Scottish Championship 1948

compiled by Alan McGowan

The fifty-fifth annual Congress of the Scottish Chess Association was held at 1 Alva Street , the rooms of the Edinburgh CC, on Friday March 26th , and during the following week. The principal tournament, the Scottish Championship, attracted an entry which in both numbers and quality was certainly the strongest since the war. The result was as follows —

Scottish Championship 1948

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

 

1

W.A. Fairhurst

 

1

1

½

1

1

0

1

1

1

2

N.A. Perkins

0

 

1

1

1

1

½

1

1

1

3

J.M. Aitken

0

0

 

1

½

½

1

1

1

1

6

4

A.G. Burnett

½

0

0

 

½

1

1

1

½

1

5

S.L. Hart

0

0

½

½

 

1

1

0

½

1

6

T. Russell, Jnr.

0

0

½

0

0

 

1

1

1

½

4

7

E.G.W. Beckingham.

1

½

0

0

0

0

 

0

½

1

3

8

M. Podoba

0

0

0

0

1

0

1

 

0

1

3

9

H.A. Turriff

0

0

0

½

½

0

½

1

 

0

10

T.R. Harvey

0

0

0

0

0

½

0

0

1

 

The tournament resolved itself fairly soon into a three-cornered struggle for first place between Fairhurst (the holder), Aitken, and Perkins, in which the last-named held an initial lead as Fairhurst suffered an unexpected reverse by losing to Beckingham in the second round, while Aitken was held to a draw in the third round and was only likely to draw an adjourned game from the opening round. In the fifth round, however, Fairhurst defeated Perkins in a lively game (given below) and after seven rounds had been played Aitken held a slight advantage with a score of 4½ and two adjourned games (ultimately 6), while Perkins was 5½, and Fairhurst was 5 with an adjourned game against Burnett. In the eighth round Fairhurst won a vital game by working up an overwhelming attack against Aitken while Perkins defeated Burnett. The evening was devoted to clearing off the adjourned games but the most important of these, Burnett v Fairhurst, was again adjourned looking now very like the draw that was eventually reached, though at one stage Fairhurst had missed a definite win.

In the last round the stage was set for an exciting finish as Perkins (6½) had to play Aitken (6) while Fairhurst, with 6 points and one adjourned game, had to play the bottom-marker Harvey . As so often happens in such circumstances Harvey put up a remarkably strong fight and in a difficult ending with two Rooks against a Queen, Fairhurst must, at times, have wondered if there was more than a draw; but in the end his greater experience told. After this he resumed his game with Burnett and finished with 7½ points when this ended in a draw.

Meanwhile, Aitken was having a tremendous struggle with Perkins. For Aitken a drawor a loss left him alike in third place, whereas with a win he was at least second and han an outside chance of a tie. For Perkins, too, while the issue was not so clear-cut, it was probable that a win was required if he was to have a chance of the title. The opening was steadily played and Aitken obtained some pull which, however, was in danger of evaporating when he embarked on a dangerous line in an attempt to force a win. Perkins, however, played carefully at the crisis and Aitken, compelled to shed pawns to extricate an adventurous Knight, came ut with Rook and Knight versus Rook, Bishop and three pawns but with his pieces well placed and his opponents' in a bit of a tangle, and by harassing attacks by Rook and Knight on the opponent's King he eventually won a pawn but, unfortunately, at the cost of allowing the minor piece exchange. The ending that followed ws a very long business—Rook, KKtP and KRP v. Rook—which is, in general, considerably harder than any other pair of united pawns but Perkins was eventually able to transpose into a book win and to force Aitken's resignation after 123 moves. Perkins thus tied with Fairhurst at 7½ points: the two players share first and second prizes and will play off for the title at a date to be arranged.

Apart from over-reaching himself and finally blundering in severe time-pressure against Beckingham, Fairhurst's play was up to his usual standard and he evinced even more than his customary tenacity in making such a score as 7½out of 9 after his early reverse. Perkins also played excellently throughout and achieved his best tournament achievement to date. Aitken played sound and vigorous chess for the first seven rounds and then lost his chance of the title by his error of judgement in the opening against Fairhurst. Burnett played stubbornly but was by no means so accurate as last year. Of the other players Hart and Russell did well on a first appearance and will do better in future; while Beckinghams's performance was remarkable in view of the severe handicap he suffered by being obliged to travel daily from Dundee. He is a player never overawed by his opponent's reputation and, in fact, was wont to produce his best chess against his strongest opponents.

(BCM 1948, May, pp 154-7)

Note: Fairhurst won the play-off match 3-0.)

