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Monday, October 4, 2021

Rubinstein Struts His Tactical Skill

     Even though I have in my chess library the 1941 edition of Rubinstein's Chess Masterpieces, 100 Selected Games that was translated by Barnie F. Winkleman and annotated by Hans Kmoch I've played over very few of his games. I can't tell you why, I just haven't. 
     Rubinstein was born on either December, 1880 or December 12, 1882 depending on the source. He was born in what was described as a squalid ghetto in Stawiski in northeastern Poland. For generations his ancestors had been rabbis and Hebrew scholars. 
     A few weeks before his birth his father died leaving behind in stark poverty was widow and twelve children. As a result, he was sent to live with his grandparents an eventually he, like his father and grandfather, he became a teacher of the Talmud and a student of Hebrew. 
     And then at the age of 16 he saw two boys playing chess in the Jewish school (yeshiva) and became captivated by it. At the time the only chess book was one by a player named Joseph Sossnitz, a Talmudic scholar, mathematician and scientific author. Rubinstein absorbed the contents and began concentrating on nothing else but chess. His grandparents cursed the day he learned the game and his mother prayed for his deliverance from the grips of the demon chess, but the game changed his life. 
     At the age of 19 he heard about George Salve who lived not far away in the city of Lodz. After hearing that there was a real live master living there, that's where Rubinstein headed found a job and played anybody he could, but had little success and he was clearly not cut out to be a chess player. And so, he returned home, but Lodz was still calling, so several months later he was back in Lodz and one day at the chess club he had the audacity to challenge Salwe. 
     Unlike a lot of Masters and Grandmasters, Salwe indulged him and after Rubinstein won, a quick match was arranged and it was tied at 5-5. Another match was arraigned and Rubinstein scored 5-3 and Salwe was dethroned as Lodz' top player. 
     A year later Rubinstein was sent to the Russian national tournament in Kiev where he finished 5th. In 1905, he played in the Haupturnier A event of the German Chess Association in Barmen where he tied Oldrich Duras for 3rd. By 1914, he was scheduled to play a match with Emanuel Lasker for the World Championship, but it was canceled due to the outbreak of World War I. 
     At the end of the war he and his family moved to Sweden where they stayed until 1922 and then moved to Germany. He continued to have some tournament successes, but was never able to arrange another match for the world championship. 
     After 1932, he withdrew from tournament play and the last years of his life were spent suffering from severe mental illness, living at various times at home with his family and in a sanatorium. According to his son Salomon (Samy) Rubinstein (born March 19, 1927 - died June, 2002, 75 years old) Akiba remained withdrawn and lived mostly in his room, but he did receive visitors, read the papers and kept up with chess and the two often practiced together. See Edward Winter's article on Rubinstein's later years HERE. Probably few players are aware of it, but Samy Rubinstein was a pretty good player himself and was probably of about IM strength.
     In the following game game that was played in Lodz 1908, Rubinstein, who was famous for his endgames play, struts his tactical ability against one of the craftiest tacticians of the day, Frank Marshall. 

     In October of 1908, Marshall visited Lodz in Russian controlled Poland where he played a triangular match with the top two players in the city, Rubinstein and Salwe. Later in the month and in early November, Rubinstein and Marshall played a match, also in Lodz; Rubinstein won 4.5-3.5. 
     According to Andrew Soltis the Lodz 1908 event was surpassed in strength only by St. Petersburg 1895/96 was stronger. It was a quadrangular event that was won by Lasker ahead of Steinitz, Pillsbury and Chigorin.

