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Savielly Tartakower vs Akiba Rubinstein
Liege (1930), Liege BEL, rd 9, Aug-28
Van't Kruijs Opening: General (A00)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
Jan-24-07  LaSmitedCrab: This was a...slightly uneventful game...
Apr-01-11  suenteus po 147: <LaSmitedCrab> Quite the contrary!

From Tartakower's book of the tournament: "My ninth round game against Rubinstein was a crucial moment in the tournament for me. I was half a point behind the great Khan in the standings and Rubinstein, though not playing his very best at this event, was still a dangerous enough opponent that I had to come up with something ingenious if I wanted to keep pace with my Eastern adversary. Lasker, the great tactician of the psyche had found himself frustrated and incensed by Rubinstein's brilliance. I once saw the good doctor throw a chair out a second story window over a particularly bitter middlegame. My good friend Jose, ever the endgame specialist, found himself crushed more than once under the weight of Akiba's rooks. And Dr. Alekhine had refused to consider a match with poor, greying Rubinstein on simple principle that he never trusted an opponent who wouldn't imbibe. I rather suspect Alekhine's next title defense will be against the man who can drink Bogoljubov under the table, if anyone can.

Anyway, what was I to do against a man who had frustrated and intimidated three of the four world champions in all history? A man who should have been world champion himself if not for an unfortunate persistence in inconvenience arranging a proper match? It was clear that I could not win on the psychological field of battle, for Lasker had proven it unsound, violently so. Nor could I dare enter into a rook endgame with Rubinstein less I join my good friend, the former world champion, on the roster of "pupils" schooled by the master's instruction in winning drawn endgames. And though Dr. Alekhine boasts as he will on the character of his opponents, my learned readers know that Rubinstein's own study of systems and combinations rivaled the world champion's, if not exceeded it. In short, gentlemen, there was no way to trick him, no way to finish him, and no way to trap him (in the opening, as it were). It was quite the conundrum, and I had no solutions until the early morning of my match." ...

Apr-01-11  suenteus po 147: (continued)

"The hotels in Belgium are some of the finest in the world I have had the privilege to enjoy. At our particular domicile, overlooking the river, we had servants bring us breakfast in the morning, if requested, with a dining hall for those more accustomed to a newspaper and conversation while they ate. I had been analyzing chess periodicals all night, and so had my breakfast brought in to my room the day of my match with Rubinstein. My waiter, a tall, balding French-looking man, set my tray down expertly and silently at the foot of my bed, where I sat dressed, playing over a position from my most recent game with Rubinstein. Next to me were several papers with notes and scribbles, the hasty marks of a confounded and desperate player. My waiter lingered, and before I could reach my billfold, he inquired about the papers next to the chess board.

"These are my notes," I explained in French. "If I were to publish them next week I would receive ten francs for them. But today they would better serve me in that fireplace than against Rubinstein. Bah!" With that utterance, I tossed them in the direction of said hearth and frowned at the board before me. I had guessed correctly, and my waiter answered me in French: "I play a little. Perhaps I could offer some assistance." Oh how Dr. Alekhine (or even my beloved Jose) would have bristled at that! But you see, my dear friends, I really was desperate. Besides, I had learned a thing or two from orangutans in the zoo, surely my waiter could provide even superior input. I set up the board, taking the black pieces to simulate Rubinstein's crushing play against my doppleganger who I could only hope knew that the king could castle to either wing. Low and behold, he stunned me with his first move, his king's pawn to K3! "Why did you play that?" I inquired. "I'm not very good," my waiter, who later told me his name was Pierre, confessed with true shame. He surmised I was a master, perhaps even a famous one, and he was humble enough to express apology for taking my time. "I must see what you will do before I can commit anything." "Suppose," I rejoined, "I attack your timid play?" "Then I would know your plans, mssr." And then he smiled. Ingenious! Next, as our game developed, he took advantage of my piece placement, all natural squares of development, to suggest exchanges with his own pieces. When I declined, he gladly exchanged. When I exchanged, he refortified until another exchange became imminent. Before I knew it, we were down to solid pawn structures and a bishop each of the opposite color. "Am I lost?" he asked. His deferment was quite flattering. "Not at all," I answered. "Perhaps with time and motivation I could force an error, but as things stand we are even." "Then I win," Pierre said with some pride. "My only goal was not to lose." With a bow he thanked me for the game and added that he hoped I would defeat my opponent. You will be shocked, gentlemen, to learn I did defeat Rubinstein, in the novel way I was just shown!" ...

Apr-01-11  suenteus po 147: (concluded)

"I ate quickly and then freshened up before descending downstairs to rub elbows with my fellow competitors. Everyone was in a dreary mood that day, with the exception of Nimzowitsch who merely looked cross when in fact he was thinking about an opening system he developed ten years ago. I know the preoccupation with such things during my breakfast would make me cross-looking. He asked my thoughts about "defending" against Rubinstein this morning. I replied by asking how negotiations with Alekhine for their title match was fairing after San Remo. Aron gave me a look like he had found a discrepancy in his queen's knight's pawn opening and excused himself to more hospitable conversation. In truth, I had planned to pump Aron for information. If anyone could appreciate how I planned to open against Rubinstein it would be him. Nevertheless the round soon started and I was committed to my course of action. Now the cultured player will quickly dismiss my opening moves as amateur stuff at best, and I cannot fault a cultured player his opinion. As a working player myself, however, I can tell you that what separates an amateur from a master is learning to balance experience with inspiration. One can play chess for fifty years and always be an amateur, and this is because he has not learned to modify what his experience teaches him with inspiration at the board. He plays his queen's rook pawn to R3 to start the game and summarily loses and then discounts it as a "rubbish" opening. Alas, how absolute the teacher of experience is to the amateur! For the master, he takes his dreadful loss with said opening and learns when it is properly executed and under what circumstances. I took my little game with Pierre earlier in my room and saw in it a chance to confound Rubinstein in all the ways he achieved his greatest successes. His study of opening systems demanded an opening that could hardly be categorized as systematic! His prowess at middlegame tactics and the psychological advantage they afforded required a decimation of all tools that achieved this end, by this I mean his and my pieces both! His unparalleled expertise in rook endings (the most common of all finishes in chess) demanded I steer our game to another kind of endgame, more suited to me than him. In of themselves, they accomplished nothing, and even combined the result was not definite, but the purpose was clear: take Rubinstein away from everything he did well. The rest, as they say, is technique. Shall we analyze the game? ... As you can see by the end, Rubinstein was satisfied to call it a draw. No real danger, but then I never played to win! My victory was in maintaining my pace with Sultan Khan, and as it was, I managed to close the gap with my half point against my toughest rival while he dropped the lead with his loss against a lesser (but inspired, like myself!) player. Pierre was pleased with my victory (and the glass of wine I brought him as he smoked a cigarette out behind the kitchen). He told me he had never drawn a master before. I explained that I had done all the hard work when he reminded me of our game in my room. I thought that deserved another glass of wine, but he declined as there was still an evening's work ahead. The least I could do was offer him a few lessons, and so I resolved to have breakfast, supper, and dinner in my room for the last three days of the tournament."

Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: I'm with <LSC>
Jan-09-20  iron john: 26..f4 looks good .
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <iron john>
26...f4 but what if White replies 27. Nb2 followed by 28. Nd3? The pawn ending looks won for White, so Black will have to reply 26...f4 27. Nb2 g5 28. Nd3 and Black will have to retreat the knight. White looks better to me.
Jan-14-20  iron john: changing knights then c5 and king in center.not clear to me .
Jan-14-20  JimNorCal: Great story, s po!
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