nbd7 5. e3
The closed Queen’s Gambit has recently become fashionable mainly because it has not been analyzed to death.
5… Be7 6. Bd3 a6
Can hardly be recommended because it loses a tempo and slightly weakens the pawn formation.
7. b3 c5 8. O-O Bd6
Loses another tempo and gives white the initiative. To develop the bishop to e7 and then move it to d6 is admittedly quite common in similar positions but is basically a sign of weakness.
9. Bb2 b6 10. Qe2 Bb7 11. Rad1
Instead of this standard developing move white should have played 11. cxd5!, for example 11… exd5 12. e4 or 11… Nxd5 12. Nxd5 exd5 13. dxc5! with advantage to white.
11… O-O 12. h3
Preparing e4 which doesn’t work immediately because 12… cxd4 13.Nxd4 dxe4 14. Nxe4 Nxe4 15. Bxe4 Qh4 would liberate black’s game. With the following aggressive counter manouvre black crosses white’s plans. 12. Qc2 would give white better chances.
12… Ne4! 13. dxc5
White decides to give black the famous hanging pawns which is quite risky here because black obtains free piece play.
13… Nxc3 14. Bxc3 bxc5 15. Bb1 f5 16. cxd5 exd5

17. Rd2!
Prepares the following exchange sacrifice. With passive play by white, black would get serious attacking chances.
17… Qe7 18. Qd1 Bc7 19. Rxd5! Bxd5 20. Qxd5+ Qf7
As expected by white. But even after 20… Kh8 21. Bxf5 white is better because he has two pawn and the bishop as compensation for the exchange.
21. Qxf7+!
Black had probably underestimated this endgame. White wins an extra pawn for the exchange.
21… Rxf7 22. Ng5 Re7
If 22… Rff8 then 23. Ne6 wins.
23. Bxf5 Nf8 24. Bd3 h6 25. Bc4+ Kh8 26. Nf3 Ng6
26… Rd7 would be better but still very difficult.
27. Rd1 Ne5 28. Nxe5 Bxe5

29. Be1!
White keeps the bishop pair making it hard for black to cover his pawns.
29… Bf6 30. Kf1 a5 31. a4 Bb2
To play the bishop to b4 and free the a8-rook from the tedious task of guarding a5.
32. Rd6! Ba3 33. Bc3
Threatens mate and helps the e-pawns march forward.
33… Kh7 34. e4! Bb4 35. Bb2 Rae8
Black wants to return the exchange after e4-e5, but white is not in a hurry.
36. f3 Rc8 37. e5 Rf8 38. e6 Rf4 39. Rd7
Black has no defence against white’s manouvres.
39… Rxd7 40. exd7 Rf8 41. Ke2!
Stops Bd2.
41… Rd8 42. Be6 and black resigned.
The only way to stop the threatened Bb2-e5-c7 is to sacrifice the c-pawn which gives white an easy win (42. Be6 c4 43. bxc4 Be7 44. Bd4 Rb8 45. c5 Rb4 46. c6!
An interesting game throughout.
Source: Tidskrift för Schack 8-9/1931 pp. 151-152

Gideon Ståhlberg – Axel Cruusberg
Prague olympiad 1931, round 17
1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Nf3 Nbd7 5. e3 c6 6. Bd3 Bd6
Besides the so-called Meran Defence (6… dxc4 7. Bxc4 b5) even 6… Be7 is regarded as perfectly satisfactory for black. The text move has disappeared from the grandmaster’s repertoire, however, since it has been shown that white gets a freer game after 7. e4.
7. e4 dxe4
If 7… dxc4 then white gets the advantage efter 8. Bxc4 e5 9. dxe5 Nxe5 (or 9… Bxe5 10. Nxe5 Nxe5 11. Qxd8+ Kxd8 12. Be2!) 10. Nxe5 Bxe5 11. Qxd8+ Kxd8 12. Bxf7 Bxc3+ 13. bxc3 Nxe4 14. O-O Nxc3 15. Bb2 Rf8 16. Bb3 Ne2+ 17. Kh1 g6 18. Rad1+ Kc7 19. Be5+ etc. according to an analysis by Grünfeld.
[This analysis is from the Bad Pistyan 1922 tournament book, p. 45. Ed.]

8. Nxe4 Nxe4 9. Bxe4 Bb4+
This simplification is probably black’s best chance. After 9… O-O 10. O-O Qc7 11. Bc2 white has good attacking chances.
10. Bd2 Bxd2+ 11. Qxd2 O-O 12. O-O Nf6 13. Bc2 b6 14. Rad1 Bb7 15. Qf4
Basically a rash attacking attempt. More solid was 15. Rfe1.
15… Qe7 16. Qh4 h6 17. Rfe1 Qb4!
Black gets the opportunity to completely free his position.
18. b3 c5 19. Ne5 Rad8 20. Re3

20… Rd6?
Gives white a valuable tempo for his attack. After 20… Rxd4 21. Rxd4 cxd4 22. Qxd4 black had nothing to fear.
21. a3!
Not the immediate 21. Rg3 because of 21… Rxd4.
21… Qxa3
If 21… Qa5 then 22. b4!.
22. Rg3 Kh8 23. Rxg7! Kxg7 24. Qg3+ Kh8 25. Qf4

25… Kg7
White has a forced win after this move. The task is much more difficult after 25… Nh7 and 25… Ng8. The white attack seems to break through, though.
A. 25… Nh7 26. Nxf7+ (if 26. Qxh6 then there is the parry 26… f5) 26… Kg7! 27. Qe5+ (leading to new complications are 27. Qxh6+ Kxf7 28. Qxh7+ Ke8 29. Qxb7 Qb2! 30. Bg6+ Kd8 31. Qb8+ Ke7) 27… Kxf7 28. Qxd6 Kg7! 29. Qg3+! Ng5 (if 29… Kh8 then 30. Qg6 Nf6 31. Qxh6+ Kg8 32. Qg6+ Kh8 33. g4! and white wins) 30. h4 Qb2 31. Bb1.
B. 25… Ng8 26. Nxf7+ Kg7! 27. Qxd6 Rxf7 28. Qg3+ Kh8 (28… Kf8 29. dxc5) 29. Qe5+ Nf6 (29… Rf6 30. dxc5 Qxc5 31. Qxc5! bxc5 32. Rd7) 30. Qxe6 Kg7 31. d5! and black doesn’t seem to have a satisfactory defence.
[Looking over this analysis with an engine is not flattering for Ståhlberg. Best play is 25… Ng8! 26. Nxf7+ Kg7 27. Qxd6 Rxf7 and now not 28. Qg3+? Kh8 29. Qe5+ because 29… Rg7! is winning for black. Instead white has to take the perpetual with 28. Qe5+ Nf6 29. Qg3+ Kf8 30. Qd6+ Kg7 31. Qg3+. Ed.]
26. Qg3+
White repeats the position to get out of time trouble.
[This differs from the version of the game in various databases, which omits the repetitions beginning at move 26 and at move 31. Ed.]
26… Kh8 27. Qf4 Kg7 28. Ng4! Nxg4 29. Qxg4+ Kf6
If 29… Kh8 then white wins with 30. Qf4 Kg7 31. Qg3+! followed by Qxd6.
30. Qh4+ Kg7 31. Qg4+ Kf6 32. Qh4+ Kg7 33. Qg3+ Kf6 34. Qxd6 Qb2
If 34… Rg8 then 35. Qe5+ and Qc7+. If 34… Rc8 then 35. Qe5+ Ke7 36. d5.
35. Qxf8 Qxc2 36. Qxh6+ Ke7 37. Qd2 Qxb3
37… Qg6 would have offered longer resistance but still wouldn’t have been difficult for white to win.
38. dxc5 bxc5
Black was in severe time trouble which explains the text move.
39. Qd8 mate
Source: Tidskrift för Schack 8-9/1931 pp. 155-156.

