Commonwealth Tournament 1951

Historical knowledge and information regarding our great game.
Paul McKeown
Posts: 3321
Joined: Thu Apr 12, 2007 3:01 pm
Location: Hayes (Middx)
Contact:

Commonwealth Tournament 1951

Post by Paul McKeown » Wed Jan 07, 2009 9:28 pm

A small tournament took place at Oxford in late 1951:

October 29 – November 3 1951
"Commonwealth Tournament" — Oxford

Code: Select all

                                               F	Y	W	B	B	H	Total
1   William A Fairhurst  IM    Scotland        x	½	1	½	1	1	4
2   D Abraham Yanofsky   IM    Canada          ½	x	½	½	1	½	3
3   Robert G Wade        IM    New Zealand     0	½	x	½	½	1	2½
4-5 Leonard W Barden           England         ½	½	½	x	½	0	2
4-5 Grant Berriman             Australia       0	0	½	½	x	1	2
6   Wolfgang Heidenfeld        South Africa    0	½	0	1	0	x	1½
It was held at the Massey Room, Balliol College; the organiser was DJ Youston.

It was preceded by a match between the two leading players of South Africa and New Zealand:

15 - 26(?) September 1951
"Commonwealth Match" — London and Paignton
Heidenfeld vs. Wade

Code: Select all

			                         1	2	3	4	5	6	7	8	Score
Wolfgang Heidenfeld	S. Africa	½	½	1	1	0	½	½	½	4½
Robert G Wade 	IM	N. Zealand  ½	½	0	0	1	½	½	½	3½
Heidenfeld had White in the first game. The first game of the match was played at the RAC club in London, alongside the England – Scotland team match, whilst subsequent rounds were played alongside the Paignton Congress (which was won by Golombek ahead of Euwe) in the Ballroom of the Oldway Mansion.

Interesting enough tournament and match, you might say, but so what?

Well I'll post the interesting stuff in some subsequent posts.
And ask if there is anyone who can fill in the details...
and naturally, I guess, I should ask if anyone can contact Leonard Barden, who is the last survivor of the tournament, unless Berriman is alive.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves.
Last edited by Paul McKeown on Thu Jan 08, 2009 10:01 pm, edited 11 times in total.

John Upham
Posts: 4412
Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2007 10:29 am
Location: Cove, Hampshire, England.
Contact:

Re: Commonwealth Tournament 1951

Post by John Upham » Wed Jan 07, 2009 9:35 pm

Paul,

Can I suggest that you enrol for the ChessParrot forum http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/chessparrot/
as they may be able to help. YHM is James Pratt who is a big expert on UK chess history.

Hope this helps!
British Chess News : britishchessnews.com
Twitter: @BritishChess
Facebook: facebook.com/groups/britishchess :D

Paul McKeown
Posts: 3321
Joined: Thu Apr 12, 2007 3:01 pm
Location: Hayes (Middx)
Contact:

Re: Commonwealth Tournament 1951

Post by Paul McKeown » Thu Jan 08, 2009 4:32 pm

What is interesting about this tournament is the attitude that the BCF took towards the tournament at the time. The BCF seemed at first to be interested in the idea of an Commonwealth Championship, but then when it came to the logistics later seemed to wish to have as little to do with the tournament as possible. If Hugh Alexander or Harry Golombek couldn't play, then they weren't interested; the tournament certainly couldn't have the status of an official commonwealth championship without such players.

But that is only my, perhaps misanthropic, view looking backwards through the lens of time. I would like to hear what other people, perhaps with long memories, have of the event.

But let's start at the beginning.

Bob Wade and Abe Yanofsky met in England in 1946; Bob had just played in the British championship at Nottingham, whilst Yanofsky had just played at the famous, fabulous Groningen tournament (the BCF had refused to reschedule its championship to allow a British contender play at Groningen, perhaps rightly, perhaps wrongly). They became friends - and indeed they played together in the magnificent Barcelona tournament and then Bob travelled home to New Zealand in 1946-47 through Iceland, Canada and the United States in Yanofsky's company. A few years later they would, sadly, fall out over whether Canada should have its own playing zone for qualifying for the World Championship and whether or not Bohatyrchuk was worthy of the IM title - but that is, again, another story.

Together in London in 1946, though, they dreamed up the fine idea of an Imperial Championship, which they discussed with Harold Meek, secretary of the BCF. Originally it was anticipated that the tournament would take place in Canada. Dudley Le Dain, the Canadian correspondent for Chess, wrote the following:
DM LeDAIN, Chess, Vol. 13 No. 146, Nov. 1947, p. 39 wrote:To further strengthen the ties of chess within the Commonwealth, Canada is giving consideration to the suggestion of the British Chess Federation that she undertake the arrangements for the organization of a triennial Commonwealth Championship next summer. The plan is, that each member pay the travelling expenses of their champion, while the country acting as host would provide accommodation for the players and prizes, She would be allowed two entries in a double round event.
It soon became clear, though that Canada would not be able to organise the tournament. A short item under news from the BCF was that:
Chess, Vol. 13 No. 153, June 1948, p. 211 wrote:R. G. Wade wrote mooting an Empire Championship with a prize fund of £100, and an offer of half of the competitor's tourist fares both ways.
Bob gave more detail in the inaugural edition of New Zealand ChessPlayer:
Bob Wade from his article, The Shape of Things to Come, New Zealand ChessPlayer, Vol. 1 No. 3 Autumn 1948, p. 7 wrote:BRITISH COMMONWEALTH CHAMPIONSHIP

When Yanofsky and Wade were in England in 1946, they had a conference with the secretary of the British Chess Federation, Mr. Harold Meek, about organising a Commonwealth Championship. It was generally agreed that cultural relations between Commonwealth countries was an advantage and bringing leading British players together would stimulate Anglo-Saxon chess.

