© 1997-2024
John Saunders


BRITBASE - British Chess Game Archive

Tournament: Liverpool Students Congress • 37 games
Venue: Liverpool • Dates: 6-13 April 1952 • Download PGN • Last Edited: Sunday 2 June, 2024 10:09 AM

1952 Liverpool Students Chess Congress - 6-13 April 1952

1952 Liverpool Students Individual Tournament, 9-13 April

1952 Liverpool Students Tournament Fed 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8  Total 
 1  David Ionovich Bronstein USSR
½ 1 1 1 1 1 1
2 Mark Evgenievich Taimanov USSR ½
1 1 1 1 1 1
3 Oleg Pastuhoff FIN 0 0
1 ½ ½ ½ 1
4 Erkki Rutanen FIN 0 0 0
1 1 0 1 3
5 Denis Victor Mardle ENG 0 0 ½ 0
½ 1 1 3
6 Bo Emil Nyren FIN 0 0 ½ 0 ½
1 1 3
7 Carl Krarup Dinsen DEN 0 0 ½ 1 0 0
½ 2
8 G Katragadda IND 0 0 0 0 0 0 ½

1952 Liverpool Students Team Tournament: Great Britain - Finland - The Rest, 6-8 April

1952 Liverpool Students Team Event 1 2 3  Total
 1  Finland
2 2 4
2 Great Britain 1
3 4
3 The Rest 1 0


Finland 2-1 Great Britain
Oleg Pastuhoff 0-1 Denis V Mardle
Bo Emil Nyren 1-0 Peter J Oakley
Erkki Rutanen 1-0 John E Littlewood
Finland 2-1 The Rest
Oleg Pastuhoff 0-1 H Winants (Belgium)
Bo Emil Nyren 1-0 G Katragadda (India)
Erkki Rutanen 1-0 Carl Krarup Dinsen (Denmark)
Great Britain 3-0 The Rest
Denis V Mardle 1-0 H Winants (Belgium)
Peter J Oakley 1-0 G Katragadda (India)
John E Littlewood 1-0 Carl Krarup Dinsen (Denmark)

Note that it has proved difficult to establish the precise dates of this congress as the various reports (see further down the page) cannot be satisfactorily reconciled. My suggestion is as follows: the three-round GB v Finland v Rest team event runs from 6-8 April; (2) the eight-player individual event begins 9 April (before the arrival of Bronstein and Taimanov - their scheduled first-round game is postponed until the penultimate day of the tournament, 12 April); round 2 takes place 10 April (including the two Russians); rounds 3-4 take place 11 April (with Mardle facing both Russians on the same day); rounds 5-6 take place 12 April; the final round takes place on 13 April. The snag is that it would entail Bronstein and Tamanov playing three games on 12 April.

BCM, May 1952, ppn 136-137


(A True Story)

By Gerald Abrahams

Probably it was the magical conjunction of Passover and Easter that made possible our local miracle. Certainly there is no convincing socio-physical explanation of the fact that on Thursday, April 10th, at 11 o’clock in the forenoon, there emerged, out of the everywhere, into the Students’ Union, two real live Russian students; they arrived from Moscow in order to participate in the Student’s Team Tournament that had been proceeding at Liverpool University. Pretty good students they were, too, I assure you. By name, David Bronstein and Mark Taimanov: the one a student of languages, with quite a mastery of English, the other a student of music, in the sense that Solomon or Pouishnoff is a student (actually a top-liner; what he can do to a keyboard requires to be heard!): and both of them can, I think, be classified as rather advanced “postgraduate” students of chess.

Well! the Soviet Sports Committee had promised the I.U.S. [International Union of Students] a team to participate in the chess section of the I.U.S. Arts Festival: and here they were! Complete with a delightful interpreter (Stepanov), who could not speak a word of English, but for whose charm I can vouch; and our old friend Mr. Brusslov, of the Soviet Embassy, who had come to enjoy himself as a chess spectator—and, I think, did so. The effect of their advent was quite remarkable. The chess-playing students (the gallant Mardle, three heroic Finns, one courageous Dane, and one deserving Indian—who knew as much about chess as Sultan Khan didn’t!) prepared to do battle, and were destined to achieve glory, though not even half-a-point of victory.

