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Akiba Rubinstein vs Carl Schlechter
"Akivaderci" (game of the day May-19-2015)
San Sebastian (1912), San Sebastian ESP, rd 13, Mar-07
Queen's Gambit Declined: Semi-Tarrasch Defense. Exchange Variation (D41)  ·  1-0


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Given 55 times; par: 80 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 3 OF 3 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jul-11-08  Archives: A commentary on this game with a bit of help from Rybka, and other Kibitzers from

<Akiva Rubinstein vs. Carl Schlechter (San Sebastian 1912)>

<1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 e6 4.Nc3 c5 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.e4 Nxc3 7.bxc3 cxd4 8.cxd4 Bb4+ 9.Bd2 Qa5>

A mistake, which leads to an ending that is favorable to White. Schlechter had previously played this move against Bernstein in Stockholm, 1906. After 10.Rb1 Bxd2+ Bernstein played 11.Nxd2 instead of the correct continuation 11.Qxd2 Qxd2 12.Kxd2 that Rubinstein plays here. This devastating plan of Rubinstein’s, whether found during the actual game or while analyzing the aforementioned game, was the death blow to 9...Qa5.

A better continuation is 9…Bxd2+ 10.Qxd2 0-0 11.Bc4 Nc6 12.0-0 b6 13.Rad1 Bb7=

<10.Rb1 Bxd2+>

10...Nc6 11.Rxb4 Nxb4 12.Qb1 Qxa2 13.Qxa2 Nxa2 14.Bc4

<11.Qxd2 Qxd2+ 12.Kxd2>

It is correct to capture with the King, as with the endgame approaching, the King belongs near the centre where he can take part in the action. Rubinstein was very familiar with Steinitz's concept of the “strong King.” One can imagine that Steinitz would have been particularly pleased with the strong initiative of the King at an early stage and marching up the board at the end to decide the issue.


With so much material off the board, the King is better posted in the centre with 12...Ke7, but White still has the much better game.


An astonishingly deep decision, whose purpose is twofold, to impede Black’s development and to provoke a weakness in his position.


13…b6 14.Rhc1 Bb7 15.Ke3±

13…Nd7 14.Rhc1 Nf6 15.Ke3±

13…Bd7 14.Bxd7 Nxd7 15.Rxb7

13…Nc6 14.Bxc6 bxc6 15.Rhc1

<14.Bd3 Rd8 15.Rhc1 b5 16.Rc7 Nd7 17.Ke3 Nf6 18.Ne5 Bd7 19.g4 h6>

The book of the tournament marks this move with a question mark and claims that the proper continuation was 19…g5 however White will have a fine advantage no matter what Black plays.

19...g5 20.f4 gxf4+ 21.Kxf4 Be8 22.g5 Nh5+ 23.Ke3±

19...Be8 20.g5 Nh5 21.Be2 f6 22.gxf6 Nxf6 23.Rg1 g6 24.Bg4 Rd6 25.Rg3±

<20.f4 Be8 21.g5 hxg5 22.fxg5 Nh7>

22…Nd7 23.Nc6

22…Nh5 23.Be2

<23.h4 Rdc8 24.Rbc1 Rxc7 25.Rxc7 Rd8>

As Capablanca noted, 25…f6 would put up a better resistance now instead of a move later.

<26.Ra7 f6 27.gxf6 gxf6 28.Ng4 Bh5 29.Nh6+ Kh8 30.Be2 Be8>

30…Bxe2 31.Nf7+

<31.Rxa6 Kg7 32.Ng4 f5 33.Ra7+ Kh8>

33...Kg6 34.Ne5+ Kh6 35.Bxb5

<34.Ne5 fxe4 35.Bxb5>

This echoes the earlier 30.Be2, again Black cannot take the Bishop or 36.Nf7+ follows.

<35…Nf6 36.Bxe8 Rxe8 37.Kf4 Kg8 38.Kg5 Rf8>

38…Nh7+ 39.Kh6

38…Nd5 39.Ng6 e3 40.Kh6

<39.Kg6 1-0>

39...e3 40.Rg7+ Kh8 41.Nf7+ Rxf7 42.Rxf7 e2 43.Rxf6 e1=Q 44.Rf8#

Nov-07-08  dwavechess: 32/39 Rubinstein's moves concur with rybka 3 w32 at 3 minutes per move.
Mar-20-09  kamalakanta: One of the greatest players of all time, well ahead of his time in technique and conception. It is indeed a master class to go through his games.
Mar-26-09  newzild: What I find most amusing about this game are the "twin" moves 30.Be2 and 35.Bxb5. In each case, if black captures the bishop then white has the fork Nf7+.
Aug-01-11  nolanryan: my idea for pun is akiba rubins carl by beating him
Sep-13-11  ToTheDeath: What a complete wipeout. Black never had a chance. Great game.
Dec-10-12  Chris1971: What a game by Rubinstein and yet against a player of Schlechter’s strength is testimony to Rubinstein’s ability. This is a personal favorite of mine. It is defiantly in my top 10 games ever played.
Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: This perfect Rubinstein game reminds me of the way Kramnik sometimes treats similar pawn structures. (White Kingside 5 vs 4 pawn majority; Black with pawns on the a and b files vs a lone white pawn on the a file.)

