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TOURNAMENT STANDINGS
Berlin Tournament

Jose Raul Capablanca8.5/12(+5 -0 =7)[games]
Aron Nimzowitsch7/12(+4 -2 =6)[games]
Rudolf Spielmann6.5/12(+3 -2 =7)[games]
Savielly Tartakower5.5/12(+2 -3 =7)[games]
Akiba Rubinstein5/12(+4 -6 =2)[games]
Richard Reti5/12(+3 -5 =4)[games]
Frank James Marshall4.5/12(+1 -4 =7)[games]
Siegbert Tarrasch0/3(+0 -3 =0)[games]
*

Chessgames.com Chess Event Description
Berlin (1928)

In 1928 the Berliner Schachgesellschaft celebrated its centenary with a tournament from February 4th to the 20th followed by another tournament, the Ehrenpreis der Stadt Berlin, held from September 22nd to October 6th. It was on the heels of this event that Jacques Mieses organized an 'Elite Turnier' through his newspaper, the Berliner Tageblatt. The Elite Turnier was held in the Café König, Unter den Linden, Berlin from October 11th to the 29th. Eight of the world's best players were invited to participate in the double round robin event, including former world champion Jose Capablanca, former world challengers Siegbert Tarrasch and Frank Marshall, and potential world challengers Akiba Rubinstein and Aron Nimzowitsch. The line up was rounded out by two hypermodernists, Richard Réti and Savielly Tartakower, and the romantic player Rudolph Spielmann. The collection of top players was quite a coup for Mieses who had only secured 10,000 marks for the tournament's budget. The time control for the tournament was 30 moves in two hours followed by 15 moves in one hour. If by 5 pm of the day of play games were not normally concluded, then they were to be adjourned until they could be completed on rest days.

The tournament was an important success for the recently defeated, former world champion Capablanca. Despite his loss of the world title, this victory typified Capablanca's continued presence and dominance at top events for years to come. Despite earning a majority of his total wins against a declining Marshall and an out of form Reti, Capablanca's accurate play and invulnerability yielded another impressive performance at an elite event earning the grand prize of 2000 marks. Second place went to Nimzowitsch, who overtook Spielmann's lead against him when Spielmann suffered two losses in the second half of play. They earned 1400 and 1000 marks respectively. For some players the tournament was an ending of sorts. Rubinstein suffered a terrible performance, losing a won game to Marshall by overstepping the time limit, which was followed by and erratic play for the rest of the tournament. He would place fifth and win only 600 marks. Réti's performance, despite spirited play, was poor for him and he placed second to last. He would die the following summer from scarlet fever. As for Marshall, he placed last, his glory days as top world contender long behind him. Tarrasch only ended up playing three rounds, losing all three of his games before he withdrew due to illness. His results from the tournament were expunged and he was presented with 200 marks by way of compensation. The games are presented here for complete historical accuracy, and also because they were to be the great master's last games from elite competition.

The final standings and crosstable:

1 Capablanca ** ˝˝ ˝˝ ˝˝ 1˝ 11 11 8˝ 2 Nimzowitsch ˝˝ ** ˝0 ˝˝ 01 11 1˝ 7 3 Spielmann ˝˝ ˝1 ** ˝0 11 ˝0 ˝˝ 6˝ 4 Tartakower ˝˝ ˝˝ ˝1 ** 00 ˝0 1˝ 5˝ =5 Rubinstein 0˝ 10 00 11 ** 01 0˝ 5 =5 Réti 00 00 ˝1 ˝1 10 ** ˝˝ 5 7 Marshall 00 0˝ ˝˝ 0˝ 1˝ ˝˝ ** 4˝ Tarrasch 0- -- -- 0- 0- -- -- 0

This game collection could not have been possible without the tireless effort and generosity of <sneaky pete>. He has my continuing and everlasting gratitude.

