Friday, July 6, 2018

Game of the Day 4

I have more than 1 book on Rubinstein, a player I'm fascinated with. Rubinstein learned the game relatively late in life compared to most great players at the age of 16. But already 10 years later he was beginning to establish himself as one the top players in the world. He was strong enough to be considered for a World Championship match against Lasker, but never got the chance to play because of the outbreak of the First World War.

Rubinstein's style was fairly universal, but he tended more toward the safe side of chess. He was a great innovator int he opening, a fantastic attacking player when he had the chance, great with the initiative, and solid in defence, but his true forte was the endgame, and especially rook endgames.

I have 3 books about Rubinstein and others that contain short parts about him. The most basic of the 3 biographies is "100 Selected games" by Hans Kmoch, a master strength contemporary of Rubinstein. The notes in this book are fairly simple to follow, and it provides a great introduction to Rubinstein. Much of this book is available to browse in google books.

The game I have chosen today is Spielmann-Rubinstein St Petersburg 1909. This tournament was a great triumph for Rubinstein who shared equal first with World Champion Lasker, and winning their individual encounter. Rubinstein also played a masterful pawn ending against Cohn in this tournament that everyone should know. Against Spielmann, Rubinstein came back from a bad position to win a rook endgame that seemed impossible to win.

Rubinstein was Black in this game, but if his opponent Rudolf Spielmann, a famed attacking player, could have found the best continuation here, we would have been talking about him rather than Rubinstein. See what you can find, and then check out the full game at the end of the article.

The main brilliance of this game starts from the following position:

White has more pawn islands than Black which makes Black's position preferable, but if White can swap his a and d-pawns for Black's d-pawn, the endgame with 3 vs 2 on the king side is almost certainly drawn. Rubinstein was aware of this and his play was directed against this. Have a look at the game with notes by Kmoch, and I will post a more detailed analysis of this endgame, which is annotated in Kasparov's "My Great Predecessors" volume 1 among others.

Anyway, enjoy the game!

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