Provisional proposals were: (1) Each Commonwealth country with a recognised national organisation to be eligible to nominate a representative. (2) It is important to secure the best possible representative from each country. (3) Each country to pay travelling expenses; the holding country to provide hospitality and arrange engagements for visiting players. (4) The holding country to have the right to two entries, minimum entry four with a double round of play. (5) The first contest to be held in Canada in 1948 and then at intervals of three to five years. As nothing came of this the N.Z.C.A. has now come forward with a proposal to hold the inaugural contest in New Zealand in July, 1949.
Bob's diary from the time recorded some interesting tidbits:
Bob Wade, Diary, 1948 wrote: Feb. 15: Wrote Du Mont, Editor BCM
Outlining confidentially scheme for commonwealth scheme
Feb. 23:
Wrote C.J.S. Purdy outlining idea for Commonwealth championship
Wrote to N.Z. Sports Council ... for grant of £125 towards a Commonwealth Championship
Bob left New Zealand later in 1948, not to return until the Queenstown Tournament of 2006, but in the early years he kept in touch with the NZCA. Meanwhile the NZCA continued trying to organise the tournament:
NZCP, Vol. 1 No. 4 Winter 1948, p. 3 wrote:N.Z. Association

At a meeting of the new management committee it was decided to offer Canterbury the privilege of holding the British Empire Championship as well as the New Zealand Championship during their centennial celebrations. Canterbury has already obtained authority and issued tickets for a large art union for the Centennial Year chess championship. Australia has promised to nominate two players and D. A. Yanofsky will come from Canada. Great Britain will be represented and invitations will be sent to South Africa and India. There will be opportunities for visiting masters to visit clubs of so desired. In the event of Canterbury falling in with these plans, the N.Z.C.A. will assist.
The BCM reported that the tournament would take place:
BCM Vol. LXIX No. 7 July 1949, p. 212 wrote:New Zealand.—A British Empire championship, originally due to take place at Christchurch in July, 1950, has been put off till Easter, 1951. It is hoped that amongst those playing will be Heidenfeld (South Africa) and Yanofsky from Canada.
As did Chess:
Chess, Vol. 14 No. 166/7/8, July/Aug./Sept 1949, p. 229 wrote:Possible competitors in the first British Empire Championship, now planned for Easter 1951 at Wellington, include Golombek (Britain), Wade (New Zealand), Heidenfeld (South Africa) and Yanofsky (Canada).
Sadly, however, it all fell through:
NZCP, Vol. 3 No. 15 August 1950, p. 62 wrote:EMPIRE CHAMPIONSHIP POSTPONED

Because no British representative can come to New Zealand early next year, the British Commonwealth Chess Championship, scheduled for next April–May, has been postponed. This action was decided on at the annual meeting of the New Zealand Chess Association when advice was received from England that all the leading British players would be taking part at the Staunton Memorial Tourney at the time. This tourney was expected to be one of the major events of English chess, marking the centennial of the London Congress 1850—the first international chess tournament ever held. The New Zealand Chess Association has written to England to find out whether October, 1951, or Easter, 1952, will be suitable dates for the Commonwealth tourney.
Bob wrote a letter to BH Wood, which Wood published in Chess:
Chess, Vol. 16. No. 182, November 1950, p. 31 wrote:Dear Mr. Wood,
The British Commonwealth Championship tournament scheduled for March-April 1951 in New Zealand has been postponed because no representative from Great Britain could be available. No other reason. The time of his return voyage would conflict with the Centennial International Tournament*.
The British Chess Federation has been asked whether they could send a player for either October 1951 or Easter 1952.

Naturally, an event like this would not be representative without a player from Great Britain, the country with the most experienced players and one of the countries originally suggesting the holding of a Commonwealth Championship. As Canada, Australia and South Africa have promised players, it is to be hoped that Great Britain will not achieve less.

(Signed) ROBERT G. WADE
London, October, 28th, 1950.
*The Centennial International Tournament was the Staunton Memorial Tournament of 1951.
BCM Vol. LXX No. 11 Nov. 1950, p. 365 wrote: New Zealand.–The British Commonwealth Championship Tournament that had originally been planned for April and May of next year has been postponed to avoid clashing with the Centenary Tournament and in order to enable an English player to complete. The New Zealand Chess Association has written to the B.C.F. to find out whether October, 1951, or Easter, 1952, would be suitable dates.
By 1951, prospects for a Commonwealth Championship started to look bleak:
NZCP, Vol. 4 No. 19 April 1951, p. 31 wrote:Dim Outlook For The Empire Championship

The British Chess Federation will not be able to name a date suitable for them for the holding of a British Commonwealth Championship within the next two years, according to advice received by the New Zealand Chess Association Council. The B.C.F. letter explained that other commitments and the general unsettled position today had forced this decision. The N.Z.C.A.'s special Commonwealth tourney sub-committee recommended that the B.C.F. be advised that New Zealand was still willing to sponsor the tournament if they were willing to send an entrant, providing that at least 12 months notice is given. The chairman, W. M. Haycraft, explained that it was considered that the tournament would not be fully successful unless a British representative took part. Decision on the report was deferred until the next meeting, with other Commonwealth federations to be informed of the postponement recommendation.
But then Wolfgang Heidenfeld had a bright idea:
Chess, Vol. 16 No. 190, July 1951, p. 214 wrote:WHO’LL STAGE AN EMPIRE TOURNEY?