Axel Cruusberg.

In his autobiography Ståhlberg wrote: “My achievements at the 1931 chess olympiad strengthened my confidence. I had more and more switched from open to closed openings and the results in Prague indicated that I was on the right path even if my development was far from finished.”
I kamp med världseliten (1958) p. 21.

Notes on Lilienthal-Capablanca, Hastings 1934-35

Notes on Lilienthal-Capablanca, Hastings 1934-35

Andor Lilienthal’s queen sacrifice is too well-known to go into detail with here, but the stories surrounding the game are quite interesting. First the game:

Andor Lilienthal – José Raúl Capablanca
Hastings, 1 January 1935
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. a3 Bxc3+ 5. bxc3 b6 6. f3 d5 7. Bg5 h6 8. Bh4 Ba6 9. e4 Bxc4 10. Bxc4 dxc4 11. Qa4+ Qd7 12. Qxc4 Qc6 13. Qd3 Nbd7 14. Ne2 Rd8 15. O-O a5 16. Qc2 Qc4 17. f4 Rc8 18. f5 e5 19. dxe5 Qxe4

20. exf6 Qxc2 21. fxg7 Rg8 22. Nd4 Qe4 23. Rae1 Nc5 24. Rxe4+ Nxe4 25. Re1 Rxg7 26. Rxe4+ Kd7 and Black resigned.

All the contemporary sources conclude the game after White’s 26th move, but Lilienthal later revealed that Capablanca played 26… Kd7 and resigned with a smile when he saw that White wins after 27. Re7+ Kd6 28. f6 and 29.Bg3+.

There doesn’t seem to be any published photographs of the game, but a couple of days before, on 28 December, a photographer visited the tournament.

From Capablanca’s 2nd round loss to Thomas.

Lilienthal drew his 2nd round game with Flohr.

The missing autograph

Lajos Steiner gave some background in his book, Kings of the Chess Board (1948):

I was not really surprised when, before the Hastings Christmas Tournament of 1934, Lilienthal half jokingly told me that he would beat Capablanca with a Queen sacrifice, then he would give Capablanca his autograph. Lilienthal could never forget that in Paris a few years previously Capablanca refused to give him his autograph. And, to the surprise of the spectators, Lilienthal’s prophecy came true! Never in his life was Capablanca so crushingly defeated by a Queen sacrifice.

Steiner defeated Lilienthal in a training match in December 1934, shortly before Lilienthal left for Hastings.

In his autobiography, Lilienthal wrote about his first meeting with Capablanca. Some of the details are different from Steiner’s account, though. Translated from the German edition of Lilienthal’s autobiography, Schach war mein Leben (1989):

I was wandering the streets of Vienna when a poster with oversized letters announced: “Capablanca, the world famous Cuban chess master, will play a simultaneous exhibition today at 6 pm in Café Schönbrunn. Admittance 5 Schilling, to play 10 Schilling.” I only had that exact sum, but thought that it would be a long time before another opportunity to encounter a world star would present itself. So I ran to be in time to play the world famous Cuban. I was astounded when I noticed that the majority of the spectators were women. I have never before or after seen that many women at a simultaneous exhibition. Capablanca was a very attractive man and I think that the women were not mainly interested in chess.

The great “Capa” played very quickly and gave his opponents little time to think. Even though I was very excited I played well and in the middlegame won a piece for two pawns. In the end, I was the last player left. The famous grandmaster looked at me in a way that made me lose my nerve, and with a trembling voice I offered a draw. Capablanca accepted so quickly that when I clumsily asked for his autograph on the score sheet, he had already turned towards a pretty woman and hurried off with her.

Lilienthal on the game

Lilienthal annotated the game extensively and also had some comments on Capablanca’s reaction to the loss:

The traditional tournament in Hastings was stronger than the year before. Capablanca, who I played at the memorable Vienna simul, was there. He didn’t remember the then 18-year old Lilienthal. But I longed for revenge; back then I took half a point from the Cuban, and now I wanted to defeat him in a tournament game. (…)

I still recall that his expression and his eyes showed no sadness as he resigned the game. The Cuban was as always elegant, casual, and proper. He congratulated me with a smile and wished me further successes.

The next game

Capablanca and Lilienthal met again two weeks later in the Netherlands, where they gave simultaneous exhibitions and played a consultation game for Dutch radio.

The consultation game was played on 16 January at the VARA studios in Hilversum. Capablanca was paired with Hans Kmoch and Lilienthal with Max Euwe, who also played in Hastings. The game began at 8 pm and at 11.30 pm the broadcast started with Euwe explaining the moves for the listeners at home.

Capablanca & Kmoch – Lilienthal & Euwe
Hilversum, 16 January 1935
1. Nf3 d5 2. c4 c6 3. b3 Bf5 4. Bb2 e6 5. g3 Nf6 6. Bg2 Nbd7 7. O-O h6 8. d3 Bc5 9. Nbd2 O-O 10. Rc1 Bh7 11. a3 a5 12. d4 Be7 13. Ne1 b5 14. c5 Ne4 15. Ndf3 Qc7 16. Nd3 Rad8 17. Nfe5 Nxe5 18. Nxe5 Rfe8 19. Nd3 Bg5 20. e3 Be7 21. Qe2 Bf8 22. f3 Ng5

23. e4 dxe4 24. fxe4 f6 25. e5 Bxd3 26. Qxd3 fxe5 27. Qg6 e4 28. h4 Nf3+ 29. Bxf3 exf3 30. Rxf3 Qd7 31. b4 axb4 32. axb4 Qd5 33. Rcf1 Re7 34. Rf4 Qb3

The game had to be stopped here because of the late hour, and the players later agreed to a draw.

The next day, 17 January, at Hotel Carlton in Amsterdam Dutch chess friends celebrated Euwe’s victory in the Hastings tournament.

The Euwe celebration. Left to right: Hollander, Euwe, Kmoch, Lilienthal, and Capablanca.

Rotterdam’s chess federation was celebrating their 40th anniversary, and they invited Capablanca, Lilienthal, and Tartakower to give simultaneous exhibitions on 19 January, each master playing 30 opponents. Lilienthal went down in flames against Mühring, who was strong enough to play for the Dutch team at the unofficial Olympiad in Munich just a year and a half later.

Andor Lilienthal – Willem Jan Mühring
Rotterdam, 19 January 1935
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Bb4 6. Bd3 Nc6 7. Nxc6 dxc6 8. O-O e5 9. Bg5 Be6 10. Kh1 h6 11. Bh4 g5 12. Bg3 Qc7 13. Qf3 Be7 14. Qe2 O-O-O 15. a4 h5 16. h4 gxh4 17. Bxh4 Ng4 18. Bg3 h4 19. Bh2 Bc5 20. f3 Nxh2 21. Kxh2 Rdg8 22. Nd1

22… Qe7 (The beginning of an attractive queen maneuver) 23. Ne3 Qg5 24. Ng4 Qf4+ 25. Kh1 Qg3 26. Qe1 Bxg4 27. fxg4 Rxg4 28. Rg1 h3 0-1
Source: De Telegraf, 21 January 1935

Tartakower, Lilienthal, and Capablanca at the simultaneous exhibition in Rotterdam, 19 January 1935.

