That was Klaus Junge. 1/1/1924 - 17/4/1945.

That was Klaus Junge. 1/1/1924 - 17/4/1945.

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Morning everyone! I am back and trying to post something that I hope will be of interest.

In my post on Anderssen's games in the Sicilian, I drew one of my chess evolution comparisons between Anderssen and Klaus Junge. Junge is one of what I term 'The Forgotten', so this post is dedicated to Owen Hewitt Dampier - Bennett, whose grave at Abberly now has some flowers.

Before I start. two points.

1. This post is not as I had intended - lack of time! So I have not gone into the biographical stuff, or included all the tournament tables, etc. They can be found easily enough on the internet, although some of that material may not be 100% accurate!! I will concentrate on what I do - vis, study chess players, and try to understand their place in chess evolution, and how they played within their own era.

2. Junge was a Nazi officer. I loathe and detest anti-semitism, (and all other intolerances) However, we can not understand the situation he was in at the time, how could we?, and it does not affect his standing in chess history 1 iota. Therefore any comments on that subject will be deleted. End of debate.

Let us begin!

Klaus Junge was born into a chess playing family in Chile. His father is mentioned in a couple of articles on Edward Winter's site. The family migrated to Germany, when Junge was a boy, to Hamburg. It was quickly obvious that he was a rare talent.

I have seen things written to the effect of 'Junge was one of the 3 strongest 18 year olds the World had seen up to that time, along with Botvinnik and Szabo. Let me try to put that into context. Chess is a knowledge based game. As knowledge has increased, modern information technology has evolved, and information, in all fields,  has become more easy to access, the biological age at which players develop has decreased. The likes of De Vere and Bird were considered extraordinary in being able to compete with the best in the World while in their early 20's!! As a subjective comparison, I would place Junge along side the likes of Carlsen at a similar stage of development ( I was friendly with Carlsen's first chess coach, and he was very young when we talked about him being a future World Champion.)

In the space of 2 years, he went from playing on a low board for Hamburg in team events, to fighting for the national championship, and then, within 2 years, was strong enough to beat the World Champion, and be a major player in the World sense - The World being as it was at the time. He died 3 weeks before the end of WW11, killed in action. Had circumstances been different, who knows what he may have achieved.

He had a pretty universal playing style. When  I first started to study him seriously, through this book, ( Hence the title of this post!) 


I was staggered at how 'modern' his opening play was. In particular, the semi-slav/Botvinnik system complex, and Scheveningen Sicilian structures were part of his opening repertoire, and he played them, despite his youth, and the lack of material to draw on at the time, with great understanding. He was Playing 'The Botvinnik System' in 1938. Without going through a mass of material, the earliest I can think of that Botvinnik himself played the line was 1943.

He was at home in both quiet strategical battles, and tactical dogfights. Like many exceptional talents, he was totally at home in the endgame - as you will see from some of the games that I will give. 


This photo is from, I believe, a week long training session under the tutorlidge of Willi Schlage, for the best young chess talent in Germany at the time. Unzicker's memories of the ocassion are to be found online if you wish to look them up. A game - won by Unzicker against Junge - is known, along with the following position, and the story surrounding it.


The following game was a significant one in Junge's meteoric rise to the top. It was the key game in the seventeen year old's qualification for the finals of the German Championship.


Junge's first game in the Finals.

The header photograph is from this event.

Schachmeisterschaft von Großdeutschland, Klaus Junge. (Hamburg, 17 Jahre) gegen Pfeiffer (Berlin, 18 Jahre) Grüne Post 37. 1941.


The following crosstables are taken from this book - the most recent and authoratative of the three on Junge.




As you can see, Junge finished  in a tie for first place with Paul Felix Schmidt. Schmidt was a fine player, and a fascinating story in himself. A few months later, Schmidt won the play-off match by 31/2-1/2.

This result saw Junge invited to take part in the second 'General Government Championship'.

These events - there were five in all - were held in occupied Poland, under the Patronage of Hans Frank.

For a young man, still three months short of his eighteenth birthday, to take part in a tournament alongside the World Champion must have been a daunting prospect. However, when you study Junge's games, it is clear that he was a player with confidence in his own abilities, and he did rather well! He finished in fourth place, undefeated, drew with the World Champion, and his third round game against Mross won the third Brilliancy Prize!!



 Two rounds later, the players had moved venue, and the seventeen year old was facing the World Champion - one of the greatest players who has ever lived. Despite his circumstances at the time, Alekhine could still play! He won the tournament, along with the first Brilliancy Prize. Junge, despite his youth, was not intimidated, and a great battle resulted.

 The next game is from a small event that Junge - now all of 18 years of age - won, shortly after his match with Schmidt.


Two photographs exist that were taken during the following game.



Soon afterwards, Junge got the chance to play the World Champion for the second time.

 The following game won a brilliancy prize. I have spent a lot of time on it - even using computer assistance - but still don't understand it fully!



Junge's last tournament, before heading off to the front line, was Prague 1942. There he showed that he had graduated to being truly world class by tying for first with Alekhine.

Ludek Pachman, who was there, telss the story in his book 'Decisive Games'. Junge was leading by a full point going into the last round, where he had Black against the World Champion. Alekhine produced arguably the best of his wartime games, winning a stunning brilliancy to tie for first.


Junge was killed in action, just three weeks before the end of the war. There are various stories on the subject to be found on the internet. 

A terrible loss to the game of chess. It is probable that the World of top level chess would have taken a different path had he lived.

nullTo finish I will include two of his correspondence games - without notes, so that you can study them for yourself.