9th Chess Olympiad: Dubrovnik 1950

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Basic data

9th Chess Olympiad
(see all-time tournament summary)
Date: 20th August - 11th September 1950
City: Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia (today's Croatia)
Venue: Gallery Unietka (Gallery of Art)
Tournament Director: N/A
Chief Arbiter: Mr. Milan Vidmar (YUG)
Deputy Chief Arbiter: Mr. Hans Kmoch (AUT)
Head of section of technical preparation: Mr. Dubravko Timet (YUG)
Teams participating: 16
Players participating: 84 (incl. 4 GMs and 23 IMs)
Games played: 480
Competition format: Four board round robin.
Final order decided by: 1. Game points; 2. Match points
Time control: 40 moves in 2 hours 30 minutes, then 1 hour for each next 16 moves
Official logo: DUBROVNIK 1950
Downloadable game file: 50olm.zip

Tournament review

Eleven years had passed before the Olympiads were brought back to life. The War cut out full six years from the chess life and it took next 5 years to held the first post-war Olympiad. Resettled FIDE gnawed at grievous conflict with the politics in the background and establishment of the Iron Curtain did not serve well the idea of Olympic unity. In 1948 FIDE congress help in Saltsjöbaden (Sweden) submitted Yugoslavia's proposal to organize the 9th Chess Olympiad. The following year it was finally confirmed. Unfortunately the Communist Information Bureau comprised of USSR Communist Party and its satellites expelled Yugoslavia and moved from Belgrade to Bucharest. Logically Soviet delegation were opposing Yugoslav proposal. USSR authorities finally decided to boycott the event and all East European countries had nothing to do but follow the Big Brother. Of course Yugoslavia were still in, since local communists were conflicted with the Soviets. Another absents were England who had their national championship during Olympiad.

The venue was Dubrovnik, or Ragusa as it used to be referred to in the past, charming town with centuries of variegated history. It had plenitude of colourful attractions to offer but they were all muffled by the Olympiad itself. The event was help with an impressive flourish and many thought this is how the Olympiads should be organized. State authorities with marshal Tito in the forefront were involved. The players were ensured of perfect conditions for playing and relax. In contrary to pre-war experience rest days became common releasing some burden from players' shoulders. Yugoslav mass media widely broadcasted the games with full details.

Several teams were considered to have best chances for gold. Yugoslavia were very strong and they enjoyed enormous support of the home crowd. USA based their team on experienced top class players like Reshevsky and Horowitz. Argentina supplied with ex-Pole Najdorf and German expatriate Pilnik were certainly aspiring for medals. Young German team (remember this was first separate entry for West Germany) was awaited with interest. Holland led by Euwe must have been considered dangerous. The rest seemed way weaker than top 5. Mme Chaudé de Silans playing for France was the first ever woman to enter men's competition. Since the FIDE titles were finally introduced in 1950 we have seen first Grandmasters at participants' lists. There were four GMs, Euwe, Reshevsky, Najdorf and Tartacover. Titles meant a lot those days and IM was of a value also. We have seen 23 IMs including future top stars like Gligorić, Unzicker, and Bolbochán. Yugoslavia were the only team without untitled players. On the other hand they missed GMs.

