Chess Archaeology HomeChess is a scientific game and its literature ought to be placed on the basis of the strictest truthfulness, which is the foundation of all scientific research.W. Steinitz

Adolf Albin: The Teacher of Nimzovich?
by Tomasz Lissowski

    “Wanted,” declares renowned chess historian Edward Winter in his latest essay for The Chess Cafe website.  This time he does not call for condemnation of inaccurate or poorly written chess books and articles, but rather recommends a list of chess history books which deserve English translation as well as suggesting other subjects still awaiting an author.  Winter writes, and I am truly of the same opinion, that Labourdonnais, de Vère, Gunsberg, Harrwitz, Winawer, and Breyer deserve separate monographs.  “The list could, of course, be prolonged,” says Winter.  My intention here is to offer an additional candidate for Winter’s list.
    Adolf Albin participated in major European tournaments for more than ten years.  He also visited the New World, taking part in tournaments in New York City and Buffalo, as well as playing matches with Albert Hodges, Eugene Delmar, and Jackson Showalter.  Albin’s best tournament result may well have been his second place finish at New York 1893, where he trailed well behind an irresistible Emanuel Lasker (13-0!!), but ahead of the likes of Showalter, Delmar, Pillsbury, and Pollock.  Albin began participating in serious chess events relatively late in life, and in fact never recovered the ground his delayed start in the game cost him.  Although he seldom finished a tournament in the top half of the cross table, in single encounters he was a dangerous and wily opponent for anyone, including the very best.
    Tarrasch wrote of the following game in his Dreihundert Schachpartien, Leipzig 1895, that “I carelessly played a little known line from Bilguer.   My opponent, instead of making the weak reply according to theory, immediately found a much better one and reached an advantageous position.  Thus I lost a game due to my good memory and the bad one of my opponent!”
Albin,A — Tarrasch,S
Giuoco Piano: Greco
GER Dresden (Seventh German Chess Association Congress)
Annotations by Tomasz Lissowski, Siegbert Tarrasch & the BCM
1.e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.cxd4 Bb4+ 7.Bd2 Nxe4 
Tarrasch: Usually 7...Bxd2+ is played.  I adopted the text move many times in Nürnberg and not without success.
8.Bxb4 Nxb4 9.Bxf7+ Kxf7 10.Qb3+ d5 11.Ne5+ Kf6 
Tarrasch: A move, proposed by Vitzthum, and recommended by Max Lange, and called correct by Bilguer, which, along with the next two moves, creates the main idea of Black’s defense.
Lissowski: Lionel Kieseritzky in his match against Buckle, Paris 1848, invariably played 11...Ke7.
12.Qxb4 c5 13.Qa4 Qe8 14.Qd1!
Tarrasch: This move secures a positional advantage for White in all variations.  So-called “theoretical analyses” only considers here the exchange of queens, when Black has a good game.
14...Ng5 15.f4 Ne6 16.Nc3 g6 17.Nxd5+ Kg7 18.0-0 cxd4 19.f5 Nf4 20. f6+ Kf8 21.Ne7 Qb5 22.Rxf4 Qxe5 23.Qxd4 Qxd4+ 24.Rxd4 Be6 25.Rd6 Kf7 26.Re1 Bxa2 27.Nd5 Rhd8 28.Re7+ Kf8 29.Rxd8+ Rxd8 30.Nc3 Bf7 31. Rxb7 a6 32. Ra7 Rd2 33.Ne4 Rxb2 34.Ra8+ Be8 35.Nd6 1-0. 
BCM: And Black resigns, for if 35...Re2; 36.f7, etc.  Herr Albin was warmly congratulated after his victory.
British Chess Magazine, 1892, p361

Albin,A — Steinitz,W
Spanish: Classical
GER  Nürnberg
Annotation by Ludek Pachman
1. e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.e5 Ne4 7.cxd4 Bb4+ 8. Kf1 Qe7 9.Qc2 f5 10.h4 Ba5 11.a3 Bb6 12.Be3 0-0 13.Bc4+ Kh8 14.h5 Qe8 15.Qe2 Ne7 16.Nc3 d6 17.Bf4 Bd7 18.Re1 Bc6 19.Rh2 Rd8 20.g3 d5 21. Bd3 Kg8 22.Kg2 Bd7 23.Bc2 Be6 24.Rd1 h6 25.Qe3 Kh7 26.Ba4 Qf7 27.Ne2 c5 28.b4 cxb4 29.axb4 Rc8 30.Ne1 Rc4 31.f3 Rxb4 32.Bc2 Rc8 33.g4 Rb2 34.Qc1 Ra2 35.Qb1 Raxc2 36.Nxc2 Nc3 37.Nxc3 Rxc3 38.g5 hxg5 39.Bxg5 Nc6 40.Qb2 Rc4 41.f4 Qc7 42.Kh1 Ba5 43.Ne3 Rb4 44.Qg2 Qf7 45.Rg1 Rxd4
46.Bf6! Rd3 
46...gxf6 47.h6 Rxf4 48.Qg7+ Qxg7 49.hxg7+ Kg8 50.Rh8+ and mate in two.
47.Qxg7+ Qxg7 48.Rxg7+ Kh6 49.Rxb7 1-0. 
Revista Romana de Sah, 1948, p311-313

