The arrangements for the match
This six-game match, contested 23 May - 2 June 1924 between Efim Bogoljubov (aged 35) and Abraham Kupchik (aged 32), took place after the New York (1924) International tournament which had ended on 18th of April. "E. D. Bogoljubow of Ukrainia, who plans to remain here for some time to come, is negotiating a match of five games up with A. Kupchik former state champion, beginning sometime next week. The earlier games will be contested at the Manhattan, Rice-Progressive and Stuyvesant Chess Clubs. After that, they will be prepared to continue the match at the rooms of any clubs subscribing for games. Clubs desiring to do so may communicate with the American Chess Bulletin ..." (1)
"Negotiations have been completed between E. D. Bogoljubow, who represented Ukrainia in the recent international tournament and A. Kupchik, former New York State champion, for a match of twelve games, to be contested at the rate of four a week from 2 to 6 p.m. and 8 p.m to midnight each day. The first game is scheduled this afternoon at the Manhattan Chess Club, the second at the same place on Saturday and the third at the Rice Progressive Chess Club on Sunday." (2)
The early 1920s were a time when Bogoljubov was stateless having declined to return to the newly established Soviet Union, but he was in the ascendancy in his chess career. His victory at Bad Pistyan (1922) had established him as a leading grandmaster, but New York (1924) was a relative set back for him. His career peaks were Karlsbad (1923) and USSR Championship (1925) and between the two he also became Soviet champion. For the rest of the decade and until the mid-1930s he would be a top-four player. He was to twice play Alexander Alekhine for the world championship, Alekhine - Bogoljubov World Championship Match (1929) and Alekhine - Bogoljubov World Championship Rematch (1934).
Bogoljubov appears to have challenged Kupchik. It is unclear why Bogoljubow should have chosen to play this match with a relatively unknown player other than to defray his expenses. He did not approach Frank Marshall or David Janowski, the two grandmasters in the United States and who both were currently residing in New York. Perhaps it would have been too expensive or too difficult in the available time?
Kupchik was less well known internationally than his fellow New York masters Oscar Chajes, Jacob Bernstein and Charles Jaffe. Chajes had unexpectedly defeated David Janowski in a match in 1918 (Chajes - Janowski (1918)) and was along with Oscar Chajes a reserve player for the New York tournament. (3) Kupchik had just finished second by half a point to Chajes in the annual championship of the Manhattan Chess tournament in January 1924. Chajes along with Jacob Bernstein had been invited to the prestigious international tournament at Karlsbad (1923).
Kupchik was a quiet and reserved man who was not known for self-publicity. Yet, his results were superior to all his American contemporaries in the 1920s except for Marshall. In August 1923, he shared first place with Marshall at the 9th American Chess Congress (1923). "Kupchik stood barely five feet tall and weighed less than 115 pounds, and the assertiveness of his personality was in proportion to his size. Arnold Denker called him a 'timid, tiny whisper of a man' and a 'frightened little rabbit.' Nonetheless, this diminutive introvert was one of the best players in America at the time (estimated Elo rating 2480), especially at speed chess; he once won a 10-seconds-per-move tournament over Capablanca. In keeping with his personality, his style was thoroughly defensive and non-aggressive; he would erect a staunch bulwark and invite his opponent to dash himself to bits against it (which many did)." (4)
Although Kupchick was known for his solid style (1913 to 1937), he was thirteen times Manhattan Chess Club champion. An accountant by profession, he was a very strong but never a professional player. By 1924 he had only once played in an overseas tournament, at Havana (1913).
The progress of the match
Bogoljubov had White in the odd-numbered games.
