St. Petersburg (1914) – a photo and an article

First the photograph, original copyright O. Bulls, but assumed public domain now:

1930-06-15 - CSM p16 - St. Petersburg tournament participants

(Click on image to enlarge)

It’s from <The Christian Science Monitor – 1914-06-15 p16>, illustrating the article entitled <Chess Masters at St. Petersburg Tournament – Lasker Show Ability To Hold Chess Title>.

A much better quality reproduction of the photograph can be found here:
https://zanchess.files.wordpress.com/2016/08/36cae-ch2b003.jpg

See also, https://www.chess.com/blog/aljechinthegreat/the-grand-international-masterschess-tournament-at-stpetersburg1914 and http://aljechin4.blogspot.com/.

There are other versions available, which I’ve found but don’t have time to incorporate. Check back!

(Or do your own homework, starting here: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schachturnier_zu_Sankt_Petersburg_1914.)

The CSM article is well worth reading, and can be found at <Old Fulton>:

http://fultonhistory.com/Newspapers%2023/Boston%20MA%20Christian%20Science%20Monitor/Boston%20MA%20Christian%20Science%20Monitor%201914%20jun/Boston%20MA%20Christian%20Science%20Monitor%201914%20jun%20-%200315.pdf

But I’ve saved you the trouble by reposting it here:

Chess Masters at St. Petersburg Tournament - 
      Lasker Show Ability To Hold Chess Title

(By the Monitor special correspondent)

LONDON—The greatest  international chess  struggle of modern  times, a
tournament in  which every competitor is  a player of master  rank who
has taken the first place in an  open contest at some time or another,
has  ended, as  already  reported  by cable,  in  the  victory of  Dr.
Emanuel Lasker,  the holder of  the world's championship, who  wins by
half a point  from Jose Raoul Capablanca, the young  Cuban. Lasker has
thus shown  that his  refusal to  meet Capablanca in  a match  for the
title was not  dictated by any doubt  as to the result,  and, now that
this has  been made  clear, it is  evident that the  two must  meet in
combat  if  Lasker's  championship  is  to be  anything  more  than  a
name. The pair  who have come out head and  shoulders above all others
in  such a  contest as  that  which has  just concluded,  are the  two
between whom the leadership of the  chess world rests, and, the sooner
they come to grips, the better for every one.

In  the series  of 18  games at  St. Petersburg,  playing against  the
chosen representatives of both hemispheres,  Lasker won 10, drew seven
and lost but one, while Capablanca won  10, drew six and lost two, one
of his losses being against Lasker  himself. Set against this the fact
that their nearest  rival lost four games outright, and  it is obvious
that these two are in a class  by themselves, and that a match between
them will be the greatest event since the days of Paul Morphy.

Eleven Competitors Start Play

The arrangement of the tournament was that the 11 competitors played a
preliminary round of 10 games and that the five leaders in this played
a doubleround contest amongst themselves.  Play began on April 21, and
it was soon  evident that the English representatives  were not likely
to  qualify   for  the   final.  The   veteran  Blackburne   had  some
compensation, however,  for his low  position on the score  sheet, for
his presence  was welcomed with  the utmost enthusiasm by  the Russian
public, and,  after a simultaneous  exhibition at the  St.  Petersburg
Club,  in which  he lost  only  two games  out  of 26,  he received  a
graceful Bouvenir  of the occasion and  a "letter of honour"  from the
club officials.

Janowski, the French competitor, started  well by scoring 2½ points in
his first  four games, but then  fell right away, and  only scored one
draw out  of the remaining six.  Most of the representatives  of other
countries, found  themselves handicapped by the  tremendous enthusiasm
of the spectators, for it is not easy  to play chess in the midst of a
swarming crowd of onlookers who are alternately climbing on chairs and
falling off them!

Rubinstein, the  Russian player, whose challenge  for the championship
has  been   accepted  by  Lasker,   entirely  failed  to   do  himself
justice.  Niemzowitch, a  young Russian  from whom  great things  were
expected, also failed to do himself  justice. He had been devoting too
much time  to analysis,  and neglected what  is more  important, first
class practise.  The flimsy web of subtle analysis is apt to get badly
torn in  the rough and tumble  of actual play; and  Niemzowitch, found
that paper theory was one thing and over-the-board play quite another.
Bernstein, another  of the  brilliant modern  Russian school,  and the
only player to  beat Lasker, was distinctly unfortunate  in failing to
enter the  final. In  the last  round, with  an easy  position against
Tarrasch, he made a gross oversight and lost the game, with the result
that his opponent entered the final instead of himself.

The chosen five  turned out to be two Germans,  one Russian, one Cuban
and one player from the United  States. The latter, Frank J. Marshall,
has done  many brilliant  things in  his meteoric  career, and  it was
confidently hoped  that, having won his  way into the final  round, he
would do well. But  though he scored 1½ out of  2 against Tarrasch, he
could make no  headway against the other three. Dr.  Tarrasch, who had
played in  his old stern,  accurate manner throughout  the preliminary
rounds, lost his first four games in the final, and Alechin, the young
Russian, while improving  his position at the expense  of Marshall and
Tarrasch, could not impede the progress of the leaders.

The keen interest  of the last fortnight centered in  the race between
Lasker and Capablanca. The latter started  on the final with a lead of
1½ points—would he keep it to the  finish? His game with Lasker in the
preliminary had been a draw, so was  his first game with Lasker in the
final. Lasker picked up half a  point by beating Alechin, and when the
remaining games  numbered but four, Capablanca  ha d still a  point in
hand.

Lasker Won in Seventh Round

In the seventh  round they met again, and, for  the first time, Lasker
had the move. Somehow, the experts are still trying to find out how it
was, but none of them can point to the losing move— somehow Lasker got
his opponent  in an  iron grip  which never  relaxed, move  after move
remorselessly tightened the  pressure, until the Cuban  saw no further
hope and resigned.  Scores were equal, with three games  to play. Then
came the tragi-comedy of the tournament.

Playing Tarrasch, with  position superior and material  gain in sight,
Capablanca moved  the wrong Rook! Instead  of winning a Pawn,  by that
unfortunate incident he lost a  piece, and though he struggled against
odds for 83 moves,  the burden was too great, and  the game was scored
against him.  But for  that, Lasker  would have  been, not  first, but
second,  for  winning  his  remaining games  while  Lasker  drew  one,
Capablanca made up  still another half point of his  deficit.  But the
moral needs  no pointing; in the  public eye, these two  great experts
come  out of  the  long ordeal  on  the same  high  pinnacle, and  the
question of priority ought to be settled once for all.

I like reading old articles like the above, it makes one feel as though right there, right then.

zz

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s