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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Ramsgate 1929

     It's often reported that Vera Menchik's greatest tournament was this one where it is sometimes said she tied for second with Rubinstein, half a point behind Capablanca and ahead of her mentor Geza Maroczy.  That's not quite true! 
     It's usually not mentioned that Ramsgate was a Scheveningen team tournament which pitted seven foreign masters against seven English players and Menchik was on same team as Capa, Rubinstein and Maroczy, so she never even played them. She was undefeated, scoring against Sir George Thomas, Reginald Michell and Hubert Price and drawing with F.D. Yates, T.H. Tyler, William Winter and E.G. Sergeant...quite an accomplishment to be sure, but her +3 -0 =4 was against the British players only. It was the first event which she played against men; she was the only woman to play in men's tournaments in the first half of the 20th century.  According to an article in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle in April, 1929, although Menchik was playing on the foreign team, she had been living in Hastings for a number of years and her results in this match made her one of the best players in England.
     Ramsgate was a Scheveningen team tournament. This system, where a player faces every player on the opposing team and the team with the highest score is the winner, was first used at Scheveningen in 1923. The idea was to allow a team of ten Dutch players to face ten foreign masters so they could gain experience against strong competition. 
     Of the British players Sir George Thomas and F.D. Yates are fairly well known, but the others are not. 
     Reginald Michell (April 9, 1873 – May 19, 1938) was British Amateur Champion in 1902. He played in eight England vs. USA cable matches between 1901 and 1911 and twice represented England the Olympiad. He was a frequent competitor in the Hastings International Congress over 20 years and scored wins over Mir Sultan Khan and Vera Menchik in 1932-3. He had 2nd, 3rd and 4th place finishes in the British Championship. Michell worked in the Admiralty and his wife Edith Michell was British Women's Champion in 1931 (jointly), 1932 and 1935. 
     Sir Theodore Tylor (May 13, 1900 – October 23, 1968) was a lawyer and IM strength player despite being nearly blind. He was knighted in 1965 for his service to organizations for the blind. Tylor competed in twelve British Championships; his best result was in 1933, finishing second to Mir Sultan Khan. He tied for first in the 1929-30 Hastings Premier Reserves with George Koltanowski. He won the British Correspondence Chess Championship in 1932, 1933, and 1934.
     William Winter (September 11, 1898 – December 18, 1955) won the British Open Championship in 1934 and the British Championship in 1935 and 1936. He had wins over a number of the world's top players including Bronstein, Nimzovich and Vidmar.  Unfortunately, health issues and poor tactical play did not permit consistent results. Winter was the author several of chess books and was a nephew of J. M. Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan. Harry Golombek, rather unkindly, described Winter, who was a communist as "...he was revolutionary, illogically moved by his emotions (he contrived to be both a fervent communist and a staunch patriot) and, more often than not, drunk." Winter also holds the distinction of having been, because of his political activities, the only British Champion to have served time in prison.  For a good article on this fascinating character see Edward Winter's article HERE.
     Edward G. Sergeant (December 3, 1881 – November 16, 1961) played mostly in local events and was a frequent competitor in the British Championship, London City Championship and the Hastings International Congress. He was a second cousin of Philip W. Sergeant, a British professional writer on chess and popular historical subjects. 
     Hubert E. Price (1877 - February 19-1957) played in a number of BCF championships. His best result was tying for second in the British Championship with Michell behind Mir Sultan Khan held shortly after this match-tournament. Price also played in a number of Hastings Premier tournaments. His best result was second behind Borislav Kostic in the 1921-2 tournament.
     Of the visiting team, Capablanca, Rubinstein, Menchik and Maroczy need no introduction. 
     George Koltanowski (September 17, 1903 – February 5, 2000) was born in Belgium and was on tour in South America when World War II began. He was allowed to move to the United States in 1940 and lived there for the rest of his life. Koltanowski played on two Belgian and one United States Olympiad teams. He was known in his later years for his chess lectures, blindfold play and knight tour demonstrations and tireless promotion of chess.  He is in the US Chess Hall of Fame.
     Victor Soultanbeieff (November 11, 1895 - February 9, 1972) was born in the Ukraine and moved to Belgium in the early 1920s. He won the Belgian championship multiple times, but work obligations limited his opportunities for international play. He was on the Belgian Olympiad team at Folkstone, 1933. Known for his aggressive play, he sometimes won short, brilliant games, but such play also lead to needless defeats. He participated in a total of 22 Belgian championships between 1923 and 1969, winning it 5 times, finishing second three times and one third place finish. In addition to being a chess author he also played correspondence chess. 
     Eugene Znosko-Borovsky (August 16, 1884 – December 31, 1954), a noted drama and literary critic, was born in Russia and moved to Paris in 1920. As a player, Znosko-Borovsky never reached the highest levels, but he did have some notable results such as Paris 1930, where he finished first undefeated ahead of Tartakower, Lilienthal and Mieses. He also took first prize at Folkestone in 1933. During his career he managed wins from such luminaries as Capablanca, Rubinstein, Euwe and Bogoljubov and won a short match with Edgard Colle in 1922. 

     England got crushed 31.5 - 17.5 and their only bright spot was Thomas' even score.  This game features what appears to be an incredible double blunder at move 10.  I checked several sources and they all show the game score as given here, but stranger things have happened.  While there were better games played in this match, I chose this one because it shows that often there's a reason why some master games don't get published!

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