Personal Mona Lisa of GM Isaac Kashdan

  • GM Gserper
  • | Jan 26, 2014

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:



  • 3 years ago


    I like how in the 1st game black converts his positional advantage into a material one, giving him a winning endgame. Sometimes, I'll work vigourously for a positional edge and then run out of steam, without pulling the trigger.All it takes is one wrong move and your sacrifice dies. A very interesting game, indeed. The last game was one of the coolest wins I've seen in a while. Fantastic idea!

  • 3 years ago


    Prakharr - Qf3+ Kxf3 and no stalemate as the h1 square is free

  • 3 years ago



  • 3 years ago


  • 3 years ago


    Qf3 Kxf3! So the black King have the h1 field.

  • 3 years ago


    In the last game Isaac Kashdan (?) vs. Salomon Flohr (?), black could've played in the end, Qf3 and would've forced a stalemate !!

  • 3 years ago


    Nice article and chess games!

  • 3 years ago

    GM Gserper

    Thank you batgirl for the great picture!

  • 3 years ago


    I'm glad to see something about Kashdan.  I find that whole era of chess in the USA truly facinating.  Below is a photo (right click/view image for full size) of Kashdan, his wife Helen, Frank and Carrie Marshall with I.A.Horowitz.

    A couple years ago, a member wrote this nice little blog article on Kashdan which also includes his game vs Salo Flohr.

  • 3 years ago

    NM aww-rats

    Isaac Kashdan founded the picture chess Magazine "Chess Review" in 1932 with IM Al Horowitz. It merged with USCF's Chess Life magazine in 1969 and was known for a contracted duration as Chess Life and Review. Isaac directed tournaments into the 1970s (Including the Louis Statham super GM Lone Pine events I believe)and was active writing a chess column for the LA Times every Sunday. I met him a few times. He was easily approachable, very congenial. Perhaps his most famous game is vs. Stoltz in the 1928 Olympics, at least the endgame; it's in all the prominent anthologies. Kashdan proves the Bishop beats the Knight in an open position with pawns on both sides of the board. The opening moves were lost for years, but his son found them and had them published. A few intersting tactics were threatened before the key postion was reached at Black's 28th move.

  • 3 years ago


    very good

  • 3 years ago


    All say take back to nigt from minecraft

  • 3 years ago


    immortal games comes from oppenent's small mistakes. But at the end there is a proof.

  • 3 years ago


    thank you nice game versus flohr an endgame specialist. caro kann opening theme evident there in nimzovich variation 

  • 3 years ago


    ترجمه فارسی این مقاله در اینجا

  • 3 years ago


  • 3 years ago


    Loved that first game, very very sharp with major tension right through to the end of the game.  The complexity of the positions yielded brilliant piece coordination.  Wish we'd seen a game like this in the world championship this year!

  • 3 years ago



    from his wiki - Kashdan would have been U.S. champion in 1942, but lost out to Reshevsky when the Tournament Director, L. Walter Stephens, scored Reshevsky's time-forfeit loss to Denker as a win instead.

  • 3 years ago


    Nice article.. Thanks

  • 3 years ago


    TQ SIR

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