St. Petersburg 1909 and 1914

The St. Petersburg Chess Club consisted of the elite. After Chigorin’s death, the club decided to organise a memorial tournament. President of the organising committee was P.P. Saburov, a powerful diplomat. The main event lasted from 14 ii - 12 iii 1909. The time limits were 37 moves in 2½ hours, 23 in 1½ and 15 per hour. A budget of 10,500 Rubles took care of the prizes, money for points and expenses. Favourites were Emanuel Lasker, Akiba Rubinstein and Carl Schlechter. The world champion Lasker had not played a tournament since Cambridge Springs 1904. 

Lasker - Rubinstein, St. Petersburg 1909

The main tournament was dominated by the race between Rubinstein and Lasker. Akiba took the lead by a win over Emanuel in round three. Rubinstein’s rook endings were impressive. At the end they shared the first place. Lasker refused to play a match of four games. Spielmann competed with them for a long time, but he had to accept a margin of 3½ points after a poor finish. Schlechter scored poorly due to a flu.

St. Petersburg 1909

                     1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

1   Rubinstein       * 1 1 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 ½ 1 0 1 ½ 1 1 1 1  14½  875 Rubles

2   Lasker           0 * ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 ½ 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 1  14½  875 Rubles

3   Spielmann        0 ½ * 1 0 1 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1  11   475 Rubles

4   Duras            0 0 0 * 0 1 ½ 0 ½ 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1  11   475 Rubles

5   Bernstein        ½ ½ 1 1 * 0 1 0 1 1 1 1 ½ 0 0 0 ½ ½ 1  10½  190 Rubles

6   Teichmann        ½ 0 0 0 1 * 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 ½  10   120 Rubles

7   Perlis           ½ 0 0 ½ 0 1 * ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1 ½ 1 ½ 0 0 1      80 Rubles

8   Cohn             0 0 ½ 1 1 ½ ½ * 0 0 1 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 1   9    40 Rubles

9   Schlechter       0 ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 * 1 0 0 1 1 ½ 0 1 ½ 1   9    40 Rubles

10  Salwe            0 0 ½ 0 0 ½ 0 1 0 * ½ 1 1 1 ½ 0 1 1 1   9    40 Rubles

11  Tartakower       ½ 0 ½ 1 0 ½ ½ 0 1 ½ * 0 0 0 ½ 1 1 1 ½  

12  Mieses           0 0 ½ 0 0 0 0 ½ 1 0 1 * ½ 1 1 1 0 1 1  

13  Dus Chotimirsky  1 1 0 0 ½ 0 0 ½ 0 0 1 ½ * ½ ½ ½ 1 0 1   8

14  Forgács          0 0 1 0 1 ½ ½ 1 0 0 1 0 ½ * ½ ½ ½ 0 ½  

15  Burn             ½ 0 ½ 0 1 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ * 1 ½ ½ 0   7

16  Vidmar           0 0 0 0 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 0 0 ½ ½ 0 * ½ 1 0   7

17  Speyer           0 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 1 ½ 0 0 0 1 0 ½ ½ ½ * ½ ½   6

18  Von Freyman      0 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 1 0 ½ 0 0 0 1 1 ½ 0 ½ * 0  

19  Znosko Borovsky  0 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 0 ½ 1 1 ½ 1 *   5

The schoolboy Alexander Alekhine won the All-Russian tournament. He got a magnificent vase of the Imperial porcelain manufacture. Lasker wrote the tournament book. His claim ‘This is a book in which analysis is accurate’ can be easily refuted with the modern means.

pgn-file of St. Petersburg 1909 (20 games)     zip-file of CBase-files of St. Petersburg 1909

 

St. Petersburg 1914 was a landmark in the history of chess, because three players performed at the level of the present top twenty. They were world champion Lasker, Capablanca and Alekhine.

The invitation procedure was remarkable. A list of twenty-four ‘grandmasters’ of chess was made. Anderssen, Charousek, Chigorin, Kolisch, Mackenzie, Pillsbury, Steinitz and Zukertort had died. The rest plus the two winners of an All Russian Tournament were invited. Burn, Teichmann, Weiss and Winawer declined for reasons, such as old age. Duras, Maróczy and Schlechter could not accept due to tensions of Russia with Austria-Hungary. Eleven players accepted: young Alekhine, Bernstein, old Blackburne, Capablanca, old Gunsberg, Janowsky, Lasker, Marshall, Nimzowitsch, Rubinstein and Tarrasch. The players got an excellent compensation for their expenses. Lasker got an additional 4500 Rubles for his first tournament in five years. Capablanca was well paid as well. Prizes or money for draws and wins had to be earned.

The games were played at the club house Liteiny Prospekt 10 from 21 iv - 22 v 1914 in the afternoon and evening. The tempo was 30 moves in 2 hours, followed by 22 in 1½ hours and 15 per hour for the rest of the game. The tournament started with all-play-all preliminaries. Five players qualified for the doubled rounded finals. The great surprise was the elimination of Rubinstein. 

The tournament celebrated the 10th anniversary of the St. Petersburg Chess Society. The elite of the city was present on a grand banquet at the end of the preliminaries. Sergei Prokofiev gave a piano recital.

 

pgn-file of St. Petersburg 1914 (25 games)     zip-file of CBase-files of St. Petersburg 1914

 

Capablanca - Lasker in round five of the preliminaries

Five grandmasters

 

Capablanca played superior chess in the preliminaries. The arrogant Cuban expected to win, but amorous escapades weakened his strength. Lasker played less brilliantly, but his fighting spirit was incredible. His score of 7/8 in the finals was magnificent.

 

Finals St.Petersburg 1914

              1  2  3  4  5     Prel. T

1 Lasker     ** ½1 11 1½ 11  7   6½  13½  1200 Rubles

2 Capablanca ½0 ** ½1 10 11  5   8   13    800 Rubles

3 Alekhine   00 ½0 ** 11 1½  4   6   10    500 Rubles

4 Tarrasch   0½ 01 00 ** 0½  2   6½   8½   300 Rubles

5 Marshall   00 00 0½ 1½ **  2   6    8    250 Rubles

Five games from the preliminaries and all games from the finals were selected for analysis. The tournament book by Tarrasch was a helpful source.

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