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The Strongest Player You've Never Heard Of?
A mystery chess player.

The Strongest Player You've Never Heard Of?

From time to time I learn about strong players from the past that are generally forgotten now.

I wrote about one such player in this old article. Today I would like to talk about another master who is pretty much forgotten today.

Have you heard the name of Rudolf Pitschak? I hadn't until very recently. Yet, according to the Chessmetrics website, at his prime (Feb. 1935) Rudolf Pitschak was #79 in the world. To give you an idea what that means, the famous GM Alexander Morozevich is #79 in the most recent FIDE October rating list!

I learned the name of Rudolf Pitschak by accident. One of my students showed me a game he analyzed recently. Try to find a simple but cute combination:

When I saw the game, I couldn't believe that one of the best players in the world at that time, GM Flohr, could play that badly, and suggested that the game was probably played in a simultaneous exhibition. A quick search showed that the game was played in an international chess tournament and the famous grandmaster Salo Flohr, who was #2 in the world in 1935-36, indeed lost as White in just 17 moves! 

I was intrigued: Who is Rudolf Pitschak, the winner of this game?

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Pitschak | Image via Blogspot. 

It turns out that Rudolf Pitschak was a strong master whose peak results happened in the mid 1930s, but even 20 years later he was a force to reckon with.  Look at the next game where a young Bobby Fischer was very lucky to escape with a draw against Pitschak.

In the following game we can see Pitschak's tactical prowess. After getting himself in trouble by pushing his pawns in front of his king, he managed to complicate things and eventually confused a very experienced chess player and theoretician GM Vasja Pirc:

To be fair, generally Pitschak wasn't a match for the world's strongest players. Look for example at the severe revenge exacted by GM Flohr.

Against lesser opponents, Pitschak produced some fine, instructive games. Look at the nice positional squeeze in the next game.

In one of my articles I explained why pattern recognition is one of the most important skills for any chess player. If you want to improve your chess, I recommend a simple trick. Whenever you read an article about any chess player from the past or present, try to learn at least one pattern that you would be able to use in your games if a similar situation happens.

There is a simple and yet extremely powerful pattern in one of the games by Rudolf Pitschak that we have already analyzed today. If you noticed it, then solving the following quiz is going to be a piece of cake for you.

Ready? Let's start!

Rudolf Pitschak was one of many people who devoted their lives to chess, but today they are almost completely forgotten. I think it would be nice if the chess community remembered from time to time its unsung heroes.

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