Albin Aphorisms – Checkmate v2 (1902-03)

Two excerpts from the Canadian periodical – Checkmate v2 (1902-03) p197-8, p220, entitled “Albin’s Aphorisms” (click on any image to enlarge):

CM - v2 (1902) p197

CM - v2 (1902) p198

CM - v2 (1902) p220


Albin’s Aphorisms.

Four years ago Herr Albin, the well known Roumanian chess-player, published a little book which contained some personal recollections, a few of his games, and a collection of witty thoughts upon the game of chess.

Readers of German chess periodicals have heard of his doings as an original and brilliant player for many years. Albin was born at Bucharest of German parents, and followed a chequered career in various paths of connuerce till 1890, when he devoted himself solely to chess. He became famous in 1892, at the Dresden Tournament, by winning a game against Tarrasch, the first that master had lost since the Frankfort Tournament of 1887. Albin then visited New York and other cities of the United States, relating his experiences in a very amusing way. He played in the famous “Consolation tournament” of 1893, won so brilliantly by Lasker with a clean score, then returned to Vienna, and finally settled in Hanover, where the little book in question was published. He has played since then in most of the great International tournaments, such as Hastings, Nuremberg, and in the last contest at Monte Carlo, never attaining to a prize, but always playing some excellent games, and being a dangerous competitor against the very strongest.

Here follows, a specimen of Herr Albin’s autobiography.

“On the 20th of July, 1893, I embarked upon the steamship Columbia as  a second-class passenger, and on the 30th I landed at New York as one of the first chess masters of the Old World. This I owed obviously to my heroic victory over the Goliath of Dresden. My visit to the Manhattan Chess Club was an entrance to Eldorado: never could a more hospitable reception be imagined, they were the happiest days of my life. Hardly, had I arrived in New York when the Sun, produced my portrait and my biography, and so introduced, my humble personality was announced in all points of the American territory. I had arrived just at the time when the proposed match between Steinitz and Lasker needed some impetus, – naturally in the interest of Lasker. And so a tournament was brought about, thanks to the inventive talent of Herr Cassel, chess-editor of the Staatszeitung, and protector of all e2-e4 men. Everyone knows the result. Herr Lasker won the first prize with 13 points, and only 14 entries. On the other hand I, with 8½ points and 4½– stupidities, gained the second prize. And Pillsbury, whose game lost to me decided the second prize, went away empty handed. But I said of him then to a member of the Manhattan Club :— ‘One or two more years practice, and he will beat Lasker!’  The quadrangular contest at St. Petersburg (1895) fulfilled my prophecy.”

Our next quotation is from a burlesque account of an incident at the Nuremberg Tournament. It was stated that Steinitz and Pillsbury offered Albin remuneration if he could win or draw his game against Tarrasch in the last round, such result having a great influence upon the prize list. Tarrasch refers to this in his notes on the game, commenting severely on the supposed bargain. This is the other side of the story.

The Chess-Comedy at Nuremberg.

Scene: The Tournament Hall just before adjournment.


The Director distributes envelopes, in which the last move has to be placed and sealed. This is the position:

r4rk1/pp2qppp/2p1n3/8/N3P3/2QB1K2/PP3P2/2R1R3 b – – 0 28

White—Tarrasch vs Black—Albin.

It is my turn to move, and so I sealed QR-Q 1, with assent of the Doctor and President of the Committee.

The Doctor disappears.


The Director appears in wild gallop, and demands with creaking voice that I resign.

“Your game is lost!”

“Why?” I ask, quite astonished.

“I had not given the signal, and you gave up the move too soon. Do you understand? You resign the game?”

“Never!” I say, with heroic tenor strain.

[The gallery applauds.]

Great excitement and tumult; a crowd round my table. Steinitz and Pillsbury protest loudly, but in vain, The Committee is called together.


The Committee in session.

JUDGE.—”Why will you not resign the game?”

I.—”Because I won’t!”

JUDGE.—“Indeed: and why did you put your move too soon in the envelope?”

I.—‘‘That it might keep warm.”

JUDGE.—“But Herr Steinitz proposed that vou should be rewarded for this game!”

I.—“Herr Steinitz probably knows that in the last rounds weak players often suffer from “Durchfall,” and play badly. His was a capital prescription.”

