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Mir Sultan Khan
Number of games in database: 140
Years covered: 1929 to 1935

Overall record: +68 -40 =29 (60.2%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 3 exhibition games, blitz/rapid, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Queen's Pawn Game (23) 
    D02 D05 D04 A46 E10
 Queen's Indian (6) 
    E16 E18 E15 E12 E17
 French Defense (4) 
    C01 C11 C00
 Nimzo Indian (4) 
    E47 E24 E30 E33
With the Black pieces:
 Nimzo Indian (9) 
    E38 E24 E23 E43 E32
 Queen's Pawn Game (9) 
    A46 D02 A40
 Orthodox Defense (8) 
    D50 D55 D51
 Ruy Lopez (7) 
    C88 C79 C73 C74 C78
 Caro-Kann (6) 
    B15 B10 B12 B13
 French Defense (5) 
    C01 C17 C13 C11
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   Sultan Khan vs Capablanca, 1930 1-0
   Sultan Khan vs H K Mattison, 1931 1-0
   Tylor vs Sultan Khan, 1933 0-1
   Sultan Khan vs Marshall, 1930 1-0
   Ahues vs Sultan Khan, 1930 0-1
   Sultan Khan vs Flohr, 1932 1-0
   Euwe vs Sultan Khan, 1932 1/2-1/2
   Rubinstein vs Sultan Khan, 1930 1/2-1/2
   Sultan Khan vs Rubinstein, 1931 1-0
   Tartakower vs Sultan Khan, 1931 0-1

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   Sultan Khan - Tartakower (1931)
   Liege (1930)
   Hastings 1930/31 (1930)
   Scarborough (1930)
   London (1932)
   Berne (1932)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   Mir Sultan Khan by samsloan
   Sultan Khan: Chess Biography by jessicafischerqueen
   Berne 1932 by Tabanus
   Sultan Khan - Tartakower by Chessical
   Mir Sultan Khan - the unsung Grandmaster by MTuraga
   London International Chess Congress, 1932 by Resignation Trap
   Liege 1930 by suenteus po 147
   Hastings 1932/33 by Phony Benoni
   When Sultans played Chess by Open Defence
   Hastings 1930/31 by suenteus po 147

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Mir Sultan Khan
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(born 1905, died Apr-25-1966, 60 years old) India

[what is this?]

Mir Sultan Khan was born in 1905 in Mittha in the Punjab, British India. His prowess at the Indian variety of chess brought him to the notice of Colonel Nawab Sir Umar Hayat Khan who taught him the European game.

After winning the All-India Championship in 1928 (+8, =1, -0) he went to England and quickly came to the notice of English masters William Winter and Fred Dewhurst Yates who helped him overcome his lack of theoretical knowledge. He was British Champion in 1929, 1932 and 1933.

He played on three British Empire Olympiad teams in 1930, 1931 and 1933 and participated in some international events. He was 2nd at Liege 1930, 3rd at Hastings 1930-31 and 3rd= at London 1932. In matches he beat Savielly Tartakower (+4, =5, -3) in 1931 and lost to Salomon Flohr (+1, =3, -2) in 1932. Chessmetrics ranked him sixth in the world in May 1933, behind only Alekhine, Kashdan, Flohr, Capablanca, and Euwe.

He returned to India with Sir Umar in December 1933 and played very little serious chess again. He passed away in Sargodha, Pakistan in 1966.

