© 1997-2024
John Saunders


BRITBASE - British Chess Game Archive

Tournament: British Empire Club • 66 / 66 games
Venue: London • Dates: 10-24 October 1927 • Download PGN • updated: Sunday June 2, 2024 9:48 AM

1927 British Empire Club1 Masters, 10-24 October, 12 St James's Square, London

1927 British Empire Club Masters Nat'y 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12  Total 
1 Aron Nimzowitsch DEN
1 0 ½ 1 ½ 0 1 1 1 1 1 8
2 Saviely Tartakower FRA 0
½ ½ 1 1 1 ½ ½ 1 1 1 8
3 Frank James Marshall USA 1 ½
½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 ½ ½
4 Milan Vidmar Sr YUG ½ ½ ½
1 0 0 1 1 ½ 1 1 7
5 Efim Bogoljubow GER 0 0 ½ 0
1 1 ½ ½ 1 1 1
6 Richard Réti CSR ½ 0 ½ 1 0
1 ½ 1 0 ½ ½
7 William Winter ENG 1 0 ½ 1 0 0
½ 1 1 ½ 0
8 Edgar Colle BEL 0 ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½
½ 0 1 1
9 Victor Buerger ENG 0 ½ 0 0 ½ 0 0 ½
1 0 1
10 Sir George Alan Thomas ENG 0 0 0 ½ 0 1 0 1 0
1 0
11 Fred Dewhirst Yates ENG 0 0 ½ 0 0 ½ ½ 0 1 0
12 William Albert Fairhurst ENG 0 0 ½ 0 0 ½ 1 0 0 1 0

1 The British Empire Club was founded in 1910 and its address was 12 St James's Square, London. It no longer exists. [Wikipedia]

1927 British Empire Club Masters

BCM, November 1927, ppn 445-454
[this unattributed report seems a little odd: having worked through chronologically to the final round, the writer then returns to discuss the play of much earlier rounds. JS]


There was no change from the list of competitors announced in the October B.C.M., and the foreign experts were welcomed at a dinner held at the British Empire Club on Sunday, October 9th. In all thirty-five sat down to a very pleasant function.

Play began at 2-30 p.m. on Monday, and the arrangements for the comfort of the players could hardly have been bettered, for they were roped off from the spectators, who were also requested not to smoke. As only members and guests of the club were admitted, there were never more than forty spectators in the playing room at the same time.

The first round brought four of the probable prize-winners together, viz., Reti v. Nimzovitch and Vidmar v. Tartakover. Both games ended indecisively, although Reti lost a Pawn by a clock blunder when having rather the better position. To Marshall fell the distinction of winning the first game in the tournament, Thomas making a blunder on his 14th move, which cost a piece.

Buerger had an appreciable positional advantage against Bogoljuboff, but frittered most of it away by his usual time trouble. Colie won a very long-drawn out game with Yates, which was adjourned a number of times, and Fairhurst won an ending against Winter with Bishops of opposite colour and a Pawn ahead.

In the second round Nimzovitch and Vidmar had a peaceful draw in an equalising variation of the Four Knights’ Game, and the Petroff between Yates and Marshall and the Q.P. between Colle and Reti had the same result. Tartakover gradually established a positional advantage against Fairhurst in an English Opening on original lines, and Buerger made an early slip which led to a weak isolated Q P. The most interesting game of the round was the following:— [Bogoljubow-Thomas - see viewer/download]

The following round saw an early finish to the game Thomas v. Winter, the latter making a winning sacrifice in the appended position. [see view/download]

Vidmar played a capital game against Colle, which will be found in the Games Section. Bogoljuboff won a whole piece against Marshall, but then proceeded to play so light-heartedly that he ran short of time and blundered away his Queen. After the adjournment he fought very hard for a draw, having R and Kt against Q and P, in a close position, and in the end he forced a division of the spoils.

Buerger and Fairhurst played very well indeed against Tartakover and Nimzovitch respectively. Buerger missed an easy chance to win a Pawn, and Fairhurst, after making a very fine Pawn sacrifice, missed a draw in the end-game. The finish of this game was particularly piquant as the diagram will show, both players finding very ingenious moves on occasion. [see viewer/download]

Reti won a Pawn against Yates, but later on lost it again by a slip.

One of the most important games in the fourth round was that between Reti and Vidmar. The former won a Pawn in a scramble with the clock, and then handled the difficult ending in admirable style to gain a well-deserved and very important success. Tartakover in a level position against Thomas, made a Rook sacrifice which both players thought would win for Tartakover if accepted. Subsequent analysis showed that Thomas would have had an easy draw had he captured the Rook. In the sequel, Tartakover won a difficult ending with R and K B P against Kt and K B P.

