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Thursday, October 25, 2012


Efim Dmitriyevich Bogoljubow (April 14, 1889 – June 18, 1952) was a Russian-German. Bogoljubow was a chess giant by any standards, but in his native Russia, he was a ‘non-person’ and his reputation was tainted by his later Nazi associations.

For over a period of more than 15 years, Bogoljubow was among the challengers for the world title. During these years he managed to win several top tournaments against almost all best players of the time. He played in about 120 tournaments, winning prizes 48 times.  He also played 29 matches, 16 of which he won.

      Bogoljubow came into prominence in 1911 when he tied for first place in the Kiev championship and then a little later finished 9-10 in the Saint Petersburg (All-Russian Amateur) Tournament. In 1912, he took second place in Vilna and in 1913/14 he finished eighth in Saint Petersburg (All Russian Masters' Tournament and eighth in the 1914 Russian Championship.
       In 1914, he played in Mannheim tournament and was 8-9 place when the tournament was interrupted by World War I.  After the declaration of war against Russia, eleven Russian players (Alekhine, Bogoljubow, Bohatrichuk, Flamberg, Koppelman, Maliutin, Ilya Rabinovich, Romanovsky, Saburov, Selenieff and Weinstein)  were interned by Germany. In September 1914, four of the internees (Alekhine, Bogatyrchuk, Saburov, and Koppelman) were allowed to return home via Switzerland but the remaining Russian players played in a series of tournaments held during the remainder of the war.  Bogoljubow remained in Germany, married a local woman and spent most of the rest of his life in Germany.
       After the war, he won several international tournaments.  In 1924 he briefly returned to Russia, which had since become the Soviet Union, and won the Soviet Championship in 1924 and 1925 and scored well in a few international events.
       In 1926, he returned to Germany where he continued to successfully participate in international events. Bogoljubov won two matches against Dr. max Euwe (both 5.5–4.5) in 1928 and 1928/29 and played two matches against Alekhine for the world championship losing 15.5–9.5 in 1929, and 15.5–10.5 in 1934.
       In the 1930’s Bogoljubow was extremely active in the international area: He represented Germany at first board in the Olympics at Prague 1931, winning the individual silver medal.  In 1930, he twice tied for 2nd–3rd with Nimzowitsch, after Alekhine, in San Remo.  In 1931, he tied for 1st–2nd in the German Congress. In 1933, he won at Bad Pyrmont.  In 1935, he won at Bad Nauheim and Bad Saarow, tied for first at Berlin and in 1936 and 1937 he shared first place at Bad Elster. He also had first place finishes at Bremen (1937), Bad Elster (1938) and Stuttgart (1939)
       During World War II, he lost a match to Euwe (+2 −5 =3) and drew a mini-match with Alekhine (+1 −1 =0) in 1943. He also played in numerous tournaments held in Germany throughout the war. After the war, he lived in West Germany where he continued to win small events.
       He is little recognized as a great player these days because he played in the era of Lasker, Alekhine, and Capablanca who dominated the chess scene during his peak playing years.
       At the beginning of World War 1, when he was taken prisoner while playing in Mannheim the players' initial treatment was harsh, but their status as chess players ensured them good treatment, and they were able to choose their own place of confinement. They chose the resort town of Triberg and Bogoljubow married a local girl, Frida.
       After the First World War Bogoljubow rapidly ascended to to the position of the best players in the world. His crowning achievement came in the Moscow 1925 supertournament, where in 21 rounds he won 13 games and lost only 2, finishing a full point and a half ahead of Lasker, and even further ahead of Capablanca, Marshall, Torre, Reti, Rubinstein, Spielmann.  Despite his successes, his results were inconsistent, and by 1929, when Alekhine played him for the World Championship, Bogoljubow, at 40 years old, was probably past his peak.
       After his victory in Moscow 1925 the Soviet chess political machine came into being and began to distribute favors. At this time Bogoljubow, faced with little income and a lot of debt because the bureaucrats restricted his access to a couple of tournaments, he renounced his Soviet citizenship in 1926. From that point onward he was condemned by the Soviet State and his name was erased from all records, including tournaments.
       In 1938 he became a Nazi.  Some claim he did it in order to keep his home in Germany, and to assure that his daughters could go the University since they were deemed not to be of Aryan blood. Also his German wife also wanted to remain in Germany.
      Bogoljubow doesn't seem to have been ideologically inclined and was said to have disliked the Nazis intensely. Even as late as 1950, however, FIDE didn't make him a Grandmaster becaused of his alleged 'Fascism'. He got the title the next year, not long before his death in 1952.

In the following snappy game against Grob, I especially like the Rook Lift at move 20.  For more on Rook Lifts, see an instructive video by GM Dejan Bojkov HERE.

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