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Monday, May 5, 2014

Larry Evans

   Larry Evans (March 22, 1932 – November 15, 2010), grandmaster, author, and journalist was awarded the IM titlein 1952 and the GM title in 1957. In 1956 U.S. State Department appointed him a "chess ambassador".
    Evans won or shared the U.S. Championship five times and the U.S. Open Championship four times. He wrote a long-running syndicated column and wrote or co-wrote more than twenty books on chess. Evans, born in Manhattan, learned much about the game by playing for ten cents an hour on 42nd Street in New York City.
    At age 14, he tied for 4th–5th place in the Marshall Chess Club championship and the next year he won it outright, becoming the youngest Marshall champion at that time. He also finished equal second in the U.S. Junior Championship. At 16, he played in the 1948 U.S. Championship, tying for eighth place at 11½–7½. Evans tied with Arthur Bisguier for first place in the U.S. Junior Chess Championship of 1949.
     By age 18, he had won a New York State championship as well as a gold medal in the Dubrovnik 1950 Chess Olympiad. 1951, he first won the U.S. Championship, ahead of Samuel Reshevsky and won his second championship the following year by winning a title match against Herman Steiner. He won the national championship three additional times: in 1961–62, 1967–68, and 1980.
    Evans performed well in many U.S. events during the 1960s and 1970s, but his trips abroad to international tournaments were infrequent and less successful. He won the U.S. Open Championship in 1951, 1952, 1954 and tied with Walter Browne in 1971. He also won the first Lone Pine tournament in 1971.
     In the 1960s, Evans moved to Reno when he discovered he had another talent: counting cards. According to Frank Brady, “He had a memory that he built up from chess. He could memorize cards, and he wasn’t making any money from chess in those days. Nobody was. He made a lot of money and he kept getting banned from casino to casino.”
     His best foreign results included two wins at the Canadian Open Championship, 1956 in Montreal, and 1966 in Kingston, Ontario. He tied for first-second in the 1975 Portimão, Portugal International and for second-third with World Champion Tigran Petrosian, behind Jan Hein Donner, in Venice, 1967. However, his first, and what ultimately proved to be his only, chance in the World Chess Championship cycle ended with a disappointing 14th place (10/23) in the 1964 Amsterdam Interzonal.
     Regarding his style, Evans was willing to take risks in open tournaments against weaker players but that did not work as well against the best players. Evans was closely associated with Bobby Fischer in his quest for the world title and was Fischer's second for the Candidates matches leading up to the World Chess Championship 1972 against Boris Spassky. As a result of a disagreement, he did not serve as Fischer’s second during the actual championship match. At his peak in 1968 he was rated 2631. By the age of eighteen he published David Bronstein's Best Games of Chess, 1944–1949 and the Vienna International Tournament, 1922.
     His book New Ideas in Chess was published in 1958 and wrote or co-wrote more than 20 books on chess. He is probably best known for his contribution to Fischer's My 60 Memorable Games in which he wrote the introductions to each of the games and for convincing Fischer to publish the book he had initially been reluctant to do so.
     Evans began his career in chess journalism during the 1960s, helping to found the American Chess Quarterly and was an editor of Chess Digest during the 1960s and 1970s. For over thirty years, until 2006, he wrote a very popular question-and-answer column for Chess Life. He also wrote Evans on Chess which appeared in more than fifty separate newspapers throughout the United States. Evans also contributed a large amount of material to the Chessmaster computer game. He was inducted into the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame in 1994. Many of Evans’ book received wide acclaim, but chess journalist, Edward Winter found and published many errors contained in his writings.
     On Monday, November 15, 2010, at approximately 3 p.m. Evans died at Washoe Hospital in Reno, Nevada, from complications following a gall bladder operation.
Washoe Hospital

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