Frank Marshall - Akiba Rubinstein

Result: 0-1

Site: Lodz

Date: 1908

London System

[...] 1.d4 d5 2.♗f4 This has come to be known as the London System. The rarely played Bf4 looks innocent enough, but it can be a dangerous weapon for white. 2...♘f6 3.♘f3 e6 4.e3 c5 5.c3 ♘c6 6.♗d3 ♕b6 7.♕c1 This is frequently seen as white wants to avoid 7.Qc2 c4 when he has to retreat his B off the b1-h7 diagonal. Another alternative is 7.Qb3 offering an exchange of Qs, but since white aims for an attack he usually prefers to avoids trading Qs. 7...♗d7 8.O-O ♖c8 9.♘bd2
9.♖e1 ♗e7 10.h3 O-O 11.♘bd2 cxd4 12.exd4 ♘b4 13.♗b1 ♗b5 14.♘e5 ♕a6 Draw agreed. Young,A (2381)-Amanov,M (2396)/Chicago 2008
9.♘e5 ♘xe5 10.dxe5 ♘h5 11.♘d2 h6 12.♗e2 ♘xf4 13.exf4 is about equal. Einarsen,K (2106)-Basso,P (2322)/Oslo 2014
9...cxd4 10.exd4 ♘b4 11.♗b1 ♗b5 12.♖e1 ♘d3 13.♗xd3 ♗xd3 is equal. Aspler,G-Ng,G (2080)/Toronto 2004
9...♘h5 10.♗g3 ♘xg3 11.hxg3 ♗e7 12.♖e1 O-O with an equal position. Romi,M-Tartakower,S/San Remo 1930
10.♖b1 Kmoch recommended 10.h3 followed by e4.
10.h3 cxd4 would, however, end white's hopes of advancing the e-Pawn as after 11.♘xd4 ♘xd4 12.exd4 ♗b5 black has fully equalized.
10...O-O 11.♕d1 This prevents 11...Nh5 11...♖fd8
11...♘h5 Black coud get away with this, but it would require accurate play on his part. 12.dxc5
12.♘e5 ♘xe5 13.♗xh7+ is only equal as black's defense is adequate. 13...♔xh7 14.♕xh5+ ♔g8 15.♗xe5 f6 16.dxc5 ♗xc5 17.♗g3 with a completely equal position.
12...♗xc5 13.♘g5 with a promising position although black should be able to defend himself. An interesting line is 13...g6 14.♘xh7 ♖fd8
14...♔xh7 loses after 15.♕xh5+ ♔g8 16.♗xg6 fxg6 17.♕xg6+ ♔h8 18.b4 ♗e7 19.b5 ♕d8 20.bxc6 wins for white.
15.b4 ♗e7 16.♗g5 ♖e8 17.♗xe7 ♖xe7 18.♕g4 ♘e5 with equal chances.
12.♘e5 ♘xe5 13.dxe5 ♘e8 14.♕h5 f5 15.♖fe1 The purpose of this move is to avoid the threatened exchange of light squared Bs after ...Bb5. Kmoch describes the move as entirely erroneous and recommended 15.exf6. To describe 15.Rfe1 as entirely erroneous is entirely erroneous. The position is still completely even. (15.exf6 ♘xf6 16.♕e2 followed by e4 with about an even game.) 15...♗b5 16.♗c2 ♕a6 17.♖a1 ♗d3 18.♗d1 As Kmock said, in attempting to preserve his B white falls into a woeful position. (18.♗xd3 ♕xd3 19.♘f3 with fully equal chances.) 18...♕b6 19.♘b3 a5 Also good is 19...c4 20.Nd4 Qxb2, etc. 20.♗f3 ♗e4 Kmoch wrote that white's efforts to preserve his B have proven fruitless, but now Rubinstein is in no hurry because the exchange cannot be avoided. That is not quite correct! 21.♖e2
21.♗e2 ♘c7 22.♘d2 ♕xb2 23.♘xe4 fxe4 24.c4 and black is better, but white's position is far better than after 21.Re2
