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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

US Open 1956

     Sometime in 1956 I was home from school sick and while watching television there was a movie in which two men in prison were playing chess and for some reason it looked fascinating. Using an encyclopedia, I cut out chess pieces from some red and yellow cards from some sort of a board game, put clay on the bottom and a red and black checker board completed the set. All that was left was to learn the moves from the encyclopedia and I was off and running. 
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: 

Bisguier 9.0 
Sherwin 8.5 
Steinmeyer 8.0 
Saidy 8.0 
Di Camillo 8.0 
Mednis 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. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

William Lombardy Gets Squashed Like A Bug

In 1955 the top rated players in the US were: 

1) Samuel Reshevsky 2766 
2) Larry Evans 2629 
3) Robert Byrne 2621 
4-5) Arthur Bisguier and Donald Byrne 2587 
6) Herman Steiner 2507 
7) Max Pavey 2476 
8) Nicolas Rossolimo 2462 
9) Isaac Kashdan 2439 
10) Herbert Seidman 2434 
11) Arnold Denker 2432 
12-13) George Kramer and James T. Sherwin 2404
14) Arthur Dake 2400 

     In those days class titles were: "Grandmaster" which required a rating of over 2700 and only included Reshevsky, those rated over 2500 were “Senior Masters” and those with a rating of 2300-2499 were “Masters.” The master list totaled 36 players. 
     Some players in the master category merited special mention. It was noted that Norman T. Whitaker (2313) had been kicked out of the USCF and would not be on any future lists. Whitaker was the first player in the history the USCF to have been kicked out. In December of 1954 Whitaker had circulated a mimeographed letter which in the opinion of the Executive Committee “transcended all bounds of free speech in its attacks upon the character and integrity of USCF officials.” In addition, Whitaker was barred forever from taking part in tournaments, matches or other chess event sponsored by the USCF and what's more, if he played in any tournament it would not be rated. Whitaker sued the USCF for what amounts to about $900,000 today...for damages resulting from the publication of a brief reference to his connection with the Lindberg kidnapping hoax. I was unable to discover when or how the Whitaker vs. USCF issue was finally resolved. 
     It was also noted that in order to remain on the master list, Curt Brasket, Arthur Dake, Atillio Di Camillo, Jack Moscowitz, Carl Pilnick, Miroslav Turiansky, Anthony Santasiere and Walter Suesman would have to earn an average rating of 2300 or better in tournaments meeting the standards of a master contest.  They did.
     Also appearing on the master list were three foreign players who were USCF members: Geza Fuster (2367) and Paul Vaitonis (2359) of Canada and Arturo Pomar (2478) of Spain. 
     One of the regular features of Chess Life was the column "Games by USCF Members" by John W. Collins in which he annotated interesting games by ordinary USCF members. In one such game in the January 1955 issue Collins wrote in the introduction, "New York City's most promising young player learns that you can't be too careful, especially with the black pieces."  The promising young player was William Lombardy, who at the time was barely a master with a rating of 2302.  His opponent had a provisional rating of 1973.  In those days a provisional rating was based on one tournament, not a specific number of games.
     Apparently Lombardy learned the lesson well because I remember watching him play and words that come to mind to describe his games are stodgy, monotonous, tedious and ho hum, just to name a few and accompanying time trouble was not infrequent. When I met Lombardy in the mid-1970s he was not the sad old man he was to become. He was gregarious and always willing to sign an autograph, pose for a picture or chat with fans.
     The game was played in the 1954 Marshall Chess Club Championship which was won by John W. Collins; Lombardy would win the club championship the following year. 


