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Thursday, November 21, 2019

Nikolai Riumin, Another Tragically Short Career

     Once upon a time, back in the 1930s, Botvinnik didn’t get a lot of respect. When Leningrad master Yakov Rokhlin visited Moscow in 1930, Nikolai Grigoriev took him to the local chess club and Abraham Rabinovich, chess editor for the newspaper Vechernyaya Moskova, complained to Rokhlin that he was “making a big fuss about Botvinnik” whom he described as a dry, cold player and Rokhlin was instructed to inform Leningrad players that they would never make a world champion out of Botvinnik. On the other hand, Moscovite Nikolai Riumin was a genuine player. 
     It was true, at least the part about Ruimin, who was the idol of Moscow players, being a genuine threat to Botvinnik. Physically, Ruimin was striking: tall, thin, slightly stooped with long, thin arms. Botvinnik wrote that Ruimin was "... a master of complicated and doubled-edged positions. He, undoubtedly, was one of the strongest representatives of the younger generation of chess masters. He loved chess passionately and he was a very pleasant man.” Botvinnik also described how, when one of their fierce tournament battles was over, Ruimin congratulated him in a very sportsmanlike manner. 
     Style-wise his play was tactical, original and dramatic. While at the board he would often draw his hands up into his sleeves and when he made his move, his hands would slide out, firmly grasp the piece and carefully move it to the intended square. 
     Nikolai Riumin was born September 5, 1908 and was one of the strongest Soviet players of the 1930s. He learned the moves at the age of 16 and within three years was a first category player (roughly USCF Expert, 2000-2199). The Soviet system had beginners then categories, fifth being the lowest. After the first category came Candidate Masters (Elo 2200) and Masters (Elo of about 2400). 
     By the time Riumin was 20 years old he had finished second in the Moscow City Championship which was often stronger than many international tournaments and he had knocked Ilya Kan and Vasily Panov off their perch as Moscow’s best players. 
     He won the Moscow Championship in 1931, 1933/34, and 1935 and played in four Soviet Championships. His best result was in 1931 when he finished second to Botvinnik. His best International result was at Leningrad 1934 where he shared 2nd place with Peter Romanovsky, behind Botvinnik and ahead of Max Euwe. In 1935, he finished first at Gothenburg. 
     By 1936 he was suffering from tuberculosis to which he succumbed in Omsk, Siberia in 1942. 
     The following game is from the Soviet Championship was played in Leningrad from December 7th, 1934 to January 2nd, 1935. Twenty of the Soviet Union's best players competed with only one noticeable absence, Mikhail Botvinnik, the winner of the previous two Soviet championships. He had accepted an invitation to the chess festival held at Hastings
     Fedor Bohatirchuk and Grigory Levenfish were at the top of their game. In the first half of the tournament Bohatirchuk led the field, closely followed by Vladimir Alatortsev, but he fell behind in the second half, allowing Levenfish to tie for first with Ilya Rabinovich. 

1-2) I. Rabinovich and Levenfish 12.0 
3-4) Bohatirchuk and Riumin 11.5 
5-8) Chekhover, Lisitsin, Ragozin, Alatortsev 10.5 
9-12) Yudovich Sr., Belavenets, Makogonov and Kan 10.0 
13-14) Veresov and Panov 9.0 
15-16) Savitsky and Mazel 8.5 
17) Rauzer 7.5 
18-19) Dubinin and Ilyin-Zhenevsky 7.5 
20) Freymann 4.5 

1 comment:

  1. I always wanted to know more about Riumin. Had always gotten the impression he was very strong and probably historically underrated. Tragic that he like another Soviet player Leonid Stein died early in life.