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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Isaac Kashdan and Correspondence Chess

      Few are aware that GM Isaac Kashdan (19 November 1905, New York – 20 February 1985, Los Angeles), the man who was known for being a powerful tactician, but whose real strength was in the ending, being very strong with the two bishops and who was once considered a possible challenger to Alekhine for the world championship, was also a postal chess player early in his career.
      In the late 1960s the Correspondence Chess League of America was in financial difficulties, but Louis D. Statham, known for his sponsorship of the Lone Pine tournaments and also a Class A CCLA postal chess player, stepped in and agreed to pay for the printing of the Chess Correspondent at his plant in Southern California if Kashdan, his personal friend, became the editor. The editor, Don Reithel, graciously stepped down, so in August 1969, Kashdan became the new editor. Kashdan was paid $250 a month for his efforts ($1590 in today’s buying power). In the fall of 1970, thanks to the Fischer Boom, the CCLA was in pretty good shape financially so Statham, though he continued to play postal chess with the CCLA, withdrew his financial support and Kashdan’s tenure as editor also came to an end.
      Kashdan played a “fair amount” of correspondence chess after he learned the game, claiming it was excellent training and undoubtedly speeded his development. The game below, against the captain of his high school chess team, was played less than three years after he had learned the moves. Kashdan said he was a “fair” OTB player in high school, but far from the best player. Unfortunately, I have been unable to uncover any other postal games by Kashdan other than this one which was originally published in the Chess Correspondent.

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