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Hermanis Karlovich Mattison
Number of games in database: 103
Years covered: 1915 to 1932
Overall record: +44 -27 =32 (58.3%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games.

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E11 Bogo-Indian Defense (9 games)
B13 Caro-Kann, Exchange (6 games)
C48 Four Knights (4 games)
C14 French, Classical (4 games)
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E21 Nimzo-Indian, Three Knights (3 games)
D30 Queen's Gambit Declined (3 games)
C70 Ruy Lopez (3 games)
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(born Dec-28-1894, died Nov-16-1932, 37 years old) Latvia

[what is this?]

Born Hermanis Matisons in Riga, Latvia. He attended the prestigious Riga State Gymnasium No.1, where he became school chess champion in 1911.1 In the same year he composed the first of what was to be many chess problems and endgame studies.1 Matisons would become renowned as a superb chess problemist, but he also showed precocious ability over the board, beating Jose Raul Capablanca at a simultaneous exhibition in Riga 1913.2 During World War I Matisons served in active combat duty on the Riga line, where he was seriously injured in 1917. He convalesced for six months in a Petrograd hospital, then worked as a manual laborer in Moscow until 1921.1

On his return home to Riga, Matisons immersed himself in chess activities. He composed chess problems, wrote chess articles, and played in many local tournaments- especially blitz tournaments, which were very popular at the time. He joined the Riga Chess Club and won their second club championship in 1923.1 In 1924 Matisons earned the first Latvian master title by winning the inaugural Latvian championship, scoring +10-0=3 ahead of both Fricis Apsenieks and Karl Behting. 3 He had proven himself to be the strongest chess player in Latvia, particularly since fellow Latvian Aron Nimzowitsch had emigrated to Denmark in 1922.4 Nimzowitsch embarked on an international career which peaked with his victory at Karlsbad (1929), ahead of Capablanca, Rudolf Spielmann, Akiba Rubinstein, Max Euwe, and Efim Bogoljubov. He also beat Matisons in their individual encounter at that tournament: H K Mattison vs Nimzowitsch, 1929.

On the strength of his victory at the first Latvian championship, Matisons was invited to the international chess tournament associated with the 1924 Paris Olympic games. He finished 1st, ahead of Apsenieks, Edgar Colle, Arpad Vajda, and Euwe, scoring +4-0=3.5 At the Bromley 1925 final, Matisons finished 1st, ahead of Karel Skalicka, Apsenieks, and Karel Hromadka with +2-0=1.6 Matisons posted his first weak international result at Debrecen (1925), where he could only manage a share of last place with Lajos Asztalos, behind winner Hans Kmoch, Savielly Tartakower, Paul F Johner, Ernst Gruenfeld and others.1 In February 1926 Matisons participated in an unusual "incognito" event, a match between veterans of the Riga chess club and students of the Riga University sports club. During the course of each game, neither player knew the identity of his opponent. When the blindfolds were lifted, Matisons discovered that he had conceded a draw to a teenage Vladimirs Petrovs: H K Mattison vs Vladimir Petrov, 1926. Petrovs would go on to become an international grandmaster, a worthy successor to Hermanis Matisons.7

In play Mattison excelled at the endgame and at the Prague Olympiad in 1931 he defeated both Alexander Alekhine and Akiba Rubinstein in the ending. He also composed over 60 excellent studies.
He died of tuberculosis in Riga in 1932.

