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Salomon Flohr
Circa 1951.  
Number of games in database: 975
Years covered: 1927 to 1980
Overall record: +376 -131 =468 (62.6%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games.

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B10 Caro-Kann (33 games)
A15 English (32 games)
B13 Caro-Kann, Exchange (23 games)
D51 Queen's Gambit Declined (21 games)
D02 Queen's Pawn Game (20 games)
A46 Queen's Pawn Game (19 games)
D26 Queen's Gambit Accepted (19 games)
D15 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav (19 games)
E34 Nimzo-Indian, Classical, Noa Variation (19 games)
A28 English (19 games)

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(born Nov-21-1908, died Jul-18-1983, 74 years old) Russia

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Salomon Flohr was born in 1908 in Gorodenka, present day Ukraine.1 His parents were jewish, had eight children and were very poor. He was orphaned during World War I after their parents were killed in a massacre, and they fled to the newly formed nation of Czechoslovakia, where he learned chess.6

He won several Czechoslovakian tournaments in the early 1930s, earning him something of a celebrity status in his country. Starting with the 1931/32 edition, he won or shared 1st at four consecutive Hastings Christmas Congresses.2 In 1932, he beat Mir Sultan Khan (+2 -1 =3 ) and drew Dr. Max Euwe (+3 -3 =10 ) in matches. One year later, he drew the Botvinnik - Flohr (1933) (+2 -2 =8). In 1939, he won the Leningrad/Moscow training (1939) tournament with 12/17, ahead of Samuel Reshevsky.

Following the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1939, Flohr - of Ukrainian Jewish origins - fled to the USSR and became a Soviet citizen. Flohr finished 4th in his debut in the 13th USSR Championship (1944). In 1950 he won the Tartu Semifinal of the 18th USSR Championship.3 Flohr resumed his chess career after the war, qualifying from the Saltsjöbaden Interzonal (1948) to play in the Budapest Candidates (1950), where he shared last place. FIDE awarded him the grandmaster title in 1950 and the international arbiter title in 1963.1 Eventually he retired from serious tournaments, but remained active as a chess journalist until his death in 1983.

In an interview with N. Borisov which was published in the famous Soviet chess magazine 64 (21/1970) Flohr harshly criticized his own approach to chess after the war.

"The war severely affected my health and my nervous system. My way to think about chess needed a change. I have never had a particularly good knowledge of theory because in my youth other factors were more important. After the war young Soviet masters sprang up like mushrooms. They pushed not only me aside but also the other Western grandmasters. But the main reason for my failures after the war has to be sought elsewhere. Fighting for the chess throne requires a boundless will to work. Which I no longer had. No sweet without sweat! I was spoilt by my great successes before the war. My character was not strong enough. I stopped fighting, I basically did not care. A pity! As Steinitz used to say: chess is not for the faint-hearted but demands your all." 4

Reuben Fine believed that Flohr's insecurity and vulnerability had seriously affected his prospects:

"In the years from 1929 to 1933, when Alekhine was at his peak Flohr was universally recognised as his most serious challenger. Although he did poorly in individual games with Alekhine, his results were outstanding against the others … In 1929, when he was only 20, he won second prize behind Rubinstein at Rogasska Slatina. The he began a long string of tournament successes which placed him second only to Alekhine.

This period lasted until about 1935, when his style underwent a considerable change and his play fell off somewhat. He became increasingly cautious, avoiding complications and steering for the endgame as soon as possible…he became more and more a drawing master…the roots of his frantic emphasis on “safety first” are not hard to discover. In 1936, Czechoslovakia, his second homeland, was faced with a growing threat from Nazi Germany… (and) with his support endangered, Flohr found it impossible to concentrate on his own growth as a chess master." 5


1. Jeremy Gaige, "Chess Personalia- a Biobibliography" (McFarland 1987), p.122

2. Wikipedia article: Hastings International Chess Congress

3. [rusbase-1]

