Akiba Rubinstein was a Polish chess player born in Stawiski, Congress Poland, Russian Empire (now Poland) in 1880.
He is widely regarded as one of the greatest players never to have become World Chess Champion.
Rubinstein learned the game at the late age of 16 but quickly became one of the four strongest players in the world from 1907 to 1922.
Rubinstein’s peak as a player is generally considered to have been between 1907 and 1914. He is best known for his incredible winning streak in 1912 when he won five consecutive tournaments.
That year, Rubinstein won four major events (San Sebastian, Vilnius, Breslau, and Piestany), and a match for the World Chess Championship with Emanuel Lasker seemed inevitable, but fate and World War I decided otherwise.
Rubinstein’s playing style was both positional and endgame-oriented, and he was particularly talented in the opening and endgame phases.
Rubinstein’s knowledge and understanding of rook endings were far ahead of his time, and he is considered one of the top endgame players of all time.
His best games are conspicuous for their power and clarity, revealing his deep positional comprehension, brilliant combinational abilities, and virtuosic endgame technique
Despite never winning the world championship, Rubinstein’s legacy remains equal to that of any world champion. He is regarded as one of the greatest artists among chess masters and is particularly renowned for his skill in the endgame, at which he had few equals in chess history.
His celebrated competition against Gersz Rotlevi (Gersh Rotlewi) in Łódź in 1907, with its extraordinary concluding combination, is one of the most famous chess games in history, and is widely known as Rubinstein’s Immortal Game.
Rubinstein’s mental state deteriorated in his later years, and he suffered from social anxiety disorder and schizophrenia.
He died in Antwerp, Belgium, in 1961. Rubinstein was posthumously inducted into the World Chess Hall of Fame in 2019
During World War II, Nazi investigators once descended on Rubinstein’s place and asked him if he was happy there. Rubinstein replied, “Not at all.”
The investigators then asked him if he would prefer to go to Germany and work for the Wehrmacht, to which Rubinstein replied, “I’d be delighted to”.
It is unclear whether Rubinstein’s response was genuine or whether he was trying to protect himself and his family from harm.
In conclusion, Akiba Rubinstein was a chess genius who left an indelible mark on the game. His contributions to opening theory and rook and pawn endgames are still remembered today, and his best games are studied by chess players around the world.
Despite never winning the world championship, Rubinstein’s legacy remains secure, and he is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time.