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Euwe - Bogoljubov
Compiled by Chessical


Efim Bogoljubov (51) challenged Max Euwe (39) who won.

This match was played in July - August 1941, at Karlsbad (Karlovy Vary) a spa town in western Bohemia with a rich history of international chess tournaments. This was a contest between Alexander Alekhine 's two previous challengers for the world chess championship – Efim Bogoljubov , the man who had been twice defeated (Alekhine - Bogoljubov World Championship Match (1929) and Alekhine - Bogoljubov World Championship Rematch (1934) ) against Max Euwe who had briefly snatched the world champion then lost it again to Alekhine (Alekhine - Euwe World Championship Match (1935) and Euwe - Alekhine World Championship Rematch (1937) ).

News of the match appeared in the Dutch press in June 1941:

"Amsterdam, Monday. As we know, there is serious talk of a match between Dr. Max Euwe and Bogoljubov . A match of 12 games (sic) will be played in mid July to early August at Karlsbad. The last time that Dr. Euwe in a match against Bogoljubov played was in 1929. Our compatriot lost when 5½ to 4½." 1

Where the funds to stage the match came from is unclear. It may have come from the Nazi propaganda coffers as Bogoljubov certainly was not rich. Aside from chess (for which there was little remuneration in wartime) his main income came from a bed and breakfast business. 2

Euwe had contested two previous matches against Bogoljubov, losing both: Bogoljubov - Euwe: First FIDE Championship (1928) and Bogoljubov - Euwe: Second FIDE Championship (1928)

Playing a match in Nazi occupied Europe was a contentious decision. The match would take place in the "Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia". Established by the Reich's annexation of Czechoslovakia on 16th March 1939, it was a Nazi police state.

The opportunity to expunge the memory of the two previous defeats, however, seems to have overcame any ethical doubts Euwe may have experienced.

"Of course this caused problems in Holland. Not everyone agreed that I should go and play in Czechoslovakia. This was occupied territory, but many people forget that Holland was also occupied territory. You could have said that I should not have played in Holland either, since the Germans were also occupying Holland. I thought that this was taking things a bit far. Besides, I had a bone to pick with Bogoljubov. I got several more invitations in those days, but I only accepted this one for personal reasons to do with Bogoljubov. And I also wanted to see with my own eyes how things stood in Karlsbad." 3

After this match, however, Euwe avoided playing in any further events in Nazi occupied Europe, although he kept playing in local Dutch tournaments. For instance, he did not play in Munich (1941) - "Europaturnier" - (8-21 September, 1941) citing "occupational obligations" 4 despite the participation of both the world champion Alexander Alekhine and Bogoljubov.

Nor did he participate in: Salzburg (1942), Munich (1942) or Salzburg (1943)

The cause of the "occupational obligations" appears to be that he moved into business:

"A few days ago we published in our magazine a report on the resignation of our national chess champion Dr. Euwe from the Municipal Girls' Lyceum in Amsterdam. We understood this resignation to be in connection with the wish of Dr. Euwe to move to professionalism. Now we hear from well-informed source that Dr. Euwe was on July 1st this year, appointed director of a major food company in the capital..." 5

His next match against a grandmaster opponent would not be for another eight years - Euwe - Pirc (1949)


"Euwe is an extremely impetuous, active player...He exploits mistakes excellently ...In general he is a very good tactician. He knows the openings very well." 6

Euwe had played a match against Paul Keres (December 24th, 1939 to January 15th, 1940), which he had lost 6½-7½ (+5 =3 -6), and then won Game Collection: Budapest 1940 ("Maroczy Jubilaeum"). At that point, the deprecations and confusion of the war in Europe effectively ended top level chess for a year.

He prepared for the forthcoming contest with a training match in May 1941 with Haije Kramer which he won convincingly (+6=2-0). 7 .


