Tim's Tournament Book Blog XIII: San Remo 1930
San Remo 1930 International Chess Tournament
By Robert Sherwood
Edited by Dale Brandreth
Caissa Editions, 2013
The San Remo 1930 chess tournament was dominated by Alexander Alekhine. Coupled with Alekhine’s even more masterful performance at Bled 1931, these two tournaments show the fourth world champion at the peak of his powers.
The Russian yielded only two draws against a field of 15 world class players!! (Only Lasker and Capablanca were missing the latter because the organizers did want to pay the outlandish appearance fee that Alekhine demanded should the Cuban participate.)
Reveling in complications, Alekhine lured the rest of the group down the proverbial rabbit hole where some lost their way by dropping pieces, some were overwhelmed by a dazzling combination, whilst others were outmaneuvered positionally before being crushed by a winning combination by one of the greatest tacticians ever.
For this tournament I mainly looked at the games of Alekhine, Nimzovich, and Bogolyubov with an occasional glance at Rubinstein. I mainly skimmed the other contests looking for something that might catch my eye.
Games of Note
Rubinstein-Romi Round 2: Good example of how to exploit the opening of the position.
Vidmar-Alekhine Round 4: Terrific analysis by both players. The annotations really shine in the endgame.
Nimzovich-Romi Round 6: Very intricate maneuvering followed by a breakthrough. The positions at various intervals are visually very “cool” looking.
Grau-Nimzovich Round 11: Interesting lesson in timing in a position and king exposure. The finish is really neat.
Once again I have chosen two games to highlight from the tournament. The first comes from round 3 and is a struggle between two giants of the game.
The second game is the 7th round battle of Nimzovich and Bogolyubov
Story of the Tournament
The outline of the tournament is found in two articles at the beginning of the book one a preview by Dr. Tartakover the other from Deutsche Schachzeitung assessing the tournament after its completion. Both articles contain a good bit of information and the German article even delves into the players health to an unusual degree. Tartakover’s article is notable also for his digression regarding the Alekhine-Capablanca feud in which his is unabashedly pro-Alekhine.
The round by round introduction are excellent and give concrete information about the course of each game making it easy for the reader to find games of interest. As Mr. Sherwood observes in his preface “One of the pleasures in analyzing a whole tournament, rather than just a section of “best games” is the discovery of profoundly interesting play in the lesser-known encounters.” And this reader tips his hat to Mr. Sherwood for creating a structure where readers can discern which of these“lesser encounters” they may want to peruse.
For the most part, the annotations are pithy overall in word analysis except where the author mined articles from the players themselves. There is a lot here for variations lovers to mull over but for those who feel like they are sometimes buried by such lengthy lines it may be off-putting.
The annotations that come from other sources are very clearly marked and the best ones in the book are those written by Nimzovich. The My System author elaborates at length in words which, partly, stems from explaining his wins using his “system”. Nevertheless, the notes are both entertaining and insightful and I recommend any reader of this tome go over Nimzovich’s games for that reason alone.
The biographical notes are very brief and are confined to the two opening articles although, as noted before, the analysis of the health of the players is both interesting and uncommon.
Coverage of Games
All 120 games are included. Openings are given by name only.
This is another nice, hardbound “red book” from Caissa Editions. The print is excellent and diagrams are clear and timely. At the end of the book there is an index of openings (name only no ECO) and index of games so you can easily hunt down a particular match up.
Mr. Sherwood did an excellent job of culling various sources for annotations the highlight being the Nimzovich article found on pages 95-96. Mr. Brandreth also is to be commended for outlining various contest of special interest in his introduction. I recommend leaving this go until the end and go back to see what gems the reader might have missed along the way.
Aficionado is the verdict this time mainly for one reason: the dominance of Alekhine.
Normally I would be tempted to give a book of this caliber a high rating but Alekhine’s blistering performance makes the book one that really only Alekhine fans will truly love. The other games in the book mainly pale in comparison and while many are good there are two few that are really interesting to earn a higher rating. I will say that fans of Nimzovich will find his comments of great interest but I don’t think that is enough to raise the evaluation.
Love Alekhine, get this book.
Love Nimzovich, get this book.
Love tournaments and chess history, get this book.
Otherwise, I think this is one to pass on.