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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Weinstein vs. Reshevsky

    In the 1958-59 US Championship Bobby Fischer was a not only a grandmaster, but also an international star and the talk of world chess. He had won the previous championship with an undefeated 8 wins and 5 draws, finishing a full 2 points ahead of Reshevsky.

     No one had repeated as as champion in the previous six tournaments and in this tournament virtually all of the top-scorers of the previous year were back plus Robert and Donald Byrne and Pal Benko were in the line up. Born in France to Hungarian parents, Benko had become one of the leading European juniors during the mid-50s and was making a name for himself. Benko had been involved in the 1956 Hungarian revolt but was later permitted to play first board on Hungary's team in the 1957 Student Olympiad in Iceland - where he promptly defected. He originally landed in Cleveland Ohio, but not for long. He got into a snit because Cleveland players would not support him financially, so he moved on to greener pastures.

     Most invitees were chosen because of their rating or because they held the grandmaster title but in the 1958-59 tournament the USCF also invited the U.S. Junior Champion 17-year-old Raymond Weinstein, Arthur Bisguier's cousin.
     In the end Fischer was again successful, taking an undefeated first with +6 -0 =5 while Reshevsky again had to settle for second with +5 -1 =5; his loss was to Fischer and it was a real debacle! Fischer played a new but untested line on the white side of the Sicilian that he had used earlier in the year to defeat Bent Larsen at the interzonal at Portoroz. In the same tournament against Oscar Panno, it hadn't been so successful, but Fischer had done his homework; Reshevsky hadn't. As usual Reshevsky wasn't up on theory and relied on his instinct. Also, the line had been analyzed in depth in a recent Russian magazine which, of course, Fischer was familiar with. Reshevsky wasn't and ended up losing miserably. Benko, who everybody thought might be a serious contender, failed badly finishing in 8th place with a +1 -4 =6 score. Weinstein shared last place with Edmar Mednis, scoring +0 -5 =6. Here is an interesting game from the tournament.

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