CHESS

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

A QUES­TION fre­quently asked is: “Who was the strong­est player never to be­come world cham­pion?” Ak­iba Ki­welow­icz Ru­bin­stein is prob­a­bly the most prom­i­nent, and tragic, ex­am­ple of a player not to get a chance to face a reign­ing cham­pion.

In his youth, he de­feated top play­ers in tour­na­ments such as fu­ture cham­pion José Raúl Ca­pablanca in 1911 and Carl Sch­lechte, who in 1910 had drawn a match against Emanuel Lasker. Ru­bin­stein was due to play Lasker for the Cham­pi­onship in 1914, but it was can­celled due to the out­break of World War I.

Ru­bin­stein was born in 1880 in Stawiski, Poland, and his fam­ily had planned for him to be­come a rabbi. He learned to play chess at the rel­a­tively late age of 16.

He trained with and played against the strong mas­ter Gersz Salwe in and in 1903, af­ter fin­ish­ing fifth in a tour­na­ment in Kiev, Ru­bin­stein de­cided to aban­don his rab­bini­cal stud­ies and de­vote him­self en­tirely to chess.

Be­tween 1907 and 1912, Ru­bin­stein es­tab­lished him­self as one of the strong­est play­ers in the world. In 1907, he won the Karlovy Vary tour­na­ment and shared first at St Peters­burg.

In 1912 he had a record string of wins, fin­ish­ing first in five con­sec­u­tive ma­jor tour­na­ments: San Se­bas­tian, Pieš any, Bres­lau, War­saw and Vil­nius, al­though nei­ther Lasker or Ca­pablanca com­peted.

Rat­ings from Chess­met­rics place Ru­bin­stein as world No 1 be­tween mid-1912 and mid-1914.

At the time when it was com­mon for the reign­ing cham­pion to hand-pick his chal­lengers, Ru­bin­stein was never given a chance to play Lasker for the cham­pi­onship be­cause he was un­able to raise enough money to meet Lasker’s fi­nan­cial de­mands.

In the St. Peters­burg tour­na­ment in 1909, he had tied with Lasker and won their in­di­vid­ual en­counter. Af­ter the war Ru­bin­stein was still an elite player, but his re­sults lacked their pre­vi­ous con­sis­tency. Nev­er­the­less, he won at Vi­enna in 1922, ahead of fu­ture World Cham­pion Alexan­der Alekhine, and was the leader of the Pol­ish team that won the 1930 Olym- piad at Ham­burg with a record of thir­teen wins and four draws. He also won a silver at the 1931 Chess Olympiad.

To­day Chess WP Blitz fes­ti­val starts at 9 at the Er­swa Cen­tre, 11 Warner Cres­cent, River­ton Es­tate.

Prize fund guar­an­teed: In­di­vid­ual Blitz: 1st: R1 000; Team Blitz: 1st: R1 200

The next big event on the WP cal­en­dar is the DSK, Ger­man School, tour­na­ment on Satur­day 26 Novem­ber. Con­tact Ri­cardo Min­naar: 081 546 2221.

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