1 2 3 4 5 6
Bogoljubov 1 1 1 0 ½ ½ 4
Kupchik 0 0 0 1 ½ ½ 2
1 2 3 4 5 6
Bogoljubov 1 2 3 3 3½ 4
Kupchik 0 0 0 1 1½ 2
"After losing the first three games of his match with Bogoljubow, A. Kupchik took a very decided brace and in the next three, he won one and drew two, thus demonstrating to the satisfaction of his friends that he was not the man to be swept off his feet even against so fine a player as the Ukrainian master. The turning point came in the fourth game, contested at the rooms of the Rice-Progressive Chess Club, which yielded Kupchik a well-earned victory. The next two games, at the Manhattan Chess Club, were both drawn. The standing after six games: Bogoljubow, 3; Kupchik, 1; drawn, 2." (5)
Game 1. Bogoljubov won a pawn as White in a Ruy Lopez. Kupchik managed to survive his opponent's King-side attack and may have been able to hold the ending. In the end, he could not prevent Bogoljubov's <a> heading for queening.
Game 2. Kupchik as White played the Ruy Lopez and followed the famous game Capablanca vs Bogoljubov, 1922 to move 15. There, either thorough preparation or through ignorance of that game, he diverged. Bogoljubov emerged with a Rook and two pawns for a Bishop and Knight. His pieces were more active than Kupchik's, whose King was also exposed, and Bogoljubov increasingly hemmed Kupchik in forcing resignation on the fiftieth move:
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Game 3. Two games down after two games, Kupchik as Black changed his defence to the Petrov. Unfortunately, he lost a pawn in the early middlegame for no compensation. Bogoljubov broke through into his Kingside and forced an early resignation. The match appeared to be heading the way of a whitewash with Bogoljubov's tactical sharpness exploiting Kupchik's errors.
Game 4. Kupchik changed to a Queen's pawn opening and his opponent replied with a Bogo-Indian defence. Kupchik despite his battering so far in the match was determined to fight and castled long. Bogoljubow blundered with
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Game 5. Bogoljubov again opened Ruy Lopez playing an early <d4>. Kupchik played solidly and Bogoljubov was unable to establish an advantage. The first 14 moves of this game were later followed by V Gashimov vs Harikrishna, 2008 which was also a drawn.
"Bogoljubow and Kupchik Play Draw at Chess. E. D. Bogoljubow, Ukrainian chess champion and A. Kupchik, former New York State champion, contested the fifth game of their match at the rooms of the Manhattan Chess Club yesterday afternoon. After 40 moves had been recorded a draw was agreed upon, leaving Bogoljubow still in the lead by a score of 3-1 and one drawn. Bogoljubow, with the white pieces, adopted the Ruy Lopez and Kupchik made use of the Morphy defense. Queens were exchanged on the eleventh move and at his twenty-first turn Bogoljubow temporarily sacrificed a piece, as a result of which he established one of his Rooks on the seventh rank. Kupchik, however, repelled every attack skilfully and after exchanging the menacing Rook in question emerged in an even ending." (6)
Game 6. Kupchik opened with <d4> and Bogoljubov played a Grunfeld defence.
Bogoljubov allowed Kupchik to establish a dangerous looking passed <a> pawn
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but Kupchik was unable to make this count and the game was drawn.
The match result showed that Kupchik was a strong player but not quite in his opponent's class and in particular, he was vulnerable to Bogoljubov's tactical ability. Kupchik never played chess full time and his quiet personality meant that his achievements have been often overlooked. In 1925 Kupchik drew a six-game match with Carlos Torre Repetto (played at the Marshall Chess Club) and in 1926 he was a clear second place behind Jose Raul Capablanca in the very strong "Pan-American chess tournament" - Lake Hopatcong (1926).
(1) The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 15th May 1924.
(2) The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 22nd May 1924.
(3) The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 7th February 1924.
(4) Some observations regarding Kupchik, by Gabriel Velasco, page 99 of The Life and Games of Carlos Torre, translated by Taylor Kingston. Russell Enterprises, Inc. (2000).
(5) Pittsburgh Daily Post, 15th June 1924, section 6.
(6) The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 1st June 1924.
User: Chessical - original text and compilation.