As W. Heidenfeld (South African Champion), R. G. Wade (New Zealand Champion when he’s at home) and Abe Yanofsky (Canadian Champion), not to mention P. Aherne, Singapore Champion, will all be in England in September, Mr. Heidenfeld suggests it might be a bright idea to organise an Empire Tournament here then. What about it?
A few months later, Chess carried news of the Heidenfeld - Wade match:
Chess, Vol. 17 No. 193, Oct. 1951, p. 2 wrote:We give two Heidenfeld-Wade games in this issue with the player's notes. Play in this match (sponsored by the South African Chess Federation, the Devon C.A. and CHESS), was bright but a bit wild. A "Commonwealth" tournament is now mooted, with Wade, Heidenfled, Yanofsky of Canada (now in Oxford for studies), Klein, possibly Fairhurst, Sturm from Trinidad, etc.
Then in November, Chess reported the bald facts of the tournament:
Chess, Vol. 17 No. 194, Nov. 1951, p. 24 wrote:INFORMAL COMMONWEALTH CHAMPIONSHIP

The presence of Dave Yanofsky*, W. Heidenfeld and R. G. Wade (the best players of Canada, South Africa and New Zealand respectively) in England at the same time, was too good an opportunity to miss. The B.C.F. put up £50, the Master of Balliol College, Oxoford, offered hospitality and the tournament was duly held, October 29th to November 2nd. Australia, on the starting-date, cabled official nomination of young G. Berriman. The West Indian Chess Federation would have sent a player but were unable to book him an air passage. [tournament cross-table]
*Yanofsky was David Abraham Yanofsky. He generally called himself Abe.

Leonard Barden then told the full story in next edition of Chess:
Chess, Vol. 17 No. 195, Dec. 1951, pp. 46-47 wrote:Oxford holds first Commonwealth Tournament
by L. W. Barden


After a long series of organisational difficulties and with a list of competitors that was not finally known until the very day it began, the first Commonwealth tournament ever held took place at Oxford, in the Massey Room, Balliol College, from October 29th to November 3rd. The tournament was made possible by the financial support of the B.C.F., as the notice was too short for the normal local subscription list to be opened. Originally it had been hoped that competitors would come from Ireland and the West Indies, but the former just did not materialise, while Sturm of Trinidad could not get an air passage. The B.C.F. Executive considered that the tournament was not sufficiently representative to be dignified with the name of "Commonwealth Championship." Wade of New Zealand, Yanofsky of Canada, Heidenfeld of South Africa, and Fairhurst of Scotland were all recognised by their respective federations as fully representative of the strength of these countries. The leading B.C.F. players were not available, and the English representative was Barden, who was fifth in this year's championship. It was the unanimous view of the contestants at Oxford that in view of the geographical distances involved a Commonwealth championship wherever held would be most unlikely to get a better entry. From this point of view and from the most important one of publicity, the organisers believed that they took the correct decision in describing the tournament to press representatives as the "Commonwealth Championship". Whatever attitude is held on this matter, it was surely illogical, as the B.C.F. Executive did, on the one hand to call the tournament an informal one, and on the other not to inform Berriman of Australia (who was in this country as Australia's representative in the World Junior Championship) about the tournament; and still more so not to allow him to enter until he had spent several pounds in urgent cables to Australia asking that he should be recognised as the official representative—recognition which finally arrived five hours before the start of the tournament. In the event, the 19-year old Australian fully justified his inclusion by his tremendous fighting spirit and by his good win from Heidenfeld, and England may find itself in the anomalous position of being the only major Commonwealth country not to recognise the tournament as a championship.

In a short tournament of only six players there is a danger that luck may play a great part in deciding the winner, but there was no doubt that in this case Fairhurst played much the best chess of any competitor, showing his fine strategical strength in games with Wade and Berriman, and tactical resourcefulness when in difficulties against Heidenfeld. At the age of 48 he is playing as well as he did when winning the British Championship in 1937. Yanofsky, the pre-tournament favourite, failed to win because he treated all of his opponents like grandmasters—that is to say, he was constantly trying to exploit minute advantages in the endgame instead of going for middle-game complications. Wade was suffering from the same complaint—he more than once got an opening advantage and then failed to realise it by playing too positionally. This is an attitude of mind very difficult to escape when a loss practically finished your chances of winning the tournament. Heidenfeld, although bottom, played far better than his score suggests and was the unlucky player of the tournament. In the first round, by excellent position play, he had, in the diagrammed position [Wade- Heidenfeld: 6K1/1P4P1/5B1P/Q4P1B/P2P1p1p/3p2p1/pp3q2/2n1n1k1; 40, B], established a clear advantage against Wade. He had one move to make before the time control, with over five minutes to spare on his clock. But he had taken his score down wrongly, thought he had made the required number of moves, and sat thinking till his flag fell!

[... description of Yanofsky - Fairhurst ...]

