7th Chess Olympiad: Stockholm 1937

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Basic data

7th Tournament of Nations (Chess Olympiad)
(see all-time tournament summary)
Date: 31th July - 14th August 1937
City: Stockholm, Sweden
Venue: Grand Royal Hotel
Tournament Director: N/A
Chief Arbiter: N/A
Teams participating: 19
Players participating: 94
Games played: 684 (1 game was forfeited)
Competition format: Four board round robin.
Final order decided by: 1. Game points; 2. Match points
Time control: 50 moves in 2 hours 30 minutes, then 1 hour for each next 20 moves
Downloadable game file: 37olm.zip (ca. 50% of games are missing)

Tournament review

Unfortunately the Stockholm Olympiad, one of strongest and most interesting events of the pre-war period went quite unsung among other events. The are couple of reasons for that. The Olympiad was adjacent to second Euwe-Alekhine World Championship match. In the middle of September chess press began to report the match and lost interest in the Olympiad. There was even worse congestion as the grandmaster tournament in Semmering-Baden was sandwiched between the two above. The games from Stockholm are ultimately hard to find and yet there were some documentaries in print in vast majority they were lost during the war. Stockholm's moderate size was in fact a bit of coincidence. As much as 7 entries from Munich dropped out and the number of participants was reduced down to 19, still better than in early 30's.

Hungary, Munich winners, had to be favourite with young Lilienthal and Szabó at their top boards. Many preferred the USA side though pointing out they won Olympic gold three times in a row before they missed Munich. Their team was supposed to be very consistent, with ex-Polish prodigy Samuel Reshevsky at the first board. Poland, the only team with not only a win in their credit (Hamburg 1930) and the only one never to have finished outside the medal zone were a medal must too. They had equal and well experienced team. Other teams to have real chances to outplace the top three were Czechoslovakia with firm all-time record (never worse than 5th place) and brilliant Flohr in their squad, a man who made incredible headway and was almost certain tip for future World Champion. Sweden, the host nation who had done respectable progress last years were hoping for highest placings. Yugoslavia were traditionally considered decent squad and Holland were awaited with huge interest because of presence of the World Champion Max Euwe. Many have deliberated what would happen if USSR took part. Here is an interesting article by W. H. Cozens.

