“Chess is not for small minds, it demands a full man who does not slavishly adhere to what has been handed down, but seeks to fathom the depths of the game independently.”
Wilhelm Steinitz, world chess champion 1886-1894


“I believe that chess still has magical powers even in old age. A rheumatic knee is forgotten during a game of chess, and other events also become quite unimportant when compared to a catastrophe on the chessboard.”
Vlastimil Hort, chess grandmaster


Bogolyubov and Tartakower were once asked to explain their love of chess in a guestbook. Bogolyubov wrote: “I love chess because it is so logical.”

Tartakower read this and of course could not resist the temptation: “I love chess because it is so illogical.”


You only learn chess by making mistakes. There is always something right in a mistake. Savielly Tartakower (1887-1956)


If your opponent offers you a draw, try to find out why he thinks he is worse off. (Nigel Short, British Grandmaster)

I had a toothache in the first game, headache in the second, a rheumatism attack in the third and during the fourth I didn’t feel good at all. And in the fifth? Well, you don’t have to win every game, do you? (Savielly Tartakower, poln.-franz. Grand Master)

Master Benjamin Blumenfeld was given a position in a game in which he was able to mate with the last move before the time control. He still had about 10 minutes to think and sat there thinking hard. His opponent began to get nervous. Whether the master really does not see the Mate? Another three minutes passed. Everyone held their breath and waited anxiously. Then the master suddenly carried out the mate move.

“What have you thought about?” asked the master’s opponent, puzzled. “Haven’t you really seen the Mate?”.
“Yes, I’ve seen the Mate, but I was trying to figure out why you don’t give up.”

The astonishing logic and mathematical exactness put the game of chess on a par with every exact science, while the beauty and pictoriality of its form of expression, in association with artistic imagination, puts it in line with all other arts. (Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716), philosopher and mathematician)

The game of chess is not just an idle conversation. Various estimable and useful qualities of the mind in the course of human life can thereby be acquired or strengthened, so that they become habits that never let us down. (Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), inventor and statesman in the USA)

Two pretty anecdotes from past chess times – contributed by Peter Schulze

The Berlin master Curt von Bardeleben (1861-1924) was a highly sensitive person, but often bizarre in his surroundings. When he got into a matte attack at the chess congress in Hastings in 1895 after an excellent start and well-founded hopes for a good result against Steinitz, he did not give up the game, but simply disappeared from the tournament hall and could no longer be seen! He later practiced this form of capitulation frequently, so that a then winged word was associated with his name:

“But if your game is completely down, then go out and don’t come back!He
applied a refined form of this practice at the Grandmaster Tournament in Munich in 1900. When he came into a losing position against Schlechter, he again made himself out of the dust, but this time not without singing and sound: He sent a servant who transmitted the game task to his opponent!

At the 46.The match between Vladimir Bagirov and the future world champion Garry Kasparov had ended in a draw in the USSR Championship in Tbilisi, because Kasparov could not decide to make a figure sacrifice at the decisive moment.
The subsequent analysis was all about the omission. Kasparov tried to defend himself by saying that he simply could not have calculated everything until the end. Then former world champion Mikhail Tal said dryly: “Get used to it, Garri: First sacrifice and then calculate!”

Chess is the most complicated waste of human intelligence outside of an advertising agency.
Raymond Chandler

Too little patience is probably the most common reason for losing a game.
Bent Larsen

You don’t have to play well, it’s better to play than your opponent.

The book
thief In the mid-70s, a man was on trial in New York who had stolen more than 800 chess books from various libraries. 

“I would let you get away with it,” the judge proclaimed, “if you had the goal of bringing the World Cup title back to the United States.
But I asked your last opponents, and they thought that Karpov certainly doesn’t have to worry…”

How time passes

In an American championship, Sherwin won all the games in the first rounds.
Reshevsky, who did the same, said,
“Look, no one can beat you. Now I have to stop you!”
“Could be,” Sherwin replied, “but maybe I’ll stop you too!”
“Not in a million years!” was Reshevsky’s answer.
A few laps later, Sherwin beat Reshevsky and said:
“How time flies…”.