4. Quoted by Vlastimil Hort, in his article on Flohr -

5. Reuben Fine, “The World’s Greatest Chess Games” p. 166-167.

6. Wikipedia article: Salo Flohr

Last updated: 2018-07-20 14:22:09

 page 1 of 39; games 1-25 of 975  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Flohr vs B Thelen 0-1471927Kautsky mem 4thE12 Queen's Indian
2. Flohr vs A Poisl 1-0351927Kautsky mem 4thE12 Queen's Indian
3. Opocensky vs Flohr 0-1391927Kautsky mem 4thB32 Sicilian
4. Hromadka vs Flohr 0-1261927Kautsky mem 4thC07 French, Tarrasch
5. Flohr vs F Lustig 1-0361928PragueC77 Ruy Lopez
6. Flohr vs G Machate 1-0201928SumperkB23 Sicilian, Closed
7. Opocensky vs Flohr 0-1521928Kautsky mem 5thD02 Queen's Pawn Game
8. Flohr vs E Richter 1-0411928Kautsky mem 5thE34 Nimzo-Indian, Classical, Noa Variation
9. Flohr vs F Lustig 1-0451928Kautsky mem 5thD52 Queen's Gambit Declined
10. Flohr vs B Thelen 1-0311928Prague EvonyC79 Ruy Lopez, Steinitz Defense Deferred
11. Flohr vs J Dobias  0-1531928Kautsky mem 5thD51 Queen's Gambit Declined
12. Prokes vs Flohr  1-0461928Prague EvonyA07 King's Indian Attack
13. Flohr vs Tartakower 1-0211928BerlinB29 Sicilian, Nimzovich-Rubinstein
14. B Thelen vs Flohr 0-1371928Kautsky mem 5thA30 English, Symmetrical
15. J Dobias vs Flohr  0-1311929Kautsky mem 6thE22 Nimzo-Indian, Spielmann Variation
16. Flohr vs F Treybal 1-0411929Kautsky mem 6thD51 Queen's Gambit Declined
17. Flohr vs J Dobias  0-1391929Prague-chC77 Ruy Lopez
18. Flohr vs Z Vecsey  1-0211929Prague-chE00 Queen's Pawn Game
19. Flohr vs H Geiger 1-0291929Rogaska SlatinaD51 Queen's Gambit Declined
20. Flohr vs E Canal  1-0661929Rogaska SlatinaC77 Ruy Lopez
21. Flohr vs A Brinckmann 0-1361929Rogaska SlatinaA41 Queen's Pawn Game (with ...d6)
22. Pirc vs Flohr  0-1521929Rogaska SlatinaE22 Nimzo-Indian, Spielmann Variation
23. Flohr vs I Koenig 1-0411929Rogaska SlatinaA50 Queen's Pawn Game
24. Flohr vs Saemisch 1-0251929Rogaska SlatinaE00 Queen's Pawn Game
25. Rubinstein vs Flohr 1-0381929Rogaska SlatinaA80 Dutch
 page 1 of 39; games 1-25 of 975  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Flohr wins | Flohr loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 7 OF 7 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <Everett: ... Botvinnik-Flohr Match (1933) is a strange omission from his bio. >


Aug-05-14  Conrad93: Can someone put a picture up?

Wikipedia already has a good photo of him:

Nov-21-14  grasser: Well with the WC going on, good luck getting any Birthday wishes Salomon Flohr. Oh how soon we forget. One day Carlsen and Anand will be a distant memory too.
Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: I have it on good authority he doesn't much care about the missing birthday wishes, and likewise doesn't need any more RIP wishes.
Nov-21-14  ketchuplover: May he RIP forever
Nov-21-14  Petrosianic: How will you know whether he does or not?
Nov-26-14  Yopo: For practical players,
art is just a
exception to the canon rules.

But you can not get away from the art .
just as one can not escape the second teeth.

Until Flohr could not to escape.
Flohr vs Rellstab, 1931

Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <Chess, like love, is infectious at any age> - Salo Flohr.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: In <The Reliable Past>, p162, Sosonko says:

"Salo knew Czech quite well, but when he spoke in it it was immediately apparent that it was not his native language, and so more frequently [he and Vera Meisnerova] spoke in German, Flohr's strongest language."

Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: Happy birthday, Salo Flohr!!
Feb-23-17  The Kings Domain: Solid positional player in the style of Capablanca. One wonders how he would have fared had the championship match against Alekhine pushed through.
May-31-17  nummerzwei: <A shortage of creative energy has always inhibited Flohr from crowning his career.>

Lodewijk Prins

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: No photograph of Flohr?!

Shame, <CG>, shame.


