Bogoljubow: trash talking in chess

by ChessBase
4/7/2009 – The tradition of trash talking is by no means new to chess. In 1925 Ukrainian-German grandmaster Efim Bogoljubow wrote some fairly nasty stuff about José Raúl Capablanca, and three years later was humiliated by the great Cuban in a highly instructive game which our Playchess lecturer Dennis Monokroussos will show us on Wednesday night (Thursday morning in Europe). 9 p.m. ET.

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Dennis Monokroussos writes:

Talking trash in chess didn't start with Bobby Fischer or Garry Kasparov. For better or worse, it's an old tradition, and we have a perfect example of it in our game for this week.

Ukranian-German grandmaster Efim Bogoljubow (left, 1889-1952) was one of the strongest players in the world from the mid-20s through at least the early 30s, twice playing Alexander Alekhine for the world championship. He was unsuccessful on both occasions, but the fact that he twice contended says something about his strength. He won the major tournament in Moscow 1925 ahead of Emanuel Lasker and the then-world champion, José Raúl Capablanca (picture below), and won many other tournaments as well.

As I said, he defeated Capablanca (1888-1942) in that tournament,
and in the tournament book for Moscow 1925 wrote the following:
"Further, it is apparent that Capablanca finds it very difficult to separate himself from his dry style of play. His technique, on the other hand, has been at least equalled by Bogoljubow and is not especially feared by the other masters."
Pretty cocky fellow, that Bogoljubow. Yes, he had won a prestigious event, but Capablanca was the world champion and lauded as an all-time great. Further, Capablanca had beaten "Bogo" in their individual game in the tournament, so a bit more humility might have been in order. At any rate, I imagine that everyone reading this knows what happened in their next game.

It took a while to occur, as tournaments were rarer in those days, but they next met in Bad Kissingen 1928. Capablanca had lost his crown to Alekhine the year before, and Bogoljubow's star was still on the rise – he would play his first match with Alekhine a year later. In fact, to Bogoljubow's credit, he won the tournament. In round nine, though, his game with Capablanca went exactly according to the script. They very quickly reached an endgame, one that started with Bogoljubow enjoying at least equality, and from that point on he was completely and brutally outplayed. On move 20, he was equal or possibly a touch better; by move 32, he was simply lost, and without having made any outright blunders.

It's a good story, but it's also an instructive game. Capablanca's endgame technique was almost always at an extremely high level, and there is much we can learn from him. Further, this particular ending is useful because of the pawn structure – it's one that arises fairly often in games of every level. And finally, the finish is very nice; a beautiful way of completing the humiliation Bogo should have felt in light of his earlier comments. There's a lesson to be learned, and it's not just a chess lesson.

To see the details in all their glory, it's simple. Log on to the server at 9 p.m. ET/3 a.m. CET tonight (Wednesday night/Thursday early morning), go to the Broadcast Room and select Bogoljubow-Capablanca from the Games tab. That's all there is to it, and the show is free. Hope to see you then.

Dennis Monokroussos' Radio ChessBase lectures begin on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. EST, which translates to 02:00h GMT, 03:00 Paris/Berlin, 13:00h Sydney (on Thursday). Other time zones can be found at the bottom of this page. You can use Fritz or any Fritz-compatible program (Shredder, Junior, Tiger, Hiarcs) to follow the lectures, or download a free trial client.

You can find the exact times for different locations in the world at World Time and Date. Exact times for most larger cities are here. And you can watch older lectures by Dennis Monokroussos offline in the Chess Media System room of Playchess:

Enter the above archive room and click on "Games" to see the lectures. The lectures, which can go for an hour or more, will cost you between one and two ducats. That is the equivalent of 10-20 Euro cents (14-28 US cents).

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Dennis Monokroussos is 41, lives in South Bend, IN, where he teaches chess and occasionally works as an adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame and Indiana University-South Bend.

At one time he was one of the strongest juniors in the U.S. and has reached a peak rating of 2434 USCF, but several long breaks from tournament play have made him rusty. He is now resuming tournament chess in earnest, hoping to reach new heights.

Dennis has been working as a chess teacher for ten years now, giving lessons to adults and kids both in person and on the internet, worked for a number of years for New York’s Chess In The Schools program, where he was one of the coaches of the 1997-8 US K-8 championship team from the Bronx, and was very active in working with many of CITS’s most talented juniors.

When Dennis Monokroussos presents a game, there are usually two main areas of focus: the opening-to-middlegame transition and the key moments of the middlegame (or endgame, when applicable). With respect to the latter, he attempts to present some serious analysis culled from his best sources (both text and database), which he has checked with his own efforts and then double-checked with his chess software.

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