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Zuerich Candidates Tournament

Vasily Smyslov18/28(+9 -1 =18)[games]
David Bronstein16/28(+6 -2 =20)[games]
Samuel Reshevsky16/28(+8 -4 =16)[games]
Paul Keres16/28(+8 -4 =16)[games]
Tigran V Petrosian15/28(+6 -4 =18)[games]
Miguel Najdorf14.5/28(+5 -4 =19)[games]
Efim Geller14.5/28(+8 -7 =13)[games]
Alexander Kotov14/28(+8 -8 =12)[games]
Mark Taimanov14/28(+7 -7 =14)[games]
Yuri Averbakh13.5/28(+5 -6 =17)[games]
Isaac Boleslavsky13.5/28(+4 -5 =19)[games]
Laszlo Szabo13/28(+5 -7 =16)[games]
Svetozar Gligoric12.5/28(+5 -8 =15)[games]
Max Euwe11.5/28(+5 -10 =13)[games]
Gideon Stahlberg8/28(+3 -15 =10)[games]
* Chess Event Description
Zuerich Candidates (1953)

This event was played in Neuhausen am Rheinfall and Zürich. 1 These are the games in order according to David Bronstein's excellent book, Zurich International Chess Tournament 1953. He participated in the tournament with the strongest players in the world at that time in a candidates match to determine the next challenger to world champion Mikhail Botvinnik. 2, 3

Neuhausen am Rheinfall and Zürich, Switzerland, 30 August - 24 October 1953 1

01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 Pts 1 Vasily Smyslov ** ½½ ½1 11 ½½ ½½ 11 ½0 ½½ ½½ ½½ ½½ 1½ 11 1½ 18 =2 David Bronstein ½½ ** 11 1½ ½½ ½½ ½0 ½½ 1½ ½½ ½½ 01 1½ ½½ ½½ 16 =2 Samuel Reshevsky ½0 00 ** ½½ ½½ ½½ ½½ 10 ½½ ½1 ½1 1½ ½1 11 1½ 16 =2 Paul Keres 00 0½ ½½ ** ½1 ½½ ½1 ½½ ½½ 0½ 11 1½ ½1 ½½ 11 16 5 Tigran Petrosian ½½ ½½ ½½ ½0 ** 0½ ½½ ½½ 00 ½½ ½½ 11 ½1 1½ 11 15 =6 Miguel Najdorf ½½ ½½ ½½ ½½ 1½ ** 00 1½ 1½ ½0 ½½ ½½ ½½ 0½ 11 14½ =6 Efim Geller 00 ½1 ½½ ½0 ½½ 11 ** ½0 01 ½½ 01 1½ ½1 01 ½½ 14½ =8 Alexander Kotov ½1 ½½ 01 ½½ ½½ 0½ ½1 ** 10 1½ 00 10 1½ 0½ 01 14 =8 Mark Taimanov ½½ 0½ ½½ ½½ 11 0½ 10 01 ** 10 ½½ ½½ ½0 0½ 11 14 =10 Yuri Averbakh ½½ ½½ ½0 1½ ½½ ½1 ½½ 0½ 01 ** ½½ ½½ 0½ 11 00 13½ =10 Isaac Boleslavsky ½½ ½½ ½0 00 ½½ ½½ 10 11 ½½ ½½ ** ½0 ½½ ½1 ½½ 13½ 12 Laszlo Szabo ½½ 10 0½ 0½ 00 ½½ 0½ 01 ½½ ½½ ½1 ** 1½ ½½ 1½ 13 13 Svetozar Gligoric 0½ 0½ ½0 ½0 ½0 ½½ ½0 0½ ½1 1½ ½½ 0½ ** ½1 11 12½ 14 Max Euwe 00 ½½ 00 ½½ 0½ 1½ 10 1½ 1½ 00 ½0 ½½ ½0 ** 1½ 11½ 15 Gideon Stahlberg 0½ ½½ 0½ 00 00 00 ½½ 10 00 11 ½½ 0½ 00 0½ ** 8

