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Thursday, July 20, 2017

The USA vs Yugoslavia (Mystery) Radio Match of 1950

     The Yugoslav team defeated the US team in radio match that took place from February 11th-14th in 1950. That much is known for certain. 
     When I started looking for details on this match I found almost none. Apparently nobody wanted to talk about it. 
    In The Art of Bisguier, he sums up the highlights of each year and for 1950 he mentions that he won the US Open, tied for first with Tartakower at Southsea and that he was awarded the IM title that year. He also gave his win over Ivkov from the match, but makes no mention of the match itself.
     I found a New York Times snippet dated February 15, 1950 that read, “Defeated in the second round by the score of 4-3, after losing the first by 5-4, the United States team surrendered to Yugoslavia yesterday at six o'clock when their radio chess play ceased at this end, following four daily sessions at the Chanin Building,” 
     Another blurb stated that Denker defeated Rabar and Pinkus forfeited a game. Clearly, the game points given by the Times are incorrect as the scores don't add up. I also found a Sam Sloan reference in which he stated Yugoslavia won the match by 11.5-8.5. Sloan's score matches a January, 2016 article by Alexey Root in the University of Texas Dallas magazine Chess in which she mentions that Yugoslavia defeated the US by a score of 11.5-8.5. 
     I was unable to find any other details on this match, but did find the games in the OlympBase database then ran into a problem. The database shows the following:

11th-14th February, radio match: Yugoslavia-USA 11½-8½ (5½-4½, 6-4) 
Gligoric ½-½ Reshevsky ½-½ 
Pirc ½-½ Fine ½-½ 
Trifunovic ½-½ Horowitz ½-½ 
Rabar ½-0 Denker ½-1 
Vidmar jr 1-1 Ulvestad 0-0 
Puc ½-1 Dake ½-0 
Milic ½-½ Kevitz ½-½ 
Kostic ½-½ R.Byrne ½-½ 
Matanovic 1-1 Pinkus 0-0 
Ivkov 0-½ Bisguier 1-½ 

     According to the table Denker drew one and won one from Rabar and Pinkus lost two games to Matanovic. But, when I downloaded the games there were only 19 games in the database, not 20. According to the above table the round scores are: 
Rd.1 Yugoslavia 5½ US 4½ 
Rd.2 Yugoslavia 6 US 4 
     This agrees with the 11.5 points for Yugoslavia as given by Sloan and Root. In the games database there are two Matanovic vs. Pinkus games, both won by Matanovic, so the forfeit mentioned by the Times was undoubtedly a loss on time as their second game went 56 moves and at the end of the game Pinkus was dead lost. However, the database has only one game between Rabar and Denker and it was won by Rabar, not drawn as the table shows.
     Where is the missing game against Rabar that Denker won? If Rabar won the first game and Denker won the second, then the above table is wrong and the actual score of the match would be: 
Rd.1 Yugoslavia 6.0 US 4.0 
Rd.2 Yugoslavia 6.0 US 4.0 
     So Yugoslavia actually won by a score 12.0 – 8.0. 

     Probably the most interesting game was Matanovic's quick first round win over Pinkus who appears to have blundered when he resigned in a position where he still had plenty of play.

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