Soon afterwards, a big international tournament was held in Budapest. Both Charousek and Tchigorin tied for first in a strong field, ahead of both Pillsbury and Schlechter; though neither Lasker nor Steinitz participated.The prestigious New York Times actually provided considerable coverage during the tournament (!): check out THIS and then THIS.
Imagine trying to get this kind of coverage today!
The game has not gone very well for the American genius, but he has managed to keep material level and reach an interesting rook and pawn ending. White has a number of advantages: more space and liberty of movement; better King position; as well, black’s g-pawn and d-pawn provide convenient targets. However, because of the closed nature of the position, it is difficult to make progress. Charousek’s solution to this is instructive:
A fine move that plans to advance the a-pawn and open the a-line. Black can now not play …a5 since White will simply exchange pawns and gain control of the b-line.
37…Kd8 38. a5 Kc7 If instead Black played 38…b5 then White gains a big edge by exchanging on b5 and then playing Rc1ch and Rc5, leaving Black paralyzed. 39. axb6 Kxb6 40. Ra5!
Nimzovitch noted many years ago that a rook should be placed as deeply into the enemy camp as possible. From this square (a5) a number of ideas arise, including the one that Charousek plans to execute: play c5 at some point (forcing the Black King back) and then advancing his King over to c4, pressuring the black d-pawn. It appears that Pillsbury can only sit and wait. He has no counterplay.
40… Re7 41. Kf3! Charousek’s idea is in full swing. It is remarkable how simple he makes everything in this ending look!
41… Re5 42. c5 Kb7 43. Ke2!
Charousek begins his King walk over to the Queenside where Black has a number of serious weaknesses, including his d-pawn which will need constant watching, tying down his only piece.
A beautiful demonstration of how to exploit small advantages in the ending.
In 1897 Charousek won the Berlin International Tournament, ahead of 19 masters, scoring 13.5 points. He played especially brilliantly in the second half, winning 9 games in a row! It very much seemed that Charousek was improving from tournament to tournament!
Fourth row: Schlechter, Heyde;Third row: Unknown, Burn, Marco, von Popiel, Heinrichsen, Blijkmans, Dimer;Standing on second row: Charousek, Janowsky, Thalheim, Zinkl, Harmonist, Winawer, W. Cohn, Teichmann, Albin;Sitting on first row: Ranneforth, Caro, Metger, Alapin, Süchting, Chigorin, Schiffers, Bierbach
At the begining of 1898 Charousek was invited to a strong tournament in Vienna, but on the eve of the event he caught a serious illness , an acute inflamation of the lungs, which prevented his participation. This was to be a type of omen for what was to come.
Charousek recovered his strength enough to be able to participate in the strong Cologne International Tournament (1898), finishing in a tie for 2nd place with Burn and Tchigorin. This is quite remarkable, considering that his health was visibly weakened. And he played great chess in this tournament!
White has some advantage in development, but Black’s position is quite solid and is free of weaknesses. To make progress it is first necessary to create threats and provoke weaknesses.
15… Rfe8 16. Qg3 !A logical move that might annoy the Black King a some later point. It also takes control of the h2-b8 diagonal.
16… Bf5 17. h4!Larsen, many years later, would come to teach that in positions where little is happening, it is often very useful to introduce a bit of poison by advancing the h-pawn. In Charousek’s games this was a common theme!
17… Kf8 18. h5 h6 19. Bf4! Charousek has few illusions over the value of the two bishops in this position, and instead invites his opponent to exchange off his most valuable piece.
19… Nxf4!? 20. Qxf4 Be6 21. Bxe6 Rxe6 22. Qf5!
Not really threatening anything serious for the moment, but the type of creeping move that irritates an opponent to no end. Black will find it necessary to take precautions before trying to get active play.
22… Rc8 23. Re4 Kg8(Probably Black wanted to eliminate the invasion of the White Queen on h7 once and for all.) 24. Rfe1Now concrete threats are beginning to appear, so Black’s next is almost forced.
24…Re7 25. Qxd7! Rxd7White controls the e-line. But Black is still quite solid. It is impressive the ease with which Charousek makes progress.
26. Re8! Rxe8 27. Rxe8 Kh7 28. Kh2!
In the absence of any Black threats White will simply continue to improve his position. He now intends to advance his King as far as he can into Black’s position.
28… g6 29. Kg3!? Charousek seems little concerned about allowing Black to take on h5.
29… Kg7!? Considering what happens, it might not be such a bad idea for Black to take the h-pawn! 30. Kf4 Kf6 31. Re5!
White is absolute master of the position; his active King and Rook are clearly putting pressure on the Black position. The only question is whether it is enough to win.
31… b6 32. Ke4 ! Now Charousek intends to advance his king-side pawns.
32… Rd6 33. f4 !
33… Re6?! In as much as this seems to help White, we can only recommend that Black instead play a wait and see game. However, it is always unpleasant to defend such positions! You may not be sure if you are lost, but it is depressing to have to wait for the axe to fall.
34. hxg6 fxg6 35. Kd5! This forces an easily won King and pawn ending.
