Kurt Richter

A Chess Biography with 499 Games

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About the Book

German master Kurt Richter (1900–1969) made significant contributions to the chess world as a player, and as an editor and author. Unassuming in real life, Richter was a fearsome opponent who expressed himself mainly through his over-the-board results, as well as through his chess journalism and literary output. He was responsible for several innovative openings, some of which gained renewed status in later years. This overview of his life and games sheds light on a player who should be better known, with much never-before-seen material. Examples of his entertaining writings on chess are included, some featuring his fictitious student opponent, Dr. Zabel. A wide selection of games illustrates the surprising combinations and brilliant style of play that earned him the title “The Executioner of Berlin.”

About the Author(s)

Alan McGowan has been associated with Cathcart Chess Club in Glasgow, Scotland and the Kitchener-Waterloo Chess Club in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.  He has helped edit Scottish Chess and Chess Canada Échecs and is the historian for Chess Scotland. He lives in Waterloo, Ontario.

Bibliographic Details

Alan McGowan
Format: library binding (8.5 x 11)
Pages: 384
Bibliographic Info: 93 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, indexes
Copyright Date: 2018
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6906-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3320-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi
Preface 1
Introduction 3
♦ Prologue. 1900–1918 5
The 1914–1918 War and Its Aftermath 5
First Chess Club: ­Springer–Berlin 5
♦ Part 1. 1919–1924 Venturing Forth 8
1919 8
1920 8
Berlin 1920—German Chess Federation Congress 9
1921 9
Berlin Championship 1921 9
Maróczy and Tartakower 10
Published Chess Problems 11
Blitz Tournament and Consultation Game 12
1922 12
Berlin Championship 1922—First Tournament Success 12
Club Events 15
Bad Oeynhausen 1922—22nd Congress of the German Chess Federation 15
1923 17
Berlin Championship 1923 17
1st Congress of the Brandenburg Chess Association 17
Frankfurt 1923 18
Winners’ Group 19
1924 20
Berlin Championship 1924 20
New Chess Periodical 20
Winter Tournament of the Schachverein 1876 20
♦ Part 2. 1925–1929 Signs of Progress 22
1925 22
Jägerklause Tournament 1925 22
Berlin Championship 1925 23
1926 26
Berlin Championship 1926 26
A Change of Clubs 28
Berlin Club Championship 1926 28
Scharfrichter: The Executioner of Berlin 28
1927 28
Berlin Championship 1927 28
Berlin 1927—2nd Congress of the German Chess Association 30
Berlin Team Championship 1927-28 31
Employment 31
1928 32
First Editorial Position 32
Freie Schachvereinigung 1928 33
Gaining the Master Title 34
Wiesbaden 1928 35
No Respect for the Law 36
Berlin–Stockholm Match 1928 36
First International Masters’ Tournament 37
Blitz Tournaments 41
Berlin Club Championship 1928-29 42
1929 42
Copenhagen–Berlin Match 1929 42
Berlin Chess Cafés 43
Berlin Championship 1929 44
Bremen Chess Promotion 45
German Championship—Duisburg 1929 45
♦ Part 3. 1930–1932 Making His Mark 51
1930 51
Wilmersdorf Jubilee 1930 51
Berlin, Four Masters Tournament 1930 52
Naming Rights … and Wrongs 53
Berlin Championship 1930 54
Swinemünde 1930 54
Hamburg Olympiad 1930 56
Berlin Club Championship 1930-31 60
Berliner Schachgesellschaft Championship 1930 60
Yearbook—Berliner Schachführer 61
1931 61
Then He Took Berlin: Stoltz of Sweden 61
Aleister Crowley in Berlin 62
German Championship—Swinemünde 1931 62
Prague Olympiad 1931 65
Bled 1931: Richter’s Nonappearance 71
Cottbus to Berlin 71
Berliner Schachgesellschaft Championship 1931-32 72
Here Be No Dragons 73
1932 73
Berliner Schachgesellschaft Winter Tournament 74
Schachverein 1876 Club Championship 74
Kiel 1932 74
Richter’s Opinion about Draws 75
Hamburg, Four Masters Match-Tournament 1932 76
Berlin Championship 1932 77
Swinemünde 1932 79
Opening Innovation 81
Stargard 1932 83
Bruno Moritz 84
Berlin–Hamburg Telephone Match 1932 85
Berliner Schachgesellschaft Championship 1932-33 85
Bogoljubow Consultation Game and Interview 88
♦ Part 4. 1933–1935 Adapting to Change 90
1933 90
“Such a Parcel of Rogues in a Nation” 90
Berlin Championship 1933 90
Reorganization of German Chess 94
Bad Aachen 1933 94
Germany and FIDE 96
Swinemünde 1933 97
Bad Pyrmont 1933 98
Bad Salzbrunn 1933 100
1934 101
Promoting Chess 101
Berlin (West District) Championship 1934 102
Physician Heal Thyself: Richter and “Dr. Zabel” 103
New Chess Pieces (Schachfiguren Bundesform) 104
Bad Niendorf 1934 104
Drawing Conclusions 111
German Team Championship 1934 111
“Dr. Zabel” Consults Again 113
En Passant: Deaths 114
1935 115
Berlin Master Tournament 1935 115
Move to Karlshorst 118
Olympiad Training 118
Berlin Team Tour 1935 118
Swinemünde 1935 120
German Champion—Bad Aachen 1935 121
