15 July 2015

Cold War Chess Politics

On the Streatham & Brixton blog, Justin Horton posted about
the impact of the building of the Berlin Wall [1961] on various international chess tournaments that were due to take place that year and the next: mainly the Women's Olympiad, which was cancelled, but also making reference to the Interzonal, which took place not in Amsterdam, as planned, in 1961, but in Stockholm the next year. • Past imperfect III

A related clipping from the August 1961 BCM mentioned three forthcoming international events scheduled for the Netherlands:-

  • 1961-08: World Junior, The Hague;
  • 1961-09: Women's Olympics, Emmen; and
  • 1962-01: Interzonal, Amsterdam [BCM said 1961-01, but this looks like a misprint].

To this list he added an event from my page on the zonals of that period, C05: 1960-1963, specifically,

  • 1960-11: Zone 2 - Berg en Dal zonal,

where he questioned a statement from Robert Wade:-

Uhlmann of East Germany was refused a visa. This was one of the tit-for-tats in which NATO countries have retaliated for the setting up of the Berlin wall by refusing visas for all East Germans.

Wade apparently confused the years-long Berlin crisis with the building of the wall, the central event of that crisis. Here is a chronology from William Langer's Encyclopedia of World History (p.1200), a work I use frequently for understanding the connections between world events.

The Berg en Dal, Ubbergen [Wikipedia], tournament, which took place in November 1960, was also mentioned in a BCM clipping on my 'C05: 1960-1963' page:-

The East German grandmaster, W. Uhlmann, was refused an entry visa by the Dutch authorities, who said that multi-lateral agreements prevented them from granting it until he had obtained the necessary documents from the Allied Control Commission in West Berlin.

To understand the connection between the September 1960 events and the Allied Control Commission would take me into details of post-WWII cold war tensions that go beyond the objectives of this chess blog. In Bobby Fischer: Profile of a Prodigy, Frank Brady mentioned the impact of the Berlin events on the 1962 Stockholm Interzonal:-

The long, slow-burning, potentially eruptive conflict [the Berlin crisis] was no doubt partially responsible for the fact that FIDE was having no luck in its attempts to find a site for the Interzonal tournament. (p.48)

Since this would be more directly relevant to chess history, I'll see what I can discover for a future post. Thanks, Justin, for highlighting the entire sequence of events.

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