Nottingham International Chess Tournament

The Nottingham International Chess Tournament held August 10-28, 1936, was one of the strongest tournaments ever held.   The event was held at the University of Nottingham in Nottingham, England. It was certainly the strongest chess tournament held up to that time. The event had the current world chess champion (Euwe), three past world champions (Lasker, Alekhine, and Capablanca) and a future world champion (Botvinnik). We could say it had two future world champions as Alekhine won the title back from Max Euwe a year later. Ten of the top 12 players in the world participated (missing were Andor Lilienthal and Paul Keres).  Also included were the four top British players. Because the top British players were participating in this event, no British Chess Championship was held in 1936. The event also included the top two American players, Sam Reshevsky (US Champion) and Reuben Fine.

The tournament was organized by Alderman Job Nightingale Derbyshire (1866-1954), President of the British Chess Federation, who put up half the cost. It was intended to mark the Jubilee of the Nottingham Tournament, held in August of 1886 (Counties Chess Association Congress). That event, held 50 years earlier, was won by Amos Burn (8 out of 9). 2nd place went to E. Schallop. 3rd-4th went to Gunsberg anmd Zukertort. 5th place went to Bird.

The tournament director was Rufus Henry Streatfeild Stevenson (1878-1943). He later married Vera Menchik, world women's champion, after his first wife died when she ran into an aircraft propellor blade. RHS Stevenson was the Secretary of the British Chess Federation.

Money for the tournament was raised by Derbyshire, RHS Stevenson, and Sir George Thomas.

The participants stayed at the Victoria Station Hotel and partook in a garden party at Rempston Hall.

The time limit was 36 moves in 2 hours. It should have been 30 moves in 2 hours, but a misprint went unchanged.  Reshevsky got into time trouble in almost every game. A FIDE rule was in affect at the time, that no game shall be agreed to a draw in less than 30 moves. This rule could not be enforced and was ignored in this tournament.

In round 1 the winners were Alekhine, Botvinnik, Euwe, Fine, and Bogoljubow.

In round 2, Capablanca and Alekhine met for the first time in 9 years. The game was won by Capablanca. Capablanca had three minor pieces to Alekhine's two rooks. Alekine probably realized that he was lost, but did not want to resign at the board and in front of a large crowd. He pretended to forget that it was his sealed move when the first time control was over and made a move instead of sealing his next move in an envelope. Capablanca sealed the move instead. Later, Alekhine wrote a note to the tournament director and resigned. Capablanca became very angry that Alekhine "resigned by letter" rather than play it out or inform Capablanca first. The two refused to talk to each other. In round 2 only Euwe had a perfect score of 2 wins.

In round 3 Botvinnik took the lead with 2.5 out of 3.

In round 4, Botvinnik remains in first place with 3.5 out of 4.

In round 5, Botvinnik and Euwe are tied for first place with 4 out of 5.

In round 6, Botvinnik and Euwe remain tied for first with 4.5 out of 6.

In round 7, Botvinnik and Euwe are still in first with 5 out of 7.

In round 8, it is still Botvinnik and Euwe, with 6 out of 8.

In round 9, Botvinnik takes the lead with 6.5 out of 9.

In round 10, Botvinnik has the bye and has been caught up. Botvinnik, Capablanca, Euwe, and Fine share first place with 6.5 out of 10.

In round 11, Botvinnik defeats Thomas and takes the sole lead with 7.5 out of 11.

In round 12, there is a 3-way tie with Botvinnik, Capablanca and Euwe with 8 out of 12.

In round 13, Botvinnik and Capablanca share the lead with 9 out of 13.

In round 14, Botvinnik and Capablanca remain the leaders with 9.5 out of 14.

In round 15, Botvinnik and Capablanca share 1st place with 10 out of 15.

The tournament ended August 28, 1936. The tournament saw a two-way tie between Capablanca and Botvinnik (10 out of 14). 3rd through 5th place went to Euwe, Fine, and Reshevsky (9.5). Alekhine took 6th place (9). Lasker and Flohr tied for 7th-8th place (8.5). Vidmar took 9th place (6). 10th-11th place went to Bogoljubow and Tartakower (5.5). 12th place went to Tylor (4.5). Alexander took 13th place (3.5). Sir George Thomas took 14th place (3) and Winter took 15th place (2.5).

Botvinnik and Fine were the only unbeaten players.

