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Barmen 1905. The Battle for the Master Title.

Barmen 1905. The Battle for the Master Title.

Jun 29, 2017, 8:22 AM 12

The above sketch is to be found here.  http://jewishchesshistory.blogspot.co.uk/2010/01/akiba-rubinstein-in-etching-in-david.html  with due aknowledgement.


On one of kamalakanta's posts - here - https://www.chess.com/blog/kamalakanta/the-rubinstein-polgar-connection    I mentioned about Rubinstein gaining the title of master in 1905.  having an hour to spare, I will follow up on that thought, before i forget all about it!!

He did so at the Barmen Congress of 1905. I will come back to this particular event many times over time. It was, in my opinion, the greatest gathering of chess talent ever assembled. as I say, I will come back to it. Without doubt, the whole congress was extraordinary. Lasker - the only one of the world Champions remotely active at the time - was in the USA, and could not participate. Without his inclusion, and that of Tarrasch, it would have been impossible to have so many chess legends in one place. 

The book of the congress is incredible, to say the least. In my opinion, and I have a few in my library, it is the greatest tournament book ever produced, and then some. 640 pages.  There is nothing like it in the whole of chess bibliophilia. A scan of the competitors in the 4 main tournaments. Hopefully those interested will be able to explore it properly.



The German chess system had a thing called the Hauptturnier. These were very important events which were run alongside their main tournaments, with the winner being awarded the 'Master' title. Tarrasch and Lasker were among the previous winners. At Barmen, there were so many players  fighting for such an opportunity that two Haupturniers were played. One was  not so strong - The forgotten Shories won it, after a play off with a young Tartakower . that was 'Hauptturnier B'.

Hauptturnier A was a seriously tough event, and is where Rubinstein gained the Master title. Apart from three players who were later to become participants in major tournaments - Gajdos , Leopold Lowey, and Erich Cohn -, three players of major historical importance took part. Rubinstein, Oldrich Duras, and the remarkable Milan Vidmar. Having studied all 3 of them in some depth, You can take my word on it that they were wonderful players.

In the end a ferocious battle for the master title ended with Rubinstein and Duras facing off in a four game play off. sadly, after one game, Rubinstein was unable to continue - having received a telegram from his family. Duras generously agreed to break of the match as a draw, and both players were awarded the title.

Vlastimil Fiala, in Quarterly for Chess History 11, in his works on Duras, has devoted over 100 pages to the event, and I quote his cross table, with due aknowledgement and thanks.

nullI will give the games between the three main protagonists, plus one game from the event from each. Have added one each  of Loewy's, and Cohn, plus a couple of images scanned from the tournament book. Time constraints preclude my adding notes. Apologies!!


Vidmar tried too hard to beat one of his rivals, and paid the price,

nullThere is no photo of Vidmar in the tournament book that I can see. this one is from 4 years later.



The one game played in the play-off match is remarkable one!




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