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Women's World Championship, Moscow 1950, by Elizabeth Bykova

Women's World Championship, Moscow 1950, by Elizabeth Bykova

Spektrowski
Jan 18, 2015, 1:50 PM 6

This is an excerpt from an old book about women's chess in USSR by the third Women's World Champion Elizabeth Bykova. The article was written in 1950 or 1951, before Bykova herself became a champion.

WOMEN'S WORLD CHESS CHAMPIONSHIP IN MOSCOW

Sixteen best chess players from twelve countries were invited to the Moscow Women's World Chess Championship tournament.

Soviet Union's sporting glory was defended by four members of the Soviet chess organization: 1949 USSR Champion Olga Rubtsova (Moscow), 1945 USSR Champion Valentina Belova (Leningrad), 1947 and 1948 USSR Champion Elizabeth Bykova (Moscow) and Lyudmila Rudenko (Leningrad), who showed good results both in domestic and foreign tournaments.

The foreign players

Foreign chess players were qualified through a system of national tournaments. There were twelve of them: Chantal Chaude de Silans (France), Clarice Benini (Italy), Maria Teresa Mora (Cuba), Ingrid Larsen (Denmark), Roza Herman (Poland), Jozsa Langosz (Hungary), Fenny Heemskerk (Netherlands), Eileen Betsy Tranmer (England), Edith Keller-Herrmann (East Germany), Nina Grushkova-Belska (Czechoslovakia), Mona May Karff and Gisela Kahn Gresser (both USA).

Benini, Larsen, Herman, Karff and Mora have already played at World Championships. Roza Maria Herman took part twice: she shared 6th-7th in 1935 and 10th-16th in 1937. Maria Teresa Mora, Capablanca's compatriot who'd met him over the board, shared 7th-8th place in 1939. Ingrid Larsen and May Karff played in 1937 and 1939; Karff took 5th place in 1939 and shared 6th-7th in 1937, while Larsen finished 11th in 1939 and shared one of the last places in 1937. Clarice Benini finished second in 1937. In her first tournament, Semmering women's international 1936, she also took second place.

Other foreign players, while having no World Championship experience, did play at international level, including men's tournaments.

Chantal Chaude de Silans from Paris shared 1st-2nd in a women's international tournament. She won French women's championship in 1930, aged just 14, and would win it numerous times afterwards. In 1936, Chaude de Silans took part in men's French championship and shared 8th-9th place. She also finished ahead of many men in the 1949 French championship.

The 1947 and 1949 English champion Eileen Tranmer shared first place with Chaude de Silans in the 1949 women's international tournament. In 1946, Tranmer took part in a radio match between USSR and United Kingdom. She lost both games to V. Belova at the first board.

The Dutch champion Fenny Heemskerk also played in many international tournaments, both women's and men's, and winning prizes. In the Swiss 1947 women's tournament she shared 2nd-3rd place. Heemskerk learned chess in 1935, aged 16, and took second place in a women's tournament just a month later. In 1936, Heemskerk took second place in the Dutch championship, and in 1937, won both Amsterdam and Dutch championships. After that, she would win the Dutch championship 5 more times (1939, 1940, 1945, 1947, 1949).

Jozsa Langosz (Tatabanya, Hungary) won the Hungarian championships of 1944, 1947 and 1949. Langosz took 4th place in the Hungarian men's championship.

Edith Keller from Dresden, East Germany, took part in many men's first category and candidate masters' tournaments in Saxony and won them, receiving the Saxony master's title in the process. She won the 1947 men's tournament in Saxony and took part in the 1948 Duensburg international tournament. She won the German championship twice. In 1949, she took second place in the German championship.

Nina Grushkova-Belska (Prague) is Czechoslovakia's strongest player. In 1944, 1946 and 1949 she won the Czech championship. She has the first category.

Gisela Gresser (New York, USA) won the 1944 U.S. Championship and shared 1st-2nd in 1948 with Karff.

Opening ceremony

The opening ceremony of the Women's World Chess Championship took place in Moscow on 19th December 1949, in the Red Banner Hall of the Red Army Central House.

The hall is lushly decorated. At the back of the stage, there are flags of 12 countries that sent their players to the Championship; in the center, there's an emblem: a Rook on the chessboard background. The stage is filled with flowers. Many well-known chess players, representatives of various sports organizations, ambassadors, women and Soviet and foreign reporters were present. All participants of the tournament were met by long rounds of applause.

The deputy chairman of the Soviet Physical Culture and Sports Committee, Dmitry Vasilyevich Postnikov, greets all the World Championship players and declares the tournament open. The orchestra plays the USSR national anthem.

The woman players were greeted by the FIDE Vice-President Valentin Ragozin, World Champion Mikhail Botvinnik, veteran chess player Nina Bluket, and L. Kislova from the All-Union Foreign Cultural Exchange Committee. Then, arbiter Vera Chudova read out the tournament rules and proceeds with seeding.

