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Tournament: 29th Hastings Premier 1953/54 Go to: Previous YearNext Year • updated June 21, 2022 1:29 PM
Venue: White Rock Pavilion • Dates: 30 December 1953 - 8 January 1954 • Download PGN (45/45 Premier games + 5 games from subsidiary events)

1953/54 Hastings Premier, 30 December 1953 - 8 January 1954, White Rock Pavilion

1953/54 Hastings Premier Nat'y/Resid 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10  Total 
1 C Hugh O'D Alexander Cheltenham
&;
1 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 1
2 David Bronstein USSR 0
&;
1 ½ 1 1 ½ 1 ½ 1
3 Alberic O'Kelly de Galway Belgium 0 0
&;
1 ½ ½ 1 1 1 ½
4 Aleksandar Matanovic Yugoslavia ½ ½ 0
&;
½ ½ 1 0 ½ 1
5 Fridrik Olafsson Iceland ½ 0 ½ ½
&;
1 0 1 1 0
6 Rudolf Teschner W Germany ½ 0 ½ ½ 0
&;
0 1 1 1
7 Alexander Tolush USSR 0 ½ 0 0 1 1
&;
1 0 1
8 Dr Saviely Tartakower France ½ 0 0 1 0 0 0
&;
1 1
9 Robert Graham Wade Ilford / NZL ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 0 1 0
&;
½ 3
10 Dennis Morton Horne Oxford 0 0 ½ 0 1 0 0 0 ½
&;
2

Prizes: £60, £40, £20, £10 and £1 was given to non-prizewinners for every won game.

1953/54 Hastings: David Bronstein v Hugh Alexander
Chess makes the UK headlines as Hugh Alexander beats top Soviet GM David Bronstein in a 120-move five-session marathon.
Photo colorised by John Saunders
Leonard Barden tells me the gentleman 3rd from right of the spectators in the grey jacket is
Arthur Albert Rider, former Hastings Congress director. He died less than three weeks after this photo was taken, aged 72.

David Bronstein 0-1 Hugh Alexander, Round 7, Hastings Premier 1953/54, with Harry Golombek's notes - Game Viewer

BCM, February 1954, ppn 29-46

HASTINGS INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS

December 30th to January 9th

By H. Golombek

THE twenty-ninth annual Hastings Congress will long remain in the memory of those who witnessed and played in it as one of the most exciting and variedly interesting of the whole series. Not only was the quality of the chess considerably higher than before, not only did we have the unusual, but most welcome, participation of Russian grandmasters, but a resounding British success in the Premier crowned the whole congress after as tense a struggle as could have been wished.

The prizes were: 1st £60, 2nd £40, 3rd £20, 4th £10, and £1 was given to non-prizewinners for every won game. In this last respect it seems time that the tournament was brought into line with the usual practice of international tournaments and, say, £2 awarded to non-prizewinners for every point gained. When there was a tie for fourth place, as here, the players could also share point money.

With 121 entries the congress was well up in numbers on the previous year’s 103; but far more impressive than mere figures was the immense increase in playing strength in the Premier. Naturally, the most important part of the foreign entry was the Russian, which contained two grandmasters. In addition, though, it should also be observed that even without the Soviet competitors the foreign opposition was markedly stronger this year than last. From Yugoslavia there was the young Matanovic, not so long ago outstanding victor at the international tournament of Opatija. From Belgium there was O’Kelly de Galway, a first-class master with a large number of international successes to his credit. From Western Germany came Rudolf Teschner, who had recently won the Berlin Championship for the sixth time. Iceland sent the youngest player in the tournament, the twenty-year-old Fridrik Olafsson, who was not only Icelandic Champion but also Champion of Scandinavia. Finally there came from France the veteran Dr. Tartakower, old in years but ever youthful in ideas and, incidentally, the present French Champion. His illustrious record at Hastings (four first prizes!) is one that no other player in the world is likely to surpass or even equal.

The idea of having five British players to balance the five foreigners—hitherto regarded as sacrosanct—was wisely abandoned this time, since only a few of the leading British masters found themselves able to take part. The three who were playing were the best available and, looking at the matter retrospectively, it is more than dubious whether the addition of the missing leading British masters would in any way have increased the chances of a British success. It would appear to be much better to limit ourselves to a small but select band rather than go in for five players at all costs. It was fortunate, indeed, that this band included C. H. O’D. Alexander, the only British player ever to have won the first prize outright in a Hastings International Congress (in 1946-47) and with a distinguished international record that included another remarkable achievement in his equal second with Keres in 1937-38, ½ point ahead of Flohr and Fine. Two other British players were deservedly invited, R. G. Wade, winner of the British Championship in 1952, and D. M. Horne, who had done so well at the International Team Tournament at Helsinki.

For the first time since the congress of 1934-35, when the great Botwinnik came, the Soviet was represented at Hastings. Invitations had been sent some months previous to the Soviet but when it became known that the Soviet Championship was due to start at Kiev in early January grave doubts were entertained as to whether any Russians could come. Luckily these doubts, together with the woeful prognostications of the pessimists, who thought that the Russians never intended to send any players in the first place, were completely falsified by events. Two grandmasters of the highest class were sent. Alexander Casimirovitch Tolush, a typical product of the Leningrad school, with his love for complex combinations and his determination to lead the game into exciting paths no matter what the risk involved, and David Bronstein, one of the most outstanding of the younger candidates for the World Championship, were chosen for the task of trying to succeed where even Botwinnik had failed.

The feats of these great masters (both recognized as grandmasters by F.I.D.E.) hardly need mentioning to my readers, since they will have seen their achievements chronicled regularly in the pages of the “B.C.M.” Briefly, Tolush has had a distinguished record in the Soviet Championships and was first at the great international tournament in Bucharest in 1953; whilst Bronstein has been twice equal first in the Soviet Championships, was first in the Interzonal Tournament at Stockholm, 1948, tied for first with Boleslavsky in the ensuing Candidates’ Tournament at Budapest, beat his fellow countryman in a match and then drew a match for the World Championship against Botwinnik. In the recent Candidates’ Tournament he was equal second with Reshevsky and Keres, so that the reader will observe that in Bronstein we have a case of almost unbroken success.

The other competitors might have been forgiven if they had felt some faint misgivings at heart when faced with such formidable opposition. All the more credit to their courage when one considers the actual results.

