Not all stories need 100,000 words. McFarland Books recognized this and has begun to expand
past the large thorough biographies they are known for publishing into historical works that examine an
idea, theme, or tournament history. Their most recent book – The Gijon International Chess
Tournaments, 1944 – 1965: A History with Biographies and 213 Games by Pedro Mendez Castedo and
Luis Mendez Castedo, is a fine example of the latter.

As the title suggests, the Gijon Tournaments were held in the Asturian region of Spain, from
1944 to 1965. These events started by the Casino de La Union chess club and the City Council festivities
committee. While the Second World War was still raging throughout most of Europe, Spain which had
recently been involved in its own civil war, was not as heavily involved as most of the European nations
with the war. As such, they were in the enviable position of being able to have events promoting their
town and region. (This would be continued by such Spanish regions as Montilla, which had stronger, but
a much shorter run of tournaments in the 1970s.)

The first event brought to the region: Alexander Alekhine- the world champion in the 1940’s,
Antonio Medina- the Spanish champion, and Arturo Pomar- child prodigy. They received travel
expenses, free accommodation, and a fee, plus prizes to be won. They played against six of the best
local players. Even though he was not the great player he once was, Alekhine still won the event with he
and Medina finishing one and a half points ahead of the field. This pattern for the tournament would
continue for the next twenty – one years with a few nonlocal players, often Dutch, coming to play
against the best local competition. The foreign players often won the event, including Max Euwe who
won in 1951. However, in 1945 and 1948 the local player Antonio Rico Gonzalez won the event. He was
also the only local player to compete in all 11 of the events (the annual event had a small break in 1952
and 1953 and a large break from 1956 to 1965.)

The book, not surprisingly, is divided into a chapter for each tournament. The chapter thoughts
with both the Final Crosstable and the round by round individual scores. This is a great addition that is
missing from too many books lately, though this reviewer would prefer a running total rather than just
how the player did each round. This was followed by a brief overview of the tournament and then a
short profile of the winner of the event. When Rico Gonzalez won for the second time in 1948, the
authors chose to highlight Manuel Golmayo de la Torriente, the best Spanish player during the first third
of the twentieth century. For each tournament, a game won by the event champion is included.

At this point, the games of each year are then highlighted. The first few games are annotated
and usually highlight the winner’s performance. The annotations seem to come from the authors but
are generally unattributed, save when they are taken from another source. For example, Bent Larsen
won the tournament in 1956 and put one of these games in his first game collection book. Most of the
games are not annotated and only a few are given for each event. It is unclear if this is all that could be
found or if the authors chose their unannotated selections based on some criteria.

The typical appendices and indexes have been included. The most noteworthy being a brief
biographical summary of everyone who participated in the events. Many of the players from other
countries were IMs or GMs and many of the local players were untitled, but probably of master/expert
strength based on the various city and regional trophies they had won.

Though a brief book, that could have a few more games or a bit longer biographical information,
the book does a nice job covering the eleven tournaments and highlighting the chess history of the
Asturias region. It is a nice history that can be enjoyed by all.

This book can be purchased at or by calling 800 – 253 – 2187.