Chess fans who have been fortunate enough to have made the pilgrimage to Alekhine’s elegant grave in Montparnasse (Paris) could not have failed to notice the magnificent white-marble sculpture depicting a young Alekhine in his early days in Paris…
The artist who created this sculpture was Abraham Baratz (1895–1975) a Romanian born jew who went to Paris in 1924 to further his study of art and ended up staying there the remainder of his life, becoming a French citizen. Baratz had a studio in Montmarte, specializing in sculpture and ceramics.
Some of his works were exhibited at the prestigious Salon d’Automne between 1926 and 1928.
Well respected in the artistic community in Paris, he befriended many fellow artists, including Marcel Duchamp and Sam Szafran–the latter whom Baratz personally taught how to play chess!
Abraham Baratz was a strong chess master (IM) who had played Alekhine on two occasions (Hamburg, 1930; Paris, 1933), and though Baratz lost both games, he was completely winning in the first game (!), only to fall victim to one of Alekhine’s blitz attacks.
Barantz is sitting in the front row, exactly in the middle, between two women!
Abraham Baratz won the Paris Championship on not less than 3 occasions (1925, 1927 and 1928) , having finished only second in 1926! He also played at the Olympiad (representing Romania) in Hamburg 1930 and Prague 1931. Baratz’ style of play was positional, but had a flair for the attack when given the opportunity. He mostly opened 1.d4, though in later years he preferred 1.Nf3. In over the board play Barantz met numerous leading players, besides Alekhine, the list includes Rubinstein, Tartakower, Janowski, Duchamp, Yates, Lilienthal and Spielmann.
As a curiosity, Baratz is also buried in Montparnasse! Below are several tactics from Baratz’s games. ENJOY!
Paris Ch, 1928 Position before Black’s 15th move. Things have not gone well for White in the opening. He was now braced for 15…Nf2+ 16.RxN BxR 17.Bd2, limiting the damage to just an exchange.
BLACK TO PLAY AND CRUSH!
Rosselli del Turco Stefano
Nice, 1931. Position before Black’s 28th move. White was braced for 28…Rxf3?! 29.Nf6+! with survival chances, but Baratz’ next move seals his fate
BLACK TO PLAY AND WIN!
Nice, 1931. Position before Black’s 53rd move. Ofcourse, Black has a dominating game, but Duchamp’s last move (53.Be2?) allows a decisive blow.
BLACK TO PLAY AND WIN!
Van Den Bosch Johannes
Olympiad Prague 1931 Position after 18 moves of play. Black has not fully developed his pieces and Baratz takes full advantage of the opportunity…
WHITE TO PLAY AND WIN!
Paris Ch 1928 Drezga T–Baratz A: 15…Qxd3! 0-1 Ouch!!
Nice 1931 Rosselli del Turco Stefano–Baratz Abraham: 28…Rxe4+ 29.fxe4 Qf1+ 30.Ke3 Qf4+ 31.Kd3 Qxg3+ 32.Kc2 c4 0-1
Nice 1931 Duchamp Marcel –Baratz Abraham: 53…Rxe2! 0-1 Recapturing with the Queen lets the Rook on h3 go, while 54.RxR allows 54…f4!
Olympiad Prague (Czech Republic) 1931 Baratz Abraham–Van Den Bosch Johannes: 19.Nxf7! Bg4 (Desperate, but he is lost anyway. After 19…RxN 20.Bxd5 and the pin is decisive) 20.Nxh6+! 1-0 Everything falls apart.