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Monday, July 9, 2018

Kmoch Clouts Yudovich

     Leningrad has a colorful, and confusing, history. Known as St. Petersburg, the city was renamed Petrograd in 1914, at the beginning of World War I, then named Leningrad after the death of Vladimir Lenin in 1924, and again became St. Petersburg in 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed. Confusingly, the surrounding region is still known as Leningrad. 
     In the 1920s and 1930s, the poor outskirts of Leningrad were reconstructed into regularly planned boroughs and housing became a government-provided amenity; many apartments were so large that numerous families were assigned to what were called "communal" apartments. 
    On December 1, 1934, Sergey Kirov, the popular communist leader of Leningrad, was assassinated, which became the pretext for the Stalin's massive four-year purge of Soviet society, in which millions of people were imprisoned, exiled, or killed. 
     I posted an instructive game between Botvinnik and Euwe that was played in Leningrad, 1934 a few years ago, but today want to look at another game that was played in the same tournament. 
     The tournament began on Botvinnik's 23rd birthday and was his first tournament in a year. Max Euwe was in Leningrad along with Kmoch, his second, to train for his upcoming match with with Alekhine and the tournament was dubbed, the “Tournament with the Participation of Euwe and Kmoch.” 
    This tournament was considered Botvinnik's second international event and his performance was endangered when he was diagnosed with parathyroid disease and his fever was 102 degrees. As a result, he was granted a six day break that resulted in a considerable juggling of the schedule. As for his being replaced by another Soviet player, as Botvinnik said of them on several occasions, “They are not Botvinnik.” 

     Euwe's poor 6th place finish in which he lost two games (Riumin and Rabinovich) was explained by the fact that he had suffered an injury while swimming in the Black Sea during a visit to Yalta. 
     As for Kmoch, his aggressive play was shown by the fact that he tied for 7th-8th place with Yudovich, scoring only two draws and finished +4 -5 =2.
     Johann "Hans" Joseph Kmoch (July 25, 1894 in Vienna – February 13, 1973 in New York City) was an Austrian-Dutch-American IM, International Arbiter. But, older readers will remember and a chess journalist and author, not for his successes in his playing days.  To here his name pronounced go HERE
     Kmoch wrote for the magazine Wiener Schachzeitung from the early 1920s. His Die Kunst der Verteidigung (The Art of Defense) was the first chess book devoted to this subject. In 1930, Kmoch updated the Bilguer handbook, and wrote the tournament book for the Carlsbad 1929 event. 
     After World War II ended, Kmoch and his wife moved to the United States, settling in New York City where he served as the Secretary and manager of the Manhattan Chess Club and directed tournaments. He also wrote for Chess Review, then one of the leading American chess magazines. In 1959, he wrote his most famous book, Pawn Power in Chess, which is notorious for its use of made up terms such as ram, lever, sweeper, sealer, quartgrip, melanopenia and leukopenia can make it rather difficult to understand. However, if one can get used to Kmoch's terminlogy, it's actually a pretty good book. 
     Kmoch and his Jewish wife Trudy lived in the Netherlands from 1932 to 1947. In 1929 and 1934, he was good enough that he served as Alekhine's second in his matches against Bogoljubow. Kmoch also served as Alekhine's second in the 1935 title match against Euwe. In 1941, he authored a book of Rubinstein's best games. 
     Chessmetrics assigns him best world rank of number16 on 7 different months between February 1931 and June 1941.  The latter list puts him on level with players like Najdorf, Bogoljubow, Horowitz and Vidmar. His highest assigned rating was 2664 in 1941. 
     Kmoch had most of his best competitive results between 1925 and 1931. He won at Debrecen 1925 with a 10-3 score. At Budapest 1926, he shared 3rd-5th places. At Brno 1928, Kmoch placed 3rd and he finished first at Ebensee 1930. He represented Austria three times in Olympiads: 1927, 1930 and 1931. His overall results were +14 -8 =19 8.   His last good result was at Baarn in 1941 where he scored 5.51.5 and finished second behind Euwe. After that he stopped playing competitively. Clearly, Kmoch was much better than most of us give him credit for. 
     Kmoch's opponent in this game was Mikhail Yudovich, Senior. Yudovich (June 8, 1911 – September 19, 1987 in Moscow) was a Russian master, journalist, and writer. He was awarded the titles of IM in 1950, Correspondence IM in 1961 and Correspondence GM in 1973. He was USSR Correspondence Champion in 1966. His son, Yudovich Jr. was also a very strong player. The senior Yudovich is assigned a 2580 rating by Chessmetrics on the May 1937 rating list. 

Seated left to right: Alatortsev, Kmoch, Levenfish, Ily Rabinovich, Lisitsyn, Euwe and Chehover. Standing left to right: Yudovich, Romanovsky, Golubev (the TD), Riumin, Kan and Botvinnik

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