Rotlevi - Rubinstein 

  Gersh Rotlewi (2525)  -  Akiba Rubinstein (2650)  
 Lodz, POL;   1907/8  

  [A.J. Goldsby I]  

I (first) annotated this game (primarily) for my web page on the, 
 "Best (and Most Amazing) [Chess] Moves - Ever Played." 

 (I am doing this game again !!  {June, 2002}  for my "Best {All-Time} [Chess] Games" page.) 

  Rubinstein's Immortal Masterpiece/Game  


The single greatest game Rubinstein ever played. 
It also contains two of the prettiest chess moves ever played! 


 His game vs.  Karel Hromadka  from Mahrisch-Ostrau,  1923; 
is considered  by many to be just as brilliant as this game. 

1. d4 d52. Nf3 e63. e3 c5!?;  (Maybe - '!') 
The Tarrasch Defense. 

 This line usually leads to an isolated pawn for Black, but usually the 2nd 
  player gets good play. Theory has often frowned on this opening, - And even 
  labeled it UNSOUND - but it has been repeatedly used { and 'REVIVED' } 
  by great players. Originated by one of the greatest players and chess teachers 
  of all time - Tarrasch! - this line has been used by hundreds of Masters, but 
  most notably Tal, Spassky, and ... even Kasparov!! And now a new generation 
  of players are using this dynamic and creative opening. It results in positions 
  where Black has an isolated pawn and brings about the age-old argument of 
  STATIC POSITION; (structure);  versus DYNAMICS. (Piece play.) 
  Which is better? Every player has a different opinion. 

  [ More prudent would be:  3...Nf6. ] 


4. c4 Nc65. Nc3 Nf6; {Diagram?}  
We now have transposed to the Semi-Tarrasch. 

6. dxc5!?, {Diagram?} 
White goes for the immediate isolation of Black's QP. 
(But activates Black's dark-squared Bishop.) 

  [ One modern 'book' line runs: 6.a3! a6; 7.dxc5 Bxc5; 8.b4 Ba7
0-0; 10.Qc2 Qe7; "=" ]. 


6...Bxc57. a3 a6!8. b4 Bd6!9. Bb2!?
Nothing wrong with development, but... 

(This is a standard development of this minor piece in this line.) 

  [ Not 9.cxd5!? exd5; 10.Nxd5?? Nxd5; 11.Qxd5?? Bxb4+; "-/+" 
    which wins for Black. ]. 


9...0-010. Qd2!?,  (Maybe - '?!') 
The Queen may have been better off on the c2-square. 

  [ White could try: 10.cxd5 exd5; 11.Be2, "+/=" 
    Or 10.Bd3!? ].  


10...Qe7!;  {Diagram?} 
Soltis also gives this move an exclam. 

11. Bd3?!, (Probably - '?') 
Bad, as White loses tempi. 

  [ Better was: 11.cxd5!? exd5; 12.Nxd5?! Nxd5; 13.Qxd5 Rd8
(14.Qh5? Bxb4+!)   14...Be6;  "<=>" ].  


11...dxc412. Bxc4 b513. Bd3 Rd814. Qe2!?,  
Trying to avoid a tactic. 

  [ 14.0-0 Bxh2+; 15.Kxh2?!,  15...Qd6+; 16.Kg1 Qxd3; "=/+" ].  


14...Bb715. 0-0 Ne5!;  {Diagram?}
Breaking the symmetry ... in Black's favor. 

16. Nxe5 Bxe517. f4 Bc718. e4!?,  
This opens up the game, when BLACK is the only one who will 
profit from this! 

  [ 18.Rfd1! ].  


18...Rac819. e5!? Bb6+20. Kh1 Ng4!; (Maybe - '!!') 
This looks like a mistake, but it is not.  
 (---> This move is NOT as simple as it looks, Black will soon have 
        everything hanging!) 

21. Be4, (Pretty much forced.) 
Seems to be the best, under the circumstances. 

  [  If 21.Qxg4? Rxd3;   /\  ...Rxc3; ("/+")   
     Or 21.Ne4 Rxd3!; 22.Qxd3 Bxe4; 23.Qxe4 Qh4; 24.h3 Qg3
     Or 21.Bxh7+ Kxh7; 22.Qxg4 Rd2; "-/+" ].  


21...Qh4!; (Maybe - '!!') 
Black goes for the throat. 

This is also not as simple as it looks, any Master who can calculate a 
few moves ahead will realize that nearly all of Black's pieces will soon be ... 
'en prise.'  So without some very hard and concrete calculations this 
move is simply impossible to make just on general considerations. 
 (Some games you don't know always have to calculate, the attack can be 
  played on general considerations ... but this is  NOT  the case here!!) 