Lilienthal stayed in the Netherlands until early February when he left for Moscow and another meeting with Capablanca. Finally a game from another simultaneous exhibition, this time a win for Lilienthal:

Andor Lilienthal – Paul van’t Veer
The Hague, 24 January 1935
1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Be7 5. e3 Nbd7 6. Nf3 O-O 7. Bd3 c6 8. O-O h6 9. Bf4 dxc4 10. Bxc4 Nd5 11. Qe2 N7f6 12. Bg3 Nxc3 13. bxc3 Nd5 14. Rac1 b5 15. Bd3 Bb7 16. e4 Nb6 17. Rfd1 Nd7 18. e5 Re8 19. Nd2 f5 20. c4 a6 21. c5 Nf8 22. Nf3 Bg5 23. Nxg5 Qxg5 24. f4 Qg6 25. Bc2 Qf7 26. Bb3 Rac8 27. Be1 h5 28. Bh4 g6 29. Rd3 Qd7 30. Rcd1 a5 31. Rg3 a4 32. Bc2 Kh7 33. Bf6 Qf7 34. Rh3 Nd7 35. Bg5 Kg7 36. Rdd3 Ra8 37. Rhg3 Kh8 38. Bh4 Rg8 39. Rg5 Rg7 40. Be1 Nf8 41. a3 Nh7 42. Rgg3 Qd7 43. Rh3 Qf7 44. Bb4 Qd7 45. Bb1 Rc8 46. Rd1 Qe8 47. Ba2 Rcc7 48. Rc3 Nf8 49. h3 Qf7 50. g4 fxg4 51. hxg4 Qxf4 52. Rf3 Qxg4+ 53. Kh2 Rcf7 54. Rdf1 Qh4+ 55. Rh3 Qxd4 56. Rhf3 Qd7 57. Rf6 Rxf6 58. exf6 Rf7 59. Bc3 Kg8 60. Rd1 Qc7+ 61. Be5 Qc8 62. Rd6 Ba6 63. Qd2 Kh7 64. Rd8 Qb7 65. Rb8 Qd7 66. Qg5 Bc8 67. Bb1 Kg8 68. Bxg6 Nxg6 69. Qxg6+ Kf8 70. Bd6+ 1-0
Source: Het Vaderland, 3 February 1935

Lilienthal at the simultaneous exhibition in the Hague, 24 January 1935.

Caricatures from Haifa 1976

Caricatures from Haifa 1976

The daily bulletin of the 1976 Chess Olympiad in Haifa was pretty bare-boned. It had little besides games and results, but occasionally a caricature broke the monotony. Here follows a collection of the best and most interesting sketches.

The Philipines vs. Israel. Samuel Estimo and Nathan Birnboim in front. Behind them is Cesar Caturla and Shimon Kagan. Israel won the match 3-1.

90-year old Edward Lasker, who visited the Haifa Olympiad as a kibitzer.

Robert Byrne scored 7/10 on 1st board for the winning American team.

Vladimir Liberzon, 1st board for Israel.

Ludek Pachman representing West Germany. This was his first and only Olympiad for his new home country. He had previously played 8 Olympiads for Czechoslovakia.

Genna Sosonko scored 6/8 for the Netherlands and won a prize for best 2nd board player.

The Netherlands defeated Scotland 2½-1½ in the 2nd round. Craig Pritchett and Jan Timman on board 1 was a draw.

Bogoljubow’s psychological trick

Bogoljubow’s psychological trick

From Prager Tagblatt, 13 August 1933:

Played in the 15th and last round of the German Championship on 11 July 1933 at Bad Pyrmont.

Jakob Adolf Seitz – Efim Bogoljubow
Notes by Seitz
1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 b5
Half Indian, half Polish. Sämisch played like this against Thomas at the 1925 Marienbad tournament.
3. a4 b4 4. g3 Bb7 5. Bg2 e6 6. O-O c5 7. c4 Be7 8. d5
This move is seen in similar positions, not only in the Queen’s Indian defenses but also in the Dutch defense. The pawn is usually only sacrificed temporarily.
8… exd5 9. Nh4 d6 10. Nf5 O-O 11. Re1
A somewhat odd-looking move which, however, is positionally justified.
11… Nbd7 12. Bf4

Bogoljubow gave this move a huge question mark on his score sheet. Maybe he worships the materialistic chess view – indeed the move gives up on recovering the pawn – or maybe he wanted to intimidate his opponent. (Seitz and Bogoljubow knew each other well. Seitz was Bogoljubow’s second at Moscow 1925. Ed.)
12… Nb6 13. b3 a5
To stop a4-a5.
14. Nd2 Ra7!
A fine unpinning maneuver which also covers Be7 an extra time.
15. e4!
This ingenious move cost my Grandmaster opponent a lot of time on the clock. Indeed the position is still unclear.
15… dxe4
After 15… dxc4 White would get pressure against d6. Maybe 15… d4 was better, but then White would have fine attacking play.
16. Bg5 Nfd5
A brilliant freeing attempt.
17. Nxe7+ Nxe7 18. Nxe4 Bxe4 19. Bxe4 h6 20. Qh5 Nbc8 21. Rad1

21… f5?
Loses immediately, but the white attack was already very strong.
22. Bd5+ Kh7 23. Re6
Threatening a brutal mate beginning with Rxh6+. Instead of resigning, a queen sacrifice happens.
23… Nxd5 24. Bxd8 Nc3 25. Rde1 Raf7 26. Qg6+ Kg8 27. Be7 Nxe7 28. Rxe7 Ne4 29. Rxf7 Rxf7 30. f3 Nf6 31. Qxf5 Rd7 32. g4 Kf7
And at the same time, Bogoljubow stopped the clock. Further material loss would be unavoidable. A difficult struggle!

Jakob Adolf Seitz. From a group photo at Nice 1931.

B. H. Wood on Alekhine

B. H. Wood on Alekhine

Baruch H. Wood (1909-1989) is mainly known as publisher and editor of Chess for more than 50 years. But he also wrote an interesting weekly column for Illustrated London News from 1949 to 1979. This is a collection of Wood’s recollections and observations on Alexander Alekhine and his personality from Illustrated London News.

Baruch H. Wood
Baruch H. Wood

Alekhine loses

Alekhine dominated chess like a Colossus for years. Wherever he went, he received first-class hospitality and travelling expenses, on top of which he must have squandered the best part of £10,000 yearly – largely on champagne. He had less real showmanship than Capablanca, who made a great name out of hardly ever losing. Alekhine’s method was the cruder but terribly wearing one of winning, and winning again, and continuing to win again. Few people realise how the odds lengthen against a champion in all he does. Wherever he goes, his opponents are putting forward the effort of a lifetime. They have nothing to lose, for nobody expects them to win; and they have everything to gain, for if they do achieve the miraculous, they will “hit the headlines.” Alekhine could play and win twenty perfect games without arousing more than a ripple of interest. Then he would, in the very nature of things – perhaps through sheer staleness or boredom – lose a bad game, inferior in quality to any of the others; and the very fact that it was a loss by Alekhine would shoot it straight into a thousand newspapers all over the world. He felt this quite keenly, I know from conversations with him; he could never reconcile himself to the fact that it is an inevitable cruely which all who attain to the heights must suffer.

