Chess Olympiad: Paris 1924 (Unofficial)

Blog  Olympiad History
Chess Olympiad held in conjunction with 8th Summer Olympic Games
Date: 12th – 20th July 1924
City: Paris, France
Venue: Majestic Hotel
Head of Organizing Committee: Mr. Pierre Vincent (FRA)
Tournament Director: Dr. Alexander Alekhine (FRA)
Teams participating: 18 (each team incl. max. 4 players)
Players participating: 54 (2 players withdrew before the end)
Games to be played: 347
Games actually played: ≤343 (no less than 4 games were set as defaults)
Game system: The players were split into 9 groups of five. Each group ran on a round robin basis and the winner advanced to the Championship Final, which was another round robin of 9 players. Others entered 8-round Swiss Consolation Cup with points scored in the preliminaries added to the final score. Apparently the rules of the Swiss pairings were not coherent with what is seen today.
Tie-breaks: Unknown. Perhaps Berger was used as tie-break in the preliminaries. Most sources attribute 4th place in the Championship Final to Euwe ahead of Vajda which is obviously contradictory to Berger tie-break. On the other hand standard Buchholz cannot be adopted for the Consolation Cup tie splitting since preliminary stage points were taken into account as well.
Time control: 40 moves in 2 hours, then each next 20 moves in 1 hour
Official logo: PARIS 1924
WWW pages: Les jardins de Caïssa (in French, cached)
Article on Paris event (in Spanish)

Tournament review

The first Team Chess Tournament had been held by coinciding the Games of the 8th Summer Olympics in Paris, 1924. The core of the organizing committee were the Frenchmen Pierre Vincent and Alexander Alekhine. Although officially this was not part of Olympic games and the winners were not given official Olympic medals, the rules of the Olympiads applied, among them a ban on professionals imposed by IOC at the very beginning of the Olympic movement. However the Chess Olympic Games, as the tournament was referred to as in the past, is not recognized as official Chess Olympiad not only because it was not organized by FIDE (established parallelly to the event) but first of all because of a format. 55 players representing 18 countries arrived to Paris. They were decided to be split into 9 preliminary groups of 5, a winner of each qualifying into the Championship Final while the rest joined 8-round Swiss consolation tournament. The Dutchman Van Linschooten honourably withdrew from the competition to make the splitting smoother. The final team order was decided on the basis of the total points obtained by each nation’s players in the two heats (the preliminaries and the finals). It must be stressed that the overall team results are highly disputable, since the majority of the nations taking part were represented by fewer than four players; moreover players from the same country competed against each other in the course of the event. The winner of the individual tournament earned the title of the “Amateur World Champion”.

World’s top players unfortunately did not appear in Paris. There were some decent players – like Euwe, Colle or Hasasi – in the field, but nothing more. The preliminary stage did not bring much surprises. Vajda (Hungary) kicked out master of Belgium Koltanowski from the final, Schulz (Czechoslovakia) was wiped out by the Spaniard Golmayo. Apšenieks from Latvia and Tschepurnoff from Finland were the only two to have qualified with 5 consecutive wins. Golmayo and Palau (Argentina) qualified thanks to superior Berger in favour of Schulz and Romi (Italy), respectively. Hungary and Latvia had two players in the Championship final, Belgium, Netherlands, Finland, Spain and Argentina had one. Czechoslovakia, France and Poland were big losers of the preliminaries, since no one from these nations went through.

As the finals began, Golmayo kicked off with impressive pace earning 2½ points out of 3, ahead of Colle and Havasi, 2 each. Euwe (who a. o. beat Matisons) and Tschepurnoff set the pace in the middle stage of the race. Colle, Tschepurnoff and Euwe were in the lead after 6th round, 3½ points each (Colle yet to have a rest day), ahead of Matisons and Golmayo – 3. Unfortunately Euwe and Tschepurnoff’s finish was awful and they were thrown down the table, as well as Golmayo. Both Latvians went on the top of the group because of their impressive final spurt. Colle might have levelled on points with both Latvians had he only beaten Matisons in the very last round, but he barely drew. Hermanis Matisons, the young Latvian master was proclained the “World Amateur Champion” and received gold medal, his team-mate Apšenieks, the runner-up, and Colle who finished third were awarded with the silver-plated medals and the rest of the finalists received bronze medals.

The Czech Hromádka won the consolation cup comfortably ahead of his team-mate Schulz and Voellmy for Switzerland. Behting (Bētiņš) of Latvia played very well in the final phase but he had to recover from his poor preliminary play. Romi, who missed the final by the fraction struggled in the final section and Malmberg of Finland drew all of his 8 games of the final stage. The winner was awarded same medal as the Championship Final participants.

