Vsevolod Rauzer. Openings Innovator And One Of The Founders Of The Soviet School Of Chess.

Vsevolod Rauzer. Openings Innovator And One Of The Founders Of The Soviet School Of Chess.

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Good afternoon everyone. I have been on holiday for a week, and took two 'holiday books' with me.

The result will be a couple of blogs for you to enjoy.

So, first up a new book from my friends at Elk and Ruby.

Please Note!!! All material - text and images - from the book are copyrighted and the property of the authors and publishers. I have been kindly been given permission to use the material here. Please do not steal the work of others just because you find it on the internet. Thank you.

My kind of book, and a subject that I have a particular interest in.

I have never described myself as a 'chess historian', but I would describe myself as a student of chess evolution. Within that huge topic one special interest of mine - hardly touched on by chess writers - is what I would call the first Soviet school of chess. i.e. the group of Soviet players from around 1920 - 1935, who paved the way for the dominant group which came later.

Rauzer was one of it's foremost players in the area of opening innovation. He was also rather different to the likes of Romanovsky, Levenfish and so on. They adopted the 'hypermodern' ideas right from the start - more readily than their western counterparts. Rauzer was different -  of the direct, classical school. Indeed he himself said that Tarrasch's principles were the basis of his thinking. His ideas were direct and straightforward. He believed that the first move conferred a definite advantage. At first he played 1.d4, and then switched to 1.e4, producing new idea after new idea - most notably in the Sicilian defence ( I will come back to some of that next time, as a couple of games with Botvinnik had a big impact in that regard, which is why I took the Botvinnik book with me. )

The book was compiled by his lifelong friend Alexander Konstantinopolsky, and has a number of articles covering some of Rauser's contributions to chess understanding. It also has an article by Konstantinopolsky's son, with a mass of incredible pictures from the family archives. I gave 2 last time, and here is another of the gems.

page 223.

There is not so much biography, and what there is can be found spread over various articles. His life did not end well. From the Konstantinopolsky article Vsevolod Rauzer as I Knew Him.

We do not have information about the last months of Rauzer's
life. At my request, the well-known l.eningrad chess player and organiser
Y. Rosenstein, an old friend of Rauzer's, joined the search effort.
According to his research, in late1940 Rauzer was again hospitalized
in a mental institution. He was discharged on 30th December and
was never admitted again. We can onlv guess what happened to him

Quoting Shakespeare, "'The rest is silence..."
900,000 Leningrad residents perished during the horrible
siege. This sorrowful and heroic martyrology includes, among others,
the name of the pride and joy of Soviet chess, Vsevolod Alfredovich
Rauzer, as well as that of his mother Varvara Grigorievna.

Earlier in that article we get the story behind the title of the book.

I'll also quote Panov here: "I once asked about his (Rauzer's) work
schedule, and when he answered, I was stunned by his fanaticism.

You know,' he said, 'l usually get up at 6a.m., get to my analysis board and
work until night, with short breaks for eating. Unfortunately Rauzer
sighed, 'I .just can't make myself work on theory of the game for more
than 16 hours a day! My head can't endure more."'

Panov and Rauzer in picture at the 1929 Soviet championships in Odessa - Rauzer's home before he and his mother moved to Leningrad - with Abram Poliak - also in the group picture above - sitting between them. article on the tournament.

Lets get to some chess! I chose this game because Rauzer's notes give you a look at his chess thinking and influences, etc. as noted above.

Chekhover ( other transliterations available!!) via

This next game - against someone who readers of my last blog will know was a very good player - was the first Rauzer game which I would have studied. It was in Tartakower's 500 Master Games. Back then it was published all around the world. Why? Because back then  it was, in it's way, revolutionary. At that time in the Tchigorin Ruy Lopez positions White had two ways of dealing with the problem of what to do with the central tensions. Either maintain the tension - as in the Lasker - Tarrasch match of 1907, and a later game between Alekhine and Fine, even at the cost of a Pawn sacrifice, or to block the centre with d4-d5, as seen in some Bogoljubov - Rubinstein games for example. Exchanging on e5 - later favoured by Fischer, for example, was not considered a realistic option. You should also note the insertion of the move a4 at a suitable time - an idea which Keres leapt upon soon afterwards. A game which changed the way in which one of the most important openings in the game was played. Notes by Botvinnik.


page 18 of the book. No primary source given Please don't steal it!

also made a huge impact -to say the least- on the theory of the French Winawer. At that time Lasker's 4.e5 c5; 5.a3 - now thought of as almost compulsory - was considered bad on account of a game between Lasker and Maroczy at New York 1924. Instead 5.Bd2 - as in Alekhine- Niemzowitsch, San Remo 1930 - was the usual line after 4.e5. There is plenty in the book on all this, but I will quickly give Rauzer's thoughts on the opening idea via his notes to a game with Alatortsev.

A simul from the 1930's.

You will have to buy the book for the rest of the notes!!!wink

An additional picture, just because I like it!
The last round of Moscow 1935. via Griffin on twitter.

O.K. In  the wonderful comments section to my small blog on Konstantinopolsky I mentioned a concept which became known worldwide because of a game of David Bronstein's. When I was VERY young in chess terms I read David Levy's excellent little book 'Sacrifices in the Sicilian', which had a chapter on the idea of Bxb5. The idea - to my knowledge - was introduced by Konstantinopolsky. ( Perhaps Tarrasch was the first to play the idea in the Sicilian, and Rauzer would perhaps have learned it in that way, but that would be another article!! )  But he credits it to Rauzer and their hours spent exploring chess ideas. ( These days young players put a position in front of stockfish - where did the fun and imagination go. I feel sorry for them on that score, and I don't apologise or feel like a dinosaur for saying it! Feel superior if you want guys.)

So, a small trip into the stuff I do - the evolution of chess ideas - from the incredible creative mind of Vsevolod Rauser.

Konstantinopolsky book. pg 45
Oops! Konstantinopolsky's note there should come at move 10!

And the game which made the idea famous.
A lovely picture which I have used before.

O.K. Please check out the book if you can!! My thanks to my friend Ilan at Elk and Ruby, as always, for allowing me to use the material. Back next time with more involving these two players.

''His opening research ( and not only openings - he also produced some brilliant endgame analysis), with linked middle game plans, gives us every reason to place V. Rauser among the founders of the Soviet chess school, which defined the development of chess thought for many years''. Botvinnik.  Konstantinopolsky book page 48.