The I.U.S. organizer, whose hair turned white within hours, spent so much money wiring to Prague for instructions that he had barely sufficient left for tournament expenses. It was rather as if Mr. Molotov had casually walked into a committee meeting of the Wigan branch of the Miners’ Union and announced that he was the fraternal delegate from Dniepropetrovsk. Nobody knew the appropriate procedure. The surviving members of the lamentably etiolated Liverpool Chess Club (eheu fugaces!), who, to do them justice, had not been advised of the proceedings at all, evacuated en masse to local seaside resorts, where they spent an appropriate Good Friday, washing their hands of the matter. In defence of Liverpool I would like to add that, at that moment, the Lord Mayor and Corporation (who also knew nothing of the arrangements made by l.U.S.) were en route for Marseilles in order to inspect the docks, the University was closing down for Easter, and Liverpool generally was falling dead for the week-end, as it always does. It happened only by accident that the local dormant force, your humble servant to wit, happened to be awake thereabouts, heaved himself from a reluctant armchair, redeemed his Russian dictionary, taxied to the scene of operations, converted the proceedings into a small tournament, unanimously elected himself Director, and sat down to enjoy some beautiful chess without incurring the risk of losing! I would add that, in my capacity as Director, or Umpire, or whatever I was, I found that several students, including Lipton of Liverpool University, [David] Malcolm, a Liverpool-Cambridge man, Denis Mardle, and one or two representatives of I.U.S. and N.U.S. [National Union of Students] whose names I never learned, rapidly grasped the technique of running a tournament and did the work superlatively in the outwardly uninspiring conditions. Would that better conditions and publicity might have been arranged to do the event justice!

Many more things require to be said about the compressed and unadvertised tournament that thus took place in a back-room of a Liverpool commercial hotel (so different from the Hall of Columns!): but you have not space for me to say it.

Suffice it then to mention as follows: first, everyone there was tremendously impressed by the modesty, courtesy, and consideration with which these two magnificent chess-players treated their relatively inexperienced opponents (I have known great players who were not so courteous). They accepted all arrangements as they found them, and expected no privileges, and no influence in the organization of the play. They lived in the same hotel, ate, conversed, and mixed freely with their chess colleagues: and paid them the supreme compliment of playing as hard chess against them as they play in the strongest tournaments. Reciprocally, the students played heroically. The British player, Mardle, showed great enterprise against both the Russians—although he had to meet two of them in the same day, and that after a week of the abortive Team Tournament as well as much work of organizing. The Finns and the Dane showed remarkable promise—Nyren, of Finland, was extremely unlucky not to draw with Bronstein in the last round. Had he done so, Taimanov (who had swindled Bronstein neatly in the penultimate round) would have won the tournament. In the event the results were as follows: (1-2) Bronstein and Taimanov (U.S.S.R.) 6½; (3) Pastuhoff (Finland) 3½; (4-6) Mardle (G.B.), Nyren, and Rutanen (Finland) 3; (7) Dinsen (Denmark) 2; (8) Katragadda (India) ½ (well, he knows a lot of learning and languages that Sultan Khan didn’t know!).

These results, with the immense gap in the middle, cannot, of course, do justice to the non-Russian students, unless one adds that, against the winners, they played nearly as well as it was possible to play without actually scoring—I would say that they have good chess futures.

The Russian players were exceedingly interesting to watch. Bronstein, whose powers are so difficult to assess, is a man of the most impressive will-power and capacity for work. He starts a game absent-mindedly (using 5 minutes for a first move, and another twenty for the next three—as, if he had never played those openings before). Thereafter he doesn’t force the pace, nor move quickly. But before the game is over (and usually while he’s under time-pressure) he manages to create some little advantage. Then he settles down to real work! And all the time he “appears” (I don’t think he really is) completely imperturbable. In post-mortem analysis, he is very frank; always ready to point out where he went wrong or where his opponent missed a chance: and most instructive in explaining plans of campaign.