The tournament was opened by Sir Robert Robinson, President of the B.C.F.; and the Master of Balliol (Sir David Lindsay Keir) and the Mayor of Oxford made ceremonial first moves. Sir David and Lady Keir were also present at the final ceremony and the former pointed out how apt it was that Fairhurst, a Northcountryman turned Scot, should win the tournament at Balliol, founded by John of Balliol, also a Northcountryman turned Scot! Mention of the tournament would not be complete without reference to the work put in by the members of the Oxford University Chess Club, who sacrificed lectures and tutorials to act as amateur tournament directors; particularly D. J. Youston, who was responsible for much of the preliminary organisation and the splendid coverage given by the international, national and local reporting agencies and newspapers. The Stop Press news in the "Oxford Mail" on the last day of the tournament was headed:"Fairhurst wins Chess Test""
Final scores: Fairhurst 4, Yanofsky 3, Wade 2½; Barden and Berriman 2; Heidenfeld 1½.
BH Wood appended his thoughts on the matter:
BH Wood wrote:We imagine the New Zealand Chess Association would have a few things to say, had the event been declared an official Commonwealth Championship. They raised £500 for exactly such an event but have been unable to find representative players able to spare three motnths or so for the round trip to New Zealand and back.

The British Chess Federation, which virtually means C. H. Alexander these days, made it clear: the event was not official. It was certainly sublimely inconsistent for them to cable the Australian Chess Federation saying they would allow Berriman to play only if officially sponsored—Ed.
A couple of nice photos were included with Barden's article, which I hope to attach to this posting, otherwise I will mail them to Carl to include.

Bob explained some of the background later:
NZCP, Vol. 5 No. 25 April 1952 p.53 wrote:COMMONWEALTH INFORMAL TOURNEY

R. G. Wade, writing from London, says that the Commonwealth tourney recently played in England would never have been made an official tourney without full blessing from all bodies concerned. The style of the tourney gave rise to some unfavourable criticism. "The important thing", writes Wade, "is that a further stage in Commonwealth chess relations is intended and I hope achieved. It is still to be hoped that an official Commonwealth event will be staged in New Zealand."
New Zealand continued for another three years trying to organise a Commonwealth Championship, but eventually gave up. Everyone seemed to want it to happen, all except for the BCF that is:
Glasgow Herald, Friday Jan 23, 1953 wrote:In the British Commowealth championship to be held in New Zealand, probably in October, Mr. W. A. Fairhurst will compete as joint representative of the British Federation and the Scottish Association.
DM Le Dain, Montreal, in a letter to the NZCP, pub. Vol. 6 No. 37 October 1953, p. 134 wrote:The greatest enthusiasm for a Commonwealth programme has, naturally enough, developed in the more isolated units, and most of the initiative and publicity had so far come from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Canada, having close ties with the United States of America, and being not too remote from European centres, has nevertheless given hearty support, and stands ready to do more.
Great Britain, whose participation and keen co-operation are vital, has shown only lukewarm interest up to date. Britain has participated in some events, but has not taken the lead as anticipated, as the largest and strongest playing Commonwealth unit, in fully developing the programme and helping to set up real competitions on a continuing and expanding basis of regularly scheduled events, such as has been established in the programme of the International Chess Federation (F.I.D.E.). It appears at this stage that the initiative in laying a solid foundation will have to come from the overseas Commonwealth units, working closely together.
NZCP, Vol. 6 No. 31 April 1953 p. 34 wrote:British Empire Title Tournament Situation is Clearing

After nearly four years, during which it proved impossible to get the British Commonwealth Individual Chess Championship tourney under way, it now seems the tourney is certain to be held in New Zealand in 1954. This is stated in the New Zealand Chess Association Bulletin No. 41, dated February 23, 1953.

The N.Z.C.A. sub-committee handling the matter consists of J. D. Steele, J. L. Hardy and J. M. Shurely. This sub-committee has reported a "general desire" on the part of British Commonwealth countries that the Empire tourney should be held. Previously the difficulties in getting the tourney organised came from outside of New Zealand rather than from within.

Total expenses for the undertaking are given as not less than £1060. This is made up of half cost of steamer travel for one representative each from the United Kingdom, Canada, South Africa and Australia; prizes, hotel expenses, travelling expenses in New Zealand, and sundries. Considering the travelling distances involved, this is not unreasonable. The Association has £460 in hand, which includes the £350 granted by the Government to the fund in 1949. How many New Zealanders are to compete is not stated. This would no doubt depend on the number of visiting players. Raising not less than £600 may make our organisation creak a bit, but it can be done, This sum is said in Bulletin no. 41 to be the equivalent of ten shillings per active member of all clubs affiliated to the Association.
NZCP Vol. 6 No. 36 Sept. 1953, p. 114 wrote:BRITISH COMMONWEALTH CHESS CHAMPIONSHIP

The Council of the New Zealand Chess Association has asked each of its affiliates to forward to the secretary before the next quarterly meeting of the Council their reaction to the British Commowealth Individual Chess Championship tourney being dropped due to financial difficulties. The British Chess Federation has informed the Association that it could not nominate a representative for 1954, but would consider doing so should the event be put off until 1955.

Finally even the NZCA had to give up:
NZCP, Vol. 6 No. 38, Nov. 1953, p. 147 wrote:Big Tournament Off For Good
The New Zealand Chess Association announces with regret that owing to insurmountable difficulties it has been forced to abandon the idea of running the British Commonwealth Individual Chess Championship.
There are a few more quotes from the BCM, which I will have to dig out. There are also some quotes from Canadian Chess Chat which I have laid up somewhere and will have to sniff out too.

I have some questions about this affair for readers, but in another post!

