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Saturday, April 3, 2010

Chess Review January 1959 issue

I was just browsing an old issue of Chess Review, The Picture Chess Magazine, published by Al Horowitz. This was the best chess magazine available in the U.S. in those days; its quality far surpassing the USCF’s Chess Life. Chess Review offered the best correspondence chess available in those days and many of the days’ lesser masters played in their tournaments.

The EF for those postal events was $3.50 and was good for all three rounds if you qualified. First prize was $250, 2nd was $100 all the way down to $15 for 10th place. There also were 65 prizes of $5 each for finishing 11th to 75th. Qualifying for the finals got you a Golden Knights lapel pin even if you finished out of the money! I had about a half dozen of them tarnishing in a desk drawer for years before I threw them out.

Looking at the leader board for the 1952-3 championship event showed that I. Zalys was in first followed by Reuben Klugman. Both were otb masters and Klugman was the winner of at least one USCC championship. I think he was from New York City.

Further down the list were a lot of names that wouldn’t mean anything to anybody today, but I remember their names from the early 1960’s. I played a couple of them in later years and even came to know a couple personally having met them at otb events later on. I see the name of one new ‘postalite’ as we were called, starting out in Class C who later became a strong Maryland otb master. Starting out in Class B was a player named Bernard Zuckerman who a few years later was to become an IM and play in several international events and US Championships. He was known for his theoretical knowledge of openings.

1959 was the year I played in my first postal tournament with the Correspondence Chess League of America. I remember how excited I was when I got their information package in the mail. Prior to that I'd only played over games in books and a couple of school friends. The CCLA! Man, that was big time! I started out in Class C and lost my first game, a Bird Opening, against a player from Pittsburgh, in 9 moves when I played an early g5 and got mated. If memory serves I finished 4-2 in that event. It was these postal events that inspired me to convince my mother and sister to take me to Dayton, Ohio, two years later to play in the Ohio Junior Championship. I scored +1 -2 =2 and got an ititial rating of 1667. I still remember my first round game. It was a draw against a player rated 1802 which we both thought was solidly played until one of the other players pointed out my opponent had missed a mating attack. You know how one thing leads to another. This was the tournament that enabled me to convince my dad to part with $30 to buy me a chess clock for use in future events.

To continue…
The magazine cost $0.50 an issue and $6.00 a year. The front cover has a picture of Colombian master Miguel Cuellar giving a simul in Washington, D.C. His record was +32 –4 =11.

Holland Beat England in a match by 11-9. For Holland, Euwe beat Penrose, Orbaan beat Fazekas. On the English side, Clarke and Parr defeated Cortlever and Spanjaard.

OTB GM V. Ragozin of Russia (as it was called in those days) won the world CC championship with a score of 11-3 ahead of L. Endzelins and GM Lothar Schmid. Chess Review noted CJS Purdy was the previous champion (in 1953) and did not play in this one. The ICCF conferred GM titles on: Purdy (Australia), Malmgren (Sweden), Napolitano (Italy), Barda (Sweden), Ragozin (Russia), Endzelins (Australia) and Schmid (West Germany).

Three rounds of the US Championship had been completed and Larry Evans stood at 3-1 while Bobby Fischer was 2nd at 2.5-1.5. Other players were: Bisguier, Lombardy, Reshevsky, Sherwin, D. Byrne, Weinstein, R. Byrne, Benko, Kalme and Mednis.

Prior to the US Champ. Pal Benko had won the North Central Open ahead of masters Ivan Theodorovitch (Canada) and Povilas Tautvaisas. Stephan Popel, the defending champion was next.

The Eastern States Campionship was won by William Lombardy ahead of masters Weaver Adams, Lev Blonarovych and Saul Wanatek.

Many-time North Carolina Champion, Oliver Hutaff (who BTW was publisher of the Wilmington, NC newspaper) won the Raleigh 30-30 tournament. Expert David Steele, who was to crush me a few years later when I was stationed at the US Marine Corps Base at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, in another tournament in Raleigh, won the junior prize.

There was a letter to the editor from a doctor in Winter Park, Florida who suggested that we needed an American chess champion. His proposal was to have the winner of the popular TV game show, The $64,000 Question, take up chess, memorize two opening books, Chess Openings and Modern Chess Openings, then “then Russian masters would have to cower.” How naive was that?

The 1959 Glass City Open was being held at the Toledo, Ohio YMCA at the end of January. Entry Fee: $5.00. Trophy and half of the prize fund (which was 60% of the EF) was for first place. If a hundred people played (and that would have been a lot for Toledo) then first prize was $150. I lived in Toledo for a couple years after I got out of the military and knew the YMCA there quite well. How was it for a venue? Let’s just say Bobby Fischer would never had played there.

There was a reprint of an article appearing in Shakhmaty v SSSR written by a journalist/player who had visited New York the year before. He described his meeting with Bobby Fischer. At best Fischer appeared to be a pesky little snot who tried to wheedle the author into getting his games published in the USSR.

Regular columns by Dr. Max Euwe (endings) and Walter Korn (MCO editor on openings), and article on Tahl by Arthur Bisguier also appear. There was also Horowitz’ regular column featuring readers' games and Hans Kmoch’s annotations of games from recent events. BTW I once checked some of Kmoch’s annotations using Fritz and found them to be horrible; absolutely horrible. But in those days there wasn’t any Fritz and Kmoch was an IM, so who was going to question him?

John W. Colloins, Fischer’s early mentor also annotated readers’ postal games. The way Horowitz reported postal results can only be described as “quaint.” They read as follows: Kilmer conks Rothschild, Walters whips Patterson, Mortensen nips Neideman, Stephens stops Greenspan, etc.

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