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Saturday, July 21, 2018

A Stunning Rook Lift by Averbakh

     In 1956 Dresden in East Germany must have been a dreary place; even some of the war damage had not been repaired. 
     It was only three years earlier that an uprising in East Germany started with a strike by East Berlin construction workers on June 16, 1953. It turned into a widespread uprising against the German Democratic Republic government the next day. 
     The revolt involved more than one million people in about 700 towns and cities. The uprising in East Berlin was violently suppressed by the Group of Soviet Forces tanks. Newspapers blamed it on the influence of American popular culture on German youth. The prominence of American films and music in both East and West Berlin. American films of the era like The Wild One and Rebel Without a Cause, featuring movie stars Marlon Brando and James Dean, were viewed by the East German government as romanticizing public disobedience and rebellion, as well as encouraging violent crime. Continued occurrences of crime and uprisings by German youths would eventually lead to the decision to begin construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961. 
Dresden in 1956

     The infamous Stasi prison Bautzen was less than 40 miles east of Dresden. The prison saw a total of 2,350 prisoners pass through its gates between 1956 and 1989 and it was the only prison in Communist East Germany where the feared secret police had free reign. 
     Under Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev the Second Five-Year Plan was instituted. The plan focused on technological progress with its intention to develop nuclear energy. The government increased industrial production quotas by 55 percent and the plan committed East Germany to accelerated efforts toward agricultural collectivization and nationalization. By 1958–59 quotas were increased for private farmers and teams were sent to villages in an effort to encourage voluntary collectivization. In November and December 1959 some law-breaking farmers were arrested. 
     With this backdrop an international chess tournament was held in Dresden from February 26-March 21, 1956. The tournament gave some promising new players from behind the Iron Curtain a chance at some first-class competition.
     Soviet players Yuri Averbakh and Ratmir Kholmov dominated. Romanian Victor Ciocaltea (January 16, 1932 – September 10, 1983) was in the running, but fell behind by drawing his last four games. He defeated Kholmov in their game. Ciocaltea was awarded the IM title the following year. He had won the Romanian championship in 1952 and was to go on to win it several more times: 1959, 1961, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1975, and 1979. He played for Romania in eleven Chess Olympiads from 1956 to 1982. 
     Averbakh is well known, but Kholmov less so. Ratmir Kholmov (May 13, 1925 – February 18, 2006 ) won many international tournaments in Eastern Europe during his career and tied for the Soviet Championship title in 1963, but lost the playoff. Kholmov was not well known in the West, since he never competed there during his career peak, being confined to events in socialist countries. His chess results were impressive, so this may have been for security reasons, as Kholmov had been a wartime sailor. He was one of the strongest Soviet players from the mid-1950s well into the 1970s. He was awarded the GM title in 1960. 
     Wolfgang Uhlmann (March 29, 1935) who was to become East Germany's most prominent GM was an accountant by profession. Uhlmann's father taught him chess at the age of 11 at their home in Dresden and he progressed to the title of German Youth Champion in 1951. By 1956 he was an International Master and by 1959, a Grandmaster. He won the East German championship eleven times from 1954 to 1986. 
     Bulgarian Nikola Padevsky (May 29, 1933) became National Champion in 1954, going on to win it in 1955, 1962 and 1964.   He was awarded the IM title in 1957 and the GM title in 1964. Padevsky played in the World Student Team Championship six times (every year from 1954 through 1959). He was a corporate lawyer by profession. 
     Istvan Bilek (August 11,1932 – March 20, 2010) was a Hungarian GM (awarded in 1962) and three-time Hungarian champion.   He qualified for the interzonals in 1962 and 1964. 
     Bogdan Sliwa (February 4, 1922 – May 16, 2003) was a Polish master. He won the championship of Poland six times. In 1946, he won the first Polish Chess Championship after World War II. FIDE awarded Sliwa the International Master title in 1953, and the Honorary Grandmaster title in 1987. 

1-2) Averbakh and Kholmov 12.0-3.0 
3) Ciocaltea 10.5-4.5 
4) Pachman 9.0-6.0 
5) Uhlmann 8.5-6.5 
6-7) Padevsky and Bilek 8.0-7.0 
8-10) Sliwa, Fuchs and Dittmann 1 7.5-7.5 
11) Muehlberg 6.5-8.5 
12) Sefc 6.0-9.0 
13-14) Sterner and Golz 4.5-10.5 
15-16) Andersen and Trajkovic 4.0-11.0 

    Usually when we think about an attack on the flank, we think of a Pawn storm, but in the following game Averbakh conducts his K-side attack with pieces alone, all the Ps in front of his K being unmoved. 
     The lift of his a1R on move 10 is particularly noteworthy. Nine moves later it slid over to h3, one move before he began his winning sacrificial assault. His opponent was Reinhart Fuchs (September 28, 1934 – December 16, 2017), from East Berlin who was awarded the IM title in 1962. He was East German champion in 1953 and 1956. 

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