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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Chess Happenings in 1945

In just a few days I‘ll be hitting the big 65. Not that it’s that big a deal because I retired early from my job two years ago, but I was curious to see what was happening in the chess world in July of 1945.

The first thing I found out was the great Dutch player, Jan Hein Donner, was born on my birthday, July 6th, but he was born in 1927.

Unfortunately 1945 some chess players were killed in the waning months of the war. The Dutch master Arthur Wijnans died in an Allied bombardment in January, Austrian master Wolfgang Weil was killed in combat in the same month. Also in January another Dutch master, Arnold van den Hoek was killed in an Allied bombardment in a labor camp at Watenstedt, suburb of Brunswick, Germany. January was a bad month. Komel Havasi, a Hungarian master died in Budapest. A few months layer in April another Hungarian master Zoltan von Balla died in a traffic accident with a Soviet tank in Budapest, Hungary. On April 17th, 1945, the brilliant and very promising German master Klaus Junge, serving as a lieutenant of the 12th SS Battalion, refusing to surrender, died in combat against Allied troops in the battle of Welle, Finally, on Octoner 20th German GM Julius Diemer died.

In September there was the eagerly awaited USA vs. USSR Radio Match where 10 leading masters of the United States played the 10 leading masters of the Soviet Union in a two-game head-to-head match. The USSR team won the match 15½ - 4½. The results left the Americans shocked and Al Horowitz’ Chess Review magazine ran scores of letters from people who felt US players needed to be treated better…that is somehow paid enough money for playing chess so that they could make it a full time profession. It never happened.

In 1945 computers made their chess debut. Alan Turing, an English mathematician, logician, cryptographer, and computer pioneer, used chess playing as an example of what a computer could do.

On the international tournament scene Miguel Najdorf won at Mar del Plata. He also captured first at Buenos Aires. Rio de Janeiro was won by Erich Eliskases and the Australian Championship was won by Lajos Steiner.

There was a small tournament in Madrid that was won by Alekhine. The Estonian Champ. was won by Paul Keres and the Latvian Championship by Vladimir Alatorsev. Vladas Mikenas won the Lithuanian Championship

Also in July at Gijon, Spain the unknown Antonio Rico finished first ahead of Alekhine and Antonio Medina.

In July the US Open was held in Peoria, Illinois and was won by Anthony Santasiere. In the meantime Samuel Reshevsky was winning the Pan-Am Chess Championship in Hollywood ahead of Dr. Reuben Fine and Herrmann Pilnik.

The Hollywood tournament was held July 28th to August 12th. Early acceptances were received from the most of the sixteen masters from America and South America. Early acknowledgements were given by American masters Reubin Fine, I. A. Horowitz, Isaac Kashdan, Albert S. Pinkus, Edward Lasker, and Pfc. Herbert Seidman. Foreign players included Hector Rossetto and Jacobo Bolbachan of Argentina, Dr. Walter Cruz and J. Souza Mendes of Brazil, Julio Salas and Mariano Catillo of Chile, Alfredo Olivero of Uruguay, Major J. Araiza and Joquin Camarena of Mexico, Dr. Alfredo Broderman of Cuba, and Abe Yanofsky, Canada.

Unfortunately the original list of players did not attend. America was still at war in the Pacific and travel was difficult if not impossible. Pinkus and Lasker withdrew as they could not obtain reservations, Weaver Adams, a last-minute replacement, was delayed enroute and arrived three days late with Dr. Cruz of Brazil. Herman Pilnik, another replacement from Argentina, lost his plane reservation and proceeded by car. He crashed into an unlighted truck at night and woke up in a Yuma, Arizona hospital. He arrived in Hollywood three days late with his head swathed in bandages. Other players withdrew for various reasons. Here’s a link to an interesting account of the event. Hollywood Pan-Am 1945

In August Alekhine won small events in Sabadell, Almeria and Melilla while competing against minor masters. At Kecskemet, Hungary Gideon Barcza finished forst ahead of Laszlo Szabo. Ljubljana was won by Svetozar Gligoric ahead of the father and son team of Milan Vidmar, Senior and Junior!

So there you have it. A busy year!

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