The games began on August 20th in a heat-wave such as even the local inhabitants had never experienced. In spite of newly incorporated FIDE regulations allowing each team to have two reserves in the squad the hot weather was a sever strain on the older players. Young teams, such as Yugoslavia earned extra-bonus then. Since there were just 16 teams in the field the games went quite quickly. Yugoslavia started well beating West Germany 3-1. Reshevsky drew with Euwe and Holland-USA was a no-win draw. Chile hammered Norway 4-0 and were sensational leaders. In second round Germany easily swept out weakened Swedish team ("three musketeers", namely Ståhlberg, Stoltz and Lundin were absent) and took over the lead since Chile lost to Holland. Yugoslavia gave clear signal about what they aim at and ran over Norway, poor Norway, again by 4-0. Round 3 brought an interesting USA-Argentina match which the Americans won thanks to Evans' win on bottom board. Yugoslavia dropped out two points against surprisingly well shaped Chileans. Germany, who started off with demoralising 1-3 defeat made up for a lost ground and won second consecutive match scoring full four points and came into joint lead together with Yugoslavia. Belgium, who faced couple of bottom-ranked teams, were temporarily in third place together with Holland and Argentina. USA were yet another fraction behind. The Netherlands beat Argentina in round 4, surprisingly both Euwe and Najdorf were missing. Other top teams scored three points each. Norway beat Greece 3½-½ in the match that proved to be a battle for evading mental discomfort of being last at the finish. Germany unexpectedly managed nothing better than a lucky draw vs Peru in the next round, they lost on both bottom boards. Yugoslavia imposed pace that proved too fast for the rest. They beat Greece 4-0 and widened the margin over Netherlands and Germany up to 2 points. Most top teams won their round 6 battles. Belgium gave another surprise beating Holland 2½-1½. Both Yugoslavia and Argentina went through seventh round without any losses. USA beat tough Germans and levelled with them in the progress table. Yugoslavia were still in safe lead, 3½ points ahead of Argentina, who had another 2 points advantage over the rest. The leaders probably loosened up too early and only drew against Austria (Puc lost in truly embarrassing way). Germany beat Holland 3-1 and the rest greedily scored four points. Yugoslavia retained the lead but the margin diminished. A hard-fought battle of the day 9, Yugoslavia-USA ended up in a honourable draw 2-2 (not a single drawn game though!). Argentina beat Finland and were as close as 1 point to Yugoslavia. In the next round top teams were playing each other, and no major changes appeared. Argentina shared points with Germany and Yugoslavia won by moderate margin against team Holland. USA beat Sweden, though Kramer irresponsibly flew into sacrifice rage and lost quickly. In round 12 Yugoslavia were to match Argentina who had to dominate the leaders, had they yet dreamt about gold. This was last top clash of the event, last three rounds seemed to be just a chase for perfect 4/4 for top teams. Najdorf crushed Gligorić at board 1 but this was all they could afford that they. Although Argentina won 2½-1½ they were still a full point behind the leaders. USA only drew against France and dropped out of the struggle for gold. Argentina lost just a mere half of a point in thirteenth round vs Sweden, but Yugoslavia went clearly over Denmark and extended their lead. USA were too friendly and let ambitious Peruvians draw as much as three games because of what Germany levelled on points with the Americans. Penultimate round virtually settled the matter of gold. Yugoslavia beat Belgium 3-1 and Argentina lost badly a point against tail-enders from Greece. Rossetto lost his only but most important game of the Olympiad! This was all over. Yugoslavia were in clear lead, Argentina were sure of their silver medals. Germany earned small advantage over USA and the last round was to be decisive concerning the bronze medals. Both teams won 3½-½ and Germany retained their ½ point advantage worth the third place overall. Holland were in fifth place, five points ahead of Belgium, who finished in excellent sixth place.

Yugoslavia won the first and only Championship on home soil. USSR were absent once again as well as some other top East European countries, like Hungary and Czechoslovakia. They had clear way to go then but one must admit they were very consistent throughout the games. Gligorić lead them to well-deserved win. The harsh Yugoslavs sent as much as five teams home with humiliating 0-4. They relied mainly on their top 4, of whom Rabar and Trifunović won gold Best board results. Argentina's performance was great too. Three of them won gold individual medal and one won bronze. They lost only 4 games, and their top two boards did not even lose any game. Had they needed less time for warm up they would have threatened the winners. It was no surprise too see young German squad that high and Unzicker proved true leader of the team, winning individual gold at board 1 (shared with Najdorf) and being proclaimed the discovery of the tournament. USA were quite disappointing finishing a little behind the medal zone. Evans' performance was ultimate, Reshevsky was another one to avoid loss in the course of the tournament, but the rest finished in 50-60% zone, far too little for medal chasers. Holland with ex-World Champion Euwe were fifth, the place exactly where they were expected to be. Young Donner started his long Olympic career with respectable result. Belgium finished a little surprising 6th, with major contribution of their top board O'Kelly. France reinforced with Tartakower (now spelled Tartacover) hoped for more, but their top star was already 70 and far after his peak. They also had a woman in the squad, WIM Chantal Chaudé de Silans. Peruvian star IM Canal was this time no better than his team-mates and Peru were lying down in 14th place. The Dubrovnik event was the last Olympiad with true battle for gold. The Soviet era was coming and the rest were to face a demoralising struggle for second place.