Original collection: Game Collection: Berlin 1928, by User: suenteus po 147.

 page 1 of 2; games 1-25 of 45  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Reti vs Rubinstein 1-0211928BerlinD47 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
2. Tartakower vs Marshall 1-0531928BerlinE20 Nimzo-Indian
3. Tarrasch vs Capablanca 0-1481928BerlinC71 Ruy Lopez
4. Spielmann vs Nimzowitsch ½-½571928BerlinC03 French, Tarrasch
5. Rubinstein vs Tarrasch 1-0371928BerlinA31 English, Symmetrical, Benoni Formation
6. Capablanca vs Spielmann ½-½681928BerlinD47 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
7. Tartakower vs Reti  ½-½731928BerlinE22 Nimzo-Indian, Spielmann Variation
8. Marshall vs Nimzowitsch 0-1731928BerlinA46 Queen's Pawn Game
9. Reti vs Marshall  ½-½691928BerlinE27 Nimzo-Indian, Samisch Variation
10. Nimzowitsch vs Capablanca ½-½171928BerlinA16 English
11. Spielmann vs Rubinstein 1-0311928BerlinC86 Ruy Lopez, Worrall Attack
12. Tarrasch vs Tartakower 0-1481928BerlinB29 Sicilian, Nimzovich-Rubinstein
13. Rubinstein vs Nimzowitsch 1-0431928BerlinE32 Nimzo-Indian, Classical
14. Tartakower vs Spielmann  ½-½231928BerlinA09 Reti Opening
15. Marshall vs Capablanca 0-1331928BerlinE11 Bogo-Indian Defense
16. Capablanca vs Rubinstein 1-0441928BerlinD02 Queen's Pawn Game
17. Nimzowitsch vs Tartakower ½-½301928BerlinD70 Neo-Grunfeld Defense
18. Spielmann vs Reti  ½-½271928BerlinD51 Queen's Gambit Declined
19. Marshall vs Rubinstein 1-0301928BerlinD52 Queen's Gambit Declined
20. Reti vs Nimzowitsch 0-1571928BerlinE38 Nimzo-Indian, Classical, 4...c5
21. Tartakower vs Capablanca  ½-½201928BerlinC72 Ruy Lopez, Modern Steinitz Defense, 5.O-O
22. Rubinstein vs Tartakower 1-0551928BerlinA84 Dutch
23. Spielmann vs Marshall  ½-½301928BerlinC42 Petrov Defense
24. Capablanca vs Reti 1-0421928BerlinD51 Queen's Gambit Declined
25. Nimzowitsch vs Spielmann 0-1641928BerlinA28 English
 page 1 of 2; games 1-25 of 45  PGN Download
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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Apr-14-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <visayan> The NY 1927 event has information on Lasker's invitation.
Apr-14-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Right now there is one player over 40 in the top 10. There is not a single player over 50 in the top 100; I believe Short, 48, is the oldest. Yes, people in their 40s and 50s can play well, but the fact that the top echelon was so old in the 1920s is really strange and hardly an indication of good health in the game. If you wanted to try to discount Lasker's amazing feats in the 1920s (but who would want to do that?) you'd start with the fact that Euwe was the only top player to come along in the decade (and even he wasn't elite until later in the 20s, viz. London (1922) and Maehrisch-Ostrau (1923)).

Continuing, you could argue that hypermodernism was an expression of this chess decadence, as opposed to the much more valuable Soviet innovations of the 1930s, 40s, and 50s.

Apr-14-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <These may have been the only pre-1930 super GM round robin tournaments in chess history,>

If this wasn't a super GM round robin, they don't exist.

St. Petersburg 1895-96 (1895)

This would have been, but Chigorin had slipped quite a bit (though still ranked #15 in chessmetrics).

Ostend (Championship) (1907)

The St. Petersburg 1914 finale would certainly qualify, considered as a separate tournament. In general, tournament organizers in that era were handicapped by the notion that once a GM, always a GM. Hence Tarrasch invited Burn and Chigorin to Ostend and the St. Petersburg organizers invited Gunsberg (65) and Blackburne (73).

Apr-14-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  john barleycorn: <keypusher: ...In general, tournament organizers in that era were handicapped by the notion that once a GM, always a GM....>

The legend has it that before St. Petersburg 1914 there was no GM title. Allegedly, it was awarded by the tsar to the 5 prize winners of that tournament.

Apr-14-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <john barleycorn: <keypusher: ...In general, tournament organizers in that era were handicapped by the notion that once a GM, always a GM....>

The legend has it that before St. Petersburg 1914 there was no GM title. Allegedly, it was awarded by the tsar to the 5 prize winners of that tournament.>

That legend has been very thoroughly debunked on this website. See e.g. gypsy's post here.

Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian

Apr-14-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  john barleycorn: <keypusher> thanks for the link. I see <gypsy> writing about what makes great players (like Rubinstein or Burn) grandmaster's in his book.

The title and usage of GM seems a bit murky :
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grandm...

Apr-14-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <john barleycorn> Concerning the claim that there was no GM title before the Tsar conferred it on the top five finishers at St. Petersburg 1914, there is no murk at all. It's false.
Apr-14-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  john barleycorn: <keypusher> thanks for the clarification.
Apr-14-14  Karpova: Without an official body awarding GM titles, there was not an official one before FIDE decided to award them. However, the term <Grandmaster> was used regularly before. A good overview is given by Edward Winter here http://www.chesshistory.com/winter/...

And chessplayers were assessed strength-wise according to their prior results - e. g. see my post Akiba Rubinstein and invitations depended on it - e. g see my post here Sergey Nikolaevich Von Freymann for an interesting case. That's why St. Petersburg 1914 was called a GM event prior to its start, see my posts on the page St Petersburg (1914).

In a way, the situation resembled the one today. With GMs at around 2500, the GM title itself is not any longer enough to make clear that the chessplayer belongs to the World elite. So you have to opt for other ways to measure strength instead - back then, these were tournament successes, while today you also have Elo. It may be noted that this was also the core of Tarrasch's famous objection to Yates' particiation in Hamburg 1910, see my post Hamburg (1910). He didn't say that Yates was too weak, but that he had not yet shown enough tournament successes to deserve the invitation. Rubinstein for example still had to play in the B-section of Ostende 1907 (!). This was criticised by Walter John in the 'Generalanzeiger für Elberfeld-Barmen', reprinted on pp. 254-257 of the August-September 1907 'Wiener Schachzeitung'.

Apr-14-14  RedShield: <Might you provide us with a source for that?>

<Abduction[1] is a form of logical inference that goes from observation to a hypothesis that accounts for the reliable data (observation) and seeks to explain relevant evidence.

[...]

In abductive reasoning, unlike in deductive reasoning, the premises do not guarantee the conclusion. One can understand abductive reasoning as "inference to the best explanation">

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abduct...

It's not enough for me to say that Lasker just retired. I want to know why he retired.

Apr-14-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: The only king I know that has conferred a Grandmaster title is Frederick the Great of Prussia.
Apr-14-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Who originated the GM title, and when, is of little significance to me.

Even those of us who post in these pages nowadays have a fair idea who could play at an elite level; I rather think these players of yesteryear knew, all posturing aside.

Apr-14-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <RedShield>

<It's not enough for me to say that Lasker just retired. I want to know why he retired.>

But you do know why Lasker retired: because he was afraid of Alekhine. You've said so repeatedly. You've just never managed to give a scrap of evidence for it.

Apr-14-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: <keypusher>: <But you do know why Lasker retired: because he was afraid of Alekhine. You've said so repeatedly. You've just never managed to give a scrap of evidence for it.>

On behalf of RedShield, I apologize for his forgetting his own position. As for why Lasker was afraid of Alekhine, perhaps it's because he had a winning record against him, and knew his luck couldn't hold up?

Apr-14-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: This man was made a Grand Master by Frederick the Great: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manue... Grand Master of the Order of Saint John.
Apr-15-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: <keypusher: If this wasn't a super GM round robin, they don't exist.> I agree St. Petersburg 1895-96 (1895) is a super GM tournament. And in the 19th century. I would qualify then as the first super GM round robin tournament in chess history, fittingly won by the then newly proclaimed World Champion 26 year old Lasker. He was the chess world's rising young star just a few years before. No one could have imagined that he would be Champion until 1921.

<perfidious: <visayan> The NY 1927 event has information on Lasker's invitation.>

I read it and was a bit surprised. Seems off the board shenanigans occurred then as now. Nowadays cheating is an issue. I do know that New York 1927 has a funny case of 'cheating in reverse' in the game Capablanca vs Nimzowitsch, 1927

<Calli: No, this one is actually true. Capablanca clinched first place with three rounds to go. He announced that he preferred to draw the three remaining games in order to not influence the second prize. When Nimzo began to falter, Capa asked the TD to tell Nimzo the next couple of moves after which a draw could be agreed. The TD later comfirmed the story in print.

