unofficial Chess Olympiad: Munich 1936

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Basic data

unofficial Chess Olympiad (see all-time tournament summary)
Date: 17th August - 1st September 1936
City: Munich, Germany
Venue: N/A
Tournament Director: N/A
Chief Arbiter: N/A
Teams participating: 21
Players participating: 208
Games played: 1680
Competition format: Eight board round robin.
Final order decided by: 1. Game points; 2. Match points
Time control: 40 moves in 2 hours, then 1 hour for each next 20 moves
Websites: Edward Winter's photos and information
Downloadable game file:

Tournament review

The Munich unofficial Olympiad was held by German Chess Federation as a counterpart of the Summer Olympic Games in Berlin with reference to 1924 and 1928 events. Unlike International Olympic Committee FIDE did expel Germany from chess community on a basis of racial segregation and Nazi ideology dominant in Germany under Hitler. The newly settled All-German Chess Convention accepted only Aryan players which brought much confusion to top German players of Jewish origin like Tarrasch, just to mention one. However the Germans were anxious to please to be re-entered into FIDE structures. The Olympiad was a celebration of the centenary of the Munich Chess Club. The Warsaw FIDE congress gave the national chess federations a free hand of whether accept or decline invitation from Munich (I did not find whether Palestine was also invited?!). Part of top teams were absent not only due to political baffles yet simply because great international tourney in Nottingham was held concurrently. This is also why England did not arrive. The absence of the US team was also a sad fact. Most of teams were equally handicapped by lack of their top boards like Bogoljubow, Tartakower, Alekhine, Vidmar, Flohr. Unlike past Olympiads this one was expanded up to 8 boards, thus every team was allowed to have up to 10 players in the squad.

Maróczy was once again leading Hungarian team but the games proved this time he overreached his forces and was unable of anything more than couple of weary draws. Definitely Hungary, with the Steiners, Havasi and the young, promising newcomers like Szabó, Barcza and Gereben were clear favourites. Germany were hoping for impressive come-back but frankly speaking they were simply lacking strength this time. Poland deprived of their top boards, Rubinstein and Tartakower were a mixture of youth and experience, something that usually works fine. Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia were not far down the odds chart. Sweden missed decent second-rate players as usual. Keres' team was to weak to give a solitaire genius a chance to catch up the losses.

The games started in August, the summer heat made the games exhausting and close to unbearable. Due to expanded format the matter of luck diminished greatly. The sequence of the teams established quickly and there wasn't much doubts about the medals. Hungary, Poland, Germany and Yugoslavia were dominant from the beginning to the end. Czechoslovakia took an early lead thanks to clear win over tail-enders from Bulgaria. They were quickly replaced by powerful Polish team who scored second and last 8-0 of the event, once again Bulgaria was helpless victim. In round 5 they lost sensationally to Norway 3½-4½ but they retained the lead. Hungary were stepping from win to win but they were a bit lower in the table because of early bye. Germany took over the lead in a short time after they had overcame convincingly a few lower rated teams. In 9th round Hungary beat Poland 5-3 in the decisive, as it proved soon, clash of the whole competition. In the following round the Hungarians outplayed another top side, namely Germany, this time by the narrowest margin possible. The following rounds shuffled the order a little but still Poland, Germany and Yugoslavia were in the lead. Hungary, who had already had a bye were very close with huge chances of overriding the opposition on their leisure day. Poland beat Germany in round 15 but they lost to Latvia in the consecutive round. Germany, the leaders had rest day and finally Hungarians took over well deserved lead. In the next round Germany outclassed Latvia 6½-1½ and Latvian hopes for medals vanished at once. Hungary smashed up miserable French team by 7-1 and earned couple of extra points. The next round when they beat one of major contenders, team Yugoslavia, straightened out the question of gold medals. Czechoslovakia destroyed Austria by sensationally wide margin 7-1 and took over 5th place at the cost of the losers. With two final rounds to be played Hungary maintained modest lead, however given that they were yet to meet Bulgaria and Norway, the generous providers of points their top spot was safe. Poland had a 2 point advantage over Germany and both teams had yet sides of equal strength to match with. Yugoslavia must have outclassed Czechoslovakia in the last round, had they yet dreamt about the medal zone. The latter beat however France with ease in penultimate round and hold on their medal hopes. Before the last round started Hungary were in safe lead with a record of 106 points ahead of Poland (102), Yugoslavia (101½), Germany (101) and Czechoslovakia (99). A brisk and modest win over Norway secured Hungary the 1st place. Poland beat Holland 6-2 and came 2nd avoiding menace. Germany overcame Austria by imposing margin and won bronze medals since Yugoslavia lost 3-5 to determined Czechoslovakia.