Monday, January 14, 2019

US Navy and Chess Boards

     According to in the October 24, 2017 issue The Virginian-Pilot, the Norfolk (Virginia) Naval Shipyard wasted $21 million for an unauthorized security force.
     Senior security personnel at the Shipyard established an unauthorized armed police force and wasted as much as $21 million in manpower, stockpiled vehicles and other gear, including a high-speed boat, for more than a decade following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, according to a Naval Sea Systems Command investigation. Nothing new there! Shenanigans have been going on at the shipyard since at least World War II. 
     The January 21, 1945 issue of the Washington D.C. Sunday Star reported on misuse of manpower, waste and inefficiency at the Norfolk Navy Yard that was discovered when the Senate War Investigating Committee paid them a surprise visit. 
     According to the article Senate members found "idleness and loafing on a big scale." Civilian employees stood around in groups smoking and talking right on the decks of “vital fighting ships” and their bosses were nowhere to be seen. Even the men themselves thought there were too many of them on the job and they complained that as a result they weren't able to do an honest day's work.  Reports also claimed that this forced idleness caused thousands of honest and energetic workers to be demoralized because it resulted in reduced efficiency and a decrease in production. 
     The problem was, according to Yard officials, 50 percent turnover and lack of training. Yard officials also complained that hundreds of naval officers had more authority than their experience warranted which resulted in production delays.
     The Wednesday, January 24, 1945 edition of the Wilmington (North Carolina) Star complained that the Navy was wasting money that could have gone to the war effort by building chess boards and other trifling items. 


     One gets the impression that these boards and other items were being produced by the hundreds. In fact, according to another article, the value of these items were put at a mere $200. 
     Virginia didn't hold any state championships in 1943, '44 and '45 on account of the war. Their first championship after the war was in 1946 and it was won by L. Russell Chauvenet who had won it in 1942 and was to win again in '46, '47 and '48. 
     However, in neighboring West Virginia, Harold W. Liggett of South Charleston won the 7th annual championship that was held in Morgantown over the Labor Day weekend with a score of five wins and one draw. Liggett was hotly pursued in the 16 player event by Dr. Siegfried Werthammer who finished with a 5.0-1.0 score.
     With 18 players, it was the largest state championship to date and plus scores were turned in by William Hartling, Dr. Victor Lemke, Willaim Schaeffer and Frank Wisinski (4.0-2.0) and Richard Grim (3.5-2.5). It was hoped that with “the boys” back from the military that the next year's event would top 25 players. 
     The youngest player in the tournament was a 16-year old named Ariel Robinson who it was felt should be watched in succeeding years. He only scored one win and finished tied for places 16-18, but was reported to have given his other opponents a “tough tussle.”  Whatever happened to Robinson?
     Dr. Werthammer was born in Austria on January 11, 1911 and won or tied for first in the West Virginia championship a dozen times between the years of 1943 and 1965. Dr. Werthammer was chairman of the Pathology Department of Marshall University, serving in that post from 1975 until his retirement in 1978 at which time he became clinical professor emeritus. He also was chief pathologist at St. Mary's Hospital from 1942 until 1961 and at Cabell Huntington Hospital from 1955 to 1979. He died Jan. 1, 1983 in Sarasota, Florida. 
     He was mentioned in the 1952 case in the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, State vs. Comstock, concerning an autopsy he had performed.
     It was a criminal prosecution by West Virginia against Virginia Comstock who was indicted, tried and convicted for involuntary manslaughter. She was a registered nurse and superintendent of Barboursville State Hospital. The indictment stated that she "unlawfully did kill and slay Pauline Cook...” and was sentenced to be confined in the Cabell County jail for a term of six months. 
     The appeal states concerning Dr. Werthammer: “Without the least contradiction or contravailing evidence, this well qualified medical witness...” In the end, the conviction of Virginia Comstock was reversed, the verdict set aside and a new trial awarded.  
     In the following game Dr. Werthammer's opponent makes a small positional error and was smoothly defeated. 

Friday, January 11, 2019

The U.S. Open in Ticky Tacky Detroit, 1950

     When folk singer Malvina Reynolds wrote "Little Boxes" in 1962 (a tune popularized by Pete Seeger), she was satirizing California’s tract housing “all made out of ticky tacky and they all look just the same.”  But she just as easily could have been writing about much of the post-World War II housing in Detroit and its suburbs. 