    Adolf Albin added some innovations to openings theory.  Yet, paradoxically, a line invented by another player, whose name is now unknown to the chess world, bears Albin’s name, while his name is omitted from the line he really invented.
Albin,A — Csank,A
French: Classical (Albin)
AUT Wien (Kolisch Memorial Tournament)
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.e5 Nfd7 6.h4 
“Adolf Albin introduced it ...”, Hooper & Whyld, The Oxford Companion to Chess.
And often called the Alekhine-Chatard attack. -[Pope]
6...Bxg5 7.hxg5 Qxg5 8.Nf3 Qe7 9.Nb5 Nf8 10.c3 Na6 11.Bd3 Bd7 12.Qe2 Bc6 13.Na3 Nb8 14.Nc2 Bd7 15.Qe3 Nc6 16.Ng5 h6 17.f4 Rg8 18.Nf3 0-0-0 19.b4 Rh8 20.a4 Rg8 21.a5 Nb8 22.b5 Qe8 23.Rb1 Qe7 24.c4 c6 25.b6 a6 26.c5 Re8 27.Nb4 Kd8 28.Qe2 Bc8 29.g4 Ng6 30.Qh2 f5 31.gxf5 exf5 32.Rg1 Nf8 33.Kd2 Qf7 34.Qh4+ Re7 35.Rg2 Ne6 36.Rbg1 Ke8 37.Rg6 Ng5 38.fxg5 Qxg6 39.gxh6 Qh7 40.Qh5+ Kf8 41.Rg6 gxh6 42.Rf6+ Rf7 43.Rxh6 Qg7 44.e6 Rf6 45. Rh7 Qg2+ 46.Kc3 Bxe6 47.Rxb7 Nd7 48.Rc7 Bf7 49.Rc8+ Ke7 50.Nxc6+ Rxc6 51. Qh4+ Rf6 52.Qe1+ Re6 53.Qh4+ Rf6 54.b7 Qxf3 55.Qe1+ Re6 56.Qh4+ Rf6 57.Rxg8 Bxg8 58.c6 Qe3 59.cxd7 Qc1+ 60.Bc2 Qa3+ 61.Kd2 Qb4+ 62.Kd1 Qd6 63.Bxf5 Be6 64.Qh8 Rf8 65.Qg7+ Bf7 66.Qg5+ Qf6 67.Qe3+ Be6 68. Qf4 Qxf5 69.d8Q+ Rxd8 70.Qc7+ Bd7 71.Qxd8+ Kxd8 72.b8Q+ Ke7 73.Qb4+ Kf7 74.Qb7 Qd3+ 75.Ke1 Qb5 76.Qc7 Ke8 77.Kf2 Qc6 78.Qe5+ Qe6 79.Qb8+ Kf7 80.Qc7 Qc6 81.Qa7 Kg6 82.Ke3 Qc1+ 83.Kf3 Qf1+ 84.Ke3 Qe1+ 85.Kf3 Qe4+ 86.Kf2 Qf4+ 87.Kg1 Qg3+ 88.Kh1 Bf5 89.Qg7+ ½-½. 
Vienna 1890, W. Goldman 1983, p89-90

Lasker,Em — Albin,A
Queen’s Gambit: Albin
USA New York, NY (Impromptu Tournament)
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e5 
“Provocative reply to the Queen’s Gambit introduced by Cavallotti (after whom is sometimes named) in a game against Salvioli at the Milan tournament 1881.  The counter-gambit was reintroduced in the game Lasker - Albin”, Hooper & Whyld, The Oxford Companion to Chess.
3.dxe5 d4 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.a3 Bg4 6.h3 Bxf3 7.gxf3 Nxe5 8.f4 Nc6 9.Bg2 Qd7 10.b4 a6 11.Bb2 Rd8 12.Nd2 Nge7 13.Nb3 Nf5 14.Qd3 Be7 15.Be4 Nd6 16.Nc5 Qc8 17. Bf3 0-0 18.Rg1 Ne8 19.Nb3 Qd7 20.0-0-0 Qd6 21.Kb1 Qxf4 22.Rg4 Qh6 23. Bxc6 bxc6 24.Rxd4 Rd6 25.c5 Re6 26.Qxa6 Qxh3 27.R4d3 Qg2 28.Nd4 Rf6 29. Re3 Bd8 30.Nc2 Rxf2 31.Rxd8 1-0. 
Emanuel Lasker, A.Khalifman, Sofia 1998, vol.1, p149-150

