The Gijon International Chess Tournaments, 1944-1965

The Gijon International Chess Tournaments, 1944-1965
The Gijon International Chess Tournaments, 1944-1965

The Gijon International Chess Tournaments, 1944-1965 : Pedro Méndez Castedo & Luis Méndez Castedo

Pedro Méndez Castedo & Luis Méndez Castedo

Pedro Mendez Castedo is an amateur chess player, an elementary educational guidance counselor a member of the Asturias Chess History Commission, a bibliophile and a researcher of the history of Spanish and Asturian chess. He lives in San Martin del Rey Aurelio, Spain. Luis Mendez Castedo is an amateur chess player, a full teacher at a state school, a member of the Asturias Chess History Commission, a bibliophile and an investigator of the history of Spanish chess. He lives in Gijon, Spain.

 

When I mention Gijón, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Mustard? No, that’s Dijon. Dijon’s in France, but Gijón’s on the north coast of Spain, on the Bay of Biscay.

Small international chess tournaments were held there between 1944 and 1951, then between 1954 and 1956, and, finally, in 1965. These were all play all events, with between 8 and 12 players: a mixture of visiting masters and local stars. A bit like Hastings, you might think, but these tournaments usually took place in July, not in the middle of winter.

The strength of the tournaments varied, but some famous names took part. Alekhine played in the first two events and Euwe in 1951. A young Larsen played in 1956, while other prominent masters such as Rossolimo, Darga, Donner, Prins, Pomar and O’Kelly also took part. The local player Antonio Rico played in every event, with fluctuating fortunes: winning in 1945 ahead of Alekhine and 1948, but also finishing last on several occasions. English interests were represented on three occasions by Mr CHESS, BH Wood.

A nice touch is the Foreword, written by Gene Salomon, a Gijón native who played in the 1947 event before emigrating first to Cuba and then to the United States.

The main part of the book comprises a chapter on each tournament. We get a crosstable and round by round individual scores (it would have been better if these didn’t spill over the page: you might also think that progressive scores would be more useful). We then have, another nice touch, a summary of what was happening in the world at large, and in the chess world, that year. Then we have a games selection, some with light annotations: words rather than variations, giving the impression that little if any use was made of engines.

The book concludes with a chapter on ‘Special Personages’: Félix Heras, the tournament organizer, and, perhaps to entice British readers, BH Wood. Appendices provide a table of tournament participation and biographical summaries of the players.

Returning to the main body of the book, let’s take the 1950 tournament as a not entirely random example. A year in which I have a particular interest.

We learn a little about the football World Cup, the Korean War and a Spanish radio programme, the first Candidates Tournament and the Dubrovnik chess olympiad.

The big news from Gijón was the participation of the French player Chantal Chaudé de Silans, the only female to take part in  these events, and rather unfairly deprived of her acute accent here. She scored a respectable 3½ points, beating Prins and Grob (yes, the 1. g4 chap).

Rossolimo won the event with 8½/11, just ahead of Dunkelblum and Pomar on 8. Prins and Torán, playing in his home city, finished on 7 points.

This game, between Arturo Pomar and Henri Grob, won the first brilliancy prize.

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. g3 Bg7 6. Bg2 c6 7. e3 h5 8. Nge2 h4 9. Qb3 Nxc3 10. bxc3 Nd7 11. a4 Nb6 12. a5

12… Nd7 13. a6 Qc7 14. Qc4 Nb6 15. Qc5 Rh5 16. Qa3 bxa6 17. Nf4 Rh8 18. Qc5 Bb7 19. Ba3 e5 20. Nd3 exd4 21. cxd4 Rh5 22. Ne5 O-O-O 23. g4 Nd7 24. Qc2 Rxe5 25. dxe5 Nxe5 26. Rb1 h3 27. Be4 Nxg4 28. Ke2 a5 29. Rxb7 Kxb7 30. Rb1+ Kc8 31. Bxc6 Ne5 32. Bb7+ Kb8 33. Ba6+ Qb6 34. Bd6+ Ka8 35. Rxb6 1:0

The annotations – by result rather than analysis – neither convince nor stand up to computer scrutiny. We’re told at the start of the game that ‘Pomar takes the initiative from Black’s error in the opening and does not relinquish it until the final victory’, but the annotations refute this claim. After criticizing several of Grob’s moves but none of Pomar’s, we’re told, correctly, that Black could have gained an advantage by playing 25… Qa5+. However, Grob’s choice was second best, not a ‘serious mistake’: Stockfish 10 tells me 26… a5 was still better for Black, and 27… a5 (in both cases with the idea of Ba6) was equal, though I guess those moves might not be easy to find without assistance. It was his 27th move, and perhaps also his 26th, which deserved the question mark.

