Women's World Championship, Moscow 1950, by Elizabeth Bykova
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.
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 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:
|Chaude de Silans||½||½||0||0||1||0||-||1||0||½||1||1||1||1||1||1||9½||5-7|
|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|
To be concluded in the Winners' Profiles section.