The tournament

The first round was played on 5:30 p.m., 20th December 1949 in the Red Army Central House's Concert Hall. For the Soviet players, those were their first over-the-board games against foreigners, and they were playing with a feeling of great responsibility, because they knew that they were defending the honour of their beloved Motherland, and all the Soviet people watch their struggle. Numerous spectators watched the strongest woman chess players with great interest.

The game between Benini and Mora ended in just 23 moves, when White blundered their Queen. Keller - Belova game was also decisive: the Soviet chess player showed better self-control in mutual time trouble and won. Other games of this round were adjourned.

The round's most interesting game was between Chaude de Silans and Rubtsova, when the Soviet player had an exchange for a pawn. In the play-off, Rubtsova had a won position, but made a mistake at move 51, and the game ended in a draw. Here's this interesting endgame:

The championship attracted great interest among the chess community. Grandmasters Smyslov, Kotov, Bronstein, Flohr, Lilienthal and other chess players would frequently visit the tournament, Mikhail Botvinnik was also often present. The tournament hall was packed.
The third round game between Larsen and Belova was very interesting. The Soviet chess player sacrificed a pawn and invaded the opponent's territory with her major pieces. Larsen had to give up an exchange; she resigned several moves later (see game below).
After the third round, Rubtsova took the lead with 2.5/3. Karff also had 2.5/3, but she subsequently lost five games in a row. In the fourth round though, the second American, Gresser, caught up with the USSR Champion when Benini blundered a Rook in an equal position.
Rudenko played a very active endgame in the 4th round against Heemskerk. In the adjourned position, Rudenko had three pawns for an exchange, but defence was difficult because her pawns were weak.
In this game, Rudenko demonstrated the best sporting qualities - self-control, good technique and calculation skills.
At the World Championship. Bykova (left) versus Rubtsova.
The most interesting game of the fifth round was Karff - Belova. In the endgame, Belova gained positional advantage, won an exchange and created a dangerous passed c-pawn.
The first five rounds showed that the struggle for the World Champion's title would be very intense. In the middle of the tournament (rounds 6-10) Rubtsova won several games and took the lead. Rudenko was trailing by half-point.
In round 9, Rudenko with a sudden and ingenious Bishop sacrifice saved a difficult game against Tranmer.
The final leg of the championship began after the 11th round. In this game, two Soviet players were pitted against each other: Rudenko and Rubtsova, the main title contenders. After the first 40 moves, the chances were roughly equal. Rubtsova seized the open b-file with her Queen, while Rudenko had a two-Bishop advantage. But in the play-off, Rubtsova failed to obtain anything meaningful from her position, while Rudenko's active Bishops controlled the whole board. The Leningrad player won, and this game proved to be decisive in the title struggle. Rudenko got ahead of Rubtsova by half-point and held on to this advantage.
Rudenko subsequently defeated Grushkova-Belska, Benini and Herman in style.
Rubtsova, Rudenko's main rival, had a cramped position against Benini in the 14th round. The game ended in a draw, and so Rudenko extended her lead to the whole point, guaranteeing herself at least a shared first.
Belova won three games in a row. Her endgame against Chaude de Silans was particularly energetic.
And so, the winner was decided in the very last round. Only Rubtsova had theoretical chances to catch up with Rudenko. In the 15th round, on 18th January 1950, the audience obviously paid the greatest interest to the games of Soviet players: Rudenko - Chaude de Silans, Rubtsova - Herman and Belova - Bykova.
The latter was the first one to end: at the 24th move, two Soviet players agreed to draw.
Rudenko chose a quiet exchange variation in Ruy Lopez against Chaude de Silans. Black didn't try to sharpen the position, and many exchanges happened, after which the draw was unavoidable. When both partners had opposite-coloured Bishops and six pawns each, they agreed to draw. The game lasted for 27 moves and ended around 9 p.m.
The games at all other boards are temporarily stopped. Everyone congratulates the World Champion Lyudmila Rudenko and bring her flowers. The audience applauds the winner. Rudenko scored 11.5/15. In this tournament, she showed good self-control and strong will. Her loss in the first round remained her only one.
But the tournament still continues. Soon, the world's second strongest player is determined too - the USSR champion Rubtsova. She drew Herman at move 25, scoring 10.5/15. Belova and Bykova shared 3rd-4th places with a score of 10/15.
Chaude de Silans guaranteed herself the 5th prize, but Tranmer and Keller could catch up with her. Keller quickly defeated Karff with Black. Karff made several mistakes in the opening and resigned at the 24th move in a hopeless position.