The Swiss Chess Federation spent 100,000 Swiss francs in order to stage the event, which was one of the reasons they insisted that host countries pay the travel expenses for their respective players. Prize money for first place was 5,000 Swiss francs. Alois Nagler was tournament director. 1 All contestants brought a second except for Bronstein and Reshevsky: Petar Trifunovic (Gligoric), Salomon Flohr (Taimanov), Julio Bolbochan (Najdorf), Andre Lilienthal (Petrosian), Mikhail Beilin (Averbakh), Carel Benjamin van den Berg (Euwe), Kristian Skold (Stahlberg), Tibor Florian (Szabó), Alexey Sokolsky (Boleslavsky), Viktor Moiseev (Kotov), Igor Bondarevsky (Geller), Vladimir Simagin (Smyslov), and Alexander Tolush (Keres). 1

The opening banquet featured speeches by FIDE President Folke Rogard, Mark Taimanov, and Miguel Najdorf. Smyslov sang an aria from Italian opera and Taimanov played piano compositions by Tchaikovsky and Chopin. 1 The players and their seconds stayed at the Bellevue Hotel in the beautiful resort town of Neuhausen am Rheinfall. 4 Play began on Sunday 30 August in the spacious Kirchgemeindehaus (Parish Hall), which would host the first eight rounds. 1, 5 A local factory had pledged a gold watch to whoever led after Round 7, which turned out to be both Smyslov and Reshevsky. Both got a watch. 6

In Round 9 play began in the Kongresshaus (Salon of Music in the House of Parliament) in Zürich, which would host the rest of the tournament. 7, 8, 9 From rounds 9-11 Reshevsky led, only to be overtaken by Smyslov in round 12. At the conclusion of the first half of the tournament, Smyslov was the only undefeated player, leading Reshevsky and Bronstein by a point. The American kept pace with Smyslov, sharing the lead by Round 21. The stage was set for a showdown in Round 25, with Reshevsky just a half point behind Smyslov and facing him in their second meeting of the tournament- Smyslov vs Reshevsky, 1953. Smyslov obtained an advantage out of the opening and began inexorably to restrict black's activity. According to Smyslov, the first critical moment came when Reshevsky made a "reckless attempt to complicate matters" with <33...f5> (see diagram). 10

click for larger view

Smyslov judged that "objectively, this move should be condemned, since it makes it easier for White to attack." 10 Reshevsky resigned after 56 moves, giving Smyslov a 1 1/2 point lead over him with five rounds to go. Smyslov finished with a winning margin of two points, thereby earning the right to play Mikhail Botvinnik in a match for the world championship: Botvinnik - Smyslov World Championship Match (1954).

The Budapest Candidates (1950) tournament and the Amsterdam Candidates (1956) tournament were the previous and next qualification events in the FIDE cycle to select a challenger for a World Chess Championship match.


1 Miguel Najdorf, Zürich 1953, Taylor Kingsford transl. (Russell Enterprises 2012), pp. 14-17.
2 Gino Di Felice, Chess Results 1951-1955, p. 268.
3 David Bronstein, Zurich International Chess Tournament, 1953, 2nd Edition, Jim Marfia transl. (Dover 1979), pp. xvii-xvii.
4 Baruch Harold Wood, World Championship Candidates' Tournament Switzerland 1953 (Hardinge Simpole 2003), p. 3.
5 Najdorf, p. 116.
6 Najdorf, p. 107.
7 Chess Review, Vol. 21, No 11, Nov. 1953, p. 321.
8 Najdorf, p. 124.
10 Vassily Smyslov, Smyslov's 125 Selected Games, Kenneth Neat transl.(Cadogan 1983), p. 81.

Original collection: Game Collection: WCC Index (Zurich 1953), by User: suenteus po 147; Introduction written and sourced by User: WCC Editing Project. The round numbers for the original games collection were supplied by User: marekg248 from the "Fritz 8 Database": David Bronstein (kibitz #183).