Learn chess in five minutes

A grandmaster was once asked,
“What do you think, how much time should you invest in learning to play chess well?”
“It depends on certain abilities: modesty, willpower, talent,…”
“And if I don’t have these skills?”
“Then five minutes is enough!”


Stupid questions….

The English were unable to agree on the procedure when they were awarded places for the interzone tournament in Manila in 1990. Michael Adams prevailed with his proposal of quick games after the candidates were called to a bingo hall, where the drawing of a number was to decide. Adams chose the “9” and won. Asked by a journalist why he chose the “9,” he joked because it was the number of beers he drank last night.

William Hartston asked if he could quote this for the press. Adams denied and was more angry when the story went through the press… sour on Hartston, not because of the story!


Bogoljubov: “Matt in four moves!”
Tartakower: “I ask for any harassment!”

Savielly Tartakower, Grand Master (1887-1956)

“Mr. Alekhine, do you prefer the lady on the board or on the bed?”
“It depends on the position.”

Scrolled in annals….. (contributed by Peter Schulze):

World champion Alexander Alekhine spoke 10 languages and was asked in which language he thought:

“In the things of everyday life Russian,
in abstract questions german in society English or

And in chess?
“If I think at all, then only Russian.”

A game usually has three sections:
the opening, in which you hope to reach the better position,
the middlegame, in which you think you have the better position, and
the endgame, where you know you have a lost game.

Savielly Tartakower, Grand Master (1887-1956)


(contributed by Peter Schulze)

On a chessboard stood the stones colorful flock
planted according to stand and dignity;
the wooden monarch and his lady was
surrounded by brushwoods and towers.
The runners, or if we want to call them
in gallic chancellery style,
the fools played big roles.
The farmers, even a tame cattle,
as long as they do not know their strength, the farmers had to be at the
forefront in order to get their
heads lost first.
The interpretive game began;
Violence and cunning ruled the battles;
Here the servant of the lord and there the servant of the servant, often even the master by his backer was
displaced from his place. The proud Grand Sultan,
unmoved on the right and on the left, saw
half of his nation sink to the ground as victims of
fate, and finally he too fell
from the throne.
Now the master of the game, who hands out the roles to all the stones and even sets them up, takes
them away and
throws the big and the small
into a dark sack. This is the image of the world.

Gottlieb Konrad Pfeffel (1736 – 1809)
From: Alfred Kiefer, Das Schachspiel in Literatur und Kunst Verlag Münchener Buchgewerbehaus GmbH

The tactician needs to know what to do when there is something to do; the strategist needs to know what to do when there is nothing to do.

Savielly Tartakower, Grand Master (1887-1956)

A little anecdote from earlier times:

At the Christmas tournament in Hastings 1936/37, George Koltanowski and Sir George Thomas did not really get going, were constantly at the end of the field and, of course, with particular interest in every game of the other around the red lantern.

The Sir asks his namesake: “You have less, sacrificed or discontinued the quality?”
Koltanowski with a telling gesture: “I can’t say that at the moment. If I win, it was a sacrifice, if I lose, it was an oversight.”

A contribution by Peter Schulze from Leipzig. Thank you very much!

At a tournament in England, George Koltanowski had an advantage against world champion Alekhine and was significantly better when the match was abandoned. During the lunch break, he walked around with his pocket chess and had everyone confirm that he had taken the great Alekhine completely apart. When he met the old mocker Tartakower, he also asked him the question: “Well, what do you think who wins this game?”Tartakower calmly replied, “Alekhine.”

In amazement, Koltanowski shouted, “But my position is clearly better!”Tartakower said dryly: “They didn’t ask me who was better, but who won the game,” and left the stunned Koltanowski standing.
And really: Alekhine won the hanging game!

(by Peter Schulze)