Jan-09-18  WorstPlayerEver: Interesting read:

Dec-20-18  Caissanist: From what I can tell, Flohr is rather overrated. His reputation is based largely on his results in the early to mid thirties, and seems to spring largely from the fact that there were no great players born between 1892 and 1911, uness you count Euwe, who did not hit his stride until 1934. Once the new generation of players only a few years younger than he emerged, Flohr was not a top player anymore. He never finished ahead of Euwe or Fine or Keres in a tournament, and only rarely came in ahead of Botvinnik or Reshevsky or Alekhine.

Given what Alekhine did to Euwe in 1937, one would have to think that he would have done the same to Flohr. Even though he was only 28 then, his best days were clearly behind him.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Dionysius1: May I ask here, what's with the "RIP" and "Happy Birthday" for people who died long ago? Is it an American thing to be so solicitous? Or (I hope I'm not too cynical) is it a way for Kibitzers to increase the number of their posts without actually contributing anything?

If it's the first, I can't understand it, but maybe people think they are being kind. It just seems sanctimonious to me!

If it's the latter it seems particularly meaningless, because no-one's going to think highly of a kibitzer purely for his high numbers, are they?

All told, it's just annoying, empty and maybe even disrespectful.

Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: <Dion: Or (I hope I'm not too cynical) is it a way for Kibitzers to increase the number of their posts without actually contributing anything? >


<All told, it's just annoying, empty and maybe even disrespectful.>


Dec-20-18  Caissanist: People come here to hang out. Sometimes those folks don't really have much to say, so they wind up saying stuff like that, it doesn't bother me. Certainly it's better than the people who don't have anything to say so they come here and troll, which I find much more annoying.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Dionysius1: Fair enough <Caisanist>. I hadn't thought of it like that. People maybe keeping their end up in a social environment. Doesn't seem bad that way -)
Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: I approve of the jolly photo <CG> finally posted - gg.
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: I remember reading reminiscences of players from Flor's era. Some said, at his peak in the '30s, Flohr was more feared than Alekhine, Capa or any other player at that time. One player said "We called him Napoleon."

I like that.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Count Wedgemore: Yes, Salomon used to wipe the Flohr with his opponents in the 30s. But afterwards, his play deteriorated to the point where he became a really weak player, a "fish". So they started to call him Salmon Flohr.
Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: As far as <Caissanist>'s claim that Flohr was overrated, well, it's a debatable claim - although it's clear his reign at the (very) top was fairly brief:

Of course Alekhine was such a dominate player (when he was dominant) that it's hard to put player up against him (though Euwe did represent himself pretty well now and again(!)).

Still, while <Caissanist> mentions Flohr tournament failings - there is the obvious omission of a major victory or two - i.e. <Hastings (1935)>, when he bested Alekhine:

<Hastings 1933-34 – clear first ahead of Alekhine (!!) and others. This was the first time Alekhine failed to come in first since he won the World Championship title.>

And this when Alekhine was near his peak, a few years before Flohr was at his. (See also Podebrady (1936))

Let's play devil advocate, and also quote this:

<When one considers that Flohr had drawn matches with two of Alekhine’s main rivals (Euwe and Botvinnik), and come ahead of both Alekhine and Capablanca in tournaments, the mystery appears to be even stranger.>


There are several major tournaments where he placed just as well as Euwe. And I don't think it exactly fair to compare him to Keres, as those two mostly met after the German business in Czechoslovakia had weighed into his psyche.

But, to correct a point-of-fact, Flohr did best Keres in at least one tournament:

Kemeri (1937)

and tied him in this one:

Parnu (1937)

Dec-21-18  Caissanist: <zanzibar>--thanks for the link to the excellent Silman article, and for pointing out the Kemeri tournament (Flohr also came ahead of Fine there). I don't think it's any great mystery what happened though. Flohr's drawn matches against Botvinnik and Euwe came before either of those players reached their prime, and he never defeated either one again. Players like Botvinnik and Euwe don't seem to have had Flohr's natural gift for chess, but they approached the game systematically and rigorously, always looking for improvements and learning from their defeats. So it makes sense that Flohr was able to hold his own against them when he was in his twenties, but was unable to continuously improve after that point the way that most other leading GMs of the day did.
Premium Chessgames Member
  chesshistoryinterest: Flohr also came ahead of Keres at Leningrad-Moscow 1939 and the 1948 USSR Championship.
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