     Detroit’s population peaked in 1950 at a little over 1.8 million and housing was scarce because the GI Bill’s home loan had made it easier for veterans to buy homes. Many people accustomed to renting were able to own a home for the first time, even if some cookie cutter homes resembled glorified dollhouses.
     These houses were designed by architect Wallace Neff who died in 1982 at the age of 87. He built expansive California country homes, suburban retreats and movie magnate showplaces that made him wealthy and famous.   He designed homes for Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks Sr., the Marx brothers, Frederick March, Joan Bennett and many more. 
     Neff also pioneered in the design of inexpensive, mass-produced bubble homes which were inflated reusable balloons sprayed with concrete. 
    Neff's Detroit houses averaged between 700-800 square feet and were virtual carbon copies of one another. “If you visited with a neighbor, you could walk into their house blindfolded and easily find the kitchen or bathroom,” a former Neff homeowner recalls. Though the properties weren’t very wide, they did have one benefit, he says. “The lots were narrow but deep, so the backyards could actually have gardens.” 
     Other than housing, in the 1950's Detroit was considered the Paris of the west in regards to architecture. It was the home of some of the greatest pre-depression architecture. The immense amount of wealth that entrepreneurs accumulated in Detroit during the 20th century led to buildings popping up giving Detroit unique and magnificent structures. 
     That was the backdrop for the 120 player 51st US Open held in Detroit, July 10-22, 1950. 
     The winner, 20-year-old Arthur Bisguier, had a good year. Besides winning his first U.S. Open, he shared first with Tartakower at Southsea in England in his first international tournament and he was awarded the IM title. Bisguier also played 10th board for the U.S. in the long forgotten radio match against Yugoslavia in which he defeated Ivkov by a score of 1.5-0.5. 
     Attendance at the U.S. Open had been poor in the past; the previous record was only 86 players, but this year was a record breaking 120. 
     In the first round Bisguier easily defeated Class A player Richard Kujoth, but in round 2 he was upset by local player Lester Spitzley in a R and P ending. Spitzley couldn't keep up the pace. He lost to Walter Shipman in the 3rd round and ended up in a tie for places 74-89 with a 5.0-7.0 score. 
    Then in the 3rd round Bisguier was held to a draw by an unknown player by the name of Elias Van Sweden. A 4th round victory over master Lewis J. Isaacs started his run at the title and a last round draw with Larry Evans clinched it.
     Pennsylvania master Herman Hesse's second place was something of an accident because of the vagaries of the Swiss system pairings. Hesse lost to Stolzenberg, Berliner and Le Cornu, but won all his other games. His victories over the players with plus scores came against A.J. Fink, David Hamburger, Jerry Sullivan, Gisela Kahn Gresser, Harlow B. Daly and Charles C Crittenden.
     The nine-way tie for third place included five former champions and a future one. 
     In the first round Herman Steiner was paired against a player named John Holt. Steiner's train was running six hours late and when he didn't appear on time, Holt started his clock. In those days the one hour forfeit rule was not in effect, so when Steiner arrived 90 minutes late he still had half-an-hour to make the time control at move 40. When Holt lost on time Steiner still had ten minutes left. Holt finished in a tie for places 66-73 with an even score. 
     Some of the players suffered a disaster on the way home. Jeremiah Donovan's car overturned on a rain-soaked road near Batavia, New York and four players were hospitalized in the Genesee Memorial Hospital (now United Memorial Medical Center): Bisguier (broken rib and a gash on the forehead), Shipman (broken ankle), Crittenden (fractured collarbone) and Evans (cuts and bruises). Hearst and Donovan were not injured. 

