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Monday, October 31, 2016

Vienna 1922

     This tournament was one of the first great events after World War One and all the great of the day, Alekhine, Bogojubow, Gruenfeld, Maroczy, Reti, Spielmann, Tarrasch and Tartakower were their; only Lasker and Capablanca were missing. 
     The surprise of the tournament was the 42-year old Rubinstein. After the war he was still an elite player, but his results were inconsistent. In another ten years he would withdraw from tournament play. Alekhine had been dominating tournament play in the early 1920s having taken frst at The Hague, Budapest and Triberg in 1921 and at Hastings just a few months before this tournament. So, his fourth place tie was something of a surprise, but as it turned out, it was only a minor hiccup in his career. 
     As for Rubinstein, it was hoped that it might be possible that he was still able to compete, possibly even for a world championship match. After all, he defeated Alekhine, and his game against Bogoljubow won first brilliancy prize and his game against Spielmann was a real gem. He had also, with some luck, won a difficult and theoretically important ending against Tartakower in what turned out to be a crucial game in deciding first place. 
     The tournament also turned out to be the best result ever in the career of Heinrich Wolf who finished third in an outstanding fashion. Wolf (October 20, 1875 – December 1943) was a journeyman Austrian master who from all reports was murdered by the Nazis. 
     This event was also important because of the influence of the hypermodern players who made their theories felt. The Nimzo-Indian and the Gruenfeld Defense (which its inventor used to defeat Alekhine). And, the Alekhine was played in four games, but Alekhine was not a participant in any of them. 
     In addition to the participants who were also the most of the famous writers of the day, chess authors Vladimir Vukovic (author of the classic, The Art of Attack) and Imre Koenig were also playing. Koenig was studying in Vienna and was the youngest player in the tournament. Koenig (Sept 2, 1901, Gyula, Hungary – 1992, Santa Monica, California) lived in Austria, England and the USA between the two world wars. In 1949, he became a naturalized British citizen, but in 1953 he moved to the United States. 
     Edward Winter in his post No. 3842 mentions the claim that shortly before the Vienna tournament Alekhine had tried to commit suicide by stabbing himself in the stomach. 
     All the games at Vienna were hard fought. Unlike today, only about one third were drawn. The following game, played in the first round, features very sharp and accurately executed tactics as well as excellent positional play in which Reti managed to hold the draw in a very difficult ending. In the final position it looks like white could win by going after the black b-Pawn then marching his a-Pawn home, but if you set up the position in the Shredder endgame database you will see how black holds the draw...very instructive. 

1) Rubinstein 11.5 
2) Tartakower 10.0 
3) Wolf 9.5 
4-6) Tarrasch, Maroczy, Alekhine 9.0 
7) Gruenfeld 8.0 
8) Reti 7.5 
9) Bogoljubov 6.5 
10-11) Vukovic and Spielmann 6.0 
12) Saemisch 5.5 
13) Takacs 4.0 
14) Koenig 2.0 
15) Kmoch 1.5

EDIT...a reader pointed out the game as originally posted was broken off, so here is the corrected version.

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