Gentlemen on the Seaside

pgn-file of eleven tournaments (191 games)     zip-file of CBase-files

Hastings 1895 was a milestone in the history of super tournaments for three reasons:

1. All important chess players participated.

2. Super tournaments became an annual event.

3. Famous games were played. Steinitz - Von Bardeleben became an evergreen and Pillsbury - Gunsberg decided the tournament in the last round for a young star.

The local chess club announced prizes of £150, £115, £85, £60, £40, £30 and £20. A consolation prize was £1 per win for non prize winners. The master tournament was played from August 5 until September 4, 1895. Players lodged in the Queen’s Hotel, except for Pillsbury. He explained: "I want to be quiet. I mean to win this tournament!" The masters played in the Brassey Institute. Moves were regarded as the property of the tournament, but the reserve player Van Lennep could break this rule with his photographic memory. He wrote a long report in Dutch.

Lasker had defeated Steinitz in a world title match during the previous year. Both players took part. Their main rivals Chigorin and Tarrasch were present. Von Bardeleben, Blackburne, Burn, Gunsberg and Schiffers had much experience. Bird had even participated in London 1851. Important young talents were Pillsbury and Schlechter. Outsiders were Albin, Janowski, Marco, Mason, Mieses, Pollock Teichmann, Tinsley, Vergani and Walbrodt. 

The main prizes went to Pillsbury 16½/21, Chigorin 16, Lasker 15½, Tarrasch 14, Steinitz and Schiffers 12, Von Bardeleben and Teichmann 11½.  Maróczy became winner of the amateurs tournament. Lady Edith Thomas, winner of the ladies tournament, was the mother of George. 


Harry Pillsbury

Brassey Institute in Hastings


Monte Carlo wanted to stimulate tourism during the winter. Four chess events were organised as stimulus. Fourteen participants played in the first master tournament from 1 ii until 1 iii 1901. Prince Dadian of Mongrelia and Arnous de Rivičre were the main organisers. The first round was postponed to 4 ii due to the funeral of Queen Victoria. When a game ended in a draw, each player got ¼. A player could score ½, ¼ or 0 in the replay with reversed colours. Poor Alapin had to repeat eight out of thirteen games. He complained bitterly. Janowsky won the first prize of 5000 Francs. 7300 Francs were shared by Schlechter, Von Scheve, Chigorin, Alapin and Mieses. The other players got consolation money. I have selected eight games.

The second tournament of Monte Carlo took place from 1 ii to 12 iii 1902. The time restriction was 30 moves in two hours, followed by 15 in one. The games among Maróczy, Pillsbury, Janowsky, Teichmann, Schlechter and Tarrasch have been selected. Maróczy won the tournament and gained 5000 francs. The accuracy of his games is remarkable. The costs for the organisation were diminished by the gambling of players. Janowsky lost everything. The casino bank gave him a train ticket to Paris. 

Monte Carlo 1903 was a spectacular event in every phase. When Chigorin arrived from St. Petersburg, he was not welcome, because he had doubted the authenticity of spectacular wins by Prince Dadian of Mingrelia. Chigorin got 1500 Francs as payoff. Alapin, Gunsberg and Janowsky got no invitations beforehand. Fourteen men played double rounds from 10 ii until 17 iii 1903. When participants complained about the noise, the director Arnous de Rivičre answered: "You get used to it!" Tarrasch started poorly but won the tournament. Maróczy became second, Pillsbury third, Schlechter fourth and Richard (Teichmann) the fifth. Moreau lost all twenty-six games. 

Six chess masters played double rounds in Monte Carlo from 8 until 18 ii 1904. The time limit was 16 moves per hour. Marco published the report about the fourth Monte Carlo tournament in the Wiener Schachzeitung. I have selected one game per round for analyses. Marshall had a won position against Maróczy in the last round but lost. Maróczy won the tournament half-a-point before Schlechter. Marshall became third at one point. The casino made available 5000 Franks as prize. A distribution of the money was made by the participants, before they began. Maróczy got an extra trophy because he had won the event for the second time. 