User avatar
Carl Hibbard
Posts: 5778
Joined: Fri Dec 08, 2006 8:05 pm
Location: Evesham

Re: Commonwealth Tournament 1951

Post by Carl Hibbard » Thu Jan 08, 2009 6:02 pm

From Paul...
commonwealth tournament 1951[Chess , Vol. 17 No. 195, Dec. 1951, p. 47].gif
commonwealth tournament 1951[Chess , Vol. 17 No. 195, Dec. 1951, p. 47].gif (220.63 KiB) Viewed 4987 times
Cheers
Carl Hibbard

User avatar
Carl Hibbard
Posts: 5778
Joined: Fri Dec 08, 2006 8:05 pm
Location: Evesham

Re: Commonwealth Tournament 1951

Post by Carl Hibbard » Thu Jan 08, 2009 6:03 pm

From Paul...
Ceremoinal first move - Commonwealth Tournament[Chess, Vol. 17 No. 195, Dec.1951, p. 46].gif
Ceremoinal first move - Commonwealth Tournament[Chess, Vol. 17 No. 195, Dec.1951, p. 46].gif (127.93 KiB) Viewed 4979 times
Cheers
Carl Hibbard

Richard James
Posts: 966
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2007 7:34 pm
Location: Twickenham
Contact:

Re: Commonwealth Tournament 1951

Post by Richard James » Thu Jan 08, 2009 6:04 pm

Paul McKeown wrote: *Yanofsky was David Abraham Yanofsky. He generally called himself Abe.
According to Gaige, Hooper & Whyld, Golombek etc. he was Daniel Abraham Yanofsky. No idea where BHW got Dave from.

I looked up Chess the Hard Way! but that only gives D.A. Yanofsky. I note that he acknowledges the collaboration of R.G. Wade of New Zealand in the writing of this book. Any idea, Paul, as to the extent of RGW's contribution? The book doesn't seem to mention the Commonwealth Tournament at all.

Paul McKeown
Posts: 3321
Joined: Thu Apr 12, 2007 3:01 pm
Location: Hayes (Middx)
Contact:

Re: Commonwealth Tournament 1951

Post by Paul McKeown » Thu Jan 08, 2009 6:10 pm

Richard,
Yes sorry, Daniel Abraham Yanofsky!
But "Dave" is what BHW seems to have given him.

But you have "Chess the Hard Way!" - fantabulastic! I really need to read that. I know Bob put in a lot of effort in Canada in 1947 to help Yanofsky with the book. Is there any further mention of Bob in the book, e.g. Barcelona 1946, Reykjavik 1947, Canadian Championships 1947, US Open 1947, US Southwestern championships 1947? Or their journeys together round the globe, their exhibitions, etc.?

Regards,
Paul.

User avatar
JustinHorton
Posts: 6918
Joined: Mon Aug 04, 2008 10:06 am
Location: Somewhere you're not

Re: Commonwealth Tournament 1951

Post by JustinHorton » Thu Jan 08, 2009 7:12 pm

Is it usual for the ceremonial first move to be made for Black?
"Do you play chess?"
"Yes, but I prefer a game with a better chance of cheating."

lostontime.blogspot.com

Richard James
Posts: 966
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2007 7:34 pm
Location: Twickenham
Contact:

Re: Commonwealth Tournament 1951

Post by Richard James » Thu Jan 08, 2009 7:26 pm

Paul McKeown wrote:Richard,
Yes sorry, Daniel Abraham Yanofsky!
But "Dave" is what BHW seems to have given him.

But you have "Chess the Hard Way!" - fantabulastic! I really need to read that. I know Bob put in a lot of effort in Canada in 1947 to help Yanofsky with the book. Is there any further mention of Bob in the book, e.g. Barcelona 1946, Reykjavik 1947, Canadian Championships 1947, US Open 1947, US Southwestern championships 1947? Or their journeys together round the globe, their exhibitions, etc.?

Regards,
Paul.
A few things:

From the chapter on Barcelona 1946:

"Wade and I sent to see a Spanish produced movie one evening after the tournament was over, and although it was in Spanish, it gave us an insight into the lives of the people. The movie depicted one of the great modern love stories of Spain and what attracted our attention most, was that the woman of this great romance put in only the briefest of appearances and said scarcely a word."

From the chapter on Reykjavik 1947:

"I found that small towns of two thousand people would have strong chess clubs of fifty to sixty members. Reykjavik is dependant on taxis for transport and the taxi drivers have their own chess club. One evening there was a general complaint that no taxis were available in town. Reason: Wade was giving an exhibition at the taxi drivers' club!"

Wade-Yanofsky (Stevenson Memorial, Southsea 1952) is the penultimate game in the book.

"One of the early contenders for the lead was R.G. Wade, the New Zealand master and 1952 British Champion, and when we met in the sixth round a lively battle, full of excitement, ensued. This is how I knocked him out of the lead."
Last edited by Richard James on Thu Jan 08, 2009 10:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Paul McKeown
Posts: 3321
Joined: Thu Apr 12, 2007 3:01 pm
Location: Hayes (Middx)
Contact:

Re: Commonwealth Tournament 1951

Post by Paul McKeown » Thu Jan 08, 2009 10:49 pm

JustinHorton wrote:Is it usual for the ceremonial first move to be made for Black?
Justin,
according to Leonard Barden, the Master of Balliol (Sir David Lindsay Keir) and the Mayor of Oxford made ceremonial first moves. I guess they might have made one each on the same board.
Regards,
P.

