20th Clare Benedict Chess Cup: Gstaad 1973

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Basic data

20th Clare Benedict Chess Cup
(see all-time tournament summary)
Date: 23rd - 30th June 1973
City: Gstaad, Switzerland
Venue: N/A
Tournament Director: N/A
Chief Arbiter: N/A
Teams participating: 8
Players participating: 40 (incl. 4 GMs and 18 IMs)
Games played: 112
Competition format: Four board round robin.
Final order decided by: 1. Game points; 2. Match points
Time control: N/A
Downloadable game file: 73cbc.zip

Tournament review

Miss Clare Benedict was an American nurse who spent much of her life in Lucerne, Switzerland. She was interested in chess, and in 1953 decided to sponsor a tournament.

It was an ambitious event, a team tournament for the championship of Western Europe. Six countries entered, with Holland the winner. The others, i norder of finish, were Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy and Belgium.

It became an annual tournament, and the battle for the Clare Benedict Cup attracted many of the best players in the countries involved. West Germany joined the fray in 1956, becoming the most frequent winner.

When Miss Benedict died in 1961 she left a fund to continue the tournament, which had always been held in Switzerland. This practice continued for several more years, until the legacy was used up.

By that time the tournament had been so well established that sponsors in other countries took over, and the site moved to West Germany, England, Spain and Austria.

For the 20th anniversary this year, it was back to Switzerland, with a Jubilee Tournament in Gstaad. For the first time eight countries were invited, rather than the limit of six that had previously been adhered to.

West Germany was the favorte, as usual, with two grandmasters, Wolfgang Unzicker and Lothar Schmidt, manning the top two boards. Yet in the very first round they were trounced 3-1 by the more youthful English team. Richard Keene beat Schmidt, while William Hartston held Unzicker to a draw.

Denmark, which also had a strong lineup though their one grandmaster Bent Larsen could not participate, took over the lead. After three rounds they had 9 points to 7½ for England. West Germany was in fifth place with 6.

By the sixth round the situation had changed dramatically, West Germany beat Denmark by 2½-1½ for the latter's only match loss, and led for the first time, with 15 points. Denmark and England were tied with 14½ points, the other teams all well behind.

In the final round the Germans had a difficult time with Italy, but finally won by 2½-1½. The other leaders played it safe. Denmark tying with Holland and England with Spain.

Thus it was another triumph for West Germany with a total of 17½ game points of a possible 28. The team won five matches, lost to England and tied with Switzerland.

England and denmark tied for second with 16½ points each. England had the better match record, winning four and tying three. Denmark scored 3½-½ against both Switzerland and Italy, but lost to West Germany and tied their other four matches.

/ Written by Isaac Kashdan, Los Angeles Times, December 9, 1973 /

*   *   *

For this very special occasion - it was the 20th in the series - eight countries were invited instead of the usual six. These eight were, in alphabetical order, Austria, Denmark, England, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and West Germany. The only newcomer was Denmark and all the other teams had, at one time or other, participated in this agreeable competition which might be termed the unofficial team championship of Western Europe.

The detailed results of the event were published in last month's issue but I thought the reader might like to have my account, or rather view, of this tournament which, whilst always fought out in the most friendly way, still consistently contains many exciting and interesting moments.

Firstly the venue, which, like all the places in which the Clare Benedict has been held in Switzerland, was utterly captivating in its beauty and charm. Gstaad is a delightful little town nestling in a hollow in the Bernese Oberland which is a centre and point of departure for the many skiing pistes that surround it. Overlooking it, on the lower slopes of the mountain range that provides the skiing is the Palace Hotel where the tournament was played. This was a perfect venue and as regards accommodation, food and all the thing about which chess-players and wont to complain (I know since I've done some complaining in my time) it could not have been bettered. The organisers were at fault in one respect - the weather, which was rainy and not particularly warm for the earlier half of the tournament.

It was explained to me that the weather had been beautifully warm and sunny the day before my arrival, a circumstance which by a consistently even, rather than odd, chance has occurred to me in some dozen events during the last couple of years. Unfortunately the weather turned for the better during the latter half of my stay. I write 'unfortunately' since it emboldened me to make the ascent of the Diablerets where I caught the worst cold of my life, from the effects of which it took me more than a month to recover, if indeed I really have done so.

But let me get to the chess. The holders of the Cup, West Germany, or the German Federal Republic as in its peculiar continental way it prefers to call itself, were naturally the favourites. True, neither Hübner nor Darga were in the team but even so, Unzicker, Schmid, Dueball, Kestler and Mohrlock, constituted a powerful team which had to be reckoned favourite for first place.

Experience has shown that the Germans have three main rivals. Chief used to be the Netherlands; but they have gone down of late and without Donner (who was announced to participate but seems to have been ill) they really do not compare with our side, impudent and immodest though it may seem of me to say it. Ours was the best available, Hartston, Keene, Penrose, Markland and Whiteley in that board order and we had good hopes of giving the Germans a strong fight for first place. The remaining rival, Spain, was a shadow of its former self and never looked a serious contender for a top place. The newcomers, the Danes, were surprisingly solid and indeed, if Larsen had been leading them I am sure they would have come first.

Our own hopes of coming first were raised on arrival by the discovery that the German team was lacking in the last three names originally announced and was therefore not so strong as anticipated and we started off with a wonderful win over West Germany by 3-1. That we could only draw 2-2 with Denmark in the next round was set off by Germany's failure to do more than this against Switzerland and we entered the third round with high hopes since we were paired with Italy, the weakest team in the competition. In this round West Germany beat Austria by 3-1, but there seemed no reason why we should not exceed this score in our match as the only reputable player the Italians had was Tatai on top board. He duly drew with Hartston and their second and third boards obliged by losing as expected. Then came a disaster for us on fourth board where Whiteley's Achilles heel - his endgame play - cost us a full point.

In the next round we drew 2-2 with the Dutch and out failure to do more than this was underlined by the Germans beating the Netherlands by 3½-½ in the next round.

Two solid victories, by 2½-1½ against both Switzerland and Austria, left us with an outside chance of coming first when the last round was reached. West Germany had 15 points and we and Denmark had 14½. But, whereas we were faced by Spain in the last round, the West Germans had Italy. In fact, they only beat the Italians by 2½-1½ and since we drew with Spain and the Danes did likewise with the Dutch we finished up equal second and third with Denmark, but had the satisfaction of being adjudged second on match points.

Obviously this must be deemed one of our better performances in the Clare Benedict and, whilst to the perfectionist our play left quite a lot to be desired, there are quite a lot of factors that give rise to optimum for the future of English chess in this event. Due credit must be given to Hartston for holding his own on the very difficult top board. He drew every game but the strength of the opposition will be gauged by the fact that it comprised three grandmasters and four international masters. Ray Keene, too, did particularly well on second board where he won the prize for the best score.

In now begins to look likely that, with the infusion of such fresh talents as Stean and Miles, we shall have a team capable of coming first.

/ Written by Harry Golombek, British Chess Magazine, 1973 /

Best board results

bd name flag code pts gms %
=1. GM Unzicker, Wolfgang Germany GER 4 6 66.7
=1. IM Hamann, Svend Denmark DEN 4 6 66.7
2. GM Schmid, Lothar Germany GER 6 75.0
3. IM Gerusel, Mathias Germany GER 6 75.0
4. Sloth, Jørn Denmark DEN 3 5 60.0
res. IM Bouwmeester, Hans Netherlands NED 3 4 75.0

Interesting games