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Flohr - Sultan Khan Match

Salomon Flohr3.5/6(+2 -1 =3)[games]
Mir Sultan Khan2.5/6(+1 -2 =3)[games] Chess Event Description
Flohr - Sultan Khan (1932)


This was a six-game match played in London, 22nd-27th February 1932 between Salomon Flohr and Sultan Khan. The games were played at the private Langford Club, in St John's Wood, an affluent north London suburb. (1) The match was held with the unusual condition that it was a "combined match" of British versus foreign players. The individual scores being cumulated to give an overall outcome.

"A match of six games has been arranged between S. Flohr, who won the Hastings Christmas tourney (Hastings (1930/31)) and was second to Alexander Alekhine in the recent London Tournament (London (1932)), and Sultan Khan, the Indian Champion and ex-British Champion." (2) "The match of six games between S.Flohr and Malik Sultan Khan at the Langford Club, London, was closely contested and was won by Flohr with a score of 3˝ to 2˝. Victor Berger beat Salo Landau, the Dutch player, by 4˝ to 1˝, and, as arranged, the two British scores added won the combined match." (3) "With his close victory over Sultan Khan in a series of six games, Flohr has achieved three impressive successes this year, including a first at Hastings and a second to Alekhine, and it seems likely that he will be soon among the from whom the contenders for world supremacy at chess are selected. The last series of games tested him thoroughly, and ... he only just got home". (4)

The players

Up to this match, their scores were tied at 1˝ points each (+1 =1 -1).

Mir Sultan Khan had won the British Championship in 1929, and would do so again in 1932 and 1933. He was Britain's strongest player and played first board for England in the Chess Olympiads at Hamburg 1930, Prague 1931 and Folkestone 1933. His reputation had been enhanced with his defeat of Savielly Tartakower in a match in 1931 (Sultan Khan - Tartakower (1931), +4 -3 =5). Despite this, his opportunities were ultimately circumscribed by being a bonded servant of the Indian landowner and soldier Major-General Sir Malik Mohammed Umar Hayat Khan (1875–1944). When the Major General returned to India in 1933, this effectively ended Sultan Khan's chess career.

Salomon Flohr rise to becoming a leading master began three years before this match, in 1929, at Rogaška Slatina, where he finished second to Akiba Rubinstein. Flohr, who was making a living as a journalist, had only been admitted due to the commendation of Aron Nimzowitsch (5) He had scored well for Czechoslovakia on board one at the Hamburg Olympiad of 1930 and at Prague 1931. In tournaments, he had also scored well:

Hastings Reserves (1930/31) – clear 1st ahead of Ludwig Rellstab, Georges Koltanowski, Daniel Noteboom, and Conel Hugh O'Donel Alexander. Bled (1931) – tied for 4th through 7th behind Alekhine, Efim Bogoljubov, Nimzowitsch. Hastings (1931/32) – 1st ahead of Max Euwe.

Flohr had ambitious plans: "The "Birmingham Post" also notes a later project of importance thus: "Herr S. Flohr informs us that it is proposed to hold a large-scale tournament next October at Zlin, Czecho-Slovakia, on the lines of the big congress at Carlsbad in 1929. There are to be twenty-two to twenty-four competitors, and both Dr. Alekhine and Senor Jose Raul Capablanca will receive tempting offers to participate."" (6) Later in 1932, he would tie a match with Max Euwe (Euwe - Flohr (1932), +3 -3 =10), and in 1933 tie a further match with Mikhail Botvinnik (Botvinnik - Flohr (1933), +2 -2 =8). In this period, Flohr was undoubtedly a contender for the world championship.

The progress of the match

1 2 3 4 5 6 Flohr 1 ˝ 0 ˝ ˝ 1 3˝ Sultan Khan 0 ˝ 1 ˝ ˝ 0 2˝

Progressive score:

1 2 3 4 5 6 Flohr 1 1˝ 1˝ 2 2˝ 3˝ Sultan Khan 0 ˝ 1˝ 2 2˝ 2˝

Sultan Khan had White in the odd-numbered games.

The games

Game 1 - Sultan Khan lost the first game of the match despite having the White pieces. Even worse for him was that he lost through a blunder:

click for larger view

28.Qc2? allowed Flohr to whip up a King-side attack with his Queen and Knights and win the game in short order. 28...Qxh2 29.Qxc4 Ng5 30.Qf1 Nh5 31.f4 Ne4+ 32.Ke1 Nexg3 0-1

Game 2 - Having lost the first game, Sultan Khan defended carefully and accurately. In a long minor pieces endgame, he won a pawn. Despite this, Flohr managed to fight his way to a draw.

Game 3 - The tide of the match seemed to be turning in favour of Sultan Khan. Flohr was under pressure for most of the game before overlooking a tactical finesse:

click for larger view

Flohr played 55...Kd7 only to be rocked back with 56.Rxf7+ and his King-side pawns soon disappeared. Even more effective would have been 56.Rc4!! as taking the pawn after 56...Kc8 57.Rb4 would walk into a mating net.

Game 4 - Flohr tried hard to press for an advantage against his opponent's Queen's Gambit Declined. Sultan Khan had an Isolated Queen's Pawn but was compensated by control of the <c> file. The game was drawn.

Game 5 - Flohr defended with a Nimzo-Indian, Samisch (E24). Sultan Khan opened up the <h> file but Flohr was able to defend his King by swapping off the Rooks. The position was left blocked and equal, and was soon abandoned as a draw. The match was now poised at 2˝ points each with only one game remaining. In the final game, Flohr would have the advantage of the White pieces.

Game 6 - Flohr had the advantage in space for most of the game. Sultan Khan was cramped and on the defensive and had no margin for inaccuracy.

click for larger view

36.Bxd5! was the winning blow that gave Flohr victory in this match.


(1) The Observer (London), 28th February 1932, p. 25.
(2) The Guardian (London), 26th February 1932, p. 3.
(3) The Guardian (London), 29th February 1932, p. 3.
(4) The Guardian (London), 1st March 1932, p. 3.
(5) See and The Czechoslovak Republic, 13th October 1929.
(6) Linlithgowshire Gazette, 26th February 1932, p. 8.

Contemporary game sources

All the games in this collection were already in the CG database.

Game 1 - Score given in The Guardian (London), 26th February 1932, p. 3 matched the CG score. Also it can be found in The Observer (London), 28th February 1932, p. 25.
Game 3 - Score up to move 46 (adjournment) given in De Telegraaf (Holland), 26th February 1932, p. 2.
Game 4 - Score given in Algemeen Handelsblad (Holland), 27th February 1932, p. 2.
Game 5 - Score given in Algemeen Handelsblad (Holland), 1st March 1932, p. 2.
Game 6 - Score given in The Guardian (London), 1st March 1932, p. 3 matched the CG score.

This text by User: Chessical. Thanks to User: Telemus for sourcing the scores in the Dutch newspapers and to User: Paint My Dragon.

 page 1 of 1; 6 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Sultan Khan vs Flohr 0-1321932Flohr - Sultan KhanE16 Queen's Indian
2. Flohr vs Sultan Khan ½-½601932Flohr - Sultan KhanD06 Queen's Gambit Declined
3. Sultan Khan vs Flohr 1-0701932Flohr - Sultan KhanB13 Caro-Kann, Exchange
4. Flohr vs Sultan Khan ½-½401932Flohr - Sultan KhanD55 Queen's Gambit Declined
5. Sultan Khan vs Flohr ½-½271932Flohr - Sultan KhanE24 Nimzo-Indian, Samisch
6. Flohr vs Sultan Khan 1-0441932Flohr - Sultan KhanD15 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

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