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Eliskases - Fairhurst Match

Erich Eliskases3/6(+1 -1 =4)[games]
William Albert Fairhurst3/6(+1 -1 =4)[games] Chess Event Description
Eliskases - Fairhurst (1933)


This was a match between Erich Eliskases, a young up-and-coming Austrian master, and William Albert Fairhurst, the Scottish champion, whose primary career was that of a civil engineer. Several months before, Eliskases had defeated the veteran grandmaster Rudolf Spielmann in a match. It seemed that this Glasow match would be in the nature of a one-sided exhibition, but that was not to be the case. The match comprised of six games. It took place in the Glasgow Chess Club and Central Chess Club, Glasgow, Scotland, from 21st October to 7th November. It was nearly scuppered by the over-zealous application of immigration rules which led to Eliskases being turned back when he first landed in England.

"CHESS PLAYER'S SCOTS TRIP OFF - LANDING PERMIT REFUSED BY HOME OFFICE. The Home Office refused to give a landing permit to Eliskases, a well-known Austrian chess player, when he arrived at Folkestone yesterday on his way to Glasgow to take part in a series of exhibition games there. He was sent back on a later boat. Eliskases was one of the players taking part in the world chess tournament at Folkestone a few months ago. He had arranged to prolong his visit for a brief while after the Glasgow exhibition. The action of the Home Office is believed to have been taken on the grounds that there are chess players in this country able to give such exhibitions, and that in view of the labour situation here it was unnecessary for foreign players to come to Britain for such purposes." (1)


Erich Eliskases emerged on the international scene in the early 1930's. He had learned chess at the age of 12 with the support of local master Carl P. Wagner. He then progressed rapidly, until he became Tyrolean champion (1928) and so qualified for the championship of the Austrian Chess Federation in Innsbruck (1929). There he came first equal with Eduard Glass. In 1930, Eliskases played for Austria at the Chess Olympiad in Hamburg (+8 -1 =6). In late 1931 he moved to Vienna, where he studied at the Hochschule für Welthandel (College of World Trade). In October 1932 he defeated Rudolf Spielmann in a match (+3 =5 -2). He then defeated Spielmann in a match in 1936 (+2 =7 -1), and again in 1937 (+2 =8 -0). In January 1933, Eliskases won a chess tournament in Vienna with 10.5 of 13 points ahead of Ernst Gruenfeld.


William Albert Fairhurst was 31 years old and a strong amateur player who dominated Scottish chess in the 1930s. A civil engineer specialising in the construction of bridges, (2) he had limited opportunities for international chess and his only experience had been in Scarborough 1927 (defeating Efim Bogoljubov and Edgar Colle) and at the Folkestone Olympiad that year. Despite this lack of top-level practice, he was the current Scottish Champion (he would be Scottish champion eleven times). In 1937, he became the British Champion. (3)

The two players had first met at the Folkestone Olympiad (W Fairhurst vs E Eliskases, 1933). It appears that Fairhurst invited Eliskases to Glasgow for a match.


Eliskases had to bear the weight of a heavy commitment to lectures (given in English) and simultaneous displays in Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen during the match. Fairhurst as an amateur also had responsibilities, but it seems likely that the more onerous load fell on the Austrian, and that this may have affected his performance. "The well-known young Austrian chess master, E. Eliskases, began last night (17th October - e. d.) a three weeks' engagement with the Glasgow Club. The opening night was devoted to consultation games." (4) "On Tuesday evening (24th October - e. d.), Mr Eliskases played two games against groups of members (of the Glasgow Chess Club - e. d.) in consultation. One game ended in rather a neat draw; the other also looked very drawish, too, but in the end the allies lost .. On Thursday evening (26th October) Eliskases gave another display of "simultaneous" chess, playing against 16 members. He won 14 games, drew 1, and lost 1, in about 2½ hours’ play." (5) At the Bon-Accord Chess Club in Aberdeen (on 28-29th October), "Speaking English extremely well, Eliskases gave an interesting lecture, illustrated from games of his own. Later the master played three consultation games against teams of the club ... Eliskases then played fourteen members of the club simultaneously, including most of the strongest players, winning ten and drawing four. " (6). Back in Glasgow, "This week’s programme includes a lecture on Monday evening, 30th October; simultaneous games on Friday, 3rd November, with consultation chess on Tuesday, 31st October. Mr. Eliskases is playing much "off-hand" chess with members." (5)


1 2 3 4 5 6 Eliskases ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ 3 Fairhurst ½ 1 ½ ½ 0 ½ 3

Progressive score:

1 2 3 4 5 6 Eliskases ½ ½ 1 1½ 2½ 3 Fairhurst ½ 1½ 2 2½ 2½ 3

Eliskases had White in the odd-numbered games.

