Tim's Tournament Book Blog VII: London 1922
By Geza Maroczy
Foreward by Andy Soltis
Russell Enterprises, Inc 2010
The London 1922 chess tournament holds an interesting place in history. It was one of the first big tournaments after the catastrophic nightmare that was the First World War and it also featured the first time that the new world champion, Jose Capablanca, had participated in a major event since dethroning Emanuel Lasker some fifteen months prior. The tournament is also remembered as an early clash between players who adhered to the classical form of chess and those so called Hypermodern players who theories would unleash the Indian Defenses among other contributions. London 1922 was also seen as solidifying the reputation of the the up and coming Alexander Alekhine who over the course of 1921-22 finished first at Triberg, Budapest, The Hague and Hastings while finishing second at Pistysan and London. Eventually, Alekhine’s surging chess ability would result in the epic world championship match with Capablanca five years later.
For this tournament, I took the advice given in the forward by Andrew Soltis regarding games by theme such as attack or endgame and also looked over games from the top three finishers Capablanca, Alekhine, and Vidmar while also glancing over some of Rubinsteins games as well.
Quite frankly, I found most of the games in this tournament very dull and I had a hard time choosing two games to highlight. So I would recommend to anyone wanting to look over this tournament to either follow the games of a particular player or follow the advice of Mr. Soltis and examine games with themes that interest you.
The following two games were the most interesting to me. As always, the notes are my own.
First a battle between Atkins and Euwe from round ten.
The second game is Reti vs Znosko-Borovsky from round 12. Reti launches a smashing attack featuring the power of an unopposed bishop.
Story of the Tournament
Except for some light comments in the forward by Andy Soltis, there is nothing.
This is the first book I have done for this blog where I have to say I was very disappointed in the annotations. Except for a few games with very detailed notes, the majority have only light notes and some of the comments leave the reader hanging. For example, in the notes to the game Reti vs. Znosko-Borovsky the author comments after white’s 21st move, “Very well played. White has a winning attack.” Why? How? Granted, one can argue players should analyze games for themselves and I am all for that but perhaps a few more words on general reasons would’ve been helpful. So the games do contain both variations and word explanations but there is so little that I question the benefit of buying this book for for the annotations when one could just go over the games and analyze by themselves.
Next to nothing here too. There are some individual pictures of the players scattered throughout the book but that’s it. The reader is left wondering just who were most of these guys that made up the bottom half of the cross table.
Coverage of Games
All 120 games are here and all have at least a few words of analysis. All games have the opening ECO at the start.
The book itself is a nice, flexible paper back edition. The print is a good size and diagrams are crisp and clear. The book also contains a nice cross table. There is an index of games by player but the reader has to do their own cross referencing to find out which specific game covers Capablanca-Alekhine. There is also an opening index by name only (No ECO)
This is the first book in this series that I have classified as Diehard for a number of reasons. First, there is just too big a disparity in ability of the players when comparing the top of the cross table to the bottom which led to a lot of games being decided by really obvious errors that, quite frankly, one would expect to find in a game between club players. Second, almost all the games between the top finishers were short draws. For example, Rubinstein-Capablanca lasted on 13 moves and Alekhine-Capablanca 17! Really? Seriously? Third, if you love the Queens Gambit Declined to will love this book. 40% of the games featured this opening and if you throw in the category of Queen Pawn Opening in general that number jumps to a whopping 67% So if you are not interested in that opening, or like king pawn openings in general, this book might leave a bad taste in your mouth. Fourth, the annotations are nothing special and I think there is very little of value here. I personally walked away feeling like I didn’t learn much of anything from the analysis in the book. Finally, there is some interesting history in the book but if you don’t care about the classical versus hyper modern theoretical battles or how the London Rules impacted the World Chess Championship, then skipping this book might be a good idea.
Bottom Line: I would only go over the games in this tournament if you fall into one of three categories. First if you play or like the Queens Gambit Declined. Second, you are a fan of Capablanca or Alekhine. Third you are interested in learning about the tournaments in the early post WWI era. Otherwise, there is not much here to recommend this book