Paul McKeown
Posts: 3321
Joined: Thu Apr 12, 2007 3:01 pm
Location: Hayes (Middx)
Contact:

Re: Commonwealth Tournament 1951

Post by Paul McKeown » Thu Jan 08, 2009 10:52 pm

Richard James wrote:From the chapter on Barcelona 1946:

"Wade and I sent to see a Spanish produced movie one evening after the tournament was over, and although it was in Spanish, it gave us an insight into the lives of the people. The movie depicted one of the great modern love stories of Spain and what attracted our attention most, was that the woman of this great romance put in only the briefest of appearances and said scarcely a word."
Nice - I didn't have that.

The Reykjavik taxi drivers incident - read the book when it comes out!

Regards,
P.

Paul McKeown
Posts: 3321
Joined: Thu Apr 12, 2007 3:01 pm
Location: Hayes (Middx)
Contact:

Re: Commonwealth Tournament 1951

Post by Paul McKeown » Fri Jan 09, 2009 7:59 pm

Some additional references, before I proceed on to the questions I have.
BCM Vol. LXVII No. 6 June 1947, p.185 wrote:Empire Championship.—The Secretary [i.e. of the BCF] reported that a copy of the proposed rules had been sent to each of the Chess Associations of Australia, British West Indies, Canada, Malta, New Zealand, Scotland and South Africa.
This was preceded by the announcement that Harold Meek had been co-opted on to the Executive Committee of the BCF - is that significant - it was with Meek, then BCF Honorary Secretary, that Yanofsky and Wade had originally discussed the idea. The BCF decided at the start of 1947, however, to appoint a highly paid professional secretary, who took up his post in the latter half of the year.
BCM Vol. LXX No. 7 July 1950, p.222 wrote:Maurice Fox will represent Canada at the Commonwealth Championship that will be held in New Zealand next year.
I suppose that Yanofsky was unavailable due to his studies in law completing at the University of Manitoba in the summer of 1951.

The BCM reported the BCF's decision not to send anyone to the proposed Commonwealth Championship in 1951:
BCM Vol. LXXI No. 1 Jan. 1951, p. 12 wrote:B.C.F. Executive Committee Meeting.—The 149th meeting of the Executive Committee was held at St. Bride Institute on December 9th.
[ ... ]
The meeting considered a proposal from the New Zealand Chess Association to hold the Commonwealth Championship in October, 1951, or April, 1052. In view of present commitments it was decided that Britain would be unable to send a candidate for at least two years from now.
I understand that the Staunton Memorial tournament was to be held in Britain in 1951, but what great event did the BCF have planned for 1952? Perhaps it was thinking about commitments for its best players in the Helsinki Olympiad (Golombek, Jonathan Penrose, Milner-Barry, rather ironically Barden, Horne and Hooper) and the Saltsjöbaden Interzonal Tournament (Golombek).

The BCM carried the Oxford Mail photo of the tournament front cover of the December 1951 issue and published DJ Youston's interesting report on the tournament (Youston was one of its main organisers):
BCM Vol. LXXI No. 12 Dec. 1951, pp. 326–329 wrote:OXFORD COMMONWEALTH TOURNAMENT

A Commonwealth Championship has been mooted several times and, in fact, one was organized in New Zealand last year but had to be abandoned as the B.C.F. could not send a representative. When Wade heard that Yanofsky was coming to study at Oxofrd and that Heidenfeld would also be in England, he suggested that a tournament be arranged. This took place at the pleasant Massey Room at Balliol College, Oxford, from October 29th to November 3rd. Whether it ranks as a championship is discussed at the end of this article.

The tournament was small, but strong and produced hard-fought games with interesting endings. Fairhurst was a good winner, a clear point ahead of the field.

[tournament table reproduced]

Fairhurst played well throughout the week. He has a sound positional style and the ability to maintain an advantage—even in sever time-trouble he played good moves designed to improve his grip on the game.

Yanofsky was also unbeaten but his play seemed to lack incision, possibly through lack of practise in recent years. His University studies did not help—a heavy lecture is not good preparation for an adjourned game.

Wade did not show his Venice form but played with fighting spirit. Barden found the triple task of playing, organizing, and studying rather a burden. One gets hte impression that unless he has a distinct plus from the opening, a draw will satisfy him. The nineteen-year-old Berriman played extremely well and this experience should prove invaluable to him. Heidenfeld's unfortunate loss in the first round seemed to shake his confidence. Having beaten Wade in a recent match, one expected to see him higher up the table.

[there follows a round by round report with some game scores and analysis]

Championship?

Fairhurst, Yanofsky, Wade and Heidenfeld are clearly the strongest players from their respective countries (although only the latter is Champion!) and it is unfortunate that Klein or Golombek were unable to represent the home country: Barden was the highest ranking player available. Berriman increased his reputation as Australia's most promising player. An unsuccessful attempt was made to widen the field by getting Brassington or Sturm from the West Indies to take part.

The original intention was that the tournament should be for the Commonwealth Championship but the B.C.F. put up £50 towards expenses "on the understanding that it was unofficial." Why did they adopt this attitude? How does it tie up with the treatment of Berriman who was not allowed to play until he received official permission from his Federation? Luckily the required cable arrived in time, but only a few hours before play began.

A paradoxical situation has arisen, for there is definite news that Canada, South Africa, India, Australia, and New Zealand are likely to recognize Fairhurst as Commonwealth Champion. I suggest the B.C.F. do the same or put forward a positive proposal to hold championships at regular intervals. Perhaps a Commonwealth F.I.D.E. is needed?

