|My first chess set|
Other things were happening. There was the Suez Crisis, President Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act for the construction of 41,000 miles of interstate highways, Fidel Castro landed in Cuba and started a revolution. The big news was Elvis Presley appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, sang Heartbreak Hotel and went on to a great career.
Unknown to me was what was happening in the world of my new found game. A favorite television show of my parents was You Bet Your Life starring Groucho Marx. One program featured Isaac Kashdan who was partnered with Tony Curtis' mother, Helen Schwartz. Marx kept referring to Kashdan as Mr. Ash Can; they didn't win any money. I probably saw the show, but don't remember it.
On February 5, 1956, Savielly Tartakower died in Paris at the age of 68 and Julius du Mont died in Hastings at the age of 74. On July 16, 1956, Karel Hromadka died in Prague at the age of 69. Dr. Walter R. Lovegrove, California's best player in the 19th and early 20th century died in San Francisco at the age of 86 on July 18. 1956. Lajos Asztalos died in Budapest on November 1st.
British champ C.H.O'D. Alexander was invited to a tournament in Moscow; the British Foreign Office wouldn't let go because he knew too many government secrets, probably as a result of his World War II code work at Bletchley Park. Harry Golombek was the British representative although he, too, had worked at Bletchley Park. Golombek failed to win a single game and finished last with a 2.5-12.5 score.
1956 was the year Fischer started making headlines; it was the year he defeated Donald Byrne in the “Game of the Century,” but before that there were other Fischer accomplishments.
The January issue of Chess Review, had Fischer on the cover giving a simul at the Manhattan Chess Club against kids from the Yorktown Chess Club. The twelve year old Fischer had just won the class B (1600-1799) prize of the first Greater New York City Open in January. William Lombardy (6.0-1.0) won the tournament on tie breaks over Dr. Ariel Mengarini. Fischer scored +5 -2 =0 and tied for 5th-7th with Anthony Saidy and E.S. Jackson, Jr. which was pretty good company.
Clearly in the Greater New York City Open Fischer was better than his rating would have indicated and on the August 1956 list his rating was 2349, making him the youngest US mater ever at the age of 13 years and 5 months old. Just the month before his Master's rating was published Fischer had taken first place in the US Junior Championship, scoring +8 -1 =1.
In August, Fischer tied for 4th-8th with Anthony Saidy, Attilio Di Camillo, Edmar Mednis and Stephan Popel in the US Open in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Fischer won 5 games, lost none and drew seven. He defeated A.M. Swank, Dr. Peter Lapiken, Dale Ruth, Dr. Orest Popovych and Jeremiah F Donovan. He drew with Henry Gross, C. Fred Tears, Brian Owens, Anthony Santasiere, Kenneth Smith, Wilmer Stevens and Stephan A Popel. Most old timers will recognize most of these names and most of them were solid masters.
After this tournament Fischer's rating had climbed to 2375 and he was ranked number 25 in the US. It was this tournament that produced Fischer's first published game, his win over Lapiken and for the first time he was interviewed on a local television program. At 13, he was the youngest player in the event.
In the tournament Bisguier was upset in the third round by Donald Fischheimer of Chicago and when the last round arrived the scores were:
Di Camillo 8.0
Ivan Theodorovich 8.0
Edgar McCormick 8.0
The last round pairings left the outcome wide open. The final round results were:
Bisguier drew with Mednis (which allowed Sherwin to catch him, but Bisguier had superior tiebreaks)
Sherwin defeated McCormick
Steimeyer defeated Theodorovich
Saidy drew with Di Camillo
1-2) Arthur Bisguier and James T. Sherwin 9.5
3) Robert Steinmeyer 9.0
4-8) Anthony Saidy, Attilio Di Camillo, Edmar Mednis, Stephan Popel and Bobby Fischer 8.5
9-15) Ivan Theodorovich, Anthony Santasiere, Orest Popovych, Henry Gross, Raymond Martin, Edgar McCormick and Paul Brandts 8.0
16-24) Daniel Fischheimer, Jack O'Keefe, Derwin Kerr, Charles Crittenden, Brian Owens, Kenneth Smith, Geza Fuster, Joaquin Medina and John Hudson 7.5
The following game was won by New York Master Paul Brandts who won the first New York State Senior Championship. His opponent was Washington, DC Expert Glenn Hartleb who used to pal around with the nefarious Norman T. Whitaker. Hartleb was killed in in 1961 in a car accident under somewhat mysterious circumstances while traveling with Whitaker.