Andor Lilienthal. Champions' Friend. Friendships Champion.

Andor Lilienthal. Champions' Friend. Friendships Champion.


Afternoon everyone. Yes, it's been a while! Been busy, and in the current situation, I am glad to be able to say that. At least the bills are getting paid!!

Time is pressing, so writing everything straight off the top of my head, with apologies if it is a bit shambolic!!

Last time round, I wrote a little on Alexander Kotov. Putting away the relevant books I noticed that I had three game collections - just along the shelf - on one of my favourite players, Andor Lilienthal.

You just have to love this guy!!! I have a Russian games collection. One in Hungarian - his own work at around 90 years of age - 

which is a magnificent book, even though I don't actually speak Hungarian!! And a rather dodgy, but nonetheless useful, English book, derived from the Hungarian one.

That one is 'Lilienthal's  Hundred Best Games. With the sub-title, 'Champions Friend. Friendship's Champion'. A fitting title, I think.

When he died, he was the World's oldest Grandmaster, and was loved by everyone! For example, he was invited to the Kramnik - Leko match, and in his 90's gave a lecture for the Lasker society on his memories of that great chess figure.

What can I say briefly before getting to some chess? Lilienthal had an extraordinary life and career. Eletem A Sakk is his own account, and early on you get a list of all the legendary chess cafes that he played in, and learned his craft. After the legendary 1936 Moscow Tournament, he made the sensible decision - like Lasker and Flohr - to stay in the Soviet Union, rather than risk the fate of Szabo, for example, and return to his home country of Hungary.

A truly romantic figure, he had the looks of an early Hollywood film star.

A quick pair of pictures to illustrate the point.

Lilienthal, in 1934, I think, via chessbase.

And the legendary Douglas Fairbanks Sr.

LOADS of great Lilienthal pictures about, so feel free to post any favourites in the comments.

So, lets go look at some chess. Notes - much edited by me - by the man himself.

Firstly, the 'fun game' that I like to include in these articles, showing Lilienthal in coffee-house mode.

In the new year, I think, he played his most famous game. Not many beat the great Capablanca. Lilienthal not only beat him, but did so in style, and wrote his name into chess history.

A picture that I have, dated from that year, but it may have been taken earlier. I have at least one photo of him playing at that event, but have mislaid it!

Lilienthal had to demonstrate that game many times - it was always the one that chess lovers wanted to see! A case in point, for which I don't have the details. Sorry!

A couple of years later he won a memorable battle against the legend that was Lasker. Lasker was old at the time, and seriously struggled with the tournament conditions, but he was still the supreme fighter!! Coming off a loss, he went all out for the win, and what a battle ensued!!

No kidding!!
In the sporting sense, Lilienthal's best result was in the 1940 Soviet Championships.

Not so shabby, was he! Along the way, he utterly crushed Botvinnik - a result that led to a special tournament being organised in 1941, for the 'Absolute' USSR Championship.

A picture from the event - via the inimitable @Spektrowski. I don't know the game - it may be from his crucial win over Bondarevsky -  but Salo Flohr is the onlooker.

Another photo from the event that is relevant. Co-winner Bondarevsky, against Botvinnik.

To link to the next game I have a photo from the english language book mentioned. The circumstances are not given, but it must be from either the 1940 tournament, or the one in 1941. help wanted!!

Time for one more game - so many to choose from!! Seriously, go buy one of the books - Lilienthal's chess is an absolute joy to study. Had to pick one post-war, and chose this one ahead of his 1950 World Title cycle brilliancy prize winner, just because I like it!! The great romantic takes on the 'coffee house player' at his own game, and comes badly unstuck.

A couple of nice pictures to finish with.

Taken at the Great Wall of China. No date given, from the English language book..Probably 1963.

Lilienthal at his best, taken during the 1940 USSR Championships.