In conclusion may I say that the organization of the tournament was excellent. The arrangements were made entirely by members of the University Club, led by Barden, but for whose inspiration and energy the tournament could not have taken place. Our thanks are also due to the competitors for the friendly atmosphere in which the games were played. It is a pity that such a pleasant week's chess should be the subject of controversy.

D.J. Youston.
BCM appended an editorial opinion to Youston's report, which might well be supposed to represent the views of CHO'D Alexander and Golombek at the time, as they were two of the BCM's three directors:
BCM Vol. LXXI No. 12 Dec. 1951, p. 329 wrote:Following suggestion made by several Commonwealth players, who happened to be in this country at the same time, the B.C.F. Executive Committe decided, at its meeting on September 29th last, to run a Commonwealth Tournament. The very short notice at which, this competition was arranged not only precluded proper notice being given to the other Commonwealth chess bodies, but also prevented the four strongest B.C.F. players from taking part. Furthermore, of the six competitors one only was the holder of the Championship of his country, viz. W. Heidenfeld of South Africa.
Having regard to these considerations the B.C.F. could only hold an informal tourney on the present occasion.—Ed.
By the four strongest B.C.F. players, I guess that the top four at the most recent British Championship at Swansea in August was meant, as there was no grading list available for another four years. These four were Klein, Broadbent, Golombek and Ritson-Morry. Fifth equal was Barden, with Milner-Barry, ARB Thomas and Tylor.

Paul McKeown
Posts: 3321
Joined: Thu Apr 12, 2007 3:01 pm
Location: Hayes (Middx)
Contact:

Re: Commonwealth Tournament 1951

Post by Paul McKeown » Thu Jan 15, 2009 12:14 am

So, finally some questions.

1. Ireland

Leonard Barden's article in Chess stated that:
Chess, Vol. 17 No. 195, Dec. 1951, pp. 46–47 wrote:Originally it had been hoped that competitors would come from Ireland and the West Indies, but the former just did not materialise
Does anyone remember which Irish players were invited? Did they give reasons for declining? Has any correspondence survived?

The Republic of Ireland Act 1948 came into force on 18 April 1949, declaring Ireland a republic and hence incompatible with the British Commonwealth, as it was then constituted. So, when the Commonwealth Championship was first mooted in 1947 (or possibly late 1946), Ireland was part of the Commonwealth, but by the time the tournament took place, this was no longer true. Was this the reason that Ireland did not participate – or were the reasons more prosaic – too much time, too much expense, notice too short, etc.?

Earlier that year, from the 5th to the 12th of August, RGW and John Fuller had played in a small tournament at Clontarf, organised by Enda Rohan and in which important figures in the Irish chess scene, such as JJ Walsh, Vincent Maher and Noel Mulcahy participated. RGW gave simuls to raise money for that tournament. So RGW certainly had good contacts in Ireland.

Does any Irish reader have access to Irish newspapers from the time? Do they mention the Commonwealth tournament (or the tournament at Clontarf for that matter)?



2. India

RGW had already met Krishnamachariar at Moscow, whilst present at the 1951 World Championship match between Botvinnik and Bronstein. TA Krishnamachariar, from Madras (now Chennai), was the chess correspondent for The Hindu, who did much to popularise the international version of chess in India, up till his death in 1956. RGW's diaries indicate that he was in correspondence with TAK for several years.

But first, how should I spell Krishnamachariar? Gaige gives that spelling, as do several other sources, but various other sources, including the online edition of the Hindu, give Krishnamachari.

The original announcement in the BCM in 1947 reported that a copy of the rules of the proposed Championship had been sent to India:
BCM Vol. LXVII No. 6 June 1947, p.185 wrote:Empire Championship.—The Secretary [i.e. of the BCF] reported that a copy of the proposed rules had been sent to each of the Chess Associations of Australia, British West Indies, Canada, Malta, New Zealand, Scotland and South Africa.
Furthermore, Youston's article reports:
BCM Vol. LXXI No. 12 Dec. 1951, pp. 326–329 wrote:A paradoxical situation has arisen, for there is definite news that [...] India, [...] are likely to recognize Fairhurst as Commonwealth Champion.
Does anyone have access to back issues of The Hindu? Does TAK's column refer at any time to a Commonwealth Championship?



3. Wolfgang Heidenfeld and South Africa

Is anyone able to put me in touch with Mark Heidenfeld. Perhaps his father left behind some papers relating to the match and the tournament?



4. Australia

Why did the BCF insist that Berriman be officially nominated by the ACF before he was allowed to play, given that the BCF, on the other hand, insisted that the tournament could only be viewed as an informal tournament?

Youston's article notes that a
paradoxical situation has arisen, for there is definite news that Canada, South Africa, India, Australia, and New Zealand are likely to recognize Fairhurst as Commonwealth Champion./quote]

Did the ACF recognise Fairhurst as Commonwealth Champion?

Did CJS Purdy write anything in Chess World?



5. Canada

Why was Canada unable to organise the tournament in 1947 – 48?

Is there anything written in Canadian Chess Chat?



6. BCF

Why were the BCF so cussed about the whole affair?

Harold Meek, as BCF Honorary Secretary seemed eager; did the BCF's attitude change when he was replaced by a paid secretary?

Is there anything recorded in the Year Books from 1946–47 through to 1951–52?

Does the ECF still possess minutes from that era? If so, is anyone able to examine them on my behalf, or arrange that I might view them?

Does anyone remember anything about the BCF's attitude?

Leonard?


Regards,
P.