When Alekhine gave a simultaneous display, he faced not the usual twenty or so players, of whom half are normally fairly weak, but forty or more picked players, each out to make a supreme effort. In fact, the organisers were forced to pack the opposition with extremely keen players, for Alekhine would not consider such an engagement at less than about 20 guineas. When he played in a seaside congress, apart from first-class travelling and accommodation and free facilities of every kind, he demanded an appearance fee for which £50 was an absolute minimum, and the chance of a reasonable first prize. But (and this was the other side of the picture!) if, through playing just a little below form, he failed to take that first prize, the committee would look askance, and all over the world the writers would be demanding “Is Alekhine on the decline?”

All these nastier concomitants of fame contributed to making Alekhine a hard man, unloved and unloving. “A terror to hotel waiters,” I have heard him called. I present the majority verdict, though I must confess that my personal impression of him was a little kindlier.
(June 4, 1949)

Alekhine resigns

One of the tardiest resigners was the great Alekhine himself. He once adjourned a game against Tartakower in such a hopelessly lost position that it hardly seemed worth while to make out the diagram. Pressed repeatedly to throw up the sponge during the two days before resumption of play, he stubbornly refused, yet, on arriving at the rendesvouz and finding his opponent there, waiting for him, hale and ready for action, he resigned without even sitting down. The only possible inference, as Tartakower says in relating the incident, was that he had been hoping against hope that Tartakower would meet with some accident, or fall ill, and have to let the game go by default. [The game is Alekhine-Tartakower, Folkestone 1933. Ed.]
(June 25, 1949)

Alekhine writes

My first approach to Alekhine came when I asked him, as World Champion, for a series of articles in a chess magazine I was founding. He named a staggering figure, from which he would not bate one halfpenny; I accepted. Within three moths he had (by common knowledge) drunk away his title, and these expensive articles were no longer from the pen of a World Champion. His fall was a terrible shock to him; worse than the defeat even, was the attitude of the world of chess. Never greatly liked, he had made enemies everywhere and, restrained hitherto by his renown, they now emerged like rats from their holes to revile and belittle him.

He retired to his château in France, and for weeks I could not get a word out of him. Finally, I had to issue my magazine without the article from his pen that everybody had been promised. The time came to send off his monthly cheque. What to do? I deliberated a while, then sent it off as usual. I was sorry for him. Within a few days came two such articles as I have never printed before or since; they were the talk of the chess cafés for weeks.
(July 9, 1949)

Alekhine marries

Alekhine was a highly-strung and irritable man and could not easily have found a companion so supremely able to humour and control his vagaries as the American lady who helped him to regain his World Championship in 1937. On first impressions she was rather uninteresting. Only lengthier acquaintance revealed her quiet charm and remarkable strength of character. Alekhine would probably have been astonished if anybody had told him how much her ability to put up with his temperamental ups and downs had helped him.
(July 1, 1950)

Alekhine plays

The great Alekhine, who himself confessed that he was more interested in exceptions than rules, who would always try any bizarre move once, even in a World Championship match, was […] a rewarding study. His every movement was infused with a sort of suppressed volcanic energy. He would chain-smoke through a five-hour session, plucking his cigarette from his lips with almost explosive violence. Having made his move, he would snatch (“take” is an inadequate word) a cup of coffee, drain it at a gulp, leap to his feet, stride to and fro like a caged lion, occasionally (more like a panther now) steal up and peep over his opponent’s shoulder from behind to see how the position looked the other way round.
(September 29, 1951)

Alekhine smoking
Alekhine smoking during the 1935 World Championship match against Euwe. From


Alekhine and the man who stares

Alekhine and the man who stares

The Portuguese champion Francisco Lupi told a bizarre story in Chess, April 1947:

We arrived at Cáceres, a little Spanish town, Dr. Alekhine and I, at the beginning of December, 1945. We were strolling down a road, when he suddenly stopped as if he had seen a demon: “I’m done for!” he said, “It is the man who stares!”

He tried to conceal his six feet behind my four feet six inches. A short distance ahead, a little man with a large smile was waving his umbrella.

I learnt the story. This man followed Alekhine about gazing earnestly into the champion’s eyes, practically from the end of Alekhine’s nose, in cafés, bars, hotels, tournaments, everywhere! He had watched Alekhine playing fifteen games simultaneously blindfold some months before and he had been so impressed that he had been practically unable to sleep ever since. He had become obsessed with the idea that the “trick” had something to do with Alekhine’s eyes which must act by radar or something of the sort; and in trying to explore this theory he nearly pestered Alekhine to distraction.

Alekhine - Pariser Zeitung 1941-02-16
Alexander Alekhine (Pariser Zeitung, February 16 1941)

The state of chess in Paris

The state of chess in Paris

By Robert John Buckley

Rosenthal has held the field in Paris for many years, but his star is waning. Taubenhaus and Goetz are now in possession, and de Riviére is more to the fore than ever. There has been a great split among the Parisian chessists, and an opposition room is now running in the Boulevard des Italiens. The old Café de la Regence holds its own as yet, and no doubt will continue to do so. We played five games there last week, and we may shortly give our friends the best of them.

The old place has been renovated since last we saw it, but the old-fashioned look remains. There is no chess until evening, and we were able to inspect the picture of Mr. Morphy playing eight games blindfold without inconveniencing anybody. It is an old French paint, and represents the great master as sitting with his back to the players without any facial bandage. The room appears to have been the second or inner chamber on the ground floor, which is used as a billiard room. The place is not so quiet and favourable for chess play as Simpson’s Divan, London.

This is probably the sketch mentioned by Buckley. From the John G. White collection at the Cleveland Public Library.

The French amateurs, contrary to expectation, are terribly slow; and they affect the French Defence – unfairly called by George Walker the “sneak” opening – to an alarming extent. When first player they often adopt the Double Fianchetto, which they call “the little Chapels.” They are wonderfully polite and obliging, and do not explain it too much when they lose.
[Source: Birmingham Weekly Mercury, August 15 1891]

Robert John Buckley – Hofmann
Paris 1891
Notes by Buckley
(remove White’s queen knight) 1. e4 e6 2. f4
Bad in even games, but affording good chances to the odds given.
2 … Nc6
d5 was his plan, followed after White’s e5, by c5.
3. Nf3 d5 4. e5 f6! 5. d4 Be7 6. c3 Nh6 7. Bd3 O-O 8. h4 Nf5 9. g4 Ng3 10. Rh3 Ne4 11. Qc2 f5 12. g5 g6
This pawn should not have been moved at the present. It can now be attacked by h5 whenever convenient to White.
13. Be3 Qe8 14. O-O-O Nd8 15. Rdh1 c5
This good move comes a little late.
16. Qh2 c4 17. Bc2 Nf7


18. h5
White having completed his arrangements, now proceeds to business.
18 … Nh8 19. hxg6 Qxg6 20. Rxh7 Nf7
To prevent Rh8+, or Rh6 attacking the queen.
21. Ba4
With an object which becomes apparent a little later.
21 … a6
Intending b5 to enable him to develop the bishop on c8.
And in this position White mated in four moves.
[Source: Birmingham Weekly Mercury, September 12 1891]

Our accomplished confrére, M. Numa Preti, in the September issue of his charming magazine, La Stratégie, points out that in our notice of French amateur play, we have not sufficiently considered that eight of the players at the Café de la Regence are foreigners. M. Preti says that the modern school has very few followers among the French players.
[Source: Birmingham Weekly Mercury, October 3 1891]

Chess in 1918: Rubinstein-Schlechter

Chess in 1918: Rubinstein-Schlechter

In his chess column in Allgemeine Sport-Zeitung (January 13 1918) Schlechter announced that he was to play a match against Rubinstein:

At the end of Januar Schlechter and Rubinstein will play a small match at Kerkaupalast in Berlin. The match will begin on January 19 [the first game was in fact played on the 21st. ed.]. 6 games will be played. Draws counts as half a point. The player with the most points will be declared winner and is awarded 1000 Marks, and the other player 600 Marks. In addition both masters will receive compensation for travel and accommodation.