Hungary immediately put their heads in the front winning 4-0 and Sweden were enormously disappointed with 1-3 debacle dealt by Argentina. Yet another defeat (1½-2½ vs USA) demoralised them and threw away long behind the fore. Poland took the lead wiping out Scotland and Iceland by clear score 8/8. Czechoslovakia were close behind followed by USA and The Netherlands. Hungary had early bye and dropped down the table though actually their scores were very promising really. The key match of round 5 was Hungary vs USA which ended in a honourable 2-all draw. Czechoslovakia beat resigned Sweden by 3-1 and went close to top. Later on the same day Poland continued to pull away at the top hammering poor hosts with dreadful 3½-½. The rest of the top pack won their matches as well. Finland lost their first match of the event in round 6 and were dismissed from excellent 5th place. USA had a bye in round 7 and Holland lead by almighty Euwe (5/5 so far) won a streak of matches which lifted them to joint runner-up spot. Frontal match of round 8, Hungary-Czechoslovakia ended up in 2-2 draw, Poland outplayed Yugoslavia by narrow margin, yet this was another win in their record. Estonia crunched amateur Scotland without any loss and were in 4th place, 1½ point behind Holland and Czechoslovakia, with excellent prospects for future given that Estonia had yet an extra match in the pocket (and with dreary perspective to match all the top seeds in forthcoming rounds). USA beat Belgium in next round by a wide margin and moved towards the top at the cost of Estonia who lost to another Baltic republic, Lithuania (Keres-Mikėnas: a draw). Poland drew with Hungary and kept the lead with safe margin. US team, who started poorly picked up good speed and outscored Czechoslovakia moving above them into third place while still a match in hand, not only over Czechoslovakia but also over Poland, who beat Argentina and Holland. The meeting of the leaders, Poland and USA brought end in sight. USA let off just a mere draw and levelled on points with Poland with an extra match to play. Euwe made famous ending blunder and lost his first game to Hungarian top Lilienthal contributing to Holland's first defeat. USA went clear over Denmark in the next round leaving stumbled Poles no hope. Czechoslovakia and Holland, who beat Argentina were close to former leaders. Estonia and Hungary, both with a match in hand, were ready for final sprint. The contenders' clash ended with Hungary's valuable 3-1 victory leaving them clear way for medal chase. Poland surprisingly dropped 1½ point to Belgium and USA came to a 4x draw standstill in their match against Holland. Czechoslovakia-Poland 2-2 was major result of the next day. Stoltz of Sweden was so confused about his miserable record that he failed to appear at the game hall to play with Reid from Scotland. This cost Sweden humiliating default, the only one of the Olympiad. As the final rounds were getting closer and closer Hungary and especially Argentina were accelerating and Poland, Czechoslovakia and Holland were restraining. Hungary failed to make advantage of Poland's bye in 15th round and US' modest win over Estonia (Keres destroyed Reshevsky on top board) and only tied with bottom placed Italians. Round 16 brought Czechoslovakia-Holland draw and another sensational loss of Dr. Euwe, this time outplayed easily by unknown Finnish player Gauffin. USA had 44 points, Holland (before a bye), Hungary and Poland had 40½ points each, Czechoslovakia laid 5th with 38 points. In round 17 Holland lost to Poland and definitely took the back seat. Hungary outplayed Scotland and earned 1½ point advantage over Polish side. The penultimate round definitely answered the question about who is going to take the Hamilton-Russell Cup home. USA beat Iceland 4-0 and were 4½ points ahead over Hungary, being mathematically unattainable with a spare round to go. Hungary merely halved with Lithuania and Poland lost to Latvia. Argentina continued their stunning final run with third consecutive 4-0 win, this time over Scotland, and they came to very close to Poland. In fact they levelled on points with the Poles after having beaten Estonia 3-1 (unerring Pleci failed to win his game this time!) and watching Poland beat Estonia 2½-1½. Poland finished third by virtue of their Match Point record. Hungary easily came second but with a huge margin to go to level with the Americans. Czechoslovakia once again finished 5th, and Holland laid 6th.

USA won fourth consecutive gold, this time lead by Olympic newcomer Reshevsky. He scored decent 59% but apart from treacherous susceptibility for disastrous zeitnots he had shown creative middle-game plans and true mastery of the endings. The rest did even better, they won three gold medals for individual performance and Marshall and Horowitz went through the event undefeated. Kashdan's only loss was accompanied with 13 wins and just 2 draws. Hungary recovered after few years of stagnation. Young generation was dominant all over the field but still Steiner played like in his prime (14½/18 and silver individual medal). The only problem was, their reserve player Vajda scored 1/4 compared to US reserve Horowitz 13/15... Poland took bronze medals with Tartakower who surprisingly found himself happy to scrap a draw at board 1. Still this was enough for his pushy colleagues who smashed their opposition without mercy. Regedziński's aggressive play brought him respectable 11/13 (and a silver individual medal) and the rest were not much behind. Najdorf, apart Tartakower certainly the strongest player of the Polish team at the moment, might have done a bit better perhaps. Argentina came 4th, just by a fraction losing bronze medals with their stumbling final ride being most surprising for everyone. Pleci proved most useful member of the team. Argentina's unexpected Champion Luis Piazzini defended himself well on top board losing only twice. It is only Bolbochán's poor record that deprived them of well-deserved medals, though we must frankly add that he hadn't lost any game against less than a chess giant, those who beat him were Ståhlberg, Lilienthal, Flohr, Keres and Apšenieks. Czechoslovakia won 5th place lead by magnificent Flohr, who won gold individual medal at board 1 and went through entire event undefeated with his simple yet relentlessly subtle play, a result that made FIDE to name him as an official candidate for next World Championship match. Euwe's result on top board was respectable yet not roaring, more was expected from newly crowned World Champion. His excellent start was followed by true collapse of form starting from halfway of the event. Sweden, the host nation, found themselves down in miserable 10th place. Stoltz scored disastrous 29%, Lundin and Jonsson were below the half-line also. Only Danielsson met the expectations and won gold individual medal with excellent 14/18 record. The Stockholm Olympiad, lost in the jungle of other glorious chess events was in fact fascinating high-level competition keeping everyone in suspense.

