Chess in 1946

 by Bill Wall


In 1946, the USSR joined FIDE for the first time.


In 1946 Humphrey Bogart lost a match and $100 to the restaurateur, Mike Romanoff (1890-1972). That evening Bogart went home, and then phoned Romanoff to play one more game over the phone for another $100. Romanoff agreed, and then lost in 20 moves. Bogart just happened to have former US chess champion Herman Steiner over his house, and Bogart's moves were really Steiner's moves.


In January, 1946, Alexander Alekhine's last chess match was with Francisco Lupi at Estoril, Portugal. Alekhine won 2, lost 1, and drew 1.



On January 3, 1946, William Joyce (1906-1946), also known as Lord Haw Haw, was hanged for high treason at Wandsworth Prison in London.  The last thing he did before being hanged was to finish his chess game with his prison guard.  (source: Bakersfield Californian, Jan 3, 1946)


On January 9, 1946, Savielly Tartakower won the Hastings Christmas Congress.  (source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Jan 10, 1946)


In January, 1946, a Victory Chess Tournament was to be held in London. World Champion Alekhine was first invited by the British. The there were objections from the Dutch and the U.S. Chess Federation because of his articles of anti-Jewish content published under the signature of Alekhine. Some of the masters (USA) had threatened to withdraw from the tournament if Alekhine was invited. Alekhine was not invited to the event, which was won by Herman Steiner (8 wins, 1 loss, 2 draws)  (source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Jan 31, 1946)


On January 19, 1946, Gennady Kuzmin was born in Marinsk, Russia.  He was awarded the GM title in 1973.


On February 27, 1946, Goran Andersson was born in Alvesta, Sweden.  He was awarded the IMC in 1979 and was awarded the Correspondence Grandmaster (GMC) title in 1992,


On February 28, 1946, Srdjan Cvetkovic was born in Sremska Mitrovica, Yugoslavia.  He was awarded the IM title in 1980.


In March, 1946, Dr. Edward Lasker became president of the recently formed Association of American Chess Masters.  (source: Syracuse Post-Standard, Mar 10, 1946)


In early March, 1946, Alexander Alekhine received a telegram from Mr. Derbyshire, the President of the British Chess Federation, transmitting a challenge to a match by the Russian champion, Mikhail Botvinnik (dated February 4, 1946). The Moscow Chess Club was offering $10,000 for the match. The match would take place in England subject to the British Chess Federation's (BCF) approval. Alekhine would receive $6,600 to play in the challenge match.  Shortly after receiving the invitation, Alekhine suffered another heart attack. He soon recovered and accepted the challenge and started his preparation for the match.  He was also working on a collection of Capablanca’s best games.


On March 15, 1946, Vladimir Tukmakov was born in Odessa.  He was awarded the GM title in 1972.  He played in 14 USSR championships.


On March 16, 1946, Michael Basman was born in London.  He was awarded the IM title in 1980.


On March 22, 1946, Jan Smejkal was born in Lanskroun, Czechsoslovakia.  He was awarded the IM title in 1970 and the GM title in 1972.  He was Czech champion in 1973, 1979, and 1986.


On March 23, 1946, the British Chess Federation (BCF) unanimously agreed to sponsor the match in England between Alekhine and Botvinnik.


On the evening of March 23 or early March 24, 1946, Alexander Alekhine (1892-1946) died in his shabby hotel room (the Park Hotel) in Estoril, Portugal (just outside Lisbon) at the age of 53. A chambermaid found his body at 10:30 am on March 24.   He was dressed in an overcoat to keep warm and slumped back in a ratty armchair with a peg chess set on the table and his dinner dishes in front of him.  Physicians said his death was due to angina pectoris.  He was the fourth World Champion, reigning from 1927 to 1935, and from 1937 until his death in 1946. (source: Galveston Daily News, March 25, 1946)


On April 1, 1946, Ivan Farago was born in Budapest.  He was awarded the IM title in 1974 and the GM title in 1976.  In 1981, he tied for 1st with Lajos Portisch in the Hungarian championship.


In April, 1946, medical doctors who carried out a port-mortem examination of Alekhine, were astonished to find that, although he drank two and a half pints of cognac every day, his liver was in perfect condition.  Doctors planned in examining his brain next.  There were discussions between French and Spanish Foreign Offices whether the body would be permitted to cross the Franco-Spanish frontier for burial in France.  Alekhine was a naturalized French subject.  (source: Sydney Morning Herald, April 6, 1946).


On April 6, 1946, Franz Hoelzl was born in Kufstein, Austria.  He was Austrian champion in 1975 and 1981 (after a play-off).  He was awarded the IM title in 1985.


