An introduction to the Chess Games of Rudolf Charousek. Part One.

An introduction to the Chess Games of Rudolf Charousek. Part One.

Jan 5, 2019, 8:49 AM |

A happy new year to everyone.

Since doing a small blog of puzzles from Charousek games I decided that his games are not so well known, and many of them can not be found outside of book sources - some of which are long since out of print.

So I decided to do a couple of posts, each with a few games, to give an insight into his chess.

Rather than add numerous pictures, I will direct you to a series of 4 youtube posts about him - the second of which you can find here.

First though, the full sketch by Reti, from 'Modern Ideas in Chess'.

''But seldom do we meet with the man who is so child-like, yet so great, as to disregard the sharp edges of reality even when they hurt him.

His dreams for  him are actuallities, he walks straight out towards his goal to which no road leads. On that account, to those who come after him, does his performance seem so incomprehensively simple.

It is a delight to watch a young and gifted chess player. To him have come no sinister experiences; to him continual carping care is foreign. Therefore he loves the attack and the bold sacrifice; for therein lies the shortest way to his ultimate objective.

But that state of things does not last long and through failure he becomes wise. Soon the boldness disappears; we find him more concerned with safety and he gathers in the advantages which come into his hands direct. In that way, the majority of people play.

Here and there we find a player who is not so easily cowed by untoward experiences. He is still rich in plans, but he bears in mind that he is not playing alone. Therefore he is careful and gets to love the ready made roads, at the most improving them. In that way does the master play.

It was otherwise with Charousek. he had to carry out his ideas. He knew no opponent; he only knew his goal. When he ran his head against a wall, he found it's weak points and went right through. Always going straight ahead, his execution appears to us to be most simple. And yet no one could emulate him in this very simplicity.

Is the picture I have just drawn really that of Charousek? No indeed; it is only an ideal, the idealistic picture of a chess master as it floats before my eyes: an ideal to which Charousek perhaps approached.''

O.K. some Charousek games. This first selection is from the period up to the end of his first international tournament. The notes are my own, with variations taken from a number of different sources.

The games are not necessarily his 'best' in the simplistic sense of the word, but they are games that have particularly caught my eye at one time or another.  The first book of his games that I owned was this one.

Then I was lucky enough to get hold of the relevant Magyar Shaktorttonet, and more recently Charuchin's 'Chess Comet Charousek'. Many of the games i give here are not found elsewhere. 

Enjoy the chess!

A big part in Charousek's development as a player was the fact that he had the opportunity to play - in both formal and informal games - against two very strong players before he had competed in an international event.

Geza Maroczy was slightly ahead of him at the time - having won the secondary event at Hastings in 1895, mentioned in my article on Atkins. He would also have benefited from their games - later he became recognized as a very good defender, a skill playing against Charousek would have helped to develop! 

The other player is less well known. Gyula Makovetz. At the time he was the top Hungarian player - winner of the Graz 1890 tournament ahead of the young Lasker. 


 Choosing a game against Makovetz was easy - if I could have back all the time that I have spent trying to understand the next game I could have a nice weekend away somewhere!! And no, I still  don't understand it!!!

Perhaps I will go look at it with a computer engine at some point, and learn how big a patzer I am. It was studying games like this one that made me into a decent analyst, in the days before the phrase 'RED MOVE!!' came into usage, and those skills became redundant. ( nope - I didn't say that to start a debate - the World is as it is.)

It is staggeringly complex, and still baffles me! 

Charousek's first international tournament - Nuremburg 1896 -  wasn't a huge success for him. Nerves and inexperience no doubt played a part in that , although it must be said that it was a VERY strong tournament, and he finished ahead of some fine players. Towards the end he started to find his feet a little, and defeated two of the World elite.

His game against Janowski was a magnificent battle. (Forget all the nonsense that bad writers will have you believe about Janowski - he was a fine player. He just struggled against certain opponents. It happens!)

 The final game for this selection is probably Charousek's most famous. It was played in the last round - at which point Lasker - although not in the greatest of form, it must be said, had already wrapped up first prize. Tarrasch, or possibly Schroeder, in the tournament book, comments that he was 'tired from his many wins( not the silly 'he was tired of winning' that I have seen given!!) I look at the game another way - Lasker took the first opportunity to take his young and inexperienced opponent out of 'theory', and put him on his own resources.

Sadly for lasker, the way he did it wasn't actually very good, and his young, inexperienced, opponent WAS very good! The result is a total rout of a World Champion by a player in his first international tournament. 

Lasker and Charousek in the tournament group photograph. Not a great picture, but I am not brilliant at this stuff. If anyone with the tech skills can rework it into sommething better and post it in the comments I will edit it in to the post. Thanks!!!