The course of the tournament could not have been more exciting. There was a sensation at the very start, when Wade, playing at his best, held Bronstein to a draw in the first round and even improved on this by defeating Tolush in a stirring game in Round 3. Meanwhile Alexander had commenced in no uncertain fashion with a score of 2½ points out of 3 and, though he had not yet met a Russian, was clearly one of the favourites for first place already. Bronstein took the lead in the next round with a rather lucky win against Tartakower, whilst Alexander and Matanovic drew after a most entertaining struggle. Since both the rivals drew in the next round, the position remained the same until they met in Round 7. Then came a stupendous marathon struggle that stretched over some 14 hours and included five adjournments, out of which Alexander eventually emerged a worthy victor.

But this result was not achieved till the last day of the tournament (Friday afternoon at 5.10 p.m. to be precise) and in the interim Alexander had drawn with Wade in Round 8, whilst Bronstein beat Olafsson in that round. In the last round Alexander was all over Tolush and the issue now depended on Teschner’s game v. Bronstein. At first Teschner played so well that Bronstein, giving up all hope of gaining or sharing first prize, offered a draw. This Teschner rightly refused and on adjournment it seemed certain that Bronstein would lose. Then, however, Teschner weakened badly and Bronstein, displaying all the powers of resourcefulness that have made him so formidable in many great tournaments, completely turned the tables to win a long drawn-out game at five minutes past midnight.

So there was a tie for first place between David Bronstein of the U.S.S.R. and our own Hugh Alexander. A more popular result could hardly be imagined. The Soviet grandmaster had endeared himself to the spectators by his gallant and chivalrous conduct and his never-failing amiability even when defeated, whilst Alexander’s fine success was as welcome as it was merited. It is difficult to over-estimate the fillip to British chess from his high achievement, and it is particularly gratifying to know that he will be a member of the team to represent the B.C.F. at Buenos Aires in September.

We all know of Alexander’s combinative genius and of his mastery of the lively King’s-side attack; but his results here argue capacities stretching wider than these. Significantly he was the only player to go through the tournament without loss and only the steadiness essential for such an exploit could have enabled him to endure successfully the amazing game with Bronstein. In this game, too, his end-game play was beyond all normal praise.

In the past Alexander has been troubled in his defence to the Queen’s Pawn openings. Now, in the Dutch Defence he would appear to have found a line that especially suits his style. It gives rise to counter-attacks that may well be on thin ice; but he is an adept at riding the whirlwind and directing the storm. It was also very striking to observe how just and correct was his appraisal of positions throughout the tournament. This correct positional judgment is always the hallmark of a great player and quite often when his game was passing through a phase of obscure complexities his decisions triumphed over the opinions of many a so-called expert spectator.

Throughout his career (already long despite the fact that he is only twenty-nine years old) Bronstein has been noted for his willingness to run risks, his perseverance and stubborn staying powers, and his amazing capacity for finding resources in the most desperate situations. All these attributes were well in evidence at Hastings; but he had the bad luck of finding Alexander in a form that could rival the best player in the world. A tie for first prize at Hastings can in no way have diminished his reputation. After all such illustrious predecessors as Alekhine, Capablanca, and Botwinnik have on occasion failed to win outright here and, indeed, in 1934-35 Capablanca was fourth and Botwinnik fifth. Bronstein won golden opinions for his friendly demeanour throughout the congress and his play was as attractive as could be wished—in short, a great player who fulfilled expectations.

The fierce light of publicity that shone on the first two prize-winners tended to leave in the shade performances that in a normal year would have been regarded as remarkably outstanding. Certainly the daily press was unjust to the Belgian Champion, O’Kelly, in that on the whole it failed to notice the extraordinary and most laudable come-back he made after starting with the wretched score of ½ point out of 3. Nothing daunted by this setback he set doggedly to work and obtained 5 points out of his last six games—a magnificent achievement that few players in the world could have accomplished.

The quadruple tie for fourth place must have been viewed with mingled feelings on the part of the prize-sharers. What was disaster for Tolush represented satisfaction for Matanovic and a sort of modified rapture for Teschner and Olafsson. That so great a master as Tolush should not be higher in the list is only explicable by the erratic nature of his genius. He might well come first in the very next international tournament. In his games he steers even nearer to danger than Bronstein and, since his touch seemed to desert him for the moment, he was all too often wrecked on the rocks. But he bore his defeats with a cheerful equanimity that might provide a salutary lesson to many a lesser player. When in form his combinations are some of the most beautiful that can be imagined. Here and there one caught a glimpse of this gift at Hastings, but as a rule his inspiration was lacking here.

Matanovic modestly professed himself as more than satisfied with his results and though a little more had been expected from the victor at Opatija he yet produced enough to show what a great master he should become. He is full of chess and still very young—one envies Yugoslavia for the number of fine young players that country seems able to furnish in profusion.

Another most promising master is the Icelandic Champion, Olafsson. The youngest player in the tournament, he lost quite a number of points through lack of tournament experience. A little more practice in international chess should teach him not to get into such desperate time straits that frequently wrecked won positions for him at Hastings.

Apart from this, his style is that of the future grandmaster. He will bear watching.

Teschner started off with a bang as though he was going to win the tournament offhand. He is a much improved player from the time he last visited England and has a fine knowledge of the openings which he supplements by accurate middle-game play. His weak point is in the end-game, which was sometimes so bad as to be hardly recognizable for master class—a particularly horrible example being his mangling of a won ending against Matanovic.

Dr. Tartakower, too, started well; but as the tournament proceeded he tended to tire more and more quickly. There is no doubt that all the old gifts of vivid imagination and witty resource are still there; but physical staying powers are essential in such contests and the fact that he was far and away the oldest competitor in the tournament proved too great a handicap. Some consolation the veteran grandmaster can perhaps derive from the fact that he is, was, and always will be a great favourite with chess-players in this country, as was shown by the ringing and prolonged applause that greeted his appearance on the final day at the prizegiving. it will, indeed, be a sad day for us when his gallant and quizzical figure no longer appears at our congresses and one hopes, now that he seems active again in tournament chess, to welcome the doctor here long and often.

Wade had a brief period of glory in his wonderful play against the Russians; but thereafter seemed to tire very much and very quickly. Still, he quite certainly paved the way for Alexander’s triumph and British chess should always be grateful to him for breaking down the barrier of invincibility that had hitherto surrounded the Soviet players.

Horne of Hastings and Horne of Helsinki were two quite different players. Presumably lack of practice was responsible for the change, since one quite missed here that solid fighting spirit that animated him in 1952. Nevertheless, since somebody had to be bottom marker it might as well have been Horne, since he bore his defeats with a graceful stoicism that was most becoming. Whether this argument will entirely appeal to Horne I very much doubt, but I am quite sure that he will not allow this failure to dampen his enthusiasm and I am equally certain that he will make a comeback in the near future.

