- Progress in the chess science is a very positive fact - an average chess aficionado may say - but who after all is (or was) Mr. Bartoszkiewicz?
- And how his name should be pronounced? - would add another, not versed with complexity of Slavonic languages. The last question could be answered easy: BAR-TOSH-KEVICH (English transcription).
For sake to try to answer the first question I would like to quote a fragment of the IM Jan Teplitsky's long and entertaining article ?Akiba Rubinstein Revisited? (Chess Life 2002, v. 12, p. 772-774).
"When Akiba was 16 he came across a chess book written in English when perusing books for his theological studies and was hooked. His life was to take a very sharp turn. To the great dismay of his family gone were books about Torah and out alone a paper-cut board and chess pieces.
Later Akiba would exclaim that at that time he was studying six to eight hours a day for 300 days a year! Thanks to his incredible talent and tenaciousness the results came very fast. In 1901 Akiba won the beautiful game against a strong Polish player.
15.Re8+! Qxe8 16.Qxd4 Qe5 17.Nd5!! 1-0
It is more clear now, who in chess was Mr Bartoszkiewicz. He lost (the next Famous Loser, like Lionel Kieseritzky) the very first recorded (en passant - when and by whom?) game of Great Akiba.
Somebody extremely inquiring would ask: how we know that G. Bartoszkiewicz was not only STRONG, but also POLISH (and not for example Russian, Ukrainian, Belorussian etc. etc.) chessplayer?
Somebody could underline a contradiction about dating of the mentioned game; 1901 or 1902? Well, in the Eastern Europe the Impossible is sometimes possible; as we remember, the Bolsheviks Revolution 1917, called often October Revolution, begun in November. The city of Bialystok during more than 100 years, from 1808 till 1915 (the year of offensive of the German Army on the East Front during I WW), belonged to Russian Empire; all events there used to have double dating.
Some months ago, studying yearbooks of Russian chess magazines from the turn of XIX and XX centuries, I was lucky to find several forgotten games played by our hero, the Famous Loser Two. He took part in, as a minimum, 3 correspondence chess tournaments of "Shakhmatny Zhurnal" (the fifth, sixth and seventh); in the latter he shared 1-2 places with A. I. Romashkevich (Romaszkiewicz?) of Kharkov (both 18,5 points out of 22 games), they followed Saburov (well know chess organiser, 17,5 p.), Koslaninov (14 p.), Prince Urusov (13 p.) and Kolenko (12,5 p.), participated also Berens, Shabelsky, Khmelevsky, Kugaievsky, Severov and Pshetslavsky.
[If 23.dxc5 then 23...Re8 with strong attack.] 23...Qe3+ 24.Qxe3 Nxe3 25.Rfc1 Nxd5 26.Be4 Nb6 27.Rxc5 Nd7 28.Rd5 Rc7 29.Rad1 f6 30.e6 Nc5 31.Rxc5 [After 31.e7 Black would play 31...Rxe7 32.Bxh7+ Kxh7 33.Rxc5 Re2.] 31...Rxc5 32.e7 Re8 33.Bc6 Kf7 34.Rd8 Rc1+ 35.Kf2 Rc2+ 36.Kf3 Rxc6 and white resigned (0-1, because after 37.Nxc6 Bb7 38.Rd6 Rc8 39.Rd8 Bxc6+ 40.Ke3 Rc7! the piece would be lost.
18.h5 Ke7 19.Rh4 Rag8 20.Kf2 Rf8 21.Rah1 Rhg8 22.Nf3 fxg4 23.Rxg4 gxh5 24.Rgh4 Rg7 25.Rxh5 Rh8 26.f5 1-0
("Shakhmatny Zhurnal" 1900, game 927, played from 15 October 1897 till 5 August 1898.)
11.Na3! [The only move, which refutes Black's combination: White sacrifices an exchange, gaining a solid attack. Trying to maintain (a la Bilguer) a piece, White would obtain a hopeless position: 11.Nxd4 Qxd4 12.Qb3 Qxe5+ 13.Kd1! Rc8 with a winning position.] 11...Bxa1 12.Be3 d4 13.Nc4 Qc7 [If 13...Qxb4, then 14.Nd6+ Kf8! 15.Qxa1 dxe3 16.Rb1 with a strong attack.] 14.Nd6+ Ke7 [Much better was 14...Kf8 ; it could have followed then 15.Bf4! Bc3 16.Ng5 Nh6 17.Qb3 with good game for White.] 15.Bg5+ f6 16.Bf4 Qc3 17.Qxa1 [White could have won the queen: 17.Nc4 b5 18.Bd2 bxc4 19.Bxc3 cxd3+ 20.Qxd3 Bxc3 ; but the game then would be won by ... Black.] 17...Bc6 [17...Qxa1 18.Rxa1 fxe5 19.Bxe5 Nf6 20.Nxd4 and Black's position is hopeless.] 18.Qb1 fxe5 19.Nxe5 Nf6 [Black hardly could have avoided the loss of the game after 19...Rf8 20.Bg3 (20.Bd2? Rf2+!).] 20.Ndc4 1-0.
