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🏆 St. Petersburg (1914) Chess Event Description
The St Petersburg Tournament of 1914 featured the joint winners of the 1914 All Russian Championship (Alekhine and Nimzowitsch) and players who had won at least one major tournament. There were the veterans Blackburne and Gunsberg, established masters such as Tarrasch, Bernstein, Janowski, Nimzowitsch, Alekhine and Marshall as well as the World Champion Lasker and his two most prominent rivals, Rubinstein and Capablanca. ... [more]

Player: Ossip Bernstein

 page 1 of 1; 10 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Janowski vs O Bernstein 0-1391914St. PetersburgD02 Queen's Pawn Game
2. O Bernstein vs Gunsberg 1-0221914St. PetersburgC87 Ruy Lopez
3. Blackburne vs O Bernstein  ½-½351914St. PetersburgC77 Ruy Lopez
4. O Bernstein vs Nimzowitsch ½-½501914St. PetersburgE12 Queen's Indian
5. Marshall vs O Bernstein 1-0301914St. PetersburgD10 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
6. O Bernstein vs Rubinstein ½-½971914St. PetersburgC48 Four Knights
7. Capablanca vs O Bernstein 1-0461914St. PetersburgD37 Queen's Gambit Declined
8. O Bernstein vs Lasker 1-0561914St. PetersburgC66 Ruy Lopez
9. Alekhine vs O Bernstein ½-½361914St. PetersburgC66 Ruy Lopez
10. O Bernstein vs Tarrasch 0-1691914St. PetersburgC80 Ruy Lopez, Open
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Bernstein wins | Bernstein loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
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Aug-20-16  Retireborn: <Benzol> Indeed, a plus score against all of the participants except Bernstein (1-1 with several draws), Blackburne (1 draw), and Gunsberg (no previous encounters.)
Aug-20-16  zanzibar: Perhaps I should moderate my comment above... given that the pre-history must factor out the results of the tournament itself.

One trouble is the lack of tournament play by both Rubinstein and Lasker in 1913.

Rubinstein peaked in 1912 according to EDO:

But his peak, 2656 isn't enough to challenge Lasker's relative minimum of 2715 of 1910.

(EDO has Lasker playing 0 games in 1911, 1912, 1913.

EDO has Rubinstein playing 0 games in 1913)

Capablanca had reach 2730 during a very busy 1913 (54 games). Clearly he was a contender for 1st.

But Alekhine was also very active in 1913, having reached a rating of 2623 with 35 games.

To summarize, one must assume Capablanca and Lasker belong to the 1st class contenders alone, assuming Lasker's strength equivalent to 1910 (it wasn't, he was actually stronger!).

And if Rubinstein is to be mentioned, then, at a minimum, Alekhine had already earned his mention as well.

Of course, one could avoid all this detailed analysis by finding a contemporaneous source which agrees with the intro's assessment!

(As concerns my heavy reliance of EDO chess, suffice it to say that Tim Harding across quotes heavily from this source as well - it's a great, informative and well organized source - one of the best on the net).

Aug-20-16  Retireborn: <z> It's interesting that Rubinstein didn't play at all in 1913. I wonder why that was? Lack of practice may well have been a factor in his relative failure here.

As for contemporaneous sources, the following link to Levenfish might be interesting (scroll down a bit to #3):

[The remark about Marshall having a dash of Indian blood made me laugh, I'm afraid!]

It's true that after WWI Rubinstein would lose to Alekhine and Nimzowitsch rather more often than he beat them (and some of those games are quite famous.) But in 1907-1914 he would have been expected to finish ahead of them in tournaments, I think.

Aug-20-16  zanzibar: Yes, perhaps. Knowing his decline was in effect by 1914 colors my view I suppose.

And the tournament photograph did feature him, prominently sitting across from Lasker at the table.

Of course, Burn is also given a central role, and he's not even a participant (I believe he was there as Field reporter primarily).

I'm sure <offramp> will say it's because the Russian were rather taken with his beard!

Aug-20-16  zanzibar: <RB> thanks to you and <Rishi9> for the Levenfish reminisces on the tournament.

Quite revealing.

Aug-20-16  zanzibar: Levenfish finishes with this:

<The tournament produced many fine specimens of chess artistry, and one can only regret that so far no collection of games from this first-class event has been published in Russian...>

He died in 1961, and his writing was published posthumously, but still... that's a shocking omission on the part of the Russians/Soviets.

Aug-20-16  Retireborn: <z> Many interesting things in that photo: Lasker's confident gaze, Alekhine's uniform (?), Nimzo looking in the wrong direction, Marshall's possibly Indian hair(!) and so on.

I do wonder about the Wainstein standing next to Marshall. Probably not an ancestor of Garry, although it would be neat if he was.

Aug-20-16  zanzibar: <RB> you might need to buy a vowel...
Aug-21-16  zanzibar: OK, here's my best version of the group photograph, plus some other handsome portraits...

Maybe I should post this over at Doll?

<CG> How about using the group photo above?

Aug-23-16  zanzibar: Surprised noone has commented on Alekhine's hat.

Here's maybe a better version of the same photo:

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <zanzibar> Courtesy of Karpova, here is Capablanca's assessment of Rubinstein, in 1912:

<Rubinstein, who, at the chess board, is the glory of Russia, was born in Łódź in 1882, and is thus 30 years old. He is extremely astute and a profound student of the game; it is related that he studies for two or three hours every morning; he is a great admirer of Morphy, whose games he probably knows by heart. He is very observant and when, in San Sebastián in 1911, I was amusing myself playing fast games against Dr Bernstein, his compatriot, he always came to watch the contest, often making the observation that I possessed tactical ability superior to anyone else’s. This is clear proof of the great Russian expert’s modesty.

