Kindred’s Special: Arturo Pomar, Chess Prodigy

Arturo Pomar, born 9/1/31 in Palma de Mallorca, Spain is relatively unknown to the American general public and even many chess enthusiasts.  He celebrated his 80th birthday in 2011. He learned the game at age 4, his tutor was World Champion Alexander Alekine who was recruited by Franco to teach the young prodigy during WWII.  At the age of 10 he competed in the Spanish Championship; he was champion of the Balearic Islands at age 11; he played in his first international tournament held in Madrid in 1943 and earned his master title at age 13. He brought joy and surprise to the world chess audience when at age 12 he drew with Alekhine and was the youngest to achieve such a result against a reigning World Champion.

I first became acquainted with Pomar when my brother’s Chess Review magazine came for March 1946. He conquored the Spanish chessworld winning the national title seven times–1946, 50, 57-59, 62 and 1966.  He was awarded the IM title in 1950 and played for Spain in 12 Olympiads from 1958-1980. He was awarded the Grandmaster title in 1962.

The University of Rochester held a simultaneous exhibition in Rochester during Pomar’s tour of the United States.  I was the youngest to play among some 40 or 50 opponents and was the last to have to turn down my King.  I had good chances to draw but he tempted me to swipe a pawn in the endgame that allowed his King to take a walk into the guts of my position so I LOST IT. He had played the Giuoco Piano against me and the game lasted about 50 moves or so.  Needlesstosay, it attracted many around my board to watch the ending. I remember him to be slight and lightweight, small in stature, and when we shook hands, it felt like I had hold of a moist noodle. Unfortunately I lost the account of the game. He went on to share lst-2nd with Larry Evans in the 1954 US Open held in New Orleans that year, taking 2nd on tie-break.

In 1965 Pomar suffered a nervous breakdown and a second one during the 1967 Dundee event from which he never fully recovered.  He had been ranked in the top 50 in the world from 1959-1965.

In his excellent chess book, 107 Great Chess Battles 1939-45, Alexander Alekhine gave his impressions of his young student. One of the games chosen was his 1944 draw at Gijon, 1944, a game in which Alekhine appears to be nervous against his youthful opponent sitting opposite him and made unusually weak choices.  He states that Pomar had a winning endgame position but chose to go for the draw. This demonstrates perhaps a lack of self-confidence and uncertainty in his thoughts and says he must overcome this if he wants to achieve striking successes in the future.

White:  Arturo Pomar    vs  Black: Ticoulat   Opening:  Nimzowitsch Defense   Championship of the Balearic Islands, 1944

1. d4  Nf6  2. c4  e6  3. Nc3  Bb4  4. e3  b6  5. Bd2  Breaking the pin seems logical but this move is rather passive.

5. … Bb7  6. Nf3  O-O  7. Bd3  Bxc3  The Bishop is not threatened for the moment and Black would be advised to consider such moves as 7. …d5 or c5 or maybe a hedgehog type set up with a plan of jump moves,  7. …Be7 >…d6 > Nbd7.  It is important to try and keep pieces on the board as complications might lead to tactical motifs.

8. Bxc3  Ne4  9. Bxe4  Bxe4  10. d5!  Well played.  Both sides must always keep an eye open for a possible d5 smash into the center by the Queen Pawn.

10. … c5 11. Nd2!  Bg6  No good is the alternative 11…exd5  12. Nxe4  dxe4  13. Qg4 f6  14. Qxe4 Nc6 15. O-O-O with a crushing advantage.

12. h4  f5 13. Qf3  Na6  14. h5  Be8  15. Qg3  Qe7  16.d6  Qf7  17. h6  Qg6  18.hxg7  Rf7?  19. Qxg6  Resigns  (1-0).

I have noted in other articles the importance of keeping oneself in good physical condition.  All the great players practice some sort of exercise schedule to stay fit. If you make use of a chess tutor or a coaching program, be certain that you keep physically fit to stay healthy and so you can play your best.  Getting enough sleep will help keep your mind sharp so you can spot those moves that lead to sparkling wins!


2 Responses to “Kindred’s Special: Arturo Pomar, Chess Prodigy”

  1. Hugo Pilant Says:


  2. Kindred Says:

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    Arturo Pomar, born 9/1/31 in Palma de Mallorca, Spain is relatively unknown to the American general public and even many chess enthusiasts.  He celebrated his 80th birthday in 2011. He learned the game at age 4, his tutor was World Champion Alexander…

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