Arthur Kaufmann: A Chess Biography, 1872-1938

Olimpiu G. Urcan, Peter Michael Braunwarth

Reviewer: John Donaldson
266 pages

Arthur Kaufmann: A Chess Biography, 1872-1938 by Olimpiu G. Urcan & Peter Michael Braunwarth is devoted to a victim of the Nazis, who has long been forgotten for his chess playing but deserves to be remembered. This statement is not exaggerated: Kaufmann had outstanding results in 1914-1916 when he defeated Reti and Tartakover in matches and had several excellent tournament results.

This volume, by the well-known historian Olimpiu G. Urcan and the scholar Peter Michael Braunwarth, is a combination of part chess and part history. The chess side includes 71 annotated games played by Arthur Kaufmann (1872-1938) as well as 7 crosstables of important tournaments he played in, discussions of his contributions to opening (1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.f4 d5 4.dxe5 Nxe4 5.Nf3 Bg4 6.Qe2 and 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.c4 among others) and an introduction by GM Mihail Marin.

The non-chess (historical) side of this book is considerable, probably close to half of it, and puts Kaufmann into context with his time. There are a considerable number of primary source documents reproduced for which a knowledge of German would be helpful in appreciating them. There are also many fine photos that appear in this book, but curiously none of Kaufmann! This must make him one of the strongest players of all time to suffer this fate.

This is a worthy tribute to one of Caissa’s forgotten soldiers and will be read with pleasure by fans of the chess scene pre 1920.