Best board results

1st Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. IM Unzicker, Wolfgang GER 11 14 78.6
1. GM Najdorf, Miguel ARG 11 14 78.6
3. GM Reshevsky, Samuel Herman USA 11 77.3

2nd Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. IM Bolbochán, Julio ARG 11½ 14 82.1
2. Schmid, Lothar GER 9 12 75.0
2. IM Rossolimo, Nicolas FRA 9 12 75.0

3rd Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. IM Trifunović, Petar YUG 10 13 76.9
2. IM Prins, Lodewijk NED 10 65.0
3. Pfeiffer, Gerhard GER 7 11 63.6

4th Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. IM Rabar, Braslav YUG 9 10 90.0
2. IM Cortlever, Nicolaas NED 11 77.3
3. Bergkvist, Nils SWE 12 62.5
3. IM Rossetto, Héctor Decio ARG 12 62.5

1st Reserve Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. IM Pilnik, Herman ARG 10 75.0
2. Lambert, Hans AUT 8 12 66.7
3. Kramer, George USA 12 62.5
3. Staudte, Hans-Hilmar GER 12 62.5

2nd Reserve Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. Evans, Larry Melvyn USA 9 10 90.0
2. Donner, Jan NED 8 56.3

Only two players completed more than half of the games at 2nd reserve board.

Interesting games

An object lesson on making advantage of weak pawns.
Unzicker, Wolfgang (GER) - Tartacover, Xavier (FRA) 1 - 0

White's pressure on Kingside was seeming.
Gligorić, Svetozar (YUG) - Najdorf, Miguel (ARG) 0 - 1

Black's strategy spilled allowing passed pawns.
Gligorić, Svetozar (YUG) - Unzicker, Wolfgang (GER) 1 - 0

Deadly R+B battery.
Castaldi, Vincenzo (ITA) - Unzicker, Wolfgang (GER) 0 - 1

Belgian master realised the opening ideas systematised by his countryman Colle.
O'Kelly de Galway, Alberic (BEL) - Böök, Eero (FIN) 1 - 0

Black must have been unpleasantly surprised watching White's 8th move.
Euwe, Machgielis (NED) - Nestler, Vincenzo (ITA) 1 - 0

Careless "f" pawn ride proved suicidal for Black.
Euwe, Machgielis (NED) - Sköld, Kristian (SWE) 1 - 0

These two had been team-mates for many years!
Najdorf, Miguel (ARG) - Tartacover, Xavier (FRA) ½ - ½

Unzicker concluded this was hist hardest game to win so far in his career.
Böök, Eero (FIN) - Unzicker, Wolfgang (GER) 0 - 1

Finnish master showed outstanding skills once again.
Euwe, Machgielis (NED) - Böök, Eero (FIN) 0 - 1

White pieces were appallingly tied down.
Tartacover, Xavier (FRA) - Reshevsky, Samuel Herman (USA) 0 - 1

White fell info simple beginner trap.
Castaldi, Vincenzo (ITA) - Reshevsky, Samuel Herman (USA) 0 - 1

Black carried on quick and surprising attack
and White omitted to find the best defence.
Ojanen, Kaarle (FIN) - Van Scheltinga, Theodore (NED) 0 - 1

Black lost control over f6 and fell under instant attack.
Letelier Martner, René (CHI) - Niemi, Reino (FIN) 1 - 0

Same line as above, same problem of f6 control, same result...
Cortlever, Nicolaas (NED) - Kesten, Stefan (FRA) 1 - 0

The shortest game of the Olympiad.
Pedersen, Eigil (DEN) - Zografakis, Aristides (GRE) 1 - 0

Rash self-invention in Ruy Lopez in not recommended.
Pilnik, Herman (ARG) - Pinzón Solis, Felipe (PER) 1 - 0

Who said Bishop opening is obsolete and dowdy line?
Heikinheimo, Harras (FIN) - Crépeaux, Robert (FRA) 1 - 0

First ever woman's triumph in the history of the Olympiads!
Mme Chaudé de Silans, Chantal (FRA) - Kramer, Haije (NED) 1 - 0

Gorgeous tactics by Yugoslav IM.
Niemelä, Ilmari (FIN) - Trifunović, Petar (YUG) 0 - 1

Reshevsky blundered but immediately realized what he had done.
He offered a draw then with deadpan face. It was accepted!
Reshevsky, Samuel Herman (USA) - Mastichiadis, Fotis (GRE) ½ - ½


Chaudé de Silans was the first woman ever to appear at the Chess Olympiads. She also won first Olympic game for unofficial feminine squad.


USA were the only team than stayed undefeated. This is only case in the history that a sole team that remained undefeated failed to win the competition.


As much as 13 matches ended with 4-0 result. This is post-war record.


Helle (Finland) scored 9 draws in 10 games. As far as we can get it this is biggest draw percentage (apart from those who played very few games of course) ever achieved.