16.Ba4 [White gives up an exchange. It seems, better was to give up a queen for a rook and knight.] 16...Nxf1 17.Rxf1 Ne5 18.Qf4 c6 19.Rd1 g5 20.Qc1 Nd3 21.Qd2 h5 22.Nc1 Nxc1 23.Rxc1 Re7 24.h4 gxh4 25.Bf4 Qg6 26.Kh1 Rfe8 27.a3 Bd3 28.dxc6 bxc6 29.Bxc6 Qxc6 30.Qxd3 Bxf2 31.Bd2 Qg6 32.Qf1 Bd4 33.Nd5 Re2 34.Re1 [Or 34.Nf4 Qg4 35.Nxe2 Rxe2 36.Bc3 h3 and wins.] 34...Rxe1 35.Bxe1 Qb1 0-1.
I replayed all games of G.G. Bartoszkiewicz and recorded them in my computer data base. Now it is easier to figure out the theoretical and practical level of a player, who sometimes is supposed to be the first partner or even a "chess teacher" of Akiba Rubinstein.
Later, looking at headers of Bartoszkiewicz's games, I started to think, in which corner of Mother ? Russia
(the city?) should be searched.
Rubinstein, after leaving his home Stawiski (city located on the way from Warsaw to Bialystok, then in the Lomza Province), and before his settlement in Polish "Promised Land" (e. g. in Lodz, what happened about 1903), gained some chess experience in Bialystok. Perhaps the area near Bialystok should be taken "under the microscope"? This supposition proved to be correct.
Starosielce - today it is a quarter of Bialystok, advanced most to the West. 50 years ago and more - an independent settlement, from 1919 - with its own civic rights. Soon in the internet I found an information that historian - amateur from Bialystok Mr Krzysztof Oblocki (*) edited two comprehensive books on Starosielce and its inhabitants in the historical perspective.
I was almost sure that new information on Engineer Bartoszkiewicz (as he was titled by Polish chess authors) are granted. "How many engineers could live in the settlement of Starosielce scale in 1900" - I speculated - "maybe three, maximum five".
In June 2005 I phoned Mr Oblocki. He explained that Starosielce, today not extremely famous even in this country, was an ultra-important junction in a railway network. It was there an "iron way" from Petersburg (a capitol of Russian Empire) through Vilnius, Grodno and Warsaw, and so on, through Cracow to Vienna, or through Poznan to Berlin, to the Western Europe.
Commercial goods were transported throughout Starosielce from hundreds of factories in Lodz, Warsaw and Bialystok to the stores and customers on the East.
In opposite direction, Russian soldiers with their weapons had been transported throughout, from the interior of the Empire to garrisons in turbulent, unsubmissive Polish cities, where people were always ready again and again to start a "myatyezh" (in Russian: rebellion) against His Majesty Tsar of Russia.
Mr Oblocki told me that prior to 1915 80% of Starosielce inhabitants were Russian, others were Jewish or Polish. In 1915 all railwaymen with families, but also all workshops and factories were evacuated to the interior of Russia, to Kaluga.
After Poland was again independent in November 1918, due to the almost-closed borders with Soviet Russia and bad political and economical relations with Lithuania, the economical importance of Bialystok (and Starosielce, too) was decreased seriously.
Unfortunately Mr Oblocki was not so lucky to find any ?Bartoszkiewicz of Starosielce? during his (quite comprehensive, as it was said) researches. It should be excluded that G. Bartoszkiewicz was a railway employee. Mr Oblocki pointed out that archives of Bialystok were partly destroyed, and not only by the last war.
(*) Mr Krzysztof Oblocki authored the monograph "Starosielce miasto kolejarzy 1872 - 1996" (Starosielce - the city of railwaymen 1872-1996), edited in 1997. His second book "Starosielskie wspomnienia" (The Recollections from Starosielce) completes and develops the subject (vide: http://www.woak.bialystok.pl).
Then, the history of Starosielce have not started in the era of railway building. National Library of Canada (and some other libraries, too, as I think) possesses in its catalogue the Louis Jacobs? book "Seeker of unity; the life and works of Aaron of Starosselje".
Rabbi Aaron ben Moses ha-Levi lived in Starosielce in years 1766-1828.
Despite this G. Bartoszkiewicz is now "less unknown"; some of his games could be implemented in the modern data bases. As we see, he was a serious partner in correspondent chess tournaments, hardly a "boy for beating".
Is it a chance to find more data on "Rubinstein?s first teacher" The task is difficult though not hopeless. In another Russian monthly "Shakhmatnoye Obozren'ye" (1903, v. 9, p. 329) I found following note:
In the 8. issue of "Strategie" we can see information about games played in Kiev by strong player V. N. Yurevich of Moscow.
He won 3 games of 4 against Mr. Nikolayev, with G. Bartoszkiewicz he scored 6 games.
So the foot-prints of G. Bartoszkiewicz lead from Starosielce to Ukrainian metropolis. Some prospects for further research still exist!