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Friday, December 8, 2017

Moscow 1935 – Lessons in Tactics (Part 4)

    This is the final look at the games from Moscow 1935 and we will be taking a look at a game Euwe didn't use an example in Strategy and Tactics, but he could have.
     The loser, Vitaly Chekhover (December 22, 1908 – February 11, 1965), was a Soviet player and chess composer; his day job was a pianist. In the beginning of his career he was an endgame study composer who often revised traditional studies of other authors trying to make them more sparse and economical form, often with fewer pieces. Later he developed his own style and composed a number of original studies and problems. He was considered a prominent specialist on Knight endgames, and wrote several books on the subject.
     The winner, Rudolf Spielmann (May 5, 1883 – August 20, 1942), was an Austrian of the Romantic School and chess writer. Spielmann was a lawyer but never practiced law. Reuben Fine described Spielmann's only passions in life as "drinking beer and playing chess". Known as "The Master of Attack" and "The Last Knight of the King's Gambit" his play was full of sacrifices, brilliancies, and beautiful ideas.
     In 1934, Spielmann, a Jew, fled Vienna due to rising pro-Nazi sympathies in the city and subsequently moved to the Netherlands. In 1938, he went to Prague to be with his brother Leopold, but the German army occupied Czechoslovakia only a few months later. Leopold Spielmann was arrested and died in a concentration camp a few years later. One of their sisters also perished in a camp, the other survived the war, but never recovered mentally from the ordeal and ended up committing suicide.
     Leopold (born August 5, 1881 in Vienna - died December 10, 1941 in Theresienstadt ) was a pianist and conductor. He was the eldest of the six children. Besides Rudolf, his siblings were the actresses Melanie (1885-1927) and Jenny (1889-1964), accountant and medical student Edgar (1887-1917) and the actress Irma (1894-1939). At first, the family lived in modest circumstances and changed apartments frequently. 
    When Leopold Spielmann was three years old, his mother recognized his musical talent and had him take lessons; he was soon recognized as a prodigy. The pianist Anton Rubinstein introduced Spielmann to the family of the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph, where he received patronage. He gave concerts in front of members of the imperial family and in 1891 he gave a concert in the Viennese Bosendorfer Hall.
     After a long break, Spielmann gave a concert on February 12, 1895, in which the maturity of his playing technique, his lecture, and his musical conception stood out. Accompanied by his mother he on a concert tour through Europe, which led them to Russia. He did not accept an off to tour the United States because he had to care for his siblings because his mother was seriously ill.
     Leopold studied at the Vienna Conservatory, at the Royal Academy of Music and finally in Berlin. He was a highly esteemed virtuoso. It was in Berlin that he married his piano student Gertrud Ludtke; they had five children.
     After the end of the First World War, the Spielmann family moved to Gothenburg , where Leopold worked as a conductor of the symphony orchestra. In 1928 the family returned to Berlin. In 1934 he left Germany with his family due to the Nazi persecution of the Jews and fled to Prague without valid passports. There he had to make a living through private lessons.
     Rudolf, who had left Austria since 1935 and stayed mostly in Holland, also arrived in Prague in 1938, after his passport had been invalidated by the Anschluss of Austria to the German Reich. Leopold planned to emigrate to Toronto, where he had a job offer from the conservatory. Leopold was hidden in Prague and could not leave the apartment. In the fall of 1939 he was arrested by the SS and was sent to the Flossenburg concentration camp in 1941. He died on December 10, 1941 in ghetto Theresienstadt. His siblings had managed to flee except sister Jenny who survived, but suffered all her life from depression.
     Rudolf managed to flee to Sweden with the help of a friend. He hoped to eventually reach England or the United States and to finance the move he played a lot of exhibition matches and wrote chess columns. He also tried to publish a book, Memories of a Chess Master. But, some members of the Swedish Chess Federation held Nazi sympathies and so disliked the Spielmann because he was Jewish that his book was never published. As a result, he suffered from depression and in August 1942, he locked himself in his Stockholm apartment and did not emerge for a week. On August 20, neighbors summoned police to check on him. They entered the apartment and found Spielmann dead; he was 59 years old. The official cause of death was heart disease, but it has been claimed that he intentionally starved himself. That's the story according to his close relatives. Another version is that he suffered from a Parkinson's disease-like illness, which rapidly progressed and he was admitted to the hospital, where he died. Official cause of death was high blood pressure and heart disease. He was buried in Stockholm, his tombstone reading “A fugitive without rest, struck hard by fate".
     Chekhover annotated this game in the tournament book and highly praised Spielmann's play, writing, “A brilliant crush! The game was awarded the 3rd prize for best game of the tournament.” Indeed it was a brilliant crush and kudos to the loser for acknowledging it!


  1. Future post ideas. Emory Tate. Interested in his aggressive play of late. Cheers, Jim

  2. Tate's exploits have been extensively covered by others although I did a short post on him back in 2014 (http://tartajubow.blogspot.com/2014/02/emory-tate.html). Generally I try to stick to lesser known players and things that most won't be familiar with!