Machgielis “Max” Euwe (May 20, 1901 – November 26, 1981) was a Dutch chess grandmaster, mathematician, author, and chess administrator. He is best remembered for being the fifth World Chess Champion, holding the title from 1935 to 1937.
Euwe was a respected figure in the chess world, known for his disciplined approach, deep understanding of the game, and sportsmanlike conduct. In this comprehensive article, we will delve into Euwe’s life, his contributions to chess theory, and his impact on the world of chess.
Max Euwe was a Dutch chess player born on November 26, 1981, in Watergraafsmeer, Amsterdam, Netherlands. On November 26, 1981, Euwe passed away in Amsterdam, Netherlands. In 1964, he was appointed a professor of computer science at Tilburg University. As of May 1974, Euwe’s Peak rating was 2530.
Early Life and Education
Max Euwe was born in Watergraafsmeer, a neighborhood in Amsterdam, Netherlands. He was introduced to chess at an early age by his parents, both of whom were avid players. Euwe’s talent became apparent when he won his first tournament at the age of 12. He continued to excel in chess while pursuing his education, ultimately earning a doctorate in mathematics from the University of Amsterdam in 1926.
At age 10, Euwe participated in his debut tournament and triumphed in every match. Euwe won the title in 1955 and went on to win every Dutch chess tournament he entered between 1921 and 1952; his 12 victories remain a record.
Salo Landau won in 1936 when Euwe, the reigning world champion, was absent from the race, and Jan Hein Donner, who won in 1954, was the only other victor during this time. In 1928, at The Hague, Euwe won the title of world amateur chess champion with a score of 12/15.
At a significant championship in Bern in 1932, Euwe and Flohr tied for second place with Alekhine after drawing 8-8 in their respective games. In Reuben Fine’s opinion, these outcomes made Euwe and Flohr Alekhine’s greatest credible rivals. In Zürich, 1934, Euwe and Flohr again tied for second place behind Alekhine, and Euwe won their match.
The AVRO championship in the Netherlands in 1938, which included the best eight players across the globe and sought to determine who should battle Alekhine for the global tournament, saw Euwe finish tied for fourth with Alekhine and Reshevsky. Euwe played a significant organizing part in the occasion as well. Euwe competed against Paul Keres in the Netherlands, losing 6.5–-7.5.
The double round-robin Candidates’ Tournament in Zürich in 1953 was Euwe’s final major competition, and he placed last. After the first half of the competition, Euwe was in the top half of the field, but he became weary.
From 1927 through 1962, a 35-year period, Euwe participated in seven Chess Olympiads for the Netherlands, always on the first board. Euwe received scores of 10.5/15 in London in 1927, 9.5/13 in Stockholm in 1937, which earned him a bronze medal, 8/12 in Dubrovnik in 1950, 7.5/13 in Amsterdam in 1954, 8.5/11 in Munich in 1958, which earned him a silver medal at the age of 57, 6.5/16 in Leipzig in 1960, and finally 4/7 in Varna in 1962. His total was 54.5/87, which is 62.6 percent.
Bobby Fischer, a 14-year-old future global champion, and Euwe engaged in a brief tournament in 1957, with Euwe getting a win in one contest and drawing the other. he had a win, a loss, and a draw had a win, a loss, and a draw in their previous encounters.
The AVRO championship in the Netherlands in 1938, which included the best eight players across the globe and sought to determine who should battle Alekhine for the global tournament, saw Euwe finish tied for fourth with Alekhine and Reshevsky. Euwe played a significant organizing part in the occasion as well. He competed against Paul Keres in the Netherlands, losing 6.5–-7.5.
Euwe’s chess career took off in the early 1920s, with notable achievements such as winning the Dutch Championship in 1921 and earning the title of International Master in 1923. In 1928, he became an International Grandmaster, a title newly created by FIDE (Fédération Internationale des Échecs), the international chess federation.
Euwe’s crowning achievement came in 1935 when he defeated the reigning World Chess Champion, Alexander Alekhine. The match, held in the Netherlands, consisted of 30 games, with Euwe winning 9, Alekhine winning 8, and 13 games ending in a draw. Euwe’s victory was considered an upset, as Alekhine was widely regarded as the strongest player in the world at that time.
In 1937, Euwe lost the title in a rematch with Alekhine, who won 10 games to Euwe’s 4, with 11 draws. Despite the loss, Euwe remained a top player, representing the Netherlands in nine Chess Olympiads between 1927 and 1962.
