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Monday, January 2, 2017

Lilienthal Defeats Capablanca

     The Hastings tournament of 1934-35 was one of the most memorable. Playing were the former world champion Capablanca, two future champions, Euwe and Botvinnik, and Flohr who at the time was considered a serious contender. It also had the brilliant young Hungarian, later to become a Soviet player, Lilienthal. 
     With all the big names that were playing, going into the final round with 6.5 points, the surprise leader was Sir George Thomas followed by Euwe (6.0), Flohr (5.5) and Capablanca (5.0). Then came Lilienthal and Botvinnik (4.5). Michell, Menchik, Milner-Barry and Norman were the local cannon fodder. 
     Sir George was having the tournament of his life and with his last round opponent being his countryman Reginald Michell, a friendly draw was in order which would have meant that, at worst, Thomas would tie for first. But, the game turned out to be hard-fought and Thomas lost! Being the gentleman that he was, Euwe, who had a better position against tail-ender George Norman, agreed to a draw resulting in a tie with Thomas for first. Salo Flohr, at the time from Czechoslovakia and later to also become a Soviet citizen, won his game with the result that there was a three way tie for first. 
      Lilienthal's defeat of Capablanca was one of the more exciting games and this game illustrated his tactical prowess. He rarely sought to obtain an opening advantage, but when the time was right he gave full reign to his imagination and a firestorm of tactics was the result.

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