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Monday, December 1, 2014

Hearst vs. Mengarini

     Not only was the 1954 US Championship one of the weakest ever (not counting those atrocious Swiss events of recent years) but it was the most poorly financed. It was also witnessed by a visiting delegation of Soviet Grandmasters who were to defeat the U.S. by a 20-12 score in a match a few weeks later.
     The USCF didn't have the money to hold the championship in a hotel exhibition room as it had previous championship tournaments and as a last resort the Marshall Chess Club offered its rooms to the 14 players. The eventual winner, Arthur Bisguier, 23 years old and fresh out of the Army, was attending college classes during the day and ended up sleeping at night in one of the Marshall's upstairs apartments.
     The field was relatively weak. Bisguier was eighth on the USCF's latest rating list, and Evans, the defending champion, was only tenth. None of the five top rated players, Reshevsky, Robert Byrne, George Kramer, Donald Byrne and Arnold Denker had accepted invitations. Evans and Bisguier were the favorites, but they were expected to get get some competition from French emigre Rossolimo, the Manhattan Chess Club champion Max Pavey and the latest Marshall Chess Club junior star, James T. Sherwin. As it happened 20-year-old Sherwin, ranked only 24th, did take the early lead after five lively rounds, but he was unable to sustain the pace. Despite his success in many European tournaments Rossolimo was not up to the task even though he had scored quite well in the recent US Open.

1. Arthur Bisguier 10-3
2. LarryEvans 9-4
3. Herbert Seidman 8-5
4-5. Max Pavey 7.5-5.5
4-5. James Sherwin
6-7. Sidney Bernstein 7-6
6-7. Nicolas Rossolimo
8-9. Hans Berliner 6.5-6.5
8-9. Saul Wachs
10. Eliot Hearst 6-7
11. Karl Burger 5.5-7.5
12. Carl Pilnick 5-8
13. Paul Brandts 3-10
14. Ariel Mengarini 2.5-10.5

     The following game is pretty messy and that makes it enjoyable. I should mention that many years ago as a teenager I met Hearst, who once wrote a column for Chess Life, and found him to a most pleasant fellow who kindly gave me his autograph when I asked for it.

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