Players and journalists have a habit of noticing tournament organizers only when things go wrong which is why so far there has been no mention of them in this report. But it must be recorded here that none of this success would have been accomplished without the driving power and enthusiasm of the tournament controller, F. A. Rhoden. He worked like a Trojan, not only during the congress, but for many months before the event to ensure its success. At the very moment of writing he is on the job of laying the foundations for an even better congress next year and the grateful thanks of the British chess world are due to him for his great efforts and achievement. Mention also should be made of Major Flear, who, undeterred by a sharp attack of sciatica, looked after the progress of play with an unobtrusive but ever-watchful efficiency.

Round 1—Wednesday 30 December 1953
Bronstein ½-½ Wade QGD Semi-Slav Defence 22
Olafsson 0-1 Tolush Sicilian Defence 34
Alexander 1-0 O'Kelly French Defence 39
Matanovic 0-1 Tartakower Caro-Kann Defence 32
Teschner 1-0 Horne Nimzo-Indian Defence 61

In the morning the photographers were let loose on the players, so that they could use their flashlights to their heart’s content without disturbing actual play. The congress was duly opened at four o’clock in the afternoon by Sir Clarence Sadd, the President of the Sussex Chess Association and P. J. Morren, the President of the Hastings Chess Club, and soon play was in progress. The first move was made by Sir Clarence on behalf of Bronstein who, as a courteous gesture towards his hosts, played 1P—Q B4, the English Opening but soon transposed into the Queen’s Gambit. The game, which is given below, took a stirring course; but both sides got into great time-trouble and a draw was agreed when White had taken 1 hour 57 minutes and Black 1 hour 53 minutes so that Bronstein had 3 minutes left for 12 moves and Wade 7 minutes for 13 moves. In view of Bronstein’s reputation for finding the best moves even under time pressure Wade wisely took the draw, which was in any event sensational enough.

Players Castled opposite sides in the Olafsson-Tolush game and each indulged in the usual pawn rush. But Olafsson did not manage to find the most vigorous continuation and he was quite lost when he exceeded the time limit.

Alexander proposed a draw in the adjoined position against O’Kelly. However, the Belgian Champion, intent on scoring a win as a good start, refused the offer and the speed with which his game then went downhill was enough to cause alarm and despondency to spread throughout Brussels. [moves 24-end] here the game was adjourned but O’Kelly resigned without resuming play, since not only is he a passed pawn down but his position is entirely passive.

The learned doctor, knowing that Matanovic disliked playing against the Caro-Kann, wisely chose this defence and, though his opening methods were not exactly such that the purist might approve he still completely outplayed his youthful opponent in the middle-game stages.

Horne’s ingenuity in the opening was the cause of his downfall, since it merely led to the loss of a pawn and eventually a lost ending. His play in this game was an ominous presage of what was to come as it was quite lacking in his usual incisive quality.

Round 2—Thursday 31 December 1953
Tolush ½-½ Bronstein Nimzo-Indian 21
O'Kelly ½-½ Olafsson King's Indian Defence 48
Tartakower ½-½ Alexander Dutch Defence 46
Horne 0-1 Matanovic Pirc 32
Wade 0-1 Teschner Bishop's Opening 50

The all-important meeting between the two Russians was short but none the less full of incident. The situation at this stage was that Tolush would be well content with a draw, whereas Bronstein must win if he wished to recover lost ground. The opening was a well-known variation of the Nimzowitsch Defence, which Szabo had played without success against Kotov at Budapest, 1950. But Bronstein had worked out an improvement for Black which he had been hoping to play in the Candidates’ Tournament in Switzerland but which he had no occasion to do until now. When the move was played it appeared to have almost a paralytic effect on Tolush, who did not reply for an hour and ten minutes. What he did play seemed to lead to equality—a not altogether satisfactory result for White, but good enough for this occasion.

The Kotov-Szabo game went 8 ..., Kt—K 5; 9 Q—Q 3, Kt— B4; 10 Q—B 2, PxP; 11 BxP, KtxP; 12 B—Kt5 ch, P—B3; 13 Q x Kt, Q—R 4 ch; 14 K—K 2, Qx B ch; 15 QxQ, PxQ, with an ending of a drawish character, though Black eventually lost.

Teschner came into the lead by winning rather luckily against Wade. The latter soon lost the initiative in the opening and Teschner, playing vigorously, won a pawn and looked set for an easy win. Then, however, he took matters too lightly and allowed Wade distinct counterchances when the diagrammed position was reached (Diagram 5). Here, as Wade himself points out in the bulletin, White has good chances of perpetual check after 50 ..., P—Kt 5; 51 K—B 1, Q—Kt 7; 52 Q—B 4, but he was quite oblivious of the fact that he was was in time-trouble and it came as a great surprise to him when it was pointed out that he had exceeded the time limit at this point.

Olafsson obtained a favourable position out of a King’s Indian that was somewhat too simply handled by O’Kelly; but he got into desperate time-trouble (a practice with which we were to become familiar as the tournament proceeded), during which he lost a pawn. Once out of the time-scramble the young Icelander played with admirable resource and, with O’Kelly still not in the best of form nor finding the most accurate moves, he was able to rescue half a point.

Alexander was glad to escape with a draw against his redoubtable veteran opponent; for at one time his position looked most dubious. But, instead of maintaining positional pressure, Dr. Tartakower chose a speciously attractive line at the critical moment that permitted Black to free his pieces. He came down to a Rook and pawn ending a pawn up, but the ending was obviously a theoretical draw.

Horne, too, was a victim of appearances. Matanovic played the Pirc Defence, which at first glance looks just the sort of defence against which White can win in a few vigorous moves. But behind its apparent modesty lies a latent power that can hit back with all the force of a boomerang, as, indeed, Horne found out to his cost in the following game. 19 Kt—B 5 was a fatal mistake. Better was 19 BxKt. Matanovic’s subsequent play was very fine and inventive, in especial the pretty resource on his 23rd move; and there is a humorous touch about the way in which the Rook is trapped right at the end.

Round 3—Friday 1 January 1954
Bronstein 1-0 O'Kelly Ruy Lopez Classical 70
Wade 1-0 Tolush Nimzo-Indian 31
Olafsson 1-0 Tartakower QGD Slav 70
Alexander 1-0 Horne Ruy Lopez Steinitz Deferred 25
Teschner ½-½ Matanovic Queen's Indian 75

A sensational round packed with interest—a British victory over a Russian grandmaster, missed opportunities mingled with heart-breaking lapses that threw away games after hours of strenuous effort, and even some sound chess—what more could the spectator want. Certainly the present writer had his fill of excitement and he qualifies for the above description, since on this day he was asked by one dear old lady, “Are you a player, too?” to which honesty compelled him to make the mournful reply, “No, only a spectator.”

