San Remo 1930: World Chess Championship

The city of San Remo in the first decades of the twentieth century was in ferment with a continuos growth of tourism born in the previous century thanks to the wonderful climate and the enviable goegraphic location.

The name of the City of Flowers started to become famous as one of the favorite destinations of European nobility and famous personalities drawn to the Riviera mainly by the municipal Casino, often scene in those years of important  social and international events.

 The first international chess tournament organized in Italy took place in San Remo in 1911, during the celebrations of the 50th year of the Italian Unity and it saw the course of a male tournament and a female one. The “Italia Scacchistica” gave the news of it, born in that year: the Swiss with Czech origins Hans Fahrny (with 7.5 on 10, unbeaten), before  Moissei Lowtzky from Lipsia, with 7 points and the Hungarian Leo Forgacs with 6.5, also unbeaten.

As a side event a female tournament was arranged that saw at the starting line 9 players. The podium was all English: the Londoner Miss Kate Finn won, second Miss Cotton, sometimes called Selma and other times Helen, also from London, third Mrs Rentoul from Kensington.  To represent Italy there was the countess Fossati from Turin.


In 1930, from January 16 to Febuary 4, the World Chess Championship was held in San Remo, that aroused great interest and it still remains after 80 years the biggest chess competition ever organized in Italy.

The partecipants were almost all the best chess players of that period that gathered in the Matuzian City contending the title.

The 120 matches played by players of the calibre of Alexander Alekhine, Akiba Rubinstein, Edgar Colle, Hans Kmoch, Mario Monticelli and many others, names that for chess passionates represent the best world scene of all times. The halls of the San Remo Casino were the place where the challenges were played during the day, while the evenings the rooms of the gambling house turned into dance floors for fantastic dancing nights.

The tournament was won by Alexander Alekhine, already World Champion xx, a top level chess player that was abile to place 14 wins over 15 challenges, bringing home the 10.000 lira offered as a prize . Alekhine kept the title from 1927 to 1935.

In that period the importance of the event was so great that the name of San Remo bounced to the headlines in the international chess world, while the memory of the tournament resists the passing of the decades so much that the matches played  in that occasion have become classics in the world literature of chess and are still studied in the minimum details by many chess players.