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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Euwe and Silly Blunders

     This one took place at Paignton in 1951.

Premier
1) Harry Golombek 6.5
2) Dr. Max Euwe 6.0
3) J.H. Donner 4.5
4-5) Leonard Barden and A.R.B. Thomas 3.0
6) Francis Kitto 2.5
7) R.M. Bruce 1.5
8) John B. Goodman 1.0

     Golombek's lone draw was against Donner. Euwe won all his games except against Golombek. Donner lost one game, to Euwe, and was held to draws by Golombek, Barden and Goodman.
     This was the very first Paignton congress which was to become a fixture in British chess. The venue was the Oldway Mansion which once belonged to the Singer family of sewing machine fame.
The Singers had a nice house

     IM Harry Golombek was assigned a rating of 2543, his highest ever, in 1951 by Chessmetrics ranking him 103rd in the world.  The 50-year old Euwe was assigned a rating of 2682 ranking him number 17 in the world.
    Euwe once said, “During my chess career, I have made quite a few oversights. In fact I have probably made more silly blunders than any other world champion.”
    While Euwe is often considered to be the weakest of the world champions, that implies that somehow he was lucky to win it, but that's not true. Euwe's great characteristic was logic and he believed in law and order on the board. His play was accurate and aggressive, but his attacks were different than, say, Tal's; Euwe's attacks were based on logic. But, as he admitted, his greatest weakness was a tendency to blunder.
     Writing in the tournament book of Nottingham, 1936 W H Watts wrote: Euwe is the essence of caution. To win the world's championship and to secure a place only half a point behind the winner on caution alone is impossible, there must be depth and imagination, but the outstanding impression to be gained from his games is caution and dogged perseverance.
     In his return match with Alekhine things went badly for Euwe after winning the first game; he ended up losing the match by five points. Various reasons have been put forward, but it's possible that one reason was that his second, Reuben Fine, fell ill with appendicitis and could not assist him.
    After this his teaching duties made it difficult for him to concentrate on tournaments and in the Dutch championship he could only play matches in the evening as he had teaching commitments through the day. Although received time off to play in other tournaments he had no time to prepare. 
    During the war he provided food for people through an underground charity organization. The after the war he won the London Tournament in 1946 and it looked like he might once again be a challenger for the world championship, but in in a few years it was clear that that was not going to be the case. The main reason was likely that chess took a back seat to his professional career.
    In 1954 Euwe became interested in data processing and was appointed as Professor of Cybernetics. In 1957 he visited the United States to study computer technology and while in the US he played two unofficial games against Bobby Fischer, winning one and drawing one.
     He was appointed director of The Netherlands Automatic Data Processing Research Centre in 1959. From 1961 to 1963, he was chairman of a committee set up by Euratom to examine the feasibility of programming computers to play chess. In 1964, he was appointed to a chair in an automatic information processing in Rotterdam University and later at Tilburg University from which he retired in 1971.
    From 1970 to 1978 Euwe was president of FIDE. While in that position he acted with great tact and skill as arbitrator of the Fischer - Spassky World Championship match. Euwe made huge efforts to ensure that the Fischer-Karpov match was played, but thanks to Fischer's obstinacy, his efforts failed.
     In the following game against Golombek, Euwe held a significant advantage until move 30 when he made a gross oversight and ended up losing.

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