Taimanov, even more genial, but obviously nervous, is much more evidently of the artistic temperament—in the good sense. And his play is faster, both on the clock (which he does not use over much) and in the tempo of the game. As a player much less patient than Bronstein, but full of bright ideas. Only against Bronstein did he seem to lack fire: but when in great trouble he found a drawing resource—like Bronstein, an instructive and stimulating analyst.

Both were humorous (as are the majority of Russians that I have met) and interested in England. I regretted, however, Bronstein’s tendency to study closely the News of the World when he could have read the Observer (Brusslov had Peg’s Paper). In this connection, the following dialogue—

Bronstein (indicating a headline): “A man has won £75,000! What does he want with £75,000? It won’t make him happy.”

G. A. (quoting Guedalla): “Yes, money isn’t happiness, but it does enable you to be miserable in comfort.”

(Interval for translation into Russian and laughter.)

Brusslov to Mr. Abrahams: “Mr. Bronstein asked you a practical question and you gave him a philosophic answer.”

G. A.: “To me any question about £75,000 is a philosophic question.”

CHESS, May 1952, Vol.17 no.200, p154



In 1951, it was decided to run an International Union of Students’ Chess Tournament in conjunction with the National Union of Students’ Arts Festival at Liverpool this Easter. The British Universities’ Chess Association co-operated, and some eight teams with three players in each were expected to meet from April 4th to April 10th, but by the opening date only one Belgian, one Dane and one Indian were at Liverpool to meet the British and Finnish teams. It was known that players were to come from the Soviet Union, and their non-appearance brought many enquiries from reporters. There was no "mystery" about the matter; the late choice of players had meant late applications for visas. In fact, only four days was required for the issue of these once Bronstein and Taimanov were known to be waiting in Prague.

The three individual players were grouped into an "International" team, and while awaiting the arrival of the Russians a short Tourney was held in which Finland beat Britain by 2-1, and the International team by the same margin, while the British trio beat the latter by 3-0.

The Soviet Grandmaster and Master arrived at 6 a. m. on April 10th, and a tournament was hastily arranged with the fast time limit of 40 moves in two hours. This was unfortunately necessary, as two games a day had to be played on two of the five days available. The other competitors were the Finnish master Pastuhoff and his fellow-countrymen Nyren and Rutanen with the Danish player Dinsen and the Indian Katragadda.

As was to be expected, the Russians won all their games against the other players, though they met stiff opposition. Nyren had a drawn position against Bronstein after 40 moves but was outplayed in the ending. The draw between the Russian players was a bitterly contested struggle. Taimanov, a concert pianist by profession, gave short recitals to the other competitors, and Bronstein’s work at the British section of the Institute of Languages in Moscow was of great service, even if he appeared to speak our language rather more quickly than most British people!

Unfortunately the impossibility of issuing advance publicity meant that few spectators witnessed the rare spectacle of two Soviet masters playing in a tourney in Britain.

In their individual game Bronstein avoided a draw by repetition on the fifteenth move, and after intense study of the transition to the middle game obtained a superior position, but as the time limit approached he had to make twelve moves in three minutes. At this point Taimanov sacrificed a piece for an attack which gained him a draw by perpetual check, Bronstein having missed a winning line.

Manchester Guardian, 9 April 1952


The Missing Men

By our own Reporter

Some of the complications of modern chess are shown bv the following timetable of events at an international tournament forming part of the National Union of Students’ Arts Festival at Liverpool.

Thursday, April 3: Teams arrived from Finland, India, Denmark, Belgium, and Czechoslovakia. Teams from Russia and Rumania had been expected but were missing.