Wikipedia article: Mir Sultan Khan

 page 1 of 6; games 1-25 of 140  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Capablanca vs Sultan Khan 0-1241929Simul, 35bD50 Queen's Gambit Declined
2. Yates vs Sultan Khan 1-0461929Quadrangular tC17 French, Winawer, Advance
3. Sultan Khan vs Yates  0-1681929Quadrangular tE30 Nimzo-Indian, Leningrad
4. Sultan Khan vs C W Brown  0-1291929Simul, 33bA41 Queen's Pawn Game (with ...d6)
5. Sultan Khan vs E G Sergeant  1-0351930ScarboroughB29 Sicilian, Nimzovich-Rubinstein
6. Sultan Khan vs Rubinstein 0-1821930ScarboroughC77 Ruy Lopez
7. Yates vs Sultan Khan 0-1421930ScarboroughB33 Sicilian
8. Sultan Khan vs Ahues 1-0541930ScarboroughC28 Vienna Game
9. Maroczy vs Sultan Khan 1-0411930ScarboroughC01 French, Exchange
10. Sultan Khan vs Menchik 1-0251930ScarboroughB13 Caro-Kann, Exchange
11. W Winter vs Sultan Khan 1-0331930ScarboroughD50 Queen's Gambit Declined
12. Sultan Khan vs G A Thomas  1-0411930ScarboroughC22 Center Game
13. Gruenfeld vs Sultan Khan  ½-½671930ScarboroughD12 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
14. Sultan Khan vs Colle  0-1471930ScarboroughB03 Alekhine's Defense
15. R P Michell vs Sultan Khan 0-1961930ScarboroughD51 Queen's Gambit Declined
16. Ahues vs Sultan Khan  1-0301930Hamburg ol (Men)B30 Sicilian
17. Sultan Khan vs O Barda 1-0271930Hamburg ol (Men)C01 French, Exchange
18. K Ruben vs Sultan Khan 1-0741930Hamburg ol (Men)E15 Queen's Indian
19. S Takacs vs Sultan Khan  ½-½341930Hamburg ol (Men)A30 English, Symmetrical
20. Sultan Khan vs A Pokorny 1-0431930Hamburg ol (Men)B02 Alekhine's Defense
21. E Gilfer vs Sultan Khan 1-0161930Hamburg ol (Men)A46 Queen's Pawn Game
22. Rubinstein vs Sultan Khan 1-0421930Hamburg ol (Men)A46 Queen's Pawn Game
23. H Taubmann vs Sultan Khan  0-1341930Hamburg ol (Men)E24 Nimzo-Indian, Samisch
24. V Soultanbeieff vs Sultan Khan 0-1281930LiegeE16 Queen's Indian
25. Sultan Khan vs Weenink 1-0701930LiegeC29 Vienna Gambit
 page 1 of 6; games 1-25 of 140  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Sultan Khan wins | Sultan Khan loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  joegalby: there should be a great movie about this genius
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: Photo: Chess champion of Great Britain, Mir Sultan Khan, plays 24 games simultaneous at the Empire Chess Club (London, 1931).
Jun-28-13  Badyl: Hi all,

I`m looking for a game by SK where he plays black side of exchange var of french. I remember white goes Bd3 before Nf3 so he plays something like c5 , then takes it with the bishop then puts his Q on d6 and after white kicks his g4 bishop with h3 he takes on h3 and next move goes Qg3+. Pretty standard thing but i wanted to see how he proceeded and cant remember. If anyone knows that game let me know. Thanks

Aug-05-13  anandrulez:

Interesting to read that Mir Sultan didn't teach chess to his son because he thought its not the best use of time . I feel most of us who tend to get hooked with Online Chess should just read this piece :) Socially chatting in FICS is probably ok but not obsessively playing ... thank god my PC's eboard has crashed ... so that there is no way I can use it for a QUICKIE :-)

Premium Chessgames Member
  WCC Editing Project: <anandrulez> The problem with anecdotes about <Sultan Khan>'s life before and after his chess career in England is that they are difficult to substantiate with a primary source.

This newspaper article from 1955, for example, relates an anecdote of Khan returning to India, and sometime later losing three games in a row to an old man, and then vowing never to play again.

The story then goes on to say <"Readers should take such stories with a pinch of salt, and I told my friend who related it to me that there is no meaning in believing such age-old stuff.">

The anecdote related by the chessbase article about Khan and his son does not appear in <R.N. Coles'> Sultan Khan biography; nor does it appear in the Khan entry in <Golombek's Encyclopedia of Chess>.