Plus scores: 
1) Arthur Bisguier 9.5-2.5 
2) Hermann Hesse 9.0-3.0 
3-11) Jeremiah F. Donovan, Larry Evans, Leon Stolzenberg, Weaver Adams, Walter Shipman, Robert Steinmeyer, Herman Steiner, Anthony Santasiere, George Kramer 8.5-3.5 
12-17) Hans Berliner, Maurice Fox, Albert Pinkus, Paul Poschel, Ariel Mengarini and Jack Soudakoff 8.0-4.0 
18-25) Eliot Hearst, A.J. Fink, Povilas Tautvaisas, Phil Le Cornu, Joseph Shaffer, Walter Grombacher, Robert Coveyou and George Krauss 7.5-4.5 
26-40) David Hamburger, Carl Hesse. Attilio Di Camillo, Elias Van Sweden, Max Guze, Howard Ridout, William Byland, Lewis J. Isaacs, Homer Jones, Jerry Sullivan, John Ragan, Lee Magee, Edgar McCormick, Karl Burger and Thomas Jenkins 7.0-5.0 
41-52) Edmund Nash, George Eastman, Gisela Kahn Gresser, Harlow B. Daly, George Miller, Alfred Ludwig, Rafael Cintron, Paul Adams, James T. Sherwin, Charles Crittenden, Howard Ohman and Rudolph Eckhardt 6.5-5.5 

     In the following game Weaver Adams (April 28, 1901 – January 6, 1963), the winner of the 1948 U.S. Open, suffers defeat at the hands of the man Arnold Denker described as “the Indiana Jones of chess,” Albert Pinkus.  
     Adams advocated his theory in books and magazine articles from 1939 until shortly before his death that 1.e4 wins first with the Bishop's Opening, then with the Vienna Opening. As was often the case, in this game he failed to prove his point. 

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Euwe Outplays Sargon

     Old time players will remember the program SARGON that was written by Dan and Kathe Spracklen. The name was originally written in capitals because early computer operating systems did not support lowercase file names. SARGON was introduced at the 1978 West Coast Computer Fair where it won the first computer tournament held for microcomputers with an undefeated 5-0 score. 
     As a result of this success the Spracklens began selling the program commercially. An ad in Byte magazine offered to sell photocopied listings that would work in any Z80-based computer or be converted to run on other computers. When magnetic media publishing became widely available, a US Navy petty officer, Paul Lohnes, ported Sargon to the TRS-80, altering the graphics, input, and housekeeping routines but leaving the Spracklen's chess-playing algorithm intact. After he contacted the Spracklens a TRS-80 (used a cassette tape!) version hit the market. Sargon II was ported to a variety of personal computers popular in the early 1980s and had improved greatly: multiple levels of look-ahead was the most important because it could be dumbed down to allow weaker players a chance of winning. It had a 1500 rating! 
     Sargon III was a complete rewrite from scratch and Video magazine listed the program third on its list of best-selling video games in February 1985. 
     While looking at some of Sargon's games I found the following game by Euwe to be quite instructive because it shows him using both sides of the board. He kept shifting back and forth until the strain of the defense became too much and black's position cracked. Most of us may well have confined our play to one side or the other and black might have been able to defend himself. 
     Compare with the Kupchik-Capablanca game from Lake Hopatcong, 1926. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Pillsbury Before He Was Famous

     Pillsbury was born in Somerville, Massachusetts on December 5, 1872 and moved to New York City in 1894. By 1890, having only played chess for two years, he beat noted expert H. N. Stone. Then in April 1892, he won a match by a score of 2-1 against World Champion Wilhelm Steinitz at Pawn odds. And, by 1895 he was among the world's best players as evidenced by his victory at Hastings in 1895. 
     He played in and won the 1st Tournament held at the Manhattan Cafe from December 9-23, 1893 in New York City. An article in the New York Recorder took note of his victory and noted that he had been playing chess since he was sixteen years old and seemed to have an inborn talent for the game. The article concluded that Pillsbury's career promised to be remarkable if, like Morphy and Steinitz, he allowed “his genius to be absorbed in chess.” 
     There was a 2nd City Chess Club Tournament held from October 20th through November 15th, 1894, but in this event he only managed an even score. This tournament was also significant since it was the first tournament since 1883 that had former World Champion Wilhelm Steinitz as a participant. In the second tournament Steinitz finished first a full two points ahead of Albin even though Albin defeated Steinitz in their individual game. Pillsbury had losses to Steinitz, Showalter, Rocamora and Halpern and was held to a draw by Hymes and Hanham. 

