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     Volume 4 Issue 7 | August 6, 2004 |

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Time Out

A reclusive master Chess

Carl Schlechter was a chess master of a very rare kind. A typical product of the Viennese school, he was an unassuming, near-perfect gentleman who took chess as a noble art only. But there is no doubt that Schelechter (1873-1918) was one of the two or three best players in the world at the turn of the last century.

Schlechter's solid positional play was often too much for the romantics who didn't have a clear understanding of Wilhem Steinitz's principles. So Schelechter was ahead of his rivals in this respect. No wonder, he became the challenger for the world title in 1910. Dr Emanuel Laser was then the champion for 16 years and was generally believed to be invincible. Sadly enough, there were no well-defined rules for a title match in those days. The champion had an overwhelming advantage even before the first move was made. For example, he had to secure a draw only to retain the title.

Schlechter outplayed Lasker with his neat positional play. And when the last game was being played, the Austro-Hungarian had a winning position and all he needed was a draw. He could have easily got the half-point and the world championship, but he played on for a win, and ultimately lost the game which levelled the score. Lasker escaped being dethroned. Such an incident never took place before or after the 1910 title match. Chess was perhaps more important to Schlechter than the title. How many of the modern players would look at it from his point of view?

Schlechter was only 45 when he died of starvation in 1918. He was one of the many victims of the famine situation that prevailed in some parts of central Europe after the end of the First World War. Thus ended the life of the great master who had placed the game above everything else.

Here is how Schlechter outplays Alexander Alekhine. Beating the Franco-Russian grandmaster even when he was only 18 was not easy.

White - Carl Schlechter
Black - Alexander Alekhine[C41]
Hamburg (1), 1910

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Nc3 Nd7 4.Bc4 c6 5.d4 Be7 6.dxe5 dxe5 7.Ng5 Bxg5 8.Qh5 Qf6 9.Bxg5 Qg6 10.Qh4 Nc5 11.Be3 Be6 12.Be2 Nd7 13.00 Ngf6 14.Rad1 00 15.Rd6 h6 16.Rfd1 Nb6 17.b3 Ne8 18.R6d3 f5 19.Bc5 fxe4 20.Rd8 Rf4 21.Qh5 Qxh5 22.Bxh5 Rxd8 23.Rxd8 Bf7 24.Rxe8+ Bxe8 25.Bxe8 Nd5 26.g3 Rf5 27.Nxe4 Nf6 28.Nxf6+ Rxf6 29.Bxa7 Rf8 30.Bg6 Ra8 31.Bb6 Rxa2 32.Kf1 Ra6 33.Bc7 c5 34.Bd3 1-0

Position after 20.Rd8




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