Another 5th prize candidate, Tranmer (who lost her first two games), won her last five games and managed to catch up. She won a good game against Gresser and shared 5th-7th place with Chaude de Silans and Keller, scoring 9.5/15.
Next places: Heemskerk - 8/15, Benini - 7/15, Langosz and Mora - 6/15, Grushkova-Belska, Gresser and Karff - 5/15, Larsen - 4.5/15, Herman - 3/15.
The cross table:
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Pts Place
Rudenko - 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 1 0 1 ½ 1 11½ 1
Rubtsova 0 - 1 1 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 1 1 1 1 1 ½ 10½ 2
Belova ½ 0 - ½ 1 1 1 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 10 3-4
Bykova 0 0 ½ - 1 1 1 1 0 1 ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 1 10 3-4
Keller ½ ½ 0 0 - 1 0 1 1 ½ 1 0 1 1 1 1 9½ 5-7
Tranmer ½ ½ 0 0 0 - 1 1 1 ½ ½ 1 1 1 ½ 1 9½ 5-7
Chaude de Silans ½ ½ 0 0 1 0 - 1 0 ½ 1 1 1 1 1 1 9½ 5-7
Heemskerk 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 - 1 ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 1 ½ 8 8
Benini 0 ½ 1 1 0 0 1 0 - 0 0 ½ 0 1 1 1 7 9
Langosz 0 0 1 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 - ½ 0 0 0 1 ½ 6 10-11
Mora 0 0 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ - 1 1 1 0 0 6 10-11
Grushkova-Belska 0 0 0 ½ 1 0 0 0 ½ 1 0 - 0 ½ 1 ½ 5 12-14
Gresser 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 - 0 0 1 5 12-14
Karff 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 1 0 ½ 1 - 1 1 5 12-14
Larsen ½ 0 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 - 1 4½ 15
Herman 0 ½ 0 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ 0 0 0 - 3 16
Round progress:
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Rudenko 0 1 1.5 2.5 3 4 5 5.5 6 7 8 9 10 11 11.5
Rubtsova 0.5 1.5 2.5 3 3 4 5 6 7 7.5 7.5 8.5 9.5 10 10.5
Belova 1 1 2 2 3 4 5 5.5 5.5 6.5 6.5 7.5 8.5 9.5 10
Bykova 1 1 1 1.5 1.5 2.5 3.5 4.5 5 6 7 7.5 8.5 9.5 10
Keller 0 1 1.5 2 2 3 4 4 5 5 6 7 8 8.5 9.5
Tranmer 0 0 1 1.5 2 3 3 3.5 4 4.5 5.5 6.5 7.5 8.5 9.5
Chaude de Silans 0.5 1.5 1.5 2.5 3.5 4.5 4.5 5.5 6.5 7.5 8 9 9 9 9.5
Heemskerk 0.5 1.5 1.5 1.5 2.5 3.5 4.5 5 5 6 6 6 6.5 7.5 8
Benini 0 1 2 2 3 3 3 4 4 5 6 6 6 6.5 7
Langosz 1 1.5 1.5 2.5 3 3 3 3 4 4.5 5 5 5 5.5 6
Mora 1 1.5 1.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 3.5 4 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 5 6 6
Grushkova-Belska 0.5 0.5 0.5 1 2 2 3 4 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 5
Gresser 1 1 2 3 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 5 5 5 5
Karff 0.5 1.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.2 2.5 2.5 3 3 4 4 5 5 5
Larsen 0 0 0 0.5 1 1 1 1 2 2 3 3.5 3.5 3.5 4.5
Herman 0.5 0.5 1.5 1.5 1.5 1.5 1.5 2 2 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 3
18th January 1950 will be remembered as a great day for the Soviet chess-playing women. On that day, their first big international tournament ended with a triumph of the world-best Soviet chess school. The Soviet Union players have passed their first test with honour, justifying their people's trust and defending the Motherland's sporting glory.
The victory of the Soviet chess players was not a fluke. This is the natural consequence of the great attention that's given to the development of the socialist culture. The Soviet woman chess players added a new victory to the list of great achievements of the Soviet sportsmen. For this success, Rudenko, Rubtsova, Belova and Bykova were awarded with the Master of Sports title by the Physical Culture and Sports Committee.
The World Championship's organization was very good. There were no conflicts or misunderstandings. This shows that the arbiters were qualified, and the participants were very disciplined. The arbiters' board consisted of V. Chudova (chief arbiter), FIDE Vice-Presidents M. Berman (France) and V. Ragozin, V. Tikhomirova (all three - deputy arbiters), N. Zubarev and K. Zvorykina (members of the arbiters' board), A. Prorvich (secretary).
Closing ceremony
On 19th January 1950, the World Championship was closed in the Red Banner Hall. The stage was beautifully decorated again. A large laurel wreath was standing at the chairman's table. The hall was packed again.
The closing ceremony was opened by D.V. Postnikov. The arbiter V. Chudova read out the tournament's final standings. The FIDE Vice-President Mr. M. Berman read the official document announcing the new World Champion, and crowned the tournament's winner, Lyudmila Rudenko, with a laurel wreath.
The All-Union Chess Section chairman M. Kharlamov read the Sports Committee's order about awarding the tournament's participants. Speeches were made by the World Champion M. Botvinnik, French women's champion C. Chaude de Silans, Cuban women's champion M. Mora, Bulgarian woman chess player A. Ivanova-Petrova, Czechoslovakian women's champion N. Grushkova-Belska, Hungarian women's champion J. Langosz. The Women's World Champion Lyudmila Rudenko then made the closing speech.
Lyudmila Rudenko, the second Women's World Champion, at the closing ceremony

To be concluded in the Winners' Profiles section.

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