 page 1 of 9; games 1-25 of 210  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Taimanov vs Bronstein 0-1421953Zuerich CandidatesA56 Benoni Defense
2. Euwe vs Kotov 1-0391953Zuerich CandidatesA64 Benoni, Fianchetto, 11...Re8
3. Petrosian vs Keres ½-½411953Zuerich CandidatesA32 English, Symmetrical Variation
4. Najdorf vs Reshevsky ½-½241953Zuerich CandidatesE59 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Main line
5. Averbakh vs Smyslov ½-½321953Zuerich CandidatesC97 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin
6. Szabo vs Geller 0-1591953Zuerich CandidatesE02 Catalan, Open, 5.Qa4
7. Stahlberg vs Boleslavsky ½-½481953Zuerich CandidatesE68 King's Indian, Fianchetto, Classical Variation, 8.e4
8. Bronstein vs Najdorf ½-½411953Zuerich CandidatesE70 King's Indian
9. Geller vs Euwe 0-1261953Zuerich CandidatesE26 Nimzo-Indian, Samisch
10. Keres vs Averbakh 0-1411953Zuerich CandidatesE58 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Main line with 8...Bxc3
11. Kotov vs Stahlberg 0-1411953Zuerich CandidatesD37 Queen's Gambit Declined
12. Reshevsky vs Petrosian ½-½411953Zuerich CandidatesE58 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Main line with 8...Bxc3
13. Smyslov vs Szabo ½-½461953Zuerich CandidatesA15 English
14. Gligoric vs Taimanov ½-½321953Zuerich CandidatesE21 Nimzo-Indian, Three Knights
15. Petrosian vs Bronstein ½-½171953Zuerich CandidatesE04 Catalan, Open, 5.Nf3
16. Euwe vs Smyslov 0-1581953Zuerich CandidatesD72 Neo-Grunfeld,, Main line
17. Stahlberg vs Geller ½-½541953Zuerich CandidatesA49 King's Indian, Fianchetto without c4
18. Szabo vs Keres 0-1411953Zuerich CandidatesD24 Queen's Gambit Accepted
19. Boleslavsky vs Kotov 1-0421953Zuerich CandidatesD28 Queen's Gambit Accepted, Classical
20. Najdorf vs Gligoric ½-½201953Zuerich CandidatesE60 King's Indian Defense
21. Averbakh vs Reshevsky ½-½331953Zuerich CandidatesE59 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Main line
22. Bronstein vs Averbakh ½-½261953Zuerich CandidatesE46 Nimzo-Indian
23. Keres vs Euwe ½-½341953Zuerich CandidatesE53 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3
24. Geller vs Boleslavsky 0-1441953Zuerich CandidatesE12 Queen's Indian
25. Taimanov vs Najdorf 0-1431953Zuerich CandidatesE99 King's Indian, Orthodox, Taimanov
 page 1 of 9; games 1-25 of 210  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Aug-21-13  Karpova: Najdorf, Miguel 'Zürich 1953 - 15 Contenders for the World Chess Championship', 2012, Milford CT USA

Indeed an excellent book which by no means needs to hide itself from the other two classics on this tournament.

Sadly, the editing was done poorly and often* the game scores are partly incomplete. So I had to reconstruct some of the game scores myself (if only a few moves were missing, this is possible by looking at later moves or diagrams) but in some cases this was not possible with too many moves missing so I had to look it up elsewhere.

That's a serious objection, but apart from that the book is so outstanding that not even this can be considered a reason not to recommend it. You have a preface by Averbakh, biographhies of the players, Najdorf's great annotations and supplementary material by Taylor Kingston.

*I can't give numbers, but much too often for my taste as a game collection should be authoritative on the game scores in my opinion.

Jan-29-14  thomastonk: I just enjoyed this gallery:, though I had seen it some time before.
Premium Chessgames Member
  WCC Editing Project:

Both <Boleslavsky> and <Smyslov> were seeded directly into this tournament due to their results at the Budapest Candidates (1950): Boleslavsky 2d place, Smyslov 3d place.


<"3d place in the <<<Budapest 1950 Candidates Tournament>>> gave me the automatic right to a place in the next Candidates Tournament.">

-Vasily Smyslov, "Smyslov's 125 Selected Games" Ken Neat transl. (Cadogen 1983), p.125

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <thomastonk> Thanks for posting that excellent gallery!
Mar-17-14  zanzibar: I've tried to identify all the people pictured in the group photograph (3/63).

Standing: left-to-right

1. Petrosian 2. Kotov 3. Gligoric 4. Geller 5. Averbakh 6. Smyslov 7. Boleslavsky 8. Taimanov 9. Bronstein 10. Keres 11. Nadjorf

Seated: left-to-right

1. Dmitri Postnikof (USSR chess chief) 2. Szabo 3. Euwe 4. Folke Rogard (FIDE President) 5. Reshevsky 6. Stahlberg

There is likely a couple of mistakes. Corrections/affirmations appreciated.

