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Monday, June 10, 2019

Marshall KO's Spielmann

     The great Hamburg tournament, held in connection with the 17th Congress of the German Schachbund, was a 17-player event that included some of the great and some of the more promising players of the day. 
     Lasker, the World Champion, was on tour in South America. Maroczy and Bernstein declined their invitations. Both Rubinstein and Janowski were last minute cancellations. 
     A young Capablanca who had scored a decisive victory over Marshall in their match the previous year had booked his passage for the tournament, but canceled his voyage and withdrew from the tournament owing to ill-health. Rumor had it that Capablanca got scared of facing such stiff competition and backed out at the last minute. In reply Capa wrote, “...I was not afraid, and had no reason to be. I soon proved to the satisfaction of all, when the following year I won the first prize in the strongest tournament that has ever been held: the first San Sebastian tournament."
     There was an 18th player, Franz G. Jacob of Germany who was bumped up from the Reserve section. Before the start he said that he hoped his nerves could withstand the trials of such a long and grueling event. Apparently they couldn’t; he withdrew after six rounds having scored +0 -3 =3. 

The players: 
Schlechter: A player of whom it was said he was nearly impossible to beat, earlier in the year he almost took the World Champion title from Lasker. 
Duras: He was approaching his pinnacle as a player and had many recent successes. Described as strong-willed and cold-blooded, he was known for his technique, opening knowledge and his endurance remarkable. 
Nimzovich: Considered a rising star of great promise. He had been studying intensely and was already known for his bizarre moves and unusual ideas.
Spielmann: An up-and-comer with recent match victories over Mieses and Fahrni.  His 3rd/4th finish at St. Petersburg the previous year had been his best result to date. 
Teichmann: A solid player. In recent years he had given up his work as a teacher of languages to devote himself to chess. While rarely at the top, he generally scored well. 
Marshall: In recent years he had lost lop-sided matches to Lasker, Tarrasch and Capablanca, but he had always been far more successful as a tournament performer. It was a crap shoot on where he would finish in this tournament.
Dus-Chotimirsky: A Russian with a risky attacking style whose play was always full of interesting ideas. He had a lot of admirers, but never scored well. For example, the previous year at St. Petersburg he defeated Lasker and Rubinstein yet finished with a minus score. 
Alekhine: Not yet the Alekhine he was to become, but even though he was only 17 years old he was beginning to gain a reputation as a dangerous attacker. As a result, he was the object of much interest in this, his first Master tournament.
Tarrasch: After being defeated by Lasker in their match for the World Championship two years previously Tarrasch had played little.  As a veteran, it was going to be interesting to see how he fared against the crop of young masters. 
Forgacs: Formerly known as Fleischmann before moving to Budapest, he was out of practice, but had scored quite well at Nuremberg in 1906 and Ostend in 1907. 
Leonhardt: His reputation was for his great opening knowledge and being a difficult man to defeat. A player with a low profile and not many tournament wins, at his best he was able to defeat most of the elite players of the period. He also won many brilliancy prizes in the process. It was said he looked “rather unwell” at the start of the tournament. 
Tartakower: The 23-year old Russian had not yet reached his potential and one anonymous participant at Hamburg stated that if Tartakower’s playing strength ever matched his self-confidence, he could be a potential World Champion.
Salwe: From Lodz, Poland, his encounters with Rubinstein strengthened his play. He had a limited opening repertoire, but a thorough knowledge of d-Pawn openings. 
Kohnlein: A teacher with little opportunity to play, he had won the Dusseldorf Hauptturnier in 1908. 
Speyer: This Dutch master was a strong player with a solid style, but he was considered a little out of his class in Hamburg. 
John: From Dresden, his play was always sound though rarely spectacular.
Yates: An unknown at the time, but he was known to possess excellent tactical ability. Like Alekhine and Jakob, Yates owed his place in the tournament to the withdrawal or non-appearance of other, better known players. The 26-year old Yates had abandoned a career in accountancy the year before in favor of becoming a professional chess player and journalist. Tarrasch expressed the opinion that while Yates may be an excellent player, at the time he did not possess the slightest qualifications to be allowed to play in a Master Tournament. Yates finished dead last with only one win, but it was against Tarrasch. 

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