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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Richard Ling

      I recently bemoaned the fact that there is a paucity of information available about Ohio Chess players but in the process discovered a Blog that gave a tribute to this great Ohio player of the past.  I found it, of all places, on a sports Blog maintained by Expert David Friedman who is an eight-time champion of the Dayton Chess Club. In addition to blogging about the sports world Friedman has a large collection of interesting blogs on Fischer and chess in general.  Please check it out!  Mr. Friedman’s post about Ling can be read in its entirety HERE.
       Ling won the championship of the Dayton Chess Club the most times: Five titles between 1961 and 1973, including three straight from 1965-67. Ling claimed his final DCC title by beating Robert Lytle in a playoff match after they tied for first place in the tournament.
       Ling, who was the Ohio co-champion in 1962 and was known for three things: 1) A remarkable ability to rattle off moves quickly during severe time pressure; 2) an uncanny knack for saving bad positions (often while rattling off moves quickly during severe time pressure); 3) being a gentleman at all times.
       Friedman wrote of Ling, “I very much enjoyed competing against Ling and then analyzing with him after the games. He never once acted like my questions were stupid or bothersome. At first I was no match for him but eventually I was able to give him a decent game; inevitably, he would get into time pressure, I would move too fast and he would win.”
       “Ling never talked about why he always got into time pressure or how he so frequently managed to completely outplay his opponents once he got there. Several players frankly told me that the likelihood of ever running Ling out of time was very remote—and this was before the days of Chronos clocks and five second time delay. If you have a good position, don’t even look at the clock, they implored; play the best move that you can find and let him worry about your move and his dwindling time. Of course, they were right but this kind of advice falls into the “easier said than done” category, particularly for a young player who tended to play too fast anyway.”
       “Sadly, on December 11, 1989, he and his wife were killed in a car accident. The DCC Championship trophy was renamed the Richard Ling Memorial Trophy in his honor.”  
      In 1961 I played in my first tournament, the Ohio Junior Championship, which was being held at the same time as the Region 5 Championship in Dayton and I well-remember Ling.  At some point in the tournament Ling, who seemed very mannerly and polite, actually spoke to me when he said hello.  OK, so it wasn't a big deal, but at that time I had never met any real chessplayers and to actually have an Expert acknowledge my presence by saying, "Hello, how are you?" was a pretty big deal!  The fact that I still remember the incident 50 years later just shows you that sometimes a smile and a friendly word will go a long way.

Here is Ling’s game against GM Larry Christiansen from a 1980 simul in Dayton.

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