Professional chess player: Pillsbury and The Turkish.


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The professional chess player: Pillsbury

From all indignities that a professional chess player must go through to earn a living, one of the worst would be getting inside a cubicle full of gadgets. Getting inside? Hiding. That was what the great American champion Harry Nelson Pillsbury had to do in one of the “Turkish” Ajeeb. A chess automaton like many others did before him.

Our man spent some time like that, in the Chinese Museum in Philadelphia. Pillsbury, the professional chess player, moved the pieces that were supposed, moved by the Turkish. It was summer, the weather in New England was warm and as it is easy to imagine. It was warm inside the creature. And Pillsbury is accustomed to requesting rations of cold beer.

Once, the right hand of Ajeeb took a tower, but the piece did not reach its destination, staying halfway and in the air. The opponent was confused looking from one side to the other, searching for an explication. At that moment, a veteran spectator came by. According to him, this normally happened when Ajeeb was surrendering. An explanation of course, though inexact but sufficient for the amateur player, who later described to his friends on how he beat the unbeatable Turkish.

The deathly fate of Rjumin…

In the Soviet Championship of 1931, two names have played: Botvinnik and Rjumin, of 20 and 23 years of age, respectively. No one was disappointed as their followers, both were on the podium, Rjumin as runner-up and Botvinnik as champion.

1931 was a critical year for Nikolai Rjumin. He beat Grigoriev in one match, a renowned master, with a result of 6,5-1,5 which made it clear. The young Muscovite did not hesitate when it comes to showing his superiority. In that year, also commenced the “gestation” of a record that made him won the Moscow Championship until 1936. An achievement matched later by Smyslov. The feat was no more nonsense.

And in 1933-34, for instance, twenty chess players have taken part, among them were players of the status of Yudovich, Kan, Panov, Blumenfeld, Rabinovich or Verlinsky. Rjumin had not only won in that year, but he also accomplished it with a point and half of the advantage over the second classified player.

The moral successor of Chigorin, with a strong inclination for the attacking play and the combination game, Rjumin has in his brief background victories over grandmasters of the time, such as Stahlberg, Euwe and Capablanca. A commendable feat for someone who has never left Russia!

The fate…

Duke of Rivas wrote it:

“Such unbeatable load
is the vital environment
for the petty being
which born in terrible fate!”

And the existence should be unbeatable for Rjumin, who in 1935 was taken ill with tuberculosis which took him to West Siberia (fresh air) to cure what was inevitable. In 1942 at 34 years of age, he has passed away, after dreams of dreaming with a beautiful dance of obsessive figures upon the chiaroscuro board.


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