March 6, 2011
The Kemeri Tournament was the greatest since Nottingham but had more than the usual number of upsets. One notable departure from customary play was the attendance of the American Champion, Sammy Reshevsky. True to form he finished at the top, but whereas he usually starts badly and finishes like a whirlwind, this time he started off with a rush, assembled a big lead and then gradually saw it wither. Ordinarily one would expect Reshevsky to beat players like Ludwig Rellstab and Eero Einar Book and it was this setback that cost him a clear first prize. After hardly playing any serious chess for a whole year, even a tie for first place is convincing proof of Reshevsky’s class. Amongst the leaders, unsurprisingly, was also Salo Flohr. He went along in his usual unadventurous way, adding a point here and a half-point there (more half-points than points) and was the only one to go through this grueling tourney undefeated. He attempted to bore Paul Keres by continuing in a barren position to 104 moves, which turned out to be a failure. Vladimir Petrov from Latvia played very well, which came as a great surprise because he blundered away a game against Reshevsky in the very first round. Alexander Alekhine redeemed himself, to a certain extent, after his poor showing at Margate. His victory over Reshevsky showed that he was just as dangerous as ever in a single game and his excellent finish created a sensation that was well-deserved. However is was apparent that Alekhine was still not quite his old self, as seen in his poor play against Vladas Mikenas, despite his heroic resistance later on in the game. This loss had a chastening effect on him and subsequently he played with more care. The extent of his nervous preoccupation may be gauged from the fact that in one of his games he played two moves in succession. Hans Kmoch, the tournament director, was unable to invoke any penalty, as the playing rules say nothing about such a possibility.
The young Keres was already held in high esteem, which is made apparent at how disappointed people were in him when he missed a tie for first place by half a point. His play continued to show a steady advance toward maturity, with no loss in his tactical skill.
Andreas Steiner, the younger and less well-known brother of Lajos Steiner, produced the finest performance of his career. Like his brother he almost always plays 1. e2-e4, he loves a complicated game, avoids simplifications, is always getting into fearful time difficulties and oversteps the time limit with relative frequency. But this time his aggressive and tenacious style scored a triumph. Dr. Tartakower came fairly near the top in the tournament, but his play here was a bit disappointing after his magnificent show in Jurata.
Front row from left to right: V. Petrovs, F. Apscheneek, A. Melnbārdis, K. Bētiņš, H. Kmoch, S. Landau, S. Flohr, P. Keres, E. Steiner.
Behind: J. Kalniņš, E. Giese, P. Ķeirans, V. Mikenas, M. Feigins, K. Ozols, L. Rellstab, E. Böök, S. Tartakower, A. Kanenbergs, A. Alekhine, G. Ståhlberg.
During that tournament, he did not lose a single game during all its 21 rounds. He also went through the first six rounds of the Kemeri Tournament without suffering defeat, which made him more fearful because the probabilities of his losing became stronger and stronger with every additional game. The last straw was Apsheneek’s congratulations to Tartakower after the 27th game, which instead of being pleased, very much annoyed him because he knew that his winning streak would now be broken. Sure enough he lost the next day to Steiner. Tartakower sought revenge and managed to get it. By the end of this seventh round, Apsheneek had not yet lost a game. Tartakower went over to him and congratulated him on his fine performance. The next day, Apsheneek’s luck came to an abrupt end and he lost to none other than Tartakower. The great disappointment of the tournament was the other American representative, Reuben Fine. According to the correspondent of the Niewe Rotterdamsche Courant, the tournament was played in an almost tropical heat. This proved particularly disastrous for Fine, who was fatigued and worn-out from his many travels, tournaments and exhibitions that year.