Chess tournaments Chess strategy Computer chess Chess players FIDE Chess variants Chess rules and history

Erich Eliskases

Full name Erich Gottlieb Eliskases
Country Austria
Born 15 February 1913
Innsbruck, Austria
Title Grandmaster
Peak rating 2430 (January 1977)

Erich Gottlieb Eliskases (15 February 1913 - 2 February 1997) was a chess Grandmaster of the 1930s and 1940s, who represented Austria, Germany and Argentina in international competition.

Born in Innsbruck, Austro-Hungarian Empire, he learned chess at the age of twelve and quickly displayed an aptitude for the game, winning the Schlechter chess club championship in his first year at the club, aged just fourteen. At fifteen, he was the Tyrolean Champion and at sixteen, joint winner of the Austrian Championship.

His college education in Innsbruck and Vienna centred on business studies; it was chess, though, that captured his imagination and he had exceptional results at the Olympiads of 1930, 1933 and 1935. After the Anschluss of March 1938, he won the German national championship at Bad Oeynhausen in 1938 and 1939. He played under the German flag at the 1939 Buenos Aires Olympiad, during which World War II began, when Eliskases (along with many other players) decided to stay in Argentina (and for a while in Brazil) rather than return to the scene of the conflict. Brazilian authorities threatened to intern and expel Eliskases as they had severed all links with Nazi Germany. Some Brazilian chess enthusiasts helped Eliskases avoid that fate by hiring him as a chess teacher. After some years in the wilderness, when he struggled to make a living, he eventually became a naturalised Argentine citizen and represented his new country at the Olympiads of 1952, 1958, 1960 and 1964.

FIDE awarded Eliskases the titles of International Master and Grandmaster in 1950 and 1952, respectively. He had many fine tournament results, including outright or joint first place at Budapest 1934 (the Hungarian Championship), Linz 1934, Zürich 1935, Milan 1937, Noordwijk 1938 (his greatest success, ahead of Euwe and Keres), Krefeld 1938, Bad Harzburg 1939, Bad Elster 1939, Vienna 1939, Águas de São Pedro/São Paulo 1941, São Paulo 1947, Mar del Plata 1948, Punta del Este 1951 and Córdoba 1959. His victory in Noordwijk began a streak of eight consecutive tournaments in which he was undefeated.

He won matches against Efim Bogoljubov (1939) and Rudolf Spielmann (thrice, in 1932, 1936 and 1937).

Towards the end of the 1930s, along with Keres and Capablanca, Eliskases was regarded as a potential contender for a World Championship encounter with Alexander Alekhine. Indeed, Alekhine spoke out in favour of a match with the Austrian, who had acted as a second during his successful attempt to regain the title from Max Euwe in 1937.

However, Eliskases' defection to South America was badly timed, as documentary evidence later showed that the Nazi regime had scheduled him a 1941 match with the World Champion, but due to circumstances, had subsequently abandoned the idea. In terms of his credentials for such a contest, he was one of very few masters and certainly the only Austrian to have beaten three world champions (Capablanca, Euwe and Fischer). Indeed, he had a plus score against Euwe (3-2), and even scores against Capablanca (2-2) and Fischer (1-1). Eliskases' critics may have pointed to the impressive credentials of Keres, his main rival, but the Estonian too had twice fallen victim to Eliskases in tournament play.

He carried on playing through the 1950s, 60s and even into the 70s but his results were less convincing. He married the Argentinian María Esther Almeda in 1954 and had a son, Carlos Enrico. In 1976, he and his wife went back to the Austrian Tyrol, but the couple failed to settle and returned to Córdoba.

Eliskases was also a strong correspondence player and his notes showed that he scored over 75 percent during his most active period.

He was considered an expert in the endgame - at Semmering 1937, he outplayed and beat Capablanca in this phase, despite this being the forte of the Cuban ex-world champion. Dutch grandmaster Hans Ree observes that Eliskases is one of only four players (Keres, Reshevsky and Euwe being the others) to beat both Capablanca and Fischer.

Sample games

Max Euwe-Eliskases, 1935, Queen's Gambit Declined
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 d5 4. Bg5 Be7 (Orthodox defence) 5. e3 0-0 6. Nf3 h6 7. Bh4 Ne4 8. Bxe7 Qxe7 9. cxd5 Nxc3 10. bxc3 exd5 11. Qb3 Qd6 12. c4 dxc4 13. Bxc4 Nc6 14. Qc3 Bg4 15. 0-0 Bxf3 16. gxf3 Kh8  (Three years later at Noordwijk, Eliskases played 16... Rad8 against Euwe, beating him in 50 moves. See the game online)  17. Rab1 b6 18. Rfc1 Ne7 19. Ba6 c6 20.Q b4 Qf6 21. f4 g5 22. fxg5 Rg8 23. h4 hxg5 24. h5 g4 25. d5 g3 26. Qd4 gxf2+ 27. Kf1 Rg1+ 28. Ke2 Qxd4 29. exd4 Nxd5 30. Kxf2 Rg4 31. Rxc6 Rf4+ 32. Ke2 Rxd4 33. Rb2 Re8+ 34. Kf1 Ne3+ 35. Ke1 Nc2+ 36. Kf1 Rf4+ 37. Kg2 Rg8+ 38. Kh3 Nb4 39. Rxb4 Rxb4 40. Rc7 Rg5 41. Rxf7 Rxh5+ 42. Kg3 Ra5 0-1  See the game online This was the first of Eliskases' three wins (in five games) against Euwe, who became world champion the same year.

