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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

1950 US vs. Yugoslavia Radio Match

Yugoslav Master B. Rabar
I am revisiting this match because I posted on it back in July, but have deleted that post because there was some confusion over the game scores and results, but I think I have everything cleared up now, having found some additional information.

     After World War II radio matches were popular because they provided a relatively inexpensive method of arranging long-distance competition at a time when many countries were still recovering economically and travel was expensive and restricted. There had been the famous USSR - USA match in 1945 and 1946 saw matches USSR vs Great Britain and Australia vs France. In 1947 there was Australia vs Canada and in 1949 Argentina clashed with Spain.
     One long forgotten match was held in 1950 when Yugoslavia defeated the United States. As usual the match was played using teletype machines and short wave radio transmission between New York and Belgrade.  The match took place between Saturday, February 11th and Tuesday, February 14th. Moves were transmitted using the Uedemann code. The code was invented by Chicago player Louis Uedemann (1854–1912). His name is often misspelled as “Udemann.” He developed a code that was later refined by D. A. Gringmuth, of St. Petersburg, a leading Russian problem composer, and adapted for use with telegraphs for cable matches. Gringmuth's notation was first used in the telegraphic match between London and St Petersburg in November 1886.
     The time control was 50 moves per 2 hours, but the mechanics of transmission caused delays which slowed the progress of the match. The Radio Corporation of America, a leading manufacturer and supplier of radio components in the US, provided the American radio transmission equipment. Hans Kmoch was the match referee and the American team played in an office in The Chanin Building in Manhattan. The Yugoslav team played out of the Kolarech University Hall in Belgrade. The Yugoslav's held a grand opening ceremony complete with with the Belgrade Radio Symphony Orchestra serenading a hall packed with dignitaries including the US Ambassador and veteran GM Milan Vidmar, who served as the American representative.
     In Europe the Yugoslavs were generally considered second only to the Soviets. In post-war international matches they defeated the Swiss team, the Austrians, the Dutch, the Hungarians and the Czechs. They were enthusiastic about meeting the American team because it would be the first meeting since the end of the war.
     The match was important politically for the Yugoslavs for reasons of national prestige and as a representative of Socialist culture. Of their top players only 18-year old Andrija Fuderer, who shared 4th in the Yugoslav championship, was not on the team while the 16-year old Ivkov was. 
    The Yugoslav team was lead by Svetozar Gligoric, Yugoslavia's 1949 champion who was regarded as one of the strongest players in Europe. In 1947 he had defeated Vassily Smyslov at Warsaw and drawn with Isaac Boleslavsky, two of the ranking Soviet masters and in 1949 he had defeated Gideon Stahlberg in a twelve-game match. At the time Glogoric was journalist on the staff of Borba, the official newspaper of the Yugoslav Communist party. Second board was Vasya Pirc, a Professor of Modern Languages.  At board 3 was Petar Trifunovich a journalist and Yugoslavia's champion in 1945, 1946 and he had tied for first place with Gligoric in 1947.
     The other Yugoslav players were journalist Braslov Rabar, Milan Vidmar, an engineer and a son of the famous Yugoslav player of the same name, Stojan Puc, a clerk, Bora Milic, student, Bora Kostich, who at the age of 63 was the oldest member of the team.  The team was rounded out by Alexander Matanovich, a student and Boraslav Ivkov, a 16-year-old high school student.
     The American team had problems before the match even started.  It lost Kashdan who was to play third board when a week before the match was to begin he was hospitalized with a perforated ulcer. His place was taken by Bisguier. The U.S. team also lost Herman Steiner the day before the match. Steiner had agreed to play then refused because he was in a snit over not being assigned Board 1. He did have a nebulous claim to Board 1 because he was the reigning U.S. champion, having won the Championship at South Fallsburg, New York in 1948. Although he finished ahead of Kashdan, the only Grandmaster playing, it was in a relatively weak field. Steiner was awarded his IM title in 1950 and went on to captain the U.S. Olympic team at Dubrovnik later that year. Olaf Ulvestad was brought in as a last minute replacement rushing to New York from Cleveland. Unfortunately, he was rusty, having played little competitive chess in the previous year.
    Not that it would have made any difference in the outcome of the match but the U.S. cause wasn't helped by the result of the second Matanovic - Pinkus game.  Pinkus had lost a difficult N and P ending in the first game and in the second game the following position was reached after Matanovic's 24.Qh4:

By playing 24...Rh8 the position would have offered both sides chances. According to headline from a New York Times article Pinkus forfeited, so I assume that he must have lost on time.  Still, with a time limit of 50 moves in two hours it's hard to believe that he was in time pressure because the position is not all that complicated.

     First brilliancy prize was awarded to Denker for his win over Rabar. Playing over the game failed to disclose any  tactical brilliancy though Denker did score a fine positional win. Denker is well known, but few will know much about his opponent even though we see his contribution to chess almost every time we see a published game.
     IM Braslav Rabar (September 27, 1919 – December 6, 1973) was Yugoslav champion in 1951 and in 1953 he tied for first but lost the playoff match. He played for Yugoslavia in three chess Olympiads (1950, 1952, 1954), winning a total of five medals. Rabar was a co-inventor of the classification systems for the Chess Informant publications and he was one of the editors of the monthly chess magazine Sahovski Glasnik.
     Much more interesting was Bisguier's win over Ivkov which was awarded the second brilliancy prize although it was also a positional crush, not a tactical brilliancy.   Bisguier wrote that he took great pleasure in winning this game because Ivkov had a reputation of being a fine positional player.  Even though he was only 16-years old, Ivkov had earned his National Master title the year before by sharing 4th–7th places in the Yugoslav Championship and at Bled in 1950, which featured some of the best players in the world, he shared 5th–6th places. In 1951 he won the first World Junior Championship.

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