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Prague Tournament

Miguel Najdorf10.5/13(+9 -1 =3)[games]
Gosta Stoltz9/13(+7 -2 =4)[games]
Petar Trifunovic9/13(+7 -2 =4)[games]
Svetozar Gligoric8.5/13(+6 -2 =5)[games]
Jan Foltys8.5/13(+6 -2 =5)[games]
Harry Golombek6.5/13(+5 -5 =3)[games]
Ludek Pachman6/13(+4 -5 =4)[games]
Jaroslav Sajtar6/13(+5 -6 =2)[games]
Miroslav Katetov5.5/13(+3 -5 =5)[games]
Cenek Kottnauer5.5/13(+3 -5 =5)[games]
Frantisek Zita4.5/13(+4 -8 =1)[games]
Carlos Guimard4.5/13(+3 -7 =3)[games]
Karel Opocensky3.5/13(+2 -8 =3)[games]
Ivan Vladimir Rohacek3.5/13(+2 -8 =3)[games]
* Chess Event Description
Prague (1946)

International chess was severely disrupted by World War II, beginning with the 1939 Olympiad at Buenos Aires. Political tensions had already affected some matches and this became more pronounced when war officially broke out during the Olympiad. Some teams and players withdrew and others remained in South America for the duration of the war. (1) The death of Alexander Alekhine in the spring of 1946 further clouded the situation. After the war ended, the FIDE conference at Winterthur, Switzerland in the summer of 1946 had to not only try to re-establish FIDE itself but also deal with the question of the world championship title. FIDE proposed a world championship tournament including five participants from the AVRO (1938) tournament: Mikhail Botvinnik, Paul Keres, Max Euwe, Samuel Reshevsky and Reuben Fine, along with Vasily Smyslov. Additionally, the winner of either Groningen (1946) or Prague 1946 (this page) would be included should they not be one of the six already seeded. (2)

Prague 1946 was conceived as a memorial to Karel Treybal and Vera Menchik who both died during the war. The possibility of advancing a player to a world championship tournament was only part of what the Prague organizers envisioned as a prestigious tournament. They had invited Botvinnik, Smyslov, Keres, Salomon Flohr, David Bronstein, Euwe, Reshevsky, and Fine. None participated, although there were expectations that they would play. The Soviets were a particular disappointment, as they declined at the last moment - citing conflict with the semifinals of their national championship. This occurred the day prior to the opening ceremony, necessitating a delayed start to the tournament. (3) Savielly Tartakower had accepted his invitation, but was delayed due to travel difficulties. He never arrived, and Karel Opocensky was chosen to replace him. (4)

All of this would weaken the prospects of the winner at Prague, Miguel Najdorf, who had remained in South America during the war, to be included in the FIDE World Championship Tournament (1948). Botvinnik won at Groningen, presumably leaving a spot open for the winner. However, politics since Winterthur had complicated the issue. Some argued that upon the death of a world champion the title should revert to the last living champion, which would be Euwe. Others held that, because a Botvinnik - Alekhine match had been agreed in principle, Botvinnik should be named champion. Others supported the idea of a championship tournament, but opposed the inclusion of additional players beyond the six named at Winterthur. Lack of consensus, the political realities of trying to bring the USSR into FIDE, and the reduced strength of the Prague event all played a part in dooming Najdorf's chances to participate in a world championship tournament (those interested in a fuller account may consult Winter's article The FIDE World Championship Tournament (1948) was finally held with the "Winterthur six" minus Fine, who had withdrawn to focus on his graduate studies.

Despite pre-tournament problems, Prague was an interesting race for first. Jan Foltys had a fast start by winning his first four games, including a win over Petar Trifunovic, one of the other contenders for the top places. But his pace slowed with two draws followed by two losses. Three draws in the final five rounds were only good enough for equal fourth with Svetozar Gligoric. Gligoric also started quite well, scoring five wins and a draw in the first six rounds, including a potentially important win against Najdorf. His hopes faded as he only won one more game, but lost two and drew four in the second half of the tournament. His blunder in Gligoric vs Stoltz, 1946 in Round 10 must have been especially painful. Trifunovic started poorly with losses to Gösta Stoltz and Foltys in the first two rounds. He lost no further games, scoring seven wins and four draws, catching up enough to finish equal second with Stoltz. Stoltz also began slowly, winning only two games while losing two and drawing three in the first seven rounds. He finished strongly, winning five and drawing one. Najdorf started well, losing only one game (Gligoric vs Najdorf, 1946) while winning six in the first seven rounds. Najdorf's draw in Round 12 (Stoltz vs Najdorf, 1946) clinched sole first place with one round left to play. He won convincingly, but in the political climate of postwar Europe his hopes of inclusion in a world championship tournament were disappointed.