Wade’s win over Tolush quite upset the forecasts that the Russians would dominate the tournament and brought his score against them to 1½ out of 2—a wonderful record. For some time it seemed in the actual game that it was Wade who was doomed to disaster not Tolush. He had a rather inferior position in the early middlegame and after Tolush had refused the proposed draw on move 19 the Russian grandmaster worked up a powerful attack. But he failed to find the best line and Wade counter-attacked strongly with a fine and successful mating finish.

For many, many hours Bronstein could make no impression on O’Kelly. The Classical Defence, on which the Belgian is the world’s leading authority, gave him complete equality and, though Bronstein managed to get some pressure in the middle game it was never really convincing. Eventually the following ending was reached (Diagram 7). Here 66 ..., Kt—K8 ch, breaking the mating net White has created, would have been good enough to draw. Instead of which O’Kelly played 66 . .., P—R4! and after 67 R—Q 1, K—R 7; 68 R—Q 2, PxP; 69 RxKt ch, K—R6; 70 R—Kt 1 Black resigned, since if 70 .... K—R 7; 71 R—Kt 1, P—Kt6; 72 P—Kt 4 dis ch, K—R6; 73 R—R 1 mate.

Through his weakness in end-game play Teschner Black to play missed a golden opportunity of retaining the lead with three full points. It seems a pity that a player who knows the openings so well and can produce such excellent middle-game ideas should be so defective in the ending. For, in his game against Matanovic, after conducting a complicated middle-game in admirable style he repeatedly missed the right line in the ending and had to be content with a draw.

Long before the finish of the above two games Alexander had given evidence that he was in splendid form by overwhelming a rather limp and lame defence by Horne in 25 moves. This made him equal first with Teschner, with 2½ points, and by now it was clear that no matter how the wintry winds were blowing at Hastings the sun was shining bright for British chess.

A long hard game between the oldest player in the tournament, Dr. Tartakower, and the youngest, Olafsson, led to a crop of errors in the ending. In the adjoined position (Diagram 8) White has a comfortable win after 50 R—K1, cutting off the Black King from his passed pawn. Instead of which he played 50 K—B1, K—K3; 51 K—K 2, P—B 4; 52 R—Q 3, P—Kt 5; 53 R—Q Kt 3, P—Kt4; 54 R—Q 3, P—R4; 55 R—K 3 ch, KxP; 56 R—Q3 ch, K—K 2; 57 R—Q 5, P—Kt5; 58 RxBP, K—K 3; 59 R—Q Kt 5, B—B 2; 60 P—Q Kt 3, K—B 3; 61 R—Kt7, B—K 4; 62 R—Kt 5, P—R 6; 63 PxP, PxP; 64 K—B 3, P—R7; 65 K—Kt 2, K—B 4; 66 RxRP, K—K 5; 67 R—B5? (now he could have won by 67 R x B ch), B—Q 3 ? (there was a draw by 67 . .., B—B 6, when Black’s King cannot be prevented from winning the Queen’s Knight’s pawn); 68 R—B 4 ch, K—Q6; 69 P—B 4, K—K 6; 70 P—B 5, Resigns.

Round 4—Saturday 2 January 1954
Tartakower 0-1 Bronstein Sicilian 64
O'Kelly 1-0 Wade QGD Orthodox 30
Horne 1-0 Olafsson King's Gambit Accepted 32
Matanovic ½-½ Alexander Ruy Lopez Classical 23
Tolush 1-0 Teschner QGD Tarrasch 31

Bronstein came up to equal first as a result of a somewhat fortunate win over Dr. Tartakower. It is true that the veteran grandmaster’s opening was far from good and that in consequence Bronstein soon got the upper hand to such an extent that he won a pawn. But then Dr. Tartakower recovered to obtain a level position. Fatigued by the long fight, he began to see hallucinations of winning prospects and this explains his play in the diagrammed position (Diagram 9). Instead of 47 K—Kt1, protecting his King’s-side pawns, White played 47 K—K 3 ?, R— K Kt 7; 48 P—R 4, P—Kt5; 49 Kt—K 5 ch, K—B 3; 50 K—B 4, R—K 7, when he was in a mating net out of which he could only emerge by giving up a piece with 51 KtxP ch.

Matanovic and Alexander walked a tight-rope over an abyss of combinations and a most exciting game ended justly in a draw.

O’Kelly marked his return to normal form by defeating Wade with the precision of a well-oiled machine; but Wade seemed tired after his great exertions in the previous rounds, as appears in the game. To add to Black’s troubles he was under desperate time pressure from move 18 onwards.

Tolush gave a glimpse of what he is really capable by defeating Teschner with a murderous King’s-side attack in true grandmaster style. Horne broke his run of defeats by winning against Olafsson, but his victory was a fortunate one as Olafsson blundered in the following position (Diagram 11), when the Icelander actually had the better game. Instead of playing 27...KR—K 1, when he would have held the advantage, Black now lost by 27 .... BxKP!; 28 R—Q B 1, Q—Q 3; 29 RxB, Q—B 5; 30 R(K 6)—Q B 6, R—B 2; 31 Q—R 8 ch, K—Q 2; 32 R—Q 1 ch, Resigns.

Round 5—Monday 4 January 1954
Bronstein (3) 1-0 Horne (1) Nimzo-Indian 31
Wade (1½) 0-1 Tartakower (1½) QGD Slav 24
Tolush (2½) 0-1 O'Kelly (1½) Nimzo-Indian 68
Olafsson (1½) ½-½ Matanovic (2) Queen's Indian 39
Teschner (2½) ½-½ Alexander (3) Ruy Lopez Classical 39

By beating Horne in no uncertain fashion Bronstein came into the sole lead with 4 points. This was a real grandmaster game in which Horne quite comprehensibly found himself unable to withstand Bronstein’s deep and subtle attack. Few players in the world could, indeed, do so when Bronstein is in this form.

Teschner had prepared a variation for Alexander’s Classical Defence to the Ruy Lopez and, indeed, contrived to secure a marked advantage out of the opening. But since he twice missed chances of hammering this advantage home it was only just that the balance of power should swing over to Black in the later stages and if anyone was unlucky it was Alexander, since he won a pawn only to find that the resulting Rook-and-pawn ending could not be more than a draw.

