My Week In Chess. A Neglected Player and Some Chess Mysteries.

My Week In Chess. A Neglected Player and Some Chess Mysteries.

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Afternoon everyone!

Big article today - despite my best efforts to leave loads of stuff out, so grab a beer and treat it all like a good book!

In the comments last time I mentioned that I must get back to one of my favourite subjects - Hungarian chess history. Around the same time a friend on Twitter posted this picture. Janos Balogh, via the iccf.

justchessminiatures via iccf

A name I know well - he crops up all over the place - and a little bit of a mystery man in his own right.

An article ( edited down) by the premier Hungarian chess historian Ivan Bottlik.

Four Outstanding Hungarian Chess Masters
(born in 1892–1893):
János Balogh, Géza Nagy,
Gyula Breyer and György Négyesy
Well over a century ago, Fortune bestowed a particularly abundant
gift on Hungarian chess: between 10th September 1892 and
10th May 1893, within the short span of nine months, four outstanding
Hungarian masters were born who, with their excellent
competitive results, their multifaceted understanding of the game,
their wide-ranging general knowledge, and their superb qualities as
human beings, left a much valued legacy to the chess tradition of
this country.
Juxtaposing the four careers, those of Dr. János Balogh, Gyula
Breyer, Dr. Géza Nagy and Dr. György Négyesy, with their many
similar – plus a few divergent – features, might be a good way to
survey the contribution of this remarkable quartet.
It should not be seen as overly pedantic when one points out
that surnames such as Balogh and, even more, Nagy, are quite common
in Hungary. It is enough to bring up names, such as the late
Master Béla Balogh or the still active International Master Dr. Ervin
Nagy, to show how the omission of given names could create
confusion when attempting correctly to identify the person under
Balogh and Négyesy, both having sustained injuries in the First
World War, were involved in the next global conflict as well, if only
as prisoners of war; yet one of them lived to be eighty-eight, the
other ninety-nine. Nagy was active as an army surgeon in World
War I, dying at the age of 60. Breyer was not called up. In addition
to gaining exemption as a university student, he had been diagnosed
with a severe heart ailment, thus escaping the war’s inferno. Ironically,
of the four he was granted the shortest life span, dying at
the tender age of 28.
All four were excellent chess writers. Unfortunately, only a small
portion of the writings of Balogh and Négyesy was translated into
world languages, while virtually nothing from the output of Nagy
and Breyer is available in foreign editions.
Breyer did not live long enough to participate in the increasingly
popular international team competitions of the Twenties and Thirties.
Négyesy took part with the Hungarian team in the 1926 Pre-
Olympics, followed by other international contests. Nagy was a
member of two gold winning Olympic teams (1927 and 1928),
while Balogh played for Romania in the Pre-Olympics and in three
subsequent Olympiads, but only managed to win a gold medal once
he rejoined the Hungarian team, in 1936.
All four attended university, Balogh and Négyesy graduating with
diplomas of jurisprudence, Nagy with a medical diploma, while Breyer
gained an engineering degree. Since they made their living from,
and dedicated themselves to the service of, their professions, it is
not surprising that they remained amateur chess players. They were
highly cultured men who could speak fluently at least one other
language. All four were strong masters over the board, Breyer actually
attaining world class level.
Négyesy was not only a strong correspondence player; his contribution
as an organizer and leader in this field was even more significant.
Nagy was one of the best Hungarian »long-distance« competitors,
and Balogh was numbered among the world’s best in this
I have been fortunate to have, one way or another, acquired a
kind of personal knowledge of all of them. There are no other living
players or writers today who would have, both by direct contact
and by studying their writings and games, built up as intimate
an acquaintance with Dr. Négyesy and Dr. Balogh as I have. I played
a draw against both of them. In the case of the already aging
Négyesy, during the course of a Hungarian team championship and
against Balogh in the 1960-62 individual correspondence championship
from which he emerged as champion, I as runner-up.

He represented two countries in over the board Olympiads - Romania and Hungary.

A game from his days as a Romanian found it's way into one of my old reference books.

Dr Balogh as part of the Hungarian 10 man team for Munich 1936.

Barca. Elite es Jatsmai.

So this weeks first little mystery - why the nationality change? I assumed it was part of the geopolitical changes which involved Charousek - Hungarian - being adopted by Romania. Indeed, that makes sense when you look into Balogh's place of birth and it's complex history.   