On April 18, 1946, Naum Rashkovsky was born in Sverdlovsk, USSR.  He was awarded the IM title in 1976 and the GM title 1980.  He tied for 1st in the 1982 Moscow championship.  In 2007, he won the European Senior Championship.


In May, 1946, a book on chess published in 1474 and reputedly the second book printed in the English language brought $7,600 at a Southeby’s auction.  The Game and Playe of Chesse by Jacobus de Cassolis, translated by William Caxton, once formed a portion of the library of Lord Cunliffe.  (source: Bradford, PA Record, May 13, 1946)


On May 13, 1946, Charles Dealtry Locock (1862-1946) died in London.  He won the British Amateur Championship in 1887 (after a play-off).


On June 2, 1946, Luis Bronstein (1946-2014) was born in Cordoba, Argentina.  He was awarded the IM title in 1978.


On June 15, 1946, Alvis Vitolinsh (1946-1997) was born in Sigulda, Latvia.  He was Latvian Champion in 1973 (jointly), 1976, 1977, 1978, 1982, 1983 and 1985 (jointly).  He was awarded the IM title in 1980.


In June, 1946, the first radio match between Great Britain and the Soviet Union took place.  The USSR easily won (18-6) with players like Botvinnik, Keres, Smyslov, Boleslavky, Flohr, Kotov, Bronstein, Boleslavsky, Lilienthal, and Ragozin.  In other radio matches in 1946, Australia beat France (5.5-4.5), and Spain beat Argentina (8-7).


In July, 1946, Larry Friedman, age 15, won the first national junior chess championship, held in Cleveland.  (source: Berkshire Eagle, July 11, 1946)


In July, 1946, the US Open was held in Pittsburgh. Herman Steiner took 1st.  It was the 1st Swiss System pairing for the US Open because of so many entries (58 players). (source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 21, 1946)


On August 7, 1946, David J. Strauss was born in London.  In 1973 he won the California State Championship. He tied for first at the American Open in 1971, 1975, 1978, 1980, 1983, 1985, and 1992. He was awarded the IM title in 1982.


On August 10, 1946, Sergio Mariotti was born in Florence, Italy.  He was Italian champion in 1969 and 1971. He was awarded the IM title in 1969 and the GM title in 1974 (the first Italian GM).


On August 24, 1946, Bozidor Ivanovic was born in Cetinje, Yugoslavia.  He won the Yugoslav Championship three times, 1973, 1981 and 1983 (jointly).  He was awarded the IM title in 1976 and the GM title in 1977.


On August 25, 1946, Fedor Kuskof Kelling died in New Zealand.  He was the Grand Old Man of New Zealand chess.  He was practically the founder of the New Zealand Chess Association. He was NZ champion in 1908/1909 and 1914/1915 and holds the record for the most New Zealand championship appearances, competing in 36 championships.


On September 1, 1946, the 1st USCF official publication, Chess Life, was published.


On September 7, 1946, Mikhail Botvinnik won the 1st major international chess tourney after WW2, at Groningen, Netherlands.  There were 20 players in the event from 13 different countries.  This was Botvinnik’s first outright victory in a tournament outside the Soviet Union.  Botvinnik was presented with a silver cigarette case, a gift of Queen Wilheimina, even though Botvinnik didn’t smoke (Botvinnik smoked  briefly for 2 months durng a study group in 1928, but once the studies were over, he gave it up).  .  Botvinnik won the tournament despite losing his last-round game (lost to Najdorf).  Former world champion Max Euwe, Botvinnik’s only rival who had a chance to pass him at the end, also lost his last-round game, to Alexander Kotov after four hours of play.  (source: Eugene Guard, Sep 8, 1946)


On September 17, 1946, the USSR vs. USA return match ended in Moscow.  The USSR team won.


In November, 1946, the 1st Central American Team Championship was held in Guatemala.  Nicaragua won.


On November 5, 1946, Miodrag Cetkovic was born in Vladican-Han, Yugoslavia.  He was awarded the IM title in 1983.


On November 12, 1946, Hanna Erenska-Barlo was born in Poznan, Poland.  She was awarded the WIM tile in 1973 and the WGM title in 1981.  She won the Polish women’s championship in 1971, 1972, 1977, 1979, and 1980. 


On November 17, 1946, the 6th US Championship was held in New York. Samuel Reshevsky took 1st. 


On November 20, 1946,  Algimantas Butnorius was born in Lithuania.  He was awarded the IM title in 1983 and the GM title in 2007.  He won the Lithuanian championship 10 times.  In 2007 he won the World Senior Championship.


On December 30, 1946, Bruce M. Amos was born in Toronto.  He was awarded the IM title in 1969.