The Cab Driver Who Knew How to Play Chess

The Cab Driver Who Knew How to Play Chess

| 68 | Tactics

In the beginning of 1980s, a young and promising British international master (let's call him Nigel) played a chess tournament in the Soviet Union. At that point, a tournament in the USSR was the best possible chess school for any chess player, and it was obviously a smart move that further advanced Nigel's career (he became a GM the next year after that tournament).

I remember that in one of his interviews for a Russian chess magazine, Nigel joked that his biggest fear was a cab driver that gave him a ride from the airport would challenge him to a game of chess and beat him! Of course, he was referring to a well known chess joke that any Soviet cab driver played chess better than most of the Western grandmasters.

As they say, there's a grain of truth in every joke. Grandmaster Nicolas Rossolimo was born in 1910 in Kiev (then part of the Russian Empire) and after he eventually moved to New York he took many jobs.

He worked as a cab driver for quite some time too!

During his chess career he beat World Champion Max Euwe as well as candidates Bogoliubow and Bronstein.  Also, he drew Capablanca, Fischer and Smyslov! So, maybe it was Nicolas Rossolimo who started that myth about Russian taxi drivers? Laughing

As far as I know, there are no books about this extraordinary person (who spoke five different languages!), so I strongly recommend you to at least read the Wikipedia entry about Rossolimo.

Today we'll examine his chess heritage.

Even a brief glance at Rossolimo's games reveals that he appreciated the beauty of chess the most. His amazing combinations can be found in many textbooks on tactics. The following combo (which is probably his most famous one) is very difficult to solve. Can you find Rossolimo's amazing idea?

Rossolimo was also a prolific chess composer, which is not surprising since in chess composition it is all about beauty. Can you solve the next puzzle that looks very simple (there is just 6 pieces!)? White plays and wins.

rossolimo via

Rossolimo liked to play his own pet variations in the openings. He preferred the lines that would lead to complicated positions and allowed him to start an attack against the opponent's king. One of these opening sidelines became very popular recently, and is known as the Rossolimo Sicilian.

Here is another funny short game in the Rossolimo Sicilian.

The following amazing game is another example of Rossolimo's creativity. The opening is called Giuoco Piano which is Italian for "quiet game." It turned out to be not so quiet!

If you love crazy attacks and beautiful combinations, study Rossolimo's games. I promise you won't regret it!


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