The anecdote does appear in <Hooper and Whyld's Oxford Companion to Chess> 1991 edition, on page 403:

<"He [Khan] would not coach his children in chess, his eldest son, Ather Sultan, recalls, but told them that they should do something more useful with their lives.">

The frustrating part about all this is that neither <chessbase> nor the <Oxford Companion> gives proper source citations for the anecdotes they print. In fact, they don't give any source citations at all.

Premium Chessgames Member
  WCC Editing Project: <anandrulez>, and others interested in <Sultan Khan> lore, and the provenance for that lore:

I should also mention that Khan's biographer <R.N Coles> had good relations, and substantial personal contact, with <Sultan Khan> during his chess career in England.

So did <Harry Golombek>, who was actually <Khan's> boarding house mate In Ramsgate, August 1929, during the British Chess Championship. <Khan> played in the Master section, <Golombek> in "Section A of the Second Class" section.

At any rate, in <"Chess Treasury of the Air" (2002), Terence Tiller, ed.>, Golombek relates several intimate, and touching anecdotes that give us a tantalizing hint about Khan's personality.

For example, <Golombek> reports that they played many blitz games, and that

<"He loved to play quick games but, strange to relate, match and tournament chess were a trial to him. Partly, I suppose, this was due to his laziness; but I suspect that a more important factor was the feeling that he had to do not well, but extremely well, in order to <<<justify himself>>> to his patron [Sir Umar Hayat Khan].">

-"Chess Treasury of the Air"
Terence Tiller, ed.
Hardinge Simpole 2002,
p. 62

Dec-26-14  TheFocus: <Sultan Khan had become champion of India at Indian chess and he learned the rules of our form of chess at a later date. The fact that even under such conditions he succeeded in becoming champion reveals a genius for chess which is nothing short of extraordinary> - Capablanca.
Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: <In the BCM a letter to the editor which was published in 1966, Mohammed Yusuf from Lahore, West Pakistan, wrote:

<I have known Sultan Khan since 1918. He lives as a small landowner in Sargodha District in the old Punjab. The reason for his disappearance from the chess world is that his patron, Sir Umar Hayat Malik is Khan Tiwana died in 1944. Since then he has had no opportunity to to meet any of the players scattered all over the country. It well known that the English language skills of Sultan Khan hardly surpassed his writing skills. The secretary of the late Sir Umar usually helped him to read game records. Today, he has no one who could help him with chess. But yet, he is surely still the best player in Pakistan, and probably India.

He's a genius.

In 1966 Sultan Khan died in the same district in which he had once been born. Sultan Junior, his eldest son, remembered that his father did not want to teach chess to his grandchildren; for he said, they should discuss with their life something more sensible right from the start.>>

I translated this back from <Fateful Moments in Chess History> by Ehn and Kastner.

Perhaps somebody could supply the original material from teh 1966 BCM article?

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: Found this on Spraggett's site on Tartakower (= "he" in the following):

<From his match with Sultan Khan’s slave (he lost narrowly) He blamed ”excessive optimism”>


Two questions-

1) Does anybody know Spraggett well enough to shoot him a note that Sultan Khan != Sultan Khan's slave?

2) What is the source for Tartakower's statement about "excessive optimism"?

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: Sultan Khan's amazing, but all too brief, meteoric rise to the upper reaches of the chess world is nicely demonstrated in his chessmetrics rating graph:

It shows the progress he made during his first two years of exposure to the opening play of the Europeans etc.

And, after reading through the previous comments - it should be said that Sultan Khan should be considered one of the top-10 players in the world before his return to Punjab.

Dec-22-15  ketchuplover: Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan !
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: What was his name?
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: <He passed away in Sargodha, Pakistan in 1966.>

SK passed away in '66, according to the bio, but FSR puts the year at 1965.

Can someone please confirm the correct year?

Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <thegoodanarchist> The Wikipedia article on him, which was largely written by me, lists three sources and says April 25, 1966. When I wrote that comment saying that he died in 1965, I was probably just going off my memory.
Aug-11-17  KnightVBishop: Would he of been champion of his time if not for European racism at the time?
Aug-12-17  Boomie: According to Chessmetrics, Khan and Flohr were at about the same strength from about 1930-1935. Then Khan plateaued at around 2700 and Flohr leveled off at 2750. 2700 is an awfully nice place to plateau. Clearly Khan would have become a respected professional. He was about 150 rating points behind Alekhine, so he had a bit of a chore ahead of him to go all the way.

