5 facts about the first Chess Olympiad

 compiled by WGM/FT Aleksandra Dimitrijevic and Michalis Kaloumenos

photo source: Edward Winter

 1. In 1927 (18th - 30th July), along with 3rd FIDE congress representatives from 16 countries assembled in London to take part in the first of the series of international team competitions which have become known as The World Chess Olympiads. The event brought much attraction from the chess world however its importance was diminished by the battle for the World Individual Championship and memorable Alekhine's victory over Capablanca.
          - Olimpbase

2. Hungary, the winners, were lead to the victory by GM Maróczy who scored 75% at the top board and was true leader for the youngsters. The brave Danes were the dark horse of the event and their winning record (30) was superior to anyone else including the winners. Norman-Hansen tied for best individual score of the tournament. England won excellent 3rd place thanks to courtesy of Sir George Thomas who was so nice to have won 12 points out of 15 games.
          - Olimpbase

3. According to Jeff Sonas' retro ratings, the highest ranked participant was World #8 Max Euwe representing the Netherlans, #13 Ernst Grünfeld representing Austria, #14 Richard Réti representing Chechoslovakia, #19 Mario Monticelli represnting Italy and #20 Géza Maróczy representing Hungary.
          - Chessmetrics

4. The organizers of the 1st Chess Olympiad, according to the tradition of their days, gave a prize to the most beautiful game. After the tournament was finished and 480 were played, they decided that 2 games should share the prize for the most beautiful game. Here are the 2 games:

Gruenfeld,Ernst (AUT) - Euwe,Machgielis (NED)
2nd round, 19 July 1927

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.c4 Bb4+ 4.Bd2 Qe7 5.g3 0–0 6.Bg2 Bxd2+ 7.Nbxd2 d6 8.0–0 e5 9.e4 Bg4 10.d5 Qd7
The main theoretical line nowadays is 10...Bc8 11.Ne1 a5 12.Nd3 Na6 with an unclear position.
11.Qb3 b6 Small positional mistake. The best continuation was a pawn sacrifice 11...a5 12.Qxb7 Na6 13.Qb3 Rfb8 14.Qa3 Qe8 with next Nc5 and compensation.
12.c5 Nice move, pawn is untouchable: on 12...dxc5 is 13.Nxe5 and on 12...bxc5 is 13.Qb7.
12...Ne8 13.c6 Temporary, Black Queen side is out of development and play.
13...Qc8 14.Nh4 a5 15.f3 Bh3 16.f4 Na6 17.Qc3 exf4 18.gxf4 
A bit better was direct exchange, with and idea to keep the Black Queen out of the play: 18.Bxh3 Qxh3 19.Rxf4 g5 20.Nf5 f6 If 20...gxf4 than 21.Ne7#, and after 21.Rf3 White has a strong attack and all Black pieces are placed in disharmony.
18...Bxg2 19.Nf5 Kh8 20.Kxg2
On the board, we have a one of these positions when it is very easy to play for the White – to improve by each move, and also very heavy to keep a protecting and stay in place for the Black.
20...Nc5 21.Ng3 Nf6 22.Rae1 Qg4 23.h3 Qg6 24.Qf3 Rfe8 25.Kh2 Ng8 26.Rg1 Qf6 27.e5 Qg6 28.Nge4 Qh6 29.Ng5
A bit faster was 29.exd6 Nxe4 Or 29...cxd6 30.Qg3 and like in main line; 30.Nxe4 cxd6 31.Qg3 with a threat Nxd6 and an attack.
29...Re7 30.e6 Also was good 30.Nc4. 30...fxe6
31.dxe6 Rf8 32.Nf7+ Rfxf7 33.exf7 Rxf7 34.Rgf1 Ne6 35.Qg4 Nxf4 36.Re8 g5 37.Nf3 Rg7 38.Nxg5 Qg6 39.Qxf4 Qxe8 40.Nf7+ Rxf7 41.Qxf7 Qe5+ 42.Kh1 Qe4+ 43.Qf3 Qxf3+ 44.Rxf3 Kg7 45.Kg2 Nf6 46.Kg3 Kf7 47.Kf4 Ke6 48.Re3+ Kd5 49.Kf5 Kd4 50.Re7 Nd5 51.Rxh7 Kc5 52.h4 Kxc6 53.h5 b5 54.h6 1–0

Yates,Frederick (ENG) - Asztalos,Lajos (YUG)
5th round, 21 July 1927

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0–0 9.h3 Na5
The Chigorin variation of the Ruy Lopez is one of the heaviest and most interesting theoretical line for the chess players. It is hiding a few pawn structures inside, and a lot of typical plan and an ideas.
10.Bc2 c5 11.d4 Qc7 12.Nbd2 Nc6 13.d5 Nd8 14.Nf1 Ne8 15.g4
White is taking a space advantage on the King side.
15...g6 16.Ng3 Ng7 17.Kh2 f6 18.Be3 Nf7 19.Rg1 Bd7 20.Rg2 Kh8 21.Qe2 Rg8 22.Nd2 Qc8 23.Rag1 a5 24.f3 b4 25.c4 Qb7 26.Kh1 Raf8 27.h4 Qc8 28.h5 g5 29.h6
The White is ready to sacrifice a h-pawn for an open file.
29...Ne8 30.Nf5 Bd8 31.Rh2 Rg6 32.Rg3 Bxf5 33.exf5 Rxh6 34.Rxh6 Nxh6 35.Qh2 Ng8 36.Rh3 Rf7 37.Ba4
Even it is a simple one, I like this manoeuvre a lot – “the Spanish Bishop is coming in the play again, and then the end of the game is coming” - I still remember this quote from my mentor GM Ivkov, after 20 years – I really believed in it all these years with a successful result in practice.
37...Be7 38.Ne4 Qd8 39.Kg1 Nc7 40.Qf2 Na8 41.Rh1 Nb6 42.Bc6 Bf8 43.b3 Rg7 44.Qh2 Be7 45.Qh5 a4 46.Kg2 Qb8 47.Be8 Qd8 48.Bg6 h6 49.Bf7 Bf8 50.Bxg8 Rxg8 51.Qf7 Bg7 52.Qg6 Rf8 53.Bxg5 1–0

5. Here is another tactical game from the 2nd round

Weenink,Henri (NED) - Kmoch,Hans (AUT)
2nd round, 19 July 1927

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 g6
Black plays the Three Knights Game. The most popular move is 3...Nf6 with the Four Knights Game.
4.d4 exd4 5.Nxd4 Bg7 6.Be3 Nge7 The main line is 6...Nf6 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.e5.
7.Qd2 h6 Passive move. The best was for the Black 7...d5.
8.0–0–0 d6 9.Be2 Bd7 10.h3 Nxd4 11.Bxd4 0–0 12.Bxg7 Kxg7 13.f4 Bc6 14.g4 Ng8 15.h4
All the pawns of the White King side are active in the attack!
15...Qe7 16.g5 f5 17.Qd4+ Kh7 18.h5 fxe4
Few more moves for the Black will buy 18...Be8 19.exf5 Rxf5 20.Bd3, but the White position is better.
19.hxg6+ Kxg6 20.f5+ Rxf5
If 20...Kxf5 then 21.Rdf1+ Ke6 22.Bg4+ Rf5 23.Rxf5 with winning attack or on 20...Kxg5 is coming forced mate by 21.Rh5+ Kf4 22.Rf1+ Kg3 23.Qg1#.
21.Bh5+ Kxg5 If 21...Kh7 22.g6#.
22.Rdg1+ Kf4 23.Ne2# 1–0