foto: MEC

When grandmaster Machgielis (Max) Euwe (1901 – 1981) became world champion in 1935, he thought the most important aspect of his victory was that “the game of chess has won support”. After the match the number of members of the Dutch chess union rose from 4,000 to 12,000 and many new chess clubs were founded.

Euwe beat chess professional Alexander Aljechin in a match over twenty games which were played in different Dutch towns. After the last game, in the Amsterdam Bellevue Theatre, the Leidseplein square was flooded with enthusiastic fans. Euwe’s victory came as a surprise. Although he was considered to be a world class player (after narrowly losing a match against the very same Aljechin in 1927) he remained an amateur. In 1928 he became world amateur champion and he is the only amateur ever to become overall world champion. There had already been many national achievements: in 1921, at the age of twenty he won the Dutch national championship for the first time and in the period 1921 -1956 he would win the title twelve times in all.

Starting in 1918 Euwe studied mathematics at the University of Amsterdam. In 1923 he obtained his degree with honours. He taught maths at a secondary school in Rotterdam and later on at a girls’ school in Amsterdam. In 1926 he attained a doctorate, again with honours. After 1950, Euwe dedicated his working life to the new science of informatics. In 1956 he became a scientific advisor to the American firm Remington Rand, where he contributed to the development of the computer. From 1959- 1963 he was director of the Study Centre for Automatic Data Computation. In 1964 Euwe became professor at the Catholic University of Tilburg and affiliate professor at the Economic University of Rotterdam. He was the very first professor in the Methodology of Information Computation.

After Euwe had to surrender the title in 1937 to Aljechin, he continued to promote the sport of chess. Euwe wrote countless chess books and articles, which have been published all over the world. Well-known titles are: Uncle John teaches his nephew to play chess (1936); Judgment and planning in chess (1952); Chess master vs. Chess Amateur (1963) and his 12 volume series of opening theory.

From 1970-1978 Euwe was president of world chess federation FIDE. In this capacity he was instrumental in saving the famous match between Robert Fischer and Boris Spassky in Reykjavik in 1972. He made a great number of visits abroad to promote interest for chess. The number of countries joining the world chess federation increased rapidly, especially with new adherents from Asia and Africa.


Look at a gamecollection of Max Euwe.