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Mir Sultan Khan
Sultan Khan 
Number of games in database: 133
Years covered: 1929 to 1935

Overall record: +66 -39 =27 (60.2%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 1 exhibition game, blitz/rapid, odds game, etc. is excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Queen's Pawn Game (21) 
    D02 D05 D04 A46 E10
 Queen's Indian (6) 
    E16 E18 E17 E15 E12
 French Defense (4) 
    C01 C11 C00
With the Black pieces:
 Nimzo Indian (9) 
    E23 E24 E38 E44 E32
 Queen's Pawn Game (9) 
    A46 D02 A40
 Orthodox Defense (7) 
    D55 D53 D52 D50
 Ruy Lopez (7) 
    C88 C74 C78 C84 C79
 Queen's Indian (5) 
    E15 E16
 French Defense (5) 
    C01 C13 C11 C17
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, 1932 0-1
   Sultan Khan vs Marshall, 1930 1-0
   Ahues vs Sultan Khan, 1930 0-1
   Euwe vs Sultan Khan, 1932 1/2-1/2
   Sultan Khan vs Flohr, 1932 1-0
   Rubinstein vs Sultan Khan, 1930 1/2-1/2
   Alekhine vs Sultan Khan, 1931 1/2-1/2
   Sultan Khan vs G A Thomas, 1932 1-0

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   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
   Mir Sultan Khan - the unsung Grandmaster by MTuraga
   London International Chess Congress, 1932 by Resignation Trap
   Liege 1930 by suenteus po 147
   When Sultans played Chess by Open Defence
   Hastings 1932/33 by Phony Benoni
   Hastings 1930/31 by suenteus po 147
   toso51's favorite games by toso51

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Mir Sultan Khan
Search Google for Mir Sultan Khan

(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 133  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. Yates vs Sultan Khan 1-046 1929 LondonC17 French, Winawer, Advance
2. Sultan Khan vs E G Sergeant  1-035 1930 ScarboroughB29 Sicilian, Nimzovich-Rubinstein
3. Sultan Khan vs Rubinstein 0-182 1930 ScarboroughC77 Ruy Lopez
4. Yates vs Sultan Khan 0-142 1930 ScarboroughB33 Sicilian
5. Sultan Khan vs Ahues 1-054 1930 ScarboroughC28 Vienna Game
6. Maroczy vs Sultan Khan 1-041 1930 ScarboroughC01 French, Exchange
7. Sultan Khan vs Menchik 1-025 1930 ScarboroughB13 Caro-Kann, Exchange
8. W Winter vs Sultan Khan 1-033 1930 ScarboroughD50 Queen's Gambit Declined
9. S Takacs vs Sultan Khan  ½-½34 1930 Hamburg olm GERA30 English, Symmetrical
10. Sultan Khan vs O Barda 1-027 1930 Hamburg olm GERC01 French, Exchange
11. K Ruben vs Sultan Khan 1-074 1930 Hamburg olm GERE15 Queen's Indian
12. Rubinstein vs Sultan Khan 1-042 1930 Hamburg olm GERA46 Queen's Pawn Game
13. Ahues vs Sultan Khan  1-030 1930 Hamburg olm GERB30 Sicilian
14. Sultan Khan vs G A Thomas  1-041 1930 ScarboroughC22 Center Game
15. Gruenfeld vs Sultan Khan  ½-½67 1930 ScarboroughD11 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
16. Sultan Khan vs Colle  0-147 1930 ScarboroughB03 Alekhine's Defense
17. R P Michell vs Sultan Khan 0-196 1930 ScarboroughD52 Queen's Gambit Declined
18. H Taubmann vs Sultan Khan  0-134 1930 Hamburg ol (Men)E24 Nimzo-Indian, Samisch
19. E Gilfer vs Sultan Khan 1-016 1930 Hamburg ol (Men)A46 Queen's Pawn Game
20. Sultan Khan vs A Pokorny 1-043 1930 Hamburg ol (Men)B02 Alekhine's Defense
21. V Soultanbeieff vs Sultan Khan 0-128 1930 LiegeE16 Queen's Indian
22. Sultan Khan vs Weenink 1-070 1930 LiegeC29 Vienna Gambit
23. Ahues vs Sultan Khan 0-146 1930 LiegeE43 Nimzo-Indian, Fischer Variation
24. Sultan Khan vs Marshall 1-026 1930 LiegeC22 Center Game
25. I Pleci vs Sultan Khan 0-140 1930 LiegeE23 Nimzo-Indian, Spielmann
 page 1 of 6; games 1-25 of 133  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
  parisattack: <FSR: For anyone who's interested - someone on eBay is selling Coles' book on Sultan Khan, which you don't see often:;

Tough to find little book. HB but no DJ as issued as I recall.

Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <FSR> and <paris> Got the Sultan Khan on my watch list.

Just bought 7 Fischer books this weekend. No one bid against me. That rarely happens.

Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <Sho: What has been Mr. Khan's legacy in India?

That is, all I've ever read about him seems to be from a western perspective. One would think that he would be the "Grandfather of Indian Chess" or something similar, but I've yet to read anything to that effect.

How is he remembered at home?>

I have no idea, but he was actually from "British India" and the area where he lived is now (after the 1947 partition of "India" into India and Pakistan) in Pakistan.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <FSR: It's criminal that FIDE never gave him even an IM title. He was one of the strongest players in the world during his short career, and surely deserved the GM title. He was probably stronger than Carlos Torre, another player with a short career from a Third World country, whom FIDE did award the GM title.>

When FIDE awarded their initial GM and IM titles in 1950, does anyone know what the criteria might have been?

It is amazing that Sultan Khan never got a title. He was a tremendous talent.

Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: Elo on page 65 of his book "The Rating of Chessplayers: Past and Present" says, "Selections were limited to players then living, but not necessarily currently active, and were based on subjective and, to a certain extent, political considerations." Eleven of the players awarded the Grandmaster title were from the USSR, 13 from other European countries, two from the U.S., and one from Argentina. I don't know whether Pakistan, a country only three years old, was even a member of FIDE, so Sultan Khan probably had no one to lobby for him. It would have been nice if the representatives of the other federations had said, "Hey, what about that Sultan Khan guy? Is he still alive? If so, he surely deserves a title.", but apparently that didn't happen. On the following page, Elo writes, "Death came too soon for some of the strongest players in history, who remain unrecognized by the international titles carried by other players ...." He lists Sultan Khan as one such player - but given that SK died in 1965, this is rather misleading.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <FSR> This sentence by Elo from page 66 rather smacks of self-justification, near as I can tell.

Let's see........27 players awarded GM titles in '50....that's Najdorf, Fine and Reshevsky as the three from the Western Hemisphere (can't really be anyone else, though it's odd that Kashdan didn't receive one), and most of the rest would also be obvious.

Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: Self-justification? I don't know if Elo had any input into who FIDE awarded the GM and IM titles. FIDE didn't adopt the Elo rating system until 1971 or so, after SK was dead.
Aug-09-11  Antiochus: 138 games him to download are here:

Sep-02-11  Meister326: Mir Sultan Khan was a great talent who could play with anyone. Too bad he went back to India, because it was a loss for the chess world.
Premium Chessgames Member
  PhilFeeley: <TheFocus: <FSR> and <paris> Just bought 7 Fischer books this weekend. No one bid against me. That rarely happens. >

There are 7 Fischer books? I can only think of one. I guess you mean books about Fischer. Which ones?

Sep-01-12  Karpova: While he won the British Championship at Hastings in 1933, the Women's Championship was won by Fatimah (also from India) - she won with <großer Überlegenheit>.

From page 253 of the 1933 'Neue Wiener Schachzeitung'

Does anyone know something about her?

Premium Chessgames Member
  samsloan: Do not blame FIDE or anybody else for this omission. Nobody knew where Sultan Khan was. He had just gone back to India with his master and had not been heard from since. Even his death was not reported in the news. Nobody in the world of chess even knew that he was from a part of India that had become Pakistan. Check the news reports from that time and you will see than other than an occasional question about "What ever happened to Sultan Khan?" there were no reports and nobody had any information about him, dead or alive. It was not until several years after he had died that we found out that he was dead.

Sam Sloan

Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: Sulthan Khan video annotation playlist:

Jan-29-13  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

Premium Chessgames Member
  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.

Premium Chessgames Member
  ketchuplover: Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan !
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: What was his name?
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