1 Wikipedia article: Hermanis Matisons


3 [ Wikipedia article: 1924. gada Latvijas %C4%8Dempion%C4%81ts %C5%A1ah%C4%81

4 Wikipedia article: Aron Nimzowitsch


6 Gino Di Felice, "Chess Results 1921-1930" (McFarland 2006), pp. 105-106

7 "Rigas Zinasz" February 25, 1926 p. 4


English Wikipedia article: Hermanis Matisons

Last updated: 2019-12-07 16:46:55

 page 1 of 5; games 1-25 of 103  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Svenson vs H K Mattison  ½-½541915Riga Chess ClubC54 Giuoco Piano
2. F Apsenieks vs H K Mattison  0-16019241st Latvian congressE11 Bogo-Indian Defense
3. M Golmayo De La Torriente vs H K Mattison  0-1311924Paris Unofficial OlympiadB03 Alekhine's Defense
4. H K Mattison vs E M Holloway  1-0591924Paris Unofficial OlympiadC49 Four Knights
5. H K Mattison vs L Palau  1-0391924Paris Unofficial OlympiadC14 French, Classical
6. F Jonet vs H K Mattison  0-1361924Paris Unofficial OlympiadE11 Bogo-Indian Defense
7. D Reca vs H K Mattison ½-½691924Paris Unofficial OlympiadE11 Bogo-Indian Defense
8. Colle vs H K Mattison  ½-½451924Paris Unofficial OlympiadD90 Grunfeld
9. H K Mattison vs K Havasi  1-0351924Paris Unofficial OlympiadD13 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav, Exchange Variation
10. H K Mattison vs K Sterk  ½-½171924Paris Unofficial OlympiadB15 Caro-Kann
11. Hromadka vs H K Mattison  0-1601924Paris Unofficial OlympiadC29 Vienna Gambit
12. F Apsenieks vs H K Mattison  ½-½351924Paris Unofficial OlympiadC48 Four Knights
13. H K Mattison vs A Vajda  ½-½461924Paris Unofficial OlympiadC68 Ruy Lopez, Exchange
14. H K Mattison vs Euwe 0-1501924Paris Unofficial OlympiadD10 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
15. K Havasi vs H K Mattison  1-0401925DebrecenA50 Queen's Pawn Game
16. H K Mattison vs J A Seitz  1-0561925DebrecenB28 Sicilian, O'Kelly Variation
17. L Steiner vs H K Mattison  0-1381925DebrecenC42 Petrov Defense
18. Gruenfeld vs H K Mattison  1-0471925DebrecenA53 Old Indian
19. H K Mattison vs Przepiorka  1-0701925DebrecenC46 Three Knights
20. Prokes vs H K Mattison  1-0641925DebrecenB10 Caro-Kann
21. L Asztalos vs H K Mattison  ½-½191925DebrecenD14 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav, Exchange Variation
22. H K Mattison vs G Nagy 0-1231925DebrecenC15 French, Winawer
23. H K Mattison vs V Vukovic 0-1201925DebrecenC13 French
24. Kmoch vs H K Mattison 1-0621925DebrecenD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
25. P F Johner vs H K Mattison 0-1351925DebrecenE11 Bogo-Indian Defense
 page 1 of 5; games 1-25 of 103  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Mattison wins | Mattison loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Dec-29-09  capanegra: SOLUTION: It starts with a Knight crusade: 1.Nf4+ (1.Be4? Ke5) Ke4 (the ♔ must permanently guard the e4 square) 2.Ng6+ Kd5 3.Ne7+ Ke5 4.Nc6+ Kd5 5.Nxb4+ (first phase which is to eliminate the b4 ♙ is completed) Ke5 6.Nc6+ Kd5 7.Ne7+ Ke5 8.Ng6+ Kd5 9.Ba6! Kc6 10.Be2! h1=Q 11.Bf3+ Qxf3 12.Ne5+ Kd5 13.Nxf3 Ke4 14.Kd2 Kxf3 15.Kd3 and wins.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <sanyas: He lost two brilliancies in the same tournament! Very lucky... or not.>

Try saying Mattison without saying Mmmm...

Feb-11-10  capanegra: Another beautiful study by Mattison, from "Latvia Sport" 1924.

I like this especially because at first glance looks like White is totally lost. The solution is rather straight forward, though of course there is a key move.

White to play and draw.

click for larger view

Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: A biography, games and studies can be found at:

Dec-28-12  Kikoman: Rest In Peace Sir Hermanis Karlovich Mattison.
Dec-28-12  gars: To win endgames from Alekhine and Rubinstein is far from trivial! Mattison earns our praise with flying colours!
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: I have tried saying Mattisons without saying Mmmm but I have so far been unsuccessful.
Sep-23-14  Amarande: Another victim of 1932 ... Terrible, terrible year for chess genius.
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Was it? You need to give us some more.
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: such as Daniel Noteboom and Edgar Colle
Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: <capanegra> never provided the solution to that endgame problem. I looked at it for a little bit and didn't figure it out. Laziness, had I probed one more move or one more minute... ;)

So, I asked Stockfish.

click for larger view

1.Kd5 Kd7 2.a4 a5 3.Kc4 Kc6 4.Nc7!! (I missed this) Kxc7 5.Kb5 Bb6 6.Ka6 and black has to chose between letting the a-pawn go or stalemating white with 6...Kc6. What a beauty.

Jan-01-16  john barleycorn: One of Mattison's finest.

white to move. draw

click for larger view

the idea to draw for white is not obvious at all

Dec-28-16  TheFocus: Happy birthday, Hermanis Mattison.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: The game Mattison (or Mattisons) won a few days before his 19th birthday against Capablanca in a simultaneous display at Riga in 1913 is not here.