Berthold Koch 126
Bad Nauheim 1935 127
Losing Beautifully: A Combinational Masterpiece 130
Zoppot 1935 131
♦ Part 5. 1936–1939 At His Creative Best 135
1936 135
German Team Championship 1935-36 135
Berlin Championship 1936 135
Opening Ideas 137
Publication of Kombinationen 137
Recuperation 137
Swinemünde 1936 138
Poděbrady 1936 140
Munich 1936—The Unofficial Olympiad 148
1937 159
Berlin Championship 1937 160
Berliner Schachgesellschaft Jubilee Tournament 1937 162
Berlin–Hamburg Telephone Match 1937 165
Bad Elster 1937 165
Bad Saarow 1937 167
Tournament Losses 170
German Championship 1937 171
A Forced Move 174
Berlin 1937 (Christmas) 174
En Passant: Deaths 174
1938 174
Berlin Club Championship 1938 175
Germany–Austria Friendship Tournament 1938 176
An Opening Innovation 177
Berlin Championship 1938 178
Germany–Scandinavia Match 1938 179
Bad Harzburg 1938 180
Polishing the Polish 182
German Championship 1938 183
En Passant: Deaths 187
1939 187
Berlin Club Championship 1939 187
Best Games 188
Germany–Hungary Match 1939 188
Stuttgart 1939 190
German Club Championship—Stuttgart 1939 195
Bad Oeynhausen 1939 196
Olympiad and War 199
Correspondence Chess 199
♦ Part 6. 1940–1945 The War Years 202
1940 202
Berlin Club Championship 1940 202
Schachgesellschaft Club Championship 1940 203
Berlin–Karlsbad Match 1940 203
Schachgesellschaft Training Tournament 1940 203
Schlage Memorial Tournament, Berlin 1940 204
Chess for the Military 206
German Championship—Bad Oeynhausen 1940 206
Cracow–Krynica–Warsaw 1940 210
Krynica 211
Warsaw 212
1941 214
Schachgesellschaft Club Championship 1941 214
Berlin Club Championship 1941 215
Berlin Championship 1941 216
German Championship—Bad Oeynhausen 1941 216
Munich 1941 220
1942 230
Drafted 230
Publishing Success 230
Munich 1942 231
Pressing Problems 242
Publish and Be Praised 243
1943–1944 244
A Deteriorating Situation 244
1945 245
Fall of Berlin 245
Prisoner of War 245
♦ Part 7. 1946–1949 Rebuilding 246
1946–1947 246
Starting Over 246
Chess Life 246
Soviet Military Administration 247
Chess Periodicals 248
Looking for Problems 248
Surfacing Slowly 249
Publishing Success 250
1948 251
Berlin Championship 1948 251
Chess Journalism 255
Radio 256
1949 256
Four Cities ­Match-Tournament 1949 256
Berlin Championship 1949 256
German Championship 1949 258
A New Phase 260
Another Visit from the Doctor 260
Berlin–East Germany Match 261
♦ Part 8. 1950–1959 The Two Germanys 263
1950 263
Berlin Team Championship 1950 263
Berlin Championship 1950 263
A New Generation 265
International Affairs 265
Local Matters 266
Berlin–East Germany Match 266
1951 267
Berlin Championship 1951 267
Berlin–East Germany Match 268
Public Relations 269
1952 270
Berlin Championship 1952 271
Short Games, Long Praise 272
Consecutive Losses 273
1953 274
A New Phase 274
“My Opinion on the Chess Problem” 274
East Berlin–West Berlin Match 278
1954–1956 279
1957 279
Berlin–Hamburg Match 1957 279
Berlin Championship 1957 279
More of Richter’s Opinions 281
1958 282
Munich Olympiad 1958: Richter Honored 282
1959 283
♦ Part 9. 1960–1969 The Final Years 285
Memories of 50 Years in Chess 287
Endgame Preparation 289
In Memoriam 290
Last Words and Recommended Reading 291
Richter’s Burial Plot 291
Appendices
♦ Appendix A: Additional Games 293
♦ Appendix B: Tournament and Match Results 315
Berlin Championship 315
German Championship 316
Others 316
Matches—Team and Individual 317
♦ Appendix C: Richter’s Openings with White 318
Queen’s Pawn: Richter’s Opening 318
Sicilian Defense: ­Richter-Rauzer Variation 321
The Positional Approach 323
And Then Along Came Rauzer 324
French Defense 325
Winawer Variation: 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 325
Rubinstein Variation: 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 d×e4 325
Burn Variation: 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 d×e4 326
McCutcheon Variation: 4. … Bb4 326
Anderssen-Richter: 4. … Be7 5. B×f6 B×f6 6. e5 Be7 7. Qg4 326
Ruy Lopez 328
Ruy Lopez: Open Variation 329
Ruy Lopez: Steinitz Defense Deferred 330
♦ Appendix D: Richter’s Openings with Black 332
Budapest Defense 332
Budapest Gambit: 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e5 3. d×e5 Ne4 332
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e5 3. d×e5 Ne4 4. various 333
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e5 3. d×e5 Ne4 4. Nf3 Nc6 333
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e5 3. d×e5 Ne4 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. Nbd2 Nc5 334
Polish Defense: 1. d4 b5 and 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 b5 334
1. d4 b5 334
1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 b5 335
Scandinavian Defense: 1. e4 d5 335
1. e4 d5 2. e×d5 Nf6 336
1. e4 d5 2. e×d5 Nf6 3. d4… 336
Notes 339
Bibliography 347
Index of Opponents 351
Index of Annotators 353
Index of Openings—Traditional Names 354
Index of Openings—ECO Codes 356
General Index 358

