Philidor | Morphy | Tarrasch | Lasker | Pillsbury | Rubinstein | Niemzowitsch | Capablanca | Reti | Alekhine | Najdorf | Reshevsky | Khan
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Richard Reti

Of all the great hypermodern chess founders, perhaps the most interesting is Richard Reti. Although born a Hungarian in 1889, he later was deemed a Czechoslovakian after World War I when they moved the country boundaries around. But he always felt himself to be Viennese, since he went to college in Vienna. So he was a 3-country man.

The four famous hypermodern chess founders are Breyer, Reti, Niemzowitch, and Tartakower.

Reti was both a mathematician and a chess player. He once explained that mathematics was of a purely speculative character, while the over the board struggle in chess, where he could force his opponent to acknowledge the truth of his chess ideas, was more alive. This is what makes him most interesting.

In his early years, 1907-1911, he was a good but not great player. It was in 1918 that he burst on to the international scene. In 1918, he won at Kaschau, with Vidmar, Breyer, Asztalos, Havasi and Mieses in that tournament. He shared 1st prize at Budapest in the same year, was 1st at Rotterdam, Amsterdam in 1919 and Vienna in 1920, and above all, he won 1st prize at the great international tournament of Gothenburg in 1920.

Reti then spent the time to write Die neun Ideen im Schachspiel. A year later, an English edition appeared called Modern Ideas In Chess, which all chess players own today.

In 1922 he returned to active international play and was equal 1st at Teplitz-Schonau; in 1923 he was twice 2nd at two important tournaments --- at Mahrisch-Ostrau and Vienna.

When 1924 came around, the great World Champion Jose Capablanca hadn't lost a single game in ten years!! In the great 1924 New York tournament, where Capablanca, Dr. Lasker (the eventual winner), and Dr. Alekhine took part, it was Reti that drew first blood against Capablanca, in A Game That Went Around The World. Reti was the first person that beat Capablanca in 10 years!! Later in the tournament, totally shaken and obviously feeling mortal, Capablanca lost to the great Dr. Lasker.

After this tournament, Reti went to South America and set a World Blindfold Exhibition record of 29 games. He won 20 and lost only 2 (drawing 7). Reti was a great blindfold player, and so was Dr. Alekhine (whose record he broke that day). Dr. Tartakower relates an amusing incident with reference to this: at London, 1922, Dr. Alekhine and Reti were indulging in some blindfold analysis and had apparently come to a full stop of disagreement on a position. Whereupon the great Alekhine said: "Since we are, of course, the two best blindfold players in the world, I think it would be better if we had recourse to a chessboard and men".

Reti didn't play too well for a few years, but he came back to be a great star in 1927. He was 2nd at Bad Homburg and he scored well in the International Team Tournament that year on top board for Czechoslovakia.

In 1928 he obtained 1st's at Vienna and Giessen, and equal 1st at Brno, and a 2nd at Dortmund. Clearly, he was world class.

His last tournament was in January 1929 in Stockholm, Sweden. He came in 1st against Lundin, Stoltz and Stahlberg.

After his great masterpiece, Masters of the Chess Board was prepared for publishing, he died of scarlet fever on June 6th, 1929 in Prague, at the age of forty.

Spielmann's obituary of him in L'Echiquier for 1929 said: "Perhaps his strength did not reside so much in the discovery of a new move or of a tactical finesse hitherto unknown as in a new strategy. Very frequently and only after a few moves, I would find myself settling down against him with a lost position without knowing exactly how it could possibly have happened".

-----Terry Crandall

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Philidor | Morphy | Tarrasch | Lasker | Pillsbury | Rubinstein | Niemzowitsch | Capablanca | Reti | Alekhine | Najdorf | Reshevsky | Khan