First City Chess Club Tournament 
1) Pillsbury 7.0-2.0 
2) Hodges 6.0-3.0 
3) Showalter 5.5-3.5 
4) Albin 5.0-4.0 
5-6) J. Baird and Halpern 4.5-4.5 
7) D. Baird 4.0-5.0 
8-9) Ettlinger and Hanham 3.0-6.0 
10) Delmar 2.5-6.5 

Ettinger forfeited his last two games against Delmar and Showalter because, as he put it, “I have to defend La Grippa at home.” 

     In the following game Pillsbury played the Stonewall Attack and it's a good example of how play often goes.  Delmar successfully defended against white's K-side attack and was close to winning, but it took a gross blunder to lose.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Lt. Col. George Kirkpatrick Ansell

     The January 1916 issue of the American Chess Bulletin had blurb from problemist Comins Mansfield the originally appeared in the Philadelphia Ledger stating, “As I am joining the colors, kindly address all further correspondence to my father in North Devon." 
     During Word War I, Mansfield was gassed in the trenches and temporarily blinded, but he survived to become a genius of the 2-mover. Mansfield (June 14, 1896 – March 27, 1984) was a chess problem composer. He was born in the village of Witheridge, England, the son of Herbert J. Mansfield, a long time correspondence player for Devon. 
     Mansfield was inspired by a 1910 article in the British Chess Magazine that contained chess problems and soon won first prize for a two-mover published in a Plymouth newspaper. For 45 years he was employed by a tobacco company and played OTB in local events with considerable success. 
     Not as fortunate was the much less well-known Lt. Col. George Kirkpatrick Ansell who was killed in the first days of World War I. 
     Born in 1872 near Portsmouth, England Ansell was the son of a soldier and joined the 5th Princess Charlotte of Wales’s Dragoon Guards and served in the South African War and commanded the 5th Dragoon Guards from 1911. 
     Ansell had been a composer and publisher of chess problems before he entered the Army, but after he was in the Army, composing gradually ceased in favor of his love of horses and polo, a game at which he excelled. Ansell also wrote part of the Cavalry Drill Book
     Early in the war, Ansell distinguished himself in action at Elouges, Belgium.  August 31, 1914 found Ansell’s men settled for the night in the small village of Nery, France. In the early morning of September 1st, a lost battalion of Germans blundered into them and fighting broke out. 

     Ansell’s unit was sent out to attack on the flank. In order to get a good view of the battle he rode to the top of a nearby hill which made him a target for the Germans. He was shot in the chest and died within 15 minutes, the most senior British officer to be killed up to that time.
     Ansell left behind a young son, Michael, who later joined the same regiment as his father, played polo and rode competitively. In France in March 1940, he was given charge of the 1st Lothians and Border Horse, becoming the British Army's youngest commanding officer. 
     Shortly afterwards, while retreating from the advancing Germans and hiding in a hayloft he was wounded in the hand and eyes by friendly fire when British troops thought he was a German. He was permanently blinded and later all four fingers on his injured left hand were amputated. He then became a prisoner of war and was repatriated from a German POW camp in 1943. 
     Being blind did not curtail his involvement with horses. From his home he became the driving force of British show jumping and equestrianism and helped make it a regular feature on television. 
     Here's one of Ansell's problems that appeared int the Manchester Weekly Times in 1893. White to mate in two moves. The solution can be found HERE

