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Horowitz - Kashdan Playoff Match

Israel Albert Horowitz5/10(+2 -2 =6)[games]
Isaac Kashdan5/10(+2 -2 =6)[games]
* Chess Event Description
Horowitz - Kashdan Playoff (1938)

Isaac Kashdan and Israel Albert Horowitz played this match for the title of Champion of the American Chess Federation for 1938. The match took place following the Championship Final (15th-23th July) of the 39th ACF Congress (see Game Collection: US Open 1938, Boston = 39th ACF Congress), where both players had tied for first prize. The match was delayed until mid-October in order to raise sufficient funds.

The players

At the commencement of the match, Kashdan was 32 years old; Horowitz was 31 years old. They had played four times prior to this match; Kashdan led by 3 games to 1.

Using Chessmetrics data, Horowitz was 45th and Kashdan was 9th on its January 1938 rating list. The leading American players were Samuel Reshevsky at 6th and Reuben Fine at 7th. 1

Kashdan emerged as a Grandmaster in the early 1930s but during the second half of the decade he scaled back his chess to concentrate on his profession in insurance which offered more reliable remuneration.

Kashdan was the strongest American player for three of four years (in the early 1930's - ed.); then he was outdistanced by Reshevsky and Fine. His play was solid, unspectacular, yet thorough. What he lacked was knowledge of the openings and the willingness to risk tactical adventures; eventually in spite of his comprehensive grasp of the game, his over-cautioness began to take its toll. At his best Kashdan was nicknamed "The Little Capablanca" because of his great emphasis on positional play and end game technique. 2

Horowitz was a full time professional and editor in chief of Chess Review. Horowitz won three US Open Championships, but he lacked the tournament opportunities of European players. He had only played outside of the United States in the Olympiads of 1931, 1935 and 1937.

It was unfortunate that this match was overshadowed by the exceptionally strong AVRO (1938) tournament which ran from 6th to the 27th of November 1938. World Champion Alexander Alekhine faced every one of his major challengers, this including America's two top players Reshevsky and Fine. It was widely believed that AVRO would be a world championship selection tournament. 3 As a result, the interest shown in the match by Chess Review, the premier American chess magazine, tailed off.

This report is extensively based on contemporaneous Chess Review articles. Both Horowitz and Kashdan provided material on the opening games, but the magazine's final report of the match was cursory, the games from the second half of the match being barely annotated.

It has been our intention to annotate all the games, but the demands of the AVRO tournament for space, made this impossible. 4

Venues and match arrangements

The match was of ten games duration. It began on Saturday, 15th October and concluded on Saturday, 31st December. Mr. L. Walter Stevens, later to become the Vice President of the US Chess Federation, was the match referee. 5

The match dates followed an irregular schedule with significant gaps between the games. This may have been due to the outside responsibilities and business interests of the players.

Play took place at various venues in New York (including a private residence): Hotel Alamac (160 W 71st St, New York), Manhattan Chess Club, the residence of Maurice Wertheim (President of the Manhattan Chess Club), Queens Chess Club, and the Marshall Chess Club.

The progress of the match

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Horowitz 1 0 1 0 5 Kashdan 0 1 0 1 5

Kashdan was White in the odd numbered games.

Progressive score:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Horowitz 1 1 2 2 3 3 3 4 4 5 Kashdan 0 1 1 1 2 2 3 4 4 5

Many of the decisive games resulted from both players making unforced errors, and those errors radically changed the flow of play. Kashdan lost the first game from an advantageous position and Horowitz returned the favour in Game 2. Game 3 was the first game to be won by a player who had held the initiative for most of the game. (4-6) were drawn - and not one of them should have been. Kashdan missed an easy win in their 4th game and a hard win in the sixth game, while Horowitz overlooked a beautiful Queen sacrifice in the 5th game. As a result, White has still to win a game in the match! ... Truthfully speaking, neither player has been seen to advantage. Kashdan appears to be too busy with his work to give of his best, and Horowitz has been too preoccupied with the details of his forthcoming trans-continental tour to concentrate hard enough to capitalize on his opportunities. 6

In Game 8, Horowitz missed a win and in Game 9 Kashdan should have won, but both made errors in the endings.

