The World Chess Championship 1948

The World Chess Championship 1948

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Author: Golombek, Harry (1911- ) [editor]

Year: 1949

Publisher: George Bell & Sons

Place: London


vi+229 pages with frontispiece, two plates, tables, diagrams and index. bound in original publisher's green cloth with white lettering to spine in original pictorial jacket. Octavo (8 3/4" x 5 3/4") (Betts: 25-183) First edition.

Contains short biographies of the five contestants, with career records and portraits, all 50 games, fully annotated and with commentary on each round, a chapter on the theoretical value of the openings and an index of openings.

World chess champion Alexander Alekhine died on 23 March 1946. At the July 1946 Winterthur congress, FIDE proposed a contest for the vacant title be scheduled for June 1947 in the Netherlands. They planned a quadruple round robin tournament featuring the following candidates- Samuel Reshevsky, Reuben Fine, Mikhail Botvinnik, Paul Keres, Vasily Smyslov, and the winner of either the upcoming Groningen or Prague tournaments, decided by a match if necessary. Max Euwe was also included because he had previously held the world title. The tournament was delayed, partly because the USSR was not yet a FIDE member. On 15 September 1946, the proposed contestants (except Fine) met in Moscow to iron out the details. This meeting occurred a day after the USSR-USA match ended, and did not involve FIDE. Botvinnik reportedly announced that he would not play in the Netherlands. He was angry about a Dutch news report that suggested his fellow Russians might collude to help him win the title. The five contestants then compromised with a plan to divide the event between the Netherlands and Moscow. The Soviet Sports Committee refused this idea outright because they wanted all the games to be played in Moscow. Meanwhile, FIDE president Alexander Rueb withdrew FIDE's claim to organize the tournament. FIDE therefore decided to stage a quintuple round robin, for a total of 25 rounds, with one player having a bye each round. The time control was 40 moves in 2 1/2 hours and 16 moves per hour after that. Players were permitted two assistants to help analyze adjourned games. First prize was $5,000; second $3,000; third $2,000; fourth $1,500; and fifth $1,000. Milan Vidmar was arbiter, assisted by Alexander Kotov. Decided by lot, the first 10 rounds were held in The Hague, followed by 15 rounds in Moscow. During the first leg, all players except Botvinnik lodged at the Kurhaus in Scheveningen. Botvinnik objected to the Kurhaus, explaining that he wanted to stay "in a hotel where I can get to... (the Dierentuin playing hall) on foot in twenty minutes. Botvinnik led the field by a point when he faced Keres in the 10th round. Due to a scheduling vagary, Keres was playing after an unusually long layoff. Before the tournament, Botvinnik had noticed this odd scheduling possibility and warned his countrymen that "when we get to The Hague, one of you will get six days of rest, and lose like a child on the seventh day." "After six days' rest", Botvinnik later recalled, "Keres sat across from me, pale as death. Keres proceeded to lose in 23 moves, enabling Botvinnik to carry a 1.5 point lead into the Moscow leg. In Moscow, the masters played in the magnificent Salle des Colonnes in front of 2,000 spectators. Botvinnik clinched the title by round 22, finishing three points ahead of Smyslov.


Some foxing to end papers, head page ends soiled, previous owner's name on front end paper. Jacket edge wear, spine ends and corner chipped, spine age darkened. Very good in a very good dust jacket.