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Thursday, May 3, 2018

Letelier Smashes Najdorf at Montevideo 1954

Letelier seated on the left
     Montevideo is the capital and largest city of Uruguay with a population today of over 1.3 million which comprises about one-third of the country's total population. It's also the southernmost capital city in the Americas. 
     In December of 1954, the Montevideo Resolution was passed by the General Conference of UNESCO. The resolution officially supported the constructed language Esperanto as an international auxiliary language and recommended that the Director-General of UNESCO was to follow developments in the use of the language. 
     Esperanto is an international language created in 1887 by Dr. L. L. Zamenhof, a Polish-Jewish ophthalmologist, to be a second language that would allow people who speak different native languages to communicate, yet at the same time to retain their own languages and cultural identities. Though it is not recognized as an official language by any country, according to Ethnologue, Esperanto is spoken by some 2 million people as a second language in 115 countries, most of them in Central and Eastern Europe, East Asia, and South America. 
Letelier in later years
     As for chess, Montevideo has long been the site of many tournaments. The eighth South American Chess Championship (Torneo Sudamericano) took place in Montevideo from the 7th to 2the 5th of March in 1938. The event was held in an elegant seaside resort Carrasco, one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Montevideo. The winner was Alekhine who scored +11 -0 =4 to finish ahead of Carlos Guimard who scored 11.5 points. 
     There was also a strong tournament in 1941 when Erich Eliskases finished ahead of Marcos Lukis followed by Ludwig Engles and Hector Rossetto. But it was the 1954 UNESCO tournament, played in November, that was probably the most famous, but not so much for its strength as for Miguel Najdorf's famous comments concerning Dr. Ossip Bernstein
     Upon seeing the 72-year old Bernstein, Najdorf asked how he could have been invited stating, "That man is far too old to play chess!" Upon learning Bernstein's age, "You see!" shouted Najdorf, "Almost dead!" Of course, in their individual encounter Bernstein soundly defeated Najdorf in what was to become a famous game and tied with Najdorf for second place. Reinfeld included the game in his book, Great Brilliancy Prize Games of the Chess Masters
El Grande

     Lost in the hoopla over the Bernstein vs, Najdirf game was Letelier's exciting win over Najdorf in a game that would have done Mikhail Tahl proud.  Neither players' play was perfect...thankfully!

1) Rene Letelier 14.5  
2-3) Ossip Bernstein and Miguel Najdorf 14.0 
4) Roman Toran 13.5 
5-6) Octavio Trompowsky and Flavio De Carvalho 11.0 
7) Julio Salas 8.5 
8-10) Beng Horbergm Ronaldo Cantero and Walter Estrada 8.0 
11) H. Corral 7.0 
12) Juan Olivera 6.5 
13) Rodolfo Kalkstein and J. Salomom 6.0 
14) Jose Alvarez del Monte 4.0 
15) J. Munoz 3.5 
16) R. Linskens 2.0 

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