Although the British players took the last 4 places, the points they got from the leaders made a difference in the standings. Winter drew with Botvinnik in the last round, preventing Botvinnik from taking sole 1st place. Tyler and Thomas both drew with Alekhine, preventing the former world champion from tieing for first place. Winter drew with Reshevsky, preventing Reshevsky from tieing for first place. Thomas drew with Fine, preventing Fine from tieing for first place. Tylor and Alexander beat Flohr, preventing Flohr from taking first place. The four British players all drew with each other. The British players all lost their games against Capablanca, Euwe, Lasker, and Bogoljubow.

The prize money was 200 British pounds for 1st, 150 pounds for 2nd, 100 pounds for 3rd, and 75 pounds for 4th. In addition, 200 pounds was divided among the rest of the players in proportion to thier score. 105 games were played.

The tournament was probably the closest race in the history of top class tournaments. Only one point separated 1st place from 6th place. Only 1.5 points separated 1st place from 8th place. It was the last big victory of Capablanca and the first big victory of Botvinnik. It was Lasker's final tournament.

Bogoljubow could not speak English and answered every question with the only English word he knew, "beer."

The tournament was Alekhine’s worst performance of the 1930s.  It was the first time Alekhine played Capablanca since winning the world chess championship 9 years earlier in 1927.  It was the first Soviet success (Botvinnik tying for 1st place) outside of the Soviet Union.

In parallel with the main tournament, the 1936 British Women’s Chess Championship was held.  It was won by 68-year old Edith Holloway (1868-1956).  She won the event in 1919.

Bogoljubow - Alexander, Nottingham 1936 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.c4 b6 4.g3 Bb7 5.Bg2 d5 6.O-O Nbd7 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.e4 N5f6 9.e5 Nd5 10.Ng5 Be7 11.Qh5 g6 12.Qh6 Bf8 13.Qh3 Qe7 14.Nc3 O-O-O 15.Bd2 Kb8 16.Nxd5 Bxd5 17.Bxd5 exd5 18.Rfe1 Rc8 19.Rac1 Bg7 20.e6 fxe6 21.Nxe6 Nf6 22.Nxc7! Qf7 23.Bf4 g5 24.Ne8+ (24...Rc7 25.Bxc7 Qxc7 26.Nxc7) 1-0

Lasker - Reshevsky, Nottingham 1936 1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 e6 5.Bxc4 c5 6.Nc3 a6 7.O-O b5 8.Bd3 cxd4 9.exd4 Bb7 10.Bg5 Be7 11.Qe2 O-O 12.Rad1 Nbd7 13.Ne5 Nd5 14.Bc4 Nxc3 15.bxc3 Nf6 16.a4 Qd5 17.Nf3 Rfc8 18.Bb2 Ne4 19.Rc1 Ng5 20.axb5 axb5 21.Bxb5 Nxf3+ 22.gxf3 Qg5+ (23.Kh1 Qf4, threatening 24...Bxf3+) 0-1

Botvinnik - Vidmar, Nottingham 1936 1.c4 e6 2.Nf3 d5 3.d4 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.Nc3 O-O 6.e3 Nbd7 7.Bd3 c5 8.O-O cxd4 9.exd4 dxc4 10.Bxc4 Nb6 11.Bb3 Bd7 12.Qd3 Nbd5 13.Ne5 Bc6 14.Rad1 Nb4 15.Qh3 Bd5 16.Nxd5 Nbxd5 17.f4 Rc8 18.f5 exf5 19.Rxf5 Qd6 20.Nxf7 Rxf7 21.Bxf6 Bxf6 22.Rxd5 Qc6 23.Rd6 Qe8 24.Rd7 1-0

Bogoljuvow - Botvinnik, Nottingham 1936 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 b6 3.e3 c5 4.c4 Bb7 5.Nc3 cxd4 6.exd4 e6 7.Bd3 Be7 8.O-O O-O 9.b3 d5 10.Be3 Ne4 11.Rc1 Nd7 12.Qe2 Rc8 13.Rfd1 f5 14.Bf4 g5 15.Be5 g4 16.Ne1 Nxe5 17.Bxe4 dxe4 18.dxe5 Qc7 19.Nb5 Qxe5 20.Rd7 Bg5 21.Rcd1 Bc6 22.Rxa7 Rcd8 23.a4 Rxd1 24.Qxd1 Rd8 25.Qc2? Bd2 (26.Qb1 e3) 0-1