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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Saul Yarmak, 1953 U.S. Junior Champion

         In August 1953, Saul N. Yarmak (born Dec 18, 1933) won the U.S. Junior Championship, held in Kansas City. John Penquite and Martin Harrow tied for 2nd-3rd place. At the time Yarmak was listed as being from Passaic, New Jersey. The following year, 1954, Yarmak, by then a U.S. Army private, tied for 3rd-4th in the US Junior Championship.
     Yarmak played in the 2nd Pan-Am tournament held in Los Angeles in 1954. The event was won by Arthur Bisguier 11.5 – 2.5 ahead of Larry Evans (2nd) and Herman Steiner & Rossolimo (3rd-4th). Bisguier wrote in The Art of Bisguier, Vol. 1, that when he met Yarmak in round 13 they had an immediate personality clash. Bisguier thought Yarmak showed him no respect as reigning U.S. Champion or to other strong masters in the tournament. Bisguier thought he was a “egomaniac braggart who liked to criticize other players.” As a result, Bisguier offer Yarmak a side bet at 20 to 1 with draw odds that he (Bisguier) would win. Bisguier, playing Black, made good on his bet and won in 27 moves.
     In the 1957 California Open, which was the largest up until that time with 109 entries, had a three way tie for first: James Schmitt of San Francisco, Larry Evans of New York City and Yarmak, by then of Los Angeles. Schmitt was awarded the title on tiebreaks.

     On the early rating lists Yarmak was a rated master with a predilection for hypermodern play, but he apparently was one of those promising young players who all but abandoned chess to pursue a business career. He was an economics major from Los Angeles City College. Today he is financial manager at BXI in Las Vegas, Nevada and in the past served as an assistant treasurer for a title company.
     Yarmak returned to play in an occasional tournament from time to time, his last being in 2011. His current USCF rating is 1913.
     His opponent in this game was Robert Brieger.  Brieger passed away on April 26, 2012, at the age of 86 in Houston, Texas. He was born in 1925 and lived most of his life in Houston.
     Brieger had a B.S. in Mathematics from University of Houston in 1946 and obtained a teaching certificate in 1951. A chess player from the age of 17, he eventually achieved a master rating. 
     He was the author of many chess books and composed many endgame problems, played correspondence chess, was Houston City Champion and the recipient of many trophies from State and Southwest Open tournaments.
     Brieger taught math for brief periods in Houston and worked two years for Convair Aeronautics in San Diego, CA. He loved classical music, played clarinet in high school and university orchestras, later enjoyed attending concerts and opera. Also later in life he enjoyed all types of ballroom dancing. He loved classic movies and collected his favorites, especially winners of awards in Cannes and Venice, as well as Hollywood.

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