"(Bogoljubov's) play was sound and his style primarily positional. In addition, he had a tactical talent which came into its own especially when the opponent had been outplayed strategically. His weak point lay in his optimism and lack of objectivity". 8

Bogoljubov had renounced his Soviet citizenship in 1927 and became a naturalised German of the Weimar republic. Although, he had been a world championship contender - playing two World Championship matches against Alekhine, Alekhine - Bogoljubov World Championship Match (1929) and Alekhine - Bogoljubov World Championship Rematch (1934), since 1936 Bogoljubov had been playing with generally mediocre results in top-class international tournaments. He had been only 10th out of 15th at Nottingham (1936), 3rd of 4 in the Bad Nauheim-Stuttgart-Garmisch (1937), and 5th of 10 at Noordwijk (1938). Whilst there was some successes, such as winning the strong Stuttgart tournament (May 1939), this appears to have been a period of on-going and ineluctable fall away from the chess elite. 9


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Bogoljubov 0 ½ 1 0 0 0 ½ ½ 0 1 - 3½ Euwe 1 ½ 0 1 1 1 ½ ½ 1 0 - 6½

Progressive score:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Bogoljubov 0 ½ 1½ 1½ 1½ 1½ 2 2½ 2½ 3½ Euwe 1 1½ 1½ 2½ 3½ 4½ 5 5½ 6½ 6½



The match was confirmed to the public on 17th July 1941 10 and began on 20th July 1941. 11. Euwe left for Czechoslovakia on 15th July. 12

The match was originally scheduled to last for three weeks 13 This is a reconstruction of the dates for the games in the match based on newspaper reports.

1st game - Sunday, 20th July, 1941
2nd game - Monday, 21st July, 1941
3rd game - Tuesday, 22nd July, 1941
4th game - Thursday, 24th July, 1941
5th game - Sunday, 27th July, 1941
6th game - Monday, 28th July, 1941
7th game - Wednesday, 30th July, 1941
8th game - Thursday, 31st July, 1941
9th game - Friday, 1st August, 1941
10th game - Saturday, 2nd August, 1941

The games

Bogoljubov often tired towards the end of the playing session and then the quality of his play declined.

Euwe was tactically sharp and usually took full advantage of his opponent's blunders.

Game 1

Bogoljubov with White played a variation new to his repertoire - Caro-Kann, Two Knights, 3...Bg4 (B11). He played aggressively, castling on the Q-side and advancing his <g> pawn. Euwe remained calm and avoided early castling into an attack. Bogoljubov's weakened K-side became a source of problems and he lost a pawn. "The game was adjourned after the 41st move." 14

Despite the presence of opposite coloured Bishops, Euwe made progress aided by errors by Bogoljubov in the long endgame. By winning a second pawn Euwe assured himself of victory.

Game 2 15

The players followed latest master practise following J Podgorny vs K Treybal, 1940. Bogoljubov equalised as Black, but towards the time control began to play imprecisely. Euwe had a chance to exchange Queens on move 38 with a very advantageous ending, but chose another path and the game was drawn.

Game 3

Being a point down, and having the worst of the first two games, the renowned optimist Bogoljubov came back fighting and defeated his opponent in shortest game of this match. 16

Bogoljubov chose a highly tactical, but probably dubious, side line of Two Knights (C58) . Euwe sacrificed the exchange for counterplay and was on his way to equality when on move 15 he lost his way in the complications.

click for larger view

The sharp <15...Nxg2> as played by Euwe loses, <15...Ne2> was later found to be necessary.

Game 4

"On the 27th move our national champion played an instructive pawn sacrifice, putting the black King's position significantly at risk (although) the White Queen-side seemed doomed. Dr Euwe, however, found on the 36th move a beautiful Knight-sacrifice, that should have ended the game as a draw, if not shortage of time had induced Bogoljubov to decline the sacrifice. Repeatedly threatened by mate the German master, had to resign on move 39." 17

Bogoljubov blundered away a draw as Black, Euwe had weaved some tactical threats around his King and Bogoljubov missed a key threat just short of the time control

click for larger view

with <36...Re3?> which lost immediately to <37.Rh4>.