The games

Game 1 - Hotel Almac, New York, Saturday 15th October. 7 That Kashdan should play 1.e4 against Horowitz, who specializes in King's Pawn Openings, was a surprise. That it surprised Horowitz ... is indicated by his play. Kashdan obtained a winning advantage - and proceeded to throw it away. 8 Kashdan played aggressively as White, and offered a Pawn sacrifice on his thirteenth move. Horowitz declined this but in his notes he later regretted the decision: ... one should be able to stand a bit of abuse for a Pawn. 9 Kashdan had a solid advantage, but then overlooked a tactical threat by allowing Horowitz to post a Rook on his second rank.

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32...Bh4!! and Kashdan resigned.

Accurate play on the part of Kashdan netted him a Pawn after twenty moves. Horowitz was left with sufficient force to plan a strong attacking movement against his rival's King, for which Kashdan failed to make adequate preparation. Horowitz therefore turned the tables and scored when Kashdan was confronted by the threat of checkmate. (New York Times, p. 92, Sunday 16th October.)

Game 2 - Manhattan Chess Club, New York, Sunday 16th October. Adjourned at move 41. 10 Completed on Thursday 20th October. 11 The second game saw Horowitz start off with 1.d4. Apparently he intended to do a little surprising of his own. He maneuvered Kashdan into a prepared variation but went astray on his 14th move. Thereafter he played indifferently and tossed away several drawing opportunities. 12 Horowitz obtained an active position, but in fact Kashdan held his own as Black in a Slav Defence. Although Horowitz had two apparently active Bishops he could not do anything with them. He lost a Pawn and then misplayed the ending. Kashdan won the game with an elegant little combination:

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69...g5!! (he cannot take the pawn because of the Knight fork) 70. Bg3 Ne2 and Horowitz resigned in view of 71.Be5 g4.

Game 3 - 33 East Seventieth Street, New York, 30th October. This game was played at the home of Maurice Wertheim. 13 14 Horowitz, with Black, outplayed Kashdan from an equal position. Horowitz kept his opponent tied down by pressure on the Q-side and eventually, after a long endgame, he forced two connected passed pawns through, making Kashdan's resignation inevitable. ... Kashdan played the White pieces in a Queen's Gambit Declined which was developed along normal lines. He attempted to build up an attack against the Black King, but Horowitz established a passed pawn on the Queen's-side of the board and eventually obtained control of the open <c> file. That was the turning point. Kashdan could not prevent the loss of a Pawn, leaving Horowitz with two connected passed Pawns. Queens remained on the board in an ending which had to be carefully handled. 15

Game 4 - Queens Chess Club in Woodside New York, 5th November. 16 Horowitz played an irregular line with an early <a4> against Kashdan's Closed Ruy Lopez defence. Kashdan took the initiative on the Q-side and won a Pawn, but then played poorly. He should have been able to promote a pawn and win the game but instead miscalculated allowing Horowitz to hold an opposite Bishop ending. Kashdan on the Black side of a Ruy Lopez, captured a pawn on the twenty-second move, which gave him winning chances. However, in an ending with Bishops commanding different colours, he failed to find the correct continuation and Horowitz forced the draw in 55 moves. 17

Game 5 - Marshall Chess Club, 19th November. The first English opening of the match; Horowitz played energetically and Kashdan was soon on the defensive. Both players missed an immediate win for Horowitz after Kashdan played 34.Qc5?

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He should have played 34...Bxf1+!! 35. Qxh5 Rxf2+ 36. Kh1 Bg2+ 37. Kh2 Bf3+ 38. Kh3 Bxh5

Game 6 - Manhattan Chess Club, 4th December. Horowitz played an English opening and should have won the game. Kashdan weakened his King-side, but the resultant tactical chances should have favoured Horowitz. With the straightforward

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29.Bxg7 Kxg7 30. Nxc7 Re7 31.Nd5, he would have been two Pawns up with the better position. Instead, with 29.Qf2? the initiative should have swung to Kashdan but he could only draw.

Game 7 - Manhattan Chess Club, New York, 15th December. 18 Horowitz defended a Queen's Gambit Declined. Kashdan was building up a promising attacking position when Horowitz walked into a powerful K-side attack

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by playing 19...Kh7? and meeting with 20.f5!

Game 8 - Marshall Chess Club, New York, 16th December. Game adjourned and then completed Tuesday 20th December 1938. 19 Horowitz missed a win in a long Rook and Pawn ending.

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Kashdan blundered with 79...Rc1? instead of 79...Ra8 and now Horowitz could have played 80. a7! winning.