The match was originally scheduled to be played December 1917, but postponed because Rubinstein “at the last moment demanded completely different conditions”.
(Source: Deutsche Schachzeitung, December 1917, p. 282)

On his way to Berlin Schlechter made a stop in Prague and gave a simultaneous exhibition. He played 37 opponents, won 24, lost 4, and drew 9 games.

Carl Schlechter
Carl Schlechter.

Carl Schlechter – NN
Prague, January 16 1918
1. Nc3 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 d6 4. e4 Bg4 5. Bb5 Bxf3 6. gxf3 exd4 7. Qxd4 Qf6 8. Qe3 Nge7? 9. Nd5
And white won in a few moves.
(Source: Deutsche Schachzeitung, February 1918, p. 45)

Rubinstein also played a simul before the match. In Berlin on January 19 he won 24 games and only lost one. The exhibition took place at Kerkau-Palast, the same venue that hosted the match.

Akiba Rubinstein – W. Preisswerk
Berlin, January 19 1918
1. e4 e5 2. f4 Bc5 3. Nf3 d6 4. Nc3 Nc6 5. Bb5 Bg4 6. h3 Bxf3 7. Bxc6+ bxc6 8. Qxf3 Qh4+ 9. g3 Qe7 10. d3 Nf6 11. Bd2 Nd7 12. o-o-o o-o 13. f5 Rab8 14. Kb1 Bd4 15. g4 d5 16. b3 Qa3 17. g5 Nc5 18. Bc1

18… Nxb3 19. cxb3 Rxb3+ 20. axb3 Qxb3+ 21. Bb2 Bxc3 22. Rh2 Rb8 23. Rdd2 a5 24. Rc2 d4 25. g6 hxg6 26. fxg6 fxg6 27. Rhg2 a4 28. Rxg6 Bxb2 29. Rxg7+ Kh8 30. Rg8+ Qxg8 31. Qh5+ Qh7 32. Qxe5+ Qg7 33. Qxg7+ Kxg7 34. Rxb2 Rb5 35. Ka2 Rxb2+ 36. Kxb2 c5 37. Ka3 c4 38. Kxa4 cxd3 39. Kb3 c5 40. h4 c4+ 41. Kb2 c3+ 42. Kc1 d2+ 43. Kd1 Kf6 44. Ke2 Ke5 45. h5 Kxe4, white resigns.
(Source: The Reading Observer, May 18 1918)

Akiba Rubinstein.
Akiba Rubinstein.

The day before the match Jacques Mieses published a long piece in Berliner Tageblatt (January 20):

Despite the horrible fight for our existence that demands all the power of our nation, and which we have fought for 3½ years, there is an almost unabated interest in all intellectual fields in our fatherland. That is a phenomenon which we can be proud of. The fact that we can once more organize an interesting chess match in the nation’s capital, in this time of weapons clinking, is a joyful event. Not just from a chess point of view but also in general.

This time it is two foreign masters, C. Schlechter of Vienna and A. Rubinstein of Warsaw, who will wrestle each other in the Kerkau-Palast, the scene of so many exciting chess battles. Because of the present circumstances it has not been possible to properly measure the fighter’s strengths in a long decisive match. The masters will only play a series of six games, but with the well-founded reputation of the two matadors, even a short clash between the two can be categorized as a significant chess event.

The match mainly came about on the initiative of the well-known Berlin chess publisher and teacher B. Kagan, who also organized the Lasker-Tarrasch match in 1916. His name is sweet music especially to the ears of chess enthusiasts in the German and Austrian-Hungarian forces. Despite the war, B. Kagan has published a great number of stimulating chess books and made them available free of charge to chess friends at the front, in the field hospitals, and in the infirmaries. Thus he has greatly contributed to the spreading and popularity of the noble game and deserves the gratitude of so many soldiers. (…) The games between Rubinstein and Schlechter will undoubtedly be followed with excitement by many chess friends in uniform.

The match begins tomorrow, January 21. To predict the mutual chances of the matadors is a delicate matter. Both have performed excellently in tournaments as well as matches and they are completely evenly matched. Famously, Schlechter is the only player who has drawn a match against World Champion Lasker. In a match as short as the present, luck could play a role which must not be underestimated as the first couple of games could decide the end result. So even if surprises could very well be possible, they would not be surprises to chess connoisseurs.


Was Rubinstein a traitor?

World War 1 was still raging. Rubinstein (Russia) and Schlechter (Austria-Hungary) were citizens of countries at war with each other, and Rubinstein participated in an event on enemy soil. Did that make Rubinstein a traitor? Some in the British press thought so:

Mr Yates notes in “Yorks. W. Post” that Rubinstein seems to have thrown in his lot definitely with his country’s enemies, and is now engaged in a match with Schlechter at Vienna [in a later column this was corrected to Berlin. Ed.]. – If so, we can chalk Mr Rubinstein off as a poor creature, and certainly can’t congratulate him on his move from the frying pan into the fire! Russia is in the melting pot, but the Ramshackle Show is practically in “Blazes.”

(Source: Falkirk Herald March 20 1918)

Rubinstein lived in Warsaw which had been occupied by German troops since 1915. He was a Russian citizen, but lived in a Poland that hungered after independence. At the time of the match an armistice between Russia and the Central Powers (mainly Germany and Austria-Hungary) had been in place for a month, and peace negotiations were under way. A peace treaty was signed on March 3. Poland gained independence after the end of WW1 in November 1918, and Rubinstein automatically gained Polish citizenship.

The games

Game 1

Carl Schlechter – Akiba Rubinstein
Berlin, January 21 1918
Notes by Carl Schlechter
Additional notes by Jacques Mieses
1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. d3
White wanted to bring about the well-known variation 4… Bb4 5. Bg5 h6 6. Bxf6 Bxc3+! 7. bxc3 Qxf6 8. Ne2 (as in the game Schlechter-Leonhardt, Bad Pistyan 1912). However, Rubinstein remembered his game against Mieses in the 1908 Vienna tournament and avoided the danger with 4… Bc5.
4… Bc5 5. Be3
White could transpose to the so-called “Giuoco Piano” with 5. Nf3. 5. Bg5 came into consideration.
5… Bb6
The opening of the f-file with 5… Bxe3 would be advantageous for white. White would continue with Qf3, Nge2 followed by 0-0 and attain very strong play.
6. Qd2 d6 7. Nge2 Be6 8. Bxe6
White could of course just as well have played 8. Bb3 or 8. Bd5. The text move releases the tension too soon.
8… fxe6 9. Bxb6
This exchange is the natural follow-up to the 8th move.
9… axb6 10. 0-0 0-0 11. f4

