Prince of combinations
The name and writings of Kurt Richter are not
well-known to English players as most of his games and work appeared in German
publications. He was so much revered by his contemporaries that an interesting
little book appeared dedicated to his memory and in particular as a tribute to
his articles in "Schach" a publication of the Chess Association of the German
Democratic Republic. This was written by Werner Golz and comprised a selection
of Richter's articles. The book is entitled "Chess Combination as a Fine Art"
and Golz enlisted both Harry Golombek and Paul Keres to contribute memories of
their association with Richter and their appreciation of his writings.
As a player, Richter was feared by many a master
for his intuitive attacking instincts and many fell victim to his fierce
combinative skills. He was moderately successful in his tournament appearances
mainly because his endeavours were directed towards achieving some beauty rather
than miserly points. In his introduction to the book, Paul Keres explains
Richter's influence thus:
"In the course of its history the game of chess
has produced many outstanding masters, celebrated for the diversity of gifts and
abilities. Among them are players who are distinguished by their constant
successes in competition, but their are others who were perhaps less generally
successful but were universally admired for their creative interest of their
play. The international master, Kurt Richter, belongs to this second group."
To illustrate his search for beauty in chess the
following is an example of a combination taken from one of his articles:
"THE MAGIC OF THE MATING
Polugayevsky - Szilagyi. Moscow 1960
To exchange rooks would not be of much use to
White (to play). How then does he manage to threaten his opponent with mate?
A simple manoeuvre - so simple it must be
obvious! (If you've seen it already so much the better!)
White mated his opponent by 1.Rg1ch
Kh6 2.Bf8ch decoying the black
rook 2. ...Rxf8 3.Rd3! with
the unavoidable threat of mate on h3.
But sometimes it is the simplest move that is
difficult to see."
|Although not given in the
book, the final position deserves a diagram.
Incidentally the book, published in
English in 1976, used descriptive notation.
For other examples taken from his articles see the
Incidentally, can anyone identify the Wheeler who
played Black in the second example?
The final two examples are from Richter's praxis.
Although not flawless they give an indication of his manner of enterprising
A database of his game in Zipped PGN format can be downloaded