Géza Maróczy in 1902

Monte Carlo looked like the Wild West


An international tournament by the Dutch Chess Federation took place in the Kurhaus at Scheveningen from 31 vii - 10 viii 1905. Donations by members covered the costs. The time restriction was 34 moves in two hours and 17 in one. Prizes were won by Marshall 11½, Leussen 9, Spielmann 8½, Duras and Swiderski 8, Loman 7½ and Leonhardt 7. Eleven games by Marshall and Leussen against the prize winners were selected. Frank Marshall won the first prize of ƒ400. Benjamin Leussen got ƒ250 and the title ‘Master of the Dutch Chess Federation’. He achieved the greatest success of a Dutchman before Euwe.

The variation of the Sicilian Defence, that made the resort Scheveningen famous in the chess world, was played by Euwe in 1923.


Frank James Marshall

Kurhaus in Scheveningen


Three master events occurred in Oostende (1905-1907). Fourteen players carried out double rounds in the Casino from 12 vi until 18 vii 1905. We follow the games among the top four: Maróczy, Janowsky, Tarrasch and Schlechter. Maróczy became the sole winner, because Janowsky lost from Teichmann in the penultimate round and Maróczy won in the last rounds. 

The second master event of Oostende was carried out from 5 vi until 12 vii 1906. Gunsberg had a difficult task as director due to the complicated elimination system. Schlechter became the sole winner of a master tournament for the first time. He got 4000 Francs and a gold medal. 

The last contest took place in the Casino from 16 v until 14 vi 1907. Tarrasch, Schlechter, Marshall and Janowski had accepted the invitation for the grandmaster tournament. Lasker and Maróczy declined and were replaced by Burn and Chigorin. The time restriction was 30 moves in two hours and 15 in one. Tarrasch won the golden medal and 2603½ francs. Schlechter became second and gained 2277½ francs. We follow their race over twenty rounds. The tournament was meant to be a kind of world championship, but nobody took it seriously due to the absence of Lasker. The new term ‘grandmaster tournament’ for the main group became usual. Rubinstein and Bernstein won the master tournament of 29 participants. 


Siegbert Tarrasch

Casino in Oostende


Two super tournaments took place in the Gran Casino of San Sebastian. The first one lasted from February 19 until March 17, 1911. Participants had achieved one first or two fourth or better prizes in master tournaments. Capablanca had defeated Marshall. All important players participated with the exception of Lasker. The time limit was 15 moves per hour. 

The European debut of Capablanca led to a first prize of 5000 francs plus the brilliancy prize. When the organiser Mieses asked why he did not gamble in the casino like the rest, he answered: "I don’t need this!" Rubinstein and Vidmar shared the second and third prize. Marshall got the fourth prize. 

The second super tournament in the Gran Casino was played from 19 ii until 23 iii 1912. Many strong masters participated, but the previous winner Capablanca turned down the invitation. I have analysed the games Rubinstein, Nimzowitsch, Spielmann, Tarrasch and Marshall. 

Rubinstein scored 7½/9 in the second cycle and won the tournament with 12½ points out of 19. Spielmann and Nimzowitsch followed by half-a-point and Tarrasch by one point. Rubinstein also won Pistyan, Breslau and Vilna 1912. A match between Lasker and him was discussed. 


José Raoul Capablanca

Gran Casino in San Sebastian


Super tournaments as an annual phenomenon started with Hastings 1895. Many of the events took place in towns on the seaside. The experience of great masters grew immensely until 1911. We will follow the developments by means of the common ideas about the schools of chess.

A confrontation between the old and young masters occurred in Hastings 1895. The main representative of romantic chess was Chigorin. He played in the attacking style of De la Bourdonnais and Anderssen. Steinitz played positional chess. The ideas were developed by the theorist Cluley and applied by Morphy. Younger players like Tarrasch, Lasker and Pillsbury had digested the strategic basis and improved on the technique of chess. Nevertheless, many tactical and positional blunders were made in Hastings.

Maróczy developed a routine of correct chess. He showed a superiority in Monte Carlo 1902 by waiting for the mistakes of the opponent. Capablanca displayed the accuracy of a ‘chess machine’ in San Sebastian 1911. His technical level would not be improved by future players and the group of superior technicians has always remained small. Only the number of good quality players has increased enormously. A new inspiration came from the prophylactic chess by Nimzowitsch. He showed his innovative chess in 1911-12. Important predecessors were Philidor, Staunton and Paulsen. 


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