Rubinstein has made a special study of the queen’s pawn opening, and his opponents can be entirely sure that as White he will open with 1 d4. There have been occasions when he has varied, but these have been rare. With Black he almost always plays the French Defense against 1 e4 and he has made a special study of this opening too.

His openings are irreproachable because he plays only what he has studied in the greatest depth. His middle-game play is worthy of the great master that he is, while it is generally agreed that he is extraordinarily strong in the endgame. From this it may be deduced that the Russian master is very difficult to defeat. To beat him it is necessary to proceed step by step and with great care because he is forever preparing traps for his opponent.

His main successes have been Carlsbad, 1907, first prize; Ostend, 1907, first and second prizes equal with Bernstein; St Petersburg, 1909, first and second prizes equal with Lasker, the world champion, whom he beat in their individual game; San Sebastián, 1911, second and third prizes equal with Vidmar, and finally San Sebastián, 1912 first prize.

Rubinstein has never been lower than third in an international tournament, which is a record matched by no other player except Lasker. <Today Rubinstein is, in my opinion, the strongest European player, leaving aside Lasker, who, as world champion, has the right to be considered the first.>>

I think that is what pretty much anyone would have said going into the St. Petersburg tournament, except they might not agree that Lasker (who had not played serious chess since 1910) was entitled to outrank Rubinstein.

Jul-18-17  ZonszeinP: Great Rubinstein missed an opportunity here, to show the world he was the best at the time
Jul-18-17  JimNorCal: Yes, this was Rubinstein's first slip, I believe. Nathan Divinsky wrote a fictional "Rubinstein diary" covering the tournament. It's fictional and not everyone's cup of tea but it does IMO give a plausible description of the emotions that must've been swirling.
Jul-23-17  ZonszeinP: Nowadays nobody wears hats like Alkehine's

Good old days
Gone for good

Sep-29-18  JimNorCal: The discussion on the Grand Master title is interesting. I think Marshall discussed it in one of his books but I don't recall if he gave a photo of a medallion or proclamation or anything. I don't have the Marshall book anymore.

I don't recall Alekhine, Capa, Lasker or other sources talking about it.

Here's a snip from Wikipedia
"According to Marshall's 1942 autobiography ... Tsar Nicholas II conferred the title of "Grandmaster" on Marshall and the other four finalists. Chess historian Edward Winter has questioned this ..."

Sep-30-18  TheFocus: <JimNorCal: The discussion on the Grand Master title is interesting. I think Marshall discussed it in one of his books but I don't recall if he gave a photo of a medallion or proclamation or anything. I don't have the Marshall book anymore.>

Marshall gave a photo on pg. 20 of <My Fifty Years of Chess> with the first five finishers. Written on it is "the five woodshifters".

On pg. 21, he says: <It was at this tournament that the Tsar of Russia conferred on each of the five finalists the title "Grandmaster of Chess">.

This is just fiction by Marshall.

Sep-30-18  TheFocus: Certainly Rubinstein was a much stronger player than Marshall. Very hard to believe that a Tsar had the power to grant grandmaster titles on anyone.
Sep-30-18  john barleycorn: <TheFocus: ... Very hard to believe that a Tsar had the power to grant grandmaster titles on anyone.>

That comes with feudalism. The Tsar did not give rules and/or regulations but titles and benefits.

Sep-30-18  JimNorCal: Yeah I'm sure the Tsar could proclaim any darn thing he wanted. There was no FIDE to grant titles.

Did Lasker, Capa, Tarrasch or Alekhine--for that matter, any contemporary publications or others of the masters-- mention anything?

Oct-02-18  john barleycorn: <JimNorCal: ...

Did Lasker, Capa, Tarrasch or Alekhine--for that matter, any contemporary publications or others of the masters-- mention anything?>

I have not seen any tournament/match book that would mention the title grandmaster. Take New York 1924 by Aljechin. Never says GM Em. Lasker vs. GM Capablanca etc pp. Even Tarrasch never shy to praise his accomplishments mentions his GM title, afaik

Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: < ZonszeinP: Nowadays nobody wears hats like Alkehine's >

For good reason!

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: I strongly recommend tournament book by Siegbert Tarrasch, now translated into English and updated with more modern comments as well as the contemporary witty annotation of Georg Marco that often disagreed with Tarrasch's. It is available from Amazon at

Tarrasch has an undeserved reputation for dogmatism, fostered by both the Soviet school agitprop and by Aron Nimzowitsch But his notes belay that reputation. In fact, this tournament twice saw the opening later called the Nimzo-Indian, and Tarrasch had no criticisms, and even said that White should not have allowed the doubled Ps, one of the main points of this defence.

Tarrasch was also known as a bitter rival to Emanuel Lasker In the notes to Lasker's games, he notes the apparent sorcery of Lasker that prompted opponents to play some bad moves. But this is more than balanced by the effusive praise for the quality of Lasker's play. Tarrasch notes Lasker's appearance fee of 4,500 rubles, and says in emphatic font, “I do not think this was too high”, and that Lasker deserved even more for his great games.

Oct-16-19  ewan14: Impressive result by Lasker
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Jonathan Sarfati: I strongly recommend tournament book by Siegbert Tarrasch, now translated into English and updated with more modern comments as well as the contemporary witty annotation of Georg Marco that often disagreed with Tarrasch's. It is available from Amazon at

For both Homers all but nodding their heads off, see Tarrasch vs Janowski, 1914.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: <keypusher:> a very good piece of analytical work there.
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