Richard Réti (28 May 1889, Pezinok – 6 June 1929, Prague) was an ethnic Jewish, Austrian-Hungarian, later Czechoslovakian chess player, chess author, and composer of endgame studies. His older brother Rudolph Réti was a noted (musical) composer and pianist.
Reti was a large, heavyset man, like “a good-natured black bear”. He was happy when he played chess. “Looking at the board, he almost always smiles at it, as a gourmet regards his favorite dish.”
After World War I he gained first prize in many tournaments. He drew in match play with Savielly Tartakower (in 1919) and defeated the Dutch player and former World Champion Max Euwe (in 1920). In tournament play he was one of the few to defeat Capablanca. He had his greatest early tournament successes in the period 1918 through 1921, in tournaments in Kaschau (Kassa) 1918, Rotterdam 1919, Amsterdam 1920, Vienna 1920, and Gothenburg 1921. His tournament record would have been better had he played as strongly against weaker players has he did against the giants! For some reason he relaxed when faced with an “easy” game and that cost him many a tournaments point.
A great theorist, he was a pioneer of the modern school and wrote about chess brilliantly. His books Die neuen Ideen im Schachspiel 1922 (Modern Ideas In Chess, 1923) and Die Meister des Schachbretts 1930 (Masters of the Chessboard, 1932) have also become classics in the chess world. Reti himself insisted that the hypermoderns were not trying to change the concept of chess. but were rather exploring new ideas in the hope of uncovering a further extension of Steinitzian principle: a stage between the old classicism and the new dynamism.
As a blindfold player, he broke the world record for number of games in 1925 with twenty-nine games played simultaneously. He won twenty-one of these, drew six, and only lost two.
Réti also composed numerous endgame studies.
Reti sadly passed away unexpectedly a week after turning forty from scarlet feverin Prague. He is buried in Vienna in the Zentralfriedhof cemetery, in Section T1, Group 51, Row 5, and Grave 34.