Rubinstein at The FIDE Grand Swiss!! Echoes From the Past.

Rubinstein at The FIDE Grand Swiss!! Echoes From the Past.


Yep, it's a strange sounding title! All will be revealed.

I know that of late a couple of my young friends have been studying Rubinstein - and that is no bad thing. He is absolutely one of the best players to study from the pre - 1939 era.

Everyone - even elite 2700  class players -  can learn from his games.

In the current I.O.M. event there have been a couple of endgames - involving the very best


-  that have caused some head scratching amongst the online crowd, who have been leaping into the tablebases to find the answers. That's the modern World, and the tablebases are great, in my view. Wonderful tools. However,  in the modern era - with no adjournments - they are no help to the players at the board. 

There you need the knowledge!

What better, and more enjoyable, way to accumulate that knowledge than by studying the games of one of the greatest of all chess artists? A player so deep and profound that his contemporaries - even the greatest of them - treated him with a kind of reverent awe.

I don't do the 'Greatest, Strongest, Best', ever kind of lists. Trying to compare across eras is a purely subjective exercise, where everyone is influenced by their own 'favourites'. On cricinfo there is a statistician who is trying to do that, with a mass of criteria, weightings and number crunching, who is throwing up his hands, saying to those who ague with his numbers 'that's just what the numbers say!!'

However, as someone who loves endgames and has studied - in some depth - all the great players, I will say this. If you put a difficult endgame on the board and asked me to pick any player from history to get the best possible result from it to save my life, my gut reaction would be to get  Rubinstein on my side..

So, lets go look at some chess endgames! Not everyone's cup of tea, but if you want to win chess games you need  to study them.

First up, a wonderful game between Luke McShane Luke Mcshane. One of the more recent 'Barden Babes'.

and the World number two. Both fabulous talents.

Luckily I was able to follow it 'live'. I will give the bare score, but insert a couple of relevant  comments of my own.

 I don't know if Fabio has ever studied Rubinstein, but he knows his stuff!

So. two relevant Rubinstein games. Firstly the drawing technique if you remove the King's-Side pawns. Note that the remaining Bishop and Pawn are on different coloured squares - that matters!!

And on to Rubinstein on the other side of a similar - but more difficult - position   , against a player who played a big part in his development as a chessplayer.

Salwe. via wikipedia.

This was quite possibly the first ending of it's type in the history of the game!! It has been hugely studied as a result, and the tablebases has forced a rethink on the published analysis. To reiterate - Rubinstein, with no theory or computers to work with, had to figure all this out for himself whilst the game was in progress, and won the game. He was special!

I will add a couple of later discoveries - he did not play it all perfectly - but before you criticize, put the positions on the board and work things out for yourself! A magnificent achievement on Rubinstein's part, in my opinion..

O.K. As a break from the heavy theoretical debates, a lighter  interlude. There is an article here about an unusual situation ( strangely, I had mentioned my preparing for that whole opening line in an  article recently!)

There are many, many instances on record of two or more games following the same opening line at the same time, but Rubinstein was involved - as here, sitting on the next board - in a strange version of that phenomena!!

Next to him was the wonderful Freddie Yates - seen here in an unclear but wonderful group picture of  the 1913 BCF championships. he is right of picture, in front of someone that I have posted on before -  Reginald Pryce Michell, with the  great Sir George Thomas also in picture, amongst others. You may have to go through the 'right click' 'save as' and expand procedure to see it properly. Apologies for my lack of computer skills - too old for this stuff!

BCF 1913. via John Saunders.

Strangely, the position at move 12 arose - in both games, but via totally different move orders - whilst they were sitting next to each other!!  And, because of the move orders, there is a one move difference.

And finally on to an endgame won by the present World Champion.

I was amazed that there was any debate at all  on this one! Carlsen said afterwards that he had known this ending since childhood. The extraordinary genius that was Philidor - I am lucky enough to have seen the famous sculpture of him in Paris over 40 years ago, I think.

did a beautiful analysis of the position - properly explained in words! Go to google books to find it for yourself. You will learn a lot. Magnus knows his stuff too.

O.K. So you have just spent some time studying your Philidor, and you are smiling to yourself wondering how people were questioning if it was a win or not. 

Where does Rubinstein come in, you ask yourselves - if you are of he disposition to ask such questions! 

Luckily I am here to give the answer  to my own question!!

Rubinstein was faced with this ending once, but in a much tougher form. One where he had one less file for his King. In endgames  - as noted earlier - having one extra file to put your King on can be the difference between a win and a draw.

He managed to win such a position from one of the great endgame experts and study composers, who is also one of my favourite chess writers.

If you have never read Reti's writing on chess you should go do so. even in the modern chess world, you  will learn a lot, Sparse notes here - time for bed!! Thanks for joining me, and I genuinely hope that you have learned something.

Take care 'til next time.