The initial plan was to have the Rosenwald Trophy rotate each year until a player had won it three times. The fourth Rosenwald tournament would double as the US championship and would be Fischer's first entry into a US championship and also his first of his eight US championships.
Rounds 1-5 were held at the Manhattan Chess Club 19-23 Dec 1954 and were directed by Hans Kmoch. Rounds 6-10 were held at the Marshall Chess Club 26 Dec 1954 - 2 Jan 1955 and were directed by Al Horowitz.
Reuben Fine was originally invited, but declined. Robert Byrne was also invited, but decided against playing because of his graduate studies. James Sherwin, the US speed champion at the time, was selected as Byrne's replacement.
Reshevsky dominated US championship tournaments from its inception in 1936 until Fischer took over in 1957, with Reshevsky winning every championship he entered, the exception being in 1951 which was won by Evans.
Larry Evans won the Marshall Chess Club championship at age 15, played in his first US championship at age 16, and his first Olympiad at 18. Evans had won a US championship in 1951 ahead of Reshevsky. Evans was a stronger player than most people realize, but his style was plodding and uninteresting. He was also a popular columnist for Chess Life magazine and an author of a few crappy books, including the one, Trophy Chess, from which this game was taken.
Arthur Bisguier won the US Championship in 1954 and has enjoyed success for decades in US tournaments.
Donald Byrne won the 1953 US Open and played for the US team in three Olympiads, winning one individual silver and one individual bronze medal. He is most famous for losing to Bobby Fischer in the "Game of the Century" in the third Rosenwald tournament. Byrne (June 12, 1930 – April 8, 1976) was not as strong as his older brother Robert and did not play nearly as much, preferring to devote his time to his profession. He was a professor of English at Penn State University from 1961 until his death, having been invited there to teach and to coach the varsity chess team. He died in Philadelphia of complications arising from lupus and was inducted into the US Chess Hall of Fame in 2002.
James T Sherwin was NY state champion in 1951 and won the US speed championship several times. He would play in a number of US championships, usually finishing just outside the top spots.
George Kramer played in a number of US championships and was a reserve for the US team at the 1950 Olympiad, winning an individual bronze medal.
Reshevsky jumped out to a comfortable lead in the first half of the tournament with 4.5-0.5. Evans and Sherwin were tied for second at 3-2. Despite losing to Bisguier in Round 8, Reshevsky was able to hold his lead and win the tournament by scoring 3-2 in the second half, as Evans was only able to gain a half point with 3.5-1.5. Sherwin lost every game in the second half, so faded from contention. Bisguier was able to finish third on the strength of an impressive 4.5-0.5 in the second half.
Openings in this tournament were, for the most part, a boring menu of K-Indians and Nimo-Indians with a smattering of QP openings and Retis with a few Sicilians and Frenchs thrown in.
One happy exception was the following Budapest Gambit by Bisguier. Happy for Reshevsky and the spectators, but Bisguier was almost unrecognizable.