11… d5!
Mieses: White’s opening doesn’t give black any problems. Black completely equalizes with the text move.
12. exd5
White could bring about complications with 12. fxe5 Nxe5 13. Qg5 Qd6!, but that would only be favorable for black.
Mieses: 12. fxe5 Nxe5 13. Qg5 was also to be considered but black has the strong reply 13… Qd6. Then white can’t play 14. Nb5 because of 14… Qc5+, and if 14. d4 then 14… Nf7 15. Qe3 e5 after which the game peters out. [At the end of this line black had an even better move, 15… Qxh2+! winning a pawn. ed.]
12… exd5 13. fxe5 Nxe5 14. Nd4 Qd7 15. Rae1 Rae8 16. Qg5

The position is very dangerous for black. Rubinstein thought for a long time and found the best move.
16… Nc6!
The best. 16… Ng6 would be bad because of 17. h4. If 16… Qg4 then 17. Qxg4 Nexg4 18. Ne6 Rf7 19. h3. After 16… Nf7 17. Qf5! black would be under pressure.
17. Ncb5 Nxd4 18. Nxd4 Rxe1 19. Rxe1 Re8 20. Re5 h6 21. Qe3 Rxe5 22. Qxe5 Qe8 23. Qxe8+ Nxe8 24. Ne6 Kf7 Draw.
Of course, white doesn’t play 25. Nd8+ followed by Nxb7 because the knight would be lost, but rather 25. Nf4.

Deutsche Schachzeitung February 1918 pp. 28-29
Tidskrift för Schack January-February 1918 pp. 13-14

Kerkau-Palast in Berlin, the playing venue.

Game 2

Akiba Rubinstein – Carl Schlechter
Berlin, January 22 1918
Notes by Carl Schlechter
Additional notes by Jacques Mieses, John Donaldson & Nikolay Minev, and I. M. Brown
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 d6 3. Nc3 Nbd7 4. e4 e5 5. Nge2
The knight is much better placed here than on f3.
5… g6 6. g3 Bg7 7. Bg2 exd4
This exchange seems to be necessary, otherwise white closes the position with d4-d5 giving black a cramped game.
8. Nxd4 0-0 9. 0-0 Nc5
Maybe 9… Ne5 was better in order to continue with Bd7 and Nc6.
10. h3
This move was probably not necessary. 10. f3 could be played at once.
Mieses: Preparing Be3.
10… Re8 11. f3 Bd7 12. Be3 a6
Preparing the break b7-b5. There is no other obvious plan for black.
Mieses: Black dare not keep passive because of the threat Nd5 followed by f4. An attack on the queenside is his only chance.
13. Qd2 Ne6 14. Kh2

14… b5 15. cxb5 Nxd4 16. Bxd4 axb5 17. a3 Rb8 18. f4 Be6
Very dangerous, as the bishop is exposed to the attack of the white f-pawn. Very much to be considered was 18… b4 and best play would be 19. axb4 Rxb4 20. e5! dxe5 21. Bxe5!. If 21. fxe5 Nh5! threatening Rxd4 and white would be in a very difficult position.
Mieses: 18… Bc8 would be better than the text move.
19. Nd5! c6 20. Nxf6+ Bxf6

21. f5
A very strong move which gives white the advantage. 21. Bxf6 Qxf6 22. Qxd6 Qxb2 23. Qxc6 Rbc8 gives black good attacking chances.
21… gxf5
Forced. After 21… Bg5 22. fxe6! white would win easily and brilliantly. If 21… Bc4 then simply 22. fxg6.
22. exf5 Bc4 23. Rfe1! Re5
The best. After 23… Rxe1 24. Rxe1 nothing can save black, for example 24… Bg5 25. Re8+! Qxe8 26. Qxg5+ Kf8 27. Bg7+ Kg8 28. Bh6+ followed by Qg7#.
Mieses: The exchange sacrifice is forced because after 23… Bxd4 24. Qxd4 white threatens both Bxc6 and f6, rendering black’s position untenable.
24. Bxe5 Bxe5 25. Bxc6 Qf6

26. Rxe5
White was in time trouble here and had to look for a clear and convenient continuation. 26. Rab1 was probably better and if 26… d5 then 27. b3.
Mieses: Rubinstein was not forced to give back the exchange but could very well have kept the material advantage with 26. Rab1. However, he was in time trouble and after 26. Rab1 d5 the passed d-pawn could have given him difficulties. Psychologically, the exchange sacrifice can be explained in this way.
Brown: Not forced, for 26. Rab1 Ba2 27. Rbc1 sufficed.
Donaldson & Minev: We think that after 26. Rab1 Kh8! (intending 27… Rg8, if 27. Rg1 d5!), Black has strong counterplay and good compensation for the exchange. [Donaldson & Minev seems to have missed the tactic 26. Rab1 Kh8 27. b3! and after 27… Bc3 28. Qe3 Bxe1 29. bxc4 Bc3 30. cxb5 the two passed pawns should win. Ed.]
26… dxe5 27. Be4 Rd8 28. Qe3 Rd4 29. Re1
Mieses: Better was probably 29. Rg1 followed by Rg2.
29… Qd8 30. f6
Otherwise f7-f6 and black is safe.
30… Qxf6 31. Bg2 Rd3 Draw
Possible was 32. Qxe5 Qxe5 33. Rxe5 Rd2 34. Kg1 Rxb2 35. Re3 with equality.
Mieses: 31… e4 would have increased black’s chances.

Deutsche Schachzeitung February 1918 pp. 29-30
Tidskrift för Schack January-February 1918 pp. 14-15
British Chess Magazine April 1918 pp. 118-119
Donaldson & Minev: The Life & Games of Akiva Rubinstein p. 312

The only known photo from the match. Rubinstein is seated on the left, and Schlechter on the right.
The only known photo from the match. Rubinstein is seated on the left, Schlechter on the right.

Game 3

Carl Schlechter – Akiba Rubinstein
Berlin, January 23 1918
Notes by Carl Schlechter
Additional notes by Jacques Mieses
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. Qe2
An ineffective continuation. The best way of playing is 5. 0-0.
Mieses: This variation is seldomly played. It is considered to give black an easy defense.
5… b5 6. Bb3 Bc5 7. a4 Rb8 8. axb5 axb5 9. d3
9. Nc3 0-0 is more common. But even that gives no more than equality.
9… 0-0 10. 0-0 d6 11. Be3 Bg4 12. h3 Bxf3 13. Qxf3 Nd4 14. Bxd4 Bxd4
It would seem that a dreary drawish position has arisen, however, the play becomes quite lively now.
15. Nc3
Better than 15. c3, after which it will not be so easy to develop the knight.