Monday, January 7, 2019

1951 U.S. Championship

     It was quite a year. Besides the fact that I started elementary school, the Twenty-second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified. It set a limit on the number of times an individual is eligible for election to President and set additional eligibility conditions for presidents who succeed to the unexpired terms of their predecessors. 
     In other news: Super glue was invented. Radio disc Jockey Alan Freed coined the term Rock N Roll. The first color TV pictures broadcast from Empire State Building in New York City. Speaking of television, MGM owed the dog who played Lassie $40,000 in back pay. In lieu of cash, they gave Lassie's trainer the rights to the name. In October the classic television show "I Love Lucy" debuted on the CBS. 
     Comedian Lenny Bruce was arrested for impersonating a priest when he stole priests' clothing by posing as a laundry man and then collected donations for a leper colony. 
     Joe DiMaggio retired at the end of the 1951 season. The first direct-dial coast to coast telephone call was made in November between the Mayor of Englewood, New Jersey and the Mayor of Alameda, California. It took about 18 seconds to connect the call using a direct distance dialing system. Dr. Carl Djerassi and a student successfully synthesized a key ingredient in the creation of the birth control pill. 
     The school board of Logan, Utah forced 7th graders to get tattoos of their blood type in case they were injured during a nuclear war.  The fact that the Russians were capable of launching a nuclear attack against the United States was a cause for concern where I lived even though we were 1,700 miles from Utah.  As school children we were shown training films and practiced diving under our desks and covering our heads in the event of a nuclear explosion. According to our teachers the Russians had a nearby (60 miles away) big city targeted so we had to be prepared. How they knew that I have no idea.
     In more serious news, the U.S. Navy committed the dastardly act of bursting balloons filled with serratia marcescens bacteria over San Francisco with the result that many people were hospitalized. Not to be outdone, the CIA was also engaged in their own experiments.  
     President Harry Truman fired General Douglas MacArthur as commander of the U.S. forces in Korea. MacArthur wanted to bomb Communist China into oblivion, but the President wanted only to halt the invasion. 
     In the U.S. the chess championship was in a mess. The championship had been held every two years since 1936 and even the war years hadn't interrupted it, but by 1951 the U.S.C.F. was having organizational problems as a result of their trying to fix what they believed to be a flaw in the championship. 
     They thought the 1948 championship proved something was wrong; the tournament was bigger, but the level of play wasn't up to par. Their “fix” was a three-year cycle of tournaments similar to the one that FIDE had just established to select the challenger for the world championship. 
     Remember, the rating system had just been put into effect, so many players didn't have one. Also, the system was based on results over the previous three years which meant many of the younger players were underrated. 
     The new plan was regional preliminaries were conducted in the first year's cycle. In the second year the regional qualifiers and seeded players met in a qualifying tournament and then in the third year the championship would be held. It sounded good, but for unknown reasons the U.S.C.F. failed to organize the qualifying tournament in 1950. 
     So, in an effort to salvage the train wreck, in 1951 they planned to hold an invitational with 50 players from across the country. The trouble was, it was too big and while many thought 24 players would be more manageable, there really wasn't much interest on the part of the players. Even the defending U.S. Champion, Herman Steiner, turned down his invitation. So did top players Arnold Denker, Reuben Fine and Isaac Kashdan. 
     Still, 24 players showed up and ground through an elimination tournament to select the top 12 for the finals. Some older players managed to qualify, some didn't: Alex Kevitz, who hadn't played in a championship since 1936 didn't make the cut; Milton Hanauer, who last played in the championship in 1940, made it through. The other old-timer was Albert Simonson, known a “Buddy” to his friends, also made the finals for the first time in 11 years. 
     Samuel Reshevsky was the clear favorite. After all, he had not lost a game in a championship tournament except the 1942 playoff match with Isaac Kashdan who had beaten him only twice in 11 games. Besides that, according to the new rating list Reshevsky far out-rated his rivals. Who was there that could challenge him? 
     It turned that 19-year old Larry Evans could. Evans had been the top scorer for the U.S. on the Olympic team the previous year in Dubrovnik and was ranked number 4 in the country behind Reshevsky, Fine and Horowitz. Evans' victory made him the youngest U.S. champion ever up to that time. 
     Herbert Seidman jumped out to an early lead with three straight wins, but he was upset in the fourth round by Evans, who adopted the then new Najdorf Sicilian and that was it for Seidman. Being the critic that he was, Anthony Santasiere complained when Evans played 6...e5, "I can never understand how they like P-K4 (i.e. e4 or ...e5) on the sixth move, but not on the first. But it is all the rage nowadays. In a certain sense chess is like measles." The dogmatic Santasiere was to get into a written feud with Evans years later when Evans showed disdain of Santasiere's hypocrisy for “talking like a tiger and playing like a Tigran (Petrosian).” But Evans did admit Santasiere had the heart of a Romantic even if he didn't have the games to back it up. 
     Evans held a slim lead up to the 7th round when Reshevsky's surprise defeat by Ariel Mengarini ultimately cost him a tie for first. I posted on Mengarini and that game HERE
     One interesting game that had no real effect on the standings was the Horowitz – Pavey game. 


