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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Rarest of All Chessplayers

     Leon Stolzenberg (18 October 1895 in Austria – 25 October 1974) was an American master. Stolzenberg had been a medic in the hospital at Tarnopol in World War I. He came to the United States after World War I and settled in Detroit, Michigan where he was a pharmacist and became one of the US's leading correspondence players. He was also an OTB master, winning the US Open in 1926 and 1928. He won the championship of Michigan a record 13 times (1933, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937, 1942, 1944, 1945, 1947, 1950, 1951, 1953 and 1962). He won Al Horowitz' popular Chess Review magazine's sponsored US Open Postal Chess Championship three times. I played in many of these events, qualifying for the finals 3 or 4 times, and they were very strong.  Not only were some of the best correspondence players in the country playing, it was not at all unusual to run into OTB masters and there were even a few who had qualified for the US Championship... I lost twice to one of them. Stolzenberg also won the championship of the Correspondence Chess League of America twice. 
     Stolzenberg cleared up a mystery. Alekhine wrote that in 1916 he suffered a contusion of his spine and for months was confined to bed in the hospital at Tarnopol and playing blindfold chess proved to be a real salvation for him. At his request local players often visited him and he had the opportunity of playing many blindfold games. One of his opponents was named “Feldt.” Walter Korn, writing in American Chess Heritage, states that Stolzenberg claimed that “Feldt” was actually an intern at the hospital named Dr. Martin Fischer.
     What was so rare about the Stolzenberg? When he died people found a large record collection in his home, but not a single chess book and he apparently never saved his scoresheets. How rare is that for a chessplayer??!! 
     In this game black played the K-Indian which at the time was only beginning to become popular. The history of the K-Indian is fascinating. At one time the QGD was was the “normal” defense and it had been analyzed nearly to death. In the 1948 World Championship match-tournament the K-Indian was only played twice! By the time the great Zurich 1953 event was played one third of the QP openings was a K-Indian. This game is very instructive and I encourage you to make sure you play through it. It offers some good basic instruction on the K-Indian Defense.

1 comment:

  1. ...very nice annotations...thanks