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 mating attack





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 opposite.

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 play.

A database of his game in Zipped PGN format can be downloaded HERE

(1) Drimer - Ciocaltea
Rumanian Championship Dresden, 1955

One shouldn't at any price try to make fancy moves in order to appear in the guise of a dashing hero to the spectators present. Moreover one should not attempt a humerous ending to a game the result of which seems a foregone conclusion. Laughter can only too easily dissolve into tears. Black saw that he could no longer win and with an eye on the gallery gaily played

at the same time offering his opponent a draw; his offer was accepted without much reflection. However, White could have won! How? After [1...Rg8 2.Rxg8 h2 the game is by no means drawn as both players thought, but White wins by 3.Kg3! Kg1 4.Kh3+ Kh1 5.Ra8 etc. This interesting case of chess blindness shows how uncertain even the masters can be in apparently simple positions.] 1/2-1/2