Tolush tried for a King’s-side attack against O’Kelly but, finding this of no use against O’Kelly’s accurate defence, proposed a draw on the 32nd move. Meanwhile, however, Tolush had got into time-trouble and compromised his position to some extent on the Queen’s side. O’Kelly therefore quite rightly refused the offer and then proceeded to play some of the best chess of the tournament, so that yet another win was scored against the unfortunate grandmaster.

Olafsson-Matanovic was a level struggle throughout, conducted with considerable skill and imagination by the two youngest players of the tournament. Wade came badly unstuck against Dr. Tartakower.

Round 6—Tuesday 5 January 1954
Horne (1) ½-½ Wade (1½) Sicilian 31
Matanovic (2½) ½-½ Bronstein (4) Caro-Kann 37
O'Kelly (2½) ½-½ Teschner (3) QGD Orthodox 21
Alexander (3½) ½-½ Olafsson (2) Sicilian 28
Tartakower (2½) 0-1 Tolush (2½) King's Indian Defence 63

A day of reaction, or possibly recuperation, in which the chess was of inferior quality to that in previous rounds.

O’Kelly and Teschner had a “grandmaster” draw in a position where the game had only just begun and Horne, after playing the opening well and establishing a clear advantage got into time-trouble during which he missed a winning chance in the diagrammed position (Diagram 13). Faced with the prospect of Kt—B 7 ch, winning back the exchange, White pinned the Queen by 30 Q—R 1, when Black forced a draw by 30 . .., Kt—B 7 ch; 31 K—Kt 1, Kt—R 6 db ch, etc. Instead White should have played 30 P—Kt 3, as Wade pointed out immediately after the game, and if then 30 ..., Kt—B 7 ch; 31 K—Kt 2, Kt x B; 32 PxKt, QxP; 33 Q—Q 5, and wins.

Alexander and Olafsson had a difficult variation of the Sicilian in which White attacked on the King’s side whilst Black countered (adequately) on the other wing. Both players got into acute time-trouble and both were relieved to agree a draw rather than risk spoiling the position in a time scramble.

Dr. Tartakower soon lost the initiative through passive play in the opening against Tolush and, though the game was adjourned and lasted a long time, he never really looked like saving the game. It appears that Dr. Tartakower had entertained some hopes of the draw on adjournment, but these were quenched soon enough. For in the evening he told me, with infinite satisfaction, “To-day l had the biggest stroke of luck in my tournament career. My first three moves after the adjournment were all direct mistakes. But on examining the game afterwards l discovered I was lost in any case, so these three blunders did not matter.”

The most entertaining game of the round was that between Matanovic and Bronstein, in which both players showed wonderful ingenuity. In the end Bronstein won a pawn but Matanovic had sufficient compensation in a dangerous passed pawn that was enough to draw.

Round 7—Wednesday 6 January 1954
Bronstein (4½) 0-1 Alexander (4) Dutch Defence 120
Wade (2) ½-½ Matanovic (3) King's Indian Defence 35
Tolush (3½) 1-0 Horne (1½) QGD Albin Counter Gambit 29
O'Kelly (3) 1-0 Tartakower (2½) King's Indian Defence 70
Teschner (3½) 0-1 Olafsson (2½) Ruy Lopez, Morphy Defence 36

1953/54 David Bronstein v Hugh Alexander
Hastings 1953/54, Round 7, 6 January 1954: Hugh Alexander beats David Bronstein

The great day of the meeting between the two leaders will remain long in the recollection of those present. A larger crowd of spectators had assembled than I ever remember seeing at the Hastings Chess Congress and they were not disappointed. Bronstein’s adoption of the Staunton Gambit showed that he did not intend to play for a draw; but as the game wore on and became first dubious and then lost for him he must have regretted not having tried a more conservative policy. For, had he played for a draw from the start there is little doubt that Alexander, as Black, would not have been able to try for more himself than the half point and this result would have sufficed to retain Bronstein’s lead. As it was, Alexander, playing great chess, eventually won a memorable game that brought him into the lead himself. This game will duly appear in the Games Section when space and opportunity is provided.

Teschner built up an overwhelming position against Olafsson, but both players got into severe time-trouble. In-the time scramble, curiously enough, it was Teschner who went astray despite the fact that he was not in quite such desperate straits for time as his opponent.

Dr. Tartakower again threw away half a point, partly through fatigue and partly through an hallucination that he had winning chances in a drawn position. O’Kelly’s triumphant recovery was thereby much aided.

Wade conjured up a fierce attack against Matanovic, which the latter was only just able to parry. He offered up a piece for the attack, but Matanovic wisely declined the offer and after many exchanges a drawn ending was reached.

Horne tried to upset his opponent by an Albin Counter Gambit. Tolush refused to be shaken, took what was offered and then won quickly by an incisive counterattack.

Round 8—Thursday 7 January 1954
Alexander (5) ½-½ Wade (2½) French 35
Matanovic (3½) 1-0 Tolush (3½) Sicilian 46
Tartakower (2½) 0-1 Teschner (3½) King's Indian Defence 44
Olafsson (3½) 0-1 Bronstein (4½) Sicilian 34
Horne (1½) ½-½ O'Kelly (4) Sicilian 63

As Alexander only drew with Wade he fell back to equal first with Bronstein. Indeed, though he obtained an opening advantage, Wade defended so well that when the draw was agreed such winning chances as existed were in favour of Wade.

Matanovic and Tolush had a most interesting game in which both players skated on very thin ice; but it was Tolush who fell through.

Horne, who had met O’Kelly once before—at Southsea, where the Belgian master was lucky to escape with a draw—once again proved a stumbling block. He soon had acquired a won game but missed the easiest winning line and a heroic resistance by O’Kelly saved the half point.

Dr. Tartakower’s opening methods against Teschner were far from happy and he soon lost a pawn with the worse position, after which his game was hopelessly gone.

Bronstein was in difficulties for some time against Olafsson, who played the first part of the game very well indeed. But once again the young Icelander consumed too much time in the process and in the diagrammed position (Diagram 17), instead of playing Kt—Q 5, with a safe pawn to the good, he committed a losing blunder with 32 R(Q 2)—K B 2?, Q—B 2; 33 Q—R 3, R—B8; 34 R—B 3, B x Kt; White resigned.