15… g6
The World Champion [Emanuel Lasker. Ed.] recommends 15… Bxc3 followed by Nd7 or Ra8. Maybe Rubinstein avoided this continuation because he wanted to keep the opposite-colored bishops.
16. Nd1 Nh5 17. c3 Bc5 18. Ne3 b4 19. Bc4 bxc3 20. bxc3 Qg5 21. Rfd1!
Black doesn’t pay nearly enough attention to the attack in the centre. He should play for a draw with 21… Qf4.
21… Nf4?
Mieses: Not good, as the continuation shows. 21… Rb2 would have been better.
22. d4

22… exd4?
Now black loses a piece. The bishop had to go to b6 immediately.
Mieses: A mistake which costs a piece. After 22… Bb6 23. dxe5 dxe5 24. Rd7 white only has a small positional advantage.
23. cxd4 Bb6
If 23… d5 then 24. dxc5 dxc4 25. h4.
24. h4!
A move that is certainly easy to overlook.
24… Qxh4
Mieses: If 24… Qf6 then 25. Ng4.
25. g3 Qf6
Best. Black gets two pawns for the piece, though he must exchange queens. If 25… Nh3+ then 26. Kg2 Qh6 27. Ng4.
26. Qxf4 Bxd4 27. Qxf6 Bxf6 28. Ra7 Bd8 29. Rda1 Rb4 30. Bd5 Rb2 31. Rc1 h5 32. Rc2 Rb1+ 33. Kg2 Kg7

34. Ba2
White chooses a very sharp line. Clearer and safer was 34. Nc4-a5-c6.
34… Re1 35. Nd5 Rxe4 36. Nxc7 Re7 37. Rc6 Rh8 38. Nb5 Rxa7 39. Nxa7 h4 40. Rxd6
If 40. g4, to avoid further pawn exchanges, then 40… h3+ followed by Bg5 is dangerous for white.
40… hxg3 41. fxg3 Re8 42. Bc4 f5 43. Nc6 Bf6 44. Nd4 Re4 45. Ne6+ Kh6 46. Nf4 Kg7
Of course, after 46… Rxc4 47. Rxf6 white has an easily won game.
47. Rc6 Re1 48. Rc7+
Mieses: The simplest was probably 48. Be2 with the threat of Bh5.
48… Kh6 49. Bg8 Rb1
Mieses: Rubinstein defends himself as well as possible, but in vain.
50. Rc6
The continuation 50. Rh7+ Kg5 51. Nh3+ Kg4 52. Bd5 would be useless. 52… Rb2+ would follow and black’s king escapes the mating net.
50… Kg7 51. Bd5
51. Bh7 was faster.
51… Rd1

52. Re6!
Now white is on the right path. The continuation is clear and forcing.
Mieses: White wants to play the bishop to e8 to attack the g-pawn.
52… Rd4 53. Bc6! Rd2+ 54. Kh3 Rd1 55. Be8! Rh1+ 56. Kg2 Rh6 57. Rb6
Mieses: Black is in a fatal zugzwang.
57… Be5 58. Nxg6 Bf6 59. Nf4 black resigns.

Deutsche Schachzeitung February 1918 pp. 31-32
Tidskrift för Schack January-February 1918 pp. 15-16

Game 4

Akiba Rubinstein – Carl Schlechter
Berlin, January 26 1918
Notes by Carl Schlechter
Additional notes by Jacques Mieses, Hans Kmoch, Walter Penn Shipley and Fritz Englund
1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. c4 c6
Mieses: This defense has recently been abandoned as inferior, and it is strange that Schlechter would play it on such an occasion.
4. Nc3 dxc4
Mieses: 4… Ne4 is surely better.
5. e3 Bg4
Shipley: Black with his last two moves has adopted an unusual defense to the Queen’s Pawn Opening. He obtains a fair game, but failed to continue the defense with his usual ability, becoming somewhat indifferent in his play in the middle game.
6. Bxc4
Already threatening 7. Ne5 and 7. Bxf7+.
6… e6 7. 0-0 Nbd7 8. h3 Bxf3
Kmoch: 8… Bh5 was preferable. But even then black’s position would not be good as white’s center is too strong.
9. Qxf3 Be7 10. Rd1 0-0 11. e4 Re8
“White now has a strong centre and uses it impetuously” – says the World Champion in the “B. Z.” [Berliner Tageszeitung. Ed.]
12. Bf4 Nf8
Mieses: This is a mistake as white’s reply shows. Black hardly had anything better than 12… b5 followed by Qb6, but then he had to abandon sound positional play.
Kmoch: White certainly has the superior position, by reason of his two bishops. Nevertheless it is amazing how quickly Rubinstein annihilates the opposing army.

13. d5!
This breakthrough decides the issue in white’s favor.
13… exd5 14. exd5 Qb6
Kmoch: If 14… cxd5 black loses the b-pawn to say the least: 15. Nxd5 Nxd5 16. Bxd5 Qb6 17. Bxb7 Rad8 18. Bd5 and now 18… Qxb2 is refuted by 19. Bxf7+ Kxf7 20. Be5+.
15. d6! Bd8 16. g4
Threatens g5 and if need be Bxf7+.
Mieses: Clever. Even the obvious 16. Na4 would have led to a winning position for white.
Kmoch: Threatening 17. g5 N6d7 18. Bxf7+ and Be3+. If black plays 16… Qxb2 there would follow 17. g5 Nd5 (17… N6d7 18. Bxf7+) 18. Nxd5 cxd5 19. Bxd5 and no less than four terrible threats impend. 20. Bc1; 20. Be5; 20. Bxf7+, and 20. Bxb7 followed by d7.
16… Ne6
Mieses: Black had nothing better.

17. d7!
The start of a pretty and well-calculated combination.
17… Re7
Kmoch: With 17… Rf8 18. Bd6 Nxd7 black might have put up a better fight.
18. Bd6 Rxd7 19. Bxe6 fxe6 20. g5 Rxd6
If the knight moves then of course 21. Qf8#. That is the point of the combination initiated with 17. d7.
Kmoch: If 20… Qxb2 then 21. Rab1 followed by exf6.
21. Rxd6 Qc5
Englund: If 21… Bc7 then 22. Rxe6 Ne8 23. Nd5 threatening 24. Ne7+ and 25.Qf8#.
22. Rxd8+ Rxd8 23. gxf6 Qg5+ 24. Qg4
Mieses: The simplest would be 24. Kh1 Qxf6 25. Qxf6 gxf6 26. Rd1 and the endgame is hopeless for black.
24… Qxf6
Or 24… Qxg4+ 25. hxg4 gxf6 26. Rd1 and white wins easily.
25. Re1 e5 26. Qg3 Re8 27. Ne4 Qe7

28. Rd1
A very strong move. But 28. Ng5 also came into consideration. As an example look at this exciting variation: 28. Ng5 h6 29. Qb3+ Kh8 30. Rxe5! Qd7 31. Qd3! and white wins.
28… Rf8 29. Rd6 Kh8 30. Qg4 Rd8 31. Re6
Mieses: Even 31. Ng5 Rxd6 32. Qc8+ Rd8 33. Qxd8+ Qxd8 34. Nf7+ is possible.
31… Qb4 32. Qg5 Qe1+ 33. Kh2 Rf8 34. Re7 Black resigns
If 34… Rxf2+ then 35. Nxf2 Qxf2+ 36. Qg2 Qf4+ 37. Kh1 Qc1+ 38. Qg1 and white wins.

Deutsche Schachzeitung February 1918 pp. 32-33
Tidskrift för Schack January-February 1918 pp. 16-17
Kmoch: Rubinstein Chess Masterpieces pp. 90-92
The Philadelphia Inquirer June 2 1918

Schlechter wrote in Deutsche Schachzeitung, February 1918 pp. 25-26:

The score after the 4th game was: Rubinstein +1, Schlechter +1, and 2 draws. Thus the match was shrunken to two games. This increased the tension of both players and indeed, the two remaining games were the worst of the match. The 5th game was, just like the third, decided by a big blunder.

