BOBCH #5: Nielsen vs. O’Kelly de Galway (1954-56)

By now, there are several thousands of games on this site. How is one supposed to find games that are interesting? The answer is that one is not. One can, from now, look at the Best Of Belgian Chess History posts to find some of the more interesting ones. One can even make suggestions to the webmaster. One is very lucky, indeed.

The scene:

The mid-fifties. An enormous correspondence tournament is organised in honour of the great correspondence player Eduard Dyckhoff. And by enormous, I mean gigantic: more than a thousand people played. The main invitation group consisted of some very high-level players, including renowned correspondence players like Heemsoth, Napolitano, and Barda as well as top over-the-board players like Schmid and the Belgian champion O’Kelly de Galway. The over-the-board players dominated.

The protagonists:

White: Julius Nielsen, 52 years

In 1954, Bent Larsen had not burst on to the tournament scene yet and Denmark was not really a chess-playing nation. Nielsen had been among the top of this small circle for quite a while, being selected twice for the national olimpiad team, but his main claim to fame is probably that he edited Skakbladet, the official magazine of the Danish chess union. Later on he would reach the final of the correspondence world championship.

Black: IM Albéric O’Kelly de Galway, 43 years

After World War II, O’Kelly’s star had shot up rapidly: he had won the Hoogovens tournament, the zonal tournament, the São Paulo international tournament and a numbers of smaller tournament. When this tournament started, he had established himself among the world’s top 50 players, ranking as high as the 27th place in 1954 according to chessmetrics. He had not been doing a lot of correspondence chess, probably due to an overfull schedule, so it was not clear how well he would do against experienced correspondence player.

Why did I choose this game?

Mainly on advice of O’Kelly himself. In his book 34 mal Schachlogik, he calls it probably the most complicated game he had played. It is a fascinating struggle in the Najdorf Sicilian. O’Kelly would later go on to write one of the first books about this opening, in which he also explained this game.


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