Round 9—Friday 8 January 1954
Bronstein (5½) 1-0 Teschner (4½) Ruy Lopez Morphy 68
Wade (3) 0-1 Olafsson (3½) King's Indian Defence 40
O'Kelly (4½) 1-0 Matanovic (4½) Nimzo-Indian 57
Tolush (4½) 0-1 Alexander (5½) Dutch Defence 28
Tartakower (2½) 1-0 Horne (2) English 36

Both leaders won in this last round—but in very different fashion and with a great disparity in time. The variable Tolush, playing perhaps the worst chess of his life, was soundly trounced by Alexander long before the morning’s session was over. Bronstein, on the other hand, soon got into trouble against Teschner, and when the game was adjourned was a pawn down with much the inferior position. That he recovered from all this and even managed to evolve a win is an amazing example of his wonderful powers of resource. In the diagrammed position (Diagram 18), though still a pawn down, he is about to launch the final attack. Play proceeded 53 Kt—R 4, R—K 5; 54 Kt—Kt 6 ch, K—R 2; 55 Q—Kt 1, P—Q4; 56 Q—Kt 6, Kt—Kt4; 57 Kt—B 8 ch, K—Kt 1; 58 Kt—Kt 6, R—K Kt 5; 59 Q—R 7, Rx P ch; 60 K—R 2, R— R 6 ch; 61 K—Kt 2, Q—K 1; 62 R—Q Kt 1, Kt—B 2; 63 R—Kt 8, Kt—Q1; 64 KxR, Q—K 3 ch; 65 K—Kt 3, Q—KB 3; 66 Q—K 7, QxQ; 67 KtxQ ch, K—B2; 68 RxKt, Resigns.

So Alexander and Bronstein tied for first place with 6½ points and it is an interesting example of Bronstein’s prophetic powers that this was exactly the total he said would be required to win first prize at the very start of the congress.

O’Kelly came deservedly into third place by a very firm win over Matanovic. Having first brought his King to the centre and prepared his other pieces for the attack he now played in the diagrammed position (Diagram 19): 42 P—R 6 ch, K—R 1 (if42 ..., Kx P; 43 B—K 6, Kt—R 2; 44 Q—R 2 ch, K—Kt 2; 45 R—K R 1, R—R 1; 46 Q—R 6 ch, K—Kt 1; 47 Q—Kt 6 ch and mates next move); 43 B— K 6, Kt—R2; 44 BxP, R—K B 1; 45 B—Kt 6, Kt—Kt4; 46 Q—B 5, Q—Q 1; 47 B—R 5, Kt—R2; 48 B—Kt 6, Kt—Kt 4; 49 K—B 2, Kt—B2; 50 B x Kt, R x B; 51 Q—Kt 6, Q—K Kt 1; 52 Q x Qch, K x Q; 53 R—K R 1, K—R 2; 54 K—B 3, P—B4; 55 P x P, R x P ch; 56 K—K 4, R—Kt 4; 57 P—Q 6, Resigns.

Horne had the better of it out of the opening against Dr. Tartakower but let his advantage slip and then even proceeded to lose through a desire to win a drawn position. Olafsson won the most brilliant game of the tournament and this game will duly appear in the Games Section with notes by the loser for once.

1953/54 Hastings Premier Reserves Major

1953/54 Hastings Premier Reserves Major Nat'y/Resid 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10  Total 
1 Peter Hugh Clarke Ilford
&;
½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 6
2 Zoltan Kovacs Austria ½
&;
½ 1 0 1 1 1 0 1 6
3 Baruch Harold Wood Sutton Coldfield ½ ½
&;
1 1 1 ½ 0 ½ ½
4 Sylvain Burstein France 1 0 0
&;
1 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 5
5 Victor Ivanovich Soultanbeieff Belgium ½ 1 0 0
&;
1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 5
6 Miroslav Radojcic Yugoslavia ½ 0 0 1 0
&;
0 1 1 1
7 Edward Guthlac Sergeant Kingston-upon-Thames 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 1
&;
½ ½ 1
8 Henry Vickers White Trevenen Cornwall 0 0 1 0 ½ 0 ½
&;
1 1 4
9 Gino Fletzer Italy 0 1 ½ ½ 0 0 ½ 0
&;
1
10 Derek Francis Kenneth Griffiths Birmingham 0 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 0 0 0
&;
1

Having played through all the games in this section, I must confess to a feeling of disappointment as to the quality of the chess; it does not begin to compare with that of the Premier Reserves before the war. In those days the tournament used to contain some of the best of the younger European players and they used to produce some really fine chess. For one reason or another the foreign opposition has become poorer in these young masters. Perhaps under the impetus of the great success of the Premier this time, next year’s Reserves will be back again to something like the old standard.

One bright aspect of this section, however, was the share in first prize by the twenty-year-old London player, Clarke. Here is his best game with notes by the winner. [Clarke-Sergeant]

Soultanbeieff had the following finish against the other first prize-winner, Kovacs (Diagram 20). Play went: 43 . .., Q—Q 5 ch; 44 K— R1, Q x P; 45 Q—Q 3, Q—K5; 45 Q—Kt 5, Q—K 8; 47 K—Kt 1, Q—K 6 ch, and White resigns, since he has no defence against 48 K—R 1, Q—B 7.

Many of my readers will remember the young French player Burnstein [sic - it should be Burstein], who took part in the World Junior Championship Tournament at Birmingham in 1951. Here he is administering a severe defeat to the veteran Soultanbeieff.

The West of England player, Trevenen, did not have the best of luck in the tournament. He deserved a much higher place in the table and played some of the best chess in the section. Evidence of this is furnished by the following game, which was much better than anything else played in this tournament. [Wood-Trevenen]

1953/54 Hastings P J Verhoeff analysing with Gino Fletzer
Hastings 1953/54: PJ Verhoeff (left) of the Netherlands analysing with Gino Fletzer (Italy) - photo dated 30 December 1953.

OTHER SECTIONS

Premier Reserves A

1-2 Michael Davis, Norman Littlewood 6/9; 3-4 Brian J Moore, P J Verhoeff [related to Abraham Verhoeff?] 5; 5-6 Percy Baldwin Cook, Raaphi Persitz 4½; 7-8 Ronald Mackay Bruce, Heinrich Jühe (Germany) 4; 9 Clifford G Tayar 3½; 10 Lawrence Alfred John Glyde 2½.

Premier Reserves B

1 Peter Harris 6½/9; 2 Edmond Noel Mulcahy 6; 3 James E Pattle 5; 4-5 Simone Bussers (Belgium), Otto H Hardy 4½; 6-9 Mrs. Rowena Mary Bruce, A. Flood, J. Walker, Francis (Frank) Samuel Woolford 4; 10 Alan Edgar Nield 2½.

