Clare Benedict Cup history
The annual team tournament commonly known as Clare Benedict cup was founded in early 1950s as Mrs. Benedict decided to raise some funds necessary to run the event. The tournament is sometimes referred to as "the six nations competition" (apparently linking to number of participating nations fixed at six for most of the time) which is not only incorrect, but first of all misleading, since the same name is often attributed to the Nordic Cup. Clare Benedict tournaments quickly gained much popularity attracting many good players and became sort of unofficial championship of Western Europe. The format was four board round robin with exception of the premier edition which was played at five boards. First eleven editions took place in Switzerland.
|Clare Benedict (1871-1961)
| She was a chess patron of American origin born in Cleveland, OH. Her great-grandmother was a sister of James Fenimore Cooper, the well-known American writer and novelist. She was also niece of Constance Fenimore Woolson, an American expatriate Victorian writer. In an effort to create a worthy monument to the memory of her aunt, Mrs. Benedict gave Rollins College a building that she furnished with items from Woolson's estate. Clare Benedict herself was a writer, even if not as gifted as her aunt. In 1945 she moved to Switzerland and founded an annual team tournament commonly recognized as the "Clare Benedict Cup".
The first edition was played in 1953 and Holland won led by ex-World Champion Euwe. The same story happened two years later. 1956 saw first victory of West German team repeated in 1957. The fifth edition was the only one won by the Swiss (although they lost as much as two matches out of five played). The Germans took two consecutive wins then being stopped in 1961 by Austria led by Robatsch who achieved their only win on that occasion. In 1962 Spain and West Germany had perfectly equal results. Why the Germans were classified first is not clear. West Germany won for the sixth time in 1963 which meant, according to the rules, they won the cup founded by Mrs. Benedict in perpetuity. The new cup was founded by the president of German Chess Federation. A strange coincidence occurred in 1964. All of six teams finished in exactly the same order in which they were drawn (which occurs once every 720 tournaments)! In 1965 the cup took place in West Berlin which happened to be the first time when the event was played outside Switzerland. In late 1960s Holland started to emerge as leading force winning three times. In 1970 three teams tied at 12 points. Spain (Pomar, Medina) won by virtue of match point record. In 1973 number of participating nations was extended to 8. Italy were back after two decades and Denmark were the absolute newcomers. The Danes managed even to win the 22nd edition played on a home soil in 1977. The 1979 edition, which turned out to be the last was won by England; that was the only championship to see as much as three teams without a match loss. Then the competition was cancelled forever (as it was cancelled in 1975, 1976 and 1978) due to lack of interest. The numerator froze on number 23 - which interestingly appears to be a waterloo for many team events (Student Olympiads, Balkaniads).
Winners: 12x West Germany, 5x Netherlands, 2x Spain, 2x England, 1x Switzerland, 1x Austria, 1x Denmark