Game 9 - Manhattan Chess Club, New York, 24th December. 20 This was game Kashdan should have won, but he misplayed an advantageous Rook and Pawn ending and lost his advantage. White (Kashdan - e.d.) did not make the most of his opportunities in the middle game and the ending. 21

Game 10 - Marshall Chess Club, New York, 31st December. 22 In the final game, Horowitz played an exchange variation of the Queen's Gambit. Kashdan effectively equalised and Horowitz was left with an isolated Queen's Pawn but little initiative to accompany it. Kashdan won a Pawn but Horowitz played accurately to hold the draw.


According to Chess Review which was edited by Horowitz: Looking back at the match, it appears as though the final result is just about right. The two contestants were so evenly matched that the slightest bit of luck would have tipped the scales one way or the other ... There will be no further play off and the title of Champion of the American Chess Federation for 1938 will be shared jointly by both players. 23


2 The World's Greatest Chess Games, by Reuben Fine, p. 174.
3. But this was not so. According to the British Chess Magazine, p. 509, November 1938: "... since there have been all sorts of rumours as to a world championship match resulting from this tourney we have been permitted by Dr. Alekhine to publish the clause in his contract with AVRO dealing with this question. It runs as follows: "Dr. Alekhine declares himself ready to play a match for the world championship against the first prize winner of the tournament upon conditions and at a time to be arranged later. However, Dr. Alekhine reserves the right to play first against other chess masters for the title.""
4. Chess Review, p. 293, December 1938.
5. Chess Review, p. 259, November 1938.
6. Chess Review, p. 293, December 1938.
7. New York Times, p. 92, Sunday 16th October 1938.
8. Chess Review, p. 256, November 1938.
9. Chess Review, p. 257, November 1938.
10. New York Times, p. 21, Monday 17th October 1938.
11. New York Times, p. 30, Friday 21st October 1938.
12. Chess Review, p. 256, November 1938.
13. Chess Review, p. 259, November 1938. Maurice Wertheim was a wealthy American investment banker and president of the Manhattan Chess Club.
14. New York Times, p. 21, Monday 31st October 1938.
15. New York Times, p. 21, Monday 31st October 1938.
16. New York Times, p. 96, Sunday 6th November 1938.
17. New York Times, p. 96, Sunday 6th November 1938.
18. New York Times, p. 35, Friday 16th December 1938.
19. Game adjourned and then completed Tuesday 20th December 1938. New York Times, p. 33, Wednesday 21st December 1938.
20. New York Times, p. 59, Sunday 25th December 1938.
21. Chess Review, p. 19, January 1939.
22. New York Times, p. 33, Monday 2nd January 1939.
23. Chess Review, p. 18, January 1939.

Original collection based on the work of User: Phony Benoni, text by User: Chessical. Thanks to: User: offramp, User: zanzibar and User: OhioChessFan for their improvements to the original text.

 page 1 of 1; 10 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Kashdan vs I A Horowitz  0-1321938Horowitz - Kashdan PlayoffC86 Ruy Lopez, Worrall Attack
2. I A Horowitz vs Kashdan  0-1701938Horowitz - Kashdan PlayoffD15 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
3. Kashdan vs I A Horowitz 0-1511938Horowitz - Kashdan PlayoffD63 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
4. I A Horowitz vs Kashdan  ½-½551938Horowitz - Kashdan PlayoffC84 Ruy Lopez, Closed
5. Kashdan vs I A Horowitz ½-½431938Horowitz - Kashdan PlayoffA29 English, Four Knights, Kingside Fianchetto
6. I A Horowitz vs Kashdan  ½-½451938Horowitz - Kashdan PlayoffA28 English
7. Kashdan vs I A Horowitz  1-0331938Horowitz - Kashdan PlayoffD63 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
8. I A Horowitz vs Kashdan ½-½831938Horowitz - Kashdan PlayoffE60 King's Indian Defense
9. Kashdan vs I A Horowitz  ½-½601938Horowitz - Kashdan PlayoffC86 Ruy Lopez, Worrall Attack
10. I A Horowitz vs Kashdan  ½-½581938Horowitz - Kashdan PlayoffD63 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: It's a wonderful introduction User: Chessical . And I can say that because my input was only two or three words. It's the smaller, non glamorous events that are most in need of coverage and are hardest to research. Well done!

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