- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Winning a world championship is nice, but if you really want to enhance your brand in chess, invent an opening.

Relatively minor players such as Evans, Falkbeer, Caro and Kann have claimed a secure piece of chess immortality for pioneering (or at least getting their names attached to) popular gambits and opening variations. Think about it: Ruy Lopez may be the most famous Spanish priest in history after Torquemada, and he gets far more Google hits these days.

Kurt Paul Otto Joseph Richter was one of the best German players of the first half of the 20th century and the subject of a new “chess biography”/game collection by noted chess author Alan McGowan. But Richter will be forever linked to Ukrainian GM Vsevolod Rauzer in one of the most popular attacking variations in the Sicilian Defense (the Richter-Rauzer Attack, B60 in your Elo scorecard).

Richter and Rauzer never met over the board, but the German star did take down another fellow opening formulator when he beat Swiss GM Henri Grob (he of the eponymous Grob’s Opening, 1. g4!?) in a 1939 event. Of course, the opening was a — Queen’s Indian!

The game takes an odd turn right out of the opening, with Black’s king already packing his bags after 7. e6 fxe6 8. Nxe4 dxe4 9. Qh5+, when White holds the edge after 9…g6 10. Qe5 Rg8 11. Qxe6 Rg7 12. Bc4. With 13…Nd7, Grob appears to be organizing a semblance of a defense, but Richter never gives him the time to batten his hatches down.

Thus: 14. d5! Nf6 15. dxc6+ Kxc6 16. Qh3 g5 (Bc8 17. Rd1 Qe8 18. Qc3+ Kb7 19. Qc7+ Ka6 20. 20. Bc4+ is good for White) 17. Be5, and Black’s king is in a box.

With the Black king holed up on a4, White finishes things in style: 25. Ne2! (disdaining the coming pin on his rook) Bc8 26. Qf5! Qe5?! (tougher was 26…Qg6, but White remains on top on 27. Qxg6 hxg6 28. Rc7 Rb8 29. Rxa7+ Kb3 30. fxe3 Bg4 31. Nd4+ Kc3 32. h3 Bc8 33. 0-0) 27. Qc2+ Kxa3 28. 0-0! (adding a rook to the attack) Bxd7 29. Rb1 exf2+ 30. Kf1 31. Qc1+ Ka2 32. c5+!, and Black resigned as the queen deflection allows 32…Qxd5 33. Nc3 mate.

Richter did not fare so well in a 1938 game against an opponent who had not just a variation but an entire opening named for him — Slovenian star Vasja Pirc, he of the Pirc Defense. In an oh-the-irony Classical Ruy Lopez, we pick up the action from today’s diagram after 30…axb5, where Pirc as Black already has built up a sizable advantage due to White’s ill-placed pieces, particularly the unfortunate knight on a3.

Trying to shake things up, Richter tries 31. e5!? (Red1 Qe5 32. g4 Ra8 leaves Black in charge) Rgxe5 32. Rxe5 Nxe5 33. Qd1, hoping perhaps to do something with his command of the d-file.

But Pirc pierces the defense neatly with the deadly 33…Neg4!! 34. hxg4 (Qg1 Re1! 35. Rd8+ Ne8 36. Rxe8+ Rxe8 37. hxg4 Qg3! 38. Be4 Rxe4 39. Nc2 Rxg4 and wins) Nxg4 35. g3 (Qg1 Qg3!, with the deadly dual threats of 36…Re1 and 36…Qh4+) Qxg3 36. Qf1 (Re2 Nf2+ 27. Rxf2 Qxf2 and there’s no defense to …Re1) g6! (not getting careless with 36…Re1?? 37. Rd8+) 37. Qg1 Qh3+, and White resigns facing 38. Rh2 Nxh2 39. Qg2 (Qxh2 Re1 mate) Re1+ 40. Qg1 Nf3 mate.

Richter-Grob, Stuttgart, 1939

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nc3 b6 3. e4 Bb7 4. e5 Ne4 5. Qf3 d5 6. Bb5+ c6 7. e6 fxe6 8. Nxe4 dxe4 9. Qh5+ Kd7 10. Bc4 Ba6 11. Bb3 Kc8 12. Bxe6+ Kb7 13. Bf4 Nd7 14. d5 Nf6 15. dxc6+ Kxc6 16. Qh3 g5 17. Be5 Kb7 18. Rd1 Qe8 19. Bxf6 exf6 20. Rd7+ Kc6 21. Bd5+ Kb5 22. c4+ Ka5 23. a3 e3 24. b4+ Ka4 25. Ne2 Bc8 26. Qf5 Qe5 27. Qc2+ Kxa3 28. O-O Bxd7 29. Rb1 exf2+ 30. Kf1 Ba4 31. Qc1+ Ka2 32. c5+ Black resigns.

David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by email [email protected].

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