An Appreciation of Gyula Breyer

Kevin O'Connell

Gyula Breyer, born Budapest 3 April 1894, is today regarded as one of the most important members of the so-called 'Hypermoderns' (Reti, Nimzowitsch, etc.). This somewhat belated recognition is due more to his contributions to opening theory than as a result of his very short playing career—Breyer played in his first big international tournament in 1912; two years later the First World War put an end to European international tournaments, and in 1918 our hero had only three years to live.

The reason that so many players are now interested in Breyer is due largely to the man's character and personality which pervaded his chess —both his games and his theoretical work. Shortly after Breyer's death, Richard Reti had the following to say about him: 'In Bratislava there appeared for some months a journal called Czellini Sport (sport for the mind). If a person were about to take a long journey he readily bought a copy, for, with the study of a short chapter, he could pass the time occupied in the whole journey, so difficult was each line as a mental exercise. For example, in one number appeared a love letter which when read letter for letter backwards disclosed the original. There were keys for the discovery of secret codes and many other things of that description. There was also a chess rubric, the contents of which were peculiar.

'For example, the following problem. White to play: who wins? The position was complicated: all the pieces on both sides were en prise, and only after a long study could it be seen that White was bound to have the advantage. Yet that was not the correct solution. On the contrary, what was apparently incredible could be proved, namely, that in the last fifty moves no piece had been taken and that no pawn could have been moved. Therefore according to the rules of chess it was a drawn position. The sole editor of the paper was . . . Julius Breyer. And for that man .. . there was only one art. In the

A Lost Talent: An Appreciation of Gyula Breyer 43 domain of that art he worked not only with his mind, but he cast his whole personality into it. That domain was chess.'

Breyer's tournament career had a brief ten year span. His results were as follows:

Rank

Won

Drawn

Lost

1911

Hungarian Championship, Budapest

10th

0

3

6

Cologne

6th

7

5

3

1912

Bad Pistyan

7-8 =

7

5

5

Hungarian Championship, Temesvar

1st

7

7

0

Breslau

8-11 =

6

5

6

1913

Hungarian Championship, Debrecen

4th

4

3

3

Scheveningen

6-7 =

7

1

5

1914

Baden-bei-Wien Gambit

4th

9

3

6

Budapest

6-7 =

4

3

4

Mannheim (unfinished)

4-6 =

5

4

2

1915

Budapest

1st

1916

Budapest

1st

5

0

0

1917

Budapest

1st

5

0

3

Match v. Esser

won

2

1

1

1918

Charousek Memorial, Kassa

3-4=

7

1

3

Budapest

3rd

4

1

3

1920

Vienna

2-4=

Göteborg

9-10 =

1

9

3

Berlin

1st

6

1

2

Match v. Riti

lost

0

1

4

1921

Vienna

3rd

5

4

2

Total (excl. Budapest 1915, Vienna ¡920)

208

91

56

61

As

can be seen from the above table;

, Breyer's

tournament results

were rather uneven, but after the war ended Breyer showed great promise and was, quite clearly, of grandmaster strength.

Breyer is credited with the dictum that after 1 P-K4 'White's game is in its last throes'. The following game shows that Breyer did not necessarily believe this, at least not at the beginning of his career.

Breyer-Balla, Bad Pistyan 1912. 1 P-K4 P-K4 2 N-KB3 N-QB3 3 N-B3P-B4?! 4P-Q4BPxP 5KNxP N-B3 6 B-QB4 P-Q4? 7NxQP! KNx N 8 Q.-R5 + P-KN3 9 Nx P PxN 10QxP+ K-Q.2 11 BxN Q.-K1 12 B-B7 Q-K2 13 B-N5 N-K4 14 Q-B5+ Black resigns. Black's rather crude opening error was severely punished by a series of tactical blows.

By the end of the war Breyer had made the change to opening with 1 P-Q.4 and, in general, showed a greater interest in positional play. The next game comes from this period.

Breyer-Havasi, Budapest 1918. 1 P-Q.4 N-KB3 2 N-Q2 P-Q4 3 P-K3B-B4 4 P-QB4 P-B3 5KN-B3 P-K3 6 B-K2 B-Q3 7 P-B5! B-B2 8 P-QN4 QN-Q2 9 B-N2 Pressurizing K5 to prevent Black's liberating . . . P K4. 9 ... N-K5 10 NxN PxN After 10 ... BxN White would continue with his Q-side pawn advance. The text move looks all right: the knight can be brought to Q4 via KB3, on top of which

White dare not castle K-side. However, Breyer finds a way to exploit the position of Black's QB. 11 N-Q.2 N-B3 12 P-N4 B-KN3 13 P-KR4 P-KR4 14 PxP! NxP Of course if 14 ... BxP then 15 NxP. 15 Q-B2 N-B3 15 ... P-B4 would seriously weaken the KN-file. 16 (MM) B-B4 17 QR-N1 K-Bl 18 P-R5! P-R4 (34) 19 P-N5 A deep

pawn sacrifice. 19 ... PxP 20 BxP RxP 21 P-Q5 RxR 22 RxR K-Nl 23 P-Q.6 B-Nl 24 N-B4 B-QR2 25 B-Q4 R-Bl 26 P-B4! BxP Or 26 ... P x Pep 27 Q.-R2 N-R2 28 Q-N3 B-KN3 29 Q.-K5 and wins. 27P-Q7NxP 28 Q-R2 P-B3 29 BxB NxB 30 Q-R8 + K-B2 31 B-K8+ Black resigns. Still the brilliant tactician, but with a much deeper positional approach.

The following game is probably both the best and the most original game that Breyer played.

Breyer-Dr Esser match 1917

Probably better than the routine 6 N-B3.

7 N-B3 PxP

With the idea of gaining time to develop the Q.-side, after 8 B x BP, by 8 .. . P-QN4 followed by 9... B-N2 or 9 ... P-N5 and 10 . . . B-R3.

Such luxuries can be afforded only rarely.

11 P-KR4

Threatening 12 P-K5 N-Q.4 13 Q_B2 P-N3 14 P-R5, demolishing the black king's defences.

The knight cannot be taken while the white queen has access to KR5. Now the knight is threatened.

12 P-K5 PxN

14 R-Nl with an overwhelming position.

13 RPxP!

But not 13 PxN BxP 14RPxP B x QP when Black stands clearly better.

13 ... N-Q.4 (35) White has sacrificed a piece. How should he continue his attack? If, for example, 14 Q- N4 then Black can easily defend by 14 ... K-N2 and

14 K-B1JI

A problem-like move, the point of which becomes apparent at move 23.

'.. . that man, so sagacious that the finest finesses were not fine enough for

him, and who at a glance saw through the most complicated conditions', RfSti.

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