Hungary won with ease. They hit the jackpot with 20 straight wins in a row, something that hasn't been repeated until 1960. Szabó attained splendid result (87%!) and was followed by L. Steiner (77%). They scored impressive 69% overall, Maróczy was their flaw, not very surprising outcome given he was already aged 67. Poland finish second and with Tartakower in their squad it might be even better. Najdorf was in excellent shape this time and won individual gold medal and Friedmann finished undefeated while he played all 20 games. Germany found themselves in bronze medal position and this only partially indulged infinite expectations of the home crowd. None of their squad was disappointing but they lacked leadership. Richter, their top board, was never even close to Bogoljubow, Tarrasch or Mieses' class and charisma. The consolation prize was gold individual medal for Rödl (board 7) and other four top 3 places. Kostić was quite surprisingly a linchpin of Yugoslav team. Pirc compared favourably with his team mates. Czechoslovakia lost their chances after 2½-5½ Latvian mishap. Two individual gold medals were tangible proof of their potential. Sweden were down to disappointing 8th place. None of the members of the team was the odd one out, they played equally pallid. Denmark's Nielsen individual record must be stressed last as he won gold individual medal at board 3.

The Munich Olympiad was, and will always be oddity as the format was unusual and never came back. Most major players were missing but thanks to huge load of games (1680!) we may easily select multitude of highly inspiring games. German efforts were finally appreciated and they were back in FIDE a couple of years later. However gloomy politics overshadowed the chess battles for many years.

Individual medals

1st Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. Keres, Paul EST 15½ 20 77.5
2. Pirc, Vasja YUG 12 17 70.6
3. Ståhlberg, Gideon SWE 11½ 17 67.6

2nd Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. Najdorf, Mieczysław POL 16 20 80.0
2. Steiner, Lajos HUN 15½ 20 77.5
3. Becker, Albert AUT 13½ 18 75.0

3rd Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. Nielsen, Bjørn DEN 11½ 15 76.7
2. Feigins, Movsas LAT 14½ 19 76.3
3. Zinner, Emil CSR 14½ 20 72.5

4th Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. Hromádka, Karel CSR 14 20 70.0
2. Danielsson, Gösta SWE 13½ 20 67.5
2. Luckis, Markas LTU 13½ 20 67.5

5th Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. Szabó, László HUN 16½ 19 86.8
2. Friedmann, Henryk POL 15½ 20 77.5
3. Rellstab, Ludwig GER 12 17 70.6

6th Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. Kostić, Borislav YUG 16 19 84.2
2. Kremer, Leon POL 15 20 75.0
3. Villard, Feliks EST 13 19 68.4

7th Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. Rödl, Ludwig GER 11 16 68.8
2. Christensen, Alfred DEN 13 19 68.4
3. Pogorieły, Henryk POL 13½ 20 67.5

8th Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. Weil, Wolfgang AUT 12½ 17 73.5
2. Heinicke, Herbert GER 13 18 72.2
3. Ozols, Kārlis LAT 10½ 15 70.0

1st Reserve Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. Zíta, František CSR 11 68.2
2. Ernst, Wilhelm GER 14 67.9
3. Balogh, János HUN 13 65.4

2nd Reserve Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. Nedeljković, Ozren YUG 8 10 80.0
2. Michel, Paul GER 12 79.2
3. Sundberg, Bertil SWE 10½ 15 70.0

Best game prizes


Interesting games

Neat finish.
Richter, Kurt (GER) - Naegeli, Oskar (SUI) 1 - 0

Greediness shall always be punished.
Richter, Kurt (GER) - Petrovs, Vladimirs (LAT) 1 - 0

Game drawn in 17 moves but it was nothing like a typical, insipid GM draw!
Böök, Eero (FIN) - Naegeli, Oskar (SUI) ½ - ½

Black should have not left his King unprotected.
Foltys, Jan (CSR) - Böök, Eero (FIN) 1 - 0

White were deprived of the pawn shield and Black pieces
easily encroached on their position.
Andersen, Erik (DEN) - Steiner, Lajos (HUN) 0 - 1

Usually it is not the best idea to play Grünfeld and miss c7-c5.
Frydman, Paulin (POL) - Romi, Massimiliano (ITA) 1 - 0

Keres' ending play was truly a masterpiece!
Keres, Paul (EST) - Richter, Kurt (GER) 1 - 0

Another dead-draw ending won by Estonian genius.
Keres, Paul (EST) - Pirc, Vasja (YUG) 1 - 0

Fierce and vivid battle.
Steiner, Endre (HUN) - Norman-Hansen, Holger (DEN) 1 - 0

A classical example about how f2 square vulnerability
may cause quick, disastrous defeat.
Ásgeirsson, Ásmundur (ISL) - Raud, Ilmar (EST) 0 - 1

White castled on the Queenside and ran into mating attack.
Johner, Paul (SUI) - Krogius, Ragnar (FIN) 0 - 1

Black were so much engaged in their c5 pawn greedy ride they overlooked mate.
Vaitonis, Povilas (LTU) - Feigins, Movsas (LAT) 1 - 0

Black faced unexpected Queen sac and lost.
Szabó, László (HUN) - Snævarr, A. (ISL) 1 - 0

Crazy opening and crazy game, worth thorough analysis.
Hromádka, Karel (CSR) - Danielsson, Gösta (SWE) 1 - 0

Truly glamorous attack!
Kostić, Borislav (YUG) - Kremer, Leon (POL) 1 - 0

Castling is way more important than a mere pawn...
Anglares, Emille (FRA) - Pogorieły, Henryk (POL) 0 - 1


The Munich unofficial Olympiad was the biggest team competition ever held.


110½ game points gained in a single tournament is all-time Olympic record.


Horiner for Bulgaria and Waldemann for Estonia were the first men in the history who were officially put in the squad and failed to play a single game.