Historical material on Euwe and Capablanca

3/13/2012 – The Dutch channel Geschiedenis 24 specializes in historic archive footage, which is provided on cable and satellite – but also on the Internet. G24 has happily dug into its chess holdings and put some remarkable material online. We start with a portrait of the former World Champion Max Euwe, which includes a segment with José Raúl Capablanca talking. A treasure trove.

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Geschiedenis 24 (History 24) is a digital channel operated by the Dutch Public Broadcasting, broadcasting 24-hour historic documentaries and reports on historic events. Most of the programmes come from the archives of the public broadcasting service, but Geschiedenis 24 also produces its own programmes. The channel, which was launched on 6 February 2005, broadcasts via digital packets, on both cable and on satellite. It is also available on the Internet.

In the first section below we have a fascinating report which includes José Raúl Capablanca. An extreme rarity: you can hear the legendary world champion speak.

Han Hollander interviews Max Euwe and Capablanca

Radio Reporter Han Hollander speaks with José Raúl Capablanca and Max Euwe about the forthcoming match Euwe-Alekhine. The video starts with Hollander playing a game against Euwe and thinking he is lost. Capablanca then enters and shows him how he can actually win the position. They then discusses the upcoming World Championship match between Euwe and Alekhine, on which Capablanca says (at 1:15 into the video): "Dr. Alekhine's game is 20% bluff. Dr. Euwe's game is clear and straightforward. Dr. Euwe's game – not so strong as Alekhine's in some respects – is more evenly balanced."

Portrait of Max Euwe

The above is one of a Geschiedenis24 series of portraits of personalities from the sports world. In an interview conducted at various locations in the Netherlands and the USSR the former world chess champion and President of the World Chess Federation (FIDE)...

... Prof. Dr. Max Euwe, speaks about:

  • his memories of the match he played for the world title in 1935 against Alexander Alekhine;
  • his chess career at a national and international level;
  • his dual activities as a chess master and his profession as a mathematics teacher;
  • teaching girls and his family composition;
  • the reasons for his losing the rematch in 1937;
  • his visits to many countries;
  • why chess in Russia is so popular and why the Russians are so good at chess;
  • his postwar achievements, his pioneering work in developing the computer at Remmington Rand
  • the Presidency of FIDE.

A highlight is the section (starting at 5:40 min) with the mother of GM Jan Timman, who spends the entire segment wrestling with a large pet dog while talking about her former teacher Euwe.

Another interesting segment (starting at 21:10 min) is with the former World Champion Boris Spassky, who reveals that his first chess book was "Chess Lessons by Max Euwe". He read it ("carefully") when he was nine years old. The entire part with Spassky, who looks quite enchanting, is conducted in English and is well worth watching. Boris says that Euwe's style has a "special aroma" – it is full of tactics, which is beauty in chess.

Starting at 23:15 min GM Salo Flohr talks about his friendship with Max Euwe – in flawless German. He reminds us that of the approximately 100 games that Euwe played against Alekhine the latter was able to score only +2 or +3.

At 27:00 min we see Mikhail Botvinnik, who speaks about the role that Euwe played in his life and career. There are further interviews with Donner (31:06) on Euwe's style of chess and Hans Ree (34:30) on learning chess from Euwe's books.

There is a wealth of wonderful chess footage and still shots in the report. We are going to have to learn Dutch to enjoy it to the full. The written language is easy, but when the Dutch speak it we have to capitulate. The standard joke is: Dutch is like a drunken Englishman trying to speak German. Note that we are not afraid of thousands of people going out on the streets screaming for our blood over this joke – it was told to us by a Dutch grandmaster.

See also:

Edward Winter's Chess Explorations (41)
14.06.2010 – In reply to a reader in Switzerland who asks about recordings of chess masters’ voices from the pre-Botvinnik era, the Editor of Chess Notes explores the subject, quoting a number of reports about, among others, the world champions Alekhine, Capablanca, Euwe and Lasker. And when did the first radio broadcast about chess take place? Any advance on 1923?

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