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Subject: NOTTINGHAM 1936|
"Dearly beloved teacher and leader...I am infinitely happy to be able to report that a representative of Soviet chess has shared first in this tournament with ex-world champion Capablanca. Inspired by your great slogan, �catch up and surpass,� I am glad that I have been able to realize it."
-- Cable to Stalin from Botvinnik in England who claimed decades later that it was dictated for him by Moscow.
The Soviets thus achieved their first major international success at Nottingham 1936. The regime then subsidized players and poured vast resources into chess in order to showcase Communist culture. Russia still dominated the game by the end of the 20th century.
Nottingham was a landmark that ushered in a new generation and the changing of the guard. World champion Max Euwe, 35, headed an elite cast of 15 featuring three past and two future champions -- if we count the fact that Alekhine, 43, regained the title from Euwe and held it until he died. Botvinnik succeeded him in 1948.
Only 1� points separated the top eight. Botvinnik, 25, and Capa, 47, were a half point ahead of Euwe and two Americans: Fine, 21, and Reshevsky, 24. Alekhine was clear sixth. Flohr, 27, tied with Lasker, 68, the grand old man�s last tournament ever.
The slow time limit of 36 moves in two hours seems quaint today. First prize was 200 British pounds. The other 14 players shared 525 pounds based on their result. Here's how Andy Soltis describes the four players representing England who occupied the cellar in THE GREAT CHESS TOURNAMENTS AND THEIR STORIES:
"There was the athletic patrician, 55-year-old Sir George Thomas, whose mother had won the first international women's tournament at the first Hastings. Almost a direct opposite of Thomas was William Winter, a 38-year-old carelessly, almost slovenly dressed, nervous, chain-smoking, and exceptionally perceptive chess writer. Winter became a chessplayer after his doctor told him to give up politics. He had been an active Communist Party organizer and served six months in jail for sedition on one occasion. Also playing were Conel Hugh O'Donel (C.H.O.D.) Alexander, 27, and Sir Theodore Henry Tylor, 36. Alexander, an Irish mathematics professor and attacking genius, later served in several prominent posts in British Intelligence before dying in 1973. Tylor, a correspondence champion and university legal scholar, was the only blind player to represent his country in the international team championships."
In August 1936 PRAVDA proudly reported: "In the remotest corners of our land, in isolated villages, collective farms, in the hill settlements of Daghestan, in the hamlets of the Central Asian republics, there exist chess clubs...Seated at the chess table in Nottingham, Botvinnik could feel the entire country supporting him and wishing him success." Their hero was awarded the Mark of Honor when he returned to the USSR.
In round five Botvinnik pulled a rabbit out of the hat to achieve this sensational, sharp draw with Black. In the tournament book Alekhine later noted that 10 g4 "permits White to force a quick draw -- but no more." In 1961 Fischer tried to improve against Reshevsky by 13 Bf3!? gxf5 14 a3 fxg4 15 Bg2 which is unclear.
ALEXANDER ALEKHINE vs
Sicilian Defense 1936
1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 g6 6 Be2 Bg7 7 Be3 Nc6 8 Nb3 Be6 9 f4 0�0 10 g4 d5 11 f5 Bc8 12 exd5 Nb4 13 d6!? Qxd6 14 Bc5 Qf4! 15 Rf1 Qxh2 16 Bxb4 Nxg4! 17 Bxg4 Qg3 18 Rf2 Qg1 19 Rf1 Qg3 20 Rf2 Qg1