This match was played in July-August 1941 at Karlsbad (Karlovy Vary), a spa town in western Bohemia with a rich history of international chess tournaments. It was a contest between Alexander Alekhine 's two previous challengers for the world championship – Efim Bogoljubov (51), who had been twice defeated
( Alekhine - Bogoljubov World Championship Match (1929) and Alekhine - Bogoljubov World Championship Rematch (1934)), and Max Euwe (39), who had briefly snatched the title, but then lost it again to Alekhine ( Alekhine - Euwe World Championship Match (1935) and Euwe - Alekhine World Championship Rematch (1937)).
The news of the match appeared in the Dutch press in June 1941: "Amsterdam, Monday. As we know, there is serious talk of a match between Dr. Max Euwe and Bogoljubov. A match of 12 games (sic) will be played in mid July to early August at Karlsbad. The last time that Dr. Euwe played a match against Bogoljubov was in 1929. Our compatriot then lost 4½ to 5½." 1
Where the funds to stage the match came from is unclear. It may have come from the Nazi propaganda coffers as Bogoljubov certainly was not rich. Aside from chess (for which there was little remuneration in wartime), his main income came from a bed and breakfast business. 2 Playing a match in Nazi occupied Europe was a contentious decision. The match would take place in the "Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia". Established by the Reich's annexation of Czechoslovakia on 16th March 1939, it was a Nazi police state. The opportunity to expunge the memory of the two previous defeats seems to have overcome any ethical doubts Euwe may have experienced.
Of course this caused problems in Holland. Not everyone agreed that I should go and play in Czechoslovakia. This was occupied territory, but many people forget that Holland was also occupied territory. You could have said that I should not have played in Holland either, since the Germans were also occupying Holland. I thought that this was taking things a bit far. Besides, I had a bone to pick with Bogoljubov. I got several more invitations in those days, but I only accepted this one for personal reasons to do with Bogoljubov. And I also wanted to see with my own eyes how things stood in Karlsbad. 3
After this match, Euwe avoided playing in any further events in Nazi occupied Europe (although he kept playing in local Dutch tournaments). For instance, despite the participation of both Alekhine and Bogoljubov, he did not compete in the "Europaturnier" in Munich (1941) (8-21 September), citing "occupational obligations". 4 Nor did he play in Salzburg (1942), Munich (1942) and Salzburg (1943). The cause of the “occupational obligations” appears to be that he moved into business:
A few days ago we published in our magazine a report on the resignation of our national chess champion Dr. Euwe from the Municipal Girls' Lyceum in Amsterdam. We understood this resignation to be in connection with the wish of Dr. Euwe to move to professionalism. Now we hear from well-informed source that Dr. Euwe was on July 1st this year, appointed director of a major food company in the capital ... 5 His next match against a grandmaster opponent would not be for another eight years: Euwe - Pirc (1949).
According to Mikhail Botvinnik, Euwe is an extremely impetuous, active player ... He exploits mistakes excellently ... In general he is a very good tactician. He knows the openings very well. 6 Euwe had played a match against Paul Keres (24th December, 1939 to 15th January, 1940), which he had lost 6½-7½ (+5 =3 -6), and then won the "Maroczy Jubilaeum” in Budapest (see Game Collection: Budapest 1940). At that point, the deprecations and confusion of the war in Europe effectively ended top level chess for a year. Euwe had contested two previous matches against Bogoljubov, losing both:
Bogoljubov - Euwe: First FIDE Championship (1928) and Bogoljubov - Euwe: Second FIDE Championship (1928). He prepared for the forthcoming contest with a training match in May 1941 against Haije Kramer. This he won convincingly (+6 =2 -0). 7
According to Euwe, (His) play was sound and his style primarily positional. In addition, he had a tactical talent which came into its own especially when the opponent had been outplayed strategically. His weak point lay in his optimism and lack of objectivity. 8 Bogoljubov had relinquished his Soviet citizenship in 1927 and become a naturalised German of the Weimar republic. Although he had been twice a world championship contender (with two matches against Alekhine), since 1936 he had mediocre results in top-class international tournaments. He had been 10th out of 15 at Nottingham (1936), 3rd of 4 in Bad Nauheim-Stuttgart-Garmisch (1937) and 5th of 10 at Noordwijk (1938). Whilst there was some successes, such as winning the strong Stuttgart tournament (May 1939), this appears to have been a period of on-going and ineluctable fall away from the chess elite. 9
The match was confirmed to the public on 17th July 1941 10 and began on 20th July 1941. 11 Euwe left for Czechoslovakia on 15th July. 12 The match was originally scheduled to last for three weeks. 13
This is a reconstruction of the dates for the games in the match based on newspaper reports:
1st game - Sunday, 20th July, 1941
2nd game - Monday, 21st July, 1941
3rd game - Tuesday, 22nd July, 1941
4th game - Thursday, 24th July, 1941
5th game - Sunday, 27th July, 1941
6th game - Monday, 28th July, 1941
7th game - Wednesday, 30th July, 1941
8th game - Thursday, 31st July, 1941
9th game - Friday, 1st August, 1941
10th game - Saturday, 2nd August, 1941
The progress of the match
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0
Euwe 1 ½ 0 1 1 1 ½ ½ 1 0 6½
Bogoljubov 0 ½ 1 0 0 0 ½ ½ 0 1 3½
Bogoljubov was White in the odd numbered games.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Euwe 1 1½ 1½ 2½ 3½ 4½ 5 5½ 6½ 6½
Bogoljubov 0 ½ 1½ 1½ 1½ 1½ 2 2½ 2½ 3½
Bogoljubov often tired towards the end of the playing session, and then the quality of his play declined. Euwe was tactically sharp, and usually took full advantage of his opponent's blunders.