Premier Reserves C

1 Harry Gethin Thorp Matchett 8/9; 2 James J Walsh 6½; 3-4 O. C. Gardiner, Bruce Halliwell 5½; 5 Anthony Beckett Bamford 4½; 6-7 A. de Jonghe, Herbert Francis Gook 4; 8 A. Frearson 3½; 9 L[awrence Henry] Appleby 2½; 10 L. Turnovsky 1.

Premier Reserves D

1-2 J. B. [Edward James Barry?] Harmer, John James O’Hanlon 6/8; 3 W. Addison [the US player?] 5½; 4 P. A. Cooke 4½; 5 G. F. Ramsay 3½; 6-7 Alfred Dudley Barlow, Jasper Robertson Greenop 3; 8 G. L. Kelly 2½; 9 Willington Lucette Wakefield 2.

Major A

1 Raymond Frederick Streater 8½/9; 2-3 William John Thornton Dunstan, William Nicholas Savile Calvert 5½; 4 Ronald Ernest Rushbrook 5; 5-7 Rev. Henry Middleton Blackett, Bertram Goulding Brown, B. A. Cross 4½; 8-9 (Edward) Douglas Fawcett, B. H. Turner 2½; 10 A. E. Harris 2.

Major B

1 Gregory Owen J Melitus 6½/9; 2-3 Lewis James Worsell, Harold G Newsum 6; 4 Patrick Humphrey Sullivan 5½; 5 J. Edge 4½; 6-7 Keith Edward Charles Budge, William John Clare Hart Burges 4; 8 Ernest Ephraim Weedon 3½; 9-10 A. K. Henderson, Geoffrey George Homan 2½.

Major C

1 Reginald John Manfield 7½/9; 2-3 Edward Cecil Baker, William Edward Busbridge 6; 4 Sir John Charles Walton 5½; 5 Miss (Jean) Lesley (Mary) (Elliott-)Fletcher 5; 6-7 H. Cohen, J. H. Wall 4; 8 H. B. Howard 3½; 9 Eric J Seymour (High Wycombe) 3; 10 C. Berry ½.

First Class

1 George Arthur Peck 8½/9; 2 J. G. Lawrence 7; 3 G. Booth 6; 4 L. L. M. Jones 5½; 5 W. H. Jones 5; 6 P. Smith 4½; 7 A. C. Hopkinson 4; 8 Mrs. C. Lewis 2½; 9 Samuel Frederick Dalladay 2; 10 J. Holmes 0.

Second Class

1 David J Casiot 6½/8; 2-4 C. Upton, A. H. Harris, John Derby Bloxham Hyde 5½; 5-6 M. Cowley, F[rederick?] C[larence?] Shorter 4½; 7-8 Miss N. F. Harris, B. R. Unsworth 2; 10 Mrs. Laura Ethel Amelia Start (née Whitehouse) 0.

Third Class

1-2 Michael Stuart Brignall, A. Gibbs 9/10; 3 G. Ramsey 6½; 4-5 Mrs. F. Beard, Robert A J Riddle 6; 6-8 J. A. Day, T. I. Maylan, A. W. Driver 5½; 9 Patrick A G Butcher 4½; 10 A. Hayles 2½; 10 Miss G. M. Flynn 1.


The Times, 8 December 1953

RUSSIAN ENTRY FOR HASTINGS CHESS - BRONSTEIN AND TOLUSH TO PLAY - BY OUR CHESS CORRESPONDENT

For the first time since 1934 two chess masters from the Soviet Union are to compete in the annual congress at Hastings, from December 30 to January 9. They are Bronstein and Tolush.

The entry for the Premier Tournament also includes Dr. Tartakower (France), O’Kelly (Belgium), Matanovic (Yugoslavia), Teschner (Germany), Olafsson (Iceland), Alexander and Wade (Great Britain). It is likely that the tenth place will be filled by Eliot Hearst, of New York, one of the most promising of the younger American players.

This entry has claims to be the most varied ever seen at Hastings. The two Russians, who are recognized as grand masters by the International Chess Federation, will be first favourites. In January Tolush won first prize in an international tournament at Bucharest, and the career of David Bronstein is studded with successes, including a drawn match with Botwinnik for the world championship and a share of second place in the recent candidates tournament in Switzerland.

GOOD OPPOSITION

Nevertheless, the opposition facing them will not be negligible, ranging from the veteran Dr. Tartakower, many times first prize-winner at Hastings, to the youthful Fridrik Olafsson, not yet 20 years of age and already champion of Iceland.

Probably their chief rivals will be Matanovic, who won a big international toumament in Yugoslavia in October, and O’Kelly, who has a fine record in international chess.

The British entry is expected to do well. Alexander won first prize at Hastings in 1946 and Wade has been continually improving since he came to Europe in 1946.

Entries for the other events are coming in well, but there is still room for players in all sections, and those wishing to take part should send in their entry as soon as possible to the director of the congress, Mr. F. A. Rhoden, Hastings Chess Club, 7, Carlisle Parade, Hastings, Sussex.


Note: what the Times and the BCM both fail to mention was that the Catalan/Spanish player Román Bordell Rosell, who won the 1952/53 Hastings Premier Reserves Major tournament, was invited but later uninvited for fear that the Soviet players would be withdrawn because of the inclusion of a Spanish player. This became a cause célèbre which Edward Winter has covered at some length: https://www.chesshistory.com/winter/extra/bordell.html


The Times, 14 December 1953

HASTINGS CHESS ENTRY COMPLETE

D. M. Horne will fill the vacant place in the premier tournament at the Hastings chess congress which opens on December 30, as Eliot Hearst, of New York, has been unable to accept the committee’s invitation. Horne was the only player to beat the Canadian, D. A. Yanofsky, who won the British championship in August.


The Times, 7 January 1954

CRUCIAL ROUND AT CHESS CONGRESS - ALEXANDER’S FINE GAME WITH BRONSTEIN
FROM OUR CHESS CORRESPONDENT HASTINGS, Jan. 6

The great game in round seven of the premier chess tournament at Hastings was between Bronstein and Alexander. Bronstein adopted the Staunton gambit against the Dutch defence, could make no progress, and, feeling that his attack was no longer sufficient to compensate for the pawn sacrifice, offered a draw on the seventeenth move. Alexander rightly refused, as a draw would have left him half a point behind Bronstein, whereas a win would reverse their positions.

In the middle game the British player gained the upper hand, and at the first adjournment was two pawns to the good in a queen and pawn ending. Play was resumed for two hours, during which Alexander made steady progress and when the game was adjourned a second time he looked to have a won ending. Late to-night the game was adjourned for the third time without much change in the position. It will be resumed to-morrow afternoon, and Alexander still retains a good winning chance. Whatever the result, it is a fine achievement for the British ex-champion to have so far outplayed one of the world's grand masters.