22. g3,  {Diagram?} 
Again, this looks forced. 

Black looks busted, everything is hanging. 

  [ 22.h3 Rxc3; 23.Bxc3, What else?   (Or 23.Bxb7 Rxh3+; 24.gxh3 Qxh3+
     25.Qh2 Qxh2#;  Or 23.Qxg4 Rxh3+; 24.Qxh3 Qxh3+; 25.gxh3 Bxe4+ 
     26.Kh2 Rd2+; 27.Kg3 Rg2+!; 28.Kh4 Bd8+!29.Kh5 Bg6#)   23...Bxe4;  
    24.Qxg4,  Not much choice here.  (24.Qxe4 Qg3 ; 25.hxg4 Qh4#)   
; 25.hxg4 Rd3; 26.Kh2[] (26.Rac1?? Rh3#)    
26...Rxc3; "-/+" Black is winning easily. ].    


22...Rxc3!!; (Maybe '!!!')  EXTRA - Ordinary! 
One of the prettiest moves of all time! 
(And a wonderful Queen sacrifice!!) 

  [ Not 22...Qh3?23.Bxb7, "+/-"  
    Or 22...Qe7!?; (Maybe - '!') This was also good. 23.Rf3 Rc4; "-/+" ].  

23. gxh4
"In for a penny, in for a pound." (White may as well take.) 

  [  23.Bxc3 Bxe4+; 24.Qxe4 Qxh2#;  
     Or 23.Bxb7 Rxg3; 24.Rf3,   (Or 24.Bf3 Nxh2!; "-/+" and Black has a winning  
      attack against the exposed White King.)   24...Rxf3; 25.Bxf3 Nf2+
,  Forced?   (Or 26.Kg2? Qh3+ ; 27.Kg1 Ne4+ ; 28.Kh1 Ng3#). 
; 27.Kf1 Nd2+; 28.Kg2 Nxf3; 29.Qxf3,  What else? 
(Or 29.Kxf3 Qh5+)    29...Rd2+; "-/+" Black has a winning attack. ].  


23...Rd2!!; (Really - '!!!')   Incredible!!   {Diagram?} 
 (Maybe even - '!!!!'

 One of the grandest, most elegant and beautiful chess moves ever played.  
 (Theme = Decoy the defender.) 

Having just sacrificed his Queen, Rubinstein throws a Rook on the fire 
for good measure! 

  [ 23...Re3!?24.Qxe3, "~" ] .

24. Qxd2
, {Box?}  
Forced ... again. 

  [  If  24.Qxg4 Bxe4+; 25.Rf3 Rxf3; "-/+
     Or 24.Bxc3 Rxe2; 25.Rf2 Bxe4+; 26.Kg1 Bxf2+; 27.Kf1 Bf3; 28.Rd1 Nxh2#.
     Or 24.Bxb7 Rxe2; 25.Bg2,   (25.Bxc3?? Rxh2#  25...Rh3!; "-/+" ].  


24...Bxe4+25. Qg2,  {Diagram?} 
The only legal move. 

25...Rh3!;  (Probably - '!!') 
 Another thunderbolt. There is no reply to such a move. 
(Black threatens ...Rxh2#. There is no defense.) An amazing move in it's own 
 right, practically all my students want to play ...Bxg2+ here!) 

White RESIGNS, 0 - 1. 

  [ The main threat is:  25...Rh3!!;  26.Rf3,  Sadly ... forced. 
      (Or 26.Rf2 Bxf2; 27.Qxe4 Rxh2#)    26...Bxf3; 27.Qxf3 Rxh2#.  

    Most normal, mortal players might have been tempted by:  25...Bxg2+!?;  
    26.Kxg2 Rc2+; 27.Kg3, Forced.   (If 27.Kh1?? Rxh2#;    
  Or 27.Kh3? Nf2+; ("=/+");  Or  27.Kf3?? Nxh2+28.Ke4 Nxf1;  "-/+")   
27...h5; "~" ].  

 0 - 1

One of the most famous chess games of all time. This game has been printed 
an almost infinite number of times in books, magazines and newspaper columns. 
Virtually every annotator worth his salt has taken a whack at it. The combination 
is one of the greatest ever played!!
Additionally, this game shows up in over 
half a dozen different books devoted to the best games of all time. 
(Two good examples are: Soltis's "The 100 Best," and Nunn's "The World's 
 Greatest Chess Games." This game is in both of those books AND highly rated 
 by BOTH authors.) 


   I consider this one of,  "The Ten Most Beautiful Games Ever Played."  
(Click  HERE  to go to my web page on this subject.) 

