Akiba Rubinstein and the Frankenstein-Dracula Variation
17.10.2007 – The Polish master (1882–1961) was one of the greatest players never to become world champion, or even get a chance to try. In our Thursday night Playchess lecture Dennis Monokroussos shows us a game which teaches us a lot about the so-called Frankenstein-Dracula Variation and about an endgame played in superb Rubinstein style. Nine p.m. ET.
Dennis Monokroussos writes:
Akiba (or Akiva) Rubinstein was one of the greatest players never to become world champion, and possibly the greatest player never given the opportunity to contest for the title. In the years from around 1909 to 1912, he was probably the strongest player in the world, capable of winning every tournament and defeating all rivals – and he just about did. He was a brilliant openings innovator who won beautiful games of every sort, but he's probably best remembered today for his exquisite endgame technique. Accurate, artistic and patient, his endgames offer a model for aspiring players to learn from even today.
One of the great masters: Akiba Rubinstein
As you may have surmised, we'll look at one such ending in this week's show, from his game with Stefano Rosselli del Turco from the Baden-Baden tournament of 1925. Rosselli, with White, started the game on a threatening note with 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bc4 Nxe4 4.Qh5, seemingly inviting the so-called Frankenstein-Dracula Variation with 4...Nd6 5.Bb3 Nc6 6.Nb5 g6 7.Qf3 f5 8.Qd5 Qe7 9.Nxc7+ Kd8 10.Nxa8 b6. It's a very exciting line, with Black enjoying a lead in development and central space in return for the exchange and a pawn. Alas, it turned out that Rosselli was bluffing, and instead of 5.Bb3 he played the insipid 5.Qxe5+, perhaps thinking that after 5...Qe7 6.Qxe7+ Bxe7 he'd achieve a quick and painless draw with his great opponent.
If so, he was badly mistaken. Though material was even, the board was queenless and the pawn structure was symmetrical, Rubinstein proved that there was plenty of play left in the position. It took him a long time to win, but as we investigate the game, we'll see that it wasn't a dry effort at all. Better still, we can use Rubinstein's ideas in our own games – especially against draw-eager opponents. Maybe the position after move six would be easily drawn in a world championship competition, but for mortals like us – and Rosselli – holding the game against a Rubinstein is not automatic.
I think you'll enjoy the game, learn a lot about the ending, and be entertained by our brief foray into Frankenstein-Dracula theory, too. So tune in this Thursday night at 9 p.m. ET - hope to see you then!