Traps, Tricks & Mistakes: Réti-Euwe, a Masterpiece

This post is a collaboration with my friend Misha who is a true chess enthusiast.
I met him at Nairobi Chess Club (NCC) where he served as a Committee Member, Director of Play for five years and trained the young members.

Richard Réti (1889-1929) was a Czech chess player, chess author, and composer of endgame studies. At the age of only 12, he had already submitted a chess problem to the chess column of the magazine “Über Land und Meer”. The editor advised him to continue working on his chess.

Réti was one of the top players in the world in the 1910s and 1920s. In his initial career, Réti was a fierce combinative player, playing openings like the King’s Gambit. However, along with Aron Nimzowitsch, he became later a representative of Hypermodernism.

Réti made some contributions to the game. The opening starting with 1.Nf3 is called Réti opening after him. Réti is also the author of many endgame studies and the famous checkmate pattern named after him, “Réti’s Mate”, happened in his game against S.Tartakower in 1910.

Réti’s memory was outstanding. In 1925 he set a world record for blindfold chess. After playing 29 games simultaneously, he won 21, drew 6, and lost 2.

In 1920 Réti played a 4-game match against the Dutch young prodigy Max Euwe (then 19 years old). The match was favorable for Réti who won three games and lost one. The second game of that match is today’s example. In it, Réti surpasses his opponent in combinative skill and wins the game in only 17 moves with an astonishing sacrifice of both rooks.

It’s worth noting that in that match, Réti won the first game also with a 2-rook sacrifice. Réti played this game in a typical Romantic style, reaching typical gambit positions where the usual plan is to quickly complete the piece development while the opponent is busy taking pawns. After that, the attack proceeds before the opponent has time to mobilize his/her pieces

The motif of the “poisoned pawn” also appeared in other openings, the most known of them is the Sicilian Defence, Najdorf Variation.

Réti clearly surpassed his young opponent in combinative and visualization skills. Nevertheless, Euwe obtained a valuable experience with games against the best players of his time. Fifteen years later he became the 5th World Chess Champion.

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