Many people consider Rotlewi to be a fish, or a completely obscure player 
of no talent, not worthy of sitting at the same chess board as Rubinstein.

 This is NOT true!  

GM Andy Soltis gives the additional information about the 1st player: 
 " Gersh Rotlewi - {1889-1920}, is one of the tragic losses of 20th Century chess. 
was an obscure Pole until winning an amateur section at Hamburg, 1910. 
 This earned him the Master Title, and the right {and invitation} to compete 
 at Carlsbad, 1911.
[One of the strongest of the pre-World War I events!]  
 To the amazement of the spectators he held his own with the world's best players. 
 He beat Aaron Nimzovich, Carl Schlecter, Frank Marshall, and Rudolf Spielmann."
{He also drew many fine game of chess with some of the world's best. - A.J.G.
Soltis continues:  "And he would have tied for First Place ... had he won his final 
 game. (!!)  But after this brilliant debut at age 22, Rotlewi was stricken by a  
 serious nervous disorder and never played again." (!) 
(From Andy Soltis's book, "The 100 Best.")

(Perhaps someone could write a book on this nearly forgotten player?) 

  A detailed search of my database (and many on-line sources) indicates 
  that Rotlewi was a strong Master, maybe close to 2450 ELO. 
  (Lifetime average.) 

(If you take FIDE's CURRENT rating formula's, Rotlewi would have been an
 un-rated player prior to Carlsbad. This means his post-tournament rating 
 would have been well above 2700!!) 


   GM Akiba Rubinstein   - {1882 - 1961}, was maybe the strongest player to  
 have never won the World Championship. Easily one of the four best players  
 in the World during the period from 1907 to 1922, according to the Oxford  
 Encyclopedia of Chess. He was the first (and maybe only) player to win FIVE  
 (5) International Tournaments in a row. (Clear first, no ties.)  In 1912 he also  
 won all five tournaments he played in. 
"His play - during this period was    
unparalleled. His tournament record for the six years 1907 to 1912 was much   
better than that of ANY other Master; at one time or another he had met the   
   best ten or eleven players," (in the World); "and he had a minus score ONLY   
against Maroczy."
   (From a chess encyclopedia.)  
 In 1918, he defeated Schlecter. 

 He won many tournaments and matches. Aside from beating Schlecter, he also 
 beat Marshall, (1908, +4, =1, -3); and Bogolyubov. (1920, +5, =3, -4)  His  
 greatest International Tournament wins were St. Petersburg, 1909; Breslau, 1912; 
 San Sebastian, 1912; Vilnius, 1912; (he beat Alekhine TWICE!) Triberg, 1921; 
 and  Vienna, 1922
(This tournament was one of the all-time greatest. Virtually  
 all of the best players of that time were present. Rubinstein was winning in virtually  
 every game. In the end, he has like 10 wins and four or five draws. He lost NONE!  
 He also won the first brilliancy prize in this event! His games from that event are   
 perhaps the most beautiful and accurate of his entire career.)

 Rubinstein was a great student of the opening and one of the greatest end-game  
 players of all time. Players made remarks like: "Rubinstein is a Rook-and-Pawn  
 endgame played by the gods." Another chess editor, circa 1909, wrote: ... "that  
 if Rubinstein had won such a Rook-and-Pawn endgame 100 years ago, he would 
 have been burned at the stake for being in league with devils." (!!!!!) 

 GM Ruben Fine  once said that  Rubinstein  was the greatest of ALL the  
 Masters ... when it came to the end-game.  (Ahead, even of Capablanca!!) 

 Rubinstein was a great innovator, there are close to half a dozen different main 
 lines of openings that are still used today, from the Nimzo-Indian to the Four  
 Knight's Opening; that his name is still attached to. He left his mark on any 
 opening he studied or played. 

 According to many players, prior to World War I, Rubinstein was, "The young 
 field general who knew  THE  Marshal's baton was firmly ensconced in his own 
 knapsack." But after the war, he was never quite the same, - he was plagued by 
 doubts, and began being bothered by 'nervous tics' and other mental problems. 
 He slowly began to slide downhill and was never quite the same.

Click  HERE  for more info on this great player. (Including his complete 
tournament record.)  

  This game was first posted in late 2000. 

This game is pretty much the full version of the game as it exists in my database.
(I have not shortened it for publication.)
If you would like a copy of that game to study, please contact me.

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(If you liked this game, you will enjoy the many games that are available on this page.)

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 Copyright (c) A.J. Goldsby I.  A.J. Goldsby, 1985 - 2012. 
  Copyright A.J. Goldsby, 2013.  All rights reserved.