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Friday, October 31, 2014

Lilienthal’s Q-Sac

     Andor Lilienthal, the last of the original 27 GM’s, died at his home in Budapest in 2010 at the age of 99. Lilienthal who is largely unknown today, played 10 world champions and beat 6 of them. He was the last living GM to have played and beaten Emanuel Lasker; he also had tournament victories against Capablanca, Euwe, Botvinnik and Smyslov.
   Lilienthal learned to play at 13 and never had any formal training. He honed his talent playing in the coffeehouses of Europe at a time when chess was reaching the heights of its popularity. In his book, Chess Was My Life, Lilienthal described encounters in 1929 with Capablanca in the Café Central in Vienna, and with Lasker and Alekhine at the Café König in Berlin in October 1929. At the Café de la Régence in Paris Lilienthal regularly played with great players like Savielly Tartakower, the artist Marcel Duchamp, who Lilienthal said was “the most talented French player,” and composer Sergei Prokofiev, who was of master strength, according to Lilienthal.
     Lilienthal was born in Moscow on May 5, 1911. His parents were Hungarian Jews who moved to Hungary when he was 2. He grew up in poverty.
     He began playing in tournaments in the early 1930s and quickly established a reputation as an aggressive and dangerous player. He emigrated to the Soviet Union in 1935 to work as a chess trainer and became a Soviet citizen in 1939. The next year, in his greatest tournament result, he tied for first in the 1940 Soviet Championship with Bondarevsky.
     In 1950 FIDE listed him on the original list of Grandmasters. From 1951 to 1960, Lilienthal served as Petrosian’s trainer and he also acted as Smyslov’s coach during his world championship matches with Botvinnik in 1954, 1957 and 1958. In 1976 Lilienthal retired from competitive play and coaching and returned to Hungary.
     The following game is, or at least was, pretty well known, but I imagine there exists today a generation of players who have not seen or enjoyed it.

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