Contributions to Chess Theory
Euwe was not only a skilled player but also a significant contributor to chess theory. He authored numerous books and articles on various aspects of the game, including opening theory, middlegame strategy, and endgame technique. Some of his most notable works include “The Logical Approach to Chess” (1958), “Judgment and Planning in Chess” (1953), and “The Middlegame” (1964), co-authored with Hans Kmoch.
Euwe was particularly renowned for his deep understanding of the game’s strategic aspects, and his writings emphasized the importance of planning and coordination of pieces. He was instrumental in the development of the Dutch Defense, an opening that is still popular today.
Chess Administration and Legacy
Euwe’s impact on chess extended beyond his playing career and theoretical contributions. After retiring from competitive play, he became an influential chess administrator, serving as the president of FIDE from 1970 to 1978. During his tenure, he played a crucial role in organizing the 1972 World Chess Championship match between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky, known as the “Match of the Century.”
Euwe also served as the president of the Royal Dutch Chess Federation and was actively involved in promoting chess education, particularly for young players. The Max Euwe Centrum, a chess museum and educational center in Amsterdam, was established in his honor in 1981, the same year of his passing.
Euwe made numerous achievements, including; Euwe was the fifth player to win the title of World Chess Champion, which he held for three years from 1935 to 1937. From 1970 to 1978, Euwe presided over FIDE, the World Chess Federation.
Here is a list of notable achievements.
Won the Dutch Chess Championship for the first time in 1921
Earned the title of International Master in 1923
Became an International Grandmaster in 1928
Represented the Netherlands in nine Chess Olympiads between 1927 and 1962
Won the fifth World Chess Championship in 1935, defeating Alexander Alekhine
Developed and popularized the Dutch Defense opening
Authored numerous influential chess books and articles, including “The Logical Approach to Chess,”
“Judgment and Planning in Chess,” and “The Middlegame” (co-authored with Hans Kmoch)
Served as the president of FIDE from 1970 to 1978
Played a crucial role in organizing the 1972 World Chess Championship match between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky (the “Match of the Century”)
Served as the president of the Royal Dutch Chess Federation
Promoted chess education, particularly for young players, through his involvement in various initiatives and organizations
The Max Euwe Centrum, a chess museum and educational center in Amsterdam, was established in his honor in 1981
Received the FIDE Honorary Grandmaster title in 1976, in recognition of his lifetime achievements in chess
Inducted into the World Chess Hall of Fame in 2001
Recognized for his sportsmanlike conduct and disciplined approach to the game, setting a positive example for future generations of chess players
Played an instrumental role in the popularization and development of chess in the Netherlands and beyond
Contributed to the evolution of chess strategy and theory through his deep understanding of the game and his insightful writings
Actively participated in numerous international chess tournaments and events throughout his career, earning the respect of fellow players and chess enthusiasts around the world
Left a lasting legacy through his teachings, writings, and administrative work, influencing countless chess players and enthusiasts to pursue their passion for the game and strive for excellence
Efim Geller vs Max Euwe – Zuerich Candidates, Round 2 – Zuerich, Switzerland – August 31, 1953
Laszlo Szabo vs Max Euwe – Groningen, Round 6 – Groningen, Netherlands – August 20, 1946
Max Euwe vs Alexander Alekhine – Alekhine – Euwe World Championship Match, Round 26 – Various Locations, Netherlands – December 03, 1935
Max Euwe’s contributions to the world of chess are immense and far-reaching. As a player, he achieved the pinnacle of success by becoming the fifth World Chess Champion, demonstrating exceptional skill and determination. His theoretical contributions, including his writings on various aspects of the game and his development of the Dutch Defense, have had a lasting impact on chess strategy and knowledge.
As an administrator, Euwe played a crucial role in shaping the chess world, both through his leadership of FIDE and his dedication to promoting chess education. His legacy lives on in the Max Euwe Centrum and the many chess players who continue to learn from his teachings.
Euwe’s disciplined approach to the game, his sportsmanlike conduct, and his genuine love for chess have made him an enduring figure in the history of the game. Max Euwe’s life and achievements serve as a testament to the power of dedication, hard work, and a deep understanding of one’s chosen field. His contributions to chess will continue to inspire and guide future generations of players and enthusiasts, solidifying his place as a true chess legend.