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Friday, June 4, 2010

Bobby Fischer’s first US Championship win.

Soviet Master Alexander Ilyin-Genevsky was not among Russia’s very best (although he was skilled enough to be the three-time champion of Leningrad and to defeat Capablanca once in 1925), but he had the curious distinction of having to learn the game twice from scratch. A brain injury in World War I erased his memory of how the pieces moved.

This game was Fischer’s first win in a US Championship. Curiously his opponent, US Senior Master Arthur Feuerstein, was in a near-fatal car accident in 1972 that left him in a coma for 6 weeks. When he recovered, he didn’t know how to speak English that well or who his family was. Two things he had not forgotten were who his wife was and how to play chess. Unfortunately, after the accident he was never again able to play it well enough to be one of the countries top players. I played two postal games against Feuerstein in the US Open Correspondence Championship after he had recovered and suffered two interesting losses.

In the 1958 US Champ Fischer went undefeated and qualified for the Interzonal. It was also in this event that he played “The Game of the Century” against Donald Byrne. The final standings were:

Bobby Fischer 10.5-2.5
Samuel Reshevsky 9.5-3.5
James T. Sherwin 9-4
William Lombardy 7.5-5.5
Hans Berliner 7-6
Arnold Denker 6.5-6.5
Arthur Feuerstien 6.5-6.5
Edmar Mednis 6.5-6.5
Herbert Seidman 6-7
Dr. Sidney Bernstein 5-8
Arthur Bisguier 5-8
Atillio DiCamillo 4.5-8.5
Abe Turner 4.5-8.5
George Kramer 3-10

For some reason this game, in which Fischer shows how to conduct a K-Indian Attack against the French setup by Black, was played 10 days before the start of the tournament.

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