Of course, this is all being said with the advantage of foresight! During a tournament game, with the clock ticking, there is always some doubt, and therefore we can only but admire the Fischer-like precision and confidence that Charousek demonstrates with his play.
35…Rxe5 36. fxe5 Ke7 37. b4 !This wins a pawn or two, depending on how Black wants to lose.
Here Black resigned, a bit premature, but fully understandable. The reader might find it worthwhile to convince himself of Black’s helplessness.
Who was Arved Heinrichsen?
”Arved Heinrichsen was born on 23 November 1876 in Vilno in Poland as the son of German parents. After attending the junior school he entered the Gymnasium secondary school in the town of Riga. After a short stay in St Petersburg he left in 1896 for Berlin to study there at the faculty of Medicine.
In the summer semester of 1898 he continued in his studies at the university in Kiel, but in late summer he began to suffer from health problems. In September 1898 his Berlin doctor diagnosed the beginning of tuberculosis.
The parents sent him, at the doctor’s recommendation, to Helouan in Egypt but there he contracted malaria, which undermined his physical strength still more. He spent the rest of his life in summer in his native town, in winter in the sunny south, but without any hope of overcoming his tuberculosis, a fatal disease in those days. He died in the later summer of 1900 in the circle of his family. He was only 23 years old.”
(From: THE FIRST CONGRESS OF THE CENTRAL ASSOCIATON OF CZECH CHESSPLAYERS: PRAGUE 1905 Author: Vlastimil Fiala Moravian Chess (2006 ))
What can we say about this position? White is a bit better because he has more space and freedom of movement. However, Black is very solid and has no weaknesses. Exactly the type of position that we already know that Charousek excels in!
Play proceeds more or less logically for a while, with both players trying to improve their positions.
29. Ne3 a5(I don’t understand this move. However, it is not so bad) 30. Nd1 Kf8 31. Kf2 Bg8
With hindsight, I suppose we should recommend that Black not be in such a rush to exchange his rook, which might be useful in helping him advance his own queen-side pawns.
32. Rxe8 Kxe8 33. f5! Ke7 34. Ke3 Ok, White has made some progress. His King is slightly more active and his king-side majority more of a factor than the Black queen-side majority. But still, it is hard to believe that Black is lost!
34… Nd7(Again, a bit passive. It was an idea to transfer the knight to d6, starting with a check on c4) 35. Kf4 Kf6 36. h4
36… g5?! White is going to advance his majority anyway, so why create a weakness on h6? 37. fxg6 Kxg6 38. Bh3 Be6 39. Nf2 b5 40. a3 c5
J.Showalter was one of the strongest American masters of his generation
After playing so quietly for so long, Black decides to get active, but infact only succeeds in making things easier for Charousek! As we shall soon see, this move (c5) creates weaknesses that will soon be exploited.
In just a few short moves Black finds himself dead lost, despite having equal material. His b-pawn will prove to be untenable, and his dark squares are at the mercy of the White King!
51. Bd3! This fine move prevents the Black King from attacking the White g-pawn 51… Bh3 52. Ke5 Bg2 53. Bf5!
Planning to realign the Bishop along the e6 to b3 diagonal where Black has vulnerable pawns. Now the rest is clear. I give the rest of the moves without comment. For a machine like Charousek the result is not in doubt…
After any Black King move white will play Bh3.[1:0]
I am very impressed with Charousek’s endgame skill! It is not so much a question of him being an excellent technician, but instead of how easy and instructive Charousek makes it seem to beat really strong players with only the slightest of advantages. In this respect he very much reminds me of Fischer and Karpov at their best.
I suppose , however, Charousek’s tactical skills and combinations are what most remember of the young genius. Euwe compared him with Morphy! His opening understanding and keen sight of the board are similar to the American genius’. However, some differences exist. Especially, most of Morphy’s adversaries were not as strong as Charousek’s adversaries. And then there is the fact that most of Morphy’s fame came from his match play, and Charousek’s fame was from his brilliant tournament successes.Regardless of this, I consider such comparisons pointless. They were both great players.
The Cologne tournament was to be the last of Charousek’s career. It was clear that he had tuberculosis, and the best Hungarian doctors could do nothing to stop it. With the limited potential of 19th century medicine, the best that could be done was to extend Charousek’s life for another year. In April 1900 Charousek died from a severe internal hemorrhage in one of his lungs. He was 27 years old. His chess career had lasted only 2 years and 1 month!
Reti would later write:
”It was in his nature to strive for realizing his ideas. He completely forgot about the enemy, thinking only of his own visions. Sometimes , he hit a dead end, but at other times he found a weak spot and used it. His play left such an impression, always simple and straightforward. Actually, it was so elegant and simple, that no one else could imitate his style.”
NOTE OF TUBERCULOSIS: Tuberculosis, or “consumption” as it was commonly known, caused the most widespread public concern in the 19th and early 20th centuries as an endemic disease of the urban poor. In 1815, one in four deaths in England was of consumption; by 1918 one in six deaths in France were still caused by TB. In the 20th century, tuberculosis killed an estimated 100 million people. (wikipedia)
These two articles on Charousek first appeared here on this blog back in 2010 and except from formatting and some minor technical changes, are identical to the original articles.