Leonard Barden
Posts: 1537
Joined: Wed Dec 24, 2008 11:21 am

Re: Commonwealth Tournament 1951

Post by Leonard Barden » Sun Jan 18, 2009 2:53 pm

The top four unavailable BCF players would have been Alexander, Klein, Broadbent and Golombek. True, there were no grading lists then, but these four competed in the Staunton Centenary earlier in 1951. At that time I would also have ranked behind Milner-Barry and Penrose, ie I was at best the No7 choice. Alexander, Broadbent and M-B were all high-ranking civil servanta, Klein taught mathematics at Southend, and Penrose was in term at London. I doubt if Ritson Morry would have been asked ahead of me since he would probably have accepted.
I think the BCF, lukewarm towards the event anyway and with its top players unavailable, took the easy way out and chose a player who was on the tournament site and involved in the organisation.
There should really have been two Balliol representatives in the event, for when Yanofsky applied for his post-graduate course Balliol, where Tylor was the senior law tutor, was his first choice. Tylor turned him down on the grounds that Dan's Latin wasn't up to scratch, which sounds a thin escuse since Dan had gold medals from his Canadian studies. After Tylor's rejection he went instead to Univ and got a first.
An extra factor in the BCF's cool attitude may have been fear of the reaction of the reigning British champion Klein, who was well-known to be paranoid and litiginous (his Barda deklein radio match and England v Holland episodes came a few months later). After the tournament I prepared a handwritten bulletin with all the games, provocatively headed Commonwealth championship. To Klein I sent a copy in German headed something like Meisterschaft der Britische gemeinwesen but that didn't diminish his wrath and I received a virulent reply to the effect that I was trying to undermine his title and was part of the conspiracy against him.
As regards Ireland, I think we briefly discussed it and decided that there was no player there of suitable strength for such an event. I don't recall any Indian negotiations. As it happens, I succeeded TA Krishnamachari (I'm sure that's the right spelling) as chess correspondent of The Hindu when he died in 1956 and wrote fortnightly articles there for around 15 years. I did see a few of his earlier columns but they were brief and mainly concerned with problems.
In the case of Australia, I have a vague memory of some debate/correspondence in Chess World before and/or after the event where some people thought that the ACF should only recognise the event if Lajos Steiner, Purdy or Koshnitsky was competing. So it would be worth looking through that magazine if you can find someone who has those years. GM Ian Rogers might know of a collector.
As an extra thought, I suggest you write to David Youston who did most of the Commonwealth event organisation and who when I was last in contact with him about 18 months ago was in good health and living in Toronto, Canada.
It is quite possible that he will recall aspects of the event which I have forgotten. He is not on email (at least he always wrote to me by airmail) but you could ask him to read through this thread and send his reactions. If they could be published in this forum that would be interesting.

Leonard Barden
Posts: 1537
Joined: Wed Dec 24, 2008 11:21 am

Re: Commonwealth Tournament 1951

Post by Leonard Barden » Sun Jan 18, 2009 2:53 pm

The top four unavailable BCF players would have been Alexander, Klein, Broadbent and Golombek. True, there were no grading lists then, but these four competed in the Staunton Centenary earlier in 1951. At that time I would also have ranked behind Milner-Barry and Penrose, ie I was at best the No7 choice. Alexander, Broadbent and M-B were all high-ranking civil servanta, Klein taught mathematics at Southend, and Penrose was in term at London. I doubt if Ritson Morry would have been asked ahead of me since he would probably have accepted.
I think the BCF, lukewarm towards the event anyway and with its top players unavailable, took the easy way out and chose a player who was on the tournament site and involved in the organisation.
There should really have been two Balliol representatives in the event, for when Yanofsky applied for his post-graduate course Balliol, where Tylor was the senior law tutor, was his first choice. Tylor turned him down on the grounds that Dan's Latin wasn't up to scratch, which sounds a thin escuse since Dan had gold medals from his Canadian studies. After Tylor's rejection he went instead to Univ and got a first.
An extra factor in the BCF's cool attitude may have been fear of the reaction of the reigning British champion Klein, who was well-known to be paranoid and litiginous (his Barda deklein radio match and England v Holland episodes came a few months later). After the tournament I prepared a handwritten bulletin with all the games, provocatively headed Commonwealth championship. To Klein I sent a copy in German headed something like Meisterschaft der Britische gemeinwesen but that didn't diminish his wrath and I received a virulent reply to the effect that I was trying to undermine his title and was part of the conspiracy against him.
As regards Ireland, I think we briefly discussed it and decided that there was no player there of suitable strength for such an event. I don't recall any Indian negotiations. As it happens, I succeeded TA Krishnamachari (I'm sure that's the right spelling) as chess correspondent of The Hindu when he died in 1956 and wrote fortnightly articles there for around 15 years. I did see a few of his earlier columns but they were brief and mainly concerned with problems.
In the case of Australia, I have a vague memory of some debate/correspondence in Chess World before and/or after the event where some people thought that the ACF should only recognise the event if Lajos Steiner, Purdy or Koshnitsky was competing. So it would be worth looking through that magazine if you can find someone who has those years. GM Ian Rogers might know of a collector.
As an extra thought, I suggest you write to David Youston who did most of the Commonwealth event organisation and who when I was last in contact with him about 18 months ago was in good health and living in Toronto, Canada.
It is quite possible that he will recall aspects of the event which I have forgotten. He is not on email (at least he always wrote to me by airmail) but you could ask him to read through this thread and send his reactions. If they could be published in this forum that would be interesting.

Post Reply