The games

Game 1. A carefully played and correct opening game, in which Eliskases played cautiously against the Petroff Defence, allowing Fairhurst to quickly equalise. Although Eliskases doubled his opponent's <f> pawn in front of his King, he was not able to make anything of this weakness.

Game 2. Fairhurst scored the first win of the match. Eliskases defended with the solid Slav Defence but Fairhurst achieved some advantage. Eliskases then made a tactical error which Fairhurst proficiently exploited to win the exchange.

click for larger view


Game 3. Eliskases changed to a Queen-side opening but made little headway against Fairhurst's Nimzo-Indian defence. Indeed, his position progressively deteriorated and Fairhurst had chances to enter a very favourable ending:

click for larger view

27...Nd3! instead of 27...e5 as played.

Game 4. One game behind with half the match gone, Eliskases sharpened his play with a King's Indian Defence. Fairhurst overlooked a tactic and it seemed that Eliskases would level the match, but he missed the critical continuation and could only draw. Fairhurst played 31.Re2? only to be rocked back with 31...e3!! (then threatening Be5). After 32.f4 g5!! would have won.

Game 5. In his last game with White, and one point behind in the match, Eliskases changed his opening to the English, but it soon transposed into a Queen's Gambit Declined. Eliskases began to slowly apply pressure and improve his position. Fairhurst voluntarily gave up a rook for a pawn and knight on <e5>, but whatever compensation he had counted for never materialised. Eliskases' rooks broke through on the King-side and he won the game levelling the match score.

Game 6. In the final game, with Fairhurst as White, Eliskases offered his opponent the chance to transpose to the French Defence. Instead, an unadventurous Queen's Indian arose. Material was exchanged and the game was quickly drawn in 25 moves, resulting in a drawn match.

"GLASGOW MATCH DRAWN. The sixth and final game of the match between Eliskases, the young Austrian master, and Fairhurst, the Scottish champion, was played last night in the Glasgow Chess Club. Fairhurst had the move, and opened with his favourite Queen's Pawn. The Austrian defended on somewhat unusual lines, but got a good open game. Twice he offered to exchange queens, but Fairhurst declined. Some fencing for position followed, and a minor piece each was changed off, leaving Fairhurst with queen and knight against queen and bishop, with level pawns. A draw resulted. Scores: - Eliskases, 1; Fairhurst, 1; drawn 4." (7)


Eliskases had a heavy commitment with lectures and simultaneous displays during the match. Fairhurst also had responsibilities, but it seems likely that the more onerous load fell on the Austrian. After completing his itinerary of simultaneous exhibitions, Eliskases' next engagement was Hastings (1933/34). Fairhurst played solidly and provided stiff resistance. The mid-1930's were to be his peak years in which he dominated Scottish chess and also won the British Championship (1937).


(1) Dundee Courier, Tuesday 10th October 1933, p. 6.
(2) Wikipedia article: William Fairhurst.
(3) An appreciation of Fairhurst is given in The Scotsman, 17th December 2005 (
(4) Edinburgh Evening News, Wednesday 18th October 1933, p. 17.
(5) Linlithgowshire Gazette, Friday 3rd November 1933, p. 8.
(6) Aberdeen Press and Journal, Tuesday 31st October 1933, p. 4.
(7) The Scotsman, Wednesday 8th November 1933, p. 18.

This text and original research by User: Chessical. Proof reading and improvements suggested by User: OhioChessFan. Game dates (October 21, 23, 27, November 2, 4, 7) are from Falkirk Herald.

 page 1 of 1; 6 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. E Eliskases vs W Fairhurst ½-½401933Eliskases - FairhurstC42 Petrov Defense
2. W Fairhurst vs E Eliskases 1-0381933Eliskases - FairhurstD10 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
3. E Eliskases vs W Fairhurst ½-½361933Eliskases - FairhurstE38 Nimzo-Indian, Classical, 4...c5
4. W Fairhurst vs E Eliskases ½-½401933Eliskases - FairhurstE60 King's Indian Defense
5. E Eliskases vs W Fairhurst 1-0421933Eliskases - FairhurstD51 Queen's Gambit Declined
6. W Fairhurst vs E Eliskases ½-½251933Eliskases - FairhurstE17 Queen's Indian
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
Apr-17-18  Alan McGowan: A report on the visit to Scotland by Eliskases can also be seen at
Dec-01-19  spingo: I would have thought Eliskases was hot favourite to win this match, but the intro makes clear that many off the board factors were involved.

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