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Thursday, June 20, 2019

Cukierman Crushes Tartakower

     The Great Depression affected France in 1931, a bit later than other countries so when the following game was played in the 1930 Paris City Championship, which won by Josef Cukierman ahead of Tartakower, things were still fairly normal. 
     The year before Cukierman had only tied for 5-6th in Paris (Tartakower won) and the following year he finished first again. In 1933, he took 6th (Alekhine won) and in 1939, he tied for 5-6th in Paris (Rossolimo won). 
     Who was the almost unknown Josef Cukierman? GM Greg Serper commented that he had come across a number of beautiful combinations played Cukierman, but at the same time found some really bad games and as a result he was somewhat puzzled. 
     Josef Cukierman was born March 28, 1899 in the small village of Grodek which is in Eastern Poland near the Belarus border. Not much is known of him, but he did the Second Moscow City Championship in 1920/21 and in the early 1920s, he lived in Białystok, Poland which is a large city near where and he won the club championship in 1926. 
     Cukierman was strong enough to draw Capablanca and he had wins over Tartakower and Vera Menchik to his credit. The May 30, 1935 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle had an article that stated Poland was preparing for the Olympiad and that Poland was leaving “no stone unturned to have a winning team.” The article stated that Tartakower had recently left Paris to return to Poland where he was supervising the training of candidates. There was a “test tournament” at Lodz to which Cukierman, another resident of Paris had been invited. What was interesting about the article was that Cukierman was referred to as “Dr. Cukierman.” 
     Poland did manage to field a strong team for the 1935 Olympiad in Warsaw, but Cukierman wasn't on it.  The team consisted of Tartakower, Frydman, Najdorf, Friedman and Makarczyk. 
     According to Alekhine, Cukierman committed suicide in 1941 by jumping from a balcony “for no apparent reason, since he enjoyed excellent health and fortune.”  The Polish team finished in 3rd place behind the United States (Fine, Marshall, Kupchik, Dake and Horowitz) and Sweden.

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