Beckingham,E - Fairhurst,W [B83]
Scottish Championship Edinburgh (2), 1948
1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 e6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 d6 6 Be2 Nbd7 7 0-0 Nc5 8 f3 Be7 9 Be3 0-0 10 Qd2 a6 11 Rfd1 Qc7 12 Qe1 b5 13 b4 Nb7 14 a3 Bd7 15 Rac1 Rac8 16 Nb1 d5 17 Nd2 e5 18 N4b3 d4 19 Bg5 a5 20 Nb1 a4 21 N3d2 Qb6 22 Kh1 Rfd8 23 c4 dxc3 24 Nxc3 Be6 25 Nxb5 Rxc1 26 Rxc1 Ng4 27 fxg4 Bxg5 28 Rc2 Qe3 29 Nf3 Qxe4 30 Rc7 Bxg4 31 Rxf7 Bf6 32 Rc7 Kh8 33 Rc4 Qf5 34 h3 Bxf3 35 Bxf3 Qd7 36 Nc3 Nd6 37 Rc5 Rc8 38 Qd1 Qf7 39 Qxd6 Rd8 40 Qc7 Qxc7 41 Rxc7 1-0

 

Perkins,N - Fairhurst,W [B40]
Scottish Championship Edinburgh (5), 1948
1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 e6 3 c4 An unusual line. The attempt to get a Maroczy Bind is revealed as very dangerous by Fairhurst's energetic play. 3 ..Nc6 4 d4 cxd4 5 Nxd4 Bb4+ 6 Nc3 Qh4 7 Qd3 [ In this tense position Perkins plays to avoid the loss of a pawn, but this leaves him with a difficult game. An interesting alternative is 7 Ndb5 Qxe4+ 8 Be2 when Fairhurst intended 8 ..Qxg2 ( 8 ..Qe5 9 f4 Qb8 10 a3 Be7 11 Ne4 with advantge to White occurred in Spielmann-Tartakower, Vienna 1928.) 9 Bf3 Qh3 with a wild position.] 7 ..Ne5 8 Qc2 Nf6 9 Nf3 This is the key move of White's plan and saves the threatened pawn... 9 ..Nxf3+ [ ...for after 9 ..Qxe4+ 10 Qxe4 Nxe4 11 Nxe5 Nxc3 12 Bd2 wins a piece.] 10 gxf3 0-0 11 Be3 [ White has a very bad game strategically as his King's side is shattered and so he can only Castle Queen side where Black can quickly open files. In such positions one must play at all costs for tactical counter-chances. Here, for instance, I would prefer 11 Rg1 and if 11 ..h6 12 e5 with some counter-play.] 11 ..d5! The theme of Black's game is to open lines as rapidly as possible, if necessary by pawn sacrifices. 12 cxd5 exd5 13 0-0-0 dxe4 14 Rd4 [ White did not relish 14 fxe4 Bg4 but the text is hardly better.] 14 ..Bc5 15 Rc4 Bxe3+ 16 fxe3 Qe1+ 17 Nd1 Be6 18 Rc3 Nd5 19 Bg2 Qh4 20 Rc5 [ In his efforts to save the exchange White loses a Rook. There is, however, nothing to be done now: if 20 Rc4 Rac8 21 Kb1 ( 21 b3 b5) 21 ..Nb4 wins.] 20 ..Nb4 21 Qxe4 Qxe4 22 fxe4 Nd3+ 0-1

 

Perkins,N - Beckingham,E [B62]
Scottish Championship Edinburgh (3), 1948
1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 d6 6 Bg5 e6 7 f4 Qa5 [ So far as I am aware, novel in this position. It looks premature but becomes very strong after Black's weak reply. 7 ..Be7 looks best.] 8 Bxf6 gxf6 9 Ndb5 Qd8 10 Qd2 a6 11 Nd4 Qc7 12 0-0-0 Bd7 13 g3 Rc8 14 Nb3 b5 Provoking White to the following sacrifice. 15 Bxb5 axb5 16 Nxb5 Qb7! [ A surprising stroke though it is doubtful if the move is objectively better than the obvious 16 ..Qb8 which leads to an ending where White has three pawns for the piece. I would somewhat prefer Black in the ending but Beckingham prefers the trappy complications of the text. His decision can hardly be criticized, for at such moments much depends on subjective considerations such as one's style and by the line chosen he has, at least, a draw and gives his opponent ample opportunity to go wrong.] 17 Nxd6+ [ Not 17 Qxd6? Nb4 wins.] 17 ..Bxd6 18 Qxd6 Nb4 19 Kb1 [ Not at first 19 Nc5? Nxa2+ 20 Kb1 Nc3+ 21 Kc1 Rxc5 22 Qxc5 Nxd1 23 Rxd1 Qxe4 and wins.] 19 ..Nxc2 20 Nc5 Na3+ 21 Ka1 [ White cannot avoid the draw-if 21 Kc1 Nb5 wins.] 21 ..Nc2+ [ Black, too, does best to take the immediate draw: for, after 21 ..Qxb2+ 22 Kxb2 Nc4+ 23 Ka1 Nxd6 24 Nxd7 Nxe4 (best) 25 Rd4 the ending is in White's favour because of the passed QRP. A game creditable to both players.] ½-½

 


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