Game 5 18

Euwe's defended with his favourite Spanish Open defence. Bogoljubov allowed Euwe to build up an attack on the K-side, and Euwe smashed through to Bogoljubov's King with an excellent combination. Bogoljubov's King fled from <g1> to <a4> but there it perished.

click for larger view

6th Game 19

Euwe played an Exchange QDG and castled on the Q-side. Euwe played aggressively from the opening and broke up Bogoljubov's King's pawn shield. In a very sharp position, Bogoljubov defended successfully right up to the time control. Probably tired through the intensity of the struggle, the elder grandmaster then made a losing blunder by overlooking an ingenious sacrifice of pawn by Euwe. This pawn Queened with check giving its life to allow Euwe's Rook into the attack on the opposing King which now had no safe shelter.

Game 7 20

"In the next game, the opening (Italian Game) Bogoljubov demonstrated an admirable novelty by which he assured himself of a superior end game. Dr. Euwe's defence, however, in the rook endgame was so masterful that the game ended in a draw after the 34th move..."" 21

Game 8 22

Bogoljubov's attempt to get out of the books with an irregular defence simply led to an inferior position. Euwe being 2½ points ahead in the match had the luxury of being able to offer a draw when a pawn to the good in probably won position

"In the eighth game in chess match between our champion Dr. Max Euwe and the German champion Bogoljubov, our countryman opened with <d4> and then Bogoljubov move replied with the uncommon <Nc6>. On his tenth move, our countryman advanced his <e> pawn to <e6>, which put his opponent under pressure. White retained the better game, but, even so, he made an offer of a draw on the 26th move to which naturally Bogoljubov immediately agreed. The score after the eighth game is today. Dr. Euwe 5½ point compared Bogoljubov 2½ pts." 23

Game 9 24

"Dr.Euwe wins again against Bogoljubov - The ninth game in the chess match between Dr. Euwe and Bogoljubov was a Queen's Gambit opening by Bogoljubov. It seemed at first as if Bogoljubov had an advantage, but despite this our compatriot who, because of a series of well - thought out and interesting defensive moves, succeeded after the 33rd move to seize the initiative and the attack. Bogoljubov saw the imminent danger late and gradually lost in a hopeless position, as Dr. Euwe succeeded in penetrating (Bogoljubov's position) with his Queen and a Bishop. After a meticulously executed attack, our compatriot finally won after 49 moves. The position after the latest game is Dr. Euwe has 6 points against Bogoljubov's 2 points." 25

Euwe won Bogoljubov's Queen:

click for larger view

after the spectacular <49....Rh3!!>

Game 10 26

Bogoljubov rallied and won the last game of the match. This was probably his best game of the series. Euwe played a careless 17th move as White. This lost a Rook and a pawn for two minor pieces in a position where they dominated the Rook. Despite Euwe's determined efforts, Bogolubov forced through his <b> pawn to Queen and so won the game.

In celebration

"He who writes prose builds his temple to Fame in rubble; he who writes verses builds it in granite." 27

The match inspired a poem:

<"Again four little horses Without little tails
Two ladies without flesh,
Many times
In Karlsbad, so I read

Again (pieces are) being taken
All day.
And there is a large audience,
That wants to think along.
It is full of hints
And chequered board comments

They sit quietly,
Playing chess eagerly
And puzzle very happily
On many squares,
These heroes.
The chess world follows it all with interest".>


1 "Het Volk", of the 30th June, 1941.
2 "Bogoljubov, the fate of a chess player", Solovoiv, p.30.

3 Max Euwe: The Biography", Alexandr Munninghoff, p.241.


5 "Dagblad Nieuwe Hoornsche Courant" of the 2nd August, 1941.

6 Botvinnik quoted in "My Great Predecessors. Part 2". Kasparov, p.110.

7 Max Euwe: The Biography", Alexandr Munninghoff, p.241.

8 Euwe in his book the "The Development of the Chess Style" (1968) quoted in "The Oxford companion to chess", David Hooper, Kenneth Whyld, p.50.

9 (

10 "Leeuwarder Nieuwsblad" of the 17th July, 1941.

11 "Leidsch Dagblad" of the 21st July, 1941.

12 "De Tijd" of the 15th July, 1941.

13 "Leeuwarder Nieuwsblad" of the 17th July, 1941.

