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Tournament: Stevenson Memorial (SCCU Championship) • 50 of a possible 140 games, plus 4 games from other events
Venue: Southsea • Dates: 13-23 April 1949Download PGN • Last Edited: Monday 18 March, 2019 4:56 PM

1949 Stevenson Memorial, SCCU Championship, Southsea - 13-23 April 1949 - SCCU champion was Dr. James M Aitken

1949 Stevenson Memorial, Southsea

(Crosstable from the London Chess Bulletin, Vol.1 no.9, 6 May 1949 - n.b. complete/corrected player names: Bertram Goulding Brown, Miss Mary Henniker-Heaton, R. C. Woodthorpe, C. H. L. Jackson and J. Poole)

[London Chess Bulletin, Vol.1, No.8, 22 April 1949] ENTERTAINING CHESS AT SOUTHSEA CONGRESS - Foreign Masters in the lead

The first Congress to be organised on Swiss lines in this country has certainly proved to be an interesting event for it has so far produced fighting games, some of them of highly original character.

With only three foreign masters and some withdrawals among the stronger British players, the field was neither as strong nor as lengthy as had been expected. It is naturally not surprising, in the circumstances, that the foreigners soon had the leading positions in their grasp.

The Congress opened on the 13th April with a field on 28 players in the Stevenson Memorial Tournament. This was no doubt disappointing to the organisers, who had allowed for 48 entries, but as they had arranged the event to coincide with the Midland Championships at Birmingham and the West of England C.A. at Plymouth, it is hardly astonishing that the numbers were down. Also, as luck would have it, the universities started their terms directly after Easter and this cut out quite a number of players who are regarded as being among our future masters.

British Blunders

The British contingent flattered on several occasions to deceive as when P. N. Wallis, after sacrificing brilliantly against Rossolimo to secure a tremendous attack on the King, finished weakly and lost. A number of other chances were missed and up to the end of round 5 no British player had yet succeeded in depriving any of the masters of so much as half a point.

That there must be some reason for this disappointing showing is quite evident, and British organisers must bring themselves to realise that we are not playing the kind of chess in this country likely to lead to success in the international field. Chess played at the rate of 20 or even 24 moves an hour with adjudication before the ending is reached has been a very bad training ground in the past, and it is too early yet to feel the full benefit of the London League’s new system of playing match games to a finish. It is sincerely to be hoped that other leagues and other bodies will soon adopt similar measures.

Swiss System Advantages

The principal advantages derived from the adoption of the Swiss System, apart from the fact that it allows a much larger number of players to take part, have become evident during the course of this and the Birmingham Congresses.

In the first place the tournament sorts out the strong players in the first few rounds, and these have then to meet each other in the middle rounds. This means that neither player can afford to sit tight on the draw with the certainty that he can get into the prize list. Can this mean that we have found one of the best means of getting rid of the abomination of the "grandmaster"? draw?

Secondly all players, even when not doing well, have still an interest in finishing as high up the table as they can at the expense of those near them, and the system operates rather on the lines of the “ ladder ” tournament which is ofter a popular feature in club chess.

Thirdly, the continuous pairing of players with similar scores brings about many “ needle ” games, and these are of great value from the publicity point of view. Interest is bound to be the greater among the general public if the spectators can witness real battles.

Finally, the players do not know in advance whom they will meet or the colours they will have, and they cannot therefore prepare special variations for the discomfiture of particular opponents with any certainty of being able to make use of them.

All these considerations are of great importance to tournament promoters and indeed to the cause of brighter chess. It is to hoped that first impressions will be confirmed with greater experience.

Latest Scores

As we go to press the leading scores are: Rossolimo 5½, Dr. Tartakower 5, G. Wood and Barden 3½ each. There are 4 more rounds.

[London Chess Bulletin, Vol.1 No.9, 6 May 1949] Rossolimo does it again - Finished strongly to head Southsea list - The great run of success enjoyed by the three foreign competitors in the Southsea Congress was very nearly complete . . . but not quite! A gruelling tournament, with plenty of good fighting chess throughout ended in their gaining the first three places, Rossolimo adding to his laurels by capturing first place ahead of Dr. Tartakower. He evidently likes the air at British seaside resorts! In the 8th round Dr. Aitken at last redeemed British honour a little by beating Tartakower very well and in the next round Sir Geo. Thomas took half a point out of the eventual winner, Rossolimo. The final result was no surprise, for we still have no players of the calibre of the visiting players, and there is much to be done before we shall produce young masters capable of sustained success in the hard battle which is modern international chess. Dr. J. M. Aitken finished fourth. Championship he accordingly takes the title. The organisers were lucky that a southerner finished clear of the field in this way, for there was a strong probability that the Champion might have had to be selected by means of the Sonneborn-Berger system for splitting ties. It does not yet seem to be realised that the Swiss System is only effective in placing the first three or four players accurately, and no championship title should be awarded on lower placings.

File Updated

Date Notes
15 March 2019 Original upload
18 March 2019 Added crosstable