     Pavey is winning easily and almost any reasonable move would win even if he missed the mate in 12 moves starting with 76...Kd6. Instead, Pavey, in attempting to simplify, played 76...Qxf3+ and after 77.Qxf3 Ra3 he wins back the Q and has an easy win. The fly in the ointment was that Horowitz played 78.Kh4!!. That meant that if Pavey didn't play 78...Rxf3 then white is left with a Q vs R ending which he can win without any great difficulty. So, he had no choice but to play 78...Rxf3 which is a stalemate. Batgirl has posted an excellent article on Max Pavey HERE
     Pavey died of radiation poisoning and it's interesting that in 1951 the maker of the famous Erector Set toy, Gilbert, was offering the Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab as a toy lab set. 
     It contained a cloud chamber allowing kids to watch alpha particles traveling at 12,000 miles per second and a scope showing the results of radioactive disintegration on a fluorescent screen. And, it also contained an electroscope that measured the radioactivity of different radioactive substances that came with the set. 
     Gilbert claimed the set wasn't dangerous, but did warn users not take the ore samples out of their jars because they tended to flake and crumble and you would run the risk of having radioactive ore spread around the house. The set originally sold for $49.50, equivalent to $520 today. 
     The set was never popular and fewer than 5000 were sold. Gilbert thought the reason was because the lab was only appropriate for those who had more educational background than the kids they were aiming at. More likely, it was the whopping price tag. In those days, even if a parent had the equivalent of $500 they weren't going to spend it on a kid's toy. 

1) Larry Evans 9.5-1.5 
2) Samuel Reshevsky 8.5-2.5 
3) Dr. Max Pavey 7.0-4.0 
4) Herbert Seidman 6.5-4.5 
5) I.A. Horowitz 5.5-5.5 
6-7) Sidney Bernstein and Anthony Santasiere 5.0-6.0 
8) Dr. Ariel Mengarini 4.5-6.5 
9) George Shainswit 4.0-7.0 
10-12) Milton Hanauer, Albert Pinkus and Albert C. Simonson 3.5-7.5 

   Simonson was a chess hustler and coffeehouse player who played many thrilling, if imperfect, games. His rout of Albert Pinkus in this tournament was given in my post on him HERE.  
     The following game between old rivals Al Horowitz and Samuel Reshevsky is unusual because Reshevsky sacrifices his Q for three minor pieces on move 11 then gradually outplays his opponent. Today it's a well known book line.  Chess.com has a couple of articles on a Q vs. three minor pieces by WIM Iryna Zenyuk HERE and HERE.