Prague, Czechoslovakia, 3-21 October 1946

N S T G F G P S K K Z G O R 1 Najdorf X = = 0 = 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 10.5 =2 Stoltz = X 1 1 = 1 0 1 = 0 1 1 1 = 9 =2 Trifunovic = 0 X = 0 = = 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 9 =4 Gligoric 1 0 = X = 1 1 1 = 1 0 1 = = 8.5 =4 Foltys = = 1 = X 1 0 1 1 = 0 = 1 1 8.5 6 Golombek 0 0 = 0 0 X = = 0 1 1 1 1 1 6.5 =7 Pachman 0 1 = 0 1 = X 1 = = 0 0 0 1 6 =7 Sajtar 0 0 0 0 0 = 0 X = 1 1 1 1 1 6 =9 Katetov 0 = 0 = 0 1 = = X = 1 0 0 1 5.5 =9 Kottnauer 0 1 0 0 = 0 = 0 = X 1 = = 1 5.5 =11 Zita 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 X = 1 0 4.5 =11 Guimard 0 0 0 0 = 0 1 0 1 = = X 1 0 4.5 =13 Opocensky 0 0 0 = 0 0 1 0 1 = 0 0 X = 3.5 =13 Rohacek 0 = 0 = 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 = X 3.5

There were seven prizes of 40, 30, 20, 12, 8, 6 and 5 thousand korunas, which were paid in dollars (50 kr = 1 $). (5)

2) Winter, "Interregnum",
3) Lissowski, Mikhalchishin, & Najdorf (2005), Najdorf: Life and games.
4) New York Times, 7 October 1946, p. S8.
5) Hans Kmoch in Nieuwsblad van het Noorden, 26 October 1946, p. 2.

Original collection: Game Collection: Prague 1946, by User: crawfb5.

 page 1 of 4; games 1-25 of 91  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Gligoric vs C Guimard 1-0601946PragueC14 French, Classical
2. J Sajtar vs F Zita  1-0351946PragueD51 Queen's Gambit Declined
3. P Trifunovic vs G Stoltz  0-1421946PragueB39 Sicilian, Accelerated Fianchetto, Breyer Variation
4. Golombek vs Foltys  0-1531946PragueA22 English
5. M Katetov vs I V Rohacek  1-0401946PragueE19 Queen's Indian, Old Main line, 9.Qxc3
6. Najdorf vs Pachman 1-0471946PragueE32 Nimzo-Indian, Classical
7. G Stoltz vs M Katetov  ½-½311946PragueD38 Queen's Gambit Declined, Ragozin Variation
8. F Zita vs Golombek  0-1411946PragueB14 Caro-Kann, Panov-Botvinnik Attack
9. C Kottnauer vs I V Rohacek  1-0571946PragueA13 English
10. C Guimard vs Najdorf 0-1411946PragueD29 Queen's Gambit Accepted, Classical
11. Foltys vs P Trifunovic  1-0401946PragueD48 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, Meran
12. Pachman vs J Sajtar 1-0401946PragueB25 Sicilian, Closed
13. M Katetov vs Foltys  0-1401946PragueE21 Nimzo-Indian, Three Knights
14. Gligoric vs C Kottnauer  1-0461946PragueE29 Nimzo-Indian, Samisch
15. J Sajtar vs C Guimard  1-0501946PragueA95 Dutch, Stonewall
16. Golombek vs Pachman  ½-½371946PragueA30 English, Symmetrical
17. I V Rohacek vs G Stoltz  ½-½681946PragueA07 King's Indian Attack
18. P Trifunovic vs F Zita  1-0291946PragueA46 Queen's Pawn Game
19. Najdorf vs K Opocensky 1-0411946PragueE17 Queen's Indian
20. K Opocensky vs Gligoric  ½-½401946PragueE10 Queen's Pawn Game
21. Pachman vs P Trifunovic  ½-½621946PragueC82 Ruy Lopez, Open
22. C Guimard vs Golombek  0-1581946PragueE16 Queen's Indian
23. Foltys vs I V Rohacek  1-0501946PragueE33 Nimzo-Indian, Classical
24. K Opocensky vs J Sajtar 0-1601946PragueD94 Grunfeld
25. C Kottnauer vs G Stoltz 1-0351946PragueE06 Catalan, Closed, 5.Nf3
 page 1 of 4; games 1-25 of 91  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  Tabanus: As per 23 Dec 2015, the games are correctly dated, but the original game collection header dates are off by one day.

TfS at gives dates for rounds 1, 8 and 13. Comparing with the Dutch newspapers and with The Times, the dates are:

01 - Oct 3
02 - Oct 4
03 - Oct 5
04 - Oct 8
05 - Oct 9
06 - Oct 10
07 - Oct 11
08 - Oct 12
09 - Oct 15
10 - Oct 16
11 - Oct 17
12 - Oct 18
13 - Oct 21

with Opocensky - Kottnauer (rd. 1) played Oct. 14, and Opocensky - Gligoric (rd. 2) played Oct. 7.

Jul-14-21  syracrophy: What a tournament by Najdorf: the conqueror that left due WWII and came back to his continent to continue achieving successes. This must have been an emotionally hard event for Mr. Miguel: after losing all his previous life when staying in Argentina, then returning, playing again after war ended, where little of what he had known remained -- heartbreaking but touching.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: <syracrophy> Well said, my friend.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: After Fine declined to play in the 1948 tournament for professional reasons, I have never been certain why Najdorf was not invited.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: <perf> You sound as you had been around when that happened! (Insert laughing emoji here.)

I grew up revering Najdorf, of course. I have a photo with him. If you are on Instagram, I'll give you the link.

Dec-28-22  Sally Simpson: The topic after Fine withdrew is touched on here;

Najdorf vs Botvinnik, 1946 (kibitz #5)

"Bronstein said in his autobiography that Botvinnik kept Najdorf, an obvious replacement for Rueben Fine, out of the 1948 match tournament out of spite for this game. "

The game mentioned is Najdorf vs Botvinnik, 1946

I have Najdorf's 'Life and Games' it's full of wonderful games and background stories/anecdotes.

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