Max Euwe

Max Euwe

Max Euwe Introduction

Max Euwe was one of the best chess players in history, he began to play from a very young age since his parents were great fans of the game itself. When he was 6 years old he had already mastered the game very well and, at the age of 10, he began to participate in tournaments, winning and obtaining second place in the national chess championship of his country in 1919.

He managed to become the fifth world champion chess player obtaining the world title of the International Chess Federation (F.I.D.E). 

Beyond all this, let’s take a closer look at his life and how he managed to get so far.

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Max Euwe’s Biography

Machgielis Euwe was born in Watergraafsmeer, The Netherlands on May 20, 1901. He studied at the University of Amsterdam in 1926 where he received his doctorate in mathematics and philosophy and eventually became a professor of mathematics.

His professional career turned to education, being a Mathematics teacher and director in an electronics school in the city of Rotterdam, and then he went to a women’s college in Amsterdam. 

By this point Chess was only a hobby for Max, so he practiced from time to time on an amateur basis in school vacations and despite this, his ability was somewhat limited. With little time, he decided to apply his mathematical knowledge to chess using the “Thue-Morse” succession technique.

Euwe’s Results as a Player

As we had mentioned before his fondness for chess started as a hobby, but then Max attended championships and tournaments where he became champion of the Netherlands from 1921 to 1935. He played thirteen games in thirteen different cities in a period of about eighty days.

Thanks to his strategies he faced other players of great positions such as Alexander Alekhine, Capablanca, Flohr, among others, defeating them and surprising everyone after winning a world tournament for the first time and at the same time acquiring a great experience.

Years later, in 1937, he faced Alekhine again, losing and thus losing the title, which gave a mediocre result before other tournaments, but even so, he kept his great status in chess thanks to his technique.

Finally, in 1956 he decided to retire from chess and in 1959 he was appointed as director of the Dutch research center for automatic processing.

Characteristics of Max Euwe’s Chess Games

His skills were noticeable in the opening moves of the game, as well as in the defenses he applied, so he always remained worthy of the positions in which he was placed. Among his tactics and methods, he always used the Sicilian Defense first among many others.

He always showed himself as a true lover of the game but always as an amateur, because in spite of his triumphs in chess, he continued to work as a teacher.

Among his contributions to chess, Euwe wrote some books about chess and studies mainly about the opening of the game, being the most famous of them all, Judgment and Approach.

Homage to Max Euwe – Max Euwe Centre Amsterdam

Inside Amsterdam, a square was created with the name Max Euwe, also near the Leidse square there is a museum dedicated to Euwe, where the collection of chess books written by him is also shown. So, when next time in Amsterdam, why not have a look?

Books by Max Euwe

Among his works, he wrote more than 70 books, many more than any other world chess champion would have written. Among these we can mention some of the most famous ones;

A Guide to Chess Endings

The Spanish Opening I 

The Spanish Opening II

The Queen’s Gambit

The Development of Chess Style

Indian Defences

Road to Chess Mastery

Judgment and Planning in chess

Semi-open openings

Strategy & Tactics in Chess

The Caro-Kann Defense

Meet the Masters: Eight Great Chess Players and Their Most Characteristic Games

The Logical Approach to Chess

The Middlegame Book I

The Middlegame Book II

I can warmly recommend all of the books above!

Wife and Children

Max Euwe
Anefo / Mieremet, R., CC BY-SA 3.0 NL <>, via Wikimedia Commons

By 1926 he married Carolina Elisabeth Bergman and started a family. They had a daughter named Elisabeth Maria Bakker-Euwe.

Later in 1995, his granddaughter Esmee Lammers wrote a children’s book called “Long Life of the Queen” which is a story about a girl who learns to play chess and at the same time manages to find her father. 

Death of Max Euwe

In 1981, at the age of 80, Max died of a heart attack, more specifically an acute myocardial infarction. Euwe died in the city of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. 

The Reason for Chess

Chess is considered a mental sport, something that many do not think it is since we are used to considering sport to everything in which we use our physical body, such as basketball, baseball, soccer, athletics, among others. 

But beyond that, there are many more reasons why we could consider it a sport. First of all, it is competitive, because the goal is to win, to maintain full concentration because if we are careless we can lose against our opponent. Therefore, we must always be alert and this generates a certain psychological and physical wear, something that does not usually occur in other sports.

Physical fitness; All players must be in top mental condition, have reasoning and logistics. It is necessary to concentrate for many hours and, in the case of participating in a tournament, for many days as well. Something that affects a lot physically, so many players have a personal nutritionist or a trainer.

For Euwe, chess was a sport that emphasized his logical approach, which gave him a lot of material for the theories of chess. Euwe believed that logic was always on his side when it came to drawing a piece, but on the other hand, he always lacked the stamina to pull out of bad positions.


President of FIDE

His presidency of the F.I.D.E. lasted from 1970 to 1980. He played a very important and at the same time very difficult role, he was constantly charged with a lot of political tension thanks to several conflicts caused during some tournaments with other chess players, as in 1975 when he had to take away Bobby Fischer’s world title after a tournament he presented together with Boris Spassky. 

See also The Kings of Chess

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