Capablanca wrote in the NY Times:

"... we had a chance to win, of which we did not avail ourselves."

A strange, but true episode in chess history. >

Apr-15-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: <Karpova: In a way, the situation resembled the one today. With GMs at around 2500, the GM title itself is not any longer enough to make clear that the chessplayer belongs to the World elite. So you have to opt for other ways to measure strength instead - back then, these were tournament successes, while today you also have Elo.>

A long time ago, I accepted and believed in titles in the chess world, FM, IM, GM. Nowadays though, I question their necessity. They did not exist in the 19th century, yet every one in the chess world knew which chess player was the real deal, which ones were the true masters, and they all had the same goals, to win tournaments and matches, and to seize the Title of World Champion. Could titles be a form of unnecessary affectation in the chess world? Titles in practice give an advantage to their owners; they get more tournament invitations. Yet it does not mean that an untitled player is necessarily any weaker than a titled one.

The above could have practical consequences. When the Soviet Union was collapsing or had just collapsed, international chess tournaments in the US and Western Europe were suddenly flooded by untitled or 'undertitled' chess players from the SU (and probably underrated by the Elo rating system as well), who in actuality were of GM caliber. Must have caused a surprise at first. I realized then that a non-titled player may be stronger than a titled one.

Rashid Gibiatovich Nezhmetdinov is an example of a player who was never awarded the GM title but who was stronger than probably most of today's GMs.

To put it in another way, suppose we just erase all chess titles in one blow. Would it affect the quality and beauty of chess games, the organization of chess tournaments, and the pursuit of the World Title in the WC cycle? I think everything will continue just as before. Just as in the times before 1950, when FIDE officially began awarding GM tittles.

Apr-15-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Some players are beyond titles. Has anyone ever heard the phrase "GM Fischer"?
Apr-15-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  john barleycorn: some insist that the title means something.
"I am chess grandmaster"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZGu...

Apr-15-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <offramp: Some players are beyond titles. Has anyone ever heard the phrase "GM Fischer"?>

Yes, Soviet sources often referred to him that way.

Apr-15-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: <Titles in practice give an advantage to their owners; they get more tournament invitations. Yet it does not mean that an untitled player is necessarily any weaker than a titled one.>

Yes, because they've proven themselves. And even without titles, the proven star would get more invites than the unproven one. If you're implying that those underrated nameless players from the Soviet Union would have gotten more invites in the early 90's, despite being unknown, if there were no titles, that seems pretty darn unlikely.

It also seems unlikely that "every one" in the 19th century knew who the top stars were. Communications were poor, databases were non-existent, and even someone who did distinguish himself in one locality might do poorly in another. Except for the best of the best, nobody could be sure who was who.

Apr-16-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: Another GM caliber player that never was awarded the title.

From Paul Felix Schmidt

<Runemaster: Schmidt and Keres were both from Estonia and born the same year, so inevitably they played each other a lot in the early days.

It's interesting to note how evenly matched Scmidt and Keres were back in 1935/6 - that makes the [Sonas?] statistic quoted by <Gypsy> not so surprising.

Once again, this illustrates the misfortune of some players when FIDE titles were given out in the 1950s - Schmidt at 9th in the world was never made a GM.>

Apr-16-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: <Petrosianic: Yes, because they've proven themselves.> While I am not disputing this, it's also true that some who have also proven themselves have historically never been awarded the GM title, or ended their lives untitled or undertitled. In some cases it's also true that an untitled or undertitled player, is stronger than some titled ones. All as elaborated in my post above.

The situation in the end-of-days Soviet Union chess community might to a certain extent apply to present-day China. There could be many GM caliber chess players who for lack of international exposure are untitled or undertitled. (Caveat: I am not 100% certain of this.)

FIDE titles are here to stay. I don't particularly mind their existence one way or the other, but I believe chess fans should not place too great an emphasis on them. I have similar views on Elo ratings.

Jul-19-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <visayan> American players through the 1970s and 1980s who aspired to become GMs were faced with an almost insuperable task unless they went to Europe; for it was all but impossible to find events in the USA in which GM norms could be attained. As I recall, James E Tarjan moved to Yugoslavia for a time in order to receive invitations.
Jan-31-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Kostic didn't turn up, because Capa blackballed him.
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