This game was played in the last round of the tournament, on 26 July 1950.  Two days later a boy would be born who would learn chess, develop an interest in the game’s history and literature, and be asked to review this book. What is his verdict?

An enjoyable read, a nice book, but not a great book. If you collect McFarland books you’ll want it. If you have a particular passion for Spanish chess history, you’ll want it. Otherwise, although the book is not without interest, it’s probably an optional extra.

The tournaments, apart perhaps from Alekhine’s participation in the first two events, are not, in the overall scheme of things, especially significant. The games, by and large, aren’t that exciting. The annotations are, by today’s standards, not really adequate. The translation and presentation could have been improved.

Just another thought: we could do with a similarly structured book about the Hastings tournaments. There was one published some years ago, but a genuine chess historian could do much better.

Richard James, Twickenham 20 November 2019

Richard James
Richard James

Book Details :

  • Softcover : 244 pages
  • Publisher: McFarland (30 July 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476676593
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476676593
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 1.5 x 25.1 cm

Official web site of McFarland

The Gijon International Chess Tournaments, 1944-1965
The Gijon International Chess Tournaments, 1944-1965

Remembering Mary Rudge (06-II-1842, 22-XI-1919)

Mary Rudge
Mary Rudge

We remember Mary Rudge who passed away one hundred years this day on Saturday, 22-XI-1919

From Wikipedia :

Mary Rudge (6 February 1842 in Leominster – 22 November 1919 in London) was an English chess master.

Rudge was born in Leominster, a small town in Herefordshire, England. She began playing chess in a correspondence tournament in 1872. The first mention of over the board competition is in August 1874 when she played in the second class at the Meeting of the Counties’ Chess Association at Birmingham. After the death of her father, Henry Rudge, she moved to Bristol where she started playing chess seriously.

Rudge was the first woman member of the Bristol Chess Club, which did not allow women to be members of the club until she joined in 1872. She played against Joseph Henry Blackburne, who gave a blindfold simultaneous display against ten opponents. The following year she played in another blindfold simultaneous display given by Johannes Hermann Zukertort. In March 1887 she played and drew on board six for Bristol against Bath at the Imperial Hotel in Bristol. At the beginning of 1888, Rudge played and won on board six for Bristol & Clifton against City Chess & Draughts Club. The following year, she won the Challenge Cup of Bristol & Clifton Chess Club. In 1889, she became the first woman in the world to give simultaneous chess exhibitions. She won the Ladies’ Challenge Cup at Cambridge 1890, and won the second class at the Southern Counties’ tournament at Clifton 1896.[1]

Miss Stevenson  & Mary Rudge
Miss Stevenson & Mary Rudge

First Women’s International Chess Congress
She was a winner of the first Women’s International Chess Congress under the management of the Ladies’ Chess Club of London in conjunction with the Women’s Chess Club of New York. Lady Newnes was president of the Tournament Committee, and Sir George Newnes, Baron Albert Salomon von Rothschild, Mr. Harry Nelson Pillsbury and some others offered prizes. The tournament was played at the Hotel Cecil in the Masonic Hall for six days, but the final rounds were decided at the Ideal Café, the headquarters of the Ladies’ Chess Club, from 22 June to 3 July 1897.[2] Miss Rudge was 55 years old and the oldest of the 20 players,[3] and had substantial experience playing chess at the time. She was a well-known English player, ranking in chess strength with the first class of the leading men’s clubs. She won the event with 18 wins and 1 draw, followed by Signorina Louisa Matilda Fagan (Italy), Miss Eliza Mary Thorold (England), Mrs. Harriet Worrall (USA), Madame Marie Bonnefin (Belgium), Mrs. F.S. Barry (Ireland), Lady Edith Margaret Thomas (England), among others.[4]