Colle and Fairhurst had a hammer and tongs fight, but the former finally evolved a winning combination.

Buerger established a clear positional advantage against Nimzovitch, but allowed the latter to sacrifice the Exchange for two Pawns and the ensuing end-game was untenable. Winter deserved his draw against Marshall in a solidly-played Queen’s Pawn Game. Bogoljuboff, as second player to Yates, startled the "gallery" by making a fine positional sacrifice of the Exchange for no Pawns, merely to gain control of the Black squares in the usual blocked Lopez position. White was absolutely powerless, and Bogoljuboff gradually won Pawn after Pawn, so that at the adjournment he had material as well as positional superiority. The sacrifice bears a great resemblance to that between Selesnieff and Alekhine in the Triberg tournament of 1921 (see B.C.M., 1922, p. 281). [see viewer/download]

Nimzovitch played his own defence against Thomas in the fifth round, and the latter secured by far the better position. The ill-luck which has dogged him in this tournament still pursued him, however, and he allowed a Pawn to fork two pieces. Winter, playing in very good form against Bogoljuboff, built up a powerful King-side attack. With a clear positional advantage, however, he made a totally unsound sacrifice, whereas by adopting quieter tactics,, he could scarcely have lost.

Both Fairhurst and Reti were in trouble with the clock, as usual, and the latter came out with the better game. He missed a simple win one move after the adjournment, thinking that he had an easy win any case, and Fairhurst was thus enabled to escape with a draw. It should be remarked, however, that before the adjournment Fairhurst also missed an easy win, so that honours were easy.

By the fortune of the draw, the leading players were pitted against each other in the last few rounds, and the pairings for the ninth round included Tartakover v. Nimzovitch, Bogoljuboff v. Reti, Marshall v. Vidmar.

Thomas played in indifferent form against Fairhurst, the advantage oscillating from one player to the other almost every move, but the young Manchester champion finally seized his chance and scored the first win of the round.

Neither Marshall nor Vidmar exerted themselves unduly and the draw consolidated the position of both players near the head of the table.

Reti meditated for a full quarter of an hour when confronted with 1 Nf3 d5 2 c4, for naturally he could not be expected to find a satisfactory defence against his own deadly opening. Despite this disability, he secured a perfectly good position in the middle game, but rejected the simple line, fearing a combination on the part of his opponent, which would have been unsound. Later he made some weak moves owing to the clock (eight moves in one minute), which cost him an essential Pawn. This loss ruled him out of consideration for the first prize.

Nimzovitch played a good game against Tartakover, and ac the adjournment appeared to have a winning Rook end-game. This game played a decisive part in the destination of the first prize, for if Tartakover could have held the game he would have had only to draw his last two games to come first.

Colie won a Pawn against Winter, but at the second adjournment sealed a bad move, which led only to a draw. Buerger evolved a very profound combination into which Yates declined to fall, and the latter won the the end-game with two Bishops against two Knights, a doubled Pawn ahead.

In the tenth round there was no lessening of the tension, all the prizes depending upon the results of the leaders against each other.

Colie and Tartakover soon agreed to a friendly draw, the doctor thereby retaining the lead with 7 points, his critical adjourned game against Nimzovitch remaining in the balance. Vidmar, however, came up level with Tartakover by a finely-played game against Bogoljuboff, who paid the penalty of adopting a somewhat inferior defence.

Fairhurst fully held his own against Marshall, and a draw was agreed after some six hours play. Buerger and Reti had a comparatively easy passage against Thomas and Winter respectively. Buerger adopted a new line against the Meran Defence, giving him an overwhelming attack, and Reti’s game, which we shall give next month, appears to have prospects of winning one of the special prizes.

The remaining game was also very important, as Nimzovitch had chances of winning first prize. Yates opened with 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 e5 Nd5 4 Bc4 Nb6 5 Be2, and the following position, characteristic of both Yates’ and Nimzovitch’s style of play, arose on the 36th move. [see viewer/download]

As expected Nimzovitch won his adjourned game with Tartakover, so the leading scores with one round to go were: Nimzovitch, Tartakover and Vidmar, 7; Marshall, 6½; Bogoljuboff and Reti, 5½; Colle and Winter, 4½.

The last round began at 10 a.m. on Monday, October 24th, and naturally attracted great interest, as no less than four players— Nimzovitch, Tartakover and Vidmar (each 7 points), and Marshall (6½), had chances of carrying off first prize.