21...♘c7 22.♖d2 a4 23.♘c1 g6 24.♕h3 ♔h8 Kmoch gave this a1 and wrote that it prepares immediate destruction by ...g5. Again, that is not totally correct.
24...g5 at once allows white back in the game after 25.♗xg5 ♗xg5 26.♕g3 h6 27.h4 ♔h7 28.hxg5 ♖g8
24...d4 is the move that results in immediate destruction! 25.exd4 cxd4 26.cxd4 ♘d5 27.♗h6 ♗b4 28.♖d1 a3 29.♘d3 ♗xd3 30.♖xd3 axb2 31.♖b1 ♖c2 is winning for black.
25.♕h6 White is at a loss for a decent continuation.
25.♘e2 Black is also winning after this. 25...g5 26.♗g3 d4 and now the best line is 27.♗xe4 dxc3 28.♖xd8+ ♖xd8 White has no satisfactory move. 29.♘xc3 (29.♗f3 c2 30.♖f1 ♖d1 31.♗h5 g4 traps the Q) 29...♕xb2 30.♖f1 ♕xc3
25.♗h6 is relatively best, but after 25...a3 26.bxa3 ♘b5 27.♖b2 ♕c6 black is much better.
25...♗xf3 26.gxf3 g5 Rubinstein's play is ruthless. 27.♗g3 d4 28.exd4 f4
28...cxd4 is also very good. 29.cxd4 ♖xd4 30.♖xd4 ♕xd4 31.♘e2 ♕xb2
29.♘e2 fxg3 30.hxg3 ♕c6 31.♕h5 ♖f8 32.♔g2 ♕e8 33.♕g4 ♕g6 34.♖h1 c4
34...cxd4 is less effective as after 35.♖xd4 b5 36.b3 white has some play.
35.♕e4 Hoping Rubinstein trades Qs. 35...♔g7 Very good.
35...♕xe4 36.fxe4 and white's P mass in the center offers him some hope of generating counterplay.
36.♕xg6+ hxg6 37.♖dd1 (37.f4 gxf4 38.♘xf4 ♗g5 wins) 37...a3 38.bxa3 ♘d5 followed by ...Ra8 and black is winning.
36...♘d5 37.g4 ♖xf3 According to Kmoch this is a bold and beautiful combination. Unfortunately, these days engines prove it to be otherwise. Against correct defense this move leaves black only slightly better.
37...♕f7 This is not as pretty, but it leaves white totally helpless. 38.♖h3 ♖b8 39.♕d7 a3 40.b4 cxb3 41.axb3 ♖xb3 42.♕a4 ♖xc3 43.♘xc3 ♘f4+ 44.♔h2 ♘xh3 with an easy win.
38.♕xc8 After this blunder black's last move rendered completely successful.
38.♔xf3 ♖f8+ 39.♔g2 ♕e4+ 40.♔g1 ♖f3 41.♕d7 ♕xg4+ 42.♘g3 a3 black has a won game, but white has avoided immediate disaster.
38...♕e4 39.♔g1
39.♘g3 doesn't change the outcome. 39...♖xg3+ 40.♔xg3 ♕f4+ 41.♔g2 ♕xd2 42.♕b7 a3 43.bxa3 ♕xc3 Black has a winning game.
39...♘e3!40.♘g3 This allows a mate in 11, but white was lost anyway. 40...♖xg3+ The finishing sacrifice. 41.fxg3 ♕b1+ 42.♔f2
42.♔h2 ♘xg4+ 43.♔g2 ♕e4+ 44.♔g1 ♕e1+ 45.♔g2 ♕xd2+ 46.♔h3 ♘e3 47.♕f8+ ♗xf8 48.♖g1 g4+ 49.♔h4 ♗e7+ 50.♔h5 ♕h2#
42...♘xg4+ 43.♔e2
43.♔g2 ♕e4+ 44.♔g1 ♕e1+ 45.♔g2 ♕xd2+ 46.♔h3 ♘e3 47.♕f8+ ♗xf8 48.♖g1 g4+ 49.♔h4 ♗e7+ 50.♔h5 ♕h2#
43...♕e4+ Marshall resigned. A forceful game by Rubinstein.
43...♕e4+ 44.♔d1 ♕xh1+ 45.♔e2 ♕g2+ 46.♔e1 ♕g1+ 47.♔e2 ♕f2+ 48.♔d1 ♕f1+ 49.♔c2 ♘e3#
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