Game 5

Carl Schlechter – Akiba Rubinstein
Berlin, January 27 1918
Notes by Carl Schlechter
Additional notes by Jacques Mieses, Gunnar Gundersen, Evgeny Pigusov, Herman Helms, and The Washington Post (the name of the chess editor is not known)
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Bxc6 dxc6 5. Nc3 f6
Mieses: Considered to be a good nowadays.
Gundersen: We do not care for this move. It was first brought into prominence by Schlechter in his game with Lasker in the London tourney of 1899 – an uneventful draw.
6. d4 exd4 7. Qxd4
Gundersen: In the above-mentioned game Lasker played 7. Nxd4, departing from his usual style of getting queens off the board as soon as possible.
7… Qxd4 8. Nxd4 Bd6 9. Be3
The comment by the World Champion in the “B. Z.” that white developed this bishop too soon is hard to understand. Eventually all the pieces have to be developed and the bishop is excellently placed on e3.
9… Ne7
Gundersen: We prefer 9. 0-0-0 as played by Alekhine against Lasker in the Petrograd tourney of 1914. A most interesting game ensued, Lasker winning after 90 moves.
10. 0-0 Bd7 11. Rad1 c5 12. Nde2 Ng6 13. Nd5
The Washington Post: Rather better would have been 13. Rd2, followed by doubling of the rooks, which should be exchanged early so that neither side may gain control of the open file.
13… 0-0-0

White is arguably a little better in this position. The correct continuation was 14. c4, but instead came a huge blunder.
Mieses: The best move. Furthermore, it contains a trap which Schlechter falls into.
14. Nb6+??
Pigusov: Better was 14. Ng3 followed by Nf5.
The Washington Post: Again, doubling of the rooks would have been in order.
14… cxb6 15. Rxd6 Bb5
Pigusov: Black is winning.
16. Rxd8+ Rxd8 17. Nc3
Mieses: If 17. Re1 then of course 17… Bxe2.
17… Bxf1 18. Kxf1
Gundersen: White has now a losing game. It is instructive to notice carefully how Rubinstein makes his four pawns to three on the queen side tell.
18… Kc7 19. Ke2 Kc6 20. Nb1 b5 21. Nd2 Ne5 22. Nf1 Nc4 23. Bc1 a5 24. Ne3 Nxe3 25. Bxe3 a4 26. f3 b4 27. Bd2 Kb5 28. Be3 Kc4 29. Bd2 b3 30. cxb3+ axb3 31. a3 b5 32. g4 Ra8
Mieses: Threatening Rxa3.
33. Bc1 b4 34. axb4 Ra1 35. b5

Mieses: A lovely jest and Rubinstein plays along. The game now ends with a little fireworks.
Gundersen: At first sight this looks as if were black to capture the bishop the pawn would advance safely to queen.
35… Rxc1
Pigusov: 35… Kxb5 also wins.
36. b6 Rc2+ 37. Kd1
Mieses: If 37. Ke3 then 37… Rc3+! followed by Rd3 and Rd8.
37… Rxb2
[Some sources claims the game ended here, but most sources including Schlechter himself in Deutsche Schachzeitung, gives one more move. Ed.]
38. b7 Rxh2 White resigns
Mieses: If 39. b8=Q then 39… b2 and white only has a check on g8.
Helms: A curious ending, cleverly worked out by Rubinstein. If white now queens his pawn, then 39… b2, and the black rook cannot be captured, because black queens in turn and, on the following move, wins his opponent’s queen. If the rook is not taken, then there is no way to meet the threat of 40… b1=Q, followed by Rh1+, after which black’s passed pawn would win easily. Neither would 40. Qg8+ open a way of escape to white.

Deutsche Schachzeitung March 1918 pp. 49-50
Tidskrift för Schack January-February 1918 p. 17
American Chess Bulletin May-June 1918 p. 128
The Australasian May 25 1918
The Philadelphia Inquirer May 26 1918
The Washington Post June 6 1918
Glatman: Akiba Rubinstein’s Chess Academy p. 114

Game 6

Akiba Rubinstein – Carl Schlechter
Berlin, January 29 1918
Notes by Carl Schlechter
Additional notes by Jacques Mieses
1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. c4 e6 4. Nc3 Nbd7 5. Bg5 c6 6. e3 Qa5 7. Qb3?

A serious mistake which black could refute as follows: 7… Ne4! 8. Bh4 g5! 9. Bg3 h5! 10. h4 Nxg3 11. fxg3 g4 12. Ng1 Bh6! 13. Kf2 Nb6! with a completely superior position. However, black overlooked the winning opportunity on the king side and chose a continuation that only led to equality. [In this line the computer, in this case Stockfish 8, prefers 12. Ng5 and claims equality. Apparently there is no way to trap the knight with f7-f6 before the rest of white’s forces come to the rescue. Ed.]
7… Ne4! 8. Bh4 Bb4?
Mieses: 8… g5 doesn’t give black anything; 9. Bg3 h5 10. h4! g4 11. Ng1 Bd6 12. Nge2 etc.
9. Rc1 Nb6 10. Bd3 dxc4 11. Bxc4 Qa4
Mieses: 11… Na4 could not be recommended because of 12. O-O Naxc3 13. bxc3 Nxc3 (or 13… Bxc3) 14. a3! and white wins a piece. Or 12… Bxc3 13. bxc3 Naxc3 (if 13… Nexc3 then 14. Qa3!) 14. Bd3 with advantage for white. 11… Nd5, however, would be a good continuation for black.
12. Bd3 Qxb3 13. axb3
And the game was drawn after a prolonged endgame.
13… Nf6 14. Ke2 Nbd5 15. Ne5 Be7 16. Ra1 Nb4 17. Bb1 b6 18. Rc1 Bb7 19. f3 Nfd5 20. Bxe7 Kxe7 21. Nd3 Rhc8 22. Nxd5+ Nxd5

23. b4 g6 24. Bc2 f6 25. Bb3 Rd8 26. Ra3
Mieses: The tempting 26. b5 is refuted by 26… Rd6.
26… a6 27. Ba4 Rac8 28. e4 Nc7

29. Bxc6 Bxc6 30. Rxc6 Nb5 31. Rxc8 Rxc8 32. Rxa6 Nxd4+ 33. Ke3
Mieses: If the king moves to the first rank, then Rc2 follows with some chances for black.
33… Nc2+ 34. Kd2 Nd4 35. Ke3 Nc2+ 36. Kd2 Nd4 Draw

Deutsche Schachzeitung March 1918 p. 50
Tidskrift för Schack January-February 1918 p. 18

Schlechter was not happy about the quality of play. He wrote:

With the outstanding class of both grandmasters one could expect noteworthy performances. Unfortunately these expectations were not met, the play was weak, very weak. We believe that six games are too few. Every single game can decisively influence the outcome of the match and that paralyzes the players. Even the six games between Lasker and Tarrasch in the autumn of 1917 [1916. Ed.] were hardly grandmasterly performances.

(Source: Deutsche Schachzeitung February 1918 p. 25)

It is not known where Rubinstein went after the match, but he probably returned to his home in Warsaw. He and Schlechter would meet again less than 3 months later in Berlin to play a small 4-player tournament.

Schlechter stayed on in Berlin and gave a simultaneous exhibition on Januar 31. He won 19 games and drew 1. On his way back to Vienna he visited Aussig (now Ústí nad Labem) and played 5 games simultaneously against consulting players. He won 4 and drew against the team of Thierfelder and Dörfler. He would visit Aussig twice more that year in connection with his travels to Berlin.

(Source: Deutsche Schachzeitung July 1918 p. 166)