Chess Great - Akiba Rubinstein (Intro)


A friend of mine has perked my interest in several different players, one of whom is Akiba Kiwelowicz Rubinstein. The following is just some research that I have found and as you know I like to share what I find.



Akiba Kiwelowicz Rubinstein was a famous Polish chess Grandmaster at the beginning of the 20th century.



He was Jewish, and his family planned for him to become a rabbi, yet he did not finish his studies and chose to devote himself to chess entirely. The decision came in 1903 after he won fifth place at a tournament in Kiev. He had been training with the strong master Gersz Salwe and playing frequently against him.

Rubinstein flourished especially from 1907 to 1912. Beginning from his win at Karlovy Vary in 1907, through a shared win at St. Petersburg in the same year, he culminated it in a record string of wins in 1912. He won five consecutive major tournaments that year: San Sebastian, PiešÅ¥any, Breslau (the German championship), Warsaw and Vilnius (although none of these events included Lasker or Capablanca). Some believe that he was better than world champion Emanuel Lasker at this time. Ratings from Chessmetrics support this conclusion, placing him as world #1 between mid 1912 and mid 1914. Reuben Fine, on the other hand, believed he was not quite as strong as Lasker, and was also eclipsed by José Raúl Capablanca after 1911.

At the time when it was common for the reigning world champion to handpick his challengers, Rubinstein was never given a chance to play Lasker for the world chess championship because he was unable to raise enough money to meet Lasker's financial demands. His plans were damaged by a poor showing at the St. Petersburg in 1914 (not placing in the top five). A match with Lasker was arranged for October 1914, but it never took place because of the outbreak of World War I.

After the war Rubinstein was still an elite grandmaster, but his results lacked their previous formidable consistency. Nevertheless, he won at Vienna in 1922, ahead of future world champion Alexander Alekhine, and was the leader of the Polish team that won the Chess Olympiad at Hamburg in 1930 with a superb record of thirteen wins and four draws. A year later he won an Olympic silver.

After 1932 he withdrew from tournament play, mostly because his schizophrenic tendencies became prevalent; he was suffering from anthropophobia, a fear of people and society. Although he lived for almost 30 years afterwards, he left behind no literary heritage like the other great grandmasters, which may be attributed to his mental problems.

During World War II when the Nazis eventually arrived to haul the aged Jewish grandmaster from his asylum to the death camps, he was so patently insane that they abandoned the attempt.


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