Friedrich Sämisch

Friedrich Sämisch (20 September 1896 – 16 August 1975) was a German chess player and chess theorist. He was among the inaugural recipients of the title International Grandmaster from FIDE in 1950.

Friedrich Sämisch
Friedrich Saemisch (chess player).jpg
Born20 September 1896
Charlottenburg, German Empire
Died16 August 1975(1975-08-16) (aged 78)
Berlin, West Germany
TitleGrandmaster (1950)


Sämisch was a bookbinder before taking up chess full-time. As a player, he had a reputation for getting into time trouble though somewhat inconsistently he was a fine player of lightning chess.[1] He was also said to be a fine player of blindfold chess, with world champion Alexander Alekhine observing: 'Of all the modern masters that I have had occasion to observe playing blindfold chess, it is Sämisch who interests me the most; his great technique, his speed and precision have always made a profound impression on me'.[2]

Main competitive resultsEdit

In 1922 he won a match in Berlin against Réti (+4−1=3).

Perhaps his most famous game is his loss to Nimzowitsch at Copenhagen 1923 in the Immortal Zugzwang Game. He also played many beautiful games though, one of them being his win against Grünfeld at Carlsbad 1929, which won a brilliancy prize. In the same tournament he also won against José Raúl Capablanca. The former world champion lost a piece in the opening but did not resign, which usually happens in such cases in grandmaster games, but to no avail, this disadvantage being too much even for a player of his class.

At the age of 73, in 1969, Sämisch played a tournament in memoriam of Adolf Anderssen in Büsum, Germany, and another tournament in Linköping, Sweden, but lost all games in both events (fifteen in the former and thirteen in the latter) on time control.

Contributions to opening theoryEdit

Sämisch is today remembered primarily for his contributions to opening theory. Four major opening lines are named after him:

World War IIEdit

During this war, Sämisch was appointed as "Betreuer" for the troops, so his task was to give chess demonstrations and play simultaneous exhibitions for German soldiers all over Europe. Upon arrival in Spain in 1944 for a tournament, he proposed to the British ambassador that he would play a simul for the British troops in Gibraltar, but his humorously-meant offer was refused. Then Sämisch criticised Adolf Hitler at the closing banquet of the Madrid tournament in summer 1944. Upon returning to the German border, he was arrested and transported to a concentration camp. This was not his first transgression, since he had previously said loudly in the Luxor coffee house in Prague: 'Isn't Hitler a fool? He thinks he can win the war with Russians!' According to Grandmaster Ludek Pachman:[citation needed] Prague was full of Gestapo, and Sämisch had to be overheard at least at the next few tables. I asked him to speak quietly. 'You don't agree that Hitler is a fool?' was Sämisch's unconcerned retort.


  1. ^ Burgess, Graham; Emms, John; Nunn, John (2010). The Mammoth Book of the World's Greatest Chess Games. London: Constable & Robinson Ltd. p. 111. ISBN 978-1-84901-368-0.
  2. ^ Winter, Edward. "Chess Notes 7683". Chess Notes. Retrieved 21 January 2021.
  • Chicco, Adriano; Porreca, Giorgio (1971). Dizionario enciclopedico degli scacchi (in Italian). Milan: Mursia. ISBN 9788842588894.

External linksEdit