Personal Mona Lisa of GM Isaac Kashdan

Personal Mona Lisa of GM Isaac Kashdan

| 24 | Tactics

As you might remember, in the "Personal Mona Lisa" series we analyze the best games played by strong chess players who as a rule are not that well known. Of course most of you probably heard about GM Isaac Kashdan thanks to his numerous books and publications, but do you know any chess games he actually played?

I have to confess that I wouldn't be able to remember one single game of this very strong chess player who dominated the US chess scene during the Great Depression years. So, when I was doing research for my article about beautiful checkmates with knights and discovered an absolutely marvelous game played by GM Kashdan, I decided to learn more about him. I recommend you to check the Wikipedia's article about this great chess player, it provides a number of interesting facts. Particularly I was surprised to learn that despite a bunch of very sharp games played by Kashdan, he had the nickname "der Kleine Capablanca" (German for "the little Capablanca") for his positional style of play. Here is one of the games of 'the little Capablanca':

Black's attack was very interesting and unexpected, but I am sure you'll love the following game even more. As a matter of fact, I think it can be compared to the famous Morphy game).

Isaac Kashdan | Image Wikipedia

Kashdan's game could be not that pure as Morphy's masterpiece and yet it has the same key features: in both games the winner used all his pieces for an attack and the checkmate was delivered by the last two remaining pieces. Therefore, I strongly recommend you to analyze Kashdan's game due to its instructive value (notice how he gradually prepared the final assault!). The game is given as a test, so you can compare your attacking skills to der Kleine Capablanca.

Does the fact that White had a draw ruin the combination? Absolutely not! The practical over-the-board game is played by humans not computers and as we all well know, 'to err is human'! If we deny the beauty of the combination on the basis that it was not winning in case the defender played better, then we will lose a good half of Tal's chess heritage! Smile

Yes, Morphy's game is pure and pretty much flawless. But games like this mostly happen against much weaker opponents. Boris Siff wasn't one of them! He proved it many years later by scoring a quick win in the next game:

The game is not of the highest quality, but a win is a win! Can you imagine that Morphy's opponents in his immortal game (the Duke Brunswick and Count Isouard) would be able to beat Morphy at least once out of a hundred games?

Finally, try to find how GM Kashdan finished his game against one of the best players in the world:


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