Chess Heroes: Teodor Regedziński

Teodor RegedzińskiTeodor Regedziński was born on April 28th, 1894 near Łódź. His biography is the field of calamitous conflict of allegiance and choices unfeasible to face in a way that would satisfy everyone. Born Polish, he was of German origin as his father, who was a blacksmith by profession, was a German named Reger. As a young boy stemming from a poor family he had to earn for a living very soon. He had lived in Łódź since 1908 enrolling in the Łódź Association of Devotees of the Game of Chess (Łódzkie Towarzystwo Zwolenników Gry Szachowej), city's strongest chess club. In 1912 he came second (behind Salwe; Rubinstein did not play) in an unofficial city championship. During WWI he was temporarily detained by the Austrians but was released in 1916. In 1917 he came third in the club championship, behind Rubinstein and Salwe. However already in 1918 and 1919 he won, in the absence of Rubinstein though. He participated in all four pre-1939 editions of exceptionally tough Polish Championship. In its premier edition in Warsaw in 1926 he won third prize shared with four other players. On the next year in Łódź he was fourth, but the competition was much harder; Rubinstein won ahead of Tartakower and Makarczyk. Later on that year he won master tournament in Kecskemét, which happened to underlie the IM title that he was awarded a few decades later.

In 1928 he was member of Polish team at the 2nd Chess Olympiad in The Hague, where he scored 10/13 receiving third prize for best individual result (no board order was known those days), he also won a bronze medal with the team. In 1930 he came 8th in an international tournament in Štubnianske Teplice (today's Štubnianske Teplice, Slovakia) defeating a.o. Lilienthal and H.Steiner. In 1933 he went to Folkestone but fitness had always been his Achilles' heel and dry, maritime climate crippled him. He was not in the national team at the Warsaw Olympiad in 1935 because he did badly in the 3rd Polish Championship earlier on that year finishing 11th. In 1937 he came 8th in the 4th national championship which was a behemoth open tournament; Tartakower won ahead of Ståhlberg of Sweden and Najdorf. At the Stockholm Olympiad he reached his all-time peak scoring marvellous 11/13 (+10=2-1) to win second prize for best result at his board and third best overall result. He also contributed greatly to Poland's bronze medal. In August 1939 he left for Chess Olympiad in Argentina where outbreak of WWII found him and his team-mates. Unlike other players of Polish team (Najdorf, Frydman, Tartakower) who profited hospitality of Jewish Diaspora in Buenos Aires and settled there for some years (or even forever), he decided to go aboard and come back to Europe, where his wife and his son were waiting.

As he came back to occupied Poland he decided to sign a volkslist, thus deeding over to his German roots and swearing off loyalty to Poland, which was considered to be a capital crime among Polish people. As Theodore Reger he had played in a number of chess tournaments under Nazi patronage, including 7th German Championship in Bad Oeynhausen in 1940, where he finished 10th. In 1941 he played in the Generalgouvernement Championship in Cracow, won by Alekhine. Generalgouvernement was allocated part of pre-war Poland's territory to receive a smitch of autonomy, still under strict Nazi control anyway. Because of his linguistic skills (he spoke Polish, German, Russian, English and French) he was appointed by the German Army as an interpreter.

After the end of the War he came back to Łódź (it is a big mystery to me why he decided to leave Germany and confront new Polish reality) and was arrested by the newly appointed communist authorities and sentenced for collaboration with the facist regime to serve four years in a labour camp. Years spent in prison broke his health and his life. In late 1940's he came back to become active chess player once again, notwithstanding with the fact the he devoted most of his time spent on chess for work as a chess activist. In 1952 he even managed to win the championship of Łódź once again and came 5th in the national championship. His deteriorating health, however, made this his swansong. He passed away in 1954.

His chess career hasn't been dazzling, his Olympic record looks flash though. He played 46 games overall, of which he won 26 and lost 6 (71.7%). He won three individual and three team medals. He was also a member of Polish team which took silver medals in Munich, at the unofficial Olympiad.

His contemporaries recalled him as a humble and passionate person and chess addict. He did a lot for development of youth chess in his home town. His playing style was described as positional and incisive in defence. He was well-known from his wide theoretical knowledge.

See Teodor Regedziński's all-time Olympic record.

See one of his games from 1937 Olympiad:

Jiří Pelikán (CSR) - Teodor Regedziński (POL) 0 - 1