Reti secured an equal middle-game position against Tartakover, but seeing that Bogoljuboff had won against Fairhurst (who when a Pawn ahead with the better game put a Rook en prise) felt constrained to play for a win. This brought him into difficulties, and running short of time he made a blunder. This made Tartakover 8, and only Nimzovitch and Vidmar could catch him and divide first prize.

Vidmar as Black in a Queen’s Pawn Game built up a strong attacking position. He was tempted into sacrificing first a Pawn and then a Knight, and the spectators were of the opinion that he had an overwhelming attack. Winter, however, found the right line of defence and at the adjournment had an easy win a whole piece ahead. He was thus able to divide the sixth prize with Reti and had the satisfaction of being the only Englishman to come in the prize list.

Marshall had good fortune against Buerger who, with the better game lost his Queen by a blunder. This made Marshall 7½ and the issue turned on the result of Nimzovitch’s game against Colle.

If Nimzovitch could win he would divide first place with Tartakover, whereas if Colle won he would also come into the prize-list, sharing sixth place with Reti and Winter.

At the first adjournment Colle seemed to have a distinct pull, with a Knight against a Bishop in a blocked position. Had he wished to, he could have had a draw without difficulty, but playing for a win at all costs he went in for a tempting Knight manoeuvre. This turned to his disadvantage, however, and Nimzovitch came out with the superior Rook ending. Although he won a Pawn, the ending presented considerable technical difficulties, and the game lasted eighty moves and nine and a half hours before he gained the victory and divided first prize with Tartakover.

Thomas obtained a pronounced advantage against Yates, and won soon after the adjournment. He was thus able to win the special prize for the best score in the last five rounds by a non prize-winner (wins against Reti and Yates and a draw with Vidmar), and thus make amends for his depressingly bad start.

It cannot be pretended that the British players in this tournament covered themselves with glory, for only one of them managed to get into the prize-list. Oversights played a very big part in their lack of success, however, Buerger and Fairhurst being very conspicuous in this respect.

Tartakover’s well-deserved success was very popular, for the genial doctor has a wide circle of admirers in this country. He was never afraid to take risks, and his game with Bogoljuboff was certainly the most original of the whole tournament. If we mistake not, this is his best success in an international tournament of such strength. Many times previously he has had the cup of victory dashed from his lips when he had every right to expect the first prize; and even here Nimzovitch was able to retrieve an inferior position and share the honours with him.

Nimzovitch had never previously paid a visit to this country, and the spectators seemed surprised at his bizarre treatment of certain positions. He played two very good games against Bogoljuboff and Tartakover, and had bad luck in the two games he lost, but to offset this he had good fortune against some of the English players. In the past eighteen months he has had a very fine series of successes in big international tournaments, and his latest success will add to his reputation.

By drawing with Marshall, Tartakover kept his position at the head of the table, and Buerger and Colle also shared the points. Vidmar lured Yates into a tempting Queen-side attack which came to nought, and Vidmar ultimately won a Rook ending with a Pawn move.

After playing off the adjourned games, the scores at the end of the first week were : Bogoljuboff and Nimzovitch, 4 ; Tartakover, 3½; Colle, Marshall, Reti and Vidmar, 3; Winter, 2½; Buerger and Fairhurst, 1½; Yates, 1; and Thomas, 0.

The following day the players were permitted to rest from their arduous labours, so they naturally filled in the time by playing in a lightning tournament on the American system, all against all. Bogoljuboff won the first prize (£5) with 9 out of 11, the remaining five prizes being won by Tartakover, 8½; Nimzovitch, 8; Reti and Vidmar, 6½; and Colle, 6.

The sixth round brought a surprise in its train, both leaders coming to grief. Nimzovitch in an even position lost his Queen through time trouble, and Bogoljuboff lost after a most momentous game with Tartakover.

The latter did not handle the Ponziani opening in very good style, and Bogoljuboff was able to secure a perceptible positional advantage. Tartakover later won two minor pieces for Rook and two Pawns, but Bogoljuboff for some obscure reason sacrificed another piece, in order to secure three dangerous united passed Pawns.

Tartakover then had an easy win, but played a weak move which gave Bogoljuboff a chance to come out with Q for Rook and two minor pieces, with winning chances. Fortunately for Tartakover his opponent, in great clock trouble, failed to seize his chance.

