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AVRO Tournament

Paul Keres8.5/14(+3 -0 =11)[games]
Reuben Fine8.5/14(+6 -3 =5)[games]
Mikhail Botvinnik7.5/14(+3 -2 =9)[games]
Alexander Alekhine7/14(+3 -3 =8)[games]
Max Euwe7/14(+4 -4 =6)[games]
Samuel Reshevsky7/14(+3 -3 =8)[games]
Jose Raul Capablanca6/14(+2 -4 =8)[games]
Salomon Flohr4.5/14(+0 -5 =9)[games]
* Chess Event Description
AVRO (1938)

In November 1938, a Dutch radio company AVRO (1) organized and sponsored what was up to that time the strongest tournament (2) ever held. AVRO (Algemeene Vereeniging voor Radio Omroep - literally the General Association for Radio Broadcasting) brought together the World Champion and every one of his major challengers. It ran from the 6th to the 27th of November 1938 with the players based in Amsterdam and each successive round played in a different Dutch town.

This tournament schedule proved rigorous for the older competitors and Capablanca and Alekhine did not fare as well as might have been expected. In the end, Keres and Fine finished in joint first place with Keres declared the winner as a result of a better tie-break score.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 =1 Keres ** 1½ ½½ ½½ ½½ 1½ 1½ ½½ 8½ =1 Fine 0½ ** 1½ 11 10 10 ½½ 1½ 8½ 3 Botvinnik ½½ 0½ ** 1½ ½0 1½ ½1 ½½ 7½ =4 Alekhine ½½ 00 0½ ** 1½ ½½ ½1 ½1 7 =4 Euwe ½½ 01 ½1 0½ ** 0½ 01 1½ 7 =4 Reshevsky 0½ 01 0½ ½½ 1½ ** ½½ 1½ 7 7 Capablanca 0½ ½½ ½0 ½0 10 ½½ ** 1½ 6 8 Flohr ½½ 0½ ½½ ½0 0½ 0½ 0½ ** 4½

(1), (2) Wikipedia article: AVRO 1938 chess tournament. The main source for this collection was A.V.R.O. 1938 Chess Tournament, 'B.C.M.' Classic Reprint No. 12. ISBN 900846 10 0.

Original collection: Game Collection: AVRO 1938, by User: Benzol.

 page 1 of 3; games 1-25 of 56  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Flohr vs Capablanca ½-½411938AVROD19 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav, Dutch
2. Alekhine vs Reshevsky ½-½601938AVROE20 Nimzo-Indian
3. Euwe vs Keres ½-½401938AVROE00 Queen's Pawn Game
4. Fine vs Botvinnik 1-0311938AVROC17 French, Winawer, Advance
5. Capablanca vs Alekhine ½-½481938AVROE17 Queen's Indian
6. Reshevsky vs Fine 0-1371938AVROE10 Queen's Pawn Game
7. Euwe vs Flohr 1-0321938AVROE11 Bogo-Indian Defense
8. Keres vs Botvinnik ½-½261938AVROE17 Queen's Indian
9. Alekhine vs Euwe 1-0411938AVROD14 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav, Exchange Variation
10. Flohr vs Keres  ½-½231938AVROE12 Queen's Indian
11. Fine vs Capablanca ½-½441938AVROC17 French, Winawer, Advance
12. Botvinnik vs Reshevsky 1-0371938AVROA25 English
13. Keres vs Reshevsky 1-0441938AVROC79 Ruy Lopez, Steinitz Defense Deferred
14. Capablanca vs Botvinnik ½-½261938AVROD93 Grunfeld, with Bf4 & e3
15. Flohr vs Alekhine  ½-½231938AVROE15 Queen's Indian
16. Euwe vs Fine 0-1441938AVROD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
17. Reshevsky vs Capablanca ½-½561938AVROE37 Nimzo-Indian, Classical
18. Botvinnik vs Euwe ½-½411938AVROA13 English
19. Fine vs Flohr 1-0281938AVROC17 French, Winawer, Advance
20. Alekhine vs Keres ½-½421938AVROE58 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Main line with 8...Bxc3
21. Keres vs Capablanca 1-0381938AVROC09 French, Tarrasch, Open Variation, Main line
22. Alekhine vs Fine 0-1681938AVROC83 Ruy Lopez, Open
23. Flohr vs Botvinnik ½-½421938AVROD84 Grunfeld, Grunfeld Gambit Accepted
24. Euwe vs Reshevsky 0-1561938AVROD70 Neo-Grunfeld Defense
25. Reshevsky vs Flohr 1-0441938AVROD81 Grunfeld, Russian Variation
 page 1 of 3; games 1-25 of 56  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  ChessHigherCat: <sneaky pete> Nice goose! Is this the same kind?:

At first I tried to search "Dutch Goose" but there's a restaurant with that name in Menlo Park, so I just got pages and pages of advertisements!

As to the link, once I figured out how to get past the cookie monster on the cookies page, I clicked the video and got some kind of recording of a torture chamber where people were being forced to swallow burning hot mashed potatoes! Just kidding, that's how Dutch always sounds to me, my listening comprehension is horrible! If I ever improve I'll go back to it.

Jun-08-18  sneaky pete: <CHC> No, the goose is of the Florida Two Month variety. It feeds on alligators, Life Masters and bananas.

The link is to a radio program. Radio is something like video, but without moving pictures. Some of what you hear comes from recordings (on glass 78 rpm records) of actual radio programs from the early 1940s. You can also hear collaborating technicians testify that, as an act of resistance, they did their best to make the propaganda programs sound as bad as they could. Obviously they succeeded.

Premium Chessgames Member
  ChessHigherCat: <sneaky pete>: A bananaphagic goose, that's pretty scary! And I don't understand how you can play video games on the radio, but it must be one of those lost secrets of the Ancients.

