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AVRO 1938 chess tournament

The AVRO tournament was a chess tournament held in the Netherlands in 1938, sponsored by the Dutch broadcasting company AVRO. The event was a double round-robin tournament. The eight players generally regarded as the strongest in the world took part: World Champion Alexander Alekhine, former champions José Raúl Capablanca and Max Euwe, future champion Mikhail Botvinnik and challengers Paul Keres, Reuben Fine, Samuel Reshevsky and Salo Flohr. Keres and Fine tied for first place, with Keres winning on tiebreak by virtue of his 1½-½ score in their individual games.

Capablanca's play was satisfactory in the first half of the event (50%), but collapsed in the second half, when he lost three games. He had only lost 26 tournament games in 29 years. Hooper and Whyld say "he suffered a slight stroke, and scored only four draws in the last seven games". Another version is that he was extremely ill during the event. Olga Capablanca recalled that his high blood pressure nearly cost him his life: "A doctor screamed at me, 'How could you let him play?'" In a later interview Capablanca denied having a cerebral defect, though he speaks of symptoms which are certainly serious. However, his doctor recalled that in 1940, Capablanca was found to have extremely dangerous hypertension of 210 systolic/180 diastolic (hypertensive crisis is 180/120 or above, and even after treatment Capablanca had 180/130).

The tournament was presented as one to provide a challenger to Alekhine, though this had no official status. In the event World War II dashed any hopes of a championship match for years to come. However, when FIDE organised its 1948 match tournament for the world title after Alekhine's death in 1946, it invited the six surviving AVRO participants (Capablanca had also died), except that Flohr was replaced by Vasily Smyslov.

Schedule

The AVRO tournament was played from November 6 to November 27, 1938. The players travelled from one city to another in the following order:

Round Place Date
1 Amsterdam Nov. 6
2 The Hague Nov. 8
3 Rotterdam Nov. 10
4 Groningen Nov. 12
5 Zwolle Nov. 13
6 Haarlem Nov. 14
7 Amsterdam Nov. 15
8 Utrecht Nov. 17
9 Arnhem Nov. 19
10 Breda Nov. 20
11 Rotterdam Nov. 22
12 The Hague Nov. 24
13 Leiden Nov. 25
14 Amsterdam Nov. 27

Crosstable

No. Name State 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Total
1 Paul Keres Estonia XX 1= == == 1= == 1= ==
2 Reuben Fine United States 0= XX 1= 10 10 11 == 1=
3 Mikhail Botvinnik Soviet Union == 0= XX =0 1= 1= =1 ==
4 Max Euwe Netherlands == 01 =1 XX 0= 0= 01 1= 7
5 Samuel Reshevsky United States 0= 01 0= 1= XX == == 1= 7
6 Alexander Alekhine France == 00 0= 1= == XX =1 =1 7
7 José Raúl Capablanca Cuba 0= == =0 10 == =0 XX =1 6
8 Salo Flohr Czechoslovakia == 0= == 0= 0= =0 =0 XX

The longest game was a 68-move win of Fine over Alekhine. The shortest game was a 19-move draw between Flohr and Fine. Of the 56 games played: White won seventeen, Black won seven, and thirty-two were drawn.

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