NAME: Richard Reti
BIRTHDATE: May 28, 1889
BIRTHPLACE: Pezinok, Hungary (later part of Czechoslovakia)
CREDENTIALS: One of the greatest players of the early twentieth century. Famously beat world chess champion Jose Raul Capablanca in New York in 1924. This was the first time Capablanca had lost a match in eight years!
A proponent of hypermodernism. This is a strategy system that focuses on controlling the center of the board with distant pieces rather than with pawns, thus setting up later attacks. The style befuddled many opponents. In his obituary, another great chess player, Rudolf Spielman, wrote this about Reti: Perhaps his strength did not reside so much in the discovery of a new move or of a tactical finesse hitherto unknown as in a new strategy. Very frequently and only after a few moves, I would find myself settling down against him with a lost position without knowing exactly how it could possibly have happened.
Reti's skills as a chess player were not exceptional until he was relatively old, in his late twenties. He then produced great games for several years. Although he lived a relatively short life, Reti's influence continues today. His book Modern Ideas in Chess remains popular today. In addition to his stunning defeat of Capablanca, another notable achievement was his World Blindfold Exhibition record of 29 games....winning 20 while losing only 2! He died shortly after his 40th birthday, on June 6, 1929 of scarlet fever.