'The Saemisch Variation', As Played By Saemisch.

'The Saemisch Variation', As Played By Saemisch.


Openings nomenclature is a strange thing. Often the inventors of opening ideas don't get the credit for them. ( Something that earned the displeasure of Alekhine!)

Friedrich Saemisch has two major opening systems named after him. One of them wasn't his invention!

However, he gets the credit for popularising it in my view. He was an interesting player in his own right. From the mid 1920's he was, for a few years, one of the top dozen players in the World, at a time when there were a lot of fine players around. There is a story that he was on the list of invitees for the great New York 1924 Tournament, for example.

I am lucky enough to have a little book about him.

Strong in different types of position - as you will see - he was also notorious for his almost permanent time trouble. Well, lets have a look at some chess.

The Saemisch Variation of the Nimzo-Indian wasn't actually introduced by him. As Tartakower commented, perhaps it should be called the 'Norman' Variation . It's introduction to the top level was in a game between two players you can find in this picture - from Margate 1923.

The winner - R.P. Michell was a fascinating chess figure in his own right.  

Nice game! So lets have a look at the line in the hands of Saemisch. I will start with one against this player.

Jindrich Engel.

Another image of Engel.

Wiener Schachzeitung. 1932. Page 215.

The next game won the first Brilliancy Prize at the great Carlsbad 1929 Tournament. That event was the greatest success of Nimzovich - a player who did his best to immortalize Saemisch!!  

A rare early picture of Grunfeld other than group pictures. W.S. 1924. page 49.

A couple of days earlier Saemisch played his second most discussed game. There are some players you will read things about like 'never blundered'. We are all human!

Carlsbad 1929. W.S.1929. Page 243.
A fascinating game against this man.
Erik Andersen.
Saemisch has a rush of blood and goes into all out gambit mode.

Before I switch to the other 'Saemisch Variation', I will throw in this one, against Hans Kmoch

W.S. 1925. Page.257.

Just because I like it!

O.K. On to the line in the King's Indian. That one really was introduced by Saemisch!

The game in question was against one of the underestimated pioneers of the King's Indian Defence, Fred Yates. A hard struggle ended in a draw.

Time for three examples of the line in Saemisch's hands.

One where we see the effect of Saemisch's battles with the clock. It is a fascinating game, and shows how thinking had evolved since the Yates game.

Saemisch as he looked at the time of that game - from the Dresden Tournament of 1936, along with the fascinating and tragic figure Ludwig Engels.   

And to round off with, this one. I know nothing about his opponent. The position at move 30 was worth fighting your way to the end of this over-long article for! Two other versions are on Gettyimages and subject to copyright!