Czechoslovakia missed the individual final and thanks to that they outplayed easily their weak consolation cup opposition winning the team classification a point ahead of favoured Hungary, who earned another one point advantage over Switzerland. Latvia had only three players in the squad and their 4th position must be considered immense success, since two of them won individual tournament and the last one brought as much as 8 points in overall. France, the hosts, were down in 7th place shared with Poland, who sent their third suit to Paris. Belgium were hoping for more but not with poor Jonet in the squad. As we have already mentioned Holland were deprived of one man, and because of that they were down in 11th.

On July 20th, the last day of the games, 15 delegates from all over the World signed the proclamation act of the International Chess Federation (originally known as Fédération Internationale des Échecs in French) and elected Dr. Alexander Rueb of Holland the first FIDE president. Latin motto Gens una sumus (“we are one family”) became official and well-recognized watchword of the chess unity. Below is the historic list of 15 founders of FIDE: Abonyi (Hungary), Grau (Argentina), Gudju (Romania), Marusi (Italy), Nicolet (Switzerland), Ovadija (Yugoslavia), Penalver y Zamora (Spain), Rawlins (Great Britain), Rueb (Netherlands), Skalička (Czechoslovakia), Smith (Canada), Towbin (Poland), Tschepurnoff (Finland), Vincent (France), Weltjens (Belgium).


Team Classification

no. team code flag pts players
1. Czechoslovakia CSR Czechoslovakia 31 Hromádka 9½, Schulz 9, Vaněk 6½, Skalička 6
2. Hungary HUN Hungary 30 Vajda 8, Sterk 7½, Steiner 7½, Havasi 7
3. Switzerland SUI Switzerland 29 Voellmy 8½, Zimmermann 7½, Johner 6½, Naegeli 6½
=4. Latvia LAT Latvia 27½ Apšenieks 10, Matisons 9½, Bētiņš 8
Argentina ARG Argentina 27½ Grau 8, Reca 7½, Palau 7, Fernández Coria 5
6. Italy ITA Italy 26½ Cenni 7½, Rosselli del Turco 7, Romi 6½, Miliani 5½
=7. France FRA France 25½ Renaud 8, Lazard 6½, Duchamp 6, Gibaud 5
Poland POL Poland 25½ Daniuszewski 7½, Piltz 6, Kohn 6, Kleczyński 6
9. Belgium BEL Belgium 24 Colle 8½, Koltanowski 8, Lancel 5, Jonet 2½
10. Spain ESP Spain 19 Golmayo de la Torriente 7, Marin y Llovet 6, Rey Ardid 6
11. Netherlands NED Netherlands 18½ Euwe 8, Oskam 6, Rueb 4½
12. Romania ROM Romania 18 Davidescu 7, Gudju 6, Loewenton 5
13. Finland FIN Finland 15 Tschepurnoff 9, Malmberg 6
14. Great Britain GBR Great Britain 12½ Handasyde 6, Wreford 3½ Holloway 3
15. Ireland IRL Ireland O’Hanlon 5½
16. Canada CAN Canada 5 Smith 5
17. Russia RUS Potemkine 3, Kahn 1½
18. Yugoslavia YUG Yugoslavia Rozić 2½


Sum of points scored in the preliminaries and in the finals contributed to team’s overall score. No tie-breaks were used. Please note: players representing same nation were allowed to play each other.

Potemkine and Kahn were Russian expatriates who lived in France. They were recorded as “Russia” in the tournament. It was not correct. The communist state Soviet Union existed since 1922.


Individual medals awarded

name code achievement
Matisons, Hermanis LAT Championship Final Winner
Apšenieks, Fricis LAT Championship Final Runner-up
Colle, Edgar BEL Championship Final 3rd place
Euwe, Machgielis NED Championship Final Participant
Vajda, Árpád HUN Championship Final Participant
Tschepurnoff, Anatol FIN Championship Final Participant
Palau, Luis Argentino ARG Championship Final Participant
Golmayo de la Torriente, Manuel ESP Championship Final Participant
Havasi, Kornél HUN Championship Final Participant
Hromádka, Karel CSR Consolation Cup Winner


Best game prizes

A special prize founded by Mr. Juncosa for best game played with Saragossa Opening (1. c2-c3).

Interesting games

  1. Hromádka, Karel (CSR) – Matisons, Hermanis (LAT) 0 – 1 : Black defended carefully and took full advantage of all his counterchanges.