Friday, April 4: Tournament due to open. "Unfortunately," said the festival bulletin "four representatives from Rumania and three from Russia are unable to take part due to difficulties in obtaining visas from the Foreign Office. Nevertheless the tournament will still take place although in a modified form."

Later on Friday: News came that the players from Russia and Rumania were on their way. The tournament opening put off to Sunday.

Sunday, April 6: No sign of Russians or Rumanians. "Unfortunately the chess tournament has not been all we hoped," said the bulletin. "It is anticipated that the Russians will be here on Monday, but owing to difficulties in travelling the Rumanians will be unable to attend. Contrary to many rumours, the delay was not occasioned by official obstruction but by lateness in the application for visas."

Monday, April 7: Still no Russians. It was learned that they had left Moscow on Saturday and were now in Prague. Meanwhile Finland was beating Great Britain by two games to one.

Yesterday Morning [8 April]: The Russians were expected by a morning train from London and chess enthusiasts were gathering to see them play the Finns. "We’ve played off all the games they were not involved in and now we have to rearrange the programme," said an official. Preparations were being made to receive them at the University hall of residence.

Yesterday afternoon [8 April]: The Russians, it was discovered bv telephone, were still in Prague. They would come by the quickest available route by way of Copenhagen and would reach Liverpool about teatime today—on the last effective day of the festival.

The organising officials were still undaunted. "What we shall do now," they said, "is see if we can hire a hall and continue the tournament over the Easter vacation."

Manchester Guardian, 12 April 1952


Improvised Tournament

From a Chess Correspondent

The two Russian chess masters, Bronstein and Taimanov, who were expected to arrive in Liverpool early in the week to take part in a chess tournament have now reached the city. When it became apparent that they would arrive the organisers of the tournament, the International Union of Students, with the help of Mr Gerald Abrahams, the Northern Counties champion who lives in Liverpool, converted the delayed proceedings into a seven-round tournament with three Finnish students, one Danish, and one Indian student, and the Cambridge player Denis Mardle, as the Russians’ opponents. The Russians in last night’s session were playing impressive chess, and the Finns and Mardle were giving a good account of themselves. The tournament will last three days.

Manchester Guardian, Tuesday 15 April 1952


The chess tournament organised bv the International Union of Students at Liverpool ended on Sunday night [13 April] with a convincing victory for the Russian masters Bronstein and Taimanov, who tied for first place with 6½ points out of a possible seven In the fifth round Taimanov was fortunate to draw with Bronstein, and in the last round Bronstein was lucky to win his game with Nyren, the Finnish student, who lost only by an error after six hours' play The winner of the third prize wras Pastuhoff (Finland) with 3½ points. Mardle (Cambridge), Nyren and Rutamen (both Finns) scored three points each, Dinsen (Denmark) two and Katragadde (India) was outclassed with only half a point.

The tournament showed the astonishing strength of the Russians, but several of the losers gave them exceedingly hard games.

Universities Chess Annual 1952/53, ppn 6-7


At Easter, the International Union of Students held their first International Student Chess Congress, which they hope will have been the fore-runner of an annual series of events, staged in each country of Europe in turn. The Congress was intended to be held in conjunction with the 1952 National Union of Students’ Arts Festival in Liverpool, but due to the late arrival of some competitors this was not possible. A notable feature Was the participation of the Russians Bronstein, who last year played a match against Botwinnik for the World Championship, and Taimanov, third in the previous U.S.S.R. Championship.

It was originally intended to stage a tournament with teams of three from seven or eight countries—Great Britain, Finland, Russia, Belgium, France, Rumania, Czechoslovakia, and East Germany were invited—with possibly individual com­petitors from other countries. Unfortunately, because of the very short time remaining before the date fixed for opening the Congress, only teams from Great Britain, Finland, Russia, Rumania and East Germany, together with a team from Grenoble representing France, were able to accept although Belgium, Denmark and India arranged to send individual players. The Rumanian and East German teams were unable to obtain visas and the French never arrived. The Russian team appeared on the day the Congress was due to finish. This was reported as being due to difficulty in obtaining visas, but was in fact due to late application for them, the visas being granted very promptly once the applications were received.

