Chess Heroes: Mir Sultan Khan
He was one of most intriguing personalities that have ever appeared at the Olympiads. Originating from today's Pakistan (born in 1905) he went to Europe in 1929 brought by his master, Sir Umar Hayat Khan, and came back to Asia just four years later. He spent rest of his life in his homeland, away of any public chess activities. He received a small patrimony after his master's death which let him farm happily for the rest of his life in Punjab. He died in 1966.
Despite of his exotic looks and suits, with a funny, bulged turban over his head, he was a player of ultimate strength although he used to play Indian version of chess before he came to Europe (thee differences are minor but still important at top level). Whether his master took him to Europe because of his unique chess talent which he was apparently aware of and whether Sultan Khan was a slave of a maharaja or just a servant is not clear. Reuben Fine reported once that he came to a dinner to Sultan Khan master's house and was embarrassed to see the Indian grandmaster serving him the dishes, yet the validity of the story has been questioned many times.
Sultan Khan achieved outstanding successes during his short stay in Europe. He played at top British board at 1930, 1931 and 1933 Olympiads. He never did worse than 50% leading Great Britain to decent top 10 places. He won British Chess Championship three times (1929, 1932, 1933) missing the title only once, in 1931. He beat dr Savielly Tartakower in a friendly match and defeated a. e. Alekhine and Capablanca in a single game. He won shared 3rd place in Hastings 1932/33 behind Flohr and Pirc. His Chessmetrics ratings had been close to 2600 making him world top 20 member at the time and very close to top 10 standards. He is unofficially recognized as first Asian grandmaster.
These are two of his most famous games:
Sultan Khan-Capablanca 1-0, Hastings 1930
Sultan Khan-Flohr 1-0, Prague olm 1931