Merano (Italian pronunciation: [meˈraːno]) or Meran (German pronunciation: [merˈaˑn]) is a town and commune in South Tyrol, northern Italy. Generally best known
for its spa resorts, it is located within a basin, surrounded by mountains standing up to 3,335
metres (10,942 feet) above sea level. Merano has a mild climate and palm trees grow there.
The town has
been a popular place of residence for several scientists, literary people, and artists. It's also a nice spot to have a vacation, I visited Merano together with my father.
Merano hosted two famous international chess tournaments:
Merano 1924: 1. Grünfeld
Merano 1926: 1. Colle
Plus the Candidates Final between Korchnoi and Hübner
and the World Chess Championship between Karpov and Korchnoi in 1981, the only title match to be held in Italy so far.
It appears that no contemporary tournament book ever appeared for either congress. In our time, A.J. Gillam, The Chess Player, produced a 56-page booklet Meran 1924 in 1998 and the same in 51 pages on Meran 1926 in 1996. K. Whyld produced
a limited edition of Meran Dec 1926 in 1954.
But now, Luca D’Ambrosio worked eight years on producing a tournament book covering the
two events. His object was to rescue the games and theory from oblivion, to recall the golden age of chess at international spas and the South Tyrol chess scene, in particular.
internationalen Schachturniere zu Meran 1924 und 1926: It is a big book, 500 pages and weighs 2.2 kg. Only 330 copies have been printed (written in german language). The cost is substantial –
78 euro and then there is the expense of getting it to your country by registered airmail.
It has good group photos, caricatures, line drawings, documents, larger diagrams and
every game he could find, annotated. It is a gorgeous book, interesting and an investment.
Meran 1924 (February)
1. Ernst Grünfeld 10.5/13
2. Rudolf Spielmann 8.5/13
3. Akiba Rubinstein 8.0/13
4. Dawid Przepiorka
5. Aleksej Selesnieff 7.5/13
6. Alexander Takacs 7.0/13
7. Edgard Colle 6.5/13
8. Karel Opocensky
9. Lajos Steiner 6.5/13
10. Siegbert Tarrasch 6.0/13
11. George Koltanowski 5.0/13
12. Gyula Patay von
13. Stefano Rosselli del Turco 4.5/13
14. Luigi Miliani 2.5/13
Meran 1926 (December)
1. Edgard Colle 9.0/13
2. Esteban Canal 8.5/13
3. Dawid Przepiorka 8.5/13
4. Boris Kostic 8.0/13
5. Frederick Yates 8.0/13
6. Ernst Grünfeld 7.5/13
7. Savielly Tartakower 7.5/13
8. Stefano Rosselli del
9. Henry Grob 4.5/13
10. Gyula Patay von Baj 4.5/13
11. Antonio Sacconi 4.5/13
12. Benno Alimonda
de Mannentreu 4.0/13
13. Remo Calapso 3.0/13
A glance at the names of the contestants will show how many are involved in opening theory: the Colle System, the Grunfeld Defense,
Grob’s Angriff, the Tarrasch Defense, Rubinstein variations in the French and Nimzo-Indian.
Of course, there is also the Meran Variation in the Semi-Slav. Although known earlier than 1924, it has taken its name
from the game Grunfeld-Rubinstein from Meran 1924. There is a whole chapter on the variant and almost seven double-column pages devoted to the game itself, played on the 6th of February 1924, in the third round.
Actually, a fairly large essay could be written about Meran and chess.
You’ll recall that Korchnoi and Hübner played together in the final of the 1980 Candidates in Meran. Hübner
resigned the match prematurely with games 9 and 10 adjourned.
Korchnoi, then aged of 50, still ranked as no. 2 of the world with (2695 Elo in 1981/II, half year list) once again
earned the right to play Anatoly Karpov, aged 30, no. 1 of the world (2700 Elo) for the title. The match was held in Meran in autumn 1981. The format was identical to the 1978 match the first player to achieve 6 wins (draws not counting) became world champion.
Korchnoi’s wife and son were still in the Soviet Union, his son Igor sentenced to a labor camp. Korchnoi fought for their freedom and his continuing effort likely led to his dismal performance against Karpov.
The match was supposed to start on September 19th, but because of Korchnoi's insistence that he would not play unless his family was released, Fridrik Olafsson, Iceland, president of the International Chess Federation (FIDE), made a unilateral decision
to delay the match for a month. Perhaps in the name of human rights the Soviet Government would release the family. The Soviet officials were outraged. Early in August, at a meeting of the International Chess Federation in Atlanta, they made a great
protest, after which it was decided that the "official" date would return to September 19th. But since Merano was not yet ready, actual play would start October 1st.
In spite of the protests, Korchnoi's son was arrested for evading army service, sentenced
to two and half years in labor camp, and served the full sentence.
The match took place between October 1st and November 19th, 1981. The purse was 800,000 Swiss Francs. After 18 games, with 6 to 2 wins and 10 draws (11:7 points), Anatoly Karpov successfully
defended his title.
Wikipedia says, “The first act of the musical CHESS also has a world chess championship match set in Meran, and features a song entitled "Merano", which includes the line, "rosy-cheeked Merano,
flourishing to a fault".
Schachweltmeisterschaft 1981, Wikipedia (german edition)
War in the World of Chess, Harold Schonberg, New York Times Sept. 27, 1981
http://www.arciscacchi.it/Sito01/Feedback.pdf, About the book by Lucca
Blog by Wayne Komer, Toronto, Canada