    Adolf Albin was born on September 14, 1848, in Bucharest, the future capitol of Romania.  His forefathers, however, (and here I quote the article from Revista Romana de Sah, 1948, p311) “sprang from Hamburg and settled down in Zhitomir [now the Ukraine] in the nineteenth century, but later moved to Romania.”   Albin authored the first chess book written in Romanian, Amiculu Jocului de Schach, in 1872.  I have seen a copy of this work, a great rarity nowadays, in Kornik Castle near Poznan, where the chess book collection of von der Lasa is housed.
(Click on image for larger view)
    Now I would like to suggest an idea, namely, that the Bucharest-born master, Albin, was one of the forefathers of hypermodernism.  Hypermodernism, of course, would later flower during the nineteen twenties, with its major exponents being Tartakover, Réti and especially Nimzovich.
    Might Albin have effectively been one of Nimzovich’s teachers?   I would not argue that Albin’s games and writings were the sole study of Nimzovich, but they may have given the younger man a serious impulse for future analysis and thought, resulting, finally, in his crowning achievements: Die Blockade and Mein System.  Consider the following game.
Janowski,DM — Albin,A
Irregular King’s Pawn: Owen
HUN Budapest
Annotations by John C. Owen
1.d4 b6 
Hypermodern chess in 1896?  Not quite.  Albin’s aims were much the same: to allow White a free hand in the center - with the invitation to overreach - while he developed on the flanks and prepared a counter attack.  But in 1896 the hypermodern terrain was all brush and thickets, without the following decades of theoretical research and years of data-base accumulation to illuminate the paths.  Albin wanted Janowski to lose his way.
2.e4 Bb7 3.Bd3 e6 4.Be3 Nf6 5.Nd2 c5 6.c3 Nc6 7.a3 Qc7 8.f4 h5 9. h3 g5 10.Ne2 g4 11.hxg4 Nxg4 12.Bg1 Ne7 13.Nf3 f5 14.e5 c4 15.Bc2 Ng6 16.d5! Bc5 
16...Bxd5 17.Bxf5!
17.d6 Qc6 18.Qd2 h4 19.Rh3 Bxg1 20.Nexg1 Qc5 21.Nd4 0-0-0 22.0-0-0 Rdf8 23.Ngf3 Be4 24.Ng5 Bd5 25.Rf1 Kb8 26.Bd1 Be4 27.Nxe4 fxe4 28.Bxg4 Nxe5 29.Be2 Nd3+ 30.Bxd3 cxd3 31.Re1 Qd5 32. Kb1 b5 33.Rhh1 a5 34.Qf2 a4 35.Qe3 Rhg8 36.Rxh4 Rxg2 37.Rh7 e5 38.Qh3 Qxd6 39.Rxd7 Qg6 40.f5 Qg3 41.Qxg3 Rxg3 42.Nxb5 Rxf5 43.Rxe4 Rg2 44.Rd8+ Kb7 45.Nd6+ Kc7  46.Nxf5 Kxd8 47.Rxe5 1-0. 
Budapest 1896 International Chess Tournament, John C. Owen, p128

    Albin wanted Janowski to lose his way?  Of course!  In Albin’s games we can observe pawn structures, the right understanding of which, as many have presumed, were supposedly the private preserve of Nimzovich.
Janowski,DM — Albin,A
Dutch: Queen’s Knight
GBR Hastings
1.d4 f5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e3 Nf6 5.Bd3 O-O 6.Nf3 d6 7.Qb3 c5 8.O-O Nc6 9.Rd1 Bxc3 10.bxc3 Qe7 11.Qc2 e5!? 12.Bxf5 e4 13.Bxc8 exf3 14.Bh3 Ne4 15.g3 Rad8 16.Rb1 b6 17.Bf1 Rde8 18.Bd3 Qd7 19.Kh1 Qh3 20.Bf1Qh5 21.h3 Ng5 22.Kh2 Re4 23.Qa4
23...Nxh3! 24.Qxc6 Nxf2+ 25.Kg1 Nh3+ 26.Bxh3 Qxh3 27.Rb2 Qxg3+ 28.Kf1 Rh4 0-1. 
Revista Romana de Sah, 1948, p339

