The Champions' Defense

The Champions' Defense

| 22 | Chess Players

Ernst Franz Grünfeld (or Gruenfeld) was born on the 23rd of November 1893 in Vienna, Austria like many other chess players. He was the seventh of eight children. His father was from Silesia and his mother from Bohemia.
His childhood was very unhappy because of the loss of his left leg, which had to be amputated at the thigh after a bad knee injury, "while the other children played, he could only watch, while others found love he could only sit in solitude "(Hans Kmoch).
He had many psychological problems in education and behavior, apart from financial problems after the death of his protector, the famous patron Albert de Rothschild, president of the Vienna Chess Club, the most famous, prestigious and distinguished of all the clubs of Europe. But, according to Polish historian Tomasz Lissowski, Grünfeld was never rich, but neither poor nor starved.
Grünfeld was so impressed after the World Championship between Lasker and Schlechter in 1910 that he decided to learn chess. He studied intensely, and quickly earned a reputation as a skilled player at the local chess club.
After World War I, he became a professional chess player, although at first he played mainly by correspondence. It was not until the early twenties that Grünfeld appeared among the elite of chess.
His main achievements were first places in Frankfurt CTO. Germany (1923), Merano (1924), Budapest (1926) and third places in Budapest (1921), Toeplitz-Schoenau (1922), Mährisch-Ostrau (1923), Berlin (1926), Berlin (Cafe Koenig, 1928).
He invented the Grünfeld Defence, which at the time was like a chip embedded in the eyes of the classics, because it left White in possession of an ideal pawn center. He introduced it into international play at Vienna 1922, where in his first game with the defense, he defeated future world champion Alexander Alekhine!
The defence was later adopted by a number of outstanding players, including Vasily Smyslov, Viktor Korchnoi and Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov among others. It is good to know and to remember, that the "Game of the Century" between Donald Byrne and 13-year old Bobby Fischer on October 17, 1956, featured this opening!
He was also the leading theoretician of the Alekhine Defence! Then, as was written by Reti "This defence was introduced in practice by Alekhine (...) and therefore bears just his name. But the opening was due in large part to research and analysis by Grünfeld" R. Reti, Masters of the Chessboard.
Grünfeld was married and had a daughter and was awarded the GM title in 1950.
He passed away in Vienna on April 3, 1962 in the hospital Wilhelminenspital, located on Montleartstraße street 37. Apparently the reason for his death was obesity.

Now, let us enjoy some of his finer creations:






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