International Master William G. Addison passed away on October 29, 2008. Addison was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on November 28th 1933. He moved to San Francisco in the early 1950s after growing up in Baton Rouge and serving in the U.S. Air Force. He was a low expert when he arrived in San Francisco (his first rating was ELO 2008) but in the next 15 years he developed into one of the strongest players in the US. . By May 1953, his rating was 2125 and by the end of 1953 it was 2209. By the mid-1960s, he developed into one of the top-rated players in the county.
He served as the Mechanics Chess Director in the late 1960s and played in several US Championships in the 1960s finishing as high as second which qualified him for the 1970 Interzonal in Palma. Addison played on two US Oympiad teams including the one with Fischer that won the silver medal at Havana 1966.
In 1953, he played in the 20th California championship and took 3rd place, behind Herman Steiner (1905-1955) and Henry Gross (1908-1987). In 1954, he won the Northern California Open and took 2nd place in the Golden Gate Chess Club Championship in San Francisco.
In 1955, he played in the 56th US Open championship, and tied for 20th place with a score of 7.5 out of 12. The event was won by Nicholas Rossolimo on tiebreak over Samuel Reshevsky. Later the same year he played in the 22nd California championship, held in Los Angeles, California, and in a strange occurrence, in the fifth round, he drew with Herman Steiner who died a few hours later of a heart attack and the California championship was cancelled.
In 1956, Addison’s USCF rating was 2244 and he had the mater’s title. In 1956, he took 4th in the California Open Championship and in 1956 he played in the Golden Gate Open in San Francisco and the California State Championship.
In 1957, he won the Mechanics’ Institute Invitational Tournament and in the same year defeated Samuel Reshevsky in an 8-game clock simul, held in San Francisco. Also in 1957, he played in the New Western Open, held in Milwaukee where he tied for 6th-12th place. The event was won by Donald Byrne and Larry Evans.
Also in 1957, Addison played in the 58th US Open championship, held in Cleveland, Ohio where he tied for 13th place with a score of 8 out of 12. The event was won by Bobby Fischer on tiebreak over Arthur Bisguier. The in September 1957, he played in the California State Open championship and tied for 7th-8th. In 1957 he also won the San Francisco City Championship and the Northern California Chess Championship. The latter victory qualified him for the California State Championship, but he did not participate.
In 1958 he was showing considerable improvement when he played first board for the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club in league play where he finished +7 -0 =2 and then scored an impressive 11-1 in the Golden Gate Chess Club Open Championship and later won the San Francisco championship. That same year he took 2nd place in the Northern California Open Championship and finished 2nd in the 25th California championship. By this time he was the 19th rated player in the US with a rating of 2363. By comparison Reshevsky was rated 2713 and Fischer 2626.
In 1960, he took 1st place in the Palo Alto Open and in the 27th California championship he tied for 3rd-4th with Irving Rivise, behind Zoltan Kovacs and Sven Almgren. In August 1961, he played in the US Open (won by Pal Benko) where he tied for 5th-6th.
In 1962, he scored a perfect 6-0 to win the Hamilton AFB Open in California. In 1962, he won the Southern California Open, the California Closed championship in San Francisco, the Fresno Open and the Santa Monica Open, took 2nd place in the California Open. By this time his rating had climbed to 2408.
In 1962-63, he played in his first of five US championships where he tied for 3rd place with Larry Evans and Samuel Reshevsky with the score 6.5-4.5. In 1963, Addison was in a play-off with Samuel Reshevsky and Larry Evans to determine who would qualify for the 3rd position in the next Interzonal. The play-off was held in Los Angeles and Reshevsky won. In 1963, Addison took 2nd in the Herman Steiner Chess Club championship.
During 1963 and 1964 he taught chess under a grant from the Piatigorsky Foundation to minority students in the Watts area of Los Angeles and to disabled children in the Los Angeles schools.
By the end of 1963, Addison’s rating was 2462 which qualified him to play in the US chess championship where he only scored 3.5-7.5, tying for 9th place with Edmar Mednis (1937-2002). This was the event where Fischer scored his perect 11-0.
In 1964 Addison played in the Masters’ Round Robin of the Herman Steiner Chess Club where he scored 1+10 -0 =1 and picked up the $250 first prize money. Later in 1964, after winning a couple of minor open events, he played for the US in the Chess Olympiad, held in Tel Aviv, where he scored +7 -1 =1 and won a bronze medal as second reserve. His rating was 2501.
In December 1965, he played in the 17th US chess championship tying for 4th place. He drew with Fischer in the 1st round and defeated Larry Evans in round 2.
By1966, his rating was 2535 and he ranked number 7 in the US. He played 1st reserve board, scoring +5 -4 =0 and then in December played in the US championship, finishing in 6th place drawing with Fischer and defeating Benko and Reshevsky.
In 1967, he played at Maribor, Yugoslavia and tied for 9th-12th place. This event fulfilled the norm for the International Master title. In October 1967, he tied for 1st with Dr. Anthony Saidy in the Santa Monica International tournament. At the end of 1967, his USCF rating was 2503 and he was ranked 7th in the US.
In 1968, he played at Reykjavik, hoping for a grandmaster norm, but tied for 8th-9th place and he was invited but did not play in the 19th US Championship. By this time his rating had peaked at 2501 but began to fall of and by the end of the year it was down to 2456.
In June 1969, he tied for 1st place with Larry Evans in the 2nd Strawberry Open and won the Northern California Championship with a 5-0 score. In December 1969 with his USCF rating standing at 2491 and ranked number 7 in the US, he played in the 20th U. Championship and took 2nd place, behind Samuel Reshevsky with a +6 -2 =3. This qualified him for the 1970 zonal tournament along with Reshevsky and Benko. Benko gave up his slot and allowed Fischer to play, which he won. Benko became Addison’s second at the Interzonal.
In Pal Benko: My Life, Games and Compositions, Pal Benko wrote, “I remember being Addison’s second at the Palma de Mallorca Interzonal. His one ambition was to finish ahead of Reshevsky but he failed, ending up half a point behind Reshevsky. We were looking at his adjournment against Portisch and he complained, saying that I was finding all the good moves for his opponent!”
In 1970, he played at Caracas, Venezuela hoping for a grandmaster norm but only finished in 11th place. On the plus side, he defeated USSR champion Leonid Stein (1934-1973) and drew with Junior World Champion and Grandmaster Anatoly Karpov. Later that year he competed in the 8th FIDE Interzonal Tournament in Palma de Mallorca, scoring 9-14 and finishing in 8th-19th place.
Benko also wrote in his book, “As it turned out, his wife only agreed to marry him if he quit chess. After this, Addison vanished from the chess scene.” This was wrong! Addison was already married, and his wife never made that demand on him. When Addison went to Palma de Mallorca it was with the idea that if he did well, he would continue with chess, but if not, he would not continue his chess career and he later decided he wanted to put down roots and not travel anymore.
It was in 1970, with a USCF rating 2478, at the age of 37, he quit chess after returning from Palma de Mallorca. He felt he had gone as far as he could go in chess and wanted to devote himself to his family. He became a taxi driver in Daly City, California. Later, he landed a banking job and took banking courses. By that time Addison did not even own a chess set except for a small pocket set that he rarely used. He still followed chess to some extent, but played over the games in his head. When Addison played in the US Championships, his “trade marks” were his pipe and three piece suits. His record in five US chess championship tournaments was +19 -16 = 20 and his record in two chess Olympiads was +12 -5 =1. He was also a very strong Go player. On October 29, 2008, Addison passed away of cancer in San Francisco. He was 74 years old.