Bogoljubov with White played a variation new to his repertoire - Caro-Kann, Two Knights, 3...Bg4 (B11). He played aggressively, castling on the Q-side, and advancing his <g> pawn.
Euwe remained calm, and avoided early castling into an attack. Bogoljubov's weakened K-side became a source of problems, and he lost a pawn. "The game was adjourned after the 41st move." 14 Despite the presence of opposite coloured Bishops, Euwe made progress aided by errors by Bogoljubov in the long endgame. By winning a second pawn, Euwe assured himself of victory.
Game 2 15
The players adhered to latest master practice, following J Podgorny vs K Treybal, 1940. Bogoljubov equalised as Black, but toward the time control, he began to play imprecisely. Euwe had a chance to exchange queens on move 38, with a very advantageous ending, but chose another path, and the game was drawn.
Being a point down, and having the worst of the first two games, the renowned optimist Bogoljubov came back fighting and defeated his opponent in the shortest game of the match. 16 He chose a tactical, but probably dubious, side line of Two Knights (C58). Euwe sacrificed the exchange for counterplay, and was on his way to equality when on move 15 he lost his way in the complications:
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The sharp 15...Nxg2? lost. 15...Ne2 was later found to be necessary.
“On the 27th move our national champion played an instructive pawn sacrifice, putting the black King's position significantly at risk (although) the White Queen-side seemed doomed. Dr Euwe, however, found on the 36th move a beautiful Knight-sacrifice, that should have ended the game as a draw, if not shortage of time had induced Bogoljubov to decline the sacrifice. Repeatedly threatened by mate the German master, had to resign on move 39." 17 Bogoljubov blundered away the draw. Euwe had weaved some threats around his King, and Bogoljubov (as Black) missed a key threat just short of the time control:
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36...Re3? lost immediately to 37.Rh4!
Game 5 18
Euwe chose his favourite Open Spanish defence. Bogoljubov allowed him to build up an attack on the K-side, and Euwe smashed through to Bogoljubov's king with an excellent combination. The king fled from <g1> to <a4> but there it perished.
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Game 6 19
Euwe played a Queen's Gambit Declined and castled on the Q-side. He played aggressively from the opening and broke up Bogoljubov's king's pawn shield. In a very sharp position, Bogoljubov defended successfully right up to the time control. But probably tired through the intensity of the struggle, the elder grandmaster then made a losing blunder by overlooking an ingenious pawn sacrifice. The pawn queened with check, giving its life to allow Euwe's rook into the attack on Bogoljubov's king, which now had no safe shelter.
Game 7 20
"In the next game, the opening (Italian Game) Bogoljubov demonstrated an admirable novelty by which he assured himself of a superior end game. Dr. Euwe’s defence, however, in the rook endgame was so masterful that the game ended in a draw after the 34th move ..." 21
Game 8 22
Bogoljubov's attempt to get out of the books with an irregular defence led to an inferior position for him. Euwe, being 2½ points ahead in the match, had the luxury of being able to offer a draw with a pawn to the good in an almost won position. "In the eighth game in the chess match between our champion Dr. Max Euwe and the German champion Bogoljubov, our countryman opened with <d4> and then Bogoljubov replied with the uncommon <Nc6>. On his tenth move, our countryman advanced his <e> pawn to <e6>, which put his opponent under pressure. White retained the better game, but, even so, he made an offer of a draw on the 26th move to which naturally Bogoljubov immediately agreed. The score after the eighth game is today Dr. Euwe 5½ points compared to Bogoljubov 2½ pts." 23
Game 9 24
"Dr.Euwe wins again against Bogoljubov - The ninth game in the chess match between Dr. Euwe and Bogoljubov was a Queen's Gambit opening by Bogoljubov. It seemed at first as if Bogoljubov had an advantage, but despite this our compatriot who, because of a series of well - thought out and interesting defensive moves, succeeded after the 33rd move to seize the initiative and the attack. Bogoljubov saw the imminent danger late and gradually lost in a hopeless position, as Dr. Euwe succeeded in penetrating (Bogoljubov's position) with his Queen and a Bishop. After a meticulously executed attack, our compatriot finally won after 49 moves. The position after the latest game is Dr. Euwe has 6 points against Bogoljubov's 2 points." 25 Euwe won Bogoljubov's queen after the spectacular 49...Rh3+!!
