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Friday, June 25, 2010


This interesting game was played in round 2 of the US Championship in Oberlin, Ohio, in 1975. For reasons I don’t remember it was not played during the regularly scheduled time, but was played in one of the hotel rooms and I was there for the post mortem. I remember that at some point Vukcevich asked Grefe why he’d played a certain move and Grefe commented that he was trying to complicate the position. Vukcevich laughed and said, “You nearly succeeded in complicating me off the board.”

I’ve posted about Vukcevich before. Vukcevich’s obituary on the USCF’s website had the following to say:

As much as Milan accomplished as a player, composer and scientist, he will best be remembered for his love of life and friendly manner. While playing in the 1975 Ohio Chess Congress, I had a chance to see first hand what a standup guy Milan was. The overwhelming favorite to win, he was upset early by an A player from Cincinnati by the name of Perry Sill, who beat him with a book trap in the Schliemann Variation of the Ruy Lopez in 19 moves. Many players in this situation would have been very angry and stomped out, but Milan congratulated his young opponent and stayed in the tournament for the remaining rounds despite no longer having any chance to win the event.

I well remember the incident with Sill because I was playing in the event. I was in the hallway when Vukcevich came out shortly before the game was over and somebody asked him what happened. Vukcevich said that he got caught in a trap and there was nothing he could do, adding that he thought he would have to resign. Unlike a lot of players, if they had been in similar circumstance, Vukcevich did not show the least animosity.

His opponent, John Grefe, was odd character in those days. Here’s an old interview with him: READ
John Grefe in recent years

Grefe doesn’t play much anymore and 2007 he was trying to battle back from a very serious case of diabetes that caused him to be hospitalized for over 6 weeks. The last I heard of him he was playing in a small international tournament at the Mechanics Institute in California.

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