Best board results

1st Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. Flohr, Salomon CSR 12½ 16 78.1
2. Keres, Paul EST 11 15 73.3
3. Euwe, Machgielis NED 13 73.1

2nd Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. Fine, Reuben USA 11½ 15 76.7
2. Szabó, László HUN 12½ 18 69.4
3. Trifunović, Petar YUG 11 16 68.8

3rd Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. Kashdan, Isaac USA 14 16 87.5
2. Steiner, Endre HUN 14½ 18 80.6
3. Frydman, Paulin POL 11½ 16 71.9

4th Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. Danielsson, Gösta SWE 14 18 77.8
2. Guimard, Carlos Enrique ARG 11 16 68.8
3. Luckis, Markas LTU 11½ 17 67.6

Reserve Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. Horowitz, Israel Albert USA 13 15 86.7
2. Regedziński, Teodor POL 11 13 84.6
3. Pleci, Isaías ARG 14 17 82.4

Interesting games

Classics of the art of attack.
Keres, Paul (EST) - Reshevsky, Samuel Herman (USA) 1 - 0

World Champion proved superiority over Estonian genius.
Keres, Paul (EST) - Euwe, Machgielis (NED) 0 - 1

We haven't seen much like that from Tartakower's side.
Lethal plan and debacle in 16.
Castaldi, Vincenzo (ITA) - Tartakower, Ksawery (POL) 1 - 0

Surprisingly this time Castaldi went into patzer mode
NEVER play Two Knights Defence like that.
Castaldi, Vincenzo (ITA) - Keres, Paul (EST) 0 - 1

One can sense the tense atmosphere of the Olympiads in such games.
Castaldi, Vincenzo (ITA) - Euwe, Machgielis (NED) 0 - 1

Black went into trouble after hazardous b-pawn ride.
Böök, Eero (FIN) - Najdorf, Mieczysław (POL) 1 - 0

One of most famous Olympic blunders made by reigning World Champion.
71. Bg6! was winning easily instead.
Euwe, Machgielis (NED) - Lilienthal, Andor (HUN) 0 - 1

Another sensational failure of the World Champion.
Gauffin, Thorsten (FIN) - Euwe, Machgielis (NED) 1 - 0

Unexpected rook sacrifice.
Guðmundsson, Jón (ISL) - Flohr, Salomon (CSR) 0 - 1

Suddenly Black pieces jazzed up.
Ståhlberg, Gideon (SWE) - Euwe, Machgielis (NED) 0 - 1

Exciting battle under heavy time pressure.
Alexander, Conel Hughes (ENG) - Kashdan, Isaac (USA) 0 - 1

Ravishing attack. Latvian gambit once again failed
at Latvian master's fingertips.
Trifunović, Petar (YUG) - Apšenieks, Fricis (LAT) 1 - 0

A rout.
Frydman, Paulin (POL) - Vistaneckis, Isakas (LTU) 1 - 0

Double-edged, savage battle.
Prins, Lodewijk (NED) - Appel, Izaak (POL) 1 - 0

White Queen in pawn guarded tangle.
Kashdan, Isaac (USA) - Steiner, Endre (HUN) 0 - 1

Fascinating passage of tactical plots.
Grau, Roberto (ARG) - Vaitonis, Povilas (LTU) 1 - 0

Unique surge of White pawns attacking Black Kingside.
Regedziński, Teodor (POL) - Jonsson, Inge (SWE) 1 - 0

Sophisticated endgame strategy by Flohr.
Flohr, Salomon (CSR) - Bolbochán, Jacobo (ARG) 1 - 0

White missed a win at 7th move but Black insisted... Black resigned after 8 moves.
Ozols, Kārlis (LAT) - Reid, Peter (SCO) 1 - 0

Bishop exchange offer required very accurate pawn ending calculations.
Foltys, Jan (CSR) - Sørensen, Ernst (DEN) 1 - 0


Virtually every winner of both team and individual medal won the medals of same colour. The only exception was Poland's Regedziński who won bronze medal with Polish team and silver individual medal for his performance at board 5.


For the first time other than top team went undefeated judging by match results only. Hungary won 11 matches and drew 7.