The Amateur Who Crushed Alekhine.

The Amateur Who Crushed Alekhine.


Happy Easter everyone.

Here's a thought. If Carlsen had been born 100 years earlier, would anyone have ever heard of him?

Quite possibly not. Before WW11 pretty much all the great players developed in the important centers of chess life - Berlin, London, New York, Vienna, Havana, etc, etc. (Sultan Khan is one exception that comes to mind. He was already strong  when he came  to England)

Modern technology has changed the game, and gives opportunities that could not have been dreamed of in earlier times. It is now perfectly possible to become World class, and play thousands of games, without leaving your house or even buying a chess set. I think the resulting globalization of chess is a great thing.

I will freely admit to being envious of young players growing up in the game today.

Back in 1912, Sweden hosted the Summer Olympics - today mostly remembered for the story of Jim Thorpe.  Hence the header photograph. In the same Summer, there was a chess tournament there, won by this young man, in his students uniform - Alexander Alekhine. ( Thanks to @RoaringPawn for the usable image!)

He won the tournament convincingly enough, as the cross table shows.

He also played some fine chess! In his  first 'My Best Games' volume, you will find his wins from round 2 - against Marco, and from round 4, against Erich Cohn.

In the round between those games, he was up against an obscure Swedish amateur. This man.

Joel Fridlizius. The result was the game that won the Brilliancy Prize, of 100 k. but it wasn't Alekhine who won it!!

I have transcribed the notes from this rather nice book.

which are based on those in Wiener Schachzeitung - presumably by Marco.

So who was Fridlizius? Well, you won't find a lot about him in English language sources, and I don't speak Swedish!! He was known as both a problem composer, and as a correspondence player ( although megacorr has just 5 c.c. games) has this brief material:-

The Alekhine game was not the only brilliancy prize that he won. He was awarded one for this gem of a c.c. game. For a long time, only the finish was known, until the full score made it into the databases courtesy of my copy of Colljin's Larobok, (the story of how I came by it is a moving one for me, and can be found here. ) from which I have taken the variations given by Fridlizius.

A handful of games, from the very few available.

Firstly, a bit of fun.

Two games from 1909 -  having trouble with the software which gets a bit temperamental loading game dates and I don't know how to get round it!
Wiener Schachzeitung reports the result, although sadly without a photograph. If anyone finds an image in Swedish sources from the time - Tidskrift for Schak for example - I would be grateful to see it!

In the 1912 event, he also beat Spielmann - although he was rather gifted the win by a huge blunder, but the finish is pretty.

He also pulled off a huge swindle, against a player who was quite well known. Gustav ( or Gustaf) Nyholm.

In exchange for any photographs tendered, here is one, including Nyholm, that I have not seen on the internet. The Swedish Olympiad team from 1927, as given in the relevant Chess Pie.

And finally a c.c. game, with an ending that is both relevant to modern day players, and is, in my opinion - I like endgames! - rather beautiful. The name of his opponent will be recognized by my friend @UAArtur !! Perhaps one day I will persuade him that endgames can be beautiful too!

 A final thought - if Fridlizius had been born 100 years later, would we have heard of him, and be following his games on the internet? What would he have become in chess terms under different circumstances?