The Chess Career of Rudolph Spielmann

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Author: Spence, Jack Lee (editor)

Year: 1969 and 1974

Publisher: Chess Player

Place: Nottingham


3 volumes. Volume 1, 1903-1912: xvii+179 pages with illustrations and diagrams; Volume 2, 1913-1928: xx+188 pages with diagrams and indexes; Volume 3, 1929-1941: 214 pages with diagrams and indexes. Duodecimo (6 3/4" x 5 1/4") issued in blue wrappers with black lettering to spine and cover. (Lusis: 1356) First edition.

Rudolph Spielmann was one of that group of great masters, which included Nimzowitsch, Alekhine and Rubinstein, players, whose careers were scarred by the violent political and social upheavals of the first half of the twentieth century. all four were born into the relative security and prosperity of late 19th century Europe, yet all had to face, in varying degrees, the horrors of the first world war, the Russian revolution, the collapse of the Habsburg empire and the Nazi persecution of the Jews. Spielmann rose to prominence in the leisured tournaments of the Europe of the Habsburgs and the Hohenzollerns, at a time when standard dress for the games was frock coat, wing collar and smartly polished boots. The young Austrian excelled when gambit play was prescribed by the tournament regulations, but, as proven by his result in the elite tournament of San Sebastian 1912, Spielmann could also hold his own with the best in the tough grind of normal competition.with the advent of the first world war and the collapse of his world as he had known it, Spielmann's results became wildly erratic. Triumphs , such as Stockholm 1919, and Teplitz-Schonau 1922, alternated with appalling disasters, as at Carlsbad 1923, where Spielmann finished in irretrievably last place. A further string of mediocre results in Baden Baden, Marienbad and Moscow left the chess world doubting whether Spielmanns talent had seriously survived the dissolution of the old Habsburg empire, to which he had belonged, but now the Austrian grandmaster was to produce a coup de theatre which silenced his critics and assured himself a place at the top table of chess for virtually the next decade, at the tournament of Semmering 1926, in his home country, Spielmann unleashed the result of his life, storming ahead of Alekhine and a galaxy of grandmasters, whilst inflicting defeat on his close rivals such as Nimzowitsch, Vidmar and Tartakower. As a direct result of this triumph, Spielmann was to become an indispensable invitee to a whole sequence of grand events: New York 1927, Berlin and Bad Kissingen 1928, Carlsbad 1929-where his second prize and defeat of Capablanca might be considered superior even to the Semmering performance-San Remo 1930, Bled 1931, matches in 1932 against Alekhine's world title contenders Euwe and Bogolyubov ,and finally a creditable appearance at Moscow 1935. Here he held up well against most of the new Soviet generation of masters-his debacle against Botvinnik being the one notable exception. Even in 1938 Spielmann was able to finish an undefeated second to Alekhine himself at Margate, while at Gothenburg the following year he tied with Salo Flohr (the official FIDE challenger for the world title) for first place, again undefeated.

An important component of Spielmann's career was match play. indeed, records indicate that he was perhaps the most prolific match player of any great master. Spielmann was a specialist in the short match, contests often consisting of six games, and usually no more than ten. During his career Spielmann was involved in no fewer than 47 of such personal duels, which may well be the world record for a grandmaster. As Spielmann approached his 60th year the disaster of national socialism and its hatred of the Jewish race reduced his homeland of Austria to a territory which was no longer tenable for him. Flee or face the concentration camp was his stark choice. As it was, Spielmann sought refuge in Sweden, the home of so many of his triumphs, but upheaval, deprivation and disillusionment soon exacted their toll. Born in 1883, Spielmann died in Stockholm in September 1942. (Raymond Keene)


Light edge wear, volume 3 book plate on front wrapper verso. A very good copy.