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “A wonderful biography… The secret of a great biography is not only to describe the subject but also the era in which he lived. …a wealth of detail… I was more and more intrigued with every page I read. … A treasure trove of games and a wonderful overview of the German chess scene of this period! 5 shining stars!”—New in Chess
  • “This sumptuous book has given me the taste for his approach to chess…heartily recommend…it’s very much a labour of love”—Chess
  • “Fantastic…a phenomenal effort in unearthing an incredible amount of interesting material and exciting attacking games…all those with an interest in chess history will support this magnificent work which has been so thoroughly researched, detailed and referenced…many hours’ worth of absorbing reading.”—American Chess Magazine;
  • “A model of scholarship…this is a book you will certainly want to add to your reading list.”—The Chess Improver
  • “Wonderful made McFarland Book…. The research of this book done by the author is more than impressive”—Chessbooks.nl
  • “Full of brilliant games, deeply annotated…a fascinating reconstruction of Kurt Richter’s life…numerous, often truly outstanding, photos of chess masters.”—Kingpin Chess Magazine
  • “A highly readable chess biography…what the book does incredibly well is relate Richter’s career to the context of the times and, indeed, recreate the ambience of those often extraordinary years. It is lavishly illustrated with a treasure trove of contemporary photos…. The extensive background material is detailed and vivid…. The sheer amount of material – much of it original – which Alan has processed throughout the work is phenomenal…timeless..a fabulous biography…it is a pleasure to be able to immerse oneself in a work to which the author has devoted four decades of his life…recommend…highly..superb”—Chess Scotland
  • “A model of what a game collection and biography should be. This beautifully produced oversize red hardback with library binding covers everything related to the life of Kurt Richter. The close to 500 well-annotated games in this book feature a wealth of aggressive chess with beautiful combinations and sharp attacks throughout. The games are not only reason to buy this book. McGowan, who spent three decades researching and writing this work in what was clearly a labor of love, has uncovered a great deal of previously unknown material pertaining to not only Richter but his contemporaries. McFarland has published many outstanding books the past three-plus decades and Kurt Richter: A Chess Biography with 499 Games ranks right up there with the best. This is a wonderful book…highly recommended”—IM John Donaldson
  • “The book highlights not only Richter’s career, but also the German chess culture and the effect that the two world wars had on his play. A well-researched monograph that does a nice job of introducing the reader to all aspects of [Richter’s] life, especially those before the Second World War”—Mind’s Eye Press.