Vidmar was fortunate to win against Fairhurst, for the latter sealed the only move to lose in an ending Kt and P v. Kt and two Ps. Thomas broke his run of ill-luck with a capital victory over Colle, and Reti had a comfortable passage in an English opening against Buerger, who found the problem of a satisfactory development of his Q B as difficult as ever. Yates also had rather the worse of the draw against Winter. The leading scores after the conclusion of the sixth round were : Tartakover, 4½; Bogoljuboff, Marshall, Nimzovitch, Reti and Vidmar, each 4.

The next round assisted in the task of sorting out the players, Reti and Bogoljuboff being pegged back by defeats. Nimzovitch played in admirable style to refute Bogoljuboff’s somewhat eccentric treatment of the English opening; and Thomas gained a positional superiority against Reti, sufficient to outweigh the loss of a Pawn.

Buerger established a clear advantage against Vidmar, but indiscreetly allowed an exchange of Queens, which led to the inferior ending despite being a Pawn ahead. Had he kept the Queens on, Vidmar in all probability could not have saved the game.

Tartakover played a breezy game, as will be seen from the appended score. [Winter-Tartakower - see viewer/download]

In the eighth round Tartakover improved his chances by a comfortable win against Yates. At the adjournment he had three Pawns to the good, and picked up another three Pawns shortly afterwards. Tartakover remarked after the game that he had committed a grave error of position judgment in allowing the exchange of two centre Pawns early in the game, otherwise he would have ended up eight Pawns ahead !

Thomas fully held Vidmar to a draw, and the same result was recorded in the games Colie v. Bogoljuboff and Reti v. Marshall. The game between the two youngest players in the tournament early ran in Buerger’s favour, and after making an unsound sacrifice Fairhurst gave up, soon after the adjournment.

Winter defended with 1 b3 e5 2 Bb2 f6 against Nimzovitch. The latter, as White, secured the better game in a curious position, but Winter took his courage in both hands and went in for complications, emerging with the better game despite being a Pawn to the bad. He subsequently won the end-game fairly easily, his opponent’s R being quite out of play. This was the best result so far chronicled by an Englishman against one of the favourites, and it was certainly the surprise of the round.

The leading scores after the conclusion of this round were: Tartakover, 6½; Marshall and Vidmar, 5½; Nimzovitch, 5; Reti and Bogoljuboff, 4½; Winter, 4 ; Colle, 3½.

Marshall was in some respects the surprise of the tournament, for the spectators had been given to expect brilliant sacrifices and “ Marshall swindles ” from him, whereas in actual fact his play was characterised by a soundness and solidity not in evidence in his pre-war games. He was the only player to go through the tournament without defeat, repeating his performance in Marienbad, 1925, where he played fifteen games without defeat, and also came third. Had he played with a little more energy against the non-prize-winners he might very well have come first.

Vidmar, although not in his best form, again proved himself a tough nut to crack. This is relatively his worst performance in this country, but most masters would not be dissatisfied to come fourth in such company.

Bogoljuboff and Reti both played below their real form, and they would probably do better in a tournament composed only of "grand masters." In his last three English tournaments Reti has thrown away chances of a high place by losing perfectly even positions in the final round.

Winter put up easily the best performance of his career, and in some measure redeemed the honour of British chess. He made the best score of any British player against the foreign masters, and it is a great feather in his cap to have defeated two of the world’s greatest experts, Nimzovitch and Vidmar.

Of the non-prize winners Colle made more blunders than is usual with him. On several occasions he missed his way against the masters when having the better game, and he was naturally deeply mortified at depriving Tartakover of undivided first place by losing a level ending to Nimzovitch in the last round.

Buerger played quite well against the foreign masters, but made numerous blunders on the clock which cost him valuable points, for he had a considerable positional advantage against Marshall, Nimzovitch and Vidmar, and a won game against Tartakover.

Very favourable comment was heard on all sides concerning Fairhurst’s style. He is well equipped in all departments of the game, and more than one foreign master has tipped him as a future British champion. Like Buerger and Winter, he needs only further experience of master play.

Both Thomas and Yates disappointed their numerous admirers. The latter was in indifferent health, playing without his usual energy ; and Thomas made a terrible start, although pulling up with 3I points in the last six rounds.

After the long drawn-out struggle between Nimzovitch and Colle had come to an end, the prizes were presented by Lady Margaret Hamilton-Russell, who was supported by Mr. R. C. Griffith and the Hon. F. G. Hamilton-Russell. The thanks of the tournament committee and players were expressed to Messrs. V. Buerger and E. Busvine for their arduous efforts for the success of the tournament, and the genial secretary of the British Empire Club, Capt. Leckie, came in for a well-deserved meed of praise.

File Updated

Date Notes
5 July 2022 First upload. All 66 games, a photograph plus report given in BCM.