Traps, Tricks & Mistakes: Schlechter’s Mistake

To improve in chess, players need to work hard studying many aspects of the game.

Objectively analysing the own games is a first step in detecting mistakes, weaknesses and/or defects in our own approach to the game.

Studying games played by masters, especially those considered as ‘classics’, is another recommendation.

We can find many examples of the latter. Today’s game is one example of how chess progresses.

Akiba Rubinstein played this game in the prestigious tournament of San Sebastian, 1912. He finished first, half a point ahead of Aaron Nimzowitsch and Rudolf Spielmann who shared second place.

Rubinstein takes benefit of an opening mistake played by his opponent.

In his comments on this game, the great Cuban chess master Capablanca describes it as a “complete masterpiece by Rubinstein from beginning to end, and a classic example of how chess should be played”.

1912 was a successful year for Rubinstein because he finished first in four consecutive major tournaments: San Sebastian, Breslau, Bad Pistyan, and Vilna.

It is worth mentioning that Schlechter had played the same first 10 moves in another game 6 years before. His opponent didn’t play ambitious (11.Nxd2) and both contenders agreed in a draw after 27 moves. Nevertheless, Rubinstein found a much better answer (11.Qxd2) enough to keep the initiative in his hands for the rest of the game. Whether he had analyzed Schlechter’s previous game or not, is not clear.

What is important is that a) Schlechter made sure not to play again the same sequence of moves; b) this is a ‘classical’ game to be studied for future generations of players in order to not make Schlechter’s mistake.

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