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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

1973 U.S. Championship

     For the first time in 25 years the U.S. Championship wasn't played in New York City; it was played in El Paso, Texas where it was sponsored by the local chess club and the Jaycees. The tournament was somewhat unique in that seven of the players were under 30 and were playing in the championship for the first time.
     Robert Byrne had declined his invitation in order to prepare for his candidates match with Boris Spassky and Reshevsky had also declined because he would be playing in the interzonal in Petropolis, Brazil. 
     William Lombardy cancelled at the very last minute - a telegram announcing his withdrawal arrived just before the first round began. That left Lubosh Kavalek and Larry Evans as the favorites.
     Walter Browne, born in Australia and the son of a Wall Street businessman, had come out of nowhere in the mid-1960s as the most promising U.S. junior since BobbyFischer. Browne, like Fischer, grew up in Brooklyn and honed his skills in the Manhattan Chess Club before he began winning a ton of junior titles and open Swiss tournaments.
     James Tarjan, a 21-year old humanities student from the University of California at Berkeley, was the son of a Hungarian- born psychiatrist and had been making a name for himself in West Coast tournaments. Tarjan had been working on a construction project doing hard physical labor and after work he relaxed with a chess set and a book on the Sicilian Dragon Variation. It paid off because he became one of the world's leading experts on the Dragon.
     John Grefe was a 25-year-old master originally from Hoboken, New Jersey, a vegetarian and follower of the Indian Guru Mahara-Ji.
     Another new player was a Northern Californian then living in New York City named George Kane. In 1972 he won the championship of the Marshall Chess Club in with a record score of 10.5 points out of 11 games and gained over 300 rating points, enough to qualify him for the U.S. Championship!

22nd  (1973) US Championship, El Paso, Texas
1. Kavalek 9.5 - 2.5
2. Grefe 9.5 - 2.5
3. Browne 8.5 - 3.5
4. Tarjan 7.5 - 4.5
5. Evans 6.5 - 5.5
6. Benko 6 -6
7. Karklins, A. 6 -6
8. Mednis 5.5 - 6.5
9. Bisguier 5 - 7
10. Gilden 4 - 8
11. Martz 3.5 - 8.5
12. Byrne, D. 3 -9
13. Kane 3 - 9
Kavalek and Grefe were declared co-champions.

Kane, an FM, was a professional player in the early 1970s. He represented the US in the Chess Olympiad in Skopje, Yugoslavia in 1972 but after his disaster in the 1973 championship he soon dropped out of chess. His highest rating was 2540. His last tournament was in 2013 in Minnesota where he finished in 2nd place with +4 -1 =4 and his current USCF rating is 2324. He authored a book titled Chess for Children in 1974. These days Kane lives in Minnesota and was a founding member of the Critical Thinking Club and is an active member of the Athiest Nexus Chess Club Group.

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