Tuesday, October 8, 2013

World Championship 1948

Russell Enterprises was kind enough to send me a copy of this book to review and so I started reading through it this morning.

The book is written by former World Champion Max Euwe, who has long been someone who's games I've admired.  Not to mention that Euwe is probably the most instructional writer among world champions.  (Yes, yes...you can argue that Kasparov's books are better, but I think that Euwe's books were written for a much wider audience...)

I have always had a soft spot for this tournament since for the first time in history a governing body (FIDE) stepped in to ensure that there were world championship matches held on a regular basis.  To me this tournament was the stuff that legends were made of.

Just take a look at the participants... Mikhail Botivinnik, Sammy Reshevsky, Paul Keres, Vassily Smyslov, and Max Euwe.  Rueben Fine was also slated to participate, but dropped out to focus on his career of psychoanalysis. 

Played as a quintuple round robin (20 rounds!) that were split between The Hague and Moscow this is the event that culminated Botvinnik's ascent during the 30's to finally place him at the top of the chessic pyramid.  "First among equals" as he liked to say.  This is also the event that brought players such as Smyslov to the forefront of the international chess scene.

Round One featured Euwe - Keres (0-1) and Smyslov - Reshevsky (1/2-1/2) in two beautiful games.  Euwe had a good position against Keres, and then faltered before outright losing the thread of the position and with it the game (although while in extreme time pressure Keres does miss a simple knight fork which would have won Euwe's queen.) Meanwhile, Smyslov builds up a strong attack against Reshevsky before missing a thematic idea and allowing the game to peter out to a draw.

So far I am really enjoying this book and am looking forward to the review.  Look for it to be published here in the next couple of weeks.

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