Three Flags 'Eli'

Three Flags 'Eli'

| 23 | Chess Players

Erich Eliskases born February 15, 1913 in Innsbruck, Austria, was a leading chess player of the 1930s and 1940s who represented Austria, Germany and Argentina in Olympiads! He played for Austria in 1930, 1933 and 1935, for Germany in 1939 and for Argentina in 1952, 1958, 1960 and 1964. He was Austrian Champion in 1929, Hungarian Champion in 1934, and German Champion in 1938 and 1939. Like many colleagues, he was stuck in South America after the Buenos Aires Olympiad because of the outbreak of the Second World War. He eventually became a naturalized Argentine citizen.
In his family, nobody was familiar with the game, so it was just random chance he came into contact with the “King of games”! His college education in Innsbruck and Vienna focused on business studies but it was chess that captured his imagination.
He began to play postal chess from 1928 on and here, too, he was remarkably successful. This vocation proved to be an excellent school for his understanding of the game.
His great breakthrough came in 1932, in a ten-game match with Rudolf Spielmann. After a dramatic fight, Erich Eliskases won with a score of +3 =5 -2, even though Spielmann later declared that his psychological approach to the match had been faulty since he had underestimated his young opponent. Two additional matches between the two players followed, now for the official title of top Austrian player: in 1936 Eliskases won with the score of +2 =7 -1, doing even better in the return-match of 1937 with a +2 =8 -0 score.
In the thirties, he played in many strong tournaments; those were the years of his rise to fame in the international chess community. At Semmering 1937, he had the personal satisfaction of not only having defeated the final winner, the then 21-year-old Paul Keres, but also having outplayed former world champion Jose Raul Capablanca in the Cuban's own field of excellence, the endgame!
About 1938 and 1939, ‘Eli’, as his friends called him, seems to have understood that his style of play was too cautious to strive after greater laurels, and he successfully tried a more aggressive approach, achieving his biggest success at Noordwijk in 1938 by taking first prize, ahead of Paul Keres and Max Euwe. Then followed an incredible run of successes, winning six strong tournaments: the German Championship at Bad Oeynhausen in 1938, Krefeld 1938, the German Championship at Bad Oeynhausen 1939, Bad Elster 1939, Bad Harzburg 1939 and Vienna 1939. In the same year, he played a match against the Russian Efim Bogoljubow, winning with a score of +6 =11 -3.
Eliskases was now regarded as a potential contender for a World Championship encounter with Alexander Alekhine, who spoke out in favor of a match with the Austrian, who had been his second! during his successful attempt to regain the title in the return-match with Max Euwe in 1937.
He was also 1st at Sao Paulo 1941 and 1947, 1st at Mar del Plata 1948, 2nd at Mar del Plata 1948 and 1949, 1st at Punta del Este 1951, 1st at the 1951 South American Zonal and 1st at Cordoba 1959.
Anyway, after Buenos Aires 1939 his results were less convincing since the following years were dominated by the need to survive in a new environment. It should suggice to mention that in 1941, after the tournament of Sao Paulo, he stayed in Brazil working as a bridge teacher!
He was awarded the IM title in 1950 and the GM title in 1952.
Eliskases died on February 2, 1997, in Cordoba, Argentina.
Eliskases belongs to those great masters who never took part in a World Championship match and little by little their names and achievement were forgotten over time!
As a curiosity, I want to add that Eliskases, like Euwe and Keres, defeated both Capablanca and Fischer!







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