However, some further digging turned up something intriguing! The wonderful book ICCF Gold

has a fascinating paragraph.

''When Hungary lost two-thirds of her thousand year old territory in the Treaty of Paris ( 1920), so many excellent chess players and organisers became new citizens of neighbouring countries. For example, Dr Mayer, Dr. Brody, Dr. Balogh ( who repatriated from Transylvania to Budapest in 1934 ) and Dr Vecsey ( who repatriated from Czechoslovakia to Budapest in 1934.)''

Also - to add to the confusion we have - pre Treaty of Paris - the Deutsche Schachzeitung list of the participants at Kassa/Kaschau in 1918.

Indeed, Balogh is best remembered as the major figure in Hungarian Correspondence chess for many years. he took part in the IFSB tournaments - the precursors of the World Championships as both a Romanian and a Hungarian. ( back to that later!) Post war he took part in the first three iccf World Championship finals. As board 1 for Hungary he won team gold in the first c.c. Olympiad ( a small event ) and silver in the second, with a plus score in both events. Decent c.v.!!

Let's look at some chess. I have limited my choices - many more interesting games to be found out there!!

One against a well known c.c. figure - sadly I have mislaid the relevant photo. Fascinating game with a surprise finish!

Even I know nothing about his opponent in this next game! Will have to dig at some point. This game must have been hard work, and the endgame is one to study.

Before that is reached, however, imagine yourself in Black's position, opening the envelope to find White's incredible 23rd move!! It looks like a clerical error, but in fact it is just a brilliant conception. Wow!

I DO know about his opponent in this next game from the same tournament!! A fascinating chess figure and story in his own right. Volf Bergraser.

He was born in what is now the Ukraine - at the time a part of the 'Russian Empire' - and ended up in France. One mystery that I haven't had time to look into this week!. For many years the leading French c.c. player, but, like Balogh, was also strong enough in o.b. play to represent his country in 5 Olympiads.

He was twice a c.c. World Championship finalist, and finally - having improved with both age and retirement from his work as a medical doctor - became an iccf G.M. at the age of 77!! As a side note, he was, in the time, the World's leading expert on 'The Scandinavian Defence'.

I also know a bit about Balogh's opponent in this next game. wink. The fourth World Champion. Absolute legend of Soviet c.c.  Such was his status in the USSR that the magnificent Tonu Oim later said that as a correspondence player winning the World championship was probably less of a motivation for him than surpassing the great Prof. Zagorovsky!!

A couple of nice pictures via

And that brings us to another mystery!

This week I received a copy of a book which I will come back to next time - won't give the game away here!

Wonderful book, with some amazing pictures from the Konstantinopolsky family archives ( my regular readers will know about him!wink)

One is this.

Rights reserved - reproduced with the kind permission of the publishers.

I think I can name the mystery figure, centre of picture. 90% sure it is the long time iccf delegate Heikki Brusila.

Another picture - likewise rights reserved - from the book. How can I not like this one!!

I think I have identified the tournament.

And Hercule Poirot gets back to some chess!! Two games came to mind at once when Balogh's name came up. The first one is a spectacular over the board loss against Laszlo Szabo.

Griffin on twitter.

No time to transcribe Szabo's wonderful notes, but I have included his analysis.

While I am there, another game - utter madness - between the two. No notes, so you can do another of my 'annotate it yourself without an engine' challenges. Have fun!!

And another little picture mystery. This one can be found as being taken at St Leonards on Sea, Sussex. I reckon that it is taken from a newspaper source - probably the Hastings and St. Leonards Observer, and was actually taken at nearby Hastings, but I am open to being corrected!.

Szabo and Julius(!?) Kluger. 1957.

And incoming!! Some lightning quick work from the inimitable Richard James. Thanks mate!!

And on to Balogh's best known game. A minor mystery here as well, which I haven't been able to solve! It is from this IFSB tournament.

Yes, the table is correct. The player at the bottom with half a point is indeed the great Paul Keres - who was also the defending champion!! My guess is that being rather busy climbing to the top of the chess world at that point

Keres from the photos of his incredible triumph at Semmering 1937

he simply withdrew from the tournament. However, the game in question must have taken some considerable time with the postal system at that time, and is played to a finish. How did that happen? No idea!! Enjoy the game.

Wiener Schachzeitung 1929. pg 211. The Romanian Balogh!