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Thursday, July 27, 2017

1955 Women's Candidate Tournament, Larissa Volpert and Folke Rogard

Volpert
     The 1956 Women's World Championship was won by Olga Rubtsova, who became the fourth women's champion. She won the 1955 Candidates Tournament but FIDE decided that instead of her playing the defending champion Elisabeth Bykova, the championship should be decided between the top three female players: Rubtsova, Bykova, and Lyudmila Rudenko, ex-champion and loser of the last title match. 
      At the time the FIDE President was Folke Rogard (July 6, 1899 – June 11, 1973), a Swedish lawyer, chess official, player and arbiter.  Rogard was born in Stockholm with the last name of Rosengren and it was with that name that he qualified as a lawyer. After a family member was charged with burglary, he changed his name to Rogard and cut all ties with his family. 
     Rogard, who could speak five languages, was vice-president of FIDE from 1947 to 1949, then succeeded Alexander Rueb as president, a post he held until succeeded by Max Euwe in 1970. He was also chairman of the Swedish Chess Federation from 1947 to 1964. Rogard was granted the International Arbiter title by FIDE in 1951.
     During his term with FIDE he was able to arrange for many high-profile events to be hosted in Sweden. Four Interzonal tournaments as well as the 1956 Student Olympiad, the 1969 World Junior Championship and the 1968 Candidates' match were all held in Sweden. Sweden also hosted the FIDE Congress of 1955. 
     Rogard achieved a lot during his tenure: formalization of the GM and IM titles in 1950; gaining control of the World Championship process, setting up world chess zones and the Interzonal and Candidates tournaments on a regular three-year cycle, starting in 1948 with the World Championship Tournament. He also reestablished the Chess Olympiads on a two-year cycle, starting in 1950. He established the World Junior Chess Championship and was instrumental in getting the international rating system established in 1970. He was also largely responsible for the famous USSR verses the Rest of the World match held in Belgrade in April of 1970. 
     He was married four times: first to Greta Santessen from 1921 to 1934; then to Gueye Rolf until 1944; then to actress Viveca Lindfors from 1944 to 1948 and finally to Ella Johansson from 1965. You can read a fascinating account of his marriage to Viveca Lindfors HERE

     The second place finisher at the 1955 Womens' Candidate tournament was Larissa Volpert (born March 30, 1926) is a WGM who as far as I am aware, is still alive and would be 91 years old. Born in Leningrad, she learned chess from her older brother and received chess instruction at the Leningrad Pioneers Palace. 
     In 1947, she tied for first at the Leningrad Women's Championship and played her first USSR Women's Championship in 1949 and finished equal fifth. In 1954, she won her first USSR Women's Championship. In 1958 she shared the USSR Women's Championship title, and in 1959 she won for the third time, her second outright victory. Volpert earned the Woman IM title in 1954 and the Woman GM title in 1977. 
     She has a degree in philology from Leningrad University and is Professor Emeritus of philology at the University of Tartu, Estonia. In case you're wondering, philology is the study of language in written historical sources; it is a combination of literary criticism, history, and linguistics. It is more commonly defined as the study of literary texts and written records, the establishment of their authenticity and their original form, and the determination of their meaning. 
Graf-Stevenson
     The following game is interesting. I can't remember where I saw some rather cursory analysis by a Soviet GM (maybe Lilienthal), but going over the game with Stockfish and Komodo drew my attention to the fact that, as in many cases, the winning side did not administer a one-sided thumping that the notes often indicate. It may be that the annotator did see the possibilities for both sides in the position, but for political reasons did not mention them. After all, this game was played in the 1950s and features a Soviet player against Sonya Graf-Stevenson, an American.

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