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Monday, November 15, 2010

Louis Persinger...

... (11 February 1887 – 31 December 1966) was an American violinist and pianist. Persinger trained at the Leipzig Conservatory, before finishing with Eugène Ysaÿe in Brussels. He became leader of the Berlin Philharmonic orchestra and the Royal Opera Orchestra in Brussels. In 1915 he was appointed leader and assistant conductor to the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. He succeeded Leopold Auer in 1930 at the Juilliard School, in New York.

He was best known as the teacher of the great violinists Yehudi Menuhin, Ruggiero Ricci, Isaac Stern, Camilla Wicks, Almita Vamos, Fredell Lack, and Louise Behrend. He was also Ricci's piano accompanist for many recitals and recordings.

Persinger was also a pretty good chess player. I was not able to locate a rating for him, but I would guess it was somewhere between 1800-2000. I have an old tournament book of the 2nd Hollywood Pan-Am played in Los Angeles in 1954. Persinger’s name and a few of his losses appear in the book. He finished tied for 57-60 out of 74 players with a score of 5.5 – 8.5. The event was won by Arthur Bisguier ahead of Larry Evans, Nicholas Rossolimo and Herman Steiner. He also played in Bobby Fischer’s first rated tournament, the 5th Amateur U.S. Championship held at Lake Mohegan in New York state.

In this game he really slugs it out with GM Dr. Reuben Fine in an 8-player simul. There were plenty of mistakes on both sides. Fine’s no doubt because he was moving quickly and Persinger’s because the position towards the end was a real mess. With the material imbalance and tactical possibilities in the position it was simply more than an average player could handle and Fine’s greater skill (and luck) carried the day. It’s really too bad Persinger lost this game because I can only imagine the thrill of what it would have been like to beat Fine in such a game.


  1. Man, I was searching for a cheap magnetic chess set and I found one from a second hand bookseller. It's the Killer Chess Boxed Set which can be seen at :


    Can you post your impressions about it ? The bookseller couldn't give me a clear description of this set, if could I'd be thankful. Is it worth ? Only for studying near my computer, its desk is small.

    Thanks a lot !

  2. The set looks OK. BTW I made my own peg set. Years ago I bought a small wood set with a 1” King and found a folding wood box about 8” x 8” that opened flat. The box was stained dark brown and for the white squares I used masking tape and trimmed them with a razor blade. A couple of coats of polyurethane coating and holes drilled in the center of the squares completed the board. Holes were drilled in the bottoms of the pieces and short lengths of coat hanger wire were inserted. It’s held up over 50 years.

    I am only familiar with King’s book which is in my collection. It’s one of those guess the next move books. King is an excellent writer. I had a similar book by the English player Leonard Barden long ago. It was frustrating only scoring in the 1600’s! After going through the book several times I was able to score 2000. Of course that was because I was remembering the games, but isn’t that what playing over games is all about? You start remembering patterns and ideas.

    In the introduction King wrote, “Studying openings is, at best, beneficial only in the short term. It is much better to look at complete games in order to get an idea of the overall strategy in different kinds of positions.” This is consistent with the advice I’ve been giving for years. Play over unannotated master games while trying to guess the next move will increase your pattern recognition skills and make you a better player. Books like Barden’s, Nunn’s and Pandolfini’s Chess Life column, Solitaire Chess, are fun and it’s the same idea.

  3. Dear Tartajubow, I must thank you very much for your kind answer. I think this boxed chess set fits like a glove.

    I've got surprised with your DYI experience while building your own chess set, man. Frankly speaking, I've never thought of making a chess set by myself ( maybe I'm not skilled enough, I think... LOL ).

    Moreover, I luckily downloaded your pdf booklet How To Improve at Chess. That's the sort of reading which makes difference for those interested in better playing chess.

    So, my most sincere thanks for sharing and keeping this blog so interesting. And, of course, for your goodwill in spending your time answering my question.

    Cheers from Brazil.