JUDGE.—“The whole story is false, then?”


JUDGE.—“Then it is true?”

I.—”Yes, as a brilliant combination by Dr. Tarrasch.”

JUDGE.—“Well, we will speak to the Doctor. Please wait.”


It is 5 p.m. and I am still waiting. The Committee discusses the question with closed doors, which does not hinder Herr Lasker from strongly protesting on my behalf, and so at last the verdict is in my favor. But the excitement and the long interval had their due effect. I lost the game, and Herr Dr. Tarrasch became, as Pillsbury expressed it, the “Committee’s Prize winner.”

[To be continued.]

Albin’s Aphorisms.


Chess-masters hope in vain to be admired (bewundert) by their colleagues. For the true master possesses the sense of beauty and greatness, nothing is new to him : he admires little, he only approves.

Once chess theory was the stagecoach, now it is the flash of lightning.                                                                                      

The play of Steinitz, even when the game has no excitement, had always something entertaining and instructive. Lasker’s play is mathematical accuracy. 

Oh, the Herr Doctor! [Tarrasch]. He is less deep than methodical ; he depends on his memory, and writes condescendingly of other players. If you show him one of your best games, he will speak to you of his own.

Those who play for drawn games are great lovers of nature ; they delight in the sound of falling wood.                              


The chess-master often has this experience, that the move which he has sought for long without finding, when he finally discovers it, is just the simplest and most obvious, and had been suggested to him at the very first.

Good position in a game is the result of experience and application (Anzwendung), which is developed according to each player’s intuitive feeling.

Leave blunders in the opening to your adversary, use his time for reflection, and handle the end-game with keenest analysis—then you have fulfilled the conditions of a good tournament game.

Different horizons, different stars: Janowski last, Cohn second prize-winner! If only “Altmeister Löwy” had played, he would surely have been first

 [Upon the Cologne Tournament, 1898.]

Nothing is harder than to win—a won game.                                                                                                                   

Five victories by Trenchard, and eighteen by Schiffers have the same reward: “Pour l’honneur du drapeau.”

[On the Vienna Tournament.]

Professional chess-players are ideal natures: they have to live mainly upon admiration mingled with acid (Sauerstoff).

When a game of chess fills you with admiration for the player, do not ask bow many he has won or lost in the contest, but try to win but one such game yourself.

A little known game, played at the tournament of Buda Pesth, 1896:– French Defence.

White-Pillsbury. BLAck–Albin.

 1 P-K 4        P—K 3
 2 P-Q 4        P–Q 4
 3 Кt—QВ 3      Kt–KB3
 4 P-K 5        Kt–Q 2
 5 Р—КВ 4       P-QB 4
 6 Px P         Bx P
 7 Q—KKt 4      P—KKt 3
 8 P–KR 4       P–KR 4
 9 Q-Kt 3       Kt–QB 3
 10 Р—QR 3      Kt–Q 5 (!)
 11 B—Q3        Kt–KB 4 (!)
 12 Bx Kt       KKtPx B
 13 Q—KKt 7     R–KB 1
 14 Kt–KB 3     Q—К 2
 15 P–QKt 4     B–Kt 3
 16 Q–KR 7      P—QR 4
 17 Kt–QKt 5    Pх P
 18 Kt–Q 6 +    К—Q 1
 19 KKt—KKt 5   К—В 2
 20 KKtx BP     К— Kt 1
 21 QxRP        B–Q 5
 22 R—QR 2      Кt—QВ 4
 23 Q—KKt 6     Kt–K 5
 24 P–KR 5      Q—QB 2
 25 KR—R 3      B—QB 6+
 26 K–KB 1      P–QKt 3
 27 K–Kt 1      P—QKt 6 (!)
 28 Rх В        Qx R
 29 R–QKt 2     Q—K 8+
 3о К—R 2       Qx B
 31 Rx P        QxKBP+
 32 К—Кt 1      Q–KB 7+
 33 K–R 2       Kt–Q 7
 34 R—QB 3      R—QR 5 (!)

and White resigns.

The way in which Albin extricated himself from one of Pillsbury’s characteristic attacks, and turned the tables in masterly fashion, makes this game noteworthy.



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