The great Hamburg tournament, held in connection with the 17th Congress of the German Schachbund, is set to begin in a few days’ time, on the 18th inst. Some of the Masters have already arrived in the city, and others are expected daily, so that the full roster of entrants has now become known. What follows below is a brief précis of our thoughts on each competitor and his prospects. We take the entrants in alphabetical order.
Alekhine: This young Russian, born of noble stock and winner of last year’s Amateur tournament at St. Petersburg is, at only 17 years of age, the Benjamin of the tournament. Nevertheless, he is already more than a match for any of the other Masters present at lightning chess. He seems to possess a fine eye for combinations and is nearly always to be found on the attack. He will be the object of much interest in this, his first Master tournament.
Duras: The successes in recent years of this strong-willed and cold-blooded Czech are well-known: 2nd at Vienna 1907; 1st = at Vienna 1908; 1st= at Prague 1908; and 3rd/4th= last year at St. Petersburg. His technique is first-rate, his opening knowledge vast, and his endurance remarkable. We feel that he is approaching his full potential as a Master, and expect much of him here.
Dus-Chotimirsky: This Russian’s risky attacking style, always full of ideas, gathers him many admirers if not always many points. All will recall his victories over Dr. Lasker and Rubinstein last year at St. Petersburg, an event in which Dus-Chotimirsky nevertheless finished with a minus score—evidence enough of his variable results.
Forgacs: Formerly known as Fleischmann before taking up residence in Budapest. He states that he is currently somewhat out of practice. Nevertheless, this winner of the 3rd/4th= prizes at Nuremberg 1906 and the 5th prize at Ostend the following year should not be discounted.
Jakob: A reserve player promoted to the top ranks after some of the expected competitors declined to compete (see below). We know little of his history or style; he told us personally that he hopes his nerves can withstand the trials of such a long and grueling event.
John: From Dresden. Always sound, though perhaps rarely spectacular; his 4th place finish at Dusseldorf two years ago represents one of his best results.
Kohnlein: Winner of the Dusseldorf Hauptturnier in 1908. His position as teacher in Pirmasens allows him little opportunity to encounter first-class opposition, a circumstance that this event should remedy, if only temporarily.
Leonhardt: His well-known opening erudition makes him a difficult man to defeat, as was evidenced by his 3rd place finish at Carlsbad 1907, where he lost only two games. Sad to say, he looks rather unwell as the tournament approaches.
Marshall: Our American Champion. His rather one-sided match losses to Dr. Lasker, Dr. Tarrasch, and Capablanca in recent years have perhaps obscured the fact that Marshall has always been far more successful as a tournament performer. A nearly irresistible attacker when he obtains an advantage, and a resourceful defender and perpetrator of countless “swindles” when standing worse, Marshall, we feel, is due for another outstanding tournament success.
Niemzowitsch: (We confess to being unsure of the correct English spelling of this Master's name, having seen many versions in print. We are equally unsure as to why Master N. refused to speak to us when we enquired about this matter.) Most definitely a rising star in the chess world. His finish at Ostend 1907, where he shared the 3rd and 4th places, gave evidence of his great promise. He is said to have spent much time recently in study of the game. Known for his bizarre moves and unusual ideas, he will be a force to be reckoned with.
Salwe: This Lodz player possesses an essentially sound style and limits himself to but a few openings, e.g. the Queen’s Pawn’s Game, of which he knows every nuance. Many encounters with Rubinstein have undoubtedly strengthened his play.
Schlechter: Little need be said in his case. The man who came within a hair’s breadth of taking the World Champion title from Dr. Lasker earlier this year is surely near the zenith of his career. At his best he is nearly impossible to defeat. And he is at his best. Surely he will take a high prize.
Speyer: The Dutch representative is a sound and strong player, though perhaps a bit out of his class here. Still, the other Masters will need to exert themselves to prove that the tournament is too strong for him.
Spielmann: Yet another up-and-coming young talent. His recent match victories over Mieses and Fahrni merely add to his list of successes. A fine attacking player with a maturing style, he no longer seems to lose his head after a defeat. His 3rd/4th finish last year at St. Petersburg, equal with Duras, was perhaps his best tournament result to date. He will surely attempt to surpass that achievement here.
Dr. Tarrasch: The good Doctor has not quite been himself since his defeat by Dr. Lasker in their match for the World Championship two years ago. He has played but little, and his victory in the Ostend Championship tournament of 1907 somehow seems to belong to the distant past. But we firmly believe that the old lion can still bite, and that Dr. Tarrasch will welcome the opportunity to match wits with so many of today’s crop of rising young masters, not to mention a few older and more familiar foes. We expect a good result from him here in Hamburg.
Tartakower: Russia seems to produce an endless string of young hopefuls. Tartakower finished in the middle of the pack at St. Petersburg, but nevertheless is blessed with great talent and imagination, and will undoubtedly go far. He seems to know this: one of the other masters confided to us that if Tartakower’s playing strength ever matches his self-confidence, he could be a potential World Champion.
Teichmann: Can it truly be 16 years since Teichmann played in his first Master tournament at Leipzig? The solid Teichmann has in recent years forgone his work as a teacher of languages to devote himself to chess. Always in the prize-list, if rarely at the top (hence his nickname among the Masters, “Richard the Fifth”), Teichmann can be counted on for another worthy result. And perhaps something more.
Yates: The young English representative, of whom we know only that he is said to possess excellent tactical vision. Like Alekhine and Jakob, Yates owes his place in the tournament to the withdrawal or non-appearance of other, better-known players. Dr. Tarrasch has objected to his participation on the grounds of insufficient strength and achievements. Their game, a true needle-match, will thus surely be one to watch.
Notable absentees include the Champion, Dr. Lasker, currently on tour in South America, as well as his co-winner at last year’s St. Petersburg contest, Rubinstein, who had been expected to play and only recently sent word declining his invitation. Janowski, too, just yesterday declined to participate, and neither Maroczy nor Bernstein has entered the lists. Herrn E. Cohn and E. Post likewise opted not to play when offered the opportunity. Finally, word comes from America that young Capablanca, whose decisive victory over Marshall in their match last year astounded the chess world, and who had gone so far as to book passage across the Atlantic, has now unfortunately canceled his voyage and withdrawn from the tournament owing to ill-health. We wish him the speediest of recoveries and hope to see him cross swords with the European elite in the very near future.
Still, the masters now assembling here in Hamburg represent a more than fair share of the world’s best players. The struggle for prizes promises to be fierce, and he who carries off first honors will have achieved a most notable success. Let the games begin!