Richard Réti

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Richard Réti
Full nameRichard Selig Réti
CountryCzechoslovakia (after 1918)
Austro-Hungarian Empire (before 1918)
Born(1889-05-28)28 May 1889
Bazin, Austro-Hungarian Empire
(now Pezinok, Slovakia)
Died6 June 1929(1929-06-06) (aged 40)
Prague, Czechoslovakia
(now Czech Republic)

Richard Selig Réti (28 May 1889 – 6 June 1929) was an Austro-Hungarian, later Czechoslovakian, chess player, chess author, and composer of endgame studies.

He was one of the principal proponents of hypermodernism in chess. With the exception of Nimzowitsch's book My System, he is considered to be the movement's foremost literary contributor.

Early life[edit]

Réti was born to a Jewish family in Bazin, Austria-Hungary (now Pezinok, Slovakia), where his father worked as a physician in the service of the Austrian military.

His older brother Rudolph Reti (who did not use the acute accent) was a noted pianist, musical theorist, and composer.[1] He is the great-grandfather of the German painter Elias Maria Reti [da]. Réti came to Vienna to study mathematics at Vienna University.[2]

Chess career[edit]

One of the top players in the world during the 1910s and 1920s, he began his career as a combinative classical player, favoring openings such as the King's Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.f4). After the end of the First World War, however, his playing style changed, and he became one of the principal proponents of hypermodernism, along with Aron Nimzowitsch and others. With the exception of Nimzowitsch's book My System, he is considered to be the movement's foremost literary contributor. He had his greatest early successes in the period 1918 through 1921, in tournaments in Kaschau (Košice; 1918), Rotterdam (1919), Amsterdam (1920), Vienna (1920), and Gothenburg (1921).[2]

In 1925 Réti set a world record for blindfold chess with 29 games played simultaneously. He won 21, drew 6, and lost 2.

Réti was also a notable composer of endgame studies.


Réti died on 6 June 1929 in Prague of scarlet fever. His ashes are buried in the grave of Réti's father, Dr. Samuel Réti, in the Jewish section of Zentralfriedhof cemetery in Vienna, in Section T1, Group 51, Row 5, Grave 34.[3]


The Réti Opening (1.Nf3 d5 2.c4) is named after him.

Réti defeated World Champion José Raúl Capablanca in the New York 1924 chess tournament – Capablanca's first defeat in eight years, his only loss to Réti, and his first since becoming world champion. This tournament was also the only occasion in which Réti beat future world champion Alexander Alekhine, accomplishing this feat in the same number of moves.

Réti's writings have become classics of chess literature. Modern Ideas in Chess (1923) and Masters of the Chess Board (1933) are studied today.

Famous endgame study[edit]

Richard Réti, 1921
h8 white king
a6 black king
c6 white pawn
h5 black pawn
White to move and draw

Réti composed one of the most famous chess studies, shown in this diagram. It was published in Ostrauer Morgenzeitung 4 December 1921. It seems impossible for the white king to catch the advanced black pawn, while the white pawn can be easily stopped by the black king. The idea of the solution is to move the king to advance on both pawns at the same time using specific properties of the chess geometry.

 1. Kg7! h4 2. Kf6 Kb6
Or 2...h3 3.Ke7 and the white king can support its own pawn.
 3. Ke5!!
And now the white king comes just in time to the white pawn, or catches the black one.
 3... h3 4. Kd6 and draws.


  • Modern Ideas In Chess (1923) Complete Transcription
  • Masters Of The Chess Board (1933) ISBN 0-486-23384-7

Notable games[edit]

A collection of his games was published as Reti's Games of Chess, annotated by H. Golombek, republished by Dover (1974).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Winter, Edward (2003). A Chess Omnibus. Russell Enterprises. ISBN 1-888690-17-8.
  2. ^ a b "Memoir of Reti", in Reti's Best Games of Chess, annotated by H. Golombek (Dover 1974).
  3. ^ JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry. - Austria

External links[edit]