The Times, 8 January 1954

STRUGGLE FOR CHESS LEAD - TOLUSH BEATEN IN VITAL GAME
FROM OUR CHESS CORRESPONDENT HASTINGS, Jan. 7

The competition for first place in the Hastings premier chess tournament is resolving itself into a struggle between Alexander and Bronstein. Although it is possible for any one of four players to reach them by winning in the last round, the margin of a one-point lead at this stage is great.

Temporarily, Bronstein is in the lead with 5½ points, but it is now fairly dear that he will lose his adjourned game against Alexander, thus enabling the British master to draw level with him. This game was again adjourned to-night. For most of the time Bronstein has been angling for a draw by perpetual check, but Alexander has avoided all danger of this and has made progress with his extra passed pawn, leaving him in a strong position.

All the games in round eight were bitterly contested, with the players making every effort to get within reach of the leading places. Alexander had the better position out of the opening against Wade and for some time appeared to be winning, but Wade found a clever resource by which be gave up a pawn to beat back the attack and procure for himself counter-chances. Though the game was adjourned it was agreed a draw without further play.

INGENIOUS PLAY

Bronstein, too, might well have been forced to concede a draw against Olafsson since he had no advantage whatsoever for most of the game. Then Olafsson’s besetting weakness for consuming too much time began to play a part in the issue of the game. Bronstein ingeniously sacrificed a pawn so as to complicate the position and when the time pressure was at an end Olafsson found that he was obliged to lose a piece.

Matanovic showed what a fine player he is by beating Tolush in a game abounding in combinational complexities, thereby depriving the Russian master of a golden opportunity of coming into the lead. Tartakower lost a pawn early on against Teschner after which he was given no chance to recover; while Horne, after establishing a won position against O'Kelly, could not find a direct winning line and had to be content with a draw.


The Times, 9 January 1954

TIE FOR FIRST PLACE IN HASTINGS CHESS - ALEXANDER AND BRONSTEIN FINISH LEVEL

The Premier tournament of the Hastings Chess Congress ended in a tie, a few minutes before midnight last night, between the British player Alexander and the Russian Bronstein with 6½ points each.

Alexander had brought his score to 6½ earlier in the day by a quick victory over Tolush (U.S.S.R.) and by winning his five times adjourned game against Bronstein after 120 moves. Bronstein had then to beat Teschner (Germany) if he was to equal Alexander’s score. He made an unpromising start, but after an adjournment recovered to win the game and tie for first place in the tournament.

[page 3 of the same edition]

HASTINGS CHESS TIE - ALEXANDER’S FINE EFFORT
FROM OUR CHESS CORRESPONDENT - HASTINGS, Jan. 8

The Premier Tournament of the Hastings Chess Congress has ended in a tie between the British master C. H. O’D. Alexander and the Soviet master Bronstein, with 6½ points each.

Play in the ninth round had been at first overshadowed by the adjourned game still pending between Alexander and Bronstein. This extraordinary game, remarkable both for its length and for the fine quality of the chess it contained, was duly finished to-day, and resulted in a win for Alexander after 120 moves and some five adjournments.

Alexander confirmed his hold on the lead by disposing of Tolush in the strikingly short number of 28 moves. It is true that Tolush seemed far from his best or even normal form, and played several weak moves; nevertheless, Alexander’s vigorous and elegant exploitation of the weaknesses created by Tolush was admirable.

GOOD RECOVERY

This result gave Alexander 6½ points and meant that Bronstein had to beat Teschner to come level. At first Teschner got the upper hand, but when the game was resumed in the evening after an adjournment Bronstein showed his greatness as a player by making, perhaps, the most astonishing recovery of the whole tournament. He lavished a wealth of combinational ingenuity on the position and after three hours' more play had completely turned the tables on Teschner. Working his queen, knight, and rook in beautiful cooperation, Bronstein constructed a mating net that forced Teschner’s resignation at five minutes to 12 in the evening, thereby coming equal to Alexander.


The Daily Mirror, 11 January 1954, page 4 - "Cassandra" column

Daily Mirror, 11 January 1954 - Cassandra on chess
"Cassandra" voices his opinion on Alexander-Bronstein

"Cassandra" [William Connor], notable Daily Mirror columnist, voices his opinion on Alexander-Bronstein in the 11 January 1954 edition, page 4:

Pawns and Politics: Meet Mr. A. This is what they say of him: "Young and gay." "Genius, nerve and will—all concealed beneath a surface of unbroken elegance." "His whole body moves with his mind." "His face lights up with a successful thought." "Courteous, part-donnish, part-Irish." "Dynamic, aggressive, full of ideas." "Chivalrous and determined."

Mr. A, you will observe, is quite a fellow.

Now meet Mr. B. This is what they say of him: "The self-confidence of a great musician." "A delightful smile and an air of extreme sensibility." "Like an experienced surgeon about to make a critical incision, remote and cool." "Smiling gallantry." "All attractiveness and quiet charm.”

Mr. B. you will also observe is quite a fellow.

Mr. A. is Mr. Hugh Alexander. Mr. B. is Mr. David Bronstein. Both Messrs. A. and B. play chess and play it superbly well; the one for Great Britain, the other for the Soviet Union.

In a great chess contest at Hastings they played each other "for hour after hour and day after day." In the end this artistic and intellectual pair fought to a draw [sic].

But it was what our Mr. Alexander said at the end of this contest that interested me most. He commented: "When we read our papers and visualise what we read, we shall not think of the Russians as a number of sinister and alien creatures sitting in the Kremlin, we shall think of our friend David Bronstein. And when our Russian friends go back and read their papers they will be able to think of us not as top-hatted capitalists or downtrodden workers, but as friends."

It is a cosy and chubby view. It is full of praiseworthy amiability. It is the essence of polite geniality and almost cuddlesome goodwill.

But it is nevertheless astonishing coming from Mr. Alexander.

For he is not only a chess player, he is a professional expert on foreign affairs—he is a Foreign Office official and is there regarded as a man of great capability.

Does he really suggest that the vast tyrannical regime of the Soviet Union holding down at least 2,500,000 slaves (the figure is the Foreign Office’s own) can be influenced in their attitude to Great Britain by the charming civilities of civilised, well-intentioned folk sitting down at the same chess table?

Who is the pleasant pawn in this playful business?


File Updated

Date Notes
(some years ago) Games previously uploaded as part of a collection of Hastings games
8 June 2022 Uploaded in the current format, adding games from subsidiary sections, crosstables, reports and results.