This is a pretty good book about an American undercover agent in WWII who has a racist radio show but the real purpose is to give signals to the underground depending on his phrasing. Unfortunately, nobody believes him after the war and the US government won't back up his story:

You can choose the Kindle format for $7.99, the paperback for $4.05 or the hardback for $199.99, it's up to you :-)

Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: Four World Champions out of eight total players--and none of them finished first. The current title holder went +0 -2 =2 against the top two. Now *that* was a tournament.
Sep-13-18  newzild: Dubious to call this the strongest tournament ever held.

The weakest player at St Petersburg 1895/6, for example, was ranked #5 in the world by Chessmetrics.

Sep-13-18  Lambda: There are many different credible answers to "what was the strongest chess tournament ever held?" depending on what you mean by "strongest", how you compare between eras etc. But this is definitely one of them.
Sep-13-18  JimNorCal: <newzild> makes a good point. If you go by world ranking, StP1895 was enormously strong.

But I wonder what the (estimated/calculated) ELOs were. Maybe that is the basis for claiming AVROs strength.

Sep-13-18  Joseph Blackcape: According to Chessmetrics the 8 players at AVRO were rated the top 8 players in the world with Botvinnik being #1 (2763) and Euwe #8 (2716). So if you go by estimated rating no possibility for it being any stronger.

Link for reference:

Sep-13-18  JimNorCal: StP 1895/6 had 4 of the top 5 with, if I am reading it correctly, these imputed ratings:

Lasker 2842
Chigorin 2794
Steinitz 2746
Pillsbury 2727

Sep-13-18  Howard: Some sources go by players' peak ratings when it comes to gauging tournament strength--not necessarily their ratings at the time of the event.

Capablanca's peak rating was estimated to be 2720, if I remember right. But was he playing at that level in 1938? Hardly likely !

Sep-17-18  newzild: Yes, St Petersburg was stronger both by average Chessmetrics rating (helped by Lasker's stratospheric rating of 2842) and also by average world ranking.
Sep-17-18  Olavi: If any of the eight players in AVRO was replaced by any other player in the world, the tournament would have been weaker. If Tarrasch would have replaced anybody else than Lasker in St Petersburg, I don't think you can say the same.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Chessmetrics ratings are supposed to be comparable across generations but they aren’t, really. So I wouldn’t put much stock in a ratings comparison. If you treat ranking as a proxy for strength then obviously a tournament with four of the top five is going to be stronger than a tournament with the top 8, but as Olavi points out you can’t make AVRO stronger (except by eliminating the bottom half of the field), while you can strengthen St. Petersburg by adding Tarrasch (who was invited, incidentally).

Not sure how relevant this is, but I think if you could invite 1895 Steinitz and Chigorin to play at AVRO they’d get their clocks cleaned. 1895 Lasker could hold his own, just as 1935-36 Lasker could against many of the AVRO contestants. I’m not sure about Pillsbury.

Sep-18-18  Howard: Like that expression---"get their clocks cleaned" !

Another drawback of Chessmetrics ratings is that the mere existence of the rating system frequently has an effect on how professionals play. But no rating system existed before 1970, or at least not by FIDE.

Sep-18-18  Howard: Oh, I couldn't agree more with Keypusher. Ratings reflect RELATIVE strength, not absolute.

There's a difference !

Sep-18-18  RookFile: Elo's rating system was around in the early 1960's. It just wasn't adopted by FIDE until later.
Sep-19-18  Howard: Exactly!
Sep-20-18  newzild: Well, how to compare tournament strengths across generations, then? Do we automatically assume that a tournament with the top 6 players today is stronger than a tournament with the top 6 players in the 1990s? Were Flohr and an aging Capablanca stronger than Chigorin and Pillsbury?
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <newzild>
<Well, how to compare tournament strengths across generations, then?>

Wikipedia has a nice article on historical chess strength comparisons:

Sep-20-18  Lambda: <Well, how to compare tournament strengths across generations, then?>

With difficulty. The trouble is, if you ask "is this player from X era stronger than this player from Y era", it isn't even clear what you're enquiring about. You might think it's something like "if a time traveller was to pick them both up from these points in their career and had then play each other in their time machine, who would come out better?" but this means you're allowing for statements like "a player who lives in an era where it's known white's queen's bishop should go to f4 or g5 in the QGD is stronger, all else being equal, than someone who lives in an era where it's thought b2 is best" which is a bit silly, really. It's like comparing Federer and Laver in tennis by going "well, Federer has a better racket..."

Sep-20-18  newzild: <Lambda> Yes, I agree. I cannot think of any method better than Chessmetrics, which is at least based on an algorithm.
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: <AVRO FACTS AND TRIVIA>

1. In the entire tournament of 56 games not one Sicilian Defense was played.

2. <Reshevsky> was in time trouble in 12 of the 14 games he played.

3. The first 8 moves between <Capablanca and Reshevsky> in a game they played in AVRO took exactly one hour. Nothing startling in that, but this was the break down:

Reshevsky 58 minutes
Capablanca 2 minutes

(Taken from the <Fireside Book of Chess> by Reinfeld and Chernev)

Which one? Reshevsky vs Capablanca, 1938 or Capablanca vs Reshevsky, 1938

Source: A.V.R.O. 1938 by Arthur S Antler

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <whiteshark>
It was Capablanca vs Reshevsky, 1938 According to a kibitz on that game, Reshevsky spent 50 minutes on a single move.
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: Thanks <beatgiant>!!

I only checked in the above mentioned book and somehow didn't get the idea to trust our community here.

Man, I'm really getting old...

Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: Rare audio recoding of Capablanca for this tournament:

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