<%-- Page Title--%> Time Out <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 145 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

March 12, 2004

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Chess Menchik Club

Chess is often compared with war, the much grislier form of wreaking one's wrath on an adversary. In both chess and war, there are elements of strategic planning and its tactical execution, and the punishment for making a mistake is death (If getting checkmated is seen as the end of life). But there is no visible bloodletting in this ancient game. What can you do if a loser's heart bleeds? That makes it exciting without being cruel. The symbolic warfare shatters the loser's ego, but doesn't cause any more harm! Wars, in fact, caused colossal damage to the game in the past. The two world wars cut short the lives of many promising chess players. And the careers of some top ranking grandmasters were ruined as they lost the best years of their lives. For example, Akiba Rubinstein, the great Polish master, might have won the world championship by 1915, but the First World War stood in his way. He never got a chance to play a match against Emanuel Lasker (German mathematician and World Champion 1894-1921) Similarly, Paul Keres was undoubtedly a very strong candidate for the title when the Second World War began in 1939.

That said, there were far more tragic casualties. Vera Menchik (Woman World Champion 1927-44) was the first woman player to face the top masters with a fair amount of success. She defeated quite a few strong players like Samuel Reshevsky, FD Yates, Mir Sultan Khan, Sir George Thomas etc. In those days the defeated men were known as 'Menchik Club'.

Menchik was born in Prague in 1906 and married a Briton. She died with all other members of her family in a German air raid on London in June 1944. The war ended the life of one of the strongest women chess players that we have seen over the last 100 years or so.

As a player, Menchik had an attacking style. But the game below shows that her positional play was equally good.

White-V Menchik
Black- G Thomas
[A34] Hastings1930
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 c5 4.Bg2 Nc6 5.00 d5 6.cxd5 Nxd5 7.Nc3 Be7 8.d4 Nxc3 9.bxc3 00 10.Rb1 Qa5 11.Qc2 h6 12.e4 cxd4 13.cxd4 Rd8 14.Bd2 Bb4 15.Bxb4 Nxb4 16.Qc4 Nc6 17.Rfd1 Ne7 18.Ne5 Rd6 19.Qe2 Qd8 20.Qe3 b6 21.Nc4 Rd7 22.Ne5 Rd6 23.Qf4 f6 24.Nf3 e5 25.Qe3 Kh7 26.d5 Bg4 27.Rdc1 Bxf3 28.Bxf3 Rd7 29.Bg4 Rc7 30.Rxc7 Qxc7 31.Rc1 Qd6 32.Be6 a6 33.Qc3 Ra7 34.a3 Kh8 35.Qb4 1-0.





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