Hooper & Brandreth confirm Capa gave two simuls in Riga December 1913 (see 'Unknown Capablanca'.)

25th December W.21 L.1 D.6.
26th December W 18 L.1 D4

Tim Harding supplied further details and the full score of the game in the 'The Best of 1996-2001' (page 210)

And the game was posted in full here in 2014.

Capablanca vs H K Mattison, 1929 (kibitz #26)

Harding uses 'Mattisons' claiming it is correct way to spell the name adding all Latvian masculine names end in 'S'.

Premium Chessgames Member

<Sally Simpson>

<Harding uses <<<'Mattisons'>>> claiming it is correct way to spell the name adding all Latvian masculine names end in 'S'.>


Harding uses the correct form 'Matisons' as you can see from his actual text:

<The Kibitzer by Tim Harding

"He could have been a contender..."

I VISITED RIGA, home town of Mikhail Tal, in September for the annual Congress of ICCF, the International Correspondence Chess Federation. While I was there I learned a lot about some of the great Latvian players who helped to build up the tradition from which Tal benefitted. I was especially pleased to receive as a present the handsome little book "Pari Savam Laikmetam" (by V. Kirilovs, published by Sahs of Riga in 1994). This deals with the tragically short career of <<<Hermanis K. Matisons,>>> the first FIDE Champion who died of tuberculosis in 1932, shortly before his 38th birthday.>

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Just the one 't' Matisons and not Mattisons.


Premium Chessgames Member
  Jean Defuse: ...

An outstanding research on Mattison:

<Hermanis Matisons, a great Latvian master>

<Two instructive twin endgame studies by Matisons>


Premium Chessgames Member
  Jean Defuse: ...


<'Chess is a small but independent republic.'>

Hermanis Matisons


[Event "Casual Game"]
[Site "Riga Chess Club"]
[Date "1913.11.16"]
[White "Capablanca, Jose Raul"]
[Black "Matisons, Hermanis"]
[Result "0-1"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Be7 5. Nc3 d6 6. d4 exd4 7. Nxd4 Bd7 8. Nde2 O-O 9. Ng3 Re8 10. Re1 Bf8 11. Bg5 h6 12. Bxf6 Qxf6 13. Nd5 Qd8 14. Qh5 g6 15. Qd1 Bg7 16. c3 Ne5 17. Bxd7 Nxd7 18. f4 c6 19. Ne3 Nc5 20. Nc4 d5 21. exd5 Rxe1+ 22. Qxe1 cxd5 23. Ne5 Qb6 24. Qf2 Re8 25. Nf3 Qb5 26. Re1 Nd3 27. Rxe8+ Qxe8 28. Qd2 Qb5 29. b4 Qb6+ 30. Kf1 Qb5 31. Ne2 a5 32. bxa5 Qb1+ 33. Ne1 Nxe1 34. Qxe1 Qxa2 35. Nd4 Bxd4 36. cxd4 Qc4+ 37. Kf2 Qxd4+ 38. Qe3 Qb2+ 39. Kg3 d4 40. Qe8+ Kg7 41. Qe5+ Kh7 42. f5 Qb3+ 43. Kg4 Qd1+ 44. Kh4 Qh5+ 45. Kg3 d3 46. Qd5 Qxf5 47. Qxf5 gxf5 48. Kf2 f4 49. Ke1 Kg6 50. Kd2 Kf5 51. Kxd3 Kg4 52. Kc4 h5 53. Kb5 h4 54. Kb6 h3 55. gxh3+ Kxh3 56. Kxb7 f3 57. a6 f2 58. a7 f1=Q 0-1


Premium Chessgames Member

<Jean Defuse>

I am wondering if you can let me know your source for the <Capa-Mattison> pgn you posted?

I am looking at Hooper and Brandreth's <The Unknown Capablanca> and it seems that Capa was in Berlin from Nov. 15-20 1913. That's just going by their published games in the book.

Capablanca was at the Riga Chess Club giving a simul on Christmas day, December 25, 1913, scoring +21-1=6. He gave another simul in Riga the next day, scoring +18-1=6 (Skjoldager and Nielsen "Aron Nimzowitsch On the Road to Chess Mastery," p.223)

On December 30, 1913 Capablanca was still in Riga, and played this game: Nimzowitsch vs Capablanca, 1913

I think it more likely that the game score you posted was from Capablanca's simul on December 25.

