Prague 1946
Prague 1946
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Prague 1946

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Author: Golombek, Harry (1911-1995)

Year: 1950

Publisher: Chess

Place: Sutton Coldfield

Description:

[vi]+115 pages with diagrams and tables. Royal octavo (10" x 6 1/2") bound in red cloth with gilt lettering to spine. (Betts: 25-174) First edition.

The British Museum catalogue gives the date as 1959, but this is likely to be the date of deposit; an advertisement appears in 1952 issue of Chess, but the book looks to be c1950.

International chess was severely disrupted by World War II, beginning with the 1939 Olympiad at Buenos Aires. Political tensions had already affected some matches and this became more pronounced when war officially broke out during the Olympiad. Some teams and players withdrew and others remained in South America for the duration of the war. The death of Alexander Alekhine in the spring of 1946 further clouded the situation. After the war ended, the FIDE conference at Winterthur, Switzerland in the summer of 1946 had to not only try to re-establish FIDE itself but also deal with the question of the world championship title. FIDE proposed a world championship tournament including five participants from the AVRO (1938) tournament: Mikhail Botvinnik, Paul Keres, Max Euwe, Samuel Reshevsky and Reuben Fine, along with Vasily Smyslov. Additionally, the winner of either Groningen (1946) or Prague 1946 (this page) would be included should they not be one of the six already seeded. Prague 1946 was conceived as a memorial to Karel Treybal and Vera Menchik who both died during the war. The possibility of advancing a player to a world championship tournament was only part of what the Prague organizers envisioned as a prestigious tournament. They had invited Botvinnik, Smyslov, Keres, Salomon Flohr, David Bronstein, Euwe, Reshevsky, and Fine. None participated, although there were expectations that they would play. The Soviets were a particular disappointment, as they declined at the last moment - citing conflict with the semifinals of their national championship. This occurred the day prior to the opening ceremony, necessitating a delayed start to the tournament. Savielly Tartakower had accepted his invitation, but was delayed due to travel difficulties. He never arrived, and Karel Opocensky was chosen to replace him. All of this would weaken the prospects of the winner at Prague, Miguel Najdorf, who had remained in South America during the war, to be included in the FIDE World Championship Tournament (1948). Botvinnik won at Groningen, presumably leaving a spot open for the winner. However, politics since Winterthur had complicated the issue. Some argued that upon the death of a world champion the title should revert to the last living champion, which would be Euwe. Others held that, because a Botvinnik - Alekhine match had been agreed in principle, Botvinnik should be named champion. Others supported the idea of a championship tournament, but opposed the inclusion of additional players beyond the six named at Winterthur. Lack of consensus, the political realities of trying to bring the USSR into FIDE, and the reduced strength of the Prague event all played a part in dooming Najdorf's chances to participate in a world championship tournament. Despite pre-tournament problems, Prague was an interesting race for first. Jan Foltys had a fast start by winning his first four games, including a win over Petar Trifunovic, one of the other contenders for the top places. But his pace slowed with two draws followed by two losses. Three draws in the final five rounds were only good enough for equal fourth with Svetozar Gligoric. Gligoric also started quite well, scoring five wins and a draw in the first six rounds, including a potentially important win against Najdorf. His hopes faded as he only won one more game, but lost two and drew four in the second half of the tournament. His blunder in Gligoric vs Stoltz, 1946 in Round 10 must have been especially painful. Trifunovic started poorly with losses to Gösta Stoltz and Foltys in the first two rounds. He lost no further games, scoring seven wins and four draws, catching up enough to finish equal second with Stoltz. Stoltz also began slowly, winning only two games while losing two and drawing three in the first seven rounds. He finished strongly, winning five and drawing one. Najdorf started well, losing only one game (Gligoric vs Najdorf, 1946) while winning six in the first seven rounds. Najdorf's draw in Round 12 (Stoltz vs Najdorf, 1946) clinched sole first place with one round left to play. He won convincingly, but in the political climate of postwar Europe his hopes of inclusion in a world championship tournament were disappointed. (Chess dot com)

Condition:

Number stamp to back blank page else a near fine copy.