‘Your memory is regrettably short. Have you never heard of the Bordell case in the fifties when the Hastings organizers – on the mere suspicion that the Soviets would object to a representative from Spain – did not allow the Spaniard to compete in the Hastings Premier?’
So wrote Wolfgang Heidenfeld to B.H. Wood on page 370 of CHESS, September 1974.
Pages 334-335 of the August 1974 issue had carried an open letter from Ludĕk Pachman complaining, inter alia, that he had been debarred for political reasons from participating in a recent tournament in Germany:
‘Spassky and Polugayevsky, the Soviet grandmasters, came to Solingen on 6 July for the international tournament of my club. They announced that their Federation had instructed them to return immediately if I took part in the tournament. ... I was excluded by my club.’
At the end of the open letter one of several comments by B.H. Wood, the Editor of CHESS, was:
‘Frankly, we cannot imagine any British or US organizer giving in to such blackmail from the Soviet Chess Federation.’
Heidenfeld reacted as follows (in a letter whose first part had criticized a recent book, Grandmasters of Chess by Harold C. Schonberg):
Román Bordell Rosell (1928-2008) won the major section of the Hastings, 1952-53 Premier Reserves tournament 1½ points ahead of Hans Berliner (BCM, February 1953, pages 36-37). At that time he was the subcampeón of Spain, having finished second to Antonio Medina García in the Spanish championship in Oviedo and Gijón in August-September 1952. See pages 243-248 of Campeones y campeonatos de España de ajedrez by Pablo Morán (Madrid, 1974).
Hastings, 1953-54 was won jointly by C.H.O’D. Alexander and D. Bronstein. The other Soviet participant, A. Tolush, finished equal fourth with three other players.
As will be shown towards the end of the present article, the Bordell case was covered by CHESS at the time, though not by the BCM. The latter’s lack of interest stands in contrast to coverage in a number of British newspapers. First, an item from the ‘Peterborough’ column in the Daily Telegraph, 13 January 1954, page 6:
A follow-up feature was on page 6 of the Daily Telegraph, 19 January 1954:
After an initial report, the Bordell case was discussed in the correspondence column of The Times:
The Times, 21 January 1954, page 5
The Times, 23 January 1954, page 7
The Times, 26 January 1954, page 9
The Times, 28 January 1954, page 9
The Times, 29 January 1959, page 9
Next, three cuttings from the Hastings & St Leonards Observer. The first comes from the front page of its 23 January 1954 edition:
From page 6 of the Hastings & St Leonards Observer, 30 January 1954:
The third cutting, from page 7 of the Hastings & St Leonards Observer, 6 February 1954, has a letter from Percy John Morren:
As previously mentioned, the BCM did not cover the Bordell case. General praise for the organizer of the Hastings tournament, Frank Rhoden (1906-81), was expressed by Harry Golombek on page 33 of the February 1954 issue:
As regards CHESS, the item below comes from page 79 of the February 1954 issue:
CHESS, March 1954, page 95 had an article on the purported repercussions of the Hastings tournament in the Soviet Union, as well as, towards the end, more about Rhoden.
The Daily Mail report mentioned by CHESS in its opening paragraph above was on the front page of the 21 January 1954 edition:
The Bordell case was also discussed in Chess Review, April 1954, pages 99-100:
Further information from readers will be appreciated, and particularly concerning the reaction of the Spanish press to the Bordell case. We should also like to show any relevant material about the Hastings, 1953-54 tournament published in the Soviet Union.
Information on how the Spanish press handled the Bordell case has been provided by Eduardo Bauzá Mercére (New York, NY, USA) and Roberto Roig (Lima), both of whom have sent a report on page 50 of ABC, 7 February 1954:
Mr Bauzá Mercére has also forwarded page 33 of Ajedrez Español, January-February 1954:
Three further cuttings from Mr Bauzá Mercére:
La Vanguardia, 17 December 1953, page 24
ABC, 18 December 1953, page 45
La Vanguardia, 9 February 1954, page 21.
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Copyright: Edward Winter. All rights reserved.