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Max Euwe vs Isaac Boleslavsky
Zuerich Candidates (1953), Zuerich SUI, rd 30, Oct-23
King's Indian Defense: Fianchetto Variation. Double Fianchetto Attack (E64)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
May-04-03  Rookpawn: This endgame illustrates a good technique in bishop vs. knight endings. If the knight is on the last file of the board, place the bishop on the same rank so that two squares separate the two pieces. Similarly, if the knight is on the last rank of the board, place the bishop on the same file with two squares in between. This will totally deprive the knight of all moves.
May-04-03  Bears092: It's called corraling a knight
Jul-31-03  PVS: Black could have won earlier with 40...Rb2. 41. Bf1 Bxf1 42. Kxf1 Bh4.
Apr-22-17  storminnorman2010: Euwe's swan song in Candidates' Tournament play. Overall, it was very disappointing for the former World Champion.
Apr-22-17  Howard: True, but then he was 52 at the time--way past his prime.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Max's chess career began just after WWI, in 1919. He was at his best (obviously!) in 1934/5.

I think the FIDE World Championship Tournament (1948) gave him a real shock. He thought he would do well, but in the 20 rounds he scored just one win. Then, in this Zurich Candidates (1953) he was second-last, +5 -10 =13. Sub-fusc.

Here is a good game he should have won in 1948: Euwe vs Smyslov, 1948.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: And here are a couple of brilliancy prize games Euwe <did> win in 1953:

Euwe vs Najdorf, 1953

Geller vs Euwe, 1953

Premium Chessgames Member

click for larger view

White's king has been corralled. It can only move from f1 to h1 and back. But Black lets him out of gaol immediately with 52...Bd6! The knight has had it.

Oct-10-17  Retireborn: <offramp> Was 1948 really a shock to Euwe? Would be interested to see any comments he made.
Oct-10-17  Howard: Keep in mind that Euwe was by far the oldest player in the event, and at the age of 47 his best years were undoubtedly behind him. On the other hand, he surely must have expected to do better than he actually did---to come in dead-last by a wide margin was undoubtedly a shock.
Oct-10-17  Retireborn: <Howard> Fair enough. I should have thought that AVRO and the Keres match were sufficient warnings to him, but it's true that to come last by a long way must have been very unpleasant for him.
Oct-10-17  RookFile: No place to hide is a small event like 1948 where it's Keres today, Botvinnik the next, Reshevsky, Smylov. It must have been a nightmare.
Oct-10-17  Howard: True! It's been argued, incidentally, that Euwe had at least one chance to back out of the tournament halfway through, but he was apparently too sporting to take advantage of it. The story goes that when the event shifted from the Hague to Moscow, Euwe's train ran into a delay at the Soviet border because officials wanted to inspect his luggage. Botvinnik intervened, though, and Euwe was allowed to enter the country. I don't know how long the delay was, but it's been said that Euwe could have used that as an excuse to turn around and head back to the Netherlands.
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  keypusher: <Retireborn>

Euwe scored 7/14 at AVRO, which is to say even with Reshevsky and a half-point behind third-place finisher Botvinnik, whom he beat head to head. AVRO (1938)

Euwe lost Euwe - Keres (1939/40) by a single game.

More relevantly, Euwe had strong recent results. At Groningen (1946) he finished just a half-point behind the winner, Botvinnik, and barely missed out on beating him yet again. Botvinnik vs Euwe, 1946. (Guess who was the only contestant in 1948 with a plus score against Botvinnik going in?). At Groningen, Euwe finished ahead of Smyslov, Najdorf, Szabo, Boleslavsky, and Kotov, among others.

It is true that Euwe's results declined in 1947. Probably not many expected him to win the 1948 championship. But no one on the chess world would have dreamed that he would finish +1-13=6.

Oct-10-17  Retireborn: <keypusher> Thanks. Yes, I suppose that if the World ch had been held in 1946 Euwe would indeed have done rather better.
Oct-10-17  zanzibar: <Was 1948 really a shock to Euwe? Would be interested to see any comments he made.>

<Retireborn> inspired by your musing, I did find some interesting Euwe comments about Zurich 1953:

Oct-11-17  zanzibar: <RB> I forgot that Euwe actually wrote a book on the 1948 tournament, which I don't have. But another person did, and quoted this reflection by Euwe:

<The great disappointment—Euwe’s performance—remains one of the unexpected aspects of the tournament. Naturally, crowd support in The Hague Leg was strong for the Dutch hero. Euwe offered only this explanation when speaking at the closing ceremony. After acknowledging the nearly ideal conditions in Moscow which had led him to anticipate doing better than he had done in The Netherlands, Euwe said: “How then can I explain this failure to do well? I do not know, but for the last year or more I have felt like a runner with a twisted knee.” >

Oct-11-17  Retireborn: <z> Thanks for that. The Euwe-Smyslov extract is particularly interesting.
Oct-18-17  RookFile: Well, he was in his late 40's and had really been a part time player for some time.
Nov-18-19  OrangeTulip: The quote of Euwe as digged up by <zanzibar> explains a lot, Euwe suffered from poor health in that year. Perhaps he had a light stroke or so?! The contrast between his good performance in the first 10 rounds and the last rounds is dramatic. Explanations like he had a shock by earlier poor results or being a part time player seems insufficient to me.
Nov-18-19  Carrots and Pizza: Euwe was on the back foot for the entire game. What a miserable game for him. I know what it's like. Black was developing his game normally, naturally, with moves that seemed easy to find for the most part but they caused White to have to defend the whole time and contort his position. Well played by Boleslavski.
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: 8 b3 is one of the sidelines where White delays or omits e4. This gives Black the option of playing 10..e4!? as he did here. 11 Ng5..e3 12 fxe (12 Bxe3..Rxe3 13 fxe..Ng4) 12..Ng4 13 Nge4..Ndf6 with counterplay for the pawn. Euwe had played 11..d5 in an obscure 1925 game; 11..Qe7 was new. Boleslavsky was critical of 15 a5 recommending instead 15 Ba3 when Black's queen has no comfortable square (ie 15..Qd8 16 Bd6..Nf8 17 Be5). 16 Nxd5?..Nxd5 17 Qc6..Bb7 18 Qxb7..Nc3 19 Rd2..e3 would have given Black a strong attack. 21 bxa perhaps would have been an improvement. 28 Bxd6?! was played to prevent the knight going to the active b5 square but White's bishop was sorely missed in defense. 42 Kh2..Rb1! 43 Qf2..Kg8 44 h4..Qf6 45 Kh3..g5would have been winning for Black. A quicker win would have been 42..Ba5! 43 Qxa5..Qxg3+ 44 Rg2..Qxe3+ 45 Kh1..Rb1 46 Qc7+..Kh6 47 Ne6..Qxh3+. 50 Ra6 shortened the game as after the rook exchange the knight was marooned on the side of the board.

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