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Rubinstein, Akiba

Akiba Rubinstein (1882-1961) was a chess master who claimed he studied chess six hours a day, 300 days a year.  Another 60 days he spent playing in chess tournaments. The remaining five days he rested.   He never ate in public and would not shake hands for fear of germs.  He was so paranoid that if a stranger came to his door, he would exit out the window.   He suffered from a nervous disorder known as anthrophobia (fear of people and society).  In 1912 he won five consecutive strong tournaments in one year  (Vilna, San Sebastian, Breslau, Pistyan, and Warsaw), a record  which has never been surpassed.   During World War I, Like Lasker, he invested all his money in German War bonds.  He beat Capablanca, Alekhine, and Emanuel Lasker the first time he played them in tournament play. In 1911 at San Sebastian he complained of a fly which kept settling on his forehead and breaking his concentration.  After he won the tournament, the tournament director, Jacques Mieses, took him to a leading psycho-neurologist at Munich.  The doctor examined Rubinstein and said, "My friend, you are mad.  But what does it matter?  You are a chess master!"  Rubinstein imagined noises in the night: knockings on the walls.  Had not World War I intervened, Rubinstein would have played Lasker for the world championship title in 1914 or 1915.  The contract had already been signed.  He once burst in the room next door and tried to strangle Richard Reti, believing he was the source of these strange noises.  After 1932, he never competed in chess tournaments again.  He spent four years hiding in a sanatorium in Belgium during the Nazi occupation.  He defeated Alekhine, Lasker, and Capablanca the first time he ever played them.  He was the youngest of 12 children.  He learned chess at the late age of 19.

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