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Bardeleben, Curt von

Curt von Bardeleben (1861-1924) was a German count and the strongest German player of the late 19th century, an openings expert, and player of Grandmaster strength.  He studied law, but never practiced, preferring to play chess. He was German champion in 1893 and 1904.  Against William Steinitz at Hastings 1895, he had a losing position, so he just got up and left the playing hall without resigning and did not return.  Steinitz had to sit and watch the clock to end the game.  Bardeleben did leave a note on the table that said, “Saw it, went home,” referring to Steinitz’s combination.  Steinitz won the brilliancy prize for his game against Bardeleben.  Bardeleben was in the habit of leaving the tournament room, allowing his clock to run out of time, rather than resign.  He committed suicide at the age of 62 by jumping out of an upper window of his boarding house in Berlin where he lived in poverty.  He had lost all his money because of the German economical inflation.  His chess life and suicide was the basis of the main character, Aleksandr Ivanovich Luzhin, in The Defense (Luzhin Defense) by Vladimir Nabokov, who was living in Berlin at the time and published the novel in 1930.  His historical ELO rating is 2510.

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