Mar-18-14  ozmikey: <zanzibar> I think No.3 in the top row is Szabo, not Gligoric. In fact, I don't think anyone in the front row is a competitor at the event (it's clearly not the full photo).
Mar-18-14  Olavi: <ozmikey: <zanzibar> I think No.3 in the top row is Szabo, not Gligoric. In fact> Correct. 2nd left seated is Ari Ilmakunnas.
Mar-18-14  zanzibar: Thanks, <ozmikey> and <Olavi>. We'll hash it out. I had trouble with several of them.

But all the fifteen participants are there according to the caption:

<< Folke Rogard, FIDE-President

Dmitri Postnikof (first row l), Folke Rogard (first row, 4th from left) and the 15 tournament participants >>

(That makes 3 certain identifications - since I'm only 100% sure I got Petrosian right!)

Mar-21-14  zanzibar: Here's my guess with the suggestion of Szabo. It's a bit like musical chairs, permutating the candidates around:

Standing L-R:
1. Petrosian 2. Kotov 3. Szabo 4. Geller 5. Averbakh 6. Smyslov 7. Boleslavsky 8. Taimanov 9. Bronstein 10. Keres 11. Nadjorf

Sitted L-R:

1. Dmitri Postnikof (USSR chess chief) 2. Stahlberg 3. Gligoric 4. Folke Rogard (FIDE President) 5. Reshevsky 6. Euwe

I think it's right, with a measure of uncertainty for the following 3 pairs:

Geller and Taimanov look very similar to me, but I think I got that right.

Gligoric's should have been easier to identify, but I thought his hair wasn't right. But given Szabo placement, where else can he be?

Strahlberg was unknown to me, and so difficult. Euwe apparently was a larger man than I originally thought.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <thomastonk: I just enjoyed this gallery:, though I had seen it some time before.>

Thanks for that gallery!

In this picture, Smyslov is holding one of those resiny fake-bronze trophies available at any cobbler/key-cutter for a tenner; in fact the man on the top of the trophy has a tennis racquet in his hand!

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Some other great pictures! Taimanov's trousers are the eighth wonder of the world! Undoubtedly he has a miniature version of UNIVAC sellotaped to his shins. The players are standing along that thin harbour wall exactly according to their tournament standing! I wonder what are the medals worn by Averbakh & Keres but not by Smyslov?

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <offramp: Some other great pictures! Taimanov's trousers are the eighth wonder of the world! Undoubtedly he has a miniature version of UNIVAC sellotaped to his shins. The players are standing along that thin harbour wall exactly according to their tournament standing! I wonder what are the medals worn by Averbakh & Keres but not by Smyslov?>

Sorry - those links don't seem to work; but if you go through the pictures you'll see the ones I mean.

Dec-01-15  siggemannen: the photos are relocated to

nice ones, especially Geller looks pretty sharp =)

Jan-06-18  Marmot PFL: Two different tournaments for Euwe: +1 the first half and -6 in the second.
Jun-08-18  OrangeTulip: Euwe scored 7.5 out of the first rounds. And than only 4 out of the last rounds. What happened with him in this 1953 Canidates and the 1948 tournament? Poor health, poor condition, or?
Jun-08-18  Howard: Age may very well have been a factor. He was almost certainly the oldest player in the event, at 51.
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: maybe the most famous tournament book ever.
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <maybe the most famous tournament book ever.> #redundancy #ifnothingtosaysaynothing #jogon
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: are you and Harry still blowing people? I mean blowing kisses, as was described yesterday?
Premium Chessgames Member
  dkappe1: My favorite tournamentlich. Now with leela annotations.
May-09-19  JimNorCal: Photos moved ... again.
May-09-19  JimNorCal: Taimanov's trousers, noted by <offramp>, are extraordinary.
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: You say that, but if he wasn't wearing them, you'd be even more shocked.
May-10-19  JimNorCal: As long as he was wearing SOME trousers I'd be OK. No trousers: yes, shocked.
THOSE trousers: astonished
Premium Chessgames Member
  Messiah: Terrible trousers, indeed!
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