Mar del Plata (1948) — Part 1

File under: be careful what you wish for…

I issued an offer on <CG> to build a tournament collection for the first three takers. <Chessical> suggested a good one, Mar del Plata (1948). Here’s his note:

Premium Chessgames Member
Chessical: <Zanzibar> May I suggest Mar del Plata 1948, which was a noteable tournament with strong South American, European masters as well as the maverick American representative Denker.[Event “Mar del Plata”]
[Site “Mar del Plata”]
[Date “1948.??.??”]…

And here’s the cross table his link references:


(Follow the link for a better looking table.)

The problem here is that this is a round-robin crosstable (xtab), and we need a Swiss xtab. The Swiss xtab will have both round numbers and colors for the pairings. This more exact knowledge facilitates building the collection – and is fact mandatory for my latest version of the software. But we do see that there are 18 players in a RR tournament => N_games = (18*17)/2 = 153 games.

Let’s follow this process as closely as possible, so that some of the issues are exposed. I’ll try to put up useful screenshots as we go along.

The first step, for me, is to see what I already have – by finding the tournament in one of my databases, e.g. <MillBase>, <RUSbase>, etc. Here is the header search for <MillBase>, using my favorite program, SCID:


I highlighted the search terms, which are best broad at first, and refined if needed later. Here, I just use the site and year. This search yields 153 games, as can be seen in the bottom left corner.  So <MillBase> presumably does have all the games for the tournament.

Let’s take a long at what we have, using SCID’s gamelist window:


The <Game List> window is shown in the upper right corner (I’m showing all of SCID to given you an idea). The horizontal scroll tab is about half-way through the list which is enough to show the problem – <MillBase> doesn’t have any round number information, and so it puts all games as round 1.

Now this is where the biographer typically earns their salt – sometimes doing historical research in newspapers to determine round number pairings. It can be tedious, but necessary, work.

But sometimes you luck out, and the work becomes unnecessary – for you, luckily. That is, if somebody else has already done the work. For example, searching Google for <Mar del Plata 1948> I discovered PGNmentor already has this tournament.

Not only does it already have the tournament, but also provides the round numbers:


Now, let’s download this PGN and load it into SCID:


SCID has a bunch of tabs – for the move list, comments, Database Switcher, Game List, etc. We see that I’ve loaded the PGN in, and we can then look at a game from the tournament. Having selected a game, we can then ask SCID to create a Swiss xtab, provided all the round numbers are in place. It looks like this:


SCID has a rather extensive knowledge of players, which includes nationality, FIDE titles, and dob. Using the verbose labeling on a crosstable allows spotting mismatches. For example, two of the players are clearly incorrectly identified, as shown by having negative ages. A third player, Olivera, doesn’t have an age at all, and should be examined too.

Although this might seem to be a bit of overkill now (after all, we have the names right?), doing a little homework at this point can save a lot of trouble down the line. On the other hand, we did get a complete Swiss xtab, and we could run the automated tournament builder script right now, just to see where we are. Let’s do that to finish this first part of the post:


I told SCID to save the xtab as the text file: “C:\Temp\Mar del Plata (1948) – Swiss.xtab”. Then I ran my python script on it. The first two players, Eliskases and Stahlberg were handled properly, but the program couldn’t find a match in its list of <CG> players for Medina Garcia.

Well, you really didn’t expect clear sailing from start to finish did you?

That’s enough for this first part, I wrote it up as I went along. Having found a problem is a good place for me to stop, as I need to investigate a little (in private – as one of my favorite physics professors told me – “never integrate in public”!).




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