Mary Rudge
Mary Rudge

Over the next years, she took part in various competitions, playing in Bristol and Dublin. In 1898, she played against world champion Emanuel Lasker in a simultaneous display at the Imperial Hotel. Lasker was unable to finish all the games in the time available, and Rudge’s was one of those unfinished. He conceded defeat because he would be lost with best play.[5]

Mary Rudge
Mary Rudge

The International Ladies Congress
The International Ladies Congress

Remembering WIM Patricia Anne Sunnucks (21-ii-1927 22-xi-2014)

WIM Patricia Anne Sunnucks at the Lloyds Bank Masters
WIM Patricia Anne Sunnucks at the Lloyds Bank Masters

We remember WIM Patricia Anne Sunnucks who passed away this day, November 22nd, 2014, aged 87 years.

From Wikipedia :

Patricia Anne Sunnucks (21 February 1927 – 22 November 2014[1]) was an author and three-times British Women’s Chess Champion (1957, 1958, 1964). During her chess career she was always known as Anne Sunnucks.

She was educated at Wycombe Abbey School[2], Buckinghamshire. Although she learned how to play chess at the age of 8, she did not play seriously until the age of 21, when she joined the same chess club as Imre König, who became her tutor. By finishing tied for second place in the 1953 British Women’s Championship she became one of three British representatives in the 1954 Western European Zonal.

Anne Sunnucks vs Chaudé de Silans (Amsterdam, 1962)
Anne Sunnucks vs Chaudé de Silans (Amsterdam, 1962)

Sunnucks earned the Woman International Master title by placing second in the 1954 Western European Zonal. Although this result qualified her to play in the next event in the Women’s World Championship sequence, she was a major in the Women’s Royal Army Corps and the authorities would not allow her to travel to the USSR where the 1955 Women’s Candidates tournament was being held. Sunnucks represented England several times in Olympiads and team matches, including Great Britain vs. USSR 1954, the Anglo-Dutch match in 1965, and top board for the British Chess Federation (BCF) team at the 1966 Women’s Chess Olympiad at Oberhausen. She participated in the Women’s World Championship cycle two more times, representing the BCF in the Western European Zonal tournaments of 1963 and 1966. Sunnucks won both the Army and the Combined Services Championships in 1968, and was the only woman to compete in either. Sunnucks compiled The Encyclopaedia of Chess (1970, second edition: 1976).

The Encyclopedia of Chess by Anne Sunnucks
The Encyclopedia of Chess by Anne Sunnucks

Her married name was Anne Mothersill.[1]

Anne created Camberley Chess Club in 1972. She offered to open her spacious home at 28, Brackendale Close, Camberley for weekly club nights and matches.

Anne Sunnucks (third from left) playing in the 1971 British Ladies Championship in Palatine School, Blackpool. Courtesy of Lancashire Evening Post.
Anne Sunnucks (third from left) playing in the 1971 British Ladies Championship in Palatine School, Blackpool. Courtesy of Lancashire Evening Post.

Anne was a director of BMS (?, Mothersill, Sunnucks) Chess Supplies Ltd. which retailed chess books and equipment which the grateful membership purchased !

In September 1984 in Bracknell, Berkshire Anne married Richard C Mothersill.

Anne passed away on November 22nd, 2014 at a retirement village in Meadow Park, Braintree, Essex.

From Brian Towers : It is also worth noting that she was an occasional contributor to the weekly chess ‘Magazine’ programme which was broadcast on the Third Network (the precursor to Radio 3) between Autumn 1958 and Summer 1964.

According to ChessBase, her highest Elo rating was 2045 but we suspect it was in reality, higher.

In 1972 Anne was awarded with a FIDE Medal of Merit.

WIM Patricia Anne Sunnucks
WIM Patricia Anne Sunnucks

For much of her early chess life Anne was coached by IM Imre (Mirko) König.

WIM Patricia Anne Sunnucks
WIM Patricia Anne Sunnucks
Full Caption
Full Caption