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Friday, April 1, 2016

A Heartbreaking Loss for William Fairhurst

     Rossolimo complained that despite his many successes in tournaments, many brilliancy prizes and Queen sacrifices, that when he went to publish a book of his best games, he was told by publishers that they were not interested because he ‘did not score points.’  It's a shame that nobody ever published a collection of his games, especially games that were annotated by Rossolimo himself. 
     This game against W.A. Fairhurst was played in the fourth post-WW2 Hastings Christmas Congress which was won by Rossolimo with a modest score of four wins, no losses and five draws, was one of the weaker Hastings tournaments ever held. The previous year's Hastings winner was Laszlo Szabo who withdrew before the start of the tournament due to illness. One of the problems with this tournament was that the organizers failed to supply a prize fund high enough to enough to attract any really strong players. The city of Hastings managed to raise £250 to fund the event. That would be about the equivalent of £8,000 today which is about $11,500; not much! 

      The tournament was still interesting with its mix of players. The Hungarian Imre König, Sazbo's replacement, had been living in England for ten years but hadn't played for over two years after losing both of his games to Vasily Smyslov in the USSR vs. Great Britain Radio Match. The French champion Nicolas Rossolimo had recently shared second with Pal Benko at Bad Gastein 1948 and drawn a match with Savielly Tartakower. He had also beaten I.A. Horowitz in one of only two decisive games in the little known drawn France vs. USA Radio Match in 1948. Jan Muhring of The Netherlands had shared second with Henri Grob and Sir George Thomas at Hastings 1947/1948 behind Szabó. 
     Paul Schmidt, originally from Estonia, had been competitive with Klaus Junge and Paul Keres during World War Two, but his post-war form was nowhere near being at the same level. Schmidt had emigrated from Estonia to Germany in the autumn of 1939. In 1951 he earned a PhD in chemistry from Heidelberg University and moved to Canada then to the USA, settling in Philadelphia, where he took a job as a professor. Later he and his wife Eva moved to Allentown, Pennsylvania, where he was employed by Bell Telephone Laboratories until his retirement in 1982. He continued playing occasional games and regularly visiting Reuben Fine in New York. 
     New Zealand champion Robert Wade had finished second in a pair of tournaments in Holland, Baarn Major Group and Hertogenbosch.   Sir George Thomas and Baruch Wood were the leading British players. Thomas had shared second in the previous Hastings Congress and both had shared second in the 1948 British Championship behind R.J. Broadbent. Scottish champion William Fairhurst had finished fifth at Hastings 1947/1948 and had recently drawn his game with M.E. Goldstein in the England vs. Australia Radio Match of 1948. T.H. Tylor had had some modest successes before the war, but had only played twice since 1946. William Winser was considered to be cannon fodder. He hadn't played since he finished sixth in the Premier Reserves B section of the previous year's Hastings Congress which was three classes below this event, the Premier section! 
     FIDE began awarding titles in 1950 and by the following year the IM title had been awarded to all of the players in this event except Wood, Winser and Tylor.  Rossolimo was the only one of the bunch who ever got the GM title; that was in 1953. 

Hastings 1948/49 Tournament 
1) Nicolas Rossolimo 6.5 
2) Imre Koenig 6.0 
3) Willem Jan Muhring 5.5 
4-5) Baruch H.Wood and William A. Fairhurst 5.0 
6) Paul F. Schmidt 4.5 
7) Sir George Thomas 4.0 
8) Robert G. Wade 3.5 
9) William A.Winser 3.0 
10) Theodore H. Tylor 2.0 

     When I decided to play over this game I was expecting to see a quick mop up by Rossolimo, but that wasn't the case. It was Fairhurst who was mopping the floor with Rossolimo and but for his one bad move at move 25, he would likely have won! Had Fairhurst won he would have had 6 points and Rossolimo 5.5 and that would have allowed him to tie for first with Koenig! What a pity!  Fairhurst's name would be listed with the likes of Rubinstein, Euwe, Tartakower, Alekhine, Reshevsky, Keres, Smyslov, Gligoric and many other greats who won at Hastings.

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