Edward Winter's Chess Notes page recently had an interesting piece about a figure who has always interested me, namely Ernst Klein. I first came across the name in 1973, in one of the first copies of Chess that I ever obtained. The magazine contained a report on a major open event in London, won by Bent Larsen, ahead of an 18-year old John Nunn, for whom it was one of the first international successes. The report in Chess also mentioned that the tournament had seen the veteran former British champion, Klein, emerge from some 20 years' absence from chess, to achieve a respectable result, drawing with Markland and beating two of England's most promising young players, David Goodman and Jonathan Kinlay. Klein's game against the latter was given in the report.
It was only years later that I found out more about Klein, an Austrian Jew, who had settled here before the war, and won the 1951 British Championship. As Winter's piece (based on correspondence with Klein's son) acknowledges, Klein was not an easy man to get along with, being quick to take offence and ferocious when he did so. In fact, he had a reputation as possibly the most irascible man in British chess. One typical story came in 1952, when he played top board in the annual Anglo-Dutch match. In the first game, he drew with Black against Max Euwe, proof enough of Klein's class as a player. However, at breakfast the next morning, he picked up The Times and read their chess correspondent's report on the previous day's events. This contained words to the effect that Euwe had probably not been taking his opponent too seriously, hence his failure to win. Admittedly, this was perhaps not the kindest way to report Klein's fine achievement, in holding the ex-world champion with Black, but even so, most players would have shrugged it off. But not Klein - he was so incensed that he refused to play in that morning's second round, and promptly stormed off home. David Hooper had to substitute for him, and lost rather feebly to Euwe.
Shortly afterwards, Klein broke with English chess for some 20 years, but his excellent performance at London 1973 shows that he retained great class as a player. Winter's piece contains the three games mentioned above. One of Klein's other games was against Ray Keene. Interestingly, Ray recalls that, despite rather a one-sided defeat, Klein was very pleasant after the game, and wanted to analyse and be told where he had gone wrong.
The game is worth seeing, as a perfect example of the positional exchange sacrifice Rxc3 in the Sicilian. Klein's treatment of his opponent's Pirc is too tame, and Black soon gets a comfortable Dragon-type position. The exchange sacrifice yields two pawns and a crushing position, and Klein's long resistance was always destined to be in vain.