As to the question of racism, we can only guess what it meant to them. On the surface it appears that England oppressed India. But the cultures benefitted each other in many ways. By the time of the 1930's the relationship between the English and the Indian cultures was quite close and extremely complex.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Great, great talent; it is pointless to speculate as to what might have been, while remembering such beautiful games as this formidable player's win over Capablanca.
Aug-12-17  Howard: The Oxford Companion to Chess (1992) states that he may have been the greatest natural player in the history of chess....

...though the late Larry Evans said the same about Capablanca in a mid-70's column.

Premium Chessgames Member
  jith1207: From his perception of Chess in his later years, it looks like Sultan Khan did not live with any regret of not having chance to get back to British soil to play the game. It is probable that he was starving for family, food and companionship when we was away from home. Here is to hoping that he lived his life to the fullest, having given a glimpse of that natural talent to all of us.
Jan-06-18  WilhelmThe2nd:

From London’s 'Daily Mail' newspaper, Tuesday, April 30th, 1929, page 14 (with descriptive notation changed to algebraic notation):


Señor J. R. Capablanca, the former world chess champion, played 35 games simultaneously with members (and their friends) of the Maccabeans' Club—a club composed of Jewish professional men—at the Montefiore Hall, St. John's Wood, N.W., on Sunday. He won 29 of these, drew three, and lost the other three.

The winner of one of these games was M. Sultan Khan, one of the best chess players in India and a member of the staff of Col. the Hon. Nawab Sir Umar Hayat Khan (Councillor of State). The moves in this game were: —

White. Sr. Capablanca. Black. M. Sultan Khan.

1. d4 Nf6
2. c4 e6
3. Nc3 d5
4. Bg5 Be7
5. e3 a6
6. cxd5 exd5
7. Bd3 Be6
8. Nge2 h6
9. Bh4 c5
10. dxc5 Bxc5
11. O-O Nc6
12. Nf4 g5
13. Nxe6 fxe6
14. Bg3 Ke7
15. Rc1 Bd6
16. f4 Qc7
17. Ne2 Ng4
18. Nd4 Nxe3
19. Qe2 gxf4
20. Bh4+ Kd7
21. Qh5 Raf8
22. Qg6 Qb6
23. Qxe6+ Kc7
24. *Qxd5 Nxd5
25. Resigns.

*Queen takes Queen's pawn was an obvious oversight on the part of the ex-world champion—a blunder always possible when so many players are being opposed simultaneously. Without the mistake the game might have been drawn, as Black does not appear to be at any disadvantage.>

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Remarkable did this game not turn up before? Submitted?
Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: <WilhelmThe2nd> - your profile mentions your work can be found at this link:


Unfortunately, the link is stale. Do you have an updated site?

Jan-06-18  WilhelmThe2nd:

<Miss S> I had no luck submitting games in the (distant) past. So I have not attempted to submit this one.

<Z> Regrettably, no. The old site can still be viewed on the Internet Archive, minus the images that appeared in it.

Jan-07-18  todicav23: <Howard: The Oxford Companion to Chess (1992) states that he may have been the greatest natural player in the history of chess....

...though the late Larry Evans said the same about Capablanca in a mid-70's column.>

Based on what? He was a top 10 player in the world at his best and nothing more.

He learned to play indian chess (very similar with chess) at 9. By contrast, Pillsbury learned to play chess at 16 and he was far more successful. Morphy, Pillsbury, Capablanca (just to name a few) were more talented than Sultan Khan.

Sultan Khan is just like Ramanujan in mathematics. Ramanujan is extremely popular and considered somehow the ultimate genius despite the fact that other mathematicians had much greater impact.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <I had no luck submitting games in the (distant) past. So I have not attempted to submit this one.>

Patience, my little man. Things have notably improved. But, in this case, allow me.

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