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Game 10 26
Bogoljubov rallied and won the last game. This was probably his best game of the match. Euwe played a careless 17th move as White. This lost a rook and a pawn for two minor pieces, in a position where they dominated the rook. Despite Euwe's determined efforts, Bogoljubov forced through his <b> pawn to queen and so won the game.
Edward Winter has published a photograph of the players, at entry 9977, "Euwe v Bogoljubow match, Carlsbad, 1941", from the August 1941 edition of Deutsche Schachzeitung: http://www.chesshistory.com/winter/....
"He who writes prose builds his temple to Fame in rubble; he who writes verses builds it in granite". 27 The match inspired a poem:
Again four little horses
Without little tails
Two ladies without flesh,
In Karlsbad, so I read
Again (pieces are) being taken
And there is a large audience,
That wants to think along.
It is full of hints
And chequered board comments
They sit quietly,
Playing chess eagerly
And puzzle very happily
On many squares,
The chess world follows it all with interest! 28
1 Translated from Het Volk, 30th June, 1941.
2 Bogoljubow. The Fate of a Chess Player, by Sergei Soloviov, p. 30.
3 Max Euwe: The Biography, by Alexander Munninghoff, p. 241.
4 Jan van Reek, at http://www.endgame.nl/salz1942.htm.
5 Dagblad Nieuwe Hoornsche Courant, 2nd August, 1941.
6 Botvinnik, quoted in My Great Predecessors. Part 2, by Garry Kasparov, p. 110.
7 Max Euwe: The Biography, by Alexander Münninghoff, p. 241.
8 Max Euwe in his book The Development of the Chess Style (1968), quoted in The Oxford Companion to Chess, by David Vincent Hooper and Kenneth Whyld, p. 50.
9 As seen from Chessmetrics, http://www.chessmetrics.com/cm/CM2/....
10 Leeuwarder Nieuwsblad, 17th July, 1941.
11 Leidsch Dagblad, 21st July, 1941.
12 De Tĳd, 15th July, 1941.
13 Leeuwarder Nieuwsblad, 17th July, 1941.
14 Leidsch Dagblad, 21st July, 1941.
15 Het Volk, 23rd July, 1941.
16 De Amersfoortsche Courant, 23rd July, 1941 states that Game 3 did not continue on into 23rd July.
17 Game 4 is reported in Rotterdamsch Nieuwsblad, 25th July, 1941. The article states that the game was "yesterday" (24th July).
18 Game 5 is by-lined “Karlovy Vary, July 27 (Reuters)” in De Standaard, 28th July, 1941.
19 Game 6 is featured in Nieuwsblad van het Zuiden, by-lined ”Karlsbad, July 28 (ANP)”. See also Rotterdamsch Nieuwsblad, 29th July, 1941.
20 Game 7 is by-lined "Karlovy Vary, 28 July. (Reuters)" in De courant Het nieuws van den dag, 30th July, 1941. The game is also reported in De Standaard, 29th July, 1941, which has a Dutch news agency (ANP - Algemeen Nederlands Persbureau) dispatch headed "CHESS Euwe - Bogoljubov 5-2. The seventh game is drawn. Karlovy Vary, 28th July".
21 De Residentiebode, 29th July, 1941.
22 Print in several newspapers of an ANP report which indicates that Game 8 took place 31st July.
23 Provinciale Overĳsselsche en Zwolsche Courant, 1st August, 1941.
24 Oprechte Haarlemsche Courant, 1st August, 1941 quotes an ANP report dated 1st August, and Nieuwsblad van het Noorden, 1st August, 1941 also reports the game.
25 De Tĳd, 2nd August, 1941.
26 Deutsche Zeitung in den Niederlanden, 5th August, 1941 reports the last game occurring as "Last Saturday". There is also a report in Haagsche Courant and Noordbrabantsch Dagblad het Huisgezin, 4th August, 1941.
27 Caxtoniana, Volume 2, by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, p. 310.
28 Translation provided by User: Stonehenge of a poem by JEMO in Oprechte Haarlemsche Courant, 25th July, 1941. Two minor amendments to the English text have been made. Original text:
Weer zijn view paardjes
Twee dames zonder vleesch,
In Karlsbad, naar ik lees
Weer wordt geslagen
En er is veel publiek,
Dat mee wil denken.
't Zit vol wenken
Ze zitten rustig,
En puzz'len heel tevree
Op vele velden,
De schaakwereld leeft mee!
Original collection: Game Collection: Euwe - Bogoljubov by User: Chessical.