14 "Leidsch Dagblad" of the 21st July, 1941.

15 "Het Volk" of the 23rd July, 1941.

16 "De Amersfoortsche Courant" of 23rd July, 1941 states that the game did not continue on into 23rd July, 1941.

17 The fourth game is reported in the "Rotterdamsch Nieuwsblad" of 25th July, 1941. The article states that the game was "yesterday" (24th July).

18 The fifth game is by-lined "Karlovy Vary, July 27 (Reuters)" in a report in "De Standaard of 28th July, 1941

19 The sixth game featured in an article in the "Nieuwsblad van het Zuiden" by-lined "Karlsbad, July 28 (ANP)" See also the "Rotterdamsch Nieuwsblad" edition of 29th July, 1941.

20 The seventh game is by-lined "Karlovy Vary, 28 July. (Reuters)" in "De courant Het nieuws van den dag" of 30th July, 1941. 30-07-1941. The seventh game is also reported on in "De Standaard" of the 29th July, 1941 which has a Dutch news agency (ANP - Algemeen Nederlands Persbureau) dispatch headed: "CHESS Euwe - Bogoljubov 5-2. The seventh game is drawn. Karlovy Vary, 28th July."

21 "De Residentiebode" of the 29th July, 1941.

22 Report in several newspapers of an ANP report which indicates that the eight game took place on the on the 31st July.

23 "Provinciale Overijsselsche en Zwolsche Courant" of the 1st August 1941.

24 "Oprechte Haarlemsche Courant" 1st August, 1941 quotes an ANP report dated 1st August, and the "Nieuwsblad van het Noorden", 1st August, 1941 also reports the game.

25 "De Tijd" of the 2nd August, 1941.

26 "Deutsche Zeitung in den Niederlanden" 5th August, 1941, reports the last game occurring as "Last Saturday". There is also a report in the "Haagsche Courant" and "Noordbrabantsch Dagblad het Huisgezin" editions of 4th August, 1941. 27 "Caxtoniana", Volume 2", Edward Bulwer-Lytton, p.310.

28 Translation provided by User: Stonehenge of a poem by "JEMO" in the "Oprechte Haarlemsche Courant" of 25th July, 1941. Two minor amendments to the English text have been made.

"Euwe - Bogoljubov.

Weer zijn view paardjes
Zonder staartjes,
Twee dames zonder vleesch,
Aan't manoeuvreeren
Vele keeren
In Karlsbad, naar ik lees

Weer wordt geslagen
Alle dagen.
En er is veel publiek,
Dat mee wil denken.
't Zit vol wenken
En ruitenbordcritiek.

Ze zitten rustig,
Schaken lustig
En puzz'len heel tevree
Op vele velden,
Deze helden.
De schaakwereld leeft mee!"

Game 1.
Bogoljubov vs Euwe, 1941 
(B11) Caro-Kann, Two Knights, 3...Bg4, 81 moves, 0-1

Game 2.
Euwe vs Bogoljubov, 1941 
(D51) Queen's Gambit Declined, 46 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 3.
Bogoljubov vs Euwe, 1941 
(C58) Two Knights, 23 moves, 1-0

Game 4.
Euwe vs Bogoljubov, 1941 
(C85) Ruy Lopez, Exchange Variation Doubly Deferred (DERLD), 39 moves, 1-0

Game 5.
Bogoljubov vs Euwe, 1941 
(C82) Ruy Lopez, Open, 35 moves, 0-1

Game 6.
Euwe vs Bogoljubov, 1941 
(D51) Queen's Gambit Declined, 56 moves, 1-0

Game 7.
Bogoljubov vs Euwe, 1941
(C54) Giuoco Piano, 34 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 8.
Euwe vs Bogoljubov, 1941 
(A40) Queen's Pawn Game, 26 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 9.
Bogoljubov vs Euwe, 1941 
(D12) Queen's Gambit Declined Slav, 49 moves, 0-1

Game 10.
Euwe vs Bogoljubov, 1941 
(C87) Ruy Lopez, 50 moves, 0-1

10 games

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