29 May 2007

More World Championship Qualifiers?

The question raised in Groningen 1946: A World Championship Qualifier?, reminded me of another exchange on a similar subject.

Subject: New York 1927; AVRO 1938
Date: Fri, 28 Jul 2006 00:57:30 -0700

Thanks a million for the information on the World Champions. The thoroughness of your work reveals that it is a labor of love for you. For this reason I was surprised that you don't have the games from the 1927 New York and 1938 AVRO tournaments. Both of these tournaments were considered "Candidates Tournaments" in their day. You can get the games, as I'm sure you are aware, from


I used your 1948 FIDE World Championship Match table as a template to make the tables for the above-mentioned tournaments. If you want me to, I'll send them to you.



Subject: Re: New York 1927; AVRO 1938
Date: Thu, 3 Aug 2006 18:07:11 +0200

Thanks for your message. Sorry for the delay in responding. I wanted to double check the facts about the two events that you mention. Unfortunately, it appears that neither event was a candidate tournament when it was played.

New York 1927 was supposed to be a candidate tournament, but Alekhine had already challenged Capablanca. He threatened to drop out of the event unless the candidate clause was dropped, which it was.

Although Botvinnik started match negotiations with Alekhine at AVRO (Amsterdam) 1938, the event was won by Keres and Fine. When the discussions with Botvinnik stalled, there was some talk of an Alekhine - Keres match, because of Keres' first place on tiebreak. This talk ended when WWII broke out.

Anyway, I would be happy to have your tables. Perhaps I can work them in somehow as 'almost candidate tournaments'. - Best regards, Mark


Subject: RE: New York 1927; AVRO 1938
Date: Thu, 3 Aug 2006 10:53:13 -0700

I bow to your wisdom in these matters, but consider these points:

Keres, in his Complete Games (page 125 in my paperback edition) regarding the AVRO tournament states, "The winner would have the right to a match with Alekhine." Next, on page 128, "So I shared first and second prizes with Fine, but obtained the right to challenge the world-champion, Alekhine."

P. W. Sergeant, in his book Championship Chess gives a footnote regarding the New York 1927 Tournament: "It appears that it was vital for Alekhine to take at least second place in this tournament to establish his right to a match for the Championship; but I have not been able to trace when Capalanca laid down this condition, if he did so. It could not be considered as an unfriendly gesture, however, in view of Nimzovitch's claim."

I noticed that you have a few matches that are relevant to the Championship series, while not exactly a part of it, such as the exhibition match between Staunton and St. Amant, and the exhibition match between Lasker and Janowski. With this in mind I thought New York 1927, AVRO 1938, and though I forgot to mention it in my last note, Cambridge Springs 1904, where Marshall earned the right to challenge Lasker, would fit in well with the others. I'm sending you the crosstables for these tournaments, in case you decide to use them.

Now that I think of it, I made the NY27 and AVRO38 tables using your 1948 as a template, but the CS1904 table I copied from some place I found on the Internet.



Subject: Re: New York 1927; AVRO 1938
Date: Sat, 5 Aug 2006 18:08:51 +0200

Thanks for the files. I'll keep them in a safe place and hope to use them some day soon.

There is no question that the events you mention are an important part of the history of the World Championship. In fact, there is a story behind the negotiations for every match (and near-match) of the pre-FIDE era. Unfortunately, I have never taken the time to research them properly. I find they are fairly well documented in Winter's book on the 'World Chess Champions' and Kasparov's books on his 'Great Predecessors'.

Sergeant's 'It appears' comment is curious. Cafferty, who wrote the chapter on Alekhine in Winter's book, was certain that the Capablanca - Alekhine match had been agreed before the New York 1927 tournament started. A timeline of the most significant actions would be useful.

When I read the entire paragraph on p.125 of Keres' book, I understand that the candidates' event was an idea of Euwe in conjunction with FIDE. When Euwe lost the title to Alekhine, the candidates idea was lost with it. On p.198 of the same book Keres wrote, 'Before I left for Buenos Aires [Olympiad 1939], I had agreed in principle with Dr. Euwe to play him a friendly match. Although it was a question officially of a friendly match, the general opinion in the chess-world was that the winner would have the moral right of challenging the world champion, Alekhine. My prospects of bringing about such a match through the results of the AVRO tournament, had not proved realisable.'

If you would like to discuss this further, I would suggest the forum I manage...

Forum for About Chess

...Other people might have something to contribute. Even if they don't, they would certainly find the discussion interesting. - Mark

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