by Bill Wall
Gerald Abrahams was born in
Liverpool on April 15, 1907 in
He was an English lawyer (barrister), political theorist, philosopher, and strong amateur chess player.
He is best known for the
“Abrahams Defense” of the Semi-Slav.
This is also known as the Noteboom variation, after the Dutch player
Daniel Noteboom (1910-1932). The opening
moves are 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c6 4.Nf3 dxc4 5.e3 b5 6.a4 Bb4 7.Bd2 a5. He first played this line in a university
He was a strong blindfold player.
He is quoted as saying, “The tactician knows what to do when there is something to do; whereas the strategian knows what to do when there is nothing to do.” Other quotes of his are “Chess is a good mistress but a bad master,” and “In chess there is a world of intellectual values,” and “Good positions don’t win games, good moves do.”
Abrahams started playing chess in 1921 at the age of 14.
In the early 1920s, he was composing chess problems.
In 1923, at the age of 16, he
played in the
In 1923, he played Alekhine and was the last surviving member in a simultaneous exhibition given by Alekhine. Abrahams lost and Alekhine swept all the pieces aside brusquely and stalked away.
In 1929, he played in his first British chess championship, held at Ramsgate.
By the 1930s, Abrahams was
the most attacking player in
In 1933, Abrahams finished 3rd place in the British Championship, won by Mir Sultan Khan. 2nd place went to T.H. Tylor.
In 1933-34, Abrahams was in
In 1934, he won on board 1
against J.J. O’Hanlon in a match
In 1934, he won on board 1
On May 21, 1934, Abrahams
played 4 strong players blindfolded in
In 1936, he finished in 3rd place with Karel Opocensky at the Nottingham Major Open.
In 1936, Abrahams helped Alekhine’s wife in renewing her visa.
In 1938, he wrote Law Affecting Police and Public.
In 1939, he wrote Law Relating to Hire Purchase.
In 1940, he wrote Ugly Angel.
In 1941, he wrote Retribution.
In 1943, he wrote Day of Reckoning. He also wrote World Turns Left in July, 1943.
In 1945, he wrote Conscience Makes Heroes.
In 1946, Heinrich Fraenkel (Assiac) organized a New Statesman competition to find a suitable translation of Zugswang. Abrahams won the competition for the word movebound.
In 1946, he won one game and drew one game against Viacheslav Ragozin in the Anglo-Soviet radio match. Ragozin later became the second World Correspondence Chess Champion.
In 1946, he played in the
British chess championship at
In 1946-47, he played at
In 1947, he played David
In 1948, he wrote Teach Yourself Chess.
In 1948 he played at Bad Gastein and won the brilliancy prize for his game with
In 1951, he wrote The Chess Mind. The book has plenty of theorizing, chess stories, advice, and over 250 positions. It was reprinted by Penguin Books in 1960.
In 1951, he wrote Lunatics and Lawyers.
In 1951-52, he played at
In 1954, he wrote The Legal Mind. In this book, Abrahms commented about a case in which chess player
William Herbert Wallace may have killed his wife Julia Wallace in
In 1955, he wrote Chess.
In 1956, he wrote La Mediocrazia Contemporanea.
In 1957, he wrote Lo Stato Come Societa Commerciale: E La Irresponsibilitia Dei Ministri.
In 1958, he wrote The Law for Writers and Journalists.
In 1958, he also wrote According to Evidence: An Essay on Legal
Proof. In this book, Abrahams
commented about a case in which chess player William Herbert Wallace may have
killed his wife Julia Wallace in
In 1961, he wrote Technique in Chess. It is a guide to general concepts of chess
technique and the methods for using technique to plan ahead. Abraham analyzes 200 examples and problems
from actual play. In 1973, a
In 1961, he wrote The Jewish Mind. Abrahams gave four possible explanations why Jews were good at chess.
1. Jews traditionally strive to produce the pure intellectual.
2. They love study and learning.
3. They are perseverant.
4. They are talented at languages including the language of chess.
In 1962, he wrote Brains in Bridge.
In 1962, he played in the
British Championship, held in
In 1963, he wrote Test Your Chess.
In 1964, he wrote Police Questioning: The Judges’ Rules.
In 1965, he wrote Pan Book of Chess.
In 1965, he wrote Handbook of Chess for Beginners and Practiced Players.
In 1966, he wrote Let’s Look at Israel.
In 1967, Abrahams gave a lecture to the meeting of The Chess Endgame Study Circle at the 1967-68 Hastings International Chess Congress. His title of the lecture was “Chess Endings - Didactic and Epicurean.” An edited version of his lecture appeared in the March 1969 issue (issue # 15) of EG magazine.
In 1968, he wrote Trade Unions and the Law.
In 1971, he wrote Morality and the Law.
In 1974, he wrote Not Only Chess: A Selection of Chessays.
In 1977, he wrote Brilliance in Chess.
Abrahams died on March 15, 1980. He was 72 years old. He was one month away from his 73rd birthday.