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Friday, June 10, 2016

Ostend 1907

The casino at Ostend
     1907 was a big year in chess. The Carlsbad 1907 tournament was one of the big events. It was held in the spa city of Carlsbad (Bohemia, then Austria-Hungary Empire) at the Kurhaus (Kaiserbad) imperial bath hotel. Twenty-one great masters took part and it was won by Rubinstein ahead of Maroczy, Leonhardt, Nimzovich and Schlechter. 
     Another big tournament was Vienna, won by Mieses ahead of Duras, Tartakower and Maroczy. Lasker also crushed Marshall by 11.5 - 3.5 in a world championship match. 
     Then there was the great tournament at Ostend which has been long forgotten, but it was one of the greatest in history. There were two sections: the Championship Tournament for players who had previously won an international tournament and the Masters' Tournament.
     The tournament took place in the casino of Ostend from 16 May to 14 June 1907. David Janowski, Siegbert Tarrasch, Carl Schlechter, and Frank Marshall had accepted the invitation for the tournament. Emanuel Lasker and Geza Maróczy declined and were replaced by Amos Burn and Mikhail Chigorin. 

     After winning the tournament, Tarrasch was crowned the "World Champion Tournament Player" by the tournament organizers and because of this tournament Lasker finally agreed to a title match in 1908 in which he beat Tarrasch convincingly (+8 –3 =5). 
     The Masters' Tournament was a twenty nine-player round-robin played from 16 May to 25 June. Ossip Bernstein and Akiba Rubinstein ended up tied for first. 
     The tournament was an exciting one. In the early rounds Janowski took the lead which he maintained for a long time, closely followed by Tarrasch and Schlechter. Marshall, who had recently been defeated in a match by Lasker, showed little of usual imagination while Burn was entirely out of form as was Chigorin who only scored 4.5 points in his last 20 games.
     Luck played a big part in both tournaments. Tarrasch owed his first place finish to two big slices of it. In his second round game against Schlechter the position was complicated and Tarrasch, not feeling well, proposed a draw to which Schlechter readily agreed. After the game it was demonstrated that Schlechter was winning and that half point was the difference in determining the tournament winner. 
     Then, in the final round, Janowski had to win his last game in order to tie Tarrasch for first place. In the previous matches Janowski had scored twice against Marshall and had lost once, but in their last round game Marshall had recovered his characteristic dash and Janowski went down in defeat and so they tied for third place. 
     The Master's Tournament was equally exciting with the outcome not decided until the last day when first prize hinged on the adjourned game between Teichmann and Rubinstein in which the former had a minor piece for two Ps and Rubinstein failed to hold the draw. Had he manged to do so, he would have won the tournament, but instead had to share first with Bernstein. 
     In the following game watching Marshall's Knights hop around harassing Burn's King is quite amusing. 

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