RUBINSTEIN, AKIVA (1882–1961), Polish chess master. Rubinstein studied at various yeshivot and he took up chess at the age of 17. He became a player of genius, and was as prolific a producer of chess masterpieces as his younger contemporary, Capablanca. Rubinstein had a phenomenal memory and an original comprehensive grasp of all aspects of the game. He also achieved an objective, selfless attitude in play which earned him the description of "the Spinoza of chess."
Most of Rubinstein's victories were gained before World War i. In 1912 he shared first honors with Emanuel *Lasker at Vilna, and won many tournaments.
Until 1914 his career qualified him as the likely challenger for the world championship. Conditions arising from World War i and its aftermath, however, made it impossible for him to participate in any contenders' matches from 1914 to 1920, and the challenge was left to Capablanca. Between 1918 and 1930, he won many of the leading European tournaments, but deteriorating health forced him to retire to a nursing home in Belgium. It is believed that a Nazi devotee of chess was instrumental in saving his life during the German occupation and he was eventually able to leave the home a few years before he died.
H. Kinoch (ed.), Rubinstein's Chess Masterpieces (1941).