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Friday, October 7, 2011

Bisguier at Bled 1961

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       Last month marked the 50th anniversary of the gigantic 1961 Bled internatinal tournament.  The tournament at Bled, then Yugoslavia, now Slovenia, was held during September and was one of the strongest tournaments of all time. Among its 20 participants were former World Champion Mikhail Tal, who finished first, a point ahead of 18 year old Bobby Fischer.  Fischer finished ahead of such greats as Petrosian, Keres, and Gligoric. Fischer scored his first win ever over Tal.
       Most players of today know GM Arthur Bisguier (born 8 October 1929) as a gregarious old fellow who, at the age of 82, is still playing chess and who barely holds a master’s rating.  What most of them don’t know is that Bisguier won two U.S. Junior Championships (1948, 1949), three U.S. Open Championships (1950, 1956, 1959), and in 1954 won the U.S. Championship. Bisguier also qualified for two Interzonal tournaments (1955, 1962) and in 2005, the USCF named him "Dean of American Chess".
      Most of Bisguier's play after the mid-1960s was limited to U.S. events and for many years, he played in towns throughout the U.S. giving exhibitions to popularize chess and the USCF and was the representative the USCF chose to send to play at hospitals, colleges, or prisons, so the public could get a chance to play the Grandmaster and former U.S. Champion.
       In his heyday he was a very strong play and while never a “world class” player, his strength put him just below that elite group. The Bled tournament was one of Bisguier’s despite finishing +5 -7 =7 and tying for 12th place with Donner and Olafsson he defeated Keres, Geller and Najdorf. He is a member of the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame.
       In the following game, Bisguier met Keres, who happened to be Bisguier’s first chess idol, in round three where Keres suffered his only defeat in the tournament.

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