Bauhaus chess

R. Réti vs. S. Tartakower
Vienna tournament (1910)
Caro-Kann defense: 1-0

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nf6 5. Qd3 e5 6. dxe5Qa5
7. Bd2 Qxe5 8. O-O-O Nxe4 9. Qd8 Kxd8 10. Bg5 Kc7 11. Bd8.

(Click through the pictures in the gallery below to view an enlarged version of the game’s sequence played on Josef Hartwig’s 1922 Bauhaus chess set).

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The hypermodern style

Richard Réti
Modern Ideas
in Chess

The hypermodern style:
Thus did [Savielly] Tartakower, the prominent chess master and writer on the game, describe the style of the youngest masters — Alekhin, Bogoljubow, and Breyer. That designation is not to be deemed unlimited praise; but still less censure. For Tartakower himself in later years has approached that style.

As we younger masters learned Capablanca’s method of play, by which each move is to be regarded as an element of a scheme, that no move is to be made for itself alone (contrary sometimes to [Paul] Morphy’s principle that every move should have its concomitant development), we began to see that moves formerly considered self-understood and made, as it were, automatically by every good player, had to be discarded. Continue reading

Soviet board-games, 1920-1938

Games of revolution and industry 

Image: Reds and Whites, a war game!
A Soviet board-game from 1929.


It’s the 1920s. You’re a young revolutionary living in the newly-formed Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Now that the Allied Intervention’s been frustrated, and the reactionary White Army beaten back, the threat of counterrevolution seems to have momentarily subsided. All in all, it’s a good time to be a Marxist in old Muscovy.

There’s only one problem with this new arrangement: What to do with the free time you’re not spending locked in combat against the tsarists, yankees, and Huns? Sure, you’ve got a job at the local shoe factory. But war communism’s out, and the New Economic Program is in. It’s time to kick back and relax. Communism will be built soon enough.

Luckily, there’s a new product available to help pass the time. A.V. Kuklin’s come out with a whole batch of revolutionary board-games, featuring such riveting class-conscious titles as ElectrificationRevolutionReds vs. Whites, and Maneuvers: A Game for Young Pioneers [Soviet Boy Scouts]. Games for the whole family, even though the family form of property-relations must eventually be abolished. Let the capitalists have their Monopoly; let the imperialists play their Risk. I’ll stick to Modern War or Air Struggle.

Ages 8 and up?

My favorites among these include the “electrification” board-game, the chemical war game, and the Reds vs. the Whites game. You can tell that they reflect the immediate experience of devastating world war, revolution, and bloody civil war, followed by a project of social engineering and economic modernization the likes of which the world had never seen. The only other thing I’ll say is that, from an aesthetic perspective, one can see the change in the officially-sanctioned styles from the more avant-garde lines, shapes, and typography to the cartoon realism of caricatured figures in the Sots-art of the 1930s. Enjoy!