Monday, 6 August 2007

At Last! The 1948 Show!

If you were wondering about the title, there used to be a TV comedy show in the 1960s called "At Last! The 1948 Show" with some of the comedians who later gained fame as Pythons and Goodies taking part. We are currently running the chess equivalent here at the BCM Blog, where Bernard Cafferty follows up Leonard Barden's contribution of yesterday on the 1948 British Championship. We haven't taken our eyes off the 2007 version, by the way, and I note that Jacob Aagaard has just reached 6½/7 after beating Simon Williams. He is still in parallel with BH Wood since BH also had that score in 1948. Or did he? Actually it was a tad more complicated than that, as Bernard Cafferty explains...

"Reference in the Hastings CC to the austerity-sized October and November issues of BCM and CHESS of 1948 indicate that the situation was not as clear-cut as indicated by a retrospective account of the round-by-round scores. Games needing two adjourned sessions to establish a result seem not to have been played off as quickly as one would expect. I assume from the narrative that there were no morning adjourned sessions. Perhaps Bishopsgate Institute was not open in the morning? Or could it have been that there was morning play, but no evening adjourned sessions?" (note - Bernard was not present at the 1948 championship but perhaps Leonard Barden or Bob Wade could comment? - ed)

"In the October 1948 CHESS, page 1, BHW states that Alexander and Sir George Thomas were spoken of as leaders in the first week - though in retrospect it was actually Barry Wood, who started with 6½ points from his first seven games! There had been a 'partial clearance of outstanding games on the Sunday'".

"When Broadbent and Wood faced up to each other in the last round, each had a score of 7/9. The former still had to play the second session of his 7th(!) round game with Ritson Morry, BHW had do likewise with his 10th game with Milner-Barry."

Bernard goes on to describe what happened in the two adjournments, but let's first have a look at the key round 11 game between Broadbent and Wood.

BH must have thought he'd spotted a mate and played 28...Qh4. There followed 29 Rxf8+ Kxf8 30 a7 Qh2+ 31 Kf1 and Black must by now have realised that 31...Qh1 is not mate because White has the simple bishop retreat 32 Bg1. Black had to resign a couple of moves later. What he had missed was 28...Bh2+ 29 Kxh2 Rxf1 winning the exchange and the game. After 30 Bf2 Qe7 keeps the a-pawn at bay. That would probably have sewn up the title without reference to the adjourned game from round 10. Now, back to Bernard...

"The Broadbent-Morry game was thought to be a draw, as it turned out to be in fact after 74 moves; the Milner-Barry-Wood game depended on Wood’s sealed 57th move, after M-B had sacrificed a knight just before adjournment, as both sides went for a win. As Wood commented in his magazine '…an unsatisfactory situation, which really should not be allowed'".

"Milner-Barry had White, in a French, and the position was as shown above. According to Bob Wade’s account, analysis by others established that Black could win by 57…Kb5 58 e8Q Bxe8 59 Kxd5 Bc6+ 60 Ke6 h4! 61 gxh4 Bf3 and …Bh5. BHW chose 57…Kb3 and lost after 58 Kc5 Ba4 59 Kxd5 Kxb2 62 Ke6 Be8 53 Kf6 Kd4 54 Kf8 ….1-0 in 72 moves."

"BHW gave a flare-up of his duodenal ulcer trouble, first incurred during the war, as his reason for falling back as the event progressed. Doubtless the fact that he knew he had sealed a losing move weighed heavily on him, adding to the tension of the last round."

If you'd like to play through these games, I've now uploaded a file of all extant 1948 British Championship games to BritBase. There are only 15 complete games out of 66 but there are also a few fragments of games culled from BCM. Click here to play through the games.

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