Rubinstein was born on December 12, 1882 in Stawisk, Poland.
Just a few weeks before his birth, his father had died leaving
his wife in poverty with twelve children. His grand parents
decided to look after the young Akiba and then tried to shape
his future as a teacher of the Talmud and a student of Hebrew,
as his father and other forebears had been. Consequently his
initial education was to be undertaken in Jewish community
schools and then in a higher academy of religious instruction.
the time he spent in the academy, he was introduced to and
became fascinated in chess and this became an over-whelming
passion of his life, much to his motherís and grand parentís
chagrin. A religious career was forgotten and the world was to
see and marvel at a player of great talent.
Akiba had a nervous disorder known as anthropophobia being a
fear of people and society. This proved to be an extremely
difficult disability and he suffered with the problems all his
aged nineteen, Rubinstein discovered that George Salwe Ė a
champion who had played against the greatest of the day Ė
lived in nearby Lodz. He did not hesitate, and moving to Lodz he
eked out a living whilst playing against some of the strongest
chess players in Poland. Eventually he had the temerity to
challenge Salwe himself. They played a match which finished in
deadlock at 5:5. A second deciding match was played that Akiba
won by 5:3. Rubinstein had become the champion of Poland and as
an acknowledged master, he now received invitations to
first of these was at Kiev where he finished in fifth place. In
1905 he gained further international recognition by sharing
third place with Duras at a Hauptturnier in Bremen.
heralded the start of a magnificent trail to reach a group of
the strongest players in the world. In 1905 he took part in a
tournament at Ostende and finished 3rd ahead of
Bernstein, Teichman, Marshall and Janowski behind Schlechter and
Maroczy. The following year he once more played in Ostende and
this time shared first place well ahead of 28 players. Later in
the same year he won the Karlsbad tournament outright and
followed this in 1909 by sharing first place with Lasker at St.
Petersburg. In their individual encounter, Rubinstein put Lasker
to the sword (see the games following) and it was probably this
game that made Lasker very wary of playing a world championship
match against Rubinstein. Although Rubinstein seemed to be the
natural contender for the championship, Lasker played Shlechter
and just succeeded in drawing the match.
had yet to reach his purple patch which occurred in 1912 during
which in twelve months he won first prizes at San Sebastian,
Pistyan, Breslau, Warsaw and Vilna. A truly amazing performance.
a relative disappointment at St. Petersburg 1914, when he did
not reach the finals, the First World War broke out, and this
was to mark an extreme change in both the health and results of
Rubinstein. He never fully recovered the form he had enjoyed
prior to the war, but he did achieve reasonable performances for
the next fifteen years. He became increasingly reclusive and his
health deteriorated even more harshly.
1932 he never appeared again in a tournament and probably
because of his infirmity he was left alone by the Nazis in the
Second World War. Although he spent considerable time in a
sanatorium, he died in the midst of his family in Belgium in
chess heritage is still very evident today. He was the one
player of his era who considered the end game in his choice of
openings. There are many variations that bear his name.
originated the Rubinstein System against the Tarrasch Defence
variation of The Queen's Gambit Declined 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 c5 3.c4
e6 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.g3 Nf6 7.Bg2 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Qb6
(Rubinstein - Tarrasch, 1912). He is also credited with
inventing the Meran Variation, which stems from the Queen's
Gambit Declined but reaches a position of the Queen's Gambit
Accepted with Black one move ahead.
he certainly has no shortage of lines named for him. The
"Rubinstein Attack" often refers to 1 d4 d5 2 c4 e6 3
Nc3 Nf6 4 Bg5 Be7 5 e3 0-0 6 Nf3 Nbd7 7 Qc2. The Rubinstein
variation of the French defence arises after 1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3
Nc3 (or 3 Nd2) dxe4 4 Nxe4. The Rubinstein variation of the
Nimzo-Indian is the most popular line of the Nimzo: 1.d4 Nf6
2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3.