Or perhaps its the other way around, Kramnik's positional games with a Kingside majority remind me of this game.

BTW, if this game were to be shown to a modern chess player who has never seen it before, I would bet he would never be able to figure out for sure it was played way back in 1912. It could have well been played yesterday in a super GM tournament. Just goes to show that the notion that the greatest of the pre-WW1 players can't play as well as present-day ones is false.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: One thing that comes through strongly from Kasparov's <Gary Kasparov On His Great Predecessors Volume 1> is his admiration for Rubinstein.
Feb-05-14  Cemoblanca: Schlechter wasn't schlechter at all, but Akiba was better. ;] Wonderful game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: Fabulous game - an old favourite
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: The pun would be slightly better if the alternative name of Akiva had been used.
May-19-15  newzild: Excellent game! It's good to see that we're back on track with GsOTD being chosen for the quality of the play rather than the title.
Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: <newzild: Excellent game! It's good to see that we're back on track with the GOTD being chosen for the quality of the play rather than the title> I'll second that! This one's a beaut
May-19-15  sorokahdeen: Rubinstein's development/deployment advantage counted despite the reduced material. That's just fascinating.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Beancounter: This game was from Rubinstein's golden year of 1912 when he won five successive major tournaments. I believe Larsen was the only other player to achieve such a feat. Should Rubinstein have been able to raise the necessary finances to meet Lasker in 1912 or thereabouts I think it is very likely he would have become world champion.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: With the queens off the board, white's king can approach with no fear.
Premium Chessgames Member <offramp: The pun would be slightly better if the alternative name of Akiva had been used.> That's a great point. We're not above changing the pun after the fact.

(And yes, this one was chosen for the game itself and then struggled to come up with a pun.)

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <Beancounter: This game was from Rubinstein's golden year of 1912 when he won five successive major tournaments. I believe Larsen was the only other player to achieve such a feat. Should Rubinstein have been able to raise the necessary finances to meet Lasker in 1912 or thereabouts I think it is very likely he would have become world champion.>

Well, if he'd won 5 major tournaments, why didn't he have the money? Buying sports cars?

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<offramp> Well, if he'd won 5 major tournaments, why didn't he have the money? Buying sports cars?>

Just because you are a great chess player doesn't mean that you can raise the necessary money (in those days) for a WC match. Chess playing and raising money are two very different skills and, from what I've read of Rubinstein's personality, he was probably not very good at the latter. Just like our political system, it's not necessarily the best candidate that wins an election but the candidate that manages to raise the most money.

Yet Rubinstein apparently did manage to raise the money in spite of his relatively poor showing in the St. Petersburg 1914 tournament (where he finished 7th out of 11) since a match with Lasker was arranged to start in October 1914. Unfortunately World War I intervened and Rubinstein was not the same player after the war, lacking the consistency he had shown before the war.

Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: As <Archives> noted eight years ago, 39...e3 would be met by 40.Rg7+ Kh8 41.Nf7+ Rxf7 42.Rxf7 e2 43.Rxf6 Kg8 (43...e1(Q) 44.Rf8#) 44.Rxe6.
May-20-15  Howard: This excellent effort by Rubinstein is in Chernev's well-known book Most Instructive Games of Chess Every Played, by the way. It's near the end of the book, as I recall.
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: Analyze this game with an engine sometime. Rubinstein plays extremely close to perfect chess.
May-11-17  User not found: <FSR: Analyze this game with an engine sometime.> Rubinstein plays extremely close to perfect chess>>>

I just did Cuddlebumps. It's very very accurate and precise for a 100 year old game.. I believe here, regardless of what the engine thinks, black should have developed his queen side pieces bring the knight to c6 or e7. By kicking the bishop with 13..a6 followed by b5 then Rd8 he's defending the rest of the game..

click for larger view

13...h6. Bd4. ..b5. Rhc1 ..Rd8? .Rd7... Struggling from here onwards..

click for larger view

Dec-03-17  Ulhumbrus: <paladin at large: ... To elaborate on my earlier post, here is Capablanca's quote from Capablanca-Magazine of 25 April 1912 :

"There are no doubt many people whose attention is not attracted by this game; for my part, I confess that there are few games that have so impressed me. To my mind it is a complete masterpiece, a monument of magnificent precision. For 38 moves the great Russian expert always played the exact move, the strongest! This game is a classic example, always to be conserved, of how chess should be played.">

What was Capablanca referring to by his words <how chess should be played>? One possible answer is that by <how chess should be played> Capablanca was referring to the strength of Rubinstein's play and not its style and meant that a player should play the strongest move at each and every point.

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