Albin,A — Marshall,FJ
Réti: Zukertort
MON Monte Carlo
Annotations from the Deutsche Schachzeitung.
1.Nf3 d5 2.e3 c5 3.b3 Nc6 4.Bb2 Bg4 5.Be2 Nf6 6.h3 Bxf3 7.gxf3 d4 8.Bb5 e5 9. Bxc6 bxc6 10.Qe2 Qd5 11.Na3 Bd6 12.e4 Qe6 13.Qa6 Be7 14.0-0-0 0-0 15.Rdg1 Nh5 16.h4 Nf4 17.Kb1 Rab8 18.d3 Rb6 19.Qxa7 Rfb8 20.Nc4 R6b7 21.Qa5 Rb4 22.a3 R4b5 23.Qd2 Kh8 24.Ka2 Bd8 25.Bc1 Bc7 26.h5 Qc8 27.Qd1 Ne6 28.h6 g6 29.Bg5 Nxg5 30.Rxg5 f6 31.Rgg1 Qa6 32.Kb2 Ba5 33. Kc1 Bc3 34.f4! Rf8 
34...exf4 35.Qg4 g5 36.e5!
35.Qg4 exf4 36.Qxf4 Qb7 37. Qd6 Qb8 38.Qxb8 Rbxb8 39.f4 Kg8 40.f5 Kf7 41.fxg6 hxg6 42.h7 Kg7 43. Nd6 Ra8 44.a4 Rh8 45.Rg2 g5 46.e5 fxe5 47.Rxg5+ Kf6 48.Ne4+ Ke6 49. Rg6+ Ke7 50.Nxc3 dxc3 51.Rxc6 (...), 1-0. 
Deutsche Schachzeitung, 1902, p44-45

    And here, dear reader, is the score of a game played by the “teacher” and “pupil” we have mentioned, easily won by the latter.
Nimzovich,A — Albin,A
Alekhine: Brooklyn
AUT Wien
Annotations by Tomasz Lissowski
1.e4 Nf6 
Everybody knows that Alekhine did not invent Alekhine’s Defense.
2.e5 Ng8 
Too provacative.
3.d4 d5 4.Bd3 e6 5.Ne2 Nc6?! 6.c3 Nge7 
Nimzovich’s favorite line, the Advanced French, but with two extra moves for White!
7.Bg5 Qd7 8.Nd2 Ng6 9.0-0 Be7 10.f4 Qd8 11.Nf3 h6 12.Bxe7 Ncxe7 13.Qd2 c6 14.Ng3 h5 15.f5 exf5 16.Ng5 f4 17.Rxf4 Nxf4 18.Qxf4 Be6 19.Rf1 Qb6 20.Nf5 Nxf5 21.Bxf5 Qc7 22.Bxe6 fxe6 23.Nxe6 Qe7 24.Qf5 Kd7 25.Nf8+ Kc7 26.Ng6 Qe8 27.Nxh8 Qxh8 28.Qe6 Kb6 29.Qe7 Qh6 30.Qc5+ Ka6 31.b4 b5 32.h3 h4 33.Kh1 Qe6 34.Rf7 Qh6 35.a4 Qe6 36.a5 Qe8 37.Rxa7+ Rxa7 38.Qb6# 1-0. 
Aron Nimzowitsch: A Reappraisal, Raymond Keene, 1974, p93

    Well, even if you reject the suggestion the title of this article makes, that Adolf Albin might well be considered the teacher of Nimzovich, Albin’s life and work as the first Romanian-born chess master, could well be interesting for many fans of chess history.  And last, but not least, a biography of Albin is ready, or nearly ready.  Only some corrections and, perhaps, a friendly editor, are needed.  For some months I have corresponded with Dr. Sc. David Bersadschi, currently living in Tel Aviv, Israel, and who previously was a citizen of Jassy in Romania.  Once David wrote me: “Regarding Albin.  For years I collected all his works - except the theatre piece played in Nuremberg - and the majority of his games.”  Chess master as a playwright?  There are so many questions.  What was the source of Albin’s income if, during his years playing chess, he never won a significant prize?  Where and how did he die?  Evidently David Bersadschi’s book could answer those and many others exciting questions.  Will it find an editor soon?
© Tomasz Lissowski 1999

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