Eliskases-José Raúl Capablanca, Semmering 1937, Slav Defence
1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. a4 Bf5 6. Ne5 (Czech variation) Nbd7 7. Nxc4 Qc7 8. g3 e5 9. dxe5 Nxe5 10. Bf4 Nfd7 11. Bg2 f6 12. 0-0 Rd8 13. Qc1 Be6 14. Nxe5 Nxe5 15. a5 a6 16. Ne4 Bb4 17. Bd2 Qe7 18. Bxb4 Qxb4 19. Qc5 Qxc5 20. Nxc5 Bc8 21. Rfd1 Ke7 22. b3 Nf7 23. e4 Rd6 24. Rxd6 Kxd6 25. b4 Kc7 26. Rd1 Rd8 27. Rxd8 Nxd8 28. f4 b6 29. axb6+ Kxb6 30. Bf1 Ne6 31. Na4+ Kc7 32. Kf2 g5 33. Ke3 gxf4+ 34. gxf4 Ng7 35. Nc5 Ne6 36. Nxe6+ Bxe6 37. Kd4 Kb6 38. Bc4 Bg4 39. e5 fxe5+ 40. fxe5 h6 41. h4 Bh5 42. e6 Be8 43. Bd3 Kc7 44. Kc5 Bh5 45. Bh7 Bg4 46. e7 Kd7 47. Be4 Kxe7 48. Bxc6 Be2 49. Bb7 Kd7 50. Kb6 Kd6 51. Bxa6 Bf3 52. Ka5 Bc6 53. Bb5 Bf3 54. Bd3 Bc6 55. Bc2 Kc7 56. Ba4 Bf3 57. b5 Kb7 58. b6 Be2 59. Bc2 Bf3 60. Bd3 Bg2 61. Ba6+ Kc6 62. Bc8 Bf1 63. Bg4 Bd3 64. Bf3+ Kd6 65. Bb7 Be2 66. Ba6 Bf3 67. Bf1 Bb7 68. Bh3 Ke7 69. Kb5 Kd6 70. Bf5 Ke7 71. Kc5 Bg2 72. Bc8 Kd8 73. Ba6 Bf3 74. Kd6 Bg2 75. Bc4 Kc8 76. Bd5 Bf1 77. Ke6 Be2 78. Kf6 Kd7 79. Kg6 h5 80. Kg5 Kd6 81. Bf7 Kc6 82. Bxh5 1-0  See the game online

Eliskases-Bobby Fischer, Buenos Aires 1960, Queen's Gambit Declined
1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. d4 Bb4 (Ragozin variation) 5. Qb3 Nc6 6. Bg5 h6 7. Bxf6 Qxf6 8. e3 dxc4 9. Bxc4 0-0 10. 0-0 Qe7 11. Qc2 Bd6 12. Rad1 Kh8 13. a3 e5 14. Nd5 Qe8 15. dxe5 Nxe5 16. Nxe5 Qxe5 17. f4 Qe8 18. e4 c6 19. Nc3 Bc7 20. Qe2 Be6 21. e5 Qe7 22. Ne4 Rad8 23. Kh1 Rfe8 24. Bxe6 Qxe6 25. Nc5 Qc8 26. Qh5 Rxd1 27. Rxd1 Rd8 28. h3 Kg8 29. Rxd8+ Qxd8 30. e6 Qe7 31. Qf5 b6 32. exf7 Qxf7 33. Qc8+ Kh7 34. Ne6 Bd6 35. g4 Qf6 36. Qd7 Qe7 37.Qxe7 Bxe7 38.Nd4 c5 39.Nc6 Bd6 40.Nxa7 c4 41.Nc8 Bc5 42.a4 Kg6 43.Kg2 Kf6 44.Kf3 Ke6 45. Ke4 Bf2 46. f5+ Kd7 47. Na7 Kd6 48. Nb5+ Kc5 49. Nc7 Bh4 50. Ne8 Kb4 51. Kd5 Be7 52. Nxg7 Bf6 53. Ne8 Bxb2 54. f6 Bxf6 55. Nxf6 c3 56. Nh5 Kxa4 57. Nf4 b5 58. Ne2 1-0  See the game online