The start of the Congress had been fixed for Friday, April 4th, but by then there were only nine players present: the British team of Mardle (Cambridge), Oakley (Birmingham) and Littlewood (Sheffield); the Finnish team of Pastuhoff, Nyren and Rutanen; Dinsen (Denmark), Winants (Belgium) and Katragadda (India). It was decided to hold a lightning tournament and postpone the team Tourney to allow another day for late arrivals. On the Saturday no more players had arrived and a small team tournament was arranged with three teams—British, Finnish and an international team of Winants, Dinsen and Katragadda. This event was won by Finland who beat both the British and mixed teams by the same score 2-1, while the British beat the mixed team 3-0.


On Wednesday, April 9th, when it was known that Bronstein and Taimanov would be arriving the next day, it was decided to hold an Individual Tournament with eight or nine competitors. The time limit was fixed at the very fast rate of 40 moves in two hours, the effect of which was seen later when Dinsen lost to Taimanov on the clock with 11 moves still to make!

The first round was played on the Wednesday afternoon except the game between the two Russians, postponed till later. Next morning Bronstein and Taimanov arrived accompanied by Stepanov and Brusslov, the latter from the Soviet Embassy in London acting as interpreter. In the afternoon the second round was played. Unfortunately, the room which had been used for the chess was not available after Thursday as the University was closed for Easter. The new accom­modation found at the Stork Hotel had the advantage that the players could stay and play under the same roof, and that there was a grand piano for Taimanov, who is a leading Russian concert pianist, and who gave several recitals to the other com­petitors. There was, however, the disadvantage that the playing room was rather noisy in the evening, and on one occasion during an adjournment session, there was a piano accordion being played outside. The Tournament was completed with­out further hold-ups and was concluded on the Monday night with a dinner attended by most of the players and officials, together with representatives of N.U.S.

The majority of the players considered that the Congress despite its setbacks was a success. For this, credit is due to the organizers in Liverpool: Mr. Lipton, Mr. Wood, Miss Ballard the organizer of the N.U.S. Arts Festival, and in the later stages Mr. Gerald Abrahams, whose experience was very useful, as was his ability to speak Russian. Taimanov spoke no English and any conversation with him had to be carried on in German, while Bronstein’s English was practically unintelligible. However, it must be stressed that much more time for preparation is necessary if the Congress is to run more smoothly next time. The competitors were surprised at the small number of spectators present to witness the rare spectacle of two leading Soviet players competing in Great Britain. This was due to the difficulty of advance publicity and to the Easter Congress at Wallasey, which removed nearly a hundred Merseyside chess players from circulation while the Individual Tournament was in progress.

The standard of play was on the whole very high, and although Bronstein and Taimanov each beat all the other players, they had some hard games. In the last round Nyren, who competed in the World Junior Championship last year, had a drawn position against Bronstein at the first time control, but he let his chances slip in the ending. Taimanov was well held by Mardle until the British player blundered in time trouble. The game between the two Russians was a bitterly contested draw. After Bronstein had refused a draw by repetition early on, he obtained a superior position but in time pressure missed the winning line against a piece sacrifice by Taimanov, and allowed a draw by perpetual check. Final scores: Bronstein and Taimanov (U.S.S.R.) ; Pastuhoff (Finland) 3½ ; Mardle (G .B.), Nyren and Rutanen (Finland) 3 ; Dinsen (Denmark) 2 ; Katragadda (India) ½.

File Updated

Date Notes
1997 Zipped file with 28 games.
4 September 2022 Now with 28 games from the all-play-all involving Bronstein and Taimanov and 9 from the GB-Finland-International team event which preceded it whilst the Soviet stars were awaited. Crosstables and contemporary reports. I have attempted to work out precise dates for the two competitions.