In his biography of Fricis Apsenieks, <Gedimins Salmins> reports that Capablanca lost his game against Mattison, and drew his game against Apsenieks at this event:

<1913. gada 25. decembrī Rīgā notika jau šaha pasaules uzmanību ieguvušā šahista Hozē Raula Kapablankas simultānspēles seanss. 27 dalībnieku vidū bija abi jaunekļi - Hermanis Matisons un Fricis Apšenieks. Matisona uzvaru un Apšenieka miera līgumu. rakstot par kubieša viesošanos Rīgā. grāmatā Capablanka peimin autori Dr. M.Eive un L.Prinss.> p.7

Google assisted translation:

<On December 25, 1913, Jose Raul Capablanca, who had already gained the attention of the chess world, held a simultaneous exhibition in Riga. The 27 participants included both of the young players Herman Mattison and Fricis Apsenieks. Mattison won his game, and Apsenieks drew. From the book about Capablanca by Max Euwe and Lodewijk Prins.>

Salmins must mean this book here: "Capablanca Het Schaakphenomeen Capablanca" by Euwe and Prins (1949).

I don't have that book but I wonder if the scores of either or both games were published in it? Certainly the results must be, as it seems Salmins is listing this as the source of his information.

What do you think? I would like to be more sure of the date of this game, as well as the type of event. There's quite a big difference between a simul game and a serious one to one game as you know. Beating Capa in such a game would be a much more difficult task.

Dec-02-19  Cibator: <Amarande: Another victim of 1932 ... Terrible, terrible year for chess genius.

<MissScarlett: Was it? You need to give us some more.

whiteshark: such as Daniel Noteboom and Edgar Colle>>

Don't forget Fred Dewhirst Yates.

Dec-02-19  Cibator: Possibly the only chess master from outside the Anglosphere to have a London street named after him!! It's in N4, a few blocks to the north of Finsbury Park.

(But will the authorities update what now seems to be the incorrect older spelling? See posts above by Sally Simpson and JessicaFischerQueen.)

Premium Chessgames Member


<Hermanis Karlovich Mattison> isn't really an "incorrect" older spelling, although it is indeed a hybrid of Latvian (Hermanis) and non-Latvian (Mattison), with a middle name inserted (Karlovich) which I've never seen in any other database.

Since I made that post you refer to in response to the good <Sally Simpson>, Hermanis Karlovich Mattison (kibitz #22) I have been schooled in the Biographer's Bistro, and also by ongoing (very slow) research into Latvian chess history.

Roughly speaking, in the years from the end of the 19th century to the early 20th century, the primary sources tend to use non-Latvian spelling. From the early 20th century to the beginning of the modern Chess Olympiad era, say up to the <Prague Olympiad 1931>, the spellings for Latvian players vary between non-Latvian and Latvian. After this date virtually all Latvian spelling is used for Latvian players. You can spot this easily because most male names have a letter "s" at the end of both the first and the last name.

When I upload a game that has a player not in our database, I try to stick to the spelling from the source I got the game from.

But it's trickier for players already in our database.

Just one example <Karl Behting> <Karlis Betins>.

In earlier sources you will always see the Germanic form of his name, but from the early 20th century you begin to see the Latvian form of his name more often.

When I first began work on <Behting/Betins> I suggested changing his name to the Latvian form in this post Biographer Bistro (kibitz #19513) .

But after reading the response from <Telemus>, I came to agree with his position on the matter: Biographer Bistro (kibitz #19515)

Even in some modern cases, such as <Mikhail Tal> vs. <Mihails Tals> we use the non-Latvian spelling, simply because everyone else does.

Dec-03-19  woldsmandriffield: White to play and win.

click for larger view

Dec-03-19  Cibator: <Even in some modern cases, such as <Mikhail Tal> vs. <Mihails Tals> we use the non-Latvian spelling, simply because everyone else does.>

Many years ago when I was boning up on chess history, I also saw (I forget where) the great Mikhail's name spelt "Talj". (This appears to be an over-pedantic transliteration from Russian - the "j" stands for the "y" sound that so many words and names in that language seem to contain.)

Something else now occurs to me. In view of all the above, should we make yet another addition to the list of variant spellings for Nimzowitsch's last name? Or is it exempt through not being a true Latvian one?

Dec-03-19  Olavi: The Latvians add the masculine and feminine endings to foreign names too. The current president of the USA is Donalds Tramps. I have always preferred non-Latvian forms of non-ethnic Latvians e.g. Shirov or Shabalov.
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